Journal Regulars columnist Jim Wharton of Sioux City takes you along on a 14-day bus trip to 10 different Major League Baseball stadiums and games this month.
June 13 Pittsburgh, Pa.
Just when you thought you had seen the best at Comerica Park in Detroit, today we parked the motor coach, a.k.a. bus, at PNC Park on the banks of the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh. We will be visiting ten stadiums on this 14-day tour and PNC was the one stadium I really wanted to see. It did not disappoint.
Our seats were midway between third base and left field. The view straight ahead was simply incredible. Beyond the right-center-field fence, a yellow pedestrian bridge spans the Allegheny River. The Pittsburgh skyline is spectacular. The photo included with this blog does not do it credit.
The game itself was always compelling. Pirates ace Gerritt Cole wasn’t his best but the Buccos still hung on for a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Philly skipper Ryne Sandberg has a lousy team. You wonder if Sandberg wishes he would have landed in Wrigley instead of Joe Maddon.
Now to the report card:
My concessions consultant Mark came with an appetite today. His early dinner at the ballpark included a cheese steak sandwich with an order of what they call “crab fries." Mark reported the sandwich was very tasty while the fries were very different than what you’d see in the Midwest. Frankly, I think they were just regular fries with a scoop of crab spice sprinkled on top. But when Mark attaches his imprimatur to food, we sit up and listen. He is a grizzled veteran when it comes to food.
I went old school at the concession stand. Many of you know of my Polish heritage. Pittsburgh has a large concentration of Poles and this is the first time I’ve seen perogies served at a baseball stadium. A perogie is a small pasta shell filled with cheese and potato. $5 gets you five perogies. I ate two of the five and shared the other three with my motor coach, a.k.a. bus, mates. The local brew is Iron City and it went down well in the humid Pittsburgh heat. IC Light was $8 for 16 ounces. I have the hunch the beer isn’t going to get any cheaper as we move further east.
Mark's concession grade A
We arrived at the park 90 minutes before game time and were able to walk all the way down to the first row along the third-base line. The ushers were polite and accommodating and let us move to that area without issue.
Service reps were everywhere. All very nice and accommodating,
Customer service grade A
Take me, Lord. I think I’ve seen the prettiest baseball stadium in America. The people in the Burgh did it right.
Stadium grade A+
MY FAVORITE THINGS AT PNC
• The view.
• The Iron City beer.
• Our motor coach mates from South Dakota who have included their Iowa travelers on baseball’s version of a golf skin game. Concession consultant Mark proved to be very good at this new entertainment diversion and now has enough money to buy a Niagara Falls snow globe when we visit the Falls tomorrow.
• The very nice lady from Pittsburgh who sat by me and, after hearing me explain our two-week odyssey, continued to tell me, “Honey, you’re nuts."
No game Sunday. A full-day split between Niagara Falls and then a four-hour stop at baseball’s cathedral (compelled to interject my Catholicism into this note as it is Sunday and I have no idea how I am going to get to mass) – the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
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Good night from the Steel City - Pittsburgh, Pa. - and thanks for reading.