September 2009

9/24/09 @ Miller Park

This was my last home game of the 2009 season.  Due to a few family obligations, I scaled back on some of the games I would attend this week.

This entry will be short and sweet…I have to catch a flight to Denver in a few hours…

Would you believe I snagged four baseballs on this day and I do not know which player(s) they came courtesy of?

Ball #1 came off the bat of a right-handed Phillies hitter.  I ran about 25 feet to my left and made a few adjustments, catching the ball on the fly in about the 6th row.

Balls #2, #3 and #4 were all tossed up by various Phillies pitchers over the next 45 minutes.  I have no idea who the hell any of them were.  One guy even threw me a decent knuckleball
(Ball #3).

I thought the powerful Phils would have a much better showing…oh well.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 4 total balls 9/24/09


1 batted baseball

3 tossup baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  37,678

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
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs *(new Milwaukee record)*
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
9/16/09 = 4   baseballs
9/18/09 = 10 baseballs
9/21/09 = 3   baseballs
9/24/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

365 baseballs (59 games)
6.19 average per game

 

9/21/09 @ US Cellular Field

This was going to be my last trek to Chicago for the 2009 season.  Another Milwaukee ballhawk was accompanying me. 
Do you remember Kenny from 9/16/09 at Wrigley Field?  We decided awhile back that we would hit both Chicago stadiums before the season came to a close.

We arrived at “The Cell” around 5:00pm.  We had only 30 minutes before the gates opened, so, we jumped in line outside GATE 5.  I could tell the crowds were thinning compared to earlier in the year.  No pennant race…no passion.  Sad but true.

While we were standing in line, a guy standing at the front of the line asked me,
“are you Nick…The Happy Youngster?”

I said I was and we began to chat it up.  He told me his name is Mike and that he ballhawks from time to time in the Chicago area.  When he told me he was not particularly fond of the “northside team,” things were all good.  It’s kind of like knowing the secret handshake with me.  Ya’ know?  If you know the handshake (or in this case, you don’t like the Cubs), we have something in common. 

We exchanged a few stories, a few opinions and then we went over our game plans.  He told me he enjoys my blog and before we knew it, the gates were opening and the fun was about to begin.

As I was running in, I looked to left field.  There were people already standing out in the left field bleachers.  WTF?!  How the hell did they get in already?  Oh well…there would be no easter eggs because of this.  I also noticed that the Twins were already on the field taking BP.  Usually, I catch the last 3-4 minutes of Sox BP…not this time.

After about 10 minutes of wondering what the hell happened to all the glove-trick possibilities, Orlando Cabrera lifted one high and deep to left field.  I ran up a few rows and when the ball was just within reach, I jumped as high as I could and caught the ball on the fly.  It felt like I really got up there but I’m pretty sure it was all in my head.  (I’m convinced the catch inflated my sense of accomplishment just a tad).

After banging my knees on every bleacher/bench/railing in the place over the next 20 minutes, I began to see the writing on the wall. 
Of the few baseballs that were hit in the stands, I was not meant to snag any more of them…unless I wanted to spend my offseason rehabbing from reconstructive knee surgery.
“The Cell” is awful for running after baseballs.  The rows are long and not spacious.  Half of the bleachers are actual bleachers and the other half are actual seats. 

A total nightmare scenario.

Disgruntled, I took my Jake Taylor knees over to right field.  I took a peek into the visitor’s bullpen.  Aha!  A glove-trick possibility.  It was lying on a rolled up portion of tarp.  I could see it was a Metrodome commemorative ball, too.  After no time flat, the ball was reeled up.

Would you believe that’s all BP would provide today?  Two measly baseballs.  Wow.

Look at how thrilled I am…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 004.jpg

Kenny snagged two of his own…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 003.jpg

…and was a bit more appreciative of the fact.
A group shot taken after BP…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 001.jpg
…of me, Kenny and our new friend Mike.

Kenny showing how easy it is to reach into play…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 005.jpg

…down the right field line.

Hey!  There’s no yawning in baseball…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 006.jpg

Here’s where our seats were located…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 008.jpg

…Section 161/Row 1/Seats 7 & 8.

Irish Heritage Night at the ballpark…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 009.jpg
…do you think they paid him a bit extra to wear that?

Nice backpack…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 015.jpg9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 011.jpg

…was a bit exciting.

My view during the game…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 016.jpg

…not nearly as exciting.

A t-shirt toss casualty…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 018.jpg

…yo Zack-the glove-trick work on those?

The game?  No goddamn home runs hit.  No worries, though.  I was able to see a team (Twins) in the thick of a playoff push.  They sure played like it.  Bravo.

Twins won 7-0. 

After the game, Home Plate Umpire Jim Reynolds was kind enough to hook me up by the umpire’s exit…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 021.jpg

…with a game ball straight out of his ball pouch.  It had a neat little circular scuff on the sweetspot.

Three baseballs snagged…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 020.jpg

…yay.

Hey Nick Punto…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 019.jpg
…nice pants.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • total balls 9/21/09


1 batted baseball

1 tossup baseball

1 device baseball


ATTENDANCE:  26,541

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
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs *(new Milwaukee record)*
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
9/16/09 = 4   baseballs
9/18/09 = 10 baseballs
9/21/09 = 3   baseballs
___________________

361 baseballs (58 games)
6.22 average per game

9/18/09 @ Miller Park

The quest for #1000 drags on…

I entered the day with 998 career baseballs snagged at major league stadiums.  Of those 998, 52 have been actual game home run baseballs hit during regular season games.  That’s around 5% of my total baseballs snagged being of the game homer variety.  I’m proud of that number.

I started ballhawking back in 1998.  That summer, my brother Jon and I would make the 2 hr. trip (one-way) to attend games at old Milwaukee County Stadium.  We had more fun than the law allowed, that’s for sure. 

I’m certain my career numbers would have been much higher if not for the segregated bleacher section at County Stadium.  You see, if you purchased a bleacher ticket, you had to stay in the bleachers and could not access the rest of the stadium and vice versa.  In the long run, I think it actually *helped* me.  It forced me to focus on the baseballs that really *count*…

Do you remember the CUBS SUCK ball?  You know the one…the ball I carry with me everywhere I go just in case I happen to catch a visitor’s home run ball.  That way, I have a “dummy” ball to throw back onto the field.
More on this later…

I had many thoughts going through my head when I walked up to the ballpark.  How would I get #1000?  Would it be a great catch off the bat?  Would it be an easter egg?  Would it be a tossup?  Maybe a lucky bounce?  None of the above?

One thing was for certain:  this would be the day.

I walked up to the hostess at Friday’s Restaurant and said, “a bullpen patio table, please.”
She said, “follow me.”

Like they normally do, they seated me underneath that godawful overhang.  I politely asked, “can I get that table?” (pointing to one located in a more advantageous position)
“Sure,” she said.

I had my perch…now they just have to hit me a few baseballs, I thought.
Soon, Brewers stud Ryan Braun took the cage.  This was it.  I wanted it to be Braun.  He’s my favorite player and I could get him to sign the ball.  I was two away…he had to hit em’ both. 

Just as I was ordering my ice-water w/ a lemon (c’mon, for taste-not flare), Ryan lifted one in my direction.  I knew it was not catchable as I had to do the following:  dodge a waitress, jump a railing, run about 20 feet and hope for a decent bounce.  All of the above went smoothly and #999 was in the books (or, in this case, my bag).

One more, baby. 

Hitter after hitter took the cage as I kept replaying the above 3 words in my head. 
Everything was hit to a different section than the one I was restricted to (you cannot leave the Friday’s section until the rest of the stadium is open).

The last Brewers hitters were taking the cage.  I knew this was my last chance.  Brewers rookie Mat Gamel, who happens to be a left-handed hitter, was working on his opposite field approach.  Could he hit it 415 feet to me and to the opposite field?  Answer…no.  But, he could hit it 395 feet and have it come to a rest in the bullpen near the side wall.

Take a look…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…at career ball #1000.

Yeah, it was a little disappointing.  But, at least I knew who hit it.

Ball #1000…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 022.jpg9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 023.jpg

…with the beautiful (sarcasm) sharpie-mark through the sweet spot and two unusual green marks on it.

Time to move on…there was plenty of snagging to do.

The gates to the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30 and I raced up the steps to the left field loge bleachers.  There hadn’t been many easter eggs lately, but I was going to keep looking.

Much to my surprise, I found one…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

…lying in a small puddle underneath the front row of bleachers.

Baseballs don’t like water…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 012.jpg

…as you can see by the stain on the leather.

Speaking of baseballs in water, check out where I found easter egg #2/ball #4…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg

…that’s disgusting.  Even by my ballhawking standards.

Check out how much that ball was submerged…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg

…in nasty, clogged, rusty, filthy, stinky, pukey, sewer water.

I hesitantly grabbed that baseball out of there and immediately put it in a plastic bag.  I sealed the bag and put it in a side compartment of my backpack.  I would worry about it later.

As the Astros began to hit, I continued searching for any unclaimed baseballs.
  Just as I was about to give up, a stadium employee (cleaning crew) nudged me and asked, “you looking for baseballs?”  Just as I was about to respond with a “noshit?!” he said, “there’s one” and pointed.  I looked to where he was pointing and didn’t see anything.  He pointed again.  I looked again and didn’t see anything. 
At this point I was concerned about two (2) things:

  • was this guy ******* with me?
    AND/OR
  • was I about to get hit in the back of the ******* head by a batted ball because I was too busy screwing around looking for this fictitious ball?

That’s when I spotted it. 
Allow me to explain with a few pictures…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg…do you see the ball in the above photo? 
No worries…I couldn’t either.

Here’s why…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg
…I had never seen that before.

On with the show…

Ball #6 on the day came on a lucky bounce off the bat of an unknown Astros player.  It was hit deep and to my right.  I put my head down and started to navigate through the bleachers.  When it hit, it took a nice little bounce to me.

Former Brewers slugger Carlos Lee jacked one that I made a nice catch on for Ball #7.  When it was hit, I ran up four rows and darted into/across the row.  I looked up and found the ball, made a slight adjustment 5 feet to my right and made the easy catch on the fly.

After that, I didn’t have much luck during BP.  I was a second or two slow on about 4 other baseballs that I probably should have snagged.  Or, at least, could have snagged on another day.  I just didn’t feel on top of my game. 

When BP was winding down, I checked the Brewers bullpen.  There was one glove-trick possibility.  After 20 seconds, I reeled it in and tossed it to a nearby kid with his parents.

Since the Brewers pen would render no more, I headed to the visitor’s pen. 

The usher that’s normally working in that section by the visitor pen was not working this evening.
You see, there’s one particular guy who has a problem with me using my glove-trick in the visitor’s bullpen.  I guess he (who will not be named) has a problem with kids getting baseballs they would normally not be able to get.

It’s simple:  if I glove-trick it at Miller Park and there’s a kid present at the time, it’s given away.  No questions asked.  What’s so wrong with that?

Anyhow, when I arrived, there was one ball to be glove-tricked.  I quickly reeled that one up and immediately picked out a little girl to be the recipient.

After I gave that baseball away, a man tapped me on the shoulder and said,
“are you the Happy Youngster?”

Since I don’t wear my yellow shirt during BP, it’s not as obvious. 

I said that I was and we began to talk.  He told me we had met back at County Stadium and that he was always watching for me on the game telecasts.  He re-introduced me to his young boys (now approaching their early-teens) and his wife.  After a nice conversation, we said our goodbyes and I was off. 
One of the coolest families I have met this year…no doubt.

As game time approached, I took a look to the left field loge bleachers.  There were empty patches of seats up there.  A lefty was pitching for the Brewers with a ton of righties for the ‘Stros.  The choice was easy.  I would sit in the left field loge as long as I could.

Here’s where I sat for the 1st inning…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 018.jpg
…front row, on the aisle, straight-away left field.

In the bottom of the 1st, the people with those seats arrived.

So, I re-located here…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 019.jpg

…8th row, on the aisle, left-center field.

Like true clock-work, Lance Berkman (batting righty) led off the 2nd inning with a home run greeting.

The 53rd game home run ball snagged of my ballhawking career…

Thumbnail image for 9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 028.jpg
…(wearing yellow shirt) running down the aisle.

Getting in position…
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 026.jpg

9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 025.jp<br />
g” src=”http://mlblogsthehappyyoungster.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/9_18_0920astros20vs20brewers2020miller20park20025-thumb-400×299-15666211.jpg” class=”mt-image-none” width=”400″ height=”299″ /></a></span></div>
<div>…beating the competition…</p>
<p>and, finally…<br /><span class=9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 029.jpg
…securing the ball and re-gaining my footwork.


CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

(pay special attention to the crowd reaction while Berkman is rounding 3rd base…that’s when the CUBS SUCK ball makes its appearance).

The Berkman home run ball…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 021.jpg
…#310 of his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career and #53 of mine.

BTW, if you’re wondering about my throwback…it was fielded by Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy on the edge of the infield.  When I see J.J. next, I’ll ask him about the CUBS SUCK ball. 
Stay tuned for that.

After that home run catch, I went back to the family I mentioned above.  I pulled two baseballs out of my bag that I had caught earlier and gave them to the two boys.  They deserved it for being so cool to me.  My theory:  it’s so easy to be nasty to people.  Why not put forth the extra effort and just be cool?  Right?  And if you don’t want to be cool, just don’t say anything.
Just sayin’…

I was so happy I caught that one on the fly that I didn’t care about the rest of the game. 
I ended up leaving in the 7th inning because I was so excited to go home and tell/show my wife.

The Brewers went on to win the game 3-2.  The Berkman homer ended up being the only one of the game.

The four BP baseballs I took home…
9_18_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 024.jpg

…because 4 were given away.

The sewer ball that I snagged (#4 on the day/career #1002) wasn’t even photographed because it stunk so bad.  When I got home, I just tossed it.  Damn, that thing stunk.



2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 9/18/09


7 batted baseballs

3 device baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  39,057

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
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
9/16/09 = 4   baseballs
9/18/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

358 baseballs (57 games)
6.28 average per game

9/16/09 @ Wrigley Field

Over a week without attending a game…hotdamn I was anxious for this one. 
As you may or may not know, entering this game, I needed to snag only 6 baseballs to reach the 1000 baseball plateau.  I wanted to do it at Wrigley-the birthplace of the ballhawk.

The day started with a train ride to Chicago.

A young man by the name of Kenny was attending the game with me.  I met Kenny back in 1997 at Milwaukee County Stadium.  At the time, he was a shy 13 yr. old kid, who seemingly, went to every game.  He always sat in the bleachers and *always* brought his glove.  Kenny only missed a handful of games over a 3 yr. period back in the late 90’s…incredible, to say the least. 

Kenny and I arrived at Wrigley Field early so we could catch a few of the Brewers coming into the stadium.  Wrigley Field is awesome for autographs because the majority of the players have to walk right past you to get into the stadium.

Here’s where we were waiting…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 002.jpg
…on the corner of Addison & Sheffield outside GATE D.

Here’s what we were waiting for…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 003.jpg
…taxi cabs containing baseball players.

Here’s a picture of the aforementioned Ballhawk Kenny waiting for the next cab to pull up while standing next to the drunk guy statue (with creepy little heads popping out of his legs)…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 001.jpg

…Kenny’s a pretty decent ballhawk.  With 12 career game home runs snagged, he can hold his own with the best of us…no doubt.

Finally, someone arrived…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 006.jpg
…Someone with a capital “S.”

All-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman had us line up along that green railing. 

After a minute wait…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 008.jpg
…I added his autograph to my 2009 Milwaukee Brewers team signed baseball.

Shortly thereafter, Brewers top prospect Mat Gamel stopped to sign autographs…
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 010.jpg9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 011.jpg

…among other Brewers players.

While we were waiting for players, this creepy advertisement rolled by…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 014.jpg

…what in the hell is that??

Then, I noticed this cute little sign by Harry Caray’s Tavern…
Thumbnail image for 9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 012.jpg
…piss-off, Chicago.

After a few more autographs, we saved our spot in line and played a little “catch.” 
Eventually, the gates would open and we were perched in the bleachers (we had regular bleacher seats, not the bleacher box-so, we were restricted to the bleachers only).

My 1st ball on the day was an overthrow from an uknown Cubs pitcher.  He was aiming for someone else and sailed it.  I ran about 20 feet to my left and picked it up on the bounce.  Immediately, all of the classy Cubs fans began to yell and shout to “give it away to a kid!” 
I could not find any young Brewers fans nearby, so, I left the area. 

While standing in left-center, I saw a different Cubs pitcher aim for a fan.  This time, I was closer to the intended target.  Like the previous overthrow, this one sailed, too.  But, unlike the previous, I was in position to run about 10 feet to my left and make the catch. 
Sorry Cubs fans…better luck next time.

Finally, the Cubs left the field and allowed a real team to take BP (the Cubs players only hit a couple baseballs into the bleachers in the 1st 30 minutes).

When it was Prince Fielder’s turn, I headed over to right field.  I had been watching him all season long.  I feel like I know his tendencies. 

I was right.

My 3rd ball on the day came on the fly off the bat of Prince Field
er.  I had him played perfectly.  I only had to move up a couple rows and a few feet over to make the grab. 

Fielder would hit one more to me before he was through.  That one was snagged on the bounce and immediately given to a little girl dressed in pink sitting with her parents (having a daughter of my own-I’m a softie for girls in pink).

BP ended without any further baseballs. 
The wind was blowing in intensely…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 020.jpg

…as you can see by the flags.

When the game got started, I noticed a few things…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 019.jpg

…typical Wrigley Field alcohol abuse.  (that’s like $5 in beer spilled on the ground)

9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 023.jpg

…do all Cubs fans have that stupid look on their faces?

I digress.

Pictures of the basket…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 026.jpg9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 025.jpg

9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 034.jpg9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 033.jpg
…the basket rules.

The glove I used on this day…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 029.jpg

…my Brother Jon’s mitt.  It was his birthday on this day.  I thought it would bring me luck.

Does anyone recognize the autograph on the mitt?  If you do, I’ll be shocked. 
I’ll give you a hint…former Brewers 3B.

Today’s snags…
9_16_09 Brewers vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field 035.jpg

…four (4) total with two (2) shown.

One was given away to a small girl and an additional baseball was given to the usher in our aisle.  He was extremely friendly to us which made the game that much more enjoyable.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 4 total balls 9/16/09


2 batted baseballs

2 tossup baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  38,084

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
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
9/16/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

348 baseballs (56 games)
6.21 average per game

…2 away from 1000…

9/08/09 @ Miller Park

Due to many contributing factors, I am now officially waaaaay behind on blogging.

My good friend “Dino” was attending this game with me.  You may remember “Dino” from the Chris Coghlan incident back on May 13, 2009

“Dino” picked me up in his sweet little ride…
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg

We beat all the other die-hards into the stadium…
Thumbnail image for 9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…the person with the arrow?  He’s staring down at his shoes out of pure boredom. 
C’mon Brewers fans…go to the games when they’re out of contention, too!

When we were waiting for a table out on the bullpen patio…
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

…I spotted this through the windows.

A closer look…
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg

In action…
Thumbnail image for 9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpgThumbnail image for 9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg
Thumbnail image for 9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 012.jpg9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 013.jpg
It may not look like I’m very excited…
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 015.jpg
…but, I am.  I just usually keep my emotions in check.

Soon, Casey McGehee would hit me my 2nd ball of the day that I snagged on the bounce.
Not too long after, Ryan Braun hit one that I snagged on the fly.  I reached up and caught that one between an older couple right at their dinner table.  They were not paying attention, of course (and it scared the **** out of them).

Ball #4 would end up getting caught in the little protective netting that overhangs the bullpen.  I just used a mini-version of the glove trick to snag it out of there.

I would not have the glove-trick in my backpack long during this BP.

Check it out…
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg

…first, there was one.

Then, there were four…

…the two wit
h red arrows were glove-tricked.

In action (clockwise)…
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 021.jpg9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 022.jpg
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 024.jpg9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 023.jpg

And, the second one (clockwise)…
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 025.jpg9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 026.jpg

9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 028.jpg9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 027.jpg

When the St. Louis Cardinals took the field, I was amped at the opportunities that lied ahead.
Pujols, Ludwick, Ankiel, Holliday, Rasmus…

Unfortunately, the Cardinals don’t care what the fans want, they just take a situational/directional approach.  Good for them-bad for us. 

I did not have a single chance at a batted ball during BP.
Back to the glove-trick.

At the end of BP, I noticed a few baseballs lying in the bullpen.  Two to be exact.
So, I went at it.  Within a minute, both were reeled in.  That includes the time it took to knock them closer.  All of Friday’s patio and a bunch of people standing along the railing above in the left field loge gave me a warm cheer.  I was so pumped, I took the last one (#8 on the day) and heaved it up to the fan’s cheering me in the loge bleachers.  A ton of kids took off after it with a young fan eventually securing it.

As for the game, my two tickets were here…
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 035.jpg

But, we sat here…
9_08_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 038.jpg

…right in Ryan Braun’s power alley.

You see, “Braunie” was sitting on 99 career home runs.  You would know this already if you follow the MILESTONE TRACKER on my website.

Unfortunately, Braun didn’t hit it. 
Actually, none of the Brewers hit much-losing 4-3.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 8 total balls 9/08/09


2 batted baseballs

6 device baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  36,172

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
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
___________________

344 baseballs (55 games)
6.25 average per game

Only 6 away from career baseball #1000...

9/06/09 @ Miller Park

The dreaded day game.

Ballhawk Mike and I were going to the game.  I’ve mentioned it before but it bears mentioning again.  “Big Mike” is a great guy.  To the best of my knowledge, he’s the longest tenured ballhawk in Milwaukee…22 years and counting.

I had to grab my breakfast on the run…
9_06_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…oops, wrong picture.

Here was my breakfast…
9_06_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg
…carbs, baby.  A ballhawk’s best friend.  Not exactly approved by Dr. Robert Atkins, but, what the hell, right?

As far as BP is concerned, you just never know what you’re going to get when attending day games.  Usually, the Brewers take BP on Sundays when they’re playing at home.

On this day, they decided their 66-70 record was good enough.  So, the Giants hit instead.
When we ran into the bleachers, the Giants were first starting to show some life.

merkin valdez.jpg
My 1st baseball on the day came from Giants relief pitcher
MERKIN VALDEZ.  After a polite request, he lobbed it up to me.  Unfortunately, it was falling short.  I had to reach all the way over the railing and risk falling to my death in order to secure the goddamn baseball.  Fortunately, I didn’t die (obviously, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I had).  I was able to pin the ball against the concrete facing below the railing.  Once the ball was pinned between the wall and my glove, I slowly gained control of it.  Voila!  One baseball and I didn’t have to make National News or the obituaries. 

The things I do for a baseball…I think I may need to have my head examined.

A short time later, Aaron Rowand lifted one high into the air.  I was playing Rowand dead-pull.  This baseball was WAY to my left.  All I could do was put my head down and sprint to the spot I thought it would land.  As I was motoring through the bleachers, I looked up to find the baseball.  I picked my spot correctly as it appeared to be catchable. 
As the baseball made its final descent, I continued to close in on it.  Eventually, I would snag that baseball on the short-hop bounce after going down to one knee and leaning over a row of bleachers in a last-ditch effort to snag it on the fly. 

For my efforts…
9_06_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg

…a bit of a (ballpark) war-wound.

LET ME ASSURE EVERYONE:  I’m the only one that sustains injury in my attempts to snag baseballs at major league stadiums.

The action in left soon came to a screeching halt.  So, I headed over to right field. 
In right field, while bleeding all over myself, I was able to snag a Travis Ishikawa bomb on the fly.  Giants pitcher Sergio Romo was beneath me when I snagged it and gave me the shout of approval.  That one felt good.

Unfortunately, my knee did not.  After BP ended, I headed to the men’s bathroom to wash the damn thing up. (you didn’t think I would do it while BP was still going, did you?)

Before pre-game warmups began, I headed down to the Giants dugout for a tossup baseball.
While I waited for the players to come out, I watched the grounds crew…
9_06_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg

…how many people does it take to water the infield?

Don’t get me wrong-I’m not complaining.  If it creates jobs for people and prevents them from robbing, stealing and cheating-I’m all for it.  Think about it.

Eventually, the Giants players started to surface. 
One of the 1st guys out was the Kung Fu Koala Panda, Pablo Sandoval.  After he did a few sprints, he walked over to the stands and began to sign autographs.  After thinking about it for a minute and wasting precious time, I decided to try to get a baseball signed by him. 
As soon as I arrived, he finished signing one last photo and walked into the dugout. 
Maybe I should have had some bamboo or eucalyptus leaves with me or something.

I headed back to my dugout spot.

Soon, Ryan Garko and Jesus Guzman emerged from the dugout.  They began to throw right in front of the dugout with Ryan Garko directly in front of me.  Knowing that Garko is the veteran and would most likely keep the ball, I positioned myself exactly where I started.  When they finally finished throwing, Garko tossed the baseball right to me.

Upon further inspection of the baseball…
9_06_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg

…it was autographed!  Holy hell that’s cool!

After some quick analysis, I deemed the baseball to be autographed by:
San Francisco Giants hitting coach Carney Lansford.

My 1st snagged AND already autographed baseball.  How cool.

The baseball “Carney”…
carney lansford.jpgcarney.jpg
…the circus “carny.”

I would go on to snag only 1 more baseball.

In the top of the 8th inning, Travis Ishikawa lifted one high and deep to center.  Brewers CF Jody Gerut camped underneath it on the warning track and squeezed it for the 3rd out of the inning.  He was almost directly below me, so, I yelled his name.  As he was running in, he turned around to me and fired a seed straight into my glove.

The 3rd out ball…
9_06_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg
…and its unique markings on the leather.  What could that be from??  Could that be an imprint from the bat’s wood grain?
I would love to hear everyone’s theory.

The game ended up going into extra innings.  Around the 10th inning, a young lady (about 8 yrs. old) approached me and offered to buy a baseball.  Her offer?  Two dollars.
I told her she should keep her money.  I would give her one for free.  Sweet kid.

The Brewers won in the bottom of the 12th inning on a Prince Fielder walk-off dinger.
Pretty exciting stuff for a team that’s 15 back.  At least they gave us something to cheer about.

Sunday’s snags…
Thumbnail image for 9_06_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg
…five total with 4 shown (1 was given away).

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 5 total balls 9/06/09


2 batted baseballs

3 tossup baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  36,590

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
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
___________________

336 baseballs (54 games)
6.22 average per game

Only 14 away from #1000…

9/04/09 @ Miller Park

I arrived a bit early to Miller Park, so, I decided to take a few
random pictures of surrounding structures, eye-sores, buildings, etc.

The North Docks…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg

…where employees enter the stadium.

The South Docks…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 012.jpg

…where the *other* employees enter the park.  Players parking lot shown above.

A lovely protective screen to prevent fans from getting a glimpse of their favorite player…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

…and the point of that screen, again??

One of my favorite surrounding structures…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg

…the “Sausage Haus.” 
How many ballparks in MLB have a party shack called that??

This location is called…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg

…”The Hot Corner.”
It’s located on the Northeast corner of the ballpark. 

It’s where you enter the stadium early to get here…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

…Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill.

Early BP anyone??

Speaking of BP…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg

…hooray!
The Brewers may suck this season, but, it’s not for a lack of effort.

When I ran into the stadium…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 013.jpg

…the opposing team player pictured above was running in the stands.

Here are a few better looks…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg

9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 015.jpg
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg
…”The Freak.”

At the same time, another stud was doing some early running…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 022.jpg
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 023.jpg

…the all-time saves leader.

Do you see a correlation??  Do you see the common theme?
If you have the natural ability AND you continue to work hard, you will prosper.

When I was given my table, I peered down into the home bullpen…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 026.jpg
…yeah.

Here’s another view holding my camera as far out as I could reach and straight down…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 025.jpg

…when I claimed possession of that ball, I turned it over to a smaller and deserving little Brewers fan.

Like they always do, Jesus Colome and Claudio Vargas were hanging out in left-center field…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 027.jpg
…I asked Jesus if he wanted anything from Friday’s.  A burger maybe?  A pickle?
He just smiled and shook his head, “no.”

A few minutes later, he fielded a baseball and tossed it straight to me. 
Pays to be nice, eh?

My view on the outdoor bullpen patio…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 028.jpg
…moments
before Casey McGehee hit one to my right.  I ranged over about 15 feet
and made an easy grab.  People clapped and yelled nice grab.  Was it
really?  No.
When there’s no obstacles or nearby skilled
competitors, catching a baseball on the fly is about as easy as
breathing.  But, I appreciated the recognition, nonetheless.

After
the gates to the rest of the stadium opened, I headed over to my season
seat location.  I went to go drop off my backpack and check around, if
you know what I mean.  You never know where they may be a surprise
waiting.

As I always do, I checked along the railing around the blind corner of the CITGO pump…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 030.jpg

…surprise…
9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 029.jpg
…!!
Every
now and then, a ball lands back in that little blind corner and stays
put.  It’s only happened to me about 3-4 times this season.  To take
the above picture, I had to hold the camera around the corner.  To get
the baseball, I had to get on one knee and poke my glove back around
the corner to knock the baseball closer.  When it was within a
barehand’s reach, it was scooped up!

The Giants weren’t hitting a damn thing into the seats, so, I resorted to a simple request for one.  Giants newbie Alex Hinshaw fielded one near the wall.
alex hinshaw.jpg

When he was directly below me, I quietly and politely asked him by name if he could toss it up.  With his back to me and leaning backwards, he lined his body in position with me and lobbed it backwards into the air.  I had to take a few steps to my left but safely put it away. 

A friendly fan that sits in my section was promised the Hinshaw tossup if he wasn’t able to secure his own. 

There would be no more securing this day.  The Giants flat out sucked for BP.  I didn’t ask anymore and they didn’t hit anymore. 
Not even the Kung Fu wooly mammoth Panda hit anything into the seats.

The game?
Who really cares…the Brewers are 14 out of 1st.

I’ve moved on.

Happy 5
Giants 3
Brewers 2

9_04_09 Giants vs Brewers @ Miller Park 031.jpg

5 total baseballs snagged…
2 given away…
3 shown.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 5 total balls 9/04/09


2 batted baseballs

2 tossup baseballs

1 device baseball


ATTENDANCE:  37,511

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
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
___________________

331 baseballs (53 games)
6.25 average per game

8/29/09 @ Miller Park

In case you missed it, I had the best ballhawking day of my life the day prior (8/28/09).
I’ve had *better* days…days where I snagged two game home runs in the same day.  But, in terms of total baseballs snagged, Friday the 28th of August 2009 was second to none.

Would my luck carry over to Saturday?

When I entered Friday’s Bullpen Patio, this greeted me…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg

…an easy glove-trick. 

Okay…ball #1 in the 1st minute upon entering.  That was easy.  Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.

Allow me to prove my point.

Ballhawks:
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to have one of the game’s greatest power hitters up at the plate (during BP) with you as the only fan in the stands?  Just you, the slugger and a whole bunch of open space…!

Well, that was the scenario.  The slugger was Prince Fielder and I was the only fan (okay, there were 2 other kids standing in the front row) in the entire right field loge bleachers.  His homer haven, I might add.

To my left…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg

…and to my right…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…holy hell!!

Can you believe the *********** didn’t hit one ************’ homerun to the pissing section the entire time!!?!!  I had the equivalent of 4 country acres all to myself and Prince decides not to pull the ball deep.  Go figure.

Yeah, my luck changed today.  I’m not mad-just sayin’.

The Pirates BP you ask??  Total garbage.  They hit and tossed me too many balls the day prior.  I think they had to conserve a few for Sunday.

One ball snagged in the very 1st minute inside the park.  The next 75 minutes?  Nada.

A few pre-game photos of the Pirates pen…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpg
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg

…Jason Jaramillo (catcher) and Kevin Hart (pitcher).

In the two pictures of Jaramillo, do you see the little target they have set up for Hart?  The piching rubber over home plate?  Neat stuff.

It didn’t help…Brewers won 7-3.

After the game, Home Plate Umpire Tony Randazzo doubled my day’s snags with a simple gift by the umpire tunnel. 

Two balls.  Woohoo…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 012.jpg

…more like boohoo.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 2 total balls 8/29/09


0 batted baseballs

1 tossup baseball

1 device baseball


ATTENDANCE:  41,773

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
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
___________________

326 baseballs (52 games)
6.27 average per game

Career ball #1000 is quickly approaching…

8/28/09 @ Miller Park

According to the “Master of Snag” (aka Zack Hample), he states he once snagged 17 baseballs in his very first trip to Miller Park.  Seventeen! 
The date was June 11, 2003 (you can see for yourself on his website by clicking here).

I’ve spoken with countless Milwaukee ballhawks (both active &
retired) and 17 seemed to be the all-time Milwaukee single-game record. 
A very impressive number. 
A number that I’ve been shooting for this
season. 

Zack and I have joked that there was no way I could allow a New Yorker to hold the single game record here in Milwaukee.  I came close on 4/27/09 (and set a personal high in the process) but no cigar.  Would I ever do it??

Much has changed since the 2003 season at Miller Park. 

  • Crowds are no longer 12,000 or 13,000…they’re upwards of 36,000 or 37,000. 
  • Many areas of the stadium that were once wide open have now succumbed to advertisement/corporate bullsheet.  Further cluttering room to roam.
  • The Miller Park stadium staff have ironed out many of the wrinkles that existed in the stadium’s infancy. 
  • Steroids have been taken out of the game reducing long balls.
  • The manual scoreboard “moat” is long gone (once a great glove-trick area) and has since been replaced by a party area.
  • So on and so on…

I mention this not to discredit Zack’s 17-ball feat (snagging 17
baseballs in one day is amazing even at a minor league park).  But, to
show what a daunting task I would face in topping that number someday.

Well, someday came…

I walked into the stadium and grabbed a table out on Friday’s Front Row Bullpen Patio.  When I took my first look into the Brewers bullpen, this is what I saw…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg

…but those two were both out of reach.

Then, I looked to the left…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg

…booyah.  I quickly lowered the glove-trick over that baseball and began to reel it up.  Unfortunately, it didn’t have a good hold and fell back into the bullpen.  After a quick adjustment of the rubber band, I lowered it back over the ball and had a better hold.  As I was reeling it back in, I took a quick glance to the field (because the Brewers are funny about this kinda stuff) and saw Brewers bench coach Willie Randolph staring at me as I was reeling it up.  All I could do was to smile and shrug my shoulders.  He shook his head and I continued to reel it up for my 1st of the day.  Career ball #957.

Do you see the ball (with the red drawn dots surrounding it) behind that protective netting?
More on that ball later.

After getting a toss-up from Brewers reliever David Weathers, another Brewers player tried to toss one to a fan.  Through a combination of uncoordination and poor aim, the ball fell into the protective netting that overhangs the bullpen.  After watching a guy struggle to get it for awhile, I offered to try using the glove-trick.  It works in that netting-you just have to utilize the weight of the glove a little more.  After about 20 seconds, I had it.  I then gave it to the couple who were freaking out about getting it in the first place.

Back to the ball (behind the protective screen) pictured above.  I noticed that one nestled up against the bullpen wall.  After a few swings to knock it out of the corner, I reeled it up for #4 on the day.  While I was positioning my glove for #4, another baseball landed in the bullpen.  That ball was glove-tricked as well for #5.

As he always does, Brewers 3B Coach Brad Fischer was using a fungo to hit baseballs back to the bucket out in left-center field.

The coach…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

So, I yelled down to him,
“Hey coach, mind if I toss one back to the bucket?!”

He responded with a laugh.

To which I said,
“I promise I won’t keep it!”

Coach Fischer yelled,
“yeah right!”

Finally, I convinced him I would not keep the ball. 
As he tossed it up to me, he said,
“we’ll see if you’re a man of your word!”

Here was my view…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg

The objective??  To get the ball in the bucket. 

Here’s where it ended up…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg

…coming to a rest just to the right of the bucket.

The toss (from about 125 feet) was perfectly elevated.  It landed just to the right of that red arrow, one-hopped the net and almost came back down into the bucket a 2nd time. 
Damn, that was close.  The people sitting in Friday’s loved it.  Gotta have a little fun.

THAT BALL DOES NOT COUNT IN MY STATS: 
I staged its retrieval via verbal agreement.  I never intended to keep it. 

Whaddya think?  Would you guys have counted it?  Let me know.  It won’t change my ruling one way or the other.

On a side note:  do you see the little aluminum bat resting against the protective screen in the picture above?  That was being used by the son of David Weathers earlier in the day.  Apparently, he was taking a few hacks out on the field.  Lucky kid.

Ball #6 came via tossup from this fellow…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg

…after a friendly request in his native Spanish tongue.

I would retrieve 2 more baseballs in the next 5 minutes off the bat of the “Hebrew Hammer”-Ryan Braun.  One was snagged on the fly and the other was snagged on the bounce.  I gave the one snagged on the fly away to another fan.
Hotdamn…I dig Ryan Braun.

Ball #9 soon followed…snagged on the fly off the bat of Felipe Lopez. 

Nine baseballs and the rest of the stadium hadn’t even opened yet!  That’s the kind of start I would need if I wanted the record.

When the clock struck 5:30 pm,, the gates to the stadium officially opened.  I dashed up the staircase that leads to the 2nd level of bleachers (loge level).  I scanned the rows for any easter eggs.  Conveniently, there’s been a cleaning crew that comes through the bleachers to wipe off the benches right before gates open.  Anytime there’s a baseball hit up there, it’s pocketed by one of the workers.

But, not this time…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg
…!!

The above picture was not staged.  That’s exactly how that ball was found.  I tossed my backpack and glove down and took the picture.  Hell, I was so jacked, I didn’t even mind that the ball was lying next to a gigantic dried pile of some drunk college kid’s vomit.

Double-digits and I still had almost an hour left to BP.  Holy crap!

The Pirates pitchers were now in left field making their warmup tosses.  Three minutes after I changed into my Pirates gear, Pirates pitcher Matt Capps tossed me his warmup ball.
matt capps.jpg

MATT CAPPS———————————–>

The last Brewers group was in the cage.  After missing out on a few of Casey McGehee’s bombs by a couple of steps, I was able to secure #12 off the bat of Mike Rivera.  When it was hit, I knew it would land a few sections away.  Immediately, I started sprinting through the seats to make up some ground.  When I felt myself getting dangerously close, I slowed down a tad.  BAM!  It landed about 15 feet away from me and I quickly grabbed it on the bounce.
                                                                                                       
The Brewers finished hitting so there was a lull in the action.  I sprinted down the staircase back down to the field level and ran all the way over to right field to check out the visitor’s bullpen.  There was one AND it was in position for the glove-trick.  Just like that…Ball #13.

By this time, I started to realize 17 was within reach.  I can only imagine what it’s like for a big league pitcher with 6 perfect innings in the books.  Around the 7th inning or so, he starts to really lock himself in.  From a fan’s perspective, it felt similar.

denny bautista.jpg
Eventually, I made it back to left field.  There, Pirates pitcher Denny Bautista tossed me Ball #14.

It certainly didn’t hurt that I asked for the ball in Spanish.

While I was standing in the left field loge bleachers, I noticed a ball that was glove-trickable in the Brewers bullpen.  So, back down the stairs I went…sweatier than hell.                                                                                              
After 10 seconds, Ball #15 was reeled in and I was officially locked in. 
I had just tied my single-game record of fifteen (15) and I had plenty of time to do some more damage.

Unfortunately, my luck would change.  The last 10-15 minutes of BP were a bit slow.  A few of the Pirates lighter hitters were in the cage and I felt like I had used up my allotted number of tossups.  There were no glove-trick opportunities and I was officially screwed.

Near the end of BP, I took this picture showing how many potential glove-tricks I could have had if not for the grounds crew…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg
…holy shnikies!!
The Pirates hitters hit more balls into the Brewers bullpen than any two teams combined.

When the Pirates starting pitcher, pitching coach and bullpen catcher began to walk out toward the visitor’s bullpen, I started to make my move out that way.

I was still about 20 feet away from the back of the visitor’s bullpen when Pirates Bullpen Catcher Heberto Andrade looked up toward me.  He made a motion and tossed me a ball.  WTF??!!
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg
I wasn’t even that close to him and the throw sailed about 7 feet to my right.  Luckily, it bounced off a chair and stopped just in time for me to pick it up for #16 on the day. 
A new personal high.
But, I needed one more to tie the Milwaukee record and two more to break it. 
I needed to get two more baseballs…somehow, someway.  I knew I had a good chance for an ump ball after the game, but that would only tie the record.  I had to figure out a way to get one before that.

I decided I would try for a pre-game warmup ball by the Pirates dugout.  Not many Pirates fans in attendance, it should be easy, right?
Wrong.
Only 1 pair of Pirates came out to throw and Delwyn Young tossed it to a guy down to my right.  Okay…no problem.  I’ll just stay in the box seats until after the bottom of the 1st inning.  Maybe I’ll get a 3rd out ball.  Wrong again.
What I ended up getting was a great view of Prince Fielder’s bomb into my section in the bottom of the 1st.  No worries…I don’t know if I could have snagged it anyway.  It landed in the top row of the Tundra Territory (now you know why I don’t usually roam around the stadium in search of meaningless baseballs…opportunities missed like those).

Concerned about missing further opportunities, I headed to my seat out in right-center field.  When I got there, I visited with the fan who ended up with Prince’s home run…#150 of his promising career.
It was a lady in her early 40’s.  She tells me she was standing in the top row of the Tundra Territory when it was hit.
According to her, this is how the baseball landed (reenactment using actual HR ball)…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg
…right in the crease of the cushion!  She told me she plucked it right out of there. 
Wow.

I was wondering if I could continue MY good fortune when #17 came straight out of the blue. 
It was before the start of the top 1/2 of the 6th inning.  Brewers CF Mike Cameron came running out to take his position.  Like he always does, he warms up with LF Ryan Braun.  As luck would have it, for a reason I’ll never know, “Cam” had brought a baseball out with him (the warmup ball is normally supplied by the ballboy/ballgirl down the LF line).  He started jogging toward me with the ball in his hand before making his warmup tosses.
I thought to myself, “is this too good to be true?”  So, I stood up and flashed my glove.  Sure, there were others around me, but I was the only one with a glove.  Easy choice.  Cameron fired it right to me.  I had just tied the Milwaukee record.

Here I am with #17 on the day…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg…holy hell!

After signing a baseball for a fellow Brewers fan…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 015.jpg
…I patiently sat through the remaining 4 innings.

No more home run chances…I would have to rely on Home Plate Umpire Jerry Layne.
jerry layne.jpgSo, in the top of the 9th inning, with the Brewers clinging to an 8-6 lead, I headed out on a mission to establish a new ballhawking record for the City of Milwaukee.

I watched (from the 7th row) as Trevor Hoffman notched his 28th save on the season.  When the last out was recorded, I darted down the steps and got into position.  Mr. Layne would have to walk right past me to get into the umpire tunnel.  I felt my chances were good.  Jerry’s ball pouch had just been loaded up a pitch prior to the last out-I knew he had extras.

When he approached, I held out my glove and said, “Mr. Layne, sir, can you spare an extra baseball, please?”
Without hesitation, Jerry reached into his pouch and pulled one out.  He then placed it right into my mitt for #18 on the day!

Woohoo! Holy ****!!

A new Milwaukee record…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 018.jpg

…with 16 of the 18 snagged shown (2 were given away).

This just proves how good Zack Hample is at snagging. He established the record in his 1st trip to Miller Park.  It took me over 200 games to get mine…but, it was well worth the wait.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 18 total balls 8/28/09


5 batted baseballs

7 tossup baseballs

6 device baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  34,438

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
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
___________________

324 baseballs (51 games)
6.35 average per game

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