Tagged: New York Yankees

8/13/12 Rangers at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

My first day at Yankee Stadium in a while, and it was the day of the ballhawk and crowds. I knew beforehand that the two best per-game ballhawks on mygameballs.com, Greg Barasch and Zack Hample, were going to be at the game, going in through the right field gate. I had no interest in competing with both of them, so I decided to go in through the left field gate instead and thus begins our official ballhawk counter:

That would be Eddie, one of the regulars at Yankee Stadium who I mentioned in an earlier entry as a person I talked to before the game started. When I got to the left field gate, there was a decent sized line, but Eddie has a Yankees Universe membership (actually, several), so he got me in a special line that had maybe five other people in it.

From the left field seats, this was my view:

Ballhawk number two would be Eli Louis, someone I had seen a couple of times last season but never before this season. Ballhawk number three was Eli’s friend who accompanied him to the game and also vied for baseballs.

Something interesting happened with Eli. A Yankee player, I believe David Robertson threw a ball to Eddie, but he sailed the ball over his head and Eli snagged the ball. (Don’t worry, though. Eddie got him to throw another ball and was completely cool about Eli getting the ball.) Well here is Eli with the ball:

Did you notice anything about the ball? Here’s a closer look at it:

I had seen these balls before but I thought they were only for the Yankees’ “Social Media Night” and then the rest were left over. It was now exactly a month after said night, so now I have no idea how this ball got in the batch.

When the Yankees “righty” group came up to bat, some other balhawks joined us who were already there:

4. Tak- A ballhawk who I previously mentioned in this entry.

5. Greg Barasch- The first of two ballhawks whose presence made me decide to go to left field.

6. Zack Hample- The second of two ballhawks whose presence convinced me to start off in left field.

There was a huge lull in action before I got my first ball of the day. My first ball actually came when the Rangers pitchers were warming up. Usually, that’s when I’m building up my total to try and get past five balls:

I had no idea who the player was, but Greg (as in Barasch) later identified him as Robbie Ross. I’ll take his word for it. And for the lovers of the fake jerseys I make, I don’t own a Rangers shirt, so to compensate, I taped this logo to and inside-out Ryan Zimmerman Nationals jersey:

I would have printed it out in color, but my printer was all out of color ink when I tried.

My next close encounter came just minutes later:

A ball was in the air, so I went through an empty row and into the staircase nearest where the ball was going to land. The ball then bounced off of people and landed in the exact empty aisle I had just been in. Frustrating.

Normally, I’m further towards center field. So why was I so much closer to the foul pole? This:

Suffice to say, I wasn’t going to have very good chances of catching ANYTHING over there. When Josh Hamilton’s group came up, I didn’t waste half a second in knowing where I was going to go:

Yep, it was up to the right field bleachers for me. Apparently, Greg and Zack also had the same idea:

Unfortunately for the three of us, the only ball that went up there was one I should have caught:

Some lefty on the Rangers hit a ball to my right, so I ran that way. I tracked the ball the whole way and as I put my glove up to make the catch, the guy underneath the arrow’s arm was blocking my way. I couldn’t reach for the ball. Not surprisingly, the barehanded gentleman dropped the ball and it squirted away from both of us.

That was it for batting practice. Right after the national anthem, I headed up to try and get a ball from Mike Harkey. I wasn’t the only one:

That would be Tak and Eli. Also, it was up here that were “ball snaggers” numbers 7 and 8:

7. Chris Hernandez– A ballhawk who I’ve run into a couple times now. He leaves comments on this blog as ch1088.

8. Chris’ friend who was also somewhat contending for baseballs.

There actually is a ninth, but I didn’t get him on camera. Number nine would be Greg’s dad Shelly. Whenever he goes to games with Greg, he also does the ball snagging thing.

Interestingly enough, none of us got the ball, so that was it until game time. This game was actually the second in a row I had been to that was broadcast by ESPN, as shown by the DIRECTV blimp flying overhead:

Of course, since I was in the bleachers, there was almost no chance I’d get a ball during the game. However, I *did* get a ball after the game from a person I highly suspect to be Andy Hawkins:

20120815-184931.jpg {I didn’t take the picture with Dawkins in the background because he had already tucked himself where I couldn’t see him by the time I pulled my camera out. [Whenever I say camera, I actually mean phone (unless I state otherwise at the beginning of the entry)] So I just took this picture and headed home; instead of waiting for him to come back out from underneath the overhang I couldn’t see him under.}

STATS:
• 2 Balls at this game

20120815-185936.jpg

Numbers 361-362 for my career:

20120815-190437.jpg
•139 Balls in 32 Games= 4.34 Balls Per Game
• 2 Balls x 45,676 Fans= 91,352 Competition Factor
• 41 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
•17 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 83 Balls in 22 Games at the New Yankee Stadium
• 22 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
• 7 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
• Time Spent On Game 4:07-10:38= 6 Hours 31 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

6/28/12 White Sox at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

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:

20120702-180459.jpg

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:

20120703-122822.jpg
and to my right:

20120703-122944.jpg
If you read a couple entries ago, I mentioned a guy named Eddie (or is it Eddy?). He’s the one in the upper-right part of the picture in White Sox gear.

Behind me were two other ballhawks:

20120703-123223.jpg
Stephen had made his way over to left field (in the green), and Zack (in the White Sox gear) had come back from foul territory.

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:

20120703-123826.jpg
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:

20120703-124445.jpg
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:

20120703-130351.jpg
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:

20120703-131230.jpg
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:

20120703-131646.jpg
but somehow I came up empty handed.

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:

20120703-132309.jpg
I accomplished my mission… sort of. Harkey *did* throw me two baseballs. Unfortunately, neither was on target, so headed into the game at 6 balls.

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:

20120703-133339.jpg
Pretty nice, huh?

There I managed to get within five feet of a Mark Teixeira home run during the game:

20120703-133537.jpg
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:

20120703-151608.jpg
Yay, happy ending!

STATS:
• 7 Balls at this Game (5 pictured because I gave two away)

20120703-152101.jpg
numbers 306-312:

20120703-152309.jpg
• 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

6/26/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Before I get started with this entry, I’ve been posting entries pretty quickly in the last 48 hours, so you may not have been able to read the  entires that preceded this one. Here are the links to the two entries, so you can give them the love they deserve:

1. The Bergino Baseball Clubhouse– A couple of weeks ago, I went to this baseball store, so I wrote an entry about my trip there using the pictures I took. Please, if you are a baseball fan, read the entry; even more so if you live in New York.

2. 6/25/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium– When I publish this entry you are reading, this entry will be less than 24 hours after the entry I am talking about, I want to make sure all you readers who check every so often know that I did indeed write an entry before this that you can read if you to.

Onto the account of the game…

I arrived a little late Yankee Stadium for my taste, and expected a bit of a line in front of me, but c’mon, this is ridiculous:

Thankfully, there were some other ballhawks at the front of the line, so I not so discreetly slipped into line with them. We all talked for the ten to fifteen minutes I was in line, and I actually found out, when I said I was going to the University of Minnesota, that one of them was originally from Minnesota; more specifically, a suburb of the Twin Cities by the name of Apple Valley. It was great that I had people I could stand in line with. However, when it came to the gates opening, two of the other ballhawks had announced they were going to right field. Therefore, I decided to try my chances in left field. In all likelihood, this cost me a ball. I remember one of the ballhawks named George coming over to left field after a few minutes and saying, “Yeah, there were only a few balls hit over there.” To this I responded, “There haven’t been ANY over here yet.” Whatever, all I needed was two baseballs and I was set for the game. I was currently sitting on baseball #298, and I really wanted to get #300 on what would have been my deceased dad’s 70th birthday.

This was my view of the field from my spot in left field:

It was pretty evident early on the pitchers in this part of the ballpark weren’t going to be throwing up many balls. Myself and George were yelling out their names, but they kept throwing balls into the infield ballboy (who was the one I went to high school with).

Just soon after that, a ball got hit to my right, and…well I’ll just diagram what happened in this picture:

The dotted lines are the path the ball took in the air and then when it hit the ground, the solid line emanating from the bottom of the screen is my path to the ball, and the other solid guy coming from the guy in the Yankee jacket (which I also own) is his path as he was really the only one competing with me for the ball. As I ran after the ball, it bounced off the concrete and thankfully didn’t bounce away, so I picked it up before that guy got to the ball.

Then Andruw Jones stepped up to the plate. H hit a ball so far to my left, I was considering not even chasing it because I thought it would go into the visitors’ bullpen. For some reason, though, I went half way through my row in semi-pursuit. I’m guessing my thought was it might bounce off the bleachers and come back to me. The ball narrowly missed both of those and went into the tunnel right next to the bullpen and cutting into the bleachers. I ran in after the ball and retrieved number 300. SUCCESS:

I didn’t really celebrate; instead I asked the kid who called me a “son of a…” were his glove was, making sure to say I might have given him a ball if he had a glove on. Of course I wouldn’t have given him #300, but I might have pulled out the previous ball. I’m not really strict about giving balls to kids with gloves, but the older the person, the more they need a glove, in my mind, before I give them a ball.

After this, I lined up in foul territory behind the Indians pitchers and position players:

Remember how the previous day I was having trouble getting players to toss me a ball because I only had an Indians hat? I came up with a little solution to that:

I printed out the Indians logo and simply taped it to my shirt, so it would kind of look like I had Indians stuff on. Right then, I got to see it work for the first time:

The player I have pointed out with my arrow threw me a ball right as he left the field. Anyone have an idea who he is. He’s probably a position player, if that helps at all.

After that, I went over to try to get a ball from one of the pitchers. While I was walking over there, Zack Hample was already calling out to the pitching coach, Scott Ridinsky, telling him, “Scott, show me the gun!” Ridinsky then threw a ball clear over his head, and I was in just the right row that I was able to jog to the right spot and make the catch. Sorry, Zack. Zack then looked back at Ridinsky with a look as if to say, “What happened?” Ridinsky then pointed as his arm as if to say, “I guess it’s too strong.”

I then messed around trying to get Chris Perez to toss me a ball with the University of Miami shirt I had on, but when I gave up trying this, I moved over to the right field seats (because the left field side was checking tickets), where I caught a home run off the bat of Travis Hafner. I then went to the left field bleachers where I got Chris Perez to toss me a ball. Both balls are pictured in the next picture:

The smaller arrows show what happened on the first ball, and the larger arrows show what happened on the second:

1. Travis Hafner hit a ball to my right, so I moved over and even though I thought the ball was clearly going over my head, I took a little jump and amazingly the ball was in my glove when I came back down. I then looked back to see I had robbed Zack of a ball a second time. Don’t worry for him, though. He still managed to set the Yankee Stadium record this game. The thing that stunk about this ball for me was there was an Indians player on the field who had told me he would throw me the next ball he got, but just as he fielded this ball, I caught the Hafner home run, so he didn’t throw me the ball. Had that ball been hit two seconds later, I would have had two balls from the right field seats.

2. Soon after the Hafner ball, security cleared out everyone in the right field seats who didn’t have a ticket, so I went up to my ticketed section in the left field bleachers. After I got there, a ball got hit to Chris Perez, who is one of the friendliest players in the league, so I called out to him, he turned around, and threw me the ball. Pretty simple, right? I then gave that ball away to the kid in the “Ruth” t-shirt in the next picture:

I spent most of the rest of my time in the bleachers trying to get an overthrow from another Perez toss-up, since he was tossing so many balls up.

That would be it for batting practice. After batting practice, I would first try to get  a ball from the groundskeeper in the visitors’ bullpen:

After that failed I went up to the top of the batter’s eye, where this was my view:

Why? Do you see the guy wit the arrow pointing at him? That would be Yankees bullpen coach, Mike Harkey. After the day’s starter has finished warming up, he usually tosses around five balls into the stands. I obviously had a ticket in the left field bleachers, so this was as close as I could get. When he looked my way, I waved my arms like crazy, so he tossed the ball my way. Here is the ball:

Why do I have that usher in the picture? I told him beforehand I was trying to get a ball from Harkey, so when Harkey threw the ball up to me, it was drifting to my right and this guy caught it and then handed it to me. So yeah, technically I didn’t get the ball from Harkey, but I would have caught the ball had this guy not been there. Just then I realized I had set my record for most ball in a game when Yankee Stadium had cleared both sides of the outfield seats before batting practice had ended. Not a bad way to celebrate June 26th at all.

As for the game, this was my view:

You see the player in the lower right picture? That would be Dewayne Wise. He made a very controversial catch in this game, so I feel almost obligated to mention I was at this game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the link. Other than that, Phil Hughes pitched an incredible game, going, I believe, eight scoreless innings before the Yankees bullpen nearly gave the game back. The final score was 6-4. Oh and want to see what my “Indians” shirt looked like after the game?

I just wanted to share one more picture from the game:

The special thing about this picture is Justin Masterson was at 100 inning pitched on the season. This may seem uneventful, but how many people actually reach 100 innings in a season before the All-Star break? I mean you can count out all relievers. To make it even more unusual, he had two outs in the inning, so I really only had a few seconds to realize it. Also, I think it’s pretty special that we both passed milestones this game. Masterson with his 100th inning and myself with my 300th ball. I don’t know, maybe i’m trying to manufacture something, but I love it when numbers match up like that.

Speaking of which…

STATS:

  • 7 Balls at this Game (6 pictured because I gave 1 away)

numbers 299-305 for my life:

  • 83 Balls in 17 Games= 4.88 Balls Per Game
  • 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 7 Balls x 43,006 Fans= 301,042 Competition Factor
  • 61 Balls in 17 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.59 Balls Per Game
  • 17 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • Time Spent On Game 4:13- 10:17= 6 Hours 4 Minutes

6/25/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

When I left my apartment, it just started raining. When I got to the ballpark, it wasn’t, but the line was already somewhat long:

20120625-212712.jpg

What was the net result of my weather situation? This:

20120625-213235.jpg
Bleh. It looked like getting number 300 would be a challenge today. I was currently at 296, but getting four baseballs at Yankee Stadium without batting practice isn’t that easy. Heck, getting four while there IS batting practice is no cake walk either.

See those two players warming up? That was Cody Eppley and Dave Robertson. Naturally, I moved over to try to get a ball from them. I didn’t. However, while I was waiting for them to finish up their throwing, an usher with a Yankee hat was walking through the Legends seats with a ball. I asked him for it, and he let me have it:

20120625-215250.jpg

After that, I moved over to the other side of the stadium to the Cleveland Indians pitchers warming up. Every time they threw it to someone else. I think I probably would have had a couple toss-ups, had I actually brought an Indians shirt, but all I had was an Indians batting practice- not really decipherable from 100ft away- and a generic red shirt. A fan I had seen at prior games, whose name I discovered this game was Eddy, had full Indians stuff, so he got four balls from the Indians.

After all the Indians pitchers left the field, Eddy and I sat down behind the visitors dugout and talked while we waited for some sign of movement out of the dugout for another chance at a few baseballs. We discussed a variety of things baseball, ranging from reckless aggressiveness in the stands to how we got started catching baseballs. While this was going on, I noticed there was an unusual amount of notable media members.  I guess this is pretty random, but I saw: Tim Kurkjian, Keith Olbermann, and Harold Reynolds all down by the dugout. It would be one thing if they were all from the same network, but those were three members of the media coming for (presumably) three different reasons. Reynolds was the only one who had cameras following him, so I assume he was doing something for MLB Network. Kurkjian was almost definitely there because this game was on Monday Night Baseball. As for Olbermann, he’s just a baseball fan, or nerd as he describes himself. When he was between networks last year, he went to a New York baseball game almost every night despite the fact that he was on crutches. I’m guessing that was the case here. He actually struck up a pretty long conversation with Manny Acta that lasted as long as my conversation with Eddy.

My conversation with Eddy was broken up when an usher came down and asked for our tickets. We then went our separate ways. I stupidly didn’t get a picture of him or of both of us, but he’s at most games, so I’m sure I’ll get a picture sometime. Anyway, he went to his seat in the lower level right field seats, and I went to my seat in the left field bleachers (for those who don’t know, the bleachers are the section right above the lower outfield seats, but cost 10-15 times less than those seats, given the day.

Once I got up to my seats, I watched the day’s starter, Josh Tomlin, warm up. While he was warming up, a ball dropped in the mud and the pitching coach (who was in the bullpen to watch Tomlin warm up as all pitching coaches do) picked it up and tossed it up to me after I asked him for the ball. He then moved out of the frame just as I took this picture:

Do you notice how dirty looking the ball is? Actually, that’s not the dirtiest part of the ball. I took off my glove and turned the ball around for this picture to show the even dirtier side of the ball, which is still like that as I type this sentence:

Now I can say I have a mud sample from the Yankee Stadium bullpen. A shallow victory, yes; but a victory nonetheless.

That was it for snagging. My seat was soaked from the rain, but I reluctantly sat down for the rest of the night as I watched the Yankees cream the Indians behind stellar pitching and hitting performances of Hiroki Kuroda and Robinson Cano, respectively.

Another thing of note in this game is that in one of the later innings, Nick Swisher started off the inning with a sliding catch. Even if you aren’t from New York, you may know that Nick Swisher is absolutely adored by Yankee fans to begin with. Whenever he makes a sliding/diving catch, there’s a pretty big cheer. After that sliding catch, he went onto make the next two catches in the inning, the latter of which ended with him in a very awkward position. The place went nuts for that. If that weren’t enough, he was leading off the inning immediately after those three catches. You can imagine he got a pretty big ovation.

Oh, and for the record, this was my view the whole game:

After the game, I tried to get bullpen coach, Dave Miller, to toss me a ball, but he didn’t even look up when I yelled his name. I tried throughout the game to get a ball from both of the Indian’s two bullpen catchers, whose first names I only know: Francisco and Armando. However, even though they looked my direction, I think there was the same problem of them not being able to see my Indians hat’s logo.

STATS:

  • 2 Balls at this Game

numbers 297-298 for my career:

  • 76 Balls in 16 Games this season= 4.75 Balls Per Game
  • 25 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 2 Balls x 42,290 Fans= 84,580 Competition Factor
  • 54 Balls in 16 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.38 Balls Per Game
  • 16 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
  • Time Spent On Game 4:10- 10:22= 6 hours 12 Minutes

6/19/12 Braves at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Question: What do you do when you have a baseball awards dinner in the Bronx and a ticket to the Orioles-Mets game?

Answer: You sell the Mets ticket on stubhub and buy a ticket to the Yankee game.

Also, look at the crew who assembled outside the gate:

20120620-132120.jpg

From left to right, that would be:

1. Myself
2.Greg Barasch– Frequent catch partner and fellow ballhawk.
3. Zack Hample– Oh, you know, just your average guy who’s caught more than 6,000 major league baseballs.
4. Matt Latimer– An MLB.com reporter, who was going to cover Zack during B.P. for a story.
5. Ross Finkelstein– Another fellow ballhawk, who I occasionally run into at games. This may be the first time we’ve gone to the same Yankee, though. Whatever, I’m too lazy to look it up.

Also at the gate, was this sign on a barricade:

20120620-135146.jpg
All of us pretty much made fun of all the ridiculous things on there, but after the fact, I thought, “You know what that’s actually not a bad idea to have all the prohibited stuff on a sign. It’s way better than playing that along with a song on a continuous loop 30 minutes before the gates open.” Are you listening, Mets?

Since there were so many of us, we actually spoke about who was going where during batting practice, as to divvy up the sections between us. I opted to go to left field. It would have been a great choice had a) the Yankees hit one ball into those seats during their portion of B.P. or b) Cody Eppley actually acknowledged any one over the age of 5.

Then, when most of the ballhawks came over to right field, here were the views to my left and to my right:

20120620-140945.jpg

20120620-141415.jpg

Yes, there were a bunch of empty seats, but how the people were configured,the furthest I could run for a ball was 10 feet, so the ball would essentially have to be hit *right* at me. As for getting a Brave to toss me a ball, forget about it. There were tons of people in Braves gear and most were in the front row.

The closest I came to getting a ball was one hit directly over my head. I moved as close as I could to the landing spot, turned around and jumped, but it sailed what must have been a few inches into another guy’s glove.

Soon after this, I decided it was better to go back over to left field and deal with the other ballhawks than to deal with that mess of a section.

There it was emptier, but it started off with the same frustration. NOTHING was coming even close to me. Then it evolved into a different kind of frustration. A Braves hitter hit a ground-rule double. I lined myself up with the ball, and it was coming right towards my glove… until a hand in front of me deflected it over my right shoulder. Words cannot described how frustrated/nervous I was at this point. My goal is to get to 100 consecutive games with at least 1 ball. After that, the plan is I go to whatever games I please, regardless of whether I can make batting practice.

Throughout nearly all of Braves B.P., I was thinking about how much longer it would take me of I got shutout this game. I wasn’t as worried as I was in right field, though. Left field was much less congested, and I could actually run around for a ball that was hit. Here are the views to my right and my left:

20120621-001243.jpg

20120621-001323.jpg

I didn’t feel confident, however, in my ability to get a Braves player to throw me a ball. Ironically, this is how my only ball of the day would come.

When I got to left field, I ran into Mark McConville, who had just arrived with, I believe, a few of his co-workers. He obviously didn’t have a ball yet either, so we were both pretty desperate. Actually, on that ball I missed that I mentioned earlier, Mark also almost came up with it, but another fan beat him to the ball.

Anyway, Mark and I had been giving Craig Kimbrel an earful for quite a few minutes. Finally, Kimbrel turned around and lofted a ball right at Mark, but those pesky hands are always up at Yankee Stadium. Even though the ball was very clearly intended for Mark, a hand deflected the ball. The deflection sent the ball right towards my stomach, and almost as if I had Alien Hand Syndrome, I grabbed the ball with my bare hand right before it had a chance to hit the seat in front of me. Here is the ball with Kimbrel and Chad Gaudin in the background:

20120621-004617.jpg

I then (deservedly) got a few lines (delivered jokingly) along the general lines of: “You’re killin’ me, Mateo.” from Mark. As relieved as I was to not get shutout, I felt really bad for him, since I was in a similar situation just moments earlier.

Then batting practice ended, and I spent a few minutes seeing Zack sign a couple of baseballs:

20120621-005123.jpg
as I talked with the reporter, Matt, and gave him all my contact information for… well who knows what it could turn into.

Then I conceded to the fact I that I had to go to the awards dinner I mentioned earlier.

It was my first game ever leaving right after batting practice, and I must say, I thought it would feel weirder than it did to be leaving as everyone else was entering the stadium:

20120621-005712.jpg
I guess I’m already accustomed to the notion from reading it on other ballhawks’ blog entries.

As for the dinner, I received this even though I have never played an inning of baseball for Fordham Prep:

20120621-005915.jpg

    Stats:

;


• 1 Ball at this game

20120621-010349.jpg
Number 269 for my life:

20120621-010424.jpg
• 46 Balls in 11 Games= 4,18 Balls Per Game
• 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 1 Ball x 41,219 Fans= 41,219 Competition Factor
• 53 Balls in 15 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.53 Balls Per Game
• 15 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1Ball
• Time at Game 4:26-6:17= 1 Hour 51 Minute