Results tagged ‘ game ’

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

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

9713 Opneing Picture

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

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

9713 From LF

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

9713 Ball 1

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

Then, all too soon, this happened:

9713 Empty field

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

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

9713 Ball 2

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

9713 Ball 3 Picture

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

9713 Ball 4

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

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

9713 Softball

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

9713 TC Ball

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

9713 Grasshopper

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

9713 Leaving as others enter

STATS:

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

9713 Balls

Numbers 690-693 for my career:

9713 Sweet Spots

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

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

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

9613 Jonathan and Mateo

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

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

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

9613 Mateo in LF

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

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

9613 Mateo in Foul Ground

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

9613 Player

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

9613 Jonathan ball

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

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

9713 Baseballs 2-5

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

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

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

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

9613 Ball 5 happening

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

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

9613 Mateo Running

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

9613 Mateo Leaning over

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

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

9613 Mateo Tracking

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

9613 Mateo Reaching

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

9613 Trapping Ball

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

9613 Jeffress Path

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

9613 Ball 8 Diagram

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

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

9613 Jonathan at bullpens

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

9613 Ball 9

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

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

9613 View from RF

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

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

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

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

9613 Mateo at Tunnel

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

9613 Asking For Umpire Ball

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

9613 Ball 10

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

9613 Ball 10 at the Bus Stop

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

STATS:

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

9613 Baseballs

Numbers 680-689 for my lifetime:

9613 Sweet Spots

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

 

8/20/13 Rays at Orioles: Camden Yards

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

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

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

82013 Ball 1

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

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

82013 Ball 2

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

82013 Ball 3

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

82013 Ball 4 Guy

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

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

82013 Ball 5

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

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

82013 Ball 6

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

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

82013 Ball 7 Kid

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

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

82013 Ball 8

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

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

82013 Ball 9 Diagram

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

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

82013 Ball 10 Kid

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

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

82013 Alex Giving Away Baseball

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

STATS:

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

82013 Baseballs

Numbers 665-674 for my “career”:

82013 Sweet Spots

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

8/17/13 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

6/21/13 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

A second day at Nationals Park, but this time with more batting practice:

62113 Opening Picture

Normally I go to straight-away left field for pitcher’s BP, (the first group of hitters) but my neighbor Greg Barasch was here for this game, so I gave him left field and I went to the Red Seats. I actually don’t think either of us got a ball during that first group, but I got one in the second group when a Nationals righty hit a ball to my right. A kid in front of me camped right under it, but the ball bounced off his glove, hit a seat, bounced up into the air, and I caught it:

62113 Ball 1

It was almost the exact same as the second ball I had snagged the day before, but the only difference is the kid was prepared and the guy whose hands it bounced through through the day before didn’t have a glove.

My next ball came when I got Ian Krol to toss me a ball (By pretty much being the only one who knew his name):

62113 Ball 2 Diagram

And as quickly as Krol had tossed me the ball, I gave it away to a kid who had been next to the man in the white shirt, and had been trying to get Gio Gonzalez’s attention from 50 feet away to get him to toss a baseball. (It should be noted that while he did succeed in getting Gonzalez’s attention, he failed to get the ball since Gio was playing catch with a person who was along the right field foul line and we were in center field.)

My third ball of the day came when Craig Stammen fielded a ball near the wall. No one asked for it, but I was pointing at a kid to my right so Stammen could throw him the ball. There was a kid between us, though. I think Stammen thought I was pointing at the kid between us, but I knew he had already gotten a ball–he was actually holding it in his non-glove hand when Stammen released the ball. So when Stammen threw the ball about half-way between myself and this kid, I grabbed the ball:

62113 Ball 3 diagram

I then gave the ball to the kid who I had actually been pointing to (in the orange). I really hope Stammen saw me give the ball away, because otherwise he might think I’m the biggest douchebag in history for pointing him towards a toss-up target only to reach in front of him to get the ball. After this, the most interesting thing I saw during Nationals BP was one woman’s cup trick:

62113 Improv cup trick

Apparently, she had seen Rick Gold using his cup trick last year, and so she figured out a way to make one of her own using a tennis ball container and some sort of putty. And unlike most imitation retrieval devices I’ve seen made by non-ballhawks, it actually worked. She had already reeled in two baseballs by the time I noticed her with it.

When the Rockies started hitting, I once again headed into foul ground, and once again got shutout there. So I headed out to right field after that. There I managed to catch a Todd Helton home run on the fly right about here:

62113 View for ball 4

I then gave the ball away to a girl who had not yet gotten a ball. That marked the third straight ball I had snagged that I gave away. That made it 75% of my baseballs I had snagged this game that I gave away.

Carlos Gonzalez hit the next ball I snagged. I had just ran to my left in pursuit of another home run of his when he hit a ball back to my right. I ran at where I saw it landing, and when it finally did touch down, I scooped it while on the run for my fifth ball of the day. That was it for batting practice. I could have maybe had a couple other Rockies home runs, but bounces didn’t go my way and things of that nature, so my sixth and final ball came when I went to the Rockies bullpen in search of a Rockies commemorative baseball and I got Jerry Weinstein to toss me a baseball:

62113 Ball 6

Actually, though, that’s not fair. This baseball took absolutely no skill on my part. I was actually avoiding asking Weinstein for a ball from distance because he had tossed me one the day prior, but he spotted me in my Rockies gear, waved to me, and tossed me the ball.

This was my view once again for the game:

62113 View for game

My goal was to get a commemorative baseball from Bo McLaughlin at the bullpen after the game, but unfortunately he ignored me for the second straight day. And no one hit any home runs to left field, but trust me, I would have been ready had they done so:

62113 Two Glovez

Believe it or not, I actually had two gloves packed both Rockies games because I knew there were going to be people I knew at the gates, so I didn’t want to play catch with them left handed. It wasn’t until this game that I realized I could wear both gloves during the game. MANY people–upon hearing/realizing that I have both a right-handed and left-handed glove–have suggested to me that I just put a glove on both hands, but the problem with doing this during batting practice is I need a free hand for things such as labeling the baseballs I snag, taking pictures, and taking notes about the baseballs I snag. However, during the game I don’t have to do any of those things. So with the two gloves already in my backpack, I figured, “Why not?” and had them both ready. But for the record, it’s not something I plan to make a habit of.

But anyway, with me not snagging a Rockies commemorative ball, I’ll probably have two more opportunities to snag one when the Rockies visit the Orioles in August. I’m a little nervous, but who doesn’t like a little two-month-long cliffhanger? Oh yeah, everybody. But I guess I also I have no other option besides revisiting Citi Field when the Rockies visit it a few days before that.

STATS:

  • 6 Baseballs at this Game (3 pictured because I gave the other half away)

62113 Baseballs

Numbers 566-571:

62113 Sweet Spots

  • 125 Balls in 30 Games= 4.17 Balls Per Game
  • 6 Balls x 34,917 Fans=209,502 Competition Factor
  • 92 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 158 Balls in 34 Games at Nationals Park= 4.65 Balls Per Game
  • 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
  • 10 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
  • 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
  • 6 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 4 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 2:58-11:47= 8 Hours 49 Minutes

6/11/13 Angels at Orioles: Camden Yards

Welcome to the entry of quite possibly my worst batting practice performance ever. So I’ll try to keep this entry brief and not make something out of nothing.

When I arrived from Alex Kopp‘s house where I had spent the night, there was already a couple people in line, but thanks to cool people I knew like Tim Anderson and Rick Gold being at the front of the line, I also got to be at the front of the line. As a result of me being essentially the first one in the gates, I found two easter eggs in left field, and actually probably should have gotten three or four, but when I got in, a person cleaning in the seats asked me if I wanted to come and get a ball with him in first base foul ground. I probably should have told him no, but I figured that if I could get an extra baseball out of it, my journey would be worth it. 

Well when we got over there, someone had already gotten the baseball and I saw ballhawks pick up two easter eggs in the time that I stopped and talked to this guy that I probably would have otherwise had. But anyway, when I had my two baseballs to start the day, I was thinking about big numbers for this game. I would then go on to not snag a ball fro the rest of batting practice–hence the lack of pictures from this game. It didn’t look like it was going to be that tough a day either. This was the view of the seats in left field when I got back after making the journey for the potential third easter egg, which besides having Alex and Tim in it, didn’t look that bad:

61113 View to my left

And it wasn’t just me either. Between myself, Alex, Tim, and Rick, we combined for a total of two hit baseballs snagged during BP and no toss-ups. It was just for whatever reason a tough BP. I almost got a ball from Dane De La Rosa, but when he asked me if I had already gotten a ball that day, I replied honestly and said yes. He then kept looking for someone to give the ball to before tossing it back into the ball bucket in center field. I’m thinking I should have replied with a clever response that reflected the fact that I still hadn’t gotten a ball during BP yet, but his question caught me so off-guard that I couldn’t think of anything besides just telling him what he wanted to hear.

After batting practice, I saw a ball inside of where the grounds crew stays during the games, below the right-center field seats, so I camped out there hoping to ask whoever entered there first for the ball. I didn’t take a picture in my time there, but I found out that someone else did while exploring the hashtag “opacy” on Instagram, so here I am waiting right above the spot where the ball was for someone to retrieve it:

61113 Me waiting for ball

I waited there for a solid half-hour as the grounds crew people were just starting to fix up the field post-batting practice when I got there. I watched and got ready every time a groundskeeper crossed in front of me on the warning track, bu none ever actually went inside the gate. Then, a couple people who I didn’t recognize as members of the grounds crew passed by me and into the gate. I was so surprised that they would be entering the area that I didn’t even ask them to go get the ball. What I did do was sit on the edge of my seat and be prepared for when one of them would come back out. When one of the guys came back out, I immediately saw that he had the ball in his hand and asked him before anyone else could get to him. He then tossed it to me for my third and final ball of the day:

61113 Ball 3

I would then give that ball away to an usher at the top of the section and instructed him to give it away to the first kid with a glove he saw. I like to do this because it’s a win-win for myself and the usher. I get to show the usher that I am human and like to see kids go home happy with a baseball, and it lets the usher look like the hero for being the one to give the baseball to the kid and see his/her face light up when he/she gets the ball.

And that was it. I wouldn’t snag another ball for the rest of the game. I would sit out in the flag court pretty much the whole game with Alex and Tim–who managed to get a Mike Trout home run ball tossed up to him–but nothing would be hit up there.

STATS:

  • 3 Baseballs at this Game

61113 Baseballs

Numbers 559-561 for my career:

61113 Sweet Spots

  • 115 Balls in 28 Games= 4.11 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Ball x 22,834 Fans=68,502 Competition Factor
  • 90 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 50 Balls in 13 Games at OPACY= 3.85 Balls Per Game
  • 13 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 4:08-10:39= 6 Hours 31 Minute

6/6/13 Mets at Nationals: Nationals Park

I didn’t know it by how it looked when I left to go to this game, but it would be defined by rain. There wouldn’t be any rain when I got there, but the Nationals still didn’t take any BP:

6613 No BP

So I just sat around and talked to an usher I know in right field and a ballhawk out there until the Mets started hitting. Then David Wright hit a ball that bounced off the warning track. It then hit off a chair in the Red Seats–where I was standing when it came time for the Mets to hit, if you didn’t catch that–and bounced right to my glove. It was one of those times where really the ball caught me. Anyway, here’s my view of the field when the Mets started hitting:

6613 View from the Red Seats

The ball bounced pretty much between the two guys in red.

And then I got Collin McHugh to toss me a ball that I then immediately gave away to a kid to my left:

6613 McHugh

(Not the one who is in the last picture, but more on him later.) The next ball I got actually left me mad. I ran into a row as I tracked a Justin Turner home run and watched as the ball flew over my head. Thankfully there wasn’t anyone behind me and I could go and pick the ball up:

6613 Ball 2

I then caught a Marlon Byrd home run on the fly, which I’m actually pretty proud of; not because I tracked the ball and made a leaping catch or anything like that, but because right as the ball was coming, a kid in the first row threw his glove in the air, which blocked my view of the ball, but I still got it:

6613 Ball 3

And I then gave it to a kid to my left:

6613 Kid I gave ball 4

The arrow closest to the field is the kid I gave the ball away to and the second arrow is the kid who threw his glove in the air. And during that same hitting group, it started pouring. And with that, the Mets ran in and batting practice was over:

6613 Cage going off

So in watching a grand total of two groups of BP–roughly an eighth of a total BP– I had snagged four baseballs, which is frustrating because I can only think of how good the numbers I could have put up could have been if I would have had a full BP.

I rushed to the Mets dugout when they first ended BP, but I was too late to get a ball from them. So as the game looked like it was going to be delayed, I walked up to talk to some ushers I knew from last season behind the Mets dugout. I was just planning on saying hi to them and moving on, but I ended up talking to them for a good hour until the game was officially called. Yep, that’s right. The game was postponed after what I would say was an hour+ rain delay. They probably would have called it sooner, but teams like to wait a while longer than they actually need in order for people to buy more things at the concession stands. But anyway, after watching the first few picks of the MLB draft on the big screen, this flashed up there:

6613 Big board

And at that point I headed through the seats towards the outfield, where I planned to exit. I would have exited through the concourse, but it was a) Packed with people who had retreated up there to get away from the rain, and b) I wanted to see if anyone left their tickets in the stands, so I could possibly have an essentially free ticket to a future game. On my way out, though, I ran into an usher who knows me because he was the one who saw my ear bleeding in my first game back here this season, so talked with him for a couple minutes on what I believed to be was my way out of the stadium. In the  time I was talking with him, though, I saw two Mets players coming out to throw just beyond the tarp, so when I was done talking with the usher, I headed back towards foul ground instead of taking off:

6613 Foul Ground

Okay, so the person throwing closest to me I could tell was Ricky Bones, but I couldn’t tell who the far thrower was, but I figured he was an actual player on the Mets, since two coaches probably wouldn’t come out to throw in the rain. The reason I was so far back is that I could tell the ushers at the top of the staircases were being instructed to keep all the fans at the top of the section. That meant that if I would have a very short window of opportunity at the bottom of the section before an usher would come down and tell me to leave. So as the far player started to inch in, and I could tell the catch session was coming to a close, I ran down to the bottom of the steps. Fifteen seconds into me being down there, the security guard on the field closest to the tarp in that last picture told me to go up. I asked him “I can’t even stay for a couple seconds to get this ball from them?” To which he responded, “No; you gotta go up.”

So I did technically obey his command, but as I sensed the players were done throwing, I first yelled out a request for the ball to Ricky Bones, but the two talked for a couple seconds. So I very slowly backed up the stairs; no doubt angering the security guard who had told me to go up. When the two Mets headed back towards the dugout, the other Mets–who I could now tell was Shawn Marcum–had the ball, so I waved my arms at him from now at least twenty rows deep into the section, and he launched me the ball for now my fifth on the day:

6613 Ball 5

And while I was pretty excited about the ball myself when I got it, I heard a cheer erupt in what I thought was my head when I got the ball, but I turned around to see there  was a full section of fans who had been watching the whole thing play out. It was the second loudest cheer I’ve ever gotten for a ball next to glove tricking a ball from the second deck of Miller Park. And with that, my day of ballhawking ended on five baseballs and I finally headed off home a little earlier than normal still.

STATS:

  • 5 Baseballs at this Game (3 pictured because I gave 2 away)

6613 Baseballs

Numbers 552-556:

6613 Sweet Spots

  • 110 Balls in 25 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Ball x 36,000 Fans=180,000 Competition Factor
  • 88 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 148 Balls in 32 Games at Nationals Park= 4.63 Balls Per Game
  • 24 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
  • 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 4-5 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 3:18-8:55= 5 Hours 37 Minutes

5/25/13 Braves at Mets: Citi Field

So after the adventure I had gone through the previous game, and the state I awoke in, I feel as though I shouldn’t have been in the mood to go back to Citi Field any time soon, but so I did. I woke up at about 11:00 in the morning, and since the Mets had announced when the game was postponed that the gates would be opening at 4:10 and trains/buses run less regularly on the weekends, I almost immediately headed up to the apartment of a friend I was staying with this week in the Bronx, showered, got changed in to clothes that were more suited for the 50-degree temperatures, took all of the stuff I didn’t need in my backpack out, and headed off to Citi Field.

The way this game would work is the resumption of the previous night’s game would begin at 6:10 and the regularly-scheduled game would start soon after that. People who had tickets could exchange them at the box office for tickets that were that same dollar amount or lower. But since I was hopefully not going to be back at Citi Field after Sunday’s game (this entry you’re reading about is of a Saturday) and I had picked up a collective three ticket stubs the game before, I exchanged them in the following way: Two tickets for this game and one for the Sunday game:

52513 Opening Picture

The two tickets for this day’s game were behind the third base dugout and in left field, and the Sunday ticket was for further down the third base foul line. I figured that I would want more flexibility for this day’s game, and the next day’s game I already knew would be full of ballhawks, so I wanted to stay away from behind the dugouts and left field, which are the two most popular spots for ballhawks during the games at Citi Field. Also, it was John Franco bobblehead day, which Ben Weil was coming to specifically for the bobbleheads, so having two tickets to this game would enable him to get an extra bobblehead. (Even if I was stupid and gave him the ticket I already scanned to get in.)

I learned when I got to the stadium, though, that the bad-phrasing Mets had changed the gate opening time from 4:10 to 5:10 somewhere between me sleeping on a fleece and getting to the game, so I now had to wait for another hour, and it would also be another hour that I wouldn’t have inside the stadium I wasn’t worried about my streak because I would have 10+ innings with a dugout seat, but it was just annoying to know that I rushed to the game when I could have been relaxing on an actual bed for that extra hour. The Mets actually then changed that *while* I was waiting at the gate and made the new opening time 4:45. Unfortunately, when I got in, there was still a whole lot of nothing going on:

52513 Nothing going on

Since there was nothing of the players going on, I went and saw some other interesting things going on in the stadium:

1.

52513 Tarp cover thingy

The groundscrew put the thing that covers the tarp in the stands down the third base line.

2.

52513 Ladder

Mets employees for whatever reason had a ladder going from the second to the third deck in left field.

3.

52513 Winning Seat

The random “lucky seat”s that the Mets have throughout the stadium in section 123 was two seats from my ticketed seat in that section, which was seat 4 in that same row.

I quickly got bored with these things, so I took a peek inside the dugout:

52513 View in the dugout

When I didn’t see anything going on in there, I decided to take pictures of the top of the visitor’s dugout:

52513 Dugout 1 52513 Dugout 2

Like I said, I was bored.

At around 5:15, Ben arrived in the stadium, so I talked to him briefly but then quickly became designated bag carrier as he made several trips in and out of the stadium to get the extra bobbleheads. At the end of his many trips, he had a ton of bobbleheads. I think he said he had gotten ten by the time he was done. I mean here are just a little over half of the bobbleheads:

52513 Bobbleheads

Normally Ben only gets two of a bobblehead; three if he really likes the player. But in this case, he came across some extra tickets that came without people wanting the bobblehead, so Ben ended up keeping seven of the ten bobbleheads for himself.

When it came time for the first game, here was my view of the action:

52513 View for the game

See the only kid in the picture on the seat all the way to the right? His name is Harrison, and he approached me during this game and asked me if I went for baseballs often. Through our talking, he remembered that he had actually first talked to me over a year ago at this game (I apologize in advance for the awful writing) and I remembered that he was the one who had taken the picture of me in my poncho outside the rotunda in the entry before this one. It turns out he is an autograph collector who has gotten 1,000+ autographs at games, and usually sits in the seats you see him in, which is how he has seen ballhawks a lot before. I ended up talking with him and some guys who arrived in the second game for the majority of the game.

In the first inning of the game (or the ninth inning, if you will) the Mets struck out to end the inning, and although I was on the outfield end of the dugout, the stands were empty enough for the resumption game that there was an empty row of seats that I managed to get to the home plate end of the dugout through, and so I got Brian McCann to toss me a ball. On my way back to my seat on the outfield end, I saw a kid with Braves gear, so I gave the ball to him.

When the first game ended, I stupidly forgot for a couple seconds that the umpires would be exiting the field, and this hesitation may have cost me a ball as I was out of position at the umpire tunnel and didn’t get a ball from the home plate umpire. The time between the games wasn’t all bad, though. It was in this time that I had pre-arranged a meet-up with fellow MLBlogger, Bryan Mapes of the popular blog, Three Up, Three Down. He was in the club level of Citi Field, but came down to meet me in the concourse of the field level:

52513 Bryan Mapes and Mateo Fischer

Despite having conversed many times over Twitter and our respective blogs, this was the first time we had ever met in person. So there’s that.

I then headed back to my seat where I enjoyed the same view–except darker–for the rest of the night despite not snagging another ball:

52513 Dugout view 1 52513 Dugout view 2

And so that was it. The Mets lost both games, which made Bryan, a Braves fan, very happy, but I pretty much just sat, enjoyed the games, and got to cross another thing off my baseball bucket list. Even if I probably never would have thought to put this exact scenario on my bucket list ever.

The Mets even had the firework that were supposed to go off the previous day go off in honor of my 1-ball performance:

52513 Fireworks

I would go back to the Bronx knowing that the next day would be just another day back at the ballpark, but with a lot more batting practice and ballhawks than I had been seeing the past two days. And I would have one mission: snag two baseballs to get to 100 all-time at Citi Field.

STATS:

  • 1 Ball at this game (not pictured because I gave it away
  • Number 524 for my “career”
  • 78 Balls in 18 Games= 4.33 Balls Per Game
  • 1 Ball x 27,622 Fans= 27,622 Competition Factor
  • 80 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 98 Balls in 37 Games at Citi Field= 2.69 Balls Per Game
  • 37 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
  • Time Spent On Game 12:02-11:49= 11 Hours 47 Minutes

5/21/13 Reds at Mets: Citi Field

It was my second of what would be five games this week, and my highest ball total of any of them. As many or more than any three of the other four games combined. So let’s get started. Here was my view of the field for most of the game:

52113 Opening Picture

To the left is a ballhawk named Dylan, and to the right is my–well I guess at this point former–next-door neighbor, Greg Barasch. Where I was standing usually wouldn’t be a good spot to stand at all, but this was the view of the spot staircase to my right:

52113 View to my right

That wasn’t more congested at the moment, but I knew that that staircase is the first one to get clogged up with people and that I was best securing my spot on this staircase. I could have gone to the front spot of the staircase to my left:

52113 Ben on staircase

But Ben Weil–in the orange shirt–was in that spot., and playing behind that spot is essentially worthless because it’s already a shot just to get it there. My first ball of the day, though came from about the spot where the person is leaning over the railing in that last picture. A ball got hit onto the party deck and so I headed over there and asked the employee down there if he could toss me the ball, which he did:

52113 Ball 1

Next up for me was heading out to right field. There I managed to get Collin McHugh to toss me a ball by actually asking nicely:

20130601-202132.jpg
As opposed to everyone else who was just shouting, “HERE!!!”
So since I had gotten baseballs from both left and right field, I headed out to center field to keep the symmetry. In center I got Greg Burke to toss me a ball that almost made me fall into the gap in front of the wall:

20130601-202608.jpg
He then congratulated me on making the catch, and I headed back to my spot in left field. By this time Dylan had roamed closer to Ben. So when Greg moved out of his spot to maybe try to get a toss-up by the staircase to our right, it was a no-brainer to move up to his spot if only momentarily. A moment was all I needed. As he got to the other staircase, a Reds righty we later figured out was Zack Cozart hit a ball to the section right between us two. I tracked the ball all the way off the bat an had it lined up perfectly. The only question was—since Greg had gone in the row below me and was also running at the ball—was if Greg could catch up to the ball before it landed in my glove. It was close. Let me put I this way: I didn’t even know I had the ball until I looked in my glove. That’s because Greg and another person blocked my view of the field right as the ball entered my glove. I want to say that Greg and the other person collided, but all was good in the end. I just know that way too many people congratulated me for what was not really an amazing catch.

A good amount of time passed between this and my next snag, which was a toss-up from a player I believe was Sam Le Cure:

52113 Ball 5

Ben thought it was Bill Bray until I told him that Bill Bray wasn’t on the Reds roster anymore. There was one guy in right field who I thought also might be LeCure, though, so I don’t know for sure. That said, I’m pretty sure the guy I got the ball from was LeCure, and the ball was my first of the day. Speaking of that guy, here he is:

52113 Pitcher in right field

The reason I show him is he was getting so bombarded by requests from kids asking for a baseball–while he was almost 100 feet from them–that he actually had to tell them to calm down with requests. Here are the kids below me, who–and I’m not using hyperbole here–were yelling every time he got the ball, even when he had to run towards the outfield to get the ball:

52113 Loud Kids

I figured he wasn’t going to toss a ball in my general direction any time soon, so I headed to the second deck in left field once Brandon Phillips’ group came up to hit. I would have gone to the lower level, but it looked packed and I knew Phillips had the potential to hit several up there:

52113 Second Deck LF

Unfortunately he hit a couple deepish into the lower level, but none got up to me. That would be it fro BP. (Get it? It has dual meaning in that case.) After batting practice there were no kids with gloves that I hadn’t already seen get a ball, but I wanted to give a ball away, so I gave a ball away to two ushers instructing them to give the ball away to the next kid *with a glove* that passed through into their section/by them.

For the game I stayed in left field:

52113 View from LF

I spent most of the game talking to Dylan and a man by the name of Brian who I just engaged me early on in the game and spent the rest of the game just talking in general. Both of us agreed that our game together was one of the reasons going to the ballpark is such a special experience. You can just go, enjoy a game, and spend the game talking to a stranger about a common interest that is baseball. It was a light in a game at quite possibly my least favorite ballpark that I have been to in the major leagues.

For the end of the game I headed down to the umpire tunnel (abiding by the rules of the stadium, I may add. I did indeed have a ticket for the section the umpire tunnel is in.) to try to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, and I did by yelling out to him before he could get off the field. See at Citi Field, there’s a wheelchair section to the umpire’s right when he walks into the tunnel, so if a kid is in that section, the umpire is almost always going to give him a ball there. This can be good because it stops the umpire for long enough for him to hear a ballhawk calling him by his actual name, but if there is a string of kids that gathers around him at this point, the umpire ball is pretty much lost, so the best way to get a ball from the umpire at Citi Field, if you have the room to do so, is to call out to the umpire before he gets off the field itself, and then if he can’t hear you keep following him with the same request until the corner spot of the tunnel. Unfortunately there is usually someone in the corner spot for the tunnel if you abandon it, and even if there isn’t the security people at the umpire tunnel especially have some sort of enmity towards ballhawks, so they have told myself and others that we aren’t allowed alongside the tunnel’s glass railing, but when other people do the same, they’re allowed. The most important thing about umpire balls, though, is the sooner you can get it before other people can talk to him, the better. It also helps to be standing alone. You don’t want to be amongst a crowd of kids if you’re not a kid yourself, because while the umpire might hear you, he might toss the ball to a kid next to you anyway if he doesn’t deem you “fit” to get a ball over the kid. Anyway, that has been today’s lesson on Citi Field umpire balls.

After that I didn’t get a ball from the Reds bullpen people, and I met up with Ben and Greg at the dugout. The three of us walked to the subway together and were going to take it together, but Ben realized he had to take the local and we the express. He normally drives to the games, but as he was pulling out of his driveway or wherever he parks, he realized he had a flat tire, so he got in a cab and got to the gate less than ten minutes before it opened. On a semi-related note, batting practice had tired him out, so he was going to leave in about the third inning, but he got stuck for four plus innings filling out all-star ballots, so he figured he would stay for the umpire ball. Regardless, where I’m going with this is that Ben had to take the train and it was a different train than ours, so he said goodbye and walked away from us:

52113 Ben walking away

As he was walking away, he turned back to wave a second joke goodbye, and as he was doing this, a friend of his snuck-up from behind him and tackled/hugged him. I’m sorry the lead up was so long for not that good of a story, and I realize this is the end of the entry so you just want to be done reading, so here’s the picture I thought it was kind of cool that I got:

52113 Ben getting semi-tackled

I then boarded my train with Greg and spent the night at his place. Most of said night was spent getting barked at by one of his dogs that thought I was an intruder and an obscene amount of surfing mygameballs.com looking up ours and other people’s games/commenting on them (If that doesn’t automatically hyperlink, you can either copy and paste, or the website is this blog’s sidebar over to the right.)

STATS:

  • 6 Balls at this Game (4 pictured because I gave 2 away)

52113 Baseballs

Numbers 516-521:

52113 Sweet Spots

  • 75 Balls in 16 Games= 4.69 Balls Per Game
  • 6 Balls x 23,183 Fans= 139,098 Competition Factor
  • 78 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 95 Balls in 35 Games at Citi Field= 2.71 Balls Per Game
  • 35 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Citi Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:37-11:00= 7 Hours 23 Minutes

5/20/13 Reds at Mets: Citi Field

First of all, here is a Before The Gates Open video detailing my journey to and subsequent time at Citi Field’s Jackie Robinson Rotunda:

Click on here to get to the video.

Oh, how there are some things that I did not miss at all about New York:

52013 Packed train

At the top of my baseball portion of this list was probably Citi Field. That said, I planned to attend five games there this week starting with this game. Why would I put myself through this madness? I was at 86 career baseballs snagged at Citi Field and wanted to get to 100 baseballs there so I would never have feel the obligation to go to Citi Field ever again. That way if I ever returned to Citi Field, it would more-or-less be on my own terms and not because I felt obligated to go there. So let’s get right into the entry, shall we?

For the first few groups of BP, I stood out here:

52013 View in LF

If you can’t tell, the guy in the white shirt and blue hat is Zack Hample. Normally I would like to be on the staircase he is on in that picture, but he took that spot, and to stand behind him is just asking to get robbed. Plus it wouldn’t make sense to bunch up if we had space to spread out. However, the reason I took this picture is Zack somehow managed to rob me from there. More specifically, I managed to absolutely botch a ball. As I explained in a Before The Gates Open video–which I’ll put up on this entry later on next week when I have access to the footage and time to edit it. (I’ll announce when I’ve put it up on Twitter)–this was my first time bringing my 14-or-so-inch lefty glove to a game, so by the time the the gates opened, it was still a little new to me. Anyway, I got Tom Goodwin to toss me a ball, but I somehow had the ball tip off the top of my glove and into the seats behind me. I ran back to where the ball landed, but it wasn’t there. Just then I saw Zack running in my peripheral vision and a ball hit in the seats all at the same time. What had happened was the ball had bounced off a seat and fallen a couple of rows down, where I couldn’t see it but Zack could. He ran over to pick it up and while he was over on my side of the section, a Mets righty hit a ball right next to him, which he also picked up. So had I not completely botched the ball, I probably would have had two quick baseballs. Those would be the only two baseballs I would see anywhere near me in left field. Although, those were Zack’s first two baseballs of the game, and this was the 900th consecutive game in a row that he had snagged a baseball at. So I can kind of say that I was responsible for a 900 games in a row with at least 1 ball.

Center field, though, was another story. I decided at the beginning of a new BP group that I would head over there and try my luck with getting toss-ups. I quickly got Dillon Gee to toss me my first ball of the day:

52013 Ball 1

I then headed back to left field for the beginning of Reds BP. This time on the other side of Zack:

52013 Second view in left

(I realize this picture is during Mets BP, but you get the picture–literally–here.) But when I realized most of the Reds power hitters were lefties and Mat Latos was not going to toss anything up any time soon, I headed back out to the center field.

In center field I moved down to the corner spot at the bottom left of the section (bottom right if you’re looking at it from home plate). And while I was trying to get a ball from whoever the player was ( I remember he was a 6-foot-6 lefty or something like that, but I don’t feel like looking up the actual name of the player.) I heard the people next to me moving around and the player look up in the sky. As it was already on its descent, I looked up and saw the ball everyone was looking at, and saw that it was coming essentially right at me. I then quickly got my glove up, hopped a bit, and caught the ball:

52013 Ball 2

I found out later from the people behind me that it was Jay Bruce who hit the ball. This was nice in that it had a redemptive quality to it for messing up the easy Goodwin catch. It also assured me that there was indeed hope for this giant lefty glove. However, I must say that two annoying things about the glove are when I have to label the baseball, because I still do write right-handed, and when I’m taking a picture of the baseball, because I still feel the need to have the ball on the left side of the frame and that requires that I cross my arms while taking the picture.

Anyway, this ball would be my last of batting practice. Since the Reds good hitters are pretty much–besides Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier–are left-handed, I headed up to a place I hadn’t been in a while, the Pepsi Porch in right field:52013 Back of the Pepsi Porch

Here’s the view of the field from where I was standing:

52013 View from the Pepsi Porch

And now of the scoreboard:

52013 View of the scoreboard from the PP

The reason I took so many pictures from up there that didn’t really have to do with ballhawking is that I didn’t know when the next time I was going to be on the Pepsi Porch was. Maybe never. Like I said, I hadn’t been up there in a long time. And there’s a reason for that. To get up onto the Pepsi Porch, you have to go into foul ground, take and escalator up two or three stories, go across a bridge, go down some steps, and then you’re at the *back* of the section. Simply put: you better have a very good reason to go up there if you’re wasting that much time in just getting there.

After batting practice I headed down to the Reds dugout to try to get a ball from the person packing up the BP balls up, but the funniest thing happened. Instead of heading into the dugout when he pack the baseballs up, he went into the area right behind home plate and dumped the whole bag of baseballs on him:

52013 Guy who has balls

I don’t know the exact story, but that guy in the stands managed to snag I’d say between 10 and 15 baseballs in the span of a second. It was something pretty ridiculous that I’ve never seen before.

As for the rest of the game, I snagged a ball after the game at the umpire’s tunnel which I then gave away to a Vietnam Veteran I saw with a glove, but that wasn’t the story of the game. All of us ballhawk-type people met up at the dugout after the game, and posed with the prize of the game:

52013 Mark home run ball

Left to right that would be:

1. Zack

2. Mark McConville

3. Myself

4. Aaron (Who also goes by the nickname Howie)

And sorry for the picture being out of focus. Whoever took the picture didn’t understand that the iPhone needs a second to focus the picture. But anyway, what we are all pointing to is the Marlon Byrd home run Mark had snagged earlier in the game. Mark has snagged one more home run than I have (so two). And both have come when I was in attendance and the ball got pulled to a section in left field. I’d say it is one or two sections from the foul pole. Congratulations, Mark, on that. Both were nice plays. The only negative thing about the home run is that had Mark snagged one more ball in BP, the home run would have been his 100th ball snagged ever. I think he’ll take the home run snag, though. Although, it is a personal observation of mine that one’s 100th ball likes to be the first ball of a game. Myself and a bunch of other ballhawks it seems leave a game stuck on 99 baseballs and can’t get that 100th ball until the next game.

Our family had just moved to Washington–I stayed for an extra week to say goodbye to people in New York–so I headed back on the train with Zack to sleep one last night in a pretty vacant apartment with my step-brother who had a flight that he had to leave for at 3 o’clock in the morning. Suffice to say I didn’t get much sleep in preparation for the game the following day.

STATS:

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

52013 Baseballs

Numbers 513-515:

52013 Sweet Spots

  • 69 Balls in 15 Games= 4.60 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 23,038 Fans= 69,114 Competition Factor
  • 77 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 89 Balls in 34 Games at Citi Field= 2.62 Balls Per Game
  • 34 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:13-12:02= 8 Hours 49 Minutes
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