Pirates to pay tribute to fallen heroes

Pirates to pay tribute to fallen heroes

CINCINNATI -- The pomp and circumstance surrounding Monday's home opener against Houston at PNC Park will take on a somber tone when three slain Pittsburgh police officers are remembered in a pregame ceremony.

Officers Eric G. Kelly, Paul J. Sciullo II and Stephen J. Mayhle will be honored with a moment of silence and the playing of "Taps" prior to the game. The officers were killed on April 4 while responding to a domestic dispute.

Pirates players and coaches are anticipating an emotional moment.

"It'll hit close to home," said manager John Russell. "It will be a moving experience, obviously. It hits hard for everybody associated with the city of Pittsburgh. It will be a sad moment."

Pirates players will wear Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (PBP) caps and a commemorative PBP patch on the left sleeve of their uniforms throughout the game. The Astros will wear PBP caps during player introductions.

The Pirates will auction off the signed and authenticated caps from both teams and the game-worn Pirates players jerseys on Pirates.com, with all proceeds going to the Pittsburgh Police Fallen Heroes Fund to support the officer's families.

Pittsburgh police officers are a visible presence at PNC Park, interacting with players, coaches and team officials on a daily basis.

Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez said the team feels the magnitude of the tragedy.

"When something like this happens, particularly in your home city, it hits home," Sanchez said. "We see them all the time at the stadium. They're there for our safety, for everyone's safety. You never want to see this type of thing happen."

Sanchez believes Monday's ceremony will help keep the game in perspective.

"It makes you see the larger picture," Sanchez said. "This is a game we play. Just a game. Those guys are out risking their lives every day. Those are the real heroes."

Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.