Thursday, August 2, 2007

Playing Hooky With My Dad

Thursday, August 2, 2007
PNC Park in Pittsburgh, home of the Pirates. It's just like the fabulous stadiums of yesteryear.

On the way home from work last night I was listening on the radio to my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates playing the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. As the Bucs were thrashing the Redbirds, the announcer said something that totally changed the course of my 'today.'

"The Buccos play the Cards tomorrow afternoon at 12:35 pm. Still plenty of great seats available!..." My ears pricked up and my brain started rolling over the idea....

I'd been wanting to take Phoebe to a Pirates' game--it would be her first professional baseball experience. And I'd toyed with the idea of taking my dad to a game in celebration of his upcoming birthday. I'd at least check out the possibility once I got home.

At home it was all systems go. I got the tickets (Club Level seats with access to air conditioning--crucial for my dad who HATES the heat.) Got permission from all sources, including Ground Control in Whipple. Laid out my nerdy-fan-o-rama Pirates jersey and hat to wear to the game.
Outside PNC Park, posing with the statue of The Great One, Roberto Clemente.

Phoebe was way stoked for the adventure, and so was Pop-Pop (as Phoebe calls him). Despite a latish start and bad traffic just south of the 'Burgh, we made it in time for the first pitch and even stayed through the extra innings to watch the Pirates emerge victorious, 5 to 4.

The best hitter in baseball, the amazing Albert Pujols, future Hall of Famer. Too bad he plays for the Cardinals.

If you've never been to PNC Park in Pittsburgh, it's an amazing stadium. And I'm not just saying that as someone who suffered through 30 years of attending games at the cavernous and cookie-cutter Three Rivers Stadium with its lime-green Astroturf. PNC is a baseball fan's dream stadium.
The Pittsburgh skyline towers behind the outfield walls at PNC Park.

I always take binoculars to baseball games, both to see the action up close and to watch for the birds of serendipity. Today's ballpark bird list: American crow, ring-billed gull, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, rock pigeon, mourning dove, house sparrow, chimney swift, European starling.

Our Club Level seats turned out to be a huge blessing--beer, food, AC, bathrooms only steps away. Only two things that could have made it better would have been to see my dad's name up on the Jumbotron with Happy Birthday wishes, and a nice, soft foul ball I could have caught and given to Phoebe.
Pirates Fans in the hot sun.

Still it was a blast to play hooky from work on a hot summer afternoon and go to a baseball game. I used to do this often in summer when I lived in Baltimore and worked alone in an small office. The Orioles stunk, Memorial Stadium was scary, and the bleacher seats were only a few bucks. All I needed to hear Jon Miller or Joe Angel or Chuck Thompson say was "Still plenty of great seats left for today's game!" And I was gone.

On the way home Dad and I talked and laughed and told stories, while Phoebe relaxed in back and polished of the final Harry Potter (or is it Horrid Potty?) book.

It was wonderful to have my dad all to myself for a few hours. He's an amazing man. I think today was as much a present for me as it was for him.
Moments later the Pirates scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning. High fives all around.


On August 3, 2007 at 1:05 AM Lucy said...

I enjoyed this post today - I grew up in Pittsburgh and have vivid recollection of going with my Dad to see the Bucs play at Forbes Field, long long ago. I still love baseball to this day, despite all its problems.
Moved away from Pittsburgh before PNC Park was built but I will get there at some point - I hear it is an outstanding ballpark.
Beat em Bucs!

On August 3, 2007 at 6:28 AM Jayne said...

What a very fun day! Playing hooky is indeed a wonderful thing.

On August 3, 2007 at 8:30 AM Rondeau Ric said...

We should all play hooky once in a while. We need the memories.

Happy birthday to your Dad from your Canadian connection.

On August 3, 2007 at 8:36 AM mon@rch said...

What a fun day for sure and love your bird list from your hooky day! When I lived in Pittsburgh many years ago, 3 rivers was always the best place to find night hawks! I wonder if they are still around their?

On August 3, 2007 at 9:23 AM Patrick Belardo said...

Great stuff! My friend and I visited PNC Park in June. It was gorgeous. What a backdrop. I love that upside-down U-shaped building. You gotta love the pierogi races too. And I can't believe they won... :)

On August 3, 2007 at 10:00 AM dguzman said...

Beautiful ballpark pics! No doubt you'll all have great memories from your hooky day.

On August 3, 2007 at 10:01 AM Birdfreak said...

Pittsburgh has perhaps the best looking stadium and setting... but I am a lifelong Cardinals fan and was not too pleased with their poor play...

Love the pic of Pujols... he truly is the best hitter in baseball!!

On August 3, 2007 at 10:39 AM Corey said...

Another member of the Cardinal Nation disappointed in the play of the Redbirds of late but I do agree that the new stadium in Pittsburgh is a beaut. Was there with my dad last summer to see the Cards win a couple. Glad you got to have the same experience.
Cool post!

On August 3, 2007 at 2:46 PM Butmonky said...

My late grandmother was from Pittsburgh--actually the first female baby born in Homestead. She used to end her prayers before dinner with "Beat 'um Bucs" --she was 93 at that time!!! If it wasn't baseball season, she prayer for Arnold Palmer. Glad you all had a wonderful day.

On August 3, 2007 at 8:25 PM KatDoc said...

How sweet! I misted up, reading about you playing hooky with your Dad. I wish mine was still alive, so I could take a day off to spend with him. It is the little things you miss the most.

My early years were spent living near Steubenville, OH, where the Pittsburgh Pirates were the "local" team. Grandpa loved baseball, and I remember him best sitting at the kitchen table, listening to aball game on the radio.


On August 3, 2007 at 11:32 PM RuthieJ said...

What a fun day for the Thompson 3! I can almost smell the popcorn!