Thanks to another 1 month layoff because of summer classes, I felt refreshed to get off the 7 train and see this:
I attended Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium on June 22, but did not try to snag that day and just watched a 8-0 Orioles win. I also attended a minor league game on July 1st, and snagged 4 balls, eclipsing the 200 mark. Two were game home runs, two BP homers. Today though, I met Zack and Greg and we had a catch before the gates opened. When I got inside, the Braves were already out:
I didn’t come close to snagging anything hit, but I got a toss up from Luis Avilan to get me on the board.
I tried also pregame by the Braves dugout:
During the game though, I did get Jason Heyward to toss me the 3rd out ball to end the 2nd inning when Eric Campbell flied out. So there’s that.
Pretty basic night at Citi.
Final score: Mets 4, Atlanta 3
I took the 7 back to Grand Central, and took the long ride back home, and got back very, very late.
These posts get better, I swear.
Sometimes I think I have bad luck. Everytime I buy a season ticket for a Mets weekend game, it either rains or there is no BP. The point of a season ticket is so you can enter a half hour before everyone else does. Usually this means having an entire stadium essentially to yourself. Gate times were opening at 4:40. I met Greg at the gate, and at 4:35, it started raining.
Greg went home. I didn’t have such luxury, since I live an hour away. So, I went inside, and voila:
As for me? I was soaked and thrilled:
What happened next is exactly why I hate New York stadiums and security. Look at the picture before my angry selfie. See all the people? Well, the usher in my section decided I wasn’t allowed to stand there – I was the only person in the stadium – I was literally standing there looking at my phone – and he had probably the crappiest attitude I’ve ever seen someone have.
Since I had, oh – 2 ½ hours to kill, I walked around the entire park looking for any easter eggs in case either team hit earlier in the day, which sometimes teams do. Here’s a cool shot from the 2nd deck:
See the open space next to the foul pole?
Someone else had the same idea as I did, and while I was up taking pictures in the second deck, he found the only easter egg sitting there.
So for the next 2 hours or so, I popped in my ear buds and listened to music while I watched a 15 minute shower pass by and then some clear sky with no rain:
Eventually, the Marlins came out, and I set up near Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich:
Stanton hooked me up for ball 1 of the night. That felt pretty cool, because I love Stanton. Though, it’d be cooler to catch a BP homer of his.
During the game, it started raining again:
So I didn’t have much competition. When Travis d’Arnaud flied out to end the 3rd inning, Yelich tossed me the ball for my 2nd and last ball of the night.
Final score: Marlins 7, Mets 6
2 balls at this game (#’s 196, 197)
This game was fun for a few reasons. First, this was the 1st time I’d ever seen the St. Louis Cardinals at a ball game ever. I had now seen every team play live, which was kinda cool. Also, I skipped my grad class at night (shh) and went to the game. I’d had enough.
I decided to start the day out in the right field corner:
Sometimes I like to go there first because everyone rushes to left field. Usually I have a friend hold a spot in line for me and I let them go in first, so by the time I get to left field all the good spots are taken. Once I was there, I found Daisuke Matsuzaka:
After he did his drill players do where they throw the ball at the wall and field it, I asked him for the ball in Japanese and it actually worked! That was the first time I tried it and it worked, so that was very fun.
I later moved over to straightaway right and got Dillon Gee to toss me this one:
The Mets were done, so I headed to left and waited for the Cardinals to hit:
Now, plenty of ballhawks have told me that the Cardinals aren’t the friendliest of teams. I try to give everyone a fair shot, but man, these guys are just rude sometimes. I had Cardinals gear on, and I got pretty much ignored. Even the kids. I wonder if there is a rule they have in place or something. I get that they don’t HAVE to give anything away, but still. C’mon.
One example in particular – I was standing along the left field foul line when a little girl asked Trevor Rosenthal for his ball. He looked at the ball, and proceeded to launch it across center field into the black batter’s eye. I’d never seen that before. Look at the photo above if you need a reference.
Shortly thereafter, the Cardinals ran off:
I do remember that a St. Louis player hit a home run into the area between the original outfield wall and the wall that the Mets moved in a few years ago, and I got a security guard to toss me that one for my 3rd of the day.
My seats were pretty good, and the Mets were wearing camo uniforms for the game, but otherwise not much more action here.
3 balls at this game
Final score: Mets 2, Cardinals 0
Balls this game: 3
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
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
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