I got to the ballpark around 4:45 pm, and this was the scene at the Riverwalk.
The stairs leading down were blocked off with caution tape because the Allegheny River was overflowing. However, I went down anyway. One ball bounced out as I arrived. Had I been five seconds earlier I would’ve had it, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Here’s a different angle:
My first ball of the day once the stadium opened was snagged here. It was a home run that I chased down here:
The Pirates batting practice continues to be less than stellar, as they fail to reach the seats very often. Once the Pirates were done hitting, I changed into my Brewers gear, and the action began.
The Brewers first group contained Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, and Prince Fielder. They hit a bunch of homers.
I snagged my second ball in section 134 off the bat Jonathan Lucroy.
My third ball was a home run hit by Ryan Braun. I could tell that it was going to be way over my head, so I ran back under the bleachers and snagged it under the rotunda.
My fourth ball was glove tricked right next to the Pirates bullpen door.
I also saw this there:
However, it was 5:28, and I had knocked it snug against the wall and couldn’t see it anymore, as I couldn’t lean out over the wall because of the fencing. I gave up and let it go. Totally forgetting about it.
I checked in right field for an easter egg or two, but there was nothing there, and I didn’t want to miss out on all the action in left field, so I returned to left. The second group also put plenty of balls into the seat.
Rickie Weeks hit a home run ball that I chased down under the rotunda for ball #5. And moments later, a batter that I believe was Casey McGehee hit a home run that also went under the rotunda which I tracked down.
My eighth ball was a glove trick ball snagged right by the 325 sign:
That was it for batting practice. After batting practice, Nick tipped me off to a ball in the bullpen. It was the same ball that I started working on at 5:28 that I had knocked against the wall. I had totally forgotten about it.
Thanks to Ian Weir for taking the picture.
Ball #10 came around 6:55 when Kevin Correia, the Pirates started finished his warm ups in the bullpen. I asked politely for the ball, and he looked up and tossed it to me.
Moments later, Ball #11 came from Jose Tabata in the first inning. I noticed he was looking at a group of college aged folks, so I went and stood directly to their right. Since I was the only one with the glove, he fired me a perfect strike. He put some zip on the throw too.
Notice how small the crowd was at game time. There was a Penguins playoff game, and I doubt that half of the 8,000 fans that bought tickets actually showed up.
Pretty cool huh?
Well, despite the small crowds, I didn’t snag another ball.
Here are today’s 11 baseballs:
And the sweet spots.
Season: 47 balls (17 hit, 9 thrown, 14 device, 7 found)
Games: 7 games
Average: 6.70 balls per game
Career: 1,169 balls
The weather looked a bit questionable earlier in the day, with the hourly forecast calling for a 60% chance of thunderstorms at 5 and 6PM. Luckily, it didn’t happen, and batting practice was on.
After getting shut out during the first Pirates’ group, I got a Ronny Cedeno HR ball that sailed over my head and bounced into the general admission bleachers.
I eventually found the ball after a short search in about the fifth row up.
My second ball was a home run snagged off the bat of Lastings Milledge. It was a line drive right at me that I caught in the air.
In his next round in the cage, Milledge sent another shot to left field which I also caught on the fly here:
Game: 8 balls (7 hit, 1 found)
Season: 312 balls (167 hit, 70 thrown, 31 device, 44 found)
Games: 48 games
Average: 6.50 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 890 balls
Streak: 144 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The day didn’t start off on the right foot, as I was a few minutes late to batting practice. Fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak already had seven balls by the time I entered the stadium. Amazing.
I had some work to do to catch up, as we began the week tied atop the standings of the Ballhawk League (BHL).
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge have been hitting in the last group of Pirates. So, for the 10-15 minutes that we get to see the Pirates hit, at least there’s some right handed semi-power hitters in the group.
I got ball #1 off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. It was a home run that landed in an empty section to my right that I ran over and grabbed.
Soon after, Lastings Milledge hit a ball onto the Rotunda that I ran up the ramp to snag as it slowly rolled down towards me. That would be it for the Pirates portion.
Luckily, the Brewers have been good to me lately. I changed into my Brewers gear.
And then would get started on a nice roll in an empty park.
“I’d better get my glove on,” I thought. No less than seconds after I had my glove on my
hand, Duke delivered his second pitch of the game. Weeks hit a slicing fly ball foul, directly at me. I immediately stood up and went into ballhawk mode. I took several steps to my left and made the clean catch on the fly. It was my first foul ball since snagging my first last year on September 23, 2009.
Upon catching the ball I did a fist bump and a little bit of celebration, which must have caught the eye of Tim Neverett and Bob Walk, who commented on the catch. It was also enough to get FSN to cut back to me.
Someone in the Pirates brass must have seen the catch, because moments later I was approached by a Pirates representative with a mic in hand. He introduced himself, congrulated me on my catch, and explained that he would like to invite me to be on the PNC Park game show “Know Your Buccos,” at the end of the second inning.
As instructed, I went over in the middle of the second and chatted with Joe Klimchak, who explained the game that I would be participating in. Basically, four ‘fun’ facts about a Pirate are presented, and the participant must eliminate the false answer.
When we went live, Joe introduced me, telling the crowd about the foul ball I had just snagged, and explained how I could win the fabulous prize (a $65 Pirates sweatshirt.)
I had to figure out which of the following facts were false regarding Ronny Cedeno:
I knew the Vizquel fact was probably true, given they are both Dominican. I also figured that Old School sounded like a type of movie that a man of Cedeno’s age would enjoy. I was torn between the First Job and the name of his cat.
I thought it over and just thought, “Who would name their cat Meow?” “Come here Meow… that would just sound stupid.” So I eliminated the cat named Meow.
After a few pressure filled seconds, it was revealed that Ronny does not have a cat named Meow, I had eliminated the false answer, and won the $65 jacket.
If you’d like to check out a video of my Know Your Buccos spot, you can check out the youtube link below.
I went back to my seat and watched the rest of the game, glove in hand.
Lightning wouldn’t strike twice. Would it?
Well it did.
Andrew McCutchen came up to bat in the fifth inning.
He fouled off a pitch in the same spot as the Week’s foul ball. I shot up out of my chair immediately when I saw the angle the ball took off the bat. This time, the ball was dying on me. It didn’t quite reach me, as it was about a row and a half ahead of me. I reached down and got it to hit my glove and knocked it into the row directly below me. I would liken the play to a catcher smothering a ball in the dirt. The ball came to a dead stop and I picked up my second foul ball of the day. Amazing.
Would I go on to catch my thirteenth ball of the night? A third foul ball in the game?
It was certainly empty enough for it to happen, as the Pirates were getting blown out, and the weather had turned cold.
There’s probably more fans at high school baseball games, but that’s Pittsburgh on week nights for you. Low, low attendance, especially after 10PM, like it was in the picture above.
I would end the night with those two foul balls, a sweatshirt, twelve total balls snagged, and probably the best ballhawking performance of my career.
Game: 12 balls (10 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 51 balls (34 hit, 7 thrown, 6 device, 4 found)
Games: 8 games
Average: 6.38 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 2
Career: 629 balls
Streak: 104 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 8 games: 31 (Currently I am 20 balls ahead of last year’s career high season pace)
I needed to rebound after driving 4 hours to Washington and only getting three balls, despite a full BP. My redemption would come today.
I arrived at the stadium a few minutes before the gates opened. Although there were no easter eggs that I could find, I did end up getting on the board rather quickly.
My first and second balls that I snagged were off the bat of Jason Jaramillo. The first hit a bleacher, and I ran over and picked up, and the second was a ground rule double that bounced to me over the fence.
For whatever reason, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge were hitting in the last group today. Typically, the last group is reserved for light-hitting backups. If this trend continues, it could be very good, considering there are very few folks at BP early, and both players have home run power.
Anyhow, that was it for Pirates BP. Two balls.
The Brewers came out, and I was hoping for some action. Unfortunately, most Brewers were wearing their warm up jerseys,
so I couldn’t identify many batters, except for obvious ones like Prince Fielder, Craig Counsell or Corey Hart.
Game: 12 balls (8 hit, 3 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 39 balls (24 hit, 6 thrown, 5 device, 4 found)
Games: 7 games
Average: 5.57 balls per game
Career: 617 balls
Streak: 103 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 7 games: 29 (Currently I am 10 balls ahead of last year’s career high season)
It was a terrible weekend in terms of ballhawking for me. I had to miss the Friday and Saturday games at PNC Park due to coaching. I could’ve gone Saturday, but I wouldn’t have made the game until 8PM, thereby putting my streak in jeopardy, so I stayed home.
I decided to try and make up some ground by driving to Washington DC for this Sunday day game (after a day game.)
I got to the stadium about a half hour before it was to open. There was virtually no one there when I arrived.
Game: 3 balls (3 hit)
Season: 27 balls (16 hit, 3 thrown, 5 device, 3 found)
Games: 6 games
Average: 4.50 balls per game
Career: 605 balls
Streak: 102 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 6 games: 26
Today started in the same place as yesterday. I stood about a foot from the river’s edge and waited for balls to sail onto the outer concourse of PNC Park, and bounce towards the river. Two other ballhawks, Nick and Bryan Pelescak, joined in the opportunity. Yesterday, one ball came out.
Today, there would also be just one ball that would exit the stadium.
I heard a crackling of branches to my left, and quickly looked to see a ball rolling towards the river. Bryan was the closest to the spot, but wasn’t able to corral the ball before it rolled off of the walkway and into the Allegheny River.
Game: 5 balls (5 hit)
Season: 293 balls (151 hit, 89 thrown, 53 device)
Games: 61 games (6 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.80 balls per game
Career: 459 balls
Streak: 76 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I got to the ballpark an hour early to ensure that I would be at the front of the line.
The ball was in a little divit, so it took about 3-5 minutes of jostling the ball around until I finally had ball #7 in my grasp. The ball had “Expect to Win,” written on it.
I received my final ball, ball #8, of the day off of the bat of Mat Gamel. He hit a high fly ball to right center that I camped out underneath and made an easy catch. This particular ball had the phrase, “Best Catch Ever,” written on it. It made me smile. I was thinking to myself, “Yea, that was a pretty nice catch.”
I like how the Brewers write these crazy things on their baseballs. It’s unique. It’s different.
When the game began, I went over to the Home Run Porch in left field. The closest any ball came was a Ryan Garko foul
ball that traveled about 350 feet. I was about 25 feet away from it and lost a foot race to the spot.
I left about half way through the game.
The sweet spots:
Game: 8 Balls (7 hit, 1 device)
Season: 188 Balls (94 hit, 67 thrown, 27 device)
Games: 36 Games (4 without BP)
Average: 5.22 Balls per Game
Career: 354 Balls
Since the Pirates are out of town for a week, I decided to hit the road. I made the 2 hour trip north to Cleveland. I got to the stadium around 4PM, bought a ticket, and was ninth in line.
When the gates opened, I sprinted to the right field seats, hoping to find an Easter Egg. I’d noticed that several other people ahead of me ran to the seats also. Instead of going directly into the seats, I ran down the concourse towards the visiting team’s bullpen, figuring that all Easter Eggs would already be claimed in center field by those ahead of me. The move paid off. I spotted ball #1 laying in the front row, and quickly ran to it and was on the board.
I did manage to snag ball #2 off of the bat of Victor Martinez. He hit a home run that sailed about 4 or 5 rows over my head. I ran back and grabbed the ball, as two other people also were grasping for it. I made sure to grab this ball off of the concrete with my bare hand.
Ball #3 also came from the Indians. A right handed batter hit a fly ball that bounced on the warning track and over the fence. I quickly moved about five feet to my left and made the catch over some lady’s head. She was sitting down, without a glove, and was mad that she didn’t get the ball. Also, she didn’t even see the ball until after I caught it. “Ohhhh, yoooouuuuuu…” she said.
That was it from the Indians. The Brewers came out to hit. Despite being over 7 hours away from Cleveland, a lot of their fans made the trip.
Batting practice was more crowded than usual.
Game: 4 Balls (3 hit, 1 device)
Season: 180 Balls (87 hit, 67 thrown, 26 device)
Games: 35 Games (4 without BP)
Average: 5.14 Balls per Game
Career: 346 Balls