I was back home on familiar turf. I had arrived home from Toronto in the wee hours of the morning on Friday and grabbed a couple hours sleep. It was now time to prepare for our home opener. An obnoxious, beer spilling, cussing, Scrub fan riddled, sewer hole sellout we call Opening Day. It’s always this way every year, but, this time we were opening our home schedule against the hated rivals to the south. It pains me to even mention them by proper name. Many people come just for the party. That’s fine-just don’t get in my way.
By the time I carved my way through the traffic jam and grabbed a parking spot, I was running a bit behind. The gates to the stadium were to open at 105 pm for the 305pm game. I usually never pay for parking, but this was opening day…I had to park in the lot.
I sprinted all the way from the back general parking lot to the stadium (approx. 1 mile). After I had my ticket scanned, I bolted to the bleacher area.
The Brewers were not even hitting (they must all be accomplished hitters in no need of practice). The Cubs were out stretching. Okay. I ran all the way from the back lot to watch 20 minutes of muscle stretching. Great. The exercise was good.
The Cubs finally made themselves worthwhile as the bats began to swing. After unsuccessfully trying to get a toss-up ball during pitcher’s warm-ups, I headed over to right field. Fukudome, Lee and Bradley were hitting.
I made it over to the loge bleachers (200 level) in right field just in time for KOSUKE FUKUDOME to jack one in my direction. I ran to my left through an entire section. I was in the 3rd row. I never took my eye off the ball. I made the catch on the fly leaning over one of the aisle railings for BASEBALL #1. My first catch on the fly this season. A guy standing in the front row looked at me and said, “okay, okay.” As if to say, ‘Boy, if I want a baseball, I’ll have to step up my game with him around.’
I had spent three days in Toronto and snagged 25 baseballs and not one of them had been on the fly. I couldn’t recall the last time I had gone anywhere without snagging at least one on the fly during a series. It was nice to get that one out of the way. As much as I despise Miller Park’s ballhawking situation, it was kinda nice to be back home.
The next group to hit was Ramirez, Soriano, Theriot and Fontenot.
I re-positioned myself down to the field level (100 level) for Soriano. If you’re ever snagging at a Cubs game, position yourself in deep centerfield off-set to the right field side. Soriano takes BP balls in that direction. I was in perfect position to snag an ALFONSO SORIANO BP ball on the fly for BASEBALL #2. I leaned out over the railing and made a clean catch with not much competition.
Here’s a look at the 15 foot drop over the railing where I snagged the Soriano BP homer…
It pays to do your homework.
The last Cubs group took their turns in the cage. I figured lower level bleachers would be the place to be since the group was a bit on the light-side, hitting-wise.
Cubs catcher KOYIE HILL was pulling everything down the right field line so, I inched toward the foul pole. He finally hit one that had some air under it. I ran to my left and made the grab on the fly for BASEBALL #3.
After BP ended, a group of guys approached me and asked me if I was the guy who made “the catch” at that Spring Training game in Arizona. I told them that I was. Since they had seen me snag 3 on the fly at various spots in the stadium that day, they asked me how I know where to be. I told them I do my homework.
It then occurred to me that I had snagged a baseball on the fly in 3 of the 4 bleacher sections of Miller Park. I couldn’t recall the last time I had accomplished that.
The CITGO gas pump located in right-center field…
If you’re ever at a Brewers game, stop by the gas pump and say “hello.” Chances are good that I will be at the game. Just look for the yellow shirt.
In the 3rd inning, Brewers RF Corey Hart jacked one that was coming to my section. I ran over to my left, camped underneath it…OH NO!! I had run out of room. My back was against this gigantic stupid railing that separates my seats from a big dumb gimmicky section behind us that the Brewers call “Toyota Tundra Territory.” It’s just another promotional area of the stadium that puts us one step closer to looking like a minor league stadium.
Just my opinion.
In the 9th inning, the Brewers were down 3-2. So, I snuck down to the Cubs dugout for a last out ball or an ump ball. Whaddya know, the Brewers scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to win the game. The crowd went nuts, the Cubs players left dejected and the umps left the field not even able to hear themselves. They certainly couldn’t hear me yelling for their attention.
There would be no more baseballs retrieved by this ballhawk on this day.
Our walk to the parking lots…
Miller Park is not a good stadium for ballhawking…trust me. With it’s crammed layout, high attendance and gimmicky promotional areas, moving around to snag baseballs is very difficult.
2009 BALLHAWKING STATS
- 3 total balls 4/10/09
3 balls hit (all snagged on fly)
2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS
4/7/09 = 5 baseballs
4/8/09 = 10 baseballs
4/9/09 = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3 baseballs
28 baseballs (4 games)
7.0 average per game