Today would be my first roadtrip, with Erik Jabs, to Cleveland for a day after day game. We were hoping for a big day, and possibly both teams practicing but this wasn’t the case.
Anyway, always love the first trip to Cleveland in Spring. The sun was shining bright without a cloud in the sky.
A fitting message now that spring and MLB have returned.
Closing in on GATE C. All of the trees are still bare, lifeless.
Bob Feller, emerging from the shadow into the light.
Nyjer Morgan, AKA Tony Plush is back in the bigs, and I hoped to call him out by his alter ego and get on the board. On a fly to right center which was caught on the run I got the toss up, it wasn’t T Plush though, rather Michael Bourn. Ball 1.
Another milestone in CLE, I scrummed career ball 1900 off a lefty home run.
Things were moving pretty slow with the Indians bats, and the crowd grew enough to make things tough. A large older guy got me on a homer and a scrum when I couldn’t navigate around him. I spent the remaining time in LF, and came away with a toss up from an unidentified Indian, Ball 3.
Definitely a better time spent then at PNC behind the gates til noon and around masses of kids for Kids Day. Felt good to get a CLE game in early on.
Pittsburgh was pounded with rain from Thursday evening all throughout Friday morning and afternoon as well. The sun came out around 3 but wasn’t enough to dry things out. I was shutout, food service and ushers played a nice role in this as I watched them take 3 balls out of the stands which would have been easy to get to and find. This will happen from time to time, take the good with the bad.
Saturdays weather was uncooperative for much of the day as well, staying at 40 with a nice chill from the wind. On arrival the cages were up, after a good throwing session on Federal Street and a slight rise in the temp things were good to go.
I got Ball 1 on a scrum for an Andrew Mccutchen homer. Rarely get to see Cutch take his cuts, he rips, and will test the skill set on homers.
Euclides Rojas threw me Ball 2. Edinson Volquez in good spirits and Wandy getting stronger throwing with Euc.
Herbie found me at the conclusion of bp and continued his generosity for Ball 3.
I decided to try the Cardinals pitchers who were warming up along the RF line. Carlos Martinez denied a polite face to face request at first, but luck would find me moments later as a ball just rolled out of nowhere, I leaned over the short fence and pulled in Ball 4.
Josh H had been playing the Cardinals pitchers earlier and told me that Pat Neshek hooked him up. Sounded cool, but Neshek was now in CF. After hanging around a bit for foul balls or another toss up Neshek gestured at me with a ball. It sailed over my head, and bounced out into the service tunnel. Belive me, I wanted to look for it, but that would have likely spelled trouble. I turned my attention back to Neshek who threw another one that was on target. Cool dude. Ball 5. Neshek heading in past Tmobile sign.
First evening game with the early gate time. Upon arrival there wasn’t much of a crowd to contend with, but thanks to the Pirates ticket scanners; something just wasn’t right. Everyone’s ticket was a No Go for whatever reason. We all waited to get through the turnstiles with an irritated mood, thankfully they got it right after close to a ten min delay on entering BP.
The first action to come my way was via a homer that cruised over my head and clanged off the bleachers high in the air, I was able to stay under it and gloved it without interference for Ball 1.
After what was becoming a struggle of a bp Heberto Andrade began trotting into home, but bp wasn’t quite over. Herbie was scanning for someone to throw a final ball to and I caught his eye to receive Ball 2. The Pirates surprisingly had another group to come, and I was able to catch my first bp homer of the year for Ball 3.
Out in CF I found Ball 4-5-6 all in the front row of the CF section.
Scoonz had a nice day with 6 balls and has proved to start the year with a little surge as he did last year. He got me on a homer in LF earlier, and aggressively went for a homer in CF that was pretty much on the way into the web of my glove. It dropped onto the warning track, Brian Schlitter tossed it up to me for Ball 7.
Plotting the next move, attention in tact.
Jim Saylor AKA The Raven, working the devices today with the light bulb changer on a stick to the glove trick being used to reel in a ball in the Pirate Ivy which took at least 15 mins. Here he is at work.
Jose Veras hooked up Ball 8.
Ball 9 was a scrum for a homer to CF.
Dealing on the bank of the Allegheny.
Baseballs in hand.
Thanks to Brian Schittler and Jose Veras
After what seemed an endless winter of arctic blasts the Light at the End of the Tunnel arrived.
It felt great to know that baseball was back again, I tried to take in all the sights and sounds of the day with appreciation.
Sun rising over PNC
As Federal Street bustled with human traffic, those on foot with an awareness of the day often stopped to take a pic with the sunrise behind Roberto.
We had a healthy first throwing session on the Clemente Bridge. Baseballs were flying around everywhere as there were about six of us. Of Course, a ball was lost in the Allegheny on an errant throw, and a first game of route running was well played, well thrown by Erik. Zach with the win, but we will get back at is soon. I also came face to face with an Erik Jabs whip off a throw to Zach who ducked for some unknown reason. But all was well, and all had a good time.
Baseball Joe was ready to go.
It was great to see Jim Leyland present Clint Hurdles Manager of the Year award, and Barry Bonds to a divided response of respect and disdain. One of my favorite moments of the day was seeing Andrew Mccutchen’s moment in the spotlight as reigning MVP.
As expected bp was a rough play today given the gate time and large crowd. Things weren’t so crowded though, but opportunity and action were MIA. Herbie Andrade, the always generous bullpen catcher threw me Ball 1 seconds after greeting Erik with his first baseball of the year. Ball 2 and what would end up being it for the day was a scrum of a home run ball that took a nice bounce to me after it was misplayed.
Glad to talk baseball, throw, joke around, and ballhawk with these guys again.
This is the most righteous of places to begin! THE GREAT ONE
PAYING TRIBUTE, a Puerto Rican family shooting photos of Roberto.
REMEMBERING IRENE, we lost a beloved family member, and long long time season ticket holder who dates back to the days of Forbes Field.
THE RAVEN, legendary man and PNC ball hawk, world traveler, good hearted chap, prime time scrapper, man who created the term Gem of the Diamond, Jim Saylor enters. I called him the Raven to identify him before we met, and because of the way he swoops in for scrums. Jim is the leader in all time game home runs for Pittsburgh at 27 I believe so.
RIVERWALK. I never sit at games, you can find me behind the LF bleacher section or on the riverwalk looking for homers. Love the view of this from across the Allegheny too.
MVP A television shot of Andrew Mccutchen diving for a catch at Citi Field in front of the Pirates bullpen with the generous and slick bald headed Heberto Andrade in awe.
JOY Hanging with my lil man Dominik at the park.
LOVE Stumbled upon this in the city of brotherly love during a run.
JACKIE I was able to center up a shot of a bunch of teenagers all painted up with 42, Starling Marte centered in the background. Jackie Robinson carried the burden of breaking a strong barrier in a divided time, and showed out like he didn’t have a stress in the world.
100 Years A year after missing out on this commemorative I found this in the front row.
UNDERPASS Artwork put up en route to PNC under the train tracks.
SHOW OUT From the entrance to the CF seats I turned quick on a smashed homer that was due to sail over the CF seating section, with good timing I made a reaching grab when it sailed over. Favorite grab of the year.
SEARCHING FOR RAYS FANS Chris Archer spotted me in a crowd and delivered the ball well, he also found me again from his location in this pic in the CF portion of Progressive Field. I also managed a toss up from Joel Peralta and another unidentified Rays player. Erik was hooked up as well by Chris Archer.
ATLIEN Feeling good after catching two Justin Upton homers, a Heyward homer and a BJ Upton scrum. ATL put on a nice show for us.
CHATTING BASEBALL Dominik talking to Herbie about our T-Ball team.
PANTHER AND CATHEDRAL My friend Mike Clipp from Philly is a Pitt student, the morning I went to pick him up for our trip to Philadelphia I took the time to take some pictures around campus, a place of study and personal growth Ill miss being at. The Cathedral of Learning is I believe the second tallest educational building in the world, the nationality rooms will take you to the classrooms of countries all over the globe.
BLACK AND GOLD The west is the best, the west is the best. Western Pa that is. Proud to put on the Black and Gold at Citizens Bank Park, the belly of the beast.
LIBERTY, GREEN AND BLUE From high up behind home I loved how the Liberty Bell looks with all the vegetation out in CF also.
OPPORTUNITY LIES IN THE MOMENT Bob Feller tribute in Heritage Park. Stay in the moment, let your mind be still, and take steps to success physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS
LIRIANO’S RETURN What a year, Francisco Liriano, what seemed another fruitless reclamation project turns to be a man with much electricity remaining.
TIGER STYLE Love the entrance at Comerica.
FOUL POLE TO FOUL POLE-DETROIT SKYLINE
GEM PNC ballhawks were treated at the end of the year with a load of different, cool commemoratives.
YOUTHFUL EXUBERANCE It wasn’t hard for Jose Fernandez to find me in the Orange Miami hat, I also got to have a good interaction with him here getting his signature and some laughs in about a lady named Lauren, and not my wife.
SEARCHING Its always worth it to play the riverwalk if you know some action can or has already occured, Erik and myself yielded nice results from searching the weeds well several times this year.
3 BASEBALLS AND FLASHLIGHT On one day I found three balls in the razor grass and weeds, with a huge flashlight too.
RESULTS On the second trip to Philly I got the Rockies 20th commemorative and a caught homer off the bat off Todd Helton, hooked up with Wilton Lopez too.
SACRIFICE Earlier in the year, I was caught napping and not quick enough to the punch on a Starling Marte hr on the riverwalk. On the last homestand of the year when I had zero GOD’s on the board for the year I reacted fast, to the spot and got low for the scrum to be sure of the grab.
TONY SANCHEZ GEM OF THE DIAMOND Staying for full games throughout the year consistently is tough, got a lot of responsibilities so priorities prevail, but I always got my eye out for GOD’s, waiting to pounce.
WILD CLEVELAND I love Pittsburgh’s neighboring city, its always a wild time in Cleveland, and full of opportunity. I was glad to see a playoff atmosphere at Progressive Field.
HISTORY This year was full of history making for the Pittsburgh Pirates, I feel blessed to have been a part of it so closely.
400 For the second time I reached 400 baseballs in a year, courtesy of the man, Heberto.
AINT NO STOPPIN US NOW
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT
FEARLESS PURSUIT Courtesy of Torii Hunter, now go get it…
Goal 1- 450 Balls
Outcome- 404 Balls, 46 off the mark, I slowed down on my targeted Cleveland games as the season went on, and the large crowds may have impacted this also. I think my next goal may be to pass 417 which is my career high.
Goal 2- Ballhawk 4 new Ballyards
Outcome- I made two awesome trips to Philadelphia and to Detroit, I was unable to make Milwaukee early season trip with Erik. Yankees trip this summer turned out to be too expensive.
2014 Goal-2 New Ballyards (COLO, NYY, STL, CHW)
Goal 3- Attend 85 games
Outcome- I made it to 74 games. What weighs on me the most toward the end of the year is missing my family for any number of events that could be going on in the summer. I feel like 80 may be a more realistic goal moving forward.
2014 Goal-80 games
Goal 4- Average 5.5 BPG
Outcome- 5.46 BPG, close enough to move that goal to 5.75
Goal 5- Injury Free
Outcome- Aside from a handful of scrapes, small contusions, and other bruises I was able to hold up fine and stay on my feet all year.
2014-Extend my body to its furthest capabilities, shed a little blood, stay on the feet.
Goal 6- Lots of Fun
Outcome- I ballhawk with Jim S, Erik J, Ian w, Harold, Zack W, Scoonz, Josh H, and Mike Ballhawk who hosted my first trip to Philly. Baseball is a part of our family also so every trip to the park is a blessing. I play hard, and like to joke around a lot with friends, players, etc.
2014 Goal- Same
Goal 7- Write Cool Blogs
Outcome- There has been times where I posted very short write ups of PNC games when nothing new was going on, but as a whole Im glad to be able to document my journeys well.
2014 Goal- Same
Goal 8- Give away a lot of baseballs
Outcome- I was able to give away a lot of baseballs to kids, ladies, and others throughout the year, I hold on to less and less baseballs. There are still plenty to use to play HR Derby with for years.
2014 Goal- Same
Goal 9- Stand up to anti-ballhawks, ignorance, verbal abuse.
Outcome- Ive found the more you engage these type of folks the more trouble you get.
2014 Goal- Planned Ignoring, Smiling
Goal 10- 3 Gem of the Diamonds
Outcome- I cant describe what it feels like to be standing and standing all night at PNC Park waiting, and the family factor is always there. At the end of the year I was right in place for a Tony Sanchez Homer at PNC.
2014 Goal- I keep it at three yearly.
Goal 11- Have the highest caught HR ratio
Outcome- This takes way too much time to figure out.
2014 Goal-Catch as many HR’s as possible
Back home in Pittsburgh tied 1-1 in the NLDS series vs Redbirds. I was able to find Ball #1 in the weeds outside of PNC following Saturdays workout.
Erik and I searched more and he came out with a clean Rockies 2oth commemorative.
When I entered the seats I got the attention of Randy Choate for Ball #2, and Ball #3. Back to Back. Strangest thing I ever saw from a Cardinal affiliate.
I was one ball away from hitting the 400 mark on the year.
With no where to go, and no one to turn to, you know who to go to………
I posted at the bullpen and waited for Herbie to enter, I gave a wave and without asking he came back out from underneath and flipped up a ball for #4 on the day and #400 on the year.
Pirates with a chance to seal up a trip to the NLCS on home ground.
Brian Morris heard me from the gate in right center and tossed up Ball #1.
From the outside looking in I tracked back on a high homer which I couldn’t get to, but the ball hit Mike on his elbow and I was able to scrum it easily for Ball #2.
I entered into the CF seats at gate time and found a pair of baseballs in the front row, #3 and #4.
That would be it.
Bucs will be back, Pgh will be back, and I will be back, because we are going to slay red birds in Game 5….
Aint no Stoppin Us Now
After picking up my daughter and watching her anxiously until backup arrived I was able to leave the house around 415pm. This meant I had to move quick through traffic. This is what the line looked like.
I made it in time for the gates and chatted with Pat and his family as I waited for Erik with the tickets, he made it with time to spare. Upon entrance I found nothing in RF seating even after almost an entire Indians bp, balls were being gathered up and gone. After running around foul territory for a bit I found Ball #1 out in the open on a bottom step, Ball #1.
I switched into Rays gear quickly enough to get a toss up from an unidentifiable pitcher, Ball #2. After running into RF I caught the eye of Joel Peralta who was scanning the crowd for a Rays fan. It didn’t take me long to get his attention and the toss up for Ball #3.
After a few shouts out to Chris Archer, I was able to get a toss up from him for Ball #4 near Cleveland’s bullpen. Pretty cool young guy, he was seeking out Rays fans as well.
Archer spotted me atop the wall in CF and tossed me another for Ball #5. A nice throw indeed. I feel like Erik and myself were the only two Rays ballhawks there, it worked well.
Would it be the Tribes year? I know I hoped it would be, that just meant more baseball to come at the home away from home.
What are the chances of getting to see Pittsburgh and Cleveland each hosting a WC game??
What stood out most to me was watching Delmons Young homer to make it 1-0, all the Rays would later need, sail over my head.
See ya next year Cleveland.
The Unbelievable had happened, the Pirates surpassed 500 avoiding a 21st straight losing season. Now they handled Cincinnati on a three game set to close out the year and allow Pittsburgh fans the opportunity to see Playoff baseball at home since 1992.
A dreamy thought, but this was real.
Of all the games I been to, I cant recall ever having a problem with my ticket, other then some that didn’t scan quick. I always do a double check in the morning to make sure I have all the necessities, Ive forgotten little things, rosters, pen, shades, but not my ticket, ever!
Pure excitement ran through me as I was jogging to the CF gate to meet Erik, and Ian who were there. I put my bad down, opened it up to write my current stats down on my ticket but the ticket wasn’t there. I checked other sections and it wasn’t in any of those either. Without much more thought I checked my pockets, to no avail, and then began backtracking.
I backtracked all the way back to my car hoping it had fell out early on as I started jogging to the park. The ticket had fallen out of my usual pocket which I neglected to close fully.
Well it was no where to be found. All I could think to do was to call my ticket agent, who calmed my panic. He stated to go to the window to have it reprinted. Well when I got to the window I found that a woman working for Y108 noticed the ticket fall out of my backpack, within a crowd, but couldn’t find me, she took it to the ticket window and left it.
After getting the ticket back I joined Erik and we game planned.
First opportunity we had was from the Right center portion of the riverwalk behind the closed gates. We both called out for toss ups early before people got in. I was able to get Ball #2, (Ball #1 was found in the weeds during workouts) tossed up from Charlie Morton.
Jail View, playoff gate times are garbage.
An usher who I have known for about three years came through when I requested a ball, Ball #3.
I was able to find Ball #4 in the CF seating area upon entrance.
My view early on.
I was able to get a toss up from Logan Ondrusek in LF which I gave away to a little guy who it may have been to as Logan had flipped it high. Ball #4.
Erik and I posted up at the bullpen to watch the intros and greet Herbie and Euclides. When Herbie walked in, without request he tossed up one for each of us. Ball #5 on the day.
Some people have waited their whole life for this.
Harold caught a homer on the fly at BP, look at that Polamalu shirt, talk about being dressed for the occasion. Hell YAA
I feel like his mother Irene, a long long long time fan and good lady who passed 9/7 was with him on it. It felt like a good omen for the game.
It was the most LOUD and electric atmosphere I have ever been to as a Pirate fan. Francisco Liriano dominated, and the Bucs let off three big cannonballs, two by Russell Martin, one by Marlon Byrd (Birdman).
And it was onto the NLDS against the despised Red Birds.
Day-5, 1 given away
Nothing too exciting on my last regular season game in Cleveland, I got there after work and waited patiently talking to Marge, an elderly and Indian crazed fan.
Upon entrance I found Ball #1 and 2.
Erik arrived a little late and we chatted for a bit as it was becoming a boring Indians bp. Finally a hit ball came my way, it bounced off the concrete wall in RF and found my glove. I believe I gave this to one of Pat’s kids. Pat has two young guys who are excellent at ballhawking for their age. Pat is one of the Cleveland regulars and is a good ballhawk also.
So that was Ball #3.
The one guy I remembered well from the White Sox was Ramon Troncoso because Erik had played catch with him at PNC. He was on the Dodgers at the time. I was able to get his attention for a toss up of Ball #4.
Ball #5 was found in the left field upper bleachers, somehow surviving the ushers.
Day-5, 2 given away