4/18/12 at Yankee Stadium
For the second game in a row, there was a baseball waiting for me when I made it to the right field seats:
Two minutes later, while the section was still fairly empty, I snagged a home run ball that landed several rows back. I’m not sure who hit it, but if I had to guess, I’d say Brett Gardner.
I do know who hit the following three home runs that I snagged — all in left field: Andruw Jones, Eduardo Nunez, and Jones again. The first of these three landed on a staircase one full section to my right and skipped high up in the air right to me after I’d cut through an empty row to get there. It was kinda crowded at that point, so the lucky bounce was essential. The second was a deep-but-lazy fly ball that carried half a dozen rows back near the bullpen. As the ball sailed toward my section, I drifted roughly 30 feet to my left and caught it thigh-high. The third was a line drive that pretty much came right to me. I caught that one on the fly and then took the following photo of it:
BOO-yah!!! Another Camden Yards commemorative ball.
When the Twins started hitting, I ran back to the right field seats (and stayed there for the rest of the night). This was my approximate view for the rest of BP:
In the photo above, the guy standing on the left with the draw-string “Adidas” backpack is named John. He reads this blog, so he recognized me and introduced himself. We chatted for a while and tried not to get in each other’s way, but there wasn’t much room to spread out.
During the following half-hour, I snagged four more home runs, and I have no idea who hit any of them. Justin Morneau? Yeah, no doubt. And probably Joe Mauer and maybe Sean Burroughs or Chris Parmelee or Clete Thomas. The first of these four smacked off the back wall and landed in the last row. I caught the other three on the fly, and there were people all around.
That gave me nine balls for the day, and I gave three of them to kids. Here I am with two of them — Sean on the left and Chris on the right — whose fathers asked if I’d pose for photos.
Sean asked me to sign his ball, which I did with a “5866” below my name to indicate my up-to-the-minute lifetime ball total.
Did any of you see the Tweet that I’d posted earlier in the afternoon? Well, here’s the pizza:
Shortly before game time, I wandered over to the Yankees’ bullpen (with my friend Andrew, who had just arrived) to watch Hiroki Kuroda warm up:
Several minutes later, he threw a 55-footer that skipped away from Russell Martin. Martin slowly got up and retrieved it and (thanks to some well-timed shouting on my part) tossed it to me. Unfortunately, the ball sailed too far over my head and landed in the seats behind me. Fortunately, there was no one there, so I was able to chase it down.
That was my 10th ball of the day. Reaching double digits always feels great; reaching double digits in New York feels super-duper extra great because both stadiums are really tough in nearly ever conceivable way.
Anyway, here’s a photo that I took of Martin soon after he hooked me up:
The game itself was great, except for my frequent view of this:
In case you don’t see what I’m talking about, here’s a closer look:
(Yes, I’m 12.)
(Deal with it.)
But really, the game was fun. The Twins scored four runs in the top of the first, and the Yankees answered with three in the bottom of the frame. I came really close to Robinson Cano’s homer in the third. (I was directly in line it and watched in horror as it fell three rows short.) Justin Morneau, showing signs of no longer being concussed, went 3-for-4 with two home runs. Derek Jeter, showing everyone that he’s the man, went 3-for-5 with a ninth-inning homer. It was cold and drizzly, and the game dragged on, but it just felt great to be there. Final score: Twins 6, Yankees 5. I love baseball SO much, and that’s really all there is to say.
Here I am with Andrew after the game:
Keep scrolling past the stats for some black light photos . . .
• 48 balls in 6 games this season = 8 balls per game.
• 798 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 545 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 159 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball
• 30 consecutive games at the new Yankee Stadium with at least two balls
• 184 lifetime games with ten or more balls
• 5,867 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 about my fundraiser, and click here to see the prizes that I’ll be giving away to donors.)
• 15 donors
• 89 cents pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $8.90 raised at this game
• $42.72 raised this season
• $19,199.72 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009
Okay, so, remember the whole deal with baseballs and black light? Well, of the seven balls that I kept, two have invisible ink stamps. Here’s a side-by-side comparison:
Pretty nifty, eh? But wait, there’s more — and this is REALLY cool. Another one of the balls seems to be half-covered with invisible ink. Have a look:
Do you see what I mean? It seems that one of the “figure-8″ pieces of cowhide is covered with the stuff while the other piece has none. I wonder if someone at the Rawlings factory did that on purpose just for the hell of it. Any theories?