I attended this game for one reason only: to catch Alex Rodriguez’s 600th career home run.
The day, of course, started with batting practice, and there was quite a surprise waiting for me on the inside of Gate 6. Check it out:
It’s a little hard to see, so in case you can’t tell, Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte was there to greet fans and hand out the giveaway. (It was “Yankees Insulated Can Cooler Night.”)
A few other fans got in ahead of me, one of whom stopped to have his picture taken with Pettitte:
As much as I wanted to race inside and start snagging baseballs, I couldn’t pass up the chance to say hi to the potential/future Hall of Famer. I reached out to shake his hand, and he responded by handing me a Can Cooler.
“Thanks,” I said, “but I really just wanted to shake your hand.”
“Oh!” he said. “Well, it’s good to meet you.”
I attempted to take a photo with him. I stood next to him and held the camera at arm’s length and pointed it back toward us. I’m usually good at taking photos like that, but in this case, it turned out looking ridiculous, so I’m not going to share it here.
I hurried out to the right field seats and grabbed two home run balls within the first minute. Colin Curtis might’ve hit one of them, but I’m really not sure. I didn’t catch either one on the fly, but that didn’t matter to me. I was just glad to get on the board and not have to worry about being shut out.
Five minutes later, I got C.C. Sabathia’s attention (by jumping and waving and shouting) and got him to throw me a ball. The following photo shows where Sabathia was when he threw it:
It was gorgeous. He lobbed it with the perfect arc so that it sailed over everyone’s heads and came right to me. I’ve always liked Sabathia and rooted for him, so it was great to finally get a ball from him.
That’s all I got during the Yankees’ portion of BP. Once the Royals started hitting, I headed over to the left field side. This is what it looked like over there — pretty standard stuff:
My fourth ball of the day was another home run. Once again, I have no idea who hit it — all I know is that it was a right-handed batter — but this time I caught it on the fly. Several other fans were closing in on it, so I jumped and reached above them at the last second.
The ball had an interesting marking on it:
Royals closer Joakim Soria threw me my fifth ball of the day. Then I snagged a ground-rule double (hit by a lefty) that bounced off the warning track and rattled around in a mostly-empty row. Finally, toward the end of BP, I got another ball from Soria. This time he flung it randomly into the crowd. The ball landed in an empty row, and I barely beat out another man for it.
“That’s okay!” shouted the guy as I walked off. “I’ll get A-Rod’s!”
I gave that ball to the littlest kid in the section and later gave another ball to a slightly bigger kid.
Shortly before the game started, Chris Getz hooked me up with my eighth ball of the day. He and Mitch Maier were playing catch in shallow left field. I got as close as possible, which wasn’t close at all because of that stupid partition, and managed to get his attention from about 100 feet away. Here’s a photo of him walking back toward the dugout after he threw me the ball:
I had a great seat in left field for the game. Check out the view in the bottom of the first inning:
Things got a bit more intense when A-Rod stepped to the plate…
…but then again, not everyone was into it. Check out the two fans sitting down in the following photo:
A-Rod ended up working the count full and then drawing a walk. No big deal. The night was young, and he wasn’t the only player going for a milestone. Jorge Posada had 999 career RBIs, and I had visions of catching his home run, but it wasn’t meant to be. He stroked a run-scoring double down the right field line, and that was that:
A-Rod led off the bottom of the 3rd with a single. The people who operate the Jumbotron responded by posting a baby photo of him the following inning:
A-Rod struck out swinging in the bottom of the fifth, and then there was an 85-minute rain delay. Here’s the grounds crew rolling out the tarp:
Here’s a shot of the water on the field:
I did some wandering and found myself in the Great Hall:
Eventually the grounds crew removed the tarp…
…and when the game resumed, the seats were half-empty.
Perfect! I finally had some room to run. All A-Rod had to do was hit a line drive right at me, and I’d have an easy, uncontested catch. But no, he singled in the 7th and grounded out weakly in the 8th.
There’s a lot of other stuff that took place over the course of the day, but I’m too busy/stressed/exhausted to go into great detail about any of it. To give you a quick rundown:
1) While waiting for the stadium to open, I did a 20-minute phone interview about A-Rod’s 600th home run for the SeatGeek Blog.
2) During the rain delay, a man had a seizure in the Great Hall and had to be carted off on a stretcher. (He was rather large. Not sure if that had anything to do with it.)
3) Late in the game, a female security guard recognized me and asked in all seriousness, “How are your balls?”
4) Even later in the game, I had a long conversation with the man behind me about why he hadn’t brought his glove.
Final score: Yankees 7, Royals 1.
It was a busy night, and right now, it’s a busy life. That’s why it took me three days to post this entry. I’m dealing with a lot of stuff right now, some good, some bad. I was planning to go to Cleveland and make an attempt at No. 600 there, but I’ve had to cancel my trip, at least for now. Maybe I’ll still make it out there for a game or two if A-Rod holds off a bit longer.
• 8 balls at this game (6 pictured on the right because I gave one away)
• 190 balls in 20 games this season = 9.5 balls per game.
• 649 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 491 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 138 consecutive Yankee home games with at least one ball
• 9 consecutive games at the new Yankee Stadium with at least two balls
• 4,548 total balls
• 44 donors (click here to learn more)
• $6.46 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $51.68 raised at this game
• $1,227.40 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball