It was the moment I have been waiting for since the date was announced back in December. The Pirates Caravan rolled into Morgantown West Virginia to appease the 125 fans waiting for them at Damons. On top of having a great selection of barbecued items, Damons was gracious enough to host the Morgantown stop for the caravan.
The event began at noon, perfect timing for my 19 credit hour semester. I had a class at 9:30-11 and my next was not until 2:30. There was nothing greater than having my normal lunch break along side some of my favorite players. Manager John Russell, relievers Evan Meek and Kevin Hart, center fielder Andrew McCutchen and broadcasters Greg Brown and Bob Walk and the Pirate Parrot came to the event.
My buddy Andrew and I arrived at the restaurant ten minutes before noon and took our seats. We scouted the crowd and realized we were the only two college students among the fans. Weird considering Morgantown is a full fledged college town, but also understandable because this generation of Pirate fans really ceases to exist. I am of a rare breed and even Andrew (who is a die-hard Orioles fan) considers himself a bigger Pirate fan than most baseball fans in this area. I agree with him whole heartedly.
As we dined on our pulled pork sandwiches we were joined by two familiar faces, fellow WVU students in the journalism school. Although I give them credit for being at the event they were self proclaimed “not Pirates fans.” However, they had a good time and admitted that they would follow along because they do support the Penguins and Steelers.
“Look at this sell out crowd!” he said in a joyous tone. I turned to Andrew and said, “He doesn’t get to say that very often” A reference to the infamous spotty crowds that PNC Park is accustomed to.
However, he got the ball rolling introducing Meek, Hart, McCutchen, Russell and Walk to us all. Each Bucco member gave a minute long introduction and expressed their gratitude along with aspirations for the coming season.
While everyone pretty much sugar coated how great the upcoming season is going to be it did give me up. Hearing John Russell speak is not the most exciting thing in the world. He speaks softly with a monotone voice and it really could put you to sleep. However, he did seem excited with an intimate group of fans in front of him, but still maintained the montotone clarity, or lack there of.
The crowd cheered the loudest for this guy.
No, not Andrew, o wait, yes Andrew. McCutchen that is, not Schuerholz. When his name was announced there were hoops and hollers. Many questions were directed his way including one of my own. I asked a question opened to all on the panel but only Cutch answered. I asked, “Who was the most missed player traded last season?” A genral question without getting too in depth. I was more interested in what Russell had to say, but he did not answer. Meek was hurt most of last season and Hart came to Pittsburgh mid season by way of the Tom Gorzelanny/John Grabow to the Cubs trade. I did not expect them to form too tight of a relationship with the current Bucs. It was obvious that McCutchen said Nyjer Morgan, I knew it was coming. It was well documented back in Spring Training of 2009 that the duo were best buds and forming great chemistry that rubbed off on the rest of the team. I was happy when a large smile grew on Cutch’s face when talking about Morgan.
I ended up collecting many autographs which are displayed below.
Evan Meek, Kevin Hart, Andrew McCutchen, Bob Walk, Greg Brown and John Russell all signed these beautiful picture cards. Each year I have been a Pirate fan these cards are passed out throughout the year. Usually they are just headshots of the players on a small sized card. This year has one of the best sets of these cards I have seen. The McCutchen pose is one of my favorites. He is thrusting his arm towards the air in celebration after one of his home runs.
The shrine dedicated to McCutchen is one of my favorite. I had him autograph a ball on the sweet spot a picture card that was provided and the November issue of Baseball America which features Andrew on the cover, I had the card signed during a game at PNC Park earlier this year.
It was an awesome hour and a half, we had a great time. This weekend I have another Pirates event coming my away. Pirates Fest is taking place in Pittsburgh, my WV buddies plan on going up Sunday. The event begins Friday night and concludes Sunday. Talk about an awesome Pirates week!
Here are some more photos from the day:
The autograph line
Andrew McCutchen and me. Too bad Andrew Schuerholz couldn’t have taken a better pitcture from a better angle.
Announcer Greg Brown and myself posing for the camera. I explained to him about my journalism aspirations and that I hope to take his job someday. He was very encouraging and a down to earth fellow.
The Pirate Parrot made an appearance and brought laughter to the party.
Thank you all for letting me share this experience with you all!