Today got off to a great start.
I got to the stadium around 4:25 PM or so and went down to the Riverwalk. Look what was waiting for me.
While there, a ball bounced out that the youngest of us grabbed, and another one bounced out that I completely misplayed. I notice a high fly ball that looked like it had a chance. I ran up to the wall, because it looked like it might just barely clear the wall. It did, after bouncing at least twice in the stadium. When the ball reappeared into my field of sight, I was to far to the left, and totally misplayed it. I tried to dive for it, but missed the ball, and one of the ‘new’ ballhawks grabbed it.
The rest of the time we spent staring at the sky, but nothing else came out.
When the gates opened, I ran in and found ball #2 laying on the cross aisle by the handicapped seats in left field. A food service employee actually pointed it out to me. He saw me sprinting, assumed I was looking for baseballs, and said, “There’s one right there.”
My third ball was hit by Steve Pearce. It was a ball that landed in section 133 and it rolled down the stairs under the bleachers and I just waited for it and picked it up.
Game: 6 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season: 97 balls (35 hit, 26 thrown, 22 device, 13 found)
Games: 16 games
Average: 6.06 balls per game
Career: 1,219 balls
Today was Mother’s Day, and my mother-to-be fiancee Amy had to work this game, so I was there too. Luckily, even through it was a day game following a night game, there was a full batting practice.
Upon entering the stadium, I snagged my first ball of the day on the Riverwalk, or outfield concourse. Fans can’t enter the stadium until 11:30, they can only access the Riverwalk, which is the area behind the right field wall. It’s kind of dumb to open at 11 AM, and just make everyone stay out there, but whatever.
Chris Snyder threw me my first ball of the day over the iron gate. He’s on the left in the picture below, talking to Lyle Overbay.
I called out for a ball from Neil Walker
but so did this guy:
(I didn’t realize we were at a Steeler game…)
Anyway, I snagged the ball over him, and he wasn’t too happy. He started boasting about how he ‘can jump’ because he ‘plays basketball,’ and the next ball thrown out, he was getting.
I didn’t wait around to see, as it was 11:30, and I ran into the left field bleachers. There, I found ball #3 by the bullpen, and continued my search into foul territory.
There were no balls there, but a cool groundscrew member tossed me a ball that was laying in front of the tarp.
My fifth ball of the day came from Evan Meek. He handed me a ball after we had a nice five minute conversation about everything from Amy, my upcoming baby, Mother’s Day, his recovery, etc.
I only snapped a picture as they ran off the field.
The Astros then came out, and Dave Clark started hitting balls to the relief pitchers, encouraging them to rob the home runs, or injury themselves and end their careers. Just ask Ruben Niebla.
It worked out though, as Clark over hit a ball into the stands that I snagged off a bleacher in this area.
My seventh ball was a Hunter Pence home run catch on the fly caught on the far end of the section by the handicapped seats.
I caught it while running, and spun around after making the catch doing a 360 spin. One of my better catches this year.
Ball #8 of the day was thrown to me by Jose Tabata in the 8th inning. I snagged it here.
I had to run down a few steps to snag it from other fans who were reaching from it, but I’m pretty sure it was to me, just under thrown. It was directly in the middle of the aisle. Luckily, no one batted it away from me.
After the game, I took Amy out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Old Mexico located in Washinton PA.
Here are today’s eight baseballs:
Game: 8 balls (2 hit, 5 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 91 balls (33 hit, 25 thrown, 21 device, 12 found)
Games: 15 games
Average: 6.07 balls per game
Career: 1,213 balls
There is a guide to the colors hanging above the paint. The shade on
the left is one coat, and the shade on the right of each color is three
Amy and I chose a piggy bank to make for our daughter, due in early August.
Amy and I painted the pig together. She pained the body of the pig.
And I worked on the front.
After we got the pig just like we wanted it, I detailed in purple our daughter’s name on one side of the piggy bank.
This was the end result:
On the other side I wrote her year of birth, 2011.
And here’s the face I painted:
It’s going to be fired in a kiln and we’ll pick it up next week!
After that it was off to PNC Park. It began raining at 3:50. It never rained more than a drizzle, and it drizzled for about 10 minutes. This was just enough for the PNC Park groundscrew to decide to cancel batting practice for the day.
To pass the time, I played catch with Nick Pelescak and Zac Weiss on the bridge.
Always a good time.
Of course, since there was no batting practice going on, there wasn’t much to do, so I went over behind the Astros pitchers when they came out. On my way over, I found my first ball of the day in the seats along the right field foul line.
It was likely left over from the Pirates batting practice, because they had been hitting before the light drizzle started.
Lopez was confused by the string, so I just told him I use it for extra padding. Thanks to Nick Pelescak for the picture.
Later, when the Astros were done throwing, Lopez tossed me his warm up ball, my second one of the day.
Afterwards, I walked around for a bit.
There ended up being 32,000 fans at this game, so there wasn’t any chance for toss up balls from the outfielders, so I ended with two balls.
Game: 2 balls (1 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 83 balls (31 hit, 20 thrown, 21 device, 11 found)
Games: 14 games
Average: 5.93 balls per game
Career: 1,205 balls
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)
Today was a Saturday game, so gates opened at 4:30 rather than 5:00. I was probably fourth in line or so. Usually Nick and I play catch on the bridge, but it wasn’t closed off, so I stood and watched two older ballhawks argue about who loves baseball more.
Of course, there would be a threat of rain today, as a cold front passed by dangerously close to Pittsburgh, bringing storms just south of the city. The wind was howling out to left field, which would hopefully benefit me by pushing fly balls out of the park.
Amy left before the gates opened to go to work on the inside of the stadium, but she took some cool pics. This is probably my favorite:
When the stadium opened, I saw a few balls in left field on the foul line and went over to grab them.
When I got to the spot, there were three balls there. One was up against the fence, one was about six feet out, and one was only gettable using the glove trick. Once I got into the seating area, I noticed Nick running right behind me, and he grabbed the one up against the fencing before I could get to it. I was able to reach the one six feet out by leaning out over the fence and grabbing it with my glove. I let the glove trick ball be, as I don’t like using the glove trick while the Pirates are batting.
Balls #3 and #4 were glove tricked off of the left field warning track.
My fifth ball of the day was a home run hit by a Nationals batter. I was starting to get blocked off by fans, so I took the open row five rows back as I tracked the ball. It turned out that it was the perfect row and I caught the ball on the fly.
Ball #6 was a home run that sailed over my head, hit off the facade of the general admission bleachers and carried back to the lower bleachers. I out jumped another ballhawk and snagged the ball on the rebound.
My seventh ball of the day was caught on the fly off the bat of Rick Ankiel in the third row in center field. This was the view.
Ankiel lofted another fly ball two pitches later than I flat out missed. It tipped off of my glove. It was my worst error this year.
At 5:51, the Nationals ran off the field.
The was some light rain that was to arrive around 7PM, so the grounds crew wanted to make sure it had over an hour to put the tarp on the field. It wouldn’t even start drizzling until game time. That’s our grounds crew for you though. It cost us about 25 minutes of batting practice.
The game was delayed an hour and eleven minutes by “rain.”
It actually was barely raining. It was a little mist that terrified the grounds crew. You can tell it was barely raining in the photo above by the amount of fans seated in the outfield sections. If it was raining, they wouldn’t be there.
What a frustrating day. I missed at least five balls including a game home run. This was by far the worst ballhawking day of the year for me.
Here are today’s baseballs:
By the way, I injured myself after batting practice. I had a huge bag and I filled it with 59 Andrew McCutchen Action Figurines, 59 First Pitch Magazines, and 59 Scratch and Win Cards.
The bag was filled to the brim, so I had to carry it in front of me almost a mile to my car. I couldn’t sling it over my shoulder. Anyway, I ended up hurting my back, and having back spasms the rest of the night. I couldn’t even run or jog.
The weight of the bag was about sixty pounds. Carrying it out in front of me with my arms straight forward was definitely a work out.
Game: 7 balls (4 hit, 2 device, 1 found)
Season: 61 balls (25 hit, 11 thrown, 16 device, 9 found)
Games: 9 games
Average: 6.78 balls per game
Career: 1,183 balls
Unfortunately, I lost half of my pictures from the beginning of batting practice due to a malfunction of my camera. I must’ve left it on in my pocket, and when I went to take a picture half way through batting practice, it was in Chinese. The format option must’ve been pressed, and everything got erased from my camera.
So, ball #1 was a home run hit by Ryan Braun to the handicapped seats in left field. I jumped over a railing and picked it up for my first ball of the day.
My second ball was snagged in the ivy in center field.
Ryan Braun hit it there about 5:20, and I kept my eye on it the whole time, thinking it might be reachable. It was, and at 5:30 when the rest of the stadium opened, I ran over and grabbed it.
My third ball was pointed out to me by one of the ushers in center field. Both ushers in center field are really cool guys.
Ball #4 was fielded off the bat of Craig Counsell. I decided to head over to foul territory for a bit as there were three weak left handers up, and there was no screen protecting third base. I figured that they would try to go the other way a few times. The strategy paid off, as Counsell sliced a grounder right at me.
Ball #5 was a ground rule double off the bat of Wil Nieves. I chased it down and grabbed it with my barehand as the ball was rolling all over the place under the bleachers:
That was it for batting practice. Five baseballs. It was pretty disappointing, but the Brewers were focusing on a opposite field approach, perhaps expecting Paul Maholm to work them outside all night.
As for the game itself, I wandered around and took a picture from the upper deck during pregame.
Then I sat in the club section for a couple innings waiting for a foul ball that wouldn’t come.
I then returned to the outfield areas hoping to snag a warm up ball.
An inning later, I snagged Jose Tabata’s 8th inning warm up ball for ball #7.
The ball was bobbled by these college aged kids in the front row.
I seized the opportunity by snatching it with my glove as it was being dropped by one of them.
Season: 54 balls (21 hit, 11 thrown, 14 device, 8 found)
Games: 8 games
Average: 6.75 balls per game
Career: 1,176 balls
Some of you have come across my blog today from the sensational youtube video that I took. If you’re looking for that game entry, click this LINK.
I uploaded that video last night before I went to bed, thinking that some of the regulars from my blog would get a kick out of it. When I woke up in the morning, the video had 533 views. I then left for the game. (When I returned from the game, it had 26,000)
Throughout the day, I received numerous emails. We’re talking about one every minute or so, from youtubers leaving comments. Around 10:30am, I received an interview request from KDKA-TV. A bit later, WPXI channel 11 contacted me.
My first instinct was to decline the interviews, but the producers had said that many people were bashing the police, and they were sure that the Pirates and Pittsburgh Police would like me to say something. I gave a TV interview to WPXI TV and KDKA on camera. I wasn’t crazy with the result. The interview was heavily edited and didn’t include any of the positive things I said about PNC Park ushers, security guards, and Pittsburgh Police.
I heavily criticized the man in the USA Jacket, calling the police action justified, and talked about how I was tired of all the fair weather baseball fans that came out for only fireworks, bobbleheads, and concerts. I blamed the drunks for ruining the game experience for the true baseball fans. I talked about how a fan like that has no place in PNC Park especially around little kids.
Of course, TV used snippets like, “I’d like to see what started it, etc.”
Anyhow, my blog has received over 11,000 hits today as of 9pm, and the youtube video has gone viral, amassing hundreds of thousands of views within the last two days.
Today, I did brief interviews or talked on the phone with msnbc.com, the Today show, Fox News, CNN, The Tribune Review, the CBS network, and several radio stations. Most of them wanted permission to use my video and how to credit me. I just asked that my blog be listed as the source, and not to use my name.
Anyway, as of 9pm, the video had 211,000 views and 1,292 comments. Craziness.
I’d just like to say that PNC Park security had nothing to do with the arrest of the man, and they were trying to keep all fans safe by keeping them away from the maniac.
On to the ballhawking that took place on Sunday.
I arrived 2 minutes before the gates opened and snagged my first ball of the day from Chris Resop in the bullpen as soon as I entered the park.
My second snag of the day was just behind the trash can in this picture.
PNC Park opens the Riverwalk 30 minutes before the rest of the gates, but fans can’t access the stadium. Not only season ticket holders. So, all fans are confined to the outfield concourse/walkway. Luckily, the Pirates were taking batting practice, and left handed power hitter Pedro Alvarez was up.
He hit a home run that cleared the seats, and the blue gate. Nick and I both were in position, and I was closer the gate, and he was a foot or two behind me. I did a full extension leap to make the catch on the fly in the air. It was easily my best catch of the year.
Just before the stadium gates opened so that we could enter the general seating area, I watched an EMS guy pocket at least two baseballs.
Once the stadium opened, knowing that the left field bleachers had been pillaged, I headed over to foul territory.
The Pirates batting practice was slow again, with very few home runs being hit.
I was lined up to make an easy catch, when the guy in the Colorado hat reached up with his bare hand at the last second to try to catch the ball that I had measured up.
His hand crashed into my glove and the ball fell onto the field. He apologized. I was a little annoyed, but it didn’t matter. The ball was right below me, so I glove tricked it easily for ball #4.
One of them turned out to be a Salt River Fields Commemorative Ball, the third such one I had snagged in this series.
My seventh ball of the day was this gem hiding in the bushes.
I used a six foot long pole to dislodge the ball from the ivy, then I reached in and grabbed it.
Season: 36 balls (11 hit, 7 thrown, 11 device, 7 found)
Games: 6 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,158 balls