6/18/12 at Yankee Stadium

I started out in left field and snagged two home run balls within the first few minutes:

The first was hit by Mark Teixiera and deflected perfectly off a seat. The second was hit by Alex Rodriguez and landed in the tunnel closest to the bullpen. Those were the only two batted balls that I snagged all day.

The seats were more crowded than usual during the Braves’ portion of BP:

As a result, the only ball I got was a toss-up from Craig Kimbrel. When he threw it, I was positioned in the 4th row, and there were so many people around me that I had to climb up on the *back* of a seat to catch it. Think about that. I didn’t stand on the folded-down/cushion-y part of the seat; I elevated above the crowd by standing on the thin/curved plastic part in back.

Before the game, while hanging out on the bleacher terrace, I got my 4th ball of the day from Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey. This was my view after catching it:

In the photo above, do you see the wide metal ledge on the right? Harkey’s throw fell several feet short, so I jumped/dove/lunged over the ledge and caught/trapped the ball against the side wall down below. (I was never in any danger of plunging over, so relax.) Let me try to explain this with as much detail as possible . . .

In addition to falling short, the throw also sailed a couple feet to my right. Rather than reaching all the way across my body with my left arm and trying to make a backhanded catch, I allowed the ball to hit the side wall, at which point I swatted at it with my glove in a forehand motion, kinda like how a first baseman would scoop up a short-hop on his glove side. (Is this making any sense?) The ball made a loud clanging noise as it struck the metallic side wall, but my glove was just in the right spot for me to snow-cone it. Meanwhile, I was laying across the ledge on my stomach with my feet off the ground, so yeah . . . even though it was a toss-up, it required quite an effort. As I made the catch, everyone below me in the bleachers shouted “OHHHHHHH!!!” and then applauded. Harkey pointed at me and made a series of fist-pumps. The whole thing was pretty cool.

After that, I tried to get a ball from the Braves bullpen, but all I got was a good view of Mike Minor warming up:

This was my view during the game:

I normally sit in right field, but because both starters were left-handed (CC Sabathia was pitching for the Yankees), I knew that there’d be  lot of right-handed batters. Right-handed batters, of course, are likely to pull their home runs to left field, so that’s why I sat there.

In the top of the 5th inning, I noticed that the Yankees hadn’t yet gotten a hit. Click the photo below for a closer look at the manual scoreboard:

Did you notice how crowded it was? Just about every seat was full. This is what I have to deal with in New York, especially this time of year when the weather’s nice and kids are out of school. Ballhawking is more fun everywhere else.

A-Rod broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff single in the 5th — and that’s when I got bored and antsy. I started playing with my camera and took photos like this . . .

. . . and this:

What else was I supposed to do? I had waaay too much energy to sit still, and it was frustrating as hell to be stuck in one section and KNOW that certain power-hitters WOULDN’T hit the ball there no matter what. I’m talking about Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Brian McCann and Jason Heyward. Lefties rarely hit home runs into the left field seats at Yankee Stadium, yet there I was, feeling more trapped than ever.

In the bottom of the 6th inning, I “almost” caught a Mark Teixiera homer. As the ball was sailing toward the section on my left, I scooted through the narrow space below the State Farm ad and got in line with it. I was RIGHT THERE in the perfect spot. All the ball had to do was reach me, but no, it fell four rows short. Here’s a screen shot that shows me (in the lower red circle) and the ball (in the upper red circle):

Here’s a screen shot that shows me throwing my arms up in disgust . . .

. . . and here’s another screen shot that shows the woman who snagged the ball celebrating like crazy:

She was SO excited and hyper that (a) the Yankees’ announcers talked about her briefly on the air and (b) a reporter from MLB.com ventured out to the left field seats and interviewed her. Here’s a photo of the reporter during an inning break:

When the reporter was exiting the section, I asked him what the interview was for.

“It’s for the woman who caught the home run,” he said.

“No, I know that,” I replied. “I mean, where is it going to appear.”

He told me that it was going to be on a blog on MLB.com called “Cut4,” and sure enough, here it is. I then mentioned my baseball collection to him, and before I even finished my sentence, he said, “Wait a second, are you the guy who’s on MLBlogs?” He had actually heard about me and had been hoping to run into me. He asked for my contact info and said he wanted to interview me the next day during BP, so we’ll see what happens.

As for this game . . . Sabathia went the distance, and for the Yankees, it was their 10th consecutive win. Final score: Yankees 6, Braves 2.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 4 balls at this game (pictured on the right)

• 208 balls in 28 games this season = 7.43 balls per game.

• 820 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 345 consecutive games with at least two balls

• 6,027 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 about my fundraiser, and click here to see the prizes that I’ll be giving away to donors.)

• 34 donors

• $1.89 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $7.56 raised at this game

• $393.12 raised this season

• $19,550.12 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

10 Comments

I didn’t wind up going tonight – hardly any on stubhub and the ones that were…. a little out of my price range. Hopefully it doesn’t carry on this summer. I’ll be at Citi Saturday if you go (but I know you avoid Subway Series Games).

Watched the game tonight wondering if you were there. The Braves just can’t buy a break these days. Glad you got a ball from reigning NL Rookie of the Year lol. Hope you can make it down here soon and pad some numbers.

Hey Zack! Check out my latest post and see my new gloves! Let me know if you want one and I will hook you up with a great glove at a nice price! Let me know when you will be out west too!

John

http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com

Awww. I think it’s sweet how excited the woman got. Good for her.

I love interleague games!
Just a large sidenote for you: Id you read Quinn’s comment about your last game, then you will know what I’m talking about. I went to the past two Bisons’ home games on Saturday and Sunday and I was threatened several times by this 50-something year old season ticket holder who sits by the third base dugout. The game on Sunday was at 1:00, so naturally I was outside the left field fence 11:15. This guy and his daughter came up to me at about 11:30 OUTSIDE the stadium before I had even gotten a ball and told me not to come anywhere near “his” section at all today. I know for a fact that his daughter at least matched my total for that day (I only got three that day because there was no BP and I had to leave in the fifth inning.) so there is no way he should be complaining at all about me. He tells me to give other kids a chance, but his daughter will get four balls per game that other kids could’ve had and he doesn’t stop her. He also doesn’t put restrictions on other kids on how many we can get. He has also turned the entire section against Quinn, Austin, and I numerous times. On Saturday Josh Kroeger caught a fly ball in right field and came into the right field dugout. As you might expect, his daughter along with ten other kids are screaming their heads of in the front row. I waited FIVE rows back and just stuck my glove up. Of course, Kroeger spotted my Boston jersey (the Bisons were playing the Pawtucket Red Sox) and tossed me the ball. He turned around and started screaming that I was a jerk. I told him to shut up. The thing is, this guy has seen me give baseballs away to kids and yet he continues to yell at me whereas he keeps all of his. There are now more people that yell at Quinn, Austin, and I because this guy tells them that we get too many. He tells us we are stealing balls from little kids who are only coming once a year, but those are the kids we give balls to. Whenever he sees any of us anywhere in the stadium, he stares us down and will usually say something like “Go sit in your seat.” His daughter and him are up and trying to get balls all game long and he has the nerve to tell us to sit down. I had tickets right near him on Sunday, but I didn’t go down there because I didn’t want to deal with him. I was just wondering if you had any tips on how to deal with him. Obviously, this guy is just greedy and wants all of the balls for his daughter and then he calls us greedy.
Thanks,
Danny

http://nybisons.mlblogs.com/

I snagged 5 balls at Citi Field last night, 2 in the left field seats by the home run apple, including one from Racaniello, two out in centerfield, and one by the dugout. I ran into Ben and some other ballhawks by the dugout.

CHRIS H-
Yankee Stadium will probably be crowded for the rest of the season. As for Saturday, there’s approximately a zero percent chance that I’ll be there.

MATT H-
I miss Turner Field so much that it almost makes me angry that I’m not there.

JOHN-
Those are some snazzy gloves, but I really don’t need a new one right now. I just got my two gloves fixed up this past off-season, so I’m all set. I’m going to be at Dodger Stadium on July 16-17. Other than that, I have no plans to be on the west coast.

LIZ MERRY-
Yeah, I suppose, except for the fact that she was dancing around with the ball and holding it up for the rest of the night. It got a bit tiresome.

DANNY-
That’s rough. I find that when people basically demand that I give baseballs to kids, the best/funniest way to shut them up is to hand them a baseball and say, “Here you go. YOU give it to the kid of your choice so that YOU can be the hero.” They usually back off after that and realize how stupid they are. It don’t do this often, though. I’ve gotten good at avoiding confrontations and, for the most part, making sure that people are happy. It sounds like the guy you’re dealing with is beyond being reasoned with, but let me ask you this: Has he actually SEEN you give balls away to kids? I’ve had to deal with security guards who thought I was the biggest jerk ever because they didn’t happen to SEE me give away any of the hundreds of balls that I’ve parted with in recent seasons. It sucks to have to put on a show for some maniac when all you want to do is make a kid happy, but I suggest that you strategically give away balls at the right moment so that everyone around you sees you doing it. I prefer NOT to make a spectacle of giving balls away, but I’ve learned that sometimes it’s necessary. You could also report him to security for harassing you. And while you’re at it, take up karate.

SKIM-
Nicely done!

Everybody-
Check out my blog @ edison1037.wordpress.com and leave a comment! Thanks!!! (I know its pretty smpty since I just started it…..:))

Just wanted to let you know that I finished The Baseball today. I literally read it cover to cover because I enjoyed it all so much. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet you again so you can sign it (and you won’t have to share a ball with Barry again!). I really like your use of —’s —I’m starting to use them all—the—time—now.
—Connor

“LIZ MERRY-
Yeah, I suppose, except for the fact that she was dancing around with the ball and holding it up for the rest of the night. It got a bit tiresome.”

Hellooooo! She’s a Yankee fan! Tiresome is de rigeur.

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