It was 3pm when Jona decided to join me for this game. By that point, the cheapest ticket on StubHub was $57 (including the wonderful fees), and when we got to the stadium, the cheapest ticket there was $60. I already had a ticket for myself, so I made a sign for her and hoped for the best. Here she is with it:
Shortly before the gates opened, someone offered her a $125 ticket for fifty bucks. In most other stadiums, a ticket that expensive would have you sitting IN the dugout, but at Yankee Stadium, it pretty much gets you into the bathroom. In the upper deck. So she declined the offer.
She was still looking for a ticket when I snagged my first ball of the day — a toss-up in left field from Yankees reliever Hector Noesi. Here’s a photo of the ball with Noesi in the background:
This was somewhat of a milestone ball for me because it extended my consecutive games streak to 750. (For those who don’t know, I’ve snagged at least one ball at every game I’ve attended since September 10, 1993 — a streak that now stands at 750.)
My 2nd ball of the day was a home run by Francisco Cervelli. When he first connected, it appeared that the ball was heading about 25 feet to my left, so I started running and briefly took my eye off it in order to focus on my path. When I looked back up, the ball was hooking to the right of where I’d expected it to land, so I had to change directions. Ultimately, the ball fell a bit short of my row, so I reached down and made a one-handed catch over some empty seats. Jona had just walked into the section moments earlier — she got a good deal on a ticket with a $48 face value — so she saw me make the grab.
When the Rays took the field, I moved to foul territory and got two balls thrown to me. The first came from Reid Brignac, who was about 150 feet away. He was at shortstop, I was 20 rows back in shallow left field, and his throw was right on the money. The second ball was tossed by Jeff Niemann, who managed to airmail me from half the distance. Here I am waving my arms at him…
…and here’s the ball sailing over my head:
In the photo above, I was already running up the stairs and looking at the seats where the ball was going to land; once I knew that I wasn’t going to catch it on the fly, I wanted to get as close to it as possible.
Back in straight-away left field, I had a funny exchange with James Shields. For some reason, he didn’t notice that Scott Cursi had walked behind him to retrieve a ball, so when I shouted, “Scott!” Shields turned around and looked at me and said, “My name is James.”
“I know who you are,” I told him. “I was just trying to get Scott’s attention.”
At first I thought he was kidding, but he truly had no idea what was going on, so I explained (with more detail) that I was trying to get the attention of Scott Cursi, the bullpen catcher.
Shields then tried to get Cursi’s attention, but by that point, Cursi had already thrown the ball back to the bucket in shallow center field — so when Shields went to get him, Cursi looked over at me with a “WTF” expression.
“No!” I shouted at Shields, who was now thoroughly confused. “I wanted to get Scott’s attention because he had a ball.”
“You want a ball?” asked Shields.
“Well, yeah,” I said, holding my glove just high enough for him to see it above the wall. “If you happen to get a hold of one, that’d be cool.”
Two minutes later, the batter hit a line drive that rolled into left-center field. Shields walked a bit out of his way to retrieve it and then headed back in my direction and threw it to me. Fun stuff. (One possible reason for all the confusion is that there *is* another pitcher named Scot Shields.)
My 6th ball of the day happened to be the 5,400th ball of my life. It was tossed by Joel Peralta in straight-away left field, and soon after I caught it, I posed with it — with my friend Ben Weil:
Yep, we’re dweebs.
Just before the game started, I got my 7th and final ball of the day from Rays coach Stan Boroski. I was standing next to the bullpen, he was walking around inside the bullpen, and I got his attention. Nothing fancy about it.
So, you know how I recently retook my “stadium number sign photo” at Camden Yards? I wrote about it in my previous entry, so if you have no idea what I’m talking about, read that entry and then come back. Are you with me? Good. I finally got around to retaking my Yankee Stadium photo. Here’s what I came up with:
Ben took that photo of me in the second inning. Soon after, he and Jona and I left the stadium. She didn’t care about the game and simply wanted to hang out. I cared very much about the game but had to get home. And as for Ben? Let’s just say that my facial expression in the photo above speaks for an awful lot of people.
• 739 balls in 89 games this season = 8.3 balls per game.
• 750 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 536 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 155 consecutive Yankee home games with at least one ball
• 26 consecutive games at the new Yankee Stadium with at least two balls
• 5,401 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)
• $49.84 raised at this game
• $5,261.68 raised this season
Finally, of the seven balls that I snagged, four have invisible ink stamps. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of those balls in regular light versus black light: