Tagged: MLB

Junior Ballhawk of the Year

Apparently it’s Award Season in the MLB community. Yeah, well I’m going to completely disregard that. I have interest in it, don’t get me wrong, but if you want to read about the awards, my friend Matt Huddleston is doing comprehensive coverage of all of the awards on his blog, The Unbiased MLB Fan. No, here at Observing Baseball we are completely self-absorbed in the awards converge, covering only awards that the staff (read: me, Mateo Fischer) win.

So yes, I won mygameballs.com’s Junior Ballhawk of the Year:

The subtitle phrases it perfectly when it says I am honored. If you are a ballhawk with any normalcy to your life’s schedule, there are many times when it may not seem worth it to keep ballhawking. Then there’s the fact that I had to do something half-way decent to be considered for the award. Then, after that, when you consider that this is a peer-voted award, it adds a whole new level of honored to the mix. To people outside of the ballhawk community (and maybe even to people inside it) this may not seem like much, but it feels pretty great to me right now. Getting back to the urge to quit that 95% of ballhawks get, there are very many things that make you want to quit, but at some point or another, unless you do in fact quit, there is something keeping you from quitting. This, although not directly, is an indication of what tips the scale back for me.

Now I’m not going to sit here and say that it was my goal to win any award at the beginning of this year, as indicated by its absence in the goals I *did* set for this year. (Psst. Link to that here.) In fact, I wasn’t even considering that when I wrote the goals. I didn’t even know I was going to be eligible for it at the end of the season. For those who don’t know, my birthday is in October, before the award voting began, but apparently, the cutoff date was in July  That said, when I did eventually win the award, it meant something to me as I have described above. It is what it is: a really cool thing that came along through the course of doing my ballhawking thing throughout the season.

Anyway, thank you to Alan Schuster for just creating mygameballs.com and the people who voted for me. I don’t want this to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech or anything; I just want an entry on the blog documenting the fact that I won the award. This is a sort of awkward entry for me. On the one hand, I didn’t not want to write an entry and make it seem like I’m better than the award or anything, because it does mean something to me, but at the same time, I know it doesn’t mean that much to a lot of people.

Also, congratulations to all of the other ballhawks who received votes for Junior Ballhawk of the Year:

Keep your eyes glued to mygameballs.com for the next few days as the announcement for Ballhawk of the Year should be up, which is a much greater feat than this. Could it possibly be that Greg Barasch takes it and we be the first and possibly the last next-door neighbor combination to sweep the awards?

And I know this entry was both late and unrelated to the poll I’m conducting this offseason, but I felt it was necessary and I had a bunch of things that got in the way of entry writing this week. New entry up on Monday. Meanwhile, keep voting on the assortment of polls I have provided below if you have not already done so (P. S. Thanks to everyone who has voted, the main poll is over 20 votes as of me writing this):

 

 

 

If you have no clue what some of the entries in the first poll are, here’s the link to the entry where I explain them.

 

Update: So Greg didn’t win and the results proved to me that Ballhawk of the Year is just a popularity contest with a splash of actual stats looking. Anyway, congratulations to Zack, but a cool thing about that being announced is that there was a new addition made to the “award winners” page on mygameballs.com:

Winter Writing Ideas

1. Blast From The Baseball Past

2. New Observing Baseball Icon

3. Dissecting a Baseball – Except I should clarify I would be dissecting multiple types of baseballs, not just MLB ones.

Be sure to vote as soon as you can because I want to start publishing regular entries this Monday, so I’ll write about what it is that has the most votes at the end of today

9/30/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

It was Sunday, September 30th 2012. It was my last game of the season. Except, when I awoke early Sunday morning, it didn’t feel like it at all. It just felt like another day at the ballpark. Except I semi-changed things up by going to Harmon Killebrew’s gate:

I knew there wouldn’t be batting practice, and my bus drops me off right by Gate 3 when I take it; so I didn’t feel like walking to Gate 34.

When I entered the left field seats, this was my view:

No surprise there.

I went down to the Tigers’ dugout, but there wasn’t anything going on down there:

See? Nothing.

Eventually, Jeff Kunkel– one of the Tigers’ bullpen catchers– came out to play catch with one of the pitchers:

I don’t remember who the pitchers was, but I do remember that after playing catch they went to the bullpen to throw a bullpen session.

Then there was a long break in action. How long? It was long enough for Kunkel to go to the bullpen, catch the session, and come back out to be the catching partner of the next pitcher who came out:

I don’t know who it was. The face looked most Luke Putkonen, but he didn’t look 6’6″, which Putkonen is listed at. But who knows, MLB players routinely “round up” on their listed heights, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was Putkonen.

Anyway, at this time, the Twins came out to throw:

I had half a mind to go over there, but I decided against it since my most notable competition on my side of the field was a family who were expecting the Twins to take batting practice and a couple of kids with their parents.

It looks like I made the right decision, because minutes later, I got this from Luis Marte by working some Spanish magic:

One down, four to go to get to my goal of 444 career baseballs. I gave this ball away to the family I mentioned before, since they had engaged me in conversation over day games after night games, the Twins, and a whole bunch of other things.

After Marte, I would get a giant boost in my campaign for four baseballs in a BP-less day. Two words: Phil. Coke:

Yeah he’s one of the nicer players out there, but the reason he was so good in my quest for four baseballs on the day is he was absolutely the most wild I have ever seen a pitcher in a session of catch.

Here was my view of Coke and his throwing partner, the other bullpen catcher, Scott Pickens:

To give you an idea of Coke’s wildness in this particular session, Pickens was at least thirty feet in front of the stands. Now that you have this fact in your mind: Coke threw four balls into the stands by me. The first almost decapitated me because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time. I ducked just in time as the ball whizzed over my head, bounced off a seat two rows behind me, and bounced back onto the field. After that I was sure to pay attention. The next ball actually technically didn’t make it into the stands on the fly. As soon as the ball was half-way between Coke and Pickens, I could tell it was sailing way over Pickens’ head, so I moved into position and caught the ball right at the wall. So even though I was in the stands, I caught the ball itself over the field of play. Without a hesitation, I gave the ball back to Pickens and he told me he would give me the ball when they were done throwing.

The third ball was a HUMONGOUS overthrow that sailed over even my head. It then bounced off of a seat behind me and bounced back towards me. At this point, I acted like a catcher who was blocking a ball in the dirt and just blocked the ball with my chest, deflecting it to the seats to my left. Basically, this was the path of the ball:

After I deflected the ball, I ran after it and just barely scooped it up before anyone else could get to it. I then proceeded to give the ball to the second-closest to the ball who just happened to be a ten-year old boy with a glove. This was technically my second ball of the day since I gave the first overthrow I snagged back to Pickens. I was gave away two consecutive baseballs because I knew I was approaching milestone/goal territory and I wouldn’t want to give away any of the latter balls I snagged in the day.

 

Then a fourth bounced to almost the exact same location, but this time, there was someone closer to me after the deflection, so he scooped it up. I really didn’t have a chance because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time, Instead, I was talking to the family I gave the Marte ball to, so I didn’t see the ball until I turned around and saw it hit the seats.

 

When Coke finally finished throwing, he came to sign autographs. Pickens headed straight for the dugout and Coke headed straight for the foul line. This is where he showed his awesomeness. First, there were a bunch of baseballs sitting on the foul line. He picked up a couple of baseballs. The first he threw up to the second level. When the woman who he threw it to didn’t catch it, he jokingly got on her case by flinging his glove on the ground, yelling “COME ON!”, and then using her former softball playing to further his discussion even though she was a hundred feet away. The second ball also went to that woman and she caught it this time. (No glove on, by the way.) He then came over to start signing. While he started signing, he asked me if Pickens had given me the ball. When I said no, he jokingly reprimanded Pickens for not doing so and tossed me a ball:

While he kept signing, we talked for 1-2 minutes about the ball he just tossed me and why I hadn’t snagged the last ball he threw into the crowd. I realize that doesn’t seem like that long time, but it is when you consider it was a major league player I was talking  to, it’s pretty special.

 

Because I had to get four baseballs in a BP-less game, I got a ticket in Target Field’s “moat” to have a shot at a ball during the game, since I figured I would enter the game under four baseballs for the day.I waited there until the position players came out to throw. When they finished throwing, I got Andy Dirks to toss me career baseball number 444:

Oh. Yes:

This effectively eliminated the possibility of me going to a playoff game in 2012 (I didn’t, but I was seriously considering a trip to Detroit.) What it also did was it made it so I wouldn’t have to sit by the dugout for the game. Sure, those seats are nice and all, but I wanted to end my season with a game home run if I could. So instead, I stood out here for most of the game:

How awesome would it be to end my season with a Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, or Joe Mauer home run. Or even better, an opposite field bomb by Miguel Cabrera to lock-up the triple crown for him. Alas, the only home run any of those players hit was a Prince Fielder home run to left field.

 

In the middle innings, though, I was kind of tired, so I decided to do something I had always wanted to do at a major league stadium but was always to busy running around to do: I went to Target Field’s Best Buy gaming station to play MLB The Show:

Yeah, for one real baseball inning, I was that guy who pays no attention to the game and just plays video games at a baseball stadium. And you know what, it felt nice to relax a little in frantically trying to get to first fifty games in the season and then reach 444 career baseballs, I hadn’t had much of a break in the action between ballhawking, blogging, and schoolwork. (If you’ve noticed the relaxed pace of entries lately, it’s because I still had some overload left in me. I’ll be ramping the blogging schedule back up in a bit.) So yeah, it was nice:

For the record, I was the Nationals; not the Astros.

 

When I realized I was never going to score any runs because I had no clue how to hit in the game (yes, it took three innings to realize this),  I headed back out to the standing room section just in time:

That would be Mike. He and his friend (not pictured) are– besides myself, Tony Voda, and Paul Kom– the closest thing Target Field has to regular ballhawks. I believe they are both season ticket holders, but they only try to catch baseballs on less than half of the games they go to. Anyway, he was dressed in this get-up to pay homage to Red Solo Cup. If you don’t know about it, don’t worry, I didn’t know about the song until I got to Minnesota. Mike pretty much always has the hat on, but this was the first time I had seen him with the cup costume itself.

 

As previously mentioned, there was no action out on the standing room. At the end of the game, I headed down to the moat and got a ball from home plate umpire, Jim Wolf:

This meant I had officially “passed” my goal of 222 baseballs in 2012. Yay?

 

After which, I simultaneously tried to get the lineup card(s) from Jim Leyland and tried to get a ball from the Tigers relievers coming back from the bullpen:

It wasn’t because of my multitasking, but I failed at both. When I realized there would be no on-field demo by FSN due to Kids Run The Bases, I went around the stadium saying goodbye to all of the ushers I had met in the last month of season and I headed out.

 

One last thing before I get to the stats portion of the entry: my next entry will be a statistical recap of the season. I have a general idea of how I’m going to go about it alla last year’s review, but let me know in the comments below if you have any ideas for stats you think of or anything you would like to see in review of the season.

 

STATS:

  • 5 Baseballs at this game (3 pictured because I gave 2 away):

Numbers 441-445 for my career:

  • 223 Balls in 53 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 32,554 Fans= 162,770 Competition Factor
  • 62 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 12 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 55 Balls in 14 Games= 3.93 Balls Per Game
  • 13 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 12 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 11: 44- 4:47= 5 Hours 3 Minutes

9/10/12 Indians at Twins: Target Field

Now my third game at Target Field since starting school, I was starting to develop a routine by walking directly from my last class of the day to Target Field and falling asleep in the giant glove outside the gates:

The glove itself, for those who don’t know, is to commemorate all of the Twins Gold Glove winners in history. (That’s the plaque right over my right shoulder in the picture.) The position of the glove is to commemorate the furthest home run in Twins history; which I believe was measured at 520ft.

It isn’t exactly ideal to show up two hours before the gates open, but one of the perks is being the absolute first fan to check into the game using MLB.com’s At The Ballpark app. What I didn’t know was the perk of that was this:

Here’s the t-shirt’s front design:

And here’s the back design:

I didn’t wear it that day, but you may see it in a couple entries (hint, hint).

Once 4:30 rolled around, I went up to the gates-as is my usual routine- and readied myself for any baseball that might reach me at the gate. It’s very unlikely, but I like that there’s at least a possibility of getting a ball. It makes the time go so much faster. Citi Field gate time goes slowly for reasons I have already mentioned, and Yankee Stadium minutes, if there’s no one I know is at the gates, takes FORever. Long story short: I didn’t get any balls that bounced to the gate, but what *did* happen was, out of the blue, a guy pulled up to me in a trolley-type thing and handed me a baseball through the gates:

Just like that, I was on the board. At that moment, I decide I wasn’t going to ask for a ball for the rest of the game. I was just going to go for home runs and help other kids get baseballs.

Want to see the crowds outside the gate five minutes before it opened?

How cute.

When the gates opened, I headed straight for right field, because I figured the Indians group who had supplied with so many baseballs the first day would be hitting just as I got in. Instead of getting a hit ball, right when I got to the seats, Corey Kluber saw my Indians gear, flashed a ball he had, and threw it up to me. I realize that all of these may seem VERY unlikely given the fact I said I wasn’t asking for any baseballs, but I swear, I didn’t ask for *any* of these. Kluber just looked up at me, and tossed me the ball:

Given the fact I got two balls, though, I was considering asking for balls if I got in a rhythm catching hit balls. Unfortunately,those two would be the only ones I would get for the extent of batting practice. Unlike Saturday, there wasn’t THAT big of a crowd, but nothing was coming close to me.

This was my view for most of Indians batting practice:

When there’s enough room, so far my strategy has been to be in a spot where I can both run back to the standing room or run down to catch a ball that is hit in the seats in right field.

I then headed over to left field, but as you guessed it, not much came my way. The balls that did come my way, but I lost them in the sun even though I was wearing sunglasses:

I think Target Field left field is one of the underrated sun havens.

While I was there, though, I saw a crime against what might as well be ballhawks everywhere. It was only directed at one person (not myself), but it was pretty bad. Here ‘s something to help you out:

As you can see, I labeled some people. Well, it all started when Francisco Morales threw the ball snagger a ball. Esmil Rogers looked at him and tapped his foot as if he were waiting for the ball snagger to give the ball away to the kid next to. I suspect it was because he had seen the guy get a ball before. And the ball snagger *did* give the ball away, and Rogers clapped for him. That’s all fine and good, but when a line drive got hit RIGHT at the ball snagger, Rogers stepped right in front of it and caught the ball on the fly. When a ball rolled right to where this guy was standing in the corner spot, Rogers stepped in front of the ball and snagged the ground ball so the guy couldn’t scoop it up as it rolled to him.

I mean, yeah, he snagged ONE ball. Big deal. He did what you wanted him to do and you repay him by blocking two balls that he would have gotten. WHo was he hurting by snagging TWO baseballs? It isn’t like some kid would have gotten that ground ball had he not been there. And on that note, how are you helping ANYone by then taking the ball and throwing it right back into the infield bucket? What you saved the Indians $20? Good job, Mr. Rogers. Gee double-oh dee jay oh bee; good job, good job. It’d be one thing if you tossed the ball to a recipient you deemed more deserving, but this is just being an absolute jerk over nothing.

Sorry for the mini-rant; I try not to do that too much. But I thought I needed to get that off my chest because it just makes no sense to me when people who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions of dollars a year obsess over a fan getting a couple baseballs. Fine, he already got a ball. That means you won’t toss him a ball if he asks, not you have to attempt to the best of your ability to make sure he doesn’t get another ball for the rest of the game.

That’s all I have to say about batting practice. For the game, I sat over here:

Actually, my ticketed seat was “better” (being closer to directly behind home plate), but I figured I’d have a better chance of catching a foul ball here, since it didn’t have the hindrance of the protective netting. I also kept my Indians gear on and waved my arms whenever I would have usually been yelling, because, you know, I had that whole “I’m not going to ask for balls for the rest of the game” thing going on.

At the end of the game, though, I raced down to the dugout to see if I could finally get my first line card (I didn’t say anything about asking for lineup cards). I got rejected. However, I was right by where the umpires exit the field- known as the umpire tunnel. Usually, I always look up who the umpire is, but I didn’t even bother to this time, since I wasn’t going to ask him for a ball. Then, a weird thing happened. The only other game I had gone to the umpire tunnel, a swarm of kids ran to it just as the game ended. Since this was my only experience of it thus far, I figured that was the norm. This time NO one was at the umpire tunnel. The umpire was literally searching the crowd for people to throw balls to. Since I was the only one with a glove, he flipped me a ball:

I later searched and found out the home plate umpire’s name was D. J. Reyburn.

I then went to the other side of the dugout. There were two little sister who in conjunction with their parents, had been trying all game to get a ball from the dugout, but had failed to this point. I went over, and as Dave Miller, Francisco Morales, and Armando Camacaro neared the dugout. I just pointed almost cartoonishly at the two girls; acting as a billboard for “give these two kids a ball”. They both did, and as I guess a reward, Armando Camacaro also tossed me a ball:

If you’re wondering (you’re probably not) Camacaro’s name translates to bedcar.

Geez. Why can’t convincing players to toss me baseballs be this easy when I *want* them to toss me baseballs? I mean seriously, I got four toss-ups without even asking for them; yet when I want a toss-up, it seems like I’ll never crack a player. Anyway, weird times at Target Field.

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game

Numbers 408- 411 for my “career”:

  • 189 Balls in 45 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 27, 526 Fans= 110, 104 Competition Factor
  • 54 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games with at lest 2-3 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 21 Balls in 6 Games at Target Field= 3.50 Balls Per Game
  • 5 straight Games at Target Field with at least 1-2 Ball(s)
  • 4 straight Games at Target Field with at least 3 Balls
  • 3 straight Games at Target Field with at least 4 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 2:17- 10:41= 8 Hours 24 Minutes

7/19/12 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

I thought I’d start off this entry a little differently. Basically, I want to give you guys an opportunity to have a look at what my day is like before I even enter the gates. I will do such a video for each stadium I visit from here on out (Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and Target Field) Anyway, here is the video for Nationals Park:

Once we left the Red Seats in center field, Rick and I both headed over to the right field, only to realize it was Camp Day and those seats would be crowded come game time. While Rick checked a variety of things on his iPhone, I watched Ross Detweiler throw a bullpen session:

20120731-021046.jpg

20120731-021133.jpgIf you didn’t know, most starting pitchers throw at least one bullpen session between starts; some even throw two. Detweiler had started the opening opening game of the series, so I’m guessing he throws two, since he only took a day off from throwing. At the end of his session, Detweiler launched the ball he was throwing with into the seats in foul territory. Both Rick and I saw it and thought it went on our side of the tunnel- indicated by the glass panels- in the next picture:

20120731-022218.jpgKeep that in mind for later on in the entry.

Soon after that, Nationals hitters started hitting. All of which can be seen in the following picture:

20120731-022426.jpgThat’s right, a grand total of two Nationals hitters hit. That was the extent of batting practice. They didn’t even have any players go into the outfield; just the coaches came out to shag the balls. The two players were: a healthy Bryce Harper and a rehabbing Jayson Werth. You would probably guess that the super-prospect would hit more balls into the stands than the old, injured, failed multi-million dollar contract, right? Well I did too. Unfortunately, both of us were wrong and Werth hit many more homers to left as I watched in helpless despair from right. The one ball I had perfectly tracked, a barehanded fan reached right in front of me and deflected the ball away.

Then, right after they stopped hitting, I headed over closer to the foul pole very discreetly, as so Rick wouldn’t notice me:

20120801-014352.jpgNot to get a ball from the pitchers you see warming up, but remember that ball Detweiler threw into the stands earlier? That portion of the stands was about to open in two minutes when I took that last picture, and I wanted to be the first one in them to get the ball.

I was indeed the first person there, but when I got to the spot I thought the ball was, it was vacant. As Rick arrived on the scene, I went up to the top of the section and asked an usher where the ball had gone. He told me it had gone on the other side of the tunnel I mentioned earlier. I went down there, and he guided me as I motioned to where I thought the ball was. This was actually the same usher who gave me my first usher toss-up at Nationals Park ever. If you can find a picture him, you win………bragging rights. (Hint: the easies way to find the entry is through mygameballs.com.)

Thanks to this ushers arsenal of saving gestures, I found the ball right under a seat:

20120801-020113.jpgI then moved back over to the pitchers warming up. I figured Strasburg, since he doesn’t shag balls in the outfield, would probably not recognize me. So, I lined up behind Jim and his throwing partner, Jordan Zimmerman:

20120801-020407.jpgUnfortunately, Zimmerman ended up with the ball, which usually means I am not getting the ball (I had never gotten a ball from him, and he has never been fan-friendly per se). Fortunately, I was the only non-Mets fan, so after he scanned the stands, he threw me the ball:

20120801-021035.jpgI would have LOVED to have gotten the ball from Strasburg, but getting the ball from Zimmerman was a fun victory in a different regard.

Then, to my surprise, the complementary ticket I mentioned in the opening video, was right behind the umpire tunnel. So until the game began, I talked mostly with the two people in the next picture, and a person slightly out of the frame to the right:

20120801-022500.jpgI had been talking to the ushers a little the previous two games when I came down to get umpire balls, but in talking to them this day, both parties (myself and the ushers) learned that the other knew of “Zack”. The “Zack” in question being one with the surname Hample.We then had a discussion about the specifics of baseball collecting and my experience beginning in the hobby.

The guy in the red is Gio Gonzalez’s dad. He actually is the one who brought up the subject (kind of). I guess he saw me by Gio while I was trying to get a ball and said, “Are you a collector?” To which I responded, “Yes ” not knowing who he was. It turns out Gio’s father is an autograph collector and thought I was the same. It was a slightly frustrating process, but when the male usher jumped in with: “Oh. You know Zack?” Gio’s father faded out of the conversation and went to his seat. Sadly, his son would get knocked around by the Mets en route to a 9-5 loss.

During the game, this was my view of the action:

20120801-103602.jpg

For some reason, I have horrible luck with third-out balls (whichever end of the dugout I go to, the ball goes to the other). Well, my luck continued for this game. I didn’t get a single third-out ball.

I’d just like to take a little time out to point out one of the members of the “Nat Pack”, Terrence. I mentioned a couple of entries ago that I believed he was the most energetic team employee I had ever seen at a baseball game (maybe I didn’t phrase it like that, but that’s what I meant). The ushers I had been talking to described this as the hottest game of the year. I don’t know about that, but it was in the 105 degree range. Well Terrence wasn’t slowing up at all. He inhabits the wheelchair section by the third base dugout. One of the things he does is whenever there’s a wave, he runs from one end of the section to the other “pushing” it along. There were more than a couple waves this game. Another example, of which I have photographic evidence, is what Terrence was doing when “Old Time Rock and Roll” started playing:

20120801-234227.jpg

That’s right. He picked up one of the fold-able chairs and started jumping around the section, pretending the chair was a guitar as he strummed it.

After the game, I was already by the umpire tunnel, so I asked the umpire, Chris Conroy for a ball. He gave it to me saying, “Here, because you took the time to look up my name.” Conroy, if my memory serves me right is number 99. I don’t know for certain, but I would bet that means he is one of the newer umpires, so I’m guessing not many people know his name:

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (no picture because I forgot to take it). They were numbers 352-354 for my career

Numbers 352-354:

  • 132 Balls in 29 Games= 4.55 Balls Per Game (14 Balls under 500)
  • 3 Balls x 36,389 Fans (no way were there that many people)= 109,167 Competition Factor
  • 38 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 14 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 105 Balls at Nationals Park in 23 Games= 4.57 Balls Per Game
  • 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
  • 16 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
  • Time Spent One Game 9:34- 4:07= 6 Hours 33 Minutes
  • This game will have been my 100th ever I have recorded on mygameballs.com. I have gone to more games than that, but I obviously didn’t keep a record of them before mygameballs.com, so this is the only milestone I can celebrate.

7/5/12 Giants at Nationals: Nationals Park

Yay for free tickets!

Boo W.B. Mason trucks:
Let me explain myself a little further. The man holding water in the first picture is friend and ballhawk, Rick Gold. Rick works for mlb.com, so he gets into games for free. Not only that, but he can get an extra ticket. Instead of paying my usual $13, Rick hooked me up with a free ticket. Like I’ve mentioned before, there is an usher in right field who lets me sit there every game, so it doesn’t really matter where my ticketed seat is, just as long as I can get in the gates. My thumbs-down to the W.B. Mason truck is because that was the giveaway. Not the actual, giant truck, but here’s the first picture once I got in the gates:
I actually got two of these since Rick’s bag was stuffed and he didn’t want carry it around with him.

I was in left field for this picture and all of pitchers batting practice, but I didn’t get anything until the third group of hitters in right field. The third group is that which contains Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper. One ball, LaRoche hit a bit over my head and to my right. I moved right into the exact spot where the ball was going to land, but for some reason, even though it was going straight towards my glove, the ball tipped off it and I picked it off the ground. I know it may sound shallow and stupid, but I was pretty mad with myself for dropping such an easy ball. Sure I still got it, but I also realize that the ball would have probably been someone else’s had I been in New York. Here is the spot where I dropped/snagged the ball:
I then almost caught what would have been a pretty cool ball. I believe it was LaRoche again, but it might have been Harper. Anyways, one of the two lefties hit a ball I could tell was maybe going to barely make it to the seats. I went all the way down the steps, reached out as far as I could and felt the ball hit my glove. I then had my glove pressed against the wall. I couldn’t tell, but people to my side cheered like I had caught it, so I carefully lifted my glove as to not drop a ball if it was in there, but the ball had probably dropped onto the warning track since it wasn’t in my glove as I dragged it up the wall. Here is the spot I almost caught it in:
I was leaning over the raised part of the glass, so I actually would have probably caught the ball had I went over to the railing and reached over that instead.

After that, there wasn’t much action in right field. The most interesting thing that went on was I got to see Rick using his device in the Red Seats:
I don’t have a picture of it, but it’s a cup trick of sorts. Like one you would see in either Atlanta or in San Francisco.

When I say it wasn’t interesting, that doesn’t mean the players weren’t hitting home runs. It just means those home runs weren’t near me. There were a bunch going into the second and third decks in right field. Those seats were closed until 5:30. So at 5:27, I lined up here expecting a big “payday”:
There were so many balls hit up there in fact, I spent my time waiting trying to figure out how I could keep track of what order I snagged the balls in, expecting to need to use four of my backpack’s pockets. When I got up there, though, there was nothing. The ushers had cleared out all the balls they could find in the seats. That’s the only explanation I have. No one I saw found a ball and there were at least 5 hit in the second deck and two in the third deck. Of course, one in the upper deck had been hit far enough to evade the usher’s sweep of the section. The problem was, myself and the two other fans searching the section had not seen where that ball landed, so it was Rick, after batting practice who found it and kindly (read: cruelly) took a picture for me:
Let’s get back to batting practice, though, shall we? Dejected, I walked over to third base foul ground to try to get a ball from the Giants pitchers warming up:
Like the last game I went to, they didn’t even throw a ball into the crowd while I was there. I then headed over to left field to try to catch a home run from the Giants hitters. I failed at doing this, but I got a ball from Santiago Casilla by the bullpen. At least I think that’s who it was. It was a pitcher, and he’s the person that looks most like the person who tossed me the ball on the Giants roster.

I then went over to the Red Seats where I got Shane Loux to toss me ball. Here’s a diagram of it from a picture I took in right field right after I got the Loux ball:
The black arrow shows where Loux had to move to field the ball, and the orangey arrow is the path of the ball. I then asked who hadn’t gotten a ball. A kid raised his hand, but he didn’t have a glove, so I kept on searching. Usually when this happens and I say why I didn’t give him the ball, the parent(s) react negatively. In this case, though; when I said, “Well, where’s your glove?” the father said, “I told you, you need to have your glove on all the time.” After I gave the ball away to another kid, I talked to the father briefly about experiences sitting in the upper deck with a glove on at all times as a kid.

I then moved over to foul ground to try to get a ball from Barry Zito, since I wasn’t having any luck with hit baseballs:
Of course when I got there, batting practice ended with me at three balls on the game.

I started off the game in right field, where this was my view:
20120708-100045.jpgFor those wondering: yes, that is Rick’s head in front of me in that picture.

Tonight’s game was turn back the clock night. That meant both team’s would have their 1924 uniforms on. It would be the New York Giants versus the Washington Senators:
20120708-100602.jpgIt also meant the stadium’s employees dressed up like it were 1924. Take this picture from the end of batting practice. Can you spot the three different employee outfits?
20120708-100817.jpgI didn’t like my chances of getting anything in right field with Matt Cain on the mound, though. My mom grew up in the bay area, so she was raised a Giant fan. Normally she doesn’t go to games much, but with the Giants in town, she and my step-dad decided to go to the game. I used one of their tickets to move over here:
20120708-101339.jpgWhile I was there, I saw the second coolest sky I’ve ever seen at Nationals Park:
20120708-101550.jpgBy the way, did you notice the “1924” scoreboard they had going?

Anyway, the Giants got beat by the “Senators” 5-6 in a thriller. The Giants were winning 5-1 in as late as the seventh, I believe, but once Matt Cain came out, the Nationals came back to make the score 5-4. Then they scored 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. The game ended on a tailor-made double play ball that just got botched. After the game, I went to the umpire tunnel, and got Gary Darling to toss me a ball:
20120708-102034.jpg

STATS:
• 4 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave 1 away)
20120708-103745.jpgNumbers 323-326 for my life:
20120708-103827.jpg• 104 Balls in 21 Games= 4.95 Balls Per Game
• 30 straight Games with at least 1Ball
• 6 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 83 Balls in 17 Games at Nationals Park= 4.88 Balls Per Game
• 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
• 6 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
• 4 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 4 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:24- 10:27= 7 Hours 3 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