The Brewers were finally back in town after an 11-day absence. I had made a spontaneous trip to Wrigley Field on April 21st because I was baseball starved.
But, the BrewCrew were back and I was ready.
The day began when I met NYC ballhawk extraordinaire Zack Hample at the Milwaukee Amtrak train station. Zack was coming in from Chicago and was going to be my guest for a night.
After taking Zack on the not-so-scenic tour of Milwaukee, we headed to the ballpark.
There she is off in the distance from Interstate 94…
I take this sight in, I feel a void. I miss Milwaukee County Stadium.
While Miller Park is nice, I miss the simplicity of the old park. I
miss the GA bleacher sections.
I miss rain delays. I miss a 1/2 empty stadium on the weekend.
(Milwaukee County Stadium once stood just to the right of Miller Park from this view)
Zack and I stopped for a photo together…
…we’ve known each other about 3 weeks and got along great from the start.
brick inlay with the bronze plate (in the asphalt) signifies the
approximate spot where Hank Aaron’s last career home run (#755) landed
back on July 20, 1976. The ball was hit off Dick Drago down the left
field line at Milwaukee County Stadium, landing in the lower grandstand
seating area. After County Stadium was demolished, this tribute was
put in place years later.
A little league field called “Helfaer
Field” (shown above) was constructed on the old site of County
Stadium. In the photo, the view looks toward home plate. The home
plate of the little league field is in the approximate spot where home
plate was at Milwaukee County Stadium.
The 1st thing I noticed was a potential glove trick opportunity in the left field moat.
So, naturally, I went to work on it.
I decided to give Zack a little space on the lower patio. So, I headed out to the upper patio.
Not long after I arrived, Brewers CF MIKE CAMERON hit a bomb that I gloved on the fly for BASEBALL #3.
Brewers pitcher MARK DIFELICE tossed me BASEBALL #4 about 3 minutes later.
When I looked at the ball, I discovered it had some character to it.
Sometimes, you have to bend the rules.
The Pirates were now on the field taking BP. I had moved to right field for Adam LaRoche bombs. I spotted Pirates relief pitcher EVAN MEEK shagging some BP directly in front of me. I called out his full name and he turned and fired BASEBALL #8 right to me. I think he was just happy someone knew his name without simply reading the back of his jersey. The fact that I was decked out in Pirates gear certainly did not hurt, either.
A few minutes later, BASEBALL #9 came courtesy of Pirates pitcher PAUL MAHOLM. I gave it directly to a kid that was standing next to me.
BASEBALL #10 was crushed by ADAM LAROCHE that I snagged on the bounce up in the right field loge bleachers.
Pirates pitcher SEAN BURNETT (very willing to toss baseballs into the stands) soon fired me BASEBALL #11 when asked to do so.
I was rolling…and not finished.
Baseball #11 had just tied my personal 1 day snagging record. I’d snagged 11 in one game a handful of times, but could never get that elusive #12…until today.
My personal best came courtesy of Pirates pitcher PAUL MAHOLM. Yeah, that’s right…a 2nd time! Turns out he had seen me give the young fella #9 a few minutes earlier and decided I should have one of my own.
I moved over to right center field because I had gotten toss-up baseballs from most of the players standing in right field.
Pirates reliever ROSS OHLENDORF tossed me BASEBALL #13 about 5 minutes after my arrival. He was a really cool guy. Very friendly and extremely willing to give some souvenirs.
It was about 6:10 and I already had 13 baseballs. There was still 15 minutes left to BP!
Before the day had started, I made it my personal goal to break Zac
k Hample’s single-day Milwaukee record of 17. I told him I couldn’t have a New Yorker holding a Milwaukee record. All in good fun, of course.
I was well on my way until the Pirates flat out stopped hitting the ball with any authority.
BP ended and I was still stuck on 13 baseballs.
Thirty minutes before game time, I decided to go down to the Pirates dugout. When I arrived, I met up with Zack and another Milwaukee ballhawk named Shawn. Shawn has what it takes to be a good ballhawk. He’s a charter member of our BALLHAWK LEAGUE and has his own blog. Check it out here.
It was now gametime and I was still in that 3rd row seat above the Pirates dugout.
I figured what the hell? Might as well stay. So, I did…for the entire game!
Before the start of the bottom of the 6th, Pirates 1B coach PERRY HILL tossed me BASEBALL #14.
In the bottom of the 7th inning, Brewers SS J.J. Hardy struck out swinging for the final out. Pirates catcher and Wisconsin native JASON JARAMILLO jogged toward the dugout. I went down to the front row and held up my glove. Jason underhanded it to me for BASEBALL #15.
I ended my day with a new personal best of 15 baseballs snagged. While 18 was my goal, I was thrilled to crack double digits for the 4th time on this young season.
Zack’s Milwaukee record lives to see another day.
SPECIAL THANKS TO ZACK HAMPLE FOR PROVIDING ME A FEW PHOTOS FOR THIS BLOG ENTRY.
2009 BALLHAWKING STATS
- 15 total balls 4/27/09
4 batted balls (1 caught 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
4/11/09 = 5 baseballs
4/12/09 = 5 baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6 baseballs
4/21/09 = 5 baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
75 baseballs (10 games)
7.5 average per game