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.
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.
The Pirates were back in town today, facing the hated Brew-Crew.
This was my view from 4:15-4:55.
My friend Nick and I noticed a ballhawk running by who stands on the Riverwalk on a daily basis, waiting for home runs. Since he does it regularly, he must have at least some luck out there. (The guy stays out there the entire BP, even after the gates open). So, with nothing better to do, we decided to join him.
There was indeed one ball that came out in the time we were there. It bounced off of the concourse behind section 140, and went through the trees towards the river. The guy ran over and made a nice backhanded pick of the ball, just before it skipped into the Allegheny River.
Ballhawking on the Riverwalk is tough. You have to be very patient, and extemely focused. If you look away for a minute, or listen to a passerby’s comments, you’ll be distracted and miss a possible opportunity.
At one point, a photographer walked by and asked me what I was doing. I told him that batting practice was going on, and we were waiting for a ball to come out. He the proceeded to take pictures of the three of us ballhawks for the next fifteen minutes, from all angles. He never asked permission, or told us if he was affiliated with any newspaper. (I assumed he was with the Post Gazette or Tribune Review) In the picture below, you can see him sitting on the ground, snapping photos of Nick Pelescak.
He threw me ball #3. (It probably helped that I was the only fan in Brewers gear for the first 30 minutes).
One guy, who watched me get those balls tossed, made a few comments about how I “have all these shirts in the back of my car.” I couldn’t tell if he was trying to make fun of me, or not, but he went on to say the same line about five more times throughout the day to people around him.
I got ball #4 via the glove trick in left field. I struggled with this one, probably taking almost two minutes to reel it in. I had to first knock it closer, and then the rubber band wasn’t quite right. I had to adjust it several times. As the rubber band gets used, it becomes more stretchy, and needs adjusted differently. I was almost foiled by Brewers coach Joe Crawford. When I finally got the ball to stick in the glove, Crawford hurled his glove from about forty feet away, in an attempt to knock the ball out of my glove. Luckily, I had just begun to pull the ball up, and it narrowly missed it. He came over to get his glove, and had a huge smile on his face. “This wall is too low here. Its too easy for you guys to do that.”
A little while later, I caught ball #5 on the fly. It was a can of corn. However, Jody Gerut watched me make the catch, and immediately started screaming at me from left field. “That’s TWO for you now. Do the right thing!” I nodded. He screamed about three more times, “Do the right thing, Do the right thing, Do the right thing.” At this point several Brewers were staring at me, and Gerut pointed me out to them, probably telling them that he had just tossed me a ball moments earlier.
I quickly went into my backpack and took out one of my decoy balls. (Balls that I have that I didn’t personally snag and don’t count in my stats or my collection. These are MLB balls that friends have given to me in exchange for tickets).
I held up the decoy ball for Gerut to see and tossed it to the nearest kid with a glove. He gave me a thumbs up. I yelled to him, “That’s a Pirate ball from earlier.” I wanted him to keep the impression that I was a huge Brewers fan and wanted to keep just the Brewers baseballs.
I spent a few minutes in center field and chickened out on a very glove trickable ball. The nice ushers weren’t in center field today, and I didn’t feel l
ike getting yelled at. Plus, I had struggled mightly with ball #4, and didn’t want to go through that again.
After Claudio Vargas picked up the ball that I should’ve glove tricked and tossed it to a kid, I headed back to left field.
There, I made almost back to back catches of home runs on the fly. They were hit in the same general area, and only about 30 seconds apart. I have no idea who hit them.
I caught ball #6 on the fly in a completely empty row B. As I made the catch, some old guy made a feeble attempt at the ball, and crashed into me. Like a pillar, I didn’t budge. Since he went down fairly hard, I asked him if he was ok – and he was.
The second home run was hit soon after, and I had an entire empty row to my right, so I took off quickly and ran about 50 feet to my right to snag ball #7. I made the catch in front of a group of teenagers. Feeling they had been robbed, having seen me catch the other home run seconds before, and feeling anger at the Brewers gear I was sporting, they booed me mercilessly for about 20 seconds.
I just looked at them and smiled.
I had to leave at 6PM to attend a varsity head coaches meeting, that didn’t end until 9PM. My phone had very limited service, so I wasn’t able to get updates on the game.
I was squirming in my chair more than John Russell does when Matt Capps enters the game in a save situation.
Game: 7 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 288 balls (146 hit, 89 thrown, 53 device)
Games: 60 games (6 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.80 balls per game
Career: 454 balls
Streak: 75 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
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