Remember when I “attended” Game 1 of the 2007 World Series at Fenway Park? I spent that entire game on the parking garage behind the Green Monster and ended up snagging three balls during batting practice that sailed completely out of the stadium. Last night for Game 2 of the 2013 World Series, I planned to do the same thing, more or less — the goal, of course, being to catch a home run during the game.
Here’s what Lansdowne Street looked like at around 3:30pm:
Six years ago, I had some issues with being allowed to hang out on the garage, so this time, my solution was to actually pay to park there. That way, I figured, the parking lot attendants couldn’t legally tell me to leave, right? Well, unfortunately, when I arrived at the garage, I discovered that it was a “permit only” situation, so I was screwed. I ended up having to pay (an obscene amount) to park somewhere else nearby.
As it turned out, the garage attendants didn’t seem to care when I walked up the ramp and wandered around here:
Perhaps that’s because it was so early in the day; batting practice wasn’t going to start for another hour, so they had no reason to protect their terrain.
When BP finally started, one of the attendants walked by with a 2013 postseason ball . . .
. . . and offered to sell it to me for $20. (Thanks, pal, but I got seven of ’em last week.)
Given the fact that these guys sell all the baseballs they can grab, I was surprised that they didn’t kick me out, along with all the other random folks who had wandered up there. Look how crowded it was:
As you can see, the cars were right in the way. They’re always parked there, well within home run range, and sure enough, the back window of an SUV ended up getting smashed:
We all agreed to leave the ball inside the car — standard policy for such situations — but that didn’t stop me from carefully reaching inside the car to take a photo of it:
For the record . . . no, I didn’t take the ball, and yes, there were witnesses.
A little while later, another ball flew over the Monster and landed in the middle of the cars. Several guys, myself included, started chasing after it, but we had no idea where it went. That’s when I heard several fans in the stadium (at the top/back walkway of the Monster Seats) shouting frenzied directions about where the ball had rolled. It was under one of the vehicles — no double about that — but which one?
“The gray one!!” someone shouted from the Monster Seats, and we all hit the deck and looked under the closest gray car.
While the other guys were looking around frantically on the ground, I took a moment to peek at the fans inside the stadium. One of them ended up pointing at a different gray vehicle — a pick-up truck in the row behind me — so I hurried over and sprawled out and looked underneath it, and I SAW THE BALL!!! But it was beyond my reach. I was looking under the front passenger door, but the ball was tucked inside the tire on the driver’s side. I quickly got up, and as I began racing around to the front of the car, another guy beat me to the spot . . . but he ran right past it. Ha-HAAA!! He had no idea where the ball was, so I hurried into position and flopped onto the pavement and rolled underneath the truck in order to reach it. SUCCESS!!!
Here’s a photo of the ball:
Is that paint residue? Interesting.
The bad news is that I got kicked off the garage after snagging that ball, as did almost every other fan who’d been hanging out there. The one fan who got to stay happened to be a friend of mine named Lee, who had secured a parking spot there much earlier in the day — more on him in a bit.
As a result, I had to hang out *on* Lansdowne Street for the rest of BP, which meant I was too close to the Monster. Check out my crappy view . . .
. . . and by the way, here’s what the street looked like on my left:
In order to snag anything there, it was gonna have to be a deflection — either off someone or something in the Monster Seats or off the facade of the building behind me. My chances of getting another ball were VERY slim, which meant that a long streak of mine was in serious danger of ending: snagging at least two baseballs per game. The last time I had “only” gotten one ball was at the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco. Ever since then, I’ve always gotten at least two — a span of 489 games including All-Star events and World Series games at half a dozen different stadiums, plus rainouts and countless sellouts . . . you name it. And sure enough, when BP ended here in Boston, I still only had one ball.
I know what you’re thinking: don’t “count” this World Series game in my stats, right? After all, it’s not like I went inside the stadium, so how can I be penalized for not snagging a certain amount of baseballs? Right?! The answer is that I have to count it *because* I got a ball. That ball didn’t materialize out of thin air. There was a game being played (or in this case batting practice on a game day), and I acquired a ball from it — not by buying it or trading for it or receiving it as a gift from another fan. I snagged it in the the most legit of ways, so therefore the ball counts, and I need to have a “game” in my stats that reflects when/where it came into my possession.
On the flip side, if I hadn’t snagged any balls outside the stadium, then this wouldn’t have counted as a game in my stats. That’s how I handle being inside a stadium for what turns out to be a rainout: it only counts if I get a ball. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, it’s the equivalent of an “and one” situation in basketball, where the shot attempt only counts as an attempt if the ball goes in. For ballhawking purposes, I know that it’s a statistical oddity, and I’m not thrilled about it, but that’s just how it is. I’ve always done my stats like this. Take a look at the list of games I attended in 2002. See the one on June 16th at AT&T Park? I didn’t go inside the stadium that day; I got those two balls during BP on the portwalk between the right field stands and McCovey Cove.
Anyway, there was lots of action on Lansdowne before the game:
Once the game started (and there weren’t many people/baseballs), I was allowed to return to the garage roof, which was a HUGE relief. I seriously doubted that I was going to catch a home run there, but it was nice (after having driven all the way up from New York City) to at least get to stand there and have a remote chance.
It was also nice to hang out with my friend — the guy I mentioned earlier who’d gotten to stay on the garage when everyone else got the boot during BP. His name is Lee, and I’d met him on the garage in 2007. (More recently, I ran into him on 6/8/12 at Fenway Park, which was the day I snagged my 6,000th ball. Here’s a photo of us.) He lives in Texas and has flown to Boston for every ALCS and World Series game since 2004. but he never actually goes inside the stadium in the postseason. Given how much the tickets would cost, he actually prefers to hang out on the garage.
Now that you know all of that, take a look at Lee’s rental car:
Not only had he made a sign (which said “Going… Going… GOMES!!” on the back), but he had an elaborate setup of wires and electronic devices with which we could watch/listen to the game. Lee can’t stand the FOX commentators (Joe Buck and Tim McCarver), so he muted the TV (which was perched on a chair in front of his car) and blasted the radio broadcast (featuring Dave O’Brien and Joe Castiglione), but there was one issue. The radio broadcast wasn’t properly synched with the TV feed, so Lee had a laptop with some fancy software that enabled him to delay the radio just enough so that it matched up. Brilliant!! And by the way, Lee has worked as an electrical engineer.
Throughout the game, there was a small crowd of us huddled around the TV:
Unfortunately for Lee, the Cardinals won, 4-2, and unfortunately for us both, there weren’t any balls that flew over the Monster, but we still had a great time.
Here I am with him during an inning break:
It was very cold (game-time temperature: 49 degrees), but I felt fine thanks to wearing long underwear, two shirts, a hoodie, a ski hat, and my heaviest winter jacket. And a beard.
If there’s a Game 6, which now seems likely with The Series tied, 1-1, I will almost certainly be back at Fenway, and who knows? I might even end up with a ticket and go inside.
• 1 baseball at this game
• 710 balls in 93 games this season = 7.63 balls per game.
• 77 balls in 13 lifetime games at Fenway Park = 5.92 balls per game.
• 120 balls in 23 lifetime postseason games = 5.22 balls per game.
• 965 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 31 balls in 8 lifetime World Series games = 3.88 balls per game
• 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.
• 7,169 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.)
• 42 donors for my fundraiser
• $4.24 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $4.24 raised at this game
• $3,010.40 raised this season through my fundraiser
• $15,000 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs
• $39,416.40 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009