8/22/12 at Citi Field

For the first time this season, my mom joined me for a game. Here we are outside the Brooklyn Dodgers Rotunda:

The stadium wasn’t crowded during batting practice, but the emptiness didn’t help while the Mets were batting. During the one — that’s right, ONE — group of hitters that I got to see, a grand total of zero home runs reached the seats. I can no longer use words like “unbelievable” to complain about BP at Citi Field because . . . this is simply how it is. David Wright and Jason Bay take their cuts before the stadium opens, Scott Hairston occasionally hits one out, and the rest of the hitters are left-handed and/or worthless. Thankfully I managed to get Daniel Murphy’s attention, and when his wimpy-ass throw fell embarrassingly short, some other player that I didn’t recognize retrieved it and flipped it up to me. This was a significant ball . . .

. . . because it marked my 400th consecutive Mets home game at which I’ve snagged at least one ball — a streak that began in 1992 at Shea Stadium.

As you can see below, my mom was blown away by this incredible achievement:

Several minutes later, the same mystery Met threw another ball into the stands, this time to a teenage girl who tanked it and bobbled it near me. I grabbed the ball (just as some old guy was swooping in) and handed it to her.

The left field seats never got crowded . . .

. . . but there was no action until close to 6pm. Two days earlier, the first two groups of Rockies had hit at least a dozen homers into the seats, but now? Nothing.

Things eventually picked up, and I snagged four home run balls. The first landed in the third row in left-center; I sprinted one full section to my left and grabbed it. The second was a line drive that pretty much came right to me; I moved back three rows, took a couple steps to the side, and caught it on the fly. The third was a towering fly ball that landed 20 feet to my right; I drifted through my row, settled under it, jumped, and caught it back-handed above a gloveless man. I then gave that ball to the smallest kid with a glove. The fourth home run landed 20 feet to my left; I caught it thigh-high as it nicked the glove of a skinny teenager. I gave him the ball even though he fell into the “too old/too bad” category. I don’t know who hit any of these balls, but I remember catching the last two during the final group, when there were just two hitters: Jordan Pacheco and Andrew Brown. (Yes, I could read their uniform numbers from nearly 400 feet away — numbers 22 and 12, respectively.)

My mom and I got some food after BP — a turkey sandwich for her and chicken tenders with fries for me. After the national anthem, I made an unsuccessful attempt to get a pre-game warm-up ball along the left field foul line. Then we moved 20 (or so) rows back for the first pitch. My plan was to sit in straight-away left field, but because the first three Rockies batters were left handed, I decided to stay in foul territory for the top of the 1st inning. I mean, why not try to catch a foul ball when there’s absolutely no chance of catching a home run, right?

The Rockies went down in order and didn’t hit anything near me. That’s when I decided to head toward left field, but rather than heading directly up the steps to the concourse, we cut through the mostly-empty seats. No harm in that, right? Well, at one point, when I turned around to make sure that my mom was keeping up, I saw her GETTING TO HER FEET one full section behind me. What the hell?! I hurried toward her and discovered that she’d fallen down and twisted her ankle!

Now, just to give you a visual of how/where this happened, here’s a photo that I took the following day:

Take a look at the rows to the sides of my finger. See how the row on the left is perfectly flat and level? See how the row on the right has a useless, dangerous, ill-conceived “platform” that rises six inches up? My mom fell off that platform because she didn’t realize that there WAS a platform, and okay, fine, she should’ve been paying more attention to where she was walking. She’ll admit that herself, but why is there a goddamn platform there in the first place? Twenty minutes earlier, I had actually told her to be extra careful because “there are lots of weird steps and places where the concrete is hazardous.” I shouldn’t have to warn someone about that. This is supposed to be a baseball stadium where people go to have fun, but instead it’s like a prison where people can easily get hurt.

Yes, I bash the Mets a lot because they deserve it, but I also give them credit when it’s deserved, and this was one of those times. My mom could barely walk, so I found a security guard, who called Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The EMS people showed up several minutes later with a wheelchair, brought her to the first aid room, and took great care of her. Here she is (from the thighs down) being examined on a padded table:

She was in so much pain that we were advised to go to the hospital for X-rays. Rather than taking an ambulance (which would’ve cost more than $600), we took a cab to Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. Big thanks to the Mets employee (I didn’t catch his name) who wheeled my mom out of the stadium (at some point in the 4th inning) and took us to the place (under the elevated tracks of the No. 7 train) where the cabs were waiting.

Half an hour later, this was the scene at the emergency room:

We got there at around 9pm and didn’t get out until close to midnight. The good news is that my mom didn’t break any bones. The bad news (and yes, I realize that this is insignificant compared to matters of health and wellness) is that I seem to have lost my Rawlings baseball glove. I can’t find it at my place, so I’m thinking I dropped it amidst the post-injury commotion at the stadium. I’ve checked the lost-n-found at Citi Field. It’s not there. I’m very very VERY upset about it — and for a number of other reasons — but most importantly, my mom is gonna be okay.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 6 balls at this game (three pictured here because I gave three away)

• 460 balls in 57 games this season = 8.07 balls per game.

• 849 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 400 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball

• 6,279 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.)

• 42 donors

• $2.26 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $13.56 raised at this game

• $1,039.60 raised this season

• $20,196.60 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009

Given everything that happened at this game, it feels funny to be sharing black light photos, but the show must go on! Two of the three balls that I kept have invisible ink stamps. Here’s one . . .

. . . and here’s the other:

While we’re on the topic of baseballs and black light, do you remember the double-stamped ball that I snagged last week? Well, I got an explanation from my friend at Rawlings.

I had emailed him about it and said, “My theory is that the ball didn’t pass inspection the first time, had to get sent back to the stitcher, and got a smaller/secondary stamp in the process.”

His response went as follows: “Yes that is why it would have two stamps. It probably meant a second person went and fixed it. I guess the first person couldn’t get it fixed.”

And there you have it.

15 Comments

At least your mom is ok. Most important thing at the end of the night. Lucky there are no breaks. It’s becoming a shame at how depressing it is to go to Citi Field sometimes. Crap hitters, weird stadium planning, and they couldn’t beat the 43-76 or whatever it was Rockies once out of 4 games. I hope I get the Houston commemorative this weekend. Whats with you taking people to Citi and getting injured? (Kidding). You going at this weekend?
– Chris

http://ballhawker.wordpress.com/

You lost your glove? What will you use now?

Zack, I am glad your mother is fine. Falls can be real serious with older people. Citi appears to be a real dump. The glove thing sucks and I would be pissed off as can be but that will die down and you will move on.

Speaking of injuries, it appears from Mygameballs.com that Erik Jabs suffered a fractured spine and herniated disc in a ballhawking collison. That is pretty serious and shows that people need to be careful out there. No baseball is worth suffering a possibly life altering injury.

Big Glove Bob

Aye! No! That was a beautiful glove! Hopefully it turns up. Did you check back at the hospital or the cab company? Is that the little first aid room just to the 3B side of the rotunda? If so, that’s where we had to go when Kellan bit it on the concrete and skinned up his knee out by the play area. That wasn’t caused by any ill-conceived design flaw, just an active boy running around too fast for his little body. Hope your mom is feeling better.
-Todd

Did they change the name of the rotunda, and I simply didn’t know it? And please send your mom my regards. That stupid @ss mother f%*#ing stadium never fails to make lives worse. I can never find enough words to express how much I hate it.

Glad your mom is ok. Sorry about your glove. I lost mine a couple of years ago on the San Diego Trolley. My fault. Lastly, do you really have to take the Lord’s name in vain?

Oh no! Your poor Mom! What the heck was wrong with the ballpark designer? Those weird concrete things and the Dodger worship. It’s just plain bizarre. I have not yet been to Citi, but it becomes less appealing every tine I read something about it. I will post something on the Mets message board about your glove. Doubt it will do any good, but you never know. That is some major suckage.

Sorry about your mom. Can’t believe you lost your glove.

CHRIS-
Ugh. Yeah, I’ll be there today. Definitely not tomorrow. Possibly Sunday.

BLUE JAYS FAN 75-
I have (or at least HAD) two gloves. One is/was a Rawlings. The other is a Mizuno, which I only bring to stadiums when there’s a chance to use the glove trick . . . so in other words, never in New York.

BIG GLOVE BOB-
I recently heard about Jabs. I just emailed him last night to find out what’s going on. Scary stuff.

TODD-
I called the hospital. No luck. I think I must’ve lost it at the stadium because once I left game, I had no reason to open my backpack. I didn’t call the taxi people because we didn’t take a yellow cab from the stadium. We took one of those semi-sketchy “T” cars, so there’s no way to track it down.

BEN WEIL-
No, *I* have changed the name of the rotunda; the New York Mets built a shrine in their stadium to the Brooklyn Dodgers, so from now on, I’m calling it the “Brooklyn Dodgers Rotunda.”

LEIGH-
Thanks. As for the Lord’s name, yes, in this case, I had to. It instantly made me feel better as soon as I typed it.

LIZ MERRY-
Thanks. I’ll take whatever help I can get.

DYLAN-
I’m still in a state of shock.

Zack, Tell your mom I hope she is feeling better. I feel bad about her twisting her ankle. As for the glove, was it the one whenre you caugt the 762′ ball with?

When you throw your baseballs in your backpack, do you know which ball is which, or do you just care about how you got each ball?

MIKE-
I’ll pass along your well wishes, and as for the glove, yeah, that’s the one.

SKIM-
I pretty much just toss ‘em all in, but if I catch an extra special ball (like the one that made it 400 straight games), I’ll place it in a special compartment and mark it later.

Wow, you may have to account for that one someday in the future before God. I suggest you ask for forgiveness before you get there.

Greetings from Alaska Zack! My name is Daniel (and I’m over 40 for those of you scoring at home)…I’ve thouroghly enjoyed your exploits
reading your blog. It’s always been fascinating to me to snag a baesball. I’ve come close-once! (this knucklehead clobbered me blindside AND broke my sunglasses scrambling for a BP ball smoked by Ichiro at Arlington!) I envy your abilities to go to all the parks- Although, I was at the very last game at old Arlington Stadium…George Brett’s last game!…Anyhoo, I digress. Is there anyway I could snag a ball from the old Master Zack? I have always wanted an official ball from a game…I’d be glad to pay for one. I noticed several you had from LA- lifelong Dodger fan here…game used one would be greatness! Listen, I’m a big kid at heart when it comes to things like catching a ball. Have fun rest of the way this season and hope to hear from you!
God bless,
Daniel Gipson
Wasilla, Alaska

LEIGH B-
Haha, good one.

DANIEL-
Thanks for the comment and sorry to hear that you haven’t ever been able to snag a ball. I’ve never sold one, and I only give them away to little kids at games, but if you just want *a* ball, I’d suggest leaving a comment on my newest entry. Lots of people read the comments, so you might find someone who’s interested in selling one. I hope that helps.

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