- The weather was perfect. Highs around 78-82 and lows in the mid 50's the entire week. Enough said.
- You can get *very* close to the actual players and coaches. I was able to hear Clint Hurdle talking trash with the players as they took BP. Very, very cool.
- McKechnie Field was upgraded this winter it is worth the trip just to see the beautiful park the Pirates get to call home in March.
The first day I visited was Tuesday, February 19th. This is before the Spring Training games had started so the team was practicing at Pirate City. When I arrived I was unsure if there was a cost or if I could even get in. The staff the Pirates hire around Pirate City were very friendly and pointed me in the right direction. Everything was free. Pirate City is four baseball diamonds backed together with their home plates close to each other. Visitors are allowed to walk in along the outfield between two of the fields. When you get to the home plate area between all of the fields, the other "between" areas are roped off to prevent visitors from walking there and to allow players and coached to move between fields at ease. When I first arrived I was greeted to following site:
You may not notice it at first in the photo but I was so excited to get Maz in the picture that I cut off Clint Hurdle who can be seen in the left side of the photo. That statement kind of sums up the afternoon. There is action going on at all times on all four baseball fields. As a spectator I felt like I couldn't stand too long behind one home plate or I'd miss something on another field.
After I snapped the above photo and turned around to see the action in the next field and saw the this:
I was treated to witness the wonderful personality of Manny Sanguillen. It was awesome. He just kind of wonders from field to field and sits on a stool or in the dugout and hollers support as the Players take BP. He even paused between fields and I was able to score his autograph. What a great person.
Then, I was able to witness the highlight of my day. Andrew McCutchen, Russell Martin, Pedro Alvarez, and Garrett Jones took batting practice together. The following photo isn't very good but you can see Cutch sitting on the bucket to the left of the cage.
And I wish I could say Cutch hit them the best but he didn't. Garrett Jones was hitting absolute bombs that day. He even got a "go Garrett" out of Manny Sanguillen. After they were done with BP the everyone went back to the locker room and that was the end of practice for the day. But that wasn't enough for me. I wasn't leaving until Saturday and they had an intersquad game on Friday. So, when I left Pirate City I made the short drive to McKechnie Field to buy my ticket. I was able to get second row in behind first base for $8. This is, however, cheaper than regular spring training games because it was only an intersquad game. This is a view from my seat:
It was a wonderful day for a ball game and McKechnie field is a beautiful park.
Once again, if you've been on the fence about whether spring training is worth the trip, don't wait any longer. Book a trip for next year and you won't be disappointed.