Results tagged ‘ Zack Hample ’

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

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

4/27/09 @ Miller Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes, you have to bend the rules.

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

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

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

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

I was rolling…and not finished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

BP ended and I was still stuck on 13 baseballs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 15 total balls 4/27/09

4 batted balls (1 caught on fly)

10 toss-ups

1 device

ATTENDANCE:  32,198

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
___________________

75 baseballs (10 games)
7.5 average per game

4/21/09 @ Wrigley Field

Since the Brewers had been on the road all week, I was
baseball-starved and in desperate need of some ballhawking action. 
After gaining the blessing of my lovely and understanding wife, I found
myself on a train to Chicago at 1pm.

After a 1 1/2 hr. train ride, I was in downtown Chicago.  I hoofed it
about 9 blocks to the RedLine subway and jumped on another train that
dropped me off at the front door step of Wrigley Field.

Here was my view as I popped out of the ADDISON ST. station…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 001.jpgThis is the southeast corner of the stadium at the intersection of SHEFFIELD AVE. and ADDISON ST.

Here’s a look down SHEFFIELD AVE…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 002.jpgThe centerfield scoreboard at Wrigley is purely nostalgic.  New stadiums are great, but Wrigley has that old-school flair.  See the flags?  The wind was blowing hard to the right field corner.   
I walked another 50 feet and peered through an open chain link fence.
Here’s what I saw…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 003.jpg            A rain soaked field with a rain jacket on.  There would be no BP on this day.

So, I wandered around the ballpark and took a few photos.

Here’s a famous intersection…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 004.jpg                                                   WAVELAND/KENMORE

Here’s a view of the left field bleachers standing underneath the above intersection sign…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 005.jpgThe guy in the blue coat is walking underneath that overhang for a reason…rain, rain go away!

My walk continued past the players parking lot (3B side) and back behind home plate where I purchased my ticket.  I went up to the window and asked for the cheapest ticket available.  He told me it would be in the Terrace Reserved-Section 233/Row 16/Seat 12. 
$24, please.  Okay, whatever.  Just get me in the stadium.

The lines were starting to lengthen.  I’m thinking…wow, 30 degrees and rainy and these fans still line up to see their team.

Until I found out it was a giveaway day.  I’m certain the freebie brought many out early as the Cubs were only handing out one to the first 10,000 through the gates.

What were they giving away?

This worthless thing…
zambrano statue giveaway.JPG

I’m sure it has some value.  I decided to keep it because I’m a bit of a pack rat.

My walk around the ballpark came to a halt when I spotted this fella…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 006.jpg                                                      Zack Hample.

I had met Zack for the 1st time a few weeks back when we were both in Toronto.
I had read on his blog that he had planned on being in Chicago this week.
Zack’s one cool dude.

The gates to the BPless Wrigley Field opened two hours early.  I grabbed my Zambrano statue and headed into the seating area. 

Upon entering, this was the scene…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 008.jpg              I’m not a fan of rain.  Especially when it takes the place of Batting Practice.
 

After a few minutes, the Reds pitchers started coming out onto the field…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 007.jpgBASEBALL #1 came fro
m an unknown Reds pitcher.  I wanna say it was MIKE LINCOLN.  Not positive.  It was his warmup ball.

BASEBALL #2 came about 30 seconds later from EDINSON VOLQUEZ.  He was walking back toward the dugout and launched it 30 rows back right to where I was standing.  Of course, wearing all Reds gear and waving my arms like I’m trying to put out a fire didn’t hurt.

The players had all retreated to the clubhouse.  I had some time to burn, so, I wandered.

Look at that beautiful runway on the lower level to snag foul balls…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 009.jpgOld-school charm…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 010.jpgLeft field bleachers…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 012.jpgRight field bleachers…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 013.jpgPre-game view from the seat I was SUPPOSED to be sitting in (more on this later)…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 014.jpg                                          SECTION 233 ROW 16 SEAT 12

I wandered some more-ending up in the upper deck.  I had to show my ticket about 50 times to get up there!  The ushers at Wrigley are Nazis.  Just doing their jobs, I guess.

A view of centerfield from the upper deck…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 017.jpgA view to the right from the upper deck…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 018.jpgand a view to the left…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 019.jpgSee that overhang??  A ton of baseballs get fouled off and bounce onto that roof.  Their final landing spots are the surrounding streets below.  Now, that’s old-school.

A look onto Waveland Ave. from the furthest seat from home plate…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 022.jpgRooftop seats in left field…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 026.jpg
The seagulls in Chicago are on a timer.  They swoop in every day around 5-6pm.  They’re used to day game buffets.  They were a tad early on this day…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 028.jpgThe only thing more annoying than seeing seagulls everywhere is seeing Cubs fans everywhere.

Uh-oh!!  Game time!!
Get that oversized slip n’ slide off the field…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 030.jpgnicely done…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 032.jpgLet’s play ball!!

Right before the game was about to begin, I took a look where I was SUPPOSED to be sitting.  It was way up and underneath the overhang.  There was no way I was going to sit there for the game.  So, I did what any ballhawk would do.  I looked down to the dugout seats above the Reds dugout and saw a few empties.  So, when the Gestapo wasn’t looking, I snuck down and assumed an empty seat in the 2nd row directly above the Reds dugout.  Decked out in all Reds gear, I was definitely in enemy territory.  Only a few Reds fans to my left.  I struck up conversations with everyone around me and acted like I’d been there before.

Reds infielder ALEX GONZALEZ was warming up with Brandon Phillips directly in front of me.  After he was finished throwing, I asked for the baseball.  Alex looked at me and faked like he was going to throw it 90 mph at my head.  He pulled it back, smiled and then gently tossed it to me for BASEBALL #3.

Here was my view to start the game…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 037.jpgNot too shabby (I think this was the only time I blinked in 3 hours). 

More pics…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 038.jpg     Derrek Lee…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 045.jpg

1st inning…2nd inning…3rd inning…4th inning…5th inning all go by.  I’m still sitting in the 2nd row!  I think the late Harry Caray said it best, “holy cow!” 

In the bottom of the 6th inning, Cubs LF ALFONSO SORIANO was at the plate.  He hit a nubber down the 1st base line.  It rolled right up to 1st base, struck the base, then rolled into shallow right field.  Jay Bruce picked it up and fired it into second where Soriano slid safely for a double. 

The ball was thrown out of play to this man…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 051.jpgCubs 1B coach MATT SINATRO.  Mr. Sinatro looked in my direction.  I was the only fan who stood up AND had a baseball glove on.  He made eye contact with me and tossed the game ball to me for BASEBALL #4.  A toss-up for official statistics, but a gamer hit nonetheless.

Here’s the Soriano game used hit ball…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 058.jpg                                     ALFONSO SORIANO CAREER HIT #1406

After the bottom half of the seventh had ended, Reds 1B Coach BILLY HATCHER tossed BASEBALL #5 to me on top of the dugout. 

I had been trying to get a 3rd out ball all game but for whatever reason, Reds 1B Joey Votto would not look to the crowd.  He would simply jog off the field and on his way to the dugout, he would toss the 3rd out ball to Billy Hatcher.  Billy would then toss him a different one.  I’ve noticed this becoming a trend.  From what I gather, the players are using the previous innings game ball for the infield warmup ball between innings.

Upon further inspection of the Billy Hatcher toss-up, I could see it was a game ball but it had too many grass and dirt stains to be the 3rd out of that inning.  It had been the previous innings 3rd out used for infield practice.  Ahah!!

Here’s a look at the Billy Hatcher toss-up ball…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 059.jpgThe ball was certainly “rubbed” for game action.  This particular ball just saw some extra action in between innings.

After getting that 5th baseball, I reached into my backpack and dug out the Mike Lincoln toss-up and handed it to a very friendly Cubs fan who actually HAD tickets in those seats.  I felt almost obligated to do that because I had sat in those seats all game without a ticket there.  Unbeknownst to anyone around me, of course.

Here’s me in the 9th inning…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 052.jpgStill sitting in the 2nd row on the dugout with a $24 ticket.  Yeah, I beat the system.

Finals for the day…
                             5 toss-up baseballs (4 shown-1 given away)
                                                           +
                                1 Carlos Zambrano bathroom ornament

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 5 total balls 4/21/09

5 toss-ups

ATTENDANCE:  38,403

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
___________________

60 baseballs (9 games)
6.667 average per game

4/9/09 @ Rogers Centre

It was getaway day for my Dad and I.  The last day of our road trip.  Three days went quick. 
I’m having too much fun to leave now. 

The 1st game I attended on April 7th netted me a total of 5 baseballs.
The 2nd game April 8th – 10 baseballs including a game home run.

What will the 3rd day bring?

After I finished blogging the previous day’s activities, my Dad and I headed out to the stadium.  The gates were opening at 11am for the 1237pm game.

On the walk from our downtown hotel to the stadium, I gave ZACK HAMPLE a call to see if there would be Batting Practice.  Since, Zack had a sweet room in The Renaissance Hotel that overlooks the field, I would get a quick answer straight from the man.

Zack set the phone down.  I could hear him yell down to a Detroit Tigers coach below, “are you guys taking BP today?”  That followed by a, “no, okay.”  Zack picked the phone back up and informed me that it must be the Blue Jays taking Batting Practice since the cage and nets were up.

This was a good thing. 

My Dad and I were almost to the stadium when we stopped by one of those street vendors with the hot dog carts.  We ordered up a few Italian sausages and scarfed them down for a little pre-game meal.  If you’re ever in Toronto, you have to eat at least 1 street vendor sausage.  They’re delicious.

The time was now 1050am and we had our spot at the front of the line (they’re were only 10 people present for all lines).

Zack Hample joined us a few minutes later and we were ready to rock and roll.

When the gates to the stadium opened at 11am, we sprinted down into the bleachers and began our day’s work.

I spotted Blue Jays LF/DH man ADAM LIND standing in left field shagging baseballs.  After a few minutes, I had BASEBALL #1 from this hot-hitting young player.

Another baseball rolled out near the bullpen where I was standing.  Blue Jays pitcher BRANDON LEAGUE picked it up.  I politely asked him for the baseball and he underhanded it to me for BASEBALL #2.

The big boppers for the Jays were now taking their turns in the cage (Wells, Rolen and Rios).
So, I headed to the 2nd level of bleachers for some BP home runs. 
Keep in mind, the Tigers had been using those cheap plastic/synthetic International League baseballs all series.  Those just don’t carry like the official MLB balls do.  The Jays were using MLB balls, so, the 2nd level was not such a bad idea.
Up I went.

When I arrived at the 200 level in left field, there were about 5-7 fans total in the entire left field home run sections. 

I played in the middle of the bleacher-area.  Equal distance to run left and to run right for BP home run baseballs (Clears throat-ballhawks, you paying attention?).

It didn’t take long for Jays stud ALEX RIOS to jack one in my direction.  It was over a whole section away.  I took off running to my right as it hit the seats.  It took a high bounce forward and after a little hurdling, I had BASEBALL #3

A minute later, SCOTT ROLEN jerked one up to the 200 level.  This one was hit to my right and a whole section over, too.  I took off after it and claimed that one in the seats for BASEBALL #4.

Here’s a picture of how the Rolen BP homer came to a rest…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 009.jpgThe Jays bleacher seats fold up.  That little gap in the bottom is just small enough to pin a baseball in between the seat back and the actual seat.  Keep this in mind if you’re ever running after one.

Before this group of hitters were finished, Alex Rios hit one about 100 feet to my left.  After a short sprint and a high bounce back toward the field, I had it for BASEBALL #5
A man with his 16 yr old son said to me, “give it to the kid!” 

So, I asked the kid/young man/guy/lad/licensed driver, “you bring a glove?” 
Laughingly, he replied, “no.”
To which, I replied, “I won’t help you if you won’t help yourself.”

There you have it.  Case closed.

After this big-hitting group was finished, I headed back down to the 100 level of bleachers.

When I arrived, a grounds crew member was picking up a baseball off the warning track. 
I yelled out to him, “baseball for a Blue Jays fan, please?”  He looked up at me and laughed.  So, I said, “come on, I even cracked out the old-school Jays jersey just for you!”  Obviously gaining his approval, he looked back up at me, smiled and tossed me BASEBALL #6.

A few of the Jays lefties were now hitting.  So, I headed over to right field for a better chance.
Blue Jays pitcher SCOTT RICHMOND was shagging BP in right field.  Every time a baseball would come his way, people would scream things like,

  1. Give me a ball.
  2. Hey you, toss up a ball.
  3. Gimme a ball.
  4. Hey, how about a ball.

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.  Try calling him the name his mother and father gave him.

So, I poked my head over by him the next time a baseball came his way. 
I said, “Scott.  Scott Richmond.  Can I have a baseball please, sir?”  He looked up at me and without hesitation, tossed one to me for BASEBALL #7.
The guys next to me said that I only got it because I knew his name. 
No kidding, really?

Back to left field where Jays pitcher SHAWN CAMP tossed me BASEBALL #8 after a polite request.

Seated directly behind me while I snagged the CAMP toss-up was a nice young man named Alex, attending the ballgame with his grandmother.  These are the things I really love to see.  Family spending valuable time together at a baseball game.  They call it “our great game” for a reason.  So, I turned to him and asked him if he had brought his baseball mitt to the game.  He held up a gently used baseball mitt on his left hand.  Very good. 
I then asked him if he had gotten a baseball yet.  He said he had not.  The SHAWN CAMP toss-up would become his own.   

Here’s a picture of that nice young man holding up his new souvenir…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 001.jpg                                                       Way to go Alex!

Battin
g Practice ended, so, I headed over to the Tigers side of the diamond for a warm-up baseball.

I was in about the 5th row at the conclusion of pre-game warm-ups.  Most of the Detroit Tigers had retreated to the dugout.  Tigers SS ADAM EVERETT remained.  As Adam walked off the field and toward the visitor’s dugout, I stood up and yelled, “Adam Everett, baseball please!”  He smiled and threw me BASEBALL #9.

The game was about to begin.  I headed to meet back up with my Dad where we would view the game. 
Here’s what the walk to my seats looked like…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 005.jpg                Come on people.  15,297 in attendance during an opening week game? 
A bit of advice:  Never take for granted the fact that you have a professional baseball team.

Here was my view of the game from SECTION 141/142…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 002.jpgHere was my view to the left…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 004.jpgHere was my view to the right…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 003.jpg                            That’s my Pops in the orange hat and black sweatshirt.

Here’s a view of the game from behind our seats standing on the concourse…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 006.jpgHere’s a picture of me with my ballhawking game face on…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 007.jpg

At one point in the game, I headed to the right field side of the hitter’s eye because Jays LF/DH Adam Lind was at the plate.
What happened?  Lind hit a home run to my section on the left field side of the hitter’s eye.

It was easier to digest when I found out it would have been pretty hard to put a play on it.  It was hit to the front middle of a crowded row.  The Jays fan who caught it on the fly had a glove on and reached up and toward the field standing in the front row.  I could have gotten close to it probably, but still would have had to run a 1/2 section over and 3 rows down over a few people.  Sometimes, that’s just how ballhawking goes.  You just have to play the odds.  It bites you in the rear once in awhile.

In the 9th inning, I headed down to the Tigers dugout.  After the game ended, I ran down to the front row and asked home plate umpire Chris Guccione for a game ball.  I got his attention but he just shrugged his shoulders and put his hands up.  I’m not sure what had happened.  Either he didn’t want to give me a baseball OR he didn’t have any left in his pouch.  I believe the first to be true.  Usually, a fan that knows the umpires names gets rewarded. 
It wasn’t meant to be this time around.  I’ll try again next time.

Now, the team was leaving the field.  I scanned everyone’s hands and mitts for a ball.  Finally, one of the Tigers bullpen arms (not sure exactly who it was-I think it was ZACK MINER) came walking toward me.  He held up the baseball, I held up my glove and he fired it in my direction.  I caught it for BASEBALL #10.  Right after I gloved it, the unknown Tigers player pointed to my left.  I looked over to my left and an 11-12 yr. old kid was standing next to me.  The player motioned that the baseball was meant for the kid.  I looked down at the ball, it was a game ball.  I looked over at the kid and then back at the unknown Tigers player.  He was still standing there waiting for me to give it to the kid.  I looked over at the kid and gave it to him.  Call it peer pressure.  Whatever, it counts for my stats.

I met back up with Zack Hample.  I told him it was nice to finally meet him.  I told him to have a safe trip back to New York City.  I congratulated him on a fine week of ballhawking and wished him luck. 
We parted ways and my Dad and I headed out of the stadium.

4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 010.jpg                                     Can hardly tell there’s a stadium there.                                       
                                    So long, Toronto.  You were good to me.

Final haul for the day…
                                          10 baseballs (all MLB, I might add) 
                                            8 are shown-2 were given away.

Final baseballs for the series…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 012.jpg                                   25 balls (23 are shown/2 were given away)

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 4/9/09

3 balls hit

7 balls thrown

ATTENDANCE:  15,297

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09 = 5   baseballs
4/8/09 = 10 baseballs
4/9/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

25 baseballs (3 games)
8.333 average per game


4/8/09 @ Rogers Centre

My Dad and I arrived at Rogers Centre at 430pm.  The gates to the stadium wouldn’t open for another hour, so, we decided to go grab a Coke up in the Bar overlooking the field.  The bar is called “Arriba.”  It’s a really cool place to hang out before and after Jays games (I can’t say it’s cool during games because there’s no ballhawking potential).  It really does offer some breath-taking views of the field.

See for yourself…
Toronto 4_8_09 002.jpg                 Looking down on left field as the Blue Jays take Batting Practice.

Toronto 4_8_09 003.jpgHere’s a look down at the black hole they call a bullpen.  As I said in my previous post, there’s nothing I hate more than big bullpens that swallow up game home runs.  Come on!!

Toronto 4_8_09 004.jpg

Here’s a look straight down into the 200 level left field bleacher seats.  From what I’ve seen so far, it takes about a 400+ foot shot to reach this level.

Toronto 4_8_09 005.jpg An eagle-eye view looking down into center field.  You can see the first two rows of the lower (100 level) deck bleacher seats.  Be advised, if you’re not in the first 4 or 5 rows of the lower level, you will be under the overhang and not able to glove anything on the fly.

It was now about 515 pm, so, my Dad and I headed out toward GATE 11 which would send me right to the left field foul pole/left field bleacher area.

We grabbed a spot at the front of the line outside GATE 11 and saved one for Zack Hample.

When I was watching BP through the bar windows, I saw a baseball go into the lower grandstand seats down the left field line.  In about the 5th row, I had reason to believe the baseball was still in the seats.  Would it still be there by the time I get in??

Here’s a picture of where I believed the baseball was still lying…

Toronto 4_8_09 003mod.jpg

                                              I had my fingers crossed.

It was now 530 and the gates were about to open to the stadium.
Toronto 4_8_09 001.jpg                       I retrieved my ticket from my not-so-secret spot anymore. 

I sprinted down to the area to which I had hoped the baseball was still lying.  I ran down the stairs and saw an usher in a bright green coat standing in the area I had hoped the baseball would be.  I was about 20 feet away from him when I saw him bend down and pick a baseball out from under the seats.  NO!!!  I walked up to the young man and asked him if he was going to keep that baseball or give it me.  I told him I was some kind of superfan freak and he reluctantly handed it over to me.  Since a Jays player had hit it, it was an MLB ball and not one of the infamous Detroit Tiger International League baseballs. 
BASEBALL #1

As I’m shaking the young man’s hand for his generosity, I hear someone yell, “heads up!”  I look up and BANG!  A baseball hit the seats about 20 feet from me.  I scramble over to that ball ahead of 2 other guys and claim it for number 2.  Another official MLB ball.
BASEBALL #2

I then headed over to the lower level (100 level) of left field bleacher seats to get a spot above the bullpen.  

A few members of the Blue Jays grounds crew were shagging baseballs in the outfield.  That seriously is my dream/fantasy/whatever the heck you want to call it…to actually shag baseballs on the field.  I would do just about anything for that opportunity-just once.

Here’s the Jays grounds crew member in action…
Toronto 4_8_09 006.jpg                                                     Lucky sonofagun.

The Jays wrapped up their portion of BP.  One of the aforementioned grounds crew members entered the Jays bullpen to do some work on the mound.  I looked down at him and noticed he had a baseball in his hands.  Keep in mind, I’ve asked employees for baseballs in the past with little luck.  Would this time be any different?  Yes.  I didn’t even get the chance to ask before he looked up at me and tossed it up.
BASEBALL #3

Here is that gentleman pictured after his act of kindness…


Toronto 4_8_09 012.jpg

Here’s a picture of baseball #3…

Toronto 4_8_09 028.jpg

As you can see, the baseball has been so abused, you can barely read the writing on it. 
It’s what’s left of an official MLB ball.  The surface leather has a rough feel with no real deep scuffs or scars.  It most likely was used out of a pitching machine. 

The Detroit Tigers now had taken the field for BP.

Marcus Thames and Carlos Guillen were once again taking fly balls out in left field.  After about 5 minutes, I asked Marcus Thames for a baseball.  He tossed it to a fan about 40 feet to my right.  I asked again and he looked up at me and nodded.  Okay, he would throw the next one.  Two minutes later, he did.  International League ball.
BASEBALL #4

Here’s a really bad picture of Marcus Thames taken a min. after he tossed me number 4…
Toronto 4_8_09 010.jpg

Tigers pitcher Juan Rincon was shagging BP in center field when I yelled out to him, “Juan Rincon, Tigers fan, front row.  Baseball please!!”

He fielded the next baseball and without hesitation, fired it into my waiting leather.  Another Int’l League ball.
BASEBALL #5

At this time, I moved over to right field.  I felt I had used up most of my potential for toss-ups in left field.

Tigers pitcher Fernando Rodney was doing some wind sprints along the warning track in right field when I arrived.

Not too long after I arrived in right field, a baseball rolled up to the wall where Rodney was running.  I asked for the baseball and he fired it to me.  Int’l League ball-see a pattern here?
BASEBALL #6

The same situation occurred with Tigers pitcher Bobby Seay.  Thank you very much…!  (Int’l League ball)
BASEBALL #7

Tigers pitcher Eddie Bonine was doing some wind sprints out in right field when a baseball was hit in his direction.  The ball was descending upon him when I yelled, “heads up, heads up!”  Eddie curled up to protect himself and the ball bounced dangerously close to him.  So I said, “ball for a save, Eddie?”  Without hesitation, and feeling it well worth the effort, he tossed it to me for ball number 8 on the day.  (Int’l League ball)
BASEBALL #8

To wrap up a pretty damn good BP, Justin Verlander tossed me number 9 from right center field.  I asked politely and he obliged.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was wearing his #35 jersey, either :)  And yup, you guessed it…a genuine fake leather Int’l League ball.
BASEBALL #9

3 baseballs snagged from the Blue Jays = all Major League baseballs
6 baseballs snagged from the Tigers = all Internatinal League baseballs

So, who’s going to play like a pro?  Who’s going to play like a bunch of minor leaguers?
Cheapskates.  Oh well…beggers can’t be choosers, right?

During pre-game warmups, this was my view zoomed in from a ways away…

 

Toronto 4_8_09 014.jpg

Nothing special, right?  Wrong. 
Take another look at the picture below.

Toronto 4_8_09 016.jpg

That fella standing there in the Detroit Tigers shirt is none other than Zack Hample.  Great positioning, Zack. 
Zack, you really are as advertised.

The game got off to a bang with a home run by Miguel Cabrera and we were rolling.
Here was our view for the game from our front row centerfield bleacher seats…
Toronto 4_8_09 018.jpg  Awesome view from home run territory…maybe I’ll snag a prized souvenir?

Another view…
Toronto 4_8_09 017.jpg

ahhhh!  I love bleacher seats.

The aforementioned ballhawk extraordinaire, Zack Hample, would be seated in the 200 level bleachers directly above us…

Toronto 4_8_09 019.jpgBetween the Zack-man and I, we had left field covered.  If there was a game home run to be had, the odds were pretty damn good it was going to be one of us to snag it.

Speaking of game home runs, Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate in the 5th inning.  He had already gone deep in the 1st inning. 

Crack…!

Here it comes, baby.  I shuffled through the first row to my left toward centerfield.  I was tracking it all the way.  I’m camped underneath it, glove ready.  It was a bomb. 

It ended up hitting off the concrete facade directly above me and bounced back onto the field directly to Jays centerfielder Vernon Wells. 

I yelled to Vernon Wells and held up my glove…within two seconds, the game home run baseball was in my glove.

Here’s where the game home run struck the concrete facade…
Toronto 4_8_09 020.jpg

         The red arrow above shows where the Cabrera game home run struck the facade.

The red arrow below shows a sore loser and another look at where the homer hit…

Toronto 4_8_09 023.jpg This guy went out of his way to show his displeasure.  I know the feeling, pal, just gotta suck it up. 

A face only a mother could love…
Toronto 4_8_09 024.jpg

Alright, enough of that.  Besides, yellow is my color.  That’s like marigold or something.

 

The Miguel Cabrera game home run ball…

Toronto 4_8_09 026.jpg

          THE 48TH GAME HOME RUN BASEBALL OF MY BALLHAWKING CAREER.

I didn’t snag it on the fly, but a game homer is a game homer, no matter how you stack it up.  It’s the only one in the world hit by that player for that exact career # home run.  Baseball is a game of statistics-always was always will be.

Here’s another look at the game homer…

Toronto 4_8_09 029.jpgYou can see the tiny blue mark on the sweetspot where the ball hit the blue concrete facade.

Yet another look.  I know-I’m a geek…

Toronto 4_8_09 030.jpg

     This picture shows the brown mark where the ball bounced down off the warning track.

 

Here’s a picture of my Dad and I doing a little bonding at the ballpark…
Toronto 4_8_09 022.jpg

                             I’m having a blast and I’m spending it with my Pops!

A special thanks to Usher Evan for taking this picture for us.  We talked with Evan throughout the game in Section 141.  Evan is an extremely friendly young man who’s passionate about baseball and dedicated to his position with the Toronto Blue Jays.  If everyone was as friendly as him, the world would be a better place.  Thanks Evan!

Here’s a picture of Evan proudly displaying his hometown blue…
Toronto 4_8_09 025.jpg

Evan was a world of knowledge when it comes to his Jays. 

Some tidbits I learned from this friendly young man…

  • It takes 20 minutes to open and close the roof.
  • It costs $9 in electricity to open and close the roof.
  • The field turf contains 1300 individual square/rectangular sections.

To name a few…very interesting.

 

An all around great day at the park.

Final haul…

Toronto 4_8_09 027.jpg                                10 total baseballs including the game home run.

 

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 4/8/09

2 balls hit

8 balls thrown

(1 game home run)

ATTENDANCE:  12,145

 

TOTAL BALLS = 15 (2 games)

7.5 balls per game


 

4/7/09 @ Rogers Centre

It was 7pm CT in Milwaukee, when my Dad (Jack) and I loaded up my Ford Explorer and headed out on our trek north of the border.  We traveled under the cover of darkness in true tactical-style.  By the time it was 9pm CT, we had already by-passed Chicago (home of the White Sox-Cukthefubs).  Traveling through Michigan was a breeze and we were soon about to cross the border.

A few energy drinks and conversations later with my best buddy, Dear ol’ Dad, and we were at the border.  There was only one lane open, due to the fact that it was 3am ET, so, we rolled right up.  I handed the border agent our two passports and my sheriff’s badge.

“What brings you to Canada?” the border agent inquired.  “Baseball, sir,” I responded. 

“Who’s playing?” he asked.  “Blue Jays vs. the Tigers, sir” I said. 

“Where’s your birth certificate?” he asked.  “I thought the passports would suffice, sir” I stated.

When he realized there wasn’t a third passenger, he asked me, “why did you hand me your badge?”  I responded, “professional courtesy, sir.  Another form of photo indentification.”

Okay,” he said.  “Where are your tickets?”

They are being held at will call, sir” I responded.

“No, I mean where in the stadium?” he asked.

“Oh, we will be seated in the left field bleachers, sir” I said.

He responded, “so, you brought your ball glove, then?”

To which I happily responded, “yes sir!”

“Alright, go ahead” he said, as he handed back my passports and badge.

“Thank you sir” I said, as we proceeded across the border and into Canada.

 

He asked me if I brought my glove!  I think 2009 is going to be a great season.  Funny stuff.

After breakfast at Denny’s, we arrived at our hotel in downtown Toronto around 9am ET.  We were able to check into our hotel early because they were expecting me.  No, just kidding…but we did get to check in early : )

My Dad and I took a nap until about 1 pm ET because we had driven through the night. Lord knows I can’t ballhawk on zero sleep.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

 

Around 3pm, we headed to the stadium. 

Toronto 4_7_09 007.jpg                   Here I am at the ticket window picking up our tickets for the game.

                                     SECTION 137 ROW 4 SEATS 101 & 102

 

Toronto 4_7_09 002.jpgWe had some time to goof off, so, we wandered around the park and took in some sights, including the CN Tower pictured above. 

ENERGY DRINKS-sometimes, a ballhawk’s best friend.

Here’s an interesting sign that was posted at all entrances of the stadium…

Toronto 4_7_09 005.jpg

Alcohol sales were suspended on 4/7/09 game due to a bunch of drunken idiots the night before.  Didn’t bother me a bit…I don’t drink and ballhawk.  They don’t mix.

We then headed to find the gate to which we would be entering the stadium.

Toronto 4_7_09 006.jpg

Here I am freezing my **** off outside GATE 11.  This gate would lead me directly to the left field lower section (100 level) of bleachers.

The gates to the stadium were opening at 530 pm.  It was only 4pm.  So, my Dad and I headed into the Renaissance Hotel Bar called “Arriba.”  I had a Diet Coke.  My Dad had a house beer. 

We watched the Blue Jays take BP.  I noticed that most of the baseballs hit into the stands were bouncing in either the left field bullpen or the lower section of bleachers in left field.  None too many baseballs were finding their way into the 200 level of bleachers, hmmm.

One baseball that did make it’s way into the 200 level came to a rest in the bottom of the aisle.  There was nobody around, hmmm again.  10 minutes passed…20 minutes passed…30 minutes passed…the baseball was still there.  Would it still be there when I get into the stadium??  Hmmm.  I counted the sections over where I might find that baseball upon gate opening.  Fingers-crossed.

It’s now about 430 pm.  Time to give Zack Hample a call.  If you don’t know who Zack Hample is, you might want to climb out from underneath that rock.  Zack is a great baseball fan with a great website.  Zack’s love of the game rivals my own and Zack is pretty damn good at snagging baseballs, too.

The Zack-man and I compared some notes and we agreed to meet outside GATE 14.

Toronto 4_7_09 008.jpg    Pictured:  (from left to right) The Happy Youngster, Zack Hample and Happy’s Dad-Jack.

 

Zack proved to be a stand-up guy.  Through e-mail correspondence, it felt like we were brothers.  This proved to be an accurate assessment after meeting him in person.

530 pm – gates to the stadium opened.

I was now entering the stadium through GATE 14.  I raced down the walkway to the left and into the 200 level.  I shot through the first tunnel I spotted that would lead me to my potential easter egg find.  I counted the sections over and looked to the ground.  It was not there!!  Wait a minute…ahah!  There it was.  Lying there so innocently on the bottom row-yet to be claimed-until now.
BASEBALL #1

Toronto 4_7_09 019.jpg           There she is…ball #1 of this young season.  I think I’ll call her “Lonely Betty.”     

After claiming the easter egg, I raced down another level to the 100 level bleacher seats where I would set up camp for the time being.

Tigers LF Carlos Guillen was taking warm-up fly balls directly in front of me.  I had on my #35 Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers jersey.  When a baseball came near him, I yelled out, “dame la bolla, por favor, senor Guillen!”  He turned and without looking threw a baseball to a guy standing about 20 feet to my right.  The guy muffed the toss-up and it dropped onto the bullpen net and rolled down.  When I yelled out, “that’s okay, the next one,” Guillen realized he had thrown it to the wrong guy.

About 5 minutes later, Guillen retrieved another baseball.  I yelled out once again, “por favor, senor Guillen!”  This time, he fired a perfect seed right into my waiting mitt.
BASEBALL #2

Upon further inspection of ball #2, I discovered this…

Toronto 4_7_09 018.jpgThe Detroit Tigers were using International League baseballs!!  No wonder they couldn’t hit anything out.  These baseballs have a waxy, fake leather feel to them.  If you hold an official Major League baseball in one hand and in the other hand, you hold one of these, it’s easy to feel the difference. 

Another 10 minutes passed, with very little action in the bleachers.  The Tigers appeared to have left their power strokes back in Detroit.  Then Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera had their turn to hit.  With that power coming up to hit, I headed back up to the 200 level.

The bottom level (100 level) of bleachers were definitely more crowded than the 200 level.  But, there was a better chance of a ball being hit to the bottom level than the top level.

A few minutes passed and neither of the big sluggers was hitting anything.  I was getting a bit frustrated, since my main focus of ballhawking has always been retrieving batted balls. 
Time for PLAN B…just ask for the damn ball.

Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander was shagging BP out in left field.  After about 5 minutes of yelling, my aforementioned #35 VERLANDER jersey finally paid off.  Justin turned and lofted one to me in the second level.  I had to reach way out over the railing but did manage to catch it.  “Thanks!” I yelled out to him.  Another International League ball.
BASEBALL #3

I moved out to left-center where Tigers pitcher Juan Rincon was shagging BP.  I yelled out to him in Spanish.  He didn’t respond.  A minute later, I tried it again.  No response. 
Okay, fine. Keep trying. 
Finally, a ball was hit in the gap where he had to run over in my direction.  I was standing in the front row holding up my glove.  He tossed it to a fan about 30 feet to my right. 
I wasn’t about to give up.  Another ball was hit to him.  I asked one more time in Spanish.  He turned and looked at me.  I held up my glove and he tossed it to me for #4. 
International League ball?   YUP…cheapskates.
BASEBALL #4

The Detroit Tigers portion of Batting Practice was really frustrating me.  There were maybe a handful of opportunities to snag a baseball on the fly for the whole bleacher area.  None in my vicinity.  I hadn’t seen BP this bad since the Pirates came to Milwaukee County Stadium.  eesh!!

BP ended in quiet fashion. 
Understand, I’ve made my ballhawk living snagging batted balls.  When no batted balls are hit, times are not as good.

Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson was now in the bullpen warming up for the game.  I seated myself in the front row above the Tigers pen. 

One of Jackson’s pitches got away from him and bounced off a metal structure located near the Tigers bullpen.  Tigers bullpen coach Jeff Jones retrieved it.  He looked down at the ball. 

I knew exactly what he was thinking.  He was looking to see if that baseball had a scuff on it or not.  Then he started looking up into the stands with the baseball concealed in his hand. Again, I knew exactly what he was thinking.  He was trying to find a Detroit Tigers fan. 
So, I stood up and held up my glove.  We made eye contact and he lofted it up to me.
BASEBALL #5

Toronto 4_7_09 023.jpg

As you can see in the picture above, the baseball Jeff Jones tossed up to me not only had a deep indented tear (over the “BA” in BASEBALL and directly above the SELIG portion of Bud’s signature), but it also had a rough looking black scuff on it, as well.

Right before the start of the game, my Dad and I went to the food stands for a little pre-game meal…

Toronto 4_7_09 009.jpg

                                                    Antacids, anyone?

After consuming those two gut grenades, I made a donation to a charity called JAYS CARE…

Toronto 4_7_09 010.jpg

My lovely wife and her family have taught me some valuable lessons over the past few years.  If you’re in a good situation in life, share some time, money and talents with those in need.

Around the 4th inning, another great MLBlogger and I met for the first time.
Jeremy at HomerFoodandHistory stopped by to say hello.  Jeremy’s a great guy who lives about 40 minutes from Toronto.  He told me he wore his Brewers #4 Molitor jersey just for me…thanks!!
Here’s a picture of Jeremy and I meeting for the first time…

Toronto 4_7_09 014.jpg

Jeremy and his friend Charles retreated back to their box seats (!!) and we agreed to meet up after the game.

Speaking of the game:  Here was the view of the game from our seats…

Toronto 4_7_09 013.jpg

Another view…

Toronto 4_7_09 011.jpg

That area in the bottom of the above photo is the black hole they call a bullpen.  Nothing chaps my **** more than a big fat ol’ bullpen right in home run territory.  Way to design a park where 20% of home run balls never reach the seats…stupid. 
Of course, I think this way because I’m a ballhawk.

The game was uneventful until Scott Rolen jacked one directly over our heads to the 200 level seats above us.  It was the 1st home run of the game and it was the 8th inning, I believe.

The Blue Jays ended up winning the game 5-4 on a sac fly in the bottom of the 9th by Rod Barajas.

After the game concluded, I was directly above the Tigers dugout.  I was waiting for home plate umpire Jerry Layne to exit the field.  I yelled out to him, but with the crowd going nuts, he could not hear me and disappeared into the dugout. 

After the game, we again met up with Zack Hample.  Zack offered to show us his hotel room inside the stadium that looked out over right field.  We took him up on the offer.

Thumbnail image for Toronto 4_7_09 016.jpg    The picture appears a tad blurry but that’s because Zack and I both move so fast, eh?!

Another shot…this time using the flash…

Toronto 4_7_09 015.jpg

                        Zack, I forgot to ask…what’s the story with the YSOP shirt?

For anyone interested in my totally awesome shirt…it’s now on sale for the very modest price of $13.99 ppd.  Only available at www.milwaukeeshirtguys.com
BUY IT!!

To wrap up our day, my Dad and I again met up with Jeremy and his friend Charles.  They took us to a nice little Italian-style bar where we enjoyed a few adult beverages. 
Thanks guys!

So, that concludes my 2009 regular season ballhawking debut.

Final haul for the day…

Toronto 4_7_09 020.jpg                                       5 baseballs and a few new friends.

It’s gotta be the shoes!!

Toronto 4_7_09 022.jpg

 

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 5 Total balls 4/7/09

(1 ball hit-easter egg)

(4 balls thrown)

ATTENDANCE:  16,790

 

Ballhawk League

I’m proud to say I have officially become a charter member of a new Ballhawk League.

Erik, over at COUNTING BASEBALLS blog, has come up with this great idea.
It’s a league comprised of ballhawks nationwide. 
The goal?  To collect as many baseballs as possible during the 2009 season. 
I’ve already planned on doing this, but, this makes it a bit more fun. 
Now, I can do it competitively against ballhawks around the nation.  How cool is that?

Like I needed any motivation, right? 

Here’s how I would like to see the ballhawk league structured:
(nice and simple)

Don over at THE ROCKPILE RANT, suggested a point system.  I’m down with that.

  • 10 POINTS – awarded for every game home run snagged.  It should not matter how you retrieve a game home run.  It’s the only one on earth hit by that actual player, on that particular day, for that exact career # home run.  It’s an official baseball statistic that will be recorded in every stat book until this world is destroyed by nukes.  It’s rare, people!  And it should net the lucky recipient exactly 10 points, regardless of method retrieved.  As long as that fan was the first to obtain possession of the home run ball.    (no buying game home runs)
  • 5 POINTS – awarded for every game ball snagged.  It should not matter how you retrieve a game ball.  If it was put in play, it should be recorded that way.  Whether you caught it in foul territory, had it tossed to you by a player after the 3rd out in an inning or asked an umpire at the conclusion of the game…if it’s rubbed with the mud it stands.  Again, as long as that fan was the first to obtain possession of the game ball.
  • 3 POINTS – awarded for every Batting Practice ball caught on the fly.  If you catch a BP ball on the fly, you should be rewarded with 3 points.  It takes a bit of skill to catch a BP ball, it should have a higher value than a toss-up.  As long as that ball left the bat and the next thing it met was your glove, it’s worth three. 
  • 2 POINTS – awarded for toss-up baseballs.  It’s fun yucking it up with the players.  It also takes a set of skills to get a player to toss you a baseball.  Especially when you’re too old, the wrong gender and don’t have D cups.  These count as official snagger statistics and should be credited accordingly.  Two, I say…two!!
  • 1 POINT – awarded for all other baseballs retrieved.  This would include (but not limited to) baseballs retrieved through some sort of device, trickery, scheming, luck, etc.  Ever find an easter egg just laying there in the bottom row of a bleacher?  Of course!  You were the first fan to obtain possession of it…it counts as an official ballhawk statistic…a player didn’t throw it to you…you didn’t catch it…so what?  It should count for something, right?

 
A FEW SIDE NOTES:
As much as I like getting autographs, I think it makes this a tad more complicated to grade.  I’m open to ideas, but, I think autographs need to sit this one out.

I agree with ZACK HAMPLE that there may need to be some sort of attendance factor recorded.  At the very least, it should be recorded as a side statistic.

I also believe each member of the ballhawk league must have his/her own blog to record his/her official statistics.  It’s free and easy. 
This will give each member his/her very own forum to display official statistics. 
It gives each member credibility, it helps ERIK-our founder calculate the stats and takes away any confusion in relaying information.

I also think each ballhawk league member that is a parent to small children should be rewarded because of this.  Like, 5000 one-time bonus points awarded for each kid that’s under 3 feet tall.  Also, each ballhawk league member that’s married should be awarded a one-time bonus point value of, let’s say, 500,000 points ;-0 

Okay, on a serious note…
This league is based on trust.  We’re all ballhawks.  We’re all in this thing together.  There’s no prize…just bragging rights.  Don’t be stupid and lie your way through this. 
There’s no honor in that. 

What do you think?
 

Working on getting my website up and running…

Still working on getting my website up and running.  http://www.happyyoungster.com

I’m starting it up so I can further network with other diehard Brewers fans, baseball fans and ballhawks alike. 

In the meantime, looking forward to seeing fellow ballhawk Zack Hample on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno October 8th. 

You deserve it!  Good Luck Zack!!

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