Results tagged ‘ Progressive Field ’

7-16-09 Progressive Field

I decided to attend this game in Cleveland, seeing as the Pirates were off and I would not be able to attend this weekend’s Friday and Saturday’s games due to a wedding.

I began the day with a career tally of 392 balls snagged.  I would need 8 to get to 400.  It would’ve been nice to get a landmark ball outside of PNC Park for once.

I arrived at the stadium at 3:35, and the Indians were already inside hitting.  It is not unusual for Indians to be taking early BP, I’ve seen it many times, so I didn’t think much of it at the time.

At the gates I was greeted by PNC Park ballhawks Bryan Pelescak and his brother Nick.  They were the first ones in line and had already snagged balls over outside the left field gates.  The top three ballhawks at PNC Park had all made the trip (We all have over 100 balls snagged apiece this season).  There would likely be some stiff competition today.

When the gates opened, I ran into the right field bleachers to search for Easter Eggs.  I ran down the center area of the right field seats, looking around quickly for any balls.  I got down to the front row and spotted a ball to my right.  I picked up ball #1.  On the board.  A few feet further in the same row was ball #2.  Another section over was ball #3.  I then spotted another ball but a police offer hurriedly went over and picked it up.  “I need this,” he snorted.  “It’s cool, I already found some,” I said.  I then ran over to Heritage Park.  This was within maybe a minute or two of the park opening, so I was hoping I would be the first one there.  However, a young ballhawk, maybe 14 years old had beaten me there.  He was trying to reach a ball that was at the back of the wall underneath the fence in heritage park.  He stood up and began to walk away, but then saw me out of the corner of his eye and went back to the spot.  I went over and asked if he had anything to get the ball with, he said he didn’t.  I got out my 72 inch ruler and told him he should also check the tall grass for balls.  It took me only a few seconds to push the ball closer to me, and I had ball #4.  I probably should’ve given it to the kid, but I was in such a hurry to get back to right field to look for more Easter Eggs that I just ran off.  I felt guilty a minute later as soon as I realized that I snubbed the kid.  It was a jerk move on my part.  I didn’t feel so bad after the teen sent me a nasty hateful email (apparently he knows of my blog – how else would he know to run directly to Heritage Park?) filled with swear words and random personal attacks.  (Don’t worry Marty R from Salem OH, I won’t post your message or any of your personal info here (IP address, etc)-I’m not going to sink that low – just think before you go spouting off) I’m sure next time he’ll be better prepared with a device of his own to get those hard to reach balls in Heritage Park.

I continued to walk up and down every row searching for balls while Nick and Bryan did the same thing.  I soon found ball #5, tucked at the bottom of a folded up chair.  Nick also found five.  Progressive Field is an Easter Egg heaven.

Then I realized something was wrong.  There were no Indians on the field.  The groundscrew had come out and started watering the dirt on the infield.
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Not good.  I was off to a fantastic start, and the Indians are a great right field hitting BP team.  I would’ve had an excellent chance at double digits. 

The crowd was sparse too.
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When the ball was in view, I went to work.  I had to be quick because there were policemen in the market pavilion behind me, and a worker who’s supposed to watch the bullpen.  I was able to get the ball on the first attempt, and slowly reeled it in for ball #7.  A few impressed spectators asked me how I was able to get the ball, and I explained the glove trick to them.

I went back to left field, but it was really crowded at this point.  I had little range. 

Luckily, a right handed batter hit a ball that bounced on the warning track, and into the trees in Heritage Park.  I had a chance to nab my 400th career ball.  I ran up the steps in center field and over to Heritage Park.

When I got to the spot, a teenager had a ball and was gloating about his prize.  Oh well.  I decided to check anyway.  Wouldn’t you know it, there it was, a ball that was tucked away at the back of the outfield wall behind the base of one of the trees.  It would be a tough ball to get because one of the monuments prevented me from inserting the collapsible ruler straight on.
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After some finangling, I was able to get the ball close enough to reach in and grab ball #8 (#400).

I ended BP over in left field.  Unfortunately, the last group featured utility players and back ups, so few home runs were hit.

I ended the day with eight baseballs.  I went back to Heritage Park to do one last check for any balls that I may have missed.  On my way there, an old guy, who had been repeatedly pestering me in right field for baseballs offered to buy one off of me for $3.  I turned him down.  “Sorry, I don’t sell them.”  When I was looking for balls in Heritage Park, along with Nick, a teenager offered Nick $20 for a ball.  When Nick turned him down, he made me the same offer.  I also turned him down.  “I don’t sell them, plus I wrote on all the ones I got.  Sorry.”  I told him.  If I had brought along some extras I would’ve sold him one.  I probably have at least 100 MLB balls at home that I didn’t snag, and aren’t part of my official collection.  I use them to give away on occasion, especially in times like the scenario that played out with ball #4 today.

After BP, I took off, hoping to get home before dusk.  Which I did achieve, even with a stop at Wendy’s for dinner. (Small Chili, 1 Grilled Chicken Go-Wrap).
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I haven’t been staying at many games lately.  I don’t have time to with my new hobby.

Today’s baseballs:
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And the sweet spots:
photo(143).jpgSTATISTICS:
Game:  8 Balls (5 hit, 3 device)
Season:  234 Balls (124 hit, 75 thrown, 35 device)
Games:  47 Games (5 of them didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.98 Balls per Game
Career: 400 Balls
Attendance:  22,371

6-17-09 Progressive Field

I checked the weather forecast in the morning and saw that there was a 15% chance of rain between 3-5 PM.  Good enough for me.  I went to Cleveland.

There was some rain that I ran into on the way there, but when I got to Cleveland, the streets were dry.  Apparently it had rained a few hours before.  Surely there would be batting practice.

Wrong.  I saw this on my way to the ticket window. 
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It was about 4 PM, and I could see that there were some Brewers in the outfield in tshirts and shorts.  Should I still buy a ticket?

I figured that I might as well.  I went and stood in line while the bright sun shone down.  Surely they’d take the tarp off.

Wrong.

The tarp stayed on.  I listened to the gate worker talk about how there was a 90% chance the game would be canceled due to thunderstorms, and that it would be made up tomorrow.  I thought about just going home.

I had a build a pretty nice streak of games with at least one ball, dating back to August 2008, and I didn’t want to lose it.  But I figured I’d put it on the line. 

When the gates opened, I ran in.  There were no other ballhawks here today.  Just a few old ladies and a couple little kids in line.  I looked for Easter Eggs.  I figured maybe a coach was hitting fly balls before the stadium opened, and maybe one went into the stands. 

I looked for a few minutes before finally finding a soaked ball in the front row by the bullpen.  How did this get here?  Maybe it was from the night before or earlier this morning?  No matter, I was on the board with ball #1.

A few seconds after I picked up ball #1, a teenager appeared from beneath the bullpen roof and rolled ball #2 across the roof to me.  Totally unasked for, but definitely appreciated.

It helped that the stadium looked like this.
photo(82).jpgSince the stadium was so empty, when the Progressive Insurance car shot
off its Tshirt and Scarf around 4:45, I was able to get both of them. 
They were pretty nice.  No annoying ads on them.
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I got my final ball of the day at 4:47.  It came from a kid maybe 8-10 years old wearing a “Willis 51″ jersey.  He was the pitching coach’s son, I think.  The teenager in the picture is the kid who threw me ball #2. 
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A ball had gotten away from one of the Brewers’ pitchers and they left it in center field after they went inside.  When the Willis brothers were coming out of the bullpen, I asked for the ball.  They threw me the ball they were using and kept the ball that was in center field.  No problem.  It was ball #4.

I stayed until about 6:30, and the tarp stayed on the field the entire time.  I decided to leave, because I had a trip planned to go to Baltimore the next day. 

The game ended up being delayed 49 minutes.  On the way home, I faced mother nature’s fury, a trifecta of lightning, hail, and tornados.  It was bad. 
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Today’s baseballs:
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And the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 Balls (4 thrown)   – (the EE had to have been thrown into the stands since there was no BP)
Season:   192 Balls (94 hit, 71 thrown, 27 device)
Games:  37 Games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.19 Balls per Game
Career:  358 Balls
Attendance:  15,269

6-16-09 Progressive Field

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I made another trip to Cleveland to attempt to improve upon my four ball showing from yesterday.

I got to the ballpark an hour early to ensure that I would be at the front of the line. 
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The ball was in a little divit, so it took about 3-5 minutes of jostling the ball around until I finally had ball #7 in my grasp.  The ball had “Expect to Win,” written on it.

I received my final ball, ball #8,  of the day off of the bat of Mat Gamel.  He hit a high fly ball to right center that I camped out underneath and made an easy catch.    This particular ball had the phrase, “Best Catch Ever,” written on it.  It made me smile.  I was thinking to myself, “Yea, that was a pretty nice catch.”

I like how the Brewers write these crazy things on their baseballs.  It’s unique.  It’s different. 

When the game began, I went over to the Home Run Porch in left field.  The closest any ball came was a Ryan Garko foul
ball that traveled about 350 feet.  I was about 25 feet away from it and lost a foot race to the spot.

I left about half way through the game.

Today’s baseballs:
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The sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  8 Balls (7 hit, 1 device)
Season: 188 Balls (94 hit, 67 thrown, 27 device)
Games:  36 Games (4 without BP)
Average:   5.22 Balls per Game
Career:  354 Balls
Attendance:  22,986

6-15-09 Progressive Field

Since the Pirates are out of town for a week, I decided to hit the road.  I made the 2 hour trip north to Cleveland.  I got to the stadium around 4PM, bought a ticket, and was ninth in line. 

When the gates opened, I sprinted to the right field seats, hoping to find an Easter Egg.  I’d noticed that several other people ahead of me ran to the seats also.  Instead of going directly into the seats, I ran down the concourse towards the visiting team’s bullpen, figuring that all Easter Eggs would already be claimed in center field by those ahead of me.  The move paid off.  I spotted ball #1 laying in the front row, and quickly ran to it and was on the board.

Batting practice was slow today. 
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The Indians only hit maybe 7 balls into the seats in their entire portion of batting practice. 

I did manage to snag ball #2 off of the bat of Victor Martinez.  He hit a home run that sailed about 4 or 5 rows over my head.  I ran back and grabbed the ball, as two other people also were grasping for it.  I made sure to grab this ball off of the concrete with my bare hand.

Ball #3 also came from the Indians.  A right handed batter hit a fly ball that bounced on the warning track and over the fence.  I quickly moved about five feet to my left and made the catch over some lady’s head.  She was sitting down, without a glove, and was mad that she didn’t get the ball.  Also, she didn’t even see the ball until after I caught it. “Ohhhh, yoooouuuuuu…”  she said.  

That was it from the Indians.  The Brewers came out to hit.  Despite being over 7 hours away from Cleveland, a lot of their fans made the trip.

Batting practice was more crowded than usual. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 Balls (3 hit, 1 device)
Season:  180 Balls (87 hit, 67 thrown, 26 device)
Games:  35 Games (4 without BP)
Average:  5.14 Balls per Game
Career:  346 Balls
Attendance:  25415

6-10-09 Progressive Field

I decided to go to this game despite a gloomy forecast of rain throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

I had changed my mind several times about going.  I had ultimately decided not to go, until the rain forecast changed from 60% chance to 50% chance at around 1PM.

Getting onto the turnpike in Pennsylvania, there were menacing clouds on the horizon ahead.
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No rain drops though.

Passing into Ohio, it was just overcast.  Still no rain.
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STATISTICS
:
Game:  6 Balls (1 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device)
Season:  157 Balls (68 hit, 65 thrown, 24 device)
Games:  31 games (4 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:   5.06 Balls per Game
Career:  323 Balls
Attendance: 16,257

5-25-09 Progressive Field

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After some deliberation, I decided to attend this game.  The game was to begin at 6:05, an hour earlier than normal.  Gates open on weekdays at 4:30 for 7:05 games, so I was expecting the gates to open at 3:30.

My wife and I got to Cleveland early, and picked up our tickets at the will call window around 3 and got in line at the gate.  A girl came out and set everything up (tables, ropes, garbage cans, signs).  She told some people that the gates were to open at 3:30.  Yes!

Imagine my displeasure when the girl left to find the workers at 3:30 and returned with, “Uh, the gates aren’t opening until 4:30.” 

I had to stand there, already in a bad mood, and listen to an autograph hound talk about his autograph exploits for an hour.  He was talking obnoxiously loud.  One of those people that wants everyone to hear his conversation.
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BJ Upton:

Evan Longoria takes a big rip:
100_1432.jpgCarlos Pena takes a lead:
100_1444.jpgToday’s baseball(s):  only one pictured because career ball #288 was given away.
100_1445.jpgNotice the nice scuffing from where it hit the concrete?

And the sweet spot:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  2 Balls (1 hit, 1 device)
Season:  122 Balls (52 hit, 55 throw, 15 device)
Games:  25 Games (21 with BP, 4 without)
Average:  4.88 Balls per Game
Career:  288 Balls
Attendance:  20,929

5-11-09 Progressive Field

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I attending this game with my brother, Jon.  It’s the first game I’ve attended with him since last year.  He’s not really into ballhawking as much as I am, but would snag a ball today.

We were third in line at the gate, but the two people in front of me sort of got out of line by standing in front of another gate.  So, I was first into the stadium.  Upon entering, I found ball #1 in the right field seats.  I watched helplessly as an usher picked up another ball I had spotted. 

Travis Hafner batted at the beginning of batting practice and peppered the right field seats with home runs.  I was able to grab ball #2 and ball #3 off of his bat within about the span of a minute.

It helped that the crowd looked like this for the first 30 minutes or so:
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STATISTICS:
Game: 9 Balls (8 hit, 1 device)
Season:  98 Balls (43 hit, 44 thrown,  11 device)
Games: 18 Games (15 with BP/ 3 without)
Average: 5.44 balls per game
Career:  264 Balls
Attendance:  14,567

5-9-09 Progressive Field

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With the Pirates on the road for a full week, I decided to add two games at Progressive Field.  I checked the weather today and since the forecast was favorable, I hopped in my car and took the 2:15 drive to Cleveland.

Since it was Saturday, I had some things working against me:
1)  Gates don’t open until 5:30 on weekends
2)  Cliff Lee bobblehead day
3)  The skies darkened up and it looked like it was going to storm.

When I arrived at Progressive Field around 4, the cage was set up, but I was afraid BP would be wiped out due to the menacing dark clouds.  (The lights were on at the stadium).

I walked to the box office and bought the cheapest ticket I could, $9.  I then made my way back to the right field gate.  It was about 4:15, and a large crowd was gathering.  I was about 15th in line.  It turns out that there were hundreds of people there for faith night.  They were going to hear testimony from Indians player Jamey Carroll. 

Imagine my surprise when a supervisor announced that they would be opening the gates an hour early at 4:30!  Thank you Jesus!

A full batting practice.
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100_1219.jpgThen went to the upper deck.
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Then came back to the main level and asked an usher to take my picture.

100_1212.jpgAnd stood in line for 10 minutes to buy a cheeseburger combo meal for $9.25.
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When the game started I first sat by the foul pole in right field.
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But eventually moved to the left field home run porch.  Notice all of the fans are standing at the fence. 
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If a home run were hit, they would have a slim chance of catching it.  I stood by the garbage cans, awaiting a home run that would never come.

The Tigers won the game 4-0. 

A few action shots:
Shin Soo Choo bats against Edwin Jackson
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Jim Leyland relays some signs:
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Miguel Cabrera against Fausto Carmona as Andy Van Slyke (my favorite player 1988-1993) looks on:
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A look at today’s baseballs:
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And the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 Balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  89 Balls (35 hit, 44 thrown, 10 device)
Games:  17 Games (14 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 5.24 balls per game
Career:  255 Balls
Attendance:  33,640

4-24-09 Progressive Field

I kicked off this weekend with the last of my April games.  I had wanted to snag 60 balls this month, but in retrospect, that’s probably unreachable.

I went to Cleveland with one goal:  snag a Minnesota Twins’ HHH Metrodome final season ball.  It was the first time I’d been back to Cleveland since August 2008.

I got the stadium, almost an hour early, so I took some pictures.
100_0934.jpgA closer look at one of the commemoratives:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 Balls (2 hit, 4 thrown)
Season:  48 Balls (17 hit, 25 thrown, 6 device)
Games:  10 Games (8 with BP, 2 without)
Average:  4.80 Balls per Game
Career:  214 Balls
Attendance: 20,215

8-20-08 Progressive Field, Royals @ Indians

This was my first ever trip to Progressive Field in Cleveland OH.
I went with a fellow ballhawk, Amac, who was also making his first
appearance at Progressive. We left around 12:40 and arrived at the
field just before 4. On the way to the park, we stopped at a WalMart
which was a half hour outside of Cleveland to buy some Cleveland gear.
I purchased a Grady Sizemore Indians shirt, along with an Indians hat
and 5 other hats (they were only $3 each). Amac picked up a July 4th Indians shirt, an Indians hat and a small glove so that he could attempt the glove trick.

After
finding a place to park in Cleveland, which wasn’t that difficult, we
walked around the stadium to find the will call window. (View from outside the gates looking in)

Luckily,
there were 2 windows open, so we were able to pick up our tickets
before the gates opened. The guy at the window got my hopes up by
saying “I see you have some dugout seats here, nice!” He was lying. Our
seats were in Sec 518 Row D. I bought them off of ebay for $9.99 for
the pair. We never even sat in them though, we just needed to get into
the ballpark.

The gates at Progressive Field open at 4:30 on
Monday-Friday, giving fans access to the Right Field seats and Heritage
Park. While we were in line, we scoped out our competition. There were
two old ladies, a “family” of four with two little kids, an
octogenarian with his grandson, and some guy from Kansas City. There
was no competition like at PNC Park. At 4:25, the gates were opened,
and we rushed in.
I
got my first ball immediately from Shin Shoo Choo in Right Field. I
called out to him, “Could you throw me a ball please?” He happily
obliged. Choo continued to throw balls to about 5 or 6 more fans before
going in to take his round of BP. He was a nice guy. I got my second
ball
from a Anthony Reyes a couple minutes
later. I had called out to him several times, but he acted like he didn’t hear me.  I waited for a ball to roll up to the wall and politely asked
him for it.

The right field and center field seats at
Progressive Field are about 4 feet back from the wall. In between the
wall, there are black boards and a small railing, so doing the glove
trick was impossible. The 80 year old guy that was there with his
grandson told me to get my stuff off the board between the railing and
the wall because the Indians didn’t like fans putting their things on
there. I took it off, but was a bit miffed. Who was this guy to tell me
this, and why didn’t he bother the other people that had their bags on
it? Two minutes later, a long fly ball came towards me and the old man.
It bounced on the warning track and was just about to land in his glove
when I snatched it out of the air before he could get it. I figured it
was fair game. The old man snapped, “You dirty rascal.” It was ball #3.

Later,
the Royals came out and took batting practice. I changed into my Royals
shirt and hat. I managed to get ball #4 from Joaquin Soria as he was
walking back from doing his sprint. I had a tough time identifying any of the Royals pitchers except for Soria and Kip Wells because they all had wind breakers on.  So, make sure you print out a photo roster, especially of the pitchers. 

It went cold after that, as I
didn’t get another ball until the end of BP. It came from Royals lefty Josh Newman. I was on the phone, and noticed a ball roll
to the wall. I walked down to the front row with my glove up. He
scanned the crowd, saw my Royals gear, and tossed me ball #5.

Batting
practice ended soon afterward, so we walked around the stadium for
awhile. I really liked the stadium, its concourses weren’t crowded, and
there were many great places to eat. We settled on Market Place (I
think it was called that). And got a combo meal for $8.75. For $8.75,
we got a hamburger, fries, and a small drink. It was a great deal
compared to PNC Park.

We also walked over to Heritage park
during this time. Heritage park contains many monuments commemorating
the history and players of the Cleveland Indians. We walked down the
stairs and went to the area closest to center field. In center field,
there are some tall trees (hemlocks?) in a 5 foot space. Behind the
trees is a black wall, serving as the batters eye. I
could see underneath this wall to see the base of the hemlocks. There
was a ball lying there. There was only about a 5 inch space from the
concrete to where this wall started, just big enough to slide an arm
in. I pointed the ball out to Amac, figuring I should give him the
first try, since I had gotten 5 balls and he had only gotten 2. He
tried to reach it, but couldn’t. I gave it a shot since I had longer
arms, and still couldn’t reach it, even with my first baseman’s mitt on
my hand. Then, Amac used the glove that he purchased at Wal-Mart
earlier in the day. He used some string that I gave him to do a
variation of the glove trick. The tossed the glove in and nudged the
ball closer, getting it fairly easily. Two older folks who were
onlooking were very impressed and said, “You should get some kind of
prize for figuring out how to get that!”

There was one other
ball in this section, but it was directly behind the trunk of one of
the hemlocks and it was impossible to get. Amac tried for 10 minutes
but was unsuccessful.

The game was starting soon, so we took a
spot in the left field Toyota Home Run Porch and hung over the rail and
watched the first three innings or so. We
were astonished that the Indians do not throw their warm up balls into
the crowd. They give them back to the bullpen catcher. We were hoping
to get a home run ball, but there was no such luck.

Around the
top of the 5th, we walked along the main concourse, looking for a
distracted usher so we could sneak down. We spotted a female usher who
was playing with a patron’s baby. She was totally distracted, so we
just walked right past her and took a seat in an empty row about 12
rows back of first base. We
stayed in those seats the rest of the game, hoping to get a foul ball.
There were about three that came our way, but none in our section.

The
game got very interesting in the 8th. The Indians scored 5 runs to take
an 8-5 lead and held on to win. After the game, they announced they
were throwing victory balls into the stands. We raced over behind the
dugout, but they were stupid soft toy baseballs. We waited until many
people left, and then walked through a few rows of the stadium looking
for season tickets. We found 8 Season Tickets that folks had left
behind and a few issues of batter up magazine.

Overall, the game
and batting practice were very rewarding. I will definitely be coming
back to Progressive Field as soon as my schedule permits.

Statistics:
Game: 5 balls
Season: 99 balls
Career: 137 balls

Attendance: 23,920 (55.1% full)
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