"A couple thousand," Cole Tucker told me as he walked off the field following 2019's final game at PNC Park.
"Thanks for writing my lede, man," I responded with a laugh as he flashed a peace sign, a smile and headed to the clubhouse via the dugout.
A couple thousand what, though? Autographs. Yes, autographs. That's the question I had for the player who has quickly become one of my favorites to cover on this team.
Fifty-five minutes. That's how long Tucker remained on the field following the game's conclusion. Signing, taking selfies and posing for countless more photo-ops. For the majority of it, the rest of the team was in the clubhouse fielding questions from reporters, showering, heading home.
To put that in context, this 3-1 loss to the Reds only lasted 2:43. That's 33-percent of the game time he spent with fans on the field afterward.
Joey Cora headed to the field to walk out of the stadium through the outfield. He cut across the mob of fans who had just run the bases, as they do every Sunday. That mob intensified by the autographs they got from Tucker -- somewhere out in left field at this point -- as they left the stadium.
Seriously, multiple members of the team left the field to head home. Tucker still hadn't left to shower. Also "seriously," this guy deserves everything that his combination of charisma and talent will bring to him.
[caption id="attachment_895793" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Cole Tucker entertains thousands of fans following the final game of PNC Park's season. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
I tried to take a photo to show just how insane this scene was. That's what would have typically led atop of this Sunday's Best, but I was worried the power of it would be lost in a thumbnail, so that's what you see just above. You can see Tucker there on the left, but I really wanted to show the number of fans who made their way down the stands to him, as well as the line leaving the field. So I shot it wide to show that the best that I could.
And, he bounced back and forth between those groups of people for 55 minutes. Insanity.
It wasn't just Tucker, though -- for as much of it as it truly was. The rest of the Pirates removed their jerseys, offered them to the lucky fans who won them in the stands, signed for those on the field and along it, tossed caps into the crowd and saluted the fans for their support this season.
That's what's seen above -- a collection of photos from the postgame festivities -- following the shot of Tucker up there. Mostly Tucker though ... dude put in the time. See you guys and gals in the comments!
MATT SUNDAY GALLERY
[caption id="attachment_895792" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Pirates vs. Reds, PNC Park, Sept. 29, 2019 -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]