Today was a Sunday game, a day game after a night game, so there was a good chance of there being no batting practice.
I was pretty happy when I peered into the gate and saw the cage set up.
Upon entering the stadium, the Pirates were warming up in left field. I walked over and sat down in this section.
It is a handicapped section. Its a good spot for catching over throws.
I got ball #1 of the day from Ian Snell. When he was done catching, he simply turned and threw me the ball. I didn’t even ask for it. Just another reason why Ian Snell is awesome.
I waited behind John Grabow, who was catching with Sean Burnett, for an overthrow, but it didn’t happen.
Batting practice was beginning,
Game: 3 Balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 138 Balls (61 hit, 59 thrown, 18 device)
Games: 28 Games (24 with BP, 4 without)
Average: 4.93 Balls Per Game
Career: 304 Balls
Today was the first of three Skyblast dates throughout the summer at PNC Park. Basically its an hour long concert/fireworks show. The bands are always “B” List bands, with past bands being Smash Mouth, Styx, Live, PovertyNeck Hill Billies, etc. The band tonight was the Zac Brown Band.
The stadium was sold out, so there would be some more competition than usual during batting practice. I attended this game with my wife. We were the 4th and 5th people in line. Unfortunately, by the time the gates opened, the 3 people ahead of us had swelled to 11 through the process of sparing/cutting. There went any chance for Easter Eggs out the window.
After about 5 minutes of batting practice, I got ball #1 from Ian Snell.
Ian gets a lot of crap for his inconsistencies, but he’s one of my favorite Pirates. He’s definitely not stingy when it comes to giving away baseballs, so you have to respect that.
One of the groups that came up was mostly lefties, so I abandoned left field and went into foul ball territory.
Game: 5 Balls (3 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 135 Balls (60 hit, 58 thrown, 17 device)
Games: 27 Games (23 with BP, 4 without)
Average: 5.00 Balls Per Game
Career: 301 Balls
Attendance: 37,167 (sell-out)
Luckily, as soon as I walked in, Ian Snell was picking up a ball and tossed me ball #1.
Then, the cold spell began. I didn’t get any more balls during the Pirates portion of batting practice. The Cardinals came out. Still nothing. It was 5:50 and I headed to center field for the last part of batting practice. Chris Duncan is the Cardinals best home run hitter in batting practice, so I was there waiting.
He hit a few home runs that came close to me. One landed in an empty chair. I was the only one running for it. Some random guy sitting 2 rows behind the ball saw me running, and lazily got up and picked up the ball.
It was 6:00 PM, and I had only one ball. I was thinking to myself, “You really suck. You’re the worst ballhawk in the entire stadium.” Moments later, Duncan hit a ball into the 5th row of section 139. I was in Section 141 and took off running. Myself and a legendary ballhawk named Jim were both after the ball. We both arrived at the same time, however I entered the row that the ball was in, and he was one row up. I was able to snag the ball just in time to get ball #2. A few seconds later, Duncan hit a ball to the same spot, except another row up. Jim and I were off to the races again. Again, I got to the ball a split second faster and got ball #3. Walking back to my seat, I found an easter egg ball wedged between the cement and a seat back. There was a lady sitting close by, so I casually walked over and picked up ball #4. As soon as I picked the ball up, the Cardinals ran off the field, ending their batting practice. Not a bad finish after being stuck on 1 ball for almost an hour.
Game: 5 Balls (3 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 113 Balls (50 hit, 50 thrown, 13 device)
Games: 21 games (18 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 5.38 balls per game
Career: 279 balls
I attended today’s game with my wife. I had to wait for her to get home for work, so we didn’t get to the stadium until 4:55 PM, just in time before the 5 PM gate opening.
Usually I get 1 ball during the Pirates portion during the week (they only hit for about 10-15 more minutes after the gates open). Today, though, I had 4 balls by 5:04. I’ve never gotten off to a start like that in my life.
Ball #1 was tossed from Nyjer Morgan.
Game: 10 balls (4 hit, 4 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 84 balls (32 hit, 43 thrown, 9 device)
Games: 16 games (13 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 5.25 balls per game
Career: 250 balls
Today was PNC Park’s Opening Day. I went today with my wife Holly. We got to the gates around 10:30 AM, and waited in line for a half hour. When the gates opened, I rushed in and was the 6th one into the left field bleachers.
Things were a little dry at first. Eventually, two balls were hit and Ian Snell came to the fence to get them. I asked him for a ball and he flipped one over his head without looking to me. It was ball #1 of the day. Luckily, for the first 30 minutes, only season ticket holders are permitted into batting practice, so I had plenty of room to roam.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 13 balls (7 hit, 4 thrown, 2 device)
Games: 3 (3 with BP, 0 without)
Career: 179 balls
Hit List: 179 ties me with Willy Aybar for #3809 all time.
Happy Easter everyone!
My friend Joe and I went to Great American Ball Park today.
It was an afternoon game, so I was worried that batting practice would be canceled. We waited in line for about 10 minutes to get in. At 11:40, when the gates opened, I rushed to left field. The Pirates were taking batting practice!
I was the first one there, but the stadium ushers must have picked up all of the Easter Eggs, because there were none to be found. Yesterday’s starter Paul Maholm was alone in left field. I shouted to him to congratulate him on his great start yesterday. I then asked for a ball. He looked up and threw me a ball. His aim was off and it was wide and to my left. It tipped off my glove and landed a row behind me. Luckily, there was still no one around, so I turned around and picked it up. It was ball #1. I asked Matt Capps, John Grabow, and Tyler Yates for balls in left center field, but was ignored. I didn’t feel like pestering them, so I found an open aisle about 6 rows back that wasn’t being blocked by those long railings I mentioned in Friday’s entry.
Freddy Sanchez soon launched a deep fly ball to left. It was right at me, in the center of the section. However, it was sailing over my head. I hate it when this happens. I don’t have latitudinal range, and get stuck. It happens often at PNC Park. The ball landed about 5 rows back, so I had to climb over the chairs to beat some Reds fan there by a split second. It was ball #2.
Game: 5 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 8 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown)
Average: 4.0 balls/game (8 balls/2 games)
Career: 174 balls
Today was the last home game of the season, and likely my last Major League Baseball game of 2008. Since it was a Sunday afternoon game, there was no batting practice. The only chance I had at a ball was to get one thrown to me. When the pitchers came out, I elected to go on the Astros’ side, because there were too many Pirates fans crowded behind the Pirates’ pitchers. I donned my Astros gear hoping it would increase my chances of getting a ball.
I had purchased tickets from Stubhub behind the Pirates dugout, because last year, the players tossed all of their hats into the crowd after the game. I was sitting in section 121 row A, but the ushers wouldn’t let anyone down into the lower 6 rows, so I got shut out. Hats can only be thrown/tossed so far.
After the game, I hat came from behind me. I thought that some fan had thrown it. So I didn’t really bother to go after it, even though it landed in the seat directly in front of me. I looked back and a girl from the Bucco brigade had a big bag and was tossing out hats. She was in the aisle between the dugout boxes and the infield boxes. Since fans aren’t allowed down into the dugout boxes, I guess they tried to satisfy them by doing the hat thing this way. I thought it was stupid. I would rather have something from a player.
After a few minutes, John Grabow and Ian Snell came out and started tossing signed MLB baseballs and hats into the crowd. I was lucky enough to grab one of Ian Snell’s autographed batting practice hats. It was fitted, brand new, and still had the stickers on it ($27.99 price tag too!).
Snell autographed it along the side of the sticker.
I came close to a couple of the baseballs, but it was pretty packed, and Ian and John were basically hand picking the people they were tossing to. There was no randomly tossing the balls up in the air.
It was a great day to close out the season. I managed to get 1 ball on a non-BP day, and I got an awesome BP hat. If you’re wondering if I plan on wearing the hat, I definately am. I’ve already removed the tags and have worn it once already. It fits great! I probably won’t wear it to BP’s because I don’t want it getting sweaty and ruined.
Below is a picture of the ball I snagged today:
Game: 1 ball
Season: 128 balls
Career: 166 balls
Hit List: 166 hits ties me with BRUCE AVEN for #3,931 on the all time hit list. Aven was a one time Pittsburgh Pirate in 2000 and had a short career (obviously, with only 166 hits).
Attendance: 20,311 (52.9% full)
I decided to try a new tactic today and stand in foul territory for the entire Pirates’ batting practice. As soon as the gates opened at 4:30, I hurried over to the corner seat right along the left field foul line. My reasoning was that the Pirates’ left handed hitters would be slashing the ball down the line, working on their opposite field stroke. Wouldn’t you know, that I didn’t get a single ball from a Pirates left handed hitter come remotely close to me.
I received ball #1 courtesy of Ian Snell. Snell is having a rough season, but he is an all around good guy when it comes to tossing balls into the stands. I called out his name and he fired a ball at me. It was probably about 65 mph, and it was a few feet over my head, so I had to leap for it to make the grab. In the picture to the left, Ian Snell is talking with Denny Bautista in
front of the Verizon Wireless sign.
Ian used to hang out in center
field all the time until we traded or demoted all of Bautista’s shagging buddies (Damaso Marte, Romulo Sanchez, Franquelis Osoria, Yoslan Herrera, Marino Salas, etc).
Ball #2 came soon after, courtesy of Jack Wilson. Jack pulled a line drive down the line foul directly at me. It bounced one time and landed right in my glove. Wilson tends to pull balls down the line into foul territory an awful lot – I’ve only recently noticed it. The Pirates batting practice ended uneventfully at 5:15 and the Brewers came out to bat. I immediately made my way over to the left field bleachers.
I set up shop in my usual spot – on the aisle between Sections 135 and 135. I was anticipating a barrage of home runs from the Brew Crew. The first group yielded no positive results, as I didn’t even get near any of the home runs. Many were going to right field and center field, as Prince Fielder was in the group. Fielder hit a couple out of the stadium over the right field wall, presumably sending them into the Allegheny. He also tattooed the batter’s eye in Center Field, which is 450 feet from home plate.
The second group included the likes of Ryan Braun, Gabe Kapler, Corey Hart and
Weeks, so I liked my chances of getting some action. Braun didn’t dissapoint, probably hitting the most home runs of any Brewer. I got ball #3 from Braun, a ground rule double that bounced on the warning track, and took a nice clean perfect hop directly to me, five rows back into the crowd. I got a nice little applause from several people close by.
A few short moments later, Corey Hart launched a line drive home run ball to the section I was standing in. The ball’s path was directly in the sun for most of its flight. For those of you who attend batting practice on a regular basis at PNC Park, you know that the sun is absolutely brutal in left field. I was able to position myself in the path of the ball, but had to stare into the sun for what seemed like an eternity. I waited until the ball came out of the sun, and was able to catch it (ball #4) without even moving. I once again received a polite applause, while several people came over and asked me, “Did you see that? How were you able to keep you eye on that? I lost that one in the sun!” Never attend batting practice without sunglasses
Ball #5 was a home run by Gabe Kapler (I think) that landed on the 134 side of section 135. It landed in a group of soccer moms and little kids who ducked for cover. The ball landed and trickled down three rows. I had jogged over to take a look, as I usually do, in case of a funny ricochet, and was able to toss my glove over the ball as it was rolling towards me. I had ball #5 in my possession. Almost immediately, one of these mom’s starting patting me on the arm with purpose, saying “Come on, I need that ball for my son, you already caught three!” I totally ignored her and walked away with the ball. She called me a hog. I didn’t care. If I was going to give the ball away it certainly wasn’t going to be to her. I don’t think I would ever give a ball to someone who asked or demanded it.
At this point, a man in a yellow shirt came up to me and offered me $20 or $30 for one of my balls. He explained to me that he was from Maryland and had made a four hour drive and wanted a ball for his son. I told him that I don’t sell balls, and that he could try asking one of the players for a ball. The guy ended up paying another ballhawk $20 for a warm up ball.
I had already had five balls on the day, and batting practice was going to be ending in several minutes. I had noticed a ball laying on the warning track, unnoticed by the players. I decided to get the ball to add one more to my total. I walked over, politely asked a group of youngsters if I could get the ball. They looked at me in amazement as I took out my glove with a string tied to it. I dropped the glove directly on the ball and pulled it up in a matter of several seconds. It was ball #6. I handed the ball to a 9 year old kid on my right. What made things better, was the man who purchased a ball for $20 was standing right right, three people away, there watching everything unfold. I was hoping he was kicking himself for paying $20 for a used BP ball. He could’ve gone into the Pirates clubhouse store and bought a brand new official MLB ball with a cube-case for $22.
After pulling off the glove trick, one of the kids asked, “Can I have that!” I told him he’d have to make his own.
Batting practice ended, and although I tried to get some extra balls throughout the night, I was destined to leave with the five that I kept. The umpires and bullpen pitchers ignored me as I stood above the tunnel in Sec 24 after the game and asked for a ball.
Game: 6 Balls (1 given away)
Season: 110 Balls
Career: 148 Balls
Streak: 7 games with at least 1 ball
Attendance: 21,931 (57.2% full)
The only positive from the entire night was the beautiful pink sky at dusk.
Tonight’s game was the absolute worst game I’ve been to all season. Although it was a nine inning game, the game lasted FOUR hours.
During the Pirates’ portion of batting practice I got absolutely nothing. The Cubs’ portion of batting practice was just as bad. The Cubs’ fans outnumbered the Pirates fans at batting practice, so I didn’t even bother putting on my Cubs gear. The Cubs players were also remarkably stingy, notable Lester Strode, who even ignored a group of young Cubs’ fans when picking up two balls near the wall.
Luckily, around 5:40, Aramis Ramirez launched a homerun ball directly at me. I didn’t even have to move.
I caught the line drive on the fly, making it ball #1, and my only ball of the day.
I caught the ball in my usual batting practice spot, in the aisle between Sec 134 and 135.
After BP ended, I tried to get Ian Snell’s warm up ball, but bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade took it into the bullpen with him, totally snubbing me.
My seats for this game were located on the right field wall, in Sec 143 Row F. I figured that I could improve on my paltry one ball by moving back and forth between RF and CF
throughout the game. Nate McLouth throws a warm up ball into the stands at the top of each odd numbered inning, while the right fielder throws during even numbered innings. I made nine attempts to get a warm up ball.
Unfortunately, I think Nate knows who I am and refuses to throw the ball to me. On one Sunday back in June, I caught three of his warm up balls in one game. Two I had to jump for, and probably weren’t meant for me, possibly contributing to McLouth giving me the could shoulder ever since.
I didn’t receive a ball the entire game, so I moved down to Section 24 to attempt to get a game ball from an umpire as they left the field. By this time, it was 11:04 PM, and the only remaining fans in the crowd were Cubs fans. The place had a Wrigley Field feel to it, as chants of “Let’s Go Cubbies” echoed from every crevice of the stadium. In the picture below, you can see all of the Cubs fans standing in anticipation of the final out. U
Game: 1 Ball
Season: 104 Balls
Career: 142 Balls
Attendance: 17,929 (46.7% full)