Results tagged ‘ Brewers ’

5-20-2010 PNC Park

My first game of the week didn’t go so well.  I would come away with a decent number of balls, but I felt out of position on many balls and it seemed like there were at least a half dozen balls that I should’ve had that just bounced the wrong way.

Shortly after entering the stadium, I grabbed a ground rule double and was on the board.  Near the end of the Pirates portion of batting practice, Herbie Andrade, the Pirates bullpen catcher, began hitting us pop flies. 

However, he was hitting them backwards as he was facing the field.  It caused for the balls to have a vicious top spin that would carry the balls back toward the field.  One of his hits was a high fly that I camped under.  It should’ve been an extremely easy catch, but I underestimated the spin and completely missed it.  Embarrassing. 

Herbie’s final hit as he was walking off the field fell short of the stands and nestled up against the left field wall, so I glove tricked it for my second ball of the day.

When the Brewers came out, I got Mitch Stetter to toss me my third ball of the day.
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Stetter looked at me and said something to Marco Estrada, who turned and looked.  I figured that maybe they had seen me changing into Brewers gear under the bleachers.  However, he tossed me that ball I had mentioned a few moments later, so maybe he said, “Hey look, there’s an actual Brewers fan in spite of our 9 game losing streak,” rather than something sarcastic.

At 5:30, I found my fourth ball of the day in the center field stands, and it had a phrase on it.  It said, “Get R Done.”

The Brewers are known to write witty phrases on their balls every now and then.
Annoying, they kept reading them and passing them around to each other to read rather than toss them in the crowd.

I went right back to left field after finding my fourth ball and got a home run that landed in a large trash push cart underneath the Left Field Rotunda.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  122 balls (75 hit, 25 thrown, 9 device, 13 found)
Games: 17 games
Average:  7.18 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  700 balls
Streak:  113 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  13,975

4-21-10 PNC Park (Lightning Strikes Twice)

The day didn’t start off on the right foot, as I was a few minutes late to batting practice.  Fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak already had seven balls by the time I entered the stadium.  Amazing.

I had some work to do to catch up, as we began the week tied atop the standings of the Ballhawk League (BHL).

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge have been hitting in the last group of Pirates.  So, for the 10-15 minutes that we get to see the Pirates hit, at least there’s some right handed semi-power hitters in the group.

I got ball #1 off the bat of Andrew McCutchen.  It was a home run that landed in an empty section to my right that I ran over and grabbed.

Soon after, Lastings Milledge hit a ball onto the Rotunda that I ran up the ramp to snag as it slowly rolled down towards me.  That would be it for the Pirates portion.

Luckily, the Brewers have been good to me lately.  I changed into my Brewers gear.
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And then would get started on a nice roll in an empty park.
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“I’d better get my glove on,” I thought.  No less than seconds after I had my glove on my
hand, Duke delivered his second pitch of the game.  Weeks hit a slicing fly ball foul, directly at me.  I immediately stood up and went into ballhawk mode.  I took several steps to my left and made the clean catch on the fly.  It was my first foul ball since snagging my first last year on September 23, 2009.

Upon catching the ball I did a fist bump and a little bit of celebration, which must have caught the eye of Tim Neverett and Bob Walk, who commented on the catch.  It was also enough to get FSN to cut back to me.

Here’s the screen shot of me after catching the Week’s foul ball:

And even better:  The video

Someone in the Pirates brass must have seen the catch, because moments later I was approached by a Pirates representative with a mic in hand.  He introduced himself, congrulated me on my catch, and explained that he would like to invite me to be on the PNC Park game show “Know Your Buccos,” at the end of the second inning.

As instructed, I went over in the middle of the second and chatted with Joe Klimchak, who explained the game that I would be participating in.  Basically, four ‘fun’ facts about a Pirate are presented, and the participant must eliminate the false answer.

When we went live, Joe introduced me, telling the crowd about the foul ball I had just snagged, and explained how I could win the fabulous prize (a $65 Pirates sweatshirt.)

I had to figure out which of the following facts were false regarding Ronny Cedeno:
know your buccos 3.jpgI knew the Vizquel fact was probably true, given they are both Dominican.  I also figured that Old School sounded like a type of movie that a man of Cedeno’s age would enjoy.  I was torn between the First Job and the name of his cat.

I thought it over and just thought, “Who would name their cat Meow?”  “Come here Meow… that would just sound stupid.”  So I eliminated the cat named Meow.

After a few pressure filled seconds, it was revealed that Ronny does not have a cat named Meow, I had eliminated the false answer, and won the $65 jacket.
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If you’d like to check out a video of my Know Your Buccos spot, you can check out the youtube link below.

I went back to my seat and watched the rest of the game, glove in hand.

Lightning wouldn’t strike twice.  Would it?

Well it did.

Andrew McCutchen came up to bat in the fifth inning.
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He fouled off a pitch in the same spot as the Week’s foul ball.  I shot up out of my chair immediately when I saw the angle the ball took off the bat.  This time, the ball was dying on me.  It didn’t quite reach me, as it was about a row and a half ahead of me.  I reached down and got it to hit my glove and knocked it into the row directly below me.  I would liken the play to a catcher smothering a ball in the dirt.  The ball came to a dead stop and I picked up my second foul ball of the day.    Amazing.

That’s TWO foul balls in one game.

More FSN face time.

Here’s some more video proof for you:

Would I go on to catch my thirteenth ball of the night?  A third foul ball in the game?

It was certainly empty enough for it to happen, as the Pirates were getting blown out, and the weather had turned cold.
100_2610.jpgThere’s probably more fans at high school baseball games, but that’s Pittsburgh on week nights for you.  Low, low attendance, especially after 10PM, like it was in the picture above.

I would end the night with those two foul balls, a sweatshirt, twelve total balls snagged, and probably the best ballhawking performance of my career.

Here’s today’s baseballs:
Foul balls are in the lower right corner.
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And the sweet spots:
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And that sweat shirt:
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What a night.  What a two game stretch.

STATISTICS:
Game:  12 balls (10 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  51 balls (34 hit, 7 thrown, 6 device, 4 found)
Games: 8 games
Average:  6.38 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 2
Career:  629 balls
Streak:  104 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  12,192

2009 through 8 games: 31 (Currently I am 20 balls ahead of last year’s career high season pace)

4-20-10 PNC Park

I needed to rebound after driving 4 hours to Washington and only getting three balls, despite a full BP.  My redemption would come today.

I arrived at the stadium a few minutes before the gates opened.  Although there were no easter eggs that I could find, I did end up getting on the board rather quickly.

My first and second balls that I snagged were off the bat of Jason Jaramillo.  The first hit a bleacher, and I ran over and picked up, and the second was a ground rule double that bounced to me over the fence.

For whatever reason, Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge were hitting in the last group today.  Typically, the last group is reserved for light-hitting backups.  If this trend continues, it could be very good, considering there are very few folks at BP early, and both players have home run power.

Anyhow, that was it for Pirates BP.  Two balls.

The Brewers came out, and I was hoping for some action.  Unfortunately, most Brewers were wearing their warm up jerseys,
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so I couldn’t identify many batters, except for obvious ones like Prince Fielder, Craig Counsell or Corey Hart.

An unidentified Brewer hit a home run that disappeared onto the Rotunda. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  12 balls (8 hit, 3 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  39 balls (24 hit, 6 thrown, 5 device, 4 found)
Games: 7 games
Average:  5.57 balls per game
Career:  617 balls
Streak:  103 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  9,386

2009 through 7 games: 29 (Currently I am 10 balls ahead of last year’s career high season)

4-18-10 Nationals Park

It was a terrible weekend in terms of ballhawking for me.  I had to miss the Friday and Saturday games at PNC Park due to coaching.  I could’ve gone Saturday, but I wouldn’t have made the game until 8PM, thereby putting my streak in jeopardy, so I stayed home.

I decided to try and make up some ground by driving to Washington DC for this Sunday day game (after a day game.)
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I got to the stadium about a half hour before it was to open.  There was virtually no one there when I arrived.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (3 hit)
Season:  27 balls (16 hit, 3 thrown, 5 device, 3 found)
Games: 6 games
Average:  4.50 balls per game
Career:  605 balls
Streak:  102 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  18,789

2009 through 6 games: 26

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

8-18-09 PNC Park

Today started in the same place as yesterday.  I stood about a foot from the river’s edge and waited for balls to sail onto the outer concourse of PNC Park, and bounce towards the river.  Two other ballhawks, Nick and Bryan Pelescak, joined in the opportunity.  Yesterday, one ball came out.
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Today, there would also be just one ball that would exit the stadium.

I heard a crackling of branches to my left, and quickly looked to see a ball rolling towards the river.  Bryan was the closest to the spot, but wasn’t able to corral the ball before it rolled off of the walkway and into the Allegheny River.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (5 hit)
Season:  293 balls (151 hit, 89 thrown, 53 device)
Games: 61 games (6 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.80 balls per game
Career:  459 balls
Streak:  76 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  12,188

8-17-09 PNC Park

The Pirates were back in town today, facing the hated Brew-Crew.

This was my view from 4:15-4:55. 
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My friend Nick and I noticed a ballhawk running by who stands on the Riverwalk on a daily basis, waiting for home runs.  Since he does it regularly, he must have at least some luck out there.  (The guy stays out there the entire BP, even after the gates open).  So, with nothing better to do, we decided to join him.

There was indeed one ball that came out in the time we were there.  It bounced off of the concourse behind section 140, and went through the trees towards the river.  The guy ran over and made a nice backhanded pick of the ball, just before it skipped into the Allegheny River. 

Ballhawking on the Riverwalk is tough.  You have to be very patient, and extemely focused.  If you look away for a minute, or listen to a passerby’s comments, you’ll be distracted and miss a possible opportunity.

At one point, a photographer walked by and asked me what I was doing.  I told him that batting practice was going on, and we were waiting for a ball to come out.  He the proceeded to take pictures of the three of us ballhawks for the next fifteen minutes, from all angles.  He never asked permission, or told us if he was affiliated with any newspaper.   (I assumed he was with the Post Gazette or Tribune Review) In the picture below, you can see him sitting on the ground, snapping photos of Nick Pelescak.
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He threw me ball #3.  (It probably helped that I was the only fan in Brewers gear for the first 30 minutes).

One guy, who watched me get those balls tossed, made a few comments about how I “have all these shirts in the back of my car.”  I couldn’t tell if he was trying to make fun of me, or not, but he went on to say the same line about five more times throughout the day to people around him. 

I got ball #4 via the glove trick in left field.  I struggled with this one, probably taking almost two minutes to reel it in.  I had to first knock it closer, and then the rubber band wasn’t quite right.  I had to adjust it several times.  As the rubber band gets used, it becomes more stretchy, and needs adjusted differently.  I was almost foiled by Brewers coach Joe Crawford.  When I finally got the ball to stick in the glove, Crawford hurled his glove from about forty feet away, in an attempt to knock the ball out of my glove.  Luckily, I had just begun to pull the ball up, and it narrowly missed it.  He came over to get his glove, and had a huge smile on his face.  “This wall is too low here.  Its too easy for you guys to do that.”

A little while later, I caught ball #5 on the fly.  It was a can of corn.  However, Jody Gerut watched me make the catch, and immediately started screaming at me from left field.  “That’s TWO for you now. Do the right thing!”  I nodded.  He screamed about three more times, “Do the right thing, Do the right thing, Do the right thing.”  At this point several Brewers were staring at me, and Gerut pointed me out to them, probably telling them that he had just tossed me a ball moments earlier.

I quickly went into my backpack and took out one of my decoy balls.  (Balls that I have that I didn’t personally snag and don’t count in my stats or my collection.  These are MLB balls that friends have given to me in exchange for tickets). 

I held up the decoy ball for Gerut to see and tossed it to the nearest kid with a glove.  He gave me a thumbs up.  I yelled to him, “That’s a Pirate ball from earlier.”  I wanted him to keep the impression that I was a huge Brewers fan and wanted to keep just the Brewers baseballs. 

I spent a few minutes in center field and chickened out on a very glove trickable ball.  The nice ushers weren’t in center field today, and I didn’t feel l
ike getting yelled at.  Plus, I had struggled mightly with ball #4, and didn’t want to go through that again.

After Claudio Vargas picked up the ball that I should’ve glove tricked and tossed it to a kid, I headed back to left field.

There, I made almost back to back catches of home runs on the fly.  They were hit in the same general area, and only about 30 seconds apart.  I have no idea who hit them. 

I caught ball #6 on the fly in a completely empty row B.  As I made the catch, some old guy made a feeble attempt at the ball, and crashed into me.  Like a pillar, I didn’t budge.  Since he went down fairly hard, I asked him if he was ok – and he was.

The second home run was hit soon after, and I had an entire empty row to my right, so I took off quickly and ran about 50 feet to my right to snag ball #7.  I made the catch in front of a group of teenagers.  Feeling they had been robbed, having seen me catch the other home run seconds before, and feeling anger at the Brewers gear I was sporting, they booed me mercilessly for about 20 seconds.

I just looked at them and smiled. 

I had to leave at 6PM to attend a varsity head coaches meeting, that didn’t end until 9PM.  My phone had very limited service, so I wasn’t able to get updates on the game. 

I was squirming in my chair more than John Russell does when Matt Capps enters the game in a save situation.

Today’s baseballs:
photo(285).jpgSweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  288 balls (146 hit, 89 thrown, 53 device)
Games: 60 games (6 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.80 balls per game
Career:  454 balls
Streak:  75 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  12,478

7-20-09 PNC Park

There was some rain forecast for today, but when I arrived at the ballpark at 3:55, the sun was shining, and there were only a few measly clouds in the sky.

While standing in line, I noticed a Brewers fan who randomly had a MLB baseball.  He didn’t have a glove or a bag or anything.  He had just walked up from the Riverwalk area.  Had he just gotten a ball out by the river?  Possibly.

Rather than standing there, I decided to head down to the Allegheny River and see if I could get on the board before the gates even opened.  There is some tall grass landscaping on a slope that leads down to a 20 foot wide walkway which borders the river.  Occasionally balls will get stuck in there that get hit out of the stadium or bounce on the stadium.  I looked, but found nothing.
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I stood outside the stadium until 4:50, when I returned to line.  There was only one ball that I saw that had a realistic chance.  I caught it out of the corner of my eye and watched it hit the top of the Clemente wall and stay in the ballpark.  Like clockwork, within a minute, an usher appeared and picked up the ball.

When I returned to the line at 4:50, it began to drizzle.  Great.  Just great.

The drizzle was persistant, and was rather annoying.  I was worried that the groundscrew would put the tarp on the field and batting practice would be canceled.  Luckily, this wasn’t the case.  The rain was light enough that it allowed BP to continue. 

I got ball #1 of the day from Joel Hanrahan.  He fielded a ball, and didn’t throw it back towards the infield, so I stood in the front row with my glove up for about a minute.  He finally decided he didn’t want the ball anymore, and fired it at me.  It was a little high and away, but I was on the board.

I got ball #2 from Mike Defelice.  I remembered Shawn from Milwaukee giving me the tip of calling him Deefer.  It worked.

There wasn’t a ton of home runs hit.  And its a shame too, because there weren’t many people there during the first 30 minutes of season ticket holder time only. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 238 balls (125 hit, 78 thrown, 38 device)
Games:  49 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.86 balls per game
Career: 404 balls
Attendance:  11,471 (very April/May’ish attendance figure)

6-16-09 Progressive Field

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I made another trip to Cleveland to attempt to improve upon my four ball showing from yesterday.

I got to the ballpark an hour early to ensure that I would be at the front of the line. 
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The ball was in a little divit, so it took about 3-5 minutes of jostling the ball around until I finally had ball #7 in my grasp.  The ball had “Expect to Win,” written on it.

I received my final ball, ball #8,  of the day off of the bat of Mat Gamel.  He hit a high fly ball to right center that I camped out underneath and made an easy catch.    This particular ball had the phrase, “Best Catch Ever,” written on it.  It made me smile.  I was thinking to myself, “Yea, that was a pretty nice catch.”

I like how the Brewers write these crazy things on their baseballs.  It’s unique.  It’s different. 

When the game began, I went over to the Home Run Porch in left field.  The closest any ball came was a Ryan Garko foul
ball that traveled about 350 feet.  I was about 25 feet away from it and lost a foot race to the spot.

I left about half way through the game.

Today’s baseballs:
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The sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  8 Balls (7 hit, 1 device)
Season: 188 Balls (94 hit, 67 thrown, 27 device)
Games:  36 Games (4 without BP)
Average:   5.22 Balls per Game
Career:  354 Balls
Attendance:  22,986

6-15-09 Progressive Field

Since the Pirates are out of town for a week, I decided to hit the road.  I made the 2 hour trip north to Cleveland.  I got to the stadium around 4PM, bought a ticket, and was ninth in line. 

When the gates opened, I sprinted to the right field seats, hoping to find an Easter Egg.  I’d noticed that several other people ahead of me ran to the seats also.  Instead of going directly into the seats, I ran down the concourse towards the visiting team’s bullpen, figuring that all Easter Eggs would already be claimed in center field by those ahead of me.  The move paid off.  I spotted ball #1 laying in the front row, and quickly ran to it and was on the board.

Batting practice was slow today. 
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The Indians only hit maybe 7 balls into the seats in their entire portion of batting practice. 

I did manage to snag ball #2 off of the bat of Victor Martinez.  He hit a home run that sailed about 4 or 5 rows over my head.  I ran back and grabbed the ball, as two other people also were grasping for it.  I made sure to grab this ball off of the concrete with my bare hand.

Ball #3 also came from the Indians.  A right handed batter hit a fly ball that bounced on the warning track and over the fence.  I quickly moved about five feet to my left and made the catch over some lady’s head.  She was sitting down, without a glove, and was mad that she didn’t get the ball.  Also, she didn’t even see the ball until after I caught it. “Ohhhh, yoooouuuuuu…”  she said.  

That was it from the Indians.  The Brewers came out to hit.  Despite being over 7 hours away from Cleveland, a lot of their fans made the trip.

Batting practice was more crowded than usual. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 Balls (3 hit, 1 device)
Season:  180 Balls (87 hit, 67 thrown, 26 device)
Games:  35 Games (4 without BP)
Average:  5.14 Balls per Game
Career:  346 Balls
Attendance:  25415

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