Diary of a long-suffering Pirates fan: PNC Park promotions I would like to see

The Pirates' marketing department is missing a bonanza here.
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

Whether in sports or in board rooms, teams and businesses need to sometimes pivot and move to where the market or the competition might take them. At the beginning of every year, the Pirates roll out their promotional schedule in an effort to entice fans to come to PNC Park to take in a Pirates game. The promotions the Pirates draw up are typically tried and true. They are chock full of fireworks nights and bobblehead and t-shirt giveaways. 

But sometimes circumstances change and teams and businesses have to make quick pivots. The Pirates are not so good at the quick pivoting thing. Once upon a time, the Pirates used to adjust their promo schedule on the fly (the call for fans to wear black shirts to create a blackout for the 2013 Wild Card playoff game is one such instance), but not so much anymore. Remember AJ Burnett's flashing Bat Signal? Gone are the days.

In 2024, the success of some of the Pirates' players screams for the team's marketing department to take advantage of the situation. And so, as an aid to the Pirates marketing staff, allow me to provide some promotional ideas for the remainder of the season and next.

Pittsburgh Pirates 2024 Promo Schedule Ideas We'd Like to See

1. Paul Skenes Mustache Day. The term Skenesday has already entered the Pirates lexicon, and many fans are already wearing fake mustaches under their nose. Somehow, the Pirates have no promotions to take advantage of this. So, allow me to suggest Paul Skenes Mustache Day. All fans attending a scheduled Paul Skenes start will be given a fake Skenes mustache to affix under their nose. You’ve heard of blackouts and whiteouts. This will be a mustache out. Perhaps it can coincide with a call for fans to wear black, white or gold shirts, mimicking whatever jersey the Pirates might be wearing on Skenesday. Either way.  Skenes starts already draw national attention. What better way to promote a fun, unique and family-friendly atmosphere than to bring the fans in on it with fake mustaches? I can already see the obligatory cutaway to a mother in the stands holding a baby, with both mother and baby wearing the 'staches. 

2. Jared Jones Hairy V-Neck T-Shirt Giveaway. All fans are given a black or gold v-neck t-shirt with fake hair sticking out of the neckline to replicate Jones’ "top-button-unbuttoned-chest-hairs-sticking-out" look.

3. Connor Joe Party in the Back Cap Day. All fans get a Pirates cap with fake hair extensions tied to the back of the cap. Now, fans can look just as cool as Connor Joe. Bring your own sunglasses to complete the look.

4. Dollar Dog Night ... with special appearance by 16-time National Hot Dog Eating Champion Joey Chestnut.  Joey Chestnut has given eating exhibitions at minor-league baseball games, including one for the Pirates’ affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians. Did you know that Joey Chestnut holds the record for most pierogies eaten? He downed 47 in two minutes at a Cavalier-Lakers game in 2022. This could bring new meaning to the Pierogie Races. Loser gets chomped. How are the Pirates not bringing him to PNC Park for Dollar Dog Night?

5. Bring Back the Old Parrot Promotion. I have written about this before (yes, it is beyond timeto bring back the old parrot). Not looking to get rid of the current parrot. Just looking to reintroduce fans to the Parrot that mascotted for the 1979 Pirates. We can be a “two-parrot” town.

6. Donny Iris Bobblehead. I can't take credit for this. The minute the PIrates announced that on July 20, they'll be giving the first 20,000 fans a Wiz Khalifa bobblehead, the cries for the corresponding Donny Iris bobblehead emerged on WDVE and on Reddit. The Wiz Khalifa bobblehead is a great homage to the local rapper. It certainly appeals to a younger audience. But how has there never been a bobblehead for Pittsburgh’s other music icon, Donnie Iris? As Wiz Khalifa appeals to a younger audience, Donnie Iris brings appeal to a baby boomer generation. Of course, the Donnie Iris bobblehead would hopefully play a snippet of “Ah Leah.”

7. "Let’s Start a Winning Streak" Promotion. Early in the 1979 season, the Pirates had a “Let’s Start a Winning Streak” promotion, in which fans in attendance at the game got to attend the next night’s game for free if the Pirates won. The Pirates did indeed win that game, and the fans in attendance did get to return for free the next night, a game the Pirates won again. The Pirates won the World Series in 1979, but never repeated the promotion. Now, 45 years later, it is time to bring back this promotion. It’s not like PNC Park sells out on a weekday game, which would be a good time to unveil the promotion.  There are plenty of good seats available to give away in the upper deck. Since opening the 2024 season with a five-game winning streak, the most consecutive wins that the Pirates have been able to muster is three. A "start a win streak" promotion could be just what is needed to jump start a Pirates pennant drive.

8. Operation Shutdown Bobblehead Night. Who can forget right fielder Derek Bell’s reaction to learning that he was in a competition for the starting right field spot in spring training of 2002?  Said Bell: “Nobody told me I was in competition. If there is competition, somebody better let me know. If there is competition, they better eliminate me out of the race and go ahead and do what they’re going to do with me. I ain’t never hit in spring training and I never will. If it ain’t settled with me out there, then they can trade me. I ain’t going out there to hurt myself in spring training battling for a job. If it is [a competition], then I’m going into ‘Operation Shutdown.’ Tell them exactly what I said. I haven’t competed for a job since 1991.” The Pirates cut ties with Bell two weeks later and he never played baseball again, but the “Operation Shutdown” quote lives in infamy. Bell famously lived on a 63-foot yacht during his playing days. In honor of Bell and Operation Shutdown, I envision a bobblehead with Bell in a Pirates uniform atop a boat.

9. Sean Rodriguez Punching the Gatorade Cooler Bobblehead Night. The 2015 Wild Card playoff loss to the Chicago Cubs is not a pleasant memory.  But the memory that stands out for most fans from that loss is Sean Rodriguez caught on camera taking out his frustration on a poor Gatorade water cooler, which he punched like it was a punching bag. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of this pugilistic feat. A bobblehead to commemorate the event would be appropriate.

I suspect that the Pirates are not going to take me up on any of these suggestions anytime soon, especially since the 2024 promotional schedule is already set in stone.  However, just like the Buccos, there always next year. You're welcome, Pirates.