back in late July I wrote a post explaining what I would be writing
about for the next couple months left in baseball season. I said I
was up for the challenge of taking pictures while ballhawking and
bringing you a game-by-game account much like Zack
(got your name right this time) does. I lied. I wasn’t even close to
up for the challenge. The difficulty of photographically documenting
my baseballs was too much for me to handle. Maybe next season.
here is the first of a many-parted recap on this season in ball
hawking and autographing from both I and Ben.
Part 1, I will like to have a little fun and show videos of the
gamers that we either nearly missed or were able to snag. We appeared
in a total of 17 videos over the course of the season in which we had
an opportunity to catch the ball. You will see some of our best
tracks, some of our worsts, and some of our rookie mistakes. After
all, not all of us can have the luck of Zack Hample.
they come in chronological order:
for: Two people in orange running from the right of your screen
into the 2010 seasons, Ben and I were merely autograph collectors.
The only time we would “ballhawk” would be on days we
didn’t have access to the season ticket holder early entrance. We
would stand in right-centerfield and just catch balls until it was
time for everyone to have access to the park. Even then, we would use
the balls we caught for autographs. So when a ball came soaring to
left field during a rainy game in early April, we were slow on the
draw. You will see how we both struggle getting over a section and we
never complete our run. The wet environment also may have something
to do with it.
for: Two people in orange, one with a hood up and a book bag, running
from the right of your screen in the second row
Ty Wigginton is such a nice guy, he decided to give us another chance
at catching a homerun ball. Ironically, even though this ball landed
within in the first two rows, we came closer. After moving down to
heckle Carl Crawford in the tenth, Wigginton sent a shot in the same
section as before. Ben and I both made a dash to our right (your
left) through an open row. The ball landed on the ground in that same
row and there was immediately a scuffle on the ground for it. Since I
was in front of Ben, he attempted to shove me on top of the pile to
get the ball. The ground was wet, I was already cold, and I was
uninterested in catching a ball at this point. It wasn’t worth it …
at the time.
for: A bare-chested fan (me) wearing an orange wig
video is probably the one that is filled with the most mistake. For
starters, I was more concerned with cheering on my team/winning Fan
of the Game; I had chest painted and was not wearing my glove. My
second mistake was crucial. Since the homerun was a go-ahead bomb in
the top of the ninth, I just sat there and put my head down. The late
reaction is what did me in as I was just seconds away from grabbing
the ball. If I had not mourned the future loss, I would have easily
had my first homerun ball.
for: Two chest painted fans in the same row the ball is headed. If
you can’t see us, you will after you read the description.
the previous three missed opportunities, this ball was hit in the
exact same row where we were sitting. The ball was hit toward the
aisle to our right but we were able to react quickly. Ben decided to
drop down a row since I was closest to the right. I ran to my right,
squeezed by the guy only other guy sitting in the row, and kept my
eye on the ball. In mid run, I stuck my glove up and the ball came
straight to me. I only needed to reach over a gloveless Phillies fan
to catch the first homerun ball of my career. If you watch the video,
you will see me bend over after catching it. I was merely picking up
my wig. I DID NOT drop the ball. I also did not celebrate. I just
walked back to my seat calmly, act like you’ve been there before. The
fans were yelling at me to throw it back, telling me I wasn’t a real
fan. The thought never crossed my mind to get another ball out of my
bag and throw it back (did I even have another?), I was still shaking
from the thrill. Later in that inning, a guy approached me and said
he went to school with Rosales and said he would give me $40 for the
ball. Sadly and regrettably, I accepted his offer. If I was a
ballhawk at the time, I would have my first career homerun ball
sitting right here in front of me.
for: The same thing as the last video. Its the same day … Dummies.
it or not, after my first homerun catch ever, I had the chance to
become a ballhawk legend already by snagging two homerun balls in one
game. Garrett Atkins sent a towering blast to left field … why are
you laughing? … and I once again made a move to my right. But,
remember that guy sitting in my row? He decided to throw a block on
me and I was unable to get passed him this time. He told me that he
“didn’t want me to catch another one” and that “I
could have the next one.” I said remarked “thanks” and
walked away. As.. I mean butt. It would have been a tough grab for me
but certainly doable. On a related note, Ben didn’t even move.
for: The closest two people wearing orange shirts
was a rarity for us. We were not sitting in the left field bleachers
of Camden Yards yet we were in left field at fairly new Nationals
Park. It was our first time at the park and he were not masters of
the track yet. Also, for some reason, Nationals Park was crowded.
When Aaron Rowand ripped a shot to left field, both Ben and I jumped
out of our seats and made a move down the row. I was in front and I
stopped before getting there, knowing that the ball was going to land
either in the front row or in the garden that lines the wall. The
ball hit off the fan’s hands in the front row and fell into the
garden where it fell through behind the wall. Tough luck for
for: Two shirtless fans running from the far right of your screen
again, we were both shirtless and chest painted (4x fans of the games
in 2010). This time, we were both full-time ballhawks and both were
wearing our gloves. Ben had said before the game that was going to
catch a Torii Hunter homerun and this was his chance. When Hunter
sent a ball to deep left, Ben reacted quickly. He ran to his left and
was able to make it to the row where the ball landed. He made a lunge
at where the ball rested, but was seconds late as it was snatched
from right under his nose. Ben was still stuck looking for his first
homerun ball. However, you have to admire the amount of ground he
covered. Very impressive.
for: Person in orange shirt running from the left to the right, then
climbing the rows
this day I had practically the entire left field sections to myself.
Any homerun hit to that side of the field would have had a high
percentage of becoming my second career homer. That is, of course,
barring a blunder on my part. Of course, that is what happened when
Adam Moore sent a 10th inning homerun towards me. I chose
the wrong row in the nearly empty stands and the ball sailed at least
five rows over my head. “Under-rowing,” as I have called it,
became a trend for my 2010 season. I tried to climb the rows to get
the ball and I had everyone beat to the row. That is everyone that
was behind me. Someone sitting in the row ran over and picked it up
seconds before I could get to it.
for: Person in orange shirt and hat running from the far (your) left
of the section to the right
was sitting in the far left of the section, planning for most of the
balls to be hid closer to the foul pole. Matt Tuiasosopo proved me
wrong as he ripped one to my right. Since I was sitting in an empty
row, I was able to get all the way to the other aisle where the ball
eventually landed. The ball hit the stairs and bounced down just
before I got there. If I would have (A) reacted faster, (B) ran
faster, (C) been sitting closer in towards the middle of the row I
would have been able to use my size to reach over the shorter man who
was standing right by the ball. I possibly could have made a try at
the ball as it was, but I certainly didn’t want to hurt anybody.
for: The fan in the orange shirt running down the stairs (Me) or the
fan running from your right to your left (Ben)
case you couldn’t tell, NO ONE was at this game. It had been raining
for most of the day and they just barely were able to squeeze the
game in. Ben and I were playing everywhere for homerun balls based on
our knowledge of homerun hitters. Tuiasosopo sent a rocket close to
the area where we were playing him, hitting it to hard for anyone to
catch it. You can see the man in the black shirt make a lunge for it
but has the ball sail just over his glove. At that time, it was a
race between me and him to grab the ball that laid in the vacant
seat. He had to climb seats while I had to run through through the
row. He beat me by a nano-second to the ball where he was able to
snatch it. I had arrived at the seat, tried to stop, and ended up
doing a near split because of the wet conditions. The man in the
black ended up being Rick Gold, a ballhawk from Oakland. It made it
hurt that much more.
for: Fan running from the flag court to the seats in a white shirt
had played for Luke Scott’s 100th career homerun for most
of the day on Saturday (the day before) to no avail. Ben decided to
attend the game on Sunday for the milestone homerun and he was given
a great opportunity. While standing on the flag court where he could
see Scott’s at bat, Luke sent a monster shot to the back of the
seats, two sections away from the flag court. Ben, with his head up
and eyes looking at the ball, made his run to the seated area where
the ball landed just behind a fan. A scuffle on the ground occurred
giving Ben just enough time to make his way over. Ben later remarked
that he “just saw white and grabbed for it.” It was a napkin. No
homerun for Ben yet.
for: Fan in orange running from the right, up the steps, and has the
ball sail over his head
of under-rowing number two. This time I was only off by about two
rows in my quest for the ball. Make this a lesson to all you
ballhawks – ALWAYS go higher first. Do you know how many times I
have “over-rowed” a homerun ball? Never. How many times I
under-rowed? I don’t want to talk about it. Unlike the other
homeruns, this one did more physical damage than mental. I don’t
recall if it was when I originally tracked the ball or when I chased
after the bounce, but I ran into a side of the chair. I had a bruise
on my thigh bigger than a baseball for over a month.
for: Fan in black running across from right to left
number three. I never even went up a row; I just ran straight across
the row I was sitting in. I thought the ball was going to come right
to me but it just kept sailing. I didn’t have an opportunity to
rebound on this one as the large man a row above where it landed
pounced on it and threw it back. Under-rowing, under-rowing,
under-rowing. Guess what I’m working on this offseason?
for: Fan in black running up the steps then back down
under-rowing the last homerun hit my way. I told my girlfriend, who
was sitting with me, that my first move on the next one will be up
the steps then back down. When Adam Jones struck one in the 8th,
I immediately ran up the steps, evaluated the flight of the ball, the
quickly ran back down. Thankfully, the ball was going to land right
in the stairs and it was hit high in the air, giving me time to
recover. I reached over the mob of five people and caught the ball
thanks to my height and the height of the step I was on compared to
everyone else. My second homerun of the season was another clean
catch, this time of a ball hit by an Oriole. One of the six people I
caught the ball over was Rick Gold, the one who stole a homer away
from me just a month ago. You can read more about it here.
the last game of the season I got Adam Jones to sign the ball. Here
is how our conversation went:
Can you write homerun #49 on there for me?
Jonesy: This isn’t a
Me: Yes it is!
Jonesy: You caught it!? Good job! Whats
the date on it?
Me: UHHHHHHHHH Dammit! I don’t know!
You gotta know! Let’s see who were we playing?
Jonesy: Oh yeah, hit it off of Janssen. I don’t know the date
either. Here you go.
ball may be the most treasured one I have. Thanks Adam!
you watched the video first you may be saying. “Hey! That ball
landed in the bullpen! No one caught it!” You would be correct.
However, there is always the possible toss-up. Ben and I both made a
mad dash over to the bullpen in hopes one of the players would pick
it up and throw it to us (since we were two of the few Oriole fans in
attendance). Sure enough, Alfredo Simon picked the ball up and tossed
it up to Ben who beat me to the spot. Ben finally got his first gamer
and it was a huge one. Read more about it here.
like the last ball, this one landed where no one was sitting, in the
sod farm. Ben wasn’t even in the section next to it at the time and I
had left, disgusted at all the Yankee fans. Ben raced over to the
section knowing he had a chance at a toss-up. He was able to get next
to the railing as the groundskeeper went to pick it up. He was able
to get his attention and he tossed it up to him. Ben reached over the
railing and the ball landed in his glove. His second homerun of the
season was landed on back-to-back days at a packed Camden Yards. That
would be if the Yankee fan next to him wouldn’t have knocked it out
of his glove and back down to the sod farm. The groundskeeper then
chucked it up into the seats over Ben’s head, making sure it wasn’t
dropped again. Ben was not able to rebound.
for: Chest painted fan running from right to left
you saw from our seventeen videos, we have a lot to work on this
offseason. From the beginning of the year to the end, our skills got
progressively better and our results were more favorable. Be sure to
look for our next recaps.
Dedication and irritation as an amalgam usually causes
demise to a person or a subject at hand, with the latter the cause of fatality.
Instead, dedication and irritation were the two things that led to the creation
of Baltimore’s Finest.
Different people are irritated by different things. Usually
the irritation comes with the failings of another, especially of another in the
same field as you. Say you’re a plumber and you get called to a house to do
some work with the piping on the sink, or God forbid the toilet, to only find
that they guy in there before you screwed everything up. Apply that to whatever
occupation you hold – computer technician, mechanic, or even doctor. The
failures of that other guy may give you more work but the good news is you have
As a writer, or an aspiring, wannabe one at least, my
irritation comes from the poorly written posts that spew over the web full of
grammatical errors and misspellings. When I read a post today on ball hawking -
another passion of mine – written by a fellow that will not be name, that hails
from Pittsburgh, and claimed to have found the Washington Monument one mile
away from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland; my irritation
reached the peak.
Showing dedication, if in proper moderations, can exhibit
fantastic character. Everyone has a passion for something; no matter who,
where, or what. A passion that is sweeping the baseball world is that of ball
hawking – the art of catching baseballs at Major League Baseball games. There
is mygameballs.com where the hawkers post their game-by-game stats all in an
attempt to make the leaderboard and maybe even challenge the all-time leader,
Zach Hample with his 4,540 balls as of 7/25/10.
In roaming mygameballs.com and joining just a few months
ago, I have noticed, along with people posting their ball totals, that they are
posting blogs with pictures and descriptions of the day of hawking. I had some
interest in joining in with the blogging. I have somewhat of a writing
background with articles on informativesports.com and isportsweb.com as well as
posts on fannation.com, helium.com, and a soon-to-be a column on mygameballs;
so that wasn’t the big issue. The problem was gathering all the data while
shagging balls. Hawking in Oriole Park at Camden Yards is hard enough when you
aren’t taking notes and pictures. Now, I am up for the challenge.
Or should I say we
are up for the challenge. Baltimore’s Finest plans to be a double-dose of
hawking from me, Tim Anderson (gu3 on mygameballs), and Ben Huff (bhuff on
mygameballs). Between the two of us, we have compiled 52 balls through only 15
games in 2010 with many more hoping to come.