Checking In With Julio
When we last checked in with our teammate Julio, he was living in the San Francisco Bay Area and rooting for the Oakland A’s. Although he still pulls for the A’s, he’s now a Pirates fan. How did that happen? I’ll let Julio explain:
“I moved to Pittsburgh. There are not that many teams that I could have easily transitioned to being a fan of,” Julio said. “Pittsburgh is an underdog team, a small market team with a lot of young talent and a lot of minority players. It’s an exciting franchise. I love going to their games and having a vested interest in their outcome.”
Julio is a season ticket holder and is very impressed with how the Pirates treat him and his family. “We have our names on the outfield wall, we’ve taken the field during batting practice, we get extra tickets to some of the games and receive discounts at the concessionaires,” he said.
I asked Julio to talk about PNC Park, which always scores very high when the thirty major league stadiums are ranked. “It’s a great park in a great location. PNC is a very intimate ballpark with awesome sight lines and a feeling of community,” Julio explained. “The bulk of the attendees are Pirates fans.” It’s one of the smallest ballparks in the major leagues, with a capacity just over 38,000. Fans enjoy views of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline and the Roberto Clemente Bridge. PNC only has two levels of seating, so if you’re tickets are on the upper level you’re still very close to the action.
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Robert Clemente Statue is near the center field gate as you come off the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
The Willie Stargell Statue is at the left-field gate.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a rich tradition, and Julio sent me some pictures of how they incorporate it into PNC Park. I especially liked how they named a food court down the left field line of the main concourse Pops’ Plaza. We also see pictures of Manny Sanguillen, a catcher who played on the Pirates 1971 and 1979 World Series Championship teams. He greets fans on weekends at his Manny’s BBQ, located just past center field. Julio also observed former Pirates hurler John Candelaria enjoying a Manny burger.
John Candelaria is seated on the left, wearing the yellow shirt.
Julio and I spoke about the Pirates and their chances for 2017. He said he really likes the starting pitching and strongly believes Garrett Cole is a potential Cy Young Award winner. He believes the bullpen is above average. He would like to see the defense tightened up and hopes the team starts hitting better. The National League Central Division is a pretty rough neighborhood these days, with the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, the resurgent St. Louis Cardinals and the pesky Milwaukee Brewers all fielding very good teams. We’ll see what the Pirates do as the season unfolds, but one thing is for sure, their fans, including Julio, his wife Amanda and their daughter Arianna, will be there to support them.