Results tagged ‘ Brandon Moss ’

10-3-09 Great American Ballpark

My first game of the 2009 season was a Pirates vs Reds game at Great American Park.  I figured the best way to close the season was by making my final game of the 2009 season a Pirates vs Reds game at Great American Park.

I left my house around 11 AM, and arrived just before 4 PM.
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Unfortunately, the gates at Great American don’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch, so I would have to wait around until 5:40 to get in.  I was thinking, “I should’ve gone to Baltimore.”  (To see the Blue Jays vs Orioles).

I sat outside the center field gate, read the newspaper, checked scored on my phone, and waited for the gates to open.  While there, Cincinnati natives tried to engage me in conversations about the NFL and the Steelers, a subject that I didn’t really care to talk about at a baseball game.  Unlike most Pittsburghers, I’m pretty indifferent when it comes to the Steelers and Penguins. 

When the gates finally did open, I ran in and snapped a quick picture.
photo(511).jpgI had a whole TWENTY FIVE MINUTES of ballhawking.  No wonder I
didn’t do so well here earlier in the season (eight balls over two
games).

If I hadn’t had bought a ticket directly behind the Pirates dugout, I
may have left to get back to Pittsburgh at a decent hour.  Plus, 411
isn’t a great looking number to me.  I wanted to get one more ball.

I walked around the stadium and snapped a few more pictures:
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Before the game began, I got Andy LaRoche to toss me his warm up ball, except right before he was about to release it, he pump faked upon seeing a four year old girl with her glove up, two rows behind me.  He paused and pointed at the girl and underhanded the ball.  The ball floated two feet to my right.  I should’ve reached out and grabbed it, and given it to the girl, but I didnt.  I watched it float slowly by and land in the little girl’s glove.  I started kicking myself for not catching it – it would’ve been ball #7 of the day.

I would have to try and get a ball by some other means.

I had great seats to do it:
photo(521).jpgFront row behind the Pirates dugout/camera well.
photo(524).jpgI was just to the left of where the players entered/exited the Pirates dugout.
photo(522).jpgIt was a perfect spot to get a ball.

In the second inning, Pirates’ first baseman Garrett Jones tossed me ball #7 as he came off the field.  I was a bit disappointed that he had switched the warm up ball tossed by the coach with the game ball that he was bringing in towards the dugout. 

I watched in subsequent innings as he did the same thing.

With the Pirates trailing by a large margin, I left in the 6th inning to make the four and a half hour drive back to Pittsburgh.  I got home sometime after 1:30AM.

Was it worth the trip for 25 minutes of batting practice?  I’d say so.  I ended the season on a positive note, with seven balls, and 412 snagged during the 2009 season.

Coincidentally, 412 is also my telephone area code, which is somewhat cool.

Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (6 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  412 balls (217 hit, 125 thrown, 70 device)
Games: 81 games (10 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  5.09 balls per game
Career:  578 balls
Streak:  96 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  24,539

9-23-09 PNC Park

I missed Monday’s and Tuesday’s games due to prior commitments.  I was able to catch part of them on tv, and believe me, it was brutal.  The crowds were as sparse as I had ever seen.

On Tuesday, fellow ballhawk league member and PNC Park ballhawk league member Nick Pelescak went on a rampage.  He texted me to let me know that he had caught 11 balls during batting practice.  The recognized official PNC Park record was 13 – set by me, back on June 13th 2009.

As the night went on, Nick would get a toss up ball during the game from Andrew McCutchen and Brandon Moss.  It would come down to the players coming off of the field for Nick.  Fortunately for him, Tim Tschida tossed him a ball as he walked off the field, giving Nick Pelescak the new PNC Park ballhawk record of 14 balls snagged in one game.  After just three months, my name had been erased from the record book.

I was glad for Nick – and was more motivated than ever to do my best to get the record back.  Since about June 21st or so, around when the Indians/Pirates series began, I have put myself through a rigorous workout schedule.  Every other day I lift weights – on the off days, I run three miles.

Today, I would forego my fitness and wellbeing to stay for the entire game, and maybe, just maybe, get that record back.

Around 2:45 PM, it started to rain hard, so I was about 95% sure that batting practice would be cancelled.  At 3:30, I got a text from Nick saying the tarp was on the field.  I decided that maybe I could get three balls today from pitchers and what not – and that would be a good day.

I arrived at the stadium a little after 4 PM, and faced no traffic at all on the way in.  Pittsburgh is officially a ghost town for the next three days.  The G20 summit is here, and it has basically transformed Pittsburgh into a military state.

I went down to the riverwalk to wait for Brandon Moss, Garrett Jones, or Ryan Doumit to send one out of the stadium.  Usually, the riverwalk is bustling with people.  Typically, I am asked no less than 50 times, “What are you doing?  Trying to get a ball?  Do they ever come out here?  How many came out today?  What happens if it goes in the river?”

Today however,
photo(416).jpgGhost town.

There were military choppers flying over every so often. 
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And to my right.
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Lots of room to run.  Sometimes on Saturdays it can get quite crowded for BP, since there’s very few rows.  On days like this however – there’s plenty of room to roam.

I got ball #8 in Phillips’ next round of BP.  He launched a home run that hit half way up the rotunda facade.  Typically, I would just stand and watch the ball, since it was directly down the line.  Since no one was here, I ran over towards where the ball was going to hit – just in case of a crazy bounce.  The ball would take a huge hop off of the rotunda, and fall in Section 133, where it would roll slowly down the steps up against the green wall in the picture below.  I was able to pick it up. 
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It was about 5:45, and I had snagged 8 balls already…

However, I would get shut out for the rest of BP.  I made a bad choice on two consecutive groups.  I stayed in left field when there were two powerful lefties peppering the seats with homers.  Then, I went over to center field for the last group, but got shut out there as well.

I decided that my new goal would be to put up double digits.

I got ball #9 in the first inning from Andrew McCutchen.
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It was rather funny.  Andrew finished throwing with Brandon Moss and turned to throw the ball into the center field seats.  He stopped and laughed, almost as if he was thinking, “These guys again?”  It was basically us four ballhawks that he sees all the time.  He paused and looked at us, and then threw me the ball in Section 139.  He has probably seen me the least, since I don’t typically stick around for the games.

Speaking of center field, look how unbelievably empty it was?
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photo(425).jpgThank you G20 and the Pittsburgh Media for scaring everyone away from Pittsburgh.  And yes, those pictures were actually taken DURING the game!

I would try every inning for another warm up ball from an outfielder so I could record a double digit game.  In the second inning, Nick caught Moss’ warm up ball. 

In the third, I went back to center field, but changed my appearance, taking off my Pirates Tshirt and wearing my black under armor compression shirt.  I also put on some ugly visor I had won after BP.  I was hoping he wouldn’t recognize me and throw me another ball.  No luck. 

In the fourth, Moss threw his ball to an older ballhawk on the right field wall who misplayed it, and the ball bounced into a teenager’s hand. 

In the fifth, I tried again with my altered appearance, but McCutchen threw it to some girl. 

The sixth inning rolled around, and I was the only person that stood up for Moss when he looked for someone to throw it to.  It helped that there were maybe 20 people sitting on the entire right field wall.  After scanning the crowd, he tossed me ball #10.
photo(426).jpgThank you Brandon!

I kept playing for more toss up balls in every inning.  In the ninth, with my altered image, I was able to trick McCutchen into throwing me another one.  I doubt he recognized that I was the same guy who he threw a ball to in the first inning.  He lobbed it up, and I took a few steps to my right and made the catch.  It was ball #11.

After catching each warm up ball, I switched the ball with an extra ball I had brought from home.  In the past, I had been given guff by ushers or non friendly season ticket holders for catching too many outfield warm up balls.  Now, I make sure that I hand the “decoy” balls to a little kid right in front of an usher or supervisors.  I’m hoping they’ll think, “That guy’s alright.”  I’ve got a whole box of them at home.  They are balls given to me by friends who agreed in the past to pay for their tickets to games with the balls they’ve caught.  Those balls obviously aren’t marked and don’t count in my stats.  Their sole purpose is to use to give away.

After getting McCutchen’s warm up ball, smoothing keeping it in my glove, while slipping the decoy ball out of my pocket and tossing it to a kid, I left the outfield with Nick to go to the dugout area.  On our way towards the main concourse we were stopped by a kind usher.  He told me something along the lines about how nice it was that I gave a ball to a kid and offered me a ball.  Of course I took it.  It counts.  An usher is a paid employee of the Pirates, not a fan, and balls given away by ushers, trainers, security guards count.  It was ball #12.  He told me that he had retrieved the ball from center field earlier and that it had gotten soaked when it rained earlier this morning.  The ball was certainly heavy, so I put it in my bag, and will hold off on numbering it until it dries out.

Nick was with me and noted, “You’re only two away now.”

I would need a miracle.

Enter Jayson Nix.

I sat down in the box seats and waited for the game to end.

My view (notice how utterly vacant the outfield seats are.)
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The view to my left.

And to my right.
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Plenty of room to run.

Nix would foul off a 1-0 pitch from Virgil Vazquez that would land in an aisle of the Lexus Club seats.
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As soon as the ball was hit, I was off.    The ball bounced off the concrete, and took a high hop in the air.  I was closing in on the ball and reached out and caught the ball out of the air.  It was my first career foul ball, and my first game ball of 2009. 

Not only that, but it was my 13th ball of the game.

Even more, it was my 200th hit ball snagged of 2009.

Guess what else?  Remember Nick Pelescak?  Guess who hit his first career foul ball which he caught earlier in the season?  Yeah, Laynce Nix.  And who’s PNC Park single ball record was I chasing?  Nick Pelescak’s.  Somehow fate had taken over.

Here’s a shot from Reds TV of where the ball landed.  I’m wearing the black under armor shirt with my hat on backwards:
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And a shot from FSN Pittsburgh, as I’m reaching out to make the catch:
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I just needed to get a ball from Bob Davidson, and I would have my name back in the PNC Park record book, sharing Nick’s record.

The Pirates would go on to lose the game, and I tried my best to get Davidson to toss me a ball.  He looked directly at me, but tossed four balls to other kids. 

I quickly ran over to the Pirates dugout to try and get a ball from someone.

Didn’t happen.

I waited for the Pirates bullpen pitchers to come in.  Only Matt Capps had a ball, and he tossed it to a little kid.

All of the players had exited the field. 

All of the fans had left the stadium. 

A security guard came over and told me I had to leave.  However, I noticed that Herbie Andrade, the bullpen catcher, still hadn’t come in.  I bargained with the security guard to just let me wait for “that player,” and then I would be gone.

Herbie walked slowly in, lugging a huge bag of equipment over one shoulder, and carrying another burdonsome bag in the other. 

The entire stadium was basically empty now, except for me (standing in the front row above the tunnel), and Nick, who was standing a few rows behind me.

Herbie probably wondered, “What the F is wrong with these guys?” 

I felt awkward, so I spoke to him in Spanish.

“Tienes algunas pelotas extras para mi, Herbie?”

He paused and fumbled around with the bags.  Noticing that he was going to give me a ball, I continued, “Muchisimas Gracias.  Eres el hombre.”

He the tossed me ball #14.  I bid him farewell with, “Hasta manana.”  Seriously, Herbie is an awesome guy.

My friend Nick couldn’t believe my luck.  Within 1 inning, from the beginning of the 9th to the end of the game, I had snagged four balls.

I wanted one more shot at snagging a ball.  There was only one place to go.

Outside to the tall grass that was buzzing with insects.

I searched.
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I stomped around hoping to step on a ball.
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I continued to search.
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After about 10 minutes of searching, fearing I would be arrested as a suspected g20 terrorist, and feeling bugs crawling on my legs, I relented.

Did the thought of jumping into the river and swimming 17 feet down, feeling around for a ball, and grabbing it to get 15 for the night cross my mind? Yes.

Did I jump in the river and actually try it?  No.

Nick and I would share the PNC Park record of 14. 

Here’s today’s PNC Park record tying and personal best baseballs:
photo(436).jpgAnd the sweet spots:  (the usher ball is not numbered yet because it is soaked):
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And a look at my first career foul ball snagged, and first game ball of 2009:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  14 balls (8 hit, 6 thrown)
Season:  375 balls (200 hit, 112 thrown, 63 device)
Games: 76 games (8 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.93 balls per game
Career:  541 balls
Streak:  91 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  15,980 (couldn’t have been more than 2,000-3,000 that actually showed)
Race for 400 in 2009:  Need 25 in 5 games,  5.0 per game (This could be do-able…)

8-19-09 PNC Park

I could’ve taken my choice of going to Cleveland, or staying in Pittsburgh today.  The weather in Cleveland was forecast to be very nice, with a 5% chance of rain.  Pittsburgh was predicted to have a 50% chance.  I had to make a decision where I was going by 1 PM.  After that time passed, I wouldn’t be able to make it to Cleveland by 3:30, thereby leaving me with PNC Park as my only option.

At 12:45 PM, this was the hourly weather forecast.  It looked like there may have been a chance to at least get some BP in.  I figured I’d save the gas and take the chance.

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Wow, were they ever wrong.

It started pouring around 2:30ish, and didn’t stop.
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McCutchen looked into the “crowd,”  locked onto my location, and tossed a ball in my direction.  The ball was coming in high.  I had to jump up to make the catch.  It was ball #1.  My
streak had been preserved and extended.  What a relief. 

I spent the rest of the night going back and forth from right field to left field to center field (on occasion), trying to get another warm up ball.

Brandon Moss picked me out in the 6th inning and threw a ball right at me.  The ball was intended for me.  However, some random guy without a glove came running across the row and intercepted the ball.  There was nothing I could do.  Here he is:
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Who sits like that at a baseball game anyway?

After the game was over (the Pirates won – finishing a sweep of the Brewers), I went down to the dugout.  There, I watched the umpire toss a ball to a kid, which he dropped (the ball fell to the tunnel below and disappeared).  Then, the umpire tossed a second ball to the same kid, which he also dropped down into the tunnel.  What a waste.  Luckily for Butterfingers, Bob Davidson came along and got one of the balls out of the tunnel and handed it to him.

I ended up with one ball, but did meet two readers of this blog after the game.  I had noticed them prior to the game with their gloves and roster complete with player numbers and thinking, “They’re more prepared than I am.”  I asked if they had snagged any balls on the day, and gave a ball away (one of the extras I bring from home) to one of the girls who had been shut out.  There’s nothing worse than trying for a ball all day and coming up empty. 

Here’s the McCutchen ball:
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Which I somehow managed to screw up and number off-center.  Argh.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  1 ball (1 thrown)
Season:  294 balls (151 hit, 90 thrown, 53 device)
Games: 62 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.74 balls per game
Career:  460 balls
Streak:  77 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  12,630

6-30-09 PNC Park

Today was a bounce back day for me.  After nearly being shut out yesterday, I got on the board quickly today.

Within the first 30 seconds of being in the park, I had a ball.   Upon entering the bleacher area, I checked in the general admission bleachers (upper bleachers).  Balls rarely go up there, but every now and then a power hitter will reach them, or a ball will bounce on the concrete and settle up there.

I ran up the steps and found ball #1 waiting for me in the front row.

I got ball #2 off the bat of Jason Jaramillo, who was hitting right handed.  He hit a high fly ball to my right.  I ran over a section, but lost the ball in the sun momentarily.  The ball landed on a bleacher and settled near my feet, and I was able to reach down and quickly grab it.

Ball #3 came from Brandon Moss.  He fielded a ball and looked to the bleachers.  I held my glove up, and he fired the ball at me. 

The Pirates wrapped up their portion of batting practice a bit early.  There was a ball up against the outfield wall that I was waiting to use the glove trick on.  I wasn’t going to do the trick with the Pirates in the field, because they all recognize me by now, and I don’t want to look greedy.  Luckily, the Pirates jogged off the field, leaving the ball at the wall.  I sprang into action and reeled in ball #4 with the glove trick.

The Cubs came out to hit, and Alfonso Soriano began shagging in left field. 
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Luckily, he was only focused on the balls that a coach was hitting him, and didn’t bother himself with any BP balls hit his way.  A Cubs batter hit a line drive that trickled to the edge of the warning track.  It was glove trickable, but not without drawing lots of attention to myself from throwing my glove a good 15 feet or more out onto the field.  I decided to let it go. 

Then, a grounds keeper walked by and kicked the ball to the base of the wall.  “Maybe they’ll toss it up to one of yinz,” he said. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season:  224 balls (117 hit, 75 thrown, 32 device)
Games:  45 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.98 balls per game
Career:  390 balls
Attendance:  17,054

6-12-09 PNC Park

Today was game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals featuring the Penguins vs the Detroit Red Wings.  Unfortunately, all the fans that weren’t able to get tickets to the game in Detroit seemingly decided to take the the 5 hour trip to see this baseball game.  There were Detroit fans everywhere.  Many of them were probably making the pilgrimage to see PNC Park for the first time, since its an interleague game, its not often that the Tigers come to Pittsburgh.

If today was a test of my ballhawking abilities, I would’ve failed.  Despite being the first one into the bleacher area, I didn’t notice an Easter Egg that was right in front of my friggin face, I had two home run balls pop out of my glove, and I half heartedly went after a ball that ended up bouncing over the fence and skipped past my glove by about two feet.  Had I actually gone for the ball, it would’ve been an easy catch.  4 balls – botched.

I did get one ball during the Pirates portion of batting practice.  Craig Monroe hit a home run to my left that I could tell was going to be way over my head.  I ran to my right and up the stairs under the bleachers.  The ball bounced and hit off the concourse roof and settled near a garbage can.  I reached down and grabbed ball #1.

Ball #2 came from an unknown Tigers batter.  It was a deep fly ball that bounced on the warning track and right into my glove 4 rows back.    I received a couple awkward high fives from Detroit fans, “That’s how we roll in Detroit,” some guy said.  He must have thought I was from Detroit on account of my Tigers hat and shirt.

After misplaying two balls, I caught a Miguel Cabrera home run on the fly in the second row of section 136.  I made sure that I squeezed ball #3 so it wouldn’t pop out.

That was all I got during batting practice.  It was becoming annoying crowded.
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To make matters worse, Andy Van Slyke was messing around the entire batting practice with the pitchers.   He was hitting deep fly balls to the wall so that the pitchers could leap and make home run robbing catches.  He must’ve hit 20 balls into the crowd.  I’ve never seen anything so stupid and dangerous.  Edwin Jackson, Joel Zumaya, and Dontrelle Willis were all taking turns risking their bodies and careers by jumping against the fence and robbing these home runs. 

I tried to catch one for about 5 minutes, but I was too annoyed because it was real crowded around the area that Van Slyke was hitting to (left center field, near the bullpen).  I was waiting for one of the pitchers to twist an ankle.

It was distracting because it was almost as if two batting practices were occurring simultaneously. 

After batting practice ended, I didn’t get another ball until the 4th inning.

I sat on the right field wall for the first four innings. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 Balls (3 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  161 Balls (72 hit, 66 thrown, 24 device)
Games:  32 games (4 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:    5.03 Balls per Game
Career:  327 Balls
Attendance:   18,369

5-12-09 PNC Park

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The sweetspots:
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STATISTICS:
Balls:  9 Balls (4 hit, 4 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 107 Balls (47 hit, 48 thrown, 12 device)
Games:  19 Games (16 with BP, 3 without)
Average:  5.63 Balls per Game
Career:  273 Balls
Attendance:  11,718

5-4-09 PNC Park

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Throughout the day, I thought for sure that batting practice would be canceled.  It was raining this morning when I left for work.  Raining when I went to lunch.  Raining when I left work.  Drizzling when I left for the game.  So, imagine my surprise when I walked past the left field gates and saw the screens and cage being set up.  (The Pirates needed the extra BP after not hitting a home run in more than a week and getting shut out yesterday).

Upon entering the stadium, there was one Easter Egg ball, but another ballhawk got to it first.  The Pirates portion of batting practice was slow for me.  I got ball #1 when Jason Jaramillo tossed me a baseball before the Pirates finished up at 5:15.  Jaramillo was very gracious to all three regular ballhawks in attendance, hooking us each up with a ball.

The Brewers then came out and hit.
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Maybe I should’ve tried for foul balls during the game?

A few action shows:

Paul Maholm deals:
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Gallardo throws a pitch:
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After Matt Capps blew the save and gave up 4 runs in the 9th, I went to the Pirates dugout.  (the Pirates lost their SIXTEENTH game in a row to the Brewers).

I usually get shut out at the dugout, having only received one ball there this year before today.  The umpire, Bob Davidson came off the field and tossed me a really nice rubbed up game ball.  Ball #7

Not a bad night after all.

Here’s today’s balls:
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And the sweet spots: (the 4th ball from the pitcher in center had MVP written on it)
The umpire ball is at the front and center.
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STATISTICS:
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 5 thrown)
Season:   74 balls (28 hit, 39 thrown, 7 device)
Games:  15 games (12 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 4.93 balls per game
Career:  240 balls
Attendance:  8,482

5-3-09 PNC Park

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It rained for most of the morning in Pittsburgh, in fact, it was still raining when I arrived at the ballpark at 11 AM.  This could mean only one thing:  no batting practice.  I was faced with possibly being shut out for the first time since August 2008. 

When the stadium opened the gates to the seating areas at 11:30, I went over to the left field foul line.  The rain had subsided.  Several bullpen pitchers from the Pirates were warming up.  I placed myself behind John Grabow and Ross Ohlendorf and waited for an overthrow.
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Directly to me.  I didn’t even have to move. 
Its not like he randomly tossed the ball up and I got into a scrum and stole the ball away from ticketed patrons.  He usually picks out people.  I caught the ball, waved thanks, turned and left the section.  I could hear some snooty lady and her rotund husband getting on the usher.  “He doesn’t have a ticket.  He shouldn’t be allowed to do that.  Don’t let him back in here. Check his ticket.”  Blah blah blah.

I went over to left field for the fourth inning to try and get a warm up ball from Nyjer.  I avoided the right field seats thanks to the afore mentioned rudest-usher-in-PNC-Park.

Left Field has a lot more sections and people, so I had very little chance.  The ball went to a group of people near the foul pole.

Inning 5.  I went back to center field.  I stood at the far edge of Section 140, away from the snotty lady.  I looked over and they were both staring directly at me.  I stared right back at them. I should’ve walked over and offered their spoiled kid a ball.  “Excuse me, would you like a ball? ….. Then bring a glove!” and walk away.    That’s what I felt like doing, I was in such a bad mood.

I didn’t get the 5th inning ball because it was tossed to the second row.  Predictably, the ball fell back onto the field.  The same thing happened in the seventh inning.  That’s why Nate prefers to throw the ball deep. 

Anyway, the miserable family got on the usher again after the fifth inning because 3 of us ballhawks entered the section.  The usher came over and told me that I wasn’t allowed to try for warm up balls anymore.  He said come back and try tomorrow when there’s different people around.   He told Nick and Bryan the same thing.  If you’re wondering, here’s what those “folks” looked like:
100_1122.jpg(To be civil, I am editing this paragraph from what I originally wrote.  I’ve taken out most of the colorful adjectives I originally had written.)  Its the guy eating, his son, and the lady in the orange.
100_1126.jpgI could’ve tried in the seventh and ninth, but out of respect for the ushers, I went and sat behind the Reds dugout to see if I could get some foul balls.  There are nice ushers at PNC Park, the ones in center field were just doing their job because the supervisor somehow got involved.

I didn’t get any foul balls, and I got shut out at the Reds dugout, so my day ended on a sour note.

To make it worse, the Pirates looked awful again, getting shut out.  They haven’t hit a home run now in a week. 

Adam LaRoche’s body language tells the whole story:
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A few shots from the game:
Johnny Cueto deals to Nyjer Morgan:
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Evan Meek (a big Dave Matthews Band fan):
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Jesse Chavez (tossed me my first ball of the day:
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Today’s baseballs:
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And the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (3 thrown)
Season:  67 balls (26 hit, 34 thrown, 7 device)
Games:  14 games (11 with BP, 3 without)
Average:  4.79 balls per game
Career:  233 balls
Attendance: 13,670

4-21-09 PNC Park

I had several things working in my favor today. 

1)  The Penguins had a playoff game at the same time the Pirates had their game today.  This would lead to drastically reduced attendance figures.
2)  The weather forecast was menacing.  With dark clouds and some rain showers moving through around 4 PM.  Rain tends to keep folks at home also.
3)  It was a weekday game.  The Pirates do not draw on well on weekday night games.
4)  There was only one other decent ballhawk in attendance.
5)  I had plenty of space in my backpack.

I got to the stadium around 4:15PM and was second in line.  When the gates opened, I was the second into the bleachers.  I went over to my spot in left center field and hoped for a home run to come.  A Pirates batter drove a ball to left center field.  There were maybe four people there for the first ten minutes, so I ranged far to my left towards the bullpen.  The ball skipped off the bullpen wall.  Oh well.  I walked back and looked down.  I saw a speck of white under a bleacher.  A ball was lying tucked up against the concrete step and a bleacher support.  It was well hidden, but not anymore.  I reached down and picked up ball #1.

Craig Monroe was the next batter.  He hit a drive to deep left center.  The ball hit off a bleacher and bounced back onto the field.  Matt Capps walked over and picked it up.  I called out for the ball and Capps flipped it to me.  I had ball #2, and #199 of my career.

The Pirates ended their BP at 5:10.  I had two balls after 10 minutes.  Not bad.  The Marlins came out to take Batting Practice.  I changed into the Marlins gear that I wore yesterday.    Coach Bo Porter came out with a bat and started hitting line drives off the wall so Brett Carroll could get a read on how to play the richochets.    Bo’s second hit was a hard line drive that cleared the wall.  It literally almost took out two ushers who were standing in the aisle cleaning the water off the seats.  I didn’t get that ball, but moved over to the spot that Bo was hitting the ball so I could snag one if he hit it over the wall again.  Porter started hitting hard grounders at the wall, wary of what he had just done minutes early.  After Porter and Carroll were done playing balls off the wall, I asked Brett Carroll for the ball.  He briefly glanced at me and saw my Marlins gear and tossed me ball #3, and #200 of my ballhawking career.

The first group of Marlins weren’t hitting many home runs, so I tried to get some more baseballs from the pitchers.  I received ball #4 from an unidentified Marlin.
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Can anyone help me out?  I got his attention and asked for the ball.  He looked at me and waved.  I asked him one more time for the ball in case he didn’t hear the first time.  He then flipped the ball up to me.

Another ball rolled to the wall and Renyel Pinto walked over to pick it up.
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I made my way over to the bullpen area.  There was a ball laying in the Pirates bullpen.  It was directly below me, about 5 feet out from the wall.  The ball was laying in a groove of dirt between the grass and a green carpet walkway.  It was in an indention of about maybe an inch or less.  I wanted to try the glove trick but I didn’t want to struggle with it.  It would’ve been hard to bat the ball closer to the wall with the glov
e to begin with because of the groove it was in.  Also, the main security office is directly behind the bullpen with large windows.  I felt I was being watched.  I didn’t want to risk it so I waited for someone to come out to the bullpen.  I waited for about 20 minutes until finally Jason Jaramillo and Joe Kerrigan came out to remove the bullpen tarp and get ready for Jeff Karsten’s warm up.  I asked Jaramillo first for the ball, but was ignored.  I then asked Joe Kerrigan and he picked the ball up, looked up to see who asked, and flipped me the ball.  It was ball #8 on the day, and a new personal one day record for me.

I decided to try for double digits, and stadium domination.  I asked John Baker for his warm up ball in center field before the game, but I don’t think he heard me.

The game then began.  I stood in center field for most of the game.  My plan was to try and get the outfielders’ warm up balls.

This was my view.  (picture was taken in about the 4th inning – notice the empty seats!)
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Before the first inning began, I found a fairly empty section in center field and stood with my glove ready, awaiting Nate McLouth’s warm up ball.
100_0916.jpgWhen he was done tossing with Brandon Moss, Nate turned and threw me his warm up ball.  It was ball #9.

I continued to roam the outfield in hopes of catching a home run ball or another warm up ball.  I snapped a few more pictures of random things, like Pittsburgh at night.
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In the 4th inning, I decided to try for a Marlins warm up ball.

I walked over to this unknown pitcher
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and asked for a warm up ball when he was done throwing.  He looked at me, saw my Marlins T-shirt and threw me ball #10.  Reynel Pinto whistled at me and called me over to the bullpen. I thought he was going to scold me because I heard him telling someone earlier in batting practice, “You already got one!”  I walked over and talked to him through the chain link fence.

“Aren’t you cold man?”  He said.  I told him I was, but I’d be alright.  I wanted to show my Marlins shirt off.  “You’re crazy man, this weather is terrible.”  I thought about asking him for a Marlins bullpen jacket, but that would’ve been a ridiculous request.

I was now 1 ball away from the PNC Park record for most balls in one game (as known to me).  A ballhawk with initials MG got 11 balls on 9/20/08 last year, the last batting practice of the regular season.  I would’ve liked to tie or beat him, as I was getting dissed earlier in the day by the same ballhawk.

I went over to the right field wall in the 6th inning.
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It was Brandon Moss’ turn to throw.  He threw the ball to the cluster of fans seated to the left of the foul pole, near the top of the section.  None of them had a glove.  I was standing half way up in the second section to the left of the foul ball.  The ball hit off someone’s hands, and bounced two rows down and rolled right to my feet.  I picked it up for ball #11.

I didn’t get any more warm up balls, so come the 9th inning, I was forced to decide to go to the Marlins dugout, or the Pirates dugout.  I decided to try my luck at the Marlins dugout, since I had been shutout every single game this homestand at the Pirates’ one.  No luck.  The Marlins weren’t in the mood to toss anything up after losing their second consecutive game to the Pirates.

No matter.  I had set a new personal record for balls in one day, and bounced back from my 2 ball performance yesterday in a big way.

Some pictures of the balls:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  11 balls  (2 hit, 9 thrown)
Season:  42 balls (15 hit, 21 thrown, 6 device)
Games:   9 games (7 with BP, 2 without)
Average:    4.67 balls per game
Career:  208 balls
Attendance:  9,917

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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