Pittsburgh, PA (WYTV) – After two months of Spring Training, and six road games, the Pirates finally returned to Pittsburgh today for their home opener Monday. Fans once again packed PNC Park for the 129th season in franchise history.
“It took me 45 minutes to get to the Clark Bar to the clubhouse today because it was absolute chaos on General Robinson,” said Manager Clint Hurdle. “Red meant nothing, green meant nothing and sadly there was no supervision to help the process. So I was actually blocked off, two blocks away from the park for 30 minutes.”
“When you have 40 thousand people cheering for every strike thrown it is a huge advantage for us,” said Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez. “We love playing here, we love having all these fans here.”
“Really it is the atmosphere, opening day is always good, but opening day here is really special,” said closer Mark Melancon.
“The road is different than being at home with your fans, we know this place is going to be rocking,” said shortstop Jordy Mercer. “They have been waiting for a long time, since that playoff game.”
“The crowd, we come in and we know what we can do and they are behind us,” said third baseman Josh Harrison. “That adrenaline coming from the crowd really helps.”
“It is probably the most talented group we have had here in a real long time, for as long as I can remember,” said second baseman Neil Walker. “We play together, for each other and that is pretty important.”
“[This is] a group of men committed to playing for the name on the front of their jersey not the back,” said Hurdle. “A city that has a blue collar mentality, that likes to dig things out of the dirt, earn their way and we are a mirror image of each other.”
Last season, the Pirates had the second best home record in baseball and the hope is this year the fans continue to pack PNC Park and make it difficult for opposing teams.