May 2011

5-10-11 PNC Park

Let’s get right to it.

My first two balls of the day were off the bat of Chris Snyder.  The first was a home run that landed in section 133 near the foul pole.
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There was no one there, so I simply had to run over and pick it up.

Snyder hit another ball that bounced over the fence.  Several fans reacted to slow and deflected the ball right to me here:
DSC00984.JPGAt 5:30, I ran into the center field seats and found ball #1 laying in the front row, it was in the middle section here:

It was also ball #100 of the season.
DSC00987.JPGSince the Dodgers batting practice was so awful, I stayed in right field because Jay Gibbons was the only batter really putting anything into the seats.

He didn’t hit nearly as many home runs as yesterday, but he did hit one home run that I chased down as it hit a seat a section away from me, and a few rows back:
DSC00985.JPGThat was it for batting practice.  It was really lame.  The Dodgers again, are the worst batting practice team I’ve seen all year.

During the game, I snagged Andrew McCutchen’s warm up ball before the first inning began.  I stood in the third row, in the exact spot where the threw it yesterday, and he delivered a perfect strike to me.  It was my fifth ball of the day.
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That was it for my snagging.  I was really tired, so I sat for much of the game.  The Pirates ended up losing, knocking them back to .500 on the season at 18-18.

Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
DSC00995.JPGSTATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  102 balls (38 hit, 27 thrown, 22 device, 14 found)
Games: 17 games
Average:  6.00 balls per game
Career:  1,224 balls
Attendance: 13,497

5-9-11 PNC Park

Today got off to a great start.

I got to the stadium around 4:25 PM or so and went down to the Riverwalk.  Look what was waiting for me. 

It was just laying there. 
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It had a nice scuff on it, so it likely bounced out of the stadium and just died in the grass.  None of the passers by noticed it.  Amazing stuff.

After a few minutes, several other ballhawks joined me on the riverwalk. 
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There were two younger ballhawks, Nick Pelescak, and another guy who stayed farther down towards the foul pole.

While there, a ball bounced out that the youngest of us grabbed, and another one bounced out that I completely misplayed.  I notice a high fly ball that looked like it had a chance.  I ran up to the wall, because it looked like it might just barely clear the wall.  It did, after bouncing at least twice in the stadium.  When the ball reappeared into my field of sight, I was to far to the left, and totally misplayed it.  I tried to dive for it, but missed the ball, and one of the ‘new’ ballhawks grabbed it.

The rest of the time we spent staring at the sky, but nothing else came out.
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When the gates opened, I ran in and found ball #2 laying on the cross aisle by the handicapped seats in left field.  A food service employee actually pointed it out to me.  He saw me sprinting, assumed I was looking for baseballs, and said, “There’s one right there.”

My third ball was hit by Steve Pearce.  It was a ball that landed in section 133 and it rolled down the stairs under the bleachers and I just waited for it and picked it up.

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Despite having empty bleachers and doing a ton of running around, Nick and I both had really sub par games.
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Here we are just coming up short on one of several scrums.
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The Pirates had put several righties in their last group, and it was a good round of BP, but after about 9 minutes, they ran off the field and the Dodgers came out.
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My fourth ball of the day came after the Dodgers came out to hit.  Here I am in my useless Dodgers gear:
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Ball #4 was a ball that rolled to the wall that I glove tricked.
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The guy in the Waner jersey below told me to give the glove tricked ball away to a kid.  I told him no.  
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The kid just got three anyway.  I hate it when people try to tell me what to do with the balls that I snag.  He clumsily got a ball, but I didn’t see him giving it away.  For the record, I gave two of my decoy balls away to kids yesterday.
In the meantime, it seems like most of the Pittsburgh ballhawks change their jerseys now.
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Dodgers BP absolutely sucked.  There was a lot of time to just stand around.
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Whenever a ball looked like it had a chance, it died and was routinely caught by one of the Dodgers pitchers.
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At 5:30, I headed over to center field,
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but found no balls there.  I stayed there for a few minutes, and had three opportunities, but failed on all three.  The first was a ball that was over my head, hit in the fourth row and bounced back onto the field.  The second was a ground rule double that bounced into the fourth row that a random fan beat me to, and the third was a ground rule double that I had tip off my glove after a fan in the front row also tried to snag it and knocked my glove out of position at the last second.
I returned to left field, talked with one of the friendly supervisors who gets a kick out of our ballhawking antics,
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and waited around for a home run.
They were few and far between.  I lost out on one scrum, 
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and the caught a Russell Mitchell home run ball on the fly for ball #5.
Here I am getting a read on the ball.
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The photo of the catch was obstructed as Nick was backing up the play.  
The ball was brand new without a spec on it.
That was it for batting practice.   Amy and I went up to the club level and ate, and made our way back down to the outfield for the beginning of the game.  Our seats were on the Clemente wall.
Before the game started, I meandered into the center field seats, but came up empty on the first inning toss up ball.  It went to the folks in the second row.
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Also, in the first inning, a ballhawk named Harold who has snagged 1,000 baseballs in 30 years had a prime opportunity to catch a home run ball off the bat of Garrett Jones.  He completely muffed it, and the ball fell back on the field.  Harold was booed mercilessly.  His botched catch caused the umpires to look at the replay and rule what should’ve been a home run a ground rule double.
Here’s Harold:
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In the top of the second inning, Jones warmed up, turned, and fired me his warm up ball.  It was ball # 6 on the day.
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#6, rubbed up, an ex-gamer:
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After that, Amy and I left to go have some time to ourselves as we have a busy week ahead of us.
Here are today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season:  97 balls (35 hit, 26 thrown, 22 device, 13 found)
Games: 16 games
Average:  6.06 balls per game
Career:  1,219 balls
Attendance: 11,373

Ballhawk League Week 5

Here’s how everything played out in week 5:
bhl11 week 5.jpgSeason:
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2011 Ballhawk League Archive:
TOP BALLHAWK: (# win in parenthesis)
Week 1:  Zack Hample 37 (Runner Up: Erik Jabs 36)
Week 2:  Zack Hample 46 (Runner Up: Erik Jabs 18)
Week 3:  Zack Hample 75 (Runner Up: Erik Jabs 11)
Week 4:  Zack Hample 26 (Runner Up: Nick Pelescak 14)
Week 5:  Zack Hample 44 (Runner Up: Nick Pelescak 17)

5-8-11 PNC Park

Today was Mother’s Day, and my mother-to-be fiancee Amy had to work this game, so I was there too.  Luckily, even through it was a day game following a night game, there was a full batting practice.

Upon entering the stadium, I snagged my first ball of the day on the Riverwalk, or outfield concourse.  Fans can’t enter the stadium until 11:30, they can only access the Riverwalk, which is the area behind the right field wall.  It’s kind of dumb to open at 11 AM, and just make everyone stay out there, but whatever. 

Chris Snyder threw me my first ball of the day over the iron gate.  He’s on the left in the picture below, talking to Lyle Overbay.
5-8-11 (1).JPGI called out for a ball from Neil Walker
5-8-11 (3).JPGbut so did this guy:
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(I didn’t realize we were at a Steeler game…)

Anyway, I snagged the ball over him, and he wasn’t too happy.  He started boasting about how he ‘can jump’ because he ‘plays basketball,’ and the next ball thrown out, he was getting.

I didn’t wait around to see, as it was 11:30, and I ran into the left field bleachers.  There, I found ball #3 by the bullpen, and continued my search into foul territory.

There were no balls there, but a cool groundscrew member tossed me a ball that was laying in front of the tarp.
5-8-11 (6).JPGMy fifth ball of the day came from Evan Meek.  He handed me a ball after we had a nice five minute conversation about everything from Amy, my upcoming baby, Mother’s Day, his recovery, etc.

I only snapped a picture as they ran off the field.
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The Astros then came out, and Dave Clark started hitting balls to the relief pitchers, encouraging them to rob the home runs, or injury themselves and end their careers.  Just ask Ruben Niebla.

It worked out though, as Clark over hit a ball into the stands that I snagged off a bleacher in this area.
5-8-11 (8).JPGMy seventh ball was a Hunter Pence home run catch on the fly caught on the far end of the section by the handicapped seats.
5-8-11 (10).JPGI caught it while running, and spun around after making the catch doing a 360 spin.  One of my better catches this year.

It was so crowded today, so there was no chance for an outfielder toss up.
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Ball #8 of the day was thrown to me by Jose Tabata in the 8th inning.  I snagged it here. 
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I had to run down a few steps to snag it from other fans who were reaching from it, but I’m pretty sure it was to me, just under thrown.  It was directly in the middle of the aisle.  Luckily, no one batted it away from me.

After the game, I took Amy out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Old Mexico located in Washinton PA.

Here are today’s eight baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
5-8-11 (19).JPGSTATISTICS:
Game:  8 balls (2 hit, 5 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  91 balls (33 hit, 25 thrown, 21 device, 12 found)
Games: 15 games
Average:  6.07 balls per game
Career:  1,213 balls
Attendance: 17,946

5-7-11 PNC Park

Before heading to PNC Park, Amy and I went to Color Me Mine in Squirrel Hill.
5-7-11 (46).JPGOnce inside, one picks out a piece to paint.
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Then, one picks colors for their pallet from a paint wall filled with different colors of paint. 
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There is a guide to the colors hanging above the paint.  The shade on
the left is one coat, and the shade on the right of each color is three
coats.
5-7-11 (31).JPGAmy and I chose a piggy bank to make for our daughter, due in early August.
5-7-11 (16).JPGAmy and I painted the pig together.  She pained the body of the pig.
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And I worked on the front.
5-7-11 (23).JPGAfter we got the pig just like we wanted it, I detailed in purple our daughter’s name on one side of the piggy bank.
5-7-11 (35).JPGThis was the end result:
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On the other side I wrote her year of birth, 2011.
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And here’s the face I painted:
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It’s going to be fired in a kiln and we’ll pick it up next week!

After that it was off to PNC Park.  It began raining at 3:50.  It never rained more than a drizzle, and it drizzled for about 10 minutes.  This was just enough for the PNC Park groundscrew to decide to cancel batting practice for the day.

To pass the time, I played catch with Nick Pelescak and Zac Weiss on the bridge.
5-7-11 (73).JPGAlways a good time.
5-7-11 (82).JPGOf course, since there was no batting practice going on, there wasn’t much to do, so I went over behind the Astros pitchers when they came out.  On my way over, I found my first ball of the day in the seats along the right field foul line.

It was likely left over from the Pirates batting practice, because they had been hitting before the light drizzle started.

Here’s the Astros doing some light running:
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When they came out, Wilton Lopez tossed Enerio Del Rosario’s glove into the stands.  I took his glove, and Wilton Lopez and I made an exchange.

Lopez was confused by the string, so I just told him I use it for extra padding.  Thanks to Nick Pelescak for the picture.
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Later, when the Astros were done throwing, Lopez tossed me his warm up ball, my second one of the day.
5-7-11 (107).JPGAfterwards, I walked around for a bit.
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There ended up being 32,000 fans at this game, so there wasn’t any chance for toss up balls from the outfielders, so I ended with two balls.

Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
5-7-11 (129).JPGSTATISTICS:
Game:  2 balls (1 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  83 balls (31 hit, 20 thrown, 21 device, 11 found)
Games: 14 games
Average:  5.93 balls per game
Career:  1,205 balls
Attendance: 32,299

5-6-11 PNC Park

Today I just didn’t have it.  It wasn’t my day.

Nothing happened on the riverwalk…
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Not much else happened for me inside either.  I didn’t get shut out at least.

My first ball of the day was Pedro Alvarez opposite field ground rule double that bounced over the fence.  The ball took a weird hop, and I tried to barehand it.  I dropped the ball, but recovered it at my feet.  I got it here:
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My second ball of the day was a home run catch off the bat of an unknown Astro.  I caught it on the fly here.   Standard catch.
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My third and final ball of the day came at the very end of batting practice.  Fernando Abad, seen here in a group of Astros pitchers,

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turned and threw a ball into the crowd as they were running off the
field.  The ball sailed over my head, landed on the steps, bounced off
the plexiglass to the upper bleachers and back towards the handicapped
seats.  I reached over the railing separating the handicapped seats
from the aisle and caught the ball. 
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That was it for batting practice.

Three balls. 
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 ball (2 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  81 balls (31 hit, 19 thrown, 21 device, 10 found)
Games: 13 games
Average:  6.23 balls per game
Career:  1,203 balls
Attendance: 12,728

4-27-11 PNC Park

I elected not to go to last night’s game, as batting practice was rained out by storms rolling through around 4 PM. 

Today was like the movie Groundhog Day, because at the same exact time, a quick thunderstorm popped up.  It rained for about 10 minutes from 3:55-4:05, which was just enough for batting practice to get moved indoors.

I asked Jonathan Sanchez for a ball twice in the first 30 minutes, once in center field, and once by the bullpen.  He ignored me both times. 
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I planned to ask a third time, but his side session went long, and at 5:30 I jogged over to the right field foul line to try to get a ball from a pitcher.

Ryan Vogelsong had finished throwing and was running sprints.  I noticed a ball in his glove.
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I waited patiently for him to finish, and when he did, I asked him for the ball, and he flipped it to me.
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I also asked him to sign my ticket since there wasn’t much else going on:
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4-27-11 (26).JPGA bit later I noticed virtually every fan in the stadium crowd along the right field line.
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The Giants “rock stars” Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson and his beard were out throwing.
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They didn’t even stop to sign autographs on their way back in. 

As for the game, I spent most of it in the club level.  I didn’t get any foul balls, but Buster Posey hit one three seats away from my seat in the 9th inning after I had left the club.  I just stared dumbfounded at the club seats, it would’ve been such an easy catch.  That’s the way it goes.

Here’s today’s baseball:  #1200:
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And the sweetspot:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  1 ball (1 thrown)
Season:  78 balls (29 hit, 18 thrown, 21 device, 10 found)
Games: 12 games
Average:  6.50 balls per game
Career:  1,200 balls
Attendance: 9,048

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