Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
Number of Games: 2
Three Rivers Stadium was destroyed in 2001.
First Game: June 19, 1993 (Pirates 8, Mets 3)
Last Game: July 1, 1994 (Reds 4, Pirates 2)
I’ve been to over 100 major league games, and these two are not among the most memorable. Not even the box score jogs my memory much about what happened on the field. The stadium itself was cookie cutter, carpeted, and bland–identical to Riverfront,, the Vet,,and Busch. Nothing to remember there. But, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t remember much about the games anyway because I attended them with my college buddy Rob, and we tend to screw around to the point where the games, especially bad ones like these, become nothing more than background fodder for our jokes.
Thankfully, at the Mets game, we sat a couple of rows away from any other people, and nobody could get annoyed at our strange rituals. We looked like a couple of major nerds, each wearing team T-shirts, caps, and gloves (although we turned out to be so far down the right-field line and in the second deck that even Barry Bonds would have had trouble reaching us, that is, if he’d still been a Pirate). Rob and I have one of those senses of humor where, if it’s funny once, it’s way funnier on the 19th time. I think we get it from David Letterman. Anyway, Frank Tanana was starting for the Mets that day and getting shelled (this was his last major league season, and, as of when we saw him, he would only win three more games in his career–but lose 11). So, as he was warming up, I started singing the introduction to Paul Simon’s “Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes.” “Sing Ta-na-na…Ta-na-na-na…Frank Tanana’s pitching tonight.” Rob, of course, would jump in with harmony every time. So, eight years later, this is what I remember of the Mets game: Frank Tanana getting shelled, and Rob and I singing Ta-na-na every time Frank did something, culminating in “Sing Ta-na-na-na…Tanana’s in a world of shit.” He was yanked soon after. Quite funny. Maybe you had to be there. Thankfully nobody else was.
Oh–and somebody hit a SCREAMING line foul to the lower deck beneath us, which a studly linebacker guy caught with one bare hand. I still remember that slapping noise. “PSHH!” After everyone roared their approval, Rob actually shouted to the guy: “Give it to your girlfriend!” The guy turned around to Rob…maybe not hearing what he said…and shook his arm at his side, mouthing the word “Ow!!!!” beneath a giant grimace. Good to see a studly linebacker guy admit to pain. But that’s it. That’s all I’ve got besides the box score.
After the game…oh my. Rob and I wanted to catch SportsCenter before we went back to the hotel. So we looked in the program for a sports bar, and picked Hooters because it had an address we knew we could find. God as our witness, we had no idea that it was an establishment centered on tight, low-cut T-shirts. We’d never heard of it (remember, this is 1993). We didn’t even clue in on the name. So the only trip to Hooters I’ve made in my life was quite the experience. To reiterate, Rob and I looked like complete nerds. We’d taken off the gloves, but we still had the hats, and I still had my scorepad and pencil, and, well, we probably look like nerds every day of our lives, even without the accoutrements. And maybe I’m being paranoid, but I swear when our waitress saw us, her face fell, as if to say: “You mean I’ve got to serve these guys?” Then–and this is the absolute truth–they seated us on the opposite end of the restaurant, as far away as possible from from all the drunken idiot boys, with countless empty tables between us…and even farther from the bachelor party.
Rob and I had gone there to watch SportsCenter, but they had beach volleyball on the screen by our table. We wanted them to switch our set to SportsCenter, but not if it would switch every TV in the joint. Beach volleyball…if we wanted to see breasts, there were plenty of the live version walking past carrying potato skins; why bother with the TV? But we didn’t want to ask our server who was so disappointed to have us. We picked out another server who I’ll call Siobhan. We decided, based on her carriage and attitude, that she was a college woman making her tuition money by wearing low-cut T-shirts here. We figured we’d have a better shot getting her to listen to us than our supercilious waitress. We flagged her down and asked her if she could switch just our TV without changing all the others…and got the most inarticulate drivel in response. I swear she could barely talk. I said: “So much for the college theory,” and Rob and I laughed a fairly mean and spiteful laugh at Siobhan’s expense. But she got our TV switched. Our server, who seemed to hold us in such contempt, surprised us at the end of the night. She sat down and chatted with us a while when we paid the bill, asking us if we liked Pittsburgh, telling us about her Budweiser modeling gigs, talking about the etymology of Siobhan’s name.
It was quite a bizarre social experiment, dropping a couple of nerdy boys and a scorepad in the middle of Hooters. Rob and I had so many questions on our ride home: did they intentionally segregate us from the less-nerdy crowd? why did our server sit down to talk to us? was she required to do that? did she believe us to be safe? better and nicer than, for instance, the drunken boys at the bachelor party? had we somehow grown on her? what exactly was her attitude towards us, anyway? were we just nerdy enough to get lucky? We almost talked ourselves into going back for lunch the next day to solve the mystery of why the large-breasted Budweiser model who seemed to dislike us so much would sit down and chat with us. I was 23 then. I’m 31 as I write this, and sometime in those 8 years, I have realized that that (the return trip) was exactly their goal, and surely the premeditated purpose of the conversation at our (and, no doubt, every other) table. I have not been back to a similar establishment since.
As little as I remember from the Mets game, I remember even less from the Reds game. I was there with Rob and a friend of his the weekend I was looking for an apartment in Pittsburgh (where I did a year towards an MFA in poetry…so the writing you see here is, in fact, the result of a little training. Can’t you tell?). The only detail I remember from this game is missing a scoring decision on a wild pitch/passed ball by Lance Parrish, whom I was surprised to see was still alive and hitting .284. Rob and his friend missed the scoring decision too. The high school kid sitting to our right said he thought it was a wild pitch. I told him that I’d write it down that way, and if he was wrong, I swore I would find him and kick his butt. His response: “You’ll have to get in line behind my father.” Come to think of it, I never did check to see if he was right or wrong. Let me look at the box score…it was a passed ball. Hmmm. It’s been 7 years, and this kid is no doubt a productive member of society by now, and he’s forgotten me. Perhaps he thinks he’s safe, but nothing matches the wrath of a scorer given bad information. He will certainly be surprised when I break down his door and beat the living hell out of him.
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
Precious little. Every team was bad.
Fred Toliver’s last major league win…he threw three pitches, got Darren Jackson to pop out, then was pinch hit for in an inning where the Bucs scored 5 runs.
Lance Parrish allows two passed balls to get by him in the 1994 game. He is, I believe, the last player I saw in my 1980 Major League debut that I see in action in a later Major League game.
(Written August 2001. Updated December 2001.)