Sorry it’s two days late– given October 13th was Observing Baseball’s two-year anniversary– (YouTube was giving me problems uploading it, FOUR TIMES) but this is a video tribute-type thing I did for two years of Observing Baseball. Feel free to pause the video to click the links below the video that I allude to in the video itself. The reason I wanted to celebrate this way is because I know a bunch of you have joined on in the past year. Also, sorry for the length. I prioritized having everything in there over making it watchable for people with ADD. Enjoy:
And one good thing about being two days late on this entry is I get to shoutout all of the cool people who wished me a happy birthday. Here are said cool people:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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
You may remember, if you read semi-regularly, that my high school team played at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ stadium fairly recently. If not, here’s the link to the entry. Well, this was now our second game in a season playing at a minor league ballpark. It’s pretty cool to play in a minor league stadium period. To do so twice in a season is fantastic. This time, for those who don’t know where this ballpark is, it was the Staten Island Yankees’ stadium that we would be playing in:
I took that last picture immediately upon entering the stadium, and as you can see there were already players ahead of me. Apparently, we weren’t supposed to have entered. The gate was only open because a local network by the name of MSG Varsity was filming the game and needed to get their cameras in. We were supposed to (and eventually did after we filled out the paperwork that we wouldn’t sue the Yankees if anything happened to us) go to the visitor’s locker room.
The locker room was truly amazing. I know this because I have been to both, but it was close to the quality of a Major League one in terms of appearance, even if it was a little smallish. All the lockers had the names of the players, and the locker room was completely carpeted. Sounds amazing enough for me to take pictures, right? Unfortunately, it was here that I found out I had forgotten my camera’s memory card for the second time in four days. I guess I was freaking out about this, because the following is the extent of my documentation of the locker room:
Fascinating, isn’t it?
Soon after we made our way to the field, I was asked to go up to the booth to help with the pronunciation of names. Here is the view from one of the booths behind the plate:
The arrow in that picture points to the PA announcer’s mic. He was the one I assisted in this particular booth. While I was there, I figured I should probably take a picture of the massive cluster of monitors the SI Yankees people had:
I should also add that they pulled me away when the rest of the team was paying catch, so I was watching the assistant coach who is usually my catch partner and I was glad he found someone else to throw with:
Next, I helped the MSG Varsity announcer with pronunciations in their booth; he’s the one with the red arrow above his head:
After that, I went down, and since the team was done playing catch, I wandered the seats to take a bunch of pictures. I started out by taking a picture with my camera touching the RF foul pole:
moved over to show the dining portion of the seats:
took a picture of the standing room section I would be standing in for most of the night where there was also an MSG Varsity camera present:
showed a view from the seats in foul territory down the first base line:
made sure to take a picture from the closest I could get to being directly behind the plate (I’ll explain later):
took a picture from foul ground on the third base side:
took a picture from as close as I could get to the foul line in LF:
took a picture of the gate 90 degrees to my right (with an arrow pointing at the bus we had driven in that is hidden in this picture):
then took my last “tour” picture of the stairs that lead to this corner of the stadium from the main concourse:
Right after that, I started my day of “snagging”. From now on, the entry will read more like a ballhawking entry.
I found a ball in the seats as I was going back to the dugout:
A St. Raymond’s pitcher was warming up nearby, so I asked him if the ball was theirs and threw it to him when he held out his glove. A few seconds later, I found another ball in the seats and decided to keep this one. Here is a picture of it:
After the National Anthem and opening ceremonies, I went to a second standing room section between the first one I showed you and the dining seats:
St. Raymond’s hitters didn’t hit any foul balls, but our leadoff hitter (who is a switch-hitter batting left-handed) hit a foul ball on the first pitch of his at-bat. Guess who ended up with the ball?
What happened was that the ball went into the concourse behind me, but then bounced off the wall and back into the seats. Here is the picture of the ball that I took when I turned around to show where it came from:
This hitter got out on the very next pitch and the next batter was a righty, so I ran over to the other side of the seats. Just as I was entering the seats, he hit a ball to my right that did the exact same thing as our leadoff hitter’s ball in that it bounced off the wall and back into the seat. Here I have the two baseballs because I hadn’t yet been able to throw the first one back (you couldn’t keep the balls):
Right after I picked up the ball, I heard and then saw three kids running up to the concourse and asking each other, “Where is it?” Do you remember Pat O’Shea from the Pelicans game I went to? Well those were his two younger brothers and younger sister. The sister would stay with her parents, but for the rest of the night, I had a friendly competition with both of the brothers to see who could snag the most baseballs.
My next ball came when a righty sliced a ball down the line. I was playing closer to Home Plate than both of the brothers, so I accepted the fact that they would get the ball. The older one then came back like I expected with a ball. However, this ball was dirty like the ones I had found in the seats before the game started. It was the second inning, so I thought that it should be a pearl still. I ran down the line searching for a ball that matched my description, and what do you know, I found it!
If you’re not keeping track, that was my fifth ball of the game. I would go on to snag two more balls in the game. I can’t remember how I got my sixth ball, but I know that I caught the seventh one on the fly in the standing room section that I mentioned earlier. This beat the older brother by two baseballs, since he snagged 5, while the younger brother snagged 3 at this game. That is all on the snagging front, but I wanted to share a few more things.
1. Here is are the blank standings in the stadium because the SI Yankees’ season doesn’t start until June 16th I believe:
2. Here is a picture from the spot I was standing for most of the night. It is of the MSG Varsity camera man, and I thought the picture was nice-ish:
What do I like most about that picture? The skyline in the background. Here’s a close-up of it:
3. It was a very exciting game, albeit poorly played. The score was tied 1-1 going into the 7th inning (we only play seven innings). St. Raymond’s scored one run off a leadoff double. This meant we would have to score a run in the bottom of the seventh to win. Not only did we score one, but we also scored a second run to win the game, driving in the runs by walking with the bases loaded and hitting a sacrifice fly.