Pirates fans show colors during Curve exhibition

Black and yellow dominated the concourses during the Altoona Curve’s exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

The Curve topped Pittsburgh 8-6 in what many described as a picturesque start to the season at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

But fans said it was less about the final outcome of the game and more about watching the Curve’s future superstars take on the pros – many of them right in their own backyard.

“I’ve been a Pirates fan all my life,” said Henry Kassab, a Columbus, Ohio, resident.

Kassab grew up in DuBois listening to the Pirates on the radio.

But Kassab was quick to point out, “I love the Curve.”

Decked out in full Pirates gear, Kassab said used to bring his children to Lakemont Park and end the evening by watching Curve games from the grassy hill in the outfield.

Hundreds of others followed Kassab’s lead during Saturday’s game.

The concourses were packed five and six rows deep as fans stood shoulder to shoulder throughout the afternoon.

Families and large groups took advantage of Saturday’s sun and warmer temperatures as they blanketed the grassy hill in the outfield to catch a glimpse of the action.

While the black and gold of Pirates, Penguins and a handful of Steelers jerseys and sweat shirts dominated the ballpark, Curve pride was well represented through red Curve hats, banners and shirts adorned by loyal fans.

Seated on the grassy hill above the outfield, Pittsburgh resident Jaynelle Henderson said she was anxious to see the Pirates pull ahead of the Curve while trailing 0-4 after the first inning.

Her nephew, Justin Stevens, 10, of Bakerton was growing restless as he waited for the chance to use his baseball glove to snag a souvenir from the game.

“We’re waiting for McCutchen to hit a home run,” Henderson said.

Mike and Tonya Sherry of Patton brought their three children to the park to watch the game and see the Curve’s rising Major League Baseball players.

The Sherry children clutched baseball gloves in their hands, all three smiling at the possibility of snagging a fly ball.

“It’s going to be a fun game to watch.” Mike Sherry said. “It’s a good way to kick off the season.”

The weather and lively atmosphere at the park was perfect for the start of baseball season, said Chris Allanson, an Altoona resident.

“You can’t beat it,” Allanson said.

Seated at a table behind center field with his family, Allanson said he was cheering for the hometown team.

He summed up the exhibition game in one word: fun.

“They’re having fun, and I think that’s what people are here for,” Allanson said. “Family, friends and baseball.”

Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.