of 2008, Dad and I brought our Ballpark Tour to Cleveland and
was a strange trip. We landed in Cleveland on a Monday, got in
our car, and immediately drove to Pittsburgh. Then, after two
nights there, we checked out of our hotel on Wednesday morning
and returned to Cleveland for the last day and night before leaving
early on Thursday for home.
yet, amazingly enough, after considering some of the chaos and
travel, this trip is likely the one that will most resemble our
future trips in the quest to see a ballgame played in ever major
league baseball stadium. We have previously journeyed to Fenway,
Wrigley, Camden Yards, Shea and Yankee Stadium. This time though…
it wasn’t a day trip (Boston, New York)… it wasn’t a trip we had
both made with another purpose to it and a ballgame tossed in
(Baltimore)… it wasn’t a “see the Sox play the Cubs at Wrigley”
journey with alot thrown in (I feel compelled to say Chicago and
continue what I started, but since I said Wrigley I would hope
you know it was Chicago).
time we deliberately sought out the stadium tours available at
PNC Park and Progressive Field. We used lessons learned mainly
during the Chicago trip to give us a few local attractions we
would be looking at for sightseeing or meals. And… amazingly smart
to do, always there in some way before, but really contributing
this time… we asked people we met where they would go if they
were us. In Cleveland we found The Winking Lizard thanks to this
approach… in Pittsburgh we walked across the Sixth Street Bridge
into the city for lunch.
this particular travel log, things are a bit different. All of
this… from the travel to the companion columns that will focus
on each ballpark… means no traditional diary for you, and no single
list of good and bad. Instead, here are some of the things we
really enjoyed in Pittsburgh and a few thoughts to go along with
each one. Just a simple list of things we enjoyed.
city of Pittsburgh was absolutely filled with surprises… great
surprises… unexpected surprises. From the moment you exit a tunnel
to find yourself in Pittsburgh through an amazing array of sections
and neighborhoods that just dazzle the mind. Heck, Dad and I were
impressed with Market
Square… and the city unveiled plans to revive
that area after we visited.
park tour – PNC Park
Our tour was with a great young girl named Kate. She was enthusiastic
about leading our group (and about the Pirates). She was knowledgeable
about things and impressed our group… not easy considering we
took the tour with a couple of other old-timers, who, like Dad,
were capable of going way back over decades of trivia while readily
recalling names. And, her socks (alternating stripes of black
and yellow) led to a great conversation about how all professional
sports teams in Pittsburgh use the same colors. (Seriously… that
had never occurred to me before.)
tour covered all of the major areas of the ballpark… press box,
club levels, and indoor batting cages. I’ll leave some of the
great other details for the next section… because PNC Park may
be the best ballpark in major league baseball today.
Outside of PNC Park are three statues… Honus Wagner, Willie Stargell,
and Roberto Clemente. (You already knew that. And if you didn’t…
those are the three you probably would have guessed. There is
one for Bill Mazeroski on the way.) These statues are part of
the charm at a brilliantly designed ballpark.
take Clemente. His statue faces into the stadium… effectively
allowing him to watch right field, his regular playing position.
His number… 21… is found in the height of the outfield wall in
right field, which rises 21-feet. In other words, the history
is there, in amazingly subtle and wonderfully appropriate ways.
view of the city is breathtaking… and just a beautiful feature
at night. It is as gorgeous a sight as you could possibly imagine
for a baseball field.
then there’s Legacy Square and a Negro League exhibit (including
the Legacy Theater). There are statues commemorating some of the
greats, with interactive displays. Words fail me on this one.
Maybe it was because the park wasn’t busy once the gates opened
for the game… allowing us to not only enjoy some of this area
during our tour, but also after we arrived that night… it is simply
not to be missed in a visit to the park. For something built inside
a baseball stadium, it is a tremendous element.
enjoyed this park as much as any we’ve been to. It may not have
been the most exciting and lively… sold out and loud, so to speak…
but when it comes to including everything there aren’t many that
could claim to have done it any better.
We drove along Grandview Avenue and stopped a couple of times
to take in the sight of the city across the Monongahela River.
The street name says it all… grand view. Simply incredible. In
a city that was filled from beginning to end with surprises… including
the amazing unveiling of the city when using the Fort Pitt Tunnel…
this was one of the best. I’m almost ready to declare it a must-do
if you visit the city, because it really brings the entire picture
together… the rivers… the city… the sporting venues… fantastic.
Heck… let’s do it…
overlook is a must-do when visiting the city. I honestly can’t
believe I’m saying this, but between Mount Washington and the
outfield at PNC Park, Pittsburgh has some of the most gorgeous
views of a city that I’ve ever seen.
We stayed roughly thirty minutes outside of Pittsburgh, and overall
this was a great place for us. Because we were a bit unfamiliar
with the drive… the city and surrounding areas are an interesting
network of highways and crossroads… it did seem a bit strange
at first. Still, we couldn’t have asked for a better inexpensive
was clean, offered a continental breakfast, and was right next
to the highway. Everything we wanted we found very easily.
Park Clubhouse (Robinson)
According to what I can find on the internet, there are two locations
for the North Park Clubhouse. Since we stayed in Coraopolis, I’m
pretty comfortable saying we ate in Robinson. Even my notes say
is… the web site I found pretty much lists only their other location,
was a very unexpected find for us. Basically we flew in the morning…
stopped at a McDonald’s near Youngstown, Ohio on the drive to
Pittsburgh… and took it easy all afternoon. A bit of sightseeing…
a bit of bakery stopping (for some incredible reason my notes
Biscotti, even though there is no location
listed near where I know we were, a few blocks from the Monongahela…
but since Enrico’s does sell at other outlets, try them, because
what we had were incredible)… and had nothing really planned at
all for dinner and the evening.
debated going to the game that night as well, but decided instead
to kick back, find a place to eat, and maybe watch some of the
game wherever that turned out to be. What we found worked perfectly…
with the Clubhouse offering one television showing the Pirates
game and another broadcasting the NESN feed of Boston and Tampa.
to my notes Dad had a steak wrap, and I went with an order of
honey BBQ wings and a jalapeno pretzel. Looks like the menu has
changed, either over time since our visit or because of the location
problem I mentioned a moment ago. Whatever… the atmosphere was
friendly… the food was very good… we relaxed while watching a
few innings of baseball… and overall had a great time.
Brothers (Market Square)
I’m about to insult a legend… but I have to…
me the fries on the side.
I said it… and I’m not sorry about it. We liked the place, and
I’d go back.)
location was perfect. We walked from PNC Park over the Sixth Street
Bridge (Robert Clemente Bridge). (This bridge is actually closed
to vehicles during games to allow pedestrian traffic to the stadium.
Pretty cool.) Nearby is the Pittsburgh Plate Glass building (ok…
fine… PPG Industries building)… which forms an entire plaza on
its own and is definitely worth visiting, even if just walking
around outside for a few minutes.
got it… Primanti Brothers… getting back there…)
was good. We both enjoyed our sandwiches. (I went with turkey
and Dad had steak.) It’s just that we both found them better after
we removed alot of the fries and left a single layer of them in
place. When left as served, the fries were a bit mushy and just
overwhelmed everything else in the sandwich with the taste of
a baked potato.
the Not-So-Good Stuff
there are a few things that deserve mention if only to be a warning
sign for those yet to travel on the road. So… a thing or two that
might not have been so great… mentioned to help those that follow.
Pittsburgh? I’ve got nothing.
was going to mention the car… but that belongs with the rental
agency and the vehicle type, and not here because we spent most
of our time in Pittsburgh.
found plenty of things to do, and enjoyed everything we tried.
you’ve got a beautiful ballpark, a great city, some hidden treasures
and fantastic people. Thanks for everything.