October 1, 2013, Reliving that Magical Night for the Pittsburgh Pirates


On October 1, 2013, the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up one of the most memorable victories in both franchise and recent baseball history. Let’s relive every amazing second of it.

Everyone has nights in their life they will never forget. For many fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, myself included, October 1, 2013 is one of those nights. Because on this night the city of Pittsburgh released 20 years of bottled up anger, anxiety, excitement, and frustration all at once as the Pirates player their first ever postseason game at PNC Park, and their first postseason game in 20 years.

It did not take long for the electricity outside of PNC Park to take over inside the ballpark. From the ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’ sign form the Lumber Company days of the ’70s to the sign that read ‘I’ve Waited My Whole LIFE 4 This’ hanging from the left field rotunda, to fans having the seats filled before pregame warm ups began, you knew it would be a special night. The cherry on top was PNC Park erupting into a roar when the first Pirate to take the field to stretch and warm, outfielder Marlon Byrd, took the field. This would not be the last time Byrd put PNC Park into a frenzy this night.

The electricity only continued to grow as first pitch neared. Fans went wild as the Pirate roster/starting lineup was introduced, including showering Andrew McCutchen with ‘MVP’ chants. A month later, Cutch would take home that award.

It was during pregame introductions that the Cincinnati Reds started to realize they would be playing both the Pirates and the crowd that night. There had long been bad blood brewing between these two teams and fan bases. Hell, this disdain goes back to the 1970s and still lives on today. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker and second baseman Brandon Phillips were both greeted with a chorus of 40,000 fans all decked out in black booing them. These boos were only topped by those that were saved for Cincinnati head hunting reliever Aroldis Chapman.

When the game started, the electricity from the crowd continued to grow. As Francisco Liriano struck out Shin Soo Choo to start the game it was clear that Filthy Franky was on his game that night. The crowd erupted as Choo waved helpless at a vintage Liriano slider, and that was the first of many times the Pirates would make the crowd go wild during the game.

With the game scoreless in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Byrd stepped to the plate. In his 12th MLB season Byrd was playing in the postseason for the first time, and his first postseason at bat ending with him launching a hanging change up from long time Pirate nemesis Johnny Cueto in the left field seats. This gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

It was after this home run that one of the most memorable moments not just in Pirate history but MLB history would take place.

Some times, a home field advantage makes a world of difference in sports. On this night, that occurred. It was highlighted when the PNC Park crowd got into the head of Cueto in the bottom of the 2nd inning.

With the crowd buzzing following the Byrd home run and Pirate catcher Russell Martin ahead in the count 2-1, the chant began…


What started as a faint mocking chant from the PNC Park crowd quickly engulfed the entire ballpark. We all know what happened next.

Cueto dropped the ball. The PNC Park erupted. Cueto picked up the ball… and Martin promptly launched the pitch deep into the Pittsburgh night. Just like that Martin hit one of the most memorable home runs in MLB postseason history, and the Bucs grabbed a 2-0 lead as the PNC Park crowd went insane. At this point, it was very clear that the crowd was going to impact this game and that the Reds had no chance at picking up a victory on this night.

The Pirate lead grew to 3-0 in the bottom of the 3rd inning when McCutchen scored on a sacrifice fly by Pedro Alvarez. Then in the bottom of the 4th inning, the Pirates chased Cueto from the game. After Starling Marte doubled off Cueto, he was pulled from the game. A RBI double by Neil Walker, off of lefty Sean Marshall, made the score 4-1. Then a bobbled ball by Phillips that caused the crowd to cheer one of their least favorite Reds, scored a 5th Pirate run.

After 7 brilliant innings, Liriano’s night came to an end. Liriano held the Reds to 1 run on four hits, a walk, and five strikeouts in 7 innings of work. As he recorded the final out of the 7th inning, everyone in PNC Park rose to give him a well deserved standing ovation before partaking in one of the happiest renditions of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ that you will ever hear.

In the bottom half of that 7th inning, Martin launched another missile. This one landed under the left field rotunda. It brought all 40,000+ fans at PNC Park back to their feet, and made it 6-1 Bucs.

In the top of the 9th inning with the Pirates leading 6-2, Jason Grilli took the mound. To start the inning he got Jay Bruce to strikeout. Following a fly out to left field, Grilli and the Pirates were one out away from the National League Division Series. With the crowd on the brink of utter euphoria, Zack Cozart grounded out to second baseman Neil Walker. The Pittsburgh Kid threw the ball to Justin Morneau at first base, Grilli and Martin embraced on the mound, Morneau raised his right fist in the air in celebration as he ran toward the mound, and the PNC Park crowd burst into sheer noise.

At this moment the crowd grew so loud that the TBS TV camera began to shake. Take it from someone who was at the ballpark that night it was LOUD. All I can remember is turning toward my dad to give him a bear hug in celebration and it being so loud you could not hear yourself think.

When the game ended, the fun was far from over. Fans simply did not want to leave PNC Park even as the Pirates finished up their on field celebration and started to leave the field to continue their celebration further, fans remained in their seats chanting ‘let’s go Bucs’.

After leaving the ballpark, fans partied throughout the streets and deep into the Pittsburgh night. Fans hugged random strangers and cheered in celebration, a celebration many fans thought they would never get to enjoy.

Shortly after leaving the ballpark my dad and I saw three friends of mine that we also saw outside the park before the game. All we could do was cheer and hug.

The normal 10 minute walk back to where we always parked took an hour. This was due to the amount of people out in the streets celebrating. It was almost impossible to walk across the Clemente Bridge as thousands of people stood on the bridge celebrating with each other. This included the few thousand people who did not have tickets to the game, so they hung out the bridge together during the game.

The outcome of the game that night is not the only thing that made it special. For fans my like myself that were born in the early 90s, we had never saw a Pirate team that finished with a winning record, let alone win a postseason game. To older generations, many wondered if they would ever see a night like this again.

Friends and strangers alike celebrating throughout the night. People such as myself who got to spend the night with their usual ballpark friends. In my case, my dad and the married couple (Ed and Tina) who, at the time, had their season tickets in the two seats next to ours. After suffering through so many painful losses with these folks, it made celebrating that immaculate victory with them that much sweeter.

Listening to 93.7 The Fan on the way home and listening to people from all over the state of Pennsylvania, as well as Eastern Ohio and West Virginia, calling the station in jubilation. Stopping at the Sheetz in New Alexandria on 22 and being greeted with high fives and cheers from strangers who were also still in the jerseys they wore to the game that night. These were all factors into making that night in Pittsburgh a magical one.

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You knew immediately that this game was going to be the type of night that people told their children and grandchildren about. This is already true for myself who has told the story of this game to my 10-year-old son approximately 3,000 times, and it will undoubtedly be the same way with my 2-year-old one day.

Long time Pirate announce Greg Brown put it best on the radio call after Grilli recorded the final out of the game, “Just incredible. Unbelievable, and an unforgettable night in the city of Pittsburgh. October the 1st, 2013, no one will ever forget this evening.” You’re right, Greg, no one will ever forget that magical October night on the North Shore in 2013.