With 2018 marking the 50th year of the Pittsburgh Pirates holding spring training in Bradenton, the club is joining forces with the City of Bradenton, Manatee County and the Manatee County Public Library System to celebrate the golden anniversary with a traveling exhibit detailing baseball history.
“We’re the third-oldest spring training facility in the state of Florida behind Lakeland and Clearwater,” Pirates senior director of Florida and Dominican Republic operations Jeff Podobnik said. “Lakeland being the Detroit Tigers and Clearwater being the Philadelphia Phillies. So 50 years in one city and the relationships that have been developed, that’s something to celebrate.”
The traveling exhibit, called “Baseball in Manatee County: 50 Years of Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training,” will be on display at six local libraries.
The Downtown Central Library is displaying the exhibit in February, beginning Feb. 12 following a press conference to launch it.
So 50 years in one city and the relationships that have been developed, that’s something to celebrate.
Pittsburgh Pirates senior director of Florida and Dominican Republic operations Jeff Podobnik
Other Manatee County libraries involved are the Braden River Library (March), Island Library (May), South Manatee Library (June), Rocky Bluff Library (July) and Palmetto Library (August).
Fans are encouraged to temporarily loan their baseball memorabilia relating to Bradenton’s baseball history, and can contact David Breakfield at firstname.lastname@example.org with photos and information regarding memorabilia.
“It’s something for Pirates’ fans to be able to go to the library and look at some of the history of the Pirates,” Podobnik said.
Podobnik said when discussing the Pirates’ 50th year in Bradenton, the brainstorm session keyed in on showing what it was like in Bradenton when the Pirates first came to the Friendly City in 1969.
In addition to the traveling exhibit, Podobnik said the Pirates are assembling a pop-up museum exhibit inside LECOM Park on spring training game days, 50 days of giving through spring training with speaking engagements, serving meals in the community and holding a fantasy camp at the Miracle League, and will conduct their annual Pirates Pep Rally on Old Main Street on Feb. 17.
The Pep Rally is scheduled for 5-9 p.m. and features live music with organized autograph sessions with current and former Pirates players.
“We’ve created a 50th anniversary video and we’re going to showcase that video at our pep rally,” Podobnik said. “I got a quick peek at this video, and it’s really cool. It’s exciting to see who we were 50 years ago and what we are today. And what the City of Bradenton means to the Pittsburgh Pirates and what we mean to the City of Bradenton.”
The two months of baseball season that the traveling exhibit won’t be displayed at a local library – April and September – are due to prior commitments with other displays, Podobnik said.
The Pirates have 16 home games this spring, starting Feb. 24 against the New York Yankees.
Information regarding tickets and a full schedule can be found at www.Pirates.com/Spring.