Every now and then, when I’m waiting outside Citi Field, the security guards allow folks to enter early, and it always annoys me. I mean . . . who the hell gets to do that? Season ticket holders enjoying special perks? Family members of the players? I hate being on the outside looking in, and yesterday it happened again. Look at this nobody getting escorted inside:
I’m kidding. That was Dwight Gooden, and he was there to do a book signing.
Anyway, my first ball of the day was a home run by a right-handed batter on the Mets that landed on the party deck. Here’s a photo of the ball, and if you look closely, you can see the green-shirted employee in the background who tossed it up to me:
Five minutes later, Josh Satin threw a ball to two grown men in foul territory, who both reached for it and dropped it on the warning track.
“Hey, Josh!!” I yelled. “Throw one over here!! I’ll show those guys how to catch!!”
Satin turned and smiled at me, and I figured that was the end of it. I wasn’t going to ask him again, so I was pleasantly surprised when he fielded the next ball and immediately chucked it to me.
When the Marlins took the field, I wandered into foul territory and got pretty close to Juan Pierre:
I was hoping for a toss-up and might’ve gotten one if I’d stuck around, but when the Marlins started hitting, I hurried back to the outfield.
It wasn’t long before Rob Brantly tossed me my third ball of the day in left-center field, and several minutes later, I got another one thrown (from about 120 feet away) by Arquimedes Caminero.
Over the next 20 minutes or so, I snagged four home run balls. I’m not sure who hit the first three, but I can tell you that I grabbed them after they landed. The final home run was a towering shot by Giancarlo Stanton that I caught on the fly while I was climbing back over (and straddling) a row of seats.
Needing two more baseballs to reach double digits, I headed out to right-center field. Eventually Jose Fernandez threw me this one . . .
. . . which he underhanded from 75 to 100 feet away. The ball fell short and forced me to reach *way* down over the wall in the front row — so far down, in fact, that I was nervous about falling over. (Good thing I have big “Hample Legs” to help weigh me down.) Two minutes later, Steve Cishek tossed me my 10th ball.
At that point, there was one group of batters remaining. Here’s where I went for it:
After a few minutes (during which I was salivating over the lack of competition), a left-handed batter LAUNCHED a home run in my direction, which sailed so far over my head that I thought it was going to clear the seats. It ended up landing here:
(Did you see the ball sitting there, five seats in from the stairs?)
Two photos above, the player in right field was Sam Dyson. After several requests, I got him to throw me a ball — yes, all the way up from the warning track — and a little while later, I got one from this guy:
As you might already know, I count balls that are given to me by stadium employees, so this was my 13th ball of the day.
Before heading downstairs, I spotted a ball in the gap behind the right-center field wall, so I headed that way after BP and got this groundskeeper to toss it to me:
On my way to left field, I gave two baseballs away.
Then tai chi happened:
Normally, at that point in the day, I wouldn’t have been allowed to go anywhere except to my ticketed section, but a friendly usher (who used to be a ballhawk) gave me permission to enter the seats on the 3rd-base side.
The sky was pretty:
The game was about to begin:
I headed to my seat . . .
. . . and came VERY close to snagging Andrew Brown’s home run in the bottom of the 2nd — a no-doubter that reached the 2nd deck and ricocheted back down. I don’t know how many more near misses I can take. They’re really starting to make me question my purpose in life.
The game itself was good, I guess. Giancarlo hit two line-drive solo homers, and Lucas Duda connected on a three-run shot for the Mets. Final score: Mets 4, Marlins 3.
After the final out, I hurried down into the seats along the 3rd-base side in the hope of getting a ball from home plate umpire Mike Everitt. Here he is (in the light blue shirt) walking off the field:
When he got closer, I took a photo of him pulling a ball out of his pouch for me . . .
. . . and holding it up . . .
. . . before thrusting it into my glove.
That was my 15th and final ball of the day. Before leaving the seating area, I photographed the 13 balls that I still had in my possession:
Then I stood around in the concourse for a little while, looking for a worthy recipient for one final ball. I saw plenty of little kids without gloves and bigger kids with gloves, but it just didn’t feel right . . . so I left.
Five minutes later, as I headed into the subway toward the No. 7 train, I saw this:
In case you can’t tell, the little kid in front of me was pretending to catch imaginary fly balls. He had so much energy and was running and jumping all over the place. It’s hard to describe, but I just *had* to give him a ball, so while fumbling for my MetroCard, I grabbed the cleanest ball that I’d gotten during BP, and when he and his parents reached the train platform, I handed it to him. He was SO happy that it made ME happy. He smiled and laughed and stared at the ball and clutched it against his chest. He was truly in love with that ball, and of course his parents were pretty happy too. The night could not have ended better.
• 15 baseballs at this game
• 628 balls in 82 games this season = 7.66 balls per game.
• 737 balls in 94 lifetime games at Citi Field = 7.84 balls per game.
• 954 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 640 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 430 consecutive Mets home games with at least one ball
• 25 games this season with ten or more balls
• 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
• 7,087 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)
• $52.20 raised at this game
• $2,185.44 raised this season through my fundraiser
• $14,500 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs
• $38,191.44 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009