Results tagged ‘ Orioles ’

4-28-12 Camden Yards

I almost didn’t go to this game.  The forecast called for a 50% chance of rain.  Nick Pelescak decided not to go.  So, around 11 AM, Amy and I were sitting talking about what we were going to do for the day, she really wanted to go to Baltimore as she, like I, enjoy traveling.  I looked at the hourly forecast one more time before leaving:

I figured if it did rain, I should at least be able to get a ball from an Athletics pitcher with my A’s jersey with a gold (pirates) sweatshirt underneath.

We arrived at the stadium at 3:55, and there were literally 20 people ahead of us.

Its a good thing that we got there when we did because 30 minutes later, the line snaked far off into the distance out of view.

Everyone was here to see the unveiling of the Frank Robinson statue in center field and get their replica statue giveaway.

The gate surprising opened a couple minutes early, so I made a mad dash around the stadium into left field.  You may be able to see me in the picture below, I’m wearing an orange shirt:

I got on the board early as I caught a Robert Andino home run on the fly here:

I had to run a section and a half to make the catch, but it felt good to get on the board early, especially as I was worried about the stands crowding up quickly.  Unfortunately, the ball wasn’t a commemorative.

Not long later, an Orioles lefty hit a home run near the bullpen that I ran over and caught barehanded as it bounced off of a seat.  Commemorative!

During the Orioles last group, I ditched the left field bleachers because I felt I had a better chance of getting a ball from an Athletics pitcher or two or three.

There weren’t many people there, and I had A’s gear on, so I was hoping that they’d hook me up.  Jerry Blevins did when he was done, tossing me a commemorative ball:

But he was the only pitcher to toss me one, so I returned to left field.

Coco Crisp was hitting some bombs, and one of his liners rolled to the warning track.  I had told the folks in the front row that I’d give them the ball if they let me get it, so they let me glove trick.  When I pulled it up I noticed it was a brand new white shiny Oriole Park commemorative.  I asked the guy who moved to his left for me if he’d accept another ball, since I wanted the Orioles Park one, he said he didn’t care, he just wanted a ball, so I gave him one of my decoy ones that I brought from home.

It was only 5:33 and I had 4 balls, not bad for a half hour.  But then, the groundscrew came out and put the tarp on, ending the A’s batting practice shortly after it had gotten started.  It had been lightly sprinkling, but nothing that the A’s couldn’t have hit through.  I was very disappointed.  I decided to run over to the dugout to try to get a ball as the A’s made their way off the field, but was too late.

At the dugout, I noticed a player sitting in the corner signing autographs.  It was Yoenis Cespedes.  Yes, THE Yoenis Cespedes – the player who I came all the way from Pittsburgh to see take batting practice.

I joined the small group of autograph seekers huddled in the front row and passed Yoenis the shiny new commemorative that I had just glove tricked in left field moments earlier.

He signed the ball:

He seemed very quiet and humble – Baltimore ballhawk Avi Miller said that he’d been signing each day for every fan that asked.

The trip was not a waste at all, even though 60% of BP got rained out.  Not only did I get four baseballs and a Cespedes autographed baseball, I also got four Frank Robinson statues:

Believe it or not, I sold all 4 statues within 12 hours on ebay for $57 each with shipping included.  So, I made $200 on those 4 giveaways.  I could’ve made so much more money.  As it was raining, I walked around the seating bowl looking for baseballs and came across at least 12 abandoned Frank Robinson statues that I suppose I could’ve just picked up.  I didn’t though.  I was torn – did the people just forget them?  They probably didn’t even care if they were just going to leave them there in the rain…  Oh well.

Here’s today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

The Yoenis ball is #1628, which is unnumbered because I’m no longer numbering glove trick balls with a clean sweet spot for the purpose of getting them signed.

It turned out to be a great trip for Amy, Olivia and I.  After BP we went out to eat in Baltimore because we didn’t want to stay at the game if there were going to be off an on showers.

One last pic with the Cespedes autograph:

Stats:
Game: 4 balls
Season: 84 balls
Games: 15 games
Lifetime: 1,628 balls
Attendance: 26,926

4-6-12 Camden Yards Opening Day

Amy, Olivia and I got up at 6AM today in order to drive to Baltimore to catch the Orioles home opener.  Amy and Olivia had never experienced an Opening Day (Amy always has to work them) so they were both excited.

Fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak teamed up with me on this trip, and we all left around 6:50 AM.  After a stop, we arrived at the Camden Yards gates at 11:20 AM and were fourth in line.

It was pretty chilly today, so Nick and I played catch for a bit to stay warm while Amy and Olivia snuggled together.  At 12 noon, all of the gates opened.  Every gate in the park.  There would be no season ticket holder only time today.

PNC Park did the same thing yesterday.  However, Camden Yards opened their gates three hours early, while PNC Park opened theirs two.

Upon entering, the Orioles players were playing catch along the first base line, and had yet to begin batting practice.

I was able to get Matt Wieters to toss me ball #1 on the day.  It helped that there weren’t many other fans around.  Fellow ballhawk and Baltimore regular Matt Hersl congratulated me on the first ball of the 2012 season.  He told me that ironically, he got the first ball of the 2011 season – from Matt Wieters.

Since I was the first one to get a ball, I decided to move back about 10 rows so the other ballhawks could try their luck.  I also thought that maybe a player would see me in my Ripken jersey and long toss me.  As I was walking up the stairs I spotted an Easter Egg.

It was only about three rows up, so it likely was an overthrow that the players had while warming up before the gates opened.

Anyhow, I headed out to left field once batting practice got under way.  The first Orioles group didn’t display much power, but I did snag a ground rule double here:

It actually tipped off my glove, but I recovered to pick it up in the row in front of me.

As batting practice progressed, left field got more and more crowded, so I spent some time going back and forth between left field and center field.

While in center field I glove tricked ball #4:

and ball #5 from the gap:

I saw ball#5 get bobbled by fans in the front row while I was in left field.  So, when I used the glove trick, I offered it to the fans nearby, asking if one of them had dropped it down there.  They just smiled and shook their heads no.  Nice people.

Near the end of the Orioles BP, I noticed that the Twins all came out to warm up.  I made my way from center field to the third base line and was able to get this player to toss me ball #6.  After throwing me the ball, he headed straight to third base to take grounders.  Can I get some help on who this is?

After snagging the ball, I took a closer look at it, and it was an Orioles Park 20th anniversary commemorative ball.  That made my day.

20120406-163117.jpg
The Twins are very heavily left handed, so I spent their entire batting practice in center field.  While there, I glove tricked another ball, after which an Orioles staff member came down to speak with me.  He wanted to know what I was doing.  I explained it to him and he told me how he thought I was lowering things down onto the field to get signed because of the pen that is attached to my glove.  I told him, “I just use it to get the balls out of the gap, I’m not putting it on the field, is that ok?”  He responded by telling me, “By all means, you’re more than welcome to do that.  Me and a fellow employee we’re just wondering is all.”

Everyone is so nice on Opening Day.

My eighth ball of batting practice was a clean catch of a line drive home run here:

There were several arms flailing for it, and I just took a few steps down the stairs and made the clean catch.

It was my 8th ball of the day, which tied a personal best for me at Camden Yards.  I had snagged eight there two other times.  Batting practice was about over, so I headed over to the Twins dugout to try and get #9:

It didn’t happen though, but I was still more than happy with 8:

After BP, Amy, Olivia and I made our way to our seats.

Olivia had her own special seat that ‘the Easter Bunny’ brought her:

She really took everything in:

One of the cool things about Opening Day is the ceremonies that precede the game.  Here are the Twins lining up on the field:

And the Orioles came out of the bullpen area on a long Orange Carpet:

Here’s a video of the Orioles introductions:

And the National Anthem.  You always know you’re in Baltimore when the song reaches the “Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner…”  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch the Anthem:

It was a great Opening Day.  The Orioles ended up winning the game 4-2.  This was the view from our seats:

And here are today’s baseballs:

Amy bought me this shirt:

She’s the best!

2012 Stats:
Game: 8 Balls
Season: 13 Balls
Career: 1,557 Balls
Attendance: 46,773 (I think this may be the largest attended game I’ve ever been at)

Don’t forget about the Shirt giveaway – this Sunday.

24 hour Nick Markakis Shirt Trivia Contest

It so nice outside – and the blog that I’m working on will take at least an hour to complete, so I’ll save it for another day, and do a quick blog that I can edit easily from my phone. I’ve decided to give away this Nick Markakis shirt. It’s a medium, and I originally bought it for Amy to wear to one of our games during the Opening Week, but it has a small stain on the back. I’m no laundry expert, but a little tide to go should take it right out. Anyway, she’s getting a new one, and I’m giving this one away right now!

Here’s the front:

The back:

The tags:

The tiny tiny stain:

To win, it’s simple:

Get the most points. You earn points by answer questions correctly. The questions can be about anything. Baseball, Ballhawking, Nick Markakis, Me, Random Trivia, etc.

Since most people check my blogs at different times of the day, I decided that it’s only fair to leave the contest open for 24 hours. Throughout the next 24 hours, I’ll post quick questions from my phone and compile standings from time to time.

Whoever answers correctly first wins. You must comment on this blog to enter. When you answer a question, you MUST put the question number with your answer.

For example: 11. What is my favorite team? You MUST answer: 11. Pittsburgh Pirates

If you don’t put the question number, then people’s responses will get all jumbled and make it harder for me to sort through to find who’s first.

You may think you’ve answered first, but maybe not – because sometimes I have to approve new commenters’ comments. So, a new commenter may answer a question at 5:13pm, and you answer one at 5:14pm – the blog will show you as the first commenter until I approve the other person’s comment. At that time, the blog will show the comments in the correct order – with the new commenter winning the question if correct.

Sound confusing? Hopefully not. You may want to look at the comments so you don’t waste your time with duplicate answers because whoever is first obviously would get the point.

Here’s your questions:

1) What nationality is Nick Markakis?
Greek and American, Paul Ellis
My user handle on this site when I comment is 333greystreet.
2) Where does the 333 come from?
House number of boyhood home
3) Where does greystreet come from?
Dave Matthews Band song, my favorite from 2000-2003ish, Ian Weir
4) Who is my favorite Pittsburgh Pirates player?
Evan Meek, Matt Jackson
5) Where did I meet Amy, the love of my life?
PNC Park! Nick Badders
6) What car part gave me trouble during the 2011 season-especially on a trip to Cleveland?
Radiator, PhilliesWSChamps
7) Who do the Orioles play on Opening Day?
Minnesota Twins, TeenRedsFan
8) I’ve played catch with 2 major leaguers prior to games. Name the players.
Ramon Troncoso, Sean Gallagher
9) I used the Cleveland stick to snag a game home run off the bat of this former AL MVP.
Justin Morneau, TeenRedsFan
10) I injured my finger by jamming it on a railing while racing Nick in 2011 for a ball hit by what former Pirate?
Xavier Nady, TeenRedsFan
11) I did a book report in 8th grade on the book ‘My Favorite Summer 1956′. Who was the book about?
Mickey Mantle, TeenRedsFan
12) Who was my favorite Pirates player when I was growing up?
Andy Van Slyke
13) My ballhawking glove features whose signature in the pocket?
Ryne Sandberg, TeenRedsFan
14) What was the first ever commemorative ball that I snagged?
2006 Futures Ball
15) In my ballfields of PA series, what was the lowest rated field that I visited?
West Field, TeenRedsFan
16) My Oakland Athletics ballhawking shirt is a jersey shirt of this former A’s player.
Nick Swisher
17) The first time I saw Dave Matthews Band was in 2000 at this venue.
Three Rivers Stadium, Matt Jackson
18) How many parking tickets have I received during my ballhawking career.
2, in 2007 and 2011
19) What powerful politician lived 2 doors down from me during my freshman year of college?
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
20) Before becoming friends with Nick Pelescak, he and his brother called me by this nickname amongst themselves, since they didn’t know my name.
Enemy #1
21) Who did I ballhawk regularly with during the 2008 season at PNC Park?
Andrew McDonald, NYBisons
22) Nick Pelescak broke the single game PNC Park record on a weekday when I was absent for what reason?
Coaching volleyball
23) Who was my guest the first time that I hit on the field at PNC Park as part of my season ticket benefits package?
My dad – 2008
24) Where was my first ever job? (restaurant)
Burger King, NYBisons
25) My dad once had triples of this man in his baseball card collection, so he gave me his 1962 Topps Card. I thought it was awesome. Who was that player?
Stan Musial, TeenRedsFan
26) What was the first year/set that I started collecting in baseball cards?
1989 Topps NY Bisons, Paul Ellis
27) What 1989 Fleer Baseball Card had ‘The F-word’ on display on the bat knob that the player was holding?
Billy Ripken, NYBisons
28) Nick Markakis hit his first major league home run off of what former Pirates pitcher?
Dan Miceli, TeenRedsFan
29) This long time Pittsburgh ballhawk has snagged 1000 balls over 40 years at Forbes Field, Three Rivers, and PNC Park.
Harold, Ian Weir
30) I’ve attended 2 games with my brother while ballhawking. What’s his name?
Jon Jabs, NY Bisons
31) This Orioles broadcaster committed suicide during the 2011 season.
Mike Flanagan, TeenRedsFan
32) Who is my least favorite Pirates player?
Joel Hanrahan, Mateo Fischer
33) I drove past 2 stadiums that I’ve never set foot in on other trips during the past 2 years. What are those 2 stadiums?
US Cellular Field, NY Bisons (0.5 pt)
Safeco Field, Seattle (2010 when seeing DMB at the Gorge)
34) Players throw balls into the stands, Dave Matthews flicks pics into the crowd at DMB concerts, but you could also snag this item thrown by Carter Beauford.
Drumstick, NYBisons
35) I’ve never been crazy in love with Camden Yards like other ballhawks. Perhaps it has something to do with what happened to me 30 seconds after entering the stadium for the first time. What happened?
Badly twisted my ankle, PhilliesWSChamps
36) I got into ballhawking later than most. Things could’ve been different. When I was 10, I narrowly missed catching a foul ball while sitting past third base off the bat of this San Diego Padre. Had I caught the ball maybe I’d have gotten into ballhawking earlier.
Tony Gwynn
37) I’ve been buying a few jerseys throughout the offseason. I bought one last week for a colossal discount. A stitched jersey for $19.99? Couldn’t pass it up. Whose jersey did I buy?
Prince Fielder
38) Every Wednesday as a kid I would rush home to read what Baseball publication?
Baseball Weekly
39) I once lost my glove while attempting a ridiculously hard to reach ball in the Cleveland bullpen. What Brewers coach graciously returned my glove? (no more difficult glove tricks for me after that episode)
Marcus Hanel
40) What baseball book did Amy get me for Christmas 2010?
Moneyball, NYBisons
41) What team were the Pirates playing when my daughter was born?
Chicago Cubs, NYBisons
42) Who led the majors in home runs the year I was born?
Mike Schmidt 48, PhilliesWSChamps
43) I was at my grandma’s house in Connecticut when I received one of the worst kind of news that a kid could get on August 12th 1994. What had happened?
MLB Strike, NY Bisons
44) I don’t count Spring Training balls in my career numbers but how many have I snagged?
56
45) I attended one game at Citizens Bank Park.  What historic achievement did the Phillies accomplish in the first inning of that game?
10 Runs in the First, James
46) This Orioles player was one of my favorites when I was growing up, in fact, I had a whole binder dedicated to him filled with all of his baseball cards.
Cal Ripken Jr, NYBisons
47)  The first time I attended a Reds game in Cincinnati, I went with my best friend from my childhood.  Who was it?
Joe Filipowski, TeenRedsFan
48)  Who is the Pittsburgh Ballhawk who was given unrestricted access behind the outfield wall during the 80′s and 90′s at Three Rivers Stadium and claims to have picked up and kept over 5,000 baseballs?
Baseball Joe, Ian Weir
49)  What National News program interviewed me live in the Spring of 2011?
Fox News, NYBisons
50)  In my classroom at school I have a life sized poster of what baseball player?
Andrew McCutchen, Connor
51)  I snagged a Carlos Santana AA home run baseball at what Minor League Park?
Canal Park, James
52)  When I started my blog, how many baseballs had I snagged?
132, NY Bisons
53)  What player predicted a 50-50 season for himself in 2012?
Matt Kemp, James
54)  What Pirates player face-planted when reacting to the ball off the bat of a home run surrendered by Jo-Jo Reyes during a recent Spring Training game?
Alex Presley, NYBisons
55)  I once scaled a building to get a ball.  What was that building?
Concession Stand, Connor
56)  From 2008-2011 I held season tickets in what section of PNC Park?
Section 327, TeenRedsFan
57)  Who hit the longest home run at PNC Park and how many feet?
Sammy Sosa 484′, NY Bisons
58)  Zack Hample mentions my name on what page of his book ‘The Baseball?’
Page 329, TeenRedsFan
59)  When looking for a baseball last season in the grass surrounding the base of trees at Heritage Park, I found this object hidden and immediately turned it over to a supervisor.
A cellphone
60)  This Pittsburgh coach has held a grudge against me since catching me switching shirts to the visiting team.  He punishes me by throwing Nick a ball every day right in front of me, while ignoring me.
Heberto Andrade, TeenRedsFan
61)  This item dropped out of my backpack as I raced towards an Easter Egg in Cleveland in late 2011.  I got the ball – an Angels commemorative, but someone stole this item – because it was gone when I went back 30 seconds later.
Cleveland Stick, TeenRedsFans

I apologize that most of my 2009 and 2010 entries are all messed up. When mlblogs converted to WordPress they all got deleted/severely truncated.

Your winner is: NYBisons!

With TeenRedsFan finishing a close second!

Point Standings:
NYBisons 15.5
TeenRedsFan 14
PhilliesWSChamps 3
James 3
Ian Weir 3
Paul Ellis 2
Matt Jackson 2
Connor 2
Nick Badders 1
Mateo Fischer 1

Thanks to all those that played.  We’ll have to do that again!
I hope the questions weren’t too hard.  I tried to make a lot of them questions that you would only know if you were a long time blog reader, because many baseball trivia questions are so easy to look up quickly via google.

The Construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards

The Baltimore Orioles are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards this year.  Its a big season for the Orioles as they attempt to fight their way out of the cellar while celebrating the stadium that started the ballpark revolution of the 1990′s.

I did some poking around some websites and found some great pictures of Camden Yards as it was being built.

I hope you enjoy.

Also, I’ll be in Baltimore on opening day, in hopes of snagging one of these commemorative baseballs that the Orioles will be using this year:

Camden Yards looks like this now:

But it once was a pile of dirt

and a vacant warehouse that would be transformed into one of the most beautiful ballparks in the US.

Incorporating the B&O Warehouse, which was built in 1899, was a fantastic idea.  It brought us back to the old days of baseball, where stadiums were built to fit into the surrounding neighborhoods.

Here’s the outer side of the B&O Warehouse, facing away from the stadium.  Just ahead, you see the building that now houses the Babe Ruth museum.

The Warehouse sat dormant for over 20 years, rotting… until 1992.

That’s when the Orioles completely renovated it to house offices, a team store, restaurants, a ticket office, etc.  What a view.

Here’s the foundation of where the center field seats would later be built:

The unfinished exterior of Camden Yards… (is that a real kid in the picture?)

Construction began in 1989

And it took 33 months of work to get the stadium completed.

It was built by HOK Sport, and was the first of the retro ballparks.

There’s really not a bad seat in Oriole park.  The field is beautiful, the layout is gorgeous, and the Warehouse looming beyond right field is awesome.

Anyone have any idea what part of the stadium this is?  A possible hidden chamber underneath the field or seats?

It looks like the upper deck was the first structure put in place.  The lower level still looks a mess in this picture:

The stadium by the way cost $110 million to build.  By today’s standards, that’s about $180 million.  In contrast with other stadiums that have been built, that’s pretty cheap.

Could this be a flag pole out in the famous right field ‘flag court?’

Possibly…

How excited were the people of Baltimore when this stadium was being built?  Anyone have any personal stories that lived in Baltimore during this time?

The playing surface at Camden Yards is Kentucky Bluegrass.

Once the grass starts getting installed, you know that the end of construction must be close.

A worker takes a breather to look at the beauty that surrounds him:

A view from center field.  The upper level looks just about finished.

Looking towards left field into center field.

A view down the left field line from the second deck:

The stadium looks almost complete except for the lower level seating bowl.

One of the final touches is constructing the giant scoreboard in center field.

Since the stadium opened in 1992, millions have people have enjoyed baseball there, including me.  I’ve been there 9 times, making the four hour drive from Pittsburgh.

Maybe one day soon, the Orioles will get their organization turned around like the Rays did in 2008 to be an annual contender.  In the meantime, at least they have a beautiful venue to play ball in.

There’s only 35 days until opening day, and 2 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). And, just 3 more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.

By the way, welcome to March.  Opening Day will be here before we know it. 

Also, thank you for reading! February 2012 was my second busiest month in the history of this blog.  We logged 11,000 views in the month.  I’ll keep turning out the entries daily as long as you keep reading.  I’m looking forward to doing some ballhawking entries soon!  Opening weekend is going to be very busy for me.

6-30-11 Camden Yards

Today was our last day in

We spent the first half of the day walking around, seeing the nice parts,

and the not so nice.

We spend an hour or so in Barnes and Noble to stay out of the heat.  And then went to Best Buy where we messed around with the organ.

Unfortunately, the guitars were missing strings – I am much better at guitar than piano.

At 4PM we arrived at the park and were first in line, which resulted in me being first to the left field seats.

By the way, shortly before 4, we were allowed into the Ballpark Early to use the bathroom.  I was tempted to stand on Eutaw Street and wait for home run balls, but no one was hitting yet, and I didn’t want to get into trouble so we exited the stadium again (we were told to anyway by the nice worker that let us in) and went and got in line.

Oh, and take notes PNC Park, the workers at Camden Yards are actually ready with the giveaway before the gates open.

Amy was behind me and took a few shots on her way over to the left field seats:

The cage.

I should note that I didn’t find any balls in the seats.  There were some folks that were guests of the ballpark that were just leaving the LF seats as I entered the seating bowl, so I assume they picked up any balls that may have been in there.

My first ball of the day was thrown to me by ex-Pirates pitcher Chris Jakubauskus.

My second ball of the day was a home run hit by Robert Andino.  I caught it cleanly after running down the stairs a few rows and reaching down to my left to make the basket catch here:

The group featuring Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds came up and didn’t hit nearly as many home runs as yesterday, but there still were a few homers here and there.  I caught a Mark Reynolds home run on the fly.  The ball carried on me and I stepped over the seats to get a better angle on the ball and an extra six inches of height and inadvertintly robbed another ballhawk, while stepping on his foot.  I felt a bit clumsy.  I’m so used to hopping up on the bleachers and snagging balls.  Not a big fan of the seats.

My fourth ball was a clean catch of a Tony Cruz home run somewhere in here:

Amy was taking some pics for me, but it was too dangerous to be too close, especially 8 months pregnant.  She took cover near the left field foul pole in the shade.

It was JJ Hardy T-Shirt day at the stadium, so over 28,000 people showed up on a Thursday to take advantage of the promotion.  Things got real crowded after 5:30.

So, I checked on Amy,

and then went over to center field, since there was a group with three Cardinals in it.   Plus, as you can see, it was less crowded there, so I decided that was my the highest percentage area to get another ball or two.

I picked a row and waited.  Can you find me?

The spot paid off as an unidentified Cardinals batter hit a ground rule double that I snagged here:

I went back to LF for Holliday and Berkman, but got shut out.  It was just too crowded.  I finished batting practice in right center field, and nothing happened.  Batting practice then ended.  Before leaving, I spotted something in the gap!

I ran up the stairs to Amy and my backpack to get the ‘Cleveland Stick.’

And proceeded to use it to fish out a brand new

JJ Hardy T-Shirt that someone dropped!

No one claimed it, so finders keepers.

We left right after batting practice and headed to Annapolis, one of Amy’s favorite childhood spots.  We checked into our hotel, and then went down to the water.

It was peaceful there.

We sat on a dock and let our feet hang down and enjoyed our evening together.

Once the sun set, we went into town and bought ice cream cones.

I got mint chocolate chip.

Baltimore turned out to be a great two days, now on to my next game tomorrow…

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

Statistics:
Game: 5 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  264 balls (111 hit, 55 thrown, 61 device, 28 found)
Games: 45 games
Average:  5.87 balls per game
Career:  1,386 balls (I numbered all the balls wrong – off one.  God.  I’ll make my next one 1382, then skip ahead to 1388.)
Attendance: 28340

6-29-11 Camden Yards

Amy and I decided to head down to Baltimore for a couple games to see the Cardinals take on the Orioles.  We checked into the hotel, and Amy rested at the hotel while I left to go to batting practice.

The first ball I got was an absolute bomb that hit at the back of the seats near the bullpens and bounced back towards the field where I caught it.

Ball #2 was hit by another Orioles batter towards the foul pole.  I simply jogged over and picked it up easy.

My third ball was cheap, but it was still #3.  It was a ball that was misplayed by another ballhawk and bounced into the row in front of him where I snagged it with my glove.

Ball #4 was a clean catch here:

I barely had to move.  I’m not sure who hit any of the balls, but the first Orioles group was really good.  I mean really good.  I had snagged four balls from one group alone, but two other ballhawks had snagged five and I think six.  Impressive.  And they were all batted balls too.

The Orioles final group sucked, so I didn’t get my fifth ball until the Cardinals came out to hit.  It was tossed to me by pitcher Trever Miller, who I remember was the one pitcher who tossed up baseballs at PNC Park in recent series.

I moved over to center field when I saw a home run land in the gap in center field.  I was able to glove trick it for ball #6, but not without some difficulty.  It took four tries, but I was able to reel it in.

My seventh ball was a ground rule double that I caught next to a mom.  I immediately handed the ball over which she gave to her child.  She may have been able to make the play, but she was gloveless, so who knows.

My eighth ball was a clean catch of a Colby Rasmus HR with some competition from behind here:

No clue who hit it.

After batting practice, I went back to the hotel to explore Baltimore and go eat.

We made our way to the inner harbor,

and took a few photos.  One of the bonuses of ballhawking outside of Pittsburgh is that its like a mini-vacation.  I go to BP for an hour, and then I get to spend the rest of the time with the love of my life.  Can’t beat that!
We headed towards Barnes and Noble:

And saw the Hard Rock Cafe:

I ordered a California Club sandwich.

It was bad.   I felt like I was eating a salad sandwich with chicken, there was one thin fillet.  Not impressed.

While we were out, the citizens of Baltimore were extra friendly.  We kept getting warm smiles every where we turned, then it dawned on me.

It was because of our baby.

We walked around a little more before heading back to our hotel.  Baltimore isn’t as bad as the Wire portrays.  At least not the few blocks we saw.

Here are today’s baseballs (only 7 pictured because 1 was given away):

Sweet spots:

Statistics:
Game: 8 balls (6 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  259 balls (107 hit, 54 thrown, 61 device, 28 found)
Games: 44 games
Average:  5.87 balls per game
Career:  1,381 balls
Attendance: 17,405

6-20-11, 6-21-11, and 6-22-11 PNC Park

I decided that rather than doing three separate entries, that I would lump all three Orioles games together in one entry.

Monday 6-20-11

I began Monday on the Riverwalk, which ended up being a waste of time for about the tenth game in a row.  There simply hasn’t been any action there since Pedro Alvarez went on the disabled list.

Upon entering the stadium, I caught two baseballs on the fly within the first two minutes of batting practice.  They were both hit by Matt Diaz, and I caught both of them here:

I wasn’t expecting a huge crowd on Monday, but I was wrong.  There were enough fans that things got crowded enough where range became a problem at 5:30.  During the Orioles batting practice, I glove tricked a ball along the wall in left field, and caught an unidentified Orioles home run on the fly here:

After batting practice I got some extra tickets scanned and got two bags filled with photo wraps.  It was too crowded to compete for outfield toss ups, so I watched most of the game from beneath the left field bleachers.
Tuesday 6-21-11

There was a gigantic crowd for a Tuesday, with over 33,000 in attendance for a 1971 World Series stein.

The Pirates stopped hitting at 5:03.  Wow.  Three minutes of batting practice time.  Nice.

I caught an unidentified Orioles home run here:

And then glove tricked a ball in section 141 for my second ball of the day.

Nick Markakis hit a home run that landed just out of reach in the ivy in center field.  I went over to take a look at the ball, and deemed that it was definitely gettable with the right device.  I let it go though, as there was a supervisor nearby.

I left immediately after batting practice.

Wednesday 6-22-11.

There as no batting practice today, as it was a day game after a night game, and the players needed the extra sleep.  (Poor babies).

Anyhow, the Markakis ball from yesterday was still in center field:

So I grabbed a squeegee and prodded it loose, reached through the railing and grabbed it to avoid a shutout.

When the Orioles came out to throw (and only two sets of pitchers came out), I was lucky enough to snag a ball from Clay Rapada.

He tossed his ball towards the crowd, and two other fans tried to make the snag along with me.  The ball clanked off of our hands/gloves, bounced on the warning track, where I snagged it with my right hand almost immediately.

That would be the last ball I snagged, as I sat along the third baseline and watched the game with my Dad.

We watched the later innings from the club level.

In other news:
I had x-rays done on my hand that I hurt on June 7th when racing Nick into foul territory to snag a ball.  Since then, I’ve had no strength in my middle and ring fingers and can only move them minimally. Since they haven’t been healing, I decided I needed to go to the doctor, even though I’m one of those stubborn people that hate going to doctors.

The x-rays came back negative, but the doctor said I have tendinitis, and must refrain from using my left hand for the next five days.  That’s my glove hand.  Not good.  She gave me some anti inflammatory meds and said to come back if it doesn’t get better.

To cap things off, I tweaked my back on the way to the doctor by lifting and carrying a giant trash bag with nineteen 3- pound boxes in it.  I can’t win.

Series baseballs:

Sweet spots:

Statistics:
6/20: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 device)
6/21: 2 balls (1 hit, 1 device)
6/22: 2 balls (1 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  240 balls (93 hit, 53 thrown, 59 device, 26 found)
Games: 41 games
Average:  5.85 balls per game
Career:  1,362 balls
Attendance: 22,447, 33,806, 19,418

*Last year on 6/22 I had snagged 249 baseballs in 38 games.  132 of the 249 from last year were batted balls.  I miss Lastings Milledge.

Spring Training Day 3

Our third day in Florida brought us to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota FL.
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We got there a little before 10AM, which gave us over an hour to explore the exterior of the stadium and pick up our tickets at the will call window.  The stadium had received a complete renovation over the offseason, and it showed.  This was one of the nicest Spring Training stadiums I’ve visited.

Here’s a look at the main gate of Ed Smith Stadium:
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The Orioles incorporated lots of little things here and there that Amy noticed.  She’s always such an attention to detail, it always impresses me.

She noticed baseballs in the bottom of the gate, along with ‘BB’ for baseball.
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She also pointed out baseballs in the supports of the awning above home plate.
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I pointed out to her that the gates looked the exact same as the ones in Camden Yards in Baltimore.
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Here is a look through the gate at the inside of the stadium:
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It looked really nice for a Spring Training stadium.

Its hard to believe that it looked like this last year before being remodeled:
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Its a completely different stadium now!

Here’s a view to the left of the stadium:
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And a view to the right:

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The landscaping and exterior work was great. 

Check out the giant planters pots with palm trees.  Nice touch.
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We walked back to the area behind left field, where there was a gate area that allowed a view into the park.
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Upon peeking in, this is what I saw:
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Cages were up, and the Orioles were out warming up.
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This was the area in front of the gate area.
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I decided that there was a chance that a ball could hit the concrete and leave the stadium, so Amy and I spent the next 45 minutes standing in the parking lot beyond left field.
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I was able to see ball after ball fly through the air, many of them hitting inside of the left field area just in front of the gate in front of me, but getting caught up on chairs, trees, railings, or whatever.
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Eventually a ball cleared everything and landed inside of a gated area to the left of the left field pavilion.  It settled right up against the fence so I went over and worked it around to the middle of the gate and pulled it through.
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It was my first ball of the day.
100_7709.JPGWe stood around for the next 45 minutes and waited.
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And waited.
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Nothing else came out. 

Eventually, it was time to go in, so I set up in the second row area.
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It turned out to be a big mistake.  The Orioles have lots of right handed power, and the first ground was pounding ball after ball over my head landing in this area:
100_7808.JPGAmy took lots of pictures of the Orioles’ batting practice:

A view from left field of the stadium:
100_7725.JPGSome of the Orioles players.  Its a shame that some players still wear their pullovers during BP, making it tough to identify them.
100_7730.JPGPress box:
100_7735.JPGOrioles batters kept ripping home runs,
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but many of them were sailing into the area just out of reach to the left of the left field pavilion.
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The Orioles are stacked with right handed power this year, such as Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds, JJ Hardy, Derrek Lee, Adam Jones, and Nolan Reimold.
100_7769.JPGI got to see about the last 25 minutes of Orioles batting practice.  I was sure that I’d be able to snag a few baseballs during the Pirates batting practice, but for whatever reason, the Pirates weren’t even at the ballpark yet. 

There was no trace of them anywhere.

The groundscrew came out and took the screens and cage away, ending batting practice.
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I had only snagged one ball at Ed Smith stadium, and it was before the gates even opened.  It was a shame, because the left field area could’ve been pretty good for ballhawking.  Check it out:
100_7807.JPGAnyway, here’s the concession stand behind left field:
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At that point, I decided to take a brief video to show you all that area:
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Here it is:.

We walked around the concourse of Ed Smith Stadium, since the game wasn’t to begin for two hours.

Check out the garbage cans at the stadium:
100_7817.JPGWe walked over to the area behind home plate:
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There was an Orioles player conversing with some of the fans,
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I didn’t bother him, I don’t even know who he is.

Amy and I got our picture taken behind home plate before heading to the inner concourse and out of the sun.
erik and amy at ed smith.jpgBefore heading out though, we took a panorama of the field:
100_7840.JPGUnder the bleachers, there was a welcome sign near the Home Plate area:
100_7841.JPGOrioles Team Store:
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The concourse:
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A giant tree:
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At this point, we decided to leave the game.  We didn’t feel like waiting around for an hour and a half for the game to start.  So, we left.

To this point in the trip, I had snagged five balls over three days.  Last year, I snagged 32 balls in three days.  This trip became about much more than ballhawking.  Ballhawking had taken a back seat to Amy and I enjoying our time together in Florida and squeezing the most out of every minute we had. 

We decided to head back to Fort DeSoto beach, where we had spent a good chunk of time on Friday.  On the way back though, we stopped at Pirate City in Bradenton. 

The Pirates were wrapping things up on a practice field when we drove by, presumably before busing the short distance to Sarasota. 
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Here’s a shot of the living quarters at Pirate City that Amy snapped:
100_7864.JPGWe parked here,
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and walked the very short distance to the entrance to the Pirate City practice Fields.
100_7874.JPGhere’s the entrance way.  Notice the baseballs on the tops of the posts.  Unfortunately, they aren’t major league baseballs.  They are generic.
100_7876.JPGUpon walking in, I was looking at the practice fields and the players off in the distance that had just finished their workout, when Amy noticed something.
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Three baseballs just out of arms reach all in one area.
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Well, it was glove trick time.
100_7883.JPGAfter untangling the string, I tossed it over the fence and knocked one of the balls closer so that I could reach right under the fence and grab it.
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100_7887.JPGThe second ball took a little more effort, but I was able to get that one too.
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The third and farthest ball took awhile.  There was a slight slope or indentation where it had settled, so it took probably fifteen or so attempts before getting it close enough to reach under and grab.
100_7900.JPGAfter snagging those three balls, we started looking around the practice grounds.
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There were probably like six or so practice fields, with no action on any of them. 
100_7921.JPGWe looked around anyhow.

Eventually, we came to a roped off portion beyond the practice field fence.  See the sign on the ground on the right hand side of the picture?
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It said this:
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It must’ve been posted on the rope at some point.  But since it wasn’t, we kept right on going and were now on a golf course.

This was the area straight ahead,
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and Amy and I hurried along, and she pointed out ball after ball to me.

See the ball in the photo below?  Well there was also a couple in those bushes, and one in that open shed area.
100_7927.JPGHere’s a couple more:
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Another one:
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And another:
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We eventually came to a maintenance area, that we didn’t go into, although there were probably more ‘Easter Eggs’ back there.  Eventually, a man on a golf cart told us we couldn’t be back there and told us to leave.  We did.  But not before finding 8 balls back there.

That made it a double digit day!

After the twenty minutes or so that we spent at Pirate City, we went back to the beach.  It was crowded, but we found some secluded spots to relax.
DSC00652.JPGThe spot was only reachable by crossing some rough terrain.  The only visitors we had to worry about were birds.
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And laid out for awhile, then went into the water, since it was much warmer today.
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It had been an amazing, relaxing trip.  We had kept busy every minute of the trip, which had really tired me out. 
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Unfortunately, our time in Florida had come to an end, as it was time for us to head back to DSC00680.JPGTampa International Airport, back to Pittsburgh and the cold.  I’d like to thank Amy for such a great time in Florida and keeping me happy though out the trip.  Ballhawking really took a back seat to her on this trip, but that’s not because of her.  It was all me, wanting to leave the games to go other places.  Will my diminished ballhawking drive continue into the regular season?  Who knows.  Do I have any goals for the regular season yet?  Nope.  Will I attend more games in 2011.  Probably not.  Will I improve upon my 544 ball season from last year?  I’d say the chances are slim.  Amy will be with me in two weeks as I open the season on the road.  Keep an eye out for that.

Here are the 16 balls I snagged in the three days on the trip:
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And the sweet spots:
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Opening Day will be upon us soon!

By the way, if you’d like to read upon my other spring training trips, you can click any of the links below:
3-28-09
3-29-09
3-30-09
3-19-10
3-19-10 game 2
3-20-10
3-21-10

8-12-10 Progressive Field

I was back at Progressive Field today, hoping to snag my one thousandth career baseball.
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I was planning on returning yesterday, but radar showed storms moving through Cleveland all afternoon, so I would wait until today for another shot at 1,000.

When I walked by a bar across the street,
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pick them all up.
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He tossed the ball up and I had to lean out over the railing to just barely make the catch.  When I caught it, I asked Brad if the ball was for me or the kid next to me, who’d also asked for one.  Brad nodded toward the kid, so I turned and gave the ball away.

So, I’d ended the day with five balls snagged.

Here I am in the shadows by the bullpen with ball #1000:
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Today’s baseballs:  (4 pictured because one was given away)
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Sweet spots: (#1,003 was given away)
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (1 thrown, 4 device )
Season:  425 balls (217 hit, 95 thrown, 58 device, 55 found)
Games: 65 games
Average:  6.54 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,003 balls
Streak:  161 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 14,533

8-10-10 Progressive Field

I started the day just six balls away from 1,000.

I was happy to see that the Indians were taking early batting practice when I arrived and looked through the left field gate:
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And they were left handed.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  420 balls (217 hit, 94 thrown, 54 device, 55 found)
Games: 64 games
Average:  6.56 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  998 balls
Streak:  160 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 13,541

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