My first ball of the day was a batting practice homer by Chase Headley that I caught on the fly in right field. My second ball, hit by a lefty that I couldn’t identify, whacked a seat so hard that it shot up in the air and deflected off the bottom of the second deck . . . kinda like this:
My third ball was another homer hit by the same guy, and I made a nice play on it. I ran 20 feet to my left, climbed back over a row, and with the sun in my eyes, I jumped and caught it with full extension. I handed my fourth ball to the nearest kid. That was a high-arcing ground-rule double hit by Dustin Ackley, and when the Royals took the field, I promptly got a pair of toss-ups from Paulo Orlando (I gave that one away too) and Jarrod Dyson. Neither of those balls was thrown to anyone in particular, and in fact the one from Dyson was a no-look flip. The Royals were noticeably generous throughout this four-game series. I can’t remember seeing any team consistently throw so many balls into the crowd. The Royals also hit a ton of balls into the seats, and I caught a couple of homers by Salvador Perez and Kendrys Morales. For the first one, I drifted to my right and climbed down over a row of seats, and for the second, I ran half a section to my right. That brought my total for the day to eight, and when I snagged a ground-rule double during the final group, I had tripled my effort from BP the previous day.
Before the game, I headed over to the left field bullpen to watch Ian Kennedy warm up:
He looked good.
He was hitting his spots.
There was no indication that he was about to get shellacked.
I never expected Starlin Castro to hit an opposite-field homer, but in the bottom of the 1st inning, he connected on a mediocre fastball:
Let me clarify: I didn’t expect it, but I was ready, and when the ball started flying in my direction, I knew what I had to do. Basically I darted 10 feet to my right and, taking my eye off the ball briefly, climbed back over a row through a narrow gap between two people. Here I am (in the pink-ish shirt) making my move:
The ball ended up tailing more than I expected, so I had to drift a few feet back, and then I disappeared from view:
Here’s another angle that shows me reaching up between two people — look closely and you’ll see the ball streaking into my glove:
The highlight on MLB.com doesn’t show me at all, but my celebration was captured by another network:
I was particularly excited about catching a home run for the second day in a row and also about raising more money for the charity Pitch In For Baseball. People are pledging money for each of my game home runs this season, so the more of them I snag, the more underprivileged kids will get to play baseball. For more info about my fundraiser, click here.
Here’s the ball (with a vendor photobombing):
An hour later, the section had gotten even more crowded, so I moved to the back row, where there was some open space. Once again, I didn’t expect anyone to launch a ball back there, but I was ready when Didi Gregorius connected in the bottom of the 4th. In the following screen shot, the arrow is pointing to the ball streaking up in the air:
Here I am running through the row . . .
. . . and reaching up for the catch:
Even though I had to move about 25 feet for that one, it was very easy. As I’ve said before, judging the distance of a ball right off the bat is *much* harder than judging the direction. In other words, it was obvious from the start that this ball was heading to my left, so I simply took off in that direction. Luckily for me, it was hit with the just the right distance for me to catch it in my row, and not only that, but if Didi had pulled it three feet closer to the foul pole, I wouldn’t have been able to catch it. I could not have taken one additional step because there was someone sitting/ducking/blocking me from moving any farther.
Once again, the MLB.com highlight didn’t show me. Instead, it was all about former tennis star John McEnroe:
I was glad to discover later (when someone tweeted a screen shot) that the YES Network showed me holding up both home run balls:
Here’s another shot of me photographing them — super attractive, right?
A little while later, I tweeted my photo of the baseballs:
In case you’re wondering, here are the other three games at which I’ve snagged two home runs:
Not surprisingly, lots of people tweeted at me after the Didi Gregorius homer:
Of course there were some haters too:
Someone else tweeted a photo of me looking at my phone, told me to pay attention to the game, and called me a derogatory term for the female genitalia. #StayClassy
Anyway, here I am with the two home runs balls:
When things settled down for me after the second home run, I gave away five BP balls to kids, both in my section and up above in the bleachers.
After the game, which the Yankees won, 7-3, I noticed that the highlights were being played on the jumbotron. Here I am after the Didi Gregorius homer:
Just before I left the stadium, I caught up with a security guard who had gotten drilled on the shoulder by a BP homer several days earlier. Check out this gnarly bruise:
Of the 11 balls that I had gotten, here are the four that I kept:
In the photo above, the Starlin homer is on the lower left, and Didi homer is on the lower right. (The Yankees have some cool first names, huh? Starlin, Didi, Dellin, Aroldis, Chasen, Masahiro, and Kirby.)
Later that night, I was excited to see myself featured on SportsCenter . . . for the second night in a row. Look how they put my name on the screen to show me in the crowd on the Starlin homer:
For Didi’s shot, they circled me in color and changed everything else to black and white:
They also showed my tweet for quite a while:
I timed how long it stayed on the screen: 19 seconds!
Someone else sent me a minute-long clip of some other show (in Canada?) that featured me and did a little “flashback.” Here are six screen shots:
1) It started with the flashback.
2) Me after snagging A-Rod’s 3,000th hit on June 19, 2015.
3) Me after catching Carlos Beltran’s homer the previous night.
4) Celebrating after the Starlin homer.
5) Holding both balls up after catching Didi’s dinger.
6) Not giving baseballs to kids because I’m a monster.
That’s actually how some people interpreted it. The fact is . . . those kids had recognized me earlier in the day and weren’t asking for the balls. They were simply happy for me and came over to share the moment and say congrats.
Oh, and get this . . . when that show played the highlight of the Starlin homer, the woman doing the highlights said, “Starlin Castro drives one deep opposite field off Ian Kennedy, and ya know who’s gonna catch it? A man who acts like he’s never caught a ball in his life. Act like you’ve been there before.”
Oh, okay, no problem. From now on I’ll pretend that I don’t like baseball and that it’s boring to catch home runs. I’m terribly sorry for being happy. Raising more money for a children’s baseball is also no cause for celebration.
The following day, a friend in Kansas City sent me a photo of his local newspaper:
The more I look at photos and videos of that home run, the more surprised I am that the tall guy in the light gray shirt didn’t deflect it.
Remember the vendor who photobombed me? He’s a good friend and texted me with his assessment of my effort on the Starlin homer:
As you may have noticed, I didn’t take many photos at this game. I’ve mostly pieced this whole story together with screen shots, so let me show you four more:
Those are the four times that I’ve snagged two home runs in one game.
Lots of people have been asking something to effect of, “How do you do it?” so here’s a very specific answer. I constantly look around at the shifting layout of the crowd. I also imagine home runs landing in various places and envision the route that I’d take to get there. If there’s a railing blocking me and/or fans, guards, and vendors, I’m hyperaware of that. If I have 10 feet of open space to work with but the ball is hit 15 feet away, I’m already planning to run those 10 feet and then climb up or down over a row so that I can keep moving. Most people don’t plan ahead like that, so when the ball goes up in the air, they have no chance unless it’s hit right at them — and even then, most people don’t have gloves and/0r can’t catch. Yeah, I was lucky to have two home runs hit in my vicinity when I had a little room to maneuver, but I often have much more space and far less luck. If I keep sitting in good spots, balls will eventually find me. That’s how I see it.
Someday I’m going to snag three home runs in one game. Mark my words . . .
• 11 baseballs at this game
• 197 balls in 22 games this season = 8.95 balls per game.
• 1,324 balls in 187 lifetime games at the new Yankee Stadium = 7.08 balls per game.
• 1,188 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 41 lifetime game home run balls (not counting toss-ups; click here for the complete list)
• 8,830 total balls
My fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.
• 9 donors for my fundraiser
• $77.77 pledged per game home run ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $233.31 raised this season
• $190,736.97 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009