August 2009

8/26/09 @ Miller Park

My wife was running late from work, therefore, I was now running late to the ballpark.  I did not get to the ballpark until 5:55 pm.  There was nothing I could do to avoid it, so, I had to suck it up and make the best of it.  Batting Practice usually ends around 6:20/6:25 pm.  That gave me 25-30 minutes.

I’ll describe how I snagged Ball #1 with a few pictures…
8_26_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg

…the black wall is approx. 5′ feet high and separates my row of seats from the Toyota Tundra Territory seats.  The yellow smiley face depicts where I was standing when DREW SUTTON was taking his cuts.  Soon, Sutton would lift one in my direction. 

Unfortunately, it would carry over my head and bounce in the front row of the Tundra Territory where it came to a rest.

In my overly zealous state, the following picture shows the route I took to obtain the ball…
8_26_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

…you guessed it.  Straight over the top of that wall.  I did it from a standing position without a running start and without falling. 

I had to or one of these two would have…
8_26_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…Casey and Matt.  Two young ballhawks with similar enthusiasm.

Who says white men can’t jump??

I’ll tell you who-
the usher in my section. 

He immediately came marching over and demanded that I throw the ball back on the field.  I cocked my arm back to throw it onto the field and then I paused, wondering if he was for real??  He then snatched the ball out of my hand and threw the ball back onto the field himself!!  Wow.  Take it easy.
I understand he has a job to do, but, c’mon…don’t take it so personal.

I would go on to snag three more baseballs (all on the fly).
Ball #2 was off the bat of LAYNCE NIX (easy grab).  
Balls #3 & #4 were off the bat of JOEY VOTTO.  The cool thing?  They were on consecutive pitches.  That rarely ever happens.

BP ended I somehow managed to snag four (4) baseballs in 25 minutes without asking a single player for a ball.  Some days I just don’t feel like begging for a baseball.  I rarely ever feel comfortable doing it.  But, this season I’m doing it for the sake of the Ballhawk League.

During the game, I hung out a bit with two of my favorite Brewers fans…
8_26_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg

…”Big Joe” and his cute little niece Madison.

The game went into extra innings for the 2nd consecutive day. 
Brewers lost in ten…4-3. 

I did not try for any warmup balls.  I did not try for any tossups, foul balls, ump balls, etc.
As is usually the case, I only focused on game home runs.

Blahblahblah…the Brewers season has been a major disappointment.

One of the cooler things of the day…
8_26_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg8_26_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 013.jpg
…analyzing the marks on this baseball.

Three staggered green marks across one of the side panels?!

How do you think that got there??

Day’s snags…
8_26_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 012.jpg

only three (3) are shown because one crazy usher tossed one of them back onto the field.

Okay, he’s not crazy, but, he was pretty **********…

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 4 total balls 8/26/09

4 batted baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  35,084

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
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
8/26/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

306 baseballs (50 games)
6.12 average per game

…400 baseballs snagged this season is within reach…

“Happy”

8/25/09 @ Miller Park

Wanna know how early I arrived at the ballpark?

So early,…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg …that this guy was still on the clock.

Seeing that is a first.

So was the way I snagged Ball #1.  It came via tossup from one of the fine EMT’s (employed by Bell Ambulance) working the game.  He and his partner walked into the bullpen and started to pick up the 3 or 4 strays that were lying in the Brewers pen.  One of which, found its way into my glove.

fielder muscle.jpg
Speaking of finding a way into my glove, the big boy pictured to the right has contributed many baseballs to my collection. 

To date, I have snagged 3 of his 147 career dingers.
Hopefully, many more to come…I’m due for another one of his.

Balls #2 (on fly) and #3 (on bounce) were both hit by Prince. 

I love watching that guy hit.                                                                                                                                                                        PRINCE FIELDER   

       
When the rest of the stadium opened @ 5:30 pm, I ran up to the left field loge bleachers (2nd deck) in hopes of snagging a Casey McGehee homer. 
Turns out, I snagged two McGehee homers…both on the bounce.

That was it for the Brewers portion of BP. 
The time was 5:35 pm…time to change into Reds gear.

I stayed in left field for the first Reds group of hitters. 
Below me, these four (4) guys were shagging BP…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

…including WLADIMIR BALENTIEN. 

For the longest time, I could not figure out who he was.  For whatever reason, his name eluded me.  Nobody seemed to know who he was.  But, it didn’t seem to matter much, as Mr. Balentien soon lobbed a baseball backwards like a hook shot toward another fellow ballhawk named Casey (you can read his blog by clicking here).  The ball ended up short and fell back to the field.  Balentien tried a 2nd time with the same result.  By this time, I had grabbed a spot on the railing where this was taking place.  When Balentien tried the backwards hook a 3rd time, I reached way over the railing and managed to pin the ball between my glove and the concrete facade below.  I slowly gained control of it and had #6 on the day.

I continued to move around, eventually, snagging tossups from these two dudes…
micah owings.jpg…I gave this ball to one of my favorite ushers to give to a kid.
MICAH OWINGS
nick masset.jpg

NICK MASSET

The Masset tossup was my 300th baseball snagged on the season.

A quick pose with # 300…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg

Unfortunately, that was it for BP.

During the game, Reds pitcher Arthur Rhodes spotted these four girls…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg
…standing behind the bullpen. 

He tried to toss one of the girls (red arrow) a baseball.  I was talking to a few people and standing nearby when someone said, “hey, there’s a baseball.”  When I turned around, a baseball was rolling underneath an empty seat.  Surprised as hell, I walked over to it and picked it up.  I looked down into the bullpen and saw Arthur Rhodes pointing to one of the girls.  So, I pointed to the one with the blue tank-top and he nodded.  So, I gave it to her. 
That’s when I yelled, “Arthur!”  When he looked up at me I gave him the thumbs up. 
(No, the ball didn’t have a hotel room # written on it anywhere)

The game ended up going into extra innings. 

Check out where all the die-hard Brewers fans went…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 018.jpg8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 019.jpg8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg

…someone forgot to tell those “diehards” that when the game is tied after 9 innings, the teams play extra frames.

The Brewers ended up blowing it…what else is new?
This season has been a disaster.

After the game, I decided I had to go for double-digits.  When the final out was recorded, I darted down the staircase for an ump ball.
jim joyce umpire.jpg

The man hooked me up.

He kept trying to find a worthier recipient than me.  After scanning the crowd about 5 or 6 times, he half-heartedly underhanded me one.

Thanks Jimbo.

Double-digits, baby.

JIM JOYCE

Eight (8) of the ten (10) baseballs snagged…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 020.jpg

…two (2) were given away.



2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 8/25/09

4 batted baseballs

6 tossup baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  29,481

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
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

302 baseballs (49 games)
6.16 average per game

The Curse of Coghlan

Remember this photo?
Thumbnail image for 5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 068.jpg

It was taken 5/13/09 after I snagged Chris Coghlan’s 1st career home run.

I snagged 12 baseballs that day.
That was the last time I would reach double-digits…that is, until this past Monday 8/17/09.

I had ten or more baseballs snagged in seven (7) of my 1st eighteen (18) games this season.
The next twenty-nine (29) games…nada.

Finally, I reached the coveted double-digit plateau in the 30th game since Coghlan.

Is the Curse of Coghlan over??
I think so.

To commemorate the event…
Curse of Coghlan 2009 001.jpg

…I thought I would send Chris a little gift…

Curse of Coghlan 2009 002.jpg

…whaddya think??

The note reads:

Chris-

“Hard feelings aside, congrats on a fine rookie season!
Good luck down the stretch.”


“Happy”

Of course…all in good fun.

8/17/09 @ US Cellular Field

Remember the Carlos Quentin home run hit back on 8/04/09 that bounced off the metal roof and landed on top of the shrubs at U.S. Cellular Field?? 

Does this refresh your memory (photos taken August 4th, 2009)…
Thumbnail image for 8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 027.jpg
…???

How about this…
Thumbnail image for 8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 032.jpg
…???
(check out the links above for a quick refresher)

More on this later…

Radar showed a massive green blob of rain heading straight toward Chicago.  After monitoring the green blob for around 7 hours (with no change), I left work at 1pm and headed to Miller Park.
At Miller Park, I was going to meet up with two good young ballhawks named Casey & Matt.  They’re regulars at Miller Park and they’re both cool dudes.  Casey has his very own ballhawking blog that you can check out by clicking here.  From there, we were all going to pile in my truck and head down to the Waukegan train station.

After approx. a 1hr. drive, we arrived at the train station.  Unfortunately, we missed the 2:10 train because the drive-thru at White Castle took WAY too long.  Oh well…we would catch the 3:10 train.

There was about an hour to kill…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 009.jpg
…so, we played some catch.

Followed by…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 016.jpg
…more catch.

If there was an errant throw or an overthrow into the high grass…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 018.jpg
…no worries.  I brought a few extra.

Finally, we were on the train to Chicago…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 019.jpg

After a quick ride on the Red Line subway, we arrived at US Cellular Field. 
We wasted no time before grabbing our spot in line…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 022.jpg8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 020.jpg

That’s when a young man approached me and said, “Nick?”

I turned around and quickly realized it was Alex from the Ballhawk League.
Alex is 13 yrs. old and has a great ballhawking future ahead of him. 
Check out Alex’s blog by clicking here.  He’s one cool kid.

The aforementioned future ballhawk star…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 023.jpg

…and I. 

When the gates to the stadium opened at 5:30 pm, all four of us sprinted up the long concourse, flashed our 100 level tickets to security and entered the seating area. 

Would there be BP??

YES!!  The BP GODS have spoken!

When I saw the field was occupied by numerous Sox players, I discovered that I had an extra gear.  I ran all the way down the 1st baseline, around the rightfield foul pole, behind the batter’s eye and eventually, made it to the left field bleachers.

The 1st thing I did was to scan the moat for any glove-trick opportunities.  I spotted one out in left-center.  After about 10 seconds, I reeled up Ball #1.  As I was reeling it up, an unknown Sox player hit one directly
to me.  My glove was dangling in the moat at the time, so, all I could do was stick out my barehand.  It ended up bouncing off the warning track and then bouncing off my barehand…ending up back on the field.  Luckily, White Sox reliever Randy Williams took notice of my effort and rewarded me with the baseball via toss-up for #2.

When I removed the baseball I had just glove-tricked, things took a turn for the worse. 
The rubber band was dangling from one side of the glove…it had snapped.  Oh no!!

As luck would have it, the White Sox were finishing up with BP and were running off the field.  I knew I would have about 2-3 minutes before the balls would be flying once again. 

Quickly, I removed the old rubber band and grabbed a new one from my backpack.  I bit it to make one long rubber string (I have to do this so I can string the rubber band through and around the stringing in my glove) and tied it through.  After a 3-4 minute delay, I was back in business. 

Things started to happen really fast from here on out. 

Ball #3 was snagged on the bounce off the bat of Miguel Olivo.
Ball #4 was then glove-tricked out of the moat.

Here’s a blurry shot of me reeling in #4…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 025.jpg

A few minutes later, a ball was hit out to deep center.  Royals coach Rusty Kuntz (cool name, huh?) waddled out to retrieve it. 

I said, “coach, any chance I could get that or do I have to earn it?”
Rusty responded, “you have to earn it!”

Just when I let my guard down for a second and looked away, I saw the Rusty ball descending down toward me.  In a defensive reaction, the ball clanked off my glove and fell into the moat.  Dammit!!!  I looked a little foolish missing that ball.  Whatever, I would glove-trick it.  Or so I thought.  Out of nowhere, came two brothers with a glove-trick of their own.  They were quicker than me to get their glove-trick lowered, so, I let them go for it.  After they fumbled with it for 4-5 minutes, I told them I would take care of it.  After about 30 seconds, I reeled up Ball #5.

billy butler.jpg

Ball #6 came off the bat of
BILLY BUTLER.

When it was hit, I hurdled three rows of bleachers, ran over about 5 feet and put my glove up as high as I could reach. 

Smack…on the fly.

A new group was taking the cage.  So, I scanned all the moats…nothing.  I had a weird feeling about the gap behind the centerfield fence.  Nobody was paying any attention to that area. 
When I peered over the railing, this is what I saw…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 024.jpg…mwahaha!!
Ball #7 took about 7 seconds to reel up. 

john buck.jpg

When I was putting #7 in the backpack, the dude pictured to the right lifted one high into the air.  I ran through a few aisles, jumped over a few rows of bleachers and made the grab on the fly. 

I was locked in.

                                                                                                                JOHN BUCK

A bunch of lefties were now hitting for the Royals, so, I moved to right field.  It was crowded. 

That’s where I met a really cool guy named Ben. 
Ben asked if I was “The Happy Youngster.”  I told him I was and we began to chat like we knew each other for years.  Ben was wearing this really slick Dan Quisenberry Royals jersey.  Oh yeah, Ben has a collection of jerseys that would blow your mind.  According to “jerseyboy” (his handle on the mlblogs network), he has over 1500 jerseys!!  Holy crap!  I told Ben I would catch up with him after BP (picture to follow).

After about 6-7 minutes, MIKE JACOBS launched one in my direction.  I scrambled through the aisle like my *** was on fire.  I found my spot and made the snag on the fly. 

Booyah…#9. 
As an added bonus, it was an HHH Metrodome commemorative baseball.
Woohoo!

I *needed* to get to double-digits to break the Coghlan curse.
(if you don’t know by now, don’t ask)

Unfortunately, BP soon ended.

As BP ended, the rain began to fall.
There truly is a BP God…I swear.

As the majority of the stadium attendees sought refuge, I relished in it. 
I’ve mentioned before – roofs are overrated.  I enjoy an occasional rain delay. 

A rain delay is what I got…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 033.jpg
                                                                                    &
nbsp;                    
During the delay, we wandered around the stadium. 

That’s when I saw *it*

SweetMotherofGod…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 027.jpg

8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 028.jpg
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 029.jpg
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 030.jpg
!!!  (these pictures above were taken August 17th, 2009)

Do you see it?  Holy ****!!

The Carlos Quentin home run hit on August 4th was still lying out on the batter’s eye two weeks later!  Same spot…same ball.  EXACTLY the same ball.

I had to get that ball for the following reasons:

  • it would make a cool story
  • it would give me double-digits for the 1st time since 5/13/09
  • it would give me 52 career game home run balls snagged

I just *had* to figure out a way to get that ball.

After about an hour rain-delay, the weather began to clear.
That’s when a rainbow appeared above US Cellular Field…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 036.jpg

In the top of the 2nd inning, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a home run into the White Sox bullpen.  Would it be glove-trickable??  Alex (who was sitting next to me in the 2nd row above the Royals dugout) and I were about to find out.  So, we raced out to left field to take a look.

When we made it to left, we grabbed a couple seats in about the 7th row.  When the time was right, we made it down to the railing of the Sox bullpen.

Here was my view…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 038.jpg

…see the home run ball? 

If that would have stayed at the rear of the bullpen, it would have been glove-tricked. 
No doubt about it. 

Alex and I stayed in the 7th row behind the bullpen.  When the Sox 1/2 of the 2nd rolled around, JAYSON NIX launched one straight in our direction.  I started to dart down the staircase.  A fat guy in the 5th row acted like it was coming straight at his head.  He just froze in the aisle and put his arms out.  After I maneuvered around Fat-Man, I made it down to the front row.  As I extended my glove-hand all the way out over the railing, the home run ball bounced off the bottom of the rear wall of the bullpen and bounced back toward the front of the pen, coming to a rest about 1 foot away from the Betancourt home run.  I had just come about 6 feet from a game home run.  Damn.
Immediately, Sox Coach Juan Nieves ran out and grabbed the Nix home run.  In the process, he kicked the Royals home run and made a gesture with his hand, pinching his nose as if something stunk.  Alex and I were both in the front row waiting for the toss-up.  Nieves launched it over our heads. 
Where did it land, you ask??  Directly in the seat Alex vacated in the 7th row.
Double-damn…the kid took it hard but I told him he made the right decision by getting to the front row.  There’s just no way of knowing that ball would have been tossed 7 rows up.

After more on-again/off-again rain…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 040.jpg
…the White Sox defeated the Royals 8-7.

After the game, I tried for an ump ball from Chad Fairchild…with no luck.

I wandered over to the Royals dugout for a toss-up ball…with no luck.

That’s when I met back up with Ben (aka-jerseyboy).
Here’s Ben and I after the game by the visitor’s dugout…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 042.jpg

…Ben, I hope we cross paths again soon.  It was a pleasure meeting you.

I said my goodbyes to Alex (and his Dad) and told my friends I was determined to end the Coghlan curse.

BEGIN MISSION CARLOS QUENTIN HOME RUN BALL:

For various reasons (that should be obvious to most), I cannot provide exact details.

I can say this:

  • I was alone and unassisted.
  • I did obtain the home run ball directly.
  • It was, without a doubt, the home run ball hit on 8/04/09 by Carlos Quentin.
  • It was partially waterlogged.
  • I was the 1st fan t
    o obtain possession of it.
  • While unorthodox, it counts toward my career home run stats.
  • I did have a few witnesses (from afar) for the majority of the ball’s retrieval.

If you see me, ask me about it.

Here I am with Career Game Home Run Ball #52
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 043.jpg
An injury incurred along the way…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 045.jpg

As for the ball…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 046.jpg
…it was starting to deteriorate and had a few brown spots on it.

But, at least the sweet-spot was clean…8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 047.jpg
…I’ve gone completely nuts.

The ten (10) baseballs snagged…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 050.jpg

…with the game home run ball in the front.

What a day…

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 8/17/09

5 batted baseballs (including 1 game home run hit by Carlos Quentin on 8/04/09)

1 tossup baseball

4 device baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  36,703

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
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

292 baseballs (48 games)
6.08 average per game

8/16/09 @ Miller Park

It was Sunday.  I was anxious. 
A day game you say?
Just this once.

Without further ado…my 1st home day game of the 2009 season.
(Opening Day doesn’t count)…

I walked up to the stadium and noticed the roof was closed…
8_16_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg

…roofs are overrated.

I did not have a ticket for the game.  So, I utilized an extremely cheap ticket option…
8_16_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg

…it’s called “The Uecker Line.”

On the day of each and every home game, exactly 108 tickets are sold to the first 108 people who stand in line at Window 12.  Each ticket can be had for the modest price of $1. 
Yeah, just a buck.  The seat location??  Named after beloved Brewers radio announcer Bob Uecker, the seats are located on the terrace level (top deck) behind home plate. 
The catch??  Of course there’s a catch…the seats are obstructed view seats that are located behind two gigantic green support pillars.  But hey, it gets you in the stadium.  Hardly anyone who buys “Uecker seats” actually sit in those seats, anyway.  So, who really cares, right??

Be advised:  If you want to purchase four (4) Uecker tickets, all four people in your group need to be in line or standing close-by.  If you want to purchase six (6) tickets, all six people need to be in line, etc, etc.  Also, tickets don’t go on sale until the gates to the stadium open.  Which, as you all know, is bad for ballhawking.  Who wants to be standing in line for tickets when others are already snagging baseballs??

But, as I already mentioned, it was Sunday.  I knew BP would not start until 11:30ish. 
The gates were opening at 11:00am, so, I had time.
You see, on Sundays at Miller Park, only one team takes BP.  Of course, the home team Brewers get first chance at it.  If they decline, they offer it to the other team.

Here’s my buck…
8_16_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg
…and…

…here’s my ticket…
8_16_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg

…!!

Not a bad deal, eh?? 

Okay, so, technically speaking…I could attend every home game at Miller Park for the grand sum of $81!!

That’s if I had a ton of extra time to stand in line to buy a ticket for every single game.
A good option for many…just not me.
(Remember, these tickets are not sold in advance)

When I FINALLY got my ticket (on game day, window 12 is *usually* just used for the sale of Uecker tickets-but not this time.  I swear two guys were applying for jobs at the window it took so long), I entered the stadium and observed a BP prepared field.  The only problem was that there were no players.  No problem, I thought.  Soon enough.

wandy rodriguez.jpg

In the meantime, I noticed Astros pitcher WANDY RODRIGUEZ was signing autographs down by the Houston dugout.

So, I joined the crowd and eventually, I handed him my ticket stub.  Wandy was signing a baseball card with a blue sharpie at the time he grabbed my ticket. 

When he was finished signing the card, I said, “You can sign with the same marker if you would like.”

What does he do??  He hands the kid his signed card and the marker and grabs another fans’ baseball and ballpoint pen.  He signs the ball and then signs my ticket stub with the same pen.  That’s great.  Just great.

Here’s the stub…
8_16_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg

…oh well, no big deal.

I’m used to it by now.

When BP finally got rolling, I was up in the left field loge bleachers.
I ended up snagging a Mike Rivera bomb on the bounce for Ball #1. 
I was relieved that I was on the board. 

When Brewers slugger Prince Fielder started to hit, I exited the left field bleachers and found myself standing right in big Prince’s home run alley in right field.

I wanted to snag a Prince Fielder BP homer for the little lady pictured below…
8_16_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg
…seated in the middle.

Her name is Lexi and she’s pictured above with her sister (left) and friend (right).
Lexi was celebrating her 11th birthday with her family at the ballpark (no better place to be).

As you can see by the picture, I DID manage to snag her a Prince Fielder ball. 
Happy B-Day Lexi!

My 3rd and final ball on the day came via a tossup from Brewers 3B Casey McGehee. 
Casey is one cool dude.  If you see him, be good to him…he’s one of the good guys.

Near the end of BP, check out who stopped by…
8_16_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg
…that’s Todd (Pops) and Tim (son) Cook.
They are easily one of the coolest Father/Son duos I have ever met in my entire life. 
I met Todd & Tim for the very 1st time back on 6/10/09 at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
I just can’t find enough good things to say about those two…they rock!

After we chatted it up for awhile, we parted ways.  We would be seeing each other the following day down at US Cellular Field in Chicago.  Yay!

I had made an agreement with my wife that I would leave after the 3rd inning to take care of a prior commitment.  No questions asked…no problemo.

Baseball Is Life…for sure.  But, sometimes there’s other things, ya’ know?

Two (2) of the three (3) baseballs snagged…
8_16_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpg

…one (1) was given to Lexi.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 3 total balls 8/16/09

2 batted baseballs

1 tossup baseball

ATTENDANCE:  41,863

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
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
___________________

282 baseballs (47 games)
6.00 average per game

8/15/09 @ Miller Park

We had a family get-together planned, so, I decided I would attend BP and then leave to go to the party.  I rarely ever *just* attend BP, but it made sense on this day.
That’s exactly what I did.

The gates at Miller Park open 2 hrs. prior to gametime on Saturday and Sunday games that fall between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  So, at 4:05 pm, the gates opened their arms to the waiting guests.

After watching 15 minutes of bunts and singles, my favorite Brewers player, Ryan Braun, launched one high into the air.  I could tell it was a bomb, so, I turned my back to the ball and started to sprint up one of the staircases located in the left field loge bleachers.  When I reached around the 12th row, I turned around to find the ball.  A second or two later, it landed a couple rows deeper.  That’s where I gloved it on a bounce for my 1st ball on the day.
Yay for Braun…he’s the real deal.

When the Astros came out to hit, ‘Stros’ bullpen catcher Strech Suba was trying to get into the visitor’s bullpen.  For whatever reason, the gate to the bullpen was locked from the inside…with nobody around!  He struggled with the door for about 1 minute or so when I spoke up. 

I said, “Hey Strech, it’s locked from the inside.”

He said, “Is anyone in there?”

I responded, “Nobody.”

After about 10 more minutes, two (2) groundskeepers came walking through the bleacher seats behind me.  They walked up to the front row and then jumped down into the bullpen to unlock the bullpen door.  First time I had ever seen that.

Strech thanked them and entered the bullpen.  By that time, the Astros had hit 4 or 5 baseballs into the bullpen (oddly enough, there were only about 8 home runs hit during the entire Astros BP – 4 or 5 of which landed in the right field bullpen).
BTW, I absolutely hate the Miller Park bullpens…but, that topic needs an entry of its own. 

Strech started to pick them up when I said, “At least we know the bullpen is secure.”

Laughing, he responded, “Yeah, no kidding.”

When he picked up a baseball that was lying nearby, I asked him if there was any chance to get it from him.  Without hesitation, he tossed it up to me.  About 3 seconds later, another guy about my age asked for a ball.  Strech told him he was too old. 
Ha!  Pays to kissass be nice.

Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee were hitting in the same group.  I had a decision to make.  Should I stay in right field with less competition or move to left and compete against everyone and their mother??  I decided to bank with Berkman and less competition.

It did not pay off. 

Baby-face Berkman did not hit a single home run to the 2nd deck! 
Carlos Lee, you ask? 
He launched about 6 shots to deep left-center field.  Ahhh!!
lance berkmanclown.JPG

For that, Lance gets the clown treatment.

BP was winding down, the Astros were sucking and I only had 2 baseballs.

bud norris.jpg

Quickly, I spotted this young pitcher shagging in left-center field…

…BUD NORRIS.

When he fielded one nearby, I politely asked for it to be tossed up.  He turned around and lobbed it right to me for #3.  He was totally cool about it and even gave me a wave and a grin.

I’ll be rooting for him.

My 4th and final ball on the day came via the glove-trick out of the Brewers bullpen.  There was only one and I was able to knock it closer (something I rarely waste my time doing because of strict rules) and reel it up.

Four (4) balls and BP was over.  Time to head back to the party.

8_15_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg
8_15_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 4 total balls 8/15/09

1 batted baseball

2 tossup baseballs

1 device baseball

ATTENDANCE:  42,952


The infamous Houston Astros “H” can be seen in full-force above.

How lame is that?






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
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

279 baseballs (46 games)
6.07 average per game

PLEASE ALLOW ME TO RANT:

Take a look at the following photos…when I saw this, I wanted to throw up.  Luckily, the “prized” possessions were tucked safely behind display glass.

MAT GAMEL GAME USED BAT:  $1200
8_15_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg


BILL HALL GAME USED HELMET:  $800

8_15_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg


AUTHENTIC MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL:  $25
Thumbnail image for 8_15_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg

Are you kidding me??

Mat Gamel was just sent down to the minors and Billy Hall was just released!!
What are the Brewers trying to pull??  Who are they trying to fool??

I know the team needs money for starting pitching and all, but this is ridiculous.

Let’s review:
I catch a home run ball that I cherish and ask for two (2) bats in trade.  Team says no.
Team charges out the wazoo for game used items of scrubs.  I say no and so should everyone.  Craziness…absolute craziness.

Does anyone else hear the rift between teams and fans widening?? 
I sure as hell do.

Insane…whaddya think?

8/12/09 @ Miller Park

I was watching BP from the crammed confines of Friday’s Front Row Bullpen patio.
As time rolled on, not one-not two-but three glove-trick opportunities presented themselves over the 1st 30 minutes. 
That’s two more than usual for those that are scoring at home.
Subsequently, all three were reeled up and all three were given away to smaller Brewers fans.

NOTE:  For those out there that say ballhawks take baseballs away from other people (kids, in particular), pay attention.  Not only do most of us (ballhawks) give a good percentage of our baseballs away, but we also create opportunities that normally would not be there.  For instance, take the glove-trick as an example.  Those three baseballs would not have made it into the hands of those kids if not for the glove-trick.  Those baseballs would have been picked up and tossed back in, only to end up back in the BP bucket for more use.

The guy pictured to the right is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.
casey mcgehee.jpgHe’s still considered a rookie.
He’s taken advantage of every opportunity.
He has a great attitude.
He treats the fans well.
AND
Most importantly, he’s a great Dad (click here).
His name??

CASEY McGEHEE

Casey ripped one onto the porch that almost hit a teenage girl. 
PEOPLE!!  You must pay attention.  Unless, of course, you like huge welts, black eyes, a deformed face, a fat lip, missing teeth, dizziness, shortness of breath, recurring headaches, loss of hearing or eyesight and hospital/emergency rooms.
I know it’s cool to hang out at the ballpark and all, but, when baseballs are flying all over the place-look the **** out!!

Anyway, the ball went underneath that young girls’ seat.  I picked it up on a small bounce and gave that one away, too. 
In case you’re wondering…I didn’t give it to the clueless girl.  I gave it to a nearby kid.

4 baseballs to 4 different kids.  That took care of every kid that was seated in the patio section.

clayton richard.jpg

When the Padres came out, I managed to get these two pitchers to each toss me a baseball.

CLAYTON RICHARD

edward mujica.jpg

EDWARD MUJICA

Mujica was a tough customer.  After I cracked a few jokes, made a few hand gestures and made it clear that I wasn’t going away…he finally tossed one to me.

That was it for BP.

As far as the game is concerned…
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg
…”Big Ballhawk Mike” sat with us for the game.

I was fortunate enough to hear his Tim Naehring home run story for the 1000th time (unofficial count).  If you ever run into “Big Mike,” ask him about it.  He’d love to tell you. 
Or, maybe just ask me when you see me…I’ve heard it a million times over.  It’s almost as if I was there.  But, I wasn’t.  If I was, the Naehring homer would have been mine.
Cocky?  Nah.  Confident?  Definitely.

Check out this close-up…
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…of one sweet ketchup stain.
I warned “Big Mike” about the exploding ketchup pumps at the concession stands. 
Did he listen???  Nooooooooo.

No homers hit during the game.

Final score:
Padres 6
Happy 6
Brewers 5

Damn…still can’t outscore the Padres!

The two baseballs I took home…
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 037.jpg

…career #’s 924 & 925.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 6 total balls 8/12/09

1 batted baseball

2 tossup baseballs

3 device baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  38,753

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
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
___________________

275 baseballs (45 games)
6.11 average per game

CHECK THIS OUT!!
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 036.jpg

A few people told me I was in a picture that’s framed and hanging on the wall in the concourse down the right field line.

Sure enough…
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 035.jpg
…that’s me!

The picture was taken during the celebration after the Brewers clinched the Wild Card.
Cool stuff.

8/11/09 @ Miller Park

The Brewers are playing like the Nationals but their home attendance is like the Yankees.
Is there nothing else to do in Milwaukee?  Are Brewers fans that diehard?  Is it because they tasted a little success the year before?

It wasn’t long ago that the stands at Miller Park were empty.  The team stunk it up on the field and people didn’t bother to come out.  My oh my, how things have changed. 
Are many Brewers fans fair-weather?
Figure that one out and get back to me-because I’ve never left…win or lose.

When I entered the bullpen patio, two young ballhawks were already in full swing…
8_11_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…that’s Casey (left) and Matt (right).
They’re both good kids and they’re both pretty good at ballhawking.
Casey is approaching 100 baseballs snagged for the ’09 season…not too shabby.

The Brewers pitchers were hitting, so, I headed to the lower outdoor patio (it’s more in pull territory rather than deep left-center).  Soon, Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo yanked one that I managed to snag on the bounce.  I thought it was going to hit the facade up above but it managed to sneak by.  When I picked it up, it was spinning on the ground like a top.

Anyone recognize this former Brewers player??
gantner signed photo.jpg

That’s former 2B Jim “Gumby” Gantner.  “Gumby” now serves as a part-time coach for the Brewers.

Well, he walked into the bullpen below us and started to pick up a few of the balls that had bounced in there.  After a few requests, he tossed one up straight to me.  I’m pretty sure it was meant for someone else.  ??

“Gumby” was the best at turning the double-play back in his day.  But, on this day, his arm was not up to par. 

After Brewers 3B Casey McGehee tossed one up to me, Brewers stud LF Ryan Braun bombed one to me.  It was an easy and uncontested grab.  I flipped the Braun bomb to a cameraman that was standing nearby.  After all, most of the Brewers camera guys have been cool to me over the years.

kevin correia.jpg

When the Padres came out, I ended up getting a tossup from the guy pictured to the right————————>  KEVIN CORREIA.

I was on a roll…but, that’s when things got dry. 

The 1st group of Padres hitters included the following:
ADRIAN GONZALEZ
CHASE HEADLEY
WILL VENABLE

One measly home run was hit by these three lefties.  Huh??  Whatever.

This is “the show”, show me something!!

I headed back to left field.

That’s when this dude took his hacks.
kyle blanks.jpg

KYLE BLANKS

I’m talking monster shots.  If you ever see the Padres take BP, stand in deep left-center field when this guy is hitting.  Holy crap!!

Just ask these two people…
8_11_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

…who were both hit in the eye.

By far, one of the weirdest things I have ever witnessed at a professional baseball game.

PICTURE THIS:  Kyle Blanks is hitting.  He hits one into the left field bleachers directly at the guy pictured above (holding his right eye and wearing the light blue Brewers shirt).  Guy above attempts to catch it with his baseball glove.  It ricochets off of his glove and strikes him directly in the right eye.  BUT WAIT!!  That’s not all.  The same ball that ricocheted off of the dude’s eye strikes his girlfriend (the girl holding her right eye) in the eye, too!

Same ball.  Boyfriend/girlfriend.  Both in the right eye.
Weird, man.  Weird.

Needless to say, the players on the field had a “field-day” with it. 
Especially, these two…
8_11_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg
…Padres pitchers Ryan Webb and Mat Latos.

Latos asked me what happened.  When I told him, he laughed and covered his face with his glove.  Webb did the same.  Who said baseball players aren’t sensitive??
Latos went over to retrieve the ball (after it was finished bouncing off of eyes, it went back onto the field). 
When he picked it up, he said,

“Hey!!  There’s mascara on this thing!”

By this time, all of the players standing in the outfield were turned around and staring at the two who had been hit.

One Padres pitcher said,

“Let’s see it.” 
Referring to the guy’s already swollen and black and blue eye.

When the guy took his hand away from his right eye, some players cringed and some laughed.  Mat Latos then tossed up the ball that had hit them to someone nearby to give to them.  Before he threw it, one of the Padres pitchers said,

“Catch it this time!”

I’m not making this stuff up…unbelievable.

After BP was concluded, I checked the Brewers pen for any glove-trick opportunities.
There was one.  After asking a few people if I could get on the railing, the ball was “tricked” for #6 on the day.  Without hesitation, I handed it to the kid who had given up his spot on the rail for me.

Here I am standing with four (4)
of the six (6) baseballs I snagged during BP…
8_11_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg

…two (2) had already been given away.

About 10 minutes before the start of the game, I headed over to the Padres dugout.
It was there that I managed to get Heath Bell to sign a baseball for me.

Here’s a picture of Heath signing the ball…
8_11_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpg

…with fellow pitcher Luke Gregerson looking on.

The finished product…
8_11_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

…yay!

Here’s a picture I took of a well-known Milwaukee ballhawk…
8_11_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg

…Ballhawk Mike.

Mike is a great guy and has been ballhawking for over 20 years.  What started as a random home run catch back in 1987 in the bleachers of Milwaukee County Stadium has turned into a passion.  “Big Mike” has 20 career game home run snags.  Nothing to sneeze at. 

In the picture above, Mike is displaying career baseball #692.
Mike and I met back in 1997 and to this day, remain good friends.  If you see “Big Mike” at a Brewers game, stop and say “hello.”  He has some great stories.

The game started and the ***-whooping begun.  The fact that I sat through this entire game is a testament to my loyalty to the Brewers.

As a reward for sitting through this debacle, Tony Gwynn, Jr. tossed me his warmup ball before the start of the bottom half of the 9th.

This is not a photo of Gwynn, Jr. in jail…
8_11_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 012.jpg

…instead, it’s a photo taken immediately after he tossed me Ball #7 on the day.
I always liked him when he was with the Brewers.  Why we traded him for Jody Gerut will always be a mystery.

Final score:
Padres 13
Happy 7
Brewers 6

Outscored by the Padres…dammit!

The five (5) baseballs I took home…
8_11_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg

…two (2) were given away.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 7 total balls 8/11/09

2 batted baseballs

4 tossup baseball

1 device baseball

ATTENDANCE:  37,040 (for a Tuesday night game vs. the Padres!!???)

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
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
___________________

269 baseballs (44 games)
6.11 average per game

8/04/09 @ US Cellular Field

Thumbnail image for bobby abreu.jpg

Bobby Abreu was sitting on 249 career taters——————————–>

I had the following reasons to go to Chicago:

  1. I could possibly snag #250
  2. I was sitting on 51 careers homers snagged (such an awfully crooked #).
  3. I didn’t have to work the next day.
  4. I had my wife’s blessing.

What other reasons did I need??  So, off to Chicago I went.

I had missed my train from the Waukegan station and time was running out.  I was about to hit Chicago rush hour (******) when a brilliant idea came over me.

Check out where I ended up parking…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 003.jpg
…on a street called Waveland Ave. next to some old abandoned warehouse looking building on the North side of Chicago.

It really looked old and dumpy but I thought, what the hell, right?  What are the odds of it collapsing on my truck on that given day?

I walked two blocks to the Red Line train and before I knew it, I was at beautiful US Cellular Field.

The last time I made it to “The Cell,” (7/20/09) I ended up glove-tricking 7 baseballs! 
Would I have similar luck?

When the gates to the stadium opened, I did what I always do at this place.  I did a quick pass behind the right field bleachers to scope out any potential easter egg finds.
There were none.
I continued running behind the batter’s eye and into the left field seats.  I jogged down the 1st staircase in deep left-center field all the way down to the front row.  I checked the “moat” all the way down to the Sox bullpen.  No balls in the “moat.”  I then checked the Sox pen.  There was one sitting near the back wall of the bullpen.  I quickly pulled out the glove-trick and reeled up ball #1.

Thumbnail image for 8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 038.jpg

It was a WBC ball…

8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 039.jpg

…with a little scuff to the left of the logo…

8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 040.jpg

…and, of course, it had the ridiculous “PRACTICE” stamp on the sweetspot to let everyone know that the ball was only meant for practice.

Really???

I caught Ball #2 on the fly about 10 minutes later.  If I could have seen anything, I might be able to tell you who hit it.  The sun is so brutal at “The Cell.”  If I had to guess, I think it may have been Mike Napoli.

BP dragged on for awhile.  The stands were crowded and there wasn’t much room to roam.  Eventually, I moved over to right field.

I was not wearing an Angels shirt, but, I was wearing an old Angels hat.  A few Angels pitchers were shagging BP out in right-center field.

Angels pitcher Shane Loux fielded one and turned to the crowd.  I could see he was scanning the crowd for one of four things (in order):  an Angels fan (kid), any kid, a woman with D’s or any Angels fan.  He wanted to toss that baseball up.  So, I waved my right arm in a relaxed and non-frantic motion.  It was not working.  So, I took off the Angels cap and held it high in the air.  It was not working.  So, I pointed to the Angels cap that was high in the air.  Still no beans.  So, I started to do jumping jacks…just kidding.  I didn’t do jumping jacks, but, eventually Mr. Loux spotted me (either that or he couldn’t find a better recipient) and tossed it up-Ball #3.

Eventually, I found my way back to left field.  I wanted to do one last scan of the “moat” and the Sox pen before BP was over.  I spotted another ball lying near the back wall of the Sox bullpen and quickly reeled it up for #4 on the day.

Fellow ballhawk Dave Davison of Chicago stopped by to say, “hello.”  I’ve known Dave since the late 90′s.  He’s one of the best ballhawks around.  No doubt.

That was it for BP.  Not a real good showing.

In the 2nd inning, White Sox left fielder Carlos Quentin lifted one high into the air to straightaway centerfield for a home run.

No big deal, right?  Wrong.

Check out where the Quentin home run landed…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 011.jpg
…using the red arrows.

It bounced off that metal roof.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.

Look where it came to a rest…
8_04_09 Angels vs<br />
White Sox @ US Cellular Field 027.jpg” src=”http://mlblogsthehappyyoungster.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/8_04_0920angels20vs20white20sox2020us20cellular20field20027-thumb-550×412-14255913.jpg” class=”mt-image-none” width=”550″ height=”412″ /></a></span><br />…do you see it?</p>
<p>How about now…<br /><span class=8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 032.jpg
…holy schnikies!!

That was like baiting the trap.  Believe me, I thought about it…but better judgment kicked in.
I was salivating over snagging that baseball for the rest of the game.
It became a mini-obsession.  I had to let go…sigh.

(sigh)

When Bobby Abreu was at the plate, I was in position…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 020.jpg

…but he failed to hit one out.

I tried to ease the pain that was building inside…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 023.jpg

…by buying a churro from a friendly vendor named “Jeremiah.”

If you ever go to US Cellular Field, you have to get a churro…they are delicious.

I took in many views during the game…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 006.jpg8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 004.jpg
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 018.jpg

8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 017.jpg

The White Sox ended up winning on a walk-off hit by Scotty Podsednik. 
The crowd went nuts.

After a short train-ride back North on the RedLine, I was back at my truck.

That’s when I posed with a statue of some drunk guy with a microphone…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 033.jpg

…take it easy, Cubs fans.  I’m only kidding…

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 4 total balls 8/04/09

1 batted baseball

1 tossup baseball

2 device baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  30,228

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
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

262 baseballs (43 games)
6.09 average per game

Have I lost my mojo??

7/29/09 @ Miller Park

Miller Park is becoming a bit stale.  Then again, so are the Brewers.  That’s another story, though.

Some days, I wish I lived out on the east coast.  With so many ballparks in close proximity, one particular park would never grow tiresome.

Enough complaining…on with the story.

Like I so often do, I grabbed a table out on Friday’s bullpen patio.  This allowed me an extra 45-50 minutes of BP I normally would not have had.

For those that are curious, here’s what the bullpen patio looks like…
7_29_09 Nationals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

…out in left-center field.

You can enter the stadium early for batting practice but you must use the “Hot Corner” entrance located down the left field line.  Just tell the friendly usher (seemingly, the only one) you would like entrance to the park via Friday’s Front Row Bar & Grill.

Voila…you are in!!

It’s not all peaches and cream, though.  It’s always packed and there’s no room to move.  Also, there’s a 1 hr. time limit on the tables.  Did I mention the food is ridiculously overpriced?  Of course.
I’m lucky if I snag 1 ball before the regular gates open.  It’s tough.  I’ve almost entirely abandoned asking for toss-up baseballs, too.  Too many Brewers players recognize me (or maybe it’s the shirt?!).  Either way, asking for baseballs has always felt awkward. 
I’m just sayin’…ya’ know?

Bill Hall profile photo.jpgOne of the worst Brewers players of recent memory (but a total BP
stud), Bill Hall, stepped into the cage.  Soon, Billy started cranking
those 60 mph heaters out of the ballpark.  Eventually, Billy would hit one in my direction.  Since I didn’t have enough room to bend down and tie my shoe without knocking into 4-5 people, I had to jump over a railing to retrieve this one on the bounce.  Either way, it’s all good.

Where have you gone Billy Hall?? 
Awful.

Take a look at the camera platform that’s situated just to the left field side of the hitter’s eye…
Thumbnail image for 7_29_09 Nationals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg

…pretty nifty, eh?

Well, one of my favorite (although, underachieving) Brewers, Corey Hart, hit one that landed on that metal platform.  When it landed, it made a huge BANG!  From my viewpoint, I didn’t see where it came to a rest.  So, I walked up those metal steps and found the ball lying behind that blue barstool.  Not quite an easter egg-but pretty close.

A few minutes later, I glanced down the 3rd base line near the tarp area.
This is what I saw…
7_29_09 Nationals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg
…do you see it??

How about with a little zoom…
7_29_09 Nationals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…!!

I had snagged a baseball in this fashion on 7/24/09. 
Could I do it again?

Answer:  No. 
Someone on the field picked it up before the stadium opened. 

Brewers BP ended and I had two baseballs.  If you’re paying attention, that’s one more than luck/chance/opportunity usually grants.

Bring out “The Donkey.”

They brought him out, alright.  But, I think they forgot to feed him his oats. 
NOT 1 BP homer hit by “the Donkey!”

What’s going on at Miller Park this season??  I don’t ever recall such a vulgar display of puniness in my life.  BP homers are fewer and farther between…I guess that’s the price of cleaning up the game.

Near the end of BP, my 3rd and final ball on the day came via tossup from Nationals Bullpen Coach Randy Knorr.  If you recall, Randy tossed a ball my way on 7/27/09.  What a guy.

Before the game started, a very special little person threw out the 1st pitch of the game.
His name is Mack McGehee-the 2yr. old son of Brewers Rookie of the Year candidate Casey McGehee.  Little Mack was recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

I took a few pictures to capture the special moment.
7_29_09 Nationals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpg
7_29_09 Nationals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

In the photo above, you can see Prince Fielder as Mack’s pitching coach.  Mack’s Dad, Casey, is the catcher.  See the ball overlapping the 1st base line?  Good toss kid.

Casey had asked Prince if he would walk out with his son.  Mack’s a big fan of Prince (as most kids are).  This made being in front of 30,000 people a bit easier, I would imagine.

7_29_09 Nationals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 013.jpg

Father & Son.

Read this short article about the McGehee’s (short read).

Finally, the three baseballs…
7_29_09 Nationals vs Brewers @ Miller Park.jpg

Only two (2) are shown. 

The Randy Knorr tossup (training ball) was given away to a Miller Park usher to give to a deserving kid.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 3 total balls 7/29/09

2 batted baseballs

1 tossup baseball

ATTENDANCE:  32,992

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
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
___________________

258 baseballs (42 games)
6.14 average per game


BASEBALLS SNAGGED BY MONTH:

APRIL:  88 baseballs in 12 games (1 game home run ball)
MAY:    76 baseballs in 12 games (2 game home run balls)
JUNE:   61 baseballs in 12 games (0 game home run balls)
JULY:   33 baseballs in  games (1 game home run ball)

One last note:  Has anyone else noticed I haven’t had a double-digit game since the Coghlan HR catch?? 

My luck will change.  I promise you that.  I just need some time to regroup.
400 baseballs on the season is within reach…stay tuned.

“Happy”

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