Thanks to a stupid mistake and some bad luck, I only managed to snag one baseball during the first 40 minutes of batting practice — a ground-rule double that was hit by . . . someone on the Mets. I was in left field. The batter was right-handed. He was wearing a jersey with the number “1” on the back, and none of it made sense. Jordany Valdespin wears No. 1, but he’s left-handed, so who the hell was in the cage? More on that in a bit.
During the first two groups of Rockies batters, I moved all the over the place and didn’t snag a thing. Center field was dead . . .
. . . and the players in foul territory . . .
. . . completely ignored me.
Finally, at around 5:50pm, I got a ball thrown to me by a player that I couldn’t identify. In the following photo, the red arrow is pointing at him:
I handed that ball to a girl, who’s tossing it in the photo above.
Then I caught two homers on the fly. (Don’t ask who hit them. I have no idea.) The first was a line drive that pretty much came right to me, and the second was a high fly ball that landed roughly 30 feet to my left.
A funny/annoying thing happened toward the end of BP. Some random fan who was in his 20s approached me and asked if I was “the foul ball guy.”
“Yeah,” I told him, “and I’m also the home run guy.”
“Cool, I’ve seen you on TV,” he said. He then sat down right next to me (with a friend) and proceeded to ask me at least 20 questions. How many games do you go to? What’s your favorite stadium? What’s your least favorite? Why don’t you like Citi Field? Have you ever caught a home run from a famous player? How many balls have you gotten? How many balls today? Can I have one for my fiancée?
“Absolutely not,” I responded to the last one. “You’re sitting down, drinking a beer, and asking ME for a ball? You’re not even putting in any effort! I give baseballs to people like THAT,” I said, pointing at the girl several rows in front of us. (She heard all of this and smiled.) “You’re a grown man,” I continued. “Get off your ass and try to catch one for yourself.” The guy knew I was right, and for a few minutes, he gave it a shot. He was actually pretty cool overall. I just didn’t like being asked for a ball, and I could’ve done without the impromptu interview. That said, I realize that he was asking questions because he cared, which, ultimately, is a compliment.
That was it for BP.
Forty minutes later, I borrowed someone’s silver Sharpie and got Jordan Pacheco to sign my ticket:
In the previous photo, did you notice the tiny red numbers above two players’ heads? Number 1 is Pacheco, and number 2 is Jonathan Herrera, who threw me this ball soon after:
As I’ve mentioned before, some teams mark the sweet spots on their BP balls to prevent their own players and employees from stealing them and getting them signed. Generic marker-streaks are lame; I much prefer balls that are stamped or marked uniquely, like this and this and this and this and this and . . . oh hell, you might as well click here to see my entire collection of marked balls.
After changing out of my Rockies costume, I ran into a kid named Kyle, whom I’d met before. Here I am with him and his friend Jason:
In the photo above, Kyle is on the right, and as you can see, these guys had snagged a bunch of baseballs. Very impressive.
I spent the first few innings here . . .
. . . and when I moved down several rows, I was appalled by the view. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, this is stadium design at its worst:
What in the WORLD were the architects/owners thinking? (This was my very first time sitting in that section, so I’ve never had a reason to complain about it ’til now.) For starters, there’s no reason to have a concrete ledge separating the sections, nor is there a reason to have that huge mess of a railing on top of it. Oh, you don’t want people to fall or jump over? Well, here’s a suggestion: don’t create useless barriers (or useless rules, for that matter) because fans like to move around. You want to see sharp stadium design? Check out PNC and PETCO Park. Those places have countless nooks and crannies that actually work. This section at Citi Field is a total disaster. The whole stadium is terrible. It’s a schizophrenic/Mr. Potato Head hodgepodge of wannabe-interesting ideas that all fail miserably.
Halfway through the game, I moved to straight-away left field, where the highlight was catching up with my buddy Jacob Resnick. Here we are:
Jacob, for those who don’t know, won a contest last year through which he got to do the play-by-play for an inning during a Mets game. While he was in the booth, Jose Reyes happened to hit a home run, and Jacob’s call was so awesome that he got invited to try out for a job with the Mets’ cable network — SportsNet New York, aka “SNY.” Jacob ended up getting the job, and he’s been working for the Mets this year, interviewing players and hosting segments for a show called “Kids Clubhouse.” (I was filmed/interviewed for this show back in 2006. Here’s the segment on YouTube.)
Now, remember the ground-rule double that I’d snagged during BP? Jacob was near me at the time, so I half-jokingly asked him to use his connections to find out who the batter was. Well, guess what? He DID find out, and he emailed me about it the following day. Jacob identified the guy as “a recent international signer” named German Rosario, and sure enough, there’s now an article about it on the Mets’ website.
As for the game, the last-place Rockies beat the soon-to-be-last-place Mets by the score of 3-1. There was only one home run, and it went to right field, of course.
• 454 balls in 56 games this season = 8.11 balls per game.
• 848 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 399 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball
• 6,273 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.)
• 42 donors
• $2.26 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $11.30 raised at this game
• $1,026.04 raised this season
• $20,183.04 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009