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Pirates’ home opener: Appearances by a cello quartet, race car legend and a ‘baron’ start the day |

Pirates’ home opener: Appearances by a cello quartet, race car legend and a ‘baron’ start the day

Ace reliever Elroy Face saved three games for the Pirates in their 1960 World Series victory over the New York Yankees.
Opening day of baseball at PNC Park on Pittsburgh's North Side is less than a week away. Director of field operations for the Pirates, who host the Minnesota Twins on April 2, Matt Brown (left) prepares the logo for the start of the 2018 season.

DETROIT — Opening Day activities at PNC Park on Monday will attempt to reach a wide range of fans’ interests, including those who enjoy the symphony, race car driving and baseball nostalgia.

After playing three games in Detroit’s Comerica Park, starting with Friday’s opener that was rained out Thursday, the Pirates return home Monday to play the Minnesota Twins.

Gates open at 11 a.m. for the 1:05 p.m. game, but before that people will receive two giveaway items – a magnetic schedule and a 2018 Pirates calendar.

Another plus: There will be two first pitches before the actual first pitch.

First, racing legend and Pittsburgh native Chip Ganassi will throw out the honorary first pitch, an event sure to capture the attention of new Pirates relief pitcher Josh Smoker, who drove race cars while growing up in Georgia.

After the player introductions, Pirates officials will conduct a moment of silence for former players Ross Powell, Manny Jimenez, Al Luplow, Bob Bailey, Laurin

Pepper and Curt Raydon, plus longtime official scorer Tony Krizmanich, who died in the past year.

Then, select season ticket holders will join 80 local service men and women in unfurling a giant American flag on the field. “God Bless America” and the national anthem will be performed by members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Cello Quartet.

After that, six-time Pirates All-Star relief pitcher El Roy Face, who recorded 188 saves before it became an official statistic in 1969, will throw out another so-called first pitch. Nicknamed the “Baron of the Bullpen,” Face celebrated his 90th birthday this year. In his 17-year major league career, he saved 30 more games than official Pirates record holder Kent Tekulve.

Finally, the first pitch of the actual game will be thrown by Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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