I booked Amy and I tickets on megabus.com for a bus headed to Cleveland for the Pirates-Indians series. It cost me $3 to go there, and $5 for the return fare, since I booked it a couple weeks in advance. You can’t beat that.
This was my second game of the year at Progressive Field, which is way down from last year when I attended 19.
Upon entering the stadium and looking for baseballs, I found one in Heritage Park in center field. Unreachable with my arm, I used the ‘Cleveland stick’ to reach under the wall and snag this one.
My second ball of the day was a Travis Hafner home run that landed several rows behind me that I was able to grab before a couple of other fans.
Moments later, Hafner hit another home run that I snagged on the fly for ball #3.
A couple minutes after that, I noticed a ball land in the trees of Heritage Park. I ran over and was able to reach in and grab it without the use of any device.
In the meantime, there were a few balls in the bullpen. I ended up glove tricking one of them after at least 10 attempts at knocking the ball closer to the wall. Once the ball was close enough to the wall, I reeled it in for ball #5, and was given a round of applause by those fans who watched the whole ordeal.
When the Pirates came out to hit, one of the Buccos hit a home run that landed on the bullpen roof in center field.
I used the Cleveland stick – which reaches 6 feet (plus at least three feet of my arm length) to just barely reach it.
Less than a minute after snagging ball #6, Daniel McCutchen ran past while doing sprints and flipped a ball up into the stands, right to me. I didn’t even ask for it. Maybe it was my bright gold shirt. Regardless, it was my seventh of the day.
I finished batting practice in left field and was tossed #8 by Jeff Karstens. I had given up asking Jeff Karstens for balls in 2009, because he had completely ignored every request that I ever put in for a ball. I didn’t even ask for this particular ball. A batter hit it off the left field wall, Jeff ran over, picked it up, looked at me, and fired it right to me.
After batting practice, I was thrown ball #9 in the Pirates bullpen by bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade.
I left right after that, despite needing just one more for double digits. Amy was waiting in the hotel, and I wanted to go out to eat with her.
We went to East 4th street, where there are a few restaurants and was seemingly the only stretch of any street in Cleveland that wasn’t abandoned and boarded up.
We ate at Zocalo – a Mexican restaurant, and it was fantastic. The entrance was a little iffy, but everything else was first class.
After that, we walked back to the hotel room for a brief 15 minute pit stop, and then went back out to explore the city. We walked around for an hour or two, and watched the fireworks after the game from the rooftop on a parking garage downtown.
Those couple hours were by far my favorite of the entire weekend trip.
Game: 9 balls (3 hit, 3 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 227 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 37 games
Average: 6.14 balls per game
Career: 1,349 balls
However, we didn’t stop to look around, as we were on a schedule to get to Miller Park about an hour and a half before the gates opened. This would give us time to buy tickets, park, and familiarize ourselves with the exterior of the stadium, and find the correct gate to go into.
There wasn’t really anywhere to park around the stadium, but the stadium lots, so we parked for $10 and then walked about six minutes to the stadium. There’s a nature trail that runs along the stadium, and a bridge spans a stream on the way to Miller Park. We paused to get a quick photo.
You can see the large domed structure in the background, which of course is Miller Park. By the way, the weather in Milwaukee was absolutely miserable. It was 44 degrees with constant rain and drizzle. The biting wind made it feel like 37 degrees, so needless to say, we couldn’t do much outside during our two days in Milwaukee.
I was very disappointed to find out that the gates to Miller Park wouldn’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch. Even though this was a SATURDAY. The only way to see the Brewers take batting practice was to go into Friday’s restuarant, so that’s just what we did.
I went out to the Friday’s deck after a few minutes, which is just above the left field wall. You’ll also notice that there’s a gap between the outfield wall and the deck, creating a perfect place for baseballs to fall into.
So, I lowered my glove and glove tricked it for my first ball of the day.
I was wrong.
Rickie Weeks drilled a line drive home run that struck a table and stayed in the deck seating area, so I ran over and picked it up. It was ball #2.
Another ball would land in the deck, but bounce back onto the field. I really couldn’t run around in there with some people seated and eating.
while the pitchers threw in the outfield near the front row of Friday’s. Chris Resop recognized me and waved.
He shook his head and shouted, “Don’t you get enough at home?!”
The only other interaction I had with a Pirates player was with Evan Meek, who saw me and asked if I had family in Milwaukee. He also asked how long of a drive it was and who I came with. Here he is looking up at me.
Once the gates opened, I ran upstairs to try for a home run ball in left field. The Pirates were already batting, and the first group contained Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Doumit, and Jose Tabata. I figured they’d be able to reach the seats.
I made my way over to right field for the rest of the Pirates batting practice, since a majority of the team is left handed. When I entered the bleachers, there were already several dozen fans there, but they all overlooked a ball that was in the front row, again, hidden under a bleacher.
It was ball #4 on the day.
However, Euclides Rojas was in the bullpen unpacking gear, so I decided to wait. Unfortunately for me, he then made his way over and picked up all four. I politely asked for one, but despite being the only Pirates fan in right field, I was denied. Every time I’ve ever asked Rojas for a ball, I’ve been glared at. I miss old bullpen coach Luis Dorante.
He tossed many balls into the crowd, and was, as usual, going all out to catch every ball hit within 200 feet of him. He had to throw the balls back in left handed, since his shoulder is injured. His toss to me was also left handed. It was inaccurate, over my head and to my right, but I was able to track it down before other fans got it. “I got it Ross!” I called down. “Thank you!” He smiled and waved.
Near the end of batting practice, I glove tricked a ball in the Pirates bullpen. It was at least 20 feet below, so it was pretty noticeable to everyone in the stadium. The section below could be heard chanting “Go! Go! Go! Go!” as I slowly pulled my glove up with the ball tucked inside. BP ended right after I glove tricked the ball, so I put on my backpack and went to meet up with Amy.
We ended up sitting near the top of the stadium in the upper deck near the right field foul pole.
Game: 6 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 2 found)
Season: 137 balls (55 hit, 34 thrown, 27 device, 20 found)
Games: 21 games
Average: 6.52 balls per game
Career: 1,259 balls
Amy took tons of photos. Here’s the top three that have nothing to with my ballhawking, but were quality pics by my lovely fiancee:
#1 Daniel McCutchen has pitched really well this year and was recently promoted to set up man to Joel Hanrahan. The reason for his effectiveness? This wildly distracting face upon delivering the pitch:
Today was the make up game of Friday’s rained out contest between the Pirates and Nationals.
When the gates opened, I ran in and found my first ball of the day in the front row near the bullpen.
I only got one other ball during the Pirates portion and it was a home run ball that probably was catchable by myself or Nick, but we both missed it and it bounced back onto the field. Evan Meek picked it up and tossed it to me for ball #2.
I also glove tricked ball #4 in left field when the Nationals were hitting.
My fifth ball of the day was a home run hit by an unknown righty. I made the clean catch here:
I then struck up a conversation with ex-Pirate Tom Gorzelanny. I asked him if he still had all the Dave Matthews Band CDs that I sent him a few years back. He said yeah and then started talking to me about DMB for a bit.
During the conversation, a batter hit a line drive that bounced on the warning track. I snagged it as it skipped off the warning track just to my left without moving or breaking conversation with Gorzelanny.
I was planning on asking him for a ball, and that ground rule double had just ruined it.
Anyway, the Nationals weren’t taking much initiative in collecting the balls from the warning track, so I glove tricked ball #7 here in left field,
and glove tricked #8 in section 141.
I was then tipped off by ex-ballhawk Andrew McDonald about another ball, and glove tricked that one for #9.
My tenth ball of the day was thrown in right field by Doug Slaten, who seemingly hooked up every fan on the wall.
After a few missed opportunities for home runs, I tracked down a Matt Stairs home run for Ball #11 that landed in the second to last row on the wall.
That was all for batting practice.
During the game, I decided to sit in the club seats because there was virtually no one there. Many fans stayed home to watch the Penguins game.
Here’s a view of the field from the club seats:
I had a perfect chance at a foul ball. The place was virtually empty.
In the second inning, new Pirate Brandon Wood made his bucco debut.
He took the first two pitches he saw. On the third John Lannan offering, he took a rip. He fouled the pitch off into the second deck. I jumped out of my seat immediately and went running throw the row to try and make the catch.
Anyhow, it rained on and off throughout the rest of the night, so I spent some time between innings in the club level to stay dry.
Here are today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 12 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 5 device, 1 found)
Season: 77 balls (29 hit, 17 thrown, 21 device, 10 found)
Games: 11 games
Average: 7.00 balls per game
Career: 1,199 balls
2010 through 11 games: 77 balls (0 balls behind last year’s pace)