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

10 Comments

Been waiting for a new entry for a while, Nick! Good work… I saw Blanks hit some bombs during BP in SD, too! You’re not kidding, he’s got a LOT of pull power!
~Matt
http://bloggingboutbaseball.mlblogs.com/

That sucks that the attendance was so high. I usually only have to deal with that when the Stankees & Ded Sox come to town. Heath Bell is awesome! I didn’t get his autograph, but I got some sweet photos of him when they were here in June. What a character! That double black eye thing is weird. That would probably be a first for everybody. You got close to double digits, next time!
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

That is very weird – boyfriend/girlfriend both getting hit in the right eye!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Anothe good day for you! I will be going down to San Diego courtesy of the Padres on my “Baseballs 4 MADD” tour next week. The Padres PR department has been nice enough to help out with tickets and a little more for next week! I love Petco park and snagging there can be good especially when the Padres are a million games out!
You will have to check out the post I put up on the 20th once I get back!!
Keep it up Happy!

John
Baseballs 4 MADD – MLBallhawk
http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com
http://mlballhawk.com
@mlballhawk on TWITTER

Un-REAL!

That double-eye-whammy is a little too much for me to process.

Excellent photos (I love the “jail” shot) and stories.

On a final note: Hooray for Heath.

its not insensative when its so darn hilarious. how are we supposed to let sensativity get in the way of something as odd as that. and they both had gloves? crazy!
Wrigley tomorrow!
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

When I was in RF I saw that guy get hit in the face and all I say was the guy just fall over a plop to the ground and I was just like wow! Nick, Try and get back to me on that email when you get the chance. Thanks.

Casey
http://wardyhawk.mlblogs.com

hey, Tim and I stood today right where those eye hitting lovers were sitting! Great to be able to understand your pictures better now from some first hand Miller Park experience. Great seeing you today. See you tomorrow!
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

MATT…
crazy power.

BRIAN…
the double black eye was the weirdest thing I have ever seen.

JULIA…
bizarre.

JOHN…
good luck down in SD!!

ZACK…
hooray for Heath!

TODD…
great point.

CASEY…
let’s get it done in Chicago!

TODD…
it was nice seeing you guys as well. See you tomorrow!!

“Happy”

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