4/27/09 @ Miller Park

The Brewers were finally back in town after an 11-day absence.  I had made a spontaneous trip to Wrigley Field on April 21st because I was baseball starved. 
But, the BrewCrew were back and I was ready.

The day began when I met NYC ballhawk extraordinaire Zack Hample at the Milwaukee Amtrak train station.  Zack was coming in from Chicago and was going to be my guest for a night. 

After taking Zack on the not-so-scenic tour of Milwaukee, we headed to the ballpark.

There she is off in the distance from Interstate 94…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpgWhenever
I take this sight in, I feel a void.  I miss Milwaukee County Stadium. 
While Miller Park is nice, I miss the simplicity of the old park.  I
miss the GA bleacher sections. 
I miss rain delays.  I miss a 1/2 empty stadium on the weekend.
(Milwaukee County Stadium once stood just to the right of Miller Park from this view)

We were getting closer…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg                                            The drive down into the valley.

Yeah, baby…1st ones in the parking lot…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 034.jpg
The walk up to Miller Park from the General Parking lot…

4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 032.jpg…took us here.
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 013.jpgZack and I stopped for a photo together…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 035.jpg            …we’ve known each other about 3 weeks and got along great from the start. 
We continued walking toward the stadium and paid homage to Hammerin’ Hank…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 070.jpgThat
brick inlay with the bronze plate (in the asphalt) signifies the
approximate spot where Hank Aaron’s last career home run (#755) landed
back on July 20, 1976.  The ball was hit off Dick Drago down the left
field line at Milwaukee County Stadium, landing in the lower grandstand
seating area.  After County Stadium was demolished, this tribute was
put in place years later.

A little league field called “Helfaer
Field” (shown above) was constructed on the old site of County
Stadium.  In the photo, the view looks toward home plate.  The home
plate of the little league field is in the approximate spot where home
plate was at Milwaukee County Stadium.

A closer look at the historical marker…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 069.jpg                                     …forever the home run king in Milwaukee.

After saying hello to “Rockin’ Robin…
yount statue.JPG                                                We entered the stadium.

The 1st thing I noticed was a potential glove trick opportunity in the left field moat.
So, naturally, I went to work on it.

Lower the glove…
Glove trick 42709.JPGA little lower…
Happy using glove trick 42709.JPGGot it…
happy glove trick!!42709.JPGSteady, steady…
Happy glove trick 42709!!.JPG                                                             Yeah!
                                                      BASEBALL #1.

BASEBALL #2 came via a toss-up from Brewers relief pitcher JORGE JULIO.

I decided to give Zack a little space on the lower patio.  So, I headed out to the upper patio.
Not long after I arrived, Brewers CF MIKE CAMERON hit a bomb that I gloved on the fly for BASEBALL #3.

Brewers pitcher MARK DIFELICE tossed me BASEBALL #4 about 3 minutes later. 
When I looked at the ball, I discovered it had some character to it. 

See for yourself…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 060.jpg                                                             So true!!

I went back down to the lower patio because I couldn’t stand still.  While I was down there, Pirates Pitcher ZACH DUKE was doing some early wind sprints on the warning track.  A ball came to him, I asked for it and soon had BASEBALL #5.
The Brewers were almost done hitting when Bill Hall cranked back to back shots into the left field bleachers.  I ran where I wasn’t supposed to be and claimed BASEBALL #6 & BASEBALL #7 both on the bounce. 

Sometimes, you have to bend the rules.

The Pirates were now on the field taking BP.  I had moved to right field for Adam LaRoche bombs.  I spotted Pirates relief pitcher EVAN MEEK shagging some BP directly in front of me.  I called out his full name and he turned and fired BASEBALL #8 right to me.  I think he was just happy someone knew his name without simply reading the back of his jersey.  The fact that I was decked out in Pirates gear certainly did not hurt, either.

A few minutes later, BASEBALL #9 came courtesy of Pirates pitcher PAUL MAHOLM.  I gave it directly to a kid that was standing next to me.

BASEBALL #10 was crushed by ADAM LAROCHE that I snagged on the bounce up in the right field loge bleachers.

Pirates pitcher SEAN BURNETT (very willing to toss baseballs into the stands) soon fired me BASEBALL #11 when asked to do so.

I was rolling…and not finished.

Baseball #11 had just tied my personal 1 day snagging record.  I’d snagged 11 in one game a handful of times, but could never get that elusive #12…until today.

My personal best came courtesy of Pirates pitcher PAUL MAHOLM.  Yeah, that’s right…a 2nd time!  Turns out he had seen me give the young fella #9 a few minutes earlier and decided I should have one of my own. 

I moved over to right center field because I had gotten toss-up baseballs from most of the players standing in right field.

Pirates reliever ROSS OHLENDORF tossed me BASEBALL #13 about 5 minutes after my arrival.  He was a really cool guy.  Very friendly and extremely willing to give some souvenirs.

It was about 6:10 and I already had 13 baseballs.  There was still 15 minutes left to BP!
Before the day had started, I made it my personal goal to break Zac
k Hample’s single-day Milwaukee record of 17.  I told him I couldn’t have a New Yorker holding a Milwaukee record.  All in good fun, of course.

I was well on my way until the Pirates flat out stopped hitting the ball with any authority.

BP ended and I was still stuck on 13 baseballs.

Thirty minutes before game time, I decided to go down to the Pirates dugout.  When I arrived, I met up with Zack and another Milwaukee ballhawk named Shawn.  Shawn has what it takes to be a good ballhawk.  He’s a charter member of our BALLHAWK LEAGUE and has his own blog.  Check it out here.

While we were sitting above the Bucs dugout, we made the Pittsburgh telecast…
Happy Shawn & Zack on Pittsburgh TV.JPG                                 From left to right:  Happy, Shawn and Zack.

            (Special thanks to ERIK JABS for taking this screen shot and sending it to me)

It was now gametime and I was still in that 3rd row seat above the Pirates dugout. 
I figured what the hell?  Might as well stay.  So, I did…for the entire game!

Before the start of the bottom of the 6th, Pirates 1B coach PERRY HILL tossed me BASEBALL #14.

It was a beauty. 
Take a look…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 065.jpgand the other side…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 066.jpg…absolutely hammered with use!!
This ball was the infield warmup ball used before the start of the home half of the 6th inning.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, Brewers SS J.J. Hardy struck out swinging for the final out.  Pirates catcher and Wisconsin native JASON JARAMILLO jogged toward the dugout.  I went down to the front row and held up my glove.  Jason underhanded it to me for BASEBALL #15.

Here’s a look at the 3rd out ball…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 061.jpg…gorgeous!!

I ended my day with a new personal best of 15 baseballs snagged.  While 18 was my goal, I was thrilled to crack double digits for the 4th time on this young season. 
Zack’s Milwaukee record lives to see another day.

After the game, we took another group shot…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 048.jpgLeft to right:  Zack Hample, The Happy Youngster, Ballhawk Shawn and Brewer Ben.

Of the 15 balls I snagged, 8 of them had something goofy written on the sweetspot.
Take a look…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 059.jpg                           …funny stuff.  My personal favorite-YOU’RE MARRIED? 
                                                      Boys will be boys.

Finally, a new personal record…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 068.jpg       The picture shows 14 baseballs (1 was given away).  But, you get the point, eh?

SPECIAL THANKS TO ZACK HAMPLE FOR PROVIDING ME A FEW PHOTOS FOR THIS BLOG ENTRY.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 15 total balls 4/27/09

4 batted balls (1 caught on fly)

10 toss-ups

1 device

ATTENDANCE:  32,198

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
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
___________________

75 baseballs (10 games)
7.5 average per game

8 Comments

Nice job Happy! Good to see that you and Zack had a good time. I think I might get to see him here in LA on May 18th. Keep up the good work! By the way check out my MLBlog and look at the Baseballs 4 MADD post. I am doing something similar to Zacks work for Pitch In For Baseball. I chose MADD after Angels pitcher and 3 of his friends were tragically killed by a drunk driver!
JohnMajor League Ballhawkhttp://ballhawk.mlblogs.com

Hi Happy….

Now THAT’s a day at the Ballpark. Very nice. Wish you would have reached 18, but it’s only April. Lot’s of baseball left.

Padreleigh

I love all the comments on the balls! Isn’t it great meeting people from the blogs!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Happy, it was nice meeting up with you and Zach, and conversing throughout the game about baseball and whatnot. I get bored talking to people who aren’t very knowledgeable about baseball and only have a mild understanding of why players do what they do at certain times. I’ll probably see you around the park this summer. My season goal is to get a game home run, but I don’t sit in the outfield enough because I get to ancy and have to be up and moving around. Talk to you later and go Brewers!

~ Ben

Happy-Your blogs are really getting goo. Way to rack up the numbers..You’re killin it brotha. Loved your memorabilia…WOW…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

JOHN…
Nice work with MADD. That’s pretty cool. Good luck racking up the pledges and the baseballs!!

LEIGH…
So true.

JULIA…
Meeting other bloggers has been a pleasure!

BEN…
You definitely have a great understanding of the game. Stop and say hello when you come back.

D…
Thanks, bro. Same to you.

“Happy”

Happy-
Too bad a stinkin’ New Yorker has your home parks’ record! (Just kidding Zack, love ya man!) Nice haul though, like I mentioned to Zack, those random writing balls are sweet! Way to go on your personal record, mine is only 2 so that shouldn’t be hard to beat. Keep tearing ‘em up!
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

BRIAN…
Anything’s better than the standard line through the sweetspot like most teams do.
Good luck snagging and I’m sure you’ll set your personal high many times over this season.

“Happy”

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