It was a Friday at Progressive Field, and it was brutally cold, with temps in the mid 40’s. Originally, I had planned to go to Baltimore today and stay overnight and see the Athletics there on Friday and Saturday, but after some consultation with fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak, we decided to go to Cleveland instead as it was the cheaper option.
When the gates opened, I got on the board early thanks to Indians closer Chris Perez. As I was unsuccessfully looking for an easter egg, Perez fielded a ball in center field. I called out to him and he threw me the ball to put me on the board. It had a BP Gas stamp on it, meaning that I can redeem the ball for a gas card by having a representative cross out the stamp.
My second ball of the day was a home run that took a crazy bounce in the front row and shot right at me. It was over my head, so I stabbed at it with my glove and made the catch on the ricochet. It was a reflex type play.
Ball #3 was a home run to center field that bounced in the aisle and took a large hop towards the Progressive car. There wasn’t anyone else around so I scurried up the steps and picked it up.
My fourth ball came from Indians ace Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez finished a side session and walked out of the bullpen. Several people asked him for a ball, including myself, but he ignored everyone. Just as he was about to disappear out of view, he looked back. The other fans had turned their attention back to the field, but I hadn’t, so I held up my glove – and he tossed me his warm up ball for my fourth of the day.
Ball #5 was a ground rule double that I fielded in center field. I just shuffled through an open row and caught it as it bounced off of the warning track.
That was it for the Indians. When the Angels came out, I was expecting a lot of home run balls to be hit to center field, since they are a right handed heavy line up. That really wasn’t the case though. The Angels didn’t hit much of anything to center field that had home run distance.
As BP got underway, I tried to get a ball from a pitcher, but the last place Angels, who have been in turmoil were pretty unfriendly when it came to tossing up baseballs.
After a long drought, I caught a home run on the fly in center field off the bat of who I believe is Mark Trumbo after looking at his batting stance on mlbtv. I caught it here:
Ball #7 was a home run ball that landed in the trees in Heritage Park.
That was just before 6PM. At 6, the whole stadium opened, and I made my way over to left field. An unknown righty hit a home run to my right that I tried to catch, but couldn’t quite get to. In left field there are steep steps and bleachers all over the place, so its difficult to navigate quickly. The ball landed here:
Luckily, it rolled underneath the riser that the seats are on, so I just reached underneath and grabbed it.
I could tell that batting practice was about to end, so I hustled to the Angels dugout, the Angels finished before I got to the dugout, but I got there just in time to yell out ‘DINO!’ towards one of their coaches. It was Dino Ebel, their third base coach. He looked at me and smiled, and then turned away to put a few baseballs away. He then turned back and tossed me ball #9. Luckily I looked over the coaches list when I made my roster. Dino is unmistakeable because he’s rather gaunt. Seems like a cool guy though.
I only needed one more for double digits, but we didn’t hang around, we made the drive back to Pittsburgh with plans on heading to Baltimore the following day.
It was a Wednesday in Cleveland, and there were only 10,552 fans to attend this game. There were maybe 100 people there during batting practice. You’d think it would be a good day.
One from Chris Perez, who’s the friendliest pitcher in the major leagues:
One was a home run by Carlos Santana that was over my head and I nearly caught, except that it tipped off my glove as I jumped for it. No matter, there was no one else around, so I merely picked it up.
And a third ball was a ground rule double that settled in the second row that I beat out a gloveless fan for.
When the Royals came out, I expected to be able to catch a few homers from their lefties and get a few tossups since there was only one other fan in the park wearing Royals gear.
I went over to the bullpen and watched coach Chino Cadahia warm up with Steve Foster. When they were done, I asked Foster for the ball, but he ignored me and put the ball in the ballbag. Chino saw the snub and went to his bag and pulled out a baseball and tossed it to me.
When the Royals pitchers were done throwing, Jose Mijares tossed me ball #5.
The Royals lefties hit 2 home runs the entire BP. None came close to me. To make matters worse, it seemed that most Royals pitchers, except for Bruce Chen were in a terrible mood. The Royals you see, had lost 12 in a row heading into this game, so they weren’t feeling too generous.
By the way, this is what the stands looked like near the end of the Royals BP:
I figured that I could head over to left field or the dugout to try and get a ball, but the Royals cut their BP short, running off the field at 5:51. Fans are restricted to right field only until 6PM on weekdays. So, when the whole stadium opened, the Royals were long gone, and so were all the easter eggs thanks to Cleveland’s staff.
Five baseballs is alright, but I was hoping for a few more based on the low crowd. Oh well. This was game one of two in Cleveland this week…
In my original schedule of games that I planned on attending, I had penned in five consecutive games in Cleveland this week, Tuesday through Saturday. However, with a new baby and new house, I was only able to make one game. I chose Friday, simply because the Twins have a bevy of left handed hitters, and the rest of the stadium opens at 5:30, thereby thinning out the crowd in right field a half hour earlier than during the week.
I had some issues on the way to Cleveland, as my car overheated (see the gauge up at the H?) and I had to stop and get coolant at a WalMart.
Therefore, I wasn’t first in line, I was ninth. To make matters worse, at 4:30, when the gates were to open – the supervisor realized that he didn’t have the scanners for the tickets. This caused a seven minute delay, meaning I would miss most of the Indians first, and best hitting group.
When the gates did open, the nine people in front of me (five of which had gloves) dilly-dallied getting batting practice T-Shirts – which are given away to the first 100 fans each day. This provided me an opportunity to run around them and be the first one to enter the seating area.
I immediately found two balls in the front row in right field. The first of which had a BP stamp on it.
While standing in line I overheard an Indians fan talking about the BP stamped balls and saying that they could be turned in for gift cards or something. After BP was over, I found THIS article with information about the BP balls, but it was pretty vague, so I’m still wondering what to do when the green stamped balls. Any help? Anyone?
There were a few people running around looking for baseballs, so I ran over to Heritage Park with another ballhawk on my tail and spotted ball #3 within reach just under the wall that separates the Heritage Park monuments from the trees. I reached in and grabbed it without having time to snap a picture.
I returned to the seats to play for home run balls, but not for long, as Travis Hafner blasted one into the trees in Heritage Park. I ran back over and used the Cleveland stick to snag that one.
When the first group wrapped things up around 4:45, I checked the bullpens for baseballs and noticed a real easy one in the visitors bullpen. I glove tricked that ball for ball #5,
and a few minutes later got Chris Perez to toss me ball #6 in center field.
I had only been there about twenty minutes to that point and had already snagged six baseballs. My goal coming into the game was nine, which would’ve given me 250 career balls at Progressive Field, but things slowed way down after that.
The Indians BP sucked the rest of the way, and the Twins had only really one decent group. It was their second group, which featured Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, and Jason Kubel. Those guys wore out the two sections closest to the visitors bullpen with baseballs.
Unfortunately, I was only able to snag one on the fly – a clean catch of a Thome home run for ball #7. I had a lot of close calls, so I headed over to left field for the last group, but failed to snag anything.
I also tried the dugout after batting practice, but all of the balls that were tossed into the crowds went to kids.
So, I went home – and a two hour and 15 minute trip ended up taking about three and a half? Why? Well, because my car overheated three times.
It’s not supposed to look like that under the hood:
Coolant was spraying out somewhere, and I have an obvious radiator problem. The third time I stopped I basically broke down, as my car started clunking and smoking.
After letting it sit for awhile and adding more coolant and water to the radiator, I was able to make it home, but just barely.
I have an appointment to take my car into the shop on Monday, which means that I won’t be able to make batting practice unless I can get a ride. So, are there any other ballhawks that would be interested in giving me a ride to/from batting practice? I’ll pay you. $20. That’s like a half tank of gas. Otherwise, plan B would be to bike 14 miles to PNC Park, which no doubt would suck. Plan C would be to take a bus, but the closest bus stop is a half hour walk away, and I’ve never, ever taken a public bus before.
Anyhow, here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 3 found)
Season: 339 balls (141 hit, 73 thrown, 80 device, 45 found)
Games: 64 games
Career: 1,461 balls
Amy and I checked out of the hotel around 11:30, and met up with Nick, who had gone out for breakfast. We had five hours to kill before the gates of Progressive Field would open at 4:30, so we walked around Cleveland.
I originally wanted to find a park so I could sit down and read the paper and get out of the sun for a bit. So, we began walking toward Settler’s Landing Park, which I saw on a map on my Iphone. It looked like it was on a little river, which turned out to be a canal. I thought there would be some trees, picnic tables and benches.
I was wrong. We were greeted by a hulking, rusting bridge that looked like it had been swept up by a tornado and driven into the ground vertically. It was such an eyesore.
I guess decades ago it was a drawbridge from a rail line which obviously no longer exists.
We walked around the park, and found nothing but homeless people, and giant sized mushrooms.
After a couple photos of the underside of Cleveland,
we headed toward lake Erie, and walked around the Cleveland Browns Football stadium.
Nick then headed to get lunch and to the ballpark, while Amy and I explored the perimeter of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
and visited the Cleveland Science Center, where we grabbed a bite to eat at a Pizza Hut express, and brushed up on our periodic table of elements. Can you name all of them in the photo?
When it came time to enter the stadium, things got off to a tough start. I only got one ball from the Indians. Chris Perez threw a ball toward a couple of fans in the front row, but they interfered with each other and both missed it. You’ll see me standing there, several rows back.
The ball bounced on the concrete and ended up maybe ten rows back, where I grabbed it to get on the board:
The Indians finished hitting at 5:05. When the Pirates came out, the bad luck continued, and I still only had one baseball when 5:30 rolled around and I headed to left field:
Over in left field, my luck changed as Dusty Brown tossed me ball #2 of the day.
I was hoping that my Pirates gear would make me stand out over the other fans.
I headed back over to center field for the Pirates second group, which featured several lefties.
While there, I caught a Lyle Overbay home run on the fly. It was a full extension leaping catch in this area.
The next batter, Garrett Jones, hit a home run that I caught the next section over, also on the fly for ball #4.
I headed back over to left field for the final group, where Jose Tabata tossed me my fifth ball of the day. He’s on the right, talking with Jose Veras:
I finished batting practice in left field, and ended up with five baseballs on the day.
After batting practice Amy and I spun the Prize Wheel. She won a Duncan Donuts buy one get one free iced coffee coupon, and I won a free drink from Circle K stores. Both garbage prizes. Blah.
After that, we got ice cream cones as we made our way to our seats in the upper deck.
It was a losing battle against the ice cream, which melted faster than we could eat it. Amy’s hands were a mess.
After running to the bathroom to get wet paper towels for us to clean up, it was time for the first pitch.
Our seats were in Section 556, Row X, which was the very last row in the upper deck, and they were great. There was a strong breeze the entire time we were there, and it really kept us cool.
I wish we could’ve stayed for the entire game, but we had to leave around 7:40 to walk back to the bus stop to catch our bus headed back to Pittsburgh.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 232 balls (89 hit, 52 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 38 games
Average: 6.11 balls per game
Career: 1,354 balls
I knew coming into today that it would be my final game for the month of August. To motivate myself to do well in August, I decided that I would try to break the one month record for most balls snagged in one month. That record was 138 balls, snagged by Zack Hample in August of 2008.
Coming into today I needed to snag three baseballs to break that record. I made the trip to Progressive Field solo, so I don’t have any great pictures of my performance, but I’ll do my best to illustrate the day.
I was probably about the seventh person in line. My motivation factor has been declining throughout the season, so I wasn’t there hours before the gates opened to be first in line. I didn’t even look to see if any of the other teams had taken batting practice.
Upon entering, apparently they did take batting practice because there were seven balls in the seats. I was able to get two of them in the front row in right center field. They were within a few feet of each other. Those two balls tied the one month record. I just needed one more.
It would come from Chris Perez.
Perez whistled and threw a ball in my direction. There were some other folks near me, so I’m not sure exactly who the intended target was, but it ended up landing about seven or eight rows back in a completely empty area. The ball must’ve hit an armrest on a chair because it took a fortuitous hop and landed in my row at my feet. That was ball #3 of the month, #139 of the month of August, and the record breaker.
I relaxed a bit and wasn’t being real aggressive running after baseballs, despite the crowd looking like this as the Indians wrapped up their BP.
but I only spin PNC Park’s prize wheel under the left field bleachers.
I left, taking home seven baseballs, which brought my total to the month to 143.
Here’s a recap of my busy month of August. Click on any of the below links for a recap:
7- 8/28/10 Progressive Field
3 – 8/25/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/24/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/23/10 PNC Park
1 – 8/22/10 PNC Park
5 – 8/21/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/20/10 PNC Park
4 – 8/19/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/18/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/17/10 PNC Park
10- 8/16/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/13/10 Progressive Field
5 – 8/12/10 Progressive Field
4 – 8/10/10 Progressive Field
8 – 8/9/10 Camden Yards
5 – 8/8/10 PNC Park
10- 8/7/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/6/10 PNC Park
8 – 8/5/10 PNC Park
5 – 8/4/10 Camden Yards
10- 8/3/10 PNC Park
13- 8/2/10 PNC Park
Total: 143 balls in 22 games = 6.5 per game
Game: 7 balls ( 1 hit, 3 thrown, 3 found )
Season: 494 balls (240 hit, 113 thrown, 72 device, 69 found)
Games: 77 games
Average: 6.42 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,072 balls
Streak: 173 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls in the month of August: 143 (new record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 50
I started the day just six balls away from 1,000.
I was happy to see that the Indians were taking early batting practice when I arrived and looked through the left field gate:
And they were left handed.
Game: 4 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 420 balls (217 hit, 94 thrown, 54 device, 55 found)
Games: 64 games
Average: 6.56 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 998 balls
Streak: 160 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
After getting a favorable report from Nick Pelescak about Wednesday’s batting practice, I decided to make a third trip to Cleveland. The Indians decided to open the entire outfield rather than just the right field seats on Wednesday, and they did the same thing today.
I began the day in left field and got ball #1 from Shelley Duncan on the left field wall.
Game: 4 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 351 balls (178 hit, 78 thrown, 42 device, 44 found)
Games: 55 games
Average: 6.38 bal
ls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 929 balls
Streak: 151 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.