Tagged: ballhawk

Wall Street Journal article

A few months back, David Biderman from the Wall Street Journal e-mailed me about doing a ballhawk-related article.

Here it is…

Wall Street Journal 7_7_09.jpg
wall_street_journal2d.jpg

I thought it was a bit sneaky to quote Chris Coghlan, “he told me he goes around a lot and catches these balls and holds them for ransom” only to leave out the last (and most important) part of that original quote.  “While he didn’t say that he does, it seems that way.”

The piece made all ballhawks look like greedy bloodsuckers.  Not true.
But, I have to admit:  being in the WSJ is still pretty cool.

Zack Hample (in red shade) and a few other ballhawks got mentions as well.

Photos courtesy of Zack Hample

7/07/09 @ Miller Park

Do you remember when I went to Toronto during Opening Week of the season and the Detroit Tigers were using International League baseballs

More on this later…

My last game was on 6/30/09.  A whole week without games.
 
The baseball portion of my day started with the usual walk…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg

…with the arrows pointing to two popular Brewers bars located on W. Bluemound Rd.

Long Wong’s Chinese-American Sports Bar and Kelly’s Bleachers.

If
you’re ever visiting Milwaukee and want a great place to hang out
before, during or after ballgames, you have to check out these two
great establishments.
(No, I’m not on either places payroll).

My walk continued to the corner of W. Bluemound/General Mitchell Blvd…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

…along Mitchell Blvd. Park.

Eventually…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg

…down the little pathway.

In the picture above, do you see what the red arrow is highlighting?
That’s a section of Miller Park’s roof peaking through an opening in the trees.

Further down the pathway…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpg

…that parallels Interstate 94.

Finally, putting me into the NORTH General parking lot…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg…with the red arrow pointing to the Miller sign peaking above the trees down in the valley at Miller Brewing Company.

Finally, I had arrived.

When
I entered the stadium, Prince Fielder was hitting.  So, I took a little
stroll over to right field to see what he could do.  It didn’t take him
long to hit a bomb that probably traveled in excess of 450 feet.  I
retrieved that baseball after it bounced around a bit. 

I
waited patiently for more Fielder bombs but they didn’t come.  Earlier,
it was announced that Fielder would be participating in the 2009 Home
Run Derby down in St. Louis.  I thought he would be putting on a home
run clinic to tune-up for the event.  I was wrong.  Not due to a lack
of effort; he was trying, but most of his contact sent the balls on a
line.

I wandered over to left field to try my luck with Ryan
Braun. 
After about 5 minutes, “Brauny” sent one into the left field
bleachers that I retrieved on the bounce, as well.

Thumbnail image for 7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 023.jpg
Remember how the Brewers write funny sayings/words on a large percentage of their BP balls??

Well, this particular ball had “KEEP ON SMILING” written on the sweetspot.

That ball was meant for me.

Near the end
of batting practice, I noticed an unusual amount of players’ kids
gathered on the warning track out in left-center field.

I noticed, but thought nothing of it. 
Until
I heard a baseball hit the bleachers and make a BANG! about 15 feet
from me.  I looked around and did not know where that ball came from. 
I looked up.  I looked right and left.  WTF?!!
I soon realized that a few of the players’ kids were tossing baseballs into the stands out of one of the ballbags.

So, I got in on the action. 
All together, approx. 10 of these baseballs were tossed up.

Here’s the one (1) that I snagged…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 022.jpg

Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be an OFFICIAL LEAGUE ball.  Huh??

I looked closer and noticed the ball had a logo on it.  Yeah!
The BIGS2 video game. 

I do not play video games. 
Heck, I barely have enough time to blog. 
But, this was pretty cool. 

Am I counting it toward my season stats? 
Damn right.

Here’s why:
1).  The ball was obtained at an officially sanctioned MLB event.
2).  I did not purchase the ball.
3).  I was the 1st fan to obtain possession of the ball.
4).  The ball was not obtained through an announced stadium promotion (it’s not like the 1st 15,000 fans received one).
5).  It wasn’t just an official league ball.  It had a cool logo on it!
6).  I skinned my knee snagging it, dammit!

The Brewers left the field.  The Cardinals came out.

I don’t know what’s been going on around Miller Park, lately.  But, balls being hit into the stands are starting to become a bit of a rarity.  Opposing teams have not been hitting many during BP over the last few weeks.  Makes ballhawking a bit tough, don’t ya’ think?

Not to mention, I’ve never been a big fan of begging for baseballs, either.  I’ve adopted that tactic this season, largely, because of the ballhawk league.

As the Cardinals hitters did their best to avoid any baseball reaching the seats, my frustration grew.
Actually, during this BP, I counted 7 baseballs that were hit down the left field line.  All playable for those standing in the front row.  Just simply lean over.

Wanna guess how many baseballs made it into the bleachers at this point?
Three.

I didn’t get my next baseball until Cardinals reliever JOSH KINNEY Thumbnail image for josh kinney.jpgand his sweet fu manchu mustache tossed me one over in right field.

Regretfully, I didn’t take his picture.
But, as you can see by the artistic demonstration to the right, Mr. Kinney’s mustache was, indeed, a sweet one.

The next group of Cardinals hitters contained both Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick.

I sprinted over to left field as if my pants were on fire. 
Rumor has it, those two put on a homer display back on Memorial Day.

They both combined to hit approx. 4 into the bleachers.  Ooooh.
Major disappointment. 

What was even more disappointing??
The fact that I lost one of Pujols’ bombs in the sun.  The sun is brutal around 6pm at Miller Park during the summer.  Absolutely brutal.   
I saw the ball go up.  I fluently made my way through the swarms of clueless people.  I picked the exact spot it was going to land.  I looked back up to the sky and was blinded.
All I could do was cringe like a scared schoolgirl on prom night. 
Shakin’ naked in the fetal.
The ball ended up landing about 6 feet away from me. 

Of course, nobody else tracked it.  Of course, everyone else heckled.

BP ended and I had snagged 4 baseballs.  Not the best showing.
But, I always say, if they don’t hit ’em or throw ’em, can’t snag ’em.

Time to wander.
I was looking to waste some time.

That’s when I ran into this big fella…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg
…Adam “Big” Rygg. 

The “Big Rygg” has his own Brewers blog in this network. 
It’s called THE BREWER NATION and it’s a well-written/well-informed blog about the Brew Crew.  Did I mention that Adam also works for the Brewers??

He’s a great fan of the Brewers and a good guy.  So, go check out his blog.  Do it-do it now.

I stopped, grabbed a couple hot dogs (relish, please) and made the trek back to my seat.

The 1st few innings were weird.
Allow me to explain:
1).  Cards infielder Skip Schumaker was thrown out at 2nd base attempting to tag up from 1st.  The fly ball was not deep and the throw utilized the cut-off man.  What??

2).  The Brewers had the bases loaded and Mike Cameron was hit with a ground ball trying to advance to 3rd base.  Baserunner is out.  ???

3).  Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum was ejected from the dugout for arguing balls and strikes (Home Plate umpire Bill Hohn had a rough night-more on him later).  The weird part was that he didn’t come out to get his money’s worth. ???

4).  Brewers bench coach Willie Randolph was then ejected for the same reason in the top 1/2 of the inning.  ??

Some things you don’t see everyday.

One thing you do see from time-to-time:
The yellow-shirted fan snagging a home run ball.

Okay, it wasn’t a glamorous snag.  But, I’ll tell you anyway.

Do you recall my not-so-glamorous snag of Cardinals phenom COLBY RASMUS’ 5th career homer which just so happened to be my 50th career game home run?
If not, click here.

Do you also remember me saying how Brewers RF Corey Hart has hooked me up time after time over the years??
If not, click here and here.

Well, Corey was at it again.

It was the top of the 5th inning.  No outs.
Cardinals stud COLBY RASMUS jacked one that left the yard, striking an advertisement sign positioned at the front of the loge bleachers.  The ball ricocheted down to the field and rolled to Brewers RF Corey Hart.  Corey attempted to lob it into the visitor’s bullpen to the Cards relievers.  The problem good thing was that it fell short and merely bounced off the outfield wall.  The ball rolled on the warning track where it came to a rest closer to my location.
This time, though, Corey looked up to my section and lobbed it up.  Immediately, I realized it
would be over my head.  So, I jockeyed for position while backing up.  At the last possible moment, I jumped straight up with my glove stretched as high as I could.  I felt the ball hit the pocket as I came down in a small crowd of people.

Career game home run #51. 

Like I said-not glamorous, but I’ll take it.

The Colby Rasmus game home run snagged
 on 5/26/09…                                             AND           the one snagged 7/07/09…
Thumbnail image for 7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 021.jpgThumbnail image for 5_26_09 Cardinals vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg

                 Career HR #5                             AND                      Career HR #11

macha arguing with hohn.jpgToward the end of the game, I made my way down to the umpire well
located near the visitor’s dugout.  Fresh off two coach ejections and a
horribly called game, Home Plate umpire BILL HOHN flipped me a game
ball from the pouch to make it 6 baseballs on the day.

I think 2009 might be the year of the mustache.  (Giambi-look what you started!)

The 6 baseballs snagged on this day…
7_07_09 Cardinals vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 020.jpg

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 6 total balls 7/07/09

2 batted baseballs

4 toss-up baseballs

(1 game home run-Colby Rasmus career #11)


ATTENDANCE: 
36,557

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
___________________

231 baseballs (37 games)
6.24 average per game

6/29/09 @ Miller Park

A Mets team without the likes of these guys…
carlos beltran.jpg
carlos delgado.jpg

Thumbnail image for jose reyes.jpg
…Beltran, Delgado and Reyes.

How exciting can this blog possibly be? 
I feel cheated by the injury Gods of Major League Baseball.

All lefties-all with power.  Do I need to remind you that I sit in right field? 
A perfect spot to snag baseballs from players like these.

What did I get instead?

These sluggers…
daniel murphy.jpg
argenis reyes.jpg

alex cora.jpg
Daniel Murphy, Argenis Reyes and Alex Cora.

Wow. 
Better pay attention during Batting Practice with those future Hall of Famers at the plate.

BALL #1 came from Mets catcher OMIR SANTOS. 
He was shagging BP out in deep centerfield.  I noticed there was a commemorative ball lying on the warning track.  The logo looked too big to be a Citi Field commemorative, but it was worth a shot.  I asked Santos for the ball but he tossed it in.  After he threw it in, he looked up to me.  I told him I was looking for a commemorative ball with the logo.  He almost acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about.  ??  Just in case, I went into further detail about what I was looking for.

After our discussion, every ball that came his way was further inspected.  If there wasn’t a logo on the ball, he would toss it in. 

Finally, after about 5 minutes, he fielded one.  I could see a commemorative logo where the MLB logo was supposed to be.  He looked up to me and tossed it up.

Turns out, it was a Shea Stadium commemorative from last season.
No biggie.  The effort he displayed was appreciated. 

QUESTION:  How many big leaguers would do what Omir Santos did?
ANSWER:  Not many.

I think I have a new favorite Mets player.

BALL #2 came via tossup from BOBBY PARNELL.
bobby parnell.jpgBobby tossed it a bit short.  While it was in the air, I heard Bobby say, “you got it??!!”  As I leaned out over the fence and made the grab.

tim redding.jpg 

BALL #3 came from Mets pitcher TIM REDDING. 
I wasn’t sure if he had seen me get a ball from either Santos or Parnell.   But, I asked him for a baseball anyway.  He turned around and said, “how many do you have?” 

I answered him and he still tossed it up to me. 

That was it. 
3 baseballs.

The Mets absolutely put everyone to sleep.  It was one of the worst displays of BP power I had ever seen.  I can only imagine the possibilities if the three big guns weren’t on the disabled list. 

I pride myself on snagging batted baseballs.  It wasn’t possible on this day.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 3 total balls 6/29/09

3 toss-up baseballs


ATTENDANCE: 
39,872

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
___________________

220 baseballs (35 games)
6.29 average per game

BASEBALLS SNAGGED BY MONTH:

APRIL:  88 baseballs in 12 games (1 game home run ball)
MAY:    76 baseballs in 12 games (2 game home run balls)
  

6/27/09 @ Miller Park

When I pulled into the parking lot and into my stall, this vehicle was parked next to me…
6_27_09 Giants vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg
…a Pilsner Urquell Czech Republic beer truck/van.

Seeing I’m of Czech ancestry, I got to thinking.

Was this a greater power telling me it was about to be a good day??
OR
Was it telling me to just forget ballhawking for the day and have a few cold ones??
OR
Did it mean nothing at all??

My 1st BALL of the day came from an unsuspecting source.

Know this little guy??
6_27_09 Giants vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg

That’s Mekhi Cameron.  The youngest son of Brewers CF Mike Cameron.

Cam’s two boys can be seen shagging baseballs during BP a few times a week. 
This little dude happened to be in the Brewers bullpen collecting the balls that had landed in there.  I happened to be standing in the loge bleachers (2nd level) when he was below me.  He tried a few times to toss it up before connecting.  The 1st toss actually went way over my head and back onto the field.  The 2nd toss fell short.  The 3rd toss was juuuuust right.
You could tell the little fella was having a blast doing it. 

I started to think how cool it would be if I could snag a ball actually hit by Mike Cameron.  I wonder how many times a ballhawk has done this?? 
Getting a ball from both father and son the same day.  I’m sure it would be easier to get toss-ups from both father and son, but a toss-up and a batted ball? 

I gave it everything I had.  It just wasn’t meant to be.  Big “Cam” only hit 1 baseball into the bleachers and it was quite a ways from me.

I always say, a ballhawk is only as good as the players hitting or tossing them. 
If they don’t hit-there’s no baseballs to snag.
If they don’t toss them up-there’s no baseballs to snag.

The Giants were now on the field.

I moved to right field after watching Pablo Sandoval’s hitting display the night before.

In the process, I snagged BALL #2 off the bat of TRAVIS ISHIKAWA.  It was retrieved on the bounce after hitting in the 5th row and bouncing up another 10 rows.

For the record, Sandoval’s bat was quiet during BP.

The Giants are a very light-hitting team.  If it wasn’t for their stellar pitching, they would be the most boring team in the league (that distinction goes to the Pirates).

I was growing frustrated with the lack of long balls.  By this time, I was back in left field.

brandon medders.jpg

A small group of Giants pitchers were horsing around in left field.  Among them, was this guy————————————————>
Giants pitcher BRANDON MEDDERS.

I called down to him and he looked up and behind without turning around.  He had a ball in his glove and underhanded it backwards high into the air.  When it had finally reached it’s highest point and started its descent, it now became a jump ball.  BALL #3-chalk it up.

Much to my dislike, BP ended without any further events. 

It was time to wander.

I passed this location of the stadium…
6_27_09 Giants vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg

…out in left-center field.

It’s the camera platform located just to the left field side of the batter’s eye.
I know it doesn’t look like much, but something told me to take a closer look.

So, I walked up to the gate…
6_27_09 Giants vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg

…and opened it up (it’s not locked or restricted).

I pushed the black fabric screen to the side and peered in…
6_27_09 Giants vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg

…there was a ball lying in there!

“X” marks the spot where BALL #4 was lying.  An easter egg at its very best!

During the game, I once again played the 2nd level below the press box for foul balls. 
Once again, I had no luck.

The section where I have season tickets had good luck, though. 
Giants stud Pablo Sandoval hit two (2) home runs into the section on this evening.

I need a “Happy” clone so I can be in two places at once.

Final score:
Brewers 7
Giants 6

After the game ended, I tried to get an ump ball from Home Plate Umpire Joe West.
I think I’d have better luck getting a ball that fell from the heavens. 

Joe West is a grumpy old man. 
I’ll say no more.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 4 total balls 6/27/09

2 batted baseballs

2 toss-up baseballs


ATTENDANCE: 
42,065

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

217 baseballs (34 games)
6.38 average per game

FINALLY,

I would like my readers to meet the MOST diehard and dedicated Brewers fan on this planet.
His name is Robert-but not to you and me.

He’s known around Miller Park as “The Maniac.”

“The Maniac” has been going to games longer than I can remember.  His devotion to the Brew Crew is unmatched.

One awesome dude…
6_27_09 Giants vs. Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg
…who attends pretty much every single home game.

If you see him, give him a shout-out for me!

6/09/09 @ Miller Park

On my walk to the stadium, I couldn’t help but notice the roof was closed.

Take a look…

 


6_09_09 @ Miller Park 002.jpg…I didn’t think there was rain in the forecast. 
Was this a feeble attempt by the Brewers to cool off the red-hot Colorado Rockies??

 

The Rockies had just swept away the Redbirds in St. Louis during their 4-game series.  No easy task.

 

I arrived at the Beer Garden entrance around 5:26 pm.  The gates were set to open in 4 minutes (there’s rarely ever a wait in this area for those who don’t like lines).

 

When the gates opened, I ran up to the left-field loge bleachers.  The last pitches of the Brewers portion of BP were being tossed.

 

Bring out the Rockies.

 

I headed down to the field level down the 3rd base side to play for a warm-up ball from one of the pitchers.

 

Veteran lefty ALAN EMBREE finished his tosses and started scanning the crowd.  He had two baseballs in his glove.  One went to a fan to my left and the 2nd one was tossed to me- BALL #1.  Which, smelled like ICY HOT.

 

I headed back up to the left field loge bleachers.

 

None too many baseballs were being hit into the stands, so, I resorted to asking for them.

 

Rockies pitcher JOEL PERALTA was shagging BP in deep left-centerfield.  I waited for the appropriate moment (when a ball was hit to the wall) and said his name, followed by the polite request.

He turned and lobbed up BALL #2.

 

I headed to right field.

 

While I was in right field, the big lefties (Helton, Hawpe, Stewart) were jacking home runs all over the place…except where I was.

 

I resorted back to asking. 

Rockies speedy youngster DEXTER FOWLER fielded one near me and tossed it up for BALL #3.

 

Soon after, Rockies Bullpen Coach JIM WRIGHT tossed me BALL #4.

 

When BP was over, I headed over to the Rockies dugout.

When I got there, Rockies stud Ubaldo Jiminez was signing autographs…

6_09_09 @ Miller Park 014.jpg

 

 

 

 

Crappy looking autograph by a great young player.

 

I’m not complaining.

 

 

 

 

A minute later, I looked over to my right.  Rockies OF Ryan Spillborghs was signing autographs.

The signature…

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 6_09_09 @ Miller Park 015.jpg

…funny story.

Here’s the exchange between Spillborghs and I…

 

ME:  “Hey Ryan, how ya doing?”

RYAN:  no response

ME:  “Thanks for the signature.”

RYAN:  no response

 

I thought nothing of it-until he looked like he wanted to say something to me.  Finally, he spit out what was on his mind.

In a smug tone, Spillborghs said, “so, how many balls you get?”

I responded, “ahh, you were paying attention.”  I told him I had snagged only 4 baseballs.
Laughing, of course.

 

I decided to hang around the Rockies dugout for awhile…
tv chick with perky boobies.jpg

…not because I was interested in the Cardinals/Marlins score nor was it because I like cowboy hats.

 

On to the game.

A special person was in attendance this evening.  In the 3rd inning, I headed for a visit…
6_09_09 @ Miller Park 007.jpg

…with my Uncle Marvin (on left) and his friend Russ.

Uncle “Mar” is a great fan of the game.  In fact, Mar has made quite the name for himself throughout the state of Wisconsin for his contributions over the last 50+ years to Little Leagues in the Pittsville/Marshfield area.

Mar was awarded a lifetime achievement award honoring those 50 years of dedicated service.
I’m proud of you, Uncle Mar!

 

Two more special attendees are pictured with me below…
6_09_09 @ Miller Park 009.jpg

…(from left to right) Brian, Jamie and I.

I met Brian for the 1st time.  Brian created one of the most popular Brewers fan sites around.
BREWERFAN.NET

If you’re a Brewers fan, you have to check out this site.

The man in the middle, BrewerJamie, assists with the operations of Brewerfan.net.  Jamie is a close and personal friend of mine. 

Both true diehard Brewers fans.

 

Finals…
6_09_09 @ Miller Park 013.jpg

                                                         …4 baseballs
        (3 are shown-1 was given to BrewerJamie to give to his 5 yr. old daughter Rachel).

 

 

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • total balls 6/09/09

 

4 toss-up balls


ATTENDANCE:  32,464

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
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

178 baseballs (27 games)
6.59 average per game

 

 

 

 

4/21/09 @ Wrigley Field

Since the Brewers had been on the road all week, I was
baseball-starved and in desperate need of some ballhawking action. 
After gaining the blessing of my lovely and understanding wife, I found
myself on a train to Chicago at 1pm.

After a 1 1/2 hr. train ride, I was in downtown Chicago.  I hoofed it
about 9 blocks to the RedLine subway and jumped on another train that
dropped me off at the front door step of Wrigley Field.

Here was my view as I popped out of the ADDISON ST. station…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 001.jpgThis is the southeast corner of the stadium at the intersection of SHEFFIELD AVE. and ADDISON ST.

Here’s a look down SHEFFIELD AVE…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 002.jpgThe centerfield scoreboard at Wrigley is purely nostalgic.  New stadiums are great, but Wrigley has that old-school flair.  See the flags?  The wind was blowing hard to the right field corner.   
I walked another 50 feet and peered through an open chain link fence.
Here’s what I saw…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 003.jpg            A rain soaked field with a rain jacket on.  There would be no BP on this day.

So, I wandered around the ballpark and took a few photos.

Here’s a famous intersection…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 004.jpg                                                   WAVELAND/KENMORE

Here’s a view of the left field bleachers standing underneath the above intersection sign…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 005.jpgThe guy in the blue coat is walking underneath that overhang for a reason…rain, rain go away!

My walk continued past the players parking lot (3B side) and back behind home plate where I purchased my ticket.  I went up to the window and asked for the cheapest ticket available.  He told me it would be in the Terrace Reserved-Section 233/Row 16/Seat 12. 
$24, please.  Okay, whatever.  Just get me in the stadium.

The lines were starting to lengthen.  I’m thinking…wow, 30 degrees and rainy and these fans still line up to see their team.

Until I found out it was a giveaway day.  I’m certain the freebie brought many out early as the Cubs were only handing out one to the first 10,000 through the gates.

What were they giving away?

This worthless thing…
zambrano statue giveaway.JPG

I’m sure it has some value.  I decided to keep it because I’m a bit of a pack rat.

My walk around the ballpark came to a halt when I spotted this fella…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 006.jpg                                                      Zack Hample.

I had met Zack for the 1st time a few weeks back when we were both in Toronto.
I had read on his blog that he had planned on being in Chicago this week.
Zack’s one cool dude.

The gates to the BPless Wrigley Field opened two hours early.  I grabbed my Zambrano statue and headed into the seating area. 

Upon entering, this was the scene…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 008.jpg              I’m not a fan of rain.  Especially when it takes the place of Batting Practice.
 

After a few minutes, the Reds pitchers started coming out onto the field…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 007.jpgBASEBALL #1 came fro
m an unknown Reds pitcher.  I wanna say it was MIKE LINCOLN.  Not positive.  It was his warmup ball.

BASEBALL #2 came about 30 seconds later from EDINSON VOLQUEZ.  He was walking back toward the dugout and launched it 30 rows back right to where I was standing.  Of course, wearing all Reds gear and waving my arms like I’m trying to put out a fire didn’t hurt.

The players had all retreated to the clubhouse.  I had some time to burn, so, I wandered.

Look at that beautiful runway on the lower level to snag foul balls…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 009.jpgOld-school charm…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 010.jpgLeft field bleachers…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 012.jpgRight field bleachers…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 013.jpgPre-game view from the seat I was SUPPOSED to be sitting in (more on this later)…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 014.jpg                                          SECTION 233 ROW 16 SEAT 12

I wandered some more-ending up in the upper deck.  I had to show my ticket about 50 times to get up there!  The ushers at Wrigley are Nazis.  Just doing their jobs, I guess.

A view of centerfield from the upper deck…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 017.jpgA view to the right from the upper deck…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 018.jpgand a view to the left…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 019.jpgSee that overhang??  A ton of baseballs get fouled off and bounce onto that roof.  Their final landing spots are the surrounding streets below.  Now, that’s old-school.

A look onto Waveland Ave. from the furthest seat from home plate…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 022.jpgRooftop seats in left field…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 026.jpg
The seagulls in Chicago are on a timer.  They swoop in every day around 5-6pm.  They’re used to day game buffets.  They were a tad early on this day…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 028.jpgThe only thing more annoying than seeing seagulls everywhere is seeing Cubs fans everywhere.

Uh-oh!!  Game time!!
Get that oversized slip n’ slide off the field…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 030.jpgnicely done…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 032.jpgLet’s play ball!!

Right before the game was about to begin, I took a look where I was SUPPOSED to be sitting.  It was way up and underneath the overhang.  There was no way I was going to sit there for the game.  So, I did what any ballhawk would do.  I looked down to the dugout seats above the Reds dugout and saw a few empties.  So, when the Gestapo wasn’t looking, I snuck down and assumed an empty seat in the 2nd row directly above the Reds dugout.  Decked out in all Reds gear, I was definitely in enemy territory.  Only a few Reds fans to my left.  I struck up conversations with everyone around me and acted like I’d been there before.

Reds infielder ALEX GONZALEZ was warming up with Brandon Phillips directly in front of me.  After he was finished throwing, I asked for the baseball.  Alex looked at me and faked like he was going to throw it 90 mph at my head.  He pulled it back, smiled and then gently tossed it to me for BASEBALL #3.

Here was my view to start the game…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 037.jpgNot too shabby (I think this was the only time I blinked in 3 hours). 

More pics…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 038.jpg     Derrek Lee…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 045.jpg

1st inning…2nd inning…3rd inning…4th inning…5th inning all go by.  I’m still sitting in the 2nd row!  I think the late Harry Caray said it best, “holy cow!” 

In the bottom of the 6th inning, Cubs LF ALFONSO SORIANO was at the plate.  He hit a nubber down the 1st base line.  It rolled right up to 1st base, struck the base, then rolled into shallow right field.  Jay Bruce picked it up and fired it into second where Soriano slid safely for a double. 

The ball was thrown out of play to this man…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 051.jpgCubs 1B coach MATT SINATRO.  Mr. Sinatro looked in my direction.  I was the only fan who stood up AND had a baseball glove on.  He made eye contact with me and tossed the game ball to me for BASEBALL #4.  A toss-up for official statistics, but a gamer hit nonetheless.

Here’s the Soriano game used hit ball…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 058.jpg                                     ALFONSO SORIANO CAREER HIT #1406

After the bottom half of the seventh had ended, Reds 1B Coach BILLY HATCHER tossed BASEBALL #5 to me on top of the dugout. 

I had been trying to get a 3rd out ball all game but for whatever reason, Reds 1B Joey Votto would not look to the crowd.  He would simply jog off the field and on his way to the dugout, he would toss the 3rd out ball to Billy Hatcher.  Billy would then toss him a different one.  I’ve noticed this becoming a trend.  From what I gather, the players are using the previous innings game ball for the infield warmup ball between innings.

Upon further inspection of the Billy Hatcher toss-up, I could see it was a game ball but it had too many grass and dirt stains to be the 3rd out of that inning.  It had been the previous innings 3rd out used for infield practice.  Ahah!!

Here’s a look at the Billy Hatcher toss-up ball…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 059.jpgThe ball was certainly “rubbed” for game action.  This particular ball just saw some extra action in between innings.

After getting that 5th baseball, I reached into my backpack and dug out the Mike Lincoln toss-up and handed it to a very friendly Cubs fan who actually HAD tickets in those seats.  I felt almost obligated to do that because I had sat in those seats all game without a ticket there.  Unbeknownst to anyone around me, of course.

Here’s me in the 9th inning…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 052.jpgStill sitting in the 2nd row on the dugout with a $24 ticket.  Yeah, I beat the system.

Finals for the day…
4_21_09 Reds vs Cubs @ WRIGLEY FIELD 057.jpg                             5 toss-up baseballs (4 shown-1 given away)
                                                           +
                                1 Carlos Zambrano bathroom ornament

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 5 total balls 4/21/09

5 toss-ups

ATTENDANCE:  38,403

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
___________________

60 baseballs (9 games)
6.667 average per game

My ballhawking tribute video

Let me start off by saying – I did not make this video
You will never mistake me for someone who knows anything about technology.

A fellow Brewers fan put this tribute video together for me.  He did a nice job. 
All he wanted in return was for me to take him and his son to a Brewers game. 
Consider it done. 
I appreciate the thoughtfulness-thank you.

The song in the video is a children’s song by Justin Roberts called “Pop Fly.”
(brings back the kid in me).

Don’t forget to click the “HQ” button to watch in higher quality.

Hope you like it