Pittsburgh Pirates’ Spring Training Home: 5 Facts About McKechnie Field
The Pittsburgh Pirates call sunny Bradenton, Florida home during the early Spring months between February and late-March. Bradenton is home to the Pirates' Spring Training complex that is McKechnie Field. Called the Fenway Park of MLB Spring Training, the field has played host to some of the best players to ever play the game -- guys like Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski and the like.
Today, it is home to prospective Pirates players looking to make the team and earn a trip to Pittsburgh, hoping to not see anything but PNC Park until the same time next year.
The field itself has comparable dimensions to any professional modern stadium, symmetrically measuring 335' down the lines, 400' straight away, and 375' to the alleys. The field itself has a natural surface grass, dirt base paths and a grass infield. One recognizable attribute the average fan will notice is the gold "P" bordered with black, which sits directly behind home plate. The same logo can be found in the same place at PNC Park.
According to the Pirates’ official website, McKechnie Field is the 16th different training site used by the team since 1900, though they’ve been there since 1969. Other training sites include places in Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, California, Texas, Indiana and Cuba.
The 2014 Season will open on Wednesday, Feb. 26 with a 1:05 p.m. game against the New York Yankees. In total, fans will have a chance to catch at least 15 games (including one night game on March 20 against the Baltimore Orioles) at McKechnie Field during this year's Spring Training.
Named for Bill McKechnie
McKechnie Field was named for former Pittsburgh Pirates' player and manager William "Bill" McKechnie.
A few fun facts about Bill McKechnie:
He won a World Series title with the Pirates as manager in 1925, the first of three in his managerial career.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
He was the manager of the Boston Red Sox during Babe Ruth's final professional season, a season that saw him post a dismal TSL of .181/.359/.431 with only six homers.
He was given the nickname of "Deacon," as he was a very religious man.
Tenure and Future Plans
Opening in 1923, it's the oldest stadium used for Spring Training. In fact, it is likely that this will continue to be the case for some time, as the Pirates and the City of Bradenton have agreed on a lease that will keep the Pirates there until at least 2037.
Other Current Tenants...
The stadium is used outside of Spring Training by the Bradenton Marauders, the Pirates Single-A affiliate in the Florida State League.
Construction, Cost and Capacity
The total cost of construction of the stadium was only $8,000 in 1923, equivalent to around $30,000 when adjusted for inflation. The stadium has seen several renovations and modernizations over the years to add various fan-friendly amenities and additional seating capacity (originally 2,000 fans to now over 8,500 fans).
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