8/22/09 Pirates vs. Reds

Welcome to PNC Park!

            This was just an amazing day all around. I could tell you just the highlights right now, but I think that it is better to start from the beginning.

            My first stop for this game wasn’t inside PNC Park, it was the walkway outside the stadium. Some balls land there, maybe 5 or 6 during the entire batting practice, and most of them land in the Allegheny River. The walkway is in front of the river, then there is a grass hill, then a part of the stadium known as the “Riverwalk”, and then the seats. There were 3 other Ballhawks out there, Erik, Nick, and Bryan (Nick is a member of the Ballhawk League and Erik is the founder).

The Riverwalk

Nothing came over so with 10 minutes to spare we went to the gate.

I was the 6th one inside and all the ballhawks had either the foul line or the Lower Bleachers covered, so I decided to go into the Upper Bleachers. And lo and behold in the first row was an Easter Egg, which I took a photo of it before I picked it up:Easter Egg!

And then I picked up the very scuffed ball for my 1st ball.
Scuff on Baseball3

Then I went down to the un-crowded Lower Bleachers. If you ever want a sure fire ball then a scenario would be:

A)    The seats are fairly empty

Empty Seats4

 

B)    It’s still early.

C)    A ball is caught right in front of you on the warning track.

D)    You know the (unknown) guy’s name.

That was about the scenario for when Joel Hanrahan caught a ball in front of me. There might be another person who would know the guy’s name, so then you have to hope Joel picks you out. Another kid asked for it also, and Joel turned to throw it to him, but then he turned back to me and tossed me my 2nd ball.

Ball No. 240

Two balls landed on the warning track, and I could’ve done the glove trick on them, but Denny Bautista retrieved them. I said to Denny:

“Leave it there, I can get it!” But he didn’t. He started walking back towards the bucket, so I thought that all hope was lost, but then he randomly turned around, looked at me, and threw me my 3rd ball, which had an incredibly off-center practice stamp.
Off-Center Practice Stamp1

            I guess part of this “amazing day” was due to the fact that I could get anywhere in the stadium for all of BP, while on other days I would be confined to Left Field. I used that to my advantage when I noticed a ball lying on the dirt at the third base foul line (which I neglected to take a photo of because I was in a rush).

            I thought that I could glove trick it, so I ran out of the left field bleachers, up the escalator, down some steps, into a cross-aisle and then down some stairs into the handicap seating area. I took out some string from my glove and tossed it out, but I realized that it was too little string. So I pulled my glove back and threw it out again. It landed beyond the ball, so I pulled the ball closer a bit. I pulled the glove back once more and this time I got it right behind the ball and pulled it back as hard as I could. The ball rolled right to the wall and I reached down and grabbed my 4th ball.

Lifetime Ball No. 242

Now I wanted to maximize my total baseballs for the two games at PNC because I wanted to get 80 for the trip, so I gave my brother baseballs to get autographs when I couldn’t. And he did, he got me three Reds: Jared Burton, Carlos Fisher, and Drew Stubbs for my 1st, 2nd and 3rd autographs respectively. And I will say this every time he gets me an autograph to avoid complaints; an autograph is different from a baseball.

There was no other action on the foul line, and the other ballhawks pretty much had the outfield covered, so I moved down to the dugout. What I saw was about 9 balls lying within 15 feet from the dugout’s top step. Here’s a bit to the right, 5 are on the tarp:

5 Baseballs Lying Near Dugout

Here’s to the left, 3 baseballs are RIGHT there:

3 Baseballs Lying Near Dugout

This is a time where I wish I was at the Metrodome, the seats were on top of the dugout. Some players picked them up, like Tony Beasley. He picked up a ball at one end of the dugout and I was at the other end of the dugout. I called out his name and he tossed me the ball, my 5th ball. It had an odd black mark going from one section to another, and it’s speckled a bit. I had gotten other balls similar to this, but it was a solid, darking black line, so I have no idea what gave the ball this.
Odd Marking on Ball No. 243

I forgot how long this happened after Ball No. 5, but I saw one guy walk a couple rows back and look in the seats for something. I also saw Ballhawk Nick running towards my area. I asked the guy what happened and he said:

“A ball was hit into the seats.” He looked for about 10 seconds and then he gave up, but I looked until I found the ball, which was resting on the ground about 2 sections over. I went over and picked up the ball, my 6th ball, an unexpected baseball acquisition.

Baseball No. 244

No here is one of the weirdest baseballs that I have ever gotten. I asked Brandon Moss (who was batting) for a ball that he was near. He picked it up and tossed it to me, which I easily caught for my 7th ball. Now this is where it gets weird, I didn’t noticed this until later that it had a commemorative logo. A very faint and scuffed up logo, not from this year.

But before I tell you, how often is it that you get a ball from a year ago? Maybe it common at Citi Field, but not so in other places. How about a ball from two years ago? Maybe once in every thousand or so balls given out. Five years? Maybe in every 20,000 balls given out this year. What about 7 years ago? I’d say that is extremely unlikely. The ball I got was from 2002. And this is where it gets weirder, the ball wasn’t even used by this team, or any team that the Pirates or Reds ever played. It wasn’t even used by any Major League Baseball team, Minor League Team, or Independent League Team. Heck, it wasn’t even used on this continent, or any piece of land connected to North America (I.E. South America and Central America). The only way you could get to this island is by air or sea. Know what ball it is yet?

All-Star Series 02

It was a baseball from the 2002 All-Star Series, held in Japan! Ohmygod. I didn’t even know that these even existed, let alone were still around. This is like getting a ball from the All-Star Game in 2002, wait it’s even rarer than that. It’s like getting a ball from the 1996 All-Star Game. The commemorative logo says: “All Star Series {MLB Hologram} 02” in case you can’t read it in the photo above. In the photo below I can barely read it:
*Official Ball* 2002 Japan ____ Series

“*Official Ball*

2002 Japan {something} Series

{Somebody’s unknown signature}”.

Can anybody get me a photo of this ball that you read what I can’t? And have you ever gotten a ball this random? I was clueless when I first read it. I thought it was a promotion for a video game, and then I thought it was for the All-Star Game, and then I knew it was from Japan. So crazy stuff, back to BP.

            I got one more ball at the dugout before the end of BP, it was from Gary Varsho. It was too easy. There was not a single other person asking for baseballs. I called out for it, and he tossed me my 8th ball.

Lifetime Ball No. 246

            I did catch one more thing at the dugout before the Reds started hitting, when the Pirates were coming in. Don’t blame me because it hit the dugout before I could get it. Jason Jaramillo came in, made the “are you ready to catch it” symbol by faking a toss, and then he tossed it to me. It hit the dugout roof because I wasn’t prepared, but I still got my 1st game used item of the day, his bat.
Jason Jaramillo Bat1

Jason Jaramillo BP Bat. This was one part of the amazing day, and the most amazing part of it! I was expecting not to get a ball this year, the first year since 2004. It was luck, and so is most of the bats I got. Remember how I wrote that bat entry earlier? 4 of the times I didn’t ask for a bat, and one time I knew he was giving it to me. But on the other 3, the best tips I can give you are to:

1)      Be at the dugout, especially the visiting team’s dugout.

2)      Remember who breaks their bat.

3)      Use past experiences. Who have you heard stories of being incredibly nice?

4)      Focus on getting one late in the season when they no longer need as many bats, and a few broken ones may be lying around.

            At first I couldn’t figure out why he would give me the bat. There were no obvious signs of disrepair, but after a little while I saw that one piece of the bat splintered a bit.

Jason Jaramillo Bat2

It was his BP bat, he could’ve just taped it up, and I mean it was a small break. But I guess he did want to risk injuring anyone in batting practice. So here are some photos of the bat, a “C271” bat:
Jason Jaramillo Bat3

Apparently it is the 125th Anniversary of Louisville Slugger:

Jason Jaramillo Bat4

And apparently this bat became the property of Jason on March 26 of this year:

Jason Jaramillo Bat5

            I got my bat and then set my sights on double digits, but I didn’t care if I got that because it was amazing to get a bat. But when the Pirates came in a couple started signing, so I got there autographs. The first person I got was Brian Bixler. He started signing towards the home plate edge of the dugout, so I waited until he pointed to me and he signed my 4th autograph. Then Princeton graduate Ross Ohlendorf started signing down the foul line where some players and coaches go in through a tunnel. I got over there and had him sign my 5th autograph.

Ross Ohlendorf1

And then Joe Kerrigan was called over and he started signing. I got him while he was standing in the tunnel for my 6th autograph. Here are the three Pirates’ autographs:
Brian Bixler, Ross Ohlendorf, and Joe Kerrigan Autographs

Top Left: Brian Bixler. Bottom Left: Ross Ohlendorf. Bottom Right: Joe Kerrigan.

            I headed back towards the outfield and gave my brother back the baseballs and then got an amazing bounce on a ball hit out there. I was standing in the middle of a row when a ball was hit to my left. I knew it was going out, so I ran to my left through the row that now has a kid walking with a red shirt and jacket on his shoulder:

Pirates BP Crowd1

            The ball was going into the bullpen, specifically a part of the bullpen that forms a triangle.

Triangle

            I was about 1 ½ sections from where the ball landed, and by the time it land I was ½ a section from where it landed. Most of the people had given up because they saw it land in the bullpen, but I was running full speed still and I kept running. The ball bounced off the floor, off the back wall and back into the seats. (“Never has a ball bounced out of the bullpen,” Ballhawk Nick said). It landed right where I was, and I caught it on the move and on the fly for my 9th ball of the day.

Practice Stamp, Ball No. 247

I wouldn’t have gotten the ball had I not had the empty row to run through (which in the photo below has a kid walking through it):

That ball was my last of BP. I failed to make it to the dugout for the end of BP, but I was in RF and saw some Reds signing at the foul line, so I ran over there.

As I got there I got a couple autographs:

Jay Bruce signed my 8th autograph at the line (I neglected to get a photo of him)

Laynce Nix signed my 9th autograph closer to the dugout (I got a photo of him):

Laynce Nix Signing1

Chris Dickerson signed my 10th autograph in the camera pit (another photo):
Chris Dickerson Signing1

And Finally Adam Rosales signed my 11th autograph a bit to my right (I got a photo of him):


Adam Rosales Signing1

There was nothing to do, so I waited until there was some pre-game action. I had seats at the dugout because I didn’t know how crabby or strict security would be (they were). But that allowed me to get the autograph of one of my favorite pitchers who was signing at the dugout: Micah Owings. I got him for my 12th autograph of the night, but it wasn’t my last.
Micah Owings Signing1

I went over to the foul line and got Wladimir Balentein to sign my 13th autograph when he came over to sign for some college girls.
Wladimir Balentein Signing1
 

I also got a baseball tossed to me.

Paul Janish brought out a baseball to play catch with Adam Rosales at the foul line. I have been noticing recently that sometimes the baseballs used to play catch with belong to the player it was brought out with. But that didn’t happen. Adam was farther away from me and he ended up with the ball. But that didn’t stop me from getting it as I easily got him to toss me my 10th baseball, the one that broke double digits for the night! The 5th time this season.
Adam Rosales Tossing Me My 10th Ball 82209

Remember how I said security was extremely strict? I had seats in the middle of the row on the wrong end of the dugout, so I couldn’t go for baseballs over there, and the competition was intense as it seemed that about 15 little kids had aisle or first row seats. So yeah it was extremely difficult. I was shut out or the first third of the night. The kids at the other end of the dugout ended up with the balls. Then I was shut out for the second third of the night. Billy Hatcher ended up giving up about 12 balls through the night, but I didn’t get a ball from him. And then the final third of the night came. What did I get? A ball!

            Jared Burton struck out Garret Jones (strike out a meaner person next time) and then Craig Tatum walked in with the ball. He pointed at me, flipped the ball in the air to his other hand and threw me a strike for my 11th ball.

Craig Tatum Baseball1

            That was my last baseball. I was hoping to get another, but it wasn’t meant to be. 7 of the 11 baseaballs had a practice stamp on the sweetspot.

Practice, Practice, Practice Stamps

I did get enjoy KC & The Sunshine Band for longer than an hour.

KC & The Sunshine Band

So the night ended with a little music at a baseball stadium, the second time this year for me.

Haul from 8/22/09

Stats:

  • 11 MLB Balls Today
  • 13 MLB Autographs Today
  • 1 Game Used Item Today
  • 176 MLB Autographs in this Season
  • 215 Total Autographs in this Season
  • 249 MLB Balls in this Season
  • 270 Total Balls in this Season
  • 7 Thrown, 2 Hit, 1 Found, 1 Glove Trick
  • 9 BP, 1 Pre-Game, 1 During
  • Attendance: 32,570
  • Competition Factor: 358,270
  • 6.39 Balls / 1 Game
  • 39 Consecutive Games with at least 3 MLB Baseballs
  • 29 Consecutive Games with at least 1 MLB Autograph
  • 24 Consecutive Games with at least 4 MLB Baseballs

7 comments

  1. baseballexperiences

    Damn ALex, what a trip. I want that bat extremelly bad. I hope to get a bonus item @ one of the 3 citi games, ive only got a batting glve before, this year from CHris DIckerson. could u print out that fake ticket for me for next friday? see ya then

    baseballexperiences.mlblogs.com

  2. goislanders4

    the bat i got from corey hart looks EXACTLY like that bat (except its corey harts). but yeah, that 125th year thing is cool, i guess all luisville sluggers have that or something

  3. Alex

    Joe – It is difficult to get stuff this year in NY. In previous years I would literally hop over the barricade behind home plate after games so I could get to the dugout, and this year it is much more difficult. Citi you can only be on top of the dugout, so it is hard to get a bat after the game unless they appear out from the dugout. And I have to convince my dad about Friday, but if so, I’ll meet you at the gates and give you a copy.
    Howie – Now that I look at it I see the “All-Star” Thanks, I wasn’t sure.
    Clif – I think all sluggers do have it. Did you get the bat in the same way? And to answer your comment from before, the Twins are on the third base side.

  4. baseballexperiences

    yea thats reason 1,427,648 that new york sucks for collecting stuff. i hope u can convince ur dad to go, itd be nice to finally meet. if its too much hassle, dont bother making a copy, only if it doesnt make a diff.

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