Its July 4th, and today’s Pirates game will mark the half way point of the 2012 season.
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve decided to take a break from blogging.
So, I haven’t blogged in months, and tonight at 2:39 am I decided to check my stats – and was surprised to see that I’m still averaging over 500 viewers a day.
I can’t upload pictures anymore because for some reason, mlblogs has revoked all of my data storage. In fact, I’m at -50.5%. When I was blogging, I had like 83% space left.
Thanks mlblogs for ruining my blog anyway when you converted to wordpress and messed up all of my entries from 2010 and 2011. I had loads of content and pictures from all of those games, but all was lost when the conversion was made save for a paragraph of two and whatever the first picture was.
So, since I can no longer blog here anymore thanks to MLBLOGS and wordpress, all of my stats are uploaded daily after I attend a game on MYGAMEBALLS.COM
I’ll also include little notes about each ball.
I have 328 this year, so simple math tells us that I’m on pace for 656.
Not having to blog each game has been nice – I’ve had a lot more time to spend with my family.
Check out these blogs rather than mine:
Nick Pelescak’s blog:
Nick finishes in the top three every year on mygameballs. Currently he’s only 8 balls out of 3rd place, and will make up ground with lots of road trips in August and September, so this year shouldn’t be any different than the last couple years. If there’s a ball hit from section 136-138, he’s on it. Of the 5 other ballhawks listed below, he’s the only one that routinely catches home runs on the fly.
Zac Weiss’ blog:
Besides writing a letter to get the Pirates to open the gate at 4:30 this year, Zac also is putting up decent numbers this year. He was in the top 5 for much of this season before fading a bit lately down to 8th. He’s putting up great numbers at PNC Park this year. His 130 balls at PNC slightly edge Nick’s 129 for 2nd place. Of the 5 ballhawks listed here, Zac is the best at getting balls tossed up to him by coaches and players. Roughly 90% of his baseballs are thrown.
Ian Weir’s blog:
Ian isn’t in the top 10, but still gets his fair share of baseballs. He blogs about it here.
Rookie ballhawk Scoonz was a former reader of this blog before taking up the hobby himself. Scoonz’s catching has been improving since his first game and I’ve noticed fewer dropped balls.
Another Rookie ballhawk, pghrick is having a good season, already snagging two game home run balls.
I think that’s about it for now.
I almost didn’t go to this game. The forecast called for a 50% chance of rain. Nick Pelescak decided not to go. So, around 11 AM, Amy and I were sitting talking about what we were going to do for the day, she really wanted to go to Baltimore as she, like I, enjoy traveling. I looked at the hourly forecast one more time before leaving:
I figured if it did rain, I should at least be able to get a ball from an Athletics pitcher with my A’s jersey with a gold (pirates) sweatshirt underneath.
We arrived at the stadium at 3:55, and there were literally 20 people ahead of us.
Its a good thing that we got there when we did because 30 minutes later, the line snaked far off into the distance out of view.
Everyone was here to see the unveiling of the Frank Robinson statue in center field and get their replica statue giveaway.
The gate surprising opened a couple minutes early, so I made a mad dash around the stadium into left field. You may be able to see me in the picture below, I’m wearing an orange shirt:
I got on the board early as I caught a Robert Andino home run on the fly here:
I had to run a section and a half to make the catch, but it felt good to get on the board early, especially as I was worried about the stands crowding up quickly. Unfortunately, the ball wasn’t a commemorative.
Not long later, an Orioles lefty hit a home run near the bullpen that I ran over and caught barehanded as it bounced off of a seat. Commemorative!
During the Orioles last group, I ditched the left field bleachers because I felt I had a better chance of getting a ball from an Athletics pitcher or two or three.
There weren’t many people there, and I had A’s gear on, so I was hoping that they’d hook me up. Jerry Blevins did when he was done, tossing me a commemorative ball:
But he was the only pitcher to toss me one, so I returned to left field.
Coco Crisp was hitting some bombs, and one of his liners rolled to the warning track. I had told the folks in the front row that I’d give them the ball if they let me get it, so they let me glove trick. When I pulled it up I noticed it was a brand new white shiny Oriole Park commemorative. I asked the guy who moved to his left for me if he’d accept another ball, since I wanted the Orioles Park one, he said he didn’t care, he just wanted a ball, so I gave him one of my decoy ones that I brought from home.
It was only 5:33 and I had 4 balls, not bad for a half hour. But then, the groundscrew came out and put the tarp on, ending the A’s batting practice shortly after it had gotten started. It had been lightly sprinkling, but nothing that the A’s couldn’t have hit through. I was very disappointed. I decided to run over to the dugout to try to get a ball as the A’s made their way off the field, but was too late.
At the dugout, I noticed a player sitting in the corner signing autographs. It was Yoenis Cespedes. Yes, THE Yoenis Cespedes – the player who I came all the way from Pittsburgh to see take batting practice.
I joined the small group of autograph seekers huddled in the front row and passed Yoenis the shiny new commemorative that I had just glove tricked in left field moments earlier.
He signed the ball:
He seemed very quiet and humble – Baltimore ballhawk Avi Miller said that he’d been signing each day for every fan that asked.
The trip was not a waste at all, even though 60% of BP got rained out. Not only did I get four baseballs and a Cespedes autographed baseball, I also got four Frank Robinson statues:
Believe it or not, I sold all 4 statues within 12 hours on ebay for $57 each with shipping included. So, I made $200 on those 4 giveaways. I could’ve made so much more money. As it was raining, I walked around the seating bowl looking for baseballs and came across at least 12 abandoned Frank Robinson statues that I suppose I could’ve just picked up. I didn’t though. I was torn – did the people just forget them? They probably didn’t even care if they were just going to leave them there in the rain… Oh well.
It turned out to be a great trip for Amy, Olivia and I. After BP we went out to eat in Baltimore because we didn’t want to stay at the game if there were going to be off an on showers.
It was a Friday at Progressive Field, and it was brutally cold, with temps in the mid 40′s. Originally, I had planned to go to Baltimore today and stay overnight and see the Athletics there on Friday and Saturday, but after some consultation with fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak, we decided to go to Cleveland instead as it was the cheaper option.
When the gates opened, I got on the board early thanks to Indians closer Chris Perez. As I was unsuccessfully looking for an easter egg, Perez fielded a ball in center field. I called out to him and he threw me the ball to put me on the board. It had a BP Gas stamp on it, meaning that I can redeem the ball for a gas card by having a representative cross out the stamp.
My second ball of the day was a home run that took a crazy bounce in the front row and shot right at me. It was over my head, so I stabbed at it with my glove and made the catch on the ricochet. It was a reflex type play.
Ball #3 was a home run to center field that bounced in the aisle and took a large hop towards the Progressive car. There wasn’t anyone else around so I scurried up the steps and picked it up.
My fourth ball came from Indians ace Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez finished a side session and walked out of the bullpen. Several people asked him for a ball, including myself, but he ignored everyone. Just as he was about to disappear out of view, he looked back. The other fans had turned their attention back to the field, but I hadn’t, so I held up my glove – and he tossed me his warm up ball for my fourth of the day.
Ball #5 was a ground rule double that I fielded in center field. I just shuffled through an open row and caught it as it bounced off of the warning track.
That was it for the Indians. When the Angels came out, I was expecting a lot of home run balls to be hit to center field, since they are a right handed heavy line up. That really wasn’t the case though. The Angels didn’t hit much of anything to center field that had home run distance.
As BP got underway, I tried to get a ball from a pitcher, but the last place Angels, who have been in turmoil were pretty unfriendly when it came to tossing up baseballs.
After a long drought, I caught a home run on the fly in center field off the bat of who I believe is Mark Trumbo after looking at his batting stance on mlbtv. I caught it here:
Ball #7 was a home run ball that landed in the trees in Heritage Park.
That was just before 6PM. At 6, the whole stadium opened, and I made my way over to left field. An unknown righty hit a home run to my right that I tried to catch, but couldn’t quite get to. In left field there are steep steps and bleachers all over the place, so its difficult to navigate quickly. The ball landed here:
Luckily, it rolled underneath the riser that the seats are on, so I just reached underneath and grabbed it.
I could tell that batting practice was about to end, so I hustled to the Angels dugout, the Angels finished before I got to the dugout, but I got there just in time to yell out ‘DINO!’ towards one of their coaches. It was Dino Ebel, their third base coach. He looked at me and smiled, and then turned away to put a few baseballs away. He then turned back and tossed me ball #9. Luckily I looked over the coaches list when I made my roster. Dino is unmistakeable because he’s rather gaunt. Seems like a cool guy though.
I only needed one more for double digits, but we didn’t hang around, we made the drive back to Pittsburgh with plans on heading to Baltimore the following day.
It was a Wednesday in Cleveland, and there were only 10,552 fans to attend this game. There were maybe 100 people there during batting practice. You’d think it would be a good day.
One from Chris Perez, who’s the friendliest pitcher in the major leagues:
One was a home run by Carlos Santana that was over my head and I nearly caught, except that it tipped off my glove as I jumped for it. No matter, there was no one else around, so I merely picked it up.
And a third ball was a ground rule double that settled in the second row that I beat out a gloveless fan for.
When the Royals came out, I expected to be able to catch a few homers from their lefties and get a few tossups since there was only one other fan in the park wearing Royals gear.
I went over to the bullpen and watched coach Chino Cadahia warm up with Steve Foster. When they were done, I asked Foster for the ball, but he ignored me and put the ball in the ballbag. Chino saw the snub and went to his bag and pulled out a baseball and tossed it to me.
When the Royals pitchers were done throwing, Jose Mijares tossed me ball #5.
The Royals lefties hit 2 home runs the entire BP. None came close to me. To make matters worse, it seemed that most Royals pitchers, except for Bruce Chen were in a terrible mood. The Royals you see, had lost 12 in a row heading into this game, so they weren’t feeling too generous.
By the way, this is what the stands looked like near the end of the Royals BP:
I figured that I could head over to left field or the dugout to try and get a ball, but the Royals cut their BP short, running off the field at 5:51. Fans are restricted to right field only until 6PM on weekdays. So, when the whole stadium opened, the Royals were long gone, and so were all the easter eggs thanks to Cleveland’s staff.
Five baseballs is alright, but I was hoping for a few more based on the low crowd. Oh well. This was game one of two in Cleveland this week…
This was the Pirates first game against the Rockies of the season, as the previous night had been rained out. I was looking forward to this game because 49 year old Jamie Moyer would be pitching for the Rockies, and I had purchased a ticket directly behind the Rockies dugout.
Batting practice got off to a slow start for me. In fact, I didn’t snag anything for the first 20 minutes. After coming up short on three different balls, I ranged to my left on a Michael McKenry home run ball and caught it on the fly here:
It was a milestone ball as it was my #1,600th.
Later, I called out to Evan Meek, who tossed a ball in my direction. Fellow ballhawk Ian Weir, who was two rows in front of me had it tip off of his glove, and it bounced right to me.
Ball #3 was a clean catch on the fly of a Yamaico Navarro homer here:
My fourth ball of the Pirates BP was a ground rule double hit by light hitting infielder Josh Harrison near the foul pole:
That was it for the Pirates BP, as they wrapped things up shortly after 5.
When the Rockies began hitting, the pitchers still were warming up in right field, so there were no players to shag balls. I used this time to make their job a little easier by glove tricking ball #5.
Carlos Gonzalez wandered over and tossed about 9 balls into the stands. I was about to glove trick an easy ball when he began walking towards it. Since he was making an effort to retrieve it, I didn’t use the glove trick, even though I could’ve quickly and easily snagged it and saved him the walk over. CarGo came over, picked the ball up, and handed it to me for ball #6.
Ball #7 was another simple glove trick in left.
When the pitchers finally made their way over, Rex Brothers tossed me ball #8, and motioned to me to give it to a little kid standing a few feet to my left, so I did.
Ball #9 was a foul ball hit by Troy Tulowitzki. He yanked it down the line into the lower seats. It was already like 5:35, and there were no fans over there. No one seemed to notice or care. So I ran over into foul ground and grabbed it.
I was on a hot streak. I had nine balls and Rockies BP was just getting underway. But, weirdly, I didn’t snag anything else during batting practice, even though this was the crowd shortly before 6 PM at the end of BP:
Before the game started, I waited by the bullpen for Jamie Moyer to come out. There, I asked catching Coach Jerry Weinstein to toss up a ball that was sitting in the bullpen, and he obliged for ball #10.
I then watched Jamie Moyer toss 75 mph heaters:
And then watched him do it later, in the game from my seat.
This was my section:
And the view:
I was just a few rows behind where all the players enter the dugout when they run off the field. The location was perfect, because in the third inning, Casey McGehee chopped a ball in front of the plate that Chris Nelson fielded and threw to Todd Helton for the third out. When Helton ran off the field, he spotted me in my bright Rockies jersey and tossed me ball #11.
It had a nice dirt spot on it from where McGehee had pounded it into the ground. I also noticed a little bit of scuffing. Was Moyer doctoring the ball? Its tough to say, but he kept the Pirates off balance all night, pitching 6 innings and giving up 1 run. Not bad for a 49 year old.
The game itself was probably one of the more exciting ones of the year, as the lead exchanged leads several times in the late innings before the Pirates prevailed.
Today was a Sunday, which has become the worst day to attend a baseball game at PNC. Fans aren’t allowed into the stadium until 11:30 AM, and even then, they must remain on the outer outfield concourse aka the Riverwalk until noon. No one can enter the seating bowl before noon.
I stood above the bullpen and watched as the Pirates pitchers warmed up. I watched as an overthrow sailed over Evan Meek’s head and into the seats. However, the ball didn’t last long, as an usher who was sitting in the upper lower seating bowl walked down and pocketed it.
Luckily, when Jason Grilli finished his warm up throws, he looked out at the fans behind the bullpen and made a subtle motion like he would throw the ball up. I raised my glove and then pointed back towards the concourse. There’s a ten foot chain link fence, so he obviously would have to loft it over that to get it to the fans.
I broke back behind the fence and flags and waved my arms. Grilli heaved a long toss towards the bullpen, but it fell short and landed in the bullpen. He luckily had another ball, and he put a little extra on it. It easily cleared the bullpen and all of the fans there, and landed in my glove on the fly as I was way behind everyone else.
At noon, when the gates opened to the main seating bowl, this was the view:
No batting practice. Not a good day.
All of the pitchers had already thrown, so there was no opportunities to get baseballs until the starting pitchers came out to warm up. I picked a spot near the bullpen and watched Erik Bedard warm up:
After he was done, I noticed that Cardinals coach Dyar Miller had a ball. I yelled, “Coach, could you toss that ball up?” He looked at me and threw up a wild overthrow. It ended up bouncing off the back wall, where I raced over and picked it up for ball #2:
I had hoped to get one more ball today to get #1600 out of the way, but it didn’t happen.
Rain would wash out batting practice today, making it a struggle to get baseballs.
However, sometimes in the hobby of ballhawking, you’ll have luck on your side. I had a lot of luck today. Upon entering, I went to the main seating bowl and found ball #1:
They were likely overthrows from the Pirates warm up session before the gates opened.
The Cardinals came out soon after and I was able to get JC Romero to toss me ball #4 when he was done:
And Fernando Salas threw me ball #5:
I decided to get out of the way so that fellow ballhawk Zac Weiss should get a ball or two. I went halfway up into the empty seats to sit down and number my baseballs.
Just when I sat down, about 20 some rows back, I noticed Lance Lynn had finished throwing, so I stood up and help up my glove. He fired a perfect strike at me for ball #6.
Moments later, Mark Rczepzynski randomly fired his ball into the empty seats, so I just had to walk over and pick it up for ball #7.
When Kyle McClellan finished his warm ups, rather than give in to the polite request from the two Cardinals fans for a ball, he turned and fired his warm up ball into the right field seats, which were off limits until 5:30. Since I couldn’t get over there, I went into the upper deck on a scouting mission so I could see down into the right field seats so that I could know exactly where the ball was in case someone else was also going for the same ball. Can you spot it?
At 5:30, I ran up to the exact spot where the ball was waiting for me and snapped a pic. It was ball #8:
At 5:35, I went into the upper deck and found a Mark Rzepczynski ball that he had randomly just thrown into the upper deck.
There was no BP, and yet after about an hour, I had already snagged 9 balls. There wasn’t much action for the next 90 minutes, so I took a pic of the field:
Took a pic of this fan’s Cardinals jersey:
And watched AJ Burnett warm up before his first Pirates start:
I sat for a few innings in right field, but couldn’t snag another baseball. After a few innings, I went home to my family and watched the rest on TV.
By the way, today was fittingly umbrella night.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 9 balls
Season: 53 balls
Career: 1,597 balls
The Pirates returned home to start a six game home stand. Looking at this stretch of 6 games, I expected to put up big numbers. First, all of the games except for Sunday would have 4:30 gate opening times, giving me more opportunities to snag baseballs. Second, the Penguins had a win or go home playoff game, and since seemingly everyone is a Penguins fan, most Pittsburghers were likely to attend that game or watch it on tv. Also, perennial top 3 mygameballs ballhawk Nick Pelescak will not be in attendance as he is attending a wedding out of the country. So, more BP, decreased competition = more balls. That wouldn’t be the case though.
Also, imagine the look on my face when I was driving to work Friday morning and checked the weather for this homestand.
What a rough break. Hopefully the patterns chance. I’m really looking forward to Monday and Tuesday…
Wait, they got worse, now Pittsburgh may get 6 inches of snow Monday.
So, today was important because it was likely the only BP I would get for the entire home stand. There’s no BP Sundays usually, Monday’s game will get snowed/rained out, forcing a double header on Tuesday, which would eliminate BP, and Wednesday is a day game, so likely no BP.
Anyway, this is what happened for the first half hour:
And don’t forget this:
Nothing happened! It was brutally slow. Andrew McCutchen and Rod Barajas, the two best righties for BP homers must’ve hit in the first group before the gates opened. I only had one chance for a home run, off the bat of Michael McKenry, but completely lost it in the sun and didn’t end up close to it. If you come to BP at PNC Park, bring your shades. I had glasses and they still didn’t help:
Bullpen coach Herbie Andrade must’ve felt bad for me, because he graciously threw me a ball as the Pirates ran off the field at the end of their BP at exactly 5:00.
I caught it here.
Then, there was a lull as the Cardinals didn’t start hitting until 5:15-5:20. When they did, I used the glove trick in left field to snag ball #2.
When the rest of the park opened up, I headed over to center field and cleanly caught a Carlos Beltran home run on the fly here:
And a few minutes later caught another home run on the fly in the same row. The only difference is that this time I had to jump to make the catch:
On a side note, most of the Cardinals pitchers were being complete a-holes. I think they like playing the ‘heel,’ or bad guy. Jaime Garcia for example, snagged a ball near the warning track and acted like he was going to toss it up. He went back and forth pointing at two sections in center field to elicit noise so he could decide where to throw the ball. After getting the crowd to be rather noisy he approvingly shook his head yes, then turned and fired the ball in towards the field. On my way back over to left field, I heard one of the ushers mutter, “What a jerk!”
I spent the last 15 minutes of BP in left field. Look how crowded it was at the very end of batting practice:
Anyway, we decided it was too hot for Olivia and left before the first pitch (78 degrees and sunny was the game time weather conditions). We did come away with a few nice shirts though:
Here’s today’s baseballs:
Game: 4 Balls
Season: 44 Balls
Lifetime: 1,588 Balls
It was Sunday and we were back for our second of two games at Nationals Park.
It’s such a pretty stadium:
Wait, not really:
Actually, after talking it over, it was unanimous between myself, Amy, and fellow ballhawk Nick that this is now our least favorite stadium.
At least this was a Sunday game, and there was no giveaway, so it wouldn’t be crowded early. There was just one problem. As we stood in line, we watched the video board which shows a live feed of the field. There was no cage, and no activity at all going on. We stood in line and debated what to do. Finally, Amy asked the head supervisor if there was going to be batting practice, “Yeah, they’ll be out, I don’t know what time, but they’ll be out.” At first I thought he was just making it up and had no clue. But I decided that since we had stayed overnight, it would be a waste just to go home. I took the supervisor at his word, and at 10:58 AM, 2 minutes before the gates opened, bought us tickets.
When we entered the field, there wasnt much action.
The Nationals came out and warmed up, but there was a few ballhawks that joined me in the second deck today, and I was unable to get a ball.
To make matters worse, the Nationals didn’t take batting practice, so after an hour passed, I still had nothing to show for my efforts.
I was able to get ball #1 with an assist from fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak. He said he saw a coach take two balls and toss them into the empty seats in foul territory. So, at noon when the rest of the stadium, we ran over and Nick grabbed the first ball, and after looking around for the second, I spotted it under a seat three rows back. Thanks for the assist Nick.
It was a nice clean ball, so I didn’t number it. I’ve decided to stop numbering Easter Eggs and Glove Trick balls, since they have little to no importance except in my overall numbers. I’ve decided to hang onto them to either get them signed or sell eventually to finance some more trips.
Anyhow, this is the spot where I found ball #1:
The Reds finally started taking BP around noon, and I glove tricked my second ball from the gap in center field.
Before doing so, I looked around and there were no kids around at the time to hand the ball to, and no one was standing over the ball as if to ‘claim’ it. However, as soon as I started lowering my glove, this ballhawk went off and started screaming at the groundscrew who were fifty feet away in the center field service tunnel to get him the ball, in hopes that they would get it before I could:
What’s worse is that he’s a ballhawk, as he had Nationals stuff on and tried to get a ball in the second deck earlier, and then switched to Reds stuff in center field. Luckily, I glove tricked the ball on the first attempt before any staff member could retrieve it. Maybe he was mad because Nick owned him on a toss up in the second deck earlier, and saw Nick and I talking and figured we were friends. I don’t know.
That was it for batting practice. Before leaving I looked in the bullpen and saw that there were nine balls sitting there. Four were super easy glove trick balls directly below the overhang.
However, I didn’t even try. I waited patiently.
Eventually, Ryan Hannigan came out about twenty minutes after BP and tossed every single ball up to fans. I got the second one he tossed up for ball #4 on the day.
We left before the game started as it was a long drive back to Pittsburgh. I only snagged seven ball over the two games, but we still managed to have fun.
Olivia loves baseball trips and checking out the kids playgrounds in the different parks.
Here’s today’s baseballs:
Game: 4 balls
Season: 40 balls
Lifetime: 1584 balls
Today we would head to Washington DC for a Saturday/Sunday trip.
Today’s game would be a 4:05 start, meaning the gates would open at 1:30.
We ended up not making it to Nationals Park until almost 1 PM, and ended up being about 20th in one of the many lines that had formed. Several minutes before the gates opened, this was the scene:
It was chaos. The Nationals were giving away a Stephen Strasburg bobblehead to the first 15,000 fans. In DC, everyone is crazy about Strasburg, so there were 15,000 people that showed up early, making batting practice really tough.
As soon as I got into the stadium, batting practice was just getting underway, so rather than scurrying around in left field looking for balls (there was already about 100 people in there anyhow by the time I got in), I headed straight up to the upper deck in right field. This was my competition:
As a result, I was able to get a trainer to toss up a ball that a Nationals batter hit to the track in right center field.
As a result, I was able to get a trainer to toss up a ball that a Nationals batter hit to the track in right center field.
During batting practice, Nationals park only allows fans in left field, center field, and the upper deck in right field for the first hour. For some odd reason, right field, which is the largest section of outfield seats, is closed off.
It became quite clear rather quickly that I would have to go for toss ups, or glove trick balls.
There were plenty of glove trick balls in the bullpens, but the Nationals are militant like in prohibiting ball retrievers from the bullpens, so I didn’t even try. I did glove trick this ball from the gap in center field for ball #2.
After hauling it in, I turned and handed it to a little boy on my right. It was a classic Nationals training ball.
In the meantime, batting practice was ridiculously crowded. Worse than probably any opening day. There was literally no room to really move and catch any BP home runs:
And the Nationals and Reds didn’t hit too many anyhow.