Results tagged ‘ Tony Beasley ’
I missed Monday’s and Tuesday’s games due to prior commitments. I was able to catch part of them on tv, and believe me, it was brutal. The crowds were as sparse as I had ever seen.
On Tuesday, fellow ballhawk league member and PNC Park ballhawk league member Nick Pelescak went on a rampage. He texted me to let me know that he had caught 11 balls during batting practice. The recognized official PNC Park record was 13 – set by me, back on June 13th 2009.
As the night went on, Nick would get a toss up ball during the game from Andrew McCutchen and Brandon Moss. It would come down to the players coming off of the field for Nick. Fortunately for him, Tim Tschida tossed him a ball as he walked off the field, giving Nick Pelescak the new PNC Park ballhawk record of 14 balls snagged in one game. After just three months, my name had been erased from the record book.
I was glad for Nick – and was more motivated than ever to do my best to get the record back. Since about June 21st or so, around when the Indians/Pirates series began, I have put myself through a rigorous workout schedule. Every other day I lift weights – on the off days, I run three miles.
Today, I would forego my fitness and wellbeing to stay for the entire game, and maybe, just maybe, get that record back.
Around 2:45 PM, it started to rain hard, so I was about 95% sure that batting practice would be cancelled. At 3:30, I got a text from Nick saying the tarp was on the field. I decided that maybe I could get three balls today from pitchers and what not – and that would be a good day.
I arrived at the stadium a little after 4 PM, and faced no traffic at all on the way in. Pittsburgh is officially a ghost town for the next three days. The G20 summit is here, and it has basically transformed Pittsburgh into a military state.
I went down to the riverwalk to wait for Brandon Moss, Garrett Jones, or Ryan Doumit to send one out of the stadium. Usually, the riverwalk is bustling with people. Typically, I am asked no less than 50 times, “What are you doing? Trying to get a ball? Do they ever come out here? How many came out today? What happens if it goes in the river?”
There were military choppers flying over every so often.
And to my right.
Lots of room to run. Sometimes on Saturdays it can get quite crowded for BP, since there’s very few rows. On days like this however – there’s plenty of room to roam.
I got ball #8 in Phillips’ next round of BP. He launched a home run that hit half way up the rotunda facade. Typically, I would just stand and watch the ball, since it was directly down the line. Since no one was here, I ran over towards where the ball was going to hit – just in case of a crazy bounce. The ball would take a huge hop off of the rotunda, and fall in Section 133, where it would roll slowly down the steps up against the green wall in the picture below. I was able to pick it up.
It was about 5:45, and I had snagged 8 balls already…
However, I would get shut out for the rest of BP. I made a bad choice on two consecutive groups. I stayed in left field when there were two powerful lefties peppering the seats with homers. Then, I went over to center field for the last group, but got shut out there as well.
I decided that my new goal would be to put up double digits.
I got ball #9 in the first inning from Andrew McCutchen.
It was rather funny. Andrew finished throwing with Brandon Moss and turned to throw the ball into the center field seats. He stopped and laughed, almost as if he was thinking, “These guys again?” It was basically us four ballhawks that he sees all the time. He paused and looked at us, and then threw me the ball in Section 139. He has probably seen me the least, since I don’t typically stick around for the games.
Speaking of center field, look how unbelievably empty it was?
Thank you G20 and the Pittsburgh Media for scaring everyone away from Pittsburgh. And yes, those pictures were actually taken DURING the game!
I would try every inning for another warm up ball from an outfielder so I could record a double digit game. In the second inning, Nick caught Moss’ warm up ball.
In the third, I went back to center field, but changed my appearance, taking off my Pirates Tshirt and wearing my black under armor compression shirt. I also put on some ugly visor I had won after BP. I was hoping he wouldn’t recognize me and throw me another ball. No luck.
In the fourth, Moss threw his ball to an older ballhawk on the right field wall who misplayed it, and the ball bounced into a teenager’s hand.
In the fifth, I tried again with my altered appearance, but McCutchen threw it to some girl.
The sixth inning rolled around, and I was the only person that stood up for Moss when he looked for someone to throw it to. It helped that there were maybe 20 people sitting on the entire right field wall. After scanning the crowd, he tossed me ball #10.
Thank you Brandon!
I kept playing for more toss up balls in every inning. In the ninth, with my altered image, I was able to trick McCutchen into throwing me another one. I doubt he recognized that I was the same guy who he threw a ball to in the first inning. He lobbed it up, and I took a few steps to my right and made the catch. It was ball #11.
After catching each warm up ball, I switched the ball with an extra ball I had brought from home. In the past, I had been given guff by ushers or non friendly season ticket holders for catching too many outfield warm up balls. Now, I make sure that I hand the “decoy” balls to a little kid right in front of an usher or supervisors. I’m hoping they’ll think, “That guy’s alright.” I’ve got a whole box of them at home. They are balls given to me by friends who agreed in the past to pay for their tickets to games with the balls they’ve caught. Those balls obviously aren’t marked and don’t count in my stats. Their sole purpose is to use to give away.
After getting McCutchen’s warm up ball, smoothing keeping it in my glove, while slipping the decoy ball out of my pocket and tossing it to a kid, I left the outfield with Nick to go to the dugout area. On our way towards the main concourse we were stopped by a kind usher. He told me something along the lines about how nice it was that I gave a ball to a kid and offered me a ball. Of course I took it. It counts. An usher is a paid employee of the Pirates, not a fan, and balls given away by ushers, trainers, security guards count. It was ball #12. He told me that he had retrieved the ball from center field earlier and that it had gotten soaked when it rained earlier this morning. The ball was certainly heavy, so I put it in my bag, and will hold off on numbering it until it dries out.
Nick was with me and noted, “You’re only two away now.”
I would need a miracle.
Enter Jayson Nix.
I sat down in the box seats and waited for the game to end.
Nix would foul off a 1-0 pitch from Virgil Vazquez that would land in an aisle of the Lexus Club seats.
As soon as the ball was hit, I was off. The ball bounced off the concrete, and took a high hop in the air. I was closing in on the ball and reached out and caught the ball out of the air. It was my first career foul ball, and my first game ball of 2009.
Not only that, but it was my 13th ball of the game.
Even more, it was my 200th hit ball snagged of 2009.
Guess what else? Remember Nick Pelescak? Guess who hit his first career foul ball which he caught earlier in the season? Yeah, Laynce Nix. And who’s PNC Park single ball record was I chasing? Nick Pelescak’s. Somehow fate had taken over.
Here’s a shot from Reds TV of where the ball landed. I’m wearing the black under armor shirt with my hat on backwards:
And a shot from FSN Pittsburgh, as I’m reaching out to make the catch:
I just needed to get a ball from Bob Davidson, and I would have my name back in the PNC Park record book, sharing Nick’s record.
The Pirates would go on to lose the game, and I tried my best to get Davidson to toss me a ball. He looked directly at me, but tossed four balls to other kids.
I quickly ran over to the Pirates dugout to try and get a ball from someone.
I waited for the Pirates bullpen pitchers to come in. Only Matt Capps had a ball, and he tossed it to a little kid.
All of the players had exited the field.
All of the fans had left the stadium.
A security guard came over and told me I had to leave. However, I noticed that Herbie Andrade, the bullpen catcher, still hadn’t come in. I bargained with the security guard to just let me wait for “that player,” and then I would be gone.
Herbie walked slowly in, lugging a huge bag of equipment over one shoulder, and carrying another burdonsome bag in the other.
The entire stadium was basically empty now, except for me (standing in the front row above the tunnel), and Nick, who was standing a few rows behind me.
Herbie probably wondered, “What the F is wrong with these guys?”
I felt awkward, so I spoke to him in Spanish.
“Tienes algunas pelotas extras para mi, Herbie?”
He paused and fumbled around with the bags. Noticing that he was going to give me a ball, I continued, “Muchisimas Gracias. Eres el hombre.”
He the tossed me ball #14. I bid him farewell with, “Hasta manana.” Seriously, Herbie is an awesome guy.
My friend Nick couldn’t believe my luck. Within 1 inning, from the beginning of the 9th to the end of the game, I had snagged four balls.
I wanted one more shot at snagging a ball. There was only one place to go.
Outside to the tall grass that was buzzing with insects.
I stomped around hoping to step on a ball.
I continued to search.
After about 10 minutes of searching, fearing I would be arrested as a suspected g20 terrorist, and feeling bugs crawling on my legs, I relented.
Did the thought of jumping into the river and swimming 17 feet down, feeling around for a ball, and grabbing it to get 15 for the night cross my mind? Yes.
Did I jump in the river and actually try it? No.
Nick and I would share the PNC Park record of 14.
Here’s today’s PNC Park record tying and personal best baseballs:
And the sweet spots: (the usher ball is not numbered yet because it is soaked):
And a look at my first career foul ball snagged, and first game ball of 2009:
Game: 14 balls (8 hit, 6 thrown)
Season: 375 balls (200 hit, 112 thrown, 63 device)
Games: 76 games (8 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.93 balls per game
Career: 541 balls
Streak: 91 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 15,980 (couldn’t have been more than 2,000-3,000 that actually showed)
Race for 400 in 2009: Need 25 in 5 games, 5.0 per game (This could be do-able…)
Today was the Mets’ second of four games in Pittsburgh, and my second attempt at getting a commemorative ball.
I got to the gates a little after 4 PM and was second in line. When the gates opened, I jogged into the bleachers and was the first one there. I saw a ball as I entered one of the sections. I quickly ran down and grabbed ball #1, as other ballhawks were right behind me. Much to my surprise…
it was a Shea Stadium commemorative ball from last year. Nice! I still would’ve rather had a Citi Field ball, but I’ll take it.
Moments later as I moved towards the foul pole, I found ball #2. Finding two Easter eggs is an awesome start, usually there aren’t any.
Ball #3 came from Tony Beasley. He made sure that all of the regular ballhawks got a ball today. What a good guy.
When the Mets came out to hit, there weren’t many pitchers shagging in the outfield. A ball was hit to the 410 sign in center field. It was very glove “trickable.” I started to make my way over to get the ball. Just as I got to the bullpen, a deep ball was hit right at me. Mike Pelfrey ran back and made the snag. I thought, “Great. He’s going to pick up that ball too.” Luckily, Pelfrey didn’t see it, and walked back to center field. Moments later, I reeled up ball #4.
I went back towards the foul pole when a fellow ballhawk and PNC Park regular, Dan, pointed out another ball to me. It must have rolled to the 410 sign when I was walking back to my spot. I went over and reeled in ball #5 after one failed attempt. I think I will need a new rubber band soon. The one I have might be getting to stretched out.
In the middle of the Mets batting practice, Gary Sheffield launched a deep home run to my left. I could tell it was a bomb, so rather than positioning myself in line with the ball, I ran back to the cross aisle that seperates the lower bleachers from the upper deck bleachers. The ball hit in the cross aisle and rolled partly under the overhang of the upper level bleachers. I reached down and gloved ball #6.
I made a huge mistake by heading over to center field for the last group. The final group taking batting practice was predominently left handed, so I figured I’d have a better shot. There was only one right handed batter.
Check out how empty batting practice was. There aren’t many people in the left field bleachers.
Within minutes, he was surrounded by security guards. A man in a suit came out with a clipboard and the negotiating began. It lasted about an inning. I’m not sure what the kid asked for, but there were about 4 things written down on the sheet of paper on the clip board.
It got me thinking what I would ask for if I had caught the home run. I decided that I’d ask for a game ball signed by Jaramillo, the chance to deliver the ball to him in person, and his word that he’d toss me 1 ball at any batting practice I attended (if he was in the outfield and I asked for one.)
Later in the game, I was getting
thirsty. I decided to go fill up my water bottle. As I was passing this Nacho Express stand, something caught my eye.
Yes, you guessed it. Another Easter Egg.
I had to almost lay on the ground to get that picture. I had to reach around the side of the stand to get ball #8. People probably thought I was a big weirdo for laying on the ground and reaching under a Nacho Express stand, but when they saw I pulled a ball out, I saw a few surprised faces.
I went back to center field in the ninth inning to try and get Nate’s warm up ball. His throw hit some guys arm, richoted right in front of me, but I wasn’t ready and misplayed it. Some one picked the ball up 2 rows ahead of me.
I then headed to the dugout. I had to run half of the way there, because Matt Capps got 3 quick outs. I just barely made it to the dugout as umpire Ted Barrett was coming off the field, but was in a terrible spot, off to the side of the tunnel. He gave two balls away, but not to me.
That was it for today.
When I arrived home I had this waiting for me:
I had been waiting all day for it, since I was off work today, but it didn’t arrive until after I left for the Pirate game. It was my Super Deluxe copy of Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King, Dave Matthews Band’s new album.
The CD was released today, and I had ordered it off of the Warehouse (fan club) so I could get some bonus items.
I spent the rest of my night looking through the booklets and watching the DVD. I didn’t listen to the CD the whole way through until the next day because I wanted to blast it, and it was too late to do that. I’d reccommend picking it up at Target or Best Buy for $9.99 this week. It’s their best album since 1998. Seriously.
The sweet spots:
Game: 8 Balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 151 Balls (67 hit, 62 thrown, 22 device)
Games: 30 Games (26 with BP/4 without)
Average: 5.03 Balls Per Game
Career: 317 Balls
The Pirates invited season ticket holders to take batting practice in the cages inside of PNC Park today. Of course, Holly and I went. We checked in at 6PM and then went into the catacombs of PNC Park to the batting cages.
There were two large cages to take batting practice in. In one cage, ex-Pirate pitcher Bob Walk was throwing batting practice. In the other, a pitching machine did all the work. Since there were only little kids taking batting practice against Bob Walk, I decided to check out the pitching machine.
Instead of taking another round, I was frustrated, so we left to get dinner in the Pittsburgh Baseball Club. On the way back, we snapped a picture of the tunnel leading to the Pirates dugout.
There is a Roberto Clemente quote, consistant with the “Pride, Passion” motto of the Pirates this year.
In the baseball club we ate hamburgers and hot dogs. There was virtually no one there. Honestly, there were maybe 16 people in the club level when we got there. Ryan Doumit, Sean Burnett, and Andy LaRoche were playing pool together when we got there. They were supposed to be mingling with the fans, but there were not many fans, so they pretty much kept to themselves. No one was going up to them or talking to them except for one or two of the Pirates ticket account executives.
After eating, Holly and I played a few rounds of pool, and then left.
It was fun, I just wish I could’ve hit better.
Today was the kick off of the Pirates Winter Caravan which will travel through four states and make numerous stops, mainly at areas farther away from Pittsburgh. I decided to attend the kick off of the Caravan outside of Somerset PA at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort.
My wife and I stopped over at my parents’ house for lunch since it was on the way. The roads were pretty bad on the way there as we received about 5 inches of snow overnight. Just as we were about to leave for Seven Springs, Holly noticed a herd of deer in my parents’ backyard.
Notice that there are two deer in the above photo. There were two more that are hidden by the columns on my parent’s back porch. They were eating berries from that bush
Something startled the herd, probably the flash, and they ran away. I was able to take a pretty good picture at one as it was leaving past the kitchen window.
It was about 1:45 and we left my parents’ house for Seven Springs. We allowed ourselves about an extra hour of driving time in anticipation that the roads would be bad. We mainly traveled the highways, so the roads were clear until we got on the local roads that headed to Seven Springs. They were pretty bad, so we took our time and still managed to arrive 45 minutes early.
We parked in the main lot near the Convention Hall and walked towards the two giant Pirates Caravan buses. There was no activity around the buses. Apparently, they parked in front of a building and the Pirates players were probably inside the building. I took the opportunity to get my picture taken in front of one of the buses.
When we entered the Convention Hall, there was already a large line formed. We unfortunately ended up standing between the main doors and the stairs that lead down to the lifts. Therefore, dozens and dozens of skiers and snowboarders kept squeezing past us to go down the stairs. It got rather annoying after awhile. The man in front of us kept getting shouldered as people went past and kept muttering and swearing under his breath. The highlight of standing in the line was when some late 20′s guy came up to the beleaguered man in front of us and asked, “What is this line for?” The man responded in an annoyed tone, “The Pirates.” Even though there were large signs welcoming fans to the Pirates Winter Caravan, the man followed up his original question with, “Is there a game or something?” The man in front of me rolled his eyes, shook his head, and didn’t respond. Think about it, a baseball game… with 26 inches of snow on the ground at Seven Springs… in January… inside of a Convention Hall? I heard the guy in front of my mutter, “F*c**n R*t**d.”
At 3:30, the doors finally opened and we were allowed in. The Convention hall was about 1/5 the size of the hall the Pirates use at the David L Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. At one end of the hall there was a movie screen playing Pirates video highlights and Pirate player autographs. At the opposite end there was a stage set up for Pirate Trivia and Pirates Deal or No Deal. In the middle, there was a large inflated jungle gym for kids, a booth to get your face painted, a booth to have a caricature drawn of your face, a ticket booth, a raffle booth, a guitar hero booth, a spin-the-wheel booth, and a 104.9 radio table.
Upon entering, we went straight to the autograph line. It wasn’t a very long wait, maybe 15 minutes at the most. Signing first was manager John Russell, pitcher Sean Burnett, catcher Ryan Doumit, and third baseman Andy LaRoche. I snapped a few photos while I was in line waiting:
Ryan Doumit (below)Sean Burnett (below)
Andy LaRoche (below)
The autograph line (below)
After getting autographs, we wandered around for a bit and made our way over to the stage area. There would be a Pirates trivia game at 4:15, followed by Pirates Deal or No Deal at 5:00. On the way over, I snapped a picture of Ross Ohlendorf being interviewed by 104.7 wpgb radio personality Rocco DeMaro. DeMaro hosts Extra Innings after every Pirates radio broadcast. I make it a point to listen to his show after every home game. He also hosts a weekend show.
When we settled in for Pirates Trivia, I became unsettled because the battery in my camera died, and I didn’t have any extra batteries. Even though my wife brought her camera, I moped as we did Pirates Trivia.
The game was hosted by Pirates announcers Greg Brown and Bob Walk. They asked 10 Multiple Choice Questions to the crowd. The crowd had a piece of paper and a pencil to record their answers on. Afterwards, the Pirates season ticket reps and members of the Bucco Brigade collected the papers, graded them, and revealed the winner. Only one person got a 10/10. It was some 15 year old girl. She won 2 Pittsburgh Baseball Club seats to a 2009 game for winning. Some of the questions they asked were:
1) What group sang the 1979 Pirates theme song, we are family?
2) Who did the Pirates draft first in the 2004 amateur draft?
3) What Pirate won their first game on Aug 8 2005?
4) What minor league team did Tony Beasley manage before coming to the Pirates?
5) What are the color of the seats at PNC Park?
6) Who is the right field wall named after at PNC Park?
7) How many different Pirates have won batting titles in Pirates history?
8) Who was the Pirates representative at the 2008 All Star Game?
There were 2 other questions that escape my memory.
The tie breaker question was to name the 3 game combined attendance for the home games of the 1979 World Series.
By the way, I got an 8/10. I was wishing I had my Ipod touch with me to look up an answer or my med
ia guide, but that would’ve been cheating.
After Pirates trivia, Deal or No Deal was to follow. Holly and I had seen this game before at Piratefest and were aware of how it worked. Pirates announcer John Wehner was the host for Deal or No Deal, and Sean Burnett was the banker. Wehner asked one of the Pirates Season Ticket reps to pick her first contestant. All 200 or so fans put their hands in the air. I didn’t put my hand up, but then Holly hit me and said, “You put your hand up!” So I did.
And guess who they picked?
The lady must have liked my Pirates outfit. I wore my Pirates batting practice hat that Ian Snell threw me on 9/21/08, my Pirates hoody, and my Pirates Dugout Jacket.
Pirates Deal or No Deal is similar to the NBC version with Howie Mandel. There are 12 boxes, or “cases.” Under each box is a prize. The goal of the game is to win the best possible prize, either by seeing the game the whole way through and accepting whatever is in the case you’ve chosen to begin the game, or by accepting an offer from the banker.
Wehner asked me to place a Pirates hat on the case that I wanted to choose. I chose #2, since Jack Wilson is Holly’s favorite player.
The prize board was as follows:
On the left side of the prize chart (crappy side)
-Pirates pocket schedule
-Pirates giveaway hat
-Pirates Parrot Doll
-Two Tickets to a game
On the right side of the prize chart (good side)
-Two Tickets to opening day
-Two Pittsburgh baseball club tickets
-Two Lexus Club Tickets
-Two 10 game season ticket plans
-Two 20 game season ticket plans
Wehner asked me to open 3 boxes. I forget the numbers that I chose, but I ended up eliminating the 10 game plan, 2 tickets to opening day, and 2 tickets to a game.
Sean Burnett, the banker, gave me my first offer. It was 2 tickets to a game, and a private tour of PNC Park, which would include the managers office, clubhouse, and Pirates press box. When asked to choose Deal or No Deal, I paused, letting the crowd weigh in, and said No Deal.
I went on to open 2 more cases and received my next offer. Since I kept the 2 20 game plans in play, the offer went up. Burnett offered 4 tickets to a game + I would get to deliver the line up card with John Russell and meet the umpires and opposing manager at home plate before a game.
Although that would’ve been real cool, I wanted to see what else they would offer. I said No Deal.
I opened 2 more cases. Burnett’s third offer was 4 tickets + a Jack Wilson autographed authentic game ball. I didn’t have to think long. No Deal! Sea
I opened another case. I kept the 2 20 game plans in play. Sean Burnett upped the offer again. He offered me 4 tickets + the opportunity for myself and friends to watch batting practice from the field, directly behind the batting cage. This sounded awesome to me. I would’ve been able to enter the park early at 4:15 when the Pirates start hitting and talk to the players as they stood around waiting to take their cuts. Selfishly, I said No Deal.
I opened one more case. Wouldn’t you know it? It was the 2 20 game plans. I hung my head in shame. I knew that I had just thrown away the chance to watch batting practice on the field. The best remaining prize on the board was 2 Lexus Club seats ($300 value). I had sat in these seats before, and they are very nice, so I was tempted to keep going. I was expecting Burnett’s offer to be something like, a Sean Burnett signed baseball and a bobblehead.
I was surprised when his offer was: 4 tickets to a game, plus be introduced before the game to the crowd and change 3rd base with the groundscrew during a game. I felt this was a pretty fair offer. Of the five offers I’d received, I would rank it second best. So, I said “Deal.”
I got a nice hand from the crowd and met with one of the Promotion Representatives who gave me a form to fill out and send in with my request of any game from Mon-Thur. He said the earlier I get it in, the more likely I’ll get the game that I want.
Holly and I stayed at Deal or No Deal to watch the next contestant, a 10 year old kid, play Deal or No Deal with Ryan Doumit and Andy LaRoche as the guest bankers. I forget what he won. It might’ve been a personalized jersey + 4 tickets + 2 signed baseballs from LaRoche and Doumit.
Afterwards, we walked back to the autograph line and got autographs from Nate McLouth, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, and Tony Beasley. Maholm had been standing around, so we already got his autograph on our baseballs that we had every play sign, so Holly and I got him to sign Pirates Wall Clocks that we won at the Spin-the-Wheel game.
We went back to the wheel and played one more time. I wanted to get an Ian Snell banner for my classroom. I won a bobblehead instead, but the worker let me exchange it for the Snell banner.
We left around 5:40 or so and drove home to watch the Steelers beat the Ravens.
Holly took a brief video of Deal or No Deal which can be seen by clicking the link below: