June 2012

6/26/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Before I get started with this entry, I’ve been posting entries pretty quickly in the last 48 hours, so you may not have been able to read the  entires that preceded this one. Here are the links to the two entries, so you can give them the love they deserve:

1. The Bergino Baseball Clubhouse- A couple of weeks ago, I went to this baseball store, so I wrote an entry about my trip there using the pictures I took. Please, if you are a baseball fan, read the entry; even more so if you live in New York.

2. 6/25/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium- When I publish this entry you are reading, this entry will be less than 24 hours after the entry I am talking about, I want to make sure all you readers who check every so often know that I did indeed write an entry before this that you can read if you to.

Onto the account of the game…

I arrived a little late Yankee Stadium for my taste, and expected a bit of a line in front of me, but c’mon, this is ridiculous:

Thankfully, there were some other ballhawks at the front of the line, so I not so discreetly slipped into line with them. We all talked for the ten to fifteen minutes I was in line, and I actually found out, when I said I was going to the University of Minnesota, that one of them was originally from Minnesota; more specifically, a suburb of the Twin Cities by the name of Apple Valley. It was great that I had people I could stand in line with. However, when it came to the gates opening, two of the other ballhawks had announced they were going to right field. Therefore, I decided to try my chances in left field. In all likelihood, this cost me a ball. I remember one of the ballhawks named George coming over to left field after a few minutes and saying, “Yeah, there were only a few balls hit over there.” To this I responded, “There haven’t been ANY over here yet.” Whatever, all I needed was two baseballs and I was set for the game. I was currently sitting on baseball #298, and I really wanted to get #300 on what would have been my deceased dad’s 70th birthday.

This was my view of the field from my spot in left field:

It was pretty evident early on the pitchers in this part of the ballpark weren’t going to be throwing up many balls. Myself and George were yelling out their names, but they kept throwing balls into the infield ballboy (who was the one I went to high school with).

Just soon after that, a ball got hit to my right, and…well I’ll just diagram what happened in this picture:

The dotted lines are the path the ball took in the air and then when it hit the ground, the solid line emanating from the bottom of the screen is my path to the ball, and the other solid guy coming from the guy in the Yankee jacket (which I also own) is his path as he was really the only one competing with me for the ball. As I ran after the ball, it bounced off the concrete and thankfully didn’t bounce away, so I picked it up before that guy got to the ball.

Then Andruw Jones stepped up to the plate. H hit a ball so far to my left, I was considering not even chasing it because I thought it would go into the visitors’ bullpen. For some reason, though, I went half way through my row in semi-pursuit. I’m guessing my thought was it might bounce off the bleachers and come back to me. The ball narrowly missed both of those and went into the tunnel right next to the bullpen and cutting into the bleachers. I ran in after the ball and retrieved number 300. SUCCESS:

I didn’t really celebrate; instead I asked the kid who called me a “son of a…” were his glove was, making sure to say I might have given him a ball if he had a glove on. Of course I wouldn’t have given him #300, but I might have pulled out the previous ball. I’m not really strict about giving balls to kids with gloves, but the older the person, the more they need a glove, in my mind, before I give them a ball.

After this, I lined up in foul territory behind the Indians pitchers and position players:

Remember how the previous day I was having trouble getting players to toss me a ball because I only had an Indians hat? I came up with a little solution to that:

I printed out the Indians logo and simply taped it to my shirt, so it would kind of look like I had Indians stuff on. Right then, I got to see it work for the first time:

The player I have pointed out with my arrow threw me a ball right as he left the field. Anyone have an idea who he is. He’s probably a position player, if that helps at all.

After that, I went over to try to get a ball from one of the pitchers. While I was walking over there, Zack Hample was already calling out to the pitching coach, Scott Ridinsky, telling him, “Scott, show me the gun!” Ridinsky then threw a ball clear over his head, and I was in just the right row that I was able to jog to the right spot and make the catch. Sorry, Zack. Zack then looked back at Ridinsky with a look as if to say, “What happened?” Ridinsky then pointed as his arm as if to say, “I guess it’s too strong.”

I then messed around trying to get Chris Perez to toss me a ball with the University of Miami shirt I had on, but when I gave up trying this, I moved over to the right field seats (because the left field side was checking tickets), where I caught a home run off the bat of Travis Hafner. I then went to the left field bleachers where I got Chris Perez to toss me a ball. Both balls are pictured in the next picture:

The smaller arrows show what happened on the first ball, and the larger arrows show what happened on the second:

1. Travis Hafner hit a ball to my right, so I moved over and even though I thought the ball was clearly going over my head, I took a little jump and amazingly the ball was in my glove when I came back down. I then looked back to see I had robbed Zack of a ball a second time. Don’t worry for him, though. He still managed to set the Yankee Stadium record this game. The thing that stunk about this ball for me was there was an Indians player on the field who had told me he would throw me the next ball he got, but just as he fielded this ball, I caught the Hafner home run, so he didn’t throw me the ball. Had that ball been hit two seconds later, I would have had two balls from the right field seats.

2. Soon after the Hafner ball, security cleared out everyone in the right field seats who didn’t have a ticket, so I went up to my ticketed section in the left field bleachers. After I got there, a ball got hit to Chris Perez, who is one of the friendliest players in the league, so I called out to him, he turned around, and threw me the ball. Pretty simple, right? I then gave that ball away to the kid in the “Ruth” t-shirt in the next picture:

I spent most of the rest of my time in the bleachers trying to get an overthrow from another Perez toss-up, since he was tossing so many balls up.

That would be it for batting practice. After batting practice, I would first try to get  a ball from the groundskeeper in the visitors’ bullpen:

After that failed I went up to the top of the batter’s eye, where this was my view:

Why? Do you see the guy wit the arrow pointing at him? That would be Yankees bullpen coach, Mike Harkey. After the day’s starter has finished warming up, he usually tosses around five balls into the stands. I obviously had a ticket in the left field bleachers, so this was as close as I could get. When he looked my way, I waved my arms like crazy, so he tossed the ball my way. Here is the ball:

Why do I have that usher in the picture? I told him beforehand I was trying to get a ball from Harkey, so when Harkey threw the ball up to me, it was drifting to my right and this guy caught it and then handed it to me. So yeah, technically I didn’t get the ball from Harkey, but I would have caught the ball had this guy not been there. Just then I realized I had set my record for most ball in a game when Yankee Stadium had cleared both sides of the outfield seats before batting practice had ended. Not a bad way to celebrate June 26th at all.

As for the game, this was my view:

You see the player in the lower right picture? That would be Dewayne Wise. He made a very controversial catch in this game, so I feel almost obligated to mention I was at this game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the link. Other than that, Phil Hughes pitched an incredible game, going, I believe, eight scoreless innings before the Yankees bullpen nearly gave the game back. The final score was 6-4. Oh and want to see what my “Indians” shirt looked like after the game?

I just wanted to share one more picture from the game:

The special thing about this picture is Justin Masterson was at 100 inning pitched on the season. This may seem uneventful, but how many people actually reach 100 innings in a season before the All-Star break? I mean you can count out all relievers. To make it even more unusual, he had two outs in the inning, so I really only had a few seconds to realize it. Also, I think it’s pretty special that we both passed milestones this game. Masterson with his 100th inning and myself with my 300th ball. I don’t know, maybe i’m trying to manufacture something, but I love it when numbers match up like that.

Speaking of which…

STATS:

  • 7 Balls at this Game (6 pictured because I gave 1 away)

numbers 299-305 for my life:

  • 83 Balls in 17 Games= 4.88 Balls Per Game
  • 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 7 Balls x 43,006 Fans= 301,042 Competition Factor
  • 61 Balls in 17 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.59 Balls Per Game
  • 17 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • Time Spent On Game 4:13- 10:17= 6 Hours 4 Minutes

6/25/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

When I left my apartment, it just started raining. When I got to the ballpark, it wasn’t, but the line was already somewhat long:

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What was the net result of my weather situation? This:

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Bleh. It looked like getting number 300 would be a challenge today. I was currently at 296, but getting four baseballs at Yankee Stadium without batting practice isn’t that easy. Heck, getting four while there IS batting practice is no cake walk either.

See those two players warming up? That was Cody Eppley and Dave Robertson. Naturally, I moved over to try to get a ball from them. I didn’t. However, while I was waiting for them to finish up their throwing, an usher with a Yankee hat was walking through the Legends seats with a ball. I asked him for it, and he let me have it:

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After that, I moved over to the other side of the stadium to the Cleveland Indians pitchers warming up. Every time they threw it to someone else. I think I probably would have had a couple toss-ups, had I actually brought an Indians shirt, but all I had was an Indians batting practice- not really decipherable from 100ft away- and a generic red shirt. A fan I had seen at prior games, whose name I discovered this game was Eddy, had full Indians stuff, so he got four balls from the Indians.

After all the Indians pitchers left the field, Eddy and I sat down behind the visitors dugout and talked while we waited for some sign of movement out of the dugout for another chance at a few baseballs. We discussed a variety of things baseball, ranging from reckless aggressiveness in the stands to how we got started catching baseballs. While this was going on, I noticed there was an unusual amount of notable media members.  I guess this is pretty random, but I saw: Tim Kurkjian, Keith Olbermann, and Harold Reynolds all down by the dugout. It would be one thing if they were all from the same network, but those were three members of the media coming for (presumably) three different reasons. Reynolds was the only one who had cameras following him, so I assume he was doing something for MLB Network. Kurkjian was almost definitely there because this game was on Monday Night Baseball. As for Olbermann, he’s just a baseball fan, or nerd as he describes himself. When he was between networks last year, he went to a New York baseball game almost every night despite the fact that he was on crutches. I’m guessing that was the case here. He actually struck up a pretty long conversation with Manny Acta that lasted as long as my conversation with Eddy.

My conversation with Eddy was broken up when an usher came down and asked for our tickets. We then went our separate ways. I stupidly didn’t get a picture of him or of both of us, but he’s at most games, so I’m sure I’ll get a picture sometime. Anyway, he went to his seat in the lower level right field seats, and I went to my seat in the left field bleachers (for those who don’t know, the bleachers are the section right above the lower outfield seats, but cost 10-15 times less than those seats, given the day.

Once I got up to my seats, I watched the day’s starter, Josh Tomlin, warm up. While he was warming up, a ball dropped in the mud and the pitching coach (who was in the bullpen to watch Tomlin warm up as all pitching coaches do) picked it up and tossed it up to me after I asked him for the ball. He then moved out of the frame just as I took this picture:

Do you notice how dirty looking the ball is? Actually, that’s not the dirtiest part of the ball. I took off my glove and turned the ball around for this picture to show the even dirtier side of the ball, which is still like that as I type this sentence:

Now I can say I have a mud sample from the Yankee Stadium bullpen. A shallow victory, yes; but a victory nonetheless.

That was it for snagging. My seat was soaked from the rain, but I reluctantly sat down for the rest of the night as I watched the Yankees cream the Indians behind stellar pitching and hitting performances of Hiroki Kuroda and Robinson Cano, respectively.

Another thing of note in this game is that in one of the later innings, Nick Swisher started off the inning with a sliding catch. Even if you aren’t from New York, you may know that Nick Swisher is absolutely adored by Yankee fans to begin with. Whenever he makes a sliding/diving catch, there’s a pretty big cheer. After that sliding catch, he went onto make the next two catches in the inning, the latter of which ended with him in a very awkward position. The place went nuts for that. If that weren’t enough, he was leading off the inning immediately after those three catches. You can imagine he got a pretty big ovation.

Oh, and for the record, this was my view the whole game:

After the game, I tried to get bullpen coach, Dave Miller, to toss me a ball, but he didn’t even look up when I yelled his name. I tried throughout the game to get a ball from both of the Indian’s two bullpen catchers, whose first names I only know: Francisco and Armando. However, even though they looked my direction, I think there was the same problem of them not being able to see my Indians hat’s logo.

STATS:

  • 2 Balls at this Game

numbers 297-298 for my career:

  • 76 Balls in 16 Games this season= 4.75 Balls Per Game
  • 25 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 2 Balls x 42,290 Fans= 84,580 Competition Factor
  • 54 Balls in 16 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.38 Balls Per Game
  • 16 straight games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
  • Time Spent On Game 4:10- 10:22= 6 hours 12 Minutes

The Bergino Baseball Clubhouse

A while ago, when I was writing an entry about all the stuff I had collected over the couple of years I have been ballhawking, I found a unique ball that had all (or close to all) of the MLB ballparks. This particular ball was still in the package, so I could see who made it.At the time, I was tweeting out a bunch of pictures of what I was finding while going through my collection of  “stuff”. I wanted to mention the maker if they were on twitter, so I looked them up and mentioned that they had made that ball. The owner, who also runs the twitter account, then replied and followed me.

Later, I saw the Bergino Baseball clubhouse on a slideshow made by CNBC of the “Baseball’s Greatest Attractions”. Right after I saw this, my thought was, ” This is one of the top baseball attractions in the country, and the owner follows me on twitter. How have I not already been down there? I should really go before I start going to a bunch of games.” As many of you know, my schedule really starts up next week when I got to 8 games in 9 days, so I figured this week would be as good as any to go.

After some walking and forgetting what side of Manhattan I was, I arrived at The Bergino Baseball Clubhouse:

For the record, this wasn’t a picture I took, but rather, a screen shot of a video I took of me getting lost in downtown Manhattan. Long story short, I was planning to make this a vlog entry, but my last vlog reminded me how long a process uploading a video to YouTube is, so I probably won’t upload that video.

Once I got in, a man greeted me inside. Since there was no one else in the store, I presumed it was the owner, Jay Goldberg. I introduced myself as Mateo Fischer, and by his reaction, he recognized the name. I then spent the better part of what must have been close to two hours taking pictures and having Jay explain the different items in the store to me.

Before I get started, I must say, do check the blog’s Facebook page. I will include various pictures of the store in this entry, but there are several pictures I took that I can’t segue into and aren’t in the entry.

As you enter the store, there are the following things set-up in your path:

A game-used base stool.

Some mostly generic baseballs.

Some more specific baseballs.

Of course, these baseballs were just the ones on display; here are all the baseballs that were for sale:

Yeah, and you thought *I* had a lot of baseballs.

To the left of that shelf of baseballs, was this wall:

The items there are pretty self-explanatory, right? I should note, though, that it is not an actual glove you are seeing, but rather a wooden sculpture of one.

Opposite this wall is a wall Jay described as having different pieces of “baseball art”. I use quotations because although, he and I both consider the items on the wall art, they aren’t all what most people would consider pieces of art. You know what, I’ll just include a picture so you can see for yourself:

Since I’m all out of transitions between pictures, I just want to include four more things, so here they are:

1.

This is a Bob Gibson poster from what appears to be a game at Forbes Field. What’s so special about that? Well as Jay pointed out, it’s that it is just that- a Bob Gibson poster from a game at Forbes Field. Can you imagine if that was today? There would be at least one sponsor’s logo on the poster. Heck, this poster doesn’t even have Bob Gibson’s name on it. You’re just supposed to know it’s Bob Gibson.

2.

In addition to the balls they design, Bergino also makes specialty baseballs for companies or events. For example, the middle ball is for a kid’s bar mitzvah. As you can also see, there are mini-gloves that they also make. They are designed to be business card holders, but according to Jay, people get creative with their usage, e.g. as gloves for babies.

3. Jay wants Jackie Robinson to always have the strongest presence in the clubhouse- I don’t know how many pieces relate to Jackie Robinson on the “wall of baseball art”, but there are several, and here is one of them:

Another piece I photographed in the store relating to Jackie Robinson is this one:

4.

You may recognize this painting, but regardless, the story behind it could very well be more interesting. The artist is a French woman who came over to America. She had never seen baseball before, but she went with a friend to a Mets game, and although she had no clue what was going on, she loved the energy in the stadium. She then became a baseball fan, and now, she only paints about baseball (I think I got that last part right, but I may have one of those Andy Pettitte “misremembering” incidents).

Anyway, that’s it. I bought two hats; an Oakland A’s hat and a Bergino hat, and because I had told my schedule, and he knew I would be at 4 different stadiums this week, he gave me a bag tag for free that is on my backpack as I write this entry:

I then got a picture of Jay with the store before I left:

(Notice the TV in the corner. As far as I can tell, it is turned on constantly to MLB Network.)

That was it. It was a really great experience. It is a really great store for any baseball fan contrary to what you would think for a store that really isn’t that big. Again, I urge you to check the blog’s Facebook page, which can be accessed by clicking on the link in the sidebar over there —>. There are far more pictures, and as I always do with pictures that have an entry attached to them, I add a caption for almost every picture.

6/24/12 Nationals at Orioles: Camden Yards

Oh, ’twas a frustrating day at National Park at Camden Yards. First, I missed my train from Washington’s Union Station due to a failure in the DC Metro system. I would say the DC Metro is usually a good transit system, but when it comes to construction and weekend schedules, it’s questionable at best. I had both things going against me.

Once I finally walked to Union Station, I got a ticket on the next train to Baltimore. The problem with this train was it was scheduled to arrive in Baltimore-Penn Station at 11:10. Walking, it is usually half an hour from there to Camden Yards. I was going to have to run down to make the gate time of 11:30. To make matters more uncertain, I texted the person who usually gets tickets for me in Baltimore, Avi Miller, and he somehow didn’t know I was coming. He said he was waiting for people to maybe buy his last two tickets from him. The first thing that came to mind was, ” Ruh-roh.”

Thankfully, I was running down hill and managed to get there at 11:21. When I got there, though, I didn’t see anyone I recognize, most importantly, I didn’t see Avi. As I may have have mentioned in another entry from this week, Avi goes to a LOT of Orioles games, and I don’t really, so I thought he had left the country to escape my ticket-grabbing self.

Then at 11:27, Avi miraculously showed up with a ticket. Yes, my day was indeed saved. I wouldn’t have to wander the streets of Baltimore for the next six hours. There you have it people, Avi Miller keeps kids off the streets and on the ball field. I should have gotten a picture with him there, but I was probably thinking the gates were going to open any minute.

Why do I bore you with all the things going up to the game? Well because once I got in the stadium, there wasn’t anything more exciting going on:

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The only action on the field for about the first ten minutes was the Friday’s starter, Jason Hammel throwing warming up and throwing a bullpen session (at least I think that’s what it was):

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I waited around, until suddenly there was movement on the Nationals side of the field. I put on my Nationals gear and headed over there to set up behind these guys:

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The far right person would be Craig Stammen. After he finished playing catch, the coach with whom he was throwing ended up with the ball and tossed it back with the other two you can see in the lower left part of the picture.

The far left person was Tom Gorzelanny. After he finished playing catch, his throwing partner, Ryan Mattheus, held onto the ball. At this time, all other people were allowed into the seating bowl besides season-ticket holders, so when Mattheus finally did toss the ball up, I had a lot more competition, and lost out as a result.

The next pair to start throwing was Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett, so I tried to set up deeper, and hope Burnett would end up with the ball since Clippard is underrated as an “unfan-friendly” player:

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Clippard ended up with the ball and of course ignored a request for the ball.

The next two players to start throwing were Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg. I tried the same tactic, this time hoping Strasburg got the ball. While he is not that generous with toss-ups himself, Zimmerman has a reputation as not tossing balls into the crowd:

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Of course Zimmerman ended up with the ball, and I still had nothing.

Probably the most frustrating thing about this day, though, was that had I gotten a ball from the first throwing group, I could have gotten about 5 signatures of prolific pitchers. Here you can see Strasburg signing:

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but he was hardly the only one. If he was a pitcher for the Nationals, he probably signed on this day. Let me list off all the names that signed for fans:
Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard, Mike Gonzalez, Gio Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Mattheus, Stephen Strasburg, and Jordan Zimmerman.  I was waiting to snag a ball to get signed… but that never came.

I was still at zero balls when the game went under way, so I camped out here for the whole game:

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Even as the Nationals fan that went up every inning after the third out, I got nothing. Of course, I was in the spot perfect for getting a ball from the first baseman Adam LaRoche, and only one inning ended in a ground out.

I should just show an example of Camden Yards fans being nice. The people whose seats I had been sitting in actually let me keep sitting there and themselves sat behind me, “until someone shows up.” That ended up being the whole game. They offered me peanuts and to buy me something to drink. They then lauded my “ambition/ passion” and said they wished their son had as much as I do.

In New York, people who saw me in their seats would have probably just given me a “get outta here”. Well not really that specific phrase, but they would have asked me to move.

Maybe it was because I was simply enjoying going after the third out balls, or talking with these two fans, but unlike other games where I had zero balls during the game, here I wasn’t nervous at all.

As the game winded down, I left my seat to get an “Orange Chill” and to got to the umpire’s tunnel. There I called out to the umpire, David Rackley, and after giving away a few balls to kids at the mouth of the tunnel, he tossed one up to me:

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You can call me Houdini.

I then headed over to a restaurant whose name I believe was California Tortialla and watched the PSO for Italy- England along with Avi and his friend Zevi, who had also accompanied to the gates and as far as I can tell, throughout the game.  When they had to catch their ride, I headed up the hill to Baltimore-Penn Station with the water and chips they had so graciously provided, where I would catch my bus back to New York.

Bye, bye Camden Yards. Until next time:

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STATS:

• 1 Ball at this Game

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number 296 for my career:

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• 74 Balls in 15 Games this season= 4.93 Balls Per Game
• 24 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 1 Ball x 41,794 Fans= 41,794 Competition Factor
• 8 straight Games at Camden Yards with at least 1 Ball
• Time Spent On Game 8:30 AM- 11:45 PM= 14 Hours 15 Minutes

6/22/12 Nationals at Orioles: Camden Yards

There was only one word to describe this day in Baltimore: crazy.

Everything started out perfectly normal and fine, though. I arrived at Gate H around 50 minutes before the opening time and ate my Subway sandwich:

A crowd then started gathering outside the gate, and I checked my phone to see what time it was. It was 4:25, but the more important thing I saw was that the person with my ticket, Avi Miller, had sent me a message saying he would probably be there by 4:50 because he was having problems with the LightRail. He was right, but it was a nerve-racking experience awaiting him as it got closer and closer to the gate opening time.

After a couple of minutes inside, this was the view to my right:

Yep, one person that could possibly compete with me. What are those numbers? Oh those are just locations of balls I had caught. Yes, that is a nine in the fourth row. Was that my last ball of the day? I’m not telling you; read the rest of the entry and you’ll find out.

See what I mean? Crazy. By the time I took that picture, I had already caught three ball on the fly. The location of which, you can see in the picture. Avi identified the hitter of the first ball as J.J. Hardy. The next two I’m pretty sure were both hit by Mark Reynolds.

Here was the view to my left:

After I caught my third ball of the game, a kid asked me what my name was. I don’t know why he did, but I responded and asked what his name was. It was Michael Myers. He then engaged me in a short conversation, so I offered to give him my next ball of the day. Naturally, he agreed. After a few minutes of inaction, however, he asked me, “can’t you just give me one now.” to which I responded, “Just wait, I’ll give you my next one.” he then asked back, “Well how do you know you’ll get another?” To that I simply said,” I’m pretty sure I’ll get another.” Sure enough, approximately 4 minutes later, Mark Reynolds hit another shot over my head and to my left, where I chased it down and picked it up. You can see part of the “4″ where I got the ball in the last picture. I then went back down and gave this ball to him.

You have already seen the “5″ spot, but here I took a picture of the ball itself:

After I took this picture, it occured to me that Michael probably wasn’t ever going to get a commemorative ball. Given that every ball I had snagged up to that point was commemorative except the one I gave him, I made an exchange with him so he could have the commemorative ball instead of the standard “Selig” ball (yes, when I made the exchange, I explained what I meant by a “Selig” ball).

You’ve already seen the “6″ spot. It was hit by a righty in the second hitting group I saw. I tracked this ball throughout this whole flight and caught it on the fly, where I then proceeded to almost fall down after glancing off an Oriole Park cupholder. I would later or then give this ball away.

I should actually explain something before it gets too late in the entry. The action was coming so fast ( caught a small percentage of the balls that went into the left field seats) that I never had time to write down notes until batting practice ended, so although I know that I caught a ball in the location where I wrote the “6″ and then almost fell down, I don’t know if that was necessarily my sixth ball of the day. Some things I *DO* know are: All but one of my balls was hit, all of my balls were snagged in the left field seats, I caught five balls on the fly, and I “gave” away 6 balls. If you want to know why there may be some inaccuracies, I took pictures like this to remind myself of where I had snagged baseballs:

Gee, thanks, Mateo. Which of the five baseballs I snagged in this area is this supposed to remind me of?

Why do I write “gave” in quotations? Ball number seven. A ball was hit way over my head and to my left. So, I ran to about the spot where I thought it would land. It landed a few rows above that, so I raced after it. I grabbed the ball, but another kid grabbed the ball right after that. I know I could have pulled the ball away from him, but I didn’t want to be like that, so I let go. I count this because I *did* have possesion; I just decided not to keep it. Here is the kid:

Yes, I use the term “kid” very loosely. With me it can mean anyone from about 2 to about 18 years old. If we’re going off purely technicalities, though, a kid means a young goat.

Around this time, a man approached me to introduce himself. He said that he had seen me a few times on Zack Hample’s blog. He also mentioned he had been on there a few times. With this little tidbit, he also added, “I’m Helmet Guy.” Then it all made sense. I had seen him a few times at Citi Field in the two prior seasons. He owns, I believe a helmet from all thirty teams. His real name, though is Brendan Sammon. Here he is giving a “thumbs up” after jokingly complaining that all people wanted to “see [was] the helmet” (he was wearing a Nationals hat when he introduced himself, but I asked him if he could put on his helmet for the picture, since, you know, he IS “Helmet Guy”. I’m pretty sure he even had a custom shirt that says that on the back.

I then got my 7th ball in a spot that I didn’t photograph behind me- hence the lack of a “7″ spot. It was an absolutely perfect Camden Yards commemorative ball. I gave that to this man in the bright orange shirt:

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He then gave it to his son.

Why does it look so crowded around him? AfterI got ball number 8, whose spot I have already shown, the left field seats opened up to non-season ticket holders. So this is what the seats looked like to my left and right:

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Regardless, I was feeling pretty good about myself having already snagged 8 balls to that point…until Avi came back to me. Right as he got to me, he said, “should I thank you now or later?” Apparently, no one had gone for Nationals toss-ups, so Avi (wearing Orioles gear) got 8 toss-ups from the Nationals pitchers. I was of course wearing bright red Nationals attire. How many of those would I have gotten? Four? Six? All I can say is: crazy.

During Nationals B.P., I got two balls. The first I caught on the fly in the spot you saw labeled “9″. Both this and the next one may have been either Michael Morse or Ryan Zimmerman.

The next ball I picked up off the ground in another place I never took a picture of, but this one was more to my right than the “7″ spot I also didn’t photograph. I gave this ball away to a kid on the spot.

Of course, everything was going so crazy, I didn’t know what number I was up to. All I knew was I had given five balls away. I was going to count how many I still had later on to find out my grand total.

I then rendezvoused with Brendan by the bullpens. This time, his son, Patrick, was with him. You see, previously, his son was stuck on Eutaw street, since they bought a ticket from a dealer who had advertised it as a season ticket when it hadn’t been.

While I talked to him, the Nationals’ bullpen coach, Jim Lett, walked into the bullpen. I leaned over the side and asked him for a ball. He looked up, picked a ball off the ground and tossed it to me:

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Notice anything strange about the ball?

Here’s a better picture:

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Oh. My. Goodness. I had set up my schedule, so I would be in position to get as many of the six commemorative baseballs out this season as I could. The only ball, however, that I would have to luck out on was the Fenway Park commemorative, since I wasn’t going to go to Yankees-Red Sox, and I wasn’t going to see a team the Red Sox had just played. How the commemoratives got to this game. I don’t know. I wasn’t about to question it either.

Right after I got my ball, Lett also tossed Patrick his first ball of the game. This was an Oriole Park commemorative. In batting practice, Brendan had caught a Michael Morse BOMB that had made it all the way to the cross-aisle behind the left field seats. This ball was a Fenway commemorative. They actually switched up balls and asked me to take a picture of them, so I figured I’d share it with you. I assume it’s okay since I took the picture of Brendan earlier for myself:

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After that, the tarp went on the field, and I met up with Avi, after which, he took me to the Suite Level. Yes, you technically need a ticket, but this was Camden Yards, not Citi Field, so naturally no one checked. Due to this and other amenities, I made a few cracks about how spoiled he and the other regulars here were.

Once the game began, after an hour-long rain delay, I went out to my usual spot in right field, where this was the view:

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No, I didn’t actually see ANY of the game.

While I was out there, though, I went through and counted all the baseballs in my backpack. My record for one game had been 10 baseballs, so when I found out I had gotten 11, this was my reaction:

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Not only had I gotten 11 balls, but my 11th had been the commemorative I wasn’t supposed to get.

However, since the game had been delayed, and my train back to Washington left at 10:15, I had to leave in the middle of the sixth inning. On my way out, though, I gave away my sixth ball to a kid on Eutaw street.

I then took a picture of said street from outside the stadium:

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Bye, Camden Yards. See ya later today.

You think the crazy was done for the day? No, not quite. I left the game at 9:38, but even though Washington is 45 minutes from Baltimore, a series of delays caused me to get back to the apartment at 1:32. Thus, you can expect a new stat at the end of this entry.

STATS:

• 11 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave 6 away)

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numbers 284-295 for my “career “:

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• 73 Balls in 14 Games= 5.21 Balls Per Game
• 23 straight Games with at least 1Balll
• 3 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 5 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 7 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 8 Balls
• 11 Balls x 45,891 Fans= 504,801 Competition Factor
• 38 Balls in 7 Games at Camden Yards= 5.43 Balls Per Game
• 7 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Camden Yards
• 4 straight Games at Camden Yards with at least 2 Balls
• 3 straight Games at Camden Yards with at least 3 Balls
• 3 straight Games at Camden Yards with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games at Camden Yards with at least 5 Balls
• Time spent on the game ( This statistic differs from “Time at Game” in that it includes the time spent traveling between my residence and the ballpark for that day) So this day I left my apartment at 1:30 PM. I got back there at 1:32 AM, so the “Time Spent On the Game would be 12 Hours 2 Minutes

6/21/12 Rays at Nationals: Nationals Park

Ah. Another day, another game at Nationals Park. This time with extra 5 Hour Energy:

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There were some people giving out free samples, so I took a couple if for nothing more than the hydration they gave me on a scorching day.

Once I got inside the gates, I first went over to right field to try to get a ball from the pitchers pictured:

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Nothing. Every one of the pitchers ignored my request for a ball.

Then I moved over to the left field seats, where this was my view:

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Nothing.

I got Drew Storen to toss me my first ball right over the visitors’ bullpen. The ball had bounced off the outside of the bullpen, so check out the marks on it:

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After that, I went over to the Red Seats, where this was my view:

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You may notice that the pitcher in the middle of the three is Drew Storen. While he was there, I didn’t want to ask any of the pitchers for balls, figuring he would recognize me. When he left, however, I got Craig Stammen to toss me a ball:

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(Stammen is the guy to the right of my glove.) After that, a person came up to me and asked, “Hey, what’s your name?” When I responded, he said, “Do you write a blog on Mlblogs?” The mystery person was Steve Miller, a guy who also writes a Marlins-themed Mlblog entitled, Fish Fry. I had actually commented on it a couple of times, and he has a picture of himself on the blog, but for whatever reason, I didn’t recognize him until he introduced himself. This is just one example that if you are at the ballpark and spot myself or another ballhawk you recognize, introduce yourself. We don’t ignore you on purpose. It’s just that with all the interactions/faces that we come across during an average game, it can be hard to keep track of. I know that I personally will never “shoo” anyone away who introduces themselves, and the worst that will happen with most other ballhawks is they’ll ask you if you can talk after batting practice instead. Anyway, I stupidly didn’t get a picture with Steve.

Right after Steve introduced himself, I said, “Man, I wish I could get a hit ball instead of a toss-up, so I can give it away to one of these kids.” pointing to the kids in the first row.

Well, I did get a hit ball to come to me. A Nationals righty hit a high fly ball that I could tell was going to hit the warning track. I aligned myself with the ball and was ready to catch the ball as it bounced over the wall and right right towards my glove. Perfect, right? Well the ball hit off the warning track with such spin that once the ball bounced into my glove, it bounced right out of my glove. It then went into the gap between the two walls I the Red Seats. It was extremely frustrating, but they’ll be more on this ball in a bit.

Okay, now it’s time to make some New York ballhawks jealous. This was the view to my right:

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I caught my third ball of the game half way between the kid in the red and the man in the white in the row behind them. I was taking a picture, and just as I took the picture and was putting my phone in my pocket, Adam LaRoche hit a ball to my right. I was still putting it in my pocket, and had to make a back handed catch, leaning over a row of seats. I then gave that ball to the kid in the red hat in the next picture:

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Here is the view to my left:

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See the man in a blue shirt in the row emanating from the lower left corner of the picture? I got two hit balls right where he is standing in the picture. The first was a ball Roger Bernadina hit that landed in that spot. I then picked it up after running over there from where I took that last picture. I was the heading back to the spot where I took the picture from when Rick Ankiel hit a ball to the same exact spot. I moved back over to the spot and made the catch for which I got some applause.

Sensing that everyone in the section had just seen me get two balls, I asked, “Who hasn’t gotten a ball yet?” Four people raised their hands zero of which were kids with gloves. I didn’t want to be a jerk and crush people’s hopes that I had just gotten up, so I gave the ball away to a girl in the front row.

Soon after this, I was still thinking about if the ball I had dropped into the gap was still there. I figured it was, so I VERY quickly and discreetly went to the center field gap (In a different shirt, hat, and sunglasses, just in case.), and I glove tricked the ball, having learned from my previous- failed- attempt the day prior. After I reeled it up without anyone seeing me, I got out of there as fast as I could and went to left field.

In left field, Fernando Rodney tossed me a ball left handed. Naturally, the ball was off target. I then grabbed the ball and l gave it away to a girl who had been jokingly complaining that her brother had gotten a ball while she hadn’t. I should mention that this ball came after I missed two other toss-ups. One was a similar one from Rodney that I missed all together. The other was from another Rays player I never identified. Both sailed over my head, where I never got them.

The Rays had a VERY abbreviated batting practice. After getting 6 balls in Nationals B.P., I was eyeing double digits. The Rays actually only had one group of hitters, the pitchers. I thought the infielders were dead until I saw them take the field for the game.

Anyway, after batting practice ended, I got Jeremy Hellickson to toss me a ball as he entered the Rays dugout.

For those of you wondering why there is a lack of pictures in the latter part of this entry, my phone, on which I take pictures, was dying, so I didn’t want to use it that much. Finally, when it was essentially dead, I took my last picture of the day, which was my view for the rest of the game:

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I would have gone back and forth from the two sides of the outfield, but there were really only righties in the two line-ups that could homer (with the exception of Bryce Harper). I did go over to right field once or twice, but it wasn’t until the later innings I did so. On one of those trips, the usher I know asked me if I could give him two baseballs, so I did. If you are keeping track, that was now SIX of the eight balls I had snagged that I had given away. I will no longer field any “ballhawks are greedy” comments.

After the top of the inning, the Rays bullpen catcher, Scott Cursi, would warm up Desmond Jennings. EVERY inning, I went down to try and get the ball, and every inning ended the same way, me walking back up the stairs in dejection.

The Nationals won the game on the wings of Gio Gonzalez as he bested the Rays’ starter, Matt Moore. The final score was 5-2.

After the game, I went down to see if I could get the lineup card from Stan Boroski, the Rays’ bullpen coach. Not even a reaction when I asked him.

STATS:

• 8 Balls at this Game (2 pictured because I gave 6 away)

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numbers 277-284 for my “career”:

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• 62 Balls in 13 Games= 4.77 Balls Per Game
• 22 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 7 Balls
• 2 straight Games with at least 8 Balls
• 8 Balls x 29,551 Fans= 236,408 Competition Factor
• 75 Balls at Nationals Park in 15 Games= 5 Balls Per Game
• 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
• 5 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
• 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 5 Balls
• 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 6 Balls
• 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 7 Balls
• 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 8 Balls
• Time at Game 4:09-10:27= 6 Hours 18 Minutes

6/20/12 Rays at Nationals: Nationals Park

It was my first game at Nationals Park this year, and look who I ran into at the Center Field Gate:

That would be fellow ballhawk, Rick Gold; and for the record, I was wearing the University of Miami shirt because I found out Rick was going to this game and he is an alumnus. It was a pretty hot day, so we tried to stay in the shade until security asked whose bags were sitting alone at the gate and we had to stand with them until the gates opened.

When the gates opened, Rick went to the Red Seats in center field and I went to the seats in straight-away left field. Just as I got there, a coach was picking up a ball right at the wall, so I asked him point blank, “Coach, could you possibly toss me that ball, please?” He picked up the ball and tossed it right back in to the bucket in shallow center field. Here is the coach:

Anyone know who he is?

After that, I had three balls hit within ten feet of me. Want to know how many I caught? Zero. Here are the misssed opportunities:

1. This one feels the stupidest of all three because I was THE ONLY ONE IN THE SECTION. All I had to do was catch the ball and I would be fine. Well, I ran into a row two rows above the landing spot of the ball and when I couldn’t reach the ball leaning over a seat, the ball bounced off a seat in front of me and back onto the field.

2. My biggest problem the whole day was that I was going too far back on balls. I kept thinking balls were going to keep travelling when they didn’t. This ball was no exception. I to a spot that was about three rows back from the ball, and watched as a fan tried to barehand the ball, and later picked it up after it scooted away from him. Had I judged the ball well, I could have gone into the row in front of him and caught the ball, or I would have picked up the ball after he dropped it.

3. This time I actually was in a spot to catch the ball. The problem was there was a fan in front of me. He then deflected the ball, which made it go to my left, where it ricocheted off the seat back into his row, where he picked it up. There was no one even close to me other wise, so had the ball just stayed after it deflected off his glove, I would have been able to easily pick it up.

Then I noticed a few balls were going into the bullpen. I then saw this guy, who I tried to glove trick:

First I reeled out my line to knock it closer, then I pulled it up to insert the sharpie and rubber band. (If you don’t what the glove trick is, here’s a link that should explain it. Disclaimer: the link is to Zack Hample’s blog, not mine. That’s because he thought up the idea, not me. I’m simply a vulture.) What happened when I pulled the glove up is the string got tangeled, and the glove therefore couldn’t go as far down. I then spent what seemed like an hour trying to untangel it before relenting and simply letting down more string (I call it string, but it’s actually a fishing line.). I then had the glove over the ball and was pulling up when the ball dropped out of the glove. I tried to make the necessary adjustment, and then dropped the glove down again, but when I did, a security guard started yelling, “Sir, sir.” I looked back, and he motioned for me to get my glove out of the bullpen. I then headed back to over to straight-away left field- the bullpen is behind the left-center field wall- and caught a ball on the fly off of the bat of Mark De Rosa.

I then moved over to right field, where I quickly got Michael Morse to toss me a ball. He was fielding basebaballs where you see him here, but when he ran back to the wall, I called out to him and he threw me the ball.The red arrow is where he moved to field the ball and the black arrow is the path of the ball he threw me:

My next ball was hit by a Nationals lefty. It touched down in the row the woman in blue is right here, I believe, which is also where I picked it up:

Want to see how I could run so far? This was the crowd in the right field seats:

Right about the time I took that picture, I caught a Michael Morse opposite field shot on the fly from about the spot from which I took the picture.

After that, an usher came through saying, ” Does anyone have an extra baseball? I’m going to try to get Bryce Harper to sign a ball.” I wanted to be all cool and catch a ball, and then give it to her saying, “Here you go”, but I eventually relented and pulled one out of my backpack for her.

I then headed over to the third base foul ground, where the Rays pitchers were throwing:

There I got Wade Davis- who was in the last throwing group- to toss me a ball over the protective netting along the third base line:

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As I left the section in right field, an usher who lets me sit there during the game asked me if I could give him a ball. I said, “sure”. He later reported that he had given the ball to a little girl.

After that, I went over to the Red Seats, where this was my view:

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There, I got David Price to throw me a ball. He is the one all right by the right edge of the picture, and when he ran over to center field to field a ball, I asked for the ball and he tossed it to me:

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I then gave it away to the kid in blue in the following picture:

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After B.P. ended, I went over to the Rays dugout and the guy in dark blue tossed me a ball out of the ball bag. Anyone know who he is?:

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As for the game, Stephen Strasburg outpitched Chris Archer, and the Nationals won 3-2.

During the game, I was planning on running back and forth between both sides of the outfield, but instead, I decided to stay put in right field and talk to Rick the whole game. After the game, though, I went to the Rays’ bullpen in left field and got a bullpen attendant- who was picking up the Gatorade cooler- to toss me my eighth and final ball of the night:

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STATS:

• 8 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave three away)

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Numbers 269-276 for my life:

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• 21straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 8 Balls x 27,485 Fans= 219,880 Competition Factor
• 67 Balls in 14 Games at Nationals Park= 4.79 Balls Per Game
• 7 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
• 7 straight games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
• 4 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Nationals Park
• Time at Game 4:51- 9:45 = 4 Hours 54 Minutes

6/19/12 Braves at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

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

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

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

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From left to right, that would be:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Stats:

;


• 1 Ball at this game

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Number 269 for my life:

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

6/18/12 Orioles at Mets: Citi Field

I don’t care if I took this picture two days earlier, it’s the perfect picture to start off an entry of a game at Citi Field:

When I got off the train, there were maybe four other people waiting at the gate. Eventually, I struck up a conversation with a father and son close to me. It turns out they were from North Carolina. Why were they up at Citi Field for a baseball game then?The father actually went to high school with Bobby Parnell, or at least he gave off that impression. What I *do* know is that he knew Parnell enough that he had been working to meet up with him during B.P., and have Parnell’s number because he said he would text him when they were entering the stadium. This was the reason they was at the gates so early. Actually, that’s only a partial-truth. They was there early to try to meet up with Parnell, but they were there 2.5 hours early because the ticket rep they had spoken to told them Citi Field opened 2.5 hours before game time. Ha, ticket rep, I only wish it still did.

I kept up conversation with these two until two ballhawk friends, Ben Weil and Avi Miller, showed up at the gate and told me there was free pudding in a tent, about a hundred or so, feet away. I would have taken a picture of the pudding, but I want to send the message: “Yes, I’m a loser, but I’m not THAT much of a loser.” Us three then talked until the gates opened. As that happened, I was pretty much the only person out of everyone who entered the stadium who went to the right field side of the stadium.

There, I found this guy:

I would point out the ball with an arrow, but I like to assume a certain level of intelligence in my readership, and I trust that you can find it by yourself. Also, I should mention finding Easter Eggs is VERY rare at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. I don’t know why I presume it’s the ushers, but nowhere else where the gates open after the beginning of B.P. do I have such a problem finding Easter Eggs.

After that, my plan was to get a player to throw me a ball from here. This was my view of the field:

I then saw that a ballhawk named Vin had left the right field, so I made the ill-conceived decision to move over there. It was ill-conceived because this was my view there:

Do you know what “BB” stands for? Ballboy. Translation: never going to get a ball from me. Heck, I know a ballboy on the Yankees and he hasn’t thrown me a ball. Do you think this guy is going to toss me one? Nope. I stayed in this section for a whole Mets group, because they were mostly lefties, but I should have moved elsewhere.

Finally when I did move out of the section, I went to the left field seats. I spent the rest of bp there, but this was all I had to show for it:

Right from the spot where I took the picture, I caught that ball on the fly, off the bat of a player who I would later identify as Vinny Rottino. I offered this ball to a kid near me, but he turned me down. I must say: congratulations. I like giving baseballs away to kids, but I like it even more when they want to snag a ball for themselves and turn me down.

I was genuinely surprised that was it for B.P., though. Citi Field is semi-notorious for habitually slow B.P.s, but look at how the flags were blowing:

They were blowing straight towards left field, where I was for all of B.P. The reason there weren’t a bunch of balls in my section is the Orioles just didn’t lift any balls. Really all they had to do was get them a certain height and the jet stream would have done the rest.

Like I said, that was it for batting practice. Once it was done, I went over to the Orioles’ dugout to meet up with these people, with whom I spent the entirety of the game with:

They would be:

1. Ben Weil- A guy I believe I met at the ballpark one game and became friends with through just getting to know him at several games as “the guy who has every jersey known to man and monkey”. Seriously, just click on his name. Jerseys and hats are his “main” thing, but he has lots of other stuff too.

2. Avi Miller- A person who I met through Ballhawk Fest last year. He was in town for the Mets-Orioles series, because he is an Orioles fan. On a similar note, he is also a Camden Yards regular, who attends 8,000 Orioles games a year, you know, give or take 7,915 or so. He is either seeing if he can tweet without looking at his phone or hiding his face because R.A. Dickey had as many hits as the entire Orioles team combined.

3. Matt”y G”- Ben’s friend, who I first met in my last actual game before this, and who also engages casually in the ballhawking scene when he goes to games.

All three of us sat behind the Orioles. I was going to sit further down the line, but I figured that I might as  well sit at the dugout, since it had been so long since the last time I’d done it. At first, I sat in the aisle seat due to other fans showing up with tickets to the seats Matt and Ben were sitting in. I was so out of practice when it came to third out balls, I completely forgot to get up when the Mets made the third out in the first inning. Ben actually had to say, “Go, Go!” I then realized what was happening, and moved down the stairs to get Mark Reynolds to throw me the ball. It was COMMEMORATIVE! That was actually my first Mets commemorative ball. Here is the ball with Reynolds at first:

After I got this ball, I wanted to give a ball away, so I put the commemorative ball in backpack and pulled out one of my bp balls. I then offered a ball to a girl, but she didn’t want it, so I gave the ball to whom appeared to be her brother:

As you can see, I’ve pointed out the two with green numbers. Well, the boy did accept the ball, but right about when I gave him the ball, I felt something hit my back. I turned around to see a baseball rolling around on the steps. According to Avi (with help from Ben), Wayne Kirby had thrown a ball meant for the girl who didn’t accept a ball from me, and someone else picked it up.

When I returned to our row, I switched seats with Ben; he sat in the aisle seat, and I sat in the fourth seat in. Sadly, for Ben, Mark Reynolds didn’t hook him up the rest of the night, nor did anyone really. We sat in this format for the rest of the night. I assume we would have shifted again had Ben gotten a ball, but like I said, he didn’t. I must say, though. This was probably THE best game I’ve had sitting with other people. Usually, either I am trying to get a ball and the person isn’t interested enough in snagging to sit next to me, or it is another ballhawk who is serious about snagging as well and we try to sit away from each other  in order that we both have room to do our thing. Here, we all sacrificed that tiny advantage in getting third out balls to sit together. We just talked the whole time and made fun of each other. It was a great experience that reminded me you can have a sucky game ballhawking but still have a great time. Kind of like my first game at Target Field last year.

The only thing that really was a clear missed opportunity is that a foul ball came right into our section. Ben then shot up the stairs. I didn’t get a clear look at the ball, so I just followed him. That said, I learned from a Chris Young home run last year, that you should only trust YOUR eyes, so I looked to make sure he wasn’t misjudging the ball. When I saw the path of the ball, it looked like it was going ten rows up the stairs. I kept running up, but just then it hit one of the steps. Turns out, it had some massive backspin on it and came waaay back. I forgot this little tid bit about foul balls. Well actually, not really. I had practiced judging foul balls while my high school team was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The thing is, though, I was practicing on flat ground. In the stands, the incline of the seats magnifies any spin on the ball.

After the ball bounced off the step, it bounced back into a row behind us where a father (or was it a mother?) picked it up. This was kind of depressing. I should also mention there were two other semi-ballhawks in the section:

That in the yellow would be Aaron, who I believe goes by Howie sometimes, for whatever reason, and his friend whose name I don’t know. I know Aaron, or Howie, or whatever the heck you want to call him, because I sat down in this region with him last year.

The game was a great one. Not only did we get to see Ike Davis’ first career grand slam, but we also got to see R.A. Dickey pitch an absolute masterpiece. He threw 9 innings, 13 strikeouts, gave up 1 hit, and allowed no runs. Only the 7 hitter and pitcher got on base.If that weren’t enough, Dickey (like I mentioned earlier) had as many hits offensively as he gave up as a pitcher. Isn’t that something? I wonder how many times that has happened?

After the game ended, Ben and I headed over to the umpire tunnel where umpire Gary Cooper didn’t give a ball to anybody who was there. His ball pouch wasn’t flat either. Maybe I’m just operating out of context, but what is he going to do with those baseballs in the umpire room?

After all ball snagging opportunities were exhausted, we took the following picture by the dugout:

Admittedly, this isn’t the best take when it comes to me specifically, but it was the best group picture, so you have this awkward picture of me saying something while the camera was taking a picture; probably “Cal Ripken”.

I parted from the rest of the group at the jackie Robinson Rotunda and headed home on the “7″ train.

STATS:

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

numbers 265-267 for my lifetime:

  • 45 Balls in 10 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game
  • 19 straight Games with at least 1 ball
  • 10 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 10 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 3 Balls x 29,014 Fans= 87,042 Competition Factor
  • 79 Balls in 30 games= 2.63 Balls Per Game at Citi Field
  • 30 straight Games with at least 1 ball at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 balls at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 balls at Citi Field
  • Time of Game 4:09- 9:42= 5 hours 33 Minutes

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

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

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

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

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

On this side, there was…

The team store:

The Hodges V.I.P. entrance:

and whatever this thing is:

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

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

I then kept walking until I passed the Bullpen Gate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

then they also have these directional thingys:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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