To start the series I was able to catch a ground rule double full extension on a bleacher, Ball #1, followed by two caught homers in LF, one off the bat of Eric Fryer, the other an unidentified Pirate.
It was a first game of series shortened bp, and the Brewers continue to be a sad bp team with few friendly players for toss ups. Craig Counsell, the Brewers manager, while patrolling around RF told a fan, “I cant throw them up I’m not allowed.”
This second game of the series was a full Pirates batting practice and a good one, I was able to navigate quickly to two scrums toward the back of the bleachers early 0n, Ball #1/2.
There would be no Herbie today, he was seen coming out to LF but was called back in for something and not be seen again.
Up on the LF crosswalk during the third group Eric Fryer nailed a baseball right at me with authority for Ball #3, not a very big crowd.
I made the transition to the CF gate a little early to get a quicker jump into CF to search for a baseball that looked to have gone into the ivy in CF. After entering things fell into place well, Ryan Braun was hammering baseballs into the CF seats.
I came up with a Ryan Braun scrum and caught homer in CF, then found a baseball that the ushers missed in the top corner of the CF seating area.
A nice day in CF, and a good one to be had in the left center alley of the river walk at the gate as well.
I believe that it was Kirk Nieuwenhuis that hit a can of corn at me on the riverwalk for Ball #7 and a homer that bounced room service style between the gate and the handicapped seating area, Ball #8.
Ball #9 was a scrum near the top of an empty top section of the CF seating.
I gave away a handful of baseballs today to kids and sold a few..
This series began with a near second shutout of the year, not the way I wanted to start July after a tough month of June. With the Cubs in town the prospect of a good bp was in hand, the lefties and righties have been one of the best bp’s over the last couple years. However, there would be no Cubs bp to see as their make up game with Atlanta was played the night prior, in ATL, it went 11 innings. Joe Maddon is just as conservative with his players at batting practice as is Clint Hurdle so this was a no brainer.
Pirates bp was shortened as the first game of each Pirates homestand is always an early start bp causing the first group to be missed.
I got away with a scrum of a Jung Ho Kang homer.
Saturday was much better, a beautiful day, a full bp from both teams and my brother Bryan was back for the first time in a long time.
Bryan came back like he hadn’t ever left catching four homers on the fly with one being the first caught Josh Bell bp homer which he caught in the upper LF bleachers. This turned out to be all the more cool when Josh Bell launched his first MLB homer, a grand slam, over the Clemente wall in RF.
For my day I got Ball #1 by scrumming a Jung Ho Kang homer that sailed over Bryan’s head early on.
Ball #2 was another scrum from one of the first group Pirates who were peppering the bleachers early on.
Bryan labeling the Josh Bell caught homer in upper bleachers, a call ball to put on display, rightfully so.
Ball #3 was tossed by Heberto Andrade, Ball #4 was a caught homer on the fly in the front row that was a line shot.
To end things I got Pedro Strop’s warm up ball on the right field line when he finished his warm up session. Ball #5.
For this Sunday game I brought my son Dominik. Here he is early on getting a Jared Hughes autograph..
And later on with a 5th inning ball toss up from Cutch.
Florida Spring Training baseballs are still out there.
Its no wonder I have more baseballs from Cutch then any other player given his usual good batting practices and the ongoing toss ups of warm up balls over the years. This one in particular was my 77th baseball either thrown or tossed by Cutch, 1 game homer. I want nothing to do with Austin Meadows or any other player patrolling CF in the years to come.
Next closest player to Cutch is Lastings Milledge, 26 baseballs, who was a king of a five o clock hitter, highest and current is Heberto Andrade with 220. I wish we were all seeing more of Herby this year.
Prior to June I had finished on an 11 ball day in Cleveland and was pacing well to my goal of reaching 3000 baseballs by the end of this year, needing a total of 410 baseballs. June was terrible, as I was shutout one day, and dealt a lot of shit from the conservative ways of Clint Hurdle. I also went through some mistakes, frustrating errors and uninspired play.
I was hoping to be over 200 by the end of June but I sit at 180.
This one began as they all used to with a toss up from Heberto Andrade who was out and about in LF, Ball #1.
A caught homer from Howie Kendrick near the North Side Scrum followed by a scrum off an unidentified Dodger ended the day at 3 baseballs.
Ted Lebon, Erik Jabs and myself had an awesome throwing session on the Roberto Clemente bridge.
Here I am gearing up..
A baseball to Erik Jabs through the middle window of the bridges towering support.
Ted L got one through as well and Erik put through three I believe…Makes a fun time for catching..
Saturday it was in the 90’s but Yasiel Puig came strutting across the Roberto Clemente bridge wearing a lot of black, he stopped to take a picture with one of the younger PNC ball hawks.
Because of the heat, to no surprise, Clint Hurdle kept the Pirates inside for practice, but Adam Frazier, a new Pirates call up took a lot of ground balls. Erik J and myself waited at the dugout and Nick Leyva, whom we seldom ever see kindly tossed us both a baseball.
A lot of waiting for the Dodgers to take bp after that..
I stuck around as the position players warmed up along the RF line, Yasiel Puig goofed around sitting on his rear throwing to a couple of Dodger player’s kids on a nice day of green and blue at PNC.
After a long wait with no results I took off back to LF as the righties Puig, Van Slyke and Turner would be taking their cuts.
I got over to the LF bleachers in time to catch a Scott Van Slyke homer in the handicapped section, and a ball that ricocheted off the top of the handicap section railing, Ball #2/3.
Thank you Sunday night baseball which provided a full batting practice. One that got really crowded at 5:30 when the flood gates opened. It was a nice time as Sundays are usually where you wait another half hour at gate time to what usually is no batting practice anyway.
I scrummed two baseballs off the bat of Andrew Mccutchen, got a toss up from Heberto Andrade and caught a second Howie Kendrick bp homer for the series to end at 4, one of the best days in a while for me..
It has been a June to forget so far, with a shutout and many low scoring days. My mindset coming into this series with the Giants was to begin to increase my focus with less conversation with others and to start hustling a bit more. There is still a lot of time left in the year to reach my goal of 418 p.r. with multiple planned trips for CLE and CIN. This series got off to a slow start which has been the case often in first games of home series as the Pirates run a shortened bp to have meetings, today was no bp period as the Bucs played the ESPN night game, then traveled home late from Chicago.
Waiting over action has become the norm with Clint Hurdle’s passive approach at on field practices and analytical philosophies which favor rest and relaxation.
Lately I have just been trying to hang on through this big slump I have been in and persevere over time, things come around in time.
During this one I caught a homer in LF and on the right center portion of the river walk that sailed deep over the handicapped seats.
I went for a more brisk run today to get a spot in the front of the line, the Pirates should have been taking a full, later onset bp which would provide the Andrew Mccutchen group. When this group is out there to see at 430 its good to hustle in, today it helped with a scrum of a ball on the LF crosswalk for Ball #1 on the way in.
I then made a connection with Francisco Liriano out in CF for a toss up to me at the North Side Notch, Ball #2. It has been near impossible to hook up with any Pirates pitchers lately as pretty much all of them patrol only CF and RF away from the fans.
Starling Marte launched a ball a few rows deep in the upper bleachers which I made a dash for to grab Ball #3.
Heberto Andrade was present in LF today which has made me more grateful for lately given his sporadic appearances, he tossed Erik a ball and myself for Ball #4.
Ball #5 was a caught homer near the North Side Notch at the last second as I was busy watching Erik J and Jim go at it with their ball retrievers. I picked up the ball real late so it was good it was right at me.
Also during this time I went out of my way to give a new, clean ball to a child living with a handicapped disability, and was happy to take a moment to talk to him about baseball, and ended our conversation with a high five.
Over in CF for the Giants lefties I came away with a scrum that was a pretty wild one. An unidentified Giant slammed one near the top of the middle of the CF sections.
This baseball took a wild route seeming to bounce off the top fence, and ricocheting around the pop corn stand and Rita’s ice stand. I went after it and noticed that nobody was yet able to track it, I went down on one knee to see if it was under the Rita’s stand and there it sat, Ball #6. A little luck coming back around my way..
I stayed until the fifth inning of what would be a lopsided defeat to the Giants, 15-4, no home run opportunities during my time there.
Thanks Cutch for the direct first inning toss up, hope you find your abilities sooner then later, as it is already pretty late.. It was a low crowd without many people so I picked out a young kid to me left to give the game rubbed ball to.
7 baseballs, 2 given away
Three in a row without rain and with the early Pirates group, I was hoping to have a 7-10 kinda day but the Pirates didn’t offer much opportunity as far as homers and the Giants lefties were kinda lame as compared to the previous two days.
Ball #1 for me came via a Josh Harrison line drive ground rule double ball that was a tough grab.
Ball #2 was a toss up from Heberto Andrade right on the money for the second day in a row.
It was a beautiful, picturesque day in Pittsburgh, so I took the time to appreciate the moment with this picture.
The Giants, similar to the Cardinals have been throwing bp to their pitchers in the last round of bp. In my life I have caught two bp homers from Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright. When STL was in town I was almost able to grap another Wainwright bomb. This pitcher hr derby thing is kinda interesting, Wainwright, Madison Bumgarner, and Jefff Samardzija have shown me some real power in the past during bp and games as well. Pitchers are not cut out for that type of sustained physical activity and I’m doing to doubt it will go down.
Anyway I took up the upper bleachers to go for my first caught homer in the upper bleachers ever. Madison Bumgarner was pulling the ball but it was real crowded so I put my money on Mad Bum blasting at least one into the upper bleachers that I shared with only two ushers.
Mad Bum did come through with a blast right at me with little to no movement necessary, I relished the ball smacking into my glove from what was likely the longest distance I have every caught a homer. I was five rows deep in the upper bleachers of a large PNC park…..
One of the ushers was joking that he helped me judge the wind perfectly..The several Giants fans and Pirates fans below offered a nice applause which felt great given the recent slumping.
Series with Giants-12
Oh, and this too………
41 pts games 5-6
Triple Double game 7
Complete Domination after being down 3-1…….Real MVP
Pittsburgh would not take bp today as they arrived from the ridiculous day of travel to Colorado, par for the course.
Anyway, my head is still in the game and I am hungry despite a tough June, all I can do is keep showing up and keep giving good efforts.
Today I got a toss up for Ball #1 from Cardinal Greg Garcia in CF.
And a caught homer above the handicapped seats in right center for Ball #2.
Saturday would turn out to be too hot for either team to take bp, to top it off the previous nights game went extra innings.
That led to nothing to do for a while in the heat, so I hung out with Erik, Ted, Lauren, and Euclides Rojas; among also Mark Melancon for a bit and Jared Hughes appearance to chat.
We were making the most of a boring time.
Mark Melancon wore an Erik Kratz jersey and Lauren was easily convinced that he truly changed his name, Euclides Rojas played into the fun. Jared Hughes chatted a little as well.
After the Pirates completed their warm up session good my favorite baseball friend Heberto Andrade came past and whizzed a ball to both Erik J. and myself. Ball #1.
Things worked out well with the Pirates ending a bit before the Cardinals warm up session, and I had enough time to change into Cardinal gear and came through with a toss up from one of their coaches as they left the field, Ball #2.
Sunday game gate times applied to this 5pm start meaning it would be an extra half hour wait on the river walk until the gates opened leaving only what would be a short group of Cardinals bp.
I first attempted to get a toss up from one of the Pirates pitchers being the first to get to the CF gate just above on the river walk. I had little time though, when I did arrive I was able to greet Jared Hughes who said he would throw me one if he got another, but he wouldn’t. Not minutes later the Pirates bp ended.
I took up the corner spot near Erik Jabs and played the lefties on the river walk, all I could come up with though in the short Cardinal bp was a toss up from an unidentified Cardinal player shagging balls in CF.
Oh, and Jeremy Hazelbaker was a mean guy, after a few nice requests for a ball standing near Erik he tossed one saying for us to go ahead and fight for it, not nicely either.
It has continued to be a struggle to get anything going. Monday I got a scrum early on and that was it. I came close to a Cespedes bp homer but Erik Jabs made a nice full extension grab a bit in front of me. Another homer was deflected by a guy in the front row hitting my glove enough to spoil the catch. To add more to this at the end of bp Logan Verrett tossed a ball up in the front row of the CF seating, the ball was snatched out of the air by a young kid standing above in the wheelchair section.
Its been a nice slump for me since the start of June, but things can only get better from this point.
Hoping for a full bp tomorrow to get back into rhythm.
Friday 6/3 was my first donut in about 125 some games thereabouts, on national donut day, a not so nice coincidence.
Saturday was not much better as the Angels crowd was relatively good, and a 405 start shortened the bp time.
How about it…
Not a very inviting place..
I was able to avoid a second straight shut out which irks me even to say. This was by catching a homer in the handicapped section by tracking a ball well, turning my back on it and getting up the steps into position to make the catch.
Lou from Anaheim liked the grab and gave me a nice cheer. Today was cool as I met Lou and Christine both from Anaheim making the trip to Pittsburgh.
Two game Interleague Set-1 baseball
This would be my second consecutive Cleveland game, with today Erik J. and Cole Adkins of Cincinnati both present and occupying the wide open but small CF bullpen section of seats.
I met with Cole at the gate and bought one of his extra Ken Griffey Jr bobbleheads which features Griffey Jr as a Mariner and Redleg.
Definitely a sweet bobble head featuring “The Kid” and “Junior” both of Griffey Jr’s nicknames as well as the date of his induction to the Hall of Fame.
Cole Adkins is a cool guy and its always good to catch up, despite running into each other in the small CF section it was a good time as always.
For the day I came away with four baseballs, a scrum from a deep Adrian Beltre homer that cleared the CF section, missed landing in the bullpen by a hair and bounced softly to me off the steps leading to Heritage Park.
Ball #2 was from a Ranger player who hooked up Erik and myself and Ball #3 from a policeman walking down behind the CF wall on his way to work, a pleasant surprise.
To end things on another cool note I was able to make the Rangers gear work to elicit a toss up from Rangers ace Yu Darvish, Ball #4.
I have been to Cincinnati for four games so far and came up big in those four games with a total of 56 balls at GABP. To meet my goal this year of beating my season high of 417 baseballs in 2010 I will need to get some good games in at Progressive Field as well. GABP and Progressive, the Ohio Connection, a good one it is.
To make things more exciting I brought my son Dominik to his first game at Progressive Field.
With the bullpen section things can be real easy or congested in a heartbeat given its size. The renovation of Progressive also came with a 2hr prior gate time as opposed to the previous 430 gate time. You can also forget about easter eggs anymore, as both games of this set came without a ball found by anyone.
Id still easily rank Progressive one of the top ballparks to ballhawk at.
Dominik posing next to the Lebron building sized poster.
Dominik went to his first Cleveland Cavaliers game with me earlier this year in February.
Cavaliers are All In
4 more wins, beat the Warriors, Strive for Greatness, LBJallday
Bob Feller and Jim Thome greet you at the gates.
Things got underway with a toss up from Trevor Bauer which tipped off the top of Dominik’s glove and landed at my side for Ball #1.
Ball #2 was a caught homer off the bat of a third round lefty of the Indians who I couldn’t identify.
Ball #3 was another caught homer in the bullpen section, again the player unidentified.
Dominik with the Bauer toss up which was an AZ Spring Training baseball I was trying to add to my commemorative collection.
Ball #4, 5, and 6 were all hit balls with two being scrums and one caught homer.
Matt Bush threw me Ball #7.
Ball # 8 was another scrum, followed by a toss up from a Ranger with a pullover on for Ball #9.
Carlos Perez provided a thrown baseball for Ball #10, and now double digits on all 5 road games so far this year.
Dominik caught five toss ups of his own on the day.
After Corey Kluber’s warmup one of the Indians coaches tossed up a baseball for Ball #11.
Its a sweet bullpen set up overall.
Hanging like this with Dominik talking baseball is hard to top.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are not much of a batting practice or toss up kinda of a team so chances for me were few and far between in this two game set.
I used speed and good navigation for three early scrums covering a large amount of real estate.
These were after a thrown ball from Heberto Andrade who has been back out in LF recently.
Rubby De La Rosa hit me up in CF and I used my legs for another scrum to make it 6 baseballs on the day.
Very narrowly avoided a shutout with a toss up from Shelby Miller for Ball #1. Shout out to the Diamondbacks hat..
Two game set-7 baseballs