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
Today would be the largest crowd ever to witness a game at PNC Park, as 39, 483 would pack the park.
I was second in line behind Nick Pelescak. Zac Weiss, another Pittsburgh ballhawk would be third. There was lots of time to kill, so we stood around and talked a bit.
And played some catch in front of the gate.
What pitch am I throwing below? It has to do with the Red Sox starting pitcher tonight…
When the gates opened, I found a ball in the front row of section 137 to put me on the board.
A bit later in batting practice, a ball hit off of a the groundskeepers vehicle and settled against the wall in foul territory.
It would’ve been an easy snag – just a reach over the fence. So I ran over to get it. Just as I was entering the seating area in foul territory down the line, a Pirate sliced a line drive of home run distance into the seats. I was in the right place in the right time, as there wasn’t another fan within 100 feet. I walked over and picked it up for ball #2.
In the meantime, the groundskeeper picked the ball up as I was making my way down the stairs.
My third ball was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence here, and nearly took out pitching coach Ray Searage, who was walking over to the fence to give a ball away.
I wouldn’t snag another ball until 5:30.
At 5:30, the center field and right field seats opened, and I found a ball on the stairs in right field for #4 of the day.
Moments later, David Ortiz blasted a ball way over my head. I could tell it was going to carry, so I ran up the stairs towards the top of the Clemente Wall, hoping the ball would settle in a seat or empty row. It hit a seat and completely lost all momentum, and I picked it up a moment later for #5.
In the next group, I noticed a ball had landed in the ivy in center field that might have been reachable.
I made my way down the stairs and as I was under the Clemente Wall walking to center field, I heard WHHHAPPP – the sound of a ball hitting the concrete. A ball had cleared the Clemente Wall completely and was about twenty feet in the air above my head, as it rebounded off of the back wall. I jumped up and snagged it for ball #6.
‘Wow, that was lucky,’ I thought.
Not but fifteen seconds later, the same thing happened. Completely obstructed from the path of the ball, another home run cleared everything, hit a Red Sox fan, and deflected directly to me for ball #7.
Two completely lucky snags in a matter of seconds. I was later told it was Jarrod Saltalamacchia who hit those two balls.
In the meantime, another ballhawk snagged that ball in the ivy in center field. Nothing really happened in center field, except David Ortiz sauntered out to receive the adulation of Red Sox nation.
I spent the last fifteen minutes in left field, and this was the scene.
There was no where to go. I stayed over towards the foul pole where I had at least a half row of range, but no balls came withing fifty feet of me.
After batting practice, I left PNC Park for a bit. I checked the bushes to baseballs, but didn’t find any.
I also took one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken after looking through those bushes.
The Pirates ended up winning the game, setting the stage for a possibly sweep of the mighty Boston Red Sox tomorrow.
After the game Amy and I found a secluding spot in a park during the firework show and
Anyway, before heading home we stopped off at a Giant Eagle and picked up a few snacks for a possible road trip next week… It will probably be the last extended road trip for awhile because… well, we’re so pregnant.
And tomorrow is the baby shower!
Game: 7 balls (5 hit, 2 found)
Season: 251 balls (101 hit, 53 thrown, 60 device, 28 found)
Games: 43 games
Average: 5.84 balls per game
Career: 1,373 balls
The Red Sox were in town, bringing their well traveled fan base into PNC Park.
I got to the park early, and waited at the gate until I saw the Pirates pitchers begin to take batting practice.
When it got underway, I headed down to the Riverwalk and searched through the weeds, just in case either team took early batting practice.
There was nothing. And no luck on the Riverwalk today.
When the gates opened, there were already seven people in the bleachers with guest passes, so the Easter Eggs were long gone.
In about the first minute of batting practice, I caught a home run on the fly in section 136. Here I am labeling it:
My second ball also came during the first five minutes, and it was a glove trick ball. After adjusting the band twice, I reeled it in.
The Pirates only hit until 5:06, which is a growing trend this year. They’ve been ending between 5:03-5:06 lately.
During the Boston Red Sox first group, which featured a bunch of lefties, I was able to snag an Adrian Gonzalez ground rules double in the left field corner.
It bounced into the first row in the aisle where I picked it up.
Then BP slowed way down.
For the last group of Red Sox batters, I stood on the Clemente Wall in right field, where I caught a home run on the fly. I was checking the rooftops below the wall for baseballs (which occasionally there are. Its rare, but it happens), when I caught the track of a fly ball. I was just re-entering the seats, and ran to my left and made a snag on the move. I caught it in front of the guy in the black shirt:
Amy and I left right after batting practice.
Game: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 device)
Season: 244 balls (96 hit, 53 thrown, 60 device, 26 found)
Games: 42 games
Average: 5.81 balls per game
Career: 1,366 balls
I decided that rather than doing three separate entries, that I would lump all three Orioles games together in one entry.
I began Monday on the Riverwalk, which ended up being a waste of time for about the tenth game in a row. There simply hasn’t been any action there since Pedro Alvarez went on the disabled list.
Upon entering the stadium, I caught two baseballs on the fly within the first two minutes of batting practice. They were both hit by Matt Diaz, and I caught both of them here:
I wasn’t expecting a huge crowd on Monday, but I was wrong. There were enough fans that things got crowded enough where range became a problem at 5:30. During the Orioles batting practice, I glove tricked a ball along the wall in left field, and caught an unidentified Orioles home run on the fly here:
After batting practice I got some extra tickets scanned and got two bags filled with photo wraps. It was too crowded to compete for outfield toss ups, so I watched most of the game from beneath the left field bleachers.
There was a gigantic crowd for a Tuesday, with over 33,000 in attendance for a 1971 World Series stein.
The Pirates stopped hitting at 5:03. Wow. Three minutes of batting practice time. Nice.
Nick Markakis hit a home run that landed just out of reach in the ivy in center field. I went over to take a look at the ball, and deemed that it was definitely gettable with the right device. I let it go though, as there was a supervisor nearby.
I left immediately after batting practice.
There as no batting practice today, as it was a day game after a night game, and the players needed the extra sleep. (Poor babies).
Anyhow, the Markakis ball from yesterday was still in center field:
So I grabbed a squeegee and prodded it loose, reached through the railing and grabbed it to avoid a shutout.
When the Orioles came out to throw (and only two sets of pitchers came out), I was lucky enough to snag a ball from Clay Rapada.
He tossed his ball towards the crowd, and two other fans tried to make the snag along with me. The ball clanked off of our hands/gloves, bounced on the warning track, where I snagged it with my right hand almost immediately.
In other news:
I had x-rays done on my hand that I hurt on June 7th when racing Nick into foul territory to snag a ball. Since then, I’ve had no strength in my middle and ring fingers and can only move them minimally. Since they haven’t been healing, I decided I needed to go to the doctor, even though I’m one of those stubborn people that hate going to doctors.
The x-rays came back negative, but the doctor said I have tendinitis, and must refrain from using my left hand for the next five days. That’s my glove hand. Not good. She gave me some anti inflammatory meds and said to come back if it doesn’t get better.
To cap things off, I tweaked my back on the way to the doctor by lifting and carrying a giant trash bag with nineteen 3- pound boxes in it. I can’t win.
6/20: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 device)
6/21: 2 balls (1 hit, 1 device)
6/22: 2 balls (1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 240 balls (93 hit, 53 thrown, 59 device, 26 found)
Games: 41 games
Average: 5.85 balls per game
Career: 1,362 balls
Attendance: 22,447, 33,806, 19,418
*Last year on 6/22 I had snagged 249 baseballs in 38 games. 132 of the 249 from last year were batted balls. I miss Lastings Milledge.
After a poor performance on Sunday, I was hoping for some luck. It wouldn’t happen, at least not on the Riverwalk.
A ball flew out of the stadium about 100 feet to my left and landed in the river. The ball was very reachable with my water device, but the device failed. It never was able to scoop up the ball, and after a minute or two, the ball sank.
To make matters worse, as I was attempting to snag that ball from the river, a ball bounced out of the stadium right where I had been previously standing. It would’ve been an easy snag. That one ended up in the river, and sank to its final resting place in the depths of the murky Allegheny as well.
When the gates opened, I snagged ball #1 off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. It was a home run that landed in the front row near the bullpen. I ran over and picked it up, as the other ballhawks were searching for balls down by the left field foul pole. McCutchen was in the last Pirates group because he was given the day off from starting today, despite having an 11 game hitting streak, and being 6 for 12 lifetime against Mets starter Mike Pelfrey. Cutch would later enter the game late and single to extend his streak to twelve games.
A few minutes later, McCutchen hit an absolute blast more than half way up into the second deck of bleachers. I ran up and found it after a brief search for ball #2.
Ball #3 was glove tricked at the base of the wall in left field when the Mets were hitting, as the Pirates ran off the field at 5:05 again. Lame.
My fourth ball was tossed by Jason Pridie. I had asked him for a ball a few times earlier, and this time he tossed it high above the other fans right to me four rows back.
Ball #5 was glove tricked over by the bullpen.
My sixth ball was a home run hit by an unidentified Met. It landed in a small crowd of people and shot straight up in the air. I hopped up and snagged it.
Less than a minute later, I snagged ball #7 on the fly, on the run in section 134. It brought a few grumbles from the crowd, as the average fan doesn’t like seeing someone get more than one ball, especially in such a short span of time.
A minute after that, I snagged ball #8, which landed on the cross aisle in left field, bounced off the upper bleachers, and rolled to the railing separating the wheel chair section from the aisle, where I had been blocked off from getting up onto the cross aisle. I reached down and grabbed the ball.
Another ball was left unattended by the bullpen, so I went over and glove tricked that one for ball #9.
I then made my way over to right field and was able to snag a Daniel Murphy home run ball that landed in section 140. It hit near the top of section 140, and I snagged it as it trickled down a few rows right to me.
That was ball #10, making today a total success.
I would snag another ball, #11 of the day behind section 141. I caught it on the fly between the wall and the seats that you see here:
I had to jump for the ball, as the ball carried on me a little, and I was boxed in by the seats from behind.
Ball #12 came during the game and was thrown to me by Garrett Jones in the 5th inning. I picked a nice open space on the Clemente wall and got him to toss me his between inning warm up ball.
That would be the last ball I snagged today, as I spent the seventh inning with Amy on her break. She bought me this with her Pirates Bucks ($5 Gift Certificates that workers get every game):
It’s a therma base pullover – like what the players wear during BP when its chilly. I am lucky to have such a wonderful fiancee.
Game: 12 balls (7 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 218 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 36 games
Average: 6.06 balls per game
Career: 1,340 balls
The New York Mets are in town for a four game series. I would stay for the entire game, as my fiancee Amy had to work today.
The day got off to a good start as Kevin Correia tossed me ball #1 of the day shortly after the gates opened. Here he, second to the left. The group you see below from left to right is Chris Resop, Joel Hanrahan, Daniel McCutchen (obstructed), Kevin Correia, and Josh Harrison.
Hanrahan especially seems to dislike the regular ballhawks, for no other reason than he sees us get balls. I wish he’d be a little less rude about our hobby. It wasn’t that long ago (2009) that he had a 7.71 ERA for the Nationals and was dubbed ‘Gas-Can’ Hanrahan for his ability to come into the game and douse the situation with gasoline for the other team to blow the game wide open.
Now he’s a shut down closer. He just seems a bit arrogant / unfriendly, which I hope will change.
My second ball was a ground rule double that took a huge bounce, hit off of a railing separating the handicapped section from the lower bleachers, and settled at my feet, basically. Here’s a straight on view of where I snagged it:
That was all I got during the Pirates batting practice, which ended around 5:14. When the Mets came out to hit, I was able to glove trick a ball in left field, despite manager Terry Collins closing in on it. It was a quick 10 second glove trick execution. Unfortunately, Collins stayed in the left field corner and gobbled up at least three other balls I could’ve glove tricked.
And at 5:30, when right field opened, I was able to get Jason Pridie to throw me one as well.
My sixth ball was glove tricked a bit later back in left field near the foul pole. I stood in foul territory to the right of the foul pole.
My seventh and final ball was a home run hit by Ronny Paulino. I was distracted by a potential ground rule double by the bullpen. The next ball was a home run that I caught a glimpse of as it was in mid flight. Since I got a late break on the ball, I wasn’t able to get into position to make the catch, but I did catch it immediately as it hit a bleacher and deflected right to me here:
As for the game, I tried for two warm up balls, failed, and walked around to pass the time until the 7th inning, when I would leave to go get the car to park close by so Amy wouldn’t have to walk far when she got off of work.
Tomorrow brings a Saturday Sky-Blast sold out game. Fun.
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device,)
Season: 199 balls (76 hit, 47 thrown, 51 device, 25 found)
Games: 33 games
Average: 6.03 balls per game
Career: 1,321 balls
Note: Last year, my 33rd game was on June 15, 2010.
My stats after that game were:
2010 through 33 games: 206 balls (110 hit, 53 thrown, 19 device, 24 found)
Average: 6.24 balls per game
If you hadn’t noticed, I have snagged 34 less batted balls through the same amount of games. That’s because BP at PNC Park has been pretty poor by and large this year. Statistics last year were buoyed by the likes of Lastings Milledge and Ronny Cedeno in the final group. My thrown balls are almost the same, glove tricks are way up, as the other glove-tricker at PNC Park isn’t being as aggressive as he was last year. So, with crappy Pirates BPs everyday, all regulars at PNC are experiencing deflated stats. Nick Pelescak had 173 last year at this point, all of our ‘hit’ numbers are down.
Today was the final day that the Diamondbacks were in town, and I for one, am not sorry to see them leave. They just don’t hit many balls into the stands, which makes for a boring batting practice.
To make matters worse, the Pirates did not hit today. They skipped batting practice, so at 5PM, when the gates opened, the Diamondbacks were already on the field hitting.
And ball #3 was a ground rule double that I snagged in section 136. Nick Pelescak gets an assist as he slowed the ball down by deflecting it. Playing ground rule doubles can be a tricky thing.
and moments later I snagged another ground rule double for ball #4 in virtually the same spot.
Game: 6 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device,)
Season: 192 balls (74 hit, 44 thrown, 49 device, 25 found)
Games: 32 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,314 balls