Results tagged ‘ Ballhawk League ’

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  • The manual scoreboard “moat” is long gone (once a great glove-trick area) and has since been replaced by a party area.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

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

7/07/09 @ Miller Park

Do you remember when I went to Toronto during Opening Week of the season and the Detroit Tigers were using International League baseballs

More on this later…

My last game was on 6/30/09.  A whole week without games.
 
The baseball portion of my day started with the usual walk…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg

…with the arrows pointing to two popular Brewers bars located on W. Bluemound Rd.

Long Wong’s Chinese-American Sports Bar and Kelly’s Bleachers.

If
you’re ever visiting Milwaukee and want a great place to hang out
before, during or after ballgames, you have to check out these two
great establishments.
(No, I’m not on either places payroll).

My walk continued to the corner of W. Bluemound/General Mitchell Blvd…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

…along Mitchell Blvd. Park.

Eventually…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg

…down the little pathway.

In the picture above, do you see what the red arrow is highlighting?
That’s a section of Miller Park’s roof peaking through an opening in the trees.

Further down the pathway…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpg

…that parallels Interstate 94.

Finally, putting me into the NORTH General parking lot…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg…with the red arrow pointing to the Miller sign peaking above the trees down in the valley at Miller Brewing Company.

Finally, I had arrived.

When
I entered the stadium, Prince Fielder was hitting.  So, I took a little
stroll over to right field to see what he could do.  It didn’t take him
long to hit a bomb that probably traveled in excess of 450 feet.  I
retrieved that baseball after it bounced around a bit. 

I
waited patiently for more Fielder bombs but they didn’t come.  Earlier,
it was announced that Fielder would be participating in the 2009 Home
Run Derby down in St. Louis.  I thought he would be putting on a home
run clinic to tune-up for the event.  I was wrong.  Not due to a lack
of effort; he was trying, but most of his contact sent the balls on a
line.

I wandered over to left field to try my luck with Ryan
Braun. 
After about 5 minutes, “Brauny” sent one into the left field
bleachers that I retrieved on the bounce, as well.

Thumbnail image for 7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 023.jpg
Remember how the Brewers write funny sayings/words on a large percentage of their BP balls??

Well, this particular ball had “KEEP ON SMILING” written on the sweetspot.

That ball was meant for me.

Near the end
of batting practice, I noticed an unusual amount of players’ kids
gathered on the warning track out in left-center field.

I noticed, but thought nothing of it. 
Until
I heard a baseball hit the bleachers and make a BANG! about 15 feet
from me.  I looked around and did not know where that ball came from. 
I looked up.  I looked right and left.  WTF?!!
I soon realized that a few of the players’ kids were tossing baseballs into the stands out of one of the ballbags.

So, I got in on the action. 
All together, approx. 10 of these baseballs were tossed up.

Here’s the one (1) that I snagged…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 022.jpg

Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be an OFFICIAL LEAGUE ball.  Huh??

I looked closer and noticed the ball had a logo on it.  Yeah!
The BIGS2 video game. 

I do not play video games. 
Heck, I barely have enough time to blog. 
But, this was pretty cool. 

Am I counting it toward my season stats? 
Damn right.

Here’s why:
1).  The ball was obtained at an officially sanctioned MLB event.
2).  I did not purchase the ball.
3).  I was the 1st fan to obtain possession of the ball.
4).  The ball was not obtained through an announced stadium promotion (it’s not like the 1st 15,000 fans received one).
5).  It wasn’t just an official league ball.  It had a cool logo on it!
6).  I skinned my knee snagging it, dammit!

The Brewers left the field.  The Cardinals came out.

I don’t know what’s been going on around Miller Park, lately.  But, balls being hit into the stands are starting to become a bit of a rarity.  Opposing teams have not been hitting many during BP over the last few weeks.  Makes ballhawking a bit tough, don’t ya’ think?

Not to mention, I’ve never been a big fan of begging for baseballs, either.  I’ve adopted that tactic this season, largely, because of the ballhawk league.

As the Cardinals hitters did their best to avoid any baseball reaching the seats, my frustration grew.
Actually, during this BP, I counted 7 baseballs that were hit down the left field line.  All playable for those standing in the front row.  Just simply lean over.

Wanna guess how many baseballs made it into the bleachers at this point?
Three.

I didn’t get my next baseball until Cardinals reliever JOSH KINNEY Thumbnail image for josh kinney.jpgand his sweet fu manchu mustache tossed me one over in right field.

Regretfully, I didn’t take his picture.
But, as you can see by the artistic demonstration to the right, Mr. Kinney’s mustache was, indeed, a sweet one.

The next group of Cardinals hitters contained both Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick.

I sprinted over to left field as if my pants were on fire. 
Rumor has it, those two put on a homer display back on Memorial Day.

They both combined to hit approx. 4 into the bleachers.  Ooooh.
Major disappointment. 

What was even more disappointing??
The fact that I lost one of Pujols’ bombs in the sun.  The sun is brutal around 6pm at Miller Park during the summer.  Absolutely brutal.   
I saw the ball go up.  I fluently made my way through the swarms of clueless people.  I picked the exact spot it was going to land.  I looked back up to the sky and was blinded.
All I could do was cringe like a scared schoolgirl on prom night. 
Shakin’ naked in the fetal.
The ball ended up landing about 6 feet away from me. 

Of course, nobody else tracked it.  Of course, everyone else heckled.

BP ended and I had snagged 4 baseballs.  Not the best showing.
But, I always say, if they don’t hit ‘em or throw ‘em, can’t snag ‘em.

Time to wander.
I was looking to waste some time.

That’s when I ran into this big fella…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg
…Adam “Big” Rygg. 

The “Big Rygg” has his own Brewers blog in this network. 
It’s called THE BREWER NATION and it’s a well-written/well-informed blog about the Brew Crew.  Did I mention that Adam also works for the Brewers??

He’s a great fan of the Brewers and a good guy.  So, go check out his blog.  Do it-do it now.

I stopped, grabbed a couple hot dogs (relish, please) and made the trek back to my seat.

The 1st few innings were weird.
Allow me to explain:
1).  Cards infielder Skip Schumaker was thrown out at 2nd base attempting to tag up from 1st.  The fly ball was not deep and the throw utilized the cut-off man.  What??

2).  The Brewers had the bases loaded and Mike Cameron was hit with a ground ball trying to advance to 3rd base.  Baserunner is out.  ???

3).  Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum was ejected from the dugout for arguing balls and strikes (Home Plate umpire Bill Hohn had a rough night-more on him later).  The weird part was that he didn’t come out to get his money’s worth. ???

4).  Brewers bench coach Willie Randolph was then ejected for the same reason in the top 1/2 of the inning.  ??

Some things you don’t see everyday.

One thing you do see from time-to-time:
The yellow-shirted fan snagging a home run ball.

Okay, it wasn’t a glamorous snag.  But, I’ll tell you anyway.

Do you recall my not-so-glamorous snag of Cardinals phenom COLBY RASMUS’ 5th career homer which just so happened to be my 50th career game home run?
If not, click here.

Do you also remember me saying how Brewers RF Corey Hart has hooked me up time after time over the years??
If not, click here and here.

Well, Corey was at it again.

It was the top of the 5th inning.  No outs.
Cardinals stud COLBY RASMUS jacked one that left the yard, striking an advertisement sign positioned at the front of the loge bleachers.  The ball ricocheted down to the field and rolled to Brewers RF Corey Hart.  Corey attempted to lob it into the visitor’s bullpen to the Cards relievers.  The problem good thing was that it fell short and merely bounced off the outfield wall.  The ball rolled on the warning track where it came to a rest closer to my location.
This time, though, Corey looked up to my section and lobbed it up.  Immediately, I realized it
would be over my head.  So, I jockeyed for position while backing up.  At the last possible moment, I jumped straight up with my glove stretched as high as I could.  I felt the ball hit the pocket as I came down in a small crowd of people.

Career game home run #51. 

Like I said-not glamorous, but I’ll take it.

The Colby Rasmus game home run snagged
 on 5/26/09…                                             AND           the one snagged 7/07/09…
Thumbnail image for 5_26_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

                 Career HR #5                             AND                      Career HR #11

macha arguing with hohn.jpgToward the end of the game, I made my way down to the umpire well
located near the visitor’s dugout.  Fresh off two coach ejections and a
horribly called game, Home Plate umpire BILL HOHN flipped me a game
ball from the pouch to make it 6 baseballs on the day.

I think 2009 might be the year of the mustache.  (Giambi-look what you started!)

The 6 baseballs snagged on this day…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 020.jpg

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 6 total balls 7/07/09

2 batted baseballs

4 toss-up baseballs

(1 game home run-Colby Rasmus career #11)


ATTENDANCE: 
36,557

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
___________________

231 baseballs (37 games)
6.24 average per game

6/24/09 @ Miller Park

It was blistering-hot in Milwaukee.  I had not even started to ballhawk and I was already drenched in sweat.  Disgustingly drenched. 

When the gates to the stadium opened at 5:30 pm, I ran in and searched for “easter eggs.”  As luck would have it, I found not one, but two!!  One in the right field bleachers (field level) and one in the right field loge level bleachers (2nd level). 

BALLS #1 & #2 were in the bag. 
Good start.

BALL #3 came (on the bounce) off the bat of this young phenom…
mat gamel profile photo.jpg
Brewers 3B MAT GAMEL.
 

If you don’t know the name, you will.  He’s an absolute hitting machine with a bright future.

How I snagged #3 was actually a bit interesting. 

It landed (on the fly) in the Toyota Tundra Territory out in deep right-center field.  It then bounced out of that section and landed on the concourse below.  It rolled about 10-15 feet (with me giving chase) into a restricted, gated-off area.  I thought it was lost before it rolled back out into the concourse where it was claimed.  I have the slight pitch/slant in the concrete that leads to a drain to thank for it rolling back to me.
 
Even a bit more odd was the fact that it was a Twins commemorative ball.  Somehow, the Twins commemorative found its way into the Brewers ballbag. 
Hmmm…

yovani gallardo profile pic.jpg

The Brewers were finishing up their portion of BP when Brewers ace
YOVANI GALLARDO ————————————————>
fielded a baseball.  I yelled for the ball and he
turned and looked up into the bleachers.  He wasn’t looking at me.  So,
I waved my glove and yelled again.  I was standing in about the 15th
row of the right field loge bleachers (2nd level).  He spotted my position and
lofted the ball to me.  It fell about 4 rows short, but, I ran down and easily claimed BALL #4.

The Twins were now on the field.

The Twins right handed hitters (Crede, Cuddyer, Gomez, Young) had hit well the previous day.  So, I headed to the left field loge bleachers.

Soon, Twins RF MICHAEL CUDDYER hammered one in my direction that I caught on the fly for BALL #5.  When I inspected the baseball, it appeared to have once been a gamer that was retired to the BP bucket. 

A few more baseballs were hit up in my area but it had gotten crowded and hard to move.

NOTE:  For those that think Miller Park is an easy stadium to ballhawk in, guess again. 
Try ballhawking in a stadium that averages nearly 40,000 but only opens up 1 & 1/2 hrs. before gametime.  Not to mention, there’s no real spot at Miller Park that’s open and easy to roam around in.  Strict ushers/security add insult to injury. 

Sheesh.

The Twins righties were finished hitting.  I headed back to right field.

When I made it out to right field, I noticed Twins pitcher FRANCISCO LIRIANO was standing in centerfield shagging BP.  I congratulated him on the victory the night before.  When the next baseball was hit to him, he turned and tossed it to me for BALL #6 on the day.
When I inspected it, I noticed it was almost brand-spanking new.  Not as new as the Cuddyer BP homer I had caught the day before, but, almost.

In the next 15 minutes, I managed to snag 3 more baseballs (all on the fly) from the following players…                                              
jason pridie.jpg

JASON PRIDIE – BALL #7 (given away to a young Twins fan)

                       
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for brian buscher.jpg     BRIAN BUSCHER – BALL #8

Thumbnail image for jose morales.jpg     JOSE MORALES – BALL #9

That was it for BP.

Did I mention it was hot??
6_24_09 Twins vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg
90 degrees with a heat index of over 100…hotdamn!

During the game, a very special family stopped by my seat to say “hello”…
6_24_09 Twins vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg
…that’s “Brewer Jamie,” his awesome wife-Mary and their adorable daughter Rachel.

Another Miller Park regular stopped by the section…
Thumbnail image for 6_24_09 Twins vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg

…the young man’s name eludes me at this time. 
In his hands, he held the newest addition to his growing memorabilia collection. 
A Jason Kubel gamer bat cracked during BP and given to him directly from Mr. Kubel.
Cool stuff.

I didn’t mention it in my last game blog (6/23/09), but I had the chance to formally meet another fellow member of our BALLHAWK LEAGUE. 

Big Glove Bob was in the house. 

For those of you who don’t know, Bob is a diehard Twins fan who has gained notoriety for sporting an oversized glove at the Metrodome. 

Hence, the nickname “Big Glove Bob.”

Bob’s blog tells it like it is and is always a funny read.
If you haven’t already, check his blog out here.

I had met Bob (briefly) back on 5/23/09
But, this time…
6_24_09 Twins vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg

…we talked at length.

What a great guy!

The game ended with the final score:

Happy – 9
Brewers – 4
Twinkies – 3
6_24_09 Twins vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 012.jpg
                     Only 8 are shown (1 was given away to a small Twins fan).

A final look.
6_24_09 Twins vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg

PICTURED TOP LEFT:  #850 (Michael Cuddyer-caught on fly) was my 200th baseball of the 2009 season.

Yeah, baby.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 9 total balls 6/24/09

7 batted baseballs (4 caught on fly)

2 toss-up baseballs


ATTENDANCE: 
34,480

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
___________________

204 baseballs (32 games)
6.375 average per game

6/12/09 @ Oriole Park at Camden Yards

I was having a bit of bad luck during this Baltimore trip.  I was getting a little frustrated.
My fortunes would change on this day.

I headed out of my hotel around noon.
Based on my research, I set out on a mission to sample the finest crab cake Baltimore had to offer. 

The place?
Faidley’s.

After about a 7-10 block walk, I was at the front door…
faidley's outdoor sign.jpg
…so, I pushed open the door and jumped in line.  I didn’t know what to expect.

I looked up at the menu…
faidley's menu and signs.jpg
…the choice was easy.

I ordered the lump crab cake plain…
faidley's crab cakes.jpg
…I just asked for it between a roll.

Wow…absolutely delicious.  If you like crab cakes, you have to stop here.

While I was mowing down on my crab cake, I looked across my table and recognized this fella…
freeman speaking.jpeg

Recognize him??

How about now????
antonio freeman action.jpg
                                                          Yeah, baby.
 
That’s former Green Bay Packers star wide receiver ANTONIO FREEMAN.
He was born in Baltimore, MD and starred for my hometown Packers.  What are the odds??

After
lunch, I headed down to the Harbor and bought my wife and kids a few
things.  I wasted a few hours down there…then headed to the park.

I
HAD to get the coveted season ticket style ticket for the game that
evening.  As you probably already know, this gets you in left field 30
minutes ahead of everyone else without that style of ticket.  It’s
ballhawking heaven when you have this type of ticket-no question.

After
about 1 hr. of wandering around the outside of the stadium, I found a
scalper.  I offered him $20 for a $9 ticket just so I could get into
left field.  Worth every penny.

Before the gates opened, I mingled…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 004.jpg
…with a few regulars. 

Pictured above: 
a very friendly Camden Yards usher who’s known for saying “hit me” to
those waiting in line.  When the fan says “hit me,” the usher holds out
a handful of baseball cards in one hand and a spray bottle in the
other.  For your efforts, you get to pick a card out of his hand and
get a spray of cool mist to the face.  Ahhhhh.

Here’s another Camden Yards regular…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 002.jpg
 …by the name of Bob. 

Bob has been attending games in Baltimore for a very long time.  He’s a great fan of the game and enjoys ballhawking, too! 
He’s a retired baseball coach who, actually, once HAD a coach that was a former teammate of the great one…George Herman “Babe” Ruth. 
Wow.

Bob, it was a pleasure talking baseball with you!

Finally,
the gates to the stadium opened up.  I ran to the right field standing
room only area to survey the scene.  A few lefties were taking BP!

So, I stayed put for a minute to see how it would go. 
After
approx. 1 minute, I had BALL #1.  It came off the bat of FELIX PIE and
it was caught on the fly atop the elevated standing room only section. 

FINALLY!!  A ball snagged on the fly.  My specialty.

I
noticed Luke Scott was hitting in the same group.  It didn’t take him
long to loft one to my right.  I ran to the end of the standing room
only section.  I had run out of room. 
Wait!  There was time.  I
curled behind the right field bleacher seats using the small walkway
that runs in back.  The ball landed in the 2nd to last row and bounced
into the very last row of seats.  The ball was directly below me and
about 8 feet down.
The quickest way to obtaining that baseball was
straight down instead of running to the aisle and back over.  So, in
one smooth motion, I swung my feet over the back railing and jumped all
the way down, (the only people near me were other ballhawks running
after the ball) landing in between the last row of seats and the 2nd to
last row.  I picked up BALL #2.

The righties for the Orioles were now taking their swings…over to left field I went.

BALL #3 was soon snagged on a bounce off the bat of O’s 3B MELVIN MORA. 
Mora followed that bomb with another one, this time where I was able to snag it on the fly…BALL #4!

O’s
young slugger ADAM JONES soon began to put on a little hitting
display.  One went way up behind me and to the right.  I sprinted up
the aisle, flying through the sea of seats. 
BALL #5 was lying underneath a seat and was barehanded.

RULE #51:  NEVER use your glove to pick up a ball that is no longer in motion.

Before
the O’s portion of BP concluded, underachiever TY WIGGINTON lifted one
in my direction.  I ran down about 4 rows, bolted over about 3 seats
and caught it on the fly for BALL #6. 

Now, that’s more like it.

Bring out the Braves.

The big boppers for the Braves were hitting 1st, so, I headed back over to the right field standing room only section. 

After about 10 minutes of no Chipper Jones bombs, Braves catcher BRIAN
MCCANN took his turn.  It didn’t take McCann long to lift one up onto
the flag court. 

I ran forward and made a jumping catch over everyone else for BALL #7.

The standing room only section was crowded.  It was every man for himself. 

BALL #8 was hit to my left toward the foul pole.  I sprinted over to
the spot I figured it would land.  I was about 15-20 feet from the
brick wall down the right field line. 

I figured right. 

On the run and jumping off my left foot, I made a nice grab over about 4 other ballhawks. 

It felt good.  I had struggled with the weirdest fortune the previous two days. 

It felt good to shine.

After BP, I went over to watch young pitching phenom Tommy Hanson go through his warmup…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 011.jpg

6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 012.jpg

For the game, this was my view straight ahead…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 018.jpg
…to my left…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 019.jpg
…that’s the right field foul pole.

Finally, to my right…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 020.jpg
…everyone crowds the front, potentially leaving the game home runs for me.

That’s my blue backpack…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 021.jpg
…and glove.  I stood in front of that flag pole for nearly the entire
game.  If a homerun was coming, it was mine.  Confident?  Yes. 

But, it wasn’t meant to be.

After the game, Home plate umpire MIKE REILLY tossed me a game ball (BALL #9) near the umpire’s exit.

Take a closer look at the ump ball…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 026.jpg
…do you see that circular residue?  It looks like a sticker was on the ball at one point.
I’ve never seen this before…any ideas??

My theory:  each major league baseball comes from the factory
individually wrapped in a piece of tissue paper.  That tissue paper
protects the baseball inside the box.  The tissue paper is secured
around the ball by a sticker to prevent it from coming off the ball. 
The sticker is not supposed to touch the ball.  In this case, it may
have.

The baseballs I did NOT catch on the fly…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 025.jpg…as you can see the nice little scuff marks on them.

A really bad/bright picture of me taken after the game…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 022.jpg…by the visitors (Braves) dugout.

Finally, the 9 baseballs…
6_12_09 Braves vs Orioles @ Camden Yards 024.jpg…all are shown.  The ump game ball is on top (I do not career # game balls).

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 9 total balls 6/12/09

8 batted baseballs (5 caught on fly)

1 toss-up baseball


ATTENDANCE:  28,469

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
___________________

189 baseballs (30 games)
6.3 average per game

5/12/09 @ Miller Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I moved back to right field.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Marlins relievers were now exiting the field. 

leo nunez.jpg

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

Ball #13!

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

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

Marlins closer MATT LINDSTROM.

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

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




2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 14 total balls 5/12/09

5 batted balls (2 caught on fly)

7 toss-up balls

2 device

ATTENDANCE:  29,331

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
___________________

125 baseballs (17 games)
7.35 average per game

Back with a vengeance!

4/10/09 @ Miller Park (Home Opener)

I was back home on familiar turf.  I had arrived home from Toronto in the wee hours of the morning on Friday and grabbed a couple hours sleep.  It was now time to prepare for our home opener.  An obnoxious, beer spilling, cussing, Scrub fan riddled, sewer hole sellout we call Opening Day.  It’s always this way every year, but, this time we were opening our home schedule against the hated rivals to the south.  It pains me to even mention them by proper name.  Many people come just for the party.  That’s fine-just don’t get in my way.

By the time I carved my way through the traffic jam and grabbed a parking spot, I was running a bit behind.  The gates to the stadium were to open at 105 pm for the 305pm game.  I usually never pay for parking, but this was opening day…I had to park in the lot. 

I sprinted all the way from the back general parking lot to the stadium (approx. 1 mile).  After I had my ticket scanned, I bolted to the bleacher area.

Here’s what the crowd looked like filing in…
4_11_09 Cubs vs Brewers 001.jpgIn 2008. the Brewers had something like 47 sellouts with an average attendance of around 38,000.  When the Cubs come to town, things get messier. 

The Brewers were not even hitting (they must all be accomplished hitters in no need of practice).  The Cubs were out stretching.  Okay.  I ran all the way from the back lot to watch 20 minutes of muscle stretching.  Great.  The exercise was good.

The Cubs finally made themselves worthwhile as the bats began to swing.  After unsuccessfully trying to get a toss-up ball during pitcher’s warm-ups, I headed over to right field.  Fukudome, Lee and Bradley were hitting.

I made it over to the loge bleachers (200 level) in right field just in time for KOSUKE FUKUDOME to jack one in my direction.  I ran to my left through an entire section.  I was in the 3rd row.  I never took my eye off the ball.  I made the catch on the fly leaning over one of the aisle railings for BASEBALL #1.  My first catch on the fly this season.  A guy standing in the front row looked at me and said, “okay, okay.”  As if to say, ‘Boy, if I want a baseball, I’ll have to step up my game with him around.’ 

Damn right.

I had spent three days in Toronto and snagged 25 baseballs and not one of them had been on the fly.  I couldn’t recall the last time I had gone anywhere without snagging at least one on the fly during a series.  It was nice to get that one out of the way.  As much as I despise Miller Park’s ballhawking situation, it was kinda nice to be back home.

The next group to hit was Ramirez, Soriano, Theriot and Fontenot.

I re-positioned myself down to the field level (100 level) for Soriano.  If you’re ever snagging at a Cubs game, position yourself in deep centerfield off-set to the right field side.  Soriano takes BP balls in that direction.  I was in perfect position to snag an ALFONSO SORIANO BP ball on the fly for BASEBALL #2.  I leaned out over the railing and made a clean catch with not much competition.
Here’s a look at the 15 foot drop over the railing where I snagged the Soriano BP homer…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 007.jpg                                             TRACK…WALL…GONE!!
                                           It pays to do your homework.

The last Cubs group took their turns in the cage.  I figured lower level bleachers would be the place to be since the group was a bit on the light-side, hitting-wise.

Cubs catcher KOYIE HILL was  pulling everything down the right field line so, I inched toward the foul pole.  He finally hit one that had some air under it.  I ran to my left and made the grab on the fly for BASEBALL #3

After BP ended, a group of guys approached me and asked me if I was the guy who made “the catch” at that Spring Training game in Arizona.  I told them that I was.  Since they had seen me snag 3 on the fly at various spots in the stadium that day, they asked me how I know where to be.  I told them I do my homework.

It then occurred to me that I had snagged a baseball on the fly in 3 of the 4 bleacher sections of Miller Park.  I couldn’t recall the last time I had accomplished that.

Some pics…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 006.jpg    My view of the field.  Nothing in front of me except green grass and game home run balls.

4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 008.jpg

                            My view to the right looking into centerfield.

4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 009.jpg                     My view to the left looking into right field and the visitor’s bullpen.

The CITGO gas pump located in right-center field…
If you’re ever at a Brewers game, stop by the gas pump and say “hello.”  Chances are good that I will be at the game.  Just look for the yellow shirt.

Here’s a picture of a great Brewers fan…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 012.jpgI call him “Big Joe.”  Joe has season seats directly next to mine.  Joe’s a dedicated fan and he also serves as my personal security :)

In the 3rd inning, Brewers RF Corey Hart jacked one that was coming to my section.  I ran over to my left, camped underneath it…OH NO!!  I had run out of room.  My back was against this gigantic stupid railing that separates my seats from a big dumb gimmicky section behind us that the Brewers call “Toyota Tundra Territory.”  It’s just another promotional area of the stadium that puts us one step closer to looking like a minor league stadium. 
Just my opinion.

Here’s a picture of where the Corey Hart game home run landed…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 013.jpg                  X marks the spot.  It went about 10-15 feet over my head…so close!

In the 9th inning, the Brewers were down 3-2.  So, I snuck down to the Cubs dugout for a last out ball or an ump ball.  Whaddya know, the Brewers scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to win the game.  The crowd went nuts, the Cubs players left dejected and the umps left the field not even able to hear themselves.  They certainly couldn’t hear me yelling for their attention. 

There would be no more baseballs retrieved by this ballhawk on this day.

Our walk to the parking lots…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 021.jpgMiller Park is not a good stadium for ballhawking…trust me.  With it’s crammed layout, high attendance and gimmicky promotional areas, moving around to snag baseballs is very difficult.

My lovely wife, April, freezing her rear end off walking back to my truck…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 030.jpg                                      As we walk in the shadows of Miller Park.

Check out this tailgating destruction…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY 026.jpg                                       Imagine having to clean that mess up!?!

Total baseballs for Brewers Opening Day 2009…
4_10_09 Cubs vs Brewers OPENING DAY.jpg Three (3)…of course, I would have liked more, but, at least they were all snagged on the fly.



2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 3 total balls 4/10/09

3 balls hit (all snagged on fly)

ATTENDANCE:  45,455

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs

___________________

28 baseballs (4 games)
7.0 average per game




Ballhawk League

I’m proud to say I have officially become a charter member of a new Ballhawk League.

Erik, over at COUNTING BASEBALLS blog, has come up with this great idea.
It’s a league comprised of ballhawks nationwide. 
The goal?  To collect as many baseballs as possible during the 2009 season. 
I’ve already planned on doing this, but, this makes it a bit more fun. 
Now, I can do it competitively against ballhawks around the nation.  How cool is that?

Like I needed any motivation, right? 

Here’s how I would like to see the ballhawk league structured:
(nice and simple)

Don over at THE ROCKPILE RANT, suggested a point system.  I’m down with that.

  • 10 POINTS – awarded for every game home run snagged.  It should not matter how you retrieve a game home run.  It’s the only one on earth hit by that actual player, on that particular day, for that exact career # home run.  It’s an official baseball statistic that will be recorded in every stat book until this world is destroyed by nukes.  It’s rare, people!  And it should net the lucky recipient exactly 10 points, regardless of method retrieved.  As long as that fan was the first to obtain possession of the home run ball.    (no buying game home runs)
  • 5 POINTS – awarded for every game ball snagged.  It should not matter how you retrieve a game ball.  If it was put in play, it should be recorded that way.  Whether you caught it in foul territory, had it tossed to you by a player after the 3rd out in an inning or asked an umpire at the conclusion of the game…if it’s rubbed with the mud it stands.  Again, as long as that fan was the first to obtain possession of the game ball.
  • 3 POINTS – awarded for every Batting Practice ball caught on the fly.  If you catch a BP ball on the fly, you should be rewarded with 3 points.  It takes a bit of skill to catch a BP ball, it should have a higher value than a toss-up.  As long as that ball left the bat and the next thing it met was your glove, it’s worth three. 
  • 2 POINTS – awarded for toss-up baseballs.  It’s fun yucking it up with the players.  It also takes a set of skills to get a player to toss you a baseball.  Especially when you’re too old, the wrong gender and don’t have D cups.  These count as official snagger statistics and should be credited accordingly.  Two, I say…two!!
  • 1 POINT – awarded for all other baseballs retrieved.  This would include (but not limited to) baseballs retrieved through some sort of device, trickery, scheming, luck, etc.  Ever find an easter egg just laying there in the bottom row of a bleacher?  Of course!  You were the first fan to obtain possession of it…it counts as an official ballhawk statistic…a player didn’t throw it to you…you didn’t catch it…so what?  It should count for something, right?

 
A FEW SIDE NOTES:
As much as I like getting autographs, I think it makes this a tad more complicated to grade.  I’m open to ideas, but, I think autographs need to sit this one out.

I agree with ZACK HAMPLE that there may need to be some sort of attendance factor recorded.  At the very least, it should be recorded as a side statistic.

I also believe each member of the ballhawk league must have his/her own blog to record his/her official statistics.  It’s free and easy. 
This will give each member his/her very own forum to display official statistics. 
It gives each member credibility, it helps ERIK-our founder calculate the stats and takes away any confusion in relaying information.

I also think each ballhawk league member that is a parent to small children should be rewarded because of this.  Like, 5000 one-time bonus points awarded for each kid that’s under 3 feet tall.  Also, each ballhawk league member that’s married should be awarded a one-time bonus point value of, let’s say, 500,000 points ;-0 

Okay, on a serious note…
This league is based on trust.  We’re all ballhawks.  We’re all in this thing together.  There’s no prize…just bragging rights.  Don’t be stupid and lie your way through this. 
There’s no honor in that. 

What do you think?
 

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