When I was driving to McKechnie Field, through the neighborhoods, I knew I was going to like this park before I even saw it. I like a ballpark that is part of the city landscape. For me, there is a charm of playing a baseball game in the heart of the city with a chance of foul ball hitting a passing car. When I arrived at the park, I was not disappointed. The park was situated around industrial buildings, automotive garages and residential homes in the older part of town, with the businesses advertising parking in their lots at reasonable rates. I found a church lot, 3 or 4 blocks away, for $4 and I walked from there. The street was bumper to bumper with fans trying to get to the game. The day was overcast, again, and chilly. I had some butterflies, and if I had butterflies I wonder what it is like for the hard core Pirates’ fan that was coming to McKechnie for the first time.
“McKechnie’s nostalgic charms in its city neighborhood appeal to many baseball traditionalists and ballpark enthusiasts, and some consider the facility to be Florida’s version of Fenway Park. It’s built in a Florida Spanish Mission style, with white stucco on the main grandstand and cover bleachers over the reserved seating section. The Pirates and the City of Bradenton celebrated their 40th anniversary together during the 2008 spring training season, which included an agreement between the city and the Pirates to continue their partnership through 2037.” (Wikipedia) I highly recommend reading about more of the history of this field, just click on the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McKechnie_Field.
The park was open and airy, home plate was less than 30 yards from the street, the place had a very historic feel to it. Recent renovations made it possible to walk around the entire stadium and sit in the outfield. There is a large concession area on the 1st base side that had been added in the last couple of years. I walked the original concourse that was behind home plate and down the 3rd base side, which butted up against the outside sidewalk and street. You are on top of the action and very close to the players in the dugout. I rate this as my number one venue to see a spring training game, keep in mind I like the nostalgia. I took a lot of video of this place and I thought I had taken more pictures than I actually did! I hope you enjoy the pictures I posted and hopefully very soon I will have a video!
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