At about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and started making our way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This would be our first over-night road trip of the season.
I was really looking forward to this trip. We’d been to PNC Park before. In fact, in September 2007, it was our first ever father-son over-night roadtrip (and Tim’s first night ever away from home without mommy). But we’d never really explored the place. So that was part of the plan.
We had a blast chatting with each other and playing “I spy” and other driving games as we crossed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania…
- I always enjoy the drive across PA because there are several long tunnels through “mountains” (if you were on the west coast you’d call these “hills”…mountains have snow at the top).
- The rest stop in the bottom left had special parking spots for “low emitting fuel efficient vehicles” like my Prius. But when we returned to our car, we found a Hummer H3 parked next to us in the “green” parking spots. Weak, Hummer driver. Weak!
- Tim LOVED our hotel room, which we got for a great price on hotwire.com…our first time ever using it.
It rained a lot during the day. But we headed to the park early in hopes of seeing BP. On our way over to the “River walk” entrance in LCF field, we snapped some pictures of Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente…
When we arrived, the River walk was open…
…but the rest of the stadium was only open to season ticket holders. From the River walk, I could see the tarp covering the field. No BP. We killed time watching boats in the river and birds flying all around the River walk.
Half an hour later, we were behind home plate taking in this soggy afternoon view:
Soon, Billy Wagner came out of the dugout and started signing autographs right by the OF end of the dugout. We were about 40-50 feet further toward RF.
At the time, Billy was sitting on 389 career saves, one behind Dennis Eckersley and number 6 on the all-time career saves leaderboard. After signing some autographs, he headed to RF to play catch. On his way by, I got him to take a picture with Tim…
…as you can tell by his big smile, Billy was really nice. He was very happy to meet Tim and pose for a picture. And he got a kick out of our Mariners shirts and hats. Tim was proud to announce that “We like the Mariners!”
After signing one of our tickets…
Then, Takashi Saito came back out to RF to play catch again. Thanks to another MLBlogger (thanks, Nao), I know a few Japanese words, one of which is a polite way to say “excuse me.” As Saito approached us, I told Tim to say “excuse me” in Japanese and, if Saito looked our way, to ask him for a baseball.
As Saito passed, Tim called out, “Sumimasen!” Saito quickly looked over with a surprised smile and Tim asked him for a baseball. As he continued to RF, Saito showed us the fronts and backs of both of his hands as to say “Sorry, I don’t have one.” No problem. It was pretty cool just having him react positively to Tim’s tidbit of Japanese.
Saito then played catch with Kenshin Kawakami in RF as his interpreter watched them. When Saito and Kawakami finished playing catch, Saito headed back toward the dugout. On his way, he looked our way and then headed over to a teammate (Cristhian Martinez) who was stretching nearby and asked him for the baseball resting nearby in his glove.
When I saw this, I told Tim, “He’s getting you a baseball!” It was awesome. Tim’s request was going to work! Saito got the baseball and started walking over to us.
Then The Weirdest Thing Happened!
Out of nowhere, we hear someone on the field yell “HEY, SEATTLE!” I looked out to RF and saw that it was Billy Wagner. Billy held up a baseball and then fired a perfect strike to my chest right as Saito was approaching us with the other baseball!
I caught Wagner’s baseball as Saito watched on. I yelled “Thanks!” to Billy and then showed the baseball to Saito. We smiled at each other and gave each other a mutual “wow, that was weird” expression and I thanked Saito for the gesture. He then headed back to the dugout with the baseball he’d grabbed from Martinez.
A few minutes later, Wagner headed back to the dugout and I asked if he would sign the baseball he’d given to Tim. He grabbed the ball and pen and knelt down next to Tim again and said, “I’ll sign this baseball for you if you give me a big “GO BRAVES!”” Tim complied with a big “Go Braves!” Wagner laughed at Tim and declared, “You’re too easy!”
He then explained to me how he was going to sign the ball (as in, where on the ball). I said, “do it however you want!”, which was funny because 2 second later another guy handed him a baseball and said, “Can you sign it on the sweet spot?” (we’re not very demanding with our autograph requests).
Anyway, here is a picture of Tim a few seconds after getting the ball from Wagner…
Hey, it was time to play some catch outselves!
Then, it was time to explore. I had an idea I’d been planning to do for a long time. Now was the time. It required us to walk to the LF upper deck. On the way there, I took this gloomy panorama over the visitors’ dugout:
The plan was to take pictures (hundreds of pictures) while we circled the stadium and then to make a 360 degree stadium video from them. You can see the finished product in our last entry.
By the way, the time stamp on our first 360 degree picture was 5:27 p.m. and the last picure was taken at 6:30 p.m. So, subtracting the 15 minute telephone call I had with my wife right as we made it into the field level behind the 3B dugout, it took approximately 45 minutes to take the 700 photos used in the PNC360 video.
Here is a panorama from the spot where I took the first of the PNC360 photos:
My original plan was to go all the way around the upper deck. But I was aiming my camera at the (tarp covered) pitchers mound, which made it so the Pittsburgh skyline was cut out of the pictures. So I cut diagonal down through the LF foul upper deck seats. However, do to this, I needed to get into the Pittsburgh Baseball Club seats at the lower portion of the upper deck. This is a special club for which you need special tickets — we didn’t have them.
Luckily, I did have a supercute kid. I tried to sweet talk our way into the club so we could go take pictures cutting diagonal through the seats. The lady working the door explained, “I wouldn’t let you do this, but he is just so cute.” So Tim’s cuteness got us in. I took a couple pictures in there but it is so dark they didn’t come out well. This is the best shot I got inside the club:
After passing through the club, we headed to the field level and took a hard-induced break. While I chatted with the wife on the phone, I took Tim’s Garrett Jones give-away action figure out of its box and gave it to Tim.
To put it mildly, he loves that action figure…
Hour an a half rain delay…
Check out the concourse as we went to get nachos…
Everyone was hiding from the rain.
After nachos, it was time for ice cream helmets:
Tim couldn’t look at me and smile for that picture because they were showing a bugs bunny baseball cartoon on the jumbo screen. By the way, the price and choices of real ice cream (or soft serve) at PNC Park were outstanding. The “Pirates Buried Treasure” ice cream was ridiculously good…and Tim loved his mint chocolate chip.
As we sat in our pre-game ice cream seats (section 119), I took this panorama:
Here is the view from the concourse in LCF behind section 138:
By the way, these are the general admission seats in LF. There are a couple rows of “reserved” outfield seats in front of these seats. How about another panorama? This one is from between sections 337(left) and 336 (right):
The Pirates came back with two of their own in the fourth on an RBI triple by Lastings Milledge and a sacrifice bunt by Cedeno.
We left the LF standing room area in about the 5th inning because a drunk Pirates fan was being excessively loud (in non-family friendly language) in his pointless taunting of a Braves fan (I’m not sure the Pirates have done enough to give their fans license to taunt…anyone).
Anyway, Tim wanted to explore the spiral ramp in LF and the upper deck. So we were off.
First, we checked out legacy square where Tim posed with some stars of the old Negro League:
Anyway, if you are at PNC Park check out Legacy Square. Can see little grey terminals next to each statue? Those are little TV screens where you can run a program that will tell you about each of these men. Very cool, Pirates. Good job.
Then we were off to the upper deck. Here is a panorama from the spiral ramp:
Here’s a random shot of the batters’ eye and bullpen from the spiral ramp:
I like this shot from the top of the ramp because it shows various levels of the ballpark…
Here is a random view of the upperdeck showing the pennants for the Pirates World Series Championships…
Its a nice view from up in the upperdeck. Tim was taking it all in:
…who I personally rank as one of the most overrated players in the game. He was given a No. 1 starter contract by the Braves, but his career record is only 147-121 (with 85 career saves). Don’t get me wrong, I’d personally take a 147-121 big league career. But he’s no Randy Johnson or _________ (insert the name of any other true No. 1 pitcher).
Tim was getting super-tired by around the 6th inning, which was making him more and more excited. Eventually, he ran into a handrail (bumped his head) and that was enough upper deck for him.
On our way back to the LF spiral ramp, Tim had to show me the most “adorable baby spider” out in the concourse. Then we ducked back into the seating area to take this panorama from section 235:
After the race, I snapped this picture of thie “PIRATES” plants in the CF batters eye:
Very briefly we headed back to the standing room area in LF. That’s where we were when Jason Jaramillo grounded weakly to future hall of famer, Chipper Jones:
We decided to go to RF to watch Heyward play the field. Tim was on my shoulders as we took the pictures for this panorama:
With sleeping Tim on my shoulders and a backpack full of rain gear, sweat shirts, long sleave shirts, extra t-shirts, two huge Garret Jones action figure pictures and who knows what else, my back was about to break under the extreme weigh.
So we took off early.
We missed Billy Wagner coming into the game and tying Dennis Eckersley in the all-time list with his 390th career save.
We walked to the car and I changed Tim into some night time sleeping cloths. He was still out. Then as we drove to the freeway, Tim woke up and asked “Is the game over?” He was a little upset that we left early, but he explained “I ran out of my energy.”
So we drove back to our hotel for the night. It was a good first day and game of the weekend roadtrip. We’d be back at PNC Park the next day for another game and we were already looking forward to it (and hoping the forecasted rain would stay away).
2010 Fan Stats:
9 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
6 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Pirates, Mets, & Nationals)
16 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Braves)
5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
5 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
4 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)