Category: Baseball

7/11/13 at Dutchess Stadium (JAM @ HV)

It’s funny how things work sometimes. I was really on the fence about going to this game. The night before, I decided I was too tired to go so I stayed home. Also, for some reason a Yankees game vs. Kansas City was way more expensive than it should’ve been, given the talent being put on the field that night. Same thing for tonight’s game. The Yankees had a day game after a night game, so there’d *likely* be no BP there. So last second, I decided to go to the Renegades game vs. Jamestown. I’d never seen the Jammers before, so I figured why not.

By the way, the Jammers have quite possibly the worst logo in professional sports today. Check it out: Image

…are you kidding me? So ugly. Anyway, I got to the stadium decently early. It was replica home jersey night, so the crowd would fill up fast, at least for a minor league game. When I got around to left field, I was pleased to finally see a team out taking batting practice at the Dutch: Image I figured I’d ask the players for a ball later. I wanted to check the woods for any Easter eggs, plus the off chance that someone actually hit one out while I was there. I headed over a little to the left into the woods. As I was walking, I happened to check the support beam for the scoreboard: ImageWell, that was easy. But wait, there’s more! I headed into the woods a few more feet and found these two: Image That was even easier. I found a few more… by a few I mean 4 more. This put me to 7 on the day. I already broke my personal record of 6. You might be saying, “yeah but you had it so easy.” Not quite the case. If you ever ballhawk at a Minor League game, you’ll know that it almost is more difficult than a Major League game. There’s less space to move, less accessibility, and easier ways to be recognized. I usually have a tough time at Dutchess Stadium, so I was relishing this opportunity to really do some damage. I quit searching in the thorn-ridden woods (my legs learned a lesson from last time),  and took in some BP. As luck would have it, someone on Jamestown sliced one down the line. It rolled right out of the stadium into my hands for my 8th ball of the day. One of the players actually asked me if I could give it back to him, which I thought was weird. So I did. Personally, I count this as a snag. But at the end of the day, I don’t officially “count” it in my career totals. I number every baseball I get, and since I threw this one back, I can’t number it and there will always be a missing ball for that number in my collection. Catch where I’m going here? What would you do? Throw it back? Keep it and run away? Count it and skip one? A few minutes later, Elvis Escobar (no way that’s his real name) fielded a liner: Image …and I clapped my hands and he tossed it to me for my 9th ball of the day. I decided enough was enough when a random employee came over and told me I couldn’t stand there, even though that guy I’ve previously mentioned (7 year season ticket holder) always rummages back there for balls, that I headed inside, picked up my replica jersey (which seems to get cheaper every year) and headed over here for the remainder of BP: Image and later got Jeff Roy to throw me my 10th ball of the day. As you can see, even though the Jammers have those lovely green and purple shades for team colors, they are wearing Pirates apparel since they are a Pirates affiliate. Makes sense. I thought it’d be cool to get the warm-up ball from the pitcher, so I headed over to the Renegades side of the field which I haven’t done much this year. This year’s squad doesn’t seem too friendly.Last year’s bunch were very friendly and fan oriented. I built a loose relationship with a few of them, and a few of them even Facebook friended me. Here is where they were: Image The pitcher on the left is Austin Pruitt, and the catcher on the right is Omar Narvaez. Neither of them threw the ball to me. I went back over to the Jammers side of the field: Image but nothing much was going on over there either. I feel like I got my luck out of the way early in the day. Eventually, the game started, and I positioned myself here for a game ball: Image but I didn’t have any luck there either. The catcher for Jamestown seemed like he didn’t speak much English, and in the few innings that ended in strikeouts, he ran straight into the dugout.

If you’ll recall, I had poor luck recently concerning playing on the on-field games. Not today, though. I finally made it on the field for a game: Image

The object of the game was to play the popular game, “cornhole,” but on a larger scale. This was using pillows. I apparently was “on fire” according to the PA announcer, and “thumped” the opposing player 15-7 and won a lovely duffel bag which I am using right now.

I also played foul balls outside for a little as well. The idea is to watch them as they go out here from the bleachers: Image …so you can see where or what car the ball lands on or rolls under. Of course, none were hit on this side, so I headed down to the 1st base area to watch a late Renegades rally fall short. I DID, however, get umpire Matt Winters to toss me a perfect, no smudge, mud rubbed ball to make it 11 on the day and close the night out: Image

Final score:

ImageImage

  • 11 balls at this game (Kept and officially counted 10)
  • 127 career balls
  • 4 straight MiLB games with a ball

Also if you notice, another three MLB balls made it into Single-A ball.

As I finish this post, I’m sitting in a Starbucks outside of Lowell, MA. Mateo Fischer is sleeping in my car. Why you ask? Check back for my next post and find out!

4/3/13 at Citi Field (SD @ NYM)

It was 2013. It was a new season. A fresh start. But I opted to start it here:

ImageI wasn’t about to spend 50+ bucks to watch the Yankees get beat by Boston again across town. I decided to go for the more cost-efficient, $10 ticket vs. the Padres. I got to the park around 3:30. Did I get there early enough? You decide:

ImageNeedless to say, I was the first in line:

ImageSomehow though, a few people managed to cut me. Oh well. I looked up at the flag above the rotunda:

ImageThe wind was blowing in. This was going to put a damper on BP, not to mention it felt like it was 20 degrees out with the wind. I had around 4 to 5 layers of clothing on, so it limited my movement a bit. Shortly after, I met up with Zack Hample (you should know him by now) and hung out at the gates for a bit. He had some friends with him, who are also ballhawks. Here is a picture from his blog of everyone there:

Image1) Me
2) Vin Delia
3) Ben Cole
4) Eli
5) Ben Weil
6) Greg Barasch
7) Zack

It was nice to meet some new ballhawks, but it was gonna be a crowded night in the stands. Onto BP…

I decided to head to right field instead, since everyone was gunning for left. I let Zack in ahead of me, and he wound up getting 2 balls off the bat in 10 seconds. When I got to right, this is what I saw:

ImageDid you notice what I noticed? Take a closer look:

ImageI couldn’t figure out how to get that one. I looked around for a worker, or to ask a player to try and get it for me, but I eventually gave up. I later got my first ball of 2013 from bullpen coach Ricky Bones:

ImageThings died down a bit after that. Any ball that came out there was going to Bones, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to get 2 from him. So I noticed nobody was up in the second deck in left, so I decided to try my luck there:

ImageAs you can see, the Mets were about to head off and the Padres were coming out, so I threw on my Padres shirt:

100_9649… and waited. And waited.

And waited.

Nobody looked up at me. The Padres did their tossing and usual things, but maybe it was because of the weather or because they are the Padres and they know they suck, but they didn’t toss much up. I was still the only one up there, and I felt like I was wasting my time. I then went down in front of the Party City Deck:

100_9651…. and nothing. I walked around by the Padres dugout, and then this happened:

100_9652 Lame. I hope the Padres lose 110 games this year. Shouldn’t take much prodding. I hung out in the same area to try and get a pregame ball:

100_9655… but they threw it too far to the left.  As for the game, the weather got much colder. I didn’t take many pictures, or move around much, although I should’ve. Everyone else was going for third out balls. I set my goal for 1 earlier in the day since all the ballhawks were in attendance, so I was happy with my hot chocolate:

100_9659… a little later, I happened to see this:

100_9661 The rows around me were all empty, except for a guy in his mid-forties trying to hit on these two girls, and two equally annoying guys behind them trying every cliché icebreaker in the book. More importantly, I would mostly be uncontested for a third out ball. So after David Wright grounded out to end the 6th inning, I quickly went down to the dugout, looked to my left, saw Zack next to me, and to my right was some kid who thought it would be a good idea to step on my shoes and elbow me in the head. As Yonder Alonso tossed the ball to my right, the kid elbowed me in the neck, the ball rolled off the dugout, onto the ground, and I put my sneaker over it, pinning it to the ground. The kid then managed to knock me down onto my ass, yet when I got up, I couldn’t see who it was. ANYWAY, I had the last laugh:

100_9664 HA HA! Eat it, kid.  My first 3rd out ball ever. The Mets faithful were in full swing in the 9th inning:

100_9672 I then decided to head to the umpires tunnel to get a ball from Jerry Meals, but to no avail. Final score:

final

 

100_9677

 

  • 2 balls at this game
  • 2 balls in 2013
  • 83 career balls
  • Mets record when I attend in 2013: 1-0 (12-16 all time)
  • Padres record in 2013: 0-1 (1-1 all time)

I also checked these balls for invisible ink:

100_9680100_9681

Balls and Blacklights

So, this was a small project that I had wanted to do for some time. With midterms *briefly* slowing down until tomorrow, I had some time to get this done. If you read Zack Hamples blog, you know he does this thing where he shows you the invisible ink stampings on the balls he snags. If you aren’t sure, here is an excerpt from one of his posts about it:

I learned about the invisible ink while doing research for my new book — and then I got to see the ink being stamped on the balls when I visited the Rawlings baseball factory in Costa Rica.
 
There are 350 employees at the factory who do nothing but stitch baseballs all day — by hand. Every employee has a stamp with a unique serial number. When the balls are done being stitched, they get stamped with invisible ink. That way, if an inspector finds a “correctable flaw” on a ball (for example, a stitch that’s not quite tight enough), he can examine it under a black light, mark down the serial number, and send it back to the person who stitched it. It’s basically an extra method of quality control.
 
Even though every ball gets stamped with the ink, you won’t always see it on the balls you get a hold of — that is, if you bother to go out and get yourself a black light. That’s because every ball gets wiped with a cleaning solvent at the factory. The purpose of the solvent isn’t to remove the invisible ink. Rawlings doesn’t care about that. The solvent is used to remove excess wax or oil that might’ve found its way onto the cowhide cover, and in the process, the invisible ink is often rubbed off.
                                                              – Zack Hample

So there you have it. Which, would also explain why out of the 81 balls I have snagged, only 16 have visible stamps under a UV Light. The light was actually very cheap, and it works great. I got it on Amazon, the link is  here if you’re interested. So, I took some photos of the ones that have stamps. Here we go:

ImageThat one has a “234” under it.

ImageThat one isn’t as visible. My guess – 130? Who knows.

Image338?

Image474.

ImageThis one showed up really well. 264.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage And there you have it. Pretty cool, no? So out of the 81 balls I have, 19.7% were stamped. Then I put my balls back into storage:

Image And made sure to keep the commemoratives separate:

ImageLet me know what you think! I’ll be at Citi Field in a week! Snagging and baseball are around the corner!