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