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 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
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)
We walked to the stadium and were second in line behind Nick.
Nick and I caught for about 20 minutes on the Roberto Clemente bridge.
Afterwards, Nick and I headed down to the Riverwalk. While there, I was able to see seven balls in the sky heading towards the seats.
Eventually one of the balls bounced out of the stadium. I dove here to snag the ball.
I got a little dirty, but it wasn’t too noticeable.
Being on the board before going into the stadium is never a bad thing.
Upon entering the stadium, I heard Evan Meek call out to me. I thought he said, “Jabs!” but I’m not sure. Anyhow, he came over and shook my hand and asked how the offseason was and if there was anything new going on. He asked if we were doing the Ballhawk League again, and I said yeah.
The Pirates players were wearing pullovers so I wasn’t able to identify all of them. An unidentified righty hit a home run into section 134. The ball settled under a bleacher and I scooped it up for ball #3.
Ball #4 was chased down under the Rotunda. Again, no clue who hit it.
My fifth ball was another righty Pirates batter. I snagged it off of the concrete after it bounced around a bit. There were a few other gloves reaching for the ball, but I came away with it.
I decided to head over to right field and center field at 11:30. It paid off. I found Ball #6, #7, and #8 there.
The Rockies had come out to hit in the meantime.
My ninth ball was glove tricked in left-center field.
Five minutes later, another ball was there.
I went back to that area and glove tricked that one too for ball #11
Ball #12 was tossed to me by Rockies ace pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. It helped that I had Rockies gear on and asked for the ball in Spanish.
After snagging the ball from Jimenez, I noticed two balls in the ivy. I had forgotten my Cleveland stick, so I went to the Janitors closet and got a squeegee and prodded the ball closer to the fence so I could reach it.
It was in terrible shape.
That was it for batting practice. The Rockies batting practice was very poor. Not many home runs were hit at all.
The game was rather uneventful. The Pirates lost 7-1 and played sloppy defense.
Highlights from the game were the introductions, where the players line up on the baselines:
The Pirates side:
There was a flyover after the National Anthem.
Here was the view from my seat, where I sat for an inning.
It was really crowded in left field, so I went there to read the paper for a bit.
One of the non-baseball highlights was a ‘streaker’ who took to the field in the ninth inning:
He came from the left field stands and made it across the whole field.
Despite the Pirates loss, Opening Day was productive from a ballhawking standpoint.
Season: 22 balls (8 hit, 4 thrown, 7 device, 3 found)
Games: 3 games
Average: 7.33 balls per game
Career: 1,144 balls
The Pirates’ Winter Caravan, which is a series of stops leading up the Piratefest, rolled into Dick’s Sporting Good in Tarentum PA on Tuesday.
Andrew McCutchen, Evan Meek and Ross Ohlendorf were the Pirates’ players in this Caravan Group.
We arrived at 6:05 and got into the already lengthy line.
The players sat down around 6:15 and began signing player cards to give away to fans.
Around 6:25 or so, Pirates color commentator Bob Walk addressed the crowd. It was rather bush league that he wasn’t even given a microphone. This Dick’s Sporting Goods was very under prepared. Last year at the Dick’s Sporting Goods in Washington, the Pirates were welcomed with music and a video board which was dedicated the Pirates behind the players. This Dick’s couldn’t even provide a mic.
Here’s some of Bob Walk’s speech from my vantage point in line:
After about an hour or so in line, we finally got up to the table.
Evan Meek recognized me immediately from ballhawking and asked me how many baseballs I ended the season with and if I had won the ballhawking league. He brought Ross Ohlendorf into the conversation also. Ross asked me who the most graceful shagger during BP was. I told him that he definitely gives the most effort. Ross goes all out in BP making full out running catches.
I didn’t talk to Andrew McCutchen. I had him sign a baseball but that was it. He seemed like he didn’t really want to be there. If you watch the below video at 39 seconds, you’ll see him blatantly and impatiently rolling his eyes as he waits for a fan to move from Ohlendorf to him.
That was pretty much it. We each got three balls signed and then headed off into the mall to walk around for a bit. The highlight of the rest of the night was watching dogs try to figure out a way around their barrier in the pet store:
and playing with a little dog.
We were tempted to get him, but didn’t.
This would be the only stop for me on the Pirates Winter Caravan. I’ve been kind of out of the loop about stuff going on this winter and actually went to Uniontown to see the Pirates, but went on the WRONG DAY! So, we drove for about an hour for nothing. I got confused because I looked at the schedule about a week before. It was so embarrassing. It wasn’t a wasted trip though.
Of course, much to the dismay of others, I just had to go down to the bottom of the falls, thereby risking falling just to take a couple videos of the falls.
We checked out a couple other parts of the park before calling it a day.
My next baseball related event will be at Piratefest this weekend. Check back for that.
It was a Sunday day game, and there was no batting practice. I still went to the game though. Surprisingly, it would be my best game of the week.
From 11-11:30 on Sundays, fans have to stay on the Riverwalk. They are not allowed to enter the main seating bowl, even if they are season ticket holders. While I was waiting near the bullpens, Chan Ho Park got my attention and threw me a ball. He threw it from center field, so I moved back 20 feet before he threw it to give myself plenty of room to make the catch.
Park then motioned for me to give it to a little kid, so I did. He hooked me up with a second ball for me to keep a minute later. However, it was a little short and bounced off the flag pole base and over my head.
Luckily, few people were in the park at the time, so I chased it down easily here:
I took 2 rounds on the field with 310-340-360-340-310 dimensions and had one home run – over the 340 sign in left center.