Results tagged ‘ PNC Park ’

6-9-11 PNC Park

Today was the final day that the Diamondbacks were in town, and I for one, am not sorry to see them leave.  They just don’t hit many balls into the stands, which makes for a boring batting practice.

To make matters worse, the Pirates did not hit today.  They skipped batting practice, so at 5PM, when the gates opened, the Diamondbacks were already on the field hitting.

Upon running in, I was able to get Charles Nagy to toss me ball #1.  Here he is talking to ex-Pirate Zach Duke.

My second ball was tossed to me by Esmerling Vasquez in left field:

And ball #3 was a ground rule double that I snagged in section 136.  Nick Pelescak gets an assist as he slowed the ball down by deflecting it.  Playing ground rule doubles can be a tricky thing.

I snagged it here,

and moments later I snagged another ground rule double for ball #4 in virtually the same spot.

My fifth ball was yet another ground rule double.  It hung up in the air and I snagged it over the man in the light blue shirt.

My sixth and final ball of the day was via the glove trick by the foul pole in left field.

The Diamondbacks stopped hitting at 5:42 PM, I immediately left the park when they were done.

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device,)
Season:  192 balls (74 hit, 44 thrown, 49 device, 25 found)
Games: 32 games
Average:  6.00 balls per game
Career:  1,314 balls
Attendance: 12,468

6-8-11 PNC Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

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

6-5-11 PNC Park

It was a Sunday game, which was a day game following a night game, thereby decreasing the chances of batting practice.

I got to the stadium around 11AM, and saw no trace of the batting cage or screens.  So, I hung out on the bridge for twenty minutes, where I could see directly into the park.  I then left, resigned to the fact that there would be no batting practice.  Coupled with 35,000 people at the game, it just wasn’t worth running around all game for a ball or two.

I started walking back to the car when I got a text from my fiancee Amy, who was working the game.  She told me that they were wheeling out the screens and that batting practice would be on.

I jogged back to the park and made it into the left field bleachers by 11:35, 35 minutes after the gates had opened.

Only the Phillies would be hitting today.

And, it was packed.

I glove tricked ball #1 and ball #2 towards the left field foul pole:

The stadium was absolutely packed.  Check out the bleachers:

My view straight ahead:

I decided to move towards the foul pole where I would have slightly more room to move.

The move paid off, as I caught a Ben Francisco home run ball on the fly here for ball #3:

I didn’t snag anything else until the 5th inning.  A large group of people left the front row in center field, so I went down for a minute to give myself a chance at an Andrew McCutchen warm up ball.  He fired a perfect strike to me, while I was on the phone with Amy, who I was meeting up with for some food on her break.

That would be my fourth and final ball of the day.

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season:  177 balls (67 hit, 40 thrown, 47 device, 23 found)
Games: 29 games
Average:  6.10 balls per game
Career:  1,299 balls
Attendance: 35,505

6-4-11 PNC Park

Amy and I spent the afternoon being shown a couple houses by a realtor and then headed to PNC Park.

Today was a Fireworks night, and the Phillies were in town.  AND it was the largest crowd ever recorded in PNC Park history.  That doesn’t make a good ballhawking environment.

When I ran in, there were no balls to be found, perhaps because batting practice got started a little later than usual because of this:

Fan-photo day with the players on Federal Street from 3-4 pm.

Immediately upon entering, Kevin Correia tossed me a ball to put me on the board.

I would go the next thirty minutes without snagging anything.  The home runs that were hit, were over my head and were gobbled up by other fans.  Eventually, a fan in the front row misplayed a home run ball.  The ball hit his glove square and fell back onto the field.  It was an easy glove trick opportunity.  I asked the fan, who was maybe 14, if he wanted me to get the ball for him.  He said yes, so I glove tricked it, and handed over ball #2.

It turned out to bring some good karma, because I snagged two more balls within the next minute.  One was a clean catch of a Matt Diaz home run ball here:

And another was a Chris Snyder bomb that sailed between the rotunda and upper bleachers and bounced into a concession stand, where it was thrown to me by a worker.

At the end of the Pirates BP, I was flat out robbed by a Phillies fan.  Daniel McCutchen looked directly at me and tossed me a ball.  This guy in Phillies gear, who the ball was clearly NOT intended for, quickly reached in front of my glove and intercepted it.

My fifth ball was glove tricked here during the Phillies BP,

and I glove tricked another near the end of the BP over along the left field foul line.   That was it for today.

There wasn’t much point of trying for home run balls unless they were right at me or toss ups.  Here was my view for the last 45 minutes or so of batting practice:

After batting practice, I left, went to the gym.

Here are today’s baseballs (five pictured because one was given away):

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device)
Season:  173 balls (66 hit, 39 thrown, 45 device, 23 found)
Games: 28 games
Average:  6.18 balls per game
Career:  1,295 balls
Attendance: 39,441

5-22-11 PNC Park

I wasn’t planning on attending this game.  I was expecting to drop Amy off at work, and then go home to package up all of the bobbleheads that I had sold.  Making batting practice more unlikely was the fact that it started to rain at 10:30 AM, a half hour before the gates were to open.

I could see the tarp on the field from the center field (Stargell statue) gate.  I thought about leaving, but I thought I noticed that the screens were out on the field in foul territory.

utside the stadium, there were plenty of festivities, including the March of Dimes finish line, right outside the left field gate.

I decided to walk up the Roberto Clemente bridge a little way to get a better look inside the stadium.  I saw the tarp still on the field, but the cage was up.

Obviously, I decided to stick around.

Amy and I stood on the bridge where we had gotten engaged on Valentine’s Day and took in the scenery, and talked until it was time for me to go into the stadium and her to go to work

When I entered the stadium, my first ball of the day came from Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton by the bullpen.

When Morton had finished throwing, I called out for his warm up ball.  A few seconds later, he tossed a ball up, which I caught.  A thirteen year old in front of me was none too pleased, but I hadn’t heard him ask for it.  I was going to give it to him until his dad started b*******.  He got a ball a minute later anyhow.

The whole stadium opened at 11:30AM, and there was still no action.  The tarp had at least been taken off the field, so I walked around the lower level looking for easter eggs, but predictably, there were none.

The Tigers trickled out to loosen up a bit later.  I asked two of the coaches for a ball, but was ignored.  Here’s ex Pirate manager Jim Leyland:

When the Tigers began hitting, I used the glove trick to snag ball #2 here:

And, I used it to snag balls #3 and #4  by the foul pole, as both balls had rolled there within 15 seconds of each other.

Since I was having good luck with the glove trick, I invited Jim to glove trick a ball on the warning track that I could’ve had.  I figured I’d repay the favor for him laying off on a Miguel Cabrera home run catch yesterday.

I made my way over to center field near the end of the Tigers BP and glove tricked a ball off of the warning track.  Originally, the ball bounced on the warning track, and I misplayed it.  The ball hit my glove and fell back onto the field.  There was a little girl right next to me, so when I glove tricked the ball, I turned and handed it to her.

My sixth ball of the day was an Andy Dirks home run that landed two rows behind me.  I hopped over a row and grabbed it

Batting practice ended at 12:15 PM, (The Tigers didn’t take a full BP, they only hit for about 30 minutes) so there was an hour and fifteen minutes until the game was to begin.

I left the game, and went to a nearby park to read my Sunday Papers – the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Tribune Review.  I also bought a ‘water-ice’ drink, which was perfect on this hot sunny day.

I returned to the game, but was met with bad luck.  Garrett Jones tossed his warm up ball to me in the 4th inning, but this guy in the white shirt interfered.  The ball was glanced by his arm, hit my glove, and bounced below where a random fan grabbed it.

Basically the same thing happened in the fifth inning, when McCutchen threw his warm up ball to me.  I was awaiting the catch in the handicapped section in center field when a guy jumped out of his seat and intercepted it.

Here are today’s baseballs: (Five pictured because one was given away)

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 4 device)
Season:  156 balls (60 hit, 36 thrown, 37 device, 22 found)
Games: 25 games
Average:  6.24 balls per game
Career:  1,278 balls
Attendance: 25.124

5-21-11 PNC Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here I am just a moment after making the grab:

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

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

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

Check out the crowd:

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

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

In center field I glove tricked ball #5 here:

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s baseballs:

And the sweet spots:

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

5-20-11 PNC Park

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

Standing around.

And more standing around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I set up my glove trick and snagged it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lowered it over the ball,

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

Here are today’s baseballs:

And the sweet spots:

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

5-12-11 PNC Park

Rain was forecasted for today, so the Pirates were hitting early.  Amy was working the game and was there with me on the Riverwalk.  She had bought me two steak sandwiches.
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It was still early, so I figured the big lefties weren’t up yet, so Amy and I were just talking with a ball landed literally two feet to my left and rolled into the river.  I was upset that I wasn’t paying attention like I should’ve been.
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The ball floated awhile and sank.

I caught my first ball of the day here, as it took one bounce in the stadium and right into my glove.
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I misplayed another ball that rolled into the river, I just over ran it, because a big pack of pedestrians were walking toward the spot where it bounced out, and I was overly aggressive.

Amy then found a ball.  Since she is an employee and was working this game, I counted it.  It must’ve bounced out and hit the trees to my right, because it was just sitting in the grass.  She found it when she went to go into the stadium to begin her work.

My third ball was another one that bounced out of the stadium.  I played it just right and I caught it on the fly as it took one hop off the riverwalk and right into my glove.

Finally, I misplayed another ball.  Another one bounced out, but I ran too far in on it.  I was standing on the razor grass, so I didn’t want to jump and break my ankle, so I tried to reach up for it, but it was a few feet over my glove.  Nick Pelescak had the play backed up, but it got past him too.  Some random passerby picked the ball up as it slowly rolled toward the river.  Had he not been there either Nick or I probably could’ve reached the ball, as it seemed to not have much momentum if some random guy was able to get it.

It started raining then, as usual, right at 4:35.  This wiped out batting practice.

I still went in, and managed to find ball #4 in the fourth row,
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and ball #5 in the front row.
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I found them probably five minutes after the gates had opened.  Zac Weiss was the first one in and had already covered this section, but must’ve just missed them in his haste. 

I looked for more when the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30, but there was nothing else to be found, so I went home.

The game ended up being rained out, which is great, because it means it’ll be made up, which will give us an extra batting practice.

Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:

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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 found)
Season:  118 balls (45 hit, 31 thrown, 24 device, 17 found)
Games: 19 games
Average:  6.21 balls per game
Career:  1,240 balls
Attendance: 1 (rain out)

5-11-11 PNC Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double digits just wasn’t to be.

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

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

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

5-10-11 PNC Park

Let’s get right to it.

My first two balls of the day were off the bat of Chris Snyder.  The first was a home run that landed in section 133 near the foul pole.
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There was no one there, so I simply had to run over and pick it up.

Snyder hit another ball that bounced over the fence.  Several fans reacted to slow and deflected the ball right to me here:
DSC00984.JPGAt 5:30, I ran into the center field seats and found ball #1 laying in the front row, it was in the middle section here:

It was also ball #100 of the season.
DSC00987.JPGSince the Dodgers batting practice was so awful, I stayed in right field because Jay Gibbons was the only batter really putting anything into the seats.

He didn’t hit nearly as many home runs as yesterday, but he did hit one home run that I chased down as it hit a seat a section away from me, and a few rows back:
DSC00985.JPGThat was it for batting practice.  It was really lame.  The Dodgers again, are the worst batting practice team I’ve seen all year.

During the game, I snagged Andrew McCutchen’s warm up ball before the first inning began.  I stood in the third row, in the exact spot where the threw it yesterday, and he delivered a perfect strike to me.  It was my fifth ball of the day.
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That was it for my snagging.  I was really tired, so I sat for much of the game.  The Pirates ended up losing, knocking them back to .500 on the season at 18-18.

Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
DSC00995.JPGSTATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  102 balls (38 hit, 27 thrown, 22 device, 14 found)
Games: 17 games
Average:  6.00 balls per game
Career:  1,224 balls
Attendance: 13,497