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
The last home stand of the year started off good as the Padres hit surprisingly well from the right side of the plate during bp.
I ended up with 4 caught homers, 2 ground rule double balls, a Herbie Andrade toss up and a scrum.
Game two of the series started with a toss up from Felix Pie who I have never gotten a ball from, and who seems not to throw many baseballs into the stands from what we have seen at PNC.
3 balls were caught homers, 4 scrums.
With back to back 8 ball games I felt confident that surpassing my season total of 417 was still possible.
The third game of the Padres series was my lowest total with 5, 4 of which were caught homers.
Friday the 20th would be the last guaranteed batting practice of the regular season as Saturday would be a day full of rain from the moment I opened my eyes until around 430 when the gates would open.
I lost out on a bunch of close ones to start the day, and the crowd kept growing slowly. The first ball I got on board with was a ground rule double I had to range far to my left for. I went down for it as a ballhawk in the row behind was reaching down and I reopened my scab from the Tony Sanchez game last Sunday.
My second ball of the day was thrown by Herbie Andrade which could have been the last of the year, I gave a loud Thank You.
At 530 I went for any easter eggs in CF, there would be just one hiding in a corner in the front row.
Being in CF led to a toss up from Reds rookie speedster Billy Hamilton.
And to finish the day and the regular season I got a toss up from an unknown Red player.
Where I stand….
With the Pirates battling to surpass the Cardinals and survive the Reds for the home wild card playoff game nothing in the playoffs is guaranteed to happen at PNC Park.
I have two possible Cleveland games to go to, and the Pirates in Cincinnati to end the regular season.
We all packed into the van for a good Sunday game, I wasn’t too concerned about being getting 1-2 balls or being shut out just happy to spend the day with my family.
Dominik of course would want to go after some baseballs so he was an added motivator and help. “Mark the Shark, Mark the Shark,” he yelled as Melancon finished warming up with Jason Grilli. Melancon flipped it into the stands for an easy catch of Ball #1.
Dominik took his ball to get signed by Jared Hughes, and in the picture below, Stolmy Pimentel.
Hanging with my girls.
Dominik sitting by Irene’s seat where we left a ball from our family in tribute.
Ball #2 was tossed up by Herbie Andrade, Dominik got his attention and threw one over the fence which I caught for Dom.
I was more then happy with two balls on a Sunday.
Until Tony Sanchez went oppo and landed one between the handicap seats and the gates. I got my eyes on it late or else may have been able to catch it, but I got a quick read and ran toward where I figured the scrum would occur. The homer sailed in and pinballed perfectly between the gate and wall and rolled toward the fence and corner.
A man sitting in the handicap seats had a read, but I had jumped all over it like a lion on prey. It had been quite a while since I got a game time homer, and this one was well earned as the concrete made me pay.
My knees hate me, its just scar on top of scar on top of scar.
Good thing no structural damage.
Gem of the Diamond.
Nice Drive Tony Sanchez
9/14/2013, the day of my birth, kinda pressured to do well.
Fate was on my side as plenty opportunities came my way. The first of which was a toss up from Ray Searage, I screamed SEA RAGE, an nickname he goes by and finally got his attention, not sure if I ever got a ball from him. He didn’t make it easy though, whipping it sidewinder style. I hopped a bleacher where it settled for Ball #1.
Ball #2 was a caught homer in the second row, Ball #3 a caught ground rule double.
Ball #4 was a scrum in the upper bleachers, kind of close.
Ball #5 was a scrum on the Rotunda, a ball that ricocheted through the railings and settled not far from the bottom of the Rotunda, I took off and grabbed it.
I entered CF just in time to find Ball #6 in the second row.
And shortly after searching some more, I watched James Russell watch a ball sail and caught site of it to make the catch for Ball #7.
Another Cub lefty launched one to CF as I was in the front row, a gloveless dude shorter then me tried to box me out but it failed as I stood ground and went up for the basket catch, Ball #8.
Ball # 9 was a caught homer back in LF.
Ball #10 was one of them ones were your like wow did that just bounce that perfectly to me, a ball that hit the upper bleacher area popped straight up to me like a can of corn for a double digit day on my bday, blessed to have this game.
Day-10, 2 given away
Back at it first thing on the way in was a high homer that landed right between me and my friend Josh’s AO, it took a favorable bounce my way for Ball #1.
Ball #2 was a caught home run in the front row, a bunch of peeps were unaware and looking to Andrew Lambo for a toss up, I had to tiptoe around and make a reaching grad.
Herbie Anrade, Ball #3, what else is left to say, he is always generous even when you think the well is dry.
Cubs pitcher Zack Rosscup threw me Ball #4 in LF.
To end things I caught a homer in left to end the day.