Results tagged ‘ Mark Reynolds ’

5/31/13 Tigers at Orioles: Camden Yards

My day began at Avi Miller‘s house. See, Avi and his parents were kind enough to put up with me for a couple of days as I needed a place to stay while going to a couple Orioles games. I have to say it was a really nice/fun place to stay. Avi and I had stayed up watching MLB Network–which I had regrettably not watched in forever leading up to that point–and I worked on entries as I watched and we ate pizza that I somehow got talked into letting Avi pay for even thought *he* was the one letting me stay with him. But anyway, the way to get to the ballpark from Avi’s is to drive to the subway station and take that to the ballpark. We could drive the whole way, but given how often Avi goes to games, it doesn’t make any sense, because 1. It costs $8 for him to park by the ballpark. 2. It puts extra wear on the car. And: 3. It costs a lot more in gas to get to the ballpark than the $1.20 for the subway.

But why am I prolonging the introduction to this entry and my account of the time before I got to the ballpark? Well because not much happened in batting practice itself. Once I got int the gates, here was my view of the field:

53113 Opening Picture

While I’ve heard it many times via word of mouth, I don’t think I’ve seen it written yet, so I figure I’ll get it out there: OPACY has become a tougher ballpark to ballhawk at. One reason for the ballhawks who used to come there many years ago is the competition. Several years ago (like 2010 and before that) there was virtually no competition during the first half-hour, so if you were in left field courtesy of a season ticket, you essentially had the place to yourself and could clean up for thirty minutes. The second reason is the Orioles don’t really have a team suited for the ballpark. I remember running all over the place when Mark Reynolds and Derrek Lee were on the team, but now really the only player who consistently gets balls into the left field seats is J.J. Hardy, and even he is having a rough year in that regard. You’d almost rather go out onto the flag court for parts of the 30 minutes to try to get a Chris Davis homer. And all of the players/coaches who patrol left field during batting practice are already accustomed to not tossing baseballs up for this first half-hour, so it’s not an automatic thing like it used to be to get on the board with a season ticket. I wasn’t there super consistently before, but from what I heard, it used to almost be easy to get four or five baseballs before the seating bowl opened up to the general public, and that’s before any of the visitor’s BP even took place.

During this BP, though, the Orioles hit definitely less than five baseballs into the stands, and I’m pretty sure that’s including ground-rule doubles. Nothing even came close to me. And what made it so frustrating is that although Alex Kopp, who I showed you guys in the previous game’s entry was there, Tim Anderson wasn’t here for today’s or the next day’s game, so I wanted so badly to take advantage, since I knew it would be a rarity to have an opportunity like this, but then the Orioles let me down. I mean look at how much space I had to run around if a ball got hit into the stands:

53113 Room to my left

Oh, and I don’t think I mentioned it in the last game’s entry, but I was particularly looking forward to Tim being away because he jumped and caught a ball during that BP that almost certainly would have made its way into my glove had he not been there. He made a great play on it, and I horribly misjudged the ball. I still would have made the catch, but he picked the right row to run in and I went two rows deeper.

But back to this game. What made it even more frustrating is that the big, bad Tigers decided to take the day off of hitting because they had just played an 11-inning game in Pittsburgh where they got beat 1-0. I mean to me, getting shutout for 11 innings by the Pirates means you should probably be taking extra hitting, but you know, whatever your methods are, Jim Leyland, I won’t question them. It was as a result of the Tigers not hititng, however, that I probably had one of my more memorable experiences at the ballpark. And by memorable I mean…well, you’ll see.

Since the Tigers weren’t hitting, I went behind the Tigers pitchers warming up to try to get a ball from them. Since I had previously had a good encounter with him at Target Field, I got behind Phil Coke’s throwing partner to hopefully get a ball from Coke when they were done. When they finished catch, and I asked Coke for a ball, he looked and me and started backing away from me. I didn’t know what to make of it until he got into the “set” position of pitching of the stretch and flipped his glove upwards–which is to say he was going to throw me a fastball. I thought he was just going to throw the ball at my glove nice and easy, but no, this was Phil Coke, so he threw the ball full-force. So given the fact that it was Phil Coke not off a mound, it was probably in the high-80s. I wasn’t expecting this at all, so as the ball went way higher than I thought it would, I just managed to tip the ball as it zoomed way past me into the stands. I then ran back and retrieved the ball. I thought that was the end of it, but Coke signaled for me to toss the ball back to him. I tossed it back to him and he readied himself again. This time he crow-hopped into the throw–so the ball was almost definitely in the mid-90s–and I had to jump this time just to tip the ball. The ball then hit off a seat behind me and ricocheted all the way past the cross-aisle:

53113 Ball 1

When I went back and got this ball, I was more than prepared to toss it back to him for another chance to catch it, but as you can somewhat see in the last picture, he had moved onto a new victim in the blue. That’s an OPACY regular by the name of Doug. Coke fired one ball at Doug before he told everyone to clear the area and then proceeded to fire another ball at Doug. Avi described it perfectly in what he said afterwards (I’m somewhat paraphrasing), “In an age where some teams encourage players to not even toss baseballs up into the stands because of liability, that has got to be the most reckless thing I’ve ever seen a player do at the ballpark.” Of course, Avi had probably the best reason to say it because after it deflected off a seat, one of Coke’s throws went less than a foot above Avi’s head. But alas, I had to keep my crown as the only one who got hit in the head with a baseball while I was at OPACY.

But anyway, that was pretty much it for the day. Avi, Alex and I hung out in club level pretty much until the game started. Tonight was Union Night, so OPACY was completely sold-out out. I mean just check out the sight on Eutaw Street before the game began:

53113 Eutaw Street

So Alex and I sat out in the flag court at one of the picnic tables. And after having to move about seven times because people kept on showing up to their seats for the first three or four innings, Avi came and joined us out there. Here are those two as I was leaving to go get an umpire ball:

53113 Flag Court people

And I didn’t. The previous day I was in prefect position for an umpire ball, but an usher moved a couple kids in front of me just before the umpire passed through–like he literally grabbed the two kids and lifted them into the row of seats right in front of me–so I didn’t get a ball that day. I figured this was the usher’s custom, so this game I went to the other side of the tunnel in hopes of being on the corner spot on that side. I was, but unfortunately for my hopes of getting an umpire ball, the Orioles rallied back in the ninth inning, which they had begun trailing, and Chris Dickerson hit a walk-off home run, which I–albeit jokingly–called. This affected me trying to get a ball because the crowd was going absolutely berserk, so when I tried calling whoever the home plate umpire was by name, he couldn’t hear me at all. Heck, I could barely hear myself calling out to him. So he exhausted all of his baseballs on the kids awaiting him before he got to me. All in all it was a pretty boring day to ballhawk besides the Coke incident. I got my one ball there, Alex got his right at the beginning of BP when an usher directed him to a ball that had been hit in the seats before we entered, and I don’t even know if Avi got a ball, since he has a good approach and just relaxes during BP and snags whatever comes his way. He doesn’t really set expectations fro himself, so whatever he does in terms of baseballs and autographs is almost like a nice treat in addition to being at the ballpark. Anyway, I headed out to the flag court where I met up with Avi, where we would prepare ourselves for a game the next day that while much more adventuresome, would be just as frustrating to me.

STATS:

  • 1 Baseball at this Game

53113 Baseball

Number 535 for my “life”:

53113 Sweet Spot

  • 89 Balls in 21 Games= 4.24 Balls Per Game
  • 1 Ball x 46,249 Fans=46,249 Competition Factor
  • 84 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 43 Balls in 10 Games at OPACY= 4.30 Balls Per Game
  • 10 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 3:23-12:14= 8 Hours 51 Minutes

6/22/12 Nationals at Orioles: Camden Yards

There was only one word to describe this day in Baltimore: crazy.

Everything started out perfectly normal and fine, though. I arrived at Gate H around 50 minutes before the opening time and ate my Subway sandwich:

A crowd then started gathering outside the gate, and I checked my phone to see what time it was. It was 4:25, but the more important thing I saw was that the person with my ticket, Avi Miller, had sent me a message saying he would probably be there by 4:50 because he was having problems with the LightRail. He was right, but it was a nerve-racking experience awaiting him as it got closer and closer to the gate opening time.

After a couple of minutes inside, this was the view to my right:

Yep, one person that could possibly compete with me. What are those numbers? Oh those are just locations of balls I had caught. Yes, that is a nine in the fourth row. Was that my last ball of the day? I’m not telling you; read the rest of the entry and you’ll find out.

See what I mean? Crazy. By the time I took that picture, I had already caught three ball on the fly. The location of which, you can see in the picture. Avi identified the hitter of the first ball as J.J. Hardy. The next two I’m pretty sure were both hit by Mark Reynolds.

Here was the view to my left:

After I caught my third ball of the game, a kid asked me what my name was. I don’t know why he did, but I responded and asked what his name was. It was Michael Myers. He then engaged me in a short conversation, so I offered to give him my next ball of the day. Naturally, he agreed. After a few minutes of inaction, however, he asked me, “can’t you just give me one now.” to which I responded, “Just wait, I’ll give you my next one.” he then asked back, “Well how do you know you’ll get another?” To that I simply said,” I’m pretty sure I’ll get another.” Sure enough, approximately 4 minutes later, Mark Reynolds hit another shot over my head and to my left, where I chased it down and picked it up. You can see part of the “4” where I got the ball in the last picture. I then went back down and gave this ball to him.

You have already seen the “5” spot, but here I took a picture of the ball itself:

After I took this picture, it occured to me that Michael probably wasn’t ever going to get a commemorative ball. Given that every ball I had snagged up to that point was commemorative except the one I gave him, I made an exchange with him so he could have the commemorative ball instead of the standard “Selig” ball (yes, when I made the exchange, I explained what I meant by a “Selig” ball).

You’ve already seen the “6” spot. It was hit by a righty in the second hitting group I saw. I tracked this ball throughout this whole flight and caught it on the fly, where I then proceeded to almost fall down after glancing off an Oriole Park cupholder. I would later or then give this ball away.

I should actually explain something before it gets too late in the entry. The action was coming so fast ( caught a small percentage of the balls that went into the left field seats) that I never had time to write down notes until batting practice ended, so although I know that I caught a ball in the location where I wrote the “6” and then almost fell down, I don’t know if that was necessarily my sixth ball of the day. Some things I *DO* know are: All but one of my balls was hit, all of my balls were snagged in the left field seats, I caught five balls on the fly, and I “gave” away 6 balls. If you want to know why there may be some inaccuracies, I took pictures like this to remind myself of where I had snagged baseballs:

Gee, thanks, Mateo. Which of the five baseballs I snagged in this area is this supposed to remind me of?

Why do I write “gave” in quotations? Ball number seven. A ball was hit way over my head and to my left. So, I ran to about the spot where I thought it would land. It landed a few rows above that, so I raced after it. I grabbed the ball, but another kid grabbed the ball right after that. I know I could have pulled the ball away from him, but I didn’t want to be like that, so I let go. I count this because I *did* have possesion; I just decided not to keep it. Here is the kid:

Yes, I use the term “kid” very loosely. With me it can mean anyone from about 2 to about 18 years old. If we’re going off purely technicalities, though, a kid means a young goat.

Around this time, a man approached me to introduce himself. He said that he had seen me a few times on Zack Hample’s blog. He also mentioned he had been on there a few times. With this little tidbit, he also added, “I’m Helmet Guy.” Then it all made sense. I had seen him a few times at Citi Field in the two prior seasons. He owns, I believe a helmet from all thirty teams. His real name, though is Brendan Sammon. Here he is giving a “thumbs up” after jokingly complaining that all people wanted to “see [was] the helmet” (he was wearing a Nationals hat when he introduced himself, but I asked him if he could put on his helmet for the picture, since, you know, he IS “Helmet Guy”. I’m pretty sure he even had a custom shirt that says that on the back.

I then got my 7th ball in a spot that I didn’t photograph behind me- hence the lack of a “7” spot. It was an absolutely perfect Camden Yards commemorative ball. I gave that to this man in the bright orange shirt:

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He then gave it to his son.

Why does it look so crowded around him? AfterI got ball number 8, whose spot I have already shown, the left field seats opened up to non-season ticket holders. So this is what the seats looked like to my left and right:

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Regardless, I was feeling pretty good about myself having already snagged 8 balls to that point…until Avi came back to me. Right as he got to me, he said, “should I thank you now or later?” Apparently, no one had gone for Nationals toss-ups, so Avi (wearing Orioles gear) got 8 toss-ups from the Nationals pitchers. I was of course wearing bright red Nationals attire. How many of those would I have gotten? Four? Six? All I can say is: crazy.

During Nationals B.P., I got two balls. The first I caught on the fly in the spot you saw labeled “9”. Both this and the next one may have been either Michael Morse or Ryan Zimmerman.

The next ball I picked up off the ground in another place I never took a picture of, but this one was more to my right than the “7” spot I also didn’t photograph. I gave this ball away to a kid on the spot.

Of course, everything was going so crazy, I didn’t know what number I was up to. All I knew was I had given five balls away. I was going to count how many I still had later on to find out my grand total.

I then rendezvoused with Brendan by the bullpens. This time, his son, Patrick, was with him. You see, previously, his son was stuck on Eutaw street, since they bought a ticket from a dealer who had advertised it as a season ticket when it hadn’t been.

While I talked to him, the Nationals’ bullpen coach, Jim Lett, walked into the bullpen. I leaned over the side and asked him for a ball. He looked up, picked a ball off the ground and tossed it to me:

20120624-013903.jpg
Notice anything strange about the ball?

Here’s a better picture:

20120624-014015.jpg
Oh. My. Goodness. I had set up my schedule, so I would be in position to get as many of the six commemorative baseballs out this season as I could. The only ball, however, that I would have to luck out on was the Fenway Park commemorative, since I wasn’t going to go to Yankees-Red Sox, and I wasn’t going to see a team the Red Sox had just played. How the commemoratives got to this game. I don’t know. I wasn’t about to question it either.

Right after I got my ball, Lett also tossed Patrick his first ball of the game. This was an Oriole Park commemorative. In batting practice, Brendan had caught a Michael Morse BOMB that had made it all the way to the cross-aisle behind the left field seats. This ball was a Fenway commemorative. They actually switched up balls and asked me to take a picture of them, so I figured I’d share it with you. I assume it’s okay since I took the picture of Brendan earlier for myself:

20120624-015206.jpg

After that, the tarp went on the field, and I met up with Avi, after which, he took me to the Suite Level. Yes, you technically need a ticket, but this was Camden Yards, not Citi Field, so naturally no one checked. Due to this and other amenities, I made a few cracks about how spoiled he and the other regulars here were.

Once the game began, after an hour-long rain delay, I went out to my usual spot in right field, where this was the view:

20120624-015629.jpg
No, I didn’t actually see ANY of the game.

While I was out there, though, I went through and counted all the baseballs in my backpack. My record for one game had been 10 baseballs, so when I found out I had gotten 11, this was my reaction:

20120624-015857.jpg
Not only had I gotten 11 balls, but my 11th had been the commemorative I wasn’t supposed to get.

However, since the game had been delayed, and my train back to Washington left at 10:15, I had to leave in the middle of the sixth inning. On my way out, though, I gave away my sixth ball to a kid on Eutaw street.

I then took a picture of said street from outside the stadium:

20120624-020253.jpg
Bye, Camden Yards. See ya later today.

You think the crazy was done for the day? No, not quite. I left the game at 9:38, but even though Washington is 45 minutes from Baltimore, a series of delays caused me to get back to the apartment at 1:32. Thus, you can expect a new stat at the end of this entry.

STATS:

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

20120624-091644.jpg
numbers 284-295 for my “career “:

20120624-091923.jpg
• 73 Balls in 14 Games= 5.21 Balls Per Game
• 23 straight Games with at least 1Balll
• 3 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 5 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 7 Balls
• 3 straight Games with at least 8 Balls
• 11 Balls x 45,891 Fans= 504,801 Competition Factor
• 38 Balls in 7 Games at Camden Yards= 5.43 Balls Per Game
• 7 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Camden Yards
• 4 straight Games at Camden Yards with at least 2 Balls
• 3 straight Games at Camden Yards with at least 3 Balls
• 3 straight Games at Camden Yards with at least 4 Balls
• 2 straight Games at Camden Yards with at least 5 Balls
• Time spent on the game ( This statistic differs from “Time at Game” in that it includes the time spent traveling between my residence and the ballpark for that day) So this day I left my apartment at 1:30 PM. I got back there at 1:32 AM, so the “Time Spent On the Game would be 12 Hours 2 Minutes

6/18/12 Orioles at Mets: Citi Field

I don’t care if I took this picture two days earlier, it’s the perfect picture to start off an entry of a game at Citi Field:

When I got off the train, there were maybe four other people waiting at the gate. Eventually, I struck up a conversation with a father and son close to me. It turns out they were from North Carolina. Why were they up at Citi Field for a baseball game then?The father actually went to high school with Bobby Parnell, or at least he gave off that impression. What I *do* know is that he knew Parnell enough that he had been working to meet up with him during B.P., and have Parnell’s number because he said he would text him when they were entering the stadium. This was the reason they was at the gates so early. Actually, that’s only a partial-truth. They was there early to try to meet up with Parnell, but they were there 2.5 hours early because the ticket rep they had spoken to told them Citi Field opened 2.5 hours before game time. Ha, ticket rep, I only wish it still did.

I kept up conversation with these two until two ballhawk friends, Ben Weil and Avi Miller, showed up at the gate and told me there was free pudding in a tent, about a hundred or so, feet away. I would have taken a picture of the pudding, but I want to send the message: “Yes, I’m a loser, but I’m not THAT much of a loser.” Us three then talked until the gates opened. As that happened, I was pretty much the only person out of everyone who entered the stadium who went to the right field side of the stadium.

There, I found this guy:

I would point out the ball with an arrow, but I like to assume a certain level of intelligence in my readership, and I trust that you can find it by yourself. Also, I should mention finding Easter Eggs is VERY rare at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. I don’t know why I presume it’s the ushers, but nowhere else where the gates open after the beginning of B.P. do I have such a problem finding Easter Eggs.

After that, my plan was to get a player to throw me a ball from here. This was my view of the field:

I then saw that a ballhawk named Vin had left the right field, so I made the ill-conceived decision to move over there. It was ill-conceived because this was my view there:

Do you know what “BB” stands for? Ballboy. Translation: never going to get a ball from me. Heck, I know a ballboy on the Yankees and he hasn’t thrown me a ball. Do you think this guy is going to toss me one? Nope. I stayed in this section for a whole Mets group, because they were mostly lefties, but I should have moved elsewhere.

Finally when I did move out of the section, I went to the left field seats. I spent the rest of bp there, but this was all I had to show for it:

Right from the spot where I took the picture, I caught that ball on the fly, off the bat of a player who I would later identify as Vinny Rottino. I offered this ball to a kid near me, but he turned me down. I must say: congratulations. I like giving baseballs away to kids, but I like it even more when they want to snag a ball for themselves and turn me down.

I was genuinely surprised that was it for B.P., though. Citi Field is semi-notorious for habitually slow B.P.s, but look at how the flags were blowing:

They were blowing straight towards left field, where I was for all of B.P. The reason there weren’t a bunch of balls in my section is the Orioles just didn’t lift any balls. Really all they had to do was get them a certain height and the jet stream would have done the rest.

Like I said, that was it for batting practice. Once it was done, I went over to the Orioles’ dugout to meet up with these people, with whom I spent the entirety of the game with:

They would be:

1. Ben Weil- A guy I believe I met at the ballpark one game and became friends with through just getting to know him at several games as “the guy who has every jersey known to man and monkey”. Seriously, just click on his name. Jerseys and hats are his “main” thing, but he has lots of other stuff too.

2. Avi Miller- A person who I met through Ballhawk Fest last year. He was in town for the Mets-Orioles series, because he is an Orioles fan. On a similar note, he is also a Camden Yards regular, who attends 8,000 Orioles games a year, you know, give or take 7,915 or so. He is either seeing if he can tweet without looking at his phone or hiding his face because R.A. Dickey had as many hits as the entire Orioles team combined.

3. Matt”y G”- Ben’s friend, who I first met in my last actual game before this, and who also engages casually in the ballhawking scene when he goes to games.

All three of us sat behind the Orioles. I was going to sit further down the line, but I figured that I might as  well sit at the dugout, since it had been so long since the last time I’d done it. At first, I sat in the aisle seat due to other fans showing up with tickets to the seats Matt and Ben were sitting in. I was so out of practice when it came to third out balls, I completely forgot to get up when the Mets made the third out in the first inning. Ben actually had to say, “Go, Go!” I then realized what was happening, and moved down the stairs to get Mark Reynolds to throw me the ball. It was COMMEMORATIVE! That was actually my first Mets commemorative ball. Here is the ball with Reynolds at first:

After I got this ball, I wanted to give a ball away, so I put the commemorative ball in backpack and pulled out one of my bp balls. I then offered a ball to a girl, but she didn’t want it, so I gave the ball to whom appeared to be her brother:

As you can see, I’ve pointed out the two with green numbers. Well, the boy did accept the ball, but right about when I gave him the ball, I felt something hit my back. I turned around to see a baseball rolling around on the steps. According to Avi (with help from Ben), Wayne Kirby had thrown a ball meant for the girl who didn’t accept a ball from me, and someone else picked it up.

When I returned to our row, I switched seats with Ben; he sat in the aisle seat, and I sat in the fourth seat in. Sadly, for Ben, Mark Reynolds didn’t hook him up the rest of the night, nor did anyone really. We sat in this format for the rest of the night. I assume we would have shifted again had Ben gotten a ball, but like I said, he didn’t. I must say, though. This was probably THE best game I’ve had sitting with other people. Usually, either I am trying to get a ball and the person isn’t interested enough in snagging to sit next to me, or it is another ballhawk who is serious about snagging as well and we try to sit away from each other  in order that we both have room to do our thing. Here, we all sacrificed that tiny advantage in getting third out balls to sit together. We just talked the whole time and made fun of each other. It was a great experience that reminded me you can have a sucky game ballhawking but still have a great time. Kind of like my first game at Target Field last year.

The only thing that really was a clear missed opportunity is that a foul ball came right into our section. Ben then shot up the stairs. I didn’t get a clear look at the ball, so I just followed him. That said, I learned from a Chris Young home run last year, that you should only trust YOUR eyes, so I looked to make sure he wasn’t misjudging the ball. When I saw the path of the ball, it looked like it was going ten rows up the stairs. I kept running up, but just then it hit one of the steps. Turns out, it had some massive backspin on it and came waaay back. I forgot this little tid bit about foul balls. Well actually, not really. I had practiced judging foul balls while my high school team was in Myrtle Beach, SC. The thing is, though, I was practicing on flat ground. In the stands, the incline of the seats magnifies any spin on the ball.

After the ball bounced off the step, it bounced back into a row behind us where a father (or was it a mother?) picked it up. This was kind of depressing. I should also mention there were two other semi-ballhawks in the section:

That in the yellow would be Aaron, who I believe goes by Howie sometimes, for whatever reason, and his friend whose name I don’t know. I know Aaron, or Howie, or whatever the heck you want to call him, because I sat down in this region with him last year.

The game was a great one. Not only did we get to see Ike Davis’ first career grand slam, but we also got to see R.A. Dickey pitch an absolute masterpiece. He threw 9 innings, 13 strikeouts, gave up 1 hit, and allowed no runs. Only the 7 hitter and pitcher got on base.If that weren’t enough, Dickey (like I mentioned earlier) had as many hits offensively as he gave up as a pitcher. Isn’t that something? I wonder how many times that has happened?

After the game ended, Ben and I headed over to the umpire tunnel where umpire Gary Cooper didn’t give a ball to anybody who was there. His ball pouch wasn’t flat either. Maybe I’m just operating out of context, but what is he going to do with those baseballs in the umpire room?

After all ball snagging opportunities were exhausted, we took the following picture by the dugout:

Admittedly, this isn’t the best take when it comes to me specifically, but it was the best group picture, so you have this awkward picture of me saying something while the camera was taking a picture; probably “Cal Ripken”.

I parted from the rest of the group at the jackie Robinson Rotunda and headed home on the “7” train.

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave one away)

numbers 265-267 for my lifetime:

  • 45 Balls in 10 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game
  • 19 straight Games with at least 1 ball
  • 10 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 10 straight games with at least 3 balls
  • 3 Balls x 29,014 Fans= 87,042 Competition Factor
  • 79 Balls in 30 games= 2.63 Balls Per Game at Citi Field
  • 30 straight Games with at least 1 ball at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 2 balls at Citi Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 balls at Citi Field
  • Time of Game 4:09- 9:42= 5 hours 33 Minutes

7/23/11 Ballhawk Fest

Finally the day arrived. I say this after the fact but before it actually arrived I was a little worried about how ballhawk fest would go because I was worried about my streak being broken with so many ballhawks in attendance. Speaking of them, let me introduce to you all the ballhawks in attendance:

1. Garrett Meyer- #5 on the season leaders as of 7/26 and also the furthest traveled of us here coming all the way from Lawrence, Kansas.

2. Alan Schuster- The creator of mygameballs.com and organizer of this whole day long event.

3. Alex Kopp- A student at the University of Maryland who ballhawks really all over the place because he lives in New Jersey.

4. “Flava” Dave Stevenson- A ballhawk native to Baltimore who is very much a regular at Camden Yards.

5. Tim Cook- The second part of the now trio that is Cook & Son Bats’ Blog.

6. Oliver Rowles- Another ballhawk from New York that also usually inhabits the outfields of Citi Field or spring training stadiums when he’s at a game.

7. Zack Hample- Just click his name. If you don’t know him by now that such be sufficient. For the lazy people. He’s caught over 5,200 baseballs and inspired most of those present.

8. Mike Rowles- Oliver’s father and self proclaimed chaperone for the weekend.

9. Ben “…ny Batting Gloves” Weil- Yet another ballhawk from New York that showed up a bit late for softball (this picture was taken after we finished) because of the Lincoln Tunnel, “why are so many people going to New Jersey on a Saturday?”, etc.

10. Todd Cook- The primary unit in the Cook n’ Son trifecta.

-There were various people not int his picture who went to the game itself or were outside my lens.

1. Avi Miller- He just showed up for the game and didn’t show up for any of the pre-game festivities.

2. Jona- Zack’s girl friend who was simply outside of the picture because she too was taking pictures of the pre-group-picture set-up.

3. Jeremy Evans- This was a foreign name to me prior to ballhawk fest. Apparently he is a ballhawk from Pennsylvania who doesn’t have records of any of the balls that he has caught. I got all of this information from his mygameballs profile, I didn’t actually have much time to get to know him. The reason? He showed up at the game after the gates had opened and we were both focused on snagging baseballs.

4. Matt Hersl- He was “too sore” to play softball. He later admitted that he would have played had it not been 110 degrees. That actually was a hyperbole but it was over 100.

Obviously, the ten present and willing to play were not enough for a 9 on 9 softball game. Instead, Alan had devised a sort of Home Run Derby. Here we have Alan explaining the rules:

I don’t remember what the original format was but Alan added the fact that what he had said was merely a draft and anyone could add their own suggestions to it. Here we have everyone collectively having their “wait how are we doing this again?” moment before bombarding Alan with a plethora of suggestions:

This, inevitably changing how we were going to play the game. The rules, it seemed, changed by the half inning until the end of the second inning. This is what we ended up with:

  • 7 innings
  • 5 players on each team-once Ben showed up in the second in the bottom of the third-. Here is the roster:
  • A half inning constituted of every player of the team hitting.
  • A person  finished their turn when they got one out with both a soft and baseball.
  • An out was achieved by any ball that was not hit out of the infield or caught by the opposing team.
  • An out could also be achieved if a person failed to swing at a ball within three pitches.
  • A ball hit into the outfield uncaught was 1 point
  • A ball hit beyond the fence were 5 points
Does that make sense? I hope so because I still don’t truly understand it.
Anyway, my team won 44-29:
It was headed by an excellent offensive effort by Mateo Fischer and… okay so I didn’t score any runs for our team but I did have the most catches for our team. Our actual offensive leaders were everyone except for me and Ben as all of them-I believe- play softball in a league elsewhere. The game ended in spectacular fashion as the final out was recorded on a ball hit over the fence by Zack Hample that was caught at about the 6’6″ mark by Alan Schuster. Although, being the ballhawk that I am, I was waiting on the edge of the fence in case Zack hit a Home Run. when the ball jumped off of his bat I jumped off of the fence and was waiting right behind Alan in case the ball kept on carrying. Had Alan not been there, a big argument probably would have ensued over my tactics. I did however, have the excuse that it was ballhawk fest.
After the game, we went to a restaurant named DiPasquale’s in an assortment of gas guzzling vehicles. I went in Alex Kopps’s car with Garrett Meyer:
That would be Alex on the left with Garrett on the right.
At the restaurant, we split into two tables: Alex, Garrett, Dave, Oliver, Mike (Oliver’s dad), and myself at one table and everyone else I don’t feel like naming at the other table. If you want to find out who was at the other table, just take out everyone I listed from the first picture, add  Jona and Matt Hersl, and Viola! you have the second table. At lunch, I obviously ate but there were other goodies to be given out. Ben Weil provided different items to be given out of names being picked out of a hat. I got a bobble head doll of the “best mascot in baseball” as I am always hearing. Don’t I look just thrilled:
No not really. This is almost the worst bobble head I could have gotten minus a bobble head of the Yankees mascot. On the other hand, we did receive our official ballhawk fest T-Shirts:
The two faces because I the front was a very nice design but was only made to provide the basic information. The back because I was commemorating my deceased father by wearing this with his first initial on it instead of mine. For the better observants of baseball, you may have noticed that I have been wearing a sweat bands with the initials WRF. This is also to commemorate him. For those who haven’t noticed, here is a link to a picture I took in Atlanta with the band on.
For even more observant people, can you spot three items in both pictures that were photographed in this entry. Note: they may not be showing the same side that I photographed.
Anyway, it was late enough that our car went directly from the restaurant to the field. We took pictures, talked some more… blah, blah, blah. Enough of this preliminary shtuff, let’s get to the game.
I was about the fifth into the left field seats because I had to wait for Avi Miller (who provided me with season tickets the games before and after this one, thank you) to show his season ticket card and get us in to the section. I quickly made up for it by catching up to two of the other ballhawks in my section after I weaved through a family of non-balhawkfestians.
When I got to the section I picked a spot behind you-know-who in the second railing opening in the second aisle from left center:
Normally this would be snagging suicide but I figured I would just got with the best available spot as a cavalry of a dozen ballhawks would soon be upon me. I quickly got on the board by picking up a Mark Reynolds Home Run that landed behind me and half way into the row:
I think the only two people going after it were Matt Hersl and Zack Hample but can’t really remember.
The next ball came relatively soon after that Derrek Lee hit a ball about three steps behind me. I slowly backed up and simply reached up to catch it on the fly:
The next ball was also hit by Reynolds… I think. It was hit in the same general area as the last one as Reynolds was hitting them pretty well. I was one of the people that went furthest back on that ball but it still went over my head. It just kept carrying and carrying:
It hit off of the seats behind me and I picked it up… I think. To tell the truth, I remember this specific ball but don’t know if I actually got that specific ball. I do however, know my third ball was snagged in a ball hitting off of the seats and me picking it up.
My fourth ball was a little clearer as I was closer to the foul line to get a ball from the Angels pitchers (I didn’t get many balls from the Angels because my shirt arrived the day I got BACK from Baltimore and I had to settle with turning a Nationals jersey inside out) when an Orioles hitter-I think it was J.J. Hardy- hit a ball into the seats behind me. I went under where the ball clanked down thinking it would roll down the seats. The other fans chasing after it didn’t know this so I quietly pulled the ball out while they kept frantically searching for it. That gave me four balls for the day.
I then had a cold streak where most of the Angels player ignored me because I couldn’t identify them (it was so hot that they all had on the shirt they normally have under their jersey thus no number to identify them by) and a few balls I barely missed out on. To me this was a sign that I should leave for the flag court once people started arriving that didn’t have season tickets.
This was a good choice. When I arrived in the flag court the group including Russell Branyan started hitting. For those who don’t know, Russell Branyan is a DH type hitter that has enormous amounts of power but just doesn’t do much else. He did not disappoint.
My first ball from him came when he launched  a ball to the deepest part of the ballpark that could still be considered the flag court. Here is the view from where the ball struck the fence:
Can you see now what I mean? A foot further to the left and that ball is in the center field section. Thankfully it hit off the bottom of the fence and became a slow grounder back to me.
The second ball was an absolute blast:
To explain, the ball hit off of the canopy over Boog’s grill, bounced to the right, dribbled into the Weed & Lemonade stand (not pictured) where I picked it up.
The third and final ball I got out there was also hit by Russell Branyan and was also a bomb:
The right most pair of dotted arrows are the balls path wile the pair of solid arrows are my path to the ball. The ball bounced off of the railing so quickly I had to barehand the ball directly of the metal with my right hand. It hurt a bit but it was worth it. However, it might have caused me to miss out on another ball depicted by the dotted arrows on the left. Branyan hit yet another ball to near the top of the fence, because the last ball had ricocheted so quickly, I played a little further back and waited for the bounce but the ball went perfectly between the bars and someone else grabbed it.
Moving over to foul ground when Branyan wasn’t up, I was hoping to get a ball tossed to me but after getting completely ignored by a coach who was the only one shagging balls in that part of right field, I gave up as that was probably it for me over there. I then went over to center field:
right center was pretty dead because of those Angels fans but left center could have brought me something but others had the same idea as me:
We were now in Angels bp so you can find a ballhawk by looking for a red or yellow shirt. Anyway, as I was putting away my phone from that picture and grabbing my cup of free ice the Orioles were providing, I heard the slight roar and saw people moving like they were getting ready for a fly ball. I looked up and a ball was going right to my left. It bounced into a seat and I started running after it but another kid in a grey shirt plucked it out of the seat. I was really mad. Had I been paying attention, that would have been an *very* easy catch to make. That was it nothing else for bp.
For the game, I stood out in the flag court once more:
as my second goal- after getting one ball this day- was catching a Home Run on ballhawk fest. Wait… before I get too far from that picture, let me recount all the balls I gave away this day.
1. In center field, I saw a kid after batting practice who had a glove and asked him if he had caught a ball. He said no and I handed him one.
2. I saw he had a brother or friend with him and so I gave one to him too. These two were the last two balls I caught from Branyan.
3+4. The guy pointing and the guy in purple started off their stay in the flag court by telling me and Alex (standing to the right of those guys) that they were going to catch any ball hit into the section but once we started talking they showed some genuine appreciation/awe for us ballhawking and started to talk further to us. They then both asked if they could buy a ball off of me for a dollar each. Normally, the answer would be a definite no but since they showed such an interest I didn’t mind getting ripped off, as baseballs go for about $10 in the stores, and selling two of my baseballs as it *definitely * was not for the money. As far as I was concerned, this would be the best day for spreading the news of what ballhawking was because there were so many at the ballpark and I had my attention grabbing Ballhawk Fest T-Shirt on. The balls I gave away were my Derrek Lee ball and ball #4 that I think was hit by J.J. Hardy. This quickly turned into Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter by the time the guys got back to their friends.
After batting practice, I was in the lead in terms of baseballs caught at ballhawk fest. Leading Zack Hample by a margin of 7-5. Just before the game, that shrunk to 7-6. As nice as it would have been to widen the gap and surely get the most baseballs at the first ballhawk fest by sitting in a more ball friendly spot, I was sticking with my plan as I would have NEVER been able to forget a Home Run that would have gone into the flag court had I not been there. So, this was my view for the rest of the game:
Actually no, that would have been an improvement on my view of the game. For ballhawking purposes, I was about twenty feet behind this spot and as a result couldn’t see any of the game minus whatever replays and such showed up on the scoreboard. The closest ball I came to was a foul ball that Bobby Abreu pulled just to the right of the foul pole (looking from Abreu’s perspective). I had no chance at it. The only reason I was up there was because it was the second day of two righty pitchers starting and I figured the line-ups would be lefty heavy. Out of the 18 batters, 8 were lefty. So I was stuck on 7 balls. In the middle of the game, I had heard that Zack had caught a foul ball and we were tied from Alan Schuster. I would have tried for an umpire but the game was so close that I was just sensing a go ahead Home Run by Russell Branyan but alas, it never came. That was it.
I then went over to the Angels dugout for the closing pictures and such:
The yellow was definitely flying. Oh and by the way, that is Jeremy Evans in the Orioles hat between Alan (in the white hat) and the person in orangeish getting out of their seat.
Overall I would say it was a VERY fun and similarly exhausting day. In the end, I did end up being the co-leader for the first annual ballhawk fest. That might just have to go on my resume for my first job application.
STATS:
  • 7 balls at this game (3 picture because I “gave” four away)
numbers 149-155 for my career:
  • 49 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 18 straight doing so on the road
  • 14 straight games with at least 2 balls
  • 6 straight games with at least 5 balls (could I maintain this streak the next day with no batting practice? No one comment on this if you have seen my mygameballs profile)
  • 3 straight games with at least 6 balls
  • 2 straight games with at least 7 balls (sorry have to get them  out of the way while I still have them)
  • 7 balls* 20,311 fans= 142,177 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:18- 9:46= 5 hours 28 minutes

7/22/11 Angels at Orioles: Camden Yards

My first game at Camden Yards ballhawking and guess where it began:

You may be thinking: “Wait Mateo, isn’t Union Station in Washington D.C.” You would be right to ask that question because it indeed is. I was staying in D.C. to avoid lodging costs.

Long story short, I departed six hours before game time and got there two and a half before it (with a Subway break in between):

Isn’t that a majesty. For the record, that itself is not the park it is the warehouse that sits behind the right field standing room section. You can also see in that picture that the sun is beating down at this moment. Keep that in mind.

I was the third one into the left field seats and as a result I found three Easter Eggs. The first two spots (approximately) are here in this picture:

The third in this one:

The ballhawks out there can probably see who beat me to the seats but here are the two IDs. Man in orange going up the stairs: Matt Hersl. The man in pink: Zack Hample. Between the three of us, I think we found maybe ten Easter Eggs. It was just so hot that the Ushers didn’t check for baseballs. In the background with  floppy hat on, you can see “Flava” Dave Stevenson in the background searcing for his own Easter Eggs.

Now let’s use that last picture to show how things were like with upwards of five ballhawks in attendance (not including me). I will use that last picture again to show what happened when a righty hit a ball into the left field stands:

The dotted arrow is the path of the ball and the solid arrows are all our different paths to the ball. Obviously you can’t see me in the picture So my arrow simply points out from the bottom of the picture but all others have arrows coming from them and a second arrow if they changed directions. I think that Matt Hersl was the first to the ball but it was on the ground but in the scrum he had with Flava Dave and another two fans (Zack had pretty much given up on the ball) it rolled out to his right. Whoever was to his right basically had to reach down and pick the ball up before they realized it had moved positions. Who was to his right? ME!! That gave me my fourth ball of the day.

The Angels were then coming out to throw so I veerryy sloowwly back up the staircase to change elsewhere (don’t want the Angels seeing me). Slowly because I knew the Orioles were still hitting and didn’t want to give up a chance at any Home Runs that could have landed in the seats. Sure enough, Mark Reynolds blasted a ball:

I was in the cross aisle and heading out but when the ball landed close to the top of the section I: dropped my backpack, bolted down the steps (an aisle lower than the ball had landed because they tend to trickle down), and ran over to the spot where the ball had landed. I don’t remember if it trickled down or not but I did pick it up and proceeded to change into my Angels gear  to the congratulations of an usher. I was in love with Camden Yards already.

The Angels started throwing and I was careful not to go down too early because it has been my experience that if you go before the first throwing pair starts waining you are stuck waiting for people to end at the dismay of all the balls that are getting hit into the outfield. Eventually, I moved down to the foul pole and was going to ask Hisanori Takahashi for his ball but he did not end up with it and moved away. Keep this in mind. Finally Jordan Walden and Bobby… something or other, finished throwing and I asked Jordan for a ball. He threw his ball to another kid but then picked up another ball and threw it to me. I now had 6 on the day and was eyeing my record of 7/double digits because it was very early in Angels bp but then the left field seats got crowded. It was weird. As you can see in the picture above it wasn’t really “crowded” but because of this being the game before ballhawk fest many ballhawks showed up early and thus the gaps between the railings were filing up. Being my usual over-pensive self I moved to the flag court to avoid the ballhawks’ competition. Actually that’s only half true. I also moved out there because it was about 107 degrees (no hyperbole) and I had started to see tinsel like sparkles in the corners of my eyes. Here was my best attempt at a picture of myself during this time:

That picture was once I got back in the concourse. I can only imagine how exhausted I must have looked before that. Combine those factors with the fact that I had banged my thigh into a seat earlier made it time to take a slow walk over to right field. By the way this was my view in the flag court:

Why was I playing back where I couldn’t see the batter? The split second advantage that I would gain by seeing the ball on its way up would be lost in the fact that I would be going backwards instead of forwards. Whatever, it didn’t matter because no balls came up there.

I then went into the center field section and hid myself as best I could from Jordan Walden, who was shagging in right field, because he had already thrown me a ball. I stayed in center for the duration of batting practice and first got Hisanori Takahashi to throw me a ball in left center field because I asked him in Japanese. He was about a microsecond away from tossing the ball in before he heard a familiar language which led him to turning around and tossing the ball up.

My second ball came from a ground rule double hit by Russell Branyan- assist by the rubberized warning track- which bounce up and rattled around in the seats for a bit before I picked it up. There were a couple of those but there was an extreme lack of mobility in the center field section. I ended bp with eight balls but gave the last Branyan ball to a kid in that center field section. I stupidly didn’t get a picture of her or remember what she looked like but she was close by when I got the ball. I might have gotten double digits had the Angels not ended bp at:

6:07? My watch is also 4 minutes ahead so that made it more like 6:02 that they Angels already left the field. Anyway, I stayed out in the flag court for the duration of the game as there were two righty pitchers but no balls came even close due to two offensively challenged line-ups taking the field:

Such is life. I ended the day at eight.

STATS:

  • 8 balls at (7 in this picture because I gave one away)
numbers 140-148 on my career:
  • 48 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 13 straight with at least 2 balls
  • 5 straight with at least 5 balls
  • 17 straight games on the road with at least 1 ball
  • 8 balls* 24,823 fans= 198,584 competition factor
  • Time at game 4:21- 10:01= 5 hours 40 minutes
Don’t yet know how thorough I will be with the ballhawk fest entry. So pardon me if it takes a few days.
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