April 2010

4-21-10 PNC Park (Lightning Strikes Twice)

The day didn’t start off on the right foot, as I was a few minutes late to batting practice.  Fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak already had seven balls by the time I entered the stadium.  Amazing.

I had some work to do to catch up, as we began the week tied atop the standings of the Ballhawk League (BHL).

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge have been hitting in the last group of Pirates.  So, for the 10-15 minutes that we get to see the Pirates hit, at least there’s some right handed semi-power hitters in the group.

I got ball #1 off the bat of Andrew McCutchen.  It was a home run that landed in an empty section to my right that I ran over and grabbed.

Soon after, Lastings Milledge hit a ball onto the Rotunda that I ran up the ramp to snag as it slowly rolled down towards me.  That would be it for the Pirates portion.

Luckily, the Brewers have been good to me lately.  I changed into my Brewers gear.
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And then would get started on a nice roll in an empty park.
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“I’d better get my glove on,” I thought.  No less than seconds after I had my glove on my
hand, Duke delivered his second pitch of the game.  Weeks hit a slicing fly ball foul, directly at me.  I immediately stood up and went into ballhawk mode.  I took several steps to my left and made the clean catch on the fly.  It was my first foul ball since snagging my first last year on September 23, 2009.

Upon catching the ball I did a fist bump and a little bit of celebration, which must have caught the eye of Tim Neverett and Bob Walk, who commented on the catch.  It was also enough to get FSN to cut back to me.

Here’s the screen shot of me after catching the Week’s foul ball:

And even better:  The video

Someone in the Pirates brass must have seen the catch, because moments later I was approached by a Pirates representative with a mic in hand.  He introduced himself, congrulated me on my catch, and explained that he would like to invite me to be on the PNC Park game show “Know Your Buccos,” at the end of the second inning.

As instructed, I went over in the middle of the second and chatted with Joe Klimchak, who explained the game that I would be participating in.  Basically, four ‘fun’ facts about a Pirate are presented, and the participant must eliminate the false answer.

When we went live, Joe introduced me, telling the crowd about the foul ball I had just snagged, and explained how I could win the fabulous prize (a $65 Pirates sweatshirt.)

I had to figure out which of the following facts were false regarding Ronny Cedeno:
know your buccos 3.jpgI knew the Vizquel fact was probably true, given they are both Dominican.  I also figured that Old School sounded like a type of movie that a man of Cedeno’s age would enjoy.  I was torn between the First Job and the name of his cat.

I thought it over and just thought, “Who would name their cat Meow?”  “Come here Meow… that would just sound stupid.”  So I eliminated the cat named Meow.

After a few pressure filled seconds, it was revealed that Ronny does not have a cat named Meow, I had eliminated the false answer, and won the $65 jacket.
know your buccos 2.jpg
If you’d like to check out a video of my Know Your Buccos spot, you can check out the youtube link below.

I went back to my seat and watched the rest of the game, glove in hand.

Lightning wouldn’t strike twice.  Would it?

Well it did.

Andrew McCutchen came up to bat in the fifth inning.
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He fouled off a pitch in the same spot as the Week’s foul ball.  I shot up out of my chair immediately when I saw the angle the ball took off the bat.  This time, the ball was dying on me.  It didn’t quite reach me, as it was about a row and a half ahead of me.  I reached down and got it to hit my glove and knocked it into the row directly below me.  I would liken the play to a catcher smothering a ball in the dirt.  The ball came to a dead stop and I picked up my second foul ball of the day.    Amazing.

That’s TWO foul balls in one game.

More FSN face time.

Here’s some more video proof for you:

Would I go on to catch my thirteenth ball of the night?  A third foul ball in the game?

It was certainly empty enough for it to happen, as the Pirates were getting blown out, and the weather had turned cold.
100_2610.jpgThere’s probably more fans at high school baseball games, but that’s Pittsburgh on week nights for you.  Low, low attendance, especially after 10PM, like it was in the picture above.

I would end the night with those two foul balls, a sweatshirt, twelve total balls snagged, and probably the best ballhawking performance of my career.

Here’s today’s baseballs:
Foul balls are in the lower right corner.
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And the sweet spots:
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And that sweat shirt:
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What a night.  What a two game stretch.

STATISTICS:
Game:  12 balls (10 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  51 balls (34 hit, 7 thrown, 6 device, 4 found)
Games: 8 games
Average:  6.38 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 2
Career:  629 balls
Streak:  104 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  12,192

2009 through 8 games: 31 (Currently I am 20 balls ahead of last year’s career high season pace)

4-20-10 PNC Park

I needed to rebound after driving 4 hours to Washington and only getting three balls, despite a full BP.  My redemption would come today.

I arrived at the stadium a few minutes before the gates opened.  Although there were no easter eggs that I could find, I did end up getting on the board rather quickly.

My first and second balls that I snagged were off the bat of Jason Jaramillo.  The first hit a bleacher, and I ran over and picked up, and the second was a ground rule double that bounced to me over the fence.

For whatever reason, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge were hitting in the last group today.  Typically, the last group is reserved for light-hitting backups.  If this trend continues, it could be very good, considering there are very few folks at BP early, and both players have home run power.

Anyhow, that was it for Pirates BP.  Two balls.

The Brewers came out, and I was hoping for some action.  Unfortunately, most Brewers were wearing their warm up jerseys,
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so I couldn’t identify many batters, except for obvious ones like Prince Fielder, Craig Counsell or Corey Hart.

An unidentified Brewer hit a home run that disappeared onto the Rotunda. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  12 balls (8 hit, 3 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  39 balls (24 hit, 6 thrown, 5 device, 4 found)
Games: 7 games
Average:  5.57 balls per game
Career:  617 balls
Streak:  103 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  9,386

2009 through 7 games: 29 (Currently I am 10 balls ahead of last year’s career high season)

4-18-10 Nationals Park

It was a terrible weekend in terms of ballhawking for me.  I had to miss the Friday and Saturday games at PNC Park due to coaching.  I could’ve gone Saturday, but I wouldn’t have made the game until 8PM, thereby putting my streak in jeopardy, so I stayed home.

I decided to try and make up some ground by driving to Washington DC for this Sunday day game (after a day game.)
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I got to the stadium about a half hour before it was to open.  There was virtually no one there when I arrived.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (3 hit)
Season:  27 balls (16 hit, 3 thrown, 5 device, 3 found)
Games: 6 games
Average:  4.50 balls per game
Career:  605 balls
Streak:  102 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  18,789

2009 through 6 games: 26

4-14-10 Progressive Field

It was time for my return to Progressive Field in Cleveland.  Of the ballparks that I’ve traveled to, I enjoy ballhawking most at Progressive Field.
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I arrived at 3:30 and was second in line behind fellow Pittsburgh ballhawk Nick Pelescak.

When the gates opened, I was hoping to fill my pockets with Easter Eggs.  Alas, I only found one ball, despite looking in virtually every row and seat.  At the very least, I was on the board.

My second ball of the day was from Indians reliever Chris Perez.  A ball rolled to the warning track and several of us asked for it.
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 3 found)
Season:  24 balls (13 hit, 3 thrown, 5 device, 3 found)
Games: 5 games
Average:  4.80 balls per game
Career:  602 balls
Streak:  101 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  10,071

2009 through 5 games: 20 balls (Four balls ahead of last year’s pace)

I’ll close with another brief youtube video that I took from left field:

4-11-10 Citi Field

I made my first trip to Citi Field in New York on Sunday. 
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The goal was to snag one ball to extend my consecutive game streak with at least one ball snagged to 100.

I woke up at 6:45 AM in Philadelphia, left my hotel about 7:20, and was in New York City just shy of two hours later.  This was the first time I had driven to New York City, so I didn’t know the ins and outs of where to park, so I parked in a stadium lot for $19.  I was the first car in the entire lot.

I took a few pictures of the exterior of Citi Field from the parking lot:
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I told Capps that we missed him in Pittsburgh. When they finished up, Burnett had the ball and tossed me ball #5 on the day.
100<br />
_2459.jpg” src=”http://mlblogscountingbaseballs.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/100_2459-thumb-550×412-1941631.jpg” class=”mt-image-center” style=”text-align:center;display:block;margin:0 auto 20px;” width=”550″ height=”412″ /></a></span><br />The Nationals batting practice was just brutal.  Very few home runs were hit into the stands, and I ended batting practice with five balls.</p>
<p>At one point during the bore-fest, I took a video of the Nationals batting practice which you can view below: (at least the Mets have good taste in music)</p>
<span class='embed-youtube' style='text-align:center; display: block;'><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='550' height='385' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/6k5EgtVQ8-Q?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen='true'></iframe></span>
<p>The game began, and I went to my seat in the upper deck (after being kicked out of the section behind the Nationals dugout).</p>
<p>In the first inning, I saw one of the more exciting plays I’d seen in awhile.  Josh Willingham hit a ball off the wall with the bases loaded.  Immediately, I said, “That’s a grand slam.”  In the upper deck, I could see the ball was clearly to the right of the home run line.  The umpires missed the call, and we got an instant replay review.<br /><span class=100_2474.jpg
Since the umpires let the play go, I got to see Adam Dunn bowl over the catcher, and then watch Willingham get thrown out trying to stretch the play into an in the park Grand Slam. 

Of course, the umpires got the call right, and much to Mets’ fans dismay, Willingham was awarded his grand slam.

You can watch the play below if you’re into excited bases clearing hits:
Click here.

After a couple innings, I went exploring and took a few pictures of the concourse:

View from the upper deck:
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100_2471.jpgWalking towards the right field foul pole:
100_2480.jpgRight field corner concourse:
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Walking towards the Shea Bridge, under the Pepsi deck in right field:
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The Shea Bridge:
100_2483.jpgView from behind the center field seats:
100_2484.jpgFood court area behind the center field score board:
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Under the left field deck:
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Left field corner:
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Main concourse behind home plate, near the Jackie Robinson rotunda:
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And the pearl of Citi Field, the Jackie Robinson rotunda:
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100_2493.jpgI only stayed about half of the game, because I needed to try and get home before 10 PM, as I had to be up for work the next day.

Here’s the five balls I snagged:
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And the sweet spots:
100_2514.jpgGoodbye Citi Field, for now.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  17 balls (10 hit, 2 thrown, 5 device)
Games: 4 games
Average:  4.25 balls per game
Career:  595 balls
Streak:  100 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  33,672

2009 through 4 games: 17 balls

4-10-10 Camden Yards

I decided to take a little road trip this weekend.  My first stop was Baltimore’s Camden Yards.
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I had been to the stadium several times last season, with little success.  My best showing was a six ball day against the Mets, but other than that I have had terrible luck there.  Luckily, at least the weather had decided to cooperate, as it was a nice spring day.
100_2420.jpgI left about half way through the game to drive to Philadelphia.  The
plan was to stay overnight in Philadelphia, and then wake up early the
next morning and drive the rest of the way to New York City.

I was able to watch the Pirates at Diamondbacks live on the drive from Baltimore to Philadelphia. 
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MLB At-Bat for the Iphone.  Love it.  Don’t worry, I took this photo moments before leaving the Orioles’ parking lot, I wasn’t driving at that point.  Also, I did put my seat belt on after taking the photo.

Today’s baseballs:
100_2513.jpgSweet spots:
100_2512.jpgSTATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (3 hit)
Season:  12 balls (8 hit, 0 thrown, 4 device)
Games: 3 games
Average:  4.00 balls per game
Career:  590 balls
Streak:  99 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  21,148

2009 through 3 games: 13 balls, 1 behind last year’s pace.

4-7-10 PNC Park

I was expecting a low output today.  I wasn’t able to get to the park until almost 5, and I also had to leave during batting practice to take care of a prior commitment.

When I arrived, my friend Jim saved me a couple minutes by allowing me to join him and Nick at the front of the line.

As I was showing my season ticket ID to get into batting practice early, I noticed a ball bounce into section 138, the section closest to the bullpen.  I ran in and located it, putting me on the board quickly.

Seconds later, the Pirates ran off the field, ending batting practice.  They literally ended BP as we were entering the bleachers.  Unacceptable.

The Dodgers weren’t ready to start yet, so we had to wait for them to throw and stretch their arms out.  After about ten minutes of wasted time, the Dodgers started to hit.

I would get my second and third balls with my glove trick.  Fellow ballhawk Jim gets an assist on both balls for pointing them out to me, as they were near the bullpen entrance, and I was stationed about three sections away.

Here’s the area of detail, snapped after the snags:
asdsd (3).jpgI would go on to snag my fourth and final ball of the day off the bat of Russell Martin.  He hit a home run off of a bleacher in section 138 that rolled down a few rows to me.

I was hoping that Manny Ramirez would put some balls into the seats, but he didn’t.  He hit one home run ball, snagged by fellow Ballhawk League member Nick Pelescak.

I had set up a video camera hoping to capture a few home run catches during the Dodgers second round, which included Manny and Matt Kemp.

Unfortunately, all the video captured was standing around,
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls (2 hit, 2 device)
Season:  9 balls (5 hit, 0 thrown, 4 device)
Games: 2 game
Average:  4.50 balls per game
Career:  587 balls
Streak:  98 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  31,061

Spent@Game:  $7.50 ($5 Ticket, $2 Transportation, $0.50 Parking)
Spent in 2010: $21.50 ($10 Tickets, $4 Transportation, $2.50 Parking, $5 Food)

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