Today was a little more difficult than yesterday, because far fewer balls were hit into the stands. Sometimes it just goes that way.
My first ball of the day was off the bat of Lastings Milledge. He hit a home run that popped out of my glove and I had to scoop up. I’ve had some bad luck the past few days with balls popping out. It might be time to get rid of the 40 feet of string that fills up the inside of my glove.
The second ball was another Milledge hit. This time it was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence. I ran to my right, and caught the ball barehanded as it bounced off a bleacher.
My third ball of the day was thrown by bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade. Someone on the Pirates hit a deep home run that hit off of the steel support of the general admission bleachers. Herbie looked at the ball for a minute, and then turned and fired the ball to me.
Ball #4 was glove tricked in front of the State Farm sign in left field.
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 4 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 159 balls (90 hit, 40 thrown, 11 device, 18 found)
Games: 25 games
Average: 6.36 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 737 balls
Streak: 121 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
It was a dreaded Sunday game. The game last night ended around midnight. Surely there wouldn’t be batting practice.
Each Sunday, I head down to the stadium and peer through the gates around 11:15 or so. If the cages are up, I will stay, if not, I just turn around and go home. No big deal.
I hate Sunday games because there’s always kids everywhere, and there’s always some special event bringing throngs of people.
I was floored when I saw this through the gate Sunday morning:
Game: 5 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 135 balls (83 hit, 29 thrown, 9 device, 14 found)
Games: 20 games
Average: 6.75 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 713 balls
Streak: 116 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
It was another great day at PNC Park for me.
Ball #1 was off the bat of Andy LaRoche. It was a ground rule double that I snagged on the hop.
My second and third balls were off the bat of Lastings Milledge. The second ball was a home run that I snagged after it bounced off a handicap seat, and the third was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence right next to the foul pole.
There was no pitchers in the outfield today, which was good. They see the regulars get many home run balls and refuse to toss balls to us. Delwyn Young was patrolling left field today, and I got him to toss me ball #4.
That was it for me. I should’ve stayed as Ronny Cedeno hit a home run that bounced onto the lowest rung of the Left Field Rotunda. I would’ve defi
nitely snagged that ball, as I’m used to running up the ramp from my experience in batting practice.
There was probably less than 5,000 people that actually attended the game as there was a Penguins playoff game.
Here’s today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 11 balls (8 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 113 balls (69 hit, 23 thrown, 10 device, 12 found)
Games: 15 games
Average: 7.53 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 691 balls
Streak: 111 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Since today is a Friday, I thought that it might by a little more difficult than the other two days this week, where I had snagged 8 and 10 balls.
The Cardinals can be a tricky team to deal with due to their hitting approach. Twice last year I only snagged one ball in games that the Pirates played the Cardinals. My best game against the Cardinals was a 9 ball performance on May 12, 2009. I would break that today.
My first ball was a Steve Pearce ground rule double that bounced over the fence and I caught in the second row. It was career ball #6-6-6. Hopefully the dubious distinction of being tied to that ball number doesn’t jinx Pearce in the big leagues.
Ball #2 was another ground rule double off the bat of Lastings Milledge, and ball #3 was a home run that I had to battle the sun for, and made the catch in the aisle way between section 136 and 137.
Near the end of the group, I got two balls within 10 seconds of each other. Both were from Lastings Milledge. He hit a home run that I caught on the fly, and as soon as I made the catch and started drifting back to my right to go to my spot, another home run was hit to my right. I sprinted over and picked the ball up as it was trickling down the bleachers.
The Pirates finished up at 5:26. The Cardinals began hitting.
I glove tricked ball #6 in left field, as none of the Cardinals’ shaggers had made it over to left field yet.
I then ran over to center field and found ball #7 in the center field seats.
I returned to left field and got a home run from an unknown Cardinals player . The ball hit two sections from the foul pole and ricocheted like a rocked directly at me. I actually caught the ball between my side and my forearm, as I didn’t have enough time to react. That was ball #8, and it was only 5:38, exactly half way through batting practice.
Would I be able to continue this pace and challenge the PNC Park Jabs/Pelescak record of 14.
Things slowed way down, as people started blocking off the rows, and limiting my range.
I did catch a Nick Stavinoha home run on the fly in section 137.
Game: 10 balls (8 hit, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 97 balls (61 hit, 16 thrown, 10 device, 11 found)
Games: 13 games
Average: 7.46 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 675 balls
Streak: 109 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I wasn’t even supposed to be at this game. Thanks to a tree that fell during a storm last night, my place of work didn’t have power all day, thereby freeing me up for the afternoon and relieving me of my coaching duties for a day.
I spent the about 30-40 minutes on the riverwalk before the gates would open. Unfortunately, this is the most interesting to happen down there:
Game: 10 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 3 found)
Season: 87 balls (53 hit, 16 thrown, 9 device, 10 found)
Games: 12 games
Average: 7.25 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 665 balls
Streak: 108 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
After missing yesterday’s game due to coaching, I was looking forward to attending my first game of the week today, on Cinco de Mayo.
I ran in, trailing fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak. Nick broke to the left towards the bullpen, so I was left to search near the ushers. Surprisingly, there was a ball sitting there in the third row on the ground. I was on the board.
I got my second and third balls of the day during the Pirates BP in this area: The General Admission Bleachers.
The balls bounced on the walkway behind me and hopped up into the bleachers. I don’t know who hit ball #2, but ball #3 was off the bat of Ronny Cedeno.
I caught my fourth ball of the day off the bat of Jason Jaramillo. I caught it on the fly in the second row (which is an accomplishment, as I typically stay away from the first two rows).
That was it for the Pirates BP, and the Cubs came out.
I didn’t have to wait long to get my first Cubs ball, as Derrek Lee hit a high fly ball that bounced on the warning track, and six rows back into my glove.
Soon after, I glove tricked ball #6 in this area:
Game: 8 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 77 balls (47 hit, 15 thrown, 8 device, 7 found)
Games: 11 games
Average: 7.00 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 655 balls
Streak: 107 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The day didn’t start off on the right foot, as I was a few minutes late to batting practice. Fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak already had seven balls by the time I entered the stadium. Amazing.
I had some work to do to catch up, as we began the week tied atop the standings of the Ballhawk League (BHL).
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge have been hitting in the last group of Pirates. So, for the 10-15 minutes that we get to see the Pirates hit, at least there’s some right handed semi-power hitters in the group.
I got ball #1 off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. It was a home run that landed in an empty section to my right that I ran over and grabbed.
Soon after, Lastings Milledge hit a ball onto the Rotunda that I ran up the ramp to snag as it slowly rolled down towards me. That would be it for the Pirates portion.
Luckily, the Brewers have been good to me lately. I changed into my Brewers gear.
And then would get started on a nice roll in an empty park.
“I’d better get my glove on,” I thought. No less than seconds after I had my glove on my
hand, Duke delivered his second pitch of the game. Weeks hit a slicing fly ball foul, directly at me. I immediately stood up and went into ballhawk mode. I took several steps to my left and made the clean catch on the fly. It was my first foul ball since snagging my first last year on September 23, 2009.
Upon catching the ball I did a fist bump and a little bit of celebration, which must have caught the eye of Tim Neverett and Bob Walk, who commented on the catch. It was also enough to get FSN to cut back to me.
Someone in the Pirates brass must have seen the catch, because moments later I was approached by a Pirates representative with a mic in hand. He introduced himself, congrulated me on my catch, and explained that he would like to invite me to be on the PNC Park game show “Know Your Buccos,” at the end of the second inning.
As instructed, I went over in the middle of the second and chatted with Joe Klimchak, who explained the game that I would be participating in. Basically, four ‘fun’ facts about a Pirate are presented, and the participant must eliminate the false answer.
When we went live, Joe introduced me, telling the crowd about the foul ball I had just snagged, and explained how I could win the fabulous prize (a $65 Pirates sweatshirt.)
I had to figure out which of the following facts were false regarding Ronny Cedeno:
I knew the Vizquel fact was probably true, given they are both Dominican. I also figured that Old School sounded like a type of movie that a man of Cedeno’s age would enjoy. I was torn between the First Job and the name of his cat.
I thought it over and just thought, “Who would name their cat Meow?” “Come here Meow… that would just sound stupid.” So I eliminated the cat named Meow.
After a few pressure filled seconds, it was revealed that Ronny does not have a cat named Meow, I had eliminated the false answer, and won the $65 jacket.
If you’d like to check out a video of my Know Your Buccos spot, you can check out the youtube link below.
I went back to my seat and watched the rest of the game, glove in hand.
Lightning wouldn’t strike twice. Would it?
Well it did.
Andrew McCutchen came up to bat in the fifth inning.
He fouled off a pitch in the same spot as the Week’s foul ball. I shot up out of my chair immediately when I saw the angle the ball took off the bat. This time, the ball was dying on me. It didn’t quite reach me, as it was about a row and a half ahead of me. I reached down and got it to hit my glove and knocked it into the row directly below me. I would liken the play to a catcher smothering a ball in the dirt. The ball came to a dead stop and I picked up my second foul ball of the day. Amazing.
Would I go on to catch my thirteenth ball of the night? A third foul ball in the game?
It was certainly empty enough for it to happen, as the Pirates were getting blown out, and the weather had turned cold.
There’s probably more fans at high school baseball games, but that’s Pittsburgh on week nights for you. Low, low attendance, especially after 10PM, like it was in the picture above.
I would end the night with those two foul balls, a sweatshirt, twelve total balls snagged, and probably the best ballhawking performance of my career.
Game: 12 balls (10 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 51 balls (34 hit, 7 thrown, 6 device, 4 found)
Games: 8 games
Average: 6.38 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 2
Career: 629 balls
Streak: 104 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 8 games: 31 (Currently I am 20 balls ahead of last year’s career high season pace)