People often ask how the hell I can afford to travel to so many games. One of the answers is that I stay with friends and family whenever possible, and right now, I’m with family in Greenbelt, MD. Here they are:
In the photo above, the guy in the striped shirt is my half-brother’s husband Barry. (They got legally married in California just before Prop 8 passed in 2008, and BTW, this is not the same half-brother that was with me on 8/1/11 at Citi Field. I have two half-brothers and a half-sister.) The woman on the left is his sister Robin, and the young man on the right is her son Evan.
Barry and Evan came to Nationals Park with me. Here we are outside the center field gates:
Five days earlier, the Korean filmmaker was planning to get some footage of me during BP at Camden Yards. Of course, the Orioles denied him permission, and I ended up snagging fifteen baseballs. Yesterday, the filmmaker was once again planning to follow me around during BP, and guess what happened? The Nationals said no, and I ended up snagging sixteen baseballs. WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT?!?! I truly don’t get it.
When the stadium opened, I headed to the 2nd deck in right field and got Tom Gorzelanny to throw me my 1st ball of the day. Here it is:
Then I headed to the “Red Porch” seats in left-center and started piling up the numbers. My first ball out there was retrieved from the gap behind the outfield wall by a groundskeeper. The groundskeeper then handed it to a security guard in the front row, and the guard then handed it to me — kind of cheap, but it counts. My next ball was the opposite of cheap. While standing in the front row, I saw a right-handed batter (not sure who) crush a deep drive in my direction. I could tell right away that the ball was going to carry over my head, so I climbed back over a row. Then another row. And another row. At the last second, I turned back toward the field, and when I looked up, the ball came right to me for an easy catch. (I gave that ball to the nearest kid.) My 4th ball of the day was a ground-rule double. (I gave that one away too.) My 5th ball was tossed by Livan Hernandez, who now officially recognizes me. (“How many balls have I given you this year?” he asked before tossing it. “You’ve thrown me a few,” I said, “but it’s a brand new day, baby!” I felt really stupid saying that, but it worked. Livan is the best.) My 6th ball was thrown by some random strength-coach-type-guy. Here’s a photo of him in the outfield:
My 7th ball was a homer that I caught on the fly. (Nothing fancy about that one.) My 8th ball was tossed from the bullpen by a security guard. (There were half a dozen balls there, and he chucked them all into the crowd.) My 9th ball was another homer that I caught on the fly. (I was in the front row and lunged far to my left for it, snagging it right above the head of a little girl who hadn’t seen it coming. I then gave the ball to her.)
When the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30pm, I raced into the right field stands (on the lower level) and found two baseballs sitting in the seats.
Barry and Evan had no interest in snagging baseballs. They just followed me around and sat in the shade:
My 12th ball of the day was tossed by Sam LeCure. Then I headed back to left field and used my glove trick to snag a ball from the bullpen. The following photo shows two baseballs sitting there; I got the one that was closer to the stands:
When BP was about to end, I headed to the 3rd base dugout and got two balls tossed to me — my 14th and 15th of the day. The first came from Billy Hatcher. The second came from an equipment guy who was dumping the balls into a couple of zippered bags.
Before the game, I noticed that Ramon Hernandez was playing catch in left field with bullpen coach Juan Lopez. I headed out there, and when they finished, Lopez threw me the ball. Here’s a very exciting photograph that I took of them, less than a minute later:
Barry and Evan and I sat along the left field foul line until the 7th inning stretch. Then they left and I moved here:
I didn’t snag any balls during or after the game.
Final score: Nationals 6, Reds 4.
• 760 balls in 91 games this season = 8.35 balls per game.
• 752 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 5,422 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)
• $113.92 raised at this game
• $5,411.20 raised this season
Finally, of the thirteen balls that I kept, three have (faint) invisible ink stamps. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of those balls in regular light versus black light: