When the video tribute began, Andrew McCutchen stepped out of the on-deck circle, walked behind home-plate umpire Chris Segal and past the batter's box as the 34,720 fans at PNC Park applauded the return of the former face of the Pirates.
McCutchen took off his batting helmet and nodded in appreciation. First, he gave a long look at the Pirates' dugout, as former coaches and teammates applauded. Then, he turned and looked around his former ballpark. It was a celebration of his nine years with the franchise, and it continued throughout Friday night.
"It's something to remember, for sure,' McCutchen would say afterward, "I did my best to soak it in."
McCutchen, traded to the Giants in January, received a similar ovation when he trotted out to right field for the first time, and as he stepped to the plate for each of his five at-bats, including his one-out double in the seventh inning. However, fans who flocked to the North Shore for his long-awaited return also witnessed how the Pirates have succeeded without him.
The Pirates, backed by 15 hits, including four home runs, defeated McCutchen's Giants, 11-2, to win the first game of this series, and make an emphatic statement on a night that will be remembered by all involved.
"It was the best of both worlds, to be honest with you," Jordy Mercer said afterward. "Obviously we want to win the game, but we know what he’s done for this city and what he’s done for this organization and basically, in this clubhouse. So, we definitely wanted him to have his time multiple times. Whatever he wanted. We wanted to let him know everybody appreciated him, but we wanted to win the game too, as well. I think it was a good mix."