4/21/09 @ Wrigley Field

Since the Brewers had been on the road all week, I was
baseball-starved and in desperate need of some ballhawking action. 
After gaining the blessing of my lovely and understanding wife, I found
myself on a train to Chicago at 1pm.

After a 1 1/2 hr. train ride, I was in downtown Chicago.  I hoofed it
about 9 blocks to the RedLine subway and jumped on another train that
dropped me off at the front door step of Wrigley Field.

Here was my view as I popped out of the ADDISON ST. station…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 001.jpgThis is the southeast corner of the stadium at the intersection of SHEFFIELD AVE. and ADDISON ST.

Here’s a look down SHEFFIELD AVE…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 002.jpgThe centerfield scoreboard at Wrigley is purely nostalgic.  New stadiums are great, but Wrigley has that old-school flair.  See the flags?  The wind was blowing hard to the right field corner.   
I walked another 50 feet and peered through an open chain link fence.
Here’s what I saw…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 003.jpg            A rain soaked field with a rain jacket on.  There would be no BP on this day.

So, I wandered around the ballpark and took a few photos.

Here’s a famous intersection…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 004.jpg                                                   WAVELAND/KENMORE

Here’s a view of the left field bleachers standing underneath the above intersection sign…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 005.jpgThe guy in the blue coat is walking underneath that overhang for a reason…rain, rain go away!

My walk continued past the players parking lot (3B side) and back behind home plate where I purchased my ticket.  I went up to the window and asked for the cheapest ticket available.  He told me it would be in the Terrace Reserved-Section 233/Row 16/Seat 12. 
$24, please.  Okay, whatever.  Just get me in the stadium.

The lines were starting to lengthen.  I’m thinking…wow, 30 degrees and rainy and these fans still line up to see their team.

Until I found out it was a giveaway day.  I’m certain the freebie brought many out early as the Cubs were only handing out one to the first 10,000 through the gates.

What were they giving away?

This worthless thing…
zambrano statue giveaway.JPG

I’m sure it has some value.  I decided to keep it because I’m a bit of a pack rat.

My walk around the ballpark came to a halt when I spotted this fella…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 006.jpg                                                      Zack Hample.

I had met Zack for the 1st time a few weeks back when we were both in Toronto.
I had read on his blog that he had planned on being in Chicago this week.
Zack’s one cool dude.

The gates to the BPless Wrigley Field opened two hours early.  I grabbed my Zambrano statue and headed into the seating area. 

Upon entering, this was the scene…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 008.jpg              I’m not a fan of rain.  Especially when it takes the place of Batting Practice.
 

After a few minutes, the Reds pitchers started coming out onto the field…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 007.jpgBASEBALL #1 came fro
m an unknown Reds pitcher.  I wanna say it was MIKE LINCOLN.  Not positive.  It was his warmup ball.

BASEBALL #2 came about 30 seconds later from EDINSON VOLQUEZ.  He was walking back toward the dugout and launched it 30 rows back right to where I was standing.  Of course, wearing all Reds gear and waving my arms like I’m trying to put out a fire didn’t hurt.

The players had all retreated to the clubhouse.  I had some time to burn, so, I wandered.

Look at that beautiful runway on the lower level to snag foul balls…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 009.jpgOld-school charm…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 010.jpgLeft field bleachers…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 012.jpgRight field bleachers…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 013.jpgPre-game view from the seat I was SUPPOSED to be sitting in (more on this later)…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 014.jpg                                          SECTION 233 ROW 16 SEAT 12

I wandered some more-ending up in the upper deck.  I had to show my ticket about 50 times to get up there!  The ushers at Wrigley are Nazis.  Just doing their jobs, I guess.

A view of centerfield from the upper deck…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 017.jpgA view to the right from the upper deck…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 018.jpgand a view to the left…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 019.jpgSee that overhang??  A ton of baseballs get fouled off and bounce onto that roof.  Their final landing spots are the surrounding streets below.  Now, that’s old-school.

A look onto Waveland Ave. from the furthest seat from home plate…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 022.jpgRooftop seats in left field…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 026.jpg
The seagulls in Chicago are on a timer.  They swoop in every day around 5-6pm.  They’re used to day game buffets.  They were a tad early on this day…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 028.jpgThe only thing more annoying than seeing seagulls everywhere is seeing Cubs fans everywhere.

Uh-oh!!  Game time!!
Get that oversized slip n’ slide off the field…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 030.jpgnicely done…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 032.jpgLet’s play ball!!

Right before the game was about to begin, I took a look where I was SUPPOSED to be sitting.  It was way up and underneath the overhang.  There was no way I was going to sit there for the game.  So, I did what any ballhawk would do.  I looked down to the dugout seats above the Reds dugout and saw a few empties.  So, when the Gestapo wasn’t looking, I snuck down and assumed an empty seat in the 2nd row directly above the Reds dugout.  Decked out in all Reds gear, I was definitely in enemy territory.  Only a few Reds fans to my left.  I struck up conversations with everyone around me and acted like I’d been there before.

Reds infielder ALEX GONZALEZ was warming up with Brandon Phillips directly in front of me.  After he was finished throwing, I asked for the baseball.  Alex looked at me and faked like he was going to throw it 90 mph at my head.  He pulled it back, smiled and then gently tossed it to me for BASEBALL #3.

Here was my view to start the game…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 037.jpgNot too shabby (I think this was the only time I blinked in 3 hours). 

More pics…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 038.jpg     Derrek Lee…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 045.jpg

1st inning…2nd inning…3rd inning…4th inning…5th inning all go by.  I’m still sitting in the 2nd row!  I think the late Harry Caray said it best, “holy cow!” 

In the bottom of the 6th inning, Cubs LF ALFONSO SORIANO was at the plate.  He hit a nubber down the 1st base line.  It rolled right up to 1st base, struck the base, then rolled into shallow right field.  Jay Bruce picked it up and fired it into second where Soriano slid safely for a double. 

The ball was thrown out of play to this man…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 051.jpgCubs 1B coach MATT SINATRO.  Mr. Sinatro looked in my direction.  I was the only fan who stood up AND had a baseball glove on.  He made eye contact with me and tossed the game ball to me for BASEBALL #4.  A toss-up for official statistics, but a gamer hit nonetheless.

Here’s the Soriano game used hit ball…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 058.jpg                                     ALFONSO SORIANO CAREER HIT #1406

After the bottom half of the seventh had ended, Reds 1B Coach BILLY HATCHER tossed BASEBALL #5 to me on top of the dugout. 

I had been trying to get a 3rd out ball all game but for whatever reason, Reds 1B Joey Votto would not look to the crowd.  He would simply jog off the field and on his way to the dugout, he would toss the 3rd out ball to Billy Hatcher.  Billy would then toss him a different one.  I’ve noticed this becoming a trend.  From what I gather, the players are using the previous innings game ball for the infield warmup ball between innings.

Upon further inspection of the Billy Hatcher toss-up, I could see it was a game ball but it had too many grass and dirt stains to be the 3rd out of that inning.  It had been the previous innings 3rd out used for infield practice.  Ahah!!

Here’s a look at the Billy Hatcher toss-up ball…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 059.jpgThe ball was certainly “rubbed” for game action.  This particular ball just saw some extra action in between innings.

After getting that 5th baseball, I reached into my backpack and dug out the Mike Lincoln toss-up and handed it to a very friendly Cubs fan who actually HAD tickets in those seats.  I felt almost obligated to do that because I had sat in those seats all game without a ticket there.  Unbeknownst to anyone around me, of course.

Here’s me in the 9th inning…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 052.jpgStill sitting in the 2nd row on the dugout with a $24 ticket.  Yeah, I beat the system.

Finals for the day…
                             5 toss-up baseballs (4 shown-1 given away)
                                                           +
                                1 Carlos Zambrano bathroom ornament

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 5 total balls 4/21/09

5 toss-ups

ATTENDANCE:  38,403

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
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
___________________

60 baseballs (9 games)
6.667 average per game

11 Comments

Nice haul! My name is Brian & I found your blog on Zack’s blog. I see you got the 1-up on him, bragging rights! Nice pics too, by the way. Keep snaggin’!
Brian
http://www.txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

Nice post! I’m the one Zack’s staying with here in Chicago, and I’ll be up in Milwaukee Tuesday for the game, so I hope to meet you then.

By the way, the Z statue (and any other Cubs’ bobbleheads in general) will typically sell on eBay for $40-$60. So, it’s always a great idea to plan to go to those games at Wrigley… you can pay for your ticket and then some by selling the giveaway!

Great job Happy! And what an understanding wife! If only my husband were that understanding! lol!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

BRIAN…
Thanks for stopping by the blog. Stop back again!

THEKMAC…
Look forward to meeting you. Interesting about that giveaway. Thanks for the info!

JULIA…
I have, without a doubt, one of the coolest wives around.
Regarding your husband, let me talk to him!!

“Happy”

Another 5 spot …. not bad …… You need to make your way out to LA on May 18th when Zack is here! Check out my last game I had a 5 spot too!!

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

It was nice meeting you! (I’m the guy who got that Cotts ball)

I didn’t have a Reds hat, and I wasn’t able to sneak down behind the dugout (very nice job, the ushers are old, but vicious at Wrigley), so I was at a disadvantage. I was happy with 1, but I want to start getting 2 at a couple games to bring my average up to 1 game a ball.

I don’t have many visiting team’s hats (yet) and I don’t currently have them with me, so 1 a game is a good goal for me!

Keep up the snagging in Milwaukee.

How did you sneak past the Cubs ushers? I could only do it once, and even then I almost got caught. Luckily there was a nice usher who let me stand there. But I’d like to try again because I did get 16 Brewers. Do you just rush down when they aren’t looking? Or do you move down in the melee of something?
http://riveravenue.mlblogs.com
Alex

JOHN…
nice work with the 5 spot, yourself. I would love to come out to LA, but I don’t see the west coast in the plans for ’09.

CUBS0110…
It was nice meeting you as well. Gotta set your goals-nice work. Good luck the rest of 09. I’ll be back at Wrigley soon.

ALEX…
I’m a bit of a sneak when it comes to that stuff. First, you have to look like you belong down there. Second, you have to blend in with others. Lastly, you can’t get nervous. I was impressed with your numbers when it came to the Brewers. They seem pretty accomodating.

“Happy”

Wow, that’s pretty cool! Amazing that you sat in that one spot for the whole game :) Trevor pitched for you guys last night. I cried a bit. So sad!!! I’m glad he’s better though :)
http://kaybee.mlblogs.com

happy-
good game man. your t-shirt is awesome! do you have any for sale? i probably completely missed it if you said you do. anyway, i think this is the first time im posting on your blog. anyway, i have my own blog this year, its about autograph collecting. as im sure you know, the brewers were playing the mets 2 weekends ago, so i was in NYC at the hotel where they were staying getting autographs (cleveland was there too) i think youd be pretty interested to see how i did so check it out when you got a chance if youd like

keep up the snagging!
-Jon
http://nycautographcollector.mlblogs.com/

you really are livin the dream haha

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