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.
• 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
(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: