Some walked across the Clemente Bridge and stood in line waiting to get into PNC Park on Tuesday night. Others parked in nearby lots, hours before the first pitch, sharing food, fun and a few beverages.
Mothers and sons, husbands and wives, friends and family, all wearing Pittsburgh Pirates apparel.
Welcome to Buctober.
The Pirates were making their first postseason appearance since 1992, and people from all over Cambria and Somerset counties were not about to miss the National League wild-card playoff game.
The Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 to advance to the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“It’s pretty awesome,” 22-year-old Josh Barron of Somerset said in a parking lot between PNC Park and Heinz Field about four hours before the game started. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed about but never thought that I would be here. I’m so excited. I couldn’t even sleep last night. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to experience. I’ve experienced it for the Penguins and Steelers, but never the Pirates.”
That was a common refrain from younger fans. The Pirates had not made playoffs – or even had a winning record – since 1992, so the excitement level was extremely high long before the sun began to set on the Allegheny River.
“It sounds like a (cliché), but I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this,” said Chris Moehler, a 22-year-old who now lives in Virginia but was born in Johnstown.
Moehler was tailgating next to Barron, who was with a group of friends from Somerset County.
“This is pretty big – Buctober,” said 28-year-old Guiseppi Betta, who grew up in Somerset but now lives in Mount Lebanon. “You can’t beat it. I think it means more for the city. It’s cool to see everyone wearing Pirates gear.”
Like Barron, Betta and Moehler, 22-year-old Jim Hammett of Johnstown can’t remember what it’s like to see the Pirates play in the postseason.
His mother, on the other hand, can. She couldn’t wait to take her son to his first playoff game.
“I bought the tickets when they came online, for him, because I know how excited he was,” 58-year-old Janet Hammett said. “I wanted to share this with him.”
The Hammetts got their tickets in right field for $90 apiece – which was a relative bargain for a game where standing-room-only tickets were going for $150 or more on Tuesday.
“I always said, my whole life, I vowed to be at the first PNC Park playoff game,” Jim Hammett said. “(I’m a) lifelong Pirate fan. It’s kind of a Steelers town, Penguins town, but I’ve always been a Pirate guy first. It’s real exciting to be a part of it all.”
Eric Glotfelty, a 34-year-old season-ticket holder from Berlin, also was at the game with his mother, Nancy. They were the first ones in line at the left-field gate at 4 p.m. – a full hour and a half before the stadium opened to fans.
“We've been to at least 25 (games) this year,” Eric Glotfelty said.
“It’s been a pretty fun run for the Pirates. Hopefully they can keep it up. We have tickets clear through the World Series, if they make it.”
Eric Knopsnyder is the editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/eric_knopsnyder.