Category: Yankee Stadium

7/13/12 Angels at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

I had just spent five games in Washington the previous week, so it was time to come back to Janky Stadium (yes, that’s how I meant to spell it) for a couple of games. Can’t you tell how thrilled I am at that prospect?

20120717-113618.jpgIn addition, it was Friday the 13th. Usually, I have really good luck on Friday the 13th. This one, though, wouldn’t go as well.

First of all, I couldn’t find my glove at home, so I brought two surrogates:
1. A glove I bought on Ebay for $12. After two sessions of catch, I understood why it was listed for only $12, even though it was brand-new. The padding in the glove is non-existent, and it rips about as easily as paper. I had only used the glove thrice before this game, and look at the rips it already had:

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20120717-114414.jpgJust in case this glove completely tore open when I used it, I also brought a second glove. Go ahead, laugh. I deserve it:

20120717-114615.jpgHowever, it wasn’t my weird gloves that was the main sight at the gate. Check out this three-part picture showing the line outside Gate 6:

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20120717-115122.jpgHo-ly pop tarts. That is a HUGE line. Fortunately, I had gotten there pretty early and I was at the front of the line. This also saved friend and ballhawk, Ben Weil, who showed up a minute before the gates opened. He just hopped in line with me.

When I saw what was happening in the next picture,I figured it might have been because of Hat Day:

20120717-123335.jpgwhich brings up this: I must have gone to every Yankees Hat Day for the past two years. I am ALWAYS at Yankee Stadium when it’s Hat Day. I know I’ve already gone to four of them this year. Also, do you see the ticket scanner the guard is leaning against in that last picture. Well I was the first one to use it and even though it dinged when I scanned my ticket, the turnstile got stuck, so I couldn’t pass. Ben had gone through the guard sans turnstile, so he got out to right field before me. Here’s what he got there:

20120717-123741.jpgThanks, Ben. Really appreciate it.

 

Did you notice what was going on behind Ben? Here’s a better look:

20120717-124656.jpgThat’s right: nothing. Less than a minute after I got to the right field seats, the Yankees inexplicably stopped hitting.

So, Ben and I headed over to the third base dugout to see what the Angels would bring us. On the way, though, I noticed something weird. The Yankees had essentially put “For Sale” signs on certain seats. Except the seats in right field were more expensive than those in foul territory:

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20120717-130309.jpgBen explained to me that there is more of a demand for seats in home run territory, so they cost more. Sure, I don’t know the pricing for many other stadiums, but I’ve never seen this done anywhere else before. It’s clever and intelligent of the Yankees, but I don’t like it.

When we got over to the dugout, we met Zack Hample, who had gone in through a different entrance, since he wanted to start off in the left field seats.

Right after we got there, Zack started playing catch with a coach. Here’s a picture I took of him throwing the ball:

20120717-133659.jpgbut then I started to take a video of it. The entirety of which is on Zack’s account of the game.

After that, this was the most exciting thing going on on the field:

20120717-134859.jpgso the three of us goofed off to kill time.

Here is a picture Zack took of the two of us, where Ben is stepping on a ledge to try to be taller than me:

20120717-135539.jpgWhat do you think? Did he succeed? The brim of his hat is clearly above my head, but is his actual head higher? I’d say we’re the same height in this picture.

After that silliness, all three of us yelled out to both Steve Phillips and Cecil Fielder to try to get their attention. When we yelled out: “Steve Phillips nice hair.” we got no acknowledgement, but when we yelled: ” Hey, Cecil!” Fielder waved at us.

After all three of us got rejected by every player on the Angels pitching staff, it was time to try to catch some hit balls. It wasn’t nearly as easy as I hoped it would be. In my imagination, I was in a nearly-empty section as Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout peppered the seats with one ball after another. In reality, however, there weren’t that many balls hit into the seats, and this is what the seats looked like:

20120717-142002.jpgNot only was this not nearly empty, but it was actually the most packed I had ever seen Yankee Stadium, and it’s YANKEE STADIUM!

Batting Practice was over and I was seriously doubting my ability extend my streak. Yankee Stadium is in the top-5 toughest ballparks to get a ball during the game at. I had a bleacher ticket, so I was pretty well set I was going to get a ball from Mike Harkey or get shut out.

Actually, neither happened. I snuck down to the right field bullpen, because I remembered there were a gazillion balls in there:

20120717-190713.jpgSurely enough, the groundskeeper threw me one of the balls:

20120717-190951.jpgThere would be no shutout at Yankee Stadium.

As for the game, I was in the bleachers and they were absolutely packed:

20120717-191506.jpgI mean the odds of me getting a ball out there, even with the Angels’ duo were pretty slim, but I’d always prefer to have an emptier section for mobility purposes.

While I was in the bleachers, I saw a couple of interesting things go up on the scoreboard. Here’s the first:

20120717-193452.jpgMy first thought was: “Wow, that’s impressive.” My second thought was: “How the heck do you have ‘approximately’ 36 home runs robbed?” If the number were an estimate, I would think it would be rounder, or is the stat inherently inconstant, so they just put this on there as if to say, “we’ve counted 36 for him, but some might not have gone over the wall and others might have, but that’s human error.” If it’s the latter, why don’t they put this on any other stat that is subject to human interpretation, like errors?

Here’s the second:

20120717-195046.jpgHow often do you see a pitcher’s innings as a number repeated four times. I think it’s cool.

How do you know it was a slow day for me snagging? When I do a lot of pictured-based writing. Here’s another paragraph of it:

I meant to just get a picture of the highest I’ve ever seen a Yankee Stadium spout water. Instead, what I got was an optical illusion:

20120717-201439.jpgThe water looks like it’s going into that puddle in the middle of the fountain, right? It’s actually in mid-air and about to fall into the shadow at the bottom of the screen caused by the indent in the metal.

Back to snagging, I tried to get a ball from the Angels’ bullpen people, but as they left, I noticed a ball on the center field side of the bullpen, so I tried to convince a policeman to toss me the ball. He picked it up and then stood in front of the bullpen as such:

20120717-202855.jpgEventually, he turned around and it became apparent he was just joking around in not tossing me the ball right away. Here is a picture Zack took right after the toss:

20120717-203459.jpgIt’s VERY hard to pick out, but Zack identified the ball as the very faint streak going across the officer taking the picture’s uniform. Here’s my picture right after I got the ball:

20120717-203745.jpgIt’s hard to explain, but even though it isn’t the darkest ball I’ve ever gotten, I think it’s the dirtiest ball I’ve ever gotten in term of the amount of actual *dirt* you can see on the ball.

After this game, I actually stayed around a bit after the game ended. I then got to feel the experience of being in a pretty much empty stadium. It was great:

20120717-204341.jpgI then went to this situation’s polar opposite in the New York transit system:

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STATS:
• 2 Balls at this game

20120717-213748.jpgNumbers 341 and 342 for my “career”:

20120717-213904.jpg• 120 Balls in 25 Games= 4.80 Balls Per Game (or 5 balls under “ballhawk’s 500”)
• 2 Balls x 47,873 Fans= 95,746 Competition Factor
• 34 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 10 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 77 Balls in 20 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.85 Balls Per Game
• 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at New Yankee Stadium
• 5 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:32-11:13= 7 Hours 41 Minutes

6/29/12 White Sox at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

You know you didn’t get everything the day offered when your first picture is of a ball you missed:

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A ball, which I should have caught on the fly, hit right below the “State Farm” sign. I was on the staircase, below it, but it ricocheted so quickly, it zoomed right past me, where a guy picked it up.

Greg Barasch was at this game, and so was his dad, Shelly . A few seconds after I returned to my spot on the staircase, Shelly arrived on the scene, telling me he saw me miss the ball that I agree I “should have had. He then tossed me a bottle of water:

I can’t thank him enough for him. This was a game with ridiculous humidity, and I would have been miserable/dead had I not had this bottle of water.

My first ball of the day came in an unintentional way. I went down to the front row to get Jayson Nix to throw me a ball. Just as I called out to him, a Yankees righty hit a ball just to my right. There was another person there, but they were only paying attention to Nix, so I reached slightly over them and caught the ball:

The arrow points to where I was when I caught the ball.

My next ball was also kind of lucky. I misplayed it, like most balls this day, but I ended up with it. Here is the path the ball took:

I “should” have gone in the last row, where I could have caught the ball on the fly, but I went two rows under that, so I turned around and tried to play the bounce. It bounced way too fast for me to actually catch it, but miraculously, the all hit my foot, and stopped right there so I could pick it up. I think I gave this ball away, but it may have been the next ball I snagged that I gave away. I need to take better notes, I know.

After this, I went over into foul territory, along with Greg to get the White Sox to toss us some baseballs, but the White Sox didn’t throw ONE SINGLE baseball into the crowd, not even to Greg or myself, who were decked out in White Sox gear. After getting rejected by all the White Sox, we both went back to the left field seats.

I then sandwiched a ball that hit right off my glove, and I should have had between two balls I caught on the fly in left field. Despite the fact that the ball I missed was one I definitely should have had, I am VERY proud I caught two balls on the fly. Why? This was the view of the spot where I was standing (I stepped out of that spot briefly to take the picture):

That said, I was taller than all of them, so when I caught the second of the two home runs (I don’t know who hit either). I I gave it away to one of the kids.

I can’t remember if it was before or after the catches, but while I was in the left field seats, I bore witness to the gutsiest thing I’ve ever seen at a ballpark. Coincidentally, it was Greg who did it:

Greg is the one in the circle. When a ball got hit into the bleachers where the arrow is, no one in the bleachers was closing in on it, so Greg climbed into the bleachers to secure the ball. The weirdest thing about the whole experience was no security guards ever came up to him afterwards. Nothing.

Like I had done the previous day’s game, I went over to the right field seats when Adam Dunn’s group came up. As is expected, they took a few rounds before they started pulling the ball. When they did, most of the balls were going into the Yankees bullpen, but Adam Dunn hit one the back row, where I was stationed, so I ran over and caught it on the fly:

The spot where I caught it is pointed out, but do ou notice anything odd about the baseball? If not, this should clear it up:

Oh. My. Goodness. It was a Dodgers Stadium 50th anniversary ball. That means I only have to snag the Astros and Marlins balls to have gotten all of the specialty commemorative baseballs this year. For those who don’t know, there are six commemorative baseballs being used during the regular season. They are: the Mets are commemorating their 50th year as a team, the Houston Astros are doing the same, the Dodgers are commemorating Dodgers Stadium’s 50th anniversary, the Marlins are commemorating the inaugural season of Marlins Park, the Orioles are commemorating the 20th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the Red Sox are commemorating the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. I have now snagged four of these.

Soon after the catch, security cleared everyone out of the left field seats. I then headed down the narrowest concourse (if you even consider it a concourse and not a tunnel) known to man, which also happens to be one that I have to deal with most days since it links right and left field at Yankee Stadium:

and up to my seats in the bleachers. I didn’t get anything up there for the rest of batting practice, but after it, I headed up to the batter’s eye where I got Mike Harkey (not pictured, because he walked out of view) to toss me my 6th ball of the day:

After which, I headed to my seat in left field, where this was my view:

As for the game, it was fugly, or a nice low scoring football game depending on your perspective. More specifically, the White Sox beat the Yankees 14-7. Like I mentioned, before, it was über humid this game. Even though the bleachers were packed to start this game, these were the views of the bleachers towards the end of the game from my seat:

Juan Nieves ignored me for the second straight night, and I left the game with 6 baseballs.

On my train ride back to Manhattan, I saw something you don’t often see:

I don’t know the exact odds, but I’d say it’s pretty rare when you see only one subway door open, not on purpose. So in this case, would it be “Stand clear of the closing door, please”? [lame New York joke] Oh, and the arm in that picture belonged to Greg. He ended the day with his post-B.P. total of 5 balls, despite sitting by the dugout the whole game. That’s bad for him, but it meant I had out-snagged the two ballhawks with the highest per-game averages on my gameballs.com the past two nights. This game I out-snagged Greg (number 2 on the site with an average of 7.31 Balls Per Game) 6-5. The previous game’s night I had out-snagged Zack Hample (number 1 on the site with an average of 7.47 Balls Per Game) 7-5. Yay for shallow victories!

;

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this Game (4 pictured because I gave two away)

numbers 313-318 for my lifetime:

  • 96 Balls in 19 Games this season= 5.05 Balls Per Game
  • 28 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 3 straight games with at least 3 Balls
  • 3 straight games with at least 4 Balls
  • 3 straight games with at least 5 Balls
  • 3 straight games with at least 6 Balls
  • 74 Balls in 19 Games at Yankee Stadium= 3.90 Balls Per Game
  • 19 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 4 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 3 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 3 straight Games with at least 5 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 3 straight Games with at least 6 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • Time Spent On Game 4:03- 11: 15= 7 Hours 12Minutes

6/28/12 White Sox at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

After taking a rare day off from baseball this week, it was back to Yankee Stadium for me. Look who I ran into at the gate:

That would be, right to left (because it will be less confusing that way):

1. George- A ballhawk who had been at the game Tuesday. Also, this would be his last game of the year, since he would be headed off to China to take part in a program, I believe the University of Bejing was putting on and would be off to St. John’s University after that.

2. Zack Hample– Just the reason I started ballhawking and this blog exists. No big deal.Also,as you can see, he is holding up a catcher’s glove. He is going to attempt a stunt today (July, 2, 2012). More specifically, he will be trying to catch a ball dropped from 1,000 feet high.
3+4. George’s friends, Stephen and Dylan. Pretty self-explanatory. I had seen these guys at a couple of other New York baseball games before, so, like George, they are “semi-regulars”
5. Mateo Fischer- The person who’s writing this sentence.

Since there were so many of us ballhawks at the gate, we split up into two groups. Zack and I went to left field, everyone else (including George’s dad, Jeff, who took the picture) went to right field. Zack took the top spot on the main left field staircase, so I took the bottom one. Therefore this was the view straight ahead of me:

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and this was the view to my left:

Do you see the guy in the corner of the section? Well, he actually got a ball that was intended for me. I diagrammed the whole thing out for you in this next picture:

The player in the right part of the screen would be Freddy Garcia. Well, when he went over to the spot I marked with the number “1”, I called out to him and he threw a ball he meant to throw to me. Unfortunately, as you can see by the path of the ball I’ve outlined, his throw came up short, fell into the first row, and the man I mentioned before picked it up. Right after this, Zack said, “How does it feel to have a player throw a ball to you and miss?” He was of course referencing the game earlier that week, where the Indians’ pitching coach had overthrown him and I ended up with the ball. Oh, if only Zack knew what would happen later on in this game…

After this, Garcia made up for missing me and tossed me a second ball he retrieved:

After that, a ball was hit, and I initially judged it would land in front of me, so I ran down a few steps. I then realized it was going back to where I had been standing. (Zack had actually gone elsewhere, so I was standing in the higher spot on the staircase for this ball.) I tried to back up, but it was too late, and the ball landed in this seat:

There, a kid (not pictured) beat me to the ball. Words cannot describe how frustrated I was with myself for botching such an easy play. I didn’t show any of it, though. I’m not really one to make a scene out of my frustration. Most of the exclamations of frustration I say out loud don’t carry a necessarily connotation to them.

Anyway, I then moved over to foul ground when the White Sox started hitting. I didn’t have a White Sox shirt, so I transformed a T-Shirt that I had picked up while I was in Baltimore.I turned the T-Shirt inside-out , and the rest of what I did can be seen in this two-part picture:

A pretty nice homemade White Sox shirt, eh? Especially when you consider I made it on the train ride to Yankee Stadium.

;

Actually, though, my “White Sox gear” didn’t help me get any baseballs from the White Sox. The only ball I got was actually intended for another person. More specifically, it was intended for Zack. Here I am with the ball and Zack beneath the arrow:

Just as I thought I had been shutout by the White Sox players, I started heading back to the left field seats. I was at this point a section away from Zack and probably ten rows behind him. Just then, I saw him get Don Cooper, the White Sox’s pitching coach’s attention. I figured I might as well position myself behind Zack in case of an overthrow. Well, Cooper DID overthrow Zack. What happened next is diagrammed in this next picture:

As you can see, I’ve drawn two curved lines into the picture. The one on the left shows where the ball initially hit after Cooper released it. It hit in a row almost exactly between Zack and I. Had it stayed there, it would have been a race between Zack and I, which he as the faster one would have won. Except, the ball bounced just right on the plastic part of the chair as to send it the path of the second line, right into the row I was running in. Obviously, I picked up the ball, but I also felt *really* bad for Zack. I’ve been on the other end of some of those and it stinks, to say the least.

When I got back to left field, it had gotten a bit more crowded. This was the view to my left:

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and to my right:

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If you read a couple entries ago, I mentioned a guy named Eddie (or is it Eddy?). He’s the one in the upper-right part of the picture in White Sox gear.

Behind me were two other ballhawks:

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Stephen had made his way over to left field (in the green), and Zack (in the White Sox gear) had come back from foul territory.

Anyway, after misjudging another ball that both Stephen AND I missed, I caught an Alexei Ramirez home run on the fly in the spot where I took the last three pictures from:

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I then saw Adam Dunn’s group coming up, so I headed over to right field. It was extremely frustrating for the most part, because although he WAS hitting home runs, they were all sailing over my head into the bleachers.

While, I was there, though, I saw a player turn around to search the crowd for a fan to toss a baseball to, so I started running to the side and waving my arms around to get him to notice me. He saw me and threw me a ball through a sea of reaching arms:

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He is the player with his glove covering his face. Who is “he”? I later identified the player as Jose Quintana. While I was looking him up, I found out he is actually Colombian. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll know I am actually Colombian, so it is always very special to get a ball from a Colombian player, especially a pitcher. What made it even more special was when I put that ball into my mygameballs.com account, it didn’t recognize him as a player, so I can say I was the first one on the site to get a ball from him. That’s pretty cool, in my opinion.

I then got a ball- not on the fly- hit by whoever was the “other” lefty in the group besides Adam Dunn. After which, one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen happened. I won’t diagram this for you, but here’s a picture of where it happened:

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Do you see the metal bar that is going right over the “Toyota” sign? Gordon Beckham hit an opposite-field home run that hit that bar and the popped straight up in the air. I had a beat on it, but the guy in the bottom right corner of the picture dove backwards into a seat and caught the ball.

After that, I caught an Adam Dunn home run on the fly and immediately gave it away to a kid who had also been pursuing it. Both he and his father thanked me. It was a pretty nice experience. So nice, in fact, that after security kicked everyone out of the right field seats, I gave another ball away on my way to the bleachers.

Once I got to the bleachers, the White Sox had ended their session of batting practice in lieu of something much weirder:

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Fielding practices in it of themselves are pretty rare before MLB games. This was even weirder because the White Sox were taking fielding practice WITHOUT ANY BASEBALLS. The coaches were hitting imaginary balls to the players, who were then executing a play. Weird.

In the bleachers, I tried to get a ball from the grounds person, and I thought there was no way I wouldn’t with so many baseballs in the bullpen:

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but somehow I came up empty handed.

My next stop was the top of the batter’s eye, where I would try to get Mike Harkey to throw me a ball. Harkey is the guy standing on the bench in the bullpen:

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I accomplished my mission… sort of. Harkey *did* throw me two baseballs. Unfortunately, neither was on target, so headed into the game at 6 balls.

Thanks to a friend who wasn’t going to be at the game, and gave me his ticket as a result, here’s where I sat:

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Pretty nice, huh?

There I managed to get within five feet of a Mark Teixeira home run during the game:

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It was caught by the person sitting next to the guy who’s standing up. Actually, the word “caught” doesn’t accurately describe the situation. Someone had the ball bounce off their chest. Then five people piled onto each other until he finally came out with the ball.

After the game, I moved over next to the bullpen to try to get a ball from bullpen coach, Juan Nieves, but he completely ignored me. While he was waiting for Mark Salas, who was still readying himself in the bullpen, and I was yelling my head off trying to get his attention; a second guy, who also looked like a bullpen catcher, looked at me. He then put down his oversized bag, unzipped it, and pulled out a ball he then threw to me. He’s the guy trailing Salas and Nieves in the following picture:

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Yay, happy ending!

STATS:
• 7 Balls at this Game (5 pictured because I gave two away)

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numbers 306-312:

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• 90 Balls at 18 Games= 5 Balls Per Game
• 27 straight games with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight games with at least 2 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 7 Balls
• 68 Balls in 18 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.78 Balls Per Game
• 18 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 7 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:59- 10:56= 6 Hours 57 Minutes

6/26/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Before I get started with this entry, I’ve been posting entries pretty quickly in the last 48 hours, so you may not have been able to read the  entires that preceded this one. Here are the links to the two entries, so you can give them the love they deserve:

1. The Bergino Baseball Clubhouse– A couple of weeks ago, I went to this baseball store, so I wrote an entry about my trip there using the pictures I took. Please, if you are a baseball fan, read the entry; even more so if you live in New York.

2. 6/25/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium– When I publish this entry you are reading, this entry will be less than 24 hours after the entry I am talking about, I want to make sure all you readers who check every so often know that I did indeed write an entry before this that you can read if you to.

Onto the account of the game…

I arrived a little late Yankee Stadium for my taste, and expected a bit of a line in front of me, but c’mon, this is ridiculous:

Thankfully, there were some other ballhawks at the front of the line, so I not so discreetly slipped into line with them. We all talked for the ten to fifteen minutes I was in line, and I actually found out, when I said I was going to the University of Minnesota, that one of them was originally from Minnesota; more specifically, a suburb of the Twin Cities by the name of Apple Valley. It was great that I had people I could stand in line with. However, when it came to the gates opening, two of the other ballhawks had announced they were going to right field. Therefore, I decided to try my chances in left field. In all likelihood, this cost me a ball. I remember one of the ballhawks named George coming over to left field after a few minutes and saying, “Yeah, there were only a few balls hit over there.” To this I responded, “There haven’t been ANY over here yet.” Whatever, all I needed was two baseballs and I was set for the game. I was currently sitting on baseball #298, and I really wanted to get #300 on what would have been my deceased dad’s 70th birthday.

This was my view of the field from my spot in left field:

It was pretty evident early on the pitchers in this part of the ballpark weren’t going to be throwing up many balls. Myself and George were yelling out their names, but they kept throwing balls into the infield ballboy (who was the one I went to high school with).

Just soon after that, a ball got hit to my right, and…well I’ll just diagram what happened in this picture:

The dotted lines are the path the ball took in the air and then when it hit the ground, the solid line emanating from the bottom of the screen is my path to the ball, and the other solid guy coming from the guy in the Yankee jacket (which I also own) is his path as he was really the only one competing with me for the ball. As I ran after the ball, it bounced off the concrete and thankfully didn’t bounce away, so I picked it up before that guy got to the ball.

Then Andruw Jones stepped up to the plate. H hit a ball so far to my left, I was considering not even chasing it because I thought it would go into the visitors’ bullpen. For some reason, though, I went half way through my row in semi-pursuit. I’m guessing my thought was it might bounce off the bleachers and come back to me. The ball narrowly missed both of those and went into the tunnel right next to the bullpen and cutting into the bleachers. I ran in after the ball and retrieved number 300. SUCCESS:

I didn’t really celebrate; instead I asked the kid who called me a “son of a…” were his glove was, making sure to say I might have given him a ball if he had a glove on. Of course I wouldn’t have given him #300, but I might have pulled out the previous ball. I’m not really strict about giving balls to kids with gloves, but the older the person, the more they need a glove, in my mind, before I give them a ball.

After this, I lined up in foul territory behind the Indians pitchers and position players:

Remember how the previous day I was having trouble getting players to toss me a ball because I only had an Indians hat? I came up with a little solution to that:

I printed out the Indians logo and simply taped it to my shirt, so it would kind of look like I had Indians stuff on. Right then, I got to see it work for the first time:

The player I have pointed out with my arrow threw me a ball right as he left the field. Anyone have an idea who he is. He’s probably a position player, if that helps at all.

After that, I went over to try to get a ball from one of the pitchers. While I was walking over there, Zack Hample was already calling out to the pitching coach, Scott Ridinsky, telling him, “Scott, show me the gun!” Ridinsky then threw a ball clear over his head, and I was in just the right row that I was able to jog to the right spot and make the catch. Sorry, Zack. Zack then looked back at Ridinsky with a look as if to say, “What happened?” Ridinsky then pointed as his arm as if to say, “I guess it’s too strong.”

I then messed around trying to get Chris Perez to toss me a ball with the University of Miami shirt I had on, but when I gave up trying this, I moved over to the right field seats (because the left field side was checking tickets), where I caught a home run off the bat of Travis Hafner. I then went to the left field bleachers where I got Chris Perez to toss me a ball. Both balls are pictured in the next picture:

The smaller arrows show what happened on the first ball, and the larger arrows show what happened on the second:

1. Travis Hafner hit a ball to my right, so I moved over and even though I thought the ball was clearly going over my head, I took a little jump and amazingly the ball was in my glove when I came back down. I then looked back to see I had robbed Zack of a ball a second time. Don’t worry for him, though. He still managed to set the Yankee Stadium record this game. The thing that stunk about this ball for me was there was an Indians player on the field who had told me he would throw me the next ball he got, but just as he fielded this ball, I caught the Hafner home run, so he didn’t throw me the ball. Had that ball been hit two seconds later, I would have had two balls from the right field seats.

2. Soon after the Hafner ball, security cleared out everyone in the right field seats who didn’t have a ticket, so I went up to my ticketed section in the left field bleachers. After I got there, a ball got hit to Chris Perez, who is one of the friendliest players in the league, so I called out to him, he turned around, and threw me the ball. Pretty simple, right? I then gave that ball away to the kid in the “Ruth” t-shirt in the next picture:

I spent most of the rest of my time in the bleachers trying to get an overthrow from another Perez toss-up, since he was tossing so many balls up.

That would be it for batting practice. After batting practice, I would first try to get  a ball from the groundskeeper in the visitors’ bullpen:

After that failed I went up to the top of the batter’s eye, where this was my view:

Why? Do you see the guy wit the arrow pointing at him? That would be Yankees bullpen coach, Mike Harkey. After the day’s starter has finished warming up, he usually tosses around five balls into the stands. I obviously had a ticket in the left field bleachers, so this was as close as I could get. When he looked my way, I waved my arms like crazy, so he tossed the ball my way. Here is the ball:

Why do I have that usher in the picture? I told him beforehand I was trying to get a ball from Harkey, so when Harkey threw the ball up to me, it was drifting to my right and this guy caught it and then handed it to me. So yeah, technically I didn’t get the ball from Harkey, but I would have caught the ball had this guy not been there. Just then I realized I had set my record for most ball in a game when Yankee Stadium had cleared both sides of the outfield seats before batting practice had ended. Not a bad way to celebrate June 26th at all.

As for the game, this was my view:

You see the player in the lower right picture? That would be Dewayne Wise. He made a very controversial catch in this game, so I feel almost obligated to mention I was at this game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the link. Other than that, Phil Hughes pitched an incredible game, going, I believe, eight scoreless innings before the Yankees bullpen nearly gave the game back. The final score was 6-4. Oh and want to see what my “Indians” shirt looked like after the game?

I just wanted to share one more picture from the game:

The special thing about this picture is Justin Masterson was at 100 inning pitched on the season. This may seem uneventful, but how many people actually reach 100 innings in a season before the All-Star break? I mean you can count out all relievers. To make it even more unusual, he had two outs in the inning, so I really only had a few seconds to realize it. Also, I think it’s pretty special that we both passed milestones this game. Masterson with his 100th inning and myself with my 300th ball. I don’t know, maybe i’m trying to manufacture something, but I love it when numbers match up like that.

Speaking of which…

STATS:

  • 7 Balls at this Game (6 pictured because I gave 1 away)

numbers 299-305 for my life:

  • 83 Balls in 17 Games= 4.88 Balls Per Game
  • 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 7 Balls x 43,006 Fans= 301,042 Competition Factor
  • 61 Balls in 17 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.59 Balls Per Game
  • 17 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • Time Spent On Game 4:13- 10:17= 6 Hours 4 Minutes

6/25/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

When I left my apartment, it just started raining. When I got to the ballpark, it wasn’t, but the line was already somewhat long:

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What was the net result of my weather situation? This:

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Bleh. It looked like getting number 300 would be a challenge today. I was currently at 296, but getting four baseballs at Yankee Stadium without batting practice isn’t that easy. Heck, getting four while there IS batting practice is no cake walk either.

See those two players warming up? That was Cody Eppley and Dave Robertson. Naturally, I moved over to try to get a ball from them. I didn’t. However, while I was waiting for them to finish up their throwing, an usher with a Yankee hat was walking through the Legends seats with a ball. I asked him for it, and he let me have it:

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After that, I moved over to the other side of the stadium to the Cleveland Indians pitchers warming up. Every time they threw it to someone else. I think I probably would have had a couple toss-ups, had I actually brought an Indians shirt, but all I had was an Indians batting practice- not really decipherable from 100ft away- and a generic red shirt. A fan I had seen at prior games, whose name I discovered this game was Eddy, had full Indians stuff, so he got four balls from the Indians.

After all the Indians pitchers left the field, Eddy and I sat down behind the visitors dugout and talked while we waited for some sign of movement out of the dugout for another chance at a few baseballs. We discussed a variety of things baseball, ranging from reckless aggressiveness in the stands to how we got started catching baseballs. While this was going on, I noticed there was an unusual amount of notable media members.  I guess this is pretty random, but I saw: Tim Kurkjian, Keith Olbermann, and Harold Reynolds all down by the dugout. It would be one thing if they were all from the same network, but those were three members of the media coming for (presumably) three different reasons. Reynolds was the only one who had cameras following him, so I assume he was doing something for MLB Network. Kurkjian was almost definitely there because this game was on Monday Night Baseball. As for Olbermann, he’s just a baseball fan, or nerd as he describes himself. When he was between networks last year, he went to a New York baseball game almost every night despite the fact that he was on crutches. I’m guessing that was the case here. He actually struck up a pretty long conversation with Manny Acta that lasted as long as my conversation with Eddy.

My conversation with Eddy was broken up when an usher came down and asked for our tickets. We then went our separate ways. I stupidly didn’t get a picture of him or of both of us, but he’s at most games, so I’m sure I’ll get a picture sometime. Anyway, he went to his seat in the lower level right field seats, and I went to my seat in the left field bleachers (for those who don’t know, the bleachers are the section right above the lower outfield seats, but cost 10-15 times less than those seats, given the day.

Once I got up to my seats, I watched the day’s starter, Josh Tomlin, warm up. While he was warming up, a ball dropped in the mud and the pitching coach (who was in the bullpen to watch Tomlin warm up as all pitching coaches do) picked it up and tossed it up to me after I asked him for the ball. He then moved out of the frame just as I took this picture:

Do you notice how dirty looking the ball is? Actually, that’s not the dirtiest part of the ball. I took off my glove and turned the ball around for this picture to show the even dirtier side of the ball, which is still like that as I type this sentence:

Now I can say I have a mud sample from the Yankee Stadium bullpen. A shallow victory, yes; but a victory nonetheless.

That was it for snagging. My seat was soaked from the rain, but I reluctantly sat down for the rest of the night as I watched the Yankees cream the Indians behind stellar pitching and hitting performances of Hiroki Kuroda and Robinson Cano, respectively.

Another thing of note in this game is that in one of the later innings, Nick Swisher started off the inning with a sliding catch. Even if you aren’t from New York, you may know that Nick Swisher is absolutely adored by Yankee fans to begin with. Whenever he makes a sliding/diving catch, there’s a pretty big cheer. After that sliding catch, he went onto make the next two catches in the inning, the latter of which ended with him in a very awkward position. The place went nuts for that. If that weren’t enough, he was leading off the inning immediately after those three catches. You can imagine he got a pretty big ovation.

Oh, and for the record, this was my view the whole game:

After the game, I tried to get bullpen coach, Dave Miller, to toss me a ball, but he didn’t even look up when I yelled his name. I tried throughout the game to get a ball from both of the Indian’s two bullpen catchers, whose first names I only know: Francisco and Armando. However, even though they looked my direction, I think there was the same problem of them not being able to see my Indians hat’s logo.

STATS:

  • 2 Balls at this Game

numbers 297-298 for my career:

  • 76 Balls in 16 Games this season= 4.75 Balls Per Game
  • 25 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 2 Balls x 42,290 Fans= 84,580 Competition Factor
  • 54 Balls in 16 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.38 Balls Per Game
  • 16 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
  • Time Spent On Game 4:10- 10:22= 6 hours 12 Minutes

6/19/12 Braves at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Question: What do you do when you have a baseball awards dinner in the Bronx and a ticket to the Orioles-Mets game?

Answer: You sell the Mets ticket on stubhub and buy a ticket to the Yankee game.

Also, look at the crew who assembled outside the gate:

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From left to right, that would be:

1. Myself
2.Greg Barasch– Frequent catch partner and fellow ballhawk.
3. Zack Hample– Oh, you know, just your average guy who’s caught more than 6,000 major league baseballs.
4. Matt Latimer– An MLB.com reporter, who was going to cover Zack during B.P. for a story.
5. Ross Finkelstein– Another fellow ballhawk, who I occasionally run into at games. This may be the first time we’ve gone to the same Yankee, though. Whatever, I’m too lazy to look it up.

Also at the gate, was this sign on a barricade:

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All of us pretty much made fun of all the ridiculous things on there, but after the fact, I thought, “You know what that’s actually not a bad idea to have all the prohibited stuff on a sign. It’s way better than playing that along with a song on a continuous loop 30 minutes before the gates open.” Are you listening, Mets?

Since there were so many of us, we actually spoke about who was going where during batting practice, as to divvy up the sections between us. I opted to go to left field. It would have been a great choice had a) the Yankees hit one ball into those seats during their portion of B.P. or b) Cody Eppley actually acknowledged any one over the age of 5.

Then, when most of the ballhawks came over to right field, here were the views to my left and to my right:

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Yes, there were a bunch of empty seats, but how the people were configured,the furthest I could run for a ball was 10 feet, so the ball would essentially have to be hit *right* at me. As for getting a Brave to toss me a ball, forget about it. There were tons of people in Braves gear and most were in the front row.

The closest I came to getting a ball was one hit directly over my head. I moved as close as I could to the landing spot, turned around and jumped, but it sailed what must have been a few inches into another guy’s glove.

Soon after this, I decided it was better to go back over to left field and deal with the other ballhawks than to deal with that mess of a section.

There it was emptier, but it started off with the same frustration. NOTHING was coming even close to me. Then it evolved into a different kind of frustration. A Braves hitter hit a ground-rule double. I lined myself up with the ball, and it was coming right towards my glove… until a hand in front of me deflected it over my right shoulder. Words cannot described how frustrated/nervous I was at this point. My goal is to get to 100 consecutive games with at least 1 ball. After that, the plan is I go to whatever games I please, regardless of whether I can make batting practice.

Throughout nearly all of Braves B.P., I was thinking about how much longer it would take me of I got shutout this game. I wasn’t as worried as I was in right field, though. Left field was much less congested, and I could actually run around for a ball that was hit. Here are the views to my right and my left:

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I didn’t feel confident, however, in my ability to get a Braves player to throw me a ball. Ironically, this is how my only ball of the day would come.

When I got to left field, I ran into Mark McConville, who had just arrived with, I believe, a few of his co-workers. He obviously didn’t have a ball yet either, so we were both pretty desperate. Actually, on that ball I missed that I mentioned earlier, Mark also almost came up with it, but another fan beat him to the ball.

Anyway, Mark and I had been giving Craig Kimbrel an earful for quite a few minutes. Finally, Kimbrel turned around and lofted a ball right at Mark, but those pesky hands are always up at Yankee Stadium. Even though the ball was very clearly intended for Mark, a hand deflected the ball. The deflection sent the ball right towards my stomach, and almost as if I had Alien Hand Syndrome, I grabbed the ball with my bare hand right before it had a chance to hit the seat in front of me. Here is the ball with Kimbrel and Chad Gaudin in the background:

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I then (deservedly) got a few lines (delivered jokingly) along the general lines of: “You’re killin’ me, Mateo.” from Mark. As relieved as I was to not get shutout, I felt really bad for him, since I was in a similar situation just moments earlier.

Then batting practice ended, and I spent a few minutes seeing Zack sign a couple of baseballs:

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as I talked with the reporter, Matt, and gave him all my contact information for… well who knows what it could turn into.

Then I conceded to the fact I that I had to go to the awards dinner I mentioned earlier.

It was my first game ever leaving right after batting practice, and I must say, I thought it would feel weirder than it did to be leaving as everyone else was entering the stadium:

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I guess I’m already accustomed to the notion from reading it on other ballhawks’ blog entries.

As for the dinner, I received this even though I have never played an inning of baseball for Fordham Prep:

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    Stats:

;


• 1 Ball at this game

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Number 269 for my life:

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• 46 Balls in 11 Games= 4,18 Balls Per Game
• 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 1 Ball x 41,219 Fans= 41,219 Competition Factor
• 53 Balls in 15 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.53 Balls Per Game
• 15 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1Ball
• Time at Game 4:26-6:17= 1 Hour 51 Minute

6/7/12 Rays at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Like all those who have seen my 2012 schedule know, I wasn’t supposed to be at this game. Actually, it was the only day from the 5th of June until the 9th of June I *wasn’t* supposed to be at a baseball game, but like those of you who read (watched?) my last entry know, I gave up the opportunities to go to these games in lieu of watching my high school’s baseball team lose (For those who don’t know, I’m the team’s student manager, (I know I haven’t been posting entries very regularly, which is why I’m writing so many “those who…” clauses) and yes, I am still bitter about that fact. (We lost the City Championship game the day after I went to this game I am blogging about (Yay for parenthetical injections!))

Anyway… my crazy ballhawking schedule came as a result of my crazy  Fordham Prep (my high school) baseball schedule. On this particular day, I found out we were practicing at 2:00. This was a perfect time to allow me to go to the game since our practices usually last around 2 hours, Yankee Stadium is 15 minutes from my -now former since I graduated- school, and I like to get to the stadium half-an-hour before the gates open at 5:00.

Due to me rushing for practice, though, I forgot to pack a few things. Here are the two things I had to borrow from players on the team before i headed off to the game:

In my rush to get to practice, I forgot:

  1. A glove- I set it aside, but I think I forgot to put it in my backpack once it came time to leave. The back-up catcher was so nice as to lend me his glove he said he never uses.
  2. Sunglasses- Since Yankee Stadium has a north-easternly orientation, right field is exposed to the setting sun. Since I usually spend a chunk of my time at Yankee Stadium in the right field seats, I need sunglasses to help me from losing hit balls in the sun. For whatever reason, I completely forgot to bring any. The ace of the team’s pitching staff lent me an extra pair of sunglasses. However, of course the entirety of batting practice occurred in overcast, so I never needed the sunglasses anyway.
  3. Food- I rushed out of my apartment and never got anything to eat. It’s safe to say I would have been starving by game time. The same pitcher who lent me the sunglasses also lent me $2, and I bought 2 slices of pizza right near our school on Fordham Road. Yes, $1 pizza slices. Due to this fact, I have probably bought over 50 slices of pizza there over the past two years.
While we’re on the subject of gear, this would also be a landmark game because it would be my last game with the shoes I was currently wearing. Normally, I would have gotten rid of them a long time before, but in the last two years, my previously mentioned high school baseball team had been eliminated in the first round, so I said, “I’ll get new shoes after the season is over.” Well wouldn’t you know it, we advanced all the way to the City Championship. Before the postseason, they were about done, but they got far worse as the postseason wore on. In that time, the soles of my shoes got to this point:
As you can see, I wore completely through to the bottom of the shoe on the left shoe. Here are some pictures of the back of the shoes as well (all of these pictures were taken at Yankee Stadium)
Here’s the right shoe:
 
And if you think that’s bad, here’s the left shoe:
As you can see, the back of the shoe is almost completely split in two. When I walked, I was essentially picking up the shoe with my heel.

This game was probably categorized by the extraordinary amount of ballhawks. As I arrived at Yankee Stadium, I saw Greg Barasch at the gate. Later, Ben Weil joined us in line. There he introduced me/us to two friends of his, both named Matt. They too vied for baseballs during batting practice.

For example, in the opening minutes when there is usually no one in the right field seats, this was the view behind me:

I love the hilarious expressions people make when you catch them off guard. I know, I’m a horrible person, but you probably laughed too, therefore you are too. For the record, Greg is the victim of this picture with the goofy face in the front, and Ben is the one looking off to the side at the top of the staircase.

With the other ballhawks present, I wasn’t able to come close to anything. It got so bad, I decided to move over to left field even though it was mostly left handed hitters up for the Yankees. Long story short, I didn’t get a baseball the entire Yankees batting practice.

My first ball came when the Rays started hitting. I went over into foul ground where the position players were warming up and waved my arms at a Rays player who was finishing up his throwing. I pointed at my Rays attire and he threw me his ball accordingly. I had no clue who this player was, but I made sure to remember his face so I could look him up later on. Before I was able to do this, Greg identified him as Desmond Jennings. I then looked it up on my iPhone, and sure enough, it was him.

I then moved over closer to the foul pole where the pitchers were warming up to try to convince one of them to throw me a ball. Right then, my baseball coach called to let me know a TV network called MSG Varsity needed me to give them stats for the game the next day. Due to this phone call, I had the phone in one hand, the glove in the other, and was trying to convince Matt Moore to throw me a ball all at the same time. I’m pretty sure I yelled out, “Matt!” at one point in the conversation. If all this wasn’t enough, I was also trying to get a picture of Matt Moore while I put our conversation on speaker phone. Here would be that picture with Matt Moore about to throw the ball to me:

My plan was then to go into the outfield seats in left field and catch some hit balls, but the ballhawks I had moved to left field to avoid, had by this time come to right field. The section I was planning to man was thus all congested and I made the decision to go back to right field.

There, I got a ball that was hit after, I’d say, 10 minutes. The ball was hit, deflected off some fan’s glove in front of me, and I then picked it up.

I figured I was going to have to rely on mostly toss-ups, because look who was the player shagging balls in my portion of right field:

That’s right. It was Matt Moore. This meant I didn’t want to ask him or another player for a baseball since he had already personally given me a baseball and would probably recognize me if I asked him a second time, or if he saw me asking another player.

However, two things happened to change my fortunes. The first was Matt Moore shifted over and started patrolling the center field area, and the second is it started raining, which cleared the section up since people ran for shelter. The section prior to the rain was absolutely packed. After the rain, though, it looked like this:

I actually have to give an assist on my next ball to a commenter on Zack Hample’s blog. I don’t know who exactly it was, but somebody suggested to Zack he use the MLB At-Bat app to have the faces of the players at his disposal. I actually thought, “You know what, that is a VERY good idea.” So while I was waiting for the gates to open, I downloaded the app just in case. After Matt Moore left the right field area, some player who didn’t have his number visible came over to the section close to me. I then looked up all the Rays pitchers on my app, and I saw it was Burke Badenhop. I then yelled out, “Burke, can you toss me that ball please?!” He looked up and threw me the ball. I then gave this ball away to a kid I distinctly remember as having red sunglasses on. In fact, he’s in my last “Matt Moore” picture, if you want to get a look at the kid.

Then it really started pouring.  As a result, there was virtually nobody left in the section. One fan though, was actually walking up to the front of the section. As he passed me, I noticed he had a Vietnam Veterans hat on like this one I own:

As is my tradition with all Vietnam Veterans, I went up to get his attention and give him a special greeting. Just as I was about to tap him on the shoulder, a Rays lefty hit a ball that appeared to be going over my head. I ran up a few step, got in line with the ball, and caught it. Immediately upon catching it, two things happened:

1. Batting Practice ended- How cool is it that I literally caught the last ball of batting practice?

2. I handed the ball to the veteran, saying, “Welcome Home” – The reason I said, “Welcome Home” is that this is how Vietnam Veterans greet each other (I know this because my father was a Vietnam Veteran (Yes, both are capitalized)). This is because unlike World War II, there was no mass “return of the troops”. In addition to this, not many people were in favor of the war- for good reason. Therefore, Vietnam Vets were never really welcomed home when they came back, in some cases not even by their own families. For the record, I do *not* support war. I am of the school of thought that says, “support the warrior, not the war.” I don’t want to get too far into that, but I just think violence is dumb and counter-productive. Anyway, here is a picture of the vet with the ball occluded by his torso:

After the veteran thanked me, I headed over to left field to see how the other ballhawks had done. On my way over there, I gave away my third baseball to a kid, who was rather sad it was raining, on the concourse. After I finally got to the left field seats, this was my view:

There, as you can see, I’ve pointed out several people. Here’s who they are:

1. One of the “Matt”s I was introduced to at the gate, specifically, Matt Winters, a ballhawk from the greater LA area who was in the area for a bachelor party in Boston.

2. Mark McConville– He is a ballhawk I know from being at several of the same games as him over the past two years. I didn’t mention him earlier because he showed up after the gates had opened. He was another one of the flood of ballhawks at this game as was:

3. Mark’s friend- I never got a name, but he was with Mark at this game and also tried catching some baseballs.

In that last picture, you can see Matt is looking at something outside the tunnel. That would be the bullpen he is looking into. We all were at one point or another. The reason is, because there were three baseballs in there we were all trying to snag. The first was snagged by Greg, who was behind me. The second, was snagged by a kid in the bleachers. Both his and Greg’s ball were tossed up by I believe a police officer, although I’m not entirely sure, because I was in the tunnel busy being sheltered from the rain. Finally I decided to come out of my den and try to snag the last ball. It was actually a bit hidden, because it was in the box where the bullpen phone is. Mark was going to ask the grounds person, but I managed to get his attention by asking him for a ball in Spanish. He looked around and made a gesture as to say “there are no baseballs left”. I then said, “there’s one over there” pointing to the box. He then went over, picked the ball out, and tossed it to me. Here is the ball:

That would be it for the game snagging-wise.

Really that was it for the entire day. The Rays won the game 7-3. It wasn’t really the Price-Sabathia match-up I imagined. Sabathia struck out a bunch of Rays, but wasn’t on top of his game, and Price left in the fifth inning. I assume it was because of his pitch count, because he hadn’t given up a run.

Before I write in the stats for this game, I should let you know that my last game’s entry now has the stats and pictures, so you can check that out if you haven’t already seen the stats from that game. Now, without further adieu, are the stats from THIS game.

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this Game (3 pictured, because I gave 3 away)

numbers 259-264 for my life:

  • 42 Balls in 9 Games this season= 4.67 Balls Per Game
  • 18 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 9 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 9 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 6 Balls x 39,891 Fans= 239,346 Competition Factor
  • 52 Balls in 14 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.71 Balls Per Game
  • 14 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
  • 6 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
  • 6 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 Balls
  • Time at Game 4:40- 11:17= 6 Hours 37 Minutes