7/31/12 at Yankee Stadium
When the stadium opened at 5pm, I raced out to the right field seats and caught two home runs on the fly within the first two minutes. The first was hit by Eric Chavez, and the second was hit by Curtis Granderson. This was my view soon after:
Then things went dead.
I headed over to left field . . .
. . . and didn’t snag any baseballs there.
After that (and for the first time ever), I went to the second deck in right field. Here’s what it looked like as I entered the section:
This was my view from the front row:
(Nice grass, Yankees.)
In the photo above, the player standing just in front of the warning track is Tommy Hunter. When I asked him for a ball, he turned around and looked at me and yelled, “What’re you doing up THERE?!”
“Well,” I shouted, “I THOUGHT there’d be some left-handed power!”
“That’s what you get for THINKING!” he yelled.
And that was the end of it. No love from Hunter. No homers anywhere near me. Lame City.
Before heading back down to the 100 Level, I took a photo of the seats from above:
Why is Yankee Stadium so tough for ballhawking? Because the crowds are enormous, and there are only 10 rows of seats.
Nearly an hour after I’d caught the two home runs at the start of BP, I got Pedro Strop to throw me my 3rd ball of the day in left field. He tossed it a bit too high. I jumped for it but couldn’t quite reach it. The ball tipped off the very end of my glove and rattled around in the seats. I ran over and grabbed it and handed it to the nearest kid.
My 4th ball was a Mark Reynolds homer that hit the back wall and landed in the folded-up portion of a seat.
During the final group of BP, I headed to right field and got Wei-Yin Chen to throw me a ball by asking him in Taiwanese. Moments later, as I was being told by a mean/female security guard that I wasn’t allowed to be in the section closest to the bullpen (because my actual seat was ONE section over), I saw Endy Chavez hit a high, deep fly ball to right-center. I drifted down the precious staircase that I wasn’t supposed to be on, watched excitedly as the ball bounced high off the warning track, and reached up and caught it right alongside the top of the fence that separates the seats from the bullpen. That was my 6th ball of the day, and without a doubt it was the most satisfying.
Look how sweaty I was after BP:
Shortly before game time, Orioles bullpen coach Bill Castro tossed me a ball from the bullpen. Here’s a photo of him (talking to a cop) that I took moments later:
I gave that ball to a kid and headed to my seat in right field for the game.
The Yankees scored five runs in the bottom of the 1st inning . . .
. . . but look what the Orioles did in the top of the 2nd:
I didn’t expect them to come back from that huge deficit, especially against Ivan Nova. Even after they scored all those runs, I still figured they’d lose, and that shows how little I know about baseball. The Yankees didn’t score again for the rest of the night. The Orioles tacked on four more runs for an 11-5 victory.
After the game (and after many of the fans had left), two guys started playing catch in the Yankees’ bullpen:
I don’t know who they were, but I’m sure they weren’t players. It was pretty strange. They only threw for a couple minutes, and when they finished, I got one of them to throw the ball in my direction. At the time, there was one other fan in the section — a gloveless high-school kid who was standing right up against the netting. I had moved back about 10 feet, hoping that the throw would clear the netting by a wide margin and reach me.
Instead, the ball barely cleared the netting, giving the other fan a chance to jump and catch it. Unfortunately for him, it deflected off his fingertips and bounced right to me. (Sorry, pal. Bring your glove next time.)
That was my 8th and final ball of the day, and I need to show you two photos of it. First, here’s the logo:
The ball appears to have been rubbed with mud, but it’s clearly too flawed to have been used in an actual game. Not only is the logo too low, but the seam is wobbly and asymmetrical.
Now look at the sweet spot:
Have you ever snagged a mud-rubbed “practice” ball? I’m going to assume that the answer is no, only because I’d never gotten one.
Here’s a two-part photo of one of the other balls. As you’ll see, there’s a beautiful invisible ink stamp on the sweet spot:
Finally, here’s a photo of the five balls that I kept:
Yes, five. I gave two to kids and another to someone else who’s been very nice to me over the years.
• 8 balls at this game (five pictured above because I gave three away)
• 362 balls in 45 games this season = 8.04 balls per game.
• 837 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 362 consecutive games with at least two balls
• 176 consecutive Yankee home games with at least one ball
• 6,181 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.)
• 38 donors
• $2.10 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $16.80 raised at this game
• $760.20 raised this season
• $19,917.20 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009