I’m in North Carolina.
I’m also exhausted, so here’s a cheap recap of yesterday at Shea.
The Mets didn’t take batting practice, so I had no choice but to beg for balls for the first hour. The first one I caught was thrown by backup catcher Ramon Castro after I got his attention by pretending to play catch with him near the dugout. (Hey, whatever works.) I didn’t have to say a word.
My second ball was left on the field by the Mets after Jose Reyes pushed it past a few fielders during a bunting drill. It had rolled through the 5.5-hole and into shallow left field, so I took off my Mets hat and put on my Phillies hat and ran to the 3rd base side and convinced manager Charlie Manuel to go get it and toss it to me. He also signed my ticket stub.
Once the Phillies started hitting, I moved to left field and…well, let’s just say that the usher out there, after seeing me in action for all of two games this season, is now determined not to let me catch another ground ball, ever. (Luckily, he’s old.) So my begging continued.
My third ball was accidentally thrown over Randy Wolf’s head by Terry Adams. It landed on a sloped, grassy area between the field and the stands and skipped into the empty seats near the foul pole. Three balls, three different sections.
Todd Pratt threw me my fourth ball as soon as I yelled his nickname (“TANK!!!”) and jumped up and down and waved like an idiot. He was over 100 feet away and fired it at least 60mph.
Rheal Cormier tossed me ball #5, and Cory Lidle followed two minutes later with ball #6. Nothing fancy there. I was just waiting in the left field corner where there weren’t many other fans, wearing my Phillies cap, calling the players by their first names while raising my voice an octave to sound younger, saying “please,” and making sure they saw my glove.
I got Cormier to sign a 2003 ticket stub from an Expos-Phillies game at Olympic Stadium and ran to the Phillies’ dugout as BP was ending. Just after Milt Thompson rejected my request for one of the 150 balls he was pouring from the bucket into an equipment bag, I overheard some guy telling his friend about a ball that was stuck in some netting. I looked to the right, and there it was, a beautiful new ball caught in the L-screen. I climbed over a couple railings to get closer and pointed it out to Pete Flynn, the Mets’ head groundskeeper who was working with a few other guys to clear the field. It took him 30 seconds to get the ball free, and then he tossed it my way. That was it for the day. Seven balls. Not bad for the circumstances.
And now, some stats:
2,458 total balls
27 this season in five games
5.4 balls per game
387 consecutive games with at least one ball caught.
I’m going to a Greensboro Grasshoppers game tomorrow. More on that later…