I was back at PNC Park after a weekend trip to Washington State, and I was out of the swing of things, as I got zero balls during the Pirates portion of batting practice.
At 5:30, I went to center field to look for easter eggs, but there were none. Upon entering the section however, an unidentified Braves player hit a home run into the seats. I had seen the ball land from about eighty feet away as I was on my way into the center field sections, but couldn’t find the ball. Luckily, one of the ushers directed me to the spot, and I found the ball laying in the front row in a little puddle of water.
I decided to stay in center field because the group that was hitting included Jason Heyward (behind cage in picture below) and Rick Ankiel.
Game: 5 balls ( 4 hit, 1 thrown )
Season: 508 balls (247 hit, 117 thrown, 72 device, 72 found)
Games: 79 games
Average: 6.43 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,086 balls
Streak: 175 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls needed to break single season record: 36
I didn’t feel like going through another toilsome batting practice in Cleveland, and storms were in the forecast there, so I drove down to Washington DC.
Two other ballhawks were in attendance at this game – Ian Weir from Pittsburgh, and Alex from New York City.
When the gates opened, the Nationals were just beginning to hit, so there weren’t any easter eggs.
I caught ball #1 on the fly off the bat of Wil Nieves. It was a home run that was caught in this area:
During the second group, I won a scrum for a Ryan Zimmerman home run ball that landed two rows in front of me in this area:
That would be all I would get during the Nationals batting practice. Argh. Did I make the wrong choice by coming to DC?
The Braves first group included Jason Heyward
You’re not allowed to go get those balls, as one kid began climbing over the rail, before a security guard angrily yelled at him. I motioned with my glove and string as if to say, “Is it ok if I throw this out there.” The security guard made the non-verbal signal, “Oh yeah, go ahead.”
I flipped the kid a decoy ball and then threw my glove out and nudged ball #8 close enough to the glass so that I could simply reach other and grab it. It took one fling of the glove.
I was about ready to leave the red seats to go check the left field bullpen when yet another home run landed in the gap in front of the red seats.
I glove tricked that ball for ball #9.
Batting practice ended soon after, and I was stuck on 9 balls – just short of double digits.
I really wanted to hit the road, but there were three balls laying in
After standing and talking with Alex for about 20 minutes, Eddie Perez finally came out to the bullpen. He collected the three balls, and I asked him for a ball in Spanish. He ignored me. I continued in Spanish to say, “There’s also one in the flowers over there near the wall.”
Eddie went over and got it and tossed it up to me. Ball #10.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 10 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 5 device)
Season: 347 balls (177 hit, 76 thrown, 41 device, 44 found)
Games: 54 games
Average: 6.43 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 925 balls
Streak: 150 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Today was a tough day for all ballhawks in attendance at PNC Park. There weren’t too many home runs, and of the home runs that were hit, most were to right field and either bounced back on the field, or were gobbled up by fans in the front row.
I was flat out robbed twice by fans in the front row. One by a 50 year old who was in the front row and jumped to make the catch, inches in front of my waiting glove, and another by a college kid who was a row ahead of me and caught a home run barehanded about two inches in front of my glove. In both cases, there was nothing that I could’ve done differently, as I was behind them.
On to the balls that I did snag.
My first ball of the day was a home run off the bat of Steve Pearce. I misjudged the ball a bit. I moved down a row, and barely made a snow cone catch, as I should’ve just stayed put.
My second ball of the day was off the bat of another Pirate. I’m not sure of the hitter, but they lofted a high fly ball towards left center. I could tell it would be short, so rather than getting into a scrum in the front row, I ran back a few rows to about the fifth row back. The ball landed on the warning track and took a 20 foot high bounce and directly into my glove.
The Pirates wrapped things up at 5:20, a little earlier than recently.
Game: 5 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 127 balls (79 hit, 26 thrown, 9 device, 13 found)
Games: 18 games
Average: 7.06 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 705 balls
Streak: 114 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.