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Bricks with a message pave way to PNC Park

Friday, March 30, 2001

By Ed Bouchette, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Fans won't have to be told to watch their step as they enter PNC Park. It will become part of the experience.

The Pirates have paved two areas outside the main entrance to the ballpark and another near their offices with more than 10,000 bricks, bought by fans, with personal, engraved messages.

To walk into the home plate gate at PNC Park is to walk across rows of engraved bricks, here being scrubbed by Robert Ludwig of Franco Construction. (John Beale/Post-Gazette)

The bricks bear messages that range from down-home to downright esoteric.

"For my granddad, a Pirate fan just like me. Jason Falls," reads one.

Then there are those that have meanings only to the ones who wrote them, such as "Tony Biancardi. Unluckiest Fan."

Whatever the message, it will last for years. The Pirates sold 10,106 of the blue paving stones in two sizes: 8 inches by 8 inches, for $150, and 4 inches by 8 inches, $75. They sold an additional 4,022 replicas -- for $49.95 -- as keepsakes.

All proceeds benefit the Roberto Clemente Foundation and many of the messages carry Clemente's name or No. 21, such as the one from an anonymous person that reads: "21 An Angel in the Outfield."

"I thought it was a great response by the fans," said Steve Greenberg, the Pirates vice president for new stadium development. "It gives fans ownership, lets them be part of this ballpark."

Many of those responding were former players. Some examples:

"Thanks Buccos for letting me live my dream. Steve Blass, No. 28."

"Thanks, fans! It was great being a Pirate! Orlando Merced."

"Thank you Pittsburgh for 20 great years." There was no name on this one, but Bill Virdon bought it.

Eventually, the Pirates will install two kiosks near the bricks, where fans can punch in their names and locate their bricks on a video display grid.

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