June 2011

6-9-11 PNC Park

Today was the final day that the Diamondbacks were in town, and I for one, am not sorry to see them leave.  They just don’t hit many balls into the stands, which makes for a boring batting practice.

To make matters worse, the Pirates did not hit today.  They skipped batting practice, so at 5PM, when the gates opened, the Diamondbacks were already on the field hitting.

Upon running in, I was able to get Charles Nagy to toss me ball #1.  Here he is talking to ex-Pirate Zach Duke.

My second ball was tossed to me by Esmerling Vasquez in left field:

And ball #3 was a ground rule double that I snagged in section 136.  Nick Pelescak gets an assist as he slowed the ball down by deflecting it.  Playing ground rule doubles can be a tricky thing.

I snagged it here,

and moments later I snagged another ground rule double for ball #4 in virtually the same spot.

My fifth ball was yet another ground rule double.  It hung up in the air and I snagged it over the man in the light blue shirt.

My sixth and final ball of the day was via the glove trick by the foul pole in left field.

The Diamondbacks stopped hitting at 5:42 PM, I immediately left the park when they were done.

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device,)
Season:  192 balls (74 hit, 44 thrown, 49 device, 25 found)
Games: 32 games
Average:  6.00 balls per game
Career:  1,314 balls
Attendance: 12,468

6-8-11 PNC Park

After a dismal two ball day yesterday, things got off to a much better start.  I snagged two balls within the first fifteen seconds today.  That’s right, it took a full BP to get just two yesterday.

Upon running in, there were several fans already in the stands for a season ticket holder batting practice viewing event.  They were near the bullpen, so I ran towards the foul pole, where I found ball #1 in the third row back.  Also, a home run landed near the foul pole as I entered the bleachers and was picked up by a Pirates season ticket representative.  He tossed it to me for ball #2.

My third ball was glove tricked directly behind the left field foul pole after the Diamondbacks came out to hit.

(By the way, the Pirates ran off the field at 5:05.  Perhaps at 90 degrees it was too hot to take a full BP?)

By the way, the entire first group of Diamondbacks were ALL left handed, so there was virtually no chance of any batted balls landing in left field.  Rather than go over and play the Riverwalk for deep home runs, I elected to stay in left field and hope for a toss up.   It paid off as Josh Collmenter tossed me ball #4 of the day.

I had planned on running over to right field as four home runs landed there during the Diamondbacks first group, but I watched as the ushers systematically scanned each and every row and picked up all four.  So, figuring that there wasn’t much to be found in right, I ran over to foul territory to see if a foul ball that had been hit earlier in batting practice was still there.

It paid off as I found ball #5 in the handicapped section in foul territory.  As I was leaving to return to the right field bleachers, a batter hit a foul ball into the upper seats.  I simply turned around to go claim it.  I had seen where the ball landed, but I couldn’t find it.  Two other ballhawks started to come over to look and claim it for themselves, so I pulled some trickery and bent down as if I had found it, and stood back up holding the previous ball that I had found.  This bought me another minute or two, as the other ballhawks went back to their spots along front row in foul territory.  Eventually, I found the ball, it had rolled the whole way down to row A in section 130.  It was ball #6.

Back in left field, there wasn’t much action to be had.  I went the next twenty five minutes without anything until Xavier Nady hit a ground rule double that I snagged here:

The entire batting practice there were three home runs to left field.  That’s it.  It didn’t help that the Diamondbacks were being frugal and were tossing up precious few baseballs.  Nick Pelescak capped off batting practice by shouting at the Diamondbacks as they ran off the field, “You’re all a bunch of cheapskates!”

The D’Backs BP has been the worst I’ve seen this year.  One more game with them this year on Thursday, and then the Mets come into town for 4.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season:  186 balls (71 hit, 42 thrown, 48 device, 25 found)
Games: 31 games
Average:  6.00 balls per game
Career:  1,308 balls
Attendance: 14,015

6-7-11 PNC Park

Tough day.

Got shut out for the first half hour.

At 5:29, I went over to snag a ball in foul territory that was just sitting along the railing.  Right when I went over to snag it, Xavier Nady hit another ball that rolled right up against the wall.

Nick Pelescak also was apparently going for the same ball(s), and it turned into a big unnecessary race.  Knowing that Nick is in an all out war to hang onto #3 on mygameballs (against the Baltimore Ballhawks), I realized that I had to hustle in order to avoid a shut out.

In my haste, I slammed my left hand off of a railing hard.  I caught my middle finger and bent it awkwardly to the side.  As I sit here the next morning, I still can not make a fist, or use my left hand.  It’s pretty aggravating.  If I could go back, I’d gladly trade the balls I snagged today and take a shutout to be at 100% full health.

Anyhow, I was able to grab the Xavier Nady ball, and Nick got the other one.  The ball was career ball #1,300.

The only other ball I snagged today was a home run in center field that was misplayed by another ballhawk and bounced to me.  I don’t know who hit it.

I left immediately after batting practice to go put an offer in on a house that Amy and I like.

STATISTICS:
Game:  2 balls (2 hit)
Season:  179 balls (67 hit, 40 thrown, 47 device, 23 found)
Games: 30 games
Average:  5.97 balls per game
Career:  1,301 balls
Attendance: 12,378

6-5-11 PNC Park

It was a Sunday game, which was a day game following a night game, thereby decreasing the chances of batting practice.

I got to the stadium around 11AM, and saw no trace of the batting cage or screens.  So, I hung out on the bridge for twenty minutes, where I could see directly into the park.  I then left, resigned to the fact that there would be no batting practice.  Coupled with 35,000 people at the game, it just wasn’t worth running around all game for a ball or two.

I started walking back to the car when I got a text from my fiancee Amy, who was working the game.  She told me that they were wheeling out the screens and that batting practice would be on.

I jogged back to the park and made it into the left field bleachers by 11:35, 35 minutes after the gates had opened.

Only the Phillies would be hitting today.

And, it was packed.

I glove tricked ball #1 and ball #2 towards the left field foul pole:

The stadium was absolutely packed.  Check out the bleachers:

My view straight ahead:

I decided to move towards the foul pole where I would have slightly more room to move.

The move paid off, as I caught a Ben Francisco home run ball on the fly here for ball #3:

I didn’t snag anything else until the 5th inning.  A large group of people left the front row in center field, so I went down for a minute to give myself a chance at an Andrew McCutchen warm up ball.  He fired a perfect strike to me, while I was on the phone with Amy, who I was meeting up with for some food on her break.

That would be my fourth and final ball of the day.

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season:  177 balls (67 hit, 40 thrown, 47 device, 23 found)
Games: 29 games
Average:  6.10 balls per game
Career:  1,299 balls
Attendance: 35,505

6-4-11 PNC Park

Amy and I spent the afternoon being shown a couple houses by a realtor and then headed to PNC Park.

Today was a Fireworks night, and the Phillies were in town.  AND it was the largest crowd ever recorded in PNC Park history.  That doesn’t make a good ballhawking environment.

When I ran in, there were no balls to be found, perhaps because batting practice got started a little later than usual because of this:

Fan-photo day with the players on Federal Street from 3-4 pm.

Immediately upon entering, Kevin Correia tossed me a ball to put me on the board.

I would go the next thirty minutes without snagging anything.  The home runs that were hit, were over my head and were gobbled up by other fans.  Eventually, a fan in the front row misplayed a home run ball.  The ball hit his glove square and fell back onto the field.  It was an easy glove trick opportunity.  I asked the fan, who was maybe 14, if he wanted me to get the ball for him.  He said yes, so I glove tricked it, and handed over ball #2.

It turned out to bring some good karma, because I snagged two more balls within the next minute.  One was a clean catch of a Matt Diaz home run ball here:

And another was a Chris Snyder bomb that sailed between the rotunda and upper bleachers and bounced into a concession stand, where it was thrown to me by a worker.

At the end of the Pirates BP, I was flat out robbed by a Phillies fan.  Daniel McCutchen looked directly at me and tossed me a ball.  This guy in Phillies gear, who the ball was clearly NOT intended for, quickly reached in front of my glove and intercepted it.

My fifth ball was glove tricked here during the Phillies BP,

and I glove tricked another near the end of the BP over along the left field foul line.   That was it for today.

There wasn’t much point of trying for home run balls unless they were right at me or toss ups.  Here was my view for the last 45 minutes or so of batting practice:

After batting practice, I left, went to the gym.

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

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device)
Season:  173 balls (66 hit, 39 thrown, 45 device, 23 found)
Games: 28 games
Average:  6.18 balls per game
Career:  1,295 balls
Attendance: 39,441

6-3-11 PNC Park

It’s been about 10 days since my last game.  I’ve cut down on the road trips since last year, as an average trip to Cleveland costs $75 a game, and a trip to Washington or Baltimore averages about $100 a game in gas and tolls.  It wasn’t worth it to me.

Amy and I have spent the last ten days scouring the housing market.  I’ve decided that I want to have a nice house for my baby daughter (due in August) to grow up in.  Our current one bed room apartment just isn’t cutting it.

Amy and I have been putting together lists, driving around, and scratching off 80% of the houses we drive by.  We’ve toured six solid contenders so far, and are looking at houses in the $150,000-$200,000 range.  All of the ones we like are 200k, which is a huge commitment.  So, as you can see,  at least for the time being, I would rather spend my money on a house than ballhawking trips as I have in the past.

Anyhow, my first two balls of the day came from Brandon Wood.  The first one was thrown to me from left field, but fell well short.  The ball rested on the warning track, where I glove tricked it for ball #1.

I usually do not use my glove trick during the Pirates batting practice.  I figure that if I am seen using the glove trick it will make the Pirates pitchers less likely to want to toss me a ball.  However, since many of the Pirates pitchers seem to dislike the fact that I am there every game, I just went for it.

Wood did not see me use the glove trick, and turned and threw a perfect strike to me for ball #2 at the end of the Pirates batting practice.

My third ball was glove tricked during the Phillies BP in left field, and my fourth ball was a clean catch of a home run here:

My fifth and final ball was glove tricked in right field.

It wasn’t any usual glove trick.  It was the first time I ever glove tricked a ball from a top the Clemente wall.

I spent the last twenty minutes in left field, but didn’t get anything.  It was just too crowded.

Here are today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 3 device)
Season:  167 balls (64 hit, 38 thrown, 41 device, 23 found)
Games: 27 games
Average:  6.19 balls per game
Career:  1,289 balls
Attendance: 33,861

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