Today was a weird and unconventional snagging day. I would catch zero balls off the bat, and only snag one ball thrown by a player. Yet, somehow I managed to break double digits.
I was the second one in line when I got to the gate. About fifteen minutes before the gates were to open, the old woman in front of me spared two of her friends, a father and his daughter, a little girl of about six years old. Little did I know that the daughter would go on to snag 12 balls of her own today, and assist me with three of my snags.
When the gates opened, I ran in to the bleachers and immediately found ball #1 about six rows back. I continued towards the visitor bullpen, and found ball #2 sitting in an aisle seat. I continued on towards the visitor bullpen and found ball #3 lying in the front row.
I wasn’t done searching. I walked over to the Indians bullpen and saw a ball laying in the front row. There were people standing in front of it, but hadn’t noticed it laying underneath the chair behind them. I walked in the second row, bent down, and picked up ball #4. It was extremely water-logged. I tried to write ‘433’ on it, but it was just too wet. I’ll have to wait until it dries out to re-label the ball.
When I picked up ball #4, I immediately noticed ball #5, which was about fifteen feet out, on top of the Indians bullpen.
I went to work. I tossed my glove out and pulled it in, knocking the ball a good ten feet or so closer. I took out my ‘Cleveland Stick,’ the collapsible six foot yard stick, and hooked the ball towards me. I reached over and grabbed the ball, for my fifth of the day. The father and daughter who were in line in front of me watched me make the snag.
After finding those first five balls, I tried to play for home run balls.
Game: 12 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 7 device)
Season: 275 balls (141 hit, 85 thrown, 49 device)
Games: 57 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.82 balls per game
Career: 441 balls
Streak: 72 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Since the Pirates are out of town for a week, and I’d like to snag my 500th career ball sometime in 2009, I decided that I needed to make a road trip or two this week. My first stop would be Camden Yards in Baltimore.
I attended this game with two friends, one of whom is in the ballhawk league (Andrew).
We arrived at 3:30 and got our tickets. There are two gates that open at 5:00. The Eutaw Street gate near the Babe Ruth statue…
And the one on the opposite end, nearest to the right field foul pole.
Which didn’t happen.
We stayed l
ong enough to watch all of the batters from each team hit, and then left the game early. We had a four hour + drive, and made it back home a bit after midnight.
Here are today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 3 balls (3 hit)
Season: 263 balls (137 hit, 84 thrown, 42 device)
Games: 56 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.70 balls per game
Career: 429 balls
Streak: 71 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I was interviewed recently by Alex Prewitt, a sports writer for USAToday. He came across this blog, and was intrigued about the Ballhawk League and ballhawking in general. I spoke with him by telephone for 40 minutes Sunday afternoon. He had lots of great questions, so I was really looking forward to the article.
The print version is a bit shorter than the online version.
To read the entire online version, click HERE.
There was some rain forecast for today, but when I arrived at the ballpark at 3:55, the sun was shining, and there were only a few measly clouds in the sky.
While standing in line, I noticed a Brewers fan who randomly had a MLB baseball. He didn’t have a glove or a bag or anything. He had just walked up from the Riverwalk area. Had he just gotten a ball out by the river? Possibly.
Rather than standing there, I decided to head down to the Allegheny River and see if I could get on the board before the gates even opened. There is some tall grass landscaping on a slope that leads down to a 20 foot wide walkway which borders the river. Occasionally balls will get stuck in there that get hit out of the stadium or bounce on the stadium. I looked, but found nothing.
I stood outside the stadium until 4:50, when I returned to line. There was only one ball that I saw that had a realistic chance. I caught it out of the corner of my eye and watched it hit the top of the Clemente wall and stay in the ballpark. Like clockwork, within a minute, an usher appeared and picked up the ball.
When I returned to the line at 4:50, it began to drizzle. Great. Just great.
The drizzle was persistant, and was rather annoying. I was worried that the groundscrew would put the tarp on the field and batting practice would be canceled. Luckily, this wasn’t the case. The rain was light enough that it allowed BP to continue.
I got ball #1 of the day from Joel Hanrahan. He fielded a ball, and didn’t throw it back towards the infield, so I stood in the front row with my glove up for about a minute. He finally decided he didn’t want the ball anymore, and fired it at me. It was a little high and away, but I was on the board.
I got ball #2 from Mike Defelice. I remembered Shawn from Milwaukee giving me the tip of calling him Deefer. It worked.
There wasn’t a ton of home runs hit. And its a shame too, because there weren’t many people there during the first 30 minutes of season ticket holder time only.
Game: 3 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 238 balls (125 hit, 78 thrown, 38 device)
Games: 49 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.86 balls per game
Career: 404 balls
Attendance: 11,471 (very April/May’ish attendance figure)
The Pirates are out of town until July 17th, which would mean 17 days without a baseball game for me. I decided to break up the drought by attending a game in Philadelphia.
I’d never been to a baseball game in Philly before, so I was interested to see what Citizens Bank Park had to offer.
I got to the stadium at 2:35, almost 2 full hours before the gates were to even open. I figured that I would give myself some extra time to account for traffic and to stop for lunch. (I ended up not stopping because my GPS directed me to a non-existent phantom Wendy’s. Frustrated, I decided to eat at the stadium.) I was there so early, that the parking attendant thought I worked at McFadden’s.
The first matter of business was to find an open ticket window and buy a ticket for today’s game. I walked past the first base entrance
then realized that the Reds had many more righties than lefties, and I’d have a better chance back in the packed left field seats.
Brandon Phillips put on a show in batting practice. One of his home runs came right to me, I was camped underneath it, ready to make the catch, when at the moment the ball was several feet from my glove, about 5 people’s arms slammed into mine. My arm moved, and the ball tipped off my glove. I didn’t get the ball. Fans in Philadelphia are much more agressive when it comes to going a
fter home run balls in batting practice than in Pittsburgh or Cleveland. In Pittsburgh, us ballhawks spread out and have our own little zones that we tend to stay in. We never run into each other or rob each other of home runs when another is camped under one. Next time I go to a game in Philly I’ll be prepared.
I was shut out for the rest of batting practice and ended with 2 baseballs.
I walked around the concourse. I liked how the Phillies post their line up on a large brick wall at the entrance to the left field gate:
The Phillies top 2 stars for my money:
The Liberty Bell (which gongs after a Phillies player goes deep):
Here was my view from my seat:
The Phillies would go on to knock out starter Johnny Cueto in the first inning and score an amazing 10 runs in the first inning. They would go on to win the game 22-1. I don’t think I’ve ever attended such a lopsided game.
I made my back to my hotel in Philadelphia. (Which didn’t have Internet). Ran a few miles on the treadmill in the fitness center, did 31 floors on a stairmaster, and went to bed.
I then disappeared for the next week (which is why its taken me a week to get this entry up) to the shore.
Game: 2 balls (2 hit)
Season: 226 balls (119 hit, 75 thrown, 32 device)
Games: 46 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.91 balls per game
Career: 392 balls
I decided to go to this game despite a gloomy forecast of rain throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
I had changed my mind several times about going. I had ultimately decided not to go, until the rain forecast changed from 60% chance to 50% chance at around 1PM.
Passing into Ohio, it was just overcast. Still no rain.
Game: 6 Balls (1 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 157 Balls (68 hit, 65 thrown, 24 device)
Games: 31 games (4 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.06 Balls per Game
Career: 323 Balls
After some deliberation, I decided to attend this game. The game was to begin at 6:05, an hour earlier than normal. Gates open on weekdays at 4:30 for 7:05 games, so I was expecting the gates to open at 3:30.
My wife and I got to Cleveland early, and picked up our tickets at the will call window around 3 and got in line at the gate. A girl came out and set everything up (tables, ropes, garbage cans, signs). She told some people that the gates were to open at 3:30. Yes!
Imagine my displeasure when the girl left to find the workers at 3:30 and returned with, “Uh, the gates aren’t opening until 4:30.”
I had to stand there, already in a bad mood, and listen to an autograph hound talk about his autograph exploits for an hour. He was talking obnoxiously loud. One of those people that wants everyone to hear his conversation.
Evan Longoria takes a big rip:
Carlos Pena takes a lead:
Today’s baseball(s): only one pictured because career ball #288 was given away.
Notice the nice scuffing from where it hit the concrete?
And the sweet spot:
Game: 2 Balls (1 hit, 1 device)
Season: 122 Balls (52 hit, 55 throw, 15 device)
Games: 25 Games (21 with BP, 4 without)
Average: 4.88 Balls per Game
Career: 288 Balls