The Pittsburgh Pirates are celebrating 50 years in Bradenton! Opening Day at Lecom Park saluted Manatee County for its support over the years. A tribute on the giant video screen celebrating the big fifty and a giveaway to everyone coming to the game was just a part of the celebration. Local dignitaries and former Pirates players were in attendance. Omar Moreno and John Candelaria from the 1979 World Series winning team made appearances. Over in the concession area there was live music by Chad and George. Of course, Pirate Parrot was entertaining the crowd with his antics!
Lecom Park, formerly McKechnie Field is the third oldest ballpark in the U.S. behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, built in 1923. The Pirates contract with Manatee County currently runs through 2037. In 2010, the Pirates minor league team, the Bradenton Marauders began playing at the spring training park and you can catch one of their games during the regular summer baseball season. The park has been named the best spring training ballpark in Florida by Ballpark Digest two years in a row.
The first game of the 2018 season saw the Pirates hosting the New York Yankees to a crowd of about 8,000. There are 16 scheduled spring training home games this season as well as away games in spring training parks with teams in Sarasota, Tampa, Lakeland and Ft. Myers. A great way to see some of the top baseball stars up close and personal.
There are pitching games for the kids or hang out on the deck to watch the game. Check out baseball memorabilia auctions for autographed photos and more. The Pirates team store is open for fans to purchase everything Pirates. Darwin Brewery Company is across the street from the park and a popular spot before and after the game. Gates open 2 hours prior to game time. Don’t miss out on one of Bradenton’s best major league activities besides our great beaches!
photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photograpy