The game was scheduled to begin at 7:05pm…
My family had a big group dinner planned for 7pm in Manhattan…
In order to make everyone happy AND inch closer toward my goal of snagging 1,000 baseballs this season, I went to Yankee Stadium for batting practice — and then left.
My 1st ball of the day was tossed by Sergio Mitre in right field, my 2nd ball was a Curtis Granderson homer that landed in the seats, and my 3rd was another Granderson blast that I caught on the fly — all within the first 10 minutes. Normally I would’ve been thrilled with my fast start, but in this case, I was feeling rather unsettled because another fan in my section had gotten drilled in the mouth by a home run ball. In fact, he was only five feet away from me when it happened, and it didn’t take long for the blood to start dripping from his mouth. Here’s a photo of the guy getting medical attention; I’ve blacked out his eyes to protect his privacy:
The home run that hit him had been knuckling like crazy, and it totally fooled me — twice. As the ball reached its apex, I shifted to my right. Then, as it started descending, I darted to my left. And by the time it landed, it was back on my right. The ball landed several rows below me, and as this guy reached up for it, another fan lunged and deflected it into his face. A similar thing had happened to me on 4/22/08 at Champion Stadium — the only difference was that the ball hit my nose — so I could definitely relate. Incredibly, he didn’t lose any teeth and was told that he didn’t even need stitches, and when the players saw what had happened, they tossed up a baseball for him. That said, it was still a scary scene that made me realize (yet again) how dangerous ballhawking can be.
When the Orioles took the field, I moved to the left field foul line…
…and got two baseballs thrown to me. The first came from Troy Patton, and the second came from a player that I couldn’t identify.
During the final 40 minutes of batting practice, I only got one more ball — a toss-up by Kevin Gregg in straight-away left field. Meh. There were very few homers, and the seats were so crowded that I barely had any room to run anyway.
Still, I was glad to have added six more baseballs to my season total, and on my way out of the stadium, I handed one to a very stunned kid, who was walking in with his parents.
Goodbye, Yankee Stadium. See you in a couple weeks…
• 649 balls in 78 games this season = 8.32 balls per game.
• 739 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 532 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 154 consecutive Yankee games with at least one ball
• 25 consecutive games at the new Yankee Stadium with at least two balls
• 5,311 total balls
(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.)
• 56 donors
• $7.12 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $42.72 raised at this game
• $4,620.88 raised this season