Greg Barasch…a college freshman, Shea Stadium regular, and successful baseball-snagger. (He leaves comments on this blog as “gregorybarasch” and you might remember him from previous entries such as this and this and this.) In fact, he’s such a good snagger that I normally avoid Shea whenever he tells me he’s gonna be there. I was nervous about going to Citizens Bank Park with him because I figured we’d end up getting in each other’s way, but we made it work.
For most of the first hour of batting practice (when all the fans were confined to the left field seats), I positioned myself deep in straight-away left and Greg played shallow in left-center. Our unrealistic goal for the day was not to let any other fans catch a single ball. Our more realistic goal was to combine for 20 balls, and based on how things started, we were well on our way.
I used my glove trick to snag my first ball off the warning track near the foul pole–this wasn’t easy as I had to lean way out and balance on the double-railing over the flower bed–and 30 seconds later I got another ball tossed to me by the Phillies’ strength and conditioning coach.
My third ball was a home run that barely reached the first row and got bobbled by a group of gloveless fans. Then, when the mighty Pat Burrell started taking his cuts, I moved back about a dozen rows and quickly caught one of his bombs on a fly. I was glad to have four balls but frustrated I didn’t have seven. Not only did I misjudge one home run that should’ve been an easy catch, but there were two others that were coming right to me, and at the last second, other fans reached up and caught them RIGHT in front of my glove.
Greg had already snagged a few balls at this point, and I’ll let him share the details in a comment. As for me? I got my fifth ball tossed by Phillies bullpen coach Ramon Henderson in left-center.
As soon as the Rockies took the field, Manny Corpas thwarted my glove trick attempt by grabbing the ball before I had a chance to snag it. Five minutes later, as my glove was once again dangling over the left field wall, I was afraid Brian Fuentes was going to interfere as well, but instead he flipped the ball to me. Moments after I’d recoiled the string and tucked it into the palm of my glove, I caught a home run on a fly that required me to lunge to my left above a mini-cluster of fans who didn’t even see it coming.
The rest of the stadium opened at 5:35pm, and I headed to the right field seats. I saw several balls lying in the bullpen, and I got two of them tossed to me by a groundskeeper-type-dude. I gave the first to a little girl with a glove and kept the second because of the unusual marking. Any theories about what might’ve caused this curved black streak?
I headed into foul territory along the right field foul line and got my 10th ball of the day tossed by some guy on the Rockies named Josh Newman–and I wouldn’t have gotten it if not for my cheat-sheet. Actually, it was Greg’s sheet…sort of. He made one for himself and was nice enough to print a second copy for me. Newman was wearing a warm-up jacket over his jersey, so I couldn’t see his number. I correctly assumed that he was a pitcher, and since he was left-handed, I was able to narrow down the possibilities of who it might’ve been. I knew what Jeff Francis looked like. This wasn’t Francis. I knew Fuentes as well…nope. Was it Jorge De La Rosa? No way. It almost HAD to be Newman, and when I looked at his face pic, I felt confident in yelling his name. Sure enough, he tossed me a ball moments later.
Toward the end of BP, I caught a homer on a fly and grabbed another ball that landed in a small patch of empty seats.
I didn’t bother going to the Rockies’ dugout at the end of BP. I knew Greg would be there, and I was having too much fun chasing home runs, but nothing else came my way.
I caught up with Greg behind the dugout at around 6:40pm. Was it hard to get down there? No. Did security hassle me and ask to see my ticket? No. Did my being there cause any problems? No. And just to give you an idea of how pleasant the vibe can be inside a major league stadium…at one point I was half-standing/half-sitting against a chair in the middle of an empty row when an usher walked over and asked, “Is that your seat?”
“Umm…well, no,” I said nervously.
“Oh, no problem,” she said cheerfully, “’cause if it was, I was gonna wipe it off for you.”
ar Steinbrenner Family, THIS is how to treat people. Psychology 101. If you treat people with respect, they will act respectfully in return. But when you chain off every section and prevent fans from bringing backpacks into the stadium and instruct your vendors to remove bottle caps, people get pissed off and they ACT pissed off, and then you have to spend as much money on security guards as you do on acquiring free-agent pitchers at the trading deadline. So go ahead. Keep being rude…)
Greg and I each got a ball along the left field foul line during/after the Rockies’ pre-game throwing. The ball I got was the product of an errant throw that rolled against the tarp, and I leaned waaay out of the stands to grab it. The ball Greg got? You’ll have to read the comments.
Greg stayed behind the Rockies’ dugout for the entire game and managed to snag a few more balls. I stayed in left-center field because I wanted to catch a home run in back-to-back games. (In case you missed it, I caught a Shelley Duncan homer at my previous game.) But there were only two home runs all night, and both went to right field.
The Phillies won, 6-1. It was a fun day. Apologies for the quick write-up (there’s a LOT more I could’ve written), but I’m getting ready to spend the weekend in Baltimore. Manny Ramirez will be at Camden Yards tomorrow, and he has 499 career home runs…
? 13 balls at this game
? 119 balls in 14 games this season = 8.5 balls per game.
? 108 lifetime balls in 11 games at Citizens Bank Park = 9.8 balls per game.
? 510 consecutive games with at least one ball
? 113 consecutive games outside NYC with at least one ball
? 814 lifetime balls outside NYC
? 3,396 total balls