Pirates v Phillies, PNC Park, 5/19-20-21/2017

Philadelphia was a pleasant surprise from the right side of the plate, they were cranking a lot of homers consecutively.  It reminded me of the 2008 to 2010 Phillies squad who put the Pittsburgh ball hawks to work with a lot of action.

To start I scrummed a ball hit by an unidentified Pirate for Ball #1.

Next was a toss with a little heat on it from Heberto Andrade, Ball #2.

I decided to play Josh Bell deep on the river walk, behind the CF seating, for the first time I was able to catch a homer on the fly from the young phenom, Ball #3.

The caught homers kept coming as Pirates starter Chad Kuhl launched a towering homer into the bleachers, I had to get up on a bleacher and reach high for it as I was in competition with Mike Clipp who is pretty tall.  Ball #4.

Ball #5 was a scrum and Ball #6 was a caught homer from an unidentified Philly.

5/20, Saturday

The dreaded day game gate times, where you have to wait another half hour to enter the seating areas after being allowed into the main gate.

It was Bob Walk bobble head day, and it seemed there were more Philly fans around.  There would be very little space to move around, I did have some good chances though that fell short from lack of space in the crowds.  I came away with a scrum on the LF crosswalk to avoid a shutout.  Ball #1.

5/21, Sunday

With Saturday being a day game I was feeling pretty confident that the Pirates, and Phillies would have batting practice.  Of course there would be the extra half hour wait, but things were hopeful.

Until 11:15 passed and there were no Pirates in sight.

Neither the Pirates or Phillies took batting practice.  I was able to get a toss up from an unidentified Philly closer after his warm up on the first base side.  Ball #1.

Year-105

Career-2980

20 balls away from 3000 baseballs

 

 

Pirates v Nationals, PNC Park, 5/16-17/2017

5/16 Tuesday

Both the Pirates and Nationals were hitting a lot of homers during batting practice.  Early on I got Ball #1-2-3 via scrum from Pirates batters.  The action was fast paced so I didn’t identify who hit these.

Ball #4 was a toss up from Heberto Andrade.

This was followed by two more hit ball scrums in LF for Ball #5-6.

I decided to play Bryce Harper deep, and was able to catch a long homer from him at the at the location of the pic taken below, Ball #7.

harper hr

And to end things Matt Albers did the long toss to me in the back row while everyone in front pleaded for the ball. Ball #8.

5/17 Wednesday

Juan Nicasio toss up Ball #1.

Jordy Mercer hr scrum Ball #2.

Heberto Andrade toss up Ball #3.

Jordy Mercer hr scrum Ball #4.

Caught hr from unidentified Nationals player, Ball #5.

 

Dodgers v Pirates, Dodger Stadium, 5/8-9-10/2017

Monday 5/8

Welcome to Los Angeles, the city of angels.

At Dodger stadium there is a nice welcome sign outside of the parking lot and left field gate.

Its no easy task getting into Dodger Stadium and they are nothing but welcoming there in terms of staff and security.  I was turned away rudely by security at the main gate and told no one other then employees can enter anywhere until 4:10.  I tried to politely ask then how the season ticket holders get in at 4:10 and was ignored.

Thankfully Devin T was able to put me in on how to get in, good luck to you if you plan on going there, hit me up if you need some information.

Anyway, yea.  Welcome..

welcome to dodger stadium

First pic I took was of the Jackie Robinson 7oth Anniversary of Dodger Debut.

jackie

Up a steep, and ever climbing staircase, two to be exact, I came upon the only, and new Jackie Robinson Statue at Dodger Stadium.  This is my favorite angle, and has a quote I try to live by to the best of my ability in daily life and more so my work life as a social worker.

jackie quote

Devin T. was able to help me get in season ticket time, which at Dodger Stadium is 4:10.  This was my 19th stadium I have been to and the Dodger stadium regulars were cool and welcoming more then most.

From Left

Myself, Devin T, Steve, Lou B.

dodger ballhawks

LA Blue Sign

la sign 2

After entering the stadium I headed over to take watch the Dodgers stretching and throwing, to my front in the pic below is Kenley Jansen warming up with Sergio Romo.

romo and jansen

Ball #1 for me was tossed up in and around left center from the Dodger player in the pic below, I was uninterested in figuring out who he was.

toss up ball 1

That was all for my time in LF which was a bit disappointing, I had seats for the RF pavilion which are all you can eat seats that allow you access at 5:10.  Being first in line gives you the opportunity for found baseballs.  This first game would be the best for me in that category, as I found Baseballs #2-#8.  Quite a boost.  Each of the next two games would turn out one found baseball each, so this was a hit.  It was the second time I had found 7 baseballs, the other being at Progressive Field prior to reconstruction.

After grabbing a quick hot dog between Pirates batting practice groups I came back in to a well timed homer in my vicinity for an easy grab, Ball #9.

Ball #10 was a scrum for a homer that landed at the base of the steps, behind the RF wall in front of the concessions underneath the RF pavilion.  The stairwells are nice to play, if you can position yourself there before another for front row homers and balls that land underneath.

Ball #11 for me on this one was a toss up from Tyler Glasnow.

pirates in of

All You Can Eat with a Tecate

all you can eat

Tuesday 5/9

I like to run through the cities I visit for sightseeing.  Two days ago I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon, posting a personal best at 3:24:14 of the four marathons I have run.

marathon

Despite posting a personal best, what makes me know even more that I have grown in the sport of running is that on Tuesday morning I was a bit sore but able to post 6 plus miles around LA with minimal soreness.

A pic from the home I stayed at through air bnb.  A nice quiet neighborhood, and comfortable place.

day la from apt

Then off on an adventure..

center and gold bldg

Fernando Valenzuela, Kirk Gibson, and an old Charger.

LA Culture

la graffiti and charger

I ran my way to the Staples Center, home of the Lakers, Clippers, Sparks and Kings.

staples center

Magic Johnson statue

magic 1

Kareem Abdul Jabbar

abdul jabbar

Shaq Diesel, not your traditional ground up statue.

shaq below 2

I had a good coffee at the coffee shop and headed off to Dodger Stadium looking for some luck.  777

777

Dodger Stadium allows fans the opportunity to be up close and personal with the players.

dodgers close up

Things got going for me with a scrum of a foul ball hit by Clayton Kershaw taking early pitchers bp, Ball #1.

Ball #2 for me was a long homer hit by an unidentified Dodger.  The ball cleared the long crosswalk that separates the bottom from the top bleachers of the pavilion, an easy scrum.  I wasn’t able to catch a homer up on the crosswalk which separates the bleachers, but it is nice and spacious, great to play for heavy hitters.

long crosswalk

The bleachers are wooden, with several years or paint coats on them, the rows are pretty narrow also, resulting in a lot of scuffs, cuts, or brush burns.  If I was a regular there I would wear some sort of high stockings to prevent this from happening all the time.

scrapes

Turns out the coffee shop in front of the 777 address was a good luck thing maybe.  I have always kept a collection of toss up balls from pitchers who have thrown a no-hitter or of course perfect game.  Up until today this collection included, in no perfect order:

Francisco Liriano, Edwin Jackson, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Verlander, Homer Bailey, Derek Lowe, AJ Burnett, Felix Hernandez, Josh Beckett…

And as of this day, I was able to get the often elusive Clayton Kershaw, who responded to a polite request for his warm  up ball, Ball #3.

claw 2

Over in RF I was only able to find one baseball, Ball #4, a big drop off from Monday with found baseballs.  There was a giant bee’s nest hanging in the pavilion which a bunch of staff, and exterminators were over there for.

Ball #5 was a scrum for a baseball that landed underneath the pavilion ricocheting around, an easy grab with minimal people around.

Ball#6 was a caught homer off the bat of Andrew Mccutchen in RF pavilion.

Pirate Gear

in gear
And some aesthetically pleasing sites around Dodger Stadium.

Behind RF pavilion

la dodgers behind left

Blue Heaven

blue heaven

And one from way up high behind home plate.

up high dodger view

Wednesday 5/10

Things began for me with a smooth catch of either Joc Pederson or Cody Bellinger going down the stairwell closest to CF, Ball #1.

steps catch

Ball #2 was an odd one, someone was just camped out in the RF pavilion seats collecting each ball that landed.  This had me incensed as I was hoping to collect some baseballs over there when it opened.  I decided to wave my arms at him and ask him to throw one over, and surprisingly made it to me on the fly.  Others caught on and he continued to toss baseballs over to the regulars in the LF pavilion.  This also finally got security’s attention that he was in there and he was gone soon after.

While hanging toward CF I took a pic of the incredible speaker system that Dodger Stadium has.

boomin system

Ball #3 was a catch of a ricochet against my thigh that left a bit of a mark, and Ball #4 was the only found ball in the RF pavilion. Ball #5 was a recovery scrum of a baseball I missed underhanded on the move to my right.

Gerrit Cole promptly fired a ball at me over on the RF line after warming up, Ball #6.

gerrit cole toss

And for Ball #7 I connected with equipment manager Scott Bonnet. That was it.

Series-24 baseballs

Year-84

Career-2959

la balls

 

 

 

Pirates v Brewers, PNC Park, 5/5/2017

It was a rainy week leading up to this Friday game, the forecast for this one was rain throughout the day, in the morning it was pouring and it continued into the afternoon.  Things looked really bleak to start the month but the skies did clear in time for a full batting practice to occur.

To begin the day I ran up to the top bleachers for a long Andrew Mccutchen homer that settled nicely in the bleachers, Ball #1.

Heberto Andrade has remained consistent with his timing entering left field and the toss ups daily, he got me for Ball #2.

I went over to RF to play Josh Bell, at the wall I was finally able to get a toss up from fire balling set up man Felipe Rivero who has been tough to get a toss up from.  Ball #3.

rvero

I missed on an opportunity to catch a Josh Bell homer on the fly on the river walk and went back over to left field for the last Pirates group and the Brewers.

Things went pretty well from this point on, during the last Pirates group I caught a homer by the first African born MLB player, Gift Ngoepe, Ball #4.

On the LF crosswalk I caught a homer by an unidentified Pirate, Ball #5, followed by a scrum of a homer back in the lower bleachers, Ball #6.

The Brewers don’t led the NL in homers for no reason, that was apparent as the Brewers were cranking out several homers.  It was nice to see that the Brewers bp pretty good again.

I caught two homers from unidentified Brewers players in the left field bleachers, then went over to the CF seats and was able to catch two homers from Eric Thames, Balls #7-10.  Second double digit game of the year.

Next up for me will be the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon, my goal is to beat my personal best marathon time of 3:33:39.

26.2

Day-10

Year-60

Career-2935

Next up after the marathon will be three games at Dodger Stadium, May 8/9/10.

 

Pirates v Cubs, PNC Park, 4/24-26/2017

I was pretty excited for the Cubs batting practice, and a decent weather forecast for the three game set.  Over the last few years with Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber, Heyward, etc the Cubs bp has been an exiciting one with lots of caught home run opportunities.

4/24

It was clear throughout the day but rain threatened at the last minute, it was a slow and lite drizzly that the grounds crew didn’t act upon with the tarp.

I got on the board with a toss up from Jameson Taillon in LF for my good friend Lauren, Ball #1.

Heberto Andrade hooked me up with a toss up for Ball #2.

Ball #3 for the day was rare, a caught homer off the bat of Pirates back up catcher Chris Stewart.

On the crosswalk out side of the CF seating is where I made a catch on a homer by Anthony Rizzo, Ball #4, in the CF seats I made another catch of a homer by an unidentified Cubs player, Ball #5.

4/25

The Tuesday game was a last minute arrival of rain which rained out the batting practice.

4/26

Wednesday was clear and sunny.

Between Monday and Wednesday this is where I did a good deal of work on caught homers, 4 out of the ten balls in the two games v Cubs were caught out here.

cubs riverwalk

With a rain out sandwiched in the middle of this bp and Monday’s, it was nice without any chance of rain Wednesday which began for me with a caught homer from an unidentified Pirate, Ball #1.

Baseballs #2, #3, and #4 were all caught on the fly on the river walk, one from Rizzo, two from Heyward.

Ball #5 was a catch of a tipped homer in the second row back in LF.

Day-5

Year-50

Career-2925

1 given away of 10 in last two games..

ballsfrom cubs series

Pirates v Yankees, PNC Park, 4/21-22-23/2017

The Yankees were in town for the first time in 9 years, and 9 years ago I missed that series due to Annual Training for the PA Army National Guard.

PNC Park isn’t built for all the Yankees fans that show up though, so times were pretty tough for both hit and thrown balls.  The high point for me was watching the trajectory and high points of Aaron Judge’s mammoth home runs.

4/21/2017

The early portion of this one turned out to be the best part of the series for me as I was able to scrum Ball #1, #2, #3.  After this I finally connected with Herby Andrade for the first time this year, Ball #4.

I got another hit ball to end things during the Yankees portion of bp in a tough crowd, a ground rule catch, Ball #5.

With Starling Marte suspended for PED use it was back to the Andrew Mccutchen between inning, warm up ball toss up routine.

Andrew stuck to his usual pattern and during the 5th I got his toss up for Ball #6.

Its your spot Cutch.

cutch in cf

Day-6

Year-37

Career-2912

4/22/2017

This was a day game without batting practice by the Pirates and a line of fans, mostly Yankees fans, that stretched a long ways onto the Roberto Clemente bridge.

I had a few missed early opportunities, and the crowd was growing rapidly in the CF bleachers, it didn’t take me too long to realize that my chances were better in the upper bleachers with Aaron Judge and Chris Carter still to take their cuts.

I noticed at the previous bp that Aaron Judge tended toward CF and he launched a good bit way out of PNC in that direction, so I found a nice spot at the very end corner of the LF upper bleachers behind the North Side Notch.

With a little luck, time and spacing I was able to come through with one of Judge’s enormous homers right where I decided to play him, Ball #1.  During the game he crushed a homer to the right of where I caught the bp hr that was 457 feet.  I’m guessing the bp homer I caught was 457 or more as well as it was more toward CF and had less of a high trajectory.

judge hr

During the game I was able to come away with a second consecutive 5th inning toss up from Andrew Mccutchen, Ball #2.

Day-2

Year-39

Career-2914

4/23

Day game after day game, thought there would be bp, there wasn’t.

Got a toss up from Euclides Rojas on the LF crosswalk to avoid a shutout, Ball #1.

It was cool to see the Yankees, and overall a fun series.

Day-1

Year-40

Career-2915

yanks gear

 

 

Indians v White Sox, PNC Park, 4/13/2017

With two rain outs already on the ledger, I definitely wanted to get up to Cleveland on a day off to get things going with road games.

I headed up to Cleveland with Erik Jabs and Ted Lebon.  It was one of those cold and breezy days off the shores of Lake Erie.

There wasn’t much to see from the Indians in terms of hit balls but I was able to come away with a toss up from Carlos Carrasco, Ball #1, before the Indians wrapped up their bp.  This was a clean ARZ 2017 Spring Training Commemorative.

That was all during the Indians bp.

During the entire White Sox bp hit balls were minimal, I did come away with a ground rule catch and a scrum for a ball that landed in Heritage Park, Ball #2, #3.

After this I ran over to the visitors dugout to try for a White Sox toss up, this wouldn’t happen but I did find a ball wedged between the seats for Ball #4 on the day.

Always good to go to Cleveland.

white sox at cle

Day-4

Year-31

Career-2906