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12/24/08 10:00 AM EST

Coonelly enjoys family time at holidays

Christmas break gives Pirates president brief escape from duties

Since arriving in Pittsburgh just more than a year ago, Pirates president Frank Coonelly has had little time to escape from the rigors of running the organization. This is the one time of the year, however, when Coonelly gets a brief escape from the baseball realm to head out of town and simply spend time with family.

MLB.com took a few minutes to catch up with Coonelly to find out what the Christmas season means to him and his family.

MLB.com: This is your second year in Pittsburgh during the Christmas holiday. Is there something in particular that you especially enjoy about Pittsburgh at this time of the year?

Holiday Q&A width=
ARI: Conor Jackson
ATL: Blaine Boyer
BAL: Jeremy Guthrie
BOS: M. Delcarmen
CHC: Kevin Gregg
CWS: John Danks
CIN: Jay Bruce
CLE: Ryan Garko
COL: Clint Barmes
DET: Nate Robertson
FLA: Josh Johnson
HOU: Chris Sampson
KC: Trey Hillman
LAA: Ron Roenicke
LAD: Andre Ethier
MIL: Seth McClung
MIN: Joe Nathan
NYM: Mike Pelfrey
NYY: Brian Bruney
OAK: J. Duchscherer
PHI: Jimmy Rollins
PIT: Frank Coonelly
SD: Chase Headley
SF: Sergio Romo
SEA: Don Wakamatsu
STL: John Roney
TB: Grant Balfour
TEX: Ian Kinsler
TOR: Rod Barajas
WAS: Steven Shell

Coonelly: While the lights that every town in the region so proudly displays is certainly impressive, what I enjoy the most about Christmas in Pittsburgh is the genuine spirit of giving back to those in need that I see all over the region during the Christmas season.

MLB.com: Is there anything you miss at this time of year from other places where you have lived?

Coonelly: I always enjoyed taking our kids to see the National Christmas Tree and related Christmas displays on the Mall in Washington D.C.

MLB.com: Looking back on your childhood, is there one Christmas that stands out more than the others for any reason, maybe because of a present you received or somewhere you went, etc.?

Coonelly: My most vivid memory of Christmas as a child was the anticipation that I experienced every Christmas Eve. I could never get to sleep quickly and would spend what seemed like hours reading my favorite books, typically the latest Matt Christopher novels, trying to get to sleep. Every time I heard a sound, I swore that it was Santa landing on our roof.

MLB.com: Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?

Coonelly: It has to be "It's a Wonderful Life." Once a year, we all need to be reminded how good we really have it, especially if we have our family with us.

MLB.com: What holiday traditions do you have with your family?

Coonelly: In recent years, we have tried to spend the week between Christmas and New Year's at the beach in South Carolina. The girls are home from school and it is a great opportunity to spend time with our kids.

MLB.com: And this year?

Coonelly: We will be making the 10-hour drive to South Carolina and then return to the Philadelphia area to visit family.

MLB.com: What is the typical Christmas morning like for the Coonelly family?

Coonelly: Kids, even as young adults and teenagers, sitting on the top of the steps waiting with great anticipation for Mom and Dad to tell them that it is safe to come downstairs to see what Santa has brought them this year, after Dad has brushed off the dust from the old Sony video recorder to capture another Christmas morning spent opening far too many gifts from the generous jolly old man from the North Pole.

MLB.com: If you were drawing up a Pirates wish list this Christmas, what would be on it?

Coonelly: A sixth world championship for the Pittsburgh baseball club in 2009, and then peace on Earth -- in that order.

MLB.com: Is there any message that you would like to send to Pirates fans as the new year approaches?

Coonelly: On behalf of the entire organization, I appreciate the opportunity to wish all Pirates fans a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2009. We truly appreciate the support that our fans give us and we are all working very hard to show that appreciation by building a team that can help bring joy and happiness to all of those Pirates fans who care so deeply about this organization.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.