I came into today needing just six baseballs to break the single season record of 543 baseballs snagging in one season. After a dismal performance at my last game on September 29th, I was determined to bounce back.
Amy and I arrived at Cincinnati around 3PM, in plenty of time before the 5:07 gate time.
We parked a ways a way and made the walk along the Ohio River, but had fun goofing around on the way to the stadium:
Amy was along to keep me company and take pictures to document today’s possibly record setting game.
Coming into the game, I needed six balls to break the all time single season record of 543 set by Zack Hample in 2008.
We killed some time before the gates opened by walking around Great American Ballpark, including wandering around the team store.
Here we are outside of the main gates:
I was able to secure a ticket through my Baker’s Dozen Partial season ticket plan. Since I only had one seat in the plan, we went to Cincinnati hoping to buy an extra ticket for Amy. Since the game was sold out, we had to turn to scalpers. The cheapest ticket available was $250, and Amy refused to let me pay that. She insisted on sitting outside Great American Ballpark while I went in and did my thing. I reluctantly agreed and rushed inside when the gates opened.
Upon entering the stadium, the Reds were warming up.
Including Aroldis Chapman, the 105 mph throwing rookie.
I tried to get one of them to toss me a ball but failed. And since BP was getting underway, I darted out to the left field seats to get to work.
There, I caught ball #1 on the fly off the bat of catcher Corky Miller here:
I was to chase down my second ball soon after as it rattled around a seat in the same general area.
I used the Cleveland stick to prod a ball on the batter’s eye close enough to reach for ball #3.
And returned to left field to snag a Jonny Gomes home run here:
That was the last ball I got during the Reds portion, and the seats were really starting to fill up when the Phillies came to bat.
After getting shut out by the first group, I headed over to right center field in hopes of snagging a Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard or Chase Utley home run ball to tie the single season record. It happened, and I happened to be video taping when it did. The ball hit behind me and ricocheted down towards me, and I was able to smother it just as several other fans reached for it. Here’s the video evidence! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTdHPeEtoug
So, at the very least, I would finish the 2010 season tied for the single season record.
In the meantime, I didn’t get anything else from that group, and my hope rested on the final group of bench players. Since they were mostly right handed, I headed back to left field.
That’s when this guy:
I don’t know who:
Launched a deep fly ball. It was going over my head, so I started running up the stairs in the open aisle. I was able to make the catch as I headed up the stairs in a reaching back hand fashion. It was a great catch, and it set the single season record at 544 balls in a single season!
After making the catch, I asked a nearby fan to take a photo for me with the ball.
I left after batting practice to meet Amy, I didn’t want her to be alone for too long. I showed her the record setting ball:
She was really happy for me:
Re-enactment of the catch of 544:
It was getting late, so I bid farewell to Great American Ballpark,
and the 2010 season, as this was my final game.
Game: 6 balls (5 hit, 1 device)
Season: 544 balls (261 hit, 131 thrown, 75 device, 77 found)
Games: 88 games
Average: 6.18 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 6
Career: 1,122 balls
I had seriously considered going to Cleveland today rather than dealing with the sellout crowd at PNC Park. However, I decided I just didn’t feel like driving four hours round trip for the fourth day in a week.
So, I gave PNC Park another try. One small thing going in my favor would be that the gates would open at 4:30 today, as is the PNC Park policy for Saturday games.
Upon entering, batting practice hadn’t yet begun and the pitchers were throwing in left field.
Evan Meek noticed Nick and I hustling around looking for easter eggs and shouted, there’s one up there, gesturing towards the upper general admission bleachers.
After a lengthy search, no ball would be found.
After batting practice finally began, I would get ball #1 tossed to me by Pirates starting pitcher Brad Lincoln.
During the second group of Pirates hitters, I would snag a Garrett Jones home run in left field. It was an opposite field shot that was a row in front of me, and I ended up trapping the ball against the bleacher on a short hop here:
I do believe that I will attend over 85 games, but so will Nick Pelescak, so the question may end up being who attends more?
As for the Total Balls in one season – its too early to tell if I’ll be able to continue to average over 6 balls per game.
I won’t be in action on July 4th, but have several trips lined up for next week.
Another day at PNC Park, and another crowd of Phillies fans to deal with throughout batting practice.
Luckily, PNC Park has season ticket holder early entrance, where the season ticket holders get thirty minutes of BP without the general public. That would be huge for me today, as all four of my baseballs would come during the first thirty minutes.
I was second in line behind Nick Pelescak, so I knew that I probably would be second into the bleachers, putting me at a slight disadvantage for grabbing easter eggs. However, Nick brought a curse on himself about two minutes before the gates opened by accidentally touching a cursed baseball.
The baseball in question is brought by a semi regular man who is disabled and can’t speak, but loves to play catch with a minor league baseball. I played catch with him last year and had a ridiculously awful game. The only explanation was that I had touched that baseball. I thought to myself, “That ball is cursed,” and haven’t touched it since. Whenever he gestures to toss me the ball, I make a frown and wave him off.
After watching Nick have some terrible luck on Thursday, I realized that he had played catch with Baseball Joe in line. I warned him later on that night to stay away from the cursed baseball.
Well, Nick was handed the ball by another ballhawk and immediately realized that he was again, cursed.
Two minutes later the gates opened, and for the first time ever, Nick’s ticket wouldn’t scan. Also, out of nowhere, another ticket scanner appeared and scanned my ticket, thus I bypassed Nick and was first into the bleachers. The curse of Baseball Joe. His misfortune was my luck, I found ball #1 laying in the front row.
My second ball came about two minutes later off the bat of Jose Tabata. It was a home run that would’ve landed in the first or second row. Two other ballhawks had the position and were lined up to make the catch. I was in the third row, hoping that the ball would continue to carry, but it didn’t. At the last second, both ballhawks who were positioned to make the catch had to bail on their position because they lost the ball in the ridiculously bright sun.
I never lost sight of the ball, and made an outstretched basket catch, for ball #2 here:
Game: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 found)
Season: 276 balls (149 hit, 64 thrown, 26 device, 38 found)
Games: 43 games
Average: 6.42 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 854 balls
Streak: 139 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The Phillies were in town today for game 1 of a four game series. Unfortunately for me, their fans travel well, and many arrived early for batting practice.
To make matters worse, the security ticket scanner, who only permits season ticket holders into the left field bleachers wasn’t at his post. In fact, he didn’t show up until 5:11, allowing a steady stream of Phillies fans and non season ticket holders to stroll on in and crowd up the bleachers.
I got my first ball during the Pirates’ first group off the bat of Delwyn Young. He hit a ball that landed in the section directly next to the foul pole. I ran over as three other folks converged towards the back of the section where the ball had landed.
I realized though that the ball was rolling down towards the front row, so I quickly reversed course and ran down to the front row, where I picked up ball #1.
My second ball came from the next Pirates’ group and off the bat of Lastings Milledge.
The ball bounced off the concrete and took a hop up into the rotunda. Several folks were frantically looking around, their heads swiveling hoping to pick up the ball. I knew exactly where it was. It had gotten caught up on the rotunda. I took off and ran up the lower ring of the Rotunda, and there it was:
Season: 272 balls (146 hit, 64 thrown, 26 device, 37 found)
Games: 42 games
Average: 6.48 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 850 balls
Streak: 138 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Those of us at PNC Park during the Season Ticket Holder time were under siege by the Phillies first batting practice group today.
Batting practice started out calmly, well, because the Pirates were hitting. I would go on to get only one ball during this time from Ross “The Boss” Ohlendorf. A ball rolled to the wall and I politely asked for the ball. He looked at me and tossed me ball #1.
The first group yesterday included several lefties. Today, they were all right handed batters, and they were raking. There were only maybe two dozen of us there, since it was still season ticket holder only time, so there was plenty of running around up until 5:30.
I caught ball #2 off of the bat of Pedro Feliz on the fly. I had to run down to the second row to
I can’t operate without my Iphone. They were able to pull the card out and clean it. The phone them worked perfectly – and they didn’t charge me.
Only 7 more balls to go until career ball #500…
Game: 8 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 327 balls (172 hit, 96 thrown, 59 device)
Games: 68 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.81 balls per game
Career: 493 balls
Streak: 83 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I went down by the river before the gates open to try and snag a ball. Usually one or two per day will sail out of the stadium.
Ballhawking by the river takes a lot of patience and concentration, because you can’t see the ball until the last moment, so you have to be extremely focused. It doesn’t help that seemingly every passer by feels the need to stop and ask you what you’re doing.
After ten minutes of standing motionless starting at the sky, I saw a ball flying towards me. I moved quickly to my right, but the ball was over my head and landed in the river, on the fly.
YES! I’d finally get to use my new device to snag a ball. I took out a golf ball retriever and unfurled the 14 foot pole. I laid on my stomach and reached out at the ball. I was about a foot short.
I could’ve repositioned my body, waited for the ball to drift in towards the shore, or double checked to made sure that the pole was fully extended. However, some guy on a jetski comes motoring up and reaches over to grab the ball.
“Can you just move it a bit closer,” I asked. Not listening, he picked up the ball and flipped it to me (as I was laying on my stomach, fully extended.)
Since the guy grabbed the ball and tossed it to me, I couldn’t count the ball in my stats, and I was furious about it.
That was the only ball that would exit the stadium.
I would eventually get ball #1 off the bat of Jason Jaramillo. He hit a home run that landed on the left field rotunda, which I sprinted up and picked up the ball as it was rolling down the ramp.
Ball #2 was a home run that Pedro Feliz would hit. It was an easy catch. Little did I know that I would encounter poor luck and be shut out the rest of the day.
During the second Phillies group, I went to right field, where I had a ball hit the heel of my glove and fall to the floor. Some Phillies fan scooped it up. Since I have a glove trick, I have a large ball of string tucked into the bottom of my glove. Usually, I catch balls in the webbing. However, this ball hit on the heel, and I wasn’t able to close my glove around the ball thanks to the big ball of string.
It was a glaring, awful error. After it happened, my attitude soured, and I didn’t even want to be there anymore.
Game: 2 balls (2 hit)
Season: 319 balls (166 hit, 93 thrown, 59 device)
Games: 67 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.76 balls per game
Career: 485 balls
Streak: 82 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The Pirates are out of town until July 17th, which would mean 17 days without a baseball game for me. I decided to break up the drought by attending a game in Philadelphia.
I’d never been to a baseball game in Philly before, so I was interested to see what Citizens Bank Park had to offer.
I got to the stadium at 2:35, almost 2 full hours before the gates were to even open. I figured that I would give myself some extra time to account for traffic and to stop for lunch. (I ended up not stopping because my GPS directed me to a non-existent phantom Wendy’s. Frustrated, I decided to eat at the stadium.) I was there so early, that the parking attendant thought I worked at McFadden’s.
The first matter of business was to find an open ticket window and buy a ticket for today’s game. I walked past the first base entrance
then realized that the Reds had many more righties than lefties, and I’d have a better chance back in the packed left field seats.
Brandon Phillips put on a show in batting practice. One of his home runs came right to me, I was camped underneath it, ready to make the catch, when at the moment the ball was several feet from my glove, about 5 people’s arms slammed into mine. My arm moved, and the ball tipped off my glove. I didn’t get the ball. Fans in Philadelphia are much more agressive when it comes to going a
fter home run balls in batting practice than in Pittsburgh or Cleveland. In Pittsburgh, us ballhawks spread out and have our own little zones that we tend to stay in. We never run into each other or rob each other of home runs when another is camped under one. Next time I go to a game in Philly I’ll be prepared.
I was shut out for the rest of batting practice and ended with 2 baseballs.
I walked around the concourse. I liked how the Phillies post their line up on a large brick wall at the entrance to the left field gate:
The Phillies top 2 stars for my money:
The Liberty Bell (which gongs after a Phillies player goes deep):
Here was my view from my seat:
The Phillies would go on to knock out starter Johnny Cueto in the first inning and score an amazing 10 runs in the first inning. They would go on to win the game 22-1. I don’t think I’ve ever attended such a lopsided game.
I made my back to my hotel in Philadelphia. (Which didn’t have Internet). Ran a few miles on the treadmill in the fitness center, did 31 floors on a stairmaster, and went to bed.
I then disappeared for the next week (which is why its taken me a week to get this entry up) to the shore.
Game: 2 balls (2 hit)
Season: 226 balls (119 hit, 75 thrown, 32 device)
Games: 46 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.91 balls per game
Career: 392 balls