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: