8/17/09 White Sox vs. Royals
My fourth Royals game this vacation, this time at US Cellular Field.
I arrived to the game 20 minutes before the gates opened. I went to the gate closest to right field and saw “The Happy Youngster” Nick Yohanek at that gate.
I stopped to talk with him and he let me go in with him. My goal for the day was 10. We decided that we should try for 20+ combined. But that didn’t happen.
After running up the ramps and showing my ticket to the guard in the 100 level, I ran into the seats. I saw Bob McClure in the bullpen with a non-rubbed up baseball, so I assumed he picked it off the ground. I asked him for it and he tossed me my 1st ball.
There were two balls there. Nick went for one and I went for the other. The ball was a bit under the overhang, so I had to knock it out from underneath. When I finally knocked it out from underneath, I lowered my glove over it and reeled up my 2nd ball.
Batted balls were flying all around as I rolled up my string. I saw Nick catch some on the fly, and then one was coming right to me. I moved maybe 2 steps or so to make sure that the ball wouldn’t hit me because it was coming exactly to me, and the ball clanged off a metal bench above me. I didn’t have my glove on, so I waited for the ball to take a lucky bounce. It didn’t bounce, it rolled. It rolled down the steps to me. To prevent it from rolling past me, I stuck my foot out. My foot stopped the ball in its tracks and then I reached down and picked up my 3rd ball. As you can see from the photo below it got scuffed up from smacking the ground:
I tried moving around in the outfield to catch fly balls, but it was crowded. Not New Yankee Stadium crowded, just enough to block off a lot of rows. I was going to look at the bullpen for balls, but before that I asked Luke Hochevar for a ball in the left-center corner while standing on a seat. He saw my Royals gear and threw me my 4th ball.
I got a ball like that later, but more painful, but before that I went to the bullpen to see if any balls were to be glove-tricked.
There were a couple balls, but just as I got there, Rusty Kuntz came into pick up balls that were there.
There was one ball that could be mine in a couple seconds, so I told Rusty:
“Leave it there. I can get it.”
So he stood there and watched, kicked it closer when it needed to be, and laughed as I reeled up my 5th ball.
Now here’s a story. Since the front row had become crowded, I stood on a seat in the second row and waved my arms and John Bale tossed me a ball, but a kid in front of me deflected it into the moat.
No problem, right?
Just as I lowered my glove down to get it, another kid with a glove trick came over and lowered his glove. I asked him if I could try to get it and he raised his trick up, but when I raised mine up to loosen the band a bit he lowered his.
I told him I wasn’t done, but he wouldn’t listen. I tried knocking the ball away from him, but our strings got tangled.
So I raised the glove to try and untangle it. The kid was calling his brother over to get the ball with his device. Not so fast. I gave Nick permission to get it, so he did, and then graciously helped untangle the string for a couple minutes. It probably cost me and Nick a ball or two, and we weren’t too happy. Because of that incident, left field became dead. But there was some action at the dugout. Mitch Maier came in and started signing, and since I was focused on ballhawking at that moment and it was too far away (it would take my minutes to get there and get his autograph) my brother took the baseball and got Mitch Maier to sign it for me, my 1st autograph. Remember, an autograph is not the same as a baseball and has different rules. But now let’s get back to the Ballhawking.
So Nick and I moved to right field. Remember about that painful ball that I mentioned earlier? I was standing on a seat (again) and calling to Joakim (Waa-keem) Soria for a ball that rolled to the center field wall. He saw my Royals shirt and threw me the ball. But it was high. I wanted that ball.
I reached up high.
I grabbed the ball out of the air, but then I fell back.
I was heading for the seat, then Nick, who was behind me, slowed me down, and I barely hit the seats. I wasn’t sure if I still had the baseball because my glove felt right, so I opened it up and saw that the ball was tucked in the very tip of the glove, not going anywhere. So there it was, I had my 6th baseball. I stood up and showed Joakim that I had the ball, and he gave me a thumbs up.
That was my last ball of BP. I made it late to the dugout. So I got no balls and only Alex Gordon’s autograph (my 2nd autograph.).
There’s another story from the game.
In the first inning, a Royal hit a home run into the White Sox bullpen. As soon as it landed, I was off. I got there and the ball was in the front of the bullpen.
Two people that I recognized were already there though, Todd and his son Tim. They write a blog with the URL http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com and they were standing in the concourse when they saw the home run land, so they ran down to look at it. A little bit later, Nick came also and we grabbed two seats on the aisle about 8 rows back. Since the seats were wet, I was wiping them down when another home run was hit. Nick and I ran down, but the home run landed in the bullpen, a couple feet from Nick’s glove. Guess what happened? Juan Nieves, the bullpen coach, grabbed the White Sox home run and threw it into the crowd. Guess where it landed? IN the seat I was in before I ran down to the bullpen. And then a security guard grabbed the other home run and gave it to a kid who didn’t know what was happening and wasn’t even asking for it.
First Braun’s homer, then this. And the competition was intense at the dugouts. I only got one more ball, my 7th ball. It was from an unknown Royals pitcher after the game, it was also my last ball of the day.
- 7 MLB Balls Today
- 2 MLB Autographs Today
- 152 MLB Autographs in this Season
- 191 Total Autographs in this Season
- 221 MLB Balls in this Season
- 242 Total Balls in this Season
- 4 Thrown, 2 Glove Trick, 1 Hit
- 6 BP, 1 After
- Attendance: 36,703 People
- Competition Factor: 256,921
- 6.14 Balls / 1 Game
- 36 Consecutive Games with at least 3 MLB Baseballs
- 26 Consecutive Games with at least 1 MLB Autograph
- 21 Consecutive Games with at least 4 MLB Baseballs
Oh, and two more cool photos: