“They do exist”- Fans flock to PirateFest 2010

 

PirateFest 051.JPGSunday was one of the greatest days of 2010. After an enjoyable night of enjoying the college lifestyle on Saturday, the action continued Sunday morning. A few buddies of mine hopped in my Nissan Versa and trekked up I-79 for the hour long journey to Pittsburgh.

 

VIPpf.jpgPirate Fest opened its doors at noon, we arrived around 12:30. The snaking line extended well past the gates, a surprising sight for my friends Marc, Jared and Richard.

PirateFest 028.JPGThe cost of admission was originally $12 bucks, however we caught a break. A father with a son had four extra “VIP” passes  (which literally meant nothing) he sold them to us for $5 dollars. Scalping tickets to Pirate Fest? Heck yeah!

We rushed to the autograph line where we first hit former Pirate El Roy Face, pitcher Charlie Morton and catcher Ryan Doumit.

PirateFest 034.JPG They’re nice young guys and Jared’s two favorite Pirate players.

Later in the day we came back for another round of autographs.

Firstbaseman/right fielder Garrett Jones and third baseman Neil Walker signed along side another former Pirate in Jim Rooker. It looks like Penguin Sergei Gonchar joined in on the festivities. The Pens were actually playing across town, hosting the Red Wings. Many fans adorning Penguins gear were at the fest and the Penguins won in an epic shootout. The game was playing on an HDTV at a booth.  

PirateFest 050.JPG

Although the lines were fairly long, we waited in the lines for nearly an hour each time, it was a fun time. We talked to some cool people around us and I got major flack from an elderly man for wearing my Barry Bonds jersey.

One of my favorite parts of Pirate Fest are the memorabilla tables.

PirateFest 037.JPGThis table was filled with just Roberto Clemente stuff. From cereal boxes to buttons to an autographed baseball with a 10,000 dollar price tag. I cam away with a cool Pirates poster from the 90′s, a 1989 game program and some packs of 2010 Topps baseball cards.

Pirate Fest is also a great time to meet some very cool people associated with the team.

 

PirateFest 043.JPGI did meet him on Tuesday but seeing Andrew McCutchen rocking out on Guitar Hero was pretty cool. The guy in the black Cutch shirt was getting owned by the star centerfielder. I think this is a cool picture, considering their both rockin’ the 22.

PirateFest 046.JPGOne of the most bubbly, entergetic and fun people associated with the Pirates is Joe Klimchak. He is famous for his commercials for the Pirates where he mimmicks the “Shamwow” guy. They are very funny and do the job. He is also the in-game host at PNC Park. He hosts the between inning shin digs and brings a good vibe to the ballpark.

The best moment of the day and perhaps my entire life around baseball was meeting General Manager Neil Huntington.

 

PirateFest 045.JPGIt was a very personal time with Jared and I speaking to the GM for a good five minutes. He was standing in the concession stand area just mingling with some fans. He was very genuine and came across like a strong minded individual. After getting a cool snapshot I gave an ill attempt at a joke saying “We just made a deal and I’m the new fifth starter.” Neil really didn’t laugh and Jared just thought I was stupid. It was a good segway into a discussion regarding who the fifth starter for the Bucs. It is a race between Kevin Hart and Daniel McCutchen-he talked highly of both and really believes the competition will bring out the best in the two young guns.

Jared brought up his former affiliation with the Cleveland Indians, Jared’s favorite team. He is excited for manager Manny Acta to take over and think he deserved the job. He made a point that Terry Francona and Joe Torre were not successful in their first two managerial positions and that the change of scenery will be good for a younger manager with potential.

Talk around Pittsburgh has been heated with Pirates debate. It was reported that Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle have made an offer to Pirates owner Bob Nutting in an attempt to buy the team. It is a hot button issue that probably won’t go anywhere but it has given Pittsburghers false hope. I’m torn on the matter, obviously the Pens are a better run franchise and Mario may perhaps be the face of Pittsburgh sports history. However, because of the market size and baseball regulations, not much would change. It would be cool to have a Pittsburgh cable sports channel broadcasting the Pens/Pirates and other local teams to bring in more revenue than FSN Pittsburgh does already.

While I did not want to bring this up when talking to Mr. Huntington he did cite a similiar position. He said the key for small market teams is too avoid injuries as well as big, bad contracts. While it is easy to say with Lemieux/Burkle the Pirates could spend more money, will they spend it wisely? I don’t just want millions thrown at top free agents to lock them in for multiple years. Currently, Neil is allocating the money properly stocking up with high level prospects who the Pirates have control over for many years at a small cost. It is a risk, but will prove to be rewarded just a few years down the road.

Now that the ownership tangent is over, we made two more stops in the ‘Burgh. Here are pictures from our Steel City travels.

panther.jpgReaders, you know my disdain for the University of Pittsburgh, it is well-documented. We rode into the Oakland section of Pitsburgh and had a self guided tour of the campus. We walked through the basketball arena and stopped by the famous Cathedral of Learning. I hate to say it, but Pitt is a very nice campus. However, it is my civic duty as a Mountaineer to hate everything regarding our bitter rivals. On Wednesday the Panthers come to Morgantown for a battle of top ten college basketball game.

PirateFest 058.JPG

Before departing back to the Mountain State one final stop had to be made, PNC Park. I honored Willie Stargell the only way I knew how, bowing down. Pops would have been a great player to watch back in the day. He is one of three Pirates honored with statues, with a fourth on the way. It was announced at Pirate Fest that a Bill Mazeroski statue will be erected later this season.

 

PirateFest 062.JPG

The field was just feet in front of me but the dang metal bars were seperating me from happiness. It was still a cool moment enjoying PNC Park at its calmest. It truly is the most beautiful park in baseball and to be able to regularly attend games here is an awesome feeling. I am spoiled that this is my home park and I can watch a major league baseball games at a great price in a beautiful setting.

 

With February upon us and winter nearly over, actually its not but hey, we can hope, that could mean just one thing.

 

opening day tix2010.jpgOPENING DAY IS JUST TWO MONTHS AWAY! (bought my tickets at Pirate Fest)

I wasn’t the only proud Bucco mlblogger enjoying the fest, check out these blogs for more about the weekend event.

http://kristylovesherbuccos.mlblogs.com/

http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com/

http://section316.mlblogs.com

19 Comments

It sounds like you had a lot of fun. Of course, I love the pictures, especially the ones that you are in!!
http://catlovesthedodgers.mlblogs.com

Matt,
Woohoo! You are going to see the Dodgers against your Pirates! An actual ticket! We have not gotten ours in the mail yet. I get soo excited when I open my package. I smell them just like in the movie “Fever Pitch.”
I was lucky enough to watch Pops play. Way to honor Pops!
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/

Very cool! I dig your pill box Pirate cap, the Bonds jersey, and McCutcheon on Guitar Hero? He should talk to Tigers pitching staff (they had some GH related injuries a few years back).
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

How cool that you got to talk to the GM – and have your picture taken with him. (What I wouldn’t give for five minutes with Brian Cashman.) I didn’t think your joke about being the fifth starter was stupid. I thought it was hilarious!

- http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

YEA!!! COOOL!!! sorry, I have to live vicariously through you, my bloggerhood neighbors during these FanFests. My DodgersFan-MetsOwner doesn’t have one. He doesn’t like his employees having direct contact with us Plebs.
But those are some hot pics! Looks like u had a blast.
http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

Hey!Thanks for the comment. It looks like you had fun at Piratefest as well. It sure did make me excited for the season to start. Are you going to spring training? Us, Pirate fans on here are a rare breed so keep in touch. Thanks for the shoutout. Once i figure out how to work this page better I promise to add you as well. Take care!
Kristy

Thank you for checking out and commenting on my blog.
I love you enthusiasm for baseball!!
You show really well how much you love your Pirates.

We had pretty much the same kind of thing going on in Boston a couple of weeks ago. Part of the fun is that you get to meet the new and up coming players.

I’m am much older and have loved Baseball for a long time, My Red Sox will always be number one to me, but I love most of the teams (yankees excluded).
Hope your team has a great year!
Noni

Our Dodger Caravan is today and tomorrow. I can’t wait.
http://catlovesthedodgers.mlblogs.com

That is awesome how you got to meet the Neal.
http://clevelandbaseball.mlblogs.com/

Looks like fun! I wish the Phillies would do something like that in the offseason. They did it one year with 4 players and never tried it again :O( Glad you had a good time!

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Well…I gotta say, the Penguins’ ownership has done a pretty good job with some of their picks…maybe they could combine the franchises? I could see, say, Fleury as a CF…kidding, kidding.
Ooh, and Ohlendorf as a defenseman!!
Sorry, got carried away, and Roberto Clemente is the face of Pittsburgh sports history (at least as I see it).
Awesome Pirates hat!! It’s very much in the spirit of the team name.
I wish every fan had as much spirit and faith in his team as you do!

Matt, I didn’t make it to Piratefest this year. It was the first time in awhile, but it sounds like you had an awful good time.

Jon
http://www.mceffect.com

Sounds like a lot of fun, Matt! I wish I had a “FanFest” in my neck of the woods to go to. The nearest to me is the Braves.

Matt,
Loved the picture of you bowing to the Roberto Clemente bronze statue.
Hope you made sure to cruise extra slow across his brdge and bask in the view of the river below.
Seriously, sounded like a fantastic time and kudos on getting the VIP Passes.
I have to wait another 18 days for our Fan Fest, and might just sit mostly in my Season Ticket seat the entire time since it is just beyond the signing tables.
Great post.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Great entry. I wish to see the Pirates back. I really miss the legendary team from Pittsburgh. By the way, my most precious card is a Roberto Clemente rookie card from 1955. Its book value is 2,200 dollars. I think I have a pirate treasure…Everybody knows my team is Boston, but ever I love the Bucs. Congrats for your great blog.
Antonio
http://mediasrojas.mlblogs.com

That’s when my spring break is as well. I think i might take a long weekend and maybe just miss thur class. I’m so indecisive. Hopefully you get a chance to go! How long does it take you to get to pittsburgh from wvu? I grew up in East Liverpool. I know youngstown/Boardman area very well.

Matt, I’m jealous! It looks like a blast. Like Jenn said, I wish the Phillies did something like this. I always remember Jim Rooker as the announcer who, after the Pirates scored 10 runs on the Phillies in the top of the 1st, said he would walk home if they ended up losing. Phils won, 15-11. I imagine he doesn’t like to talk about that too much. :-)
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

dude, love the old school hate and jersey. good stuff.
bonds, i remember him. skinny little guy who used to play for the Pirates, right?
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

If the Pirates were to take any management tips from Pens, it would be to get good luck with #1 picks? Crosby, Fleury and Malkin were practically gift wrapped for them. A return to those retro hats might be start for the Pirates.

http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/

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