Results tagged ‘ Batting Practice ’

5-2-09 PNC Park

100_1095.jpgToday was fireworks and Polish night, so I wasn’t sure how crowded it would be.  Luckily, only 22,891 came out, so batting practice was fairly sparse for a Saturday.

I got into line at 3:30 (an hour before the gates were to open), and was the 8th person in the stadium.  I was the third one into the bleachers.  There were 2 easter eggs, but another ballhawk got them first.

About 10 minutes or so passed with no action.  I noticed a ball roll directly to the fence where the stands jut out towards the foul line in left field.  I decided to vacate my spot and go grab the ball.  I ran up the escalator to the main concourse, and then down the stairs and reached over the fence and grabbed ball #1.  Then, I immediately went back to the bleachers.  I snapped this picture when I returned to the bleacher area to illustrate where the ball was.  (The small yellow X)
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 64 balls (26 hit, 31 thrown, 7 device)
Games:  13 games (11 with BP, 2 without)
Average:  4.92 balls per game
Career:  230 balls
Average:  22,891

5-1-09 PNC Park

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After a six day lay off to get better after my 4/25 ankle injury, I got back into action today.  I arrived at the gates at 4:10 or so, and was 3rd in line.

When the gates opened, I ran into the bleachers and immediately found ball #1, laying in the front row of section 138.  I walked around in each section before turning my attention to the action on the field, and found another Easter egg in Section 136 about 5 rows back, it was ball #2

The Pirates were hitting for about 10 more minutes, and then the Reds were going to hit.  Near the end of the Pirates portion of Batting Practice, Karstens threw a ball to a kid about 6 rows back.  Either the throw was a little off, and the kid completely missed the ball.  It ricocheted right to me, ball #3.  I was then faced with the choice of keeping the ball, or giving it to the kid.  I decided to be charitable and glove flipped the ball to the kid, who thanked me.

The Reds then came out to hit.  At the end of the Pirates portion of batting practice, a Pirate had thrown a ball into the crowd that someone misplayed.  The ball was laying on the edge of the warning track.  I didn’t even think about doing the glove trick, because it was directly in the sight line of a security guard. 

I changed into my Reds gear, and stood in the front row directly in front of the ball, and waited.  Jerry Hairston came over to left center field.

He walked over, and without hesitation flipped me ball #4.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  8 Balls (4 hit, 4 thrown)
Season:  58 Balls (23 hit, 29 thrown, 6 device)
Games:  12 Games (10 with BP, 2 without)
Average:  4.83 Balls per Game
Career:  224 Balls
Attendance:  14,238

4-24-09 Progressive Field

I kicked off this weekend with the last of my April games.  I had wanted to snag 60 balls this month, but in retrospect, that’s probably unreachable.

I went to Cleveland with one goal:  snag a Minnesota Twins’ HHH Metrodome final season ball.  It was the first time I’d been back to Cleveland since August 2008.

I got the stadium, almost an hour early, so I took some pictures.
100_0934.jpgA closer look at one of the commemoratives:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 Balls (2 hit, 4 thrown)
Season:  48 Balls (17 hit, 25 thrown, 6 device)
Games:  10 Games (8 with BP, 2 without)
Average:  4.80 Balls per Game
Career:  214 Balls
Attendance: 20,215

4-17-09 PNC Park

I was hoping to have a huge day today since the Penguins had a playoff game.  Sure enough, batting practice was pretty empty, but I didn’t have a stand out day.

My wife and I arrive at the park at 4:05 PM and were second in line.  I went into batting practice and looked for Easter Eggs, but there were none.  There were a couple ushers standing around and they must’ve picked up anything that came out.  I settled into my spot in left field and waited. 

An unidentified Pirate hit a deep fly ball.  He hit it right into the sun, but I was able to catch it on the fly… barely.  It almost went over my head.  Nonetheless, I had ball #1 of the day. 

Nyjer Morgan was shagging balls in the outfield and I called his name, he looked at me and tossed a ball, but it was headed for some random guy with a Pantera hat on.  The guy was holding a calendar and didn’t have a glove and looked out of place at batting practice.  He reached for the ball and missed it.  I picked the ball up on the deflection.  It was ball #2.  He kind of gave me a look like he expected me to give it to him, but I didn’t.  Since I called for Nyjer to throw the ball, I felt like I earned it, plus he didn’t have a glove and wasn’t prepared.

The Pirates portion of batting practice ended and the Braves came out to hit.  They weren’t hitting anything deep.  To make matters worse, batting practice looked like this:
100_0766.jpgI had so much room to roam and chase down home runs, but none were coming.  One finally did come out, but I misjudged the ball and it was over my head.  If I had been one row deeper I would have caught the ball.  I slammed my glove in disgust and muttered to myself.

I tried to chase down some other fly balls, but everything ended up falling short of the fence.  It was one of those days.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 Balls
Season:  20 Balls
Games:  5 Games (4 with batting practice, 1 without)
Average:  4.00 Balls per game
Career:  186 Balls
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4-15-09 PNC Park

I was faced with the decision today of attending the Pirate game or skipping it.  This is the weather forecast as of 1PM. 

weather.jpgBatting practice would surely be canceled.  I may get shut out for the first time since Sunday August 31st, 2008.  I decided that since I am now in a competitive ballhawk league, that I had to go and at least try.  I knew that my average balls per game would probably take a hit.

I went with my wife Holly and we arrived at the gates around 4:40 PM.  The gates open during the week at 5 PM.  Walking past the Stargell statue, I peered into the park and saw that sure enough, the tarp was covering the field.  There was no batting practice today.

I entered the bleacher section at 5 PM and looked around for some Easter Eggs.  There was nothing to be found, since it had been raining and drizzling all day long.  Around 5:20, the Pirates pitchers came out to stretch.  I followed a group of 6 other ballhawks up the escalator to go into the seating bowl to possibly catch an overthrow.  Usually there are security guards that don’t permit entrance until 5:30, but there were none around.  When we got to the front row right behind Matt Capps, Tyler Yates and company, a field security guard walked over and told us to go back to left field.  Even though it was 5:24, he wouldn’t let us stay.

Meanwhile, the Astros pitchers came out to stretch.  I decided that I might have a better chance getting a ball from them since there was a couple little kids and four high school kids watching the Pirates pitchers.

I decided to take the chance.  I took off my Pirates sweatshirt exposing my black Astros shirt and donned my Houston hat and headed over to right field.

I lined myself up behind Russ Ortiz and Geoff Geary.  I was the only one in the stands behind the Astros pitchers.  I had 20 feet to my left and right without a soul in sight.    There were 4 balls in play, as 8 pitchers were throwing.   Jeff Fulchino finished his tosses and had a ball.  I asked him for the ball and he made eye contact with me.  He didn’t say anything, but went and talked to a fellow pitcher.   A couple minutes later, Fulchino tossed me ball #1

There were still 3 balls in play.  Wesley Wright finished his tosses and gave his ball to a fan a little further down the line.  It was a 10 year old kid wearing Pirate gear.  Tim Byrdak was joking around and told the kid that he wasn’t done with the ball yet and to toss it back.  The kid just stared at Byrdak confused and horrified.  Byrdak urged him to toss the ball back.  The kid then turned and ran away.  It was rather amusing.

Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins finished their tossing next.  I asked for the ball.  Again, I was the only fan with Astros gear on, so Valverde looked at me and tossed me ball #2.  There was one ball left and it was being used by Geoff Geary and Russ Ortiz.  I snapped a picture on my cell phone.
0415091753.jpgThe Pirates got some good relief work from their bullpen and ended up losing the game 4-1.  Adam LaRoche accounted for the Pirates only run with a Home Run in the 9th inning.  It was too little too late. 

I tried to get a ball at the dugout after the game from an umpire and the Pirates pitchers, but failed to do so. 

As I was ready to leave, I decided to walk around for a minute and collect a ticket stub or two.  I notice in Section 124, about four rows back, a circular white object laying on the ground.  Seriously?  Could this be a ball?  Since I waited for the bullpen coach to come in, it took some time and the stadium was basically vacant.  I looked closer and sure enough, it was a major league baseball.  How did this get here?  Was it some little kid who didn’t really even care about it?  Did someone catch it and it trickled out of their glove during the game?  It was weird.  I looked around and didn’t see anyone looking for a ball.  There were only a half dozen fans left, waiting down at the dugout.  So, I picked the ball up, making it ball #4 of the day.    Usually, Easter Eggs that are found count as hit balls, but since there was no batting practice on this day, and it didn’t look like a game ball, I decided it was probably someone’s warm up ball.  I’ll chalk it up under the thrown category.

I’m glad I went to the game despite the rain. 

Here’s a look at today’s results: ( the media guide was free for being a season ticket holder.  The bobblehead was won at a spin-a-wheel g
ame where they are giving away all of the left over promotions from 2008)
100_0757.jpgAnd a closer look at those Astros balls.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 Balls (4 thrown)
Season: 17 Balls (7 hit, 8 thrown, 2 device)
Games:  4 Games (3 with BP, 1 without)
Average:  4.25 Balls per Game
Career:  183 Balls
Hit List:  183 ties me with former Pirate Chris Duffy for #3769  on the all time hit list.
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4-13-09 PNC Park : Home Opener

100_0696.jpgToday was PNC Park’s Opening Day.  I went today with my wife Holly.  We got to the gates around 10:30 AM, and waited in line for a half hour.  When the gates opened, I rushed in and was the 6th one into the left field bleachers.

Things were a little dry at first.  Eventually, two balls were hit and Ian Snell came to the fence to get them.  I asked him for a ball and he flipped one over his head without looking to me.  It was ball #1 of the day.  Luckily, for the first 30 minutes, only season ticket holders are permitted into batting practice, so I had plenty of room to roam.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 13 balls (7 hit, 4 thrown, 2 device)
Games: 3   (3 with BP, 0 without)
Average:   4.33
Career:  179 balls
Hit List:  179 ties me with Willy Aybar for #3809 all time.
Attendance: 38,411.
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4-12-09 Great American Ball Park

Happy Easter everyone! 

My friend Joe and I went to Great American Ball Park today. 
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It was an afternoon game, so I was worried that batting practice would be canceled.  We waited in line for about 10 minutes to get in.  At 11:40, when the gates opened, I rushed to left field.  The Pirates were taking batting practice!

I was the first one there, but the stadium ushers must have picked up all of the Easter Eggs, because there were none to be found.  Yesterday’s starter Paul Maholm was alone in left field.  I shouted to him to congratulate him on his great start yesterday.  I then asked for a ball.  He looked up and threw me a ball.  His aim was off and it was wide and to my left.  It tipped off my glove and landed a row behind me.  Luckily, there was still no one around, so I turned around and picked it up.  It was ball #1.  I asked Matt Capps, John Grabow, and Tyler Yates for balls in left center field, but was ignored.  I didn’t feel like pestering them, so I found an open aisle about 6 rows back that wasn’t being blocked by those long railings I mentioned in Friday’s entry.

Freddy Sanchez soon launched a deep fly ball to left.  It was right at me, in the center of the section.  However, it was sailing over my head.  I hate it when this happens.  I don’t have latitudinal range, and get stuck.  It happens often at PNC Park.  The ball landed about 5 rows back, so I had to climb over the chairs to beat some Reds fan there by a split second.  It was ball #2.

Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss’ group was coming up next, so we moved over to right field. 
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STATISTICS:
Game: 5 balls  (3 hit, 2 thrown)
Season:  8 balls  (5 hit, 3 thrown)
Average:  4.0 balls/game (8 balls/2 games)
Career: 174 balls

Hit List:  174 hits ties Ozzie Virgil for #3855 all time.
Attendance: 12,876 (30.6% full)
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4-11-09 Great American Ball Park

I attended today’s game with my best friend from my childhood days, Joe Filipowski.  We got to the gates about 10 minutes before they were to open.  I hate how the gates don’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch.  At 11:40, we were finally let inside.  The Pirates were already in mid batting practice. 

I checked for Easter eggs in left field, but there was nothing there.  With some of the Pirates better hitters coming up and being left handed, we headed over to right field.  I was shocked at how amazingly rude the Pirates were towards their own fans.  I got totally ignored by Zach Duke, Jesse Chavez, Craig Monroe, Eric Hinske, Brandon Moss, and Donnie Veal in right field.  I asked each of them for a ball on more than one occasion, but was ignored.  The irritating part was that they were giving balls to little kids with Reds gear on, even though I was completely decked out in Pirates gear, including their new alternate batting practice jersey.  It looked like it was going to be one of those days.

I decided to try and get a batted ball from one of the left handed power hitters.  Nate McLouth hit one, but it was over my head and some guy just barely beat me to it.  My friend Joe got the first ball of the day, but gave it away to a little kid.  Jesse Chavez pointed the kid out and tossed it to him several rows up, but the kid missed it.  Joe ended up catching up, but out of kindness gave it to the kid.  He later said he regretted giving it away, it being the first ball that he’d snagged since the 1994 Home Run Derby at Three Rivers Stadium.

Moments later, Brandon Moss launched a deep fly ball to right field.  I drifted over about 5 seats and camped out underneath it.  The ball landed squarely in my glove.  It was ball #1 of the day for me, and my first ball of 2009.  It’d been over 6 months since I last snagged a ball, so it was good to finally get one.  If you can find the #1 below, that’s the exact spot I snagged Moss’ Home Run.
41109 RF.jpgI didn’t take any pictures during batting practice because I felt like having my camera around my neck would be a distraction for me and make moving around a little tougher.  After Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss’s group hit, I decided to move to left field.   It would prove to be a little late because Andy LaRoche was absolutely raking balls into left field while we were in right.

I made my way over to where Matt Capps, Tyler Yates, and John Grabow were standing in left center field.  I asked several times for some balls, but was ignored by Yates.  At least Grabow looked at me, but decided to throw the ball into the bleachers instead.  I made eye contact with Capps.  He got a ball and pointed at me and tossed it.  Out of no where, a Reds fan dives in front of me and steals the ball before it reached me.  (I was in the second row, he was in the first).  Luckily, another ball was hit to Capps.  He turned around and made sure I caught this one, arching it perfectly.  It was ball #2 of the day.  

I then decided to move to the left field line where Ian Snell and Craig Hansen were hanging out.  Since catching a HR ball would prove tricky here, I decided to try and ask every Pirate I could for a ball.  I settled into the second row in one of the sections near the line.  I chose an empty row so I could somewhat move.  Moments later, Craig Monroe lauched a line drive in my direction.  I barely had to move.  There was some competition for the ball from some people in the front row, but since I am 6’5″, I was able to outreach them and made the snag for ball #3 on the day.    The below picture shows the exact locations of balls #2 and #3:
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3-30-09 McKechnie Field, Bradenton FL

My dad and I headed to our last Spring Training game on this short trip: Reds vs Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton FL. 
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We got to the field around 10:20 AM and the Pirates were already half way through their round of batting practice.  Luckily, we were once again able to access the spot behind the left field fence.  I was told by a guy on Saturday that during the week the area behind the fence was off limits.  He was wrong.
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FINAL SPRING TRAINING STATISTICS:
Total Balls: 9
Games Attended: 3
Average: 3.0
Hit: 6
Thrown: 2
Device: 1
Total Career Spring Training Balls: 9

Note: I do not count these balls in my totals.  They will be tracked in a separate category and I will not count them in my career ball totals.

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