Although you can’t really tell from the following highlight, I caught Carlos Beltran’s grand slam on August 8, 2014 at Yankee Stadium. Take a look and then I’ll explain how it all went down:
Here are a few screen shots from that video, starting with the moment of contact:
Here’s the ball descending toward my section:
Did you notice how crowded it was?! Look how many people lunged for the ball:
Here’s a close-up that shows me buried in the crowd. The arrow on the left is pointing at my head; the arrow on the right is pointing at my glove:
How did I manage to catch the ball?
It was actually quite easy. And lucky.
Yes, the section was pretty much packed, but I had a tiny bit of room to work with. I was sitting in the end seat in the 3rd row (with the stairs on my left), and for some reason, the 2nd row had seven empty seats right in front of me. Those seats had been empty all night, so I’d been planning to use that space in case a home run ended up getting hit to my right. And that’s exactly what happened. As soon as Beltran connected, I jumped up and moved down one step and then drifted to the right through the 2nd row. The ball was heading about 10 feet to my right, so I got in line with it, and as it began descending, I knew that it was going to be a home run — but not by much. Thankfully it sailed *just* above everyone’s hands in the front row, and I reached up for the catch.
Here’s a photo of the ball that I took the following inning:
Meanwhile, the whole section was buzzing. Lots of people congratulated me, and one guy even thanked me. “You saved my face,” he said. At least a dozen fans asked to take photos with me and the ball.
Then, somehow, word spread about who I was. Someone who recognized me must’ve said something to the people sitting near them because a bunch of folks started shouting my name and holding up their phones with various pictures of me. One guy approached me with this image on his phone and said, “Is this you?!” Another guy asked me later, “How did you know to sit there?” Another man crouched next to me on the stairs, asked if I was the guy with 8,000 balls, and asked how much money I wanted for this one.
“Thanks for asking,” I said, “but it’s not for sale.”
“Come ONNNN,” he replied. “I gotta have that ball. I’m the biggest Carlos Beltran fan!”
“I appreciate that,” I said, “but I’ve been to 1,200 major league baseball games, and this is the first grand slam I’ve ever caught on the fly. Therefore *I* gotta have this ball. Plus, I’ve never sold a ball in my entire life, and I’m not about to start now.”
Someone else offered me $1,000 for it on Twitter, and my answer was no. He could’ve added a zero to the offer, and it wouldn’t have changed anything.
I was SO happy to simply hold/own the ball, as you can see by this photo taken shortly after the game ended:
Here’s one final photo of the ball at the stadium:
The man pictured above in the Beltran jersey insisted that he had brought me luck. There’s no doubt I’d gotten lucky on this particular ball, but I think my home run luck overall this season has been dreadful. This was my first longball in 27 games at Yankee Stadium. Does that sound lucky to you? What about the other 26 games filled with bad deflections, bad decisions, and nothingness?
I’ve recently come up with a statistical formula/comparison to judge how well I’m doing with game home run balls in an individual season. I like to imagine that I’m a starting pitcher; the number of homers I’ve snagged represents my innings pitched, and the number of games I’ve attended represents my pitch count. This season, I’ve snagged three home runs in 55 games, so if I were a pitcher, my pitch count would be 55 through three innings — not great but not a total disaster.
Anyway, this was my 29th lifetime game home run ball (plus six others that I don’t really count because they were tossed to me). Here’s the complete list.
Also, this wasn’t my first Carlos Beltran homer — and the other one was MUCH more meaningful. The other one is probably my favorite ball ever. It was the last home run that the Mets ever hit at Shea Stadium. Here’s a huge blog entry I wrote about it.
I guess that’s about it for now. I’m taking this weekend off, running my writing group on Monday, and planning to be at Citi Field on Tuesday.
Thanks to a friend who recorded the game, I’ve now seen some additional footage, and look — I *did* appear on TV: