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!
So, now that I was settled in Cincinnati, I was actually able to make it to the game early for batting batting practice. The Reds museum offers a ticket to what they call a “BP tour.” Basically, they charge you $15 so you can get into the stadium at 4:30pm for batting practice, as opposed to 5:15pm for season ticket holders, or 5:40pm for everyone else. Is it worth it, you ask? Well, let’s see…
The first day I did this, when we entered into the stadium, there was no one on the field. The cages were set up, but no one was taking batting practice. And it wasn’t until about 4:50pm that players started to come onto the field to begin batting practice. The Reds weren’t hitting many balls into the stands, but finally when Jay Bruce was hitting with the second group of hitters, he lifted one just over my head, which I ran up the stairs to retrieve from a seat. But that was it.
I ran to RF when the rest of the stadium opened at 5:40pm, and found a ball in foul territory in LF down the line. Then, I decided to hang out in the LF bleachers, where I caught a HR on the fly from an unidentified Mets player, who was hitting in the 3rd and final group. At the conclusion of batting practice, as I was walking up the stairs, an older man, who was at the game with his grandson pulled me aside and asked me if I’d sell him the ball I caught, and how much I wanted for him. I told him that I wouldn’t be able to sell it to him, but instead, I gave it to his grandson. He was overwhelmingly grateful and shook my hand twice, and really couldn’t thank me enough.
I always love to give away balls, especially when it means so much more to other people, and they truly appreciate the kind gesture.
For the game itself, I decided to splurge on a ticket. I spent $60, which is the most I’ve ever spent on a ticket to a regular season game. I’ve gone to a few Yankees vs. Red Sox games in Fenway, and spent $50, but that was years before the age of stubhub. Nowadays, I rarely even spend $20 on a ticket. This is how close I was:
In the picture above, you can see I’m sitting on the railing, directly above Jose Reyes. In the picture below, you can see that I’m directly behind the camera crew, on the 3B side of home plate.
Well, the purchase of this seat paid dividends! In the top of the 4th, Justin Turner fouled a ball back, and in was retrieved by Carlos Beltran in the on-deck circle. He then tossed it right to me!! That was it for balls from the game, but my day wasn’t done yet.
In the picture above, you can see Terry Collins sitting on the top step. Well, I had a post game request for him. When the game ended, with the Mets victorious, I waited to see him come out of the dugout to step onto the field to shake hands with everyone. When he emerged from the dugout I shouted his name, and he looked at me. I asked for the lineup card. He looked at me confused, and sorta shrugged his shoulders. When he returned to the dugout, I was unsure what the result was going to be, but about 7 seconds later, he sought me out, and this was the result: