The bad news is that I suffered an unfortunate cell phone incident toward the end of batting practice (don’t ask–all I can say is that Yankee Stadium is cursed) and rushed home soon after. The good news is that I didn’t get shut out, and in a way that’s big news because I’d ended the previous game with exactly 3,499 lifetime balls.
Before we continue, here’s a mini-history lesson:
My 500th ball was thrown by Cardinals catcher Terry McGriff at Shea Stadium on June 27, 1994.
My 1,000th ball was thrown by Braves pitcher Pedro Borbon Jr. at Shea on June 11, 1996.
My 1,500th ball was thrown by Twins pitcher Hector Carrasco at the Metrodome on September 24, 1999.
My 2,000th ball was thrown by Phillies pitcher Joe Roa at Olympic Stadium on May 24, 2003.
My 2,500th ball was a foul ball hit by Mets utility man Marlon Anderson during a game at Shea on June 7, 2005.
My 3,000th ball was retrieved with my glove trick at Yankee Stadium on May 7, 2007.
I was hoping to find a ball lying in the seats when I ran up to the upper deck, but no, I had to settle for yelling at LaTroy Hawkins instead. His first throw fell considerably short and landed in the seats below. Thankfully, he tried again and launched a beautiful commemorative ball right to me. No competition. No problem. Ball No. 3,500 was a done deal:
Before long, a dozen other fans had made their way down to the front row, including three lovely young ladies who quickly got a ball tossed to them by Alberto Gonzalez.
I didn’t mind the competition for two reasons. First of all, it enhanced my view…
…and secondly, two other players tossed balls over the ladies and into my waiting glove.
After I caught the second overthrow, some random guy protested and practically demanded that I give them the ball–and I might have if not for the fact that a) it was another commemorative ball, and b) none of the ladies were wearing gloves. To me, this indicated that they didn’t really care about snagging baseballs, and sure enough, halfway through batting practice, they left the seats, returned five minutes later with Dippin’ Dots, pulled out their cell phones, and started texting.
That’s when I caught my fourth ball of the day–a standard ball that was thrown by a Rangers player that I couldn’t identify. The ladies started complaining, and the random guy continued his pathetic protest. (Dude, next time, just be direct and ask for their numbers and leave me out of it.) I responded by telling them all that I only give balls to kids with gloves. Then I walked over to a young fan who fit that description and asked him if he’d gotten a ball yet. He said no, and I told him that if he didn’t get a ball by the end of BP, I would give him the ball that I’d just snagged. (Funny how neither the ladies nor the random guy said a word to me after that.)
Well guess what…
The kid’s father, who was sitting about a dozen rows back, ended up snagging the ONE home run ball that landed in the upper deck. Can you believe that? One lousy home run in 80 minutes of batting practice?! What a ripoff. But anyway, I was happy for the kid, and since he had a ball coming to him, I picked out a different kid and handed HIM the ball instead.
Here I am with the three balls I kept, all of which were commemorative:
Here are two more pics from batting practice. The first shows a fan (unsuccessfully) using a cup trick…
…and the second shows what happens when there are too many annoying fans crammed into one section:
The player who was shagging in right field got tired of hearing everyone asking for balls and wrote his answer on the warning track. I’d never seen that done before…
…and that’s pretty much it. I’m about to head off for a long weekend at the lake with my family. My next game will probably be on Tuesday the 8th. Possibly in Philly. Possibly at Yankee. Possibly at Shea. Possibly nowhere if the weather sucks. I don’t know, but I can tell you this: you’re going to be playing another round of “Where’s Waldo” on July 14th. Stay tuned…
? 4 balls at this game
? 226 balls in 31 games this season = 7.3 balls per game.
? 527 consecutive games with at least one ball
? 116 consecutive games at Yankee Stadium with at least one ball
? 3,503 total balls