4/19/11 at Camden Yards
It rained until 4pm.
Camden Yards opened an hour later, and this was the scene:
No batting practice.
A fellow ballhawk from New York (who desperately needs to update his MyGameBalls.com profile) made an unexpected appearance at this game. His name is Alex, and in the following photo, we’re discussing our snagging strategies for the day:
(That’s me on the left in the Mauer shirt.)
Basically, we both wanted to snag as many baseballs as possible without getting in each other’s way, so we negotiated and planned to cover different parts of the stadium at different times.
Five minutes later, Alexi Casilla walked by while bouncing a ball on his bat, as if to taunt me:
My first ball of the day was thrown by Jose Mijares. Here it is sailing toward my waiting glove:
It was dead after that for a solid hour. The only action involved getting Matt Capps to sign my ticket. Here I am showing it to Jona’s camera…
…and here’s a closer look:
Did I mention that it was dead?
There was absolutely nothing to do except sit there:
I decided to pass the time by blowing spit bubbles — a special skill that I picked up at sleep-away camp when I was 12 years old. Here’s one floating out of my mouth:
Jona is normally grossed out by the bubbles. In fact, she hates them so much that she typically responds with violence and abusive language, but things were different this time. Why? Because she had her fancy camera and was willing to take pics.
Here’s another bubble floating out of my mouth…
…and if you can’t spot it in the photo above, here’s a closer look:
Don’t ask me how to blow spit bubbles. When I was 12, I saw a camp counselor doing it, and when I begged him to teach me, all he said was, “It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.” (That’s deep.) Ever since, that’s been my answer whenever someone asks me.
Blowing spit bubbles for the camera made me crack up. That made Jona crack up. And then things just got silly:
Did I mention it was dead?
Shortly before game time, Matt Tolbert tossed me a ball…
…and then I was set to get another from Danny Valencia. Here he is about to throw it my way:
Here’s the ball flying toward me…
…and oh damn:
The ball went to Alex in the 10th row.
Good for Alex.
Bad for me.
It was one of those days.
During the game, I hung out in the standing-room-only section for all the left-handed hitters. Tim Anderson, a Camden Yards regular, joined me for Jim Thome’s at-bats. He normally sits in left field, and in the following photo, he’s pointing out his exact spot:
Thome, sitting on 590 career home runs, went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the 8th inning. Meanwhile, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer didn’t even play. From a ballhawking standpoint, it was a total waste of time.
Here’s a random photo that Jona took during the game (the Orioles won, 11-0)…
…and here I am showing how I felt about having snagged just two baseballs:
On a positive note, this was the 200th consecutive game at which I’d snagged at least two balls — a streak that dates back to the 2007 All-Star Game.
Finally, since it’s now 4/20 as I sit here blogging, I’ll leave you with this:
• 97 balls in 13 games this season = 7.46 balls per game.
• 674 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 200 consecutive games with at least two balls
• 4,759 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)
• $11.48 raised at this game
• $556.78 raised this season