I found this out when I walked over to buy two tickets and saw the regular security guards all set up and ready to go. Luckily, there were two lines, and the people that were there formed only one, so I started the second line.
I was first into the right field seats and had the place to myself for at least one or two full minutes, but there wasn’t a single ball to be found. Apparently there had been no early batting practice, possibly because a threat of thunderstorms existed a bit earlier in the afternoon.
After being shut out for more than a half our, and growing more irritated by my choice to come to Cleveland by the minute, I eventually snagged a home run in the second row – in front of the fan wearing the Choo jersey:
My second ball was hit by a random Indian into the trees in center field, and I ran over and grabbed it without needing the Cleveland Stick.
Another ball just missed going into the trees in Heritage Park, bouncing off of the railing and landing in the bullpen, right up against the wall. Here I am snagging it with the glove trick for ball #3:
My 4th and final ball of the day was a clean catch in center field from an unidentified Royal, but it ended a rash of close calls and ridiculous miscues. I had a ball deflected by a fan two rows in front of me, that cost me a clean catch and hit me square in the knee – a ball that I actually kicked away from myself when I was just about to pick it up – a guy dive on the ground and snatch a ball in a scrum leaving my finger bloodied, an overthrow from Joaquin Soria that was clearly intended for me but sailed three rows over me head, and multiple balls that were either a few rows short or too deep.
I considered four balls to be very poor for today, because of all the close calls.
Whatever, I was planning on going to Cleveland Saturday but am going to spend that time doing house stuff with Amy.
Game: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 device)
Season: 316 balls (136 hit, 67 thrown, 73 device, 40 found)
Games: 59 games
Career: 1,438 balls
I attended a game on Monday with Pittsburgh Ballhawk Nick Pelescak in Cleveland. We got there early and watched several Indians take early batting practice.
We watched and took notes on where nine or ten balls had landed, then watched in horror as a Progressive Field worker entered the stands with his blue lunch cooler. He acted like he was helping by throwing one ball back onto the field (with a very feminine, girly style) and kept the rest for himself.
After BP he left, and Nick and I caught up with him near Heritage Park, where you the only thing between the outside and the park is a large gate. I asked him for a ball and he obliged, but tossed it over my head. Before I could go and pick up the ball on the street behind me, Nick had quickly darted after the ball and grabbed it, so I was left to wait for the gates to open to try to snag a ball.
I found my first ball in center field, and then used the Cleveland Stick to snag ball #2:
(Video coming soon!)
Since there wasn’t much action on the field yet, I systematically went up and down every row, and eventually found ball #3 waiting for me in a seat, three rows back. There was a couple sitting in the row in front of it, completely oblivious to the ball that was tucked in the chair behind them.
My fifth ball was a glove trick ball from the visitor’s bullpen that I snagged at the end of Indians’ batting practice.
The Angels then came up. They were heavily right handed, and it showed in my stats. I got completely shut out the entire time, until 6PM rolled around when I ran over to left field and found ball #6 about twelve rows up, then caught a home run on the fly here:
At 6:03 the Angels ran off the field, bringing an end to batting practice.
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 2 device, 3 found)
Season: 312 balls (133 hit, 67 thrown, 72 device, 40 found)
Games: 58 games
Career: 1,434 balls
Batting practice on a Sunday? It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally it happens.
My day began at 7:20 AM, as I woke up extra early so I could go to the gym before heading to the ballpark. I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time with Amy as soon as batting practice ended.
Our due date is fast approaching. For fun, we offered our guesses on when our baby would be born. I picked July 26. Amy picked July 30th. The baby is due August 9. Neither of us think we’ll make it that far as our baby is measuring up to be a big baby.
The Pirates came out and stretched, and at exactly 11:30, batting practice got underway.
My first ball came rather quickly – it was a clean catch of a homer caught here:
Realizing that there wouldn’t be many home runs hit, (yesterday there were 3) – I made my way over to foul territory in right field and lined myself up behind the Cardinals pitchers, who had come out to warm up. There was virtually no one else around, as everyone stayed in left field trying to catch batted balls.
The strategy paid off as Trever Miller tossed me ball #2 on his way into the dugout,
For the last group, I went back to left field where I offered to glove trick a ball for a young fan. I had the ball in my glove when Euclides Rojas foiled the attempt by throwing his glove at mine, jarring the ball loose.
Rojas marched over and grabbed the ball, then something really weird happened.
He flipped me the ball.
It was the first time Rojas had ever acknowledged me, let alone toss me a ball.
Anyhow, true to my promise, immediately I handed the ball away to the young fan.
Batting practice had finished at noon, so I left too to be with Amy.
Game: 4 balls (1 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 305 balls (131 hit, 67 thrown, 70 device, 37 found)
Games: 57 games
Career: 1,427 balls
Attendance : 35,402
Allow me to preface this entry with some background information about today’s batting practice.
1) There were a total of 3 home runs hit to left field… TOTAL
2) Only half of the Cardinals took batting practice, and it was the scrubs – only 3 righties in the entire two groups that did hit.
3) The sun was glaringly intense.
That being said, I would need some luck today.
Upon entering the stadium, there were no balls to be found in the left field bleachers, so I headed over to foul territory down the left field line. I regretted it almost immediately as I saw a large group of people near the Pirates dugout, so surely any ball that had been hit into the seats in foul ground was long gone. I searched anyway, and came up empty. When I was leaving to return to left field, a Pirates batter lined a foul ball that landed in the seats near me. I grabbed it for ball #1. How lucky.
As I said, the Pirates disappointed mightily in batting practice, hitting three home runs. One was over my head, bounced off of a railing and down to another ballhawk who was playing the front row.
The other two home runs should’ve been clean catches by me. The first tipped off of my glove as I battled the sun, and the second I completely lost and was caught by someone else two rows behind me.
At the end of batting practice, Heberto Andrade, bullpen catcher and PNC ballhawks’ best friend (except mine, since he’s seen me change shirts) accidentally over tossed a young couple with a baby in the front row. I was standing behind them and caught it, #2 on the day. Herbie motioned for me to give it away, so I did. He then whistled to the ballboy to throw him one more ball, which I was certain was for me, since I had just given the previous one away. Nope, he threw it to a group of random fans to my right. Here he is, walking towards the foul ground where I snagged ball #1:
The entire Cardinals first group was left handed. So there was really nothing to do until 5:30 except for wait for a glove trick opportunity, which wouldn’t come because Jason Motte was behind a real ***. The highlight of this time period was when Nick Pelescak, frustrated that Motte ignored his polite request for a ball, started harrassing Motte. Every time Motte would misplay a ball he was heckled and called a bum. Motte kept glaring into the crowd, but whatever. There’s nothing wrong with an opposing fan heckling a player tastefully – what made it funny was that Nick was in full Cardinals gear – heckling a Cardinals player.
Anyhow, at 5:30 I ran into center field to search for baseballs, as I noticed the ushers hadn’t come out to take them all yet. I found ball #3 in the third row in center field, and ball #4 in section 139.
Ball #4 was rather important because it was #300 on the season.
A minute later, holding ball #3 and #4 in my hand, I made a clean catch of a home run here:
Not sure who hit it, but at 5:33, the Cardinals ran off of the field, cutting way short their BP. There was no Lance Berkman, no Matt Holliday, and no Albert Pujols.
I was really lucky to even come away with five.
The Pirates would go on to lose the game 9-1 as they threw this lineup out there:
3B Chase D’Arnaud .227
SS Ronny Cedeno .252, .311 on base percentage
2B Neil Walker
CF Andrew McCutchen
RF Steve Pearce
LF Matt Diaz .355 slugging, ZERO home runs from a corner outfield
1B Brandon Wood .217
C Michael McKenry .606 OPS
If you’re not from Pittsburgh, you’re obviously not impressed. The Pirates really need to get a bat, but at what price? I don’t see Neal Huntingdon trading away any of our top prospects for what he sees as a 2 month rental player.
I’d really like to see Pedro Alvarez called up, and Carlos Pena (20 homers) traded for.
We’ll see, the trade deadline is just a week away.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 found)
Season: 301 balls (130 hit, 64 thrown, 70 device, 37 found)
Games: 56 games
Career: 1,423 balls
Attendance : 39,102 (sellout)
It seemed to be a really nice day today, until a pop up thunderstorm hit at 4:30.
I had been down on the riverwalk waiting for home runs to bounce out, since the Pirates had been hitting when it started pouring. By the time Amy and I got back up to the center field gate, we were soaked.
Amy had to work, so I told her goodbye, that I was going to leave and come back at the end of the game to pick her up.
Then I changed my mind. I was hoping on finding a few balls in the bleachers since the Pirates had been hitting. And, I made it to the bleachers at least sixty seconds before any other ballhawk, as there was a group of people between myself and the next closest ballhawk. It didn’t matter. Any balls that were in the bleachers had been there were long gone, and of course there was no batting practice, despite it being really nice once the gates opened.
I watched closely as the Cardinals warmed up in right field.
I watched closely as the Cardinals warmed up in right field. I watched as Lance Lynn overthrew his thowing partner and the ball ended up in the seats. His partner let the ball go, and the ushers didn’t seem to notice it, so I just kept my eye on that spot until 5:30 rolled around.
In the meantime, Herbie Andrade hooked up every single person that asked for a ball except for me. He hates me because I change shirts. Little did he know that everyone he gave a ball to does the same thing, so I was faced with ratting them out too, begging for a ball or moving on. I choose to just get the Lynn ball, so when the rest of the stadium opened I ran directly to where the ball should be, except it wasn’t where I saw it hit, it was actually in the handicapped section. So I hopped the railing and grabbed it for ball #1 here:
As for the game, the Pirates lost, thanks to an abysmal first inning.
And it was packed.
Around the seventh inning, I remembered that I had signed up for a catch on the field session tonight. I had totally forgotten about it and didn’t have a partner, so I asked Nick Pelescak if he wanted to do it. He agreed – so after the game, we were allowed on the field for a good twenty minutes to throw.
The Pirates reps gave me a ball to use – it wasn’t an MLB ball – it was a Rawlings ball with a Pirates logo on it. It felt like a training ball that the Washington Nationals use. I decided not to count it in my stats.
In the meantime, Amy punched out and returned to take a few videos of Nick and I throwing. So if you have a few minutes and want to watch them, here you go:
Me robbing home runs (That background music is God-awful):
Nick Pelescak robbing home runs:
Catch on the field #2:
Some long tossing from bullpen to near third base:
The last two minutes before we were told to leave:
Game: 1 ball (1 found)
Season: 296 balls (128 hit, 63 thrown, 70 device, 35 found)
Games: 55 games
Career: 1,418 balls
Attendance : 38,940 (sellout)
I’ve been a Pirates season ticket holder for five years now. 2006 was my first year. The Pirates attendance over the last five years has been pretty poor. Most folks in Pittsburgh had given up on the Pirates, but that has all changed. Everyone’s on the
There were 26,058 tonight – at a Tuesday night game! Last year on Tuesday July 20th, the Pirates drew 13,202 against the Brewers. (I snagged 9 balls at that game by the way) Attendance is doubled on weekdays now over last year!
Of course, it has a great deal to do with the Pirates being in sole possession of first place this late in the season for the first time since 1992.
ESPN has had the Pirates on their front page all day. Sportscenter is talking about them non stop. All of the local sports talk shows are covering them 24-7.
Welcome aboard yinzers. Just don’t go back to talking **** about the Pirates when the Steelers season comes around. I actually hate the Steelers and Penguins, due to the fickleness of Pittsburgh fans and how they all have turned on the Pirates and not stuck with them through the losing. Seriously, I root against the Steelers.
There’s nothing really to discuss from batting practice. When I entered, two balls landed near some ticket sellers that sit in left field. I watched as a man snatched the first one up, and then hurriedly rushed to get a second ball that hit in the bleachers that would’ve been all mine, as only Nick and I were in the bleachers at this point, and he was over by the bullpen. The ticket seller snatched up the ball and I just looked at him with a “Really???” look.
I then noticed that he had dropped his glasses when he rushed to deny me from getting that ball, and he didn’t know it.
So I smashed the glasses with a firm stomp of my right foot to take out my glasses.
I’m not that mean.
I picked up his glasses and walked up to him and said, “You dropped these when you ran over there to get that ball.” Surprised, he said, “Oh, here you can have it for being so nice.”
In the meantime, the Pirates left the field at 5:01. I’m not kidding, it might’ve been 5:00 exactly. One of the perks of being a season ticket holder is early entrance to see the Pirates take BP. Its not cool that they finish at 5:03 or thereabout every day now. Maybe someone should write a letter and have all the early entrance folks sign it. The purpose of the letter should be to have the Pirates open the Riverwalk and bleachers for early entrance at 4:30, just like they do on Saturday. Especially with the bigger crowds coming out. I’m sure Frank Coonelly would listen. He seems to be very sensible.
In the meantime, here was the scene at 5:04, as some Reds trickled out:
After another ballhawk ran over and caught a ball in front of my face that I was camped out under, I knew it was going to be a bad day. And it was.
I glove tricked two more balls during batting practice, bringing my total to three, and that was that. The Reds were very disappointing in terms of hitting homers in BP.
I hung out with Amy for awhile, and noticed a very respectful bird:
Sad, but that was the most exciting thing that happened in pre game.
As for the game, I sat and watched a few innings in Section 124.
It was packed everywhere. And it’s a Tuesday. This just doesn’t happen here.
I decided to take a break around the fourth inning and read the paper in peace. And then two guys started smoking near me. If you want to smoke, fine. Just don’t do it in a public place. Already annoyed after they were busted, this happened literally two minutes later:
What the ****?
Anyway, an inning or so later, I sat down to read the paper.
The front page was all about the bandwagoners flocking to PNC Park. That’s right. There were 13,000 bandwagon fans there tonight. Where were you all last year?
While I was reading a foul ball hit right here.
It literally hit right in front of my face against the screen. There was no chance to snag it because I was inside the scoreboard area. I just muttered, “Are you kidding me?” Shook my head, and kept reading. If that screen wasn’t there it would’ve hit me in my left shoulder.
In the 9th, I was in the bleacher area to see my best friend Joel Hanrahan come into the game.
(Hanrahan dislikes me, I know as much after he rolled his eyes after seeing me in Milwaukee in May)
The Pirates won to increase their lead in the division over the Cardinals, who lost to the Mets.
After the game I happened to be in the suite level. Check out the new water fountains they are installing at PNC Park:
I always thought the Let’s Go Bucs, Let’s Go Green was a sham. A marketing ploy. A pat themselves on the back kind of thing – but it’s not. The Pirates are actually helping reduce waste by installing these fountains. Hopefully they’ll be at a section near you soon.
You just hold your bottle under the spigot and a steady strong stream of water fills the bottle up quickly. No holding in any buttons.
After filling up three water bottles, Amy and I hit the road.
Game: 3 balls (1 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 295 balls (128 hit, 63 thrown, 70 device, 34 found)
Games: 54 games
Career: 1,417 balls
Attendance : 26,058 (on a Tuesday!)
I was ready to get back into ballhawking this homestand, however, a rain cloud moved by the stadium.
There was some lightning off in the distance, but it never rained.
So, of course, the tarp came out and BP was over before the gates opened.
The ushers had picked up every ball from the Pirates BP. Every one.
I walked around and asked some ushers if they had found any baseballs, hoping they’d give me one.
The Reds came out and threw, but they wrapped it up for the most part before 5:30, when the rest of the stadium opened.
I had a good spot for the lone ball still in play at 5:30, but Bronson Arroyo tossed it to a 14 year old who appeared out of nowhere right next to me, and called out for it at the exact right time.
At least there was good music playing.
It eventually did rain, a bit after 6 PM, which would’ve given both teams more than enough time to hit.
That was the first rain delay.
There was a second delay in the first inning
My strategy was to ask Heberto Andrade for a ball between innings. Andrade warms up outfielders in between innings, and then takes the balls back in with him to the bullpen. Pirates outfielders don’t throw up balls every inning like the used to thanks to what happened a couple weeks ago in Texas.
Andrade turned me down every time.
How many times should you ask a player for a ball? It gets old. Its stupid. Andrade hates me because he saw me in opposing teams uniforms. Twice. The first was with Diamondbacks gear in early June, and then about 10 days later he saw me in Cleveland with Indians gear on and shouted ‘What the f***!” I haven’t gotten a ball from him since, but he has made sure to hook up fellow ballhawk Nick with a ball almost every day, almost to punish me for changing uniforms. I guess he’s never seen Nick change.
I gave up on Andrade and just waited until the end of the game. I have a very special person that could hook me up, and I just needed to wait for her to wrap up at her post. After she disappeared into PNC Park she emerged with a ball.
Game: 1 ball1 (1 thrown)
Season: 292 balls (128 hit, 62 thrown, 68 device, 34 found)
Games: 53 games
Career: 1,414 balls
Attendance : 22,016
Amy had a medical scare and it ended with us staying overnight in the hospital on Monday night.
I slept in a chair next to her bed, it was so uncomfortable, but she said I slept like a baby. It helped that our baby’s heart beat echoed throughout the room all night. It had a rather soothing effect.
The doctor came in the next morning and said everything was fine, but ordered another ultra sound to check up on the baby and see how close she is to being born.
We had that ultrasound today, and she weighs 6 lbs 15 oz right now (1 oz under 7 lbs) and they are projecting her to be born July 28, which is much earlier than the August 15 date that our doctor gave us at the last check up.
My guess is the baby will be born on July 26th.
Anyway, the technician was taken aback by how much hair she has. She said that it was making it difficult to get an accurate reading on her head size.
It’s time to start getting excited, she could come at any time.
She also really had a nice grip on her umbilical cord:
She’s going to be an athlete. Amy said she was getting ready to play baseball soon, practicing her grip to get ready to grip the bat.
They also had the technology to use 3D imaging to show us our baby. Here’s what it looked like. Remember, any slight movements will distort the imaging, so these aren’t 100% accurate, but give you a pretty good idea:
Check out those fingers. The technician said she had long fingers. She takes after me I guess.
If you’ve never seen an ultrasound video, they’re pretty cool. Here’s a 2D one of her: Keep in mind that she’s laying on her left side, and her face is pressed up against the womb, but you can see her moving her mouth, and opening her eyes. We also watched her practicing breathing. So cool.
She’s got Amy’s nice big lips.
And, a 3D video:
What’s the record for the youngest fan ever to snag a major league baseball? I wonder if she’ll break it…
The Pirates are just a game out of first place. Thus, another sell out crowd today, aided by the fact that there was a skyblast show after the game.
There’s not much to speak of for this entry. I only planned on staying for batting practice and then getting out of there to be with Amy.
Upon entering, a ball landed in the upper bleachers. At this point, only Nick and Zac were in the left field bleachers, and I just happened to be the closest to the staircase when it hit, so I ran up and grabbed it for ball #1.
I made a clean catch a bit later for ball #2 – not sure exactly who hit it. Some Cub. Who knows?
While watching the Cubs, trapped in left field (because the rest of the stadium doesn’t open until 5:30), I watched Carlos Pena, Koyie Hill and others litter the right field wall with home runs. I was hoping to run over and pick some up, but like clockwork, at 5:22, ushers appeared and took all the balls.
They missed one however. Carlos Pena had hit one that hit the chain link fence at the top of the wall and disappeared.
When I ran in to look, it was still there, in the row behind the last row of seats, wedged between concrete and the seats.
That was it for batting practice.
I went for a run later on that night and ended up badly spraining my ankle afterwards. What luck.
Game: 3 balls (3 hit)
Season: 291 balls (128 hit, 61 thrown, 68 device, 34 found)
Games: 52 games
Average: 5.60 balls per game
Career: 1,413 balls
Attendance : 39,235
In case you missed it, a fan died this week at Rangers Ballpark trying to catch an outfield tossup ball from Josh Hamilton. His death will impact the ballhawking community at PNC Park, because Andrew McCutchen will no longer throw balls into the stands in between innings.
This year, McCutchen has thrown me five balls.
Andrew McCutchen has thrown me more balls (25) than any other player. I do believe that all of those balls have come in between innings. The second player on the list, Chris Perez, has only thrown me 11.
On mygameballs.com, McCutchen is in first place for the most balls thrown by a player (61), only Heberto Andrade (62) has thrown more balls to fans, but he’s a bullpen catcher.
From the Tribune Review:
Pirates CF McCutchen changes approach after Texas tragedy
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Game-used baseballs at PNC Park just became a little more rare.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said he will limit the baseballs he throws into the stands following a fan’s death in Texas on Thursday night.
“Sorry, fans,” he said. “I’m not going to do that. It’s better safe than sorry now.”
Shannon Stone, 39, of Brownwood, Texas, died after falling about 20 feet while reaching to catch a baseball tossed into the stands by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.
McCutchen frequently tosses souvenir baseballs into the right-center field seats, whether after long-tossing with another outfielder between innings or following a third out in center field.
“We are all guilty of throwing balls into the stands,” McCutchen said. “I throw balls in the stands every inning.”
On Friday, McCutchen threw the long-toss balls into the Pirates bullpen before the Cubs batted. Before the game, he said he was reluctant to take the chance of throwing a ball into the stands unless it’s a short, underhanded toss to a nearby fan.
“If there’s a ball caught, and I make the third out and I’m right by the warning track, and I can underhand it to somebody, other than that, I’m just not going to do it,” he said.
The outfield walls at PNC Park are six feet tall in left, 10 feet in center and 21 feet in right.
McCutchen said he doesn’t put fans in position to reach over the 10-foot wall in right-center field because he always throws the ball a couple rows deep to avoid it dropping back onto the field.
“I never try to throw it in the front,” he said. “A lot of people, they don’t catch it. It falls, and you have to go get it again. But I was never thinking about somebody falling over. Now you have to think about that.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle reminded his players yesterday to stay fan-friendly with the souvenir baseballs but to remain conscious of the possible risks after the “unbelievably tragic accident” at Rangers Ballpark.
“I would encourage them if they want to throw a ball away, please do it and throw it underhand and keep it in the lower bowl,” Hurdle said.
Max Baker, 52, sitting in Section 139 behind the right-center field wall, understood McCutchen’s concerns but said he was willing to take his chances getting a freebie game-used baseball.
“He’s been doing it for years,” Baker said.
Jason Earnesty, 25, who was sitting in Section 140, said the fans at PNC Park are close enough that McCutchen shouldn’t worry.
“I don’t think it’s much of an issue,” he said. “You don’t have that big fall.”
During Thursday’s incident in the Athletics-Rangers game, a foul ball bounced into left field, and Hamilton, last year’s AL MVP, flipped it toward the stands. Stone reached over the waist-high railing for the ball and tumbled head-first into the gap between the stands and the back of the 14-foot left-field wall.
Stone, a firefighter attending the game with his 6-year-old son, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
It was the second fatal fall at an MLB ballpark this year. A 27-year-old man died at a Rockies game in late May while trying to slide down a staircase railing. He fell about 20 feet and struck his head on concrete.
Hurdle witnessed a near-tragic fall at Rangers Ballpark last year when he was the Rangers’ hitting coach. A man reaching for a foul ball fell 30 feet from the second level to the first. He suffered a fractured skull and a sprained ankle.
“It just makes you more cautious,” McCutchen said. “Instead of not caring as much where you are throwing it, now you really have to think about where you are throwing the ball, if you are going to toss it up there.”