July 2012

6/29/12 White Sox at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

You know you didn’t get everything the day offered when your first picture is of a ball you missed:

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A ball, which I should have caught on the fly, hit right below the “State Farm” sign. I was on the staircase, below it, but it ricocheted so quickly, it zoomed right past me, where a guy picked it up.

Greg Barasch was at this game, and so was his dad, Shelly . A few seconds after I returned to my spot on the staircase, Shelly arrived on the scene, telling me he saw me miss the ball that I agree I “should have had. He then tossed me a bottle of water:

I can’t thank him enough for him. This was a game with ridiculous humidity, and I would have been miserable/dead had I not had this bottle of water.

My first ball of the day came in an unintentional way. I went down to the front row to get Jayson Nix to throw me a ball. Just as I called out to him, a Yankees righty hit a ball just to my right. There was another person there, but they were only paying attention to Nix, so I reached slightly over them and caught the ball:

The arrow points to where I was when I caught the ball.

My next ball was also kind of lucky. I misplayed it, like most balls this day, but I ended up with it. Here is the path the ball took:

I “should” have gone in the last row, where I could have caught the ball on the fly, but I went two rows under that, so I turned around and tried to play the bounce. It bounced way too fast for me to actually catch it, but miraculously, the all hit my foot, and stopped right there so I could pick it up. I think I gave this ball away, but it may have been the next ball I snagged that I gave away. I need to take better notes, I know.

After this, I went over into foul territory, along with Greg to get the White Sox to toss us some baseballs, but the White Sox didn’t throw ONE SINGLE baseball into the crowd, not even to Greg or myself, who were decked out in White Sox gear. After getting rejected by all the White Sox, we both went back to the left field seats.

I then sandwiched a ball that hit right off my glove, and I should have had between two balls I caught on the fly in left field. Despite the fact that the ball I missed was one I definitely should have had, I am VERY proud I caught two balls on the fly. Why? This was the view of the spot where I was standing (I stepped out of that spot briefly to take the picture):

That said, I was taller than all of them, so when I caught the second of the two home runs (I don’t know who hit either). I I gave it away to one of the kids.

I can’t remember if it was before or after the catches, but while I was in the left field seats, I bore witness to the gutsiest thing I’ve ever seen at a ballpark. Coincidentally, it was Greg who did it:

Greg is the one in the circle. When a ball got hit into the bleachers where the arrow is, no one in the bleachers was closing in on it, so Greg climbed into the bleachers to secure the ball. The weirdest thing about the whole experience was no security guards ever came up to him afterwards. Nothing.

Like I had done the previous day’s game, I went over to the right field seats when Adam Dunn’s group came up. As is expected, they took a few rounds before they started pulling the ball. When they did, most of the balls were going into the Yankees bullpen, but Adam Dunn hit one the back row, where I was stationed, so I ran over and caught it on the fly:

The spot where I caught it is pointed out, but do ou notice anything odd about the baseball? If not, this should clear it up:

Oh. My. Goodness. It was a Dodgers Stadium 50th anniversary ball. That means I only have to snag the Astros and Marlins balls to have gotten all of the specialty commemorative baseballs this year. For those who don’t know, there are six commemorative baseballs being used during the regular season. They are: the Mets are commemorating their 50th year as a team, the Houston Astros are doing the same, the Dodgers are commemorating Dodgers Stadium’s 50th anniversary, the Marlins are commemorating the inaugural season of Marlins Park, the Orioles are commemorating the 20th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the Red Sox are commemorating the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. I have now snagged four of these.

Soon after the catch, security cleared everyone out of the left field seats. I then headed down the narrowest concourse (if you even consider it a concourse and not a tunnel) known to man, which also happens to be one that I have to deal with most days since it links right and left field at Yankee Stadium:

and up to my seats in the bleachers. I didn’t get anything up there for the rest of batting practice, but after it, I headed up to the batter’s eye where I got Mike Harkey (not pictured, because he walked out of view) to toss me my 6th ball of the day:

After which, I headed to my seat in left field, where this was my view:

As for the game, it was fugly, or a nice low scoring football game depending on your perspective. More specifically, the White Sox beat the Yankees 14-7. Like I mentioned, before, it was über humid this game. Even though the bleachers were packed to start this game, these were the views of the bleachers towards the end of the game from my seat:

Juan Nieves ignored me for the second straight night, and I left the game with 6 baseballs.

On my train ride back to Manhattan, I saw something you don’t often see:

I don’t know the exact odds, but I’d say it’s pretty rare when you see only one subway door open, not on purpose. So in this case, would it be “Stand clear of the closing door, please”? [lame New York joke] Oh, and the arm in that picture belonged to Greg. He ended the day with his post-B.P. total of 5 balls, despite sitting by the dugout the whole game. That’s bad for him, but it meant I had out-snagged the two ballhawks with the highest per-game averages on my gameballs.com the past two nights. This game I out-snagged Greg (number 2 on the site with an average of 7.31 Balls Per Game) 6-5. The previous game’s night I had out-snagged Zack Hample (number 1 on the site with an average of 7.47 Balls Per Game) 7-5. Yay for shallow victories!

;

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this Game (4 pictured because I gave two away)

numbers 313-318 for my lifetime:

  • 96 Balls in 19 Games this season= 5.05 Balls Per Game
  • 28 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 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
  • 74 Balls in 19 Games at Yankee Stadium= 3.90 Balls Per Game
  • 19 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 4 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 3 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 3 straight Games with at least 5 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • 3 straight Games with at least 6 Balls at the New Yankee Stadium
  • Time Spent On Game 4:03- 11: 15= 7 Hours 12Minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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and this was the view to my left:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

;

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

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

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

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

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and to my right:

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

Behind me were two other ballhawks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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but somehow I came up empty handed.

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

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

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

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Pretty nice, huh?

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

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

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

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Yay, happy ending!

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

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numbers 306-312:

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

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