9-14-08 PNC Park, Cardinals @ Pirates

Today was a Sunday game, so batting practice is never guaranteed.  However, when I walked past the Left Field gate, I peeked in and saw the screens were set up.  It looked like BP would take place after all.

wellemeyer.jpgI entered the stadium at 11 AM.  The Pirates do not open the stadium 30 minutes early for season ticket holders on Sunday like they do on Monday-Saturday.  Therefore, I was stuck on the Riverwalk until 11:30.  I was able to watch Todd Wellemeyer pitch his side session in the Cardinals bullpen.  After he was done, I shouted down “Could you please toss that ball up?”  He tossed it over the 8 foot high screen fence and over me and the crowd of 10 people watching him warm up.  Luckily, when he threw it, I knew from the trajectory that it was going to overshoot every one, so I broke back, and fielded the ball as it was rolling on the concrete.  It was ball #1.   

Around 11:40, the Cardinals decided to take batting practice – Supposedly because batting practice had been cancelled on Friday and Saturday.  The Cardinals are never a very good batting practice team for me.  They do not hit many home runs.  Near the end of their batting practice, I snagged a home run ball in the air.  I think it was hit by Brendan Ryan, but I am not positive.  It was ball #2 of the day.  More importantly, it was ball #111 of the season at PNC Park. 

Since the beginning of the season, I had my sights on legendary ball hawk Jim Saylor’s mark of 110.  I had a great April and May, routinely getting 4-6 balls per day.  However, the summer was rough on me, as I probably averaged around 2 balls or less per batting practice.  I had begin to worry that I wouldn’t break his record.  It felt good to finally not have to worry about 110 anymore.

Jim is probably the main reason I got into going to batting practice.  I went to a couple in 2007 and watched this 50-60 year old man, working without a glove, regularly snag seemingly 4-5 balls per game.  I was also taken about by his dedication and enthusiasm for snagging baseballs.  I caught my first batting practice ball on the fly from Sammy Sosa when the Pirates were playing the Rangers in June 2007.  From then, I was hooked.
Game: 2 balls
Season: 116 balls
Career:  154 balls
Hit List:  #4,045th place all time – tied with Kim Batiste

Attendance: 18,994 (49.5% full)