6/02/09 @ U.S. Cellular Field

I was pondering whether to return to “The Cell.” 

The day before, the rain appeared to be a non-factor.  As it turned out, BP ended up being washed out. 

It was a new day and the rain again looked like it would stay away.  But, as most of you guys/gals already know, this is not an exact science.  It’s hit or miss.

BP or no BP…that was the question.

You can imagine when I burst through the gates and entered the seating area, I was thrilled to see the White Sox hitters still taking their cuts.  So, I took off for the left field bleachers.  I had to make up for the 1 ball showing the day before.

BALL #1 came from an unknown White Sox player who was shagging BP out in left field.  I asked him for the ball and he hooked me up.  I’m just not sure who the donor was.

The last Sox group was hitting.  By the looks of it, they had some making up to do, too!  A good number of baseballs were reaching the seats.

BALLS #2 & #3 were both caught on the fly off the bat of PAUL KONERKO (about 5 minutes apart).  Paulie was peppering the left field seats with souvenirs.

paul konerko.jpgPAUL KONERKO…

such an under-rated player.  The guy has 300+ career taters, 1600 career hits, almost 1000 career RBI and he’s still going strong.

Yet, he’s rarely mentioned in the same breath as the rest of the stars of today.  WHY??  His image is not tainted.  That can’t be it.  So, WHY??

That was it for the White Sox portion of BP.

Bring out the A’s.

Within 10 minutes, two A’s tossed me baseballs.
ANDREW BAILEY tossed me BALL #4.
LANDON POWELL tossed me BALL #5.
landon powell.jpg
Landon Powell…

This guy is hard to miss.  He’s 6’3” tall and weighs 250 lbs.  He’s a helluva big guy and this year (’09) is his 1st taste of the big leagues.

I’m rooting for him.

Giambi, Cust and Sweeney were now hitting.  So, I moved to right field.

Soon, “The Giambino,” one of my all-time favorite players, jacked one in my direction.  I ranged to my right approx. 15 feet and made the grab on the fly for BALL #6.  I caught the ball over the top of another grown man with a glove.  No physical contact-just spirited competition.  A guy wearing no glove (imagine that) blubbered, “yeah, way to steal it!” 

Usually, in these types of situations, I ignore stupidity.  This time, I couldn’t help but respond.

To which I responded, “yeah, I stole it.  Stole it right out of the air.”

Whatever pal.  Save your useless negative energy on someone who cares.

A few minutes later, a ball was hit into the visitor’s bullpen.  I noticed a young man streak to the spot directly above the ball and start to fish into his backpack.  After pulling out a few simple supplies, the young man dropped a cup on a string device into the bullpen.  Interested, I continued watching him.  A few seconds later, he reeled up the ball. 

Very nicely done.  He looked efficient and confident in the process.  All executed 20 feet from two separate security guards.  They never batted an eye.

I moved back to left field.  Soon, a ball was hit into the gigantic black hole called a bullpen.  It came to a rest about 15 feet from the back wall. 
After a few tosses to knock it closer, BALL #7 was soon reeled in. 
I gave it to the nearest kid.

About 5 minutes later, another ball was hit into the Sox bullpen.  It was a little further out.  I didn’t want to chance it, so, the aforementioned ballhawk with the cup trick, went to work on it.  He was using his glove to try to knock it closer but it wasn’t working and he was getting nervous.

That’s when this guy intervened…
Thumbnail image for 6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 004.jpg…A’s pitcher Dallas Braden.

Dallas noticed the young ballhawk attempting to glove-trick the ball out of the Sox bullpen.  So, he quietly went up to the gate that leads into the bullpen.  Then, he laid down on his stomach and trench-crawled to the corner and up the steps.  He paused for a second, then sprinted toward the ball.  He did a hook-slide next to it, picked it up and in one motion…fired it back onto the field.  Then, began to jump up and down with his hands above his head.

Here’s a file photo of Dallas Braden…
dallas braden.jpg

About 20 minutes prior, Braden was eating a lollipop.  A fan near me asked him, “do you always eat a lollipop before the game?”
To which Dallas Braden responded, “nah, I usually drink a 40 before the game.”

Funny stuff.

The whole trench-crawl/ambush the baseball in the pen ordeal drew some attention.

Wilford Brimley, out of retirement from selling medical insurance and now working for the Chicago White Sox, scolded the young fan…
6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 001.jpg…damn whipper-snappers.

6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 002.jpg6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 003.jpgI’m not quite sure what was accomplished.  It looks like the young ballhawk gets his glove and string back.  ???

Wilford exits the bullpen…
wilford brimley.jpg 6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 006.jpg

See the resemblance??

Buy Liberty Mutual dammit!!

!!!!

As it turns out, the young ballhawk is a member of the Ballhawk League!

His name is Greg and he’s from New York. 
He keeps track of his stats on Zack Hample’s blog.

A picture of Greg and I…
6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 007.jpg…before the game.

When BP was wrapping up, I was camped above the A’s dugout.  When the players and coaches ran off the field, BALL #8 was tossed to me by A’s Coach TYE WALLER.

BALL #9 was tossed up to me by the aforementioned DALLAS BRADEN.

A young Oakland Athletics pitcher by the name of Vin Mazzaro was set to make his major league debut on this evening.
Apparently, he’s one of Oakland’s young guns.  So, I grabbed a front row seat above the visitor’s bullpen to watch him warmup for his big debut.

Here’s a few shots I took…
6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 018.jpg
Thumbnail image for 6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 030.jpgVIN MAZZARO 6/2/09 pitching line…
6.1 IP/3 hits allowed/0 earned runs.

During the game…
6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field 036.jpg…I consumed my customary White Sox meal.

Nothing further to report, sir/ma’am.

Final score:

Happy Youngster 9
A’s 5
Sox 0…
6_2_09 A's vs White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field.jpg                     9 TOTAL BASEBALLS (8 are shown-1 was given away to a kid).

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 9 total balls 6/02/09

3 batted balls (all caught on fly)

5 toss-up balls

1 device




ATTENDANCE:  20,519

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
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
___________________

174 baseballs (26 games)
6.69 average per game

6 Comments

I loved Dallas crawling to the ball!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Nice recovery my friend! I guess the A’s are more laid back in non-divisional parks, because they seem to be a little more focused here. Way to put that dork in his place. “Steal”, what a horrible word to use in the ballhawk sense. Those people need to get a clue or keep their mouth shut. Keep up the good work brotha!
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

you should’ve got Andrew Bailey to sign that ball, he’s gonna be a star some day.

http://eatsleepmlb.mlblogs.com

Thanks for the shout-out, Nick! Love the description of my scenario in the bullpen. Well, it was nice meeting you last week. Hopefully, we’ll be running into each other again.

-Greg

JULIA…
It was funny/odd to see.

BRIAN…
ballhawking is like politics, in a sense. Everyone gets all worked up to give their opinions. Except, politics is serious stuff. Ballhawking is for fun.
RELAX PEOPLE!!!

JONNNNNN…
6 N’s-got it!
He was pretty cool, too.

GREGB123…
You’re welcome. It was nice meeting you, sir.

“Happy”

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