Results tagged ‘ Pittsburgh Pirates ’
Sundays usually are rather uneventful. Typically, there isn’t batting practice since its a day game that follows a night game. However, today was another lucky Sunday at PNC Park – both teams would take a full batting practice.
For the first half hour, fans aren’t allowed to enter the seats. For whatever stupid reasoning, season ticket holders are allowed in from Monday-Saturday, but not Sundays. As a result, I stood behind section 141.
And got Ross Ohlendorf to toss me my first ball of the day.
Ohlendorf, a right handed pitcher, was wearing a glove on his right hand and throwing balls into the ball boy left handed. His toss to me was left handed and it just barely cleared the gate. Ross is the friendliest Pirates pitcher when it comes to toss-ups. I really hope he gets his season turned around so he can get some positive momentum going into next year.
Ross tossed up another ball that was right to me, but it hit the gate. An usher walked over and picked up the ball and pocketed it, right in front of six fans who were five feet from the ball.
At 11:30 when the stadium opened, rather than set up shop in left field, I went searching for easter eggs.
I found ball #2 in left field under a bleacher:
Ball #3 along the first base line in the handicapped seats:
And ball #4 a few feet away from my third ball.
I then realized that I was now on 1,499 career baseballs, so I made my way over to the Pirates dugout to try and get a player to toss me #1500. If you read this blog regularly, you may recall my 1,000th ball came last year in Cleveland via the glove trick.
The last Pirates group contained Matt Hague, Gorkys Hernandez, Jason Jaramillo, and Pedro Ciriaco. Once they finished their round, it marked the end of batting practice. On his way into the dugout, I called out to Pedro Ciriaco and asked if he minded tossing me a ball that was directly in his path as he approached. He obliged and flipped me a well worn filthy ball for #1,500.
Here it is:
After batting practice, Amy took this cheesy picture of me and the ball:
Anyhow, moments after I snagged that ball, the Marlins pitchers were finishing up their tosses down the right field line. I threw on my Marlins gear and headed over. It helped that I was *the* only fan there. Not even were any Pirates fans asking for balls. As a result, Clay Hensley threw me ball #6:
and Jose Ceda tossed me ball #7, even though he had seen me get one from Hensley. “You already got one,” he said. “Yes,” I replied, “it’s up to you if you want to give me another one.” Ceda stared at me awkwardly for a moment then threw me the ball.
At 12:00 I headed back to left field and caught a ground rule double off the bat of Jose Lopez here for ball #8.
By the way, there was a special 9-11 logo painted onto the field. Unless you’re under 10 years old, I’m sure we all remember where we were on September 11th 2001. I was a junior in college at Washington & Jefferson and woke up hearing some bewilderment next door. “Those are people jumping from that building!” Someone was yelling. I turned on the TV and watched it all unfold.
Game: 8 balls (1 hit, 4 thrown, 3 found)
Season: 381 balls (159 hit, 83 thrown, 87 device, 52 found)
Games: 71 games
Career: 1,503 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 5 (maybe 6 if I do an away game next weekend)
Needed to reach goal: 32 (6.4 per game)
It was a Saturday, so the gates open an extra half hour early. However, I wasn’t able to take advantage of it, as I didn’t get to snag a ball until 4:50. That was thrown by Alex Presley, pictured at right here:
My second ball of the day was a ground rule double that I snagged here:
A fan in the front row tried to knock it down, but they just slowed it down and it came right to me.
Ball #3 was a glove trick ball that I gave away to another ballhawk who hadn’t gotten one yet.
My fourth ball of the day was a clean catch of an Andrew McCutchen home run ball in section 136. I had to get up on the bleacher to make the catch.
When the Marlins came out, I changed into my Marlins gear and caught a John Buck home run on the fly.
My sixth ball of the day was retrieved using the Cleveland Stick. A ball had landed in the ivy on the ‘S’ in Pirates during the early portion of batting practice. As soon as the rest of the stadium opened, I ran over and knocked it out with the Cleveland stick, and reached in with my hand to pick it up. Pretty simple.
In the mean time, Burke Badenhop spotted me about eight rows back after I had snagged this ball and attempted to toss me a ball, but it ended up short. I could’ve still gotten it, but a younger ballhawk ran by and caught it two rows in front of me. Luckily, Badenhop had another ball in his back pocket that he tossed me for ball #7. This time his throw was right on the money.
My final ball of the day was a towering home run hit by Mike Cameron. I ran to my right, up some steps, and picked the only open row that was available to me and made the clean catch. I had to manuever amongst these stationary fans:
I ended up catching it in the eighth row behind the guy in the gray shirt.
After BP I left, as Amy and Olivia were at home waiting for me.
Game: 8 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 373 balls (158 hit, 79 thrown, 87 device, 49 found)
Games: 70 games
Career: 1,495 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 6
Needed to reach goal: 40 (6.7 per game)
Today was a pretty mediocre day for me snagging wise.
First off, I forgot my sunglasses, making it almost impossible to track home run balls.
Here I am trying to use my glove to block the sun.
I managed to snag a Brandon Wood home run on the fly before the Pirates left the field. I had to make the catch on the run and caught it backhanded and below my waist. I lost track of it for a second, but it was more of a line drive, so it didn’t completely vanish in the glaring sun. Here I am numbering ball #1485:
I changed into my ridiculous eye-catching teal Marlins gear once the Pirates wrapped things up. Look how bad I stand out.
It paid off as I got Alex Sanabia to toss me ball #2. Here I am showing it to Amy:
My third and final ball was an awkward scrum ball. It was a home run that landed and settled on an empty bleacher. Three people grabbed the ball at the same time. I had the ball wedged between my glove and my bare hand, another guy let go of the ball after a second. However, the guy in the row behind me held onto the ball for dear life with one hand. I had a better grip, so after an awkward twenty seconds, he finally let go.
Anyhow, after batting practice, Amy, Olivia and I went up to the upper deck to pick a new season ticket seat for next year. Since the Pirates are raising prices, the only seats available for $499 for a full season plan are in rows S-Y. I wanted to make sure the seats I get have no obstructions.
Here’s Olivia and I in the upper deck.
Game: 3 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 365 balls (154 hit, 77 thrown, 85 device, 49 found)
Games: 69 games
Career: 1,487 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 7
Needed to reach goal: 48 (6.9 per game)
Batting practice was rained out on both Monday and Tuesday, so today was my first baseball game in 15 days. Today was special, as I brought Olivia and Amy to the ballpark:
She was a perfect angel and didn’t cry or fuss at all the whole time we were at PNC Park.
There were a handful of balls that landed in the seats, but it seems like any more that this is all we do:
At 5:30, I found a ball in foul territory hidden under a seat.
Ushers had combed through the rows a few minutes prior and picked up a couple more.
Back over in left field, I made a nice place on a ground rule double as I picked it from the first row as it was bouncing over the wall.
I got my fourth ball of the day in foul territory, as an Astros player hit a slow roller that settled about 6 feet out from the low wall past third base. I ran over and tossed my glove out to nudge the ball closer so I could grab it. In the meantime, Coach Suba was prowling around looking for baseballs and was walking over to retrieve the ball when I snagged it. He said, “I don’t come into your yard and take your lawnmower.” I didn’t want to argue so I just offered him the ball back. “No, you can keep it, I just wish I would’ve known you were going to get it so I didn’t have to walk the whole way over here,” he said.
In the meantime, Wilton Lopez stormed over looking real pissed that I had taken a ball off the warning track and demanded that I give the ball back. I threw him the ball back and he stormed off for a moment and acted like he was going to throw the ball back to the infield, but then broke into a huge smile and threw me the ball back. He was just messing with me. Although I snagged the ball two different times, by two different means, I’m only going to count it once. I’ve seen some shady stat keeping by ballhawks where they’d count the ball as two, but whatever. I’m counting it as a device ball in my stats.
Here’s Suba and Lopez a few seconds after all that happened:
My fifth ball was a home run that landed in section 134 that I was able to snag before another guy, who ended up losing his balance. He was fine. I supported him as he lost his balance.
And, my last ball of the day was tossed to me by a groundkeeper who happened by as I was about to glove trick a ball by section 101.
I wasted the last 10 minutes by the Astros dugout since there were no fans there – in an attempt to get a ball from a player as they ran off the field. The Astros ended up hitting longer today and I ended up losing out on several home run balls that landed in the seats a vastly empty right field.
As for the game, we had seats in the club level, but I didn’t snag anything else.
Game: 6 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 362 balls (152 hit, 76 thrown, 85 device, 49 found)
Games: 68 games
Average: 5.33 per game
Career: 1,484 balls
Remaining games to reach goal of 413: 8
Needed to reach goal: 51 (6.4 per game)
I attended only one out of the final five games of the homestand. Things have been busy lately with a new baby, a tripled workload at work (100 students to 325), and a house to upkeep.
I made sure to attend this game though as Zack Hample would be in attendance. Hample if you don’t know is a New York City ballhawk on his way to snagging 1,000 baseballs this year. He has already attended over 100 games this year and is planning on visiting all 30 major league stadiums this year.
Before the gates opened, we got a picture, taken by Ian Weir:
The man on the left is one of Zack Hample’s clients, I believe his name was David (Zack has a business that charges $500 to attend a game with him), Zack is in the yellow shirt, them Nick Pelescak, Zac Weiss, and myself. The children are David’s.
Once the gates opened, I got on the board early by getting a toss up from Jason Grilli. He’s been with the team for only a short amount of time, so he hasn’t been made anti-fan by Joel Hanrahan yet.
My second ball of the day was a clean catch right behind Ian Weir here:
Ball #3 was a ground rule double that skipped over the fence quickly and off of Ian. He slowed it down and deflected it right to me here.
My fourth ball was another clean catch in the second row of section 136. I had to climb over a bleacher or two to get into position.
When the Brewers came out I got ball #5 off the bat of Ryan Braun. He hit it to the back of section 135, so I scooped it up as it was rolling under the bleachers down towards the front row. One of the ushers started heckling me screaming at me “You just stole a ball from that kid!” and “You’ll get yours.” The kid had already snagged three balls of his own, and he was two rows below where the ball had hit. Since there was a sparse crowd, if I wasn’t there the ball would’ve eventually rolled down to him, but you would’ve thought that I ripped the ball from his hand.
I later went up and confronted the usher (who’s not a regular in left field) and explained that I didn’t steal a ball from anyone. The ball was on the ground when I picked it up. I further pointed out that I gave my sixth ball of the day, which was glove tricked in left field to a young fan in the front row nearby who hadn’t gotten one yet (in the light blue).
The family was ecstatic. The usher, who I guess was upset that I had already gotten too many baseballs possibly realized he overreacted and was happy that I gave one of mine away. I typically always give the glove trick balls away if I have to ask someone to let me in to the front row for access to the ball below.
I was making my way over to center field, and De La Cruz was retrieving a ball. I was above the bullpen and just held my glove up and he threw me a perfect strike. Here he is over in center field.
After BP was over, I took off and went home, stopping off at GetGo later that night to get 27+ gallons of gas for free.
My next game will be 9-5-11. Yeah, it’s basically a 2 week break. I thought about attending 9-3 with Nick in Washington DC, but heard from him that there wasn’t batting practice due to a concert.
I don’t know if I’ll get to too many more road games. I’d like get to most of the few remaining home games at PNC Park and then possibly a playoff game in October. We’ll see.
My goal is 413. I have 11 games left (3 of those are day games – which I’ll leave if there’s no BP). So I need to 57 balls in those 11 games which is 5.2 a game. My average this year is a tad over 5.3. Should make it somewhat challenging.
Game: 7 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 356 balls (149 hit, 75 thrown, 84 device, 48 found)
Games: 67 games
Career: 1,478 balls
Batting practice on a Sunday? It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally it happens.
My day began at 7:20 AM, as I woke up extra early so I could go to the gym before heading to the ballpark. I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time with Amy as soon as batting practice ended.
Our due date is fast approaching. For fun, we offered our guesses on when our baby would be born. I picked July 26. Amy picked July 30th. The baby is due August 9. Neither of us think we’ll make it that far as our baby is measuring up to be a big baby.
The Pirates came out and stretched, and at exactly 11:30, batting practice got underway.
My first ball came rather quickly – it was a clean catch of a homer caught here:
Realizing that there wouldn’t be many home runs hit, (yesterday there were 3) – I made my way over to foul territory in right field and lined myself up behind the Cardinals pitchers, who had come out to warm up. There was virtually no one else around, as everyone stayed in left field trying to catch batted balls.
The strategy paid off as Trever Miller tossed me ball #2 on his way into the dugout,
For the last group, I went back to left field where I offered to glove trick a ball for a young fan. I had the ball in my glove when Euclides Rojas foiled the attempt by throwing his glove at mine, jarring the ball loose.
Rojas marched over and grabbed the ball, then something really weird happened.
He flipped me the ball.
It was the first time Rojas had ever acknowledged me, let alone toss me a ball.
Anyhow, true to my promise, immediately I handed the ball away to the young fan.
Batting practice had finished at noon, so I left too to be with Amy.
Game: 4 balls (1 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 305 balls (131 hit, 67 thrown, 70 device, 37 found)
Games: 57 games
Career: 1,427 balls
Attendance : 35,402
Amy was working today, so I don’t have any good pictures.
Upon entering the stadium, I found ball #1 about four rows back in left field. It was good to get on the board early, because the last Pirates group did absolutely nothing. Zero home runs.
When the Astros came out, I glove tricked my second ball over by the bullpen.
Most of the Astros pitchers seemed really lazy when it came to shagging, so I was hopeful that I could glove trick a few balls today, but a coach named Suba marched all over the field collecting the balls, as if it was his sole and only purpose with the team.
The first Astros group was weak, but the next group featured Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee along with Jason Michaels, probably the Astros three best BP hitters in that order.
After a couple rounds of going opposite field, Hunter Pence started letting loose and hitting some home runs.
In the span of a minute, I caught three balls cleanly, all on the fly, here:
Ball #3 was hit by Pence. It was basically right at me. I stood up on the bleacher as I made the catch, just out of habit. Moments later he hit another home run that was slightly to my left. I tracked the ball and caught it reaching forward and made the basket catch as several fans turned away, blinded by the sun.
Jason Michaels hopped in the cage and promptly hit a home run which I caught on the fly. Since there was so much action in such a short amount of time, people started noticing me and asking me questions such as how many that was for me, etc. No one gave me a hard time though.
Moments later I snagged another ground rule double, and then finished things off with a clean catch of yet another home run.
I gave away one of my extra decoy balls to a young boy whose father was asking me for ballhawking tips for his son.
I watched the game from the Club Seats.
I picked a great spot for a foul ball. The only thing in front of me was a camera well,
and a wide open row to my right.
But as luck would have it not a single ball would be hit within three sections either way of me.
Game: 8 balls (6 hit, 1 device, 1 found)
Season: 280 balls (121 hit, 56 thrown, 64 device, 30 found)
Games: 48 games
Average: 5.83 balls per game
Career: 1,402 balls
Today was the fourth straight sell out game at PNC Park, the first such string of games in the ten year history of the ballpark. Also, the Pirates decided not to take batting practice today, which left just the Astros.
My first ball of the day was a clean catch on the fly in left field. I don’t know who hit it, but Amy got a pic of me labeling it after the fact:
There was a bunch of waiting around,
because the Astros as you may know suck. They are the worst team in baseball. Apart from Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence, there’s not much to look forward to in an Astros BP.
My second ball was a scrum ball that I corralled under a bleacher. Here I am after grabbing it:
The ball had a distinctive marking. Do you know who hit it?
Read backwards. Jason Michaels. There is a clear MICHAE and beneath that a PRO (from Pro Model on the bat). This is an ultra rare marking, and I only at least one other one where the player who hit it has his name visible on the ball from the bat.
We returned downtown later on in the day to watch the fireworks on the North Shore.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 2 balls (2 hit)
Season: 272 balls (115 hit, 56 thrown, 63 device, 29 found)
Games: 47 games
Average: 5.78 balls per game
Career: 1,394 balls
Since Amy and I had been in Baltimore the past two days, we decided to attend the Pirates vs Nationals game in Washington DC on our travel day back to Pittsburgh.
We began the day on the pier in Annapolis, where our hotel was located,
and ate lunch at Jimmy John’s, a sandwich shop. I got a turkey sandwich and was grossed out by the weird alfalfa greens that they put on it. I’d never had them, and didn’t want to try them. Gross.
We then went to Washington and Nationals Park.
At the gate, we were first in line, and we ran into Zack Hample, who had made the trip from New York City.
Zack is on a quest to snag 1,000 baseballs in 2011 – and he credited me breaking his record last year (with 544) as a motivational factor in his endeavor.
Upon entering the park, there were no balls to be found as batting practice hadn’t yet begun. I decided to run over to right field,
but found out that it is now closed off until 5:30, thereby negating an hour of batting practice time there.
I went back to left, and noticed a ball in the bullpen, which I attempted to glove trick, but failed three times as I was reeling it in. Jordan Zimmerman and Colin Balester watched in amusement. Zimmerman threw a ball at my glove at one point to mess with me, which actually ended up in a perfect glove trick spot directly below me and to my right.
After failing and having the ball drop and roll away, Zimmerman threw me a ball for my effort.
After that, I had some bad luck, including one clunk off of my glove, as I unnecessarily jumped to catch it. (I was terrified it was going to hit Amy, who was two rows behind me.) Trying to change my luck, even though the Nationals were still batting, I changed into my Pirates gear.
I also met a ballhawk named Alex from New Jersey from mygameballs
and chatted with Zack for a minute or two when there was some down time.
A bit later, I recovered after a few more close calls with this clean catch.
5:30 rolled around, so I ran over to right field. I ran down to the front row and found Ball #4 in the front row.
I also noticed a ball in the gap in right field, so I glove tricked it, this time quickly and successfully for ball #5. I then proceeded to get yelled at by an usher named Beni or Benji or something like that. The same usher later demanded Alex to give away his baseballs because he was getting too many, and actually wasted about three minutes of my time questioning me where he, and that he owed him baseballs. Pretty ridiculous. Especially because I personally watched him pick up at least three around 5:25 before I went over to right field.
I stayed in right field for the rest of BP.
After batting practice, we left and actually got back home just as the game was ending.
Game: 6 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 1 found)
Season: 270 balls (113 hit, 56 thrown, 63 device, 29 found)
Games: 46 games
Average: 5.87 balls per game
Career: 1,392 balls (I numbered all the balls wrong yesterday, so the first ball was 1382, which is the one I skipped.)
Today would be the largest crowd ever to witness a game at PNC Park, as 39, 483 would pack the park.
I was second in line behind Nick Pelescak. Zac Weiss, another Pittsburgh ballhawk would be third. There was lots of time to kill, so we stood around and talked a bit.
And played some catch in front of the gate.
What pitch am I throwing below? It has to do with the Red Sox starting pitcher tonight…
When the gates opened, I found a ball in the front row of section 137 to put me on the board.
A bit later in batting practice, a ball hit off of a the groundskeepers vehicle and settled against the wall in foul territory.
It would’ve been an easy snag – just a reach over the fence. So I ran over to get it. Just as I was entering the seating area in foul territory down the line, a Pirate sliced a line drive of home run distance into the seats. I was in the right place in the right time, as there wasn’t another fan within 100 feet. I walked over and picked it up for ball #2.
In the meantime, the groundskeeper picked the ball up as I was making my way down the stairs.
My third ball was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence here, and nearly took out pitching coach Ray Searage, who was walking over to the fence to give a ball away.
I wouldn’t snag another ball until 5:30.
At 5:30, the center field and right field seats opened, and I found a ball on the stairs in right field for #4 of the day.
Moments later, David Ortiz blasted a ball way over my head. I could tell it was going to carry, so I ran up the stairs towards the top of the Clemente Wall, hoping the ball would settle in a seat or empty row. It hit a seat and completely lost all momentum, and I picked it up a moment later for #5.
In the next group, I noticed a ball had landed in the ivy in center field that might have been reachable.
I made my way down the stairs and as I was under the Clemente Wall walking to center field, I heard WHHHAPPP – the sound of a ball hitting the concrete. A ball had cleared the Clemente Wall completely and was about twenty feet in the air above my head, as it rebounded off of the back wall. I jumped up and snagged it for ball #6.
‘Wow, that was lucky,’ I thought.
Not but fifteen seconds later, the same thing happened. Completely obstructed from the path of the ball, another home run cleared everything, hit a Red Sox fan, and deflected directly to me for ball #7.
Two completely lucky snags in a matter of seconds. I was later told it was Jarrod Saltalamacchia who hit those two balls.
In the meantime, another ballhawk snagged that ball in the ivy in center field. Nothing really happened in center field, except David Ortiz sauntered out to receive the adulation of Red Sox nation.
I spent the last fifteen minutes in left field, and this was the scene.
There was no where to go. I stayed over towards the foul pole where I had at least a half row of range, but no balls came withing fifty feet of me.
After batting practice, I left PNC Park for a bit. I checked the bushes to baseballs, but didn’t find any.
I also took one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken after looking through those bushes.
The Pirates ended up winning the game, setting the stage for a possibly sweep of the mighty Boston Red Sox tomorrow.
After the game Amy and I found a secluding spot in a park during the firework show and
Anyway, before heading home we stopped off at a Giant Eagle and picked up a few snacks for a possible road trip next week… It will probably be the last extended road trip for awhile because… well, we’re so pregnant.
And tomorrow is the baby shower!
Game: 7 balls (5 hit, 2 found)
Season: 251 balls (101 hit, 53 thrown, 60 device, 28 found)
Games: 43 games
Average: 5.84 balls per game
Career: 1,373 balls