Pirate City, in Bradenton, Florida, is a beautiful complex on a very hard to find tract of land. It’s far nicer than the major league product the Pirates put on the field. Recently renovated in 2008 to the tune of $20 million, there are four main areas on the footprint.
The headquarters building is a 83 room dormitory that is used year round, mainly for minor leaguers either training or rehabbing, though the big league Pirates are here from February through late March. Each room is named after a Pirate great from year’s past (yes there were some~) and almost all 96 campers are housed in the dorm. I had to shake my head. I thought I heard of most of the old time Pirate greats. Not my room dedication however. Someone named Bob Elliott who played for Pittsburgh from 1939-46 and was a three time all-star. He was traded to Boston in 1947 and became the league’s MVP. Figures.
Most campers are doubled in rooms but for an additional $250 you can have single quarters. Past the roommate stage of life I am in a single though TB is smuggled with me
Attached with a short walk on either side of the dorm is the cafeteria/ banquet hall where all meals and events take place during camp week. On the other side is the clubhouse/locker room. Outside of the clubhouse, about a nine iron away, are four major league playing fields where we will play our games. Also a 12 mound bullpen area and six all-weather hitting cages to refine the swing we never had.
The main clubhouse is spectacular. Major league in every way with wooden finishes throughout and staff to satisfy your every whim. Truly we have the big league experience including having our uniforms and under items washed nightly and shoes shined before the next day’s games. It’s a policy I am thinking of installing at home.~
As we marched in this morning everyone has their own personalized locker with two uniforms hanging. A home Pirates formal white and a bit more casual away black top with pants, socks, belts, hats- the whole baseball enchilada. After all we are major leaguers for the week. Amazing what $3750 buys these days!
The rookies walk in and get wowed while the vets know what to expect but look forward to the parade every time. Try on your uniform, make sure everything fits just right and then get ready to hit the field for the morning evaluation game. With everyone distracted in their newfound baseball goodies, I was able to slip back to the dorm and grab TB. Fortunately nobody noticed TheBat.
Ultimately the 96 campers will be split up into eight teams for league play which began this afternoon. The evaluation game is a good idea as it helps create some equity for the week. Take someone like me. All I can do is play first base. I have the perfect credentials. I’m tall, left handed and slow. It’s all I’ve ever done and save for standing in the outfield hoping the ball isn’t hit to me. I’m a first baseman.