About two months ago, one of my work colleagues (we’ll call him Cameron, to protect his real identity) sent me an e-mail he had received from one of our investors inviting him to play Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh and he asked me if I could join. For the non-golfers, Oakmont is on everyone’s list of the top 10 courses in America. They’ve hosted 8 US Opens and will host their 9th in 2016. It is also widely regarded as the most difficult course in the U.S. Receiving an e-mail asking me if I wanted to play Oakmont was a bit like getting an e-mail asking me if I want to go on a date with Cameron Diaz. Um, yeah.
The planning began. Since Cameron is a work colleague and our Oakmont host is an investor in several of our funds, it was clearly a legitimate business trip. With golf on Friday morning, Cameron and I realized we had to head into Pittsburgh on Thursday so Cameron set up a few other meetings with Pittsburgh-based investors. It couldn’t get any more legit, right? I was also able to set up a dinner meeting with a prominent doctor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to help with due diligence on several deals I’m working on. OK, the doc also happened to be one of my fraternity brother drinking buddies, but let’s not get too detailed here.
I arrived in Pittsburgh at about noon on Thursday and went straight to a lunch meeting with an investor who has committed significant capital to our firm. It was very productive. Cameron and I updated him on a variety of activities at our firm, including the fund I run. Big box checked on the validity of the Pittsburgh trip.
As we were leaving the restaurant a bit before 2 PM, Cameron informed me that the next investor meeting was just down the street. He conceded that this meeting might end up being with a relatively junior member of their investment team. I opted out. As an aside, there was a guy in the meeting who’s title on his business card read “Finance Major, Class of 2016” so I think I made the right call. Besides, I had a ton of work to do before my 4 PM conference call so a few quiet hours in my hotel room to catch up made perfect sense.
As I walked to the parking garage to get my car, something caught my eye. Well, I guess it would be hard to miss because it was a Major League ballpark.
What was particularly noteworthy, however, was that there appeared to be a Major League baseball game going on. Hmmmm, I thought to myself. How much work do you really need to do before your 4 PM conference call? I’m guessing you see where this is headed, but stick with me. I crossed the Roberto Clemente Bridge over the Allegheny River and bought myself a $16 upper deck ticket to the Pirates/Reds game. By the time I got into the stadium, I didn’t have much time before I’d have to leave for my 4 PM call so I started my self-guided tour.
The first stop was to duck down into a great seat on the third baseline. While the game was well-attended for a day game, I had no problem squatting in a great seat not far behind the home dugout.
With all due respect to the folks on my 4 PM conference call, I can’t sit at a baseball game without a beer and the more local the brew, the better. I was hoping for an Iron City, but settled for a Yuengling. I also learned the Pittsburghians take their beer seriously. This 24 oz beer actually cost more than my ticket to the game.
Sitting in a great seat on the third baseline with a massive can of beer seemed like a great way to spend my remaining time at PNC Park, but my plan was quickly hit with an unexpected snag.
Fortunately, since I was wearing business attire, I got up when I felt the first drop and was able to move back several rows to get under cover.
The storm was a very small cell and the efficient grounds crew had the tarp on and back off quickly and the game was again under way. By this time, I only had about 20 minutes left in my adventure so I restarted my ballpark tour. I ventured into a private party behind home plate (nobody seemed to care) and then settled into a seat right behind home plate. I’m not sure what it costs to sit here, but I’m pretty sure it’s more than $16.
With 10 minutes to go before my conference call, I texted my son from these seats and urged him to put the Pirates/Reds game on TV (we have the MLB.TV package so we can watch every irrelevant baseball game in the 162-game schedule). It didn’t take him long to find the game and he took this screen shot of our TV at home and sent it to me. Look carefully right under the “P” in the Pirates logo on the score.
So, I guess the gig is now up. There’s no doubt that the parking garage attendant is racing around Pittsburgh in my car. I’m just minutes away from doing my Abe Frohman, Sausage King, impression.
10 minutes later and I was on my way. Before I hit the Roberto Clemente Bridge, I was on my conference call. I don’t want to lose in this tale how incredible PNC Park is. I took this final photo from right field.
What a great ballpark and what a fun way to spend an afternoon. I’ll be back.