Leave it to a group of guys from my native New England to show me just hos special a place Pittsburgh.
I mean I have lived here 16 years and how many times have I ridden the Duquesne Incline? Twice. How often have I visited the Warhol Museum. Twice maybe. When do I make a point to run up to the observation decks on Mount Washington? I can probably count those visits on two hands.
The point is while we all live in Pittsburgh, how often do we take the time to visit the sites and landmarks that make Pittsburgh so special . In other words, how often do we put on the tourist hat and travel around our town? Well, I did this weekend and, would you have guessed, it was a group of Red Sox fans who turned me into a tourist.
Walking by PNC Park, I saw a bunch of Red Sox fans standing outside the gates more than 8 hours before the first pitch. Curiosity got the better of me so I asked why. One Red Sox rooter, Alan Gerofsky, brought his group of guys to the gates. Each year, he organized this group of diehard Red Sox fans on a road trip to another major league town. This time, it was Pittsburgh and PNC Park. This morning, he had organized a group tour of PNC Park … and asked if I wanted to join them.
A tour of PNC PARK? I covered the Pirates for their first six seasons at the ballpark and had a season pass. I have been to more than 200 Pirate games and sat in the press box and various seats around the stadium. I figured I had seen it all but then again, no one had ever taken me around the ballpark and really explained the history, I figured why not!
Our tour guide took us from the indoor batting cage to the press box and down onto the field. Our visitors from Boston were impressed with amenities, the views and the incredible view of downtown Pittsburgh from the press box. Their measuring stick? Only the most beloved ballpark in America: Fenway Park. Still, even the wearer of the Red had to be impressed with Black and Gold. Since I came along for the ride, I was able to add some insight and commentary from my baseball experiences in this ballpark.
Still, I was in awe like the group itself. While I had been inside this park many times, there were stories I had not heard. There were places I did not see until this Saturday morning and there is still the sight of coming out of the dugout and onto the field that takes my breath away every time I stop by the North Shore home of the Pirates.
What this group of buddies and Boston Red Sox fans taught me is this: We always marvel at the sights when we visit other cities, but rarely take the time to take in the tourist spots of Pittsburgh. Whether it be a duck boat tour or a double-decker tourist bus drive through town, take time to be a sightseers in our town.
Who would have thought it would be a group of Bostonians than helped me to take another look at Pittsburgh.