Results tagged ‘ Ballhawk Shawn ’

4/27/09 @ Miller Park

The Brewers were finally back in town after an 11-day absence.  I had made a spontaneous trip to Wrigley Field on April 21st because I was baseball starved. 
But, the BrewCrew were back and I was ready.

The day began when I met NYC ballhawk extraordinaire Zack Hample at the Milwaukee Amtrak train station.  Zack was coming in from Chicago and was going to be my guest for a night. 

After taking Zack on the not-so-scenic tour of Milwaukee, we headed to the ballpark.

There she is off in the distance from Interstate 94…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpgWhenever
I take this sight in, I feel a void.  I miss Milwaukee County Stadium. 
While Miller Park is nice, I miss the simplicity of the old park.  I
miss the GA bleacher sections. 
I miss rain delays.  I miss a 1/2 empty stadium on the weekend.
(Milwaukee County Stadium once stood just to the right of Miller Park from this view)

We were getting closer…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg                                            The drive down into the valley.

Yeah, baby…1st ones in the parking lot…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 034.jpg
The walk up to Miller Park from the General Parking lot…

4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 032.jpg…took us here.
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 013.jpgZack and I stopped for a photo together…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 035.jpg            …we’ve known each other about 3 weeks and got along great from the start. 
We continued walking toward the stadium and paid homage to Hammerin’ Hank…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 070.jpgThat
brick inlay with the bronze plate (in the asphalt) signifies the
approximate spot where Hank Aaron’s last career home run (#755) landed
back on July 20, 1976.  The ball was hit off Dick Drago down the left
field line at Milwaukee County Stadium, landing in the lower grandstand
seating area.  After County Stadium was demolished, this tribute was
put in place years later.

A little league field called “Helfaer
Field” (shown above) was constructed on the old site of County
Stadium.  In the photo, the view looks toward home plate.  The home
plate of the little league field is in the approximate spot where home
plate was at Milwaukee County Stadium.

A closer look at the historical marker…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 069.jpg                                     …forever the home run king in Milwaukee.

After saying hello to “Rockin’ Robin…
yount statue.JPG                                                We entered the stadium.

The 1st thing I noticed was a potential glove trick opportunity in the left field moat.
So, naturally, I went to work on it.

Lower the glove…
Glove trick 42709.JPGA little lower…
Happy using glove trick 42709.JPGGot it…
happy glove trick!!42709.JPGSteady, steady…
Happy glove trick 42709!!.JPG                                                             Yeah!
                                                      BASEBALL #1.

BASEBALL #2 came via a toss-up from Brewers relief pitcher JORGE JULIO.

I decided to give Zack a little space on the lower patio.  So, I headed out to the upper patio.
Not long after I arrived, Brewers CF MIKE CAMERON hit a bomb that I gloved on the fly for BASEBALL #3.

Brewers pitcher MARK DIFELICE tossed me BASEBALL #4 about 3 minutes later. 
When I looked at the ball, I discovered it had some character to it. 

See for yourself…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 060.jpg                                                             So true!!

I went back down to the lower patio because I couldn’t stand still.  While I was down there, Pirates Pitcher ZACH DUKE was doing some early wind sprints on the warning track.  A ball came to him, I asked for it and soon had BASEBALL #5.
The Brewers were almost done hitting when Bill Hall cranked back to back shots into the left field bleachers.  I ran where I wasn’t supposed to be and claimed BASEBALL #6 & BASEBALL #7 both on the bounce. 

Sometimes, you have to bend the rules.

The Pirates were now on the field taking BP.  I had moved to right field for Adam LaRoche bombs.  I spotted Pirates relief pitcher EVAN MEEK shagging some BP directly in front of me.  I called out his full name and he turned and fired BASEBALL #8 right to me.  I think he was just happy someone knew his name without simply reading the back of his jersey.  The fact that I was decked out in Pirates gear certainly did not hurt, either.

A few minutes later, BASEBALL #9 came courtesy of Pirates pitcher PAUL MAHOLM.  I gave it directly to a kid that was standing next to me.

BASEBALL #10 was crushed by ADAM LAROCHE that I snagged on the bounce up in the right field loge bleachers.

Pirates pitcher SEAN BURNETT (very willing to toss baseballs into the stands) soon fired me BASEBALL #11 when asked to do so.

I was rolling…and not finished.

Baseball #11 had just tied my personal 1 day snagging record.  I’d snagged 11 in one game a handful of times, but could never get that elusive #12…until today.

My personal best came courtesy of Pirates pitcher PAUL MAHOLM.  Yeah, that’s right…a 2nd time!  Turns out he had seen me give the young fella #9 a few minutes earlier and decided I should have one of my own. 

I moved over to right center field because I had gotten toss-up baseballs from most of the players standing in right field.

Pirates reliever ROSS OHLENDORF tossed me BASEBALL #13 about 5 minutes after my arrival.  He was a really cool guy.  Very friendly and extremely willing to give some souvenirs.

It was about 6:10 and I already had 13 baseballs.  There was still 15 minutes left to BP!
Before the day had started, I made it my personal goal to break Zac
k Hample’s single-day Milwaukee record of 17.  I told him I couldn’t have a New Yorker holding a Milwaukee record.  All in good fun, of course.

I was well on my way until the Pirates flat out stopped hitting the ball with any authority.

BP ended and I was still stuck on 13 baseballs.

Thirty minutes before game time, I decided to go down to the Pirates dugout.  When I arrived, I met up with Zack and another Milwaukee ballhawk named Shawn.  Shawn has what it takes to be a good ballhawk.  He’s a charter member of our BALLHAWK LEAGUE and has his own blog.  Check it out here.

While we were sitting above the Bucs dugout, we made the Pittsburgh telecast…
Happy Shawn & Zack on Pittsburgh TV.JPG                                 From left to right:  Happy, Shawn and Zack.

            (Special thanks to ERIK JABS for taking this screen shot and sending it to me)

It was now gametime and I was still in that 3rd row seat above the Pirates dugout. 
I figured what the hell?  Might as well stay.  So, I did…for the entire game!

Before the start of the bottom of the 6th, Pirates 1B coach PERRY HILL tossed me BASEBALL #14.

It was a beauty. 
Take a look…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 065.jpgand the other side…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 066.jpg…absolutely hammered with use!!
This ball was the infield warmup ball used before the start of the home half of the 6th inning.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, Brewers SS J.J. Hardy struck out swinging for the final out.  Pirates catcher and Wisconsin native JASON JARAMILLO jogged toward the dugout.  I went down to the front row and held up my glove.  Jason underhanded it to me for BASEBALL #15.

Here’s a look at the 3rd out ball…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 061.jpg…gorgeous!!

I ended my day with a new personal best of 15 baseballs snagged.  While 18 was my goal, I was thrilled to crack double digits for the 4th time on this young season. 
Zack’s Milwaukee record lives to see another day.

After the game, we took another group shot…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 048.jpgLeft to right:  Zack Hample, The Happy Youngster, Ballhawk Shawn and Brewer Ben.

Of the 15 balls I snagged, 8 of them had something goofy written on the sweetspot.
Take a look…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 059.jpg                           …funny stuff.  My personal favorite-YOU’RE MARRIED? 
                                                      Boys will be boys.

Finally, a new personal record…
4_27_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 068.jpg       The picture shows 14 baseballs (1 was given away).  But, you get the point, eh?

SPECIAL THANKS TO ZACK HAMPLE FOR PROVIDING ME A FEW PHOTOS FOR THIS BLOG ENTRY.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 15 total balls 4/27/09

4 batted balls (1 caught on fly)

10 toss-ups

1 device

ATTENDANCE:  32,198

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
___________________

75 baseballs (10 games)
7.5 average per game

4/12/09 @ Miller Park

This game was to be televised on ESPN as the Sunday night game of the week.

I hurried to the ballpark for Batting Practice.  Before I entered the stadium, I left my extra ticket at the will call window for a fellow Milwaukee ballhawk named Mike.  I affectionately refer to him as “Big Mike.” 

“Big Mike” has been ballhawking the Milwaukee scene since 1987-the year he snagged his first career in-game home run baseball.  Mike’s not as nimble as he once was, but, I believe he has 26 career game home runs snagged.  Not too shabby.

Here was my line entering the stadium…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 001.jpgThis gate is somewhat of an unknown.  A well kept secret, if you will.  It’s located on the  back-side of the stadium.  It’s called the Party Patio.  It’s an actual ticketed entrance all season long.  If you’re in a hurry to get in like I am, use this entrance and save yourself some valuable BP time.

I got BP off with a bang by using the glove trick in the visitor’s bullpen for BASEBALL #1.

The Cubs first group of hitters weren’t doing much and I was getting antsy in the pantsy.  The 2nd group took their cuts including Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano.  Based on past experience, I knew exactly where Soriano would hit them.  Boy, was I right.

I established my spot and waited…it only took 1 minute before ALFONSO SORIANO jacked one that I snagged on the bounce for BASEBALL #2
Rarely, do players jack back-to-back home runs in BP to the same spot.  But, it happened this day.  As I was running up to claim #2, BASEBALL #3 landed 15 feet from me.  I think I was a little off my game but it may have been Soriano just being a stud.  I grabbed that one on the bounce, too.
Five minutes later, ALFONSO SORIANO was at it again.  Another swing of the bat and the ball was coming.  I camped underneath it and caught it on the fly for BASEBALL #4.  Before Mr. Soriano was finished, I managed to catch BASEBALL #5 on the fly in the same fashion in nearly the same location.  I always say, “it pays to do your homework.” 

The remaining Cubs hitters decided they didn’t want to donate anymore baseballs to the cause.  BP was over.

After BP, a gentleman approached me and asked me if I would be willing to sell one of my baseballs.  I asked him if he had any kids.  He said he had a son celebrating a birthday today.  I told him that if he brought his son over, he could have a baseball for free.  He told me he would return.

About 10 minutes later, the man returned with his teenage son and a younger boy.  I picked out one of the nicer baseballs I had snagged that day and handed it over to the boy.  I wished him a happy birthday and took the following picture…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 002.jpgBirthday Boy Braeden celebrating his 8th birthday at the ballpark with his older brother and father.  I love seeing families spending quality time together at the yard. 

I met up with “Big Mike” and we headed to the concessions stand for a little pre-game meal.  Since I had provided the ticket, Mike was providing the food.  I ordered the chorizo…a new phenomenon at Miller Park.

Here’s Mike at the concessions stand.  If you come to Miller Park and run into this guy, you have to stop and say hi.  Tell him you know The Happy Youngster! 
He’s a riot…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 003.jpgLook at these freakin’ prices…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 004.jpg

                                   It’s no wonder Jeff Suppan makes 12MM a year.

I wandered up to the 400 level to take a few pictures.
Here’s a view of the field from the 400 level of the Terrace Reserved seats…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 007.jpgI usually sit just to the right field side of the hitter’s eye.  Provides me some home run ball opportunities from time to time.

On the way to my seats, these guys were walking in front of me…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 008.jpg                                        Now, that’s some funny stuff.

A random view down into the lower level (100 level) of right field bleachers…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 009.jpgA huge overhang prevents many of the home runs from landing here.  The ones that do make it on the lower level are liners and squeakers in the first 7 rows.

Here’s a picture of Ballhawk Shawn…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 011.jpg        Shawn is a charter member of our BALLHAWK LEAGUE and a great baseball fan here in Milwaukee.  Stop by Shawn’s blog if you get the chance-he knows baseball.

It was now game time so I settled into my seat.

In the 4th inning, Brewers RF Corey Hart stepped to the plate. 
You may recall on Friday the 10th of April (Brewers home opener), Corey Hart hit a home run 15 feet over my head that landed on a set of stairs.

Well, Corey Hart did it again.  This time, he hit it about 5 feet over my head. 

The scoop:
I’m sitting in the front row and it’s coming my way (opposite-field).  I know it’s hit hard so I run up the first set of stairs.  I turn around to find the ball.  When I locate it in the air, I realize it’s still going to be over my head, so, I run up another small set of stairs.  By the time it lands, I’m 5 feet away from it.  Too many stairs to climb in too little time.  It takes an awkward bounce off a guy’s arm and falls to the concourse below (about a 7-10 foot drop).  I’m about to jump over the railing and claim it when two guys just so happened to be walking by and see it bounce around in a small nook.  One of the passers-by picks it up effortlessly and takes off running.   Dammit!!  I pull myself back on the right side of the railing…commence kicking self in rear.  That’s the second time in three days Corey Hart hit in to my section and over my head. 
I’ve played that home run over in my head about 50 times.  I’ve asked myself tons of questions…
 

  • What could I have done differently?
  • Why did I not catch that?
  • Why did the guy in the hat not catch it?
  • Why does Miller Park have so many obstacles?
  • Will I ever be the same?
  • Am I crazy?

I’m convinced that narrowly missing game home runs makes you a better ballhawk over time.  You learn from little mistakes, little hesitations, etc.  I play it over in my head as if I get a “do-over” or something.  Maybe the next time I’ll do it better.  Oh well.

Here’s a picture of where the Corey Hart homer would have landed…if not for the guy in the hat and green coat.  I was about 5 feet away when he stuck his arm out to try to catch it…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 012.jpgThere’s a lot of “what-ifs” here.  If he hadn’t stuck his arm out I would have most likely snagged it on the 1st bounce.  Oh well, I’ll get it next time.

Moving on.

It was Easter Sunday, so this picture taken from near my seat is appropriate…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 015.jpg                                         Look closely…see the easter egg? 

Zoom, shall we…?
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 014.jpg

          There it is.  Almost looks like it has a larger commemorative logo on it…hmm.

In the top of the 9th inning, I relocated to the 6th row by the Cubs dugout for an ump ball.
Meanwhile, I took the following pics from my new seat…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 016.jpg
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 018.jpg

See the guy seated on the left side of the photo on the aisle wearing the gray hooded sweatshirt? 

This guy…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 019.jpgThat’s former DUKE University basketball standout J.J. REDICK.  It turns out, the Orlando Magic were in town to play the Milwaukee Bucks the following night.  He and a few of his Magic teammates (including Jameer Nelson and Marcin Gortat) were taking in the Brewers game from the best seats in the house.

I always keep a game ball in my bag for these exact situations. 

After home plate umpire Angel Hernandez dissed me and the game had ended, I politely asked Mr. Redick to sign the ball pictured below…
4_12_09 Cubs vs Brewers 023.jpg     His pro career hasn’t amounted to much, but, collegiately-he was one of the best.

Finals for the day…
5 baseballs (3 are shown – one given to birthday boy/1 given to usher in my section)




2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 5 total balls 4/12/09

2 caught on fly (hit)

2 snagged on bounce (hit)

1 device

ATTENDANCE:  40,168

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

___________________

38 baseballs (6 games)
6.33 average per game

Our road trip to meet Matt Holliday

Yesterday, Ballhawk Shawn (click here for his blog) and I made a road trip down to Rosemont, Illinois to meet Matt Holliday.  I wanted to go because a few years back, I caught Holliday’s 19th career home run at PNC Park. 

Of the 47 game home run baseballs I have snagged over the years, only 25 I’ve had signed by the players that hit them.

     Make it 26…
Holliday game home run.jpgMatt Holliday was laid back and cool (he was getting paid to be there) and was more than happy to inscribe the date (July 22, 2005) and the career # (19th Career HR).

He seemed interested that I had presented an actual game home run of his (probably doesn’t happen often) to be signed.

  Here’s a picture of me with the burly slugger…
Me, Matt Holliday and his home run.JPG

     Here’s Future Star Ballhawk Shawn with Matt Holliday…
Rosemont Sports Show 067.jpg
This day I would also meet Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.  Being the Brewers fan that I am, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to meet “Molly” again.

Here’s Pauly signing my 1982 World Series baseball…notice I’m keeping a watchful eye :)
Rosemont Sports Show 075.jpg
Finally, here’s Paul Molitor posing with The Happy Youngster…he doesn’t seem too interested, does he)?
Rosemont Sports Show 077.jpg
Good times had by all!

Here’s a random picture of my daughter and I (and Dora the Explorer) in the Brewers dugout this past baseball season…
Clara 2year pics 005.jpg

because she’s so freakin’ cool!

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