Results tagged ‘ Jim Saylor ’

Pirates vs Milwaukee Brewers 4/14/11 PNC Park

 I came off a huge eight ball performance in the previous game, and knew that I was taking a huge risk by coming today. Going into today, I had a streak of 14 straight games of snagging at least one baseball. Erik Jabs told me that in order to reach my goal of 128 baseballs, my average would have to be in the three or four balls a game range, and going into the game, I was over five. He told me that I would have to snag 21 baseballs before the end of the month, and going into tonight’s game, I had snagged 16 in three games. Thru three games last season, I had five baseballs and thus I am well ahead of where I was at last year, in fact, more than three times better.Thru four games last season, the total was boosted to seven, so could I top the two balls I caught in game four last season?

 Going into the game I was not sure of what my goal should be. My lowest game was snagging four baseballs twice. I have gotten off to a fast start in April and had set a goal of two with the understanding that it may be too much to ask for. I had only 30 minutes of BP, mostly filled with Pirates just hitting lefties and no real lefty power. I was going to be on the field for Season Ticket Holder of the Game and this would take away from an eventful and snagging filled total.

 I was actually worried that I would get shut out and the Pirates were not hitting much of anything out and they weren’t throwing any tossups, in fact one trainer robbed Erik of a snag much to the delight of Daniel McCutchen.

 Something that pleased me, was that I was getting close to full strength. My running patterns and speed today were the best they have been all season, and I was able to cover a lot of ground. I nearly beat out Erik for a batted ball that normally would easily have been his snag. I was in the middle of left field and then ran close to the foul pole and just got beat out. A ball immediately then came Nick Pelescak’s way and I had to sprint all of the way back to a center table and just got there in time but Nick got it as his glove got down before mine. If I can cover that much ground without gasping for air, then the other ballhawks are in trouble.

 I am recovering from there run here.

 I did get lucky during the first group of Brewers BP as I was able to snag a homer for ball number 1. This extended my streak of consecutive balls in a game to a respectable 15 straight games, as I have not been shutout since August 20, 2010 a game against the Florida Marlins.

 It was 5:30 at this point, and I was to meet my agent, but I first wanted to search center field for Easter Eggs. I found nothing and quickly searched the back row and found nothing. Because I checked out the back row, I missed out on a BP homer to Jim Saylor. I was disappointed as I had a feeling that things would start to pick up, but at this point I was late in meeting my person so that I could be recognized on the field.

 My agent gave me to feeling that we would be on the field for BP and that excited me, however we were taken to the conference room to sit for 15 minutes. I had mixed emotions, as my body was physically exhausted for the wear and tear of the homestand and media obligations Wednesday. I still was a competitor and the day was looking to be a less than stellar one.

 The idea was for us to be on the field at 6 to watch the end of their BP, but the Brewers just like yesterday were trotting off the field when we all got on.

 When I went out to the area, I immediately saw a baseball that was left there and grabbed it for ball number 2. At that point I just stood on the field with others waiting for our various honors. Here is the pass we were given so that we could go on the field.

Photo taken by Colston Cooper

 I had to wait the longest in the line there, as the other two people were throwing out pitches. I did get to play catch with the Pirate Parrot. I already had played catch outside, but there really wasn’t anything better to do, and plus not many get to do that. We were quite close together though and that made it a little more predictable but it was still a good time.

 I then was recognized standing out on the field all by myself. I had to wave for what seemed like forever. I thought I had forced my smile but that was not the case.

 While on the field, Clint Hurdle came and made small talk with us while shaking out hands.

 “Back for more,” he asked me.

 Yep, I figured somebody would remember me from yesterday, but Clint actually said it. I actually wanted to ask him if BP on Sundays would continue as it did this past Sunday, but I never asked.

 The following is a cell phone photo taken by Colston. This explains the poor quality.

 I was supposed to deliver the lineup cards with Hurdle, however for some reason they did not do lineup cards and we went inside. I was so disappointed and thus the Pirates faced my wrath losing 4-1.

 As for the ceremony itself, it was the longest 10 seconds of my life. Smiling and waving, oh dear I feel for Ms. America. Anyways, my friend Kayla was by the bullpen watching Paul Maholm warmup, and the following photo was taken while I was on the jumbotron.

 

 I knew that I wanted to try and get the first tossup, however the elevator took two minutes or so and then I had to run from the middle of the 100′s section to the riverwalk center field area. It is not a short walk and I actually did finally bump into a woman literally when I was on the Riverwalk, I did not fall but the time may have cost me, as I missed the toss-up.

 I was able to get ball number 3 by making my best catch of the year. Erik, Nick and others kept changing their position on me. I was able to realize this unlike last year and picked the right around to be by myself. The throw from Andrew McCutchen was high and my gloove felt passive and I was worried, however I was excited, as I made the athletic famly.

 I am tired so going to cut this entry short. Ball number 4 came when I was by the bullpen when Herbie Andrade threw me a ball. I had reached my low of four and now stood at 20 2011 run. I now need one more ball to breaking that quota I need.

 I now have snagged 20 baseballs and it is exciting. I have started out very hot and fast I am excited.

 Baseballs Snagged: 20

 Total Baseballs: 89

 Total Baseballs given away in 2011: 14

 Notes: I am only 11 balls away from 100. I am quite excited.

 Next entry will and I repeat will come after the soap

4/7/11 Opening Day PNC Park

 I was getting over a nasal drip and allergies but despite being told that the game was “sold out”, I bought my ticket from Point Park University.

 It all came down to a good night’s sleep so after watching Survivor, I immediately went to bed to get that extra half-hour of sleep.

 I then fulfilled my obligations, and ended up contributing to a university radio show for two hours before getting some final preparations for the game in and then making the short walk from Point Park to PNC Park.

 I fully expected a line to back all the way until the street but the line was not nearly as long. I actually cut to the front of the line with all of the ballhawks, and no one complained which is great.

 I slowly but surely caught up with a lot of the ballhawks starting with Harold, Jim Saylor and Ian Weir before quickly jogging down the steps and trying to play homers off of the riverwalk.

 The Pirates had started BP early, because of the on-field activities scheduled for 12:40. The gates were expected to open at 11:30 so needless to say, us ballhawks were not pleased. During my couple of minutes down there after the long jog, I was beaten to a ball by both Erik and Nick and my reactions were not great.

 Still this was a game that I initially did not commit to, and thus this would be a strike (no pun intended) extra for me.

 Going into the game I want to snag at least three. That was what I snagged last season in my ballhawking debut, and I want an overall average of three or higher to make my ballhawking goal.

 Erik, Nick and I all went up early in hopes that the ballpark would open at 11 and it did. I got in just ahead of Ian and behind Erik and Nick. The familiar sprint was something I missed a lot and I started searching the lower portions of left field for easter eggs but was coming up empty. This was when the light bulb clicked. I decided to search the second deck as no one was up there.

 This ended up being a wise move, as when I went up, I saw a white speck and sure enough I was on the board with ball number 1. It was just too easy, and in fact I could not have asked for more. I was not feeling great and to get on the board like that brought a smile to my face. I quickly surveyed the ball and saw that it had a decent sized hole in it which meant that someone must have had a lot on their swing. I have no idea who hit it, but just for the heck of it will say Tabata.

 The first Evan Meek sighting of the 2011 season occurred after he threw a ball to Erik and Nick and actually said, “It’s 1-1 who’s going to come out on top”.He said that he would get us all later and I jokingly responded, “I thought what we had was something special” which drew a laugh out of him. He obviously knows/is more than willing to contribute to our collections.

 I did not get lucky though and he never tossed me up one. Also fans decided to sit in the most random places in left field and just blocked my path towards everything. It was very annoying and I swore quite a few times under my breath as it was clearly amateur hour. For obvious reasons, I will not repeat what I said on this blog, but it is ridiculous, we have gloves and moving around you just makes it that much harder and more likely for somebody to get hurt.

 I also was trying to take pictures for the blog and missed out on two snags which easily could have been mine, and at that point I thought that I was doomed.

 Pirates BP ended and I got nothing else, and I got quite upset as I changed into my Rockies gear. I knew that my chances of getting to my goal were getting more slim by the second as the sellout crowd of 39,219 fans filed into the stadium.

 I started out Rockies BP in left field and was coming up empty handed and decided to move my efforts to center field. After some time in center, nothing was happening and I was trying to figure out what to do. Left field was packed at this point and it would have been very hard to be mobile and right field was tough, so I decided to stay.

 Shortly after, an unknown Rockies player hit a ball to the warning track. I lined it up and knew that this was my chance. I had the corner spot in center and lined it up. Now I had a new glove and it was broken in very well but this was the first test of my new glove. I never had a chance to throw with anyone because I was sick and the weather was terrible. Also no one was throwing when I showed up. So this was it, and in short I blew it.

 The ball did a one hopper into my glove and it just fell out. To make matters worse, the fans in center let out a collective groan. The third bit of bad news was who saw it. Matt Lindstrom threw me my 64th and final ball of the 2010 season, and now he was a Rockies reliever. Would he remember me? No was the answer, but he provided another memorable moment.

 I asked Matt if he could help me out and toss me up the ball. He legitimately told me “You dropped it”. That was his actual quote and he mockingly sounded like a first grader. After the “grief” that Lindstrom gave me, he softly tossed up ball number 2.

 I then decided to go for the trifecta and challenge myself. I would ballhawk in right field. I only did this a couple of times last year and it did not go well. I think I will ballhawk a little more there especially with some of the hitters that the NL Central has. I first went up and chatted with Big Yellow, Randy Page. The last I had seen him, was when he came onto my radio show for a couple of segments to talk Pirates baseball, so of course it was great to see him.

 Of course once I went to right field, the Rockies hit a cold spell. I think maybe one of their hitters even made it over the wall during their entire BP time.

 I of course shifted my position and then of course is when that one home run came, right in a place where if I was situated in my previous spot, then I would have been able to snag it.

 Still a short time later, an unknown Rockies player had a ball close to the warning track and being the only person remotely close to wearing Rockies gear, I thought that I had a chance to snag it. It ended up that the player threw a terrible toss and it started to go down the stairway in the section I was in. I was closest to the steps and sprinted down the steps getting the ball ahead of five others chasing the ball and thus met my goal with ball number 3.

 I left right field after the snag, and moved back to center. I did contemplate chasing foul balls but the Rockies weren’t hitting many out. Troy Tulowitzki was hitting some balls out to left but not many people were able to move to try and get the snag so it got swallowed up by a sea of hands. I came close to a snag of a homer in center. It took a huge bounce and if the guy who snagged it had bobbled it, I would have made an easy snag, but it was not to be.

 Rockies BP ended a few minutes after and then the waiting game began. I clumsily looked for my bag that I had left in left field for five minutes until I found that it was moved down.

 I then headed to the bullpen, which ended up being my seat for the whole game, because I did not want to sit in my designated seat in the bleacher general admission area.

 I was able to watch Paul Maholm warm up which never gets old but he put the baseball in his back pocket and thus I did not get the toss up. I quickly grabbed my things, and moved over to the fenced area right by the bullpen as I knew how the whole move to that area thing would work and I looked quite smart as I got the closest spot that I could.

 Closer to the middle of the game, bullpen coach Euclides Rojas got my attention. He explained to me that he was going to throw me a ball but to give it to the little child standing to my left. I agreed and he threw me a nice easy to catch ball and I snagged it for ball number four. I immediately gestured a thank you with my glove and with him watching, quickly gave it to the child. I half expected him to throw another my way, but it was not to be.

 I then stood and enjoyed the game, and nothing else snagging wise came my way.

 Let me correct myself for a second, there was not much to enjoy about the game as the Pirates lost 7-1.

 The highlight of the game at least according to fan applause was a fan who in the ninth inning went onto the field. Two security guards responded a little late, but got on the field. I was surprised that only those two, who were stationed in right field were the only two out. The man encouraged the crowd and the ovation grew louder when he deked a security guard and made him fall onto the grass. Eventually though he was contained and the security person by the bullpen said that the man would be fined $500. The fans all cheered him amidst taking cell phone videos, and a minute or two later Pirates reliever Jose Veras mimiced the man’s actions.

 Lastly, the pregame stuff was all nice as the Pirates spent the majority of the time honoring Chuck Tanner who recently passed away. Also Jeff Banister was given the “Pride of the Pirates” Award. Former Pirates Manager and current Rockies Manager Jim Tracy, went out onto the field today with a mixed reaction although I would say that at least 80% of that reaction was in a negative direction.

 My next game will be on Saturday against these same Rockies, and Mr. Electric Stuff himself Charlie Morton is expected to go. I was supposed to be interviewed by my school paper but that will not happen. Hopefully I will be able to catch with the glove on Saturday before the game.

 

Thank yous 2010

 I consider myself to be a thoughtful person and thus the premise for this entry. This season could not be possible without this list of people and I feel that this is a way to express my gratitude to all those who have helped me. These names (some only first names I apologize) are in no particular order but every one of them have truly meant a lot to me. I apologize if there are some that I have forgotten on this blog (insert Kenny “Lemonade Man” Geidel and T.C. here) but this is my opportunity to thank you for the laughs, the injuries and your part in the 2010 baseball season.

1. My parents- I will be honest, I think my parents still have no idea about the concept of the BHL or anything related to it. My dad thinks that it is a total waste of time (maybe that’s why we don’t go to too many games together anymore). Still though, they have supported me this season and they made sure I was safe and often times went out of their way to provide me transportation. I am not ashamed to say to anyone how much I love and care for them.

2. Colston- Colston has helped me a lot this season as well. Throughout the process he has snagged a couple of baseballs this season, but by no means is he a future ballhawk. Colston went with me to about half of the games I attended this season and each has been a different experience for us. As a side note I should thank his mother in this entry because she also provided transportation from Lawrenceville to my home, often with downtown traffic, without complaining. It takes a great soul to do that, and Colston’s mother truly is a great soul. Thank you to both of you!

3. Erik Jabs- When I entered the BHL this year as a new member I had no idea what to expect however the advice and encouragement that he gave me before the season meant a lot. The league was certainly a fun experience and I will take some of the lessons I learned this year and apply them to next year. I hope to see you before PiratesFest.

4. Nick Pelescak- I still remember the freezing April day when you introduced yourself to me. Your words did encourage me to raise my game late in the season and despite a minor setback this past weekend with my illness, I raised both my average and my game. I enjoyed our constant runs from center field to left field but hate Tabata’s toss ups. Don’t worry I will get a Gem of the Diamond soon!

5. Ian Weir and Steve Uhlmann- You both were my main competition this season. Steve, although we never really had any conversations, it was great to ballhawk against someone my age. It was a shame that you left before the season ended, or else I am sure that this three way battle would have ended up much closer. Ian, despite the Rachel Ray impressions, raising the roof during Neil Walker’s at bat song and dancing terribly it was great seeing you at the ballpark. We went to a similar amount of games this season and we had some constant running as well. I think the difference between us was that I went a couple more games and I had that season ticket holder bp time. I hope you get a season ticket package because I look forward to the challenge.

6. Jim Saylor, Danny, Harold, Big Yellow and Baseball Joe- All of you represent the older generation of ballhawks and more importantly welcomed me with open arms. It was great talking with each of you before heading into the games. Jim, I look forward to more of the pranks you pull on me, and maybe I’ll get you back one of these days. I am mad that I missed out on that Pence Gem of the Diamond on Sunday and that will keep replaying in my mind throughout the off season. Danny, your encouragement simply put really kept me going. I really appreciate it and I know that my days will continue to come as a writer. Harold or shall I say “King of Right Field” I will have to try right field soon. I may not like it up there but I eventually will figure it out. Big Yellow, you need to give me dancing lessons. I have no confidence in Arthur Murray ballroom dancing and you dance with style. The conversations we had throughout the season have been very enjoyable. Baseball Joe, even though Nick and Erik think that your baseball is “cursed” I have still had above average days the both days I was to be “cursed”, therefore there is no curse. While you cannot speak, actions speak louder than words, and you truly are the biggest and best Pirates fan that I know. The team needs more people and fans like you. It has been a pleasure to get to know you this season!

7. Tim DeBacco- The opportunity that I had to job shadow this season really was one of my favorite moments this season. The fact that it also occurred exactly a week before my Point Park tenure really showed me that what I was doing was right and also gave me more information. Your support has truly meant a lot to me. Keep in touch and I hope that we’ll be able to connect even more next season. An extra thank you to Eric Wolff for arranging the job shadow opportunity.

8. Frank Coonelly- I am unsure if I ever mentioned on this blog what Frank Coonelly did this season. I may have briefly described our brief meeting at the rookie season ticket holder lunch, but the thank you is for something else. It was an interview that I did in April about whether or not athletes should be considered heroes or not. I was in 12th grade at the time and it was a part of my English research project. I gave Frank a call without any notification ahead of time and he took my call and gave me a seven minute interview. He answered every question openly, thoroughly and honestly.

9. Walt Srocki aka Camera Guy- Although you initially were confused by some of my snagging methods (aka me leaving the park to search the razor grass for baseballs that left the ballpark) you eventually got used to me. Thanks for letting me model the yearbook and media guide, I hope to do it again next season. It always is fun modeling, especially since I am no model. A big thanks for that script you gave me, it really helped since I have a journalism class where we are going over broadcast styles and scripts have a lot to do with what we are doing. Hope to see you early and often starting at PiratesFest!

10. Joe Klimchak- We have known each other since 2008 and since then have had a ton of conversations each if which has advanced me. Your kind words have always encouraged me. I look forward to seeing you at either PiratesFest 2011 and throughout the 2011 Pirates season.

11. “Hobbes”, “Boss” and “No-Nonsense”- You guys crack me up and it seems like I cracked you guys up too. Whether it was by the bullpen, the gates or even on the Riverwalk we always had great times. I hope to see you guys again during the 2011 season.

12. Jaclyn Mereyl and Karalyn Katchmark- Honestly who ever is my representative when I get a ticket plan desrves some kind of medal. I seem to change my plans so much that I drove these two crazy, but they put up with me throughout the season, and that is very tough to do. I had to have called one of these two at least once a week and they calmly answered with the usual “Pittsburgh Pirates this is…”. I believe that Karalyn left the Pirates before season’s end. It’s a shame that the only time I got to meet her was a time when I was sick as a dog. It was the night before Thanksgiving and I remember that night because it was the worst night of my life. I don’t want to go into it. Thanks so much for this season and Jaclyn good luck dealing with me next season. You might need it (I don’t know yet).

13. Evan Meek- Thanks for the relationship we had towards the end of the season. You have done a lot for me and I hope that I have done a lot in return. I hope to see you at PiratesFest in January. If you are reading this, please remember to keep in touch either via phone or email.

14. Ushers- There are so many ushers that have gone out of their way for me and I appreciate it. The ushers in center field often let me go for toss ups even when I didn’t have a ticket for the section. This is only a small thank you, but big things definitely come in small packages. Even though what you do is small, it definitely enhances the baseball experience. Just one favor, please don’t take away too many baseballs next season (and I mean it). With that in mind, see you next season!

15. Fred Davis- I tried to visit you as much as I could but sometimes with my short attention span and quest for baseballs we didn’t cross paths. You giving me the one program and the all-star medallion from the All-Star Game meant a lot to me. I hope to see you in shul as well as at the ballpark during the 2011 season.

16. Any one who reads this blog- I know that my blog isn’t as artistic or beautiful as the others, but I don’t have a camera. My cell phone does not include data/messaging and Colston can only take so many pictures. Once the series of the Jewish holidays ends, I should have pictures of the watch bp from the field event. Thank you for bearing with me. You truly keep me going and I thank you for your support of me this year and I ask for you to return next season when I hope to have a camera and bigger and better blog entries.

 

9/6 Pirates vs Atlanta Braves PNC Park

 I decided to go to this game and upon walking up to the line, I saw the longest line I have ever seen. It was an alumni autograph day and tons of people were there for autographs.

 I quickly cut through the line and joined Nick in the front. No one raised a stink about it, and I was glad as I did not want to start a fight with anybody.

 I was coming off of my two best games and I knew that today was going to be hard. My “best friend” the sun was out and there was a lot of uncertainty between Nick and myself and we both were excited yet anxious.

 We both worried that we would get in and have a shut gate or that only one team would take batting practice. Just as we were talking about facing only each other as competition, Jim Saylor showed up and we all had a conversation.

 With that the gates opened and I ran ahead of both of them. I searched for easter eggs as batting practice had just started, however I was unable to find anything.

 I endured a slow start as not many home runs were hit. I just missed getting a Chris Snyder home run and Nick had a couple balls at this point. Jim got a Ross Ohlendorf toss up.

 I was frustrated as nothing was coming up and Evan Meek wasn’t tossing anything up.

 It wasn’t until the final group of the day that I got something. It was from an unlikely source, as I finally snagged a Lastings Milledge home run for ball number 1 on the day.

 I almost had ball number 2 off the bat of Jose Tabata but a kid made a great catch and it was the first of many bad breaks on the day.

 That would be all for the Pirates and their batting practice. Both Nick and I noticed that the Braves were getting set for BP and we both rejoiced. We quickly reminded each other of the challenge we had set for each other.

 In previous trips to PNC Park the Braves have not really thrown any toss ups up to fans during BP. We decided to see who could get more toss ups from the Braves.

 Things started off funky as Eric Hinske, a former Pirate was throwing balls to kids but Nick and I couldn’t get our hands on them.

 I moved to right field as I saw some action out there. Unfortunately once I got there, I got nothing. Jason Heyward wasn’t hitting anything out and because of this and some toss ups, I moved to center field.

 Not much action occurred there and batting practice was dead for quite a while.

 The lone Braves hitter that was consistently hitting baseballs out was surprisingly Melky Cabrera.

 I took an early lead on Nick in the Braves toss ups as I actually got Mike Minor to toss me ball number 2. It was a lead that I was able to hold and I won the Braves toss up game.

 This game in particular was the most frustrating game of my life. I’ll recap this part the short way.

 Failed toss up #1: Cutch toss up in my direction. Gloveless woman screams “it’s mine”, drops it and drops a couple feet from her.

 Failed toss up # 2: McLouth toss up in my direction. A little short.

 Failed toss up # 3: McLouth toss up in my direction. Gloveless hand comes up at last second. Ball is lost.

 Failed toss up #4: McLouth toss up. Right section, wrong direction.

 Failed toss up # 5: Cutch toss up. Under thrown and batted around.

 Failed toss up # 6: McLouth toss up. Wrong section

 Failed toss up # 7: McLouth toss up. Just short and gloveless woman bobbles ball again and it short hops me.

 Failed toss up # 8: Cutch toss up. Ball is coming right at me, but under thrown and a random gloveless hand comes up at the last second. I throw my glove down in frustration and cuss.

 Failed toss up # 9- I lost count: Ok I give up, you get the idea.

 This was my last game of the homestand, and my next game is Friday the 17th vs the Arizona Diamondbacks.

9/4 Pirates vs Washington Nationals PNC Park

 Again I went to this game by myself and I felt that I had something to prove. Upon trying to get tickets, I called the Pirates and found out that the game was nowhere near sold out.

 I got to the game very early and placed my backpack down that way I was first in line.

 Snagging today could prove to be both easy and hard. It would be easy as neither Erik nor Ian were at the ballpark leaving Nick and I to duke it out. Still though it was a Saturday night game as well as a Skyblast meaning that the crowds during BP could get really big really fast.

 First though I took part in photofest, something the Pirates do once a year. Among those I got photos with were Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata. It was a fun experience as it was my first time participating in it, but once it ended, I got back in line to prepare myself for BP.

 I talked with a lot of the ballhawks as I got ready for today, and Nick asked me how I was going to follow up my seven ball performance from the night before. I honestly was unsure but I told him that I would do what I could.

 Soon after the gates opened and I ran inside, but before I could get into the bleachers, I found that the gates was shut. There was no scanner! Wonderful, for a second I thought I saw the writing on the wall, but someone filled in for a moment and I was first through the gates. I searched for easter eggs in both the lower and upper seating bowl and found nothing. I later searched the third base side and found nothing as well.

 I got on the board rather quickly as I beat someone to a home run ball from an unknown Pirate for ball number 1.

 Soon after Daniel McCutchen caught a fly ball on the warning track and I called out to him. He seemingly ignored me as he kicked the ball out onto the grass. He then picked up the ball with his feet, and tried to pass it to me, but failed numerous times. After realizing that this wasn’t FIFA and that he hadn’t made the US World Cup Squad (he was only a few months late) he threw me ball number 2. Unfortunately for me, I lost the ball in the sun but slid across the bleacher and dove for the ball to get it. He legitimately threw the ball in the sun. The stunt slightly bloodied my already injured leg.

 Later on during the practice, Joel Hanrahan caught a ball and with Nick backing up threw me ball number 3. It was an easy catch.

 Then the fun began, a ball landed on the warning track and I asked Chan Ho Park nicely if he would throw me the ball. He responded saying, “what do you think I am, the ball snagging robot?”. As I pondered he did the moonwalk to a Black Eyed Peas song. He then picked up the ball and lobbed it to himself. He then lobbed it up and I playfully missed it scaring Nick and letting Park continue his joke. Eventually we connected and I had ball number 4. When everyone was asking me why I was dropping the ball, I told them that I was joking around and making them earn their salaries. In all seriousness though, the sun was constantly in my face and I would lose the ball in the sun. It was frustrating that I kept losing the balls and I was lucky that the Pirates bared with me.

 That was it for the Pirates portion of BP. I had given away two of my four baseballs and I proceeded to get in my red under armour yet again for the Nationals.

 Quickly, the Nationals began BP and seemingly nothing was heading towards the bleachers. Finally Wil Nieves hit a home run and there was a minor scrum between myself and Jim Saylor. With my glove firmly on it, he finally relinquished the ball and I found that the Nationals were still using the cheap training balls. Still I was pleased to have snagged ball number 5.

 Before 5:30 hit, I sprinted to right field bum leg and all. The gate was open and I was the first one up there but all of the balls were already gathered by the ushers.

 I then headed to center field to start snagging. Unfortunately for me, Adam Dunn did not take BP today, whether or not it was because he was not starting I don’t know, but that cost me at least one baseball.

 Towards the end of Nationals BP, a ball rolled out to right center and Pat Listach was walking towards it with a bat. He looked as if he wanted to toss it up and there were no Nationals fans around me, so I called his name and tugged my shirt to show him that I was a fan. Soon after ball number 6 was in my glove, and for the record I did not drop it. Upon snagging and adding some numbers together, I realized that the snag was my 50th snag of the season!

 I ended up giving the ball away to a girl though as a toss up was meant for her, but she dropped it and a kid ran and got it.

 That was all for BP. Then it was picture time:

 

 In this picture is Nick Pelescak with his 700th career snag, Jim Saylor, myself and one of the people who went to 10 ballparks in 10 days.

 Nick and I decided to hang out during the game. We camped out by the bullpen and the starter Paul Maholm tried to throw me a ball, but he threw it as if I was right handed and two spots more to the left of the bullpen. I was unable to retrieve the ball and I found no more luck all night. I left early in the game, I believe during the fifth inning. I never got a chance to search the ivy upon leaving.

 I snagged a total of six baseballs today and thirteen baseballs in two days. More importantly was that coming into the season I set a goal of 50 snags in my first season in the BHL, and I am happy to say that I reached my goal. I can’t imagine how lucky anyone who snags at Washington’s ballpark is.

 After much thinking in terms of when my next game is, I have decided that Monday’s Labor Day game will be next on my list. It is a day game after a day game so hopefully there will be BP. How will I do? Even I don’t know.  

9/3 Pirates vs Washington Nationals PNC Park

 I had made big plans for this game, as I was at Point Park to work on an article for the student newspaper. I was really looking forward to interviewing students about the topic but the moment I got off of the bus it started to rain. This angered me, as no students were any where near where I was and Pirates BP was at risk.

 After waiting for a little while I walked down to the ballpark and the rain had stopped. I was somewhat surprised to see that the grounds crew was pulling the tarp off of the field and that the Pirates were getting ready to take BP. This was going to be great as there was a chance to see more BP.

 I went to the game by myself, and got close to the front of the line. The usual suspects were there, and Ian and I who were separated by two baseballs at the time were ready.

 I had a feeling that because the Nationals are a good bp team, that today had the potential to be a career day for me.

 When we were let in, I searched for easter eggs, and came up empty-handed. In fact most of the Pirates BP was very uneventful. The only Pirate that really was tossing up was Chris Resop, and he had already tossed balls up to Erik and Nick. I started to get a little discouraged until Resop came over to talk to Nick and I. He asked us about BHL and how things worked. Between the two of us, we probably spilled out a little too much, but it was well worth it as Chris is a very cool guy. As the conversation ended, he told me that he would toss one up to me.

  Sure enough, a ball was hit in the direction of Pirate Daniel McCutchen and Resop asked him for the ball. Shortly after Resop threw a perfect strike right into my glove for ball number 1. Thanks Chris!

 

 For a long while afterwards I fell into another drought. Ian however was nowhere to be found and I had crept up to one ball behind him. His cousin on the other hand was getting baseballs left and right and ended up with six. The fact that he was a kid hurt me a little bit. As Pirates bp ended, I felt stupid as I only had one baseball and considering the circumstances, I was not happy.

 Nationals BP got under way pretty quickly as the Pirates had a late start. I decided to play center field as I have fared pretty well there during recent batting practice. Again I was getting unlucky as I was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Ian’s cousin was getting some more toss ups and if there was ever a time to be patient, then this was it.

 Things changed for me when Adam Dunn stepped to the plate. He was hitting monster home runs and sure enough one went onto the riverwalk and after being bobbled by at least two people the ball went into my glove for ball number 2.  

 Ball number 3 came shortly after on another Adam Dunn home run. I almost snagged another Adam Dunn home run, but Ian got to it a second before I did. He had and finished with two snags on the day meaning one more snag and I tied him for third best ballhawk at PNC Park.

 BP ended without another snag but I had an extra ticket and I decided to search the ivy outside of the stadium as there was no penalty. Sure enough I went out there and one minute in, found ball number 4. This tied me with Ian but more importantly tied my single game record for most snags in a single game. That would be the only ball I found in the ivy, but it was well worth it.

 I then went into the ballpark again, and went by the bullpen to try for a toss up. Everything was going well but at the last possible second I missed out on the ball from starter Zach Duke as he threw it to a girl. My record attempting snag would have to wait.

 I spent the majority of the game with Ian and his cousin. My tickets were listed for the 300′s section, however two generous people gave me a ticket to section 139 and I played a couple of toss ups from over there. My closest call while there was in the fifth inning, when the ball was meant for me but a guy got his hand on it at the last second. I was not pleased as I wanted this record very badly.

 After a while and a Kent Tekulve autograph, Ian and his cousin left the ballpark and I aggressively tried for the “elusive” fifth ball of the day.

 My quest took me to the bullpen where Herbie Andrade was throwing a ball up to a kid who was having a little bit of trouble. I motioned for Herbie to throw it to me and soon after ball number 5 was in my glove. I made sure to give it to the kid and Herbie gave me a thumbs up. Luis Dorante (and his new beard) saw the whole process and tossed me ball number 6. I thanked them both and left to try and get the last Cutch toss up.

 The toss up was going to be in section 140 and I was stationed for it and it was a little to my right. I did make the catch however for ball number 7. I gave the ball away.

 As a quick side note, congrats to legendary ballhawk and my buddy Jim Saylor for catching his second home run of the season. He caught a Ryan Doumit home run. Long live the king!

 With my seven baseball performance that day, I had caught up to and passed Ian and also set a personal record. Because of the success of the day, I made a snap decision to attend the next day’s game. How would I do? You’ll have to read my next post.

 

 

Pirates vs Braves 5/22/10 PNC Park

 This game was an absolutely frustrating one. I went to this game with my best friend Colston, and we got pretty close to the front of the line.

 I called the Pirates and they said that BP would still be on but in line I noticed that that wasn’t the case. I went in and checked in with season tickets and entered the bleachers.

 Things were looking good early as despite no BP Kenshin Kawakami was warming up in the bullpen. With my red Under Armour on, it looked as if I would get on the board early. However, Erik came up and although I knew how to ask for the ball in Japanese, Erik ended up with the ball. However I had to act fast, and sure enough I ran over to the left field bleachers right by the bullpen and asked Bullpen Coach Eddie Perez for a ball.

 Perez then said that he had no baseball, but asked if I wanted the rosin bag, knowing that he was joking around, I played along and said sure. Perez then threw the bag halfway up and the dirt spread. We both laughed, and then he reached into the bag for ball number 1. After this, Erik, Colston and I went upstairs and tried to get more baseballs.

 With no one throwing, I decided to go for autographs and started out with an autograph from Cristhian Martinez.

 While waiting for them to throw, Jesse Chavez and Billy Wagner came out and started to sign. I made sure to thank Chavez and when Wagner signed I told him that if this was his final season than congratulations on a great career. Later on, I got a picture with Wagner, and this was the result.

 

  

 

  I was unable to get any of the warmup balls from the Braves and my next attempt at an autograph was all for not as Tommy Hanson ignored all of us.

 He threw a baseball with coach Alan Butts and Peter Moylan threw around with Eric O’Flaherty and then it started to rain and again I came up empty handed.

 I then went into the Hall of Fame Club and soon after back into my seat.

 Then came the long rain delay. This was a very good thing as Erik and Jim were nowhere to be seen and Nick was in Cleveland.

 When the game resumed, I had a clear advantage with trying to get an Andrew McCutchen toss up. Unfortunately I think he recognized me.

 Nate McLouth also tossed up baseballs but never threw it into my section.

 The bullpen was also crowded and we left around 11 and despite my clear advantage ended up with only one ball and three signatures. What a disappointment. I am unsure of when my next game is, but it is not until next month.

 

 

Pirates vs Brewers 5/20/10 PNC Park

 I went to this game with my friends Nick and Ryan. I got off to a slow start as public transportation screwed me. The bus took forever and thus I missed nearly all of the season ticket batting practice.

 When I did arrive, the Pirates had just finished BP and Charlie Morton and Ross Ohlendorf sined for somebody and left. Herbie Andrade was hitting pop ups to DJ Carrasco and when finished, popped the ball up to us. The ball landed and stayed on the warning track and because I had no glove trick gave up on the ball. At this point I was pissed as I probably could have snagged a couple of baseballs.

 The Brewers started throwing along the first base side and I tried to sneak over but there were people guarding the entries. I took off my Pirates BP jersey in favor of my white Under Armour shirt. I said my hellos to Nick, Erik and Jim of BHL/PNC Park fame before getting set.

 The Brewers then came over and they were hitting balls into the bleachers. Mitch Stetter was snagging in left field and threw a ball up to a Brewers fan. A ball soon came and bounced up off of the warning track. Jim missed it and I missed the return but the short run worked out in my favor for ball number 1 on the day. The Brewers put writings on some of the baseballs, and this one said “Wolfman”.

  I then left my friends to go out to centerfield. After a few minutes, I saw some foul balls, and thus went over to the first base side.

 I came down too late for one ball, and Trevor Hoffman threw one to a kid despite my manners. I eventually got Todd Coffey to throw me ball number 2. I then went over to the dugout to try and snag a baseball and came up empty handed.

 However, Ryan Braun came over to sign and although he would not sign on the “sweet spot” on any baseballs he signed mine.

 Soon after, Casey McGehee was on the first base side and I ran after him and failed. He then came into the dugout and pointed to you when he felt that it was your turn. He kept passing me up but eventually, he did sign for me.

 I then saw Hoffman signing and just missed him and despite asking nicely (again) did not get a baseball from him. Jeff Suppan then got a message that his church sister was there and he quickly talked to her. When he finished, he signed my baseball.

 After realizing that I missed both Coffey and potentially Prince Fielder, I went back to the dugout and got Manager Ken Macha to sign my baseball.

 That was all the action that I had before gametime.

 In the third inning, I went from my section 141 over to section 140 hoping to snag an Andrew McCutchen warmup ball. His throw was a little low but it was between Jim and I and I made a nifty catch for ball number 3 (and protected a few kids along the way). It was clear that Jim was having a rough day (don’t feel too bad for him; he snagged at least one ball).

 I then marched to the bullpen to snag another baseball and sure enough, lady luck was on my side as Herbie came out of the bullpen. After saying hi to him, I reminded him about the promise he made to me at Bowling With the Bucs and he quickly nodded and remembered. A few seconds later ball number 4 was in my glove. This ball broke my previous snagging high.

 My snagging totals took a little bit of a hit when Bowling With the Bucs friend Jack Taschner was officially placed on the 15 day DL. This could cost me some snags later on in the season.

 I did try to sneak into left field but Joel Hanrahan threw the ball elsewhere ending my day with four baseballs and four signatures.

 I decided to leave early as I was exhausted, and did so. My next game would be on Saturday against the Braves. I am hoping that Jason Heyward will add to my collection

Pirates vs. Cardinals 5/9/10 PNC Park

 I went to this game with my father largely because this was the day where first-time season ticket holders like myself were invited to the Pirates Deck for food, fun and season ticket benefit info.

 At the event, Ross Ohlendorf joined us signing something. I was surprised to see Ohlendorf there, as he was pitching the next night, but it was a nice touch since he was still technically on the disabled list. We had a nice brief discussion during which he signed the Pirates program I had received at the gates. I then went on to enjoy the best ballpark hamburger I have ever had and the snickerdoodle cookie was heavenly. After a discussion with Frank Coonelly, I was off to my seats.

 I left the deck and headed towards the bullpen where I ran into Nick. Nick and I talked and after the Cardinals didn’t toss either of us a ball, we parted ways.

 I also went over to section 141, my season ticket holder section, and said hi to Jim. I also talked to the usher as he told me that he would let me into his section later.

 My tickets were in section 127, and although closer to the action than section 141, I was in the middle of scenic nowhere. I had no shot at a third out toss up or an umpire ball and I quickly got a headache and this one teenager would not shut up. It looked like I was going to get shutout.

 With the shutout being a near formality, I decided that it would be a great time to leave my seat. It was the fourth inning and I figured I could make it to the Riverwalk in time for the Pirates Quiz. The quiz would provide a great distraction and allow me to set up shop in section 141 for a Cutch toss up.

 I made the Riverwalk in record time and the quiz would not begin for another two outs. I then got the usher’s attention and he told me to wait a minute. He then let me into the section placing me next to Jim. Jim and I soon talked and he told me that Cutch knows his face and thus would move to a different section so that I would have a chance at the ball.

 I would have some stiff competition, because at that point Nick joined us. Also as mentioned on Nick’s blog, I wasn’t helped by the fact that seven kids were in the section as well.

 Sure enough the quiz and the kids worked in my favor. Cutch saw myself and the kids and threw it in our section. It would be a jump ball and honestly, it did not look good for me. I paid very close attention to the ball and then waited until I felt it was time to leap. The ball landed square in the top of my glove and then I came down with it. It was my first and only ball of the day. I immediately thanked Jim and the usher telling them when I would next see them and left.

 It was especially great to make the snag, as neither Jim nor Nick had ever seen me snag a ball before so it was great for me to prove to them that I was for real.

 The game was a blowout with the Pirates losing so my dad and I left in the sixth inning.

 Later on that night was Bowling With the Bucs, a charity bowling event chaired by Zach Duke and that will be the focus of my next post. Who will I be paired up with and what fun will occur? You will have to read my next post to find out.

 

Pirates vs. Cardinals 5/8/10 PNC Park

 

            Today was going to be a historic day, and I could feel and sense it. I went with my friend Colston, and I decided that I had to show up on time to take in the full portion of season ticket holder batting practice.

            When I arrived, I saw a few people ahead of me and also saw Erik, Jim and Nick. It was Nick who broke me the bad news that there would be no batting cages set up. Nick then told me he wasn’t going to stay, and I never saw him all night. The weather was absolutely atrocious and naturally I had to come up with a plan B for making that historic snag.

            Once inside the park, I began to strategize. I did briefly talk to Jim and noticed that Erik was not with him. I saw him on the third base side and was surprised to see him there as no one is ever allowed there, however I didn’t care and thus prepared to go over there.

            I did sneak over there and getting into the section wasn’t difficult. Erik left when I came which meant that he had another snag under his belt. I decided to stay over there and was naturally rewarded when Ross Ohlendorf came by. There were a good 6 people with me and Ohlendorf signed for all of them. I realized that I had a pen, but nothing to sign so I managed to wish him well for his start which was to be on Monday.

However, the light bulb finally came on in my head and I asked Ross for a ball. Ross kindly obliged and tossed me the ball. Of course, once he tossed it the wind picked up and I reached over to make a tough catch my first snag of the day. I made sure to thank Ross, and I was especially grateful when someone else asked him for the other ball and Ross told him no because he probably wasn’t supposed to give them away. It then hit me that this ball was the ball that allowed me to break my record from last year. I was glad to get the snag out of my way and move on with my life.

            I went back to Colston as well as Jim and the guys for a little while until I noticed some St. Louis Cardinals pitchers throwing along the first base side. I again managed to sneak off and go towards the first baseline.

            As I was running there, a Cardinal was signing autographs and of course I just missed him. Apparently the Cardinal was Blake Hawksworth but with my main objective getting baseballs, my priorities slightly changed.

            When I went over I noticed the two Cardinals were Jason Motte and Ryan Franklin. I tried to be extremely cautious as the Cardinals always are stingy during batting practice and never throw the ball to fans at PNC Park. When Motte and Franklin threw the ball, relievers Dennys Reyes and Trevor Miller joined in a separate session. It was at this point when Erik sporting a Troy Glaus jersey came down and watched the Reyes and Miller session. Erik eventually snagged a ball asked Reyes for it in Spanish.

            Motte and Franklin each had a ball and I thought I had a great chance at a ball until they tried to throw it across the tarp to see who could throw it farther.

            Reyes began a small autograph session and I quickly got him to sign my baseball.

            Franklin then talked with somebody and unlike last year when he ignored me, he asked me if he could sign my ball and I happily let him.

            It was at this point when I was ready to head back to Colston, when I saw Motte in the dugout. He had a couple of balls and I asked him for one and he quickly threw me ball number 2.

            I then headed back to Colston and after a while, noticed more Cardinals pitching. I had guessed from afar that it was Adam Wainwright and I saw Erik over there as the only one to get the ball from him. I tried to sneak away but they finally had a guard blocking the escalators and stairs meaning I was stuck in left field and Erik was going to get another ball.

            I patiently waited until the gates opened, and there was a big line waiting. Naturally, I wanted to get over to Wainwright and it looked like I would, but of course everybody took their grand old time up the steps meaning Erik got the ball.

            Wainwright was then interviewed by some St. Louis press as he was the starter for the next day’s game. I joined the masses along the first base line positioning myself behind a kid, thus increasing my chances of getting his signature.

            After shaking hands with the press, Wainwright passed through the first baseline not signing one autograph. While everyone else groaned, I saw this as an opportunity to sneak away towards the dugout and get his attention.

            I raced towards the dugout and just beat him. I got his attention, and he asked for the ball and sure enough signed it. I was ecstatic and became elated when the slow crowd at first base finally had come over only to see Wainwright leave, meaning I had the only Wainwright autograph. I felt great.

            By the way, there still was a game that was going on, and I was excited to see it. The game itself was very cold, and by the sixth inning I was officially freezing.

            Still, the show must go on, and I tried for additional baseballs. After adding an autograph from Manny Sanguillen on my game program I marched towards the bullpen only to be turned down once again by Herbie Andrade.

            Andrew McCutchen played the entire game in center field and his warm-up balls were disappointments as nothing came my way, while Erik made another snag.

            The Pirates won the game and I had come away with a nice haul of 2 balls and 4 autographs. Most importantly, I ensured a higher snagging total than last year’s campaign when I caught the throw from Ross Ohlendorf. I did go to the Sunday game against St. Louis. How did I do? You’ll have to read my next post to find out.

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