Pirates v Braves, PNC Park, 6/26-27/2015

Hustle was what I had to do to get to the park after our team meeting for work was called at 3:30, these typically last for an hour.  I was able to keep my anxiety of getting to the park at bay pretty well and arrived at PNC Park at about 4:45pm.  After parking, I kicked in my run to a higher gear to catch the beginning of the Braves bp.  I didn’t miss any Pirates as they sat out this bp given the long extra innings loss they had the prior evening, thanks in part to Pirate killer Brandon Phillips and his Red Leg friends.

When I caught up with Erik J he displayed a Washington Nationals 10 year anniversary commemorative.  Knowing a new commemorative is in play always gives me an added dose of motivation.

With Braves gear on I went after a toss up from Horacio Ramirez, #62, an assistant coach in his second year coaching with the Braves.   Horacio payed me no attention the first time I called out for a baseball, but after a few more shouts tossed one up in no mans land, I chased after it and after a lengthy chase came up with this, Ball #1.

IMG_6285 (2)

Cameron Maybin fielded a ball in line with me, so I gave a nice shout and waved my glove in the air resulting in Ball #2, another clean Nationals 10 year commem.

maybin

The commemorative baseballs were the hi-lite of the day, I would go on to get Ball #3 from Sugar Ray Marimon, who has one of the coolest baseball names I have heard of.  Sugar Ray is from Cartagena, Colombia, his MLB debut was this April.

mirano

Hustle

Day-3

Year-210

Career-2452

hustle

Saturday, June 27

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this game with Dominik, we had a delayed start and a rain delay.  We talked baseball, had some good food, and enjoyed a nice Pirates win fueled by a 5 run first inning following Andrew Mccutchen’s 8th HBP of the year.  Andrew Mccutchen wincing in pain has become a common sight for the Pirates, yet the beanings continue.

Prior to the game Dana Eveland tossed a ball high in the air which I caught, and later Heberto Andrade tossed a ball high over the bullpen fence for Ball #2.

Day-2

Year-212

Career-2454

Pirates v Reds, PNC Park, 6/23-24/2015

Tuesday 6/23

With this being the series opener the Pirates start time for bp remained at 4:05, so we missed the entire first group.  Things did get off to a rapid start however as Heberto Andrade promptly fired me Ball #1 early on.  After this I tracked a Jordy Mercer homer in the North Side Notch section on the fly for Ball #2.  Still in motion another touched down near Jim Saylor, which he was ill prepared for, Ball #3.  Still in motion Jordy Mercer hit a third ball in my direction, this one jumped up over Erik Jabs’ reach onto the left field crosswalk where I tracked it for Ball #4.

That ended up being all for the Pirates bp, and after this the Reds continued to be poor in their bp showing, with few generous players providing any toss ups.

Todd Frazier did provide a nice bomb which I was able to scrum in an empty row with ease, Ball #5.

One of either Jay Bruce or Joey Votto lifted a high drive into the North Side notch, the sun kicked my butt on this one and I lost it just enough to lose track of it for a moment.  The soft bounce hit me in the chest and fell into my grasp without trouble, I was surprised I came away with it after losing it, Ball #6.

Ball #7 on the day was a ball that might have been in the stands for a while, I promptly got rid of it.

IMG_6146 (3)

Day-7

Year-204

Career-2446

IMG_6147 (2)

Wednesday 6/24

With the way things had started at Tuesdays bp I was excited to be able to see the Andrew Mccutchen group to start things.  Early on I caught up with Jose Tabata as he fielded a ball against the lf wall, I asked politely for the baseball and he handed it behind his head as he walked off.  Jose Tabata has been a generous guy for me this season.

Heberto Andrade fired a ball that went a bit off course to my right and low; to top it off a wild fan leaped up with his bare hand and knocked it off course, I made it over a few bleachers to recover it where it settled, Ball #2.

Opportunities were rare after this, and it turned out to be the largest weeknight crowd ever I believe with 37000 in attendance, this became evident as the bp wore on.

In CF I connected with Nate Adcock on a toss up for Ball #3.

Day-3

Year-207

Career-2449

IMG_6188 (2)

Nationals vs Rays, Nationals Park, 6/18/2015

Thunderstorms and persistent rains continued to wreak havoc on the weather forecast.  I had several options for the time off I scheduled off from work, the best of them being the Reds v Tigers with the bp tour and good Tigers bp.  This forecast was terrible ranging from 80-100 chance of rain.

That made Washington the next best option with their 430 gate time.  Erik and I headed up for D.C., about half way in the forecast changed quickly and as we drove it became more bleak with steady rain heading into Nats Park.  Things slowed down just into Washington around 3:30, and things looked good.  We both still wondered if bp would occur, the fields were dry, but the Nats had pounded the Rays the previous night and traveled to DC following.

This would seem to be what caused a no go bp for the Nats.  I grabbed a spot in the corner section in RF as the Nats warmed up on the RF line.  I wasn’t able to get a toss up from them, but Drew Storen gave me a chance at getting on the board with his decision to launch a ball way up into the upper deck 5 rows from the top of the stadium and at the edge of the top left section.

RF Nats2

I hurried up the escalator with Erik, he cautioned me to try to take it slow, but I was eager to hustle to it.  Things worked out well getting around security as I went down into the lower deck and went around them and right up into the upper deck via a nicely placed stairwell out of their site.  Things weren’t kosher when I got up there.  What usher is up there walking around that damn early, I swear he was looking for the ball, but not high enough.  My read on the ball was good and I tracked it down quick for Ball #1, 5 rows from the top.

high up

As I went for it the usher said something about am I an employee, which I said no, “Im taking some pictures.”  He was quick to start yelling at me, I picked up the ball and told him he didn’t look around good enough for the ball.  He continued to yell and walked behind me talking about he was escorting me back to my place.

Ball #2 was a toss up in RF by a Nats pitcher I couldn’t identify.

Ball #3 was a toss up in RF by a Rays pitcher I couldn’t identify.

We headed home, I was thankful that we were able to see action given the weather…..

Day-3

Year-197

Career-2439

hats

Pirates v White Sox, PNC Park, 6/15-16/2015

June 16, 2015

The Pirates were matched up interleague style with the Chicago White Sox this year with two at PNC followed by two at Cellular field.  Currently the Pirates stand to sweep the series with Gerrit Cole in line for his 11th win of the season, and Mark Melancon is in line to tie Glen Perkins of Minnesota with a 23rd save.  The Pirates will also gain a game in the standings taking them to 4 back from the hated Red Birds.

I cant say it was a good bp team in any way, pretty poor as a whole were the Pale Hoes.

I do like putting on the White Sox black and grey, and have always liked their logo/color schemes.

me

I began the day with a rare toss up from Arquimedes Caminero as he made a running catch on the track facing me as I entered the bleachers.  Ball #1.

Heberto Andrade Ball #2.

Former Bucco and now situational lefty out of the White Sox pen Zach Duke threw me a high knuckler at the wall for Ball #3.

duke

Over in the CF seats I was able to connect with Chris Sale for Ball #4.  Chris is very responsive and generous if you happen to see him.

sale 1

2 baseballs pictured

2 sold

game 1 balls

June 17, 2015

I was excited to take advantage of the Pirate 4:30 bp start meaning we would see nearly all of the Andrew Mccutchen group.  Cutch has provided much opportunity when we see him and I have been able to capitalize often with good numbers on hit balls.  Cutch hit a high homer to the back of the bleachers, I needed to hurdle three bleachers to get to it, when I did, a new rookie ballhawk was waving his P.O.S. ski pole with a baseball holder box staked onto the end, filled with tape, at me; either trying to knock it away or block me in some way.  I was able to get on it anyway for Ball #1.

Herbie Andrade decided to hook me up with Ball #2.

I gave the CF seats a look for Easter Eggs today and came up with one, another tucked against the wall and a seat by the ivy in CF.  Ball #3.  I see this often as the ushers usually don’t look too hard.

Another bonus of checking out CF was another toss up from White Sox star pitcher Chris Sale.  Ball #4.

sale 2

Ball #5 was a scrum on a bp homer that was botched by more then one person and rolled my way.

Back over in the left field bleachers it was the only good moment of the White Sox two bp’s combined as Avisail Garcia decided to go bombs away.  Ball #6 was a high homer on the crosswalk behind the bleachers, Erik Jabs was very close to catching this as well, our gloves lined up identically; Erik can cover a lot of space.

2-3 pitches later Avisail Garcia demolished one that went into the upper bleachers, more so toward the bullpens then down the line.  It was a high bomb that I was able to get to quickly, tracking it all the way down the crosswalk.  It would have been a sick play to have caught it on the fly but it had to quit to it and landed right in the front row of upper bleachers.  Being right there I quickly went up the steps and grabbed it.  Ball #7.

And that was all..

balls game 2

Pirates v Phillies, PNC Park, 6/12-13/2015

Phillies in town for a three game set beginning with a Friday evening, Sat 4:05 start and the Sunday 1:35 start.

Sunday was a no go for me, needed a break from PNC and day crowds.

Friday was actually good in terms of the crowds, but this was a 4:05 start for the Pirates which prevented a good bit of opportunity.

Ball #1 Heberto Andrade toss up.

Ball #2 Caught ground rule double from Chris Stewart.

Ball #3 caught home run.

Ball #4 toss up at bullpen from Phillies bullpen catcher.

Not much to tell about in this series, Saturday I got on the board for my only one of the day from Heberto Andrade, Ball #1.

IMG_5841 (2)

Batman, warming up with Jeff Locke.  AJ Burnett has been dominant in his return to the Burgh.  Today he threw nine innings and the Pirates picked up the win, 0 runs scored off AJ.

IMG_5845 (2)

Series-5

Year-183

Career-2425

Pirates v Brewers, PNC Park, 6/8-9-10/2015

June 8th, Monday

The start of the Pirates v Brewers series, and the homestand began on a day with a lot of rain projected to come in.  I almost turned around but waited a bit to see if the rain would stop, I knew the Pirates were not taking the field for bp, but the Brewers had a chance.

Upon going in the tarp was on the field, with the cages.  The Brewers were set to hit even with recent downpours, I was pretty surprised at the site as PNC groundscrew usually will call it a day after the amount of rain we had.

IMG_5626 (2)

I was glad to have stayed but the Brewers, outside of Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez have been a weak bp team the last few years.  To go along with this the bullpen pitchers offered nothing up and wore warm up jackets, making it hard to identify the young bullpen.

Ball #1 for me was a caught home run by Ryan Braun.

Ball #2 a scrum of a hr hit by Carlos Gomez.

Ball #3 a high overthrow by Arquimedes Carminero meant for a young kid in the front row, I caught this and gave it to its intended target.

That was all for this day, it was better then a total washout of bp.

June 9th, Tuesday

When I was in MIA in April I met a cool ballhawk named Dennis, he was willing to take me in as a guest but the scanners there don’t mind you coming in anyway.  Dennis wears a camera on his hat that he activates to video catches and such.  He was on a big road trip with BALT, NYM, LAD, ATL,and PNC on the list.

IMG_5658 (2)

Things got off to a nice start on this one.  Heberto Andrade got things going for me with a crisp dart at the chest for Ball #1.

Ball #2 was a caught home run in the front row.

Ball #3 a toss up by Jose Tabata, since his return he has thrown me two now.  Nice to have in the outfield for a toss up from time to time.  Bastardo, and Caminero are a tough pair and in LF most often.

Ball #4 Corey Hart caught homer, Ball #5 caught Ryan Braun homer.

Carlos Gomez just crushes the ball at bp, I scrummed two towering bombs from the upper bleachers as he was racking them up.  Ball #6/7.

Ball # 8 was a caught homer off the bat of an unidentified Brewer.

I also caught one of these juiced up softballs from the Long Haul Bombers.

IMG_5667 (2)

June 10th, Wednesday

Today started off with a flurry of action.

On the way in I caught a homer off the bat of Andrew Mccutchen.  Ball #1.

Starling Marte, who also is good to have in LF from time to time made a nice running catch at the wall, he catapulted himself up on the wall, and tossed it to me after the catch for Ball #2.  Starling is always jumping up on the wall if he can, he layed over the wall into the front row once before.

IMG_5735 (2)

I got the customary Andrade toss up for Ball #3.  For the entire rest of Pirates and Brewers I went without any more on the board.

Here is a pic of baseballs from the Brewers series.

Total-14, 5 given away

Year-178

Career-2420

IMG_5737 (2)

Pirates v Marlins, PNC Park, 5/25-26/2015

5/25

I love to see the Marlins, they have always been pretty friendly with toss ups, and Giancarlo Stanton is always fun to play for homers.  Their logo and colors make them one of my favorite teams gear to put on.

And to add to it I would have the chance to see Ichiro again.  There he was long tossing with a contorted type of wind up and long release.  I have one caught homer and one toss up from Ichiro, but nothing would come as a result of Ichiro in the two games v Marlins.

ichiro

The day began with a high homer near the North Side Notch caught on the fly, followed quickly by a snag of a ground rule double, Balls #1/2.

Back more toward left field I caught a homer on the fly for Ball #3, and then promptly connected with Heberto Andrade as he arrived for Ball #4.

Without moving near the steps in one of the back rows another homer came right to me, caught for Ball #5.

Over in CF I caught an overthrow from one of the Solano guys for Ball #6, I promptly gave it to the intended target.

solano

Ball #7 was a toss up from an unidentified Marlin.

5/26

The Pirates were back to their later start time today which allowed me to get on the board early with an Andrew Mccutchen homer that was scrummed, Ball #1.

Heberto Andrade kindly whipped up Ball #2.

Jordy Mercer who has been struggling to find his bat put one in the upper bleachers, I jumped on this for Ball #3.

Giancarlo Stanton hit a ball into the wheelchair section which was unoccupied, I got in, shifted to my left and made a catch deep in the web of my glove, Ball #4.

Over in RF the new lefty power stick of Justin Bour hit a high homer right at me on the riverwalk for Ball #5.

Carter Capps hooked me up for Ball #6, the final of the day.

capps

Series-13, 3 give away

Year-164

Career-2406

IMG_5372 (2)

Pirates vs Mets, PNC Park, 5/22-23-24/2015

5/22

Wasn’t too much to speak of on this t-shirt Friday, the crowd was rather large.  Always feels good though to spend some time in the ball yard on a nice day with this view in hand.

view

Ball #1-Heberto Andrade

Ball #2-Scrum

Ball#3-Scrum

5/23

Saturday didn’t look much better with a 4:35 start, and later gate time.

I reflected for a moment on the Roberto Clemente Statue standing tall and proud, and went on with optimism.

clemente

I had some time to play a Pedro Alvarez homer on the river walk outside of PNC, after much question answering to curious passerby I headed up to the line.  As I stopped to talk to a friend in a hot second a ball splashed down into the Allegheny.  With two boats nearby I tried to ask one for a net, the man only had some sort of stick paddle thing that he was able to draw it near the shore with.  When I saw it within reach I layed down and scooped it, with some of that nice Allegheny water added to my glove for Ball #1.  I gave this to a little guy who watched the events unfold.

Turns out I was able to get in a little earlier then usual to the bleachers as the Pirates wrapped up their batting practice.

Walking in I scooped up Ball #2 and Ball #3 in the first few rows.

bleacher

There were two hit balls that clanged off the bleachers for easy scrums, one of which went under the bleachers to the concourse hitting off a garbage can.  Ball #4, and Ball #5.

Shortly after this security admitted to an error in communication with the people who had access to the bleachers.  They just asked that we stay out of the bleachers, I don’t know how much of a fool they were at the time, but I made several attempts which helped out the day.

Popped out for a Jacob De Grom toss up, Ball #6.  Got a second order from security to stay out, so I went back underneath and snapped a pic of De Grom.

de grom

Standing around a homer made it into the wheelchair seats, with not a soul around I popped out, caught it for Ball #7, and went back into hiding.

5/24

One ball tossed up from Gerrit Cole at the bullpen, on a non bp Sunday.

Series-11

Year-151

Career-2393

mets bucs

Pirates v Twins, PNC Park, 5/19-20/2015

5/19

I entered PNC Park today to be greeted by Jose Tabata who was recently called up from Triple A ball.  At the wall he flipped me up Ball #1 on the day.

tabata

Heberto Andrade despite witnessing this still tossed up Ball #2 on the day.

Pirates batting practice began at 405 today and ended at 457, leaving a large chunk of time to sit around and watch the grass grow, watch the water spray onto the dirt.

When the Twins finally were prepared to get things going it was obvious from the start that Kyle Gibson would be the man to target for a toss up.  It didn’t take long to make eye contact with him in Twins gear and he kindly threw me Ball #3 on the day.

This picture doesn’t do much in showing Kyle himself but I liked how it turned out.

gibson

The Twins were hitting the ball hard but all over the place in LF making it hard to get much going, I was able to scrum one for Ball #4, and caught a homer during the last group from an unidentified Twin for Ball #5.

5/20

This one began with a towering Andrew Mccutchen homer that I misjudged going up the steps and into the handicapped section where I pictured it to land.  It sailed about five feet over, so my judgment sucked but I was able to close in on it pretty quick for Ball #1.

Heberto Andrade threw me a strike for Ball #2.

Ball #3 was a wacky scrum on a ball that bounced around the bleachers and ended up rolling around in the wheelchair section where I reached over the rail from below and scooped it up with my glove.

Ball #4 was another wild chase, although I would be the only person to notice the foul ball take a large hop up in the seats and bounced down to the narrow entrance you see to the left of the rotunda.

scrum

Ball #5 was a scrum of a ground rule double, the Pirates then attended some sort of quarterly meetings which wiped out the final bp group.

Kyle Gibson again hit me up for Ball #6, very friendly and fan fun kind of player.

Things began to really slow up in LF, I decided to play the rest out in the CF seats.  Nothing was going good over in CF, I was pretty much inclined to end on 6 for the day, until things picked up rapidly in the last five minutes of bp.

Although CF seats were searched at 530 and I presumed the ivy was searched as well, I gave the ivy a look.  I came upon these two hanging together.  Ball #7/8.

ivy balls

Ball #9 was a caught homer from Aaron Hicks, and for Ball #10 a Ricky Nolasco toss up.

nolasco

Jim Saylor kindly wrote a bunch of Andrew Mccutchens career stats and accomplishments on a Cutch toss up I had given him recently.  I thought it to be a nice gesture.

jim and i

2 game total-15,,,,,5 given away

Year-140

Career-2382

showcase

Indians v Cardinals, Progressive Field, 5/13/2015

It was a cold, and breezy day on the shore of Lake Erie.

skyline

Lauren and I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time, I was excited to see what was showcased inside, Lauren as well.

lauren

Some of my favorite parts of the R n R hall of fame are as follows…….

The man in black, Johnny Cash…”I hear the train a comin, its rolling round the bend, and I aint seen the sunshine since, I don’t know when, Im stuck in Folsom Prison and times keep draggin on..”

cash

“I am the Lizard King, I can do anything.”

Jim Morrison

lizard king

Jimi-“Purple Haze all in my brain, lately things just don’t seem the same, actin funny and I don’t know why, excuse me while I kiss the sky”

jimi

Hip Hop don’t stop..

hip hop

Two of my favorites from the Grunge era.

Nirvana “Here we are now, entertain us”

“I think Im dumb, maybe just happy”

nirvana

Alice in Chains “If I would, would you?”

alice in chains

After a good bit of time browsing through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame we walked toward Progressive Field, and had a bite to eat at the Winking Lizard on the way.

Things look a lot different as you walk up with the new gates, statues, and security scanners.

cle walkup

New Security Gates, no more of the old Gate C with the old, and towering large gates.

gates

Jim Thome statue, not a hard stance to replicate.

thome

Upon the entrance there was Ball #1 to be found which was a bit disappointing as I had seen at least two to three touch down in the RF seats from the line.

A friendly Cleveland coach threw me Ball #2 without a request, I then went to the bullpen box where for the entire time was occupied by my wife and I only.

This is the view of what you have to work with.

IMG_4930 (2)

I was able to get two ground rule doubles for Ball #3/4, and to end things caught a homer from Jason Heyward, Ball #5.

We planned to stay for at least 5 innings, but ended up watching until the 7th when ex Indian Jhonny Peralta broke up Corey Kluber’s no hitter.  It was an awesome performance to see with 18 K’s on the board.

Our View

seat view

Despite all the changes we had a good day in Cleveland with rock and roll, a good lunch, baseball and time together..

Day-5

Year-125

Career-2367

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