Today was possibly the worst ballhawking day possible. A few days prior, I had bought the tickets because it was my only day off from work. What I neglected to do was check the weather. The forecast for the game was rainy with temperatures barely exceeding 40 degrees. With wind. I’m an idiot.
I brought my friend James with me to the game, and it was his 1st ever MLB game. I don’t think I could have brought him on a worse evening.
After waiting outside the gates in excruciatingly cold winds, the gates opened and I already knew there wouldn’t be BP. And there wasn’t. After a few minutes, though, the Mets came out and started tossing. So I figured at least they’d play the game. I was mainly concerned at this point with getting 1 ball and keeping my streak alive. Here was the scene shortly after:
Closer to me, I had Jose Valverde (who isn’t really regarded as fan-friendly) tossing with Bartolo Colon. I wondered if Colon remembered me from Montréal. Everyone who was tossing then did the following:
A) overthrew the ball into left field and left it there
B) threw it behind to foul territory.
So that was that for the pre-game toss. Still off the board.
Eventually, the tarp came off: I was situated out by the Mets bullpen. I was literally the only person there besides James (who left to get fried dough), and some other kid who was wearing a black jacket. I had on my Mets gear. I signaled over to Ricky Bones who had a few balls in his hand. He was about to throw to me one when he pointed at something, and then threw it to the other kid.
I situated myself here for the pre-game tosses by the infielders (who at this point only had one ball with them). You would think that since it was 40 degrees out you would want your arm to be warm. But nobody tossed at all, and Brandon Phillips tossed the ball to his right (my left) out of reach. At this point I’d have to get a gamer in order to keep my streak alive.
I sat here during the game: As you can see, it was raining, and hardly anyone was there. This was tough because the guards were more lax than they usually are, and let people move down. Therefore, after every half inning the lower part of the section near the dugout was mobbed, and for some reason Todd Frazier kept throwing balls to the same two people, and Joey Votto wouldn’t throw anything at all. He seems like a jerk. Hopefully I’m wrong. I was wearing a Reds shirt, and the security guard in my section saw the previous two 3rd out balls tossed right at me get caught by other people. He tapped me on the shoulder and told me to get right in front, which was nice of him. At the end of the 7th inning, I got 1st base coach Billy Hatcher to toss me this: …it wasn’t a gamer, but a warm-up ball. And I’ll gladly take it. Streak intact. The weather was nice and co-operative:
There was two innings left, so after being cold and wet, James hung out under the overhang and I hung out here chasing foul balls: I didn’t get a foul ball. I headed over to the umpires tunnel at the end of the game, and home plate ump John Tumpane handed a ball to the guy directly in front of and behind me.
A day to forget mostly at Citi.
- 1 ball at this game
- 189 career balls
- 44 straight MLB games with a ball
Game 2 of the Olympic Stadium series was going to be as exciting as the previous day. The game plan for today was to meet Todd and his kids, Avi, and Michel at the same gate and hope that batting practice would be scheduled for today, a day game after a night game. I figured it would still be on, since the series was a special occasion. After the quick subway ride up to the stadium, we were in the familiar spot again waiting for the gates to open: When the gates opened, I ran inside and was excited to see the cages were still up. The Blue Jays were off the field already if they even hit, and the Mets were out tossing: Since there was nobody hitting in the cage immediately, I decided to head over and find Scott Rice and see if he remembered his promise from the day before. He was over on the end tossing: Do you see the two balls in his back pockets? He turned around when he got the chance, saw me, and tossed me one and just like that, I was already on the board on a day where there was an expected crowd of 50,000 people plus. Not bad. To make things more exciting, it was a Red Sox Fenway Park 100th Anniversary ball!
BP was about to start, so I headed out to left field: One of the negatives about this game was that since there was an incident in the game before, the cross aisles were off limits to fans. this was going to put a huge blow in everybody’s totals, since it would take quite a home run to reach the seats without landing in the cross aisles or below. There were also too many fans for toss ups. It was going to be a tough day for sure. I’ll show you what I mean: See the cross aisles? Empty. A few minutes later, someone on the Mets who I couldn’t identify hit a homer that landed in front of the bleachers, and rolled under the seats and back to the back end where there really isn’t anything. I ran up the stairs, looked over the back railing and noticed that it rolled to a stop by the “Genie Boom:” This semester I happened to be taking a course in French. I knew it would come in handy at some point on this trip. Walking by was a newspaper photographer (I assume, he had a camera in his hand and looked official). I called over to him…
Puis-je avoir la balle s’il vous plaît!
S’il vous plaît!
He tossed the ball up to me, but it was too short. I was nervous others would catch on and take it from me, but he got it to me in time: As you can see, it was a Marlins Park commemorative. Shortly afterwards, the Mets jogged off and BP was over.
We all decided that it was time to explore Olympic Stadium, something I didn’t get to do the day before. This was alright with me, since it was still a spring training game. Kellan wanted to have a catch (maybe it was Todd) in the concourse, so to kill some time that’s where we all headed: …the best part of this was that several security guards walked right past us, even through us at times and didn’t say a word. Could you imagine doing that at Yankee Stadium? You’d spend the night at Rikers. We kept walking around, and I saw a lot of Expos gear: I somehow got down low by the field for pregame warmups, along with Avi and Greg. Avi snagged something special from Stade Olympique as well, but you’ll have to ask him about it. Nobody got a pregame toss up, so we decided before we get kicked out of the seats, we all wanted to head up to the furthest spot up in left field: It was hilarious sitting up there. It was dusty. The seats were dirty. We all actually got kicked out of our seats in the last row of the stadium. Cross that off the bucket list. It was time to walk around the entire stadium to the other side. Check out the concourse: Weird. Ugly. Bizarre. Beautiful.
Check out the cool panorama I took from right field: The structure is so interesting to me. You have the arching step like roof, the blue colored roof, the weird lighting structures, the hanging speakers, the random center field scoreboard jutting out and obstructing view… I loved it. it’s a shame there isn’t more baseball here. On the concourse, they even had doors built into the walls: When we got down to the second level, we went behind the right field bleachers until we were told to leave: I decided to try and snag a ball over where todd did the day before in left: I didn’t have much luck. We did however, see a Melky Cabrera home run come sort of our way as you can see on tv: That’s us circled, obviously. There’s also all of this random stuff behind the center field batter’s eye: Renovating for future MLB games? I can only hope. By this point, we missed like 7 innings of the game. We headed down by the dugouts for the end of the game, and the Blue Jays pulled off the win. Final score:
I saw this on one of the seats… wishful thinking, perhaps: …since it rained/snowed the day before, and today was sunny (but still 29 degrees), i had to walk around the outside and take some pictures like I always do. Check it out:
- 2 balls at this game
- 3 balls this season
- 3 commemorative balls
- 188 career balls
It was here… the first professional game played at Le Stade Olympique since the beloved Expos left for Washington, DC in 2004. I was always itching to see a game there, but in 2004, I was 15 years old and unable to leave the country by myself. I hoped and hoped every year that some kind of game… high school… alumni… college… ANYTHING would be played there. And I got my wish over the winter. The Mets and the Blue Jays were playing two exhibition games there in hopes of showing Major League Baseball that there was still a large interest in having a team there. I bought my tickets (for both games) the day they went on sale. I figured since I couldn’t go on the dream trip to Australia for Dodgers/D-Backs, this was more than ok. After getting out of my horrible grad school class and driving up through the rain for 5 hours, Natalie and I arrived in Montreal and threw on our baseball stuff for the first time in 2014: I wasn’t worried about the weather, we were going to see a game inside a dome. The temperature outside was around 39 degrees and raining for our walk to the train station: … and eventually our comfortable subway ride to the Pie-IX stop:
I didn’t know what to expect when I got there. Would it be crowded? I read articles that the company who headed the two games, Evenko, sold over 90,000 tickets for the two games. Where would I go when I got inside? Which gate is best to get to the outfield? What’s security like? The cool thing was that nobody else knew, either. So I was eager to get there. When you get off the subway, the station is built into the bottom of Olympic Stadium. So I was greeted with this:
I was surprised when we got up to the lobby that it was packed. Like, seriously crowded. Out of sheer luck, I spotted Todd, his two kids, Avi Miller, and a new Montreal ballhawk (!) named Michel Audet. He somehow knew some stuff about Olympic Stadium, so we hung with him. He’s a nice kid. The buzz for the game itself was getting so much attention. We were right at the front of the line, so I am definitely in pictures and on TV somewhere in Canada. I couldn’t find it, though. Check it out: The atmosphere was electric. Every person who had Expos gear on was getting interviewed by someone. There were chants of “We want baseball!” and “Let’s go Expos!!” every two seconds. I couldn’t wait to see how the game would be. We got there so early because we wanted to be first inside for BP, so waiting around for almost two hours felt like an eternity. I was first in line, when another familiar face came by, by the name of Greg Barasch. So it was almost like a mini-ballhawking convention. We were lined up away from the actual gates: Eventually, before the gates were supposed to open, they checked bags and let us move up to where it says “Stade”. There, we waited longer and everyone got restless, as you can see by this guard trying to calm everyone down: I ran into that guard several times this weekend, and he was really nice. he also tried to sell us his hideous jacket for $10. Seriously. Like I said, I was first in line: The whole set up was bizarre. I felt like I was waiting in line to board a plane or something. The tickets weren’t even scannable either, they had to be ripped. And the lady took forever to rip it. Canada is interesting. At long last, I was inside:
Here’s how it looked towards home plate: Awesome. I kept distracting myself with taking pictures that I almost forgot to snag. I headed over to left field, but look at this cross aisle: if only one of the New York stadiums had a cross aisle like that… I could have 300 baseballs. More on that cross aisle in Game 2. The outfield wall is very high, and the gap between the wall and the stands is pretty far. Check it out: See the two silver lines? The stands actually move on those and expand and contract outward for soccer and football games. I was talking with Avi about the gap and how they’re not allowed in Major League stadiums…. (again, more on that in Game 2). I also got a kick out of the *killer* sound system they had installed: A speaker and duct tape. Got it. Even that random sign under it was funny. I loved it. I also lost Natalie. More on that later. Eventually, I did snag my first ball of the day: It was a toss-up by Bartolo Colon. It was hard, because the Mets brought guys up to Montreal who weren’t going to be on the Opening Day roster, and I couldn’t look them up on my phone since I was in Canada. #firstworldproblems
…As well as a 2011 All-Star Game ball. When I opened my glove, i had a 50th Anniversary Dodger Stadium ball. I already had it, but it was still cool. Heres a better look at the gap between the wall and the seats: That’s pretty wide, and uncovered. Besides navigating between a mob of fans, if you ran backwards to catch a ball on the fly (which didn’t happen much… the balls were dying out at the warning track for the most part), you had to remember these random glass panels that were in the way: I ran into them twice. At the end of BP, Mets pitcher Scott Rice came up the stairs and was talking to a fan: …And remembered me from the day he had a catch with me. How cool is that? He also promised to toss me a commemorative ball the next game, if I was going (of course I was going). I then remembered that I still didn’t know where Natalie was, and couldn’t call her since I was in Canada. We had a plan to meet at our seats, which we did… which were up top: Nice view. they also did a nice Gary Carter tribute pregame… but did i sit there the whole game? NA. I sat here at the beginning of the game: Now that’s more like it. I got down there just in time to see the first baseball pitch in Montreal since 2004: I was sitting near Greg and Avi (Avi managed to snag a piece of one of the seats. Shh.) after not succeeding in a 3rd out ball because of wayyyy too many kids, we wandered out to here: …where I just missed out on a Jose Bautista homer hit over my head, and an Edwin Encarnacion homer that would have landed in my lap had it carried further. I saved my exploring for Day 2, but here’s what it looks like behind the left field bleachers: Random. Unsightly. Ugly. I love it. Here’s another view: Yes, that’s the bullpen in the background. More on that in Game 2. the game itself was actually pretty entertaining. The Jays won on a walk-off single up the middle. Final score:
I was pleased with my 1 snag: …and took a picture with the guys quick before getting back at it in less than 12 hours… what a day: From left to right, if you don’t recognize anyone: Greg, Me, Kellan, Todd, Tim, Michel rocking the Expos jersey, and Avi. Natalie took the picture. Day 2 next!
- 1 ball at this game (I’m counting it. BP was crazy, and there was 45,000 people.)
- 1 ball in 2014
- 186 career balls
9/14/13 at Citi Field (MIA @ NYM), 9/25/13 at Yankee Stadium (TB @ NYY), and 9/27/13 at Citi Field (MIL @ NYM)
Man, what grad school will do to you. I’m currently writing about these games almost 6 months after I attended these. Life has been a whirlwind with school, taking 15 credits, learning French… oh, and I got engaged. Did I mention that? So you’ll be seeing a lot more of Natalie in my posts. But on to baseball…
I knew that initially when I bought these tickets, It was a 4:05 start. So there was a decent chance of BP. But the night before, it rained and they called for a day/night double header. This was cool because it was single admission, so I got to watch 2 games for the price of 1. But there was likely going to be no batting practice. I’d have to really try to keep my streak alive.
Unfortunately, my laptop between September and now died… and I lost all of my pictures from this game, and the next. Eventually, Todd Cook will send me some pictures he snapped and I can throw them in. But basically I hung out with him and his boys for 18 innings of baseball. It was pretty fun. There was a little BP for this game, it ended early. The Marlins never came out. And I can recall it was “Take your dog to the park” day. But here is what I snagged on the day:
Ball 1 – Dillon Gee toss up
Ball 2 – Homer hit to left field (unknown player)
Ball 3 – Tom Goodwin toss up
Ball 4 – Greg Burke toss up
Ball 5 – Donovan Solano pregame warmup ball
Ball 6 – Jake Marisnick threw me the 3rd out ball when Juan Lagares flied out to end the 6th inning for the Mets. That one felt good :)
The Marlins beat the Mets 3-0 in game 1, and the Mets won 3-1 in Game 2. This day was really fun, and I’m disappointed that I lost my pictures.
Rays @ Yankees
Honestly, I don’t remember anything about this game. The only thing I remember was that I caught an Alex Rodriguez BP homer on the fly in what was likely one of his last games as a MLB player. Other than that, I can’t remember a thing.
Yankees lost, 8-3.
Ball 1 (180) – A-Rod BP homer on the fly
Ball 2 (181) – unknown toss up from TB
Ball 3 (182) – unknown toss up from TB
Brewers @ Mets
You’ll never believe what happened at this game, and I have zero pictures to prove it. That’s how life is, I guess. I went to this game last second because there was going to be nobody there. This game meant nothing to both teams, so I thought it’d be a good day of snagging. BP was probably the weakest I’ve ever seen, and I got 1 ball hit into the seats that I caught off a ricochet, and I got a Brewers relief pitcher to toss me a ball in right center during the Brewers’ portion of BP.
I snuck down behind the Brewers’ dugout easily, and watched the game from there. During the course of the game, this kid who was sitting by himself, no more than 13 years old was just heckling all of the Mets players. He was pretty funny too. I can’t remember how, but we got to talking. He showed me that his cousin was Yuniesky Betancourt of the Brewers. They were in town for the last road trip of the year and following the team. He was telling all sorts of crazy stories from the locker room, and told me how they felt about the Carlos Gomez incident, which was pretty cool too.
At the end of the game, jokingly I said “You should take me to the locker room.” And he said he would. So at the end of the game, I found him just as I was leaving Citi Field. I happened to turn around and he was about to enter down by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda with his father (Yuni’s brother). I ran over quick, and got stopped by the security guard. I told him I was with the Betancourts and pointed to them… at this point, the kid turned around and recognized me and waved back, leading to the guard letting me in. So here I am just sitting here in the tunnel outside of the Brewers locker room. All the players are walking past me to the bus, but no Betancourt yet. The kid came back out, said it’d be a few more minutes, but handed me a ball from the locker room. I didn’t care, I counted it. I had to move out of the way so a small cart could get through, and when I did this, the Betancourts came out and were whisked away by security. I didn’t really see any point in hanging around any more, so I went outside and met up with Zack and had a catch in the parking lot for about a half hour:
and later headed home.
Ball 1 (183) Unknown Met
Ball 2 (184) Unknown Brewer
Ball 3 (185) Betancourt’s cousin
I will never lose pictures again. Lesson learned. On to 2014!
A week had passed, and I was back at Citi Field: I had bought tickets for this game before the Phillies game, as a backup in case I didn’t snag any commemoratives in Philadelphia. I saw Zack was at the gates a few minutes after me, so we did the usual hanging out before the gates opened. I already knew he was going to left field, so I tried my luck in right field (which was a wise choice because a group of lefties was hitting) and headed down here: …and got Tim Byrdak to toss me my first ball of the day. In usual Mets fashion, nobody hit any homers, so I didn’t overuse my toss up requests in right field. I hung out there for a little more and moved into center field and feasted my eyes on this: I was so tempted to use my cup trick to move it closer towards me, but I didn’t want to piss off the security guards. So I kept my eye on it for the time being, and focused on the field. A few Mets tossed balls up into my section, but I didn’t grab one. And… that was about it for Mets BP. I got a Mets groundskeeper/security guard to toss me the aforementioned ball to me for my 2nd ball of the day after the Mets jogged off.
It was the moment of truth, as the Nationals came out: They do this routine where one relief pitcher runs out as if he’s going on a football route, and another relief pitcher tosses them a ball, and so on. They ignored me for the most part, so I headed into the seats to try and snag some homers. For some reason, I made a ton of mistakes tonight. I misjudged two balls, and on a third, I could see Zack running towards me in my peripheral vision. So my natural instincts made me look over, and in that half second, I misjudged the homer and it tipped off my glove into the aisle. That one sucked. A couple of pitches later, I caught an Anthony Rendon homer on the fly in the 1st row in front of the Party City Deck. So I redeemed myself. For the record, the Nationals were NOT using commemorative balls, so I was glad I decided to go last second to Philadelphia the week before. I headed over by the dugouts, where I saw Jeff Kobernus talking to someone I’m assuming he knew: I asked him if he could toss me a ball when he got the chance, and he said he would. After he disappeared, I screwed around on my phone until I saw these guys come out: If you hadn’t noticed, it was 9/11. I was at the Mets game in 2012 on 9/11, coincidentally against the Nationals, and coincidentally because they were using old commemoratives. It was time to pay respects and view the ceremonies: I also failed to snag any of the pregame balls. Kobernus never came out, either (LIAR!). If you’re a kid (or look like one), hang back a bit and get Ian Desmond’s attention. You’ll probably get a ball. I sat out here for the game: Normally I sit by the dugouts, so why was I out here you ask? Take a look: The way the Nats were hitting this series, I couldn’t pass the opportunity up. Of course, nothing came my way, except a Ryan Zimmerman home run that landed in the party deck.
My day will come.
At the end of the game, I took a shot of the Shake Shack sign in center field, because it has the same piece of the scoreboard from Shea Stadium that shows the NYC skyline, so I felt it was my duty as a New Yorker to take this photo: and then I made the 1 hour drive home. Final score:
- 3 balls at this game
- 173 career balls
- 38 straight MLB games with a ball
Commemorative balls were all the rage this week with the Nationals. The rumor (and I’d seen on social media) was that they were using old commemorative balls for BP. They included: Mets 50th anniversary, Red Sox 100th anniversary, Target Field, HHH Metrodome, 2010 All-Star Game, 2010 World Series, and 2009 All-Star game balls. The Nats were in New York the next week, but what if they ran out? I couldn’t take the chance. So albeit a tad last second, I bought 2 very cheap outfield seats on StubHub, grabbed my friend Bryan, and hit the road for Philadelphia. I for some reason thought the gates opened at 4:45, where in fact they actually opened at 4:35…. So I was 10 minutes late. So, when I got inside, here was the action: It was one of those days where there was like 20 people in the crowd, yet everyone got ignored by the Phillies. I’d say about 5 minutes later, I snagged a Darin Ruf homer that bounced off a seat and was just mid-air for what seemed like an eternity, so I just snagged it without any competition for ball No. 1 on the day. It was nice to be on the board, so now I could focus on trying to snag me some commemoratives. After Carlos Ruiz hit, things pretty much died down for the Phillies part of BP where a lot of standing around was going on: …yea. Thankfully, the Nationals finally came out to toss, so I threw on my Nats gear, headed over to the foul line, and quickly got hooked up by this player: That player would be Erik Davis, watching Tyler Clippard stretch. I was also proud of myself for catching the first mygameballs.com ball from Erik Davis. That’s the first time that’s happened to me. For the record, this ball was not a commemorative. From the ones on the field I could see, it didn’t look like any of them were commemoratives. I waited for some to be hit into the stands, when I noticed that Rick Gold was there, along with Greg Barasch. So the competition was there. Just needed one to be hit out to me. So I waited and waited, and nothing. I was also eager to try my new cup trick I had made, but I didn’t even get an opportunity to use it because none reached the warning track. I then got another toss up from Fernando Abad: I noticed that right field was unusually empty, so I headed over there to try for something to get hit. I went to the “pizza wedge,” since it was up for grabs, this way I had access to all the players in center field, but I had no luck there: At the time, I wasn’t able to identify Davis, who threw me the ball earlier. So every time I asked Davis for a ball in right field, he ignored me. Now I understand why. I noticed Rick out in right field and he told me that maybe one or two went his way, but they took bad bounces. While i was there, none went out into the seats. Not one. BP was almost over, so I decided to head over here so I’d be able to get to the dugout quick: I tried getting Scott Hairston’s attention, and I couldn’t help but notice this one kid behind me. The entire section was empty mind you, but he insisted on standing right up my back in case I dropped the ball, I’m assuming. but I’d move over and he’d move with me. and it was the 2nd time in 2 games this had happened. It was so annoying. Anyway, I didn’t get one from Hairston, so I ran over quick to the dugout: …nothing there either. So, that was it for BP. It looked like my only chance now was next week in New York. Unless I tried over by the bullpens before the game. I headed back out to the pizza wedge, and watched Roy Halladay warm up: …and got Jesus Tiamo to FINALLY throw me a ball for my 4th of the day. I had such a hard time with him during ballhawkfest, especially when he’s this supposedly huge “fan-friendly” guy. I moved to the top of Ashburn Alley, positioned in front of the Nats bullpen. The starter came up, followed by Jim Lett (who I’ve had terrible luck with), and Nilson Robledo. I figured this was my chance, and it might not even be a commemorative. So I shouted NILSON! Flapped my glove, and he tossed me one from his back pocket. Take a look: !!!!!!!
Alright! It wasn’t all of them, but it was one of them. And it was a bit smudged, but you can still make it out. I was happy. I headed back over to my seats: It gave me great pleasure to walk right past the ushers that gave Zack a hard time and show them my ticket which was for an actual aisle seat and then they left me alone the rest of the night. I also had an amazing cross aisle the entire night to myself: And later on, in the 8th inning I believe, Ryan Zimmerman homered to the section right to my left. Here I am in the screenshot from the game feed: The blue arrow on the left is me. The blue arrow in the middle is the guy who caught it. and the red arrow was Rick Gold. I didn’t bother to run over at the time, because I thought I had to run past 2 ladies who were sitting down. On second looks though, I had a EMPTY row to run over, and to make matters worse, the guy bobbled the ball. Oh what could’ve been. Enough over analyzing. Here’s how we felt about it: I didn’t snag anymore balls the rest of the night, and made the 2 1/2 hour journey back home to New York. Final score:
- 5 balls at this game
- 37 straight MLB games with a ball
- 170 career balls
It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to sit down and catch up on posts. School, work, and life have been busy lately. But enough about that. On August 20, I noticed that the Mets played the next day at 1:10, and the Yankees played at 7:05. So, the gears started to turn and I decided I’d attempt to pull off the day/night split stadium NYC doubleheader. At the time, silly me thought I was the only one clever enough to think of that. Not quite the case…
I started the day early by taking the Metro-North down to Grand Central: Normally I drive to Citi, but I wasn’t about to deal with rush hour traffic heading to the Bronx and having to pay $40 to park. I’m not exaggerating either. So mass transit it was. I got to Citi field around the same time as all the workers were arriving, so I was early. After a while, I ran into a familiar person: That’s me, Rick Gold, Zack Hample, and Garrett Meyer, a ballhawk in town from Kansas City. We just hung out in the heat for a while, and eventually, the gates opened. I took a picture of my tickets: I knew since it was a day after a night game, there’d be little to no chance of BP going on. So when I ran inside, I headed over here: Just for the hell of it, I decided to look over to my left in the little alcove where the foul pole is, and I was greeted by this: …and strolled over and picked it up for ball No. 1 on the day. After a while, the Mets were done tossing, and I got Scott Rice to toss me my 2nd ball of the day: Now this snag was special. Right after I made the snag, Scott flapped his glove for me to throw it back. So I did. He pretended to put it away in his pocket, then threw it to me again. So I caught it. He then asked for the ball back, and to make a long story short, we had a catch for about 5 minutes. Now, at any other time, Zack would’ve had a ball by now. But at the moment, i had 2 and he had 0, so he was fiercely trying to snag in foul territory, especially since he had a reporter following him around. So, of course, since nobody else was in my section, I had no one to *officially* record me having a catch. But, right after, I asked Scott to autograph the ball, and he did: Awesome. I will now be a Scott Rice fan for life. If you don’t believe that I had a catch with Rice, ask Zack, he’ll vouch for me. i figured I’d exhausted my resources in this area of the ballpark, so I headed over by the bullpens and came up empty. A little later, two players were tossing by the 1st base area: I came up empty there, as well. Then, the field was desolate for the next 40 minutes. I decided to switch into my Braves gear and hung out here for a little while: Then some Braves emerged and threw out in the outfield: I decided to stay where I was instead of run over there, and I’m glad I did. Here’s what I think happened: Zack was out in the left center field seats, because he was trying to figure out how to get a coverless ball out of the bullpen gutter. The Braves came out to toss near him, and since he’s had a bit of a history with Craig Kimbrel, I honestly think they decided to move over towards me: …so he couldn’t bother them. If so, thanks, Zack. I was waiting for David Carpenter to finish tossing with Kimbrel, when Luis Avilan came over. When he noticed that he was the odd man out with no throwing partner, he saw my Braves shirt and threw me – and I mean threw me – my 3rd ball of the day: (That’s Avilan in the background, #43.) I was excited to get a ball from him, since he’s 5-0 this season with a 1.43 ERA as I write this. A couple of minutes later, I got Craig Kimbrel’s autograph: He was nice. As for the game, I headed to my usual pre-game spot for a toss-up: but came up empty. As for the game, I sat here: Nice. When I spoke to Zack earlier, we figured that the game would be in around the 8th inning or so when it was time to leave. At the very latest, I had to leave at 3:15 if I wanted to walk to the 7 train, take it the 45 minutes into Manhattan, and then grab the 4 up to Yankee Stadium in time to be on line at 4:30 for gate opening. And that’s exactly what happened. Although I forgot to mention Jason Heyward got hit in the face with a Jon Niese fastball and had to leave the game. It was a scary moment. I grabbed the 4 with Zack, Rick, and the reporter, and we got in line at Yankee Stadium. I was hungry, so I went up the block to a deli for a sandwich, and grabbed one for Zack, as well (with about 15 requests). Here we all are: The guy on the left is George (I think), one of Zack’s friends, me, Zack, Andy (you remember him from my last post) and George’s son.Rick took the picture. I decided to head up to the 2nd deck in right when the gates opened, since the bottom was already crowded thanks to the same security guard who made me empty my entire bag before entering: It was severely dead. I quickly realized my mistake in going up there, and ran back downstairs to lower right. And it was crowded. And nothing got hit out. I decided to run over to left field: where it was pretty dead too. A few minutes later, Chris Stewart hit a homer into the walkway closest to the bullpen, where I ran over and grabbed it: I was relieved to snag that one. I wanted to get a ball at both games to keep my streak up, which I knew would be hard to do given the circumstances (no BP, crowded) and I was surprised that up to this point, I’d snagged more at Citi Field. The Yanks were done and the Jays were on, and they threw nothing into the crowd. Not one ball. And they hit hardly anything out, as well which was hard to believe. Not to mention the crowds: There was no room to run. I was getting frustrated, and nothing was getting hit out. I remembered why I hated coming here. I couldn’t believe it!
I headed out to the Yankees bullpen for a Harkey ball and watched Adam Warren warm up for his 1st career start: I didn’t get Warren’s ball. Or Harkey’s. I had a teenage kid right on top of me and had no space. On a lighter note, during the game, I was privileged to be in attendance for this: Congrats. It was awesome to be there for it. And in true Yankees fashion, they had t-shirts and souvenirs for sale the next inning. Any way to make a buck, sheesh. And stupidly enough people were buying it. And, in the top of the 9th, I didn’t really think of it at the time, but I saw Mariano Rivera pitch in person for what could very well be the last time ever: He picked someone off of 2nd base (for the 1st time in his career) and got the save. Final scores:
- 4 balls on the day (3 at Citi, 1 at Yankee)
- 36 straight MLB games with a ball
- 165 career balls
It had been a long time since I’d been to Yankee Stadium. 3 months and 15 days, to be exact. The last game I saw there was 4/30/13 against the Houston Astros… so I thought it’d be time I get back there. I’d been going to Citi Field much more than usual because of the lighter security and lower prices. But I had an itch to ballhawk, and just the Yanks were in town, so I quickly made an Angels shirt (and then proceeded to forget it), and headed down to the Bronx…
Where I ran into a familiar friend: Yes, that’s Mateo. If you’re reading this blog for the first time, check back to other posts and you’ll find him in a lot of them. That photo was taken by a new friend named Andy, who takes a lot of good photos. I misplaced his business card, or else I’d post his email and he could probably take pics of you hawking at Yankee Stadium. We talked for a while until the gates opened, and this is where my bad ballhawking luck came into play. I was third in line, so I had the security guard check my bag (they check it very in depth) to save me time when the gates opened. Then, like 4 more people behind me did the same thing. So, when it was 5:05 and they started letting people in, she asked me to check my bag again. I told her she literally just looked at it 5 minutes ago, but she insisted that I get searched again. So I had to empty my bag out after just putting everything back in, and the whole thing cost me 5 minutes. Ridiculous. When I finally ran inside: …everyone was already in the right field seats. I saw Mateo already had snagged 2 balls, so I knew Easter eggs were out of the question. I decided to walk down in foul territory since that was still empty, and I was rewarded with this: It was just sitting there. Perhaps the security guard was a blessing in disguise? Who knows. I headed over to the right field seats, where it was already getting crowded: That’s Mateo in red, and me in blue. Neither of us caught that homer that we were all trying to catch. Things were slowing down a bit since the last group of Yankee hitters were about to get ready to hit. So while the coaches were refilling the ball bucket, I ran upstairs and decided to try my luck here (where I was then asked to show my ticket … really, Yankees?) : Sometimes Ichiro goes last and he can put on a show in BP, so I played my chances and had the entire section to myself. Of course, Ichiro had already hit. So, eventually when Boone Logan fielded a ball, I held my glove up and yelled his name. He saw me, only it was after he tossed a ball into the lower bowl. I through my arms up in disgust (playfully, mind you) and he held his finger up as to say, “one second.” The next ball he fielded, well…. Thanks Boone (that’s him in the background). Shortly after, the Yankees were done and the Angels were getting ready. As I mentioned, it was around this point in time that I realized I had forgotten my Angels shirt. I had missed the Metro North train which I intended to take, so I had to drive to the game, and making the shirt was the reason I was late. So the sole reason I was late for the train was the shirt and I had forgotten it. I had a good bit of running room to my right, but other ballhawks had gotten the better sections so I was confined to the section by the bullpen for a bit: And here’s a shot Andy got of me with the 2 balls I had snagged up to this point: …and a shot of me and Mateo talking: …if you’re wondering why my Yankee shirt is backwards, it was because I’d forgotten the Angels shirt and didn’t want the Angels players to see a Yankee logo. I’ll sum up the next 20 minutes quickly… I didn’t snag anything, and came very close about 4 times on homers. They were ricocheting all over the place, and Mateo beat me to two of them. One bounced off a seat, and I went to grab it on the ground and he got it before me. Then about 10 minutes later, there was a ball on the fly that I was panning to my left for, and I bumped hips with somebody who was a little taller than me, who just made the grab before me. When I looked to see who it was, it was Mateo. That’s just how things go sometimes. Here is a picture of me *playfully* calling him a curse word I probably shouldn’t write here: …and with that, BP was over. I headed over to the bleachers and tried the Harkey trick: but there were too many people. I usually go on the batters eye food court, but the Yankees finally decided they could make more money by renting out that space for private events, and that’s what happened tonight. So I was stuck in the crowded bleachers. As for the game, I hung around all sorts of places, and took a shot of Ichiro legging out an infield single: …just because Ichiro is the man. Then, I checked out the Steiner store and laid my eyes on this: I asked if the Yankees were going to use these in game action, and of course nobody had any idea. Or, they did, and just wanted me to buy one. Which I might do at the end of the year, but I don’t want to give them the satisfaction. Reminds me of the Chipper Jones ball the Braves had last year. Then the guy tried to sell me an autographed set of 9 for $4,000 (HAHAHAHAHA), and later made insulting comments about the school I go to. Sorry we all don’t have $75,000 bucks to spend on an ivy league school.
I found my way here at the end of the game: …where I hung out for about 5 innings. At one point, Ernesto Frieri was out warming up: I had looked away for a second, to put my phone in my backpack. It was in that short amount of time that Frieri was done warming up, looked to give me the ball, and couldn’t find me, and tossed it into the bleachers, much to the delight of the usher in my section. Sigh.
Also, it was this game where I forgot my digital camera in the cupholders in this section, where, thankfully, a good Samaritan picked it up, looked on the camera for my info, and mailed it back to me. Without their good natured honesty, I would have lost all my pictures from my Baltimore trip, Ballhawkfest, PNC Field, and Provident Bank Park. So if you’re reading this, you know who you are. Thank you.
- 2 balls at this game
- 160 career balls
- 34 straight games with a ball at an MLB game
Check out that big-league smudge!
After a weeks rest from my crazy 5 games in 5 days trip, I was ready for some more baseball. Today was a trip that my friends and I were planning for some time. We were heading to Rockland County, NY to see the new Can-Am League Rockland Boulders take on the Trois-Rivieres Aigles (3 Rivers Eagles, in Paris talk) for some good old fashioned action. My main goal for this game was to just get one ball, and more importantly, see what kind of ball they used for gameplay. Was it an official Rawlings ball? A cruddy Wilson ball? They weren’t affiliated with the MLB so I was interested in finding out, and opted NOT to google it and wait for the surprise. I knew going in that there’d definitely be no BP, since the gates were opening 4 hours early for some crappy Jimmy Buffett cover band and a little league game on the field. Which was ok. When I got there, here was the main gate: Not bad, I guess. I was still feeling under the weather at this point, so I hoped I’d be ok for the game. I kept walking past the “Lightpath Luxury Level”, which was empty: …Around to the back, where if there was BP, would probably be an ideal spot for balls that cleared the seats: There was nothing there. I had a feeling that once I kept walking around that I’d see a lot more of nothing, and I was right. I passed the team bus in the parking lot, walked through a gate which I probably shouldn’t have, and saw this: Looks like a prison. But, a real baseball prison looks like this, am I right? Heyyyo!!! Anyway, I looked in a few more spots for leftover Easter eggs and came up short. When I entered the gates, There was no action going on, so I took a lap and scouted some areas to snag, and took some photos. Provident Bank Park has some interesting architecture and angles. Check it out: Look at all that concourse space! And the wall in right field was about 4 feet high, I couldn’t believe it. I was pretty sure I’d found my spot for the game, but kept looking anyway. I just needed one to be hit there…. The bleachers in right center had an “old school” feel to them: I tried to run in those aisles, but it was too cramped. No good for ballhawking. Remember how I mentioned the weird angles? Take a look: It’s got a little bit of everything in there. I see some Fenway, some Citi Field, some Citizens Bank Park, a whole bunch of quirkiness. The left field seats seemed a little more realistic to ballhawk: Not too bad. Take a closer look at that foul ball haven beyond the foul pole: That reminded me of Tropicana Field. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. We headed down there for some adult beverages to pass the time, until I finally saw some action back on the other side of the field. I knew we were early when I was passing players walking on the concourse. Here was some guy warming up: He was doing a serious bullpen session, so I didn’t bother him. Instead, when it was finally game time (one of the little league teams lost 24-6…) I headed back over here: I was almost guaranteed a ball, but when a little kid came by, the player looked at me, tossed it to him, and shrugged. I gotta borrow someone’s child sometime as an experiment. The game was about to start, so after a few innings, I headed out to that glorious right field spot: There wasn’t much competition at all. There was, however, a random mannequin without legs dressed in Boulders gear. Was it a joke? Was it to make it look like there was someone sitting out there? I don’t know, but I was acting stupid with my friend Bryan (you might remember him from other posts) with it: Like, seriously, WTF is that for?? We were talking to outfielders for both teams and joking around all night, so I knew I”d get a ball. And in the 7th inning, Trois-Rivieres center fielder Steve Brown tossed me his warmup ball, and… Sweeeeeeeeeeet. It was a perfect ball, too… so I’m glad to add it to my collection. To be honest, I’m surprised it was a Rawlings official ball, but hey. Here was the final score: For some reason, the Boulders were calling themselves the “Bergen Boulders” that night only. More randomness. I guess you can get away with it in that league. At the end of the game, I noticed the umpires walking towards the big Green Monster type wall in center, so I ran out there and asked for a ball from home plate umpire Lance Schoenwalt, and he told me to go on the other side of the wall when he’d be outside the park, so he wouldn’t get in trouble. So I did. And he threw it to me. And I had 2 balls. The end.
- 2 balls at this game
- 158 career balls
- 9 straight MiLB games with a ball (I’m counting it as MiLB, wanna fight about it?)
Day 5 of the crazy baseball weekend landed me in Scranton, Pennsylvania to see the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs take on the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders (phew, that’s a mouthful) at the newly renovated PNC Field (not to be confused with PNC Park in Pittsburgh). I’d been trying to get to a game out here, partly because my cousin lives there and he’s been wanting to get to a game with me, and also because there was a faint chance that the RailRiders were using Inaugural Season commemorative balls. They used to be called the Yankees, but changed their name over the winter. Previously, you were able to walk around the entire perimeter of the stadium and look for balls and wait for homers in BP, so I’d have to see how it was after the renovations. We got there fairly early: The only downside was that today, gates opened an hour before game time. So if there was any BP, I’d have to get in quick. In the meantime, I decided to check for Easter eggs around the perimeter of the ballpark: After walking past this part, I came down to this area: There were no Easter eggs around, but I could see some players tossing. So there was a worst case scenario backup plan in place. I tried to go further around, but there was a fence blocking my way. I tried to go to the right field area of the ballpark past this concourse: down to this area here: and as you can see, there was another fence blocking off the back area. So much for that idea. The gates finally opened and we ran inside, only to find this: Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Eventually, some players came out to toss. Wherein I made my first mistake of the day. You see, since this was my first “RailRiders” game of the year, I:
- didn’t know what they wore for BP
- where they usually warmed up
Also, both teams had the same colored warm up clothes. I found this out when IronPigs players were out warming up and I thought they were RailRider players. So, yeah. No ball there. The 1 ball I had a beat on was tossed to a kid. Which is ok. Then, they disappeared.So this was my view for the next 35 minutes: Gorgeous ballpark, not so gorgeous mood for me. I wasn’t too worried about my streak, because this wasn’t a MLB game. But I still wanted a International League ball. I was looking around the park for good potential home run areas, and noticed this. If you look a little closer at the previous photo, you’ll see this: you’ll see the little chunk of grass in between the outfield wall and the black chain-link fence. If a homer was to land there (which was likely for a AAA game), I could easily pick it up. I wasn’t expecting the crowd to be too bad… the Yankees had a bunch of guys rehabbing here a few weeks prior but that was over with now, and it didn’t look crowded up until that point. So as of now, I had somewhat of a plan. I was going to hang out here on this grassy berm: …and play my chances for a homer there. I figured until game time I’d still try for a ball so I headed over here and looked for any lingering homers from BP: Nothing there. A few minutes later, this guy came out: I think he was a coach, but he wasn’t a position player. He also had a ball in his pocket, and there was a bag nearby. What annoyed me was that there was no music playing in the park, and my cousin and I were the only people for about 5 sections to the left and right. Yet he proceeded to ignore me. He was too intrigued by his crappy cup of Dunkin coffee. I forgot about him and headed over to the bullpen where I knew players would be coming out: They came out after a few minutes like I expected them to, but most ignored us, and some said they weren’t allowed to toss us any balls unless they were homers. So that wasn’t likely either. The game started, so we tried for the warm up balls for both the visiting and home teams: Nothing much goin’ on there either. To give you an idea of where we were, here’s a visual: We were on the walkway above the bullpens. You can walk around the whole stadium. It’s nice. We were just hanging out on the berm, and it was around the 5th inning. There was no action at all in the game, so as my cousin and I were just about to call it quits and go back to our seats, this happened: Yes, that was me who caught Cody Overbeck’s 17th homer of the season! As you can see, I was in the process of walking off the berm, when: I ran back to my left. Then, I saw the ball in the air, but in 1 hand I had a bunch of garbage, and my backpack was half on. I kept running where the ball nipped off of someones hands, and I trapped my glove over the ball: I’ll admit, it’s not as sexy as a MLB homer, but you know what? Who cares. It was a professional home run, and it was my first, so I’m going to enjoy it. Here is the ball: It was my 1st homer, and my 1st international league ball. I was so thrilled with it that I didn’t bother snagging the rest of the game. I took my cousin down here: and flagged down an outfielder and got my cousin to snag a 3rd out ball. Good times. Final score: After the game, I headed up to the top of the mountain behind the stadium and took this photo: Not bad. A long, and successful ballhawking weekend. To everyone involved, thanks for making it fun. Til’ next time.
- 1 ball at this game
- 1 career homer snagged
- 156 career balls
- 8 straight MilB games with a ball
Due to the previous night’s events… and because Mateo and I stayed up until about 4 am blogging…
Not a big deal, most would say. But today was Ballhawkfest 2013, an annual gathering of ballhawks around the country to get together and enjoy our quirky hobby we love so dearly. This year it was in Philadelphia, and it was my first. There was to be a home run derby at FDR Park near Citizens Bank Park around 10 am. Mateo and I left his apartment around 9 am. The only catch was, we were still in Washington, DC. So we were going to miss some (if not all) of the beginning of the day’s events. So, we got in my car: And after driving at some speeds I wasn’t particularly proud of, we finally made it Philly. By then, the pregame home run derby had finished, and the group had already moved on to lunch at McFadden’s, the restaurant attached to Citizens Bank Park. When we got there, we ran to McFadden’s: and made it in time for lunch. Somehow, we got our food before everyone else. Everybody was there. You’ll be introduced to them in a minute. I skipped documenting the restaurant with photos, but Alan Schuster (creator of mygameballs.com, and the person in charge of coordinating ballhawkfest) was raffling off door prizes, and I won a Red Sox baseball. This year’s event was in honor of a fellow ballhawk named Matt Hersl, who was tragically killed earlier this year in a car crash in downtown Baltimore. Everyone signed a shirt and a card for his family, and I was happy to be a part of the day.
On a lighter note, I also ordered the boneless buffalo chicken tenders, and scarfed it down to line up outside the left field gate: All of the ballhawks lined up at the gate behind me. Check it out: Alright, so, from left to right (in career snag order:)
1) Zack Hample
2) Rick Gold
3) Mateo Fischer
4) Ben Weil
5) Tim Cook (representing the Cook family)
6) Alex Kopp
7) Quinn Imiola
8) Harrison Tishler
10) Jeremy Evans
11) Alan Schuster
12) Jenny Bang
13) Alex’s dad Mark Kopp
So yes, the competition was going to be fierce. There were more ballhawks there who weren’t in the photo. Someone looked around through the center field gates and relayed the disappointing news that the tarp, was in fact… on the field. So just to put it in perspective, there were about 25 ballhawks all competing with each other and everyone else in the near sold out crowd on a Saturday with no batting practice. Everyone kind of accepted the fact that the day would be rough, so we all kinda just relaxed for a bit. Here was the line to my right: and to my left… Zack wasn’t too happy. Zack also took a nice picture of us for BIGS: You can match the faces up in the previous photo if you forgot who was who. Eventually, time came to run inside and see if anything at all was going on on the field: So Braves were on the field tossing, and the tarp was off, but there was no cage out. It was better than nothing. Since there was about 25 of us vying for the 3 balls the Braves were using, it was a little tense. The players were still using the balls, so while I was waiting, I went to put on my Braves shirt. Until I realized that I packed my Yankees shirt in a rush, and had no Braves shirt. Good times. I then looked through the flower beds for any left over homers from BP the night before: Nothing there. There was nobody really behind me, everyone went for foul territory where the players were throwing: It was then that I happened to turn around and David Carpenter, finished with his throwing, locked eyes with me, and… I didn’t even ask. I just held out my glove. Considering how bleak the forecast looked (weather and ballhawking), I was absolutely thrilled to snag this ball. I thought I was going to end my streak today, and now a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. And, of course, the man himself managed to get one: Much to the dismay of Craig Kimbrel. If you read Zack’s posts, you’ll know what I mean. I also, like I mentioned, was thrilled: I hate to admit, I was a little excited at the idea that I could be one of the only people at ballhawkfest to get a ball. Not gonna lie. But, I was more excited when I saw this: BP cages were up! This was so unorthodox (for me at least), so I couldn’t believe it. In the meantime while I waited, I hung out with Zack in center field while everyone went for toss-ups behind the dugouts. I looked to my left and noticed the unique architecture to my left: In the meantime, the stadium was dead: After a while, we ran into Rick Sporcic, an accomplished ballhawk from Pittsburgh (I believe) who had not one, not two, but three different gloves: He often uses the biggest one, but his small one with the bolt through it was interesting. It was finally time for BP, so I headed over to right field and met up with the Cooks: I introduced myself and then moved further over to right since they rightfully claimed the “pizza wedge” : Don’t be fooled by the picture, it got crowded quick. During BP, I came close to several home runs, and eventually caught one off a bounce off of some seats hit by a player I couldn’t identify. I felt bad after the fact because I just beat Quinn to the homer, and it was his birthday, and he was ball-less at this point. I didn’t know that it was him at the time, though, or else I might have “missed” the catch. Quinn did well for himself later on, though, he got Craig Kimbrel to toss him the final out ball at the end of the game. I headed over to the bullpen for the famous “Jesus Tiamo” trick: …and of all days he only threw two balls into the crowd. Normally he throws about 10. The Cooks got one, from what I could see. Finally, BP was over, and all snagging opportunities were done for the time being. I got a text to meet everyone by the statue in center field so we could take a picture of our snags up to the minute: It looked like everyone got a ball so far for the most part. It was around this point I took my personal tour of CBP, since it was my 1st time ever being there. I started by the Phillies bullpen and walked around the concourse: this area had a large BBQ area, and a trivia section which I walked right past. I kept moving through the concourse: and looked over to my left where there was a common area where the 3rd base gate was: after a elevator ride and some walking, I found myself here taking my typical photo: and I also took a panorama photo (click to enlarge): Eventually, it was game time. My ticket was for the section closest to the foul pole in left on the field level, but I wanted to sit with Zack. I waited here: There was still a bit longer until game time, and he had texted me to tell me to wait a few minutes. I decided to continue my tour and go onto “Ashburn Alley:” It was eh. Looked like any other concourse. Reminded me a bit of the Shea Bridge. But more boring. I also checked out the Phillies Wall of Fame: which, again, was eh. Looked like it was thrown together last minute. Then again, I’m used to monument park at Yankee Stadium, so who knows. Jumping forward – I snuck down to where Zack was. The Phillies guards were super aggressive in checking tickets. I somehow got my way down and sat with Zack. We got moved around a few times, and finally settled into some seats. Then, in the 2nd inning, this happened:
You’ll have to click the link to watch because I wasn’t able to embed the video. That was Zack catching John Mayberry Jr.’s home run. As you can see in this screenshot: That’s me on the bottom with my head and ears next to the Green “Schmidt” jersey. So, for the 3rd day in a row, I just missed getting a MLB homer.
The day will come.
Here was the ball: It was cool to hold it, but it would’ve been cooler if I caught it. Then, we thought Zack would get in trouble when this happened: He wasn’t in trouble, but there was an option the Phillies have where they take the ball and have the guy who hit it sign it for you, and then send you the ball in the mail. Zack didn’t want to do this, and I wouldn’t trust the Phillies with it either. I’m not huge on autographs anyway. Later, we moved over to right field, where we met up with Harrison: the other ballhawks were over there hanging out as well. The game went to extras and seemed like it’d never end. Zack went back to left field, but I stayed in right. He then got subsequently ejected from the ballpark for various reasons. And then of course, the game mercifully ended. Final score: And we all met up and took a photo of our snags. Since this was such a special occasion, and I was here for the 1st time, I decided to make my “Stadium Photo” this: I had such an awesome time. CBP was my 13th career stadium, and I now have visited Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Fenway Park, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Rogers Centre, Nationals Park, Target Field, Wrigley Field, US Cellular Field, Miller Park, Marlins Park, Citizens Bank Park, and Tropicana Field. I can’t wait until Ballhawkfest 2014. (Likely Washington, DC)
- 2 balls at this game
- 155 career balls
- 33 straight MLB games with a ball (the streak lives on!)
Day 2 in Baltimore was about as good as the previous day. I had a lot of fun, and it was a memorable night. Lets get started…
We (Mateo and I) actually showed up to this game on time, and parked without any issues. After arriving at the gate, Mateo took some pictures. Here is one of Avi (on the right): making fun of Mateo shooting photos. In the middle is Grant who was in yesterday’s post. Also, a special thanks to Avi for lending me his season ticket holder pass so I could get in to the seats early: I ran inside upon entering and for some reason I cant remember, I got to the seats way later than everyone else. So, here were my views of competition: Not the worst, but they were experienced. I did, however, have a nice aisle to my right: During Orioles BP, I caught one homer. It was a J.J. Hardy liner that ricocheted off of some seats that I grabbed on the run. I wish I could make it sound more exciting than that, but…. yea. A few minutes later, they ran off the field. The Mariners were already tossing, so after they were done, I got Kyle Seager: to toss me my 2nd ball of the game. It was also my 150th career ball. Exciting! He threw it to me before this was taken, and walked down the line more. It took me some time to get the photo. I moved further up the line towards the foul pole: …where I got Tom Wilhelmsen to throw me my 3rd ball of the day. I felt that I’d exhausted my resources in foul territory with toss ups, and now that the Mariners were finally beginning to put some balls out into the seats, I headed out to left field. It was very crowded, likely because it was Friday night. Check it out: I was pretty much boxed in. But the night before, I saw a man stand in this exact spot and catch three homers on the fly by the bullpen fence. So, I figured why not. After about 10 minutes or so, I caught a Humberto Quintero homer on the fly. I couldn’t tell who hit it at the time, but I knew he was a short, stocky, Spanish player. When this player on the right came out and matched that description: …I put two and two together. I was getting bored out in left and there weren’t really many more opportunities to snag, so I headed over by the dugout: and after watching the end of BP and hanging out for a bit, I got Mariners coach Mike Brumley to toss me my 5th ball of the day. BP was cut short a bit early due to a pregame ceremony with Roberto Alomar which I could have cared less about, so since the day before was so time strapped and rushed, I decided to do my usual self-tour of the ballpark and take some photos. I headed up to the upper deck and shot this photo of the concourse, overlooking M & T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens: Which was nice. What I didn’t understand was that when I headed up here to take a photo: …I was asked to show my ticket. Seriously? There’s 4 people up there! I also took this panorama photo which you can click to enlarge: I love that background. If it weren’t for me living a good 3-4 hours away, I’d be at OPACY a lot more often than I am now. I also like how stadiums look when they are empty, so I took one in the corner here: And if you look to your right, you get a good view of the action down on Eutaw Street: Nice. I’d love to go to that every time I went to a ballgame. Back down on the ground, here was a different view of the action: I wanted to go back to the visiting bullpen like the previous day, so I took a walk through the concourse since I hadn’t seen it the day before and snapped some shots: As for the action on the field, some semblance of a ceremony was going on: As outgoing of a guy that Alomar seemed like when he played, he seemed the opposite here, almost like he didn’t want to be there. I stopped paying attention and ran back over to the Mariners bullpen: I like that picture because the ball is in mid-air. It was around this time that…now, I’m the only person in the section in the very last row, mind you – a woman usher who had the attitude like she needed to police every single thing asked me for my ticket and said that I couldn’t stand there by the bullpen. Even though about 50 people were also standing there watching Aaron Harang warm up. I felt like telling here that once she made everyone else move, then I would too but instead, I ran over near the flag court for the game: Ballhawking up to this point was pretty routine, get on the flag court for lefties and watching until another lefty came up. That was, of course, until this happened:
As you can see, Chris Davis homered again for the 2nd night in a row when I was there. And, for the 2nd night in a row, I came close to snagging my first ever homer. If you watch the video, you can see that Alex (remember him from yesterday?) got the best head start, followed by Mateo who was running from the second gate in the middle, followed by me who got the latest jump out of the three. I’m not sure where Grant was, but he was there as well. My initial mistake was watching the ball soar over my head. The homer landed on Eutaw Street and bounced. From there, it was a mad dash for the ball until Alex leaped up and two handed it and came down onto the pavement and held on for the snag. Here is another video of it courtesy of “Cut 4″ from mlb.com:
Unfortunately, I can’t embed the video. Here is a screenshot from the video though shortly after: So as you can see, there was me on the left (sweet Mariners shirt, I know, right?), Grant (who was hidden behind Rick Gold) and Alex with the ball in his hand. I labeled the picture as “sigh” because not only was I disappointed that I didn’t snag the ball, but also because Orioles management asked for the ball. It was Chris Davis’ 40th, and only the 5th time an Orioles player had done so. So essentially, Alex was going to meet Davis.
We all put ballhawking on a collective hold and followed Alex to a special area behind home plate where he handed the ball to someone in Orioles management. It was there that he asked for a Davis jersey, but the man said he wasn’t able to do that: He said that he’d more likely be able to do a batting helmet and some balls, so Alex settled for that. We (or he as far as we knew) had to meet him back there at the end of the game. We were on our way back to the flag court when Mateo ran ahead and almost snagged a Ryan Flaherty home run. Eventually, the game was over and we headed back to the spot we were in before. The man you saw in the previous photo met us and said we could all go with Alex, so we were led down a staircase… …into a hallway… …right outside the Orioles locker room doors: Where we waited… ….and waited… A few other players walked by with their families, and even Buck Showalter, but I didn’t want to bother them. A couple next to us had caught Nate McLouth’s grand slam during the game and got to meet him: Most of the Mariners walked by too, until eventually, the man of the hour came out: Davis seemed kind of disinterested and tired, but I guess I would be too. He took a few more pictures with Alex and was cool enough to let us take one with him too and let me shake his hand: I feel bad for Grant – he was to my left but got cut out of the picture! Here’s a look at the helmet Alex got: It wasn’t until then that I noticed the “19″ on the back and we found out that the helmet was in fact game used. I forgot to mention I also got Davis’ autograph. All in all, a great night at OPACY. And oh, how could I forget my stadium photo? I almost did. Here it is: I had originally been to OPACY in 2009, but that was before I was ballhawking and had the picture idea that I stole from Zack Hample. So there ya go. Ballhawkfest ’13 next! By the way, final score:
- 5 balls at this game
- 153 career balls
- 32 straight MLB games with a ball
Today was the first day of a big baseball trip. I was spending 2 days in Baltimore for Orioles games, staying at Mateo Fischer’s house in Washington, D.C., going to Ballhawkfest 2013 in Philadelphia, and then a AAA game in Scranton, PA that Sunday. Driving down on I-95 to Baltimore was my first objective, and, like always on this highway, it was packed with traffic, and I drove through a monsoon for about 3 hours in the process. Mateo texted me and said that the rain held off, which was good because I was nervous about there being no BP, mainly because the only reason I was going to this game was in hopes of an Astros 50th Anniversary commemorative which they were rumored to be using.
It took me over five hours to get to Camden. I stress the five because it should only take 3 and a half. That’s traffic for you. I’m ashamed to say I drove at some speeds I wasn’t too proud of, either, but I got to Downtown Baltimore around 4:30 p.m.: While I was looking for parking, I hadn’t realized at the time I was right near the Stadium lot, which charges a manageable $10 for parking. when I asked where this was, people kept leading me to parking garages charging upwards of $45-$50.
Eventually, I got Mateo on the phone and he led me to Lot C, where the time now was 4:50.
Gates open at 5 for season ticket holders, and I didn’t even have a ticket yet, so this wasn’t good. I got out of my car and ran up to this: I was excited, yet I felt rushed at the same time. From this area of the stadium, Eutaw Street is blocked off with gates until gate opening time. Therefore, I had to run all the way around to get to the other side of Eutaw Street. I got closer and closer: How gorgeous is Camden? C’mon, honestly. I moved around the front: and around… (notice the Hilton with the $45 parking): Past these benches past the center field wall: Until I finally made it to the proper gate. While there, I met up with Mateo. He quickly took me over to the ticket window, and using Grant (you’ll see him in a second)’s season ticket holder code, purchased a season ticket for me. Then we hopped back into line, where I met most of the Baltimore Ballhawk regulars: From left to right, we have:
1) Grant – A new ballhawk, who could’ve fooled me because he looked good at it. He has a blog here, which you should give a look at.
2) The one and only Mateo
4) Rick Gold – a ballhawk who apparently works for MLB.com, who I see in a lot of Mateo’s posts and would later run into at Ballhawkfest
5) Alex Kopp – a Baltimore ballhawk who you will definitely read more about in the coming posts…
6) According to Mateo, a guy named Zevi who I never really got a chance to interact with.
Now, onto the snagging….
I ran inside and quickly was told to *walk* to my seat. Once I powerwalked to the left field seats, here was my view: I immediately liked the outfield configuration, because you seemed like you were right on top of the field. The way Citi Field is set up, you’re elevated high off the field. and at Yankee Stadium, you don’t have the same angling as you would here. I set up in an aisle spot, but I didn’t get the best spot since I was the last out of the ballhawkers to get in to the section: I took that from Mateo’s post about the game. As you can see, I had an aisle spot where the railing wasn’t in my way (wait for the ironic twist of fate on THAT later on in this post), but clearly Mateo was to my right, and Grant was behind me, so I was really confined to just going to my left. Which was ok. All I wanted was a Astros commemorative. Shortly after that, someone on the Orioles hit one to my left. I ran for it, and it was in my row. The only issue was that I have never hawked at this stadium before, so I was trying to be conscious of railings, cupholders, and other ballhawks. This cautious behavior led to me bobbling the catch as it was just out of my reach. Had I just went for it, I would have caught it on the fly. Instead, it rolled and I collided with Grant and we both missed out on it. As for BP, it was kind of dead… I was still shut out at this point, and BP was half over. I certainly didn’t want my streak to end today, because it would definitely put me in a bad mood the rest of the weekend. Eventually, the Astros came out: Despite the fact that I was the only person with an Astros shirt with their new logo on it, the players all looked at me and ignored me. It was slow on this end, and due to the lack of power in the Astros’ lineup, there weren’t many homers being put out. There was a group of lefties who were about to hit, so I booked it out to right field: Out here, nothing reached the seats, but plenty of balls got hit to Lucas Harrell, who saw me as the only Astros fan out in right field, yet ignored me. He wasn’t very friendly to any of the Oriole fans either. Don’t take it out on us because your team is 37-80. I began to get one of my strange “ballhawking urges” that I get, where I just feel compelled to go and do something and it usually works. This time, it was telling me to forget about right field completely, and go back to left:
Toss ups were out of the question. Too many loud kids. It’d have to be hit. This also happened in Toronto earlier this year when I had the feeling I should just stay put instead of moving around the crowded ballpark, and later Lyle Overbay literally hit a ball right to me to preserve my streak. The group of lefties were done. Chris Carter was hitting for Houston, and I finally got my first ball of the day, a homer that ricocheted off some seats and flew at me which I grabbed:
Shortly after, that was it for Houston BP. Now, onto that commemorative…
I hung out by the bullpen, mainly because of this - but also because of this: Looks innocent enough, but upon further inspection, every. Ball. In. The. Bag. Was a 50th anniversary ball. I expected there to be no 2013 commemoratives because Houston doesn’t carry them on the road. Mateo found me an treated me to a free soda, as we both waited for bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte: That’s me. That’s Javier. Mateo was sitting on 599 career baseballs, and I wanted a commemorative. He said Javier promised him a ball earlier in the day. So I gave him first dibs. After Mateo got his ball, I asked him if he remembered me in New York from April. he said he did, whether he actually did I don’t know. He seemed to be confused as to what I was asking for, but then he FINALLY hooked me up for ball No. 2 on the day: Ohhhhhhhh yes. Yes yes yes. That felt good. Huge thanks to Javier, he’s the man. Here I am appreciating all of it’s glory: It’s a little blurry, but you get the point. It was just about game time, so here was where I was for innings 1-3: I was hoping for a home run, because I had PLENTY of running room. Alas, there were no homers my direction. I took a panoramic photo:
I decided to meet up with Mateo and the other ballhawks on the flag court. I walked behind the batters’ eye: …onto Eutaw Street: …stopped on the way for some famous Boog’s BBQ (which was eh.): and before I got to the flag court, I noticed these: They are scattered all over the street in random areas. Upon closer view, here is what they look like: it is to commemorate any home runs that land on the street. I saw a lot of Yankees out there ;)
Anyway, here is the flag court: The flag court is fun, but can be challenging. It is hard to see the gameplay. Also, if a home run is coming, you need to react quick. Alex likes to stand behind where the wheelchair seating is to the right of the flag court this way he could see the play as it happened. I was talking to him about how I wanted to catch a homer so bad. It was then that I got one of those *urges*. I felt like going down to here: About 2 minutes later, this happened:
Yep. As you can see, my gut was correct. My route, was not. You can see me lunge for the ball in the video, but the railing was in my way. another downfall to not being in my home stadium. I didn’t think to actively plan my route in case a homer was hit. If I was on the other side of that railing, or even maneuvered around the railing, I’d have caught it. In the current situation:
1) The ball barely eluded and scraped my glove and hit the seats and ricocheted to the left instead of the right. If it went right, it would have rolled into my feet.
2) I ran into the railing. (F**K YOU RAILING!!!)
3) That’s me in the black t-shirt.
What made matters worse was that since this was the first time that Davis had reached 100 RBIs in his career, he wanted the ball.
Mad was an understatement. After I cooled down a bit, it was almost time for the game to be over. I headed over behind home plate for the umpires tunnel: I got shut out by the umpire. Then, the Astros came out from the bullpens, and : Nothing there either. Camden again the next night. Final score:
- 2 balls at this game
- 148 career balls
- 31 straight MLB games with a ball
So, this will probably be the shortest post I’ll ever write. BP was slow, there was not much action during the game, and I was feeling under the weather for a while and it was catching up with me. I caught all 3 of my balls pregame out in left field, before the game started:
And there you have it. The shortest post ever. This was also the first game of a 5 day stretch where I’d go on to see 5 games in the 5 days. Baltimore, Philly, and Scranton. Final score:
My other posts will be more exciting, I promise.
I’m sure as you all know, you’ve seen Natalie before. Well, her sister’s birthday was a few weeks prior, and since she’s a big Boston Red Sox fan and has never been to Boston, we decided to take her to Fenway for her birthday.
Aren’t we nice?
Everything was good until we hit Boston traffic: Which was, well.. it sucked. Eventually though, we checked into our terrible hotel and got to Fenway: Nevermind the guy doing the vogue photo shoot. If you’ve never been to Fenway before, you can start here, on Van Ness Street. If you walk a little closer, you find the honorary statue of Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, and Dom DiMaggio: If you go further down Van Ness, you come around to Yawkey Way, one of the most famous streets in sports: I distinctly remember there being a foul sulfur smelling odor coming from somewhere nearby. A Red Sox employee told me that it must be a neighboring building draining sewage.
I’ll give the Red Sox credit for a few things. I love Fenway Park, for one. The history, the tradition, not tearing it down to build a corporate empire… ahem… and keeping it feeling like a ballpark. For example, during pregame, this whole area: gets blocked off once the gates are about to open and it’s basically a street festival atmosphere. And also you can enter all the team stores and restaurants freely as long as you stay inside the fenced in area. You won’t see that in New York.
Now you do. Once we made the usual lap around the park, we lined up for BP. If you go to Fenway Park, you can sign up to become a member of “Red Sox Nation”, which enables you to enter the park an entire hour before the rest of the seating bowl opens. You are restricted to the Green Monster, center field, and right field until an hour has passed. It’s worth $15, and I think it’s worth the money, mainly because you get to bring in a guest with you for free. You line up at Gate C on Landsdowne Street: and you also get one of these lovely no-tear wristbands:
Now, hang on a second. Take a closer look at the photo before the wristband picture. Did you see anything funny? Out of the ordinary? Recognize anyone? Take a closer look: It’s none other than Mike Davison, who was at the Helicopter Drop only a few weeks prior! How weird. Not that weird though, since Fenway is his “home park.” But weird in a sense that he was on line photo-bombing my picture at that moment… I think you get the idea. And of course, Jenna (Natalie’s sister) and I were excited: Enjoy the glimpse of me in a Sox shirt, it doesn’t happen often. About 20 more minutes had passed maybe, and our bags were checked and I ran inside, and up the Green Monster staircase: Around those two guys (who were walking INCREDIBLY slow) … up another stiarcase… until I saw this before me: Quite mesmerizing. At least if you’re a baseball fan. I was very excited to be on the Green Monster, but I was also a little disappointed. There must have been a private party or something, because every single seat was taken on the Green Monster. The cross aisle in back was open though: We did, however, manage to grab a spot towards the very end of the Green Monster, near where it meets the center field wall: I’m sure you know that I do the sign picture for every new stadium I go to. I’ve been to Fenway before, but not when I made the signs. So there ya go. After a few minutes I noticed that not only was no ball getting hit my way, I was wasting my time. Everything was either going down the line, or out completely, so I decided I’d had enough and I went over to center. On the way, I noticed this plaque: You can click to make it larger. If you want to read it. Now, when I got to center field, I got the attention of a Red Sox pitching/bullpen coach, I couldn’t tell who. He tossed me a ball, but it was sailing to my left right at Jenna. I wasn’t going to be a jerk and take it from her, so here she is with her 1st snag: Excited would be an understatement. Here was the view to my right: and to my left: So as you can see, not much of a crowd. It’s only as much as the line for Red Sox Nation is. Oddly enough, I wasn’t snagging anything. I wasn’t getting good luck as of yet. I headed over to right field to mix it up: but there was a season ticket holder event on the field, as you can see, so anything hit in that region was tossed to them. Fast forward to when the Rays were hitting, since I didn’t get anything from Boston. I got Jeremy Hellickson to quickly toss me my first ball of the day: Hellickson is the guy on the left. I decided I’d exhausted my resources (for now) in this area, so I ran around the entire stadium (since you can’t go through the Green Monster) to left field: …where I asked coach Tom Foley to hit me a fungo into the crowd, but he tossed it to me instead. Fine with me. If you’re not familiar, here is the different configuration for left field: Fenway is all about quirks and weird angles. You have this, the Green Monster, the “triangle” in center, the sharp curve in right, Pesky’s pole, all wonderful baseball junkie type stuff. While I was in left, I noticed this: That’s Fernando Rodney. He pretty much teased an entire section for a good 10 minutes by tossing the ball up the Green Monster just short enough where they couldn’t catch it, but enough where it looked like he was making an effort. And those people never realized a closer with a 95 mph fastball couldn’t make a toss up the Green Monster? C’mon guys. I ran all the way BACK around the park to the triangle: and was unsuccessful in catching a few drives that came near me. I went back up to my original spot in center, but at Fenway you have to either go through the staircase on the concourse, or over a few sections, and then back up and over to center. Here, take a look: You see how the center field wall goes into the right field bleachers? Well, it’s not that big of a deal, but when you’re all the way down in the corner where the triangle is and you want to get back up to center quickly, it can pose a bit of a time-consuming nuisance. Also, the two bullpens eat up a LOT of the BP homers. Most got thrown back onto the field. While I was in front of the bullpens, a ball hit by someone I can’t recall slammed off the wall. Chris Archer tossed the ball into the crowd, but to my left was a little girl maybe no more than 5 years old with her father. They weren’t looking, but I snagged the ball on a nice grab on a bounce, and saved her from being hit. Her father thought I was taking the said ball from his daughter, even though both of them weren’t looking at the time. To ease the situation, I gave the ball to the girl and her father was immediately overjoyed. Archer, seeing all of this, pointed me out:
and tossed me another ball. So technically, I snagged 4. But, I like to number all of my baseballs, so for mygameballs.com purposes, I counted it, but as for my personal collection, I am not. So, at this point, personally, I am at 3. I headed down towards the right field foul pole, and after a short while I got bullpen catcher Scott Cursi to throw me my 4th (really 5th) ball of the day: That one was nice and clean. That about did it for BP. We went for a walk back out onto Yawkey (remember how I mentioned that earlier?) : Like I said, this is how a ballpark neighborhood should be. We went back in, and I tried for a pregame ball by the Rays dugout: I really really wanted a ball from Longoria, but he tossed it to someone else. A kid wearing a Rays shirt but a Boston hat. Explain that one. I normally take a photo at the top of upper decks at new stadiums, but since the upper seats behind home plate at Fenway are all press and suites, this will have to do: As for the game, here were our seats: I feel like the picture doesn’t do it justice. Anyway, I was hoping for a Ortiz homer, but nothing came my way. Fast forward to the 9th, where I was here: …and promptly got denied by the Rays coming into the dugout. I couldn’t help but change my usual line score format and use Fenways… so… final score:
David Price pitched a masterful game, throwing a complete game, on only 97 pitches. Of those, a whopping 72 were strikes, good enough for 74%. Nuts.
- 4 balls at this game (5 snagged but I gave 1 away.)
- 143 career balls
- 30th straight MLB game with a ball