Archive for the ‘ Ballhawking ’ Category

9/11/13 Athletics at Twins: Target Field

Yet another game, and it was again time to head to the second game of the Athletics series against the Twins at Target Field:

91113 Opening Picture

But sadly this would be the definition of my day:

9113 Semi-facetious sadness

More or less a conglomeration of semi-facetious sadness. The emotion was being caused here by the fact that my ballhawk friends Tony Voda and Paul Kom were inside early for season ticket holder early BP and I was stuck on the outside for the extent of it. That didn’t change my no-custom, though, of going to Gate 3 to actually get in the stadium:

91113 Gate 3

Once I got in, it took me very little time to get Jarrod Parker to toss me a baseball. I then quickly turned and tossed it to one of the kids in the following picture for a reason I don’t remember:

91113 Kid Ball 1

(As I write this, the game happened over three weeks ago, so excuse me for not remembering which of the three kids in the picture I gave it away to.) I then had a lull in terms of snagging, but it was ended when I made my way to the right field bleachers. There I got Chris Young to toss me a ball by being the only one to call him by name:

91113 Ball 2

I’ll spoil a part of this entry right now: I only got toss-ups this game. That said, I went on a mini-toss-up rampage. First I got A.J. Griffin to toss me a ball over a kid who was in front of me. Because I felt kind of bad for how cruel it must have seemed to see a ball be thrown at him but go over his head, I gave it to him:

91113 Ball 3 Kid

Additionally, I told him Jerry Blevins’–since Blevins had seen me get the ball from Griffin but not me give it away–name and told him to ask him for a ball. My hope was that Blevins would overthrow him and I would get the ball. And that’s what happened…sort of. Blevins did miss the kid, but it was to his side. If you are not familiar with the right field bleachers at Target Field, they kind of jut out from the wall in right. But that’s not what’s important here. Do you see the flower pots that outline the box that is the “jut?” Well Blevins missed the kid to our right, so the ball went in the flower pots tot the right side of the “box” of the right field seats. And it then kind of went up the flowers. I ran over, picked the ball out of the flowers, and handed the ball to the kid for my fourth ball of the day:

91113 Ball 4

I then figured I had exhausted my toss-up opportunities in right, so I headed to the right-center field seats. This was the best thing I could have done. As I got there, Ariel Prieto–a person listed on the A’s roster as simply “coach”–tossed a ball to a kid that landed a little short. As a result, it landed in the flower pots in front of him. As this happened, I told the kid that I would get the ball for him. So as Prieto watched, I pulled the ball out of the flowers and handed it to the boy:

91113 Ball 5 Kid

After he saw me do this, Prieto gave me a thumbs-up, and a very promising gesture: the “I’ll give you the next one” gesture. Only one problem: as Prieto was trying to get a ball, Chip Hale tossed me a ball:

91113 Ball 6

…or so I thought. Even though Prieto saw me get the ball from Hale, he tossed me the second “thank you for giving tha other one away to that kid” ball:

91113 Ball 7

And that was it for the snagging for me on the day. After BP, though, I was on the second deck, and so I gave a ball to a vendor who I had promised one if I got more than a couple. I don’t know which one it was exactly, but here it is:

91113 Ball I gave away

After which, I talked to an usher by that concession stand. And after talking to him for a while and learning that he is an usher for not only the Twins, but Gopher football and basketball games, I also gave him a ball. Basically, if you haven’t been keeping track, out of the seven balls I snagged, I gave away six.

I then headed down to the dugout to reunite with Tony and Paul, both of whom had been doing very well to that point (seven and eight balls snagged respectively) due to their early admission into the ballpark. They had both never snagged double digits, so I just stepped back while an A’s coach that they identified as Casey Chavez cleared the baseballs out of the bullpen. My hope was Chavez would overthrow one, but I was also perfectly content with my seven baseballs I had snagged to that point. Fortunately for Tony and Paul, Chavez didn’t throw any up, and they both got one step closer to their first ever double-digits games. I don’t know where Tony wandered off to, but I did manage to get this picture of Paul just before he left to go to the dugout and secure his first ever ten-ball performance:

91113 Paul after Ball 9

And that’s when the game (read: frustration) commenced. Since I had and would be going to so many games this week, I had to find somewhere to do my reading for my classes. And since I wanted to go for home runs this game, the flag court seemed like the perfect place:

91113 Kinesiology book

(For the record, that is a Kinesiology book, but the highlights aren’t mine. I always get used books whenever possible and make sure that I get the book in the bookstore with the highest amount of highlighted material that doesn’t look completely arbitrarily in case that person actually knew what they were doing in the class and the highlights could actually help me later on.) Well that was my view when the A’s catcher Stephen Vogt came up in the fourth inning. The A’s had already begun a ridiculous inning, but since Vogt had only hit like three home runs the whole season, I figured I might as well keep reading. And then this happened:

For the record, yes, I was the one in the bright green shirt who just barely missed the ball. As I read a part of my book, I heard the roar of the crowd and then looked up into the air. As I saw a white speck that was clearly headed over my head, I sprinted back as fast as I could. I then turned around right before I knew the ball was going to bounce, but it was three feet over my head and a bit to my left. So then, my only hope was it would bounce off the gate and back to me. But as I turned my head to the gate, there was a guy who was randomly right where the ball was bouncing to. My only hope was that he would drop the ball, but he didn’t.

That particular homer upset me, because I picked the ball up when it was almost at its apex. Had I started running as soon as it was hit, I could have had a ten foot head start and almost definitely could have turned around and caught the ball on the fly. I will say this, though: the homer was an absolute blast. I think it’s the furthest I’ve seen a ball hit on the fly during a game in person out there. That home run also capped off a ten-run fourth inning for the A’s which left the game at 13-1 going into the fifth inning.

Which brings up the next disappointment. I’ll say only two thing about this next clip. 1. I was completely prepared for this ball. 2. I don’t think I misplayed it at all, since it was hit at the same angle as the Vogt home run:

And with that, my day of “excitement” ended.

Oh, but wait…it didn’t. The Twins always have *some* group sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” But when there’s no group lined up, they often just ask people in the flag court if they want to be a part of that. Well since I was already out there, I went ahead and joined in the group:

91113 7th inning group

But since it was September 11th, there was a big deal made of the singing of God Bless America. So big, in fact, that my friend Nick Badders saw me on TV all the way from the Bay Area in California:

Meanwhile, here was my view of the singing of it:

91113 God Bless America

After that, I simply sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and then watched the painful rest of the game.

After the game, I headed to the dugout and managed to get a picture of Tony getting his then-eleventh ball of the game from the dugout attendant, Mario:

91113 Tony Ball 11

And then I just had to capture the magical moment where I was essentially the only person left in the stadium:

91113 Empty Stadium

Why was I there so late? Because I had to go over to the other side of the stadium where I had entered at Gate 3 because my cup trick had been stopped at the gate by the security guard who checked my bag, citing: “they don’t like those here:”

91113 Cup Trick

And with that final “snag” of the night (happening a little after 11:00, since the game had gone four hours despite going only nine innings), I headed out to my bus and a much-needed day off from ballhawking.

STATS:

  • 7 Baseballs at this game (1 pictured because I gave the other 6 away)

91113 Baseball

Numbers 707-713:

91113 Sweet Spot

  • 267 Balls in 57 Games= 4.64 Balls Per Game
  • 7 Balls x 24,522 Fans= 171,654 Competition Factor
  • 119 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 24 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 21 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 13 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with 5-6 Balls
  • 151 Balls in 31 Games at Target Field= 4.87 Balls Per Game
  • 29 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 9 straight Games with at least 2-4 Balls at Target Field
  • 3 straight Games with at least 5-6 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:36-11:57= 8 Hours 21 Minutes

 

9/10/13 Athletics at Twins: Target Field

After going to a anomaly of an April make-up game, it was time to gear up for the Oakland Athletics. When I got to the stadium at a little before 4:30, I first went to Gate 34:

91013 Opening Picture

As is usually the case when I go to Gate 34, I came away with nothing–I’ve actually only ever gotten I think one baseball there; I’ve actually snagged just as many baseballs at Gate 3. Speaking of Gate 3, that’s where I went at about 5:10 in order to be the first in line for when the gates open:

91013 Gate 3

I wanted to start doing this because although I’ve snagged an equal amount of baseballs at both gates, the odds of getting one at Gate 34 are much higher than 3. That said, I like going straight to left field when I get inside, so Gate 3 is the clear option for when the gates open. So when the gates opened, that’s just what I did:

91013 LF Bleachers

Although, can you see the kid all the ay in the corner of the left field seats? Well I got some A’s pitcher to throw me a ball as I was going down the stairs, but because I was turning my backpack around to get something out of it, I wasn’t able to get my glove on properly and dropped the ball. This kid–whose dad and him I actually know and have run into several times–was coming down the stairs right behind me, so when the ball bounced in front of him, he picked it up. I’m friendly with him and his dad, so it was no big deal, but I would have rather snagged the ball myself.

My first ball of the day came in the right-center field seats. I called out to A.J. Griffin to throw me a ball. He did throw it to me, but he threw it over my head by accident. Thankfully, an usher I had just been talking to saw it, and grabbed it before tossing it back to me:

91013 Ball 1

I then remembered that Yoenis Cespedes was in the group, so I headed up to the second deck in left field. Another ballhawk named Mike had the same idea. Well actually he’s usually in the upper deck, but with Cespedes up, he had a better shot of getting a ball up there than usual. Mike actually didn’t think Cespedes would hit a ball up there for the first few rounds. But then one round, he went off. Mike got the first ball:

91013 Mike with ball

And then I got one from Cespedes:

91013 Ball 2

I then went back downstairs after this group was done and went over to right field. There, there was one player with his number showing. So when I looked up who number 54 was, I got Sonny Gray to toss me the ball:

91013 Ball 3

I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the first time anyone on mygameballs.com had gotten a ball from him. I always have way more pride about that than most people…which is to say, I care about it at all. There is something that I just love about being the first one in a community of ball-snaggers to get a ball tossed from a specific person.

I then headed to the center field edge of the right-center field section, and got Tom Milone to throw me a ball. But I realized that there was a fan in an A’s shirt right next to me, so I gave him the ball after I snagged it:

91013 Ball 4 Guy

And he thanked me profusely. I later ran into him, and apparently he lives in Minnesota but he makes it to Target Field pretty much only for the A’s. But anyway, that was my last baseball of BP. Right after BP finished, I tried to make it to behind the A’s dugout to get a ball from the ball bag, but I was too late. However, a good thing that came of me being at the dugout was that I got the ball Sonny Gray tossed me signed by Dan Straily. I then headed to the bullpen(s) afterwards.

When I went to the bullpen after BP, I got the Twins second bullpen catcher, Ben Richardson, to toss me a ball:

91013 Ball 5

That guy isn’t *really* important; he just turned around right when I was taking the picture. This was also the first baseball of his that had been registered into the mygameballs.com system. I was particularly proud of this one since Richardson had been talked about numerous times between us Minnesota ballhawks. I then stayed seated by the bullpen and thought of things I was going to include in my “Things that have happened since the Pirates last had a winning season” video (which you can watch here, if you’d like):

But I then got to see a weird thing when the A’s got to the bullpen. After the starting pitcher ended his warm-ups and the beginning of the game, the A’s lined up at the pitchers mound in the bullpen:

91013 Pitchers on mound

And they then took turns throwing baseballs toward the plate. The goal–as far as I could tell–was to get the ball on one of the home plates, or as close as possible:

91013 Balls at plate

And they then picked up their baseballs and lined up at home plate:

91013 Pitchers at the plate

And they then did the same, but with the targets being the pitching rubbers:

91013 Balls on rubber

They then repeated this a couple times. It was truly bizzare.

The Twins then went ahead and won the game 4-3, and at the end of it, I managed to get a baseball from home plate umpire, CB Buknor for my sixth and final ball of the day:

91013 Ball 6

And so ended the game. As you may have noticed, I once again edited the pictures in my entry. I’ve gotten a mixed reaction as to whether I should keep them, but I also wanted to get the opinion of those of you who have been silent on the matter. So here’s a poll for you guys. If you want to keep the pictures like this , vote yes; if you want the pictures to go back to “normal,” vote no:

STATS:

  • 6 Baseballs at this game (5 pictured because I gave 1 away)

91013 Baseballs

Numbers 701-706 for my lifetime:

91013 Sweet Spots

  • 260 Balls in 56 Games= 4.64 Balls Per Game
  • 6 Balls x 26,017 Fans= 156,102 Competition Factor
  • 118 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 23 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 20 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 12 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with 5-6 Balls
  • 144 Balls in 30 Games at Target Field= 4.8 Balls Per Game
  • 28 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 8 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:45-11:04= 7 Hours 19 Minutes

9/9/13 Angels at Twins: Target Field

Having ended my previous game at 693 career baseballs, my goal for this game was to maybe get to 700 career baseballs. At the time gates were opening, though, this was my view at about the time gates were opening:

9913 Opening Picture

At this point, I felt as though I maybe wasn’t even going to snag one ball. Let me explain: This game was supposed to take place on April 17. Heck, I was there, if you want to read about it. But the game got rained out before it even began. Anyways, because of it being rescheduled, the game was scheduled to start at 6:10 instead of 7:10. I realized this various times beforehand, but for whatever reason, it didn’t register in my mind that I needed to leave an hour earlier than normal in order to get on time. Well not until half-an-hour before the gates were scheduled to open. Unfortunately, it takes longer than half-an-hour to get to Target Field from my apartment, so when I arrived here, the gates had been open for close to twenty minutes:

9913 Target Plaza

(If you can’t tell, I’m trying out editing my photographs to look a little better before I post them in the entries. It might be a one-entry thing, but it might become a regular thing if you guys like it.) But then one of the luckiest things ever happened. Just as I was running towards Gate 34, I saw all of the ticket scanners reacting to *some*thing I couldn’t see. Just then, I saw a baseball bouncing out of the gate. And since I was the only one out in Target Plaza, I walked over and picked it up for my first ball of the day. I’m guessing it was Josh Hamilton, since he was the only lefty in the group, but who knows. I then stupidly didn’t take a picture of the ball outside of the gate, but instead I was so focused on just getting IN to the stadium that I got my bag checked and headed to the right field seats. But then when there was a righty up, I finally took a picture of the presumed Josh Hamilton ball:

9913 Ball 1

And while I was so frantic about not having an awful day ballhawking due to my stupid mistake, it took me a moment to realize how few people were actually at this game. I mean just take a look at this picture of the left field seats that I took:

9913 View of left

There were what, maybe fifteen people in the left field seats. While I was thankful for having gotten a ball already, I was frustrated by the thought of how many baseballs I could have snagged had I showed up on time. I mean there would have been a serious chance for me to have broken the Target Field record for baseballs in a game.

I got up to three baseballs pretty quickly because of some Angels coach. I don’t know who he was, but I eventually figured out after the fact that it was either Bobby Knoop or Bill Lachemann. My first ball that he threw me came when he turned around and motioned that he was going to throw the ball to a little girl. Since 1. She wasn’t looking, and 2. She was very small and might not catch the ball, I told whoever the coach was that I would catch the ball for her. And so, he tossed it to me and I immediately gave the ball to her. Here she is with some of her siblings. (They’ll come into play later.)

9913 Ball 2 Girl

And then I later asked that same coach if he could spare a ball for me to keep. And I assume since I had helped the girl out earlier, he tossed me my third ball of the day:
9913 Ball 3

I then realized the group had changed from Hamilton’s to a group with Mark Trumbo in it, so I headed out to left field. There I met up with Paul Kom, who had been there the whole time, but I hadn’t seen since he was in left field the whole time. (Side note: Paul actually already wrote an entry about this game on his blog, if you’d like to check that out.) I caught up with him since it was the first time I had seen him since the game the day before the day this game was initially supposed to take place. Shortly after that, I convinced Michael Roth to toss me a baseball by being the first person in the stadium to actually know what his name was:

9913 Ball 4

I then headed back to right field for a group that included Kole Calhoun and Hank Conger. When I was there, Calhoun hit a ball a little to my right. I went over a couple feet, put up my glove, and dropped the ball as it hit my glove. If you noticed, I was using my lefty glove for the first time in a long while. In getting ready for the game, Brandon Nedoma told me he had forgotten his glove at home in Wisconsin. So when I finally realized how late I was, I threw my lefty glove in my backpack. What I didn’t realize at the spur of the moment was that my right-handed glove wasn’t in my glove. I only figured this out on the bus. I initially thought I had taken it out of my backpack when I went to the Mall of America with Ben Weil and his fiancé Jen the day before, but I still haven’t found it as I write this on September 22nd, so I suspect I may have left it at the game I went to the day before this when I decided spur-of-the-moment to leave that game at the national anthem. But anyway, I picked the ball up after I dropped it. I then gave the ball away to the brother of the girl I gave the second ball to:

9913 Ball 5 Boy

(He’s the one in the blue with the glove.) And then they told me that the second brother in that last picture to the right of the first two kids I had given a ball to. So when I got Buddy Boshers:

9913 Boshers

to toss me a ball, I turned and tossed it to the kid.

I then headed to left field and met up with Paul and his friend Matt at the bullpen:

9913 Paul and Matt

I think you can figure out who’s who, but if not, left-to-right it is: Paul, Matt. and myself. And then Paul got a ball at the bullpen (and maybe Matt too?) but I didn’t, so I just had the pleasure of watching the starting pitchers of both teams warming up:

9913 Pitchers

And then I was going to go out to the flag court, but then I saw this crowd in the left field seats at game time:

9913 LF crowd

What ended up happening was I stayed in left field for the whole game because I thought it would be great if I got my 700th ball via game home run. Matt and Paul also stayed with me for most of the game, but not even three minutes after they left to head to the dugout, Josh Hamilton gave me one of the next best things. He hit a double that bounced into the left field bullpen. With Matt and Paul gone, there were only two people in the bleachers who had the situational awareness to go to the bullpen: myself and a person in Angels gear. Now I hadn’t mentioned it yet, but for whatever reason, I had completely forgotten to bring either an Angels shirt or Athletics shirt (which will come into play in my next couple entries). Therefore, it was myself in a neutral blue shirt/University of Minnesota hat and this Angels fan. But as Steve Soliz, the Angels bullpen coach approached the ball, I asked him by name while the Angels fan had no clue what his name was, so Soliz tossed me the ball for my 700th career baseball:

9913 Ground-Rule Double

I’m not sure many better scripts could have been written. Anyways, I met up with Paul and Matt soon after, and we walked out of the stadium together. So I first got a second picture with my prized possession of the night:

9913 700

And then we got a parting picture together:

9913 Friends

What a day.

STATS:

  • 7 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 3 away)

9913 Baseballs

Numbers 694-700 for my “career”:

9913 Sweet Spots

  • 254 Balls in 55 Games= 4.62 Balls Per Game
  • 7 Balls x 21,826 Fans= 152,782 Competition Factor
  • 117 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 22 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 19 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 11 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 138 Balls in 29 Games at Target Field= 4.76 Balls Per Game
  • 27 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 7 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 4:04-10:33= 6 Hours 29 Minutes

9/7/13 Blue Jays at Twins: Target Field

Well it was time again to go back to Target Field:

9713 Opneing Picture

It was a weird sensation being at the gate. Despite that I hadn’t been at Target Field for months before the previous game, and my previous game before that anywhere was two weeks prior, sitting there, it felt like I had been going to Target Field everyday for months.

Since I again went to Gate 3, I headed straight for the left field seats:

9713 From LF

That said, I got my first ball of the day in the right-center field seats from a a guy I couldn’t identify from the back to ask him for the ball by name, but identified as soon as he turned to throw me the ball as Brian Duensing:

9713 Ball 1

I then saw there was some lefty in the group who was bombing balls. So in preparation for him starting to pull the ball, I headed to the standing room. The first round I was out there, this lefty hit a ball I could tell was falling short of me, but I could also tell it was going to make it to the flag court. There was just one problem: there was a crowd of people where the ball was going to land. So as I was running towards the spot, I yelled out for everyone to watch out. Most everyone cleared out with the exception of one kid. He didn’t know what was going on, so he just stayed in the spot. The ball hit off his shoulder and deflected away from me. As much as I would have liked to have gotten the ball, I didn’t pursue it, but instead just made sure he was okay. Even though he said he was, I pulled the ball I had gotten earlier and gave it to him.

Then, all too soon, this happened:

9713 Empty field

The Twins finished BP way before they normally do. I can’t remember exactly what time, but the Blue Jays had just gotten out to begin their stretching. At that time, it was a no-brainer for me to head over to foul ground and try to get a ball from the Blue Jays warming up. And when he was done throwing before anyone else, there was a no-brainer as to who I should try to get a ball tossed to me from. This man was Munenori Kawasaki (and he is Japanese):

Anyway, as he was jogging after being done with throwing, there was a wall of Blue Jays fans (this game was the highest concentration of Canadians I had seen outside of Canada since when I had gone to Comerica Park back in 2008 with my dad). But I wanted to say I had gotten a ball from Munenori Kawasaki very badly. So what I did was take a couple steps back on the staircase so he could see me over the heads of the other fans, and projected my request for a ball in Japanese to him loud enough so he would definitely hear me. I first yelled, “Munenori!” And when he looked up at me, I put my glove up and subsequently yelled–and this is phonetically; I have no clue how to actually write it out–” Choh-toh, boh-roh nah-gah-teh coo-dah-sai!” He then tossed me the ball dangerously low over the heads of the other fans. When I caught it, he held up his glove again. He wanted to play catch. I tossed him the ball, and then he realized he was due up in the cage, so he tossed me the ball a second time and headed to go hit. Sure I wish I could have played catch with him longer, but it’s cool to know that he would have kept playing catch had he not had somewhere to go at the moment:

9713 Ball 2

That would be the only baseball I kept on the day. I would snag two more baseballs but gave both away. The first came when I headed to right field for the beginning of the Blue Jays hitters. I don’t know who he is exactly, but the Blue Jay in the next picture fielded a ball by the wall, and myself and the Blue Jays fan in the same picture both asked him for the ball, and he tossed it up. I don’t know who it was intended for since we were both wearing Blue Jays stuff, but since I was on the side closer to the player, even if the ball was intended for the other fan, it came right to me; so I gave the ball to the other fan:

9713 Ball 3 Picture

I then realized that Edwin Encarnacion was in that same group, so I headed up to the second deck in left field. And although it was Girl Scout Day, or something along those lines, I managed to avoid all the girl scouts who were there quicker than the other ballhawks up there and got a ball Encarnacion hit almost to dead center in the second deck. It was a shot. Here is the view actually closer to the foul pole than where I picked it up, since I was getting my camera out as I was walking back to my original spot:

9713 Ball 4

But right after I took that picture, one of the chaperones for the girls scouts came and asked if I had gotten the ball. Long story short: I gave the ball to her for her daughter, and that would be my last ball of the game. The rest of BP was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had a baseball game. I just sat in the upper deck in center field not knowing at all what to do next. I usually have a problem running to a section too quickly, but here I had no clue where I wanted to go.

My snag happened during the softball home run derby that sometimes takes place after BP. The other contestants were righties, so I stayed in left for them:

9713 Softball

But when TC came up, I knew from experience that he was a power-hitting lefty, so I headed up to the upper deck in right-center. And as a result, I got this:

9713 TC Ball

TC had launched a ball that went into the seats above the small standing room in the upper deck in right-center. But then I felt really bored in the minutes leading up to the game:

9713 Grasshopper

And as the player readied themselves for the game, I came to the realization for the first time in a long time at a baseball game: I really didn’t want to be there. There was much work to be done for school since I was going to be only missing the Thursday and Sunday game the next week. And since I had never left a game early yet this year by my own choice, I didn’t fight my instinct, so I left the game to the sound of the national anthem through Gate 34 and went back to “the U” to watch part of Great Gatsby and eat s’mores:

9713 Leaving as others enter

STATS:

  • 4 Baseballs at this Game (1 pictured because I gave 3 away)

9713 Balls

Numbers 690-693 for my career:

9713 Sweet Spots

  • 247 Balls in 54 Games= 4.57 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 32,882 Fans=131,528 Competition Factor
  • 116 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 21 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 18 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 10 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 131 Balls in 28 Games at Target Field= 4.68 Balls Per Game
  • 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 6 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 2:20-9:35= 7 Hours 15 Minutes

9/6/13 Blue Jays at Twins: Target Field

Oh how good it felt to be back at Target Field. And look who joined me for the game:

9613 Jonathan and Mateo

If you’re semi-new to the blog, that’s me on the right and my friend Jonathan on the left. Jonathan, if you don’t know, accompanied me for the first time ever the game I snagged my first ever game home run. And today, we had my “fancy camera”, so he was going to be my designated photographer.

You also may have noticed that we were standing at Gate 3 instead of my usual Gate 34. I was trying something semi-new. Usually the only reason I ever went to Gate 3 was if I got to Target Field late, but here I just wanted to see how it would be like to be the first person in the left field seats, since this is usually where I bolt to anyways when the gates open.

So when we got in, I headed straight for the middle spot of the left field bleachers, and when he got there, Jonathan took a picture of me there:

9613 Mateo in LF

And he didn’t get my first ball on camera, because he saw the ball falling short of the wall and didn’t bother to have the camera pointed that way. But anyway, it was a ground rule double some Twins hitter (I think Wilkin Ramirez, but am not certain) hit that bounced up, off a guy’s chest, and back to me. There was a second ground rule double later on, but a guy caught it two rows in front of me as it was headed straight towards me.

After I got this ball, the Twins ended BP ridiculously early. I’d say at 5:10. Usually during weekdays, we get a solid 5-10 minutes of Twins BP despite the gates opening at 5:30. As a result, Jonathan and I then headed over to foul territory to get a ball from the Blue Jays:

9613 Mateo in Foul Ground

And I do mean WE. See the guy in the following picture that I’ve put an arrow over was playing catch with Rajai Davis:

9613 Player

Well when he was done throwing, I asked if he could toss me the ball. So as he was running off, he kind of submarined the ball and launched it over my head. And guess who got the ball:

9613 Jonathan ball

I was happy for Jonathan, but I would have rather the player–whoever he was–been on target with his throw.

After that, I rushed out to right field for the Blue Jays first group. Since Jonathan was both in much less of a hurry to get there than I and was carrying the camera bag, I snagged two baseballs before he even got there and then two within a few seconds of him getting there. So here are the spots of the four baseballs labeled by their numbers on the day for me:

9713 Baseballs 2-5

2. Adam Lind hit a ball straight over my head. Except by the time I looked at the ball, it was already halfway towards me, so I wasn’t able to get out my row. All I could do was see it go over my head and wait for it to bounce back into a row where I could pick it up.

3. Some Blue Jays righty hit an opposite-field home run into the flower pots. I was in the right field seats when it landed, but when I saw the people struggling to find/reach for it, I ran over to the flower bed in the right-center field seats, and offered to pick the ball up for them and hand it to them. So when I saw where it was, I leaned way down into the flower pots, picked the ball up, and handed it to the couple who was right above it.

4. There was another Blue Jays lefty homer–maybe Lind again. As it flew toward the corner of the rose bush, I moved over to the side of the section that juts out in right field just in case the ball stopped there. Well it hit the corner and as I got to the wall, it bounced up the side of the wall,  I stopped the ball from bouncing any further with my glove, and picked it up.

5. Right before I got ball 4, Jonathan had arrived on the scene. So after I got it, I went towards him and into the aisle to see if he had gotten a shot of me getting the ball. Right as I turned away from him, I heard a clank to my right.  A ball had hit just in the right-center field seats. This one Jonathan did get a shot of as I jumped the mini-wall separating the two sections and grabbed the ball:

9613 Ball 5 happening

I was nervous I was going to get yelled at for jumping over the wall, so I immediately turned to my left after getting the ball and tossed it to a kid who was fifteen feet away after making sure that he had not yet gotten a ball. But of course Jonathan didn’t get that on camera. (No, but seriously, taking pictures for a ballhawking entry is tough. It’s tough to realize what is going to happen next and what should have a picture taken of it if you’re not familiar with ballhawking. And if one is familiar with ballhawking, that usually means he/she is usually going to be ballhawking his/herself and can’t take pictures.)

After that, a group of mostly Blue Jays righties came up. Since righties usually try to hit opposite-field, I went into the right-center field section and tried to get toss-ups from the players who were shagging baseballs below me. Instead, though, one of those righties (Edwin Encarnacion?) hit an opposite-field home run into the flower bushes, and while the pictures I will show you were from a scenario later on almost exactly the same where I didn’t get the ball, they serve the purpose of visual aids. So when I first saw the ball hit, I ran towards the spot where it was landing:

9613 Mateo Running

And then when the ball went in the flower pots, I leaned down to the side of the woman it landed in front of (same woman as in this following picture, interestingly enough), picked it up:

9613 Mateo Leaning over

And handed her the ball. I then realized that Edwin Encarnacion was starting to hit baseballs into the second deck in left field, so I went up there, since I suspected there would be many more to come. I was right.

Encarnacion and the rest of the people hit about 8 or 9 baseballs up there in their time at the plate. And I should preface the pictures you’re about to see and the fact that I only got 1 of those by saying that being in the seats in the second of Target Field is one of the worst places in fair territory to run for a baseball through the seats. But there was one ball I had tracked:

9613 Mateo Tracking

And I could tell the ball was going to be landing in the row below me, but unlike most places where there is barely a difference in height between rows, here the row in front of me was about two feet below me–despite how it may seem in the picture:

9613 Mateo Reaching

So I couldn’t get down fast enough and dropped the ball. But thankfully, I was able to trap the ball with my glove:

9613 Trapping Ball

And when this group ended, I headed back to the seats in right-center in hopes of a toss-up. Well I didn’t get any player to toss *me* a ball, but when Jeremy Jeffress went to the wall to retrieve a ball:

9613 Jeffress Path

And there were two kids who were asking him by name for the ball, I knew I had no chance competing with them for the ball directly. So instead, I used the ridiculous steepness of Target Field and went in the row behind them. I knew that unless Jeffress went out about twenty feet from the wall, he would have to toss the ball over the kids’ heads to get it to them. So like clockwork, this happened:

9613 Ball 8 Diagram

But of course I then immediately gave the ball to the kid, since I had still caught it over his head. (Well that and the fact that the ball was intended for him.) That was my last ball of batting practice.

Now stuck at 8 baseballs, I went to the bullpen(s) after batting practice with Jonathan:

9613 Jonathan at bullpens

And because there were a ton of baseballs in the Blue Jays bullpen, that’s whose team gear I was in while I was there. But when a familiar-but-unexpected face started tossing them up, I quickly took of my hat, covered my shirt, and got him to toss me one for my ninth on the day:

9613 Ball 9

Can you tell who it is? No? It was TC Bear, the Twins mascot, who tossed it to me. He went through both bullpens and tossed up every single ball that was in both of them.

As for the game, both Jonathan and I headed out to the standing room in right in hopes of a game home run:

9613 View from RF

Of course, though, I knew both teams, minus maybe a select few members from either team, had any chance of putting a ball up there. What I did instead with my time was take a bunch of pictures, since I had my “good” camera at my disposal–like these:

9613 AL West Standings 9613 Minneapolis Skyline 9613 Targetland 9613 THIS IS…137 9613 Twins Logo

And I did take more, but they’ll be in the Facebook gallery that I’ll put up some time after this entry gets up. In the meantime, though, here’s the link to the Facebook Page for this blog if you have a Facebook and want to “like” it.

After the game, both Jonathan and I headed to the dugout for an umpire ball. But since the game ended on a double play, I was caught off guard and had to quickly change the camera lens to the smaller one, gave it to Jonathan, and told him to take a continuous series of pictures if I managed to get the ball from home plate umpire, Mark Wegner. Wegner thankfully waited for the other members of his crew to get to the tunnel, so I was able to get down there in time:

9613 Mateo at Tunnel

And then I asked him for a ball as he approached:

9613 Asking For Umpire Ball

And when Wegner tossed me the ball, I caught it in front of the hand of the man sitting next to me, who snatched at it not realizing that the ball was intended for me:

9613 Ball 10

I then got a more proper picture with my tenth ball of the day as Jonathan and I awaited the bus to get back to campus:

9613 Ball 10 at the Bus Stop

And so concluded only my sixth double-digit game ever, but interestingly enough the fourth this season.

STATS:

  • 10 Balls at this game (6 pictured because I gave 3 away, and I think I lost one when my backpack fell open as I was running through the seats at one point during BP)

9613 Baseballs

Numbers 680-689 for my lifetime:

9613 Sweet Spots

  • 243 Balls in 53 Games= 4.58 Balls Per Game
  • 10 Balls x 27,044 Fans=270,440 Competition Factor
  • 115 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 20 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 17 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 9 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 3 straight games with 5 Balls
  • 127 Balls in 27 Games at Target Field= 4.70 Balls Per Game
  • 25 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 5 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:42-2:00= 10 Hours 18 Minutes

 

8/21/13 Rays at Orioles: Camden Yards

Again my day did not get off to a good start. But unlike the previous day, it didn’t get all that much better during batting practice. So when I got to Gate H, I kept expecting other ballhawks to be there as well, but none showed up. Both Tim Anderson and Alex Kopp had apparently gone to Dempsey’s, which is a restaurant inside of the warehouse. Once I realized this and found another season ticket holder to use the card of to buy a discounted ticket from, the gates were opening. So as a result, I was like 3-5 minutes late getting in. This may not seem like much, but for a ballhawk right at the time the gates open, it’s an eternity.

So with all of the better spots in left field taken once I got there, it was a no-brainer for me to go down the left field line when the Rays started throwing for toss-ups. Pretty much the only thing that made me want to stay in left was that my next baseball was going to be my 100th at OPACY, so I would have rather it been a hit baseball on the fly. But like I’ve said before, I’m not nearly good enough to be able to choose how I get a baseball. I’m just happy if I get the ball.

That said, Wil Myers looks as though he could become something in the majors, so irrelevant of it being my 100th OPACY ball, when there was a decision to be made of whether to ask him or Evan Longoria for a ball, I got Myers to toss me my first ball of the day and my 100th at OPACY (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, for those of you who are confused):

82113 Ball 1

And with this, I became I believe only one of three ballhawks who have snagged 100 baseballs at five or more ballparks. So that was pretty cool, and not an indication of me being anywhere near the league of the other two ballhawks I share the distinction with. And an even cooler thing was one of my more favorite players, Ben Zobrist came over to sign right after that, and I got him to sign the 100 baseball.

I then moved down the line and awaited for the pitchers to be done throwing. And when Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona) was finished throwing, I waved at him for the ball, but he put up a finger as if to say, “One minute.” He then proceeded to do what is known among pitchers “shadowing”, so I assumed when he was done with that, he would throw me the ball. Turns out I didn’t even need to wait that long, because when a ball got hit in hsi direction, he picked it up and chucked it to me:

82113 Ball 2

I then headed back to left, but quickly thereafter left to go to right-center because the non-season ticket holders were being let into the seating bowl. There, I used something I had noticed one of the previous two days. I had seen a kid ask Rays bullpen coach, Stan Boroski, for a ball by name, and Boroski tossed it to him saying, “You’re one of the only people besides this guy (pointing to Scott Cursi) who knows my name in this stadium.” So I though if I got Boroski’s name right, it would be the easiest toss-up in the world. And it was:

82113 Ball 3

After taking the picture, I gave that ball away to a kid who was standing to my right. That was when Alex showed up in the section and reported to me that he had been having a really good day and was already at 6 baseballs. He would then get his seventh from Alex Cobb. He probably could have gotten to double digits, but the Rays ended batting practice 30-40 minutes before the visiting team normally does. So we sat in the center field seats and talked for a while:

82113 Alex CF

Alex would then get his eighth ball that we had both been eying for about 40 minutes from a groundskeeper about ten minutes before game time. I initially stayed out in right field with him for the game, but when I realized that eight of the Rays nine hitters were righties, I moved to over here where this was my view:

82113 Foul Ground

But sadly there were no foul balls within fifteen feet of me. I then headed to the umpire tunnel at the end of the game, but Joe West ran out of baseballs before he got to me.

Thankfully, though, I didn’t just walk back to Alex’s house at that point. Instead I went to the Rays dugout. As the relievers walked in, I saw Joel Peralta had a ball in his rolled up glove, so I asked him for it in Spanish. He completely ignored me, but as he walked into the dugout, I saw a ball bounce towards me on the dugout roof. Apparently Fernando Rodney had heard my request and tossed me a baseball he had with him:

82113 Ball 4

Then I saw that Stan Boroski and Scott Cursi were way behind the relievers, so I quickly changed from my Rays hat to my MLB Fan Cave hat (I already had my MLB Fan Cave shirt on at that point) to disguise myself from Boroski, who had tossed me a ball earlier in the day. And so I again asked Boroski, but this time by last name, and he tossed me my fifth ball of the day. Then I saw a kid next to me with a glove, who had not gotten a ball from Boroski, so I gave him the ball. I was just happy that my disguise had paid off:

82113 Fan Cave Disguise

And so I headed back to Alex’s place by foot. At the time I thought there might be a possibility I’d be back in Baltimore over the weekend, but with talking to my mom on the car ride back to Washington (she and my step-dad picked me up at Alex’s) I learned that wasn’t really a feasible option given the time and day my flight left. So this would prove to be my last game at OPACY in 2013.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave both Boroski balls away)

82113 Baseballs

Numbers 675-679 for my “lifetime”:

82113 Sweet Spots

  • 233 Balls in 52 Games= 4.48 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 28,323 Fans=141,615 Competition Factor
  • 114 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 19 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 16 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 8 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 2 straight games with 5 Balls
  • 104 Balls in 23 Games at OPACY= 4.5 Balls Per Game
  • 23 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 11 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • 9 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at OPACY
  • 2 straight games with  at least 5 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 4:33-11:49= 7 Hours 16 Minutes

8/20/13 Rays at Orioles: Camden Yards

This game did not start well for me. Because I was writing an entry and it took me longer than I thought, I arrived at the gate at 4:50. And having not yet bought my ticket, I had to do that and wasn’t able to talk to people much before the gates opened. So while we had talked about it the previous day and I thought I was going to be the only one going to right field when the gates opened, Tim Anderson had changed his mind overnight and ran that way ahead of me. There he caught one Chris Davis home run on the fly and got another that bounced a couple of times in the seats. He then headed over to left, but I was more stubborn and waited an extra five minutes before conceding that doing the same was the better option.

Once there, I had a couple more close calls. The first was a ball Alex Kopp caught on the fly, but his elbow then hit me on the way down and dislodged the ball. I then saw it on the ground and reached for it, but a railing was in my way, and so I wasn’t able to reach out all the way. The next was a ball that bounced in on the first row portion of a staircase, bounced up–nearly taking my and Tim’s heads in the process–and then a guy came out of nowhere to barely beat me to the ball.

So with all of those initial missed opportunities, my first ball of the day came from J.J. Hardy:

82013 Ball 1

I ran a section to my right when I saw the ball get hit, but the kid in the Davis jersey–who was two rows in front of me at the time–seemed like he had the ball. But then I saw the ball hit his glove and go past it, so while there was a railing separating me from the ball, I used it as a fulcrum and just leaned so much that my feet were up in the air, and grabbed the ball out of a seat.

Then, when I saw a ball roll to the corner of the outfield wall by the foul pole, I went over there knowing a player would eventually have to pick it. And so when Chris Tillman walked over, I asked him if he could toss me the ball. As he was walking away with the ball, he turned around and intentionally threw the ball again the foul pole (so it would bounce back to him) but then smiled and actually tossed me the ball:

82013 Ball 2

My next two baseballs came as a result of Danny Valencia. We have known Valencia to hit the ball deep. I mean he regularly hits the back of the visiting bullpen at OPACY and spots in the left field almost just as deep. So all of us backed up whenever Valencia was up and moved up for the other hitters in his group. My spot for Valencia happened to be behind and to the left of my spot for the other hitters, so as I realized he was up, I first went up, and then began going left. And just as I entered the row, Valencia bombed a ball, so I I moved a little more left and judged the ball. I figured if the ball was going over my head or falling short, my only chance would be to jump rows. But thankfully I picked the right row and the ball came right to me. As the other ballhawks put it after BP, it seemed as though I had “teleported” to make the catch:

82013 Ball 3

My next ball wen to the right of my Valencia, and I ran for the ball, picked it up after it hit, and gave it to a guy who was running so fast after it that his sunglasses fell off going down for the ball:

82013 Ball 4 Guy

(That’s the guy holding up the ball. If you can see the kid in Rays gear, that’s his son. I learned from him when I went into foul ground to get a toss-up from Rays players that they were from Green Bay, but since the dad was in town for work, it made complete sense for the kid–whose favorite player of all-time is Evan Longoria–to come down with him.)

Speaking of foul territory, that’s where I got my next ball from Desmond Jennings:

82013 Ball 5

(Jennings was in the dugout by the time I could take a picture of the ball, but that’s where he tossed me my fifth ball of the day from.) A cool thing happened after that in that the kid I mentioned to parenthetical groupings ago got a ball from Evan Longoria, and I got to see his face absolutely light up, since–like I mentioned in the aforementioned parenthetical grouping–Longoria was his favorite player who had also signed his jersey for him the previous day. I’d call that a successful 1,500-mile trip.

My next ball came when I went to the right-center field seats. Matt Moore fielded a ball just past the warning track and tossed it to a kid, but tossed it a little too short, and so it landed here:

82013 Ball 6

So I pulled out the cup trick I had made with Greg Barasch during my most recent New York trip (which I may do an entry about after the 8/21/13 entry) and got the ball otu of the gap, which I then gave to the sister of the kid Moore had thrown the ball to.

Moore then tossed the next ball he got to this kid, but this one sailed over the kid’s head. So I ran over, picked up the ball, and gave it to him:

82013 Ball 7 Kid

Having given now two kids in the family baseballs, his parents then thanked me a bunch of time and told me there was a ball I could use my cup trick on in the batter’s eye. I thanked them for giving me the tip but I told them that we’re not allowed to use it over there.

I waited in the next staircase for about three minutes, but then I started up the stairs to go to the flag court. But when I saw a ball roll to the wall at the bottom I headed back down. Matt Moore got the ball, and started scanning the crowd as if he was looking for someone in particular to toss the ball to. And when I got to the bottom of the staircase, I found out that he was indeed: Me! He tossed me the ball and said, “I saw you give that kid the ball earlier.”

82013 Ball 8

I have no clue why he was wearing a catcher’s glove (maybe it had to do with the fact that he’s on the DL) but trust me that it was indeed Moore. And yes, for those of you keeping score at home, that was my third ball that came as a result of a Matt Moore throw. (I think we can excuse him since he is indeed on the DL.) As well as my eighth ball of the day overall. It was after this that I did indeed go up to the flag court.

Now usually, going up to the flag court is a waste of time snagging-wise for me because I am usually the least skilled of the ballhawks up there and end up getting a ball snatched by another ballhawk when I’m mere inches from it. But on this occasion, it was only myself and Alex  up there, so with me having positioning to his left, I was in front of him on a ball that was hit just to the right of the right field foul pole–by who I’m pretty was Luke Scott, since I don’t know anyone else on the rays with a Wolverine-style beard. It hit in the seats right by two people who had no clue what was going on. The girl then slowly got up and turned around to pick up the ball, but just as she was doing that, I was down on the cross-aisle watching the ball bounce down the steps. And just as she looked down and realized what was happening, I reached through the railing and grabbed the ball:

82013 Ball 9 Diagram

But then I realized that this would have almost undoubtedly have been their ball had I not been there, so I reached up through the railing to give her the ball. And it was a great decision because in walking back onto the flag court, three different ushers congratulated me on giving her the ball. If there’s ever an option between being like by ushers and not being liked by them, I’ll choose being liked. While I realize probably as well as anyone that there are different breeds of ushers/”hospitality attendants/”security officers” (yeah, that’s the official title for those people at Yankee Stadium; I asked one of them) this was a great way to take out three birds with one stone. Unfortunately, though, as it looked very feasible for me to break my all-time record, the Rays ended BP about 20 minutes earlier than the visiting team normally does (which would sadly be one-upped the next day’s BP) and so this was my last ball of BP. Alex and I then headed over to the Orioles bullpen where we met up with Grant Edrington.

There I informed Alex that Rick Adair, who reportedly used to dislike him, but has since grown fond of him because he has seen him give away a ton of baseballs to kids, had taken a leave of absence starting with the Rockies series and that Scott McGregor would instead be clearing the baseballs out of the bullpen. There were three baseballs, and just as Alex predicted, one went to a kid at the corner of the bullpen, one went to Grant, and one went to the middle. The latter was meant for me, since it was right to me, but Alex should have definitely robbed me since he was a row above me. But he was too nice to, so I got the ball and gave it to a kid in front of me:

82013 Ball 10 Kid

And with that, I reached double digits for I believe only the fifth time ever and the third time this year. I could’ve maybe played the dugout and tried to beat my record of 11 balls in a game, but in addition to tying my single-game record, my next baseball would also be the 100th of my career at OPACY, so I thought it’d be cool if it came as a game home run.

I didn’t get a baseball for the rest of the game, but later on in the game, a fan recognized Alex from the video where he caught Chris Davis’ 100th career home run, so Alex gave this young fan one of his baseballs:

82013 Alex Giving Away Baseball

Because I guess that’s what nice famous people do to people who recognize. (You can also see in that picture that Tim was completely touched and captured by the moment.)

STATS:

  • 10 Balls at this Game (5 pictured because I gave the other half away)

82013 Baseballs

Numbers 665-674 for my “career”:

82013 Sweet Spots

  • 227 Balls in 51 Games= 4.45 Balls Per Game
  • 10 Balls x 26,158 Fans=261,580 Competition Factor
  • 113 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 18 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 15 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 7 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 99 Balls in 22 Games at OPACY= 4.5 Balls Per Game
  • 22 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 12 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 10 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • 8 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 4:40-10:54= 6 Hours 14 Minutes

8/19/13 Rays at Orioles: Camden Yards

This was a pretty run-of-the-mill day at Baltimore. Avi Miller had some work still to do, so he nicely dropped me off at the subway station in his hometown, where I got slightly lost  but managed to make it to Oriole Park at Camden Yards in time to get into left field with everyone. I didn’t find any easter eggs because Garrett Meyer scooped up the only one. Coming into this game, both Garrett and I wore Rays gear coming into the left field seats, because we figured the Orioles wouldn’t throw us any baseballs anyways and that it would be better for us for when the Rays came out to throw and hit in case they were to see us changing.

I say this because I ran up to the front row for a ball that I thought I could maybe catch in the front row. Instead the ball hit off the wall over the glove of Rudy Arais. Just in case the ball had hit him on the back when he was jumping for it, I asked, “Are you okay, Rudy?” He then looked back smiled, and said, “Yes.” It was at that point that he started to pick up the ball, and I realized he had not seen my Rays shirt yet because the wall was blocking it, so I blocked it with my glove. And when Rudy turned and threw the ball to me, I made sure to catch it with my bare hand as to not reveal my Rays logo:

81913 Ball 1

Most of the other ballhawks were astounded because I had made of point of wearing Rays gear before the gates opened, and yet I still got a toss-up from the Orioles. My next ball came in I want to say the second group of Orioles hitters. Some righty in that group hit a ball a little bit to my right, so I went over and caught it on the fly for my second ball of the day:

81913 Ball 2

If it was indeed the second group, it was probably hit by either Steve Pearce or Alexi Casilla, but I’m not going to guess just for the sake of having a name attached to the ball, so we’ll just call him a UHR (Unidetified Hitting Righty). My third ball of the day came when I went into foul territory to get a baseball from the pitchers and position players warming up. I didn’t actually get the warm up ball of any player, but Jeremy Hellickson was helping Chris Archer guard the pitchers from hit baseballs. (You’ll often see there’s one person doing this, since the pitchers are parallel to–in this case–the invisible line between second and third base and can’t see a ball coming at them without turning their heads sideways. But from my experience, it’s usually a bullpen catcher who guards them and not another pitcher; just because the pitcher has to warm up himself.) Anyway, a ball came to Hellickson, and so I shouted, “Jeremy can…” and before I could finish my request he turned to me, so I put up my glove and he threw me my third ball of the day:
81913 Ball 3

That was kind of awesome for me personally, because I believe the last time before that Hellickson had tossed me a baseball was when he tossed me my 100th baseball ever back in 2011. So yeah, pretty much no one else but me would have found it that cool, but I thought it was great.

My fourth ball of the day came when I headed out to the right-center field section for the Rays hitters. ( I didn’t go over there because a bunch of lefties were up. I just usually head over there when the non-season ticket holders flood the left field seats.) Chris Archer fielded a ball at the wall, and tossed me my fourth and final ball of the day when he saw my Rays gear and I called out to him by name. I then asked a kid to my left if he had gotten a ball, and when he said he hadn’t, I handed him the ball:

81913 Ball 4 Happening

For the game, Grant Edrington, Alex Kopp, and I all sat out on the flag court. There were two home runs, both of which we could have possibly gotten but didn’t. (The first of which I am still mad about since I was eating a strawberry-flavored lemon chill when it happened.) But the coolest thing I would say we did the whole night was walk through the cross-aisle:

81913 Through Cross-aisle

And handed Matt Hersl‘s brother a shirt and piece of paper that all of us participants of BallhawkFest 2013 had signed. Despite the fact that this was my first time meeting his brother, it was special from simply my connection to Matt himself. And by far the weirdest thing I experienced that game was on the way back seeing a person about my age not paying attention to the game because he was playing Pokemon on a Gameboy SP:

81913 Gameboy

After that, Garrett, Alex and I headed back to Alex’s place, where we all stayed, I ate some pizza, and was thankfully the only one of the three who didn’t have to wake up before 8:00 in the morning.

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave 1 away)

81913 Baseballs

Numbers 661-664 of my lifetime:

81913 Sweet Spots

  • 217 Balls in 50 Games= 4.34 Balls Per Game
  • 4 Balls x 25,044 Fans=100,176 Competition Factor
  • 112 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 17 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 14 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 6 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 89 Balls in 21 Games at OPACY= 4.24 Balls Per Game
  • 21 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 11 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 9 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • 7 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 3:44-11:56= 8 Hours 12 Minutes

8/18/13 Rockies at Orioles: Camden Yards

With getting up at around 10:00, and heading off to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, my day of adventure with Avi Miller began:

81813 Opening Picture

(I’ll spare you the story, but trust me when I say that picture took way too long to get taken right.) There were two things I knew coming into this game:

1. There was not going to be any BP.

2. We were going to leave the game about half way through it.

Now given these two things, I thought my totals for this game were going to be way below normal. And this view as I got in only served to further my suspicions:81813 View of Field

If you can’t tell, that would be several pitchers along with Chris Davis dressed like an Olympic sprinter (idea credit goes to Avi on that one). But thankfully, with the help of Avi, I was able to get Josh Stintson to throw me a ball for my first on the day:

81813 Ball 1

He was in only one of two throwing pairs for the Orioles at the beginning of warm-ups, so when I saw the Rockies coming out, I got my purple on and headed to that side of the stands. At the beginning of the Rockies pitchers throwing, I noticed Matt Belisle was throwing without a partner against the outfield wall:

81813 Belisle vs Wall

So since the rest of the pitcher weren’t going to be done throwing for a while–since they had *just* started. He was hesitant at first, but then he tossed me the ball and we played catch. But at about the fourth throw (like eighth overall), he abruptly stopped throwing and started asking me questions about myself that eventually lead to him saying he liked the Baltimore area. And then he just walked away at the end of our conversation. It was kind of bizarre, but despite the fact that Belisle kept the ball, that was my second ball of the day.

My third came when Tyler Chatwood was done throwing, he tossed me his warm up ball:

81813 Ball 3

Then the same happened with my fourth baseball and Rex Brothers:

81813 Ball 4

I then gave this ball away to a kid who I asked if he had gotten a ball. Then a more noteworthy snag came when Rafael Betancourt picked up three baseballs. I figured he had seen me get at least one of the previous two baseballs, but after handing the first two to kids, he tossed me the third ball. I then headed up the stairs and asked a kid if he had gotten a ball, but he said he had bought one in the store, so I kept the ball Betancourt. It was then that Grant Edrington–who had shown up a little late–came up to me and asked, “So he tossed you the commemorative?” Up to this point, I hadn’t even looked at the baseball, but sure enough when I did, I saw the ball was indeed a Rockies commemorative ball:

81813 Ball 5

Since I may have yet given up the baseball had Grant not arrived on the scene combined with the fact that he had never gotten one of these baseballs, I gave Grant the commemorative in exchange for him giving me a future commemorative if he ever snags one that I don’t get. Anyway, that was my fifth ball of the day and last one before the position players came out to throw. It was then that I got Nolan Arenado (who was already in the dugout by the time I took the next picture) to toss me a baseball:

81813 Ball 6

I was at 6 baseballs, and could have stayed at the dugout to break my record for most baseballs snagged without batting practice, but instead I headed out to the flag court with Grant. But then at the beginning of the 6th inning, Avi showed up to pick me up:

81813 Avi and Grant

And then we were of to Bowie (pronounced like buoy) for the Bay Sox game:

81813 Next Destination

Well the game itself wasn’t going to start until 6:05. We were headed off so early to make sure we were going to be one of the first 1,000 fans for Manny Machado garden gnome night. Now I would never do something like this on my own, but when Avi pitched it to me, I was completely fine with it because I had not been to a minor league game since this, and I was more than okay with seeing some extra baseball. So for a 5:00 gate opening time, we showed up at around 4:05. Were we being a little overcautious to make sure we had enough time? Probably. But not as overcautious as you’d think. I went to get food once we parked, and when I was walking back to the line at around 4:25, this was the gigantic crowd of cars I saw in the parking lot from a distance:

81813 Cars

And as I approached the gate, I realized just the extent of the madness over these garden gnomes:

81813 Crowd 1

Actually, that was not even the half of it. I had to go to the front of the line to capture the full madness:

81813 Crowd 2

See those extra  people to the right of the right of the frame? That is actually a continuation of the line. It was so long there actually had to be a bend to it so it wouldn’t go out onto the main road. But anyway, at 5:00, it was time to enter:

81813 Ticket

So we entered, got out gnomes, and came back out to put our excess “stuff” that we didn’t need for the game back in the car. Here is Avi taking a picture of his gnome:

81813 Avi Picture-taking

And here is what his camera was seeing (more or less):

81813 Gnome

After that, we entered Prince George’s Stadium for good:

81813 Field

We stayed, threw some toilet seats for a Zach Britton bobblehead, and then headed back to Avi’s house after a fun day at the ballparks.

(Major League) STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this game (3 pictured because I gave the other 3 away)

81813 Baseballs

Numbers 655-660 for my career:

81813 Sweet Spots

  • 213 Balls in 49 Games= 4.35 Balls Per Game
  • 6 Balls x 22,238 Fans=133,428 Competition Factor
  • 111 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 16 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 13 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 5 straight Games with 4-5 Balls
  • 85 Balls in 20 Games at OPACY= 4.25 Balls Per Game
  • 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 10 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at OPACY
  • 4 straight Games with at least 5 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 10:41-9:44= 11 Hours 3 Minutes

8/17/13 Rockies at Orioles: Camden Yards

At this game there were a bunch of ballhawks at the gates, but none of them wanted to take a picture, so here is a list of the people who were there:

1. Garrett Meyer.

2. Tim Anderson.

3. Grant Edrinton.

4. Avi Miller.

My first ball came courtesy of person number three. As Grant ran through a row of seats looking for easter eggs, he reached for a ball, pushed the opening of the bottom of the seat out, and the ball fell out the bottom. Since there was another ball right by him, he let that one go, and so I picked the ball he made drop down up:

81713 Ball 1

And then the Orioles ended their BP very early, so we were just sitting in the left field seats. In this time, I was the only one who went to the Rockies bullpen. So when the Rockies bullpen catcher Pat Burgess made his way to the bullpen, I called him over and said, “Can I ask you a question? Do you guys have any of the commemorative baseballs with you?” Like I’ve said in the past, I don’t usually go out of my way to see if there are any commemorative baseballs, but there were a couple other ballhawks who were trying to get them, so I figured I’d ask. And also, when he said no, I didn’t feel bad at all. But then Burgess went through the bullpen bag to get baseballs for the pitchers to warm up with. And about a minute after I had asked him, I saw Burgess waving at me from the corner of my eye. So I turned and he said, “Sorry, this is the only one we have left in the bag.” and tossed me a perfect Rockies commemorative for my second ball of the day:

81713 Ball 2

On the outside I just said, “Thanks.” But on the inside I was thinking, “Sorry? You just gave me the last commemorative ball in your bullpen bag; why are you sorry?”

My next ball came when the Rockies started hitting. usually the front row in left field is packed with people once the opposing team has started to hit, but because the Orioles ended so early, there was still some room to ask for toss-ups. I took advantage of it by asking Jeff Francis to toss me a ball. But there had been a dad who was holding hs kid up also trying to get Francis to toss him a ball, so I gave the ball away to the kid:

81713 Ball 3 daigram

I point the dad out because he would come into play later. I wouldn’t snag a ball for another couple Rockies groups, but when I went out to the flag court, he, Avi, and Grant were all out there. He first came up to me and offered me the ball back because his son had gotten another one, but I told him he could keep it. He then insisted I keep the ball, so I told him he could just give it away to another kid. He then gave it to me and told me that I could give it away to another kid and have the satisfaction of it. So I got it from him, walked down into the seats besides the flag court, and gave it away to another small kid with a glove.

I tell this story to show that this man was not out there will malicious intent. That said, on the first ball in the flag court, all four of us converged under the ball, but I was camped under the ball. Just as I reached up for the ball, I felt something forcing my glove down. I tried to push past it and keep my glove up, but the ball had tipped off my glove, where Grant then got it on the ground. Obviously I was watching the ball and not what was behind me, but first the dad said sorry after the ball, and then AVi told me what he had seen happened. Apparently I was indeed right under the ball, but the dad had “jumped on [my] back” as the ball was coming in. On the next ball out there, I once again was tracking it, until I realized the ball was slicing back to my left. Long story short, the ball went way past my outstretched glove and back to Avi who had been behind me for most of the ball. But when I turned back to see who had gotten it, what I saw was the dad running away in celebration while Avi was on the ground. Apparently the guy had knocked Avi down on the play and caught it on the fly. All three of us agreed that it’s fun to compete for baseballs, but you also can’t go around knocking people over to get them.

Anyway, the flag court was looking like an increasingly tougher area to snag a baseball, so right before the end of BP, I went down to the Rockies dugout. I then got a ball from bench coach Tom Runnells as the BP baseballs were being transferred from the bucket to the ball bag. Then, since I had not yet marked this ball, when Charlie Culberson started signing at the dugout, I got him to sign that ball:

81713 Ball 4 Signed

And right before I left, there was a kid who had been asking every single Rockies player/coach for a ball, so I asked him if he had gotten a ball yet. And when he said no, I pulled out the easter egg I had gotten because of Grant and gave it to him.

For the game, I spent my time out in the flag court with Tim and Grant. We had one major shot at a homer that we weren’t ready for, but the way the ball bounced, I think we pretty unanimously agreed that we couldn’t have snagged it anyways. So really the most major thing is that when and usher asked Tim if had a couple of baseballs, Tim gave him one, but then asked me if I had an extra baseball. So because I don’t *really* value autographs that much, I gave him the usher the ball Charlie Culberson had signed instead of the Rockies commemorative. I realize I could have just said I didn’t have any baseballs left to give away, but this shows how much I really value autographs. I mean the way I always explain it to people is I’ll get them if they’re convenient and not much else is happening, but I really won’t go out of my way to get them. After the game, I headed down to the umpire tunnel:

81713 Umpire Tunnel

And then got a ball form home plate umpire Chris Conroy:

81713 Ball 5

I tried the Rockies dugout afterwards, but didn’t even ask Pat Burgess for a ball since I figured he would recognize me from our longer-than-normal interaction earlier. And so the Conroy ball was my fifth and final of the day.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this Game (2 Pictured because I gave 3 away)

81713 Baseballs

Numbers 650-654 for my “career”:

81713 Sweet Spot

  • 208 Balls in 48 Games= 4.33 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 31,089 Fans=155,445 Competition Factor
  • 110 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 15 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 12 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with 4-5 Balls
  • 79 Balls in 19 Games at OPACY= 4.16 Balls Per Game
  • 19 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 9 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • 5 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at OPACY
  • 3 straight Games with at least 5 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 1:28-11:17= 9 Hours 49 Minutes
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