By the time Yankee Stadium opened at 5pm, the line outside the bleachers was VERY long:
That’s right…the bleachers. I’d been there for the first time in my life just nine days earlier at the Futures Game, then went back the next day for the Home Run Derby. This was my first regular-season game in the bleachers.
I was the first fan to enter the stadium, and it paid off. See the guy wearing No. 30 in the photo below?
That’s David Robertson, a 23-year-old reliever who’s been pitching extremely well since getting called up last month from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If you don’t know about him, you should–and now you do. Anyway, I’d never even been able to get his attention from the seats near the foul pole, but on this day, because I was right behind him and had the bleachers to myself for five whole seconds, I convinced him to toss me a ball that had sailed over his head and rolled onto the warning track…and yes, it was a Yankee Stadium commemorative ball. For the last few weeks, I haven’t seen a single ball being used by the Yankees that has NOT had this commemorative logo.
I managed to get one more ball before the Yankees
finished their portion of BP at 5:40pm. It was a home run that landed
in the gap between the bleachers and the outfield wall, and I used my glove trick
to fish it out. The pic below shows this gap, and although it’s kinda
hard to see from this angle, there’s a net hanging from a steel cable
in the middle:
The bleachers had remained pretty empty while the Yankees were on the field. Here’s what the section looked like from the last row…
…and this was the view from the aisle down in front:
Nice, huh? You’d think I would’ve caught about 19 home runs out there, but there was a disappointing lack of longballs. I didn’t count the ones that reached the bleachers, but I’d say there were no more than half a dozen…in eighty minutes. It was lame, and by the time the Twins took the field, the section was packed:
Did you notice the kamikaze pigeon? That was pretty much the only thing that flew anywhere near me during BP, but it almost didn’t matter. Not only did I use my glove trick to pluck three more balls from the gap (the last of which I handed to a nearby kid), but I had a secret weapon:
You know how I own baseball caps of all 30 major league teams? Well, I’ve started buying T-shirts, and this one with “Twins” across the chest helped convince both Carlos Gomez and Dennys Reyes to toss balls my way. Ooh yeah.
Being trapped 400 feet from home plate didn’t leave many options once BP ended, so I ducked back into the concourse and headed around to the LF bleachers. At least there were bullpens over there, and as soon as I reemerged in the seats, I saw a group of kids shouting for a ball that was sitting somewhere down below. I squeezed to the front and peeked over the railing, and sure enough, there WAS a ball sitting in the flowerbed at the base of the stands. Just as I started lowering my glove, two things happened:
1) A groundskeeper hurried over and grabbed the ball and tossed it to a woman who needed three tries to catch it.
2) Half the kids recognized me (from various interviews and articles) as “that guy who collects balls.” They were all really cool. We talked for five minutes. A few of them had caught balls earlier in the day. It was a snagging love-fest, and we all posed for a group photo:
The people sitting in the front row were so annoyed by the fact that we were blocking their view of…nothing…that they wouldn’t move. That’s why you can see the backs of their heads on the lower right.
On my way back to the RF bleachers, I took a photo of something that needs to be shared. Remember during the Home Run Derby when two fans ran out onto the batter’s eye to chase one of Josh Hamilton’s bombs? Remember when one of these fans eluded the cops and raced down what probably appeared to be an empty tunnel? Well, in case ESPN didn’t provide a good view, here’s what it looks like from the other end:
For the first nine outs of the game, I sat in the front row in right-center with the following view to my left:
Wow. Too bad there weren’t any home runs that landed in the bleachers, and too bad I had to move when the rightful/gloveless owner of that seat showed up. I only saw a handful of fans with gloves the whole night. Why? Because the so-called “bleacher creatures” are too busy being obnoxious to do anything else, such as catch a baseball or actually think about what’s taking place on the field; when Dennys Reyes made two consecutive pick-off throws in the bottom of the sixth, the fans’ outrage and obscenity was so severe that you’d have thought he took a dump in Monument Park.
When Denard Span took his position in right field for the Twins, one fan screamed, “HEY, SPAN, YOU SUCK!!! YOU EVEN SUCK ON THE VIDEO GAME!!! YOU’RE NOT EVEN ON THE VIDEO GAME!!! YOUR MOTHER’S A YANKEE FAN!!! Then another fan yelled, “Drink lotsa water, Spanny! Yer gonna be running around all night!”
Later, when the peanut vendor made an appearance and shouted, “Hey, peanuts
here!” another fan yelled, “Don’t crush the nuts! Hey! Sack of nuts
here! Big nuts here! Are they salted or unsalted? He’s got salty nuts!”
When a fan walked by with an “I love NY” T-shirt, another fan shouted, “New York hates you!”
It was like this all night.
At one point, the creatures spotted a fan who was both a) on the phone and b) wearing a button-down shirt and tie. Good looking guy. Young. Not more than twenty-five years old. Casual business attire. No penny loafers or tweed blazer or anything too conservative. Just a nice, relaxed, dressy look. Well, about a hundred fans started chanting in unison: “LOSE THE TIE, LOSE THE TIE…” which was followed by, “OFF THE PHONE, OFF THE PHONE…” When the young man failed to end his call, the fans chanted, “BUY BUY BUY, SELL SELL SELL, BUY BUY BUY, SELL SELL SELL…” Then one of the fans hollered, “At least loosen it!!!” Finally the guy loosened his tie, at which point the whole section chanted, “YOU STILL SUCK, YOU STILL SUCK…”
It was funny at first but got old really fast. Can you imagine sitting through all that trash-talking day after day? One fan had the right idea and listened to his walkman throughout the game. (I’m surprised he didn’t get made fun of for simply having a walkman.)
And oh my God, you should’ve heard what the creatures shouted at the few fans who were dumb enough to wear Mets gear. I can’t even repeat it on this blog.
Overall, it was a fun experience, and I hope to make it back out to the bleachers before the season is through.
Final score: Yankees 8, Twins 2.
? 7 balls at this game
? 260 balls in 36 games this season = 7.2 balls per game.
? 532 consecutive games with at least one ball
? 119 consecutive games at Yankee Stadium with at least one ball
? 3,537 total balls
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the Twins were using a combination of commemorative balls and regular balls. I wish I didn’t have to say this…BUT…please don’t email me and ask for a commemorative ball. I can’t count the number of requests I’ve gotten. It’s really getting out of hand. Sorry if this makes me seem greedy, but I truly love owning every single one of these special balls. I’m not interested in selling any, I’m not going to trade any, and I have no plans to give any of them away. Ever. Not even to my own future kids. I will take these balls to the grave and be buried with them. (Actually, I plan to be cremated, but you get the point.) If you’ve been reading this blog all season, then you know that I’ve started giving away balls at just about every game I attend, but those are regular balls, and I give them out AT the stadium (to kids with gloves who are trying hard to snag on their own). Once I take a ball home, that’s it. It’s not going anywhere. Especially commemorative balls. That’s just how it is. Some collectors keep every single ball. Others give most of their balls away. I fall somewhere in the middle, and I hope that’s okay.