May 2010

5-25-2010 Progressive Field

Today would be even more frustrating than yesterday. 

Batting practice wouldn’t even begin until 4:45 PM.  I stood and watched as the Indians took infield.  There was absolutely nothing going on in the outfield.  Pointless.

When batting practice did get under way, there were three balls hit into the right field and center field stands from once batting practice began until 6PM.  Three balls.  That’s both the Indians and White Sox combined!

I luckily got on the board quickly as I asked a ballboy for a ball that he was retrieving in the right field corner.  “Aren’t you here everyday?” He asked.  “Well, not everyday,” I replied.  The ballboy smiled and tossed me ball #1.
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In fact this was only my fifth game of the season at Progressive Field.

Not that it mattered since there were three balls hit into the stands, but there were a few groups in attendance, clogging up all of the rows and limiting my range.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 found)
Season:  143 balls (86 hit, 32 thrown, 9 device, 16 found)
Games: 22 games
Average:  6.50 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  721 balls
Streak:  118 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 14,441

Last year after game 22 I had 118 balls, so I’m at least doing better than last year.  However, game 22 for me was on May 15th.

5-24-2010 Progressive Field

I didn’t arrive at this game until almost 5PM, as I left after work.  The gates had opened at 4:30, so I was operating at a disadvantage from the beginning.  Couple that with that fact that only six balls reached the center field/right field seating area from the time I arrived until 6PM, and you have a recipe for a frustrating day.

I got my first ball of the day off the bat of Shin Soo Choo. 
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The stadium was pretty empty, so I ran over to the section the ball had landed in and waited for the ball to roll down to me as two guys searched frantically where the ball had hit.

I got my second ball of the day from Tony Sipp. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown)
Season:  139 balls (85 hit, 31 thrown, 9 device, 14 found)
Games: 21 games
Average:  6.62 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  717 balls
Streak:  117 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 10,166

5-23-2010 PNC Park

It was a dreaded Sunday game.  The game last night ended around midnight.  Surely there wouldn’t be batting practice.

Each Sunday, I head down to the stadium and peer through the gates around 11:15 or so.  If the cages are up, I will stay, if not, I just turn around and go home.  No big deal.

I hate Sunday games because there’s always kids everywhere, and there’s always some special event bringing throngs of people.
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I was floored when I saw this through the gate Sunday morning:
100_2923.JPGSTATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  135 balls (83 hit, 29 thrown, 9 device, 14 found)
Games: 20 games
Average:  6.75 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  713 balls
Streak:  116 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  23,045

5-22-2010 PNC Park

I was debating about whether to attend this game, or head to Cleveland with fellow ballhawk Nick.  I chose to go to this game because I had ten extra tickets to get Garrett Jones figurines that I could sell for some extra traveling funds. 

When I arrived at the park at about 4:20, the tarp wasn’t on the field and the cages weren’t up either.  However, by 4:30, the tarp was on.  Light rain would arrive just after 4:30 with intense rain beginning around game time.

I was at the end of a pretty long line, so when I finally got into the stadium I made a dash for the foul territory in left field where Brian Burres and Ross Ohlendorf were playing catch.
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I was the only one behind them, so it was pretty much guaranteed I would get the ball, I just had to be patient

While waiting, something caught my eye.  It was a ball.  It was in a puddle of water on the tarp.  And it was absolutely soaked.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (2 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  130 balls (79 hit, 28 thrown, 9 device, 14 found)
Games: 19 games
Average:  6.84 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  708 balls
Streak:  115 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  26,519

5-21-2010 PNC Park

Today was a tough day for all ballhawks in attendance at PNC Park.  There weren’t too many home runs, and of the home runs that were hit, most were to right field and either bounced back on the field, or were gobbled up by fans in the front row.

I was flat out robbed twice by fans in the front row.  One by a 50 year old who was in the front row and jumped to make the catch, inches in front of my waiting glove, and another by a college kid who was a row ahead of me and caught a home run barehanded about two inches in front of my glove.  In both cases, there was nothing that I could’ve done differently, as I was behind them.

On to the balls that I did snag.

My first ball of the day was a home run off the bat of Steve Pearce.  I misjudged the ball a bit.  I moved down a row, and barely made a snow cone catch, as I should’ve just stayed put.
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My second ball of the day was off the bat of another Pirate.  I’m not sure of the hitter, but they lofted a high fly ball towards left center.  I could tell it would be short, so rather than getting into a scrum in the front row, I ran back a few rows to about the fifth row back.  The ball landed on the warning track and took a 20 foot high bounce and directly into my glove. 

The Pirates wrapped things up at 5:20, a little earlier than recently. 

I changed into my Braves gear and managed to get Brian McCann to toss me a ball by the foul pole before he went in to hit. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  127 balls (79 hit, 26 thrown, 9 device, 13 found)
Games: 18 games
Average:  7.06 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  705 balls
Streak:  114 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  22,470

5-20-2010 PNC Park

My first game of the week didn’t go so well.  I would come away with a decent number of balls, but I felt out of position on many balls and it seemed like there were at least a half dozen balls that I should’ve had that just bounced the wrong way.

Shortly after entering the stadium, I grabbed a ground rule double and was on the board.  Near the end of the Pirates portion of batting practice, Herbie Andrade, the Pirates bullpen catcher, began hitting us pop flies. 

However, he was hitting them backwards as he was facing the field.  It caused for the balls to have a vicious top spin that would carry the balls back toward the field.  One of his hits was a high fly that I camped under.  It should’ve been an extremely easy catch, but I underestimated the spin and completely missed it.  Embarrassing. 

Herbie’s final hit as he was walking off the field fell short of the stands and nestled up against the left field wall, so I glove tricked it for my second ball of the day.

When the Brewers came out, I got Mitch Stetter to toss me my third ball of the day.
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Stetter looked at me and said something to Marco Estrada, who turned and looked.  I figured that maybe they had seen me changing into Brewers gear under the bleachers.  However, he tossed me that ball I had mentioned a few moments later, so maybe he said, “Hey look, there’s an actual Brewers fan in spite of our 9 game losing streak,” rather than something sarcastic.

At 5:30, I found my fourth ball of the day in the center field stands, and it had a phrase on it.  It said, “Get R Done.”

The Brewers are known to write witty phrases on their balls every now and then.
Annoying, they kept reading them and passing them around to each other to read rather than toss them in the crowd.

I went right back to left field after finding my fourth ball and got a home run that landed in a large trash push cart underneath the Left Field Rotunda.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  122 balls (75 hit, 25 thrown, 9 device, 13 found)
Games: 17 games
Average:  7.18 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  700 balls
Streak:  113 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  13,975

5-15-10 Great American Ballpark

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This would be the second most crowded game that I have ever attended.  The attendance of this game was 41,326.  The most packed game I ever attended was last year at Citizen’s Bank Park when a Reds vs Phillies match up drew 41,538.  At that game, I only managed to snag two balls.  Would today be different?  I was hoping so, since Cincinnati opens its gates 30 minutes early to season ticket holders.
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I stayed there for several minutes, but got tired of watching a few balls sail into the lower level seats.  I ended up moving all over the place for the rest of batting practice, but it would never lead to any more baseballs.

Batting practice also ended early, as there would be lengthy on field ceremonies to honor Negro League Baseball players and African American ballplayers’ contributions to the Civil Rights movement.

By the way, about that ball in center…  It seemed to be a bit too far out to throw my glove out and nudge it closer, plus there was a security guard right there.  After batting practice, when he went to get the baseballs that landed in the bat
ters eye, I was going to ask him for one, but I heard him tell another fan, “If I have to give one to you, I have to give one to everyone.”

Apparently, the Civil Rights game is a huge event.  I didn’t know this.  Had I been aware of the competition I would face, I would’ve headed to Baltimore to see the Indians there.

Some more pictures:
Left field wall:
5-15-2010 (11).JPGField with podiums and chairs for the on-field ceremonies:
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Podium:
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Tonight’s game would be broadcast on the MLB Network:
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A seemingly never ending stream of inner city baseball little league teams circled around the stadium on the warning track:
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And continued to the concourse ( and out of the stadium ).
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Steam boat wheel:
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The game wouldn’t start until about 7:45 PM due to the lengthy on field ceremonies.  Had I stayed at the game, I wouldn’t have gotten home until after 3AM.

I left the stadium before the game began. 

Here are today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  2 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  115 balls (70 hit, 24 thrown, 10 device, 12 found)
Games: 16 games
Average:  7.19 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  693 balls
Streak:  112 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  41,326

5-10-2010 PNC Park

It was another great day at PNC Park for me. 

There wasn’t a very big crowd, so there was plenty of room to run around during batting practice. 
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I would snag five balls during the Pirates portion of batting practice. 

Ball #1 was off the bat of Andy LaRoche.  It was a ground rule double that I snagged on the hop.

My second and third balls were off the bat of Lastings Milledge.  The second ball was a home run that I snagged after it bounced off a handicap seat, and the third was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence right next to the foul pole.

There was no pitchers in the outfield today, which was good.  They see the regulars get many home run balls and refuse to toss balls to us.  Delwyn Young was patrolling left field today, and I got him to toss me ball #4.
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That was it for me.    I should’ve stayed as Ronny Cedeno hit a home run that bounced onto the lowest rung of the Left Field Rotunda.  I would’ve defi
nitely snagged that ball, as I’m used to running up the ramp from my experience in batting practice. 

There was probably less than 5,000 people that actually attended the game as there was a Penguins playoff game.
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Here’s today’s baseballs:
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And the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  11 balls (8 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  113 balls (69 hit, 23 thrown, 10 device, 12 found)
Games: 15 games
Average:  7.53 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  691 balls
Streak:  111 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  9,045

5-8-2010 PNC Park

When I got out of my car around 3:45, the skies were looking rather overcast.  It wasn’t raining, so I was hoping batting practice would still be on.
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It wasn’t.  When it became obvious that batting practice wasn’t going to happen, I was faced with a decision.  Go home, or put my 109 consecutive game streak on the line.  I decided to stay, because I was hoping it would rain, and people would stay home.  Also, there was a Penguins playoff game, so I hoped folks would stay and watch that.  However, Pittsburgh crowds love fireworks, and 25,000 people still showed up.

Upon entering the stadium, I got ball #1 rather quickly from coach Ray Searage.

I then noticed several Cardinals playing catch in right field, so I went over. 

Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs, and someone else were playing catch, but when they finished, they were having an intense conversation as they walked off the field about different grips, so they ignored my polite request for a baseball.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (5 thrown)
Season:  102 balls (61 hit, 21 thrown, 10 device, 11 found)
Games: 14 games
Average:  7.29 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  680 balls
Streak:  110 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  25,047

5-7-2010 PNC Park

Since today is a Friday, I thought that it might by a little more difficult than the other two days this week, where I had snagged 8 and 10 balls. 

The Cardinals can be a tricky team to deal with due to their hitting approach.  Twice last year I only snagged one ball in games that the Pirates played the Cardinals.  My best game against the Cardinals was a 9 ball performance on May 12, 2009.  I would break that today.

My first ball was a Steve Pearce ground rule double that bounced over the fence and I caught in the second row.  It was career ball #6-6-6.  Hopefully the dubious distinction of being tied to that ball number doesn’t jinx Pearce in the big leagues.

Ball #2 was another ground rule double off the bat of Lastings Milledge, and ball #3 was a home run that I had to battle the sun for, and made the catch in the aisle way between section 136 and 137.

Near the end of the group, I got two balls within 10 seconds of each other.  Both were from Lastings Milledge.  He hit a home run that I caught on the fly, and as soon as I made the catch and started drifting back to my right to go to my spot, another home run was hit to my right.  I sprinted over and picked the ball up as it was trickling down the bleachers.

The Pirates finished up at 5:26.  The Cardinals began hitting.

I glove tricked ball #6 in left field, as none of the Cardinals’ shaggers had made it over to left field yet.

I then ran over to center field and found ball #7 in the center field seats. 

I returned to left field and got a home run from an unknown Cardinals player .  The ball hit two sections from the foul pole and ricocheted like a rocked directly at me.  I actually caught the ball between my side and my forearm, as I didn’t have enough time to react.  That was ball #8, and it was only 5:38, exactly half way through batting practice.
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Would I be able to continue this pace and challenge the PNC Park Jabs/Pelescak record of 14. 

No. 

Things slowed way down, as people started blocking off the rows, and limiting my range.

I did catch a Nick Stavinoha home run on the fly in section 137. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  10 balls (8 hit, 1 device, 1 found)
Season:  97 balls (61 hit, 16 thrown, 10 device, 11 found)
Games: 13 games
Average:  7.46 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  675 balls
Streak:  109 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  16,473

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