Results tagged ‘ ballhawking ’

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

8/26/09 @ Miller Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who says white men can’t jump??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blahblahblah…the Brewers season has been a major disappointment.

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

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

How do you think that got there??

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

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

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

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 4 total balls 8/26/09

4 batted baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  35,084

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
8/26/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

306 baseballs (50 games)
6.12 average per game

…400 baseballs snagged this season is within reach…

“Happy”

8/25/09 @ Miller Park

Wanna know how early I arrived at the ballpark?

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

Seeing that is a first.

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

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

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

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

I love watching that guy hit.                                                                                                                                                                        PRINCE FIELDER   

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

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

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

…including WLADIMIR BALENTIEN. 

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

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

NICK MASSET

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

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

Unfortunately, that was it for BP.

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

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

The game ended up going into extra innings. 

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

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

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

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

The man hooked me up.

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

Thanks Jimbo.

Double-digits, baby.

JIM JOYCE

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

…two (2) were given away.



2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 8/25/09

4 batted baseballs

6 tossup baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  29,481

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

302 baseballs (49 games)
6.16 average per game

The Curse of Coghlan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…I thought I would send Chris a little gift…

Curse of Coghlan 2009 002.jpg

…whaddya think??

The note reads:

Chris-

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


“Happy”

Of course…all in good fun.

8/17/09 @ US Cellular Field

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

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

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

More on this later…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and I. 

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

Would there be BP??

YES!!  The BP GODS have spoken!

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

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

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

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

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

Things started to happen really fast from here on out. 

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

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

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

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

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

billy butler.jpg

Ball #6 came off the bat of
BILLY BUTLER.

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

Smack…on the fly.

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

john buck.jpg

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

I was locked in.

                                                                                                                JOHN BUCK

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, BP soon ended.

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

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

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

That’s when I saw *it*

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

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

Do you see it?  Holy ****!!

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

I had to get that ball for the following reasons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

…see the home run ball? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BEGIN MISSION CARLOS QUENTIN HOME RUN BALL:

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

I can say this:

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

If you see me, ask me about it.

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

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

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

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

…with the game home run ball in the front.

What a day…

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 8/17/09

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

1 tossup baseball

4 device baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  36,703

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

292 baseballs (48 games)
6.08 average per game

8/16/09 @ Miller Park

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

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

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

…roofs are overrated.

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

…it’s called “The Uecker Line.”

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

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

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

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

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

…!!

Not a bad deal, eh?? 

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

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

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

wandy rodriguez.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

…oh well, no big deal.

I’m used to it by now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…one (1) was given to Lexi.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 3 total balls 8/16/09

2 batted baseballs

1 tossup baseball

ATTENDANCE:  41,863

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
___________________

282 baseballs (47 games)
6.00 average per game

8/15/09 @ Miller Park

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

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

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

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

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

He said, “Is anyone in there?”

I responded, “Nobody.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

It did not pay off. 

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

For that, Lance gets the clown treatment.

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

bud norris.jpg

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

…BUD NORRIS.

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

I’ll be rooting for him.

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

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

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

  • 4 total balls 8/15/09

1 batted baseball

2 tossup baseballs

1 device baseball

ATTENDANCE:  42,952


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

How lame is that?






2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

279 baseballs (46 games)
6.07 average per game

PLEASE ALLOW ME TO RANT:

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

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


BILL HALL GAME USED HELMET:  $800

8_15_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg


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

Are you kidding me??

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

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

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

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

Insane…whaddya think?

Wall Street Journal article

A few months back, David Biderman from the Wall Street Journal e-mailed me about doing a ballhawk-related article.

Here it is…

wall_street_journal2d.jpg

I thought it was a bit sneaky to quote Chris Coghlan, “he told me he goes around a lot and catches these balls and holds them for ransom” only to leave out the last (and most important) part of that original quote.  “While he didn’t say that he does, it seems that way.”

The piece made all ballhawks look like greedy bloodsuckers.  Not true.
But, I have to admit:  being in the WSJ is still pretty cool.

Zack Hample (in red shade) and a few other ballhawks got mentions as well.

Photos courtesy of Zack Hample

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

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