May 2011

Plans for June

Here are the games I plan on attending in June. These are subject to change.

Friday June 3 vs Phillies

Saturday June 4 vs Phillies

Tuesday June 7 vs D-Backs

Wednesday June 8 vs D-Backs

Thursday June 9 vs D-Backs

Friday June 10 vs Mets

Saturday June 11 vs Mets

Monday June 13 vs Mets (work depending)

Monday June 20 vs Orioles (work depending)

Tuesday June 21 vs Orioles

Saturday June 25 vs Red Sox

A lot of games this month, but with interleague, things will get quite exciting. With my potential job, things could get quite demanding physically, but with Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute officially underway on June 3, things could get quite interesting quite fast. Also will make for a lot of interesting posts but with works and less down time, recaps could end up taking a little while longer.

Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute Update

 Some big news about my charity operation. I have been given another one time donation. This donation is the biggest amount of money that I have received to date, and is only contingent on myself snagging a baseball and getting it signed by Andrew McCutchen. This may or may not prove to be hard.

 Also, the interview I had with Matt Shetler of Sports Haze Pittsburgh on Tuesday was made into an article which came out yesterday and is entitled Pittsburgh Pirates fan going to bat for a worthy cause. What follows is an exact transcription of the article.

“In today’s age of sports, where so much attention is paid to high-priced athletes running afoul with the law, the good stories tend to go unnoticed at times. We tend to put more stock these days into professional athletes’ Twitter accounts then noticing when a truly good story comes around.

That’s not the case in Pittsburgh, where a young fan is trying to do something very special.

That fan is 19-year old Zac Weiss and his crusade is a special one.

That crusade is entitled “Ball Hawking 2011, Proudly Supporting the Children’s Institute.”

The concept sounds simple. The results though could be remarkable; especially coming from someone only 19 years of age.

“Basically, I try and get to the stadium as early as possible,” said Weiss, a die-hard Pirates fan who is in his third season as a partial season ticket holder. “Then I just try and get as many balls as possible.”

 To date, Weiss, who graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School and is currently enrolled at Point Park University, has collected over 100 baseballs using a variety of techniques. He has hung out in the outfield chasing down home run balls during batting practice. He also has worked both dugouts during warmups. You can even catch him hanging out by the bullpens trying to get players to throw him a ball.

Watching Weiss attempt to do his thing during a recent game against the Atlanta Braves, I also realized that there may be some strategy involved in what he’s attempting to do. While hanging down by the Braves dugout I noticed him donning the familiar red and blue colors of the visiting Braves.

As he made his way to the Pirates dugout, Weiss changed shirts and was now in the more familiar black and gold he would normally wear to a Pirates game.

 “I noticed that visiting players tend to pay more attention to the fans wearing their colors,” added Weiss. “I just attempt to blend in and catch their attention.”

Most of these ball hawkers get a bad rep from stadium to stadium around the major leagues. Most of us have all been in a spot to take home a souvenir, only to see some ball hawker come along and swipe it away. What separates Weiss from the rest is what he’s doing with the balls.

 Weiss doesn’t take the balls home to hang on his wall. He doesn’t sell them to put money in his pocket. Instead, what he’s doing is quite commendable.

Every ball that Weiss collects at games gets auctioned off, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to The Children’s Institute.

“I consider myself to be a good person,” said Weiss. “I looked at what I am doing and I asked myself how I could help others by doing this. A lot of people hate people like myself that go around catching baseballs, but I always make a point to give back to children.”

If you’re not familiar with The Children’s Institute, it’s a charity that helps kids that may be behind or lacking certain skills. They also reach out to help children that are in real need of help. It’s an institution that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is also firmly behind.

It wasn’t very difficult for Weiss to select The Children’s Institute as the beneficiary of his work, since Weiss himself has a close tie to the institution, having attended there as a child.

“I went to The Children’s Institute once a week when I was in Kindergarten, as I was well behind my age group in terms of motor skills,” added Weiss. “They helped me with smiles on their faces and it made me more confident then. It is a big part of the person that I have become today, and that is why I am inspired to do this.”

Weiss has had many of the balls autographed, which are also being auctioned off. To date, he has balls signed from Tim Lincecum, Adam Wainwright, Ubaldo Jimenez, Billy Wagner, Matt Garza, Ryan Braun, Colby Rasmus, Todd Helton, Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez, among others.

Not only does Weiss auction off balls, you can also find programs and equipment items, both signed and unsigned.

The Pirates have also been helpful to Weiss. He has spoken to Kiere Bulls, the team’s assistant equipment manager, who has offered to donate some equipment to the cause.

Hurdle is also involved in his “Wins for Kids” campaign, which also benefits The Children’s Institute.

“I am hoping to speak with him in an effort to communicate my cause and potentially collaborate with him,” said Weiss. “I really want to join forces with him and hopefully even help each other out. The Children’s Institute is a great non-profit that does so much for children, and I commend them for that, I just hope others realize that they cannot do it all alone, and thus will need people’s help.”

Who said one kid can’t make a difference? Weiss is sure trying to do his part.

If interested in bidding on some of his items, you can do so by email at yngzc@yahoo.com. You can also keep up to date with his progress by visiting his webpage.”

 All in all, it was a great article and being a journalist, I know how long the article took as well.

 I also have heard nothing regarding meeting with Clint Hurdle, but I know what to do to try and fix that. Please help support this initiative as it all goes to a great cause, and I cannot do this alone.

Favorite catches from the past couple home stands

 Earlier this week, I realized that after last home stand I did not post an entry with my favorite catches, so this post accounts for last two home stands. Here are my favorite catches:

1. Clayton Kershaw May 10- It was the second of a four game series against the Dodgers. Was going to try and go to dugout to get some signatures and try to get a baseball, but I found a ball on the field and it was out of reach, especially when the policeman is right around the area. When the Dodgers finished BP, Kershaw slowly rolled me the ball. It seems like an ordinary play, but I had to box out others and Kershaw is a star in the Bigs.

2. Jerry Sands May 11- Jerry Sands ignored us the entire home stand, so when he handed me the baseball for ball number 99 of my career it meant a lot. I was the only one he ever gave a ball to. Since then, he may be the hottest Dodger outside of Matt Kemp. This is living proof that when you give me a baseball, good things happen to you.

3. 100th May 11- Next ball after the Sands gift, and it was just lying there in center. Nothing much too it, but it was a year and a month of hard work, and 100 baseballs later, it is something remarkable.

4. Garrett Jones May 21- Garrett Jones threw me a toss up in the second inning. It was the first time that I had ever snagged a Jones toss up.

5. Usain Bolt May 24- I ran from the Pirates bullpen all the way past the left field foul pole to get a hit baseball. It took seconds and it was a tough sprint as the ballhawks were all after it. I was well behind all of them and I was quite pleased with the catch.

6. Commemorative time May 24-The Braves were using Angels commemoratives and I was quite pleased with this as I ended up getting one in a scrum. I got injured on it, but it was worth it. It still hurts and it likely will be a few days.

 Signatures:

Wandy Rodriguez

Matt Kemp

Clint Hurdle

Jose Veras

Lyle Overbay

Season Stats

Total Balls 43
Games Attended 13
Average Per Game 3.31

Most Balls in One Game 8
Average Competition Factor 58,485

Pirates vs Atlanta Braves 5/25 PNC Park

I ended up going to this game all by myself and I had high hopes for this game as none of the main ballhawks would be present, and Jim Saylor would show up late. I was given a heads up before I arrived, that the Pirates were taking their cuts indoors, and thus would not be hitting outside at all. This upset me a little, and it was uncertain as to whether or not the Braves would hit. I had not purchased my ticket yet, but it was a chance that I was willing to take.

            I got on the Clemente Bridge 15 minutes before the gates opened and still had not purchased a ticket. I then saw part of the cage up, and I figured that the Braves would hit but the cage was not officially put up until towards the end of the Pirates designated Pirates BP.

            After purchasing a cheap Bleacher GA ticket, I stepped into line just behind Baseball Joe. We caught for a few minutes and then entered the park. There were no Easter Eggs and there was a decent amount of downtime as we waited for the Braves to hit.

            Just as the Braves were getting ready to hit, the Pirates relievers came out and I was conflicted as to what to do.

            As for batting practice, I got bad break after bad break. Left field yielded nothing and I was in one somewhat close play.

            In centerfield, I was two sections off with each batted ball, and the Braves were not tossing up. I was being boxed in, and thus could not scramble.

            I decided to play right field, and things were looking good for a while. Balls were being peppered into the area, however although I played the right section the balls kept coming right by the stairs and someone had the stairs played. I was not pleased.

            I ended up getting shut out through BP and with it being Education Day #2, there would be a lot of children at the ballpark, and thus it would be tough to avoid being shutout.

            I also had to make sure that I would see Kiere Bulls. I had a new strategy today, as I texted back and forth with a buddy that works for the Pirates. He was giving me names of people and locations, and just minutes before I was going to get kicked out, I saw Kiere and he asked me if a bat would be good. I told him that was more then generous, and thanked him. I then was given the bat from the bat boy I spoke to yesterday and then inspected it. It was a game used Lyle Overbay bat and Overbay personally signed it, and must have signed it right before it was given to me. It is in one piece and looked pretty cool. I am going to sell it so that 100% of the proceeds can go to The Children’s Institute. I made sure to thank everyone, and the one usher let me stay in the section both days even though people normally are kicked out 30 minutes prior to the game. It made things much easier.

            Seeing as I was going to be standing again the entire game, I decided that carrying a bat around for a couple of hours or so was not a good idea, so I dropped it off to guest relations. I then went to the bullpen where James McDonald was right in the middle of his warm ups. Euclides Rojas as always was right by the pitcher and put a baseball in the bag. After finishing his warm-ups, McDonald tried to throw the ball into the bag and missed. Without me even asking, Rojas came over to me and pointed to the lady right next to me. I understood and caught it, but she was not paying attention, so he told me to keep it. I was grateful that I avoided the shutout and got ball number 1.

            It ended up being a really hot game and I got burnt despite lathering four times, so I guess that answers the question of whether or not I burn easily.

            I left around three and made sure to take the bat with me, but if I had stayed, I would have caught that Brooks Conrad home run, no doubt about it. Still I had to watch my brother as my parents had made plans, and I told them that I would honor those plans.

            Other then getting the bat, the day was a stinker, I am still banged up from that injury to my side, and although it did not affect my movement it still stung and I still feel it just as much as I sit here typing up this entry.

            I get a little time off now, and my next scheduled game is June 3 when the Phillies come to town. I think that will be a struggle as the Phillies fans are always well represented here at PNC Park and they are not nice. There also will be sellouts to contend with and thus I will have to do my damage early. It also will mark the beginning of pledging for Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute. Each ball I catch from that game on will result in donations to The Children’s Institute. You can still donate, and if interested please contact me at yngzc@yahoo.com.

           To finish off the entry, here are some more pics:

The standings after Saurkraut Saul won the Perogie Race in a photo finish.

Chris Resop stretching. I had quite a few stretch pictures, but this one was the best. Resop looked like a gangster and this picture makes him look like he is swimming.

Daniel McCutchen and his  0.42 ERA warm up in the bullpen.

Welcome back Evan Meek. This picture taken just after he waved to me.

Jose Veras warms up.

I haved tried to get this picture for the whole season now, but finally got my picture taken with Kent “Teke” Tekulve, whom I call “The Egg”.

Pirates vs Atlanta Braves May 24 PNC Park

Where to begin with this game? Well rain was all over the forecast, and I was quite pleased to find that it never rained until I got home from this game.

            I got to the game early and was behind Baseball Joe and Ian Weir. I ended up throwing with Baseball Joe and others for about an hour before we were about to be let in. Somehow Ian let Erik Jabs and Nick Pelescak in front of him, but I managed to slide past but did not come up with anything.

            Batting practice was not going well either as the Pirates still were not hitting many out. I then saw Jonny Venters with a ball in the Braves bullpen, but he gave it away. At that point, I was in left field right by the bullpen. I then heard a crack of the bat from an unknown Pirates hitter. I immediately took off from the bullpen and had to make the long sprint to the foul pole. I had no room for error, as Ian was leading the pack and Erik and Nick had a beat on the ball. I think the last thing they expected was for me to have a play. I had tons of running room and no one in my way, and without noticing passed Erik and Nick. I visualized where the ball was going to go, Ian thought it was going into the kiosk and I thought it was going to pass the kiosk. I ended up being right and I caught ball number 1. I think I surprised everyone with my range, and right after I snagged the ball, the Pirates portion of BP ended.

            I then got into my red Under Armour and proceeded to try and snag some more balls. I talked to David Ross and asked him for one and he said, “No, they will hit a lot out”. He ended up being right, but perhaps the alterior of him saying that, was that the Braves were using commemorative balls from the Angels. I never had snagged a commemorative baseball before, so I was quite excited about this possibility. A ball then came into the section right by the bullpen, and it was a scrum, and I ended up with it for ball number 2. People were trying to pry the ball from my hands and it knocked me back onto the edge of the seating area, leaving me with this.

I then curiously inspected the baseball and found this.

            I then searched centerfield and came up empty handed. All of a sudden I saw four baseballs lying right by right center field. Eric Hinske and Eric O’Flaherty were both there, and the Braves are notoriously stingy with their baseballs. I asked Hinske for a ball and he tossed me one. I was hoping for another commemorative, as they all seemed to be in great condition, but I seemed to get the only practice ball. Still a ball was a ball, and ball number 3 definitely boosted my total.

            I then tried to get some more tossups and signatures but came away unsuccessful in both.

            Colston and I then went to the dugout to try and meet Kiere Bulls, the Assistant Equipment Manager. As you may remember from my recap of Saturday’s game, that we were to meet and I was going to receive some kind of equipment from the Pirates. I got the attention of one of the bat boys, and he told me that Kiere was on his way, but I never saw him. I was disappointed, but I knew that I was going to attend the next day’s game so I knew it wasn’t the end of the world as we know it.

            I then proceeded over to section 115 to meet Matt Shetler. Matt runs the website Sports Haze Pittsburgh and was interviewing me about Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute.  I believe that the interview turned out well, and I will find out the result this weekend, when in turn I will post it onto the blog.

            After the interview was over, I met Vaughn, who patiently waited for it to end. He bought a couple of the items I was selling from that Saturday game. Him and Randy Page (‘Big Yellow’), were my first donors, and the generosity from both hopefully is a sign of things to come. It was an exciting time and the first inning was still not over yet. Kudos to Colston for being a trooper as neither of us sat down for the entire game, although I told him that he could if he wanted to.

            Another exciting moment during the game occurred when we ran into Amanda and Greg, two of my buddies from high school. We all got the chance to catch up and share some laughs and reminisce. It was great talking to both of them. Perhaps the funniest moment was when we all were talking, and the Pirate Parrot just went crazy and sprayed me with whatever it was that he had. It was quite funny and it was great to laugh at my own expense.

            There was not much that was memorable after that, and we left shortly after nine. The game went quickly and when we left it was the bottom of the eighth inning as both Jair Jurrjens and Charlie Morton were dealing. The Pirates ended up on the short end of the stick 2-0 and extended their scoreless streak to 19 innings. This was the kind of game I hoped for, not a Pirates loss, but rather a quick game because I wanted to attend the next day’s afternoon game. What would happen? Well you will have to read my next entry to find out.

Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute officially underway

 My ballhawking for charity initiative started out yesterday and it is quite exciting. I had an article recently done about my 100th catch as well as starting out for charity. The article was written by Alan Schuster and here is the article in it’s entirety:

“Pittsburgh ballhawk Zac Weiss snagged his 100th career baseball last week at PNC Park, and after reaching the first major milestone of his ballhawking life he’s ready to start giving a little something back.

“I will start snagging for charity in June,” he declared, excited about the possibility of contributing to a worthy cause. “It will be a beta test of sorts for next season, but of course all proceeds will go to charity. People also in addition to making a pledge per ball can also make one cumulative donation.”

Weiss has announced that his charity of choice will be The Children’s Institute, a non-profit group that helps children who lag behind their peers physically and/or academically. He’s hoping to quickly spread the word and gain lots of pledges, and his goal is to snag 128 balls this season. If he keeps snagging at his current pace, he could be able to present his charity with a big check at the end of the season.

As for the details of his 100th snag, it was somewhat anti-climatic, but still very gratifying. Upon seeing fellow ballhawks Erik Jabs and Nick Pelescak move towards the right field bleachers, he slipped in behind them to the center field seats. He was there all alone, sitting on 99 baseballs and hoping for an epic snag for the milestone ball. As he looked around, however, he quickly spotted what would become his 100th ball, laying unclaimed on the ground. He picked it up and immediately felt the satisfaction of reaching triple digits. “Not really a memorable catch to be honest, but a snag is a snag,” he remarked.

“It has been a fun ride chasing down 100 plus baseballs, and each baseball snagged adds to my confidence,” he said. In a submission to myGameBalls.com, Weiss wanted to publicly thank those who have helped him achieve his milestone. Here are his acknowledgements, in his own words:

  1. My parents, for putting up with this and understanding. Last year they were skeptical about ballhawking and this year they are all excited about it, always calling me to see how many I have snagged.
  2. Erik Jabs and Zack Hample for getting me into ballhawking. Zack Hample’s two snags at Old Yankee Stadium was probably what got me started in this, and then Erik’s ballhawking league was what encouraged me to start chasing down these baseballs.
  3. Pittsburgh ballhawks for making me earn every last one of my snags.
  4. Also want to thank Alan for the great website and the ballhawking community for their competiton and kind words.”

  Lastly, the charity movement I have started has made it to the mainstream press as a journalism buddy of mine John Perrotto featured me in his notebook and talked about my initiative. I talked to him on Facebook this week, and he told me that we would talk again in June about doing an article, but I guess that he had enough material to run it now. The article made it into the Beaver County Times and Uniontown Herald. Here is that article in it’s entirety.

“Though he has been in Western Pennsylvania less than a year since being hired as the Pirates’ manager, the Children’s Institute holds a special place in Clint Hurdle’s heart.

It also holds a special place in Zach Weiss’ heart. He is a Pittsburgher through and through, having grown up in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, graduated from Taylor-Allderdice High School and just finished his first year at Point Park University.

Weiss’ passions are the Pirates and “ballhawking.”

Ballhawking? It’s getting to the ballpark early, camping out in the outfield seats and trying to catch batting practice home runs. Weiss recently hawked his 100th ball, coming off the bat of Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp.

Now Weiss is going to turn his knack for catching BP homers into something that can help The Children’s Institute, a facility in Squirrel Hill for children with special needs. Project STAR, located in Monaca, is a satellite office of The Children’s Institute.

Beginning in June, Weiss is going to sell each ball he hawks. His goal is to get each ball signed by the player who hits it, which would obviously cause an increase in value. Weiss is also looking for fans to pledge a certain amount of money for each ball he hawks.

Weiss will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to The Children’s Institute, where he was treated when he was slow to develop certain motor skills. The facility is also one of the few in the country who treats children with Prader-Willi Syndrome, which Hurdle’s daughter Madison is afflicted.

More information about Weiss’ endeavor may be obtained by e-mailing him at yngzc@yahoo.com

 I have been very aggressive in my efforts, and I have at least a couple of other projects I am working on it terms of spreading the word out through the press. I will not share those now out of respect. I am excited for what the future holds for Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute. I thank both Alan and John for spreading the good word and hope that people will help me out.

Pirates vs Detroit Tigers 5/22 PNC Park

This was quite an interesting one, as today started my initiative now officially called Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute. While the pledging for baseballs will begin in June, I decided to start selling baseballs and getting signatures to sell for charity. This left me with quite a predicament as to what to do.

            Upon entering the ballpark, I was second behind Erik Jabs, and I searched where Nick Pelescak normally goes, and found squat and then found nothing on the second deck. This means that the ushers kept all of the baseballs.

            Pirates batting practice proved to once again stink, but more baseballs are going into the seats. I was unable to come up with any of these baseballs and in fact when the last group came up, I left leftfield altogether, and went to the dugout to get signatures for charity.

            While there, some more homers were being hit to left, but there were more people in left, while by the dugout there were not that many people.

            I was blessed to meet a season ticket holder at this game that knew Kiere Bulls the Assistant Equipment Manager, and got one of my new fliers for my charitable initiative. We very briefly discussed my initiative and he told me to meet him on Tuesday, when he will give me some equipment that in turn I will sell for charity. It is a great gesture and I am grateful to all parties involved.

            Earlier I got Daniel McCutchen to sign my ticket, and unfortunately I just missed getting Garrett Jones to sign one of the many programs I had. I did however get Clint Hurdle and Jose Veras to sign programs.

            I did have a chance to snag a baseball in foul territory, as Joe Beimel picked one right up by my level. I thought I would get it, but Joel Hanrahan decided to call for the baseball. Joel has been anti-ballhawking. I will have to straighten him out, and even give him one of my fliers. I will have to explain to him that I am helping out for charity and each ball will raise money for The Children’s Institute.

            With the Pirates BP being over, I decided to go over to the foul territory towards right field as some Tigers were throwing. There were no overthrows and it was 5:24 and with the gate right above me not open, and me wanting to search for potential Easter Eggs, I ran through the entire park from foul pole to foul pole and then went around the concourse to left field. I then had to sprint to the gate that opened so that I could search for Easter Eggs. I got there at 5:28 which was quite an accomplishment considering that I had a pretty strong cough.

            I then went right behind Erik and looked for Easter Eggs and came up empty. I then tried to go for foul balls and signatures after failing to get a Justin Verlander toss up and essentially was giving up on toss ups. I ended up getting shut out through all of batting practice and missed out on a Verlander signature so perhaps those people were right about it being the end of the world.

            At that point I was getting quite upset as I realized that there could be a tremendous possibility of me getting shutout because of the sellout crowd that would be in attendance. I had talked to ballhawk Ian Weir after last night’s ballgame, and he told me that he was shut out and that was with “only” 24,000 plus there. This made me worry, and I was growing quite irritable. These fans were only there because of a rectangle shaped box holding a Neil Walker bobble head, and the people were moving super slow, and it was only making me more upset.

            I then decided to talk to Randy Page, my buddy also known as “Big Yellow”. Randy is a weekend regular in section 142, which is only a section over from my 141 season ticket. We were talking about the charitable endeavors I had and I made sure to thank him, as he was the first person to officially donate to my cause. I then told him my prices for charity with the signatures I had amassed, and he approved. We then parted ways.

            I then ran into the usher from the section and told him about my charitable endeavor. He then motioned me over to the steps. I knew that some kind of presentation was likely to be made, although I had no idea what to expect. I then saw him reach into his pocket and I actually did not hope for money, I would have felt bad. Instead, he pulled out a baseball and gave it to me. It was one of the ones he must have taken upon searching the seating bowl. Since he works for the Pirates, I counted this and upon thanking him, accepted ball number 1. Now I would not have to worry about getting shutout.

            I then prepared for the game pacing around and was hoping for a toss up.

            In the first, I had a couple of ends of rows to myself and thus Andrew McCutchen threw a ball that clearly was intended for me. Unfortunately, it was a couple of rows short, and I had no chance.

            In the second inning, I met back up with Big Yellow in section 142, and had a little room in that section. After the warm up Garrett Jones threw a ball in the section and I made a leaping catch for ball number 2. The fans who usually tell people to get out of “their” section, applauded the catch and Randy told me, “one more for the good guys”, in reference to my charity. I thanked him and told him that indeed this would help out the charity, which brought a smile to the two rows right below him in the section. Thanks Garrett!

            That was really all that happened at the game, although Veras actually ended up stepping to the plate to hit and walked on four straight pitches. This was the spark that the Pirates needed, and they scored three runs in the inning, and took a 3-2 lead. This opened the floodgates, and allowed the Pirates to break it open and get the win.

            So two baseballs for the game, and I plan on being back at the ballpark Tuesday and Wednesday. I already have tickets for Tuesday, but we shall see what will happen. Rain is expected in the forecast, and I hope that it does not wash out the game and my meeting with Kiere on Tuesday.

 By the way if interested, here are the prices of the things I got, and if interested please contact me yngzc@yahoo.com:

 Signed Jose Veras program: $10

 Signed Clint Hurdle program: $10

 Two baseballs: $13 each

 Remember 100% of these proceeds go to The Children’s Institute so please help out if you can.

Ballhawking Declaration: MAJOR Announcement

I have decided to make a declaration for this season. Zack Hample’s home run catches in the latter days at Old Yankee Stadium were the single moments that got me into ballhawking. Hample has snagged for charity for a couple of seasons or so now, and having snagged 100 baseball, I feel that this is going to be me further spreading the wealth. Therefore I have made the decision to ballhawk entirely for charity starting in June.

This is a huge decision, especially for someone as young as myself but I consider myself a good person. Everything will work similar to what Zack is doing. 100% of all proceeds will go to my charity of choice, The Children’s Institute. They are a great non-profit that help children that are behind others their age. They treat others with serious illnesses and diseases, and in fact when I was young, I was behind my age group in motor skills, and they helped me a lot. This is the ultimate way of me paying it forward. 

  People have the option to pledge money for each baseball I catch, however people can also make a cumulative one time donation. At the end of the season 100% of the proceeds will go to charity of my choosing.

This season, I also have been giving a lot of my baseballs away, but come June, things would change. I will not be giving my baseballs away, but rather selling them with much of the proceeds also going to The Children’s Institute. The price would depend on the condition of the baseball, and also if I get the baseball signed, the signature on the baseball.

I am hoping that a lot of people will help me in this endeavor as was the intention of announcing this early. I made this decision earlier in the week, and made it public on Friday night to both Facebook and Twitter. I would love for as much help as possible, and although I know that times are tough,  you can pledge as little as a penny per baseball. This is for charity so I would appreciate as much of a donation as well, not for me, but to change the lives of these children at The Children’s Institute.

 I actually wrote the earlier part of this post, during the construction of this new wordpress blog, and the following serves as an update.

 I have been in touch with The Children’s Institute, and they emailed me back stating their interest and told me that they would be willing to help me in any way they can. What I did not realize was that The Children’s Institute has a new partnership with the Pirates. This can help me as the Pirates can contribute to my cause. I hope that I can get this out through as many people and if the Pirates can contribute, then that would help. Manager Clint Hurdle’s daughter is affected with Prader-Willi Syndrome and The Children’s Institute, helps people with this disorder. I am hoping that somewhere along the line, I can talk to and perhaps even partner with Manager Hurdle and get this out there. I am hopefuly that this idea of mine will help and inspire many. I have received full support from the Children’s Institute and will be receive a letter in the next couple of days or so and then can officially begin my campaign. All I would need is help, and that is where you come in.

Any help of course would be greatly appreciated and if you are interested in more information or how to pledge, then please comment on here. My email address is yngzc@yahoo.com, my Facebook page is Zac Weiss, friend me and comment that you are interested in pledging for charity. I also have a twitter where you can follow me @wewill1992. You can tweet me that you are interested in pledging. I would love to have your support in this, and also if any friends or family are interested then please get them in touch with me as well.

     June is only a short while away, and every dollar counts, and remember you will be doing it for the children. My next baseball game is Saturday, and I hope to start selling baseballs from that game and I am even more hopeful for some signatures. All I need from you is your help, and you can contact me in any of the ways in the above paragraph, again though I cannot stress enough that you can chance children’s lives.

Pirates vs Los Angeles Dodgers 5/13 PNC Park

The day got off to a very early start, as I went out to the Diamond Pizza right by the ballpark shortly after two with my friend Kate. It was great to see her, and it definitely kept my mind off of baseball, which has dominated my head all week. It allowed me to relax a little bit and enjoy myself and it was a fun hour and change. After Kate left though, it was all business and back to ballhawking.

            I was second in line behind Baseball Joe, and we threw around for half an hour and my arm still was very responsive and I still was able crouch down and handle all of throws and he actually stopped this time, and my arm was more than ready for more. I decided afterwards to take shelter as it was quite hot and I went inside and then to the Pirates Clubhouse Store. I am not telling you where I went before, as it is a secret and the one guy and I have a playful friendship. It is quite funny and it is definitely cool in there, and I definitely will be spending time in there on hot days.

            When I came out, I went into the shade, and put on sunscreen while talking to Harold and Danny both PNC Park regulars. Of course once I finished lathering, I asked Danny if he just felt a drop, and my worst fears were confirmed; it was indeed raining.

            I texted one of my contacts within the ballpark and BP was still on. Rain was not expected at all until Friday, but then it started raining harder and thunder/lightning came into play. I then got the bad news text simply saying, “Tarp is on the field. Bp cancelled.” Nick Pelescak was steaming over a play he missed on the riverwalk and just opted to leave. Erik said that he was going to leave early and I had to leave around nine.

            I was second in line ahead of Erik and rain ahead to start. The ground was slick but I was able to run through it and actually ran past two well hidden Easter Eggs and blew it and knew that I would have nothing until 5:30 when all gates were opened.

            Erik, Nick and Harold all chose right field, and although SongWhale nabbed about a dozen balls, from what I was told in center, I went there as right was well covered and center worked out so well for me the last time. Unfortunately I came away empty handed, and would have to reassess my strategy as the rain was coming down even harder. My games with at least one snag was in serious jeopardy, and Erik was already searching the lower deck for baseballs.

            A few minutes later, I opted to do the same and started to have no luck. I then went to the front of a section along the first base side, and found a dirty baseball in a puddle of rain. Excited I picked it up for ball number 1. I then decided to get my exercise in, as if I wasn’t sore and tired enough and search the entire lower end and 100 level of seats and found one other ball for ball number 2. I cannot remember where the ball was found because I was running all over the place. At this point it was poaring, and the one usher thought I was crazy. I had a rain coat on, so I was not too worried. Everyone else was ducking for cover and I was the only brave soul that was taking in the rain.

            I then went up and ran into Danny right in section 101 where Root Sports was doing their pregame show. We waited and would you believe it, the rain stopped. Some Dodgers came out to throw, and I was the first one down there, and things looked good. Then I heard a raised voice say, “let’s watch how they throw”. I immediately realized that I was not going to be getting any of the baseballs, and I was right.

            That was all before the game. The Dodgers were a bit behind as Mike McDougal and Ted Lilly were doing side sessions which because of the rain were delayed. The pitching matchup was Charlie Morton against Jon Garland. I was hoping for a toss up to at least bring me to three, and it did not look great.

            Euclides Rojas in general has not been ballhawk friendly and things did not look good as he had just thrown two balls to Ray Searage. But then he realized that there was a ball by his foot. Well actually he didn’t realize this until he stepped on it. He was going to keep it but decided to unload it. I never asked but my competition was a couple guys with beer. I had the glove. He faked like he was going to throw it to someone else before under handing it to me for ball number 3. I was happy and considering that there was no batting practice and ultimately a postponed game it was a great accomplishment. Muchas gracias Euclides!

            I had a chance to snag a toss up from Xavier Paul but he nearly threw it to the bullpen and threw it well to the left of me. I also had a chance at a Garrett Jones toss up, and I think it was meant for me, but he under threw it by three rows and I had no shot. I then won a seat upgrade to the PBC and got to talk to a couple of the ushers I met over the past couple of games and also meet someone that succeeded in the field of journalism. He gave me his card, and I was quite excited about that. Still the game as I said earlier was postponed and a makeup date has not been announced, so I will get BP next time and be able to add to my stats, not a bad deal.

Total Balls Snagged: 3

Career Total: 106

Pirates vs Los Angeles Dodgers 5/12 PNC Park

Coming into this game I was sitting at 97 career baseballs. Because I felt like I was going to die because of Tuesday’s heat, I did not wear black at all, and even came half an hour later. I also brought sunscreen, and a towel to wrap around my neck. With these adjustments, as well as having watched the movie Coach Carter before I headed out, I was motivated to eclipse the 100 career snag mark.

            Because I was late, I would be behind Nick Pelescak and Erik Jabs and being really sore from days of activity, I knew I had my work cut out for me.

            Baseball Joe and I threw around for maybe five minutes which gave my arm a little relief after amassing hours of throwing from Friday until that point.

            Then it was time to go in, and I was moving a little faster than usual. Someone at the gates was a new face and yelled at me to stop running, but I ignored him and sprinted even faster.

            Unfortunately I was unable to find any Easter Eggs and things were not looking really good.

            The Pirates as usual were not hitting much out, and then the magic began. Either Steve Pearce or Matt Diaz got a hold of one. Erik and Nick were playing for the catch and misplayed it as I ran over for the ball. I got there just in time, well actually it bounced off of my chin and it went straight into my glove for ball number 1. This was the second time I got lucky as I took one to the upper part of my right leg and it didn’t go too far. They were a couple of steps away from me when it went into my glove. Dumb luck sometimes helps, but being at the right place at the right time helps.

            That was all I got for Pirates batting practice, so I changed back into my Dodgers blue Under Armour and hoped for the best. Bobby Crosby, better known as the genius behind Dodgerfilms, gave me some strategies as to how the Dodgers would hit and who were the friendliest of the players in terms of toss ups. None of the Dodgers in left were tossing up, as the outfielders were catching fly balls. Just when I thought there was no hope, Jerry Sands, the Dodgers left fielder was coming and picking up two baseballs from the warning track. He threw the one back to the bat boy stationed close to the infield.

            “Jerry, please” I asked him. He ended up placing the baseball in my glove. I was so surprised by this, as Bobby never mentioned Jerry as a likely toss up and in fact mentioned only a couple of pitchers as friendly in regards to toss ups. I nearly dropped the exchange, out of shock as Jerry never responded to fans during the previous day’s game and for a good while during this game, but I was happy to be holding ball number 2 in my glove.

            At this point, I was at 99 baseballs and I knew the next one would put me at the century mark. I really was not worried about how I would get the ball as already my total from the previous game was matched, but rather I was worried about making sure that I did not give the baseball away like I did my 50th snag.

            I figured that there would be Easter Eggs somewhere, but I would have to survey the situation. I lined up by the gate that I knew would open up to right and center and tried to calculate my move. Nick looked as though he would be up in right first and Harold an older ballhawk who interfered with what likely was a Garrett Jones homer on Monday was right behind him. The wildcard was Erik, as where he went would impact where I would go.

            The gates opened and Erik decided to go to right field as he saw someone from Songwhale grab a good chunk of baseballs in center. I decided to go against the grain and search centerfield. I looked inside section 140, and immediately history was made. I was unsure of how to respond as I picked up ball number 3, ball number 4 which was right next to it and ball number 5, which was only a couple of rows behind. As I was patting myself on the back I heard a crack of the bat, and I saw Ted Lilly and another Dodger backpedaling, and quickly saw that a ball was coming very close to where I was standing. I was still looking for balls, so I put my glove up for protection, and nearly got beaned. I quickly retreated and picked up ball number 6 which was off the bat of Andre Ethier. With that Erik came into the section and began searching. Literally a section over back in section 140 was a ball in the front row that I had missed, but I was so excited over the 100th snag, that my vision just got all blurry.

 

 
 
 

             At that point, I gave up on snagging for a short while to make sure that I would get my 100th snag signed that way I could not possibly give it away. I picked up the snag from out of my pocket and got my pen that I brought for this moment out of my other pocket. The signature I wanted was Matt Kemp. He has seemed to be friendly this series, as he signed autographs before the previous night’s game, and I always liked the way he played and from afar have been a fan. I knew that while I was picking up the Easter Eggs, that his group was hitting and I would have to hustle in order to get there. I got there just as they were about to wrap up. Other people wanted Andre Ethier’s autograph and I had to be cautious. I would only get Ethier’s autograph if Kemp did not sign, but Kemp did sign. He signed for a few others first, and I was his second to last signature and was happy to have him sign my 100th baseball. Now I knew that I would not give the baseball away, and I went back to snagging.

            I did try hard, but unfortunately did not come up with anything else during Dodgers BP.

            As for the game, my tickets were for the Bleacher General Admission area, but I was not going to sit there. Andrew McCutchen continued to play keep away with me as I was not even close to his toss ups, as despite poor attendance, the centerfield sections were among the most packed out of the entire stadium.

            I did receive a seat upgrade to the Pittsburgh Baseball Club via Songwhale, and I did talk to one of the guys over there, and he was a very cool guy. He knows the players there and got to meet a lot of the Dodgers considering he lived there and even had a nice conversation with Ethier.

            Even in the Pittsburgh Baseball Club, nothing was coming up, and I had to leave around nine. I gave three of my baseballs away before I left, and I knew that the next day would be the last baseball game of the homestand.

            It has been a great homestand, I have pushed my body really hard since Friday of last week by running all over the place, throwing constantly and much more. It has been exhausting and I was rewarded with my 100th career snag. It was a great achievement and told me that I made the right decision in going to these games.

 Baseballs snagged at this game: 6

Career: 103

Autograph: Matt Kemp

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