Today got off to a really slow start. I didn’t snag my first ball until near the end of Pirates batting practice.
Lastings Milledge hit a home run that ended up in the upper bleachers. As I ran up to get it, another ball narrowly missed hitting me on my way up the stairs. I continued up the stairs to snag ball #1.
At the end of Pirates BP, Ross Ohlendorf tossed me ball #2.
That was all I got from the Pirates in the first 30 minutes. A bit frustrating.
Not long after the Brewers started hitting, Rickie Weeks hit a home run ball that was directly in the sun. I tracked the ball most of the way, but lost it at the last second. Luckily, the ball landed right next to me in the front row. Another ballhawk inexplicably threw his glove at the ball, which missed and ended up on the field, so I was able to dodge the glove and snag ball #3. It had the number ‘8’ written on it.
I used the glove trick to snag ball #4 near the bullpen.
A ball had settled up against the wall and made for an easy snag. All I had to do was make sure Marcus Hanel, who despises the glove trick, wasn’t watching.
I left after the third inning as I still needed to get to the gym and it was already almost 8:30pm.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 9 balls (4 hit, 2 device, 3 thrown)
Season: 304 balls (160 hit, 70 thrown, 31 device, 43 found)
Games: 47 games
Average: 6.47 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 882 balls
Streak: 143 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The Brewers were in town, which is a good thing. The Brewers and Reds are my two favorite BP teams, as they put a good deal of balls into the seats.
Also in town was Milwaukee’s top ballhawk, The Happy Youngster. If you’re not familiar with him, you can read his blog here. Happy came in third place in the ballhawk league last year with 372 balls.
I had to exchange some tickets for games that I wasn’t going to attend, so I left early for the stadium – I ended up being first in line.
The first group for the Pirates produced nothing. They were all lefties except for Andy LaRoche – who rarely if ever hits home runs anymore in BP.
When the Pirates final group came up containing the likes of Jose Tabata, Lastings Milledge, Ronny Cedeno and Neil Walker – I was ready.
I got ball #3 of the day from Cedeno. It was a high fly ball that landed on the warning track and bounced over the wall. I was three rows deep and got up on the bleacher.
Game: 8 balls (5 hit, 1 device, 2 found)
Season: 295 balls (156 hit, 67 thrown, 29 device, 43 found)
Games: 46 games
Average: 6.41 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 873 balls
Streak: 142 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
My first game of the week didn’t go so well. I would come away with a decent number of balls, but I felt out of position on many balls and it seemed like there were at least a half dozen balls that I should’ve had that just bounced the wrong way.
Shortly after entering the stadium, I grabbed a ground rule double and was on the board. Near the end of the Pirates portion of batting practice, Herbie Andrade, the Pirates bullpen catcher, began hitting us pop flies.
However, he was hitting them backwards as he was facing the field. It caused for the balls to have a vicious top spin that would carry the balls back toward the field. One of his hits was a high fly that I camped under. It should’ve been an extremely easy catch, but I underestimated the spin and completely missed it. Embarrassing.
Herbie’s final hit as he was walking off the field fell short of the stands and nestled up against the left field wall, so I glove tricked it for my second ball of the day.
When the Brewers came out, I got Mitch Stetter to toss me my third ball of the day.
Stetter looked at me and said something to Marco Estrada, who turned and looked. I figured that maybe they had seen me changing into Brewers gear under the bleachers. However, he tossed me that ball I had mentioned a few moments later, so maybe he said, “Hey look, there’s an actual Brewers fan in spite of our 9 game losing streak,” rather than something sarcastic.
At 5:30, I found my fourth ball of the day in the center field stands, and it had a phrase on it. It said, “Get R Done.”
The Brewers are known to write witty phrases on their balls every now and then.
Annoying, they kept reading them and passing them around to each other to read rather than toss them in the crowd.
I went right back to left field after finding my fourth ball and got a home run that landed in a large trash push cart underneath the Left Field Rotunda.
Game: 7 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 122 balls (75 hit, 25 thrown, 9 device, 13 found)
Games: 17 games
Average: 7.18 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 700 balls
Streak: 113 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The day didn’t start off on the right foot, as I was a few minutes late to batting practice. Fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak already had seven balls by the time I entered the stadium. Amazing.
I had some work to do to catch up, as we began the week tied atop the standings of the Ballhawk League (BHL).
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge have been hitting in the last group of Pirates. So, for the 10-15 minutes that we get to see the Pirates hit, at least there’s some right handed semi-power hitters in the group.
I got ball #1 off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. It was a home run that landed in an empty section to my right that I ran over and grabbed.
Soon after, Lastings Milledge hit a ball onto the Rotunda that I ran up the ramp to snag as it slowly rolled down towards me. That would be it for the Pirates portion.
Luckily, the Brewers have been good to me lately. I changed into my Brewers gear.
And then would get started on a nice roll in an empty park.
“I’d better get my glove on,” I thought. No less than seconds after I had my glove on my
hand, Duke delivered his second pitch of the game. Weeks hit a slicing fly ball foul, directly at me. I immediately stood up and went into ballhawk mode. I took several steps to my left and made the clean catch on the fly. It was my first foul ball since snagging my first last year on September 23, 2009.
Upon catching the ball I did a fist bump and a little bit of celebration, which must have caught the eye of Tim Neverett and Bob Walk, who commented on the catch. It was also enough to get FSN to cut back to me.
Someone in the Pirates brass must have seen the catch, because moments later I was approached by a Pirates representative with a mic in hand. He introduced himself, congrulated me on my catch, and explained that he would like to invite me to be on the PNC Park game show “Know Your Buccos,” at the end of the second inning.
As instructed, I went over in the middle of the second and chatted with Joe Klimchak, who explained the game that I would be participating in. Basically, four ‘fun’ facts about a Pirate are presented, and the participant must eliminate the false answer.
When we went live, Joe introduced me, telling the crowd about the foul ball I had just snagged, and explained how I could win the fabulous prize (a $65 Pirates sweatshirt.)
I had to figure out which of the following facts were false regarding Ronny Cedeno:
I knew the Vizquel fact was probably true, given they are both Dominican. I also figured that Old School sounded like a type of movie that a man of Cedeno’s age would enjoy. I was torn between the First Job and the name of his cat.
I thought it over and just thought, “Who would name their cat Meow?” “Come here Meow… that would just sound stupid.” So I eliminated the cat named Meow.
After a few pressure filled seconds, it was revealed that Ronny does not have a cat named Meow, I had eliminated the false answer, and won the $65 jacket.
If you’d like to check out a video of my Know Your Buccos spot, you can check out the youtube link below.
I went back to my seat and watched the rest of the game, glove in hand.
Lightning wouldn’t strike twice. Would it?
Well it did.
Andrew McCutchen came up to bat in the fifth inning.
He fouled off a pitch in the same spot as the Week’s foul ball. I shot up out of my chair immediately when I saw the angle the ball took off the bat. This time, the ball was dying on me. It didn’t quite reach me, as it was about a row and a half ahead of me. I reached down and got it to hit my glove and knocked it into the row directly below me. I would liken the play to a catcher smothering a ball in the dirt. The ball came to a dead stop and I picked up my second foul ball of the day. Amazing.
Would I go on to catch my thirteenth ball of the night? A third foul ball in the game?
It was certainly empty enough for it to happen, as the Pirates were getting blown out, and the weather had turned cold.
There’s probably more fans at high school baseball games, but that’s Pittsburgh on week nights for you. Low, low attendance, especially after 10PM, like it was in the picture above.
I would end the night with those two foul balls, a sweatshirt, twelve total balls snagged, and probably the best ballhawking performance of my career.
Game: 12 balls (10 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 51 balls (34 hit, 7 thrown, 6 device, 4 found)
Games: 8 games
Average: 6.38 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 2
Career: 629 balls
Streak: 104 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 8 games: 31 (Currently I am 20 balls ahead of last year’s career high season pace)
I needed to rebound after driving 4 hours to Washington and only getting three balls, despite a full BP. My redemption would come today.
I arrived at the stadium a few minutes before the gates opened. Although there were no easter eggs that I could find, I did end up getting on the board rather quickly.
My first and second balls that I snagged were off the bat of Jason Jaramillo. The first hit a bleacher, and I ran over and picked up, and the second was a ground rule double that bounced to me over the fence.
For whatever reason, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge were hitting in the last group today. Typically, the last group is reserved for light-hitting backups. If this trend continues, it could be very good, considering there are very few folks at BP early, and both players have home run power.
Anyhow, that was it for Pirates BP. Two balls.
The Brewers came out, and I was hoping for some action. Unfortunately, most Brewers were wearing their warm up jerseys,
so I couldn’t identify many batters, except for obvious ones like Prince Fielder, Craig Counsell or Corey Hart.
Game: 12 balls (8 hit, 3 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 39 balls (24 hit, 6 thrown, 5 device, 4 found)
Games: 7 games
Average: 5.57 balls per game
Career: 617 balls
Streak: 103 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 7 games: 29 (Currently I am 10 balls ahead of last year’s career high season)
It was a terrible weekend in terms of ballhawking for me. I had to miss the Friday and Saturday games at PNC Park due to coaching. I could’ve gone Saturday, but I wouldn’t have made the game until 8PM, thereby putting my streak in jeopardy, so I stayed home.
I decided to try and make up some ground by driving to Washington DC for this Sunday day game (after a day game.)
I got to the stadium about a half hour before it was to open. There was virtually no one there when I arrived.
Game: 3 balls (3 hit)
Season: 27 balls (16 hit, 3 thrown, 5 device, 3 found)
Games: 6 games
Average: 4.50 balls per game
Career: 605 balls
Streak: 102 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 6 games: 26
I could’ve taken my choice of going to Cleveland, or staying in Pittsburgh today. The weather in Cleveland was forecast to be very nice, with a 5% chance of rain. Pittsburgh was predicted to have a 50% chance. I had to make a decision where I was going by 1 PM. After that time passed, I wouldn’t be able to make it to Cleveland by 3:30, thereby leaving me with PNC Park as my only option.
At 12:45 PM, this was the hourly weather forecast. It looked like there may have been a chance to at least get some BP in. I figured I’d save the gas and take the chance.
Wow, were they ever wrong.
It started pouring around 2:30ish, and didn’t stop.
McCutchen looked into the “crowd,” locked onto my location, and tossed a ball in my direction. The ball was coming in high. I had to jump up to make the catch. It was ball #1. My
streak had been preserved and extended. What a relief.
I spent the rest of the night going back and forth from right field to left field to center field (on occasion), trying to get another warm up ball.
Brandon Moss picked me out in the 6th inning and threw a ball right at me. The ball was intended for me. However, some random guy without a glove came running across the row and intercepted the ball. There was nothing I could do. Here he is:
Who sits like that at a baseball game anyway?
After the game was over (the Pirates won – finishing a sweep of the Brewers), I went down to the dugout. There, I watched the umpire toss a ball to a kid, which he dropped (the ball fell to the tunnel below and disappeared). Then, the umpire tossed a second ball to the same kid, which he also dropped down into the tunnel. What a waste. Luckily for Butterfingers, Bob Davidson came along and got one of the balls out of the tunnel and handed it to him.
I ended up with one ball, but did meet two readers of this blog after the game. I had noticed them prior to the game with their gloves and roster complete with player numbers and thinking, “They’re more prepared than I am.” I asked if they had snagged any balls on the day, and gave a ball away (one of the extras I bring from home) to one of the girls who had been shut out. There’s nothing worse than trying for a ball all day and coming up empty.
Here’s the McCutchen ball:
Which I somehow managed to screw up and number off-center. Argh.
Game: 1 ball (1 thrown)
Season: 294 balls (151 hit, 90 thrown, 53 device)
Games: 62 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.74 balls per game
Career: 460 balls
Streak: 77 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.