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It was Sunday and we were back for our second of two games at Nationals Park.
It’s such a pretty stadium:
Wait, not really:
Actually, after talking it over, it was unanimous between myself, Amy, and fellow ballhawk Nick that this is now our least favorite stadium.
At least this was a Sunday game, and there was no giveaway, so it wouldn’t be crowded early. There was just one problem. As we stood in line, we watched the video board which shows a live feed of the field. There was no cage, and no activity at all going on. We stood in line and debated what to do. Finally, Amy asked the head supervisor if there was going to be batting practice, “Yeah, they’ll be out, I don’t know what time, but they’ll be out.” At first I thought he was just making it up and had no clue. But I decided that since we had stayed overnight, it would be a waste just to go home. I took the supervisor at his word, and at 10:58 AM, 2 minutes before the gates opened, bought us tickets.
When we entered the field, there wasnt much action.
The Nationals came out and warmed up, but there was a few ballhawks that joined me in the second deck today, and I was unable to get a ball.
To make matters worse, the Nationals didn’t take batting practice, so after an hour passed, I still had nothing to show for my efforts.
I was able to get ball #1 with an assist from fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak. He said he saw a coach take two balls and toss them into the empty seats in foul territory. So, at noon when the rest of the stadium, we ran over and Nick grabbed the first ball, and after looking around for the second, I spotted it under a seat three rows back. Thanks for the assist Nick.
It was a nice clean ball, so I didn’t number it. I’ve decided to stop numbering Easter Eggs and Glove Trick balls, since they have little to no importance except in my overall numbers. I’ve decided to hang onto them to either get them signed or sell eventually to finance some more trips.
Anyhow, this is the spot where I found ball #1:
The Reds finally started taking BP around noon, and I glove tricked my second ball from the gap in center field.
Before doing so, I looked around and there were no kids around at the time to hand the ball to, and no one was standing over the ball as if to ‘claim’ it. However, as soon as I started lowering my glove, this ballhawk went off and started screaming at the groundscrew who were fifty feet away in the center field service tunnel to get him the ball, in hopes that they would get it before I could:
What’s worse is that he’s a ballhawk, as he had Nationals stuff on and tried to get a ball in the second deck earlier, and then switched to Reds stuff in center field. Luckily, I glove tricked the ball on the first attempt before any staff member could retrieve it. Maybe he was mad because Nick owned him on a toss up in the second deck earlier, and saw Nick and I talking and figured we were friends. I don’t know.
That was it for batting practice. Before leaving I looked in the bullpen and saw that there were nine balls sitting there. Four were super easy glove trick balls directly below the overhang.
However, I didn’t even try. I waited patiently.
Eventually, Ryan Hannigan came out about twenty minutes after BP and tossed every single ball up to fans. I got the second one he tossed up for ball #4 on the day.
We left before the game started as it was a long drive back to Pittsburgh. I only snagged seven ball over the two games, but we still managed to have fun.
Olivia loves baseball trips and checking out the kids playgrounds in the different parks.
Here’s today’s baseballs:
Game: 4 balls
Season: 40 balls
Lifetime: 1584 balls
Today we would head to Washington DC for a Saturday/Sunday trip.
Today’s game would be a 4:05 start, meaning the gates would open at 1:30.
We ended up not making it to Nationals Park until almost 1 PM, and ended up being about 20th in one of the many lines that had formed. Several minutes before the gates opened, this was the scene:
It was chaos. The Nationals were giving away a Stephen Strasburg bobblehead to the first 15,000 fans. In DC, everyone is crazy about Strasburg, so there were 15,000 people that showed up early, making batting practice really tough.
As soon as I got into the stadium, batting practice was just getting underway, so rather than scurrying around in left field looking for balls (there was already about 100 people in there anyhow by the time I got in), I headed straight up to the upper deck in right field. This was my competition:
As a result, I was able to get a trainer to toss up a ball that a Nationals batter hit to the track in right center field.
As a result, I was able to get a trainer to toss up a ball that a Nationals batter hit to the track in right center field.
During batting practice, Nationals park only allows fans in left field, center field, and the upper deck in right field for the first hour. For some odd reason, right field, which is the largest section of outfield seats, is closed off.
It became quite clear rather quickly that I would have to go for toss ups, or glove trick balls.
There were plenty of glove trick balls in the bullpens, but the Nationals are militant like in prohibiting ball retrievers from the bullpens, so I didn’t even try. I did glove trick this ball from the gap in center field for ball #2.
After hauling it in, I turned and handed it to a little boy on my right. It was a classic Nationals training ball.
In the meantime, batting practice was ridiculously crowded. Worse than probably any opening day. There was literally no room to really move and catch any BP home runs:
And the Nationals and Reds didn’t hit too many anyhow.
In December, I received a brochure from the Cincinnati Reds asking me to renew my season tickets. I once was a Reds season ticket holder in 2010, when I bought a Baker’s Dozen 13 game plan. I spent like $90 on one seat for 13 games. I ended up only attending three games in Cincinnati that year, and snagging 13 balls total, but one of those games was game three of the NLDS, where I snagged six balls and set a single season record.
It was early October, and it was Amy and my first ever road trip together, so I have a soft spot in my heart for Cincinnati.
Without giving away too much information about my 2012 master schedule (we’ll save that for another blog) , it looks like I’ll be attending hopefully at least 10 games there, although I could attend up to 20 games there.
I figured that since the Reds will be a hot ticket this year (they’re going to win the Central) that I would go ahead and buy a VIP plan. Full 81 games. 2 tickets to each game. 162 tickets in total. It cost me $1289.50, but I made a lot of that back by selling my opening day tickets from the plan. I plan on holding back 40 tickets worth and selling the other 122 to at least break even.
So what’s there to like about the Cincinnati Reds and Great American Ballpark this year? Here’s some of the benefits:
1) Early access
I’ll be entering at 4:30 many games by buying a BP tour ticket. If the tickets are sold out, I’d still get in at 5:10 with the season ticket holders, but imagine having BP with just a hand full of other people for the first 70 minutes of batting practice. That’s right – the general public doesn’t get in until 5:40. Zack Hample took advantage of this in 2011 and snagged 36 in one game. What would you rather ballhawk in? This?
The crowds at Great American Ballpark can really suck, especially when you have to factor in those railings in the aisles that block your mobility. You can pretty much forget snagging much from 5:40-6:10.
2) Good resell value
I’ve sold 8 of the 122 tickets that I won’t use already on stubhub. The cheapest opening day seat is currently selling for $109. That’s for just one ticket! With the Tigers and Indians coming to GABP, there’s demand.
3) Opportunity to buy more Opening Day tickets.
All season ticket holders are guaranteed the opportunity to get more opening day tickets. Meaning, at the very least, if I bought two more for $20 and resold them for $220 – well, you can do the math. We’re just chipping away at that $1289.50.
4) Take batting practice on the field.
All full season ticket holders get to take batting practice on the field at Great American Ballpark. Unlike PNC Park, its for full season ticket holders only, so hopefully there’ll be less people there resulting in more cage time for me. My ultimate goal is to jack one out of a major league ballpark. I haven’t been lifting all these weights for nothing. I haven’t been able to do it at PNC Park yet.
5) Post-season guaranteed tickets
When the Reds make the post season in 2012, I’ll get to buy more tickets. Even if I can’t attend, reselling the tickets will make this investment more beneficial.
6) Unused season ticket exchange program
I used this before in 2010 when I had the Baker’s Dozen plan to exchange my unused tickets for a game later in the season against the Brewers that I could easily spin off to a buyer on ebay. It’s simple, by mail, and if you can’t get rid of your tickets, then you can request games later in the season.
With the purchase of these Reds tickets, that makes 7 season tickets for 3 different teams that I’m now the owner of. That’s 567 tickets that I have.
Did I go overboard? What do you think? Were the Reds tickets worth it? I think they were. All of my tickets for my 2012 games are bought and paid for, and I’m going to get a lot of that money back by reselling the ones I can’t use.
At any rate, if you need a season ticket to get in early to PNC Park or Great American Ballpark, you now know where to turn.
There’s only 58 more days until Opening Day, 11 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 6 days to win this Brandon Phillips jersey Tshirt.
Posts: Zac, Craig, Connor, Mateo, Harrison, Stephen, Malcolm
RT’s: Zac, Craig, Mateo, Brandon, Connor, Daniel P
Today was my final game of the 2011 season at PNC Park. I attended with Olivia and Amy, and unfortunately, there wasn’t any batting practice.
I was worried that I may get shut out because the Pirates players were to meet with fans at the gates, leaving me with just the Reds to get a ball off of.
At 11:30, when the main seating bowl opened, several Pirates were finishing some pre-game tossing before heading out to the gates to meet fans.
I was able to get Tony Watson’s attention as I stood about six rows deep and he fired me a strike for ball #1 when he was finished throwing. Here he is a few seconds after tossing me a ball, walking towards some fans to sign autographs.
I’ve gotten a ball at all 78 games this season – thanks to Tony for extending that streak.
I then headed to the first base side and changed into my Reds gear as the Reds came out to stretch and throw.
When the Reds started throwing, I stood behind Matt Maloney and snagged two balls within a few minutes.
They were overthrows that I corralled here:
However, they were both given back to Maloney, as he needed them to warm up. The first I tossed back, and the second I glove flipped to him. He promised to give the ball back when he was done.
Even though I snagged two balls, it was the same ball on two different occasions, so I’m only going to count it as one ball. I’ve seen lots of ballhawks count similar snags as two, even here at PNC Park, but that’s just padding your stats. You can’t snag the same ball twice. Period. Even if you give it back and get it again.
Unfortunately, some teenager moved in and count another overthrow which took the ball that I was awaiting out of play. It meant that my ball #2 was given away to someone else. Oh well. It goes down in my stats as a snag from Jeremy Horst, one of the least accurate long tossers in the league.
Horst, Maloney and Bill Bray were playing catch, so after Horst finished he left, and Maloney moved to the outfield side to throw at a distance of 60 feet to Bill Bray.
When he was done, he tossed me a ball as a thank you for giving back two baseballs to him.
Olivia was getting a little bit fussy, so we decided to leave before the game even started. It’s been a long season, so rather than being at the ballpark until 4:30, we found some other stuff to do without 28,000 other people.
On the way out, these Pirates players were at the gate:
That’s Pedro Alvarez, Jared Hughes, Mark Strittmatter, Ray Searage, Jason Jaramillo, Ross Ohlendorf, and Jason Grilli from left to right. We didn’t stop to talk or take pictures as there was a ridiculous line waiting to meet them.
Here are today’s baseballs: (only 2 pictured because one was given away)
This will be my last game of the regular season. As for playoff games, you may remember last year I attended a Division Series game in Cincinnati. You’ll have to stay tuned to see if I attend any playoff games this year…
Game: 3 balls (3 thrown)
Season: 422 balls (175 hit, 95 thrown, 88 device, 57 found)
Games: 78 games
Average: 5.41 per game
Career: 1,544 balls
Today was the last night game of the year, and Steve Miller Band was playing a concert after the game, so there would be a sell-out crowd on hand tonight. However, since there was some big cheerleading competition going on outside of PNC Park, there wasn’t a large crowd for most of batting practice.
I came into the game needing seven balls to get 418 and make my 2011 campaign a top 5 all time ballhawking season. Sure, it isn’t any close to the 544 I snagged last year, but its a small consolation prize.
Things got off really slowly for me, and I only snagged one ball within the first half hour of batting practice. That was a Pedro Alvarez opposite field home run that landed three rows back and took a giant hop into the upper bleachers, which I scrambled up the steps and grabbed.
My second ball of the day was glove tricked near the end of Pirates BP by the bullpen door.
Near the end of batting practice, things were going so poorly for me that I completely ditched left field and headed over into foul territory on the first base line as some Reds had come out to warm up.
There, I got who I think was Jared Burton to toss me ball #3 of the day after he finished his warm up tosses.
In the meantime, I noticed that Joey Votto was signing autographs near the dugout. I never ever go for autographs – I got only one other one this year – Ryan Vogelsong – but I figured that this was a former MVP and that his autograph was worth something. I got Votto to sign the sweet spot of a nice clean extra ball that I brought with me.
My fourth ball came a bit later as a pitcher airmailed Devin Mesoraco. I picked it up and offered it back, by holding it up, but they already had a second ball and picked up immediately where they left off as if they never even lost the ball, so I put it away in my bookbag.
My fifth ball came from Edinson Volquez, sort of. He caught the ball and rolled it towards the wall as if to get rid of it. I walked over and reached far over the railing and grabbed it. Then I held it up to see if Volquez or his teammates wanted it back. They could’ve cared less, as they were talking.
At 5:30, I searched the right field wall for Easter Eggs and found one.
It was ball #6 of the day, and #417 of the season, tying Nick Pelescak’s 2010 mark.
I then returned to left field and got a toss up from Dave Sappelt.
He retrieved a ball from the wall and then tossed it up into the crowd. I was in the second row, and it was right to me, just over the heads in the front row, much to the dismay of some 20 year old in the front row.
My 8th and final ball of the day was a clean catch of a Brandon Phillips home run ball. I caught that one in the second row, and it caused some controversy with another fan. The ball ticked off the fan in the McCutchen jersey’s glove and right into mine. It sounded like a foul tip being caught by the catcher.
Well, he thought I robbed him, even though I was a row behind him, and he kept giving me sour looks throughout the rest of BP, and talking to his friends and gesturing in my direction. Oh, and he’s not a little kid despite his tiny frame (its tough to tell from that pic)- he’s probably at least 20, and he already had a ball in his hand, so don’t feel bad.
Game: 8 balls (2 hit, 4 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 419 balls (175 hit, 92 thrown, 88 device, 57 found)
Games: 77 games
Average: 5.44 per game
Career: 1,541 balls
I came into today needing just six baseballs to break the single season record of 543 baseballs snagging in one season. After a dismal performance at my last game on September 29th, I was determined to bounce back.
Amy and I arrived at Cincinnati around 3PM, in plenty of time before the 5:07 gate time.
We parked a ways a way and made the walk along the Ohio River, but had fun goofing around on the way to the stadium:
Amy was along to keep me company and take pictures to document today’s possibly record setting game.
Coming into the game, I needed six balls to break the all time single season record of 543 set by Zack Hample in 2008.
We killed some time before the gates opened by walking around Great American Ballpark, including wandering around the team store.
Here we are outside of the main gates:
I was able to secure a ticket through my Baker’s Dozen Partial season ticket plan. Since I only had one seat in the plan, we went to Cincinnati hoping to buy an extra ticket for Amy. Since the game was sold out, we had to turn to scalpers. The cheapest ticket available was $250, and Amy refused to let me pay that. She insisted on sitting outside Great American Ballpark while I went in and did my thing. I reluctantly agreed and rushed inside when the gates opened.
Upon entering the stadium, the Reds were warming up.
Including Aroldis Chapman, the 105 mph throwing rookie.
I tried to get one of them to toss me a ball but failed. And since BP was getting underway, I darted out to the left field seats to get to work.
There, I caught ball #1 on the fly off the bat of catcher Corky Miller here:
I was to chase down my second ball soon after as it rattled around a seat in the same general area.
I used the Cleveland stick to prod a ball on the batter’s eye close enough to reach for ball #3.
And returned to left field to snag a Jonny Gomes home run here:
That was the last ball I got during the Reds portion, and the seats were really starting to fill up when the Phillies came to bat.
After getting shut out by the first group, I headed over to right center field in hopes of snagging a Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard or Chase Utley home run ball to tie the single season record. It happened, and I happened to be video taping when it did. The ball hit behind me and ricocheted down towards me, and I was able to smother it just as several other fans reached for it. Here’s the video evidence! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTdHPeEtoug
So, at the very least, I would finish the 2010 season tied for the single season record.
In the meantime, I didn’t get anything else from that group, and my hope rested on the final group of bench players. Since they were mostly right handed, I headed back to left field.
That’s when this guy:
I don’t know who:
Launched a deep fly ball. It was going over my head, so I started running up the stairs in the open aisle. I was able to make the catch as I headed up the stairs in a reaching back hand fashion. It was a great catch, and it set the single season record at 544 balls in a single season!
After making the catch, I asked a nearby fan to take a photo for me with the ball.
I left after batting practice to meet Amy, I didn’t want her to be alone for too long. I showed her the record setting ball:
She was really happy for me:
Re-enactment of the catch of 544:
It was getting late, so I bid farewell to Great American Ballpark,
and the 2010 season, as this was my final game.
Game: 6 balls (5 hit, 1 device)
Season: 544 balls (261 hit, 131 thrown, 75 device, 77 found)
Games: 88 games
Average: 6.18 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 6
Career: 1,122 balls