4/12/09 @ Miller Park

This game was to be televised on ESPN as the Sunday night game of the week.

I hurried to the ballpark for Batting Practice.  Before I entered the stadium, I left my extra ticket at the will call window for a fellow Milwaukee ballhawk named Mike.  I affectionately refer to him as “Big Mike.” 

“Big Mike” has been ballhawking the Milwaukee scene since 1987-the year he snagged his first career in-game home run baseball.  Mike’s not as nimble as he once was, but, I believe he has 26 career game home runs snagged.  Not too shabby.

Here was my line entering the stadium…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 001.jpgThis gate is somewhat of an unknown.  A well kept secret, if you will.  It’s located on the  back-side of the stadium.  It’s called the Party Patio.  It’s an actual ticketed entrance all season long.  If you’re in a hurry to get in like I am, use this entrance and save yourself some valuable BP time.

I got BP off with a bang by using the glove trick in the visitor’s bullpen for BASEBALL #1.

The Cubs first group of hitters weren’t doing much and I was getting antsy in the pantsy.  The 2nd group took their cuts including Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano.  Based on past experience, I knew exactly where Soriano would hit them.  Boy, was I right.

I established my spot and waited…it only took 1 minute before ALFONSO SORIANO jacked one that I snagged on the bounce for BASEBALL #2
Rarely, do players jack back-to-back home runs in BP to the same spot.  But, it happened this day.  As I was running up to claim #2, BASEBALL #3 landed 15 feet from me.  I think I was a little off my game but it may have been Soriano just being a stud.  I grabbed that one on the bounce, too.
Five minutes later, ALFONSO SORIANO was at it again.  Another swing of the bat and the ball was coming.  I camped underneath it and caught it on the fly for BASEBALL #4.  Before Mr. Soriano was finished, I managed to catch BASEBALL #5 on the fly in the same fashion in nearly the same location.  I always say, “it pays to do your homework.” 

The remaining Cubs hitters decided they didn’t want to donate anymore baseballs to the cause.  BP was over.

After BP, a gentleman approached me and asked me if I would be willing to sell one of my baseballs.  I asked him if he had any kids.  He said he had a son celebrating a birthday today.  I told him that if he brought his son over, he could have a baseball for free.  He told me he would return.

About 10 minutes later, the man returned with his teenage son and a younger boy.  I picked out one of the nicer baseballs I had snagged that day and handed it over to the boy.  I wished him a happy birthday and took the following picture…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 002.jpgBirthday Boy Braeden celebrating his 8th birthday at the ballpark with his older brother and father.  I love seeing families spending quality time together at the yard. 

I met up with “Big Mike” and we headed to the concessions stand for a little pre-game meal.  Since I had provided the ticket, Mike was providing the food.  I ordered the chorizo…a new phenomenon at Miller Park.

Here’s Mike at the concessions stand.  If you come to Miller Park and run into this guy, you have to stop and say hi.  Tell him you know The Happy Youngster! 
He’s a riot…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 003.jpgLook at these freakin’ prices…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 004.jpg

                                   It’s no wonder Jeff Suppan makes 12MM a year.

I wandered up to the 400 level to take a few pictures.
Here’s a view of the field from the 400 level of the Terrace Reserved seats…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 007.jpgI usually sit just to the right field side of the hitter’s eye.  Provides me some home run ball opportunities from time to time.

On the way to my seats, these guys were walking in front of me…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 008.jpg                                        Now, that’s some funny stuff.

A random view down into the lower level (100 level) of right field bleachers…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 009.jpgA huge overhang prevents many of the home runs from landing here.  The ones that do make it on the lower level are liners and squeakers in the first 7 rows.

Here’s a picture of Ballhawk Shawn…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 011.jpg        Shawn is a charter member of our BALLHAWK LEAGUE and a great baseball fan here in Milwaukee.  Stop by Shawn’s blog if you get the chance-he knows baseball.

It was now game time so I settled into my seat.

In the 4th inning, Brewers RF Corey Hart stepped to the plate. 
You may recall on Friday the 10th of April (Brewers home opener), Corey Hart hit a home run 15 feet over my head that landed on a set of stairs.

Well, Corey Hart did it again.  This time, he hit it about 5 feet over my head. 

The scoop:
I’m sitting in the front row and it’s coming my way (opposite-field).  I know it’s hit hard so I run up the first set of stairs.  I turn around to find the ball.  When I locate it in the air, I realize it’s still going to be over my head, so, I run up another small set of stairs.  By the time it lands, I’m 5 feet away from it.  Too many stairs to climb in too little time.  It takes an awkward bounce off a guy’s arm and falls to the concourse below (about a 7-10 foot drop).  I’m about to jump over the railing and claim it when two guys just so happened to be walking by and see it bounce around in a small nook.  One of the passers-by picks it up effortlessly and takes off running.   Dammit!!  I pull myself back on the right side of the railing…commence kicking self in rear.  That’s the second time in three days Corey Hart hit in to my section and over my head. 
I’ve played that home run over in my head about 50 times.  I’ve asked myself tons of questions…
 

  • What could I have done differently?
  • Why did I not catch that?
  • Why did the guy in the hat not catch it?
  • Why does Miller Park have so many obstacles?
  • Will I ever be the same?
  • Am I crazy?

I’m convinced that narrowly missing game home runs makes you a better ballhawk over time.  You learn from little mistakes, little hesitations, etc.  I play it over in my head as if I get a “do-over” or something.  Maybe the next time I’ll do it better.  Oh well.

Here’s a picture of where the Corey Hart homer would have landed…if not for the guy in the hat and green coat.  I was about 5 feet away when he stuck his arm out to try to catch it…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 012.jpgThere’s a lot of “what-ifs” here.  If he hadn’t stuck his arm out I would have most likely snagged it on the 1st bounce.  Oh well, I’ll get it next time.

Moving on.

It was Easter Sunday, so this picture taken from near my seat is appropriate…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 015.jpg                                         Look closely…see the easter egg? 

Zoom, shall we…?
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 014.jpg

          There it is.  Almost looks like it has a larger commemorative logo on it…hmm.

In the top of the 9th inning, I relocated to the 6th row by the Cubs dugout for an ump ball.
Meanwhile, I took the following pics from my new seat…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 016.jpg
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 018.jpg

See the guy seated on the left side of the photo on the aisle wearing the gray hooded sweatshirt? 

This guy…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 019.jpgThat’s former DUKE University basketball standout J.J. REDICK.  It turns out, the Orlando Magic were in town to play the Milwaukee Bucks the following night.  He and a few of his Magic teammates (including Jameer Nelson and Marcin Gortat) were taking in the Brewers game from the best seats in the house.

I always keep a game ball in my bag for these exact situations. 

After home plate umpire Angel Hernandez dissed me and the game had ended, I politely asked Mr. Redick to sign the ball pictured below…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 023.jpg     His pro career hasn’t amounted to much, but, collegiately-he was one of the best.

Finals for the day…
5 baseballs (3 are shown – one given to birthday boy/1 given to usher in my section)




2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 5 total balls 4/12/09

2 caught on fly (hit)

2 snagged on bounce (hit)

1 device

ATTENDANCE:  40,168

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs

___________________

38 baseballs (6 games)
6.33 average per game

7 Comments

Happy – I think it’s great that you give some of your shagged balls to kids who are at the game. You know you made that little boys 8th Birthday all the more special. As a mom – thanks!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Do you think it would’ve been possible to get that Easter Egg using the glove trick after the game? I saw a few of those in Cincinnati but there was no way I could get to them without climbing over the railing and getting yelled at/kicked out.

Looks like you might have some time off now in Milwaukee until my Buccos come to town. Our best HR hitters from the left side are Brandon Moss and Adam Laroche. Hinske puts some out, but tends to pull the ball a bit more than the other 2.

Andy LaRoche and Craig Monroe are the 2 top righties for BP HRs.

We’re not known to hit that many HR’s though. I look forward to reading your entries and seeing if you get anything from the Pirates.

-Erik
http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com

Great bloggin Great ballhawkin! It is amazing the extent which you Brewer fans go to make fun of the Cubs.
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/

Happy,

Another great entry. I LOVE your pictures. I’m actually from Orlando, FL originally and I used to be a Magic season ticket holder. That’s really cool about meeting JJ. I would have totally recognized those guys. Was he cool about the auto and what did he say about signing a baseball? Sorry about the near miss again. You’re getting closer. It’s just a matter of time. Take it easy.

Leigh

Hey, Happy, I was watching that game in HD and as that home run from Hart cleared the wall I saw a guy in yellow scramble for it… and I said to my fiancee, “I know just who that is.” You really were pretty close to it but crazy bounces are just a part of the snagging experience. I’m sure you’ll catch another gamer soon. Great entry!
~Matt
http://bloggingboutbaseball.mlblogs.com/

haha thanks for the kind words and link nick! we should have had that homer…

shawnhttp://realtalk.mlblogs.com

JULIA…
it’s only the right thing to do.

ERIK…
It’s not possible to glove trick the balls out of that flower-bed. The angle’s not right. Yeah, after a hot start, it’s killing me to just sit around and wait for them to come back to town. I’m getting ready for the Bucs!!

JEREMY…
Cubs fans are not high on our list, that’s for damn sure.

LEIGH…
J.J. Redick was cool. I told him all I had was a baseball. He said, “a baseball will do just fine.” Cool dude.

MATT…
You’re right-thanks!

SHAWN…
No problem.

“Happy”

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