How To Get A Ball At Progressive Field

The How To Get A Ball At Progressive Field
by Malcolm MacMillan
  • Right field seats are open during batting practice
  • Home Run Porch is exciting during games
The Toyota Home Run Porch in left field is a fun place to hang out and try to catch a home run ball.

Getting a ball at a Major League Baseball game is on the bucket list for many sports fans -- unfortunately, some of them might be attending the same game as you. Don't let the crowd discourage you; if you use every trick in your arsenal, you greatly increase your odds of leaving Progressive Field with a baseball.

Progressive Field affords fans numerous ways of getting a baseball. The first -- and best -- of these options is during batting practice. BP takes place before most games, although there's no way of knowing if it's on until you reach the ballpark. (It's a good idea to peek through the gates to field level to look for the screens. If they're on the field, BP is a go.) Batting practice is not as common before day games, especially if the home team played the night before. Remember that inclement weather isn't your friend, because BP is usually scrapped if it's raining.

All these factors aside, batting practice takes place most of the time. If you attend a 7 p.m. game, players will most likely be hitting. Get to the park as early as possible and line up at Gate C, which is closest to the intersection of East 9th Street and Eagle Avenue. There are a number of parking lots close to this gate, meaning it will probably be the first one you see. Gate C opens at 4:30 p.m. for 7 p.m. games and gives fans access to select areas of Progressive Field, including one that gives you a good shot at a ball. For this reason, try to be to the gate by 4 p.m. and at the head of the line.

When the gates open, move quickly into the stadium and take a quick right. Ahead, you'll see an opening into the seats in right field. This is the only section immediately open to fans, although those with season's tickets can get into the left field bleachers. Because batting practice will already be underway, the right field seats might contain a handful of BP home runs. Descend through the section quickly while looking left and right for balls. Remember, they can hide under a seat or even in the fold of a seat. Once you've surveyed the area and hopefully come up with something, get your glove on and get ready for more BP home runs to enter the area. It can't be emphasized enough how quickly you must get to the right field seats if you want to find a ball that was hit earlier. Many other fans will run to this area as soon as the gates open. Don't be timid -- the faster you are, the better your chances will be.

As fans fill the right field seats, most will gravitate to the front row, where they'll hope to catch home runs or get a toss-up from a player. While this strategy can work, there's also more competition in the first few rows. Home runs can often land deeper in the seats, so find a sparsely populated area along one of the aisles. (If you stand in the middle of the section, you'll have limited mobility compared to being on an aisle.) A tip to remember is to watch for balls that carom off the top of the wall, which is hard and creates crazy spins. When a ball hits the top of the wall on the fly, it will often soar several rows back. A word of caution: If you're visiting Progressive Field with small children, keep them out of this area during BP, as it can be dangerous.

When the ushers open up the rest of the park an hour before first pitch, consider checking out the lower seats for balls from BP. If you're really dedicated, line up at the gate that allows access to the left field side of the stadium and race to the bleachers. Ushers are supposed to pick up balls that land in the stands, but there's still a chance one or more slip past them. If you're interested in autographs, now's the time to head toward either dugout. Another key place to look is in Heritage Park. If batting practice took place, some balls were sure to land in the area, but given the trees and shrubs around the park, it's easy for balls to go undetected. Visit the area as soon as possible and push aside the tall grass at the base of the trees and look in other areas obstructed by vegetation. You never know what you'll find.

Progressive Field has a number of ideal areas for catching foul balls or home runs during the game. Perhaps the most unique of these areas is the Toyota Home Run Porch, located in the left field corner. You don't need a specific standing-room only section, which is essentially an open, concrete area. Most of the fans will flock to the railing, but remember that home runs can land well onto the porch area. As is useful during BP, find an open space (standing back from the crowd is fine) and wait. You might just get lucky.

If you're determined to catch a home run ball from your seat, make sure your ticket puts you in the lower rows (and ideally on the aisle) of the left field bleachers or the sections in right field. If your section isn't crowded, or if there's a relatively empty section nearby, relocate to it to reduce the competition you'll face if a home run comes your way.