Reporting John Shumway
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There is a “never say die” quality about these Pittsburgh Pirates that resonates with the fans.
“They want to win and we want them to win,” says fan Susan Gordon, of Ross Township. “It’s about time don’t you think?”
And home game after home game, Pirates fans have proven to the front office that if you build a winning team, they will come.
“Well, the fans have embraced the team all year long, and they are really getting excited now,” said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. “This is what September is all about.”
The Amatucci family came today for a PNC Park tour and to see the homestand begin.
“I think they are going to come back and sweep the Cubs again, and they’re going to get a wildcard game and get the pennant,” said Vinny Amatucci, a Pirates fan.
“Feels great! Hopefully, we have something to cheer in this town. The Steelers aren’t doing to hot, the Pens are starting. Pirate fever! Go Bucs!” added fan John Amatucci.
While teams like the Cardinals, Reds and Cubs have drawn great followings to PNC Park, Pirates fans have maintained the home field advantage.
“There is ticket availability particularly for the weekday games for the remainder of the season. The weekends are a little tighter, but there’s availability there as well,” said Coonelly.
But there is little doubt many of these games will end up on the sellouts list.
Coonelly: “Currently at 18. Nineteen is the record, and we certainly expect to pass that.”
KDKA’s John Shumway: “Possibly this weekend?”
Coonelly: “Possibly this weekend.”
Meanwhile, the fact that fans are hitting the box office and packing PNC Park in early September is something the faithful have longed for.
“We’ve been Pirate supporters when it wasn’t fashionable to be Pirate supporters, and looking forward, this is this is mecca, this is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Ross Morgan, the founder of the Left Field Loonies. “I won’t miss one of these games. I’ll be here for all 11.”
A steady stream of energized Pirates fans were coming by the PNC Park box office Thursday, snapping up tickets to see a winning team.
“It’s a lot different than it’s been around here for a long time in September, and it’s nice to see,” said Coonelly.
But fans coming to the games on Friday and Saturday need to know they could see orange and white before they see black and gold.
PennDOT’s Route 28 plans will impact Pirate fans and Pitt fans heading for the North Shore.
Starting at 8 p.m. Friday, southbound Route 28 at the 40th Street Bridge “will be closed, all traffic will be detoured across the 40th Street Bridge down to the 16th Street Bridge,” said PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan.
Also, on the northbound side of Route 28 starting two hours after Friday night’s Pirates game, Cowan says, “There will be periodic stoppages for about 15 minutes so we can put up an overhead truss sign.”
The work is being done so they can reopen two lanes on northbound 28.
“We’re hoping for five o’clock Saturday we’ll reopen that second northbound lane,” said Cowan.
That won’t help departing Pitt traffic, but will make a big difference for Pirates fans after the fireworks.
But Route 65 repaving work won’t cut Pitt or Pirates a break just beyond the McKees Rocks Bridge.
“[It] will be a single lane in each direction,” said Cowan.
So leave early or you might miss the kickoff, or first pitch.