4/17/11 at Yankee Stadium

I attended this game with my friend Danny. Here we are together outside Gate 6, waiting for Yankee Stadium to open:

Danny’s the one with the crazy/awesome hair, and you probably noticed that I pointed out two other fans in the background. More on them in a bit…

The sun was brutal during batting practice…

…and since this was a Sunday, the seats ended up getting really crowded.

I managed to snag two baseballs during the Yankees’ portion of BP, both of which were home runs by Brett Gardner. I didn’t see the first one coming and only realized that it was heading my way when the people around me started jockeying for position. The ball ended up landing 15 feet to my right in an empty row; I caught the other one on the fly.

Now, remember the fan named Edwin in the first photograph? He snagged a ball during BP and asked me to sign it. Here he is with it:

Note the number underneath my name. That was my current/lifetime total of baseballs, and because I snagged a few more soon after, Edwin is the only person who will ever have a “4741” autograph.

I headed over to left field when the Rangers started hitting. This was the view:

See the fan in front row with the gray and red jacket? That’s Jordan, a fellow ballhawk who’s pretty much just getting started with all of this and already knows what he’s doing. I first met him on 4/9/11 at Citi Field and saw him snag a bunch of balls that day.

In the photo above, did you notice the piece of paper taped to the camera?

Here’s a closer look…

…and here’s an even closer look:

It was a cheat sheet with all the players’ faces and names. I used to make sheets like that every game. They really come in handy when trying to identify people, but it’s time-consuming, so I stopped. But now, of course, I’m wondering where that particular cheat sheet came from and if I could somehow get my hands on a copy in the future. Hmm.

The left field seats got crowded:

It wasn’t packed, but as you can see, there wasn’t a totally open row anywhere.

Halfway through the Rangers’ portion of BP, I got Arthur Rhodes to throw me my 3rd ball of the day. Ten minutes later, I snagged two home runs balls pretty much back-to-back. I caught the first one on the fly (after maneuvering around a gloveless, beer-drinking man) and grabbed the second one after it landed. Not sure who hit them. I gave the second ball to a young fan in the front row.

That was it for batting practice — not terrible, but still kinda lame, at least compared to my record-breaking performance three days earlier.

Danny and I sat in straight-away left field during the game, and there was room to run. Check out the view to my right:

In the top of the first inning, Adrian Beltre lifted a deep fly toward the section on my right. I sprung out of my seat, scrambled around the railing, scurried through the empty row, and seriously thought the ball was coming right to me. Ultimately, it carried a bit too far, so I jumped as high as I could for it and missed it by TWO FEET. It landed two rows behind me, and I dove for it (without seeing exactly where it was), but another fan had already snatched it, and before I even stood up, he’d thrown the ball back onto the field. Crapola.

In the photo above, do you see the fan with the red sleeves one section away? That was Jordan, and in the bottom of the 5th inning, he snagged a Russell Martin homer! The seats were more crowded by then, and Jordan was actually trapped in the middle of the row, but Martin hit the ball right to him. The fans in front reached up and bobbled it. If not for them, I’m sure Jordan would’ve caught it on the fly, but anyway, the ball squirted back a few feet, and he was all over it. Nicely done.

There was thunder and lightning during the game, and it rained pretty hard for a few minutes, but thankfully there was no delay. It was cold. The game hadn’t started until 8:05pm — it was the ESPN game of the week — and I wanted to get home. Mariano Rivera took care of that by retiring the Rangers in order in the top of the 9th. It was his seventh save of the season (to go with his 0.00 ERA) and the 566th of his career. The man is not human.

Jordan and I each got a ball from the Rangers’ bullpen after the game. And that was it. Six balls for me. Lots of frustrating moments and close calls. But it was fun hanging out with Danny. That was by far the highlight of my day. Here we are after the stadium had emptied out:

Next time Danny’s gonna bring his glove, and hey, random plug, but he has a poetry blog, so if you’re into that kinda thing, check it out. Here’s the link.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 6 balls at this game (five pictured on the right because I gave one away)

• 83 balls in 11 games this season = 7.5 balls per game.

• 672 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 144 consecutive Yankee home games with at least one ball

• 4,745 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more.)

• 36 donors

• $5.74 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $34.44 raised at this game

• $476.42 raised this season

Finally, here’s a two-part photo that shows the balls in regular light vs. black light:

13 Comments

I was gonna shoot you an e-mail saying I saw you on both the Beltre and Martin home runs on the highlights last night. Beltre HR you were so close to, the Martin HR, as you said, would have been difficult to get in the middle of. Either way, it’s fun to watch baseball and be able to pick out people in the crowds.
 
2131 and Beyond: The games. The news. The experiences. The Orioles.
 

Hey Zack,

great to compete with you at the game ast night. finally made a mygameballs account. jordanelkin3 is my page, hope to see you soon.

Awesome game- i just watched both homers and i really saw how close you were on the beltre.

The one game I think to myself and actually posted as a status update on mygameballs.com that no ballhawks would show up to. Zack we’ve got to offset our calendars or something because this is just ridiculous. Every game I have been to is a bit much. Although, you have set your personal record twice with me around.

Just read your 9/17 tweet. So check my e-mail for even more hilarity,
Mateo

Actually, that would be YOUR e-mail. I’d rather you not check my e-mail account.

Is that TV camera in the first row new? I don’t remember seeing it last season. Seems like it would really obstruct the view for the people sitting behind it in the third row.
-Todd

Hi Zack, its Vincent remember the two kids you met on 4/4/11 at Yankee stadium, well i was reading your twitter blog and you said you will be at Citi Field on both Thursday and Friday of this week. Me and my friend Adam will be attending both games and maybe we could meet up again during BP or outside the gates. Enjoy the rest of your time in Baltimore and have a safe trip home.

-VIN

AVI-
Very cool that you saw me. Very un-cool that I’m not 6-foot-8 because if I were, then I would’ve caught the Beltre homer.

JORDAN-
Same here and congrats again on the home run ball. Now you need to upload some pics to your MyGameBalls.com profile.

JON MADDEN-
Yeah. Sigh. Really frustrating.

MATEO-
Ha, yes, MY email. I’m pretty much going to games every day (except day games, if I can help it), so we’ll probably be seeing a lot more of each other. I’m gonna be out of town all next week, though, so assuming you aren’t coming to Texas, we won’t be getting in each other’s way. :-)

TODD-
There’s usually not a camera there. I think it’s only there for big/nationally televised games.

VIN-
Cool. Just look for me outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda before 5:10pm or else I’m sure we’ll find each other inside the stadium.

And just as I was booking my flight to Arlington too.

Hey Zack. Longtime reader here. I actually saw you and Danny at this game haha. I was standing in line by the 3rd base dugout area towards the end of bp and I saw you guys run up the stairs, looked like some old usher booted you two. I was gonna come over and say hey… but those are some long lines hahah. Grats to hear you snag a few, I got there late so didnt get any balls, and sadly I sat down the 3B line field level near the foul pole but not one close foul ball. Hopefully I’ll see you again somewhere haha

MATEO-
Now THAT would be something.

KYLE-
Yeah, we certainly did get booted out of the section. Sorry to hear that you and I missed each other, but next time you see me, please come say hey. (And thanks for reading the blog.)

Hi Zack. I was going through old entries, and remembered about the cheat sheet. I think it may have come from MLB Pressbox (www.mlbpressbox.com)
– Jared
superslugger.mlblogs.com

Cool. Thanks.

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