After a dismal two ball day yesterday, things got off to a much better start. I snagged two balls within the first fifteen seconds today. That’s right, it took a full BP to get just two yesterday.
Upon running in, there were several fans already in the stands for a season ticket holder batting practice viewing event. They were near the bullpen, so I ran towards the foul pole, where I found ball #1 in the third row back. Also, a home run landed near the foul pole as I entered the bleachers and was picked up by a Pirates season ticket representative. He tossed it to me for ball #2.
(By the way, the Pirates ran off the field at 5:05. Perhaps at 90 degrees it was too hot to take a full BP?)
By the way, the entire first group of Diamondbacks were ALL left handed, so there was virtually no chance of any batted balls landing in left field. Rather than go over and play the Riverwalk for deep home runs, I elected to stay in left field and hope for a toss up. It paid off as Josh Collmenter tossed me ball #4 of the day.
I had planned on running over to right field as four home runs landed there during the Diamondbacks first group, but I watched as the ushers systematically scanned each and every row and picked up all four. So, figuring that there wasn’t much to be found in right, I ran over to foul territory to see if a foul ball that had been hit earlier in batting practice was still there.
It paid off as I found ball #5 in the handicapped section in foul territory. As I was leaving to return to the right field bleachers, a batter hit a foul ball into the upper seats. I simply turned around to go claim it. I had seen where the ball landed, but I couldn’t find it. Two other ballhawks started to come over to look and claim it for themselves, so I pulled some trickery and bent down as if I had found it, and stood back up holding the previous ball that I had found. This bought me another minute or two, as the other ballhawks went back to their spots along front row in foul territory. Eventually, I found the ball, it had rolled the whole way down to row A in section 130. It was ball #6.
The entire batting practice there were three home runs to left field. That’s it. It didn’t help that the Diamondbacks were being frugal and were tossing up precious few baseballs. Nick Pelescak capped off batting practice by shouting at the Diamondbacks as they ran off the field, “You’re all a bunch of cheapskates!”
The D’Backs BP has been the worst I’ve seen this year. One more game with them this year on Thursday, and then the Mets come into town for 4. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season: 186 balls (71 hit, 42 thrown, 48 device, 25 found)
Games: 31 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,308 balls
It was a Sunday game, which was a day game following a night game, thereby decreasing the chances of batting practice.
I got to the stadium around 11AM, and saw no trace of the batting cage or screens. So, I hung out on the bridge for twenty minutes, where I could see directly into the park. I then left, resigned to the fact that there would be no batting practice. Coupled with 35,000 people at the game, it just wasn’t worth running around all game for a ball or two.
I started walking back to the car when I got a text from my fiancee Amy, who was working the game. She told me that they were wheeling out the screens and that batting practice would be on.
I jogged back to the park and made it into the left field bleachers by 11:35, 35 minutes after the gates had opened.
Only the Phillies would be hitting today.
And, it was packed.
The move paid off, as I caught a Ben Francisco home run ball on the fly here for ball #3:
I didn’t snag anything else until the 5th inning. A large group of people left the front row in center field, so I went down for a minute to give myself a chance at an Andrew McCutchen warm up ball. He fired a perfect strike to me, while I was on the phone with Amy, who I was meeting up with for some food on her break.
That would be my fourth and final ball of the day.
Game: 4 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 177 balls (67 hit, 40 thrown, 47 device, 23 found)
Games: 29 games
Average: 6.10 balls per game
Career: 1,299 balls
Amy and I spent the afternoon being shown a couple houses by a realtor and then headed to PNC Park.
Today was a Fireworks night, and the Phillies were in town. AND it was the largest crowd ever recorded in PNC Park history. That doesn’t make a good ballhawking environment.
Fan-photo day with the players on Federal Street from 3-4 pm.
Immediately upon entering, Kevin Correia tossed me a ball to put me on the board.
I would go the next thirty minutes without snagging anything. The home runs that were hit, were over my head and were gobbled up by other fans. Eventually, a fan in the front row misplayed a home run ball. The ball hit his glove square and fell back onto the field. It was an easy glove trick opportunity. I asked the fan, who was maybe 14, if he wanted me to get the ball for him. He said yes, so I glove tricked it, and handed over ball #2.
And another was a Chris Snyder bomb that sailed between the rotunda and upper bleachers and bounced into a concession stand, where it was thrown to me by a worker.
At the end of the Pirates BP, I was flat out robbed by a Phillies fan. Daniel McCutchen looked directly at me and tossed me a ball. This guy in Phillies gear, who the ball was clearly NOT intended for, quickly reached in front of my glove and intercepted it.
My fifth ball was glove tricked here during the Phillies BP,
and I glove tricked another near the end of the BP over along the left field foul line. That was it for today.
There wasn’t much point of trying for home run balls unless they were right at me or toss ups. Here was my view for the last 45 minutes or so of batting practice:
After batting practice, I left, went to the gym.
Here are today’s baseballs (five pictured because one was given away):
Game: 6 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 173 balls (66 hit, 39 thrown, 45 device, 23 found)
Games: 28 games
Average: 6.18 balls per game
Career: 1,295 balls
It’s been about 10 days since my last game. I’ve cut down on the road trips since last year, as an average trip to Cleveland costs $75 a game, and a trip to Washington or Baltimore averages about $100 a game in gas and tolls. It wasn’t worth it to me.
Amy and I have spent the last ten days scouring the housing market. I’ve decided that I want to have a nice house for my baby daughter (due in August) to grow up in. Our current one bed room apartment just isn’t cutting it.
Amy and I have been putting together lists, driving around, and scratching off 80% of the houses we drive by. We’ve toured six solid contenders so far, and are looking at houses in the $150,000-$200,000 range. All of the ones we like are 200k, which is a huge commitment. So, as you can see, at least for the time being, I would rather spend my money on a house than ballhawking trips as I have in the past.
Anyhow, my first two balls of the day came from Brandon Wood. The first one was thrown to me from left field, but fell well short. The ball rested on the warning track, where I glove tricked it for ball #1.
I usually do not use my glove trick during the Pirates batting practice. I figure that if I am seen using the glove trick it will make the Pirates pitchers less likely to want to toss me a ball. However, since many of the Pirates pitchers seem to dislike the fact that I am there every game, I just went for it.
Wood did not see me use the glove trick, and turned and threw a perfect strike to me for ball #2 at the end of the Pirates batting practice.
My fifth and final ball was glove tricked in right field.
Game: 5 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 167 balls (64 hit, 38 thrown, 41 device, 23 found)
Games: 27 games
Average: 6.19 balls per game
Career: 1,289 balls
I wasn’t planning on attending this game. I was expecting to drop Amy off at work, and then go home to package up all of the bobbleheads that I had sold. Making batting practice more unlikely was the fact that it started to rain at 10:30 AM, a half hour before the gates were to open.
I could see the tarp on the field from the center field (Stargell statue) gate. I thought about leaving, but I thought I noticed that the screens were out on the field in foul territory.
utside the stadium, there were plenty of festivities, including the March of Dimes finish line, right outside the left field gate.
When I entered the stadium, my first ball of the day came from Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton by the bullpen.
When Morton had finished throwing, I called out for his warm up ball. A few seconds later, he tossed a ball up, which I caught. A thirteen year old in front of me was none too pleased, but I hadn’t heard him ask for it. I was going to give it to him until his dad started b*******. He got a ball a minute later anyhow.
The whole stadium opened at 11:30AM, and there was still no action. The tarp had at least been taken off the field, so I walked around the lower level looking for easter eggs, but predictably, there were none.
Since I was having good luck with the glove trick, I invited Jim to glove trick a ball on the warning track that I could’ve had. I figured I’d repay the favor for him laying off on a Miguel Cabrera home run catch yesterday.
I made my way over to center field near the end of the Tigers BP and glove tricked a ball off of the warning track. Originally, the ball bounced on the warning track, and I misplayed it. The ball hit my glove and fell back onto the field. There was a little girl right next to me, so when I glove tricked the ball, I turned and handed it to her.
Batting practice ended at 12:15 PM, (The Tigers didn’t take a full BP, they only hit for about 30 minutes) so there was an hour and fifteen minutes until the game was to begin.
I returned to the game, but was met with bad luck. Garrett Jones tossed his warm up ball to me in the 4th inning, but this guy in the white shirt interfered. The ball was glanced by his arm, hit my glove, and bounced below where a random fan grabbed it.
Basically the same thing happened in the fifth inning, when McCutchen threw his warm up ball to me. I was awaiting the catch in the handicapped section in center field when a guy jumped out of his seat and intercepted it.
Game: 6 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 4 device)
Season: 156 balls (60 hit, 36 thrown, 37 device, 22 found)
Games: 25 games
Average: 6.24 balls per game
Career: 1,278 balls
Today was Amy and my 8 month anniversary, and we packed in a full day’s worth of activities. We started by going around to garage sales and buying lots of clothes for our daughter. There were some pretty nice things that we found that looked ‘like-new.’
Today was also Neil Walker bobblehead day, so a sellout crowd of 38,000 would be on hand. Therefore, it was important to get on the board early. When I ran into the left field bleachers, I found ball #1 laying in the front row in this area.
Nick had the lead, but we both took a wrong route to the ball. Since it wasn’t at the bottom of the rotunda, I figured it was on the rotunda. I raced up and was correct. It was sitting on the rotunda, waiting to be claimed. Amy got this shot of us returning from the chase.
My third ball of the day was a clean catch in the front row of section 134. I had to reach out over the wall and make the catch as there was some pressure put on me from the side. I reached out and swiped at the ball and luckily made the catch.
It was a particular sunny day, and I lost two balls in the sun. One would’ve been an easy grab, and it zipped by my head. The other I would’ve made on a cloudy day. That’s one of the negatives of PNC Park. Left field is the sun field, so folks in left get blinded by the sun, especially on fly balls.
Check out the crowd:
That’s the downfall of PNC Park’s bleachers. There’s not much room when it gets crowded. There’s about six rows in the bleachers, and they get packed, severaly limiting a ballhawk’s range.
I did get ball #4 with the glove trick in left field before heading over to center field.
The guy in the red shirt, who’s usually aggressive, backed off and let me make the catch. I appreciated it, as I probably would’ve missed it had he tried for it. It was a ball I had to reach high and to my left to catch, as it was slicing back towards right field.
My seventh and final ball came at the conclusion of BP. The Tigers left a ball on the warning track in left field, so I went over and glove tricked it for my seventh ball of the day.
After BP, I went to turn in 54 tickets for Neil Walker bobbleheads. I traded in a bunch of my season tickets so I could turn a profit on the bobbleheads. I made the mistake of pulling out the tickets and counting how many I had. As soon as I did, I was surrounded by people waving twenty dollar bills at me, offering to buy my tickets. The game was sold out, so there was nothing left at the box office. I relented and sold twenty of the tickets within 5 minutes. So, I went back to my car with a pocket overflowing with cash and 34 bobbleheads. Amy and I headed home to spend the rest of the evening baseball free.
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 3 device, 1 found)
Season: 150 balls (59 hit, 35 thrown, 33 device, 22 found)
Games: 24 games
Average: 6.25 balls per game
Career: 1,272 balls
Batting practice today was rough for me. The Tigers were in town for an interleague matchup, which would lead to larger crowds. During the Pirates batting practice, I ended up doing this for much of the time:
I would not catch a single batted ball or get any balls thrown to me from the Pirates pitchers.
I slowed down a bit after that, trying to be more careful, especially because Amy was at the game with me. She hates to see me get hurt, and I didn’t want to upset her.
I didn’t get a single ball during the Pirates batting practice, so I changed into my Tigers gear, hoping maybe to at least have a ball tossed to me.
However, luck continued to elude me. Here’s a home run ball that would be caught by a child in the front row.
It was my first ball of the day, and it was about 5:25PM. A few minutes later, the rest of the stadium would open, and I had been keeping tabs on a ball that was sliced into the seats down the left field line. The only problem was, there was a bunch of other folks waiting to get the green light to run up the stairs to the ball. The people I was up against had the advantage of running up escalators, while I chose to go with the steps in the middle, which meant I’d have to run twice as fast as them. I ended up being the first person to the top of the stairs to reach the main level, and raced down to the lower level, where I found ball #2 waiting for me.
I wouldn’t snag another ball for the rest of batting practice.
After batting practice ended, the Tigers left a ball on the warning track. They had run off the field, so I set up my glove trick:
Lowered it over the ball,
And pulled it in (after a couple readjustments with the rubber band)
Here are today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 3 balls (2 device, 1 found)
Season: 143 balls (56 hit, 35 thrown, 30 device, 21 found)
Games: 23 games
Average: 6.22 balls per game
Career: 1,265 balls