Amy pointed out that I forgot to mention that we attended a Renaissance Festival over the weekend. Here’s a picture from that.
Shooting arrows was the highlight because I was surprisingly good at it. Anyone, this really doesn’t tie in at all, unless I made some weird caption like, “Erik Jabs aims for 413 as the season winds down, to break his 2nd best single season mark.”
The Cardinals are in town now and have been really stingy this year at tossing up baseballs, so I was going to need some luck today.
Upon running in, I spotted a ball in the front row. I ran over to snag it when out of no where a ticket seller who works at the windows on the first base side of the Honus Wagner statue shot out of his chair in the handicapped seats and raced down and grabbed the ball. He literally snatched it as I was closing in and not but five feet away from grabbing it. Nick Pelescak was right there too and might have grabbed it also. We both gave him a look like, “Are you serious?” He said he was going to give it to a little kid (even though he had already been there since God knows when and had a whole bag full of baseballs that he had already picked up from the hour of batting practice when there were no fans in the stadium). Nick started saying some stuff to him, and I’ll try and get his name and picture tomorrow. Anyhow, that ball was kind of important because it would end up costing me my first double digit game since June.
Then I went on a hit-ball snagging rampage from the end of the Pirates BP through the Cardinals BP. Every ball I snagged the rest of the day was a batted ball.
I caught a Pirates home run as I walked up the bleachers one after the other and made a pretty difficult clean catch here:
When the Cardinals came out, I snagged two Matt Holliday home runs within 20 second of one another. They may have been back to back.
One was a home run that landed on a staircase and stayed on the steps. I scrambled up the steps and grabbed it with my bare hand as another ballhawk reached for it a split second late with his glove.
The next pitch a ball landed about twelve rows up into the upper bleachers. I raced up and snagged it as a few other ballhawks raced after it
My fifth ball of the day was a home run that I picked up after it bounced off a bleacher. A young ballhawk who was maybe 10 years old tried to rip it from my glove, so after I had possession of it I asked if he’d gotten a ball yet. Nick Pelescak standing nearby said, “Yeah he got one already,” so the ultra aggressive young fan just walked away. There was a lot of random non-regulars there getting lots of baseballs today.
Ball #6 was really ridiculously lucky. A deep home run landed in the wheel chair section and as I was drifting over, it hit something and took a soft ricochet right at me. I snagged it immediately in the air. That was truly lucky.
I was later told by Nick that ball #6 was hit by Albert Pujols.
After spending an unsuccessful round in right field for a group of solely left handed hitters, I made my way back to left field and immediately snagged a ground rule double near the bullpen:
Immediately, I thought it would be pretty cool to get one more ball. I had gotten 8 balls on Saturday and Sunday, and wanted to continue that streak to three games.
By the way, look how EMPTY it was at 6 o’clock!
Anyhhow, ball #8 happened when Tony Cruz launched a deep fly ball that sailed way over my head. Realizing it was headed toward the rotunda. I just turned and ran underneath the rotunda, and when it started bouncing around the concourse, I tracked it down for ball #8.
For good measure, Cruz lifted another home run at the very end of batting practice that I caught right behind this lady’s head.
Amy and I had club seats for today’s game, but I didn’t feel like staying, even though I was on 9 balls and only needed one more for double digits. I sold the seats after we left the park, and then we went and got dinner and I went to the gym. I felt it was a better usage of my time than running all over the ballpark trying for one more ball. Plus, we plan on staying at tomorrow’s game as we have tickets in a section that I’ve never sat in before…
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 9 balls (8 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 390 balls (167 hit, 84 thrown, 87 device, 52 found)
Games: 72 games
Average: 5.42 per game
Career: 1,512 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 4 (maybe 5 if I do an away game next weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 23 (5.75 per game)
Since today is a Friday, I thought that it might by a little more difficult than the other two days this week, where I had snagged 8 and 10 balls.
The Cardinals can be a tricky team to deal with due to their hitting approach. Twice last year I only snagged one ball in games that the Pirates played the Cardinals. My best game against the Cardinals was a 9 ball performance on May 12, 2009. I would break that today.
My first ball was a Steve Pearce ground rule double that bounced over the fence and I caught in the second row. It was career ball #6-6-6. Hopefully the dubious distinction of being tied to that ball number doesn’t jinx Pearce in the big leagues.
Ball #2 was another ground rule double off the bat of Lastings Milledge, and ball #3 was a home run that I had to battle the sun for, and made the catch in the aisle way between section 136 and 137.
Near the end of the group, I got two balls within 10 seconds of each other. Both were from Lastings Milledge. He hit a home run that I caught on the fly, and as soon as I made the catch and started drifting back to my right to go to my spot, another home run was hit to my right. I sprinted over and picked the ball up as it was trickling down the bleachers.
The Pirates finished up at 5:26. The Cardinals began hitting.
I glove tricked ball #6 in left field, as none of the Cardinals’ shaggers had made it over to left field yet.
I then ran over to center field and found ball #7 in the center field seats.
I returned to left field and got a home run from an unknown Cardinals player . The ball hit two sections from the foul pole and ricocheted like a rocked directly at me. I actually caught the ball between my side and my forearm, as I didn’t have enough time to react. That was ball #8, and it was only 5:38, exactly half way through batting practice.
Would I be able to continue this pace and challenge the PNC Park Jabs/Pelescak record of 14.
Things slowed way down, as people started blocking off the rows, and limiting my range.
I did catch a Nick Stavinoha home run on the fly in section 137.
Game: 10 balls (8 hit, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 97 balls (61 hit, 16 thrown, 10 device, 11 found)
Games: 13 games
Average: 7.46 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 675 balls
Streak: 109 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
O.A.R. is in town playing a post game concert to coincide with fireworks set off from a barge on the river, the Clemente bridge, atop the scoreboard, and buildings across the river. Tonight was night two of the annual Skyblast Series, a popular Pirates promotion.
This game was the 700th game in the history of PNC Park, the seventh largest crowd in the history of PNC Park, and the largest ever Skyblast crowd. Additionally, it was the largest crowd of the 2009 season.
Luckily, the skies were threatening earlier in the day, keeping some fans away from batting practice. As a result, there were slightly less fans than attended yesterday.
Since it was a Saturday game, the gates opened a half hour earlier than during the week. I was in line by 3:30, and was the first one into the stadium. My plan was to get off to a big start by picking up a bunch of Easter Eggs. Another Saturday special perk is that the entire seating bowl is also open to season ticket holders, rather than just the left field bleachers. (Season Ticket holders are confined to left field only during weekdays).
I ran in and checked to lower bleachers. Nothing.
I hopped up the steps and checked the upper general admission bleachers. Nothing.
I ran over into foul territory and checked all of the upper and lower sections along the left field line. Nothing.
The only thing I did find was an old usher with a devilish wry smile on his face as I walked back up the stairs empty handed to return to left field. I had a feeling he had pocketed several balls, as I’ve personally seen him do so at previous games.
I was shut out for the first twenty minutes of batting practice. My plan to get on the board was to ask new Pirate Jose Ascanio for a ball in Spanish.
I moved down to the front row, waiting for Ascanio to snag a ball.
Soon, Andy LaRoche hit a line drive that carried fairly deep into the outfield. It hit on the grass and took a medium sized hop towards the wall, right where I was standing. I reacted and reached down over the wall and snagged ball #1. Unfortunately, Ascanio was about ten feet away watching. Now, I couldn’t ask him for a ball today, as he had just seen me snag one. I’ll have to save that request for another day.
I didn’t get another ball until near the very end of the Pirates batting practice. Many of the Pirates righties must’ve been watching the Cardinals take batting practice yesterday, because they took the exact same approach – trying to inside out every pitch to right field.
Luckily, Steve Pearce hit a towering home run towards me. I had to hobble over one section and just managed to snag the ball at the last second. After catching ball #2, I stumbled a bit and regained my balance by grabbing onto the bleacher back support. (My range is improving a bit. My back, which has ailed me for the last nine days, has felt markedly better since I started using a hydrocolater pad yesterday. I even went without my back brace today.)
Game: 5 balls (3 hit, 2 device)
Season: 260 balls (134 hit, 84 thrown, 42 device)
Games: 55 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.73 balls per game
Career: 426 balls
Streak: 70 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.