The day began for me at 4AM. I had spent the previous week in South Carolina at Myrtle Beach.
I arrived at PNC Park at 3:45 PM and I was back in action for the first time since July 3rd, exactly two weeks off from ballhawking.
It was a much needed break. But I was ready to get back to one of my hobbies.
Upon entering the stadium at 4:30, batting practice had not yet begun.
After 5-10 minutes, it got underway and I snagged a ground rule double from Bobby Crosby, who was hitting in the first group. The ball barely cleared the wall, as it was a line drive.
I lined up with the ball and made the snag about three rows back.
Things were really slow during the first two groups, and I had the opportunity to talk to two of the Pirates relievers.
Things then slowed down to a ridiculously boring pace. The Astros weren’t hitting many home runs, as they appeared 100% dedicated to taking inside out swings to hit the ball to right field.
Luckily, near the end of batting practice, I snagged a ground rule double off the bat of an unknown Astro.
Also, at the end of batting practice, I got ball #7 thrown by Matt Lindstrom as the Astros were running off the field.
At the end of batting practice I gave one of my extra balls that I bring from home away to a young fan with a glove who had gotten shut out.
I left right after Batting Practice to go home and get caught up on some sleep.
(PS: As for Sunday, Nick and I went to the stadium, waited outside for over a half an hour and then left, as there were no signs of cages in sight. I’ll be back in action on Monday, and Milwaukee’s best ballhawk will be in attendance at the game…)
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season: 287 balls (153 hit, 67 thrown, 27 device, 41 found)
Games: 45 games
Average: 6.38 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 865 balls
Streak: 141 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Had a good day today at PNC Park.
Shortly after running into the bleachers and finding zero easter eggs, Garrett Jones hit a ground rule double down the line that landed in the section to my right. I ran over and claimed ball #1 as it rolled down the stairs after bouncing off a bleacher.
My second ball was a Ronny Cedeno home run catch. He hit a towering fly ball that I ran a section and a half to my right and made the clean catch in the third row back.
As for the game, the outfield was crowded so I didn’t get close on any of the between inning toss ups from the outfielders.
The Pirates would also go on to lose their eleventh game in a row.
Tomorrow should be an interesting day – I’ll be in the park
extra early – details to come.
Today’s baseballs: (10 are pictured because one was given away)
Sweet spots: (10 are pictured because #804 was given away)
Game: 11 balls (8 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 226 balls (122 hit, 57 thrown, 21 device, 26 found)
Games: 35 games
Average: 6.46 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 804 balls
Streak: 131 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The Pirates #1 prospect finally arrived in the major leagues. He didn’t hit too many home runs in batting practice, but did hit one that cleared everything and sailed over section 139 in dead center on its way to the river.
As for my day, it got off to a good start.
I found ball #1 laying in the front row in left field when I ran in.
A few minutes later I got ball #2 from assistant pitching coach Ray Searage in left field.
He did a no look toss that fell about two rows short to me, but no one else was in the vicinity, so I had to to recover and get the ball.
My third ball of the day was a Lastings Milledge home run caught on the fly in this area:
This made toss ups difficult, and the closest I came was probably five feet from a McCutchen toss up in the 5th inning, but it didn’t happen.
By the way, here’s video of Pedro’s first major league at bat:
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 9 balls (4 hit, 3 thrown, 2 found)
Season: 215 balls (114 hit, 56 thrown, 19 device, 26 found)
Games: 34 games
Average: 6.32 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 793 balls
Streak: 130 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
It rained for most of the morning in Pittsburgh, in fact, it was still raining when I arrived at the ballpark at 11 AM. This could mean only one thing: no batting practice. I was faced with possibly being shut out for the first time since August 2008.
When the stadium opened the gates to the seating areas at 11:30, I went over to the left field foul line. The rain had subsided. Several bullpen pitchers from the Pirates were warming up. I placed myself behind John Grabow and Ross Ohlendorf and waited for an overthrow.
Directly to me. I didn’t even have to move.
Its not like he randomly tossed the ball up and I got into a scrum and stole the ball away from ticketed patrons. He usually picks out people. I caught the ball, waved thanks, turned and left the section. I could hear some snooty lady and her rotund husband getting on the usher. “He doesn’t have a ticket. He shouldn’t be allowed to do that. Don’t let him back in here. Check his ticket.” Blah blah blah.
I went over to left field for the fourth inning to try and get a warm up ball from Nyjer. I avoided the right field seats thanks to the afore mentioned rudest-usher-in-PNC-Park.
Left Field has a lot more sections and people, so I had very little chance. The ball went to a group of people near the foul pole.
Inning 5. I went back to center field. I stood at the far edge of Section 140, away from the snotty lady. I looked over and they were both staring directly at me. I stared right back at them. I should’ve walked over and offered their spoiled kid a ball. “Excuse me, would you like a ball? ….. Then bring a glove!” and walk away. That’s what I felt like doing, I was in such a bad mood.
I didn’t get the 5th inning ball because it was tossed to the second row. Predictably, the ball fell back onto the field. The same thing happened in the seventh inning. That’s why Nate prefers to throw the ball deep.
Anyway, the miserable family got on the usher again after the fifth inning because 3 of us ballhawks entered the section. The usher came over and told me that I wasn’t allowed to try for warm up balls anymore. He said come back and try tomorrow when there’s different people around. He told Nick and Bryan the same thing. If you’re wondering, here’s what those “folks” looked like:
(To be civil, I am editing this paragraph from what I originally wrote. I’ve taken out most of the colorful adjectives I originally had written.) Its the guy eating, his son, and the lady in the orange.
I could’ve tried in the seventh and ninth, but out of respect for the ushers, I went and sat behind the Reds dugout to see if I could get some foul balls. There are nice ushers at PNC Park, the ones in center field were just doing their job because the supervisor somehow got involved.
I didn’t get any foul balls, and I got shut out at the Reds dugout, so my day ended on a sour note.
To make it worse, the Pirates looked awful again, getting shut out. They haven’t hit a home run now in a week.
Adam LaRoche’s body language tells the whole story:
A few shots from the game:
Johnny Cueto deals to Nyjer Morgan:
Evan Meek (a big Dave Matthews Band fan):
Jesse Chavez (tossed me my first ball of the day:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 3 balls (3 thrown)
Season: 67 balls (26 hit, 34 thrown, 7 device)
Games: 14 games (11 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 4.79 balls per game
Career: 233 balls