PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates hit a milestone on Sunday, as they set a PNC Park season attendance record on their final home game of the regular season.
A crowd of 38,650 filled the stadium, pushing the season total to 2,442,564, the most the team has ever had in one year. It surpassed the 2,436,139 fans that came to games in 2001 -- PNC Park's initial season. Sunday was the 23rd sellout of the season, which tied a record set in 2013.
"When we came in, we believed we had a very passionate fan base that would re-engage when we put a good team on the field," said general manager Neal Huntington, who took his post prior to the 2008 season. "And to break the all-time attendance record, it shows that this city is still engaged, it still loves the Bucs and has room in its heart for the Bucs, the Steelers, the Penguins and all the local college teams. Now our challenge is to do it the next year and the years beyond."
The Pirates, who are on the verge of reaching the playoffs for the second season in a row, have performed for the fans they have drawn. The Bucs have posted back-to-back 50-win seasons at PNC Park, going 101-61 at home in the last two campaigns.
Clint Hurdle, who has managed the Pirates since the 2011 season, called the feat "truly an organizational accomplishment."
"It's an 'Atta boy, atta girl, atta everybody,'" Hurdle said Sunday. "So many people involved in this process, the fans most of all. But the rekindling, the reigniting, the re-bonding we talked about coming in the door back in '11. It was sparse -- April, May, June. We started playing some better baseball, people started coming out. But to break the all-timer, that's something we all need to feel a sense of accomplishment and be thankful for the fans."
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.