Results tagged ‘ Phillies ’

7-1-10 PNC Park

The Phillies were in town today for game 1 of a four game series.  Unfortunately for me, their fans travel well, and many arrived early for batting practice.

To make matters worse, the security ticket scanner, who only permits season ticket holders into the left field bleachers wasn’t at his post.  In fact, he didn’t show up until 5:11, allowing a steady stream of Phillies fans and non season ticket holders to stroll on in and crowd up the bleachers.
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I got my first ball during the Pirates’ first group off the bat of Delwyn Young.  He hit a ball that landed in the section directly next to the foul pole.  I ran over as three other folks converged towards the back of the section where the ball had landed. 

I realized though that the ball was rolling down towards the front row, so I quickly reversed course and ran down to the front row, where I picked up ball #1.

My second ball came from the next Pirates’ group and off the bat of Lastings Milledge.

The ball bounced off the concrete and took a hop up into the rotunda.  Several folks were frantically looking around, their heads swiveling hoping to pick up the ball.  I knew exactly where it was.  It had gotten caught up on the rotunda.  I took off and ran up the lower ring of the Rotunda, and there it was:
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STATISTICS:

Game:  4 balls (3 hit, 1 found)
Season:  272 balls (146 hit, 64 thrown, 26 device, 37 found)
Games: 42 games
Average:  6.48 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  850 balls
Streak:  138 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 25,323

8-26-09 PNC Park

Those of us at PNC Park during the Season Ticket Holder time were under siege by the Phillies first batting practice group today.

ohlendorf.jpgBatting practice started out calmly, well, because the Pirates were hitting.  I would go on to get only one ball during this time from Ross “The Boss” Ohlendorf.  A ball rolled to the wall and I politely asked for the ball.  He looked at me and tossed me ball #1.

The first group yesterday included several lefties.  Today, they were all right handed batters, and they were raking.  There were only maybe two dozen of us there, since it was still season ticket holder only time, so there was plenty of running around up until 5:30.

I caught ball #2 off of the bat of Pedro Feliz on the fly.  I had to run down to the second row tourl-1-710730.jpg
I can’t operate without my Iphone.  They were able to pull the card out and clean it.  The phone them worked perfectly – and they didn’t charge me.

Only 7 more balls to go until career ball #500…

Today’s baseballs:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  8 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown)
Season:  327 balls (172 hit, 96 thrown, 59 device)
Games: 68 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.81 balls per game
Career:  493 balls
Streak:  83 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  17,403

8-25-09 PNC Park

I went down by the river before the gates open to try and snag a ball.  Usually one or two per day will sail out of the stadium.

Ballhawking by the river takes a lot of patience and concentration, because you can’t see the ball until the last moment, so you have to be extremely focused.  It doesn’t help that seemingly every passer by feels the need to stop and ask you what you’re doing.

After ten minutes of standing motionless starting at the sky, I saw a ball flying towards me.  I moved quickly to my right, but the ball was over my head and landed in the river, on the fly.

YES!  I’d finally get to use my new device to snag a ball.  I took out a golf ball retriever and unfurled the 14 foot pole.  I laid on my stomach and reached out at the ball.  I was about a foot short. 

I could’ve repositioned my body, waited for the ball to drift in towards the shore, or double checked to made sure that the pole was fully extended.  However, some guy on a jetski comes motoring up and reaches over to grab the ball. 

“Can you just move it a bit closer,” I asked.  Not listening, he picked up the ball and flipped it to me (as I was laying on my stomach, fully extended.)

Since the guy grabbed the ball and tossed it to me, I couldn’t count the ball in my stats, and I was furious about it.

Here’s the ball:
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Notice where the water started to seep underneath the rawhide.

That was the only ball that would exit the stadium.

I would eventually get ball #1 off the bat of Jason Jaramillo.    He hit a home run that landed on the left field rotunda, which I sprinted up and picked up the ball as it was rolling down the ramp.

Ball #2 was a home run that Pedro Feliz would hit.  It was an easy catch.  Little did I know that I would encounter poor luck and be shut out the rest of the day.

During the second Phillies group, I went to right field, where I had a ball hit the heel of my glove and fall to the floor.  Some Phillies fan scooped it up.  Since I have a glove trick, I have a large ball of string tucked into the bottom of my glove.  Usually, I catch balls in the webbing.  However, this ball hit on the heel, and I wasn’t able to close my glove around the ball thanks to the big ball of string.

It was a glaring, awful error.  After it happened, my attitude soured, and I didn’t even want to be there anymore.

It didn’t help that there were Phillies fans everywhere.  Seriously.  They outnumbered Pirates fans by at least a 3 to 1 margin.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  2 balls (2 hit)
Season:  319 balls (166 hit, 93 thrown, 59 device)
Games: 67 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.76 balls per game
Career:  485 balls
Streak:  82 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  17,049

7-6-09 Citizens Bank Park

The Pirates are out of town until July 17th, which would mean 17 days without a baseball game for me.  I decided to break up the drought by attending a game in Philadelphia.

I’d never been to a baseball game in Philly before, so I was interested to see what Citizens Bank Park had to offer.

I got to the stadium at 2:35, almost 2 full hours before the gates were to even open.  I figured that I would give myself some extra time to account for traffic and to stop for lunch.  (I ended up not stopping because my GPS directed me to a non-existent phantom Wendy’s.  Frustrated, I decided to eat at the stadium.)  I was there so early, that the parking attendant thought I worked at McFadden’s.

I approached the stadium and took a walk around the exterior. 
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It had a nice facade, nice landscaping, and was in a decent enough area. 

The first matter of business was to find an open ticket window and buy a ticket for today’s game.  I walked past the first base entrance
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then realized that the Reds had many more righties than lefties, and I’d have a better chance back in the packed left field seats.

Brandon Phillips put on a show in batting practice.  One of his home runs came right to me, I was camped underneath it, ready to make the catch, when at the moment the ball was several feet from my glove, about 5 people’s arms slammed into mine.  My arm moved, and the ball tipped off my glove.  I didn’t get the ball.  Fans in Philadelphia are much more agressive when it comes to going a
fter home run balls in batting practice than in Pittsburgh or Cleveland.  In Pittsburgh, us ballhawks spread out and have our own little zones that we tend to stay in.  We never run into each other or rob each other of home runs when another is camped under one.  Next time I go to a game in Philly I’ll be prepared.

I was shut out for the rest of batting practice and ended with 2 baseballs. 

I walked around the concourse.  I liked how the Phillies post their line up on a large brick wall at the entrance to the left field gate:
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The Phillies top 2 stars for my money:
photo(130).jpgThe Liberty Bell (which gongs after a Phillies player goes deep):
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Here was my view from my seat:
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photo(126).jpgThe Phillies would go on to knock out starter Johnny Cueto in the first inning and score an amazing 10 runs in the first inning.  They would go on to win the game 22-1.  I don’t think I’ve ever attended such a lopsided game.

I made my back to my hotel in Philadelphia.  (Which didn’t have Internet). Ran a few miles on the treadmill in the fitness center, did 31 floors on a stairmaster, and went to bed.
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I then disappeared for the next week (which is why its taken me a week to get this entry up) to the shore.
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Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  2 balls (2 hit)
Season:   226 balls (119 hit, 75 thrown, 32 device)
Games:  46 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.91 balls per game
Career: 392 balls
Attendance: 41,548

3-28-09 McKechnie Field, Bradenton FL

My dad and I left our hotel at 9:50 this morning to see the Philadelphia Phillies take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton FL.  The plan was to get there early and attempt to snag some home run balls in batting practice.  Even though McKechnie Field doesn’t have an outfield seating area, there’s a narrow walkway behind the left field fence.  I was planning on standing on this sidewalk and chasing down any home runs that came may way. 

If you notice in the picture below, the wind was blowing straight out to left between 30-50mph.  Little particles kept flying in my eyes and I was kicking myself for not bringing my sunglasses.
100_0281.jpgI soon abandoned my plan to roam the walkway pictured above.  It was too narrow, and I had absolutely no chance of seeing home run balls coming.    I moved a bit more toward left center where there was a parking lot for an adjacent school.  Competition was slim, as you can see in the picture below.  My dad went back to the left field foul pole to watch some batting practice.  I heard him yell, “ERIK!”  Then I heard some crackling branches above my head.  Ball #1 dropped out of the trees and I quickly pounced on it.  Another minute later my dad yelled my name again, and another ball crashed through the trees and I fielded it was it bounced off a root.  It was Ball #2.
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Although I got the first two balls to come out this way, I wasn’t happy that I didn’t see either of them coming.  I couldn’t pick the ball up by standing where I was.  Before, I was standing too close to the fence.  I had no contrast to pick the ball up except the light blue high.  I moved farther back.

My dad came back from the foul pole and decided to patrol the area near the school beneath the trees.
100_0284.jpgThis was my spot for much of BP.  If you’re wondering why I’m wearing a Phillies hat, its because the only Pirate hat I brought was the one Ian Snell threw me on 9-21-08, and I didn’t want to get that one sweaty.

Soon, another Home Run Ball came out.  I had crept in a bit, and that proved to be a mistake.  The ball hit about 10 feet in front of me and took a huge hop over my head.  My dad was in position to make the snag, but the second bounce went over his head too and hit off of the white shed in the picture below.  I ran the ball down, it was ball #3
100_0286.jpgBesides the guy in the Phillies jersey a couple pictures up, there were a few entrepreneurial ballhawks in attendance today.  They were rough looking locals who caught balls and sold them on the street for $4 or $5.  Whenever these guys got a ball, they would take out a brush and doctor the balls up.  I was told later by some guy that they bleached the balls to make them look brand new.  They also dominated balls that landed within the fence which you can see in the first picture.  They had 6 foot sticks that they would inch the balls closer to the fence, and then squeeze the ball under the fence.  I could’ve had maybe 2 more balls today if I had a way to get these balls.  There were 3 of these guys and a little kid.  They didn’t hang around for long though.   I continued to wait patiently for my next opportunity.
100_0287.jpgI got Ball #4 a bit later.  It was a home run ball that hit off a palm tree and had lost most of its momentum.  It started rolling towards me in the parking lot with one of the hustler ballhawk bleachers in pursuit.  I charged the ball like an infielder charges a slow roller and got to it just in time. 

Another ball came out soon after that my Dad chased down for his first career batting practice home run ball.  He is hoping to get another one tomorrow for one of his nephews.

Batting practice then ended.  I had got 4 balls, but I wasn’t done yet.  Next to where I had been standing was a school.  The school was directly behind the left field wall.  The roof of the school was completely flat, meaning balls that were hit on the school stayed on the school.  Before leaving, I had looked around for any “Easter Eggs.”  There was one behind the batter’s eye in Center Field, but it was a good 15 feet beyond the fence.  Impossible to get.  I walked over to right center field.  There were a good 7 balls laying on the Pirates infield practice field.  No one was around at all, but the gates were locked.  I waited for a bit and then got an 8 foot long 2×4 off of a scrap heap.

Earlier in batting practice, a ball had landed on the aforementioned school.  I thought I may have a chance of reaching it.
100_0288.jpgLook closely, can you see the ball?

I tried to reach it with the 2×4 board, but couldn’t because the roof was too high and I couldn’t get enough leverage.  I needed to be able to stand on something and I would be able to get it.

My dad had the idea of moving over a wooden picnic table for me to stand on.
100_0289.jpgI couldn’t see the ball, so with my dad telling me “left, right” etc, I was able to get ball #5.
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I was pleased with 5 balls
for my first time snagging in Bradenton.  It was a completely different experience than what I am used to.  Not being able to see the ball until it was landing made it fun to chase the balls down.  It also gave those with some agility an advantage.  There was also a lot of luck involved.  There was some 80 year old guy walking in from the parking lot who got a home run ball that clanked off a branch, took a soft bounce on the concrete and right into his hand.

The Bradenton ballhawk experience is much like the Chicago Cubs’ Waveland Avenue experience.  You really can’t see the ball until the last second, and then you have to scramble to chase it down.  It was fun.

On to the game:
100_0291.jpgThe Pirates gave most of their regulars the day off.  The only regular today was Adam LaRoche.  Many regulars were given off due to the night game yesterday.  I was a little disappointed.  At least the Phillies brought all of their stars.    Ian Snell was on the mound for the Pirates.  The Pirates ended up winning the game 10-4, fueled by Andrew McCutchen’s 5 for 5 day.  There were some towering home runs in the game, including a Ryan Howard shot that cleared the batter’s eye.

I’ll close this entry with some action shots from today’s game:
Shane Victorino:
100_0295.jpgRyan Howard:
100_0303.jpgAndrew McCutchen:
100_0336.jpgBrian Bixler:
100_0308.jpgAdam LaRoche:
100_0316.jpgJamie Moyer vs Craig Monroe:
100_0344.jpgAndrew McCutchen close up:
100_0354.jpgTomorrow I will head to Tampa FL to see the Pirates take on the New York Yankees at George Steinbrenner Field.

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