Results tagged ‘ Indians ’

4-9-12 Progressive Field

I went to Progressive Field on Monday, despite an iffy forecast of afternoon showers.  When we arrived, it looked as if it could start raining at any moment.

At one point I felt a drop or two, but the rain never materialized, and the Indians took early batting practice, which I watched with Amy, Olivia, and Nick from just outside the Toyota Home Run Porch.

There were several balls that landed in the seats, but the ushers would later pick most of them up later and pocket them for themselves.

Before the gates opened, Nick and I played catch.  It was about the fifth consecutive day that I had thrown, and my arm was feeling it.  I threw a lot sidearm or 3/4 because my arm was sore.

When the gates opened, I ran in and found nothing.

After a long dry spell to start BP, an Indian hit a ball into the trees at Heritage Park, which I just reached in and grabbed to put me on the board:

My second ball was a clean home run catch here:

And ball #3 was a clean home run catch here on the fly:

which resulted in me being booed because a twelve year old was two rows in front of me, and the ball sailed over his glove by a foot and into mine.  I didn’t give him the ball, and he and his dad ended up getting at least four that I saw, since there was no one there.

That was it for the Indians BP.  The White Sox BP was pretty bad, as it featured a majority of right handed batters. To make it just a little more difficult, all of the Sox players had pullovers on, so I could only really identify a few of their players such as John Danks and Will Ohman.  Plus, a trainer’s son was snagging 85% of the balls in right center, so not a lot of players were snagging flies near the outfield fence for me to put a request in.

I got shut out until 6PM when I found ball #4 in the left field bleachers.  Somehow an usher missed it, as it was tucked neatly under a bleacher near a support.

Ball #5 was a disaster.  I hate snagging in left field because its so steep.  Tyler Flowers, a young catcher with a ton of power hit a home run at me. I started running up the steps in the bleachers, thinking it was way over my head.  As I turned to find the ball, the struck me square in the back, bounced around, and rolled down a few rows, where I picked it up.  It should’ve been an easy catch for me, but I botched it.  I had wanted a Flowers ball, so I guess I should be happy that I at least got one, but still, I feel like I’m off to a rusty start to the 2012 season.

At 6:10, the White Sox ended BP, clearing the field, except for the infielders.  In a rare scene, the Sox took infield practice.

It began with the coach hitting balls to the outfielders and working on cutting throws, then it progressed to double plays, etc.  It was pretty cool to watch.  I stood right behind the dugout and waited.

There were no other White Sox fans around, so I figured I had a good shot to get a ball.

It worked, as Mark Salas tossed me a well worn ball that had been used in infield practice for ball #6.

After BP, I got Amy and I some fried cookie dough:

Not a bad trip to Cleveland.  I wish I could get here more often.

Here’s today’s baseballs:

2012 Stats:
Game: 6 balls
Season: 33 balls
Lifetime:1,577 balls

2012 Cleveland Indians Season Ticket Design

While at work today, Amy sent me this text:

There’s something waiting for you at the door!  :)

I knew what it was.  My Indians season tickets!

I raced home and met Amy and Olivia on the porch, as they were waiting with the tickets.  We went inside and I opened the fedEx box.  Here were the contents:

The package featured a Day Planner, which was the nicest of the three plans that I received.  The Pirates sent out no such planner, the Reds sent a cheap calendar, but the Indians sent a nice bound book.

Inside there is a day by day space for you to plan your days around Indians games.  Game dates and TV information is also listed.

The beginning of the planner has 18 pages of information for season ticket holders about their benefits, exchange privileges etc.

Next I looked at the part that is most exciting.  The season ticket books.  The covers of the books were beautiful, featuring Progressive Field beneath a setting sun.

This cover blows away the Pirates cover, and beats the Reds cover too, in my opinion.

I had high expectations when I opened the Indians ticket book to check out what the tickets themselves look like.

Are you ready to see?

Here’s sheet one, games 1-6

And sheet two, games 7-12

The tickets feature Justin Masterson, Shin Shoo Choo, Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Manny Acta, Carlos Santana, Travis Hafner, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Grady Sizemore.  They then cycle through several more times through game 81.

What do you think of the design?

I think its far too repetitive and boring.  I like the idea of featuring players on the tickets.  The Pirates and Reds also featured their stars on their tickets.  However, the Indians tickets just look bland and plain after you look at them for a bit.  All of the player portraits are painted in the exact same style, with the exact same background.

Yawn.

I’m going to go with Reds as the best design, Pirates as second best, and Indians third for 2012 season ticket designs.

You can read about the Reds tickets that I received HERE, and the Pirates 2012 season tickets HERE.

The package also contained a letter from the Director of Season Ticket Sales.

It reads:

Dear Mr Jabs:
The Indians 112th Opening Day as a charter member of the American League is fast approaching and we look forward to having you at Progressive Field for the 2012 season.  The Tribe’s strong campaign in 2011 positioned us well to achieve our ultimate goal of bringing a championship to Cleveland.  Our talented young group of players has shown success at the Major League level and has propelled us from a developing team to contenders.

Our commitment to you, our most loyal fans, extends well beyond the field.  We are extremely proud of our heritage as one of Cleveland’s longest standing institutions and strive every day to live our guiding commitments to create memories, connect generations and celebrate families.  Baseball is unique in its ability to produce special moments nearly every day and we strive to foster an environment that celebrates the heritage of the game and the Indians, and gives you superior fan experiences that create a one of a kind, multi-generational memories.

Enclosed please find your Indians Season Ticket Holder Packet of Information which includes:
*Season ticket books
*Club Seat Test Drive Vouchers
*2012 Season Ticket Holder Guide and Planner
*Indians Team Shop Discount Coupons
*Pocket Schedule
*Parking passes

In addition, we have a number of exciting events for 2012 including post-game concerts, Indians Rally Alley Days, Fireworks Shows, Dollar Dog Nights, Kids Fun Days, and more.  Also, five bobble head nights and four replica jersey nights are on the calendar, offering the first 15,000 fans through the gates on each of these nights a keepsake of one of their favorite Indians players, past and present.

Last June, we added a dedicated staff to provide you service and maximize your investment in the Cleveland Indians.  This season, look to hear from your Client Service Specialist often with updates and invitations to exclusive events.  If at any time you have questions related to your season ticket package, please call 216-420-HITS, and we will connect you to your Service Specialist.

We thank you for your support and loyalty.

Go Tribe!
Sincerely,
Nick Arndt
Director, Season Ticket Sales.

By the way, if anyone is every going to be at Progressive Field and needs a 20% coupon, let me know – they sent me 12 of them.

So, ticket wise, I’m all ready to go for the 2012 season.  I have tickets to every game that I plan on attending except for the games that I’m heading to out West.  I’ll probably just turn to stubhub for those.

There’s only 21 more days until Opening Day.  Wow.  Also, you have until Sunday to win a CC Sabathia shirt.  To enter, all you have to do is comment.

Cleveland Indians 2012 Game Times

The Cleveland Indians still haven’t posted their 2012 Game Times on their website, which is very frustrating to those of us who are trying to plan our season schedule.  The Pirates released their game times over a month ago, as did many other teams.  Luckily, I was able to figure out the Indians 2012 game times by poking around on Ticketmaster.  The only thing that concerns me is that the game time for all Saturday games is 6:05 rather than 7:05.  Hopefully the Indians will open their gates at 3:30 rather than 4:30.  Does anyone have any info on Saturday opening times?  I’m looking at attending about six Saturday games there this year.

Anyhow, here are the 2012 Progressive Field Cleveland Indians Game Times for those of you that want to get planning and are tired of waiting for the website to update:

Indians vs Toronto Blue Jays
Thu, April 5, 2012, 3:05 PM

Indians vs Toronto Blue Jays
Sat, April 7, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Toronto Blue Jays
Sun, April 8, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Chicago White Sox
Mon, April 9, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Chicago White Sox
Tue, April 10, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Chicago White Sox
Wed, April 11, 2012, 12:05 PM

Indians vs Kansas City Royals
Tue, April 24, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Kansas City Royals
Wed, April 25, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Kansas City Royals
Thu, April 26, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Los Angeles Angels
Fri, April 27, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Los Angeles Angels
Sat, April 28, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Los Angeles Angels
Sun, April 29, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Texas Rangers
Fri, May 4, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Texas Rangers
Sat, May 5, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Texas Rangers
Sun, May 6, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Chicago White Sox
Mon, May 7, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Chicago White Sox
Tue, May 8, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Chicago White Sox
Wed, May 9, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Seattle Mariners
Wed, May 16, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Seattle Mariners
Thu, May 17, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Miami Marlins
Fri, May 18, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Miami Marlins
Sat, May 19, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Miami Marlins
Sun, May 20, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Detroit Tigers
Tue, May 22, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Detroit Tigers
Wed, May 23, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Detroit Tigers
Thu, May 24, 2012, 12:05 PM

Indians vs Kansas City Royals
Mon, May 28, 2012, 4:05 PM

Indians vs Kansas City Royals
Tue, May 29, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Kansas City Royals
Wed, May 30, 2012, 12:05 PM

Indians vs Minnesota Twins
Fri, June 1, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Minnesota Twins
Sat, June 2, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Minnesota Twins
Sun, June 3, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Pittsburgh Pirates
Fri, June 15, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Pittsburgh Pirates
Sat, June 16, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Pittsburgh Pirates
Sun, June 17, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Cincinnati Reds
Mon, June 18, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Cincinnati Reds
Tue, June 19, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Cincinnati Reds
Wed, June 20, 2012, 12:05 PM

Indians vs Los Angeles Angels
Mon, July 2, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Los Angeles Angels
Tue, July 3, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Los Angeles Angels
Wed, July 4, 2012, 4:05 PM

Indians vs Tampa Bay Rays
Thu, July 5, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Tampa Bay Rays
Fri, July 6, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Tampa Bay Rays
Sat, July 7, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Tampa Bay Rays
Sun, July 8, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Baltimore Orioles
Fri, July 20, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Baltimore Orioles
Sat, July 21, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Baltimore Orioles
Sun, July 22, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Baltimore Orioles
Mon, July 23, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Detroit Tigers
Tue, July 24, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Detroit Tigers
Wed, July 25, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Detroit Tigers
Thu, July 26, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Minnesota Twins
Mon, August 6, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Minnesota Twins
Tue, August 7, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Minnesota Twins
Wed, August 8, 2012, 12:05 PM

Indians vs Boston Red Sox
Thu, August 9, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Boston Red Sox
Fri, August 10, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Boston Red Sox
Sat, August 11, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Boston Red Sox
Sun, August 12, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs New York Yankees
Fri, August 24, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs New York Yankees
Sat, August 25, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs New York Yankees
Sun, August 26, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Oakland Athletics
Mon, August 27, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Oakland Athletics
Tue, August 28, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Oakland Athletics
Wed, August 29, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Oakland Athletics
Thu, August 30, 2012, 12:05 PM

Indians vs Texas Rangers
Fri, August 31, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Texas Rangers
Sat, September 1, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Texas Rangers
Sun, September 2, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Detroit Tigers
Fri, September 14, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Detroit Tigers
Sat, September 15, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Detroit Tigers
Sun, September 16, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Minnesota Twins
Tue, September 18, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Minnesota Twins
Wed, September 19, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Minnesota Twins
Thu, September 20, 2012, 12:05 PM

Indians vs Kansas City Royals
Fri, September 28, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Kansas City Royals
Sat, September 29, 2012, 6:05 PM

Indians vs Kansas City Royals
Sun, September 30, 2012, 1:05 PM

Indians vs Chicago White Sox
Mon, October 1, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Chicago White Sox
Tue, October 2, 2012, 7:05 PM

Indians vs Chicago White Sox
Wed, October 3, 2012, 7:05 PM

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

6-18-11 Progressive Field

Amy and I checked out of the hotel around 11:30, and met up with Nick, who had gone out for breakfast.  We had five hours to kill before the gates of Progressive Field would open at 4:30, so we walked around Cleveland.

I originally wanted to find a park so I could sit down and read the paper and get out of the sun for a bit.  So, we began walking toward Settler’s Landing Park, which I saw on a map on my Iphone.  It looked like it was on a little river, which turned out to be a canal.  I thought there would be some trees, picnic tables and benches.

I was wrong.  We were greeted by a hulking, rusting bridge that looked like it had been swept up by a tornado and driven into the ground vertically.  It was such an eyesore.

I guess decades ago it was a drawbridge from a rail line which obviously no longer exists.

We walked around the park, and found nothing but homeless people, and giant sized mushrooms.

After a couple photos of the underside of Cleveland,

we headed toward lake Erie, and walked around the Cleveland Browns Football stadium.

Nick then headed to get lunch and to the ballpark, while Amy and I explored the perimeter of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,

and visited the Cleveland Science Center, where we grabbed a bite to eat at a Pizza Hut express, and brushed up on our periodic table of elements.  Can you name all of them in the photo?

When it came time to enter the stadium, things got off to a tough start.  I only got one ball from the Indians.  Chris Perez threw a ball toward a couple of fans in the front row, but they interfered with each other and both missed it.  You’ll see me standing there, several rows back.

The ball bounced on the concrete and ended up maybe ten rows back, where I grabbed it to get on the board:

The Indians finished hitting at 5:05.  When the Pirates came out, the bad luck continued, and I still only had one baseball when 5:30 rolled around and I headed to left field:

Over in left field, my luck changed as Dusty Brown tossed me ball #2 of the day.

I was hoping that my Pirates gear would make me stand out over the other fans.

I headed back over to center field for the Pirates second group, which featured several lefties.

While there, I caught a Lyle Overbay home run on the fly.  It was a full extension leaping catch in this area.

The next batter, Garrett Jones, hit a home run that I caught the next section over, also on the fly for ball #4.

I headed back over to left field for the final group, where Jose Tabata tossed me my fifth ball of the day.  He’s on the right, talking with Jose Veras:

I finished batting practice in left field, and ended up with five baseballs on the day.
Erik Jabs
After batting practice Amy and I spun the Prize Wheel.  She won a Duncan Donuts buy one get one free iced coffee coupon, and I won a free drink from Circle K stores.  Both garbage prizes.  Blah.

After that, we got ice cream cones as we made our way to our seats in the upper deck.

It was a losing battle against the ice cream, which melted faster than we could eat it.  Amy’s hands were a mess.

After running to the bathroom to get wet paper towels for us to clean up, it was time for the first pitch.

Our seats were in Section 556, Row X, which was the very last row in the upper deck, and they were great.  There was a strong breeze the entire time we were there, and it really kept us cool.


I wish we could’ve stayed for the entire game, but we had to leave around 7:40 to walk back to the bus stop to catch our bus headed back to Pittsburgh.

Before leaving, we took a picture:

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (2 hit, 3 thrown)
Season:  232 balls (89 hit, 52 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 38 games
Average:  6.11 balls per game
Career:  1,354 balls
Attendance: 31,865

6-17-11 Progressive Field

I booked Amy and I tickets on megabus.com for a bus headed to Cleveland for the Pirates-Indians series.  It cost me $3 to go there, and $5 for the return fare, since I booked it a couple weeks in advance.  You can’t beat that.

This was my second game of the year at Progressive Field, which is way down from last year when I attended 19.

Upon entering the stadium and looking for baseballs, I found one in Heritage Park in center field.  Unreachable with my arm, I used the ‘Cleveland stick’ to reach under the wall and snag this one.

My second ball of the day was a Travis Hafner home run that landed several rows behind me that I was able to grab before a couple of other fans.

Moments later, Hafner hit another home run that I snagged on the fly for ball #3.

A couple minutes after that, I noticed a ball land in the trees of Heritage Park.  I ran over and was able to reach in and grab it without the use of any device.

In the meantime, there were a few balls in the bullpen.  I ended up glove tricking one of them after at least 10 attempts at knocking the ball closer to the wall.  Once the ball was close enough to the wall, I reeled it in for ball #5, and was given a round of applause by those fans who watched the whole ordeal.

When the Pirates came out to hit, one of the Buccos hit a home run that landed on the bullpen roof in center field.

I used the Cleveland stick – which reaches 6 feet (plus at least three feet of my arm length) to just barely reach it.

I gave it away to a father and son who stood closeby and watched the whole thing:

The father thanked me profusely and insisted that I take six blow pops in return for the ball.

Less than a minute after snagging ball #6, Daniel McCutchen ran past while doing sprints and flipped a ball up into the stands, right to me.  I didn’t even ask for it.  Maybe it was my bright gold shirt.  Regardless, it was my seventh of the day.

I finished batting practice in left field and was tossed #8 by Jeff Karstens.  I had given up asking Jeff Karstens for balls in 2009, because he had completely ignored every request that I ever put in for a ball.  I didn’t even ask for this particular ball.  A batter hit it off the left field wall, Jeff ran over, picked it up, looked at me, and fired it right to me.

After batting practice, I was thrown ball #9 in the Pirates bullpen by bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade.

I left right after that, despite needing just one more for double digits.  Amy was waiting in the hotel, and I wanted to go out to eat with her.

We went to East 4th street, where there are a few restaurants and was seemingly the only stretch of any street in Cleveland that wasn’t abandoned and boarded up.

We ate at Zocalo – a Mexican restaurant, and it was fantastic.  The entrance was a little iffy, but everything else was first class.

From the chips, to the quesadillas, to the dessert that we shared.  A++

From the chips, to the quesadillas, to the dessert that we shared.

A++

After that, we walked back to the hotel room for a brief 15 minute pit stop, and then went back out to explore the city.  We walked around for an hour or two, and watched the fireworks after the game from the rooftop on a parking garage downtown.

Those couple hours were by far my favorite of the entire weekend trip.

Here’s today’s baseballs (8 pictures because I gave one away):

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  9 balls (3 hit, 3 thrown, 3 device)
Season:  227 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 37 games
Average:  6.14 balls per game
Career:  1,349 balls
Attendance: 38,549

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

1-23-11 Cooperstown NY

This weekend, I went to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY.
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Cooperstown is a little over 7 hours from Pittsburgh, so we drove most of the way on Saturday afternoon and stayed overnight in Binghamton NY.

The next day, we braved the 8 degree weather and snow and made our way to Cooperstown.  There were lots of baseball shops lining Main Street on the way to Cooperstown.  Unfortunately, since it was Sunday, most of them were closed.  The Hall of Fame is open 9AM-5PM daily though.

Here I am outside of the Hall of Fame.  (I know, Where’s my coat?!)
100_6482.JPGFrom Ebbets Field:
There was a large portion on this floor for Hank Aaron
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And another section of the third floor was dedicated to Statistics.  It featured all major statistical categories with the all time career record holder and active leaders:
100_6831.JPGHere’s a short video of that section of the Hall.

Also nearby was a display case of a ball from every No-Hitter thrown in the major leagues since 1940. 
100_6840.JPGAnother brief video:

The next exhibit was a display of World Series rings dating back to the early 1900′s.
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It was pretty cool.

Here are two short videos of the rings:

Near the exit of the third floor was a large display of baseball cards that included all different kinds of cards from baseball’s history.  There was another Honus Wagner 1909 card in there.
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Another brief video:

We finished our trip by heading over to the library on the first floor which we missed the first time through.

Here is a view of the Gallery from the library entrance:
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And the courtyard of the hall of fame with some 18 inches of snow or so burying the statues there:
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There wasn’t much in this section. 

There was a small area devoted to movies:
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that had old baseball movie posters
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and displays:
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The library section was a ghost town, everything was closed there.  The Giamatti research center, the museum, the bullpen theater.  All of it.

After several hours it was time to go.  We left a bit before 3PM and got back home around 10.
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It was well worth the trip.  I wouldn’t buy a membership and go all the time, but it’s a must for any baseball fan that has never been there.  I’d say there’s pretty much something for every hardcore baseball fan there.

Coming up next:  Pirates Winter Caravan and Piratefest entries.

8-28-10 Progressive Field

I knew coming into today that it would be my final game for the month of August.  To motivate myself to do well in August, I decided that I would try to break the one month record for most balls snagged in one month.  That record was 138 balls, snagged by Zack Hample in August of 2008.

Coming into today I needed to snag three baseballs to break that record.  I made the trip to Progressive Field solo, so I don’t have any great pictures of my performance, but I’ll do my best to illustrate the day.

I was probably about the seventh person in line.  My motivation factor has been declining throughout the season, so I wasn’t there hours before the gates opened to be first in line.  I didn’t even look to see if any of the other teams had taken batting practice.

Upon entering, apparently they did take batting practice because there were seven balls in the seats.  I was able to get two of them in the front row in right center field.  They were within a few feet of each other.  Those two balls tied the one month record.  I just needed one more.

It would come from Chris Perez. 
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Perez whistled and threw a ball in my direction.  There were some other folks near me, so I’m not sure exactly who the intended target was, but it ended up landing about seven or eight rows back in a completely empty area.  The ball must’ve hit an armrest on a chair because it took a fortuitous hop and landed in my row at my feet.  That was ball #3 of the month, #139 of the month of August, and the record breaker.  

I relaxed a bit and wasn’t being real aggressive running after baseballs, despite the crowd looking like this as the Indians wrapped up their BP.
100_4082.JPGbut I only spin PNC Park’s prize wheel under the left field bleachers.

I left, taking home seven baseballs, which brought my total to the month to 143.

Here’s a recap of my busy month of August.  Click on any of the below links for a recap:

7-  8/28/10 Progressive Field
3 – 8/25/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/24/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/23/10 PNC Park
1 – 8/22/10 PNC Park
5 – 8/21/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/19/10 PNC Park
7 – 8/18/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/17/10 PNC Park
10- 8/16/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/13/10 Progressive Field
5 – 8/12/10 Progressive Field
4 – 8/10/10 Progressive Field
8 – 8/9/10 Camden Yards
5 – 8/8/10 PNC Park
10- 8/7/10 PNC Park
6 – 8/6/10 PNC Park
8 – 8/5/10 PNC Park
5 – 8/4/10 Camden Yards
10- 8/3/10 PNC Park
13- 8/2/10 PNC Park
Total:  143 balls in 22 games = 6.5 per game

This likely is my last game at Progressive Field this year.
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Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:

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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls ( 1 hit, 3 thrown, 3 found )
Season:  494 balls (240 hit, 113 thrown, 72 device, 69 found)
Games: 77 games
Average:  6.42 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,072 balls
Streak:  173 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 16,372
Balls in the month of August:  143 (new record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 50

8-13-10 Progressive Field

Yet another day at Progressive Field.

When I entered the stadium I found my first ball of the day in the second row back in the second section from the visitor’s bullpen.
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I had to be sneaky about it because there were several people in the front row, so I casually walked over to the ball without looking at it and picked it up.  Had I jogged toward it looking at it someone may have noticed and turned around and grabbed it.

(The ball extended my snagging streak to 162 games with at least one ball snagged.  162 is an important number in baseball – its the number of games each team plays total during the season.)

My second ball of the day was a ground rule double hit by Shelley Duncan.  It bounced into the trees, and was waiting in Heritage Park when I got there,
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls ( 4 hit, 1 device, 1 found )
Season:  431 balls (221 hit, 95 thrown, 59 device, 56 found)
Balls in the month of August:  80
Games: 66 games
Average:  6.53 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,009 balls
Streak:  162 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 26,424

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