Due to a severe illness, I was forced to miss the entire Cardinals series. The rain during that time period did not help anything either. I had planned on attending all three games, so you know it was a serious illness when I had to miss them all. I also had to skip Friday due to work obligations. This left me with two days and one batting practice to get four baseballs to eclipse my season goal, and seven baseballs to surpass the 200 career baseballs snagged mark.
I arrived at this game early, feeling healthy because of my new gluten free diet and ready to go. I wanted to get that seven at this game and consider everything I snagged Sunday as a strike extra.
I was moving pretty good and my glove work was still fine despite the time off. It was as if I had never left.
When the gates finally opened the PNC Park people were not the swiftest. Only one scanner was ready, and no promotions were out. I actually was intrigued to look at the schedule and perhaps plan out next season.
Regardless, I searched for easter eggs, and came up empty. After a short while in which nothing was being hit out to left field, I made my move and went over to the first base side.
Over there was Jared Hughes and new catcher Matt Pagnozzi. Things were rather slow, and I was surprised to find two ushers over there as well. That set me off a little, as I knew that there would be no easter eggs there either.
I saw a ball that was just out of my reach and I waited for someone to get it, but they did not make much of an effort while over there and I gave up hope in favor of standing closer to my spot.
There two baseballs were hit and I snagged both of them for balls number one and two. I ended up deciding to give both of these to the ushers to give to kids. I did not need those baseballs, and it was those fourth and seventh baseballs that I really wanted.
For my third ball, I just went back down to the wheelchair area and snagged it. It is fuzzy as to who hit it, but I would guess Pedro Ciriaco as he has been the only Pirate willing to hit it there.
As I was snagging my third, a ball landed right by me and I could have snagged it outright, but reliever Jose Veras was coming over, so I did not want him to walk over in vain. Perhaps he sensed the milestone, because with his IPod in his ear, he made a big deal about picking it up. He playfully groaned as he bent over to pick it up and then gave it to me for ball number four and my 128th baseball of the season. I offered him back the third ball and he just told me to keep it.
It was at this point that the Reds came out. I did not want to blow my cover, so I decided to just stay in Pirate gear. I still knew all of the relievers and was on top of my game.
It ended up that I didn’t really need it, and balls number five and six ended up in my glove after overthrows and I could have easily had a seventh if I was quick enough.
I did not have to wait that much longer for a seventh baseball, as another overthrow came and lefty Matt Maloney asked for it back. I gave him a nice throw. He ended up giving it back to me and it was the same baseball (I paid attention) and it was my seventh ball and 200th in my career. I was quite pleased when I got this, again considered everything from there a strike extra.
Well I looked for easter eggs in center field around 5:30 and came up empty, a bummer as was trying to get toss ups from players.
Closer to six, I headed towards the first base line. There, Ian Weir showed up on a tip from me. I had asked closer Francisco Cordero for a baseball in Spanish, but he ended up throwing it to Ian which stunk for me.
We both headed to the dugout to try and get a ball from first base coach Billy Hatcher. I ended up getting two and could have gotten three. The first was a runner, and the second was bobbled to me by the dugout and I drew some blood. It was worth it though to get balls number eight and nine on the day and 201 and 202 in the short career.
I went by the Pirates bullpen and got nothing baseball wise. I did get to talk a little to reliever Chris Leroux as well as Evan Meek. Chris Resop joined in asking for football scores from the Miami game and the Clemson game and I supplied those to him. I unfortunately did not get a baseball out of that, and did not ask/demand him for one either.
I left right after that, as I knew that because of The Great Race the next day, it would be an earlier than normal morning and the commute would be death. There also was a Steve Miller Band concert after the game, and I was not going to contend with that. Plus, it was my first game back and I was staying all game Sunday, so I did not want to harm my body.
Still at this game, it was nice to get the monkey back and snag nine baseballs. It was my most productive day from a snagging standpoint and also brought a lot of money to charity.
Stay tuned for my next entry to see how I fared on the final Pirate home game of the season.