A crowd estimated at more than 2,000 fans -- those in business suits cheering right alongside those in black-and-gold T-shirts -- gathered in Market Square this afternoon for a pep rally urging their Pirates to victory in baseball's wild-card playoff game Tuesday night at PNC Park.
Political leaders, corporate chiefs and Pirates executives took turns toasting the team and the fans for their support through the past summer, which marked the end of a 20-year drought between winning seasons.
"It's a good day," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "It just goes to show you that the human heart is the most amazing muscle in the body. We have twisted yours for 21 years. And what you're feeling out there today is significant and it's special. And these men are feeling the same thing, trust me. And we owe a lot to you."
Fans rally as Pirates prepare for playoffs
Fans by the hundreds gathered Downtown today to cheer for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who play the Cincinnati Reds in a one-game playoff Tuesday -- the Pirates' first post-season appearance in more than two decades. (Video by Nate Guidry; 9/30/2013)
The half-hour rally featured music and free T-shirts, banners and Jolly Rogers waving from the sidewalks to the rooftops overlooking Market Square.
Team broadcasters, coaches, the Pirate Parrot mascot and a few players also were on hand, though only rookie pitcher Gerrit Cole was there from the team's active roster, as the rest of the squad took part in workouts readying themselves for Tuesday night's one-game playoff.
Pirates President Frank Coonelly saluted the fans for providing the team with the second-highest attendance in franchise history -- more than 2.25 million fans -- and the highest TV ratings the Bucs have ever had.
"You have sustained us when we were down," Mr. Coonelly said. "You know, they say, 'We play for October.' But more importantly, we play for you, the fans of Pittsburgh.
"This is a rally. Well, we understand the difference between a rally and a parade. Let's get back here in three-and-a-half weeks for a parade down Grant Street."
Dan Majors: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456. First Published September 30, 2013 12:15 PM