8-7-11 PNC Park

I managed to make it to the final game of the homestand – a Sunday game which followed a night game.  I actually wasn’t even planning on staying – I had some extra tickets to sell, but of course I took my glove with me just in case.  Much to my surprise, when I arrived at 10:55 AM, the Pirates were on the field taking batting practice.  Also, the gates were to open at 11 AM, and I was the first one in line, despite my late arrival.  I guess most of the fans slept in after the late ending of the Train concert last night.

I had heard that manager Clint Hurdle cancelled batting practice on Saturday, despite perfect weather in an attempt to break the Pirates out of their losing streak.  That obviously didn’t work, as the Pirates flailed away at the plate on Saturday and mustered little offense.

So, on Sunday, he took the opposite approach and elected for BP.

Since the seating bowl doesn’t open until 11:30AM, all fans are confined to the riverwalk outfield concourse.  I watched batting practice from behind section 141 in hopes that Pedro Alvarez or Garrett Jones would hit one over the seats and onto the concourse.

It didn’t happen, and my several requests to Andrew McCutchen were met with eye rolls.  At first I thought, ‘wow, what’s your problem, its not like you have to sign autographs.’  I later found out that he had been benched for today’s game for being picked off the night before.

Around 11:08, there were already four easter eggs in the left field seats, and I was keeping an eye on all of them, noting the ones that weren’t picked up by the devious ushers.  Then, I noticed several fans rush into the left field bleachers and pick them up.  ‘Stupid guests,’ I thought, thinking that they had received early access guest passes from the Pirates front office.  I then noticed a steady trickle of fans, and the left field bleachers began to fill up.

I ditched my spot, and headed for left field.  The gates by the bullpen were wide open, and they weren’t supposed to be until 11:30 AM.

It worked out well, as I caught a home run on the fly in section 134.  It was a catch on the run, outstretched and back handed.

Then five minutes later, several security guards started yelling at everyone that they had to leave because someone wasn’t at their post, and we weren’t supposed to be there until 11:30.  It was about 11:18, so I was hoping that we could all just stay for 12 minutes, but it wasn’t to be.

They herded all the fans up like cattle, and slowly pushed us out.  You can see the security guard in the white shirt with yellow sleeves in the picture below.

At 11:30, I ran into foul territory and found ball #2 along the third base line.

I continued around the field and ended up in foul territory along the right field foul line, where I found ball #3.

While there I decided just to stay, as some of the Padres started trickling out.

Coach Jeff Bannister tossed me ball #4 in the right field corner.

And then I inconspicuously changed into my Padres gear.

The Padres pitchers started warming up, and there were only two fans along the right field line.  Me, decked in full Padres gear, and a random Pirate fan.  It seemed a no brainer that I would snag at least one more ball.

It happened as Tim Stauffer finished up his throws and tossed me ball #5.

Moments later, Ernesto Frieri tossed me ball #6.

And I snagged ball #7 when Josh Spence threw a wild pitch that his catching partner couldn’t scoop and ended up in the seats.  I offered the ball back, but they let me keep it.

At noon, all other gates to the stadium opened, and I tried my luck in left field, since the Padres are so heavily right handed, but it was so crowded that I could barely even move.

The Padres hit until 12:20, and as soon as they finished, I went home to be with my family.

Today’s seven baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 4 thrown, 2 found)
Season: 332 balls (140 hit, 72 thrown, 78 device, 42 found)
Games: 63 games
Career: 1,454 balls
Attendance: 35,601

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