SRU alumna delivers the ‘wow!’ as the Pittsburgh Pirates manager of ballpark entertainment


Halt at PNC Park

Celine Halt, a 2020 Slippery Rock University graduate, was recently promoted to manager of ballpark entertainment for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

April 4, 2024

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — There are moments during a Major League Baseball game that make the fans cheer, boo or simply say "Wow!" These moments are most often authored by players who are paid millions of dollars to hit home runs, make diving catches and throw strikeouts, but sometimes those moments are driven by people who aren't playing the game.

For Pittsburgh Pirates games at PNC Park, the person creating those moments is Celine Halt.

"I want fans to walk out of the ballpark saying, 'Wow!," said Halt, a 2020 Slippery Rock University graduate with a degree in resort, recreation and hospitality management. "We do everything that's fun about the ballpark that's not part of the baseball game."

Halt is the manager of ballpark entertainment for the Pittsburgh Pirates. She organizes pregame and between-inning programming, such as the ceremonial first pitch, the T-shirt cannon and video content that appears on the scoreboard. She supervises more than 60 seasonal employees who provide in-game entertainment, including members of the Bucco Brigade and the people who play the famous characters who participate in the Mrs. T's Great Pittsburgh Pierogi Race.

That's right, Sauerkraut Saul's boss is an SRU graduate.

"I love what I do," said Halt, who began working with the Bucco Brigade in 2017 when she was an SRU student. "Working for the Pirates was a dream of mine even before I was in college. It's great to be able to lead the group that I was once part of and working to improve and enhance all of our guest experiences. I love interacting with our fans and creating 'wow' moments for them."

A native of Murrysville, Halt grew up as a fan of Pittsburgh sports and experienced many of those "wow" moments herself.

"This is my hometown team, so there's nothing cooler than saying you work for one of those big sports teams that you grew up watching their games and going to their games," Halt said. "I remember going to my first game when I was probably in third grade and telling my dad that I wanted to be one of the people shooting T-shirts or getting the foul balls, but I never knew how that job could come about until I was at Slippery Rock and I had those right connections and being in the right place at the right time."

After graduating from Franklin Regional High School, Halt only applied to one college - SRU. The University offered the major she wanted, proximity to home and opportunities through the University Program Board, a student-run organization that brings a variety of entertainment and educational programs to campus.

"SRU gave me all of the tools that I needed to go into the real world and break into the field that I wanted, which was entertainment, recreation and hospitality," Halt said. "I gained so many experiences that opened doors for me that led me to my current career path, as well as ones that I could have never even dreamed were possible. And being at Slippery Rock, I felt like a name, and not a number. I was involved in so many different things on our campus and being able to be in so many different places."

Among her many activities, Halt was a member of Alpha Xi Delta at SRU. During the 2017 baseball season, a fellow Greek life member who worked on the Bucco Brigade asked the sororities if anyone was interested in applying.

"My thumbs never typed so fast asking for an application to be part of this," Halt said. "I went through the interview process and started my first game a month later and I was on the team for almost three seasons."

Halt took an internship with Carnival Cruise Line in 2019 as part of the Fun Squad Entertainment Staff. She lived on a cruise ship for four months and planned events for guests, such as trivia, karaoke and parties.

Poised to complete her degree at SRU in the spring of 2020 and continue her career with the cruise-line industry, Halt encountered a snag in her plan.

"I was one of the COVID graduates," Halt said. "The whole hospitality industry was put on hold."

She worked off and on as a substitute teacher and took a contract job as a recreation director at an aquatics and sports facility in Massachusetts for eight months, before deciding to reapply to the Bucco Brigade in 2022.

During her interview, one of her previous supervisors told her there was a full-time opening with the Pirates.

"I went from applying to be on the Bucco Brigade to applying to lead the Bucco Brigade," Halt said. "I got the job on April 4, 2022, which was a week before Opening Day. I had a very quick turnaround."

Halt has worked full-time with the Pirates ever since. She was promoted from coordinator of fan engagement to coordinator of gameday presentation during her first season and, prior to the 2024 season, to manager of ballpark entertainment.

As she's taken on more responsibilities, Halt has become more involved with areas across the organization including things like scoreboard operations. That involved a trip to spring training in Bradenton, Florida, to gather video content that will be used throughout the season.

During the season and on game days, Halt is involved with writing the script for the game. That includes cueing the national anthem singer, scheduling what the game hosts do during inning breaks and other types of promotions and "fan activations" (think T-shirt cannon or singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"). She works at field level and wears a headset that allows her to communicate with the director and producers in scoreboard room of the press box.

But much like the game on the field, her work doesn't ever follow the same script.

"We'll have the Bucco Brigade respond to what's happening in the game and make sure we have surprise and 'wow' moments for our fans," Halt said. "For example, we might find out it's a kid's eighth birthday and we'll ask him if he wants to hold the finish line tape for the Pierogi Race."

Halt works at least 12-hour days for each of the team's 81 home games. When the team is on the road, she is preparing for the next homestand, and during the offseason she is revamping systems and processes for the next season. This includes holding the stopwatch for all Pierogi Racer applicants (40 seconds is the minimum).

Looking back, Halt doesn't think twice about choosing SRU.

"On all the projects, leadership opportunities and things I learned in my classes, they all helped me so much to get me to where I am now," Halt said. "I made a lot of connections and SRU prepared me well. If I had to do it all over again, I'd pick Slippery Rock every time."

Halt is among eight current full-time employees for the Pittsburgh Pirates who graduated from SRU (name, year, title, degree):

  • Amanda Reilly, '23, Coordinator, Internal Events (strategic communication and media)
  • Catherine Dumm, '22, Project Manager (communication)
  • Celine Halt, '20, Manager, Ballpark Entertainment (resort, recreation and hospitality management)
  • Jodi Hummert, '99, Director of Security Operations (sport management)
  • Chris Hunter, '94, VP of PNC Park Operations (sport management)
  • Jeff Podobnik, '89, VP of Florida and Dominican Republic Operations (sport management)
  • Joe Billetdeaux, '87, Director, Alumni Affairs, Promotions and Licensing (sport management)
  • Jim Trdinich, '86, Director, Player Relations and Team Historian (communication)

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