Pittsburgh - January 22, 2014
As we discovered upon landing in Pittsburgh, leaving Montreal in January doesn’t necessarily guarantee warmer temperatures. Facing the same bitter cold on the road we do at home inspired us to go in search of some classic summertime experiences, including a stop at PNC Park – the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Built in 2001, PNC Park is widely considered one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country. Lined with three bronze statues of some of the greatest Pirates players to ever don the yellow “P”, the stadium has plenty of history to soak in, but one of those bronzed players drew a little more of our attention than the others: Hall-of-Famer Willie Stargell. Why is that, you ask? The legendary slugger actually helped set a Montreal baseball record back in 1978, recording the longest home run in Olympic Stadium history when he cranked a ball 535 feet into the right field bleachers. For years, fans could enjoy a visual reminder of Willie’s long ball during visits to the Big O thanks to a special yellow seat marking the exact location of his homerun shot. When the Expos left for Washington in 2004, the seat was removed and now sits in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, ON.
Outside the stadium leading into the team store, there’s a display at PNC Park with jerseys and T-shirts featuring the Pirates’ biggest stars. It’s no surprise to see 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen’s shirt on display or that of All-Star third baseman, Pedro Alvarez. Shockingly, we were hard-pressed to find gear featuring our favorite Pirates player, Montreal native Russell Martin, who was left off the wall in favor of team manager, Clint Hurdle. A hardcore Habs fan and the catcher who helped lead Pittsburgh to the team’s first postseason appearance since 1992? Get the man a primo spot on the jersey wall already, Pirates! No word yet from our own consumer products department when the Therrien T-shirts will be arriving in Montreal…