I wasn’t planning on attending this game. I was expecting to drop Amy off at work, and then go home to package up all of the bobbleheads that I had sold. Making batting practice more unlikely was the fact that it started to rain at 10:30 AM, a half hour before the gates were to open.
I could see the tarp on the field from the center field (Stargell statue) gate. I thought about leaving, but I thought I noticed that the screens were out on the field in foul territory.
utside the stadium, there were plenty of festivities, including the March of Dimes finish line, right outside the left field gate.
When I entered the stadium, my first ball of the day came from Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton by the bullpen.
When Morton had finished throwing, I called out for his warm up ball. A few seconds later, he tossed a ball up, which I caught. A thirteen year old in front of me was none too pleased, but I hadn’t heard him ask for it. I was going to give it to him until his dad started b*******. He got a ball a minute later anyhow.
The whole stadium opened at 11:30AM, and there was still no action. The tarp had at least been taken off the field, so I walked around the lower level looking for easter eggs, but predictably, there were none.
Since I was having good luck with the glove trick, I invited Jim to glove trick a ball on the warning track that I could’ve had. I figured I’d repay the favor for him laying off on a Miguel Cabrera home run catch yesterday.
I made my way over to center field near the end of the Tigers BP and glove tricked a ball off of the warning track. Originally, the ball bounced on the warning track, and I misplayed it. The ball hit my glove and fell back onto the field. There was a little girl right next to me, so when I glove tricked the ball, I turned and handed it to her.
Batting practice ended at 12:15 PM, (The Tigers didn’t take a full BP, they only hit for about 30 minutes) so there was an hour and fifteen minutes until the game was to begin.
I returned to the game, but was met with bad luck. Garrett Jones tossed his warm up ball to me in the 4th inning, but this guy in the white shirt interfered. The ball was glanced by his arm, hit my glove, and bounced below where a random fan grabbed it.
Basically the same thing happened in the fifth inning, when McCutchen threw his warm up ball to me. I was awaiting the catch in the handicapped section in center field when a guy jumped out of his seat and intercepted it.
Game: 6 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 4 device)
Season: 156 balls (60 hit, 36 thrown, 37 device, 22 found)
Games: 25 games
Average: 6.24 balls per game
Career: 1,278 balls
We were back at Piratefest on Sunday for the third and final day of the three day weekend baseball event. The Pirates had sent me six tickets, so I sold two, used two on Friday, and saved the last two for today.
Before heading to Piratefest, I was treated to breakfast at a restaurant named DeLuca’s in the Strip District.
I had never been to DeLuca’s let alone the strip district, so this was a nice little adventure for me. DeLuca’s proclaims to have the ‘Best Breakfast in Town,’ and the large line that was waiting outside in the cold drizzle.
We waited for about twenty minutes before getting into the small, packed restaurant. One of the restaurant’s claim to fame is being featured on the Man vs Food series.
We had pancakes…
Chocolate strawberry pancakes for her:
And blueberry pancakes for me:
I also had a side of sweet sausage, which tasted much better than it looked.
The food was great, and it filled me up until 5 PM. I wasn’t crazy about the interior Steeler decorating, especially after being hassled at every corner by street vendors selling Steeler pennants and buttons. I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl being over so this town settles down.
When we got to the David L Lawrence Convention Center around 11:40, twenty minutes before the doors were to open, we were greeted by a monstrous line that snaked around and to the back of the convention center.
It took us about 10 minutes after the gates opened to finally get into Piratefest.
When we entered, we headed over to the MVP Zone to get autographs from Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf.
I had Ross sign my calendar since he signed a ball for me yesterday. Paul Maholm also signed a ball. Interestingly, he dropped the number 28 from his signature (the other 3 signatures on balls I have from Paul have a 28) – perhaps he expects to be traded in the coming months. He is in the final year of a contract, although the Pirates hold an option for 2012, which most certainly will be turned down since its for $9.75 million.
Later in the MVP Zone (which is for Season Ticket Holders only) we had Jose Tabata sign a baseball,
along with 1991 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek.
Drabek was probably my second favorite Pirate of the 1990-1992 teams, with Andy Van Slyke being the first.
The MVP Zone is one of the nice perks of being a season ticket holder. Season Ticket Holders can get autographs there without waiting an average of 90 minutes on the other side of the Convention Center. The same players come over to the MVP Zone throughout the day either before or after they are done signing for the general public.
Good (Season Ticket Holder autograph lines):
Bad (everyone else):
The other autograph that I got today was Andrew McCutchen. We were allowed two autographs per person, so I had him sign a baseball and a Canvas Photo Wrap that I had won earlier in the day.
We didn’t play many games because the lines were ridiculously long. I didn’t really see the point of standing in line for 30 minutes to spin a wheel and win some give away stuff that I already have at home.
We caught some of the entertainment at the Piratefest stage:
There was Deal or No Deal:
More Minute to Win It, this time with Paul Maholm:
and Family Feud with the “Maholm Family” pitted against the “Morton Family.”
It was Paul Maholm vs Charlie Morton, and each player had 3 other fans assigned to his ‘family.’ The questions were related to the Pirates or Pittsburgh, and season ticket holders were those surveyed to provide the results for the game.
Here’s a video of a round of it:
That was basically it for the day. Got a few autographs, walked around, played a couple games at the beginning of the day before the crowd swelled, and watched some games at the Piratefest stage.
The Pirates set an all time record for the Piratefest weekend, drawing 16,839 fans, which was an increase of 1,400 over last year. The thing is, this is my fifth year as a season ticket holder, and every other year, I only received two free tickets to Piratefest. This year, I was given six. I saw some fans giving away their passes at the door. Therefore, I believe that the numbers are ‘juiced’ by the flood of free tickets that were distributed to the fan base. Yes, there’s some reason to be excited, but a 105 loss team doesn’t just draw an all time record to its Fanfest. Does anyone expect the Pirates to even approach their 2001 attendance home figure of 33,000 per game? No.
The real test of how excited this town really is about Pirates baseball will be the home attendance. We’ll see how many folks show up. By the way, the Pirates raised ticket prices for the first time in nine years this week. Season Ticket and advance purchased tickets will stay the same, but tickets purchased on the day of the game will be about an average of $3 more.
I’m hoping that attendance stays low, at least for batting practice, so it makes collecting baseballs easier, but we’ll see.
Spring Training is just around the corner. Get ready.
Today would be my final game of the season at PNC Park.
After missing yesterday’s (Saturday’s) game due to rain, I decided that I had to make it to the park one last time, even though it was raining when I left my house.
When I arrived at the park, there was basically no one there at all. Many people stayed away early, which turned out to be a good thing.
Around 11:15, pitchers began to meander out of the Pirates dugout and head toward the bullpen to sit and await to rain to ease up.
I stood by the fence above the bullpen and hoped someone would begin to throw.
Eventually, Charlie Morton (hidden by the bullpen roof) started to throw with Luis Dorante, the Pirates bullpen coach. I watched them finish up at 11:29, one minute before the gate would open to allow me to get close enough to ask for a ball.
There were two pairs of Dodgers playing catch.
I noticed that Ramon Tronsoco didn’t have a partner. I held up my glove and asked him if he wanted to throw a little bit. He nodded and tossed me a ball. Wow. I was finally going to play catch with a major leaguer. In uniform.
We began to throw, and after about ten tosses, I handed my p
hone off to a random guy behind me to take some photos. He had been asking me questions like, “Do you play for the Pirates? Are you friends with him? How do you know him?”
He got the following photos of me:
When I got home, I checked out Youtube for #1 Joe Beimel fan TroyfromWV, sure enough, he had uploaded a partial video of me and Ramon throwing together. Click here–> VIDEO PROOF!
After we threw for awhile, Troncoso’s throwing partner finally emerged from the dugout, and Troncoso tossed me the ball and indicated that he was done. I had ball #5. What a way to get it! I thanked Troncoso, and gave one of my decoy balls to the daughter of the guy that snapped some pictures of me.
When the game began, center field was too crowded to have a great chance at toss up balls.
Plus, the usher told me I had to stay out because I didn’t have a ticket. He was nice about it, and told me there was a big issue on Saturday Night where someone was injured in a fight for a toss up ball. He said the man was going to sue the Pirates, and that outfield between inning toss ups would be discontinued after this year. I was hoping he wasn’t serious, but he seemed to be.
In the second inning, I went up on the right field wall, and got Garrett Jones to pick me out and throw me ball #6 – oh wait, he grossly underthrew me, and the ball hit some guy that was sitting down. The ball caromed off of him, and rolled behind his wife’s backside and sat on her seat. It took them about 10 seconds to find it – and I could’ve easily grabbed it, but it would’ve been too awkward. I watched them oodle over the ball they had just snagged by accident, much to my frustration.
I decided to quit ballhawking and went up to sit in my season ticket seats one last time. I hadn’t sat there much at all this year, but I felt like I needed to say goodbye.
Even though the seats are cheap, and offer no chance at getting a ball – I always liked to just sit and watch a game there. In my seats you’ve got a great view, and they are in the front row of the section.
In the 7th inning, I sat behind home plate,
in hopes of snagging some promotional items from Pirates announcer Steve Blass in the “7th inning throw down.” Blass threw out a bunch of left over giveaway hats, grocery bags, Pirate dolls, candy, etc.
I got my finger tip on a Pirates Alternate hat, but it was just out of my reach and floated down to a lady two rows below me. I didn’t come away empty handed – I caught a piece of Double Bubble bubble gum. Yay.
For the 8th inning, I snuck down and sat behind the Pirates dugout. The Pirates ended up scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to acheive a walk off win.
I was expecting the players to toss their hats and a few baseballs into the crowd as a thank you to the fans – they’ve done it the past three years on Fan Appreciation Day.
It didn’t happen. The players disappeared into the dugout, gave their jerseys to those fans whose seats had been chosen, and
disappeared for good. Nothing was thrown into the crowd. Very disappointing.
I stayed around until almost everyone was gone, and took one last look at PNC Park.
Was this my last game of 2009? Maybe…
Game: 5 balls (5 thrown)
Season: 405 balls (211 hit, 124 thrown, 70 device)
Games: 80 games (10 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.06 balls per game
Career: 571 balls
Streak: 95 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.