Today was a Sunday, which has become the worst day to attend a baseball game at PNC. Fans aren’t allowed into the stadium until 11:30 AM, and even then, they must remain on the outer outfield concourse aka the Riverwalk until noon. No one can enter the seating bowl before noon.
I stood above the bullpen and watched as the Pirates pitchers warmed up. I watched as an overthrow sailed over Evan Meek’s head and into the seats. However, the ball didn’t last long, as an usher who was sitting in the upper lower seating bowl walked down and pocketed it.
Luckily, when Jason Grilli finished his warm up throws, he looked out at the fans behind the bullpen and made a subtle motion like he would throw the ball up. I raised my glove and then pointed back towards the concourse. There’s a ten foot chain link fence, so he obviously would have to loft it over that to get it to the fans.
I broke back behind the fence and flags and waved my arms. Grilli heaved a long toss towards the bullpen, but it fell short and landed in the bullpen. He luckily had another ball, and he put a little extra on it. It easily cleared the bullpen and all of the fans there, and landed in my glove on the fly as I was way behind everyone else.
At noon, when the gates opened to the main seating bowl, this was the view:
No batting practice. Not a good day.
All of the pitchers had already thrown, so there was no opportunities to get baseballs until the starting pitchers came out to warm up. I picked a spot near the bullpen and watched Erik Bedard warm up:
After he was done, I noticed that Cardinals coach Dyar Miller had a ball. I yelled, “Coach, could you toss that ball up?” He looked at me and threw up a wild overthrow. It ended up bouncing off the back wall, where I raced over and picked it up for ball #2:
I had hoped to get one more ball today to get #1600 out of the way, but it didn’t happen.
Rain would wash out batting practice today, making it a struggle to get baseballs.
However, sometimes in the hobby of ballhawking, you’ll have luck on your side. I had a lot of luck today. Upon entering, I went to the main seating bowl and found ball #1:
They were likely overthrows from the Pirates warm up session before the gates opened.
The Cardinals came out soon after and I was able to get JC Romero to toss me ball #4 when he was done:
And Fernando Salas threw me ball #5:
I decided to get out of the way so that fellow ballhawk Zac Weiss should get a ball or two. I went halfway up into the empty seats to sit down and number my baseballs.
Just when I sat down, about 20 some rows back, I noticed Lance Lynn had finished throwing, so I stood up and help up my glove. He fired a perfect strike at me for ball #6.
Moments later, Mark Rczepzynski randomly fired his ball into the empty seats, so I just had to walk over and pick it up for ball #7.
When Kyle McClellan finished his warm ups, rather than give in to the polite request from the two Cardinals fans for a ball, he turned and fired his warm up ball into the right field seats, which were off limits until 5:30. Since I couldn’t get over there, I went into the upper deck on a scouting mission so I could see down into the right field seats so that I could know exactly where the ball was in case someone else was also going for the same ball. Can you spot it?
At 5:30, I ran up to the exact spot where the ball was waiting for me and snapped a pic. It was ball #8:
At 5:35, I went into the upper deck and found a Mark Rzepczynski ball that he had randomly just thrown into the upper deck.
There was no BP, and yet after about an hour, I had already snagged 9 balls. There wasn’t much action for the next 90 minutes, so I took a pic of the field:
Took a pic of this fan’s Cardinals jersey:
And watched AJ Burnett warm up before his first Pirates start:
I sat for a few innings in right field, but couldn’t snag another baseball. After a few innings, I went home to my family and watched the rest on TV.
By the way, today was fittingly umbrella night.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 9 balls
Season: 53 balls
Career: 1,597 balls
The Pirates returned home to start a six game home stand. Looking at this stretch of 6 games, I expected to put up big numbers. First, all of the games except for Sunday would have 4:30 gate opening times, giving me more opportunities to snag baseballs. Second, the Penguins had a win or go home playoff game, and since seemingly everyone is a Penguins fan, most Pittsburghers were likely to attend that game or watch it on tv. Also, perennial top 3 mygameballs ballhawk Nick Pelescak will not be in attendance as he is attending a wedding out of the country. So, more BP, decreased competition = more balls. That wouldn’t be the case though.
Also, imagine the look on my face when I was driving to work Friday morning and checked the weather for this homestand.
What a rough break. Hopefully the patterns chance. I’m really looking forward to Monday and Tuesday…
Wait, they got worse, now Pittsburgh may get 6 inches of snow Monday.
So, today was important because it was likely the only BP I would get for the entire home stand. There’s no BP Sundays usually, Monday’s game will get snowed/rained out, forcing a double header on Tuesday, which would eliminate BP, and Wednesday is a day game, so likely no BP.
Anyway, this is what happened for the first half hour:
And don’t forget this:
Nothing happened! It was brutally slow. Andrew McCutchen and Rod Barajas, the two best righties for BP homers must’ve hit in the first group before the gates opened. I only had one chance for a home run, off the bat of Michael McKenry, but completely lost it in the sun and didn’t end up close to it. If you come to BP at PNC Park, bring your shades. I had glasses and they still didn’t help:
Bullpen coach Herbie Andrade must’ve felt bad for me, because he graciously threw me a ball as the Pirates ran off the field at the end of their BP at exactly 5:00.
I caught it here.
Then, there was a lull as the Cardinals didn’t start hitting until 5:15-5:20. When they did, I used the glove trick in left field to snag ball #2.
When the rest of the park opened up, I headed over to center field and cleanly caught a Carlos Beltran home run on the fly here:
And a few minutes later caught another home run on the fly in the same row. The only difference is that this time I had to jump to make the catch:
On a side note, most of the Cardinals pitchers were being complete a-holes. I think they like playing the ‘heel,’ or bad guy. Jaime Garcia for example, snagged a ball near the warning track and acted like he was going to toss it up. He went back and forth pointing at two sections in center field to elicit noise so he could decide where to throw the ball. After getting the crowd to be rather noisy he approvingly shook his head yes, then turned and fired the ball in towards the field. On my way back over to left field, I heard one of the ushers mutter, “What a jerk!”
I spent the last 15 minutes of BP in left field. Look how crowded it was at the very end of batting practice:
Anyway, we decided it was too hot for Olivia and left before the first pitch (78 degrees and sunny was the game time weather conditions). We did come away with a few nice shirts though:
Here’s today’s baseballs:
Game: 4 Balls
Season: 44 Balls
Lifetime: 1,588 Balls
There were two new bag checkers at the gate today and they made a huge fuss over the line. First, they made us all back up 15 feet, and then the gate supervisor in white and yellow started getting sarcastic with Ian and Nick because they weren’t backed up an additional foot beyond his arbitrary line.
Anyhow, I got lucky and found three balls in left field today upon running in, and then quickly caught two home runs on the fly. The first was running to my right here:
And the other home run was caught in the front row after I climbed over two bleachers here:
I looked up at the clock. It was 5:01. I have quickly snagged five balls within the first minute. Surely I would reach double digits today.
After a few minutes of inactivity when a lefty was in the cage, I took a few minutes to write the numbers on those five balls before they got all confused.
With only myself, Ian Weir and Nick Pelescak actively competing for balls, and another low crowd, this were looking up.
However, I wouldn’t snag another ball for over an hour.
That’s how bad Cardinals BP was.
Since the Cardinals were so stingy with tossing up baseballs yesterday, when the Pirates left the field, I didn’t even bother changing into my Cardinals shirt. I just threw on my Cardinals hat.
So, I made my way all over the place from 5:01-6:05 trying to snag balls. Center Field, Right Field, Left Field. I thought my streak of three games with at least 8 balls would be snapped. However, in the last group, I made a clean catch of a Tony Cruz home run here:
The tracked down another one of his home runs under neath the Rotunda for ball #7.
Finally, in his last round of cuts, I made yet another clean catch of yet another Tony Cruz home run ball for ball #8.
After batting practice, Amy, Olivia and I made our way over to the All You Can Eat Seats. I had never eaten there before, and since I was hungry I ate three hamburgers, a hot dog, and some popcorn before the game.
During the game we sat here:
But I didn’t come close to snagging anything else.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Oh, and after the game, my check engine light came on, putting in jeopardy my weekend trip unless I can find time to get it fixed between now and then.
Game: 8 balls (5 hit, 3 found)
Season: 398 balls (172 hit, 84 thrown, 87 device, 55 found)
Games: 73 games
Average: 5.45 per game
Career: 1,520 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 3 (maybe 4 if I do an away game this weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 15 (5.0 per game)
Amy pointed out that I forgot to mention that we attended a Renaissance Festival over the weekend. Here’s a picture from that.
Shooting arrows was the highlight because I was surprisingly good at it. Anyone, this really doesn’t tie in at all, unless I made some weird caption like, “Erik Jabs aims for 413 as the season winds down, to break his 2nd best single season mark.”
The Cardinals are in town now and have been really stingy this year at tossing up baseballs, so I was going to need some luck today.
Upon running in, I spotted a ball in the front row. I ran over to snag it when out of no where a ticket seller who works at the windows on the first base side of the Honus Wagner statue shot out of his chair in the handicapped seats and raced down and grabbed the ball. He literally snatched it as I was closing in and not but five feet away from grabbing it. Nick Pelescak was right there too and might have grabbed it also. We both gave him a look like, “Are you serious?” He said he was going to give it to a little kid (even though he had already been there since God knows when and had a whole bag full of baseballs that he had already picked up from the hour of batting practice when there were no fans in the stadium). Nick started saying some stuff to him, and I’ll try and get his name and picture tomorrow. Anyhow, that ball was kind of important because it would end up costing me my first double digit game since June.
Then I went on a hit-ball snagging rampage from the end of the Pirates BP through the Cardinals BP. Every ball I snagged the rest of the day was a batted ball.
I caught a Pirates home run as I walked up the bleachers one after the other and made a pretty difficult clean catch here:
When the Cardinals came out, I snagged two Matt Holliday home runs within 20 second of one another. They may have been back to back.
One was a home run that landed on a staircase and stayed on the steps. I scrambled up the steps and grabbed it with my bare hand as another ballhawk reached for it a split second late with his glove.
The next pitch a ball landed about twelve rows up into the upper bleachers. I raced up and snagged it as a few other ballhawks raced after it
My fifth ball of the day was a home run that I picked up after it bounced off a bleacher. A young ballhawk who was maybe 10 years old tried to rip it from my glove, so after I had possession of it I asked if he’d gotten a ball yet. Nick Pelescak standing nearby said, “Yeah he got one already,” so the ultra aggressive young fan just walked away. There was a lot of random non-regulars there getting lots of baseballs today.
Ball #6 was really ridiculously lucky. A deep home run landed in the wheel chair section and as I was drifting over, it hit something and took a soft ricochet right at me. I snagged it immediately in the air. That was truly lucky.
I was later told by Nick that ball #6 was hit by Albert Pujols.
After spending an unsuccessful round in right field for a group of solely left handed hitters, I made my way back to left field and immediately snagged a ground rule double near the bullpen:
Immediately, I thought it would be pretty cool to get one more ball. I had gotten 8 balls on Saturday and Sunday, and wanted to continue that streak to three games.
By the way, look how EMPTY it was at 6 o’clock!
Anyhhow, ball #8 happened when Tony Cruz launched a deep fly ball that sailed way over my head. Realizing it was headed toward the rotunda. I just turned and ran underneath the rotunda, and when it started bouncing around the concourse, I tracked it down for ball #8.
For good measure, Cruz lifted another home run at the very end of batting practice that I caught right behind this lady’s head.
Amy and I had club seats for today’s game, but I didn’t feel like staying, even though I was on 9 balls and only needed one more for double digits. I sold the seats after we left the park, and then we went and got dinner and I went to the gym. I felt it was a better usage of my time than running all over the ballpark trying for one more ball. Plus, we plan on staying at tomorrow’s game as we have tickets in a section that I’ve never sat in before…
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 9 balls (8 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 390 balls (167 hit, 84 thrown, 87 device, 52 found)
Games: 72 games
Average: 5.42 per game
Career: 1,512 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 4 (maybe 5 if I do an away game next weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 23 (5.75 per game)
On Monday, the ballhawks of PNC Park got groundscrewed. That’s right. It was perfect weather for batting practice, but due to a short and light shower at 4PM, the groundscrew decided to cancel batting practice so that they could essentially have a three hour break before they really had to do anything.
This was the seen from the bridge as Nick and I watched and waited, but never saw a cage.
So on Tuesday, I was hoping to get off to a good start on the longest homestand of the year. Since Pedro Alvarez was sent down today, there weren’t any balls that left the stadium out onto the riverwalk.
When the Cardinals came out, I was able to glove trick a ball that had rolled out of view just inside the bullpen door.
At 5:30, I ran into foul territory where I had kept tabs on a foul ball that was hit into the upper seating area above the cross aisle. I was clearly able to see it from the upper bleachers, making it an easy run and grab mission.
I didn’t get anything else until the end of batting practice, but noticed a toss up as the Cardinals ran off the field hit the right field seats and settle on the warning track in center field. Zac Weiss was perched above another ball on the warning track, and held the spot so I could glove trick that one as well.
I glove tricked the first ball on one attempt by Zac, the second one took much longer. The lacing in my glove is slowly falling apart, and its causing the glove trick to be much less effective. After about five minutes of trying, I finally reeled it in for ball #7, and gave it away to a group of kids. (I made them answer a trivia question to get the ball, since all four of them wanted it. One boy knew the answer to ‘Who wears #53 for the Pirates?’)
After that I left to go home and see Amy and Olivia, watch the movie the Source Code on Blu Ray, and walk to the local ice cream joint to have some ice cream. A great night!
Here’s the six balls that I kept:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 3 device, 3 found)
Season: 346 balls (142 hit, 73 thrown, 83 device, 48 found)
Games: 65 games
Career: 1,468 balls
Batting practice on a Sunday? It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally it happens.
My day began at 7:20 AM, as I woke up extra early so I could go to the gym before heading to the ballpark. I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time with Amy as soon as batting practice ended.
Our due date is fast approaching. For fun, we offered our guesses on when our baby would be born. I picked July 26. Amy picked July 30th. The baby is due August 9. Neither of us think we’ll make it that far as our baby is measuring up to be a big baby.
The Pirates came out and stretched, and at exactly 11:30, batting practice got underway.
My first ball came rather quickly – it was a clean catch of a homer caught here:
Realizing that there wouldn’t be many home runs hit, (yesterday there were 3) – I made my way over to foul territory in right field and lined myself up behind the Cardinals pitchers, who had come out to warm up. There was virtually no one else around, as everyone stayed in left field trying to catch batted balls.
The strategy paid off as Trever Miller tossed me ball #2 on his way into the dugout,
For the last group, I went back to left field where I offered to glove trick a ball for a young fan. I had the ball in my glove when Euclides Rojas foiled the attempt by throwing his glove at mine, jarring the ball loose.
Rojas marched over and grabbed the ball, then something really weird happened.
He flipped me the ball.
It was the first time Rojas had ever acknowledged me, let alone toss me a ball.
Anyhow, true to my promise, immediately I handed the ball away to the young fan.
Batting practice had finished at noon, so I left too to be with Amy.
Game: 4 balls (1 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 305 balls (131 hit, 67 thrown, 70 device, 37 found)
Games: 57 games
Career: 1,427 balls
Attendance : 35,402
Today was our last day in
We spent the first half of the day walking around, seeing the nice parts,
and the not so nice.
We spend an hour or so in Barnes and Noble to stay out of the heat. And then went to Best Buy where we messed around with the organ.
Unfortunately, the guitars were missing strings – I am much better at guitar than piano.
At 4PM we arrived at the park and were first in line, which resulted in me being first to the left field seats.
By the way, shortly before 4, we were allowed into the Ballpark Early to use the bathroom. I was tempted to stand on Eutaw Street and wait for home run balls, but no one was hitting yet, and I didn’t want to get into trouble so we exited the stadium again (we were told to anyway by the nice worker that let us in) and went and got in line.
Oh, and take notes PNC Park, the workers at Camden Yards are actually ready with the giveaway before the gates open.
Amy was behind me and took a few shots on her way over to the left field seats:
I should note that I didn’t find any balls in the seats. There were some folks that were guests of the ballpark that were just leaving the LF seats as I entered the seating bowl, so I assume they picked up any balls that may have been in there.
My first ball of the day was thrown to me by ex-Pirates pitcher Chris Jakubauskus.
My second ball of the day was a home run hit by Robert Andino. I caught it cleanly after running down the stairs a few rows and reaching down to my left to make the basket catch here:
The group featuring Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds came up and didn’t hit nearly as many home runs as yesterday, but there still were a few homers here and there. I caught a Mark Reynolds home run on the fly. The ball carried on me and I stepped over the seats to get a better angle on the ball and an extra six inches of height and inadvertintly robbed another ballhawk, while stepping on his foot. I felt a bit clumsy. I’m so used to hopping up on the bleachers and snagging balls. Not a big fan of the seats.
My fourth ball was a clean catch of a Tony Cruz home run somewhere in here:
Amy was taking some pics for me, but it was too dangerous to be too close, especially 8 months pregnant. She took cover near the left field foul pole in the shade.
It was JJ Hardy T-Shirt day at the stadium, so over 28,000 people showed up on a Thursday to take advantage of the promotion. Things got real crowded after 5:30.
So, I checked on Amy,
and then went over to center field, since there was a group with three Cardinals in it. Plus, as you can see, it was less crowded there, so I decided that was my the highest percentage area to get another ball or two.
I picked a row and waited. Can you find me?
The spot paid off as an unidentified Cardinals batter hit a ground rule double that I snagged here:
I went back to LF for Holliday and Berkman, but got shut out. It was just too crowded. I finished batting practice in right center field, and nothing happened. Batting practice then ended. Before leaving, I spotted something in the gap!
I ran up the stairs to Amy and my backpack to get the ‘Cleveland Stick.’
And proceeded to use it to fish out a brand new
JJ Hardy T-Shirt that someone dropped!
No one claimed it, so finders keepers.
We left right after batting practice and headed to Annapolis, one of Amy’s favorite childhood spots. We checked into our hotel, and then went down to the water.
It was peaceful there.
We sat on a dock and let our feet hang down and enjoyed our evening together.
Once the sun set, we went into town and bought ice cream cones.
I got mint chocolate chip.
Baltimore turned out to be a great two days, now on to my next game tomorrow…
Game: 5 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 264 balls (111 hit, 55 thrown, 61 device, 28 found)
Games: 45 games
Average: 5.87 balls per game
Career: 1,386 balls (I numbered all the balls wrong – off one. God. I’ll make my next one 1382, then skip ahead to 1388.)
Amy and I decided to head down to Baltimore for a couple games to see the Cardinals take on the Orioles. We checked into the hotel, and Amy rested at the hotel while I left to go to batting practice.
The first ball I got was an absolute bomb that hit at the back of the seats near the bullpens and bounced back towards the field where I caught it.
Ball #2 was hit by another Orioles batter towards the foul pole. I simply jogged over and picked it up easy.
My third ball was cheap, but it was still #3. It was a ball that was misplayed by another ballhawk and bounced into the row in front of him where I snagged it with my glove.
Ball #4 was a clean catch here:
I barely had to move. I’m not sure who hit any of the balls, but the first Orioles group was really good. I mean really good. I had snagged four balls from one group alone, but two other ballhawks had snagged five and I think six. Impressive. And they were all batted balls too.
The Orioles final group sucked, so I didn’t get my fifth ball until the Cardinals came out to hit. It was tossed to me by pitcher Trever Miller, who I remember was the one pitcher who tossed up baseballs at PNC Park in recent series.
I moved over to center field when I saw a home run land in the gap in center field. I was able to glove trick it for ball #6, but not without some difficulty. It took four tries, but I was able to reel it in.
My seventh ball was a ground rule double that I caught next to a mom. I immediately handed the ball over which she gave to her child. She may have been able to make the play, but she was gloveless, so who knows.
My eighth ball was a clean catch of a Colby Rasmus HR with some competition from behind here:
No clue who hit it.
We made our way to the inner harbor,
and took a few photos. One of the bonuses of ballhawking outside of Pittsburgh is that its like a mini-vacation. I go to BP for an hour, and then I get to spend the rest of the time with the love of my life. Can’t beat that!
We headed towards Barnes and Noble:
And saw the Hard Rock Cafe:
I ordered a California Club sandwich.
It was bad. I felt like I was eating a salad sandwich with chicken, there was one thin fillet. Not impressed.
While we were out, the citizens of Baltimore were extra friendly. We kept getting warm smiles every where we turned, then it dawned on me.
It was because of our baby.
We walked around a little more before heading back to our hotel. Baltimore isn’t as bad as the Wire portrays. At least not the few blocks we saw.
Here are today’s baseballs (only 7 pictured because 1 was given away):
Game: 8 balls (6 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 259 balls (107 hit, 54 thrown, 61 device, 28 found)
Games: 44 games
Average: 5.87 balls per game
Career: 1,381 balls
A powerful thunderstorm rolled through Pittsburgh around 4PM, knocking out power and backing up traffic at every intersection.
I knew there wouldn’t be batting practice, but I went anyway. Things had cleared up by 5PM and the sun was shining at least.
I thought I may get shut out, but managed to get a ball from Chris Carpenter as the Cardinals finished throwing.
He rolled three balls from right center field to the fans along the right field fence in foul territory. One ball was out of reach for everyone, so I went over and used my long arm to reach over and grab it just over the four foot fence down the right field foul line in right field.
Unfortunately, that would be the only ball that I got prior to the game. My newly minted girlfriend of one day Amy was working this game, so I decided to stick around for the game.
However, my luck changed for the better in the 2nd inning. John Bowker stepped up to the plate and hit a home run to right center field, right in the area where I was hanging out talking to fellow ballhawk Ian Weir.
I knew I had a chance to make the catch. However, at the last second, the ball started to die, and almost didn’t have enough carry to reach me. I had to reach over a handicapped railing and make a basket catch.
Once I did, I raised the ball in triumph.
Here’s the VIDEO of the catch.
Another cool fact is that the Bowker home run ball was Ball #1,111 of my career. That would be the last ball I’d get for the night, but what a snag!
Here it is:
Game: 2 balls ( 1 hit, 1 thrown )
Season: 533 balls (253 hit, 131 thrown, 72 device, 77 found)
Games: 84 games
Average: 6.35 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 6
Career: 1,111 balls
Streak: 180 cons
ecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls needed to break single season record: 11