I booked Amy and I tickets on megabus.com for a bus headed to Cleveland for the Pirates-Indians series. It cost me $3 to go there, and $5 for the return fare, since I booked it a couple weeks in advance. You can’t beat that.
This was my second game of the year at Progressive Field, which is way down from last year when I attended 19.
Upon entering the stadium and looking for baseballs, I found one in Heritage Park in center field. Unreachable with my arm, I used the ‘Cleveland stick’ to reach under the wall and snag this one.
My second ball of the day was a Travis Hafner home run that landed several rows behind me that I was able to grab before a couple of other fans.
Moments later, Hafner hit another home run that I snagged on the fly for ball #3.
A couple minutes after that, I noticed a ball land in the trees of Heritage Park. I ran over and was able to reach in and grab it without the use of any device.
In the meantime, there were a few balls in the bullpen. I ended up glove tricking one of them after at least 10 attempts at knocking the ball closer to the wall. Once the ball was close enough to the wall, I reeled it in for ball #5, and was given a round of applause by those fans who watched the whole ordeal.
When the Pirates came out to hit, one of the Buccos hit a home run that landed on the bullpen roof in center field.
I used the Cleveland stick – which reaches 6 feet (plus at least three feet of my arm length) to just barely reach it.
Less than a minute after snagging ball #6, Daniel McCutchen ran past while doing sprints and flipped a ball up into the stands, right to me. I didn’t even ask for it. Maybe it was my bright gold shirt. Regardless, it was my seventh of the day.
I finished batting practice in left field and was tossed #8 by Jeff Karstens. I had given up asking Jeff Karstens for balls in 2009, because he had completely ignored every request that I ever put in for a ball. I didn’t even ask for this particular ball. A batter hit it off the left field wall, Jeff ran over, picked it up, looked at me, and fired it right to me.
After batting practice, I was thrown ball #9 in the Pirates bullpen by bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade.
I left right after that, despite needing just one more for double digits. Amy was waiting in the hotel, and I wanted to go out to eat with her.
We went to East 4th street, where there are a few restaurants and was seemingly the only stretch of any street in Cleveland that wasn’t abandoned and boarded up.
We ate at Zocalo – a Mexican restaurant, and it was fantastic. The entrance was a little iffy, but everything else was first class.
After that, we walked back to the hotel room for a brief 15 minute pit stop, and then went back out to explore the city. We walked around for an hour or two, and watched the fireworks after the game from the rooftop on a parking garage downtown.
Those couple hours were by far my favorite of the entire weekend trip.
Game: 9 balls (3 hit, 3 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 227 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 37 games
Average: 6.14 balls per game
Career: 1,349 balls
I took my first trip to Cleveland on Friday. Last year, I made 19 trips to Cleveland and was a 20 game season ticket holder. I didn’t renew my tickets and plan on making fewer trips this year, even though Progressive Field is one of my favorite stadiums to ballhawk in.
Amy was along with me for a weekend trip, that included a stop in Cleveland, and then two games at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Saturday and Sunday.
When we arrived, the rain had stopped, but when I peeked into the stadium, I saw the tarp out on the field, which is never a good sign – but it was negated by the fact that the cage was up, and there were several Indians out throwing. The only thing that the rain had ruined was early batting practice, meaning easter eggs would be unlikely.
Amy got in line at Gate C, and even though we arrived at 3:50, we were still first in line. I was hoping that maybe batting practice had started so there would be some balls in the seats, but it didn’t.
It ended up costing me a couple balls, because some balls landed in the seats, and I was more focused on finding balls than tracking them. It was an error, but luckily Travis Hafner was in the cage, and he was in fine form today.
Perez has thrown me more baseballs than any during batting practice. He’s probably THE most generous pitcher in terms of distributing souvenirs to fans that I’ve seen. Although Livan Hernandez of the Washington Nationals is a close second. Thanks Chris!
Another teenaged ballhawk had beaten me down there as he was in the section by the bullpen, but he couldn’t find the ball anywhere.
So even though the Indians BP was great, and I started out on fire, it all got evened out by that cold stretch, as I failed to snag another ball during the Indians portion of batting practice.
Luckily, the Seattle Mariners feature a ton of lefties, so my chances of getting a few more would be decent.
Ichiro was the first batter for the Mariners, and he didn’t disappoint. He put ball after ball into the seats.
It was an easy glove trick ball. All I’d have to do is fling my glove out a few feet, knock the ball closer to the wall, and it’d be mine. The only problem was that a security guard was thirty feet down the line, staring directly at the area where I’d have to do the glove trick.
I decided to go and just do it quickly. I went and snagged the ball, as planned, and the security supervisor marched down and demanded that I give the ball back. I did. But it wasn’t the same ball. It was a beat up decoy ball that Nick and I use to play catch with on the Roberto Clemente bridge. I kept ball #8 in my possession.
Back in right field, ball #10 was a clean catch that literally saved some lady’s face. I ran over and caught the ball on the run directly in front of an elderly woman who wasn’t paying attention at all. Amy didn’t get the picture because it was obstructed, but here I am labeling the ball.
Amy was sitting probably about twenty rows back taking pictures, when one of the lefties hit a bomb that landed a section over from her. There was no one in the vicinity but her, so as several other fans raced in to claim it. She got up and acted like she was going to go snag the ball. This caused the other fans to lay off, and gave me enough time to go get the ball. Amy knows that if she had picked it up, it wouldn’t have counted, so that’s why she left it there for me to get. She gets a huge assist on ball #11.
It was picked up in row R under a seat
It was a line drive home run that smacked an elderly man directly in the chest, knocking him down into his chair. I picked the ball up a row behind him and gave it to him. It would’ve been nice to have kept my thirteenth ball, but given the situation, I felt I had to give the ball up.
Amy and I left right after batting practice to head to Milwaukee.
Game: 13 balls (9 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 131 balls (54 hit, 33 thrown, 25 device, 18 found)
Games: 20 games
Average: 6.55 balls per game
Career: 1,253 balls
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.
I had the opportunity to watch batting practice on the field today. I had to be in the Pirates administrative offices at 4:15, where I would receive a lanyard and Suite tickets for tonight’s game.
However, the downfall of this opportunity is that the participants must stay in a small 15×15 area or so in center field. So snagging balls isn’t that easy.
Game: 8 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 234 balls (126 hit, 59 thrown, 22 device, 27 found)
Games: 36 games
Average: 6.50 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 812 balls
Streak: 132 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.
Unfortunately, I missed the entire 3 game series at PNC Park vs the Cubs earlier this week. Monday it rained, so I stayed home. Tuesday, I had to coach, and wouldn’t have been able to get to the game until 7. Wednesday’s game was an afternoon game, and I had to work.
Not wanting to get completely shut out in Week 23, I made the two hour drive to Cleveland today.
I got there early enough so that I would be first in line.
It would be twenty minutes before anyone else showed up. While waiting, I ran into a ballhawk named Dennis from New York. He was on a 10 ballpark tour, and was familiar with other ballhawks such as Zack Hample, District Boy, and Greg Barasch. We talked up until the gates opened.
When the gates did open, I ran in to search for Easter Eggs. Usually there are a bunch, but the Indians didn’t hit early, so there was nothing. After an exhaustive search, I did find ball #1 several rows back in the section closest to the Indians bullpen.
I then turned my attention the Indians batting practice.
Eventually, the bullpen coaches and a cop got the squirrel to go into the Indians bullpen, and slammed the door shut. What is it with Cleveland and animal problems (remember those seagulls that cost the Royals a game a couple months ago
I didn’t stay for the game, and left, satisfied with my six snags on the day.
Game: 6 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 350 balls (187 hit, 102 thrown, 62 device)
Games: 72 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.86 balls per game
Career: 516 balls
Streak: 87 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I got to the ballpark an hour early to ensure that I would be at the front of the line.
The ball was in a little divit, so it took about 3-5 minutes of jostling the ball around until I finally had ball #7 in my grasp. The ball had “Expect to Win,” written on it.
I received my final ball, ball #8, of the day off of the bat of Mat Gamel. He hit a high fly ball to right center that I camped out underneath and made an easy catch. This particular ball had the phrase, “Best Catch Ever,” written on it. It made me smile. I was thinking to myself, “Yea, that was a pretty nice catch.”
I like how the Brewers write these crazy things on their baseballs. It’s unique. It’s different.
When the game began, I went over to the Home Run Porch in left field. The closest any ball came was a Ryan Garko foul
ball that traveled about 350 feet. I was about 25 feet away from it and lost a foot race to the spot.
I left about half way through the game.
The sweet spots:
Game: 8 Balls (7 hit, 1 device)
Season: 188 Balls (94 hit, 67 thrown, 27 device)
Games: 36 Games (4 without BP)
Average: 5.22 Balls per Game
Career: 354 Balls