Citi Field is beautiful from afar . . .
. . . but the inside of the stadium? Eh, not so much.
After botching my one good shot at a home run ball during the Mets’ portion of BP, I headed into foul territory when the Nationals came out:
After I few minutes, I got one of the catchers to throw me a ball. Was it Wilson Ramos or Jhonatan Solano? Maybe Sandy Leon? I had no idea.
My second ball of the day was an Anthony Rendon homer that I caught on the fly in straight away left field. That was my 600th ball of the season, and it wasn’t easy. For some reason, it seemed that every ballhawk in the New York/New Jersey area was at this game, so there was a ton of competition. For the Rendon homer, I had to run and jump and reach as high as possible in order to snag it over several other waiting gloves.
My 3rd ball was a line-drive homer by Rendon that pretty much came right to me. I caught that one on the fly without much of a struggle, but then had to battle for my next one — a Jayson Werth homer that once again required me to run and jump.
It’s good that I made a few decent plays because I was with a magazine reporter. I’ve been asked not to name him or the publication for which he writes, but I’ll say this: it’s very well known and should be out in a couple of weeks.
My fifth ball was thrown by Zach Walters, and my sixth was a homer (not sure who hit it) that I caught on the fly on the little platform that leads down to the party deck:
In the photo above, do you see the “hospitality attendant” in the green shirt? That’s the official title for those employees, which is absurd because most of them are anything BUT hospitable. This particular guy attempted to catch the ball — a huge no-no for employees — and then had the nerve to scold me for reaching in front of him for it.
Shortly before game time, I headed down to the seats along the left field foul line with this:
That’s my 7,000th ball, which I caught during BP on 8/27/13 at Nationals Park. At the time, I was pretty sure that Rendon had hit it, and now I’m pretty close to certain. My goal was to get him to sign it — not an easy task, based on what I’d heard about him.
That said, do you remember when I talked to him the day before and told him about the ball and said how much it would mean to me if he’d sign it? Well, this was my chance, but I had to be creative. When I called out to him with a basic request (“Anthony, can you please sign?”), he ignored me, so I waited a minute and then shouted, “ANTHONY, I’M THE ANNOYING GUY FROM YESTERDAY!!!”
As soon as I said that, he looked at me and smiled and walked over — and he signed my precious ball on the sweet spot. Unfortunately, the word “practice” was in the way . . .
. . . but whatever. I got it signed, and that’s all that matters. (I was the only person that he signed for, by the way.) He was very friendly. We chatted for a moment. I thanked him. And just before he jogged off, he said, “Good luck.”
After that, there was an on-field ceremony to commemorate the 12th anniversary of 9/11:
Did you notice the ball in the previous photo? Yes, of course you did, and after the ceremony, I got Landon Brandes, the Nationals’ Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, to throw it to me.
I spent the whole game with the reporter in left field and neglected to take a single photo. We were busy talking, and there wasn’t much action. Bryce Harper chucked a few warm-up balls into the seats, and Jayson Werth hit the game’s only homer onto the party deck. That was it. Final score: Nationals 3, Mets 0.
After the final out, I failed to get a ball from home-plate umpire James Hoye, but I did get one tossed to me by a Nationals coach in this spot:
I’m not sure who tossed it, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was pitching coach Steve McCatty.
I gave away three balls over the course of the day — one to a little kid during BP, another to an employee (who said he was gonna give it to a kid) before the game, and another to a kid after the game.
Before heading out, I got a photo with the reporter:
I really wish I could tell you who he writes for, but that would potentially mess up his story. Some media outlets love to hype things up ahead of time, but this one prefers a low-key approach. Stay tuned . . .
• 606 balls in 80 games this season = 7.58 balls per game.
• 715 balls in 92 lifetime games at Citi Field = 7.77 balls per game.
• 952 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 29 stadiums this season with a game-used ball: Citi Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Angel Stadium, PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Safeco Field, Kauffman Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, Minute Maid Park, Great American Ball Park, Progressive Field, PNC Park, Camden Yards, U.S. Cellular Field, Comerica Park, Rogers Centre, Miller Park, Busch Stadium, Wrigley Field, Target Field, Nationals Park, Marlins Park, Tropicana Field, Turner Field, Citizens Bank Park, Dodger Stadium, Chase Field, and the Oakland Coliseum
• 7,065 total balls
(For every stadium this season at which I snag a game-used ball, BIGS Sunflower Seeds will donate $500 to Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. In addition to that, I’m doing my own fundraiser again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, and if you donate money, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.)
• 39 donors for my fundraiser
• $3.48 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $27.84 raised at this game
• $2,108.88 raised this season through my fundraiser
• $14,500 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs
• $38,114.88 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009