Today was the make up game of Friday’s rained out contest between the Pirates and Nationals.
When the gates opened, I ran in and found my first ball of the day in the front row near the bullpen.
I only got one other ball during the Pirates portion and it was a home run ball that probably was catchable by myself or Nick, but we both missed it and it bounced back onto the field. Evan Meek picked it up and tossed it to me for ball #2.
I also glove tricked ball #4 in left field when the Nationals were hitting.
My fifth ball of the day was a home run hit by an unknown righty. I made the clean catch here:
I then struck up a conversation with ex-Pirate Tom Gorzelanny. I asked him if he still had all the Dave Matthews Band CDs that I sent him a few years back. He said yeah and then started talking to me about DMB for a bit.
During the conversation, a batter hit a line drive that bounced on the warning track. I snagged it as it skipped off the warning track just to my left without moving or breaking conversation with Gorzelanny.
I was planning on asking him for a ball, and that ground rule double had just ruined it.
Anyway, the Nationals weren’t taking much initiative in collecting the balls from the warning track, so I glove tricked ball #7 here in left field,
and glove tricked #8 in section 141.
I was then tipped off by ex-ballhawk Andrew McDonald about another ball, and glove tricked that one for #9.
My tenth ball of the day was thrown in right field by Doug Slaten, who seemingly hooked up every fan on the wall.
After a few missed opportunities for home runs, I tracked down a Matt Stairs home run for Ball #11 that landed in the second to last row on the wall.
That was all for batting practice.
During the game, I decided to sit in the club seats because there was virtually no one there. Many fans stayed home to watch the Penguins game.
Here’s a view of the field from the club seats:
I had a perfect chance at a foul ball. The place was virtually empty.
In the second inning, new Pirate Brandon Wood made his bucco debut.
He took the first two pitches he saw. On the third John Lannan offering, he took a rip. He fouled the pitch off into the second deck. I jumped out of my seat immediately and went running throw the row to try and make the catch.
Anyhow, it rained on and off throughout the rest of the night, so I spent some time between innings in the club level to stay dry.
Here are today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 12 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 5 device, 1 found)
Season: 77 balls (29 hit, 17 thrown, 21 device, 10 found)
Games: 11 games
Average: 7.00 balls per game
Career: 1,199 balls
2010 through 11 games: 77 balls (0 balls behind last year’s pace)
It was Easter Sunday, so a big crowd wasn’t going to be on hand, which was a bonus. However, the previous night’s game had ended around 11PM, and since today was a day game, the chances of batting practice were slim. Add to the fact that it had drizzled all morning, and there was virtually no chance of batting practice whatsoever.
I got to the ballpark at 11:05 AM, just in time to see three Pirates leaving the bullpen after a side session. Two of the folks at the bullpen fence had baseballs. I had missed an early opportunity.
PNC Park makes everyone stay on the Riverwalk for the first 30 minutes on Sundays, so there wasn’t too much to do. I noticed that someone doesn’t like Andrew McCutchen so much:
I met a couple ballhawks from Ohio. It was a father and son duo. They were friendly and snagged several balls of their own throughout the day.
I set up behind Sean Burnett throwing with Drew Storen. I got Sean Burnett to toss me my second ball of the day after they finished up.
I camped out near a third ball and waited patiently. I asked a coach for it, and he asked if I’d gotten a ball yet. Since it was Easter Sunday, I couldn’t lie. I told him I’d already got one today, but wouldn’t mind another. He threw the ball to another ballhawk, but I was hoping that it would give me some good karma.
After the Nationals were done, I walked around the park to take pictures and look for easter eggs.
Right Field Upper Deck:
Looking out towards the Point:
Abe was in the park, along with the other Nationals mascot Presidents.
Once the game started, I got Andrew McCutchen’s warm up ball in the first inning,
and Garrett Jones’ in the fourth.
That was pretty much it.
A few more random pictures:
Presidents vs Pierogis:
The Build a Bunny we got for our baby girl:
The sweatshirt Amy bought me:
And today’s four baseballs:
By the way, afterwards, we colored easter eggs:
Game: 4 balls (4 thrown)
Season: 65 balls (25 hit, 15 thrown, 16 device, 9 found)
Games: 10 games
Average: 6.50 balls per game
Career: 1,187 balls
2010 through 10 games: 69 balls (4 balls behind last year’s pace)
Today was a Saturday game, so gates opened at 4:30 rather than 5:00. I was probably fourth in line or so. Usually Nick and I play catch on the bridge, but it wasn’t closed off, so I stood and watched two older ballhawks argue about who loves baseball more.
Of course, there would be a threat of rain today, as a cold front passed by dangerously close to Pittsburgh, bringing storms just south of the city. The wind was howling out to left field, which would hopefully benefit me by pushing fly balls out of the park.
Amy left before the gates opened to go to work on the inside of the stadium, but she took some cool pics. This is probably my favorite:
When the stadium opened, I saw a few balls in left field on the foul line and went over to grab them.
When I got to the spot, there were three balls there. One was up against the fence, one was about six feet out, and one was only gettable using the glove trick. Once I got into the seating area, I noticed Nick running right behind me, and he grabbed the one up against the fencing before I could get to it. I was able to reach the one six feet out by leaning out over the fence and grabbing it with my glove. I let the glove trick ball be, as I don’t like using the glove trick while the Pirates are batting.
Balls #3 and #4 were glove tricked off of the left field warning track.
My fifth ball of the day was a home run hit by a Nationals batter. I was starting to get blocked off by fans, so I took the open row five rows back as I tracked the ball. It turned out that it was the perfect row and I caught the ball on the fly.
Ball #6 was a home run that sailed over my head, hit off the facade of the general admission bleachers and carried back to the lower bleachers. I out jumped another ballhawk and snagged the ball on the rebound.
My seventh ball of the day was caught on the fly off the bat of Rick Ankiel in the third row in center field. This was the view.
Ankiel lofted another fly ball two pitches later than I flat out missed. It tipped off of my glove. It was my worst error this year.
At 5:51, the Nationals ran off the field.
The was some light rain that was to arrive around 7PM, so the grounds crew wanted to make sure it had over an hour to put the tarp on the field. It wouldn’t even start drizzling until game time. That’s our grounds crew for you though. It cost us about 25 minutes of batting practice.
The game was delayed an hour and eleven minutes by “rain.”
It actually was barely raining. It was a little mist that terrified the grounds crew. You can tell it was barely raining in the photo above by the amount of fans seated in the outfield sections. If it was raining, they wouldn’t be there.
What a frustrating day. I missed at least five balls including a game home run. This was by far the worst ballhawking day of the year for me.
Here are today’s baseballs:
By the way, I injured myself after batting practice. I had a huge bag and I filled it with 59 Andrew McCutchen Action Figurines, 59 First Pitch Magazines, and 59 Scratch and Win Cards.
The bag was filled to the brim, so I had to carry it in front of me almost a mile to my car. I couldn’t sling it over my shoulder. Anyway, I ended up hurting my back, and having back spasms the rest of the night. I couldn’t even run or jog.
The weight of the bag was about sixty pounds. Carrying it out in front of me with my arms straight forward was definitely a work out.
Game: 7 balls (4 hit, 2 device, 1 found)
Season: 61 balls (25 hit, 11 thrown, 16 device, 9 found)
Games: 9 games
Average: 6.78 balls per game
Career: 1,183 balls
We were back at Nationals Park for another game today.
Hopefully today would be a bit better day for me.
The weather was expected to be a bit warmer with no chance of rain.
Amy was back in charge of the camera, and did a fantastic job taking lots of pictures.
We were again first in line, so to pass the time, Nick and I played catch.
This time, we played catch on the street, so as not to get yelled at by security.
When the gates opened, we ran in to look for baseballs,
but there were none. I made my way over to center field and spotted a ball below, but there were security guards everywhere down there.
I thought about asking them to toss it up, but they were engaged in a conversation. I went and checked the gaps behind the walls, which were empty. When I came back that ball was gone.
Much like yesterday, my day got off to another really slow start. There was a lot of inactivity and waiting.
All I could do is look at Amy with a “this is going to well” look.
I noticed a few balls were landing in the seats in right field, so I hustled over to try and get in on some of the action.
Amy was right behind me to capture the action.
Once there I set up in the third row.
I didn’t have to wait too long as Laynce Nix launched a home run in my direction. I could tell that the ball was going to be a bit short, so I had to scale the row of seats in front of me to catch the ball just above the man in red’s black glove.
Here I am with my first ball of the day.
I headed over to left field with Nick, but it was too crowded, and I got shut out there despite several home runs landing here and there.
I headed back to right field to stay for a majority of the Braves batting practice.
After changing quickly on the concourse, I made my way to right field.
I began cutting through the second row when I ball appeared out of nowhere. Mike Minor randomly flipped a ball up from the warning track. I reacted and caught the ball for my second of the day. There wasn’t anyone else within a few feet of me, so I figured it really wasn’t intended for anyone in particular. Here I am with Mike Minor below:
Despite several Braves batting, I noticed a ball land in the gap in left center field. I decided to go over and glove trick it immediately.
Here I am setting up the glove trick:
I leaned on the glass railing for a moment and pretended to watch BP so as not to bring attention to myself from the security guards. I then lowered my glove over the ball:
And reeled it in.
That was my third ball of the day.
Upon returning to right field, I noticed another ball in the gap between the stands and scoreboard.
I glove tricked that ball too.
I’m was working with a new rubber band and it was working really well. I snagged both glove trick balls in one try.
The rest of batting practice was just a lot of standing around. You can tell by Nick’s body language how slow things were.
Near the end of batting practice, I went over to left field above the bullpen to scope out the balls in the bullpen.
While there, an unidentified Braves player tossed my ball #5.
Batting practice ended, and there were three balls that were gettable in the bullpen. I knew how security was, so I spoke with the usher in the section, “There’s a ball in the bullpen that I can get with my glove,” I said. “Is it ok if I get it?”
“Alright,” She replied, “Imma let you get it.”
I went to work and got the ball to stick in the glove on the first try. Weirdly, the same lady that just gave me permission, came and started yelling at me. “You can’t do that!”
“You just told me that I could get a ball from the bullpen.”
“No! You have to stop.”
“OK, the ball’s stuck in my glove, should I throw it back onto the field or can I keep it?”
She ignored me. So I stuck it in my pocket and let. It was the sixth one of the day.
That would be it for batting practice.
We left the stadium after BP to head back to Pittsburgh.
We headed back to pictures and Amy was still snapping away.
We left sunny 65 degree weather for dreariness.
Here are the baseballs I snagged today:
And the sweet spots:
Season: 9 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device, 0 found)
Games: 2 games
Average: 4.50 balls per game
Career: 1,131 balls
The 2011 baseball season kicked off for me this weekend in Washington DC. Fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak, my girlfriend Amy, and I headed down for the weekend.
On the way there, winter gave us hopefully, a goodbye, as we traveled through heavy snow in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The roads were untreated, and we had to keep it at 40 mph. It was rather treacherous.
We grabbed some breakfast at McDonalds in Breezewood:
And continued on I-70 east. Once the dawn arrived, the pictures of the snow turned out better, but trust me – the roads were much worse than this:
We got to Washington a little after 9AM, and shelled out $15 to park near the stadium.
The walk was through a construction zone.
I had my phone handy as I was keeping an eye on the weather. It had rained and snowed for most of the trip to Washington DC, and there was a large percent chance of rain today, but according to the weather sites, it looked like it wouldn’t start until around noon or 1PM.
When we reached the intersection across from the stadium, there was thick cloud cover, but it looked like batting practice would be a go.
We paused in front of Nationals Park for a few obligatory photos:
Amy was the photographer for this trip. We were in Washington for two games and she took over 900 photos. She captured mostly everything.
The walk to the center field gate from home plate was extremely cold and windy. When we got to the left field gate, we peered in to see if the cages were up. It was inconclusive.
Walking along the exterior of Nationals Park, I was looking for any new decorations or improvements.
It is probably the blandest most boring stadium I’ve ever seen from the outside.
When I rounded the corner to head towards the center field gate and the ticket offices, I noticed one change. Do you see it?
There were large mirrored baseballs installed on the outside of the stadium/parking garage.
At the main box office, we purchased the cheapest ticket available: $10 each.
I purchased tickets for today’s game and tomorrow’s game as well.
Then we headed over to the center field gate to stake our claim to the front spot in the line.
After getting in line, I organized the string of my glove and tested out a new rubber band.
Then, with forty minutes still to kill before the gates opened, Nick and I threw for a bit.
We caught for maybe ten minutes before someone from the Nationals staff came out and enforced the no having fun unwritten rule that many staff members at MLB parks abide by.
10:30AM finally came and the gates opened. Here was my first view of a major league baseball field in 2011:
Nick and I were the first ones into the stadium, but I didn’t find any Easter Eggs. Nick found 2.
Batting practice probably didn’t begin for at least 10 minutes until after the gates opened. As the players were still warming up down the right field line.
Amy followed us back and forth between left field and right field for two full days taking lots of great shots. Here’s one of the field from center field:
And here Nick and I are in right field at the very beginning of batting practice. I had checked the gaps behind the outfield walls for baseballs that I could glove trick, but there were none there.
Amy got lots of great action shots of the players too, because batting practice started out pretty bad for me.
I got shut out for at least the first two groups if not three.
What would’ve been my first ball of the day was knocked away from me by the kid in blue who cut a row in front of me and knocked the ball to the right where some other fan grabbed it.
Finally, after a long drought, Rick Ankiel hit a towering blast toward right field.
The ball was hit directly between Nick and I who were both in the same row.
Since Nick had already snagged several, he laid back and allowed me to make the clean catch uncontested. Thanks Nick! It was my first ball of the year and first of the 2011 season. It broke a weird streak. In 2009 both Nick and I got our first ball of the year thrown by Ian Snell. In 2010, we both got our first ball of the year off the bat of Bobby Crosby. The streak ended in 2011 when Nick found his first ball and mine was from Rick Ankiel.
Anyway, back in left field, there was a lot of waiting around during the Nationals batting practice. I was expecting Jayson Werth to put on a show during batting practice. He disappointed, exclusively hitting ball after ball to right field, but did hit two home runs. One of which I caught on the fly, high above my head, fully extended.
I had to stay in the third row because those handrails that you see in the picture severely limit my range. Being boxed in by people is bad, but being boxed in by people and handrails is agitating.
Anyhow, soon Nate McLouth hit a dying line drive right at me. I ran down to the front row and made the catch just above the outfield wall for my third ball of the day.
Here I am inspecting the ball.
The Braves batters put a good number of balls into the seats, but I couldn’t get to any of them. Someone was either in front of me: (they are obstructed in the picture)
Or over my head:
Or literally three feet over my head
Or I would get completely robbed.
Amy took so many pictures! But there were so many near misses.
Every time I came close, I had to navigate around railings or people standing in aisles.
And as a result, I’d be too late.
Near the end of batting practice I spotted three balls in the bullpen. They were perfect for the glove trick.
I rigged up my glove and headed over to double my days total in a matter of one or two minutes.
When I got to the bullpen area, the Braves finished their BP and were walking off the field.
The crowd started to thin out. I needed to work fast.
Just as I began to lower my glove, two ushers swooped in and told me I had to stop.
I ended the day with three baseballs.
Amy and I decided that we didn’t want to stay for the game and we’d rather go back to the hotel room for a little bit and then go explore Washington DC. Nick would stay at the game.
Before heading out, we posed for a picture at Nationals Park:
Our hotel was the Renaissance. It is a $409 a night hotel, but we got it for $116 thanks to Priceline.com
Here I am outside of the hotel:
There was an interesting Chinese themed courtyard too:
After all, we were two blocks from Chinatown.
Here’s a snapshot of the room we received:
After some quality time in the hotel room, we decided to explore the lobby and the surrounding area. Amy was super pumped for free lemon water:
We headed out into the city.
We walked around Chinatown.
You really couldn’t miss it with the giant arched entry way.
The picture with the Chinese man wasn’t planned by the way…
Amy made the Chinatown entrance look better.
There was some cool stuff, such as museums on just about every corner,
Amy was pretty pumped about Auntie Anne’s, but we didn’t stop to share our customary Cinnamon Pretzel.
We came across some really creepy areas,
but overall the area was decent. The cherry blossoms added a nice touch to the city streets.
After walking around for awhile, we decided to head over to the Georgetown area to go find DC Cupcakes, a store that Amy had seen on TLC, which has its own series on that network.
On the way there, we passed a Ben & Jerry’s store, which was spewing bubbles all over the road.
Eventually we came to the store that Amy wanted to visit. It was called Georgetown Cupcake. I guess DC cupcakes sounds better as a show title.
We figured that we would park up the street somewhere and then run in and grab a cupcake just to say that we’d been there.
However, upon rounding the corner, we noticed a line.
That extended as far as the eye could see.
So, that was pretty much out of the question. We headed back through Washington DC to go pick Nick up at Nationals Park. It was almost 5PM.
Here’s some shots that Amy took on the drive back. The Cherry Blossoms were out in full bloom!
We arrived back at the hotel after picking Nick up and unpacked all of our things. We would then go out for dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s and get the worst waiter ever.
Strong storms swept through the Pittsburgh area around 3:30 PM, putting batting practice in jeopardy. However, they moved off to the east and the skies cleared by 4:30, so BP was a go for today.
I came into today needing six balls to reach the exclusive 500 balls snagged in one season club. It had only been done twice, by Zack Hample in 2008 and 2009.
Upon running in, I found ball #1 in the front row. I almost passed it by, but noticed fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak running quickly towards the spot, so I double checked, and it was right in front of me. I leaned over and grabbed it for ball #1.
My second ball was thrown to me by Chris Resop. That’s the first ball that I ever got from Resop, so I was glad to add another player to my thrown list. Thanks Chris.
Season: 503 balls (243 hit, 116 thrown, 72 device, 72 found)
Games: 78 games
Average: 6.45 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,081 balls
Streak: 174 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls needed to break single season record: 41
I didn’t feel like going through another toilsome batting practice in Cleveland, and storms were in the forecast there, so I drove down to Washington DC.
Two other ballhawks were in attendance at this game – Ian Weir from Pittsburgh, and Alex from New York City.
When the gates opened, the Nationals were just beginning to hit, so there weren’t any easter eggs.
I caught ball #1 on the fly off the bat of Wil Nieves. It was a home run that was caught in this area:
During the second group, I won a scrum for a Ryan Zimmerman home run ball that landed two rows in front of me in this area:
That would be all I would get during the Nationals batting practice. Argh. Did I make the wrong choice by coming to DC?
The Braves first group included Jason Heyward
You’re not allowed to go get those balls, as one kid began climbing over the rail, before a security guard angrily yelled at him. I motioned with my glove and string as if to say, “Is it ok if I throw this out there.” The security guard made the non-verbal signal, “Oh yeah, go ahead.”
I flipped the kid a decoy ball and then threw my glove out and nudged ball #8 close enough to the glass so that I could simply reach other and grab it. It took one fling of the glove.
I was about ready to leave the red seats to go check the left field bullpen when yet another home run landed in the gap in front of the red seats.
I glove tricked that ball for ball #9.
Batting practice ended soon after, and I was stuck on 9 balls – just short of double digits.
I really wanted to hit the road, but there were three balls laying in
After standing and talking with Alex for about 20 minutes, Eddie Perez finally came out to the bullpen. He collected the three balls, and I asked him for a ball in Spanish. He ignored me. I continued in Spanish to say, “There’s also one in the flowers over there near the wall.”
Eddie went over and got it and tossed it up to me. Ball #10.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 10 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 5 device)
Season: 347 balls (177 hit, 76 thrown, 41 device, 44 found)
Games: 54 games
Average: 6.43 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 925 balls
Streak: 150 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.