Baseball and The Open Road, Part 5, PNC Park


Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I woke up in West Virginia.  The fourth of July was a day off for me on my baseball roadtrip, and Grant and I used the day to travel up from Atlanta towards Pittsburgh and to get some much needed rest.  When we woke up the morning of the 5th we got back on the road and sometime after lunch arrived in Pittsburgh, PA.  On the advice of some twitter friends, I decided to stop by Station Square on the south side of Pittsburgh before the game.  Grant and I parked and enjoyed lunch at the HardRock, strolled around the Station Square area and I had a few adult beverages knowing that I wouldn’t be back behind the wheel until after the game.

Around 5pm we walked over to the Gateway Clipper Landing (also on the recommendation of a twitter friend) and got ourselves onto a boat to head over to PNC Park via ferry (Parking at the ferry landing was like 6 bucks or something, but after the game they opened the gates and let us out for free). PNC has been on my list of ballparks to see for a few years, and of all the places I’m going on my trip, PNC has been the place I have been most excited to see.  To make a long story short, PNC did not disappoint.  We took the ferry up the river and around the bend, it took us right up to PNC Park and Grant and I headed over to the stadium to see what we could see.

PNC Park is nestled into Pittsburgh almost perfectly.  The views from around the stadium are spectacular.  From behind homeplate you get a view of the Roberto Clemente Bridge and the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh.  It’s BEAUTIFUL.  Target Field has some nice downtown views, but PNC Park takes the cake.  Awesome.  I couldn’t quite capture the magic in a photo, so those of you who are interested will just have to head out to Pittsburgh and see for yourselves.  It’s worth the trip.

Grant and I had lower level seats, section 7, row L, seats 9-10, and it was worth the couple extra dollars to sit close to the playing field.  We were just up the line and behind first base, and had a great view of the huge scoreboard in LF and we were close to the Primanti Brothers food vendors located on the first base side of the stadium (a must stop/eat for all first time visitors to PNC).

The Pirates were hosting the Astros for the last game of a four game series and the home team was looking for the sweep.  Jeff Karstens pitched 8 impressive innings and throwing only 89 pitches, allowing only 4 hits while recording 8 K’s.  The Astros offense looked pretty bad, and with the recent departure of Carlos Lee, there’s just not a lot going on for Houston offensively.  Oofda! Karstens took care of business, the offense gave them just enough and Joel Hanrahan came on in the 9th to record the 2-0 save (although he did manage to walk 2 batters before recording the final out) and the Pirates completed the four game sweep of the Astros.

In addition to the Primanti Brothers sandwich that I scarfed down, I also saved room for a hot dog so I could continue my hot dog rating challenge as I cross the country.  PNC Park offers a few different varieties of hot dogs, a jumbo dog, a foot long dog, and a couple different sausages, but to keep things fair I went with the standard hot dog, and coming in at only $3, it would have been hard to pass up anyway.  The PNC hot dog was pretty standard, but the concession stand did offer unlimited chopped onions, relish, jalepenos and ketchup/mustard. I, of course, piled on the condiments (except for ketchup, who puts ketchup on a dog? Yuck.) and enjoyed myself a good hot dog.  It wasn’t good enough to dethrone the Miami Marlins hot dog, but at half the price it’s hard to argue against the Pittsburgh hot dog.

Roberto Clemente jerseys were everywhere in Pittsburgh.  At least 50% of the jerseys/shirzeys that I saw were for Clemente, another 30% for Andrew McCutchen and then 20% random others (with a surprising number of Neil Walker jerseys). Clearly Clemente is a big part of the baseball history in Pittsburgh, and rightfully so.

As Grant and I were leaving the stadium we were discussing which stadium we had enjoyed the most so far on the trip.  My heart is still in Atlanta and Turner Field, but PNC Park is a very close second.  Grant thought that PNC Park was better, and I don’t have much of an argument.  As we boarded the ferry to take us back to our car, PNC Park and the Roberto Clemente bridge were sparkling in the background.  PNC is definitely the most beautiful stadium I’ve ever visited, and seems to be in perfect union with the city that surrounds it.

This afternoon Grant and I will be heading West to Cleveland to check out Progressive Field and watch the Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays.

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