Results tagged ‘ glove trick ’

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

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

8/17/09 @ 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

8/12/09 @ Miller Park

I was watching BP from the crammed confines of Friday’s Front Row Bullpen patio.
As time rolled on, not one-not two-but three glove-trick opportunities presented themselves over the 1st 30 minutes. 
That’s two more than usual for those that are scoring at home.
Subsequently, all three were reeled up and all three were given away to smaller Brewers fans.

NOTE:  For those out there that say ballhawks take baseballs away from other people (kids, in particular), pay attention.  Not only do most of us (ballhawks) give a good percentage of our baseballs away, but we also create opportunities that normally would not be there.  For instance, take the glove-trick as an example.  Those three baseballs would not have made it into the hands of those kids if not for the glove-trick.  Those baseballs would have been picked up and tossed back in, only to end up back in the BP bucket for more use.

The guy pictured to the right is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.
casey mcgehee.jpgHe’s still considered a rookie.
He’s taken advantage of every opportunity.
He has a great attitude.
He treats the fans well.
AND
Most importantly, he’s a great Dad (click here).
His name??

CASEY McGEHEE

Casey ripped one onto the porch that almost hit a teenage girl. 
PEOPLE!!  You must pay attention.  Unless, of course, you like huge welts, black eyes, a deformed face, a fat lip, missing teeth, dizziness, shortness of breath, recurring headaches, loss of hearing or eyesight and hospital/emergency rooms.
I know it’s cool to hang out at the ballpark and all, but, when baseballs are flying all over the place-look the **** out!!

Anyway, the ball went underneath that young girls’ seat.  I picked it up on a small bounce and gave that one away, too. 
In case you’re wondering…I didn’t give it to the clueless girl.  I gave it to a nearby kid.

4 baseballs to 4 different kids.  That took care of every kid that was seated in the patio section.

clayton richard.jpg

When the Padres came out, I managed to get these two pitchers to each toss me a baseball.

CLAYTON RICHARD

edward mujica.jpg

EDWARD MUJICA

Mujica was a tough customer.  After I cracked a few jokes, made a few hand gestures and made it clear that I wasn’t going away…he finally tossed one to me.

That was it for BP.

As far as the game is concerned…
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg
…”Big Ballhawk Mike” sat with us for the game.

I was fortunate enough to hear his Tim Naehring home run story for the 1000th time (unofficial count).  If you ever run into “Big Mike,” ask him about it.  He’d love to tell you. 
Or, maybe just ask me when you see me…I’ve heard it a million times over.  It’s almost as if I was there.  But, I wasn’t.  If I was, the Naehring homer would have been mine.
Cocky?  Nah.  Confident?  Definitely.

Check out this close-up…
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…of one sweet ketchup stain.
I warned “Big Mike” about the exploding ketchup pumps at the concession stands. 
Did he listen???  Nooooooooo.

No homers hit during the game.

Final score:
Padres 6
Happy 6
Brewers 5

Damn…still can’t outscore the Padres!

The two baseballs I took home…
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 037.jpg

…career #’s 924 & 925.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 6 total balls 8/12/09

1 batted baseball

2 tossup baseballs

3 device baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  38,753

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
___________________

275 baseballs (45 games)
6.11 average per game

CHECK THIS OUT!!
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 036.jpg

A few people told me I was in a picture that’s framed and hanging on the wall in the concourse down the right field line.

Sure enough…
8_12_09 Padres vs Brewers @ Miller Park 035.jpg
…that’s me!

The picture was taken during the celebration after the Brewers clinched the Wild Card.
Cool stuff.

8/04/09 @ US Cellular Field

Thumbnail image for bobby abreu.jpg

Bobby Abreu was sitting on 249 career taters——————————–>

I had the following reasons to go to Chicago:

  1. I could possibly snag #250
  2. I was sitting on 51 careers homers snagged (such an awfully crooked #).
  3. I didn’t have to work the next day.
  4. I had my wife’s blessing.

What other reasons did I need??  So, off to Chicago I went.

I had missed my train from the Waukegan station and time was running out.  I was about to hit Chicago rush hour (******) when a brilliant idea came over me.

Check out where I ended up parking…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 003.jpg
…on a street called Waveland Ave. next to some old abandoned warehouse looking building on the North side of Chicago.

It really looked old and dumpy but I thought, what the hell, right?  What are the odds of it collapsing on my truck on that given day?

I walked two blocks to the Red Line train and before I knew it, I was at beautiful US Cellular Field.

The last time I made it to “The Cell,” (7/20/09) I ended up glove-tricking 7 baseballs! 
Would I have similar luck?

When the gates to the stadium opened, I did what I always do at this place.  I did a quick pass behind the right field bleachers to scope out any potential easter egg finds.
There were none.
I continued running behind the batter’s eye and into the left field seats.  I jogged down the 1st staircase in deep left-center field all the way down to the front row.  I checked the “moat” all the way down to the Sox bullpen.  No balls in the “moat.”  I then checked the Sox pen.  There was one sitting near the back wall of the bullpen.  I quickly pulled out the glove-trick and reeled up ball #1.

Thumbnail image for 8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 038.jpg

It was a WBC ball…

8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 039.jpg

…with a little scuff to the left of the logo…

8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 040.jpg

…and, of course, it had the ridiculous “PRACTICE” stamp on the sweetspot to let everyone know that the ball was only meant for practice.

Really???

I caught Ball #2 on the fly about 10 minutes later.  If I could have seen anything, I might be able to tell you who hit it.  The sun is so brutal at “The Cell.”  If I had to guess, I think it may have been Mike Napoli.

BP dragged on for awhile.  The stands were crowded and there wasn’t much room to roam.  Eventually, I moved over to right field.

I was not wearing an Angels shirt, but, I was wearing an old Angels hat.  A few Angels pitchers were shagging BP out in right-center field.

Angels pitcher Shane Loux fielded one and turned to the crowd.  I could see he was scanning the crowd for one of four things (in order):  an Angels fan (kid), any kid, a woman with D’s or any Angels fan.  He wanted to toss that baseball up.  So, I waved my right arm in a relaxed and non-frantic motion.  It was not working.  So, I took off the Angels cap and held it high in the air.  It was not working.  So, I pointed to the Angels cap that was high in the air.  Still no beans.  So, I started to do jumping jacks…just kidding.  I didn’t do jumping jacks, but, eventually Mr. Loux spotted me (either that or he couldn’t find a better recipient) and tossed it up-Ball #3.

Eventually, I found my way back to left field.  I wanted to do one last scan of the “moat” and the Sox pen before BP was over.  I spotted another ball lying near the back wall of the Sox bullpen and quickly reeled it up for #4 on the day.

Fellow ballhawk Dave Davison of Chicago stopped by to say, “hello.”  I’ve known Dave since the late 90′s.  He’s one of the best ballhawks around.  No doubt.

That was it for BP.  Not a real good showing.

In the 2nd inning, White Sox left fielder Carlos Quentin lifted one high into the air to straightaway centerfield for a home run.

No big deal, right?  Wrong.

Check out where the Quentin home run landed…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 011.jpg
…using the red arrows.

It bounced off that metal roof.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.

Look where it came to a rest…
8_04_09 Angels vs<br />
White Sox @ US Cellular Field 027.jpg” src=”http://mlblogsthehappyyoungster.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/8_04_0920angels20vs20white20sox2020us20cellular20field20027-thumb-550×412-14255913.jpg” class=”mt-image-none” width=”550″ height=”412″ /></a></span><br />…do you see it?</p>
<p>How about now…<br /><span class=8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 032.jpg
…holy schnikies!!

That was like baiting the trap.  Believe me, I thought about it…but better judgment kicked in.
I was salivating over snagging that baseball for the rest of the game.
It became a mini-obsession.  I had to let go…sigh.

(sigh)

When Bobby Abreu was at the plate, I was in position…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 020.jpg

…but he failed to hit one out.

I tried to ease the pain that was building inside…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 023.jpg

…by buying a churro from a friendly vendor named “Jeremiah.”

If you ever go to US Cellular Field, you have to get a churro…they are delicious.

I took in many views during the game…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 006.jpg8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 004.jpg
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 018.jpg

8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 017.jpg

The White Sox ended up winning on a walk-off hit by Scotty Podsednik. 
The crowd went nuts.

After a short train-ride back North on the RedLine, I was back at my truck.

That’s when I posed with a statue of some drunk guy with a microphone…
8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 033.jpg

…take it easy, Cubs fans.  I’m only kidding…

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 4 total balls 8/04/09

1 batted baseball

1 tossup baseball

2 device baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  30,228

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
___________________

262 baseballs (43 games)
6.09 average per game

Have I lost my mojo??

5/12/09 @ Miller Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I moved back to right field.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Marlins relievers were now exiting the field. 

leo nunez.jpg

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

Ball #13!

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

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

Marlins closer MATT LINDSTROM.

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

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




2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 14 total balls 5/12/09

5 batted balls (2 caught on fly)

7 toss-up balls

2 device

ATTENDANCE:  29,331

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

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

125 baseballs (17 games)
7.35 average per game

Back with a vengeance!

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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