I’ve been contacted by a local sports talk radio show, that of Ryan Ellerbusch, to do an interview about ballhawks and ballhawking! Be sure to listen on Sunday, October 3rd at 9AM.You can hear the interview HERE. You can call into the show and ask me a few questions at (414) 288-7687. Plus, the regular season is basically over. I’ll have a season ending review of my stats up soon!
When Trevor Hoffman signed a
free agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on January 13th of
2009, the city rejoiced. The addition of the game’s best closing pitcher was a
massive step in the right direction to fixing one of the league’s shakiest
bullpens. Furthermore, he had a immense milestone lying ahead of him: 600
career saves. A long and winding road full of memories and un(but sometimes)wavering
performances, Trevor Hoffman had set the stage for his 600th career
and record setting save. This is how one of Milwaukee‘s ballhawks experienced the piece of history.
The night prior, I had stayed
up really, really late. I’m usually a night owl anyway, but we’re talking maybe
an hour of sleep before departing for the game at 3:00pm. I was especially anxious to attend today’s game
because of the wind advisories. Over the past few days, the southeastern corner
of Wisconsin had been experiencing some crazy weather. The tail
end of the storms was a massive low pressure system, moving southeast from Canada (eh?). Winds had sustained speeds of 35 mph and had
gusts as high as 55. Depending on which way the wind would swirl in Miller Park‘s
seating bowl, it could be a ballhawking bonanza.
Upon arriving at Fridays, I
promptly ordered my standard Jack Daniels’ Chicken Sandwich. It’s heavenly. Moments
later, a familiar voice called out from behind me.
“You alone today?” asked Milwaukee‘s Nick “Happy Youngster” Yohanek.
“Yes, sir,” I replied. Nick
took a seat and BP was served! But it sucked. Horribly. The wind was blowing in
from our position in left field at a solid 20 mph, knocking down any potential
catches. Needless to say, the Brewers refrained from tossups. Nick and I
departed with a fist-bump and the gates were ready to open! I was very, very
eager to head up the escalator to the loge level and search for left field
But alas, I would find
nothing but other ballhawks. I soon moved to the lower LF corner to talk with
my good friends and Cardinal relievers Ryan Franklin and Trever Miller:
After briefly discussing the
weather with my guys, I relocated to right field:
There was NOTHING hit out. I
think there were only 4 BP home runs hit anywhere. One, off the bat of Matt
Holliday, found a home in the webbing of my glove, my first and only baseball
of the day:
See that little protrusion
in the RF corner next to the visiting bullpen? That’s an exclusive restaurant, sponsored
by a local airline. Nick did a little wheeling and dealing and sneaking and
snacking (on the great spread during BP) out in the landing zone. He managed to
snap a few pictures for me:
You know those cheesy
emergency pamphlets airlines recommend you study and memorize and recite backwards
and forwards? Well, the airline came up with a “guide to proper heckling”, which
is a play off of the emergency pamphlets:
The captions read as
“In the event of Brewers
runs, a relief pitcher will descend into this area,” with an arrow denoting the
“Heckle the relief pitcher
before helping others around you heckle the relief pitcher,”
“References to pitchers and
belly-itchers are encouraged at this point. Having multiple people participate
will increase the effectiveness,”
“Once you have heckled the
relief pitcher, join others in putting a hex on him,”
And my camera is crappy and
old, so I’m not able to distinguish the last caption.
During the game, I proceeded
to wander aimlessly. I managed to come upon the control room for Miller Park‘s
The game itself was
incredibly exciting. Ken Macha, Chris Dickerson, Dave Duncan and a fan sitting
behind home plate were all ejected via umpire over the course of the horribly
officiated contest. Tim Timmons, Bob Davidson, Tim Tschida and Scott Barry
should be ashamed of themselves.
But the real action would
unfurl in the ninth inning. With a two run lead, Hells Bells rang. Trevor
Hoffman trotted to the mound and made quick work of the three hitters he would
face, recording his record 600th career save. I had snuck down to
field level to try and get an umpire ball, but it didn’t work. I did, however,
get some awesome shots of Trevor and the celebration. I’ve got video of it, but
I’m not sure about the legality of putting it on youtube. I’ll look into that:
And that was all. History in
Milwaukee, and I saw it first hand! And, I’m up over 280 baseballs for the season!
I’ve been in Kansas City for the past 5 days, and I have a few things to write about when I get back home. Nothing really that interesting went on, but I did have the opportunity to meet Garrett and Jack, KC’s ballhawking contingent. I’m on my way to Saint Louis! Entry soon.
When I clicked on the latest leaders entry on the MLBlogosphere page, I had expected to see the standard lineup. I was met with a pleasant surprise.
The front page looked the same as usual:
And the beginning of the entry looked the same, as well:
But if you check way down here, you’re met with the pleasant surprise:
Thats right, The Ballhawk’s View has reached top-50 status of viewership on MLBlogs.com. Granted, this is more of a personal victory than an actual victory, I’m still pumped. Most of all, I need to thank you guys, the readers. Thanks for reading guys! Whadda ya say about moving me up a spot or two (or 49)?
Stay tuned to The Ballhawk’s View for a few new entries coming tonight!
While I’m composing this entry, I’ll give you a brief synopsis…
Another wonderful day of Miller Park’s ushers:
(1) Flipping me the bird
(2) Literally taking baseballs away from children and keeping them
(3) Cursing at me profusely whilst having an anxiety attack/power trip, proceeding to
(4) Throw a folding chair (directly) at me
(5) Displaying signs of split personalities and bipolarity
Don’t you just love Miller Park? Oh yeah, I met All-time great ballhawk Rick Gold today, and I was inducted into the Brewers Hall of Fame, pictured below:
Full entry very soon!
Epic floods… Amazing floods…
100 year floods. Over the course of the past few days, the greater Milwaukee area has received upwards of 7 inches of rain in 5
hours. It poured, and poured, and poured and poured. Then it poured some more.
Then it slowed down, and then poured sheets.
Long story short, travel was
shut down for a day or so. You’d figure that Miller Park,
one of the only domed stadiums in Major League Baseball wouldn’t be affected by
any type of weather, let alone some silly 5 hour rain storm. But alas, the
Milwaukee Brewer’s flight would be delayed; they would land in Chicago and bus to Milwaukee… at around 6AM.
Not good for BP chances.
Upon arrival to the
ballpark, I knew something was fishy. Everything was going too well. No lines, ample parking and an upbeat attitude from most
of the ballpark staff. It was like the twilight zone. When I peeked onto the
field, the batting cage and nets were up and in place. The only thing lacking were
baseball players. There was literally no action on the field until about 4:45 PM, about 2 hours later than usual.
At that time, Randy Wolf
came out and began to prepare for a bullpen side-session.
Sitting so close to the men
at work was rather interesting, as you hear things you’d never get from TV or
the website. Wolf has been having trouble locating his “waste pitch” fastball
in recent games, and was working on a sinking fastball or a two-seamer of sorts
in the bullpen.
“Why haven’t you thrown this
before?” asked Brewers pitching coach and incredible sham Rick Peterson.
“I dunno.” Replied Randy “Wolf
Pack” Wolf. After he threw his warm up baseball to a some kids a few tables to
my right, the crowd of about 50 or so diners at Friday’s Front Row Grill fell
completely silent. Whispers and mutters all around, the tone changed almost
“Is that him?”
“Hall of Fame?”
All words thrown around
under people’s breath. Collectively, everyone’s neck muscles creaked as their
fields of vision shifted from Randy Wolf 10 feet below them to rookie phenom
Steven Strasburg, 200 feet in front of them. Near utter silence for 10 minutes
was broken when the patron next to me asked “is that him?”
When I replied with “Yeah,
Strasburg,” his face lit up. While 200 restaurant goers were picking their jaws
up off the floor, I swooped in for some nice action shots of the phenom in
Soon enough, the park would
open for business, and I would make my way directly behind Stephen Strasburg. A
few 8 or 9 year old kids were in the seating bowl about 30 minutes prior to
opening, but for some reason they didn’t position themselves directly behind
Stephen. So I capitalized on their rookie mistake:
See that ball that he’s
flipping? Moments later he concluded throwing, he underhanded that baseball to
Livan Hernandez, who promptly threw the baseball directly to me, for baseball #1 of the day and 1,005th
of my career. Here’s a close up of
the baseball, with the location of snagging behind it:
After collecting my own
piece of Strasburg-a-mania memorabilia, I headed out to right field to prepare
for slugger Adam Dunn. If you don’t recall, when Adam Dunn came to bat last
season against Brewer’s relief pitcher Carlos Villanueva, he lifted a moon shot
out of Miller Park
and onto the concourse, a retrieval that introduced the world to Ballhawk
Shawn. I maintain to this day that the home run was measured incorrectly, if the ball had bounced where they claim, I would
have caught the ball. Dunn’s home run last season flew 500 feet at the absolute
However, Dunn would only go
on to hit me baseball #2 and 1,006th
of my career during batting practice. Once the big bopper group had concluded,
I headed down to the dugout to try and obtain a Strasburg autograph.
When he trotted over to a
few kids anxiously waiting his presence, the place went absolutely wild. About
100 people jam packed into 2 rows of seats. I had a 13 or 14 year old kid stand on top of the seat behind me, proceed
to put his feet on my shoulders and leap-frog me. The trend continued
several times. Then, when someone tried to pick-pocket me in the scrum, I had
enough. I went berserk. Reaching around to feel my jostling wallet, I felt the
*******’s hand dart away. Someone had the nerve to unbutton my back pocket and
try to steal my wallet! Unbelievable. After signing about 5 autographs, Stephen
Strasburg noticed a small child in the front row getting completely smothered
and crying. Strasburg layed into the security guard behind him.
“You really gonna just let
that happen? This is outrageous; I’m done after this one.”
He walked away,
disappointedly shaking his head. If everyone would have acted like normal human
beings and lined up, probably all 100 of us would have taken away a piece of
history. But whatever, I got my Strasburg ball. I’m happy.
Fast forward to the game… It
was pretty uneventful. Corey Hart injured his wrist, hurting his trade value and
And another observation I
made during the game was that the National’s bullpen messes around. Profusely.
More than any other team I’ve seen. Pranks and jokes and talking to fans… it
was actually petty cool. Take a look at Drew Storen’s faces… and his Icy Hot elbow rub… and their gum wrapper frisbee contest:
During the game, relief
pitcher Miguel Bautista grabbed a pen and began to doodle on a baseball. I didn’t
know what he was writing or drawing, but I knew I NEEDED to have that baseball.
Long story short, I succeeded. Bullpen catcher Julian Martinez threw me the
graffiti-ed baseball, number 3 of the
day and 1,007th of my career. Upon further inspection, it would
seem like he was making an instructional baseball. He placed his fingers over the
black lines, and depending on how he varied the grip, the baseball would tail
or cut in the direction of the arrows. Pretty cool, huh?:
And that was all she wrote.
7/11/10: 1000th Career Baseball, 13th Career Home Run and 1st Career Ground Rule Double… ALL IN ONE DAY.
One day after snagging two
game home runs, I would be back at it again. First off, for the game, I would
be camera-less. I sincerely apologize. Long story short, my big night kept me
up late, blogging kept me up even later and rushing to the ballpark after 2
hours of sleep forced me to forget a few things. Luckily, my semi-on-field
performance would not waiver one bit. Though I only slept for 120 minutes, I
had dreams of the following picture:
Over the years, Sundays
would prove not to be my day. Early starts after long-lasting nightcaps, all
fan giveaways and an almost certain lack of batting practice all work against
me on the day of rest. I’ve put up a career average in the area of just over 2
baseballs per game on Sundays. Needless to say, that’s frankly disappointing.
When I arrived at the
ballpark that morning, I was fully aware of the fact that my 5th
baseball on the day would be my 1,000th on my career. I was also
fully aware of my 2 baseball average on Sundays. I would either have to:
(A) Luck out and have a huge
(B) Have a typical Sunday,
work my tail off and risk making my 1,000th snag a possibly mediocre
post-game bat boy toss up or
(C) Snag one baseball, keep
my streak alive and wait out the 2 week long break and attempt obtain my 1,000th
from Steven Strasburg, whom would visit Miller Park
on the next home stand.
To be completely honest,
option C seemed, prior to entering the ballpark, like the most attractive and
Before we move any further,
let’s take a step back and look at the significance of that four digit number…
1,000. Prior to July 11th of 2010, only two ballhawks in America have ever been extensively documented as reaching one
thousand. One is the pioneer of the sport, Zack Hample, and the other is 33
year veteran John Witt. I was in attendance when Milwaukee‘s own 15 year veteran Nick Yohanek cracked a grand
two seasons ago. Of course, there is the possibility of people flying under the
radar, miscalculations and flat out unimportance to some people, but its safe
to say less than 15 people have ever accomplished the one thousand ball mark. Not
to brag or blow my own horn, but if Ballhawking had a Hall of Fame, a ballhawk
with a 1,000+ career would be considered “a no-doubter.”
With that said, there was a
lot on my mind whilst waiting at the front of the line. Who’s going to hit it
my way? Do I try and make it a game home run or do I snag it during BP? Which
player should I attempt to obtain it from? Will I even do it today? When time
came to enter the ballpark, I was met with even more inquiries. An usher asked
me if I was “the guy who caught the Fielder home run”. Upon answering, the 15
or 20 people around me were absolutely intrigued. After answering as many
questions, my pseudo-press conference concluded, the turnstiles were functional
and I was off running.
Hoping for batting practice,
I entered Miller Park‘s
right field gate, the gate closest to my preferred ballhawking location. I
cannot describe to you how excited I was when the batting cage crept into my jostling
field of vision. Mid-stride, I fist pumped, almost as to preeminently celebrate
the impending milestone. I knew fate was on my side.
Upon arrival in right field,
I found myself alone in exception to Milwaukee Brewer’s right fielder Corey
Hart. The Home Run Derby participant and hottest hitter in baseball and I had a
“You’re going to win it,
Corey. I can feel it. You’re the man.”
“Thanks,” replied the soft
spoken giant with a hand wave. Moments after our conversation faded, he fielded
a deep line drive, turned around and hurled me this baseball, my 1st
of the day and 996th of my career:
Soon enough, I had my
baseball labeled and neatly tucked away and was ready to continue forging my
path into ballhawking history. About 10 minutes after Hart delivered my 996th,
Jim Edmonds lifted a deep, deep line drive about 15 feet to my left. Backpedaling,
almost sideways, I reach full extent at full speed. Over my shoulder, I reach
up, and haul in this baseball, the 997th of my career:
I didn’t have to wait long
to obtain number 998. The next batter in the cage would be Brewers’ stud 3B
Casey McGehee. Instead of playing home run derby during his final swings, he
poked a fly ball out to right center that would barely squeak past the outfield
wall. I didn’t catch this one on the fly, however. I was too busy labeling and
storing away number 997. Luckily, I was almost alone out in right field. I put
the previous baseball away, searched for the McGehee ball and eventually picked
up number 998 on the career:
When the first group of
Brewers hitters concluded, I was sitting incredibly close to history, with 3
more groups of Brewers hitters and 4 of Pirates hitters, I knew it would happen
today… I just didn’t know how. Prince Fielder would soon be stepping to the
plate, and after that the Pirates would send 6 left handed power hitters to the
dish. I had settled on the goal of
catching a Prince Fielder BP blast for my 1,000th.
An unidentified Brewer’s
right handed hitter sent a line drive out near the visiting bullpen. When Joe
Inglett came to retrieve the ball, I acted on ballhawking impulse. Number 999
isn’t that important… compared to
what would be coming. I raised my glove, moved it side to side, and shouted out
“Whadaya say, Joey?!”
Joe responded with something
to the effect of “How’s it going bud,” he flipped me this baseball for number
999 and I was on… well… cloud nine:
After I thanked Joey, he
walked away to the right field corner to talk with a few of the Brewers bullpen
pitchers, bullpen coach Stan Kyles, and, most notably Brewers manager Ken
After that, a few baseballs
were hit and took incredibly lucky
bounces towards me. I passed on about three baseballs, wanting the 1,000th
to be “special”. On one of the above mentioned occasions, a Fielder blast hit
about 30 feet behind me, rolled and caromed around and ended up literally 18
inches from my feet. I let it sit about 45 seconds before a few 20-something girls
walked by. I got their attention and said “you guys can have that if you want
it,” pointing to the baseball. It took them a few moments to comprehend what
was going on, but as soon as they caught on they went bananas. It was quite a
thrill for them.
Lets take a step back for a
second here… I’ve been a Ken Macha supporter for quite some time. Ever since he
took the Athletics deep into the playoffs all the way to his hiring in Milwaukee. As a baseball fan, I appreciate his managerial
style and as a person, he’s a pretty cool guy. Of the few times I’ve met Ken,
he’s been awesome. I can’t say enough about his politeness and intelligence. He’s
quite the Civil War scholar and has a few colorful things to say (off the
record) about a number of things. Macha has been my, and Doug Melvin’s, guy.
Whenever I’m in the presence
of an MLB manager, I make it a point to call him “skipper” or “boss” and tip my
cap in respect. Macha is absolutely no exception. Shortly after Joe Inglett
sent 999 my way, another baseball was hit to literally the same spot on the
field. Only this time, Manager Ken Macha, fungo bat and all, would meander over
to right center field and retrieve several baseballs. Plenty of people had made
their way to the front row of the bleachers and began yelling at Ken. All of
them would call him “coach” and demand a baseball rather rudely; purveying the
fact they weren’t dedicated or respectful fans. Macha ignored about 5 requests
and hit as many baseballs back to the infield. I leaned over the railing about
15 feet above Ken, knowing fully well what a tossup would yield, and soft, but
firmly shouted “How’s it going skipper?” Ken looked up with a huge smile on his
face. I tipped my cap to Kenny and he asked how I was doing. After I responded
with “Absolutely wonderfully, how about yourself,” Ken Macha muttered something
and underhanded me my 1,000th career baseball:
I was ecstatic. I wanted to
hoot and holler and jump and jive and it took all my might to keep my
composure. I kept silent with a beaming smile, turned my back to the field and
had a brief moment of silence and self reflection. It was only a few short
years ago I was fielding my first career baseball, a gloveless kid at a
midseason interleague match up, from my all time-favorite baseball player Ron
Villone. Now, a mere 226 games later, I was reeling in my 1,000th.
All the great moments of my ballhawking life flashed before my eyes, everything
from my 1st baseball, to my 1st gamer, to my world-record
32 ball performance to my home run catches the night before. After thanking God
for blessing me beyond my wildest dreams, I had a peculiar feeling. The
greatest moments are yet to come.
Snap back into reality and
back into the game… minutes after I recorded my historic 1,000th baseball,
the Brewers began to trot off the field and I changed into my Pirates hat. Over
the course of the series, the Pirates became uncannily aware of who I am and
what I’ve recently accomplished.
The first game of the
series, LHP Javier Lopez asked how many baseballs I had. After I told him I was
(at that point in time) 15 away from 1,000, he looked at me with a shocked look
and sent #986 my way. Ross Ohlendorf had used me as part of a prank on fellow
starter and Yankee farmhand Jeff Karstens… during the Pirates trip to Miller Park
in late April, Ohlendorf and Karstens were playing pre-BP catch near the tarp
in left field. Towards the end of their catch session, probably on the last
throw, Ohlendorf, whipped a 90-something fastball about 3 feet to the left of
Karsten’s glove hand. Since Karstens had his back to the stands, he had no idea
what transpired. He quickly turned around, frantically looking for a crying
child or bleeding woman. All he saw was me, standing like a statue, framing
Ohlendorf’s pitch. All three of us share a laugh and a thumbs up and move on to
other BP-related activities.
This time around, Ross
Ohlendorf and I shared another peculiar moment. Baseball people know the
pitchers are the dumbest guys on the field. With this said they try and rob
home runs during BP and impersonate the guys that play behind them when they
take the mound. Ryan Church lifted a moon shot right at Ross Ohlendorf and I.
Sprinting backwards, Ross climbs the wall, reaches up to grab the ball, and I
sort of rob his robbery attempt. Seconds after I catch the ball only about 10
feet above Ross’ glove, he slams his it on the ground in anger and goes on a
tirade. I shout “Sorry, Ross.” He turns to me and says “Naw, it’s alright. I
was pretending that was the last out of the World Series!” Later on Ross and I
would have a discussion about how Andrew McCutchen likes to lay down after tracking
lazy fly balls and catch them with his back on the turf and how it’s the bee’s
knees with the pitching staff. The Pirates are the most fan friendly team in
baseball, hands down.
Recently acquired pitcher
Sean Gallagher threw me 1,001, without request. The rest of Pirates BP was
pretty dead until the second or third last ball put in play. It was a fly ball
sent into shallow right field, about 50 feet infront of me and 40 feet from the
wall. Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf race to the ball and fight over who gets
to field it. Ohlendorf comes up the victor and they have a brief discussion.
Both of them look to me, flailing their arms in the air to get my attention. He
throws me the ball without my asking and the moment ball number 1,002 hits my
web, BP is over. After I thank the duo, they trot into the dugout… game time.
Cut to the top of the 2nd
inning… Pirates OF and former Met’s super-prospect Lastings “Blasting” Milledge
hit a home run to dead center field. See the guy in the yellow shirt all the
way to the right of the screen? That’s me. The ball landed on the X:
It was there that Carlos
Gomez tossed me my 3rd game home run in 2 days, and my 1,003rd
career baseball. It was a pretty bland
snag. I was the only one asking for the baseball. After I caught Carlos’ throw,
I held up three fingers, for three gamers, in an effort to gain the color
commentator’s attention, but to no avail. Here are a few shots of the baseball.
See the mark where “M” for “Milledge” is tattooed on the ball from his bat?
Here’s the video.
Fast forward to the bottom
of the 9th inning… Utility man and borderline hall-of-fame
outfielder Jim Edmonds hits a ground rule double right under my trademark
section. Long story short, Miller Park
is a very ground rule double-friendly-ballpark, but a very ballhawk-unfriendly
one as well. With that said, I’ve never snagged a ground rule double, and doing
so was added to my ballhawking bucket list, posted a few months back. I figured
I’d have to do it on a road trip or just get extremely lucky… until today. When
Andrew McCutchen’s hands went up, as to call “time”, I was all over the ball.
“‘Cutch” I began to scream and flail my arms.
He tossed me my 1st career GRD, 1,004th career baseball
and 9th of the day. I labeled the baseball, set it away for safe
keeping, and moments later, Corey Hart hit a walk off home run. Everyone left
happy, but none happier than I.
And so concluded the best series of my
ballhawking career… so far. Better days will come, soon. Thanks for reading and be sure to comment!
The day had begun rather
uneventfully. I hadn’t taken any pictures until things heated up, so bear with
me. Upon arrival at the ballpark, my traveling party and I had attempted to
book a table at Friday’s Front Row Sports Grille in left field. The host rudely
instructed us otherwise.
“In ten minutes they’ll be
ready. Go away and come back later.” Shocking. The thing that really got on my
nerves is that I would be forced to spend valuable BP time indoors, in the
confines of the roofed restaurant.
Whilst waiting and steaming,
I counted 4 baseballs that landed in the vicinity of our table. Twenty minutes
later, we returned to the host’s podium.
“Come back in 10 minutes,
we’re having a meeting,” she quipped. Without having a chance to give her a
piece of my mind in regards to her unprofessionalism, she turned around and
swiftly vacated the public part of the restaurant. After waiting another 10 minutes, we were seated
outdoors in deep left field, prime and ready for a big day of ‘hawking… until I
realized that instead of having a “meeting” as previously stated, the Friday’s
staff cleared the area of Easter eggs, while failing to remove bird feces from
diner’s tables. Amazing. Don’t eat at anything “Friday’s”. They’re extremely
unprofessional and flat out rude. My view during the meal:
Anyways, with the lack of
Easter eggs combined with early gate times, my (crappy) Friday’s experience was
cut short and I remained baseball-less. Upon the opening of the stadium, I
positioned myself in right center field, where the tempo was upped. Nearly
immediately, my request for a baseball en
Espanol paid off. Brewer’s shortstop and extremely overrated prospect
Alcides Escobar whipped a ball, #1 of
the day and 989 of my career.
And that would be all the
Milwaukee Brewers would provide for me today… during batting practice. More on
their in-game gifts later. Upon
assuming the batting cage, the Pittsburgh Pirates wasted no time in upping my
totals. Ryan Doumit lifted two line drives in my direction, which I snared
rather easily, providing me my 2nd and 3rd
baseballs of the day, and the 990th and 991st of my
career. Pedro Alvarez send the 4th
and 992nd to the pocket of my glove 5 minutes later, and Delwyn
Young batted me my 5th and
993rd. Once again, the day was rather ordinary, so I failed to
take detailed pictures until this point. I’m sorry; you’ll just have to bear
with me on this.
Towards the end of batting
practice, I heard my mother calling my name from about 20 feet behind me. She’s
surprisingly and avid ballhawk and proficient memorabilia collector. Last
season, she was pegged in the chest by an errant Octavio Dotel throw to Jose
Contreras. Long story short, Octavio has taken care of my mom since with
autographs and baseballs and whatnot. After a brief conversation above the
dugout, Dotel departed to the outfield at the same time Garrett Jones was
entering the dugout. After getting to the top step, Jones placed his bat on the
roof of the dugout and attempted to push it to Sue, my mother. It stopped a bit
short, and Pirates bullpen catcher and all around great guy Herbie Andrade gave
the bat a final nudge, directly to us. Score! A few shots of the bat:
After inspecting the bat for
cracks and marks and anything else interesting, I put the bat down and picked
my glove up. I’d need it shortly.
During the bottom of the 3rd
inning, Brewer’s LF and All-star Ryan Braun stepped to the plate. Two seasons
ago, in 2008. I caught his 55th career home run and his first as an
All-star. His making of the team was announced in the top of the inning, and he
bashed me the baseball in the bottom of the inning. Tonight, I would snag his 116th career home run and my 994th
career baseball. Brauny lifted a line drive to deep left center. Check the
video out HERE. The ball took
a miracle bounce here:
And was thrown to me by
Andrew McCutchen here:
After I snapped back into
reality, I began to inspect the ball. It was the standard game home run… the
special rub, the bat mark and the landing abrasion. My day couldn’t get any
better, could it? Oh, it could get MUCH better. And it did, a mere 6 pitches
later. Prince Fielder lifted a moon shot about 30 feet to my left. I set
Braun’s gem down, throw the glove on, and sprint to my left. In a group of
about 4 people vying for the sailing ball, I was the tallest fan, as well as
the only one with a glove. Second’s after Prince sent the ball into orbit, it
crashed directly into the web of my glove, right here:
I proceeded to go absolutely bananas. I hopped and jumped like crazy, fist pumped
like a champion while screaming “F**k yeah” at the top of my lungs. If you
watch the video (HERE),
you’ll see me raise two fingers. That’s not to say “peace” or “victory” that’s
to say “two gamers”. Watch my mouth, I’m saying “that’s two!”
A few interesting things
happened immediately after I caught Prince
Fielder’s 180th career home run, my 12th career blast,
and 995th career baseball. A woman who has season tickets a few
seats down from mine and I have a little history. She’s got a passion against
ballhawks and a vendetta against yours truly. She hates to see me get batting
practice balls, let alone game home runs. As soon as I came down with Fielder’s
blast, (off camera) she punches me in the
arm, back and neck region 5-10 times. I’m not sure if she was trying to jar
the ball loose or what. She swore at me a few times and told me it isn’t fair I
caught it. She told me I threw her kid out of the way. After (un)politely
letting her know she was full of S**t, I walked away, hands raised in jubilee.
Upon turning my back, she kicked me pretty hard in the back of the knee cap.
Upon review of the play, no children were knocked down. In fact, they were
running scared of the baseball. Watch the video and decide for yourself. Lady,
you know who you are, you’re probably reading and you know you’re a wench. I
win. You lose. Deal with it and act like
the adult you claim to be. Don’t worry, she didn’t ruin my day. She isn’t
even a blip on my radar.
A shot of the
After catching the two
gamers and completing my second career two-home run game, I attempted to track
down an MLB authenticator. Long story short, I was unsuccessful in getting my
baseballs authenticated, but I did make it pretty far up the ladder. The
Brewers staff actually handled the situation uncharacteristically
I’ll leave you with a few
random thoughts and pictures from my mammoth day:
During the broadcast, Bill
Schroeder gave me a shout out and said “and that’s a nice catch!”. Thanks,
Rock! You’ll be seeing me do that more, I promise!
Billy’s partner, Craig
Coshun, wondered if the “P” on my Pirates hat stood for “Prince or power”.
Whatever floats your boat, Craig. I know you think I’m a Pittsburgher, but I’m
just a ballhawk. Common mistake. You’ll see me catch a few more relatively
If you text messaged me or
called me after my back to back plays and I didn’t respond, I’m sorry. My phone
just went too ape and I turned it off.
I’ll have an entry up very, very soon. I had an opportunity to meet MyGameBalls.com founder Alan Schuster during 6/13’s Brewers/Rangers game, and even better, I helped him track down his 1st career game home run. More soon.
All the rare pitching feats
occurring in the Major Leagues this season made me wonder what any good
ballhawk or baseball fan can’t help but contemplate: What connection do I have to history? I’ll share a few of
my ballhawking experience with you that closely link me to baseball history.
On May 29th of
2010, Denver native Harold Leroy Halladay, III, better known as
“Roy” or “Doc”, became the 20th pitcher in Major League baseball
history to throw a perfect game. That’s 27 men up, 27 men down… the minimum
amount of batters faced. The rare feat came against the Florida Marlins, one of
the leagues more formidable lineups.
Rewind to June of 2008. As a
younger ballhawk, I would identify opposing players and make my sole goal for
the series to obtain a toss up or batted ball from the individual player. When
the Toronto Blue Jays visited Miller Park,
I Roy Halladay found himself in my sights. While playing catch in the left field
corner, I politely notified Roy I
was his “biggest fan”. He had been one of my favorite pitchers for quite some
time. After throwing, he tossed his warm-up ball right to my extended glove,
and another fan promptly snatched said ball from my grasp. Disgusted, Roy searched for another baseball. Upon finding one, he
rocketed a strike right into my awaiting webbing. Mr. Halladay was even classy
enough to sign the ball for me.
When the Brewers squared off
against the Colorado Rockies to being the 2010 season, I was in attendance for
all three games. On day one, aces Yovani Gallardo and Ubaldo Jimenez took the rubber,
battling against each other in a gem of a game. Jimenez edged out Gallardo, lifting
the Rockpile above the Crew. The next day, I arrived rather early to the
ballpark. It was a rainy and bleak day; you didn’t see too many people outside.
When players arrive at Miller Park, they’re dropped off under the loading bay, out of
public view and past several security checkpoints. When the drunkards or those
without licenses arrive at Miller Park
via taxi, they’re dropped off on the other side of the stadium, near the ticket
windows. Thanks to some chance twist of luck, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge de la Rosa
and Manuel Corpas were dropped off in the general parking lot. Our paths
crossed, and I struck up a conversation with Ubaldo and company. Inside, Mr.
Jimenez must have remembered me, because he came right over and signed a (not
so beautiful) autograph for me and those accompanying me.
One of the reasons I love
ballhawking is you get to take home a piece of the game. The only feeling more
rewarding than actually throwing the perfect game or having a sub-1.00 ERA is
being able to hold in your hands a piece of memorabilia from those players
meant specifically for you, linking you to history. On the night of Halladay’s
perfect game, I broke out his tossup autographed ball and clutched it while
watching his highlights. The same goes for Jimenez’s baseball every time his
jaw-dropping 0.78 ERA flashes across SportCenter’s “bottom line”.
My dream as a child was to be the player shattering and resetting records. That may not have come true, but through ballhawking I still get my hands on and get to experience much more of the dream than anyone else can say they have.