When you think of the Pittsburgh Pirates, you think of a lot of larger-than-life figures. Wagner. Maz. Pops. Murtaugh. Clemente. The Parrot.
Yes, The Pirate Parrot. The sheer size of this green bird confirms that he’s a member of the “larger-than-life” club. Born in the Championship year of 1979, The Parrot has seen it all.
You’ll find him at PNC Park every home game, taking (mostly harmless) potshots at opposing players, interacting with fans (high fives, silly string barrages), dancing on the dugouts – providing entertainment for Pirate fans young and old.
We had the opportunity to interview The Pirate Parrot recently, and asked him a variety of baseball, and, as per our usual, non-baseball questions – to try to get inside the (very large) head of the beloved Pirates’ mascot.
We dipped into the mailbag first, and here’re some of the questions you had for The Parrot…
Colin K., Pittsburgh: A two part question: What’s your favorite food at PNC?
The Parrot: Since I’ve been trying to watch my figure, I like the Salad options in the Lexus Club and then also because they have seeds (of the sunflower variety) to put on it.
Colin K.: What’s your favorite outside PNC? Do you have a favorite restaurant in town?
The Parrot: I once went with MLB over to Japan, and since then I’ve become a big fan of sushi! So, I’ll go to Nakama every once in awhile… Hopefully one year they’d ask me to be a part of their celebrity chef competition!
Tom S., Farmington, PA: What other team’s mascot would you say you have the biggest “feud” with? Have you made friends with any of the other mascots?
The Parrot: I can truly say that there aren’t any mascots that I feud with – I get along with all of them. But I’m pretty close to the Phanatic in Philly, Slider with the Cleveland Indians, Billy the Marlin with the Florida Marlins, and a character by the name of Thunder who performs with the Lake Elsinore Storm (a minor league team in Southern California) because I like to think I taught him everything he knows. I get to see all the big league guys at the All-Star game every year…we have to work all the events leading up to the game, but we actually get to relax and watch it once it starts.
Caitie B., Phoenix, AZ: You play a pretty mean air guitar – were you ever in a band?
The Parrot: Never played in a band, but I will work you in Rock Band on my PS3!!! Actually, you know, Cutch plays the guitar, Hanrahan’s got some pretty mean vocals, and I rock out on the drums. We’re still looking for a bass player, so send in your demo reel if you think you’ve got what it takes. We call ourselves DREADLOCKED – it was only appropriate when you look at the guys in our group. With Cutch, it’s pretty much obvious why we picked this name, but when people ask Joel he explains, “it’s cause the other teams DREAD seeing me come in and LOCK down the victory!”
[Cfor2's note: We're pretty sure The Parrot is just pulling our
drumstick leg here about the "band"...]
Charles W., WV: How do you get silly string out of your feathers… or is that a trade secret?
The Parrot: I don’t have to get silly string out of my feathers – I’M the one who does all the spraying! I buy that stuff by the pallet, and go through hundreds of cans a season. No better feeling than when the crowd reacts to someone being covered by twelve cans of silly string…I’ve got two Six Can Shooters (one for each hand) that were the greatest investment I ever made.
Tara D., Chicago: I enjoy going to Kennywood – do you ever go? What’s your favorite ride?
The Parrot: I’ve been a couple times, but have never been on the Sky Coaster thing that is like a giant swing… I once was a part of a big show there where Jim Lokay of KDKA lost a bet. For losing this bet, he was blindfolded and I came in with a whipped cream pie (at which point the crowd went nuts and he had no idea why) and POW! Right in the kisser!
Dick P., Ohio: What’s the best way for a family to enjoy a Pirate game at PNC?
The Parrot: Sundays are the best days in my opinion for a family to enjoy a Pirates Game…we gear everything around the kids that day – from the ones selected to run to the positions with the guys to start the game, to all the fun stuff we have on Federal Street before the gates open. It’s just a great family atmosphere on Sundays. SkyBlast and fireworks nights are also a great way to enjoy a Pirates game!
The interview continued with my questions:
Cocktailsfor2: How do you prepare for a game – walk us through a typical game day?
Parrot: I eat a lot of seeds and drink a lot of water!! But here’s my typical Game Day:
Arrive at ballpark about 3pm – put together a schedule sheet that has all of our night planned out so that my “Wingman” (or “Bird Keeper”) knows what we have to do for the night.
After that I head to my locker room where my assistant and I put together all my props that we’ve planned to use for the night and get everything ready to go
6:30pm: Head to the field for Pre-game festivities and interactions: This is where I mess with the opposing team or some of the grounds crew
7:00pm-End of Game: Work the game
Afterwards shower and clean up to get my feathers smelling all nice and fresh
Then I head home to my bachelor pad and call it a night – to rest up and get ready to do it all again the next day!
Cfor2: What do you do on your day off? Do you ever get a day off?
Parrot: There are not a lot of days off, actually! If and when I do get an off-day, though, I like to just sit at home and veg out on the couch where I can just sit down and relax from the hustle and bustle of a long season and the 250 days (other than the 81 home games) of community appearances we do. [Note: You can check out some of the upcoming events HERE, as well as some of the past events the Parrot and the Pirates have participated in.]
Cfor2: How do you get to the ballpark?
Parrot: I just got this Can-Am Spyder motorcycle which fans can see me driving around town. It gets great gas mileage and puts less exhaust into the atmosphere compared to some of the other trucks on the road today. Also, I can’t stress how nice it is when I only have to fill up a 4 gallon tank with how ridiculous gas prices have gotten these days. This brings up another point. At the end of July, I will be riding this motorcycle across the State of Pennsylvania in an effort to raise money and bring awareness to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Fans can read up about it and make a pledge or one-time donation at Cruise for a Cure . Check it out, it’s a project that’s near and dear to my heart and something I’m very proud to say I started. Next year, I’m hoping to drive it all the way down to Bradenton, FL as I fly south for the winter off-season!
Cfor2: Who is your favorite current Pirate?
Parrot: I’m not sure I can pick just one favorite…I really appreciate what Clint Hurdle brings to this team, and I’m really good friends with his kids, Maddie and Christian!!! Cutch and I have a sweet, secret handshake that we do …Tabata and I are cool, although the language barrier can be challenging for us at times (I just started listening to the Rosetta Stone tapes the team bought me when we opened up the Dominican Training Academy) and he sometimes has a hard time figuring out my non-verbal communication. And then there’s Walker, and well, as you can imagine we go waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back. He’s been a fan of me ever since I can remember…Ha!…I guess it’s only fair that I repay the favor, right?
Cfor2: Favorite All-Time Pirate?
Parrot: This may be the easiest question you ask me today. Clemente, because as you see we have a lot in common. Not only did/do we both give MVP-type performances on a nightly basis…but just like him I’m always in the community. I admire him for what he did in the community, and what he did to help others. He was truly a remarkable man, and that went way beyond the ballpark.
Cfor2: What was the best part about winning the ’79 World Series?
Parrot: That unforgettable, indescribable feeling once that last out was made!!!
Cfor2: Tell me a secret about Steve Blass…
Parrot: He’s only caught the last hotdog once in… I don’t know how many times I’ve shot one up to the booth!
Cfor2: What’s your favorite “Saturday night” record?
Parrot: I like Skynyrd, for obvious reasons. Well, I at least think it’s obvious because of one of the greatest songs of all time – “Free Bird”.
Cfor2: And your “Sunday morning” record?
Parrot: I’ve got a new one and it gets me excited for Sunday Day Games – “Bon Bon” by Pitbull and it’s also Jose Tabata’s song in some of the videos the scoreboard team has created for him!
At this point, The Parrot needed to get a move on to prep for that evening’s game, otherwise I’m sure he would have squawked my ear off all day long. My thanks to The Parrot, his “Wingman,” and Matt at the Pirates’ offices for coordinating the interview.