It was time for my return to Progressive Field in Cleveland. Of the ballparks that I’ve traveled to, I enjoy ballhawking most at Progressive Field.
I arrived at 3:30 and was second in line behind fellow Pittsburgh ballhawk Nick Pelescak.
When the gates opened, I was hoping to fill my pockets with Easter Eggs. Alas, I only found one ball, despite looking in virtually every row and seat. At the very least, I was on the board.
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 3 found)
Season: 24 balls (13 hit, 3 thrown, 5 device, 3 found)
Games: 5 games
Average: 4.80 balls per game
Career: 602 balls
Streak: 101 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 5 games: 20 balls (Four balls ahead of last year’s pace)
I’ll close with another brief youtube video that I took from left field:
After leaving PNC Park around 1:25, I made it to Progressive Field in Cleveland, and was in line at 3:32. I was second in line. This would be my second game of the day.
When I ran in, I didn’t find any easter eggs on the ground. I paced up and down each aisle and did manage to find ball #1 and ball #2 laying in seats. The second ball was an International League (AAA) ball – which the Tigers are known to use in lieu of major league baseballs. I was pretty happy because I didn’t have any of these yet this year. After snagging 300 some regular major league baseballs this season, any variation is a welcomed departure from the mean.
Within the span of a minute, I lost out on three home run balls in center field. All three balls bounced on this six foot wide concrete platform seperating the outfield wall from the seats:
The balls took huge hops and landed about 15 rows back, and I wasn’t able to get to any of them in time.
Ball #3 was thrown by an Indians pitcher (standing on the left of the two pitchers).
I had competition from behind, with two guys trying to reach other the seats to grab the ball. I got to the ball a split second before them, snatching it with my bare hand. Guess what? Another Metrodome commemorative!
Things then slowed way down for me. I wouldn’t get another ball for the next half hour.
I watched Miguel Cabrera pepper the left field bleachers with home run balls. There was only one usher there picking them all up, and he had his work cut out for him.
One of Cabrera’s homers nearly hit th
e scoreboard. It landed in the very top row of the bleachers (as marked by the red X in the picture below.)
At 6:00, I ran over to those left field bleachers to look for some easter eggs that the usher potentially may have missed. I searched the rows at the bottom, and watched as one teenager found one. I then ran up towards the top of the bleachers, and found this waiting for me, three rows from the top.
Yes, another Metrodome ball – my fifth commemorative of the day, and ball #9.
Things in left field weren’t going well, so I made my way back over to right field as the final lefties were finishing up.
Curtis Granderson ( i think – a black left handed batter ) – hit a deep home run to my left in right field. Again, it was going to be about two sections over, so I put my head down and ran over to where I judged it was going to land. I ended up making a really nice catch on the run for ball #10 of the day. I got a nice hand from the few people that were still in right field watching batting practice. It was also my fifth consecutive Metrodome ball snagged, and my sixth commemorative of the day.
Two pitches later, Granderson hit another home run to right field. This ball was high in the air, and I had plenty of time to weave and correct my route so I’d be in the right spot. I caught the ball with a basket style catch for ball #11. It was the last hit of BP, as the Tigers then ran off the field. I quickly snapped this picture right after batting practice ended to show all the room I had.
I love weekday batting practices at Progressive Field.
I left after batting practice, happy that after snagging 14 yesterday, I had snagged 15 today (albeit over 2 games). It was a new “one-day” record for me.
On my way out of the stadium, I had a few reminders from the trees that fall was here, and baseball season was almost over.
Farewell Progressive Field – See you next year
Game: 11 balls (8 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 390 balls (208 hit, 117 thrown, 65 device)
Games: 78 games (9 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.00 balls per game
Career: 556 balls
Streak: 93 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Race for 400 in 2009: Need 10 in 3 games, 3.33 per game
Unfortunately, I missed the entire 3 game series at PNC Park vs the Cubs earlier this week. Monday it rained, so I stayed home. Tuesday, I had to coach, and wouldn’t have been able to get to the game until 7. Wednesday’s game was an afternoon game, and I had to work.
Not wanting to get completely shut out in Week 23, I made the two hour drive to Cleveland today.
I got there early enough so that I would be first in line.
It would be twenty minutes before anyone else showed up. While waiting, I ran into a ballhawk named Dennis from New York. He was on a 10 ballpark tour, and was familiar with other ballhawks such as Zack Hample, District Boy, and Greg Barasch. We talked up until the gates opened.
When the gates did open, I ran in to search for Easter Eggs. Usually there are a bunch, but the Indians didn’t hit early, so there was nothing. After an exhaustive search, I did find ball #1 several rows back in the section closest to the Indians bullpen.
I then turned my attention the Indians batting practice.
Eventually, the bullpen coaches and a cop got the squirrel to go into the Indians bullpen, and slammed the door shut. What is it with Cleveland and animal problems (remember those seagulls that cost the Royals a game a couple months ago
I didn’t stay for the game, and left, satisfied with my six snags on the day.
Game: 6 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 350 balls (187 hit, 102 thrown, 62 device)
Games: 72 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.86 balls per game
Career: 516 balls
Streak: 87 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I decided to make the trip back to Cleveland for the second consecutive day. The previous day, I had snagged twelve baseballs. However, today, I would struggle a bit.
I was the first one in line, and therefore was the first fan into the seats. I immediately started looking for Easter Eggs. Usually, the seats are littered with baseballs. Not today. Not a single Easter Egg anywhere. Either an usher or employee had picked them all up, or the Indians did not take their customary early cuts in batting practice.
I would have to try and earn some the old fashioned way.
I had my first chance at a ball that landed a few seats away from me. I was moving toward the ball, but wasn’t fast enough to get to the spot before it landed. The ball hit off of a chair and popped straight up in the air. I started to reach up to grab the ball barehanded when some teenager a row up from me appeared seemingly out of thin air, and jumped to grab the ball just as it was about to land into my outstretched hand. I was pretty mad with myself.
Later, another home run was hit, and I scurried over to the spot. The ball landed in an empty row behind me, so I bent down to scoop the ball up with my glove. Never pick up a ball with your glove. The ball was firmly in my glove, and I had begun to lift it up, when a man grabbed onto my glove and ripped the ball out of it. I glared at him and said, “Wow, are you serious?”
Apparently not, because he immediately tossed me the ball. I don’t know if he had done it was a joke or what. Then I had to deliberate whether or not to count the ball in my collection.
Any ball tossed to me or given to me by a fan does not count. I eventually decided that since I had clear possession of the ball first, it would count. I further concluded had the man snatched the ball from me and not given it back, I still would’ve counted it. It was not a great way to get ball #1, and I needed to get more.
I continued to try and get batted balls in the right field/center field seats.
Balls just weren’t coming at me today. To make matters worse, the Indians portion of batting practice was just about over, and the seats were getting cluttered with fans.
There weren’t many fans, just enough to block up every one of the first 10-15 rows, thereby limiting my range.
Game: 4 balls (1 hit, 3 device)
Season: 279 balls (142 hit, 85 thrown, 52 device)
Games: 58 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.81 balls per game
Career: 445 balls
Streak: 73 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Today was a weird and unconventional snagging day. I would catch zero balls off the bat, and only snag one ball thrown by a player. Yet, somehow I managed to break double digits.
I was the second one in line when I got to the gate. About fifteen minutes before the gates were to open, the old woman in front of me spared two of her friends, a father and his daughter, a little girl of about six years old. Little did I know that the daughter would go on to snag 12 balls of her own today, and assist me with three of my snags.
When the gates opened, I ran in to the bleachers and immediately found ball #1 about six rows back. I continued towards the visitor bullpen, and found ball #2 sitting in an aisle seat. I continued on towards the visitor bullpen and found ball #3 lying in the front row.
I wasn’t done searching. I walked over to the Indians bullpen and saw a ball laying in the front row. There were people standing in front of it, but hadn’t noticed it laying underneath the chair behind them. I walked in the second row, bent down, and picked up ball #4. It was extremely water-logged. I tried to write ‘433’ on it, but it was just too wet. I’ll have to wait until it dries out to re-label the ball.
When I picked up ball #4, I immediately noticed ball #5, which was about fifteen feet out, on top of the Indians bullpen.
I went to work. I tossed my glove out and pulled it in, knocking the ball a good ten feet or so closer. I took out my ‘Cleveland Stick,’ the collapsible six foot yard stick, and hooked the ball towards me. I reached over and grabbed the ball, for my fifth of the day. The father and daughter who were in line in front of me watched me make the snag.
After finding those first five balls, I tried to play for home run balls.
Game: 12 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 7 device)
Season: 275 balls (141 hit, 85 thrown, 49 device)
Games: 57 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.82 balls per game
Career: 441 balls
Streak: 72 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I decided to attend this game in Cleveland, seeing as the Pirates were off and I would not be able to attend this weekend’s Friday and Saturday’s games due to a wedding.
I began the day with a career tally of 392 balls snagged. I would need 8 to get to 400. It would’ve been nice to get a landmark ball outside of PNC Park for once.
I arrived at the stadium at 3:35, and the Indians were already inside hitting. It is not unusual for Indians to be taking early BP, I’ve seen it many times, so I didn’t think much of it at the time.
At the gates I was greeted by PNC Park ballhawks Bryan Pelescak and his brother Nick. They were the first ones in line and had already snagged balls over outside the left field gates. The top three ballhawks at PNC Park had all made the trip (We all have over 100 balls snagged apiece this season). There would likely be some stiff competition today.
When the gates opened, I ran into the right field bleachers to search for Easter Eggs. I ran down the center area of the right field seats, looking around quickly for any balls. I got down to the front row and spotted a ball to my right. I picked up ball #1. On the board. A few feet further in the same row was ball #2. Another section over was ball #3. I then spotted another ball but a police offer hurriedly went over and picked it up. “I need this,” he snorted. “It’s cool, I already found some,” I said. I then ran over to Heritage Park. This was within maybe a minute or two of the park opening, so I was hoping I would be the first one there. However, a young ballhawk, maybe 14 years old had beaten me there. He was trying to reach a ball that was at the back of the wall underneath the fence in heritage park. He stood up and began to walk away, but then saw me out of the corner of his eye and went back to the spot. I went over and asked if he had anything to get the ball with, he said he didn’t. I got out my 72 inch ruler and told him he should also check the tall grass for balls. It took me only a few seconds to push the ball closer to me, and I had ball #4. I probably should’ve given it to the kid, but I was in such a hurry to get back to right field to look for more Easter Eggs that I just ran off. I felt guilty a minute later as soon as I realized that I snubbed the kid. It was a jerk move on my part. I didn’t feel so bad after the teen sent me a nasty hateful email (apparently he knows of my blog – how else would he know to run directly to Heritage Park?) filled with swear words and random personal attacks. (Don’t worry Marty R from Salem OH, I won’t post your message or any of your personal info here (IP address, etc)-I’m not going to sink that low – just think before you go spouting off) I’m sure next time he’ll be better prepared with a device of his own to get those hard to reach balls in Heritage Park.
I continued to walk up and down every row searching for balls while Nick and Bryan did the same thing. I soon found ball #5, tucked at the bottom of a folded up chair. Nick also found five. Progressive Field is an Easter Egg heaven.
Then I realized something was wrong. There were no Indians on the field. The groundscrew had come out and started watering the dirt on the infield.
Not good. I was off to a fantastic start, and the Indians are a great right field hitting BP team. I would’ve had an excellent chance at double digits.
The crowd was sparse too.
When the ball was in view, I went to work. I had to be quick because there were policemen in the market pavilion behind me, and a worker who’s supposed to watch the bullpen. I was able to get the ball on the first attempt, and slowly reeled it in for ball #7. A few impressed spectators asked me how I was able to get the ball, and I explained the glove trick to them.
I went back to left field, but it was really crowded at this point. I had little range.
Luckily, a right handed batter hit a ball that bounced on the warning track, and into the trees in Heritage Park. I had a chance to nab my 400th career ball. I ran up the steps in center field and over to Heritage Park.
When I got to the spot, a teenager had a ball and was gloating about his prize. Oh well. I decided to check anyway. Wouldn’t you know it, there it was, a ball that was tucked away at the back of the outfield wall behind the base of one of the trees. It would be a tough ball to get because one of the monuments prevented me from inserting the collapsible ruler straight on.
After some finangling, I was able to get the ball close enough to reach in and grab ball #8 (#400).
I ended BP over in left field. Unfortunately, the last group featured utility players and back ups, so few home runs were hit.
I ended the day with eight baseballs. I went back to Heritage Park to do one last check for any balls that I may have missed. On my way there, an old guy, who had been repeatedly pestering me in right field for baseballs offered to buy one off of me for $3. I turned him down. “Sorry, I don’t sell them.” When I was looking for balls in Heritage Park, along with Nick, a teenager offered Nick $20 for a ball. When Nick turned him down, he made me the same offer. I also turned him down. “I don’t sell them, plus I wrote on all the ones I got. Sorry.” I told him. If I had brought along some extras I would’ve sold him one. I probably have at least 100 MLB balls at home that I didn’t snag, and aren’t part of my official collection. I use them to give away on occasion, especially in times like the scenario that played out with ball #4 today.
After BP, I took off, hoping to get home before dusk. Which I did achieve, even with a stop at Wendy’s for dinner. (Small Chili, 1 Grilled Chicken Go-Wrap).
I haven’t been staying at many games lately. I don’t have time to with my new hobby.
And the sweet spots:
Game: 8 Balls (5 hit, 3 device)
Season: 234 Balls (124 hit, 75 thrown, 35 device)
Games: 47 Games (5 of them didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.98 Balls per Game
Career: 400 Balls
There were thunderstorms forecast for the area today, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to attend this game. When 3:30 rolled around, the weather was beautiful, so I went. It stayed sunny and nice into the evening.
I was the second one into the stadium, and the first into the bleachers. Time to hunt for Easter Eggs. There were none. I think the sweeper guys have been picking them up. They’ve noticed us ballhawks sprinting in and looking in every crevice, and may have caught on, picking up the balls just before the gates are to open. I’ve seen them in the area the past couple days at opening time.
I got on the board early when Robinzon Diaz hit a ball that bounced over the fence near the left field foul pole. The ball was directly at another ballhawk, but he misplayed the ball, letting it bounce right past him. I ran over and picked up the ball for ball #1 of the day.
Ball #2 came from Ben Francisco of the Indians. He hit a home run ball to left center field. I was in the second row, and could tell that the ball was staying up. I got up on top of the bleacher and made a full extension catch.
At 5:30, I decided to run over to the right field wall. The Indians had multiple left handed power bats pepper the right field seats with homers. I got to right field at 5:30, but the gates were still closed. I noticed one ballhawk was already up there. How’d he get up there so soon? No matter. The gate was slightly ajar, so I slipped in and up the steps and found ball #3 lying where the red arrow is indicating to.
I then left to go back to left field as I despise the right field wall.
I got ball #4 off the bat of an unidentified Indians hitter. He hit a fly ball that landed on the warning track. I was in the fourth row back. Since it was a fly ball, it was going to take a high hop off the track. I got up on the bleacher and made the catch over two Indians fans who were also going for the same ball.
That’s all the action I got today.