9/29/10 at Citi Field

Citi Field normally opens two and a half hours early, but yesterday was a single-admission doubleheader, so the gates opened just 90 minutes before the first pitch. When I ran inside, I was glad to see that the Brewers were taking batting practice. (Teams sometimes skip BP before doubleheaders.) I hurried out to left field and snagged five balls in a spectacularly short amount of time. The first was a home run that landed in the seats and trickled down into the empty front row:

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The second was another home run that landed in the seats. The third was thrown by bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel. The fourth and fifth were both homers into the seats. I have no idea who hit them. The balls were raining down faster than I could grab them. It was nuts, and it would’ve been even better had two other home run balls not bounced back onto the field.

Every one of the balls had a magic marker streak drawn onto the sweet spot. Here’s a photo of two of them (with Hanel in the background):

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My sixth ball of the day was thrown by Chris Dickerson in left-center field, and my seventh was a ground-rule double hit by Jonathan Lucroy. (Yes, balls occasionally bounce up to the top of that horrendous 16-foot wall in left field.)

Then there was an entire group of lefties, so I raced over to the right field side. My eighth ball was thrown by Jeremy Jeffress in straight-away right…

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…and my ninth ball was thrown by Mike McClendon in right-center:

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Ready for another lame photo of a guy standing around in the outfield after throwing me a ball? Good. Here’s third base coach Brad Fischer:

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Right after Fischer tossed me the ball, he threw another one to a kid — or at least he tried. The ball sailed over the kid’s head, took a wacky bounce off a seat, and rolled right to me…so I picked it up and handed it to him. It was one of four balls that I gave away yesterday, and in case you’re wondering, I do count balls that I give away, even in rare situations like this when the ball wasn’t intended for me. That’s just my own way of documenting my collection. There’s actually one more stat-related thing that I should point out: single-admission doubleheaders count as one “game” for me. You might think that’s dumb, but that’s the way I’ve been doing it since 1990.

Anyway, with a couple minutes of BP remaining, I headed to the Brewers’ dugout, where, unfortunately, the only thing I got was this photo of a fan picking his nose:

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Stadiums are always empty at the start of single-admission doubleheaders. Yesterday I took advantage of that fact in four ways. First, I seized the rare opportunity to photograph a Citi Field bathroom:

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Second, I played for home runs in left field. This was my view during the top of the first inning…

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…and this is what it looked like to my left:

9_view_to_my_left_09_29_10.JPG

Of course, during the 18 innings that were played yesterday, not ONE stinkin’ home run landed in the left field seats.

Third, I spent some time going for foul balls on the 3rd base side…

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…and fourth, I went for 3rd-out balls behind the dugout, where there was VERY little competition:

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I ended up getting a ball from shortstop Luis Cruz after Ruben Tejada grounded into a 4-6 fielder’s choice to end the 3rd inning.

The highlight of my day took place two frames later. Not only did I catch a T-shirt during the “Pepsi T-shirt Launch,” but my mom showed up. Here she is waving to the camera…

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…and here I am showing the front and back of the shirt:

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This was my mom’s first game at Citi Field. Want to know what other major league stadiums she’s been to? Here’s the official list: The Polo Grounds, the old Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Fenway Park, Veterans Stadium (for David Cone’s 19-strikeout performance), Fulton County Stadium, Bank One Ballpark (later renamed to Chase Field), Comiskey Park (later renamed to U.S. Cellular Field), Citizens Bank Park, and Dodger Stadium. That’s eleven stadiums. Not bad, huh?

Speaking of bad, this is what it has come down to for Mets fans:

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The Brewers won the first game, 8-7, and my mom and I sat behind the 3rd base dugout for Game 2. I really wanted a 3rd-out ball from Prince Fielder, but it wasn’t meant to be. (I’ll get one from him someday.) There was a lot of competition, and I didn’t snag any other balls from anyone — not from the umps, not from the relievers walking in from the bullpen…nothing. I did, however, get to see Trevor Hoffman nail down his 601st (and perhaps last?) career save as the Brewers took the second game by the score of 3-1. Here’s a photo of Hoffman pitching to Joaquin Arias:

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Here’s the embarrassing-but-cute photo of the day — the “proud mommy” moment after the second game:

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(Wow, did I really just post that for the whole world to see? And Mom, seriously, did you have to look up at me like that? Jeez. I’m embarrassed just thinking about it.)

One last thing — actually five last things — before I post my stats…

Five of my baseballs had marks or stamps or various oddities that are worth sharing. Here’s one with a “practice” stamp in an unusual spot:

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This one has a huge dirt/scuff mark:

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This next one appears to have a bat imprint on it that says “Private.” What do you make of that?

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Check out this one with a weird green streaky mark:

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And finally, look at the game-used ball I snagged after the 3rd inning of Game 1. I love the texture of the mud combined with the pores of the cowhide cover:

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That’s about it.

I might go to Citi Field tomorrow (depending on the weather), and I’ll definitely be at Camden Yards on Saturday and Sunday. I thought I was done with that place for the season, but damn, I love it too much and just can’t stay away.

SNAGGING STATS:

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• 12 balls at this game (8 pictured on the right because I gave 4 away)

• 285 balls in 29 games this season = 9.83 balls per game.

• 658 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 497 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball

• 358 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball

• 20 consecutive games at Citi Field with at least two balls

• 131 lifetimes games with at least ten balls

• 4,643 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

• 48 donors (click hereto learn more)

• $7.53 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $90.36 raised at this game

• $2,146.05 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball

10 Comments

Seeing your highlights from this game make me jealous I didn’t go.

Ben

Ditto,

Although today was pretty good during the game except the one day I wanted to get a foul ball the Mes decided to invite everyone in the stadium to the field level.

I LOVE the pic of you and your mom! So sweet. Sorry. : )

The ball stamped ‘Private’ is pretty unique. Is that the first one you’ve seen like that? I’ve never seen anything like it. I love the dirt in the game-used one; I’m nerdy like that, too.
http://torontoblogjays.mlblogs.com/

BEN-
Yeah, but you’re off on your own adventure, right? (Or are you back?)

FISCHERMATEO-
Whoa, they really opened up the whole Field Level? Sorry it happened at your expense.

VEGANTEMP-
Yeah, yeah…

JSKOOL81-
I’ve snagged other bat-imprinted balls. Check it out:
http://www.zackhample.com/baseball_collection/photos/weird/bat_imprints2.jpg
But I’ve never seen one with the word “Private” on it.

Zack,

Love the pictures of the clean bathrooms! LoL.

Anyway, Thursday I was at Kauffman Stadium, and went to the batters eye to see how many baseballs were there. Eight. I chickened out again to climb down there, and get them. Friday night I went back. Only two were down there. I decided against going after them. I went to the game again on Saturday. Still two. But there is an Early Bird Special Tour you can take to get into Kauffman an hour earlier than the gates open. Also, I snagged TWO Inaugural Target Field baseballs! TWO! I thought Id comment, and brag a little. Lol.

I hope you had a great season, and let us know if youre planning on making it to any playoff games this year. Im hoping I can get out to Cincy to see the Reds play.

Your friend,

Wayne

i had no idea you were there!!!!! i was at the first game!. i got one ball from the mets ball boy (i was sitting in the sterling club with a friend)

I am in the middle of a move and didn’t see the post on your father. RIP Stu Hample and prayers to you and your family.

I caught a Dodger Stadium 50th anniversary during BP. For the first time I noticed they marked it with a blue permanent marker. What is the purpose of that? Does it have something to do with the visiting team useing them…..

WAYNE-
Congrats (two years later) on the commemorative balls.

GOISLANDERS4-
Sterling club . . . well, aren’t WE fancy.

CIMONSW-
Thanks.

FRANK CALDERON-
Is the streak on the sweet spot? If so, it’s there to make the ball worthless to autograph collectors (or in other words, to prevent the players and employees from stealing them and getting them signed).

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