The Phillies were in town today for game 1 of a four game series. Unfortunately for me, their fans travel well, and many arrived early for batting practice.
To make matters worse, the security ticket scanner, who only permits season ticket holders into the left field bleachers wasn’t at his post. In fact, he didn’t show up until 5:11, allowing a steady stream of Phillies fans and non season ticket holders to stroll on in and crowd up the bleachers.
I got my first ball during the Pirates’ first group off the bat of Delwyn Young. He hit a ball that landed in the section directly next to the foul pole. I ran over as three other folks converged towards the back of the section where the ball had landed.
I realized though that the ball was rolling down towards the front row, so I quickly reversed course and ran down to the front row, where I picked up ball #1.
My second ball came from the next Pirates’ group and off the bat of Lastings Milledge.
The ball bounced off the concrete and took a hop up into the rotunda. Several folks were frantically looking around, their heads swiveling hoping to pick up the ball. I knew exactly where it was. It had gotten caught up on the rotunda. I took off and ran up the lower ring of the Rotunda, and there it was:
Game: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 found)
Season: 272 balls (146 hit, 64 thrown, 26 device, 37 found)
Games: 42 games
Average: 6.48 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 850 balls
Streak: 138 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
It was another great day at PNC Park for me.
There wasn’t a very big crowd, so there was plenty of room to run around during batting practice.
I would snag five balls during the Pirates portion of batting practice.
Ball #1 was off the bat of Andy LaRoche. It was a ground rule double that I snagged on the hop.
My second and third balls were off the bat of Lastings Milledge. The second ball was a home run that I snagged after it bounced off a handicap seat, and the third was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence right next to the foul pole.
There was no pitchers in the outfield today, which was good. They see the regulars get many home run balls and refuse to toss balls to us. Delwyn Young was patrolling left field today, and I got him to toss me ball #4.
That was it for me. I should’ve stayed as Ronny Cedeno hit a home run that bounced onto the lowest rung of the Left Field Rotunda. I would’ve defi
nitely snagged that ball, as I’m used to running up the ramp from my experience in batting practice.
There was probably less than 5,000 people that actually attended the game as there was a Penguins playoff game.
Here’s today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 11 balls (8 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 113 balls (69 hit, 23 thrown, 10 device, 12 found)
Games: 15 games
Average: 7.53 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 691 balls
Streak: 111 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
This weekend, the Pirates invited their season ticket holders to PNC Park for a special shopping event. The Pirates home clubhouse would be transformed into a storefront, with jerseys, bats, etc being sold.
After sitting in traffic for about twenty minutes, I finally reached the park.
I decided to park near the right field gate, so I could walk along the Riverwalk outside of the stadium.
The Pirates had decked the exterior of PNC park with Christmas decorations.
They were all authenticated, from various “historic” games, such as balls from Brian Bixler’s first major league hit game, and balls from Nate McLouth’s 19th game of his hitting street.
y were $20 a piece. The only balls I were interested in were ones with the special opening day stamp on them. I wasn’t going to pay $20 or $25 though, so I just moved on.
I eventually made my way to the batting practice hats.
They were reasonably priced at $15. Since my batting practice cap that I had worn throughout the 2009 season was well worn, I decided to get a new one to welcome the 2010 season. The design is slightly different from the old version with the red above the ears being replaced with black. The Pirates introduced the new BP caps at the beginning of 2009, but I held off on buying one since I had just got a BP hat at the end of the 2008 season (thanks to Ian Snell).
Having seen pretty much everything there was to see, I left after purchasing the hat. I made not make it back into Pittsburgh until April 5th, unless there is another season ticket holder event.
Later that night Pittsburgh was struck by the northermost edge of the blizzard of 2009. It made my every-other-night 3 mile run rather trecherous.
The next morning, there was five inches of snow , making my last minute Christmas shopping commute equally trecherous.
I got to the gates about four minutes late today. When I got inside, I was discouraged to see that the final group that was batting for the Pirates was all left handed batters (Delwyn Young is a switch hitter).
I stood in left field and waited and waited for a ball to come out that way. Finally, near the end of the Pirates portion of batting practice, Delwyn Young turned around and batted right handed. He hit a home run two sections to my right that I simply had to jog over to and pick up. It was ball #1.
The Indians came out to hit. Their first group was also all lefties. Very discouraging. I could’ve had another ball, but the rubber band was missing from my glove. It must’ve gotten lost on Sunday when I went with my dad to play baseball. I also received a substantial injury on Sunday. I was going after a fly ball in left field, when I stepped into a huge swamp area left over by the torrential rains from this past Wednesday. I skidded on my right foot for about six feet, then fell backward. I landed on my glove hand, but that gave way, causing my elbow to awkwardly bend backward. It’s been real sore ever since.
Anyway, the sun was blazingly bright today.
I lost two balls in the sun. Completely lost them. When that happens, I look at other people around me, to see if they’re tracking the ball, so I can pick it back up. The folks around me couldn’t see either.
Game: 2 balls (2 hit)
Season: 200 balls (100 hit, 72 thrown, 28 device)
Games: 39 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.13 balls per game
Career: 366 balls
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:
I 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.
Game: 3 Balls
Season: 20 Balls
Games: 5 Games (4 with batting practice, 1 without)
Average: 4.00 Balls per game
Career: 186 Balls