Below is a partial transcript of pregame press conference with Barry Bonds, Jim Leyland, Dick Groat and Jack Wilson. The room was filled with what had to be over 40 members of the press and it was a pretty special atmosphere. Dejan Kovacevic described the scene as follows:
You know, our city has a media corps with a lot of years, a lot of experience. NEVER seen them rapt like this at a press conference.— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) March 31, 2014
Who's idea was it for you to be here today?
They approached me.
Why was it important for you to be here today?
It was a city I played for. I got to play for one of the best managers in all of baseball. I loved it here. Pittsburgh is a great town. It's a great city. I wanted to play for Leyland my whole career, but things changed. I got to play for a great manager and a great city. It's an honor to be back. It's nice.
Expectations of the crowd reaction to his return:
We had some great times here. We were baseball players here. We came here and tried to win championships. Unfortunately we came up short. We had a great fan base. We loved the fans here. We loved playing here. We loved playing for Leyland.
Impressions of Andrew McCutchen:
I think he's a good player. I think he's got the formula down. Once you do it once, I expect you do to it again (laughing). That's what Leyland taught me.
On perhaps taking a position with the Pirates in the future:
I think the city of San Francisco would be upset, but it would be a honor if the opportunity presented itself.
What's the best part of being back in Pittsburgh?
Being able to drive past Coraopolis, where I used to live (laughter). Looking up at the ... apartment where I started. Just looking around the whole city seeing how it's developed. Just how great it looks.
What was the best part of seeing the Pirates turn it around last year?
I think the electricity of the city. My son came here for the game against Cincinnati and he said he has never seen a crowd like that in Pittsburgh....I think bringing the city back together. The good news is that they are the real deal now. They should be here for a long time.
On Clint Hurdle:
Number one, I think all good managers are people-persons. I think that is what they are. That's what he's done. I think he's found a home here. He does remind me a little bit, and I'm not trying to make headlines here, he reminds me a little bit of when I came here ... He's done a great job communicating with the city, as well as the players. He's become Pittsburgh. He's accepted Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh has accepted him. I think it's a great marriage.
He's a very good strategist, but most of all he knows how to deal with people. You have to deal with every player different. You try to get the same results, but you've got to deal with different players differently. And I think that is Clint's strong suit.
Should Barry Bonds be in the Hall of Fame?
Barry Bonds is a Hall of Fame player. It's other people's decision whether he gets in. We're not going to debate that today ... In my opinion Barry Bonds is a Hall of Fame player. I don't thing there is any question about that.
What does it mean to you to be here today?
Remember this is my home town. Born and reared here. I've always felt this was the greatest city in America. The fans have treated me very well, whether I was a player in a Pirates' uniform or the Cardinal uniform or a Giants or Phillies. I'm home; this is my place.
What was like for you to watch the success of the team last season?
Once I got shipped over to Seattle, I became a Pirates' fan. It's one team I followed and still follow. I was blowing up these guys phones all year last season - you know, Walker and McCutchen - giving them words of encouragement. I was so excited to see the team come through, break the streak. Now, like Barry said, you do it once, you got to do it again.