Amy and I decided to head down to Baltimore for a couple games to see the Cardinals take on the Orioles. We checked into the hotel, and Amy rested at the hotel while I left to go to batting practice.
The first ball I got was an absolute bomb that hit at the back of the seats near the bullpens and bounced back towards the field where I caught it.
Ball #2 was hit by another Orioles batter towards the foul pole. I simply jogged over and picked it up easy.
My third ball was cheap, but it was still #3. It was a ball that was misplayed by another ballhawk and bounced into the row in front of him where I snagged it with my glove.
Ball #4 was a clean catch here:
I barely had to move. I’m not sure who hit any of the balls, but the first Orioles group was really good. I mean really good. I had snagged four balls from one group alone, but two other ballhawks had snagged five and I think six. Impressive. And they were all batted balls too.
The Orioles final group sucked, so I didn’t get my fifth ball until the Cardinals came out to hit. It was tossed to me by pitcher Trever Miller, who I remember was the one pitcher who tossed up baseballs at PNC Park in recent series.
I moved over to center field when I saw a home run land in the gap in center field. I was able to glove trick it for ball #6, but not without some difficulty. It took four tries, but I was able to reel it in.
My seventh ball was a ground rule double that I caught next to a mom. I immediately handed the ball over which she gave to her child. She may have been able to make the play, but she was gloveless, so who knows.
My eighth ball was a clean catch of a Colby Rasmus HR with some competition from behind here:
No clue who hit it.
We made our way to the inner harbor,
and took a few photos. One of the bonuses of ballhawking outside of Pittsburgh is that its like a mini-vacation. I go to BP for an hour, and then I get to spend the rest of the time with the love of my life. Can’t beat that!
We headed towards Barnes and Noble:
And saw the Hard Rock Cafe:
I ordered a California Club sandwich.
It was bad. I felt like I was eating a salad sandwich with chicken, there was one thin fillet. Not impressed.
While we were out, the citizens of Baltimore were extra friendly. We kept getting warm smiles every where we turned, then it dawned on me.
It was because of our baby.
We walked around a little more before heading back to our hotel. Baltimore isn’t as bad as the Wire portrays. At least not the few blocks we saw.
Here are today’s baseballs (only 7 pictured because 1 was given away):
Game: 8 balls (6 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 259 balls (107 hit, 54 thrown, 61 device, 28 found)
Games: 44 games
Average: 5.87 balls per game
Career: 1,381 balls
A couple story lines to watch as the season continues:
1) Zack Hample is 5 off of the pace to snag 1,000 in a season.
2) Erik Jabs is on pace to tie his record of 544 that he snagged last season.
3) Nick Pelescak is narrowly on pace to break his personal best 417 snagged last year – and he’s going to Texas for four games this week to cement his status in the top 3 on mygameballs.com
4) Ben Weil and Zac Weiss could battle it out the next couple of weeks for the fourth spot.
5) Greg Barasch has rapidly risen in the standings the past week and could move into the top five soon.
Last year at this time the week 12 standings for 2010 were:
1) Erik Jabs 249
2) Nick Pelescak 213
3) Zack Hample 168
4) Shawn B 93
5) Greg Barasch 80
Back to 2011…
The week standings:
Today would be the largest crowd ever to witness a game at PNC Park, as 39, 483 would pack the park.
I was second in line behind Nick Pelescak. Zac Weiss, another Pittsburgh ballhawk would be third. There was lots of time to kill, so we stood around and talked a bit.
And played some catch in front of the gate.
What pitch am I throwing below? It has to do with the Red Sox starting pitcher tonight…
When the gates opened, I found a ball in the front row of section 137 to put me on the board.
A bit later in batting practice, a ball hit off of a the groundskeepers vehicle and settled against the wall in foul territory.
It would’ve been an easy snag – just a reach over the fence. So I ran over to get it. Just as I was entering the seating area in foul territory down the line, a Pirate sliced a line drive of home run distance into the seats. I was in the right place in the right time, as there wasn’t another fan within 100 feet. I walked over and picked it up for ball #2.
In the meantime, the groundskeeper picked the ball up as I was making my way down the stairs.
My third ball was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence here, and nearly took out pitching coach Ray Searage, who was walking over to the fence to give a ball away.
I wouldn’t snag another ball until 5:30.
At 5:30, the center field and right field seats opened, and I found a ball on the stairs in right field for #4 of the day.
Moments later, David Ortiz blasted a ball way over my head. I could tell it was going to carry, so I ran up the stairs towards the top of the Clemente Wall, hoping the ball would settle in a seat or empty row. It hit a seat and completely lost all momentum, and I picked it up a moment later for #5.
In the next group, I noticed a ball had landed in the ivy in center field that might have been reachable.
I made my way down the stairs and as I was under the Clemente Wall walking to center field, I heard WHHHAPPP – the sound of a ball hitting the concrete. A ball had cleared the Clemente Wall completely and was about twenty feet in the air above my head, as it rebounded off of the back wall. I jumped up and snagged it for ball #6.
‘Wow, that was lucky,’ I thought.
Not but fifteen seconds later, the same thing happened. Completely obstructed from the path of the ball, another home run cleared everything, hit a Red Sox fan, and deflected directly to me for ball #7.
Two completely lucky snags in a matter of seconds. I was later told it was Jarrod Saltalamacchia who hit those two balls.
In the meantime, another ballhawk snagged that ball in the ivy in center field. Nothing really happened in center field, except David Ortiz sauntered out to receive the adulation of Red Sox nation.
I spent the last fifteen minutes in left field, and this was the scene.
There was no where to go. I stayed over towards the foul pole where I had at least a half row of range, but no balls came withing fifty feet of me.
After batting practice, I left PNC Park for a bit. I checked the bushes to baseballs, but didn’t find any.
I also took one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken after looking through those bushes.
The Pirates ended up winning the game, setting the stage for a possibly sweep of the mighty Boston Red Sox tomorrow.
After the game Amy and I found a secluding spot in a park during the firework show and
Anyway, before heading home we stopped off at a Giant Eagle and picked up a few snacks for a possible road trip next week… It will probably be the last extended road trip for awhile because… well, we’re so pregnant.
And tomorrow is the baby shower!
Game: 7 balls (5 hit, 2 found)
Season: 251 balls (101 hit, 53 thrown, 60 device, 28 found)
Games: 43 games
Average: 5.84 balls per game
Career: 1,373 balls
The Red Sox were in town, bringing their well traveled fan base into PNC Park.
I got to the park early, and waited at the gate until I saw the Pirates pitchers begin to take batting practice.
When it got underway, I headed down to the Riverwalk and searched through the weeds, just in case either team took early batting practice.
There was nothing. And no luck on the Riverwalk today.
When the gates opened, there were already seven people in the bleachers with guest passes, so the Easter Eggs were long gone.
In about the first minute of batting practice, I caught a home run on the fly in section 136. Here I am labeling it:
My second ball also came during the first five minutes, and it was a glove trick ball. After adjusting the band twice, I reeled it in.
The Pirates only hit until 5:06, which is a growing trend this year. They’ve been ending between 5:03-5:06 lately.
During the Boston Red Sox first group, which featured a bunch of lefties, I was able to snag an Adrian Gonzalez ground rules double in the left field corner.
It bounced into the first row in the aisle where I picked it up.
Then BP slowed way down.
For the last group of Red Sox batters, I stood on the Clemente Wall in right field, where I caught a home run on the fly. I was checking the rooftops below the wall for baseballs (which occasionally there are. Its rare, but it happens), when I caught the track of a fly ball. I was just re-entering the seats, and ran to my left and made a snag on the move. I caught it in front of the guy in the black shirt:
Amy and I left right after batting practice.
Game: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 device)
Season: 244 balls (96 hit, 53 thrown, 60 device, 26 found)
Games: 42 games
Average: 5.81 balls per game
Career: 1,366 balls
I decided that rather than doing three separate entries, that I would lump all three Orioles games together in one entry.
I began Monday on the Riverwalk, which ended up being a waste of time for about the tenth game in a row. There simply hasn’t been any action there since Pedro Alvarez went on the disabled list.
Upon entering the stadium, I caught two baseballs on the fly within the first two minutes of batting practice. They were both hit by Matt Diaz, and I caught both of them here:
I wasn’t expecting a huge crowd on Monday, but I was wrong. There were enough fans that things got crowded enough where range became a problem at 5:30. During the Orioles batting practice, I glove tricked a ball along the wall in left field, and caught an unidentified Orioles home run on the fly here:
After batting practice I got some extra tickets scanned and got two bags filled with photo wraps. It was too crowded to compete for outfield toss ups, so I watched most of the game from beneath the left field bleachers.
There was a gigantic crowd for a Tuesday, with over 33,000 in attendance for a 1971 World Series stein.
The Pirates stopped hitting at 5:03. Wow. Three minutes of batting practice time. Nice.
Nick Markakis hit a home run that landed just out of reach in the ivy in center field. I went over to take a look at the ball, and deemed that it was definitely gettable with the right device. I let it go though, as there was a supervisor nearby.
I left immediately after batting practice.
There as no batting practice today, as it was a day game after a night game, and the players needed the extra sleep. (Poor babies).
Anyhow, the Markakis ball from yesterday was still in center field:
So I grabbed a squeegee and prodded it loose, reached through the railing and grabbed it to avoid a shutout.
When the Orioles came out to throw (and only two sets of pitchers came out), I was lucky enough to snag a ball from Clay Rapada.
He tossed his ball towards the crowd, and two other fans tried to make the snag along with me. The ball clanked off of our hands/gloves, bounced on the warning track, where I snagged it with my right hand almost immediately.
In other news:
I had x-rays done on my hand that I hurt on June 7th when racing Nick into foul territory to snag a ball. Since then, I’ve had no strength in my middle and ring fingers and can only move them minimally. Since they haven’t been healing, I decided I needed to go to the doctor, even though I’m one of those stubborn people that hate going to doctors.
The x-rays came back negative, but the doctor said I have tendinitis, and must refrain from using my left hand for the next five days. That’s my glove hand. Not good. She gave me some anti inflammatory meds and said to come back if it doesn’t get better.
To cap things off, I tweaked my back on the way to the doctor by lifting and carrying a giant trash bag with nineteen 3- pound boxes in it. I can’t win.
6/20: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 device)
6/21: 2 balls (1 hit, 1 device)
6/22: 2 balls (1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 240 balls (93 hit, 53 thrown, 59 device, 26 found)
Games: 41 games
Average: 5.85 balls per game
Career: 1,362 balls
Attendance: 22,447, 33,806, 19,418
*Last year on 6/22 I had snagged 249 baseballs in 38 games. 132 of the 249 from last year were batted balls. I miss Lastings Milledge.
Amy and I checked out of the hotel around 11:30, and met up with Nick, who had gone out for breakfast. We had five hours to kill before the gates of Progressive Field would open at 4:30, so we walked around Cleveland.
I originally wanted to find a park so I could sit down and read the paper and get out of the sun for a bit. So, we began walking toward Settler’s Landing Park, which I saw on a map on my Iphone. It looked like it was on a little river, which turned out to be a canal. I thought there would be some trees, picnic tables and benches.
I was wrong. We were greeted by a hulking, rusting bridge that looked like it had been swept up by a tornado and driven into the ground vertically. It was such an eyesore.
I guess decades ago it was a drawbridge from a rail line which obviously no longer exists.
We walked around the park, and found nothing but homeless people, and giant sized mushrooms.
After a couple photos of the underside of Cleveland,
we headed toward lake Erie, and walked around the Cleveland Browns Football stadium.
Nick then headed to get lunch and to the ballpark, while Amy and I explored the perimeter of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
and visited the Cleveland Science Center, where we grabbed a bite to eat at a Pizza Hut express, and brushed up on our periodic table of elements. Can you name all of them in the photo?
When it came time to enter the stadium, things got off to a tough start. I only got one ball from the Indians. Chris Perez threw a ball toward a couple of fans in the front row, but they interfered with each other and both missed it. You’ll see me standing there, several rows back.
The ball bounced on the concrete and ended up maybe ten rows back, where I grabbed it to get on the board:
The Indians finished hitting at 5:05. When the Pirates came out, the bad luck continued, and I still only had one baseball when 5:30 rolled around and I headed to left field:
Over in left field, my luck changed as Dusty Brown tossed me ball #2 of the day.
I was hoping that my Pirates gear would make me stand out over the other fans.
I headed back over to center field for the Pirates second group, which featured several lefties.
While there, I caught a Lyle Overbay home run on the fly. It was a full extension leaping catch in this area.
The next batter, Garrett Jones, hit a home run that I caught the next section over, also on the fly for ball #4.
I headed back over to left field for the final group, where Jose Tabata tossed me my fifth ball of the day. He’s on the right, talking with Jose Veras:
I finished batting practice in left field, and ended up with five baseballs on the day.
After batting practice Amy and I spun the Prize Wheel. She won a Duncan Donuts buy one get one free iced coffee coupon, and I won a free drink from Circle K stores. Both garbage prizes. Blah.
After that, we got ice cream cones as we made our way to our seats in the upper deck.
It was a losing battle against the ice cream, which melted faster than we could eat it. Amy’s hands were a mess.
After running to the bathroom to get wet paper towels for us to clean up, it was time for the first pitch.
Our seats were in Section 556, Row X, which was the very last row in the upper deck, and they were great. There was a strong breeze the entire time we were there, and it really kept us cool.
I wish we could’ve stayed for the entire game, but we had to leave around 7:40 to walk back to the bus stop to catch our bus headed back to Pittsburgh.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 232 balls (89 hit, 52 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 38 games
Average: 6.11 balls per game
Career: 1,354 balls
I booked Amy and I tickets on megabus.com for a bus headed to Cleveland for the Pirates-Indians series. It cost me $3 to go there, and $5 for the return fare, since I booked it a couple weeks in advance. You can’t beat that.
This was my second game of the year at Progressive Field, which is way down from last year when I attended 19.
Upon entering the stadium and looking for baseballs, I found one in Heritage Park in center field. Unreachable with my arm, I used the ‘Cleveland stick’ to reach under the wall and snag this one.
My second ball of the day was a Travis Hafner home run that landed several rows behind me that I was able to grab before a couple of other fans.
Moments later, Hafner hit another home run that I snagged on the fly for ball #3.
A couple minutes after that, I noticed a ball land in the trees of Heritage Park. I ran over and was able to reach in and grab it without the use of any device.
In the meantime, there were a few balls in the bullpen. I ended up glove tricking one of them after at least 10 attempts at knocking the ball closer to the wall. Once the ball was close enough to the wall, I reeled it in for ball #5, and was given a round of applause by those fans who watched the whole ordeal.
When the Pirates came out to hit, one of the Buccos hit a home run that landed on the bullpen roof in center field.
I used the Cleveland stick – which reaches 6 feet (plus at least three feet of my arm length) to just barely reach it.
Less than a minute after snagging ball #6, Daniel McCutchen ran past while doing sprints and flipped a ball up into the stands, right to me. I didn’t even ask for it. Maybe it was my bright gold shirt. Regardless, it was my seventh of the day.
I finished batting practice in left field and was tossed #8 by Jeff Karstens. I had given up asking Jeff Karstens for balls in 2009, because he had completely ignored every request that I ever put in for a ball. I didn’t even ask for this particular ball. A batter hit it off the left field wall, Jeff ran over, picked it up, looked at me, and fired it right to me.
After batting practice, I was thrown ball #9 in the Pirates bullpen by bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade.
I left right after that, despite needing just one more for double digits. Amy was waiting in the hotel, and I wanted to go out to eat with her.
We went to East 4th street, where there are a few restaurants and was seemingly the only stretch of any street in Cleveland that wasn’t abandoned and boarded up.
We ate at Zocalo – a Mexican restaurant, and it was fantastic. The entrance was a little iffy, but everything else was first class.
After that, we walked back to the hotel room for a brief 15 minute pit stop, and then went back out to explore the city. We walked around for an hour or two, and watched the fireworks after the game from the rooftop on a parking garage downtown.
Those couple hours were by far my favorite of the entire weekend trip.
Game: 9 balls (3 hit, 3 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 227 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 37 games
Average: 6.14 balls per game
Career: 1,349 balls
After a poor performance on Sunday, I was hoping for some luck. It wouldn’t happen, at least not on the Riverwalk.
A ball flew out of the stadium about 100 feet to my left and landed in the river. The ball was very reachable with my water device, but the device failed. It never was able to scoop up the ball, and after a minute or two, the ball sank.
To make matters worse, as I was attempting to snag that ball from the river, a ball bounced out of the stadium right where I had been previously standing. It would’ve been an easy snag. That one ended up in the river, and sank to its final resting place in the depths of the murky Allegheny as well.
When the gates opened, I snagged ball #1 off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. It was a home run that landed in the front row near the bullpen. I ran over and picked it up, as the other ballhawks were searching for balls down by the left field foul pole. McCutchen was in the last Pirates group because he was given the day off from starting today, despite having an 11 game hitting streak, and being 6 for 12 lifetime against Mets starter Mike Pelfrey. Cutch would later enter the game late and single to extend his streak to twelve games.
A few minutes later, McCutchen hit an absolute blast more than half way up into the second deck of bleachers. I ran up and found it after a brief search for ball #2.
Ball #3 was glove tricked at the base of the wall in left field when the Mets were hitting, as the Pirates ran off the field at 5:05 again. Lame.
My fourth ball was tossed by Jason Pridie. I had asked him for a ball a few times earlier, and this time he tossed it high above the other fans right to me four rows back.
Ball #5 was glove tricked over by the bullpen.
My sixth ball was a home run hit by an unidentified Met. It landed in a small crowd of people and shot straight up in the air. I hopped up and snagged it.
Less than a minute later, I snagged ball #7 on the fly, on the run in section 134. It brought a few grumbles from the crowd, as the average fan doesn’t like seeing someone get more than one ball, especially in such a short span of time.
A minute after that, I snagged ball #8, which landed on the cross aisle in left field, bounced off the upper bleachers, and rolled to the railing separating the wheel chair section from the aisle, where I had been blocked off from getting up onto the cross aisle. I reached down and grabbed the ball.
Another ball was left unattended by the bullpen, so I went over and glove tricked that one for ball #9.
I then made my way over to right field and was able to snag a Daniel Murphy home run ball that landed in section 140. It hit near the top of section 140, and I snagged it as it trickled down a few rows right to me.
That was ball #10, making today a total success.
I would snag another ball, #11 of the day behind section 141. I caught it on the fly between the wall and the seats that you see here:
I had to jump for the ball, as the ball carried on me a little, and I was boxed in by the seats from behind.
Ball #12 came during the game and was thrown to me by Garrett Jones in the 5th inning. I picked a nice open space on the Clemente wall and got him to toss me his between inning warm up ball.
That would be the last ball I snagged today, as I spent the seventh inning with Amy on her break. She bought me this with her Pirates Bucks ($5 Gift Certificates that workers get every game):
It’s a therma base pullover – like what the players wear during BP when its chilly. I am lucky to have such a wonderful fiancee.
Game: 12 balls (7 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 218 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 36 games
Average: 6.06 balls per game
Career: 1,340 balls
Erik Jabs captures top honors in week 10, narrowly edging out fellow PNC ballhawk Nick Pelescak:
The season standings through week 10 are as follows. I added a pace column, to roughly project each participant’s season total. The formula was total balls divided by 10 multiplied by 26 (for 26 weeks).
As for week 9, I got behind in posting it, so here are those results, won by Zack Hample: