OK, over the past couple of days I read about how many of you rated PNC Park either at the top of your list or near the top of your list of top stadiums in the game. After going to Monday’s Reds-Pirates game in Pittsburgh, you can add me to the list who feel PNC Park is on top of the list of Top Ballparks in Baseball.
It took my son and I a little over 6 hours to make the drive from Virginia to Pennsylvania. This was one of the first long road trips I have made with my 6 year-old and that alone made this trip pretty special. We arrived in Pittsburgh around 4 o’clock, a full hour and a half before the gates opened up which allowed us plenty of time to tour the outside of the park. We parked across the river and walked over the Roberto Clemente Bridge as some of you suggested. The view of the park from across the river was magnificent. I was blown away from the first impression I got of the park and the rest was not a let down.
We toured the outside of the park, photographed the Clemente statue, purchased our tickets, viewed the main entrance to the ballpark, then entered through the outfield gate between the river and ballpark. I never had a view I did not like as I walked around. We waited another 25 minutes for the main gates to open up to watch the Reds take batting practice. After the gates opened, it took my son all of 5 minutes before Jonny Gomes tossed him a baseball. This event alone made everything about the trip worth it. Seeing my son’s face after Gomes gave him the ball was great! We toured the Negro League statues after batting practice, walked around the interior of the stadium, and then took our seats up near the top row behind home plate. The view of the skyline, bridges, river, and ball park from up there was magnificent. I can not imagine another ball park matching that view. We moved around every third inning to a new seat to get the full experience, finally sitting down the left field line in the corner beside the foul pole in the lower section.
In honesty, the game became secondary to getting the full experience of the field. Obviously having the Reds win the game 4-0, topped off by a great pitching performance by Wood and the inside-the-park homerun by Heisey added to the experience. My only complaints would be not getting to see Votto play that night and having the usher not let me sit in the lower section at the start of the game (but since they weren’t my seats, I guess that would be my fault!).
All in all, if you have not been to PNC Park, you need to make an effort to to see this place. Just ignore the home team that plays there and enjoy the stadium. I’m thinking Nationals Park is our stop for next summer.
There are some photos I took during the evening below the fold.