With my 1,000-foot baseball catch just nine days away, I thought it’d be a good idea to find out if I can actually SEE a baseball from that distance. I needed someone to help, of course, and since my girlfriend Robin was (and still is) concerned that I might die, she volunteered.
We started by doing some simple math . . .
Twenty city blocks = one mile.
One mile = 5,280 feet.
5,280 feet divided by 20 blocks = 264 feet per block.
Therefore, we had to stand roughly four blocks apart — and it began on 81st Street and Central Park West:
In the photo above, the arrow is pointing at Robin, and if you look closely, you can see her holding a baseball in front of her chest.
Robin stayed on that corner, and I walked south. Here’s what the ball looked like from 79th Street when she held it up:
Did you notice the little red circle in the photo above? That’s Robin. As teeny as she appears, you really CAN see the ball if you click the photo to expand it. Although I was only 500-ish feet from her at that point, you should know that my camera makes everything looks farther away than it actually is. I would estimate that your view of her in the photo above is similar to what my naked eye saw from 1,000 feet. For the record, I *was* able to see the ball from 77th Street, especially when she tossed it up and down. I suspected, though, that I was only able to see it because of the dark, colorful background of the city.
There were still a few more visibility tests that I wanted to try, but there were too many pedestrians in the way. (How DARE those people walk down the street when I’m preparing for a world record?!) Robin and I were communicating with our cell phones, so I told her to cross Central Park West and stand in the bike lane. Here’s a zoomed-in shot of her from four blocks away:
It was too tough to see her (with all those effin’ bicyclists in the way), so I asked her if she was willing to risk her life for me.
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
“Next time there’s a red light, can you go stand in the middle of the street, right on the double-yellow line?”
“Okay,” she said, “but you better make it quick.”
“It’ll be very quick. I’ll be out there too. I just wanna get a photo.”
Here’s the photo. Note that Robin is (a) holding the ball in front of her stomach and (b) about to get run over by a taxi:
(Aww, the things we do for love.)
Robin cursed me out on the phone, but other than that, everything was fine.
Do you remember those spray-painted baseballs that I blogged about in February? Well, I had them with me, and we took them into Central Park. Here’s Robin with the orange ball and a regular/white ball:
Basically, I wanted to see how the visibility would differ.
Here’s a photo of her walking away from me:
I don’t know how far away she ended up — probably a bit less than 1,000 feet — but I can tell you this: when she tossed the white ball up and down, I had no trouble seeing it against the dark background of the trees. Click the following photo, and you’ll see it for yourself inside the red circle:
Here’s a zoomed-in photo of her tossing the white ball . . .
. . . and here’s a zoomed-in (and slightly blurry) shot of the orange ball in mid-air:
In the photo above, I love the guy in the purple shirt. He is OUT. Meanwhile, the people sitting in a cluster farther away must’ve been wondering what the hell Robin was doing.
It occurred to me that the most important visibility test hadn’t yet been done. Sure, I could see a baseball from 1,000 feet against dark backgrounds, but what about seeing it in the sky? I told Robin (via cell phone) that I needed her to throw the balls high enough that they’d clear the treetops — not an easy task for someone who’s never played baseball or softball or thrown much of anything. But she did it. It took her several tries (and she had to put the phone down), but she did put enough muscle into it to give me the glimpse that I needed. The white ball was invisible above the trees, and the orange ball looked like a faint gray speck.
I didn’t know what to think as Robin walked back toward me . . .
. . . but now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I really want to do this stunt with regular/white baseballs, or at least unpainted balls. (Someone recently suggested to me that a coating of paint could affect the aerodynamics and possibly cause the ball to drop much faster.) I’m thinking that if I can get my hands on some Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud, I’ll rub some onto the balls; if it’s safe/legal in Major League Baseball, it should be safe/legal for my world record attempt.