After a dismal two ball day yesterday, things got off to a much better start. I snagged two balls within the first fifteen seconds today. That’s right, it took a full BP to get just two yesterday.
Upon running in, there were several fans already in the stands for a season ticket holder batting practice viewing event. They were near the bullpen, so I ran towards the foul pole, where I found ball #1 in the third row back. Also, a home run landed near the foul pole as I entered the bleachers and was picked up by a Pirates season ticket representative. He tossed it to me for ball #2.
(By the way, the Pirates ran off the field at 5:05. Perhaps at 90 degrees it was too hot to take a full BP?)
By the way, the entire first group of Diamondbacks were ALL left handed, so there was virtually no chance of any batted balls landing in left field. Rather than go over and play the Riverwalk for deep home runs, I elected to stay in left field and hope for a toss up. It paid off as Josh Collmenter tossed me ball #4 of the day.
I had planned on running over to right field as four home runs landed there during the Diamondbacks first group, but I watched as the ushers systematically scanned each and every row and picked up all four. So, figuring that there wasn’t much to be found in right, I ran over to foul territory to see if a foul ball that had been hit earlier in batting practice was still there.
It paid off as I found ball #5 in the handicapped section in foul territory. As I was leaving to return to the right field bleachers, a batter hit a foul ball into the upper seats. I simply turned around to go claim it. I had seen where the ball landed, but I couldn’t find it. Two other ballhawks started to come over to look and claim it for themselves, so I pulled some trickery and bent down as if I had found it, and stood back up holding the previous ball that I had found. This bought me another minute or two, as the other ballhawks went back to their spots along front row in foul territory. Eventually, I found the ball, it had rolled the whole way down to row A in section 130. It was ball #6.
The entire batting practice there were three home runs to left field. That’s it. It didn’t help that the Diamondbacks were being frugal and were tossing up precious few baseballs. Nick Pelescak capped off batting practice by shouting at the Diamondbacks as they ran off the field, “You’re all a bunch of cheapskates!”
The D’Backs BP has been the worst I’ve seen this year. One more game with them this year on Thursday, and then the Mets come into town for 4. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season: 186 balls (71 hit, 42 thrown, 48 device, 25 found)
Games: 31 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,308 balls
Today was Amy and my 8 month anniversary, and we packed in a full day’s worth of activities. We started by going around to garage sales and buying lots of clothes for our daughter. There were some pretty nice things that we found that looked ‘like-new.’
Today was also Neil Walker bobblehead day, so a sellout crowd of 38,000 would be on hand. Therefore, it was important to get on the board early. When I ran into the left field bleachers, I found ball #1 laying in the front row in this area.
Nick had the lead, but we both took a wrong route to the ball. Since it wasn’t at the bottom of the rotunda, I figured it was on the rotunda. I raced up and was correct. It was sitting on the rotunda, waiting to be claimed. Amy got this shot of us returning from the chase.
My third ball of the day was a clean catch in the front row of section 134. I had to reach out over the wall and make the catch as there was some pressure put on me from the side. I reached out and swiped at the ball and luckily made the catch.
It was a particular sunny day, and I lost two balls in the sun. One would’ve been an easy grab, and it zipped by my head. The other I would’ve made on a cloudy day. That’s one of the negatives of PNC Park. Left field is the sun field, so folks in left get blinded by the sun, especially on fly balls.
Check out the crowd:
That’s the downfall of PNC Park’s bleachers. There’s not much room when it gets crowded. There’s about six rows in the bleachers, and they get packed, severaly limiting a ballhawk’s range.
I did get ball #4 with the glove trick in left field before heading over to center field.
The guy in the red shirt, who’s usually aggressive, backed off and let me make the catch. I appreciated it, as I probably would’ve missed it had he tried for it. It was a ball I had to reach high and to my left to catch, as it was slicing back towards right field.
My seventh and final ball came at the conclusion of BP. The Tigers left a ball on the warning track in left field, so I went over and glove tricked it for my seventh ball of the day.
After BP, I went to turn in 54 tickets for Neil Walker bobbleheads. I traded in a bunch of my season tickets so I could turn a profit on the bobbleheads. I made the mistake of pulling out the tickets and counting how many I had. As soon as I did, I was surrounded by people waving twenty dollar bills at me, offering to buy my tickets. The game was sold out, so there was nothing left at the box office. I relented and sold twenty of the tickets within 5 minutes. So, I went back to my car with a pocket overflowing with cash and 34 bobbleheads. Amy and I headed home to spend the rest of the evening baseball free.
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 3 device, 1 found)
Season: 150 balls (59 hit, 35 thrown, 33 device, 22 found)
Games: 24 games
Average: 6.25 balls per game
Career: 1,272 balls
Batting practice today was rough for me. The Tigers were in town for an interleague matchup, which would lead to larger crowds. During the Pirates batting practice, I ended up doing this for much of the time:
I would not catch a single batted ball or get any balls thrown to me from the Pirates pitchers.
I slowed down a bit after that, trying to be more careful, especially because Amy was at the game with me. She hates to see me get hurt, and I didn’t want to upset her.
I didn’t get a single ball during the Pirates batting practice, so I changed into my Tigers gear, hoping maybe to at least have a ball tossed to me.
However, luck continued to elude me. Here’s a home run ball that would be caught by a child in the front row.
It was my first ball of the day, and it was about 5:25PM. A few minutes later, the rest of the stadium would open, and I had been keeping tabs on a ball that was sliced into the seats down the left field line. The only problem was, there was a bunch of other folks waiting to get the green light to run up the stairs to the ball. The people I was up against had the advantage of running up escalators, while I chose to go with the steps in the middle, which meant I’d have to run twice as fast as them. I ended up being the first person to the top of the stairs to reach the main level, and raced down to the lower level, where I found ball #2 waiting for me.
I wouldn’t snag another ball for the rest of batting practice.
After batting practice ended, the Tigers left a ball on the warning track. They had run off the field, so I set up my glove trick:
Lowered it over the ball,
And pulled it in (after a couple readjustments with the rubber band)
Here are today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 3 balls (2 device, 1 found)
Season: 143 balls (56 hit, 35 thrown, 30 device, 21 found)
Games: 23 games
Average: 6.22 balls per game
Career: 1,265 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:
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
My day got off to a great start before the gates even opened. I spent 4:15-4:50 on the Riverwalk outside of the stadium. I did the same thing yesterday, but not even one ball came out.
Today, that would be different. I misplayed one ball that rather than knocking down with my body, I let hit the concrete to play it on a bounce. The ball took a gigantic hop and went right into the river.
The second ball I had a chance on, I made sure to knock the ball down with my body. It was another home run that ripped through a tree, hit me, and settled in the grass, where I smothered it. It was my first ball of the day. It all happened here.
A few minutes later, I cleanly snagged another home run ball on the fly as it one-bounced out of the stadium here:
When the gates opened, Ross Ohlendorf tossed me ball #3. Ross is probably the best BP shagger in the National League. He really hustles after everything.
My fourth and final ball of the Pirates BP was hit into the upper bleachers. I raced up and claimed it about six rows back.
When the Dodgers came out to hit, I was able to glove trick ball #5 here:
Then snagged a ground rule double here,
and was tipped off by the guy in the picture below about another glove trick opportunity, which I reeled in for ball #7.
I went over to right field at 5:30 to look for balls, but there were none. I looked down at section 139, and there was a ball literally at another ballhawk’s feet that he didn’t see. From the front row of the right field wall, it was unmistakeably white and round – an easter egg. I ran down and picked it up for ball #8. It was laying in a little bit of water here:
but it wasn’t completely soaked.
I stayed in center field as Andre Ethier was hitting. I was robbed twice, but managed to get my glove on one of his home runs that I momentarily dropped, but recovered to pick it up here:
I had to reach down and try and make a basket catch, and it hit the bulge of string that I keep in my glove and popped out. Luckily, no one else was in the area though to grab the misplayed ball.
I only needed one more ball for double digits. I still had twenty minutes of batting practice to get it, and Jay Gibbons, the Dodgers best BP hitter was up. I moved up to the steep Clemente wall, where Gibbons had routinely peppered hoome runs the past two days. He hit a home run to my right so I took off to make the catch. However, the right field wall has cupholders that are low to the ground.
I stumbled on one and went straight down, tumbling down into the row below.
I tried to use the seat below to break my fall, but my left arm basically went right through the folded up chair. I bashed the side of my lower left leg, hit the outer portion of my left bicep, and left thigh on the seats and arm rests. It hurt bad, but I popped right up as the ball was about ten feet away in the row I’d fallen into. However, some random guy hastily climbed over three rows and snatched it from me at the last second.
Minutes later the same damn thing happened again. Gibbons hit a home run, I tripped on a cupholder, and this time sort of rolled down into the second row. The ball actually tipped off my glove as I was falling. Again, a random gloveless fan picked it up.
Double digits just wasn’t to be.
I got shut out for the rest of batting practice. I decided that I needed to get 10, so rather than leaving after BP like I had originally planned. I stayed. I decided to get 10 out of the way before the game started, so I went to this building on top of the scoreboard area to claim an easter egg that had to have been thrown there by a player, because its too far to have been hit:
Well, the area was off limits, so I quickly went in, expecting to see a ladder or something on the other side. Instead, I saw this:
Bathrooms. Apparently there’s no possible way to get on top of that roof.
I waited around until the game started and was able to get Garrett Jones to toss me ball #10 after he warmed up before the second inning began.
I added ball #11 before the sixth began with Andrew McCutchen’s outfield warm up ball:
That was all for today. Double digits! A great day.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 11 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device, 1 found)
Season: 113 balls (43 hit, 30 thrown, 24 device, 15 found)
Games: 18 games
Average: 6.28 balls per game
Career: 1,235 balls
Let’s get right to it.
My first two balls of the day were off the bat of Chris Snyder. The first was a home run that landed in section 133 near the foul pole.
There was no one there, so I simply had to run over and pick it up.
Snyder hit another ball that bounced over the fence. Several fans reacted to slow and deflected the ball right to me here:
At 5:30, I ran into the center field seats and found ball #1 laying in the front row, it was in the middle section here:
He didn’t hit nearly as many home runs as yesterday, but he did hit one home run that I chased down as it hit a seat a section away from me, and a few rows back:
That was it for batting practice. It was really lame. The Dodgers again, are the worst batting practice team I’ve seen all year.
During the game, I snagged Andrew McCutchen’s warm up ball before the first inning began. I stood in the third row, in the exact spot where the threw it yesterday, and he delivered a perfect strike to me. It was my fifth ball of the day.
That was it for my snagging. I was really tired, so I sat for much of the game. The Pirates ended up losing, knocking them back to .500 on the season at 18-18.
Game: 5 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 102 balls (38 hit, 27 thrown, 22 device, 14 found)
Games: 17 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,224 balls