Today was our last day in
We spent the first half of the day walking around, seeing the nice parts,
and the not so nice.
We spend an hour or so in Barnes and Noble to stay out of the heat. And then went to Best Buy where we messed around with the organ.
Unfortunately, the guitars were missing strings – I am much better at guitar than piano.
At 4PM we arrived at the park and were first in line, which resulted in me being first to the left field seats.
By the way, shortly before 4, we were allowed into the Ballpark Early to use the bathroom. I was tempted to stand on Eutaw Street and wait for home run balls, but no one was hitting yet, and I didn’t want to get into trouble so we exited the stadium again (we were told to anyway by the nice worker that let us in) and went and got in line.
Oh, and take notes PNC Park, the workers at Camden Yards are actually ready with the giveaway before the gates open.
Amy was behind me and took a few shots on her way over to the left field seats:
I should note that I didn’t find any balls in the seats. There were some folks that were guests of the ballpark that were just leaving the LF seats as I entered the seating bowl, so I assume they picked up any balls that may have been in there.
My first ball of the day was thrown to me by ex-Pirates pitcher Chris Jakubauskus.
My second ball of the day was a home run hit by Robert Andino. I caught it cleanly after running down the stairs a few rows and reaching down to my left to make the basket catch here:
The group featuring Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds came up and didn’t hit nearly as many home runs as yesterday, but there still were a few homers here and there. I caught a Mark Reynolds home run on the fly. The ball carried on me and I stepped over the seats to get a better angle on the ball and an extra six inches of height and inadvertintly robbed another ballhawk, while stepping on his foot. I felt a bit clumsy. I’m so used to hopping up on the bleachers and snagging balls. Not a big fan of the seats.
My fourth ball was a clean catch of a Tony Cruz home run somewhere in here:
Amy was taking some pics for me, but it was too dangerous to be too close, especially 8 months pregnant. She took cover near the left field foul pole in the shade.
It was JJ Hardy T-Shirt day at the stadium, so over 28,000 people showed up on a Thursday to take advantage of the promotion. Things got real crowded after 5:30.
So, I checked on Amy,
and then went over to center field, since there was a group with three Cardinals in it. Plus, as you can see, it was less crowded there, so I decided that was my the highest percentage area to get another ball or two.
I picked a row and waited. Can you find me?
The spot paid off as an unidentified Cardinals batter hit a ground rule double that I snagged here:
I went back to LF for Holliday and Berkman, but got shut out. It was just too crowded. I finished batting practice in right center field, and nothing happened. Batting practice then ended. Before leaving, I spotted something in the gap!
I ran up the stairs to Amy and my backpack to get the ‘Cleveland Stick.’
And proceeded to use it to fish out a brand new
JJ Hardy T-Shirt that someone dropped!
No one claimed it, so finders keepers.
We left right after batting practice and headed to Annapolis, one of Amy’s favorite childhood spots. We checked into our hotel, and then went down to the water.
It was peaceful there.
We sat on a dock and let our feet hang down and enjoyed our evening together.
Once the sun set, we went into town and bought ice cream cones.
I got mint chocolate chip.
Baltimore turned out to be a great two days, now on to my next game tomorrow…
Game: 5 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 264 balls (111 hit, 55 thrown, 61 device, 28 found)
Games: 45 games
Average: 5.87 balls per game
Career: 1,386 balls (I numbered all the balls wrong – off one. God. I’ll make my next one 1382, then skip ahead to 1388.)
Amy and I decided to head down to Baltimore for a couple games to see the Cardinals take on the Orioles. We checked into the hotel, and Amy rested at the hotel while I left to go to batting practice.
The first ball I got was an absolute bomb that hit at the back of the seats near the bullpens and bounced back towards the field where I caught it.
Ball #2 was hit by another Orioles batter towards the foul pole. I simply jogged over and picked it up easy.
My third ball was cheap, but it was still #3. It was a ball that was misplayed by another ballhawk and bounced into the row in front of him where I snagged it with my glove.
Ball #4 was a clean catch here:
I barely had to move. I’m not sure who hit any of the balls, but the first Orioles group was really good. I mean really good. I had snagged four balls from one group alone, but two other ballhawks had snagged five and I think six. Impressive. And they were all batted balls too.
The Orioles final group sucked, so I didn’t get my fifth ball until the Cardinals came out to hit. It was tossed to me by pitcher Trever Miller, who I remember was the one pitcher who tossed up baseballs at PNC Park in recent series.
I moved over to center field when I saw a home run land in the gap in center field. I was able to glove trick it for ball #6, but not without some difficulty. It took four tries, but I was able to reel it in.
My seventh ball was a ground rule double that I caught next to a mom. I immediately handed the ball over which she gave to her child. She may have been able to make the play, but she was gloveless, so who knows.
My eighth ball was a clean catch of a Colby Rasmus HR with some competition from behind here:
No clue who hit it.
We made our way to the inner harbor,
and took a few photos. One of the bonuses of ballhawking outside of Pittsburgh is that its like a mini-vacation. I go to BP for an hour, and then I get to spend the rest of the time with the love of my life. Can’t beat that!
We headed towards Barnes and Noble:
And saw the Hard Rock Cafe:
I ordered a California Club sandwich.
It was bad. I felt like I was eating a salad sandwich with chicken, there was one thin fillet. Not impressed.
While we were out, the citizens of Baltimore were extra friendly. We kept getting warm smiles every where we turned, then it dawned on me.
It was because of our baby.
We walked around a little more before heading back to our hotel. Baltimore isn’t as bad as the Wire portrays. At least not the few blocks we saw.
Here are today’s baseballs (only 7 pictured because 1 was given away):
Game: 8 balls (6 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 259 balls (107 hit, 54 thrown, 61 device, 28 found)
Games: 44 games
Average: 5.87 balls per game
Career: 1,381 balls
A powerful thunderstorm rolled through Pittsburgh around 4PM, knocking out power and backing up traffic at every intersection.
I knew there wouldn’t be batting practice, but I went anyway. Things had cleared up by 5PM and the sun was shining at least.
I thought I may get shut out, but managed to get a ball from Chris Carpenter as the Cardinals finished throwing.
He rolled three balls from right center field to the fans along the right field fence in foul territory. One ball was out of reach for everyone, so I went over and used my long arm to reach over and grab it just over the four foot fence down the right field foul line in right field.
Unfortunately, that would be the only ball that I got prior to the game. My newly minted girlfriend of one day Amy was working this game, so I decided to stick around for the game.
However, my luck changed for the better in the 2nd inning. John Bowker stepped up to the plate and hit a home run to right center field, right in the area where I was hanging out talking to fellow ballhawk Ian Weir.
I knew I had a chance to make the catch. However, at the last second, the ball started to die, and almost didn’t have enough carry to reach me. I had to reach over a handicapped railing and make a basket catch.
Once I did, I raised the ball in triumph.
Here’s the VIDEO of the catch.
Another cool fact is that the Bowker home run ball was Ball #1,111 of my career. That would be the last ball I’d get for the night, but what a snag!
Here it is:
Game: 2 balls ( 1 hit, 1 thrown )
Season: 533 balls (253 hit, 131 thrown, 72 device, 77 found)
Games: 84 games
Average: 6.35 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 6
Career: 1,111 balls
Streak: 180 cons
ecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls needed to break single season record: 11
Today got off to a terrible start.
When I entered the park, Lastings Milledge was in the cage, taking his final cuts. Milledge is in the last group of Pirates players to bat. Minutes later, at 5:03, the field was empty, as the Pirates ran off the field, leaving the PNC Park regulars stunned.
I hadn’t snagged anything yet, and I was prepared to face the fact that I might get shut out.
Half way through the Cardinals BP, I got Trever Miller to toss me a ball in center field to put me on the board.
Luckily, I had brought my Cardinals gear, whereas yesterday I just left it at home figuring that the Cards were too stingy to toss any balls up to their own ‘fans.’ However, Miller is a veteran, and older players typically seem to be more generous in throwing balls into the stands.
Later on in batting practice, I attempted to glove trick a ball in the corner spot in center field.
Game: 3 balls ( 3 thrown )
Season: 487 balls (239 hit, 110 thrown, 72 device, 66 found)
Games: 76 games
Average: 6.41 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,065 balls
Streak: 172 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls in the month of August: 136 (3 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 57
Things got off to a great start before the gates even opened. Someone on the Pirates hit a home run that hit off of the song whale tent on the riverwalk, took a bounce, and then landed in the tall grass here:
Once the gates opened, the Pirates were already into their final round of batting practice, and they were all hitting opposite field, so I didn’t get a single ball from them.
That’s when Adam Wainwright came in and helped me out.
Game: 6 balls ( 1 hit, 1 thrown, 4 device )
Season: 484 balls (239 hit, 107 thrown, 72 device, 66 found)
Games: 75 games
Average: 6.45 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,062 balls
Streak: 171 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls in the month of August: 133 (6 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 59
We were lucky to get batting practice in today. There was a steady drizzle from 4 PM until the first few minutes of batting practice, but to the Pirates’ credit, they allowed BP to continue.
My first ball was tossed to me by a worker. I spotted the ball laying on a bleacher and ran over to claim it. A worker from one of the concession stands was walking by and picked it up and flipped it to me.
My second ball was a home run caught on the fly in this area off the bat of Delwyn Young.
Ball #3 was tossed up by Pirates’ closer and all around good-guy Joel Hanrahan. Here’s Joel having some fun with a fan’s rain gear:
Game: 7 balls ( 2 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device )
478 balls (238 hit, 106 thrown, 68 device, 66 found)
Games: 74 games
Average: 6.46 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,056 balls
Streak: 170 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls in the month of August: 127 (12 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 65
This would be the second most crowded game that I have ever attended. The attendance of this game was 41,326. The most packed game I ever attended was last year at Citizen’s Bank Park when a Reds vs Phillies match up drew 41,538. At that game, I only managed to snag two balls. Would today be different? I was hoping so, since Cincinnati opens its gates 30 minutes early to season ticket holders.
I stayed there for several minutes, but got tired of watching a few balls sail into the lower level seats. I ended up moving all over the place for the rest of batting practice, but it would never lead to any more baseballs.
Batting practice also ended early, as there would be lengthy on field ceremonies to honor Negro League Baseball players and African American ballplayers’ contributions to the Civil Rights movement.
By the way, about that ball in center… It seemed to be a bit too far out to throw my glove out and nudge it closer, plus there was a security guard right there. After batting practice, when he went to get the baseballs that landed in the bat
ters eye, I was going to ask him for one, but I heard him tell another fan, “If I have to give one to you, I have to give one to everyone.”
Apparently, the Civil Rights game is a huge event. I didn’t know this. Had I been aware of the competition I would face, I would’ve headed to Baltimore to see the Indians there.
Some more pictures:
Left field wall:
Field with podiums and chairs for the on-field ceremonies:
Tonight’s game would be broadcast on the MLB Network:
A seemingly never ending stream of inner city baseball little league teams circled around the stadium on the warning track:
And continued to the concourse ( and out of the stadium ).
Steam boat wheel:
The game wouldn’t start until about 7:45 PM due to the lengthy on field ceremonies. Had I stayed at the game, I wouldn’t have gotten home until after 3AM.
I left the stadium before the game began.
Game: 2 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 115 balls (70 hit, 24 thrown, 10 device, 12 found)
Games: 16 games
Average: 7.19 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 693 balls
Streak: 112 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.