Pirates Drone Show June 2022

Following their evening game on Friday June 3rd the Pirates held their first-ever drone show. This inaugural promotion had been touted by the local press as “something different” for Pittsburgh crowds who are accustomed to traditional fireworks shows which the Pirates typically put on several times each season. (Years before moving to Pittsburgh I had heard that the inclusion of “sky flowers” to mesmerize zombies in George Romero’s Land of the Dead was a sly yinzer allusion to Pittsburghers’ predilection for fireworks displays, though I remain unconvinced.)

I went to check out the drone show, my first time back to the stadium since opening day. The Friday game was well-attended but did not seem as crowded as the home opener. For instance, I was finally able to grab a spot at the Bullpen Bar this time around. I still think it’s a great place to watch the game, with the added bonus of being able to look directly down into the bullpens (as well as listen to young fans queued up at the fencing constantly call out to the relief pitchers for souvenir baseballs). The view got even better after the sun set behind the grandstand.

I also got to check out some of the new ballpark features that I had missed on opening day. These oversized bobblehead statues hadn’t yet been installed back in April.

The heads really do bobble, by the way.

I also really liked this Warhol-esque Pops art behind centerfield.

After the game concluded fans concentrated in the grandstand for better views of the drone show. (You can also spot the sliver of the moon in the top of the frame.)

The drone display began with the unmanned aerial vehicles slowly rising in uniform rows from the riverwalk. The backdrop of the downtown skyline was particularly colorful this evening due to many of the skyscrapers featuring rainbow colors to commemorate Pride Month.

The show proper started with the sounds of a classic Greg Brown walkoff call from some previous game broadcast, with his trademark victory announcement of “Raise the Jolly Roger!” The drones assumed the form of a waving Jolly Roger flag, and from my location almost seemed lined up with the stadium flagpoles.

From there the soundtrack transitioned to a sort of ragtime version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and the drones formed a revolving baseball emblazoned with the Pirates logo.

One of the novel features of the drone display was the ability to depict shapes that had movement or seemed to interact with each other, like a ball sent flying by a swinging bat.

The next section of the show featured imagery from Pirates franchise history, such as the iconic image of Steve Blass’ leap and Manny Sanguillen’s raised arms from the Pirates 1971 World Series victory.

A representation of Roberto Clemente tipped his cap to the crowd.

From more recent Pirates history, the fan-favorite Cueto moment from the 2013 Wildcard game was a particularly funny inclusion (and yes, the ball did fall from the hand).

The final section of the show spotlighted local Pittsburgh iconography, starting with one of the famous incline cars.

The iconic Kennywood arrows above a rollercoaster.

And finally some straight-out Pittsburgh love.

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