Results tagged ‘ easter egg ’

8-12-11 Progressive Field

In my original schedule of games that I planned on attending, I had penned in five consecutive games in Cleveland this week, Tuesday through Saturday.  However, with a new baby and new house, I was only able to make one game.  I chose Friday, simply because the Twins have a bevy of left handed hitters, and the rest of the stadium opens at 5:30, thereby thinning out the crowd in right field a half hour earlier than during the week.

I had some issues on the way to Cleveland, as my car overheated (see the gauge up at the H?) and I had to stop and get coolant at a WalMart.

Therefore, I wasn’t first in line, I was ninth.  To make matters worse, at 4:30, when the gates were to open – the supervisor realized that he didn’t have the scanners for the tickets.  This caused a seven minute delay, meaning I would miss most of the Indians first, and best hitting group.

When the gates did open, the nine people in front of me (five of which had gloves) dilly-dallied getting batting practice T-Shirts – which are given away to the first 100 fans each day.  This provided me an opportunity to run around them and be the first one to enter the seating area.

I immediately found two balls in the front row in right field.  The first of which had a BP stamp on it.

While standing in line I overheard an Indians fan talking about the BP stamped balls and saying that they could be turned in for gift cards or something.  After BP was over, I found THIS article with information about the BP balls, but it was pretty vague, so I’m still wondering what to do when the green stamped balls.  Any help?  Anyone?

There were a few people running around looking for baseballs, so I ran over to Heritage Park with another ballhawk on my tail and spotted ball #3 within reach just under the wall that separates the Heritage Park monuments from the trees.  I reached in and grabbed it without having time to snap a picture.

I returned to the seats to play for home run balls, but not for long, as Travis Hafner blasted one into the trees in Heritage Park.  I ran back over and used the Cleveland stick to snag that one.

When the first group wrapped things up around 4:45, I checked the bullpens for baseballs and noticed a real easy one in the visitors bullpen.  I glove tricked that ball for ball #5,

and a few minutes later got Chris Perez to toss me ball #6 in center field.

I had only been there about twenty minutes to that point and had already snagged six baseballs.  My goal coming into the game was nine, which would’ve given me 250 career balls at Progressive Field, but things slowed way down after that.

The Indians BP sucked the rest of the way, and the Twins had only really one decent group.  It was their second group, which featured Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, and Jason Kubel.  Those guys wore out the two sections closest to the visitors bullpen with baseballs.

Unfortunately, I was only able to snag one on the fly – a clean catch of a Thome home run for ball #7.  I had a lot of close calls, so I headed over to left field for the last group, but failed to snag anything.

I also tried the dugout after batting practice, but all of the balls that were tossed into the crowds went to kids.

So, I went home – and a two hour and 15 minute trip ended up taking about three and a half?  Why?  Well, because my car overheated three times.

It’s not supposed to look like that under the hood:

Coolant was spraying out somewhere, and I have an obvious radiator problem.  The third time I stopped I basically broke down, as my car started clunking and smoking.

After letting it sit for awhile and adding more coolant and water to the radiator, I was able to make it home, but just barely.

I have an appointment to take my car into the shop on Monday, which means that I won’t be able to make batting practice unless I can get a ride.  So, are there any other ballhawks that would be interested in giving me a ride to/from batting practice?  I’ll pay you.  $20.  That’s like a half tank of gas.  Otherwise, plan B would be to bike 14 miles to PNC Park, which no doubt would suck.  Plan C would be to take a bus, but the closest bus stop is a half hour walk away, and I’ve never, ever taken a public bus before.

Anyhow, here are today’s baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 3 found)
Season: 339 balls (141 hit, 73 thrown, 80 device, 45 found)
Games: 64 games
Career: 1,461 balls
Attendance: 31,364

8-7-11 PNC Park

I managed to make it to the final game of the homestand – a Sunday game which followed a night game.  I actually wasn’t even planning on staying – I had some extra tickets to sell, but of course I took my glove with me just in case.  Much to my surprise, when I arrived at 10:55 AM, the Pirates were on the field taking batting practice.  Also, the gates were to open at 11 AM, and I was the first one in line, despite my late arrival.  I guess most of the fans slept in after the late ending of the Train concert last night.

I had heard that manager Clint Hurdle cancelled batting practice on Saturday, despite perfect weather in an attempt to break the Pirates out of their losing streak.  That obviously didn’t work, as the Pirates flailed away at the plate on Saturday and mustered little offense.

So, on Sunday, he took the opposite approach and elected for BP.

Since the seating bowl doesn’t open until 11:30AM, all fans are confined to the riverwalk outfield concourse.  I watched batting practice from behind section 141 in hopes that Pedro Alvarez or Garrett Jones would hit one over the seats and onto the concourse.

It didn’t happen, and my several requests to Andrew McCutchen were met with eye rolls.  At first I thought, ‘wow, what’s your problem, its not like you have to sign autographs.’  I later found out that he had been benched for today’s game for being picked off the night before.

Around 11:08, there were already four easter eggs in the left field seats, and I was keeping an eye on all of them, noting the ones that weren’t picked up by the devious ushers.  Then, I noticed several fans rush into the left field bleachers and pick them up.  ‘Stupid guests,’ I thought, thinking that they had received early access guest passes from the Pirates front office.  I then noticed a steady trickle of fans, and the left field bleachers began to fill up.

I ditched my spot, and headed for left field.  The gates by the bullpen were wide open, and they weren’t supposed to be until 11:30 AM.

It worked out well, as I caught a home run on the fly in section 134.  It was a catch on the run, outstretched and back handed.

Then five minutes later, several security guards started yelling at everyone that they had to leave because someone wasn’t at their post, and we weren’t supposed to be there until 11:30.  It was about 11:18, so I was hoping that we could all just stay for 12 minutes, but it wasn’t to be.

They herded all the fans up like cattle, and slowly pushed us out.  You can see the security guard in the white shirt with yellow sleeves in the picture below.

At 11:30, I ran into foul territory and found ball #2 along the third base line.

I continued around the field and ended up in foul territory along the right field foul line, where I found ball #3.

While there I decided just to stay, as some of the Padres started trickling out.

Coach Jeff Bannister tossed me ball #4 in the right field corner.

And then I inconspicuously changed into my Padres gear.

The Padres pitchers started warming up, and there were only two fans along the right field line.  Me, decked in full Padres gear, and a random Pirate fan.  It seemed a no brainer that I would snag at least one more ball.

It happened as Tim Stauffer finished up his throws and tossed me ball #5.

Moments later, Ernesto Frieri tossed me ball #6.

And I snagged ball #7 when Josh Spence threw a wild pitch that his catching partner couldn’t scoop and ended up in the seats.  I offered the ball back, but they let me keep it.

At noon, all other gates to the stadium opened, and I tried my luck in left field, since the Padres are so heavily right handed, but it was so crowded that I could barely even move.

The Padres hit until 12:20, and as soon as they finished, I went home to be with my family.

Today’s seven baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 4 thrown, 2 found)
Season: 332 balls (140 hit, 72 thrown, 78 device, 42 found)
Games: 63 games
Career: 1,454 balls
Attendance: 35,601

7-5-11 PNC Park

Amy was working today, so I don’t have any good pictures.

Upon entering the stadium, I found ball #1 about four rows back in left field.  It was good to get on the board early, because the last Pirates group did absolutely nothing.  Zero home runs.

When the Astros came out, I glove tricked my second ball over by the bullpen.

Most of the Astros pitchers seemed really lazy when it came to shagging, so I was hopeful that I could glove trick a few balls today, but a coach named Suba marched all over the field collecting the balls, as if it was his sole and only purpose with the team.

The first Astros group was weak, but the next group featured Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee along with Jason Michaels, probably the Astros three best BP hitters in that order.

After a couple rounds of going opposite field, Hunter Pence started letting loose and hitting some home runs.

In the span of a minute, I caught three balls cleanly, all on the fly, here:

Ball #3 was hit by Pence.  It was basically right at me.  I stood up on the bleacher as I made the catch, just out of habit.  Moments later he hit another home run that was slightly to my left.  I tracked the ball and caught it reaching forward and made the basket catch as several fans turned away, blinded by the sun.

Jason Michaels hopped in the cage and promptly hit a home run which I caught on the fly.  Since there was so much action in such a short amount of time, people started noticing me and asking me questions such as how many that was for me, etc.  No one gave me a hard time though.

During the Astros last group, I caught a ground rule double here:

It was a milestone ball, as it was the 1,400th ball that I’ve snagged.

Moments later I snagged another ground rule double, and then finished things off with a clean catch of yet another home run.

I gave away one of my extra decoy balls to a young boy whose father was asking me for ballhawking tips for his son.

I watched the game from the Club Seats.

I picked a great spot for a foul ball.  The only thing in front of me was a camera well,

and a wide open row to my right.

But as luck would have it not a single ball would be hit within three sections either way of me.

Here are today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

Statistics:
Game: 8 balls (6 hit, 1 device, 1 found)
Season:  280 balls (121 hit, 56 thrown, 64 device, 30 found)
Games: 48 games
Average:  5.83 balls per game
Career:  1,402 balls
Attendance: 18,151

6-25-11 PNC Park

Today would be the largest crowd ever to witness a game at PNC Park, as 39, 483 would pack the park.

I was second in line behind Nick Pelescak.   Zac Weiss, another Pittsburgh ballhawk would be third.  There was lots of time to kill, so we stood around and talked a bit.

And played some catch in front of the gate.
Erik Jabs
What pitch am I throwing below?  It has to do with the Red Sox starting pitcher tonight…
Erik Jabs
When the gates opened, I found a ball in the front row of section 137 to put me on the board.

A bit later in batting practice, a ball hit off of a the groundskeepers vehicle and settled against the wall in foul territory.

It would’ve been an easy snag – just a reach over the fence.  So I ran over to get it.  Just as I was entering the seating area in foul territory down the line, a Pirate sliced a line drive of home run distance into the seats.  I was in the right place in the right time, as there wasn’t another fan within 100 feet.  I walked over and picked it up for ball #2.

In the meantime, the groundskeeper picked the ball up as I was making my way down the stairs.

My third ball was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence here, and nearly took out pitching coach Ray Searage, who was walking over to the fence to give a ball away.

I wouldn’t snag another ball until 5:30.

At 5:30, the center field and right field seats opened, and I found a ball on the stairs in right field for #4 of the day.

Moments later, David Ortiz blasted a ball way over my head.  I could tell it was going to carry, so I ran up the stairs towards the top of the Clemente Wall, hoping the ball would settle in a seat or empty row.  It hit a seat and completely lost all momentum, and I picked it up a moment later for #5.

In the next group, I noticed a ball had landed in the ivy in center field that might have been reachable.

I made my way down the stairs and as I was under the Clemente Wall walking to center field, I heard WHHHAPPP – the sound of a ball hitting the concrete.  A ball had cleared the Clemente Wall completely and was about twenty feet in the air above my head, as it rebounded off of the back wall.  I jumped up and snagged it for ball #6.

‘Wow, that was lucky,’ I thought.

Not but fifteen seconds later, the same thing happened.  Completely obstructed from the path of the ball, another home run cleared everything, hit a Red Sox fan, and deflected directly to me for ball #7.

Two completely lucky snags in a matter of seconds.  I was later told it was Jarrod Saltalamacchia who hit those two balls.

In the meantime, another ballhawk snagged that ball in the ivy in center field.  Nothing really happened in center field, except David Ortiz sauntered out to receive the adulation of Red Sox nation.
David Ortiz
I spent the last fifteen minutes in left field, and this was the scene.

There was no where to go.  I stayed over towards the foul pole where I had at least a half row of range, but no balls came withing fifty feet of me.

After batting practice, I left PNC Park for a bit.  I checked the bushes to baseballs, but didn’t find any.

I also took one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken after looking through those bushes.

Check it out:
Pittsburgh skyline
During the game, I didn’t do much ballhawking.  I spent a few innings in right center, and a few innings in my ticketed seat in the upper deck.

The Pirates ended up winning the game, setting the stage for a possibly sweep of the mighty Boston Red Sox tomorrow.

After the game Amy and I found a secluding spot in a park during the firework show and

Anyway, before heading home we stopped off at a Giant Eagle and picked up a few snacks for a possible road trip next week… It will probably be the last extended road trip for awhile because… well, we’re so pregnant.

And tomorrow is the baby shower!

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

Statistics:
Game: 7 balls (5 hit, 2 found)
Season:  251 balls (101 hit, 53 thrown, 60 device, 28 found)
Games: 43 games
Average:  5.84 balls per game
Career:  1,373 balls
Attendance: 39,483

6-8-11 PNC Park

After a dismal two ball day yesterday, things got off to a much better start.  I snagged two balls within the first fifteen seconds today.  That’s right, it took a full BP to get just two yesterday.

Upon running in, there were several fans already in the stands for a season ticket holder batting practice viewing event.  They were near the bullpen, so I ran towards the foul pole, where I found ball #1 in the third row back.  Also, a home run landed near the foul pole as I entered the bleachers and was picked up by a Pirates season ticket representative.  He tossed it to me for ball #2.

My third ball was glove tricked directly behind the left field foul pole after the Diamondbacks came out to hit.

(By the way, the Pirates ran off the field at 5:05.  Perhaps at 90 degrees it was too hot to take a full BP?)

By the way, the entire first group of Diamondbacks were ALL left handed, so there was virtually no chance of any batted balls landing in left field.  Rather than go over and play the Riverwalk for deep home runs, I elected to stay in left field and hope for a toss up.   It paid off as Josh Collmenter tossed me ball #4 of the day.

I had planned on running over to right field as four home runs landed there during the Diamondbacks first group, but I watched as the ushers systematically scanned each and every row and picked up all four.  So, figuring that there wasn’t much to be found in right, I ran over to foul territory to see if a foul ball that had been hit earlier in batting practice was still there.

It paid off as I found ball #5 in the handicapped section in foul territory.  As I was leaving to return to the right field bleachers, a batter hit a foul ball into the upper seats.  I simply turned around to go claim it.  I had seen where the ball landed, but I couldn’t find it.  Two other ballhawks started to come over to look and claim it for themselves, so I pulled some trickery and bent down as if I had found it, and stood back up holding the previous ball that I had found.  This bought me another minute or two, as the other ballhawks went back to their spots along front row in foul territory.  Eventually, I found the ball, it had rolled the whole way down to row A in section 130.  It was ball #6.

Back in left field, there wasn’t much action to be had.  I went the next twenty five minutes without anything until Xavier Nady hit a ground rule double that I snagged here:

The entire batting practice there were three home runs to left field.  That’s it.  It didn’t help that the Diamondbacks were being frugal and were tossing up precious few baseballs.  Nick Pelescak capped off batting practice by shouting at the Diamondbacks as they ran off the field, “You’re all a bunch of cheapskates!”

The D’Backs BP has been the worst I’ve seen this year.  One more game with them this year on Thursday, and then the Mets come into town for 4.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season:  186 balls (71 hit, 42 thrown, 48 device, 25 found)
Games: 31 games
Average:  6.00 balls per game
Career:  1,308 balls
Attendance: 14,015

5-21-11 PNC Park

Today was Amy and my 8 month anniversary, and we packed in a full day’s worth of activities.  We started by going around to garage sales and buying lots of clothes for our daughter.  There were some pretty nice things that we found that looked ‘like-new.’

Today was also Neil Walker bobblehead day, so a sellout crowd of 38,000 would be on hand.  Therefore, it was important to get on the board early.  When I ran into the left field bleachers, I found ball #1 laying in the front row in this area.

The Pirates BP was pretty tame, not too many home runs.

There weren’t many opportunities for toss up balls either, every request went ignored.

My second ball of the day was a long home run hit by an unknown Pirates batter.
Here Nick and I are racing for it.

Nick had the lead, but we both took a wrong route to the ball.  Since it wasn’t at the bottom of the rotunda, I figured it was on the rotunda.  I raced up and was correct.  It was sitting on the rotunda, waiting to be claimed.  Amy got this shot of us returning from the chase.

My third ball of the day was a clean catch in the front row of section 134.  I had to reach out over the wall and make the catch as there was some pressure put on me from the side.  I reached out and swiped at the ball and luckily made the catch.

Here I am just a moment after making the grab:

It was a particular sunny day, and I lost two balls in the sun.  One would’ve been an easy grab, and it zipped by my head.  The other I would’ve made on a cloudy day.  That’s one of the negatives of PNC Park.  Left field is the sun field, so folks in left get blinded by the sun, especially on fly balls.

I had another close call on a home run that was about two rows over my head.  The guy in the white jersey reached out and caught it right in front of Nick:

I then changed into my Tigers gear, but it wouldn’t matter much since it got so crowded around 5PM.

Check out the crowd:

That’s the downfall of PNC Park’s bleachers.  There’s not much room when it gets crowded.  There’s about six rows in the bleachers, and they get packed, severaly limiting a ballhawk’s range.

I did get ball #4 with the glove trick in left field before heading over to center field.

In center field I glove tricked ball #5 here:

Also, while in center field, I caught an opposite field Miguel Cabrera home run ball in the third row here:

The guy in the red shirt, who’s usually aggressive, backed off and let me make the catch.  I appreciated it, as I probably would’ve missed it had he tried for it.  It was a ball I had to reach high and to my left to catch, as it was slicing back towards right field.

My seventh and final ball came at the conclusion of BP.  The Tigers left a ball on the warning track in left field, so I went over and glove tricked it for my seventh ball of the day.

After BP, I went to turn in 54 tickets for Neil Walker bobbleheads.  I traded in a bunch of my season tickets so I could turn a profit on the bobbleheads.  I made the mistake of pulling out the tickets and counting how many I had.  As soon as I did, I was surrounded by people waving twenty dollar bills at me, offering to buy my tickets.  The game was sold out, so there was nothing left at the box office.  I relented and sold twenty of the tickets within 5 minutes.    So, I went back to my car with a pocket overflowing with cash and 34 bobbleheads.  Amy and I headed home to spend the rest of the evening baseball free.

Here are today’s baseballs:

And the sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (3 hit, 3 device, 1 found)
Season:  150 balls (59 hit, 35 thrown, 33 device, 22 found)
Games: 24 games
Average:  6.25 balls per game
Career:  1,272 balls
Attendance: 37,958

5-20-11 PNC Park

Batting practice today was rough for me.  The Tigers were in town for an interleague matchup, which would lead to larger crowds.  During the Pirates batting practice, I ended up doing this for much of the time:

Standing around.

And more standing around.

I would not catch a single batted ball or get any balls thrown to me from the Pirates pitchers.

The few chances I did have were on scrum balls, where I just came up short.

On that last one, I bashed my knee off of the bleacher, and it all ended up being for naught.

I slowed down a bit after that, trying to be more careful, especially because Amy was at the game with me.  She hates to see me get hurt, and I didn’t want to upset her.

I didn’t get a single ball during the Pirates batting practice, so I changed into my Tigers gear, hoping maybe to at least have a ball tossed to me.

However, luck continued to elude me.  Here’s a home run ball that would be caught by a child in the front row.

When a ball finally rolled to the wall, I noticed that the Tigers pitchers could care less about it.

So I set up my glove trick and snagged it.

It was my first ball of the day, and it was about 5:25PM.  A few minutes later, the rest of the stadium would open, and I had been keeping tabs on a ball that was sliced into the seats down the left field line.  The only problem was, there was a bunch of other folks waiting to get the green light to run up the stairs to the ball.  The people I was up against had the advantage of running up escalators, while I chose to go with the steps in the middle, which meant I’d have to run twice as fast as them.  I ended up being the first person to the top of the stairs to reach the main level, and raced down to the lower level, where I found ball #2 waiting for me.

Here’s a shot that Amy took a few seconds after I had snagged ball #2

It just wasn’t my day today, and I knew it.

I wouldn’t snag another ball for the rest of batting practice.

I headed over to center field for the last group, while Amy stayed in left and took this really cool panorama:

After batting practice ended, the Tigers left a ball on the warning track.  They had run off the field, so I set up my glove trick:

Lowered it over the ball,

And pulled it in (after a couple readjustments with the rubber band)

Here are today’s baseballs:

And the sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (2 device, 1 found)
Season:  143 balls (56 hit, 35 thrown, 30 device, 21 found)
Games: 23 games
Average:  6.22 balls per game
Career:  1,265 balls
Attendance: 24,396

5-14-11 Miller Park

After a brief stay near Notre Dame in Indian, Amy and I continued our weekend trip through Illinois and Chicago.  The coolest scenery we passed, for me, was US Cellular Field in Chicago.

However, we didn’t stop to look around, as we were on a schedule to get to Miller Park about an hour and a half before the gates opened.  This would give us time to buy tickets, park, and familiarize ourselves with the exterior of the stadium, and find the correct gate to go into.

There wasn’t really anywhere to park around the stadium, but the stadium lots, so we parked for $10 and then walked about six minutes to the stadium.  There’s a nature trail that runs along the stadium, and a bridge spans a stream on the way to Miller Park.  We paused to get a quick photo.

You can see the large domed structure in the background, which of course is Miller Park.  By the way, the weather in Milwaukee was absolutely miserable.  It was 44 degrees with constant rain and drizzle.  The biting wind made it feel like 37 degrees, so needless to say, we couldn’t do much outside during our two days in Milwaukee.

I was very disappointed to find out that the gates to Miller Park wouldn’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch.  Even though this was a SATURDAY.  The only way to see the Brewers take batting practice was to go into Friday’s restuarant, so that’s just what we did.

I went out to the Friday’s deck after a few minutes, which is just above the left field wall.  You’ll also notice that there’s a gap between the outfield wall and the deck, creating a perfect place for baseballs to fall into.

Well, there was a ball down there.

So, I lowered my glove and glove tricked it for my first ball of the day.

This was my view from the Friday’s deck.

I didn’t expect any home runs to come in there, mostly because there was an overhang.

I was wrong.

Rickie Weeks drilled a line drive home run that struck a table and stayed in the deck seating area, so I ran over and picked it up.  It was ball #2.

Another ball would land in the deck, but bounce back onto the field.  I really couldn’t run around in there with some people seated and eating.

After the Brewers finished up, the Pirates came out.  The batters stretched near the cage,

while the pitchers threw in the outfield near the front row of Friday’s.  Chris Resop recognized me and waved.

Joel Hanrahan looked genuinely displeased to see me.

He shook his head and shouted, “Don’t you get enough at home?!”

The only other interaction I had with a Pirates player was with Evan Meek, who saw me and asked if I had family in Milwaukee.  He also asked how long of a drive it was and who I came with.  Here he is looking up at me.

Once the gates opened, I ran upstairs to try for a home run ball in left field.  The Pirates were already batting, and the first group contained Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Doumit, and Jose Tabata.  I figured they’d be able to reach the seats.

However, they experienced a power outage, except for Doumit, but every one of his homeruns were swallowed up by the bullpen in left center.

After the first group, I walked up to the back of the bleachers, and found ball #3 tucked under a bleacher.

I made my way over to right field for the rest of the Pirates batting practice, since a majority of the team is left handed.  When I entered the bleachers, there were already several dozen fans there, but they all overlooked a ball that was in the front row, again, hidden under a bleacher.

It was ball #4 on the day.

While in right field, there was an amazing glove trick opportunity for four balls that were directly below me.

However, Euclides Rojas was in the bullpen unpacking gear, so I decided to wait.  Unfortunately for me, he then made his way over and picked up all four.  I politely asked for one, but despite being the only Pirates fan in right field, I was denied.  Every time I’ve ever asked Rojas for a ball, I’ve been glared at.  I miss old bullpen coach Luis Dorante.

Ball #5 on the day was thrown by Ross Ohlendorf, probably the most generous Pirates player.

He tossed many balls into the crowd, and was, as usual, going all out to catch every ball hit within 200 feet of him.  He had to throw the balls back in left handed, since his shoulder is injured.  His toss to me was also left handed.  It was inaccurate, over my head and to my right, but I was able to track it down before other fans got it.  “I got it Ross!” I called down.  “Thank you!”  He smiled and waved.

There was only one home run hit into the upper bleachers, and I didn’t get it.

There is a big overhang , so the lower bleachers were virtually worthless.  Many of the home runs went to center field and the Toyota Home Run Porch:

Near the end of batting practice, I glove tricked a ball in the Pirates bullpen.  It was at least 20 feet below, so it was pretty noticeable to everyone in the stadium.  The section below could be heard chanting “Go! Go! Go! Go!” as I slowly pulled my glove up with the ball tucked inside.  BP ended right after I glove tricked the ball, so I put on my backpack and went to meet up with Amy.

After BP, we walked around the stadium, exploring the concourse.

Our seats were in the upper deck, and here was one of the concourses up there.

We ended up sitting near the top of the stadium in the upper deck near the right field foul pole.

Pre game panorama:

Bernie’s Slide:

Scoreboard and roof:

Panorama during game:

After the game, we checked into our hotel, 10 minutes from the stadium.  We also scored this hotel for $25 from Priceline.  It was good too, because the price of gas keeps creeping upwards.

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 2 found)
Season:  137 balls (55 hit, 34 thrown, 27 device, 20 found)
Games: 21 games
Average:  6.52 balls per game
Career:  1,259 balls
Attendance: 42,422

Amy took tons of photos.  Here’s the top three that have nothing to with my ballhawking, but were quality pics by my lovely fiancee:

#3 Jose Veras, concentrating on catching a ball during BP warm ups:

#2 Heberto “Herbie” Andrade blows a bubble

#1 Daniel McCutchen has pitched really well this year and was recently promoted to set up man to Joel Hanrahan.  The reason for his effectiveness?  This wildly distracting face upon delivering the pitch:

5-13-11 Progressive Field, Cleveland

I took my first trip to Cleveland on Friday.  Last year, I made 19 trips to Cleveland and was a 20 game season ticket holder.  I didn’t renew my tickets and plan on making fewer trips this year, even though Progressive Field is one of my favorite stadiums to ballhawk in.

Amy was along with me for a weekend trip, that included a stop in Cleveland, and then two games at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Saturday and Sunday.

I thought batting practice might be cancelled.  There was a 60% chance of rain, and the forecast predicted heavy PM thunderstorms.  In fact, most of the trip was in heavy rain.

When we arrived, the rain had stopped, but when I peeked into the stadium, I saw the tarp out on the field, which is never a good sign – but it was negated by the fact that the cage was up, and there were several Indians out throwing.  The only thing that the rain had ruined was early batting practice, meaning easter eggs would be unlikely.

Amy got in line at Gate C, and even though we arrived at 3:50, we were still first in line.  I was hoping that maybe batting practice had started so there would be some balls in the seats, but it didn’t.

When I ran in, there was nothing to be found.

That didn’t stop me from looking though.

It ended up costing me a couple balls, because some balls landed in the seats, and I was more focused on finding balls than tracking them.  It was an error, but luckily Travis Hafner was in the cage, and he was in fine form today.

My first ball of the day was a home run that I chased down after it landed in the seats.  It was hit by Hafner.

My second ball was a clean catch that I caught here, also hit by Hafner.

Ball #3 was a ball hit by Carlos Santana that I ran over and picked up.

My fourth ball was thrown to me by Chris Perez.

Perez told me to give it to a baby in the front row, which I did.

He said, “The next one is yours.”  He made an effort to go track down another ball and threw me ball #5.  Below is the catch:

Perez has thrown me more baseballs than any during batting practice.  He’s probably THE most generous pitcher in terms of distributing souvenirs to fans that I’ve seen.  Although Livan Hernandez of the Washington Nationals is a close second.  Thanks Chris!

Travis Hafner took his final cuts in the cage and launched a home run into Heritage Park.  I ran over immediately to go snag it.

Another teenaged ballhawk had beaten me down there as he was in the section by the bullpen, but he couldn’t find the ball anywhere.

I found it though, it was laying in the tall grass beneath one of the trees in Heritage Park.

The first Indians ground finished hitting and I had snagged six balls from that group alone.

The rest of Indians batting practice featured tons of close calls and near misses.  There was running around, but coming up short:

Getting late to a spot that a random fan would pick up:

Balls that were hit right at me, but would fall just short and hit off the wall:

Balls that would be snagged in hats by five year olds directly in front of my glove:

Balls that fans would jump over rows for and dive on the ground to get:

Scrum balls that I’d lose out on:

So even though the Indians BP was great, and I started out on fire, it all got evened out by that cold stretch, as I failed to snag another ball during the Indians portion of batting practice.

Luckily, the Seattle Mariners feature a ton of lefties, so my chances of getting a few more would be decent.

Ichiro was the first batter for the Mariners, and he didn’t disappoint.  He put ball after ball into the seats.

I forgot my Mariners shirt, and Mariners roster, so I felt under prepared for the Mariners batting practice.  The only thing I changed was my hat.

There were more close calls as I moved closer to the bullpen.

I did get one Ichiro home run.  A ball that landed a few rows behind me and bounced right to me.  Here I am about to label it

In the mean time, I had noticed a ball over along the foul line that was probably about six feet out from the wall.

It was an easy glove trick ball.  All I’d have to do is fling my glove out a few feet, knock the ball closer to the wall, and it’d be mine.  The only problem was that a security guard was thirty feet down the line, staring directly at the area where I’d have to do the glove trick.

I decided to go and just do it quickly.  I went and snagged the ball, as planned, and the security supervisor marched down and demanded that I give the ball back.  I did.  But it wasn’t the same ball.  It was a beat up decoy ball that Nick and I use to play catch with on the Roberto Clemente bridge.  I kept ball #8 in my possession.

As I made my way back to right field, I found ball #9 that had gone unnoticed by everyone else that had been over in that section for a good ten minutes.

Back in right field, ball #10 was a clean catch that literally saved some lady’s face.  I ran over and caught the ball on the run directly in front of an elderly woman who wasn’t paying attention at all.  Amy didn’t get the picture because it was obstructed, but here I am labeling the ball.

Amy was sitting probably about twenty rows back taking pictures, when one of the lefties hit a bomb that landed a section over from her.  There was no one in the vicinity but her, so as several other fans raced in to claim it.  She got up and acted like she was going to go snag the ball.  This caused the other fans to lay off, and gave me enough time to go get the ball.  Amy knows that if she had picked it up, it wouldn’t have counted, so that’s why she left it there for me to get.  She gets a huge assist on ball #11.

It was picked up in row R under a seat

Ball #12 was a clean catch of an unknown Mariners left handed hitter.  Here I am about to make the catch:

And the reaction of several fans afterwards – you can see the guy pointing at me, saying Good Catch!

That had tied my personal record for balls in one game at Progressive Field.

My thirteenth ball was snagged over by the bullpen in a crowd of people.

It was a line drive home run that smacked an elderly man directly in the chest, knocking him down into his chair.  I picked the ball up a row behind him and gave it to him.  It would’ve been nice to have kept my thirteenth ball, but given the situation, I felt I had to give the ball up.

Amy and I left right after batting practice to head to Milwaukee.

We stopped at Jersey Mike’s just outside of Cleveland, one of Amy’s favorite restaurants.

We stopped off in Indiana at a hotel in Mishawaka IN.  I got it on priceline for $25.

Here are today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  13 balls (9 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season:  131 balls (54 hit, 33 thrown, 25 device, 18 found)
Games: 20 games
Average:  6.55 balls per game
Career:  1,253 balls
Attendance: 33,774

5-11-11 PNC Park

My day got off to a great start before the gates even opened.   I spent 4:15-4:50 on the Riverwalk outside of the stadium.  I did the same thing yesterday, but not even one ball came out. 

Today, that would be different.  I misplayed one ball that rather than knocking down with my body, I let hit the concrete to play it on a bounce.  The ball took a gigantic hop and went right into the river. 

The second ball I had a chance on, I made sure to knock the ball down with my body.  It was another home run that ripped through a tree, hit me, and settled in the grass, where I smothered it.  It was my first ball of the day.  It all happened here.
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A few minutes later, I cleanly snagged another home run ball on the fly as it one-bounced out of the stadium here:
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When the gates opened, Ross Ohlendorf tossed me ball #3.  Ross is probably the best BP shagger in the National League.  He really hustles after everything.
DSC01006.JPGMy fourth and final ball of the Pirates BP was hit into the upper bleachers.  I raced up and claimed it about six rows back.

When the Dodgers came out to hit, I was able to glove trick ball #5 here:
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Then snagged a ground rule double here,
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and was tipped off by the guy in the picture below about another glove trick opportunity, which I reeled in for ball #7.
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I went over to right field at 5:30 to look for balls, but there were none.  I looked down at section 139, and there was a ball literally at another ballhawk’s feet that he didn’t see.  From the front row of the right field wall, it was unmistakeably white and round – an easter egg.  I ran down and picked it up for ball #8.  It was laying in a little bit of water here:
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but it wasn’t completely soaked.

I stayed in center field as Andre Ethier was hitting.  I was robbed twice, but managed to get my glove on one of his home runs that I momentarily dropped, but recovered to pick it up here:
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I had to reach down and try and make a basket catch, and it hit the bulge of string that I keep in my glove and popped out.  Luckily, no one else was in the area though to grab the misplayed ball.

I only needed one more ball for double digits.  I still had twenty minutes of batting practice to get it, and Jay Gibbons, the Dodgers best BP hitter was up.  I moved up to the steep Clemente wall, where Gibbons had routinely peppered hoome runs the past two days.  He hit a home run to my right so I took off to make the catch.  However, the right field wall has cupholders that are low to the ground. 
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I stumbled on one and went straight down, tumbling down into the row below. 
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I tried to use the seat below to break my fall, but my left arm basically went right through the folded up chair.  I bashed the side of my lower left leg, hit the outer portion of my left bicep, and left thigh on the seats and arm rests.  It hurt bad, but I popped right up as the ball was about ten feet away in the row I’d fallen into.  However, some random guy hastily climbed over three rows and snatched it from me at the last second.

Minutes later the same damn thing happened again.  Gibbons hit a home run, I tripped on a cupholder, and this time sort of rolled down into the second row.  The ball actually tipped off my glove as I was falling.  Again, a random gloveless fan picked it up. 

Double digits just wasn’t to be.

I got shut out for the rest of batting practice.  I decided that I needed to get 10, so rather than leaving after BP like I had originally planned.  I stayed.  I decided to get 10 out of the way before the game started, so I went to this building on top of the scoreboard area to claim an easter egg that had to have been thrown there by a player, because its too far to have been hit:
DSC01019.JPGSee it?
DSC01020.JPGWell, the area was off limits, so I quickly went in, expecting to see a ladder or something on the other side.  Instead, I saw this:
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Bathrooms.  Apparently there’s no possible way to get on top of that roof.

I waited around until the game started and was able to get Garrett Jones to toss me ball #10 after he warmed up before the second inning began.
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I added ball #11 before the sixth began with Andrew McCutchen’s outfield warm up ball:
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That was all for today.  Double digits!  A great day.

Here are today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  11 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device, 1 found)
Season:  113 balls (43 hit, 30 thrown, 24 device, 15 found)
Games: 18 games
Average:  6.28 balls per game
Career:  1,235 balls
Attendance: 12,910

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