Well holy crap…

Life sure can get in the way of things. Between looking for an apartment, work, and other random events life throws at you, I haven’t had much time to update this. Since my last post, I snagged a decent number of balls but I’m just going to give a quick rundown of some of the more memorable ones and post a few pictures.

 

  • 8-31-11 – Caught a Homer Bailey batting practice homer on the fly, and from my notes I remember one of the Reds outfielders noticed the catch… Jay Bruce. He scowled at me when I caught it. Later that day, Roy Halladay threw me my 50th ball of the year. A few minutes after that I got my first glove trick ball. One of the Phillies players hit it onto the batter’s eye and no one could reach it. I flung my glove out, reeled it in, and picked it up over the glass. Roy Hallady and Kyle Kendrick watched the whole thing and seemed amused.
  • I also met the one and only Zack Hample. He put up some huge numbers when he was in town, breaking the GABP record. Now too bad for him, it won’t last a full season because I’m takin’ it from him this year.
  • 9-21-11 – Last game of the year, it was a rainy day. No BP, so I was expecting a shutout. I went down to the Reds dugout hoping for anything, figuring I might get an autograph. Then Bryan Price comes walking in and flips a ball to a little kid. Lo and behold, he flips another one towards me and two other fans. I thought he was trying to get it to a guy behind me, so I was letting it go but I saw it was coming perfectly towards me so I caught it. Lifetime ball number 95 and number 74 on the season. Woo! Afterwards I went over to the Astros side, and got Mark Melancon’s autograph on my hat, and Clint Barmes and JB Shuck signed my ticket. A nice parking attendant also got me a Nick Masset autograph.
  • In other baseball related news, I got a couple autographs at RedsFest. Logan Ondrusek signed my picture I took of him that one 1st place in a contest and Yonder Alonso, Drew Stubbs, and Bryan Price each signed a ball that they’d either hit or thrown to me.

So I ended the season with a 2.47 average on 74 balls. Not too bad for a sophomore season I don’t think. Now for some pics, starting with me and the King

And then the GABP Ballhawks. Well, 3 of us anyway.

Mr. Joey Votto

A foul ball, and yes, the kid caught it.

I also went to a couple football games

And that’s about it. Other than that, I’ve been kicked out, got flowers sent to me from a “secret admirer”, had to quit a job after 2 days because of a bum ankle, and decided to enroll in a photography school to help with my hopeful photography career. Now back to planning my vacation to Florida… I’ll still keep up with this if I have anything interesting to post. Since I’ll be doing a photography course I’m sure I’ll have some good photos to post soon.

8-29-11, Phillies at Reds

This day was both amazing and miserable. Amazing for what happened before BP started and after, but terrible for what happened during batting practice. I was rushing a little bit since I needed to pick up a Phillies shirt and I got off work late, but I already had a hat. I went and got my ticket for BP then headed out to a stand where they sell gear where I got a nice shirt for 15 bucks. That’s when it hit me – I left my hat in my mom’s van and she already left. I called to see how far she was and luckily she was still close by so she swung back around and dropped it off. While I was waiting outside the Hall of Fame, a regular at GABP and part time ballhawk asked me if I had a sharpie on me. When I asked if he wanted red or black, a familiar face walked up. The man was getting some photos signed and asked me if I knew who he was. Obviously I did, and I pulled out my notebook and asked if he could sign for me, and he only would if I was going to be at the game. I told him I was a season ticket holder and he obliged my request. Bonus points to whoever can recognize the name.

Not long after I got his autograph I got my Phillies hat and headed back in to meet up with my grandma and fellow ballhawk and friend Jim.  When we got in the seats in right field and looked for eggs… nothing. No eggs at all for me. I only got one ball during batting practice and it was a home run by Fred Lewis. I didn’t catch it but hey, it still counts.

I didn’t think I’d get so far behind on my blog, so in my notes for the game I just scribbled down “Lewis ball”. Apparently there was something interesting about it and I wanted to mention it so here it is. Lewis ball. I don’t know what it was. I know the Phillies were crushing balls into the bullpen and to straight right, but I was playing center and right center. Didn’t work for me. I asked Roy Oswalt for a ball but he shut down my request.

After BP I headed to the foul side of the Phillies bullpen to hopefully work a toss up from a coach, or Cole Hamels, or Carlos Ruiz. My journey paid off when Mick Billmeyer grabbed about 10 balls out of the bag and threw them to all the fans standing around. Best. Coach. Ever. He even tossed a couple balls to Reds fans. The highlight of the bullpen time was when a 15 year old girl was freaking out when Cole Hamels stepped in. You know, because he’s just so hot (her words, not mine). Mick promised her Cole would throw her a ball or give her an autograph, but he just walked away after he finished warming up. She shouted down to him “You owe me a ball!” and he laughed, picked up another ball, and tossed it up to her. I can’t say it enough – Mick Billmeyer is the best coach in the league.

As for the game, we sat in section 110 on the foul side of left field. Maybe Fred Lewis sliced a foul ball towards me that I narrowly missed out on. Maybe he didn’t, hell if I know. What I do know is Yonder Alonso got his first start at third

The only interesting parts of the game I feel like I should share would be this photo of Ryan Howard

And Ryan Hanigan chasing a pop up.

Stats

  • Phillies 3, Mike 2, Reds 2
  • 47 balls this season for a 2.14 average
  • 68 lifetime balls for a .87 average
  • 64 balls since my first year of ballhawking for a 1.73 average
  • 1 game streak of 1 ball
  • 1 game streak of multiple balls
  • 0 for 1 OTF
  • 12 for 27 on the year for a .444 OTF%
  • 18 for 39 lifetime, .462 average.
  • 68 balls = Alexei Ramirez and Delmon Young’s home run total
  • .462 OTF% = Rondell White and Carl Yastrzemski’s slugging percentage

8-28-11, Natinals at Reds

First off – I know I put “Natinals” instead of “Nationals”. For those out of the loop… here. I really didn’t want to go to this game. I was still tired from my vacation, I knew there wouldn’t be batting practice, and it was hotter than the 4th of July. But my dad had free tickets, and I figured I’d at least get to see Johnny Cueto spin a masterpiece. I wasn’t wrong on that part at least.

Even with no BP, I still wanted to get there ASAP. Sadly for me, my dad didn’t and he was my ride. Ballhawking sin number 1 had been committed by me not showing up when the gates open. I don’t even remember what time we got there but it wasn’t too late for anything to be going on, and I was really shocked when I saw the players weren’t even long tossing, so I couldn’t even beg for a ball to keep my streak up. We ended up sitting in the usual 110, and it was really just a bad experience for me. I had to listen to complaints the whole game about a little but of everything, but oh well. Negative people kinda suck.

Since it was really sunny out I had prime lighting for some photos so I decided to just focus on photography. I coulda went to the dugouts and tried for a ball, but I just gave up. How did my day of picture taking start? With this:

Then I got one of Cueto with his new delivery he started using this year

Michael Morse taking a practice cut

The one and only…

And after that, we headed to the dugout to make an attempt at an umpire ball. Jayson Werth (I think) had just gave the Nats the lead in the top of the 9th, so it was looking good for the ballhawks. Yonder Alonso came up to pinch hit, and hit a blast to right field. Tie game. We stayed there and I got back to the photography . Starting with a two parter that shows Nick Masset attempting a pickoff.

Another one of Nick in his windup. I love how you can see the Rawlings logo on the ball here

Rick Ankiel in the box

A couple pictures of Jayson Werth

And that’ll do it. I’m not even gonna bother with stats since nothing’s changed, except my average. Don’t worry though – I got that bad boy back up during the Phillies series.

8-24-11, Reds at Marlins

MIAMI! I was so pumped up to be attending these two games in the middle of the week at a stadium that averages 25 fans a night. I was ready to put up huge numbers and get a little bit closer to my main goal for the year of getting to 100 lifetime balls. Unfortunately for me things got a little crazy. After a day spent at Islands of Adventure in Orlando I got a text informing me of the doubleheader for the next day. I was pretty upset and not even for ballhawking reasons. I wanted to go see this stadium before the Marlins moved and I thought it would be a 12 or 1 start time for the first game, so I had no chance of making that. It was a 3 and half hour drive from Orlando and being with my mom and grandma I knew they wouldn’t get up early enough to get there.

Luckily for me it was a single admission doubleheader starting at 4. This was bittersweet for me – it would wind up cutting a day off our vacation which meant we wouldn’t be doing anything in Miami, but I would get to cross an item off my bucket list (which I’ll probably publish on here in the offseason). That item being attend both games of a doubleheader. We called the Marlins to figure out the details of when we could get in and all that. We were told the parking lots would open at 1 and the gates at 1:30 so we left around 8 on the morning of the game.

Now comes the craziness. After eating at a Denny’s we drove up to the parking lot at a little before 1. The attendant there told us we couldn’t park until 1:30 and the gates to the stadium would open at 5:40. My mom believed her, so I yelled from the backseat that she had to be mistaken since the game started at 4. She didn’t even know about the doubleheader so she called someone and they told us they’d open at 2. So we went to Wal-Mart to kill time. A little after 1:30 we headed up to the lot and surprise! They wouldn’t let us in. She said it was 2 now and the gates at 2:15. We turned back around and went driving around the stadium when I took this picture

I had two options for that photo. Either hold the camera over a 6 foot gate and take it or try to aim it through a hole in the chain link. I went for the first one. And see the guy in the bottom right? He started walking towards me so being the quick thinker I am, I decided to bury my face into my camera and walk back to the van. I was sure he was gonna start yelling about something so I just wanted to get outta there. He got my mom’s attention though and said I could come through the gate to take a better picture. Whew. So he opened the gate for me and I got a photo without a portapotty in it.

And then 2:00 rolled around so we went back to go park. Surprisingly, we actually got in this time so I went to the pro shop to look for a Marlins jersey to add to my collection. Too bad for me, they only had one rack full of jerseys and they were all $300. Too much for this hillbilly. I could justify spending that much if it were Mark Lowell or Josh Beckett, or even Hanley Ramirez. But nope, it was filled with Anibal Sanchez, Logan Morrison, and Gaby Sanchez. I’ll pass. But you know what they did have? Tons and tons of Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes gear. My grandma wanted a hat and they didn’t even have any Marlins hats.

It was about time for the gates to open so we asked where that gate that opens early is, and he told us to go to this fancy lobby and wait because of the heat. So we did and at 2:15 they said it would be 2:30 when we could get in. At 2:30 they told us 2:45 and at 2:45 they told us 3. Well at about 2:55 they let us in. I decided to go down and just look for eggs since there wouldn’t be any BP so when I got to the top of the steps and I saw the Reds hitting, I was shocked to say the least. They only hit for about 9 or 10 minutes but still, it was nice to see. I tried to get a ball from the Reds players but that didn’t work, and I got beat out on the only home run I had a chance at. I finished empty handed but as I was leaving the seats, and usher stopped me and gave me two balls. One for each game he said.

Is it cheap? Yes. Did they require any skill or effort? No. Do they count? Hell yes. After the ushers and security guards at Great American started going out of their way to try and prevent me from getting balls, you best believe I count them. I started walking around at that point. Want to see what I saw?

Those people at the end of the tunnel? All workers. And notice the closed concession stand, it stayed that way. If I wanted a drink, I had to walk all the way to home plate from my seat in center field. And why was I even in my ticketed seat? Because when I tried to go down an aisle, each usher would stop me and ask for my ticket and send me back to my center field seat. And if I went through the seats? Someone would cut me off. Really guys, you have 347 people in your stadium. Let people sit where they want. This is how crowded it was for pre-game warm ups

Yeah, it was equal parts awesome and scary. For the first game, I had no chances at any balls. No third out balls, no warm up balls, no homers near me. Nothing. I did get one ball during the game though. In the third inning I went to try and find a drink when I found an easter egg. That should show just how many people are there and how many pay attention. Now I suppose it’s picture time since I have nothing to write about.

And that was it for game one. For game two, nothing really exciting happened. They announced that 22,000 people were there, but it was more like 1,000. Jay Bruce got the crap heckled out of him, which I really enjoyed. Mike Stanton made an amazing catch at the Marlins bullpen. And Drew Stubbs ignored me when I asked for a third out ball. The best part of the game? Marlins center fielder Bryan Petersen throwing his warm up ball into the stands every inning. At one point I thought about moving back a couple rows to give myself a better chance of getting one, but I decided to stay put. Sure enough, he threw it right to the freakin’ seat I was going to. Go figure.

Stats

  • From both games combined: Reds 8, Marlins 8, Mike 3
  • 45 balls on the season for a 2.25 average
  • 66 lifetime balls for a .87 average
  • 62 balls since 2009 for a 1.35 average
  • 7 game streak of at least one ball
  • 2 game streak of at least 2 balls
  • No OTF chances, % staying still at .462 for the year
  • 18 for 38 lifetime, for a .474 OTF%
  • 66 balls = Delmon Young, Marco Scutaro, Doug Mientkiewicz, Karim Garcia, and Henry Blanco’s home run total.
  • .474% = Same as last time, Kiki Cuyler’s SLG%

Vacation pictures will be next, but not too many since I have that damn limit in how many pictures I can upload. They’ll be on Facebook soon though, so add me on there.

8-10-11, Rockies at Reds

For the first time in my life, I was attending three games in a row. I actually didn’t realize it until checking over my games on mygameballs.com, because as big a baseball fan I am I was sure I had been to more than two in a row before. But enough about that, y’all want to hear about my second consecutive 5 ball game right? Well…

  1. Easter egg
  2. Easter egg
  3. Easter egg
  4. Easter egg

All within 5 minutes of being in the stands. The fourth one I actually found after a second combover of the stands going back to right field after making it over to center. After I got the fourth one I was thinking about not only breaking my record of 5 from the previous night but hittin double digits. Well that didn’t happen because the Reds are a weak bunch of players that can’t hit homers in BP. And they don’t like us ballhawks out there and rarely throw us balls, no worries though. I prefer to catch ’em on the fly anyway. The pitchers just finished hitting so I knew it would be another 15 minutes before anyone else would hit. So what did I do? Easter egg hunt. No luck though, and my friend Jill asked me if I had enough yet. Crazy talk.

I ended up with just those four balls when the Rockies came out. And it wasn’t until way later until I got my fifth. I don’t remember if I had any close calls or anything, other than the fact that Jhoulys Chacin must not have liked my Tulo jersey because he shot me down each of the three days. I really wanted a Todd Helton ball, but it didn’t work out for me. The last couple of nights I played him deep right, and he shot ’em to right center mostly. For this game I played over there, and what happened? Bombs to deep right.

I did get one more ball in BP, though. I was shading to right field over on the center field side of section 144, and he hit a homer that was going towards center. I ran over a section and got there just as it landed and scooped it up. A lady was throwin’ a fit about it saying she wanted it for her kid, so I told her to hang tight and after BP if they didn’t get one I’d hook her up. After batting practice she bolted and I couldn’t find her so I guess they got a ball.

I sat in section 110 for the game while Rocco and Jill went to the first base side. It was so empty there I had to stay, my odds of getting a foul ball were just so much better there. A couple other GABP regulars came wandering over and sat with me for the rest of the game, but nothing came close. I didn’t take many pictures, but here’s one of Todd Helton

The highlight of the game? Teaching a young kid how to get an umpire ball. Ok, so the kid is a regular ballhawk but didn’t know about umpire balls. It didn’t work out since it was moderately crowded there but still, it was a learning experience.

Stats

  • Mike 5, Reds 3, Rockies 2.
  • 42 balls for the year makes for a 2.33 average
  • 63 lifetime balls for a .85 average
  • 59 balls since my first year of ballhawking for a 1.34 average
  • 6 game streak of at least one ball
  • 2 game streak of at least 2 balls
  • 2 game streak of at least 5 balls
  • 0 for 1 in on the fly chances for the game
  • 12 for 26 OTF for the year makes for a .462 OTF%
  • 18 for 38 lifetime, a .474 OTF%
  • 63 balls = Jerry Hairston Jr’s home run total
  • .474 OTF% = Kiki Cuyler’s slugging %
  • Quite possibly the shortest game entry you’ll ever read

Hopefully I’ll have some pictures up from the Florida trip soon, I just have to find that pesky USB cord. Until then, I won’t be updating for the vacation, the doubleheader in Miami, the Nationals game, and the Phillies series.

8-9-10, Rockies at Reds

Short and sweet token entry time, which is kinda disappointing since this was a record breaking night for me. Followed immediately by another one. Followed by my vacation entry. Ready? Go.

As usual, I got the tour to go in at 4:30. Other than that… I don’t remember much. I lost my notes so I’m just going off the mygameballs site for how I got my baseballs and whatever pictures I took. Apparently, I got my first ball from Miguel Cairo. Now that I look at the ball map for the game, I remember a little bit more about it. It was a ground rule double that landed in the first row, I was over talking to Rocco when it got hit, and I just ran after it and picked it up a section over. No one else was around for it.

My second ball was a homer from Joey Votto. Again, no clue how I got it other than it wasn’t caught on the fly. Boo. According to the map, it was in section 145 which is where I play Votto so I’m not sure why I didn’t catch that one.

My third ball I remember very, very clearly. A lefty was up so I was standing next to the stairs between section 144 and 143. I couldn’t tell who it was but a quick check of the roster list and I determined it was Carlos Gonzalez. Right when I put my list away he smashed one my way. It was coming right at me and if you’ve ever been around one of those you know they’re hard to judge immediately. I took two steps back and then realized it would fall short so I went back down three steps. It was going to land right at the first seat on the edge but someone was sitting there, so I backed off a little to leave room for them to catch it or get outta the way, whichever they preferred. It was a lady about 45 years old and she wasn’t even paying attention. Her son, step-son, whatever, yelled at her and she covered her face, so I stuck my glove in front of her to save the day. Easy catch, but it’s the balls like that that show how much ballhawks pay attention to their surroundings and how little regular fans pay attention. Anyway, she thanked me for saving her, and I opened my glove to let her take it she wanted it, which she did.

Nothing else came from BP, and at the end I headed over to the bullpen to try to get a toss up. I took these two pictures while I waited and tried to talk to Esmil Rogers. If anyone knows who the coach in the second pic is, let me know please. I’m guessing Carney Lansford but I really have no idea. First we got Bob Apodaca

And then mystery coach, who we just called the big happy coach.  Good guy, talked to everyone.  More MLB personnel should be like Big Happy Coach.

And not long after that when the players and coaches went into the bullpen, coach Apodaca looked up at me and motioned to me like he was going to throw something at me. I held up my glove and just like that, I got my first bullpen ball. The Tulo jersey paid off! So there was number 4, tying my record for a single game. Before this game, I had hit 4 balls only 3 times before, first time being earlier this season. I get excited when I get 3 at one game. My goal for each game is 2 so I was in a happy place. After I got that ball I tried to show my worthiness as a Rox fan by taking some bullpen pictures

And then the game started. I watched the game with Rocco from the foul side of left field, with Eric Young Jr.

Where we saw Dontrelle Willis pitch a helluva ball game

Which led to… I don’t know. No notes, remember? Yeah. So all I know is that in the top of the ninth me and Rocco headed to the Rockies dugout to try for a third out ball, umpire ball, whatever. I don’t even remember how the game ended but we didn’t get that third out ball, didn’t get anything from the Rockies coaches or players, but wait! Lance Barksdale was the home plate ump, and when he came in he tossed one perfectly to Rocco. Then he glanced up at me and softly tossed it up as he was jogging down the steps. It barely made it above his head. I leaned over as far as I could but it just wasn’t enough and it fell right back down. Such is life…

Or not. Lance came back out and made a great throw the second time. Just enough arc to get it over my glove, but not enough to let someone else steal it. Thanks, Lance! My favorite umpire right there.

Stats

  • Mike 5, Rockies 3, Reds 2
  • 37 balls on the season for a 2.18 average
  • 58 lifetime balls for a .79 average
  • 54 balls since I started ballhawkin’ for a 1.26 average
  • 5 game streak of at least 1 ball
  • 3 game streak of at least 2 balls
  • 1 for 3 OTF chances, .333%
  • 12 for 25 in OTF chances for the season, .480%
  • 18 for 37 in OTF chances for a .486%
  • 58 balls = No clue. I can’t find anyone with 58 homers as of 11:07 pm on August 27th.
  • .486 OTF% = Mike Sweeney’s SLG%

8-17-11 at…

Well then. I still need to write entries for the 9th and 10th of August but that might be delayed a little. As I’m writing this, I’m laying in bed about 60 miles north of Macon, Georgia. Just passed Turner Field not too long ago. I’m at the beginning of an 11 day trip to Florida, with stops planned in Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. I’m hoping to go to a Devil Rays game but that’s not looking too likely. If anyone cares, we’re making stops at Disney World, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventurer for Central Florida. In Miami, it’s all about the baseball. Two games at Pro Player Stadium for the Reds and Marlins. Here’s hoping the Reds players recognize me and don’t shut me out… But yeah, I’m hoping to write my entries for the other two Rockies games sometime during my trip.

If anybody has any tips for the Marlins park be sure to leave a comment. Hell if you have a tip for stuff to do at Disney or anywhere else I mentioned leave a comment for that too.

One quick note before I head off to sleep. As some readers know, I enjoy photography and hope to make a career out of it eventually. I entered some pictures in the county fair last week and 3 of them placed. Here they are

Logan Ondrusek with a young fan, 1st place.

Billy’s Afternoon Snack, 2nd place

Floods? Coney has it, 2nd place.