Today was going to be a large crowd due to a post game performance by KC and the Sunshine Band. I enjoy weekday games much more – its almost like having your own personal batting practice because there’s no one there.
The first 30 minutes of each game are for season ticket holders only – and I would go on to get a majority of my balls in that time frame today.
Upon entering the stadium, I ran to look for Easter Eggs in left field foul territory. That turned out to be a bad choice. Not only did I find any, I found out that there were a couple in the left field bleachers. Bummer.
I got ball #1 of the day from Denny Bautista. I asked him for a ball in Spanish. He looked at me, turned around for a minute – then turned back and threw me the ball. I then told him, “Gracias. Buena suerte hoy.” I waved his hand. I do believe that’s my first career ball from Denny.
I soon got ball #2 of the day off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. He hit a high fly ball towards the bleachers. I positioned myself in the fourth row back, and waited for the high hop off of the warning track.
Ball #3 was a home run off the bat of “Mr. Smooth” Luis Cruz. He hit a shot that I chased down to my right. My wife snapped a picture of me on the way back.
Then wanted me to pose with the ball, but I was afraid to take my eyes off of the batter’s cage.
Game: 5 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 316 balls (166 hit, 92 thrown, 59 device)
Games: 65 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.86 balls per game
Career: 482 balls
Streak: 80 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
O.A.R. is in town playing a post game concert to coincide with fireworks set off from a barge on the river, the Clemente bridge, atop the scoreboard, and buildings across the river. Tonight was night two of the annual Skyblast Series, a popular Pirates promotion.
This game was the 700th game in the history of PNC Park, the seventh largest crowd in the history of PNC Park, and the largest ever Skyblast crowd. Additionally, it was the largest crowd of the 2009 season.
Luckily, the skies were threatening earlier in the day, keeping some fans away from batting practice. As a result, there were slightly less fans than attended yesterday.
Since it was a Saturday game, the gates opened a half hour earlier than during the week. I was in line by 3:30, and was the first one into the stadium. My plan was to get off to a big start by picking up a bunch of Easter Eggs. Another Saturday special perk is that the entire seating bowl is also open to season ticket holders, rather than just the left field bleachers. (Season Ticket holders are confined to left field only during weekdays).
I ran in and checked to lower bleachers. Nothing.
I hopped up the steps and checked the upper general admission bleachers. Nothing.
I ran over into foul territory and checked all of the upper and lower sections along the left field line. Nothing.
The only thing I did find was an old usher with a devilish wry smile on his face as I walked back up the stairs empty handed to return to left field. I had a feeling he had pocketed several balls, as I’ve personally seen him do so at previous games.
I was shut out for the first twenty minutes of batting practice. My plan to get on the board was to ask new Pirate Jose Ascanio for a ball in Spanish.
I moved down to the front row, waiting for Ascanio to snag a ball.
Soon, Andy LaRoche hit a line drive that carried fairly deep into the outfield. It hit on the grass and took a medium sized hop towards the wall, right where I was standing. I reacted and reached down over the wall and snagged ball #1. Unfortunately, Ascanio was about ten feet away watching. Now, I couldn’t ask him for a ball today, as he had just seen me snag one. I’ll have to save that request for another day.
I didn’t get another ball until near the very end of the Pirates batting practice. Many of the Pirates righties must’ve been watching the Cardinals take batting practice yesterday, because they took the exact same approach – trying to inside out every pitch to right field.
Luckily, Steve Pearce hit a towering home run towards me. I had to hobble over one section and just managed to snag the ball at the last second. After catching ball #2, I stumbled a bit and regained my balance by grabbing onto the bleacher back support. (My range is improving a bit. My back, which has ailed me for the last nine days, has felt markedly better since I started using a hydrocolater pad yesterday. I even went without my back brace today.)
Game: 5 balls (3 hit, 2 device)
Season: 260 balls (134 hit, 84 thrown, 42 device)
Games: 55 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.73 balls per game
Career: 426 balls
Streak: 70 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Another hot and sunny day at PNC Park today.
I really wasn’t looking forward to batting practice much today, after seeing yesterday’s performance by the Indians. Their right handed hitters all take a predominantly opposite field approach when they are taking their cuts, meaning most of their hits are line drives to right or right center field.
I got on the board with ball #1 of the day from Steven Pearce. He hit a home run that was landing about a row and a half in front of me. I was able to get my glove on it, but didn’t make the catch. The ball dribbled into the row directly in front of me, and I was able to quickly pick it up for my first ball of the day.
The sun was glaringly bright again today.
Game: 3 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 203 Balls (102 hit, 73 thrown, 28 device)
Games: 40 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.08 balls per game
Career: 369 balls