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PITTSBURGH (July 7, 2022) – Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jason Grilli is returning to PNC Park on Saturday, July 23.  However, instead of appearing on the pitcher’s mound, a spot he was familiar with during his tenure with the team, Grilli will join the Pittsburgh Knights professional esports organization for the inaugural  Zenni ‘Gaming Knight’ at the ballpark.

Grilli, who pitched for the Pirates from 2011 to 2014 and was an All-Star in 2013, is now a business entrepreneur who has taken an interest in the local esports community.  He will attend the Rocket League tournament – which is open to local kids – being organized by the Knights and taking place in the stadium’s Left Field Lounge.  It will start at 4:30 pm (EST), ahead of that evening’s game between the Pirates and Miami Marlins, which begins at 7:05 pm (EST). 

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While I’ve played baseball and been involved in the sport my entire life, esports is a fairly new interest of mine that I’m learning more about every day,” says Grilli.  “Although baseball and esports may seem totally different, in both you wear a jersey, represent a team and work together with your teammates to accomplish a goal.  That’s something that attracted me to esports and it will be great to watch an esports tournament and a baseball game back at the ballpark.

A $25 registration fee includes two tickets to the baseball game and one entry into the tournament.  Individuals who are interested in watching the tournament in the Left Field Lounge or participating in Rocket League ‘free play’ once the tournament is over, can purchase a ticket for $19.00.  Co-branded Pirates and Knights baseball caps will also be available for purchase.   

In all my time playing and coaching in esports, which has been more than 15 years, this marks the first time I can remember a gaming tournament taking place during a major league baseball game,” says Garett Bambrough, General Manager of the Knights.  “It will be a really unique setting for a Rocket League tournament, and we’re looking forward to seeing what kind of players are part of the Pittsburgh community and if there are any future Knights in the tourney.

The Left Field Lounge is one of the stadium’s larger venues which offers views of both the playing field and the city of Pittsburgh.  When the tournament is complete and the winners are determined, it will be announced on the Pirates scoreboard between innings of the game.  Rocket League ‘free play’ will take place from 7:00 to 9:00 pm (EST), for those purchasing tickets with access to the area. 

Members of the Knights professional Rocket League team will be on hand during the evening, as will several of the Knights’ influencers.  Landon ‘McLando’ Mellor, the head coach of the Knights professional Rocket League team, will also attend the tournament at PNC Park.  

Grilli pitched in the Major Leagues for 15 years, including his four seasons with the Pirates (2011-14).  During his time with the Pirates, the right-handed pitcher appeared in 168 games and recorded 47 saves.  His best season with the Pirates was in 2013 when he appeared in 54 games, registered 33 saves, and made the All-Star team.  Born in Michigan, Grilli grew up outside Syracuse, NY, and attended Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Before attending Gaming Knight at PNC Park on July 23, Grilli will be taking part in TEC CON in Johnstown, PA.  A fundraiser for the Greater Johnstown YMCA, TEC CON will take place over three days (July 15-17) in Johnstown and include an esports convention with gaming vendors, a $10,000 High School Esports All-Star Showcase, and an opportunity for college esports scouts to meet players.  

In addition, the Johnstown Mill Rats of the summer college baseball Prospect League will host an Esports Night on Fri., July 15, as part of the TEC CON weekend festivities.  Grilli will throw out the first pitch at the Mill Rats game that night, as well as participate in a meet-and-greet and book signing.  

More information about TEC CON is available at:  https://tecconvention.com/

More details about Gaming Knight at PNC Park on July 23 are available at:  pirates.com/gamingknight

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about the knights

The Pittsburgh Knights are a global esports organization headquartered in Pittsburgh. Since launching in 2017, the Knights have focused on entertaining fans, sharing esports, and bringing people together. They solidified their spot in the City of Champions by partnering with six-time Super Bowl winners the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018. Since then, Pittsburgh-native and multi-platinum recording artist Wiz Khalifa has come on board as a strategic partner. Adding to their troop is Pittsburgh Penguins’ alternate captain Evgeni Malkin – 3-time Stanley Cup winner. To cap off their powerhouse group, they brought on Mexico City-based media fund MX LATAM in 2019. Officially recognized by Pittsburgh as a premier team, they have partnered with the most talented, innovative, and prestigious sports and entertainment industry leaders – both in the city and around the world.

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