Pirates vs Astros 7/2 PNC Park

That Sunday Tigers game left a bad taste in my mouth and I knew I still needed four snags to achieve the most amount of baseballs snagged in my ballhawking career.

I was a little tired having covered the Constellation Senior Players Champions Tour major golf tournament in some intense heat from 6:15 AM- 8 PM both days and walking 36 holes and back and forth. Still, there was no way I was not giving this one a go.

My throwing on the bridge was not what I wanted, but my arm was mostly there.

Pirates BP started off interestingly for me. I was a few minutes late arriving to the gate and thus missed out at the chance for easter eggs.

Pirates BP was a bit more lively than it usually was and I paid the price.

I was pursuing a batted ball on a bounce and so was ballhawk Rick. We both dove for it and ended up misplaying it. Side of the leg got a little bruise but not a big deal. We apologized to each other and moved on.

Euclides Rojas saw the effort and a couple minutes later wound up and tossed a mid-range throw that was right on the money for ball #1. It has been awesome that Euclides has been helping me each day it is such a nice thing that he does for me.

Ball #2 also came during Pirates BP and was a batted ball that I beat everyone to the scrum for.

Pirates BP ended shortly after, and I knew that two was the magic number and it would have to happen during what normally is a mediocre Astros BP.

I was a bit more mobile during Astros BP trying to compensate for lack of gear and also for lack of pop. I was doing a lot of running at PNC on this day and feeling great about it.

The ballhawks spread out between various parts of the outfield come 5:30. I took advantage and stayed in left field. A batted ball by an Astros batter was hit decently. I knew it wasn’t a homer but also knew there was a good chance it would bounce. I tried to run over and in the process caught the ball off the bounce. It wasn’t a far run but a spur of the moment thing that just ended up working out. Ball #3.

I knew there was one ball left and with so many Astros players over on the right field side, I decided to head over there to try and get the new milestone and eclipse my previous single season ballhawking high.

Quickly I became bored, and decided to work on my pitching motion for a minute.

I shortly made contact with the Astros who somehow were bored enough to watch. Bullpen Catcher Javier Bracamonte looked at me and immediately made a motion for how he wanted me to throw the ball. So I tried again and got the same thing and started bettering it.

I asked him to come over by motioning with my hands, but he was adament at the spot he was at and nodding encouragement when I would look like I was doing it right.

From left: Wilton Lopez, Wandy Rodriguez and Javier Bracamonte

To make things even better, and Astros reliever I think Brandon Lyon had a ball hit to him and Bracamonte asked for the ball. He threw it to me for ball #4, the record breaker!

I wish I could say that the story was done there, but it was not.

Bracamonte had Lopez who is on the DL get in a catcher crouch. I knew what this meant, I was going to get to pitch to a Major Leaguer.

I will be honest, my first throw was a dead bouncing duck. It was terrible and I was not happy. This happened when I threw with Humberto Quintero briefly earlier this year although I had no issues with Matt Maloney last season.

I knew they would give me another shot and I flailed a throw in there with the new motion in for a strike. Once I got the monkey off my back, it was smooth sailing. I hit Lopez’s glove with some nice strikes and got some nods. I gave Lopez everything I had while keeping it in the zone.

Lopez called for the session to end after a couple minutes or so and let me keep the ball which was great. It was a great experience and I hope it happens again.

Regretfully, I do not have any video of any of this but I do have this photo I took after BP with myself and Wilton.

Thanks Wilton for making my day.

I then headed up to the concourse and finally got to look at the baseball. Well it looks like I was throwing around with this.

With all this excitement, I went over to the Budweiser Bowtie Bar and just started clicking the camera.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane. Looks like I found legendary PNC ballhawk Jim.

Then saw that the Andrew McCutchen t-shirts for the All-Star game were up.

After that and some great conversations, I had to leave PNC as I was covering summer league basketball in Greentree.

I went and got to see Steve Adams from Pitt.

Now to thing #4 that disgusts me about PNC Park. This one will not be popular.

It is the perogie race at PNC Park. First off, this has been at PNC Park for years and it is so boring. It was either watch a video and have them run or just running around the warning track to the most annoying hillbilly song ever.

Fans seem to care more about the race than the actual game itself and that makes it impossible. On top of that, many fans gamble on who will win the race. I can only imagine what Mrs. T’s pay a year for the Pirates to do this, but enough is enough, it is just so annoying.

Speaking of annoying, the game the next day would be one of those days as Clint Hurdle had the players come in when season ticket holders were to enter at 4:30 leading to a lot of not so pleased ballhawks. How would I do on that game as well as Thursday, well read the next entry to find out.

4 Comments

The Pierogi Race is on offshoot of the Sausages Race in Milwaukee as I’m sure you know. I don’t mind it, but I think if teams are going to have a mascot race they should add an original element to it, like the President’s Race in Washington. That’s always exciting, because you want to see how Teddy blows it.

Kurt,

Thanks for the read and input. Pirates are in a fine line. They have to keep doing it because the fans like it but it mimics the sausage race but if they mimic Washington then that might look bad. I just hope they scrap it but I know Mrs. T’s the sponsor wouldn’t do that.

Congrats on the Astros ball! That’s pretty cool that you got to play catch with Wilton Lopez.
-Quinn

Wilton Lopez has been a cool guy. It’s a shame he’s been on the DL but that how it goes sometimes. A memorable way to get the record breaker.

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