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

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 130 other followers

%d bloggers like this: