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.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to sit down and catch up on posts. School, work, and life have been busy lately. But enough about that. On August 20, I noticed that the Mets played the next day at 1:10, and the Yankees played at 7:05. So, the gears started to turn and I decided I’d attempt to pull off the day/night split stadium NYC doubleheader. At the time, silly me thought I was the only one clever enough to think of that. Not quite the case…
I started the day early by taking the Metro-North down to Grand Central: Normally I drive to Citi, but I wasn’t about to deal with rush hour traffic heading to the Bronx and having to pay $40 to park. I’m not exaggerating either. So mass transit it was. I got to Citi field around the same time as all the workers were arriving, so I was early. After a while, I ran into a familiar person: That’s me, Rick Gold, Zack Hample, and Garrett Meyer, a ballhawk in town from Kansas City. We just hung out in the heat for a while, and eventually, the gates opened. I took a picture of my tickets: I knew since it was a day after a night game, there’d be little to no chance of BP going on. So when I ran inside, I headed over here: Just for the hell of it, I decided to look over to my left in the little alcove where the foul pole is, and I was greeted by this: …and strolled over and picked it up for ball No. 1 on the day. After a while, the Mets were done tossing, and I got Scott Rice to toss me my 2nd ball of the day: Now this snag was special. Right after I made the snag, Scott flapped his glove for me to throw it back. So I did. He pretended to put it away in his pocket, then threw it to me again. So I caught it. He then asked for the ball back, and to make a long story short, we had a catch for about 5 minutes. Now, at any other time, Zack would’ve had a ball by now. But at the moment, i had 2 and he had 0, so he was fiercely trying to snag in foul territory, especially since he had a reporter following him around. So, of course, since nobody else was in my section, I had no one to *officially* record me having a catch. But, right after, I asked Scott to autograph the ball, and he did: Awesome. I will now be a Scott Rice fan for life. If you don’t believe that I had a catch with Rice, ask Zack, he’ll vouch for me. i figured I’d exhausted my resources in this area of the ballpark, so I headed over by the bullpens and came up empty. A little later, two players were tossing by the 1st base area: I came up empty there, as well. Then, the field was desolate for the next 40 minutes. I decided to switch into my Braves gear and hung out here for a little while: Then some Braves emerged and threw out in the outfield: I decided to stay where I was instead of run over there, and I’m glad I did. Here’s what I think happened: Zack was out in the left center field seats, because he was trying to figure out how to get a coverless ball out of the bullpen gutter. The Braves came out to toss near him, and since he’s had a bit of a history with Craig Kimbrel, I honestly think they decided to move over towards me: …so he couldn’t bother them. If so, thanks, Zack. I was waiting for David Carpenter to finish tossing with Kimbrel, when Luis Avilan came over. When he noticed that he was the odd man out with no throwing partner, he saw my Braves shirt and threw me – and I mean threw me – my 3rd ball of the day: (That’s Avilan in the background, #43.) I was excited to get a ball from him, since he’s 5-0 this season with a 1.43 ERA as I write this. A couple of minutes later, I got Craig Kimbrel’s autograph: He was nice. As for the game, I headed to my usual pre-game spot for a toss-up: but came up empty. As for the game, I sat here: Nice. When I spoke to Zack earlier, we figured that the game would be in around the 8th inning or so when it was time to leave. At the very latest, I had to leave at 3:15 if I wanted to walk to the 7 train, take it the 45 minutes into Manhattan, and then grab the 4 up to Yankee Stadium in time to be on line at 4:30 for gate opening. And that’s exactly what happened. Although I forgot to mention Jason Heyward got hit in the face with a Jon Niese fastball and had to leave the game. It was a scary moment. I grabbed the 4 with Zack, Rick, and the reporter, and we got in line at Yankee Stadium. I was hungry, so I went up the block to a deli for a sandwich, and grabbed one for Zack, as well (with about 15 requests). Here we all are: The guy on the left is George (I think), one of Zack’s friends, me, Zack, Andy (you remember him from my last post) and George’s son.Rick took the picture. I decided to head up to the 2nd deck in right when the gates opened, since the bottom was already crowded thanks to the same security guard who made me empty my entire bag before entering: It was severely dead. I quickly realized my mistake in going up there, and ran back downstairs to lower right. And it was crowded. And nothing got hit out. I decided to run over to left field: where it was pretty dead too. A few minutes later, Chris Stewart hit a homer into the walkway closest to the bullpen, where I ran over and grabbed it: I was relieved to snag that one. I wanted to get a ball at both games to keep my streak up, which I knew would be hard to do given the circumstances (no BP, crowded) and I was surprised that up to this point, I’d snagged more at Citi Field. The Yanks were done and the Jays were on, and they threw nothing into the crowd. Not one ball. And they hit hardly anything out, as well which was hard to believe. Not to mention the crowds: There was no room to run. I was getting frustrated, and nothing was getting hit out. I remembered why I hated coming here. I couldn’t believe it!
I headed out to the Yankees bullpen for a Harkey ball and watched Adam Warren warm up for his 1st career start: I didn’t get Warren’s ball. Or Harkey’s. I had a teenage kid right on top of me and had no space. On a lighter note, during the game, I was privileged to be in attendance for this: Congrats. It was awesome to be there for it. And in true Yankees fashion, they had t-shirts and souvenirs for sale the next inning. Any way to make a buck, sheesh. And stupidly enough people were buying it. And, in the top of the 9th, I didn’t really think of it at the time, but I saw Mariano Rivera pitch in person for what could very well be the last time ever: He picked someone off of 2nd base (for the 1st time in his career) and got the save. Final scores:
- 4 balls on the day (3 at Citi, 1 at Yankee)
- 36 straight MLB games with a ball
- 165 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!)
I initially wasn’t going to go to this game, since I had just gotten back from a very long and tiring baseball trip. The game was an 8:05 ESPN game though, so I had time to hang out during the day beforehand. I was going to the game with my friend Bryan, who if you recall, came with me to Citi last year when I attempted to snag a Shea/Nats Park commemorative. I didn’t, he did. I’m still pissed about it. 😐
Anyway, we were going tonight, and waiting in line outside, I noticed that I didn’t see any N.Y. area ballhawks around. Which is weird, since there’s always usually one. We technically *cut* the line and made our own line at a table where they check your bags, but in a sense, we didn’t. I asked the guard and he said it was ok. Then, a few minutes later, I saw Mateo Fischer come by and we chatted a bit before the gates opened. What I didn’t know was that on Sunday games, season ticket holders can enter a half hour earlier than everyone else. This would explain how Zack Hample caught 9 balls in the 1st half hour of BP. I gotta get on that Sunday ticket thing.
Anyway, we ran inside, and when I got to the left field seats, someone on the Mets hit one to the gap, and Jeremy Hefner fielded it, looked up at me, and tossed me ball No. 1 on the day and I wasn’t inside for more than 30 seconds. Check it out: Sweet deal, no?
That got nowhere quick. There was a group of guys who were drunk and acting stupid so any attempts at anything would just be ignored by the players. I figured I’d try my luck on the Pepsi Porch. The Pepsi Porch can be a risky, yet rewarding move. It takes forever to get there. You have to go around to the right field concourse area, go up an escalator/staircase 2 floors, walk down a ramp/corridor all the way around the back of the stadium, up another staircase, and down a smaller set of stairs to the seats. However, nobody is up there during BP usually, so if a guy reaches there, it’s all yours. I also figured Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, and Juan Francisco could tag a few up there: And, so you can see what I mean, here was my competition: Now I just played the waiting game. A lot of home runs were going exactly where I just was standing on the field level, but hey, that’s gonna happen. Eventually, I got Jonny Venters’ attention down below: (he’s the player on the bottom right) And got him to toss me a ball wayyyyyy up to the Pepsi Porch for my second ball of the day. Things were slowing down and a lot of righties were coming up to hit, so I headed back over to left center field: …but it was so incredibly loud and crowded that I kinda just hung out there and hoped for a home run to come my way. One didn’t, though, and it was almost game time. I headed over to my usual spot by third base: It was Memorial Day, so the players came out and lined up in between the armed forces on the field. It was pretty cool to see. After that there was warmups: I came up empty there. Our seats had access to the Caesar’s Club, which I had yet to see since Citi Field opened. It was a pretty chilly night, so we figured that tonight was a good opportunity to check it out: That’s the view you get after you enter once you get off the escalator. Once you go through another hallway where someone checks your ticket, you walk into a big lobby: Here you can find an assortment of places to eat, couches, bars, and the likes for your choosing. Here’s another look:
This is a great place to go if it’s very cold or there is a rain delay. Otherwise, you are too detached from the game. It just doesn’t feel like you’re at a baseball stadium. We got a quick bite to eat here then headed back to our seats in hopes of a home run: But, of course, came up empty.
- 2 balls at this game
- 106 career balls
- 26 straight MLB games with a ball
Here I was Saturday (with long entry lines):
I went to this game with my two friends, Brian and Rich. They elected to stay in the parking lot and drink. I myself, was having BP withdrawal so I headed in. I ran up the stairs of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, around the 3rd base concourse, and wound up here:
Surprisingly, the stadium wasn’t that packed yet. The fact that the Mets have been playing so poorly might’ve helped. Anyway, here was my view to my right:
The Party City deck was empty, so balls that landed there would either ricochet towards me, or go back on the field. And the seats were empty so I could run around freely to get anything I missed. Of course, the Mets didn’t hit anything noteworthy in my direction. Someone hit a ball towards me that banged off the wall, and then I took this picture:
A few minutes later that was it for the Mets portion of BP as the Braves came out:
I decided to move over to the left field corner:
I moved over to the foul side of left field to try and get toss-ups. First my view to the right –
And behind me:
See the ball clearly in his pocket? I asked him if he wanted to have a catch with me (Keep in mind I’m in Braves gear) and he made a motion as to say “I don’t have a ball”. When he did. And then took it out five minutes later and threw it to a Met fan. S*** list for you now, Benjamin. I didn’t even want the ball, I wanted to have a catch. Whatevs.
I headed over to my usual spot for pregame warmups and here was the scene:
As busy as things looked, it wasn’t very busy. A lot of stretching, and nobody loosened up by throwing. The trainer took the 3 balls they had out there and brought them back to the dugout with him. It was dead for a bit, so security guards asked a Braves fan if he wanted to take a picture in the visiting dugout. That was fair. Then for the next 10 minutes, this was the most exciting thing going on:
….yeah. Then they walked off and that was it for pregame. I headed up to Center Field to meet my friends where we watched the game. The Braves jumped out to score 7 runs in the 2nd inning for a 9-0 lead, so in the middle of the game I took a walk and headed here:
If you haven’t been to Citi Field yet, if you get the chance, the bullpens are located right near a picnic area where you can interact with the players (if they don’t ignore you). I was sort of zoning out leaning up against the fence watching Avilan warm up. I still had my Braves gear on, and as Avilan was getting called into the game, Bullpen Coach Eddie Perez looked at me, and nodded upwards, so I moved back a bit, and he tossed me this (I didn’t even ask!):
Nice. On the way back, a random kid came up to me and asked me how old I was. I told him, and then he offered me one of his beers. I took it to be nice, but I didn’t drink it (it’s NYC, you never know).
I made my way down here towards the end of the game:
I took one last photo with my friends:
- 3 balls at this game (personal Citi Field record!)
- 59 career balls
- 6 straight games at Citi with a ball
- 8 straight MLB games with a ball
- Mets record when I attend: 10-15 (1-6 this season)
- Braves record when I attend: 1-0