I had the entire day free, and was off from work the next day, so I decided to hop in the car and go here:
I wasn’t alone, however. If you look under the picture of the Philly Phanatic, you can see three people. I stopped in Manhattan and picked up Greg, Mateo, and Mateo’s roommate from college, Sean.
This made the car ride go a lot quicker, for sure. We left earlier than usual so we wouldn’t lose time in New Jersey in traffic, which is always a given. We also endured many fun things on the way, such as people driving wherever they pleased, gridlock, tunnels, turnpikes, and everyone napping (besides me -__-). As you can see, we got there in plenty of time with lots of line space.
We had a nice long catch outside CBP, and 5 minutes before gate opening, here was the line:
I guess being in last place will do that.
When I went inside, of course the Phillies were just about done:
It was a frustrating day. From what I remember, Greg had a few bad bounces, as well as me, and Mateo only got one or two. When Arizona came out, I headed down the left field foul line and got Addison Reed to hook me up for ball No. 1 on the day.
I noticed that right field in foul territory had virtually nobody there, so I jogged over:
I got Chase Anderson to toss me ball No. 2, likely because he was looking to get rid of it, and I was the only one who yelled his name out.
I headed over to straightaway right, where I got Nick Evans to toss me Ball No. 3 of the night. This one was cool because there was a homer that landed in the seats, and I could have easily taken it. Instead, I let a little boy grab it, and Evans must have saw because the next grounder he fielded, he pointed to me and tossed it up to me.
Also, Evans signed in Japan right after the game. So who knows, maybe I snagged his last ever ball given away in an MLB game.
I caught up with Greg after BP, and he was a bit busy:
He was cup tricking a ball in the center field batters eye, and after about 5 minutes, he finally got it. He gave it away after all the hard work, but he had a decent audience watching. Imagine him doing that at Yankee?
Before the game, I perched up by the Diamondbacks bullpen:
Their bullpen coach this year is Mike Harkey, who you might remember from the “Harkey trick” at Yankee Stadium where he’d throw about 6 balls into the bleachers before the start of every game. Maybe he remembered me, because he ignored me. I also need to learn to be more vocal. I was too apprehensive to yell out at first, until Greg did and got a ball. They don’t know me, so why should I care if they think I’m annoying or if they say no? That’s my new goal for 2015.
During the game, I sat here:
This was nice, but I couldn’t seem to snag a gamer. The warmup ball every inning went to this guy:
That’s Henry Blanco, who ignored me every half inning. I was the only one trying, and the only one in a D-Backs shirt. Seemed to be the theme of the night. I even got a few texts from Greg, which said a blunt “WTF?”
After the game, we drove Mateo and Sean to the bus station, where they were going to the airport (I think?) the next day. I drove home with Greg and got home very late.
Final score: Phillies 9, Arizona 5.
3 balls (217-219)
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
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!)