The Long Drive to the East CoastWednesday, 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
We had an early start that morning with a continental breakfast at the hotel in Indiana. There wasn't too much time to socialize since we had our longest drive of the trip ahead of us. 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 ahead, Jay turned on his microphone and asked everyone to share a baseball story or two to fill some time. It was a great way to get acquainted with each other. For the most part, everyone had a decent story. The 12 guys from Seattle all worked in the same office complex and were die-hard Mariners fans. They all decided to take the trip to see the Mariners play at Fenway Park in Boston. My assigned seat was directly behind the bus driver, so I would be last.
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 (Who knew the Sox would win the World Series in just five years?). I shared stories about betting my Grandmother (a Sox fan) one dollar 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 lose so I would be out two bucks.
After I finished, we stopped for a quick lunch. I couldn't believe those stories filled the time. 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. 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.
Honestly, there was nothing impressive about Three Rivers Stadium. But, it was a product of its time. 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'd seen 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.
After the game, we were off to another hotel. This time it was the Holiday Inn in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.
Next stop: Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Tigers vs. Orioles)