August 2010

8-28-10 Progressive Field

I knew coming into today that it would be my final game for the month of August.  To motivate myself to do well in August, I decided that I would try to break the one month record for most balls snagged in one month.  That record was 138 balls, snagged by Zack Hample in August of 2008.

Coming into today I needed to snag three baseballs to break that record.  I made the trip to Progressive Field solo, so I don’t have any great pictures of my performance, but I’ll do my best to illustrate the day.

I was probably about the seventh person in line.  My motivation factor has been declining throughout the season, so I wasn’t there hours before the gates opened to be first in line.  I didn’t even look to see if any of the other teams had taken batting practice.

Upon entering, apparently they did take batting practice because there were seven balls in the seats.  I was able to get two of them in the front row in right center field.  They were within a few feet of each other.  Those two balls tied the one month record.  I just needed one more.

It would come from Chris Perez. 
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Perez whistled and threw a ball in my direction.  There were some other folks near me, so I’m not sure exactly who the intended target was, but it ended up landing about seven or eight rows back in a completely empty area.  The ball must’ve hit an armrest on a chair because it took a fortuitous hop and landed in my row at my feet.  That was ball #3 of the month, #139 of the month of August, and the record breaker.  

I relaxed a bit and wasn’t being real aggressive running after baseballs, despite the crowd looking like this as the Indians wrapped up their BP.
100_4082.JPGbut I only spin PNC Park’s prize wheel under the left field bleachers.

I left, taking home seven baseballs, which brought my total to the month to 143.

Here’s a recap of my busy month of August.  Click on any of the below links for a recap:

7-  8/28/10 Progressive Field
3 – 8/25/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/24/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/23/10 PNC Park
1 – 8/22/10 PNC Park
5 – 8/21/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/19/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/18/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/17/10 PNC Park
10- 8/16/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/13/10 Progressive Field
5 – 8/12/10 Progressive Field
4 – 8/10/10 Progressive Field
8 – 8/9/10 Camden Yards
5 – 8/8/10 PNC Park
10- 8/7/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/6/10 PNC Park
8 – 8/5/10 PNC Park
5 – 8/4/10 Camden Yards
10- 8/3/10 PNC Park
13- 8/2/10 PNC Park
Total:  143 balls in 22 games = 6.5 per game

This likely is my last game at Progressive Field this year.
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Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:

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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls ( 1 hit, 3 thrown, 3 found )
Season:  494 balls (240 hit, 113 thrown, 72 device, 69 found)
Games: 77 games
Average:  6.42 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,072 balls
Streak:  173 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 16,372
Balls in the month of August:  143 (new record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 50

8-25-10 PNC Park

Today got off to a terrible start. 

When I entered the park, Lastings Milledge was in the cage, taking his final cuts.  Milledge is in the last group of Pirates players to bat.  Minutes later, at 5:03, the field was empty, as the Pirates ran off the field, leaving the PNC Park regulars stunned.

I hadn’t snagged anything yet, and I was prepared to face the fact that I might get shut out.

Half way through the Cardinals BP, I got Trever Miller to toss me a ball in center field to put me on the board. 
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Luckily, I had brought my Cardinals gear, whereas yesterday I just left it at home figuring that the Cards were too stingy to toss any balls up to their own ‘fans.’   However, Miller is a veteran, and older players typically seem to be more generous in throwing balls into the stands.

Later on in batting practice, I attempted to glove trick a ball in the corner spot in center field.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls ( 3 thrown )
Season:  487 balls (239 hit, 110 thrown, 72 device, 66 found)
Games: 76 games
Average:  6.41 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,065 balls
Streak:  172 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 12,686
Balls in the month of August:  136 (3 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 57

8-24-10 PNC Park

Things got off to a great start before the gates even opened.  Someone on the Pirates hit a home run that hit off of the song whale tent on the riverwalk, took a bounce, and then landed in the tall grass here:
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Once the gates opened, the Pirates were already into their final round of batting practice, and they were all hitting opposite field, so I didn’t get a single ball from them.

That’s when Adam Wainwright came in and helped me out.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls ( 1 hit, 1 thrown, 4 device )
Season:  484 balls (239 hit, 107 thrown, 72 device, 66 found)
Games: 75 games
Average:  6.45 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,062 balls
Streak:  171 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 13,302
Balls in the month of August:  133 (6 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 59

8-23-10 PNC Park

We were lucky to get batting practice in today.  There was a steady drizzle from 4 PM until the first few minutes of batting practice, but to the Pirates’ credit, they allowed BP to continue.

My first ball was tossed to me by a worker.  I spotted the ball laying on a bleacher and ran over to claim it.  A worker from one of the concession stands was walking by and picked it up and flipped it to me.

My second ball was a home run caught on the fly in this area off the bat of Delwyn Young.
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Ball #3 was tossed up by Pirates’ closer and all around good-guy Joel Hanrahan.  Here’s Joel having some fun with a fan’s rain gear:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls ( 2 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device )
Season:
  478 balls (238 hit, 106 thrown, 68 device, 66 found)
Games: 74 games
Average:  6.46 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,056 balls
Streak:  170 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 12,393
Balls in the month of August:  127 (12 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 65

8-22-10 PNC Park

What?  A Sunday day after night game?  You know I usually don’t go to those.  But today, I did.

And here’s the reason why:
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The ball was soaked, meaning it was from the previous day’s batting practice. 
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In other news, my blog was featured today in Rochester Minnesota’s Post Bulletin newspaper.

Here’s the link.  Thanks to Alan Schuster of mygameballs.com for the tip.

STATISTICS: (note: corrected addition errors from previous entries)
Game:  1 ball ( 1 found )
Season:  471 balls (236 hit, 103 thrown, 66 device, 66 found)
Games: 73 games
Average:  6.44 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,049 balls
Streak:  169 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 24,730
Balls in the month of August:  120 (19 need
ed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 72

8-21-10 PNC Park

There was some rain in the forecast for today, so the Pirates started BP a bit earlier than usual.  The gates opened at 4:30, and the first group had already finished by that time.  Therefore, we missed out on Chris Synder, Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Doumit.

My first ball came off the bat of Andy LaRoche.  Nick Pelescak and I converged, and in an attempt for the ball, I lost my balance and began to fall forward, but caught myself by bashing the back of my lower leg on the bleacher.  It hurt, but I was able to make the catch.

Daniel McCutchen, aware of the Ballhawk League asked, ‘How many points was that one…”  “Do you get extra if you draw blood?”

In the meantime, I had noticed a ball on the field, directly against the two foot high fence in foul territory in front of the handicapped seats:
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On my way over, I found ball #2 laying in the aisle, and then made my way over to pick up ball #3 off of the track.

Ball #4 was also hit by Andy LaRoche.  He hit a foul ball into the seats down the left field, line.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls ( 2 hit, 1 device, 2 found )
Season:  469 balls (236 hit, 101 thrown, 63 device, 64 found)
Games: 72 games
Average:  6.51 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,048 balls
Streak:  168 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 28,759
Balls in the month of August:  119 (20 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 74

8-20-10 PNC Park

Another sunny day in Pittsburgh got out to a great start thanks to Joel Hanrahan.
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He threw me ball #1 near the beginning of batting practice, and then went on a generous binge of tossing balls to virtually every fan in attendance during the Pirates STH only time.  I believe every ball he shagged was flipped into the bleachers.    As a side note, Hanrahan’s toss to me was my 100th thrown ball of 2010. 

Ball #2 was a home run from Lastings Milledge that hit a bleacher and popped up into the air about 10 feet.  I snagged it when it was on the way back down.

Ball #3 was also a home run hit by Milledge.  It was hit deep over my head, and I had to dive on the concrete underneath this stairway
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls ( 3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found )
Season:  465 balls (234 hit, 101 thrown, 62 device, 62 found)
Balls in the month of August:  114
Games: 71 games
Average:  6.55 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,043 balls
Streak:  167 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 23,695
Balls in the month of August:  114 (25 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 79

8-19-10 PNC Park

Before heading to PNC Park, I stopped off at a baseball field near my house to take some swings.
swing 81910.jpgPanoramic of the field:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls ( 3 hit, 1 thrown )
Season:  458 balls (231 hit, 99 thrown, 61 device, 61 found)
Balls in the month of August:  107
Games: 70 games
Average:  6.54 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,036 balls
Streak:  166 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 15,783

Single Season Record Within Reach?

Through 69 games, I have snagged 453 baseballs.  I’ve been blessed with good fortune this season, and I may have a chance at the single season record of 543 baseballs set by Zack Hample in 2008.

I still have a long way to go.

I will likely attend six or seven more games in August, and probably only ten in September due to coaching obligations. 

I’d like to attend Sunday games, but without batting practice, it’s tough to get a ball, and I’m cautious to jeopardize my consecutive games streak that I have.

There’s also a possibility that I may attend a couple games in October during the last weekend of the season, and maybe a Reds playoff game or two if they can hold off the Cardinals.

So, basically I need 90 balls in 16 games.  That’s 5.6 balls per game – slightly less than my average per game for the 2010 season, but still a challenging number nonetheless.

Other records that I have a slim chance at attaining are games attended, which is 88 – set by Milwaukee’s Happy Youngster in 2000, and balls in one month, which is 138 – set by Zack Hample in August of 2008.

You can read more about Zack Hample and Happy Youngster in their blogs, linked by clicking on their names.

In other news, this blog ranked #9 on mlblogs for the month of July – thank you to everyone that has checked in over the past month.
july leaders.jpg

8-18-10 PNC Park

I got on the board before the gates opened today.

I was standing on the Riverwalk waiting for a home run to land on the concourse, but left around 4:50 to head back up to the gate.  Just as I left, a passerby informed me that I had just missed one.  I turned and saw fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak knee deep in the weeds, frantically searching for a ball. 

I turned around and jogged back and joined in the search.  After a minute, I found the ball in the weeds, for my first ball of the day.
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Upon entrance to the left field bleachers, I noticed a ball land near the foul pole, so I ran over and scooped that one up for ball #2.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls ( 4 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found )
Season:  454 balls (228 hit, 98 thrown, 61 device, 61 found)
Balls in the month of August:  103
Games: 69 games
Average:  6.58 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,032 balls
Streak:  165 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 12,242

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