Tagged: The Happy Youngster

Colby Rasmus

This past season, I managed to snag two (2) of Colby’s game jacks.  For all the mathematicians out there, I own approx. 1/8 of his 16 career MLB dingers. 

Well, last month I was able to get the two home run balls signed for my collection:

Rosemont Sports show Colby Rasmus signing with Kenny 004.jpg

Colby signs career HR #5.

AND

Rosemont Sports show Colby Rasmus signing with Kenny 005.jpg

Career HR #11.

He seemed genuinely interested in the home run baseballs. 

That big guy in the green shirt (pictured above) asked me where I bought the game home runs from.  I told him I didn’t buy them…I snagged them!

When I told Colby what career # each one was and which stadium they were hit in, he remembered the pitchers who served them up right off the top of his head. 

One final pic…
Rosemont Sports show Colby Rasmus signing with Kenny 006.jpg

Colby Rasmus was a nice kid.  I’ll certainly be rooting for him.

“Happy”

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9/30/09 @ Coors Field

This would be my 2nd and final game at Coors Field on this trip.  Due to a family obligation, I would be flying out of Denver (on standby) early in the morning.  I would be skipping the last game of the series because I *HAD* to get back to Milwaukee earlier than I originally planned.

As it turns out, this was going to be my last game of the 2009 season.
I absolutely had to end my season on a positive note…

Kenny and I arrived at the ballpark around 4:15pm and a small line had already formed by the Rockpile Gate.  Shortly thereafter, our friend Don “The Rockpile Ranter” showed up with his son Hunter.  I had read all of Don’s blog entries where he talked about his son.  Finally, I was able to meet him.  One cool little dude.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking straight, and failed to get a picture with Hunter.

We didn’t have to wait long and the gates to the stadium were open.

It also didn’t take me long to snag ball #1.  It came off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki and I fielded it on a bounce off the warning track.  It took a playable bounce unlike the Ryan Braun ground-rule double the day before.

That’s the only baseball I snagged during the Rockies portion of BP.
Soon, the Brewers took the field.

You could tell they were out of the pennant race…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 003.jpg
…by looking at this picture.

It originally said:  COFFEY IS A FA_
The author was Yovani Gallardo and he was referring to teammate Todd Coffey.  Gallardo was trying to find a teammate who would give him a “G” to finish the sentence (those are his words, not mine).

Brewers reliever Carlos Villanueva walked over and began to hover over the missing letter.  He acted as if he was going to fill it in.
Some people yelled, “do it!”  Some yelled, “don’t do it!”
I think I yelled both.

Either way, Gallardo ended up scratching out the “A” and finishing FA_ with the following…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 006.jpg
…might as well have a little fun, eh?

 

Eventually, I would snag ball #2 off the bat of Ryan Braun.  The ball was snagged on the bounce after it managed to elude my glove.  I say this because I’m pretty sure I should have caught it on the fly.  For whatever reason, I didn’t play back toward the railing as far as I could have. 

It’s kind of like an outfielder going back on a ball that’s on the warning track.  He knows the wall is coming but jumps prematurely or doesn’t play as far back as he could out of fear that he will strike the wall.  That’s what happened to me.  But, I still ended up with the baseball.

My 3rd and final baseball of Batting Practice came via tossup from Brewers 3B Coach Brad Fischer.  “Fisch” was walking toward one that had rolled down the left field line.  I saw this and ran over to the “well” (the large grounds crew opening down the left field line).  I held up my glove and flapped it once or twice.  Mr. Fischer spotted the Brewers gear and gladly tossed it up.

BP was not as good as yesterday, but, the same held true-most baseballs would land up in the pavilion.  The bottom row offers much room to roam, but, there just aren’t many front row jobs at Coors Field during BP.  That considered, I *still* would not have changed a thing regarding my game plan.

Sadly, Batting Practice for my 2009 season came to an end with another 3 baseball performance.

I needed to release some depression with nature…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 007.jpg
…so, I stuck my head in the trees located in the beautiful batter’s eye.

After the sadness subsided, I met up with these two Rockies superfans…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 012.jpg
…Ballhawk Dan and his daughter Emily.

As you may recall, I met Dan & Emily back at the 2009 Home Run Derby in St. Louis, MO.  Emily has attended over 300 Colorado Rockies games to date…wow.
Dan is a veteran ballhawk who has snagged 41 game home runs on the fly and an additional 33 by other means.  Very impressive.

After
more wandering around, I spotted the fan pictured below…
 
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 010.jpg
…wearing the blue jeans, black cap, sunglasses and toting the black backpack.

Being a loyal blog-reader of fellow ballhawk Zack Hample, I recognized him as the guy who shoved Zack going for a BP baseball that was hit into a tunnel back on 6/17/08Because of that fateful moment, Zack tabbed the guy as “pure evil.”

Having looked pure evil in the eyes many times over the years, I wanted to see if this guy lived up to the billing.

His name is Douglas and he’s a season-ticket holder in the front row at Coors Field.  He’s attended games in 50 different MLB stadiums including a few World Series and All-Star games.  His baseball-related resume goes on and on…
I know this because I ended up sitting next to him the entire game.  Actually, he turned out to be a pretty decent guy (the fact that he did NOT shove me into a wall probably had something to do with this perception).

My view during the game…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 019.jpg
…again, was simply awesome.

Coors Field reminds me a lot of old Milwaukee County Stadium.  A gigantic front-row aisle to run for game home runs, an open well down the left field line and an overall fun atmosphere were just a few of the similarities.
I truly loved Milwaukee County Stadium and miss it dearly. 

Just when I was beginning to love Coors Field
…I started to love it a whole helluva lot more.

In the top of the 2nd inning, Brewers slugger Prince Fielder stepped to the plate.
Prince has been pretty damn good to me over the years.  I’d snagged three (3) of his game home runs at Miller Park (career #61, #67 & #97).

Make it four…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 029.jpg
…Prince Fielder’s 158th career jack. 

My 54th career game home run snagged during actual MLB regular season games.
In addition, I collected the coveted “Clean Catch Pin” in the process for making it a clean snag.

WATCH THE VIDEO HIGHLIGHT 

Did you see the tip of the cap to Rockies CF Carlos Gonzalez?  It occurs at 17 seconds during the video highlight.  Carlos was staring at me, so, I tipped my cap to him.

Here’s Usher Bob (in purple coat), the gentleman who awarded me with the clean catch pin…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 017.jpg
…with “Big Tom” (in white cowboy hat) looking on.

Here’s where the Fielder jack was snagged…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 018.jpg
…marked by the red “X.”

Check out where Prince made contact with the ball…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 032.jpg
…holy hell, look at how flat that side of the baseball is!

Prince is a stud.  Plain and simple.  I’m going to hate watching him in a Red Sox uniform.

 

Did you notice by the pictures how everyone was dressed at this game??  The temperatures were in the low 50’s with a 25 mph wind.  It’s safe to say-I froze my asss off wearing shorts and The Happy Youngster shirt.


The picture below warmed the Rockies faithful up a bit…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 013.jpg
…showing the Marlins had defeated the Braves bringing the Rockies magic-number to clinch down to 2.

I was shivering so badly, I thought about leaving.  But, I couldn’t when there was an outside chance I could snag 2 game home runs in a single game for the 5th time in my snagging career.  I had done it on 5/29/99 (both on fly), 9/29/99 Game 2 (both on live bounce), 5/16/00 (both on fly) and 4/12/01 (one on fly/1 player tossup).

But, it wasn’t meant to be.
I was thrilled to end my 2009 snagging season with a bang.

After the game, I proudly posed with my newest prized possessions…

9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 026.jpg
…the Prince Fielder home run ball & the Clean Catch Pin.

Today’s snags…
9_30_09 Brewers vs Rockies @ Coors Field 038.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

372 baseballs (including 7 game home runs) later…and my snagging season was over.


FINAL 2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • total balls 9/30/09


batted baseballs (including Prince Fielder’s game home run)

1 tossup baseball


ATTENDANCE:  41,465

 

 

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
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
8/26/09 = 4   baseballs
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs *(new Milwaukee record)*
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
9/16/09 = 4   baseballs
9/18/09 = 10 baseballs
9/21/09 = 3   baseballs
9/24/09 = 4   baseballs
9/29/09 = 3   baseballs
9/30/09 = 4   baseballs
___________________

372 baseballs (61 games)
6.10 average per game

9/29/09 @ Coors Field

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I was finally going to Coors Field.

 

I’d seen all the home run highlights over the years. 

I’d seen some of the same Rockies
ballhawks making home run grabs. 

I heard all about how the baseball travels farther in the
thin air. 

 

On TV, the place looked like it was built for
ballhawks. 

I *HAD* to find out for myself.

 

 

 

After an early morning flight from Milwaukee
to Denver, a long shuttle ride from
the airport to our hotel and an early check-in at the downtown Hyatt, Ballhawk
Kenny (my partner in crime as of late) and I were ready for the Mile-High
City.

 

Our day officially began with a short walk to find some
grub.  After lunch had concluded, we were
on our way to Coors Field.

 

The aforementioned Ballhawk Kenny in front of Coors Field…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 004.jpg

Yours truly in front of Coors Field…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 006.jpg

A look at the main stadium entrance behind home plate…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 008.jpg

The outside concourse that extends down the left field line…

Thumbnail image for 9_29_09 @ Coors Field 007.jpg

…and the right field line…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 009.jpg

 

When I walked up to the main gate and peered through, this
is what I saw…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 010.jpg

…my 1st look at the left field bleachers.

 One word:  WOW.

Our self-guided tour of Coors Field rolled on.

 

On the walk around the stadium, I spotted the sign pictured
below…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 017.jpg

…I’ve underlined the interesting part.

 

DANGERS OF WATCHING BASEBALL??

On the “danger-scale,” I would rank watching baseball
somewhere between pissing into the wind and farting on a 1st
date. 

I know, I know-it’s all about liability, but come on. 

 

Another sign I found particularly interesting…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 019.jpg

…now that makes sense.

*I would like to personally
thank the
Rockies organization for taking the necessary
means to prevent/deter excessive public displays of affection.*
 

Not only is it annoying, but it’s quite unnecessary.  Who wants to watch that ****? 

I mean, get a ******* room for christsakes.

 

Moving right along…

Here’s a picture of me standing by the left field gate…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 022.jpg

…giving my seal of approval.

 

How cool is the sign pictured below…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 025.jpg

…!?!

 

How many teams (that you know of) have a sign that points fans in the direction of Batting Practice? 

ANSWER:  not many. 

Pretty goddamn cool if you ask me.

 

 

It was a touch past high noon.  Kenny & I were planning on meeting up
with one cool dude at 2:45pm.  We had a few hours to burn, so, we headed
back to the hotel.

 

After a few hours, it was time to head back toward the
stadium for our meet.

 

The meeting place? 

The Blake Street Tavern located 4 blocks from Coors Field.

 

The cool dude we were meeting up with?

None other than my all-time favorite MLBlogger…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 033.jpg

…Don “The Rockpile Ranter.”

 

I started reading Don’s blog back in the offseason.  He’s a loyal fan of the Rockies
who tells it like it is.  He’s funny,
he’s witty, he’s a father and he’s one helluva good human being.  As an added bonus, Don compliments his
exceptional writing with great picture-taking. 
Want to read a quality MLBlog? 
Stop screwing around and click HERE.

 

Don and I outside the Rockpile gate…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 026.jpg

Kenny playing a little catch with the “Ranter”…

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 029.jpg

Before we knew it, it was 4:30pm
and the gates to left field were about to open.

After a security check of my backpack and a scan of the
ticket, I was about to enter my 16th major league stadium.

 

When I ran in, it was a wonderful sight. 
The ballpark still looked like new and had an incredible flair to it.  A magnificent blend of yesterday and today,
Coors Field was beautiful and welcoming.

The Rockies BP was in full swing.  The gates to the stadium open 2 hrs. prior to 1st pitch (why all major league teams don’t do this??) at Coors Field, so, home team fans get to see their home team hit (now that’s logic).

It didn’t take long for me to snag my 1st baseball on the day.  It came off the bat of Chris Iannetta and I snagged it on the fly by my front row seats.  It was hit right at the wall.  I had to roll my glove over from the natural-method into a basket-style position.  Leaning out over the wall, the catch was made.

A little overview of the bottom-row seating in left field at Coors Field:

  1. Only fans holding tickets to the bottom row can stand in the front row and this includes Batting Practice.
  2. Fans holding tickets to the front row have access to employee bathrooms and the employee tunnels.
  3. During BP, you are not allowed to run from the bottom row up into the pavilion (I was warned after the 1st baseball landed 4 rows above my head and I attempted to run up after it).
  4. Stadium ushers are everywhere at all times checking ticket locations and are very polite about it in the process.
  5. The wall in left field is not very tall.
  6. It’s extremely easy to interfere with a baseball in play from the Coors Field bleachers.
  7. When sitting in the bottom row of seats, you MUST mind your “P’s & Q’s” while shagging BP.  It’s a privelege to sit there and you have to respect that. 

Take a look…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 050.jpg

9_29_09 @ Coors Field 053.jpg
…simply awesome. 
Do you see the yellow railing in the photo above?  It’s that easy to reach over and interfere.
The green seats above? That’s the only seating for the bottom row.
The guy in the black Brewers sweatshirt?  That’s ballhawk Kenny sending his 1000th text message of the day.

Talk about room to move around.

Unfortunately, BP baseballs are not put in humidors and most players don’t hit front row shots during Batting Practice.  On top of that, everyone, seemingly, had a baseball glove PLUS everyone seemed to know how to judge, track and catch a baseball off the bat.

This made the bottom row of seats a bit less desirable from a BP standpoint.

When the Brewers came up to hit, they put on an absolute home run clinic.  Baseballs were flying everywhere.  At one point, Brewers SS J.J. Hardy hit four (4) consecutive pitches into the left field pavilion. 

You guessed it:  everything was flying over my head.  But, that’s okay…I play for the games.

I did manage to get Brewers ace pitcher Yovani Gallardo to toss me ball #2…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 035.jpg

…and…

Brewers asss pitcher Seth McClung to toss me ball #3…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 036.jpg

…when I asked him to toss a ball up, he said, “I saw you catch a few already.”
To which I responded, “yeah, and I give them away just like I do in Milwaukee.”

He couldn’t argue with the facts.

After the Brewers finished donating a hundred or so baseballs, BP was over.
It was time to see the stadium.

My 1st stop was the Rockpile in centerfield…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 040.jpg
…no, those are not yeti frolicking in their indigenous state.  Those are grounds crew members retrieving baseballs that were hit into the batter’s eye.

A view of right field…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 041.jpg

…a view of the left field line and foul pole…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 045.jpg

…the 1B side…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 043.jpg
…the 3B side…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 044.jpg
…a view from the right field bleachers looking to left field…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 074.jpg
…do you notice how much room there is between rows?

A great design…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 071.jpg

…indeed.

Check out the purple row of seats that extend all the way around the stadium in the upper deck…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 042.jpg

…signifying the altitude located exactly 1-mile above sea-level.

Here’s a view of the batter’s eye greenery…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 082.jpg

A view of centerfield from the upper concourse in left field…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 070.jpg

Eventually, I made my way back to my seat. 
I chatted with a few of the local ballhawks including Dan pictured below…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 058.jpg

…standing with his back against the fence and arms crossed.  Dan is quite the accomplished ballhawk.  His current stats include 41 game home runs caught on the fly and 33 snagged by other means.  Very impressive, indeed.

Robert, another Rockies ballhawk, took the following photo of me…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 068.jpg

Ballhawk Robert has an interesting story of his own.  Click here to read it courtesy of fellow ballhawk Zack Hample.

Another pose…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 065.jpg

As far as the game is concerned, here’s where I sat…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 056.jpg

…directly above the red State Farm ad in the front row.
The other red arrow is pointing to a seating section *WAY* out in centerfield called “The Rockpile.”  Adult seats out there cost $4 each and children’s seats cost only $1. 

Here’s where Ballhawk Kenny sat/played the game…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 087.jpg
…with the red arrow giving me a fist pump.
The big fella in the scooter is “Big Tom.”  While I didn’t introduce myself, I hear he’s a pretty nice fella around these parts.

Again, look at how easy/tempting it is to interfere…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 089.jpg
In the top of the 3rd inning, Brewers LF Ryan Braun launched one in my direction.  I jumped up from my front row seat and ran to my right, lining myself up with the baseball.  It kept coming…and coming…but fell short, bouncing on the warning track about 10 feet shy of the wall.  The ball then took a 12-foot bounce directly over my head.  The ball landed in the 3rd row of the pavilion above/behind me for a ground-rule double.  I was absolutely helpless on the play.  Either I was going to catch the damn thing on the fly for a home run or it was going to bounce way over my head.  Unfortunately, it was the latter.

A shot of my in-game meal…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 086.jpg

…it may look like ****, but I assure you, it tasted great.
HOT DOG + CHEESE + CHILI = got extra underwear??

There was good news and bad news on this day…

THE BAD NEWS-
The Brewers lost 7-5 on a walk-off homer from Chris Iannetta in the bottom of the 9th.
I only managed to snag 3 baseballs.
None of the three were game home runs.

THE GOOD NEWS-
I didn’t shitttt my pants.

The sun finally set on my 1st day at Coors Field…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field 046.jpg

…with three lonely baseballs…
9_29_09 @ Coors Field.jpg




2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 3 total balls 9/29/09


1 batted baseball

2 tossup baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  39,087

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
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
8/26/09 = 4   baseballs
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs *(new Milwaukee record)*
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
9/04/09 = 5   baseballs
9/06/09 = 5   baseballs
9/08/09 = 8   baseballs
9/16/09 = 4   baseballs
9/18/09 = 10 baseballs
9/21/09 = 3   baseballs
9/24/09 = 4   baseballs
9/29/09 = 3   baseballs
___________________

368 baseballs (60 games)
6.13 average per game

…after the game, Kenny and I went to a local establishment right up the road from Coors Field. While there, we had the chance to hang out for a bit with Brewers relief pitcher Mark Difelice.  He even bought us a round!  Mark was one cool dude… 

8/29/09 @ Miller Park

In case you missed it, I had the best ballhawking day of my life the day prior (8/28/09).
I’ve had *better* days…days where I snagged two game home runs in the same day.  But, in terms of total baseballs snagged, Friday the 28th of August 2009 was second to none.

Would my luck carry over to Saturday?

When I entered Friday’s Bullpen Patio, this greeted me…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg

…an easy glove-trick. 

Okay…ball #1 in the 1st minute upon entering.  That was easy.  Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.

Allow me to prove my point.

Ballhawks:
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to have one of the game’s greatest power hitters up at the plate (during BP) with you as the only fan in the stands?  Just you, the slugger and a whole bunch of open space…!

Well, that was the scenario.  The slugger was Prince Fielder and I was the only fan (okay, there were 2 other kids standing in the front row) in the entire right field loge bleachers.  His homer haven, I might add.

To my left…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg

…and to my right…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg
…holy hell!!

Can you believe the *********** didn’t hit one ************’ homerun to the pissing section the entire time!!?!!  I had the equivalent of 4 country acres all to myself and Prince decides not to pull the ball deep.  Go figure.

Yeah, my luck changed today.  I’m not mad-just sayin’.

The Pirates BP you ask??  Total garbage.  They hit and tossed me too many balls the day prior.  I think they had to conserve a few for Sunday.

One ball snagged in the very 1st minute inside the park.  The next 75 minutes?  Nada.

A few pre-game photos of the Pirates pen…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 009.jpg
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 011.jpg

…Jason Jaramillo (catcher) and Kevin Hart (pitcher).

In the two pictures of Jaramillo, do you see the little target they have set up for Hart?  The piching rubber over home plate?  Neat stuff.

It didn’t help…Brewers won 7-3.

After the game, Home Plate Umpire Tony Randazzo doubled my day’s snags with a simple gift by the umpire tunnel. 

Two balls.  Woohoo…
8_29_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 012.jpg

…more like boohoo.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 2 total balls 8/29/09


0 batted baseballs

1 tossup baseball

1 device baseball


ATTENDANCE:  41,773

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
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
8/26/09 = 4   baseballs
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
8/29/09 = 2   baseballs
___________________

326 baseballs (52 games)
6.27 average per game

Career ball #1000 is quickly approaching…

8/28/09 @ Miller Park

According to the “Master of Snag” (aka Zack Hample), he states he once snagged 17 baseballs in his very first trip to Miller Park.  Seventeen! 
The date was June 11, 2003 (you can see for yourself on his website by clicking here).

I’ve spoken with countless Milwaukee ballhawks (both active &
retired) and 17 seemed to be the all-time Milwaukee single-game record. 
A very impressive number. 
A number that I’ve been shooting for this
season. 

Zack and I have joked that there was no way I could allow a New Yorker to hold the single game record here in Milwaukee.  I came close on 4/27/09 (and set a personal high in the process) but no cigar.  Would I ever do it??

Much has changed since the 2003 season at Miller Park. 

  • Crowds are no longer 12,000 or 13,000…they’re upwards of 36,000 or 37,000. 
  • Many areas of the stadium that were once wide open have now succumbed to advertisement/corporate bullsheet.  Further cluttering room to roam.
  • The Miller Park stadium staff have ironed out many of the wrinkles that existed in the stadium’s infancy. 
  • Steroids have been taken out of the game reducing long balls.
  • The manual scoreboard “moat” is long gone (once a great glove-trick area) and has since been replaced by a party area.
  • So on and so on…

I mention this not to discredit Zack’s 17-ball feat (snagging 17
baseballs in one day is amazing even at a minor league park).  But, to
show what a daunting task I would face in topping that number someday.

Well, someday came…

I walked into the stadium and grabbed a table out on Friday’s Front Row Bullpen Patio.  When I took my first look into the Brewers bullpen, this is what I saw…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 001.jpg

…but those two were both out of reach.

Then, I looked to the left…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 005.jpg

…booyah.  I quickly lowered the glove-trick over that baseball and began to reel it up.  Unfortunately, it didn’t have a good hold and fell back into the bullpen.  After a quick adjustment of the rubber band, I lowered it back over the ball and had a better hold.  As I was reeling it back in, I took a quick glance to the field (because the Brewers are funny about this kinda stuff) and saw Brewers bench coach Willie Randolph staring at me as I was reeling it up.  All I could do was to smile and shrug my shoulders.  He shook his head and I continued to reel it up for my 1st of the day.  Career ball #957.

Do you see the ball (with the red drawn dots surrounding it) behind that protective netting?
More on that ball later.

After getting a toss-up from Brewers reliever David Weathers, another Brewers player tried to toss one to a fan.  Through a combination of uncoordination and poor aim, the ball fell into the protective netting that overhangs the bullpen.  After watching a guy struggle to get it for awhile, I offered to try using the glove-trick.  It works in that netting-you just have to utilize the weight of the glove a little more.  After about 20 seconds, I had it.  I then gave it to the couple who were freaking out about getting it in the first place.

Back to the ball (behind the protective screen) pictured above.  I noticed that one nestled up against the bullpen wall.  After a few swings to knock it out of the corner, I reeled it up for #4 on the day.  While I was positioning my glove for #4, another baseball landed in the bullpen.  That ball was glove-tricked as well for #5.

As he always does, Brewers 3B Coach Brad Fischer was using a fungo to hit baseballs back to the bucket out in left-center field.

The coach…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

So, I yelled down to him,
“Hey coach, mind if I toss one back to the bucket?!”

He responded with a laugh.

To which I said,
“I promise I won’t keep it!”

Coach Fischer yelled,
“yeah right!”

Finally, I convinced him I would not keep the ball. 
As he tossed it up to me, he said,
“we’ll see if you’re a man of your word!”

Here was my view…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 003.jpg

The objective??  To get the ball in the bucket. 

Here’s where it ended up…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg

…coming to a rest just to the right of the bucket.

The toss (from about 125 feet) was perfectly elevated.  It landed just to the right of that red arrow, one-hopped the net and almost came back down into the bucket a 2nd time. 
Damn, that was close.  The people sitting in Friday’s loved it.  Gotta have a little fun.

THAT BALL DOES NOT COUNT IN MY STATS: 
I staged its retrieval via verbal agreement.  I never intended to keep it. 

Whaddya think?  Would you guys have counted it?  Let me know.  It won’t change my ruling one way or the other.

On a side note:  do you see the little aluminum bat resting against the protective screen in the picture above?  That was being used by the son of David Weathers earlier in the day.  Apparently, he was taking a few hacks out on the field.  Lucky kid.

Ball #6 came via tossup from this fellow…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 006.jpg

…after a friendly request in his native Spanish tongue.

I would retrieve 2 more baseballs in the next 5 minutes off the bat of the “Hebrew Hammer”-Ryan Braun.  One was snagged on the fly and the other was snagged on the bounce.  I gave the one snagged on the fly away to another fan.
Hotdamn…I dig Ryan Braun.

Ball #9 soon followed…snagged on the fly off the bat of Felipe Lopez. 

Nine baseballs and the rest of the stadium hadn’t even opened yet!  That’s the kind of start I would need if I wanted the record.

When the clock struck 5:30 pm,, the gates to the stadium officially opened.  I dashed up the staircase that leads to the 2nd level of bleachers (loge level).  I scanned the rows for any easter eggs.  Conveniently, there’s been a cleaning crew that comes through the bleachers to wipe off the benches right before gates open.  Anytime there’s a baseball hit up there, it’s pocketed by one of the workers.

But, not this time…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 007.jpg
…!!

The above picture was not staged.  That’s exactly how that ball was found.  I tossed my backpack and glove down and took the picture.  Hell, I was so jacked, I didn’t even mind that the ball was lying next to a gigantic dried pile of some drunk college kid’s vomit.

Double-digits and I still had almost an hour left to BP.  Holy crap!

The Pirates pitchers were now in left field making their warmup tosses.  Three minutes after I changed into my Pirates gear, Pirates pitcher Matt Capps tossed me his warmup ball.
matt capps.jpg

MATT CAPPS———————————–>

The last Brewers group was in the cage.  After missing out on a few of Casey McGehee’s bombs by a couple of steps, I was able to secure #12 off the bat of Mike Rivera.  When it was hit, I knew it would land a few sections away.  Immediately, I started sprinting through the seats to make up some ground.  When I felt myself getting dangerously close, I slowed down a tad.  BAM!  It landed about 15 feet away from me and I quickly grabbed it on the bounce.
                                                                                                       
The Brewers finished hitting so there was a lull in the action.  I sprinted down the staircase back down to the field level and ran all the way over to right field to check out the visitor’s bullpen.  There was one AND it was in position for the glove-trick.  Just like that…Ball #13.

By this time, I started to realize 17 was within reach.  I can only imagine what it’s like for a big league pitcher with 6 perfect innings in the books.  Around the 7th inning or so, he starts to really lock himself in.  From a fan’s perspective, it felt similar.

denny bautista.jpg
Eventually, I made it back to left field.  There, Pirates pitcher Denny Bautista tossed me Ball #14.

It certainly didn’t hurt that I asked for the ball in Spanish.

While I was standing in the left field loge bleachers, I noticed a ball that was glove-trickable in the Brewers bullpen.  So, back down the stairs I went…sweatier than hell.                                                                                              
After 10 seconds, Ball #15 was reeled in and I was officially locked in. 
I had just tied my single-game record of fifteen (15) and I had plenty of time to do some more damage.

Unfortunately, my luck would change.  The last 10-15 minutes of BP were a bit slow.  A few of the Pirates lighter hitters were in the cage and I felt like I had used up my allotted number of tossups.  There were no glove-trick opportunities and I was officially screwed.

Near the end of BP, I took this picture showing how many potential glove-tricks I could have had if not for the grounds crew…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg
…holy shnikies!!
The Pirates hitters hit more balls into the Brewers bullpen than any two teams combined.

When the Pirates starting pitcher, pitching coach and bullpen catcher began to walk out toward the visitor’s bullpen, I started to make my move out that way.

I was still about 20 feet away from the back of the visitor’s bullpen when Pirates Bullpen Catcher Heberto Andrade looked up toward me.  He made a motion and tossed me a ball.  WTF??!!
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 010.jpg
I wasn’t even that close to him and the throw sailed about 7 feet to my right.  Luckily, it bounced off a chair and stopped just in time for me to pick it up for #16 on the day. 
A new personal high.
But, I needed one more to tie the Milwaukee record and two more to break it. 
I needed to get two more baseballs…somehow, someway.  I knew I had a good chance for an ump ball after the game, but that would only tie the record.  I had to figure out a way to get one before that.

I decided I would try for a pre-game warmup ball by the Pirates dugout.  Not many Pirates fans in attendance, it should be easy, right?
Wrong.
Only 1 pair of Pirates came out to throw and Delwyn Young tossed it to a guy down to my right.  Okay…no problem.  I’ll just stay in the box seats until after the bottom of the 1st inning.  Maybe I’ll get a 3rd out ball.  Wrong again.
What I ended up getting was a great view of Prince Fielder’s bomb into my section in the bottom of the 1st.  No worries…I don’t know if I could have snagged it anyway.  It landed in the top row of the Tundra Territory (now you know why I don’t usually roam around the stadium in search of meaningless baseballs…opportunities missed like those).

Concerned about missing further opportunities, I headed to my seat out in right-center field.  When I got there, I visited with the fan who ended up with Prince’s home run…#150 of his promising career.
It was a lady in her early 40’s.  She tells me she was standing in the top row of the Tundra Territory when it was hit.
According to her, this is how the baseball landed (reenactment using actual HR ball)…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg
…right in the crease of the cushion!  She told me she plucked it right out of there. 
Wow.

I was wondering if I could continue MY good fortune when #17 came straight out of the blue. 
It was before the start of the top 1/2 of the 6th inning.  Brewers CF Mike Cameron came running out to take his position.  Like he always does, he warms up with LF Ryan Braun.  As luck would have it, for a reason I’ll never know, “Cam” had brought a baseball out with him (the warmup ball is normally supplied by the ballboy/ballgirl down the LF line).  He started jogging toward me with the ball in his hand before making his warmup tosses.
I thought to myself, “is this too good to be true?”  So, I stood up and flashed my glove.  Sure, there were others around me, but I was the only one with a glove.  Easy choice.  Cameron fired it right to me.  I had just tied the Milwaukee record.

Here I am with #17 on the day…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg…holy hell!

After signing a baseball for a fellow Brewers fan…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 015.jpg
…I patiently sat through the remaining 4 innings.

No more home run chances…I would have to rely on Home Plate Umpire Jerry Layne.
jerry layne.jpgSo, in the top of the 9th inning, with the Brewers clinging to an 8-6 lead, I headed out on a mission to establish a new ballhawking record for the City of Milwaukee.

I watched (from the 7th row) as Trevor Hoffman notched his 28th save on the season.  When the last out was recorded, I darted down the steps and got into position.  Mr. Layne would have to walk right past me to get into the umpire tunnel.  I felt my chances were good.  Jerry’s ball pouch had just been loaded up a pitch prior to the last out-I knew he had extras.

When he approached, I held out my glove and said, “Mr. Layne, sir, can you spare an extra baseball, please?”
Without hesitation, Jerry reached into his pouch and pulled one out.  He then placed it right into my mitt for #18 on the day!

Woohoo! Holy ****!!

A new Milwaukee record…
8_28_09 Pirates vs Brewers @ Miller Park 018.jpg

…with 16 of the 18 snagged shown (2 were given away).

This just proves how good Zack Hample is at snagging. He established the record in his 1st trip to Miller Park.  It took me over 200 games to get mine…but, it was well worth the wait.

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 18 total balls 8/28/09


5 batted baseballs

7 tossup baseballs

6 device baseballs


ATTENDANCE:  34,438

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
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
8/26/09 = 4   baseballs
8/28/09 = 18 baseballs (new Milwaukee record)
___________________

324 baseballs (51 games)
6.35 average per game

8/25/09 @ Miller Park

Wanna know how early I arrived at the ballpark?

So early,…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 002.jpg …that this guy was still on the clock.

Seeing that is a first.

So was the way I snagged Ball #1.  It came via tossup from one of the fine EMT’s (employed by Bell Ambulance) working the game.  He and his partner walked into the bullpen and started to pick up the 3 or 4 strays that were lying in the Brewers pen.  One of which, found its way into my glove.

fielder muscle.jpg
Speaking of finding a way into my glove, the big boy pictured to the right has contributed many baseballs to my collection. 

To date, I have snagged 3 of his 147 career dingers.
Hopefully, many more to come…I’m due for another one of his.

Balls #2 (on fly) and #3 (on bounce) were both hit by Prince. 

I love watching that guy hit.                                                                                                                                                                        PRINCE FIELDER   

       
When the rest of the stadium opened @ 5:30 pm, I ran up to the left field loge bleachers (2nd deck) in hopes of snagging a Casey McGehee homer. 
Turns out, I snagged two McGehee homers…both on the bounce.

That was it for the Brewers portion of BP. 
The time was 5:35 pm…time to change into Reds gear.

I stayed in left field for the first Reds group of hitters. 
Below me, these four (4) guys were shagging BP…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 004.jpg

…including WLADIMIR BALENTIEN. 

For the longest time, I could not figure out who he was.  For whatever reason, his name eluded me.  Nobody seemed to know who he was.  But, it didn’t seem to matter much, as Mr. Balentien soon lobbed a baseball backwards like a hook shot toward another fellow ballhawk named Casey (you can read his blog by clicking here).  The ball ended up short and fell back to the field.  Balentien tried a 2nd time with the same result.  By this time, I had grabbed a spot on the railing where this was taking place.  When Balentien tried the backwards hook a 3rd time, I reached way over the railing and managed to pin the ball between my glove and the concrete facade below.  I slowly gained control of it and had #6 on the day.

I continued to move around, eventually, snagging tossups from these two dudes…
micah owings.jpg…I gave this ball to one of my favorite ushers to give to a kid.
MICAH OWINGS
nick masset.jpg

NICK MASSET

The Masset tossup was my 300th baseball snagged on the season.

A quick pose with # 300…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 008.jpg

Unfortunately, that was it for BP.

During the game, Reds pitcher Arthur Rhodes spotted these four girls…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 014.jpg
…standing behind the bullpen. 

He tried to toss one of the girls (red arrow) a baseball.  I was talking to a few people and standing nearby when someone said, “hey, there’s a baseball.”  When I turned around, a baseball was rolling underneath an empty seat.  Surprised as hell, I walked over to it and picked it up.  I looked down into the bullpen and saw Arthur Rhodes pointing to one of the girls.  So, I pointed to the one with the blue tank-top and he nodded.  So, I gave it to her. 
That’s when I yelled, “Arthur!”  When he looked up at me I gave him the thumbs up. 
(No, the ball didn’t have a hotel room # written on it anywhere)

The game ended up going into extra innings. 

Check out where all the die-hard Brewers fans went…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 018.jpg8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 016.jpg
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 019.jpg8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 017.jpg

…someone forgot to tell those “diehards” that when the game is tied after 9 innings, the teams play extra frames.

The Brewers ended up blowing it…what else is new?
This season has been a disaster.

After the game, I decided I had to go for double-digits.  When the final out was recorded, I darted down the staircase for an ump ball.
jim joyce umpire.jpg

The man hooked me up.

He kept trying to find a worthier recipient than me.  After scanning the crowd about 5 or 6 times, he half-heartedly underhanded me one.

Thanks Jimbo.

Double-digits, baby.

JIM JOYCE

Eight (8) of the ten (10) baseballs snagged…
8_25_09 Reds vs Brewers @ Miller Park 020.jpg

…two (2) were given away.



2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 8/25/09

4 batted baseballs

6 tossup baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  29,481

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
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
8/25/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

302 baseballs (49 games)
6.16 average per game

The Curse of Coghlan

Remember this photo?
Thumbnail image for 5_13_09 Marlins vs Brewers @ Miller Park 068.jpg

It was taken 5/13/09 after I snagged Chris Coghlan’s 1st career home run.

I snagged 12 baseballs that day.
That was the last time I would reach double-digits…that is, until this past Monday 8/17/09.

I had ten or more baseballs snagged in seven (7) of my 1st eighteen (18) games this season.
The next twenty-nine (29) games…nada.

Finally, I reached the coveted double-digit plateau in the 30th game since Coghlan.

Is the Curse of Coghlan over??
I think so.

To commemorate the event…
Curse of Coghlan 2009 001.jpg

…I thought I would send Chris a little gift…

Curse of Coghlan 2009 002.jpg

…whaddya think??

The note reads:

Chris-

“Hard feelings aside, congrats on a fine rookie season!
Good luck down the stretch.”


“Happy”

Of course…all in good fun.