The Pittsburgh Pirates’ home opener is right around the corner. The Bucs will return to PNC Park on Friday when they host the Chicago White Sox at 4:12.
One of the biggest storylines surrounding the game is that it will be Andrew McCutchen’s first game at PNC Park as a Pirate for the first time since 2017.
However, McCutchen is not the only one who will be celebrating a homecoming. Former Pirates’ pitcher A.J. Burnett will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and behind the plate to receive it will be ex-Bucco Russell Martin.
The battery, alongside McCutchen, all had a big hand in snapping the Pirates’ 20-year losing drought and getting the Pirates back to the playoffs in 2013 — 10 years ago.
McCutchen took home National League MVP honors that season while Martin hit two memorable home runs in the National League Wild Card. Burnett, meanwhile, anchored the pitching staff with a 3.30 ERA in his second year with the club.
With the return of those players, Burnett is calling for all fans to wear black as they did for the Wild Card game in 2013.
— AJ Burnett (@wudeydo34) April 6, 2023
Burnett is answering the call of former Pirates’ catcher and current AT&T SportsNet analyst Michael McKenry, who also took to Twitter calling for a PNC Park blackout on Friday.
The legend @gbrowniepoints was highlighting how nice it would be to see a blackout on opening day. It’s the cities day 412 & We could give @TheCUTCH22 @wudeydo34 & @russellmartin55 the welcome home they deserve. @robkinger91 get ready to look like Johnny Cash! #PNCBlackout412 pic.twitter.com/yce1c91lXi
— Michael McKenry (@theFortMcKenry) April 6, 2023
Coming off of a sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, there’s a little bit of extra buzz surrounding the Pirates’ looming home opener.
With McCutchen, Burnett and Martin all being back in the house, it adds even more buzz to an already special day.
UPDATE: And now McCutchen weighs in:
— Andrew McCutchen (@TheCUTCH22) April 6, 2023