By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Opening Day at PNC Park is a chance to get re-acquainted with familiar faces. And we’re not just talking about the team.

Fans braved un-spring like temperatures, while Pirates employee Ed Flanagan took their tickets. It was his 59th consecutive opening day.

“I like the people,” he explains. “I enjoy it. I’m enjoying myself at the gate. Hoping to make 60 next year.”

As for the weather, he says, “Nobody likes this kind of weather. I wasn’t looking for this.”

Even the burden of 20-straight losing seasons can’t keep fans away on Opening Day. From Forbes Field to PNC Park, by way of Three Rivers Stadium, there’s a dwindling number of Bucco faithfuls who haven’t missed an opener in decades.

Lloyd Nelson of North Huntingdon attended his first home opener in Forbes Field in 1948. He says home run king Ralph Kiner was the draw.

“That’s what got me coming to ball games,” he recalls. “And that year, I started coming all the time, on Opening Day, no matter what.”

One of his most memorable home openers had Dwight Gooden on the mound for the Mets.

“Our left-hander hit a home run off of him,” Nelson said. “I don’t remember who won the game, just remember him hitting a home run off him. Because I didn’t like Gooden.”

Though he liked his team’s two previous ballparks, the longtime fan says PNC Park is the best. But it’s the sport itself that keeps Lloyd Nelson coming back.

“I don’t love any other sport like I do baseball,” he says. “That’s all.”

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