4/10/09 @ Miller Park (Home Opener)

I was back home on familiar turf.  I had arrived home from Toronto in the wee hours of the morning on Friday and grabbed a couple hours sleep.  It was now time to prepare for our home opener.  An obnoxious, beer spilling, cussing, Scrub fan riddled, sewer hole sellout we call Opening Day.  It’s always this way every year, but, this time we were opening our home schedule against the hated rivals to the south.  It pains me to even mention them by proper name.  Many people come just for the party.  That’s fine-just don’t get in my way.

By the time I carved my way through the traffic jam and grabbed a parking spot, I was running a bit behind.  The gates to the stadium were to open at 105 pm for the 305pm game.  I usually never pay for parking, but this was opening day…I had to park in the lot. 

I sprinted all the way from the back general parking lot to the stadium (approx. 1 mile).  After I had my ticket scanned, I bolted to the bleacher area.

Here’s what the crowd looked like filing in…
4_11_09 Cubs vs Brewers 001.jpgIn 2008. the Brewers had something like 47 sellouts with an average attendance of around 38,000.  When the Cubs come to town, things get messier. 

The Brewers were not even hitting (they must all be accomplished hitters in no need of practice).  The Cubs were out stretching.  Okay.  I ran all the way from the back lot to watch 20 minutes of muscle stretching.  Great.  The exercise was good.

The Cubs finally made themselves worthwhile as the bats began to swing.  After unsuccessfully trying to get a toss-up ball during pitcher’s warm-ups, I headed over to right field.  Fukudome, Lee and Bradley were hitting.

I made it over to the loge bleachers (200 level) in right field just in time for KOSUKE FUKUDOME to jack one in my direction.  I ran to my left through an entire section.  I was in the 3rd row.  I never took my eye off the ball.  I made the catch on the fly leaning over one of the aisle railings for BASEBALL #1.  My first catch on the fly this season.  A guy standing in the front row looked at me and said, “okay, okay.”  As if to say, ‘Boy, if I want a baseball, I’ll have to step up my game with him around.’ 

Damn right.

I had spent three days in Toronto and snagged 25 baseballs and not one of them had been on the fly.  I couldn’t recall the last time I had gone anywhere without snagging at least one on the fly during a series.  It was nice to get that one out of the way.  As much as I despise Miller Park’s ballhawking situation, it was kinda nice to be back home.

The next group to hit was Ramirez, Soriano, Theriot and Fontenot.

I re-positioned myself down to the field level (100 level) for Soriano.  If you’re ever snagging at a Cubs game, position yourself in deep centerfield off-set to the right field side.  Soriano takes BP balls in that direction.  I was in perfect position to snag an ALFONSO SORIANO BP ball on the fly for BASEBALL #2.  I leaned out over the railing and made a clean catch with not much competition.
Here’s a look at the 15 foot drop over the railing where I snagged the Soriano BP homer…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 007.jpg                                             TRACK…WALL…GONE!!
                                           It pays to do your homework.

The last Cubs group took their turns in the cage.  I figured lower level bleachers would be the place to be since the group was a bit on the light-side, hitting-wise.

Cubs catcher KOYIE HILL was  pulling everything down the right field line so, I inched toward the foul pole.  He finally hit one that had some air under it.  I ran to my left and made the grab on the fly for BASEBALL #3

After BP ended, a group of guys approached me and asked me if I was the guy who made “the catch” at that Spring Training game in Arizona.  I told them that I was.  Since they had seen me snag 3 on the fly at various spots in the stadium that day, they asked me how I know where to be.  I told them I do my homework.

It then occurred to me that I had snagged a baseball on the fly in 3 of the 4 bleacher sections of Miller Park.  I couldn’t recall the last time I had accomplished that.

Some pics…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 006.jpg    My view of the field.  Nothing in front of me except green grass and game home run balls.

4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 008.jpg

                            My view to the right looking into centerfield.

4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 009.jpg                     My view to the left looking into right field and the visitor’s bullpen.

The CITGO gas pump located in right-center field…
If you’re ever at a Brewers game, stop by the gas pump and say “hello.”  Chances are good that I will be at the game.  Just look for the yellow shirt.

Here’s a picture of a great Brewers fan…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 012.jpgI call him “Big Joe.”  Joe has season seats directly next to mine.  Joe’s a dedicated fan and he also serves as my personal security :)

In the 3rd inning, Brewers RF Corey Hart jacked one that was coming to my section.  I ran over to my left, camped underneath it…OH NO!!  I had run out of room.  My back was against this gigantic stupid railing that separates my seats from a big dumb gimmicky section behind us that the Brewers call “Toyota Tundra Territory.”  It’s just another promotional area of the stadium that puts us one step closer to looking like a minor league stadium. 
Just my opinion.

Here’s a picture of where the Corey Hart game home run landed…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 013.jpg                  X marks the spot.  It went about 10-15 feet over my head…so close!

In the 9th inning, the Brewers were down 3-2.  So, I snuck down to the Cubs dugout for a last out ball or an ump ball.  Whaddya know, the Brewers scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to win the game.  The crowd went nuts, the Cubs players left dejected and the umps left the field not even able to hear themselves.  They certainly couldn’t hear me yelling for their attention. 

There would be no more baseballs retrieved by this ballhawk on this day.

Our walk to the parking lots…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 021.jpgMiller Park is not a good stadium for ballhawking…trust me.  With it’s crammed layout, high attendance and gimmicky promotional areas, moving around to snag baseballs is very difficult.

My lovely wife, April, freezing her rear end off walking back to my truck…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 030.jpg                                      As we walk in the shadows of Miller Park.

Check out this tailgating destruction…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 026.jpg                                       Imagine having to clean that mess up!?!

Total baseballs for Brewers Opening Day 2009…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY.jpg Three (3)…of course, I would have liked more, but, at least they were all snagged on the fly.



2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 3 total balls 4/10/09

3 balls hit (all snagged on fly)

ATTENDANCE:  45,455

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs

___________________

28 baseballs (4 games)
7.0 average per game




14 Comments

Yankee Stadium is also tough. You have to choose between the first 10 rows of seats where you can ask for balls or the bleachers which have a lot more room for the extra power hitters with no railings. At Yankees Stadium, the first ten rows have a bullpen limiting home run catching to about the first 10 rows of 5 sections.
http://riveravenue.mlblogs.com
-Alex

Yeesh, I’m watching the Cubs-Brewers game right now on ESPN, looking for you out in right-center. Looks packed. I’m started to reconsider being there in a couple weeks…but no, I’ll make it for at least one game. Maybe two. Congrats on catching THREE balls on the fly. Very impressive. Nice to see some pics of the place where I’ll be…

My Reds will be there tomorrow. Should be a good pitching match up. Hopefully warmer than this weekend. Good luck!
http://lpg1.mlblogs.com/

D’OH!!!

Just saw you on ESPN, going for that Corey Hart homer. You were all over it if it didn’t bounce away. Looked like you got a late break on the ball, like it took you a moment to realize that the ball was going over your head. Perfectly understandable considering it was a RIGHTY who hit it. That was a bomb. Who was the other impostor wearing a yellow shirt? Whoever it was, they should’ve been ejected. I don’t care if it’s the Brewers’ color. That’s your section, man.

Happy home opener!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Hey Happy….

That was a SUPERB entry. I loved your pics. I really want to visit Miller Park sometime soon, but I’m said to hear you say it isn’t good for snagging. Way to go catching them in multiple sections on the fly though. It feels good feeling the pop in the glove doesn’t it? Sorry about the Corey Hart homer. I have a feeling you’ll be catching one very soon. Not sure if you saw it on Zack’s blog, but I caught Henry Blanco’s 1st homer on Saturday night. Check it out:

http://albums.signonsandiego.com/Sports/Padres/2009/04-11-Giants/tn/Padres_Giants12.jpg.html

That’s two already. Matt Kemp’s toss up on opening day and now this one. I’ve been really lucky the first week. We have the Pirates coming in to SD in a couple of weeks. Not much power there, but the place should be dead. Looking forward to your next entry.

Leigh

ALEX…
Thanks for the info!

ZACK…
Yeah, this place averaged almost 40,000 last season. It’s a challenge, for sure. That Corey Hart homer is still nagging at me. DAMMIT!!!

LPG1…
I always look forward to the Reds coming to town. Even without Dunn.

JULIA…
Thanks!

LEIGH…
Congrats on the great start to the 2009 season, keep it going!!

“Happy”

Nice work brotha, way too packed for any good snaggin here at Coors, Rockies need to lose a couple so the BP crowds will thin out…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

Glad you were able to make it to Opening Day. That must have been special, and it sounds like it was. I’m going to ask a teacher at my school if he has heard of you, he’s a huge Brewers fan. I don’t doubt that he has.
Elizabeth
http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

Great game! Great snags! At least no one through stupid things on the field this time at your game. Its nice to be indoors this early into April. Great seeing you in T.O., I had a lot of fun.
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/

Very nice, at least you were able to get something. We need a rally this week. Reds aren’t as easy to beat as in years past. This weekend made me dislike the scrubs just a little more.

http://nwest33.mlblogs.com/

Nick,

Glad to see things are going well so far. I got 3 at the only game I have been to during the regular season. However I did get 6 in two WBC games and just missed Choos HR in the Championship game by less than a foot underneath the LF pavilion at Dodger Stadium.

Are you going to make it out to LA this summer? Let me know!

Leigh – You have 2 game HRs this season??

Damn…… am I ever going to get game HR #100???

John
Major League Ballhawk
http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com

Happy….

They don’t sell the Happy Youngster t shirt in 3X. What the heck? I guess I need to lose weight. I’ll just lose the weight and get into a 2X. That’s a goal!! Nice entry today. Looking forward to the next one.

Major League Ballhawk (John)….

YES!! I actually have TWO game HR’s so far. On opening day Jody Gerut threw me Matt Kemp’s HR that bounced back on the field. Last Saturday I caught Henry Blanco’s first HR of the season on the fly. I had a great first week. I should be up to Anaheim soon. I’ll email you before I come.

Leigh

D…
big crowds or not, hang in there and step it up.

ELIZABETH…
If he hasn’t heard of me, he’s not a diehard fan. ;)

JEREMY…
Thanks. Yeah, when fans do stupid things like that, it ruins it for guys like you and I. Players become more guarded and it takes away a little of the fun. The pleasure of meeting you was all mine, sir.

NWEST33…
My hatred for the Cubs cannot be described appropriately by mere typed words.

JOHN…
I don’t think I’ll make it out west this year. Maybe in ’10. Good luck on snagging #100-I’ll be waiting to hear the good news.

LEIGH…
Get the 2XL Happy shirt!! With a little help, the players will soon start to recognize the logo. Congrats on a great start to the ’09 season of ballhawking. Glad to see you joined in on the fun.

“Happy”

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