Results tagged ‘ Progressive Field ’

4-27-12 Progressive Field

It was a Friday at Progressive Field, and it was brutally cold, with temps in the mid 40′s.  Originally, I had planned to go to Baltimore today and stay overnight and see the Athletics there on Friday and Saturday, but after some consultation with fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak, we decided to go to Cleveland instead as it was the cheaper option.

When the gates opened, I got on the board early thanks to Indians closer Chris Perez.  As I was unsuccessfully looking for an easter egg, Perez fielded a ball in center field.  I called out to him and he threw me the ball to put me on the board.  It had a BP Gas stamp on it, meaning that I can redeem the ball for a gas card by having a representative cross out the stamp.

My second ball of the day was a home run that took a crazy bounce in the front row and shot right at me.  It was over my head, so I stabbed at it with my glove and made the catch on the ricochet.  It was a reflex type play.

Ball #3 was a home run to center field that bounced in the aisle and took a large hop towards the Progressive car.  There wasn’t anyone else around so I scurried up the steps and picked it up.

My fourth ball came from Indians ace Ubaldo Jimenez.  Jimenez finished a side session and walked out of the bullpen.  Several people asked him for a ball, including myself, but he ignored everyone.  Just as he was about to disappear out of view, he looked back.  The other fans had turned their attention back to the field, but I hadn’t, so I held up my glove – and he tossed me his warm up ball for my fourth of the day.

Ball #5 was a ground rule double that I fielded in center field.  I just shuffled through an open row and caught it as it bounced off of the warning track.

That was it for the Indians.  When the Angels came out, I was expecting a lot of home run balls to be hit to center field, since they are a right handed heavy line up.  That really wasn’t the case though.  The Angels didn’t hit much of anything to center field that had home run distance.

As BP got underway, I tried to get a ball from a pitcher, but the last place Angels, who have been in turmoil were pretty unfriendly when it came to tossing up baseballs.

After a long drought, I caught a home run on the fly in center field off the bat of who I believe is Mark Trumbo after looking at his batting stance on mlbtv.  I caught it here:

Ball #7 was a home run ball that landed in the trees in Heritage Park.

That was just before 6PM.  At 6, the whole stadium opened, and I made my way over to left field.   An unknown righty hit a home run to my right that I tried to catch, but couldn’t quite get to.  In left field there are steep steps and bleachers all over the place, so its difficult to navigate quickly.  The ball landed here:

Luckily, it rolled underneath the riser that the seats are on, so I just reached underneath and grabbed it.

I could tell that batting practice was about to end, so I hustled to the Angels dugout, the Angels finished before I got to the dugout, but I got there just in time to yell out ‘DINO!’ towards one of their coaches.  It was Dino Ebel, their third base coach.  He looked at me and smiled, and then turned away to put a few baseballs away.  He then turned back and tossed me ball #9.  Luckily I looked over the coaches list when I made my roster.  Dino is unmistakeable because he’s rather gaunt.  Seems like a cool guy though.

I only needed one more for double digits, but we didn’t hang around, we made the drive back to Pittsburgh with plans on heading to Baltimore the following day.

Here are today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

2012 Stats:
Game: 9 balls
Season: 80 balls
Games: 14 games
Lifetime: 1,624 balls
4/27 Attendance: 12,597 (for a Friday!?)

4-25-12 Progressive Field

It was a Wednesday in Cleveland, and there were only 10,552 fans to attend this game.  There were maybe 100 people there during batting practice.  You’d think it would be a good day.

The wind was blowing in pretty well from center field, so home runs would be few and far between.

During the Indians batting practice I got three balls.

One from Chris Perez, who’s the friendliest pitcher in the major leagues:

One was a home run by Carlos Santana that was over my head and I nearly caught, except that it tipped off my glove as I jumped for it.  No matter, there was no one else around, so I merely picked it up.

And a third ball was a ground rule double that settled in the second row that I beat out a gloveless fan for.

When the Royals came out, I expected to be able to catch a few homers from their lefties and get a few tossups since there was only one other fan in the park wearing Royals gear.

I went over to the bullpen and watched coach Chino Cadahia warm up with Steve Foster.  When they were done, I asked Foster for the ball, but he ignored me and put the ball in the ballbag.  Chino saw the snub and went to his bag and pulled out a baseball and tossed it to me.

When the Royals pitchers were done throwing, Jose Mijares tossed me ball #5.

The Royals lefties hit 2 home runs the entire BP.  None came close to me.  To make matters worse, it seemed that most Royals pitchers, except for Bruce Chen were in a terrible mood.  The Royals you see, had lost 12 in a row heading into this game, so they weren’t feeling too generous.

By the way, this is what the stands looked like near the end of the Royals BP:

I figured that I could head over to left field or the dugout to try and get a ball, but the Royals cut their BP short, running off the field at 5:51.  Fans are restricted to right field only until 6PM on weekdays.  So, when the whole stadium opened, the Royals were long gone, and so were all the easter eggs thanks to Cleveland’s staff.

Five baseballs is alright, but I was hoping for a few more based on the low crowd.  Oh well.  This was game one of two in Cleveland this week…

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

2012 Stats:
Game: 5 balls
Season: 71 balls
Lifetime: 1,615 balls
Games: 13 games
4/25 Attendance: 10,552

4-9-12 Progressive Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

My second ball was a clean home run catch here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s today’s baseballs:

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

4-7-12 Progressive Field

I headed to Cleveland this morning along with Amy, Olivia, and fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak.  We left around 7:45 and after searching for affordable parking, got to the gates around 10:20, over an hour before they were to open.

The game was a 1:05 day game, and Progressive Field only opens 90 minutes open for day games, meaning that if there was batting practice, we’d miss half of it.  It was a gamble, but it was worth taking as it’s early in the season.

The plan was to go there, and hope for loads of Easter Eggs that would be left behind by the Indians batters.  I peered in and saw that the Indians were indeed hitting.

Nice, there would be Easter Eggs everywhere.  Nick and I walked over to the Home Run porch and watched ball after ball land in the right field seats.  Unfortunately, there was an usher pretending to wipe off seats who was going around and pocketing them all.

It was important to get on the board early, because we were going to get an abbreviated batting practice with the late gate times, and also there was a huge crowd lined up to get in.

All of the gates opened at 11:30, and I ran in.  As I was looking for an Easter Egg, a home run landed a section to my right.  I ran over to pick it up, as the only person around was an usher who was acting like he was wiping off seats.  Well, the usher sprinted for the ball and grabbed it before I could.  Perhaps realizing how over the top it was, he looked at it and then flipped it to me to put me on the board.

I found a second ball in the seats a few rows back before heading over to left field.

I should mention that the visiting Blue Jays were already hitting when the gates opened, so we missed at least half of BP.

I hate Progressive Field’s left field.  It’s dangerously steep, and I always do poorly there.  After getting shut out for a round, I headed back to right field.

While there, I watched a ball bounce into the trees in Heritage Park.  I ran over and found it sitting just under the fence that separates the trees from the monuments.

In the Jays third group, which was all lefties, I caught a home run on the fly cleanly here:

And less than 20 seconds later corralled another home run that bounced off the concrete partition between the outfield wall and front row of seats here:

I failed to get anything else during batting practice.  I thought I had a sixth one that I saw go into the trees at Heritage Park, but after a thorough search, I gave up.  There were a couple teenagers there looking for the same ball, but none of us found it.  After BP, I returned and systematically scanned every inch of the area behind this wall:

Eventually, I found it after BP had ended when I searched a second time.  It was right up against the concrete out of view.  It was my sixth and final ball of the day.

I snapped a photo of this Jim Thome mural,

and then we took off before game time.  There was another batting practice to get to 2 hours away in Pittsburgh…

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

2012 Stats:
Game: 6 balls
Season: 19 balls
Career: 1,563 balls

Cleveland Indians 2012 Game Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9-22-11 Progressive Field

I decided to head to Cleveland after work today.  Originally, I would’ve liked to have attended yesterday’s too, but I wasn’t feeling well and fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak was already in Cleveland and reported a rained out batting practice on Wednesday.

I left work and drove to Cleveland and didn’t get there until 4:50 PM.  Batting practice had began at 4:30.  When I arrived, I had a few bad breaks and didn’t snag anything for the first twenty minutes I was there.  I didn’t even get to see the good Indians batters like Hafner, Thome, Santana or Sizemore.  I was regretting even going.  Why did I go?  Well, I wanted to move up another spot on this list and make my 2011 season a top 5 season.  By that I mean, the number of balls that I snagged would be fifth all time.

Last year I was the all time single season record holder with 544 before Zack Hample blew by me with a 30 stadium 130 game season.

Here’s the list:

My first ball of the day was a ball that bounced into the trees in Heritage Park.  I ran over and found the ball waiting just under the wall, so I reached in and grabbed it before an usher came rushing down and started looking for it as well.  I had already grabbed it, so I just left.  Since when do ushers try to get balls out of the trees in Heritage Park?

My second ball of the day was a nice catch that took some effort.  An Indians blasted a home run to my right.  I ran up about seven rows and cut across into an empty row and caught it on the fly backhanded here:

The White Sox BP typically sucks in Cleveland because they don’t have too many good lefties, and all fans are confined to right field until 6PM on weekdays.  Not a good combination.  However, I had some more luck.

I caught an Adam Dunn home run on the fly here:

I had to leap to make the catch, and there were two other ballhawks jostling for position on the ball a row or two back.

Ball #4 of the day was completely lucky and random.  Will Ohman fielded a ball near the wall and flipped it up over his shoulder without looking.  I was standing four rows deep right here:

And the ball was directly to me.  I didn’t have to budge an inch.  Later in BP, Ohman screamed at the crowd that he would get the balls on the field and keep them, and if they wanted a ball to catch a home run.  There were dozens and dozens of kids screaming ‘HERE HERE HERE’ on every ball that was hit to right field.  I can see why he was annoyed.  Even more annoying, is that it pretty much ruined it for everyone.  The White Sox pretty much completely stopped throwing balls into the crowd for the rest of BP.

My fifth ball of the day was glove tricked out of the Indians bullpen.  It was a home run hit by Adam Dunn that settled right below me.

Piece of cake.

At 6:00, I had thought about running over and getting a ball about 12 rows up in left field that all of the ushers had missed, but Nick Pelescak was going to be going for the same ball, so I decided to instead head into foul territory at 6.

There was some major competition there, as a big line of people, including several ballhawks rushed in to the seats.  In my haste, I dropped my Cleveland Stick.  I had a decided that I would run down and see if there’s any Easter Eggs, and then come back and grab it a minute later.

When I ran over I found ball #6.  It wasn’t just any ball though…  It was an Angels 50th Anniversary Commemorative Ball.  Rare.

And weird, since neither of the teams had recently played the Angels.  The White Sox played them last on August 24th.

I then went back to grab my Cleveland Stick but it was gone.  Someone had stolen it.  Or threw it away.  It was a terrible loss.  If you’re new to this blog, I use the Cleveland Stick to snag unreachable balls out of Heritage Park like this one:

Luckily today was my final game in Cleveland, so I’ll have a new device for next year.

After having no luck in left field, I made my way over to the White Sox dugout and waited for batting practice to be over.  I usually never do this, but I couldn’t pass it up.  Look how many White Sox fans were waiting to greet the team as they ran off the field:

Yeah.  None.

As a result, I got third base coach to toss me ball #7.  He’s about to duck into the dugout in the picture below (between the two fans):

After snagging my seventh ball, I left thereby closing the book on Cleveland for the 2011 season.

I made it home at exactly 9 PM and Amy and I watched the Season Premier of The Office.

Here’s today’s baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 7 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 found, 1 device)
Season: 409 balls (173 hit, 86 thrown, 87 device, 56 found)
Games: 75 games
Average: 5.45 per game
Career: 1,531 balls
Attendance: 21,487

8-12-11 Progressive Field

In my original schedule of games that I planned on attending, I had penned in five consecutive games in Cleveland this week, Tuesday through Saturday.  However, with a new baby and new house, I was only able to make one game.  I chose Friday, simply because the Twins have a bevy of left handed hitters, and the rest of the stadium opens at 5:30, thereby thinning out the crowd in right field a half hour earlier than during the week.

I had some issues on the way to Cleveland, as my car overheated (see the gauge up at the H?) and I had to stop and get coolant at a WalMart.

Therefore, I wasn’t first in line, I was ninth.  To make matters worse, at 4:30, when the gates were to open – the supervisor realized that he didn’t have the scanners for the tickets.  This caused a seven minute delay, meaning I would miss most of the Indians first, and best hitting group.

When the gates did open, the nine people in front of me (five of which had gloves) dilly-dallied getting batting practice T-Shirts – which are given away to the first 100 fans each day.  This provided me an opportunity to run around them and be the first one to enter the seating area.

I immediately found two balls in the front row in right field.  The first of which had a BP stamp on it.

While standing in line I overheard an Indians fan talking about the BP stamped balls and saying that they could be turned in for gift cards or something.  After BP was over, I found THIS article with information about the BP balls, but it was pretty vague, so I’m still wondering what to do when the green stamped balls.  Any help?  Anyone?

There were a few people running around looking for baseballs, so I ran over to Heritage Park with another ballhawk on my tail and spotted ball #3 within reach just under the wall that separates the Heritage Park monuments from the trees.  I reached in and grabbed it without having time to snap a picture.

I returned to the seats to play for home run balls, but not for long, as Travis Hafner blasted one into the trees in Heritage Park.  I ran back over and used the Cleveland stick to snag that one.

When the first group wrapped things up around 4:45, I checked the bullpens for baseballs and noticed a real easy one in the visitors bullpen.  I glove tricked that ball for ball #5,

and a few minutes later got Chris Perez to toss me ball #6 in center field.

I had only been there about twenty minutes to that point and had already snagged six baseballs.  My goal coming into the game was nine, which would’ve given me 250 career balls at Progressive Field, but things slowed way down after that.

The Indians BP sucked the rest of the way, and the Twins had only really one decent group.  It was their second group, which featured Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, and Jason Kubel.  Those guys wore out the two sections closest to the visitors bullpen with baseballs.

Unfortunately, I was only able to snag one on the fly – a clean catch of a Thome home run for ball #7.  I had a lot of close calls, so I headed over to left field for the last group, but failed to snag anything.

I also tried the dugout after batting practice, but all of the balls that were tossed into the crowds went to kids.

So, I went home – and a two hour and 15 minute trip ended up taking about three and a half?  Why?  Well, because my car overheated three times.

It’s not supposed to look like that under the hood:

Coolant was spraying out somewhere, and I have an obvious radiator problem.  The third time I stopped I basically broke down, as my car started clunking and smoking.

After letting it sit for awhile and adding more coolant and water to the radiator, I was able to make it home, but just barely.

I have an appointment to take my car into the shop on Monday, which means that I won’t be able to make batting practice unless I can get a ride.  So, are there any other ballhawks that would be interested in giving me a ride to/from batting practice?  I’ll pay you.  $20.  That’s like a half tank of gas.  Otherwise, plan B would be to bike 14 miles to PNC Park, which no doubt would suck.  Plan C would be to take a bus, but the closest bus stop is a half hour walk away, and I’ve never, ever taken a public bus before.

Anyhow, here are today’s baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 3 found)
Season: 339 balls (141 hit, 73 thrown, 80 device, 45 found)
Games: 64 games
Career: 1,461 balls
Attendance: 31,364

6-18-11 Progressive Field

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

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

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

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

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

After a couple photos of the underside of Cleveland,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Before leaving, we took a picture:

Today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

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

6-17-11 Progressive Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A++

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

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

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

Sweet spots:

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

5-13-11 Progressive Field, Cleveland

I took my first trip to Cleveland on Friday.  Last year, I made 19 trips to Cleveland and was a 20 game season ticket holder.  I didn’t renew my tickets and plan on making fewer trips this year, even though Progressive Field is one of my favorite stadiums to ballhawk in.

Amy was along with me for a weekend trip, that included a stop in Cleveland, and then two games at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Saturday and Sunday.

I thought batting practice might be cancelled.  There was a 60% chance of rain, and the forecast predicted heavy PM thunderstorms.  In fact, most of the trip was in heavy rain.

When we arrived, the rain had stopped, but when I peeked into the stadium, I saw the tarp out on the field, which is never a good sign – but it was negated by the fact that the cage was up, and there were several Indians out throwing.  The only thing that the rain had ruined was early batting practice, meaning easter eggs would be unlikely.

Amy got in line at Gate C, and even though we arrived at 3:50, we were still first in line.  I was hoping that maybe batting practice had started so there would be some balls in the seats, but it didn’t.

When I ran in, there was nothing to be found.

That didn’t stop me from looking though.

It ended up costing me a couple balls, because some balls landed in the seats, and I was more focused on finding balls than tracking them.  It was an error, but luckily Travis Hafner was in the cage, and he was in fine form today.

My first ball of the day was a home run that I chased down after it landed in the seats.  It was hit by Hafner.

My second ball was a clean catch that I caught here, also hit by Hafner.

Ball #3 was a ball hit by Carlos Santana that I ran over and picked up.

My fourth ball was thrown to me by Chris Perez.

Perez told me to give it to a baby in the front row, which I did.

He said, “The next one is yours.”  He made an effort to go track down another ball and threw me ball #5.  Below is the catch:

Perez has thrown me more baseballs than any during batting practice.  He’s probably THE most generous pitcher in terms of distributing souvenirs to fans that I’ve seen.  Although Livan Hernandez of the Washington Nationals is a close second.  Thanks Chris!

Travis Hafner took his final cuts in the cage and launched a home run into Heritage Park.  I ran over immediately to go snag it.

Another teenaged ballhawk had beaten me down there as he was in the section by the bullpen, but he couldn’t find the ball anywhere.

I found it though, it was laying in the tall grass beneath one of the trees in Heritage Park.

The first Indians ground finished hitting and I had snagged six balls from that group alone.

The rest of Indians batting practice featured tons of close calls and near misses.  There was running around, but coming up short:

Getting late to a spot that a random fan would pick up:

Balls that were hit right at me, but would fall just short and hit off the wall:

Balls that would be snagged in hats by five year olds directly in front of my glove:

Balls that fans would jump over rows for and dive on the ground to get:

Scrum balls that I’d lose out on:

So even though the Indians BP was great, and I started out on fire, it all got evened out by that cold stretch, as I failed to snag another ball during the Indians portion of batting practice.

Luckily, the Seattle Mariners feature a ton of lefties, so my chances of getting a few more would be decent.

Ichiro was the first batter for the Mariners, and he didn’t disappoint.  He put ball after ball into the seats.

I forgot my Mariners shirt, and Mariners roster, so I felt under prepared for the Mariners batting practice.  The only thing I changed was my hat.

There were more close calls as I moved closer to the bullpen.

I did get one Ichiro home run.  A ball that landed a few rows behind me and bounced right to me.  Here I am about to label it

In the mean time, I had noticed a ball over along the foul line that was probably about six feet out from the wall.

It was an easy glove trick ball.  All I’d have to do is fling my glove out a few feet, knock the ball closer to the wall, and it’d be mine.  The only problem was that a security guard was thirty feet down the line, staring directly at the area where I’d have to do the glove trick.

I decided to go and just do it quickly.  I went and snagged the ball, as planned, and the security supervisor marched down and demanded that I give the ball back.  I did.  But it wasn’t the same ball.  It was a beat up decoy ball that Nick and I use to play catch with on the Roberto Clemente bridge.  I kept ball #8 in my possession.

As I made my way back to right field, I found ball #9 that had gone unnoticed by everyone else that had been over in that section for a good ten minutes.

Back in right field, ball #10 was a clean catch that literally saved some lady’s face.  I ran over and caught the ball on the run directly in front of an elderly woman who wasn’t paying attention at all.  Amy didn’t get the picture because it was obstructed, but here I am labeling the ball.

Amy was sitting probably about twenty rows back taking pictures, when one of the lefties hit a bomb that landed a section over from her.  There was no one in the vicinity but her, so as several other fans raced in to claim it.  She got up and acted like she was going to go snag the ball.  This caused the other fans to lay off, and gave me enough time to go get the ball.  Amy knows that if she had picked it up, it wouldn’t have counted, so that’s why she left it there for me to get.  She gets a huge assist on ball #11.

It was picked up in row R under a seat

Ball #12 was a clean catch of an unknown Mariners left handed hitter.  Here I am about to make the catch:

And the reaction of several fans afterwards – you can see the guy pointing at me, saying Good Catch!

That had tied my personal record for balls in one game at Progressive Field.

My thirteenth ball was snagged over by the bullpen in a crowd of people.

It was a line drive home run that smacked an elderly man directly in the chest, knocking him down into his chair.  I picked the ball up a row behind him and gave it to him.  It would’ve been nice to have kept my thirteenth ball, but given the situation, I felt I had to give the ball up.

Amy and I left right after batting practice to head to Milwaukee.

We stopped at Jersey Mike’s just outside of Cleveland, one of Amy’s favorite restaurants.

We stopped off in Indiana at a hotel in Mishawaka IN.  I got it on priceline for $25.

Here are today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  13 balls (9 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season:  131 balls (54 hit, 33 thrown, 25 device, 18 found)
Games: 20 games
Average:  6.55 balls per game
Career:  1,253 balls
Attendance: 33,774

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