I know you’re probably thinking, why so many MiLB games? Well, Minor League Baseball is much more enjoyable. MiLB is simply, PURE BASEBALL. I could careless if I attend another MLB game this season. With that said, I made yet another Minor League Road Trip. This trip took me through scenic Pennsylvania with a final destination of Altoona, Pa. Surprisingly, Altoona is a booming city. Hotels, Stores, and Restaurants galore. Nothing like the small “Redneck” town I had envisioned.
Minor League Baseball is much more laid back. I probably could have strolled out onto the field and started shagging Fly Balls in the OF and nobody would have said a word. Obviously though, I was in a Restricted Area so I decided to move along.
Before hopping back into the car, I snapped a photo of this Roller Coaster which sits beyond the RF Wall. While it may appear as a target for players to hit during BP, the likelihood of a ball striking it is very minimal. The Power Alley in RF is 375 ft and the Coaster is another 50-100 ft from the Wall. It would take a Moonshot for a HR to hit the Coaster.
Above is a photo from atop the Parking Garage which also sits beyond the RF Wall. As you can see, there is quite a bit of space between the field and the Amusement Park. Below are a few more photos of the area beyond the Outfield Walls,
While roaming around the field, I noticed a player hit a Home Run into the grass hill in LF. The gates were not due to open for 3 more hours, so retrieving the baseball would take some trickery. I had already watched as 2 female Curve Employees scoured the LF Bleachers and pocketed a half dozen baseballs. I wasn’t about to let them snatch another one.
After snatching up the ball from LF, I returned to the roof of the Parking Garage to try for a LONGGGGGGG Toss Up. I spent my time waiting in an area surrounded by this Crime Scene Tape. Chances are, I was getting my Ballhawk on in a Murder Scene.
This was my view as I tried to get Stolmy Pimental’s attention. After a few balls to the Warning Track, I got Pimental to notice me on top of the garage. Shortly after, he made an attempt to toss me a ball. The ball fell well short.
Shortly after the Pimental Toss Up, the Erie Seawolves took the field. I was set on getting a Toss Up from one of them as well. James McCann would be the first to attempt to reach the roof of the garage. After 2 failed attempts, McCann called over Hernan Perez who made a windmill motion with his arm then launched a Toss Up that landed snugly in my Catcher’s Mitt.
The Original Plan was to attend 3 games in Buffalo. However, the weather changed as did my plans. What else is new? Originally I had planned on attending the Erie Seawolves Day Game on 3/24, followed by an evening game in Buffalo that same night. Both games were Rained Out. Instead of spending another day in Erie. Ian, Hunter, and Myself packed up the Explorer and decided to head towards Buffalo to do some exploring. One of our goals was to find some “Buff-a-Hoes”. Considering none of us are good-looking, we failed miserably. Hunter came closest though, almost purchasing a hooker for $200 an hour.
Prior to leaving Erie, I decided that booking a hotel in Buffalo would be a much better option than camping, which is what we usually do for MiLB games. I logged on to my favorite Travel Site, Priceline. I’m never one to pay full price for anything. I love Priceline because it gives you the option to “Name Your Own Price”. Considering it was a weekday, I knew hotels would be desperate to fill empty rooms. I made a ridiculously low offer of $45/night. My offer was accepted and we were headed to the Adams Mark in Downtown Buffalo. According to Buffalo Ballhawk Quinn, the Adams Mark is the Nicest Hotel in Buffalo. After checking in, I’d hate to see the worst. LoL.
The Docking Station for the Maid of the Mist. Below are a few photos taken while on the ride. I would have loved to have taken more. However, we boarded the boat in a steady rain and had to deal with some wicked winds and some string misting from the falls. I wasn’t trying to lose yet another phone to H2O.
After the Gift Shop, we did some more exploring around Niagara Falls. I have a few more photos which are on Hunter’s phone. Hopefully, he wakes his lazy ass up by the time I’m done typing this and sends them to me so I can share them on here.
After visiting the falls, we made the trek back to our hotel. Minus the 3am Fire Alarm and Hunter’s disgusting snoring, it was a rather pleasant night. The beds were comfy, the pillows soft, and I didn’t encounter any bed bugs.
I almost forgot to mention that prior to going to sleep, Ian and I made the walk over to Coca Cola Field to do some investigating. According to Quinn, there was an Oswaldo Arcia Home Run Baseball laying unclaimed in a fenced in area beyond the CF Wall.
Sadly, I couldn’t get my fat ass over the 12 ft fence to rescue the baseball. Instead of risking arrest by sneaking in another part of the ballpark, we walked back to the hotel. I had a Ball Retriever in the Explorer and planned on getting the ball the next morning.
We purchased the Cheapest Tickets possible. The cheapest ticket in Buffalo was $10. It’s only $9 if purchased in advanced. Everyone knows that Minor League Games are empty and you can sit wherever you please. Why spend the extra $$$ on “Box Seats”?
After a few inning in RF, I returned to the infield in hopes of snagging a few foul balls. While I was gone, Hunter was the proud recipient of a Jeremy Hazelbaker 6th Inning Home Run. Hunter ended up trading the ball to me for a Brand New International League Baseball. Below are a few photos of the Hazelbaker Home Run Baseball.
After reeling in the McCoy Home Run, I returned to RF. During the 3rd Inning, Bisons CF, Anthony Gose began motioning something to me then yelling something. I had no idea what he was saying so I wandered towards CF and Gose told me he wanted the Big Glove. I just laughed it off because I thought he was kidding. During the Inning Break, Gose told me he’d trade me an Autographed Bat for the Glove. Josh Hamilton offered to trade me an Autographed Bat for it last season in Baltimore and I declined. Gose would be denied as well. During the 4th Inning, Gose continued to tell me he wanted to glove. I looked up him up on Google and noticed he got a $772,000 Signing Bonus. I knew he had more to offer besides a bat.
As Gose was jogging off the field in the 4th, I handed him this note with my “Trade Demands”. I didn’t think it was much to ask for. What do you think? During the next Inning Break, 2 employees of the team started walking towards RF with hands full of goodies. It was a deal.
Marucci Bone Rubbed AP5-M Pro Model Anthony Gose Bat. If you notice, below the Handcrafted For is an Anthony Gose Signature engraved into the bat. A Signature engraved into the bat designates that the player has an MLB Bat Contract with the Company. Gose played a part of the 2012 MLB Season with Toronto and should be back in the Bigs soon.
Close Up of the Bat’s Knob. Incase you’re wondering what all the numbers mean, I’ll try to explain. The Black 8 is Anthony’s Jersey Number. The 2/08/13 is the date the bat was produced. The 4 designates that this is a 34 inch bat. The 2 designates the bat’s weight, which is 32 ounces.
Undershirt is made by 4ORTE, Size XL. Anthony’s #8 is written on the Laundry Tag in Black Marker. I’m guessing the shirt was worn by Gose during the Doubleheader as it smells of a mixture of Cocca Butter and Sweat. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this item. Anybody want to swap me for a Bisons Hoodie in an XL?
In case you’re wondering why Gose was so interested in the Big Glove. Apparently, the Bisons Shortstop (McCoy?) made some sort of Error on Opening Day and the Glove is going to be used as a prank. In all, I received the following in exchange for the Big Glove: Dozen International League Baseballs, 2 Pairs of Batting Gloves, Game Worn Undershirt, Bisons New Era Hat, Brand New Pair of Cleats, and an Autographed Game Model Bat. I understand that most of you will say I’m crazy for giving up the Big Glove. Not at all. I already have a new one on the way.
In regards to a review of Coca Cola Field, I’ll say a few things. The Ballpark itself is quite impressive. Seating for 18,000 plus, that’s crazy. The Seating Area itself is very tough to navigate. 80% of the seats are stuck in the down position. Someone in the Bisons organization needs to look into upgrading the seats. The Concourse Areas behind the Seating Area reminded me of a Horror Movie. They were very dark and lacked any sort of life or excitement. How about some Games, Music, etc…? I tried a Soft Pretzel from one of the Concession Stands. It was the WORST Pretzel I’ve ever had at any Ballpark. I’m guessing it was atleast 4 days old. Just because it’s hot, doesn’t mean it’s fresh. The Gift Shop inside the Ballpark was decent. However, I didn’t see any Game Used items whatsoever. The Picnic Area in Right Field is wonderful. There is a patch of grass beyond the RF Wall that is so close, you feel like you’re playing RF in the game. Very cool. The bathrooms in CF were clean. However, there was no hot water. It’s no fun washing your hands with cold water on a chilly day. Ticket Prices were VERY FAIR. The staff at the Ballpark was also very helpful and knowledgable. One of my biggest complaints is the lack of a walkway around the Outfield Wall. In order to go from RF to LF, you must walk the whole way around the Ballpark. The area beyond the walls at Coca Cola Field is “Dead Space” filled with various Grounds Crew Junk, Broken Stadium Equipment, etc. In my opinion, the Bisons should look into some sort of walkway that wraps around the Outfield Wall. If you need help in a design, I’d be more that glad to help. All in all, Coca Cola Field grades out a 2 of 5 stars in my opinion. While I’m not planning any return trips this season, I’d consider a return trip if I was in the area.
Baseballs from Opening Day.
1. Starlin Castro MLB Authenticated Game Used Single Purchased for $50 from Hunt Auctions
2. Jeanmar Gomez Signed Brand New MLB Ball. (Starting 2013 Pirates Team Ball)
3. Darwin Barney Autographed Game Used MLB Baseball
4. Fujikawa Autographed Game Used Opening Day Baseball
5. Tom Hallion Umpire Baseball Opening Day Commemorative
6. Found Baseball from Section 142, my first OFFICIAL BASEBALL of 2013. (I’m not counting Workout Day Baseballs like everyone else. That’s #RACHET.)
Snagged 2 Opening Day Commemoratives on my own, purchased an additional one from Hunt Auctions. Found my 1st ball of 2013 in Section 142.
Had a chance for another Opening Day Commemorative. Foul Ball rolled 5 ft in front of me. Pedro Alvarez walked out, picked it up, looked right at me while I was waving Giant Glove, then tossed the ball 8 ft over my head to some MORON in a Cubs Jersey. Pedro better hope I never catch one of his Home Runs he wants back. I’ll just remind him of Opening Day.
I’m going to start off by saying that I absolutely hate this blogging thing.
Okkkk, before I post my 2013 Goals, which I’m sure will generate (couldn’t figure out the word I wanted to use) quite a bit of laughs from my fellow “Ballhawkers”, I’d like to do a quick 2012 Recap.
Ive been regularly attending MLB Games since the Early 1990′s. I obtained my first baseball in 1997 via Toss Up from St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher, Andy Benes at Three River Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA. Seconds later, I caught my second, a BP Home Run On The Fly from an Unknown Cardinals Player. From that moment on, I was hooked.
I wasn’t sure how 2012 was going to play out. I spent the entire 2011 season in Florida. I was a “Regular” at Tropicana Field as well as Sun Life Stadium. In addition, I’m guessing I attended well over 100 Florida State League Games. The amount of baseballs I caught was absolutely ridiculous.
After the 2011 season, I started to get really sick and returned to Pittsburgh. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital, had 2 surgeries and was released just in time for the 2012 season. I had been a member of a website called MY GAME BALLS for a few years prior to 2012. I never uploaded my stats or anything, I just kept an eye on peoples stats and read an occasional blog here and there. Honestly, I thought everyone on the site was weird. However, I found the idea of “Ballhawking” intriguing. I decided to become an active member of the site in 2012. I discovered that the majority of the people who I labeled as “weird” were really cool dudes. During the first few months of the season, I just wasn’t feeling myself. I was always tired and just didn’t have the stamina to make it through BP at times. By the time July came around, I was completely exhausted. From July till October, my enjoyment in attending games began to dissipate. The thought of attending BP day after day became somewhat boring. However, I decided to suck it up and finish the season.
During a trip to D.C. early in the season, I came up with some “Goals” for 2012. How did I do? Well, below were my goals.
GOAL: 500 Total Balls
REALITY: 521 Total Balls (Includes Minors)
GOAL: 10 Game Home Runs
REALITY: 13 Game Home Runs (Includes Minors)
GOAL: 25 Foul Balls
REALITY: 38 Foul Balls (Includes Minors)
GOAL: 5 Commemorative Baseballs
REALITY: 6 Commemorative Baseballs Astros, Mets, Dodgers, Orioles, Marlins, Twins
I’m not even going to begin to rant about the Red Sox Commemorative, it’s a sour subject.
GOAL: 2012 Home Run Derby Baseball in Kansas City
REALITY: DID NOT MAKE THE TRIP #MONEYPROBLEMS
GOAL: Attend 1 Game of the 2012 World Series and Snag a Baseball
REALITY: Attended Game 4 of the 2012 World Series in Detroit with Erik Jabs and I did indeed Snag a Baseball.
Top 5 NOT-Highlights of 2012 (Regrets)
5. NOT Catching Bryce Harpers 1st MLB Home Run. Yes, I made quite an effort to catch it. Harper’s First MLB HR ended up going in the Batter’s Eye in D.C. Nobody caught it.
4. NOT Catching a Red Sox Commemorative Baseball. Failed in numerous trips to Baltimore. I had a trip to Boston planned for August 2012. I ended up in Erie, PA instead watching AA Minor League Baseball.
3. PEDRO ALVAREZ HOME RUN The #1 Reason, I’ll never attend another MLB Game with a Chick. #MISSEDOPPORTUNITIES
2. ANDREW MCCUTCHEN HOME RUN Thats me with the Giant Glove and #58 Jersey
Top 5 Moments of 2012
5. 4/25/12 Garrett Jones Home Run My First Game Home Run of 2012
Recap: I caught a lot of balls. I also missed a lot of opportunities. I met some really cool people. Erik, Ian, Scoonz, Fake Pedro, you guys are great. You made my trip to PNC Park enjoyable. Matt in Baltimore, Flava Dave, thanks for the hospitality. You guys helped make Camden Yards my favorite Ballpark. I appreciate all your help. Dave and Dave in Detroit, it was nice meeting you guys. I appreciate all your help at the World Series. Everyone who attended Ballhawk Fest in Pittsburgh. Thanks!! I had a great time. I enjoyed meeting all of you. Rocco from Cincy, I love reading all of your blogs. You offer some great insight. Alan from MGB, Great Site. Thank you for taking the time to give people like me a place to share our hobby. Looking forward to meeting you in Philadelphia this summer.
Below are a few Random Photos from 2012…
GOAL FOR 2013
1. 1,000 Baseballs. Go ahead and laugh. I GUARANTEE I GET AT MINIMUM, 1,000.
2. 50 Game Home Runs.
3. 100 Foul Balls
4. I WILL CATCH SOMEONE’S FIRST MLB HOME RUN.
5. Make ESPN Web Gems. It’s going to happen.
6. Finish #1 on My Game Balls Minors. NOBODY IS BEATING ME THIS YEAR.
7. Win Home Run Derby at Ballhawk Fest in Philadelphia.
8. Catch a Walk Off Home Run.
9. Get a Pirates Game Worn Jersey at Fan Appreciation Day. #CUTCH
10. Have Fun.
After some thinking, I think I’m going to call it quits for awhile on the blogging. First off, I highly doubt anybody reads these things anyhow. I’m guessing I have 5 or 6 viewers a day and I could probably name them off the top of my head. Secondly, I’ve been pretty busy lately. Between Pitt Football Practice, Steelers Practice, and also Pirates Games, I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head chopped off. In addition, Penguins Training Camp is going to begin soon. So yeah, I don’t have much free time. I may do a blog here and there during the rest of the season, but don’t hold me to it. Feel free to check back every so often though.
Yes, I’ve been slacking really bad lately when it comes to doing these blogs. Between Chasing Baseballs, Steelers Training Camp, Pitt Football Practice, Car Accident, Dating, Sleeping, and Kayaking, I’ve been quite busy the past few weeks. The Pirates were hosting the Diamondbacks for a 4 games series. I had big hopes for these games. My plans included finishing a Diamondbacks Team Signed Baseball, getting Kirk Gibson to sign a Dodgers Commemorative Baseball, getting Alan Trammell to sign a Sports Illustrated from 1984, finish my Pirates Team Signed Baseball, and snag as many baseballs as possible.
I had an AYCE Wristband for each of the 3 games versus the Diamondbacks. I probably ate 18 burgers, 7 hot dogs, 13 orders of nachos, 12 ice cream sandwiches, 19 bags of peanuts, 3 boxes of popcorn, 6 bags of peanut butter pretzels, and washed it all down with 104 soft drinks. Let’s just say I got my money’s worth.
The Security Member pictured above reminds me of Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Anyone else see the resemblance? I didn’t take any photos because I was running around like a lunatic during BP and didn’t have time. I apologize. During the 3 games versus Arizona, I was able to snag 23 baseballs. The majority of them were obtained via the Glove Trick. Also, in an embarrassing side note, I was hit in the head by a Josh Collmenter Toss-Up after BP on August 7th. Despite feeling a bit woozy, I was still able to reach down and pick up the ball before it was scooped up by one of the many kids screaming “Here!,Here!,Here!”. Now, to the autographing.
Mission Accomplished. After Gibson signed my Dodgers Commemorative, I asked if he would also signed my Diamondbacks Team Ball. His exact words were as follows, “JESUS CHRIST!, I just signed a ball for you”. He then stopped signing and marched off to the dugout.
The Diamondbacks do have a few friendly players. One such player is 2012 ROY Candidate, Wade Miley. Ian and I stuck around PNC Park late one night and were rewarded with signatures from quite a few D-Backs.
Chris Johnson # 28 and Paul Goldschmidt #44 also signed. Goldschmidt also thanked Ian and I for asking him to sign. I think he may have had a few drinks in the clubhouse prior to leaving the ballpark. Players who also signed my Team Ball are as follows: Jason Kubel, Ryan Wheeler, Stephen Drew, Miguel Montero, and Mike Zagurski. I forgot to take a photo of the panel of the baseball where they signed. . After Kirk Gibson refused to sign my Team Ball, I gave up on trying to complete it and instead concentrated on finishing my Pirates Team Ball. Below are some photos of my Pirates Team Signed Baseball as it is right now.
Jason Grilli, Clint Barmes, Josh Harrison, Chris Resop, and Joel Hanrahan. I’m still missing a handful of guys including A.J. Burnett and Juan Cruz. I haven’t seen Burnett touch a pen once this whole season. Cruz signed once after a game. However, it was only because his POS Range Rover broke down while exiting the parking garage and he was waiting for AAA to come save him. Other notable players missing are Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez. Both are fairly easy to obtain. I would have both on the ball already but I’ve been getting them on Single Signed Balls, 8×10′s, etc. My goal is to add at least 7 guys to the ball during the series versus the Dodgers. That’s about it for the D-Backs Series. Stay tuned for a recap of Steelers Training Camp, Pitt Football Practice, Pirates vs. Padres, and Pirates vs. Dodgers. I have a lot of catching up to do. I promise to be all caught up before the weekend.
I arrived at the ballpark very early on Friday in hopes of obtaining a few autographs from the Cubbies. I also wanted to start another Pirates Team Signed baseball because I sold one recently for $250. Apparently, everyone in Pittsburgh has jumped on the Band-Wagon and has Bucco Fever. A few years ago, I couldn’t even give away Pirates Tickets. I’ve had people I haven’t talked to in years call me lately asking if I could hook them up. The answer is no. Where were you morons the past couple of seasons when I was practically begging people to join me at the games? I’d be willing to bet that at any given time, you could ask 10 random fans in the ballpark to name 5 players on the current roster. 9 of 10 wouldn’t be able to do it. I’m quite certain Pittsburgh leads all major sports with the amount of Band-Wagon Fans. Anyways, back to the autographs.
One of the first Cubs to arrive was 2008 National League Rookie of the Year, Geovany Soto. Soto has always been one of the friendliest players I’ve interacted with. I already have a few baseballs signed by Geovany, so I had him sign a card from the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
I was soon joined at PNC Park by Munhall Firefighter Hunter Stokes. Hunter was hoping to get his Joel Hanrahan Bobble Head signed. Hanrahan might have that “bad-ass” image but he is a really down to earth nice guy.
One of the first Pirates to arrive was Andrew McCutchen. During the 2010 season, I had no problem getting Cutch to sign for me on a daily basis. McCutchen’s signing habits have changed drastically this season. He is a very tough signature to obtain.
One player who has remained accessible and friendly over the years is Jason Grilli. Grilli arrived soon after McCutchen and took his time to sign the ball above which he tossed to me earlier this season.
Grilli also took a moment to sign my team ball. In addition, Clint Barmes, Josh Harrison, Chris Resop, and Joel Hanrahan also stopped and signed. I was fairly hungry and thirsty after standing in the sun for 4 hours so I packed up my goodies and headed over to Jerome’s Grille 36 for some lunch. While eating, I debated whether I should go into the ballpark for BP or hangout on the river in my kayak. I ultimately decided on going in for BP mainly to check out if the Hunt Auction Booth had any cool new memorabilia. As usual, the Pirates portion of BP was weak. The Cubs didn’t do much better. I was only able to snag 3 balls. One of the balls was obtained via the Glove Trick. I wouldn’t have been able to reel this ball in without the help of fellow Ballhawk Erik Jabs. Erik noticed my rubber bands were not working properly on a previous attempt, so he pulled a fresh new band from his bag and kindly handed it to me. Thanks buddy. After BP, I headed over to the Hunt Auctions Booth. As usual, they had nothing new. I’m not sure who runs their booth but they have no idea how to run a successful business. I took a quick walk around the ballpark then headed out to the River Walk where I would chill for the game in hopes on snagging a home run. Oooopppps, I did take a few photos during BP which are pictured below.
In addition to Hurdle, I was also able to obtain signatures from James McDonald and Erik Bedard. The three of us were primarily hoping for a few bigger name Cubs. However, a fairly large crowd gathered outside of the player’s exit and many players quickly scurried off into cabs to prevent being mobbed. I explained to Zach and Ian that Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro were both nice guys and we were guaranteed to get them. However, both ignored the crowd so we decided to head over to the Cubs Hotel in hopes of getting them there. I’m not going to post exactly where the Cubs stay for security reasons. The hotel used to be very laid back. I used to wait in the lobby for hours upon hours in hopes of obtaining a few autographs. I’m not sure why but for some reason, the Cubs had hired a security guard who was patrolling the lobby. Zach and Ian were quickly asked to leave the hotel when they went in to try and get an Anthony Rizzo autograph who was signing in the lobby. Instead of leaving, we stuck around and were soon rewarded.
Shortly after LaHair signed, Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro came walking out of the hotel. I’ve never had a problem with Soriano in the past but he has always been a character and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I asked if he would sign. Soriano simply asked how many people he needed to sign for and since there was only 3 of us, he kindly stopped and signed for each of us. Above is a photo of the ball I had Soriano sign.
I also obtained Castro on the sweet spot of a BP baseball. However, the ball was damp from being in my wet pocket and the autograph looks like crap. Why was my pocket wet? Well, I jumped into the river earlier in the day for a baseball. LoL. After getting autographs from Soriano and Castro, I took both Zach and Ian home.
My car is trashed right now and also missing a front seat. Zach and Ian had to endure a rather uncomfortable ride home together in my backseat. After dropping both of them off, I headed home to get rested up for the weekend.
After watching at least 8 balls leave the ballpark during BP on Friday, I decided to spend Saturday and Sunday in my kayak on the Allegheny River. Upon arriving Saturday, I noticed Pirates Pitcher Kevin Correia jogging along the River Walk.
In the 7th Inning, Garrett Jones hit a towering Foul Ball over the Clemente Wall. The ball bounced on the upper walkway and rolled into the Allegheny River. Where was I with my kayak when all of this was happening? Well, I had the genius idea to leave in the 5th Inning to go get something to eat. I was on the river for 7 hours and hadn’t eaten all day. When Jones hit the ball, I was sitting in the Drive Thru at McDonalds with Ian Weir. . After sitting in the Drive Thru at McDonalds for like 40 minutes without getting food, we left and went to Wendy’s. After eating our food, we headed back to the ballpark in hopes of getting a few autographs.
I missed the game on 7/20 due to typical summer weather in Pittsburgh. I woke up on 7/21 to gloomy skies and contemplated skipping that game as well. However, the showers held off and I headed down to the ballpark. I had a few goals for this series. One of my goals included getting a baseball from the 2005 World Series signed by Ozzie Guillen. I was able to get Ozzie on the ball. However, I have no idea where it’s at right now. My car is absolutely trashed and I’m pretty sure it’s buried in it somewhere. I will upload a picture once I find the baseball. Speaking of Ozzie, it is well known he is one to speak without thinking. I watched as one fan handed Ozzie a baseball and asked him to sign it on the sweet spot. Ozzie’s reply was “No Shit!”. I thought that was pretty funny. I also had 2 Logan Morrison Home Run Baseballs from Sun Life Stadium in Miami last season that I was hoping to get signed. I didn’t have any luck with Morrison.
Besides Ozzie, my only other Marlins autograph was from Heath Bell. Heath signed my ball then proceeded to ask “Do you even know who I am?”. Yeah bro, I know who you are. You’re an overpaid wannabe closer with what 10 blown saves this season and an ERA of 7. Bell is a cocky piece of shit, end of story. I wish him nothing but the worst the rest of this season.
Instead of entering the ballpark at 4pm and watching a weak Pirates BP and taking my chances on a Marlins BP that was lacking Hanley and Giancarlo, I decided to do some kayaking. I ended up hanging around outside of PNC Park for a few hours and reeled in 4 baseballs. I weighed my options for the evening and since nothing better was going on, I stayed in my kayak at PNC Park for the game. No Home Runs were hit during the game. Bummer dude. I paddled home and got rested up for Sunday. Sunday brought blue skies and sunshine. However, there was no BP so once again I set up shop in my kayak outside of PNC Park. You may ask why I keep hanging out outside of the ballpark by the river. I have a few reasons.
The list above is an outdated and close but not fully accurate list of home runs that have left PNC Park and made it to the Allegheny. If you look closely, you will notice that ONLY ONE HOME RUN IN THE HISTORY OF PNC PARK HAS EVER REACHED THE RIVER ON THE FLY. The home run was hit by Daryle Ward in 2002 when he was a member of the Houston Astros. My goal is to catch the 1st Pirates Home Run to land in the Allegheny River on the fly. Anyways, back to the Pirates vs. Marlins. I was shut out while waiting on the river. However, I did take a few photos which can be found below.
During the 7th Inning I believe, we all heard a fairly loud thunder like sound and turned around to see the Gateway Clipper stopped behind us. A few members of the crew were standing near the front of the boat looking at something.
If you look closely, you will notice some wood on the side of the boat destroyed. Apparently, the Gateway Clipper had clipped one of the piers under the Clemente Bridge. Nobody came to check on the bridge. So, if the bridge collapses in the near future here is the reason why. The Pirates swept the Marlins. I only ended up snagging 4 baseballs. However, I’m not disappointed. Chasing baseballs around during BP has become somewhat boring for me. BP baseballs are meaningless to me anymore. I may decide to concentrate primarily on foul balls and home runs the remainder of the season. Check back soon for a recap of the Pirates vs. Cubs series.
Seawolves vs. Bay Sox? Have I lost my mind? Yes, and possibly yes. My original plans were to head to Baltimore for the Orioles vs. Tigers series then continue on to DC for the Nationals vs. Mets series. However, nearly all of my friends are either broke or too obsessed with working their lives away at minimum wage jobs. I guess in the “Real World”, it’s pretty hard to just drop everything and go on a Roadtrip for 10 days. In “Rick’s World”‘, it’s not unusual for me to just hop in the car and disappear for weeks at a time. Anyways, I really didn’t feel like going all the way to Baltimore by myself for over a week. I did some homework and decided on a mini trip to Erie, PA for a few days. Why Erie?
Erie is home of the Erie Seawolves, AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.
Erie would be hosting the Bowie Baysox. The Baysox are led by another pair of MLB top prospects, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop. According to the MLB TOP 100 PROSPECTS LIST, Manny Machado is current ranked #3. Schoop is currently ranked #91.
Machado pictured on the left and Schoop on the right. Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Sun. One of my goals for the trip was to obtain an autograph from Castellanos, Machado, and Schoop. I’m usually accompanied on my trips by Hunter or one of my other guys friends. However, I was accompanied on this trip by my friend Jen. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking but I planned a little romantic camping trip. I called SARA’S CAMPGROUND and inquired about camping on the beaches of Lake Erie for a few nights. I was told that for $25 a night, I could do just that. I stopped at my local Walmart and purchased tent, air mattress, sleeping bags, and a few other camping necessities. After my shopping spree, it was time to pick up Jen then of to Erie we would go.
Here is a picture of my camping buddy. (Sorry Jen, this is the only photo I had of you) LoL. We arrived in Erie around 1pm and checked in at Sara’s Campground. I was advised not to set up the tent till later in the evening so we made the short drive over to Jerry Uht Park and it was time to let the ballhawking begin. Below are a few random photos.
Here is a view from outside of the ballpark in RF. As you can see, there is a large net above the RF Wall to protect the cars driving past from being struck by a flying baseball. If you have ever shagged balls during BP in Erie, you can attest to the fact that the net is useless. Yes, the net does prevent a few balls from leaving the ballpark. However, 90%+ of the home runs clear the net and leave many with massive dents in their vehicles as well a few broken windows.
This is the area behind the RF Wall. As you can see, vehicles are lined up like sitting ducks waiting to be struck. I shagged balls in RF during BP and there were a few times I would purposely miss a ball just to see what kind of damage it would do when it struck a vehicle.
This is the area below the CF Scoreboard. Great spot for finding Easter Eggs after BP. I found 9 alone in Day #1. I don’t know exactly how many balls I snagged on July 16th during BP, but I’m guessing the number was close to 50. There is a guy who sits in the Parking Lot on the first base side during games who buys the decent looking balls for $3 each to get autographed. I sold him 20 balls during my first day. I’d have to say it was quite possibly the easiest $60 I’ve made in quite some time. Jen didn’t quite get my obsession with chasing the baseballs around and was even more confused when I told her I’d rather wait outside during the game to chase foul balls and to possibly catch a home run. I was fully prepared for her to get crazy and demand for me to take her home but she seemed cool with it and headed into the ballpark to watch the game. I’m pretty sure that after I told her it was “Buck Night” and she could get 24oz. Beers for $1 each all night helped a lot too. As Jen sat inside getting wasted, I spent the majority of my time behind the RF Wall hoping for a home run. We checked on each other periodically during the game. I checked on her to make sure she wasn’t passed out in the seating area from drinking too much, she checked on me to make sure I wasn’t hit by a car while chasing balls.
Nick Castellanos was playing RF for the Erie Seawolves. Castellanos is a 3B but his path to the bigs is currently blocked by Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers are looking for a way to get him to Detroit as fast as possible so he was making his debut in the outfield on July 16th. I got a text message in the bottom on the 2nd Inning that Jen was bored and she wanted me to come inside for a little bit. GRRRRRR, that’s all I thought. I went inside and spent a few innings with her. While inside, I took a few photos.
During the 3 innings I did spend inside the ballpark, I managed to get asked quite possibly every question about baseball by a visibly intoxicated Jen as well as miss a 3rd Inning Buck Britton Home Run that cleared the wall in RF. I went back outside of the ballpark in the 5th Inning and was followed by Jen. I promised to her that I was only going to stay for 1 more inning then we could go. I could tell she was annoyed but oh well, I warned her before we left about how it’s not a good idea for people to come to a game with me.
In the 6th Inning, Nick Castellanos homered to RF and luckily I was outside this time to retrieve the ball. Within 30 seconds of the ball coming out, I was approached by the guy who bought 20 balls from me earlier for $60. He offered me $100 for the Castellanos HR ball. Without even thinking about it, I said sure and Jen just stood there in shock. She wanted to know how the hell I made $160 from selling “stupid *bleeping* baseballs”. Jen says that she doesn’t even make that much working for 3 days. I found that pretty amusing. The guy told her that if she caught a home run hit by someone else during the game, that he would also give her $100 for it. I have to admit that offering a drunk girl money to do something is not a good idea. They can get quite obnoxious and at the same time entertaining. I’m guessing that Jen had at least 12 beers during the game so keeping her distracted so I could stay for the rest of the game wouldn’t be a problem. Below are a few more random photos.
Seawolves Slugger Jordan Lennerton led off the 9th Inning with a HR that landed in the construction area in CF. I scurried over and scooped it up for my 2nd Home Run of the day. The guy who purchased the Castellanos HR from me earlier must have already went home because he never came out after the Lennerton blast. Jen spent innings 8 and 9 chillaxing in the AC in my car. Instead of sticking around for autographs like I had hoped to do, we headed to the beach to setup the tent. I knew it was going to be a disaster. Surprisingly, even though it was pitch black outside, we managed to get the tent up. After rolling around all over each other sweaty and miserable for an hour or so, Jen had the genius idea to go for a swim. We spent the next 2 hours splashing around Lake Erie hoping to get cooled off. I’m pretty sure the cold water also helped Jen sober up. LoL. At around 3am, we made our way back to the tent and somehow fell asleep. We were awaken at 6am though by some very obnoxious kids running around the beach. Really people, it’s 6am… I wasn’t a “Happy Camper”. HaHaHa. Jen also wasn’t too amused. We both probably smelled pretty bad from sweating and from the water and were also not too happy about being in a zipped up tent when it’s 85 outside. There was also condensation stuff inside the roof of the tent dripping onto us. I’ve been waiting a long time to use this word, but my Romantic Camping Idea was an EPIC FAIL. At around 7am, we stopped at Bob Evans and had some breakfast then it was off to find a hotel to cool off and hopefully get some rest.
The Sheraton in Erie ended up being our destination. I would like to give a quick thank you to the guy who bought the Castellanos HR from me. You essentially paid for our hotel room and made up pretty happy. We explained to the lady at the front desk about our horrendous stay on the beach and she promised the hotel would be a lot more romantic than a tent on the beach. Anyways, we both got a much needed shower then layed down to nap for 7 hours. Yes, a 7 hour nap. We both woke up feeling refreshed and headed off the Jerry Uht Park for Day #2. Below are a few random photos.
The Jordan Lennerton HR I got the previous night landed in the construction area above. I had a few goals for this game. I wanted to get my Lennerton HR ball signed, obtain signatures from Machado, Schoop, and Castellanos, and snag as many balls as possible during BP. BP was once again a blast, I’m pretty sure I caught at least 30 more baseballs today. I ended up selling another 20 balls to the guy on the first base side for $60. I also told him about our horrible stay on the beach. He then told me he owns a hotel on 12th St and if he would have known we were headed to the beach to sleep in a tent, he would have given us a free room. He extended an open offer for our next trip to Erie and asked that I take it easy on him the next time he wants to buy a HR Ball. I promised I would and then headed into the ballpark. Yes, I headed into the game. I had promised Jen that I would watch at least the first 5 innings with her inside. Castellanos homered in the 3rd Inning. Luckily, the ball was hit to CF and bounced off the scoreboard and came back onto the field. Phewwwww… I headed out to RF in the Bottom of the 5th Inning.
Can you read the sign that says “CARD”? Jonathan Schoop homered over that sign in the 6th Inning and the ball landed in the construction area. I used my Usain Bolt speed and raced over and scooped up the ball. I was pumped. After getting the Schoop ball, I headed back inside to talk to Jen to explain how we needed to stay after the game so I could get autographs. She told me I was a creeper but for some reason agreed. Now, I’m going to do a quick photo recap of what happened.
Upon arriving at the hotel, I decided to see how many baseballs I had left from BP. Please keep in mind that I sold 40 balls already. Well, guess what? I had 40 more in my possession. 80 balls in 2 days of BP is just insane. I absolutely love Minor League Baseball. LoL
I did forget to mention that I got the Lineup Card from the Seawolves Dugout on the 16th. I like collect Lineup Cards from Minor League Games I’ve attended. I probably have close to 100 from the games I attended in the Florida State League last season. Below are photos of some of the balls I missed during BP that bounced off of the road behind the RF Wall.
This is one of the coolest items I’ve had signed in quite some time. Seatback from Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, MD. Home of the Frederick Keys. Current Baysox Star Manny Machado played there last season. The story of how I obtained this Seatback in the first place makes it that much cooler. Anyways, right after I had my HR Ball signed by Schoop, Manny came over and asked if anyone wanted anything signed. Machado and Schoop are like Peanut Butter and Jelly. You won’t find one without the other, they are inseperable. I’m not sure how everyone else feels about Machado but I think he is one heck of player and a really nice guy. Usually players of his caliber are ignoring fans and come off as ignorant pricks. Manny seemed like a genuinely nice guy and made sure everyone who had something to get signed got it done. There were only 3 of us waiting for autographs though. LoL. After asking what the Seatback was, I explained to him it was from Frederick and he proceeded to ask if I wanted anything special inscribed on it. Being the idiot that I am, I asked if he would write “To: Rick”. WoW once again, I probably should have asked for something like 2010 1st Round Pick. Machado gave me a hella big autograph then hoped on the bus and headed to the team hotel. I proceeded to hop in my POS Camaro with Jen and headed to the Sheraton. After a relaxing night in the AC, I woke up feeling like a million bucks. We stopped at Pizza Hut for lunch then I dropped her off and went home and slept some more. I heart me some sleep. Pirates vs. Marlins coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I’m taking my ballhawking to a new level this coming series. Check back soon for details.