Batting practice was rained out on both Monday and Tuesday, so today was my first baseball game in 15 days. Today was special, as I brought Olivia and Amy to the ballpark:
She was a perfect angel and didn’t cry or fuss at all the whole time we were at PNC Park.
There were a handful of balls that landed in the seats, but it seems like any more that this is all we do:
At 5:30, I found a ball in foul territory hidden under a seat.
Ushers had combed through the rows a few minutes prior and picked up a couple more.
Back over in left field, I made a nice place on a ground rule double as I picked it from the first row as it was bouncing over the wall.
I got my fourth ball of the day in foul territory, as an Astros player hit a slow roller that settled about 6 feet out from the low wall past third base. I ran over and tossed my glove out to nudge the ball closer so I could grab it. In the meantime, Coach Suba was prowling around looking for baseballs and was walking over to retrieve the ball when I snagged it. He said, “I don’t come into your yard and take your lawnmower.” I didn’t want to argue so I just offered him the ball back. “No, you can keep it, I just wish I would’ve known you were going to get it so I didn’t have to walk the whole way over here,” he said.
In the meantime, Wilton Lopez stormed over looking real pissed that I had taken a ball off the warning track and demanded that I give the ball back. I threw him the ball back and he stormed off for a moment and acted like he was going to throw the ball back to the infield, but then broke into a huge smile and threw me the ball back. He was just messing with me. Although I snagged the ball two different times, by two different means, I’m only going to count it once. I’ve seen some shady stat keeping by ballhawks where they’d count the ball as two, but whatever. I’m counting it as a device ball in my stats.
Here’s Suba and Lopez a few seconds after all that happened:
My fifth ball was a home run that landed in section 134 that I was able to snag before another guy, who ended up losing his balance. He was fine. I supported him as he lost his balance.
And, my last ball of the day was tossed to me by a groundkeeper who happened by as I was about to glove trick a ball by section 101.
I wasted the last 10 minutes by the Astros dugout since there were no fans there – in an attempt to get a ball from a player as they ran off the field. The Astros ended up hitting longer today and I ended up losing out on several home run balls that landed in the seats a vastly empty right field.
As for the game, we had seats in the club level, but I didn’t snag anything else.
Game: 6 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 362 balls (152 hit, 76 thrown, 85 device, 49 found)
Games: 68 games
Average: 5.33 per game
Career: 1,484 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 8
Needed to reach goal: 51 (6.4 per game)
Amy was working today, so I don’t have any good pictures.
Upon entering the stadium, I found ball #1 about four rows back in left field. It was good to get on the board early, because the last Pirates group did absolutely nothing. Zero home runs.
When the Astros came out, I glove tricked my second ball over by the bullpen.
Most of the Astros pitchers seemed really lazy when it came to shagging, so I was hopeful that I could glove trick a few balls today, but a coach named Suba marched all over the field collecting the balls, as if it was his sole and only purpose with the team.
The first Astros group was weak, but the next group featured Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee along with Jason Michaels, probably the Astros three best BP hitters in that order.
After a couple rounds of going opposite field, Hunter Pence started letting loose and hitting some home runs.
In the span of a minute, I caught three balls cleanly, all on the fly, here:
Ball #3 was hit by Pence. It was basically right at me. I stood up on the bleacher as I made the catch, just out of habit. Moments later he hit another home run that was slightly to my left. I tracked the ball and caught it reaching forward and made the basket catch as several fans turned away, blinded by the sun.
Jason Michaels hopped in the cage and promptly hit a home run which I caught on the fly. Since there was so much action in such a short amount of time, people started noticing me and asking me questions such as how many that was for me, etc. No one gave me a hard time though.
Moments later I snagged another ground rule double, and then finished things off with a clean catch of yet another home run.
I gave away one of my extra decoy balls to a young boy whose father was asking me for ballhawking tips for his son.
I watched the game from the Club Seats.
I picked a great spot for a foul ball. The only thing in front of me was a camera well,
and a wide open row to my right.
But as luck would have it not a single ball would be hit within three sections either way of me.
Game: 8 balls (6 hit, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 280 balls (121 hit, 56 thrown, 64 device, 30 found)
Games: 48 games
Average: 5.83 balls per game
Career: 1,402 balls
Today was the fourth straight sell out game at PNC Park, the first such string of games in the ten year history of the ballpark. Also, the Pirates decided not to take batting practice today, which left just the Astros.
My first ball of the day was a clean catch on the fly in left field. I don’t know who hit it, but Amy got a pic of me labeling it after the fact:
There was a bunch of waiting around,
because the Astros as you may know suck. They are the worst team in baseball. Apart from Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence, there’s not much to look forward to in an Astros BP.
My second ball was a scrum ball that I corralled under a bleacher. Here I am after grabbing it:
The ball had a distinctive marking. Do you know who hit it?
Read backwards. Jason Michaels. There is a clear MICHAE and beneath that a PRO (from Pro Model on the bat). This is an ultra rare marking, and I only at least one other one where the player who hit it has his name visible on the ball from the bat.
We returned downtown later on in the day to watch the fireworks on the North Shore.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 2 balls (2 hit)
Season: 272 balls (115 hit, 56 thrown, 63 device, 29 found)
Games: 47 games
Average: 5.78 balls per game
Career: 1,394 balls
Today was Mother’s Day, and my mother-to-be fiancee Amy had to work this game, so I was there too. Luckily, even through it was a day game following a night game, there was a full batting practice.
Upon entering the stadium, I snagged my first ball of the day on the Riverwalk, or outfield concourse. Fans can’t enter the stadium until 11:30, they can only access the Riverwalk, which is the area behind the right field wall. It’s kind of dumb to open at 11 AM, and just make everyone stay out there, but whatever.
Chris Snyder threw me my first ball of the day over the iron gate. He’s on the left in the picture below, talking to Lyle Overbay.
I called out for a ball from Neil Walker
but so did this guy:
(I didn’t realize we were at a Steeler game…)
Anyway, I snagged the ball over him, and he wasn’t too happy. He started boasting about how he ‘can jump’ because he ‘plays basketball,’ and the next ball thrown out, he was getting.
I didn’t wait around to see, as it was 11:30, and I ran into the left field bleachers. There, I found ball #3 by the bullpen, and continued my search into foul territory.
There were no balls there, but a cool groundscrew member tossed me a ball that was laying in front of the tarp.
My fifth ball of the day came from Evan Meek. He handed me a ball after we had a nice five minute conversation about everything from Amy, my upcoming baby, Mother’s Day, his recovery, etc.
I only snapped a picture as they ran off the field.
The Astros then came out, and Dave Clark started hitting balls to the relief pitchers, encouraging them to rob the home runs, or injury themselves and end their careers. Just ask Ruben Niebla.
It worked out though, as Clark over hit a ball into the stands that I snagged off a bleacher in this area.
My seventh ball was a Hunter Pence home run catch on the fly caught on the far end of the section by the handicapped seats.
I caught it while running, and spun around after making the catch doing a 360 spin. One of my better catches this year.
Ball #8 of the day was thrown to me by Jose Tabata in the 8th inning. I snagged it here.
I had to run down a few steps to snag it from other fans who were reaching from it, but I’m pretty sure it was to me, just under thrown. It was directly in the middle of the aisle. Luckily, no one batted it away from me.
After the game, I took Amy out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Old Mexico located in Washinton PA.
Here are today’s eight baseballs:
Game: 8 balls (2 hit, 5 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 91 balls (33 hit, 25 thrown, 21 device, 12 found)
Games: 15 games
Average: 6.07 balls per game
Career: 1,213 balls
There is a guide to the colors hanging above the paint. The shade on
the left is one coat, and the shade on the right of each color is three
Amy and I chose a piggy bank to make for our daughter, due in early August.
Amy and I painted the pig together. She pained the body of the pig.
And I worked on the front.
After we got the pig just like we wanted it, I detailed in purple our daughter’s name on one side of the piggy bank.
This was the end result:
On the other side I wrote her year of birth, 2011.
And here’s the face I painted:
It’s going to be fired in a kiln and we’ll pick it up next week!
After that it was off to PNC Park. It began raining at 3:50. It never rained more than a drizzle, and it drizzled for about 10 minutes. This was just enough for the PNC Park groundscrew to decide to cancel batting practice for the day.
To pass the time, I played catch with Nick Pelescak and Zac Weiss on the bridge.
Always a good time.
Of course, since there was no batting practice going on, there wasn’t much to do, so I went over behind the Astros pitchers when they came out. On my way over, I found my first ball of the day in the seats along the right field foul line.
It was likely left over from the Pirates batting practice, because they had been hitting before the light drizzle started.
Lopez was confused by the string, so I just told him I use it for extra padding. Thanks to Nick Pelescak for the picture.
Later, when the Astros were done throwing, Lopez tossed me his warm up ball, my second one of the day.
Afterwards, I walked around for a bit.
There ended up being 32,000 fans at this game, so there wasn’t any chance for toss up balls from the outfielders, so I ended with two balls.
Game: 2 balls (1 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 83 balls (31 hit, 20 thrown, 21 device, 11 found)
Games: 14 games
Average: 5.93 balls per game
Career: 1,205 balls
Today I just didn’t have it. It wasn’t my day.
My first ball of the day was Pedro Alvarez opposite field ground rule double that bounced over the fence. The ball took a weird hop, and I tried to barehand it. I dropped the ball, but recovered it at my feet. I got it here:
My second ball of the day was a home run catch off the bat of an unknown Astro. I caught it on the fly here. Standard catch.
My third and final ball of the day came at the very end of batting practice. Fernando Abad, seen here in a group of Astros pitchers,
field. The ball sailed over my head, landed on the steps, bounced off
the plexiglass to the upper bleachers and back towards the handicapped
seats. I reached over the railing separating the handicapped seats
from the aisle and caught the ball.
That was it for batting practice.
Game: 3 ball (2 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 81 balls (31 hit, 19 thrown, 21 device, 10 found)
Games: 13 games
Average: 6.23 balls per game
Career: 1,203 balls
A bad day. I’ll be brief.
That was it.
Game: 3 balls ( 1 hit, 2 device )
Season: 538 balls (256 hit, 131 thrown, 74 device, 77 found)
Games: 86 games
Average: 6.26 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 6
Career: 1,116 balls
Streak: 182 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls needed to break single season record: 6