It was another day with the usual suspects at Yankee Stadium:
In the photo above, from left to right, you’re looking at . . .
Did you notice that I was wearing a catcher’s mitt? That’s the one that Rawlings recently sent for my attempt to catch a baseball dropped from 1,000 feet. The mitt desperately needs to be broken in, so I brought it with me to the Bronx, hoping (but not expecting) to get one of the White Sox to play catch with it. It didn’t happen, but it was still fun to show it to my fellow ballhawks. I also had my regular glove, so that’s what I used during BP.
My first ball was tossed by Cody Eppley as soon as I entered the left field seats . . .
. . . and less than 30 seconds later, Mateo arrived on the scene:
The reason for his bemused expression in the previous photo is that he’d been facing the field for a solid minute. When he eventually turned around to tell me something, I happened to have my camera pointed at him.
For the next few minutes, the seats on my left were gloriously empty . . .
. . . and I took advantage by making a nice running catch on a Mark Teixeira homer. The ball was heading roughly 30 feet to my left, and while it was in mid-air, I realized that it was going to sail a bit too high, so after running for about 20 feet, I climbed back over a row and then kept running. I didn’t think I was going to be able to reach the ball, but I lunged for it anyway and barely caught it in the tip of my glove. I have to say . . . it felt really good.
When the White Sox started warming up, I headed to the seats behind the 3rd base dugout, and when I got there, I heard someone say my name. It was a woman who introduced herself as Eileen . . . and then showed me this:
Awesome. It was a library copy of my book The Baseball.
As you may have noticed (based on her purse), Eileen is a diehard White Sox fan. Because she wasn’t trying to get any of the players or coaches to toss her baseballs, she gladly helped me identify them. In fact, she even called out to them for me, and it definitely helped. Alexei Ramirez tossed me my third ball of the day, but unfortunately, when Eileen got Don Cooper to hook me up moments later, his throw sailed 10 feet over my head. (He flung it underhand, not that that’s an excuse.) Mateo was 10 rows behind me. The ball landed right between us. Wanna guess where it ended up? It’s really unbelievable. It landed ON the very top/plastic edge of a seat and skipped perfectly all the back into his row. <Insert joke about “sloppy seconds” here.>
As pissed as I was about the unlucky ricochet, it was nothing compared to how I felt about this:
That was the result of trying to be polite and saying “excuse me” while running behind a clueless fan who ended up bumping into me and causing me to slam my leg against the corner of a metal armrest. I was angrier about missing the ball than I was about my leg, and things got worse from there. Less than one minute later, while climbing over a row of seats, I tore the crap out of my cargo shorts. I didn’t even catch them on anything; the fabric simply gave out, and I ended up with a football-sized hole on my crotch. I realize that in the grand scheme of human suffering, missing a batting practice home run ball and scraping my leg and tearing my shorts (even nice cargo shorts of which I’ve grown fond) are thoroughly insignificant, but in the heat of the moment, it all added up to make me furious.
During the final group of BP, I caught two homers on the fly that were hit by Tyler Flowers. The first one came right to me. The second one required me to run to my right, climb back over a row and make a leaping, back-handed catch. I handed that ball to the nearest kid.
Jeff wasn’t working at this game. He was there as a fan, and if he looks familiar, it’s because he interviewed me on 5/27/11 at Rogers Centre. Click here to see the photo of us that was taken then. Jeff is planning to have me back on the show on July 9th to talk about the 1,000-foot catch. (Hopefully I’ll be alive then. If not, it’s going to be a boring interview.)
After Jeff and I parted ways, I left the stadium. Keep reading past the stats and I’ll show you why . . .
• 239 balls in 32 games this season = 7.47 balls per game.
• 824 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 349 consecutive games with at least two balls
• 172 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball
• 6,058 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 about my fundraiser, and click here to see the prizes that I’ll be giving away to donors.)
• 34 donors
• $1.89 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $9.45 raised at this game
• $451.71 raised this season
• $19,608.71 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009
Okay, so . . . why did I leave Yankee Stadium before the game started? Because I was still pissed off. And because I was stressed. And because I’m really *really* REALLY busy these days. And because a gentleman who goes by “kslo69” recently left a comment on my blog in which he suggested that I buy a skater’s wrist brace, you know, for the 1,000-foot catch. So I did. Here I am trying it on at a store called Blades (which wasn’t going to be open after the Yankee game):
Did you notice that I was wearing the brace backwards? Here’s another photo:
Do you see that curvy plastic strip? It’s meant to cover the heel of the hand and provide support when a skater falls on his (or her) ass. In my case, however, I’m not terribly concerned about hurting the heel of my hand. I’m much more worried about the impact of the ball snapping my hand back and breaking my wrist — but look! The plastic strip (which is VERY sturdy) should prevent that:
The wrist guards (one for each hand, not that I’ll need one for my right hand) cost $20. Then, for another $35, I bought knee guards, which I’ll wear on my elbows. Check it out:
I’m feeling well protected, and now check THIS out . . .
Here’s a double-photo (taken several days ago) that shows me in Central Park with the catcher’s gear from Rawlings:
In the photo on the right, did you notice that when I’m looking straight up in the air, the mask overhangs my throat? I really think I can do this.