Today was the last night game of the year, and Steve Miller Band was playing a concert after the game, so there would be a sell-out crowd on hand tonight. However, since there was some big cheerleading competition going on outside of PNC Park, there wasn’t a large crowd for most of batting practice.
I came into the game needing seven balls to get 418 and make my 2011 campaign a top 5 all time ballhawking season. Sure, it isn’t any close to the 544 I snagged last year, but its a small consolation prize.
Things got off really slowly for me, and I only snagged one ball within the first half hour of batting practice. That was a Pedro Alvarez opposite field home run that landed three rows back and took a giant hop into the upper bleachers, which I scrambled up the steps and grabbed.
My second ball of the day was glove tricked near the end of Pirates BP by the bullpen door.
Near the end of batting practice, things were going so poorly for me that I completely ditched left field and headed over into foul territory on the first base line as some Reds had come out to warm up.
There, I got who I think was Jared Burton to toss me ball #3 of the day after he finished his warm up tosses.
In the meantime, I noticed that Joey Votto was signing autographs near the dugout. I never ever go for autographs – I got only one other one this year – Ryan Vogelsong – but I figured that this was a former MVP and that his autograph was worth something. I got Votto to sign the sweet spot of a nice clean extra ball that I brought with me.
My fourth ball came a bit later as a pitcher airmailed Devin Mesoraco. I picked it up and offered it back, by holding it up, but they already had a second ball and picked up immediately where they left off as if they never even lost the ball, so I put it away in my bookbag.
My fifth ball came from Edinson Volquez, sort of. He caught the ball and rolled it towards the wall as if to get rid of it. I walked over and reached far over the railing and grabbed it. Then I held it up to see if Volquez or his teammates wanted it back. They could’ve cared less, as they were talking.
At 5:30, I searched the right field wall for Easter Eggs and found one.
It was ball #6 of the day, and #417 of the season, tying Nick Pelescak’s 2010 mark.
I then returned to left field and got a toss up from Dave Sappelt.
He retrieved a ball from the wall and then tossed it up into the crowd. I was in the second row, and it was right to me, just over the heads in the front row, much to the dismay of some 20 year old in the front row.
My 8th and final ball of the day was a clean catch of a Brandon Phillips home run ball. I caught that one in the second row, and it caused some controversy with another fan. The ball ticked off the fan in the McCutchen jersey’s glove and right into mine. It sounded like a foul tip being caught by the catcher.
Well, he thought I robbed him, even though I was a row behind him, and he kept giving me sour looks throughout the rest of BP, and talking to his friends and gesturing in my direction. Oh, and he’s not a little kid despite his tiny frame (its tough to tell from that pic)- he’s probably at least 20, and he already had a ball in his hand, so don’t feel bad.
Game: 8 balls (2 hit, 4 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 419 balls (175 hit, 92 thrown, 88 device, 57 found)
Games: 77 games
Average: 5.44 per game
Career: 1,541 balls
It was another great day at PNC Park for me.
Ball #1 was off the bat of Andy LaRoche. It was a ground rule double that I snagged on the hop.
My second and third balls were off the bat of Lastings Milledge. The second ball was a home run that I snagged after it bounced off a handicap seat, and the third was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence right next to the foul pole.
There was no pitchers in the outfield today, which was good. They see the regulars get many home run balls and refuse to toss balls to us. Delwyn Young was patrolling left field today, and I got him to toss me ball #4.
That was it for me. I should’ve stayed as Ronny Cedeno hit a home run that bounced onto the lowest rung of the Left Field Rotunda. I would’ve defi
nitely snagged that ball, as I’m used to running up the ramp from my experience in batting practice.
There was probably less than 5,000 people that actually attended the game as there was a Penguins playoff game.
Here’s today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 11 balls (8 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 113 balls (69 hit, 23 thrown, 10 device, 12 found)
Games: 15 games
Average: 7.53 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 691 balls
Streak: 111 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I ran in and found ball #1 laying against a concrete step in the bleacher area. I was shocked. Lately, there have been very few Easter Eggs, as ushers have been picking them up.
I would go on to catch ball #2 off the bat of Brian Bixler. He hit a line drive that bounced on the warning track, and right into my glove. The next batter, Jason Jaramillo, hit a home run that I caught on the fly. It was ball #3.
That was it for the Pirates portion of batting practice. I went under the bleachers, changed my clothes, and emerged in my Reds gear.
I decided to re-enter the bleacher area over by the bullpen. That way, it would be less noticeable if any Reds players had previously seen me standing in my customary spot.
Game: 6 balls (6 hit)
Season: 311 balls (161 hit, 91 thrown, 59 device)
Games: 64 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.86 balls per game
Career: 477 balls
Streak: 79 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I got into line at 3:30 (an hour before the gates were to open), and was the 8th person in the stadium. I was the third one into the bleachers. There were 2 easter eggs, but another ballhawk got them first.
About 10 minutes or so passed with no action. I noticed a ball roll directly to the fence where the stands jut out towards the foul line in left field. I decided to vacate my spot and go grab the ball. I ran up the escalator to the main concourse, and then down the stairs and reached over the fence and grabbed ball #1. Then, I immediately went back to the bleachers. I snapped this picture when I returned to the bleacher area to illustrate where the ball was. (The small yellow X)
Game: 6 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 64 balls (26 hit, 31 thrown, 7 device)
Games: 13 games (11 with BP, 2 without)
Average: 4.92 balls per game
Career: 230 balls