Sports Roses Adventure in the Steel City

baseball roses at 2013 NL Wild Card Game at PNC Park

Sports Roses™ make their first appearance at PNC Park and Heinz Field

By Mark Ellingson, Sports Roses Founder & Creator

At the end of September, I had the opportunity to visit Pittsburgh, PA for the first time. A close friend of mine grew up there and has always been very proud to talk about her hometown. She offered to show me what makes the Burgh so special during my visit. I have a personal goal to visit all the major league ballparks and I find it a lot more meaningful when a native provides a local perspective during my sightseeing.

fans walk across the roberto clemente bridge to get to pnc park

The Steel City has a rich sports history filled with 5 World Series titles, 6 Super Bowl championships, and 3 Stanley Cups. The city has been transformed over the past 12 years with the addition of 3 new world-class sporting venues – PNC Park, Heinz Field, and Consol Energy Center. The aesthetic design of these facilities make it appear like the city was built around the ballparks. A strong loyal fan base is required to create this type of environment for sports and Pittsburgh fans are not shy to show their enthusiasm for their favorite teams.

I selected my travel date to Pittsburgh at the end of the baseball season when both the Pirates (also commonly referred to as the Bucs) and Steelers had a home game scheduled on the same day. The day consisted of a Sunday afternoon game for the Bucs on their final home game of the season and a Sunday Night Football game for the Steelers. I never imagined that 2013 would turn into such a special year for the Pirates, playing their best baseball in 21 years. The Bucs concluded their regular season with a winning record and a trip to the postseason for the first time since 1992. The added element of playoff contention made my experience at PNC Park even more exciting. The atmosphere around PNC Park was electric with a sold out crowd.

Pittsburgh Pirate fan looks out over PNC Park as fans raise the Jolly Rogers

I became inspired while watching the Bucs’ postseason run and started work on a new t-shirt design to commemorate the Baseball Rose’s first visit to PNC Park. The Baseball Rose™ Pirate T-Shirt depicts a pirate clenching a Baseball Rose™ in his mouth after raising the Jolly Roger and exclaiming he “Rose It”. If you weren’t aware, ‘Raise the Jolly Roger’ is a popular expression used by by Bucs fans to signify a game win and they accomplished that feat 94 times during the 2013 regular season. This is the first t-shirt design available for purchase that features the Baseball Rose™ on it. I limited the production to only 100 shirts and each one is individually numbered. There are still a few t-shirts left, which you can order here.

giving out baseball roses and pirate t-shirts at pnc park

For extra fun during the Baseball Rose’s first PNC Park visit, I created a dozen gift arrangements that included a Baseball Rose™ and a T-shirt and hid them around the ballpark. The locations were announced on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter using hashtag #PNCHideSeek in a PNC Hide & Seek game. A few of the winners even shared their treasure discovery on Twitter.

It was a beautiful sunny day in the 70’s, perfect baseball weather. Although the Pirates didn’t win that day against the Reds, the Pirates would go on to beat the Reds 3 times in a row to conclude the regular season and secure home field advantage for the 1 game NL Wild Card playoff game. I’ll share more on that Wild Card game in a moment.

After the Pirates game, my friend Dawn took me on a sight-seeing adventure to the scenic Point State Park before heading to Heinz Field. The park is located at the point where three rivers meet (Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers forming into the Ohio River) and offers a great view of Heinz Field across the Allegheny River. The centerpiece of the park is a beautiful fountain area that provides a great place to relax and take in a 360 degree view around the city.

visiting pittsburgh point state park with heinz field in background

A short walk across the Fort Duquesne Bridge took us to Heinz Field. Tailgating takes on a new experience here with party boats docked along the Allegheny River. I stopped at a grassy knoll to take some photos of a Steelers-themed Football Rose™ arrangement before entering the stadium.
This Steelers started their 2013 season winless through their first 4 games (I would be witness loss #3), but that didn’t stop fans from filling the stadium. It was fun to experience the game from a Pittsburgh fan’s perspective…Terrible Towel and all.

football roses at heinz field to watch the pittsburgh steelers and chicago bears during sunday night football

After I returned back home, the Pirates clinched a playoff spot in the 2013 Wild Card game. PNC Park would host it’s first playoff game ever. I reached out to a few new friends in Pittsburgh to help me bring Baseball Roses™ to this special event. Tiffany and John helped pass out a special commemorative pin to fans before the game.
giving out baseball roses at pnc park for the 2013 NL wild card game
We also gave fans an opportunity to win a Baseball Rose™ if they could answer Pirates trivia correctly. As we were passing out souvenirs, we ran into Sean “The Mayor” Casey and gave him a Baseball Rose. He loved it! It was a very special night for Pittsburgh. The Bucs would win their first playoff game in 21 years and move on to the NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Buctober would continue in Pittsburgh. I was very proud to see the Baseball Rose™ be a part of Pittsburgh history.

Good luck to the Bucs in the postseason!

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