As you drive over the Roberto Clemente Bridge in downtown Pittsburgh, you can't help but stare out the window in awe at the architectural marvel that is PNC Park. The bridge acts as a time warp between the modern city skyscrapers, and the retro themed ballpark the Pittsburgh Pirates call home.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are a major league baseball team that competes in the National League's Central Division.
Pittsburgh has a pretty rich baseball history if you travel back in time a bit. The Pirates have five world titles to their credit, one of those coming during the playing days of the "Flying Dutchman" himself (Honus Wagner, one of baseball's greatest players of all time). They have over thirty players/managers in the Baseball Hall of Fame with a number of those wearing a Pirates cap on their plaque. Barry Bonds, baseball's all time home run leader came up with the Pirates and played his first seven seasons with the team.
The Pirates have had trouble commandeering wins from 1992 to the present, having had a record 19 straight losing seasons through 2011. They have always been a small market team, not able to pay the big dollars to acquire free agents; a strategy employed by division foes such as the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Led by general manager Neil Huntington, the Pirates focus on drafting and developing homegrown talent that they can keep cost controlled for a number of years. Some of that cost controlled talent is beginning to pay dividends, and things are beginning to look up for the Steel City's ball club.
Honus Wagner statue outside of PNC Park — Photo courtesy of autiscy
The Pirates currently play their home games at PNC Park. The stadium was first used for play staring in 2001 and has been consistently rated as one of baseball's top ballparks. Gazing into the outfield, one can see the entire Pittsburgh skyline complete with the Roberto Clemente Bridge (formerly the Sixth Street Bridge) crossing over the Allegheny River. To date, only one ball has been hit directly into the river during live game action, so don't plan on renting kayaks and fish nets in hopes of coming home with some game used balls.
Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen rounding third — Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
Checking out a Pirates game is a must for anyone visiting the Pittsburgh area. The combination of a great stadium and a young hustling team on the rise is sure to excite the young and old fans of the game. The current roster is centered around star center fielder Andrew McCutchen, whom the Pirates drafted in 2005. He recently signed a contract keeping him in town until at least 2017, showing his dedication to the team and his trust in the leadership of management.