As I had told a bunch of people who had asked me prior, I was 99% sure I was not going to this game. My high school baseball team had a game planned for Staten Island at 7:00 that night, but our game had been cancelled at 2:00. You may be thinking that I would be bent on attending the game the instant I got the call telling me our game was cancelled. I wasn’t. It was raining most of the day leading up to that point and the thought of going to the Yankee game never crossed my mind, probably because I had so vehemently denied to so many people who I was going to this game.
To give you some context as to my arrival at Yankee Stadium, the gates open at 5:00, which means I usually arrive at the stadium at 4:30, and it takes me approximately 30 minutes to get to Yankee Stadium. Now that I’ve told you all of this, it was not until 4:08 that it hit me I was now available to go to the game. I knew I was already late for my usual arrival time, so I had to make a quick decision as to whether it was worth my time. It was indeed a quick debate, and the winning argument was, “There’s baseball being played and you’re going to stay at home and do work? Go to the game, you idiot! The worst that can happen, you get shutout? You only have a 14 game streak, so it wouldn’t be that tragic if you did.” I bought my ticket and got ready the quickest I ever have for a game, getting out the door by 4:20.
I hopped on the “D” train and was at Gate 6 of Yankee Stadium by 4:50. I thought that another ballhawk would be there, given all that had planned to be there, so I would be able to go with them at the front of the line, but apparently a rainy Yankee Stadium was too scary for everyone but me. Actually, that’s not true, even I was worried that it would start raining any minute:
Although I had checked the forecast and it called for a 30% chance of rain at this time, the clouds were rather ominous which made me rather anxious. A bright spot, though, was that the threat of rain had scared off a bunch of regular fans and the line wasn’t that long; as you can see from the picture. Normally the line ten minutes before the gate opening time would be at least three times the length it was when I got there.
It had been an absolute downpour in the afternoon, so I was skeptical there would be batting practice, and when I got in the stadium, there wasn’t. There was, however, a cage set up:
That meant that either the Yankees had taken bp before we had entered or the Orioles were going to. I asked a camera man nearby if the Yankees had taken bp. When he said, “no” I was ecstatic, because that meant the weather had worked out perfectly so the ballhawks and other fans were driven away, but I would still get batting practice.
That said, the Orioles were still not hitting just yet, so I headed over to foul territory in an attempt to get a ball from one of the position players warming up:
Why do I have an arrow pointing to one of players? That would be Robert Andino. When he finished throwing and started walking to the dugout, I called out and said, “Robert, can you throw me that ball please?” He responded by stopping and saying, “Put down a sign.” I signaled back two fingers, and he made sure he was seeing it right by saying, “Is that curveball?” When I confirmed, he started his motion he had been practicing in his session of catch, pumping his leg once more than normal pitchers do and threw me a ball that spun downwards and into my glove.
I then went over closer to the foul pole to try to get a pitcher to toss me a ball:
However, I didn’t wait for them to finish their game of catch to ask them for a ball. The Orioles had already started hitting, and I saw Kevin Gregg was picking up baseballs on the warning track; so I ran over to where he was walking and asked him by name to throw me a baseball. Here is the result:
I then situated myself in LF since I figured the other pitchers had seen me get the ball and probably wouldn’t toss one of theirs to me.
My next ball came when I saw some righty hit a ball to my right. I ran over to the spot where I thought the ball was going to land and caught it all while pretty much everyone else in the section was frozen still. The following picture displays my route to the ball:
The arrow emanating from the bottom of the picture is my path and the other arrow is the path of the ball. I realize that it is hard to judge depth in a 2D image, but I caught the ball at about stomach height.
This was my third ball of the day, so I immediately looked to give it away:
The boy walking up the stairs was my first candidate since he had a glove on. I asked him if he had gotten a ball already, but surprisingly, he responded “yeah”. His father then added, “But we’ll take another.” I then thought, “Yeaaah, that’s not going to happen.” Right then, the man leaning over the wall towards the right of the picture asked, “Can I have that ball for my daughter?’ Normally I don’t give away balls to older people who don’t have gloves, but I also didn’t want to look like a bad guy for offering a ball to one person and then not giving it to another.
My next ball came off of the bat of Adam Jones. He hit a ball to my left that I could tell right away was going to fall short, but I judged it to be high enough to line up with the ball since it might bounce over the wall off the warning track. That’s exactly what happened, and although I didn’t catch the ball right off the warning track, it hit in a seat close enough to me where I could pick it up. The following picture shows only the path of the ball:
My next ball was almost exactly like ball #3 (the one I caught on the fly) except I believe I was a row deeper or shallower in the seats. This ball was also caught on the fly, and because I was feeling guilty for giving ball #3 away to a person who both asked me for it and didn’t have a glove, I waited until I was on the concourse and made sure to give this ball away to a kid with a glove when I moved over to RF.
Why did I move over to RF, you ask? Right after Adam Jones’ group, security cleared out everyone without a ticket for that section. I managed to get one ball while I was there. Chris Davis had been putting on a show in the batting practice of the first game of the series by repeatedly hitting balls into the second deck, so I was more on my toes than usually and was very vocal to the people surrounding me that he would be hitting balls in our direction. As a result, when he hit a ball to my left, I started moving right after it came off his bat. I then realized it was going into the second deck, so I slowed down. I did not, however, give up on the ball. I positioned myself so I would be ready if the ball caromed off the seats and down into the lower level where I was standing. When this happened, I was right next to where the ball fell to and picked it up. Like I mentioned in the previous game’s entry, ballhawking is both skill and luck in cases like this. That ball could have easily not have fallen to the lower level and another ball could have been hit back to my right that I would have missed because I was waiting for this ball, but I also could have given up on this ball and someone else could have picked it up instead of me. Anyway, here is the view of the second deck from where I picked up the ball:
Right after I grabbed this ball, I saw a kid running behind me for the ball, and I believe he had a glove on, so I gave him the ball.
That was it for batting practice. I headed up to my ticketed seat in the LF bleachers and talked for a while with an usher who I had been talking to the previous two games as well as a fellow ball-snagger, named Tak, that I’ve now seen a few times this season, but never saw before. I’ll just clarify something, I was in the bleachers while both of them were in the lower level seating. I then abruptly left these two, saying, ” I’m going to try to get a ball from the groundskeeper.” I then moved over to the bullpen where the groundskeeper was taking down the netting the Yankees install during bp to protect any relievers pitching in the bullpen. When he saw me, the groundskeeper looked up and held up one finger as to say, “Just give me a minute.” Right after that, I saw Tak approach the bullpen from the lower level also trying to get a ball. When the groundskeeper was done storing the netting and poles that held it up, he picked up a ball in the bullpen and tossed it to me. Here is my view right as he was about to toss me the ball:
I believe Tak also got a ball from him, but I’m not sure.
After that, the relievers filed in and finally the starting pitcher, Jake Arrieta, came into the bullpen and started preparing for the game. As I was waiting for him to finish up throwing, a fan right next to me started calling out to the coach in the bullpen standing next to Arrieta, saying, “Bill. Mr. Castro. Can you throw me that ball.” Upon which I asked him, “Are you asking that guy for the ball?” He then responded, “Yeah, his name is Bill Castro; I looked it up online.” If you don’t know, Bill Castro is the Orioles bullpen coach, so I can understand why this man would think that the coach in the bullpen would be the bullpen coach. However, as I’ll explain in a few seconds, that was incorrect.
Very soon after he said this, Arrieta finished throwing and t was my turn to call out to the coach, so I said, “Rick, can you toss me the ball please?” He then threw me the ball. Why did my request work? Well I’m glad you asked. You see when the starting pitcher goes into the bullpen to warm-up, the pitching coach goes out with him to look at his warm-up pitches. I mean it makes sense, doesn’t it? The starting pitchers are completely under the jurisdiction of the pitching coach, so why would the bullpen coach analyze a starting pitchers warm-up. I knew because of this and my recognition of the Orioles’ coaching staff that the coach in the bullpen was Rick Adair, the Orioles’ pitching coach. Here is the ball with Adair and Arrieta walking in the background:
If you lost track, that was my eighth and final ball of the game.
As for the game, it was a pretty interesting game. The Yankees lost 5-0. Jake Arrieta managed to shut-out the Yankees for five innings and the loss snapped a streak of 15 consecutive wins for Ivan Nova. This is very significant because if he would have won this game, it would have tied him for the Yankees’ franchise record.
- 8 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave 3 away)
Numbers 244-251 all time for me:
- 29 Balls in 6 games= 4.83 Balls Per Game
- 15 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 6 straight games with at least 2 balls
- 6 straight games with at least 3 balls
- 3 straight games with at least 4 balls
- 8 balls x 39,360 fans= 314,880 Competition Factor
- 43 balls at the New Yankee Stadium in 12 games= 3.58 balls per game
- 12 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
- 4 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 balls
- 4 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 balls
- 3 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 4 balls
- Time at game 4:49- 10:19= 5 hours 30 minutes
- I thought this would go well with the stats, but I have gone to 6 games this season, seen 3 series’, have gone to 2 stadiums, all while only seeing three teams play. I thought it was just kind of interesting.
The whole time I spent before the gates actually opened was shaped by two things: 1. my home printer wasn’t working and 2. Avi Miller wanted a ticket stub from Buck Showalter’s 1000th win (he was sitting on 999 at the time). Due to these two things, I actually bought a physical ticket *at* Yankee Stadium for the first time in… a while:
Usually, the tickets for the bleachers are priced at $15. This day, however, they were $7.50 for whatever reason, so I lucked out and actually spent less than I would have had I bought the ticket at home. This is because I would have bought it from Stubhub and the *charges* on the ticket would have exceeded $10.
Right after I bought the ticket, I checked my phone only to find out it was only 3:45. Since the gates at Yankees Stadium open at 5:00 for a 7:00 game, I took a little tour of Yankee Stadium going around it clockwise. It started in the Babe Ruth Plaza:
then I went to Gate 6, probably Yankee Stadium’s most popular gate because of its proximity to the B, D, and 4 subway lines. It is also the gate I have been using this year. Last year I thought, for whatever reason, that this gate was behind Home Plate when in reality, it is by RF:
Soon after, I passed by the Press Gate -which, little known fact, I have actually been cleared by. If you ever see me with my red backpack, I still have the tag they put on as of May 1st, 2011. Here we have the Press Gate with the “welcoming commitee”:
Following which, I saw Gate 2, which is connected to the entrance to the Yankee offices, which I have also entered:
and took a picture of the side of the main parking garage connected to the stadium, which I have also entered once in what I believe is the first year of the stadium:
passed Gate 8, the CF gate that I used to use before I started using Gate 6:
then I took the sidewalk picture next to arrive back at Gate 6:
To pass the time until I “had” to get in line to be the first one in said line, I just sat on a bench, because I was simply exhausted from going to 8 games for my high school in 7 days and all the work that they produced. There, I sent a more or less cryptic tweet with this picture:
Soon after I arrived back at the gate, there was a whole crew of ballhawk related people. This time I actually asked them if they would mind posing for a picture since I rarely document the other ballhawks who go to the ballpark through posed photographs. Most times if I document the other ballhawks who are there, it’s a candid picture while we are out in the seats. Here are the people just outside Gate 6:
That would be:
1. Ben Weil– A New York based ballhawk that I run into a lot and occasionally exchange texts with whenever he needs to know where an umpire tunnel is, wearing the Garfield hat and Green Day t-shirt.
2. Billy- A friend Ben brought to this game.
3. Zack Hample– Most of the audience reading this will probably know who he is, but for those who don’t, he is best categorized as “that guy who catches all those baseballs”. He also has already written a blog entry about this game.
After I took this picture, Zack wanted a picture taken for his blog. Billy took Zack’s camera for two takes and here was the result:
I can understand if you don’t know what I look like since I don’t post THAT many pictures of myself in entries, but I’m the one on the right in this picture.
Once the gates opened, Zack, Ben and I hastily descended upon the RF seats. It was just us for a couple of minutes. In those couple of minutes, Zack managed to get on the board with two quick snags. I mention this because one of them was an opposite-field shot by Alex Rodriguez that was hit to our right. All three of us moved over to our right, but the ball was slicing back to our right. We kind of moved in step with each other from our individual spots. Ben had the spot furthest from the field and was closest to the landing spot of the ball, but missed it; I was in the spot closest to the field and knew I would have no shot at catching it on the fly, so I turned around and awaited the ricochet; and Zack was in between us two. I think he misjudged the ball, or it was hit too hard for him to react; as the ball was hitting the seats behind him, his momentum was carrying him towards CF, but he jumped and reached back with his bare hand and caught it. I can say with almost 100% certainty that I would have snagged that ball had he not been there, because my glove was directly in line with the path of the ball.
After our two minutes of solitude, this is what the seats to our left looked like:
As you can see, I’ve noted Billy walking over to us. As you can also see, I’ve pointed out another fan by the name of Erik. He is a regular at Yankee Stadium and is of the breed of ballhawk that only goes for hit baseballs. As he put it for me the following day, “If I get a thrown ball, it’s by accident.” He usually stands in the spot that I was taking the picture from, but I suspect he thought it would be better to stand over there because all three of us were in the RCF sections.
Also of note is that after a few balls were hit and Zack managed to snag another ball, we switched spots. Here is a picture that he took from his new spot at the front of the section:
I have included four annotations to the picture. Two are to point out myself and Ben awaiting a hit ball. The other two are pointing out two seemingly random people.
Guy 1- I went out to Yankees Stadium for all three games of their series with the Orioles (this was the first). He was there every game as well and we chatted about various things along with the usher for this section -not pictured. From what I can tell, Guy 1 goes to a bunch of games in different stadiums as well. Admittedly this isn’t that exciting, but I figured I would point him out while I was pointing out things from this pictures. Guy 2, however, was pretty exciting in my opinion.
Guy 2- If you read my last entry, you know that I was running back and forth for foul balls all game long. Given that the crowd was under 100 people for the game, I got to see most of the people in the stadium that night; Guy 2 was one of them. I know because he was wearing the same exact sweater as the previous night. As I mentioned, this is Zack’s picture that he sent to me in an e-mail, but until I opened the picture, I had no idea this guy was at the Yankee game, probably because I was so focused on the batter that I never looked up to the bleachers. Serendipitous, isn’t it?
My first ball of the day came when some Yankee lefty hit a ball to my right. I went through my row, tracking the ball, and managed to catch it on the fly despite stubbing my toe on the way over and almost falling over. Here is the view of the field from where I caught the ball:
and here is the spot of how much I had run to get to the ball. It isn’t much, but I just wanted to show you for reference. The spot I started from is about where the guy in the blue jacket is standing, but in case you can’t find that, I provided an arrow as well:
After Zack got his third ball of the day, I realized it was time to go, so after taking a picture of Zack reenacting his double-milestone snag (it was both his 5,900th career ball and 200th snagged at the New Yankee Stadium) and saying namaste to Ben, I left for left, field that is. There I quickly missed my first ball that I just misplayed. However, I also quickly got a second chance and capitalized on it:
The solid arrow shows my path to the ball and the dotted arrow shows the path of the ball. Obviously, those people now in the path of my solid arrow weren’t there when I ran, but I took the picture after the snag itself. What happened was that I sprinted to around where I thought the ball was going to land. Meanwhile, the ball hit a seat and bounced in the air where I caught it mid-air.
My next ball was hit by Wilson Betemit, batting right-handed, about ten feet to my right. I drifted to it and caught the ball right in the row I had set up in. Here is the view of the field from the spot where I caught it:
The notable thing about this ball came after the snag, though. I thought it was about time for me to give away a baseball, so I quickly found a kid and tossed it to him. He initially accepted it, but then said, “No, you take it.” Obviously I’m more than fine with giving balls away to deserving kids, but I am always proud of them when they don’t accept a ball and try to get a ball on their own. I actually got a picture of him handing it back to me:
This was my third ball of the day, by the way.
My fourth ball of the game came after Zack came over and all three of us were together once again, as Ben had already been there for the last snag. It was also once again the same order: Zack on the bottom, myself in the middle, and Ben behind me. Some other righty hit a ball a little to our left. I thought the ball was headed pretty much to me, but Zack for some reason bolted to his right. Since I never trust my judgment on fly balls, I moved with him a little, but then realized my judgment was correct. At that point, I had moved down the steps just enough to be slightly out of position for the ball. I had to jump and came up with the ball. Right then, Zack yelled “Oh, robbed!” I turned around and saw that Ben had been right behind me with his glove up in the air.
Around this time, there was a drought of hit balls for quite some time. So far this season, I have tried to not ask for balls as much as I can. No, I’m not turning into one of those ballhawks that only catches balls hit off the bat, but sometimes my thought process when going for toss-ups affects my overall mentality more than it should and I wanted to just work on catching hit balls and then add asking players for balls after I have confidenc in my ability to snag batted balls. Long story short, all of the Orioles either ignored me, couldn’t hear me, or both. The main target of my verbal barrage was this guy right here:
Wei-Yin Chen is a reliever for the Orioles who happens to be from Taiwan. Once I suspected that he was Taiwanese, I started dropping my Chinese translation of “Can you toss me the ball, please?” I think he heard me because he turned around twice when he was beginning his motion to throw the ball back into the field, but he then went on to toss the ball to other fans both times. I’m a naturally quiet person, so yelling out to players has never been a strong suit. As Ben described me calling out to Chen, “I heard the first part, then the rest was like a whisper.”
Also in this lull, I made sure to take a picture of Ben behind me and it went very well despite my unintentionality in doing so:
I love it because it perfectly describes the situation for the second half of this batting practice in that we were both smiling… Time out: okay, I can’t prove that I’m smiling, but trust me when I say that I had an equally goofy smile to cause Ben to strike the pose. Time in… and then you have Zack up in the bleachers with what seems to be a slightly less happy face, because he wasn’t getting anything up in his bleachers. This was pretty nice since it is usually the opposite during games because Ben and Zack both get field level tickets while I get bleacher seats. I’m pretty sure I then caught my fifth ball of the day soon after.
I take pictures of the seats to remind myself of the baseballs I have caught, but sometimes I confuse the spots of the baseballs a little. However, I’m pretty sure that I caught it in the following spot, designated by the orange arrow:
Again, I caught it on the fly off of some righty, who I could not identify’s bat. Soonishly after that, ushers started checking tickets and I moved over to RF. From what I could tell, it is a new feature they added in about RF still being open until the end of bp. The reason I only went thrice to Yankee Stadium is that I was constantly in fear of getting shutout, but with this set-up, I can still try for balls in RF until the end of bp.
Here’s the view from my spot in RF:
There I would come close two a couple of balls, but I didn’t come up with any because of the two guys in the following picture:
Before I start explaining t he situations, I want to clarify that both weren’t mean about the balls they cost me; I’m pretty sure they don’t even know that they cost me baseballs. The first ball was to my left. I ran towards the spot where I thought the ball would land, but the guy with a rectangle surrounding his head ran after every ball full speed blindly and this ball was no exception. As I was slowing down to catch the ball, he was still running and his momentum pushed me out of position for the ball and he caught the ball. I would have normally stopped, but he was about to run into me and so I kept going as to not have a big collision with him. I did make contact with him, but had I not kept going it might have been a bigger hit than it was.
The second ball was hit to my right and I ran in the row between the guy in the circle and the guy in the rectangle. I was camped under the ball, but then suddenly the guy in the circle’s glove reached up and in the process nudged my glove out of position and he caught the ball.
That was it for batting practice. As for the game, I was in the bleachers. This was my view of the field:
Sadly, though, the better via TV was probably better in this scenario:
The game actually went pretty quickly. The Yankees won 2-1 on an Eric Chavez HR and the game only lasted 2 hours 22 minutes.
Since I was approximately 5 miles from Home Plate, I decided to wander for a chunk of the game and found something interesting:
I feel like an old person reminiscing, but it’s interesting because I can clearly remember when the prices for this exact item were $4.50 and $5.50 instead of $6.00 and $7.00 respectively. Is that just a product of inflation, or is it the Yankees jacking up the prices once they got into the new stadium? I don’t know, but it makes me that much more glad to be leaving New York for college. I will be going to the University of Minnesota this next fall.
- 5 Balls at this game
- Numbers 235- 239 for my career
- 17 Balls in 4 games= 4.25 Balls Per Game
- 13 games with at least 1 ball
- 4 straight games with at least 3 balls
- 5 Balls* 36, 890 fans= 184,450 Competition Factor
- 31 Balls in 10 games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.10 Balls Per Game
- 10 straight games with at least 1 ball at the New Yankee Stadium
- Time at Game 3: 27- 9:38= 6 hours 1 minute
You may remember, if you read semi-regularly, that my high school team played at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ stadium fairly recently. If not, here’s the link to the entry. Well, this was now our second game in a season playing at a minor league ballpark. It’s pretty cool to play in a minor league stadium period. To do so twice in a season is fantastic. This time, for those who don’t know where this ballpark is, it was the Staten Island Yankees’ stadium that we would be playing in:
I took that last picture immediately upon entering the stadium, and as you can see there were already players ahead of me. Apparently, we weren’t supposed to have entered. The gate was only open because a local network by the name of MSG Varsity was filming the game and needed to get their cameras in. We were supposed to (and eventually did after we filled out the paperwork that we wouldn’t sue the Yankees if anything happened to us) go to the visitor’s locker room.
The locker room was truly amazing. I know this because I have been to both, but it was close to the quality of a Major League one in terms of appearance, even if it was a little smallish. All the lockers had the names of the players, and the locker room was completely carpeted. Sounds amazing enough for me to take pictures, right? Unfortunately, it was here that I found out I had forgotten my camera’s memory card for the second time in four days. I guess I was freaking out about this, because the following is the extent of my documentation of the locker room:
Fascinating, isn’t it?
Soon after we made our way to the field, I was asked to go up to the booth to help with the pronunciation of names. Here is the view from one of the booths behind the plate:
The arrow in that picture points to the PA announcer’s mic. He was the one I assisted in this particular booth. While I was there, I figured I should probably take a picture of the massive cluster of monitors the SI Yankees people had:
I should also add that they pulled me away when the rest of the team was paying catch, so I was watching the assistant coach who is usually my catch partner and I was glad he found someone else to throw with:
Next, I helped the MSG Varsity announcer with pronunciations in their booth; he’s the one with the red arrow above his head:
After that, I went down, and since the team was done playing catch, I wandered the seats to take a bunch of pictures. I started out by taking a picture with my camera touching the RF foul pole:
moved over to show the dining portion of the seats:
took a picture of the standing room section I would be standing in for most of the night where there was also an MSG Varsity camera present:
showed a view from the seats in foul territory down the first base line:
made sure to take a picture from the closest I could get to being directly behind the plate (I’ll explain later):
took a picture from foul ground on the third base side:
took a picture from as close as I could get to the foul line in LF:
took a picture of the gate 90 degrees to my right (with an arrow pointing at the bus we had driven in that is hidden in this picture):
then took my last “tour” picture of the stairs that lead to this corner of the stadium from the main concourse:
Right after that, I started my day of “snagging”. From now on, the entry will read more like a ballhawking entry.
I found a ball in the seats as I was going back to the dugout:
A St. Raymond’s pitcher was warming up nearby, so I asked him if the ball was theirs and threw it to him when he held out his glove. A few seconds later, I found another ball in the seats and decided to keep this one. Here is a picture of it:
After the National Anthem and opening ceremonies, I went to a second standing room section between the first one I showed you and the dining seats:
St. Raymond’s hitters didn’t hit any foul balls, but our leadoff hitter (who is a switch-hitter batting left-handed) hit a foul ball on the first pitch of his at-bat. Guess who ended up with the ball?
What happened was that the ball went into the concourse behind me, but then bounced off the wall and back into the seats. Here is the picture of the ball that I took when I turned around to show where it came from:
This hitter got out on the very next pitch and the next batter was a righty, so I ran over to the other side of the seats. Just as I was entering the seats, he hit a ball to my right that did the exact same thing as our leadoff hitter’s ball in that it bounced off the wall and back into the seat. Here I have the two baseballs because I hadn’t yet been able to throw the first one back (you couldn’t keep the balls):
Right after I picked up the ball, I heard and then saw three kids running up to the concourse and asking each other, “Where is it?” Do you remember Pat O’Shea from the Pelicans game I went to? Well those were his two younger brothers and younger sister. The sister would stay with her parents, but for the rest of the night, I had a friendly competition with both of the brothers to see who could snag the most baseballs.
My next ball came when a righty sliced a ball down the line. I was playing closer to Home Plate than both of the brothers, so I accepted the fact that they would get the ball. The older one then came back like I expected with a ball. However, this ball was dirty like the ones I had found in the seats before the game started. It was the second inning, so I thought that it should be a pearl still. I ran down the line searching for a ball that matched my description, and what do you know, I found it!
If you’re not keeping track, that was my fifth ball of the game. I would go on to snag two more balls in the game. I can’t remember how I got my sixth ball, but I know that I caught the seventh one on the fly in the standing room section that I mentioned earlier. This beat the older brother by two baseballs, since he snagged 5, while the younger brother snagged 3 at this game. That is all on the snagging front, but I wanted to share a few more things.
1. Here is are the blank standings in the stadium because the SI Yankees’ season doesn’t start until June 16th I believe:
2. Here is a picture from the spot I was standing for most of the night. It is of the MSG Varsity camera man, and I thought the picture was nice-ish:
What do I like most about that picture? The skyline in the background. Here’s a close-up of it:
3. It was a very exciting game, albeit poorly played. The score was tied 1-1 going into the 7th inning (we only play seven innings). St. Raymond’s scored one run off a leadoff double. This meant we would have to score a run in the bottom of the seventh to win. Not only did we score one, but we also scored a second run to win the game, driving in the runs by walking with the bases loaded and hitting a sacrifice fly.
When the Yankees playoff game was postponed from Friday to Saturday, a lot of people were upset because they had different plans on Saturday. Since the Yankees and MLB have protection against this liability, those people had no chocie but to sell their tickets on StubHub or other ticket broker sites. I didn’t know if I would be able to make it to this game because of other plans and wouldn’t have been able to afford the tickets at the last minute had the date switch taken place.
When I found out I was available, I bought tickets on StubHub and arrived on the scene some few short hours after that. It was drizzling outside. So I was pretty surprised when I arrived in the stadium and the Yankees were taking batting practice. The Yankees have a LOT of reasons to be disliked by ballhawks (notice my last Yankee game was in April) but they are not quick at all to put the tarp on because of the quality of the field (it drains better than most fields).
It was not a very exciting batting practice as neither team hit many balls into the crowd. I started out in Right Field but decided to go to Left Field. There, I had some close calls.
1. I was usually in the railing gap about ten feet from the field and closest to Center Field in the Left Field stands (I don’t say bleachers at Yankee Stadium because there really are bleachers behind the Left Field stands), and a ball went to my left. I chased after it and was behind two other people who were contesting for the ball as well. They knocked each other down and the person to my left’s presence didn’t allow me to go after the ball rolling down their row. For the record, the guys were fine with the fact that they lost each other the ball but neither was given the ball as a prize for their effort. I personally would have given one of them the ball despite the fact that they were grown men.
2. I almost convinced Joaquin Benoit to throw me his warm-up ball but as he looked at me, he saw the kid next to me was more “worthy” and tossed it to him. The exact thing that happened was that I started yelling out his name (that’s what it takes just to get heard at Yankee Stadium) and when he looked at me, I asked him for the ball in Spanish. When he threw it to the kid next to me, I thought that he wasn’t actually Hispanic and I’d just dissed him by asking for the ball in Spanish because neither Joaquin nor Benoit are exclusive Hispanic names. I later checked and saw he was from the Dominican Republic so I assume the first explanation in the paragraph is what happened. I would also now like to point out that somewhere in the process of getting my Tigers gear on, I lost the Tigers roster itself, so this is why I didn’t get any balls from the other pitchers because it relied on them just seeing me in my Tigers stuff.
3. A Tigers coach was going along the wall and picking up all of the balls and fungoeing them into the infield. One fan asked him if he could have one of the balls for his daughter and the coach didn’t respond ( because there were so many balls and he was probably going to give them one of the latter he picked up). So in New York fashion, the father started calling the coach a bum. I then asked the coach if he could: “toss a ball up for a Tigers fan.” He then responded by saying that I could thank the father for him not throwing the ball up to me. Had I been the first to ask, I am almost certain I would have ended up with the ball because there were just too many balls for him not to throw a few into the crowd. And yes, I was breifly considering using the glove trick on these balls.
Throughout all of bp there was rain coming down consistently.The Tigers finally ran off the field with about 40 minutes of bp left. I then focused all of my attention on a throwing pair down the line (don’t know for sure who they were because again I didn’t have my roster). I couldn’t identify the guy in the outfield so I just relied on my Tigers gear and started waving like a madman. I was like five feet from the back of the crowd on edge of the field and lined myself right up with his line of view so he could clearly see me. When he finished throwing, he kept his eyes on me and lobbed me the ball perfectly over the sea of people running after the ball because they thought they had been overthrown. I then caught it and waved/mouthed an emphatic “Thank You” from sixty feet out.
Then came the part that bothers me. I went back into the covered seats with the rest of the people hiding from the rain and was sitting there for at least 1/2 an hour to see if batting practice would resume. Then out of nowhere an usher came down to the seats and asked to see my ticket. I wasn’t doing anything but sitting there. I then told him that I didn’t have a ticket and he chuckled like he already knew the fact (I didn’t care that I was kicked out because I was going to go to the bleachers anyway because I was going with a guest). I then left and looked back. From what I could see, he only came down to check my ticket and go back up.
Maybe I’m just being paranoid but I think the Yankees have people constantly on cameras surveilling the seat to make sure that no one is in their precious field level seats that isn’t supposed to be there. If so, it is really over the top because I was not doing anything to disturb people, nor was I going to try. I grew up a Yankee fan and still root for the team, but geez, they are making it *really* difficult to keep rooting for them when the organization goes all OCD in security. The Yankees are the only MLB team that I know of that hires Securitas people to even be ushers. I know of some teams that hire out of office for some positions, but with the Yankees, they run the whole shebang. This was the only damper on the otherwise great night.
The original starters had been CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander, but because they began already and THEN postponed the game, Ivan Nova and Doug Fister replaced them. Even though I would have liked to see Verlander, Nova did a job that CC Sabathia would have gotten a curtain call for. The game was really cold for me because I had been in the rain and all my clothes were soaked and also the bleachers were soaked. This did make it a little less enjoyable game for me, but I was glad overall that I went. The last time I saw these two teams play was in the ALDS in 2006 some rookie pitcher that had won 17 games, named Verlander outdueled Mike Mussina to even out the series at 1 apiece. This game was really unenjoyable because, besides the fact that I was a much bigger Yankee fan and they lost, this game had also been rained out. In the rain out part, my dad and I were in the bleachers (for those who don’t know, the bleachers in the outfield at the old stadium were like an island isolated from the rest of the stadium and the concourse built on the inside of said island) and went down the tunnel to the concourse. Since it was raining, everyone else was also inside the tunnel and it was hot and humid on the concourse. Also, some people had started drinking even before the game had begun and one of those people was behind me. He didn’t act out or anything so how did I know he was drunk? All of a sudden, I felt a warm luquid on the achilles tendon of my right leg. He had just barfed all over the floor and my shoe. We then found out that game was postponed to a later day a few seconds after that. There is a bright side to this story, though. The game gave me a really good excuse to leave school early.
Anyway, I was happy with my one ball from a player that I later (semi) identified as Max Scherzer.
My next entry will probably be a recap of my first full season as a ballhawk.
Let’s just say that I won’t be in the mood for Yankee games for a while. First, there were three people in line at 4:50 for a playoff game last year. This was the line at 4:45 for the center field gate:
really don’t get how that can happen. That wasn’t that bad as most of
them didn’t go to the outfield for batting practice anyway (why do you
show up this early then?) Then when I optimistically entered the stadium
for a day of working on fly balls:
lucky if your eyes come back down with both retinas still fully
functioning. This made it nearly impossible for a skilled ballhawk to
catch a ball on the fly (without sunglasses) much less my unskilled
self. I lost three potential balls from this sun as I “had” to let them
drop and hope they stayed in place so I would be able to pick them up.
for toss-ups, normally Yankee player toss-ups are *very* (relatively
speaking) hard to come by as a wall of “here”s blasts as soon as the
player comes close to the ball but today it was just one fan. One kid
who seemed like a semi-regular by how the players recognized him, got
well over 50% of the toss-ups that went into the seats while I was
Finally, Curtis Granderson stepped in and hit a fly ball
to my right. I ran to the direction it was hit in, descended two rows
after I saw it touch base and beat out aforementioned “kid” to find it
tucked between the pads of the seat for Ball #1 on the day.
I wanted to stayed a bit as Rafael Soriano went into the bullpen to try and get a toss-up from the ball left in the bullpen:
but as I had no spot at a rail gap in right field because of Ben Weil and Tony Bracco,
and there was a mostly righty group of Yankees coming up, I made my way
over to left field. Absoltuamently nothing. Two Home Runs and for some
reason the White Sox didn’t throw any of their warm-up balls into the stands. Had there been any I wouldn’t been able to move that much because when I got there the rail gaps in left-center had already been taken.
3. Hope the guard to your right stops at a certain section
When they installed the second guard, they hoped he would make people just resign themselves to one side or the other and the guard stopped at a certain section and let the guys coming from left field get the people left in between them. This is the window where you would be able to just keep going left and out wait the guards but this security kept advancing until he met up with the left field guards. The result:
4. Get your ticket checked and be forced to leave.
Frus-tra-ting because of my false start to foul ground I wasn’t even allowed to go back and ask the other ballhawks if they could collaborate in getting me back into the field level seats. I tried going through the tunnel and asking them but apparently i wasn’t even allowed to stand in the tunnel leading to the section unless I had a ticket for that section.
Did not work. The Yankees have guards at every seat entrance (except for on the fourth level) well before the first pitch because they figure that if they charge so much for tickets than a person not sitting in their assigned tickets cost them that much more. Let’s do some math shall we? 137 entrances to the seats that have security guards (can we call it 140 for the sake of math) +1 supervisor for every ten openings+ 8 ticket checkers= 162 security guards for two hours before the game starts* even $6 per hour=$1,944 every game spent on security and I’m sure they make noticeably more than $6 per hour. That’s just the time from when the gates open until when the game begins.
7. Go back to your paid seat 5,000 feet from home plate:
After the fifth inning I got incredibly bored and frustrated that I was all the way in section 432a. So, I asked the invited if he had ever been to the Yankee museum. He didn’t even know they had one.
Some of the things I saw:
As we walked out of the museum, we immediately came upon then seats near the right field foul pole. I was scoping the area for lazy guards and what do you know, the first opening to the seats was security free. I pointed it out to my guest and we made quickly to our new seats.
That was it for me only one ball. By the way, I apologize for the lateness but Mlblogs has been acting up with the pictures again so I have had to work around those problems.
- 1 friggin ball at this game (#80)
- 19 balls in 8 games= 2.37 balls per game (Bleh)
- 33 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 7 games straight with at least on ball at Yankee Stadium
- 1 ball* 40,785 fans= 40,785 competition factor
- Time at Game 4:45- 10:22= 5 Hours and 37 Minutes
Not sure when my next game will be this weekend all depends on how Fordham does in a tournament.
Ah Sunday Night Baseball. The lights, the people, and the only game going on at that time. The ballhawk’s nightmare. First, there is the normal weekend crowd. Then, there is the Sunday Night Baseball crowd. Then, there’s the fact it is a Yankee game.
So a ballhawk like myself would have to get there extra early right? Well, I didn’t. I set myself up to get to the ballpark at 5:30 but because of the MTA’s modified 1 train schedule on weekends which has it not working from my station to the stop before Yankee Stadium. In a nutshell, I got to the ballpark at 6:24, my ticket blew away into the street as I was told to take out my phone. Not a good day to that point.
From this, it is no surprise that my first ball was thrown. Seeing little hope for Home Run snags, I headed over to foul ground to get a ball from the pitchers warming up. I initially lined up behind Neftali Feliz because of the Spanish factor but moved onto new pairs as the former pairs didn’t throw me a ball.
Finally, Mark Lowe saw my Ranger’s gear and tossed me his warm-up ball for Ball #1 on the day. I was relieved. It seemd like the perfect set of circumstances to get shutout.
I then moved back into fair territory and as this happened a ball came to Neftali Feliz. He threw it back but I managed to get in the words, “la proxima, por favor?” which translates to, “the next one please”. Within five minutes another ball came to him and he lofted it to me for Ball #2 on the day. I was ecstatic. I had just matched my season average in Yankee Stadium on the weekend.
Under the red arrow would be ESPN’s John Kruk picking his favorite seat of Yankee Stadium as he will every Sunday Night Baseball.
Here he is doing the actual segment:
The listed attendance was 40, 811 and for once it felt like that. This picture is from before the game and it is still pretty full:
The snagging room was as good as it ever will be because of the brief spurts of rain/lightning.
The view to my left:
The view to my right:
Sadly, the only ball that came within 100 ft of me went into the second level just as I thought I had it caught.
The game as all I have gone to at Yankee Stadium was indeed exciting. The Yankees won again by scoring a run in the eighth off of Arthur Rhodes.
Rangers 5 Yankees 6
As I left, I saw the set atop a parking garage of Baseball Tonight:
- 5 Balls at this game
- 11 Balls in 4 games so far this season= an average of 2.75 Balls Per Game
- 29 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 6 straight at Yankee Stadium (just to clarify I only got one ball at the old Yankee Stadium waaay before this blog so Yankee Stadium refers to the new one)
- Competition Factor 40811 fans* 5 balls= 204,055
- Time at game 6:24-11:14= 4 hours and 50 minutes
As soon as I took that picture a security guard said something that I thought was “Hi”. After a round of unsuccessful bp I headed over to left field for the second Yankee group. As I was headed out, the security guard:
I then went through a patch where neither Yankee nor Orioles were hitting balls to my part of left field. It was a group made out of all lefties except for one weak hitting righty. Since I wasn’t getting any toss-ups from the Orioles it was a tough bp. I think I probably should have been louder because it seemed like they always just missed my Orioles cap when scanning the crowd. Me not having my Orioles t-shirt didn’t exactly help either.
Then the power group came up. The group consisted of: Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, Caesar Izturis, and either Robert Andino or Adam Jones. This led to plenty of Home Runs to make up for the previous group. Most were out of my reach but several came into my axises of power. A few went over my head yadah, yadah.
Though, two came into my row. The first was hit by Derrek Lee two sections to my right (left if looking from home plate). I ran over and scooped it up as it trickled down back to my row for ball #2 on the day. The second, was hit by Mark Reynolds and actually landed in my row. So, I slid to get it before it rolled into the row in front of me. In the process of sliding I actually ripped the knee of my pants:
Although the pants were double layered, I can still say I would have been much happier on this specific ball if I had gotten it because I pretty scraped up, not on the slide but on banging my knee on the seat getting up.
I was in no mood to keep running around in the outfield. So seeing as it was the last group of bp, I got a head start on the end portion of bp. Nothing came of that. There I met up with Zack Hample and another ballhawk I had never met before named, Ben Weil (boys and girls, this is why you wear long pants even when it is warm outside:
(Can’t you tell a high quality camera picture when you see it. That would be both high quality photography and high quality camera.)
I stayed behind the Yankee dugout before the knee started hurting again and I knew I had to start moving to have it ready for the game (it was about 6:40 at the time). I abruptly left for right field because I knew there were two righties on the mound that day and the Yankees have many switch hitters.
From my spot in right I took time to laugh at those trapped in the bleachers I had been on my last trip to Yankee Stadium:
As far as the rest of the game goes, it was pretty good but for some reason the more I go to Yankee Stadium the less I am a fan of the Yankees themselves. Through this game, I was actually more disappointed that the Twins lost in a devastating fashion than the win the Yankees had. I was looking up here all game:
After the end Rafael Soriano threw a ball into my part of right field as he left the bullpen:
I didn’t want to get in front of the person who it was intended for so I let him try and catch it but he missed it completely and so neither of us got it.
Yankees 6 Orioles 5
- 2 Balls at this game
- 2.0 Balls Per game
- 28 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 5 straight games at Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
- Competition Factor: 81,034
- Time at Game: 4:30-10:30 Six hours