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.
• 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
(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