8/3/12 at Yankee Stadium

I began the day with a total of 299 baseballs at the new Yankee Stadium, and it didn’t take long to snag No. 300. Within seconds of running into the right field seats for BP, I grabbed an Eric Chavez home run that landed several rows deep. Thirty seconds later, I sprinted nearly a full section to my left and caught a Raul Ibanez line-drive homer on the fly. Then, less than two minutes after that, I snagged a ground-rule double by Chavez that bounced in the seats, and one minute later I caught a Mark Teixeira homer on the fly in the last row.

Phew!

The seats started filling up after that, and when I had a moment to spare, I took a photo of my first ball of the day. Check out the asymmetrical seams:

I didn’t snag anything during the next group of BP, but when the Mariners started playing catch in shallow left field, I got two balls thrown to me. The first came from John Jaso, and the second came from Trayvon Robinson. Here’s a photo of Robinson before he hooked me up:

My 7th ball of the day — a ground-rule double to straight-away left field — was sliced by a left-handed batter. John Jaso? Dustin Ackley? Kyle Seager? Mike Carp? I have no idea. All I can tell you is that I made a nifty play on it. Check out the red numbers in the following photo, and then I’ll explain:

When the ball was hit, I was standing in the front row where the number 1 appears. I then darted to the number 2, turned right and bolted up the steps to the number 3. That’s where I was when the ball landed on the warning track, but I wasn’t yet in line with it, so I kept cutting across to the number 4. The ball skipped through/over the hands of the people in the front row, allowing me to catch it in the 3rd row while still on the run.

After BP, I gave one of my baseballs to a little kid with a glove, who was clearly upset that he hadn’t snagged one. He wasn’t being a brat about it. He wasn’t flaunting his emotions as a means to an end. I could tell that he was genuinely disappointed, so I handed one to him.

Before the game, I headed here:

Kevin Millwood was warming up, and when he happened to bounce one of his pitches, the ball was tossed to pitching coach Carl Willis, who flipped it to me. When Millwood finished, bullpen coach Jaime Navarro tossed at least 10 balls into the crowd, mostly to fans in the bleachers. It was an awesome display of generosity, and I’m glad to report that I got one of them. That was my 9th ball of the day.

I gave away another ball before heading to my seat in right field. Soon after I got there, I took a photo of something that I haven’t shown before — the bleacher creatures doing “roll call.” Have a look:

It’s no secret that I don’t care for the Yankees, but I have to admit that this tradition is incredible. For those who don’t know, there’s a famous fan named “Bald Vinny” who leads it at the start of every game. (Vinny can be seen in the photo above. He’s standing several rows back and wearing sunglasses, and his head is poking up above everyone else.) All the fans collectively chant each player’s name and clap rhythmically until that player waves or acknowledges them with some sort of gesture . . . from the field . . . BETWEEN PITCHES!! Then they move on to the next guy. Sometimes it gives me chills.

The highlight during the early innings was seeing a fan wearing a “Yankees suck” t-shirt:

There’s a rule at the stadium prohibiting fans from wearing “clothing deemed to be derogatory, profane or offensive,” but given the fact that Yankee fans regularly wear shirts that say “Boston sucks” (and worse), security couldn’t say anything to this guy.

The highlight during the middle innings was the sunset . . .

. . . and the highlight during the final innings was seeing a kid with no shoes:

Another highlight (which was actually a lowlight because it frustrated the hell out of me) was when Dustin Ackley crushed a home run that sailed about seven feet directly over my head. Take another look at the photo of the bleacher creatures. See the fan in the blue shirt who’s sitting down and playing with his phone? He’s the one who caught it . . . on the fly . . . with a VERY old glove that was falling apart. He ended up throwing the ball back onto the field — directly to Nick Swisher, the right fielder, who caught it and then pointed at the fan as if to say, “You da man.” (Okay, fine, maybe it WAS a highlight after all.)

The Yankees won the game, 6-3, behind a 103-pitch, 10-strikeout, complete-game effort from CC Sabathia. I was hoping to get one more ball after the game so I could reach double digits, but it wasn’t meant to be.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 9 balls at this game (seven pictured here because I gave two away)

• 375 balls in 47 games this season = 7.98 balls per game. (BTW, I’ve given away 108 balls this season. Yes, I just combed through all my blog entries and counted.)

• 839 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 364 consecutive games with at least two balls

• 178 consecutive Yankee home games with at least one ball

• 6,194 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.)

• 38 donors

• $2.10 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $18.90 raised at this game

• $785.50 raised this season

• $19,944.50 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

Two of the balls that I kept have interesting marks on them. Here’s one . . .

. . . and here’s the another:

Strange, huh? Any theories about how those marks got there?

Two other balls have invisible ink stamps. Here’s one . . .

. . . and here’s the other:

I’m not sure when my next game will be. Monday in Philly or Baltimore? Tuesday at Citi Field? It’s nice to have options (even though one of the options sucks) because I’m loving baseball right now as much as ever.

21 Comments

Maybe the second ball hit the bp cage

You’re one lucky son of a b….well, you know…. It must be insanely awesome to be able to hit up as many games as you do! It’s easy to see why you’re loving baseball as much as ever!

That picture of the kid with bare feet proves my theory: the Yankees wear pajamas as their home uniforms. On another note, I’ve only gone to one game ever at the Rogers Centre, but really large fan in RCF did a roll call and all of the Blue Jays waved to him. None of the other fans joined in with him.

For the 2nd ball… Looks like it was sitting at the bottom of a BP bag, looks like netting marks.
-Chris

http://ballhawker.mlblogs.com

Do you know anyone going to baltimore on 8/11? I might go……

Hey…a somewhat irrelevant question here.

I noticed that the 2 Marlins Commemorative balls i got had different sized – commemorative logos…have you noticed this, or is this incredibly rare? Thanks a ton.

SUPERSLUGGER-
Interesting. I like it.

BRIAN-
Ha, thanks. If I could, I would seriously attend a major league game every day for seven months (except the All-Star break, when there are a few days without games).

COOK & SON BATS-
Funny about the PJs, and wow to the one-man role call in Toronto. I wish I could make it to Baltimore this week to see you and the M’s, but I’m not so sure it’ll happen.

CHRIS-
Yeah, I’m thinking netting.

BASEBALL FAN-
No idea.

CRAZY FOR COMMEMORATIVES-
Can you post a photo?

Maybe I can help with the Marlins situation, since I noticed something also:

On the left is a ball, on the right is one I got in Miami as well. They definitely don’t look similar, the color looks different, and maybe it’s just me, but the fish in the ball on the left looks bigger/more defined than the one in mine. Hope that helps.

-Chris

http://ballhawker.mlblogs.com

The roll call is great! Typical Yankee fan arrogance that they don’t stop until the player awknowledges them! Love it!

Oh, typo in your ball totals. It can’t be $18.90 pledged per ball and $8.40 total for the game.

CHRIS-
I don’t see much of a difference. The size seems to be identical. The ball on the right seems to have been stamped with, like, two percent more ink. No big deal, in my opinion.

LIZ MERRY-
Thanks for the pointing that out. It’s supposed to be $2.10 and $18.90. Just fixed it.

it occurs to me that you should be doing ernest cline’s “ready player one” easter egg hunt. Apparently the third challenge is you have to set a world record in a game …. sounds up your alley. Maybe you’d look good in a delorean

Hi Zack. Went to a game with my boy when he had a broken leg at Citizen’s Bank Park. You were herding your Aussie clients around and we saw them get a couple of balls. ( Unpaid for endorsement ;))

Managed to get a couple of balls including 100 year Fenway one from the ultra cool reliever Ant Varvaro and some of the coaches.

Now my boy had a genuine broken leg (in A’s colours, which doesn’t help too much with other teams) but some guy come up in an arm cast that really didn’t look too genuine, asking for balls. Don’t think he got one, but not sure.

Here come some ethical questions;
In your opinion, is it ok to use props?
Is it ok to snatch a ball when someone else has called for it from the field?

We’re off to the A’s/A’s game tonight, bleachers, and my boy is keen to try out the glove trick. Cast is off unfortunately……

Hey Zack, It’s my first time posting on the comments section, and I just want to say I really like this blog. I mostly read it on my phone, but occasionally I’ll go on my computer. Anyways, I wanted to ask, I’ve read all the Marlins Park entries, and I plan on going there this Friday, but I’m not looking for 15+ balls. Where’s the section that guarantees 1 ball? I was going to buy tickets in the first row of the lowest deck in right field, but the Home Run Porch above makes me think it’s not so good. But looking at pictures of the Home Run Porch, it’s ridiculously far from home plate. They really need to bring the walls in. What do you think? I really would like to catch a commemorative ball, but there’s no way to affect that. Thanks in advance.

Nice entry Zack, but I’m hoping you also made it to Felix’s game on Saturday? That was something to watch. Felix dominating the Yankees has got to be one of the most unique occurrences of the last few years. Your opinion?

BEN JORDAN-
You lost me.

PANTERA-
Congrats on the Fenway commemorative ball (and hello, by the way). To answer your questions, props are fine, although I would frown upon someone pretending to be injured. My hats and shirts are props, and when I was on crutches last year, I used my “walking aids” to help me get a few toss-ups from players who would have likely otherwise ignored me. Some people thought this was the most horrible thing ever. Some even suggested that I was faking my injury to get sympathy from the players. (I wasn’t faking it. I was milking it. Big difference.) So whatever. If some kid has to wear a fake arm cast to get toss-ups, it probably means that he sucks at catching homers, so I personally wouldn’t worry about him. As for reaching in front of people on toss-ups, I think it’s wrong if the ball is clearly intended for someone else, but if it’s a random toss, then yeah, go for it. Warning: the glove trick is very much NOT allowed in Oakland.

NOT JUAN MAYZ-
Thanks for reading and commenting. The way to *guarantee* snagging a commemorative ball is to buy your way into the seats behind the visitors’ dugout and wear some gear of their team. You WILL get a 3rd-out ball. BP is tough in Miami because the stadium doesn’t open early enough for fans to see the Marlins — unless you get a Clevelander ticket (and the people at the Clevelander happen to decided to open two hours before game time, which is when they’re supposed to open anyway). It’s really a mess at that stadium.

KSLO69-
I wasn’t there (a weekend day game after a night game at YANKEE STADIUM — are you MAD?!), but I watched the whole thing on TV. My opinion is . . . that it was awesome.

Thanks for the info, I’ll look into it. Should I look for home plate end seats or outfield end seats? My gut tells me outfield, any play in which the outfielder/first baseman ends with the ball will give me a good opportunity. Just by reading your entries, you always camp out on the outfield end, and it seems like you’re rather successful. Maybe my childish charms will get me a couple of balls that day. Another thing, do you know how commemorative balls are introduced into the system? Are they in the ball buckets/bags before the game? If the Marlins provide the balls, they should have some commemorative balls in there. I guess the home team always provides balls.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Friday will be Hanley’s first game in Marlins Park as a Dodger, so I can see some large crowds for that game, especially behind the Dodger’s dugout. Maybe that’s not the best day, although it would be nice to give him somewhat of an ovation on his return. He was an idol here in Florida.

How old do you have to be to start a blog

When is your next mets game

NOT JUAN MAYZ-
The outfield end is usually good, but if there are lots of people there, or if there’s a pitcher with lots of strikeouts, then the home plate end is better. I really don’t know if the Marlins are using commemorative balls during BP. Every team is different. (Teams with jerks in charge tend not to use commemorative balls during BP.)

BEN ZITOUNI-
I have no idea.

ZACK V-
In a few hours.

See you there

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