Pirates v Cubs, PNC Park, 9/27-28-29/2016

Well I guess having Joe Maddon in town with his layed back anti practice approach, and Hurdle in complete shut down mode was fitting to end the year.  Hurdle, with his analytic styles and rest, relax approach made my goal of reaching 410 to hit 3000 career baseballs unattainable.

Without traveling too much; Cincinnati, Chicago, and Cleveland only, the Cincinnati games helped a lot as I was able to clean up with a load of baseballs over 5 games there.  Chicago was an awesome three game trip but again, that was with Maddon and Hurdle.  Wrigley Field, with the early entrance bleacher tickets would have been awesome to see with two good hitting teams hitting, the crowd was pretty low even with the success of the Cubs, and you can go anywhere.  I ended up in three games there only seeing 3 groups of Pirates hit on the final day of the trip.

I can never be upset with how things turn out though, I had an awesome year with a lot of awesome ball hawks, fans, and players.  Being a part of baseball each year and being healthy and able to participate in baseball in this manner is a blessing to me every year.

Next year I will need 125 baseballs to reach the 3000 mark.  I also plan on making my first West Coast trip next year, I want to go to Atlanta to see their new ball yard, and to Toronto when the Pirates visit next year.

As advertised, there was little to no action throughout the entire series.

9/27, Tuesday

Monday of this series was no bp for either team, so I left.  Tuesday was pretty decent though as the Pirates took a batting practice for once.

Phil Coke, of whom I have connected with in the past as a Detroit Tiger, who always has seemed friendly hooked me up early for Ball #1.  I then found a baseball sitting within easy reach in the CF ivy for Ball #2.  Over in CF I also came through with an easy scrum on a hit ball, Ball #3.

Over in LF I scrummed three hit balls to end the day with 6 baseballs, no Cubs batting practice as advertised.

9/28, Wednesday

Again neither team took batting practice, I was lucky Heberto Andrade was out and about throwing baseballs around or this would have been a shut out.

9/29, Thursday

This currently is my last game of the year unless I end up making it to an East Coast playoff game at some point.

It ended fairly well as the Pirates took batting practice, the Cubs again did not show.

Ball #1 was a Herbie Andrade toss up, followed by a toss up in CF by AJ Schugel, Ball #2.

I was able to come down with a scrum in CF and back over in LF to end the day and potentially end the year at 285 baseballs and 2875 career.

Happy to be here another year.


Final Baseballs of Regular Season





Jose Fernandez, RIP, we will all miss you.






Pirates v Nationals, PNC Park, 9/23-24/2016

On the Friday of this game there would again be no Pirates bp which wasn’t surprising.  Erik Jabs, Zack Hample, Brandon Sloter,Ted Ledon and myself had a nice throwing session on the Clemente bridge.


I had a tough time getting anything going throughout the Nationals batting practice.  A couple of homers cleared my head on the left field crosswalk and toss ups were hard to come by.

Over in CF I avoided getting shutout when I got Nationals reliever Matt Grace to throw me up a baseball, Ball #1 and the only one I would come through with on this day.

Saturday, 9/24

Saturday wasn’t much better with a three baseball total, and boring Saturday.

Heberto Andrade toss up Ball #1

Hit Ball Scrum Ball #2

Tony Watson toss up Ball #3

Two Game Total-4



Pirates v Reds, PNC Park, 9/8-10/2016

9/8, Thursday

Cincinnati was poor all around, with toss ups and hit balls.  All they really have is Brandon Phillips and maybe some Adam Duvall for LF, and they have nothing from the left hand side of the plate to cause any stir during bp.  When I asked Tony Cingrani if he could toss me a ball he was getting near the warning track he replied to me, “I’m not a dog.”  I guess inferring that he’s not out there to fetch baseballs, idk.

Anyway the majority of the baseballs I got during the two times I was able to see the Reds take bp came from the Brandon Phillips group.

Ball # 1/2 both came on the fly, and Ball #3 was a scrum in the upper bleachers.

9/9, Saturday

In this one I received a toss up from Herby Andrade for Ball #1 and the only one of a quick and weak Pirates bp.

Ball #2 was tossed up by a Reds bullpen player I couldn’t recognize at the LF wall.

Ball #3 scrum, and Ball #4 a caught homer off the bat of Brandon Phillips for Ball #4.




Pirates v Cardinals, PNC Park, 9/6-7/2016

For the first time in as long as I can remember the Cardinals bp provided a lot of hit ball opportunities and some players that were friendly with the toss up.

9/6, Tuesday

I got things going with a toss up from Herby Andrade, and September call up Drew Hutchison for Ball #1/2.

Over in the newly opened CF seats I lined up with Steven Brault for Ball #3.

Not too long after this I was able to find a ball not found to any others that was sitting neatly in between two chairs, Ball #4.


Five hit balls from Cardinals hitters to include Randall Grichuk x two scrum, and a caught homer off the bat of Brandon Moss brought me to 9 baseballs on the day.

In LF a homer bounced up into the open handicap section which was an easy grab to the left for Ball #10 on the day.

9/7, Wednesday

Sueng-Hwan Oh who has proved to be on the generous side tossed my up Ball #1 on the day early on.


Moments after a high homer run came into the CF front row which was an easy catch for Ball #2.

I played the river walk for Brandon Moss and Matt Carpenter and came away with a one bounce on the concrete and off the roof of the beer stand in the pic.  Ball #3-4.


Ball #5 was a caught homer on the riverwalk, Ball #6 a scrum in the CF seats and to end things a caught homer off the bat of Jeremy Hazelbaker to end the day with 7 baseballs.





Cubs v Pirates, Wrigley Field, 8/29-30-31/2016

I made the trip to Chicago to see Wrigley field, my 18th ballpark, after the Pirates swept the Brewers in a four game series.  It seemed like the Pirates were on the verge of emerging as one of the two wild cards at the time.  However, it was actually a series that began a long losing streak that led to the Pirates exit from wild card contention.

Iconic Chicago..


Chi-Town, The Windy Cinty


After taking the subway from downtown over to Wrigley I took a walk around the ancient field, there was a good deal of construction going on around the ball park.  Maybe they can just level Wrigley Field and build something nice.


First view of Wrigley featuring Ron Santo, the new young stardom of the Cubs, and the old look of Wrigley.


Mr. Cub


The Home Plate view..


From Behind CF


On Waveland Ave


This bar/restaurant Murphy’s was across the street which featured some good beer on tap, and a lot of Cubs memorabilia from over the years.



Around 4:00 pm a nice little patch of rain clouds rolled through and did enough damage to cancel out Pirates and Cubs bp.

Although the skies cleared and the field appeared more on the dry side this was the scene.


I didn’t really want to play the Heberto Andrade card this early, but the anxiety of being such out at Wrigley on the first game there was too much for me.  I waited around near the Pirates on field bullpen, chatted with Herby close to game time and came through with my first baseball at Wrigley Field.


View from my RF seat at the sea of Cubs fans from RF.


Jason Heyward, once Cardinal, once Brave..


In what would be a thirteen inning affair, and painful loss for the Pirates I headed over to get a better view from the first base box section, the Wrigley field ushers payed me no mind at all.  Before sitting however I hung out watching from the crosswalk and tunnel and to my surprise Jordy Mercer lifted a foul ball my way.  The ball just missed me on the fly and hit off a seat into the crosswalk where I got on it quickly for my second foul ball ever, 15th total game ball.


Close up of the Cuban Missile, with Juan Nicasio guarding the bullpen.


8/30, Tuesday

After the thirteen inning affair Monday, and another flurry of storms that came through it would be another non bp for either the Pirates or Cubs.


Nothing to do but take some more pics of Wrigley, here is a pic of the RF to CF wall.  Francisco Cervelli was doing some work with a medicine ball in the corner with Herby Andrade at the time..medicine ball in mid air.


Matt Joyce taking some cuts outside the doors to the indoor batting cages under RF.

The one and only baseball I obtained during this one was from a generous Jared Hughes.


I took a little abuse being alone and wearing Black and Gold, I gave it back though with friendly reminders of how long its been since the Cubbies won a WS.


View of Starling Marte from LF seats.


Cubs Nation, not many Pirates fans to be found.


Met a couple of ghost Cubs behind the LF seating, I hope they all get older and older without a WS..


Waveland View from inside, with some ball hawks hanging around waiting for homers.


View from LF of the sunset.


8/31, Wednesday

To explore and do some good sightseeing of Chicago I ran for about twelve miles and was able to take in most of what Chicago had to offer.

My run took me toward the Willis Tower where I took a break to view Chicago from 1353 feet and 103 floors up.


From above.


Trump Towers with a huge, two story, very clean and well run Mcdonald’s.


Random, building sized mural.


Chicago Bean at Millennium Park


I passed by Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.


And, the best full skyline view I could get of Chicago on the banks of Lake Michigan with the Buckingham fountain in foreground.


Finally there was batting practice at Wrigley Field, no Cubs, and two groups of Pirates.  Although this wasn’t much it seemed like a lot given nothing the past two days.

Pirates warming up early..  I was able to manage a toss up from Starling Marte prior to the start of Pirates bp.


Ball # 2 came via a John Jaso homer that landed in one of the baskets that hang above the RF wall.


Close up of the Scoreboard.


AJ Schugel tossed up Ball #3 near the RF foul pole and Pirates equipment manager Scott Bonnet tossed up Ball #4 which was a Cubs commemorative at the visiting Pirates dugout as he traditionally does for Pirates away games.

3 games, 7 baseballs







Pirates v Astros, PNC Park, 8/22/2016

Ill start right off with this, I would love to have the NL Central Astros back, because these ones are not the least bit friendly, and put on a crappy display of hitting.  Carlos Lee, and Hunter Pence used to lite the place up with homers to LF, and the often fun and non chalant wild bunch of the Astros bullpen tossed up a lot of baseballs.  Wilton Lopez got to know Erik J and I and would always connect with us at PNC or on the road.  These Astros, meh, at best…

On a Monday after a three game home losing streak to the fish, and kids returning to school the crowd was kind of big.

CF was opened for business though, the Pirates reporting they are giving it a try, still no RF entrance however until 530.  Makes a lot of sense since they keep offering more and more early entrance packages with no where to put the people but packed into the LF bleachers for an hour.. This did clear out LF enough though for me to come up with a homer catch off the bat of Eric Fryer, a running catch with a little lean through an open aisle.  Later on, a caught homer from an unidentified Astro in the second row.

Heberto Andrade was finally back and hooked up a baseball to make three on the day..




Pirates vs Marlins, PNC Park, 8/19-20-21/2016

Friday 8/19

Of all the MLB gear I have or have had for each team, there are no other team logo’s or color combinations that I like to wear more then the Miami Marlins.

marlins gear and baseballs

Marlins players, no matter the venue I have seen them play (PNC, Marlins Park, Arlington) have always been generous with toss ups.

Without Mike Stanton a lot of the excitement about the Marlins batting practice went out the window, and they were all around pretty bad for hit balls.

Both Friday and Saturday looked like this.

burgn on nice day

It was also cool to have an unexpected appearance from Dennis Mora from Miami, we got to catch up, have a good throwing session and have fun during batting practice.

nick and dennis

Friday I came away with two baseballs, a scrum during the Pirates shortened bp, and a toss up from Jose Urena on the RF wall.  Urena is extra friendly with toss ups as he threw several baseballs into the stands.

urena in rf

Saturday 8/20

This was set up to be a good day, the right ticket checker in place, good weather, full Pirates, and friendly Marlins.

Things started off good with a caught homer of Starling Marte, scrum of a David Freese homer that went into the concourse under the bleachers and a toss up from a Pirates staff throwing a ball to PNC Lauren that she botched.  3 baseballs to start things off was nice with the Marlins to come.

Over on the Clemente Wall I connected with Fernando Rodney.


Urena again, here he is a cool pic of him warming up prior to his W Sunday.

best urena in pen

And another Marlin who had a pullover on for Ball #6 on the day.  The corner spot on the Clemente Wall worked well.

Reeling in some fish.


On the way back over to LF I noticed Jose Fernandez who has hooked me up x 3 now between MIA and PGH tossing every ball he got into the stands, underhanded and deep.  Above the bullpen with the MIA gear I got Jose’s attention.  He impressively underhanded one right to me on the walkway behind the Pirates bullpen, Ball #7 of the day.

jose fernandez toss in cf

Closer pic back over in LF as he tossed up ball, after ball after ball.

fernandez two

Sunday 8/21

Juan Nicasio, after warming up with his pal Neftali Feliz tossed a ball that sailed over Dominik’s head in the front row which was an easy catch for Ball #1.

nicasio and feliz

Andrew Mccutchen saw me and my pretty girl Shianne for a between innings warm up ball toss up in CF.

shi shi

We had a great time watching a game prior to their first day of school for 2016.

Another hi-lite of the Marlins series was being able to see Ichiro post 3000 hits, one of the most incredibly disciplined and well prepared players there has been.

Dominik and I watched his throwing warmup, and stretching routine along with plenty others hoping for an autograph, I was just glad to see him in preparation.

ichiro throwin


ichiro stretch 2

And quickly trotting off the field after his warm up to many peoples demise.

ichiro running off field




And this baseball from Juan Nicasio lived a lot longer then most…..

beat up nicasio ball