PITTSBURGH - Despite a much-publicized effort to display fan discontent during the Pittsburgh Pirates' 15th consecutive losing season, only a few thousand fans at most in the crowd of 26,959 left their seats in protest following the third inning of Saturday night's game against Washington.
Only about 100 fans were seen leaving the ballpark immediately following the third, and it appeared that many of the fans who vacated their seats returned not long after leaving.
Organizers who staged a pre-game rally outside PNC Park wanted fans displeased with the Pirates' low-spending ownership to walk out of the ballpark - fittingly, on a night the club gave away bobblehead dolls honoring former Pirates pitcher Bob Walk.
While the anti-ownership effort was the most organized of any during the Pirates' run of losing seasons, which began under previous owners in 1993, it wasn't very successful. Fans unhappy with the club were asked to wear green shirts, but many who did stayed in their seats.
Efforts by some spectators to start a derisive chant about the Pirates' ownership failed, and some fans booed those green-shirted fans who left their seats.
"I totally understand the fans' frustration," Pirates principal owner Bob Nutting told Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh during its game telecast. "I respect the people who are trying to make a statement."
Nutting also said he appreciated the support of the fans who stayed in their seats.
The protest effort may have been harmed by an unlikely source - the Pirates' offense. One of the majors' lowest-scoring teams scored six runs in the second inning to take a 6-1 lead only an inning before the walkout fizzled out. The Pirates went on to win 7-2.