I woke up at 6:45 AM in Philadelphia, left my hotel about 7:20, and was in New York City just shy of two hours later. This was the first time I had driven to New York City, so I didn’t know the ins and outs of where to park, so I parked in a stadium lot for $19. I was the first car in the entire lot.
I took a few pictures of the exterior of Citi Field from the parking lot:
I told Capps that we missed him in Pittsburgh. When they finished up, Burnett had the ball and tossed me ball #5 on the day.
The Nationals batting practice was just brutal. Very few home runs were hit into the stands, and I ended batting practice with five balls.
At one point during the bore-fest, I took a video of the Nationals batting practice which you can view below: (at least the Mets have good taste in music)
The game began, and I went to my seat in the upper deck (after being kicked out of the section behind the Nationals dugout).
In the first inning, I saw one of the more exciting plays I’d seen in awhile. Josh Willingham hit a ball off the wall with the bases loaded. Immediately, I said, “That’s a grand slam.” In the upper deck, I could see the ball was clearly to the right of the home run line. The umpires missed the call, and we got an instant replay review.
Since the umpires let the play go, I got to see Adam Dunn bowl over the catcher, and then watch Willingham get thrown out trying to stretch the play into an in the park Grand Slam.
Of course, the umpires got the call right, and much to Mets’ fans dismay, Willingham was awarded his grand slam.
You can watch the play below if you’re into excited bases clearing hits:
After a couple innings, I went exploring and took a few pictures of the concourse:
View from the upper deck:
Walking towards the right field foul pole:
Right field corner concourse:
Walking towards the Shea Bridge, under the Pepsi deck in right field:
The Shea Bridge:
View from behind the center field seats:
Food court area behind the center field score board:
Under the left field deck:
Left field corner:
Main concourse behind home plate, near the Jackie Robinson rotunda:
And the pearl of Citi Field, the Jackie Robinson rotunda:
I only stayed about half of the game, because I needed to try and get home before 10 PM, as I had to be up for work the next day.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 17 balls (10 hit, 2 thrown, 5 device)
Games: 4 games
Average: 4.25 balls per game
Career: 595 balls
Streak: 100 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 4 games: 17 balls
Thanks to the G20, I was off work today. If I had to work, I wouldn’t have been able to attend this game. Since I’m on a quest to get 400 balls – I decided to add a bonus game to my ledger today. The plan was to attend today’s game, and leave and drive to Cleveland for a nightcap.
After snagging 14 balls yesterday, I was hoping to hit double digits again between these two games.
Once again, Pittsburgh was a military zone. Check out this scene right outside PNC Park:
When I got in line, I was shocked to see that I was about 15th-20th in line, even though I had arrive a half hour early. Autograph seekers were there bright and early because Thursdays are alumni autograph days at PNC Park.
10:30 rolled around and the gates should’ve opened, but it didn’t. The Pirates were taking extra precautions, and had to wait for the head security guy to come help set up tables. Upset at the lost time, I noticed that the Trib Total Media Hall of Fame club line was slowly moving. I ran down there to get in. After emptying my pockets into a container and being throroughly wanded my a Pittsburgh Police officer, I was let in.
Despite being 20th in line at the outset, I was the first one into the left field bleachers. There was nothing going on. No batting practice today.
Eventually, Daniel McCutchen came out to throw with Herbie Andrade.
When they were finished, Herbie (shown in the upper right) – turned and threw the ball directly at me. It was a little high, so I had to hop up to make the catch of ball #1.
and started rolling through the aisle to the left. The ball rolled an entire section, and I was in hot pursuit. Unfortunately, I got blocked off by a railing. The ball came to a rest no less than four feet from me, but the railing was blocking me. I hesitated for a split second, deciding if I should dive over the railing. The hesitation cost me the ball, as a man ran back and grabbed the ball.
I left the game after the 3rd inning to head to Cleveland. I wanted to get there at 3:30, so
I could be first in line…..
Game: 4 balls (3 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 379 balls (200 hit, 115 thrown, 64 device)
Games: 77 games (9 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.92 balls per game
Career: 545 balls
Streak: 92 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 15,892 (again, 2,000-3,000 in attendance)
Race for 400 in 2009: Need 21 in 4 games, 5.25 per game
I hadn’t been to a game since last Thursday, a span of 9 days had passed since I snagged my last baseball.
After missing Friday’s game, I was back in action today.
Batting practice was just beginning when I entered at 4:30, so there were no Easter Eggs to be found. However, there was a ball laying on the warning track near the bullpen.
As I started to set up my glove trick, a Pirates batter lofted a fly ball at my section. My glove was off of my hand. I dropped my glove to the ground. I realized the ball would fall short, so I hopped over a bleacher to get into a better position. The ball bounced on the warning track, hit the fence separating the bleachers from the bullpen, and caromed right to me. I caught the ball with my bare hands on the bounce. It was ball #1.
I then turned my attention back to the ball on the warning track. I had lost my rubber band when I was running into the bleachers (it fell off of my glove) and was working with a replacement rubber band that I didn’t have a feel for. Every rubber band is different and needs adjusted appropriately. After two readjustments, I reeled up the ball. However, as I was bringing it in, the glove hit to wall and the ball fell out. Great. Now the ball was partially under neath some padding and I would have to work more to get the ball. As I was making my second attempt, I was surrounded by groundskeepers.
I ended up finally getting the ball in the right spot so I could reel it in. It was ball #2. The groundskeepers thought the trick was really cool and asked a few questions about how it was done.
I got ball #3 tossed to me by Matt Capps.
Game: 6 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 343 balls (181 hit, 101 thrown, 61 device)
Games: 70 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.90 balls per game
Career: 509 balls
Streak: 85 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
There isn’t much to write about.
Today was a Saturday and was Nate McLouth All Star bobblehead. The biggest crowd since opening day was expected. Here’s the view from General Robinson and Federal Street.
The Pirates made an alteration to their batting practice gate opening starting today. The gates still opened at 4:30 on Saturday, but center field and right field didn’t open until 5:30 PM, meaning all fans wanting to see batting practice would have to cram into 6 rows across 7 bleacher section in left field. Not good.
I got ball #1 from Matt Capps during the season ticket holder only portion of batting practice. That was it for the day. I got robbed twice by fans who were standing a row ahead of me. Had they not been there, I would’ve made the catches easily.
I made my first glaring error of the season. I had to jump for a home run ball, but I barely got off the ground. It hit my glove and some other fan got it. Rule of ballhawking, if a ball hits your glove, you should come away with the ball.
Left field was getting way to crowded, so I headed over to center field when it opened up. I still got shut out. None of the Rockies pitchers were showing me any love. Not surprising, since I got blacklisted yesterday by a jealous ballhawk snitch who told the Rockies I change my clothes to get more balls.
I tried for a ball at the bullpen and in the first inning from Nate McLouth. No luck.
Then, the rains came. The game was delayed for an hour and 37 minutes.
Game: 1 Ball (1 thrown)
Season: 119 Balls (51 hit, 54 thrown, 14 device)
Games: 23 games (20 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 5.17 Balls per Game
Career: 285 Balls
Throughout the day, I thought for sure that batting practice would be canceled. It was raining this morning when I left for work. Raining when I went to lunch. Raining when I left work. Drizzling when I left for the game. So, imagine my surprise when I walked past the left field gates and saw the screens and cage being set up. (The Pirates needed the extra BP after not hitting a home run in more than a week and getting shut out yesterday).
Upon entering the stadium, there was one Easter Egg ball, but another ballhawk got to it first. The Pirates portion of batting practice was slow for me. I got ball #1 when Jason Jaramillo tossed me a baseball before the Pirates finished up at 5:15. Jaramillo was very gracious to all three regular ballhawks in attendance, hooking us each up with a ball.
A few action shows:
Paul Maholm deals:
Yovani Gallardo to Nyjer Morgan:
Gallardo throws a pitch:
After Matt Capps blew the save and gave up 4 runs in the 9th, I went to the Pirates dugout. (the Pirates lost their SIXTEENTH game in a row to the Brewers).
I usually get shut out at the dugout, having only received one ball there this year before today. The umpire, Bob Davidson came off the field and tossed me a really nice rubbed up game ball. Ball #7.
Not a bad night after all.
Here’s today’s balls:
And the sweet spots: (the 4th ball from the pitcher in center had MVP written on it)
The umpire ball is at the front and center.
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 5 thrown)
Season: 74 balls (28 hit, 39 thrown, 7 device)
Games: 15 games (12 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 4.93 balls per game
Career: 240 balls
I had several things working in my favor today.
1) The Penguins had a playoff game at the same time the Pirates had their game today. This would lead to drastically reduced attendance figures.
2) The weather forecast was menacing. With dark clouds and some rain showers moving through around 4 PM. Rain tends to keep folks at home also.
3) It was a weekday game. The Pirates do not draw on well on weekday night games.
4) There was only one other decent ballhawk in attendance.
5) I had plenty of space in my backpack.
I got to the stadium around 4:15PM and was second in line. When the gates opened, I was the second into the bleachers. I went over to my spot in left center field and hoped for a home run to come. A Pirates batter drove a ball to left center field. There were maybe four people there for the first ten minutes, so I ranged far to my left towards the bullpen. The ball skipped off the bullpen wall. Oh well. I walked back and looked down. I saw a speck of white under a bleacher. A ball was lying tucked up against the concrete step and a bleacher support. It was well hidden, but not anymore. I reached down and picked up ball #1.
Craig Monroe was the next batter. He hit a drive to deep left center. The ball hit off a bleacher and bounced back onto the field. Matt Capps walked over and picked it up. I called out for the ball and Capps flipped it to me. I had ball #2, and #199 of my career.
The Pirates ended their BP at 5:10. I had two balls after 10 minutes. Not bad. The Marlins came out to take Batting Practice. I changed into the Marlins gear that I wore yesterday. Coach Bo Porter came out with a bat and started hitting line drives off the wall so Brett Carroll could get a read on how to play the richochets. Bo’s second hit was a hard line drive that cleared the wall. It literally almost took out two ushers who were standing in the aisle cleaning the water off the seats. I didn’t get that ball, but moved over to the spot that Bo was hitting the ball so I could snag one if he hit it over the wall again. Porter started hitting hard grounders at the wall, wary of what he had just done minutes early. After Porter and Carroll were done playing balls off the wall, I asked Brett Carroll for the ball. He briefly glanced at me and saw my Marlins gear and tossed me ball #3, and #200 of my ballhawking career.
The first group of Marlins weren’t hitting many home runs, so I tried to get some more baseballs from the pitchers. I received ball #4 from an unidentified Marlin.
Can anyone help me out? I got his attention and asked for the ball. He looked at me and waved. I asked him one more time for the ball in case he didn’t hear the first time. He then flipped the ball up to me.
Another ball rolled to the wall and Renyel Pinto walked over to pick it up.
I made my way over to the bullpen area. There was a ball laying in the Pirates bullpen. It was directly below me, about 5 feet out from the wall. The ball was laying in a groove of dirt between the grass and a green carpet walkway. It was in an indention of about maybe an inch or less. I wanted to try the glove trick but I didn’t want to struggle with it. It would’ve been hard to bat the ball closer to the wall with the glov
e to begin with because of the groove it was in. Also, the main security office is directly behind the bullpen with large windows. I felt I was being watched. I didn’t want to risk it so I waited for someone to come out to the bullpen. I waited for about 20 minutes until finally Jason Jaramillo and Joe Kerrigan came out to remove the bullpen tarp and get ready for Jeff Karsten’s warm up. I asked Jaramillo first for the ball, but was ignored. I then asked Joe Kerrigan and he picked the ball up, looked up to see who asked, and flipped me the ball. It was ball #8 on the day, and a new personal one day record for me.
I decided to try for double digits, and stadium domination. I asked John Baker for his warm up ball in center field before the game, but I don’t think he heard me.
The game then began. I stood in center field for most of the game. My plan was to try and get the outfielders’ warm up balls.
This was my view. (picture was taken in about the 4th inning – notice the empty seats!)
Before the first inning began, I found a fairly empty section in center field and stood with my glove ready, awaiting Nate McLouth’s warm up ball.
When he was done tossing with Brandon Moss, Nate turned and threw me his warm up ball. It was ball #9.
I continued to roam the outfield in hopes of catching a home run ball or another warm up ball. I snapped a few more pictures of random things, like Pittsburgh at night.
In the 4th inning, I decided to try for a Marlins warm up ball.
I walked over to this unknown pitcher
and asked for a warm up ball when he was done throwing. He looked at me, saw my Marlins T-shirt and threw me ball #10. Reynel Pinto whistled at me and called me over to the bullpen. I thought he was going to scold me because I heard him telling someone earlier in batting practice, “You already got one!” I walked over and talked to him through the chain link fence.
“Aren’t you cold man?” He said. I told him I was, but I’d be alright. I wanted to show my Marlins shirt off. “You’re crazy man, this weather is terrible.” I thought about asking him for a Marlins bullpen jacket, but that would’ve been a ridiculous request.
I was now 1 ball away from the PNC Park record for most balls in one game (as known to me). A ballhawk with initials MG got 11 balls on 9/20/08 last year, the last batting practice of the regular season. I would’ve liked to tie or beat him, as I was getting dissed earlier in the day by the same ballhawk.
I went over to the right field wall in the 6th inning.
It was Brandon Moss’ turn to throw. He threw the ball to the cluster of fans seated to the left of the foul pole, near the top of the section. None of them had a glove. I was standing half way up in the second section to the left of the foul ball. The ball hit off someone’s hands, and bounced two rows down and rolled right to my feet. I picked it up for ball #11.
I didn’t get any more warm up balls, so come the 9th inning, I was forced to decide to go to the Marlins dugout, or the Pirates dugout. I decided to try my luck at the Marlins dugout, since I had been shutout every single game this homestand at the Pirates’ one. No luck. The Marlins weren’t in the mood to toss anything up after losing their second consecutive game to the Pirates.
No matter. I had set a new personal record for balls in one day, and bounced back from my 2 ball performance yesterday in a big way.
Some pictures of the balls:
Game: 11 balls (2 hit, 9 thrown)
Season: 42 balls (15 hit, 21 thrown, 6 device)
Games: 9 games (7 with BP, 2 without)
Average: 4.67 balls per game
Career: 208 balls
Happy Easter everyone!
My friend Joe and I went to Great American Ball Park today.
It was an afternoon game, so I was worried that batting practice would be canceled. We waited in line for about 10 minutes to get in. At 11:40, when the gates opened, I rushed to left field. The Pirates were taking batting practice!
I was the first one there, but the stadium ushers must have picked up all of the Easter Eggs, because there were none to be found. Yesterday’s starter Paul Maholm was alone in left field. I shouted to him to congratulate him on his great start yesterday. I then asked for a ball. He looked up and threw me a ball. His aim was off and it was wide and to my left. It tipped off my glove and landed a row behind me. Luckily, there was still no one around, so I turned around and picked it up. It was ball #1. I asked Matt Capps, John Grabow, and Tyler Yates for balls in left center field, but was ignored. I didn’t feel like pestering them, so I found an open aisle about 6 rows back that wasn’t being blocked by those long railings I mentioned in Friday’s entry.
Freddy Sanchez soon launched a deep fly ball to left. It was right at me, in the center of the section. However, it was sailing over my head. I hate it when this happens. I don’t have latitudinal range, and get stuck. It happens often at PNC Park. The ball landed about 5 rows back, so I had to climb over the chairs to beat some Reds fan there by a split second. It was ball #2.
Game: 5 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 8 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown)
Average: 4.0 balls/game (8 balls/2 games)
Career: 174 balls