Thursday, August 20, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Pittsburgh. The Steel City. The City of Bridges. The home of the Steelers, the Penguins, and the Pirates. The City of Champions.

By the time the 60's arrived Pittsburgh was ailing, choking on the pollution spewing from the steel mills that lined the three rivers of this proud blue collar town. With the dawn of the conservation movement the City cleaned itself up and now stands as a proud testament to a greener society and outstanding city planning.

As a western Pennsylvania native Pittsburgh is my town. It's sports teams are my teams. I'm not a big hockey fan but I always root for the Penguins. I am a football fan and there is no pro team like the Steelers. They line up week after week to play down and dirty football. They are rugged and tough and gritty, a mirror image of the steel workers who love them. It is one of my fondest wishes to attend a Steeler game at the new Heinz Field. I'm adding it to my bucket list. Anyone out there with a spare ticket or two please take note!

And then there are the Pirates. Year after year they toil in obscurity near the bottom of the National League Central Division. This year is no different. I still love them. I remember cheering for Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazerowski and Willie Stargel. Oh the glory days. I hadn't attended a professional baseball game in over 20 years and I had forgotten just how much fun they are.

That changed this year and we headed to the City to root for the Pirates and get a closer look at the new facilities. Prior to game time we spent a most enjoyable evening strolling the River Walk that meanders along the Allegheny River connecting the two newly constructed stadiums. We tried our hand spinning the wheel of fortune just inside the Pirate's PNC Park. We came away winners with a baseball cap and a Manny Sanguin bobble head doll tucked under our arms.

We took our most excellent seats behind home plate and settled in for the evening. What a show we witnessed. There were singles, doubles, and more home runs than I can recall. Foul balls bounced around us and the Pirate Parrot danced on the dugout.

There was drama at home plate. Safe or out?

That would be safe thank you, and another run scored for the home team. The Pirates outdid themselves on this balmy August evening, racking up one for the win column and sending the fans home happy. What is more satisfying to loyal fans than a hard fought victory?

As darkness fell on the stadium Pittsburgh's skyline came to life over the center field wall. It was the perfect backdrop for a hot summer night.

(Although I wish someone would have turned on the air conditioning for us!)

P.S. Em...this one's for you.

Until next time, hopefully from the cool north woods!


jodi said...

The skyline at night is impossibly breath taking...and your pictures make it all the more glamorous!
Your seats were not tell the boys!

Anonymous said...

My grandmother loved the Pirates, and was on a radio first name basis with all the greats you mention. Mazerowski was Little Maz to her, and when Clemente went down in that plane it was like a member of the family had died to her. Once in a great while my uncle took her into Pittsburgh to see a real game. Most of the time it was just the radio and her.
What a well written post, great pics, and a clear personal emotional investment in your subject. I love it.