I became a baseball fan 50 years ago at the age of six. My dad took me to my first game early in the 1968 season- the defending champions the St. Louis Cardinals coming to Forbes Field to play my Pirates. Forbes Field was in its two and a half seasons. I would go to around 20 games at Forbes Field before it closed- including the next to last game they played there. Forbes Field was old but I loved going to games there.

They build Three Rivers Stadium to replace it. Three Rivers was one of the cookie cutter stadiums of the early 70’s- built as a multi-purpose stadium for baseball and football. Like most things new- at first if I recall correctly it got good reviews but it didn’t take long for people to realize that this was a stadium not a ballpark.

In the early 1990’s there started to be talk on the need for a baseball park. Other cities were getting new baseball only ballparks at the time. The funding finally got approved and in the area near Three Rivers Stadium a new baseball park- and one a football stadium for the Steelers started to be built.

I went to the last game at Three Rivers Stadium. It wasn’t a sad occasion. The Pirates and Steelers had a lot of great accomplishments at the place but the place after 30 years was becoming a dump.  It was never a good baseball park to begin with.

In April 2001 the new PNC Park opened. They had two exhibition games there before the regular season opener on April 9, 2001. I went to the second exhibition game on Saturday April 7th. I wasn’t able to get tickets to the home opener on April 9th plus I had to work.

The building of PNC Park most likely saved the Pirates in Pittsburgh. It is a wonderful baseball park with a great view of the city. At the time someone on ESPN said the Pirates {who were in the middle of what would be 20 consecutive losing seasons} playing at PNC Park is like a homeless man wearing a tuxedo. How true.  In this decade the Pirates have become more competitive- actually making the playoffs three seasons in a row at one point.  The ballpark is now in its seventeenth year which is hard to believe. In those seventeen seasons I have not heard one time anyone say ” Boy, I sure do miss Three Rivers Stadium.”  I am sure for the rest of my life PNC Park will be my home ballpark. I can certainly live with that. A great place to see a ball game.

I bought the above t-shirt at one of the exhibition game I went to before the season opened. That season I went to 40 home games. The Pirates were awful but I enjoyed seeing games there.


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