Amy, Olivia and I headed down to the David L Lawrence Convention Center on Friday for the season ticket holder only portion of Piratefest.
The general public would have to wait until Saturday and Sunday to attend. As an added perk, since I had paid for my three season tickets in full, I was granted early access at 4 PM, two and a half hours before the rest of the season ticket holders are allowed in.
Therefore, when 4PM came, we walked in, and the few season ticket holders that were paid in full flocked to the autograph lines and the clubhouse store to take advantage of their 40% off coupons. It made the hall eerily empty.
By the way, Jeff Karstens was working scanning our tickets:
And Andrew McCutchen, James McDonald, and Neil Walker were working passing out the calendars to fans:
Our first stop was the Pirates Clubhouse store.
There I purchased a Pirates 2011 style BP hat for $14 with the VIP shopping coupon that was sent to me. The second stop was the authenticated merchandise area. There were lots of game used jerseys, balls, bats, line up cards, etc there.
Some of the merchandise was rather pricey. An Andrew McCutchen game used road jersey?
I considered buying a Herbie Andrade game used jersey to hopefully get the guy to like me again after seeing me switch shirts to the visiting team, but $125 seemed too expensive.
I did end up buying some game used merchandise. First, I bought a bag of four game used baseballs:
The balls were in a grab bag. Each ball was game used and has an authentication sticker on it with a hologram. I got a ball from Opening Day 2008 in Atlanta, a ball from the 2008 home opener, a ball from 2011 when Joel Hanrahan set a save record, and a Garrett Jones RBI base hit baseball from June 20 2011 vs Indians. Pretty cool, they’ve got to be worth more than the $5 each that I paid. At worst I was planning on peeling off the stickers and giving them away as decoy balls throughout the 2012 season.
Also, there were lineup cards from every game from the 2011 season. They were all in chronological order, so I flipped through and bought one from the day Olivia was born. She was actually born as the game was going on!
So, it will get framed and hang in her bedroom. It was only $25 by the way, not too bad.
There was a large Christmas tree in the middle of the convention center, but besides that, there weren’t many Christmas decorations. It was all black and gold everywhere.
We took advantage of the low crowds to head over to the MVP zone, which is a season ticket holder only area with short lines. There we got autographs from:
Daniel McCutchen and Michael McKenry.
McCutchen recognized me and asked how many balls McKenry had thrown me. I told him ‘none.’ I also told him he threw one to me in 2011, albeit by accident, as it was a random flip up into the stands in Cleveland.
There was Alex Presley and Kevin Correia:
and Clint Barmes, Jose Tabata and Chris Resop. Joel Hanrahan was at the table too, but bailed about two minutes before I got up to the table.
We also stopped by the 2012 Promotional booth, where many of the give aways from the coming year are on display. There was a wall of shirts from Free Shirt Fridays:
And a closer look at the 12 shirts that will be given away:
First is a plain looking white tee shirt that’s kind of boring, followed by a rather sharp black shirt.
There is a camo Pirates logo shirt and a generic gray shirt.
Two weird design shirts, one of silhouettes of Pirates players past and present, and another silhouette of Andrew McCutchen on a white shirt:
A gold Pirates shirt, which is great for ballhawking because it makes you stand out, and a gray shirt with the Pittsburgh skyline on it, as seen from PNC Park:
Two really weird shirts for rappers:
And a Roberto Clemente shirt along with a snazzy gold Pirates shirt to conclude the season:
Other items were a Pirate Parrot doll and Pirates bowls:
A Joel Hanrahan bobblehead and Neil Walker mom and kid jerseys:
A Pirates umbrella:
A Pirates floatation device, sunglasses, and hat:
A kids necklace, visor, cooler bag, and gym bag:
The promotions didn’t get me very excited. It seemed to be the same old stuff except with a different design. The Pirates gym bag and a couple of the shirts are the only promotions that I would be interested in actually keeping for myself.
Piratefest also features game shows that fans can participate in. There was deal or no deal, which is so boring because its old and the prizes have been the same for years:
And Jeopardy, which was painful to watch,
mainly because the three contestants were idiots.
The kid on the left didn’t know Andrew McCutchen’s number. I missed one question: Bob Friend let the league in what category in 1955? There was one other question I didn’t know: What is the Minnesota Twins’ mascot? Every other question I answered aloud to Amy correctly.
Before leaving at 6:40 pm, I played three games. I ended up winning free tickets on two of them. Not bad.
Piratefest is always something I look forward to every year, and its usually the same stuff every year, but it still breaks up the offseason a little bit and gets me looking forward to baseball again.
We were back at Piratefest on Sunday for the third and final day of the three day weekend baseball event. The Pirates had sent me six tickets, so I sold two, used two on Friday, and saved the last two for today.
Before heading to Piratefest, I was treated to breakfast at a restaurant named DeLuca’s in the Strip District.
I had never been to DeLuca’s let alone the strip district, so this was a nice little adventure for me. DeLuca’s proclaims to have the ‘Best Breakfast in Town,’ and the large line that was waiting outside in the cold drizzle.
We waited for about twenty minutes before getting into the small, packed restaurant. One of the restaurant’s claim to fame is being featured on the Man vs Food series.
We had pancakes…
Chocolate strawberry pancakes for her:
And blueberry pancakes for me:
I also had a side of sweet sausage, which tasted much better than it looked.
The food was great, and it filled me up until 5 PM. I wasn’t crazy about the interior Steeler decorating, especially after being hassled at every corner by street vendors selling Steeler pennants and buttons. I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl being over so this town settles down.
When we got to the David L Lawrence Convention Center around 11:40, twenty minutes before the doors were to open, we were greeted by a monstrous line that snaked around and to the back of the convention center.
It took us about 10 minutes after the gates opened to finally get into Piratefest.
When we entered, we headed over to the MVP Zone to get autographs from Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf.
I had Ross sign my calendar since he signed a ball for me yesterday. Paul Maholm also signed a ball. Interestingly, he dropped the number 28 from his signature (the other 3 signatures on balls I have from Paul have a 28) – perhaps he expects to be traded in the coming months. He is in the final year of a contract, although the Pirates hold an option for 2012, which most certainly will be turned down since its for $9.75 million.
Later in the MVP Zone (which is for Season Ticket Holders only) we had Jose Tabata sign a baseball,
along with 1991 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek.
Drabek was probably my second favorite Pirate of the 1990-1992 teams, with Andy Van Slyke being the first.
The MVP Zone is one of the nice perks of being a season ticket holder. Season Ticket Holders can get autographs there without waiting an average of 90 minutes on the other side of the Convention Center. The same players come over to the MVP Zone throughout the day either before or after they are done signing for the general public.
Good (Season Ticket Holder autograph lines):
Bad (everyone else):
The other autograph that I got today was Andrew McCutchen. We were allowed two autographs per person, so I had him sign a baseball and a Canvas Photo Wrap that I had won earlier in the day.
We didn’t play many games because the lines were ridiculously long. I didn’t really see the point of standing in line for 30 minutes to spin a wheel and win some give away stuff that I already have at home.
We caught some of the entertainment at the Piratefest stage:
There was Deal or No Deal:
More Minute to Win It, this time with Paul Maholm:
and Family Feud with the “Maholm Family” pitted against the “Morton Family.”
It was Paul Maholm vs Charlie Morton, and each player had 3 other fans assigned to his ‘family.’ The questions were related to the Pirates or Pittsburgh, and season ticket holders were those surveyed to provide the results for the game.
Here’s a video of a round of it:
That was basically it for the day. Got a few autographs, walked around, played a couple games at the beginning of the day before the crowd swelled, and watched some games at the Piratefest stage.
The Pirates set an all time record for the Piratefest weekend, drawing 16,839 fans, which was an increase of 1,400 over last year. The thing is, this is my fifth year as a season ticket holder, and every other year, I only received two free tickets to Piratefest. This year, I was given six. I saw some fans giving away their passes at the door. Therefore, I believe that the numbers are ‘juiced’ by the flood of free tickets that were distributed to the fan base. Yes, there’s some reason to be excited, but a 105 loss team doesn’t just draw an all time record to its Fanfest. Does anyone expect the Pirates to even approach their 2001 attendance home figure of 33,000 per game? No.
The real test of how excited this town really is about Pirates baseball will be the home attendance. We’ll see how many folks show up. By the way, the Pirates raised ticket prices for the first time in nine years this week. Season Ticket and advance purchased tickets will stay the same, but tickets purchased on the day of the game will be about an average of $3 more.
I’m hoping that attendance stays low, at least for batting practice, so it makes collecting baseballs easier, but we’ll see.
Spring Training is just around the corner. Get ready.
Today was the first day of a weekend long event at the David L Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh known as ‘Piratefest.’
Piratefest has been going on since the late 1980’s, as I remember going to a Piratefest in Monroeville and getting a baseball signed by Jim Leyland, Bill Landrum, Mike LaVailliere, Randy Kramer, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff King, etc.
The Pirates dedicated this first day to season ticket holders only. Earlier this month, I received four tickets to this day, plus 2 additional passes that could be used for any of the three days this weekend. In essence, I was given six tickets. So, I sold two of the for $25 earlier in the week. Leaving me two for today, and two that I would use on Sunday.
I asked Garrett Jones to sign one of the balls from my decoy collection (which is slowly dwindling away.) Decoy balls are balls I take to games to give away on occasion.
I didn’t ask Correia to sign anything, that was probably a jerk move, and in retrospect, I should’ve had him sign the Pirates 2011 Calendar that was given away.
Speaking of that Calendar, it was the highlight of Piratefest for me. The Pirates passed out a bag that included the Piratefest schedule and program along with a full 12 month 12 page Color calendar.
Here’s the front:
It included coupons, which are pretty useless to me.
The $5 off at the Pirates Clubhouse store is only valid on non game days. Also, the buy one get one free ticket offer doesn’t really help me out since I’m a season ticket holder.
Pedro Alvarez, April,
Jose Tabata, August
Andrew McCutchen, October
Pirate Parrot, December
After getting Jones to sign, we headed over to the Piratefest stage and watched ‘Minute to Win It’ Pirates Edition.
The game was hosted by PNC Park ballpark host Joe Klimchak and featured contestants trying to complete tasks in less than 60 seconds with every day household items. For each challenge that a contestant successfully completed in less than 60 seconds, they were awarded a prize and given the option to continue to the next ‘level’ or accept their prize and walk away.
The first two contestants were duds. The first was a young boy who was about 7 years old and was outmatched by the first game, known as Vacuum.
The boy had to transport five M&M’s from one side of the stage to the other using only a straw and his lung capacity to suck an M&M onto the end of the straw and keep it there until dropping it into a bucket at the other side of the stage. He couldn’t manage to get one M&M to even stay on his straw.
The second contestant we dubbed as ‘Perfume Lady’ because she had so much perfume on that it was overpowering. We could smell her from four rows away.
She managed to transport one M&M, which Joe Klimchak decided was ‘good enough,’ then failed miserably at the next task, which was blowing 20 cups off of a table using only a balloon that they could blow up multiple times.
The most successful contestant a fan named Bob, who went through all of the Minute to Win it tasks, before failing to keep three balloons in the air for a minute.
I recorded several of his challenges.
‘Bucket Head’ with Garrett Jones
There are four other videos that I’ll link instead of embedding in this blog of the fan’s other Minute to Win It Challenges. Click the links below to go to see them on youtube:
Defying Gravity (keeping three balloons in the air)
Junk In the Trunk (dancing around to empty 8 ping pong balls from a Kleenex box on one’s hips)
Quick Draw (empty a box of Kleenex using only one hand)
Cup Blow? (blow 20 cups off of a table using a balloon – not sure of the name here)
The other entertainment at the Piratefest stage included an ask the Pirates management session:
It featured Manager Clint Hurdle, General Manager Neal Huntington, and President Frank Coonelly.
We really didn’t hang around to watch because it was rather packed.
On the other side of the convention center, Garrett Jones was challenging fans at Guitar Hero. Yawn. No interest here.
Nearby were the Pirates promotional items for 2011. There aren’t as many as in years past, but here’s what you can expect in the coming year at PNC Park:
The most useful giveaway, and the only one that I ever keep will be Pirates T-Shirts, given away every Friday. Here are several of the shirts that you can look forward to in 2011:
There will be a 1971 Pirates World Series Celebration Canvas Photo Wrap:
A Neil Walker bobblehead (the only one of 2011) and a Pirates Stars and Stripes Floppy Hat:
An Andrew McCutchen Action Figurine and a Pirates hat:
And several of the kids Sunday giveaways:
The Friday session of Piratefest ended at 10PM, but we ended up leaving around 8, having seen enough.
Before taking off, I did the strike zone challenge, and threw two balls from about 15 feet away towards a 1 foot by 1 foot strike zone. One ball in the zone won a PNC Park photo wrap, while two out of two through the zone would win a Pirates T-Shirt.
We’ll be back at Piratefest on Sunday. An entry will be forthcoming.