Results tagged ‘ batting practice ’

7/17/12 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

After two games at Yankee Stadium, it was off to the magical land of Nationals Park…where the home team doesn’t hit for whatever weird reason:
20120723-020241.jpgObviously, I tried to get a ball from the Nationals warming up:
but given I go to a bunch of Nationals games, I thought it would be in my best interest to maybe not draw as much attention to myself as I could, so the Nationals wouldn’ty recognize me or potentially recognize me at a later game. Therefore, I didn’t get a ball from them.

I waited and waited. Finally, after what felt like hours, the Mets started hitting. You would think that meant I would get a bunch of baseballs, right? Nope. The Mets aren’t exactly the most powerful lineup. They really didn’t hit anything within fourty feet of me. The only ball I got from Mets batting practice was tossed to me by Chris Young in the Red Seats:
That was it. After Young tossed me the ball, I wanted to just catch a few home runs before I started asking the Mets for more balls. I wanted to set up myself for success the next day. I was thinking, “Hey, if I don’t ask that many Mets today for a ball, I can maybe hit double digits tomorrow.” Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the Mets are power-hitter deficient, so I would end batting practice with one baseball.

With two lefty pitchers- Ross Detweiler and Jonathan Niese- this game, I just sat out in left field pretty much the whole game. I had ushers on both the right field and left field sides who were letting me into their sections, so I made it to right field a few times (or maybe I’m getting this mixed up and I stayed mostly in the right field seats and made it occasionally to the left field seats), but in the dead space between the end of batting practice and the first pitch (usually about 50 minutes from 6:20 to 7:10) I didn’t know this, so I had some time to kill sitting in the left field seats. I filled such time by yelling out the correct answers to people playing trivia games, shown on the jumbotron, since the place they were getting filmed from was only a few feet from me in real life:
If you’re wondering, I got all of the answers right. I can’t remember what the questions were about, but I have also learned a pattern in the correct answers of the Nationals no matter the question being asked.

During the game itself, I saw no action at all. At the end of the game, though, I made my way over to the Mets’ dugout. I asked the umpire for a ball, but got rejected. By the time I got back over to the dugout itself, all of the Mets had entered the dugout from a way-too-drramatic loss. What had happened was: the Nationals had been leading 2-0 pretty much the whole game. Then, in the top of the ninth, Jordan Valdespin hit a three-run home run. It looked like the Mets had just won the game, but the Nationals tied the game in the bottom of the ninth at 3-3. As we headed to extra innings, the Mets scored again, but the Nationals came right back in the bottom of the tenth and scored two runs to win the game 5-4. It was the most back-and -forth game I have ever been to. I ran down the stairs three times to get an umpire ball, since I was convinced the game was over.

Anyway, my last hope was the people coming from the bullpen. When they arrived, I asked bullpen coach, Ricky Bones, for the lineup card. He said no, but reappeared from the dugout right after he went down and tossed me a ball before then proceeding into the clubhouse:
That was it. A long, full day of boringness that I didn’t think was noteworthy enough to include in this entry. That’s why this entry is so short.

STATS:

  • 2 Balls at this game

Numbers 347 and 348 for my “career”:

  • 126 Balls in 27 Games= 4.67 Balls Per Game (9 Balls under 500)
  • 2 Balls x 26, 342 Fans= 52, 684 Competition Factor
  • 36 Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 12 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 99 Balls in 21 Games at Nationals Park= 4.71 Balls Per Game
  • 14 Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
  • 14 Games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
  • Time Spent On Game 3:37- 11:18= 7 Hours 41 Minutes

7/8/12 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

I was back at Nationals Park for my fourth game there in as many days:
If you’re wondering, that’s a look of: “Sure, four games in a row here is nice and all, but am I really doing this?” As I took this picture, the time was approximately 10:00. I saw the schedule and saw a 1:00 game, so I got there half-an-hour before I thought the gates would open (10:30). All I saw when I got to the gates, though, was this:
After looking at the Nationals schedule on my phone, I found out it was actually a 1:35 game. This meant the gates wouldn’t open for another hour. To pass the time, I wrote and published one of my entries, while sitting inside the air-conditioned ticket office.

It was a day game after a 4:00 game, so I thought there might be batting practice, but once I finally DID get in the stadium, this was all the action on the field:
That would be bullpen coach Jim Wright throwing with one of the pitchers. Eventually the pitcher went into the bullpen and so did Wright. When the pitcher finished said session, Wright tossed me a ball out of nowhere. I didn’t even have my glove on when I caught it:
Then everyone exited the bullpen. Everyone except Wright. When he finally did, I had already numbered my ball, so I was worried he would see that, but regardless, I asked Wright if he wanted to play catch. He said he had to go, but that he would play for a couple of minutes. Wright is obviously in the distance, but here’s where each of us were when we threw together:
I was the only one in the seating area at this point, so it was an amazing experience to throw curveballs, among other pitches, to a person on a major league team; albeit not a player, what was seemingly all alone in the stadium (I am 100% sure there were other fans in the stadium, but they were taking shelter from the heat.). Finally, Wright said he had to go, so we stopped playing catch. The reason he “had” to go was the pitchers had come out to stop warming up. Here is Wright with the pitchers:
None of the pitchers had seen me get the ball form Wright, so it would be easy to get a ball from them, but I was nervous about asking them for a ball while Wright was around. After a few minutes, though, Wright headed into the dugout and I got Rex Brothers to toss me a ball by running deep into the section and having him “toss it to me long”:
After this, Rockies and Nationals catch partners alternated coming out. So I ran back and forth trying to get a ball from them. When Brothers and his partner finished up, the Nationals pitchers went through their warm up and were just finishing their throwing session. When they finished, a pair of Rockies had come out and were nearing the end of their throwing. I didn’t get a ball from this, but it was fun doing it. I also wasn’t the only one. After I headed to right field to try to get a ball from the Nationals relievers, I noticed this guy had also come over and had changed gear on his way as well:
I would eventually find out this was Leiming Tang, a Kansas City ballhawk, who was making his rounds of the east coast cities. I believe he had been in Philadelphia the night prior. We would have plenty of time to talk about things as there was no batting practice.

My next ball (number three if you’re keeping track) would come when Wilin Rosario came out to do some catching drills:
20120717-102402.jpg(Notice Leiming was already on the scene. We were both waiting in the shade, but I waited a little longer than he did to stay cool.)He obviously needed a few balls to do the drills, so when he was done, the catching coach, Jerry Weinstein, tossed Leiming and I both a ball:
20120717-102637.jpg My next snag would be at the dugout right before the game. I still don’t know the formal name the Nationals call them, but there were”hype people” on the roof of the dugout with T-Shirts, so I figured I might as well try to snag one. I moved into the emptiest row I could find, but turns out, the shirt came RIGHT to me. All I had to do was lower my glove a little and I caught it:
20120717-103557.jpg It’s actually the shirt I am wearing right as I type this sentence.

As for the game, I spent most of my time out in left field, but I came to the dugout for the end of the game to try to get an umpire ball:
20120717-104202.jpgDid you notice something else about that picture? It was pretty empty at the stadium. In addition to having been high-90s heat, it had started raining. Here’s a look to the seats to my left:
20120717-104525.jpg Leiming had been down by the dugout the whole game and was also going for an umpire ball. Except, unlike me, he was dedicated and prepared for the task:
20120717-104735.jpgLet me remind you it was humid from just having rained, and it was still freakin’ hot, so it wasn’t for the faint of heart to put on an umpire jacket. Not surprisingly, Leiming got a ball and I didn’t.

After pretty much everyone had left our section (lightning and the subsequent thunder had just struck, so it wasn’t that long after the game ended), Leiming and I got an usher to take a picture of us:
20120717-105231.jpgLeiming’s flight back to Kansas City had already been delayed, so we were going to have lunch together at Union Station, but we decided it might not be a good idea given how late the DC trains were running.

So we said our goodbyes, and I headed to Union Station, while he went to the airport to catch his plane to the Home Run Derby.

STATS:
• 3 Balls at this game (pictures taken in my room for freshman orientation in Minnesota)

20120717-110355.jpgNumbers 338-340 for my lifetime:

20120717-110724.jpg• 118 Balls in 24 Games= 4.92 Balls Per Game
• 3 Balls x 25,125 Fans= 75,375 Competition Factor
• 33 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 9 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 97 Balls in 20 Games at Nationals Park= 4.85 Balls Per Game
• 11 straight Games with 1 Ball at Nationals Park
• 11 straight Games with 2 Balls at Nationals Park
• 9 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 9:13 AM- 10:26 PM= 13 Hours 13 Minutes [/spooky]

7/5/12 Giants at Nationals: Nationals Park

Yay for free tickets!

Boo W.B. Mason trucks:
Let me explain myself a little further. The man holding water in the first picture is friend and ballhawk, Rick Gold. Rick works for mlb.com, so he gets into games for free. Not only that, but he can get an extra ticket. Instead of paying my usual $13, Rick hooked me up with a free ticket. Like I’ve mentioned before, there is an usher in right field who lets me sit there every game, so it doesn’t really matter where my ticketed seat is, just as long as I can get in the gates. My thumbs-down to the W.B. Mason truck is because that was the giveaway. Not the actual, giant truck, but here’s the first picture once I got in the gates:
I actually got two of these since Rick’s bag was stuffed and he didn’t want carry it around with him.

I was in left field for this picture and all of pitchers batting practice, but I didn’t get anything until the third group of hitters in right field. The third group is that which contains Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper. One ball, LaRoche hit a bit over my head and to my right. I moved right into the exact spot where the ball was going to land, but for some reason, even though it was going straight towards my glove, the ball tipped off it and I picked it off the ground. I know it may sound shallow and stupid, but I was pretty mad with myself for dropping such an easy ball. Sure I still got it, but I also realize that the ball would have probably been someone else’s had I been in New York. Here is the spot where I dropped/snagged the ball:
I then almost caught what would have been a pretty cool ball. I believe it was LaRoche again, but it might have been Harper. Anyways, one of the two lefties hit a ball I could tell was maybe going to barely make it to the seats. I went all the way down the steps, reached out as far as I could and felt the ball hit my glove. I then had my glove pressed against the wall. I couldn’t tell, but people to my side cheered like I had caught it, so I carefully lifted my glove as to not drop a ball if it was in there, but the ball had probably dropped onto the warning track since it wasn’t in my glove as I dragged it up the wall. Here is the spot I almost caught it in:
I was leaning over the raised part of the glass, so I actually would have probably caught the ball had I went over to the railing and reached over that instead.

After that, there wasn’t much action in right field. The most interesting thing that went on was I got to see Rick using his device in the Red Seats:
I don’t have a picture of it, but it’s a cup trick of sorts. Like one you would see in either Atlanta or in San Francisco.

When I say it wasn’t interesting, that doesn’t mean the players weren’t hitting home runs. It just means those home runs weren’t near me. There were a bunch going into the second and third decks in right field. Those seats were closed until 5:30. So at 5:27, I lined up here expecting a big “payday”:
There were so many balls hit up there in fact, I spent my time waiting trying to figure out how I could keep track of what order I snagged the balls in, expecting to need to use four of my backpack’s pockets. When I got up there, though, there was nothing. The ushers had cleared out all the balls they could find in the seats. That’s the only explanation I have. No one I saw found a ball and there were at least 5 hit in the second deck and two in the third deck. Of course, one in the upper deck had been hit far enough to evade the usher’s sweep of the section. The problem was, myself and the two other fans searching the section had not seen where that ball landed, so it was Rick, after batting practice who found it and kindly (read: cruelly) took a picture for me:
Let’s get back to batting practice, though, shall we? Dejected, I walked over to third base foul ground to try to get a ball from the Giants pitchers warming up:
Like the last game I went to, they didn’t even throw a ball into the crowd while I was there. I then headed over to left field to try to catch a home run from the Giants hitters. I failed at doing this, but I got a ball from Santiago Casilla by the bullpen. At least I think that’s who it was. It was a pitcher, and he’s the person that looks most like the person who tossed me the ball on the Giants roster.

I then went over to the Red Seats where I got Shane Loux to toss me ball. Here’s a diagram of it from a picture I took in right field right after I got the Loux ball:
The black arrow shows where Loux had to move to field the ball, and the orangey arrow is the path of the ball. I then asked who hadn’t gotten a ball. A kid raised his hand, but he didn’t have a glove, so I kept on searching. Usually when this happens and I say why I didn’t give him the ball, the parent(s) react negatively. In this case, though; when I said, “Well, where’s your glove?” the father said, “I told you, you need to have your glove on all the time.” After I gave the ball away to another kid, I talked to the father briefly about experiences sitting in the upper deck with a glove on at all times as a kid.

I then moved over to foul ground to try to get a ball from Barry Zito, since I wasn’t having any luck with hit baseballs:
Of course when I got there, batting practice ended with me at three balls on the game.

I started off the game in right field, where this was my view:
20120708-100045.jpgFor those wondering: yes, that is Rick’s head in front of me in that picture.

Tonight’s game was turn back the clock night. That meant both team’s would have their 1924 uniforms on. It would be the New York Giants versus the Washington Senators:
20120708-100602.jpgIt also meant the stadium’s employees dressed up like it were 1924. Take this picture from the end of batting practice. Can you spot the three different employee outfits?
20120708-100817.jpgI didn’t like my chances of getting anything in right field with Matt Cain on the mound, though. My mom grew up in the bay area, so she was raised a Giant fan. Normally she doesn’t go to games much, but with the Giants in town, she and my step-dad decided to go to the game. I used one of their tickets to move over here:
20120708-101339.jpgWhile I was there, I saw the second coolest sky I’ve ever seen at Nationals Park:
20120708-101550.jpgBy the way, did you notice the “1924″ scoreboard they had going?

Anyway, the Giants got beat by the “Senators” 5-6 in a thriller. The Giants were winning 5-1 in as late as the seventh, I believe, but once Matt Cain came out, the Nationals came back to make the score 5-4. Then they scored 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. The game ended on a tailor-made double play ball that just got botched. After the game, I went to the umpire tunnel, and got Gary Darling to toss me a ball:
20120708-102034.jpg

STATS:
• 4 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave 1 away)
20120708-103745.jpgNumbers 323-326 for my life:
20120708-103827.jpg• 104 Balls in 21 Games= 4.95 Balls Per Game
• 30 straight Games with at least 1Ball
• 6 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 83 Balls in 17 Games at Nationals Park= 4.88 Balls Per Game
• 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
• 6 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
• 4 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 4 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:24- 10:27= 7 Hours 3 Minutes

6/25/12 Indians at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

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

20120625-212712.jpg

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

20120625-213235.jpg
Bleh. It looked like getting number 300 would be a challenge today. I was currently at 296, but getting four baseballs at Yankee Stadium without batting practice isn’t that easy. Heck, getting four while there IS batting practice is no cake walk either.

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

20120625-215250.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATS:

  • 2 Balls at this Game

numbers 297-298 for my career:

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

6/19/12 Braves at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

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

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

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

20120620-132120.jpg

From left to right, that would be:

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

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

20120620-135146.jpg
All of us pretty much made fun of all the ridiculous things on there, but after the fact, I thought, “You know what that’s actually not a bad idea to have all the prohibited stuff on a sign. It’s way better than playing that along with a song on a continuous loop 30 minutes before the gates open.” Are you listening, Mets?

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

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

20120620-140945.jpg

20120620-141415.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

20120621-001243.jpg

20120621-001323.jpg

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

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

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

20120621-004617.jpg

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

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

20120621-005123.jpg
as I talked with the reporter, Matt, and gave him all my contact information for… well who knows what it could turn into.

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

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

20120621-005712.jpg
I guess I’m already accustomed to the notion from reading it on other ballhawks’ blog entries.

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

20120621-005915.jpg

    Stats:

;


• 1 Ball at this game

20120621-010349.jpg
Number 269 for my life:

20120621-010424.jpg
• 46 Balls in 11 Games= 4,18 Balls Per Game
• 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 1 Ball x 41,219 Fans= 41,219 Competition Factor
• 53 Balls in 15 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.53 Balls Per Game
• 15 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1Ball
• Time at Game 4:26-6:17= 1 Hour 51 Minute

6/7/12 Rays at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

Like all those who have seen my 2012 schedule know, I wasn’t supposed to be at this game. Actually, it was the only day from the 5th of June until the 9th of June I *wasn’t* supposed to be at a baseball game, but like those of you who read (watched?) my last entry know, I gave up the opportunities to go to these games in lieu of watching my high school’s baseball team lose (For those who don’t know, I’m the team’s student manager, (I know I haven’t been posting entries very regularly, which is why I’m writing so many “those who…” clauses) and yes, I am still bitter about that fact. (We lost the City Championship game the day after I went to this game I am blogging about (Yay for parenthetical injections!))

Anyway… my crazy ballhawking schedule came as a result of my crazy  Fordham Prep (my high school) baseball schedule. On this particular day, I found out we were practicing at 2:00. This was a perfect time to allow me to go to the game since our practices usually last around 2 hours, Yankee Stadium is 15 minutes from my -now former since I graduated- school, and I like to get to the stadium half-an-hour before the gates open at 5:00.

Due to me rushing for practice, though, I forgot to pack a few things. Here are the two things I had to borrow from players on the team before i headed off to the game:

In my rush to get to practice, I forgot:

  1. A glove- I set it aside, but I think I forgot to put it in my backpack once it came time to leave. The back-up catcher was so nice as to lend me his glove he said he never uses.
  2. Sunglasses- Since Yankee Stadium has a north-easternly orientation, right field is exposed to the setting sun. Since I usually spend a chunk of my time at Yankee Stadium in the right field seats, I need sunglasses to help me from losing hit balls in the sun. For whatever reason, I completely forgot to bring any. The ace of the team’s pitching staff lent me an extra pair of sunglasses. However, of course the entirety of batting practice occurred in overcast, so I never needed the sunglasses anyway.
  3. Food- I rushed out of my apartment and never got anything to eat. It’s safe to say I would have been starving by game time. The same pitcher who lent me the sunglasses also lent me $2, and I bought 2 slices of pizza right near our school on Fordham Road. Yes, $1 pizza slices. Due to this fact, I have probably bought over 50 slices of pizza there over the past two years.
While we’re on the subject of gear, this would also be a landmark game because it would be my last game with the shoes I was currently wearing. Normally, I would have gotten rid of them a long time before, but in the last two years, my previously mentioned high school baseball team had been eliminated in the first round, so I said, “I’ll get new shoes after the season is over.” Well wouldn’t you know it, we advanced all the way to the City Championship. Before the postseason, they were about done, but they got far worse as the postseason wore on. In that time, the soles of my shoes got to this point:
As you can see, I wore completely through to the bottom of the shoe on the left shoe. Here are some pictures of the back of the shoes as well (all of these pictures were taken at Yankee Stadium)
Here’s the right shoe:
 
And if you think that’s bad, here’s the left shoe:
As you can see, the back of the shoe is almost completely split in two. When I walked, I was essentially picking up the shoe with my heel.

This game was probably categorized by the extraordinary amount of ballhawks. As I arrived at Yankee Stadium, I saw Greg Barasch at the gate. Later, Ben Weil joined us in line. There he introduced me/us to two friends of his, both named Matt. They too vied for baseballs during batting practice.

For example, in the opening minutes when there is usually no one in the right field seats, this was the view behind me:

I love the hilarious expressions people make when you catch them off guard. I know, I’m a horrible person, but you probably laughed too, therefore you are too. For the record, Greg is the victim of this picture with the goofy face in the front, and Ben is the one looking off to the side at the top of the staircase.

With the other ballhawks present, I wasn’t able to come close to anything. It got so bad, I decided to move over to left field even though it was mostly left handed hitters up for the Yankees. Long story short, I didn’t get a baseball the entire Yankees batting practice.

My first ball came when the Rays started hitting. I went over into foul ground where the position players were warming up and waved my arms at a Rays player who was finishing up his throwing. I pointed at my Rays attire and he threw me his ball accordingly. I had no clue who this player was, but I made sure to remember his face so I could look him up later on. Before I was able to do this, Greg identified him as Desmond Jennings. I then looked it up on my iPhone, and sure enough, it was him.

I then moved over closer to the foul pole where the pitchers were warming up to try to convince one of them to throw me a ball. Right then, my baseball coach called to let me know a TV network called MSG Varsity needed me to give them stats for the game the next day. Due to this phone call, I had the phone in one hand, the glove in the other, and was trying to convince Matt Moore to throw me a ball all at the same time. I’m pretty sure I yelled out, “Matt!” at one point in the conversation. If all this wasn’t enough, I was also trying to get a picture of Matt Moore while I put our conversation on speaker phone. Here would be that picture with Matt Moore about to throw the ball to me:

My plan was then to go into the outfield seats in left field and catch some hit balls, but the ballhawks I had moved to left field to avoid, had by this time come to right field. The section I was planning to man was thus all congested and I made the decision to go back to right field.

There, I got a ball that was hit after, I’d say, 10 minutes. The ball was hit, deflected off some fan’s glove in front of me, and I then picked it up.

I figured I was going to have to rely on mostly toss-ups, because look who was the player shagging balls in my portion of right field:

That’s right. It was Matt Moore. This meant I didn’t want to ask him or another player for a baseball since he had already personally given me a baseball and would probably recognize me if I asked him a second time, or if he saw me asking another player.

However, two things happened to change my fortunes. The first was Matt Moore shifted over and started patrolling the center field area, and the second is it started raining, which cleared the section up since people ran for shelter. The section prior to the rain was absolutely packed. After the rain, though, it looked like this:

I actually have to give an assist on my next ball to a commenter on Zack Hample’s blog. I don’t know who exactly it was, but somebody suggested to Zack he use the MLB At-Bat app to have the faces of the players at his disposal. I actually thought, “You know what, that is a VERY good idea.” So while I was waiting for the gates to open, I downloaded the app just in case. After Matt Moore left the right field area, some player who didn’t have his number visible came over to the section close to me. I then looked up all the Rays pitchers on my app, and I saw it was Burke Badenhop. I then yelled out, “Burke, can you toss me that ball please?!” He looked up and threw me the ball. I then gave this ball away to a kid I distinctly remember as having red sunglasses on. In fact, he’s in my last “Matt Moore” picture, if you want to get a look at the kid.

Then it really started pouring.  As a result, there was virtually nobody left in the section. One fan though, was actually walking up to the front of the section. As he passed me, I noticed he had a Vietnam Veterans hat on like this one I own:

As is my tradition with all Vietnam Veterans, I went up to get his attention and give him a special greeting. Just as I was about to tap him on the shoulder, a Rays lefty hit a ball that appeared to be going over my head. I ran up a few step, got in line with the ball, and caught it. Immediately upon catching it, two things happened:

1. Batting Practice ended- How cool is it that I literally caught the last ball of batting practice?

2. I handed the ball to the veteran, saying, “Welcome Home” – The reason I said, “Welcome Home” is that this is how Vietnam Veterans greet each other (I know this because my father was a Vietnam Veteran (Yes, both are capitalized)). This is because unlike World War II, there was no mass “return of the troops”. In addition to this, not many people were in favor of the war- for good reason. Therefore, Vietnam Vets were never really welcomed home when they came back, in some cases not even by their own families. For the record, I do *not* support war. I am of the school of thought that says, “support the warrior, not the war.” I don’t want to get too far into that, but I just think violence is dumb and counter-productive. Anyway, here is a picture of the vet with the ball occluded by his torso:

After the veteran thanked me, I headed over to left field to see how the other ballhawks had done. On my way over there, I gave away my third baseball to a kid, who was rather sad it was raining, on the concourse. After I finally got to the left field seats, this was my view:

There, as you can see, I’ve pointed out several people. Here’s who they are:

1. One of the “Matt”s I was introduced to at the gate, specifically, Matt Winters, a ballhawk from the greater LA area who was in the area for a bachelor party in Boston.

2. Mark McConville- He is a ballhawk I know from being at several of the same games as him over the past two years. I didn’t mention him earlier because he showed up after the gates had opened. He was another one of the flood of ballhawks at this game as was:

3. Mark’s friend- I never got a name, but he was with Mark at this game and also tried catching some baseballs.

In that last picture, you can see Matt is looking at something outside the tunnel. That would be the bullpen he is looking into. We all were at one point or another. The reason is, because there were three baseballs in there we were all trying to snag. The first was snagged by Greg, who was behind me. The second, was snagged by a kid in the bleachers. Both his and Greg’s ball were tossed up by I believe a police officer, although I’m not entirely sure, because I was in the tunnel busy being sheltered from the rain. Finally I decided to come out of my den and try to snag the last ball. It was actually a bit hidden, because it was in the box where the bullpen phone is. Mark was going to ask the grounds person, but I managed to get his attention by asking him for a ball in Spanish. He looked around and made a gesture as to say “there are no baseballs left”. I then said, “there’s one over there” pointing to the box. He then went over, picked the ball out, and tossed it to me. Here is the ball:

That would be it for the game snagging-wise.

Really that was it for the entire day. The Rays won the game 7-3. It wasn’t really the Price-Sabathia match-up I imagined. Sabathia struck out a bunch of Rays, but wasn’t on top of his game, and Price left in the fifth inning. I assume it was because of his pitch count, because he hadn’t given up a run.

Before I write in the stats for this game, I should let you know that my last game’s entry now has the stats and pictures, so you can check that out if you haven’t already seen the stats from that game. Now, without further adieu, are the stats from THIS game.

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this Game (3 pictured, because I gave 3 away)

numbers 259-264 for my life:

  • 42 Balls in 9 Games this season= 4.67 Balls Per Game
  • 18 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 9 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 9 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 6 Balls x 39,891 Fans= 239,346 Competition Factor
  • 52 Balls in 14 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.71 Balls Per Game
  • 14 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
  • 6 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
  • 6 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 3 Balls
  • Time at Game 4:40- 11:17= 6 Hours 37 Minutes

4/19/12 Twins at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

There are truly not many match-ups that I am more excited to see, except for maybe the teams ordered vice-versa in their presentation, i.e. the Twins being the home team:

Who cares what I do in bp? The game itself is great because my two favorite teams are playing. [Let me just clarify that Twins-Yankees is my favorite match-up that I have *attended*. There are other match-ups that in my head seem better to watch, but I haven't seen those teams play live before.] That said, lettuce explore what happened in bp, shall we?

Like I usually do, I started in RF.  Here is a map of the four balls I had a reasonable shot at snagging while in those seats:

1. Some lefty hit a ball to my left (right in the picture). It landed and I beat out a guy for the ball. I felt like I kind of squeezed by him into the row where the ball landed and he would  have gotten the ball had I not, so I ended up giving him the ball. Here is a picture with an arrow showing where the ball hit from where I was standing when I was in RF:

2. I believe I was on my way back to my usual spot from chasing a ball close to the “1″ spot in the picture…anyway, I ran to my right (left in the picture) and was tracking a HR ball. (When I say HR ball, that does not mean it was during the game. A HR, when refered to on this blog just means a ball that clears the fence on the fly, batting practice or otherwise. I wanted to clarify this since I know I was confused by it when I started reading ballhawk blogs.) I was tracking and drifting towards the ball. Suddenly, I saw a person coming from my right corner of my eye. I slowed down as to not reach in front of this person, hoping he/she dropped the ball. Since I was wearing peripheral vision impairing sunglasses, I couldn’t identify the person without taking my eye off the baseball mid-flight. The person caught the ball, and I looked over to see the glove belonged to Zack Hample.

3. Once again a lefty hit a ball to my right and over my head a bit. I ran over, and as everyone was converging, the ball plopped down into the seats. The Field Level seats at Yankees Stadium are all padded, so the ball often sticks there. Such was the case in this situation. After everyone in pursuit realized it wasn’t bouncing anywhere, we all started searching for it in and beneath the seats. For some reason, everyone else was just looking for it. I myself, meanwhile, was smacking the seats down to reveal the baseball if it had indeed stuck within one of the seats. After about the third seat that I hit, I saw the baseball wedged perfectly in between two parts of the seat’s metal skeleton and picked it up. Here is a picture from where I started running after the ball with an arrow showing where it landed:

4. A ball was hit to the wall in RF and Liam Hendricks went to retrieve it. I went down to try to convince him to toss me the ball. This request worked as he looked right at me and underhanded the ball. It was headed right to me, but just as the ball was arriving, a kid reached in front of me and caught the ball. Here is a picture of the kid and location. I was standing immediately to the right of where he is in the picture:

5. The same beginning as chance #4, but this time Jeff Gray went to retrieve it. As was my ritual in these situations, I went down to the wall and asked him nicely for the ball. When I do these things, I’m sure to look right at the player I’m trying to convince. Just as he tossed the ball to another fan, I heard a “ping” right behind me. I had been hearing from al the people in the RF seats how Denard Span had only hit 5 balls out of the infield in the last batting practice-or something like that-, and as a result, I didn’t think he would hit anything out, but evidently, he got hold of one ball and it hit literally RIGHT behind me. Here are two pictures. The first is where I was standing, the second is where the ball hit (both taken from the same location):

That’s it for my adventures in RF. I did, however, take an excursion to LF between chances 3 and 4. While there, I only had one “real” chance at a ball and capitalized on it. Here is where this occurred:

The larger arrow is where the ball landed and I snagged the ball. The smaller arrow to the left of that is the lady (occluded by her husband) who I gave the ball away to since she was hot in pursuit as well.

That would prove to be the last ball of the day for me. The biggest reason was: I couldn’t tell who anyone was on the Twins. As a product of this, I couldn’t call them by their first names and it was less likely that they would throw me any given ball. You may be thinking “But Mateo, you have a roster of the players, how can you not tell who is who?” To this I offer the response, can *you* name two of the players in this next picture? I had a roster with the pictures of the players and could only name one.:

I realize that the question I ask was semi-rhetorical, but if you did take it as a challenge, I don’t know the name of the player walking in the top right part of the picture, but the names of the other three (going left to right) are:

1. Matt Maloney

2. Jared Burton

3. Nick Blackburn

After batting practice was over, I headed up to my assigned seat in the LF bleachers. There I eyed the five balls that were just laying in the Twins’ bullpen. At this point, I was thinking, “I’m the only one with Twins gear in the entire region surrounding the bullpen, if more than one Twin picks up all the balls.” Silly Mateo, ideas like this are for stadiums that aren’t in New York. What happened instead was that this guy picked up all the balls and threw them all to people with Yankee gear on:

I then had nothing else to do, so I watched Anthony Swajgagjsioetioak (Swarzak), the Twins starting pitcher, warm up from the bleachers:

Then I realized where I was standing. I was pretty much in THE spot where Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th career hit. Due to this, I felt the obligation to take a picture of the field from there:

As for the game, it started VERY well, with the Twins scoring four runs before the Yankees even got to bat. That was more than I had seen them score in TWO GAMES in Baltimore! I was pretty comfortable thinking that the Twins would win the first game against the Yankees that I was in attendance for since Johan Santana was pitching for them. Not only this, but a win in this game would also give the Twins a win in a four game series against the Yankees. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened for at least a decade, if not more.  After the first inning was over, though, the Twins only lead the game by one run:

The Yankees would go on two win the game 7-6. The story of the day, however, was Curtis Granderson. Just look at what the scoreboard said when he came up in the sixth inning:

That’s right. He had three HRs in his first three at-bats, and would go on to go five for five on the day, tacking on two singles.

What was I doing during the game? At school I made a little sign for the game. Here is what I looked like for most of the game:

For those who don’t know, Bert Blyleven is the one of the Twins announcers and  it is common for him to circle fans in the stands. I don’t know when it began, but since he started, it is customary that Twins fans bring “Circle Me Bert” signs to the ballpark in hopes of having him circle them using his telestrator. The phenomenon has grown big enough that it has its own website. Here is a semi-clearer picture of the sign while it was off my head:

I have no idea if I was circled or not, but it was fun looking like an idiot for a game and explaining to half of the people in the LF bleachers what “Circle Me Bert” meant and who “Bert” was. Oh, and as I was writing this entry Zack (as in the Hample one I mention earlier) published his entry about this game, so here is the link to it.

STATS:

  • 3 balls this game (1 here in a picture that I took in Homeroom, because I would later give that away to my baseball coach)

which put me up to 234 career baseballs (this particular ball is #233, but you can’t see my writing on the ball due to the lighting):

  • 12 balls this year in 3 games= 4 Balls Per Game.
  • 12 straight games with at least 1 ball.
  • 3 straight games with at least 3 baseballs.
  • 3 balls* 40,237 fans= 120,981 Competition Factor
  • 26 Balls obtained in 9 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 2.89 Balls Per Game
  • Time at Game 4: 21- 10:33= 6 hours 12 minutes
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