As usual, there was a HUGE crowd waiting outside the Brooklyn Dodgers Rotunda . . .
. . . but things were calm once I got inside — at least at the start of BP. Mets reliever Josh Edgin threw me my first ball of the day . . .
. . . and when I headed over to the right field seats five minutes later, I found this:
What a beautiful sight.
Of course, that’s all I got from the Mets; the gates hadn’t opened until 5:10pm, and the team finished “hitting” (if you can call it that) at 5:24pm.
I snagged five home run balls during the Marlins’ portion of BP, and no, none of them were commemorative. The first home run nearly hit me because I was . . . uh, distracted by other balls and hadn’t seen it coming. I grabbed that one off the ground in the front row and caught the next four on the fly. Of these four, the first two pretty much came right to me (although it WAS crowded, so none of them were easy). The next one was a high fly ball that I caught “in traffic” in the front row in left-center. The final longball was a line drive by Carlos Lee that I caught while running through this row:
As I reached up for that ball, someone else’s glove accidentally smacked me in the face and knocked my cap off. (No really, it WAS an accident.)
I made it to the 3rd base dugout before BP ended and kept my eye on Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. In the following photo, the red arrow is pointing at him:
It feels funny calling a billionaire “generous” for tossing a few baseballs to fans, but that’s the only way I can describe him. I’ve never seen any other owner toss balls into the crowd, and Loria had previously hooked me up with three.
When BP ended, the first thing I did was to wave down Heath Bell and get him to sign one of my baseballs. Check it out:
That would be Mike Davison, my friend (and fellow ballhawk) who works for the FAA. He’s the guy who handled all the logistics (and did his best to make sure I didn’t die) during the helicopter stunt. He had asked me if I could get Heath Bell to sign a ball for him. I was hoping to get a commemorative ball signed and also to have a longer inscription written on it, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. There are days when Heath and I talk at length one-on-one, but this time (as is often the case in New York) everything was noisy and rushed after BP. For the record, Heath is the one who wrote “to Mike” on the ball. I had told him it was for a friend, so he scribbled it on there. Also, for the record, I don’t make a habit of getting autographs for other people, so unless you’ve done some incredible favor for me, please don’t ask. (People do ask, so this needs to be said.)
Two minutes after Heath signed for me, I got my 8th ball of the day from Loria.
Then (as I mentioned in a typo-laden tweet) it was time for a tuna sandwich. I went to the Subway stand on the 3rd base side, waited in line for at least five minutes, and eventually began placing my order. While I was telling the sandwich maker what I wanted (provolone, tomato, cucumber, and just a few onions), a nearby customer asked me if I’d been featured on ESPN. We ended up chatting for a few minutes, and when he heard about my charity work with Pitch In For Baseball, he decided to pay for my sandwich — not a cheap gift as the footlong tuna at Citi Field costs ten bucks. He was with two other guys. They were all really cool. I greatly appreciated the good vibes and the free dinner.
Here’s the sandwich:
(This is random, but I feel like sharing it: I know how to say two phrases in Turkish. One is “Please throw me the ball.” The other is “The smell of tuna is everywhere.” Nice, huh?)
I ate the whole thing between the national anthem and the start of the game, during which time the Mets unveiled the logo for the 2013 All-Star Game. Here it is on the jumbotron:
That’s a sharp logo, don’t you think? (If anyone feels like buying me a ticket for the 2013 Home Run Derby or All-Star Game, I’ll share half the balls I snag. Just putting it out there now because it’s never too early to start planning.)
For those of you who don’t know anything about the Mets, the two guys pictured on the jumbotron in street clothes are former players. John Franco is on the left, and Dwight Gooden is on the right. See the little white square over Gooden’s left shoulder? Well, look what happened with it one minute later:
I usually try to avoid seeing commemorative logos ahead of time, but in this case, there’s no avoiding it.
This was my view for most of the game:
In the photo above, do you see the fan holding up an orange rectangle? It was “license plate holder night” at Citi Field, and most fans were unimpressed. (You know it’s a lame giveaway when people (a) don’t bother taking it and/or (b) leave it in the seats after the game.)
Anyway, look how much room I had to run for home run balls:
The seats were so crowded that I spent several innings in center field next to the batter’s eye. Here’s what it looked like out there:
Given the fact that no home runs came anywhere near me, the highlights of the game were (1) seeing Jose Reyes extend his hitting streak to 25 games with a little nubber up the 1st base line and (2) seeing Heath Bell retire the only two batters he faced in the 8th inning. I know he’s having a rough year, but I love him, okay?
Final score: Marlins 4, Mets 2.
• 383 balls in 48 games this season = 7.98 balls per game.
• 840 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 365 consecutive games with at least two balls
• 396 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball
• 6,202 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.)
• 38 donors
• $2.10 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $16.80 raised at this game
• $804.30 raised this season
• $19,961.30 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009
Hang on. I got one more photo for you. Of the six balls that I took home, only one has an invisible ink stamp. Here’s a side-by-side comparison that shows it in regular light versus black light: