Results tagged ‘ batting practice ’

9/30/09 @ Coors Field

This would be my 2nd and final game at Coors Field on this trip.  Due to a family obligation, I would be flying out of Denver (on standby) early in the morning.  I would be skipping the last game of the series because I *HAD* to get back to Milwaukee earlier than I originally planned.

As it turns out, this was going to be my last game of the 2009 season.
I absolutely had to end my season on a positive note…

Kenny and I arrived at the ballpark around 4:15pm and a small line had already formed by the Rockpile Gate.  Shortly thereafter, our friend Don “The Rockpile Ranter” showed up with his son Hunter.  I had read all of Don’s blog entries where he talked about his son.  Finally, I was able to meet him.  One cool little dude.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking straight, and failed to get a picture with Hunter.

We didn’t have to wait long and the gates to the stadium were open.

It also didn’t take me long to snag ball #1.  It came off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki and I fielded it on a bounce off the warning track.  It took a playable bounce unlike the Ryan Braun ground-rule double the day before.

That’s the only baseball I snagged during the Rockies portion of BP.
Soon, the Brewers took the field.

You could tell they were out of the pennant race…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 003.jpg
…by looking at this picture.

It originally said:  COFFEY IS A FA_
The author was Yovani Gallardo and he was referring to teammate Todd Coffey.  Gallardo was trying to find a teammate who would give him a “G” to finish the sentence (those are his words, not mine).

Brewers reliever Carlos Villanueva walked over and began to hover over the missing letter.  He acted as if he was going to fill it in.
Some people yelled, “do it!”  Some yelled, “don’t do it!”
I think I yelled both.

Either way, Gallardo ended up scratching out the “A” and finishing FA_ with the following…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 006.jpg
…might as well have a little fun, eh?

 

Eventually, I would snag ball #2 off the bat of Ryan Braun.  The ball was snagged on the bounce after it managed to elude my glove.  I say this because I’m pretty sure I should have caught it on the fly.  For whatever reason, I didn’t play back toward the railing as far as I could have. 

It’s kind of like an outfielder going back on a ball that’s on the warning track.  He knows the wall is coming but jumps prematurely or doesn’t play as far back as he could out of fear that he will strike the wall.  That’s what happened to me.  But, I still ended up with the baseball.

My 3rd and final baseball of Batting Practice came via tossup from Brewers 3B Coach Brad Fischer.  “Fisch” was walking toward one that had rolled down the left field line.  I saw this and ran over to the “well” (the large grounds crew opening down the left field line).  I held up my glove and flapped it once or twice.  Mr. Fischer spotted the Brewers gear and gladly tossed it up.

BP was not as good as yesterday, but, the same held true-most baseballs would land up in the pavilion.  The bottom row offers much room to roam, but, there just aren’t many front row jobs at Coors Field during BP.  That considered, I *still* would not have changed a thing regarding my game plan.

Sadly, Batting Practice for my 2009 season came to an end with another 3 baseball performance.

I needed to release some depression with nature…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 007.jpg
…so, I stuck my head in the trees located in the beautiful batter’s eye.

After the sadness subsided, I met up with these two Rockies superfans…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 012.jpg
…Ballhawk Dan and his daughter Emily.

As you may recall, I met Dan & Emily back at the 2009 Home Run Derby in St. Louis, MO.  Emily has attended over 300 Colorado Rockies games to date…wow.
Dan is a veteran ballhawk who has snagged 41 game home runs on the fly and an additional 33 by other means.  Very impressive.

After
more wandering around, I spotted the fan pictured below…
 
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 010.jpg
…wearing the blue jeans, black cap, sunglasses and toting the black backpack.

Being a loyal blog-reader of fellow ballhawk Zack Hample, I recognized him as the guy who shoved Zack going for a BP baseball that was hit into a tunnel back on 6/17/08Because of that fateful moment, Zack tabbed the guy as “pure evil.”

Having looked pure evil in the eyes many times over the years, I wanted to see if this guy lived up to the billing.

His name is Douglas and he’s a season-ticket holder in the front row at Coors Field.  He’s attended games in 50 different MLB stadiums including a few World Series and All-Star games.  His baseball-related resume goes on and on…
I know this because I ended up sitting next to him the entire game.  Actually, he turned out to be a pretty decent guy (the fact that he did NOT shove me into a wall probably had something to do with this perception).

My view during the game…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 019.jpg
…again, was simply awesome.

Coors Field reminds me a lot of old Milwaukee County Stadium.  A gigantic front-row aisle to run for game home runs, an open well down the left field line and an overall fun atmosphere were just a few of the similarities.
I truly loved Milwaukee County Stadium and miss it dearly. 

Just when I was beginning to love Coors Field
…I started to love it a whole helluva lot more.

In the top of the 2nd inning, Brewers slugger Prince Fielder stepped to the plate.
Prince has been pretty damn good to me over the years.  I’d snagged three (3) of his game home runs at Miller Park (career #61, #67 & #97).

Make it four…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 029.jpg
…Prince Fielder’s 158th career jack. 

My 54th career game home run snagged during actual MLB regular season games.
In addition, I collected the coveted “Clean Catch Pin” in the process for making it a clean snag.

WATCH THE VIDEO HIGHLIGHT 

Did you see the tip of the cap to Rockies CF Carlos Gonzalez?  It occurs at 17 seconds during the video highlight.  Carlos was staring at me, so, I tipped my cap to him.

Here’s Usher Bob (in purple coat), the gentleman who awarded me with the clean catch pin…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 017.jpg
…with “Big Tom” (in white cowboy hat) looking on.

Here’s where the Fielder jack was snagged…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 018.jpg
…marked by the red “X.”

Check out where Prince made contact with the ball…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 032.jpg
…holy hell, look at how flat that side of the baseball is!

Prince is a stud.  Plain and simple.  I’m going to hate watching him in a Red Sox uniform.

 

Did you notice by the pictures how everyone was dressed at this game??  The temperatures were in the low 50′s with a 25 mph wind.  It’s safe to say-I froze my asss off wearing shorts and The Happy Youngster shirt.


The picture below warmed the Rockies faithful up a bit…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 013.jpg
…showing the Marlins had defeated the Braves bringing the Rockies magic-number to clinch down to 2.

I was shivering so badly, I thought about leaving.  But, I couldn’t when there was an outside chance I could snag 2 game home runs in a single game for the 5th time in my snagging career.  I had done it on 5/29/99 (both on fly), 9/29/99 Game 2 (both on live bounce), 5/16/00 (both on fly) and 4/12/01 (one on fly/1 player tossup).

But, it wasn’t meant to be.
I was thrilled to end my 2009 snagging season with a bang.

After the game, I proudly posed with my newest prized possessions…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 026.jpg
…the Prince Fielder home run ball & the Clean Catch Pin.

Today’s snags…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 038.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

372 baseballs (including 7 game home runs) later…and my snagging season was over.


FINAL 2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • total balls 9/30/09


batted baseballs (including Prince Fielder’s game home run)

1 tossup baseball


ATTENDANCE:  41,465

 

 

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
8/26/09 = 4   baseballs
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs *(new Milwaukee record)*
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
9/16/09 = 4   baseballs
9/18/09 = 10 baseballs
9/21/09 = 3   baseballs
9/24/09 = 4   baseballs
9/29/09 = 3   baseballs
9/30/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

372 baseballs (61 games)
6.10 average per game

9/29/09 @ Coors Field

I was finally going to Coors Field.

 

I’d seen all the home run highlights over the years. 

I’d seen some of the same Rockies
ballhawks making home run grabs. 

I heard all about how the baseball travels farther in the
thin air. 

 

On TV, the place looked like it was built for
ballhawks. 

I *HAD* to find out for myself.

 

 

 

After an early morning flight from Milwaukee
to Denver, a long shuttle ride from
the airport to our hotel and an early check-in at the downtown Hyatt, Ballhawk
Kenny (my partner in crime as of late) and I were ready for the Mile-High
City.

 

Our day officially began with a short walk to find some
grub.  After lunch had concluded, we were
on our way to Coors Field.

 

The aforementioned Ballhawk Kenny in front of Coors Field…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 004.jpg

Yours truly in front of Coors Field…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 006.jpg

A look at the main stadium entrance behind home plate…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 008.jpg

The outside concourse that extends down the left field line…

Thumbnail image for 9_29_09 @ Coors Field 007.jpg

…and the right field line…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 009.jpg

 

When I walked up to the main gate and peered through, this
is what I saw…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 010.jpg

…my 1st look at the left field bleachers.

 One word:  WOW.

Our self-guided tour of Coors Field rolled on.

 

On the walk around the stadium, I spotted the sign pictured
below…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 017.jpg

…I’ve underlined the interesting part.

 

DANGERS OF WATCHING BASEBALL??

On the “danger-scale,” I would rank watching baseball
somewhere between pissing into the wind and farting on a 1st
date. 

I know, I know-it’s all about liability, but come on. 

 

Another sign I found particularly interesting…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 019.jpg

…now that makes sense.

*I would like to personally
thank the
Rockies organization for taking the necessary
means to prevent/deter excessive public displays of affection.*
 

Not only is it annoying, but it’s quite unnecessary.  Who wants to watch that ****? 

I mean, get a ******* room for christsakes.

 

Moving right along…

Here’s a picture of me standing by the left field gate…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 022.jpg

…giving my seal of approval.

 

How cool is the sign pictured below…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 025.jpg

…!?!

 

How many teams (that you know of) have a sign that points fans in the direction of Batting Practice? 

ANSWER:  not many. 

Pretty goddamn cool if you ask me.

 

 

It was a touch past high noon.  Kenny & I were planning on meeting up
with one cool dude at 2:45pm.  We had a few hours to burn, so, we headed
back to the hotel.

 

After a few hours, it was time to head back toward the
stadium for our meet.

 

The meeting place? 

The Blake Street Tavern located 4 blocks from Coors Field.

 

The cool dude we were meeting up with?

None other than my all-time favorite MLBlogger…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 033.jpg

…Don “The Rockpile Ranter.”

 

I started reading Don’s blog back in the offseason.  He’s a loyal fan of the Rockies
who tells it like it is.  He’s funny,
he’s witty, he’s a father and he’s one helluva good human being.  As an added bonus, Don compliments his
exceptional writing with great picture-taking. 
Want to read a quality MLBlog? 
Stop screwing around and click HERE.

 

Don and I outside the Rockpile gate…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 026.jpg

Kenny playing a little catch with the “Ranter”…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 029.jpg

Before we knew it, it was 4:30pm
and the gates to left field were about to open.

After a security check of my backpack and a scan of the
ticket, I was about to enter my 16th major league stadium.

 

When I ran in, it was a wonderful sight. 
The ballpark still looked like new and had an incredible flair to it.  A magnificent blend of yesterday and today,
Coors Field was beautiful and welcoming.

The Rockies BP was in full swing.  The gates to the stadium open 2 hrs. prior to 1st pitch (why all major league teams don’t do this??) at Coors Field, so, home team fans get to see their home team hit (now that’s logic).

It didn’t take long for me to snag my 1st baseball on the day.  It came off the bat of Chris Iannetta and I snagged it on the fly by my front row seats.  It was hit right at the wall.  I had to roll my glove over from the natural-method into a basket-style position.  Leaning out over the wall, the catch was made.

A little overview of the bottom-row seating in left field at Coors Field:

  1. Only fans holding tickets to the bottom row can stand in the front row and this includes Batting Practice.
  2. Fans holding tickets to the front row have access to employee bathrooms and the employee tunnels.
  3. During BP, you are not allowed to run from the bottom row up into the pavilion (I was warned after the 1st baseball landed 4 rows above my head and I attempted to run up after it).
  4. Stadium ushers are everywhere at all times checking ticket locations and are very polite about it in the process.
  5. The wall in left field is not very tall.
  6. It’s extremely easy to interfere with a baseball in play from the Coors Field bleachers.
  7. When sitting in the bottom row of seats, you MUST mind your “P’s & Q’s” while shagging BP.  It’s a privelege to sit there and you have to respect that. 

Take a look…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 050.jpg

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 053.jpg
…simply awesome. 
Do you see the yellow railing in the photo above?  It’s that easy to reach over and interfere.
The green seats above? That’s the only seating for the bottom row.
The guy in the black Brewers sweatshirt?  That’s ballhawk Kenny sending his 1000th text message of the day.

Talk about room to move around.

Unfortunately, BP baseballs are not put in humidors and most players don’t hit front row shots during Batting Practice.  On top of that, everyone, seemingly, had a baseball glove PLUS everyone seemed to know how to judge, track and catch a baseball off the bat.

This made the bottom row of seats a bit less desirable from a BP standpoint.

When the Brewers came up to hit, they put on an absolute home run clinic.  Baseballs were flying everywhere.  At one point, Brewers SS J.J. Hardy hit four (4) consecutive pitches into the left field pavilion. 

You guessed it:  everything was flying over my head.  But, that’s okay…I play for the games.

I did manage to get Brewers ace pitcher Yovani Gallardo to toss me ball #2…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 035.jpg

…and…

Brewers asss pitcher Seth McClung to toss me ball #3…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 036.jpg

…when I asked him to toss a ball up, he said, “I saw you catch a few already.”
To which I responded, “yeah, and I give them away just like I do in Milwaukee.”

He couldn’t argue with the facts.

After the Brewers finished donating a hundred or so baseballs, BP was over.
It was time to see the stadium.

My 1st stop was the Rockpile in centerfield…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 040.jpg
…no, those are not yeti frolicking in their indigenous state.  Those are grounds crew members retrieving baseballs that were hit into the batter’s eye.

A view of right field…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 041.jpg

…a view of the left field line and foul pole…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 045.jpg

…the 1B side…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 043.jpg
…the 3B side…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 044.jpg
…a view from the right field bleachers looking to left field…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 074.jpg
…do you notice how much room there is between rows?

A great design…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 071.jpg

…indeed.

Check out the purple row of seats that extend all the way around the stadium in the upper deck…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 042.jpg

…signifying the altitude located exactly 1-mile above sea-level.

Here’s a view of the batter’s eye greenery…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 082.jpg

A view of centerfield from the upper concourse in left field…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 070.jpg

Eventually, I made my way back to my seat. 
I chatted with a few of the local ballhawks including Dan pictured below…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 058.jpg

…standing with his back against the fence and arms crossed.  Dan is quite the accomplished ballhawk.  His current stats include 41 game home runs caught on the fly and 33 snagged by other means.  Very impressive, indeed.

Robert, another Rockies ballhawk, took the following photo of me…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 068.jpg

Ballhawk Robert has an interesting story of his own.  Click here to read it courtesy of fellow ballhawk Zack Hample.

Another pose…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 065.jpg

As far as the game is concerned, here’s where I sat…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 056.jpg

…directly above the red State Farm ad in the front row.
The other red arrow is pointing to a seating section *WAY* out in centerfield called “The Rockpile.”  Adult seats out there cost $4 each and children’s seats cost only $1. 

Here’s where Ballhawk Kenny sat/played the game…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 087.jpg
…with the red arrow giving me a fist pump.
The big fella in the scooter is “Big Tom.”  While I didn’t introduce myself, I hear he’s a pretty nice fella around these parts.

Again, look at how easy/tempting it is to interfere…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 089.jpg
In the top of the 3rd inning, Brewers LF Ryan Braun launched one in my direction.  I jumped up from my front row seat and ran to my right, lining myself up with the baseball.  It kept coming…and coming…but fell short, bouncing on the warning track about 10 feet shy of the wall.  The ball then took a 12-foot bounce directly over my head.  The ball landed in the 3rd row of the pavilion above/behind me for a ground-rule double.  I was absolutely helpless on the play.  Either I was going to catch the damn thing on the fly for a home run or it was going to bounce way over my head.  Unfortunately, it was the latter.

A shot of my in-game meal…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 086.jpg

…it may look like ****, but I assure you, it tasted great.
HOT DOG + CHEESE + CHILI = got extra underwear??

There was good news and bad news on this day…

THE BAD NEWS-
The Brewers lost 7-5 on a walk-off homer from Chris Iannetta in the bottom of the 9th.
I only managed to snag 3 baseballs.
None of the three were game home runs.

THE GOOD NEWS-
I didn’t shitttt my pants.

The sun finally set on my 1st day at Coors Field…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 046.jpg

…with three lonely baseballs…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field.jpg




2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 3 total balls 9/29/09


1 batted baseball

2 tossup baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  39,087

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
8/26/09 = 4   baseballs
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs *(new Milwaukee record)*
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
9/16/09 = 4   baseballs
9/18/09 = 10 baseballs
9/21/09 = 3   baseballs
9/24/09 = 4   baseballs
9/29/09 = 3   baseballs
___________________

368 baseballs (60 games)
6.13 average per game

…after the game, Kenny and I went to a local establishment right up the road from Coors Field. While there, we had the chance to hang out for a bit with Brewers relief pitcher Mark Difelice.  He even bought us a round!  Mark was one cool dude… 

9/18/09 @ Miller Park

The quest for #1000 drags on…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One more, baby. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On with the show…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…because 4 were given away.

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



2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 9/18/09


7 batted baseballs

3 device baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  39,057

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
8/26/09 = 4   baseballs
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
9/16/09 = 4   baseballs
9/18/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

358 baseballs (57 games)
6.28 average per game

6/29/09 @ Miller Park

A Mets team without the likes of these guys…
carlos beltran.jpg
carlos delgado.jpg

Thumbnail image for jose reyes.jpg
…Beltran, Delgado and Reyes.

How exciting can this blog possibly be? 
I feel cheated by the injury Gods of Major League Baseball.

All lefties-all with power.  Do I need to remind you that I sit in right field? 
A perfect spot to snag baseballs from players like these.

What did I get instead?

These sluggers…
daniel murphy.jpg
argenis reyes.jpg

alex cora.jpg
Daniel Murphy, Argenis Reyes and Alex Cora.

Wow. 
Better pay attention during Batting Practice with those future Hall of Famers at the plate.

BALL #1 came from Mets catcher OMIR SANTOS. 
He was shagging BP out in deep centerfield.  I noticed there was a commemorative ball lying on the warning track.  The logo looked too big to be a Citi Field commemorative, but it was worth a shot.  I asked Santos for the ball but he tossed it in.  After he threw it in, he looked up to me.  I told him I was looking for a commemorative ball with the logo.  He almost acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about.  ??  Just in case, I went into further detail about what I was looking for.

After our discussion, every ball that came his way was further inspected.  If there wasn’t a logo on the ball, he would toss it in. 

Finally, after about 5 minutes, he fielded one.  I could see a commemorative logo where the MLB logo was supposed to be.  He looked up to me and tossed it up.

Turns out, it was a Shea Stadium commemorative from last season.
No biggie.  The effort he displayed was appreciated. 

QUESTION:  How many big leaguers would do what Omir Santos did?
ANSWER:  Not many.

I think I have a new favorite Mets player.

BALL #2 came via tossup from BOBBY PARNELL.
bobby parnell.jpgBobby tossed it a bit short.  While it was in the air, I heard Bobby say, “you got it??!!”  As I leaned out over the fence and made the grab.

tim redding.jpg 

BALL #3 came from Mets pitcher TIM REDDING. 
I wasn’t sure if he had seen me get a ball from either Santos or Parnell.   But, I asked him for a baseball anyway.  He turned around and said, “how many do you have?” 

I answered him and he still tossed it up to me. 

That was it. 
3 baseballs.

The Mets absolutely put everyone to sleep.  It was one of the worst displays of BP power I had ever seen.  I can only imagine the possibilities if the three big guns weren’t on the disabled list. 

I pride myself on snagging batted baseballs.  It wasn’t possible on this day.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 3 total balls 6/29/09

3 toss-up baseballs


ATTENDANCE: 
39,872

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
___________________

220 baseballs (35 games)
6.29 average per game

BASEBALLS SNAGGED BY MONTH:

APRIL:  88 baseballs in 12 games (1 game home run ball)
MAY:    76 baseballs in 12 games (2 game home run balls)
  

5/08/09 @ Miller Park

The Cubs were in town to play the Brewers. 
I do not like the Cubs. 
Obnoxious yuppies everywhere.
Ron Santo is a *******.

Let the story begin…

What do you get when you mix a baseball game at Miller Park with 74 degree weather…??

5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg…tailgating AND

5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg…an open roof.

When I walked into the stadium, I was reassured of one thing…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg…Batting Practice!

A few minutes later, I had Ball #1 on the day (BASEBALL #100 on this young season).

Courtesy of a toss-up from this man…

5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg
…#56 JOE CRAWFORD.  Joe is the Brewers video coordinator and coaching assistant.

Ball #100 of 2009…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 024.jpg…and 1st of the day.

Brewers pitcher BRADEN LOOPER was in the cage hitting. 
He hit a long drive into the Friday’s Restaurant patio.  It passed directly through one of the openings between the bars on the railing and hit the lady pictured below, right in “the’***”…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg…then bounced to the ground right to me for Ball #2.
X marks the spot where the ball passed through the railing.  She was sitting in the 1st seat on the railing when she was hit, then moved one seat over to the right.  I didn’t feel too bad for the lady…she wasn’t paying attention!!  I did feel bad enough, though, to give her the ball.

ATTN:  All clueless fans

If you enter any major league stadium while Batting Practice is in session-pay attention to the damn ball!  Unless you want to spend the night in a hospital or an afternoon in a dentist’s chair!

BREWERS 3B/Emergency Catcher CASEY MCGEHEE tossed me Ball #3 and Brewers Stud (and my favorite player) RYAN BRAUN jacked me Ball #4 which I caught on the fly.

Ball #5 was retrived via the glove trick from the little protective net above the Brewers bullpen.
Here’s a picture of the safety net…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpgThe “X” is where the baseball was wedged.  A very tricky situation. 

First, I had to knock the ball out from its wedge between the edge of the net and the wire.  I only had one chance.  If I messed it up, it would have fallen into the bullpen.  Second, I had to glove trick it out.  No problems for this ballhawk.

I ran over to right field where Brewers pitcher BRADEN LOOPER tossed me Ball #6. 

I then took a peek into the visitor’s bullpen.  There was a glove trick opportunity.
Take a look…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg…I set it up and had Ball #7.

The Cubs took the field.

In the next 20 minutes, Ball # 8 (MILTON BRADLEY), Ball #9 (ALFONSO SORIANO) and Ball #10 (MIKE FONTENOT) were all snagged on the fly. 

BP was winding down so I took one final peek into the visitor’s bullpen.  There was another glove trick opportunity.  So, I went to work on it and had Ball # 11.

That was it for BP.

11 baseballs with the Cubs in town?  Unheard of.  I never imagined a BP with double-digits during a sold-out weekend game vs. the Cubs.

I was feeling good, so, I went over and paid a visit to a good friend…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg…that’s “Mickey the cameraman.”  Mickey used to shoot the game from my season-ticket section.  They’ve since moved him to a better spot.

Mickey’s been good to me, so, I handed him two baseballs I had snagged.

The game was drawing near.  There was much excitement in the a
ir.  Not only for the Brewers/Scrubs game to begin, but for this star’s return home…
danny gokey!.jpg

That’s American Idol star-Danny Gokey.
He’s from Milwaukee and I hear he’s on one helluva tear in the singing competition.

Good luck, Danny!  Make Milwaukee proud!

He was scheduled to throw out the 1st pitch and sing the national anthem.

I was in the box seats, ready to take a picture or two for my Mom and my Wife…both big fans of Danny.

Here’s Danny walking out to the mound to throw out the 1st pitch…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg…the pitch?  High and outside.

Check out the mob on the field…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg…all for Danny Gokey. 

The game was won by the good guys 3-2 courtesy of a Ryan Braun 2-run bomb in the bottom of the 8th inning. 

Eleven (11) balls would be the final tally…
5_8_09 Cubs vs Brewers @ Miller Park 023.jpgEight (8) are shown.  Three (3) were given away. 
That player card is of Brewers situational lefty-MITCH STETTER.  If you can get this guy to throw you a baseball, I want you to let me know.  You’d swear he gets fined for tossing baseballs to fans.  C’mon, Mitch!!  Loosen up!

And with a name like Mitch, you gotta step it up…

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 11 total balls 5/08/09

5 batted balls (4 caught on fly)

3 toss-ups

3 device

ATTENDANCE:  42,025

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
___________________

110 baseballs (15 games)
7.33 average per game

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