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.
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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)

14 Comments

Freaking sweet Erik. Nice job.

Leigh

Out-STAND-ing!!

Congrats…what an awesome day. Hopefully those YouTube clips won’t get taken down by the over-protective copyright czars at MLB. Make sure you have them saved somewhere else.

(Meanwhile, I’ve only made it to two games this season. Ugh.)

-Zack

swing!! looks like you had a good game!

Nice job Erik!!! That is pretty darn impressive!!! Keep up the good work!

Erik – Congratulations on having a monster night – aren’t you happy you stayed for the whole game considering what a bad series the Pirates had – Keep up the good work – Aloha Todd

Very nicely done.
Now, imagine how many game home run baseballs you could snag in those empty bleachers at PNC.
Consider tickets there for next year!!

“Happy”

Congrats on the big night. Where do you go from here? Im def seeing you hitting the 500 mark this year if you keep up at this pace.

Steve
http://section316.mlblogs.com

Dude that is insane! 2 foul balls in 1 game, awesome. I think it’s even cooler that you got some serious tv time especially after the 2nd one! Great job

Nice job, man. I envy you, and the empty stadium. On a week night I have to fight AT LEAST 39,000 fans at Busch. On the weekends its nearly sold out. Enjoy your empty stadium while you have it. :)

Nice weather was that day! good pictures! a remember this game – we were discussing it at a Shoutbox of a sports forum.

we appreciate you taking the time that will put this information together. Keep up the good work. online users counter

I advice you to organize all your photos into Flash photo gallery instead of placing them in this way. It would look much more attractive and the users will not have to scroll down to see all your images.

Erik, that’s just amazing job has done!!!
Flash photo gallery

Erik, I am a personal friend of Joe Crawford’s and was definitely laughing when I read your blog. You could make a lot of little kids light up if you started some type of program to have the balls signed and distributed to kids. I am not sure, maybe you are already giving them away?

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