Today I was hoping to get off to a good start on the riverwalk which lately has been hard to do due to the lack of action down there. There was a significant amount of action today, but I was unable to make any plays, so I was a little disappointed that I didnt get off to a good start considering the way both teams have hit the past two days and the total lack of toss up balls from the Dodgers.
Things would start off hot today, as I ran in I didnt find anything but noticed that Brandon Wood smoked a liner that landed on the edge of the grass, usually when balls hit near the edge of the grass they are out of reach but this one had some steam on it, I extended out over the wall and made the catch on the bounce for Ball#1.
Moments later in Woods same at bat he lifted a ball that landed on a bounce into the handicapped seats in the section below, Erik Jabs was after this one also but it took a nice bounce in my direction as I was on my way up the steps and I scooped it for Ball#2.
Moments after this I notices Ross Ohlendorf, probably the second most friendly Pirate with toss ups and he threw me Ball#3.
This was certainly a good start in the first three minutes of Pirates bp, most of my stats as well as all other PNC ballhawks has been coming when the visiting team is up, of course there is much less time for the Pirates, but they have done little to nothing for the fifteen uncrowded minutes we have seeing them.
Today was pretty nice, hopefully Wood and Pearce will stay in the last group and continue to hit like they did today.
Next would be back to back scrum balls which really had me working hard, I had ran hard from left center back toward the foul pole to chase down a towering Brandon Wood homer, no one was around the area, but it bounced to the upper bleachers so the chase continued with others closing in but I made it to it for Ball#4. I then ran down the steps to my original spot and noticed a Steve Pearce homer that bounced back instead of coming back down toward me, I hurdled two sets of bleachers, but Erik Jabs had came from the crosswalk and got to it before me, he ran by and tried to scoop it but likely due to the rush and both of us closing in it wasnt secure so I grabbed that for Ball#5.
Upper bleachers and area of second scrum here.
Whew, that was awesome, I was sweating and breathing hard with 5 balls at the end of the Pirates bp, now that was more like it, a bunch of homers and opportunities in that last group.
I then changed into Dodgers gear.
Things started off slow except that Rod Barajas was warming up pretty good, he hit alot toward center. One ball he hit I lost in the sun, I really hate when this happens, but if you have been to PNC on a sunny day you would know its treacherous. Anyway, I could use some improvement in the area of tracking a ball thats right in the sun.
Barajas gave me a chance to redeem myself, he hit a ball very similar to the Brandon Wood ball that hit the grass earlier for a catch extended over the wall, this one was a bit tougher, I really had to reach down over the wall for this one and made that catch of it for Ball#6.
Next I went over to the Clemente to try and snag an Andre Ethier homer on the fly. Things happened quick over there, just after running in an unidentified batter landed one that stayed in the seats, I was back to hurdling again, this time hurdling down, with Erik Jabs quickly approaching from below, I got there in the nick of time just before him and was able to scoop it up for Ball#7.
I then settled in about half way up the Clemente Wall and waited patiently for a shot from all pro Andre Ethier, things worked out great as he shot one right toward my position, and then I noticed it was falling short, I had to make the hr catch or it would likely bounce back to the field, and I wanted a clean catch not a scrum. I made a risky move as careful as I could, I jumped down into the next row and caught it underhanded as it was landing in the next row ahead of me after I had jumped down. Awesome to have secured this clean catch for Ball#8.
My next ball would be my 100th of the year and I was hoping that it would be another Ethier clean catch hr, that wasnt to be though. The 100th of the year was a clean catch of a hr but off the bat of Jay Gibbons for Ball#9. This one was caught in the front row of the Clemente Wall.
One more would give me a double digit game, but this wasnt to be today, Lauren called me wanting me to come home due to the fact that I had spent time at each game of this homestand, that was cool I was kinda baseballed out after all the action this homestand, and this Dodger series turned out to be pretty good, with one more tomorrow.
Here are todays baseballs.
I thought to myself when getting ready for this game about leaving the Dodgers gear at home, but then I thought well you never know, if I am in the right spot with the right player, Id rather have it and be able to make a better attempt at it then not.
After hearing things from Ted Lilly such as “Not a chance,” and most of all the other Dodgers falling deaf when people asked for toss ups that was why I considered leaving the gear at home.
Well I was glad I didnt and the Dodgers gear ended up paying off, because as usual the Pirates bp stunk, and the Dodgers bp stunk just as bad.
First ball of the day was from one of the most friendly Pirates in that of Ross Ohlendorf, he likes to go hard for fly balls at bp, and he chased one down close by and I waved my glove and he was glad to toss it up for Ball#1.
Thanks to Erik Jabs on teaching me some spanish I was able to ask for a ball in Spanish from Dioner Navarro, my first time ever doing this and it worked nicely, as he walked toward the ball I timed the request in Spanish nicely and I got a Dodger toss up for Ball#2.
I was able to make the Dodgers gear work a second time in minutes as I walked near a ball that was sitting by Jay Gibbons as he was taking some fly ball practice, he tossed up Ball#3.
Things died down as I went to right field to try and catch an Ethier bp hr, which I failed at for a second straight day.
I decided to go back to LF for the big right handed rookie Jerry Sands. It proved to work for Ball#4 and thats it, I wouldve thought that for a guy with his size he would have hit a couple hrs, the one I got was a ground rule.
That was it for the Dodgers bp.
During the game I was able to get a Mccutchen toss up for the second straight day which I ended up giving away to a little girl who had been bumped into by a teenager who was over eager for a later Mccutchen toss up.
Mccutchen should be looking good now for most friendliest player of the year award for the second straight year if us Pittsburgh ballhawks can keep getting toss ups from him, keep it up guys cause Cutch def deserves it for throwing up warm up ball after warm up ball so consistently.
Here are todays baseballs, one was given away.
Finally this week with a four game series with the Dodgers there was no rain in the forecast.
But word was that the Dodgers are an awful bp, and toss up team which proved to be true today, and there was just the right amount of assorted ballhawks to make today pretty difficult, I got a good workout as I had to run alot to amass 4 balls total on the day. The Dodgers hit very little homers in bp and were very stingy with the toss ups.
Ball#1 for me was a bp hr hit by Brandon Wood, my first ball ever from him as he hit a high hr onto the crosswalk near the foul pole. I got a good jump on it, and in the picture below you will see the rotunda which leads to the next level, well this ball bounced and went directly over the rotunda, took a big bounce, and hit the pole by the escalator, and as I ran with others quickly behind it bounced right into my glove on the deflection.
I then ran to foul territory to check for anything there which there wasnt, I then ran over to right field to play for any Ethier bp hrs. I came close on a few, really wanted to catch one off his bat, but I did get one from one of last years World Series heroes in that of Juan Uribe, he hit a nice one that arrived in the front row, I ran down, ranged over and made an easy catch of his bp hr for Ball#2 here.
Things would really slow down after this ball in LF, I had one opportunity at a ball and was able to make the play on it, a Dioner Navarro one hop into the bleachers, it hit a bleacher behing me and rolled down and I fielded it like a grounder for Ball#3.
That was it for bp, combine the Pirates players that we see hitting and the Dodgers and this is the result after bp, I stuck around to try for an Andrew Mccutchen toss up and was able to score Ball#4 I gave this ball to a little guy with a glove in the row behind where I made the catch.
That was that. Here are the baseballs with one given away.
The one thing that we have had going for us in Pittsburgh is that we have had Sunday bps on each Sunday so far, two of which were both teams hit. It looks as if as long as the game ends at a decent time that new manager and former hitting coach Clint Hurdle is ready to get to work on Sunday mornings which is good for me, cause Im ready to work too Clint so keep em swinging.
As I approached PNC park I ran into Joe Faraguna, who is a top notch ballhawk who was in PGH for the weekend. Joe and I saw that the cages were up and planned on meeting up later in the stands. Joe ended up getting a ball yesterday, and three in a minimum time, about half, of bp today. Joe and I were able to have a good conversation about baseball, the Steelers vs Ravens rivalry, and alot about ballhawking, oh, and some of his baseball and other adventures in NY. Hopefully well hang out again another day.
When we got into PNC, Erik and I headed over to CF on the riverwalk being that we had a half hour until we could get into the stands. There were all righties up, but if you could get a players attention in right center field you could likely get a toss up to the riverwalk, which worked well. First I got Chris Snyder’s attention and he tossed me up Ball#1. Here he is.
We then had some company from some real annoying people. Screaming over and over throw another one, absolutely no ability to catch, talking loudly, getting in the way, screaming more at the players for balls, very classless and very eager to get balls, ruining what was a great chance for toss ups from right center. I was involved in one scrum for a ball in which I had to cut the one guy off but this made me unable to play the bounce right and that one was a goner, later though they would bobble like their fourth ball which went rolling away, upon which I chased it down for Ball#2.
Here is the group of Yinzers and where they let the ball roll away to later be taken into my possession.
Next in the same place I was able to get rookie Daniel Moskos attention for him to toss up Ball#3. Here he is in the pic below.
That would be it for the riverwalk, I went to the left field bleachers, in the first group of Astros hitters I was able to snag one ball which I caught on the fly full extension style as I was climbing the bleachers, for Ball#4 which I had to finish off with a hurdle of the bleacher I had been climbing. I dont know who hit this ball, but this was the area.
Next was a ball smoked by Hunter Pence near the bullpens in CF, I tracked its flight well, but ran out of space and it flew into the visitors bullpen and directly into one of the storage boxes below, amazingly it nearly stayed in the box, but rolled out just barely. A coach by the name of Suba came over to get it, I asked nicely if he minded me having the Hunter Pence bp hr which he didnt and tossed me up Ball#5. Here is a pic of where I ran out of space and where the ball landed in the storage box.
Lastly, Hunter Pence, who is one of my favorite bp hitter would launch another skyblast onto the crosswalk in LF, I tracked its flight accurately, but had to take my eyes off it for a second to weave through some people, who had no idea it was touching down in about, one, two seconds, and for a second when I took my eyes off it I thought I may have lost it, but when I looked back up, wham, into my glove, this one felt pretty good for Ball#6.
Here is a pic showing the shot of a hr that this one was on the crosswalk, I love catching really deep bombs.
That was it for the day.
Here are the baseballs, one was given away. Dominik wanted to be in the picture.
Today the rain was a threat from the moment I woke up until about 345pm when it finally cleared out completely. When I left for the game it was clear as can be with bright skies, but right on cue, and prompt to ruin bp as usual the purple clouds settled in all around PNC. This would be now the 5th rained out bp so far this season, I looked back in my stats recently and noticed that there were 8 total last season.
Things cleared up with about 45 mins til gate time and the cages were still up, and when we got in, they were gone. I questioned a friend who has alot of media access to the players, coaches, and other personnel who is it that makes the final call and he said to me it was the head groundscrew, well, I think that ours sucks, it was bright as can be after the brief rain fell and they had waved the white flag on bp with the quickness. This is nothing new with the Pirates groundscrew, so if your contemplating coming to PNC and want to ballhawk, you had better be sure that theres no chance of rain.
Anyway, I was determined to play hard even though Saturday is the 2 and 1/2 hour entry which gets us the whole bp and the total output would take a big hit.
When the gates opened I planned on just going straight for foul territory which payed off as I was able to find Ball#1 in this section.
There were no other balls to be found at the time. I then went over to the Pirates bullpen as Chris Resop was finishing up a bullpen session, when they finished up they walked in my direction, I asked Euclided Rojas, the Pirates bullpen coach for the ball he had and he threw it up for Ball#2 and then I asked Chris Resop for his ball and he tossed it up for Ball#3.
Here are the two of them as they left the pen.
It was then over to the right field foul territory as the Astros began their warmups, and let me tell you, these guys were unorganized, and just having a good old time messing around and being silly, (Valdez, Del Rosario, Rodriguez, Figueroa, Wandy,Lopez, their whole bullpen is Hispanic and mostly from the Dominican Republic) and they were like a bunch of little kids, the bullpen coach told us, watch out cause these guys cant throw or catch. I later on looked up their era’s and they were all pretty high.
When we arrived one of them threw Del Rosarios glove into the stands, Erik Jabs went over and picked it up, but they asked him for his glove instead and they later inspected it and had a conversation about it. I also asked Del Rosario for a chew, even though I havent chewed for a year, I wouldve done a dip from a MLB player. Anyway here they are in their have fun warm up and stretch, and here is Erik with Lopez.
Inspecting the glove.
When they finally finished throwing, with no overthrows, I was able to get a toss up from Nelson Figueroa as they left the field for Ball#4, I also decided to have this ball signed by him.
And Mark Melancon, after his first career save the previous night.
And Del Rosario.
And the final product, I dont actively seek autographs but get them when I can, and keep all autographed balls in a case.
I then went over to CF just to browse around the ivy for any unnoticed balls, and what do you know, I found a ball tucked under a seat in the corner, I dont know how it got passed by as I think other ballhawks were around the area but it did, and I picked it up for Ball#5 on the day, here it is before I got it.
That was it for the day, so things turned out pretty good despite the rained out Sat bp. There was a brief fire at the popcorn stand which created a crap load of smoke, this guy here was coughing his butt off.
And then there was light, after 4 rained out games in April which took a nice chunk out of my stats, and back to back rain outs before the Pirates went onto their road series. I was shocked that it had FINALLY stopped raining, it rained for like the past three weeks, day after day after day.
Todays skyline looked good.
Shortly after I got into the bleachers I saw a new face in the outfield which was that of our current ace, and NL pitcher with the most wins at this point of the season Kevin Corriea, most of the pitchers in LF have declined tossing up any baseballs, but Correia surely hadnt recognized me yet, and he tossed me up Ball#1.
He is the first from the left.
I was then able to get Joel Hanrahans autograph on this ball which will go to my autographed ball collection.
Things would die down significantly with the rest of the Pirates bp, as expected, these weak bats are making it really difficult to get a good start each day, seems as though we start off in the hole on a daily basis with the lack of action.
And things picked up nicely with the likes of Carlos Lee, and Hunter Pence.
I decided quickly that both of these guys would be launching balls onto the Left field crosswalk which was indeed what happened. Carlos Lee cracked a ball to the crosswalk first which was an easy catch for Ball#2, the usher was in my way as it was coming in and I told him to “watch out I got it” and he gladly stepped out of the way as it screamed in here.
With Lee and Pence rocketing baseballs all around the area I was sprinting back and forth like mad for a good ten minutes and at one point was out of breath, but managed to stay focused. Ball#3 also hit by Carlos Lee was a towering hr that landed and took a nice bounce for me to chase down near the bullpens. Ball#4 was a Carlos Lee caught hr that I had to range about ten yards to my left for, followed by a hr by Pence which was also caught for Ball#5 this one required a good reach as I arrived a little late. This one I gave to a kid with Astros gear and a glove who said he really liked Pence and would pay me for the ball. All three balls were snagged by playing deep in this area below.
That was it for batting practice, one of the hilites of this game was that I got to spend it with my fiancee Lauren who hadnt been to a game yet this year, it was hard not to play home runs all game but worth it to sit and watch the game with her.
Here is a pic of me with the Correia toss up signed by Joel Hanrahan and one of the Carlos Lee hrs.
And of course it ended up raining today, it was really chilly and wet, and they continued playing through the rain for once. This actually ended up helping me out as I was able to get a toss up from Andrew Mccutchen when everyone else was seeking shelter from the rain for Ball#6 I paid for it on this one as I had to wait for him to warm up with it in the pouring rain.
Todays baseballs, one was given away.
With the Pirates out of town for a while, and the assault of four rained out bp’s on my stats I decided last minute to make a trip to Cleveland. The game was to begin at 6:05 tonite, which meant that I would only get the Tigers bp. There was a good thing to this also, and mainly the reason I came. The huge RF seats would likely be crowded with many easter eggs, as I would ensure being the first one on line.
Well, when I ran in there and searched everywhere there were none to be found until I got to the front row where I found Ball#1/2 lying right next to each other. I had a great start in so I kept searching vigorously all over the seats, nothing else was to be found.
A whole Indians session and that was it?
And then I saw a fan photo worker roaming around making his way to the top of the seats. That was my thought on the missing baseballs.
With alot of Tigers righties I moved to LF. The action was limited and the crowd was growing quickly. The Idians were going for 12 straight home wins and it was firework night.
I did manage to make a sweet jumping catch with my back against the wall on the LF crosswalk as some guy was trying to reach down from above and steal it from me for Ball#3.
I then began playing Cabrera deep in CF but he would shoot one about two rows behind me, I had no other opportunities and when I checked for a Cabrera hr down in Heritage park that was hit by Cabrera it was gone.
So I gambled today on the hope for at least 5 easter eggs, and the payoff wasnt good, but I was glad to make my first trip to Cleveland and happy to get my April total up to 65.