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This was the Pirates first game against the Rockies of the season, as the previous night had been rained out. I was looking forward to this game because 49 year old Jamie Moyer would be pitching for the Rockies, and I had purchased a ticket directly behind the Rockies dugout.
Batting practice got off to a slow start for me. In fact, I didn’t snag anything for the first 20 minutes. After coming up short on three different balls, I ranged to my left on a Michael McKenry home run ball and caught it on the fly here:
It was a milestone ball as it was my #1,600th.
Later, I called out to Evan Meek, who tossed a ball in my direction. Fellow ballhawk Ian Weir, who was two rows in front of me had it tip off of his glove, and it bounced right to me.
Ball #3 was a clean catch on the fly of a Yamaico Navarro homer here:
My fourth ball of the Pirates BP was a ground rule double hit by light hitting infielder Josh Harrison near the foul pole:
That was it for the Pirates BP, as they wrapped things up shortly after 5.
When the Rockies began hitting, the pitchers still were warming up in right field, so there were no players to shag balls. I used this time to make their job a little easier by glove tricking ball #5.
Carlos Gonzalez wandered over and tossed about 9 balls into the stands. I was about to glove trick an easy ball when he began walking towards it. Since he was making an effort to retrieve it, I didn’t use the glove trick, even though I could’ve quickly and easily snagged it and saved him the walk over. CarGo came over, picked the ball up, and handed it to me for ball #6.
Ball #7 was another simple glove trick in left.
When the pitchers finally made their way over, Rex Brothers tossed me ball #8, and motioned to me to give it to a little kid standing a few feet to my left, so I did.
Ball #9 was a foul ball hit by Troy Tulowitzki. He yanked it down the line into the lower seats. It was already like 5:35, and there were no fans over there. No one seemed to notice or care. So I ran over into foul ground and grabbed it.
I was on a hot streak. I had nine balls and Rockies BP was just getting underway. But, weirdly, I didn’t snag anything else during batting practice, even though this was the crowd shortly before 6 PM at the end of BP:
Before the game started, I waited by the bullpen for Jamie Moyer to come out. There, I asked catching Coach Jerry Weinstein to toss up a ball that was sitting in the bullpen, and he obliged for ball #10.
I then watched Jamie Moyer toss 75 mph heaters:
And then watched him do it later, in the game from my seat.
This was my section:
And the view:
I was just a few rows behind where all the players enter the dugout when they run off the field. The location was perfect, because in the third inning, Casey McGehee chopped a ball in front of the plate that Chris Nelson fielded and threw to Todd Helton for the third out. When Helton ran off the field, he spotted me in my bright Rockies jersey and tossed me ball #11.
It had a nice dirt spot on it from where McGehee had pounded it into the ground. I also noticed a little bit of scuffing. Was Moyer doctoring the ball? Its tough to say, but he kept the Pirates off balance all night, pitching 6 innings and giving up 1 run. Not bad for a 49 year old.
The game itself was probably one of the more exciting ones of the year, as the lead exchanged leads several times in the late innings before the Pirates prevailed.
Some of you have come across my blog today from the sensational youtube video that I took. If you’re looking for that game entry, click this LINK.
I uploaded that video last night before I went to bed, thinking that some of the regulars from my blog would get a kick out of it. When I woke up in the morning, the video had 533 views. I then left for the game. (When I returned from the game, it had 26,000)
Throughout the day, I received numerous emails. We’re talking about one every minute or so, from youtubers leaving comments. Around 10:30am, I received an interview request from KDKA-TV. A bit later, WPXI channel 11 contacted me.
My first instinct was to decline the interviews, but the producers had said that many people were bashing the police, and they were sure that the Pirates and Pittsburgh Police would like me to say something. I gave a TV interview to WPXI TV and KDKA on camera. I wasn’t crazy with the result. The interview was heavily edited and didn’t include any of the positive things I said about PNC Park ushers, security guards, and Pittsburgh Police.
I heavily criticized the man in the USA Jacket, calling the police action justified, and talked about how I was tired of all the fair weather baseball fans that came out for only fireworks, bobbleheads, and concerts. I blamed the drunks for ruining the game experience for the true baseball fans. I talked about how a fan like that has no place in PNC Park especially around little kids.
Of course, TV used snippets like, “I’d like to see what started it, etc.”
Anyhow, my blog has received over 11,000 hits today as of 9pm, and the youtube video has gone viral, amassing hundreds of thousands of views within the last two days.
Today, I did brief interviews or talked on the phone with msnbc.com, the Today show, Fox News, CNN, The Tribune Review, the CBS network, and several radio stations. Most of them wanted permission to use my video and how to credit me. I just asked that my blog be listed as the source, and not to use my name.
Anyway, as of 9pm, the video had 211,000 views and 1,292 comments. Craziness.
I’d just like to say that PNC Park security had nothing to do with the arrest of the man, and they were trying to keep all fans safe by keeping them away from the maniac.
On to the ballhawking that took place on Sunday.
I arrived 2 minutes before the gates opened and snagged my first ball of the day from Chris Resop in the bullpen as soon as I entered the park.
My second snag of the day was just behind the trash can in this picture.
PNC Park opens the Riverwalk 30 minutes before the rest of the gates, but fans can’t access the stadium. Not only season ticket holders. So, all fans are confined to the outfield concourse/walkway. Luckily, the Pirates were taking batting practice, and left handed power hitter Pedro Alvarez was up.
He hit a home run that cleared the seats, and the blue gate. Nick and I both were in position, and I was closer the gate, and he was a foot or two behind me. I did a full extension leap to make the catch on the fly in the air. It was easily my best catch of the year.
Just before the stadium gates opened so that we could enter the general seating area, I watched an EMS guy pocket at least two baseballs.
Once the stadium opened, knowing that the left field bleachers had been pillaged, I headed over to foul territory.
The Pirates batting practice was slow again, with very few home runs being hit.
I was lined up to make an easy catch, when the guy in the Colorado hat reached up with his bare hand at the last second to try to catch the ball that I had measured up.
His hand crashed into my glove and the ball fell onto the field. He apologized. I was a little annoyed, but it didn’t matter. The ball was right below me, so I glove tricked it easily for ball #4.
One of them turned out to be a Salt River Fields Commemorative Ball, the third such one I had snagged in this series.
My seventh ball of the day was this gem hiding in the bushes.
I used a six foot long pole to dislodge the ball from the ivy, then I reached in and grabbed it.
Season: 36 balls (11 hit, 7 thrown, 11 device, 7 found)
Games: 6 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,158 balls
Amy and I got to the stadium about an hour early. Before heading into the bleachers, Nick and I caught on the Clemente bridge. Amy was snapping photos as we threw.
We probably caught for about 20 minutes.
Its always a good warm up before going into the stadium and running around for five hours or whatever it may be.
When the gates opened at 4:30, I ran in and found a ball by the bullpen.
Since it was Saturday, the entire park was open for business at 4:30, so I made my way over to foul territory to look for any potential ‘easter eggs.’
Despite having an extra half hour of batting practice today, things were slow. The Pirates batting practice is not nearly as good as last year. Home Runs into the bleachers were few and far between.
I got ball #4 of the day, and #1,150 lifetime off the bat of new Bucco Matt Diaz.
The ball bounced on the cross aisle in the picture below and up into the second deck of bleachers. Several of us ballhawks ran up, and after a short search, I spotted it and grabbed it.
My fifth ball was a home run catch off the bat of Ronny Cedeno. If the catch would’ve occured during the game, it would’ve been ruled a double however. I had to scale two bleachers to get into the front row, and reach low to catch the sinking liner before it bounced off of the left field wall. I was there though in time to make the catch here:
That was it for the Pirates BP.
The Rockies then came out to hit, so I moved over to center field, since they have a good bit of left handed power bats.
While in center field, there were a few glove trick opportunities, but I decided not to try it.
I didn’t get a single ball during the Rockies portion of batting practice. It was one of those days.
When the game started it was packed, so there was virtually no chance at an outfielder’s warm up ball between innings,
so I wandered the concourse for a bit.
I collected a few posters that people didn’t want.
Checked out some memorabilia for sale at a booth.
Some of the baseballs were interesting. There was Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, etc autographed baseballs for sale.
As for the game, I stood here most of the night,
but headed over to left field just in time to miss a Seth Smith home run ball that landed RIGHT where I had been standing. That’s the way it goes sometimes. Wrong place at the wrong time.
One could argue I was again in the wrong place at the wrong time a few innings later. I was hanging out near the Prize Wheel when I noticed a disturbance in the bleachers above my head. Police officers and security guards hustled up the stairs to confront a man who was seated in the front row, aisle seat in Section 236. He’s the bald man:
I did not see the incidents that led up to him being asked to leave, but when I saw the police officer take out his taser, I started filming. Check it out:
The man eventually was escorted down the stairs. A fellow fan tried to high five the man wearing the USA windbreaker, which was thwarted by one of the security guards. So, the man in the USA jacket threw an elbow at him. At this point I was pretty much right on top of everything that was going on. I was also boxed in, as there were railings to my right and left, and concrete tables behind me. I had no where to go except where all the action was taking place. I kept my camera at chest level or so, so as not to draw attention to myself and slowly backed away.
Anyway, after throwing the elbow, the police officer discharged his taser, which appeared ineffective. You can hear the electricity in the video. The USA jacked man seemed to mock the officer. Going ‘ohhh’ when he was tased. That’s when the officer hit him. You can watch the rest of the video and make your own judgements.
It set off a string of USA chants and at least one more arrest that I saw. There were also several other verbal arguments that broke out. Security was everywhere for the last three innings.
Typically, ushers handle disturbing fans. If the fans don’t comply, then PNC Park security is called. If the fan is still belligerent, the cops are brought in. I attended 75 games in 2009, 88 games in 2010, and never have seen anything this escalated.
Anyhow, the video went viral and has over 9,000 hits today on youtube. I was also interviewed by KDKA-TV and WPXI. My interview is on wpxi’s website.
You can watch the story by clicking this link.
Season: 29 balls (10 hit, 6 thrown, 7 device, 6 found)
Games: 5 games
Average: 5.80 balls per game
Career: 1,151 balls
Some Rockies came out to throw along the right field line.
Once the rest of the stadium opened, I went over and snagged my first ball of the day from Franklin Morales. I flashed him my glove after he had finished tossing, and he threw me ball #1.
Ball #2 came from Matt Reynolds. I asked for the ball and he tossed me his warm up ball as he was coming off of the field.
The balls were from the Rockies’ new Spring Training home.
There was no more action until game time. The Pirates didn’t even come out to throw.
Here’s a few pictures from the game: Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies best player:
The crowd, where most of the seats were $1 (you can tell the sections that weren’t a dollar)
Ross Ohlendorf, before exiting the game with a sore shoulder:
Amy and I, who were pretty cold:
The poster given away to all fans:
The shirt given away to all fans:
The Chuck Tanner jersey, to me from a distance looks like an Oakland Athletics Jersey, it makes the 7 appear green since it is surrounded by green. The Pirates should’ve put a black background box around the jersey.
Amy and I left in the 5th inning. The game went 14 innings, and the Pirates won, thanks to 11 1/3 scoreless innings from our bullpen.
Season: 24 balls (8 hit, 6 thrown, 7 device, 3 found)
Games: 4 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,146 balls
We walked to the stadium and were second in line behind Nick.
Nick and I caught for about 20 minutes on the Roberto Clemente bridge.
Afterwards, Nick and I headed down to the Riverwalk. While there, I was able to see seven balls in the sky heading towards the seats.
Eventually one of the balls bounced out of the stadium. I dove here to snag the ball.
I got a little dirty, but it wasn’t too noticeable.
Being on the board before going into the stadium is never a bad thing.
Upon entering the stadium, I heard Evan Meek call out to me. I thought he said, “Jabs!” but I’m not sure. Anyhow, he came over and shook my hand and asked how the offseason was and if there was anything new going on. He asked if we were doing the Ballhawk League again, and I said yeah.
The Pirates players were wearing pullovers so I wasn’t able to identify all of them. An unidentified righty hit a home run into section 134. The ball settled under a bleacher and I scooped it up for ball #3.
Ball #4 was chased down under the Rotunda. Again, no clue who hit it.
My fifth ball was another righty Pirates batter. I snagged it off of the concrete after it bounced around a bit. There were a few other gloves reaching for the ball, but I came away with it.
I decided to head over to right field and center field at 11:30. It paid off. I found Ball #6, #7, and #8 there.
The Rockies had come out to hit in the meantime.
My ninth ball was glove tricked in left-center field.
Five minutes later, another ball was there.
I went back to that area and glove tricked that one too for ball #11
Ball #12 was tossed to me by Rockies ace pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. It helped that I had Rockies gear on and asked for the ball in Spanish.
After snagging the ball from Jimenez, I noticed two balls in the ivy. I had forgotten my Cleveland stick, so I went to the Janitors closet and got a squeegee and prodded the ball closer to the fence so I could reach it.
It was in terrible shape.
The Pirates side:
There was a flyover after the National Anthem.
Here was the view from my seat, where I sat for an inning.
It was really crowded in left field, so I went there to read the paper for a bit.
One of the non-baseball highlights was a ‘streaker’ who took to the field in the ninth inning:
He came from the left field stands and made it across the whole field.
Despite the Pirates loss, Opening Day was productive from a ballhawking standpoint.
Season: 22 balls (8 hit, 4 thrown, 7 device, 3 found)
Games: 3 games
Average: 7.33 balls per game
Career: 1,144 balls
My plan for today was to go and search the Riverwalk weeds/tall grass for baseballs. If I found one, my streak in tact, I would enter the stadium and try and get a few more baseballs, regardless of if there was batting practice or not.
There were a good number of balls that left the stadium the previous two days, and I had not yet searched outside to see if any got caught up in the grass.
After about five minutes of searching, I saw this:
It was ball #1.
Game: 5 balls (3 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 408 balls (211 hit, 91 thrown, 52 device, 54 found)
Games: 62 games
Average: 6.58 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 986 balls
Streak: 158 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
It was a Saturday game at PNC Park – but it was also a Skyblast (Fireworks + George Thorogood concert), so there would be a sellout crowd on hand today.
My goal was to snag seven balls to give me 400 on the season.
I was second in line at the gate and was the first one into the bleachers. There wasn’t anything going on in the cage, but a few Pirates must’ve taken some early swings because I found two balls laying in the front row here:
I then made my way over to foul territory as a few of the Pirates position players were warming up. New Pirates catcher Chris Synder threw me his ball as he walked off the field for ball #3.
Game: 10 balls (6 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season: 403 balls (211 hit, 88 thrown, 51 device, 53 found)
Games: 61 games
Average: 6.61 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 981 balls
Streak: 157 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Today was Andrew McCutchen bobblehead night, so I was in for a bit more of a crowded BP than the previous few days.
After entering the bleachers first, only to find two fans already there (with special vip guest passes), I would eventually catch an Andy LaRoche home run on the fly in the second row here:
I would only get one other ball during the Pirates BP, and it was a ground rule double off the bat of Pirates future star Pedro Alvarez.
Game: 6 balls (2 hit, 3 device, 1 found)
Season: 393 balls (205 hit, 87 thrown, 50 device, 51 found) *fixed totals after checking mygameballs.com
Games: 60 games
Average: 6.55 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 971 balls
Streak: 156 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.