I was delighted to read the Sports story “Volunteers give Pirates a boost in Bradenton” (Feb. 11 and TribLIVE.com). I was lucky enough to attend a game last March at McKechnie Field, the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was amazed at the hospitality provided by the courteous crew of volunteers who tended to us.
From the golf-cart ride from the parking lot, to the chaise longues available for relaxing with a beverage or treat, the experience at McKechnie Field is like none other on the Grapefruit League circuit.
The “old-time” feel of the Pirates' facility takes one back to the good old days when baseball was played for the love of the sport.
It was great to be able to call down to the field from my seat to Bill Virdon and have him turn around and salute me when I called him “Quail,” the Gunner's (the late Bob Prince's) nickname for him.
I also visited the Yankees' facility in Tampa, and although it is a beautiful site, its modern appearance doesn't provide the ambiance of McKechnie. The workers, however, did go out of their way as well to make us feel welcome.
My traveling companion, a die-hard Yankees fan, admitted that old McKechnie won out over the modern Steinbrenner Stadium.
If you are looking for a fairly inexpensive respite from the chill of Pennsylvania in late February or March, go south and see the Pirates at McKechnie. You'll be glad that you did!
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