July 2011

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

7/22/11 Angels at Orioles: Camden Yards

My first game at Camden Yards ballhawking and guess where it began:

You may be thinking: “Wait Mateo, isn’t Union Station in Washington D.C.” You would be right to ask that question because it indeed is. I was staying in D.C. to avoid lodging costs.

Long story short, I departed six hours before game time and got there two and a half before it (with a Subway break in between):

Isn’t that a majesty. For the record, that itself is not the park it is the warehouse that sits behind the right field standing room section. You can also see in that picture that the sun is beating down at this moment. Keep that in mind.

I was the third one into the left field seats and as a result I found three Easter Eggs. The first two spots (approximately) are here in this picture:

The third in this one:

The ballhawks out there can probably see who beat me to the seats but here are the two IDs. Man in orange going up the stairs: Matt Hersl. The man in pink: Zack Hample. Between the three of us, I think we found maybe ten Easter Eggs. It was just so hot that the Ushers didn’t check for baseballs. In the background with  floppy hat on, you can see “Flava” Dave Stevenson in the background searcing for his own Easter Eggs.

Now let’s use that last picture to show how things were like with upwards of five ballhawks in attendance (not including me). I will use that last picture again to show what happened when a righty hit a ball into the left field stands:

The dotted arrow is the path of the ball and the solid arrows are all our different paths to the ball. Obviously you can’t see me in the picture So my arrow simply points out from the bottom of the picture but all others have arrows coming from them and a second arrow if they changed directions. I think that Matt Hersl was the first to the ball but it was on the ground but in the scrum he had with Flava Dave and another two fans (Zack had pretty much given up on the ball) it rolled out to his right. Whoever was to his right basically had to reach down and pick the ball up before they realized it had moved positions. Who was to his right? ME!! That gave me my fourth ball of the day.

The Angels were then coming out to throw so I veerryy sloowwly back up the staircase to change elsewhere (don’t want the Angels seeing me). Slowly because I knew the Orioles were still hitting and didn’t want to give up a chance at any Home Runs that could have landed in the seats. Sure enough, Mark Reynolds blasted a ball:

I was in the cross aisle and heading out but when the ball landed close to the top of the section I: dropped my backpack, bolted down the steps (an aisle lower than the ball had landed because they tend to trickle down), and ran over to the spot where the ball had landed. I don’t remember if it trickled down or not but I did pick it up and proceeded to change into my Angels gear  to the congratulations of an usher. I was in love with Camden Yards already.

The Angels started throwing and I was careful not to go down too early because it has been my experience that if you go before the first throwing pair starts waining you are stuck waiting for people to end at the dismay of all the balls that are getting hit into the outfield. Eventually, I moved down to the foul pole and was going to ask Hisanori Takahashi for his ball but he did not end up with it and moved away. Keep this in mind. Finally Jordan Walden and Bobby… something or other, finished throwing and I asked Jordan for a ball. He threw his ball to another kid but then picked up another ball and threw it to me. I now had 6 on the day and was eyeing my record of 7/double digits because it was very early in Angels bp but then the left field seats got crowded. It was weird. As you can see in the picture above it wasn’t really “crowded” but because of this being the game before ballhawk fest many ballhawks showed up early and thus the gaps between the railings were filing up. Being my usual over-pensive self I moved to the flag court to avoid the ballhawks’ competition. Actually that’s only half true. I also moved out there because it was about 107 degrees (no hyperbole) and I had started to see tinsel like sparkles in the corners of my eyes. Here was my best attempt at a picture of myself during this time:

That picture was once I got back in the concourse. I can only imagine how exhausted I must have looked before that. Combine those factors with the fact that I had banged my thigh into a seat earlier made it time to take a slow walk over to right field. By the way this was my view in the flag court:

Why was I playing back where I couldn’t see the batter? The split second advantage that I would gain by seeing the ball on its way up would be lost in the fact that I would be going backwards instead of forwards. Whatever, it didn’t matter because no balls came up there.

I then went into the center field section and hid myself as best I could from Jordan Walden, who was shagging in right field, because he had already thrown me a ball. I stayed in center for the duration of batting practice and first got Hisanori Takahashi to throw me a ball in left center field because I asked him in Japanese. He was about a microsecond away from tossing the ball in before he heard a familiar language which led him to turning around and tossing the ball up.

My second ball came from a ground rule double hit by Russell Branyan- assist by the rubberized warning track- which bounce up and rattled around in the seats for a bit before I picked it up. There were a couple of those but there was an extreme lack of mobility in the center field section. I ended bp with eight balls but gave the last Branyan ball to a kid in that center field section. I stupidly didn’t get a picture of her or remember what she looked like but she was close by when I got the ball. I might have gotten double digits had the Angels not ended bp at:

6:07? My watch is also 4 minutes ahead so that made it more like 6:02 that they Angels already left the field. Anyway, I stayed out in the flag court for the duration of the game as there were two righty pitchers but no balls came even close due to two offensively challenged line-ups taking the field:

Such is life. I ended the day at eight.

STATS:

  • 8 balls at (7 in this picture because I gave one away)
numbers 140-148 on my career:
  • 48 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 13 straight with at least 2 balls
  • 5 straight with at least 5 balls
  • 17 straight games on the road with at least 1 ball
  • 8 balls* 24,823 fans= 198,584 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:21- 10:01= 5 hours 40 minutes
Don’t yet know how thorough I will be with the ballhawk fest entry. So pardon me if it takes a few days.

7/18/11 Marlins at Mets: Citi Field

Remember that I went to the game in May and it got cancelled. Well, it was rescheduled for this day in July and it looked fine:

Not as good as it did the day it got cancelled but not horrible rain-away-batting practice bad.

When I got to the gate I noticed something odd:

Do you see the gates marked by the arrows? I have never seen them before. I know I haven’t been to Citi Field in over a month but it was just weird seeing them. I know the purpose is to corral people even more  and it is a good idea but I wonder why they hadn’t done it sooner. Also upon arriving, I wondered if my ticket from the initial game would work:

It did.

Initially, I was somber because going to this game reminded of the initial game in which I am now comfortable (with all the hecktivity gone) announcing that the responsibilities I was lifted of were those of taking care of my ailing dad. On that day May, 17, 2011 my father passed away.

What game? I was the first one to the left field bleachers beating all the other ballhawks in attendance (four according to mygamebals.com). I got Mookie Wilson to toss me a ball within the first minute. I first asked him if he could toss me a ball and he told me no but then tossed it up anyway after I said that it was ok and thanked him “anyway”. That is now the second time i have used the “can you toss me a ball please” line and that exact same scenario has occurred. The last time was in Miami. Here is a diagram of where I was and the flight of the ball:

The solid arrow is where I was and the dotted is how he threw me the ball. In retrospect, he was probably about five feet from the ball but whatever, you get the idea.

As the ballhawks arrived, I moved over to the empty center field section and running down the stairs, yelled out to Ryota Igarashi in Japanese for a ball. The next picture shows how the whole thing unfolded:

The names are pretty self-explanatory. The solid line is how far he went to shag the ball. The two dotted lines are what happened afterward. He liked my request so much we played catch for as many throws as it took me to fall into the seats. You see when I throw a baseball I have a longer stride than most people and that produces my right leg (I’m a righty) to come up after the pitch every time I want to get something behind the ball. If you look carefully behind the word “me” you will see there is a railing. Since I was on the right side of the railing, that cuts the aisle in half and made me make the choice of falling off a lot into the seats on my left, smacking my leg into the railing, or throw very slowly. I was going to go with the third but when I lobbed the ball into him and he made the hand gesture saying it was ok I tried to throw my slider but because the aisle was so narrow not only did the ball have no movement as I fell into the seats but I bounced it to him. I think he knew then to stop and called it of. Still, it was a great experience.

I moved over to right field in hopes that those players shagging there would toss me a ball but it didn’t take long to figure out they had seen me play catch with Igarashi. I moved back over to Left for Marlins bp.

But first, I want to show you one of the motifs of Mets bp:

If you can’t see the screen in front of 2nd base is down. Throughout the duration of bp it kept falling down. There wasn’t that much wind. I have had days were it was gusting circa 20 mph and the screen didn’t blow down. I don’t know I guess it’s just the Mets way of life.

As I got to left field and saw the first two batters I knew it was the big group:

Those hitters are (from left to right): Hanley Ramirez, John Buck, Mike Stanton, and Mike Cameron. I think if you take any two of them it is a pretty good time to be in left field but all four of them and you have a super group. I cannot think how good the left field seats in Sun Life Stadium would be this year if it opened 2.5 hours early. That said, I only got one ball from this group. I stayed back because of their power and it paid off when a ball bounced a few rows in front of me and I ran up an aisle an grabbed it off the paved steps:

When I look at it now it was hit pretty far. Guess who hit it. Mike Stanton. Of course that was not the only thing he hit:

In my 20+ games at Citi FieldI have never seen a player hit the Amtrak club. I am surprised that someone had not hit it sooner but not surprised it was Stanton to do it. Before I get too off topic, I want to mention I gave the Stanton ball to a kid who was chasing after me:

I can’t exactly tell if that is him in the stripes as I remember his face more but considering this is the only photo of its ilk…

I then convinced Randy Choate to toss me a ball in left field. After that I moved over to center field and got Brian Sanches (no that is not a typo) to toss me a ball in the corner spot. For those who don’t know, a corner spot is a place in a section where there is no possibility of anyone being in front or to one side of you because you are in the very first row and to the extremity of that specific section. Now the corner spot is not in this picture but it just demonstrates what happened:

Sanches is number 44 in that picture.

I then, as you can probably tell from the previous picture, moved over to right field in hopes of Mike or Mike (Stanton, Dunn) to throw me a a ball. I didn’t want to be recognized by Sanches who was not that far away so I sat down on the steps near the wall. The steps are so steep that I could sit down and still barely see over the wall:

Eventually a lefty hit a ball to the wall. Mike Dunn went to retrieve it but gave it to a kid much smaller than me. However, a second ball came and since I had made my presence know on the first ball he threw me the second ball:

That was it for bp.  I stayed in left field for the game. Both center fielders were occasionally throwing their warm up balls into the stands but I didn’t get any as I was always one staircase away. I am pleased to announce however, Observing Baseball is going green:

I have now been using the promotional Earth Day Metrocard since Earth day itself.

STATS:

  • Six balls at this game (five pictured because I gave one away)
numbers 135-140 for my career:
  • 79 balls in 22 games= 3.59 balls per game
  • 47 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 23 straight at Citi Field
  • 4 straight games with at least 5 balls
  • 6 balls* 32,411 fans=194,466 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:36-10:19=5 hours 33 minutes

7/9/11 Astros at Marlins: Sun Life Stadium

Seventh and final game of the baseball trip and third and final at Sun Life Stadium:

I mean I did feel a bit like I show in the picture but that specific face came from the fact it took twenty seconds of my mom/photographer looking through the lens to take that one picture. Besides that, can anyone tell a difference in that picture. The good news is that I had my step-father’s high quality camera at my disposal for the game and because it was Saturday, all gates were opening at the same time. This means that I didn’t have to run all the way from home plate to get to the right field seats. Instead I could actually go to the right field gate and get extra Marlins bp. The right field gate at Sun Life stadium is gate F:

The bad news is that I don’t have any pictures from the baseballs that I snagged. However here is a cropped picture I took later on in the game that I edited to show where I snagged all my bp balls:

1- I knew the Marlins would be off the field in a heart beat so I ran down the steps and called out to Leo Nunez that had just fielded a ball by the wall and got him to throw me the ball. I then moved over to the other side of the tunnel to try and get a ball from the group of pitchers shagging in right-center but just as I got there the pitchers ran in as Marlins bp had ended. Since I was still the only person in right field I looked for Easter eggs down the first row.

2- I found one sitting in a puddle of water right in the first row. Just an interesting ball because of what the water did to it. Check it out:

The water actually dyed the baseball the color of the pavement (that greenish hue you see).

3- I went up the aisle and found another ball in about the fifth row tucked inside a seat I then kept going up even though it would have taken a bomb to get a ball that high…

4- …but still finding a ball in a cup holder  almost in the last row (like second to last row or something). Wow. It must have been crushed. Mind you that this was right-center field we are talking about.

I then saw some Astros pitchers warming up where I had gotten Enerio Del Rosario to toss me a ball the day before. I hustled over there and set myself up to ask one of them for their ball once they finished throwing but at that same time the guy who caught the Mike Stanton Home Run the first day, flagged me down and motioned for me to meet up with him. He was in the section above me so I sacrificed my chance at a ball from the pitchers in order to talk to him for about twenty minutes. His name is Joe and let me just show a picture to give you an idea of how this conversation went:

You see Joe has season tickets in the club level seats and so he was up in the blue seats which were separated from the orange seats I was in by a wall. After the game in which he caught the Stanton Home Run I ran after him and talked to him briefly before letting him go because I could see he was in a rush to get Mike Stanton’s autograph (well I didn’t see he was in a rush for that specific reason but rather just saw he was in a rush). I just let him know about mygameballs.com amongst this blog and other things.

During this talk, he told me that he ballhawks regularly and has caught various historic Home Runs: Ken Griffey Jr.’s 600th and Dan Uggla’s 30th Home Run from the season where he became the first Second Baseman to hit 30 Home Runs 4 years straight. He then went on to tell me how differently the situations had gone. Basically, the Marlins/Uggla handled it well while the Reds/Griffey… not so much. After I told him that I lived in New York he asked me if I knew a guy there that went to a lot of games and caught baseballs. You know, this guy. I told him that he was actually the one that taught me how to do this etc and found out that they knew each other because when he caught the Griffey Home Run, Zack gave him his business card just as he was being whisked away by security. In all, it was a fun conversation and I got to know a new ballhawk.

…Now to the not so fun part. After I finished talking to Joe I realized something: it was an hour before game time and the cages were being pulled off the field. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It wasn’t like it was too early even for the poor rich MLB players as it was 6:00 pm but I guess there bus came late or something because I was really disappointed because I had 4 balls in less than half my predicted bp time (so I was only half an hour into what I predicted to be an hour of bp) and because it was my last day I could be as loud to the players as I wanted because I wouldn’t have to worry about them recognizing me the next day. The view at 6:10:

It was depressing, boring, and weird as I expect that any night game with perfect weather to have batting practice until about 45 minutes to half an hour before the game. Although, notice where I am sitting. Oh yeah right on the staircase that is at the perfect angle for right handed hitters. The advantage:the two teams were heavily right handed dominant. The disadvantage: the net was in the way. Let me give you a better look out:

In the first game of the series I thought it would be a disappointment if I didn’t catch a game ball but I didn’t realize that a lot of people showed up for the different promotions. Today was Super Saturday (autograph sessions as the gates opened, a Cirque Du Sole performance after the game, and probably some other things. I am fine with missing the autograph sessions as long as it wasn’t Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton because keep in mind that if I would have stopped for that I might not have gotten one ball until the game.) and it got pretty crowded:

Trust me when I tell you that this is *VERY* crowded for a Marlins game.

That picture was taken during the game but before the game I had some time so I finally took my Sun Life Stadium bonus picture for the mygameballs.com scavenger hunt:

Why was I not trying to get a ball at the dugout for third out balls? Well let me start with a picture of blue seats:

Do you see it? In the eighth row as one is going down the steps the seats turn from Orange to blue. The blue seats are off limits to anyone who does not have a ticket in those seats. They’re sort of like the moat of Sun Life Stadium.

During the game, I was optimistic because I had all this room to run:

Actually this isn’t much room to run at Sun Life, as crazy as it may sound. It was however, in a place where balls could just barely clear the protective screen and fall down to. I didn’t catch anything but check out how another fan caught a ball:

It wasn’t on the fly but it is still impressive when you can get a foul ball with baby in arm. His wife is holding the ball in this picture  but I can assure you he caught it.

I don’t know what was happening in this picture but I just wanted to share because it was the last with the high quality camera and it was a beaut:

I think that right after that picture was taken I left to get a ball from home plate umpire Jerry Meals. I succeeded. There was that Cirque Du Sole dreams performance but it had been a long trip for my mom so we got out right after the game.

STATS FOR GAME:

  • 5 balls at this game
numbers 130-134 on my career:
  • 73 balls in 21 games= 3.48 balls per game
  • 46 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 11 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 16 straight on the road with at least 1
  • 3 straight with at least five (I give this half a day in New York)
  • 5 balls*20,402 fans= 102,010 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:57- 10:13= 6 hours 15 minutes.
STATS FOR TRIP:
  • 35 balls on this trip (29 pictured because I kept 28 and brought #99 on the trip), which are #s 100-134 on my career
  • 35 balls in 7 games= 5.0 balls per game
  • 6/7 games with at least five baseballs
  • 159,275 fans total= 22,754 fans per game
  • 115, 365 average competition factor
  • 2 rubbed up balls
  • 0 wins for the away team in games
  • 1 patient and improving (somewhat) photographer.
  • 1 fun trip

7/8/11 Astros at Marlins: Sun Life Stadium

Today I used my mom’s iPhone as the camera I had been using is now missing its upload cable. I apologize for the lack of pictures as it (the iPhone) was mostly used for other tasks for the duration of bp. If no one knows, the Marlins are big on promoting their weekends naming the days with exciting, alliterating names. Today was, Fiesta Friday:

It consisted of autograph sessions for kids 12 and under (oh how I miss those subtle benefits), live music at the stadium (train wreck because they also play the electronic music and they just make each other sound awful, and a party after the game. In addition, all the PAs were done bilingually in English y Espanol.

My mom trailed behind me with our mini bag of food and such (I would advise against trying to bring in food because the Marlins do have a policy against it but she hid it at the bottom of the bag and thus got it in the stadium) so she failed to capture the first two easter eggs of my career. Why my first two? Well, the Mets used to open two and a half hours early and so they didn’t have bp prior to the fans entering and the (field level) outfield sections in Yankee Stadium are rather cramped and so not many hit balls are that far away from the, rather thorough, ushers. Both of the Easter Eggs were in the corner formed by the tarped center field seats:

The first was all the way in the corner formed by the staircase and tarp. I saw it as I moved to the very front row and peered down it. Seeing the impatient baseball I decided to grab it. As I was starting to walk back, I saw another baseball on the ground about three rows up and decided to rescue him too.

For the second striaght game, I did not get a single ball (from the Marlins) in the Marlins sliver of bp. This is important because: 1. I had absolutely no competition and 2. I couldn’t get a ball from the players in left center field becausei was not allowed into left field because those seats are club level. This means that my only hopes for putting up big numbers were that either two of the worst and most righty dominant line-ups to put on a power show to right field or that the pitchers would keep rotating and I would be able to ask pitchers un-familiar with me.

Guess what? Neither happened. My first thrown ball came in almost exact same spot I had found my first Easter Egg. Many outfielders were practicing and a ball was hit right in my “gap”. Literally right under me. I would have glove tricked the ball had Michael Bourn not come to pick it up. I asked him if he could toss the ball up where he said no but he did have a ball for me. He pulled a ball out of his back pocket that was even pearl-ier than the one that had rolled to the wall.

After trying and trying to pry a ball from the pitchers in right field I gave up and moved to my more dominant field: the group of hispanic pitchers in left field. I was in foul ground and didn’t expect for a hit ball to get there. I’m a little photo strapped as I only have 7 pictures for this whole game so here is a picture from last game’s entry edited to show you where I was:

If you can see the big red arrow towards the right of the screen that’s were I was standing just hoping that a player would pull a ball down the line because I was the only person within a country mile of whoever retrieved it. That lucky person was Enerio Del Rosario. Some righty pulled a ball right down the line, he picked it up, and I used my awesome Spanish skills to get him to toss me the ball up right. Well not really. He first told me that he couldn’t toss balls up. I told him that I understood because of the strict Astros blah blah blah. I then found out he was kidding and got the ball. Tee-hee.

I moved back to right field and things slowed way down. I kept calling out to the two people in right field that hadn’t thrown me a ball yet: Mark Melancon and Fernando Rodriguez. They just straight up didn’t react to my requests and since the Astros only two good hitters were righties. Translation: one Home Run through all of batting practice. I was going to straight away right for lefties and right-center for righties:

Why was I running up stairs? Remember that giant tunnel in the middle of the sections? No? Here is last entry. Anyway, to get from one to the other the route was up and over. My running and pleading was finally rewarded at almost the end of bp when Mark Melancon tossed me a ball. I then gave a ball to the security guard next to the tunnel to give to a kid of his choice.

As for the game, when I saw the empty seats yesterday, I thought that if I didn’t get a gameball this series it would be a disappointment but today was much more crowded:

There were no empty aisles to be found on the first base side of foul ground. I think that the rain of the day before coupled with the weekend promotions got more people to come to the last two games of the series (one of which I haven’t blogged about yet). Yet I should have caught a ball but a copule arrived at their seats which I was in. Had I been in those seats I would have most surely caught the ball.

Another thing of note is this unique peanut salesman:

If you can’t see he has a twirly hat and the glasses that come with big nose and moustache. He also had a unique form of paying. He threw a tennis ball at the person paying after he had thrown the peanuts and the person put the money they owed him on the ball by a rubber band it had on it. Though I do now wonder how he gave them back their change in coins?

That was it nothing for the game.

STATS:

  • 5 balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away)
  • numbers 125-129 for my career:

  • 68 balls in 20 games=3.4 Balls Per Game
  • 45 games straight with at least 1 ball
  • 10 straight with at least 2 balls
  • 15 straight games on the road with at least 1 ball
  • 30 balls in 6 games=5.0 Balls Per Game on this roadtrip
  • 5 balls*17,044 fans= 85,220 competition factor
  • Time at Game 4:53-9:57= 5 hours and 4 minutes

7/7/11 Astros at Marlins: Sun Life Stadium

First game at Sun Life Stadium but there was a bit of a problem:

Up until 3-ish it was really raining. The picture was taken at around 4:30 but I was worried by the overcast that the rain would return. Oh and the sweats are because I had just come in from Atlanta via plane that morning and those things are freezing inside. I kept them on because the rain made it so it didn’t warm up until after the time I got in line to get into the stadium.

That said, I had heard that no backpacks were allowed inside the stadium and heard this reinforced (sort of) when the loud speakers said no bags larger than 14x14x8. A back pack in all reality is smaller than that but I still asked a guard setting up if the bag I was carrying was allowed into the stadium. He told me that it shouldn’t be but because I asked nicely, if I got in the line with his partner that I would be allowed in. So I sacrificed a few spots in line to see where the partner would set up. It felt great being in the back of a line and only seeing this in front of me:

and then to run into the seating bowl and see this:

That’s right four people. Want to know what the sad part of that image is: ten minutes of batting practice had already passed. Sun Life only opens up an hour and a half early so knowing that there were two lefties pitching, I (err… my mom) splurged for the club level seats that make up left field and span the length of the stadium. This meant that I would be able to go up there for batting practice as well because people without tickets for that section can’t go in. I also left because maneuvering that giant tunnel in the middle of the seats is a pain (seen in last picture). If you thought the last picture was sad take a look at my competition:

The experience in left field turned out to be a good one for me not in the number of balls that I caught but rather learning what I was capable of. I have always regarded myself as a rather quiet person but found that I could actually get players to respond when I called out to them, even though I was thirty feet above them. The first person I got to toss a ball up was Wandy Rodriguez way in left center. I then got J.A. Happ to toss me a ball that I just barely got because he was starting that night and I guess didn’t want to injure his arm. Don’t worry folks, I was grabbing onto the railing with my non-catching hand and the fall would have only been five feet. Here I am with the two baseballs:

Sorry if I seem shiny-faced but the humidity is already high in Miami and that’s without rain on the concrete to evaporate. I then stayed between left and left center. Then Hunter Pence hit a Home Run to my right and I could literally walk to pick it up even though it was twenty feet away. I would have caught more hit balls but the Astros only real power threats were Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence and there were also seats in front of us that were swallowing more than half the Home Runs hit:

They are not the tarp-ed seats but in front of our section were seats used for football games that were folded up and thus had a twenty five foot gap with no rail or anything that make them off limits to the public. I was tempted to glove trick a few balls that were trapped in those seats (3) but decided against it because there was constantly security watching this area and I didn’t want to stir ill feelings in my first day at a new stadium. There was also a bit of an over hang from the upper deck and a few went up there but since the Marlins closed that for the rest of the season they were untouchable. Instead, I moved back over to right field when a few lefties came up.

Quickly I got a Home Run by an Astros lefty when he hit the a ball just above the tunnel I mentioned towards the beginning of the entry. I was on the right side of the tunnel so I ran up and over before anyone got it. I think Brett Wallace hit the ball but am not entirely sure. I had been pestering both Bud Norris and some other pitcher whose name I cannot recall now for a solid twenty minutes. They probably couldn’t toss that many balls into the stands as the Astros management is stricter than average in instructing players on this. I mean how else are you going to turn a profit while thirty games below .500. Yes, that is the worst in the majors. The point in digressing this much being, when the last ball of batting practice got hit into the tunnel just out of my reach, Bud Norris tossed a ball up to me without me even saying anything because I had, um, made my presence known shall we say. After bp ended, I looked around for a kid because I knew I hadn’t given a ball away my last game. The kid I think had a Marlins shirt on but I couldn’t tell because he didn’t turn around all the way. I had recently gotten my ball from Bud Norris but according to my labeling system I still have that ball, so I don’t know which ball I gave away.

I had some time to kill after bp So I took a quick tour of the club level. Behind our seats was a big food court:

Though, I should mention that the club level was clearly more geared towards football than baseball as many of the facilities were closed, including the food court. Something interesting that I learned when on a tour with the University of Miami’s summer program is that the Marlins really only rent the place out so any food profit actually goes to the Dolphins. Ready for some more football stuff. Here is there display case dedicated to the NCAA national championship that took place here  around two years ago:

Enough football. To prove the concourse goes all the way around, here is a picture of our ticketed seats from the councourse:

The sections within the dotted Orange box are the left field ones. Here is the only non blurry picture of course of the most boring hallway in the concourse:

Guess what else was on this level:

I then got back to my seat in time for the national anthem. Get ready for more sad. The view to my right:

To my left:

Now I know that those numbers are skewed because of the cost of the ticket but how about a look around the rest of the stadium:

I saw on various occasions people walking two sections to pick up a foul ball. I later learned that the paid attendance was 17,000 but I would say the people who should up were >5,000. I was going to move over to the upper blue seats behind the visitors (right in the picture) dugout for any extended string of lefties but there were none . I was convinced that if there was a Home Run I would have a 50-50 chance at it because I had so much potential ranging room. Then a man showed up. The two first things he said concerning me were “Oh look a real Astros fan” and “we’ve got to get you a ball”. He showed up in the second inning. No later than two minutes after he arrived, Mike Stanton hit a mammoth Home Run that according to now, ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, formerly, Hit Tracker Online, the ball went 431 feet.

Here is the link to watch it. I am the one in the black shirt that starts off a section behind the two guys about five rows apart racing each other. As you can see I was pretty far behind them when the camera loses me because I had to move up a row to avoid the railing but had the ball  been a row lower I can almost guarantee it would have been mine as I only got there half a second too late. Here is the guy that eventually got the ball:

The ball landed about two full sections away and actually bounced two rows behind him before going back into the row in front of him.

That was it no more Home Runs. I should have been on the field level.

STATS:

  • 5 balls at this game ( four in this picture because I gave the Pence ball away)
numbers 120-124 for the career:
  • 63 balls in 19 games= 3.32 Balls Per Game
  • 44 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 9 straight with at least 2 balls
  • 14 straight games on the road with at least 1 ball
  • 25 balls in 5 games= 5.0 balls per game on this raodtrip
  • 5 balls * 17,806 fans= 89,030 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:38- 10:17= 5 hours 39 minutes.

7/6/11 Rockies at Braves: Turner Field

Third and final day at Turner Field and I was very optimistic:

The first game was packed and the second game was slow HR wise in bp so why shouldn’t I have been. For those of you who don’t know, Turner Field opens 2 1/2 hours early. That means the gates were opened at 4:30 this day. I had been moving back and forth. When my mom caught up to me in a section and rightfully ask how many I had caught in forty minutes of batting practice I had to give her the second worst one-handed gesture I could have:

About five minutes later, I moved over closer to straight away left field in order to get a ball from the Rockies warming-up and en route caught  a Brooks Conrad Home Run:

but let me tell you right now that I could have easily had five baseballs. I moved back to my spot where I had been standing for ten minutes now and had moved from to catch the Conrad homer when a 14-ish year old kid came down the aisle. I moved aside and he slid right in to the row in front of me. Thirty seconds later, he called out to his dad asking if the Braves had been taking bp before then. When his dad answered yes, he pulled a ball out from under a seat and said he might have found one. Oh my goodness. How could I have not spotted that earlier. Oh yeah I’ll tell you, I figured since the stadium opened 2 1/2 hours early and most teams start hitting that early that there wouldn’t be any thing there. Still, let me show you how close I was:

The lower arrow shows where the ball had been. The upper left arrow shows where I had been standing. So this seat being an aisle seat in row 21 I was in the aisle adjacent to row 22. Gaaaah! As I explained before, I did not think at all to look for easter eggs so I have reason not to be disappointed but it was right in the row in front of me. On a lighter note, notice how the seat is designed so it cannot go completely up like the seat next to it. Whoever designed the seat forgot about the curvature of the stadium and so the armrest prevents the seat from going up.

That was it for bp the Braves weren’t really stingy and it wasn’t really crowded but people were in spots so that there wasn’t a full empty row except at the back of the left field bleachers or a ways away from home plate in deep left center. I stupidly stayed in this section of left field because, as I said, it wasn’t that crowded. The draw back was that the Home Runs that were hit always took some crazy bounce or were deflected by other people. One specific example when I came oh so close was a ball that bounced off of a person’s hands came back to me and I extended as far as I could over a seat but only managed to stop the ball’s momentum as someone picked it off the ground. I extended at chest level but did not think the scenario through as I would have gotten the ball had I extended for the ball at  a lower height (the ball was still going back towards me so if I would have given it more time to fall it would have come closer to me and thus right into my glove).  The toss-ups I normally get were also at a low as Jim Wright ignored me for half an hour and I am always afraid that if I call out to payers from too far away they will see me as impatient and not throw me a baseball when they come close to the wall. So I kept quiet but they kept away from the wall as Wright retrieved the majority of the balls. Here is a picture that describes the last sentence perfectly:

Jim Wright is the one in the middle with the ball in his hand he is standing to Houston Street I believe. Had he stayed longer (Street) I might have gotten a baseball out of him but he left soon afterwards.  I am the one in the stands with my hand and glove cupped around my mouth asking him if he could spare a baseball. You can also see the two groups of three pitchers on either side of the the picture that just stayed there. I don’t know that much about Wright but he also seemed like one of those coaches that keeps an eye out for how much the players are tossing balls into the stands and thus they don’t do it as often. Any ballhawks out there know what I am talking about? He was like a lesser Randy St.Claire this day. Kapish?

…I would also, in light of the Shannon Stone incident, like to tell any one that Turner Field, although with high walls and a gap like Ranger Ballpark, is a very safe place. In addition to the signs, like that which I am standing in front of in the previous picture, there are chains that prevent one from getting within two feet of the wall of places like bullpens. Anybody skeptical of Turner’s safety because of the gap can be assured that you would have to almost try and fall into the gap…

I then went  to the Rockies dugout in hopes of an early third out ball before going back to my ticketed seat in hopes of snagging foul balls in consecutive days. I first got Mark Ellis to toss me his pre-game warm-up ball but then a guy  reached right in front of me and grabbed the ball. I could have reached in front of him but I didn’t want to step on any toes, even if it was my last day (keep this in mind later). Thankfully, Ellis had another ball in his back pocket and threw it, this time OVER the grabby man:

Remember how I said I would get an early third out ball and run back to my section. I spent nine innings behind the dugout and did not get a single ball because of a variety of circumstances.

After the game, I went over to the umpire tunnel. At Turner Field, it is to the right side of the visitors’ dugout:

I went over there and waited for Home Plate Umpire, Cory Blaser, to walk over before asking him for a ball. He was about to walk right into the tunnel until he heard his name. At which point he back up out of the tunnel and rolled a ball across the dugout in my direction but then a teenager, younger than I , reached out in front of me  and grabbed the ball. He said the reason he did it was that he had been at the dugout the whole game and hadn’t gotten a third out ball “Wow, what do you think I’ve been doing all game”. He didn’t say sorry or offer me the ball (I wouldn’t have taken it and already had two baseballs but still that doesn’t justify his actions because he didn’t know either of those facts). Pretty disappointing considering how the game had gone to that point.

STATS:

  • 2 balls at this game
Numbers 118+119 for the career:
  • 58 balls in 18 game= 3.22 balls per game
  • 43 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 8 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 13 straight games away from NYC with at least 1 ball
  • 20 balls in 4 games= 5.0 balls per game on this trip
  • 2 balls*26,271 fans= 52,542 competition factor
  • Time at Game 3:57-9:54= 5 hours 57 minutes

7/5/11 Rockies at Braves: Turner Field

Second day at Turner Field:

I was excited because it was now the day after the fourth of July and the attendance would probably be low not only because it was a day not fourth of July but specifically because it was the day AFTER when not that many people would want to get to the game at 4:30.

As foreshadowing, my day started off poorly. I was obligated to put on sunscreen outside the gate and as a result the glove trick with fishing line (as I use it ) became a very difficult task because my hands kept slipping on the line and thus i couldn’t get a ball that fell in the LF gap:

I eventually conceded to a person with a cup trick that snagged it in five seconds after he readied his device.

Why  was I not by the first base foul line for the pitchers warming up you ask? Well because right field and all sections to the right of that were closed until 5:00 but I did eventually make my way to the center field corner spot (the spot furthest to the front and left, from my perspective, of the section). From there I had priority to any ball hit in right field. I used this to get Brain Snitker, the third base coach, to toss me a ball.

I then moved back to left field when a few righties came up and when Martin Prado tossed a ball to a kid and missed high I collected it and handed it to him right away.

Back in right field when Jason Heyward’s group came up, I used my glove trick to pick up a ball that landed in the gap between the walls:

Yes that is a Hilton pen that I have my fishing line on. Why? In order to prevent tangling like that which I pointed out at the end of the day before’s entry. There was another ball that landed in the gap later on during bp (I don’t remember when) but it was wedged perfectly between two metal strips in the gap so that I could not move it. I then moved back to left field when the Rockies pitchers came out to warm-up and got Ubaldo Jimenez to toss me a ball:

Bad News: He under threw me by two feet and the ball fell into the gap.

Good News: There was a construction/painting platform below me so I just had to lean over a bit and I picked it up.

Back to right field. I got Matt Pagnozzi to throw me a ball. As you can tell there really wasn’t much Home Run action. Had there been I might have found myself in double digits at the end of the day. Oh well, someday. There were a few that came near me but people were just in the right spots as I positioned myself to have as much open running room as possible. The picture to describe this:

I would described the feeling behind my face as tired due to running back and forth, disappointed because of the balls I got blocked on, and a little annoyed because I don’t have one shot of me actually snagging a ball. I mean I’m not catching ten balls a game so it is a bit tough with a screen that goes to sleep every five seconds but given my luck at that point the smaller details were what I was fretting about to distract myself from how the game had gone.

…Until I made it to my seat:

I mean that was AFTER the game had started. I mean literally if a foul ball landed in that section I had a 50% chance of catching it. Turns out all I needed was that one row as in the second inning Nate McLouth hit a foul ball right to that row. I only had one person to beat which was a kid behind me that also had a glove but he was talking to his dad at the time and didn’t even see the ball go up. I ran about half way through the row, put my glove up, caught the ball and then had my left leg hit the back of a seat because I had been tracking the ball. That was what I was going for so I was happy but not surprised. I stupidly did not have my mom take a picture of me after I caught the ball but here I am with it later on:

I am actually holding the smudge that the bat created on the ball towards the camera, if you can see. I also made a shocking discovery involving my first foul ball (as a ballhawk. I ended up with one in… 2000 I think.) that I had not thought through before catching this one. It had not been rubbed up much if any. Here is a picture of me with that ball that I took for a mygameballs.com article:

If you look at the color difference of the two it shows you how little this ball was rubbed up with mud. I have gotten umpire balls before that were rubbed up but I guess it took me catching a second foul ball to realize that those had just been in the game. I know this train of thought may seem weird but I just didn’t think about the ball at the time because I was too excited that I had,won a scramble for, a foul ball.

Wanting to catch another foul ball, I stayed in those seats until the seventh inning stretch. At which time, I moved over to around the Rockies dugout, via seat weaving. The view:

I got nothing in two innings (because there was no bottom of the ninth) from, first baseman at the time, Ty Wigginton. He just threw it elsewhere to one Rockies fan and one non-Rockies fan.

I then tried to once again tie my career high by getting the home plate umpire (I don’t remember who) to toss me one of his excess baseballs. He either had none or wasn’t in the mood after being argued with by both teams various times and walked straight into the umpires’ room.

Next up was the bullpen guys who just had no baseballs with them. Actually I shouldn’t say that. The bullpen guys always have a ginormous bag full of baseballs but unless one of the actual pitchers picked a ball up before it was put into that bag and had it in his pocket it is unlikely the person carrying the bag will go through the trouble of setting the bag down, unzipping it, taking a ball out and zipping it back up again just to give a ball to one of their out-of-town fans. I would have been fine with this but I was on my way out of the stadium when, rookie bullpen pitcher, Rex Brothers arrived and started signing autographs. I ran down in hopes of getting a ball signed when he stopped signing. The culmination of these things led to this face (notice I did not forget my attention grabbing Rockies shirt this time):

STATS:

  • 6 balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave two away)
Numbers 112-117 for the career:
  • 56 balls in 17 games= 3.29 balls per game
  • 42 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 3 straight games with at least 5 balls
  • 12 straight games outside of New York with at least 1 ball
  • 6 balls*17,718 fans=106,308 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:18- 10:13=5 hours 55 minutes
because I cannot find the camera upload cable I will today be skipping ahead to my second game in Miami until I get back to NYC.

7/4/11 Rockies at Braves: Turner Field

Oh Fourth of July. The proud day where Americana reigns supreme and the gates open… THREE HOURS EARLY?! Thank goodness my mom had taken a tour at 3:00 because had she not gone I would have showed up a little late for the gates as she warned me via phone of this scheduling change. As I arrived I saw this:

Nothing horrible but then I got the priviledge of sitting for half an hour doing nothing:

My first “ball” of the day was sort of a weird situation as Bullpen coach Eddie Perez threw a ball to a person. That person rejoiced because he thought he had gotten a ball. Eddie then flapped his glove like he wanted it to be thrown back. The man threw it back and Eddie continued this process with several other people. Eventually, I convinced Eddie to throw me the ball but then had to throw it back. I have had this situation happen to me before where I have caught a ball and the player asked for it back but the number of people that actually touched this ball makes me wonder if I should count it. For the moment, I am counting it but let me use the handy dandy poll daddy widget to find out the readers’ reaction/opinion

When the Braves pitchers began to warm-up along the 1st base foul line. You can expect I made my way over there (I was in left field). My mother however, thought I was coming back to left field right after the pitchers ended their warm-up. So before I go into detail on a miny snagging rampage here is a picture of a group of pitchers in left-center field (if you’re a little lost my mom had the camera so I don’t have any pictures of said rampage):

Now to the rampage. Although I didn’t get any balls from the pitchers warming up, a ball got hit to the wall in the right field corner where George Sherrill picked it up. Since I was in foul ground I was the closest to him because of a tunnel leading back into the depths of stadium where there were obviously no seats. So I called out and he promptly tossed me the ball. I then moved into the actual right field seats and caught a Home Run from a lefty I didn’t recognize at the time, but later identified as Freddie Freeman. This due to the fact that it was the exact same swing as Home Run he hit during the actual game (to be seen later). I stayed put in left field because a) there were a lot of lefties up and b) this was the crowd in left field at almost that exact same time:

You can see in the background how much less crowded the right field seats were. Anyway, a ball got hit into the Braves bullpen in right center field and no one went after it but me. Scott Proctor was in the bullpen and as he picked up the ball I got him to throw it to me . While I was coming back down the steps, a ball got hit and a kid around seven years old managed to stop it but it dropped into the gap between the walls and so I swooped in with my glove trick and after a bunch of tangling brought it up and handed it to him.

While in right, I noticed a fair amount of balls going into the center field bleachers (or Pavillion as the Braves so graciously renamed it). Like just as many as in left and right. Since it was 400+ feet from home plate to glove so there weren’t that many people there  but in all actuality the rightmost section (looking from home plate) is really right center and isn’t that out of the question when it comes to Home Runs.  Anyway, five minutes after I got there, Brian McCann hit a Home Run to that rightmost section I ran  and set up right behind the (barehanded) person camped under it but he deflected it forward and a third person out-scrambled him for it. This turned out to blessing in disguise as a the next pitch McCann launched a ball back to my right  and all I had to do was run ten steps and catch it. For those keeping score at home that is now six balls on the day, five sans Perez ball.

I met back with my mom in Left Field and stayed there for the remainder of Braves bp because I wanted to wait until the Rockies pitchers finished throwing:

I got nothing from them and returned to right field, this time with a photographer. The closest I came to a ball in left field because of the crowd was a ball that landed in the gap. I had my glove trick and got to the point quickest but gave way to a person with a cup trick type thing a few moments afterward. I add on the “type thing” because it was a cup trick but I am used to something other than a roll of duct tape being used as a weight:

Anyway, Rockies batting practice was pretty slow. Not necessarily in terms of balls hit into the stands but it seemed like there were never balls hit close enough to the stands to shout to the players for toss-ups. It was also pretty crowded in right field on the aisles so of course let me give you a picture of the middle of the row:

Towards the middle of Rockies batting practice, a lefty hit a Home Run to my right. I was two sections so I came a little late to the party but managed to win the scramble when the barehanded person inevitably dropped the ball and I scooped it up.  I then proceeded to give the ball to a kid also chasing it. I probably should have given it to a kid with a glove but it was more of a reactionary move to endear myself to the section as they had seen me snag a few balls. I just kept trying the players from close up using words and from far away using gestures:

but it was hopeless as I forgot my attention grabbing Rockies shirt in a rush to get to the stadium and just had my hat add that to the fact it was the Fourth of July and the stadium was packed, even in bp. So batting practice ended:

and I was happy as I had set my season high and tied my career high for balls in a game. I didn’t try to go for third out balls and set a new career high just yet. If it were to come, it would be a Home Run or a bullpen ball that sent me to #8 as this was the view from my seat:

Guess what. A Home Run did come within twenty feet of me and guess who caught it. Not me. This was my view right after the catch as I had to watch helplessly because of the crowd:

I mean he caught it on the fly so there was nothing I could really do about it but still I go in my mind to thinking how that would have played out on a day that was not the fourth of July. That of course, the Freddie Freeman Home Run that I referenced earlier that helped me identify him as the one that hit the ball that I caught.

There were mostly lefties hitting so I just watched the spectacle that was a family trying to land more peanut shells on the first wall than each other:

In the eighth inning it started to rain and the section really emptied out but it was too late:

as there were only six hitters after that point.

Still the Braves commemorated my six/seven ball performance with some nice fireworks:

a

Can you spot my hotel? I am staying at the Holiday Inn. I stayed for the entire fireworks ceremony and ended up drenched:

The funny part about that picture is the camera didn’t move that much it was the water on the lens that made it look so blurry.

Oh and remember how I said my glove trick got tangled on the first ball. Here is a picture of it after I got home:

Just keep that in mind when I write my next entry today/tomorrow.

STATS  

  • Seven balls at this game ( four pictured because I kept that many)
Which would be numbers 105-111 on the career:
  • 50 balls in 16 games= 3.13 balls per game
  • 41 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 11 straight outside of New York
  • 7 balls*36,137 fans= 252,959 competition factor
  • Time at game 3:38- 11:27=7 hours 49 minutes A record I do not think I will break any time soon.
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