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 attended today’s game with my wife. I had to wait for her to get home for work, so we didn’t get to the stadium until 4:55 PM, just in time before the 5 PM gate opening.
Usually I get 1 ball during the Pirates portion during the week (they only hit for about 10-15 more minutes after the gates open). Today, though, I had 4 balls by 5:04. I’ve never gotten off to a start like that in my life.
Ball #1 was tossed from Nyjer Morgan.
Game: 10 balls (4 hit, 4 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 84 balls (32 hit, 43 thrown, 9 device)
Games: 16 games (13 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 5.25 balls per game
Career: 250 balls
It rained for most of the morning in Pittsburgh, in fact, it was still raining when I arrived at the ballpark at 11 AM. This could mean only one thing: no batting practice. I was faced with possibly being shut out for the first time since August 2008.
When the stadium opened the gates to the seating areas at 11:30, I went over to the left field foul line. The rain had subsided. Several bullpen pitchers from the Pirates were warming up. I placed myself behind John Grabow and Ross Ohlendorf and waited for an overthrow.
Directly to me. I didn’t even have to move.
Its not like he randomly tossed the ball up and I got into a scrum and stole the ball away from ticketed patrons. He usually picks out people. I caught the ball, waved thanks, turned and left the section. I could hear some snooty lady and her rotund husband getting on the usher. “He doesn’t have a ticket. He shouldn’t be allowed to do that. Don’t let him back in here. Check his ticket.” Blah blah blah.
I went over to left field for the fourth inning to try and get a warm up ball from Nyjer. I avoided the right field seats thanks to the afore mentioned rudest-usher-in-PNC-Park.
Left Field has a lot more sections and people, so I had very little chance. The ball went to a group of people near the foul pole.
Inning 5. I went back to center field. I stood at the far edge of Section 140, away from the snotty lady. I looked over and they were both staring directly at me. I stared right back at them. I should’ve walked over and offered their spoiled kid a ball. “Excuse me, would you like a ball? ….. Then bring a glove!” and walk away. That’s what I felt like doing, I was in such a bad mood.
I didn’t get the 5th inning ball because it was tossed to the second row. Predictably, the ball fell back onto the field. The same thing happened in the seventh inning. That’s why Nate prefers to throw the ball deep.
Anyway, the miserable family got on the usher again after the fifth inning because 3 of us ballhawks entered the section. The usher came over and told me that I wasn’t allowed to try for warm up balls anymore. He said come back and try tomorrow when there’s different people around. He told Nick and Bryan the same thing. If you’re wondering, here’s what those “folks” looked like:
(To be civil, I am editing this paragraph from what I originally wrote. I’ve taken out most of the colorful adjectives I originally had written.) Its the guy eating, his son, and the lady in the orange.
I could’ve tried in the seventh and ninth, but out of respect for the ushers, I went and sat behind the Reds dugout to see if I could get some foul balls. There are nice ushers at PNC Park, the ones in center field were just doing their job because the supervisor somehow got involved.
I didn’t get any foul balls, and I got shut out at the Reds dugout, so my day ended on a sour note.
To make it worse, the Pirates looked awful again, getting shut out. They haven’t hit a home run now in a week.
Adam LaRoche’s body language tells the whole story:
A few shots from the game:
Johnny Cueto deals to Nyjer Morgan:
Evan Meek (a big Dave Matthews Band fan):
Jesse Chavez (tossed me my first ball of the day:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 3 balls (3 thrown)
Season: 67 balls (26 hit, 34 thrown, 7 device)
Games: 14 games (11 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 4.79 balls per game
Career: 233 balls
I dragged myself out of bed after about five hours of sleep and went to today’s game. I was hoping there would be batting practice today. Even though it was Sunday, I thought maybe since yesterday was an afternoon game, that there would be BP. I was right.
I decided to first ask Nyjer Morgan for a ball.
He was being asked by another fan to my right who had a Boston Red Sox hat on. Nyjer came over and said, “Turn your hat around.” The kid wouldn’t. Morgan said, “Can’t do it, dawg.” He proceeded to throw the ball to another fan wearing Pirate gear. Soon after though, I got ball #1 from Nyjer Morgan. I called his name and he tossed it up to me.
That was it for the Pirates portion of BP. The Braves then came out and hit. A ball rolled to the wall in left field, right at the 325 ft. marker.
Game: 3 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 29 balls (13 hit, 10 thrown, 6 device)
Games: 7 (6 with BP, 1 without)
Average: 4.14 balls per game
Career: 195 balls
I could only attend batting practice at today’s game because I had Dave Matthews Band tickets for later tonight.
Since today’s game was to begin at 12:35, I feared that there would be no batting practice. Usually on day games after night games, there is no batting practice. However, when I was walking to the Center field gate, I could see this.
I got to the gates at 9:45 AM, 15 minutes early, and was third in line. There were two non-ballhawks in front of me, so I felt pretty confident about being the first person into batting practice and claiming any Easter eggs.
I was the first one to the early entrance point, but the season ticket scanner wasn’t there. A few other security guards came and said we had to wait until the scanner showed up. I showed them I had season tickets and I even flashed my season ticket card. They said no one could enter until the scanner showed up. In the mean time, there were three fans with visitor passes in the bleachers.
Ryan Doumit crushed a homerun that landed in the bleachers. All I could do is stand helplessly and watch one of the visitor fans walk over and pick it up. One missed opportunity. Doumit hit another ball that hit near the bullpen. It bounced off a bleacher and rolled down to the front row. Luckily, the visitors didn’t see this one. When the employee who scans the early entrance finally showed up 6 minutes late, I ran in and claimed the Doumit HR ball. It was ball #1.
Game: 6 Balls (3 hit, 3 device)
Season: 26 Balls (12 hit, 9 thrown, 5 device)
Games: 6 Games (5 with BP/ 1 without)
Average: 4.33 Balls per Game
Career: 192 Balls
I was hoping to have a huge day today since the Penguins had a playoff game. Sure enough, batting practice was pretty empty, but I didn’t have a stand out day.
My wife and I arrive at the park at 4:05 PM and were second in line. I went into batting practice and looked for Easter Eggs, but there were none. There were a couple ushers standing around and they must’ve picked up anything that came out. I settled into my spot in left field and waited.
An unidentified Pirate hit a deep fly ball. He hit it right into the sun, but I was able to catch it on the fly… barely. It almost went over my head. Nonetheless, I had ball #1 of the day.
Nyjer Morgan was shagging balls in the outfield and I called his name, he looked at me and tossed a ball, but it was headed for some random guy with a Pantera hat on. The guy was holding a calendar and didn’t have a glove and looked out of place at batting practice. He reached for the ball and missed it. I picked the ball up on the deflection. It was ball #2. He kind of gave me a look like he expected me to give it to him, but I didn’t. Since I called for Nyjer to throw the ball, I felt like I earned it, plus he didn’t have a glove and wasn’t prepared.
The Pirates portion of batting practice ended and the Braves came out to hit. They weren’t hitting anything deep. To make matters worse, batting practice looked like this:
I had so much room to roam and chase down home runs, but none were coming. One finally did come out, but I misjudged the ball and it was over my head. If I had been one row deeper I would have caught the ball. I slammed my glove in disgust and muttered to myself.
Game: 3 Balls
Season: 20 Balls
Games: 5 Games (4 with batting practice, 1 without)
Average: 4.00 Balls per game
Career: 186 Balls
Today was PNC Park’s Opening Day. I went today with my wife Holly. We got to the gates around 10:30 AM, and waited in line for a half hour. When the gates opened, I rushed in and was the 6th one into the left field bleachers.
Things were a little dry at first. Eventually, two balls were hit and Ian Snell came to the fence to get them. I asked him for a ball and he flipped one over his head without looking to me. It was ball #1 of the day. Luckily, for the first 30 minutes, only season ticket holders are permitted into batting practice, so I had plenty of room to roam.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 13 balls (7 hit, 4 thrown, 2 device)
Games: 3 (3 with BP, 0 without)
Career: 179 balls
Hit List: 179 ties me with Willy Aybar for #3809 all time.
I attended today’s game with my best friend from my childhood days, Joe Filipowski. We got to the gates about 10 minutes before they were to open. I hate how the gates don’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch. At 11:40, we were finally let inside. The Pirates were already in mid batting practice.
I checked for Easter eggs in left field, but there was nothing there. With some of the Pirates better hitters coming up and being left handed, we headed over to right field. I was shocked at how amazingly rude the Pirates were towards their own fans. I got totally ignored by Zach Duke, Jesse Chavez, Craig Monroe, Eric Hinske, Brandon Moss, and Donnie Veal in right field. I asked each of them for a ball on more than one occasion, but was ignored. The irritating part was that they were giving balls to little kids with Reds gear on, even though I was completely decked out in Pirates gear, including their new alternate batting practice jersey. It looked like it was going to be one of those days.
I decided to try and get a batted ball from one of the left handed power hitters. Nate McLouth hit one, but it was over my head and some guy just barely beat me to it. My friend Joe got the first ball of the day, but gave it away to a little kid. Jesse Chavez pointed the kid out and tossed it to him several rows up, but the kid missed it. Joe ended up catching up, but out of kindness gave it to the kid. He later said he regretted giving it away, it being the first ball that he’d snagged since the 1994 Home Run Derby at Three Rivers Stadium.
Moments later, Brandon Moss launched a deep fly ball to right field. I drifted over about 5 seats and camped out underneath it. The ball landed squarely in my glove. It was ball #1 of the day for me, and my first ball of 2009. It’d been over 6 months since I last snagged a ball, so it was good to finally get one. If you can find the #1 below, that’s the exact spot I snagged Moss’ Home Run.
I didn’t take any pictures during batting practice because I felt like having my camera around my neck would be a distraction for me and make moving around a little tougher. After Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss’s group hit, I decided to move to left field. It would prove to be a little late because Andy LaRoche was absolutely raking balls into left field while we were in right.
I made my way over to where Matt Capps, Tyler Yates, and John Grabow were standing in left center field. I asked several times for some balls, but was ignored by Yates. At least Grabow looked at me, but decided to throw the ball into the bleachers instead. I made eye contact with Capps. He got a ball and pointed at me and tossed it. Out of no where, a Reds fan dives in front of me and steals the ball before it reached me. (I was in the second row, he was in the first). Luckily, another ball was hit to Capps. He turned around and made sure I caught this one, arching it perfectly. It was ball #2 of the day.
I then decided to move to the left field line where Ian Snell and Craig Hansen were hanging out. Since catching a HR ball would prove tricky here, I decided to try and ask every Pirate I could for a ball. I settled into the second row in one of the sections near the line. I chose an empty row so I could somewhat move. Moments later, Craig Monroe lauched a line drive in my direction. I barely had to move. There was some competition for the ball from some people in the front row, but since I am 6’5″, I was able to outreach them and made the snag for ball #3 on the day. The below picture shows the exact locations of balls #2 and #3: