Since the Pirates are out of town for a week, and I’d like to snag my 500th career ball sometime in 2009, I decided that I needed to make a road trip or two this week. My first stop would be Camden Yards in Baltimore.
I attended this game with two friends, one of whom is in the ballhawk league (Andrew).
We arrived at 3:30 and got our tickets. There are two gates that open at 5:00. The Eutaw Street gate near the Babe Ruth statue…
And the one on the opposite end, nearest to the right field foul pole.
Which didn’t happen.
We stayed l
ong enough to watch all of the batters from each team hit, and then left the game early. We had a four hour + drive, and made it back home a bit after midnight.
Here are today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 3 balls (3 hit)
Season: 263 balls (137 hit, 84 thrown, 42 device)
Games: 56 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.70 balls per game
Career: 429 balls
Streak: 71 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I decided to make one final trip this week to see a baseball game outside of Pittsburgh. My brother joined me for the four hour drive down to Baltimore. We arrived about an hour before the gates opened, and were the first ones in the park.
I ran to the right field foul pole to get early entrance with the season ticket that I had bought, and sprinted around the seating bowl. When I got to left field, I had it all to myself for about 2-3 minutes.
I found ball #1 laying in the front row.
Ball #2 was a home run hit by Adam Jones into the section closest to the bullpen. I sprinted over and back several rows to pick up my second ball of the day.
Minutes later, Matt Wieters hit a line drive home run in my direction. I ran to the spot where I thought the ball was going to land and got there just in time to make the catch of ball #3. I was aided by the fact that there weren’t many season ticket holders that come to week day games. Look at the crowd at 5:15:
Game: 6 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 198 balls (98 hit, 72 thrown, 28 device)
Games: 38 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.21 balls per game
Career: 364 Balls
I was looking forward to my first ever trip to Camden Yards. I should’ve known that something was up though because before leaving, I filled up my half empty gas tank with 6.66 gallons of gas. Not good.
This was not a good sign for batting practice.
The gates opened and I ran into right field first. It would be the last time I would run for somewhile. There was me and some other guy in the section. I long home run was hit within the first minute. It landed about 10 rows behind me, closer to the other guy. He ran to get the ball. I also ran to get the ball. We both ran to where the ball had landed but couldn’t find it. I then noticed some movement under the seats. It was rolling down the stairs under the seats. It was two rows ahead of me. I attempted to stradle a row of chairs to get to it quickly. The drop must’ve been more than I expected because my foot landed awkwardly and immediately rolled over. I went down like a pile of bricks. The other guy saw what happened and ran over and snatched the ball. I was in a lot of pain. I had to sit down for a couple minutes. I tried to stand up but couldn’t walk. My ankle was in bad shape. Should I go home or continue on?
I toughed it out and limped over to left field. Since I had season tickets for this game, I had an extra 30 minutes with only season ticket holders. There were a few balls hit out, but I had absolutely no range. Usually I can cover at least one full section to my left or right to chase a home run. Now? Maybe 2-3 seats either way. A home run landed near me, but I wasn’t able to get to it in time. Some teenager ran over and grabbed it and screamed “It’s mine!!!” and started celebrating like he had caught Joe Carter’s 1993 Game 7 World Series walk off home run. I really wasn’t in the mood.
Several minutes later another home run hit and bounced diagonally directly to me. I bent over gingerly and picked up ball #1.
Right before the stadium opened to the general public, another home run was hit. It was directly at me. I barely had to move. I caught the home run on the fly.&
nbsp; It was ball #2.
The Rangers must have been having their own Home Run Derby competition, because it was insane the amount of home runs they were hitting, and how far they were hitting them. Josh Hamilton hit one over the batter’s eye, and peppered a few more off of it. He was also hitting opposite field shots into the left field seats. Balls were landed a good 25 rows back.
I wasn’t able to get anything though.
I went over to center field to check out the bullpens. There was 10 balls sitting in the grassy area to the right of the bullpens beneath the batters eye. I met and chatted with another ballhawk who said that the pitching coach usually comes out and tosses the balls up. There was one ball at the very back that was about 10 feet out. However, it was a big drop between the seats and the grassy area against the batters eye. I would’ve used the glove trick, but I figured I’d save myself the aggravation and just wait for the pitching coach.
An Orioles bullpen catcher came out and started getting the balls. Myself and the other ballhawk asked politely for the balls. He totally ignored us. He gathered all of the balls, most if not all were hit by Texas Rangers, and put them in the ball bag. I’m real sure that pitchers want to warm up with balls that were crushed 420+ feet. No wonder the Orioles lost today.
I ended up leaving the game in the 4th inning as I noticed a huge bulge in my sock. My ankle was swollen really bad. After sitting down for a few innings, I could barely even walk. I made it to the outside of the stadium and flagged down a taxi to take me back to my hotel room.
I snapped this picture in the mirror of the balls I caught today. I wasn’t happy.
I had tickets for Sunday’s game, but found a buyer for them. They came and picked up the tickets on Sunday morning at my hotel. There was just no way I could go to the game. I’m at home now, and can’t put any substantial weight on my ankle without pain.
Hopefully my ankle can heal enough so I can get to some games this week.
Game: 2 Balls (2 hit)
Season: 50 Balls (19 hit, 25 thrown, 6 device)
Games: 11 Games (9 with BP, 2 without)
Average: 4.55 Balls per Game
Career: 216 Balls