MLB.com officially launched MLBlogs less than 24 hours ago, and I’m already getting dissed on various message boards. People are calling me a loser and a quack, saying that my hobby is weird, debating whether or not I’ve actually collected over 2,400 balls (the exact number is up to 2,451, by the way), claiming that the trick with my glove is “complete bs!” and assuming that I “must be loaded with cash to be able to attend all those games.”
So let me start by setting one thing straight: I’m completely weird. The whole baseball thing is just one part of it. What else is there? Well, let’s see…my average bedtime is after 6:00am. I’ve never been stung by a bee. I don’t own a cell phone. I’ve taken one bite of McDonald’s food in my entire life. I have a rubber band ball that weighs more than me. I’ve hand-written over 14,000 pages in my personal journals since 1995. I’ve memorized every two- and three-letter word to make myself better at Scrabble. I’ve never been drunk. I’ve wallpapered my entire apartment with pictures from magazines. I have over 100,000 baseball cards. I’ve made my own name-that-tune game and tested over 300 friends and family members on their pop music knowledge. I’ve set world records on five video games. And I’ve never tasted Coke or Pepsi.
There are probably some more examples, but I can’t think of them right now. Anyway, I don’t think I actually TRY to be weird. I just do what I do because it makes me happy, and it just so happens that most people do things differently. But we all have our hobbies, passions, and obsessions. Some people love fishing. Other people, presumably, love miniature Scandinavian peppermills. And I love collecting baseballs at major league games. It’s just one of those things.
Now let me clear up something else…
I haven’t collected all 2,451 of my balls during games, and I regret that some people heard about my collection indirectly and were led to believe otherwise. Anyone who claims to have caught that many game balls (except maybe Carlton Fisk) is full of it. It’s just impossible. Out of all my balls, 79 were gamers: 76 fouls, two home runs, and a ground-rule double. The rest are mostly from batting practice and other pre-game warmups, while others came my way after games. (If you want to learn how to get a ball after the game ends, read my previous entry.)
That raises another issue: do practice balls count?
Some people say no way, others say why not, and I say it’s up to the person who catches them. If you get a ball during BP and you don’t think it should count, then don’t count it. Give it away. Sell it. Play with it. Stick voodoo needles in it. I don’t count balls from spring training or the minor leagues, but you might. And that’s cool. You know those guys who hang out on Waveland Avenue outside Wrigley Field? A few of them only count home runs during the game that they catch on the fly. The point is that there’s more than one way to do this. Obviously, I’d rather catch all my balls during games, but that’s not realistic, not unless I show up right before the first pitch. But why would I want to stay away when my ticket allows me to enter the stadium early and watch batting practice? And if I’m showing up early for batting practice, I might as well bring my glove and try to catch some balls. And if I’m going to try to catch some balls, I might as well go all out and use every possible strategy and trick to increase my chances. Get it?
I don’t go to every game. I wish I could, but I work five nights a week. I also run a weekly writing group, and I’m trying to find time to finish writing my second baseball book. I have movies to see, songs to download, books to read, friends to visit, and lots of other dorky hobbies that need attention—so I’m lucky if I can make it to one or two games a week. And when I do, you can read all about it right here.
If this is your first time checking out my blog, consider reading my bio and all the entries. You’ll learn about “the glove trick” and get a better of idea of what I do and why I do it. Oh, and if you want to check out that message board, here’s the link.