Father’s Day memories made at PNC


It was the second inning of Saturday’s Pirates game at PNC Park. The Reds’ Eugenio Suarez fouled off an Ivan Nova pitch. On the game broadcast, you see Suarez look up into the stands as the crowd erupts in a cheer.

“Somebody made a fabulous catch, first row of the club level,” the announcer says as the camera cuts to three men in the crowd.

Rick Smith of Bedford, along with his sons, Brad (40) and Adam (38), were all smiles as Brad held the ball in one hand and his unscathed beer in the other.

“I had to lean over the balcony to try to catch it,” Brad said. “I don’t know, I guess it was pretty good — didn’t realize I was going to get that kind of reaction from the crowd. I’m just glad I didn’t fall over the railing.”

“You think: this will be on TV so try to look cool,” added Adam, “you don’t want to be goofing around.”

The game ball souvenir and 30-seconds of fame were icing on the cake of a great Father’s Day weekend visit to the ballpark.

“I don’t always get to spend time just with my sons now that they have families,” said Rick, “so it was special just to get this time just with them.”

Rick has been enjoying Pirates games since the Bucs played at Forbes Field, but especially looked forward to this particular outing. A fluke ticket mix-up by an online outlet upgraded the Smiths to the club seats, the perfect spot to catch the foul ball.

They’re one of hundreds of families who spent the holiday weekend celebrating dads at a baseball game.

“Baseball is the kind of sport that gives you time for talking,” Adam said. “You don’t have to pay attention as much as other sports — you can enjoy the game and also enjoy the company that you’re with.”

The Smiths have fun making memories at sporting outings throughout the year, as fans of Pitt football, the Steelers and Penguins.

Rick and his wife, Judy, recently made the trek to watch Brad’s 10- and-8-year old daughters play softball. After living in North Carolina for several years, Brad especially appreciates living close enough for frequent trips between Bedford and Pittsburgh.

“He’s just been a great dad our entire life,” Brad said. “Driving two hours for his granddaughter’s softball games, it’s no different than when we were growing up, playing baseball or whatever — he made every effort to support us no matter what it was, big or small.”

“He’s pretty cool — he’s tough to beat in my opinion,” Adam added. “He always lends a hand, anything he can do. We lucked out having such a good dad.”

A dad worth celebrating, a Pirates victory over the Reds, and a foul ball to boot: it doesn’t get much better than that for a Happy Father’s Day.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.