8/12/11 Pirates at Brewers: Miller Park
I actually had been to Miller Park before. I went for a three game series against the Giants in 2009. Of course, things were a little different this time. I wasn’t staying in the same hotel as the visiting team and the Brewers were/are a really good team. It was good that I reasearched this because I was going to wait until gametime to buy tickets but to give you an idea of how popular the Brew Crew is, here’s a picture of the line at 12:00 pm:
The best part was that people were buying tickets for weeks and even a month in advance. Go down to the stats and see the attendance in the competition factor stat to be surprised that the stadium holds 43,000.
Anyway, I got my tickets for this game and the next day’s game but the only tickets available for the next day were Standing Room Only.
To the game. I arrived to the ballpark 2 1/2 hours early because Miller Park actually has a restaurant called Friday’s Front Row Grill which overlooks the field and where balls may then be snagged:
When buying the tickets we had the luxury of parking a few feet away from the stadium but for the game we had to park about 2+ miles away and walk to the stadium in order to avoid parking fees. Here is Richard pointing to the stadium as we walk towards it:
As for Friday’s, we somehow went through an opening in the stadium where your ticket didn’t need to be scanned. Don’t ask me how it just happened that way. We were then seated with two small caveats: 1. There was a 1 hour time limit on the table ( knew about this and was fine with this because the gates would be opening as our table expired) 2. There was a $30 minimum. The latter was a bit tough considering both Richard and I are vegetarian and Friday’s, Applebee’s, and that brand of food is not known for its vegetarian options. As for the actual spot of our table, it was all the way to the left of the the seating (I took this next picture with my back against a wall):
Initially, I thought this was going to be a problem because I couldn’t range to my left in order to snag balls but as you can see, the ceiling was pretty low and as a result not many baseballs would go into the seating. The positive part of having no one sitting to my left was that any ball hit to my left on that the players came out to field I would have exclusive asking right to ( no one else would be closer to the ball.
To add another theme to this trip, it was the trip of over-cautiouness. As in, I was too cautious about not having players see me get a ball from another player and as a result got nothing from the Brewers players. Here is a picture illustrating what I’m talking about:
I see a ball rolling to the wall to my right but I am not calling out to Tim Dillard as he was fielding it because I was afraid the other players would hear me and not toss me balls after that. Let’s call the culmination of this cautiousness lost opportunity #1.
Lost opportunity #2 came when a ball was hit to my left and here I am re-enacting the moment:
A ball came what seemed to be right at me but it kept tailing and tailing and eventually went just out of my reach. I might have been able to get it but there was a bit of a fall and in the moment I didn’t have my hand on the railing like in this picture but had I, I might have caught the ball but it bounced off the concrete then the railingabove it and back onto the field. While we’re talking about life threatening situations, let’s get them all out of the way. Right after/during Richard taking that last picture, another ball appeared to be hit right at me again. Except instead of tailing, this ball kept hooking. I would have tried to lunge out and grab it over the table but I realized it was headed right at Richard and so I yelled either “Heads up,” or “Duck,” as I knew he was looking at me and not the field. The ball whizzed six inches over what would have been his head had he not ducked and hit this metal container of sorts:
It then of course didn’t stay in the restaurant but then bounced on the concrete below us and back onto the field. The Brewers threw neither of these back to us.
Finally, a ball came that was snag-able. A ball was hit far too low/left for me to catch but it bounced right into the gap in front of me. Since I had my glove trick ready, I started to lower it into the gap to knock the ball closer:
All the people in the restaurant were huddled over the railing but a police officer came from the right of the gap, smiled at my glove trick, picked the ball up and threw it to me for my non-existent copyright infrigment. Here I am with the ball:
I would say this was at the 50 minute mark of our 1 hour stay at Friday’s and it was definitely disappointing to only have one baseball to show for a hour of being in the stadium while having four opportunities pass by me. When I thought it was a good time, I lined up to get into the stadium itself. I thought my ticket would be scanned at this line but turns out Richards and I could have not bought a ticket and still had the same results we had as we never pulled out our ticket once by request.
As soon as I got into the stadium, I lined up in Left Field foul ground behind the Pirates warming up and hoped to get a ball from them. I tried all of the pirates but here are the highlights from my time there. I called out to Joel Hanrahan and he took a look at me but tossed the ball to a young Brewers fan with whom I had been talking to in line and had actually mocked me for wearing Pirates gear (jokingly). I had heard that Hanrahan was anti-ballhawk and I am pretty sure he knew something was up when he saw me but he also seemed confused by my cheerful nature when dealing with the other fans getting baseballs. I even assisted him in getting baseballs to the kids two other friends whom he had invited to the game (both from Hanrahan). The bullpen catcher saw me doing this deed and threw me a baseball but a Brewers fan reached in front of me and gabbed it. The catcher shrugged and I shrugged back because I knew I would be seeing him later on as I was headed to the lower Right Field bleachers.
Here I am once Richard got there to take my picture:
I am the one to the far left of the picture in the bright yellow. Don’t worry, I wasn’t texting or any of that on my phone. I was looking up a player on the Pirates as my phone becomes my roster when I forget to print them out the day before. I sometimes use my phone to look up the player’s hit chart to know where to stand but this is usually more during the game so I am pretty sure I was looking up a player.Why do I point out that girl with the arrow? Well, she becomes important in my next baseball acquisition. I ran to my right as I had seen the batter ground a ball into the Right Field corner:
I then waved at a person I later identified as Mike Lincoln because I didn’t know his name at the moment as it was not on the phone roster. After that, he pointed what I thought to be straight in my direction and threw the ball to me at about stomach level. I was right behind that girl at this pint and she deflected it into the row behind me. I picked up the ball and suddenly was wondering whether the ball was intended for me or not. To remove all doubt, I gave the ball to her.
Then it was glove trick time. I am very shy about using the glove trick because I always think the ushers will have a problem with it but I saw a ball close to the wall of the bullpen in Right Field and dropped my glove over it. Here is the three part sequence:
That would be me:
1. Looking at the ball
2. Dropping my glove
3. Pulling the ball up
Notice the ball to the left of the picture? I probably wasn’t going to get that ball via the glove trick I waited for that bullpen catcher to come into the bullpen a few minutes later and asked him if I could have another chance but he said something that I couldn’t hear and left the ball. I then gave up on the fact and went up to the second deck where I would have more of a shot at hit baseballs because the second deck really hangs over the first and so only like the first five rows have a shot of getting a ball hit to them:
Right after he took that picture, Richard took a picture of where we came from:
That may not seem like that much of a walk but it was a very indirect route due to the fact that there were railroad racks in the way. For those who know the area, we parked at about 50th and National, walked to the Hank Aaron trail, walked that from National to the pedestrian bridge and walked over that to get to the Harley Davidson gate in Center Field.
Back to ballhawking, here is a picture showing the first part of an interesting event:
A Pirates lefty hit a ball to my right. I looked to make sure my path was clear (pictured) and ran to where the ball was headed. I thought I was camped under it but moved about two feet to my right and so I reached for it. Turns out a man who looked like he knew what he was doing reached out at the same exact moment and our gloves knocked into each other and neither of us ended up getting the ball. You may remember that a similar incident happened on this day at Citi Field. However, on that day the man who knocked into MY glove stared me down and turned fire engine red where as this was Milwaukee and we both apologized to each other for bumping into the other’s glove.
I then saw a ball go in the direction of the bullpen. I was on the second deck of the bleachers and had never used my glove trick from more than 7 feet up but I looked down anyway to see if it was in range. Surely enough it was. Here is my glove using all of its available fishing line:
I measured out 30 feet of fishing line when I initially cut it. So, Richard and I discussed it and eventually concluded that I had glove tricked the ball from 26 feet up. I obviously couldn’t see the fans behind or to the side of the bullpen but when my glove got five feet off the ground with the ball in it I heard a noise from those two sections that was loud enough to be classified as a roar. I leaned over the railing a bit and saw close to 50 people gathered to watch on the lower level. Here I am pulling the glove almost all the way up:
That was nice but unfortunately it was my last ball of the day. Soon enough, batting practice was over and it was time to head to our seats. We were in Left Field. Want to guess where exactly?:
If you guessed right behind the foul pole give yourself a cookie. The tickets said partially obstructed view and I suppose the foul pole wasn’t big enough to completely block the field but we were right behind it two rows back from it section 233 row 2 seats 2+3. Safe to say we didn’t sit there. Instead, we sat from where this picture was taken and surprisingly no one came to take our seats. The stadium was absolutely packed. Miller Park holds 43,000 and the attendance for this game was 40,000 something.
For the game, the Brewers won the game and continued on what was an amazing hot streak for them. I don’t remember the exact score but I do remember that Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder hit back to back Home Runs in their last at-bats.
- 9 baseballs at this game (4 actually snagged and 3 pictured because I gave one away)
- 133 baseballs in 34 games= 3.91 balls per game
- 4 baseballs* 41,820 fans ( i was wrong in my estimate)= 167,280 competition factor
- Time at Game 4:27- 10:06= 5 hours 39 minutes