Penguins honored before Pirates game today


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The Penguins felt like sharing, and the Pirates clearly were honored to oblige.

The Stanley Cup champions called their North Shore neighbors late Saturday night to ask if Sidney Crosby and a few of his teammates could bring the Cup to PNC Park this afternoon, prompting the baseball team's officials to hastily -- and delightedly -- arrange a pregame ceremony that became a vocal, emotional prequel to the parade that will flood Downtown streets tomorrow.


For more photos from today's Penguins' outing visit the PG gallery: Pirates honor the Penguins at PNC Park


One by one, head coach Dan Bylsma and 16 players were introduced to the crowd of 25,000-plus, including Game 7 hero Max Talbot, Bill Guerin, Jordan Staal, Hal Gill, Kris Letang, Mark Eaton, Philippe Boucher, Matt Cooke, Chris Kunitz, Craig Adams, Eric Godard, Jeff Taffe, Chris Minard and Mathieu Garon.

Crosby came last, with the Cup, and drew the loudest ovation when he hoisted it high over his head, just as he did Friday in Detroit.

To signify being the first professional sports team since the 1979 Pirates to win a championship Game 7 on the road, most of the Penguins' players wore Pirates jerseys, with Talbot and Staal donning Matt Capps No. 55 models, and Godard being given Morgan's No. 3 because those two once were teammates in the Western Hockey League.

"The whole thing gave me the willies," Morgan said.

It showed. Morgan, who did not switch from baseball to hockey until he was 20, was the most animated of the Pirates' players during the ceremony, at one point igniting a "Let's Go Pens" chant. He also caught Guerin's ceremonial first pitch.

That offering was low and outside, one of his few misfires in recent weeks.

"Don't you know, a split-fingered fastball is supposed to drop like that?" Guerin joked. "I was imagining a left-handed batter I had to brush back."

In reality ...

"Nyjer was trying to coach me through it: He said, 'Just throw it. Throw it hard.' I tried. I think I need some Absorbine Junior."

Guerin estimated that he had gotten two hours of sleep -- "A nap between 5 and 7 a.m. just now" -- since Crosby first handed him the Cup Friday, and that he has no plan to rest anytime soon.

"It's been an amazing couple of days, doing all this," he said. "This city is just crazy about it right now, and it's just awesome. Pittsburgh is such a great sports town, and they love all their teams. The fans are ... it's just been incredible. And I'm enjoying every minute of it. I don't want to sleep."

He was asked if he could imagine what the parade will be like.

"No. It's going to be pretty nuts, I think. But a good nuts. People love their teams here, and it's going to be awesome."

Check PBC Blog for details, updates.


Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com.


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