Tagged: Ben Weil

5/24/13 Braves at Mets: Citi Field

With my last game and my snagging of six baseballs, I was at 95 career baseballs for Citi Field. The goal of me going to five games was to get to 100. Only five baseballs. When I got up in the morning, I was thinking how I could simply knock the goal out in a single game and then not have to attend games the rest of the weekend. Then I checked what the weather was supposed to be at the place I volunteered at most of the past two summers and for every day of this week:

52413 Weather

Snagging five balls in this game was going to be a lot harder than I expected. And even worse, notice how I said that I checked the weather while I was at the place I volunteer at. That means I was already out of the apartment I was staying in. See it was nice-ish out when I left, so I decided I would wear shorts. Fifty degrees and raining isn’t exactly shorts weather. That brings me to this picture:

52413 Homemade Poncho Time

Because I was in shorts still, I figured I would need a poncho of sorts, so I fashioned this out of an extra table lining we had at the previously-mentioned senior center I was volunteering at. I took it and cut a hole in the top for my head and made two slices in the sides for my arms. I don’t know if you can tell from that last picture, but the tables where bags normally get checked were moved from their usual spot right behind where I was standing to way back almost at the turnstile:

52413 Tables

It was so the security checking bags would be under the overhang and out of the reach of the rain. It also meant that I would lose almost a minute in getting into the stadium because I couldn’t have the guard check my bag before the gates themselves opened. Normally I would be mad about this, but I figured there wasn’t going to be batting practice, so every second wasn’t as precious as it would normally be.

When I got in the stadium I saw the Mets pitchers warming up in almost by the right field foul pole, so I headed over there and headed down the steps into the seats in foul territory down the first base foul line. As I started down the stairs, I heard an usher stop me. He apologized and told me that he knows fans are usually allowed down into the seating bowl, but since there was no batting practice, he was told not to let people into his section. I don’t doubt his sincerity in believing what he was saying and not making up a rule just because he saw an 18-year-old with a glove that matched the description of what Citi Field security seems to hate, but he was either a) Enforcing an absolutely ridiculous policy, or b) He misinterpreted what his actual instructions were. I saw him turn down several other people after me, but people somehow eventually started coming down into the seats, so I’m guessing it was the latter and someone else clarified the situation for him. Because of this, I had to try to get the players to toss me a ball from the right field seats instead of being behind them, which would have been the easiest toss-up snag ever. Regardless, I got Brandon Lyon to toss me a ball after he was done throwing with LaTroy Hawkins for my first on the day:

52413 Ball 1

And look at all the action that occupied me after the pitchers left the field:

52413 Tarp on the field

Given the fact that the tarp was on the field and absolutely nothing going on, I headed over to the third base side of things and waited for the Braves to come out and throw:

52413 Poncho pants

Right around then Ben Weil came into the stadium. So I chatted with him until the Braves came out to throw. When they did I stationed myself behind Craig Kimbrel and his new throwing partner now that Johnny Venters was injured, and then moved on to Cory Rasmus and his throwing partner, but eventually ended up getting a ball from bullpen coach Eddie Perez instead:

52413 Ball 2

A ball which I would then get signed by Craig Kimbrel as he passed by signing people’s thing-a-ma-do-hickies. And then it was back to tarp-watching:

52413 Did someone ask for more tarp?

I believe the game’s start time was only delayed less than half-an-hour by the rain, so once it started Ben and I sat behind the dugout. Ben eventually just left the game around the third inning to go home, but I stayed behind the dugout the whole game. Unfortunately I was on the outfield end of the dugout and the Mets kept striking out to end the inning. At the end of seven innings when he came out, Braves starter Kris Medlen had nine strikeouts. If you didn’t know before, when a strikeout ends the inning, a catcher typically takes the ball to the home plate end of the dugout and tosses it up there. So as a result of all of these strikeouts, I found myself repeatedly on the wrong side of the dugout to get a third out ball.

It had been drizzling pretty consistently throughout the game, but at about the beginning of the eighth inning, it started absolutely pouring. When the Braves scored two runs in the top of the inning, I thought for sure that they were going to win the game on account of the rain, but the umpires let the game go on into the bottom of the eighth inning and the Mets came right back and scored two run of their own. It was after the end of the eighth inning–during which I should have caught a Rick Ankiel foul ball on the fly–that the tarp was finally brought out and the game delayed. When this happened I did the stupidest thing possible: I walked right up the steps and to the concourse. Now I did pick up a ticket for the section to get back in should I need to when play resumed:

52413 Ticket

But that’s not why it was a stupid decision to walk out of the section right as the game was being delayed. To a ballhawk, a rain delay is the equivalent of the end of the game in terms of snagging opportunities. So what I *should* have done was first go to the umpire tunnel and try to get a ball from the umpires exiting the field, then try to get a ball from players coming from a bullpen, and then maybe try to get a ball from the side of the dugout looking in at any players/coaches who were still mulling around in the dugout. And a great thing about a rain delay in New York is that unlike the end of the game, security won’t kick you out after 30 seconds because there is still the potential for the game to resume. These were all great opportunities I wasted because I was so fixated on getting out of the rain and inside some club (since I had a ticket that got me into pretty much every club in Citi Field):

52413 Delta Sky 360 Club

I did a lot of wandering during the rain delay, but I won’t post all of the pictures here; they’ll be in the album on Facebook that I post for every game. In wandering the concourse and clubs themselves, though, I was wasting yet another golden opportunity. If you’re ever at a game that has gone less than five innings or is tied, search through the seats for as many ticket stubs as you can find, because if the game is postponed to a later date because of the rain, most teams allow you to trade in the value of the ticket for any game later on in the season. So if you have enough tickets in good seating, you could end up not paying for a ticket at that stadium for the rest of the season, and having great seats too. I was actually planning on going down to the field level and doing this at midnight, but it was announced at 11:58 that the game–or the inning that was left, anyway–was being postponed until the next day and would be played at 6:10, right before the game that was regularly scheduled to begin at 7:10. So I left Citi Field at about 12:02 and headed home:

52413 Leaving Citi Field

And while it may seem as though my day was all the way through, it was what happened after I left Citi Field that’s what I’ll be telling everyone I know about this game form now on. The following timestamps are estimates since my phone died half-way along this journey:

12:02- I called the person who I was staying with to tell her that it probably wouldn’t be the best idea if I returned to her apartment that night, since it would require me possibly waiting an hour in the Bronx for a bus. I meanwhile texted my friend Greg Barasch, whose apartment I had stayed in that past Tuesday to see if I could stay there again that night, but he was “asleep” so he didn’t respond until many hours later in the afternoon.

12:25- Since the game itself never actually ended, and it was late anyways, there was no express “7” train to get on. Nevertheless, I went to the express track because there was a 7 with its doors closed where the express train usually is. I figured it eventually open its doors and head to Times Square. After watching two trains pass on the regular track, I came to the conclusion that this train was never going to leave the station and finally went to the other side of the platform and caught a train after 20 minutes of waiting.

12:40- The train cruised through the above-ground portion of Queens, but on the first stop underground, our train was stopped for what was announced as “signal difficulties”. Suffice to say I was bored out of my mind/not amused:

52413 Done with transit

1:08- After waiting around for almost half-an-hour on the train, it was announced that because there was an investigation happening at Times Square that our train was being suspended and everyone needed to get off the train:

52413 People getting off train

We were then told to go up to the booth for this station, pick up a pass for an extra subway ride and walk to a station for the “E” train, that would then take us to Times Square.

1:21- The person at the booth had given us wrong directions to the other station, so myself and a group of about five other people spent almost 15 minutes wandering what Ben Weil would tell me the next day was not such a good part of Queens at 1 in the morning.

1:55-Because it was the weekend and so late at night, the trains were running even more infrequently than they do normally on the “E” line, and so even once we figured out our way to the station, we had to wait for a while for the train to arrive in the station. It was in this time that I got teased by the Mets fans in the station for wearing Braves gear.

2:17-Finally the train arrived and it took all of us lost Mets fans to Times Square.

2:37-From Times Square I would transfer to the “2” train making local stops that would take me to the 96th street station before going off in a direction I didn’t want to take it, so I got off at 96th.

3:02- My phone had died at this point, but I still needed to get to 110th street to get to my now-vacant apartment. With the next “1” train that would take me to the 110th street stop being 19 minutes away, I decided to walk the 14 blocks (roughly 3/4 of a mile) despite the fact that it was almost 3 o’clock in the morning. It was a little after 3:00 by the time I got into the apartment. And when I got there, I found out that all of the bed sheets I had left in the closet when I left Monday had been taken out of the apartment, so this was my bed for the night:

52413 Make-shift bed

It was even more comfortable than it looks. And with me collapsing on this makeshift bed from exhaustion at 3:15, I could finally say that my day of adventure had ended. But I would have to wake up in less than ten hours just to get back to Citi Field and do it all again.

STATS:

  • 2 Baseballs at this game

52413 Baseballs

Numbers 522-23:

52413 Sweet Spots

  • 77 Balls in 17 Games= 4.53 Balls Per Game
  • 2 Balls x 32,325 Fans= 64,650 Competition Factor
  • 79 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 97 Balls in 36 Games at Citi Field= 2.69 Balls Per Game
  • 36 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
  • 3 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Citi Field
  • Time Spent On Game 4:10-3:02= 10 Hours 52 Minutes

5/21/13 Reds at Mets: Citi Field

It was my second of what would be five games this week, and my highest ball total of any of them. As many or more than any three of the other four games combined. So let’s get started. Here was my view of the field for most of the game:

52113 Opening Picture

To the left is a ballhawk named Dylan, and to the right is my–well I guess at this point former–next-door neighbor, Greg Barasch. Where I was standing usually wouldn’t be a good spot to stand at all, but this was the view of the spot staircase to my right:

52113 View to my right

That wasn’t more congested at the moment, but I knew that that staircase is the first one to get clogged up with people and that I was best securing my spot on this staircase. I could have gone to the front spot of the staircase to my left:

52113 Ben on staircase

But Ben Weil–in the orange shirt–was in that spot., and playing behind that spot is essentially worthless because it’s already a shot just to get it there. My first ball of the day, though came from about the spot where the person is leaning over the railing in that last picture. A ball got hit onto the party deck and so I headed over there and asked the employee down there if he could toss me the ball, which he did:

52113 Ball 1

Next up for me was heading out to right field. There I managed to get Collin McHugh to toss me a ball by actually asking nicely:

20130601-202132.jpg
As opposed to everyone else who was just shouting, “HERE!!!”
So since I had gotten baseballs from both left and right field, I headed out to center field to keep the symmetry. In center I got Greg Burke to toss me a ball that almost made me fall into the gap in front of the wall:

20130601-202608.jpg
He then congratulated me on making the catch, and I headed back to my spot in left field. By this time Dylan had roamed closer to Ben. So when Greg moved out of his spot to maybe try to get a toss-up by the staircase to our right, it was a no-brainer to move up to his spot if only momentarily. A moment was all I needed. As he got to the other staircase, a Reds righty we later figured out was Zack Cozart hit a ball to the section right between us two. I tracked the ball all the way off the bat an had it lined up perfectly. The only question was—since Greg had gone in the row below me and was also running at the ball—was if Greg could catch up to the ball before it landed in my glove. It was close. Let me put I this way: I didn’t even know I had the ball until I looked in my glove. That’s because Greg and another person blocked my view of the field right as the ball entered my glove. I want to say that Greg and the other person collided, but all was good in the end. I just know that way too many people congratulated me for what was not really an amazing catch.

A good amount of time passed between this and my next snag, which was a toss-up from a player I believe was Sam Le Cure:

52113 Ball 5

Ben thought it was Bill Bray until I told him that Bill Bray wasn’t on the Reds roster anymore. There was one guy in right field who I thought also might be LeCure, though, so I don’t know for sure. That said, I’m pretty sure the guy I got the ball from was LeCure, and the ball was my first of the day. Speaking of that guy, here he is:

52113 Pitcher in right field

The reason I show him is he was getting so bombarded by requests from kids asking for a baseball–while he was almost 100 feet from them–that he actually had to tell them to calm down with requests. Here are the kids below me, who–and I’m not using hyperbole here–were yelling every time he got the ball, even when he had to run towards the outfield to get the ball:

52113 Loud Kids

I figured he wasn’t going to toss a ball in my general direction any time soon, so I headed to the second deck in left field once Brandon Phillips’ group came up to hit. I would have gone to the lower level, but it looked packed and I knew Phillips had the potential to hit several up there:

52113 Second Deck LF

Unfortunately he hit a couple deepish into the lower level, but none got up to me. That would be it fro BP. (Get it? It has dual meaning in that case.) After batting practice there were no kids with gloves that I hadn’t already seen get a ball, but I wanted to give a ball away, so I gave a ball away to two ushers instructing them to give the ball away to the next kid *with a glove* that passed through into their section/by them.

For the game I stayed in left field:

52113 View from LF

I spent most of the game talking to Dylan and a man by the name of Brian who I just engaged me early on in the game and spent the rest of the game just talking in general. Both of us agreed that our game together was one of the reasons going to the ballpark is such a special experience. You can just go, enjoy a game, and spend the game talking to a stranger about a common interest that is baseball. It was a light in a game at quite possibly my least favorite ballpark that I have been to in the major leagues.

For the end of the game I headed down to the umpire tunnel (abiding by the rules of the stadium, I may add. I did indeed have a ticket for the section the umpire tunnel is in.) to try to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, and I did by yelling out to him before he could get off the field. See at Citi Field, there’s a wheelchair section to the umpire’s right when he walks into the tunnel, so if a kid is in that section, the umpire is almost always going to give him a ball there. This can be good because it stops the umpire for long enough for him to hear a ballhawk calling him by his actual name, but if there is a string of kids that gathers around him at this point, the umpire ball is pretty much lost, so the best way to get a ball from the umpire at Citi Field, if you have the room to do so, is to call out to the umpire before he gets off the field itself, and then if he can’t hear you keep following him with the same request until the corner spot of the tunnel. Unfortunately there is usually someone in the corner spot for the tunnel if you abandon it, and even if there isn’t the security people at the umpire tunnel especially have some sort of enmity towards ballhawks, so they have told myself and others that we aren’t allowed alongside the tunnel’s glass railing, but when other people do the same, they’re allowed. The most important thing about umpire balls, though, is the sooner you can get it before other people can talk to him, the better. It also helps to be standing alone. You don’t want to be amongst a crowd of kids if you’re not a kid yourself, because while the umpire might hear you, he might toss the ball to a kid next to you anyway if he doesn’t deem you “fit” to get a ball over the kid. Anyway, that has been today’s lesson on Citi Field umpire balls.

After that I didn’t get a ball from the Reds bullpen people, and I met up with Ben and Greg at the dugout. The three of us walked to the subway together and were going to take it together, but Ben realized he had to take the local and we the express. He normally drives to the games, but as he was pulling out of his driveway or wherever he parks, he realized he had a flat tire, so he got in a cab and got to the gate less than ten minutes before it opened. On a semi-related note, batting practice had tired him out, so he was going to leave in about the third inning, but he got stuck for four plus innings filling out all-star ballots, so he figured he would stay for the umpire ball. Regardless, where I’m going with this is that Ben had to take the train and it was a different train than ours, so he said goodbye and walked away from us:

52113 Ben walking away

As he was walking away, he turned back to wave a second joke goodbye, and as he was doing this, a friend of his snuck-up from behind him and tackled/hugged him. I’m sorry the lead up was so long for not that good of a story, and I realize this is the end of the entry so you just want to be done reading, so here’s the picture I thought it was kind of cool that I got:

52113 Ben getting semi-tackled

I then boarded my train with Greg and spent the night at his place. Most of said night was spent getting barked at by one of his dogs that thought I was an intruder and an obscene amount of surfing mygameballs.com looking up ours and other people’s games/commenting on them (If that doesn’t automatically hyperlink, you can either copy and paste, or the website is this blog’s sidebar over to the right.)

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this Game (4 pictured because I gave 2 away)

52113 Baseballs

Numbers 516-521:

52113 Sweet Spots

  • 75 Balls in 16 Games= 4.69 Balls Per Game
  • 6 Balls x 23,183 Fans= 139,098 Competition Factor
  • 78 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 95 Balls in 35 Games at Citi Field= 2.71 Balls Per Game
  • 35 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Citi Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:37-11:00= 7 Hours 23 Minutes

7/16/12 Blue Jays at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Finally, it was my “game to survive at Yankee Stadium before I get back to Nationals Park”, and look who joined me for the occasion:
20120718-155025.jpgThat would be me on the left and Ben Weil on the right. In fairly usual “Ben” fashion, he came running down the hill at which Yankee Stadium is at the bottom of and met me at the front of the line with five minutes to spare until the gates opened.

When said gates opened, it didn’t take long until I botched my first ball of the game:
20120718-160119.jpgI was in the lower-right hand comer of the section trying to get a Yankees player to toss me a ball. Just then, a Yankee lefty hit a ball. Off the bat, it looked like it wasn’t even going to make it to the warning track, but it just kept carrying and carrying. Eventually, it hit the railing perpendicular to the fourth row of seating, where it then floated right to Ben, standing in the back row of the section.

My ventures then took me to the left field foul line, where I asked for a ball from, and got rejected by, nearly the whole Blue Jays pitching staff. Okay, so maybe I only asked like two of them, but it was still frustrating. I then headed over to the left field seats… just to see that the right field seats had pretty much cleared up, and were better for snagging than where I now was:
20120719-232923.jpgDo you notice the guy in the lower-left corner of the picture? That would be Rick Gold. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Rick, prior to this game, had been at three of the same games as I had this year at Nationals Park. However, this would be the first time we would attend a Yankee game together since 2010 (before this blog existed and Rick had snagged his 1,000th ball).

In addition to Rick, Ben was standing on the same staircase with me. To be more specific, he was standing right behind me when I took the picture. Eventually, though, things would change so Rick would be in front, Ben in the middle, and me in the back. Then there was a ball hit. Rick, as he usually does, broke after the ball as soon as it was in the air. Ben, meanwhile, knew it was coming right on our staircase, so he did the smart thing and waited as long as he could to make a break on the ball ( as to not give me time and space to get in front of him and use my height advantage). The result of all of this was five gloves went up in the air for the ball- our three and two others- and mine came up with the ball:
20120720-113456.jpgI think the best way to described the way I caught the ball is that my glove was in the position a first base man scoops a ball in, but the glove was above my head. Truthfully, it was a stupid decision. With all of the gloves in the air, the chances of me getting smacked in the face with the ball vastly outweighed the chances of me catching the ball. But, I caught the ball, so chances are I’ll probably make the same mistake again and get hit in he face before I learn my lesson.

After this, I headed over to right field just as they were clearing the seats. Why? Thanks to Ben, I had a ticket for section 104, which meant I could stay there for all of batting practice. Just look at how empty it was once they cleared the seats of all other people:
20120720-121902.jpg
20120720-122152.jpgEven better was the fact that the Blue Jays group of power lefties was up. I got two balls from this group. Both of which I will explain using the next picture:

My first ball was hit by Adam Lind. It hit off the metal strip above the guy yelling (as shown by the arrow), with a hand to his mouth. The second ball I wasn’t sure if I should count. It was hit by Cody Rasmus, and rattled around in the seats. Do you see the guy in the gray shirt and “NYPD” hat? That is Tak, a very friendly guy who is pretty starting to ballhawk this season. He was right on the ball, but didn’t catch it, so when the ball hit the ground, I picked it up. Tak, then just seeing a ball being taken, instinctively grabbed it through his legs. The combination of him being a friend and the awkward position we were now in made me let go of the ball. I initially wasn’t going to count this ball, but Tak talked me into it after batting practice ended. Also after batting practice ended, Tak and I got a picture together:

After we got the picture together, I showed Tak the “Mike Harkey” snagging opportunity that is always available at Yankee Stadium. We headed up to the top of the batter’s eye, where this was our view:

I left Tak in that spot with the advice “Act animated” and moved closer to the bullpen, so we wouldn’t be getting in each other’s way. When Harkey did throw his ball to the batter’s eye, it whizzed right past me. Initially, I was pretty upset. That was, until I saw who caught the ball:

I’m always happy when another ballhawk snags a ball, even at my expense. Even more so when said ballhawk catches 4 balls less than you per game according to his mygameballs.com account (that’s the link I attached to his name when I first introduced Tak in this entry).

As for the game, I was in left field, where this was my view of the game:

20120721-210141.jpgDo you see the right fielder in the picture? That would be Jose Bautista. In the first inning, he turned around with his warm-up ball in hand. I then got up and waved my arms around. He looked at me and tossed the ball, but he missed me and the ball sailed about 15 feet to my right (or at least I think he was aiming for me. I can’t be sure, but as you saw in the picture of myself and Tak, I was wearing a very attention-grabbing Blue Jays shirt.), but I had picked an empty row to sit in:

20120721-225518.jpgso I was able to get right behind the ball as it sailed towards my row. As it neared my glove, though, a twenty-something in front of me reached up and tipped the ball right into my row. He then dove into my row, but I tapped the ball just out his reach and picked the ball up.

As for the game itself, I saw some action, but it was just frustrating. Adam Lind hit a ball I could tell was going to clear the wall, but I also  knew it was going to be in the middle of a packed row, so I went down my staircase just as a formality. Here is a screenshot:

The arrow on the left is where the ball landed and the arrow on the right is me running down the steps. After this, miraculous, but semi-tragic happened: the ball bounced within inches of my glove. Actually, the ball bounced right at my glove, but…well, let me put up another screenshot and then I’ll continue explaining:

You can see me in the attire I was in when I took the picture with Tak earlier. Then in front of me, there’s the kid/guy in the burgundy shirt bending down. As I said, the ball bounced and was headed RIGHT at my glove, but this guy deflected the ball away from me. The guy in the Yankee hat (in the screenshot) then tried to get down for the ball at the same time as me, but even though I take up virtually no space, both of us couldn’t fit through the narrow opening, so we both got stuck and the guy in the burgundy bent down and picked up the ball. If you’re at all counfused by my explanation of this, here’s the video:

 

Anyway, that was pretty much it for things of note for this day. The only other thing was it was now the second game where I had seen a pitcher with an innings total that was the same four digits repeated:

If you don’t know why I’m posting this, the explanation is in my last entry. Just scroll down, or, if you’re reading just this entry, go to the bottom of the page and click the “Previous Entry” thingamajig.

 

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I only kept two)

Numbers 343-346 for my life:

 

  • 124 Balls in 26 Games= 4.77 Balls Per Game (or 6 Balls under 500)
  • 4 Balls x 42,819 Fans= 171,276 Competition Factor
  • 35 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 11 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 81 Balls in 21 Games at New Yankee Stadium= 3.86 Balls Per Game
  • 21 straight Games at New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
  • 6 straight Games at New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 3:38-10:44= 7 Hours 6 Minutes

 

 

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:

20120717-114350.jpg

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:

20120717-115036.jpg

20120717-115059.jpg

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:

20120717-130247.jpg

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:

20120717-205529.jpg

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

6/18/12 Orioles at Mets: Citi Field

I don’t care if I took this picture two days earlier, it’s the perfect picture to start off an entry of a game at Citi Field:

When I got off the train, there were maybe four other people waiting at the gate. Eventually, I struck up a conversation with a father and son close to me. It turns out they were from North Carolina. Why were they up at Citi Field for a baseball game then?The father actually went to high school with Bobby Parnell, or at least he gave off that impression. What I *do* know is that he knew Parnell enough that he had been working to meet up with him during B.P., and have Parnell’s number because he said he would text him when they were entering the stadium. This was the reason they was at the gates so early. Actually, that’s only a partial-truth. They was there early to try to meet up with Parnell, but they were there 2.5 hours early because the ticket rep they had spoken to told them Citi Field opened 2.5 hours before game time. Ha, ticket rep, I only wish it still did.

I kept up conversation with these two until two ballhawk friends, Ben Weil and Avi Miller, showed up at the gate and told me there was free pudding in a tent, about a hundred or so, feet away. I would have taken a picture of the pudding, but I want to send the message: “Yes, I’m a loser, but I’m not THAT much of a loser.” Us three then talked until the gates opened. As that happened, I was pretty much the only person out of everyone who entered the stadium who went to the right field side of the stadium.

There, I found this guy:

I would point out the ball with an arrow, but I like to assume a certain level of intelligence in my readership, and I trust that you can find it by yourself. Also, I should mention finding Easter Eggs is VERY rare at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. I don’t know why I presume it’s the ushers, but nowhere else where the gates open after the beginning of B.P. do I have such a problem finding Easter Eggs.

After that, my plan was to get a player to throw me a ball from here. This was my view of the field:

I then saw that a ballhawk named Vin had left the right field, so I made the ill-conceived decision to move over there. It was ill-conceived because this was my view there:

Do you know what “BB” stands for? Ballboy. Translation: never going to get a ball from me. Heck, I know a ballboy on the Yankees and he hasn’t thrown me a ball. Do you think this guy is going to toss me one? Nope. I stayed in this section for a whole Mets group, because they were mostly lefties, but I should have moved elsewhere.

Finally when I did move out of the section, I went to the left field seats. I spent the rest of bp there, but this was all I had to show for it:

Right from the spot where I took the picture, I caught that ball on the fly, off the bat of a player who I would later identify as Vinny Rottino. I offered this ball to a kid near me, but he turned me down. I must say: congratulations. I like giving baseballs away to kids, but I like it even more when they want to snag a ball for themselves and turn me down.

I was genuinely surprised that was it for B.P., though. Citi Field is semi-notorious for habitually slow B.P.s, but look at how the flags were blowing:

They were blowing straight towards left field, where I was for all of B.P. The reason there weren’t a bunch of balls in my section is the Orioles just didn’t lift any balls. Really all they had to do was get them a certain height and the jet stream would have done the rest.

Like I said, that was it for batting practice. Once it was done, I went over to the Orioles’ dugout to meet up with these people, with whom I spent the entirety of the game with:

They would be:

1. Ben Weil– A guy I believe I met at the ballpark one game and became friends with through just getting to know him at several games as “the guy who has every jersey known to man and monkey”. Seriously, just click on his name. Jerseys and hats are his “main” thing, but he has lots of other stuff too.

2. Avi Miller– A person who I met through Ballhawk Fest last year. He was in town for the Mets-Orioles series, because he is an Orioles fan. On a similar note, he is also a Camden Yards regular, who attends 8,000 Orioles games a year, you know, give or take 7,915 or so. He is either seeing if he can tweet without looking at his phone or hiding his face because R.A. Dickey had as many hits as the entire Orioles team combined.

3. Matt”y G”- Ben’s friend, who I first met in my last actual game before this, and who also engages casually in the ballhawking scene when he goes to games.

All three of us sat behind the Orioles. I was going to sit further down the line, but I figured that I might as  well sit at the dugout, since it had been so long since the last time I’d done it. At first, I sat in the aisle seat due to other fans showing up with tickets to the seats Matt and Ben were sitting in. I was so out of practice when it came to third out balls, I completely forgot to get up when the Mets made the third out in the first inning. Ben actually had to say, “Go, Go!” I then realized what was happening, and moved down the stairs to get Mark Reynolds to throw me the ball. It was COMMEMORATIVE! That was actually my first Mets commemorative ball. Here is the ball with Reynolds at first:

After I got this ball, I wanted to give a ball away, so I put the commemorative ball in backpack and pulled out one of my bp balls. I then offered a ball to a girl, but she didn’t want it, so I gave the ball to whom appeared to be her brother:

As you can see, I’ve pointed out the two with green numbers. Well, the boy did accept the ball, but right about when I gave him the ball, I felt something hit my back. I turned around to see a baseball rolling around on the steps. According to Avi (with help from Ben), Wayne Kirby had thrown a ball meant for the girl who didn’t accept a ball from me, and someone else picked it up.

When I returned to our row, I switched seats with Ben; he sat in the aisle seat, and I sat in the fourth seat in. Sadly, for Ben, Mark Reynolds didn’t hook him up the rest of the night, nor did anyone really. We sat in this format for the rest of the night. I assume we would have shifted again had Ben gotten a ball, but like I said, he didn’t. I must say, though. This was probably THE best game I’ve had sitting with other people. Usually, either I am trying to get a ball and the person isn’t interested enough in snagging to sit next to me, or it is another ballhawk who is serious about snagging as well and we try to sit away from each other  in order that we both have room to do our thing. Here, we all sacrificed that tiny advantage in getting third out balls to sit together. We just talked the whole time and made fun of each other. It was a great experience that reminded me you can have a sucky game ballhawking but still have a great time. Kind of like my first game at Target Field last year.

The only thing that really was a clear missed opportunity is that a foul ball came right into our section. Ben then shot up the stairs. I didn’t get a clear look at the ball, so I just followed him. That said, I learned from a Chris Young home run last year, that you should only trust YOUR eyes, so I looked to make sure he wasn’t misjudging the ball. When I saw the path of the ball, it looked like it was going ten rows up the stairs. I kept running up, but just then it hit one of the steps. Turns out, it had some massive backspin on it and came waaay back. I forgot this little tid bit about foul balls. Well actually, not really. I had practiced judging foul balls while my high school team was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The thing is, though, I was practicing on flat ground. In the stands, the incline of the seats magnifies any spin on the ball.

After the ball bounced off the step, it bounced back into a row behind us where a father (or was it a mother?) picked it up. This was kind of depressing. I should also mention there were two other semi-ballhawks in the section:

That in the yellow would be Aaron, who I believe goes by Howie sometimes, for whatever reason, and his friend whose name I don’t know. I know Aaron, or Howie, or whatever the heck you want to call him, because I sat down in this region with him last year.

The game was a great one. Not only did we get to see Ike Davis’ first career grand slam, but we also got to see R.A. Dickey pitch an absolute masterpiece. He threw 9 innings, 13 strikeouts, gave up 1 hit, and allowed no runs. Only the 7 hitter and pitcher got on base.If that weren’t enough, Dickey (like I mentioned earlier) had as many hits offensively as he gave up as a pitcher. Isn’t that something? I wonder how many times that has happened?

After the game ended, Ben and I headed over to the umpire tunnel where umpire Gary Cooper didn’t give a ball to anybody who was there. His ball pouch wasn’t flat either. Maybe I’m just operating out of context, but what is he going to do with those baseballs in the umpire room?

After all ball snagging opportunities were exhausted, we took the following picture by the dugout:

Admittedly, this isn’t the best take when it comes to me specifically, but it was the best group picture, so you have this awkward picture of me saying something while the camera was taking a picture; probably “Cal Ripken”.

I parted from the rest of the group at the jackie Robinson Rotunda and headed home on the “7” train.

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave one away)

numbers 265-267 for my lifetime:

  • 45 Balls in 10 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game
  • 19 straight Games with at least 1 ball
  • 10 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 10 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 3 Balls x 29,014 Fans= 87,042 Competition Factor
  • 79 Balls in 30 games= 2.63 Balls Per Game at Citi Field
  • 30 straight Games with at least 1 ball at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 balls at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 balls at Citi Field
  • Time of Game 4:09- 9:42= 5 hours 33 Minutes

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

4/30/12 Orioles at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

The whole time I spent before the gates actually opened was shaped by two things: 1. my home printer wasn’t working and 2. Avi Miller wanted a ticket stub from Buck Showalter’s 1000th win (he was sitting on 999 at the time). Due to these two things, I actually bought a physical ticket *at* Yankee Stadium for the first time in… a while:

Usually, the tickets for the bleachers are priced at $15. This day, however, they were $7.50 for whatever reason, so I lucked out and actually spent less than I would have had I bought the ticket at home. This is because I would have bought it from Stubhub and the *charges* on the ticket would have exceeded $10.

Right after I bought the ticket, I checked my phone only to find out it was only 3:45. Since the gates at Yankees Stadium open at 5:00 for a 7:00 game, I took a little tour of Yankee Stadium going around it clockwise. It started in the Babe Ruth Plaza:

then I went to Gate 6, probably Yankee Stadium’s most popular gate because of its proximity to the B, D, and 4 subway lines. It is also the gate I have been using this year. Last year I thought, for whatever reason, that this gate was behind Home Plate when in reality, it is by RF:

Soon after, I passed by the Press Gate -which, little known fact, I have actually been cleared by. If you ever see me with my red backpack, I still have the tag they put on as of May 1st, 2011. Here we have the Press Gate with the “welcoming commitee”:

Following which, I saw Gate 2, which is connected to the entrance to the Yankee offices, which I have also entered:

and took a picture of the side of the main parking garage connected to the stadium, which I have also entered once in what I believe is the first year of the stadium:

passed Gate 8, the CF gate that I used to use before I started using Gate 6:

then I took the sidewalk picture next to arrive back at Gate 6:

To pass the time until I “had” to get in line to be the first one in said line, I just sat on a bench, because I was simply exhausted from going to 8 games for my high school in 7 days and all the work that they produced. There, I sent a more or less cryptic tweet with this picture:

Soon after I arrived back at the gate, there was a whole crew of ballhawk related people. This time I actually asked them if they would mind posing for a picture since I rarely document the other ballhawks who go to the ballpark through posed photographs. Most times if I document the other ballhawks who are there, it’s a candid picture while we are out in the seats. Here are the people just outside Gate 6:

That would be:

1. Ben Weil– A New York based ballhawk that I run into a lot and occasionally exchange texts with whenever he needs to know where an umpire tunnel is, wearing the Garfield hat and Green Day t-shirt.

2. Billy- A friend Ben brought to this game.

3. Zack Hample– Most of the audience reading this will probably know who he is, but for those who don’t, he is best categorized as “that guy who catches all those baseballs”. He also has already written a blog entry about this game.

After I took this picture, Zack wanted a picture taken for his blog. Billy took Zack’s camera for two takes and here was the result:

I can understand if you don’t know what I look like since I don’t post THAT many pictures of myself in entries, but I’m the one on the right in this picture.

Once the gates opened, Zack, Ben and I hastily descended upon the RF seats. It was just us for a couple of minutes. In those couple of minutes, Zack managed to get on the board with two quick snags. I mention this because one of them was an opposite-field shot by Alex Rodriguez that was hit to our right. All three of us moved over to our right, but the ball was slicing back to our right. We kind of moved in step with each other from our individual spots. Ben had the spot furthest from the field and was closest to the landing spot of the ball, but missed it; I was in the spot closest to the field and knew I would have no shot at catching it on the fly, so I turned around and awaited the ricochet; and Zack was in between us two. I think he misjudged the ball, or it was hit too hard for him to react; as the ball was hitting the seats behind him, his momentum was carrying him towards CF, but he jumped and reached back with his bare hand and caught it. I can say with almost 100% certainty that I would have snagged that ball had he not been there, because my glove was directly in line with the path of the ball.

After our two minutes of solitude, this is what the seats to our left looked like:

As you can see, I’ve noted Billy walking over to us. As you can also see, I’ve pointed out another fan by the name of Erik. He is a regular at Yankee Stadium and is of the breed of ballhawk that only goes for hit baseballs. As he put it for me the following day, “If I get a thrown ball, it’s by accident.” He usually stands in the spot that I was taking the picture from, but I suspect he thought it would be better to stand over there because all three of us were in the RCF sections.

Also of note is that after a few balls were hit and Zack managed to snag another ball, we switched spots. Here is a picture that he took from his new spot at the front of the section:

I have included four annotations to the picture. Two are to point out myself and Ben awaiting a hit ball. The other two are pointing out two seemingly random people.

Guy 1- I went out to Yankees Stadium for all three games of their series with the Orioles (this was the first). He was there every game as well and we chatted about various things along with the usher for this section -not pictured. From what I can tell, Guy 1 goes to a bunch of games in different stadiums as well. Admittedly this isn’t that exciting, but I figured I would point him out while I was pointing out things from this pictures. Guy 2, however, was pretty exciting in my opinion.

Guy 2-  If you read my last entry, you know that I was running back and forth for foul balls all game long. Given that the crowd was under 100 people for the game, I got to see most of the people in the stadium that night; Guy 2 was one of them. I know because he was wearing the same exact sweater as the previous night. As I mentioned, this is Zack’s picture that he sent to me in an e-mail, but until I opened the picture, I had no idea this guy was at the Yankee game, probably because I was so focused on the batter that I never looked up to the bleachers. Serendipitous, isn’t it?

My first ball of the day came when some Yankee lefty hit a ball to my right. I went through my row, tracking the ball, and managed to catch it on the fly despite stubbing my toe on the way over and almost falling over. Here is the view of the field from where I caught the ball:

and here is the spot of how much I had run to get to the ball. It isn’t much, but I just wanted to show you for reference. The spot I started from is about where the guy in the blue jacket is standing, but in case you can’t find that, I provided an arrow as well:

After Zack got his third ball of the day, I realized it was time to go, so after taking a picture of Zack reenacting his double-milestone snag (it was both his 5,900th career ball and 200th snagged at the New Yankee Stadium) and saying namaste to Ben, I left for left, field that is. There I quickly missed my first ball that I just misplayed. However, I also quickly got a second chance and capitalized on it:

The solid arrow shows my path to the ball and the dotted arrow shows the path of the ball. Obviously, those people now in the path of my solid arrow weren’t there when I ran, but I took the picture after the snag itself. What happened was that I sprinted to around where I thought the ball was going to land. Meanwhile, the ball hit a seat and bounced in the air where I caught it mid-air.

My next ball was hit by Wilson Betemit, batting right-handed, about ten feet to my right. I drifted to it and caught the ball right in the row I had set up in. Here is the view of the field from the spot where I caught it:

The notable thing about this ball came after the snag, though. I thought it was about time for me to give away a baseball, so I quickly found a kid and tossed it to him. He initially accepted it, but then said, “No, you take it.” Obviously I’m more than fine with giving balls away to deserving kids, but I am always proud of them when they don’t accept a ball and try to get a ball on their own. I actually got a picture of him handing it back to me:

This was my third ball of the day, by the way.

My fourth ball of the game came after Zack came over and all three of us were together once again, as Ben had already been there for the last snag. It was also once again the same order: Zack on the bottom, myself in the middle, and Ben behind me. Some other righty hit a ball a little to our left. I thought the ball was headed pretty much to me, but Zack for some reason bolted to his right. Since I never trust my judgment on fly balls, I moved with him a little, but then realized my judgment was correct. At that point, I had moved down the steps just enough to be slightly out of position for the ball. I had to jump and came up with the ball. Right then, Zack yelled “Oh, robbed!” I turned around and saw that Ben had been right behind me with his glove up in the air.

Around this time, there was a drought of hit balls for quite some time. So far this season, I have tried to not ask for balls as much as I can. No, I’m not turning into one of those ballhawks that only catches balls hit off the bat, but sometimes my thought process when going for toss-ups affects my overall mentality more than it should and I wanted to just work on catching hit balls and then add asking players for balls after I have confidenc in my ability to snag batted balls. Long story short, all of the Orioles either ignored me, couldn’t hear me, or both. The main target of my verbal barrage was this guy right here:

Wei-Yin Chen is a reliever for the Orioles who happens to be from Taiwan. Once I suspected that he was Taiwanese, I started dropping my Chinese translation of “Can you toss me the ball, please?” I think he heard me because he turned around twice when he was beginning his motion to throw the ball back into the field, but he then went on to toss the ball to other fans both times. I’m a naturally quiet person, so yelling out to players has never been a strong suit. As Ben described me calling out to Chen, “I heard the first part, then the rest was like a whisper.”

Also in this lull, I made sure to take a picture of Ben behind me and it went very well despite my unintentionality in doing so:

I love it because it perfectly describes the situation for the second half of this batting practice in that we were both smiling… Time out: okay, I can’t prove that I’m smiling, but trust me when I say that I had an equally goofy smile to cause Ben to strike the pose. Time in… and then you have Zack up in the bleachers with what seems to be a slightly less happy face, because he wasn’t getting anything up in his bleachers. This was pretty nice since it is usually the opposite during games because Ben and Zack both get field level tickets while I get bleacher seats. I’m pretty sure I then caught my fifth ball of the day soon after.

I take pictures of the seats to remind myself of the baseballs I have caught, but sometimes I confuse the spots of the baseballs a little. However, I’m pretty sure that I caught it in the following spot, designated by the orange arrow:

Again, I caught it on the fly off of some righty, who I could not identify’s bat. Soonishly after that, ushers started checking tickets and I moved over to RF. From what I could tell, it is a new feature they added in about RF still being open until the end of bp. The reason I only went thrice to Yankee Stadium is that I was constantly in fear of getting shutout, but with this set-up, I can still try for balls in RF until the end of bp.

Here’s the view from my spot in RF:

There I would come close two a couple of balls, but I didn’t come up with any because of the two guys in the following picture:

Before I start explaining t he situations, I want to clarify that both weren’t mean about the balls they cost me; I’m pretty sure they don’t even know that they cost me baseballs. The first ball was to my left. I ran towards the spot where I thought the ball would land, but the guy with a rectangle surrounding his head ran after every ball full speed blindly and this ball was no exception. As I was slowing down to catch the ball, he was still running and his momentum pushed me out of position for the ball and he caught the ball. I would have normally stopped, but he was about to run into me and so I kept going as to not have a big collision with him. I did make contact with him, but had I not kept going it might have been a bigger hit than it was.

The second ball was hit to my right and I ran in the row between the guy in the circle and the guy in the rectangle. I was camped under the ball, but then suddenly the guy in the circle’s glove reached up and in the process nudged my glove out of position and he caught the ball.

That was it for batting practice. As for the game, I was in the bleachers. This was my view of the field:

Sadly, though, the better via TV was probably better in this scenario:

The game actually went pretty quickly. The Yankees won 2-1 on an Eric Chavez HR and the game only lasted 2 hours 22 minutes.

Since I was approximately 5 miles from Home Plate, I decided to wander for a chunk of the game and found something interesting:

I feel like an old person reminiscing, but it’s interesting because I can clearly remember when the prices for this exact item were $4.50 and $5.50 instead of $6.00 and $7.00 respectively. Is that just a product of inflation, or is it the Yankees jacking up the prices once they got into the new stadium? I don’t know, but it makes me that much more glad to be leaving New York for college. I will be going to the University of Minnesota this next fall.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this game

  • Numbers 235- 239 for my career
  • 17 Balls in 4 games= 4.25 Balls Per Game
  • 13 games with at least 1 ball
  • 4 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 5 Balls* 36, 890 fans= 184,450 Competition Factor
  • 31 Balls in 10 games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.10 Balls Per Game
  • 10 straight games with at least 1 ball at the New Yankee Stadium
  • Time at Game 3: 27- 9:38= 6 hours 1 minute