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:
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 was looking forward to my first ever trip to Camden Yards. I should’ve known that something was up though because before leaving, I filled up my half empty gas tank with 6.66 gallons of gas. Not good.
This was not a good sign for batting practice.
The gates opened and I ran into right field first. It would be the last time I would run for somewhile. There was me and some other guy in the section. I long home run was hit within the first minute. It landed about 10 rows behind me, closer to the other guy. He ran to get the ball. I also ran to get the ball. We both ran to where the ball had landed but couldn’t find it. I then noticed some movement under the seats. It was rolling down the stairs under the seats. It was two rows ahead of me. I attempted to stradle a row of chairs to get to it quickly. The drop must’ve been more than I expected because my foot landed awkwardly and immediately rolled over. I went down like a pile of bricks. The other guy saw what happened and ran over and snatched the ball. I was in a lot of pain. I had to sit down for a couple minutes. I tried to stand up but couldn’t walk. My ankle was in bad shape. Should I go home or continue on?
I toughed it out and limped over to left field. Since I had season tickets for this game, I had an extra 30 minutes with only season ticket holders. There were a few balls hit out, but I had absolutely no range. Usually I can cover at least one full section to my left or right to chase a home run. Now? Maybe 2-3 seats either way. A home run landed near me, but I wasn’t able to get to it in time. Some teenager ran over and grabbed it and screamed “It’s mine!!!” and started celebrating like he had caught Joe Carter’s 1993 Game 7 World Series walk off home run. I really wasn’t in the mood.
Several minutes later another home run hit and bounced diagonally directly to me. I bent over gingerly and picked up ball #1.
Right before the stadium opened to the general public, another home run was hit. It was directly at me. I barely had to move. I caught the home run on the fly.&
nbsp; It was ball #2.
The Rangers must have been having their own Home Run Derby competition, because it was insane the amount of home runs they were hitting, and how far they were hitting them. Josh Hamilton hit one over the batter’s eye, and peppered a few more off of it. He was also hitting opposite field shots into the left field seats. Balls were landed a good 25 rows back.
I wasn’t able to get anything though.
I went over to center field to check out the bullpens. There was 10 balls sitting in the grassy area to the right of the bullpens beneath the batters eye. I met and chatted with another ballhawk who said that the pitching coach usually comes out and tosses the balls up. There was one ball at the very back that was about 10 feet out. However, it was a big drop between the seats and the grassy area against the batters eye. I would’ve used the glove trick, but I figured I’d save myself the aggravation and just wait for the pitching coach.
An Orioles bullpen catcher came out and started getting the balls. Myself and the other ballhawk asked politely for the balls. He totally ignored us. He gathered all of the balls, most if not all were hit by Texas Rangers, and put them in the ball bag. I’m real sure that pitchers want to warm up with balls that were crushed 420+ feet. No wonder the Orioles lost today.
I ended up leaving the game in the 4th inning as I noticed a huge bulge in my sock. My ankle was swollen really bad. After sitting down for a few innings, I could barely even walk. I made it to the outside of the stadium and flagged down a taxi to take me back to my hotel room.
I snapped this picture in the mirror of the balls I caught today. I wasn’t happy.
I had tickets for Sunday’s game, but found a buyer for them. They came and picked up the tickets on Sunday morning at my hotel. There was just no way I could go to the game. I’m at home now, and can’t put any substantial weight on my ankle without pain.
Hopefully my ankle can heal enough so I can get to some games this week.
Game: 2 Balls (2 hit)
Season: 50 Balls (19 hit, 25 thrown, 6 device)
Games: 11 Games (9 with BP, 2 without)
Average: 4.55 Balls per Game
Career: 216 Balls