We were third in line at the gate, but the two people in front of me sort of got out of line by standing in front of another gate. So, I was first into the stadium. Upon entering, I found ball #1 in the right field seats. I watched helplessly as an usher picked up another ball I had spotted.
Travis Hafner batted at the beginning of batting practice and peppered the right field seats with home runs. I was able to grab ball #2 and ball #3 off of his bat within about the span of a minute.
It helped that the crowd looked like this for the first 30 minutes or so:
Game: 9 Balls (8 hit, 1 device)
Season: 98 Balls (43 hit, 44 thrown, 11 device)
Games: 18 Games (15 with BP/ 3 without)
Average: 5.44 balls per game
Career: 264 Balls
I attended today’s game with my wife. I had to wait for her to get home for work, so we didn’t get to the stadium until 4:55 PM, just in time before the 5 PM gate opening.
Usually I get 1 ball during the Pirates portion during the week (they only hit for about 10-15 more minutes after the gates open). Today, though, I had 4 balls by 5:04. I’ve never gotten off to a start like that in my life.
Ball #1 was tossed from Nyjer Morgan.
Game: 10 balls (4 hit, 4 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 84 balls (32 hit, 43 thrown, 9 device)
Games: 16 games (13 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 5.25 balls per game
Career: 250 balls
I got into line at 3:30 (an hour before the gates were to open), and was the 8th person in the stadium. I was the third one into the bleachers. There were 2 easter eggs, but another ballhawk got them first.
About 10 minutes or so passed with no action. I noticed a ball roll directly to the fence where the stands jut out towards the foul line in left field. I decided to vacate my spot and go grab the ball. I ran up the escalator to the main concourse, and then down the stairs and reached over the fence and grabbed ball #1. Then, I immediately went back to the bleachers. I snapped this picture when I returned to the bleacher area to illustrate where the ball was. (The small yellow X)
Game: 6 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 64 balls (26 hit, 31 thrown, 7 device)
Games: 13 games (11 with BP, 2 without)
Average: 4.92 balls per game
Career: 230 balls
When the gates opened, I ran into the bleachers and immediately found ball #1, laying in the front row of section 138. I walked around in each section before turning my attention to the action on the field, and found another Easter egg in Section 136 about 5 rows back, it was ball #2.
The Pirates were hitting for about 10 more minutes, and then the Reds were going to hit. Near the end of the Pirates portion of Batting Practice, Karstens threw a ball to a kid about 6 rows back. Either the throw was a little off, and the kid completely missed the ball. It ricocheted right to me, ball #3. I was then faced with the choice of keeping the ball, or giving it to the kid. I decided to be charitable and glove flipped the ball to the kid, who thanked me.
The Reds then came out to hit. At the end of the Pirates portion of batting practice, a Pirate had thrown a ball into the crowd that someone misplayed. The ball was laying on the edge of the warning track. I didn’t even think about doing the glove trick, because it was directly in the sight line of a security guard.
I changed into my Reds gear, and stood in the front row directly in front of the ball, and waited. Jerry Hairston came over to left center field.
He walked over, and without hesitation flipped me ball #4.
Game: 8 Balls (4 hit, 4 thrown)
Season: 58 Balls (23 hit, 29 thrown, 6 device)
Games: 12 Games (10 with BP, 2 without)
Average: 4.83 Balls per Game
Career: 224 Balls
I kicked off this weekend with the last of my April games. I had wanted to snag 60 balls this month, but in retrospect, that’s probably unreachable.
I went to Cleveland with one goal: snag a Minnesota Twins’ HHH Metrodome final season ball. It was the first time I’d been back to Cleveland since August 2008.
Game: 6 Balls (2 hit, 4 thrown)
Season: 48 Balls (17 hit, 25 thrown, 6 device)
Games: 10 Games (8 with BP, 2 without)
Average: 4.80 Balls per Game
Career: 214 Balls
I was hoping to have a huge day today since the Penguins had a playoff game. Sure enough, batting practice was pretty empty, but I didn’t have a stand out day.
My wife and I arrive at the park at 4:05 PM and were second in line. I went into batting practice and looked for Easter Eggs, but there were none. There were a couple ushers standing around and they must’ve picked up anything that came out. I settled into my spot in left field and waited.
An unidentified Pirate hit a deep fly ball. He hit it right into the sun, but I was able to catch it on the fly… barely. It almost went over my head. Nonetheless, I had ball #1 of the day.
Nyjer Morgan was shagging balls in the outfield and I called his name, he looked at me and tossed a ball, but it was headed for some random guy with a Pantera hat on. The guy was holding a calendar and didn’t have a glove and looked out of place at batting practice. He reached for the ball and missed it. I picked the ball up on the deflection. It was ball #2. He kind of gave me a look like he expected me to give it to him, but I didn’t. Since I called for Nyjer to throw the ball, I felt like I earned it, plus he didn’t have a glove and wasn’t prepared.
The Pirates portion of batting practice ended and the Braves came out to hit. They weren’t hitting anything deep. To make matters worse, batting practice looked like this:
I had so much room to roam and chase down home runs, but none were coming. One finally did come out, but I misjudged the ball and it was over my head. If I had been one row deeper I would have caught the ball. I slammed my glove in disgust and muttered to myself.
Game: 3 Balls
Season: 20 Balls
Games: 5 Games (4 with batting practice, 1 without)
Average: 4.00 Balls per game
Career: 186 Balls
I was faced with the decision today of attending the Pirate game or skipping it. This is the weather forecast as of 1PM.
Batting practice would surely be canceled. I may get shut out for the first time since Sunday August 31st, 2008. I decided that since I am now in a competitive ballhawk league, that I had to go and at least try. I knew that my average balls per game would probably take a hit.
I went with my wife Holly and we arrived at the gates around 4:40 PM. The gates open during the week at 5 PM. Walking past the Stargell statue, I peered into the park and saw that sure enough, the tarp was covering the field. There was no batting practice today.
I entered the bleacher section at 5 PM and looked around for some Easter Eggs. There was nothing to be found, since it had been raining and drizzling all day long. Around 5:20, the Pirates pitchers came out to stretch. I followed a group of 6 other ballhawks up the escalator to go into the seating bowl to possibly catch an overthrow. Usually there are security guards that don’t permit entrance until 5:30, but there were none around. When we got to the front row right behind Matt Capps, Tyler Yates and company, a field security guard walked over and told us to go back to left field. Even though it was 5:24, he wouldn’t let us stay.
Meanwhile, the Astros pitchers came out to stretch. I decided that I might have a better chance getting a ball from them since there was a couple little kids and four high school kids watching the Pirates pitchers.
I decided to take the chance. I took off my Pirates sweatshirt exposing my black Astros shirt and donned my Houston hat and headed over to right field.
I lined myself up behind Russ Ortiz and Geoff Geary. I was the only one in the stands behind the Astros pitchers. I had 20 feet to my left and right without a soul in sight. There were 4 balls in play, as 8 pitchers were throwing. Jeff Fulchino finished his tosses and had a ball. I asked him for the ball and he made eye contact with me. He didn’t say anything, but went and talked to a fellow pitcher. A couple minutes later, Fulchino tossed me ball #1.
There were still 3 balls in play. Wesley Wright finished his tosses and gave his ball to a fan a little further down the line. It was a 10 year old kid wearing Pirate gear. Tim Byrdak was joking around and told the kid that he wasn’t done with the ball yet and to toss it back. The kid just stared at Byrdak confused and horrified. Byrdak urged him to toss the ball back. The kid then turned and ran away. It was rather amusing.
Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins finished their tossing next. I asked for the ball. Again, I was the only fan with Astros gear on, so Valverde looked at me and tossed me ball #2. There was one ball left and it was being used by Geoff Geary and Russ Ortiz. I snapped a picture on my cell phone.
The Pirates got some good relief work from their bullpen and ended up losing the game 4-1. Adam LaRoche accounted for the Pirates only run with a Home Run in the 9th inning. It was too little too late.
I tried to get a ball at the dugout after the game from an umpire and the Pirates pitchers, but failed to do so.
As I was ready to leave, I decided to walk around for a minute and collect a ticket stub or two. I notice in Section 124, about four rows back, a circular white object laying on the ground. Seriously? Could this be a ball? Since I waited for the bullpen coach to come in, it took some time and the stadium was basically vacant. I looked closer and sure enough, it was a major league baseball. How did this get here? Was it some little kid who didn’t really even care about it? Did someone catch it and it trickled out of their glove during the game? It was weird. I looked around and didn’t see anyone looking for a ball. There were only a half dozen fans left, waiting down at the dugout. So, I picked the ball up, making it ball #4 of the day. Usually, Easter Eggs that are found count as hit balls, but since there was no batting practice on this day, and it didn’t look like a game ball, I decided it was probably someone’s warm up ball. I’ll chalk it up under the thrown category.
I’m glad I went to the game despite the rain.
Here’s a look at today’s results: ( the media guide was free for being a season ticket holder. The bobblehead was won at a spin-a-wheel g
ame where they are giving away all of the left over promotions from 2008)
And a closer look at those Astros balls.
Game: 4 Balls (4 thrown)
Season: 17 Balls (7 hit, 8 thrown, 2 device)
Games: 4 Games (3 with BP, 1 without)
Average: 4.25 Balls per Game
Career: 183 Balls
Hit List: 183 ties me with former Pirate Chris Duffy for #3769 on the all time hit list.