I snagged 15 balls before this game started, and you know what? They all felt worthless by the end of the night. During batting practice, I put on a snagging clinic of such epic proportions that two of my fellow ballhawks actually bowed down in a “we’re not worthy” pose. Everything (and I mean EVERYthing) went right, but when things mattered most, I pissed it all away. I truly can’t believe how stupid/moronic/idiotic I am, and if I weren’t going for 1,000 balls this season, I’d probably skip the next month of games and get as far away from this cruel sport as possible.
Before I entered the stadium, I made a deal with another ballhawk named Tim Anderson involving potential “Easter eggs” in left field. You see, Tim is half my age and happens to be very fast and athletic; even if I didn’t have lingering pain from my June 3rd ankle sprain, he’d still beat me in a race. The Orioles were giving away Jake Arrieta T-shirts, so the deal was that I’d give him mine in exchange for a head start toward the left field seats. As a result, I found a ball sitting in the front row…
…and then I found another one here:
Take a closer look at that ball:
Pretty cool, huh?
Two minutes later, Tim (and a few others) arrived and told me that he’d found a ball in the right field seats. Here he is standing behind me with his arms folded:
My 3rd ball of the day was a slicer hit by Chris Davis into the totally empty seats along the left field foul line. I ran all the way over from straight-away left field and found it in the front row. Then I hurried back to straight-away left field and caught three J.J. Hardy homers on the fly.
When the White Sox took the field, Zach Stewart played catch in deep left field with bullpen coach Juan Nieves. When they finished throwing, they stood around and talked…
…and when they finished talking, Nieves flipped me the ball.
“Give it to a kid,” he suggested, even though there weren’t any kids around.
So I did. Sort of. The ball that Nieves gave me was unusually dirty and rubbed with mud…
…so I kept that one for myself and gave a much cleaner ball to the nearest/smallest kid.
My 8th ball of the day was thrown by Alejandro De Aza. I was in the front row along the left field foul line. He was about about 100 feet away in straight-away left field. As soon as I caught it, I once again handed it to the nearest kid.
The left field seats were pretty crowded by that point…
…but that didn’t seem to slow me down. Jake Peavy tossed me a ball with a beautifully smudged MLB logo…
…and then I snagged three more home runs…
The first was hit by a right-handed batter on the White Sox. Several fans behind me reached for it and collectively dropped it, and it bounced *right* to me. My friend Ben Weil was right in the thick of it, and when he saw me get the ball, he shouted, “SERIOUSLY?!”
The second homer was hit by Adam Dunn. I caught it on the fly in the tip of my glove after making a mid-row leap.
The third was hit by Carlos Quentin. It landed near me in the seats next to the Orioles’ bullpen and luckily didn’t ricochet far.
My 13th ball of the day was a random, no-look toss-up by Jesse Crain. With his back to the stands, he flipped it high over his shoulder. I was in the 4th row, and whaddaya know, the ball came right to me. I gave that one to a little girl who’d been trying hard to catch one for the previous 10 minutes.
At the very end of BP, I caught another homer on the fly in deep left-center. I had just raced up the stairs to chase another home run. I failed to snag that one, but then as soon as I turned around, the batter (not sure who) blasted another one right to me. I’m telling you, luck was on my side.
After BP, I got Gavin Floyd to sign my ticket:
As he handed it back to me, he smiled and said, “No fly balls today.” Very cool that he remembered our exchange from the previous game.
Approximately 15 minutes later, I got my final ball of the day from Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair. There had been several balls sitting in the bullpen — home runs that had landed there during BP — and when Adair made it out there, he tossed them into the stands.
Now, you know how I’ve been taking photos with numbered signs at various stadiums this season? Here’s a collage of the first 12. I’m planning to hit up all 30 stadiums this year, and starting with the 3rd one that I visited, I’ve been making different faces to show how I feel about each place. Camden Yards was No. 2, and if you look at my face in the collage, you can see that I was smiling generically. That’s no way to represent THE best stadium in the Major Leagues (or at least one of the best stadiums), so I decided to re-take the photo. Here’s what I came up with:
Just so you know, I picked that photo from many others. Look how many different faces I made (and how much time went into it):
What do you think? Did I pick the best one?
Many thanks to Ben for hangin’ in there while I made love to the camera.
As for the game…oof. It was great for Tim, who cemented his superstar ballhawk status by snagging a home run for the *third* straight day (and making it into SportsCenter‘s Top Ten plays), but it was a true nightmare for me. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Nick Markakis hit his 100th career home run to the ***EXACT*** spot in the Flag Court where I always stand for left-handed batters — but he hit it on the first pitch of the at-bat, and I literally got there two seconds late. I was actually running out there as he stepped into the batter’s box, and I simply didn’t make it there on time. For some reason, none of my fellow ballhawks were out there. The home run landed at the very back of the Flag Court. All of the fans were at the front. There was truly NO competition, and it would’ve been the easiest catch ever. But no. As I was running out there — and JUST as I entered the Flag Court near the foul pole — Markakis launched the ball over my head. I tried running for it and ended up watching helplessly as it clanked off a garbage can (five feet from where I would’ve been standing) and then (to add insult to injury) bounced back over my head to a gloveless fan who snagged it right where I’d been two seconds earlier. So basically, if I’d gotten there two seconds sooner or later, I would’ve had the ball. FML.
I was so upset at that point that I went here:
I just had to get away.
As for the rest of the game…whatever. I don’t remember anything.
This was my parting photo of the 12 balls that I kept:
I’m a jackass.
• 15 worthless baseballs at this game (twelve pictured above because I gave three away)
• 732 balls in 88 games this season = 8.32 balls per game.
• 749 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 274 consecutive games with at least two balls
• 5,394 total balls
• 1 inexcusable mistake
(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)
• $106.80 raised at this game
• $5,211.84 raised this season