1-23-09 Convention Center : Piratefest ’09
Today marked the kickoff of the weekend long Piratefest at the David L Lawrence Convention Center across the river from PNC Park. Friday is always the best day to go because the crowds are sparse. We got an assist from the Steelers hosting a pep rally at Heinz Field at 7, helping to thin the crowd a bit more.
Holly and I entered Piratefest early with the rest of the season ticket holders. Most people rushed toward the autograph line. However, since we got a lot of autographs last Sunday at Seven Springs, we thought waiting in line to get autographs of players we already got to sign would be a waste of time.
We walked around and bought two Pirates grab bags (filled with junk, as usual) and played the Chuck-a-luck game. I won 2 tickets on my first spin.
Wheel of Fortune was slated to begin at 5PM, so we signed up and waited for the entertainment to begin. Wouldn’t you know it, Holly was selected as a contestant.
Bob Walk served as the host and Jeff Karstens was the special Pirates guest. There was also some other lady on the stage. This is the first year that the Pirates have done Wheel of Fortune at Piratefest, and it showed. Bob Walk didn’t understand the rules very well and had to rely on help from the audience. The Wheel was a computerized wheel on a screen off to the left of the stage. Contestants had to say “Spin” to spin the wheel, and “Stop” to stop the wheel. Puzzles during Holly’s time on stage included “North Shore,” “Paul and Lloyd Waner,” and “Mario Mendoza Line.” Holly had bad luck with the wheel and landed on Bankrupt or Lose a Turn every other time.
Walker was a bit more into the game than Karstens was and made some conversation with me on stage. Hopefully he joins the Pirates at some point in 2009.
I wasn’t nervous on stage, it was actually pretty cool. I ended up coming in second place because Bob Walk helped the other contestant solve a puzzle by tapping on her booth with his knuckles. The phrase was “Knuckleball.”
Bob Walk asked the assistants to get me a different prize rather than the two tickets, but they gave me two infield box seats to a 2009 game anyway.
Holly took a brief video of me playing Wheel of Fortune. If you’d like to watch it, click HERE for the Youtube link.
I’ve also included a few additional pictures below of my Wheel of Fortune experience:
After Wheel of Fortune was over, we stuck around for Pirates Password. You may have seen the game on TV hosted by Regis Philbin. Two contestants were selected from the crowd by mascot Jolly Roger. He selected a 12 year old girl and a surly 60 year old bald man. The girl was paired with Zach Duke, and the older man with Tom Gorzelanny.
Duke and Gorzo each trash talked throughout the game, celebrating and rubbing it in the others face when they did well. There were three rounds, with Gorzelanny and the old man winning the game.
The man won 4 tickets and gets to deliver the line up card before a game.
We were ready to get up and leave since we had been sitting at the stage area for almost 2 hours, but Greg Brown announced that the Pirates would be unveiling their new uniforms shortly, so we stuck around.
The Pirates will wear four different uniforms in 2009. The Home, Road, and Alternate Jerseys are all new, while the Sunday pinstripe jersey remains unchanged. The Home and Road jerseys will now have sleeves for the first time since 2000. The last 8 years, the Pirates wore sleeveless jerseys with a black undershirt. The uniforms will also be constructed of a lighter material, called “Cool Base.” We checked out the new uniforms in the Pirates store and they are very nice. However I couldn’t consider paying $179 for a jersey.
The Pirates also abolished the red alternate jersey after two years. The red jerseys had become unpopular with many fans over the past two years. The new jersey is all black, features a “P” on one side and the player’s number on the other. I thought that it was a really nice looking jersey. I went back to the Pirates store 2 or 3 times and looked at the new alternate jerseys and really wanted to buy one, but didn’t. The new jerseys were selling for $95.
A final change will be to the Pirates batting practice caps. They will eliminate the red from the ear area of the batting practice cap and replace it with all black. So, the BP hat will be all black with a gold line going around the brim and ear area of the hat. They were selling for $32 in the store. Outrageous.
Frank Coonelly talked about the Pirates new uniforms while four Pirates modeled the jerseys for the crowd. The models were:
Matt Capps (Sunday pinstripe jersey)
Freddy Sanchez (Home Jersey)
Nyjer Morgan (Road Jersey)
Nate McLouth (Alternate Jersey).
If you’d like to see a Video portion of the jersey unveiling, please click HERE.
After the uniform unveiling we went over to the Season Ticket holder MVP zone. It is an area that only season ticket holders may enter. There are several couches, a pool table, a Wii station, and an air hockey table here. The best thing about the MVP zone is the ability to get Pirates signatures from players. The autograph lines are always 5 minutes tops. The general autograph lines can take up to 3 hours. We got autographs today from Neil Walker, Sean Burnett, Andrew McCuthchen and Jeff Karstens in the MVP zone. We also caught Matt Capps as he was walking around Piratefest and got him to sign our balls. I asked him what he thought of the new jerseys. He said he liked them and thought that they would be wearing them an awful lot.
With about an hour left in Piratefest we decided to leave. We took a picture of the Pirates 1979 World Series trophy and 2009 promotional items on our way out the door.
In regards to the promotional items, I am probably most excited about the hats.