In the spring of 2014 I really didn’t go to that many baseball games. With the combination of school and a newly-found internship with the NASL soccer team, Minnesota United FC, it wasn’t necessarily that there weren’t any six-hour blocks of time open in my schedule, but that I didn’t feel like I had time to deal with the peripheral time commitment that came with it. Doing the whole ballhawking-blogging-life thing can wear someone out. I applaud the people such as Alex Kopp and many others who can make this world part of their everyday life by working extra-hard in other aspects to accomodate it, but at this point in my life, I felt like other things needed to take precedent over attending baseball games and writing about them.
However, on one Tuesday, I left my internship in Golden Valley, Minnesota, I had to transfer buses to get back home. This transfer had me walking right here:
It took me right past Target Field’s Gate 34. At this point it was 6:30 and I had missed all of batting practice, but for some odd reason, I had brought my glove in my backpack to my internship (I seriously did not remember putting it in there). It was Jackie Robinson Day and I made the rash decision to go to the game and not care about my consecutive ball streak anymore. I had been saying to people for a while that once my streak reached 100 games, I wouldn’t care anymore. (I was at 127 coming into this game.) I had just seen what similar streaks had done to other ballhawks’ level of enjoyment at games and I didn’t want to deal with the pressure of keeping up the streak at every game I attended. However, some ballhawks, (namely Ben Weil) didn’t believe me, saying that I would still care no matter what. What he didn’t know was that I will be stubborn enough to prove my point in the face of disbelief regardless of underlying truth. With that, I walked into a game with a very slim chance of getting a baseball, fully expecting to get shut out for the sake of celebrating Jackie Robinson Day for the second year in a row at Target Field:
After entering, I headed to left field to get some evidence that it was actually Jackie Robinson Day:
And then listened to “Oh Canada” from there (since we were playing the Blue Jays):
And then I kind of stayed in that spot for most of the rest of the game (because it was cold and I had fallen in a creek earlier that day(true story) leaving my sneakers still wet) and sat under the heating lamps to stay even mildly warm. I kind of explored, but only about a fifty foot radius from that spot:
Anyways…I’ll spoil the surprise for you a little: Had I gone to this game and not snagged anything, I wouldn’t have bothered putting together the pictures into a full entry, unless something not-snagging-related happened during the game. I would have just written a one-paragraph summary of the game, or even nothing at all and gone on with my life. So yeah… I snagged an umpire ball at the end of the game.
But first, I went down to the left field seats once the frozen people that just weren’t having the game cleared out:
And when I say “cleared out,” I do mean that there were very few people left:
It wasn’t even just the left field seats either. The whole stadium had given up on the game with the Twins trailing 9-2 in the ninth inning:
The reason then that I picked the aisle between sections 129 and 130 with most of the ballpark empty was due to a connection to that staircase. Two season prior, I had gotten a Trevor Plouffe home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off of that staircase. And while ESPN’s hit tracker says that I would be smarter playing one section closer to center field, I’ve always liked that staircase for the illusion it creates of having more room to run.
Naturally, when Trevor Plouffe came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, I was recreating my first home run in my head. Expect in this imaginary world making up for the fact that I started that home run with my glove off and didn’t catch it cleanly as a result. Well I knew that was unlikely, but then this happened:
For the record, I am the one in the blue sweater that you see going about five feet into the section before climbing the bleachers. And here was the result:
I will admit that half of me first going into the section before going up was just me not expecting the ball to carry that far in the cold April air. But the other part was that I thought it was going to bounce back down the bleachers once it hit (which it did) and have me see the ball bounce back down to someone that was below at the height in the seats where I had started the play. (A similar thing has happened to me before and it sucks.)
Here is the ball with the spot where I ended up picking up the ball in the background:
The girls to the left of glove you may be able to identify in the video from them staying put and not moving until I was already climbing the seats to get to the ball.
At that point, I knew there was not going to be another home run, so I headed to the dugout area, got a ball from home plate umpire, Eric Cooper:
And went home a little warmer because I had my second ever career home run with me. I would have been probably made miserable by the cold otherwise, but the happiness I had kept it bearable. Both of which have been Trevor Plouffe home runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Hey there! I realize I haven’t put anything up here for well over a week, and that’s mostly because I essentially took the All-Star break off from writing and things of that nature. However, now that there are baseball games being played once more between regularly-operating MLB teams, I’m back at working to make stuff for you guys. While I am moving directly after writing these sentences to actually producing that content, I made a video to let you know what’s coming up. So I’m going to start work on that *right* now, but be on the lookout for all that I mention in the video in the near future; either on here or on my YouTube Channel, as I plan to have at least the first few of those things coming out in the next few days:
Yes, video*s*. Plural. With me beginning a week-long hiatus from baseball games starting with the game in the entry I published right before this one, so too did I end a streak of about 17 consecutive days. Now I didn’t want to just take those days off, so I made a couple of videos. Well more like one-and-a-half videos.
So this first video is just me explaining what I plan to do with my YouTube channel going forward. I feel as though it’s slightly confusing, so if you have any clarifications you need me to make, leave a comment asking me to clarify whatever it is you need clarifying:
So yeah, I’m going to be making videos much more regularly now. I even plan to make videos while I’m in Spain June 27th-July 8th, but I also don’t know what my internet situation will be over there, so I don’t know if I’ll yet be able to get them out on time, but I’ll try my hardest to do so.
This second video has an intro that kind of explains the rest rest of the footage, but again, if I was unclear on anything, ask me in comment form:
So yeah, there’s that. If you want to go ahead and subscribe to the YouTube channel, click on this sentence, as it is linked to the channel. From here on out, I might mention in a ballhawking entry that I uploaded a new video, but I won’t do entries like this solely to announce that I’ve uploaded a video, so if you subscribe you’ll be notified every time I make a new video. My next game is this upcoming Thursday at Nationals Park when the Nationals take on the Rockies, so expect an entry out within a couple of days of that game. I’ll also be going the day after, and I won’t spoil the surprise yet, but some interesting people will be at both the Thursday and Friday games. Also, just to clarify, there will no longer be the “Before The Gates Opens” videos. I’ll leave the ones that are up there on my channel, but I’ll just include the stuff I would have normally put in those videos in my day-to day vlogs. I think that’s all I have to say here, so again, if you need clarification on anything, leave a comment. But besides that, I’ll see you–but not really–when the next entry comes out in a day or two.
A normal person would come back from a weekend trip to Chicago where he had attended baseball games each day of the trip and relax for the rest of the day. I am not a normal person. No; when Sean dropped me off at my dorm from Chicago at 2:30, I immediately started readying myself to go see the White Sox in action for the third straight day. This time against the Twins at Target Field:
I’m holding up four fingers because this was now my fourth game in a row despite the fact that I had traveled about 800 miles by car in those four days. The look is because I had no idea how this was going to pan-out for me. I’m glad to say now that it went well.
The day started off on a great note when a program vendor came down the steps to hand a ball to a kid. I had gotten to know this kid and his dad pretty well over this year since they also try snagging baseballs and I had given the son a couple tips during the Angels series. Anyway, right after she handed him a ball, I noticed she had another ball in her hand. I then asked her if she could give me that ball, which she then did for my first ball of the game before I even entered the gate:
With that snag, I had now snagged as many baseballs outside of Gate 3 as I have outside of Gate 34, which is ironically held as the far-superior gate for snagging baseballs before it opens.
Once I got in, I made a beeline for the left field seats and managed to misplay the only ball that I possibly could have gotten. I actually didn’t end up getting any baseballs until the White Sox started hitting and I headed out to right-center field. There, I got Matt Lindstrom to toss me what was probably the hardest thrown toss-up I’ve ever received despite the fact that he was about twenty feet below me:
Somewhere prior to this game, I messed up my ball count, so I thought that the ball I had gotten outside the gate was my 500th career ball (which I kind of regretted at the time), but after the fact, I realized that this ball Lindstrom had just tossed me was my 500th. Anyway, the point is that even though I got
I then headed back over to left field. The reason was because a new group came up who consisted of White Sox lefties who I didn’t think could hit anything over the wall was coming up, and since groups usually spend the first round or two of BP hitting the ball to the opposite field, I thought I should head over there and play for toss-ups. Ironically, though, my next ball was hit. See I was playing almost all the way down the line by the left field foul pole to try to get Jose Quintana to toss me a ball using our Colombian connection when Dewayne Wise hit a ball that I could tell was going to both fall short and to the right of where I was standing. However I knew that with its trajectory, the ball was headed for the warning track, where it could then hop up over the wall. My first instinct was to catch it directly on the bounce, but I reached as far to my right over a railing and still came up short. The ball then landed in the camera well right by the foul pole. I knew I probably wasn’t allowed there, so I hesitated for a good ten seconds before opening the latch up, quickly grabbing the ball and getting out with my third ball of the day:
I then headed over to right field because I knew that a couple of the White Sox players had seen me get the ball, and got Nate Jones to toss me a ball. I didn’t know his name, so I just went with the generic “Can you toss me the ball, please?” At which point he looked up, saw my White Sox hat, and tossed me the ball:
I turned to my right and gave the ball to the first kid I spotted with a glove on. I then headed back to left field, because I figured I could get a ball from a pitcher who was patrolling left-center field.
Turns out I was right and got a ball from Jesse Crain pretty quickly after I got down there:
That would be it for batting practice itself, but as I was in left field foul ground just as batting practice ended, I ran to the White Sox dugout just as the ball basket was being brought to the dugout. As he was doing so, Mark Salas tossed a ball randomly into the seats behind the dugout, and I managed to be the first one to run and get it:
As you can maybe tell from the picture, the White Sox then took fielding practice. I believe they are one of two teams I have ever seen do it after BP, but I have seen them do it multiple times.
After they went through fielding practice, the coaches returned to the dugout. I had assumed Salas had seen me get the ball, so I didn’t ask him for one of the baseballs he was carrying, but when I made eye contact with him, he tossed me a baseball without me even asking for my seventh on the day:
As for the game, I started out behind the dugout:
But that only lasted two innings when I realized Alexei Ramirez wasn’t going to toss me a baseball and that it would be cool to snag a game home run at Target Field before I headed back to New York. Long story short: I didn’t snag anything during the game and was at 7 baseballs for the day when the game ended. That said, when it ended, I first got a ball from home plate umpire, Manny Gonzalez because I was the only one who even had a clue what his name was at the dugout (he didn’t even toss any of his other baseballs up, but said “Here you go,” when I asked him for a ball by name:
If you wonder why I never have the umpire in the pictures with the balls I snag from them, it’s because by the time I snag the baseball and pull out my phone to take the picture, the umpire has already walked through the tunnel. The same goes with any player/coach headed who tosses me a baseball on his way to the dugout. Such was the case with my next ball. Let me just preface it with a bit of back-story from the game. Aaron Hicks, who was touted as a super-prospect at the beginning of the year but had been doing absolutely dismal up until this game, (And by dismal, I mean that he was hitting below .100 a majority of the season leading up to this game and was still below .150 at the beginning of this game) had the game of his young career. First Mr. Hicks hit a home run into the batter’s eye in center field. He then proceeded to rob Adam Dunn of a home run en route to hitting a second home run. Despite the fact that he had been getting booed constantly by Twins fans–who are not prone at all to booing players–he was called out for the first standing ovation at Target Field since Jim Thome. An ovation, which I can imagine I looked very strange giving since I was wearing a White Sox hat. Why am I telling you all this? (Besides the fact that I can now brag about being at Aaron Hicks’ first truly great game.) It’s because both of Hicks’ home runs made their way into the White Sox bullpen, where I didn’t see either get tossed up into the crowd. My ninth ball of the day came from Addison Reed, a reliever, who had obviously come from the bullpen. He rolled the ball to me over the dugout roof:
And without even considering the possibility that the ball could have been one of Hicks’ home runs, I gave the ball away to a kid on my right:
So yeah. There’s a chance I gave away a home run ball. Granted it wouldn’t have counted in my “stats” as a game home run ball even if I were certain it was the ball, but it would have been so awesome to say that I owned one of Aaron Hicks’ home runs from his first two-home run game. Actually, I take that back, this was Aaron Hick’s first two-hit game ever, so it would have been even cooler. But as is the case with how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
However, I didn’t stumble onto that possibility until after the game, at this point I was focused on one thing: snag my tenth baseball of the game. Only one person ever (Zack Hample) had snagged over ten baseballs at Target Field ever (12). And with him having snagged half of those before the public was even allowed into the stadium, with a tenth ball, I could say that I had snagged the most baseballs at Target Field ever after the gates of the stadium opened. Well I guess I could already have said that, but there’s something special about going double-digits. I had only ever done it at Nationals Park and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, so doing it at a much tougher stadium would have been an affirmation of sorts after doing terribly over the weekend at U.S. Cellular. There was just one problem: all of the players and coaches had left the field and were already in the clubhouse. That’s where what I most appreciate in Minnesota away from New York comes into play: I would have been kicked out of the section the second the White Sox bullpen people went into the dugout. Actually, there’s a chance I would have been even earlier. Here in Minnesota, you can stay behind the dugout pretty much until the ushers themselves have to leave. In staying there, I managed to see the dugout/clubhouse attendant, Mario, pop his head out of the dugout. He recognized me by this point in the season and obviously was looking for kids to give a baseball to and not me, but given the fact that pretty much all other fans had left the section, I asked him if he had an extra baseball, and he then tossed me my tenth ball of the day:
It felt so good I immediately felt the need to brag about it to someone and told an usher in the section that I have come to know. She knows I snag baseballs regularly, but even she was impressed when I told her how many baseballs I snagged that night. That night I went home happy and full of thoughts of what I could do if I went to a stadium where I wouldn’t have to get 9 baseballs tossed to me to make double-digits.
- 10 Baseballs at this Game:
- 62 Balls in 13 Games= 4.77 Balls Per Game
- 10 Balls x 25,605 Fans= 256,050 Competition Factor
- 75 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 113 Balls in 25 Games at Target Field= 4.52 Balls Per Game
- 23 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 3 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:26-11:52= 8 Hours 26 Minutes
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:
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:
Behind me were two other ballhawks:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
There I managed to get within five feet of a Mark Teixeira home run during the game:
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:
• 7 Balls at this Game (5 pictured because I gave two away)
• 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