My good friend Zack was kind enough to write a blog entry about me, but more specifically, my collection. Here is a link to that blog entry:
This is simply a small entry of some photos from the final game at Sun Life Stadium on 9/28/11 between the Florida Marlins and the Washington Nationals.
This first photo is of the final game commemorative Marlins ball I snagged:
This second photo is of my favorite player ever. He was only a Marlin for five games, but he hit a triple while he was there, and nevertheless I have his jersey, please welcome, Mike Piazza:
This next pic is an amusing one, of Livan Hernandez in his Marlins jersey, and his Nationals pants:
Here I am in my Marlins Mike Piazza jersey, with the 3rd out Marlins commemorative I got:
And here’s a postgame photo with Joe, a ballhawk who resides in the club level, and snags game homers:
Lastly, here’s a photo of the matchup of the only Super Bowl I attended (which took place in this stadium):
The Colts, MY Colts, MY 0-7 Colts, won this Super Bowl matchup.
Here is a brief article written by Alan Schuster, creator of mygameballs.com, that briefly details my snag of the commemorative ball from the final game at Sun Life Stadium in Florida:
Mygameballs.com is a website that allows fans to document all the baseballs they snag at the games they attend, as well as the games themselves.
Special thanks to Alan for taking the time to write this article about me. Below are links to 3 other articles he has previously written about balls I snagged at various games.
And my favorite:
I decided to take a trip to Sun Life Stadium (aka Pro Player Stadium, Pro Player Park, Joe Robbie Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Land Shark Stadium) for the final series in this park. After I incorrectly booked my flights and got them changed, I needed to reschedule them AGAIN! Due to conflicts in my schedule, multiple flight rearrangements, and a special thanks to a friend, I finally had my trip to Florida in place. Except now, I was going to be stopping in Atlanta for one game on Tuesday to meet up with my friend Zack Hample, and would finally go to Miami on Wednesday, to see the Marlins final game in their “delightful” ballpark (football stadium). I had also been informed Mike Piazza would be at the Marlins closing ceremonies, so I was even more excited to go than before!
As a brief recap of Atlanta, in my first game there in which I attempted to get a ball (since 2009), I managed to snag 4 baseballs. My first was a homer by a Braves player that landed in the LF seats. My second was a Dan Uggla homer I chased down in the LF seats. My third ball was a toss-up from Phillies bullpen catcher(???) Ali Modami. And my fourth and final ball was a homer I caught on the fly in RF. I also managed to stupidly run into a seat, because I was paying attention, causing me to break my camera, and make the lighter in my pocket explode, and get lighter fluid all over me. Not an enjoyable feeling. I was truly scared thinking I’d burst into flames. The day had started out so good, that I was thinking I’d get 6-8 balls, but I lost about 45 minutes of BP freaking out, and I really never got back on my game.
At this game, I wore a Braves home Tim Hudson jersey, and a Phillies home cool base Roy Halladay jersey. I lent Zack a Phillies home Jim Thome jersey:
In the Top photo, you can see Zack in my Jim Thome jersey, and me just behind him in the #34 Phillies jersey. In the photo below, you can again see Zack in the Thome jersey, and me in the Tim Hudson, with my bookbag on.
Here’s two more photos from this game I really like:
Now, on to Florida:
I arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 11:30am on Wednesday. I immediately picked up my rental car, and headed straight to the stadium. I got to the stadium around 1:10pm. Naturally, I was the first person on line. I was about the only person around until 1:40pm. There wound up being maybe 15-20 people there when the gates opened. I went running into the stadium as the gates opened at 2pm, which was earlier than they normally do for a 4:10pm game (normally gates open only 90 minutes before first pitch).
As I ran in, I quickly glance at the stand selling programs, and notice a commemorative ball, and assume it’s a “just for fans” ball, one that they are just selling. I get upstairs and see that the cages aren’t out on the field, and the teams aren’t taking BP. Disappointed, I wander over to the Marlins dugout and someone tells me that they are using the commemorative balls in the game. I ask how they know and they say because they asked an employee. I practically dismiss this person’s claim, and wander over to the Nationals bullpen, where there are a few pitchers warming up.
At this game, for the Marlins I would be wearing a home Mike Piazza jersey, since he is my favorite player ever, and would of course be there. Also, NO ONE owns this jersey. There may be like 5 in the world. For the Nationals, I opted not to bring a jersey, and instead wore a red Zach Day t-shirt. I chose this shirt, because I had worn it to a Mets vs. Nats game 2 weeks earlier, and had the 14 Nationals pitchers who were warming up, and a coach, notice me, and stare at me, to which I responded questioningly “What’s up guys?” One of the pitchers responded “Who the f**k is on you shirt?!?” I told them, and they began to question me about who he was. NONE OF THEM knew him, or had ever heard of him, the coach included. It was a funny scene, and got me 3 baseballs on that day.
On this day, I got my first ball from Nationals pitcher Collin Balester. As I begin to walk away, another fan sees me get the ball, and asks if it’s a commemorative ball. I say no, and he begins to tell me that they will be using commemorative balls in the game. He informs me he asked an equipment manager. At this point, I start to believe the rumors, and head back to the Marlins dugout. After about 20 minutes of not seeing anyone with any insight to this matter, I head back over to the Nationals bullpen, and get another ball tossed to me, this time from Tyler Clippard, after he completes his warm-ups.
I now figured if there really are commemorative balls being used, well, the Nationals certainly wouldn’t be warming up with them, so I headed over to foul territory in right field, where a few Marlins pitchers were warming up. I thought maybe they would be using them. After about 15 minutes of being ignored by the Marlins pitchers, I went downstairs to the booth where I originally saw the commemorative balls being sold. Turned out, this was the ONLY booth in the entire stadium selling them. How ridiculous is that?!? Just goes to show what it’s like in Florida.
When I arrived at the booth, I noticed a sign:
The sign actually says “Ball Used by the Florida Marlins in Their Last Game at Sun Life Stadium!”
So it was true, the Marlins WERE in fact using these balls in the game. Unbelievable. NO ONE knew about it. I made a few phone calls, and ultimately heard back from my contacts, who contacted their contacts at MLB and at Rawlings, that these commemorative balls would be used in the game, and they were a late addition to MLB’s lineup of commemorative balls for the season.
These balls seemed to be flying off the shelves (well, shelf, as there was only the ONE booth), so I bought one, just in case I didn’t get one. I figured my chances of getting one were VERY slim, so I wanted to ensure I had one.
There were no other ballhawks at this game. No one tends to go to Florida, especially not on a Wednesday, in September. So I knew I had to get one. And believe me, I desperately wanted one.
When I went back upstairs, it was about 20 minutes before the start of the game, and I saw a few Nationals warming up in LF, so I threw on my bright red Nats t-shirt, and quickly got Brian Bixler’s attention as he was heading to the dugout. He noticed me, and even pointed right at me. He was about 60 feet away, and threw me a perfect strike. That would be my third ball of the day.
I now had to get on my game. I normally don’t run around during games. I tend to sit behind the visiting team’s dugout, and stay there for the whole game. But on this day, I knew I needed to maximize my opportunities to get a 3rd out ball. I figured this would be my best shot at a commemorative ball.
Since there are ushers that prevent you from getting any closer than the 8th row, and you needed a special ticket to get down in the first 7 rows, I knew I needed some special assistance. Normally, I wouldn’t worry, but on this day, the seats behind the dugouts were actually filled up. I basically fooled the guy behind the Marlins dugout into letting me be there, and sitting on the aisle by confusing him, and making him think I was there the whole time. I attempted to get a third out ball from the Marlins after the top of the first, but there were tons of kids, and people, so I knew being at the Marlins dugout was going to be a struggle all day, and may prove to be useless.
I now headed over to the Nationals dugout. I tend to always play the 3rd base end of the visiting dugout, as opposed to the home plate end, but with Stephen Strasburg pitching, I expected there to be a fair share of strikeouts. Sure enough, in the bottom of the first, he struck out Greg Dobbs to end the inning, and I looked around and noticed I was the ONLY one asking for the ball, and better yet, the ONLY one in a Nationals jersey. I could feel it. Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez was heading back to the dugout with the ball and he was going to notice me. But then, he stopped. He yelled to some kid, who wasn’t even paying attention, and threw the ball at him, around the screen behind home plate. He missed, completely, and the ball wound up sitting on the field, at the backstop. A ballboy went to retrieve it, and shatter my hopes.
The second and third innings were more of the same at the Marlins dugout, basically no chance in hell. Too many people. Over at the Nationals dugout, Roger Bernadina recorded the 3rd out to end the second inning, and tossed it into the crowd in LF.
In the bottom of the 3rd inning at the Nationals dugout, Omar Infante grounded out 5-3, to end the 3rd, and 1st baseman Chris Marrero wound up with the ball. I knew I had a decent shot with him, because 2 weeks earlier at a Mets game, he unsuccessfully attempted to toss me a third out ball. I was again sitting on the home plate end of the dugout, and knew I’d have to work a little harder than normal to get Marrero’s attention. He headed towards the dugout, and fortunately for me, he strayed towards my end. He received the infield warm-up ball from Trent Jewett, and had the third out ball in his bare hand. He noticed me, and lofted the ball in my direction. I was standing in the front row, and realized at the last second this ball was high. Really high. But all I knew was I needed THIS ball. THIS was my chance, and I could NOT screw it up. So I lept, leaning backwards, and bless my glove, and every inch of my height plus my vertical, that I was able to snow-cone the ball with my glove.
And there it was. I had a Marlins final game commemorative ball. And here it is:
And a view of the logo:
No, it’s not pretty, but I own one. And then, as my friend Greg Barasch pointed out, I was the ONLY person in the world of ballhawks to get one of these balls. The ONLY one!!! What a rare commodity! No other ballhawk can say they own a Marlins final game commemorative ball. Sure, there are other people with this ball (though not many), but none that it means as much to as it means to me. I could now relax.
I went up to the club level in an attempt to snag the final HR at this stadium. I put my money on Mike Stanton, but he left me high and dry. No one actually homered in this game. I tried for an umpire ball after the game, but they went to a different entrance than they usually go to. So that would be it for me. I got four balls at this game, including a Marlins Final Game Commemorative ball.
After the game, there were post-game ceremonies, honoring former Marlins. I managed to get a t-shirt tossed to me by Alex Fernandez, and then by Preston Wilson. Also, Antonio Alfonseca and his 6 fingers on each hand were there. I have pictures to share, but I currently have no way to upload them, so they shall follow later.
What a game!
Citi Field/Yankee Stadium/Citi Field?!? That’s right! 3 games, 1 day, 2 stadiums! The Mets hosted the Phillies at 1pm, the Yankees hosted the Red Sox at 4pm, and the Mets again hosted the Phillies at 7pm to conclude a day/night doubleheader. You know where I was? At all 3 games!!!
I arrived at Citi Field later than usual, because I knew I had a long day ahead of me and didn’t want to be too tired. Normally, the stadium opens 2 hours before the scheduled first pitch, or in this case, 11:10am. I instead arrived around 11:45am. I knew I was putting my streak of 19 consecutive games with a ball on the line on this day, but I felt it was worth it. It was just going to be a fun-filled, jam-packed day of baseball.
I decided I wanted to get a picture of proof at my first game, and here is what I have:
As you can see, the lineups hadn’t even been announced yet, and it was 11:58am. There wasn’t much action on the field. I hung out on the 3rd base side, and tried to get a ball from a few Phillies as they warmed up, but got denied multiple times, including an open and outright denial by Shane Victorino. I’ve always strongly disliked him, and he’s only adding fuel to the fire.
As the game was about to get underway, this was my view:
That’s right (David Wright), first row ON the dugout, baby!
And there he is! I’ve gotten in good standing with an unlikely source, at Citi Field. A certain guard has recently been exceptionally nice to me, to the point you could nearly call us friends. Well, he hooked it up, and let me sit here for the whole game. And what a game it was!
The man pictured above is none other than R.A. Dickey. In this game, he took a no-hitter into the 7th, going 6 1/3 before it was finally broken up. He pitched a great game that the Mets ultimately won 2-1. The difference in the game was a pinch-hit 8th inning home run by Valentino Pascucci. He hadn’t been in the majors since the MONTREAL EXPOS!!! 2004 was his last big league action!!! This was a big-time moment for him!
The game ended in a timely fashion, and that allowed me to bust my butt outta there, and rush to Yankee Stadium. I left Citi Field at 3:48pm, got to my car at 3:56pm, and at 4:14pm I was parked at Yankee Stadium. I have a series of texts with a Mets employee documenting this!
So now, since tickets were so expensive on stubhub, I had to go find a ticket to get into Yankee Stadium. And fortunately for me, I found someone who had an extra ticket, a $250 seat mind you on the field level, behind the Yankees dugout, and I convinced him not to waste it, and to sell it to me for $20. A win for everyone!
By the time I got in to the stadium, it was the top of the 2nd inning. So thus far, I’d missed just 1 inning of baseball. Well, I arrived just in time to see the Yankees put up 6 runs in the 2nd against Jon Lester, and nearly run him from the game. Well, it didn’t take much more than that, because an inning later, and 2 more runs on the board for the Yankees, Lester was gone. Freddy Garcia pitched himself into a starting spot on the playoff roster, going 6 innings and not allowing a run, especially after Bartolo Colon allowed 7 runs in 3 innings just two days earlier.
The Yankees went on to dominate the Red Sox with a 9-1 victory. This game took exactly 3 hours, and by the time I got out of the stadium, I ran into a bunch of traffic, and it took me longer than I hoped to get back to Queens.
I arrived back at Citi Field sometime after 8pm, and quickly purchased a ticket for the game. I arrived in the stadium just as the 3rd inning ended. The Mets had a 5-3 lead, but I didn’t know how it happened. Well, by the time I sat down for this game, I was so tired, I just sat back and watched without a care in the world. The Mets went on to win the game 6-3, and sweep the doubleheader from the Phillies. I’m fairly certain the Mets hadn’t swept a first place team in a doubleheader since the Clinton administration.
Sadly, I forgot to get any further pictures/proof of myself at the actual games, but I took these pictures instead:
This first one above is me, at the night game at Citi Field, holding tickets to all 3 games. The picture below shows the tickets to each game:
All in all, I got to witness 23 innings of live baseball; watch 3 different games that count in the MLB standings, and it was all done in 2 different stadiums. Sometimes, I feel lucky to live in a city with 2 different baseball teams.
This, was a record-setting day for me. It was as if I stepped in dog poop, while a bird pooped on me. EVERYTHING went my way!
My day began with winning obscenely cheap tickets on ebay – $5 for a pair (I had to even out after the previous day’s $60 splurge). I went to the stadium around 4:10pm to pick up my tickets, then made my way into the museum for the early batting practice tour. When I entered into the museum, there was a man who looked right at me, and waved me over. I ignored his gesture at first, as I assumed he was gesturing towards someone else. I tend to ignore when people I don’t know, or know well, gesture towards me, because I simply assume they are not talking to me, and I was once very, VERY embarrassed when I assumed someone was talking to me. Anyhow, he then said something to me, and I asked “Are you talking to me?” I was quite confused because I didn’t know anybody in Cincinnati. But then, as I walked over, I saw he was with another person, Mike Sachs, who had just contacted me via twitter a couple of days earlier. You can see Mike’s blog here, and you can see his blog entry about THIS GAME here. The man, turned out to be Rocco Sinisi. They introduced themselves to me, and we started talking. They basically told me they’d take me around, and show me the ropes, and boy, did they EVER! But more on that later.
I hadn’t yet bought my BP tour ticket, and I really didn’t feel like paying another $15 to do this tour again, so I nearly committed to passing on it. But then, I decided not to give up so easily. And I remembered I’m from New York. We’re good at talking our way into things. And sure enough, 2 minutes later, I talked my way into the BP tour. So I just turned what should be a $30 day (minimum, so far) into a $5 day.
As we entered into the stadium, I immediately found my first ball of the day. Rocco and Mike were nice enough to let me choose where I wanted to go and stand. It was sitting in the bleachers in straight away right field. Ball #2 was a home run that was hit into the stands, that was hit near Rocco, but he had his head down, and didn’t notice it, so I ran past him to where it was hit, and scooped it up.
My 3rd ball of the day was a homer that was hit into the seats just behind me in the right field bleachers. I asked an usher if there was a kid he wanted me to give it to, and he chose one, so I gave that ball away. My next ball was a homer I caught on the fly. So far, I had 4 balls because of the BP tour. Thank god I can talk my way into things.
The stadium had now opened for season ticket holders, and the Reds were just about finished with their batting practice, when a ball rolled to the wall and was retrieved by Reds reliever Bill Bray. As he walked over to get it, I politely asked him for the ball, and he smiled and said “I’ve seen you get a few out here already.” I didn’t deny it, and said “You’re right, I have. But if you give me the ball, I’ll give it away to anyone you choose.” Still with a smile on his face, he looked around and saw two teenaged girls. He tossed me the ball, nodded in their direction, and said “Give it to them.” As he tossed me the ball, I heard one of them say “awww” in disappointment that they did not get the ball. But as I started to walk towards them, one of them said “No way!” When I did in fact give the ball to them, they were super excited, and shocked. They couldn’t believe it, and thanked me immensely. I then turned towards Bill, thanked him, and he gave me a wave.
My 6th ball of the day came mere moments later. The Mets were now on the field, and I had switched into my Mets gear, and Scott Hairston ran out to the warning track in RF to retrieve 3 balls. First, he went over to the teenage girls, and they asked him for a ball, and he saw one of them had one, and they explained that they got only one ball, because I gave it to them, and pointed at me. I walked over, and told him that in fact only one of them had a ball. He gladly gave the other girl a ball. He then gave the 2nd ball to a young boy with his dad. I then asked him for the third and final ball he had, and explained that his brother, Jerry Hairston Jr. had once given me a ball, and I’d really like a ball from Scott as well, so I could put the two together. He then tossed me the ball. What a great guy!!!
(The photo is not from this game, I just deemed Scott deserving of a photo!)
5:40pm quickly came around, and it was time for the rest of the stadium to open. I raced out to left field and quickly retrieved two baseball that were sitting around. I may have jumped over a railing for one, and be threatened to be kicked out of the stadium, but that’s neither here nor there.
My 9th ball of the day came via a toss-up from D.J. Carrasco. I had noticed something earlier in the day about Carrasco earlier in the day, and was also aware of the fact I had never gotten a toss-up from him. So my request went something like “D.J., may I have a ball, PLEASE?” He looked at me, smiled, and tossed it right to me.
At this point, I knew I had tied my own personal record of 9, and the Mets had just began BP, so I knew I had a good chance at breaking my own record, and obtaining double-digits. Sure enough, 5 minutes later, I get my 10th ball of the day from Chris Capuano, with another polite request. I then raced back to right field, as a new group of hitters came to bat, and as soon as I got there, I raced down the steps, because I saw Manny Acosta had a ball. I politely shouted to him, and he turned and tossed me my 11th ball of the day. I gave that ball away to a teenaged girl who was standing by, watching. She seemed like she wanted to ask, but didn’t know how to.
I moved a few sections over towards the foul pole to talk to Mike, and in comes a homer, headed right to me. I caught that, my 12th ball, on the fly. That was the end of batting practice. Afterwards, me, Mike and Rocco got a photo together:
You can see the Mets towel on my shoulder, because it was one of the hottest days I’ve ever experienced in my life. In fact, that whole period of about 8 days, beginning with Tuesday, July 19th in Minnesota, ending with this game in Cincinnati, were the hottest days I’ve ever endured. I was constantly feeling heat exhaustion, and that towel did not leave my side. Needless to say, it was disgusting.
Well, as for the game itself, the Mets won their 3rd straight against Cincinnati. I sat near the Mets (3rd base) dugout, and had 2 more opportunities for balls- A Jason Bay 3rd out toss-up to ME, the ONLY Mets fan around, in the 1st inning, but a guy who was about 8 feet tall reached up in front of me. And at the end of the game, the final out ball from Mike Pelfrey’s complete game shutout. The ball was knocked away by someone pushing into me. Disappointing, but I was far from upset. I ended the game with 12 balls!!! My all-time record!!!
Now, it was off to Detroit!