I first got this idea when Ballhawk Shawn did this entry on the last day of the regular season. So now that it’s actually Thanksgiving (as I wrote the first part of the entry. I suck at getting things done on time. Plus I’m working on four projects at a time in addition to being a full-time college student in the midst of the end-of-semester panic.) and Tony Voda wrote a similar entry, I thought I would do the same for the people I have met this year and I owe a thank you. So thank you to all of the people that I mention in this entry and any others I don’t have time to include but I interacted with this season. You all made this the most special baseball season of my present life. In no particular order…
1. Alex Kopp and Avi Miller– Thank you so much for not only being good friends to greet and make my experience at OPaCY ten times what would have been otherwise, but it also takes great friends to allow someone to stay with them for the equivalent of weeks. Without them I definitely wouldn’t have been able to make 64 games this season since I would have been confined to just Nationals Park during the summer. Also, it was a ton of fun getting to stay and hang out with them. This applies to both of them but in different ways. Avi stayed up until the darkest hours as he, myself, and his sister watched MLB Network or whatever. I spent less time with Alex, but any time I spent between games with him was so much more appreciated since he had to wake up at 6:00 each morning to get to work in order to get off work in enough time to barely make the 5:00 OPaCY gate opening time. I’m sure you are aware of this, but you are welcome to stay with me whenever you need to do so. Thank you, Alex and Avi.
2. Chris Hernandez– It was for a night and technically his girlfriend’s house, but I am again thankful for friends who allow me to stay with them even if for one night. Those couple of days along with your trip here to Washington were a blast to spend with you. It was nice seeing you at more ballparks this season than any other person. Thank you
3. Todd, Tim, and Kellan Cook– Although we were only able to meet up fro two games this season, both were a ton of fun to attend. I would say you guys made added the most fun above replacement per game of any other family in the league. (Sorry; couldn’t resist.) But anyway, thank you
4. Greg Barasch– Although this is the first season not being next-door neighbors any more, that didn’t stop you from being nice and housing me several days and being the only person I know who enjoys playing catch and looking at ballhawk statistics as much as me. Thank you.
5. Ben Weil– Since I was now in Washington, we didn’t get to meet up as often as in past years. But in the, what, four different cities, we were able to meet, it was a blast each time. I’m glad especially thank I was kind of able to be a part of two special moments with you around. Thank you.
6. Zack Hample– Again like Ben, we were only able to meet up with you a couple of times in various different cities. And also like him, you were a part of some particularly large events of mine this summer. Unlike Ben, though, you were a couple of times the reason for the events. You were nice enough to invite me to witness your world record-breaking catch, and I can not thank you enough for being the reason I am a ballhawk, and thus the event known as BallhawkFest. Thank you.
7. Grant Edrington, Ed Lauer, and Tim Anderson– Although you guys didn’t house me during my days going to games at OPaCY and you guys made it maybe a less special place to ballhawk at, you made that community the best one I have ever experienced on a day-in, day-out basis.
8. Paul Kom and Tony Voda– I say day-in, day-out basis, because while we are a smaller community who doesn’t show up to every game, we’ve built a nice community here in Minnesota. Hopefully we can meet up sometime during the winter when our common hobby of snagging baseballs isn’t pulling us every five minutes in different directions and we can actually stay together and talk in person. (Psst. I suggest another sporting event since Paul is doing his entry series and/or Twinsfest. I still don’t know how that’ll work with the outdoor venue this year.) Thank you.
9. Rick Gold and Dave Butler- I don’t know if we count as a “community,” but it was fun getting to hang out with you two at Nationals Park. Rick, I don’t usually go up and ask ballhawks questions directly, but I would say you are the person I have learned the most about ballhawking through observation. Due to weird schedules on both of our parts, we didn’t meet up in ridiculously long stretches like 2012, but it was still great sharing the ballparks we shared this year. Although I saw you at many games last season, it wasn’t until this year that I felt like I really got to know you, Dave. In talking to you and just sharing Nationals Park with you plenty of times this year, it was a pleasure to get to know you and have a friend that I pretty much knew was going to show up to the ballpark. Thank you.
10. Takyi Chan- It’s odd to put an after-season thank you in for a person that you didn’t see all year, but it was very nice keeping in touch with you despite not being able to meet up with you at all during the year. I am disappointed that we couldn’t, but again, I appreciate the effort to keep in touch. Also, if I had a daughter in college, I would also value that over going to baseball games. Thank you.
11. Jonathan Mueller– Even though you “only” went to six of the same games as me, you probably had the biggest impact on this blog in specifically three of those games. I’ve always wanted to be able to get action shots during batting practice, and you really don’t know how nice it was to have someone who could handle and take pictures with the camera. I truly do I appreciate what you did by taking pictures those games. Thank you.
12. Sean Bigness– At the beginning of the season you weren’t, but being my now-roommate, thank you for keeping me sane and not completely internet-entranced by providing an immediately available friend who I could talk about baseball with and not completely annoy within the first three minutes of the conversation. I think as baseball-lovers we can relate to the fact that not everyone out there loves it as much as we do. Thank you.
13. Ballhawk Shawn– It was really nice meeting you for the first time at US Cellular. Hopefully we can talk a bit more this offseason. Speaking of which: Where yo’ collab ideas at?! We’re running out of offseason to work with! But anyways, thank you.
14. Garrett Meyer- Similar to Shawn, it was really nice meeting up with you in Baltimore and getting to talk at Alex’s place after missing you in 2012. Sorry I couldn’t take you up on that offer to go to a Royals game, but logistics got in the way of being able to physically get to Kauffman when a Royals game was taking place. Regardless, thank you.
15. Rocco Sinisi- While I ultimately ended up disagreeing with you more than I agreed and felt you could have done so in a different way, you did make me question what ballhawking really is about and how we should go abotu recognizing those who partake in the hobby. Thank you.
16. The ushers at OPaCY, Nationals Park, and Target Field- While two thirds of you may have bad reputations nationally, coming from primarily New York stadiums in 2012 to having you three as my primary stadiums in 2013 was a much nicer experience since all of you ushers were very kind to me. Now I realize that I went out of my way to make ties with you ushers, but the fact that you allowed me to do so despite the fact that I was a ball snagger is still a credit to your niceness. Thank you.
17. Stubhub and OPaCY season ticket holders- I realize I mentioned all of the latter by name earlier, but this duo I’m thank you for making a hobby that everyone thinks would be extremely expensive into a hobby that is only kinda expensive. So for saving me much of the monies, thank you.
18. Every player who I saw toss a ball up in 2013- I don’t care whether it was to me or to a kid, if it was with a smile, or even if you meant to do it, tossing a baseball to a sometimes-suspecting fan is part of what makes baseball great and distances it from all other sports out there. So great, in fact, that there is a sub-culture surrounding simply the collection of these baseballs. So for being a part of this phenomenon, thank you.
19. All of the Twitter peoples- I feel like I neglect you/we don’t get to talk much sometimes, but whenever we do get engaged in conversation, it seems to mostly be for the better and go well. Including, but not limited to Andrew Miller, for being the reason this entry was published when it was. Thank you.
20. All of the commenters here- I know that I don’t get to responding to the comments as quickly as I should, but I really thing it is a great and awesome thing when you guys leave comments and we are able to have a conversation in the comments section of an entry I post. I hope we can develop the comments sections of these entries in the future. Thank you.