Amy and I checked out of the hotel around 11:30, and met up with Nick, who had gone out for breakfast. We had five hours to kill before the gates of Progressive Field would open at 4:30, so we walked around Cleveland.
I originally wanted to find a park so I could sit down and read the paper and get out of the sun for a bit. So, we began walking toward Settler’s Landing Park, which I saw on a map on my Iphone. It looked like it was on a little river, which turned out to be a canal. I thought there would be some trees, picnic tables and benches.
I was wrong. We were greeted by a hulking, rusting bridge that looked like it had been swept up by a tornado and driven into the ground vertically. It was such an eyesore.
I guess decades ago it was a drawbridge from a rail line which obviously no longer exists.
We walked around the park, and found nothing but homeless people, and giant sized mushrooms.
After a couple photos of the underside of Cleveland,
we headed toward lake Erie, and walked around the Cleveland Browns Football stadium.
Nick then headed to get lunch and to the ballpark, while Amy and I explored the perimeter of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
and visited the Cleveland Science Center, where we grabbed a bite to eat at a Pizza Hut express, and brushed up on our periodic table of elements. Can you name all of them in the photo?
When it came time to enter the stadium, things got off to a tough start. I only got one ball from the Indians. Chris Perez threw a ball toward a couple of fans in the front row, but they interfered with each other and both missed it. You’ll see me standing there, several rows back.
The ball bounced on the concrete and ended up maybe ten rows back, where I grabbed it to get on the board:
The Indians finished hitting at 5:05. When the Pirates came out, the bad luck continued, and I still only had one baseball when 5:30 rolled around and I headed to left field:
Over in left field, my luck changed as Dusty Brown tossed me ball #2 of the day.
I was hoping that my Pirates gear would make me stand out over the other fans.
I headed back over to center field for the Pirates second group, which featured several lefties.
While there, I caught a Lyle Overbay home run on the fly. It was a full extension leaping catch in this area.
The next batter, Garrett Jones, hit a home run that I caught the next section over, also on the fly for ball #4.
I headed back over to left field for the final group, where Jose Tabata tossed me my fifth ball of the day. He’s on the right, talking with Jose Veras:
I finished batting practice in left field, and ended up with five baseballs on the day.
After batting practice Amy and I spun the Prize Wheel. She won a Duncan Donuts buy one get one free iced coffee coupon, and I won a free drink from Circle K stores. Both garbage prizes. Blah.
After that, we got ice cream cones as we made our way to our seats in the upper deck.
It was a losing battle against the ice cream, which melted faster than we could eat it. Amy’s hands were a mess.
After running to the bathroom to get wet paper towels for us to clean up, it was time for the first pitch.
Our seats were in Section 556, Row X, which was the very last row in the upper deck, and they were great. There was a strong breeze the entire time we were there, and it really kept us cool.
I wish we could’ve stayed for the entire game, but we had to leave around 7:40 to walk back to the bus stop to catch our bus headed back to Pittsburgh.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 232 balls (89 hit, 52 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 38 games
Average: 6.11 balls per game
Career: 1,354 balls
I booked Amy and I tickets on megabus.com for a bus headed to Cleveland for the Pirates-Indians series. It cost me $3 to go there, and $5 for the return fare, since I booked it a couple weeks in advance. You can’t beat that.
This was my second game of the year at Progressive Field, which is way down from last year when I attended 19.
Upon entering the stadium and looking for baseballs, I found one in Heritage Park in center field. Unreachable with my arm, I used the ‘Cleveland stick’ to reach under the wall and snag this one.
My second ball of the day was a Travis Hafner home run that landed several rows behind me that I was able to grab before a couple of other fans.
Moments later, Hafner hit another home run that I snagged on the fly for ball #3.
A couple minutes after that, I noticed a ball land in the trees of Heritage Park. I ran over and was able to reach in and grab it without the use of any device.
In the meantime, there were a few balls in the bullpen. I ended up glove tricking one of them after at least 10 attempts at knocking the ball closer to the wall. Once the ball was close enough to the wall, I reeled it in for ball #5, and was given a round of applause by those fans who watched the whole ordeal.
When the Pirates came out to hit, one of the Buccos hit a home run that landed on the bullpen roof in center field.
I used the Cleveland stick – which reaches 6 feet (plus at least three feet of my arm length) to just barely reach it.
Less than a minute after snagging ball #6, Daniel McCutchen ran past while doing sprints and flipped a ball up into the stands, right to me. I didn’t even ask for it. Maybe it was my bright gold shirt. Regardless, it was my seventh of the day.
I finished batting practice in left field and was tossed #8 by Jeff Karstens. I had given up asking Jeff Karstens for balls in 2009, because he had completely ignored every request that I ever put in for a ball. I didn’t even ask for this particular ball. A batter hit it off the left field wall, Jeff ran over, picked it up, looked at me, and fired it right to me.
After batting practice, I was thrown ball #9 in the Pirates bullpen by bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade.
I left right after that, despite needing just one more for double digits. Amy was waiting in the hotel, and I wanted to go out to eat with her.
We went to East 4th street, where there are a few restaurants and was seemingly the only stretch of any street in Cleveland that wasn’t abandoned and boarded up.
We ate at Zocalo – a Mexican restaurant, and it was fantastic. The entrance was a little iffy, but everything else was first class.
After that, we walked back to the hotel room for a brief 15 minute pit stop, and then went back out to explore the city. We walked around for an hour or two, and watched the fireworks after the game from the rooftop on a parking garage downtown.
Those couple hours were by far my favorite of the entire weekend trip.
Game: 9 balls (3 hit, 3 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 227 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 37 games
Average: 6.14 balls per game
Career: 1,349 balls
I took my first trip to Cleveland on Friday. Last year, I made 19 trips to Cleveland and was a 20 game season ticket holder. I didn’t renew my tickets and plan on making fewer trips this year, even though Progressive Field is one of my favorite stadiums to ballhawk in.
Amy was along with me for a weekend trip, that included a stop in Cleveland, and then two games at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Saturday and Sunday.
When we arrived, the rain had stopped, but when I peeked into the stadium, I saw the tarp out on the field, which is never a good sign – but it was negated by the fact that the cage was up, and there were several Indians out throwing. The only thing that the rain had ruined was early batting practice, meaning easter eggs would be unlikely.
Amy got in line at Gate C, and even though we arrived at 3:50, we were still first in line. I was hoping that maybe batting practice had started so there would be some balls in the seats, but it didn’t.
It ended up costing me a couple balls, because some balls landed in the seats, and I was more focused on finding balls than tracking them. It was an error, but luckily Travis Hafner was in the cage, and he was in fine form today.
Perez has thrown me more baseballs than any during batting practice. He’s probably THE most generous pitcher in terms of distributing souvenirs to fans that I’ve seen. Although Livan Hernandez of the Washington Nationals is a close second. Thanks Chris!
Another teenaged ballhawk had beaten me down there as he was in the section by the bullpen, but he couldn’t find the ball anywhere.
So even though the Indians BP was great, and I started out on fire, it all got evened out by that cold stretch, as I failed to snag another ball during the Indians portion of batting practice.
Luckily, the Seattle Mariners feature a ton of lefties, so my chances of getting a few more would be decent.
Ichiro was the first batter for the Mariners, and he didn’t disappoint. He put ball after ball into the seats.
It was an easy glove trick ball. All I’d have to do is fling my glove out a few feet, knock the ball closer to the wall, and it’d be mine. The only problem was that a security guard was thirty feet down the line, staring directly at the area where I’d have to do the glove trick.
I decided to go and just do it quickly. I went and snagged the ball, as planned, and the security supervisor marched down and demanded that I give the ball back. I did. But it wasn’t the same ball. It was a beat up decoy ball that Nick and I use to play catch with on the Roberto Clemente bridge. I kept ball #8 in my possession.
Back in right field, ball #10 was a clean catch that literally saved some lady’s face. I ran over and caught the ball on the run directly in front of an elderly woman who wasn’t paying attention at all. Amy didn’t get the picture because it was obstructed, but here I am labeling the ball.
Amy was sitting probably about twenty rows back taking pictures, when one of the lefties hit a bomb that landed a section over from her. There was no one in the vicinity but her, so as several other fans raced in to claim it. She got up and acted like she was going to go snag the ball. This caused the other fans to lay off, and gave me enough time to go get the ball. Amy knows that if she had picked it up, it wouldn’t have counted, so that’s why she left it there for me to get. She gets a huge assist on ball #11.
It was picked up in row R under a seat
It was a line drive home run that smacked an elderly man directly in the chest, knocking him down into his chair. I picked the ball up a row behind him and gave it to him. It would’ve been nice to have kept my thirteenth ball, but given the situation, I felt I had to give the ball up.
Amy and I left right after batting practice to head to Milwaukee.
Game: 13 balls (9 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 131 balls (54 hit, 33 thrown, 25 device, 18 found)
Games: 20 games
Average: 6.55 balls per game
Career: 1,253 balls
I knew coming into today that it would be my final game for the month of August. To motivate myself to do well in August, I decided that I would try to break the one month record for most balls snagged in one month. That record was 138 balls, snagged by Zack Hample in August of 2008.
Coming into today I needed to snag three baseballs to break that record. I made the trip to Progressive Field solo, so I don’t have any great pictures of my performance, but I’ll do my best to illustrate the day.
I was probably about the seventh person in line. My motivation factor has been declining throughout the season, so I wasn’t there hours before the gates opened to be first in line. I didn’t even look to see if any of the other teams had taken batting practice.
Upon entering, apparently they did take batting practice because there were seven balls in the seats. I was able to get two of them in the front row in right center field. They were within a few feet of each other. Those two balls tied the one month record. I just needed one more.
It would come from Chris Perez.
Perez whistled and threw a ball in my direction. There were some other folks near me, so I’m not sure exactly who the intended target was, but it ended up landing about seven or eight rows back in a completely empty area. The ball must’ve hit an armrest on a chair because it took a fortuitous hop and landed in my row at my feet. That was ball #3 of the month, #139 of the month of August, and the record breaker.
I relaxed a bit and wasn’t being real aggressive running after baseballs, despite the crowd looking like this as the Indians wrapped up their BP.
but I only spin PNC Park’s prize wheel under the left field bleachers.
I left, taking home seven baseballs, which brought my total to the month to 143.
Here’s a recap of my busy month of August. Click on any of the below links for a recap:
7- 8/28/10 Progressive Field
3 – 8/25/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/24/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/23/10 PNC Park
1 – 8/22/10 PNC Park
5 – 8/21/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/20/10 PNC Park
4 – 8/19/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/18/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/17/10 PNC Park
10- 8/16/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/13/10 Progressive Field
5 – 8/12/10 Progressive Field
4 – 8/10/10 Progressive Field
8 – 8/9/10 Camden Yards
5 – 8/8/10 PNC Park
10- 8/7/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/6/10 PNC Park
8 – 8/5/10 PNC Park
5 – 8/4/10 Camden Yards
10- 8/3/10 PNC Park
13- 8/2/10 PNC Park
Total: 143 balls in 22 games = 6.5 per game
Game: 7 balls ( 1 hit, 3 thrown, 3 found )
Season: 494 balls (240 hit, 113 thrown, 72 device, 69 found)
Games: 77 games
Average: 6.42 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,072 balls
Streak: 173 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls in the month of August: 143 (new record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 50
Yet another day at Progressive Field.
When I entered the stadium I found my first ball of the day in the second row back in the second section from the visitor’s bullpen.
I had to be sneaky about it because there were several people in the front row, so I casually walked over to the ball without looking at it and picked it up. Had I jogged toward it looking at it someone may have noticed and turned around and grabbed it.
(The ball extended my snagging streak to 162 games with at least one ball snagged. 162 is an important number in baseball – its the number of games each team plays total during the season.)
My second ball of the day was a ground rule double hit by Shelley Duncan. It bounced into the trees, and was waiting in Heritage Park when I got there,
Game: 6 balls ( 4 hit, 1 device, 1 found )
Season: 431 balls (221 hit, 95 thrown, 59 device, 56 found)
Balls in the month of August: 80
Games: 66 games
Average: 6.53 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,009 balls
Streak: 162 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I was back at Progressive Field today, hoping to snag my one thousandth career baseball.
I was planning on returning yesterday, but radar showed storms moving through Cleveland all afternoon, so I would wait until today for another shot at 1,000.
When I walked by a bar across the street,
pick them all up.
In left field, I would snag one more ball – thrown by Brad Bergesen:
He tossed the ball up and I had to lean out over the railing to just barely make the catch. When I caught it, I asked Brad if the ball was for me or the kid next to me, who’d also asked for one. Brad nodded toward the kid, so I turned and gave the ball away.
So, I’d ended the day with five balls snagged.
Here I am in the shadows by the bullpen with ball #1000:
Today’s baseballs: (4 pictured because one was given away)
Sweet spots: (#1,003 was given away)
Game: 5 balls (1 thrown, 4 device )
Season: 425 balls (217 hit, 95 thrown, 58 device, 55 found)
Games: 65 games
Average: 6.54 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,003 balls
Streak: 161 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I started the day just six balls away from 1,000.
I was happy to see that the Indians were taking early batting practice when I arrived and looked through the left field gate:
And they were left handed.
Game: 4 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 420 balls (217 hit, 94 thrown, 54 device, 55 found)
Games: 64 games
Average: 6.56 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 998 balls
Streak: 160 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.