April 2011

4-25-11 PNC Park

Today was the make up game of Friday’s rained out contest between the Pirates and Nationals.

When the gates opened, I ran in and found my first ball of the day in the front row near the bullpen.
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I only got one other ball during the Pirates portion and it was a home run ball that probably was catchable by myself or Nick, but we both missed it and it bounced back onto the field.  Evan Meek picked it up and tossed it to me for ball #2.

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When the Pirates ran off the field, I got Daniel McCutchen to throw me a ball from center field, but it fell well short.  I was luckily able to glove trick it for ball #3.

I also glove tricked ball #4 in left field when the Nationals were hitting.

My fifth ball of the day was a home run hit by an unknown righty.  I made the clean catch here:
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I then struck up a conversation with ex-Pirate Tom Gorzelanny.  I asked him if he still had all the Dave Matthews Band CDs that I sent him a few years back.  He said yeah and then started talking to me about DMB for a bit.
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During the conversation, a batter hit a line drive that bounced on the warning track.  I snagged it as it skipped off the warning track just to my left without moving or breaking conversation with Gorzelanny. 
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I was planning on asking him for a ball, and that ground rule double had just ruined it.

Anyway, the Nationals weren’t taking much initiative in collecting the balls from the warning track, so I glove tricked ball #7 here in left field,
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and glove tricked #8 in section 141.
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I was then tipped off by ex-ballhawk Andrew McDonald about another ball, and glove tricked that one for #9.
DSC00344.JPGMy tenth ball of the day was thrown in right field by Doug Slaten, who seemingly hooked up every fan on the wall.
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After a few missed opportunities for home runs, I tracked down a Matt Stairs home run for Ball #11 that landed in the second to last row on the wall.
DSC00351.JPGThat was all for batting practice.

During the game, I decided to sit in the club seats because there was virtually no one there.  Many fans stayed home to watch the Penguins game.
425-1.JPGHere’s a view of the field from the club seats:
DSC00354.JPGI had a perfect chance at a foul ball.  The place was virtually empty.
DSC00364.JPGIn the second inning, new Pirate Brandon Wood made his bucco debut. 
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He took the first two pitches he saw.  On the third John Lannan offering, he took a rip.  He fouled the pitch off into the second deck.  I jumped out of my seat immediately and went running throw the row to try and make the catch.

I ran to the end of the next section and made the catch at the end of the row seen here:
DSC00357.JPGIt was ball #12 and my first game ball of the season.

Here’s the catch:
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And showing the ball off:
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Video:

The catch was featured on Sportscenter as a lead in to their top 10 plays.

Anyhow, it rained on and off throughout the rest of the night, so I spent some time between innings in the club level to stay dry.
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DSC00372.JPGHere are today’s baseballs:
100_9038.JPGAnd the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  12 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 5 device, 1 found)
Season:  77 balls (29 hit, 17 thrown, 21 device, 10 found)
Games: 11 games
Average:  7.00 balls per game
Career:  1,199 balls
Attendance: 12,457
2010 through 11 games: 77 balls (0 balls behind last year’s pace)

4-24-11 PNC Park

It was Easter Sunday, so a big crowd wasn’t going to be on hand, which was a bonus.  However, the previous night’s game had ended around 11PM, and since today was a day game, the chances of batting practice were slim.  Add to the fact that it had drizzled all morning, and there was virtually no chance of batting practice whatsoever.

I got to the ballpark at 11:05 AM, just in time to see three Pirates leaving the bullpen after a side session.  Two of the folks at the bullpen fence had baseballs.  I had missed an early opportunity.
424-1.JPGPNC Park makes everyone stay on the Riverwalk for the first 30 minutes on Sundays, so there wasn’t too much to do.  I noticed that someone doesn’t like Andrew McCutchen so much:

I met a couple ballhawks from Ohio.  It was a father and son duo.  They were friendly and snagged several balls of their own throughout the day.

424-2.JPGAt 11:30, I ran over to where the Nationals were playing catch.
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I got Chad Gaudin to toss me a ball near the dugout as he was walking back after completing his pre-game throwing.

I set up behind Sean Burnett throwing with Drew Storen.  I got Sean Burnett to toss me my second ball of the day after they finished up.
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I camped out near a third ball and waited patiently.  I asked a coach for it, and he asked if I’d gotten a ball yet.  Since it was Easter Sunday, I couldn’t lie.  I told him I’d already got one today, but wouldn’t mind another.  He threw the ball to another ballhawk, but I was hoping that it would give me some good karma.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (160).JPGAfter the Nationals were done, I walked around the park to take pictures and look for easter eggs.

Upper Deck:
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Right Field Upper Deck:
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Riverwalk:
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Seating Bowl:
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Looking out towards the Point:
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Abe was in the park, along with the other Nationals mascot Presidents.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (177).JPGOnce the game started, I got Andrew McCutchen’s warm up ball in the first inning,
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and Garrett Jones’ in the fourth.
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That was pretty much it.

A few more random pictures:
Presidents vs Pierogis:
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The Build a Bunny we got for our baby girl:
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The sweatshirt Amy bought me:
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4-23 and 4-24-11 (188).JPGAnd today’s four baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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By the way, afterwards, we colored easter eggs:

STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls (4 thrown)
Season:  65 balls (25 hit, 15 thrown, 16 device, 9 found)
Games: 10 games
Average:  6.50 balls per game
Career:  1,187 balls
Attendance: 9,520
2010 through 10 games: 69 balls (4 balls behind last year’s pace)

4-23-11 PNC Park

Today was a Saturday game, so gates opened at 4:30 rather than 5:00.  I was probably fourth in line or so.  Usually Nick and I play catch on the bridge, but it wasn’t closed off, so I stood and watched two older ballhawks argue about who loves baseball more.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (75).JPGOf course, there would be a threat of rain today, as a cold front passed by dangerously close to Pittsburgh, bringing storms just south of the city.  The wind was howling out to left field, which would hopefully benefit me by pushing fly balls out of the park.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (86).JPGAmy left before the gates opened to go to work on the inside of the stadium, but she took some cool pics.  This is probably my favorite:
4-23 and 4-24-11 (126).JPGWhen the stadium opened, I saw a few balls in left field on the foul line and went over to grab them.
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When I got to the spot, there were three balls there.  One was up against the fence, one was about six feet out, and one was only gettable using the glove trick.  Once I got into the seating area, I noticed Nick running right behind me, and he grabbed the one up against the fencing before I could get to it.  I was able to reach the one six feet out by leaning out over the fence and grabbing it with my glove.  I let the glove trick ball be, as I don’t like using the glove trick while the Pirates are batting.

My second ball was a ground rule double in section 134 that I snagged here:
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That would be all I would get during the Pirates batting practice.  45 minutes.  2 balls.  Poor.

Balls #3 and #4 were glove tricked off of the left field warning track.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (136).JPGMy fifth ball of the day was a home run hit by a Nationals batter.  I was starting to get blocked off by fans, so I took the open row five rows back as I tracked the ball.  It turned out that it was the perfect row and I caught the ball on the fly.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (138).JPGBall #6 was a home run that sailed over my head, hit off the facade of the general admission bleachers and carried back to the lower bleachers.  I out jumped another ballhawk and snagged the ball on the rebound.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (139).JPGMy seventh ball of the day was caught on the fly off the bat of Rick Ankiel in the third row in center field.  This was the view.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (141).JPGAnkiel lofted another fly ball two pitches later than I flat out missed.  It tipped off of my glove.  It was my worst error this year.

At 5:51, the Nationals ran off the field. 
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The was some light rain that was to arrive around 7PM, so the grounds crew wanted to make sure it had over an hour to put the tarp on the field.  It wouldn’t even start drizzling until game time.  That’s our grounds crew for you though.  It cost us about 25 minutes of batting practice.

The game was delayed an hour and eleven minutes by “rain.” 
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It actually was barely raining.  It was a little mist that terrified the grounds crew.  You can tell it was barely raining in the photo above by the amount of fans seated in the outfield sections.  If it was raining, they wouldn’t be there.

What a frustrating day.  I missed at least five balls including a game home run.  This was by far the worst ballhawking day of the year for me.

Here are today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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By the way, I injured myself after batting practice.  I had a huge bag and I filled it with 59 Andrew McCutchen Action Figurines, 59 First Pitch Magazines, and 59 Scratch and Win Cards.
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The bag was filled to the brim, so I had to carry it in front of me almost a mile to my car.  I couldn’t sling it over my shoulder.  Anyway, I ended up hurting my back, and having back spasms the rest of the night.  I couldn’t even run or jog.

The weight of the bag was about sixty pounds.  Carrying it out in front of me with my arms straight forward was definitely a work out. 
4-23 and 4-24-11 (196).JPGSTATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (4 hit, 2 device, 1 found)
Season:  61 balls (25 hit, 11 thrown, 16 device, 9 found)
Games: 9 games
Average:  6.78 balls per game
Career:  1,183 balls
Attendance: 18,262

4-22-11 PNC Park, Rained Out

There was an 80% chance of rain forecast for today, and sure enough it rained all day long.

Being the first game of a homestand, Amy and I went to the game.

When we parked at 4:15, it was raining.  When we got to the gate, it was still raining.  We took cover under one of the overhangs.
DSC00073.JPGIt was still dreary and drizzling as 5pm approached,
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and I took a few minutes to familiarize myself better with the Nationals pitchers in case any of them were out throwing or in the bullpen.
DSC00080.JPGAt about 4:53, we got into line, and everything looked normal.  The ticket scanners and giveaway hander-outers were all in place.
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However, 5PM rolled on by, and the supervisor was no where to be found to open the gates. 

About 5 minutes later he appeared and said, “The game’s cancelled.  It’ll be made up Monday at 7:05.”
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4-21-11 (28).JPGIt wasn’t a total wash though, I was able to trade in some tickets at the box office.

Also, rather than get no batting practice, now there is a chance to get an extra BP in for the Monday game, so it’s not all bad.

The weather is looking pretty bad for Pittsburgh the next three days though.  Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates.

Pirates M&Ms

I came home Thursday from work and found this waiting for me.
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It was Amy and my seven month anniversary.
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DSC00047.JPGShe surprises me every month with great presents.

This month:
DSC00055.JPGShe got me Pirates M&Ms and a Pirates gumball machine/candy machine.
DSC00057.JPGThe M&Ms had Pirates logos on them:
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Here’s what they looked like once in the machine.
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For each turn, the machine dispenses about five M&Ms.

Afterwards, we headed out to eat for dinner at Houlihan’s.

Sonogram!

Amy and I went to the doctor on Monday afternoon to find out the sex of our baby.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen as the best they could do was to order a sonogram.  Luckily, Amy’s check up went great and she’s very healthy and all signs are normal.  We listened to the baby’s heart beat.  It was 160 beats per minute, which is normal.  Amy seemed to know then that it was a girl, as she has become quite the expert on babies, educating herself all day long while I’m at work.

Anyway, the next day we went to the doctor’s at 8 AM to have the sonogram. 

We watched on the screen as we saw our baby’s head, nose, ears, mouth, chest, beating heart, legs, hands, feet.  It was pretty amazing. 

Amy noticed that the baby was sleeping the way I do, with its hand over its eyes.  I developed the habit in college, shielding my eyes from the light of my roommates computer, as I need complete darkness to sleep.  Usually, I just put a pillow over the top of my head, but anyhow.  She said that the baby is taking after me already.

Amy also thought that the baby had my profile, and she said it definitely has my long legs.

Amy’s brothers are both very tall – 6’4, and I’m 6’4″ and so is my brother, so this little girl of ours may not be so little.  I’m seeing a star volleyball or basketball player in the future.

Here’s one of the sonograms:
olivia1.jpgYou can see her chest in the lower left, and her head is profiled in the center of the sonogram.  The little line above her eyes and nose is her arm and hand across her forehead. 

She weighs 1 pound 8 ounces right now.  The baby is 24 weeks old, so 1 pound 2 ounces is the norm.  She’s six ounces heavy.  She does have my genes.  My brother was 10 pounds, and I was 9 pound 8 ounces or something like that.

And another that’s pretty similar:
olivia2.jpgShe’s been pretty active, kicking a lot, ready to come out and meet her Daddy. 

Amy says that she kicks a lot when I leave for work because she misses me.  She also kicks a lot when she’s hungry. 

Anyway, I thought I’d share that with you all.

In ballhawking, I cancelled plans for road trips this weekend, as I could find no other ballhawks to come with me and split the cost of the trip.  With gas prices raising and a little one on the way, I have to scale back a bit on the road trips unless I team up with someone to go.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the name….

We’re favoring calling her Olivia.

4-14-11 PNC Park

Unfortunately, I lost half of my pictures from the beginning of batting practice due to a malfunction of my camera.  I must’ve left it on in my pocket, and when I went to take a picture half way through batting practice, it was in Chinese.  The format option must’ve been pressed, and everything got erased from my camera. 

So, ball #1 was a home run hit by Ryan Braun to the handicapped seats in left field.  I jumped over a railing and picked it up for my first ball of the day.

My second ball was snagged in the ivy in center field.
4-14-11 (14).JPGRyan Braun hit it there about 5:20, and I kept my eye on it the whole time, thinking it might be reachable.  It was, and at 5:30 when the rest of the stadium opened, I ran over and grabbed it.

My third ball was pointed out to me by one of the ushers in center field.  Both ushers in center field are really cool guys. 

Ball #4 was fielded off the bat of Craig Counsell.  I decided to head over to foul territory for a bit as there were three weak left handers up, and there was no screen protecting third base.  I figured that they would try to go the other way a few times.  The strategy paid off, as Counsell sliced a grounder right at me.
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Ball #5 was a ground rule double off the bat of Wil Nieves.  I chased it down and grabbed it with my barehand as the ball was rolling all over the place under the bleachers:
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That was it for batting practice.  Five baseballs.  It was pretty disappointing, but the Brewers were focusing on a opposite field approach, perhaps expecting Paul Maholm to work them outside all night.

As for the game itself, I wandered around and took a picture from the upper deck during pregame.
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Then I sat in the club section for a couple innings waiting for a foul ball that wouldn’t come.
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I then returned to the outfield areas hoping to snag a warm up ball.

I would get Andrew McCutchen’s 7th inning warm up ball here.
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It was my first McCutchen warm up ball of the year.

An inning later, I snagged Jose Tabata’s 8th inning warm up ball for ball #7.
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The ball was bobbled by these college aged kids in the front row. 
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I seized the opportunity by snatching it with my glove as it was being dropped by one of them.

Here are today’s baseballs:
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And the sweet spots:
4-14-11 (29).JPGSTATISTICS:

Game:  7 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  54 balls (21 hit, 11 thrown, 14 device, 8 found)
Games: 8 games
Average:  6.75 balls per game
Career:  1,176 balls
Attendance: 10,517

4-13-11 PNC Park

I got to the ballpark around 4:45 pm, and this was the scene at the Riverwalk.
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The stairs leading down were blocked off with caution tape because the Allegheny River was overflowing.  However, I went down anyway.  One ball bounced out as I arrived.  Had I been five seconds earlier I would’ve had it, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Here’s a different angle:
DSC01309.JPGMy first ball of the day once the stadium opened was snagged here.  It was a home run that I chased down here:
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The Pirates batting practice continues to be less than stellar, as they fail to reach the seats very often.  Once the Pirates were done hitting, I changed into my Brewers gear, and the action began.

The Brewers first group contained Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, and Prince Fielder.  They hit a bunch of homers.

I snagged my second ball in section 134 off the bat Jonathan Lucroy.
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My third ball was a home run hit by Ryan Braun.  I could tell that it was going to be way over my head, so I ran back under the bleachers and snagged it under the rotunda.
DSC01313.JPGMy fourth ball was glove tricked right next to the Pirates bullpen door.
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I also saw this there:
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However, it was 5:28, and I had knocked it snug against the wall and couldn’t see it anymore, as I couldn’t lean out over the wall because of the fencing.  I gave up and let it go.  Totally forgetting about it.

I checked in right field for an easter egg or two, but there was nothing there, and I didn’t want to miss out on all the action in left field, so I returned to left.  The second group also put plenty of balls into the seat.

Rickie Weeks hit a home run ball that I chased down under the rotunda for ball #5.  And moments later, a batter that I believe was Casey McGehee hit a home run that also went under the rotunda which I tracked down.

Ball #7 of the day was a ground rule double hit by Weeks that I snagged here. 
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It was a hard hit line drive that skipped over the wall quickly, but I was able to stay with it to make the catch.

My eighth ball was a glove trick ball snagged right by the 325 sign:
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That was it for batting practice.   After batting practice, Nick tipped me off to a ball in the bullpen.  It was the same ball that I started working on at 5:28 that I had knocked against the wall.  I had totally forgotten about it.

Nick assisted me by going to the second deck of bleachers to guide me to the ball.  Remember, I couldn’t see it, because there’s a fence there, so I couldn’t see the ball below at all.  I was able to knock the ball away from the wall, and with my arm through the fence, was able to glove trick it.
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Thanks to Ian Weir for taking the picture.

Ball #10 came around 6:55 when Kevin Correia, the Pirates started finished his warm ups in the bullpen.  I asked politely for the ball, and he looked up and tossed it to me.
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Moments later, Ball #11 came from Jose Tabata in the first inning.  I noticed he was looking at a group of college aged folks, so I went and stood directly to their right.  Since I was the only one with the glove, he fired me a perfect strike.  He put some zip on the throw too. 
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Notice how small the crowd was at game time.  There was a Penguins playoff game, and I doubt that half of the 8,000 fans that bought tickets actually showed up.
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Remember those Allegheny River pictures from 4:45 pm?  The river was rising:
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Pretty cool huh?
DSC01327.JPGWell, despite the small crowds, I didn’t snag another ball.
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Here are today’s 11 baseballs:
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And the sweet spots.
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Notice that the Brewers weren’t writing those funny phrases on their baseballs like last year.  Disappointing.

STATISTICS:

Game:  11 balls (6 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device)
Season:  47 balls (17 hit, 9 thrown, 14 device, 7 found)
Games: 7 games
Average:  6.70 balls per game
Career:  1,169 balls
Attendance: 8,755

4-13-11 Fox News

I was interviewed on Fox News regarding the Youtube video that I filmed on Saturday.

Around 9:15 AM, a limo picked me up at work.  Amy came along too to share in the experience.  Here I am, in the limo, feeling a bit nervous.
DSC01282.JPGI would be live to the entire nation in about a half hour. 

We arrived at the downtown Fox News Pittsburgh studio and were told where to go.

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When we entered the studio, there was a fake background, a TV camera, a bunch of lights, a camera man, and a producer waiting for me.  We talked for a moment about what I’d be discussing, and then I had a seat and got mic’d up.
DSC01291.JPGI also got an earpiece put in my right ear, as the camera man told me how to work the volume.
DSC01296.JPGI couldn’t hear the producer from New York very well, so I jammed my earpiece in, and turned up the volume as high as it would go.
DSC01297.JPGAfter one final adjustment to my microphone, we would be ready to go.
DSC01299.JPGAmy sat to my side, just off camera.  It was nice to have her there.  It made me feel less nervous to have some support.
DSC01302.JPGThe interview itself was a blur.  The producer told me to animated and energetic.  He told me to pretend like I just had lots of caffeine. 

Martha MacCallum from America’s Newsroom interviewed me live on the air.  Fox News showed the video, and then Martha began interviewing me.  She basically asked me what I saw and what led up to the tasering and beating of the man in the USA Jacket.  It seemed like the interview was over rather quickly.  Overall, I was pleased with how it went.
DSC01304.JPGAfterwards, Amy and I were taken back to my work by the limo.

If you’d like to see the full interview, click HERE

4-10-11 PNC Park

Some of you have come across my blog today from the sensational youtube video that I took.  If you’re looking for that game entry, click this LINK.

I uploaded that video last night before I went to bed, thinking that some of the regulars from my blog would get a kick out of it.  When I woke up in the morning, the video had 533 views.  I then left for the game.  (When I returned from the game, it had 26,000)

Throughout the day, I received numerous emails.  We’re talking about one every minute or so, from youtubers leaving comments.   Around 10:30am, I received an interview request from KDKA-TV.  A bit later, WPXI channel 11 contacted me. 

My first instinct was to decline the interviews, but the producers had said that many people were bashing the police, and they were sure that the Pirates and Pittsburgh Police would like me to say something.  I gave a TV interview to WPXI TV and KDKA on camera.  I wasn’t crazy with the result.  The interview was heavily edited and didn’t include any of the positive things I said about PNC Park ushers, security guards, and Pittsburgh Police.

I heavily criticized the man in the USA Jacket, calling the police action justified, and talked about how I was tired of all the fair weather baseball fans that came out for only fireworks, bobbleheads, and concerts.  I blamed the drunks for ruining the game experience for the true baseball fans.  I talked about how a fan like that has no place in PNC Park especially around little kids.

Of course, TV used snippets like, “I’d like to see what started it, etc.”

Anyhow, my blog has received over 11,000 hits today as of 9pm, and the youtube video has gone viral, amassing hundreds of thousands of views within the last two days.

Today, I did brief interviews or talked on the phone with msnbc.com, the Today show, Fox News, CNN, The Tribune Review, the CBS network, and several radio stations.  Most of them wanted permission to use my video and how to credit me.  I just asked that my blog be listed as the source, and not to use my name.

Anyway, as of 9pm, the video had 211,000 views and 1,292 comments.  Craziness.

I’d just like to say that PNC Park security had nothing to do with the arrest of the man, and they were trying to keep all fans safe by keeping them away from the maniac. 

On to the ballhawking that took place on Sunday.

I arrived 2 minutes before the gates opened and snagged my first ball of the day from Chris Resop in the bullpen as soon as I entered the park.

My second snag of the day was just behind the trash can in this picture.
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PNC Park opens the Riverwalk 30 minutes before the rest of the gates, but fans can’t access the stadium.  Not only season ticket holders.  So, all fans are confined to the outfield concourse/walkway.  Luckily, the Pirates were taking batting practice, and left handed power hitter Pedro Alvarez was up. 

He hit a home run that cleared the seats, and the blue gate.  Nick and I both were in position, and I was closer the gate, and he was a foot or two behind me.  I did a full extension leap to make the catch on the fly in the air.  It was easily my best catch of the year.

Nothing else happened as we all awaited 450 foot home runs. 
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One other ball did bounce out of the stadium far to my right, but I was beaten to it by a passerby who had a look-what-I-found moment.

Just before the stadium gates opened so that we could enter the general seating area, I watched an EMS guy pocket at least two baseballs.

Once the stadium opened, knowing that the left field bleachers had been pillaged, I headed over to foul territory.

This was waiting for me.
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Ball #3.

The Pirates batting practice was slow again, with very few home runs being hit.

I was lined up to make an easy catch, when the guy in the Colorado hat reached up with his bare hand at the last second to try to catch the ball that I had measured up. 
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His hand crashed into my glove and the ball fell onto the field.  He apologized.  I was a little annoyed, but it didn’t matter.  The ball was right below me, so I glove tricked it easily for ball #4.

Since Ty Wigginton is absolutely the laziest batting practice shagger I have ever seen, there were plenty of glove trick opportunities. 
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I glove tricked balls #5 and #6 off of the warning track.

One of them turned out to be a Salt River Fields Commemorative Ball, the third such one I had snagged in this series.
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My seventh ball of the day was this gem hiding in the bushes.
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I used a six foot long pole to dislodge the ball from the ivy, then I reached in and grabbed it.

I spent most of batting practice in center field,
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but nothing else happened, so I ended up with seven baseballs.  Not too shabby at all for a Sunday!

As for the game, the Pirates lost, and I spent most of the day in the left field bleachers.
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No, no tasings today folks.

After the game, I was interviewed.  Busy day.
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Here are today’s baseballs:
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and the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:

Game:  7 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 4 device, 1 found)
Season:  36 balls (11 hit, 7 thrown, 11 device, 7 found)
Games: 6 games
Average:  6.00 balls per game
Career:  1,158 balls
Attendance: 18,043

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