The magic never happened. Those kids who were lined up got announced by name and then they ran out onto the field. McCutchen appeared from a different entrance and started tossing the ball around with his teammates. Anthem, first pitch, game starting. The boys stood at the railing looking confused.
I went to the usher.
“So I guess you want us to head to our seats?” (A perfect opening for him to let us stay in the seats by the dugout.)
“OK. Thanks. Hey…we’re in section 128. Can you point us in the right direction?” (Another chance to let us stay there.)
“Those are good seats. You’ll be in the shade.”
So away we trudged up to our seats. We were near third base and rather than make our way to the actual seats we went to one of the back rows and spread out. The game started and almost immediately the Reds were up 2 runs. We were experiencing major letdown from our near on-field enthusiasm.
We recovered by hitting the store. Standard procedure for us is to get shirts, but that’s expanded a bit. Jack tries to get hats and Alex gets stuffed animals. Jack ended up with a McCutchen T-Shirt and Alex got a bear with a Clemente jersey.
Back in stands we got better seats that gave us a great view of the field. We started getting into the game. We got crab fries and a cheesesteak (and a beer for me) the next inning and then really settled in. The stadium is just gorgeous. I’ve been to about half the ballparks in the league and PNC is officially #1 for me now. You can see the city behind it, the bright yellow bridges, the cliffs.
The kids, even Alex, got really into the game. They dutifully yelled “CHARGE” when they played the horn and screamed their heads off when the scoreboard read: “Make Some Noise!
In between innings, Jack would hustle down to the railing above the left fielder, hoping to get a ball thrown to him. Then he’d run back up the aisle, and I’d get choked up watching him. I’d swear I could make out the details of his blue eyes, which is impossible from that distance, but there you are.
Meanwhile, the Pirates were getting killed 5-0 in a slow and uneventful game. They looked completely outmatched. The crowd started to do the wave, which I firmly ordered my kids to ignore. (A note to non-baseball fans: baseball fans do NOT do the wave at a baseball game.)
Then in the 7th, McCutchen made this terrific smotherslide to steal a base hit and that seemed to spark the Pirates. They bashed a series of home runs in the 8th, which had my boys delirious with screaming, and before you knew it the score was 10-5, Pirates. They eventually took it 10-7 in a game that lasted just under 4 hours.