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This was the first game of the series and the only game of the series I had not bought tickets for in advance. As a result, I found out that a college ID gets one half off:
If you can’t see that is a ticket in 141. Those right field tickets usually cost $26 but only cost me $13. I did not have a college ID with me but when I bought my ticket the lady told me, “you have you college ID, right?” She did this simultaneously with a head nod so I went along with it.
I got to the gates far ahead of anyone else so I went into the team store and studied where balls were going into the seats as one of the teams was taking early bp:
Soon after I came out of the store and started waiting again, two familiar faces arrived on the scene:
That would be, left to right.
1. Garrett Meyer– A ballhawk from Kansas who came down for Ballhawk Fest and is still staying in DC currently in a streak of 13 games in 13 days and 19 in 21.
2. Alex Kopp– A ballhawk from New Jersey, currently living in Maryland, and about to put up and absolutely monster day.
On that last note, let me explain why we are all holding baseballs. We were at the Center Field gate when a fork lift came driving our way. While Garrett and I were looking elsewhere and talking, Alex spotted that the operator had a ball in hand. He asked if he was planning to do anything with it and if not if he could have it. The operator then got out of his seat with two balls in hand. Alex had only seen one but that meant another one of us would get a ball. So I did my “alms for the poor” bit with my Nationals hat. When he gave the second ball to Garrett I thought that was it but he then went back to the forklift and dropped another ball out of a cup he had. So I had my ball:
The day of snagging was off. I first ran towards Left Field:
but when I found out the Nationals weren’t hitting I moved up to the second deck in Right Field and tried to get a ball from one of the pitchers warming up. I didn’t do this. Instead I ran over to right center when a ball came to the wall and called out to Livan Hernandez who picked it up. Of course, Livan threw the ball up to me for ball #2. The only bad thing about that was Livan maned Center Field and as a result the Red Porch was a lost cause:
The next piece of action went like this: a Home Run landed in the seats to my right, I eased up and said, “you got it” to Alex Kopp because he was clearly closer to the ball and I didn’t want to be too aggressive, a ball landed to my left because Alex was retrieving the other ball I figured he would let me get this ball. Nope. As I was jogging over to the ball, I saw a blue flash in the row below me and Alex pick up the ball. I just thought this was a funny sequence but count it as a lost opportunity because I would have definitely been able to beat him out for that ball.
I then had another…interesting sequence. I called out to Todd Coffey for a ball. Obviously by my entries, this is my first game at Nationals Park since June. Coffey asked me, “didn’t you get a bunch of balls yesterday?” I told him the truth which was that I was from New York and this was my first game here. He then reluctantly tossed me the ball but then told me that I had to throw back any Home Run balls that landed in the second deck seats in Right Field. Bizarre, no? Whatever, with this request, it was time for me to leave the section.
I then moved back to Left Field. There, I got Ryan Mattheus to toss me a ball to the left of the bullpen. However, I also missed out on two balls. I was playing one section from the bullpen. The first ball I missed, landed behind me a closer to the bullpen. I definitely would have gotten it had it stayed where it bounced but it hit a sort of rubberized strip that the Nationals have in Left Field ( I don’t know why) and bounced into the Center Field concourse. The next ball also bounced behind me and would have been mine but it bounced back towards the field where Alex Kopp caught it. Whoa, first let me go back to the Mattheus ball. That, I realized later, was my 100th ball of the season. This fulfilled one of my goals for the New Year.
I then moved back to the second deck in Right Field… wait, let me explain something. The reason for why I was going into the second deck is because the first deck was closed until 5:30. Ok, we now continue with your regularly scheduled blog entry… and then I got a ball. I don’t know who threw it. It was just one of those balls where I forgot who threw it. Obviously I knew who it was in the moment or he wouldn’t have thrown me the ball but I have since blanked on the name.
The next ball also came in upper Right Field. I called out to John Lannan as he fielded a ball. When he threw the ball back into the infield, a person close to him threw me a ball underhanded. When that missed, he threw another ball very awkwardly as I lunged over the railing and caught the ball. I don’t know exactly who it was. Initially, I thought it was an injured pitcher because of the underhanded and awkward throws but then realized he had a catchers mitt on. Any ideas?:
He is the one on the the right in the wicking shirt. 6 balls through half of bp is pretty good , no? Usually the away team is where I get the most thrown balls because I wear their gear. Well… usually. I waited for a few minutes for the lower Right Field seats to open:
Once I got into those seats, I proceeded to get dissed by every single Mets player and coach that was shagging balls there. Since there were mostly righties hitting, I moved back over to left field. I move around a lot, sue me. Actually, I would rather no one sue me I need that money for baseball games. There in left field a Mets righty pulled a ball foul and I outran whoever else was going after it to pick the ball up. I then gave it to a kid who was chasing behind me:
Alas, t’was a slow bp and the only other ball I got before I made it to my seats was a ball that was getting transferred to the ball bag from those used in bp. I later identified the person who threw it to me as, Ray Ramirez, the head trainer of the Mets. he was near the person transferring the balls from the bp container to the ball bag when one ball rolled away. He heard me asking for a ball and tossed it to me as he entered the dugout.
I then exited the seats around the Mets dugout and ran into a few familiar faces:
However blurry, these are those people:
1. “Flava” Dave Stevenson– A ballhawk from Baltimore who was in town because the Orioles were out of town.
2. Garrett Meyer– A ballhawk from Kansas, who was still in the Washington area and was going to Nationals games as a result. An interesting thing I learned was that this was the fourth of a stretch of 13 straight games for him.
3. Alex Kopp– A ballhawk staying in college park Maryland and having a great day at that point but didn’t yet count how many balls he had caught.
I talked to them for a while but then left to see Chien Ming Wang warm up:
Normally, I would have stayed and chatted for a while but I was a) 2 balls away from double digits and b) didn’t want to miss Chien Ming Wang’s first pitches in a Major League Stadium since he went out with the Yankees. You see, while he was on the Yankees, Wang was my favorite player in all of baseball I also had a rookie named Tim Lincecum in the corner of my eye but at the time he was injured, Wang was my favorite player closely followed by Joe Nathan. When Wang got injured, I slowly drifted towards liking Lincecum who is my current favorite player. That said, it was a true honor to be at Wang’s comeback game.I also really wanted to get a ball from him.
In the end, I couldn’t pronounce my Chinese correctly and Wang walked out to start the game. However, Jim Lett, the bullpen coach, heard my requests and tossed me a ball. This was now my ninth ball of the game and I was one ball from double digits. I thought about going to the dugouts but I figured it was too late and thought of how cool it would be if I caught my first Home Run for my first time in double digits.
I was accompanied a few minutes later by Alex Kopp. Why is this significant and blog worthy? He finally figured out how many balls he had caught and any guesses on a number?Keep in mind he has more than one pocket:
Up to that point, he had snagged 18 Balls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So basically take everything I had done to that point and double it.
For the game itself, I sat here:
Nothing came even close. I don’t even know if there was a single Home Run hit. As for Wang, it wasn’t pretty. He lasted maybe 5 innings and gave up 6 runs. Although I’m not sure how many were earned, I can say that he didn’t have the same dive in his sinker he used to as a Yankee. It was his first day back so I credit most of the runs to two years of rust. Given that 4 of those runs came in the first inning.
After the game, I was determined to get a ball from the bullpen for #10 on the day. Though it was tough given the fact that Jim Lett had already tossed me a ball. In retrospect, I should have thrown on my t-shirt inside out and put on sunglasses but I didn’t think of that in the moment. Everyone in the bullpen cleared out and I still didn’t have a ball. I was accompanied by Alex who also wanted A ball but also wanted, if by some miracle, to get two balls to reach the very prestigious 20 ball club. He also got denied by all the players. However, we both noticed a ball in the corner of the bullpen that had been dropped by a fan before us:
Alex and I both waited for a solid ten minutes. Grounds crew came, “we can’t throw balls up”, Security came, “we can’t, sorry”, and Police came, “we can’t throw balls up, sorry”. It was extremely frustrating and I had half a mind to use my glove trick with police guards five feet from the ball and ushers ten feet from me. Fortunately, I didn’t have to resort to this as the kid in charge of emptying the water coolers came:
He emptied them and when he walked towards the ballI asked him if he could toss the ball up. No response, he just picked the ball up and flipped it up. Alex was also with me so I also pointed out a ball behind a bouncy screen that had also been left and Alex was given the torture of having 19 balls at the end of the day. Enough about Alex, I haven’t started celebrating about my double digit performance. WOO-HOO! Ok I’m good.
It definitely feels good to start the day at 158 and end at:
- 10 balls at this game (9 pictured because I gave one away but eight actually pictured because I can’t find the Livan ball)
- 51 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 20 straight on the road
- 16 straight games with at least 2 balls
- 1 straight with at least 10
- 4 straight games at Nationals Park with at least 1 ball
- 10 balls* 30,114 fans= 301,140 competition factor another personal record
- Time at game 3:45- 10:21= 6 hours 36 minutes
(Dickey on left and Racaniello squatting fifty feet in front)
To the game. I sat out in left field as Jonathan Niese was pitching and left field is the best (maybe only feasible) place to catch a Home Run at Citi Field:
He actually might have touched the wall on his deceleration. This meant a good chance for a toss up for my, decked out in royal blue or what ever you call this color. Not! He caught it and ran all the way back to the dugout to toss the ball into the stands.Well good I had Matt Kemp and Juan Uribe in the line-up to give me a chance at a Home Run snag. Well…no, they went a combined 1 for 9 on the day. In the second inning, just as I was getting my glove on once more after James Loney struck out, Rod Barajas launched a fly ball in my direction. Initially, I thought it was going to die at the wall but I saw it carrying. I ran up towards the front of the section and because it was in a row and I wasn’t about to reach in front of people, I moved behind the person that was about to catch it and hoped he would move his hands away from his body as I would be all over any rebound that went straight back. But don’t take my word for it. The video is called “Barajas’ solo shot” and it is 42 seconds long and is from 5/6/11.I am the figure running in the white hooded sweater. Now for those of you who actually saw the video, you will know that the ball just barely cleared the wall and the guy had it in his hands but bobbled it on to the field. So no one in the section ended up getting it:
Though I do feel sorry for him because as you can partially see in the picture he generated the most animated response to anything I have seen so far at Citi Field his season. (The man is the second one in on the first row and to the right.
That was it as far as action is concerned. The Mets ended up actually winning on Home Runs that went to right and right center, both uncatchable. No, this was not a coincidence, both were caused by the design of Citi Field.
no pictures yet but let me at least get the numbers up
- 2 Balls at this game
- 21 balls in 9 games=2.3333 balls per game
- 31 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 2 balls*35,948 fans= 71,896 competition factor
- Time at game 4:41- 10:03= 5 hours 24 minutes
As soon as I took that picture a security guard said something that I thought was “Hi”. After a round of unsuccessful bp I headed over to left field for the second Yankee group. As I was headed out, the security guard:
I then went through a patch where neither Yankee nor Orioles were hitting balls to my part of left field. It was a group made out of all lefties except for one weak hitting righty. Since I wasn’t getting any toss-ups from the Orioles it was a tough bp. I think I probably should have been louder because it seemed like they always just missed my Orioles cap when scanning the crowd. Me not having my Orioles t-shirt didn’t exactly help either.
Then the power group came up. The group consisted of: Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, Caesar Izturis, and either Robert Andino or Adam Jones. This led to plenty of Home Runs to make up for the previous group. Most were out of my reach but several came into my axises of power. A few went over my head yadah, yadah.
Though, two came into my row. The first was hit by Derrek Lee two sections to my right (left if looking from home plate). I ran over and scooped it up as it trickled down back to my row for ball #2 on the day. The second, was hit by Mark Reynolds and actually landed in my row. So, I slid to get it before it rolled into the row in front of me. In the process of sliding I actually ripped the knee of my pants:
Although the pants were double layered, I can still say I would have been much happier on this specific ball if I had gotten it because I pretty scraped up, not on the slide but on banging my knee on the seat getting up.
I was in no mood to keep running around in the outfield. So seeing as it was the last group of bp, I got a head start on the end portion of bp. Nothing came of that. There I met up with Zack Hample and another ballhawk I had never met before named, Ben Weil (boys and girls, this is why you wear long pants even when it is warm outside:
(Can’t you tell a high quality camera picture when you see it. That would be both high quality photography and high quality camera.)
I stayed behind the Yankee dugout before the knee started hurting again and I knew I had to start moving to have it ready for the game (it was about 6:40 at the time). I abruptly left for right field because I knew there were two righties on the mound that day and the Yankees have many switch hitters.
From my spot in right I took time to laugh at those trapped in the bleachers I had been on my last trip to Yankee Stadium:
As far as the rest of the game goes, it was pretty good but for some reason the more I go to Yankee Stadium the less I am a fan of the Yankees themselves. Through this game, I was actually more disappointed that the Twins lost in a devastating fashion than the win the Yankees had. I was looking up here all game:
After the end Rafael Soriano threw a ball into my part of right field as he left the bullpen:
I didn’t want to get in front of the person who it was intended for so I let him try and catch it but he missed it completely and so neither of us got it.
Yankees 6 Orioles 5
- 2 Balls at this game
- 2.0 Balls Per game
- 28 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 5 straight games at Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
- Competition Factor: 81,034
- Time at Game: 4:30-10:30 Six hours
Ah the playoffs. So much excitement in the air. So magical the feeling, that people must show up really early… at least that’s what I thought.I left my school at about 2:45.
I walked down Fordham road to the B train and waited what seemed like a fifteen or twenty minutes because I wanted to beat all the people that were getting to the stadium today.
At the time I was willing to accept defeat to all the people that had surely camped out
When I got out of the subway, I saw a huge line of people going towards what looked to be the center field gate.
Instead of going in this line and hoping it lead to the gate I went to the front to see if there was any hope of getting to the front of it.
Sound the fanfare for I have gotten to the front of the line. Their turned out to be two lines in the bigger line.
The first line turned out to be for people who were waiting try and get tickets being released before the game. Or at least, something to that nature. The second line was for employees waiting to get in.
The game was starting at 8:00 and the gates were opening at 5:00. So I had almost two hours to burn before I could even get in to the stadium.
And if you are wondering, the clothsline clip on my hat is because the Yankees had World Series hats for $5 but they were all size 8s. I am a size 7 so I needed the clip for it to not go down to my ears.
From about 3:30 on every ten minutes felt like an hour in itself. There’s an hour and a half between 3:30 and 5:00 so do the math.
Also, remember how I thought people would be camped out over night before. Well I could have come at 4:45 and still have been the first one in line. However, the worst thing was that even though I had been waiting since 3:00 and all the security guards had seen me since then, they waited until 4:55, when there were sizable lines to tell the people that they would only be opening one gate and it wasn’t mine.
WOW!!! I had waited since 3:00 to be the first one in line and they waited until people started getting there to tell me that I would have to go to the back of the newly formed line. (Maybe I should change the name of this blog to the Big Apple Rant because it seems that’s all I do.)
Anyway, while in line a person came into it behind me that I thought I recognized. He was a man with glasses and a sting back pack. That looked something like this:
I wasn’t really sure at that point so I wasn’t going to make an idiot out of myself and ask some random stranger if I know them. However, when people started mentioning different times for the gates opening. he looked like the person who would most likely know. So I asked him if the gates were opening at 5:00 or not. He told me they were and followed up with “You’re Mateo aren’t you? You were one of Zack’s clients.” I affirmed his suspicsion and he told me about how he had read the article about me . He then went on to introduce himself as the Yankee Stadium Ballhawk. I had looked at his profile on www.mygameballs.com once or twice and remebered him vaguely.
Anyway, enough of this, open the gates already!! I got into the stadium, got my bag checked and raced behind Alex who I probably should have mentioned was at the gates with us.
Well, it was 5:00 and you’d think they would have started bp by now but:
I now had some time on my hands (never had that before he said sarcastically). Tony Pena was playing catch by the dugout with an UTY (unidentified throwing Yankee).
For those who haven’t read the descrition of the blog I go to a high school called Fordham Prep, which is on the Fordham U campus. What our school does is, instead of making and buying their own gear they just take the left overs the university’s baseball team has.
He went to Fordham U and recognized the sweatshirt of his alma mater and responded accordingly. The reason I mention this is one of the growing list of reasons why I won’t be going to Yankee Stadium again soon. I would have been able to talk to him about how to break into the sports broadcasting industry had it not been for the moat of seats by the dugouts that no one is allowed to get in even during batting practice (AAAAAAAAAAARGH).
The Yankees then came out to stretch and throw:
but when he finished, his throwing partner took the ball and started throwing with someone else.
I moved on. I started playing umpire whenever Kerry Wood threw a ball to Sergio Mitre and it worked… sort of. Alex was in front of me and trying to get the same ball. When Kerry stopped throwing we were both waving. Alex in the front row and I in about the twelveth row. Kerry tossed it up so I thought at first it was going to Alex but then realized it was thrown to me. The ball was very underthrown. I started running forward but to no avail. It landed in the sixth row and bounced over my head and into about the twentieth row, where a fan in the twenty fifth row beat me
“Show me that arm Kerry!!”
For the Yankee’s batting practice I tried right field. Waaaay too crowded. I went up to the second deck. “you can’t come up here for batting practice”. Really, This is further from home plate than the field level seats.
So I went to the bleachers. There were two balls I had a shot at in the bleachers. A-Rod hit one (without batting gloves which was weird) and I ran over but someone was already standing there and dropped it when it hit his hands but caught it in midair before it hit the ground. The next was hit by Curtis Granderson, I ran down to the bottom of the bleachers and stretched as far as I could without falling onto the field level seats.I was seriously worrying about getting shutout for this game.
Texas came out to throw and I raced to the left field seats:
It got me three toss ups from Rangers playersI followed Neftali Feliz when he finished throwing all the way from left field until the dugout waving my arm like crazy and holding my Ranger’s towel in my mouth. He finally rewarded me when he got to dugout. I was so thankful I gave it to a lady that was legitimately trying to get the ball as well.I was walking back to left field when I noticed that Michael Krikman was finishing his throwing. I stopped in foul ground and he gave me ball #2.
I then made my way to left field and held the towel up for every player that finished throwing. Mitch Moreland was about the third player gave me my third ball of the day.
I was initially kicked out from left field by this usher:
but then he let me stay for the rest of batting practice. Now he left for parts of bp and I probably could have moved down the sections but didn’t want to ruin it for all others after me that wanted to stay for batting practice.
I occasionally went up to my actual seats but which view would you rather have.
The game was over and I was the only person within a mile of the bullpen and guess what. No baseballs from Rangers players. I then changed into Yankee’s gear in anticipation for the groundskeeper throwing the remaining five baseballs into the crowd:
- 4 baseballs at this game (3 in the picture because I gave one away)
- 56 baseballs in 20 games this season = 2.8 balls per game
- 57 total baseballs
I just wanted to get this in because I thought it was important and was reminded by the memorial at Yankee Stadium. Fred “Freddy sez” Schuman had a heart attack last week, went into a coma, and died last Sunday.
Here are some of the pictures from the memorial:
I found out on Sunday because one of Dad’s friends was very close to Freddy. I forgot about it until I heard the echo of the pan in the great hall and stumbled upon this.
In any case, R.I.P.