Rain was forecasted for today, so the Pirates were hitting early. Amy was working the game and was there with me on the Riverwalk. She had bought me two steak sandwiches.
It was still early, so I figured the big lefties weren’t up yet, so Amy and I were just talking with a ball landed literally two feet to my left and rolled into the river. I was upset that I wasn’t paying attention like I should’ve been.
The ball floated awhile and sank.
I caught my first ball of the day here, as it took one bounce in the stadium and right into my glove.
I misplayed another ball that rolled into the river, I just over ran it, because a big pack of pedestrians were walking toward the spot where it bounced out, and I was overly aggressive.
Amy then found a ball. Since she is an employee and was working this game, I counted it. It must’ve bounced out and hit the trees to my right, because it was just sitting in the grass. She found it when she went to go into the stadium to begin her work.
My third ball was another one that bounced out of the stadium. I played it just right and I caught it on the fly as it took one hop off the riverwalk and right into my glove.
Finally, I misplayed another ball. Another one bounced out, but I ran too far in on it. I was standing on the razor grass, so I didn’t want to jump and break my ankle, so I tried to reach up for it, but it was a few feet over my glove. Nick Pelescak had the play backed up, but it got past him too. Some random passerby picked the ball up as it slowly rolled toward the river. Had he not been there either Nick or I probably could’ve reached the ball, as it seemed to not have much momentum if some random guy was able to get it.
It started raining then, as usual, right at 4:35. This wiped out batting practice.
I still went in, and managed to find ball #4 in the fourth row,
and ball #5 in the front row.
I found them probably five minutes after the gates had opened. Zac Weiss was the first one in and had already covered this section, but must’ve just missed them in his haste.
I looked for more when the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30, but there was nothing else to be found, so I went home.
The game ended up being rained out, which is great, because it means it’ll be made up, which will give us an extra batting practice.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 found)
Season: 118 balls (45 hit, 31 thrown, 24 device, 17 found)
Games: 19 games
Average: 6.21 balls per game
Career: 1,240 balls
Attendance: 1 (rain out)
My day got off to a great start before the gates even opened. I spent 4:15-4:50 on the Riverwalk outside of the stadium. I did the same thing yesterday, but not even one ball came out.
Today, that would be different. I misplayed one ball that rather than knocking down with my body, I let hit the concrete to play it on a bounce. The ball took a gigantic hop and went right into the river.
The second ball I had a chance on, I made sure to knock the ball down with my body. It was another home run that ripped through a tree, hit me, and settled in the grass, where I smothered it. It was my first ball of the day. It all happened here.
A few minutes later, I cleanly snagged another home run ball on the fly as it one-bounced out of the stadium here:
When the gates opened, Ross Ohlendorf tossed me ball #3. Ross is probably the best BP shagger in the National League. He really hustles after everything.
My fourth and final ball of the Pirates BP was hit into the upper bleachers. I raced up and claimed it about six rows back.
When the Dodgers came out to hit, I was able to glove trick ball #5 here:
Then snagged a ground rule double here,
and was tipped off by the guy in the picture below about another glove trick opportunity, which I reeled in for ball #7.
I went over to right field at 5:30 to look for balls, but there were none. I looked down at section 139, and there was a ball literally at another ballhawk’s feet that he didn’t see. From the front row of the right field wall, it was unmistakeably white and round – an easter egg. I ran down and picked it up for ball #8. It was laying in a little bit of water here:
but it wasn’t completely soaked.
I stayed in center field as Andre Ethier was hitting. I was robbed twice, but managed to get my glove on one of his home runs that I momentarily dropped, but recovered to pick it up here:
I had to reach down and try and make a basket catch, and it hit the bulge of string that I keep in my glove and popped out. Luckily, no one else was in the area though to grab the misplayed ball.
I only needed one more ball for double digits. I still had twenty minutes of batting practice to get it, and Jay Gibbons, the Dodgers best BP hitter was up. I moved up to the steep Clemente wall, where Gibbons had routinely peppered hoome runs the past two days. He hit a home run to my right so I took off to make the catch. However, the right field wall has cupholders that are low to the ground.
I stumbled on one and went straight down, tumbling down into the row below.
I tried to use the seat below to break my fall, but my left arm basically went right through the folded up chair. I bashed the side of my lower left leg, hit the outer portion of my left bicep, and left thigh on the seats and arm rests. It hurt bad, but I popped right up as the ball was about ten feet away in the row I’d fallen into. However, some random guy hastily climbed over three rows and snatched it from me at the last second.
Minutes later the same damn thing happened again. Gibbons hit a home run, I tripped on a cupholder, and this time sort of rolled down into the second row. The ball actually tipped off my glove as I was falling. Again, a random gloveless fan picked it up.
Double digits just wasn’t to be.
I got shut out for the rest of batting practice. I decided that I needed to get 10, so rather than leaving after BP like I had originally planned. I stayed. I decided to get 10 out of the way before the game started, so I went to this building on top of the scoreboard area to claim an easter egg that had to have been thrown there by a player, because its too far to have been hit:
Well, the area was off limits, so I quickly went in, expecting to see a ladder or something on the other side. Instead, I saw this:
Bathrooms. Apparently there’s no possible way to get on top of that roof.
I waited around until the game started and was able to get Garrett Jones to toss me ball #10 after he warmed up before the second inning began.
I added ball #11 before the sixth began with Andrew McCutchen’s outfield warm up ball:
That was all for today. Double digits! A great day.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 11 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device, 1 found)
Season: 113 balls (43 hit, 30 thrown, 24 device, 15 found)
Games: 18 games
Average: 6.28 balls per game
Career: 1,235 balls
Before heading to PNC Park, I stopped off at a baseball field near my house to take some swings.
Panoramic of the field:
Game: 4 balls ( 3 hit, 1 thrown )
Season: 458 balls (231 hit, 99 thrown, 61 device, 61 found)
Balls in the month of August: 107
Games: 70 games
Average: 6.54 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,036 balls
Streak: 166 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The Pirates were back in town today, facing the hated Brew-Crew.
This was my view from 4:15-4:55.
My friend Nick and I noticed a ballhawk running by who stands on the Riverwalk on a daily basis, waiting for home runs. Since he does it regularly, he must have at least some luck out there. (The guy stays out there the entire BP, even after the gates open). So, with nothing better to do, we decided to join him.
There was indeed one ball that came out in the time we were there. It bounced off of the concourse behind section 140, and went through the trees towards the river. The guy ran over and made a nice backhanded pick of the ball, just before it skipped into the Allegheny River.
Ballhawking on the Riverwalk is tough. You have to be very patient, and extemely focused. If you look away for a minute, or listen to a passerby’s comments, you’ll be distracted and miss a possible opportunity.
At one point, a photographer walked by and asked me what I was doing. I told him that batting practice was going on, and we were waiting for a ball to come out. He the proceeded to take pictures of the three of us ballhawks for the next fifteen minutes, from all angles. He never asked permission, or told us if he was affiliated with any newspaper. (I assumed he was with the Post Gazette or Tribune Review) In the picture below, you can see him sitting on the ground, snapping photos of Nick Pelescak.
He threw me ball #3. (It probably helped that I was the only fan in Brewers gear for the first 30 minutes).
One guy, who watched me get those balls tossed, made a few comments about how I “have all these shirts in the back of my car.” I couldn’t tell if he was trying to make fun of me, or not, but he went on to say the same line about five more times throughout the day to people around him.
I got ball #4 via the glove trick in left field. I struggled with this one, probably taking almost two minutes to reel it in. I had to first knock it closer, and then the rubber band wasn’t quite right. I had to adjust it several times. As the rubber band gets used, it becomes more stretchy, and needs adjusted differently. I was almost foiled by Brewers coach Joe Crawford. When I finally got the ball to stick in the glove, Crawford hurled his glove from about forty feet away, in an attempt to knock the ball out of my glove. Luckily, I had just begun to pull the ball up, and it narrowly missed it. He came over to get his glove, and had a huge smile on his face. “This wall is too low here. Its too easy for you guys to do that.”
A little while later, I caught ball #5 on the fly. It was a can of corn. However, Jody Gerut watched me make the catch, and immediately started screaming at me from left field. “That’s TWO for you now. Do the right thing!” I nodded. He screamed about three more times, “Do the right thing, Do the right thing, Do the right thing.” At this point several Brewers were staring at me, and Gerut pointed me out to them, probably telling them that he had just tossed me a ball moments earlier.
I quickly went into my backpack and took out one of my decoy balls. (Balls that I have that I didn’t personally snag and don’t count in my stats or my collection. These are MLB balls that friends have given to me in exchange for tickets).
I held up the decoy ball for Gerut to see and tossed it to the nearest kid with a glove. He gave me a thumbs up. I yelled to him, “That’s a Pirate ball from earlier.” I wanted him to keep the impression that I was a huge Brewers fan and wanted to keep just the Brewers baseballs.
I spent a few minutes in center field and chickened out on a very glove trickable ball. The nice ushers weren’t in center field today, and I didn’t feel l
ike getting yelled at. Plus, I had struggled mightly with ball #4, and didn’t want to go through that again.
After Claudio Vargas picked up the ball that I should’ve glove tricked and tossed it to a kid, I headed back to left field.
There, I made almost back to back catches of home runs on the fly. They were hit in the same general area, and only about 30 seconds apart. I have no idea who hit them.
I caught ball #6 on the fly in a completely empty row B. As I made the catch, some old guy made a feeble attempt at the ball, and crashed into me. Like a pillar, I didn’t budge. Since he went down fairly hard, I asked him if he was ok – and he was.
The second home run was hit soon after, and I had an entire empty row to my right, so I took off quickly and ran about 50 feet to my right to snag ball #7. I made the catch in front of a group of teenagers. Feeling they had been robbed, having seen me catch the other home run seconds before, and feeling anger at the Brewers gear I was sporting, they booed me mercilessly for about 20 seconds.
I just looked at them and smiled.
I had to leave at 6PM to attend a varsity head coaches meeting, that didn’t end until 9PM. My phone had very limited service, so I wasn’t able to get updates on the game.
I was squirming in my chair more than John Russell does when Matt Capps enters the game in a save situation.
Game: 7 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 288 balls (146 hit, 89 thrown, 53 device)
Games: 60 games (6 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.80 balls per game
Career: 454 balls
Streak: 75 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
There was some rain forecast for today, but when I arrived at the ballpark at 3:55, the sun was shining, and there were only a few measly clouds in the sky.
While standing in line, I noticed a Brewers fan who randomly had a MLB baseball. He didn’t have a glove or a bag or anything. He had just walked up from the Riverwalk area. Had he just gotten a ball out by the river? Possibly.
Rather than standing there, I decided to head down to the Allegheny River and see if I could get on the board before the gates even opened. There is some tall grass landscaping on a slope that leads down to a 20 foot wide walkway which borders the river. Occasionally balls will get stuck in there that get hit out of the stadium or bounce on the stadium. I looked, but found nothing.
I stood outside the stadium until 4:50, when I returned to line. There was only one ball that I saw that had a realistic chance. I caught it out of the corner of my eye and watched it hit the top of the Clemente wall and stay in the ballpark. Like clockwork, within a minute, an usher appeared and picked up the ball.
When I returned to the line at 4:50, it began to drizzle. Great. Just great.
The drizzle was persistant, and was rather annoying. I was worried that the groundscrew would put the tarp on the field and batting practice would be canceled. Luckily, this wasn’t the case. The rain was light enough that it allowed BP to continue.
I got ball #1 of the day from Joel Hanrahan. He fielded a ball, and didn’t throw it back towards the infield, so I stood in the front row with my glove up for about a minute. He finally decided he didn’t want the ball anymore, and fired it at me. It was a little high and away, but I was on the board.
I got ball #2 from Mike Defelice. I remembered Shawn from Milwaukee giving me the tip of calling him Deefer. It worked.
There wasn’t a ton of home runs hit. And its a shame too, because there weren’t many people there during the first 30 minutes of season ticket holder time only.
Game: 3 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 238 balls (125 hit, 78 thrown, 38 device)
Games: 49 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.86 balls per game
Career: 404 balls
Attendance: 11,471 (very April/May’ish attendance figure)