5/3/11 at Citi Field

There was another huge crowd waiting to get into Citi Field yesterday…

…and once again, the Mets didn’t hit worth a damn. During the half hour that they took batting practice, only ONE home run reached the left field seats. I didn’t snag it (perhaps because I was in right-center at the time), but did get three balls thrown to me in left field. The first came from Chris Capuano…

…and the next two were tossed by Dillon Gee. (He kinda flung them up randomly into the crowd without paying too much attention to the people that were catching them.) I gave the first of those two baseballs to a kid as soon as I caught it. The kid’s father then recognized me from this old segment on SportsNet New York.

The Giants’ portion of BP was just as lame. Not only were there very few homers, but there were dozens of fans wearing Giants gear, so it was hard to get toss-ups. Remember the fan named Stuart who asked me to sign a ball on 4/14/11 at Citi Field? Yesterday he beat me to a ball that was tossed into the seats by Brian Wilson, and five minutes later, my big/tall friend Ryan outjumped me for another. It was rough. I only managed to get one ball from the Giants. It was thrown by a coach at the tail end of BP. I’m not sure who. It was either Ron Wotus or Bill Hayes.

When the Giants came out to throw before the game, this (as usual) was as close as I could get:

At this stadium, you simply can’t get close to the field in lots of places; not surprisingly, I didn’t get the ball.

Other than Mets starter R.A. Dickey, every batter in the lineup except David Wright was left-handed. Therefore, it seemed pointless to sit in straight-away left field, and because it’s nearly impossible to catch batted balls in right field, I decided to go for foul balls in shallow left field. This was my view in the 1st inning:

I actually had some room to run, but by the end of the 2nd inning, all the seats were full.

I abandoned that spot and thought about sitting in straight-away left field, but it was crazy-crowded out there:

There truly wasn’t a worthwhile place to sit, so I headed downstairs to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and checked out the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum. I’d never been there before, so, you know, why not?

Here’s the entrance…

…and here’s a crappy panorama that shows the view from just inside the door:

I’m not exactly the museum type — I’m more of a doer than a looker — but it was nice to see the memorabilia for a few minutes. In one display case, there was a game-used ball from the last game ever played at Shea Stadium. That made me smile in an “aww-isn’t-that-cute” kind of way; you may recall that I caught the last Mets home run ever hit at Shea Stadium at that final game.

I also thought “aww” (or maybe it was more like “p’shaw!”) when I saw a bunch of lineup cards for sale in the adjacent team store for $75 apiece:

Although I’ve never gotten one that looks quite like these, I’ve gotten dozens of lineup cards for free over the years. (And by the way, the last time I checked, “lineup” was one word.)

One of my favorite things in the museum was the collection of jerseys from the 1986 Mets:

I was nine years old when the Mets won the World Series that year. I worshipped all those guys, so this brought back some great memories…and some bad memories…like when my parents didn’t let me stay up late enough to see the end of those games. Yes, I’m still bitter.

Here’s one more look inside the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum:

In the photo above, that’s a real-life security guard standing there in orange and blue. It’s not a wax sculpture or anything, although that would be pretty cool.

As for the game, it was one of those see-saw battles where the lead kept changing hands. Ultimately, the Giants won, 7-6, on an uncatchable Aubrey Huff homer in the top of the 10th. The ball hit the facade of the second deck and bounced back onto the field. Eff that.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

• 4 balls at this game (three pictured here because I gave one away)

• 206 balls in 24 games this season = 8.58 balls per game.

• 685 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 508 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball

• 364 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball

• 4,868 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more.)

• 41 donors

• $6.46 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)

• $25.84 raised at this game

• $1,330.76 raised this season

Finally, here’s a side-by-side comparison of the three balls I kept; the image on the lower left shows them in regular light; the image on the lower right shows them in black light:

As you can see, only one ball has an invisible ink stamp, but it’s a beauty.

11 comments

  1. Dylan

    Sorry Zack but it’s biggestrangerfan.mlblogs.com and don’t use www. It won’t come up. Thanks.

  2. Matt

    You know what’s occuring in the picture with the real-life security guard? I think he and the Mets mascot statue are having a staring contest. Any idea on who won? :)
    -Matt

  3. Will

    BTW, what’s the deal with Citi Field this year? For the first two years, it was clearly better than Yankee Stadium in terms of snagging. I can’t put my thumb on why its so bad this year. I understand that numbers will go down because of the change in gate opening times, but it just seems that hardly any balls are carrying into the seats. Its chilly so they won’t travel as far, but I’ve never seen such few balls reach the seats during BP.
    -Will

  4. PSU532

    Zack, curious if you saw the video of this young ballhawk? Nice extension on the snag…..

    When are you heading to Tampa? You’ll probably snag like 30 balls there!

  5. Matt

    I already left you a tweet. And sent you an email. I won a twitter contest from Heath Bell! I won two tickets to Sat. game. Problem is it’s in San Diego. I was wondering if you could go. (I know its laaaaaaaaaatttteee notice.) Or if your friend Brandon who lives in SD wanted to go. I have to let Heath know by 12 PT, 3 ET tomorrow. I can’t believe I won!
    -Matt

  6. Matt

    In response to my own comment, I talked to Heath and everything ended up working out. I sent you an email about what happened………….
    -Matt

  7. Zack Hample

    DYLAN-
    Ahh, cool. I’ll check it out soon. I see that MLBlogs.com is out of commission right now (for some people) because of the upgrade.

    AVI-
    Well, yes, that’s true about the access, but both stadiums are still pretty rough. You would absolutely hate it here and never want to come back.

    MATT-
    Haha, nice. I left before I saw the outcome.

    WILL-
    I know, it’s terrible. The gate opening times have hurt. The lack of TRUE right-handed power hitters has hurt. And the weather has also sucked beyond belief (and hurt).

    KSLO69-
    Nah, I’m still managing to get them for free. Check out my new entry from 5/13/11, and you’ll see what I mean.

    PSU532-
    Whoa, that was an impressive catch. Thanks for linking to it. I won’t be in Tampa until August, by which point the Rays will have won 100 games, and the place will be packed. (Okay, maybe not.)

    LEIGH BARRATT-
    Whaaa?

    MATT-
    So cool that you won that contest. Heath is The Man!

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