May 2009

5/26/09 @ Miller Park

This was my 1st game back at Miller Park since the Chris Coghlan fiasco back on May 13th.
I
was a bit apprehensive.  I didn’t know what the reaction would be. 
Brewers fans had torn me apart (I’ve heard all the arguments) on the radio and
on the internet for a whole week.  This was their 1st chance to do it
in person. 

Yet, they never did.  I’m not getting my hopes up…it was only 1 game. 

BP was extremely slow.  I felt reserved about asking for baseballs
from the Brewers.  I needed time to ease back into it.  So, I made no
verbal requests for balls during the Brewers portion of BP.

My favorite player, RYAN BRAUN, did manage to sock one out to
left-center where I was waiting to haul it in.  Clean catch…BALL #1.

That was it for the Brewers BP…weak.

The Cardinals began to wander out to left field for their warmup.  I
spotted Cards reliever CHRIS PEREZ standing down the left field line.

chris perez.jpg

When he finished throwing, I yelled down, asking him for the ball. 
When he looked up and saw the Cardinals hat, he gave me a nod of
approval and tossed up BALL #2.  A fan standing directly to my left
then asked for a ball.  Perez looked up, noticed he had on all Brewers
clothes and shook his head (while signaling thumbs down).  Funny
stuff.  Gotta do what you gotta do.

The Perez tossup…

5_26_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg…with “PRACTICE” stamped on the side instead of the sweetspot.

I had heard from fans that attended the Memorial Day game that
Pujols and Ludwick were putting on a home run derby Monday afternoon. 
So, when those two came up in the same group Tuesday, I was camped out
in deep left-center.
Do you think they hit anything?  Of course not.  BP ended without further incident.

When the game began, I had two very special guests with me…

5_26_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg

…my Uncle Gary
and Aunt Sandy.

They took the drive down from Northeast Wisconsin and sat
with me.  I’ve always been close to those two.  It was awesome to have
them at the game with me. 

Gary has been a lifelong Cardinals fan.  Born and raised in
Wisconsin, Gary was in his adolescent years when the hometown team, the
Milwaukee Braves, left town.  Like many kids during this time, their
allegiances went elsewhere.  Can’t blame them for that.

 

Since the game was to be nationally televised on ESPN, I accurately
predicted the Brewers would lay a stinker.  Why do the Brewers always
play like crap on national TV??  The nation must think we’re the worst
team in baseball.  That is, if they don’t read the box scores or check
the standings.

In the top of the 4th inning, with 0 on and 0 out, Cardinals CF
COLBY RASMUS launched a deep shot to center off Jeff Suppan.  The ball
left the yard, striking the ivy-covered hitter’s eye.  The ball then
caromed back onto the field, coming to a rest in centerfield.  Brewers
RF Corey Hart picked up the ball and turned toward me.  We made eye
contact, I held up my glove and he lobbed the game home run ball right
to me for BALL #3 on the day.

GAME HOME RUN BALL #50 of my career was in the books.  It wasn’t a
flashy way to snag #50 but I’ll take it.  I’ve never had second
thoughts about counting home run ball tossups. 
If you are the 1st fan to obtain possession of it, why should it not count toward career totals?

A closer look at Career HR Ball #50…

5_26_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

…you can see the green stain over “Selig” where the ball struck the ivy.

I
was thrilled to get a game home run ball from one of baseball’s future
stars.  But at the same time, I was bummed it put the Brewers down even
further.

The Cardinals continued to spank the Brewers until both teams had had enough. 
Cardinals 8 Brewers 1
Boohoo.

As he walked off the field, Home Plate Umpire Paul Nauert gave a
game ball from his pouch to everyone who was standing near the ump
exit…except me.

Oh well.  He must be a Chris Coghlan fan.

Finals…

5_26_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpg

…including the Rasmus game home run ball.

 

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • total balls 5/26/09

 

2 batted balls (1 caught on fly)
(1 game home run-COLBY RASMUS)

1 toss-up ball




ATTENDANCE:  37,404

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
___________________

153 baseballs (22 games)
6.95 average per game

5/23/09 @ HHH Metrodome

The game was at 6:05pm.
We were still at The Mall of America at 4:00pm.
I would not be attending BP today…time was short.

We ended up getting to the Dome at 5:30pm.  When I ran in, the cage was being taken down and the field was empty.

I
went down to the only area of the Dome where the glove trick is
“do-able.”  It’s a large open section closest to centerfield on the
left field side.  It’s a spot where the seats start to disappear into
the hitter’s eye.

When I looked down into the big gap, there was one ball lying down there. 
I glove-tricked it for BALL #1.  I was relieved that I would not be shut out on the day.

Upon closer inspection of the ball…
5_23_09 Brewers vs Twins @ HHH Metrodome 079.jpg…and…
5_23_09 Brewers vs Twins @ HHH Metrodome 080.jpg…hmm.  The Brewers were scribbling all over the Twins commemoratives, too. 
(As I discovered back on 4/27/09, the Brewers write words and sayings on most of their BP balls)

The game you ask??  Nothing to write home to Mom about.
The Twins spanked the Brewers yet again. 

Final score:  Twinkies 6 Brewhahas 2.

After the game, I headed
down for an ump ball.  No luck.  Charlie Reliford had called a pretty
poor game.  He put his head down and darted off the field.

There
was nothing happening on the Brewers side, so, I headed over to the
Twins side for a possible batboy game ball.  I really wanted a rubbed
up Twins commemorative ball for the collection.  The BP commemoratives
were nice, but, I wanted the real deal.

So, I waited above the ballbag as the ballboy/batboy gathered the equipment down in the bullpen area. 
About 10 minutes passed.  Then, I was approached by a familiar face holding a gigantic oversized glove. 

It was BIGGLOVEBOB!

We made a quick acquaintance before the ballboy returned.  When he was
directly below me, I politely asked for a game ball from the bag.  The
ballboy blew me off.

That’s when Big Glove Bob stepped in and used his Twin Cities celebrity
pull.  He said, “hey Adam, he came all the way from Milwaukee.” 

Adam reached into the ballbag and grabbed out a beautifully rubbed game ball and flipped it up to me for BALL #2. 

Even though I had missed batting practice, getting that game ball made it all worth while.

I couldn’t have done it without the help of Big Glove Bob.  Thanks Bob!

The commemorative game ball…
5_23_09 Brewers vs Twins @ HHH Metrodome 078.jpg…rubbed up and game used.  You can see why the ball made it to the ballbag.  There’s a scuff from hitting the dirt directly above and to the right of the commemorative logo.

So long Metrodome…I won’t miss you.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 2 total balls 5/23/09

 

1 toss-up ball

1 device



ATTENDANCE:  40,547

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
___________________

150 baseballs (21 games)
7.14 average per game

5/22/09 @ HHH Metrodome

We made the 5hr + trek to the Dome, arriving in the Twin Cities around 2pm.  Our hotel was 7 blocks from the spaceship stadium, so, we made the walk.

Eventually, this was our view…




HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 011.jpg


HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 005.jpg

Take a look at this little ticket booth located outside of GATE B…


HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 010.jpg
…GATE B is where we entered.  This put us right into the left field home run porch.

 

The gates to the stadium opened 2 hrs. before game time.  This was a nice surprise.  I don’t get why all major league teams don’t do this.  Makes no sense to me.

When I did enter the stadium, I was reminded how terrible The Metrodome is for ballhawking.
BIGGLOVEBOB, I feel for you brother.

A few random shots…

HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 019.jpg
















Right field corner…



HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 018.jpg

 

 

 

…and the retractable right field seats.

Used only for football games at the Dome.

 

 

 

 

The totally bizarre inflatable roof…

HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 020.jpg

…I’m willing to bet the fine folks of Minnesota won’t lose any sleep when they move out of this place.

When I entered the stadium, the Twins were on the field.  They weren’t hitting anything into the stands.  They weren’t tossing anything up, either.

I noticed the Brewers pitchers were out in right field warming up, so, I headed over there.

When I arrived, Brewers pitcher JEFF SUPPAN was finishing his warm-up.  I asked him for the baseball and he lobbed it high into the seats, right to me.  I had BALL #1 on the day.  I took a closer look at it-COMMEMORATIVE ball!!  Woohoo!

I made my way back over to left field because the Brewers righties were now in the cage.

The Brewers weren’t tossing many baseballs into the crowds.  They barely noticed we were there, actually.  I don’t get that.  Over the years, I’ve noticed that the players that have more fun with the fans just have more fun in general.  Just my observation.

Anyway, about 20 minutes passed with nothing.  The stands were filled with fans.  It was becoming a challenge.  The Metrodome is a TOUGH place to ballhawk.  Wow.

Eventually, Ryan Braun took his turn and started launching some bombs. 

One was hit high to my right.  I was in deep left-center field.  I ranged to my right about 20 feet and squeezed it on the fly for BALL #2.  Sweet.

Another 20 minutes passed with nothing.  I was in the middle of thanking a higher power for not living in Minneapolis when I noticed something.  A ball was sitting down the left field line about 8 feet out from the wall near the Twins bullpen area.

Since the Brewers weren’t tossing baseballs nor were they hitting baseballs, I decided to go try my luck.

When I arrived, I politely excused myself all the way down to the front row.  The ball was still there, yet to be claimed.  The area was packed with fans.  Before I started to go to work on the ball, I asked anyone in ear shot the following:

“If I can get that ball off the field without stepping onto the field, does anyone think that’s stealing??” 
In a pretty simultaneous response, everyone (and I mean every single person) stated, “no.”

I said, “alright” and went to work. 

After approx. 5-7 seconds, BALL #3 (which had ‘LOOKIN’ SHARP’ written on the sweet spot) was reeled in.  Another 5 seconds and the ball was in possession of a young Brewers fan.

His Mother thanked me.  His Father shook my hand.  People lightly cheered and complete strangers were thanking me.

Wow…good people (strangers) really DO exist. 
(My apologies for being a bit hardened by the past week’s turn of events)

Eventually, the game began.

Here was my view to the right…

HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 021.jpg

…SECTION 101/ROW 9/SEAT 1

My view to the left…

HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 022.jpg

…perfect home run territory in left-center field.

Take a look at my view straight ahead…


HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 025.jpg
…see that chair at the bottom of the steps?  That’s for Twins security to sit in while the game is in progress.  The Minnesota Twins do not allow fans in the first 2 rows.  Most likely due to potential fan interference.  That’s unfortunate…those 1st two rows are right on the wall.

Nothing would be hit my way as the Twins bottled up the Brewers 11-3.  Twins RF Michael Cuddyer hit for the cycle in the process…very cool.  His home run went over my head and to the left by about 15 rows…absolute bomb.  His double was a ground-rule double to the front row 1 section over to my left.  Those would be 2 cool balls to snag.

The two commemorative balls I did manage to snag…


HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 030.jpg
…very neat logo.

Finals for the day…


HHH Metrodome 5_22_09 032.jpg3 baseballs (2 are shown-1 was given away)

 

 

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • total balls 5/22/09

 

1 batted ball (caught on fly)

1 toss-up ball

1 device



ATTENDANCE:  30,297

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
___________________

148 baseballs (20 games)
7.4 average per game

 

 

 

 

5/19/09 @ U.S. Cellular Field

It was getting pretty hot in the kitchen…I had to go to this game.

I took the train down to Chicago.  When I finally made it to the park, I walked down 35th St. to see if my hot dog stand was still there.  It had been almost 10 years since I made it to a game on the Southside. 

After I passed through the tunnel, I was pleased to see this…
5_19_09 Twins vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 001.jpg…my little dog stand was still going strong.

After I ate my pre-game meal consisting of a Polish sausage and fries, I walked back to the stadium for a little sightseeing.

My view walking back toward the Cell…
5_19_09 Twins vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 002.jpg…just like I remembered it.

As I got closer…
5_19_09 Twins vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 005.jpg…that’s the home plate main entrance.

I continued walking a bit further.  Just moseying around-wasting time.  I was walking around to the right field corner when I heard a voice.
“Are you ‘The Happy Youngster’?” 

Now, I must admit, I was a little reluctant to answer at first.  Until I peered over and read the look on the gentleman’s face. 
(You know when you can tell someone is about to argue/fight/be an ***-even before they say anything?)  The same is true when someone is about to agree/get along/be cool.

It was obvious-this kind fellow was making a friendly contact.  So, I told him I was him and we began to talk about everything baseball. 

He told me his name is Richard, he’s from La Palma, California and he was in town on business.  He said he loves reading my blog and that he’s a Dodgers fan.

Here’s a picture of Richard and I outside U.S. Cellular Field…
5_19_09 Twins vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 008.jpg…Richard told me he enjoys casual ballhawking coupled with a bit of autograph collecting.  Two great hobbies.  Richard:  it was a pleasure to meet you.  Good luck hawking!

The gates were about to open and Richard was kind enough to invite me to join him at the front of the line.

When I ran into the left field bleachers, I spotted this…
5_19_09 Twins vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 009.jpg…what a lovely little easter egg.  BALL #1!  Yeahbaby.

kevin slowey.jpg
Twins pitcher KEVIN SLOWEY was shagging balls in left field.  When he
fielded a ball, I asked for it.  He turned and lobbed me BALL #2.

I then told him I thought his blog was cool.  Laughingly, and a bit embarrassed, he said, “thanks.”

BALL #3 was hit by an unknown player.  When I opened my mitt to inspect the ball, I found it to be brand spankin’ new.  Not one mark, not one scuff, not one blemish whatsoever.  One pitch, one swing, one catch-bingo!
I will use that ball for an autograph at some point down the road.

At this point, I heard my first name being called.  Again, I was a bit reluctant to answer.  I didn’t know if it was going to be some crazy fan that hated my guts out to get me.  So, I looped around the person saying my name, sized him up and said, “who wants to know?”  It turned out to be a fellow ballhawk named Adam.  I had met Adam on April 21st when I was down at Wrigley Field.  Adam’s a cool guy with a similar passion for ballhawking.

Here’s Adam and I…
5_19_09 Twins vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 011.jpg…by the White Sox bullpen.

I told Adam I would catch up with him after BP was over.  I wished him luck and resumed snagging.

BALL #4 was snagged on the bounce hit by an unknown player.  The sun makes snagging in left field at this park difficult.  It also makes player identification pretty hard, too.

I glove tricked a ball out of the White Sox bullpen for BALL #5.

BALL #6 was retrieved on the bounce hit by JOE CREDE.

Thumbnail image for joe nathan.jpg
I felt left field was becoming a bit “used up,” so, I headed over to right
field.  When I arrived, I noticed stud closer JOE NATHAN was shagging some
BP.  Joe fielded one in my vicinity.  The ball looked like it had an
extra-large logo on one of the side panels.  Taking a shot in the dark,
I yelled to Joe Nathan, “hey Joe, can I get that commemorative ball you
got there?”  He looked down at it, turned without hesitation and
fired it into my glove for BALL #7.

Both the Yankees and Twins commemorative baseballs…
5_19_09 Twins vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 018.jpg…both firsts for me.  The Yankees commemorative ball was gorgeous.  The Twins commemorative was a bit stained.

BP concluded.

When Scott Baker came out to the pen to start his warmup, I joined in watching him from above the visitor’s bullpen.

After Baker was finishing throwing, Twins pitching coach RICK ANDERSON flipped me BALL #8.

Here was my view of the game…
5_19_09 Twins vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 012.jpg…in Section 103/Row 1.

The only ball hit close was a long fly by Justin Morneau that was caught on the warning track.

White Sox 6 Twins 2.

I was shut out after the game down by the Twins dugout.

Finals…
5_19_09 Twins vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 017.jpg 

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 8 total balls 5/19/09

4 batted balls (1 caught on fly)

3 toss-up balls

1 device

ATTENDANCE:  26,696

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
___________________

145 baseballs (19 games)
7.63 average per game

5/13/09 @ Miller Park

Imagine, for a second, you get called up to the show.  It’s your first week in the big leagues and you connect for your 1st career home run.  A fan catches the ball in the bleachers.  You want the ball back for your personal collection, but the fact remains, it’s now the property of the fan.

What’s the ball worth to you?

More on this later…

My good friend “Dino” and I were going to the game together.  We were both jacked for this day.

He arrived at the house with his glove in tow.  It still had the price tag on it.  I asked him if he planned on using that glove to catch anything.  It was rigid and right off the shelf.  So, we took it down into the basement for some much needed love.

5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

A little bit of mink oil on that glove to condition it…

5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg

…and 40 seconds in the microwave to soften the leather.

Now, it just needed to be used.

We got to the stadium and grabbed a table out on Friday’s patio. 

Here’s “Dino” sporting the shirt…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 021.jpg…good taste.

Here’s an abbreviated account of how Batting Practice went…

Ball #1 was a CARLOS CORPORAN toss-up requested in Spanish.
Ball #2 was caught on the fly off the bat of COREY HART.
Ball #3, #4, #5 and #6 were all easter eggs discovered in the left field bleachers!! Whoa!

Brewers BP concluded.

Ball #7 was caught on the fly off the bat of BRETT CARROLL.
Ball #8 was via a JEFFREY URGELLES toss-up.

Marlins BP concluded.

Ball #9 was tossed up by the infamous CHRIS COGHLAN after he finished warming up by the dugout.
Ball #10 was ALFREDO AMEZAGA’s warmup ball used by the dugout.
Ball #11 was JEREMY HERMIDA’s warmup ball used by the dugout.

What came next changed the complexion of the evening in a big way.

Marlins prospect CHRIS COGHLAN, who had just been summoned to the major leagues the week before, stepped to the plate.

“Dino” had gone to the can and I was in the process of putting my long sleeve on due to a drop in the weather. 

The ball went up, I ran over, I leaned over and made the catch.  If you look closely at the highlight, I have another ball in my right hand while I’m making the catch. (?)

The Marlins bullpen called me over and I spoke with Bullpen Coach Steve Foster.  Mr. Foster informed me that the ball was Chris Coghlan’s first career home run.  He offered me another baseball in exchange.  I respectfully declined.  With over 775 career baseballs snagged, I didn’t need another ball.  He asked me what I was looking to get.  I informed him I would like a couple of bats.  Especially, one by the player who hit the ball.  He told me, “oh, you are a big fan.  No problem, we can do that.” 
I assured him that Chris Coghlan would get his home run ball.
I told him the first thing I wanted to do, before all else, was to get the baseball authenticated by major league baseball.  That way, there would be no question as to the authenticity of the ball.  I told him I would not give up the ball until it was authenticated. 

He had no problem with this request.  None whatsoever.  Not at this current time (he later bashed me in the Florida media-changed his tune just a tad).

So, I went over to guest relations and spoke with a supervisor.  I requested the on-site major league baseball authenticator.  After approx. 25 minutes, an authenticator could not be located.  Someone was not doing their job.

For those who do not know, every team is SUPPOSED to have two (2) authenticators present at every major league baseball game.  Not just for the inevitable milestones (ie. 500th home run, 300th win, 3000th hit, etc.), but for the unexpected ones as well (ie. 1st career home run, hit for the cycle, unassisted triple play, etc.)

It was at this time, Media Relations Manager MARTY SEWELL approached me and began to discuss the swap.  I told him I wanted the ball authenticated for the benefit of all parties involved.  That way, there would be no question as to the authenticity of the ball.  I also informed Mr. Sewell I wanted to personally present the ball to Mr. Coghlan at the end of the game for a photo opportunity.  He told me to meet at the Marlins dugout at the end of the game.  When we both realized the ball would not be authenticated, he stated he had no problem with me going back to my seat with the home run ball.

When I got back to my seat, Marlins TV-man CRAIG MINERVINI (the only respectful Marlins employee in this whole ordeal) was in my seat interviewing my buddy “Dino.”

A few minutes later, this was the scene…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 022.jpg…and this…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 026.jpg…Mr. Minervini was extremely cool.

He asked me about my website.  He asked me about my ballhawking career stats. 
Finally, he asked me what it would take to give up the Coghlan home run ball.

For all Florida viewers to see, I handed Craig the
handwritten requests I had decided on 30 minutes earlier.  On those two slips of paper read the following:

1st piece of paper: 
CHRIS COGHLAN GAME BAT signed-
“To Nick, thanks for catching my first home run!”

+

one (1) signed CHRIS COGHLAN ball

AND

2nd piece of paper: 
HANLEY RAMIREZ GAME BAT

THE END.

Mr. Minervini then held up the two slips of paper for the camera and I held up the home run ball. 

There you have it. 
So, where’s the confusion??  Where’s the part about me being unreasonable and asking for a whole bunch of stuff from other players?  Where’s the part about me holding the ball for ransom?   

Two bats. 
Simple as that. 
Plain English-right in front of the camera.  Documented and concrete. 

One by the player who hit the home run AND one by the Marlins stud.

Is that asking too much?  Is that being unreasonable? 
I just don’t see it that way.

It’s my hobby, people…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 029.jpg…some people choose to sell drugs to kids.  Some people choose to abuse drugs, themselves.  Some people choose to get all liquored up and drive their vehicles.  Some people choose to be abusive to their wives and kids.  Some people choose to rob, steal and cheat.  Some people take the lives of others. 

Some people choose to snag baseballs at the ballpark.  Whoopee.

Let me ask you this: 
QUESTION:  Is it okay to catch a historic milestone home run and sell it at auction for $1 million dollars? 

ANSWER: If that’s what it’s worth to someone, hell yeah it’s okay.

On the flip-side:
QUESTION:  Is it okay for a fan to catch a personal milestone of a little-known player and ask for two bats?

ANSWER:  If that’s what it’s worth to someone, you bet it is.

Two different levels…same premise.

During the game, I gave out two (2) baseballs to two kids sitting in my section.  They didn’t ask.  They didn’t have gloves (that I could see).  They were just playing around and I had a few extra. 

About twenty minutes later, this lovely family showed up in my section to congratulate me on my catch…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 031.jpg…they were so nice, I gave their daughter a baseball.  That’s Cassidy holding up her newest prize.  What a cutie!

The game couldn’t get over with soon enough.  I was itching to make the swap of the home run ball for the two bats.

To pass the time…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 034.jpg5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 032.jpg

…I christened a new “CUBS SUCK” ball.  (For those who do not know, the CUBS SUCK ball is used as the throwback ball when an opposing team hits a home run to me).  I keep the real game home run ball and throw back the CUBS SUCK ball. 

NOTE:  I did not throw a ball onto the field after catching Chris Coghlan’s first career homer.  I knew it was Chris’ first home run and didn’t want to get kicked out.

In around the 7th inning, I was approached by this guy…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 035.jpg…that’s visiting team clubhouse manager PHIL ROSEWICZ. 

He came out to my seat with this…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 036.jpg…very cool, indeed.  But, only 1/2 of my request. 
I don’t blame Phil.  He was only acting at the request of the Florida Marlins. 

I could sense this becoming a bigger deal than it needed to be.

Back to the story.

So, the agreement with the Florida Marlins media relations man was I would return to the Marlins dugout with the ball at the end of the game.  I did exactly that.  After being hassled by every grumpy old usher inside Miller Park, I finally made it down to the dugout after the game.

I posed one last time with the home run ball and the written requests…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 041.jpg…okay, it’s no secret.  I wear the opposing team’s hats for their portion of Batting Practice to maximize my ballhawking efforts.  Call me a poseur, call me a fake…whatever.  I call it smart.

I was then greeted by this fella…
5_13_09 Marlins<br />
 vs Brewers @ Miller Park 045.jpg” src=”http://mlblogsthehappyyoungster.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/5_13_0920marlins20vs20brewers2020miller20park20045-thumb-525×393-11555611.jpg” class=”mt-image-center” style=”text-align:center;display:block;margin:0 auto 20px;” width=”525″ height=”393″ /></a></span>…who said he was the on-site MLB authenticator.  Where was he before when I needed him?</p>
<p>Next, the second guy to greet me…<br /><span class=5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 048.jpg…Media Relations Manager Marty Sewell. 

Marty was all smiles at first.  Until he opened his mouth. 
His first words, you ask??

“You better not be jerking us around.” 
“Is this the real home run ball?”
“Why did you have another ball in your hand when you made the catch?”
“This isn’t the home run ball.”

My response, you ask?

“Sir, this is the real home run ball.  I can’t explain why I had another ball in my hand. Actually, I don’t even remember having another ball in my hand when I made the catch.”

I didn’t realize it until I saw the replay. 
Either way you look at it, I was being accused of swapping out the baseballs.  Real classy on their part.  That’s NOT how you start a negotiation with someone.

Take a look at how ol’ Marty’s tune changed in the following pics…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 050.jpg

Good…

5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 054.jpg

…Bad…

5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 059.jpg…Ugly.

I was being accused of swapping the ball EVEN AFTER I was the one who insisted on preserving its integrity by getting the damn thing authenticated. 

Nice. 

This was the same guy that said it was perfectly okay to return to my seat still in possession of the ball.  Now he was changing his tune.

This would not be the first time the Marlins contradicted themselves.

Mr. Sewell informed me I could not have a Hanley Ramirez bat because that was not a part of the deal. 

Hello?  Anyone home?  What deal? 
The only deal I recall was the one I personally displayed for your Marlins TV cameras about 2 hours earlier. 

Florida Marlins team psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Fishbein stepped in and took over the negotiations. 

Here he is explaining to me in great detail why I could not get the Hanley Ramirez bat…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 066.jpg…very convincing little fella.  All mind games but very convincing.

After they made a stink about the Ramirez bat, I let the idea go.

IT WAS AT THIS TIME, that I asked for tickets to the Marlins/Brewers (NOT YANKEES) series at their stadium in Miami June 1 – June 4 in the place of the Hanley Ramirez bat.

The hero of the day, the almighty ballplayer, the noble sultan of swing-CHRIS COGHLAN himself, finally, made his appearance. 

The first thing he said to me, you ask??

“You gonna give me my ball or what?”

Are you kidding me? 
I think this kid needs to go back to that rookie orientation camp where players get taught how to handle the media and the fans.

He half-heartedly posed for this picture…
5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 068.jpg…I’m not asking to be your best friend.  Just act like you give a crap. 

What’s that thing he’s doing with his mouth??

He grabbed his home run ball and stormed off without saying a word.  Then, he turned back toward me and said, “why y’all gotta hold my home run ball for ransom?”

Excuse me?

Asking for two (2) bats, getting turned down, agreeing to one (1) bat and some tickets that I’ll never see is holding a ball for ransom? 

You have to be kidding, pal.

I told him asking for two (2) bats is not unreasonable and that I work an honest job for a living.
His response?

“Good for you.”

The classy comments just keep coming.

Apparently, the AP interviewed Mr. Coghlan about the ordeal.  He told them, “the guy told me he travels around and catches home run balls and holds them for ransom.  He really didn’t say that, but it seems that way.”

Huh?  Your credibility just went right out the window, sir.

I guess I just don’t get it.

After giving my contact information to Dr. Jeffrey Fishbein for the Marlins/Brewers tickets that I’ll never see, my friend and I left the stadium.

According to the Miami Herald,

Coghlan said the man demanded an autographed baseball by Coghlan, a
personalized Coghlan bat, an autographed Ramirez bat and — to top it
all off — tickets to the Yankees/Marlins series in South Florida in
June. He also wanted his photograph taken with Coghlan.  If he had been more respectful about it, I would have given him anything he wanted, Coghlan said.

Now, let’s go back to my original question: 

WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE THE FAN THAT CAUGHT YOUR FIRST CAREER HOME RUN BALL??

Would you act thankful?  Would two (2) bats be asking too much? 

Major League Baseball is a multi-billion dollar industry.
C’mon…get real.

It still amazes me how many professional athlete apologists are out there. 
Pro athletes can say whatever they want and the fans will believe them.  If a fan dares to stand up for himself, people bash him up and down. 

Still not convinced?

CLICK HERE for the interview in my own words.
Take the 10 minutes to listen to it-then comment.

I must warn you in advance, if you resort to name-calling or threats, additional measures will be taken and your comments will be investigated/reported/deleted.

You can comment on this topic without lowering yourself to such measures.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 12 total balls 5/13/09

7 batted balls (3 caught on fly)
(1 game home run caught on fly-CHRIS COGHLAN)

5 toss-up balls

ATTENDANCE:  32,825

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
___________________

137 baseballs (18 games)
7.61 average per game

5/12/09 @ Miller Park

I had some unfinished business. 
If you recall, I only managed to snag 1 lousy baseball (game foul ball) on 5/09/09.

It was time to shine.  The Marlins were in town.

I arrived at the ballpark early (as usual) and wandered around the stadium.  I didn’t want to get a table at Friday’s and pay $15 for a sandwich and coke, so, I went elsewhere. 
Besides, the Brewers are running a promotion May 12-14.  It’s called “Spring Madness.” 
All tickets $28 and less are 1/2 price and hot dogs and small cokes are just a buck. 
More on the hot dogs a bit later.

My 1st ball of the day was via the glove trick in the Brewers bullpen.

Ballhawk Shawn and his awesome Mom had a table reserved out on the Friday’s patio.  When I went to say “hello” he told me he had tried to use the glove trick on the ball but to no avail.  He said, “go for it…you’re the pro.”  Or something to that effect. 

So, I went to work on it and soon had Ball #1.

Ball #2 arrived (caught on the fly) off the bat of Brewers CF MIKE CAMERON.  I really dig Mike Cameron.  He’s awesome to the fans and has one helluva golden glove in centerfield.
Thank the Dear Lord we didn’t trade him to the Spankmees.

Brewers bullpen catcher MARCUS HANEL started walking out to the Brewers bullpen with starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo.  It appeared as if they were about to do a bullpen session.  When Marcus noticed me standing above him, he tossed me Ball #3.  Then, he yelled up to me, “hey Happy, stop switching.”  (He was referring to me switching out of my Brewers gear and into the opposing team’s gear for BP).  I asked Marcus if he was trying to pay me off (tongue in cheek).  He responded, “you wouldn’t wear Bears stuff to a Packers game!”  To which I responded, “if I was chasing footballs, maybe!” 

Funny stuff.
 
I started wandering a little further than I should have and noticed a baseball lying in the visitor’s bullpen over in right field. 

So, I sat down in the bleachers and readied my equipment.
The ball was about 2 inches off the side wall of the pen.  So, I had to actually nudge it away from me and the wall.  When it was in place, I dropped the glove on it and had Ball #4. 

The Brewers portion of BP ended with a Bill Hall BP homer snagged on the bounce for
Ball #5.

Near the end of the Brewers BP, a guy came up to me and asked me if I was the guy always on ESPN for catching baseballs.  He said he recognized my shirt from “THE CATCH.”

If you haven’t seen “THE CATCH,” check it out…

The Marlins were now stretching on the field.  So, I headed down the left field line to snag a warm-up ball. 

cody ross.jpgMarlins CF CODY ROSS was finishing up his warm-up throws and underhanded me the ball.  It was one of the worst tosses I had ever seen.  Needless to say, someone else claimed the ball.

To his credit, Cody was sincere in his apology, saying, “sorry, man.  That was a bad throw.” 

He started signing autographs.  When he got to me, I put out my fist and said, “no problem.  Next one.”  He responded, “I got you, man.”

He ran out to centerfield to take some fungo practice.  So, I went to centerfield as well. 
He fielded one and I asked for it.  He looked up at me, recognized me from a few minutes earlier, and lobbed it to me for Ball #6.  If I would have waited too long, I would have lost my opportunity.

Ball #7, ironically enough, came off the bat of the above pictured CODY ROSS.  That ball was caught on the fly.

Ball #8 was snagged on the bounce off the bat of JORGE CANTU. 

Ball #9 was tossed up to a group of fans near me.  None of them had gloves and they muffed it.  The ball bounced away and I ran it down.  I have no idea who threw this ball.

kiko calero.jpg
Shortly after, I heard a voice yell out to this guy—————————>
Marlins relief pitcher KIKO CALERO. 
It was Ballhawk Shawn and he was standing nearby.  Kiko looked up at me, so I waved.  Shawn was standing back and behind some railings.  It was hard for the players to see him standing in this position.  Shawn claims that spot is gold for him, so, more power to him.

A minute later, Kiko fielded a baseball.  Shawn, once again yelled to him-this time, asking for the ball.  Kiko looked up at me.  So, I held up my glove.  He lobbed the ball to me for #10 on the day.  Shawn did all the work…I didn’t say a word.  I just don’t think Kiko could easily see Shawn where he was standing.

I moved back to right field.

Marlins pitcher BURKE BADENHOP was fielding BP.  When he fielded the next baseball, I yelled, “Burke, ball please!”  He snapped his head toward me and fired me Ball #11. 
burke badenhop.jpg

It was definitely a reward for knowing his first name.  Anyone can read a name off a jersey back.  You have to know the first names!!

The Marlins were winding down their portion of BP.  So, I headed over to their dugout.  I snagged Ball #12 via an unknown rapid fire dugout roll.  You know the one…where out of nowhere, a ball comes popping out of the dugout and onto the roof.

I headed back to my seat.  On the way, I picked up three (3) dollar dogs and one (1) dollar coke.  Ugggghhhhh…extra pickle relish.  No condiments.

Right before the game was about to begin, my wife and kids arrived.

My view of the game…
5_12_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg…I love that seat.

Two homers by Prince Fielder (neither playable for me) propelled the Brewers to a 6-3 win.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, I relocated to the Marlins dugout (6th row).  I tried to get Home Plate umpire Angel Campos to toss me a ball but he just ducked into the umpire well and out of sight.  It seems I never have any luck with the ump when the Brewers win.  It’s just too loud in the stadium for me to get their attention.

The Marlins relievers were now exiting the field. 

leo nunez.jpg

I noticed that LEO NUNUZ had a baseball tucked away in his glove.  When he got close enough, I asked him for it. 

Ball #13!

About 20 feet behind him, there was another group of relievers.  When they approached, one of them flipped me Ball #14. 

I’m not positive who threw the ball to me.  I was a bit surprised. 
matt lindstrom.jpgI think it might have been this fella.

Marlins closer MATT LINDSTROM.

Me at the dugout after the game…
5_12_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg…with my fourteen (14) baseballs and my extra-small 1990′s Marlins BP jersey.

After the game, on the walk to my vehicle, I ran into this lovely little lady sporting a very familiar shirt…
5_12_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg…her name is Allison and she’s a nursing student.  Allison officially rocks.
Sorry boys, Allison is dating a med student.  But, for supporting “The Happy Youngster,” she was given a baseball.
5_12_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg




2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 14 total balls 5/12/09

5 batted balls (2 caught on fly)

7 toss-up balls

2 device

ATTENDANCE:  29,331

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
___________________

125 baseballs (17 games)
7.35 average per game

Back with a vengeance!

5/09/09 @ Miller Park

The day was weird from the start.  I don’t even want to talk about it, really.  But, the show must go on and the stories must be told.

I was riding high off my previous day’s total of 11 baseballs on 5/08/09
But, the Cubs were still in town…and I figured something had to give.

Something did.

The minute I walked into the stadium, I could sense the day would not go according to plans. 

Throughout BP, not a single baseball came anywhere in my vicinity. 
No glove trick opportunities.
No toss-up possibilities.
No home runs hit.
No ground rule doubles hit.
No easter eggs.
No baseballs falling from the sky.

Nothing.
Nada.

BP ended for me without a single baseball snagged. 
WTF!??!

I was getting really nervous that I would not snag a single baseball.  Really nervous.
I made a decision.  I had to go up to the 2nd deck (below the press boxes) and try for a game foul ball.  The odds of snagging one of those were much greater than snagging a game home run.  I had to abandon my lifelong game plan for a day.   A streak was at stake.

Up to the 2nd deck I went.

This was my view in the last row of the 200 level in the sold out stadium…
5_9_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg…desperate times call for desperate measures.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, with Brewers 3B CRAIG COUNSELL at the plate and a 1-0 count, my chance presented itself.

A foul ball spun off his bat directly toward me.  It hit one outstretched hand 3 rows in front of me and popped straight up in the air.  In a crowd, I reached my bare hand up and snatched it right out of the air before it hit the ground.

I was on the board.  There would be no shutout of the Happy Youngster on this day.

Although, it would be my only ball snagged.  WTF??!!

Here she is…
5_9_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg…the ball that kept the 2009 streak alive.

Talk about coming through in the clutch. 

Later, in the 8th inning, the lights went out at Miller Park. 
It’s hard to tell from this photo, but, trust me-it was dark inside the stadium…
5_9_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg…I told you it was a weird day.

Here’s home plate umpire-Jerry Crawford…
5_9_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg…getting briefed by the head of stadium control (big bald guy with the hand-held radio).
(Jerry Crawford dissed me hard after the game.  I was in a perfect
position for an ump ball but to no avail.  He would not make eye
contact with me and turned his head away as he passed right by my
elbow.  Oh well, can’t win em’ all).

Is it just me or does ol’ Jerry need a bit of a trim on the sides??

The game ended up being delayed approx. 25-30 minutes until the lights came back on.

When the game did finally resume, an unexpected pitcher got to hit…
5_9_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg…Brewers reliever Todd Coffey.  Never took the bat off his shoulder. 

Just a weird night.

One measly ball.

Allow me to end the pain…better times are ahead.
The Florida Marlins are coming to town.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 1 total ball 5/09/09

1 batted ball (game foul ball)

ATTENDANCE:  44,428

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1  lousy ball
___________________

111 baseballs (16 games)
6.94 average per game

5/08/09 @ Miller Park

The Cubs were in town to play the Brewers. 
I do not like the Cubs. 
Obnoxious yuppies everywhere.
Ron Santo is a *******.

Let the story begin…

What do you get when you mix a baseball game at Miller Park with 74 degree weather…??

5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg…tailgating AND

5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg…an open roof.

When I walked into the stadium, I was reassured of one thing…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg…Batting Practice!

A few minutes later, I had Ball #1 on the day (BASEBALL #100 on this young season).

Courtesy of a toss-up from this man…

5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg
…#56 JOE CRAWFORD.  Joe is the Brewers video coordinator and coaching assistant.

Ball #100 of 2009…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 024.jpg…and 1st of the day.

Brewers pitcher BRADEN LOOPER was in the cage hitting. 
He hit a long drive into the Friday’s Restaurant patio.  It passed directly through one of the openings between the bars on the railing and hit the lady pictured below, right in “the’***”…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg…then bounced to the ground right to me for Ball #2.
X marks the spot where the ball passed through the railing.  She was sitting in the 1st seat on the railing when she was hit, then moved one seat over to the right.  I didn’t feel too bad for the lady…she wasn’t paying attention!!  I did feel bad enough, though, to give her the ball.

ATTN:  All clueless fans

If you enter any major league stadium while Batting Practice is in session-pay attention to the damn ball!  Unless you want to spend the night in a hospital or an afternoon in a dentist’s chair!

BREWERS 3B/Emergency Catcher CASEY MCGEHEE tossed me Ball #3 and Brewers Stud (and my favorite player) RYAN BRAUN jacked me Ball #4 which I caught on the fly.

Ball #5 was retrived via the glove trick from the little protective net above the Brewers bullpen.
Here’s a picture of the safety net…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpgThe “X” is where the baseball was wedged.  A very tricky situation. 

First, I had to knock the ball out from its wedge between the edge of the net and the wire.  I only had one chance.  If I messed it up, it would have fallen into the bullpen.  Second, I had to glove trick it out.  No problems for this ballhawk.

I ran over to right field where Brewers pitcher BRADEN LOOPER tossed me Ball #6. 

I then took a peek into the visitor’s bullpen.  There was a glove trick opportunity.
Take a look…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg…I set it up and had Ball #7.

The Cubs took the field.

In the next 20 minutes, Ball # 8 (MILTON BRADLEY), Ball #9 (ALFONSO SORIANO) and Ball #10 (MIKE FONTENOT) were all snagged on the fly. 

BP was winding down so I took one final peek into the visitor’s bullpen.  There was another glove trick opportunity.  So, I went to work on it and had Ball # 11.

That was it for BP.

11 baseballs with the Cubs in town?  Unheard of.  I never imagined a BP with double-digits during a sold-out weekend game vs. the Cubs.

I was feeling good, so, I went over and paid a visit to a good friend…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg…that’s “Mickey the cameraman.”  Mickey used to shoot the game from my season-ticket section.  They’ve since moved him to a better spot.

Mickey’s been good to me, so, I handed him two baseballs I had snagged.

The game was drawing near.  There was much excitement in the a
ir.  Not only for the Brewers/Scrubs game to begin, but for this star’s return home…
danny gokey!.jpg

That’s American Idol star-Danny Gokey.
He’s from Milwaukee and I hear he’s on one helluva tear in the singing competition.

Good luck, Danny!  Make Milwaukee proud!

He was scheduled to throw out the 1st pitch and sing the national anthem.

I was in the box seats, ready to take a picture or two for my Mom and my Wife…both big fans of Danny.

Here’s Danny walking out to the mound to throw out the 1st pitch…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg…the pitch?  High and outside.

Check out the mob on the field…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg…all for Danny Gokey. 

The game was won by the good guys 3-2 courtesy of a Ryan Braun 2-run bomb in the bottom of the 8th inning. 

Eleven (11) balls would be the final tally…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 023.jpgEight (8) are shown.  Three (3) were given away. 
That player card is of Brewers situational lefty-MITCH STETTER.  If you can get this guy to throw you a baseball, I want you to let me know.  You’d swear he gets fined for tossing baseballs to fans.  C’mon, Mitch!!  Loosen up!

And with a name like Mitch, you gotta step it up…

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 11 total balls 5/08/09

5 batted balls (4 caught on fly)

3 toss-ups

3 device

ATTENDANCE:  42,025

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
___________________

110 baseballs (15 games)
7.33 average per game

5/02/09 @ Miller Park

Saturday 6:05pm game = Family Day at the ballpark.

Everyone (wife and kids) was packed up and ready to go.  We left the house in plenty of time to catch all of BP.

We arrived at the park and my lovely wife informed me we had forgotten formula for our infant son.  NOOO!!!

So, I turned around and headed back home…so much for being on time. 
Not a big deal-my wife is allowed to make her own mistakes from time to time.  Although she seems near perfect to me, she’s allowed to be snafu, occasionally.

So, I arrived back at Miller Park, now running behind. 
I would end up missing a good chunk of BP before we finally got into the stadium.

When I did finally run in, I saw this…
glove trick off field during BP!.JPGI’ve mentioned before how I’m a tad gun-shy when it comes to the glove trick at home.  The ushers have gotten on my case and it causes somewhat of a scene.

I thought to myself the following:

  • I’m already late.
  • I have no baseballs, yet.
  • Boy, that looks easy.
  • Nobody’s around.
  • Who’s gonna care in 10 years?
  • Who’s gonna care in 10 minutes?
  • Why am I still thinking about this?

I surveyed the scene and noticed only 1 security guard standing nearby.  So, I took off to that section.  When I arrived, there was not one, not two, but THREE security guards standing there!!!
I thought-this isn’t going to work.  So, I waited patiently.  Two of the guards started walking off the field.  They were walking directly toward the ball.  I figured one of the guards would pick up the ball and toss it in or pocket it for himself.  Neither happened!  They left it right there!!

So, I nudged my way to the front row (a small crowd had gathered above the ball by the time I got over there) and lowered the glove trick.  The glove fell directly on top of the ball at first contact.  I raised it up in slight disbelief…it was in the glove.  Yeah, baby-ball #1.

I think the D’Backs hitters were working on their singles approach on this day.  All of the big sluggers were stroking the ball to the gaps, down the lines, etc.  Everywhere but in the stands. 

This guy ended up tossing me ball #2 out near left-center field…
jon garland.jpg

D’Backs pitcher JON GARLAND.

Before BP ended, D’Backs coach LORENZO BUNDY tossed me ball #3 out near the visitor’s bullpen in right-center field. 

That was it for BP.  I was happy to get that many, considering I was late.

I did get to watch Danny Haren warm up before the game…
5_2_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg
5_2_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg
Dan Haren was too much for the Brewers as they fell 4-1.

After the game, Home Plate umpire MIKE EVERITT hooked me up with a game ball for BASEBALL #4 on the day.  That made me feel a bit better. 

Final tally…
5_2_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg4 baseballs (a weak showing).  I need to rebound this weekend.  Unfortunately, for me, the Cubs come to town.  Miller Park will be littered with yuppies wearing sandals and dress shirts, yelling for Dusty Baker to put Sammy Sosa in to pinch hit. 

And, oh yeah, I refuse to wear any clothing that bears the Chicago “C” on it. 
CUBS CLOTHES IS OFF LIMITS TO THIS BALLHAWK.  Anything I snag, I’ll have earned 100%.

It’s going to be tough.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 4 total balls 5/02/09

1 device

3 toss-ups

ATTENDANCE:  42,422

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

99 baseballs (14 games)
7.07 average per game

5/01/09 @ Miller Park

When I arrived at Miller Park on this day, I decided to give myself a bit of a stadium tour.  The gates weren’t open yet, but I thought what the heck, right?  If someone would ask what I was doing, I would just play dumb and act respectful.  It’s not like I’m harming anything…just looking, thank you.

When the gates finally opened, I was perched in the left field loge bleacher section.  Brewers seldom used 3B CASEY MCGEHEE cranked one near me and I tracked it down on the bounce. 

Remember the CUBS SUCK!! ball I mentioned a week earlier?? 
Well, the CUBS SUCK ball was reaching the end of the line.  I just couldn’t decide how to properly retire it.

Should I throw it into Lake Michigan for good luck?
Should I drive down to Wrigley Field and launch it onto the field from Waveland Ave.?
Should I burn it in a sacrificial offering to the Brewers Gods??
Maybe I should bury it, I thought?!?

None of these final resting places gave me any satisfaction.  So, what did I do with it, you ask??

I tossed it onto the field at Miller Park…right to the ballboy collecting the baseballs during Batting Practice.  I watched him as he scooped it up and tossed it into the bucket with the rest of the baseballs.

YES!!  A proper place for the CUBS SUCK ball.  Imagine the look on the player’s face who grabs that one out of the bucket for use!  Haha!!

A few big lefties were coming up for the Brewers, so, I moved to right field.

 

When I arrived in right field, this guy was shagging BP (like he always does) right below me…

marcus hanel.jpg

…Brewers bullpen catcher MARCUS HANEL (#55).

He was giving me some light-hearted crap about when I was going to change my uniform.  You see, Marcus knows I’m the biggest fan the Brewers have…but, he had seen me changing into my Pirates gear a few days earlier and gave me crap about it.  I just told him I had to do whatever means necessary to get a few baseballs. 

I responded by telling him I probably spend 10% of my annual income on baseball alone.  I told him, “now, that’s a real fan!”  I think this hit home with him.  A minute later, I heard a voice yell, “Happy!”  I looked down and it was Marcus Hanel!  He had a baseball waiting for me. 

What?? 

Marcus knows I’m the biggest ballhawk around.  He’s even made comments to my daughter about how many baseballs she must have.  He was going to give me a ball??
After he tossed it up, I said, “you’re a good man, 55!”  He waved and ran off the field.

Marcus Hanel really IS a good guy.  A hometown boy (born and raised in Racine, WI-just south of Milwaukee) who landed his dream job.  He’s very active with his charity…called KOOS FOR KIDS.  Check it out!

Before the Brewers portion of BP was completed, big lefty BRAD NELSON jacked a towering bomb in my direction.  I ran about 20 feet to my left and snagged it on the fly.

That was it for the Brewers BP.

The D’Backs were beginning to take the field, so, I made the switch.  The previous day had been really rough for toss-ups from these guys.  They wouldn’t look to the crowd at all and it didn’t seem to matter to most of them if you had D’Backs gear on or not. 
So, naturally, I feared my season numbers would slip a little.

D’Backs reliever CHAD QUALLS was out in left field shagging baseballs.  I went down to the front row and called him by full name.  He looked up at me and I told him he rocked.  He gave me a friendly wave…no baseball.  Ok, the seed was planted.  If one came out to him, he would certainly toss it up, right??  Not so fast.

chad qualls.jpg

He DID toss one baseball into the crowd.  But, he made me work for it AND he made me wait for it, too.  Twenty minutes after I yelled his name, he turned around with a ball and was scanning the crowd.  Presumably, for a D’Backs fan.  I saw this and bolted down to the front row.  I held my glove farther out than anyone else over the front railing.  I yelled out his full name a 2nd time and we made eye contact.  With a look of approval, he lobbed it up to me.  It almost fell short…but it didn’t.

I moved back to right field (I can’t sit still AND it’s good exercise) and saw D’Backs coach CHIP HALE shagging BP balls.  I got his attention and he nodded his head in approval when he saw my D’Backs gear.  He yelled up to me, “I dig the old logo!”  (I was wearing the not-so-old-school purple D’Backs shirt).  I then asked for a baseball.  He nodded.  Other people began to ask him for a baseball.  He turned to them and shook his head.  He then pointed across his chest at the D’Backs written on his jersey and gave a thumbs up.  He then pointed at them (wearing Brewers jerseys) and gave them a thumbs down.  He would reward the D’Backs guys.  After tossing a ball to the lower deck to BALLHAWK SHAWN, he tossed the next one up to me.

BP ended without any other hit balls or toss-ups.  Huh??  The D’Backs have so many power hitters…that was a weak showing.  And as far as toss-ups…what gives??  You would think they have to pay for each ball they toss into the stands or something.  Whatever.

I had some time, so, I took some pics of the stadium…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg

…the left field loge bleachers and Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill patio deck. 
See Bernie’s famous home run slide in the picture??

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg

…looking along the wall down the left field line.  A lot of balls carom off that jut in the
wall when hit down the line. 

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

…all four (4) decks of Miller Park.  The field level (100′s), the loge level (200′s), the club level (300′s) and the terrace level (400′s).

max scherzer.jpg

When I was wandering around down by the visitor’s dugout, I saw a D’Backs pitcher signing autographs.  I saw it was the previous night’s pitcher Max Scherzer.  He had pitched great the night before and looked like something special.  So, I pulled a game ball out of my bag and tossed it to him.

Max Scherzer…

and the signed baseball…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 021.jpg

For the game, I was strongly considering sitting up in the 2nd level below the press boxes directly behind home plate.

48 live in-game home run balls snagged but only 1 actual live foul ball snagged in my career.  I was 1-dimensional.  I needed to prove something to myself. 
So, I traded my ticket in for a more expensive seat in the 200 level behind home plate.  I was going to play for a foul ball.  That was my mission on this day.  To snag a live foul ball.

Here’s where I stood for the game…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg

The “X’s” mark the spots.  The captions say, “right-handed hitters” on the left X.  On the right X, the caption says, “left-handed hitters.”

Before the game started, I said hello to a few friends…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg

…former big league catcher and current Brewers TV play-by-play man Bill “Rock” Schroeder.
Bill gave me my nickname…”The Happy Youngster” back in May of 1999. 

If you don’t know the story, click here.

To the right of “Rock” in the neighboring visiting team TV booth was another Brewers alum…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg

…former Brewers TV color analyst and current D’Backs TV color-man-Daron Sutton (on the right-pictured with Mark Grace). 
Daron recognized me and said hello.  When asked if he remembered me, he said, “of course I remember you…the Happy Youngster!!  You’re the one who made the play in Spring Training!”

Very cool.  Thanks for noticing.

The game began and I waited out my foul ball opportunity behind home plate. 

When Brewers 3B Bill Hall was at the plate, I moved to this spot…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg

…left-center field, on the aisle. 

You see, if you’re following the MILESTONE TRACKER on my website, you would already know that Billy Hall is sitting on 99 career game home runs. 

Career #100 will, eventually, be mine I tell you!!

In the bottom of the 6th inning, with 1 man out and PRINCE FIELDER at the plate, my mission was about to be completed.

With a 1-1 count, Prince fouled one back to me.  It spun off his bat, struck the facing of the ribbon board and fell straight down to me where I claimed it on one bounce with my bare right hand.  YES!  I had my live foul ball. 

Gotta set your goals!!

Here’s where the Fielder ball struck the ribbon board…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg

…and fell straight down to me.

Here’s a picture of the Fielder foul ball…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 022.jpg

That big, nasty, totally awesome black mark is where Prince’s black bat struck the ball and left a sweet, black pai
nt transfer onto the ball!!  Cool stuff. 

I’m a nerd, I know.

D’Backs starting pitcher Jon Garland proved to be too much for the BrewCrew as they fell 5-2.

When the last out was being recorded, I was sitting in the 4th row near the Umpire well.  As Home Plate umpire CB Bucknor was exiting the field, I politely got his attention and he under-hand tossed BASEBALL #7 to me.

Here’s a picture of the umpire well…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg

…located on the home plate side-next to the visitor’s dugout.  Very unique.

Here’s a picture of the CB Bucknor game ball…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 024.jpg

…beautifully rubbed for game action.  I love getting ump balls.  I bring along 1 to every game just in case someone is signing autographs in my vicinity.

The man-CB Bucknor himself…

cb bucknor.jpg

The Happy Youngster himself…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 020.jpg

…by the D’Backs dugout.  In my right hand, I’m holding the Prince Fielder game foul ball. 
In my left hand, I’m holding my glove containing the remaining 6 baseballs I snagged on this day.  Due to an extremely grumpy Miller Park usher (aren’t they all??), I had to rush the photo and failed to display the baseballs for all to see. 
You’ll have to take my word for it.

Final haul…

5_1_09 DBacks vs Brewers @ Miller Park 025.jpg

…7 baseballs. 

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 7 total balls 5/01/09

3 batted balls

4 toss-ups

(1 in-game foul ball)

ATTENDANCE:  42,810

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
___________________

95 baseballs (13 games)
7.31 average per game

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