It definitely wasn’t a good day for ballhawks. Before the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30, only one pair of pitchers threw. That’s it. It was Bronson Arroyo and another Reds player. When they were done, they threw their baseballs into the stands – which were quickly retrieved and pocketed by ushers.
Luckily, an usher had found two baseballs in center field and tossed one to Ian Weir, who was closing in on his 100th lifetime baseball, and me. The ball was soaked, but it didn’t matter – I was on the board.
There was a ball on the grass near the Reds dugout which was picked up by the head groundskeeper as the groundscrew took the tarp off the field. It was obviously soaked. He was pulling the tarp off of the infield with his co-workers and had the baseball in his other hand, looking at it.
Then he glanced up into the stands.
I was basically the only one around, and I was half way up in the lower seating bowl. I held up my glove. He threw the ball in my direction off balance, kind of like a third baseman throws a bunt that he is charging and picking up barehanded.
I only stayed until 6PM. I was content with two baseballs. I only really came down to the stadium because I had 17 extra tickets and I just figured I’d get the shirts by getting the tickets scanned. Plus, I wanted to go be with Amy and Olivia!
Here are today’s baseballs, soaked – they are staying in my garage:
Game: 2 balls (2 thrown)
Season: 411 balls (173 hit, 88 thrown, 87 device, 56 found)
Games: 76 games
Average: 5.41 per game
Career: 1,533 balls
There were two new bag checkers at the gate today and they made a huge fuss over the line. First, they made us all back up 15 feet, and then the gate supervisor in white and yellow started getting sarcastic with Ian and Nick because they weren’t backed up an additional foot beyond his arbitrary line.
Anyhow, I got lucky and found three balls in left field today upon running in, and then quickly caught two home runs on the fly. The first was running to my right here:
And the other home run was caught in the front row after I climbed over two bleachers here:
I looked up at the clock. It was 5:01. I have quickly snagged five balls within the first minute. Surely I would reach double digits today.
After a few minutes of inactivity when a lefty was in the cage, I took a few minutes to write the numbers on those five balls before they got all confused.
With only myself, Ian Weir and Nick Pelescak actively competing for balls, and another low crowd, this were looking up.
However, I wouldn’t snag another ball for over an hour.
That’s how bad Cardinals BP was.
Since the Cardinals were so stingy with tossing up baseballs yesterday, when the Pirates left the field, I didn’t even bother changing into my Cardinals shirt. I just threw on my Cardinals hat.
So, I made my way all over the place from 5:01-6:05 trying to snag balls. Center Field, Right Field, Left Field. I thought my streak of three games with at least 8 balls would be snapped. However, in the last group, I made a clean catch of a Tony Cruz home run here:
The tracked down another one of his home runs under neath the Rotunda for ball #7.
Finally, in his last round of cuts, I made yet another clean catch of yet another Tony Cruz home run ball for ball #8.
After batting practice, Amy, Olivia and I made our way over to the All You Can Eat Seats. I had never eaten there before, and since I was hungry I ate three hamburgers, a hot dog, and some popcorn before the game.
During the game we sat here:
But I didn’t come close to snagging anything else.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Oh, and after the game, my check engine light came on, putting in jeopardy my weekend trip unless I can find time to get it fixed between now and then.
Game: 8 balls (5 hit, 3 found)
Season: 398 balls (172 hit, 84 thrown, 87 device, 55 found)
Games: 73 games
Average: 5.45 per game
Career: 1,520 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 3 (maybe 4 if I do an away game this weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 15 (5.0 per game)
Amy pointed out that I forgot to mention that we attended a Renaissance Festival over the weekend. Here’s a picture from that.
Shooting arrows was the highlight because I was surprisingly good at it. Anyone, this really doesn’t tie in at all, unless I made some weird caption like, “Erik Jabs aims for 413 as the season winds down, to break his 2nd best single season mark.”
The Cardinals are in town now and have been really stingy this year at tossing up baseballs, so I was going to need some luck today.
Upon running in, I spotted a ball in the front row. I ran over to snag it when out of no where a ticket seller who works at the windows on the first base side of the Honus Wagner statue shot out of his chair in the handicapped seats and raced down and grabbed the ball. He literally snatched it as I was closing in and not but five feet away from grabbing it. Nick Pelescak was right there too and might have grabbed it also. We both gave him a look like, “Are you serious?” He said he was going to give it to a little kid (even though he had already been there since God knows when and had a whole bag full of baseballs that he had already picked up from the hour of batting practice when there were no fans in the stadium). Nick started saying some stuff to him, and I’ll try and get his name and picture tomorrow. Anyhow, that ball was kind of important because it would end up costing me my first double digit game since June.
Then I went on a hit-ball snagging rampage from the end of the Pirates BP through the Cardinals BP. Every ball I snagged the rest of the day was a batted ball.
I caught a Pirates home run as I walked up the bleachers one after the other and made a pretty difficult clean catch here:
When the Cardinals came out, I snagged two Matt Holliday home runs within 20 second of one another. They may have been back to back.
One was a home run that landed on a staircase and stayed on the steps. I scrambled up the steps and grabbed it with my bare hand as another ballhawk reached for it a split second late with his glove.
The next pitch a ball landed about twelve rows up into the upper bleachers. I raced up and snagged it as a few other ballhawks raced after it
My fifth ball of the day was a home run that I picked up after it bounced off a bleacher. A young ballhawk who was maybe 10 years old tried to rip it from my glove, so after I had possession of it I asked if he’d gotten a ball yet. Nick Pelescak standing nearby said, “Yeah he got one already,” so the ultra aggressive young fan just walked away. There was a lot of random non-regulars there getting lots of baseballs today.
Ball #6 was really ridiculously lucky. A deep home run landed in the wheel chair section and as I was drifting over, it hit something and took a soft ricochet right at me. I snagged it immediately in the air. That was truly lucky.
I was later told by Nick that ball #6 was hit by Albert Pujols.
After spending an unsuccessful round in right field for a group of solely left handed hitters, I made my way back to left field and immediately snagged a ground rule double near the bullpen:
Immediately, I thought it would be pretty cool to get one more ball. I had gotten 8 balls on Saturday and Sunday, and wanted to continue that streak to three games.
By the way, look how EMPTY it was at 6 o’clock!
Anyhhow, ball #8 happened when Tony Cruz launched a deep fly ball that sailed way over my head. Realizing it was headed toward the rotunda. I just turned and ran underneath the rotunda, and when it started bouncing around the concourse, I tracked it down for ball #8.
For good measure, Cruz lifted another home run at the very end of batting practice that I caught right behind this lady’s head.
Amy and I had club seats for today’s game, but I didn’t feel like staying, even though I was on 9 balls and only needed one more for double digits. I sold the seats after we left the park, and then we went and got dinner and I went to the gym. I felt it was a better usage of my time than running all over the ballpark trying for one more ball. Plus, we plan on staying at tomorrow’s game as we have tickets in a section that I’ve never sat in before…
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 9 balls (8 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 390 balls (167 hit, 84 thrown, 87 device, 52 found)
Games: 72 games
Average: 5.42 per game
Career: 1,512 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 4 (maybe 5 if I do an away game next weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 23 (5.75 per game)
Sundays usually are rather uneventful. Typically, there isn’t batting practice since its a day game that follows a night game. However, today was another lucky Sunday at PNC Park – both teams would take a full batting practice.
For the first half hour, fans aren’t allowed to enter the seats. For whatever stupid reasoning, season ticket holders are allowed in from Monday-Saturday, but not Sundays. As a result, I stood behind section 141.
And got Ross Ohlendorf to toss me my first ball of the day.
Ohlendorf, a right handed pitcher, was wearing a glove on his right hand and throwing balls into the ball boy left handed. His toss to me was left handed and it just barely cleared the gate. Ross is the friendliest Pirates pitcher when it comes to toss-ups. I really hope he gets his season turned around so he can get some positive momentum going into next year.
Ross tossed up another ball that was right to me, but it hit the gate. An usher walked over and picked up the ball and pocketed it, right in front of six fans who were five feet from the ball.
At 11:30 when the stadium opened, rather than set up shop in left field, I went searching for easter eggs.
I found ball #2 in left field under a bleacher:
Ball #3 along the first base line in the handicapped seats:
And ball #4 a few feet away from my third ball.
I then realized that I was now on 1,499 career baseballs, so I made my way over to the Pirates dugout to try and get a player to toss me #1500. If you read this blog regularly, you may recall my 1,000th ball came last year in Cleveland via the glove trick.
The last Pirates group contained Matt Hague, Gorkys Hernandez, Jason Jaramillo, and Pedro Ciriaco. Once they finished their round, it marked the end of batting practice. On his way into the dugout, I called out to Pedro Ciriaco and asked if he minded tossing me a ball that was directly in his path as he approached. He obliged and flipped me a well worn filthy ball for #1,500.
Here it is:
After batting practice, Amy took this cheesy picture of me and the ball:
Anyhow, moments after I snagged that ball, the Marlins pitchers were finishing up their tosses down the right field line. I threw on my Marlins gear and headed over. It helped that I was *the* only fan there. Not even were any Pirates fans asking for balls. As a result, Clay Hensley threw me ball #6:
and Jose Ceda tossed me ball #7, even though he had seen me get one from Hensley. “You already got one,” he said. “Yes,” I replied, “it’s up to you if you want to give me another one.” Ceda stared at me awkwardly for a moment then threw me the ball.
At 12:00 I headed back to left field and caught a ground rule double off the bat of Jose Lopez here for ball #8.
By the way, there was a special 9-11 logo painted onto the field. Unless you’re under 10 years old, I’m sure we all remember where we were on September 11th 2001. I was a junior in college at Washington & Jefferson and woke up hearing some bewilderment next door. “Those are people jumping from that building!” Someone was yelling. I turned on the TV and watched it all unfold.
Game: 8 balls (1 hit, 4 thrown, 3 found)
Season: 381 balls (159 hit, 83 thrown, 87 device, 52 found)
Games: 71 games
Career: 1,503 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 5 (maybe 6 if I do an away game next weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 32 (6.4 per game)
It was a Saturday, so the gates open an extra half hour early. However, I wasn’t able to take advantage of it, as I didn’t get to snag a ball until 4:50. That was thrown by Alex Presley, pictured at right here:
My second ball of the day was a ground rule double that I snagged here:
A fan in the front row tried to knock it down, but they just slowed it down and it came right to me.
Ball #3 was a glove trick ball that I gave away to another ballhawk who hadn’t gotten one yet.
My fourth ball of the day was a clean catch of an Andrew McCutchen home run ball in section 136. I had to get up on the bleacher to make the catch.
When the Marlins came out, I changed into my Marlins gear and caught a John Buck home run on the fly.
My sixth ball of the day was retrieved using the Cleveland Stick. A ball had landed in the ivy on the ‘S’ in Pirates during the early portion of batting practice. As soon as the rest of the stadium opened, I ran over and knocked it out with the Cleveland stick, and reached in with my hand to pick it up. Pretty simple.
In the mean time, Burke Badenhop spotted me about eight rows back after I had snagged this ball and attempted to toss me a ball, but it ended up short. I could’ve still gotten it, but a younger ballhawk ran by and caught it two rows in front of me. Luckily, Badenhop had another ball in his back pocket that he tossed me for ball #7. This time his throw was right on the money.
My final ball of the day was a towering home run hit by Mike Cameron. I ran to my right, up some steps, and picked the only open row that was available to me and made the clean catch. I had to manuever amongst these stationary fans:
I ended up catching it in the eighth row behind the guy in the gray shirt.
After BP I left, as Amy and Olivia were at home waiting for me.
Game: 8 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 373 balls (158 hit, 79 thrown, 87 device, 49 found)
Games: 70 games
Career: 1,495 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 6
Needed to reach goal: 40 (6.7 per game)
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)