Today was the first day of a weekend long event at the David L Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh known as ‘Piratefest.’
Piratefest has been going on since the late 1980’s, as I remember going to a Piratefest in Monroeville and getting a baseball signed by Jim Leyland, Bill Landrum, Mike LaVailliere, Randy Kramer, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff King, etc.
The Pirates dedicated this first day to season ticket holders only. Earlier this month, I received four tickets to this day, plus 2 additional passes that could be used for any of the three days this weekend. In essence, I was given six tickets. So, I sold two of the for $25 earlier in the week. Leaving me two for today, and two that I would use on Sunday.
I asked Garrett Jones to sign one of the balls from my decoy collection (which is slowly dwindling away.) Decoy balls are balls I take to games to give away on occasion.
I didn’t ask Correia to sign anything, that was probably a jerk move, and in retrospect, I should’ve had him sign the Pirates 2011 Calendar that was given away.
Speaking of that Calendar, it was the highlight of Piratefest for me. The Pirates passed out a bag that included the Piratefest schedule and program along with a full 12 month 12 page Color calendar.
Here’s the front:
It included coupons, which are pretty useless to me.
The $5 off at the Pirates Clubhouse store is only valid on non game days. Also, the buy one get one free ticket offer doesn’t really help me out since I’m a season ticket holder.
Pedro Alvarez, April,
Jose Tabata, August
Andrew McCutchen, October
Pirate Parrot, December
After getting Jones to sign, we headed over to the Piratefest stage and watched ‘Minute to Win It’ Pirates Edition.
The game was hosted by PNC Park ballpark host Joe Klimchak and featured contestants trying to complete tasks in less than 60 seconds with every day household items. For each challenge that a contestant successfully completed in less than 60 seconds, they were awarded a prize and given the option to continue to the next ‘level’ or accept their prize and walk away.
The first two contestants were duds. The first was a young boy who was about 7 years old and was outmatched by the first game, known as Vacuum.
The boy had to transport five M&M’s from one side of the stage to the other using only a straw and his lung capacity to suck an M&M onto the end of the straw and keep it there until dropping it into a bucket at the other side of the stage. He couldn’t manage to get one M&M to even stay on his straw.
The second contestant we dubbed as ‘Perfume Lady’ because she had so much perfume on that it was overpowering. We could smell her from four rows away.
She managed to transport one M&M, which Joe Klimchak decided was ‘good enough,’ then failed miserably at the next task, which was blowing 20 cups off of a table using only a balloon that they could blow up multiple times.
The most successful contestant a fan named Bob, who went through all of the Minute to Win it tasks, before failing to keep three balloons in the air for a minute.
I recorded several of his challenges.
‘Bucket Head’ with Garrett Jones
There are four other videos that I’ll link instead of embedding in this blog of the fan’s other Minute to Win It Challenges. Click the links below to go to see them on youtube:
Defying Gravity (keeping three balloons in the air)
Junk In the Trunk (dancing around to empty 8 ping pong balls from a Kleenex box on one’s hips)
Quick Draw (empty a box of Kleenex using only one hand)
Cup Blow? (blow 20 cups off of a table using a balloon – not sure of the name here)
The other entertainment at the Piratefest stage included an ask the Pirates management session:
It featured Manager Clint Hurdle, General Manager Neal Huntington, and President Frank Coonelly.
We really didn’t hang around to watch because it was rather packed.
On the other side of the convention center, Garrett Jones was challenging fans at Guitar Hero. Yawn. No interest here.
Nearby were the Pirates promotional items for 2011. There aren’t as many as in years past, but here’s what you can expect in the coming year at PNC Park:
The most useful giveaway, and the only one that I ever keep will be Pirates T-Shirts, given away every Friday. Here are several of the shirts that you can look forward to in 2011:
There will be a 1971 Pirates World Series Celebration Canvas Photo Wrap:
A Neil Walker bobblehead (the only one of 2011) and a Pirates Stars and Stripes Floppy Hat:
An Andrew McCutchen Action Figurine and a Pirates hat:
And several of the kids Sunday giveaways:
The Friday session of Piratefest ended at 10PM, but we ended up leaving around 8, having seen enough.
Before taking off, I did the strike zone challenge, and threw two balls from about 15 feet away towards a 1 foot by 1 foot strike zone. One ball in the zone won a PNC Park photo wrap, while two out of two through the zone would win a Pirates T-Shirt.
We’ll be back at Piratefest on Sunday. An entry will be forthcoming.
I had seriously considered going to Cleveland today rather than dealing with the sellout crowd at PNC Park. However, I decided I just didn’t feel like driving four hours round trip for the fourth day in a week.
So, I gave PNC Park another try. One small thing going in my favor would be that the gates would open at 4:30 today, as is the PNC Park policy for Saturday games.
Upon entering, batting practice hadn’t yet begun and the pitchers were throwing in left field.
Evan Meek noticed Nick and I hustling around looking for easter eggs and shouted, there’s one up there, gesturing towards the upper general admission bleachers.
After a lengthy search, no ball would be found.
After batting practice finally began, I would get ball #1 tossed to me by Pirates starting pitcher Brad Lincoln.
During the second group of Pirates hitters, I would snag a Garrett Jones home run in left field. It was an opposite field shot that was a row in front of me, and I ended up trapping the ball against the bleacher on a short hop here:
I do believe that I will attend over 85 games, but so will Nick Pelescak, so the question may end up being who attends more?
As for the Total Balls in one season – its too early to tell if I’ll be able to continue to average over 6 balls per game.
I won’t be in action on July 4th, but have several trips lined up for next week.
I had the opportunity to watch batting practice on the field today. I had to be in the Pirates administrative offices at 4:15, where I would receive a lanyard and Suite tickets for tonight’s game.
However, the downfall of this opportunity is that the participants must stay in a small 15×15 area or so in center field. So snagging balls isn’t that easy.
Game: 8 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 234 balls (126 hit, 59 thrown, 22 device, 27 found)
Games: 36 games
Average: 6.50 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 812 balls
Streak: 132 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.
I needed to rebound after driving 4 hours to Washington and only getting three balls, despite a full BP. My redemption would come today.
I arrived at the stadium a few minutes before the gates opened. Although there were no easter eggs that I could find, I did end up getting on the board rather quickly.
My first and second balls that I snagged were off the bat of Jason Jaramillo. The first hit a bleacher, and I ran over and picked up, and the second was a ground rule double that bounced to me over the fence.
For whatever reason, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge were hitting in the last group today. Typically, the last group is reserved for light-hitting backups. If this trend continues, it could be very good, considering there are very few folks at BP early, and both players have home run power.
Anyhow, that was it for Pirates BP. Two balls.
The Brewers came out, and I was hoping for some action. Unfortunately, most Brewers were wearing their warm up jerseys,
so I couldn’t identify many batters, except for obvious ones like Prince Fielder, Craig Counsell or Corey Hart.
Game: 12 balls (8 hit, 3 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 39 balls (24 hit, 6 thrown, 5 device, 4 found)
Games: 7 games
Average: 5.57 balls per game
Career: 617 balls
Streak: 103 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 7 games: 29 (Currently I am 10 balls ahead of last year’s career high season)
Today was our last day in Florida. When I looked out my hotel window, it was overcast and drizzling. Not good.
We still went to the field early just in case there was batting practice, and sure enough, there was. The rain had let up.
Spring Training Statistics:
Game: 10 balls
Trip: 32 balls
Spring Training Career: 40 balls in 6 games
My first game of the 2009 season was a Pirates vs Reds game at Great American Park. I figured the best way to close the season was by making my final game of the 2009 season a Pirates vs Reds game at Great American Park.
I left my house around 11 AM, and arrived just before 4 PM.
Unfortunately, the gates at Great American don’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch, so I would have to wait around until 5:40 to get in. I was thinking, “I should’ve gone to Baltimore.” (To see the Blue Jays vs Orioles).
I sat outside the center field gate, read the newspaper, checked scored on my phone, and waited for the gates to open. While there, Cincinnati natives tried to engage me in conversations about the NFL and the Steelers, a subject that I didn’t really care to talk about at a baseball game. Unlike most Pittsburghers, I’m pretty indifferent when it comes to the Steelers and Penguins.
When the gates finally did open, I ran in and snapped a quick picture.
I had a whole TWENTY FIVE MINUTES of ballhawking. No wonder I
didn’t do so well here earlier in the season (eight balls over two
If I hadn’t had bought a ticket directly behind the Pirates dugout, I
may have left to get back to Pittsburgh at a decent hour. Plus, 411
isn’t a great looking number to me. I wanted to get one more ball.
I walked around the stadium and snapped a few more pictures:
Before the game began, I got Andy LaRoche to toss me his warm up ball, except right before he was about to release it, he pump faked upon seeing a four year old girl with her glove up, two rows behind me. He paused and pointed at the girl and underhanded the ball. The ball floated two feet to my right. I should’ve reached out and grabbed it, and given it to the girl, but I didnt. I watched it float slowly by and land in the little girl’s glove. I started kicking myself for not catching it – it would’ve been ball #7 of the day.
I would have to try and get a ball by some other means.
In the second inning, Pirates’ first baseman Garrett Jones tossed me ball #7 as he came off the field. I was a bit disappointed that he had switched the warm up ball tossed by the coach with the game ball that he was bringing in towards the dugout.
I watched in subsequent innings as he did the same thing.
With the Pirates trailing by a large margin, I left in the 6th inning to make the four and a half hour drive back to Pittsburgh. I got home sometime after 1:30AM.
Was it worth the trip for 25 minutes of batting practice? I’d say so. I ended the season on a positive note, with seven balls, and 412 snagged during the 2009 season.
Coincidentally, 412 is also my telephone area code, which is somewhat cool.
Game: 7 balls (6 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 412 balls (217 hit, 125 thrown, 70 device)
Games: 81 games (10 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.09 balls per game
Career: 578 balls
Streak: 96 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.