Tagged: Zack Hample

8/13/12 Rangers at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

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

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

From the left field seats, this was my view:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My next close encounter came just minutes later:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATS:
• 2 Balls at this game

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Numbers 361-362 for my career:

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

8/12/12 Braves at Mets: Citi Field

I thought I’d start off the entry with a “Before the Gates Open” video:

You just saw me snag my first ball of the day. On my second ball for the day, here’s what happened:

I ranged over a section and lined myself up with the ball. However, the lady in the picture was camped underneath the ball, so I didn’t reach in front of her. Instead, I waited for the ball to clank off her hands, picked it up, and gave it to her for even trying to catch the ball ( I almost didn’t, though because she started whining right as I picked up the ball that it wasn’t fair that I got the ball).

Then things went really dead. Nothing came even close to me. The boringness of this span is reflected by the only picture I took during it:

I don’t even really pay attention to Olney’s work as I don’t really watch baseball on ESPN anymore, but on this day he was “news”.

My next ball was my weirdest and perhaps most controversial of the season. Here is a picture to help visualize what I’m about to explain next:

A ball flew into the row behind the guy in the orange shirt (I was in the row below him). It then trickled down the steps, beneath the seats. It got all the way down to my row, so I grabbed the ball. The guy below the arrow then grabbed the ball as well, so, as I have always does this season, counted the ball and let go of the ball (I do this to avoid a system that may lead to confrontational or otherwise ugly situations for me). Then a weird thing happened. He said something like, “you got the ball first; here you go”. Then instinctually, since I don’t accept balls from other fans, I gave the ball away:

Later, on the recommendation of Zack, who I mentioned in the video, I moved over to the center field section for Juan Francsico’s swings. While I was there, either Francisco or another lefty hit a ball:

I ran up to the rail and leaned as far as I could with the railing at my upper stomach, but my black glove was just floppy enough that the ball hit the pocket but pulled my thumb flap back and the ball dropped and ran all the way to the home run apple. It’s frustrating to know that I would have had the ball with my old glove.

 

Anyway, the game itself was pretty interesting. I always love being at Sunday Night Baseball games. I don’t know why. Probably because I don’t have to get to the ballpark as early as I would have for a 7:00 game and the fact that I know I’m at the only night MLB game in the whole country. Given it was a SNB game, I decided to take a picture of the blimp hovering over my head:

 

As for the game, the Mets shelled the previously stellar Ben Sheets, but, in typical Mets fashion let their bullpen make things interesting. Until the ninth inning, the Mets were leading 6-1, but then the Mets’ relievers managed to walk and allow to score four Braves.

 

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave 2 away)

 

Numbers 358-360 in my life:

 

  • 137 Balls in 31 Games= 4.42 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 24,891= 74,673 Competition Factor
  • 40 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 16 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 85 Balls in 32 Games at Citi Field= 2.66 Balls Per Game
  • 32 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
  • 4 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 2 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Citi Field
  • Time Spent On Game 4:13- 12:17= 8 Hours 4 Minutes

7/13/12 Angels at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

I had just spent five games in Washington the previous week, so it was time to come back to Janky Stadium (yes, that’s how I meant to spell it) for a couple of games. Can’t you tell how thrilled I am at that prospect?

20120717-113618.jpgIn addition, it was Friday the 13th. Usually, I have really good luck on Friday the 13th. This one, though, wouldn’t go as well.

First of all, I couldn’t find my glove at home, so I brought two surrogates:
1. A glove I bought on Ebay for $12. After two sessions of catch, I understood why it was listed for only $12, even though it was brand-new. The padding in the glove is non-existent, and it rips about as easily as paper. I had only used the glove thrice before this game, and look at the rips it already had:

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20120717-114414.jpgJust in case this glove completely tore open when I used it, I also brought a second glove. Go ahead, laugh. I deserve it:

20120717-114615.jpgHowever, it wasn’t my weird gloves that was the main sight at the gate. Check out this three-part picture showing the line outside Gate 6:

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20120717-115122.jpgHo-ly pop tarts. That is a HUGE line. Fortunately, I had gotten there pretty early and I was at the front of the line. This also saved friend and ballhawk, Ben Weil, who showed up a minute before the gates opened. He just hopped in line with me.

When I saw what was happening in the next picture,I figured it might have been because of Hat Day:

20120717-123335.jpgwhich brings up this: I must have gone to every Yankees Hat Day for the past two years. I am ALWAYS at Yankee Stadium when it’s Hat Day. I know I’ve already gone to four of them this year. Also, do you see the ticket scanner the guard is leaning against in that last picture. Well I was the first one to use it and even though it dinged when I scanned my ticket, the turnstile got stuck, so I couldn’t pass. Ben had gone through the guard sans turnstile, so he got out to right field before me. Here’s what he got there:

20120717-123741.jpgThanks, Ben. Really appreciate it.

 

Did you notice what was going on behind Ben? Here’s a better look:

20120717-124656.jpgThat’s right: nothing. Less than a minute after I got to the right field seats, the Yankees inexplicably stopped hitting.

So, Ben and I headed over to the third base dugout to see what the Angels would bring us. On the way, though, I noticed something weird. The Yankees had essentially put “For Sale” signs on certain seats. Except the seats in right field were more expensive than those in foul territory:

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20120717-130309.jpgBen explained to me that there is more of a demand for seats in home run territory, so they cost more. Sure, I don’t know the pricing for many other stadiums, but I’ve never seen this done anywhere else before. It’s clever and intelligent of the Yankees, but I don’t like it.

When we got over to the dugout, we met Zack Hample, who had gone in through a different entrance, since he wanted to start off in the left field seats.

Right after we got there, Zack started playing catch with a coach. Here’s a picture I took of him throwing the ball:

20120717-133659.jpgbut then I started to take a video of it. The entirety of which is on Zack’s account of the game.

After that, this was the most exciting thing going on on the field:

20120717-134859.jpgso the three of us goofed off to kill time.

Here is a picture Zack took of the two of us, where Ben is stepping on a ledge to try to be taller than me:

20120717-135539.jpgWhat do you think? Did he succeed? The brim of his hat is clearly above my head, but is his actual head higher? I’d say we’re the same height in this picture.

After that silliness, all three of us yelled out to both Steve Phillips and Cecil Fielder to try to get their attention. When we yelled out: “Steve Phillips nice hair.” we got no acknowledgement, but when we yelled: ” Hey, Cecil!” Fielder waved at us.

After all three of us got rejected by every player on the Angels pitching staff, it was time to try to catch some hit balls. It wasn’t nearly as easy as I hoped it would be. In my imagination, I was in a nearly-empty section as Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout peppered the seats with one ball after another. In reality, however, there weren’t that many balls hit into the seats, and this is what the seats looked like:

20120717-142002.jpgNot only was this not nearly empty, but it was actually the most packed I had ever seen Yankee Stadium, and it’s YANKEE STADIUM!

Batting Practice was over and I was seriously doubting my ability extend my streak. Yankee Stadium is in the top-5 toughest ballparks to get a ball during the game at. I had a bleacher ticket, so I was pretty well set I was going to get a ball from Mike Harkey or get shut out.

Actually, neither happened. I snuck down to the right field bullpen, because I remembered there were a gazillion balls in there:

20120717-190713.jpgSurely enough, the groundskeeper threw me one of the balls:

20120717-190951.jpgThere would be no shutout at Yankee Stadium.

As for the game, I was in the bleachers and they were absolutely packed:

20120717-191506.jpgI mean the odds of me getting a ball out there, even with the Angels’ duo were pretty slim, but I’d always prefer to have an emptier section for mobility purposes.

While I was in the bleachers, I saw a couple of interesting things go up on the scoreboard. Here’s the first:

20120717-193452.jpgMy first thought was: “Wow, that’s impressive.” My second thought was: “How the heck do you have ‘approximately’ 36 home runs robbed?” If the number were an estimate, I would think it would be rounder, or is the stat inherently inconstant, so they just put this on there as if to say, “we’ve counted 36 for him, but some might not have gone over the wall and others might have, but that’s human error.” If it’s the latter, why don’t they put this on any other stat that is subject to human interpretation, like errors?

Here’s the second:

20120717-195046.jpgHow often do you see a pitcher’s innings as a number repeated four times. I think it’s cool.

How do you know it was a slow day for me snagging? When I do a lot of pictured-based writing. Here’s another paragraph of it:

I meant to just get a picture of the highest I’ve ever seen a Yankee Stadium spout water. Instead, what I got was an optical illusion:

20120717-201439.jpgThe water looks like it’s going into that puddle in the middle of the fountain, right? It’s actually in mid-air and about to fall into the shadow at the bottom of the screen caused by the indent in the metal.

Back to snagging, I tried to get a ball from the Angels’ bullpen people, but as they left, I noticed a ball on the center field side of the bullpen, so I tried to convince a policeman to toss me the ball. He picked it up and then stood in front of the bullpen as such:

20120717-202855.jpgEventually, he turned around and it became apparent he was just joking around in not tossing me the ball right away. Here is a picture Zack took right after the toss:

20120717-203459.jpgIt’s VERY hard to pick out, but Zack identified the ball as the very faint streak going across the officer taking the picture’s uniform. Here’s my picture right after I got the ball:

20120717-203745.jpgIt’s hard to explain, but even though it isn’t the darkest ball I’ve ever gotten, I think it’s the dirtiest ball I’ve ever gotten in term of the amount of actual *dirt* you can see on the ball.

After this game, I actually stayed around a bit after the game ended. I then got to feel the experience of being in a pretty much empty stadium. It was great:

20120717-204341.jpgI then went to this situation’s polar opposite in the New York transit system:

20120717-205529.jpg

STATS:
• 2 Balls at this game

20120717-213748.jpgNumbers 341 and 342 for my “career”:

20120717-213904.jpg• 120 Balls in 25 Games= 4.80 Balls Per Game (or 5 balls under “ballhawk’s 500”)
• 2 Balls x 47,873 Fans= 95,746 Competition Factor
• 34 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 10 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 77 Balls in 20 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.85 Balls Per Game
• 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at New Yankee Stadium
• 5 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:32-11:13= 7 Hours 41 Minutes

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

After taking a rare day off from baseball this week, it was back to Yankee Stadium for me. Look who I ran into at the gate:

That would be, right to left (because it will be less confusing that way):

1. George- A ballhawk who had been at the game Tuesday. Also, this would be his last game of the year, since he would be headed off to China to take part in a program, I believe the University of Bejing was putting on and would be off to St. John’s University after that.

2. Zack Hample– Just the reason I started ballhawking and this blog exists. No big deal.Also,as you can see, he is holding up a catcher’s glove. He is going to attempt a stunt today (July, 2, 2012). More specifically, he will be trying to catch a ball dropped from 1,000 feet high.
3+4. George’s friends, Stephen and Dylan. Pretty self-explanatory. I had seen these guys at a couple of other New York baseball games before, so, like George, they are “semi-regulars”
5. Mateo Fischer- The person who’s writing this sentence.

Since there were so many of us ballhawks at the gate, we split up into two groups. Zack and I went to left field, everyone else (including George’s dad, Jeff, who took the picture) went to right field. Zack took the top spot on the main left field staircase, so I took the bottom one. Therefore this was the view straight ahead of me:

20120702-180459.jpg

and this was the view to my left:

Do you see the guy in the corner of the section? Well, he actually got a ball that was intended for me. I diagrammed the whole thing out for you in this next picture:

The player in the right part of the screen would be Freddy Garcia. Well, when he went over to the spot I marked with the number “1”, I called out to him and he threw a ball he meant to throw to me. Unfortunately, as you can see by the path of the ball I’ve outlined, his throw came up short, fell into the first row, and the man I mentioned before picked it up. Right after this, Zack said, “How does it feel to have a player throw a ball to you and miss?” He was of course referencing the game earlier that week, where the Indians’ pitching coach had overthrown him and I ended up with the ball. Oh, if only Zack knew what would happen later on in this game…

After this, Garcia made up for missing me and tossed me a second ball he retrieved:

After that, a ball was hit, and I initially judged it would land in front of me, so I ran down a few steps. I then realized it was going back to where I had been standing. (Zack had actually gone elsewhere, so I was standing in the higher spot on the staircase for this ball.) I tried to back up, but it was too late, and the ball landed in this seat:

There, a kid (not pictured) beat me to the ball. Words cannot describe how frustrated I was with myself for botching such an easy play. I didn’t show any of it, though. I’m not really one to make a scene out of my frustration. Most of the exclamations of frustration I say out loud don’t carry a necessarily connotation to them.

Anyway, I then moved over to foul ground when the White Sox started hitting. I didn’t have a White Sox shirt, so I transformed a T-Shirt that I had picked up while I was in Baltimore.I turned the T-Shirt inside-out , and the rest of what I did can be seen in this two-part picture:

A pretty nice homemade White Sox shirt, eh? Especially when you consider I made it on the train ride to Yankee Stadium.

;

Actually, though, my “White Sox gear” didn’t help me get any baseballs from the White Sox. The only ball I got was actually intended for another person. More specifically, it was intended for Zack. Here I am with the ball and Zack beneath the arrow:

Just as I thought I had been shutout by the White Sox players, I started heading back to the left field seats. I was at this point a section away from Zack and probably ten rows behind him. Just then, I saw him get Don Cooper, the White Sox’s pitching coach’s attention. I figured I might as well position myself behind Zack in case of an overthrow. Well, Cooper DID overthrow Zack. What happened next is diagrammed in this next picture:

As you can see, I’ve drawn two curved lines into the picture. The one on the left shows where the ball initially hit after Cooper released it. It hit in a row almost exactly between Zack and I. Had it stayed there, it would have been a race between Zack and I, which he as the faster one would have won. Except, the ball bounced just right on the plastic part of the chair as to send it the path of the second line, right into the row I was running in. Obviously, I picked up the ball, but I also felt *really* bad for Zack. I’ve been on the other end of some of those and it stinks, to say the least.

When I got back to left field, it had gotten a bit more crowded. This was the view to my left:

20120703-122822.jpg
and to my right:

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

Behind me were two other ballhawks:

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

Anyway, after misjudging another ball that both Stephen AND I missed, I caught an Alexei Ramirez home run on the fly in the spot where I took the last three pictures from:

20120703-123826.jpg
I then saw Adam Dunn’s group coming up, so I headed over to right field. It was extremely frustrating for the most part, because although he WAS hitting home runs, they were all sailing over my head into the bleachers.

While, I was there, though, I saw a player turn around to search the crowd for a fan to toss a baseball to, so I started running to the side and waving my arms around to get him to notice me. He saw me and threw me a ball through a sea of reaching arms:

20120703-124445.jpg
He is the player with his glove covering his face. Who is “he”? I later identified the player as Jose Quintana. While I was looking him up, I found out he is actually Colombian. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll know I am actually Colombian, so it is always very special to get a ball from a Colombian player, especially a pitcher. What made it even more special was when I put that ball into my mygameballs.com account, it didn’t recognize him as a player, so I can say I was the first one on the site to get a ball from him. That’s pretty cool, in my opinion.

I then got a ball- not on the fly- hit by whoever was the “other” lefty in the group besides Adam Dunn. After which, one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen happened. I won’t diagram this for you, but here’s a picture of where it happened:

20120703-130351.jpg
Do you see the metal bar that is going right over the “Toyota” sign? Gordon Beckham hit an opposite-field home run that hit that bar and the popped straight up in the air. I had a beat on it, but the guy in the bottom right corner of the picture dove backwards into a seat and caught the ball.

After that, I caught an Adam Dunn home run on the fly and immediately gave it away to a kid who had also been pursuing it. Both he and his father thanked me. It was a pretty nice experience. So nice, in fact, that after security kicked everyone out of the right field seats, I gave another ball away on my way to the bleachers.

Once I got to the bleachers, the White Sox had ended their session of batting practice in lieu of something much weirder:

20120703-131230.jpg
Fielding practices in it of themselves are pretty rare before MLB games. This was even weirder because the White Sox were taking fielding practice WITHOUT ANY BASEBALLS. The coaches were hitting imaginary balls to the players, who were then executing a play. Weird.

In the bleachers, I tried to get a ball from the grounds person, and I thought there was no way I wouldn’t with so many baseballs in the bullpen:

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

My next stop was the top of the batter’s eye, where I would try to get Mike Harkey to throw me a ball. Harkey is the guy standing on the bench in the bullpen:

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

Thanks to a friend who wasn’t going to be at the game, and gave me his ticket as a result, here’s where I sat:

20120703-133339.jpg
Pretty nice, huh?

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

20120703-133537.jpg
It was caught by the person sitting next to the guy who’s standing up. Actually, the word “caught” doesn’t accurately describe the situation. Someone had the ball bounce off their chest. Then five people piled onto each other until he finally came out with the ball.

After the game, I moved over next to the bullpen to try to get a ball from bullpen coach, Juan Nieves, but he completely ignored me. While he was waiting for Mark Salas, who was still readying himself in the bullpen, and I was yelling my head off trying to get his attention; a second guy, who also looked like a bullpen catcher, looked at me. He then put down his oversized bag, unzipped it, and pulled out a ball he then threw to me. He’s the guy trailing Salas and Nieves in the following picture:

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Yay, happy ending!

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

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numbers 306-312:

20120703-152309.jpg
• 90 Balls at 18 Games= 5 Balls Per Game
• 27 straight games with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight games with at least 2 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 7 Balls
• 68 Balls in 18 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.78 Balls Per Game
• 18 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 7 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:59- 10:56= 6 Hours 57 Minutes

6/19/12 Braves at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

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

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

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

20120620-132120.jpg

From left to right, that would be:

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

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

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

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

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

20120620-140945.jpg

20120620-141415.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Stats:

;


• 1 Ball at this game

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Number 269 for my life:

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

The game formerly known as 6/16/12 Reds at Mets: Citi Field

Ah, welcome to Sh… excuse me, Citi Field:

I was planning to get the $10 student ticket for this game. When I got there, though, those tickets were sold out, and the cheapest tickets were $37. Neither did I have the money, nor would I have paid that price had I brought enough money.

There I found myself in the situation of being at Citi Field with nothing to do. I figured that as long as I was there, I could take a tour around the stadium, since I had never been fully around Citi Field. Also, fun fact: up to this point in the season, I had taken more trips to Citi Field when I didn’t enter the stadium than I had to actually enter the stadium and go to the game. I had only gone to one game there so far, but I had gone once to pick up my six-game ticket plan and now this time.

My tour started off by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which is behind home plate. I then went down the first base side of the stadium:

On this side, there was…

The team store:

The Hodges V.I.P. entrance:

and whatever this thing is:

I then had to go around a parking lot, which I suspect may have been the players’ parking lot. I have two pictures here if anyone can confirm or deny this:

After passing that, I came upon the right field gate:

I then kept walking until I passed the Bullpen Gate:

I also took a picture of the picnic area just inside the gate:

Did you notice anything in that last picture? No? Here’s a closer look:

Apparently there was some pitcher working in the bullpen. I had half a mind to throw on my Reds gear and ask one of the coaches for a ball, but I knew I would then have to count this game in my stats, and there was really no hope of me getting another ball, since I wasn’t going to enter the stadium, thus probably not being worth my while. I guess it would have been a cool story. I think I’ll have to try that sometime in the future. I don’t think anyone has gotten a ball at Citi Field before the gates open, and it would be great to be that first person.

I then walked right behind the play area in dead-center:

Behind me at this point, was the huge collection of auto-related establishments. I’ve already blogged about this, so I didn’t feel as obligated to take a picture of this, so I didn’t. I then came across something I really wasn’t expecting to find.

As I walked behind the left field portion of the stadium, I saw this right here:

I figure out that it was the employees’ entrance. As I kept walking, I saw a checkpoint where there were two security guards checking to make sure only employees were passing:

I then passed by the left field gate, which, little known fact, I have actually entered through before:

After which, I passed by the Stengel V.I.P. entrance:

Here’s the view from the Stengel gate looking towards the JRR (Jackie Robinson Rotunda):

I must say, for all the things they mess up on, the Mets are pretty solid with letting you know where you are on the outside of the stadium. First of all, there are these map things:

then they also have these directional thingys:

So yeah, I just complemented the Mets on something. Maybe the apocalypse is this year.

As I kept walking, I passed the Seaver V.I.P entrance:

and then I was back to the ticket booth that denied me a $10 ticket. Here is my poor attempt at word play:

Then I was back at the Rotunda where I had started. I do want to explain a more minute detail of Citi Field to everyone, though. Outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, there are these funny looking patterns on the sidewalk:

Before Citi Field opened, the Mets made it so you could buy one of the little stones within one of those patterns. The darker ones cost one price and the lighter ones cost a different, presumably higher, price. Therefore, they each have a different message on them. Here are two examples:

Oh, and just because I can, here are two signs that are useless to 80% (or more) of people, but whose function is simply to idiot-proof Citi Field. I will give no further explanation:

That was it for my tour around Citi Field. I *was* then going to hop back on the train to go to Manhattan, but I saw Garrett Meyer and Zack Hample, so I stopped to chat with them at the gate until it opened. I didn’t take any pictures for myself and this blog, but I took the opening picture in Zack’s entry of the game. After the gates opened, I actually did get on the train and an hour-and-a-half later, I was back at home.

4/30/12 Orioles at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

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.

STATS:

  • 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