I decided to head to Cleveland after work today. Originally, I would’ve liked to have attended yesterday’s too, but I wasn’t feeling well and fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak was already in Cleveland and reported a rained out batting practice on Wednesday.
I left work and drove to Cleveland and didn’t get there until 4:50 PM. Batting practice had began at 4:30. When I arrived, I had a few bad breaks and didn’t snag anything for the first twenty minutes I was there. I didn’t even get to see the good Indians batters like Hafner, Thome, Santana or Sizemore. I was regretting even going. Why did I go? Well, I wanted to move up another spot on this list and make my 2011 season a top 5 season. By that I mean, the number of balls that I snagged would be fifth all time.
Last year I was the all time single season record holder with 544 before Zack Hample blew by me with a 30 stadium 130 game season.
Here’s the list:
My first ball of the day was a ball that bounced into the trees in Heritage Park. I ran over and found the ball waiting just under the wall, so I reached in and grabbed it before an usher came rushing down and started looking for it as well. I had already grabbed it, so I just left. Since when do ushers try to get balls out of the trees in Heritage Park?
My second ball of the day was a nice catch that took some effort. An Indians blasted a home run to my right. I ran up about seven rows and cut across into an empty row and caught it on the fly backhanded here:
The White Sox BP typically sucks in Cleveland because they don’t have too many good lefties, and all fans are confined to right field until 6PM on weekdays. Not a good combination. However, I had some more luck.
Ball #4 of the day was completely lucky and random. Will Ohman fielded a ball near the wall and flipped it up over his shoulder without looking. I was standing four rows deep right here:
And the ball was directly to me. I didn’t have to budge an inch. Later in BP, Ohman screamed at the crowd that he would get the balls on the field and keep them, and if they wanted a ball to catch a home run. There were dozens and dozens of kids screaming ‘HERE HERE HERE’ on every ball that was hit to right field. I can see why he was annoyed. Even more annoying, is that it pretty much ruined it for everyone. The White Sox pretty much completely stopped throwing balls into the crowd for the rest of BP.
At 6:00, I had thought about running over and getting a ball about 12 rows up in left field that all of the ushers had missed, but Nick Pelescak was going to be going for the same ball, so I decided to instead head into foul territory at 6.
There was some major competition there, as a big line of people, including several ballhawks rushed in to the seats. In my haste, I dropped my Cleveland Stick. I had a decided that I would run down and see if there’s any Easter Eggs, and then come back and grab it a minute later.
When I ran over I found ball #6. It wasn’t just any ball though… It was an Angels 50th Anniversary Commemorative Ball. Rare.
And weird, since neither of the teams had recently played the Angels. The White Sox played them last on August 24th.
I then went back to grab my Cleveland Stick but it was gone. Someone had stolen it. Or threw it away. It was a terrible loss. If you’re new to this blog, I use the Cleveland Stick to snag unreachable balls out of Heritage Park like this one:
Luckily today was my final game in Cleveland, so I’ll have a new device for next year.
After having no luck in left field, I made my way over to the White Sox dugout and waited for batting practice to be over. I usually never do this, but I couldn’t pass it up. Look how many White Sox fans were waiting to greet the team as they ran off the field:
As a result, I got third base coach to toss me ball #7. He’s about to duck into the dugout in the picture below (between the two fans):
After snagging my seventh ball, I left thereby closing the book on Cleveland for the 2011 season.
I made it home at exactly 9 PM and Amy and I watched the Season Premier of The Office.
Here’s today’s baseballs:
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found, 1 device)
Season: 409 balls (173 hit, 86 thrown, 87 device, 56 found)
Games: 75 games
Average: 5.45 per game
Career: 1,531 balls
Strong storms swept through the Pittsburgh area around 3:30 PM, putting batting practice in jeopardy. However, they moved off to the east and the skies cleared by 4:30, so BP was a go for today.
I came into today needing six balls to reach the exclusive 500 balls snagged in one season club. It had only been done twice, by Zack Hample in 2008 and 2009.
Upon running in, I found ball #1 in the front row. I almost passed it by, but noticed fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak running quickly towards the spot, so I double checked, and it was right in front of me. I leaned over and grabbed it for ball #1.
My second ball was thrown to me by Chris Resop. That’s the first ball that I ever got from Resop, so I was glad to add another player to my thrown list. Thanks Chris.
Season: 503 balls (243 hit, 116 thrown, 72 device, 72 found)
Games: 78 games
Average: 6.45 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,081 balls
Streak: 174 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls needed to break single season record: 41
The weather forecast for today kept calling for thunderstorms, but every time I checked the forecast changed, and the storms kept getting pushed back to later and later in the day.
Eventually, I decided around 1PM to go for it, and hoped the weather would cooperate.
Despite arriving at 3:45, I was still first in line.
The boxes you see in the above photo were Shin Soo Choo bobbleheads. I was a little worried that today would be very crowded because it was a bobblehead night and a Saturday. However, the attendance was below 20,000. Kind of sad for a franchise that once sold out 455 games in a row.
When I ran in, batting practice hadn’t yet begun, and there were no Easter Eggs.
After a few minutes, BP got underway and an Indians lefty hit a few balls into the Indians bullpen.
One of the balls was in a spot at the back of the bullpen that could be retrieved with the glove trick. However, right when I began to set up for the glove trick, Tony Sipp ran by on his way to the bathroom in the Indians bullpen. I decided to hold off on glove tricking the ball and instead asked Sipp for one of the three balls in the bullpen after he finished in the bathroom.
He nodded and flipped me ball #1.
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 199 balls (104 hit, 53 thrown, 19 device, 23 found)
Games: 32 games
Average: 6.22 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 777 balls
Streak: 128 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I decided to attend this game after checking Saturday’s iffy weather forecast. I left right after work, so I didn’t get to the stadium until just before 5 PM.
I had missed the first 25 minutes of batting practice, which is never a good thing, but I would get on the board soon.
I was checking for any easter eggs that some folks may have missed when Shin Soo Choo hit a home run that landed in the trees in Heritage Park. I tried to reach in and grab it so I could count it as a hit ball, but I couldn’t reach it.
I pulled out my Cleveland Stick and used it to nudge the ball closer to the wall so I could get it. It was ball #1.
The next round, Travis Hafner also hit a home run into the trees in Heritage Park, so I ran back over again.
This ball would be a bit trickier because it was lodged in the branches of one of the trees.
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 4 device)
Season: 192 balls (101 hit, 51 thrown, 17 device, 23 found)
Games: 31 games
Average: 6.19 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 770 balls
Streak: 127 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.