My friend Brandon Sloter joined me at this game and started taking photos as soon as we entered the subway. Here I am just before boarding a No. 4 train to the Bronx:
Here I am outside Yankee Stadium . . .
. . . and here I am catching a home run during batting practice:
I think it was hit by Chase Headley, but I’m not sure.
That was actually my fourth ball of the day, but it was the first that Brandon saw. Before he made it inside, I had found a ball in the left field seats, gotten a toss-up from David Carpenter (who’s very very nice), and retrieved a home run that landed near me.
When the Orioles started hitting, I didn’t have to wait long to see more action. Here I am tracking a deep line drive:
It ended up carrying a bit farther than I expected, so I had to jump to make the catch:
Here I am with the ball:
I don’t know who hit that one or any of the other homers I’m about to tell you about — just mentioning it now so I don’t have to keep repeating myself.
Here’s a funny photo that makes it look like I’m afraid of the ball:
Why was I flinching instead of running over to catch it on the fly?
Two reasons . . .
First, when that ball was hit, I wasn’t standing there. I had to dart down the steps and then move to my right, so that was as close as I got before it landed. Second, deflections are the worst. Remember when this happened to me on 7/31/13 at Turner Field? I was trying to avoid a similar situation here at Yankee Stadium, so once I realized that I wasn’t going to catch the ball, I didn’t want to get too close. I ended up snagging it, though, so whatever.
After that, I headed over to right field for a bit and caught two home runs. The first one was fairly routine, and I gave it to the nearest fan. The second one, however, required a bit of an effort including fighting the sun and jumping. Check out this amazing photo that Brandon took as the ball was entering my glove:
See the guy behind me in the dark blue shirt? He and I are friendly acquaintances. He’s often in that spot, and whenever we see each other, we say hello. After I caught the ball, I apologized for jumping in front of him, and he was super-cool about it. He was like, “Don’t even worry. I just did the same thing to someone else, and anyway, we got eleven balls today, so it’s all good.” Then he told me that he’s not able to run and jump anymore like he used to, and he encouraged me to do it while I can.
THAT is the true spirit of ballhawking. You go for what you can (while making sure not to crash into anyone). Sometimes you rob people. Sometimes you get robbed. And you just accept that that’s how it goes.
I finished BP with eight balls. Then I headed to the upper deck with Brandon:
In the photo above, that’s him on the staircase. He’s a professional videographer/photographer, and he wanted to get some pics up there. (FYI, he’s the guy who has filmed me at PETCO Park, Wrigley Field, Citizens Bank Park, and Dodger Stadium.) Of course, before we headed back downstairs, he offered to take one of me:
Just before the game started, I got my ninth ball of the day . . .
. . . from Orioles bullpen catcher Jett Ruiz.
This was my view during the game:
As I mentioned on Twitter, Delmon Young was playing right field for the Orioles, and this fan in the bleachers . . .
. . . was yelling, “MARKAKIS!!! I HATE YOU!!!”
Just about everyone on Twitter thought the guy was a complete idiot for not realizing that Nick Markakis no longer plays for the Orioles. At the time, I didn’t feel like tweeting back and forth with dozens of people, so let me set the record straight now: the guy was joking. Trust me. He knew what he was doing. And he was LOUD. He was yelling in a comical, raspy/nasal-y way that somehow made his voice carry like you wouldn’t believe. I’m sure there were at least 1,000 people who heard every word he was saying, including Delmon Young (who deserves heckling). Later on, the guy spent a few innings yelling, “MARKAKIS!!! YOU’RE TERRIBLE!!!” and eventually he screamed, “MARKAKIS!!! YOU’RE LUCKY SECURITY IS HERE!!!” which might seem threatening or menacing, but the guy was so over-the-top goofy that it just made everyone laugh.
You know what else was funny? All the mustache photos of the Yankees on the jumbotron. Look at this nonsense:
This was my dinner — garlic fries with cheese sauce:
As for the game, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Then the Orioles scored four runs to make it interesting, but that was it. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each pitched a scoreless inning (YET AGAIN) to shut things down. Neither one of those guys has given up an earned run all season! That’s great if you’re a Yankee fan, but if you’re like me, and you just wanna watch baseball and see compelling games which might feature a comeback once in a while, it kinda sucks.
Check out the following photo, which I took after the game:
Did you spot the baseball in the bullpen? See the groundskeeper working on the mound? I asked him for it (in the most polite way imaginable), and he just shook his head. Thanks.
Here are the eight balls I took home:
Not bad overall, though Yankee Stadium always stresses me out and makes me considerably poorer.
• 9 baseballs at this game
• 169 balls in 22 games this season = 7.68 balls per game.
• 859 lifetime balls in 128 games at the new Yankee Stadium = 6.71 balls per game.
• 1,075 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 740 consecutive games in New York with at least one ball
• 256 consecutive Yankees home games with at least one ball
• 7,975 total balls
(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn about my fundraiser, and if you donate money, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.)
• 15 donors for my fundraiser
• $118.40 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $118.40 raised this season
• $40,073.90 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009