It’s Been A While!

Wow, it’s been a while since I have posted anything on here.

I have only been to 2 games this year, both at US Cellular Field in Chicago. At each game I managed to grab one ball. The last game I went to it was literally the last ball hit into the seats during BP.

Now I go to the games more to see guys that I know that are playing for various teams vs. Ballhawking. I worked in minor league baseball for over 15 years, many of which I spent as a clubhouse manager for several minor league teams. Right now there are probably 20+ guys in MLB that I had at one time or another over those 15 years.

Just wanted to let ya’ll know that I am not gone, haven’t retired or anything crazy like that. I have simply slowed down and I am enjoying life! What? Enjoying life without baseball? No chance, I have MLB Network, YouTube and the internet to keep tabs on all of my Ballhawking friends like Hample, Jabs, Fischer, McCovey Cove Dave, DEVOT and all you other whack jobs that run around like little kids chasing baseballs. FUN isn’t it?

You will see me at games now and then, who knows what city you might see me in next, but if you do see me don’t be afraid to say “HI”. It’s always fun to share all of my crazy Ballhawking and baseball stories!

Later

JW

Brewers game in Milwaukee plus an interview!

I got to go to a game in Milwaukee last night. So the best team in MLB play the Padres. 

I managed 1 ball during batting practice by way of the toss up. No I did not beg, it was overthrown to a couple of guys and came right to me. They didn’t even turn around after it went over their heads. In Right field at Miller Park there were a grand total of 4 balls hit into the seats and only 1 was even remotely close to me. 

On the way to the ballpark I got a phone call from a reporter with Sports Illustrated Kids. She was working on a story about Ballhawking at Minor League Games. It’s always fun when you can share insight and experiences with kids to help them do what you love doing!

Anyway, my blog posts aren’t that long anymore because I stopped taking the camera to the games. Maybe one of these days I will take it with again. For now enjoy and keep chasing history!!

Pujols Hits 499th & 500th Career HR and notes on the catch and missed catch!

Last night was a great night for baseball!

One of the games top players in the last 50 years hit his 500th career home run last night! A great accomplishment for a truly great person and also a great person!

I actually had plans to go out to Washington but when he still had 2 home runs to go I figured I would wait for him to hit #499 and then go for #500. What makes that hurt even more is that the ONLY section I looked for tickets in was the Centerfield reserved or as many call it the Home Run Porch. I had actually looked on stubhub for tickets for Tuesday night and found Aisle seats about 3 rows below where the ball hit but obviously I didn’t buy them or go! That is when you know it just wasn’t meant to be ;-)

Anyway, the cool footnotes on the guy that missed the catch and the guy that made the catch .

The guy that made the catch was Staff Sgt Thomas Sherrill of Pomona, CA. He is an Angels Fan and immediately offered to give the ball back to Pujols, “It’s his ball” Sherrill said. I sent him a message on Facebook and got a message back early Wed. morning.

The other cool footnote was the fact that a guy named Chris, the guy you see tumbling down the stairs, was the one that did not make the catch. However I was told by Thomas Sherrill that Chris did still get to meet Pujols after the game. I am not sure if that was something that Sherrill or the Nats facilitated but that is just cool!!

So Congrats again to Staff Sgt. Thomas Sherrill on his big catch and to Albert Pujols on hitting his 500th home run.

And my sympathy’s to Chris …. while I have never booted a milestone HR I have blown a few in the past 37 summers and it is not a good feeling!!

 

Actually made it to a game last week!!

So last week I hit the White Sox vs Indians on Thursday.

I got one ball during BP and probably could have got a few more had I yelled at a couple of players, changed my shirt and asked in a dozen different languages …. but as we all know “REAL BALLHAWKS DON’T BEG!” An occasional head nod at a guy picking up a ball is ok by Ballhawk rule 80342523.134 A. of course that is an unwritten rule so you’ll never find it. Anyway, I got a ball, I am on the board for 2014 and I might get to more games this year!

It’s so much more fun to run down a ball that you get or even catch it on the fly! As many of you know I, like many of the other Veteran Ballhawks are no really big on asking players for balls!

I have something fun in the works and I will let ya’ll know about it soon!

As for know it’s time to go watch and see if Mr. Pujols can get closer to #500

WOW! It’s been a long time!! I’M BACK!!!

So it’s been a while since I have last posted. I went to a handful of games in 2013 and got a few baseballs.

With all the things I have going on right now it is just really hard to post and do everything else.

You can always check out my progress and stats on MYGAMEBALLS.COM – my Screen Name on there of course – MLBallhawk

I will try to check in and put up some posts! I can tell you that I will be at a few games this summer.  Where?? Even I don’t know so just stay tuned and keep an eye on Mygamesballs.com ;-)

 

FRIDAY 5: JOHN WITT (From HALLofVeryGood.com )

FRIDAY 5: JOHN WITT (From HALLofVeryGood.com )

Written by Tim Anderson on May 17, 2013 04:55.

You probably won’t see John Witt’s name in any record books or his face on “Sportscenter”, but, his recent milestone is every bit as impressive as those that make news on the “worldwide leader”.

On May 8 at Dodgers Stadium, the famed ballhawk retrieved his 3000th Major League ball…a pretty cool milestone when you consider most of us would settle for just one!

HOVG:  Let’s start from the beginning. When did you first start ballhawking? What made you get into it? Do you remember your first ball?

WITT:  As far as getting into ballhawking, it was something to do while my dad took photos on the field. Of course, it might have had something to do with seeing my dad grab a Hank Aaron batting practice homer on the fly when I was seven at Milwaukee County Stadium.  I caught my first ball in 1977.  In fact, I caught two that night. The first was a ball hit down the line during batting practice. I was in horrible position in the second row. As the people in the first row leaned over, a security guard stuck out his foot.  The ball hit his foot, flew over those in the front row and right to me. Then, during the game, after between inning warm ups, Chet Lemon threw his ball back to the ball boy, it got past him and I leaned over the wall and picked it up off the tarp that it had landed on.

HOVG:  What is your favorite ball that you have snagged?

WITT:  Favorite ball?  Hmmm…I would have to go with getting the last rooftop home run at Old Comiskey Park hit by family friend Ron Kittle. On April 17, 1990, the wind was howling in for a game against the Red Sox. I had actually decided to get out of the cold and go home to watch the A’s play the Angels on ESPN since I had “ballhawk” friends there. As I got in my car, I turned on the radio and listened to the game as I left. As I went down Shields St., which is along the third base side of the park, I heard the announcers call a home run by Kittle. Then I heard, “I can’t believe he just hit that ball onto the roof”. As soon as I heard that, I immediately knew where the ball would likely be. I was just about to the street behind left field. As I almost made the lefthand turn onto the street, I saw a cop sitting there and chose to drive completely around Armour Square Park.  As I made my way behind the leftfield wall of the park, I pulled into a spot against the fence looking into Armour Square Park. My headlights were shining right on the ball. I got out and as I hopped the fence.  Another guy was running right at me. Thankfully I got to the ball first! I immediately went back and parked my car and went into the stadium to show off the ball to some friends. Shortly after that, I took the ball down to the front offices. Knowing this could be the last “roofer”, I told them I wanted to give it back to Ron. After the game, they took me and the ball to the door of the White Sox clubhouse. The door opened and Ron was standing right there, he looked out and said, “You caught it? You ain’t getting nothing” and the door closed. A couple seconds later, the door opened again and with that silly crooked smile that Kittle is known for, he said that he was just kidding and handed me one of his bats. He also signed the bat for me!

Later in the season, Gary Gaetti of the Twins just missed a rooftop home run by less than a foot. Thankfully it hit the facade and fell to the field!

HOVG:  In reading your blog, I see you expressed a little disappointment that you snagged your 3000th Major League ball by picking it up off the ground. I know running after that ball was mostly instinctual, but did you ever think about just letting it go and waiting for one to catch on the fly?

WITT:  I did think about that, a lot, but after the crappy day of ballhawking I had a few days earlier, and the fact that I was the only one to see it go out, I just had to grab it. Plus it got number 3000 out of the way and took the pressure off me.

HOVG:  Since you were outside the stadium when you snagged number 3000, you don’t really know who hit it. Does that bother you with such an illustrious personal milestone?

WITT:  Fortunately, I did find out that Adrian Gonzalez hit the ball. Season ticket holders get into the park at four o’clock and some of them knew that I was outside of the park.  They emailed me to tell me that it was in fact Gonzalez that hit the bomb to center that jumped the fence.

HOVG:  Now, with the ball in your possession, do you regret not waiting for one on the fly?

WITT:  I have learned never to regret anything. Number 3000 was something I had waited 36 years for, I definitely no regrets here on how I got the ball. Although it might have been nice to catch it on the fly, the most important thing was to simply get to 3000 and I did!

HOVG:  You’re 43, but are showing no signs of slowing down. When is the “MLBallhawk” going to hang up the mitt?

WITT:  Jokingly, I told some people that I could “retire” after getting number 3000. Then after grabbing five more baseballs, I realized that you just can’t “hang it up”.  Hell, Wrigley Field ballhawks Moe Mullins and Rich Burhke are in their 60s and show no signs of slowing down.  So at 43, it’s way to early to hang up the glove!

John Witt is a professional ballhawk who, over the past 35 summer, has caught more than 3000 baseballs during regular season Major League Baseball games. Among his game home run balls…Sammy Sosa’s 61st home run (1998), Bob Boone’s 100th career homer, Carlton Fisk’s 350th, Dave Winfield’s 450th, Dante Bichette’s first, 1989 NLCS home run by Kevin Mitchell, 2003 ALCS home run by Derek Jeter and the last roof top HR hit by Ron Kittle.

Check out the Hall of Very Good at http://www.HallOfVeryGood.com or on twitter @HOVG

U.S. Cellular Field – Angels vs White Sox – 5/12/13 – 1 Ball

So like every other Ballhawk in the world I went out in search of one of those pink Mothers Day baseballs. Unfortunately I was about the only Ballhawk that did not go home with one, or at least that’s how it seemed. After reading everyone elses tweets and blog posts I really think I was in the minority of those that did not come up with one.

With that said I still had a great time at the game despite the fact that it was 45 degrees! Here is the recap of the entire day:

The day started off with a great lunch with my Mom, my brother and his family. My mother has stage 4 breast cancer and so getting one of the pink MLB baseballs on Sunday would have been extra special. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, Regardless as you will see it was still a fun night for me. Here is a picture of (from L to R) my brother, my mom and me.

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After our lunch I decided at the last minute to go to the game on Sunday night. I got to “The Cell” just before the gates opened and when I got inside the White Sox were already done with batting practice and the Angels were on the field. I have seen the Angels hit at home in Anaheim and was looking forward to seeing their entire BP session on the road. Unfortunately it did not live up to the hype! I headed over to the left field bleachers for the first part of BP. There were only about half a dozen balls hit into the stands and about twice as many regular Ballhawks in the stands. Some of the Ballhawks that were at “The Cell” on Sunday were, Dave Davison (@Super_Dave ) of Ballhawk.net, The Happy Youngster (@Happy), Shawn ( @BallhawkShawn ) and Mateo Fischer (@observebaseball). I have known Dave for quite a while and never saw Happy while I was there so I still haven’t officially met him.

I must admit though when I get to a park and there are new Ballhawks around I usually wait until after BP to play the meet and greet game. Why? Well it kind of played out with Shawn when I went around to RF to play the last group of Angels BP. I had been in the RF seats behind the visitors bullpen for a few minutes when I saw @BallhawkShawn walking towards me. We said HI to each other and shook hands and talked as BP went on. There were no baseballs hit near us until the last 30 seconds of BP.

On of the Angels lefties launched a high fly ball right at us. I was camped out right where it was coming down and just in front of Shawn. Unlike most people that “Ballhawk”, I don’t stand there with my glove in the air waiting for the ball. I make sure I have position on others around me and then at the last minute I make my move and attempt to catch the ball. As the ball got closer I reached up just in front of Shawn and made the grab. The classic part of this (sorry Shawn) was afterwards Shawn saying to me “I had no idea what you were doing”. That is exactly why I wait until the last minute to put the glove up. They think it’s all theirs and then it ends up in my glove. The other factor there, and I don’t know if it factored in with Shawn or not, but with most “Ballhawks” knowing my history and number of balls caught it becomes intimidating for them. They tend to try harder and make mistakes, although Shawn did just about all he could. Anyway, it was cool to meet Shawn and snag my only ball right in front of him :-P

After BP we walked around by the dugouts and as I started to look for old friends around the park I noticed that my all time favorite White Sox player (and family friend) Ron Kittle was being interview in center field. I walked all the way out to center field and got there just before they finished up the interview. Here are a couple of photos.

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As I got out to where Ron was being interviewed on the Diamondvision (thats what it was called back in the day). They were talking about his 7 roof top home runs at Old ComiskeyPark at this point. For those of you that don’t know, on April 17th, 1990 I grabbed Kittle’s final roof shot in Armour Square park beyond the LF wall of the old ballpark. After the interview as Ron was walking back around to go downstairs for the first pitch ceremony I got to talk to him.

I said to Ron, “Geeze Ron, you could have told them about the awesome guy that grabbed that last Rooftop HR.” He laughed and said “I know that was you, wasn’t it!” We continued to talk all the way to the elevator. He asked if it was me or my brother that had sent him a message earlier in the day and we talked about the Good Old Days at the old ballpark. Ron truly is a class act, he has always been a good friend to our family both before and after the passing of my father. All I can say is THANK YOU RON because you truly are a great guy and you made my night on Sunday.

After I talked to Ron I headed back behind home plate where I ran into a guy that has been working as Sox security for at least 25+ years. He told me he had some seats so I ended up sitting behind home plate all night and this was my view.

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Unfortunately there were no foul balls that came up my way during the game but I did take a few pictures that I thought were pretty good. These are a few of the photos that I took. Make a comment and let me know which one you like!

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The last photo shows the zeros across the Angels line. At this point Sale had a perfect game going but it would soon be put to rest by the Angels Mike Trout as he singled to center in the top of the 7th with one out. So I didn’t end up with a pink Mothers Day baseball and I didn’t get anything other than the one baseball in BP but I got to meet some fellow Ballhawks, some old friends and a almost got to see history! It was a great day all around! Damn I am easy to please!