As you read in the last entry, my friend Sean dropped me off at my dorm at about midnight with the plan to for him to pick me up at 9:00 in the morning and head off to Chicago right away. Well because of a failed prank, I was up until after 1:00, when I finally fell asleep from exhaustion without setting my alarm. Thankfully through some miracle, I woke up at around 8:00 in the morning where I packed the quickest I ever have and met Sean outside where we headed off Chicago-bound.
I believe we only stopped twice on our way to Chicago. Once to eat breakfast at Denny’s–since we had both missed the dining hall breakfast by leaving so early–and once to get gas close around Madison, WI. There was a little mix-up that would define this game for me, though. Actually I guess you could call it two. I thought based the fact that a 9:00 departure time would be fine on my presumption that the White Sox game was starting at 7:00. About half-way through crossing Wisconsin, I thought, “You know what, I should probably make sure the game is starting at 7:00 Central time and not Eastern.” Turns out the game was 7:00 EST. That meant that it was starting at 6:00 our time. And another mistake I had made related to the fact that I thought the game started at 7 was that in my rush to pack everything up, I still hadn’t printed our tickets. That meant we would first have to stop by Sean’s house 40 minutes away from the ballpark before actually heading to the game.
All of this lead up to the first picture I took that day:
Batting practice was already half done and I was still in the car on my way to the game. Or course I didn’t have either my Angels or White Sox rosters printed, so I knew my streak of over 70 consecutive games with at least 1 ball snagged was in serious jeopardy. When I finally got into the stadium and got my way down to the 100 level despite not actually having a ticket for there, there was a little over 15 minutes of batting practice remaining, and this was my view of the field:
I didn’t think it was going to be an easy batting practice to begin with, though. That was because for the second day in a row, it was a bobblehead day. This game’s bobblehead was of Chicago’s beloved Paul Konerko:
That, Twins, is how you package a bobblehead.
A couple minutes in to me having entered the gates, I was sure my shutout would be ending soon:
I still can’t identify him for certain, but whoever the player under the arrow is fielded a ball near the wall by where I was, and when I asked for the ball, he threw the ball in and then looked up at me. Right then I motioned to him as I was saying “Can you throw me the next one?” To this he gave me a thumbs-up. A couple minutes after that, though, batting practice ended and I still sat at zero balls for the day. It was at this point that I made the decision and told Sean that we were going to be spending the game at the dugout:
And in the first inning, I saw a stat from that seat that caught my attention as someone who was born in Colombia:
It wasn’t until a few days prior to this game that even knew Quintana was Colombian, but I guess it’s cool. However, he’s the only one of the top-3 who hasn’t thrown me a baseball. So if you want me to root for you in this race, Jose, it’s your move.
The game for snagging was absolutely brutal. I want to say over half the baseballs ended up in the hands of Alberto Callaspo, who made eye contact with me several times throughout the night, but always ended up looking away and throwing the ball elsewhere despite the fact that I was asking him in Spanish while being decked-out in Angels attire. As miserable as I was with the whole situation that was unfolding, Sean was loving every second of it:
If you’ll remember, he and my friend Tony had made a goal of shutting me out for a game when they joined me a couple games ago. And after I caused them to fail miserably by snagging nine baseballs, I may have been a little in-your-face about it (jokingly of course) about it, so to see me struggling to get even a single baseball without him being responsible for it delighted Sean to no end.
Finally the end of the game approached us, and I formulated my plan to get a ball from home plate umpire, Jeff Nelson. Since the umpire tunnel at U.S. Cellular is directly behind home plate, there were two options. One option was to try to get into the “scout seats” right as the final out of the game was being recorded and hurry down to the tunnel before the umpires made their way back there, which would almost guarantee me a ball. The problem would be if the ushers don’t allow people into those seats even after the game is over, or if I got slowed down by the people exiting the section, I might not even be able to ask Nelson for a ball. My other option was to go to the edge of the home plate netting and yell out to the umpire as he walked off the field to the tunnel. I went the second route. Luckily, the last play of the game was a pop-up to the infield, which pulled Nelson towards the field. This gave me more time to get in position and be ready to yell once he walked my way. So I did and Nelson looked my way and rolled the ball to the wall right in front of me as he walked off the field, and I then leaned way over the wall and picked the ball up to extend my streak with at least 1 ball:
Little did I know it, but Sean was taking his first ever Vine of me at that same exact moment I took that picture that reflected my feeling on the situation perfectly. So here’s the link to that if you want to see it. But anyway, I went back to Sean’s house semi-satisfied with the outcome of the day knowing that my streak would live to see another day. We then headed out at to 7-11 with his younger brother and I want to say watched “For the Love of the Game”. It was either that or “Little Big League”. (Since I haven’t watched most baseball movies, it has been Sean’s goal to get me to watch as many as he can.) We would then get up the next day for another fun day of Chicago baseball, with a Mother’s Day twist.
- 1 Ball at this game
Number 495 for my career:
- 49 Balls in 11 Games= 4.45 Balls Per Game
- 1 Balls x 28,774 Fans=28,774 Competition Factor
- 73 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 3 Balls in 2 Games at U.S. Cellular Field= 1.5 Balls Per Game
- 2 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at U.S. Cellular Field
- Time Spent On Game 9:23-10:47= 13 Hours 24 Minutes
After taking a rare day off from baseball this week, it was back to Yankee Stadium for me. Look who I ran into at the gate:
That would be, right to left (because it will be less confusing that way):
1. George- A ballhawk who had been at the game Tuesday. Also, this would be his last game of the year, since he would be headed off to China to take part in a program, I believe the University of Bejing was putting on and would be off to St. John’s University after that.
2. Zack Hample– Just the reason I started ballhawking and this blog exists. No big deal.Also,as you can see, he is holding up a catcher’s glove. He is going to attempt a stunt today (July, 2, 2012). More specifically, he will be trying to catch a ball dropped from 1,000 feet high.
3+4. George’s friends, Stephen and Dylan. Pretty self-explanatory. I had seen these guys at a couple of other New York baseball games before, so, like George, they are “semi-regulars”
5. Mateo Fischer- The person who’s writing this sentence.
Since there were so many of us ballhawks at the gate, we split up into two groups. Zack and I went to left field, everyone else (including George’s dad, Jeff, who took the picture) went to right field. Zack took the top spot on the main left field staircase, so I took the bottom one. Therefore this was the view straight ahead of me:
and this was the view to my left:
Do you see the guy in the corner of the section? Well, he actually got a ball that was intended for me. I diagrammed the whole thing out for you in this next picture:
The player in the right part of the screen would be Freddy Garcia. Well, when he went over to the spot I marked with the number “1”, I called out to him and he threw a ball he meant to throw to me. Unfortunately, as you can see by the path of the ball I’ve outlined, his throw came up short, fell into the first row, and the man I mentioned before picked it up. Right after this, Zack said, “How does it feel to have a player throw a ball to you and miss?” He was of course referencing the game earlier that week, where the Indians’ pitching coach had overthrown him and I ended up with the ball. Oh, if only Zack knew what would happen later on in this game…
After this, Garcia made up for missing me and tossed me a second ball he retrieved:
After that, a ball was hit, and I initially judged it would land in front of me, so I ran down a few steps. I then realized it was going back to where I had been standing. (Zack had actually gone elsewhere, so I was standing in the higher spot on the staircase for this ball.) I tried to back up, but it was too late, and the ball landed in this seat:
There, a kid (not pictured) beat me to the ball. Words cannot describe how frustrated I was with myself for botching such an easy play. I didn’t show any of it, though. I’m not really one to make a scene out of my frustration. Most of the exclamations of frustration I say out loud don’t carry a necessarily connotation to them.
Anyway, I then moved over to foul ground when the White Sox started hitting. I didn’t have a White Sox shirt, so I transformed a T-Shirt that I had picked up while I was in Baltimore.I turned the T-Shirt inside-out , and the rest of what I did can be seen in this two-part picture:
A pretty nice homemade White Sox shirt, eh? Especially when you consider I made it on the train ride to Yankee Stadium.
Actually, though, my “White Sox gear” didn’t help me get any baseballs from the White Sox. The only ball I got was actually intended for another person. More specifically, it was intended for Zack. Here I am with the ball and Zack beneath the arrow:
Just as I thought I had been shutout by the White Sox players, I started heading back to the left field seats. I was at this point a section away from Zack and probably ten rows behind him. Just then, I saw him get Don Cooper, the White Sox’s pitching coach’s attention. I figured I might as well position myself behind Zack in case of an overthrow. Well, Cooper DID overthrow Zack. What happened next is diagrammed in this next picture:
As you can see, I’ve drawn two curved lines into the picture. The one on the left shows where the ball initially hit after Cooper released it. It hit in a row almost exactly between Zack and I. Had it stayed there, it would have been a race between Zack and I, which he as the faster one would have won. Except, the ball bounced just right on the plastic part of the chair as to send it the path of the second line, right into the row I was running in. Obviously, I picked up the ball, but I also felt *really* bad for Zack. I’ve been on the other end of some of those and it stinks, to say the least.
When I got back to left field, it had gotten a bit more crowded. This was the view to my left:
Behind me were two other ballhawks:
Anyway, after misjudging another ball that both Stephen AND I missed, I caught an Alexei Ramirez home run on the fly in the spot where I took the last three pictures from:
I then saw Adam Dunn’s group coming up, so I headed over to right field. It was extremely frustrating for the most part, because although he WAS hitting home runs, they were all sailing over my head into the bleachers.
While, I was there, though, I saw a player turn around to search the crowd for a fan to toss a baseball to, so I started running to the side and waving my arms around to get him to notice me. He saw me and threw me a ball through a sea of reaching arms:
He is the player with his glove covering his face. Who is “he”? I later identified the player as Jose Quintana. While I was looking him up, I found out he is actually Colombian. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll know I am actually Colombian, so it is always very special to get a ball from a Colombian player, especially a pitcher. What made it even more special was when I put that ball into my mygameballs.com account, it didn’t recognize him as a player, so I can say I was the first one on the site to get a ball from him. That’s pretty cool, in my opinion.
I then got a ball- not on the fly- hit by whoever was the “other” lefty in the group besides Adam Dunn. After which, one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen happened. I won’t diagram this for you, but here’s a picture of where it happened:
Do you see the metal bar that is going right over the “Toyota” sign? Gordon Beckham hit an opposite-field home run that hit that bar and the popped straight up in the air. I had a beat on it, but the guy in the bottom right corner of the picture dove backwards into a seat and caught the ball.
After that, I caught an Adam Dunn home run on the fly and immediately gave it away to a kid who had also been pursuing it. Both he and his father thanked me. It was a pretty nice experience. So nice, in fact, that after security kicked everyone out of the right field seats, I gave another ball away on my way to the bleachers.
Once I got to the bleachers, the White Sox had ended their session of batting practice in lieu of something much weirder:
Fielding practices in it of themselves are pretty rare before MLB games. This was even weirder because the White Sox were taking fielding practice WITHOUT ANY BASEBALLS. The coaches were hitting imaginary balls to the players, who were then executing a play. Weird.
In the bleachers, I tried to get a ball from the grounds person, and I thought there was no way I wouldn’t with so many baseballs in the bullpen:
My next stop was the top of the batter’s eye, where I would try to get Mike Harkey to throw me a ball. Harkey is the guy standing on the bench in the bullpen:
Thanks to a friend who wasn’t going to be at the game, and gave me his ticket as a result, here’s where I sat:
There I managed to get within five feet of a Mark Teixeira home run during the game:
It was caught by the person sitting next to the guy who’s standing up. Actually, the word “caught” doesn’t accurately describe the situation. Someone had the ball bounce off their chest. Then five people piled onto each other until he finally came out with the ball.
After the game, I moved over next to the bullpen to try to get a ball from bullpen coach, Juan Nieves, but he completely ignored me. While he was waiting for Mark Salas, who was still readying himself in the bullpen, and I was yelling my head off trying to get his attention; a second guy, who also looked like a bullpen catcher, looked at me. He then put down his oversized bag, unzipped it, and pulled out a ball he then threw to me. He’s the guy trailing Salas and Nieves in the following picture:
• 7 Balls at this Game (5 pictured because I gave two away)
• 90 Balls at 18 Games= 5 Balls Per Game
• 27 straight games with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight games with at least 2 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 7 Balls
• 68 Balls in 18 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.78 Balls Per Game
• 18 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 7 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:59- 10:56= 6 Hours 57 Minutes