Results tagged ‘ Herbie Andrade ’
Wow these two days were two of the most frustrating as a ballhawk. I was just downright steamed. My workouts have paid off but I keep seeing mixed results and it has been downright frustrating.
Here is how Monday started:
I had just finished my second class and after an exhausting core session earlier in the day, I was ready for the day.
Of course, my day was going to start well. Hisanori Takahashi was manning the left field corner and a ball rolled to the warning track.
I asked for the ball in perfect Japanese and he specifically made eye contact. It was going to be a great start, except it wasn’t.
Some idiot did not seem to understand that when you do what I just did that you do not interfere, you move on to the next one.
All of the ballhawks knew that I had asked in Japanese and that the ball was mine.
Takahashi either had a sloppy throw or didn’t see that I am a fellow lefty, and the newb got the ball.
He tried offering me the ball back but there’s nothing I can do about.
I was rightfully ticked off and I didn’t want to hear about it from anybody. Him putting the ball in my face numerous times was just salt in the wound. Shut up, take your ******* ball and move on before I get really pissed off. This isn’t your kingdom, so be careful because next time you do that it won’t end well.
Okay moving on.
Even an usher felt bad for me and directed me to a ball I missed or either a ball he pocketed earlier and put in an easy spot.
“That was a douche move,” the usher said. “You didn’t deserve that.”
I thanked him and was glad to be on the board, even if it wasn’t the way that it should have.
I was able to track a Michael McKenry BP homer and beat everyone to it in the scrum.
Ball #3 should have been a caught McKenry homer, but I was just still off and I just gave in on it.’
Well at that point I had to talk on a radio show I do each week, so I tried to ballhawk while talking on the phone.
The Cardinals were stingy with toss ups, but a ball came to the wall and pitcher Joe Kelly retrieved it and I held my glove up.
I was talking about David DeCastro and how his injury affects the Steelers and then the ball went into my glove for ball #3. It was my 400th career snag. That was a memorable way to get it, but I wasn’t done.
The rain started coming down but the Cardinals continued BP. Players left the field and the coaches stayed. I came up empty the rest of the way.
By the bullpen I got balls 4 and 5 from Euclides Rojas and Herbie Andrade.
Ballhawk Erik Jabs gave me a ticket for section 142 that came in handy later as I got Travis Snider’s fourth inning toss up and then pointed to a father, underhanded it to him to give to his son. Applause from the section ensued.
Before leaving I would run into Point Park Women’s Basketball Head Coach Tony Grenek and I will be going to their first day of practice Wednesday instead of the Astros game as their BP is terrible. We were talking about pre-camp and how we saw the team and were in agreement. He owes me a trip to the national tournament after what happened to me last year. Was the highlight of the game by far.
Before we parted ways and I left for the day, I gave him a baseball for his son and he lit up.
Tuesday was another tough day. I had a big full body workout and I was up against the clock.
I needed to get a baseball by 5:40 as I had a class at 6 p.m.
I had an opportunity during Pirates BP and blew it. I cursed at myself for the rest of BP.
When the Pirates left the field I slammed my glove on the ground and continued swearing. I was pissed again.
I kill myself with all of these workouts and get jackcrap to show for it. Maybe a change of strategy is in order.
The clocked ticked and I went straight over to the first base side, where I got Kyle Lohse to toss me a ball right at the deadline.
I got to class right at 6 p.m.
I would be in the press box the next day and snagged eight baseballs but none of them count. I was told I could toss two up which I did and tossed the other eight back in.
Mark Strittmatter wanted to see my fastball but my body was worn out and with full blown dress clothes, my motion was restricted.
I cannot go any further but it was a nice experience.
Now here we are in September and the Pirates are over .500. I am sure fans are not pleased with the 3-9 record since the 19 inning win, but if you told me that the Pirates would be 70-63 going into the month I wouldn’t have believed you.
Physically I am in great shape.
I expect this to be my last full month of ballhawking. I sit on 198 baseballs and as long as I don’t do anything stupid, I will easily surpass my goal.
It has been a tale of Septembers for me. In 2010, I felt fine and had my best month in my rookie year. In 2011, I was tired, ill, stressed out and after dehydration felt it was a chore to come to the ballpark. It just wasn’t fun anymore and I tapered off.
Again, I have been training and expect myself to stay in good shape and make it through the season. I want it to end the way that I know it should.
Now as I like to say in workout terms for both myself and the Pirates, it’s go hard or go home. Enough said.
I knew going into the series the Dodgers were stingy with toss ups. I knew though that I would be okay. My back was improved.
I am not going to waste time. I got my usual Euclides Rojas toss up and five minutes later got a Herbie Andrade toss up. He randomly tossed the ball up but low enough that no one could catch it. He saw me and lobbed it up for me to get. Balls 1 and 2 of the day.
I got a Shane Victorino signed baseball on this day that is up for bids for charity. All proceeds will go to The Children’s Institute.
I was at the August 14th game, but as a media member therefore the four baseballs that came my way did not count and were given to Dodgers players/coaches as there was no BP due to rain earlier in the day.
I was a fan once again the next day and it worked in a big way.
Luis Silverio was hitting balls to Starling Marte and a ball was well out of the reach and just over the left field wall for Marte and I made the catch for ball #1 on the day. Marte did not want the ball. I wish Marte well, it is a shame he is on the 15 day DL and hopefully we see him back soon, Jose Tabata is reminding me why I hate the way he has played this season.
Ball #2 came on a batted ball that I ran and got to first.
All of a sudden, I heard a pounding and saw Erik Bedard pitching in the bullpen and getting a side session. No one was over there and Pirates BP is a risk in itself so I went right up there.
Fortunately for me, he was just ending his session so three pitches later, I was underhanded my third snag of the day.
Ball #4 came during Dodgers BP from closer Kenley Jansen. I wished I had asked in Dutch but I was in right field and just went for it/got it.
Ball #5 came on a hit ball to right field. I got there in a scrum. Maybe I will try right field more now, I did well there.
That was it for my series and I am looking forward to the Brewers coming to PNC for the first time this season on Friday.
My back was improved on this day which was a great sign.
Because of the nature of the injury, I had to cut my already infrequent visits to the gym to train until the back improved. I had off work on this day, so I tried to get a 30 minute workout before I headed out to the game.
I was able to get my running in which was a great sign. I also got all of my lifting in with less break time in and had no issues. I have an extensive core workout that I cut out due to the back, but I was ready for this game.
I headed to the bridge, put on the headphones and got to throwing on the bridge and was met with mixed results.
I was more than physically and mentally ready following those two workouts.
Pirates BP was slow and of course there were season ticket holdlers by the North Side Notch, which meant all balls were pocketed and a few opportunities would be gone.
I actually played closer to the middle portion of left field on this day.
I would run back over to my spot on a ball that landed on the warning track.
Rod Barajas was slowly walking to the ball and I was the only one with a glove and thus he under-handed it to me for ball #1.
This was a big snag, as I was the first mygameballs.com member to snag a Barajas toss up all season. He did toss up a ball during Spring Training earlier this season, but we see Barajas for maybe 10 minutes during BP stay in left field. That was the first ball I think I ever saw him walk to get and that was only because another player got another ball close by.
Toward the end of Pirates BP, a ball was hit and Erik Bedard was unable to get it. It took a bounce back towards the field and another fortunate bounce right into my glove for ball #2.
Meanwhile, ballhawk Ian and I were making fun of some of the PNC Park music, including:
That was it for Pirates BP.
When 5:30 came I went into centerfield and was able to get a toss up from reliever Mike Zagurski.
Oh if you want an assignment, google image Mike Zagurski and then google image PGA Tour golfer Jason Dufner. Zagurski looks like a chubbier version. They actually look somewhat alike, and it cracks me up. Either way Zagurski heard me say please and thus the toss up for ball #3.
I then played the first base side where I ran into ballhawk Rick.
I got set and two minutes later, a screaming line drive is coming my way. It takes a bounce that I have measured perfectly and it goes right into my glove for ball #4. Rick who had the play backed up seemed impressed. I inspected the ball, pocketed it and moved on.
I tried the dugout after BP was over and it didn’t work out.
I then went to the bullpen where Michael McKenry was the starting catcher. He did this catching drill with Euclides Rojas, who waved at me and then tossed me a ball after the drill for ball #5.
That was it on this day but I have two more things to add on the Monday game entry.
The first refers to the clean catch I had during BP. Herbie Andrade came into the bullpen looked at me and said, “you caught one”. Yeah…
The second is this video of Erik Bedard warming up for his Monday start against the Diamondbacks. There were children on the ledge so it was tough to shoot:
I will have pictures up for both entries once the computer acts right again.
We’re going to start with the things that disgust me about PNC Park first so I don’t forget. Despite it being two games I attended, it was three games, so you get three things that disgust me.
#1 is the America’s Past time video. The guy is so annoying and it is on every game with no variation. It admits we strikeout and the even when the Pirates lose it talks about coming off of a win. Even bringing back something like the battleship animation where at least the teams changed each series is fine. It almost makes me miss the Pirate on the jumbotron that had that cool intro.
#2 Spiderwebs by the bullpen area. For a park that is so huge on cleanliness, you would think the area right in front of command post would always be taken care of. Nope. A couple of series ago there was this big spiderweb. Add that to the bee problem and the clear bug problem and it is a little gross. I ate a couple of slices of Diamond Pizza and put the plate down for 10 minutes during a game and when I looked back down, the plate was full of bugs. I’m glad I finished that pizza.
#3 goes to the Hunt Auction area. I love collecting things in general, baseballs, media guides, programs, ticket stubs, whatever. Hunt Auctions is really the only place where as the commercial says you can take home a part of the game. Game used baseballs in cubes at $25 are rather reasonable but otherwise these prices are ridiculous. $100 for the Mother’s Day lineup card? $65 for a signed Clint Hurdle baseball? $100 for a signed McCutchen baseball? $425 for a signed Derek Jeter baseball? These prices need to be much more reasonable if you really want fans to feel a part of the game.
Tuesday was a downish day since there was no Pirates BP. Snagging opportunities were kind of gone until around 5:30 to begin with as the relievers are tired of tossing baseballs up to us ballhawks.
So I had some time to snap pictures and enjoy myself for a little bit.
When 5:30 came, I got my first ball after the Silverio’s and Euclides Rojas were done throwing. I was on the third base side, and Rojas threw the ball. My glove was off for some reason and I had just beat Kansas City ballhawk Leiming down the steps despite not going as fast as I wanted. The catch was a barehanded one with my left hand for ball #1.
That sadly was it for BP on this day but at least I avoided the shutout which is easier said than done.
My day was not done yet though as I prepared for A.J. Burnett to do battle with Lucas Harrell.
Rojas would help me once more tossing another one up that I grabbed this time barehanded with my right hand. My hands were great today, I could have been on the Allstate All Hands Team today.
The Pirates won once again. Here are a few more pics:
It was once again very hot and I knew there would be BP as the Pirates were trying to go for the sweep, but with Carlos Lee gone to the Marlins, I expected both teams to have a tame BP.
I definitely was right on the Pirates end although I got a bit of help.
Euclides Rojas threw me either a duck or a slight knuckleball but no matter, it was ball #1 on the day.
Shortly after Herbie Andrade saw me at the wall and threw me ball #2.
That was it for me during Pirates BP as I have been working the foul pole lately in a change of strategy just to see different things.
At 5:30 I went over to the first base side where Wandy Rodriguez was throwing and when he was done he threw me ball #3. It was a little off but I was able to catch it.
Ball #4 involved a good amount of luck.
A guy was playing the spot I normally do and a batted ball bounced right to him. He had no glove and the ball deflected out of his hands right to me for career snag #350. Right place, right time and I of course gave him back the ball. He was grateful and let me play the spot although it didn’t work out for me.
I also ran into Javier Bracamonte again and went over my motion with him to his nods of approval.
Those were all of the baseballs I snagged at this game. Four has been the magic number for me lately.
Then I saw a tweet from the Pirates that changed the night.
So after ballhawk Ian Weir got some food and generously got me a burger, we went up to the Bowtie Bar a couple of minutes later thinking the tickets were gone but figured it was worth a try.
So after a nice walk, here we were.
So a nice walk inside and we took in the surroundings.
Why you ask, because I had to catch the T after and this was the wait on both sides.
Fortunately one came the shorter way and everyone flocked to it. I did not want to be a sardine so I waited and took the long way. At least I got to see Heinz Field.
The week wasn’t over though. I skipped Saturday and Sunday due to heat and activities but braves 105 degree heat index for Friday’s game against the Giants. How would I do? You’ll have to read the next entry to find out.
The Pirates won the first game of the series, but there were still two games to be played.
First off a congratulations to Tigers starter Max Scherzer. His brother had committed suicide just two days prior to his start. He did not want to make the start against the Pirates, but his parents told him they wanted something to smile at so he pitched. What a courageous move and it makes me respect him so much more than I already did. I don’t think I would have been able to emotionally cast that aside and make the start given the same circumstances.
Saturday was a tough day. I had already been to the NHL Draft and was very pleased with my experience (more on that in another entry).
The gates were an issue. It ended up that the Clemente Gate was operating like it was a Sunday. The gate should have opened at 1:30 to let us in at 2 PM. Sunday gate times are ridiculous and now we had to essentially endure two Sundays in a row.
Well I decided to blow off some steam on the Clemente Bridge and throw once more.
I knew there would BP, but it was 2:00 and the Pirates were already done with their BP so any of those easter eggs were already pocketed.
Only thing I could do is play for Prince Fielder who absolutely rakes during BP. Have to say I was a Fielder fan when he was on the Brewers because of this and this only. Unfortunately nothing happened for me and to boot, there were kids in the outfield so no toss ups.
When the gates opened, I ran to the first baseline as I knew there were two groups of Tigers still throwing.
There were no easter eggs, but I got there just in time for a ball that rolled right to where I stood. I saw a Tiger coming over but knew I needed to avoid a very possible shutout at all costs. I placed the ball in the glove for ball #1. Phew. As I brought it up, I gave it a quick look, and then still in the glove passed it to the Tiger.
30 seconds later, the second Tigers reliever Luis Marte saw me as the only person over with a glove and an easy toss up later I had ball #2.
I would get a third ball in BP although I forget how to be honest, I just know I got it. You will have to take my word for it.
That would be it for Tigers BP.
I then made my way to the bullpen and forsome reason with the whole 4:05 deal Euclides Rojas and Herbie Andrade were already in there.
I had asked Euclides Rojas to sign my glove Thursday but neither of us had a Sharpie. We had already said ours hellos today and I looked down and saw he had a Sharpie. I then looked down and somehow he remembered and we made eye contact. He motioned down for me to toss the glove and tossed it back up an easy catch.
I was in for a surprise though.
That was not the biggest surprise though.
On this night it was a now clean shaven Brad Lincoln vs Scherzer.
The Pirates were able to get this win and take the series. Still there was one game to be played.
There was day 2 of Rojas and Rojas by the way, although the Tigers Rojas was blocked from my view.
Lastly, every Saturday Pirates Charities does a raffle selling 1 ticket for $2 and 3 for $5. You can try to win various items with the money going entire to Pirates Charities.
I got permission from Pirates Charities, most of the people I know to take some pictures. Here is one item.
Finally, some golf balls with the World Series logo and signed by Rocco Mediate. I got permission to take a golf ball out and take the photo.
Lastly, thing #2 that disgusts me about PNC Park. Let’s give it to the music at PNC Park. Literally every single day it is the exact same music being played outside the stadium. Then inside the stadium it is the same thing. I want to hear some diversity and it just gets on all of our nerves. I know season ticket holders always are talking about wishing the music was different and it truly annoys us all.
I think I have learned my lesson with Sunday games. There was a Pitch for Hope event that ended a little after 10. Pirates would not have to take BP until 11:15 and Saturday’s game ended at 7:04 PM so the option to take BP was possible but of course not.
So we were stuck until 12:00 when all of the gates were open.
With the Tigers not taking BP, it quickly became a borefest. It would be harder than ever just to get one baseball.
I won’t even discuss how there were two balls in play and I stood back to separate myself only to see kids get the balls.
Yeah I was really only there to support my college Point Park University. Their baseball team made it to their division’s World Series and it was a big deal for them. They were invited by Pirates President Frank Coonelly to be recognized on the field.
It honestly was a miracle I even got these pictures because the bullpen was crowded. Why? This guy was starting.
It was very hard to get pictures but I tried to get Kevin Correia vs Verlander.
All good things must come to an end and with this being the series finale, that meant goodbye Rojas and Rojas.
Here was the Pirates starting lineup:
After the game started, Rojas saw me and tossed up ball #1. Streak still alive but barely. I hate Sunday games.
Speaking of hated things, time to hit on thing #3 that disgusts me about PNC Park.
This time it’s the grounds crew. Cocky attitudes and being ridiculous in unnecessary circumstances warrents this award. Rain that ruins BP only to have it stop and have them do nothing but say “no bp”. Refer to other’s blogs on what all they do, I really don’t need to go into it.
As for the Pirates, they were in it against Verlander but fell short 3-2 in the end to lose the game.
The Pirates come back from a week long road trip Monday against the Houston Astros and that is when I plan on being back as well.
Despite being delayed for a couple of days, I was really looking forward to heading the Baltimore. Erik and Nick’s schedule did not match mine, so I called fellow ballhawk Rick Sporcic who was more than willing to make the trip with me.
I was pleased to have a lot of leg room in Rick’s Camaro which made the 4.5 hour trip a whole lot easier.
We left at 9 AM on Thursday and arrived right on schedule.
We parked inside the Marriott Hotel parking lot and right when we left there, knew that we were in Orioles country.
We walked to the Eutaw Street Gate which is unique because it essentially is a street inside a ballpark. Tons of Orioles souvenir shops, eats, views and memorabilia all on a street and then the both ends serving as entrances.
Also there are a lot of great things to see outside of the Eutaw Street entrance.
With tons of time left, the two of us went sightseeing, and this was the first picture I took and ultimately what would be my first impression of Baltimore. A really weird impression to say the least.
Also saw the most interesting name of a restaurant in Baltimore as well.
I had my sights set on the Barnes and Noble in the Inner Harbor which I heard was rather large and it was.
The traffic was more than I had expected although there was a Sailabration being held in Baltimore. Apparently the event was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 when Francis Scott Key wrote the National Anthem.
I was able to buy a couple of books.
With Eutaw Street opened early, I bought my ticket and was able to go in way early.
Upon entering I went over to the bullpen area. Unlike the last time Rick was there, the area was locked off and someone was watching it.
This was my first image when I set up by the pen.
I then looked down into the bullpen where Pitching Coach Ray Searage was smoking something that was dark brown. Herbie Andrade and Euclides Rojas both were there as well and said hello to me.
They were there for Brad Lincoln’s bullpen session.
We also saw Jeff Karstens throw 15 pitches from the bullpen.
I knew I needed to try and snag that Boston Red Sox commemorative baseball. I thought my best bet would be to ask Rojas, a former Red Sox coach, so I did. I got the biggest look of confusion on his face afterwards, and obviously he had no idea what I was talking about.
Around 4 PM, we got kicked out and let the waiting game for 5 PM begin.
Rick and I would throw for 30 minutes and I have to say that I was throwing the fastest I had in a long time and the pop’s in Rick’s glove were evidence of that.
Afterwards I saw a man in an orange Orioles shirt and I knew right away who it was when he came up to me.
“Hit me,” I said.
What is this you ask? Well if you see the man in the following photo, he sprays a small squirt of water on your face and you get to choose a baseball card.
Don’t believe me?
Here was the card I picked.
Not too many pictures of BP but here is one of the Pirates pitchers throwing.
Then the camera was turned off. Lincoln tried protecting the pitchers but could not protect two hit balls that were hit into the stands about a minute apart very close to where I was standing for balls 1 and 2 of the day. Even better were that both were Orioles commemoratives meaning all I would need was the Red Sox commemorative to get all six.
I slowly filed over to the Pirates dugout and noticed Manager Clint Hurdle.
“Good luck today Clint,” I said.
“Thank you,” he said looking up and then realized me.
Then upon realizing it was me and recognized me continued.
“Hey, how have you been,” he asked.
“I’ve been great, how about you,” I replied.
“Great thank you. What brings you up here,” he asked.
“Honestly, I went up with a buddy to see a new ballpark, see the team play and to catch more baseballs for The Children’s Institute,” I replied.
“Hey, that’s my charity too,” he answered.
“I know, and I really would like to collaborate if that’s possible,” I said.
“Dang, now I’m going to have to get you the whole cart,” He replied referencing the big cart full of baseballs that would be thrown for bp.
He then went over to the top of the bag and pulled out a brand new baseball (with the practice logo) and tossed it to me for ball #3. I thanked him, wished him luck again and we parted ways.
Orioles BP ended and Rick joined me. He asked Orioles Bullpen Catcher Ronnie Deck for two Red Sox commemoratives and Deck did meet us.
“You’re the two that I owe baseballs to,” he asked.
We confirmed and he proceeded to check the baseballs. Weirdly he then blew us off and left with all of the baseballs. Needless to say we weren’t pleased but now not surprised when I heard that he stiffed Erik and Nick as well.
I would get two more baseballs, both from my buddy Coach Mark Strittmatter. There was a roped off area and he saw me, so I went down. He had a baseball which he gave me for ball #4. It had the normal logo on it. I asked if he knew anything about the Red Sox commemorative and he said they had some Orioles commemoratives but no Red Sox. He threw me ball #5 once BP was over and it was an Orioles ball. We talked as well and shook hands before parting ways.
Rick wanted to watch the whole game and I can’t blame him and he figured we’d leave Camden around 9:30 until I told him that Erik Bedard would get the start.
While Bedard went for the Pirates it would be Tommy Hunter for the Orioles.
After the first inning, I decided to walk around and check out the ballpark. Here are some pictures of what I found.
Here are some game pictures:
The Pirates would ultimately fall short.
Now my review of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The place is nice and spread out. Left field gives you room and a fair chance to stretch your legs and even get a baseball or two if you are a ballhawk.
The ballhawks can be aggressive but are friendly and welcome you to the ballpark.
You can get in early through Eutaw Street and this is a huge plus as it is open from 9-4 before reopening at 5 PM. It lets you get some food, buy that keepsake item and even go by the bullpen and get some interaction.
I am definitely did not like the fact that they have a designated smoking area. I apologize to smokers but I am against smoking inside a public place and that includes ballparks. It cluttered up the surrounding area and many smokers just ignored the designated area and just lit up wherever the pleased.
The fans are passionate about their Orioles but despite wearing a Pirates shirt all day, I was not heckled one time.
I will definitely be going back to Baltimore this year and it should be a great time. I thank Rick so much for taking me, although next time, I don’t think we should come and go in one day as we did leave right after the game and I got home around 3:30 or 4 AM and I was TIRED.
A quick time in to discuss the end of the game. The home plate umpire did not hook either myself or Rick up with baseballs. Frankly I wanted the lineup cards, but was ignored which sucked.
Jim Joyce was the last umpire in and signed two items, one of which was Rick’s baseball.
Before he left I knew I had something I wanted to say to him ever since the whole Armando Galaraga perfect game debacle.
“Jim. I really appreciate the way you handled the aftermath of that perfect game. You handled it with class and I really respect that,” I told him.
“Thank you so much, that really means a lot,” he said and he shook my hand before he left.
Before I finally wrap up this entry, I might as well show you a couple of the things I got.
So not the greatest of days and no Red Sox commemorative baseball, but still all in all, a fun time and three Orioles commemorative.
Now the wait is until Tuesday for a six game homestand which ends on Sunday. The Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers are coming to town and things could go well for me although Saturday’s game is a 4:15 start and not 7:05 which will hurt all ballhawks totals as there will be no season ticket holder time. With attendance being higher due to the Pirates winning and interleague, things could get a bit harder in this coming week.
It was Ballhawkfest and the competition was going to be more than usual despite Erik and Nick leaving to ballhawk in Baltimore.
I left work at 4 PM and went straight into line. Immediately I needed to quickly stretch and prepare myself to throw.
I began throwing with Rick and Robbie on the bridge and was shortly joined after by the Happy Youngster and the Cooks who showed up late.
After the nice throwing session we all got to our spots in line and waited for the gates to open.
When they did open, I quickly searched left field for easter eggs and saw everything was pocketed.
With Erik gone, I checked the third base side, and wouldn’t you know it, there was ball #1 just lying there and I quickly grabbed it before settling for first base.
I was on a mission on this day to try and catch a Baltimore Orioles commemorative baseball and it cost me 3-4 baseballs in the process, something which I regret.
Ball #2 came on a toss up from Charlie Morton. It was almost certainly the last toss up he threw in a Pirates uniform this season as he will have Tommy John surgery and miss 12 to 18 months, a tough break for a guy who is just a season removed from his career year.
Ball #3 came from Royals coach Steve Foster. I asked him to help me out with an Orioles commemorative for charity. He went to get a ball and tossed it to me but it was a regular ball. Ball #3 but I was shaking my head.
That was it during the Pirates portion of BP, I likely could have been at 6 if I hadn’t tried things such as talking to Jeff Francoeur. I asked him to come over to me when he finished throwing the football but he never did.
Ball #4 came when it was hit towards the first base side. I knew I had it and picked it up and was sad to see another normal baseball.
I was still in Pirates gear at this point but with time winding down with Royals BP, I did a quick change and upon coming down saw that reliever Kelvin Herrera with a ball. There were people in the front row so I took the approach that worked for Erik when the Cardinals were here and stayed in the 100′s level around the middle of the section. I held the glove up and that did the trick for ball #4. A family of four did not see that I was there so they got scared and I had to extend to make the catch and I got some applause from them. The ball was not commemorative and was given to their child.
That was it for Royals BP as there were no toss ups following BP.
I saw recent call up Clint Robinson and asked what he knew with the baseballs and if he could help me out but he was unable to do so.
I went to the bullpen and Herbie Andrade came in with a ball. I asked him if he wanted me to warm him up but he just threw it up. A random ball #5.
The Pirates were able to find a way to get the victory much to the delight of a packed house at PNC Park which were mostly there because of a Boyz II Men concert. I wish that one of these days that fans will come for the right reason.
My quest for an Orioles ball would not be denied so just yesterday (June 14) Rick and I went up to Baltimore and then back after the game. Would I get the Orioles commemoratives that I needed? Would there be any Red Sox commemoratives, you’ll have to read the next (long) entry to find out.
Lastly, with it being ballhawkfest, we all took a group picture which is below:
Yes I do have an Orioles commemorative in here. It was given to me but I decided not to count it since I did not officially snag it.
I knew that three was the magic number today and I hoped I would get there to get to my 100th snag of the season.
Things got off to a great start. I was first to arrive, felt good during stretches and had a nice throwing session with ballhawk Rick Gold who made the trip.
I quickly realized today though that I was going to have my work cut out for me. I ran into left field as I usually do but something felt a little off during my sprint. I felt a groin pull and I knew that I was in trouble.
Speed is an advantage I have over the other ballhawks and a groin pull limited my speed big time. When I would speed up I would feel the injury so I had to choose my spots but it hurt the entire night.
This injury was a huge reason why I could not go for any scrums. I was just off all day and I was worried big time that I would get shut out.
Pirates BP came and I had yet to get on the board and I tried to map out a gameplan for the Reds but I knew something just did not feel right.
The Reds first group was doing okay when catcher Ryan Hanigan hit a ball coming directly at me. I made a sharp move forward to try and get into position since I knew it was going to bounce up to me and I felt the groin again which caused me to drop the ball and get some boos from people who did not understand the pain that I was feeling.
Fortunately for me, Reds reliever Logan Ondrusek saw the whole thing and saw the wince of pain and made the short walk to pick up the ball and toss it to me for ball #1. Phew shutout averted.
I then made the big run to another section to wait for it to open and was in an enormous amount of pain due to the injury.
I checked right field and found no easter eggs and the usher there said, “we checked and didn’t find any baseballs up here.”
“Yeah, because you pocketed them all,” I muttered and walked down still in pain.
I slowly walked into centerfield and saw Rick Sporcic. In an earlier post I had very negative things to say about him as did the rest of the Pittsburgh ballhawks. My big issue was that he called my charity “questionable”. As I stated in that post, I found it insulting to The Children’s Institute and the children who I am trying to help. Rick and I started working out our differences and when I saw him in centerfield, I knew we were both in ballhawk mode so I said what I wanted to say quickly.
“Could you meet me around 6:15 by the bullpen,” I asked.
“Sure no problem,” Rick said.
That was that, I was pleased that when 6:15 did roll around there was Rick as promised and we talked things out and we are on good terms now, something I know pleases both of us because I know I don’t want any trouble and try to get along with everyone.
My ballhawking day was still not done and while in center, I got ball #2 from Jose Arredondo by once again asking him in Spanish.
That would be it for Reds BP for me and I took my spot by the bullpen.
I was able to have conversations with various people before Bullpen Catcher Euclides Rojas came in made his customary wave to me. He then went into the baseball bag and inspected the baseballs before pulling one out and tossing it to me for ball #3. How fitting was it that Euclides was the one who gave me my 100th baseball of the season? It was awesome to get that monkey off of my back.
As if that wasn’t good enough Bullpen Catcher Herbie Andrade also tossed me a baseball, #4 on the day.
The Pirates would win the game and I would stay at four baseballs.
While I sit here writing this, I am only hours away from a ballgame against the Royals and I am excited to have what I hope to be a big day. Colston will be with me and today will help me gauge things as Ballhawkfest is tomorrow with ballhawks galore expected to attend.
I knew today was important. I needed to snag three baseballs to get to 300 in my career and I was hopeful that today would be the day. I would be first in line and again took the chance despite no Pirates BP once again.
When I came into the ballpark I knew I would have to wait the usual 30 minutes on a day game before we are able to go in. I saw the cage up though and knew the Reds would be hitting.
I will just fast forward past those 30 minutes where plenty of balls were again pocketed.
I would be able to get in but just for the last two groups of BP which was not ideal.
I quickly had to measure the situation and stayed in left field upon entering.
There were some Reds fans to my right who were on pitcher Mat Latos when he had baseballs. I took advantage of this after a while after he was close.
“Matt, could I please have that baseball,” I asked.
“Because you said please,” he responded while looking at the rude Reds fans. Ball #1, thanks Mat!
I knew then and there that it was time to leave that area and I had my strategy for the rest of BP all mapped out at that point running to centerfield.
I played a corner area in 141 hoping for a toss up and I got fortunate rather quickly.
The Reds trio of Aroldis Chapman, Alfredo Simon and Jose Arredondo all were in right center and I was ready. A ball game close by to where I was standing and Arrendondo went to retrieve it. I asked him in Spanish and I knew he heard me, but with a kid close by he tossed it to the kid, something I completely understood.
Seconds later, a ball came to a rest at the Clemente Wall. Arrendondo went over and pointed to me before throwing the ball. Ball #2. Muchas gracias Jose!
I decided to stay in centerfield for a short while longer and chase my 300th career baseball in section 139, where I have snagged some Andrew McCutchen toss up balls before innings and also close by where my season tickets for two seasons were.
A Reds batter lifted a flyball to lefty reliever Sean Marshall who was patrolling the area and made the catch as he back pedaled towards me.
“Sean,” I half-heartedly said.
Without making eye contact and with the ball still in his glove, he used his glove to underhand me the ball and I made the catch. A great way to get ball #3 on the day and 300 in my young ballhawking career. I have had my struggles and inconsistencies with that throw when I am on the bridge with Nick and Erik so it is ironic that the ball came that way.
I then went over to first base to try my luck and came away empty handed despite toss up attempts. I also got stiffed at the dugout by a random Reds employee who had changed since the last time the Reds were in Pittsburgh. Oh well, it happens.
I then continued applying massive sunscreen just like the whole weekend, except it was even hotter on this day and I thought I was going to melt.
The first person to enter the bullpen was Bullpen Coach Euclides Rojas. He looked into the ball bag and was inspecting the baseballs, something he normally does. He had already looked up to see me and we had our usual short conversation.
He ended up throwing the two up and I was the first one he threw too. It was ball #4 on the day.
About 20 minutes later Bullpen Catcher Herbie Andrade did the same. He had already said hello but like always he threw with the pitcher and then came in. Much like a previous entry, he carried a baseball in his hand, and I had a feeling that I knew where it was going to end up and I was right, ball #5.
I want to take this short pause to express my appreciation towards both Herbie and Euclides. They both have been great to me these past two seasons and getting to talk to them has been great. I appreciate the help they are giving me towards my charity and even if they didn’t do that, they always make my day when they look up to see if I am there. They always light up, wave and see how I am doing. It is something small, but something I don’t take for granted. When I ballhawk it makes me feel like a ballplayer of sorts, and this daily gestures furthers that feeling and it makes me feel so grateful.
The Pirates would win the game and make it a long day for former Pirate Bronson Arroyo. It was great to see although I wish I was smart enough to watch more of the game from the shade.
The next day’s game May 29th, I was in the press box at PNC Park and I did get four baseballs, three of which I tossed back in and when the Reds didn’t care about the other one, I tossed it to a kid wearing a Reds uniform. I pointed to him and underhanded it his way. Since I was officially a member of the Pirates that day, I will not be counting any of these baseballs.
As for the press pass, I had a plan of attack and got everything I needed before the game began [yes before the rain delay as well].
The articles were all for a website I write for called cityofchampionssports.com and the site is always worth your time and a read as it discusses all things Pittsburgh sports.
I will link you to the articles, so that you can give them a read.
The first two were interviews I had with the Cincinnati Reds.
The first interview was with Reds reliever J.J. Hoover. The angle was that he was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and still lives close by. I wanted just to get his thoughts for a couple of minutes.
As an aside in the middle of the interview, teammate Wilson Valdez started singing the hook to Incubus “Drive”. Here is the link to that song:
I also was given the chance to interview Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips right before the team did their stretches for BP. I knew that he was one of the most outgoing players in the MLB so I was glad that he spent a few minutes with me.
After the interview was over, we discussed his appearance at the MLB Fan Cave and eating some weird foods with Chef Andrew Zimmern.
The main article I wrote was Pirates related and on Pirates relievers Tony Watson and Jared Hughes. Both opened up to me and here is the link to that.
All in all a great experience and I hope you enjoyed the articles.
August 16, 2011 was the date I snagged my 100th baseball last season and on May 30 in the series finale against the Reds, I needed three baseballs in order to get there. Would I be able to do it?
This really could have been the series that was, but it ended up being the series that was not, although for once it was not my fault. More on that later.
Starting off with May 8, I was very excited, I had started work at The Pittsburgh Fan that day and had my internship with Pittsburgh Sports Report start the day before. I am pleased with both as they are great resume makers and mix my love for sports with journalism, which in the long run will help me reach the goals that I have set for myself in the real world.
I took this excitement which coupled with my back being pretty close to normal to the Clemente Bridge when work ended at 4 PM for me. I was excited to be able to throw with full motion for the first time since almost 10 days before when I threw a side session with my friend Colston on Lind Field in Kennedy Township.
It was raining when we threw but we did not make much of it as radar said that it would pass. I did not even rush to get my coat and kept throwing.
I was excited to get into PNC Park for BP, except I saw the tarp go out on the field right as our throwing session. Are you kidding me? Whether it was the head of the grounds crew Manny Lopez or PNC Park Operations, I did not support this decision and they made a hasty decision.
So we went in to find that there were no Easter Eggs. To make things even worse, the rain was a drizzle by the time.
Unfortunately, this is not Cleveland and thus any chance of BP was over. Honestly if the grounds crew is reading this now, I will keep it nice and say that if you did not place the tarp on the field, you would not have had to water the field at all, it would have been all taken care of. Most of you were quite grumpy this week, be patient and let it ride especially since luck has not been on your side regarding tarping the field for BP.
Of course 5-10 minutes after us season ticket holders got in, the Nationals pitchers threw and the first base ushers pocketed all of the balls so we got nothing out of that. Oh and to the ushers, we are watching, so do not act like you did not pick the baseballs up. I was told by PNC Park Operations that if a baseball is pocketed that it must be given to a child or fan. Out of respect I will leave it that I was told that disciplinary actions would be taken for ushers who do not respect this rule.
Anyways, the Nationals outfielders were joined by Third Base Coach Bo Porter who showed the outfielders how to handle the bounces off of various parts of the PNC Park wall. Porter tried tossing me the ball, but overshot me and it was snagged by another ballhawk. Apparently there is a rule among ballhawks that if a ball is overthrown then the person that the ball was intended for should be able to go and get the ball. I guess not, so come 5:30 I was understandably ticked.
With a shutout definitely a strong possibility and the Nationals off of the field, I figured it was worth a try to talk to a familiar face in former Pirates Coach Trent Jewett who now coaches for the Nationals.
I needed to extend my streak so when Jewett was done talking to Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass, I politely waited for him to sign an autograph and asked if there was a chance to get a baseball.
“I don’t think any around,” he said. “Sorry… oh wait I see one here. Hold on a second.”
A very short while later he popped back up and tossed me ball #1. Relief.
I then decided to head to the bullpen and watch A.J. Burnett and Edwin Jackson warm up.
Before the pitchers warmed up, I received a nice little gift from Herbie Andrade. He came out of his usual tunnel with a baseball which was a surprise. It is a part of his routine to get in the bullpen around 6:30 but he usually does not bring out a baseball. I was caught off guard and was talking to someone and holding a very larged sized water in my non-glove hand.
After he caught up with another former Pirate coach and now Bullpen Coach Jim Lett, he came in with the baseball, said his usual hello and tossed up baseball number two catching me by total surprise.
As for the game, I was able to stay today as a buddy of mine Andy Conte who was a professor I had last semester, helped me get published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, made me a better writer and so much more was willing to give me a ride back home. I sat with him and was relatively close to the action. I was pleased that the Pirates were able to shut down Bryce Harper and the Nationals offense.
Despite the small crowd, it was definitely a festive atmosphere and when Rod Barajas got his first home run, a walk off giving the Pirates the win I went crazy. Andy was with three buddies from the Tribune-Review and we all were high fiving and jumping up and down like crazy. It was awesome and I don’t ever remember being that excited about a walkoff either.
As a final picture for that game, here are Andy and myself.
I would like to say that the next day was better, alas it was nearly a carbon copy of the previous day. Erik and I threw a few minutes after four and of course it rained for 25 minutes. It was not a strong rain and of course it stopped right before us season ticket holders were to enter the ballpark.
Manny Lopez of course made the decision to tarp the field, so the exact same procedure as yesterday happened. Grounds crew has to remove the tarp right after they put it on, the Nationals threw and 4-5 more baseballs were pocketed by ushers and things were bleak.
Not to sound like Passover, but what made this game different from the previous game? There were signs of life from the Pirates as six players came out to throw.
Joel Hanrahan turned to the fans after his session and saw me and after our connection at Bowling With the Bucs, he gave me a throw. It was an overthrow but I snagged it for ball one without the need to jump. I was pleased as any chance of a shutout was gone early.
That was it, although I stayed for the entire game once again.
No pictures for this game as I was running late, forgot my camera and nearly arrived late to work.
I was able to get ball #2 from Herbie Andrade who helped me out again after Joel Hanrahan warmed up for the ninth inning. Thanks Herbie!
Joel had an emotional night having lost his grandmother. He would be placed on the bereavement list after the game and not return until Sunday. He did get the save and pointed to the heavens soluting his mothers.
I stayed after the game as the grounds crew cleaned up the bullpens. I did that as there was a ball by the bullpen. I saw a “ballhawk” trying to get it, but knowing that his catching ability was suspect, I stood there. This “ballhawk” keeps his baseballs, and there were a couple of guys that were to get the ball, and I wanted to make sure the ball would go to the right person and not used as Ebay bait to fund road trips.
The grounds crew member made a bad throw and it was going to be a scrum between myself and the “ballhawk”. I ended up with it and made sure to give it right over to the guy asking for it. He had two or three friends with them and they all shook my hand, patted me on the back, thanked me and wished me a good night before parting ways.
The last game marked the return of my camera. I did not want to forget it this time, Stephen Strasburg was starting and to boot Kevin Correia guaranteed that he would hit a home run against him (he ended up going 0-2 with two strikeouts).
Also great news was the fact that there was batting practice and there was no rain in sight. All I have to say is, it’s about time because if the grounds crew messed me up again, I would have been so upset.
I did another throwing session and have been working on a sidearmed throw which I think is going well.
Upon entering the ballpark, I saw the left field ushers sitting down and I know immediately what that meant. The balls were pocketed and it has turned into last year all over again.
Despite threats to “badly injure me” and the false idea that my charity initiative was “fake” (more on this in a future post), I came away with a nice haul.
Ball 1: It took a while to get on the board but my buddy Jason Grilli hooked me up and got my day started off in the right direction.
Ball 2: I was spotted by Bullpen Coach Euclides Rojas and he threw me a perfect ball.
Ball 3: Jose Tabata was fielding baseballs in the outfield for a drill and a ball was hit right by the left field foul pole. My Spanish was quick enough to get the baseball.
I will take a break in the action to say that from here my buddy Mark Strittmatter came into left field. I could not have been any more excited. I pumped my fist and went over by where he was.
Immediately Strittmatter and I made eye contact, waved and smiled at each other and I knew he would help me out once again.
Surprisingly, quite a few baseballs went his way and he gave me every other toss up or at least one of every three. This allowed me to get balls 4, 5 and 6. Yes some of you may view this as cheap, and I understand, but when you are raising money for charity, this goes a long way and of course they all count.
That was it for the Pirates portion of BP and the Nationals prepared to hit.
I saw that the Nationals were in Los Angeles last week, and my buddy Nick got a Dodgers 50th anniversary commemorative baseball from the Nationals on Tuesday, so my goal was to hopefully snag one of those.
I had rotten luck in left field as former Pirates Xavier Nady would not throw anything into the crowd.
I looked in centerfield for baseballs at 5:30 but they were pocketed by either the ushers, or a fan who happens to get in early at each game and gets to sit in her seat.
Of course, I had Henry Rodriguez all lined up to throw me a ball, but he had other ideas and I just missed a BP home run.
The chances for double digits were running thin, so I had to act fast.
After a narrow miss of a high bouncer and a playful groan from Nady, reliever Ryan Perry fielded the ball and did a no look and over the shoulder toss to me. I had to catch it barehanded which I did for ball 7. I took one look and sighed, still no commemorative. I just ended up giving it to an usher to give to a kid.
I then decided to move to left field where Roger Bernadina was. I was unable to get him to toss me one, but I wanted to try for a few minutes more before I moved to the dugout to try and get one.
A right handed batter gave me ball #8, as he hit a ball that went in the small area at left field. I thought I saw something bizarre about the ball and no one else seemed to be going after it. I charged at it right away despite it being locked. I stepped over it, picked it up, and found this:
It was the commemorative I had wanted! I said in a whisper to no one in particular, “that was a commemorative.” I am so glad I didn’t pinch my nerve on this one like I did for the Angels baseball last year.
A couple of minutes later, Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus gave me a nice toss for ball #9. No commemorative there, so I gave it to another usher to give to a kid.
I then went over to the Nationals dugout where I kept my glove up and got rewarded as some random coach threw me ball #10 placing me in double digits once more. Even better, it was another commemorative.
With BP over, I went over to the bullpen and watched the game.
The Pirates were looking good but Correia had a rough inning giving up three runs and ultimately that was enough for the Nationals to get the win.
Meanwhile I got robbed twice during the game. Both Nationals home runs went into the bullpen area. For the first, Daniel McCutchen did an over the shoulder toss that was intended for me, but out of nowhere, a fan snagged it and passed a point they were not supposed to. Then he stayed and wouldn’t shut up. So much for the ball being intended for me, fans never will stop being obnoxious.
Former Pirate Sean Burnett heard my call for the second ball, but his throw was terribly off and landed in an area that fans were not allowed to go into. Wow I was not pleased.
Meanwhile, Strasburg struck out 13 Pirates and looked dominant.
Again the Pirates lost and missed out on a chance to sweep. At least I snagged a free hot dog Tuesday that I got to redeem for a fresh one on Thursday.
Also, former Steeler Hines Ward threw out the first pitch to the game.
Thursday was not a bad day by any means, but the no BP really hurt me on Tuesday and Wednesday. I would face more disappointment during the weekend series against the Astros, but more on that another time.