Results tagged ‘ Happy Youngster ’

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… 

9/21/09 @ US Cellular Field

This was going to be my last trek to Chicago for the 2009 season.  Another Milwaukee ballhawk was accompanying me. 
Do you remember Kenny from 9/16/09 at Wrigley Field?  We decided awhile back that we would hit both Chicago stadiums before the season came to a close.

We arrived at “The Cell” around 5:00pm.  We had only 30 minutes before the gates opened, so, we jumped in line outside GATE 5.  I could tell the crowds were thinning compared to earlier in the year.  No pennant race…no passion.  Sad but true.

While we were standing in line, a guy standing at the front of the line asked me,
“are you Nick…The Happy Youngster?”

I said I was and we began to chat it up.  He told me his name is Mike and that he ballhawks from time to time in the Chicago area.  When he told me he was not particularly fond of the “northside team,” things were all good.  It’s kind of like knowing the secret handshake with me.  Ya’ know?  If you know the handshake (or in this case, you don’t like the Cubs), we have something in common. 

We exchanged a few stories, a few opinions and then we went over our game plans.  He told me he enjoys my blog and before we knew it, the gates were opening and the fun was about to begin.

As I was running in, I looked to left field.  There were people already standing out in the left field bleachers.  WTF?!  How the hell did they get in already?  Oh well…there would be no easter eggs because of this.  I also noticed that the Twins were already on the field taking BP.  Usually, I catch the last 3-4 minutes of Sox BP…not this time.

After about 10 minutes of wondering what the hell happened to all the glove-trick possibilities, Orlando Cabrera lifted one high and deep to left field.  I ran up a few rows and when the ball was just within reach, I jumped as high as I could and caught the ball on the fly.  It felt like I really got up there but I’m pretty sure it was all in my head.  (I’m convinced the catch inflated my sense of accomplishment just a tad).

After banging my knees on every bleacher/bench/railing in the place over the next 20 minutes, I began to see the writing on the wall. 
Of the few baseballs that were hit in the stands, I was not meant to snag any more of them…unless I wanted to spend my offseason rehabbing from reconstructive knee surgery.
“The Cell” is awful for running after baseballs.  The rows are long and not spacious.  Half of the bleachers are actual bleachers and the other half are actual seats. 

A total nightmare scenario.

Disgruntled, I took my Jake Taylor knees over to right field.  I took a peek into the visitor’s bullpen.  Aha!  A glove-trick possibility.  It was lying on a rolled up portion of tarp.  I could see it was a Metrodome commemorative ball, too.  After no time flat, the ball was reeled up.

Would you believe that’s all BP would provide today?  Two measly baseballs.  Wow.

Look at how thrilled I am…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 004.jpg

Kenny snagged two of his own…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 003.jpg

…and was a bit more appreciative of the fact.
A group shot taken after BP…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 001.jpg
…of me, Kenny and our new friend Mike.

Kenny showing how easy it is to reach into play…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 005.jpg

…down the right field line.

Hey!  There’s no yawning in baseball…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 006.jpg

Here’s where our seats were located…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 008.jpg

…Section 161/Row 1/Seats 7 & 8.

Irish Heritage Night at the ballpark…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 009.jpg
…do you think they paid him a bit extra to wear that?

Nice backpack…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 015.jpg9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 011.jpg

…was a bit exciting.

My view during the game…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 016.jpg

…not nearly as exciting.

A t-shirt toss casualty…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 018.jpg

…yo Zack-the glove-trick work on those?

The game?  No goddamn home runs hit.  No worries, though.  I was able to see a team (Twins) in the thick of a playoff push.  They sure played like it.  Bravo.

Twins won 7-0. 

After the game, Home Plate Umpire Jim Reynolds was kind enough to hook me up by the umpire’s exit…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 021.jpg

…with a game ball straight out of his ball pouch.  It had a neat little circular scuff on the sweetspot.

Three baseballs snagged…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 020.jpg

…yay.

Hey Nick Punto…
9_21_09 Twins vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 019.jpg
…nice pants.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • total balls 9/21/09


1 batted baseball

1 tossup baseball

1 device baseball


ATTENDANCE:  26,541

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
___________________

361 baseballs (58 games)
6.22 average per game

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

The Curse of Coghlan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…I thought I would send Chris a little gift…

Curse of Coghlan 2009 002.jpg

…whaddya think??

The note reads:

Chris-

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


“Happy”

Of course…all in good fun.

8/15/09 @ Miller Park

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

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

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

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

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

He said, “Is anyone in there?”

I responded, “Nobody.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

It did not pay off. 

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

For that, Lance gets the clown treatment.

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

bud norris.jpg

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

…BUD NORRIS.

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

I’ll be rooting for him.

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

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

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

  • 4 total balls 8/15/09

1 batted baseball

2 tossup baseballs

1 device baseball

ATTENDANCE:  42,952


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

How lame is that?






2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

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

279 baseballs (46 games)
6.07 average per game

PLEASE ALLOW ME TO RANT:

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

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


BILL HALL GAME USED HELMET:  $800

8_15_09 Astros vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg


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

Are you kidding me??

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

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

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

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

Insane…whaddya think?

7/24/09 @ Miller Park

I had two (2) objectives:

  1. Snag as many baseballs as possible (like always)
    AND
  2. Give them all away.

I’ve always given away baseballs to deserving kids, but I’ve never given a whole day’s snagging away.  It seems I’ve always returned home with one.

I wanted to mix things up a bit.
Let the snagging tales begin…

4:30 pm – Arrived at Miller Park.

4:40 pm – Grabbed a bullpen patio table at Friday’s Front Row Bar & Grill.

5:10 pm – Spotted this…

7_24_09 Braves vs Brewers @ Miller Park.jpg

…nestled tightly against the rolled-up tarp.  Hmm.

5:10-5:22 pm – Plotted how I would snag said ball.

5:25 – Relocated to barricaded area down the left field concourse.

5:30 pm – Stadium seating bowl open.

5:30 pm – Sprinted like hell to tarp.

5:31 pm – hand-picked BALL #1 off field!  Yay!

5:47 pm – glove-tricked BALL #2 out of Brewers bullpen.

5:48 pm – glove-tricked BALL #3 out of Brewers bullpen (while I had been reeling up ball #2, ball #3 bounced into the pen in nearly the same spot).

5:55 pm – Snagged a MATT DIAZ BP homer off the railing (it ricocheted off the front railing and spun straight toward me in the 3rd row at a million miles per hour…landing safely in my glove without touching the ground).

6:05 pm – Snagged GARRETT ANDERSON BP homer on fly.

6:06-6:22 pm – twiddled my thumbs while hoping for homers as BP came to a bitter end.

6:30 pm – glove-tricked BALL #6 out of visitor’s bullpen.
Immediately handed it to a nearby youngster.

6:45-7:02 pm – gave the remaining five (5) baseballs away to deserving youngsters.

7:07 pm – 1st pitch.

8:25 pm – left the stadium (missed my wife and kids…needed some family time).

 

 

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 6 total balls 7/24/09

3 batted baseballs

3 device

ATTENDANCE:  41,941

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
___________________

247 baseballs (40 games)
6.18 average per game

 

 


Meeting “American Idol” David Cook

I must admit:  I like to meet famous people.

It doesn’t matter what they’re “famous” for, I just enjoy talking with people who have carved an identity for the masses.

I don’t get awe-struck.  I don’t go ga-ga. 
(Meeting Brett Favre one-on-one August of 2005 still remains the exception)

I just enjoy the interaction.

I mentioned in my previous entry that my wife and I would have the chance to meet David and his bandmates.

Here we are…
7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 014.jpg

…out near his trailer.

From left to right:  Neal, Joey, my lovely wife-April, David, myself, Kyle and Andy.

Notice a few things:

1).  I’m wearing a KC Royals hat.
2).  Neal is holding a baseball.
3).  April is holding two (2) photos.
4).  Sunglasses are hip.
5).  I have a special pass affixed to my left thigh.
6).  David looks the part.

  • I’m wearing the Royals hat because David Cook was raised in Missouri and remains an avid KC Royals fan.
  • Neal is holding the baseball because I had everyone in the band sign it. 
  • April, the kind and generous soul that she is, picked two young girls out of the crowd who were standing behind a barricade trying to get an autograph with their Mother (made impossible by security). 
    Hence, the two signed photos in her hand.  Yay for April!!!  Boy, do I love her.
  • Sunglasses?  Everyone’s wearing ‘em.
  • The backstage pass allowed us past the big, beefy security guards. 
    Why are you covering yours up, April??
  • His look says it all.

After exchanging some baseball chatter and some handshakes, we parted ways.
(I told David if he sees the yellow shirted home run catcher snag Jose Guillen’s 200th career homer on ESPN-it’s me.

A few pics of the show…
7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 015.jpg
7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 045.jpg

7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 052.jpg
7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 053.jpg

The band put on a great show.  If you like a little new age rock, I would highly recommend seeing them perform.

The walk out during the encore…
7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 067.jpg

A random shot of pollution…
7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 010.jpg

The baseball I had signed…
7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 068.jpg

7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 069.jpg
7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 070.jpg
7_23_09 Meeting David Cook & Band 071.jpg
…ahhhh, baseballs.  What else is there to get signed??

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