This game did not start well for me. Because I was writing an entry and it took me longer than I thought, I arrived at the gate at 4:50. And having not yet bought my ticket, I had to do that and wasn’t able to talk to people much before the gates opened. So while we had talked about it the previous day and I thought I was going to be the only one going to right field when the gates opened, Tim Anderson had changed his mind overnight and ran that way ahead of me. There he caught one Chris Davis home run on the fly and got another that bounced a couple of times in the seats. He then headed over to left, but I was more stubborn and waited an extra five minutes before conceding that doing the same was the better option.
Once there, I had a couple more close calls. The first was a ball Alex Kopp caught on the fly, but his elbow then hit me on the way down and dislodged the ball. I then saw it on the ground and reached for it, but a railing was in my way, and so I wasn’t able to reach out all the way. The next was a ball that bounced in on the first row portion of a staircase, bounced up–nearly taking my and Tim’s heads in the process–and then a guy came out of nowhere to barely beat me to the ball.
So with all of those initial missed opportunities, my first ball of the day came from J.J. Hardy:
I ran a section to my right when I saw the ball get hit, but the kid in the Davis jersey–who was two rows in front of me at the time–seemed like he had the ball. But then I saw the ball hit his glove and go past it, so while there was a railing separating me from the ball, I used it as a fulcrum and just leaned so much that my feet were up in the air, and grabbed the ball out of a seat.
Then, when I saw a ball roll to the corner of the outfield wall by the foul pole, I went over there knowing a player would eventually have to pick it. And so when Chris Tillman walked over, I asked him if he could toss me the ball. As he was walking away with the ball, he turned around and intentionally threw the ball again the foul pole (so it would bounce back to him) but then smiled and actually tossed me the ball:
My next two baseballs came as a result of Danny Valencia. We have known Valencia to hit the ball deep. I mean he regularly hits the back of the visiting bullpen at OPACY and spots in the left field almost just as deep. So all of us backed up whenever Valencia was up and moved up for the other hitters in his group. My spot for Valencia happened to be behind and to the left of my spot for the other hitters, so as I realized he was up, I first went up, and then began going left. And just as I entered the row, Valencia bombed a ball, so I I moved a little more left and judged the ball. I figured if the ball was going over my head or falling short, my only chance would be to jump rows. But thankfully I picked the right row and the ball came right to me. As the other ballhawks put it after BP, it seemed as though I had “teleported” to make the catch:
My next ball wen to the right of my Valencia, and I ran for the ball, picked it up after it hit, and gave it to a guy who was running so fast after it that his sunglasses fell off going down for the ball:
(That’s the guy holding up the ball. If you can see the kid in Rays gear, that’s his son. I learned from him when I went into foul ground to get a toss-up from Rays players that they were from Green Bay, but since the dad was in town for work, it made complete sense for the kid–whose favorite player of all-time is Evan Longoria–to come down with him.)
Speaking of foul territory, that’s where I got my next ball from Desmond Jennings:
(Jennings was in the dugout by the time I could take a picture of the ball, but that’s where he tossed me my fifth ball of the day from.) A cool thing happened after that in that the kid I mentioned to parenthetical groupings ago got a ball from Evan Longoria, and I got to see his face absolutely light up, since–like I mentioned in the aforementioned parenthetical grouping–Longoria was his favorite player who had also signed his jersey for him the previous day. I’d call that a successful 1,500-mile trip.
My next ball came when I went to the right-center field seats. Matt Moore fielded a ball just past the warning track and tossed it to a kid, but tossed it a little too short, and so it landed here:
So I pulled out the cup trick I had made with Greg Barasch during my most recent New York trip (which I may do an entry about after the 8/21/13 entry) and got the ball otu of the gap, which I then gave to the sister of the kid Moore had thrown the ball to.
Moore then tossed the next ball he got to this kid, but this one sailed over the kid’s head. So I ran over, picked up the ball, and gave it to him:
Having given now two kids in the family baseballs, his parents then thanked me a bunch of time and told me there was a ball I could use my cup trick on in the batter’s eye. I thanked them for giving me the tip but I told them that we’re not allowed to use it over there.
I waited in the next staircase for about three minutes, but then I started up the stairs to go to the flag court. But when I saw a ball roll to the wall at the bottom I headed back down. Matt Moore got the ball, and started scanning the crowd as if he was looking for someone in particular to toss the ball to. And when I got to the bottom of the staircase, I found out that he was indeed: Me! He tossed me the ball and said, “I saw you give that kid the ball earlier.”
I have no clue why he was wearing a catcher’s glove (maybe it had to do with the fact that he’s on the DL) but trust me that it was indeed Moore. And yes, for those of you keeping score at home, that was my third ball that came as a result of a Matt Moore throw. (I think we can excuse him since he is indeed on the DL.) As well as my eighth ball of the day overall. It was after this that I did indeed go up to the flag court.
Now usually, going up to the flag court is a waste of time snagging-wise for me because I am usually the least skilled of the ballhawks up there and end up getting a ball snatched by another ballhawk when I’m mere inches from it. But on this occasion, it was only myself and Alex up there, so with me having positioning to his left, I was in front of him on a ball that was hit just to the right of the right field foul pole–by who I’m pretty was Luke Scott, since I don’t know anyone else on the rays with a Wolverine-style beard. It hit in the seats right by two people who had no clue what was going on. The girl then slowly got up and turned around to pick up the ball, but just as she was doing that, I was down on the cross-aisle watching the ball bounce down the steps. And just as she looked down and realized what was happening, I reached through the railing and grabbed the ball:
But then I realized that this would have almost undoubtedly have been their ball had I not been there, so I reached up through the railing to give her the ball. And it was a great decision because in walking back onto the flag court, three different ushers congratulated me on giving her the ball. If there’s ever an option between being like by ushers and not being liked by them, I’ll choose being liked. While I realize probably as well as anyone that there are different breeds of ushers/”hospitality attendants/”security officers” (yeah, that’s the official title for those people at Yankee Stadium; I asked one of them) this was a great way to take out three birds with one stone. Unfortunately, though, as it looked very feasible for me to break my all-time record, the Rays ended BP about 20 minutes earlier than the visiting team normally does (which would sadly be one-upped the next day’s BP) and so this was my last ball of BP. Alex and I then headed over to the Orioles bullpen where we met up with Grant Edrington.
There I informed Alex that Rick Adair, who reportedly used to dislike him, but has since grown fond of him because he has seen him give away a ton of baseballs to kids, had taken a leave of absence starting with the Rockies series and that Scott McGregor would instead be clearing the baseballs out of the bullpen. There were three baseballs, and just as Alex predicted, one went to a kid at the corner of the bullpen, one went to Grant, and one went to the middle. The latter was meant for me, since it was right to me, but Alex should have definitely robbed me since he was a row above me. But he was too nice to, so I got the ball and gave it to a kid in front of me:
And with that, I reached double digits for I believe only the fifth time ever and the third time this year. I could’ve maybe played the dugout and tried to beat my record of 11 balls in a game, but in addition to tying my single-game record, my next baseball would also be the 100th of my career at OPACY, so I thought it’d be cool if it came as a game home run.
I didn’t get a baseball for the rest of the game, but later on in the game, a fan recognized Alex from the video where he caught Chris Davis’ 100th career home run, so Alex gave this young fan one of his baseballs:
Because I guess that’s what nice famous people do to people who recognize. (You can also see in that picture that Tim was completely touched and captured by the moment.)
- 10 Balls at this Game (5 pictured because I gave the other half away)
Numbers 665-674 for my “career”:
- 227 Balls in 51 Games= 4.45 Balls Per Game
- 10 Balls x 26,158 Fans=261,580 Competition Factor
- 113 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 18 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 15 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 7 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 99 Balls in 22 Games at OPACY= 4.5 Balls Per Game
- 22 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
- 12 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
- 10 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
- 8 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at OPACY
- Time Spent On Game 4:40-10:54= 6 Hours 14 Minutes
It was my second of what would be five games this week, and my highest ball total of any of them. As many or more than any three of the other four games combined. So let’s get started. Here was my view of the field for most of the game:
To the left is a ballhawk named Dylan, and to the right is my–well I guess at this point former–next-door neighbor, Greg Barasch. Where I was standing usually wouldn’t be a good spot to stand at all, but this was the view of the spot staircase to my right:
That wasn’t more congested at the moment, but I knew that that staircase is the first one to get clogged up with people and that I was best securing my spot on this staircase. I could have gone to the front spot of the staircase to my left:
But Ben Weil–in the orange shirt–was in that spot., and playing behind that spot is essentially worthless because it’s already a shot just to get it there. My first ball of the day, though came from about the spot where the person is leaning over the railing in that last picture. A ball got hit onto the party deck and so I headed over there and asked the employee down there if he could toss me the ball, which he did:
Next up for me was heading out to right field. There I managed to get Collin McHugh to toss me a ball by actually asking nicely:
As opposed to everyone else who was just shouting, “HERE!!!”
So since I had gotten baseballs from both left and right field, I headed out to center field to keep the symmetry. In center I got Greg Burke to toss me a ball that almost made me fall into the gap in front of the wall:
He then congratulated me on making the catch, and I headed back to my spot in left field. By this time Dylan had roamed closer to Ben. So when Greg moved out of his spot to maybe try to get a toss-up by the staircase to our right, it was a no-brainer to move up to his spot if only momentarily. A moment was all I needed. As he got to the other staircase, a Reds righty we later figured out was Zack Cozart hit a ball to the section right between us two. I tracked the ball all the way off the bat an had it lined up perfectly. The only question was—since Greg had gone in the row below me and was also running at the ball—was if Greg could catch up to the ball before it landed in my glove. It was close. Let me put I this way: I didn’t even know I had the ball until I looked in my glove. That’s because Greg and another person blocked my view of the field right as the ball entered my glove. I want to say that Greg and the other person collided, but all was good in the end. I just know that way too many people congratulated me for what was not really an amazing catch.
A good amount of time passed between this and my next snag, which was a toss-up from a player I believe was Sam Le Cure:
Ben thought it was Bill Bray until I told him that Bill Bray wasn’t on the Reds roster anymore. There was one guy in right field who I thought also might be LeCure, though, so I don’t know for sure. That said, I’m pretty sure the guy I got the ball from was LeCure, and the ball was my first of the day. Speaking of that guy, here he is:
The reason I show him is he was getting so bombarded by requests from kids asking for a baseball–while he was almost 100 feet from them–that he actually had to tell them to calm down with requests. Here are the kids below me, who–and I’m not using hyperbole here–were yelling every time he got the ball, even when he had to run towards the outfield to get the ball:
I figured he wasn’t going to toss a ball in my general direction any time soon, so I headed to the second deck in left field once Brandon Phillips’ group came up to hit. I would have gone to the lower level, but it looked packed and I knew Phillips had the potential to hit several up there:
Unfortunately he hit a couple deepish into the lower level, but none got up to me. That would be it fro BP. (Get it? It has dual meaning in that case.) After batting practice there were no kids with gloves that I hadn’t already seen get a ball, but I wanted to give a ball away, so I gave a ball away to two ushers instructing them to give the ball away to the next kid *with a glove* that passed through into their section/by them.
For the game I stayed in left field:
I spent most of the game talking to Dylan and a man by the name of Brian who I just engaged me early on in the game and spent the rest of the game just talking in general. Both of us agreed that our game together was one of the reasons going to the ballpark is such a special experience. You can just go, enjoy a game, and spend the game talking to a stranger about a common interest that is baseball. It was a light in a game at quite possibly my least favorite ballpark that I have been to in the major leagues.
For the end of the game I headed down to the umpire tunnel (abiding by the rules of the stadium, I may add. I did indeed have a ticket for the section the umpire tunnel is in.) to try to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, and I did by yelling out to him before he could get off the field. See at Citi Field, there’s a wheelchair section to the umpire’s right when he walks into the tunnel, so if a kid is in that section, the umpire is almost always going to give him a ball there. This can be good because it stops the umpire for long enough for him to hear a ballhawk calling him by his actual name, but if there is a string of kids that gathers around him at this point, the umpire ball is pretty much lost, so the best way to get a ball from the umpire at Citi Field, if you have the room to do so, is to call out to the umpire before he gets off the field itself, and then if he can’t hear you keep following him with the same request until the corner spot of the tunnel. Unfortunately there is usually someone in the corner spot for the tunnel if you abandon it, and even if there isn’t the security people at the umpire tunnel especially have some sort of enmity towards ballhawks, so they have told myself and others that we aren’t allowed alongside the tunnel’s glass railing, but when other people do the same, they’re allowed. The most important thing about umpire balls, though, is the sooner you can get it before other people can talk to him, the better. It also helps to be standing alone. You don’t want to be amongst a crowd of kids if you’re not a kid yourself, because while the umpire might hear you, he might toss the ball to a kid next to you anyway if he doesn’t deem you “fit” to get a ball over the kid. Anyway, that has been today’s lesson on Citi Field umpire balls.
After that I didn’t get a ball from the Reds bullpen people, and I met up with Ben and Greg at the dugout. The three of us walked to the subway together and were going to take it together, but Ben realized he had to take the local and we the express. He normally drives to the games, but as he was pulling out of his driveway or wherever he parks, he realized he had a flat tire, so he got in a cab and got to the gate less than ten minutes before it opened. On a semi-related note, batting practice had tired him out, so he was going to leave in about the third inning, but he got stuck for four plus innings filling out all-star ballots, so he figured he would stay for the umpire ball. Regardless, where I’m going with this is that Ben had to take the train and it was a different train than ours, so he said goodbye and walked away from us:
As he was walking away, he turned back to wave a second joke goodbye, and as he was doing this, a friend of his snuck-up from behind him and tackled/hugged him. I’m sorry the lead up was so long for not that good of a story, and I realize this is the end of the entry so you just want to be done reading, so here’s the picture I thought it was kind of cool that I got:
I then boarded my train with Greg and spent the night at his place. Most of said night was spent getting barked at by one of his dogs that thought I was an intruder and an obscene amount of surfing mygameballs.com looking up ours and other people’s games/commenting on them (If that doesn’t automatically hyperlink, you can either copy and paste, or the website is this blog’s sidebar over to the right.)
- 6 Balls at this Game (4 pictured because I gave 2 away)
- 75 Balls in 16 Games= 4.69 Balls Per Game
- 6 Balls x 23,183 Fans= 139,098 Competition Factor
- 78 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 5 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 95 Balls in 35 Games at Citi Field= 2.71 Balls Per Game
- 35 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
- 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Citi Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:37-11:00= 7 Hours 23 Minutes
First of all, here is a Before The Gates Open video detailing my journey to and subsequent time at Citi Field’s Jackie Robinson Rotunda:
Oh, how there are some things that I did not miss at all about New York:
At the top of my baseball portion of this list was probably Citi Field. That said, I planned to attend five games there this week starting with this game. Why would I put myself through this madness? I was at 86 career baseballs snagged at Citi Field and wanted to get to 100 baseballs there so I would never have feel the obligation to go to Citi Field ever again. That way if I ever returned to Citi Field, it would more-or-less be on my own terms and not because I felt obligated to go there. So let’s get right into the entry, shall we?
For the first few groups of BP, I stood out here:
If you can’t tell, the guy in the white shirt and blue hat is Zack Hample. Normally I would like to be on the staircase he is on in that picture, but he took that spot, and to stand behind him is just asking to get robbed. Plus it wouldn’t make sense to bunch up if we had space to spread out. However, the reason I took this picture is Zack somehow managed to rob me from there. More specifically, I managed to absolutely botch a ball. As I explained in a Before The Gates Open video–which I’ll put up on this entry later on next week when I have access to the footage and time to edit it. (I’ll announce when I’ve put it up on Twitter)–this was my first time bringing my 14-or-so-inch lefty glove to a game, so by the time the the gates opened, it was still a little new to me. Anyway, I got Tom Goodwin to toss me a ball, but I somehow had the ball tip off the top of my glove and into the seats behind me. I ran back to where the ball landed, but it wasn’t there. Just then I saw Zack running in my peripheral vision and a ball hit in the seats all at the same time. What had happened was the ball had bounced off a seat and fallen a couple of rows down, where I couldn’t see it but Zack could. He ran over to pick it up and while he was over on my side of the section, a Mets righty hit a ball right next to him, which he also picked up. So had I not completely botched the ball, I probably would have had two quick baseballs. Those would be the only two baseballs I would see anywhere near me in left field. Although, those were Zack’s first two baseballs of the game, and this was the 900th consecutive game in a row that he had snagged a baseball at. So I can kind of say that I was responsible for a 900 games in a row with at least 1 ball.
Center field, though, was another story. I decided at the beginning of a new BP group that I would head over there and try my luck with getting toss-ups. I quickly got Dillon Gee to toss me my first ball of the day:
I then headed back to left field for the beginning of Reds BP. This time on the other side of Zack:
(I realize this picture is during Mets BP, but you get the picture–literally–here.) But when I realized most of the Reds power hitters were lefties and Mat Latos was not going to toss anything up any time soon, I headed back out to the center field.
In center field I moved down to the corner spot at the bottom left of the section (bottom right if you’re looking at it from home plate). And while I was trying to get a ball from whoever the player was ( I remember he was a 6-foot-6 lefty or something like that, but I don’t feel like looking up the actual name of the player.) I heard the people next to me moving around and the player look up in the sky. As it was already on its descent, I looked up and saw the ball everyone was looking at, and saw that it was coming essentially right at me. I then quickly got my glove up, hopped a bit, and caught the ball:
I found out later from the people behind me that it was Jay Bruce who hit the ball. This was nice in that it had a redemptive quality to it for messing up the easy Goodwin catch. It also assured me that there was indeed hope for this giant lefty glove. However, I must say that two annoying things about the glove are when I have to label the baseball, because I still do write right-handed, and when I’m taking a picture of the baseball, because I still feel the need to have the ball on the left side of the frame and that requires that I cross my arms while taking the picture.
Anyway, this ball would be my last of batting practice. Since the Reds good hitters are pretty much–besides Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier–are left-handed, I headed up to a place I hadn’t been in a while, the Pepsi Porch in right field:
Here’s the view of the field from where I was standing:
And now of the scoreboard:
The reason I took so many pictures from up there that didn’t really have to do with ballhawking is that I didn’t know when the next time I was going to be on the Pepsi Porch was. Maybe never. Like I said, I hadn’t been up there in a long time. And there’s a reason for that. To get up onto the Pepsi Porch, you have to go into foul ground, take and escalator up two or three stories, go across a bridge, go down some steps, and then you’re at the *back* of the section. Simply put: you better have a very good reason to go up there if you’re wasting that much time in just getting there.
After batting practice I headed down to the Reds dugout to try to get a ball from the person packing up the BP balls up, but the funniest thing happened. Instead of heading into the dugout when he pack the baseballs up, he went into the area right behind home plate and dumped the whole bag of baseballs on him:
I don’t know the exact story, but that guy in the stands managed to snag I’d say between 10 and 15 baseballs in the span of a second. It was something pretty ridiculous that I’ve never seen before.
As for the rest of the game, I snagged a ball after the game at the umpire’s tunnel which I then gave away to a Vietnam Veteran I saw with a glove, but that wasn’t the story of the game. All of us ballhawk-type people met up at the dugout after the game, and posed with the prize of the game:
Left to right that would be:
4. Aaron (Who also goes by the nickname Howie)
And sorry for the picture being out of focus. Whoever took the picture didn’t understand that the iPhone needs a second to focus the picture. But anyway, what we are all pointing to is the Marlon Byrd home run Mark had snagged earlier in the game. Mark has snagged one more home run than I have (so two). And both have come when I was in attendance and the ball got pulled to a section in left field. I’d say it is one or two sections from the foul pole. Congratulations, Mark, on that. Both were nice plays. The only negative thing about the home run is that had Mark snagged one more ball in BP, the home run would have been his 100th ball snagged ever. I think he’ll take the home run snag, though. Although, it is a personal observation of mine that one’s 100th ball likes to be the first ball of a game. Myself and a bunch of other ballhawks it seems leave a game stuck on 99 baseballs and can’t get that 100th ball until the next game.
Our family had just moved to Washington–I stayed for an extra week to say goodbye to people in New York–so I headed back on the train with Zack to sleep one last night in a pretty vacant apartment with my step-brother who had a flight that he had to leave for at 3 o’clock in the morning. Suffice to say I didn’t get much sleep in preparation for the game the following day.
- 3 Balls at this Game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)
- 69 Balls in 15 Games= 4.60 Balls Per Game
- 3 Balls x 23,038 Fans= 69,114 Competition Factor
- 77 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 4 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 89 Balls in 34 Games at Citi Field= 2.62 Balls Per Game
- 34 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:13-12:02= 8 Hours 49 Minutes
After a series of waiting endlessly for David Wright’s 200th home run, it was time to go back to Nationals Park for my fourth game there in as many days:
Usually I’m not that excited of attending four games in a row at ANY stadium, but I had come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be getting a ball tossed to me by the Nationals (intentionally, anyway) anytime soon, so I was excited for the arrival of the not-offensively-anemic Braves, who also didn’t know me.
My first ball of the day came when Gio Gonzalez hit a ball to my right. I chased after it, but someone else managed to pick it up before I could get there. He then hit a ball back to where I had previously been standing. Thankfully, no one judged it correctly, and I was able to run right to the spot and gobble it up :
After the pitchers- all of whom are righties- stopped hitting, I headed over to the right field seats for Bryce Harper’s group. I still haven’t seen one of Harper’s legendary batting practices, but I did manage to snag a ball from his bat.
I was on the middle staircase of the right field seats when Harper launched a ball to the section closest to center field. I saw this right away and raced there to scoop up the ball before anyone else could:
The group then changed again and I headed over to the Red Seats for the group of Morse, Zimmerman, and Werth. During that group, I caught three balls on the fly.
The first was an extremely easy catch right smack-dab in the middle of the section where I had been standing:
Speaking of Shea Stadium commemorative balls off the bat of Jayson Werth, that’s what my next (and fifth) ball of the day was. I won’t bore you with another picture of the ball in my glove, but the ball was traveling to my left, so I ran in this row and made the forehand catch over a row of seats:
My next ball came when Ryan Zimmerman hit a high fly ball to my right. I ran as far as I could, reach over the glass that separates the Red Seats and the bullpen, and made the grab:
It felt pretty awesome in that the ball would have fallen into the bullpen had it not been for me; kind of like a home run rob. For those of you keeping score at home, that was my fifth snag of the day; all of which were hit, Shea Stadium commemorative balls.
Soon after that, the Braves started throwing, so even though the Nationals were still hitting, I headed into foul ground to try to get a ball from one of them. After waiting for a while, I finally got a ball from Erik Hinske:
Do you see the coach crossing the field in the left part of the picture? That’s where Hinske was. He tossed the ball to me while I was right behind the wheelchair section. Unfortunately, he tossed it over my head, so it rattled around in the seats before I could secure ball #6 and thank Hinske.
I then headed over to right field for a group stacked with the Braves’ lefties. Ironically, though, my only ball from this group came when Dan Uggla hit an opposite-field home run and I played the ball off a deflection:
The right field seats were getting pretty crowded at this point, so I headed back over to the Red Seats. I didn’t snag a hit ball, but a fan dropped a ball into the gap, so I knew it was time to deploy the Glove Trick. However, as I lowered it down, a member of the groundscrew walked through the gap and inserted the ball in my glove. I had already promised the people next to me I would give the ball away to the kid who it was intended for, so I did when I reeled it up:
Okay, you’ve got three planes at work here. We’ll start closest and move back:
1. The Glove Trick- Complete with rubber band and pen to hold it open.
2. Kid- You can see the kid I gave it away to just past the glove in the red hat. He’s holding the ball between his hand and glove.
3. Groundskeeper- You can see him ducking at the very end of the gap.
Then for the end of batting practice-when Juan Francisco, who hits BOMBS, was hitting- I decided to try my luck and head up to the second deck in right field. I wasn’t the only one up there as fellow ballhawk, Rick Gold, had the same idea:
I then headed down to the lower level in right field where, to my delight, the tarp was being pulled on the field. I may have mentioned this before, but I absolutely love when it starts raining right *after* batting practice ends. There is truly nothing more beautiful:
Of course, the baseball gods had to have their fun with me, so the groundscrew didn’t actually put the tarp on for at least half an hour. They just stood there with the tarp as you see it in the picture. Waiting to make sure the rain was sufficient to put the tarp on the field.
As for the game, the Nationals jumped out to an early 4-1 lead. The Braves then picked away at the lead to tie the game 4-4. What happens when a game is tied after the ninth inning? FREE BASEBALL!!
The game had already been delayed an hour by the rain. So when it came time for extra innings, most of the fans left the stadium. When this happened, I stood up the rest of the game and waited for any ball to come my way:
Actually, since most of the ushers had left, I ran back and forth between right and left field depending on the hitter; just like old times at Nationals Park. If you’re newish to the blog, I used to buy two tickets on either side of the outfield on Nationals Park and would run back and forth during the game depending on whether a righty or a lefty was hitting. I rationalized it by saying that I was spending about the same on two outfield tickets as I would have on one ticket at Citi Field. (Last year, I was. The cheapest ticket at Citi Field was $23. With my student discount, the outfield tickets at Nationals Park were/are $13 each.)
Anyway, check out the emptiness that allowed me to stand up- and not block anyone’s view:
Long story short: nothing reached the seats for the rest of the game. Eventually, the Nationals won on a Dan Uggla bobble. Also during the game, I gave away five, count ’em, FIVE baseballs away to the usher who’s let me sit in the right field seats since last year. Usually he’s pretty reasonable with his requests (usually one or two balls), but apparently there was a family in from Chicago, so in addition to the two I usually give him, he asked for three others. Also, I should mention this isn’t just an usher being greedy. He gives all the balls I give him away to kids, elders, or other people in the section. That said, I gave away two on my own, the usher took five, so of the eight balls I snagged, I only kept the best Shea Stadium ball. That’s right, I gave away SEVEN of my eight baseballs. (Actually, I technically gave away eight. The usher offered me an exchange where he have me one of Rick Gold’s balls for one of my Shea balls, but he then asked for THAT ball to give to someone.
After the game, a security guard threw a bunch of balls at fans in the stands, but he had THE worst aim I’ve ever seen and about five of them bounced back onto the field. I just stood on top of one of the balls and asked each person that passed it if they could toss the ball up to me. Security Guard? “I’m on duty. I have to stand in this exact spot.” Police Officer? “No, I can’t.” Groundscrew? “No, we’re not allowed to.” It was just sitting there on the warning track:
(The other two shadows you see are of an Asian couple who was also waiting for the ball to be tossed up. Eventually, a guy in a dress shirt walked by, so I asked him point blank, “Can you toss me that ball, please?” He bent down, grabbed the ball, and kept walking to the dugout. Here he is on his way over there:
At this point, it was about 12:35, so I figured, ” I don’t have anywhere to be any time soon; I’m going to see if there’s a ball left in the bullpen.” Turns out there was- in the bottom right quadrant of the picture, against the black background:
I was just about to leave, when the security guard came in from the warning track by the Nationals dugout. The bullpen motioned for me to stop, and asked the security guard something. He then picked up the ball and tossed it to me:
Not surprisingly, by the time I got out of the stadium, the Metro was closed:
Once I got out of the stadium, I must have walked back and forth a mile before I finally got to the right bus stop. After taking the bus a stop, I ran into a familiar face in Rick (as in Gold). Turns out, we were both going the same direction. We took the bus until the end of the line. We then got off by Washington’s Archives building. Our next bus wasn’t due for another half hour. We discussed things from the renovation in Oakland’s coliseum to what the heck I was supposed to use an iPad for.
Once we got on the second bus, we ran into someone we both knew. It was the usher I mentioned earlier, Benny. I must say, Benny is one of the more entertaining ushers I have ever seen. Probably the most energetic. He is one of the most meticulous ushers about his duty before the game, but once the game begins, he is a dancer. Anyway, here is my view at 1:45 in the morning on the second bus:
• 9 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 7 away)
• 161 Balls (as many as I had last year in 46 Games) in 38 Games= 4.24 Balls Per Game
• 9 Balls x 21,298 Fans= 191,682 Competition Factor
• 47 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 121 Balls in 27 Games at Nationals Park= 4.48 Balls Per Game
• 19 straight Games in Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games in Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:42- 1:52= 10 Hours 10 Minutes
• With my first “9” game, I have now snagged in a game every total from 0 to 11 baseballs at a game.
So… I think I’ll start off the entry with a “Before The Gates Open” video:
If you didn’t get it from my video, this was my view of the field when I first got in:
No, my first ball of the day came when the Rangers started throwing. Nelson Cruz tossed a ball to me, but it sailed over my head where Greg Barasch picked the ball up. Went all the way to the ball bucket and picked a ball out of there:
(Do you see him? He’s the one closest to the bucket with the ball in his hand.) He then launched that ball over my head with relative ease from over 200 feet away. When I ran up the stairs chasing the ball, it bounced back towards the field and over my head where another fan got it. Cruz then got a third ball. This time, I made sure to be up higher on the staircase. He threw the ball, and I saw it was falling short, so I ran down the stairs, cut into the row, and caught the ball. All in all, it was a fun experience. Here’s the ball as Cruz headed off to right field:
My next ball came when I headed to the left field seats in fair territory. Ian Kinsler hit a ball that I could tell wasn’t going to reach me on the fly but might reach me after bouncing off someone’s hands. It bounced off some hands, off a seat; it then went behind me, and it then bounced off a glove behind me, where it landed in the row behind me and I picked it up. It was in this general area that I snagged it:
After this it was time for Josh Hamilton’s group. All of us four ballhawks who had met at Gate 6 had the same idea: go to right field. For the record, I was the first one out of the left field section, but the other three followed seconds after. So, on our way to right field, we divvied-up the right field seats as to not get in each other’s ways, Zack got the field level seats, and Ben got the bleachers:
There, I had one mission in mind: Get a ball from Joe Nathan. (He was/is one of my favorite players ever for his role on my beloved Twins.) Here was my view of him:
Unfortunately, I wasted all of the remaining batting practice up there, but I *was* able to make it down to the dugout just as the players were running off, and I got a ball from a player I can best identify as Mark Lowe:
After batting practice, I met up with a few ballhawks in the left field seats:
The people- left to right- are:
1. Ben Weil– A ballhawk best known for having the biggest collection of jerseys in the Milky Way. (If you want to see just how big, I put a link to his name for a reason.) However, Ben purposely pulled off his beautiful Rangers jersey to display the shirt you see in the picture.
2. Greg Barasch– Probably the best ballhawk at amassing as many balls in a single game as he can in the country (even if he DOES always go for third-out balls at the games he goes to).
3. Matthew Latimer– A reporter for MLB’s Cut4, who may or may not interview me next season at a Yankee game if there’s a slow news day.
4. Zack Hample– The man, the myth, the sweater (that’s why he’s holding out his two-shaded shirt out).
5. Moi- I’m holding out three fingers because it was the third game in a row Zack and I had been to a game together.
6. Mark McConville– A ballhawk who you saw towards the end of the video. We’ve seen each other at quite a few games considering how many games he’s been to (12).
As for the game, Hiroki Kuroda threw a complete game two-hitter. Also, I personally found this stat amazing:
• 3 Balls at this Game
Numbers 363-365 for my lifetime:
• 143 Balls in 33 Games= 4.33 Balls Per Game
• 3 Balls x 44,533 Fans= 133,599 Competition Factor
• 42 Games with at least 1Ball
• 18 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 86 Balls in 23 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.74 Balls Per Game
• 23 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
• 8 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:58- 10:12= 6 Hours 14 Minutes
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:
That 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:
I 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:
Do 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:
I 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:
Even 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:
Do 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:
so 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.
- 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
After taking a rare day off from baseball this week, it was back to Yankee Stadium for me. Look who I ran into at the gate:
That would be, right to left (because it will be less confusing that way):
1. George- A ballhawk who had been at the game Tuesday. Also, this would be his last game of the year, since he would be headed off to China to take part in a program, I believe the University of Bejing was putting on and would be off to St. John’s University after that.
2. Zack Hample– Just the reason I started ballhawking and this blog exists. No big deal.Also,as you can see, he is holding up a catcher’s glove. He is going to attempt a stunt today (July, 2, 2012). More specifically, he will be trying to catch a ball dropped from 1,000 feet high.
3+4. George’s friends, Stephen and Dylan. Pretty self-explanatory. I had seen these guys at a couple of other New York baseball games before, so, like George, they are “semi-regulars”
5. Mateo Fischer- The person who’s writing this sentence.
Since there were so many of us ballhawks at the gate, we split up into two groups. Zack and I went to left field, everyone else (including George’s dad, Jeff, who took the picture) went to right field. Zack took the top spot on the main left field staircase, so I took the bottom one. Therefore this was the view straight ahead of me:
and this was the view to my left:
Do you see the guy in the corner of the section? Well, he actually got a ball that was intended for me. I diagrammed the whole thing out for you in this next picture:
The player in the right part of the screen would be Freddy Garcia. Well, when he went over to the spot I marked with the number “1”, I called out to him and he threw a ball he meant to throw to me. Unfortunately, as you can see by the path of the ball I’ve outlined, his throw came up short, fell into the first row, and the man I mentioned before picked it up. Right after this, Zack said, “How does it feel to have a player throw a ball to you and miss?” He was of course referencing the game earlier that week, where the Indians’ pitching coach had overthrown him and I ended up with the ball. Oh, if only Zack knew what would happen later on in this game…
After this, Garcia made up for missing me and tossed me a second ball he retrieved:
After that, a ball was hit, and I initially judged it would land in front of me, so I ran down a few steps. I then realized it was going back to where I had been standing. (Zack had actually gone elsewhere, so I was standing in the higher spot on the staircase for this ball.) I tried to back up, but it was too late, and the ball landed in this seat:
There, a kid (not pictured) beat me to the ball. Words cannot describe how frustrated I was with myself for botching such an easy play. I didn’t show any of it, though. I’m not really one to make a scene out of my frustration. Most of the exclamations of frustration I say out loud don’t carry a necessarily connotation to them.
Anyway, I then moved over to foul ground when the White Sox started hitting. I didn’t have a White Sox shirt, so I transformed a T-Shirt that I had picked up while I was in Baltimore.I turned the T-Shirt inside-out , and the rest of what I did can be seen in this two-part picture:
A pretty nice homemade White Sox shirt, eh? Especially when you consider I made it on the train ride to Yankee Stadium.
Actually, though, my “White Sox gear” didn’t help me get any baseballs from the White Sox. The only ball I got was actually intended for another person. More specifically, it was intended for Zack. Here I am with the ball and Zack beneath the arrow:
Just as I thought I had been shutout by the White Sox players, I started heading back to the left field seats. I was at this point a section away from Zack and probably ten rows behind him. Just then, I saw him get Don Cooper, the White Sox’s pitching coach’s attention. I figured I might as well position myself behind Zack in case of an overthrow. Well, Cooper DID overthrow Zack. What happened next is diagrammed in this next picture:
As you can see, I’ve drawn two curved lines into the picture. The one on the left shows where the ball initially hit after Cooper released it. It hit in a row almost exactly between Zack and I. Had it stayed there, it would have been a race between Zack and I, which he as the faster one would have won. Except, the ball bounced just right on the plastic part of the chair as to send it the path of the second line, right into the row I was running in. Obviously, I picked up the ball, but I also felt *really* bad for Zack. I’ve been on the other end of some of those and it stinks, to say the least.
When I got back to left field, it had gotten a bit more crowded. This was the view to my left:
Behind me were two other ballhawks:
Anyway, after misjudging another ball that both Stephen AND I missed, I caught an Alexei Ramirez home run on the fly in the spot where I took the last three pictures from:
I then saw Adam Dunn’s group coming up, so I headed over to right field. It was extremely frustrating for the most part, because although he WAS hitting home runs, they were all sailing over my head into the bleachers.
While, I was there, though, I saw a player turn around to search the crowd for a fan to toss a baseball to, so I started running to the side and waving my arms around to get him to notice me. He saw me and threw me a ball through a sea of reaching arms:
He is the player with his glove covering his face. Who is “he”? I later identified the player as Jose Quintana. While I was looking him up, I found out he is actually Colombian. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll know I am actually Colombian, so it is always very special to get a ball from a Colombian player, especially a pitcher. What made it even more special was when I put that ball into my mygameballs.com account, it didn’t recognize him as a player, so I can say I was the first one on the site to get a ball from him. That’s pretty cool, in my opinion.
I then got a ball- not on the fly- hit by whoever was the “other” lefty in the group besides Adam Dunn. After which, one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen happened. I won’t diagram this for you, but here’s a picture of where it happened:
Do you see the metal bar that is going right over the “Toyota” sign? Gordon Beckham hit an opposite-field home run that hit that bar and the popped straight up in the air. I had a beat on it, but the guy in the bottom right corner of the picture dove backwards into a seat and caught the ball.
After that, I caught an Adam Dunn home run on the fly and immediately gave it away to a kid who had also been pursuing it. Both he and his father thanked me. It was a pretty nice experience. So nice, in fact, that after security kicked everyone out of the right field seats, I gave another ball away on my way to the bleachers.
Once I got to the bleachers, the White Sox had ended their session of batting practice in lieu of something much weirder:
Fielding practices in it of themselves are pretty rare before MLB games. This was even weirder because the White Sox were taking fielding practice WITHOUT ANY BASEBALLS. The coaches were hitting imaginary balls to the players, who were then executing a play. Weird.
In the bleachers, I tried to get a ball from the grounds person, and I thought there was no way I wouldn’t with so many baseballs in the bullpen:
My next stop was the top of the batter’s eye, where I would try to get Mike Harkey to throw me a ball. Harkey is the guy standing on the bench in the bullpen:
Thanks to a friend who wasn’t going to be at the game, and gave me his ticket as a result, here’s where I sat:
There I managed to get within five feet of a Mark Teixeira home run during the game:
It was caught by the person sitting next to the guy who’s standing up. Actually, the word “caught” doesn’t accurately describe the situation. Someone had the ball bounce off their chest. Then five people piled onto each other until he finally came out with the ball.
After the game, I moved over next to the bullpen to try to get a ball from bullpen coach, Juan Nieves, but he completely ignored me. While he was waiting for Mark Salas, who was still readying himself in the bullpen, and I was yelling my head off trying to get his attention; a second guy, who also looked like a bullpen catcher, looked at me. He then put down his oversized bag, unzipped it, and pulled out a ball he then threw to me. He’s the guy trailing Salas and Nieves in the following picture:
• 7 Balls at this Game (5 pictured because I gave two away)
• 90 Balls at 18 Games= 5 Balls Per Game
• 27 straight games with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight games with at least 2 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 7 Balls
• 68 Balls in 18 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.78 Balls Per Game
• 18 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 7 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:59- 10:56= 6 Hours 57 Minutes