Today was a pretty mediocre day for me snagging wise.
First off, I forgot my sunglasses, making it almost impossible to track home run balls.
Here I am trying to use my glove to block the sun.
I managed to snag a Brandon Wood home run on the fly before the Pirates left the field. I had to make the catch on the run and caught it backhanded and below my waist. I lost track of it for a second, but it was more of a line drive, so it didn’t completely vanish in the glaring sun. Here I am numbering ball #1485:
I changed into my ridiculous eye-catching teal Marlins gear once the Pirates wrapped things up. Look how bad I stand out.
It paid off as I got Alex Sanabia to toss me ball #2. Here I am showing it to Amy:
My third and final ball was an awkward scrum ball. It was a home run that landed and settled on an empty bleacher. Three people grabbed the ball at the same time. I had the ball wedged between my glove and my bare hand, another guy let go of the ball after a second. However, the guy in the row behind me held onto the ball for dear life with one hand. I had a better grip, so after an awkward twenty seconds, he finally let go.
Anyhow, after batting practice, Amy, Olivia and I went up to the upper deck to pick a new season ticket seat for next year. Since the Pirates are raising prices, the only seats available for $499 for a full season plan are in rows S-Y. I wanted to make sure the seats I get have no obstructions.
Here’s Olivia and I in the upper deck.
Game: 3 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 365 balls (154 hit, 77 thrown, 85 device, 49 found)
Games: 69 games
Career: 1,487 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 7
Needed to reach goal: 48 (6.9 per game)
Batting practice was rained out on both Monday and Tuesday, so today was my first baseball game in 15 days. Today was special, as I brought Olivia and Amy to the ballpark:
She was a perfect angel and didn’t cry or fuss at all the whole time we were at PNC Park.
There were a handful of balls that landed in the seats, but it seems like any more that this is all we do:
At 5:30, I found a ball in foul territory hidden under a seat.
Ushers had combed through the rows a few minutes prior and picked up a couple more.
Back over in left field, I made a nice place on a ground rule double as I picked it from the first row as it was bouncing over the wall.
I got my fourth ball of the day in foul territory, as an Astros player hit a slow roller that settled about 6 feet out from the low wall past third base. I ran over and tossed my glove out to nudge the ball closer so I could grab it. In the meantime, Coach Suba was prowling around looking for baseballs and was walking over to retrieve the ball when I snagged it. He said, “I don’t come into your yard and take your lawnmower.” I didn’t want to argue so I just offered him the ball back. “No, you can keep it, I just wish I would’ve known you were going to get it so I didn’t have to walk the whole way over here,” he said.
In the meantime, Wilton Lopez stormed over looking real pissed that I had taken a ball off the warning track and demanded that I give the ball back. I threw him the ball back and he stormed off for a moment and acted like he was going to throw the ball back to the infield, but then broke into a huge smile and threw me the ball back. He was just messing with me. Although I snagged the ball two different times, by two different means, I’m only going to count it once. I’ve seen some shady stat keeping by ballhawks where they’d count the ball as two, but whatever. I’m counting it as a device ball in my stats.
Here’s Suba and Lopez a few seconds after all that happened:
My fifth ball was a home run that landed in section 134 that I was able to snag before another guy, who ended up losing his balance. He was fine. I supported him as he lost his balance.
And, my last ball of the day was tossed to me by a groundkeeper who happened by as I was about to glove trick a ball by section 101.
I wasted the last 10 minutes by the Astros dugout since there were no fans there – in an attempt to get a ball from a player as they ran off the field. The Astros ended up hitting longer today and I ended up losing out on several home run balls that landed in the seats a vastly empty right field.
As for the game, we had seats in the club level, but I didn’t snag anything else.
Game: 6 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 362 balls (152 hit, 76 thrown, 85 device, 49 found)
Games: 68 games
Average: 5.33 per game
Career: 1,484 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 8
Needed to reach goal: 51 (6.4 per game)
Batting practice on a Sunday? It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally it happens.
My day began at 7:20 AM, as I woke up extra early so I could go to the gym before heading to the ballpark. I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time with Amy as soon as batting practice ended.
Our due date is fast approaching. For fun, we offered our guesses on when our baby would be born. I picked July 26. Amy picked July 30th. The baby is due August 9. Neither of us think we’ll make it that far as our baby is measuring up to be a big baby.
The Pirates came out and stretched, and at exactly 11:30, batting practice got underway.
My first ball came rather quickly – it was a clean catch of a homer caught here:
Realizing that there wouldn’t be many home runs hit, (yesterday there were 3) – I made my way over to foul territory in right field and lined myself up behind the Cardinals pitchers, who had come out to warm up. There was virtually no one else around, as everyone stayed in left field trying to catch batted balls.
The strategy paid off as Trever Miller tossed me ball #2 on his way into the dugout,
For the last group, I went back to left field where I offered to glove trick a ball for a young fan. I had the ball in my glove when Euclides Rojas foiled the attempt by throwing his glove at mine, jarring the ball loose.
Rojas marched over and grabbed the ball, then something really weird happened.
He flipped me the ball.
It was the first time Rojas had ever acknowledged me, let alone toss me a ball.
Anyhow, true to my promise, immediately I handed the ball away to the young fan.
Batting practice had finished at noon, so I left too to be with Amy.
Game: 4 balls (1 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 305 balls (131 hit, 67 thrown, 70 device, 37 found)
Games: 57 games
Career: 1,427 balls
Attendance : 35,402
The Pirates are just a game out of first place. Thus, another sell out crowd today, aided by the fact that there was a skyblast show after the game.
There’s not much to speak of for this entry. I only planned on staying for batting practice and then getting out of there to be with Amy.
Upon entering, a ball landed in the upper bleachers. At this point, only Nick and Zac were in the left field bleachers, and I just happened to be the closest to the staircase when it hit, so I ran up and grabbed it for ball #1.
I made a clean catch a bit later for ball #2 – not sure exactly who hit it. Some Cub. Who knows?
While watching the Cubs, trapped in left field (because the rest of the stadium doesn’t open until 5:30), I watched Carlos Pena, Koyie Hill and others litter the right field wall with home runs. I was hoping to run over and pick some up, but like clockwork, at 5:22, ushers appeared and took all the balls.
They missed one however. Carlos Pena had hit one that hit the chain link fence at the top of the wall and disappeared.
When I ran in to look, it was still there, in the row behind the last row of seats, wedged between concrete and the seats.
That was it for batting practice.
I went for a run later on that night and ended up badly spraining my ankle afterwards. What luck.
Game: 3 balls (3 hit)
Season: 291 balls (128 hit, 61 thrown, 68 device, 34 found)
Games: 52 games
Average: 5.60 balls per game
Career: 1,413 balls
Attendance : 39,235
Amy was working today, so I don’t have any good pictures.
Upon entering the stadium, I found ball #1 about four rows back in left field. It was good to get on the board early, because the last Pirates group did absolutely nothing. Zero home runs.
When the Astros came out, I glove tricked my second ball over by the bullpen.
Most of the Astros pitchers seemed really lazy when it came to shagging, so I was hopeful that I could glove trick a few balls today, but a coach named Suba marched all over the field collecting the balls, as if it was his sole and only purpose with the team.
The first Astros group was weak, but the next group featured Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee along with Jason Michaels, probably the Astros three best BP hitters in that order.
After a couple rounds of going opposite field, Hunter Pence started letting loose and hitting some home runs.
In the span of a minute, I caught three balls cleanly, all on the fly, here:
Ball #3 was hit by Pence. It was basically right at me. I stood up on the bleacher as I made the catch, just out of habit. Moments later he hit another home run that was slightly to my left. I tracked the ball and caught it reaching forward and made the basket catch as several fans turned away, blinded by the sun.
Jason Michaels hopped in the cage and promptly hit a home run which I caught on the fly. Since there was so much action in such a short amount of time, people started noticing me and asking me questions such as how many that was for me, etc. No one gave me a hard time though.
Moments later I snagged another ground rule double, and then finished things off with a clean catch of yet another home run.
I gave away one of my extra decoy balls to a young boy whose father was asking me for ballhawking tips for his son.
I watched the game from the Club Seats.
I picked a great spot for a foul ball. The only thing in front of me was a camera well,
and a wide open row to my right.
But as luck would have it not a single ball would be hit within three sections either way of me.
Game: 8 balls (6 hit, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 280 balls (121 hit, 56 thrown, 64 device, 30 found)
Games: 48 games
Average: 5.83 balls per game
Career: 1,402 balls
Today was the fourth straight sell out game at PNC Park, the first such string of games in the ten year history of the ballpark. Also, the Pirates decided not to take batting practice today, which left just the Astros.
My first ball of the day was a clean catch on the fly in left field. I don’t know who hit it, but Amy got a pic of me labeling it after the fact:
There was a bunch of waiting around,
because the Astros as you may know suck. They are the worst team in baseball. Apart from Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence, there’s not much to look forward to in an Astros BP.
My second ball was a scrum ball that I corralled under a bleacher. Here I am after grabbing it:
The ball had a distinctive marking. Do you know who hit it?
Read backwards. Jason Michaels. There is a clear MICHAE and beneath that a PRO (from Pro Model on the bat). This is an ultra rare marking, and I only at least one other one where the player who hit it has his name visible on the ball from the bat.
We returned downtown later on in the day to watch the fireworks on the North Shore.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 2 balls (2 hit)
Season: 272 balls (115 hit, 56 thrown, 63 device, 29 found)
Games: 47 games
Average: 5.78 balls per game
Career: 1,394 balls
Since Amy and I had been in Baltimore the past two days, we decided to attend the Pirates vs Nationals game in Washington DC on our travel day back to Pittsburgh.
We began the day on the pier in Annapolis, where our hotel was located,
and ate lunch at Jimmy John’s, a sandwich shop. I got a turkey sandwich and was grossed out by the weird alfalfa greens that they put on it. I’d never had them, and didn’t want to try them. Gross.
We then went to Washington and Nationals Park.
At the gate, we were first in line, and we ran into Zack Hample, who had made the trip from New York City.
Zack is on a quest to snag 1,000 baseballs in 2011 – and he credited me breaking his record last year (with 544) as a motivational factor in his endeavor.
Upon entering the park, there were no balls to be found as batting practice hadn’t yet begun. I decided to run over to right field,
but found out that it is now closed off until 5:30, thereby negating an hour of batting practice time there.
I went back to left, and noticed a ball in the bullpen, which I attempted to glove trick, but failed three times as I was reeling it in. Jordan Zimmerman and Colin Balester watched in amusement. Zimmerman threw a ball at my glove at one point to mess with me, which actually ended up in a perfect glove trick spot directly below me and to my right.
After failing and having the ball drop and roll away, Zimmerman threw me a ball for my effort.
After that, I had some bad luck, including one clunk off of my glove, as I unnecessarily jumped to catch it. (I was terrified it was going to hit Amy, who was two rows behind me.) Trying to change my luck, even though the Nationals were still batting, I changed into my Pirates gear.
I also met a ballhawk named Alex from New Jersey from mygameballs
and chatted with Zack for a minute or two when there was some down time.
A bit later, I recovered after a few more close calls with this clean catch.
5:30 rolled around, so I ran over to right field. I ran down to the front row and found Ball #4 in the front row.
I also noticed a ball in the gap in right field, so I glove tricked it, this time quickly and successfully for ball #5. I then proceeded to get yelled at by an usher named Beni or Benji or something like that. The same usher later demanded Alex to give away his baseballs because he was getting too many, and actually wasted about three minutes of my time questioning me where he, and that he owed him baseballs. Pretty ridiculous. Especially because I personally watched him pick up at least three around 5:25 before I went over to right field.
I stayed in right field for the rest of BP.
After batting practice, we left and actually got back home just as the game was ending.
Game: 6 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 1 found)
Season: 270 balls (113 hit, 56 thrown, 63 device, 29 found)
Games: 46 games
Average: 5.87 balls per game
Career: 1,392 balls (I numbered all the balls wrong yesterday, so the first ball was 1382, which is the one I skipped.)