It was a Friday at Progressive Field, and it was brutally cold, with temps in the mid 40’s. Originally, I had planned to go to Baltimore today and stay overnight and see the Athletics there on Friday and Saturday, but after some consultation with fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak, we decided to go to Cleveland instead as it was the cheaper option.
When the gates opened, I got on the board early thanks to Indians closer Chris Perez. As I was unsuccessfully looking for an easter egg, Perez fielded a ball in center field. I called out to him and he threw me the ball to put me on the board. It had a BP Gas stamp on it, meaning that I can redeem the ball for a gas card by having a representative cross out the stamp.
My second ball of the day was a home run that took a crazy bounce in the front row and shot right at me. It was over my head, so I stabbed at it with my glove and made the catch on the ricochet. It was a reflex type play.
Ball #3 was a home run to center field that bounced in the aisle and took a large hop towards the Progressive car. There wasn’t anyone else around so I scurried up the steps and picked it up.
My fourth ball came from Indians ace Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez finished a side session and walked out of the bullpen. Several people asked him for a ball, including myself, but he ignored everyone. Just as he was about to disappear out of view, he looked back. The other fans had turned their attention back to the field, but I hadn’t, so I held up my glove – and he tossed me his warm up ball for my fourth of the day.
Ball #5 was a ground rule double that I fielded in center field. I just shuffled through an open row and caught it as it bounced off of the warning track.
That was it for the Indians. When the Angels came out, I was expecting a lot of home run balls to be hit to center field, since they are a right handed heavy line up. That really wasn’t the case though. The Angels didn’t hit much of anything to center field that had home run distance.
As BP got underway, I tried to get a ball from a pitcher, but the last place Angels, who have been in turmoil were pretty unfriendly when it came to tossing up baseballs.
After a long drought, I caught a home run on the fly in center field off the bat of who I believe is Mark Trumbo after looking at his batting stance on mlbtv. I caught it here:
Ball #7 was a home run ball that landed in the trees in Heritage Park.
That was just before 6PM. At 6, the whole stadium opened, and I made my way over to left field. An unknown righty hit a home run to my right that I tried to catch, but couldn’t quite get to. In left field there are steep steps and bleachers all over the place, so its difficult to navigate quickly. The ball landed here:
Luckily, it rolled underneath the riser that the seats are on, so I just reached underneath and grabbed it.
I could tell that batting practice was about to end, so I hustled to the Angels dugout, the Angels finished before I got to the dugout, but I got there just in time to yell out ‘DINO!’ towards one of their coaches. It was Dino Ebel, their third base coach. He looked at me and smiled, and then turned away to put a few baseballs away. He then turned back and tossed me ball #9. Luckily I looked over the coaches list when I made my roster. Dino is unmistakeable because he’s rather gaunt. Seems like a cool guy though.
I only needed one more for double digits, but we didn’t hang around, we made the drive back to Pittsburgh with plans on heading to Baltimore the following day.