Today was a Sunday game, so batting practice is never guaranteed. However, when I walked past the Left Field gate, I peeked in and saw the screens were set up. It looked like BP would take place after all.
I entered the stadium at 11 AM. The Pirates do not open the stadium 30 minutes early for season ticket holders on Sunday like they do on Monday-Saturday. Therefore, I was stuck on the Riverwalk until 11:30. I was able to watch Todd Wellemeyer pitch his side session in the Cardinals bullpen. After he was done, I shouted down “Could you please toss that ball up?” He tossed it over the 8 foot high screen fence and over me and the crowd of 10 people watching him warm up. Luckily, when he threw it, I knew from the trajectory that it was going to overshoot every one, so I broke back, and fielded the ball as it was rolling on the concrete. It was ball #1.
Around 11:40, the Cardinals decided to take batting practice – Supposedly because batting practice had been cancelled on Friday and Saturday. The Cardinals are never a very good batting practice team for me. They do not hit many home runs. Near the end of their batting practice, I snagged a home run ball in the air. I think it was hit by Brendan Ryan, but I am not positive. It was ball #2 of the day. More importantly, it was ball #111 of the season at PNC Park.
Since the beginning of the season, I had my sights on legendary ball hawk Jim Saylor’s mark of 110. I had a great April and May, routinely getting 4-6 balls per day. However, the summer was rough on me, as I probably averaged around 2 balls or less per batting practice. I had begin to worry that I wouldn’t break his record. It felt good to finally not have to worry about 110 anymore.
Jim is probably the main reason I got into going to batting practice. I went to a couple in 2007 and watched this 50-60 year old man, working without a glove, regularly snag seemingly 4-5 balls per game. I was also taken about by his dedication and enthusiasm for snagging baseballs. I caught my first batting practice ball on the fly from Sammy Sosa when the Pirates were playing the Rangers in June 2007. From then, I was hooked.
Game: 2 balls
Season: 116 balls
Career: 154 balls
Hit List: #4,045th place all time – tied with Kim Batiste
Attendance: 18,994 (49.5% full)