There wasn’t much competition at the start of batting practice. It was just me and my friend Rick Gold out in left field . . .
. . . but the Mets didn’t hit many balls our way. Most of the batters were left-handed, and BP ended 15 minutes early, but we each managed to snag a few. I got toss-ups from coach Tom Goodwin, Matt den Dekker, and (way out in left-center) Travis d’Arnaud — and that was it.
At one point, a batter crushed a home run way over our heads into the second deck. When I ran up there to look for the ball, not only did I *not* find it, but Rick snagged three homers while I was gone.
He and I had agreed to take turns running down onto the not-yet-guarded Party Deck for any home runs that landed there. I told him he could have the first one, and as it turned out, there was ONLY one, so he kinda owed me. When the Mets finished hitting, he paid me back, so to speak, by wandering back up to the 2nd deck with me and helping me look for the ball. I *knew* it was there — perhaps hiding in a cup holder or some other unlikely spot? Rick and I scoured the seats for several minutes. We walked up and down the stairs in several sections, even in left-center field where the ball hadn’t landed. Perhaps the ball had deflected off an armrest or a railing? We kept looking and looking, and eventually I gave up.
“[Bleep] it,” I said. “I’m outta here.”
While I was heading up the stairs toward the concourse, Rick took one last peek and then called out to me. He waved me over calmly, and when I got close, he leaned in and whispered that he had spotted the ball.
“That guy is standing right next to it,” he said.
Indeed, there was a group of fans who had made their way into the seats, and sure enough, the ball was sitting against the back of a seat RIGHT next to a man. He was probably standing three or four feet to the right of it and somehow didn’t see it . . . so I waited . . . and waited . . . and thought about the best way to walk over there without tipping him off. Thankfully it wasn’t long before the man moved one row down and began to take off his sweatshirt. That’s when I took this photo . . .
. . . and then I made my move.
Were you able to spot the ball in the previous photo? If not, click the photo for a closer look. I assure you it’s there.
Big “thanks” to Rick for spotting that ball and then letting me have it. Like I said before, he kinda owed me for the homer that had landed on the Party Deck, but still, it was really nice of him to help me out like that.
Moments later, we saw this . . .
. . . and headed back down to the 100 Level.
I got three more balls during the Brewers’ portion of BP. The first was thrown by coach Garth Iorg. The second was a Sean Halton homer that I caught on the fly after reaching two rows forward. (I handed that ball to the nearest kid.) The third was a Martin Maldonado homer that I also caught on the fly. (That one was easy because it came right to me.)
My total for the day was seven. Rick’s total was eight, which was impressive because he hadn’t asked for any toss-ups. Of course, he did “accidentally” snag a few which randomly landed near him (including one at the very end of BP that Wily Peralta threw to me from 150 feet away and which tipped off my glove at the very top of my leap), but still, he deserves a fist-bump for only trying to snag batted balls. That’s old-school, and it requires lots of patience.
Before the stadium had opened, I ran into an old friend, and after BP, I got a photo with him:
In the photo above, the young man on the left is named Adam. He’s 18 now, and even though I hadn’t seen him for five years, I immediately recognized him as a former Watch With Zack client. I’d done two games with him (and his older brother Scott), first on 9/29/07 at Camden Yards and then the following season at the final game ever at the old Yankee Stadium. Here’s a photo of us from 2007, and here’s Adam in 2008. (Where DOES the time go?) It was great catching up with him.
Before the game, there were a zillion cheerleaders on the field . . .
. . . and during the game, they were driving everyone crazy:
They were everywhere. It was maddening. They were performing gymnastics on those staircase railings, blocking people’s view, running all over the place, screaming and shrieking, and so on. (That’s what I get for attending a 4:10pm game on a Saturday.)
Not all the kids in my section were were annoying. Check out this little guy in the orange cap in the front row:
He was wearing a glove, and he was extremely quiet and well-behaved, so I rewarded him by giving him a baseball.
Despite the fact that there was only one home run which landed nowhere near me, the game itself was pretty good. The Mets scored a run in the bottom of the 9th to tie it at 2-2, and for a couple of minutes, it looked like they were going to win. They had runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, and when Lucas Duda came to bat, the Brewers used an unconventional defensive alignment:
Did you notice that there were only two outfielders?
Here’s what the right side of the infield looked like:
As you can see, there were three infielders between 1st and 2nd base, but that didn’t matter. Duda was hit by a pitch, and David Wright followed by hitting a weak grounder up the middle, which turned into a 6-3 double play.
The Brewers answered with two runs in the top of the 10th, and that was it.
Final score: Brewers 4, Mets 2.
After the final out, I made it down to the Brewers’ dugout, but didn’t get any more baseballs. Instead I gave one of mine to a little kid who hadn’t gotten one.
“Now we can go home,” said his excited father to both of us. “Our day is complete.”
• 694 balls in 90 games this season = 7.71 balls per game.
• 761 balls in 97 lifetime games at Citi Field = 7.85 balls per game.
• 962 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 30 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, the Oakland Coliseum, and Coors Field.
• 7,153 total balls
(For every stadium this season at which I’ve snagged 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)
• $24.36 raised at this game
• $2,415.12 raised this season through my fundraiser
• $15,000 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs
• $38,921.12 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009