After snowfall, skies clear for pregame ceremonies
PITTSBURGH - Andrew McCutchen was promised the awards months ago. But he didn't actually get them until Monday, when the Pirates' star received his 2012 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards as part of Opening Day ceremonies at PNC Park.
Proving once again that heavenly skies operate on Baseball Time, sunshine flooded the field when the Cubs and the Pirates were introduced.
Only two hours earlier, snow flurries were blocking the view of the wonderful Pittsburgh skyline and of the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
But the skies cleared, on the perennial celestial cue, and the pregame pageantry set a suitable festive table for the main course the National League Central foes soon served up.
The memorable occasion was dedicated to others' memory as, sadly, moments of silence were observed for victims of the December Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy and to members of the Pirates' alumni who passed away since the last Opening Day.
In honor of the Newtown, Conn., victims, managers Clint Hurdle of the Pirates and Dale Sveum of the Cubs, players of both teams, umpires and all on-field personnel wore a symbolic ribbon patch on their sleeves.
After the presentation of colors by a joint guard of all four branches of the military, both "America The Beautiful" and the national anthem were masterfully rendered on violin by Noah Bendix-Balgley, concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Standing by the violinist's side was United States Marine Corporal Brandon Rumbaugh, the first of Pittsburgh club chairman Bob Nutting's guests in what will be a season-long practice of hosting members of the Wounded Warriors. A native of Uniontown, Pa., Rumbaugh is a double-amputee after losing both legs during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
As part of the celebration, the Bucs had everyone in house to take a bow during the pregame introductions. That included a quartet of disabled players who even had assigned lockers, but will be heading back to Florida to resume rehabilitations: pitchers Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens and Francisco Liriano and infielder Brandon Inge.
Also in uniform and sitting in front of his locker was Jose Contreras, who, alas, was not eligible to line up along the third-base foul line with everyone else: As neither on the 40-man roster nor the disabled list -- Contreras was invited here from the Minor League camp -- rules prevented the Cuban right-hander from actively participating in pregame ceremonies.
Jim Rohr, the retiring chairman and CEO of PNC Bank, delivered the ceremonial first pitch. A little later, A.J. Burnett delivered the authentic first pitch, and season No. 127 of the Bucs was under way.