9/26/13 Indians at Twins: Target Field

While I was expecting to see him at the game, I’m kind of glad I went to see Tony Voda at Gate 29 when I didn’t see him as I got to Gate 34:

92613 Tony Voda

This is because as I started talking to him when he was waiting for the early batting practice for season ticket holders, the Twins employee who is in charge of the early batting practice came up to the both of us, and I got this:

92613 Batting Practice Pass

I guess he just assumed I was there to get into early batting practice, so he handed me the pass to get in. Just like that I was going to get in for batting practice an hour earlier than normal. Awesome. They actually brought us in the stadium a little earlier than that. Here’s where we were at about 4:15:

92613 In Stadium

And by before 4:30, I had this in hand:

92613 Ball 1

As Ryan Pressly was done and headed to the ball bag with his baseball, I called out to him and he tossed me that baseball. I think that may be the earliest I’ve ever snagged a baseball at Target Field. Since I didn’t want too many Twins pitchers seeing me get a baseball before they spread out to cover the whole outfield, I just sat back and saw Tony get a ball tossed to him by a Twins player. Who? I’ll give you one hint:

92613 Tony Swarzak Jersey

I then got a ball while the Twins pitchers were still throwing, but that’s because it wasn’t intended for me. Shairon Martis identified the girl in this next pitcher as a worthy recipient, but he underthrew her; so I reached out into the flower pots to get the ball and hand it to her:

92613 Girl I gave ball away to

Since I was thinking about getting season tickets when this game happened, I knew going to early BP a lot was a real possibility, so I made my goal to give away half of my baseballs while we were the only people in the stadium. My next ball came not on the left part of the overhang section, but on the right. Since I was the only one to see him field the ball, I was the only one to ask Mike Pelfrey for a ball and got him to toss it to me:

92613 Ball 3

My fourth ball felt pretty good since I got it tossed to me over someone. When Oswaldo Arcia fielded a ball in the outfield, I called out to him by name. When he turned around, I was in about the third row of the section, but there was a guy in the first row almost directly between Oswaldo and myself. So what I did was pointed at my glove and ran back three rows. At this point, the man realized Arcia was looking back at him and thought he was going to toss him the baseball, but that’s when Arcia tossed the ball over his head and right to me:

92613 Ball 4

The guy was so sure that the ball was intended for him–but thankfully not in an angry way–that he talked to me at the end of early batting practice (not knowing that I was the same person who had snagged the ball earlier) and told me that Arcia had tossed him a ball but overthrown him and “another guy got it.” I then gave this ball to what was surprisingly the only kid (and there were like seven kids there) who had not yet gotten a ball.

My next ball was the only hit ball I got while the Twins were hitting. I’m not sure who it was, but I caught the ball on the fly towards the right part of the center section in the overhang. (There are three sections in the overhang even though I sometimes refer to the overhang as a whole as a single section.)

Then when the Indians started to hit and the rest of the stadium opened, Tony left the right field seats and headed over to the left field line. I decided that the group hitting, along with the crowding that would take place if we both went to the same spot were grounds enough for me to stay in the right field seats for a couple more minutes. But it only took a matter of seconds after Tony left to affirm the decision. Michael Brantley hit a ball to my left (I was in the right-most section in the overhang.) so I ran in the row at the back of the section and caught it:

92613 Brantley ball spots

That spot is where you’ll see I put the “1” on. As I caught the ball, an older couple in the second row made a comment about the catch (I can’t remember what it was since I write this over a month after the fact, but I hopped down into the second row to talk to them) Brantley then hit that very pitch even further to to my left, so I ran a few steps over and caught the ball:

92613 Ball 6

I proceeded to talked to them, and ended up giving the wife of the couple what I think was the first of the two Brantley balls, but I couldn’t tell since I had both of them in my possession at the same time, and they might’ve gotten mixed up.

I then talked to the guy who the Arcia ball had gone over the head of, and I told him that since he hadn’t gotten a ball in early BP, I would give him the next baseball I snagged. So when I got Danny Salazarto toss me a ball in the right-center field seats, I went back to the right field seats just ot give the man the ball:

92613 Ball 8

I then headed back to the right-center field seats. There I got Brad Mills to toss me a ball in the corner spot by the batter’s eye after a couple minutes of pestering him semi-frequently:

92613 Ball 9

I gave this ball away to an usher who has always been nice to me. I instructed him to give the ball away to the first kid with a glove to pass him:

92613 Usher Ball

Little did I know, this was my 300th baseball of 2013. This is mildly relevant because it marked the first time I have ever snagged 300 baseballs in a season. This also began a mini “giving away” spree for me as I then did the same thing with to this kid who missed a home run out on the flag court–which, to be fair, I also missed:

92613 Kid ball

But wait, what ball did I give the kid. I mean I guess you assumed that I gave him one of the baseballs I had snagged earlier, but I actually snagged and gave him my tenth ball of the game. I got Scott Kazmir to toss me a ball in the right field seats:

92613 Ball 10

And that would be it for batting practice. My next baseball would come after the game and was thrown to me by Indians reliever Bryan Shaw as he went into the dugout:

92613 Ball 11

I could’ve had my all-time record, but one of the Indians bullpen catchers–both of which are AMAZING for baseballs at the dugout after the game, by the way–Armando Camacarro tossed three baseballs to the guy just to my right as he entered the dugout.

And right after that, I waited for Tony to finish up his snagging things and got a free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from an attendant in the Legends Club, or whatever they call it at Target Field. (Pretty much every ballpark I spend any notable amount of time at besides OPaCY has a fancy-schmancy section of gated-community seating right behind home plate; all of which go by different names, so I don’t bother to remember which is which.)

92613 Yay candy

After getting it, I just took in the fact that I was pretty much the only fan left inside a beautiful major league ballpark. (I had been there about twenty minutes after the final out had been recorded at this point.)

92613 Empty Stadium

And then once Tony was done trying to get baseballs from dugout attendants, I finally headed out and got one last picture of Target Field in all of its majesty:

92613 Target Plaza

Four games down in the week, two still left to go.

STATS:

  • 11 Baseballs at this Game (5 pictured because I gave 6 away)

92613 Whoops 1

Numbers 738-748:

92613 Whoops 2

  • 302 Balls in 62 Games= 4.87 Balls Per Game
  • 11 Balls x 24,929 Fans= 274,219 Competition Factor
  • 124 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 29 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls
  • 186 Balls in 36 Games at Target Field= 5.17 Balls Per Game
  • 34 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 14 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Target Field
  • 3 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:12-12:14= 9 Hours 2 Minutes

9/25/13 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

As was my tradition toward the end of September, I got to the stadium before batting practice began and stood out by Gate 34 trying to get a long home run ball:

92513 Gate 34

But then I went to Gate 3 about twenty minutes before the gates opened in order to be the first one in line over there:

92513 Gate 3

When I got in, I quickly got Al Alburquerque to toss me a ball by being the only one in the left field seats who knew his name:

92513 Ball 1

(He’s the one to the left of the group of two.)  I then went on to miss a Torii Hunter home run ball. I tracked the ball about forty feet to my right, turned, and jumped for the ball, but it tipped off my glove and bounced to my side where another person got it. I was mad I couldn’t come down with the ball, but then almost the exact same scenario, so I started the exact same way:

92513 Ball 2 Diagram

But when I got to the point where I needed to turn and jump for the ball, I climbed on the bleacher, and thus had a much smaller jump to make and caught the ball. I then gave the ball away to the kid in the red. Usually he’d be too old for me to give him a ball, but he had a cast on his right leg, so I made an exception.

I then headed over to right field for the second group, which included Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez. I first had a a near miss with a Prince Fielder ball. He bombed the ball over my head in the the standing room, so I bolted back and ran to the spot where the ball was headed:

92513 Fielder miss diagram

But the ball took two bounces to a ticket scanner I was the person closest to the ball as the ticket scanner got it, so I stuck around for a second to see if he would give the ball to me; but I left when it became apparent that he was going to keep the ball for himself. For both Martinez and Fielder, this was my view:

92513 Ball 3 view

And so when Martinez hit a ball that bounced off the wall you see in the lower left hand of the picture and bounced into the back row, I ran and picked it up. That would be my third and final ball of batting practice. I then gave the ball away as batting practice ended to a kid who had not tried hard but still had not gotten a ball all of batting practice.

As for the game, I was down in the “moat” of Target Field. And so, I decided to take a look inside of the third base lounge:

92513 3rd base lounge

Considering how many times I had sat in the moat seats, it was kind of sad that the only time I had ever been there was when I was in the Race at Target Field mascot race. And then it was even just for a second since we were using it as a way of getting back to the -1 level concourse. Anyway, as I walked in, the view stayed familiar, since the door which I had exited through was immediately visible in front of me:

92513 Lounge door

But when I turned my head to the right–which was much harder in a giant mosquito costume–I saw what I had previously missed on my last trip to the lounge:

92513 Food place

Besides the overpriced food–which makes sense for the lounge’s usual clientele–it’s a neat place.

I then made it back out to the field for the Tigers infielders warming up. When they were done, I got Ramon Santiago to toss me my then-fourth ball of the game:

92513 Ball 4

During the game I then played third-out balls. After several inning of trying, I was coming to accept the fact that I was never going to get one since I was playing the outfield end of the dugout and Max Scherzer was striking out pretty much every Twins player he got out. In about the fifth or sixth inning, though, he got the last Twin of the inning to pop the ball out to Miguel Cabrera. When Miggy headed to the dugout, I flashed my glove, and when he noticed my Tigers gear, he tossed me the ball:

92513 Ball 5

And then the people who had been watching me go up to the dugout every third out and encouraged me every time offered to take my picture after I go the ball:

92513 Miggy ball

And that was it for snagging, but when the Tigers finally won the game, they had clinched the AL Central. So I got to experience my first ever postseason celebration:

92513 Tigers celebration

It was fun in that I knew the Tigers were making the playoffs even if the Twins managed to sweep them, but it was still kind of not since it was the Tigers celebrating on our field. That said, it *was* my first ever time watching one of these celebrations, so I made sure to stick around for it. And with the amount kind-of-sad faces that stuck around, I’d say that was the general sentiment–except for, you know,all of those weirdo Tigers fans in attendance:

92513 Fans after game

And so ended the Tigers series. Next up would be the Indians, who the Twins could potentially knock out of the playoffs. Three games down in the week, three to go.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this Game (1 pictured because I gave 3 away and somehow can’t find the Cabrera ball)

92513 Baseball

Numbers 733-737:

92513 Sweet Spot

  • 291 Balls in 61 Games= 4.77 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 26,517 Fans= 132,585 Competition Factor
  • 123 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 28 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls
  • 175 Balls in 35 Games at Target Field= 5.00 Balls Per Game
  • 33 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:21-11:18= 7 Hours 57 Minutes

9/24/13 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

The day started off well with a trip to Gate 3:

92413 Opening Picture

I like Gate 34, but when it’s not freezing out, Gate 3 has a certain level of serenity to it. That said, I got to Gate 3 only after first taking a trip to Gate 34 for over thirty minutes to try to get a ball bouncing out on the flag court.

After I got in, I got my first two baseballs courtesy of Prince Fielder. The first was a ball that I had tracked, but got into a row too early, and so when I realized the ball was going a good sized distance over my head, all I could do was jump and hope to find the ball in my glove when I came back down. I didn’t. But since there was no one behind me, I just turned around, saw the ball rattling around in the seats, and picked it up:

92413 Ball 1

And when I realized that Prince Fielder was getting warmed up, I moved back a little so I could run back on the flag court if he launched a ball back there. Well he did. So I ran back to the spot where I took this picture from:

92413 Fielder ball scenario

But when I realized the ball was falling short, I stopped and kept my eye on the ball. At that point, the man you see in front of me also realized where the ball was headed. So as he backed up to the spot where the ball was headed, I went forward to that spot. We got there at the same time, but he was in front of me. Because of this, I dipped under his glove and then jumped up as the ball fell down to earth. As I came down, I had no clue who had caught the ball. My guess was that we had both missed it and the ball was bouncing away from us on the flag court. When I looked in my glove, I was both surprised and felt bad for robbing the man so badly. Had I been moving backwards instead of forwards, the man would have caught my glove in his glove. Although he congratulated me on the catch, I still felt I owed someone a favor, so I gave the ball to the kid in the lower right-hand part of the last picture.

And then it was time for some more poaching of sorts. Rick Porcello meant to toss the ball to the kid in this next picture:

92413 Porcello ball diagram

But as you can kid of see by the arrow I’ve drawn, he tossed it short and it hit the railing and bounced in the flower pots. Since I was behind the kid in case of an overthrow, I quickly jumped down the rows and pulled the ball out of the flowers and handed the ball to him. I then snagged two baseballs from a Tigers player I didn’t identify. I do, however, know the kid I gave the second ball of the two to:

92413 Ball 5 kid

See the guy in the leopard print suit and golden glove? Of course you do. But do you remember him from my Opening Day entry? Well, if you read that entry, it should be no surprise that he’s a Tigers fan, which is why he was at this game. Anyway, I talked to him for a while, and it came up that he had promised the kid under the arrow I’ve included a ball. I responded with that I would give him a baseball if I snagged another one first. And I snagged a ball less than thirty seconds later, so I did.

And that was it for BP. So for the game, I headed out to left field and sat in the bleachers there for most of the game:

92413 Left Field Seats

But towards the end of the game, I ran to the dugout area in order to get ready to run down for an umpire ball when the game ended. In that inning or two between me getting there and the game ending, something special happened.  Chris Parmelee hit a foul ball that was going straight over my head. Before it could even reach me, though, I started sprinting back. I then saw the ball land in a row, and so I immediately ran into the row and fell on the ball, much like an offensive lineman on a fumble. Yay!

92413 Parmelee Foul

While I’d have MUCH rather it been a game home run, with this being the last week of the season, I was just glad to have gotten my first game ball of the season period. Unlike last year, it wasn’t so much me being completely incompetent when it comes to game balls; I just didn’t have many opportunities. In 2012 I remember about ten home run situations where I feel I could have had a home run had I done *something* different once the ball was hit; even if I did the correct “textbook” thing. But in 2013, there was definitely less than five of those same scenarios, if not less than four. Anyway, it was really nice to finally get one.

After the game, I headed to the umpire tunnel and got a ball from home plate umpire Brian O’Nora:

92413 Ball 7

And just like that, my day went from an average five-ball game to a pretty good seven-ball game. I then gave one of my baseballs away to a kid on my way out of the stadium. Two games down in the week, four to go.

STATS:

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

92413 Baseballs

Numbers 726-732:

92413 Sweet Spots

  • 286 Balls in 60 Games= 4.77 Balls Per Game
  • 7 Balls x 25,541 Fans= 178,787 Competition Factor
  • 122 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 27 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 170 Balls in 34 Games at Target Field= 5.00 Balls Per Game
  • 32 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 12 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:32-11:04= 7 Hours 32 Minutes

9/23/13 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

After a rare 10-day break in the month of September from baseball games, I was back at Target for a fun match-up:

92313 Scoreboard

This will be a very short entry because there really isn’t much to tell. I got in at the normal time, and this was my view as I got in:

92313 Field as I got in

But I then got shutout for all of BP. The only baseballs I snagged were after batting practice was over at the bullpen. Nate Dammann tossed me two baseballs. One was actually meant for me, but the other was for me to give to a kid I know who ballhawks with his dad. I may have taken a picture of them before, but to be clear, there are two pairs of ballhawking father-son teams that I know of at Target Field. Anyway, the dad catches pretty much anything near him, and the kid is almost as good with the obvious added benefit of cuteness, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they snagged more baseballs than me at pretty much every game we’ve been to together. Anyway, he needed no help in catching the ball, but Dammann didn’t know that, so I motioned to him as if I could catch the ball for the kid and then give it to him. And as you can tell, that’s exactly what happened.

After that came the game, and since this was the first game in a week I would be going to games six of the seven days, I stood out on the flag court but wrote my own myth as part of my homework for my Greek and Roman Mythology class:

92313 Heraklapala

You probably can’t read, but the myth was about the time Heracles founded the ancient sport of Heraklapala (literally: Heracles–Hercules is his Roman name, while Heracles or Herakles is his Greek name–ball) which then became the modern day baseball. I am pretty proud of it, but the even more interesting thing was how many came up to me for doing homework at a baseball game. All of them, though jokingly, asked me if the game was that boring that I was doing homework. But that semi-questioning of my baseball fandom soon ceased when I explained that the reason I had to do my homework at a baseball game was that I was going to six of the seven games that week being held at Target Field.

And after the game, I went down to the bullpens just in time to see the kid who I gave my second ball away to get the bullpen lineup card. It was pretty awesome:

92313 Lineup card

And with that , a fun day at the ballpark came to an end.

STATS:

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

92313 Baseball

Numbers 724-725:

92313 Sweet Spot

  • 279 Balls in 59 Games= 4.73 Balls Per Game
  • 2 Balls x 24,647 Fans= 49,294 Competition Factor
  • 121 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 26 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 163 Balls in 33 Games at Target Field= 4.94 Balls Per Game
  • 31 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 11 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:07-12:23= 9 Hours 16 Minutes

Ballhawk and Junior Ballhawk of the Year Ballot

I know that one’s ballot for voting on these awards is usually a private matter, but I think I’m going to go ahead and make my ballot as well as the reasoning behind it so some other voters out there can get at least one other person’s perspective on the voting besides their own. I am by no means the “right” way to vote on the award; simply, my way of voting is *a* way of voting on the award, and I thought it’d be fun to share it.

Also, even though the ballot is restricted to three candidates, I’m going to give my top-5 for each award, since I think there are many more than six total worthy candidates. The name in parentheses is the person’s mygameballs.com username, since you’ll need that to vote for them.

Ballhawk of the Year ballot

1. Greg Barasch (gbarasch)

20120710-091158.jpg

I must admit, I didn’t have Greg in either of my top-2 ballot spots last year, and despite having only 13 more baseballs than last year total, I bumped Greg up to the top spot because he still had an excellent year. Unlike last year, Greg beat every single ballhawk on the site in head-to-head match-ups (which you can check for yourself by clicking here). Not only that, but he averaged almost a whole Ball Per Game (.93 to be specific) higher than anyone else on the site. He also had by far the best rate of double-digit games (1:3) of anyone on the site. The only thing that made me hesitant to put him at the top of my ballot was his lack of game balls, but he dominated his part of ballhawking enough this year to more than make up for that in my opinion. Not to mention, he did all of this going to a majority of his games in New York, both of the stadiums inside of which are tough places to snag baseballs and have a bunch of competition to deal with.

2. Alex Kopp (akopp1)

8213 Alex + Spot

He perhaps didn’t have the average or total baseball count of other candidates, but like Greg, he dominated his own part of the ballhawking top-10. He had more game home run snags than anyone in the top-10 ballhawks. Heck, he almost had as many (8) as the rest of the top-10 combined (10). And also like Greg, I had my reservations about putting Alex so high up, but he also attended 92% of his games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which has one of the larger constituencies of ballhawk competition in the country. It was not uncommon for him to have two or three ballhawks up on the flag court competing with him for game home runs. If he had the ballpark to himself, he would easily have double-digit home run numbers. Even as it is, he had a game to game home run ratio (8.25:1) almost three times better than the next best ballhawk in the top-10 (23.25:1). That’s amazing.

3. Zack Hample (zackhample)

Zack H Photo

He got beat out in terms of total baseballs by Erik Jabs 723-710. However, he made up for it in my mind by out-snagging Erik in game home runs (4-0), double digits games (27-23. Despite going to 14 less games), and Balls Per Game average (7.63-6.76). He is probably the most rounded of any of the candidates for the award.

4. Erik Jabs (ErikJ)

Erik Picture

Besides the number two baseball snagger, Erik almost doubled the baseball count of anyone else on the site. That alone would be enough to get him into the top-3 if it weren’t for some great years by other ballhawks. Pretty much the only reason Erik did not make my personal BotY ballot is the lack of strength in the other statistical categories. However, it should be noted that he ballhawks in the ballpark with perhaps THE toughest day-in-day out competition in the country in PNC Park. He also leaves games right after batting practice, so that makes all of his numbers that much more impressive since he doesn’t have time during the games to pad his stats at all. I don’t think the magnitude of his feats should be minimized at all because of the fact that I have him in the four spot.

5. Rick Gold (JQFC)

8213 Rick Arriving

To the outsider, Rick and his 3.23 Balls Per Game paired with his 265 baseballs might seem like a guy who just went to a ton of games in order to get a bunch of baseballs and get into the top-10. Well an outsider wouldn’t know that Rick only goes after hit baseballs. For a ballhawk, averaging anything that nears 3.00 Balls Per Game is a great season, so Rick’s 3.23 isn’t unheard of, but still a phenomenal season. You may be thinking, “Getting three and a quarter hit baseballs in a batting practice isn’t hard to do.” Well the problem with that is this was Rick’s *average* for all of the games he went to. This would be difficult average with regular batting practices, but one has to also keep in mind that this average also includes batting practices that have been rained out–which Rick is particularly prone to since he plans his games out often weeks in advance and doesn’t skip games when he learns the weather isn’t going to be ideal. Well all of those games are automatic zeroes for Rick barring a game home run snag. Speaking of which, Rick might’ve been higher on this list had he had a normal year of his in terms of game home run snags, but he had some tough luck and only snagged three. That is still the third best amongst the top-10 baseball snaggers on the site.

Junior Ballhawk of the Year ballot

1. Grant Edrington (fireant02)

Grant

With 2013 essentially being his rookie year ballhawking, Grant started off his season slowly, but then he picked it up and snagged the most baseballs of any junior ballhawk with 102, outpacing the nearest competitor by almost thirty baseballs. And he also accomplished what almost no other junior ballhawks did by snagging a game home run. He all of which whilst battling the very tough OPACY ballhawk competition.

2. Paul Kom (paaoool123)-

Paul

He snagged an impressive 73 baseballs in 19 games. The majority of which were at the not-very-friendly Target Field.

3. Josh Herbert (PGHawkJosh)

Snagged an impressive 48 baseballs for a junior ballhawk, but even more impressively did so in just eight games to get him the highest Balls Per Game average amongst junior ballhawks.

4. Maddie Landis (angrybird447)

Maddie

Like Grant, this was also essentially her rookie season, so 54 baseballs in 14 games is really impressive.

5. Harrison Tishler (htishler)

Harrison

One of the few “veterans” on the junior circuit, Harrison didn’t make it into the upper echelon in terms of total baseball snagging with his 43 baseballs, but did so in far fewer games this season than his peer, going to only 9 games all season.

If you want to, you can leave your ballot as a comment, but don’t feel like you have to. You may also notice that I made the “RE: Ballhawk of the Year Parts I and II” private, so in order to still have the comments that accumulated there somewhere public, here are pictures of all three sets of comments and my responses:

Chris:

Chris comment and response

Tony:

Tony comment and response

Wayne:

Wayne comment and response

RE: Ballhawk of the Year: Parts I and II

Let me start with this: I don’t mean to offend anyone in writing this article. (This is a response to the title article: “Ballhawk of the Year: Part II.”) Would I have rather not written this article/entry at all and never have to address such a divisive topic being brought up in an even more polarizing fashion? Absolutely. I tried to stay out of this completely  as long as I could, but it has become apparent that while her jar has not yet been opened, the ballhawk’s Pandora has been created. In other words, I would have rather this not come up, but maybe we can actually get something positive out of this whole spectacle.

I will also say this: I am probably less infallible than anyone reading this. Why do I say this? I encourage you to challenge what I say, whether you are reading this on my blog or on mygameballs.com, in the respective comments section below. The only stipulation that  make for leaving comments on my blog–since I don’t control the mygameballs comments–is you be respectful to one another. You can bash me all you want, but please debate each others’ points respectfully or…well, you’ll see what happens. Also on the note of commenting, since both articles are so long, I decided to organize my points in a way that wouldn’t going to completely bore everyone reading this while simultaneously making it easier to comment on specific points. How it goes is I will post Rocco’s point followed by my reaction to said point and rationale fro taking that stance right afterwards in a numbered fashion. So if you are commenting on a point I or Rocco made, just be sure to let the rest of us know which one it is so it’s much easier to find what exactly you’re referring to. This has and will continue to get messy in terms of people citing information and things of that nature, so I just wanted to organize it a bit.

(You don’t have to read this next paragraph if your first name isn’t Rocco and are more than welcome to skip it and dive straight into the response itself.)

Finally, before I get to my actual response to the two articles in question, I would like to say something to the architect of this whole kerfuffle, Rocco Sinisi: Rocco, I have heard many tales of your kindness and hospitality when it comes to travelers visiting GABP. I still do very much look forward to meeting you when our paths cross somewhere along the line. I also know you didn’t mean to incite what you did–or at least I don’t think you did. All of this adds up to say: Don’t think that I am being critical in any way of you as a person in my response to your articles below. Any criticism I express is simply of the ideas you have made public the past 1.5 months or so/how you have compiled your various arguments. All of that out of the way, let’s get to the response itself, shall we?

  1. Point: Zack is a professional ballhawk, and so he’s at an unfair advantage to us people who have to pay for our games.

Response: Eh. Yes but no. While I definitely see where you’re coming from, I would agree more if we were talking about a different ballhawk being the “professional” in question, but Zack went to 80 games last year to this year’s 92, and 131 the year before that without being sponsored. It would be one thing if he were reinvesting the money saved through being sponsored into a ton more games, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It seems as though there is a money-independent threshold of games that he is willing to go to in a year. And I have a good guess as to why that is: blog entries. Most ballhawks would in fact reinvest the money into a ton more games, but having to write 2,000 words for every game makes you…surprise! Much less willing to go to 160 games a year; despite affordability.

2. Point: What is Ballhawk of the Year?

Response: I do agree with you here. It has always been the case that there is a question of what the award actually means. However, I would also say that as long as MLB doesn’t have a standardized way of choosing a Cy Young or MVP, I don’t think there should be a standardized way to choose Ballhawk (and Junior Ballhawk) of the Year.

Is it a flawed system? Of course. But so would be any standardized way of choosing Ballhawk of the Year. Therefore, I say we just go with our own little way of imperfect perfection and have what Ballhawk of the Year (and the junior derivation thereof) means be up to the discretion of each voter. For me it means the best overall ballhawk; but if someone thinks the awards are whoever snags the most baseballs or game home runs, they should be allowed to do it. Not to mention, any standardization of the awards renders the voting useless. And while that is a possible route to take, I like the fact that these awards are determined by peer-vote.

On a personal level, because of my way of voting when considering all of the statistical categories available on mygameballs.com–as well as calculating a few of my own–Zack has come out on top two out of the three years I have voted on the Ballhawk of the Year award. I can’t speak for others, but that’s the way I have voted for the award, which has nothing to do with personal affiliations.

3. Point: Disqualifications for Ballhawk of the Year

Response: This is gimmicky, but does bring up a good point. For the sake of time, I’m going to agree with you and say that ballhawking is a sport. Well ballhawking is unique from most other sports in that the person decides when they retire, and so it is just as likely for a ballhawk to “retire” at 18 as it is for a ballhawk to retire at 50. And it is not infrequent to see a ballhawk take a multiyear-long hiatus and then come back to ballhawking. What that means is I do like “inducting” ballhawks into a Hall of Fame while still  ballhawking, if we ever choose to have something like a Hall of Fame.

I think here is also the best time to point out that we have a very small sample size of Ballhawks of the Year. There have been only four years in which Ballhawk of the Year has been voted on. Sure Zack has won 75% of them, but Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, and Greg Maddux won their respective awards 100% of the time over a four-year period. I don’t think anyone was calling for a restructuring of their awards because of them. While I do agree that with the insulation of this “sport” we have the beginning of a problem, trying to implement a solution to the *beginning* of such a problem is a bit preemptive. I say we give it at least a couple more years to give other people a shot at having a breakout year and winning it with statistics alone instead of a “booster seat” win.

4. Point: We need age categories in order to give people with different abilities an even shot

Response: Good reasoning…but no. I like the idea; I really do. A ten-year-old doesn’t have the same snagging ability a thirty-year-old has, who doesn’t have the same snagging ability a seventy-year old has. That said, the categories you’ve made are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too specific. Alex Kopp, Garrett Meyer, and myself were discussing mygameballs statistics one night, and Alex didn’t even think that there was a female ballhawk who had recorded 25 baseballs on the site ever. Determined to find one, I looked through the *whole* career leaderboard for people with at least 25 baseballs. And I did prove him wrong by finding one…but that was it; just one. Granted, this ballhawk had recorded all 37 of her baseballs–at the time–this year, but I think you see the problem in beginning a competition between one person.

I haven’t yet ravaged the 60+  demographic yet, but I assume I’d find almost just as bad a scarcity problem. If we add a Female Ballhawk of the Year, Senior Ballhawk of the Year, or two additional slots for Junior Ballhawk of the Year as you’ve suggested, we’re simply creating an even worse monopolized awards problem. Junior Ballhawk of the Year would be the smaller of monopoly problems since candidates are always losing eligibility, but that’s exactly the reason expanding to three is a bad idea. In two of the three years I’ve voted I’ve had a hard time putting together a list of three worthy candidates for ONE spot, forget about finding nine worthy candidates for three spots.

I think the problem with the other  two awards is pretty self-explanatory, but just in case it isn’t: With so little competition, the same person would win the award every year. And if the thought behind creating the awards is it will get more people to join the site from these respective demographics, I don’t see that happening. People join the site to document their baseball collections because they heard about it somewhere; it is not until a person is in the community that they learn about the award. If there aren’t a bunch of female and senior ballhawks on the site, that’s because the message isn’t getting out to them fast enough, not because there is a lack of fitting awards.

5. Point: “Cult of Zack Hample”

Response: Maybe if this was 2009, but in going to stadiums  and running into a large majority of the prominent ballhawks who have ever run into Zack, I can say that people no longer agree with Zack simply because he is Zack. It used to be that Zack’s blog was one of the very few peepholes into the ballhawking world, but as mygameballs has become more prominent in these recent years, people can take a look at other ballhawks by themselves, and as a result of that, come up with information that isn’t filtered by Zack. This has lead to people not going with Zack because he is the “king of the ballhawks” as some have labeled him. What that means, is if there are people defending him, it’s because they are actually against the points brought against him. There is a clear confusion here between your so-called dogmatic “crucifixion” by the church of Zack Hample and people actually disagreeing with the points you’ve brought forth. Could some people have phrased it a little more professionally? Yes; but comments sections on the internet aren’t exactly renown for their civility.

6. Point: Give other ballhawks some more recognition.

Response: You underestimate how much people browse the site. People know all of the names you have thrown out there. That said, I do agree that the articles during the season were a great resource in discovering more about these lesser-known ballhawks that no longer stands as prominent on the site as it once did. And as such, like yourself, I volunteer to write a percentage of these articles since I’ll be taking a reduced ballhawking role this upcoming season.

7. Point: Ballhawking is a sport.

Response: I agree with you but I don’t at the same time. In regards to this, I have seen people take to both sides, but I’d say I’m right in the middle. Being a sports management, I know that the actual, metaphysical definition of “sport” is a competition between two or more parties. So yes, even chess is a sport by technicality. That said, the modern-day, practical definition is it is an athletic competition. With all that said, I think it is both sport an hobby; it depends wholly on how you view it. So with you, Rocco, ballhawking is a sport, since it seems you are actively competing with the rest of us ballhawks out there. But with someone who is doing it just because collecting baseballs is a fun thing, it is a hobby. There is no reason for ballhawking to have an exclusive category since the duality of its nature reflects the duality of the people who partake in it.

8. Point: “Everybody’s thinking the same way.”

Response: Alan put up an column RIGHT before this one that shows we aren’t all thinking the same way. The column, for those reading this who didn’t read it, was the Top-15 Recent Improvements to MyGameBalls.com. While I only pitched three of the improvements listed on the site last offseason, I had a bunch of ballhawks tell me there should be something similar to the idea I had pitched just that past offseason, It would not surprise me to know that over half of the improvements listed came from member suggestions. This shows that ballhawks are in fact thinking outside of the mold that we have set for us. And I do acknowledge you as one of those ballhawks thinking outside of the box, but by the response you have generated, it appears as though the majority of the community does not agree with the changes you have set forth in suggesting.

Anyways, thank you for plowing through that. I’m going to go ahead and delete my “Update” entry, so here are the two videos I made if you haven’t seen them yet:

Since we are so close to the end of the World Series, my next entry will probably be my 2013 Ballhawk and Junior Ballhawk of the Year ballots, but I could potentially squeeze a game entry in before that.

9/13/13 Rays at Twins: Target Field

Another Friday meant another game with Jonathan. (He’s available in the nights on Fridays.)

91313 Jonathan at Gate

And with Jonathan at the game, that meant I had a photographer with me to use my fancy camera and possibly get action shots. For example, when we got in, I had run closer to the left field foul pole, but then I saw that a ball was headed back the other way:

91313 Looking left

And started running towards Jonathan with my eye on the ball:

91313 Running left

Reached up:

91313 Reaching up

And then finally caught the ball:

91313 Ball 1

I don’t know who hit it, but it was a Twins player. And that would be the only ball I snagged during Twins BP. My next ball came at the dugout as the Rays were warming up. Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina were playing catch, so I knew I had an advantage, because I could yell Jose as loudly as I wanted to and whichever player ended up with the ball would hear me and most likely toss me the ball. Lobaton ended up with the ball, so here I am reaching up for the ball:

91313 Ball 2

I gave this ball away to a kid that was right next to me, but I wasn’t going to stop there. Because it was at the dugout and no other Rays players had seen me get the ball, I moved down the line and got the attention of Matt Joyce. Here you can see me waving my arms and Joyce facing me with the ball in his hands:

91313 Joyce with ball

And then here’s a picture as the ball was on its descent towards me. Can you find it?

91313 Ball 3

I also gave this ball away, but to Jonathan, since I promised it to him for taking pictures instead of asking the players themselves.

I then figured that it was time to head back to the outfield seats. As the righties were taking their initial cuts, I headed out to the right-center seats to get a couple toss-ups from the players out there. Here’s the first one I got from David DeJesus:

91313 Ball 4

And then I got Matt Moore to toss me a ball:

91313 Matt Moore Toss-up

But his aim was a little low, so I ended up having to reach for the ball in the flower pots:

91313 Ball 5

If you’re keeping track, that was my fifth ball of the day.

I then had some fun scaring people and running after baseballs in the standing room:

91313 SRO

But I didn’t actually get any of the balls hit up there. However, my next baseball was in right field. Here I am catching the ball underhanded–in front of my body, so you can’t see it:

91313 Ball 6

And then right afterwards with the ball in my glove:

91313 Mateo with ball 6

The reason I’m looking over to my left in the picture is because I was looking for a kid I could give the ball away to. I found a kid, but Jonathan didn’t get the picture of that. Jonathan did, however, get this picture of the guy who tossed it, so I’m pretty sure it was Cesar Ramos, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong:

91313 Ceasr Ramos

I then figure I had exhausted all toss-up opportunities in right field, so although left field was way more crowded, I headed over there since there were a bunch of righties coming up. And if you hadn’t seen before, I think it’s pretty apparent here that it was a orange camouflage hat giveaway:

91313 Hunting Hat

Well I did in fact get a toss-up . This guy tossed me a ball, and I assumed it was Jamey Wright, but again I could very well be wrong:

91313 Wright

He spotted me in my Rays gear and flipped me a ball over about seven rows of fans. That would be my last ball for batting practice; my seventh on the day for those of you keeping score at home.

My next ball came from the bullpen. It was myself, a woman, and a bunch of kids asking Bobby Cuellar for a ball. When he got to the wall, he pointed to someone just to my left, so I said, “Hey, I’ll catch it for them.” As a result, Cuellar tossed me a ball for whom I thought was one of the kids, but was oddly enough for the woman. I thought it was weird, but then I realized that she was the mother of one of the smaller children.

I then spent the rest of the time at the bullpen getting some dandy shots like these two:

91313 Kevin Correia

91313 Chris Archer

And then at game time, we went out to the flag court and alternated between there:

91313 Flag Court View

and the left field seats:

91313 Left Field View

But sadly no homers were to be found.

After the game, we headed to the umpire, and here I am calling out to Hunter Wendelstedt:

91313 Calling Out

And then catching the ball:

91313 Ball 9

And then looking to my side for a kid to give the ball away to:

91313 Kid to give ball 9 to

And then I did find a kid to give it away to:

91313 Giving Ball 9 away to

But his friend had also not gotten a ball, so I gave him the ball I had gotten from Wright.

I then quickly made my way to the end of the dugout, where I saw Scott Cursi and Stan Boroski walking in from the bullpen. And as I saw them, I knew right away my strategy. See I had learned the first day I had seen the Rays in Baltimore that Boroski really appreciates people who know his name. I almost guarantee that you will get a ball from him if you ask him by name and he doesn’t recognize you from getting a previous baseball.

It should come as no surprise to you, then, that I got my tenth and final ball from Boroski I simply asked him for a ball, and he pulled a ball out of his pocket and tossed it to me.

STATS:

  • 10 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 6 away)

91313 Baseballs

Numbers 714-723:

91313 Sweet Spots

  • 277 Balls in 58 Games= 4.78 Balls Per Game
  • 10 Balls x 27,292 Fans= 272,920 Competition Factor
  • 120 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 25 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 22 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 14 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with at least 5-6 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 7 Balls
  • 161 Balls in 32 Games at Target Field= 5.03 Balls Per Game
  • 30 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
  • 10 straight Games with at least 2-4 Balls at Target Field
  • 4 straight Games with at least 5-6 Balls at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 7 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:41-11:12= 7 Hours 31 Minutes

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
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