I took my first trip to Cleveland on Friday. Last year, I made 19 trips to Cleveland and was a 20 game season ticket holder. I didn’t renew my tickets and plan on making fewer trips this year, even though Progressive Field is one of my favorite stadiums to ballhawk in.
Amy was along with me for a weekend trip, that included a stop in Cleveland, and then two games at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Saturday and Sunday.
When we arrived, the rain had stopped, but when I peeked into the stadium, I saw the tarp out on the field, which is never a good sign – but it was negated by the fact that the cage was up, and there were several Indians out throwing. The only thing that the rain had ruined was early batting practice, meaning easter eggs would be unlikely.
Amy got in line at Gate C, and even though we arrived at 3:50, we were still first in line. I was hoping that maybe batting practice had started so there would be some balls in the seats, but it didn’t.
It ended up costing me a couple balls, because some balls landed in the seats, and I was more focused on finding balls than tracking them. It was an error, but luckily Travis Hafner was in the cage, and he was in fine form today.
Perez has thrown me more baseballs than any during batting practice. He’s probably THE most generous pitcher in terms of distributing souvenirs to fans that I’ve seen. Although Livan Hernandez of the Washington Nationals is a close second. Thanks Chris!
Another teenaged ballhawk had beaten me down there as he was in the section by the bullpen, but he couldn’t find the ball anywhere.
So even though the Indians BP was great, and I started out on fire, it all got evened out by that cold stretch, as I failed to snag another ball during the Indians portion of batting practice.
Luckily, the Seattle Mariners feature a ton of lefties, so my chances of getting a few more would be decent.
Ichiro was the first batter for the Mariners, and he didn’t disappoint. He put ball after ball into the seats.
It was an easy glove trick ball. All I’d have to do is fling my glove out a few feet, knock the ball closer to the wall, and it’d be mine. The only problem was that a security guard was thirty feet down the line, staring directly at the area where I’d have to do the glove trick.
I decided to go and just do it quickly. I went and snagged the ball, as planned, and the security supervisor marched down and demanded that I give the ball back. I did. But it wasn’t the same ball. It was a beat up decoy ball that Nick and I use to play catch with on the Roberto Clemente bridge. I kept ball #8 in my possession.
Back in right field, ball #10 was a clean catch that literally saved some lady’s face. I ran over and caught the ball on the run directly in front of an elderly woman who wasn’t paying attention at all. Amy didn’t get the picture because it was obstructed, but here I am labeling the ball.
Amy was sitting probably about twenty rows back taking pictures, when one of the lefties hit a bomb that landed a section over from her. There was no one in the vicinity but her, so as several other fans raced in to claim it. She got up and acted like she was going to go snag the ball. This caused the other fans to lay off, and gave me enough time to go get the ball. Amy knows that if she had picked it up, it wouldn’t have counted, so that’s why she left it there for me to get. She gets a huge assist on ball #11.
It was picked up in row R under a seat
It was a line drive home run that smacked an elderly man directly in the chest, knocking him down into his chair. I picked the ball up a row behind him and gave it to him. It would’ve been nice to have kept my thirteenth ball, but given the situation, I felt I had to give the ball up.
Amy and I left right after batting practice to head to Milwaukee.
Game: 13 balls (9 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 131 balls (54 hit, 33 thrown, 25 device, 18 found)
Games: 20 games
Average: 6.55 balls per game
Career: 1,253 balls
I decided to make a trip to Akron OH today. The reason was two fold. One, I found someone willing to part with 4th row Dave Matthews Band tickets. Two, the Altoona Curve (Pirates AA affiliate) were in Akron for a weekend series.
I began by visiting a hotel in Akron OH to buy the DMB tickets. I didn’t buy the tickets off just any DMB fan. I bought them off a professional softball player. Her name was Nicole Trimboli, and she is one of the stand outs for the Chicago Bandits pro softball team. They had a series against Akron’s pro softball team. If you’re not a softball fan, you’ve probably heard of one of her teammates – widely regarded as the most popular softball player of all time – Jennie Finch.
I didn’t meet Finch, but I met some of her teammates, one of whom I sold DMB tickets to.
Upon arriving at Canal Park, there was no batting practice, so I searched beyond the left field fence and found three baseballs.
One was a Major League Baseball, well used. (And no, it doesn’t count in my official collection – only balls at MLB games do – regular and post season).
I then watched the Altoona Curve warm up, and snapped some photos of the Pittsburgh Pirates top prospects.
Jose Tabata stretching:
Gorkys Hernandez chats with his girlfriend:
Pedro Alvarez signs a baseball for me. That’s right! I got him to sign an Arizona Fall League ball that I had with me.
During the game, we sat down the right field line, because all of the sections were basically empty. I was hoping to get a game ball. I wouldn’t have to wait long.
Santana dug into the box and lauched a deep fly ball to left field. It was a three run home run. The ball bounced off a concrete walkway behind the left field wall, took a huge hop into some trees and disappeared.
I didn’t wait. I left the stadium and ran the entire way to the area behind the left field wall to claim the ball. I looked in the trees and the area behind the wall. I didn’t see it. Then I checked the water.
There it was.
It was floating towards a 20 foot high water fall.
If I didn’t act fast, the ball was a goner. It was about 15-20 feet from the falls when I got to the scene. I grabbed onto the railing, laid flat on my stomach and reached as far down as I could into the canal. I was just barely able to grab the ball.
It was a perfect Eastern League ball, what I had been after all day.
It was also my first game home run ball of the season. Although it won’t count in my major league official stats, it’s still a keeper.
Hopefully Carlos Santana becomes a star for the Indians in a year or two.
I stayed outside the park for an inning and a half, hoping to get another homer. (If I wanted to, I could watch the entire game outside the park for free, and have almost a 100% chance of getting any home runs that came out.)
I re-entered the park, buying the cheapest ticket.
A few action shots:
Pedro Alvarez (doing a Derek Jeter’esque time out request)
Pedro would take the next pitch deep. The ball cleared both bullpens and hit just below the scoreboard in right center field. It had to be about 450 feet or more. It was a bomb.
Alvarez congratulated at home plate:
Pedro Alvarez now has 20 HR and 70 RBI’s this season.
The Pirates home run leader is Garett Jones with 10, and the RBI leader is Andy LaRoche with 37.
Needless to say, I can’t wait until Pedro Alvarez is on the big league club.
Here’s a look at today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots (I decided to number minor league baseballs in black ink. I do all baseballs obtained at MLB games in blue ink)
And by the way, since I mentioned Jennie Finch, how about a run down of the top 100 female athletes of all time? I got these from the bleacher report
100. Ashley Harkleroad, tennis
99. Christa Alves, surfer
98. Candace Parker, basketball
97. Anni Friesinger-Postma, skater
96. Sandra Gal, golf
95. Jeannette Lee,
94. Katarina Witt, skating
93. Kari Traa, skiing
92. Hope Solo, soccer
91. Biba Golic, ping pong
90. Mia St John, boxing
89. Gretchen Bleiler, snowboarding
88. Logan Tom, volleyball
87. Erin Phillips, basketball
86. Hannah Teter, snowboarding
85. Kimberly Lansing, poker
84. Missy Gibson, surfer
83. Ashley Constantine, surfer
82. Kiira Korpi
81. Kajsa Bergqvist, high jumper
80. Jennie Finch
79. Sasha Cohen, figure skater
78. Christina Vukicevic, hurdles
77. Amy Acuff, high jump
76. Lolo Jones, hurdles
75. Dallas Friday, wakeboarder
74. Gabrielle Reece
73. Vera Zvonareva, tennis
72. Jamie Sale, skater
71. Trish Stratus, WWE Wrestler
70. Clair Bidez, snowboarder
69. Victoria Azarenka, tennis
68. Allison Baver, speed skater
67. Alina Kabaeva, gymnast
66. Misty May, volleyball
65. Ana Paula Mancino, volleyball
64. Lacy Schnoor, freestyle skiier
63. Amanda Beard, swimmer
62. Lara Gut, skiier
61. Natalie Gulbis
60. Linn Haug, snowboarder
59. Milene Domingues, soccer
58. Juliana Veloso, swimmer
57. Victoria Vanucci, tennis
56. Daniela Hantuchova, tennis
55. Laisa Andriolo, soccer
54. Danica Patrick, NASCAR
53. Caroline Wozniacki, tennis
52. Tatiana Grigorieva, pole vaulter
51. Bianca Cruz, softball, and Jason Pridie’s girlfriend
50. Liv Boeree, poker
49. Tanith Belbin, ice dancer
48. Ashley Force Hood, NHRA Funny Car driver
47. Maria Verchenova
46. Claudia Toth, curling
45. Anna Rowson, golf
44. Stephanie Rice, swimming
43. Maria Kirilenko, tennis
42. Alona Bondarenko, tennis
41. Kristi Leskinen, freestyle skiier
40. Michelle Waterson, karate
39. Maria Sharapova, tennis
38. Ashley Massaro, pro wrestler
37. Jenn Brown, softball
36. Miesha Tate, MMA
35. Allison Stokke, pole vaulter
34. Torrie Wilson, WWE WCW Wrestler
33. Anna Kournikova, tennis
32. Gina Carano, MMA
31. Nastia Liukin
30. Zlata, gymnast
29. Blair O’Neal, golf
28. Jennifer Barretta, pool
27. Heather Mitts, soccer
26. Anastasia Luppova, billiards
25. Taira Turley, football
24. Tapai Szabina, handball
23. Kyra Gracie, Jiu-Jitsu and grappler
22. Bia Feres and Branca Feres, swimmers
21. Lindsey Vonn, skiier
20. Anastasia Ashley, surfer
19. Alex Morgan
18. Sophie Horn, golf
17. Brie Bella and Nikki Bella, wrestlers
16. Sara Galimberti, track
15. Maria Kanellis, WWE
14. Amanda Coetzer, tennis
13. Lokelani McMichael, surfer and triathlete
12. Anna Semenovich, ice dancer
11. Melanie Adams, Pole Vaulter
10. Tania Archer, sprinter
9. Stacy Keibler, WCW and WWE Wrestler
8. Ana Ivanovic, tennis
7. Lauryn Eagle, pro boxer
6. Kim Glass, volleyball
5. Leryn Franco, javelin
4. Shanelle Loraine, billiards
3. Malia Jones
2. Niki Gudex, cyclist
1. Alana Blanchard, surfer
Hopefully that makes this entry a little more interesting, since it was a minor league game I attended.
Minors Game: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown)
Minors Season: 6 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown)
Minors Career: 6 balls