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.
Back in Cleveland yet again.
However, it would not be a fun time in Cleveland today.
It would be a record low tying day for me. Record low in terms of balls snagged in 2010 and also record tying low for balls snagged at Progressive Field.
After being shut out for over fifty minutes, I snagged a Shin Soo Choo home run in this area:
It was too deep for me to get to in time to make the catch, so I settled for grabbing the ball off of the concrete.
It was about 5:20. My next ball wouldn’t come until about 6:15 or so.
It was that kind of day.
Season: 268 balls (142 hit, 64 thrown, 26 device, 36 found)
Games: 41 games
Average: 6.53 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 846 balls
Streak: 137 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Another day of snagging at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
I was the first one into the stadium, and despite there being early batting practice, didn’t find any baseballs on my first sweep through the sections. I also checked Heritage Park, where there was nothing.
Upon returning from Heritage Park I spotted a baseball as another ballhawk/autograph hound was picking it up. I was about five seconds too late.
Since the Indians have a new later batting practice schedule, this gave me plenty of time to search. I went up and down every row and searched for about ten minutes before finally happening upon ball #1, hidden in the shadows:
When the Indians began hitting, I would get ball #2 from Shin Soo Choo. It was a home run that I caught on the fly in center field, fully extended in this area:
Season: 266 balls (141 hit, 64 thrown, 25 device, 36 found)
Games: 40 games
Average: 6.65 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 844 balls
Streak: 136 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I arrived at Progressive Field early enough to be first in line, however, it wouldn’t matter, as BP wouldn’t even end up beginning until 4:50PM.
I had to wait as the Indians stretched, threw, and took a few rounds of infield.
Additionally, the cages hadn’t been set up early due to thunderstorms that moved through just south of Cleveland around 3-3:30 (the Indians likely took a wait and see approach – it ended up not raining in downtown Cleveland.
So, upon entering, I looked for an easter egg halfheartedly out of force of habit. There was nothing in the seats, so I went over to Heritage Park, where this was waiting:
It was a damp, wet baseball that had likely been there at least a few days. It also was very badly worn, and didn’t look like it was a major league baseball. It may have been hit into the trees sometime during the last week and a half when the Indians were out on the road. After debating on whether to count it or not, I decided to – it is a baseball snagged in an MLB stadium. I reached in an was just able to grab ball #1 without using my ‘Cleveland Stick.’
My second ball came from Shin Soo Choo. He turned and threw a ball to a group of kids in the front row. The ball sailed over their heads and into an empty row about six rows back. I bent over and picked up ball #2.
None of the kids asked for the ball, but I could feel Choo staring at me. I looked, and sure enough, there he was, looking right at me.
I tossed ball #829 to one of the kids in the front row. Choo saw this, whistled at me, took a ball out of his back pocket and fired a ball at me. It was ball #3.
He then ran off the field before I could get his picture to go hit.
No one else was in the area, so I raced over to grab ball #10. It turned out that was the last BP home run of the Blue Jays batting practice, because as I returned to my spot, the Blue Jays were running off the field.
Today’s baseballs (9 pictured because #829 was given away):
Sweet spots (9 pictured because #829 was given away):
Game: 10 balls (4 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device, 1 found)
Season: 259 balls (136 hit, 63 thrown, 25 device, 35 found)
Games: 39 games
Average: 6.64 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 837 balls
Streak: 135 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
The weather forecast for today kept calling for thunderstorms, but every time I checked the forecast changed, and the storms kept getting pushed back to later and later in the day.
Eventually, I decided around 1PM to go for it, and hoped the weather would cooperate.
Despite arriving at 3:45, I was still first in line.
The boxes you see in the above photo were Shin Soo Choo bobbleheads. I was a little worried that today would be very crowded because it was a bobblehead night and a Saturday. However, the attendance was below 20,000. Kind of sad for a franchise that once sold out 455 games in a row.
When I ran in, batting practice hadn’t yet begun, and there were no Easter Eggs.
After a few minutes, BP got underway and an Indians lefty hit a few balls into the Indians bullpen.
One of the balls was in a spot at the back of the bullpen that could be retrieved with the glove trick. However, right when I began to set up for the glove trick, Tony Sipp ran by on his way to the bathroom in the Indians bullpen. I decided to hold off on glove tricking the ball and instead asked Sipp for one of the three balls in the bullpen after he finished in the bathroom.
He nodded and flipped me ball #1.
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 199 balls (104 hit, 53 thrown, 19 device, 23 found)
Games: 32 games
Average: 6.22 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 777 balls
Streak: 128 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I decided to attend this game after checking Saturday’s iffy weather forecast. I left right after work, so I didn’t get to the stadium until just before 5 PM.
I had missed the first 25 minutes of batting practice, which is never a good thing, but I would get on the board soon.
I was checking for any easter eggs that some folks may have missed when Shin Soo Choo hit a home run that landed in the trees in Heritage Park. I tried to reach in and grab it so I could count it as a hit ball, but I couldn’t reach it.
I pulled out my Cleveland Stick and used it to nudge the ball closer to the wall so I could get it. It was ball #1.
The next round, Travis Hafner also hit a home run into the trees in Heritage Park, so I ran back over again.
This ball would be a bit trickier because it was lodged in the branches of one of the trees.
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 4 device)
Season: 192 balls (101 hit, 51 thrown, 17 device, 23 found)
Games: 31 games
Average: 6.19 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 770 balls
Streak: 127 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I didn’t arrive at this game until almost 5PM, as I left after work. The gates had opened at 4:30, so I was operating at a disadvantage from the beginning. Couple that with that fact that only six balls reached the center field/right field seating area from the time I arrived until 6PM, and you have a recipe for a frustrating day.
I got my first ball of the day off the bat of Shin Soo Choo.
The stadium was pretty empty, so I ran over to the section the ball had landed in and waited for the ball to roll down to me as two guys searched frantically where the ball had hit.
I got my second ball of the day from Tony Sipp.
Game: 4 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 139 balls (85 hit, 31 thrown, 9 device, 14 found)
Games: 21 games
Average: 6.62 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 717 balls
Streak: 117 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
After leaving PNC Park around 1:25, I made it to Progressive Field in Cleveland, and was in line at 3:32. I was second in line. This would be my second game of the day.
When I ran in, I didn’t find any easter eggs on the ground. I paced up and down each aisle and did manage to find ball #1 and ball #2 laying in seats. The second ball was an International League (AAA) ball – which the Tigers are known to use in lieu of major league baseballs. I was pretty happy because I didn’t have any of these yet this year. After snagging 300 some regular major league baseballs this season, any variation is a welcomed departure from the mean.
Within the span of a minute, I lost out on three home run balls in center field. All three balls bounced on this six foot wide concrete platform seperating the outfield wall from the seats:
The balls took huge hops and landed about 15 rows back, and I wasn’t able to get to any of them in time.
Ball #3 was thrown by an Indians pitcher (standing on the left of the two pitchers).
I had competition from behind, with two guys trying to reach other the seats to grab the ball. I got to the ball a split second before them, snatching it with my bare hand. Guess what? Another Metrodome commemorative!
Things then slowed way down for me. I wouldn’t get another ball for the next half hour.
I watched Miguel Cabrera pepper the left field bleachers with home run balls. There was only one usher there picking them all up, and he had his work cut out for him.
One of Cabrera’s homers nearly hit th
e scoreboard. It landed in the very top row of the bleachers (as marked by the red X in the picture below.)
At 6:00, I ran over to those left field bleachers to look for some easter eggs that the usher potentially may have missed. I searched the rows at the bottom, and watched as one teenager found one. I then ran up towards the top of the bleachers, and found this waiting for me, three rows from the top.
Yes, another Metrodome ball – my fifth commemorative of the day, and ball #9.
Things in left field weren’t going well, so I made my way back over to right field as the final lefties were finishing up.
Curtis Granderson ( i think – a black left handed batter ) – hit a deep home run to my left in right field. Again, it was going to be about two sections over, so I put my head down and ran over to where I judged it was going to land. I ended up making a really nice catch on the run for ball #10 of the day. I got a nice hand from the few people that were still in right field watching batting practice. It was also my fifth consecutive Metrodome ball snagged, and my sixth commemorative of the day.
Two pitches later, Granderson hit another home run to right field. This ball was high in the air, and I had plenty of time to weave and correct my route so I’d be in the right spot. I caught the ball with a basket style catch for ball #11. It was the last hit of BP, as the Tigers then ran off the field. I quickly snapped this picture right after batting practice ended to show all the room I had.
I love weekday batting practices at Progressive Field.
I left after batting practice, happy that after snagging 14 yesterday, I had snagged 15 today (albeit over 2 games). It was a new “one-day” record for me.
On my way out of the stadium, I had a few reminders from the trees that fall was here, and baseball season was almost over.
Farewell Progressive Field – See you next year
Game: 11 balls (8 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 390 balls (208 hit, 117 thrown, 65 device)
Games: 78 games (9 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.00 balls per game
Career: 556 balls
Streak: 93 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Race for 400 in 2009: Need 10 in 3 games, 3.33 per game
With the Pirates on the road for a full week, I decided to add two games at Progressive Field. I checked the weather today and since the forecast was favorable, I hopped in my car and took the 2:15 drive to Cleveland.
Since it was Saturday, I had some things working against me:
1) Gates don’t open until 5:30 on weekends
2) Cliff Lee bobblehead day
3) The skies darkened up and it looked like it was going to storm.
When I arrived at Progressive Field around 4, the cage was set up, but I was afraid BP would be wiped out due to the menacing dark clouds. (The lights were on at the stadium).
I walked to the box office and bought the cheapest ticket I could, $9. I then made my way back to the right field gate. It was about 4:15, and a large crowd was gathering. I was about 15th in line. It turns out that there were hundreds of people there for faith night. They were going to hear testimony from Indians player Jamey Carroll.
Imagine my surprise when a supervisor announced that they would be opening the gates an hour early at 4:30! Thank you Jesus!
And stood in line for 10 minutes to buy a cheeseburger combo meal for $9.25.
When the game started I first sat by the foul pole in right field.
But eventually moved to the left field home run porch. Notice all of the fans are standing at the fence.
If a home run were hit, they would have a slim chance of catching it. I stood by the garbage cans, awaiting a home run that would never come.
The Tigers won the game 4-0.
A look at today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 5 Balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 89 Balls (35 hit, 44 thrown, 10 device)
Games: 17 Games (14 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 5.24 balls per game
Career: 255 Balls