The day started off in the morning, meeting at a park in Virginia somewhere to have the home run derby and skills challenge. A lot of ballhawks were there hanging out and catching up, and for some incredibly stupid reason, I took zero pictures.
Afterwards, we walked over to a restaurant and ate, mingled, and won “door prizes” courtesy of Alan (MGB founder) and some other folks. I didn’t take pictures there either (IDIOT!).
I also neglected to take any pictures at the gate hanging out with everyone, as well. Maybe I was distracted.
Fast forward to BP time, where I started off here:
For some reason, I was allowed over here yesterday, but today, I was getting a lot of crap from the center field ushers about having to wait to go over to right field even though the day before, I was there. And, there were people there now. I slipped past him when he wasn’t looking, went up a staircase, and down a separate one and was in right. I had a decent amount of space to move:
…and if you look close enough, in the mini pizza wedge off to the right, you can see the Cooks doin’ their thing.
In this photo, you can see the other ballhawks in their neon green shirts (you can click to enlarge):
I don’t like wearing the shirts during BP, because yes, its fun to spot your friends at any second, but I don’t want the players recognizing such a neutralizing color. So I wait to wear the shirt.
Things were getting a little dicey as the day went on. The Nationals hit for a short while, but I was still scoreless. When the Brewers headed out, I went over to left field mainly because nobody was over there, and eventually got new call-up Jimmy Nelson to toss me my 1st ball and get me on the board. The Brewers also weren’t hitting much, so I didn’t snag much during their session either. I went over to the left field bullpens. Why you ask?
I eventually got Lee Tunnell to toss me one of those pregame. He’s awesome.
I spent the game here:
After running around for two hours in the 90 degree heat, I pounded down 2 apple cider things (not sure what they were called, but they were cold, and refreshing). I took turns alternating innings on the aisle with someone new that I met, he goes by the name of Happy Youngster. You can check out his twitter here. We spent a lot of time talking, and hes a really cool guy. If you ever get a chance to see him, tell him I said hello.
After the bottom of the 5th inning, Marco Estrada struck out Tanner Roark, and then Jonathan LuCroy tossed me the strikeout ball for my 3rd and final ball for ballhawkfest. Here is a photo of everyone who came:
Let me try and do this right: Starting with me on the bottom, you have… me, Rick Sporcic, Kellan and Tim Cook, and Alan Schuster.
The next row up left to right is Rick, Grant Edrington, Todd Cook, and Harrsion Tischler.
The last row features Mateo, Greg, Tak, and Happy.
Also, thanks to Mateo for unknowingly letting me screenshot the photo and use it.
And finally, my final haul for the weekend. It’s hard to write about every single thing that happened,but overall it was a very fun weekend and I’m glad I was able to attend.
After the game, a post-game Austin Mahone concert was about to begin, which was my cue to head out of there.
3 balls (213-215)
Final score: Washington 8, Milwaukee 3
The time for Ballhawkfest weekend was upon us, and I decided that if I was going to drive all the way down to Washington for a game, I might as well go the night before, enjoy the city, and spend 2 nights. So this was the first game of the weekend, between the Brewers and Nationals. I got to DC in plenty of time, and made my way over on the metro to Nationals Park:
There I ran into Rick Gold, and we caught up for a little while, and eventually it was time to head inside. The first half hour, I didn’t snag anything. Most Nationals were stretching and tossing. When the upper deck was opened at 5:30 I believe, I ran up there and eventually found this:
I noticed the Nats were still tossing:
…so I had time to get back down and quickly headed back downstairs to lower right and still had time to spare:
Shortly after that, I got Gio Gonzalez to toss me my 2nd of the day, and a few minutes later, Adam LaRoche hit a liner into the seats that I grabbed quick for ball No. 3 on the day.
After all this, it was still pretty empty:
Eventually the Brewers came out, where I got a toss-up from Matt Garza:
My next ball was kind of a fluke. I snuck over by the Milwaukee dugout, since BP had just ended. They were still putting the balls into the buckets by the dugout steps, when Rob Wooten looked up at me and I flapped my glove quick. He pulled a ball out of his back pocket, and tossed it to me for ball No. 5 on the day. That never happens.
For the game, I stayed here:
I eventually became bored there and wasn’t scoring any game balls, so I wound up here:
No home runs to report. After the game, I caught coach Lee Tunnell heading out of the bullpen and got him to hook me up with my 6th and final ball of the night.
Mateo was at this game as well, and we caught up in the 9th inning in the outfield seats. During the post game fireworks, I watched him try to unsuccessfully cup trick a ball under the flowerbeds in left field. Then, I headed back to the hotel on the metro excited for the next day.
Final score: Milwaukee 4, Washington 2
6 balls at this game (#’s 207-212)
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
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
I was looking through some old pictures and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t posted about when I went to Nationals Park back in 2011.
I went with Natalie and her brother and sister. You’ve probably seen them before in my entry on 7/28/12. Earlier in the day, we did some tourist-y things around Washington D.C.:
Yes, I took that. Feel free to use it.
Here’s some more:
The reason we look so miserable is that it was around 102 degrees and humid for the day. Tack 5 hours or so of that and you get some cranky people. Onto the ballgame…
I took the Metro to the “Navy Yard” station:
… and when I got off, I was greeted with this:
Sweet. As usual with any new stadium I visit, I walked around the outside and snapped some pictures.
The years listed on the ground are specific milestone years in Washington baseball history. I’ll spare you the history lesson for when you go yourself. Here is one for example:
Here I am in my sweaty, tired glory:
And I walked around to the First Base gate:
And ran into a “Nats-Mobile”:
But finally it was time for snagging. I ran inside and got my bulky Jayson Werth bobblehead and made my way here:
(Note the ridiculous David Wright shirt the Mets coach has on.) The Mets were in their usual un-friendly mood, so I waited for Nats BP to start:
I maneuvered a bit and positioned myself in front of the “Red Porch”:
The sun was beating down on me at this point. I’m not kidding, I don’t know how people down here live like this. Probably the hottest I’ve ever been in my life. But I kept going. I almost caught 2 home runs, and missed a Drew Storen toss-up.
Keep in mind, at least at the time I was here, Nationals Park only opens the left field side of the park for the first 45 minutes or hour or whatever the policy was. So, when it was time to head to right field, I started making my way over. There was already a line of kids ready to make a rush for Easter eggs, so I decided to head upstairs and try my luck there:
Not gonna lie, Nats Park is a pretty looking place. BP continued, and I noticed Livan Hernandez shagging flies in Center. I decided to try the “name trick”, since we both shared the same last name. He thought it was funny, since I told him I had the i.d. to prove it. Which would be ridiculous, since I was in the upper deck… you get the idea. But most importantly, it worked, and he tossed me my first ball of the day. After that, things quieted down, and the Nationals were done. I headed down to the lower deck, which calmed down as well, and hung out here:
One of the Met players (can’t recall who) hit a shot to center field, and it fell between where I was, and the batters eye. I couldn’t reach it, so I asked a groundskeeper:
… and he tossed me my 2nd ball of the day. I then headed over by the Mets dugout, mainly because it was so oppressively hot. I was sunburned, and I needed some shade.
Shortly after, BP was over, and it was time do do some exploring.
Here were our seats for the game:
… and I was completely fine just relaxing. It was a looooong day, and I was pleased with my total of 2. Later, I got to see my first “Presidential Race”:
Poor Teddy still had none (he’s won by now). After a few innings, I decided to walk around and take some pictures and take advantage of the free “cooling station” the Nationals were offering:
See that cup of ice? Heaven. We walked around to the back concourse, full of concessions:
I broke and bought a “Curly W” pretzel, which I thought was cool:
Later, I headed up to the top to take my usual stadium picture:
and a lovely panoramic shot:
…and here I am with Natalie:
How cute. And before I knew it, the game was over. Here I am with my #6 sign, at the time it was the 6th stadium I had visited. Note the high level of tired-ness:
Overall, I like Nationals Park a lot. I give it an A.
- 2 balls at this game
It was a very unlucky, yet lucky day for me at Citi Field, if that makes sense. Let’s get started. I somehow made it to Citi before the gates opened at 5:10. From there, after the gates opened, I subsequently fell going up the stairs and banged my knee. It still hurts as I write this. I then hobbled to left field, and saw the Nationals stretching. The Mets were in right field finishing BP, so I headed over there:
It’s hard to get a ball into these seats. But Bryce Harper was getting ready to go into the cage, so I wanted to be there for it. If one was going up there, it was mine. The Mets ran off, and Sean Burnett came out to right field:
I headed to the Center Field seats, and took the following photos:
… I would only wait so long for someone to come out. Nobody did, of course. I headed over to left field. The righties were hitting, so I figured this was the best spot to be in. Now, after reading from Mateo Fischer’s entry from a few weeks ago, the Nationals were for some odd reason using 2008 Shea Stadium Commemorative balls, and 2008 Nationals Park Commemorative balls.
While I was in Right Field, someone on the Nationals hit one right at me. I tried to lean over to the Party City Deck to reach for it, and just missed. Then, another home run surprised everyone who was trying to get the first ball, so now there were two. I noticed one of them was the Shea commemorative. I asked the security guard if I could have it, and he looked at both balls, tossed me the regular one, and pocketed the commemorative.
W. T. F. Here’s the scene of the crime:
Now that you have a visual, the ball smacked around the staircase. Last time I checked, the guards aren’t allowed to keep the balls they get, but whatever.
Here was my view to the left:
Two balls were hit into the batters eye, but the security guard gave them to other people. I decided to move further down towards straightaway left. Heres where more bad luck comes in to play. I went to the game with my friend Bryan. He doesn’t do the whole ballhawking thing, so he was just hanging out in left. When I got there, he already snagged a ball from someone he cant remember. Then, a National (I don’t know who) absolutely crushed a homer to the 3rd deck in left. It hit off the top of the scoreboard strip in between the two “We Remember” spots located here:
… and fell down right in our row. There was a scramble, and Bryan was closer then I was, so he got to it before me. And wouldn’t you know it, it was a Nationals commemorative. So I now missed out on each the Mets and Nats balls. Which was, of course, the only reason I went to this game to begin with. Here was the second scene of the crime:
I got a toss up from Gio Gonzalez for ball No. 3, and I even got a “Whoa!” compliment from him as I made the lunging catch. Kinda cool.
I then headed here:
…and proceeded to get nothing as the players were busy trying to launch balls into the upper deck, and the coach, Jose Martinez, was busy trying to get this woman to give him her phone number (I kid you not). I headed to my usual spot:
I was still standing in my spot when the groundskeepers were coming out to spraypaint the NY on the mound, and fix the infield. I look over to the tunnel, and one of them looks up at me and flips me Ball No. 4 on the day. Cool.
It was, of course, 9/11. So we took a moment of silence:
During the game, I got a good picture of Bryce Harper:
It then occurred to me that I could try the bullpen. It was a long shot but I was willing. So I headed over to the Nats bullpen:
… and proceeded to get ignored by the pitchers and the coach Jim Lett. I’m not sure if it was just me, but he purposely ignored me. It was ridiculously quiet out there, and it’s not the first time he’s done that. After 2 innings I gave up and headed back to my seats and looked over at the dugout. Maybe there was a commemorative in the dugout still from BP:
… Edwin Jackson looked over and for the hell of it, I flapped my glove. He came back 15 seconds later with a ball, pump faked, then threw it to me for Ball No. 5 on the day. Another bit of good luck. I already extended my new Citi Field record from 3 to 4, now it was up to 5.
The Nationals hung on to win, 5-3. Later, umpire Rob Drake headed over:
- SIX (SIX!!!) balls at this game
- Personal Citi Field record
- Personal overall record
- 78 career balls
- 8 straight games at Citi with a ball
- 14 straight MLB games with a ball
- Mets record when I attend: 2-7 in 2012 (12-16 overall)
- Nationals record when I attend: 3-0 in 2012 (4-2 overall)
Unexpectedly, I wound up here Monday night:
My girlfriend, Natalie, had her college friend, Megan, visiting for the day. When she asked her what she wanted to do, her response was “see the Mets at Citi Field”. She had never been to the new stadium, and they wanted me to come and show them around and also show them how to snag. I happily obliged.
Here is Megan outside the gate for the 1st time:
On the way to the stadium, it rained for about 20 minutes. When we got to the parking lots, the rain had stopped and the radar was looking like it was in our favor. Plus the gates hadn’t opened yet. I told Natalie and Megan to wait on line and I’d pick up the tickets. While I was over by the ticket office, I ran into fellow N.Y. ballhawk Mateo Fischer. I had read his blog a bunch and have seen him at Yankee Stadium before, so it was nice to meet and talk in person. We talked about how much Citi Field sucked for snagging essentially, I saved him a spot on line, and then we went our separate ways once we got inside.
When I did get inside, however, I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the sight of this:
I didn’t get it. The sun was out, the rain had stopped. I had planned on BP so I could most importantly continue my streak, but Megan wanted me to snag her a ball at her first game. I don’t know why there wasn’t any BP. Lazy, Mets, lazy. Pressure!
A bunch of the Nationals were long tossing to my left:
Here I am with Ross Detweiler:
See that security guard? More on him in a bit. Here’s Tom Gorzelanny…
The next picture was me attempting to get Stephen Strasburg’s autograph. I saw that he was making his way down the left field wall, and then out of nowhere a hundred fans come swarming with binders and smothering me with their body odor and sweaty bodies all while having no consideration for each other. I got stepped on, pushed, and elbowed just to get a signature. I got so fed up I left. It was pathetic. Here’s the best picture I could get of Strasburg, because someone had a binder lodged in my eardrum:
Pictured here is bullpen catcher Nilson Robledo.
I asked him while he was having a catch with Drew Storen if I could have the ball when he was finished in Spanish. He returned the favor by staring at me as if I had asked for a kidney. Anyone else have a problem with Robledo? Anyway, Storen sailed a few fastballs into the stands and Robledo countered by saying that fans deserved to get hit if they weren’t paying attention, because you have to. Yes, this is true, but you don’t need to be so crabby about it. Storen then threw his ball to the fan he says “nearly killed”. So I was still scoreless on the day.
Later, I got autographs from Gio Gonzalez..
One cool thing about Storen is that someone asked him how he generates so much power on his fastballs. Storen said to “Look at Mariano, see how he uses his hips… he’s the best around. Just watch him”. I thought it was cool to see a player not only answer a fan, but give him pointers as well.
I decided to head over by the Nationals dugout to try my luck there. Here is backup catcher Sandy Leon:
Earlier he was coming in from the bullpen, and I asked him for a ball and he put up five fingers as to say “5 minutes”, so I waited. He finally came back out, but told me he had nothing to give me. Phooey.
I later got ignored by Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman –
I did, however, snap a cool pic of Bryce Harper:
He then proceeded to sign autographs until he absolutely needed to get into the on deck circle because the game was starting. You don’t see that much these days anymore. I snapped this picture as he hit a 2 run HR in the 1st inning, which I had never done before either:
The next inning, this happened:
Not only was it “Star Wars Night”, complete with cheesy between-inning videos on the scoreboard featuring Mets players, it was raining. I was ready to go next to the umpires tunnel in case of a delay. But, the delay never came. I overheard a groundskeeper saying that at the current rate of the rain falling, it was OK to play. So it rained all the way until the end of the game. In the meantime, here’s how we stayed dry:
The Mets tied it late on an Ike Davis homer that hit the foul pole, but once it got to the 10th inning, the Nationals busted it open with 6 runs to take a 8-2 lead.
Remember that security guard? Well, some kids moved down and sat next to me and proceeded to heckle the Nationals for 4 innings. It’s one thing to heckle, but to be dumb and unfunny about it is another thing. Everyone in the section was becoming annoyed, and I was restraining myself from saying something. Finally, the security guard kicked the guys out of the section. Much to the relief of everyone. I figured baseball karma had to be on my side. I was a good sport about EVERYTHING today.
Here’s a photo of the scoreboard:
Then I realized that this was my last chance to get a ball. I was too far away from the dugout to get a toss up, so I waited by the umpires tunnel. I called out to Alan Porter, who looked around for a kid most likely, and then popped the ball into my glove to secure the streak.
SWEET! Not only did I get my streak to stay alive, I almost forgot the Mets use commemorative game balls this year. Stoked was an understatement. I now have 3 of the 6 this year (MIA, LAD, NYM) and need 3 to go (Houston [who I am seeing in August @ the Mets], Boston [Seeing them Saturday], and Baltimore [Seeing next week]). So the chances are there to get all 6. Challenge accepted. I was, however, disappointed that I didn’t get Megan a ball, but she was more than happy with her 1st Citi experience.
Here I am with the ball in all it’s glory:
- 1 ball at this game
- 5 balls total
- 3 straight games at Citi with a ball
- Mets record when I attend: 10-14
- Nationals record when I attend: 3-2