October 2009

Pirates Season Ticket Holder Batting Practice

Recently, the Pirates invited their season ticket holders to come and take batting practice on the field at PNC Park.

This was the second year that the Pirates have done this, and the second year that I would participate.  If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you may remember this entry from last year.

I had asked my dad if he’d like to go hit again, but he indicated that he wasn’t interested.  So, I decided to ask Zack Hample, winner of the ballhawk league in 2009, if he’d like to come to PNC Park as my guest.  Hample enthusiastically obliged, and brought along his mother and his friend Brandon.

Zack, two fellow ballhawks and friends, Nick and Bryan Pelescak, and I met at the stadium at 9AM.  We promptly entered through the right field player’s garage door and walked down towards the field.
3_heading_to_field.jpgThis was the view at the end of the tunnel.
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And that, was that.

See you April 5th 2010, PNC Park.

ESPN.com Article

There’s an article on ESPN.com devoted mostly to Zack Hample, but I am quoted in the article as well.
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See the article’s title?  I guess I can be attributed with it – the author directly lifted it from a quote that I gave him.  Pretty cool.

I ran into Zack in Baltimore on August 10th, and spoke with the columnist during BP.

Here’s the small section that I received in the article:
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If you’d like to read the entire article, click HERE.

10-3-09 Great American Ballpark

My first game of the 2009 season was a Pirates vs Reds game at Great American Park.  I figured the best way to close the season was by making my final game of the 2009 season a Pirates vs Reds game at Great American Park.

I left my house around 11 AM, and arrived just before 4 PM.
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Unfortunately, the gates at Great American don’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch, so I would have to wait around until 5:40 to get in.  I was thinking, “I should’ve gone to Baltimore.”  (To see the Blue Jays vs Orioles).

I sat outside the center field gate, read the newspaper, checked scored on my phone, and waited for the gates to open.  While there, Cincinnati natives tried to engage me in conversations about the NFL and the Steelers, a subject that I didn’t really care to talk about at a baseball game.  Unlike most Pittsburghers, I’m pretty indifferent when it comes to the Steelers and Penguins. 

When the gates finally did open, I ran in and snapped a quick picture.
photo(511).jpgI had a whole TWENTY FIVE MINUTES of ballhawking.  No wonder I
didn’t do so well here earlier in the season (eight balls over two
games).

If I hadn’t had bought a ticket directly behind the Pirates dugout, I
may have left to get back to Pittsburgh at a decent hour.  Plus, 411
isn’t a great looking number to me.  I wanted to get one more ball.

I walked around the stadium and snapped a few more pictures:
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Before the game began, I got Andy LaRoche to toss me his warm up ball, except right before he was about to release it, he pump faked upon seeing a four year old girl with her glove up, two rows behind me.  He paused and pointed at the girl and underhanded the ball.  The ball floated two feet to my right.  I should’ve reached out and grabbed it, and given it to the girl, but I didnt.  I watched it float slowly by and land in the little girl’s glove.  I started kicking myself for not catching it – it would’ve been ball #7 of the day.

I would have to try and get a ball by some other means.

I had great seats to do it:
photo(521).jpgFront row behind the Pirates dugout/camera well.
photo(524).jpgI was just to the left of where the players entered/exited the Pirates dugout.
photo(522).jpgIt was a perfect spot to get a ball.

In the second inning, Pirates’ first baseman Garrett Jones tossed me ball #7 as he came off the field.  I was a bit disappointed that he had switched the warm up ball tossed by the coach with the game ball that he was bringing in towards the dugout. 

I watched in subsequent innings as he did the same thing.

With the Pirates trailing by a large margin, I left in the 6th inning to make the four and a half hour drive back to Pittsburgh.  I got home sometime after 1:30AM.

Was it worth the trip for 25 minutes of batting practice?  I’d say so.  I ended the season on a positive note, with seven balls, and 412 snagged during the 2009 season.

Coincidentally, 412 is also my telephone area code, which is somewhat cool.

Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (6 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  412 balls (217 hit, 125 thrown, 70 device)
Games: 81 games (10 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  5.09 balls per game
Career:  578 balls
Streak:  96 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  24,539

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