Pirates vs Atlanta Braves 10/2 & 10/3 PNC Park

I apologize for taking so long in between posts. I have six classes at Point Park this semester and as a junior in college I also have five beat writing jobs in addition to other responsibilities. This gave me no chance to update the blog, but at long last here is my post on the final series of the season for the Pirates.

October 2 was a Tuesday and I knew this was going to be quite possibly my last as a ballhawk. It could be my last batting practice ever as a ballhawk and quite possibly as a full-time ballhawk. As I type this I still am not sure what I will be doing for the 2013 season, but hopefully I will have some news sooner rather than later.

Back to the BP. I did the normal routine, I believe I lifted that day and then did the stretches and throwing. We then made the run in to PNC Park.

Knowing this may be my last BP ever, I let completely loose and pretty much danced for all of BP, amusing everyone.

I went with my usual strategy of hogging the end line and once again it failed. Believe me when I say that next season I will be changing up my strategies should I ballhawk.

I was fortunate to get ball #1 of the day from Chris Leroux. Leroux was about to throw the ball to someone else but when he saw me he changed course and threw the ball to me. Thanks Chris!

Chris and I got to have a nice hour long conversation since the season has ended and just got the chance to catch up. He is a great guy and he made a picture of us his profile picture. Whether I am interviewing you or in the stands, I hope to be able to keep this going.

Pirates BP was lacking which stunk, but it is what it is. The Braves were up next and I knew they were using baseballs last series at home with a special Chipper Jones commemorative logo to honor his final season. Chipper would not play in this game but would make a cameo in the season finale. My mission was to get one of those baseballs.

I asked a player and a few coaches and they told me that they were sorry but they did not have any.

“Heck I want one too,” Bullpen Catcher Alan Butts told me.

I was glad Butts took the time to tell me. I was bummed out but I understood and it was worth a try.

Before I asked though, I got ball #2, a ball hit by Juan Francisco that I got to first.

That would be it for BP for me. Immediately after though, I texted Erik Jabs and Nick Pelescak, as I wanted a big three ballhawk pic in case this was it. These are the results:

As a warning, we goofed off on this last one:

I actually got to stay for a while with this one and I may have stayed the whole game, I don’t remember.

10/3

Not much to report here. I had a class from 1-2:30 and I did not want to miss it twice, so instead I attended the class and then sprinted down to the game.

I made it just as my buddy Chris Leroux was mowing down the Braves hitters.

I wanted to try and get one last momento and I also figured this was when my ballhawking streak would end.

Well the Pirates lost the game, I got no momentos and the streak did indeed end.

I was glad the streak was over. If this is indeed it for me as a ballhawk, it provides the conclusion to the story and would allow me to comfortably step away. If it is not, this will make me hungrier to start a new streak next season. It was a great streak and I am appreciative that it happened, but all good things must come to an end and I am pleased to have as long of a streak as I did, especially considering I relied solely on tossups.

Of course I had to take my final picture of the season following the game:

The Braves would end up losing the wildcard game in controversial fashion and thus Chipper Jones retired. Here is his final at-bat as a major leaguer.

Now let’s go over the goals I had this season:

1. Stay healthy/injury free- My health was so much better this year. Injuries happened including pulled groin due to dehydration and I was sick once or twice but not enough to hurt. I was plagued on and off with a back injury from mid-May thru the end of the season and I actually ballhawked the Braves series in pain. It still flares up now and then and hopefully I can get it fixed.

2. Attend at least 50 games- I attended 59 games including one in Cleveland and one in Baltimore.

3. Raise more money for the Children’s Institute- I raised right around $400 once again this year and am appreciative to all those who helped.

4. Snag commemorative[s] baseball[s]- This one went pretty well. I got all of the major ones except the Red Sox. I consider that a success.

5. Off-season training- I started that well last season and now this off-season, I have been working very hard in the gym. Every other day is a two hour fullbody workout and I love it. I also have been bringing back basketball. My muscles aren’t straight lines anymore and the hard work is paying off. No pills, supplements, protein shakes, etc.. I want to do this naturally and right. I never thought when I started in March that I could do one handed push-ups with a 12 pound medicine ball.

6. Advocate 4:30 gate opening- That one worked pretty well. I wonder how all of us would have done without it. I am pleased I spoke up on behalf of the season ticket holder family.

7. Control the emotions- When I started working out, I lost on this one. Lots of people just interfere when balls are meant for you and it’s frustrating. When my strategy did not pan out when I was an idiot I would kick myself, but that is how it goes. I was pretty stone faced all season.

8. Catch more baseballs on the fly- I finally figured this one out a bit. When Erik and Nick caught one and Bullpen Catcher Herbie Andrade saw, I got sarcastic and opened my arms, rolled my eyes and looked skyward. They all laughed. Herbie talked about it all night. I got really good at one hoppers down the first base line.

9. Signatures- I got a couple of good ones including Troy Tulowitzki. I kept the Jim Thome one for myself and I got Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro to sign a ball during a late night autograph run with ballhawks Rick Sporcic and Ian Weir.

10. Have fun- I mean come on, I dougied my way through the whole season with ballhawk Robbie. I should get into the music a bit more and depending on the day I will, but I had fun even if I don’t show it much.

11. Snag 206 balls this season- Well I had 228 snags on the season becoming a top 10 ballhawk. It is great to go out that way should this be it. This was the big one and I am pleased that I got this done.

Lastly as promised here is some more PNC Park BP music, perhaps the last time you see this.

The season definitely had its ups and downs. I am extremely bummed the Pirates blew it down the stretch, but happy that I finally finished a season strong physically and mentally stronger than when I started the season, the first time I can ever say that. I got fatigued before but at the end of the season, I could have gone another 60 games.

Since I don’t know if this is it for me as a ballhawk, my next post will be on some of my memories and what I will take out of the experience. I hope to have that post up soon.

2 Comments

Well, whatever does happen next year, congratulations on a great year *this* year. It really was a great one.
-Mateo
http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

Thanks Mateo. I hope to reflect more in the coming days, but we’ll see. It was a great year but could have been a better one.

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