It was the beginning of the 2nd half of the season, and I was here: I’ve realized that I’ve been to Yankee Stadium ONCE so far this season. Maybe it’s for the better. They suck, and are still expensive to see. The lines were also crazy, but I was early:
The sole purpose of this game was for All-Star Game leftovers. It was a long shot, but if there was any game the Mets would be using them, it’d be the 1st night back from All-Star break. For starters, it was a Friday. Second, Nas was performing a post game show after the game. So it was going to be crowded. I made sure to get inside early, and hopefully you can keep up, because the snagging game quick and often early.
I ran inside and decided for some reason to go to right field. Now that I think of it, Ben was there and we agreed that I’d go to right, and he’d go to left. I went to right, like I said, and checked foul territory for easter eggs. I found one quickly near the foul line: I scooped that up and headed over to straightaway right, under the Modell’s sign. A minute later, a Mets player I couldn’t identify hit a ground rule double into foul territory, but nobody was there. Usually I’m like “eh, someone’ll get it before me,” but today there was nobody there so I ran quick back to where I was and picked it up for ball No. 2 on the day. Then, I headed back to right field: A few minutes later, I got Josh Edgin to toss me my 3rd ball of the day. I decided I had just about milked all Citi Field was good for in right, so I went over to deep left, and at the end of Mets BP, I asked the ballboy to chuck one up to me just to see if he’d acknowledge me. They usually don’t, but he did and tossed me No. 4 on the night: Isn’t that a great pic? I was happy about all the snagging, but a little disappointed thet they were regular BP balls. I talked to Ben for a while, and we noticed that the Phillies weren’t coming out for BP: Not cool. I wonder what the excuse was. They just had 4 days off. It was too hot? Boo hoo. Anyway, Ben was about to head home, but I decided to stay because why the hell not. I was there. It was then that I decided to look down for some reason, and I couldn’t believe what I saw: How could nobody have seen that? Oh well. Ben couldn’t believe it either. Since the Phillies weren’t hitting, I headed over here: …and just kind of hung out. My friends were at the game, but they were drinking outside so I couldn’t really leave and join them if I wanted to get back in. Eventually, Darin Ruf came out: …and promptly signed one autograph and disappeared. Eventually, it was time for pregame warmups, where Chase Utley was riding a imaginary horse: Just kidding, he was stretching. And he also threw me my 6th ball of the game. For some reason, I wanted that ball from him. Maybe because he’s a big name player, I don’t know, but it felt good to get that one. That was about it snagging wise. As for the game:
I left before the Nas concert started. I was wiped, and personally, could’ve cared less.
- 6 balls at this game (Imagine if Philly took BP?!?!? THE POSSIBILITIES.)
- 139 career balls
- 29 straight MLB games with a ball.
So, as you may have noticed from my last post, I had a lot of traveling to do today. I woke up with Mateo around 8 am, got some gas, and headed down to NYC. Mateo was going to the Futures Game, but was stopping off at the MLB Fan Cave since they were doing tours (which doesn’t usually happen). I wanted to really go, but I didn’t want to have to miss BP for it. So, I dropped him off in Manhattan and drove across town until I found myself here:
Yay. (feel free to click that.)
In my normal parking spot there was a lot of All-Star Game tents, etc., and even a makeshift Modell’s store: I figured I’d check that out later. I was more concerned with getting on line to be first inside. There were conflicting reports that all gates were opening at noon, then only some, then all again – it was annoying. When I got over to the left field gate though: It was nice and empty. The left field gate gave me the quickest chance to get to the left field seats, and it was confirmed that the gates were opening at noon. I forgot to mention that New York City was in it’s first real heat wave of the summer, as temperatures were in the low 100’s pregame. I could feel myself cooking on the pavement. But hey, I chose to be there. Eventually, it was time to run inside, and as luck (especially mine) would have it, I was the first one to the LF seats, but this was going on: Okay.
Of course, I was alone for a solid 10 minutes where my view looked – uncontested – like this: And after the 10 minutes in the same spot: Yyyyyyyyyyyyup. Not only was it crowded, but it was filled with the most obnoxious fans I’ve ever seen. You know the type. Loud, rude, shoving, mispronouncing other players names to the point where you piss them off and then they just ignore everyone, and pushing. It’s just a baseball people.
I wass more mad because I actually studied the roster, got up early, prepared, and was first inside and I was still shutout. This one incredibly obnoxious putz (lack of a better word) was already on the board with 3, and I felt like pushing him over the Party City Deck railing. I don’t normally feel this way, but he was really pissing me off. To my right was a girl no more than 10 years old with her father who was doing wind sprints back and forth through the aisles each time a ball was hit. Last time I checked in on them, they had 7 on the day.
What bothered me more was that most of the balls were All-Star and Home Run derby Balls. News of this was spreading quickly, which made the crowds even more rabid. It was so annoying, for a Futures Game. I didn’t want to imagine what’d it’d be like for the actual events.
I tried a few different spots. I tried deep left center, down the line, center, lower right, and even the exhausting run to the Pepsi Porch. I’d like to think I’m in good shape, but the heat was so oppressive and the air was so heavy I was drenched in sweat by the time I got up there. Of course, when I did, everyone ignored me even though I knew their names and everyone else yelled UP HERE or OVER HERE. It was just one of those days.
It was almost the end of BP. There was 5 minutes left, and I was up on the Pepsi Porch. I needed to be down in left for my trick that I do to get down low, and I didn’t think I’d make it. If I wanted a game ball, I’d need to go now. I even contemplated going home. But something was telling me to go to left instead.
I ran down back to deep left center, and wouldn’t you know it – a ball slammed into the seats to my left. Someone was reaching for it, and it was all mine. I kid you not, very next pitch – flew right to me and I made the easiest, one handed, underhanded catch of my life. I have no idea who hit it though.
Sexy. I also happened to see Ben Weil, who was empty for the day, and snagged the literal last homer hit into the seat before BP ended, and he was on the board. I quickly made my way over to foul territory before all the players were off the field, and sat here: I was so hot and exhausted from running as fast as I could in the heat that I just kind of sat. And stared at nothing. I wanted to take my shirt off, but felt I’d get in trouble for it. I was so hot I succumbed to Citi Field’s prices and bought two crappy Aquafinas for 10 bucks and downed them quick. Eventually I cooled off, and it was game time:
After a while, I met up with and sat with Mateo and Ben since I decided I was done snagging for the day, and hung out until the game ended. The U.S. won, 4-2. Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Matt Davidson was named MVP. Afterwards, it was time for the Celebrity Game: It was nice to see Bernie Williams go yard. I left a little early, as well.
- 3 balls at this game
- 28 straight MLB games with a ball (I’m counting it as an MLB event)
- 133 career balls
Today’s game was a pretty spur of the moment decision. I was celebrating my anniversary with my girlfriend in the city, and decided to take her to the DBacks/Mets game at night. The day started off with a nice picnic at Croton Gorge Park: …followed by some ice cream (sidebar: if you’re ever in the city, go to Big Gay Ice Cream on E 7th St. Nevermind the name, the ice cream was fantastic.), some walking around and hanging at Bryant Park. I also came across this:
The security at Citi does the same thing every time I’m there: They line everyone up in two very long lines even though there eventually are 8 tables you can line up in to get checked. And when you try to start a new line, they tell you that there’s no line there even though there will be. So I stayed where I was, and wound up being one of the first people inside. I ran over to left field, where I saw fellow NY ballhawks Greg Barasch and Ben Weil. We all separated into different sections, and right away, a player I didn’t think to identify hit a homer into the seats. Greg and I ran for it, and it slammed off a seat and… disappeared for lack of a better word. We looked and looked and couldn’t find it for a good minute or so. Then, I went back down to the front row of the section in case the ball rolled down there. When I got there, a security guard had picked it up, saw that I was actively looking for it, and tossed it to me for my 1st ball of the day. Here’s a visual in case the story was confusing: So, as you can see:
1) Ball enters the seats
2) Ball slams seats
3) Ball rolls down
4) Ball gets snagged
I headed over to the Diamondbacks dugout to try to get a toss up before BP. But, I forgot the stupid rule that the Mets have where you can’t go behind the dugout before the game in case you don’t have a ticket. So instead, I hung out over here – …and watched Greg snag his 3rd ball of the day. I initially wasn’t going to go to this game like I said for a few reasons:
The next day was July 4th, so everyone was off from work.
This game was a fireworks game.
Matt Harvey was pitching.
Since that was the case, the left field seats were already mobbed. I decided to head to center field first. Nothing happened there, just kids screaming at Heath Bell for 10 minutes to give them a ball. Instead, I went over to right field: and after a few minutes, I *politely* asked him to toss me up a ball, and he did. He’s a cool dude. A few minutes later, I was still there. Either Miguel Montero or Jason Kubel came up to hit. I was in the section closest to the Mets bullpen, under the Pepsi Porch. This section isn’t completely covered, which will be important. A liner came right at me, and I tried to backtrack up the stairs. The steps out here are higher than the average stair, so I tripped going up. I leaned my glove out and narrowly missed the ball. By an inch at the most. That one pissed me off. But as luck would have it, he hit another one right at me the very next pitch. So I quickly set myself, put up my glove, and snagged my 3rd ball of the day. My 2nd homer of the day. It felt good. Natalie was on the other side of the park and intently watches every pitch ever since David Ortiz hit her back in Minnesota, and saw the catch. She even congratulated me through text:
I figured I’d outlasted my welcome in right, so I headed back to left. Too crowded. The DBacks ran off shortly after. I went to my usual spot when this happened: Not cool. My main concern was the length of the delay. We had taken the train to this game, and the train I wanted to take the absolute latest left at 12:50. It takes about a half hour to get to Grand Central from Citi, so I needed to leave around 12 in order to make it. To make matters worse, the rain got heavier: So there was that. Eventually, the tarp came off the field: The players then came out to warm up: …and eventually got Cliff Pennington to toss me his warm up ball. I was excited: I tried to get a ball the rest of the game and was positioned here: but nothing came of it. There were too many people there and it was nice to just relax. The game ended around 12:30 a.m. afer a 2 hour rain delay, so my initial plan was out the window. Also, the entire stadium was still packed for fireworks. Then to make matters worse, the 7 train rode past the Willets Point station twice without picking anyone up, thus making us two minutes late for our Metro North train, making us wait at Grand Central for almost an hour, thus getting me home at 4:00 am. Thank you, MTA. Thank you.
- 4 balls at this game
- 117 career balls
- 27 Straight MLB games with a ball.
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
It was Mother’s Day, and I was going to Citi Field. Don’t worry though; I made sure my mom was cool with it before I went, and I had a good reason for going, as you’ll see.
I hit some traffic on the way down, and I was worried I wasn’t going to get a good spot on line. The gates opened at 11:10, and I was there around 11:50. However, people are either too dumb to realize, or too lazy (which is probably the case) to walk the extra 15 feet to a line with 2 people on it, so that’s what I did and I was sixth in line.
Now, I’ve had this game circled on my calendar for a few months now. The whole reason I was going to this game was a secret. A month or two prior, bigleaguebaseballs.com posted a photo of a special ball that was being used on Mother’s Day, and I hadn’t seen or heard much about it since. I wanted to keep the competition down. While I was in line, I didn’t see too many ballhawks around. Which was good.
The gates opened, and instead of going out to left field like I usually do, I headed out to right:
A Mets player sliced one into the seats in foul territory, smacked off some concrete, bounced back onto the field, and I quickly got Dillon Gee (pictured) to toss me my first ball of the day about 2 minutes in. There were a lot of lefties hitting, so I took my spot in this area here and hung out for a bit and listened to a kid get yelled at by his mom:
After a few minutes, I noticed Zack Hample and some other ballhawks below the Pepsi Porch snagging balls. Today would be a challenge for Mother’s Day balls, for sure. I walked up a section and hung out near this awkward area near the right field foul pole:
…and eventually got Jeremy Hefner to toss me my second ball of the day. His toss was weird – he kind of just underhand floated it to me. It was my oddest snag I’ve ever had so far. It’s hard to explain. I moved around to the area under the Pepsi Porch in right, and got denied by Ricky Bones. Later though, a few balls made it to the warning track, and I got bench coach Bob Geren to hook me up with ball number 3 on the day:
…and after a few minutes, a homer was coming right at me. I positioned myself, but the ball was dropping quick, and slammed off the railing in the Party City Deck and went straight up into the air. I stuck my glove out, and if I weren’t incredibly short, my arm length probably would’ve reeled it in. I barely missed it, and it bounced back onto the field. Here’s an idea if you’re a visual person:
Ricky Bones (who had moved to left to talk to Scott Rice) must have saw how I just missed and tossed me the ball for No. 4 on the day. I had previously asked Scott, but he probably remembered me from five days prior when I was there against the White Sox.
That was it for the Mets portion of BP, so when some Pirates came out to toss, I headed over here:
…and it was then I found out that the Pirates would not be taking BP today. I really thought I had a chance at double digits. It was only 11:45, but they weren’t coming out. Bummer. I tried for a toss-up after long tosses, but they all went up to the left field area. I did, however, get Mark Melancon’s autograph:
I asked him if he missed playing in New York, and he said yes. Then I told him he was having an awesome year (which he is, check his stats) and to keep up the good work. I always think it’s cool when athletes approach fans instead of thinking they are better than everyone else.
I headed to my usual spot to try and get a pregame ball:
And there was only one. I tried to get it from Jordy Mercer or Clint Barmes, but they gave it to Pedro Alvarez. Fun tip about him: Every pregame he autographs a ball and tosses it into the crowd (at least the games I’ve been to, anyway). And that’s what he did. So I didn’t get it.
During the game, I was behind the Pirates dugout:
Ben Weil was to my right, and Zack Hample was to his right. Greg Barasch was going for 3rd out balls on the Mets side, so I had a *moderate* chance at a Mother’s Day ball. As soon as the 1st inning ended, David Wright grounded out to third, and it was then that Garrett Jones tossed the ball into the crowd, and I stuck my glove out. There were about 5 hands up in the way, and I wasn’t even sure I had gotten the ball. When I moved my glove back, took a deep breath, opened it up with anxiety, and….
Here are some more pictures of the ball:
Look how gorgeous that is. The writing on the sweet spot was a bit missing, and the Rawlings logo was buffed a bit, but you know what? I didn’t care. It made it unique, and mine. The ribbon was intact, so it was all good. I was just thrilled to have one. Nice job by MLB to make the ball. It happened so fast. I was thinking of different strategies for getting the ball… 3rd out balls, foul territory, umpires tunnel, and just like that, I had one. It was NOT expected at all, given my competition. I had seen Zack get one on a Travis Snider foul ball about 5 minutes earlier, so we were trying to make sure all the ballhawks got one. I laid back for the rest of the time until Ben finally got one in the 7th inning. Here’s a look at his ball which was in a little better shape than mine:
I also took a panorama of the game:
At the end of the game, we found out that Greg had gotten one at the end of the 8th inning, so now that we all had a pink ball, it was fair game for another. So, I headed to the umpires tunnel at the end of the game:
A few minutes later, I got Jose Contreras to throw me a ball on his way into the dugout for my 6th ball of the day. My personal Citi record is 6, and I would’ve broken it easily if the Pirates took BP. Oh well. I love that I’m getting on a hot streak right before my baseball trip. If you don’t know about it, stay tuned.
… as you can see. Greg, Ben, and I got 1 each, and Zack wound up with 3. Then, we parted ways, and I sat in traffic for an hour listening to the Rangers playoff game 6 until I got home another hour later.
- 6 balls at this game (Ties my Citi Field record)
- 97 career balls (closing in on 100!)
- 21 straight MLB games with a ball
I also checked my snags for invisible stamping. Only a few had them, check it out:
I got to Citi Field early Tuesday, and as I went to pick up my ticket, I was disappointed to see this:
WTF, Mets? Instead of getting on line, I had to wait here:
and after what seemed like an hour, I finally got my ticket, and got in line. What was encouraging was that there were no other ballhawks in sight. The competition might not be so bad tonight. After running out to left field, the action was kind of…well… dead. After about 15 minutes though, I got reliever Scott Rice to toss me ball #1 on the day:
See #62? That’s Jose Quintana, and he threw me my 2nd ball of the day. I rounded the bend and hit left field, but the players weren’t throwing anything up much, and the hitters were doing a lot of bunting and slap hitting drills:
That was my 3rd ball of the day, and my 1st Easter egg. It was weird finding it this late into BP (The Sox took away the cages early and were practicing infield drills). Then, I noticed this on the scoreboard (even though I knew this beforehand): Pretty cool. I killed some time on my phone until the players came out for pregame tossing: … and was pretty much uncontested and got Jeff Keppinger to toss me ball #4 on the night. Here was my “seat” for the night:
Matt Harvey was pitching, but to be honest, I was wiped out. I’ve been really tired from grad school finals week, plus I had to pick my grandma up in the Bronx. So, for the 1st time in a very long time, I left a game early. I knew I’d regret it, too. Harvey went 9 innings, and struck out twelve while only giving up one hit. I should’ve stayed. I stayed for one inning to try and get a gamer, which I was also uncontested, so I know that if I stayed all night I would’ve gotten one. Oh well. I’ll be back there Sunday vs. Pittsburgh.I took one last photo outside with my haul for the night:
And then I grabbed some delicious Bronx pizza, my grandma, and then I headed home.
- 4 balls at this game
- 10 balls this season
- 91 career balls
- 20 straight MLB games with a ball
I also blacklighted these balls, and only one had a stamp that was visible. The other 3 were decently worn. Check it out:
I’ll be at Citi Sunday. Are you going? Let me know, come say hi to me.
It was 2013. It was a new season. A fresh start. But I opted to start it here:
I 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:
The 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:
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:
I 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:
Things 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:
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:
… 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:
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:
- 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: