September 2011

9-25-11 PNC Park

Today was my final game of the 2011 season at PNC Park.  I attended with Olivia and Amy, and unfortunately, there wasn’t any batting practice.

I was worried that I may get shut out because the Pirates players were to meet with fans at the gates, leaving me with just the Reds to get a ball off of.

At 11:30, when the main seating bowl opened, several Pirates were finishing some pre-game tossing before heading out to the gates to meet fans.

I was able to get Tony Watson’s attention as I stood about six rows deep and he fired me a strike for ball #1 when he was finished throwing.  Here he is a few seconds after tossing me a ball, walking towards some fans to sign autographs.

I’ve gotten a ball at all 78 games this season – thanks to Tony for extending that streak.

I then headed to the first base side and changed into my Reds gear as the Reds came out to stretch and throw.

When the Reds started throwing, I stood behind Matt Maloney and snagged two balls within a few minutes.

They were overthrows that I corralled here:

However, they were both given back to Maloney, as he needed them to warm up.  The first I tossed back, and the second I glove flipped to him.  He promised to give the ball back when he was done.

Even though I snagged two balls, it was the same ball on two different occasions, so I’m only going to count it as one ball.  I’ve seen lots of ballhawks count similar snags as two, even here at PNC Park, but that’s just padding your stats.  You can’t snag the same ball twice.  Period.  Even if you give it back and get it again.

Unfortunately, some teenager moved in and count another overthrow which took the ball that I was awaiting out of play.  It meant that my ball #2 was given away to someone else.  Oh well.  It goes down in my stats as a snag from Jeremy Horst, one of the least accurate long tossers in the league.

Horst, Maloney and Bill Bray were playing catch, so after Horst finished he left, and Maloney moved to the outfield side to throw at a distance of 60 feet to Bill Bray.

When he was done, he tossed me a ball as a thank you for giving back two baseballs to him.

Olivia was getting a little bit fussy, so we decided to leave before the game even started.  It’s been a long season, so rather than being at the ballpark until 4:30, we found some other stuff to do without 28,000 other people.

On the way out, these Pirates players were at the gate:

That’s Pedro Alvarez, Jared Hughes, Mark Strittmatter, Ray Searage, Jason Jaramillo, Ross Ohlendorf, and Jason Grilli from left to right.  We didn’t stop to talk or take pictures as there was a ridiculous line waiting to meet them.

Here are today’s baseballs: (only 2 pictured because one was given away)

Labels:

This will be my last game of the regular season.  As for playoff games, you may remember last year I attended a Division Series game in Cincinnati.   You’ll have to stay tuned to see if I attend any playoff games this year…

Statistics:
Game: 3 balls (3 thrown)
Season: 422 balls (175 hit, 95 thrown, 88 device, 57 found)
Games: 78 games
Average: 5.41 per game
Career: 1,544 balls
Attendance: 28,758

9-24-11 PNC Park

Today was the last night game of the year, and Steve Miller Band was playing a concert after the game, so there would be a sell-out crowd on hand tonight.  However, since there was some big cheerleading competition going on outside of PNC Park, there wasn’t a large crowd for most of batting practice.

I came into the game needing seven balls to get 418 and make my 2011 campaign a top 5 all time ballhawking season.  Sure, it isn’t any close to the 544 I snagged last year, but its a small consolation prize.

Things got off really slowly for me, and I only snagged one ball within the first half hour of batting practice.  That was a Pedro Alvarez opposite field home run that landed three rows back and took a giant hop into the upper bleachers, which I scrambled up the steps and grabbed.

My second ball of the day was glove tricked near the end of Pirates BP by the bullpen door.

Near the end of batting practice, things were going so poorly for me that I completely ditched left field and headed over into foul territory on the first base line as some Reds had come out to warm up.

There, I got who I think was Jared Burton to toss me ball #3 of the day after he finished his warm up tosses.

In the meantime, I noticed that Joey Votto was signing autographs near the dugout.  I never ever go for autographs – I got only one other one this year – Ryan Vogelsong – but I figured that this was a former MVP and that his autograph was worth something.  I got Votto to sign the sweet spot of a nice clean extra ball that I brought with me.

My fourth ball came a bit later as a pitcher airmailed Devin Mesoraco.  I picked it up and offered it back, by holding it up, but they already had a second ball and picked up immediately where they left off as if they never even lost the ball, so I put it away in my bookbag.

My fifth ball came from Edinson Volquez, sort of.  He caught the ball and rolled it towards the wall as if to get rid of it.  I walked over and reached far over the railing and grabbed it.  Then I held it up to see if Volquez or his teammates wanted it back.  They could’ve cared less, as they were talking.

At 5:30, I searched the right field wall for Easter Eggs and found one.

It was ball #6 of the day, and #417 of the season, tying Nick Pelescak’s 2010 mark.

I then returned to left field and got a toss up from Dave Sappelt.

He retrieved a ball from the wall and then tossed it up into the crowd.  I was in the second row, and it was right to me, just over the heads in the front row, much to the dismay of some 20 year old in the front row.

My 8th and final ball of the day was a clean catch of a Brandon Phillips home run ball.  I caught that one in the second row, and it caused some controversy with another fan.  The ball ticked off the fan in the McCutchen jersey’s glove and right into mine.  It sounded like a foul tip being caught by the catcher.

Well, he thought I robbed him, even though I was a row behind him, and he kept giving me sour looks throughout the rest of BP, and talking to his friends and gesturing in my direction.   Oh, and he’s not a little kid despite his tiny frame (its tough to tell from that pic)- he’s probably at least 20, and he already had a ball in his hand, so don’t feel bad.

In the meantime, batting practice had become too crowded to have much range.

I finished up with 8 baseballs, and then went back to spend the evening with my family.

Today’s baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 8 balls (2 hit, 4 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 419 balls (175 hit, 92 thrown, 88 device, 57 found)
Games: 77 games
Average: 5.44 per game
Career: 1,541 balls
Attendance: 37,388

9-23-11 PNC Park

This was the scene in PNC Park today:

It rained steadily all day, but let up around 3:30, which was good enough to wash out batting practice.

It definitely wasn’t a good day for ballhawks.  Before the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30, only one pair of pitchers threw.  That’s it.  It was Bronson Arroyo and another Reds player.  When they were done, they threw their baseballs into the stands – which were quickly retrieved and pocketed by ushers.

Luckily, an usher had found two baseballs in center field and tossed one to Ian Weir, who was closing in on his 100th lifetime baseball, and me.  The ball was soaked, but it didn’t matter – I was on the board.

There was a ball on the grass near the Reds dugout which was picked up by the head groundskeeper as the groundscrew took the tarp off the field.  It was obviously soaked.  He was pulling the tarp off of the infield with his co-workers and had the baseball in his other hand, looking at it.

Then he glanced up into the stands.

I was basically the only one around, and I was half way up in the lower seating bowl.  I held up my glove.  He threw the ball in my direction off balance, kind of like a third baseman throws a bunt that he is charging and picking up barehanded.

As a result the throw sailed over my head, but bounced right back to me and I caught it with my throwing hand.

The ball was soaked.  I didn’t care though.

I only stayed until 6PM.  I was content with two baseballs.  I only really came down to the stadium because I had 17 extra tickets and I just figured I’d get the shirts by getting the tickets scanned.  Plus, I wanted to go be with Amy and Olivia!

Here are today’s baseballs, soaked – they are staying in my garage:

Statistics:
Game: 2 balls (2 thrown)
Season: 411 balls (173 hit, 88 thrown, 87 device, 56 found)
Games: 76 games
Average: 5.41 per game
Career: 1,533 balls
Attendance: 23,642

9-22-11 Progressive Field

I decided to head to Cleveland after work today.  Originally, I would’ve liked to have attended yesterday’s too, but I wasn’t feeling well and fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak was already in Cleveland and reported a rained out batting practice on Wednesday.

I left work and drove to Cleveland and didn’t get there until 4:50 PM.  Batting practice had began at 4:30.  When I arrived, I had a few bad breaks and didn’t snag anything for the first twenty minutes I was there.  I didn’t even get to see the good Indians batters like Hafner, Thome, Santana or Sizemore.  I was regretting even going.  Why did I go?  Well, I wanted to move up another spot on this list and make my 2011 season a top 5 season.  By that I mean, the number of balls that I snagged would be fifth all time.

Last year I was the all time single season record holder with 544 before Zack Hample blew by me with a 30 stadium 130 game season.

Here’s the list:

My first ball of the day was a ball that bounced into the trees in Heritage Park.  I ran over and found the ball waiting just under the wall, so I reached in and grabbed it before an usher came rushing down and started looking for it as well.  I had already grabbed it, so I just left.  Since when do ushers try to get balls out of the trees in Heritage Park?

My second ball of the day was a nice catch that took some effort.  An Indians blasted a home run to my right.  I ran up about seven rows and cut across into an empty row and caught it on the fly backhanded here:

The White Sox BP typically sucks in Cleveland because they don’t have too many good lefties, and all fans are confined to right field until 6PM on weekdays.  Not a good combination.  However, I had some more luck.

I caught an Adam Dunn home run on the fly here:

I had to leap to make the catch, and there were two other ballhawks jostling for position on the ball a row or two back.

Ball #4 of the day was completely lucky and random.  Will Ohman fielded a ball near the wall and flipped it up over his shoulder without looking.  I was standing four rows deep right here:

And the ball was directly to me.  I didn’t have to budge an inch.  Later in BP, Ohman screamed at the crowd that he would get the balls on the field and keep them, and if they wanted a ball to catch a home run.  There were dozens and dozens of kids screaming ‘HERE HERE HERE’ on every ball that was hit to right field.  I can see why he was annoyed.  Even more annoying, is that it pretty much ruined it for everyone.  The White Sox pretty much completely stopped throwing balls into the crowd for the rest of BP.

My fifth ball of the day was glove tricked out of the Indians bullpen.  It was a home run hit by Adam Dunn that settled right below me.

Piece of cake.

At 6:00, I had thought about running over and getting a ball about 12 rows up in left field that all of the ushers had missed, but Nick Pelescak was going to be going for the same ball, so I decided to instead head into foul territory at 6.

There was some major competition there, as a big line of people, including several ballhawks rushed in to the seats.  In my haste, I dropped my Cleveland Stick.  I had a decided that I would run down and see if there’s any Easter Eggs, and then come back and grab it a minute later.

When I ran over I found ball #6.  It wasn’t just any ball though…  It was an Angels 50th Anniversary Commemorative Ball.  Rare.

And weird, since neither of the teams had recently played the Angels.  The White Sox played them last on August 24th.

I then went back to grab my Cleveland Stick but it was gone.  Someone had stolen it.  Or threw it away.  It was a terrible loss.  If you’re new to this blog, I use the Cleveland Stick to snag unreachable balls out of Heritage Park like this one:

Luckily today was my final game in Cleveland, so I’ll have a new device for next year.

After having no luck in left field, I made my way over to the White Sox dugout and waited for batting practice to be over.  I usually never do this, but I couldn’t pass it up.  Look how many White Sox fans were waiting to greet the team as they ran off the field:

Yeah.  None.

As a result, I got third base coach to toss me ball #7.  He’s about to duck into the dugout in the picture below (between the two fans):

After snagging my seventh ball, I left thereby closing the book on Cleveland for the 2011 season.

I made it home at exactly 9 PM and Amy and I watched the Season Premier of The Office.

Here’s today’s baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found, 1 device)
Season: 409 balls (173 hit, 86 thrown, 87 device, 56 found)
Games: 75 games
Average: 5.45 per game
Career: 1,531 balls
Attendance: 21,487

9-18-11 PNC Park On Field BP

As a benefit to being a season ticket holder, I was invited to take batting practice on the field at PNC Park on Sunday.  The Pirates were out of town, so the BP was with other fellow season ticket holders.  We we able to choose from Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  I chose Sunday during the Steeler game, because I was hoping that I would be in a really small group and get more time to hit in the batting cage.  That wouldn’t really be the case as other fans had the same mentality.

The bad part about going to PNC Park during a Steeler game is trying to find a place to park, and then walking to the stadium through the parking lots and dealing with drunk Steeler fans.  Two fans directed comments towards me and my Pirates gear.  The first fan said, “Dude, put the bats away, you’re scaring everyone!”  I think he may have been serious.

I brought my metal bats because I am most comfortable using my own bats, and secondly, the ball travels a bit further.  I wanted to put one out today.

Anyhow, the other comment directed toward me was some guy who asked his buddies three times if Daniel McCutchen had just walked past.

Maybe there’s some resemblance with the hair… I don’t know.  I hope not.

Anyway, after checking in at a table outside of PNC Park, we were led down onto the field.  Amy had come along to take some photos of the action.

The only problem is that there was no action.  My group was assigned to ‘catch in left field’ first.  We were supposed to play catch with our guest or snag balls.

I think I shagged two baseballs during the entire first group which lasted a half hour.

So.  Boring.

I started throwing myself popups I was so bored.  It was worse than a Pirates BP.

Eventually, Ian Weir showed up with his cousin Josh – two fellow ballhawks that I knew and would be able to throw some with.

We threw in left field for awhile.

Mixed in some popups and grounders.


And after a half hour, moved over to right field, where we would shag fly balls.

We got two fly balls, shot out of a pitching machine high into the air before we would rotate to the back of the line.

Piece

Of

Cake


I went six for six in snagging the fly balls, and then went over to loosen up before rotating into the cage.

It was better than the last group, where we basically stood around – at least there was somewhat of a challenge, albeit an easy one for someone that attends BP every day and catches flies all the time.

Anyhow, the pitching machine was pitching the balls, so I watched and tried to time when I should begin my stride after seeing the ball put into the machine.


After 10 minutes or so, we rotated into the cage.

Here I am on deck:

And here I am taking some cuts.



I only got 10 pitches, and was forced to change my bat after the first pitch.  “You can’t use a metal bat!!” shouted some teenage intern operating the pitching machine.  I was pretty mad because fellow season ticket holder Nick Pelescak informed me that he had been allowed to use his metal bat in his session just two hours earlier.  Lame.  How about some consistency?

Anyhow, I quickly grabbed a Ronny Paulino 35 inch 32 ounce wooden bat so I didn’t murder anyone with screamers off of my metal bat (by the way, no one was allowed in the infield anyhow – I still don’t see what the big deal was about).

Out of the 10 pitches I pulled everything, hit a couple flies, swung and missed at a few, hit some grounders, and hit one bomb that landed in foul territory that would’ve probably had a chance to clear the fence had I not been out in front of it.  It landed on the fly here:

I felt like Brandon Wood.  If you’ve watched him in Pirates BP, you know what I mean.

Anyhow, we were allowed to get back in the cage after everyone got 10 pitches.

We got 4 more pitches.

Blah.  I wanted more swings, but we were forced to leave at 2:30 to go eat lunch.

Before heading up to the concourse, I stopped in the dugout to mess around.


Then after eating a hamburger, we left and headed to the Pitt Campus in Oakland to go to Forbes Field’s home plate.

What was important about Forbes Field, well, Amy took me there on our first official date one year ago today.

Some pics from what’s left of Forbes Field:

At the 457 deepest part of the park:

Forbes Field Historical Marker:

Home Plate, which is in a lecture hall across the street from the outfield wall:

Two great close ups that Amy took of Olivia and I at the outfield wall of Forbes Field:

And:

Walking down some steps, I think it was 144 steps or something like that.  It was a lot.

I’m planning on going to Cleveland on Thursday after work…

9-17-11 Nationals Park

I wanted to attend a game this weekend, and I had to choose between Baltimore, Cincinnati and Washington.  My #1 choice was Baltimore, but I wasn’t able to secure a season ticket to get in early, so it wasn’t worth going.  Cincinnati was having a Johnny Bench ceremony and statue unveiling, and I was worried that batting practice may not occur because of it.  So, in consultation with Nick Pelescak, we headed to Washington DC.

Bad idea.

Gloomy skies and chilly air greeted Amy, Olivia, Nick and I when we arrived in Washington DC.
Nationals Park
To make matters worse, the Washington Nationals didn’t take batting practice, despite having a picnic in the park for season ticket holders.  Basically, they opened up the park for season ticket holders early and let them go wherever they wanted, except for the field.  You’d think that the season ticket holders would want to enjoy some batting practice.  But no.  The Nationals suck.  I hate Nationals Park, this was my fourth trip there this year, and its going to be the last one for awhile.

Luckily, I found a ball above the bullpens as I made my way over to foul territory.

In foul territory, I picked a spot about 20 rows back in the middle of a sea of empty sections and called out to Henry Rodriguez who threw me a ball.

It was my second of the day, but more importantly, it was my 400th of the season.  In 2009, I snagged 412 baseballs.  Last year, it was 544.  It marks the first time that any ballhawk had snagged at least 400+ baseballs three consecutive years, so it was a special ball.

Anyhow, the Marlins finally began to hit after I had walked around the park looking for Easter Eggs.

I didn’t find any more.

Anyhow, I spent most of batting practice in the center field seats in Center Field.  There’s only two small sections out there, but left field was annoyingly crowded.

Every row was pretty much blocked up, leaving no routes to home run balls.

Oh, I forgot to mention Stephen Strasburg was starting for the Nationals, bringing out 33,000+.

In the center field seats, I was decked out in my Gawd-awful Marlins teal, hoping to get a toss up ball.

After getting ignored by Burke Badenhop several times, I snagged a ground rule double for ball #3.  The ball was hit by a lefty, perhaps Logan Morrison, and it was juggled by two other fans, before falling into an empty row behind me, where I grabbed it.  This was the view of the field from the spot of the snag:

And here’s where I snagged it:


See, way less crowded there.

A bit later in batting practice, Sandy Rosario threw me ball #4 over the plexiglass separating the center field seats from the bullpen:

And, that was it for batting practice.

What a bust.  Nick and I, who have snagged over 2,600 between the two of us managed only six combined today.  Should’ve gone to Baltimore… or Cincinnati.

Goodbye Washington, I hope I don’t see you next year.

Today’s baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 4 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 402 balls (173 hit, 86 thrown, 87 device, 56 found)
Games: 74 games
Average: 5.43 per game
Career: 1,524 balls
Attendance: 33,247

9-13-11 PNC Park

There were two new bag checkers at the gate today and they made a huge fuss over the line.  First, they made us all back up 15 feet, and then the gate supervisor in white and yellow started getting sarcastic with Ian and Nick because they weren’t backed up an additional foot beyond his arbitrary line.

Anyhow, I got lucky and found three balls in left field today upon running in, and then quickly caught two home runs on the fly.  The first was running to my right here:

And the other home run was caught in the front row after I climbed over two bleachers here:

I looked up at the clock.  It was 5:01.  I have quickly snagged five balls within the first minute.  Surely I would reach double digits today.

After a few minutes of inactivity when a lefty was in the cage, I took a few minutes to write the numbers on those five balls before they got all confused.

With only myself, Ian Weir and Nick Pelescak actively competing for balls, and another low crowd, this were looking up.

However, I wouldn’t snag another ball for over an hour.

That’s how bad Cardinals BP was.

Since the Cardinals were so stingy with tossing up baseballs yesterday, when the Pirates left the field, I didn’t even bother changing into my Cardinals shirt.  I just threw on my Cardinals hat.

So, I made my way all over the place from 5:01-6:05 trying to snag balls.  Center Field, Right Field, Left Field.  I thought my streak of three games with at least 8 balls would be snapped.  However, in the last group, I made a clean catch of a Tony Cruz home run here:

The tracked down another one of his home runs under neath the Rotunda for ball #7.

Finally, in his last round of cuts, I made yet another clean catch of yet another Tony Cruz home run ball for ball #8.

After batting practice, Amy, Olivia and I made our way over to the All You Can Eat Seats.  I had never eaten there before, and since I was hungry I ate three hamburgers, a hot dog, and some popcorn before the game.

During the game we sat here:

But I didn’t come close to snagging anything else.

Here are today’s baseballs:

Oh, and after the game, my check engine light came on, putting in jeopardy my weekend trip unless I can find time to get it fixed between now and then.

Statistics:
Game: 8 balls (5 hit, 3 found)
Season: 398 balls (172 hit, 84 thrown, 87 device, 55 found)
Games: 73 games
Average: 5.45 per game
Career: 1,520 balls
Attendance: 16,544
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 3 (maybe 4 if I do an away game this weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 15 (5.0 per game)

9-12-11 PNC Park

Amy pointed out that I forgot to mention that we attended a Renaissance Festival over the weekend.  Here’s a picture from that.

Shooting arrows was the highlight because I was surprisingly good at it.  Anyone, this really doesn’t tie in at all, unless I made some weird caption like, “Erik Jabs aims for 413 as the season winds down, to break his 2nd best single season mark.”

The Cardinals are in town now and have been really stingy this year at tossing up baseballs, so I was going to need some luck today.

Upon running in, I spotted a ball in the front row.  I ran over to snag it when out of no where a ticket seller who works at the windows on the first base side of the Honus Wagner statue shot out of his chair in the handicapped seats and raced down and grabbed the ball.  He literally snatched it as I was closing in and not but five feet away from grabbing it.  Nick Pelescak was right there too and might have grabbed it also.  We both gave him a look like, “Are you serious?”  He said he was going to give it to a little kid (even though he had already been there since God knows when and had a whole bag full of baseballs that he had already picked up from the hour of batting practice when there were no fans in the stadium).  Nick started saying some stuff to him, and I’ll try and get his name and picture tomorrow.  Anyhow, that ball was kind of important because it would end up costing me my first double digit game since June.

I got my first ball of the day from Jason Jaramillo:

Then I went on a hit-ball snagging rampage from the end of the Pirates BP through the Cardinals BP.  Every ball I snagged the rest of the day was a batted ball.

I caught a Pirates home run as I walked up the bleachers one after the other and made a pretty difficult clean catch here:

When the Cardinals came out, I snagged two Matt Holliday home runs within 20 second of one another.  They may have been back to back.

One was a home run that landed on a staircase and stayed on the steps.  I scrambled up the steps and grabbed it with my bare hand as another ballhawk reached for it a split second late with his glove.

The next pitch a ball landed about twelve rows up into the upper bleachers.  I raced up and snagged it as a few other ballhawks raced after it

It happened up here:

Ok, I’ll admit those two snags were kind of lucky.

My fifth ball of the day was a home run that I picked up after it bounced off a bleacher.  A young ballhawk who was maybe 10 years old tried to rip it from my glove, so after I had possession of it I asked if he’d gotten a ball yet.  Nick Pelescak standing nearby said, “Yeah he got one already,” so the ultra aggressive young fan just walked away.  There was a lot of random non-regulars there getting lots of baseballs today.

Ball #6 was really ridiculously lucky.  A deep home run landed in the wheel chair section and as I was drifting over, it hit something and took a soft ricochet right at me.  I snagged it immediately in the air.  That was truly lucky.

I was later told by Nick that ball #6 was hit by Albert Pujols.

After spending an unsuccessful round in right field for a group of solely left handed hitters, I made my way back to left field and immediately snagged a ground rule double near the bullpen:

Immediately, I thought it would be pretty cool to get one more ball.  I had gotten 8 balls on Saturday and Sunday, and wanted to continue that streak to three games.

By the way, look how EMPTY it was at 6 o’clock!

Anyhhow, ball #8 happened when Tony Cruz launched a deep fly ball that sailed way over my head.  Realizing it was headed toward the rotunda.  I just turned and ran underneath the rotunda, and when it started bouncing around the concourse, I tracked it down for ball #8.

For good measure, Cruz lifted another home run at the very end of batting practice that I caught right behind this lady’s head.

Amy and I had club seats for today’s game, but I didn’t feel like staying, even though I was on 9 balls and only needed one more for double digits.  I sold the seats after we left the park, and then we went and got dinner and I went to the gym.  I felt it was a better usage of my time than running all over the ballpark trying for one more ball.  Plus, we plan on staying at tomorrow’s game as we have tickets in a section that I’ve never sat in before…

Here are today’s baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 9 balls (8 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 390 balls (167 hit, 84 thrown, 87 device, 52 found)
Games: 72 games
Average: 5.42 per game
Career: 1,512 balls
Attendance: 13,278
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 4 (maybe 5 if I do an away game next weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 23 (5.75 per game)

9-11-11 PNC Park #1,500

Sundays usually are rather uneventful.  Typically, there isn’t batting practice since its a day game that follows a night game.  However, today was another lucky Sunday at PNC Park – both teams would take a full batting practice.

For the first half hour, fans aren’t allowed to enter the seats.  For whatever stupid reasoning, season ticket holders are allowed in from Monday-Saturday, but not Sundays.  As a result, I stood behind section 141.

And got Ross Ohlendorf to toss me my first ball of the day.

Ohlendorf, a right handed pitcher, was wearing a glove on his right hand and throwing balls into the ball boy left handed.  His toss to me was left handed and it just barely cleared the gate.  Ross is the friendliest Pirates pitcher when it comes to toss-ups.  I really hope he gets his season turned around so he can get some positive momentum going into next year.

Ross tossed up another ball that was right to me, but it hit the gate.  An usher walked over and picked up the ball and pocketed it, right in front of six fans who were five feet from the ball.

Ridiculous.

At 11:30 when the stadium opened, rather than set up shop in left field, I went searching for easter eggs.

I found ball #2 in left field under a bleacher:

Ball #3 along the first base line in the handicapped seats:

And ball #4 a few feet away from my third ball.

I then realized that I was now on 1,499 career baseballs, so I made my way over to the Pirates dugout to try and get a player to toss me #1500.  If you read this blog regularly, you may recall my 1,000th ball came last year in Cleveland via the glove trick.

The last Pirates group contained Matt Hague, Gorkys Hernandez, Jason Jaramillo, and Pedro Ciriaco.  Once they finished their round, it marked the end of batting practice.  On his way into the dugout, I called out to Pedro Ciriaco and asked if he minded tossing me a ball that was directly in his path as he approached.  He obliged and flipped me a well worn filthy ball for #1,500.

Here it is:

After batting practice, Amy took this cheesy picture of me and the ball:

Anyhow, moments after I snagged that ball, the Marlins pitchers were finishing up their tosses down the right field line.  I threw on my Marlins gear and headed over.  It helped that I was *the* only fan there.  Not even were any Pirates fans asking for balls.  As a result, Clay Hensley threw me ball #6:

and Jose Ceda tossed me ball #7, even though he had seen me get one from Hensley.  “You already got one,” he said.  “Yes,” I replied, “it’s up to you if you want to give me another one.”  Ceda stared at me awkwardly for a moment then threw me the ball.

At 12:00 I headed back to left field and caught a ground rule double off the bat of Jose Lopez here for ball #8.

By the way, there was a special 9-11 logo painted onto the field.  Unless you’re under 10 years old, I’m sure we all remember where we were on September 11th 2001.  I was a junior in college at Washington & Jefferson and woke up hearing some bewilderment next door.  “Those are people jumping from that building!”  Someone was yelling.  I turned on the TV and watched it all unfold.

Today’s baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 8 balls (1 hit, 4 thrown, 3 found)
Season: 381 balls (159 hit, 83 thrown, 87 device, 52 found)
Games: 71 games
Career: 1,503 balls
Attendance: 19,071
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 5 (maybe 6 if I do an away game next weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 32 (6.4 per game)

9-10-11 PNC Park

It was a Saturday, so the gates open an extra half hour early.  However, I wasn’t able to take advantage of it, as I didn’t get to snag a ball until 4:50.  That was thrown by Alex Presley, pictured at right here:

My second ball of the day was a ground rule double that I snagged here:

A fan in the front row tried to knock it down, but they just slowed it down and it came right to me.

Ball #3 was a glove trick ball that I gave away to another ballhawk who hadn’t gotten one yet.

My fourth ball of the day was a clean catch of an Andrew McCutchen home run ball in section 136.  I had to get up on the bleacher to make the catch.

When the Marlins came out, I changed into my Marlins gear and caught a John Buck home run on the fly.

My sixth ball of the day was retrieved using the Cleveland Stick.  A ball had landed in the ivy on the ‘S’ in Pirates during the early portion of batting practice.  As soon as the rest of the stadium opened, I ran over and knocked it out with the Cleveland stick, and reached in with my hand to pick it up.  Pretty simple.

In the mean time, Burke Badenhop spotted me about eight rows back after I had snagged this ball and attempted to toss me a ball, but it ended up short.  I could’ve still gotten it, but a younger ballhawk ran by and caught it two rows in front of me.  Luckily, Badenhop had another ball in his back pocket that he tossed me for ball #7.  This time his throw was right on the money.

My final ball of the day was a towering home run hit by Mike Cameron.  I ran to my right, up some steps, and picked the only open row that was available to me and made the clean catch.  I had to manuever amongst these stationary fans:

I ended up catching it in the eighth row behind the guy in the gray shirt.

After BP I left, as Amy and Olivia were at home waiting for me.

Statistics:
Game: 8 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 373 balls (158 hit, 79 thrown, 87 device, 49 found)
Games: 70 games
Career: 1,495 balls
Attendance: 34,063
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 6
Needed to reach goal: 40 (6.7 per game)

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