9/6/11- Don’t forget your umbrella… and your glove!
September 6th, 2011
New York Yankees
Game start time- *7:05pm (more on this in a little bit)
First just let me say sorry for the lack of photos because I didn’t want to bring my camera in this godforsaken weather and my camera phone wasn’t cooperating with me.
Now right from the start… I didn’t want to go to this game. I had absolutely no intentions of going to this game. Why? Well for obvious reasons.One, being that it’s the Baltimore Orioles and (no offense to any Orioles fans reading this) they are just dreadful to watch. Two, being that I have school the next day and I wanted to use the entire day to get some things together and prepare myself for my final year of college (B-Cliffe 12’ sonn!). Three, I really had no choice but to go to the game because since I’m a full-season ticket holder and paid face value for these tickets, I would of wasted $80 on this game and I couldn’t find anyone to buy these damn tickets. And four you may ask…
“Oh the weather outside is frightful”.
Seriously, rain ALL DAY LONG. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Yankee baseball more than anyone I know and I try to go to as many games as I can but sitting in the rain all evening long isn’t exactly what I look forward to. But with that being said, this game had the possibility of being a special one. The only thing that had me fired up to go was that no one was going to be crazy enough to be in attendance tonight and whatever people did show up were not going to show up in great numbers. My guess was around 2,000 people would be at the game tonight. So with my assumption that only a handful of people would be in attendance, this is the perfect game to attend to try and get my first foul ball at new Yankee Stadium and/or to catch my first game Home Run. So let’s summarize real quick shall we.
- The Orioles are in town
- Barely any people are going to show up
- The forecast looks absolutely miserable
- Prime opportunity for a Foul Ball/Homerun
- It’s going to rain ALL NIGHT LONG
Lets continue, shall we?
After several failed attempts to try and get someone to buy the tickets off of me I decided to just try and get someone to come with me. Again, after several failed attempts to try and find someone to go with I finally got my good buddy Kyle to tag along and make the bold journey to the Stadium. Since batting practice was obviously not going to happen, we decided to wait till 5:30 to leave in case they called the game off and I didn’t waste any gas or my e-z pass. Sure enough 5:30 rolls around and the game is still on. So we’re off and things aren’t looking too good. Rain is coming down with no stop in site. We had the radio on listening for any updates on whether or not the game was to be played. From what we were hearing, the rain had no intentions of stopping, the chances of them actually playing is slim to none, and to top it off we were running late! My God we’re going to be late and miss the first pitch. I can’t believe it! Ehhhh, not quite. We parked a couple of blocks away from the Stadium and as we were walking towards it, we see a sea of cars driving and a bunch of people walking away. We both assumed that they must of called the game off but when we got to the gates, the joint was open.
So we went in and walked towards the field to see hundreds of people crowded around the concourse standing around, eating, drinking, just plain out hanging around. So Kyle and I did the same. We walked around the Stadium once, I said hello to a couple of the “very few” nice security guards, and we went into Monument Park. Kyle had never been inside Monument Park so this was a good time to knock this off the list of “things to do while we wait” and I haven’t been in Monument Park in over a year so I haven’t had the chance to see the completely oversized plaque for George Steinbrenner. Don’t’ get me wrong, the man deserves to be honored for all that he’s done in the organization but to make a plaque THAT big for him… come on now. He makes Ed Barrows and Jacob Ruppert look like termites compared to their plaques. Ruppert brought in a guy named George Herman Ruth. Steinbrenner brought in Reggie… and he’s got a bigger plaque than him? I think you get the picture (and don’t try and get on me about all the great things Steinbrenner did because I’m well aware of how generous he was). Anyway, so we exited Monument Park and found our way behind the 3rd base dugout to hangout and eat. Kyle bought this gigantic bucket of wings and fries for $20 so that kept us occupied for a while.
After munching down and digesting (in the rain) we decided to take another “stroll around the Park” as I kept telling Kyle. So we went all the way around the Stadium into the upper deck to the very last corner seat in Left Field and then all the way around to Right Field and went to the very last corner seat up there. That was something I always wanted to do but never had the opportunity to soooo00 yup. Oh yea, while we were up there we had a little fun
So after the shenanigans we walked back down to the field level. My friend Kristina was at the game (probably the only other person I know who is crazy/dedicated enough to come) so we went down into section 104 to hang out with her, her father, and sister. Around 10:30ish the PA announcer Paul Olden came on and announced that the game was indeed going to be played tonight and start time would be shortly after 11pm! Well there ya have it. Now we have to stay and watch this game because it would make no sense to wait around for 4 hours and for nothing. So the grounds crew came out and began taking the tarp off and slowly but surely, players began emerging from the dugouts and began to stretch and throw. Kyle and I decided that we would both go for the starting pitchers warm-up balls so Kyle headed over to the lf bleachers to hang out above the Orioles bullpen and I stayed in the rf bleachers above the Yanks bullpen. Tommy Hunter was starting for the Orioles and Phil Hughes was on the bump for the Yankees. Both pitchers are having sub par years so tonight should be an interesting match up. Kyle eventually got Tommy Hunter’s warm-up ball tossed to him I believe by pitching coach, Rick Adair and I walked away with jack squat, which is fine because any ball that wasn’t game used tonight I felt was a waste of time (no offense to Kyle).
So Kyle and I met back up and we decided to go and hang out behind the 1st base dugout for any possible foul balls or 3rd out toss-ups.
As you can see there was literally NO ONE inside the stadium. It was a ballhawks dream and personally I couldn’t have been more excited. I mean I’m watching my favorite team play at 11pm (on a school night hehe), it’s raining like hell, and there is no where near the 2,000 people in attendance that I had predicted. It was probably somewhere around 1,000 at most. What I’m getting at is two mains thing.
1) I can scream as loud as I want and not only will all the fans hear me throughout the Stadium but the players will hear me as well. Which I think is pretty cool.
2) Kyle and I have a ton of room to run around in case a foul ball or homerun was in our vicinity.
So after a 4 hour and 3 minute rain delay, the Yankees take the field and we are underway… at 11:08pm. So the first 2 innings go by and both 3rd out balls were tossed into the exclusive Legends seats and all of the foul balls were either hit into the seats behind home plate or into the main level above us. So it’s been a total let down so far and Kyle and I were thinking of moving. So we decided to move further down the right field line in case a righty lined one off that way. I had other plans though. My plan all along was to go for a home run ball because I’ve watched to many games this year on my TV when it’s raining at the Stadium and someone jacks one out and there is no one in sight to make the clean catch, let alone have a glove on. So I knew that tonight would be the perfect opportunity with no one in the outfield seats. Now before I left the game I was trying to decide where I wanted to camp out for any possible home runs and since both teams had right-handed pitchers on the mound, it was a no-brainer to hang out in right field, section 104 to be exact. So as Kyle got settled in his new seat, I told him I was going to hang out in sec.104 for any home runs. I made my move solely because I was tired of waiting for a foul ball and if any home run was hit into the stands and I wasn’t there to make a play on it I would never forgive myself. And plus the Yanks had 6 lefties in a row coming up.
So it’s the bottom of the 3rd inning and Eric Chavez leads off. Chavez eventually flies out to left field and that brings up Jorge Posada. Now before I go into detail of what happens next I just want to clear one thing up. People may not understand why it is such a big deal for me to catch a ball at a game or why I would even go out of my way to do so. Well to put it simply, I just love the thrill of being able to possibly become apart of history and having the chance to come home with something that a lot of people can say that they have never gotten. I got into “ballhawking” in 2008 and have caught 100’s of balls since; I have yet to catch an actual Home Run during the game. I’ve had many close encounters before and a lot attempts but they all ended up in the hands of other fans. Each time I had the opportunity to catch a game Home Run before I either messed it up by getting a little too excited and ran myself out of position or got blocked by other fans and couldn’t really move around to much. But like I told all of my friend who were at those games with me:
“ it’s ok, I know it’s going to eventually happen and my 1st game Home Run is going to be a special one. There will be plenty more games for me to have a shot at it again ”.
So with the veteran Posada who I grew up watching and has been having a tough time hitting this year stepped up to the plate, things were about change for the better for both Posada and I.
I positioned myself in section 104 row 15 and I’m in the aisle seat closest to section 105. I knew that if anything were hit near me I’d have a great chance at it considering there was about 15 fans in my section and only another handful in the sections next me. The only thing that were to stop me from getting a Home Run ball would be me misplaying the ball or if it lands in some empty seats and takes a wacky bounce. Basically, I had the entire right field seats to myself and if missed anything that came my way I didn’t deserve a game Home Run ball. So let’s get to it shall we?
Tommy Hunter throws a 0-1 fastball middle-in to Posada and he gets an excellent piece of wood on it.Once he connected I immediately sprung out of my seat and raced over to my right. (You can click the photos to see a clearer version)
I located the ball at its highest peak and saw that it was coming right to me! This is when things get a little blurry and the tunnel vision kind of sets in. I don’t see anyone around me, I don’t hear anything around me, all I see is the ball coming straight towards me. As the ball was descending over the wall I quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be an easy play. Not because of the couple of people around me but due to the ball was falling a little short and I wouldn’t be able to catch it anywhere above my chest. So as the ball was finally looking to hit its mark, I reached over the seats in front of me, stuck my glove up in front of me, and…POP!
I look in my glove just to make sure and there… it… is!!!
My first thought was “HOLY F***ING S**T, I DID IT! So I grabbed the ball out of my glove and did what I’ve been dubbing after watching the replay so many times, my best impression of Carlton Fisk after hitting his HR in the 75’ World Series.
I jumped up and down like a lunatic and ran towards the middle of the aisle in 104/105. The replay doesn’t show my full celebration but trust me when I tell you, besides the Yanks winning the World Series in 2009 I can’t remember me acting so wild at a Yankee game. I was dancing around, jumping on seats, waving my hands in the air, high fiving fans, the whole 9 yards. At one point as Posada was rounding the bases I pointed to him and yelled out loud “ THATA BOY JORGE!”. So I kissed the ball and looked back towards the field to see Posada reaching the dugout, getting high-fives from his teammates, and finally descending into the dugout. Then I remembered Kyle, oops. I looked over to where he was sitting and he was up out of his seat cheering so I knew he must of seen the catch.
You can see the video of Posada’s Home Run HERE
So after a couple of people congratulated me and wanted to see the ball I heard a familiar voice from above me. It was Kristina who was at the top of the aisle with her dad and sister. I ran up to them and they congratulated me for my catch. They told me that they were just about to leave but they stuck around just in time to see Posada hit the Home Run. So it was pretty cool that they were there to see the Home Run and there to congratulate me afterwards. We said our goodbyes and I made my way back towards Kyle. I kept on looking at the ball as I was walking back and I kept on shaking my head in disbelief. I still couldn’t believe that I had actually caught a game Home Run ball, off the bat of Jorge Posada no less!
My heart was still racing so fast and I felt like I had enough adrenaline in me to lift a car. So I walked down towards Kyle and flipped him he ball and he was pretty psyched up. He told me he saw me dancing around like a psychopath and asked me if I had caught it on the fly? I told him what happened and how I did in fact catch it on the fly. Also, for when I did catch my first game Home Run ball, it was very important to me that I would catch the ball on the fly. I always thought it’s a little cheesy to obtain a game Home Run ball after it bounced around some seats and you pick it off the ground. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to get the ball by any means necessary but for my first time, I just wanted to make a clean catch.
All right now I’m not going to bore you and myself for that matter by talking about the rest of the game. Basically Kyle and I just hung out in the bleachers for the remainder of the game. Kyle ended up getting 2 more balls from the bullpen giving him 3 for the night. I did however meet up with my buddy Ben, who also congratulated me on the catch. So throughout the game we were hanging out whenever he was in the area. Anyway, at 2:15am the game ended with Mariano Rivera getting J.J Hardy to ground out to him securing another Yankee victory and Rivera getting his 598th career save. So after the game I took a couple of more pictures where I had caught the ball and we finally began to make our way out of the Stadium. We get to the car at 2:29am and we make the drive back to North Bab. After watching a couple of replays of the Home Run and taking a shower I finally crawled into bed… at 5am! Can’t wait for my fist day of class in 5 hours!
So that ends my story of the insane/intense/rainy/long/stressful/night which ended with a Yankee victory, Rivera getting one save closer to yet another milestone, and achieving a milestone of my own. Catching my first ever Game Home Run on the fly.
p.s.- a lot of people may think that this is a cheap home run to catch and it was easy because there were no fans in attendance but last time I checked, I was one of the very few dedicated/crazy to actually brave the weather and stick it out for the game. So in return for being a loyal fan, I was able to get something I’ve always wanted. Hi haters!
Some Stats from the game
Career Homerun # – 274
Career Hit # – 1659
Career RBI # – 1061
47th career Homerun given up by Tommy Hunter
Posada’s Homerun was the 198th of the 2011 season for the Yankees
Mariano Rivera recorded his 598th career save trailing only Trevor Hoffman by 3 to tie the all-time saves record
*This is unofficial but I’m pretty sure that this is the latest or earliest not sure (as in time wise) save for Mariano Rivera 2:15am
HERE is the clip of when i called up to 1050 ESPN RADIO the following day to talk about my experience from the game.