CURVE, Pa. – No player in Altoona Curve history has gone on to as much notoriety and popularity in the majors as Andrew McCutchen.
And Curve fans agree. Last fall when the team held its Fans’ Choice All-Time Altoona Curve Team voting, McCutchen received more votes than any player on the ballot at any position to earn a spot as one of the three outfield honorees.
The 11th-overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft by the Pirates in 2005, McCutchen joined the Curve for the final 20 games of the 2006 season.
McCutchen made his Curve debut on August 15, 2006 against the Connecticut Defenders on the road and singled in each of his first two games.
He made his home debut at Blair County Ballpark, now Peoples Natural Gas Field, on August 18, 2006, and quickly showed the hometown fans a preview of the major league player he would one day be. That night, he tallied three hits, including a home run, and drove in four runs in a 13-1 win over the Harrisburg Senators. He hit another homer the next night in his second home game.
“Coming from Low-A in Hickory, North Carolina at the time, coming to that ballpark, it definitely felt like a big-league ballpark,” McCutchen said of PNG Field in an interview at PNC Park a few years ago.
For his first run with the Curve, McCutchen hit .308 with three home runs. Following the season, he was named as the Pirates’ Minor League Player of the Year.
McCutchen returned to the Curve to open the 2007 season ranked as the Pirates’ No. 1 prospect, but he struggled in the first half and hit just .240 through 86 games.
He warmed up after the All-Star Break, batting .306 in his last 32 games before a late-season promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis.
McCutchen finished his Curve career with a .265 batting average, 13 home runs and 60 RBIs in 138 games over the two seasons. His numbers with the Curve do not place him among the top performers all-time in Altoona, but what he did in the years that followed cemented him as one of the team’s greatest alumni and one of the biggest stars in baseball.
He reached the majors with the Pirates in 2009 and has gone on to a decorated career. He has been selected as a National League All-Star five times, won four Silver Slugger Awards, a Gold Glove Award, and he was named the NL Most Valuable Player in 2013 as the Pirates posted their first winning season since 1992.
For his career with the Pirates, McCutchen hit .291 with 203 homers and 725 RBIs.
His time in Pittsburgh ended with a trade to the San Francisco Giants on January 15, but he will always be regarded as a favorite for the fans of the Altoona Curve.
The first 1,000 fans through the gates on Saturday, April 21 at PNG Field will take home an Andrew McCutchen Fans’ Choice All-Time Curve Team bobblehead, presented by Nuts for You.