What a stupid day. The White Sox didn’t take batting practice, and the game ended with Ken Griffey Jr. in the on-deck circle. But don’t worry. I still snagged five balls.
I used my glove trick to pluck two of the balls from the gap behind the outfield wall, and I had to work fast because there was another guy who had a ball-retrieving device of his own. His name is Tom (aka “runshouse” if you read the comments on this blog) and his device was a cup trick, which you can see on the ground in front of his right shoe in the following photo:
I also got a ball tossed by Phil Hughes and caught a home run on a fly. I think it was hit by Wilson Betemit. I’m not sure, but I can tell you that I made a pretty nice play on it. I was standing about 10 rows back in straight-away right field when the batter lifted a high/deep fly ball a bit to my right. I quickly determined that it was going to reach the stands but fall short of my row, so I climbed onto the bench in front of me and then cut diagonally–down and to my right–by stepping directly from one bench to the next. As the ball was in mid-air, I shifted my gaze between the benches (so I wouldn’t break my face) and the ball (so I wouldn’t lose it against the bright sky) and reached the spot where it landed at the last second. Several people without gloves reached up for it. I kinda reached through them (without bumping into anyone) and made a back-handed catch that drew applause from everyone in the section. It wasn’t a dazzling play by any means, but it still felt good.
You know what else felt good? All four of my balls to that point were commemorative:
Sadly, though, when the Yankees jogged off the field at 5:40pm, the White Sox were nowhere in sight:
Eventually some Sox pitchers came out and played catch along the left field foul line, but because there’s no access between the bleachers and the main part of the stadium, this was as close as I could get:
Nice view…sort of…but not ideal for getting another ball…at least not at first. After about 10 minutes, two of the pitchers–Ehren Wassermann and Mike MacDougal–walked all the way out to the bullpen to do some more throwing. Wassermann started off on the mound with MacDougal crouching for him behind the plate. When they switched and MacDougal walked past me, I asked if he’d be able to spare the ball when he was done. (I put in my request early because there was another fan with a glove and a White Sox cap.) He looked up and nodded, then pitched to Wassermann for another five minutes or so, and finally hooked me up with the ball.
That was it.
I spent the whole game in the right field bleachers, standing in various tunnels…
…and hoping to catch a home run off the bat of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, and/or Griffey, but the Fantastic Four went a combined 0-for-15 with six strikeouts.
Bobby Abreu tossed his 9th inning warm-up ball directly over my head–30 feet over–and Mariano Rivera mowed down Chicago on seven pitches to earn his 36th save of the season and preserve reliever Phil Coke’s first major league win.
Final score: Zack 5, Yankees 4, White Sox 2.
I’m thinking the Sox skipped BP because they’d swept a doubleheader the night before and probably didn’t arrive in New York City until the wee hours. The question is…did they score a measly two runs because they were tired or because they neglected to take BP? I already know the answer. I hope Ozzie Guillen knows it too and makes his team hit every day for the rest of this four-game series.
? 5 balls at this game
? 474 balls in 61 games this season = 7.8 balls per game.
? 557 consecutive games with at least one ball
? 123 consecutive games at Yankee Stadium with at least one ball
? 3,751 total balls