8/14/12 at Yankee Stadium
For a change, I headed up to the second deck in right field at the start of BP:
The good news is that I snagged two baseballs there, both of which were home runs by Ichiro that landed in the seats. (I gave one of those balls to the kid pictured above in the “JETER” shirt.) The bad news is that I should’ve had half a dozen. Let’s just say that luck wasn’t on my side.
My 3rd ball of the day was a ground-rule double, hit by a right-handed batter on the Rangers, that I caught on the lower level in left field. Then I scooted through a row and carefully maneuvered around a seated women for my 4th ball — a home run that I caught on the fly.
My 5th ball was a homer that landed in the tunnel at the back of the section. Some 20-something-year-old guy with no glove had used his arms and elbows to block me as I hurried back for it. He had no idea where it was going; he just didn’t want me to get past him as I made my way up the stairs, so I shouted “DON’T BLOCK ME!!!” and he quickly stepped aside. I then blew past him, and when the ball landed in the tunnel, I was all over it. As I returned to the seats with it moments later, I saw him turn to his friend and say, “He’s good.” I gave that ball to a kid, and I gave away my next one as well — a line-drive homer that I somehow caught on the fly in the middle of a thick cluster of fans.
I spent the next 10 minutes in straight-away right field and watched helplessly as home run balls landed all around me. It was so crowded out there that I couldn’t move more than five feet in any direction. Eventually, though, a left-handed batter (not sure who) hit one right to me, and I caught it on the fly. That was my 7th ball of the day. Ten seconds later, a father approached me with his little boy and asked, “Could he just take a quick look at it?”
I handed the ball to the kid and said, “You know what? You can keep it.”
“Are you serious?!” asked the father.
“Yeah, no problem,” I said. “I’ve already caught a few today.”
“Can I give you twenty bucks for it or buy you a beer?”
“Nah, no need,” I told him, “but I’ll tell you what . . . ” Then I reached into my backpack and pulled out one of my contact cards. “Here, take this,” I said. “That’s a good deal, right? A baseball in exchange for a website hit?”
“Absolutely,” he said. “You just made his day.”
I didn’t want to put the kid (or the father) on the spot by asking to take their picture, so I waited until they turned away from me. This was the scene:
In the photo above, the father is wearing olive-green cargo shorts and bending down with his hands on his knees. His son is barely visible just past him, and if you look closely, you can see the ball in the kid’s glove, just below the father’s right ear. The photo above also (kinda) shows how crowded it was.
Soon after I gave that ball away, I heard a voice say my name from above. It was a guy named Pat Duffy, whom I’d met outside the stadium earlier that day. He and I had recently been tweeting back and forth a bit, and if you’re in the mood for an R-rated laugh, check out his Twitter handle. Cool guy. Here he is with his girlfriend and the ball that they’d snagged:
After getting kicked out of the right field seats for committing the horrible crime of not having a ticket for that section, I headed back to left field for the final group of BP. That’s where I snagged my 8th ball of the day — a rather long toss from Alexi Ogando. Here he is shortly after hooking me up:
He wasn’t THAT far away when he threw it to me, but whatever. The real story behind that ball is that my friend Ben Weil was the one who called out for it. Ben was in the last row at the time. I was in the . . . 5th row? I don’t remember my exact location, but anyway, Ogando lobbed it in Ben’s direction, but it happened to fall short and come right to me. (Sorry, Benny! Not.)
When the Rangers jogged off the field at the end of BP, they left a ball sitting on the warning track near me. Lots of fans were shouting for it when the groundskeepers passed by, and when it was tossed up, I caught it and handed it to the lady on my left. That was my 9th ball of the day.
Here’s a group photo that was taken after BP:
In the photo above, from left to right, you’re looking at Ben Weil, Greg Barasch, Matt Latimer (a baseball reporter whom you might remember from 6/19/12 at Yankee Stadium), me, Mateo Fischer, and Mark McConville. The reason why I’m standing there with my arms dangling dumbly at my sides is that I was completely sweaty and didn’t want to contaminate my friends.
During the game, Ben and I sat together in straight-away left field, and at one point in the early innings, this was the view:
See the woman wearing green at the bottom of the stairs? She and a bunch of other fans were dressed as superheroes.
In the middle of the 3rd inning, I noticed that Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda had a no-hitter. Here’s a photo of the scoreboard:
Three innings later, the no-no was still intact:
Just before the Rangers came to bat in the top of the 7th inning, I posted the following tweet:
I didn’t want to jinx the no-hitter by mentioning it, so let me ask: I didn’t say anything wrong, did I? Yes, it was a suggestive tweet, but I figured it was harmless.
Well, wouldn’t you know it . . .
On the VERY FIRST pitch of the 7th inning, Elvis Andrus hit an infield single, at which point I posted a follow-up tweet:
Kuroda ultimately had to settle for a two-hit shutout. Final score: Yankees 3, Rangers 0.
After the final out, I got my 10th and final ball near the bullpen from Rangers bullpen coach Andy Hawkins. Then I took a photo of the superheroes. Look closely and you’ll see that three of the ladies were posing for me:
Here are logos of the five balls that I kept . . .
. . . and here are the sweet spots:
The ball in the middle without the “practice” stamp is the one that I got from Hawkins.
Ready for a few more photos of balls? Good.
Two of the balls have invisible ink stamps. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of one in regular light versus black light . . .
. . . and here’s a comparison of the other:
Did you notice the double invisible ink stamp on the ball above? I wonder why that happened. Show of hands — who wants me to ask my friend at Rawlings to explain it?
• 10 balls at this game (five pictured above because I gave five away)
• 423 balls in 52 games this season = 8.13 balls per game.
• 844 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 578 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 180 consecutive Yankee home games with at least one ball
• 6,242 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.)
• 42 donors
• $2.26 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $22.60 raised at this game
• $955.98 raised this season
• $20,112.98 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009