MLB Little League Classic will bring back Hurdle and others

ASSOCIATED PRESS Pirates manager Clint Hurdle led the double-A Williamsport Bills at Bowman Field in 1991.

PITTSBURGH — A quick glance around Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle’s office inside of PNC Park and you’ll notice a ton of reminders about the game of baseball as it relates to Pittsburgh.

Photos of various players, a handful of baseballs — both autographed and not — trinkets with the Pirates logo on it, bobbleheads and various other Pirates memorabilia items, including a huge portrait of Roberto Clemente.

And in about a month, he may add another memento from a historic game when the Pittsburgh Pirates head to Williamsport to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the MLB Little League Classic, which will be the first Major League Baseball game played at Bowman Field.

Today is the final game of a three-game series between St. Louis and Pittsburgh at PNC Park before the two meet up again with a series that ends on Sunday, Aug. 20, in Williamsport.

“There’s a lot of people excited about this game, unfortunately there’s not a lot of tickets to be had,” Hurdle said on Saturday in his office. “But I do think it will be a wonderful event for the city. Another opportunity for Williamsport to show off a bit.”

And Hurdle knows a bit about Williamsport.

The Pirates manager got one of his earliest starts in his young coaching career by managing the Williamsport Bills of the Class AA Eastern League in 1991. He’s been managing Pittsburgh since he was hired in November of 2010.

Hurdle’s wife, Karla, is a Muncy native as well.

“I think it’s a ground breaking event. I know the teams that went to Fort Bragg last year are still talking about it, because it’s a priceless memory,” Hurdle said.

But playing the MLB Little League Classic won’t just be reminiscent for Hurdle being back at Bowman Field. Pittsburgh outfielder McCutchen began his professional career with the Williamsport Crosscutters after being Pittsburgh’s first-round draft pick in 2005. He was promoted to Williamsport after beginning his 2005 season with the Gulf Coast League Pirates.

McCutchen on Saturday was closing in on his 1,400th career hit. He recorded his 1,399th career hit in the bottom of the first inning on Saturday when he hit a single on a hard shot into left field off starting pitcher Lance Lynn.

During his stint in Williamsport, McCut­chen played in 13 games and hit .346.

While McCutchen and Hurdle have Williamsport ties, two St. Louis Cardinals players will be appearing at Bowman Field with ties to the Little League World Series.

Lynn — who started Saturday’s contest on the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park — played in the 1999 Little League World Series for Brownsburg, Indiana. His current teammate, Randal Grichuk, played in both the 2003 and 2004 Little League World Series for Richmond, Texas, and his team finished third in 2004, defeating Mexico.

On Friday, the first day of play after the MLB All-Star break, Grichuk was placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to July 10. His roster spot was replaced by outfielder and first baseman Jose Martinez, who was recalled from the minors.

Grichuk’s appearance at Bowman Field would be pending his recovery with the Cardinals.

The St. Louis Post-Gazette reported on Friday that Grichuk had lower back stiffness, but said officials did not readily know a cause. Grichuk missed time previously in 2015 with a lower back strain.