It has been fun watching the Pirates compete this season, and I found it very tough to say goodbye to them. It always is a tough process, and each time I feel like I am going to cry. At times it seems as if they are my entire life, but fortunately (or unfortunately you be the judge), I am in only my second year of college, so I still have some elements of life.
I woke up later than I wanted to, and then had bussing troubles, as the place where I normally catch my bus was closed due to The Great Race, which stunk. I had to hightail it up to a different street where it was a 45 minute wait for a bus. That is the longest ever in Pittsburgh that I have waited for a bus and approached New York territory in terms of the time. On the bright side, the bus took a much faster route, passing colleges and universities that normally draw lots of people and stops.
Surprisingly, I was still second in line. I really thought that being the last home game of the season, that it would be a big turn out, but everyone to the east of the area (also known as before the bridges) were all having trouble in getting to the ballpark.
I was glad when I went in, but even then I was confined as per typical Sunday procedure to the Riverwalk. I patiently waited by the gate and tried to plan my run so I could be the first into the third base side to get a baseball.
The jumbotron was showing winners of player jerseys, but I didn’t win. What hurt was that I was one seat away fron winning a Ronny Cedeno jersey. That would have been cool.
Alas at 11:30, the gate opened and the race was on. I of course was in my element, and blew everyone out of the water. In fact apparently while I was running, there was an overthrow so when I was running down the third base side steps, Daniel McCutchen the Pirates reliever was running up for the baseball. He probably thought that I was trying to take it, so I slowed to a stop and let him take it. He must have appreciated that I did that, because when I stopped and he went over the barracade and on to the field, he looked at me and threw the baseball for ball number one. I thought that was pretty cool.
I watched the Pirates throw afterwards, and ended up having a brief conversation with Chris Leroux.
After that the race was on to the Reds side of the field, where I got into my Reds gear and got ready.
Sure enough, my guy from yesterday Matt Maloney who gave me my 200th career baseball was one of the first out, and he had a baseball.
I held up my glove, and he said to me, “I threw you one yesterday.”
“I know,” I replied. “I just wanted to play catch with you.”
That actually was the truth, as I never have had the opportunity to play catch with a Major Leaguer. All of a sudden, he opted to throw me the baseball. So we threw back and forth for a good two minutes. It was awesome, and even better, was the fact that Colston who was with me, used his instincts and took a very short video of the event.
It was tough to throw hard, because Carlos Fisher was running, and another Red was right next to him, so I did not throw my hardest by any means as I did not want to injure any of their players. Looking at the video, I wish that I had come through more with the shoulder, but I was just thrilled to be catching with a Major Leaguer.
I counted that as ball number two and watched the team throw before it was 12:10. Randomly, an usher and I were making small talk during which he asked how we had so much opposing team gear. I replied and discussed my charity. To my surprise as I watched the Reds throw, he stuck ball number three into my glove. He said it was left over from yesterday and he didn’t have a kid to give it to. Since the usher was a PNC Park employee, I counted and accepted the baseball. I was quite pleased at that point.
I knew I had to change back into my Pirate gear as soon as I could as at 12:00 they had started at the gates taking pictures and thanking fans.
Colston and I darted through the area and first ran into Manager Clint Hurdle. I have impersonated Hurdle on numerous occasions, keying on the words “all-in”, and Colston was on the verge of laughter when we saw him. We knew we had to go in there. He shook my hand, and then posed. As I left, I told Clint, “Thanks for going all-in this season”.
Clint replied, saying, “You’re welcome, it has been fun going all-in and I am glad you noticed the efforts we made to going all-in again next year. We hope to see you next season”.
I was on the verge of tears, I wanted to laugh so hard. In all seriousness though, Clint Hurdle was the right man for the Manager’s job and the team improved by 15 wins over last season, so he clearly did something right.
I then ran into Leroux, who was with Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton. He remembered me right away, and he shook my hand and we all posed. Remember though, I was the first one who told Charlie Morton about “Electric Stuff”, and he really got a kick out of it. I did not remind him about that though.
I then went to another location which was crowded and I didn’t really see anyone there. So I hit another crowded place, and thus ran to the Highmark Legacy Square entrance, where the first person I saw was Evan Meek.
Meek has been my buddy since late last season, and he greeted me with a splow and a man-hug. Meek really loves me and the picture turned out rather funny. He then told me, “have you met Daniel McCutchen?”
Daniel then perks up and said, “hey, I threw you a baseball today.”
I then said, “Yes thank you, and I really appreciate it,” before I went into my snagging for charity, and why I did what I did. He really seemed to respect what I was doing, and maybe this keeps me in the in crowd.
I then posed with Daniel and Ryan Ludwick before looking at the area.
I then saw Euclides Rojas, and I had to get a picture with him. He waved and was glad to see me, and honestly I was glad to see him. He waved me over for a picture and then I told him, “Euclides it has been a real honor getting to know you this year.” I meant what I said, especially with his story of fleeing Cuba and spending time in Guantanamo Bay before making it to the US. He seemed really touched as he shook my hand.
I then talked to and posed with Luis Silverio, speaking entirely in Spanish. He just like the last time really got a kick out of it.
I then got to meet Derrick Lee before the time was up. There were only a couple of minutes left, and I knew that I would not be able to get anymore pictures, so I called it quits.
As I was getting out from the left field area, I saw some Pirates players. I felt like I was going to the bullpen and was high fiving a lot of guys from Garrett Jones and Brad Lincoln to Jason Grilli and Herbie Andrade who gave me the customary “Hola Papi, como estas?”
Both myself and Colston then explored the team store, and then went by the bullpen for the final time.
It was then gametime, and I got to say hello to a lot of the guys and then I went to the outfield seat I had.
The it started to rain for 10 minutes and stop. I decided that was the time for me to move to the baseline seat I had ordered. That was a whole other ordeal on Friday when I actually ran into Andrew McCutchen and wished him luck. I was in a hurry and the rain was not helping anything that day either.
Still, I was able to pace myself and get closer and closer to the dugout with each inning until I was a couple of sections over in the last inning, making for an easy run.
My first job was to try and get an umpire ball. This went a little long as some guy had something that he wanted all four of the day’s umpires to sign. Then he got the lineup card. I then asked for a baseball and being that I was the only one who asked, Lance Barrett the home plate ump that game tossed me one before disappearing. I still was able to secure a spot by the dugout, but nothing really was tossed up. It was a disappointment and in years past, players would sign hats and then toss them up.
Still it was a great season, and when I met back up with Colston, we slowly and sadly made our way out of the ballpark.
I then decided to hit the team bus and literally watch them leave. They did not leave until after 6. When they did, the busses beeped.
All in all the homestand went as well as they could have and on Saturday, I got a signature from Joey Votto and Hurdle signed on Sunday.
It was hard to leave the ballpark, especially because of all of the great moments I had while there. It is going to be a long off-season. Perhaps god was trying to tell me to move on, when I ran into Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby right by my bus stop. He was nice as could be, but still, the off-season will be even longer and even more painful than ever before. At least pitchers and catchers report February 18.
Here is what I have planned to have blogged for you by weekend’s end:
1. Thank you list
2. My personal season highlights
3. Yearly Awards Ceremony
4. Year end grades for each player
Will be a lot of work, but will be worth it. Until then, Let’s Go Bucs!