20 Years Later: The Long Drive to the East Coastby Bill Pearch, Sunday, August 30, 2020
Wednesday, August 30, 2000
San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Starting Pitchers: Russ Ortiz vs. Jimmy Anderson
Time of Game: 2 hours 41 minutes
Final Score: Giants 2, Pirates 0
News clipping from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on August 31, 2000.
The second day of our trip began with an early start that included a continental breakfast at the hotel in Indiana. Our group did not have too much time to socialize since we had our longest drive of the trip ahead of us. Following the unexpected extended visit at Wrigley Field, we did clarify a few rules at breakfast. We decided we would stay for extra innings, but everyone must meet back at their seats for the start of the ninth inning. Sounded fair enough. We quickly packed our bags and piled on the bus.
Since we had a long drive to Pittsburgh ahead of us, Jay turned on his microphone and asked everyone to share a baseball story or two to fill some time. That was a great way to get acquainted with each other. For the most part, everyone had a decent story. The Seattle guys all worked in the same office complex and were die-hard Seattle Mariners fans. They pooled their money and decided to take the trip to see the Mariners play the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. My assigned seat was directly behind the bus driver, so I would be last to share my stories.
I didn't necessarily intend to be the comedy act on the bus, but my stories seemed to keep everyone laughing. I told stories about growing up with two baseball options: being a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan. They busted up when I told them both options were wrong. Looking back 20 years later, who would have imagined that both teams would win the World Series? I shared stories about one-dollar wagers with my grandmother (a White Sox fan) on the annual Cubs-Sox game. I'd always lose, so she'd make it double-or-nothing on the All-Star Game. The National League would also lose, so I would be out two bucks.
Once my story concluded, we stopped for a quick lunch. All of those stories made the time race by. When we boarded again, Jay threw a documentary on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the VHS player and we were off to Three Rivers Stadium. The film highlighted the careers of Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Stargell.
When we stepped off the bus, the whole area was under construction. Three Rivers Stadium was on its last leg and we would be in attendance for one of the final baseball games in that park. The stadium was slated for implosion shortly after the season to make way for PNC Park across the street in 2001. I could not believe how stripped down the park looked. The seats in the upper deck were closed off. The concession stands had only minimal signs on the walls. When I bought my nachos for dinner, a man literally passed them to me through a hole in the wall. I think the only signs still on the wall were for the restrooms.
There was nothing impressive about Three Rivers Stadium, but I was eager to step inside a ballpark that I hadn't visited before. The stadium was a relic from a different era of baseball. During the 1970s, quirky old parks were demolished for larger multi-sport bowls that lacked character. I never made it to Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium, or Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, but they were all basically the same. They were round bowls, featured the original Astroturf, and were designed to house football games and baseball games. Still, it was nice a visit a place I had only experienced on television. After all, Three Rivers Stadium was the site of the Cubs celebration when they clinched the old National League Eastern Division title in 1984.
During the game, it seemed fitting that Barry Bonds belted a solo home run off of Jimmy Anderson during the fourth inning. The former Pirate's blast proved to be the game-winning hit as the San Francisco Giants would beat the Pirates, 2-0. Russ Ortiz fanned 12 batters and picked up his 11th win of the season.
After the game, we were off to another hotel. This time it was the Holiday Inn in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.
Enjoy photos and tickets from the trip.
Next stop: Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles)