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

8/16/13 Rockies at Orioles: Camden Yards

Apparently two weeks was long enough a hiatus from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, because two weeks to the day, I was back there:

81613 Opening Picture

The four front people would be:

1. Oliver Francies- A semi-regular who I met because he goes to UND, which is a rival in various sports to UMN.

2. Sir Grant Edrington III- Who I introduced various times when I wrote about the last homestand I was here for. (So, here, here, here, and here)

3. Garrett Meyer- A Kansas City ballhawk, who I hadn’t seen since a game that I didn’t even enter the gates for in June of last year.

4. Avi Miller- With whom I was staying for this Rockies series, and general encyclopedia of all things Orioles.

Going in, I knew I was going to have some competition, but I also wanted to take advantage of the lack of usual competition. Alex Kopp was off on a vacation in Miami, and Tim Anderson wasn’t getting to the game until about 5:30. So when I got in, I first didn’t find any easter eggs, but secondly had the following arrangement of ballhawks surrounding me. Grant was to my left:

81613 Grant

Avi was in front of me:

81613 Avi

And Garrett was to my right:

81613 Garrett

To begin BP, JJ Hardy hit two home runs over my head. Both of which I should have caught on the fly, and both of which I misjudged. Thankfully I go the second one, but right after I took this picture:

81613 Ball 1

I turned to Avi and said, “This could be a looong day for me.” It was shortly after that Hardy hit another home run near me. It was headed to my left and to Avi’s row. So when he went into that row, I went in the row below him and jumped up for the catch right in front of his glove:

81613 Ball 2

Avi then headed out shortly after that and spent the rest of BP drinking his sorrows away for free. (I’m half-joking about that. I’ll leave it to your imagination what half I’m talking about.) I then snagged two baseballs which I apparently forgot to take pictures of.(I came to the realization of this just seconds before I typed those last two sentences.) The first was an Alexi Casilla home run that I ran a section to my right to catch. I also caught this one right in front of a teenager and got grief from a middle aged season ticket holder for doing so even though I had already gotten a ball. (I just ignored him, because I knew the kid was a regular who had no problem getting baseballs on his own. For the record, he would go on to get two baseballs before I got a single other baseball.) My second ball came when I headed down the line for the Rockies warming up. I yelled Charlie when the throwing group of Charlie Blackmon and Culberson were done throwing. Culberson ended up with the ball, so I waved to him. And I don’t know who the ball was intended for, because while I had waved right before he tossed the ball, his throw was tailing towards Garrett for what seemed to be an easy catch. I really don’t know what happened next to him, but Garrett had the ball tip off his glove, and so since it bounced to me, I picked the ball up. Weird. And also, I had no clue at the time, I had no clue that this was my 200th ball of the season. Something I had only done once before.

My next ball came out in the center field section of seating. When a number 35 came to the wall to retrieve a ball, I quickly checked my roster and got Chad Bettis to toss me a ball. I then gave the ball to a kid I had slipped past to get into the first row:

81613 Ball 5 Happening

That was my fifth baseball of the day. My sixth was by far my favorite of the game…and with no game balls this year, I’d say it ranks pretty high up my favorite snags of this year. (Which is kinda sad now that I think of it.) For whatever reason, I was the only ballhawk on the flag court when Todd Helton launched a ball to the extreme right of the flag court. In fact, it was even off of the flag court. Because as I ran after the ball, I had to reach over the railing that divides the flag court from section 98 at OPACY. So had I not caught the ball, it would have landed in the seats:

81613 Ball 6

This would be my sixth and final ball of BP. After BP, I went to the Orioles bullpen.

Now usually Rick Adair is the one who comes to the Orioles bullpen and tosses all of the baseballs in there to the crowd, but this game it was someone different. As he watched whoever the starting pitcher was warming up outside the bullpen, Grant and I figured out that Rick Adair had taken a leave of absence, and this other coach was Scott McGregor. While neither Grant nor I  got a ball tossed to us, McGregor tossed a ball to a kid to my right. Unfortunately, two grown ups stood up, and after go the ball took two convenient bounces to me, I picked it up and gave it to a kid to my left who actually had a glove on:

81613 Ball 7 Happening

That would be my seventh and final ball of the day. For the game I hung out with Tim, Avi, and Grant out in the flag court. I would have a picture, but Avi blocked Tim out of the picture on the first take and then disappeared from frame on the second picture. And while we had a couple close calls, none of us got a home run out there during the game.

STATS:

  • 7 Balls at this Game (5 pictured because I gave 2 away)

81613 Baseballs

Numbers 643-649 for my “lifetime”:

81613 Sweet Spots

  • 203 Balls in 47 Games= 4.26 Balls Per Game
  • 7 Balls x 31,438 Fans=220,066 Competition Factor
  • 109 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 14 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 11 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with 4-5 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with 6-7 Balls
  • 74 Balls in 18 Games at OPACY= 4.11 Balls Per Game
  • 18 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 8 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 6 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • 4 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at OPACY
  • 2 straight Games with at least 5 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 1:28-11:17= 9 Hours 49 Minutes

8/14/13 Angels at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

There was one goal for me on this day: Get 4 baseballs. It was my third and final game at Yankee Stadium in 2013, and I was sitting at 96 career baseballs at Yankee Stadium. I think I’m only one of five ballhawks to have gotten 100 baseballs at three different stadium–of which I am *BY FAR* the worst of, and I think I would be one of only 3 to have it at four or more stadiums, but I’m not sure. I just wanted to get 100 at Yankee Stadium, and like Citi Field, not ever *have* to come back to it again. And for my journey to 100, Andy Bingham thankfully showed up at the gates and offered to help document my quest for me. And so here he is one he took of Chris Hernandez and I talking at Gate 6:

81413 Opening Picture

And then of me getting my ticket scanned:

81413 Ticket Scan

And then because I was so far ahead of both of them, a picture of Chris running into the the stands:

81413 Chris Running

When I got in there were already people in the right field seats, but somehow all ten or so of them missed an easter egg in the last row, and I made sure to scoop it up:

81413 Ball 1

Chris’ lateness also might have helped him, because he took a while through the seats as well and found an easter egg of his own by the foul pole. And when Andy got to the seats, this was my happy reaction to already having one baseball on the day:

81413 One

My next ball of the day came when A-Rod, who I coming into this series I completely forgot was still in baseball, hit a ball that didn’t look like it was going to clear the wall near the bullpen, but I kind of jogged in the direction of it just in case. Then, when the did hit the warning track dirt, that jogged turned into a sprint, and I had my second ball of the day:

81413 Ball 2

I then turned and asked the kid in the front row if he wanted the ball. When he said, “Sure” normally I would have just tossed it to him, but Andy told me to go and hand it to him for the picture you are about to see:

81413 Ball 2 Give away

And so while I took my spot at the back of the section:

81413 Back of the section

Chris was towards the beginning of what was a pretty boring day for him in terms of hit baseballs:

81413 Chris Sun

Not that the rest of my time in the right field seats was particularly productive. I had a couple near misses, but no other baseballs. First there was this baseball that I had judged, but was a going to land two rows behind me:

81413 Miss 1

An then this ball that you can see being picked up by another guy:

81413 Miss 2

Then the group changed and both Chris and I–seen by us both having our backpacks on–were ready to head out to left field:

81413 Mateo and Chris

And in a move of friendly competition, when Chris ran to his left towards a ball that was hit that way, I didn’t even go after the ball and instead bolted to left field in order to secure my spot out there:

81413 LF

My third ball of the day was almost a mirror image of my second in that it was another ground rule double right up against the bullpen that I jogged after but then sprinted for once I realized it was going over:

81413 Getting Ball 3

(The “mirror” part being that it was on the other side of the field.)

81413 Ball 3

That was ball 3 for me, meaning the next one would be 100 for me at Yankee Stadium. So while I went into foul ground when the Angels started throwing, there was a huge chunk of me that hoped I didn’t get a ball down there, because I wanted to get a hit baseball. That said, I’m not good enough to have the luxury of getting a specific baseball the way I want it, so I mostly just wanted to not get shutout the rest of the game.

So when the aforementioned huge chunk of me was pleased by me not getting a baseball in foul ground and I headed back to left field:

81413 To the left

It looked like 100 was going to have to be hit. (Side note: Do you notice the man in blue with a glove about four rows below me in that last picture? That’s Erik. He was actually at and commented on the first ever game I wrote about on this blog. Side, side note: If you do click that second link, please excuse my bad writing.)And it was. Mike Trout crushed a ball to my right, and while I knew I wasn’t going to be able to catch the ball on the fly, my hope was if I chased after it, the ball could maybe deflect back to me. It didn’t exactly. Instead it popped up off a seat and I out jumped Erik for the ball that was now literally up in the air:

81413 Ball 4 Happening

Yay! Number 100. And from Mike Trout? Perfect. To celebrate, I went back to my bag, put 100 in a special pocket, and gave the second ground-rule double away to a kid in a Teixiera jersey that you can see in this next picture of me talking to a woman for about something I don’t recall:

81413 Kid of Ball 3

My next ball was also one I robbed ballhawks friends of. See Chris was over to my left for most of the time we were in left field:

81413 Chris to my left

(His expression says everything about how his day was going to that point. He had snagged two baseballs relatively early in BP, but he wasn’t getting much action.) But as the people who didn’t have tickets for left field got kicked out, Chris first talked a little:

81413 Chris and Mateo

But then he went  off to my right to get more space:

81413 Chirs on right

So when Mark Trumbo hit a baseball about two sections to my right, I figured either Chris or Erik would have it, but when the ball took a bounce off a seat away from both of them, I was able to make up the section-long headstart they got on me and get the ball:

81413 Ball 5

Since they had been so much closer to the ball than I had been when it was hit, when I got it, Chris uttered a sentence–in a friendly way (as you can see from him smiling in that last picture)– that I won’t re-write here on the blog.

My sixth ball of the day came as a result of another Mark Trumbo homer that Chris almost definitely would have gotten had I not been there. Trumbo bombed a ball to the back of the LF seats. I came from the right of the ball, and Chris from the left (if you were looking from the field), and we both jumped and came up short. But the ball hit off the wall, and then hit me. I was in pain from the ball hitting me, but I looked down on the ground, saw the ball, and picked it up:

81413 Ball 6

And then I tried to get a ball from Mike Harkey:

81413 Harkey Ball

And then for the game I stayed out in left field. For the game, I headed out to my seat in left field and tried for a home run. But then at about the eighth inning, I got someone’s ticket and sat by the dugout. My main goal was to get an umpire ball at the end of the game, but that wasn’t going to stop me from going for a third-out ball. So when Chris Nelson jogged in from the field, I yelled his name and he threw me this:

81413 Ball 7

That was my seventh and final ball of the day.

STATS:

  • 7 Balls at this Game (5 pictured because I gave 2 away)

81413 Baseballs

Numbers 636-642 for my lifetime:

81413 Sweet Spots

  • 196 Balls in 46 Games= 4.26 Balls Per Game
  • 7 Balls x 38,379 Fans=268,653 Competition Factor
  • 108 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 13 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 10 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with 4-5 Balls
  • 103 Balls in 27 Games at Yankee Stadium= 3.81 Balls Per Game
  • 27 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Yankee Stadium
  • 14 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Yankee Stadium
  • Time Spent On Game 3:30-11:21= 8 Hours 20 Minutes

8/13/13 Angels at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Again at Yankee Stadium, and look who I ran into:

81313 Opening Picture

This would be Greg Barasch, my former neighbor from when I lived in New York. And because he averages eight balls a game despite being in New York, I knew it was going to be a tougher-than-normal day at Yankee Stadium. But then again, I knew that in about a month, I would be at Target Field with very little or no competition most days, so I knew that in the end, being forced to another level just trying to get a couple of baseballs, it would only help me for when I had no competition in terms of being able to fully appreciate it.

And in at least the first few minutes, I was actually doing better than the competition I was facing–which is rare. I first went to the Yankees bullpen, where Hiroki Kuroda was going through the bullpen and tossing the balls that were in there back on the field. But when he was picking up the ball closest to me, I asked him in Japanese for the ball, he laughed, and tossed me the ball over the netting that separates the bullpen from the seats I was in:

81313 Ball 1

And then it was back to my spot with Greg in front of me:

81313 Greg In Front

Normally I would think this would be an awful spot…and at the time it was, and I did in the moment–especially when he caught a home run that I would have otherwise gotten–but I then got two Lyle Overbay home runs within a matter of seconds. First over here:

81313 Ball 2 Diagram

And then with the first ball still in hand, I got the second one–off a bounce off of the Modell’s advertisement–over here:

81313 Ball 3 Diagram

So I was on the board with three baseballs in a matter of minutes. So when Ichiro’s group came up, I figured I had milked this section for all it was worth and headed into the second deck in right field. But I didn’t get anything; instead I just watched as Greg moved to my spot and snagged two baseballs there.

I then headed over to left field, where this was my spot/view:

81313 View from LF

And look who I saw out there:

81313 Rick Crowe

That would be Rick Crowe. He’s a Chicago-based ballhawk who I first met back in 2011 when I was at my first game at US Cellular during my 2011 tour of Midwest colleges. He can usually be found in the seats of US Cellular Field for batting practice, but his practice at least back in 2011 was to lave after BP to go home and have dinner with his family. And while I don’t like people having no reason to leave before the game starts leaving before the game starts, having a family to have to go back to is a valid reason to do so for me.

Anyway, we planned to meet later in at his seat above the batter’s eye before the national anthem, but when I got there, the section I would have had to go to get to his seat was closed for a private event. Oh well; I’m sure I’ll run into him again down the line.

My next ball would come from the spot I took the picture of Rick from. Mark Trumbo blasted a ball into the left field bleachers, but the person who was under the ball ended up bobbling it:

81313 Ball 4 Diagram

And so the ball went into the tunnel that was behind me, where I picked it up. I then asked a kid who had run behind me if he had gotten a ball, and when he said no, I gave him the ball. That was my last ball for BP.

As for the game, this was my view of it:

81313 View of Game

And what a painfully slow game it was. I forgot which one it was, but one half-inning took 45 minutes as Mike Scioscia must have made 4 pitching changes. That, and because there was a call Scioscia believed had gone against him, (and despite the fact that I still haven’t seen the replay of it, from what I saw during the game, I agree with him.) Scioscia did something I have never seen a manager do and instead of signaling for the pitcher from the bullpen right away, he made it like a visit to the mound and made the home plate umpire, David Rackley walk out to the mound before he called for the pitcher he was going to bring in. Anyway, due to the painful slowness of the game’s pace, we were almost an hour behind normal game schedule. So when there was a rain delay:

81313 Rain Delay

Greg and I both expected not many  people to come back to the seats. But when we went back into the seats, it was a truly ludicrous scene. First, the players were warming up while the tarp was being put away, which I’ve never seen:

81313 Players and Tarp

But then there was also an insanely low amount of people that were present. Greg and I were both shocked how few Yankee fans emerged from what was probably the shortest during-game rain delay I had seen, and maybe Greg had seen. (It had only lasted a little over fifteen minutes.):

81313 Where da People

I mean, look at this panorama of the seats after the rain delay. (Click to enlarge, silly):

81313 Panorama

When the game eventually ended after 11:00, Greg and I took advantage of this fact, and yelled in unison at home plate umpire David Rackley. He was headed into the umpire tunnel with his head down, but after our “1,2,3…MR.RACKLEY!” he looked up and tossed us both a baseball. It was quite a beautiful moment of ballhawk teamwork:

81313 Umpire Balls

And after that, we headed out, and I took a picture of the surprisingly-full Great Hall post-game:

81313 Great Hall

And with that, I headed back to the place I was staying just to come back and do it the next day.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away)

81313 Baseballs

Numbers 631-635 for my “career”:

81313 Sweet Spots

  • 189 Balls in 45 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 35,013 Fans=175,065 Competition Factor
  • 107 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 12 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 9 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 96 Balls in 26 Games at Yankee Stadium= 3.69 Balls Per Game
  • 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Yankee Stadium
  • 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Yankee Stadium
  • Time Spent On Game 3:24-11:44= 8 Hours 20 Minutes

8/12/13 Angels at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

After taking an almost year-long hiatus (the last time I was here before this game was 8/15/12), I was back at Yankee Stadium for a three game series against the Angels:

81213 Opening Picture

And for the first time ever at Yankee Stadium, I had a person to take pictures of/for me during BP. It wasn’t intentional, though. As I waited in line as the first person in line, a man started waiting in line next to me. And after about a minute, he asked, “Are you one of Zack’s boys? I assumed so because you’re here standing in line so early.” It turns out this was Andy Bingham. (Who also has an picture-based MLBlog that you should check out. The link to it is on his name.) Anyway, he told me he has taken pictures of Zack Hample in the past for his blog, so he offered to do the same for me and this blog entry that you’re about to read.

However, right as I got in, I was glad that Andy wasn’t around to take pictures, because some Yankee hit a home run as I was checking for easter eggs, and so I turned towards the field, and then I jumped for the ball, but it tipped off of my glove, hit a seat behind me, and bounced back to the front row of the section, where one of the only other two kids in the section picked it up. A ball then got hit into the bleachers. Everyone else on the field level went back toards the field and snagging looking for future home runs, but I stuck around the bleachers, waited for the usher up there to retrieve it, and asked him for the ball:

81213 Ball 1

I then tried to get a couple Yankees to toss me the baseballs that had gone into the bullpen:
81213 Bullpen Scavenging

But then I headed over to left for the second group of Yankees that I saw hit. Within seconds of me getting there, some Yankees righty hit a ball to my left. So I drifted over to the spot where the ball was headed, and caught the ball on the fly:

81213 Ball 2

It was so soon after I got there that Andy, who was trailing me in the tunnel didn’t get there until I had put the ball back away in my backpack. Although, I pulled it back out for him to take a picture when he got there:

81213 Ball 2 Andy

I will have to say that the catch stung a little. That was because earlier in the day, before I even got to the stadium, I had run down a foresty hill to get to the  train that took me to the stadium. And since everything on said hill wasn’t exactly stable, I fell down and cut my hand on a rock. So when I told Andy about it, he took a picture of my hand slit:

81213 Hand Cut

So yeah, while I was excited to catch the ball, I would have maybe passed up catching ten baseballs on the fly that day. Thankfully, it would be last hit ball of the day. I then headed over into foul ground to try to get a ball from the Angels players who were throwing:

81213 Foul Ground

And interestingly enough, I ran into some fans I had seen the week prior at Nationals Park in the Red Seats:

81213 Other Fans

It’s funny because we had talked for a while; myself, Dave Butler, and the father of the family, so to see him/them at a game in a different state within the span of a week was funny. But as far as the snagging down the line was concerned, there was none. I tried to get players’ attention:

81213 Getting Players attention

but to no avail. And I’m not complaining; that’s just how it is some games, and this happened to be one of those games. It was then that Andy had to meet some Yankees representative for something or other. So that would be the last I saw of him that game.

Meanwhile, I saw that Josh Hamilton was crushing baseballs into the bleachers in right field, so I went up there:

81213 From Bleachers

But by that time, the only home run he hit into the bleachers was actually one that went way over my head. I didn’t take a picture (I should have), but if you’ve ever been to or seen Yankee Stadium, the ball almost cleared the bleachers and went into the concourse/walkway behind them.

My next ball came up in the bleachers, though, when a player I later identified as Nick Mardone fielded a ball in front of the Yankee bullpen and saw my Angels gear, he lofted a ball over the screen in front of the bullpen to me:

81213 Ball 3

Well he actually lofted the ball over me, but I managed to scurry over and get it before anyone else could. That would be my third and final ball of BP. After BP I went to the ticket my “guest” for the game treated me to. And by “guest” I mean I told my former religious studies teacher I was in town and asked him if he wanted to catch a game while I was there. He then said yes and bought me a ticket for section 130. If you’ve never been to Yankee Stadium, this was the view from our seats:

81213 View From Seats

I didn’t take a picture of him because I am always nervous about people being okay with their pictures being taken. I almost never initiate a picture of a person I’m meeting for the first time, so if you ever meet me, let me know if you want me to take a picture of/with you for this blog, because I probably won’t otherwise. I also saw Ricardo Marquez in the stands, but we didn’t talk much because I was hosting my guest, and I really wasn’t going to abandon him to talk to even a former MLB Fan Cave Dweller.Besides that, it was just a beautiful day at Yankee Stadium:

81213 Beatiful Day

And a fun day too. (By the way, Trout’s New Jersey following can be seen in the left field bleachers. They’re the sea of red you can see out there.)

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this Game:

81213 Baseballs

Numbers 628-630 for my life:
81213 Sweet Spots

  • 184 Balls in 44 Games= 4.18 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 37,146 Fans=111,438 Competition Factor
  • 106 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 11 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 8 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 91 Balls in 25 Games at Yankee Stadium= 3.64 Balls Per Game
  • 25 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Yankee Stadium
  • 12 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Yankee Stadium
  • Time Spent On Game 3:13-10:56= 7 Hours 43 Minutes

8/7/13 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

With how my schedule was looking for the rest of the year, this was almost definitely looking like it would be my last game at Nationals Park in 2013. And so I was glad to start my day by catching a Nationals BP homer on the fly that also turned out to be a 2010 World Series commemorative baseball:

8713 Ball 1

I don’t know who hit it, but I ran through the middle row of the Red Seat and leaned over seats to catch the ball. It was a fun experience. I then soon after headed over to right field, where I got yet another 2010 World Series commemorative. This one was tossed to me by some Nationals trainer who has been with the team for several years and has tossed me a couple baseballs, but I still don’t know exactly what he does. It seems like the Nationals have a couple guys like that where you don’t know exactly what they do. Anyway, he tossed me another golden ball, so I like him:

8713 Ball 2

I don’t have pictures of my next two baseballs because they were both in the middle of a stretch of action in the Red Seats, and I’m a forgetful idiot who apparently can’t take pictures when things calm down, but here’s how I got both of them:

The first ball was a Dan Uggla home run that he tomahawked (See what I did there?) into the Red Seats. The route to the ball from where I was was clogged up with people, so the best I could do was get behind where the ball was going to land. It then evaded a bunch of gloves, hit off a seat, and bounced up into the air, where I snatched it up. I gave this away to a kid at the front of the section. The second ball came when I went to the corner spot in the Red Seats closest to center field. When Jose Costanza went into center field to field a ball that had gone there, I called out to him by name, and he then turned to me and threw the ball that he had just gotten. It was headed right for me, but the guy standing next to me, who had seen me get a few baseballs reached in front of me and caught the baseball. But you know what? I’m not even mad–nor was I in the moment–because I just moved away from this guy on the next ball Costanza fielded and got him to toss me that one. I then made a point of giving that ball away to the kid who was standing right next to the guy who had reached in front of me.

And then after that, I got a bonus, because Rick Gold came into the section. I asked him if he had snagged any of the Target Field commemorative baseballs, because I desperately wanted to trade someone one of my extra World Series 2010 balls for an extra Target Field ball. But somehow, I didn’t even end up giving him anything, and instead, he gave me this for nothing:

8713 All-Star 2010

Well not really nothing, but really a commemorative to be named later. So if I ever get two or more of a commemorative Rick doesn’t have, I will give him that because he gave me this one. That was very nice of him, and it made me very happy. It almost even made up for the fact that I hadn’t gotten a Target Field ball. (And just to clear things up, I *much* prefer to snag baseballs on my own, but I’m also not above trading commemoratives, because I also don’t go after commemoratives with the vigor that most ballhawks do. I do very much like to get them, but I’ve never asked a player to specifically toss me a commemorative baseball and have never planned a trip because of a commemorative ball. Basically, if a team in a game that I’m going to has a commemorative ball–or several in the case of the Nationals–it’s a bonus to whatever I snag that day.)

The Costanza toss-up would be my last baseball of BP. So afterwards, I went to the Braves bullpen, since there were still a couple baseballs:

8713 Balls in the bullpen

And no surprise, the Nationals groundskeepers cleared out the baseballs when they entered the bullpen. Actually, knowing the Nationals groundskeepers (who are some of, if not THE, worst groundskeeper in terms of tossing up baseballs and leaving them on the field for players to toss them up), it was a bigger surprise that they only collected two of the three baseballs and left the ball I’ve labeled “2″ for the Braves relievers.

The first person who made his way to the bullpen was Brian McCann. I thought I had a pretty good chance of getting him to toss me a ball, but my only worry was someone was going to beat me to it, because McCann would be pretty easy to recognize and ask by name. I didn’t have to worry about it, though, because he stopped short of the bullpen to do his stretches in the outfield. Then came Eddie Perez. I was particularly worried about him, because I had noticed his two daughters had been sitting on top of the Braves bullpen, so I figured the ball would go to them if he picked it up. Thankfully, he stopped to talk with McCann for ages. Then came Alan Butts. He was perfect because even though I wasn’t trying to get a ball from him then, I was the only one who recognized him the previous day and said hi to him. So when he walked past me to get into the bullpen, I asked him if he could toss me that ball. To that he responded, “In a second.” So after getting a variety of his “bullpen catcher” things ready, he went over and tossed me the ball:

8713 Ball 5

As for the game, I had thought of sitting by the dugout for the longest time, but then I realized that despite Nationals Park being the stadium I’ve spent the most games at, I still don’t have a game home run there, so I sat in left field:

8713 View From LF

No home runs came out there, but at the end of the game, I made my way to the far end of the Braves bullpen and got Eddie Perez to toss me a ball (since he had been talking to McCann and hadn’t seen me get the ball from Butts):

8713 Ball 6

I then headed over to say goodbye to an usher I’ve talked to throughout this year, and as my parting gift, I gave him the ball I had just gotten from Perez:

8713 Jan with ball

His name is Jan Pastor, and he’s a really nice usher who works the aisle right next to the MASN booth in the center field plaza. I believe it is section 102-103, but I may be wrong. Anyway, if you’re ever at Nationals Park when I’m not there, say hi to him for me.

I then headed off to take the train, where I had an experience on the Metro that I’ve never had post-Nationals game. It’s usually as packed as it can be with all of the people leaving the Nationals game, but somehow for a full stop after we left Navy Yard-Ballpark, the stop nearest Nationals Park, I was the only one in my subway car:

8713 Empty Subway Car

I mean I’ve been on a ton of empty subway cars before, but they’ve all been at the ends of lines when there aren’t really many people at the stop, and this was at a major stop during one of its more congested hours. Anyway; weird.

STATS:

  • 6 balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 3 away, but then added the one Rick gave me to the picture)

8713 Baseballs

Numbers 622-627 for my “lifetime”:

8713 Logos

  • 181 Balls in 43 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 6 Balls x 29,114 Fans=174,684 Competition Factor
  • 105 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 10 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 7 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 6 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with 5 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with 6 Balls
  • 192 Balls in 42 Games at Nationals Park= 4.57 Balls Per Game
  • 34 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
  • 5 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3-6 Balls at Nationals Park
  • Time Spent On Game 3:27-11:28= 8 Hours 1 Minute

8/6/13 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

So back from Philadelphia and the madness of BallhawkFest, I took a couple days to rest and write. But after that, it was time to go to the second game of the Braves-Nationals series. First, there was a chance of rain, so I went atop the Nationals parking garage to check if the cages were up:

20130816-144354.jpg
Yay, batting practice! I then headed back down to the center field where I met up with two ballhawks I regret not writing more about the past two seasons:

20130816-144717.jpg
That would be Dave Butler and Art (whose last name I don’t know). They are probably the two most “regular” ballhawks at Nationals. Dave pretty much exclusively goes after hit baseballs while Art almost exclusively goes after Nationals toss-ups. They are both very friendly guys, and if you ever see them at Nationals Park, tell them Mateo says hello. Dave can be pretty easily identified by the fact that he always has his Giants hat on, and Art can 95% of the time be found with his sunglasses, Bluetooth, and blue Nationals hat on in the corner spot by the visitor’s bullpen right as the gates open.
Once we got in, I headed for straight-away left, since both Dave and Rick Gold were battling it out in the Red Seats for pitchers BP.
Ironically, my first ball of the day came in the Red Seats when the two of them left for the Nationals’ second group of hitters. Ross Ohlendorf fielded a ball at the wall, and looked up to toss the ball to someone. And when I raised my glove, he flipped me the ball:

8613 Ross Ohlendorf

And then literally *right* after that, I saw a person coming down the grass hill in center field to clear out all of the baseballs that were sitting there. It was so soon after the first ball that I actually had it in my non-glove hand and had to hide it behind my back to get the man to toss me the ball that was on the hill. and I guess I’m more deceptive than I thought, because:

8613 Ball 2

Do you kind of see the logo of the ball? It was a World Series 2010 commemorative ball. I had heard the Nationals were using this and several other types of commemoratives, but this was the first time I had seen any of them in 2013. So since I had snagged two baseballs within a span of ten seconds, I gave the non-commemorative Ohlendorf ball to a kid at the corner of the section.

After that, a Nationals righty smashed a ball that bounced up to the top of the restaurant, where an employee picked the ball up. At that point everyone else pursuing the ball gave up and went back to the bottom of the section. I didn’t understand, though, since it was employee that supposedly had to give the ball away. So I stuck around, stuck up my glove, and got this:

8613 Ball 3

And you see right; that is a Fenway Park 100th year commemorative baseball. It was amazing, but this would sadly be my last commemorative ball of the day.

I then headed over to right field for the third group of Nationals hitters. There I got Taylor Jordan to toss me a ball by being the only one to call him by name:

8613 Ball 4

I then got my fifth ball of the day when the Braves started hitting. I got Craig Kimbrel to toss me a baseball over the Braves bullpen:

8613 Ball 5

And then it was time to have a cup trick party. Now you’re not exactly supposed to, but you can sometimes get away with using a ball retriever in the gap right below the Red Seats. So this being my first time with a reliable retriever in Nationals Park with me having Tim Anderson‘s cup trick in my bag of tricks, I took advantage of it.

I first saw one ball go into the gap on a hit ball, so I got the cup trick out and pulled the ball out from here in the gap:

8613 Ball 6 Diagram

I then gave it away to a kid whose glove the ball had bounced off of. I then got a second ball from the gap soon after that and gave it to a person right next to me on top of where I snagged the ball in the gap. And then I asked him if he could hold the ball out for a picture:

8613 Ball 7

And by then, people realized what I had, and when a ball landed in the gap, people called me over to retrieve the ball for them. I walked over, but as I did, Justin Upton launched a ball right into the row I was walking in, so I ran through the row and caught the ball through several glove screens:

8613 Ball 8

That was my eighth ball. And then when I retrieved the ball and gave it away to the family who dropped the ball, I had my ninth ball of the day:

8613 Ball 9

If you can see the bars below the ball in the picture, the ball was trapped under one of those, so I had to knock it sideways out from under there to retrieve the ball. At this point I was getting nervous because I had now gotten 3 balls via cup trick. So when a guy told me there was another ball in the gap, I just wanted to get my cup trick out quickly, get the ball, and not get seen. But as soon as I pulled the cup trick out of the gap, I sensed someone behind me. It was a security guard who told me he needed me to give him the trick. It was obviously not mine, so I asked if he had a string-cutting device. And when he said no, I tried untying the string, he eventually just gave up and told me that I’m there often enough that I should just not do it again. That was my tenth ball of the day, by the way.

My record for baseballs in a game was 11, so with 10 and there still being about 15 minutes left in batting practice, I thought I had a pretty good opportunity to break it. And this got even better when I picked up a ball that Luis Avilan had overthrown to a kid. I then gave the ball to the kid:

8613 Ball 11 Diagram

I then had a very good chance to break my record, but Avilan’s inaccuracy came back to bite me, and he overthrew me, so this ball would be my last of the day. No, the only thing I would snag from this point on was a piece of gum thrown to me by David Carpenter after I stayed by the bullpen to watch Julio Teheran ( whose name is properly pronounced “Teh-heh-rahn”) warm up:

8613 Gum

I then sat in left field, because I thought it would be great if my record-breaking 12th ball would have come on a home run:

8613 View from LF

It didn’t.

STATS:

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

8613 Baseballs

Numbers 611-621 for my lifetime:

8613 Sweet Spots

  • 175 Balls in 42 Games= 4.17 Balls Per Game
  • 11 Balls x 30,875 Fans=339,625 Competition Factor
  • 104 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 9 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 6 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 5 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with 5 balls
  • 186 Balls in 41 Games at Nationals Park= 4.54 Balls Per Game
  • 33 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
  • 4 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
  • Time Spent On Game 3:21-11:03= 7 Hours 42 Minutes

8/3/13 BallhawkFest

After our adventure the previous night that got us back to Washington past midnight, Chris Hernandez and I got up to get to Philadelphia for BallhawkFest a little later than we wanted to. And so when we should have been playing softball with all of the other BallhawkFest attendees, this was our view:

8313 In Car

But thankfully, this was where we were when it came time for the luncheon at McFadden’s:

8313 Crhis Running

That would be Chris running behind me alongside the stadium. Thankfully we made the luncheon more or less right after everyone else got there. And the best part was even though we were the last ones to get there, we got our food before anyone else. The luncheon would also result in me getting a Minnesota Twins long-sleeve shirt (thank you, Zack), Cardinals mini home plates, and my 2012 Junior Ballhawk of the Year award certificate.

Then it was time to get to the gates. First a couple of us made the trip over there:

8313 At Gates 1

And then a lot more showed up:

8313 At Gates 2

Although at this point, we knew the tarp was on the field, so it wasn’t looking good for us snagging. One person in the foreground of that last picture was particularly vocal about a certain streak ending. It was the calm before the storm, though. We waited and took pictures, but I killed most of my time by playing catch with Tim Cook in the street alongside the gate.

When the gates opened, everyone went in while my anxieties about this game compounded. Todd Cook had bought a ticket for me the night prior, and because I had to essentially get up and head to BallhawkFest, I never printed it out. Now at a bunch of places, you can just scan your phone as long as it has the barcode on it, but I learned that here at CBP, you can’t. So while everyone else was in the stadium for a good five minutes, I was getting a printout of my StubHub ticket:

8313 Ticket

Which was slightly difficult since the ticket was in Todd’s name and not mine. But eventually, I did get int the stadium with everyone else:

8313 In Stadium

When I got in, only two pairs of Braves pitchers were throwing, but I got neither ball. My best shot was to get one from Julio Teheran, but I don’t think he heard me saying that I was a Colombian. My next closest opportunity to getting a ball was when I got David Carpenter to throw me a ball from 100-200 feet away. Unfortunately, though, the ball fell short and he didn’t come to the warning track to pick it up.

If you go back and take a second look at it, you may see something interesting in that last picture. As we waited, the grounds crew came out with the batting cage and screens. So by the time the Phillies came out to throw, the cage was set up and ready to go:

8313 Phillies throwing

But with the abundance of people wearing Phillies red, it came as not surprise to me that I didn’t get a ball. Despite the fact that I saw there was now going to be batting practice, I was still worried as to how many baseballs I could put on the board. Pretty much everyone else had one or two baseballs at this point, and despite a ton of running and changing shirts that I had done up to this point, which I spared you the details of, I was still at zero baseballs. After I left foul ground, I ran into Ben Weil, and his girlfriend Jen. Ben at this point had two baseballs and was leading the pack. Jen, however, said she was rooting for me. And although I didn’t mean to, I kind of scoffed at that because the way things were going, it felt like I would be lucky to get *a* baseball with all of the competition. Let me explain why. Up to that point, I had been absolutely exhausted by the other ballhawks, because usually during a game with no BP, a ballhawk is the only one smart enough to go to place x. Well during this game, by the time I got to place x, there were 5 other people right on my tail. So after they got there, I had to get creative and think of another place where I could possibly get a ball, but with less competition. The cycle then repeated itself. Turns out, though, Jen had more confidence in me than I did.

Soon after I got into the right field seats, a ball was hit and rolled to the wall. Rick Sporcic was also in the right field seats. And although he was occupied with a baseball further towards center field, I hurried up and got my (read: Tim Anderson’s) cup trick out to pick up the ball, because I had heard he was good with his retriever. By the time I had gotten my ball, though, he was still trying to get his from in front of the wall. My guess is the right field wall is much taller than the left field wall in Pittsburgh, so he wasn’t used to it and his retrieving skills were slowed down as a result. Anyway, I didn’t get a picture since I was in a hurry to get the ball, but here’s a picture that’ll show you where I got the ball:

8313 Ball 1 Diagram

The place I took that picture from also happens to be where I got my second ball of the day. I leaned over the wall to see if a ball I had spotted from right field was cup trick-able, and just as I realized it wasn’t, Joe Savery came over to pick up that and another ball. He tossed the ball I was eying to a kid next to me and the other to me:

8313 Ball 2

I know Ben was right next to me, since he also came over to see if he could cup trick the ball, but I don’t think he got a ball tossed up to him then. I actually don’t know if he got another ball for the rest of BP.

After getting that ball, I headed to straight-away left field to try to get a hit ball. It was a zoo:

8313 LF

I mean forget all of the people in general, just look at the ballhawks who were right behind me:

8313 Ballhawks 1 8313 Ballhawks 2

Had I not misjudged several home runs, I could have been up to 4 or 5 baseballs for the day after my time in right field. But instead I spent the rest of my BP getting punked by the Phillie grounds crew chalk dispenser:

8313 Chalk Dispenser

Most teams use a cart-type thing to apply the chalked foul lines, but the Phillies instead use this thing where they pond to red side part with the mallet that is a mini-bat with a baseball at the end to apply the chalked line. Unfortunately, it looked from left field like there was a baseball sitting on the warning track in foul territory. So I ran all the way over to find out that this could in fact not be snagged.

The closest I came to snagging another baseball was when a ball rolled to the wall in left field, I ran over to where it was, and was about to pull out the cup trick when a Phillies player picked the ball up and threw it into the stands.  Little did I know, but had I been a little quicker to the ball, I could have had the outright lead at the end of BallhawkFest.

How did this happen? Well after BP ended, I went to take a group picture in center field:

8313 Group Picture CF

And then wnet behind the dugout. Since this was *Ballhawk*Fest, I expected there to be at least one other person joining me behind the Braves dugout before the game, but they just never came. So when the Braves came out to throw, I was one of the few people in Braves gear behind the dugout. Using this, I first got Chris Johnson to throw me a ball. His throw was a bit high, so it tipped off the top of my glove, bounced in the row behind me, and I had to run for it to just beat out a man who was also going for it. He was so close to it that I gave him the ball. It was only after I took the picture of him that I realized he already had a baseball (D’oh):

8313 Guy I gave Ball 3

So since I had grabbed the ball before I gave it to him, that was ball number 3 for me on the day. Ball number 4 took no time at all after that. I’m not sure if he had seen me miss the Johnson toss-up, but when Justin Upton came in from throwing with his baseball, I screamed his name, and just like Johnson, he scanned the crowd as if searching for a little kid who deserved it more before settling for tossing the baseball to me:
8313 Ball 4

I say I wonder if he saw the Johnson toss-up tip off of my glove, because I his line of sight when he was tossing with his brother BJ was slightly off of me, but it’s possible that he just tossed me the ball to give me a second chance. Oh well; who knows?

Then once the game started, I moved over one staircase to be on the right staircase for a third-out ball. It was after the top of the first inning that I saw Ben come down into that same section, so I moved down to join him. One out later, Jen joined us. So the plan at the third out was all three of us were going to go down for the third-out ball and odds are one of us would get it. Well it turns out it wasn’t just us, but Quinn Imiola (who you may remember from this entry if you’ve been reading the blog for a couple years, and whose birthday it was that day–as was announced by his dad at the luncheon in a hilarious/purely-”dad” way.) had gotten past the guard at the top of the steps right before the third out and also tried for the third-out ball. As it turned out, with all of those people there, Freddie Freeman lofted the ball right to me. As we returned to our seats, where we all went into the same row, we were apparently suspicious-looking enough with the culmination of all four of us going down for the ball and Quinn going back to a different seat than the one he had gotten out of to go for the third-out ball that the usher who had come down from the top of the steps asked to see all of our tickets. Ben and Jen actually had a ticket (it just wasn’t on that aisle), but Quinn and I didn’t have a ticket for the section at all. So the usher kicked Quinn and myself out of the section completely, telling us that he better not see us back there for the rest of the game, and asked Ben and Jen to go to their actual seats in the middle of the row–which Ben had no interest in doing. So as the rest of the group pondered where they would go, I took the picture of the Freeman ball:
8313 Ball 5

The conversation eventually lead to us wandering towards left field, where the other three would eventually sneak down into, and I would continue onto right field, where I actually had a ticket for:

8313 From Right

After a few innings of being there, I got a tweet from Harrison Tishler (who already published an entry about this game/day that you should check out) asking if he could join me. When I said yes, he and his parents were there within half-an-inning:

8313 Tishlers

It was almost as if I was a ballhawk magnet, because after that, the Cooks arrived as well as Quinn and Alan Schuster, the organizer of the whole event and founder/webmaster of mygameballs.com, the site that’s the reason this event even exists:

8313 Alan and Todd 8313 Tishlers, Quinn, and Tim

And soon after that, Zack Hample, Ben Weil, and Chris Hernandez also came to the same section (although the other staircase). I should mention that this was a slow process, though. The game lasted 12 innings, so all of these arrivals weren’t within a half-inning of each other. The highlight of most of this slow-ish game besides talking to all of these fun and cool people I don’t get to see on a regular basis was taking an unintentionally-artsy picture of the scoreboard:

8313 Scoreboard

It was my initial plan to go to the bullpen after the game, but with so many other ballhawks now converged around it, when the Braves scored a run in the top of the 12th, I headed to the Braves dugout. However, as I exited the right field seats, I got a call from Zack. I thought it was weird right away because he rarely calls me outside of a baseball game; much less *during* a game itself. Turns out he had gotten kicked out of the stadium by security because of the escalation of an incident that he had with them after he had caught John Mayberry Jr.’s home run earlier in the game. I feel like I was a bad friend for what I did, but I figured Zack as “king of ballhawks” would understand as I got Ben to call him and handle the situation as I ran to the dugout. I figure Zack would have done the same thing with me. (Aren’t I so good at justifying my actions to myself?)

Quinn also came down to the dugout after the game, and as I went for the umpire ball–where the umpire ended up talking to a family for about ten minutes after the game, and giving them his last extra baseball, Quinn got Craig Kimbrel to toss him the ball he had recorded the save with. Not a bad birthday present, eh? Here he is in his Braves gear with his parents to the right of the frame:

8313 Quinn and Parents

For the record, I know the names of all of the parents, but I don’t know if they want their names out there. I actually met Quinn’s parents the day I met Quinn in South Carolina. Anyway, we were being told to clear out of the section, so that’s why Quinn is a little blurry.

I then got a text from Ben saying to meet outside the third base gate. When we got there we saw Zack, but the group who had stayed in right field were still not there. Eventually they did get there and Zack got to tell the story of his ejection about fifteen times:

8313 Zack Storytelling

After that, the plan was to get a parting group picture. As we set up for that, I got a panoramic picture of all of the ballhawks mingling:

8313 Panorama Ballhawks

And here was the final group picture:

8313 Final Group Picture

In talking to everyone, it turned out that Jeremy Evens (in yellow), the Cooks, and I had all tied for the lead at 5 baseballs a piece. If you remember the first BallhawkFest in 2011, I was tied with Zack for the lead at I believe 7 baseballs. So I have never gone to a BallhawkFest where I didn’t have a share of the lead. And I probably just jinxed any chance of doing so next year’s BallhawkFest.

I then headed off with the Cooks in their car to the 30th Street Station, but not before taking a look at the Veterans Stadium field in the parking lot and getting one last shot of the stadium:

8313 CBP Last Shot 8313 VS Rubber

And so concluded one of the funner days of my life. While I wish I could have made it for the full experience, I had a blast and will be sure to try my hardest to be there for next season’s festivities, wherever it may be. (Insider’s hint: It may be the closest to home a BallhawkFest has ever been for me.) Thank you to everyone who made and keeps making this event what it is. The reason I constantly recommend it to people is because while it may be a tough event snagging-wise, it is a truly unique phenomenon that is something really special as well.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this Game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away. And apparently lost my Phillies hat somewhere along the line as well.)

8313 Baseballs

Numbers 606-610 for my career:

8313 Sweet Spots

  • 164 Balls in 41 Games= 4.00 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 41,161 Fans=205,805 Competition Factor
  • 103 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 5 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 4 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with 5 balls
  • 12 Balls in 3 Games at CBP= 4.00 Balls Per Game
  • 3 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at CBP
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2-5 Balls at CBP
  • Time Spent On Game 10:07-3:25= 17 Hours 18 Minutes
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 431 other followers

%d bloggers like this: