TribLIVE

| Sports


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pirates fans, celebrities poised for 'Buctober' baseball on North Shore

Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - A Pirates fan cheers as the team is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>A Pirates fan cheers as the team is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Former Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek acknowledges the crowd prior to throwing out the first pitch at the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Former Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek acknowledges the crowd prior to throwing out the first pitch at the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Boats dot the Allegheny River while the Pirates play in the National League wild-card game against the Reds at PNC Park on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Boats dot the Allegheny River while the Pirates play in the National League wild-card game against the Reds at PNC Park on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Fans perched on the suspension cables of the Roberto Clemente Bridge watch the Pirates play the Reds in the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans perched on the suspension cables of the Roberto Clemente Bridge watch the Pirates play the Reds in the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Pirates fans congregate in front of the Roberto Clemente statue before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates fans congregate in front of the Roberto Clemente statue before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Fans line up for Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans line up for Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Pirates and Reds line the field during the national anthem prior to the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates and Reds line the field during the national anthem prior to the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen hugs his mother, Petrina, prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen hugs his mother, Petrina, prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Fans fill Federal Street for Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans fill Federal Street for Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - Pirates fans line the left-field rotunda prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates fans line the left-field rotunda prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - Pirates fans wait to get into PNC Park before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013,
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates fans wait to get into PNC Park before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013,
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Tom Riester, 41, of Los Angeles poses next to Willie Stargell's statue before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park. Reister, a Pittsburgh native, was back in town for Tuesday's game.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Tom Riester, 41, of Los Angeles poses next to Willie Stargell's statue before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park. Reister, a Pittsburgh native, was back in town for Tuesday's game.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Pirates line the field during the national anthem prior to the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates line the field during the national anthem prior to the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - Pirates fans cheer as the team is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates fans cheer as the team is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Fans file into the stadium from the Clemente Bridge before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans file into the stadium from the Clemente Bridge before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Carl Adler, 61, of Gibsonia flies a Pirates kite near his boat before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park. Adler arrived early at PNC Park to get a spot on the river in anticipation of Tuesday's game.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Carl Adler, 61, of Gibsonia flies a Pirates kite near his boat before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park. Adler arrived early at PNC Park to get a spot on the river in anticipation of Tuesday's game.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Carl Adler, 61, of Gibsonia flies a Pirates kite near his boat before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park. Adler arrived early at PNC Park to get a spot on the river in anticipation of Tuesday's game.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Carl Adler, 61, of Gibsonia flies a Pirates kite near his boat before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park. Adler arrived early at PNC Park to get a spot on the river in anticipation of Tuesday's game.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Second baseman Neil Walker was one of seven arbitration-eligible players tendered by the Pirates late Monday. Those players will head to abitration if they do not agree to contract terms by February.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Second baseman Neil Walker was one of seven arbitration-eligible players tendered by the Pirates late Monday. Those players will head to abitration if they do not agree to contract terms by February.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates outfielder Marlon Byrd is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates outfielder Marlon Byrd is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Wyatt Holliday, 4, of Mt. Lebanon climbs up the leg of the Roberto Clemente statue before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park. Holliday's family was at PNC Park for Tuesday's game.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Wyatt Holliday, 4, of Mt. Lebanon climbs up the leg of the Roberto Clemente statue before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park. Holliday's family was at PNC Park for Tuesday's game.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Travis Ricker, 27, of Spring Hill and a worker at Atrias Restaurant prepares his drink booth dressed as a pirate before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Travis Ricker, 27, of Spring Hill and a worker at Atrias Restaurant prepares his drink booth dressed as a pirate before the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Charlie Petredis, 54, of Wexford, stands in line dressed as a pirate before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday. Petredis was vendor for the Pirates from 1975 to 1979.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Charlie Petredis, 54, of Wexford, stands in line dressed as a pirate before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday. Petredis was vendor for the Pirates from 1975 to 1979.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Charlie Petredis, 54, of Wexford, gets high-fives dressed as a pirate before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday. Petredis was vendor for the Pirates from 1975 to 1979.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Charlie Petredis, 54, of Wexford, gets high-fives dressed as a pirate before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday. Petredis was vendor for the Pirates from 1975 to 1979.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Season ticket holder Josh Hall, 27, of Turtle Creek stands with his face painted on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Season ticket holder Josh Hall, 27, of Turtle Creek stands with his face painted on the Roberto Clemente Bridge, before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Fans fill Federal Street for Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans fill Federal Street for Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Arlene Renna, 64, of Monroeville hugs Linda Hudak, 53, of Export before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Arlene Renna, 64, of Monroeville hugs Linda Hudak, 53, of  Export before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Season ticket holder Dan Rossman, 37, of Wexford waves the Jolly Roger in anticipation of Tuesday's playoff game while tailgating outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Season ticket holder Dan Rossman, 37, of Wexford waves the Jolly Roger in anticipation of Tuesday's playoff game while tailgating outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Rado Angelov, 38, of the North Side and originally from Sophia, Bulgaria plays the accordion before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Rado Angelov, 38, of the North Side and originally from Sophia, Bulgaria plays the accordion before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Amanda Haslett, 28, of Zanesville, OH plays cards with her son, Jacob Haslett, 9, while waiting for park to open before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Amanda Haslett, 28, of Zanesville, OH plays cards with her son, Jacob Haslett, 9, while waiting for park to open before Tuesday's playoff game outside PNC Park, Tuesday.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - A sellout crowd stands for the team introductions at the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>A sellout crowd stands for the team introductions at the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Former Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek throws out the first pitch prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Former Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek throws out the first pitch prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen talks to his family prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen talks to his family prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen hugs his mother, Petrina, prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen hugs his mother, Petrina, prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher AJ Burnett is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher AJ Burnett is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Pirates and Reds lineup on the field prior to the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates and Reds lineup on the field prior to the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Fans perched on the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge cheer for the Pirates during in the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans perched on the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge cheer for the Pirates during in the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Fans perched on the railing at the Roberto Clemente Bridge cheer for the Pirates during the wild card playoff game at PNC Park, Tuesday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans perched on the railing at the Roberto Clemente Bridge cheer for the Pirates during the wild card playoff game at PNC Park, Tuesday.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - The Pirates and Reds line the field for the national anthem prior to the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates and Reds line the field for the national anthem prior to the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - The Pirates take the field for the first inning of the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates take the field for the first inning of the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - Pirates fans cheer as the team takes the field for the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates fans cheer as the team takes the field for the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - Pirates fans react to the first out in the first inning of the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates fans react to the first out in the first inning of the National League Wild Card playoff game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 at PNC Park.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review - Fans perched on the railing at the Roberto Clemente Bridge cheer after the Pirates scored their second run against the Reds during the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Andrew Russell  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans perched on the railing at the Roberto Clemente Bridge cheer after the Pirates scored their second run against the Reds during the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
By Tony LaRussa and Chris Togneri
Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, 2:57 p.m.
 

Six months ago to the day, the Pirates opened their season under a gray sky and occasional snowflakes. Appropriate weather, considering that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle compared Opening Day to Christmas morning.

“You're getting a box, all wrapped up in a bow, and trying to figure out what's inside,” he said that day.

What was inside turned out to be more than most Pirates fans ever dreamed: The end of an embarrassing 20-season losing streak. A September of meaningful ball games. An MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen. Even a wild card playoff game, tonight, against the Cincinnati Reds.

Stick with the Trib throughout the evening as we bring you the atmosphere and excitement in and around PNC Park as the Pirates play their first postseason game in 21 years.

***

Hundreds of Pirates fans without tickets flocked to the North Shore if only to feel the electricity of a long-awaited playoff game.

They could not see the action on the field, but they could feel the excitement inside. For them, that was enough.

“The atmosphere you get here, there's nothing better,” said John Gromley, 44, of Penn Run, Indiana County, who camped out on the Roberto Clemente Bridge with scores of other fans.

“I said, let's go down and hang out for this,” he said. “You can put the radio on and look at the (outside of the) park and it's like you're in there.”

Lonnie Williford, 47, of Beaver Falls watched the game on bar televisions on Federal Street.

“I just wanted to be down here for this,” he said. “I had to get as close as I could. I waited 21 years for this. It's unbelievable. I'm probably having a better time out here than I would have inside. It's 70 degrees on Oct. 1. Incredible.”

***

Give the fans an assist on that one.

Seconds after a frenzied sellout crowd started chanting starting pitcher Johnny Cueto's name, the Reds ace dropped the ball on the mound.

The crowd erupted. The chant grew stronger.

Then Russell Martin hit the Pirates' second home run of the second inning, and the noise level skyrocketed.

Beer vendor Dusty West shook his head.

“No use in trying to sell beer now,” he said. “They can't hear me!”

***

The Pirates called for a blackout. The fans certainly responded.

The black-clad masses that swarmed Federal Street and the Roberto Clemente Bridge hours before game time almost completely canvassed PNC Park as the first pitch drew near. Everyone got the memo.

And Reds fans took notice.

“I've never seen an atmosphere like this,” said Justin Waples, 32, a Columbus firefighter who attended the game with Columbus native Nick Lantz, 33.

“We've seen maybe 20 Reds fans,” Waples said. “Kudos to Pittsburgh. It's definitely a blackout. These fans are crazy.”

***

The chant of “Let's go Bucs” greeted ushers as they approached the gates to open PNC Park at 6 p.m. Fans holding standing-room-only tickets sprinted up the stairs in packs, jockeying for position.

Among the first through the gates was Jason Gerle, 34, of Ambridge and his 9-year-old son, J.T.

“He has a pretty good grasp of how long it's been,” Gerle said, his arm around J.T.'s shoulder. “He understands I was just a little older than he is he last time the Pirates were in the playoffs.

“It's fantastic. Especially with the Steelers struggling now. ... This is just fantastic.”

***

Arlene Remma smiled wistfully, admitting that tonight's Pirates game is bittersweet.

A season ticket holder, she said she is thrilled to see her Pirates finally make it to the playoffs. But she wished her longtime boyfriend — “Herky” Diulus, a former Pirates vendor who started when the club played at Forbes Field in Oakland — was alive to see the game.

“Because of his health, he never got to work here,” Remma said. “I brought him a few times, but he was in a wheelchair. I wish he had seen this happen.”

Charlie Petredis, 54, of Wexford was so certain he'd never see a playoff game here, he vowed to dress head-to-toe in a Pirates costume if the team ever made it. Three hours before the first pitch, he was walking down Federal Street waving a Jolly Roger in full pirate garb.

“First time, I've never done this before,” he said as fans posed for photos with him. “But I feel great.”

***

Dan Betts' Cincinnati Reds jersey and ball cap drew plenty of jeers as he mingled with the sea of Pirates fans amassing outside PNC Park on Tuesday.

But it didn't seem to bother the die-hard baseball fan in the least.

“I've been to a lot of road games, so I'm pretty used to being hassled by hometown fans,” said Betts, 24, of Dayton, Ohio. “You get used to it.”

While it is easy enough for Betts to shake off being an outsider in Buccos territory, he hasn't been able to shake off the sinking feeling he has about tonight's playoff game.

“We're coming off a five-game losing streak to end the season, including a sweep by the Pirates,” said Betts. “So I'm definitely a little nervous.”

Despite the rough ending to their season, Tyler Canterbury of Parkersburg, W.Va., was upbeat about his team's prospects for a chance to advance in the playoffs.

“We've got our best pitcher going out there,” said Canterbury, 21, a life-long Reds fan. “He's been injured this year, but I feel comfortable that he's going to pitch well and win this for us.”

***

Bobby Faloon started vending for the Pirates 46 years ago at Forbes Field. Until Tuesday, he believed he would never again see playoff baseball here.

“I just turned 60. I don't know how many years I have left. My body is breaking down,” Faloon said moments before he started selling beer inside PNC Park. “It's emotional for me. Everywhere I go in the city, it's nothing but joy. And I'll be honest with you, I almost gave up. Never in a hundred years did I think we'd see this.”

***

Barb Fletcher knew getting a parking spot near PNC Park on Tuesday so she could pick up some players' autographs for her collection would be tricky.

So she showed up at the players' entrance to the stadium by 7 a.m.

“I've got a bat from the All-Star Game I'm hoping to get signed,” said Fletcher of Homer City. “I want to get my autographs early so I can get inside and just enjoy the game.”

Fans eager to see the Pirates compete in the team's first postseason game since 1992 began congregating on the North Shore around noon in advance of the 8 p.m. start against the Cincinnati Reds.

The victor of tonight's winner-take-all wild card game will play a best-of five series against the National League Central Division-winning St. Louis Cardinals.

“We don't have tickets, but we'll try to buy some if we can,” said John Fitzgerald, 49, of Shaler, as he moored his 19-foot-long ski boat along the Allegheny River outside PNC Park. “Even if we can't get in, I wanted to be out here so we can take in all the excitement,” said Fitzgerald, his sons John Jr., 9, and Brendin, 6, in tow.

John Jr. offered a prediction for the outcome of tonight's game.

“I think the Bucs will be behind a few runs in the beginning, but they will win,” he said.

Fan momentum began early in the day on social media sites such as Twitter, with a nearly non-stop stream of people wishing the team good luck and encouraging fan attending the game to participate in a “blackout” by wearing black Pirates gear to complement the players' black uniform tops.

A number of Pirates players, including A.J. Burnett, Jordy Mercer and Tony Sanchez, took to Twitter to bolster participation in the blackout.

Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live,” whose father is a Pittsburgh native, sent out the tweet: “Happy Buctober, everybody!” shortly before noon on Tuesday.

Another former Pittsburgher, actor Michael Keaton, has been chronicling his lifelong love affair with the Pirates and the excitement of seeing them in the playoffs for the first time in two decades in a series of dispatches for ESPN.com.

Former Fox Sports and ESPN personality Rebecca Grant also showed her penchant for the Pirates with tweets of encouragement for the team, as did Penguins' hockey great Mario Lemieux.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Starkey: Parents provide Cervelli’s inspiration
  2. Supreme Court justices ream EPA for ignoring costs to meet air standards
  3. Pittsburgh Public Works supervisor disciplined for text message
  4. More witness intimidation charges filed against Plum teacher
  5. Coach helps ex-McKeesport star Marshall keep NBA dream alive
  6. Daily Courier roundup: Connellsville tops Farmington
  7. Murrysville native Bullock vying for Women’s Health magazine’s ‘Next Fitness Star’
  8. Downie, Ehrhoff lead list of likely Penguins leaving in free agency
  9. Kittanning’s Toy brothers to reunite with W&J football
  10. Run-down duplex that Dormont helped to rehab not on the market long
  11. Pirates hope 1st baseman Alvarez starts to regain power stroke