May 23, 2011
Florida ballhawk Mike Calabro got the rare opportunity last week at Tropicana Field to stand just a few feet away from the players taking their cuts during batting practice. Standing on the field directly behind the batting cage, he got a first-hand look at how Major Leaguers prepare for the game ahead.
In the back of his mind, however, he knew that by not being in the bleachers during BP he would most likely come dangerously close to ending his streak of 47 consecutive games with at least one ball. Sure enough, when the ninth inning rolled around, Calabro still hadn't snagged a single baseball and he could feel his streak coming to an end.
Knowing that his last chance for a ball would most likely come after the game in the umpire's tunnel, he moved to the section behind home plate. But before the game's final out was recorded, Calabro got an unexpected opportunity to not only extend his streak, but to make a truly memorable snag. Russell Martin fouled a pitch straight back, and as it turned out Calabro was at the right place at exactly the right time.
"It hit off the press box and was coming back to my right about six feet," he said. "A few fans put their bare hands up and it hit off their hands and landed in their row which was one row behind me. I reached over into that row to grab the ball but all of the sudden it rolled down into my row under the fan sitting two seats away from me. I quickly got down on all fours and grabbed it next to his feet before he could grab it."
Ironically, the foul ball turned out to be his last possible chance to snag a ball. The very next pitch, Martin grounded out to end the game, and as the umpire left the field he ignored everyone asking for toss-ups.
The streak lives on, 48 consecutive games with at least one ball.