I decided to head to Cleveland after work today. Originally, I would’ve liked to have attended yesterday’s too, but I wasn’t feeling well and fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak was already in Cleveland and reported a rained out batting practice on Wednesday.
I left work and drove to Cleveland and didn’t get there until 4:50 PM. Batting practice had began at 4:30. When I arrived, I had a few bad breaks and didn’t snag anything for the first twenty minutes I was there. I didn’t even get to see the good Indians batters like Hafner, Thome, Santana or Sizemore. I was regretting even going. Why did I go? Well, I wanted to move up another spot on this list and make my 2011 season a top 5 season. By that I mean, the number of balls that I snagged would be fifth all time.
Last year I was the all time single season record holder with 544 before Zack Hample blew by me with a 30 stadium 130 game season.
Here’s the list:
My first ball of the day was a ball that bounced into the trees in Heritage Park. I ran over and found the ball waiting just under the wall, so I reached in and grabbed it before an usher came rushing down and started looking for it as well. I had already grabbed it, so I just left. Since when do ushers try to get balls out of the trees in Heritage Park?
My second ball of the day was a nice catch that took some effort. An Indians blasted a home run to my right. I ran up about seven rows and cut across into an empty row and caught it on the fly backhanded here:
The White Sox BP typically sucks in Cleveland because they don’t have too many good lefties, and all fans are confined to right field until 6PM on weekdays. Not a good combination. However, I had some more luck.
Ball #4 of the day was completely lucky and random. Will Ohman fielded a ball near the wall and flipped it up over his shoulder without looking. I was standing four rows deep right here:
And the ball was directly to me. I didn’t have to budge an inch. Later in BP, Ohman screamed at the crowd that he would get the balls on the field and keep them, and if they wanted a ball to catch a home run. There were dozens and dozens of kids screaming ‘HERE HERE HERE’ on every ball that was hit to right field. I can see why he was annoyed. Even more annoying, is that it pretty much ruined it for everyone. The White Sox pretty much completely stopped throwing balls into the crowd for the rest of BP.
At 6:00, I had thought about running over and getting a ball about 12 rows up in left field that all of the ushers had missed, but Nick Pelescak was going to be going for the same ball, so I decided to instead head into foul territory at 6.
There was some major competition there, as a big line of people, including several ballhawks rushed in to the seats. In my haste, I dropped my Cleveland Stick. I had a decided that I would run down and see if there’s any Easter Eggs, and then come back and grab it a minute later.
When I ran over I found ball #6. It wasn’t just any ball though… It was an Angels 50th Anniversary Commemorative Ball. Rare.
And weird, since neither of the teams had recently played the Angels. The White Sox played them last on August 24th.
I then went back to grab my Cleveland Stick but it was gone. Someone had stolen it. Or threw it away. It was a terrible loss. If you’re new to this blog, I use the Cleveland Stick to snag unreachable balls out of Heritage Park like this one:
Luckily today was my final game in Cleveland, so I’ll have a new device for next year.
After having no luck in left field, I made my way over to the White Sox dugout and waited for batting practice to be over. I usually never do this, but I couldn’t pass it up. Look how many White Sox fans were waiting to greet the team as they ran off the field:
As a result, I got third base coach to toss me ball #7. He’s about to duck into the dugout in the picture below (between the two fans):
After snagging my seventh ball, I left thereby closing the book on Cleveland for the 2011 season.
I made it home at exactly 9 PM and Amy and I watched the Season Premier of The Office.
Here’s today’s baseballs:
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found, 1 device)
Season: 409 balls (173 hit, 86 thrown, 87 device, 56 found)
Games: 75 games
Average: 5.45 per game
Career: 1,531 balls
It was a Saturday, so the gates open an extra half hour early. However, I wasn’t able to take advantage of it, as I didn’t get to snag a ball until 4:50. That was thrown by Alex Presley, pictured at right here:
My second ball of the day was a ground rule double that I snagged here:
A fan in the front row tried to knock it down, but they just slowed it down and it came right to me.
Ball #3 was a glove trick ball that I gave away to another ballhawk who hadn’t gotten one yet.
My fourth ball of the day was a clean catch of an Andrew McCutchen home run ball in section 136. I had to get up on the bleacher to make the catch.
When the Marlins came out, I changed into my Marlins gear and caught a John Buck home run on the fly.
My sixth ball of the day was retrieved using the Cleveland Stick. A ball had landed in the ivy on the ‘S’ in Pirates during the early portion of batting practice. As soon as the rest of the stadium opened, I ran over and knocked it out with the Cleveland stick, and reached in with my hand to pick it up. Pretty simple.
In the mean time, Burke Badenhop spotted me about eight rows back after I had snagged this ball and attempted to toss me a ball, but it ended up short. I could’ve still gotten it, but a younger ballhawk ran by and caught it two rows in front of me. Luckily, Badenhop had another ball in his back pocket that he tossed me for ball #7. This time his throw was right on the money.
My final ball of the day was a towering home run hit by Mike Cameron. I ran to my right, up some steps, and picked the only open row that was available to me and made the clean catch. I had to manuever amongst these stationary fans:
I ended up catching it in the eighth row behind the guy in the gray shirt.
After BP I left, as Amy and Olivia were at home waiting for me.
Game: 8 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 373 balls (158 hit, 79 thrown, 87 device, 49 found)
Games: 70 games
Career: 1,495 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 6
Needed to reach goal: 40 (6.7 per game)
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
Today kicked off a 10 game homestand at PNC Park.
When Nick Pelescak and I ran in at 5 PM, some ushers were coming out of the bleachers and said “There’s a bunch of balls in there.”
I found balls #1 and 2 in the left field bleachers. The first one was in the front row of Section 136 and the other one was about four rows back closer towards the foul pole.
Ball # was hit by Neil Walker. It was a home run that landed in the crosswalk area, bounced off the white facade of the upper bleachers,
and right into my glove in the third row in the lower bleachers. I heard Jeff Karstens murmur, “Got the rebound.”
Ball #4 and 5 were caught in this area, both off the bat of Lastings Milledge.
Game: 10 balls ( 3 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 4 found )
Season: 441 balls (224 hit, 96 thrown, 61 device, 60 found)
Balls in the month of August: 90
Games: 67 games
Average: 6.58 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,019 balls
Streak: 163 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I was back at Progressive Field today, hoping to snag my one thousandth career baseball.
I was planning on returning yesterday, but radar showed storms moving through Cleveland all afternoon, so I would wait until today for another shot at 1,000.
When I walked by a bar across the street,
pick them all up.
In left field, I would snag one more ball – thrown by Brad Bergesen:
He tossed the ball up and I had to lean out over the railing to just barely make the catch. When I caught it, I asked Brad if the ball was for me or the kid next to me, who’d also asked for one. Brad nodded toward the kid, so I turned and gave the ball away.
So, I’d ended the day with five balls snagged.
Here I am in the shadows by the bullpen with ball #1000:
Today’s baseballs: (4 pictured because one was given away)
Sweet spots: (#1,003 was given away)
Game: 5 balls (1 thrown, 4 device )
Season: 425 balls (217 hit, 95 thrown, 58 device, 55 found)
Games: 65 games
Average: 6.54 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,003 balls
Streak: 161 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The slumping Colorado Rockies were in town for the first game of a four game series.
They weren’t the only ones slumping.
I managed only one ball for the entire Pirates batting practice, thrown to me by Evan Meek. Evan, if you’re reading this – you’re the man.
I had plenty of opportunities, but the ball just wasn’t bouncing my way today.
That would change when the Rockies came out.
Game: 8 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 387 balls (197 hit, 86 thrown, 46 device, 49 found)
Games: 59 games
Average: 6.56 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 965 balls
Streak: 155 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.