August 2010

8/25 Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals PNC Park

 I had been meaning to go to the ballpark either Monday or Tuesday but I was unable to do so and because I had tickets for today’s game I had to settle for that.

 I was at Point Park University earlier in the day for an orientation, and thus was very early in line.

 I made a cardinal sin (no pun intended) that Erik and Nick both did earlier in the season touching the baseball belonging to a person named Joe. The reason I did it was because it was still an hour and a half before the gates opened and I wanted to loosen up my arm a little. When I was informed about this I immediately shook it off and said clear cut that I would break the curse. With Nick and Erik’s per game averages higher and my average in between 1 ball and 2 balls, I did not worry too much about.

 While waiting, Erik finally showed up and I warmed up again. My arm wasn’t ready for long throws but I was warmed up. Eventually, I headed down by the river to catch a bp ball as many of the Pittsburgh ballhawks did as well. BP had started early most likely because the next day was a travel day but perhaps they are onto us.

 Before we headed up, we saw Chan Ho Park fetching a lot of the baseballs, and he asked us what we were doing. We were prepared to leave but when he left we stayed for a minute or two extra in case he decided to throw down some baseballs. When he didn’t we ran up by the gates.

 I got in and sure enough quickly ran in, but there was nothing to be found. It also hurt that just a couple minutes after getting in there, the team ended BP. At this point I was thinking that my chances of getting a baseball were slim. I proceeded to get some more water in me and take my Pirates gear on. Considering the fact that I came to the game straight from Point Park, I had no chance of bringing a change of clothes, so I just kept my white shirt on and hoping a mutual color would be okay.

 I ran into right field and there were no easter eggs for me. The Cardinals batting practice was pretty much dead and then fellow ballhawk Ian Weir got Trevor Miller’s attention and he looked up to see who had called him. We both motioned with a glove so it was going to be a close play. When he tossed it up though I knew that it was headed towards him. I played the honors system and sure enough he came up with it. Shortly after there was a home run that was easily mine if I wasn’t boxed out and this made me wonder if the curse did exist.

 I decided a trip to center field was in order to get Colby Rasmus to hit one my way and plus Trevor Miller was around there so perhaps a toss up could come my way as well.

 Unfortunately Rasmus was hitting the ball to right field and Miller never tossed one up my way. However my luck was about to change when Matt Holliday came up to the plate. He hit a home run to center field that bounced straight to me for ball number 1.

 I was glad as that nixed the potential curse that was looming over me. That was all that I was able to get during BP.

 I then had some down time and seeing that I didn’t pack dinner I spent $10 on two hot dogs and water. The prices for food at the ballpark are absolutely ridiculous.

 It was after I ate my food that I was approached to be with the camera guy and model either the scorecard, yearbook or media guide. I accepted and soon enough I modeled the media guide. Ian passed before the sequence occurred and both had a good laugh out of it. Unfortunately I have no video of it, but afterwards I got to keep the media guide and it was fun to do.

 As for the game Albert Pujols was chasing his 400th home run and I ran accordingly, but things never really worked out, and thus it was a down game. In the ninth inning, Andrew McCutchen tossed  the ball up to section 139. I lazily put my glove up and caught the ball for ball number 2. I was going to give the ball away, but a lady started complaining and said that I had no reason to be in the section, and thus I did not give the ball away. Before she could even try to get the supervisor’s attention, I was long gone.

 I snagged two balls, which was above my average and thus proved myself right about the curse. Unfortunately by being boxed in and letting Ian catch a ball earlier, Ian still leads me by two baseballs in the quest for the third best PNC Park ballhawk. I would have held a one ball lead if I had snagged both. My next game will be Friday September 3rd vs the Nationals which is the Pirates first game back from their road trip.

 

8/21 Pirates vs New York Mets PNC Park

I had a goal this week of obtaining eight snags this week to get my total to 35 total snags on the season. The snags would make me competitive in the quest to become a factor in the BHL and PNC Park ballhawk race.

            The deal was made that I would stay at this game until 8 and thus I would have to act fast. Considering the fact that I blew seven snags earlier I could have made myself the clear leader for the third best PNC Park ballhawk.

            I showed up very early as I tried to be around for all of the Pirates season ticket holder BP time. There was a scare in the area as it looked like rain would put an end to BP and my goals. The cages were close to coming down and I finally was in the front of the line.

            However the rain held off and we got in. Unfortunately, the person who scans all of the season tickets wasn’t there for a few minutes and thus all kinds of Mets fans and clear non-season ticket holders all snuck into the ballpark angering me.

            I ran in behind Erik Jabs and Nick Pelescak. They searched the bottom half of the bleachers for easter eggs. Having never found an easter egg, I figured the bottom was well taken care of and thus took the long shot route of searching the upper bleacher area and sure enough upon checking found ball number 1.

            With Erik finding the foul balls around the area I proceeded to try and block off the area to beat him for the next one, which unfortunately never came.

            By positioning myself there though I was smart, as Jose Tabata stepped up to the plate and hit a home run to the upper bleachers. I had a feeling it would bounce and Nick and a couple of others ran to the upper bleachers to get it but it bounced down and I had the bounce played perfectly. It was my first Tabata home run snag and ball number 2 on the day.

            I soon after got a signature from Chan Ho Park on my first ball and after coming up empty handed during the Pirates portion of BP changed into my Mets orange Under Armour.

            I tried to get a ball from a reliever and failed in my quest for additional easter eggs. I saw Erik and Nick check for easter eggs in right field and thus ran out to center field. I was too late to get a chance at a Beltran ball.

            This made me feel discouraged and the quest for ball number 35 and my goal would be hard. It was especially hard when a father with kids who was back from yesterday was getting all of the toss ups and bounces. He had to have snagged around 20 balls over the course of two days.

            I started to try and brainstorm how I could get to my goal and sure enough I called out to Mets reliever Bobby Parnell in a weird voice in an attempt to be heard. I think I accidentally used a bad impression of Whitney Houston calling Bobby Brown and sure enough he tossed it up my way. It was a little wayward, but I snagged ball number 3 on the day.

            I had achieved my goal and celebrated by heading under the cover of the seats as I figured it would rain. I tried to get Chris Snyder to sign my baseball as he was unable to sign last night and now today he signed my baseball quickly.

            Next week I plan on going to the Tuesday and Wednesday game against the St. Louis Cardinals. These will be hard games as the team is very stingy with toss ups.

8/20 Pirates vs New York Mets PNC Park

This was the third game of four on my busy schedule. I happened to hit traffic again and thus missed most of the Pirates portion of BP.

            I managed to catch Joel Hanrahan with a ball and he was hesitant to throw it. I ran over and we made eye contact and sure enough ball number 1 was in my glove.

            Shortly after I got Daniel McCutchen to sign my baseball.

            I then headed over to center field for the Mets portion of BP. I happened to notice Carlos Beltran taking cuts in the cage and also noticed balls leaving the seating area. I quickly ran over to the Riverwalk and sure enough a ball came my way. I had just gone over and thus the ball went off of my stomach. I ran it down and was in a footrace against someone else. I decided to dive and then flipped over. I saw ball number 2 in my glove.

            I continued to try and snag but unfortunately nothing came my way. With batting practice nearly over I made my way to foul territory and managed to get the signature of Mets closer Manny Acosta. I also managed to get the signature of Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur earlier in the day.

            I then caught up with my friend Colston and then stayed over there and got the signatures of Herbie Andrade and Ray Searage.

            I tried for the Andrew McCutchen tossups but once again luck was not on my side.

            I went into the Hall of Fame Club as I grew exhausted and I got celebrity bartender Jim Rooker’s signature. I also talked to Rocco DeMaro and made the suggestion of using the song “Down Under” by Men At Work as the Pirates clinched their 18th consecutive losing season that night.

            Overall not a bad night, but with an abbreviated night the next game, we would have to see if I could achieve my goal.

8/18 Pirates vs Florida Marlins PNC Park

Due to the nature of this game and more importantly its traffic, I was unable to catch the Pirates portion of BP. During the Marlins portion, the practice was rather dead and thus I switched my positioning. Still, I experienced trouble and thus moved over to foul territory and still was unable to acquire baseballs so I went for signatures and thus got Brett Hayes and Sean West to sign my program.

I was given the chance to job shadow Pirates PA announcer Tim DeBacco. We met in September 2009 when I sent him an email expressing my interest in journalism and told him that I would be honored to meet him. Sure enough we met and discussed meeting again next season. Two weeks ago, I lined up an opportunity to job shadow Tim for a couple of innings and see what he and those around him do. I could also ask questions to further my understanding for what he does.

The meeting occurred Wednesday August 18th during the third inning. I took an elevator to the press box and then took the short walk to the room where Tim was. I respectfully waited until the inning break to knock on the door.

I have to say that I was amazed by all that Tim does during a game. Among other things, he announces all of the hitters, plays all of the walk up music you hear the hitters step up to the plate to, he tells someone working alongside him what music to play when something happens such as when the Pirates walk or get a hit. He also keeps the time during the inning breaks to make sure that everything is running on schedule and also is active during the inning breaks.

I asked him a wide variety of questions involving the many aspects of his job and also brought a pen and paper to take notes on everything that occurred. During my two innings I spent with Tim, I got to meet the man that calls the perogie races and I asked him questions about his experiences as well. The main thing I learned from everyone I encountered in the press box was the importance of multitasking. Because of the many duties the PA announcer has, it is important to be on top of everything. I also learned that because Tim has worked for the Pirates for a while, he uses his experience, improvisation and impulse to help him achieve his many duties as PA announcer.

When I had to leave the area, I thanked Tim and everyone around me for helping learn aspects of my craft that I never truly grasped. Upon leaving, Tim had nothing but praise for both myself and my progression as a journalist. Tim’s kindness and support gives me the confidence that the career path that I have chosen is indeed the right one.

8/17 Pirates vs Florida Marlins PNC Park

           I went to this game with a family friend. Today’s game was more than just the usual BP and catch as I would be on the field for the Pirates portion of batting practice.

            We both went into the administrative offices to check in and sign a waiver which pretty much stated that if we were to die because we were hit by a ball, then the Pirates could not be sued. After a few more minutes we were whisked away to the field.

            As we stepped out of the dugout, I said hi to Jeff Karstens who returned the favor. I remember last season he seemed nervous and perhaps overwhelmed by public appearances, but this season has really showed his personality and has adapted to his surroundings. He seems like a great guy and I know he does charity work for Children’s Hospital.

            After that we went behind the plate and set up shop there. It was shortly after that that the always friendly Herbie Andrade came over and shook all of our hands. I think that he remembered me and he was very patient with me as two pictures (well three if you count my friend accidentally using my cell phone camera to take a picture of his hand). He then went over to pitch to the hitters for BP.

            Carlos Garcia was parallel to me when the throws came in and he let a couple of balls go by. I allowed one to be grabbed by someone else (I later regretted that) and a few minutes later he missed a throw from Ronny Cedeno and I grabbed it for ball number 1. 

            I soon made a bet with my friend that the guy to the left of us wasn’t Neal Huntington. I knew it clearly wasn’t Huntington so when I found out that he was in Ohio, I knew that I had won the bet.

            I didn’t have much time to relish it though as Garrett Jones threw a ball that Garcia missed. I retrieved it for ball number 2.

            I noticed a ball in the grass and dugout that I decided not to get (I later regretted those as well). At that moment if I was aggressive I would have set my record and snagged five balls. Instead I had two balls… well actually zero because ball number 1 was given to a little girl who wanted Ryan Doumit’s autograph but unfortunately didn’t get it. She was not allowed on the field because she was under 16 and thus was forced to stay in the Lexus Club. The second ball I offered to my friend and he graciously accepted it.

            Another cool moment was when a Run DMC song came on and Garrett Jones started dancing with his feet and making Neil Walker laugh.

            With that, batting practice was pretty much over and we called over Pedro Alvarez and asked him to sign, he graciously accepted and soon after James McDonald signed for us as well. I already had a free baseball I had from ***** and used that. We then left the area and went back to the entrance as we had to re-enter.

            The Marlins were nice at BP yesterday so I decided not to even camouflage myself and just stay in my Pirates gear. Unfortunately I just missed one by a couple of seconds and a lot of us ballhawks had an unlucky day.

            I decided to lay off of the snagging and go for some more autographs. I did miss out on Emilio Bonifacio but I did get two others.

            It started out with Burke Badenhop who was signing for somebody else and I aggressively put out the baseball for him next to sign. I needed to be aggressive or else I would come away empty handed. He did sign for me and so did Brian Sanches after a lengthy interview. I called out to him first and he was a great guy. He used my pen for everyone. I had to toss it to him a couple of times and he would toss it back and I would make nice barehanded catches. He thanked me for letting him use my pen. He is a great guy and I wish nothing but the best for him. The Marlins seem to be a very friendly team and I respect them so much now.

            I then prepared for the game and met back up with my friend. In the first inning I told my friend that I was moving over to section 139 for the first inning Andrew McCutchen toss up. I was surprised to see neither, Erik or Nick in the picture. Jim wasn’t going for the ball either and this looked to be a very easy snag. The snag became easier when no one else in the section had a glove, and thus McCutchen had no choice but to throw me the ball. I had to make a minor leaping catch for ball number 3. This showed me that I would have set an even bigger record. There was a foul ball later in the inning that Doumit tossed up to our section. If I was paying attention I would have stuck up my glove and make an easy catch but that didn’t happen and looking back on it, I am **********. That record would have been so attainable but I was so generous in this game.

            That pretty much ended my day and tomorrow’s game is going to be just as big of a game as todays. I did get three baseballs and four signatures but it could have been so much better. Hopefully, I will have pictures up soon for you.

8/6 Pirates vs Colorado Rockies PNC Park

I got to this game later for a variety of reasons. First of all, I got home from my job a little later than I desired. Secondly, my friend said that he would come around five so I slowed my pace a little until he decided at the last minute to come early and make me rush. This chewed precious time off of the clock.

 

            When we got to downtown I was dropped off into a place where I had to run. Because of the extended work load this week with all I had going, I was extremely sore and hell week was in full effect. As I jogged to the stadium I was stopped by a father and son from Florida who wanted to know where a good place to eat was. Out of breath and with a sore knee, I decided to answer them and we talked all the way across the Clemente Bridge. Since the game before I have felt rather charitable as I paid Reggie Howze the “sax guy” after neglecting to do it the day before and now instead of snagging decided to walk and chat a little.

 

            By the time I got to the ballpark, the Rockies were already taking their cuts and the ballpark was open to everyone. This of course meant that things would likely not bode well for me.

 

            I quickly went back to the bullpen and saw Erik on my way there. My hope was to get the grounds crew to throw me a ball but nothing was heading that way. At this point I already had my Rockies gear on and decided to head over to the Clemente Wall.

 

            I have never snagged a ball from the Clemente Wall before and thus it would be hard for me to play but from yesterday’s BP section 141 in center field and section 142 in right field were hot spots. With 141 having a decent amount of people in it the decision to go to 142 where things were more spread out was a no brainer.

 

            Immediately a ball headed over to right field and landed close to the warning track. There Rockies reliever Randy Flores was trying to throw the ball to a child who despite having a glove was having some trouble with it. I motioned for Flores to toss the ball my way and sure enough he threw the ball in my general direction between myself and the kid. I made a barehanded catch for ball number 1 on the day.

 

At this point the usher in the section had come over towards us (I did not even see him at the time) and before I even gave it thought I gave the kid the ball as it was his. The kid and his parents thanks me and the usher told me that I had done the right thing. Still the snag counts, and hopefully I will be able to snag tossups there in a future game. It was a good thing I had caught that ball because otherwise it would have gone back over the wall.

After right field saw little additional action I went to section 141 where I saw Erik, Jim, Ian and some other Pittsburgh ballhawks. Although I was vocal in asking for baseballs even in other languages I did not receive any baseballs for the rest of the night.

 

It was a tough night as it was Andrew McCutchen bobblehead night and snagging was very difficult but I spent a lot of the game talking to Ian and running back and forth from left field to center field.

 

I plan on being at the next home stand and I believe that my first game will be Tuesday the 17th against the Marlins. I don’t expect many snags in this one, as I will be on the field (behind home plate) for BP. Believe me, I will try to get as many pictures as I can. I also have another rare opportunity that I will experience in the next homestand but I’ll talk more about it when the time comes.

8/5 Pirates vs Colorado Rockies PNC Park

I had very high expectations for this game, and with the purple under armour I was prepared to strike in a big way.

 

            I arrived at the gate just when people were let in putting me a few minutes behind. However, I was prepared to score quickly as Ross Ohlendorf caught a ball. I asked him for the ball and he threw the ball.

 

            There is a courtesy that is involved in ballhawking. When there is a toss up and the throw is clearly meant for you, no one else goes for it and you catch the ball. Well, one jackass decided to try and intercept my throw. I guess he knows someone in the park that lets him get in early and he found four balls upon coming in and had six at the time. It was a ***** move and I boxed him out for ball number 1. The catch shouldn’t have been that hard and if I was smart I should have pushed the ****** onto the field.

 

            I then saw Evan Meek signing autographs I proceeded to head over to him. I had him sign my baseball which I just snagged and had him write “2010 All-Star” on it. I also told him that I was in the BHL and I believe that that will help me in the long run.

 

            That was all I managed to get my hands on during the Pirates portion of BP. The Rockies then came on to the field to hit and I saw that there jerseys only had numbers on them and there were no names.

 

            The Rockies managed to pepper a lot of balls over to the left field area but Ryan Spilborghs either ignored them because he was fielding grounders from Don Baylor or just threw them back.

 

            This allowed me to decide to move and I first decided to go to center although I reconsidered when I saw baseballs in the bullpen.

           

            In the bullpen Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca (who later signed my ticket) was talking to reliever Manny Corpas and Melvin Mora was in the area as well. None of them obliged my request of a baseball and I continued the waiting game.

 

            The Rockies hit two home runs that landed by the Pirates’ side of the bullpen. The grounds crew which “aren’t supposed to touch the balls” were more than willing to give in to my request despite for the second game in a row wearing the opposing team’s colors. The first throw fell short and hit the gate, but I caught the second throw for ball number 2 on the day.

 

            Despite my efforts everywhere including the first baseline, I came up empty handed in terms of snagging for the rest of the game.

 

            My main goal on the day though was to get an autograph from current 17 game winner and likely Cy Young Winner Ubaldo Jimenez and this would be my best chance to accomplish that as he had pitched the day before.

 

            Sure enough Jimenez, started signing along the first baseline, and I ran over in a full sprint. I made it and slipped my way through to the front row.

 

            At this point I dug in to make sure I had position and Ubaldo slowly was moving down the line. Sure enough I got him to sign the other baseball that I had snagged. Unfortunately, it was so crammed that I couldn’t get out and someone wanted to borrow my sharpie. Unfortunately for me I said yes and pretty much everybody tried to push me out of the way, but I was not going to have it and I pushed back. When I got my sharpie I got out of there the fastest I could.

 

            Other than talking to Erik for most of the night, that was my night.

           

            When we won the game I headed over to left trying to get a picture with Herbie but all I got was a high five from Daniel McCutchen who was wearing a camouflage backpack. Herbie and pitching coach Ray Searage were just waiting in the bullpen and I had no idea what they were doing (I actually thought we all were having a stare down). It ended up that I left the ballpark and missed out on a chance to snag another ball as Chan Ho Park had arrived at PNC Park and was going to throw a bullpen session. With no one else there that would have been the easiest ball of my life.

 

           Still looking back on the day I snagged two baseballs and got three signatures including two from All-Stars!

 

            Still I had one more game on Friday, one where I expected a low number of snags if any.

8/3 Pirates vs Cincinnati Reds PNC Park

It was day two of my week of hell and it started off on the wrong foot. My friend who was to pick me up arrived after 4:30 and thus we didn’t get in until well into the Reds batting practice due to traffic and such.

 

            When I finally did get there I was not pleased as the Reds were batting and I would have to change my Pirates outfit into my Reds outfit. It was then when I ran into Erik. Things were going well for him on the week. I still had yet to snag a ball this week and I jokingly told my father that I would quit snagging if I did not get a ball today. I was starting to eat my words.

 

            Soon the heavens opened and a ball went into the bullpen and I half heartedly asked a grounds crew member for the ball. The other person in the area randomly left and despite wearing my Reds gear, he slipped me a ball for my first ball of the day. With that snag out of my way I moved towards the dugout for signatures and snags.

 

            I did manage to get three signatures as Drew Stubbs, Dusty Baker and Aaron Harang all signed my baseball. I did get a little upset when I couldn’t react quickly enough to snag Joey Votto’s BP gloves.

 

            As for the game itself it started very late due to the rain. While everyone else ducked for cover, I stayed right by the bullpen the entire time unfazed by the rain.

 

            I went back to the bullpen during the game and reminded Herbie of the ball that he owed me and he tossed up ball number two on the day.

 

            I then stayed for the entire game and got nothing else and ended the day with two snags and three signatures. I was very much ready for Thursday and my main mission for once was not to snag a baseball, but to get Ubaldo Jimenez to sign something of mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7/24 Pirates vs San Diego Padres & 8/2 Pirates vs Cincinnati Reds PNC Park

           

This entry should not set any records as the last time I grouped games together it was because they were uneventful. That is the main reason why I put two games together however I also did this because I attended four Pirates games this week and I have not had much free time consequently.

 

            On July 24th against the Padres I fully expected a sellout crowd as Steve Miller Band would be playing after the game. This would attract a lot of wannabe fans who would just get in the way and I knew that the only chance for me to strike would be to go early and attend season ticket BP. I managed to achieve this and showed up early for this only to get shut out the entire time. Obviously I was infuriated as I had done everything I could in my power to get baseballs but nothing was working and it also was really really hot outside. My best chances in BP were attempts to get tossups from Herbie Andrade and Jason Jaramillo but I was ignored.

           

            Nothing was working and thus the rain delay was the best part of my day. FSN decided to broadcast the game live from the Hall of Fame Club and I had visited earlier in the game and got a tic tac out of it. When the rains came, I took the opportunity to go back and with broadcasters Bob Walk and Greg Brown just waiting it out like the rest of us I proceeded to talk to each of them and get my picture taken with them. That really was the lone highlight of my day. The game ended and I stayed for the concert but a few songs in the rain came again and I decided to leave before it started to pour.

 

            August 2nd was another bust for very different reasons. This time I went to the game with my father and this meant that I was screwed. My father likes to go to the game much later than I do and that means that I get no BP and snagging baseballs would be much harder to accomplish. We arrived after six and immediately I was internally cussing. This game was the beginning of my “week of hell” in which every bad break I could get happened.

 

            I got to my seats and noticed that Erik, Jim and Nick were not there which surprised me a bit. I did see ballhawk Ian Weir though and that at least kept me on my toes. Unfortunately I was unable to get any toss ups so in the fifth inning with a reliever warming up in the bullpen, I raced there to get a baseball from every Pittsburgh ballhawk’s best friend Herbie Andrade and sure enough he ended up with the ball and I got his attention. Unfortunately being the week from hell he said he’d hook me up later in the game.

 

            Dejected, I went back to my seat and still had no action. With a reliever warming up in the seventh, I sighed and ran back to the bullpen. I then proceeded to wait as I continued to get shutout. The ball never came to me and instead a girl managed to flirt (ANNOY) everyone while getting two baseballs in the process (fml). I also apparently missed a toss up in the eighth inning that would have been an easy snag (fml times two). I would have to recover fast as my next game was in fact the very next day.

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