Tagged: Zack Hample

4/19/12 Twins at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

There are truly not many match-ups that I am more excited to see, except for maybe the teams ordered vice-versa in their presentation, i.e. the Twins being the home team:

Who cares what I do in bp? The game itself is great because my two favorite teams are playing. [Let me just clarify that Twins-Yankees is my favorite match-up that I have *attended*. There are other match-ups that in my head seem better to watch, but I haven’t seen those teams play live before.] That said, lettuce explore what happened in bp, shall we?

Like I usually do, I started in RF.  Here is a map of the four balls I had a reasonable shot at snagging while in those seats:

1. Some lefty hit a ball to my left (right in the picture). It landed and I beat out a guy for the ball. I felt like I kind of squeezed by him into the row where the ball landed and he would  have gotten the ball had I not, so I ended up giving him the ball. Here is a picture with an arrow showing where the ball hit from where I was standing when I was in RF:

2. I believe I was on my way back to my usual spot from chasing a ball close to the “1” spot in the picture…anyway, I ran to my right (left in the picture) and was tracking a HR ball. (When I say HR ball, that does not mean it was during the game. A HR, when refered to on this blog just means a ball that clears the fence on the fly, batting practice or otherwise. I wanted to clarify this since I know I was confused by it when I started reading ballhawk blogs.) I was tracking and drifting towards the ball. Suddenly, I saw a person coming from my right corner of my eye. I slowed down as to not reach in front of this person, hoping he/she dropped the ball. Since I was wearing peripheral vision impairing sunglasses, I couldn’t identify the person without taking my eye off the baseball mid-flight. The person caught the ball, and I looked over to see the glove belonged to Zack Hample.

3. Once again a lefty hit a ball to my right and over my head a bit. I ran over, and as everyone was converging, the ball plopped down into the seats. The Field Level seats at Yankees Stadium are all padded, so the ball often sticks there. Such was the case in this situation. After everyone in pursuit realized it wasn’t bouncing anywhere, we all started searching for it in and beneath the seats. For some reason, everyone else was just looking for it. I myself, meanwhile, was smacking the seats down to reveal the baseball if it had indeed stuck within one of the seats. After about the third seat that I hit, I saw the baseball wedged perfectly in between two parts of the seat’s metal skeleton and picked it up. Here is a picture from where I started running after the ball with an arrow showing where it landed:

4. A ball was hit to the wall in RF and Liam Hendricks went to retrieve it. I went down to try to convince him to toss me the ball. This request worked as he looked right at me and underhanded the ball. It was headed right to me, but just as the ball was arriving, a kid reached in front of me and caught the ball. Here is a picture of the kid and location. I was standing immediately to the right of where he is in the picture:

5. The same beginning as chance #4, but this time Jeff Gray went to retrieve it. As was my ritual in these situations, I went down to the wall and asked him nicely for the ball. When I do these things, I’m sure to look right at the player I’m trying to convince. Just as he tossed the ball to another fan, I heard a “ping” right behind me. I had been hearing from al the people in the RF seats how Denard Span had only hit 5 balls out of the infield in the last batting practice-or something like that-, and as a result, I didn’t think he would hit anything out, but evidently, he got hold of one ball and it hit literally RIGHT behind me. Here are two pictures. The first is where I was standing, the second is where the ball hit (both taken from the same location):

That’s it for my adventures in RF. I did, however, take an excursion to LF between chances 3 and 4. While there, I only had one “real” chance at a ball and capitalized on it. Here is where this occurred:

The larger arrow is where the ball landed and I snagged the ball. The smaller arrow to the left of that is the lady (occluded by her husband) who I gave the ball away to since she was hot in pursuit as well.

That would prove to be the last ball of the day for me. The biggest reason was: I couldn’t tell who anyone was on the Twins. As a product of this, I couldn’t call them by their first names and it was less likely that they would throw me any given ball. You may be thinking “But Mateo, you have a roster of the players, how can you not tell who is who?” To this I offer the response, can *you* name two of the players in this next picture? I had a roster with the pictures of the players and could only name one.:

I realize that the question I ask was semi-rhetorical, but if you did take it as a challenge, I don’t know the name of the player walking in the top right part of the picture, but the names of the other three (going left to right) are:

1. Matt Maloney

2. Jared Burton

3. Nick Blackburn

After batting practice was over, I headed up to my assigned seat in the LF bleachers. There I eyed the five balls that were just laying in the Twins’ bullpen. At this point, I was thinking, “I’m the only one with Twins gear in the entire region surrounding the bullpen, if more than one Twin picks up all the balls.” Silly Mateo, ideas like this are for stadiums that aren’t in New York. What happened instead was that this guy picked up all the balls and threw them all to people with Yankee gear on:

I then had nothing else to do, so I watched Anthony Swajgagjsioetioak (Swarzak), the Twins starting pitcher, warm up from the bleachers:

Then I realized where I was standing. I was pretty much in THE spot where Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th career hit. Due to this, I felt the obligation to take a picture of the field from there:

As for the game, it started VERY well, with the Twins scoring four runs before the Yankees even got to bat. That was more than I had seen them score in TWO GAMES in Baltimore! I was pretty comfortable thinking that the Twins would win the first game against the Yankees that I was in attendance for since Johan Santana was pitching for them. Not only this, but a win in this game would also give the Twins a win in a four game series against the Yankees. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened for at least a decade, if not more.  After the first inning was over, though, the Twins only lead the game by one run:

The Yankees would go on two win the game 7-6. The story of the day, however, was Curtis Granderson. Just look at what the scoreboard said when he came up in the sixth inning:

That’s right. He had three HRs in his first three at-bats, and would go on to go five for five on the day, tacking on two singles.

What was I doing during the game? At school I made a little sign for the game. Here is what I looked like for most of the game:

For those who don’t know, Bert Blyleven is the one of the Twins announcers and  it is common for him to circle fans in the stands. I don’t know when it began, but since he started, it is customary that Twins fans bring “Circle Me Bert” signs to the ballpark in hopes of having him circle them using his telestrator. The phenomenon has grown big enough that it has its own website. Here is a semi-clearer picture of the sign while it was off my head:

I have no idea if I was circled or not, but it was fun looking like an idiot for a game and explaining to half of the people in the LF bleachers what “Circle Me Bert” meant and who “Bert” was. Oh, and as I was writing this entry Zack (as in the Hample one I mention earlier) published his entry about this game, so here is the link to it.

STATS:

  • 3 balls this game (1 here in a picture that I took in Homeroom, because I would later give that away to my baseball coach)

which put me up to 234 career baseballs (this particular ball is #233, but you can’t see my writing on the ball due to the lighting):

  • 12 balls this year in 3 games= 4 Balls Per Game.
  • 12 straight games with at least 1 ball.
  • 3 straight games with at least 3 baseballs.
  • 3 balls* 40,237 fans= 120,981 Competition Factor
  • 26 Balls obtained in 9 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 2.89 Balls Per Game
  • Time at Game 4: 21- 10:33= 6 hours 12 minutes

Ballhawk Charities 2012

The past two offseasons I’ve thought about doing a ball-snagging related charity effort, but I didn’t want to possibly take away from the funds source of the others raising money for my charity. So, I created this monstrosity:

It was my little consolation for not creating a charity, since it does not require monetary effort, but considering my readers have only offset 20 pounds of Carbon Monoxide (which is a lot for how little it weighs, but is nothing compared to how much is in the atmosphere), I’ll take that down unless anyone has any objections and plug these ballhawks’ charities instead.

So who are these ballhawks and what are they’re charitites? Here they are:

Ballhawk Shawn:

Charity-Pitch In For Baseball.

Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball.

Baseballs in 2011- 293

Let me take an excerpt from his blog entry about his charity work this year:

But what does Pitch In for Baseball do?

Direct from their website:

We ship new and gently used equipment to children all over the world, as well as here in the U.S. Anyone is eligible, so long as your community has a genuine need for youth baseball and softball equipment and the kids want to have fun. We normally work with leagues and programs in the community that have the ability to distribute the equipment and have a demonstrated track record of working with kids.

Speaking of his blog entry, ther is no way I could encapsulate what any of these people are doing with their charity better than they can, so here is a screen shot of (the top of) the entry:

, and here is a link to the entry so you can check it out for yourself (or selves if you want to refer anyone you know).

Wayne Peck:

Charity- Seattle Humane Society “Snagging Baseballs for Puppies”.

Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball and Charity Auction.

Baseballs in 2011- 136

The humane society is pretty self-explanatory, but if you don’t know what they do; they work on the prevention of animal abuse and providing support for abused animals in general.

Here is a screen shot of his charity page since he hasn’t written an entry on it since the World Series:

So if you would like to read that entry, here is the link.

Zack Hample:

Charity- Pitch In For Baseball.

Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball with automatic entry into a raffle with donation based on amount donated.

Balls in 2011- 1,157. I think I just made myself dizzy writing that number. Anyway, this will most likely not be anywhere near the number it will be in 2011, so don’t worry about going bankrupt.

See Shawn’s description of Pitch In For Baseball’s mission, as Zack is fund raising fro the same charity.

Here is a screen shot of Zack’s entry on his charity work:

and here is the link to said entry for you to read about the donation process.

Zac Weiss:

Charity-The Children’s Institute

Method of Payment- Pledge Per Ball, One-time Contribution, or you can bid on items and the money that you pay for it goes to the Children’s Institute.

Balls in 2011-137

The Children’s Institute is an organization that helps children that are behind others of their age in certain skillssuch as learning, motor, etc.

Here is a screen shot of Zac’s entry on the charity:

and although the entire entry is contained within the screen shot, here is the link, because the entry has links to some of his other pages where he manages the charity from. A general note on any of the screen shots: If When have trouble reading them, click on the picture and you can zoom in to read it just fine, or, better yet, click on the link provided below all of them and read the whole entry as it is meant to be read.

Naturally I encourage anyone reading this to donate to at least one of their charities (why else would I be writing it?), I will personally be donating to all of them as my contribution to charity. Also, if you are interested anyone of these charities, or really like the cause, but don’t think you can donate to them, spread the word. The only thing that can come from doing so is good.

8/26/11 Braves at Mets: Citi Field

Just a few conscious moments after my last game in Washington, I magically teleported to Citi Field:

 I really wanted to stay in Washington and go to the majesty of Camden Yards but no. I had made arrangements with the now former pitching coach at Fordham Prep and had to be at Citi Field for this game because the next two had already been cancelled because of the threat Hurricane Irene posed on New York (I won’t get into what it actually because I’ve had worse thunderstorms).

Once I got in I made a beeline (or something like that), to Right Field and quickly got Lucas Duda to throw me a ball. I’m sorry that this is the only picture of the ball I have but Paint decided to stop responding while I was editing it and I only have this left as a product:

You can partially see the ball in my glove and Duda is under the red arrow.

I don’t know how quickly I did, but I did move over to the Left Field bleachers soon after. This is where things really slowed down. There were, I believe, Six other ballhawks at this game and the running lanes were clogged up as a result. It wasn’t that slow of a batting practice but there was just nowhere to move. When the Braves’  pitchers warmed up along the third base line I got Erik Hinske to toss me a ball that one of them overthrew. I was really happy about this because it almost guaranteed I would get another baseball because none of the pitchers saw me get it and so they would have no reason to not throw me a ball.

Apparently they did as that was in fact the last ball of my day. This was mainly because I wanted to stay in Left Field for as long as I could in bp because with six other ballhawks I knew I would lose my better than average spot and I would have to stand like 600 feet from Home Plate to have room to run a few sections. However, it was not any of the ballhawks at all but this guy:

that was the bane of my existence. Twice was I tracking a ball in mid-air and sure that I was going to catch it. Twice did I look to my left at the last moment to be stopped in my pursuit by this group just to see that guy (in a Red Sox hat) catch a Home Run without moving from his seat. Though, I guess I can’t blame him for just being there because I could have gone in the row in front of him and jumped up for the ball had I looked in that direction prior to the balls being hit there but I’m telling you that both would have been easy catches on the fly had I had the room to do so but such is life at Citi Field.

On top of that, the Braves weren’t throwing many baseballs to anyone over the age of 12 and even to these kids they were not throwing much. Towards the end of bp my guest (or maybe it was the other way around?) arrived and once bp ended we went almost directly to our seats. His actual name would be Chris Cositore and he is now the former pitching coach at Fordham (prep) because he just gratuated from Fordham (university) and is going on with his life blah, blah,blah. Anyway, here he is:

In case you can’t tell where we are, the seats were down the first base line and a bit closer to the outfield than the dugout. I don’t usually sit on this side of the field but the tickets were provided by the same guest that I had on this game and I’ll never pass up a deal to sit in good seats and not have to deal with Citi Field security for no additional cost.

A funny thing about this game involving Chris is that at the beginning of the game he started counting down the number of hitters for a perfect game. So when Chris Capuano (the Mets pitcher) got the first out he told me, “only 26 batters for a perfect game. He told me for every batter. When he got up to get food, he texted me the number every time an out was made. This was kind of his retaliation because he is just loyal enough of a Mets fan where you can make “your team stinks” jokes and they make sense but he doesn’t really take offense to them because he acknowledges the fact but he this was his obligatory retaliation. The way he announced it was before the game saying we were going to see the Mets’ first no-hitter. He was almost right. Capuano pitched a complete game shutout allowing only two hits. I went to the dugout after the game but didn’t get anything because:

1. Capuano wanted to (I assume) keep the game ball because he just pitched one of his best games ever.

2. The umpire tunnel is on the other side of the field on the third base side of the Field level seats.

3. The Mets relievers don’t got through the dugout to the clubhouse because there is a tunnel behind the bulpen that leads directly to the clubhouse and they have no need for going through the dugout.

Regardless, this was my view after the game:

After I eventually conceeded to the fact that there would be no more ball snagging opportunites, Chris and I got our picture taken by one of the “hospitality attendant”s. This was the first attempt that he described as: “a little dark”:

We then decided to move back where the light was (and I secretly ignited a great setting called “flash”) and this was the end product:

And I got the very rare luxury of getting driven home. Of course, it really wasn’t my house because I was staying over with friends. Anyway, that capped of my day at Citi. I then got to spend the next few days in Hurricane mode.

8/25/11 Diamondbacks at Nationals: Nationals Park

This was now the third and final game of the redeem-my-horrible-roadtrip series. Since the previous two games had been overall disappointments/failures,  this was the game that I was going to break out. That all went down the drain when out came the rain. When I arrived I thought the Nationals were actually going to take batting practice and I had good reason because as the red arrow in this picture shows, the cages were at one time indeed up:

I also noticed but could not take a picture of, the Nationals pitchers warming up ahead of schedule. I didn’t mind it at the time because they knew me and we were going to have batting practice even though it was slightly moist in the air and the constant threat of rain hung over our heads.

That picture was taken 30 minutes before the gate opened. In the meantime, I was waiting in line from a position from where I could not see what was happening. When I arrive to the field I found out the unfortunate truth:

The good news was that, as you can see, the Diamondbacks came out to throw and I wouldn’t have to wait out it the cold dampness in anticipation. I did have some competition out there but I got the weirdest ball by far. I was prepared to wait until the last pair finished and get my one ball but out of nowhere, Jeff Motuzas, the Diamonbacks bullpen catcher, threw me a ball. I believe none of the other ballhawks had gotten a ball yet, neither had I asked for the ball. To top it all off, Motuzas had thrown me a ball after the game the day before and would be more likely to recognize me As I was the last fan he interacted with. Was it because He had seen me at the previous game that he threw me the ball? Did he perhaps want to reward me for coming to another game? If he just forgot about me I don’t think he would have thrown me the ball because the others were calling out to him and wearing D-Backs gear. Weird, see what I mean? Here is the ball he threw me with Motuzas in the background.

Motuzas tossed me this ball in front of all the pitchers out there. This meant that most of the pitchers saw me get the ball. I then changed my get up by: switching my pants ( I had shorts under hiking pants), covering up my Diamondbacks shirt, putting on Mets give away glasses, and keeping my Diamondbacks hat on. Due to the change, I got Daniel Hudson to toss me a ball as he finished up his catch. Here is the ball with Hudson in the background:

By the way, the man looking back is not a ballhawk by most standards but his son was part of the  competition I was talking about. This would also be the same kid that mocked me about snagging two balls at US Cellular in the first gameof the series (displeasure #7 if you want to got all the way down to the specific line(a parenthesis in parenthesis, are you allowed to do that? Anyway, the way that entry is set up is that the day was just a list of the things that went wrong for me that day so whenever I introduce one more thing it has the number and a period this specific thing that went wrong is introduced by a 7.)) The kid himself was over in the bullpen getting someone to throw him a ball.

Then the boringness began. It was now around 5:00 and the game wasn’t going to begin for another 2 hours and that meant no snagging opportunities for about an hour. I’ll just list the highlights of my stadium wandering:

1. I was going to go up to the Red Porch and take in a panoramic view of the stadium:

but that was closed:

2. I went to the CF portion of the outfield concourse and went to play area sponsored by Exxon Mobil called the Strike Zone:

the highlight of this was like a batting cage they had set-up:

This wasn’t your stadium-employee-lobs-ball-to-you batting cage. How it worked was you, the hitter, picked a certain pitcher to go against. For example, this hitter is facing Scott Kazmir. A clip plays on the wall of the pitcher winding up and throwing the ball and as the pitcher gets to the position where he would release the ball an actual ball shoots out of the wall where his hand is and comes at you. The hitter can also designate the speed they would like the ball at and the clip still plays in realtime. There is also a similar thing with pitching but it isn’t nearly as much fun. Demonstrated by the only ones playing it were the employees manning it. I only want to show this picture because it gets the ball just as it is about to hit the wall of strips of material that look like shredded paper:

3. When the rest of the stadium opened, (for those who don’t know, only Left Field and the upper deck in Right of Nationals Park are open from when the stadium opens until 5:30 for a 7:00 game) I went over into foul ground to for the Nationals pitchers’ errant throws when they warmed up before the game. Sadly there were no baseballs to be found but I did get an interesting shot of the tarp being rolled off:

Neat, huh? At least I think so. I like how I get the tarp right down the line. Then again, part of the experience was being that close to the unrolled tarp. I know that sounds quirky but for whatever reason it was slightly exciting. Maybe it was just that boring of a day?

4. I wandered the concourse and noticed that throughout the stadium, the Nationals honor random Hall of Famers like:

And:

I guess the Nationals don’t have enough team history that they put these up. Can you imagine the Yankees putting up salutes to historic players from other teams? Didn’t think so. The Nationals do have more than those two but I didn’t want to include all of them in this entry because there were quite a few.

I then just waited for the rest of pre-game until the position players came out and started throwing at which time I set up in the stands and hoped they would throw me a ball:

I don’t remember exactly what happened but I ended up not getting anything from here and going out to another day of what I thought was going to be outfield running but it turns out that I could have just bought a ticket out in Left Field and I would have been just as well off because both teams are primarily running to begin with and the fact that both pitchers were lefties made them even more right heavy. I don’t remember the exact numbers but there were like 3 lefties in the entirety of both lineups excluding the pitchers.

While in Left Field, I had some room around me because the rain drove away everyone except the Nationals fans. So basically it was really empty in Left Field. Here are four pictures that should show how empty it was.

Behind me and to my right:

Angeled towards the field and to the right:

Behind me and to my left:

 

Angeled towards the field and to the left:

Due to how right handed heavy the lineup was and the fact that I had some room to move, I adjusted slightly for every hitter using a site called hittrackeronline.com. If you want to check it out the link is in the sidebar. Anyway, I looked at where each hitter hit his Home Runs and adjusted based on what I saw. So here is Michael Morse’s Home Run Chart:

Each of the blue dots is a Home Run he has hit this year. So, for Morse I would play further back in the seats because there is almost no pattern as far as the direction of the ball is concerned but the only constant is that he hits the ball far and I wanted to be going in on the ball and not back.

 Also as a  result of the righty-ness of the lineup , I stayed in Left Field for 80% of the time and my trips to Right Field only served to be a hinderance to me on this day. I consider two Home Runs to be partially lost opportunities because of my trips to Right. Partially because, it wouldn’t have been a sure thing if I had been in my seat in Left but it sure would have been much easier to get them if I had.

The first was a Chris Young Home Run where I was just getting back  to my seat and looking to see which row I was in. As a result, I was looking to my right when Young hit the ball and didn’t see the ball once while it was in the air. Zack Hample had also taken up residence in the Left Field seats and since I didn’t want to look up for the ball and possibly miss my opportunity to get to the ball, I just watched him. I thought to myself “he’s going to at least get some glove on the ball so my best shot is that is to sit a few rows behind him and get the deflection.” The whole time I was going down the staircase. He went about four rows under where the ball hit and by default I was two rows under it. I had come from quite a bit up on the staircase so I would have been able to get to the spot had I just looked up to see where the ball was headed. The only variable in that situation would have been if I would be able to judge the ball correctly but I’m pretty sure I would have been within five feet of it and I’m almost certain I would have caught it.

 

You can see the video by clicking, here. I am in my light red Nationals shirt going down the steps and then into a row going towards the right of your screen. If you keep focus on me, you can see I didn’t look up once and me turn when the ball deflects off the seat.

The second Home Run is kind of a slippery slope argument but here goes. I was in Right Field for Miguel Montero’s At-Bat and was headed back to Left Field I usually go at a decent pace that gets me to the other side of the field within two pitches of the At-Bat starting but it was like the eighth inning or something like that and I was pretty tired and thought to myself: “Why am I running this fast for Paul Goldschmidt? I’ve never heard of him so he can’t have that much power. You know what I’m just going to walk the rest of the way and get there in time for (whoever was behind him in the lineup who I perceived to be a better HR threat).” So I slowed up to a walk and just as I was behind the Red Porch I saw a baseball rolling out onto the concourse and a crowd of kids about half a second behind it. They chased it almost all the way to the gate in Center Field and one of them picked it up. The ball had bounced on the staircase right next to the one I usually go down in Left Field. This means that I would have been right next to the ball when it landed or towards the top of the staircase where I could have turned around and outran the other kids that chased the ball, which was very frustrating. Had I just been where I usually sit in Right Field there is a 50-50 chance I would have caught the ball on the fly. At least there was a nice/weird looking sky:

It may not look *that* special but it was some legitimate freakiness going on because it didn’t seem like light being refracted but the clouds themselves were that color. I guess a better way of explaining it is that the orange color pierced the cloud instead of only being on one side of it like when the sun hits it.

Anyway, the video for the Goldschmidt Home Run can be seen by clicking, here. You can’t see me but you can better visualize what I described two paragraphs ago.

I then moved over to Right Field for the beginning of the final inning. I did this because I knew it was Justin Upton’s birthday and tried to get his final inning warmup ball through that. As he was finishing his throwing, I yelled out as hard as I could: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUSTIN.” I know he heard me unless he is partially hearing impaired because he was close enough to the wall but regardless he didn’t even acknowledge me much less throw me his warmup ball. The reason I put the latter as a superior  negative to the former is that he has nothing to save the warmup ball from his final inning for. What is he going to do with it? There are no more innings to warmup for. I was also almost the only one in that section and was definitely the only Diamonbacks fan that bothered to look up his birthday if I wasn’t the only Diamonbacks fan in that section period.

I then went back to Left for the ninth itself because there were mostly righties coming up and I was more likely to get a ball from the Diamondbacks than the Nationals bullpen because there were obviously more people in Nationals gear than Diamondbacks gear. When I didn’t get anything, I took the metro to my temporary residence whenever I come to Washington and got myself packed to have the priviledge of taking the bus back to Manhattan the next morning just to go to another baseball game.

8/1/11 Marlins at Mets: Citi Field

Another nice and sunny day at Citi Field, right?:

Wrong!:

Suffice to say it wasn’t looking good for batting practice and I was, at this moment, resigned to the fact I wasn’t going to have a full batting practice, if any.

When I got in, there was good news and there was bad news.

Good News: There was batting practice.

Bad News: Season ticket holders were on the field:

This meant I probably wasn’t going to get a toss-up in Left Field during Mets bp and that would mean I would have to get a quick ball hit to me to keep me in rhythm that is so important whenever I am at Citi Field because I move around so much for toss-ups.

Let’s just say this was the highlight of my day to that point:

That would be a picture of the Mets leaving the field. Why was it the highlight? Well, it meant that the section of fans in front of the Left Field stands would be leaving. This meant that I could put on my Marlins gear and be ignored by them instead of the Mets. I had a few close calls on hit balls but I’ll save you the useless information and just tell you about the closest of calls. Here is the diagram that shows what happened:

John Buck of the Marlins hit a Home Run right to my row. I had made sure there was no one I could run into in my row and so I just tracked the ball. I drifted over to where I could catch the ball and I reached up for the ball. Just as I did this, I saw a glove coming up and backwards. You see that man in the white? He jumped backwards nto my row because the ball was highish and he wasn’t going to catch the ball by jumping upwards (the path of the ball is shown by the white streak in the picture) his glove first hit mine and then his body bumped back into me and the ball bounced off of his glove and into the aisle. What then happened  then was that he gave me about a tenth degree stare for costing him the ball as I told him I was sorry even though I hadn’t reached forward at all.

I went this way and went that way but just nothing was going my way. I finally went to Center Field for my third time on the day and just every Marlins player was completely ignoring my request I don’t know if it was part of what kids week (this week the Mets were letting in 3 kids 12 and under free for every paying adult) or if it was the general noise of New York but none of the players even tried to throw in my direction. It was 6:15 and I was getting worried about being shutout. Finally, at 6:18, Burke Badenhop threw a ball to a family in front of me:

The ball sailed over both the family and my heads and landed in the row behind me. I grabbed the ball but at the same time a lady came running in that row and grabbed onto my hand. She then started to try and pull the ball from my grasp as she simultaneously rubbed my hand against the coarse cement. I then, pulled my hand out and handed the ball to the girl of that family. The lady then apologized as she was trying to get the ball for them as well. As a result of this scrapping, my hand was pretty scuffed up:

You really see much because this picture was taken an hour later but my skin was peeled and I chipped the nail you can see of my middle finger. I know it probably would have been easy to avoid aggravating it but idiot me kept putting my hand in and taking it out of my pockets because all of my important things were on my right side and so I kept hurting it.

Normally, I would take a seat behind the dugout but decided not to on this. Due to the fact that I had luckily gotten 1 ball during batting practice, I knew 1 or even 2 balls from behind the dugout wasn’t going to help my day. So I set up camp a bit further from Home Plate:

Through the fifth inning, the only thing that came close was a Mike Stanton liner a few sections above. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Angel Pagan sliced a liner to my left. It was going pretty fast so I went to the spot I thought it would hit down. I turned around three feet before that and just saw/heard the ball whizz two feet past my head and hit in a seat in front of me. There, I picked the ball up from the folded seat. I actually found out that I don’t have any pictures I could have used for diagrams or showing you where I ran.

So, my path was a mini z shape because of the railing. I ran a few feet to my left, went down a few stairs and then continued to my left. So imagine the place where I  picked the ball up as the upper left part of the z. Anyway, a good ending to a frustrating day. Too bad this frustration has now extended over two weeks.

Here is a picture that I took of the ball after the game:

I didn’t get anything after the game but I was satisfied that my stategery paid off when it counted.

STATS:

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

this ball doesn’t have any because up to this point I haven’t numbered foul balls but they are #s 83-84 for my career:

  • 123 balls in 28 games= 4.39 Balls Per Game
  • 54 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 19 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 24 straight games at Citi Field with at least 1 ball
  • 2 balls*28,862 fans= 57,724 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:35- 10:31= 5 hours 56 minutes

7/24/11 Angels at Orioles: Camden Yards

Just another blistering hot day at Camden Yards:

But due to lack of material from a painfully slow day let me start before that. I started my day at 7:00 that morning as this was the time I set my alarm for to take the train to Baltimore. Thankfully, I could just ignore it because I was getting a ride from Garrett Meyer (thank you), a ballhawk from Kansas City also going to this game and also staying in Washington D.C. Anyway, I took the train to the stop near his place and we were off by 10:20. A pretty quiet ride except for the occasional off-the-top-of-the-head conversation starter. One example would be passing Nationals Park. Another example would be this:

This was a conflicting pair of bumper stickers because they said 1) So many cats: So few recipes 2) I love animals their delicious. Conflicting because I am a vegetarian and animal rights sympathizer and am offended if these were serious but am also a fan of good bumper sticker humor which this was if it is not to be taken seriously. I just decided to give the person the benefit of the doubt and laugh at the bumper stickers.

Eventually we got to the stadium at around 11:10. However, we parked about a mile away at the Ravens’ Stadium and I had to hustle to get to the gates in time (11:35) as I still had to buy my ticket in collaboration with Avi Miller (another thank you to him for getting me in early three days in a row), do some other things that would take me about 5 minutes, and get in line all before the gates opened.

Once I finally got in, I saw this:

No batting practice. I’m not upset or surprised simply reporting. It was a 1:35 game after a 7:10 game so it would have been a miracle on earth if either team were to take bp after a Saturday night full of…err…praying. To be honest, I really didn’t care about pre-game stuff past extending my streak of games with at least 1 ball to 50 straight games. Really the only reason I was at this game in the first place was because I had stayed in the flag court for two games straight with two righty pitchers with nothing coming close and thought that if I stood out there for a third straight game that the results would “regress towards the mean”. This is a fancy way of saying that I was hoping a Home Run would be hit this game out there and so I came for a third game.

After the last picture, I put on my Angels gear and felt a sharp pain in my upper back. I had felt it lightly since I entered the stadium but this was the first instance of a shooting pain. Do I know what the pain is? No, initially it felt like my left shoulder blade but also hurt when I moved only my right arm. Do I know how it happened? No, it was perfectly fine even while I was waiting in line to enter the stadium. The one thing I do now was that it was a pain (pun intended). It nagged me up until I arrived home in New York. I just wanted to inject this in as a factor in my lack of snagging enthusiasm and just let you know about it to reference it later on in the entry.

When I got to the 3rd base foul line, this was my view:

As you can imagine, it was a pretty empty seating area except for us ballhawks. This was however the most I have see for a game with no batting practice. There were about four of us waiting to try and get a ball from an Angels pitcher. Eventually I got my ball when Johan “Ervin” Santana (the one known as Ervin Santana actually changed his name while he was in the minor leagues from Johan in order to not be confused with the Mets’ ace) finished throwing. I asked him in Spanish and he told me “Corre”, which is to say “Run”. I took this as running up the steps while he tossed me a ball like a wide receiver. Evidently, that is what he was looking for as I ran up ten steps, turned around, and found a ball sailing towards me. It probably looked a bit slow and was not as fun as it would have been had my back not been hurting. Another side effect of the back pain was that I really couldn’t pull my arms up in front of my face to cup my mouth and yell at the more distant players for a ball. Also, I couldn’t hold my arms above my head and do my regular jumping-jackish motion to get their attention. As a result, Ervin was one of the latter players to finish and I couldn’t really ask for a ball from the other players because they had seen me get the ball and I didn’t have time to change my outfit to disguise myself.

Anyway, I then headed over to the Orioles bullpen t get a ball but the pitcher finished quickly and didn’t toss the ball to either me or Flava Dave who was also at the bullpen. At which point I idnetified Dan Haren as the late comer to the warm-up party along the third base line:

This turned out to be, besides watching Dan Haren throw a great sinker with almost no effort behind the ball, an unproductive waste of time as his throwing partner ended up with the ball and simply tossed the ball into the ball bag. I am sure that had Haren tossed the ball into the crowd it would have been mine because he actually went out of his way before he started throwing to acknowledge my existence with a wave. That said, many players have done this and from what I gathered from the other ballhawks, Haren is not the nicest fellow.

I then went over to the first base line to try and get an autograph and failed several times as there was a kid before me that was getting baseball cards signed. The players, it seemed, always looked up at him in a “are you serious?” manner and stopped signing after that. Maybe it was just these players but a baseball card from a fan means they are at the game with the sole purpose of getting them signed especially if you are, say Mark Hendrickson. I guess that the players didn’t like the fact they were being used to possibly make a profit and went on because they “really had to __”.

Speaking of Mark Hendrickson, he started throwing with some catcher (definitely was not Matt Wieters) and when he finished throwing, I had gotten the catcher’s attention throughout the their round of catch, so he threw me the ball:

I then moved up behind the cross aisle for some much needed shade:

By the way, can you spot Vernon Wells signing in that last picture? While I was up there I got a good chuckle out of knowing that I wasn’t the only one that was tired before 1:00:

Yeah I stayed there until game time blah, blah, blah. We all know why I was at this game. To catch a Home Run in the flag court:

To my dismay, this was how empty the seats were in Left field:

That along with the fact 12 out of 18 hitters were righties, meant that they were ideal snagging conditions. Suddenly when Mike Trout lifted his first career Home Run, I knew that one of the ballhawks there were going to get it in one shape or form. The only thing was that the ball hit pretty hard so I thought there might be an small chance that the ball would carom off the cross aisle and wall at the top of the section and bounce back towards the field. This did not happen. Instead this random passerby caught the ball:

As happy as I was that one of the ballhawks had caught the ball I still only stayed for moments as I had to get back to right field to not miss any of the lefties hitting:

As usual, nothing came up there. I was going to simply walk to Baltimore Penn station at that point but when Garrett Meyer used my phone to call Ben Weil and told him that “Me and [Mateo] want to see what [Zack] got.” I tagged along and stayed for a little while longer. Ben gave us the instructions on where to be and we arrived on the scene a few minutes later:

I had been in this room a few years earlier but it was still nice to be in A/C and chomping on ice while it was 10,000 degrees outside. Oh and on an interesting note, I had run into the guy on the right with the Orioles necklace credentials holder as we were both coming from the flag court and going to left field after Trout had hit his Home Run. Enroute, I informed him how the guy that had caught it looked like and while we were waiting in this room did the incredibly nice and “oriole” thing by thanking me even though there was already a swarm of police and the guy on the left so it wouldn’t have been hard to identify him.

It was also nice to see Mike Trout come out and greet his friends and family:

I have actually been rooting for him because (useless fact of the day): in the first year that the MLB draft was being televised, Mike Trout came to MLB Network’s Studio 42 with his parents. He was the only one to do so. Not Steven Strasburg, not Zack Wheeler, Mike Trout. Due to his courage I gained respect for him and keep him in the corner of my baseball observing eye. So it was really special to watch him enjoy this moment. It was also fun to see his gigantic self come out of the elevator and hear Garrett’s reaction, “Wow, can you believe he’s my age.” I really hadn’t thought about that but yeah he is only 3 years older than me and he has already hit his first Major League Home Run. After everything died down and we were kicked out of the waiting area, I said my goodbyes and  walked what felt like 5 miles, it was only 1.5,  because of the searing heat to the train station and waited for my pretty late train.

STATS:

  • 2 balls at this game
numbers 156-157 for my career:
  • 50 straight games with at least 1 ball. Now all I have to do is double everything I have done in my career and I will have 100 straight games.
  • 19 straight games doing so on the road
  • 15 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 2 balls*15,676 fans= 31,352 competition factor
  • Time at Game 11:20-5:31= 6 hours 11 minutes

7/23/11 Ballhawk Fest

Finally the day arrived. I say this after the fact but before it actually arrived I was a little worried about how ballhawk fest would go because I was worried about my streak being broken with so many ballhawks in attendance. Speaking of them, let me introduce to you all the ballhawks in attendance:

1. Garrett Meyer– #5 on the season leaders as of 7/26 and also the furthest traveled of us here coming all the way from Lawrence, Kansas.

2. Alan Schuster– The creator of mygameballs.com and organizer of this whole day long event.

3. Alex Kopp– A student at the University of Maryland who ballhawks really all over the place because he lives in New Jersey.

4. “Flava” Dave Stevenson– A ballhawk native to Baltimore who is very much a regular at Camden Yards.

5. Tim Cook– The second part of the now trio that is Cook & Son Bats’ Blog.

6. Oliver Rowles– Another ballhawk from New York that also usually inhabits the outfields of Citi Field or spring training stadiums when he’s at a game.

7. Zack Hample– Just click his name. If you don’t know him by now that such be sufficient. For the lazy people. He’s caught over 5,200 baseballs and inspired most of those present.

8. Mike Rowles- Oliver’s father and self proclaimed chaperone for the weekend.

9. Ben “…ny Batting Gloves” Weil– Yet another ballhawk from New York that showed up a bit late for softball (this picture was taken after we finished) because of the Lincoln Tunnel, “why are so many people going to New Jersey on a Saturday?”, etc.

10. Todd Cook– The primary unit in the Cook n’ Son trifecta.

-There were various people not int his picture who went to the game itself or were outside my lens.

1. Avi Miller– He just showed up for the game and didn’t show up for any of the pre-game festivities.

2. Jona– Zack’s girl friend who was simply outside of the picture because she too was taking pictures of the pre-group-picture set-up.

3. Jeremy Evans– This was a foreign name to me prior to ballhawk fest. Apparently he is a ballhawk from Pennsylvania who doesn’t have records of any of the balls that he has caught. I got all of this information from his mygameballs profile, I didn’t actually have much time to get to know him. The reason? He showed up at the game after the gates had opened and we were both focused on snagging baseballs.

4. Matt Hersl– He was “too sore” to play softball. He later admitted that he would have played had it not been 110 degrees. That actually was a hyperbole but it was over 100.

Obviously, the ten present and willing to play were not enough for a 9 on 9 softball game. Instead, Alan had devised a sort of Home Run Derby. Here we have Alan explaining the rules:

I don’t remember what the original format was but Alan added the fact that what he had said was merely a draft and anyone could add their own suggestions to it. Here we have everyone collectively having their “wait how are we doing this again?” moment before bombarding Alan with a plethora of suggestions:

This, inevitably changing how we were going to play the game. The rules, it seemed, changed by the half inning until the end of the second inning. This is what we ended up with:

  • 7 innings
  • 5 players on each team-once Ben showed up in the second in the bottom of the third-. Here is the roster:
  • A half inning constituted of every player of the team hitting.
  • A person  finished their turn when they got one out with both a soft and baseball.
  • An out was achieved by any ball that was not hit out of the infield or caught by the opposing team.
  • An out could also be achieved if a person failed to swing at a ball within three pitches.
  • A ball hit into the outfield uncaught was 1 point
  • A ball hit beyond the fence were 5 points
Does that make sense? I hope so because I still don’t truly understand it.
Anyway, my team won 44-29:
It was headed by an excellent offensive effort by Mateo Fischer and… okay so I didn’t score any runs for our team but I did have the most catches for our team. Our actual offensive leaders were everyone except for me and Ben as all of them-I believe- play softball in a league elsewhere. The game ended in spectacular fashion as the final out was recorded on a ball hit over the fence by Zack Hample that was caught at about the 6’6″ mark by Alan Schuster. Although, being the ballhawk that I am, I was waiting on the edge of the fence in case Zack hit a Home Run. when the ball jumped off of his bat I jumped off of the fence and was waiting right behind Alan in case the ball kept on carrying. Had Alan not been there, a big argument probably would have ensued over my tactics. I did however, have the excuse that it was ballhawk fest.
After the game, we went to a restaurant named DiPasquale’s in an assortment of gas guzzling vehicles. I went in Alex Kopps’s car with Garrett Meyer:
That would be Alex on the left with Garrett on the right.
At the restaurant, we split into two tables: Alex, Garrett, Dave, Oliver, Mike (Oliver’s dad), and myself at one table and everyone else I don’t feel like naming at the other table. If you want to find out who was at the other table, just take out everyone I listed from the first picture, add  Jona and Matt Hersl, and Viola! you have the second table. At lunch, I obviously ate but there were other goodies to be given out. Ben Weil provided different items to be given out of names being picked out of a hat. I got a bobble head doll of the “best mascot in baseball” as I am always hearing. Don’t I look just thrilled:
No not really. This is almost the worst bobble head I could have gotten minus a bobble head of the Yankees mascot. On the other hand, we did receive our official ballhawk fest T-Shirts:
The two faces because I the front was a very nice design but was only made to provide the basic information. The back because I was commemorating my deceased father by wearing this with his first initial on it instead of mine. For the better observants of baseball, you may have noticed that I have been wearing a sweat bands with the initials WRF. This is also to commemorate him. For those who haven’t noticed, here is a link to a picture I took in Atlanta with the band on.
For even more observant people, can you spot three items in both pictures that were photographed in this entry. Note: they may not be showing the same side that I photographed.
Anyway, it was late enough that our car went directly from the restaurant to the field. We took pictures, talked some more… blah, blah, blah. Enough of this preliminary shtuff, let’s get to the game.
I was about the fifth into the left field seats because I had to wait for Avi Miller (who provided me with season tickets the games before and after this one, thank you) to show his season ticket card and get us in to the section. I quickly made up for it by catching up to two of the other ballhawks in my section after I weaved through a family of non-balhawkfestians.
When I got to the section I picked a spot behind you-know-who in the second railing opening in the second aisle from left center:
Normally this would be snagging suicide but I figured I would just got with the best available spot as a cavalry of a dozen ballhawks would soon be upon me. I quickly got on the board by picking up a Mark Reynolds Home Run that landed behind me and half way into the row:
I think the only two people going after it were Matt Hersl and Zack Hample but can’t really remember.
The next ball came relatively soon after that Derrek Lee hit a ball about three steps behind me. I slowly backed up and simply reached up to catch it on the fly:
The next ball was also hit by Reynolds… I think. It was hit in the same general area as the last one as Reynolds was hitting them pretty well. I was one of the people that went furthest back on that ball but it still went over my head. It just kept carrying and carrying:
It hit off of the seats behind me and I picked it up… I think. To tell the truth, I remember this specific ball but don’t know if I actually got that specific ball. I do however, know my third ball was snagged in a ball hitting off of the seats and me picking it up.
My fourth ball was a little clearer as I was closer to the foul line to get a ball from the Angels pitchers (I didn’t get many balls from the Angels because my shirt arrived the day I got BACK from Baltimore and I had to settle with turning a Nationals jersey inside out) when an Orioles hitter-I think it was J.J. Hardy- hit a ball into the seats behind me. I went under where the ball clanked down thinking it would roll down the seats. The other fans chasing after it didn’t know this so I quietly pulled the ball out while they kept frantically searching for it. That gave me four balls for the day.
I then had a cold streak where most of the Angels player ignored me because I couldn’t identify them (it was so hot that they all had on the shirt they normally have under their jersey thus no number to identify them by) and a few balls I barely missed out on. To me this was a sign that I should leave for the flag court once people started arriving that didn’t have season tickets.
This was a good choice. When I arrived in the flag court the group including Russell Branyan started hitting. For those who don’t know, Russell Branyan is a DH type hitter that has enormous amounts of power but just doesn’t do much else. He did not disappoint.
My first ball from him came when he launched  a ball to the deepest part of the ballpark that could still be considered the flag court. Here is the view from where the ball struck the fence:
Can you see now what I mean? A foot further to the left and that ball is in the center field section. Thankfully it hit off the bottom of the fence and became a slow grounder back to me.
The second ball was an absolute blast:
To explain, the ball hit off of the canopy over Boog’s grill, bounced to the right, dribbled into the Weed & Lemonade stand (not pictured) where I picked it up.
The third and final ball I got out there was also hit by Russell Branyan and was also a bomb:
The right most pair of dotted arrows are the balls path wile the pair of solid arrows are my path to the ball. The ball bounced off of the railing so quickly I had to barehand the ball directly of the metal with my right hand. It hurt a bit but it was worth it. However, it might have caused me to miss out on another ball depicted by the dotted arrows on the left. Branyan hit yet another ball to near the top of the fence, because the last ball had ricocheted so quickly, I played a little further back and waited for the bounce but the ball went perfectly between the bars and someone else grabbed it.
Moving over to foul ground when Branyan wasn’t up, I was hoping to get a ball tossed to me but after getting completely ignored by a coach who was the only one shagging balls in that part of right field, I gave up as that was probably it for me over there. I then went over to center field:
right center was pretty dead because of those Angels fans but left center could have brought me something but others had the same idea as me:
We were now in Angels bp so you can find a ballhawk by looking for a red or yellow shirt. Anyway, as I was putting away my phone from that picture and grabbing my cup of free ice the Orioles were providing, I heard the slight roar and saw people moving like they were getting ready for a fly ball. I looked up and a ball was going right to my left. It bounced into a seat and I started running after it but another kid in a grey shirt plucked it out of the seat. I was really mad. Had I been paying attention, that would have been an *very* easy catch to make. That was it nothing else for bp.
For the game, I stood out in the flag court once more:
as my second goal- after getting one ball this day- was catching a Home Run on ballhawk fest. Wait… before I get too far from that picture, let me recount all the balls I gave away this day.
1. In center field, I saw a kid after batting practice who had a glove and asked him if he had caught a ball. He said no and I handed him one.
2. I saw he had a brother or friend with him and so I gave one to him too. These two were the last two balls I caught from Branyan.
3+4. The guy pointing and the guy in purple started off their stay in the flag court by telling me and Alex (standing to the right of those guys) that they were going to catch any ball hit into the section but once we started talking they showed some genuine appreciation/awe for us ballhawking and started to talk further to us. They then both asked if they could buy a ball off of me for a dollar each. Normally, the answer would be a definite no but since they showed such an interest I didn’t mind getting ripped off, as baseballs go for about $10 in the stores, and selling two of my baseballs as it *definitely * was not for the money. As far as I was concerned, this would be the best day for spreading the news of what ballhawking was because there were so many at the ballpark and I had my attention grabbing Ballhawk Fest T-Shirt on. The balls I gave away were my Derrek Lee ball and ball #4 that I think was hit by J.J. Hardy. This quickly turned into Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter by the time the guys got back to their friends.
After batting practice, I was in the lead in terms of baseballs caught at ballhawk fest. Leading Zack Hample by a margin of 7-5. Just before the game, that shrunk to 7-6. As nice as it would have been to widen the gap and surely get the most baseballs at the first ballhawk fest by sitting in a more ball friendly spot, I was sticking with my plan as I would have NEVER been able to forget a Home Run that would have gone into the flag court had I not been there. So, this was my view for the rest of the game:
Actually no, that would have been an improvement on my view of the game. For ballhawking purposes, I was about twenty feet behind this spot and as a result couldn’t see any of the game minus whatever replays and such showed up on the scoreboard. The closest ball I came to was a foul ball that Bobby Abreu pulled just to the right of the foul pole (looking from Abreu’s perspective). I had no chance at it. The only reason I was up there was because it was the second day of two righty pitchers starting and I figured the line-ups would be lefty heavy. Out of the 18 batters, 8 were lefty. So I was stuck on 7 balls. In the middle of the game, I had heard that Zack had caught a foul ball and we were tied from Alan Schuster. I would have tried for an umpire but the game was so close that I was just sensing a go ahead Home Run by Russell Branyan but alas, it never came. That was it.
I then went over to the Angels dugout for the closing pictures and such:
The yellow was definitely flying. Oh and by the way, that is Jeremy Evans in the Orioles hat between Alan (in the white hat) and the person in orangeish getting out of their seat.
Overall I would say it was a VERY fun and similarly exhausting day. In the end, I did end up being the co-leader for the first annual ballhawk fest. That might just have to go on my resume for my first job application.
STATS:
  • 7 balls at this game (3 picture because I “gave” four away)
numbers 149-155 for my career:
  • 49 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 18 straight doing so on the road
  • 14 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 6 straight games with at least 5 balls (could I maintain this streak the next day with no batting practice? No one comment on this if you have seen my mygameballs profile)
  • 3 straight games with at least 6 balls
  • 2 straight games with at least 7 balls (sorry have to get them  out of the way while I still have them)
  • 7 balls* 20,311 fans= 142,177 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:18- 9:46= 5 hours 28 minutes