May 2011

Gate Opening Times Resource

I recently did some research into gate opening times for a few different parks that I wanted to visit in 2011.  I figured it might be a helpful resource to post the gate opening times for all 30 MLB ballparks.  Some teams, such as Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati let season ticket holders in before the general public.  If you see any changes or information that needs added, please leave a comment.

 

All information was taken from the A-Z guides from each team’s webpage.

 

2011 GATE OPENING TIMES:

Arizona Diamondbacks – Chase Field

Chase Field opens one and a half (1.5) hours before each game Monday through Thursday and two (2) hours before each weekend game.

 

Atlanta Braves – Turner Field

Main gates (Plaza, Museum & Guest Relations gates): 2.5 hours prior to game time

Bowl Seating gates: 2 hours prior to game time

 

*Baltimore Orioles – Camden Yards

For all Orioles home games, Gates A and H (at either end of Eutaw Street) will open 2 hours prior to game time to allow fans to enter the park. At this time, fans can watch batting practice from Eutaw Street, the Eutaw Street Bleachers, and the Flag Court. The Bud Light Warehouse Bar also opens at this time. All other gates will open 1 ½ hours prior to game time, and at this point all fans may enter the seating bowl.  *Season Ticket holders may enter the main seating bowl at 5PM, entrance point is at the right field foul pole.

 

Boston Red Sox – Fenway Park

The ballpark opens two hours (120 minutes) before game start time.

 

Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field

The gates of Wrigley Field will open two hours prior to each game time unless otherwise announced.

 

Chicago White Sox – US Cellular Field

The U.S. Cellular Field gates open 90 minutes prior to game time, unless otherwise noted. On Kids Days, the gates will open two (2) hours prior to game time.

 

*Cincinnati Reds – Great American Ballpark

Gates open 90 minutes prior to game time. Gate opening times may vary if a game is rescheduled.  *Season Ticket holders will be admitted at the Joe Nuxhall Gate 2 hours before the game.
Cleveland Indians – Progressive Field

For all night games at Progressive Field (Monday – Saturday), Gate C will open at 4:30 p.m. to allow fans access to the Market Pavilion, Heritage Park and the Right Field Lower Reserved seats until 6:00 p.m. This will enable fans to watch the Indians take Batting Practice, as well as time to enjoy Heritage Park in the center field area. At 6:00 p.m. ALL gates will open. For 1:05 p.m. day games, all gates will open at 11:30 a.m. For all 12:05 p.m. day games, gates will open at 11 a.m.

 

Colorado Rockies – Coors Field

Guests are encouraged to come early and watch batting practice, infield workouts and pregame ceremonies. Gates A (Rockpile entrance) and E will open 2 hours prior to game time for Guests who want to view batting practice. Guests will be required to stay in the Left Field Pavilion area until the remaining ballpark gates open. Gates B, C and D will open 1 1/2 hours prior to game time. Gate opening times may vary if game is rescheduled.

 

Detroit Tigers – Comerica Park

The gates to Comerica Park open approximately 1-1/2 hours prior to the scheduled game time unless otherwise advertised. Guests are invited to arrive early and watch batting and infield practice, enjoy rides on the Fly Ball Ferris Wheel and Carousel, historical displays, the food offerings in the Comerica Bank Big Cat Court and FOX Sports Detroit Brushfire Grill, as well as the pre-game ceremonies.

 

Florida Marlins – Sun Life Stadium

For all Sunday – Friday homes games, Gate H and G open 90 minutes prior to first pitch and Gate F opens 60 minutes prior to first pitch. For all Saturday home games, all gates open 90 minutes prior to first pitch.

 

Houston Astros – Minute Maid Park

The gates of Minute Maid Park will open two hours prior to game time on Saturday and 1.5 hours prior to game time on Sunday – Friday, allowing fans ample time to enjoy the ballpark, locate seats and satisfy cravings at the many concession stands

 

Kansas City Royals – Kauffman Stadium

All gates will open 1.5 hours prior to game Fri – Sun and 1 hour prior to game Mon- Thurs. Gate E will open 1 1/2 prior to game on Wednesdays for Student Night..

 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Angel Stadium

There are six gates available to all fans coming to the ballpark. The gates open 90 minutes prior to the start of the scheduled first pitch. The Home Plate Gate opens two hours early, except on Sunday games, it will open 90 minutes prior to the game.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers – Dodger Stadium

Third base side Field & Loge Level and Left Pavilion gates open 2 hours prior to the start of the game. All other gates open 1 1/2 hours prior to the first pitch. All parking gates open 2 hours prior to the start of each game. Gate times may vary for special events such as Opening Day and the Postseason.

 

Milwaukee Brewers – Miller Park

Gates will open 2 hours prior to game start for all Marquee games. In April, May and September, Miller Park gates will open 90 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the non-Marquee games, 7 days a week. In June, July and August, gates will open 90 minutes prior to the scheduled start of non-Marquee games Monday – Friday, and 2 hours prior on Saturdays and Sundays.

 

Minnesota Twins – Target Field

Target Field gates open for admittance 1 ½ hours prior to the first pitch for Monday through Thursday games, and 2 hours prior to the first pitch for Friday through Sunday games. There are five gate entrances at Target Field, each on the Main Level.

 

New York Mets – Citi Field

Monday-Friday/Weekday Games – Rotunda and Hodges VIP Entrance open 2 hours before the game. All other gates 1 1/2 hours prior to the game.

Saturday & Sunday Games – Rotunda and Hodges VIP Entrance open 2 hours before the game. All other gates 1 1/2 hours prior to the game. Rotunda opens 2 1/2 hours before the game for Mets Season Ticket Holders.

Subway Series Friday, July 1 – Sunday, July 3 – All gates open 2 1/2 hours before the game.

 

New York Yankees – Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium gates open two hours prior to the scheduled start of every home game. Please note that gate openings are subject to change during inclement weather and for special events, doubleheaders, Opening Day and postseason play.

 

Oakland Athletics – The Coliseum
Monday – Friday games: Stadium gates open one and a half (1.5) hours prior to scheduled start of the game.

Saturday & Sunday games: Stadium gates open two (2) hours prior to scheduled start of the game.

 

Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Bank Park

Regular Season – Monday through Friday: 1 1/2 hours prior to game time. Saturday/Sunday: 2 hours prior to game time. Ashburn Alley (Left Field Gate) opens every day 2 1/2 hours prior to game time.

 

*Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC Park

Gates open one and one half hours (1 1/2) prior to game time (Monday through Sunday) and two hours on Opening Day. The Riverwalk will open two (2) hours before weekday (Monday-Friday) games and two and one half hours (2 1/2) prior to weekend (Saturday-Sunday) games.  *Season ticket holders may enter left field 2 hours early Mon-Fri and 2.5 hours early on Saturday.

 

*San Diego Padres – Petco Park

Many ballpark gates open for admittance one and one-half (1 1/2) hours prior to the first pitch for Monday through Thursday games, and two (2) hours before the first pitch for Friday through Sunday games. The Park at the Park opens two and one-half (2 1/2) hours prior to the first pitch and allow guest access to the Park at the Park and the Padres Power Alley.

*Season Ticket Holders have special pre-game access to batting practice in the ballpark through the Park Boulevard Gate.

 

San Francisco Giants – AT&T Park

Gates open two hours prior to game time during the regular season.

 

Seattle Mariners – Safeco Field

All gates open two hours prior to game time.

 

St. Louis Cardinals – Busch Stadium

Stadium gates generally open 2 hours before game time.

 

Tampa Bay Rays – Tropicana Field

Monday-Thursday Games = Gates open 1 1/2 hours prior to game time
Friday-Sunday Games = Gates open 2 hours prior to game time

 

Texas Rangers – Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

First and Third Base Gates open two hours prior to game time for night games and one and one-half hours prior to game time for afternoon games. Home Plate and Center Field Gates at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington open one and one-half hours prior to game time for all games.

 

Toronto Blue Jays – Rogers Centre

Guests can enter the stadium 90 minutes before the first pitch on any weekday home game. On Saturday and Sunday home games, the gates to Rogers Centre open 2 hours prior to game-time.

 

Washington Nationals – Nationals Park

or all Nationals home games, the Center Field Gate will open 2 1/2 hours prior to first pitch. At this time, guests will have access to the Red Porch, Exxon Strike Zone, select center field sections to watch batting practice and concession stands. All other gates will open 1 1/2 hours prior to first pitch.

 

So, here’s a quick at a glance look at how the different ballparks open on WEEKDAYS, since some teams open a little earlier on weekends:

2.5 Hours Early (5 teams):

Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Diego, Washington
2 Hours Early (14 teams)

Baltimore, Boston, Chicago Cubs, Colorado, LA Angels, LA Dodgers, Milwaukee, Minnesota, NY Mets, NY Yankees, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis, Texas

 

1.5 Hours Early (10 teams)

Arizona, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, Detroit, Florida, Houston, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto

 

1 Hour Early (1 team)
Kansas City

5-24-11 PNC Park

My day began around 4:30 PM on the Riverwalk.  I snagged my first ball of the day here:

I saw the ball, ran up to where I thought it was going to bounce out, and knocked it down to keep it in the grass.  After a few seconds of searching, I saw it at my feet and grabbed it to get on theboard.

I had a chance at another ball that landed in the river, and tried my new water device, but the ball sank within 30 seconds, so I didn’t snag it.

Amy was along with me and took some great pictures, like this one:

I didn’t snag that ball.

Another great pic.  This time, of Nick getting robbed by a random fan in the front row:

Nick, Ian and I rushing after a ball that landed under the rotunda:

After the Pirates hit, Herbie Andrade the bullpen catcher threw me a ball, for my second of the day:

I snagged my third ball of the day over by the bullpen.  It was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence.

Wouldn’t you know it?  It was an Angels 50th anniversary commemorative baseball:

At 5:30, I ran over to center field,

and found my fourth ball of the day about six rows back.

I stayed in center field for awhile, but nothing much was happening there.

For the final group, I headed back over to left field, where I snagged a home run that took a crazy bounce off of a railing a section away and right to me.

My sixth and final ball of the day was snagged via the glove trick in center field.

We left immediately after batting practice and spent the evening looking for houses as we are looking for a nice house to our home.

A one bedroom apartment just won’t cut it for our growing family.  We’re looking for a nice house where we can live for the next 20 or so years.

I’ve only attended five away games so far – last year it was 29.  I’ve become more about spending money wisely recently, so my ballhawking trips won’t be happening unless there is someone to split the costs with me.

Anyway, here are today’s baseballs:

And the sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season:  162 balls (63 hit, 37 thrown, 38 device, 23 found)
Games: 26 games
Average:  6.23 balls per game
Career:  1,284 balls
Attendance: 16,873

5-22-11 PNC Park

I wasn’t planning on attending this game.  I was expecting to drop Amy off at work, and then go home to package up all of the bobbleheads that I had sold.  Making batting practice more unlikely was the fact that it started to rain at 10:30 AM, a half hour before the gates were to open.

I could see the tarp on the field from the center field (Stargell statue) gate.  I thought about leaving, but I thought I noticed that the screens were out on the field in foul territory.

utside the stadium, there were plenty of festivities, including the March of Dimes finish line, right outside the left field gate.

I decided to walk up the Roberto Clemente bridge a little way to get a better look inside the stadium.  I saw the tarp still on the field, but the cage was up.

Obviously, I decided to stick around.

Amy and I stood on the bridge where we had gotten engaged on Valentine’s Day and took in the scenery, and talked until it was time for me to go into the stadium and her to go to work

When I entered the stadium, my first ball of the day came from Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton by the bullpen.

When Morton had finished throwing, I called out for his warm up ball.  A few seconds later, he tossed a ball up, which I caught.  A thirteen year old in front of me was none too pleased, but I hadn’t heard him ask for it.  I was going to give it to him until his dad started b*******.  He got a ball a minute later anyhow.

The whole stadium opened at 11:30AM, and there was still no action.  The tarp had at least been taken off the field, so I walked around the lower level looking for easter eggs, but predictably, there were none.

The Tigers trickled out to loosen up a bit later.  I asked two of the coaches for a ball, but was ignored.  Here’s ex Pirate manager Jim Leyland:

When the Tigers began hitting, I used the glove trick to snag ball #2 here:

And, I used it to snag balls #3 and #4  by the foul pole, as both balls had rolled there within 15 seconds of each other.

Since I was having good luck with the glove trick, I invited Jim to glove trick a ball on the warning track that I could’ve had.  I figured I’d repay the favor for him laying off on a Miguel Cabrera home run catch yesterday.

I made my way over to center field near the end of the Tigers BP and glove tricked a ball off of the warning track.  Originally, the ball bounced on the warning track, and I misplayed it.  The ball hit my glove and fell back onto the field.  There was a little girl right next to me, so when I glove tricked the ball, I turned and handed it to her.

My sixth ball of the day was an Andy Dirks home run that landed two rows behind me.  I hopped over a row and grabbed it

Batting practice ended at 12:15 PM, (The Tigers didn’t take a full BP, they only hit for about 30 minutes) so there was an hour and fifteen minutes until the game was to begin.

I left the game, and went to a nearby park to read my Sunday Papers – the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Tribune Review.  I also bought a ‘water-ice’ drink, which was perfect on this hot sunny day.

I returned to the game, but was met with bad luck.  Garrett Jones tossed his warm up ball to me in the 4th inning, but this guy in the white shirt interfered.  The ball was glanced by his arm, hit my glove, and bounced below where a random fan grabbed it.

Basically the same thing happened in the fifth inning, when McCutchen threw his warm up ball to me.  I was awaiting the catch in the handicapped section in center field when a guy jumped out of his seat and intercepted it.

Here are today’s baseballs: (Five pictured because one was given away)

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 4 device)
Season:  156 balls (60 hit, 36 thrown, 37 device, 22 found)
Games: 25 games
Average:  6.24 balls per game
Career:  1,278 balls
Attendance: 25.124

5-21-11 PNC Park

Today was Amy and my 8 month anniversary, and we packed in a full day’s worth of activities.  We started by going around to garage sales and buying lots of clothes for our daughter.  There were some pretty nice things that we found that looked ‘like-new.’

Today was also Neil Walker bobblehead day, so a sellout crowd of 38,000 would be on hand.  Therefore, it was important to get on the board early.  When I ran into the left field bleachers, I found ball #1 laying in the front row in this area.

The Pirates BP was pretty tame, not too many home runs.

There weren’t many opportunities for toss up balls either, every request went ignored.

My second ball of the day was a long home run hit by an unknown Pirates batter.
Here Nick and I are racing for it.

Nick had the lead, but we both took a wrong route to the ball.  Since it wasn’t at the bottom of the rotunda, I figured it was on the rotunda.  I raced up and was correct.  It was sitting on the rotunda, waiting to be claimed.  Amy got this shot of us returning from the chase.

My third ball of the day was a clean catch in the front row of section 134.  I had to reach out over the wall and make the catch as there was some pressure put on me from the side.  I reached out and swiped at the ball and luckily made the catch.

Here I am just a moment after making the grab:

It was a particular sunny day, and I lost two balls in the sun.  One would’ve been an easy grab, and it zipped by my head.  The other I would’ve made on a cloudy day.  That’s one of the negatives of PNC Park.  Left field is the sun field, so folks in left get blinded by the sun, especially on fly balls.

I had another close call on a home run that was about two rows over my head.  The guy in the white jersey reached out and caught it right in front of Nick:

I then changed into my Tigers gear, but it wouldn’t matter much since it got so crowded around 5PM.

Check out the crowd:

That’s the downfall of PNC Park’s bleachers.  There’s not much room when it gets crowded.  There’s about six rows in the bleachers, and they get packed, severaly limiting a ballhawk’s range.

I did get ball #4 with the glove trick in left field before heading over to center field.

In center field I glove tricked ball #5 here:

Also, while in center field, I caught an opposite field Miguel Cabrera home run ball in the third row here:

The guy in the red shirt, who’s usually aggressive, backed off and let me make the catch.  I appreciated it, as I probably would’ve missed it had he tried for it.  It was a ball I had to reach high and to my left to catch, as it was slicing back towards right field.

My seventh and final ball came at the conclusion of BP.  The Tigers left a ball on the warning track in left field, so I went over and glove tricked it for my seventh ball of the day.

After BP, I went to turn in 54 tickets for Neil Walker bobbleheads.  I traded in a bunch of my season tickets so I could turn a profit on the bobbleheads.  I made the mistake of pulling out the tickets and counting how many I had.  As soon as I did, I was surrounded by people waving twenty dollar bills at me, offering to buy my tickets.  The game was sold out, so there was nothing left at the box office.  I relented and sold twenty of the tickets within 5 minutes.    So, I went back to my car with a pocket overflowing with cash and 34 bobbleheads.  Amy and I headed home to spend the rest of the evening baseball free.

Here are today’s baseballs:

And the sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (3 hit, 3 device, 1 found)
Season:  150 balls (59 hit, 35 thrown, 33 device, 22 found)
Games: 24 games
Average:  6.25 balls per game
Career:  1,272 balls
Attendance: 37,958

5-20-11 PNC Park

Batting practice today was rough for me.  The Tigers were in town for an interleague matchup, which would lead to larger crowds.  During the Pirates batting practice, I ended up doing this for much of the time:

Standing around.

And more standing around.

I would not catch a single batted ball or get any balls thrown to me from the Pirates pitchers.

The few chances I did have were on scrum balls, where I just came up short.

On that last one, I bashed my knee off of the bleacher, and it all ended up being for naught.

I slowed down a bit after that, trying to be more careful, especially because Amy was at the game with me.  She hates to see me get hurt, and I didn’t want to upset her.

I didn’t get a single ball during the Pirates batting practice, so I changed into my Tigers gear, hoping maybe to at least have a ball tossed to me.

However, luck continued to elude me.  Here’s a home run ball that would be caught by a child in the front row.

When a ball finally rolled to the wall, I noticed that the Tigers pitchers could care less about it.

So I set up my glove trick and snagged it.

It was my first ball of the day, and it was about 5:25PM.  A few minutes later, the rest of the stadium would open, and I had been keeping tabs on a ball that was sliced into the seats down the left field line.  The only problem was, there was a bunch of other folks waiting to get the green light to run up the stairs to the ball.  The people I was up against had the advantage of running up escalators, while I chose to go with the steps in the middle, which meant I’d have to run twice as fast as them.  I ended up being the first person to the top of the stairs to reach the main level, and raced down to the lower level, where I found ball #2 waiting for me.

Here’s a shot that Amy took a few seconds after I had snagged ball #2

It just wasn’t my day today, and I knew it.

I wouldn’t snag another ball for the rest of batting practice.

I headed over to center field for the last group, while Amy stayed in left and took this really cool panorama:

After batting practice ended, the Tigers left a ball on the warning track.  They had run off the field, so I set up my glove trick:

Lowered it over the ball,

And pulled it in (after a couple readjustments with the rubber band)

Here are today’s baseballs:

And the sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (2 device, 1 found)
Season:  143 balls (56 hit, 35 thrown, 30 device, 21 found)
Games: 23 games
Average:  6.22 balls per game
Career:  1,265 balls
Attendance: 24,396

5-15-11 Miller Park

Today’s game began at 1:10 PM, meaning the gates would open at 11:40 pm.  However, I was hoping to get in early at Friday’s, so we arrived at the stadium around 10:30 AM.

It proved to be a mistake, because the Friday’s early entrance doesn’t open until 11AM.  Amy and I were forced to stand in 40 degree temps with wind gusts of up to 50 mph for a half hour.  It was brutal cold.  Brutal.

Once we got inside, we walked around the left field concourse, and I took a few photos.  One of the escalator to the 200 level,

and another of a Walls of Honor section:

We were chased from the concourse by a cranky security supervisor who made us go to Friday’s, but failed to say anything to the other couples who were loitering around.

It didn’t really matter much, because the Brewers failed to take batting practice today.

When the gates opened, I ran through the narrow concourse behind the batters eye to the right field bleachers.

There, Ryan Doumit would toss me ball #1 of the day.

Doumit’s first throw was well short, and fell into the bullpen.  He tried again, but over shot me by 10 feet, and the ball hit a bleacher and bounced back onto the field.  His third try was right on the money though.  I definitely appreciated Doumit’s patience and willingness to make sure he hooked me up.

I decided just to stay in right field the entire day.   The view to my left:

My second ball of the day was a clean home run catch of a Garrett Jones home run ball.

Here I am holding up the ball for Amy to see.

The Pirates were hitting some home runs, but not very many into the seating areas.

My third and final ball of the day would be glove tricked from the Pirates bullpen.  I set up my glove trick,

Lowered the glove,

And reeled in ball #3 of the day

There wasn’t much action for the rest of batting practice, but at least I had Amy nearby to keep me in good spirits.

We left right after batting practice to go home.  The worst part of the day was walking back to the car in the biting cold, and being trapped in the lot.

Everyone was tailgating and blocking the aisles, and all of the exits were roped off.  The only way off was the one entryway where cars were streaming in.  Eventually we were let out.   We didn’t get home until 11:58 PM, as it was a ten hour drive back.  Amy helped make the drive back fun though, and it went fast.

Thanks for everything baby.  I love you!

Here are today’s baseballs:

And the sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device,)
Season:  140 balls (56 hit, 35 thrown, 28 device, 20 found)
Games: 22 games
Average:  6.36 balls per game
Career:  1,262 balls
Attendance: 37,059

*Last year on May 15th I had snagged 115 baseballs through 16 games, so I am a bit ahead of last year’s record year, despite the poor weather we’ve had.

5-14-11 Miller Park

After a brief stay near Notre Dame in Indian, Amy and I continued our weekend trip through Illinois and Chicago.  The coolest scenery we passed, for me, was US Cellular Field in Chicago.

However, we didn’t stop to look around, as we were on a schedule to get to Miller Park about an hour and a half before the gates opened.  This would give us time to buy tickets, park, and familiarize ourselves with the exterior of the stadium, and find the correct gate to go into.

There wasn’t really anywhere to park around the stadium, but the stadium lots, so we parked for $10 and then walked about six minutes to the stadium.  There’s a nature trail that runs along the stadium, and a bridge spans a stream on the way to Miller Park.  We paused to get a quick photo.

You can see the large domed structure in the background, which of course is Miller Park.  By the way, the weather in Milwaukee was absolutely miserable.  It was 44 degrees with constant rain and drizzle.  The biting wind made it feel like 37 degrees, so needless to say, we couldn’t do much outside during our two days in Milwaukee.

I was very disappointed to find out that the gates to Miller Park wouldn’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch.  Even though this was a SATURDAY.  The only way to see the Brewers take batting practice was to go into Friday’s restuarant, so that’s just what we did.

I went out to the Friday’s deck after a few minutes, which is just above the left field wall.  You’ll also notice that there’s a gap between the outfield wall and the deck, creating a perfect place for baseballs to fall into.

Well, there was a ball down there.

So, I lowered my glove and glove tricked it for my first ball of the day.

This was my view from the Friday’s deck.

I didn’t expect any home runs to come in there, mostly because there was an overhang.

I was wrong.

Rickie Weeks drilled a line drive home run that struck a table and stayed in the deck seating area, so I ran over and picked it up.  It was ball #2.

Another ball would land in the deck, but bounce back onto the field.  I really couldn’t run around in there with some people seated and eating.

After the Brewers finished up, the Pirates came out.  The batters stretched near the cage,

while the pitchers threw in the outfield near the front row of Friday’s.  Chris Resop recognized me and waved.

Joel Hanrahan looked genuinely displeased to see me.

He shook his head and shouted, “Don’t you get enough at home?!”

The only other interaction I had with a Pirates player was with Evan Meek, who saw me and asked if I had family in Milwaukee.  He also asked how long of a drive it was and who I came with.  Here he is looking up at me.

Once the gates opened, I ran upstairs to try for a home run ball in left field.  The Pirates were already batting, and the first group contained Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Doumit, and Jose Tabata.  I figured they’d be able to reach the seats.

However, they experienced a power outage, except for Doumit, but every one of his homeruns were swallowed up by the bullpen in left center.

After the first group, I walked up to the back of the bleachers, and found ball #3 tucked under a bleacher.

I made my way over to right field for the rest of the Pirates batting practice, since a majority of the team is left handed.  When I entered the bleachers, there were already several dozen fans there, but they all overlooked a ball that was in the front row, again, hidden under a bleacher.

It was ball #4 on the day.

While in right field, there was an amazing glove trick opportunity for four balls that were directly below me.

However, Euclides Rojas was in the bullpen unpacking gear, so I decided to wait.  Unfortunately for me, he then made his way over and picked up all four.  I politely asked for one, but despite being the only Pirates fan in right field, I was denied.  Every time I’ve ever asked Rojas for a ball, I’ve been glared at.  I miss old bullpen coach Luis Dorante.

Ball #5 on the day was thrown by Ross Ohlendorf, probably the most generous Pirates player.

He tossed many balls into the crowd, and was, as usual, going all out to catch every ball hit within 200 feet of him.  He had to throw the balls back in left handed, since his shoulder is injured.  His toss to me was also left handed.  It was inaccurate, over my head and to my right, but I was able to track it down before other fans got it.  “I got it Ross!” I called down.  “Thank you!”  He smiled and waved.

There was only one home run hit into the upper bleachers, and I didn’t get it.

There is a big overhang , so the lower bleachers were virtually worthless.  Many of the home runs went to center field and the Toyota Home Run Porch:

Near the end of batting practice, I glove tricked a ball in the Pirates bullpen.  It was at least 20 feet below, so it was pretty noticeable to everyone in the stadium.  The section below could be heard chanting “Go! Go! Go! Go!” as I slowly pulled my glove up with the ball tucked inside.  BP ended right after I glove tricked the ball, so I put on my backpack and went to meet up with Amy.

After BP, we walked around the stadium, exploring the concourse.

Our seats were in the upper deck, and here was one of the concourses up there.

We ended up sitting near the top of the stadium in the upper deck near the right field foul pole.

Pre game panorama:

Bernie’s Slide:

Scoreboard and roof:

Panorama during game:

After the game, we checked into our hotel, 10 minutes from the stadium.  We also scored this hotel for $25 from Priceline.  It was good too, because the price of gas keeps creeping upwards.

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 2 found)
Season:  137 balls (55 hit, 34 thrown, 27 device, 20 found)
Games: 21 games
Average:  6.52 balls per game
Career:  1,259 balls
Attendance: 42,422

Amy took tons of photos.  Here’s the top three that have nothing to with my ballhawking, but were quality pics by my lovely fiancee:

#3 Jose Veras, concentrating on catching a ball during BP warm ups:

#2 Heberto “Herbie” Andrade blows a bubble

#1 Daniel McCutchen has pitched really well this year and was recently promoted to set up man to Joel Hanrahan.  The reason for his effectiveness?  This wildly distracting face upon delivering the pitch:

5-13-11 Progressive Field, Cleveland

I took my first trip to Cleveland on Friday.  Last year, I made 19 trips to Cleveland and was a 20 game season ticket holder.  I didn’t renew my tickets and plan on making fewer trips this year, even though Progressive Field is one of my favorite stadiums to ballhawk in.

Amy was along with me for a weekend trip, that included a stop in Cleveland, and then two games at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Saturday and Sunday.

I thought batting practice might be cancelled.  There was a 60% chance of rain, and the forecast predicted heavy PM thunderstorms.  In fact, most of the trip was in heavy rain.

When we arrived, the rain had stopped, but when I peeked into the stadium, I saw the tarp out on the field, which is never a good sign – but it was negated by the fact that the cage was up, and there were several Indians out throwing.  The only thing that the rain had ruined was early batting practice, meaning easter eggs would be unlikely.

Amy got in line at Gate C, and even though we arrived at 3:50, we were still first in line.  I was hoping that maybe batting practice had started so there would be some balls in the seats, but it didn’t.

When I ran in, there was nothing to be found.

That didn’t stop me from looking though.

It ended up costing me a couple balls, because some balls landed in the seats, and I was more focused on finding balls than tracking them.  It was an error, but luckily Travis Hafner was in the cage, and he was in fine form today.

My first ball of the day was a home run that I chased down after it landed in the seats.  It was hit by Hafner.

My second ball was a clean catch that I caught here, also hit by Hafner.

Ball #3 was a ball hit by Carlos Santana that I ran over and picked up.

My fourth ball was thrown to me by Chris Perez.

Perez told me to give it to a baby in the front row, which I did.

He said, “The next one is yours.”  He made an effort to go track down another ball and threw me ball #5.  Below is the catch:

Perez has thrown me more baseballs than any during batting practice.  He’s probably THE most generous pitcher in terms of distributing souvenirs to fans that I’ve seen.  Although Livan Hernandez of the Washington Nationals is a close second.  Thanks Chris!

Travis Hafner took his final cuts in the cage and launched a home run into Heritage Park.  I ran over immediately to go snag it.

Another teenaged ballhawk had beaten me down there as he was in the section by the bullpen, but he couldn’t find the ball anywhere.

I found it though, it was laying in the tall grass beneath one of the trees in Heritage Park.

The first Indians ground finished hitting and I had snagged six balls from that group alone.

The rest of Indians batting practice featured tons of close calls and near misses.  There was running around, but coming up short:

Getting late to a spot that a random fan would pick up:

Balls that were hit right at me, but would fall just short and hit off the wall:

Balls that would be snagged in hats by five year olds directly in front of my glove:

Balls that fans would jump over rows for and dive on the ground to get:

Scrum balls that I’d lose out on:

So even though the Indians BP was great, and I started out on fire, it all got evened out by that cold stretch, as I failed to snag another ball during the Indians portion of batting practice.

Luckily, the Seattle Mariners feature a ton of lefties, so my chances of getting a few more would be decent.

Ichiro was the first batter for the Mariners, and he didn’t disappoint.  He put ball after ball into the seats.

I forgot my Mariners shirt, and Mariners roster, so I felt under prepared for the Mariners batting practice.  The only thing I changed was my hat.

There were more close calls as I moved closer to the bullpen.

I did get one Ichiro home run.  A ball that landed a few rows behind me and bounced right to me.  Here I am about to label it

In the mean time, I had noticed a ball over along the foul line that was probably about six feet out from the wall.

It was an easy glove trick ball.  All I’d have to do is fling my glove out a few feet, knock the ball closer to the wall, and it’d be mine.  The only problem was that a security guard was thirty feet down the line, staring directly at the area where I’d have to do the glove trick.

I decided to go and just do it quickly.  I went and snagged the ball, as planned, and the security supervisor marched down and demanded that I give the ball back.  I did.  But it wasn’t the same ball.  It was a beat up decoy ball that Nick and I use to play catch with on the Roberto Clemente bridge.  I kept ball #8 in my possession.

As I made my way back to right field, I found ball #9 that had gone unnoticed by everyone else that had been over in that section for a good ten minutes.

Back in right field, ball #10 was a clean catch that literally saved some lady’s face.  I ran over and caught the ball on the run directly in front of an elderly woman who wasn’t paying attention at all.  Amy didn’t get the picture because it was obstructed, but here I am labeling the ball.

Amy was sitting probably about twenty rows back taking pictures, when one of the lefties hit a bomb that landed a section over from her.  There was no one in the vicinity but her, so as several other fans raced in to claim it.  She got up and acted like she was going to go snag the ball.  This caused the other fans to lay off, and gave me enough time to go get the ball.  Amy knows that if she had picked it up, it wouldn’t have counted, so that’s why she left it there for me to get.  She gets a huge assist on ball #11.

It was picked up in row R under a seat

Ball #12 was a clean catch of an unknown Mariners left handed hitter.  Here I am about to make the catch:

And the reaction of several fans afterwards – you can see the guy pointing at me, saying Good Catch!

That had tied my personal record for balls in one game at Progressive Field.

My thirteenth ball was snagged over by the bullpen in a crowd of people.

It was a line drive home run that smacked an elderly man directly in the chest, knocking him down into his chair.  I picked the ball up a row behind him and gave it to him.  It would’ve been nice to have kept my thirteenth ball, but given the situation, I felt I had to give the ball up.

Amy and I left right after batting practice to head to Milwaukee.

We stopped at Jersey Mike’s just outside of Cleveland, one of Amy’s favorite restaurants.

We stopped off in Indiana at a hotel in Mishawaka IN.  I got it on priceline for $25.

Here are today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  13 balls (9 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season:  131 balls (54 hit, 33 thrown, 25 device, 18 found)
Games: 20 games
Average:  6.55 balls per game
Career:  1,253 balls
Attendance: 33,774

5-12-11 PNC Park

Rain was forecasted for today, so the Pirates were hitting early.  Amy was working the game and was there with me on the Riverwalk.  She had bought me two steak sandwiches.
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It was still early, so I figured the big lefties weren’t up yet, so Amy and I were just talking with a ball landed literally two feet to my left and rolled into the river.  I was upset that I wasn’t paying attention like I should’ve been.
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The ball floated awhile and sank.

I caught my first ball of the day here, as it took one bounce in the stadium and right into my glove.
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I misplayed another ball that rolled into the river, I just over ran it, because a big pack of pedestrians were walking toward the spot where it bounced out, and I was overly aggressive.

Amy then found a ball.  Since she is an employee and was working this game, I counted it.  It must’ve bounced out and hit the trees to my right, because it was just sitting in the grass.  She found it when she went to go into the stadium to begin her work.

My third ball was another one that bounced out of the stadium.  I played it just right and I caught it on the fly as it took one hop off the riverwalk and right into my glove.

Finally, I misplayed another ball.  Another one bounced out, but I ran too far in on it.  I was standing on the razor grass, so I didn’t want to jump and break my ankle, so I tried to reach up for it, but it was a few feet over my glove.  Nick Pelescak had the play backed up, but it got past him too.  Some random passerby picked the ball up as it slowly rolled toward the river.  Had he not been there either Nick or I probably could’ve reached the ball, as it seemed to not have much momentum if some random guy was able to get it.

It started raining then, as usual, right at 4:35.  This wiped out batting practice.

I still went in, and managed to find ball #4 in the fourth row,
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and ball #5 in the front row.
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I found them probably five minutes after the gates had opened.  Zac Weiss was the first one in and had already covered this section, but must’ve just missed them in his haste. 

I looked for more when the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30, but there was nothing else to be found, so I went home.

The game ended up being rained out, which is great, because it means it’ll be made up, which will give us an extra batting practice.

Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:

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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 found)
Season:  118 balls (45 hit, 31 thrown, 24 device, 17 found)
Games: 19 games
Average:  6.21 balls per game
Career:  1,240 balls
Attendance: 1 (rain out)

5-11-11 PNC Park

My day got off to a great start before the gates even opened.   I spent 4:15-4:50 on the Riverwalk outside of the stadium.  I did the same thing yesterday, but not even one ball came out. 

Today, that would be different.  I misplayed one ball that rather than knocking down with my body, I let hit the concrete to play it on a bounce.  The ball took a gigantic hop and went right into the river. 

The second ball I had a chance on, I made sure to knock the ball down with my body.  It was another home run that ripped through a tree, hit me, and settled in the grass, where I smothered it.  It was my first ball of the day.  It all happened here.
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A few minutes later, I cleanly snagged another home run ball on the fly as it one-bounced out of the stadium here:
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When the gates opened, Ross Ohlendorf tossed me ball #3.  Ross is probably the best BP shagger in the National League.  He really hustles after everything.
DSC01006.JPGMy fourth and final ball of the Pirates BP was hit into the upper bleachers.  I raced up and claimed it about six rows back.

When the Dodgers came out to hit, I was able to glove trick ball #5 here:
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Then snagged a ground rule double here,
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and was tipped off by the guy in the picture below about another glove trick opportunity, which I reeled in for ball #7.
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I went over to right field at 5:30 to look for balls, but there were none.  I looked down at section 139, and there was a ball literally at another ballhawk’s feet that he didn’t see.  From the front row of the right field wall, it was unmistakeably white and round – an easter egg.  I ran down and picked it up for ball #8.  It was laying in a little bit of water here:
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but it wasn’t completely soaked.

I stayed in center field as Andre Ethier was hitting.  I was robbed twice, but managed to get my glove on one of his home runs that I momentarily dropped, but recovered to pick it up here:
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I had to reach down and try and make a basket catch, and it hit the bulge of string that I keep in my glove and popped out.  Luckily, no one else was in the area though to grab the misplayed ball.

I only needed one more ball for double digits.  I still had twenty minutes of batting practice to get it, and Jay Gibbons, the Dodgers best BP hitter was up.  I moved up to the steep Clemente wall, where Gibbons had routinely peppered hoome runs the past two days.  He hit a home run to my right so I took off to make the catch.  However, the right field wall has cupholders that are low to the ground. 
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I stumbled on one and went straight down, tumbling down into the row below. 
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I tried to use the seat below to break my fall, but my left arm basically went right through the folded up chair.  I bashed the side of my lower left leg, hit the outer portion of my left bicep, and left thigh on the seats and arm rests.  It hurt bad, but I popped right up as the ball was about ten feet away in the row I’d fallen into.  However, some random guy hastily climbed over three rows and snatched it from me at the last second.

Minutes later the same damn thing happened again.  Gibbons hit a home run, I tripped on a cupholder, and this time sort of rolled down into the second row.  The ball actually tipped off my glove as I was falling.  Again, a random gloveless fan picked it up. 

Double digits just wasn’t to be.

I got shut out for the rest of batting practice.  I decided that I needed to get 10, so rather than leaving after BP like I had originally planned.  I stayed.  I decided to get 10 out of the way before the game started, so I went to this building on top of the scoreboard area to claim an easter egg that had to have been thrown there by a player, because its too far to have been hit:
DSC01019.JPGSee it?
DSC01020.JPGWell, the area was off limits, so I quickly went in, expecting to see a ladder or something on the other side.  Instead, I saw this:
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Bathrooms.  Apparently there’s no possible way to get on top of that roof.

I waited around until the game started and was able to get Garrett Jones to toss me ball #10 after he warmed up before the second inning began.
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I added ball #11 before the sixth began with Andrew McCutchen’s outfield warm up ball:
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That was all for today.  Double digits!  A great day.

Here are today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  11 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device, 1 found)
Season:  113 balls (43 hit, 30 thrown, 24 device, 15 found)
Games: 18 games
Average:  6.28 balls per game
Career:  1,235 balls
Attendance: 12,910

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