It was Mother’s Day, and I was going to Citi Field. Don’t worry though; I made sure my mom was cool with it before I went, and I had a good reason for going, as you’ll see.
I hit some traffic on the way down, and I was worried I wasn’t going to get a good spot on line. The gates opened at 11:10, and I was there around 11:50. However, people are either too dumb to realize, or too lazy (which is probably the case) to walk the extra 15 feet to a line with 2 people on it, so that’s what I did and I was sixth in line.
Now, I’ve had this game circled on my calendar for a few months now. The whole reason I was going to this game was a secret. A month or two prior, bigleaguebaseballs.com posted a photo of a special ball that was being used on Mother’s Day, and I hadn’t seen or heard much about it since. I wanted to keep the competition down. While I was in line, I didn’t see too many ballhawks around. Which was good.
The gates opened, and instead of going out to left field like I usually do, I headed out to right:
A Mets player sliced one into the seats in foul territory, smacked off some concrete, bounced back onto the field, and I quickly got Dillon Gee (pictured) to toss me my first ball of the day about 2 minutes in. There were a lot of lefties hitting, so I took my spot in this area here and hung out for a bit and listened to a kid get yelled at by his mom:
After a few minutes, I noticed Zack Hample and some other ballhawks below the Pepsi Porch snagging balls. Today would be a challenge for Mother’s Day balls, for sure. I walked up a section and hung out near this awkward area near the right field foul pole:
…and eventually got Jeremy Hefner to toss me my second ball of the day. His toss was weird – he kind of just underhand floated it to me. It was my oddest snag I’ve ever had so far. It’s hard to explain. I moved around to the area under the Pepsi Porch in right, and got denied by Ricky Bones. Later though, a few balls made it to the warning track, and I got bench coach Bob Geren to hook me up with ball number 3 on the day:
…and after a few minutes, a homer was coming right at me. I positioned myself, but the ball was dropping quick, and slammed off the railing in the Party City Deck and went straight up into the air. I stuck my glove out, and if I weren’t incredibly short, my arm length probably would’ve reeled it in. I barely missed it, and it bounced back onto the field. Here’s an idea if you’re a visual person:
Ricky Bones (who had moved to left to talk to Scott Rice) must have saw how I just missed and tossed me the ball for No. 4 on the day. I had previously asked Scott, but he probably remembered me from five days prior when I was there against the White Sox.
That was it for the Mets portion of BP, so when some Pirates came out to toss, I headed over here:
…and it was then I found out that the Pirates would not be taking BP today. I really thought I had a chance at double digits. It was only 11:45, but they weren’t coming out. Bummer. I tried for a toss-up after long tosses, but they all went up to the left field area. I did, however, get Mark Melancon’s autograph:
I asked him if he missed playing in New York, and he said yes. Then I told him he was having an awesome year (which he is, check his stats) and to keep up the good work. I always think it’s cool when athletes approach fans instead of thinking they are better than everyone else.
I headed to my usual spot to try and get a pregame ball:
And there was only one. I tried to get it from Jordy Mercer or Clint Barmes, but they gave it to Pedro Alvarez. Fun tip about him: Every pregame he autographs a ball and tosses it into the crowd (at least the games I’ve been to, anyway). And that’s what he did. So I didn’t get it.
During the game, I was behind the Pirates dugout:
Ben Weil was to my right, and Zack Hample was to his right. Greg Barasch was going for 3rd out balls on the Mets side, so I had a *moderate* chance at a Mother’s Day ball. As soon as the 1st inning ended, David Wright grounded out to third, and it was then that Garrett Jones tossed the ball into the crowd, and I stuck my glove out. There were about 5 hands up in the way, and I wasn’t even sure I had gotten the ball. When I moved my glove back, took a deep breath, opened it up with anxiety, and….
Here are some more pictures of the ball:
Look how gorgeous that is. The writing on the sweet spot was a bit missing, and the Rawlings logo was buffed a bit, but you know what? I didn’t care. It made it unique, and mine. The ribbon was intact, so it was all good. I was just thrilled to have one. Nice job by MLB to make the ball. It happened so fast. I was thinking of different strategies for getting the ball… 3rd out balls, foul territory, umpires tunnel, and just like that, I had one. It was NOT expected at all, given my competition. I had seen Zack get one on a Travis Snider foul ball about 5 minutes earlier, so we were trying to make sure all the ballhawks got one. I laid back for the rest of the time until Ben finally got one in the 7th inning. Here’s a look at his ball which was in a little better shape than mine:
I also took a panorama of the game:
At the end of the game, we found out that Greg had gotten one at the end of the 8th inning, so now that we all had a pink ball, it was fair game for another. So, I headed to the umpires tunnel at the end of the game:
A few minutes later, I got Jose Contreras to throw me a ball on his way into the dugout for my 6th ball of the day. My personal Citi record is 6, and I would’ve broken it easily if the Pirates took BP. Oh well. I love that I’m getting on a hot streak right before my baseball trip. If you don’t know about it, stay tuned.
… as you can see. Greg, Ben, and I got 1 each, and Zack wound up with 3. Then, we parted ways, and I sat in traffic for an hour listening to the Rangers playoff game 6 until I got home another hour later.
- 6 balls at this game (Ties my Citi Field record)
- 97 career balls (closing in on 100!)
- 21 straight MLB games with a ball
I also checked my snags for invisible stamping. Only a few had them, check it out:
I got to Citi Field early Tuesday, and as I went to pick up my ticket, I was disappointed to see this:
WTF, Mets? Instead of getting on line, I had to wait here:
and after what seemed like an hour, I finally got my ticket, and got in line. What was encouraging was that there were no other ballhawks in sight. The competition might not be so bad tonight. After running out to left field, the action was kind of…well… dead. After about 15 minutes though, I got reliever Scott Rice to toss me ball #1 on the day:
See #62? That’s Jose Quintana, and he threw me my 2nd ball of the day. I rounded the bend and hit left field, but the players weren’t throwing anything up much, and the hitters were doing a lot of bunting and slap hitting drills:
That was my 3rd ball of the day, and my 1st Easter egg. It was weird finding it this late into BP (The Sox took away the cages early and were practicing infield drills). Then, I noticed this on the scoreboard (even though I knew this beforehand): Pretty cool. I killed some time on my phone until the players came out for pregame tossing: … and was pretty much uncontested and got Jeff Keppinger to toss me ball #4 on the night. Here was my “seat” for the night:
Matt Harvey was pitching, but to be honest, I was wiped out. I’ve been really tired from grad school finals week, plus I had to pick my grandma up in the Bronx. So, for the 1st time in a very long time, I left a game early. I knew I’d regret it, too. Harvey went 9 innings, and struck out twelve while only giving up one hit. I should’ve stayed. I stayed for one inning to try and get a gamer, which I was also uncontested, so I know that if I stayed all night I would’ve gotten one. Oh well. I’ll be back there Sunday vs. Pittsburgh.I took one last photo outside with my haul for the night:
And then I grabbed some delicious Bronx pizza, my grandma, and then I headed home.
- 4 balls at this game
- 10 balls this season
- 91 career balls
- 20 straight MLB games with a ball
I also blacklighted these balls, and only one had a stamp that was visible. The other 3 were decently worn. Check it out:
I’ll be at Citi Sunday. Are you going? Let me know, come say hi to me.
I got to Yankee Stadium around 4 p.m. When I got there, I threw on my ipod, got in line, and was graced with the presence of people like this:
…yeah. Anyway, I was there for a few more minutes when I ran into this guy:
… and then he hooked me up with some Frank’s Red Hot (which I LOVE) sunflower seeds. He’s doing a whole thing with BIGS Seeds for charity, and you can check it out here. That also explains why he’s decked out in BIGS gear. When the stadium opened, I decided to head to the 2nd deck in right field. Nobody usually heads up there first, so when I went up there to start, here was my view: There were no Easter eggs around, so I just waited. And waited. Here’s what the Yankees were up to:
And after a few minutes, I got Boone Logan to toss me my first ball of the day. I was also competing with Zack, Greg Barasch, and Ben Weil, to name a few. And, as luck would have it, the area I was just stationed in in the 2nd deck, proceeded to get 7 home runs hit up there by Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay.
I had my eyes on this guy:
The guy I’m speaking of is #34, Vidal Nuno. I heard his story on TV the night before and how he almost quit baseball for a number of reasons, and toiled in the independent leagues, but stuck with it until finally making his Major League debut the night before. I wanted to tell him how I thought it was great hearing his story, but someone beat me to it and got a ball from him (I didn’t want a ball, I just wanted to talk). So I didn’t think Nuno would think I was being genuine, so I didn’t bother. Later, I moved to Left Field and it was the deadest BP I’ve ever been a part of. Anywhere. Minors, Yankee Stadium, you name it. So I was bored and took a panoramic photo:
Now, the reason I chose to go to this game is because the Astros are using commemorative balls this season. I made my way over to the Astros bullpen, where a few guys were practicing some catcher drills. Why was this important? Well, they dumped the entire bag out so I looked for stampings:
Zack was up in the bleachers and told me that none of the balls had any markings on them. The Astros were the only team I didn’t get a commemorative ball from the year before, and it looked like I wasn’t gonna get one this time. Oh, and did I mention that the Astros didn’t come out for batting practice? Same for the night before. Seems to me that a team that is 8-22 and in last place would…. you know, take batting practice. But what do I know, right? Shortly thereafter, Phil Humber and Jason Castro came out to toss:
… I was the only fan in Astros gear, plus it was quiet at the moment, and they proceeded to ignore me. Humber is 0-6 with an ERA north of 7, so you think he would be as endearing as possible for fans. I’ve heard from other people that the Astros weren’t really fan friendly, and I noticed this last year when I saw them on 8/25/12 at Citi Field. He went in to the bullpen, and I got this good picture of him:
and nothing. I headed around to the 3rd base line for a toss up, but the players couldn’t see me.Therefore, I missed out on trying for a “Harkey.” I moved back to the bullpen and talked to bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte. He’s a really cool dude if you get a chance to talk to him. Here he is:
“We don’t take those on the road.” So that was that. Money and time wasted! Huzzah. As for the game, here were my seats:
IT stayed like that all night. Just one homer needed to go my way and it was mine. Of course, the anemic lineups of the Astros and injury-riddled, lefty heavy Yankees lineups weren’t in my favor. My only chance was when Astro Chris Carter came up to hit. And his 3rd time up, he homered… but to Right Field. I’ll get my chance someday. I mean honestly though, here’s how it looked in the 9th:
Sigh. Mariano Rivera then came in and shut the Astros down 1-2-3 for the save.
- 1 ball at this game (what’s with the dry spell?)
- 6 balls this season
- 87 career balls
- Yankees record when I attend in 2013: 2-1 (37-23 all time)
- Astros record when I attend in 2013: 0-1 (0-3 all time)
I also checked the ball under a UV light, but there was nothing there.
I was in Toronto Sunday. See the tower in the background? That’s the CN Tower, a 1,815 foot concrete communications and observation tower in Toronto. It was completed in 1976, becoming the world’s tallest free-standing structure, and world’s tallest tower at the time. I lost my picture at the moment, but the day before, I was looking down at Rogers Centre through the glass floor observatory. Later that day, we explored Toronto more, and I even tried Indian food for the first time! Anyway, on to the next day: game day -
To make a long story short, I was with my girlfriend visiting her sister in Buffalo. Friday night, I went to a Ranger game where they beat the Sabres 8-4 , and when I planned this trip early in the winter, before I even looked at the schedule I decided I was going to do a baseball game in the area, whether it be the Blue Jays, the Buffalo Bisons, or even a Detroit Tigers game if I had to. I don’t normally get to this area of the country, so I wanted to make the most of it. The Jays happened to be home this weekend, but of course the Yankees were in town, so I expected crowds of 45,000 plus. This was in contrast to the crowds of 15-18,000 the Jays were pulling in earlier in the week vs. the White Sox (it seems like I can never catch a break).
I started with my usual walk around the ballpark, taking in the atmosphere and appreciating the architecture around the area:
Here I am with Natalie –
I kept going around the stadium –
And I reached this ridiculous thing they threw up on the side wall:
I kept going, and reached the front (or back, I’m not sure what to call it) of Rogers Centre:
Here, is where the Renaissance Hotel connects to the Center Field windows inside, and you can watch a game from your room. The only person I know who has done this is Zack Hample, and you can check it out on his blog here, here, and here.
I moved around to the area where Gate 2 is. If you ever go to Rogers Centre, Gate 2 is pretty much a little to the left of where the Right Field foul pole would be, to give you an idea. So you can plan your entrances accordingly based on that info. When I got to Gate 2 however, this is what I was looking at:
Ay yai yai. Turns out it was “Edwin Encarnacion” bobble head day, so that plus the Yanks in town didn’t bode well for me from a ball hawking perspective. (Remember when I talked about luck earlier?) On the other hand, I was glad to see the Jays have a full house. I hate seeing teams fail to bring people in. I did, however, notice a much, MUCH tinier line here:
This was Gate 3. (Duh.) When I lined up, I started chatting it up with some locals, and apparently this gate is for people who need an elevator to get up or down to the correct floor. I didn’t know this at the time. Also, there were representatives from Spitz Sunflower seeds handing out free samples. Score.
Now, the game was slated to start at 1:07 (I still don’t get the Toronto :07 start times.). Around 10:58, two minutes before the gates were supposed to open, a crabby Blue Jays “team member” came out and said anyone in this line without a suite ticket was required to move to another line and wait.
No way was I doing that. The lines were backed up all the way to Front Street, and I was really aiming to be the 1st one up to the 200 level for some Easter Eggs. I wasn’t leaving. The two elderly people behind me told me to pretend I had a bum knee (which I kind of do, so it’s not really lying, right? Right?) And that I needed the elevator. I was going to go with that. Most of the people were freaking out because they were worried they wouldn’t get a bobble head. Which, I didn’t care about. When I went inside, they checked my bag, but not my ticket. I quick hopped onto the suite elevators, ran out to the 200 level, and was disappointed to see I wasn’t the first one there, naturally. Here was my view, though:
Here was my view to my left and my right:
I could’ve gone either way. I was torn between going to the 100 level, or staying in the 200. There weren’t many balls being hit, and Darren Oliver and Aaron Loup, shown below, weren’t throwing anything up to anybody. The music wasn’t loud, so I know they heard everyone yelling:
After a good 35 minutes of nothing, a ball got lined but over my head. It was traveling so fast, I had no time to react. It hit off a seat about 6 rows behind me, so I jumped up high for the ricochet but it barely left my glove and landed back on the field. Ugh, I wanted that one. I decided to try my luck in Left:
The competition wasn’t too bad:
…but I just needed something to be hit there. Encarnacion was putting on a show, but he was pulling them down the line. By the time I ran over there, I knew that he would start hitting them where I was at. That’s just how my luck is. Eventually, he was pulling them my way. One was caught by a guy who had to be at *least* 350 pounds in front of me, so I had no chance on that one. The second was hit just to my right, and landed off a woman’s forearm. After that, the Jays headed off:
Welp. After throwing on my Yankee shirt, I decided to head down here for Yankees BP:
…and it was just as slow. David Phelps, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, and Hiroki Kuroda all ignored the ONLY Yankee fan in the area. I’m telling you, I couldn’t believe it, but I was the only one there at the time. Kuroda in particular, it must be a Japanese thing. I’ve struggled with him forever, and he either ignores me, waves, or half-asses a ball underhand that goes nowhere near me. I WILL get a ball from him this season. I even asked him in Japanese last year! Does anyone have a player they struggle with?
As for competition, I was becoming boxed in, and I didn’t like it:
To my left, was a random railing that separated the sections, so yeah, I was pretty much boxed in. Considering my seats were in the 500 level with a packed house expected, I was facing getting shut out.
Travis Hafner then pounded one in my direction, but it hit the warning track and fell just short of my glove on the bounce over the wall and landed here:
Now, before the game, I planned on making my glove ready for the “glove trick,” but my rubber bands broke and I couldn’t get to a drugstore before game time. That’s what I get for not being prepared. There were 3 balls in front of me, but I had no retrieval device.
If you haven’t been to Rogers Centre before, this is how the outfield wall is set up:
The gap there eats up so many homers. If you have a glove equipped with a glove trick, and can use it well, bring it. The security sparingly checks the area for balls every 30 minutes or so.
The Yankees were down to their last few guys for BP it seemed. Just when I was getting ready to accept defeat, I decided I’d wait it out. Then, Lyle Overbay lined one right to me. The trajectory was perfect. The height was perfect. The kid next to me had his glove up. I leaned further in than he did, held up my arm…. And…
Sweet! MY first ever BP homer on the fly! It felt awesome. I knew it’d come sooner or later. Some guy demanded I give it to him even though he didn’t have a glove. Come prepared, pal. I ignored him, and headed out of there quick over to Left Field:
The only guy there, as you can see, was a trainer of some kind, and he’s not allowed to toss balls up, so I just hung around hoping for another homer. BP ended shortly after, so I continued my walk exploring the inside of the stadium now (I do this for new stadiums, by the way. It won’t be like this every post.). I came across the Jays pregame show:
On the right is former MLBer Gregg Zaun. The guy on the left, who knows. It took forever to get around, the concourse was PACKED.
I managed to *sneak* my way down behind home plate and took some photos:
After a while, I got bored sitting there, and walked around more. I stuck my camera through a hole in the batters eye in Center Field and snapped a photo:
Later in the game, a home run went into this area and I imagined myself sneaking under the tarp to grab it.
It was game time, and here is where I was positioned:
Too far away for a foul ball, and after the busy, busy weekend I had, I was too tired to care. I had 1 ball, and I was on the board. To give you perspective of where I caught my home run, I took a shot from my seat:
In the 9th, the Yankees were down to their last out, so I went alllll the way to the last row of seats:
See that thing on the corner? That’s a bay of lights:
Imagine having those seats for a season ticket plan? Woof. I’ve never seen something like that before. How do you see the scoreboard? I guess you don’t. Here’s another cool architectural photo:
Here I am:
If you’re wondering what the “3” is for, I’m planning to attend a game in all 30 stadiums. When I do, I’m taking each photo with a sign number, and making a large collage out of it to hang in my man cave. Cool idea, right? I know. The seats emptied fast, but there was still one guy left in the crowd:
I took a few last photos of the stadium:
And a panoramic photo (which I think came out well, click to enlarge):
And one last photo of Natalie and I. Were so cute, right?
And get this: Look how this clown parking attendant decided to park his car in front of mine, after claiming I didn’t pay him for the spot when I clearly did, then magically gave me a 10$ fine because I didn’t have the parking pass displayed on my windshield even though I asked him and HE SAID NO I didn’t have to:
That’s my car in black. What a clown. Be wary where you park in Toronto. Also, be aware of the immense amount of traffic you’ll encounter if it’s a busy game like this one. Ooof.
- 1 ball at this game
- 5 balls this season
- 86 career balls
- Yankees record when I attend in 2013: 1-1 (36-23 all time)
- Blue Jays record when I attend in 2013: 1-0 (3-7 all time)
I also took a black light photo of the ball Overbay hit to me:
That’s all for now. See you next week at Yankee Stadium for Astros-Yankees. I’m planning on going Tuesday. If I don’t get a commemorative, I’ll be there Wednesday. I hope to get a commemorative ball!
It was game day, and here’s how it started:
I grabbed the Metro North to Yankee Stadium for the DBacks and Yankees. It was my first Yankee game of the year, and I was interested to see how the security was for the game. I kept hearing stories and rumors about how ridiculous it’s gotten, but I was interested to see for myself. When I got off, I noticed the Yankees had put up a tribute for the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy:
Classy move by the Yanks. I headed around to Gate 2, and I was aiming to be the first one in line. And I was: After about a half hour or so, I came across Zack Hample and we hung out until the gate opened. He’s taking part in this charity fundraising through BIGS Sunflower Seeds. They sent him a big bucket of them to try, and I was lucky enough to get a sample from his fist ever bag:
Pardon my lack of excitement. I’ve just been really tired and out of it lately. I’m not sure why. Eventually, the gates opened, yet Zack got to the left field seats before me. I don’t know what my deal is when I enter the stadium, I’m always fumbling with my bag, or ticket, or glove. I have to be better. Anyway…
I ran to left and found myself in front of David Robertson, and some other player I couldn’t identify. A few balls came to him, but he wasn’t tossing much up. There were no home runs getting hit to my area either. A very dull BP, if you ask me. I was disappointed because I had plenty of aisle space, but no reason to run in it: You can see Zack in the picture next to the “ZooYork” sign. I was tempted to run to right field, but A) the Yanks weren’t hitting anything over there, and B) with only 45 minutes until I got kicked out of the section, it wasn’t worth it to run over. After a while, another group of players wound up in front of me: And I got David Phelps to toss me ball #1 on the day: Cool. There was about 20 more minutes of lifeless BP from the Yanks, so after they ran off I headed over to the Arizona dugout:
Now, take a look to the left. See #5? That’s Steve Sax.I asked him if I could have his ball when he was done, and he said no. Later on, he ignored kids and everyone else and fungoed balls from the outfield to the infield. Lame. Since security sucks, I got kicked out of the field seats and ran up to here:
I was hoping a lefty on the DBacks (Chavez, Goldschmidt) would pop one up to me, but nothing happened. I saw Zack catch a few just feet from my grasp, however. BP ended, and I was on 1 ball. I headed over here for the “Harkey”:
During the game, I was bored so I headed up to the highest spot of the stadium:
- 2 balls at this game
- 4 balls this season
- 85 career balls
- Yankees record when I attend in 2013: 1-0 (36-22 all time)
- Diamondbacks record when I attend in 2013: 0-1 (1-3)
I checked these balls for invisible stamps, as well. Only one had a visible stamp:
Until next time…
It was 2013. It was a new season. A fresh start. But I opted to start it here:
I wasn’t about to spend 50+ bucks to watch the Yankees get beat by Boston again across town. I decided to go for the more cost-efficient, $10 ticket vs. the Padres. I got to the park around 3:30. Did I get there early enough? You decide:
The wind was blowing in. This was going to put a damper on BP, not to mention it felt like it was 20 degrees out with the wind. I had around 4 to 5 layers of clothing on, so it limited my movement a bit. Shortly after, I met up with Zack Hample (you should know him by now) and hung out at the gates for a bit. He had some friends with him, who are also ballhawks. Here is a picture from his blog of everyone there:
It was nice to meet some new ballhawks, but it was gonna be a crowded night in the stands. Onto BP…
I decided to head to right field instead, since everyone was gunning for left. I let Zack in ahead of me, and he wound up getting 2 balls off the bat in 10 seconds. When I got to right, this is what I saw:
I couldn’t figure out how to get that one. I looked around for a worker, or to ask a player to try and get it for me, but I eventually gave up. I later got my first ball of 2013 from bullpen coach Ricky Bones:
Things died down a bit after that. Any ball that came out there was going to Bones, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to get 2 from him. So I noticed nobody was up in the second deck in left, so I decided to try my luck there:
Nobody looked up at me. The Padres did their tossing and usual things, but maybe it was because of the weather or because they are the Padres and they know they suck, but they didn’t toss much up. I was still the only one up there, and I felt like I was wasting my time. I then went down in front of the Party City Deck:
… but they threw it too far to the left. As for the game, the weather got much colder. I didn’t take many pictures, or move around much, although I should’ve. Everyone else was going for third out balls. I set my goal for 1 earlier in the day since all the ballhawks were in attendance, so I was happy with my hot chocolate:
The rows around me were all empty, except for a guy in his mid-forties trying to hit on these two girls, and two equally annoying guys behind them trying every cliché icebreaker in the book. More importantly, I would mostly be uncontested for a third out ball. So after David Wright grounded out to end the 6th inning, I quickly went down to the dugout, looked to my left, saw Zack next to me, and to my right was some kid who thought it would be a good idea to step on my shoes and elbow me in the head. As Yonder Alonso tossed the ball to my right, the kid elbowed me in the neck, the ball rolled off the dugout, onto the ground, and I put my sneaker over it, pinning it to the ground. The kid then managed to knock me down onto my ass, yet when I got up, I couldn’t see who it was. ANYWAY, I had the last laugh:
- 2 balls at this game
- 2 balls in 2013
- 83 career balls
- Mets record when I attend in 2013: 1-0 (12-16 all time)
- Padres record in 2013: 0-1 (1-1 all time)
I also checked these balls for invisible ink:
So, this was a small project that I had wanted to do for some time. With midterms *briefly* slowing down until tomorrow, I had some time to get this done. If you read Zack Hamples blog, you know he does this thing where he shows you the invisible ink stampings on the balls he snags. If you aren’t sure, here is an excerpt from one of his posts about it:
I learned about the invisible ink while doing research for my new book — and then I got to see the ink being stamped on the balls when I visited the Rawlings baseball factory in Costa Rica. There are 350 employees at the factory who do nothing but stitch baseballs all day — by hand. Every employee has a stamp with a unique serial number. When the balls are done being stitched, they get stamped with invisible ink. That way, if an inspector finds a “correctable flaw” on a ball (for example, a stitch that’s not quite tight enough), he can examine it under a black light, mark down the serial number, and send it back to the person who stitched it. It’s basically an extra method of quality control. Even though every ball gets stamped with the ink, you won’t always see it on the balls you get a hold of — that is, if you bother to go out and get yourself a black light. That’s because every ball gets wiped with a cleaning solvent at the factory. The purpose of the solvent isn’t to remove the invisible ink. Rawlings doesn’t care about that. The solvent is used to remove excess wax or oil that might’ve found its way onto the cowhide cover, and in the process, the invisible ink is often rubbed off. – Zack Hample
So there you have it. Which, would also explain why out of the 81 balls I have snagged, only 16 have visible stamps under a UV Light. The light was actually very cheap, and it works great. I got it on Amazon, the link is here if you’re interested. So, I took some photos of the ones that have stamps. Here we go:
Important news – give this a read! Shared from “Take the 7 to Citi’s” post:
To save you time explaining, I had managed to get a quick job working in some capacity at Yankee Stadium for the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game. Did I actually work? Well…
Here was a picture from the night before after the Home Run Derby:
It was absolutely awesome to be the ONLY person in the seating bowl of historic Yankee Stadium. I just stood there and looked around for a few minutes and soaked in the silence, knowing I would never be able to do something like that ever again. It was very surreal. Now that I think of it, I should have walked around and explored more and tested how far I could go. Oh well.
I actually had to work the night of the Home Run Derby, so when someone came up to me and told me Josh Hamilton hit 28 home runs in one round, I had assumed he was hammered. But yes, he did. And I was pissed I missed it. The next day, I told myself I wasn’t going to miss anything. Not for a lifetime opportunity like this. I got to Yankee Stadium and took a picture of “the bat”:
I personally like that last one of A-Rod, Guillen, and Jeter. I couldn’t go down to field level for BP. At least I thought at the time. I should’ve went down now that I think about it to try and get a ball. Oh well. Here’s another view of BP:
He was one of the coolest guy I’ve met. The whole time during the introductions, I was standing right next to him. He was like a kid in a candy shop when the names were being called (if you don’t recall the ceremony, every living Hall of Fame player was introduced). It was pretty cool to see a guy appreciate the game so much. Just look at him, got the cracker jacks and everything. Dudes a gamer. Here was some of the ceremony:
If you’ll recall, the game went until the 15th inning when Michael Young hit a walk-off sac fly. So I got to watch about 10 innings of the game. Pretty awesome I’d say. I’ll trade a BP ball for that any day. I even got to keep these name-tag things with the All-Star game logo on it:
I was looking through some old pictures and was thrilled to find some old pictures of me at the old Yankee Stadium, and coincidentally, this was the last “game” I attended at the stadium (I was at the 2008 All-Star Game, but that is an interesting story for another day in a future post). Also, I’m sure you remember Natalie from earlier posts. This was actually one of our first dates, so that’s exciting as well. I’ll have to give her credit for tagging along with me to baseball games from the get go. It was her first (and last) time at Old Yankee. Believe it or not, I actually tried ballhawking at this game (with no glove). Here we go…
And hung out there for a little while. I knew that this was probably my last time there, so I tried to savor every moment of it. It was such a historic place, and it was going to be gone forever. I can still remember it now. I took some artistic photos:
Oh come on. I had to have it! Of all people, Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. was walking over to me. At the the time, I had zero balls snagged in my life. What a name to get your first from, huh? So here he was:
After BP had ended, I headed up to my seats:
…at my last game ever. I discreetly scrounged together some pieces of concrete wall from the outside and some infield dirt before they tore it down, so I’ll always have a piece of the REAL Yankee Stadium forever.
- 0 balls at this game (I was a rookie!)
I was looking through some old pictures and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t posted about when I went to Nationals Park back in 2011.
I went with Natalie and her brother and sister. You’ve probably seen them before in my entry on 7/28/12. Earlier in the day, we did some tourist-y things around Washington D.C.:
Yes, I took that. Feel free to use it.
Here’s some more:
The reason we look so miserable is that it was around 102 degrees and humid for the day. Tack 5 hours or so of that and you get some cranky people. Onto the ballgame…
I took the Metro to the “Navy Yard” station:
… and when I got off, I was greeted with this:
Sweet. As usual with any new stadium I visit, I walked around the outside and snapped some pictures.
The years listed on the ground are specific milestone years in Washington baseball history. I’ll spare you the history lesson for when you go yourself. Here is one for example:
Here I am in my sweaty, tired glory:
And I walked around to the First Base gate:
And ran into a “Nats-Mobile”:
But finally it was time for snagging. I ran inside and got my bulky Jayson Werth bobblehead and made my way here:
(Note the ridiculous David Wright shirt the Mets coach has on.) The Mets were in their usual un-friendly mood, so I waited for Nats BP to start:
I maneuvered a bit and positioned myself in front of the “Red Porch”:
The sun was beating down on me at this point. I’m not kidding, I don’t know how people down here live like this. Probably the hottest I’ve ever been in my life. But I kept going. I almost caught 2 home runs, and missed a Drew Storen toss-up.
Keep in mind, at least at the time I was here, Nationals Park only opens the left field side of the park for the first 45 minutes or hour or whatever the policy was. So, when it was time to head to right field, I started making my way over. There was already a line of kids ready to make a rush for Easter eggs, so I decided to head upstairs and try my luck there:
Not gonna lie, Nats Park is a pretty looking place. BP continued, and I noticed Livan Hernandez shagging flies in Center. I decided to try the “name trick”, since we both shared the same last name. He thought it was funny, since I told him I had the i.d. to prove it. Which would be ridiculous, since I was in the upper deck… you get the idea. But most importantly, it worked, and he tossed me my first ball of the day. After that, things quieted down, and the Nationals were done. I headed down to the lower deck, which calmed down as well, and hung out here:
One of the Met players (can’t recall who) hit a shot to center field, and it fell between where I was, and the batters eye. I couldn’t reach it, so I asked a groundskeeper:
… and he tossed me my 2nd ball of the day. I then headed over by the Mets dugout, mainly because it was so oppressively hot. I was sunburned, and I needed some shade.
Shortly after, BP was over, and it was time do do some exploring.
Here were our seats for the game:
… and I was completely fine just relaxing. It was a looooong day, and I was pleased with my total of 2. Later, I got to see my first “Presidential Race”:
Poor Teddy still had none (he’s won by now). After a few innings, I decided to walk around and take some pictures and take advantage of the free “cooling station” the Nationals were offering:
See that cup of ice? Heaven. We walked around to the back concourse, full of concessions:
I broke and bought a “Curly W” pretzel, which I thought was cool:
Later, I headed up to the top to take my usual stadium picture:
and a lovely panoramic shot:
…and here I am with Natalie:
How cute. And before I knew it, the game was over. Here I am with my #6 sign, at the time it was the 6th stadium I had visited. Note the high level of tired-ness:
Overall, I like Nationals Park a lot. I give it an A.
- 2 balls at this game
So – Instead of making several posts about each time I got something in the mail, I decided to just wait until things wore off for a bit, and then I would just show everything at once. That being said, here goes -
Here are all the package envelopes:
The Red Sox and Braves sent me dirt from the infield at Fenway Park and Turner Field, respectively -
Some stress balls from the LA Clippers and Washington Wizards:
A random assortment: A Dallas Mavericks “slap band”, Atlanta Falcons & Indianapolis Colts keychains, A Chicago Cubs light switch cover, Dodgers keychain, Luggage tags, and some wristbands (Dodgers, Clippers, Thunder, Packers, Wizards), and a Buffalo Bills license plate:
Wizards and Texas Rangers lanyards:
Stickers from too many teams to name:
Some magnetic schedules:
2 team magazines (Nationals and Pistons):
The Chicago Bulls sent me a team yearbook!
A DC United string bag and Wizards T-Shirt:
A “Weather Education” book from the Indians, 2 Reds retirement ceremony packets, and a Eagles folder:
Some game programs:
A few pens:
A poster and a Reds Homer-hanky:
And some thank you cards and letters:
A DC United hat:
and a Eagles poster (I hate the Eagles, feel free to take this off my hands):
… and that’s all. H/t to Nick Badders for the idea. Pretty cool!
As for future posts, I’m working on getting a UV light to look for some stamping, and for games, these are the ones I have planned so far:
4/3 SD @ NYM
5/17 BOS @ MIN
5/19 NYM @ CHC
5/20 BOS @ CHW
5/21 LAD @ MIL
6/29 NYY @ BAL ?
First, Happy New Year to everybody. Hopefully 2013 is just as successful as 2012 was. Here are the stats for my blog for 2012 – (Keep in mind I started writing in July).
Special thanks to Paul K, Mateo, Zack, Harrison, and “Cbeltran15″ for commenting the most. I never thought I’d have readers!
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Sorry – there’s been no baseball games. However, I’m waiting for my UV black light to come so I can do some stamp searching. So there will be a post for that. In the meantime, I was stumbling around the MLBlogs, and saw Nick Badders posting about “Fan Packs”:
He talked about sending emails to every MLB team requesting fan packs or leftover giveaways. This got me thinking. So that night, I went out and sent emails to every MLB, AAA, AA, and High-A team. As of right now, I’ve gotten replies from the following teams, followed by their responses.”
So, over the past week or so when I’ve had spare time, I’ve been sending all the teams messages.
So the other day, I finally got some mail:
But who could it be from?
…oh. So I opened it up, and here was what was inside:
So the Orioles sent me, if you’re keeping track: A thank you letter, a pocket schedule (not pictured), an ad for the Orioles fan club for kids, 2 stickers, and an Adam Jones card. Pretty cool. Next, I opened this up:
So, this one was from the Detroit Tigers. When I opened it up, there was a very lengthy friendly thank you letter, 2 pocket schedules, and an Alex Avila card. I plan to use these player cards for autographs if I can manage to meet these players.
I got an electronic fan pack from the Giants, and it consisted of a letter, and a printable picture of their mascot, and the 2012 schedule. Lame. They only just won the World Series, you think they could splurge a little bit. I can’t wait to color that “Lou Seal” picture……..
I then noticed that the Padres do not honor Fan Pack requests. Even more lame.
Then in the NFL department, I have received one reply from the Seattle Seahawks:
“Hello! Thanks for your email and support. Unfortunately we do not have any fan packs available at this time. We encourage you to visit our Pro Shop at Seahawks.com for the latest Nike gear and merchandise.
Seattle Seahawks/CenturyLink Field Customer Service”
…Yea, I’ll get right on that. As of right now, here is the list of teams I have sent fan pack requests to:
Baltimore, NY Yankees, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Chicago W. Sox, Kansas City, Detroit, Minnesota, Cleveland, Houston, LA Angels, Oakland, Seattle, Texas, NY Mets, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Chi Cubs, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee, SF Giants, San Diego, LA Dodgers, Colorado, Arizona
Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
New York Giants
New York Jets
Saint Louis Rams
San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Working on the NBA/NHL tonight and in the coming days. I’m also going to post some photos of stuff soon. Thanks for reading!
It was most likely (maybe not) my last game of 2012, and I was spending it here since the Yankees were on the road in Minnesota:
I ran to the left field bleachers and positioned myself here:
There wasn’t much action to begin with, but there were a few homers. My view to the left was the same as the one to my right in the photo above, so when David Wright hit a home run into the eye black, I ran over to my left, and stood by the edge of the railing. The following picture is an old photo of the eye black, but I’m using it to give you perspective:
So, obviously, I was standing where the arrow says “me”, and the ball was where… well, yea. I asked the guard if I could go get it since the rumor was you were allowed to go down there. He said no, but then he went down and tossed it up to me for #1 on the day. As he tossed it up, a kid in Pirates gear was running around from the other side of the apple. I guess you’re allowed to run on to the eye black as long as you don’t go down the Party City Deck. Whatev.
The Mets ran off the field after a whopping 7 minutes. So I took some time to enjoy my free box of Cracker Jack:
Then, the Pirates came out:
Lots of homeruns, no action towards me. For some reason, the crowd in BP was immense for a Tuesday night September 25th game between the 75-78 Pirates and the 70-83 Mets. It was just one of those nights. Eventually I was surrounded by kids, then a family of like 24 surrounded me on my left, and I kept barely missing home runs, and I got too fed up. I tried to move myself over here:
I headed over by the dugout, when this caught my eye:
I had some time to kill after BP, so I took some pics:
But none of them had any baseballs. Eventually, Pedro Alvarez (who would’ve been a GREAT name to add to my list) had a ball in his hand, autographed it and then threw it to a little kid. Dayyyyyum. I sat here during the game:
I also got this cool picture of Andrew McCutchen:
I moved over here to try and get a ball from umpire Greg Gibson:
The Pirates made their way out:
I had set out earlier this year in April to have a personal goal to snag 50 baseballs this season. To start the season, I had 21 career balls. Now, I have 81. I snagged 60. Some people snag this in a 4 game series. But I’m proud of myself. 2012 has been fun, It’s going to suck big time to wait until 2013. Unless I sneak one more game in this year
- 2 balls at this game
- 81 career balls
- 9 straight games at Citi with a ball
- 15 straight MLB games with a ball
- Mets record when I attend: 2-8 in 2012, 12-17 overall
- Pirates record when I attend: 1-0 in 2012, 1-1 overall