After some time off, it was time for the Pirates to come back home and I was ready. It was the beginning of the Pirates home interleague schedule and some bigger crowds because it was a Friday, the Pirates were doing well and interleague generally draws more fans regardless of how bad the other team is. Fans don’t get to see these teams much and the Royals most recent trip to PNC Park before this one was in 2009.
I was able to get a stretch in before heading to the ballpark. I knew I wanted to do what I could today as Ballhawkfest was the next day, and I wanted to be sure that I would be ready.
When gates opened, I was still waiting for my friend Colston but had to speed in there where of course there were no easter eggs to be found.
It took a while to get on the board but Doug Slaten threw a ball to me just because my glove was up. Okay. Ball #1. I was talking to someone who said he had never caught a ball and he had a glove so I asked if he wanted it and slipped in his glove.
I was still talking to him as the third group came up. Matt Hague was taking his second round of cuts when I saw a ball coming in hot and straight for me. I knew I was the only one with a shot at it since it was not going to bounce into the seats. Bullpen Coach Herbie Andrade and the Pirates relievers had a front row seat as I bent down over the left field wall and snagged the ball for ball #2. I got some applause but picked right back up where I left off in my conversation.
I wish I could say that picked me up and Pirates BP went better, but of course not.
I tried my luck in the corner in left field but the ball never carried enough to get a toss up from Royals reliever Louis Coleman when the team took their cuts, but it did not work.
So onto centerfield I went where it still was not terribly crowded. A few minutes in, Royal reliever Kelvin Herrera tossed me ball #3 after I asked him in Spanish. He was pretty generous with toss ups both Friday and Saturday. More on that in the next entry.
I then relocated to the first base side where Saturday’s starter Vin Mazzaro was by himself. I was able to get him to throw me a baseball for ball #4.
The Pirates would win the first game of the series against the Royals and remained two games back as the Cincinnati Reds were able to beat the Detroit Tigers on a walkoff suicide squeeze. You don’t see that every day.
The next day my fortunates as well as the Pirates would change.