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
Today’s game began at 1:10 PM, meaning the gates would open at 11:40 pm. However, I was hoping to get in early at Friday’s, so we arrived at the stadium around 10:30 AM.
It proved to be a mistake, because the Friday’s early entrance doesn’t open until 11AM. Amy and I were forced to stand in 40 degree temps with wind gusts of up to 50 mph for a half hour. It was brutal cold. Brutal.
We were chased from the concourse by a cranky security supervisor who made us go to Friday’s, but failed to say anything to the other couples who were loitering around.
Doumit’s first throw was well short, and fell into the bullpen. He tried again, but over shot me by 10 feet, and the ball hit a bleacher and bounced back onto the field. His third try was right on the money though. I definitely appreciated Doumit’s patience and willingness to make sure he hooked me up.
The Pirates were hitting some home runs, but not very many into the seating areas.
Everyone was tailgating and blocking the aisles, and all of the exits were roped off. The only way off was the one entryway where cars were streaming in. Eventually we were let out. We didn’t get home until 11:58 PM, as it was a ten hour drive back. Amy helped make the drive back fun though, and it went fast.
Game: 3 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device,)
Season: 140 balls (56 hit, 35 thrown, 28 device, 20 found)
Games: 22 games
Average: 6.36 balls per game
Career: 1,262 balls
*Last year on May 15th I had snagged 115 baseballs through 16 games, so I am a bit ahead of last year’s record year, despite the poor weather we’ve had.
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 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 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
I got to the ballpark around 4:45 pm, and this was the scene at the Riverwalk.
The stairs leading down were blocked off with caution tape because the Allegheny River was overflowing. However, I went down anyway. One ball bounced out as I arrived. Had I been five seconds earlier I would’ve had it, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Here’s a different angle:
My first ball of the day once the stadium opened was snagged here. It was a home run that I chased down here:
The Pirates batting practice continues to be less than stellar, as they fail to reach the seats very often. Once the Pirates were done hitting, I changed into my Brewers gear, and the action began.
The Brewers first group contained Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, and Prince Fielder. They hit a bunch of homers.
I snagged my second ball in section 134 off the bat Jonathan Lucroy.
My third ball was a home run hit by Ryan Braun. I could tell that it was going to be way over my head, so I ran back under the bleachers and snagged it under the rotunda.
My fourth ball was glove tricked right next to the Pirates bullpen door.
I also saw this there:
However, it was 5:28, and I had knocked it snug against the wall and couldn’t see it anymore, as I couldn’t lean out over the wall because of the fencing. I gave up and let it go. Totally forgetting about it.
I checked in right field for an easter egg or two, but there was nothing there, and I didn’t want to miss out on all the action in left field, so I returned to left. The second group also put plenty of balls into the seat.
Rickie Weeks hit a home run ball that I chased down under the rotunda for ball #5. And moments later, a batter that I believe was Casey McGehee hit a home run that also went under the rotunda which I tracked down.
My eighth ball was a glove trick ball snagged right by the 325 sign:
That was it for batting practice. After batting practice, Nick tipped me off to a ball in the bullpen. It was the same ball that I started working on at 5:28 that I had knocked against the wall. I had totally forgotten about it.
Thanks to Ian Weir for taking the picture.
Ball #10 came around 6:55 when Kevin Correia, the Pirates started finished his warm ups in the bullpen. I asked politely for the ball, and he looked up and tossed it to me.
Moments later, Ball #11 came from Jose Tabata in the first inning. I noticed he was looking at a group of college aged folks, so I went and stood directly to their right. Since I was the only one with the glove, he fired me a perfect strike. He put some zip on the throw too.
Notice how small the crowd was at game time. There was a Penguins playoff game, and I doubt that half of the 8,000 fans that bought tickets actually showed up.
Pretty cool huh?
Well, despite the small crowds, I didn’t snag another ball.
Here are today’s 11 baseballs:
And the sweet spots.
Season: 47 balls (17 hit, 9 thrown, 14 device, 7 found)
Games: 7 games
Average: 6.70 balls per game
Career: 1,169 balls