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At PNC Park, Pirates' Polanco draws a crowd

| Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 9:21 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco waits on-deck for his first Major League at-bat during the first inning against the Cubs Tuesday, June, 10, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Right fielder Gregory Polanco steps out of the dugout in a Pirates uniform for the first time at the start of a game against the Cubs on Tuesday, June, 10, 2014, at PNC Park.

Robert Galiszewsky is a Pirates season-ticket holder whose jersey collection includes such names as Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell as well as Andrew McCutchen and some of today's other players.

He wasted no time adding Gregory Polanco's jersey to his assortment, purchasing the first one sold at the Majestic Clubhouse store in left field at PNC Park about 30 minutes before the 22-year-old right fielder made his major league debut.

“I was praying that they still had one, and they did,” he said. “I've been waiting for him to come up.”

The Pirates already were expecting a crowd of about 25,000 on Tuesday night because it was military appreciation night. More than 10,000 tickets were distributed free of charge to veterans and active military through a partnership with GovX.com. It also was a “You Score as the Bucs Score” promotion night.

With Polanco's debut, announced late Monday night, Pirates officials expected that number to rise to just under 32,000. They drew 31,567.

However, at the ticket window at the corner of Federal and West General Robinson streets, many people picking up or purchasing tickets said they planned to come to the game before hearing about Polanco.

Jason Bellone, 28, and Brad Harvan, 30, both of New Kensington, were not among them. They said they purchased tickets specifically to see Polanco.

“At 3 a.m., (Harvan) called and notified me that the man got called up, and we bought them, three o'clock in the morning, right field, front row so we could see the guy as good as possible,” Bellone said. “We're over the moon to see the man.”

The Pirates reported they saw an uptick in sales Tuesday that they attributed to Polanco, and although they weren't expecting a sellout, Harvan wasn't taking any chances.

“There's not a lot of things I'd wake someone up at three in the morning for, but I figured it's going to be hard to get tickets,” Harvan said. “As soon as everyone wakes up and hears the news, you're not going to be able to get tickets. If we're going to do it, we have to do it now.”

They purchased tickets in Section 1, Row D, where they could keep a close eye on Polanco.

“We wanted to be anywhere where he was making a play,” Bellone said.

Patrick Cunning of Campbell, Ohio, made the drive with his son, Tim, to see Polanco's debut.

“When you hear about a five-tool player, what's not to get excited about?” Cunning said.

Greg Smith, 28, drove from State College and was behind Galiszewsky in line to get a Polanco jersey.

“I've been hearing about him for a couple years now,” Smith said. “I couldn't miss this one.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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