April 25, 2011
It's been about a season and a half now since I've been ball hawking. I started out just trying to catch baseballs at batting practice at Camden Yards, before going to my seat to watch the game. As time went on and I began taking the lead of other ball hawks, I would occasionally go behind the home plate for a foul ball and out to the right field courtyard or left field to try and catch a home run ball.
This past Saturday evening with the New York Yankees in town, I joined two local ball hawks Jonesy67 (Avi) and Oriolesmagic (Zevi) running out to leftfield as the gates opened trying to catch a not too often Oriole and very often Yankee BP home run ball for our season ticket privilege of 30 minutes to the whole park. After about 10 minutes of BP and catching 2 balls apiece we noticed thousands of Yankee fans entering the stadium! :( (let the madness begin)
I don't believe we caught another ball the rest of BP. With game time approaching I was wondering where I was going to sit with a big crowd. Avi stated that he wanted to catch an Alex Rodriquez home run ball and was going to sit in left field. We found seats, a little further back than usual as the crowd filled most of the stands. As the game went on and the Yankees pulled away with a 6 to 3 lead with several home runs to right field, me and Avi moved to the end of the aisle back to back about 25 rows back.
As fate would have it, here comes AROD to bat in the top of the 8th with the bases loaded! Here's the pitch, and there it goes! On a line headed right towards us! Avi gets a great jump on the left side of the railing as I follow behind him on the right side about three rows down, two steps behind as the ball is landing. Avi is a step low and I'm right in line to catch the HR ball as a non-ball hawk comes out of nowhere in between us and tries to make a barehanded catch. The ball goes right off the palm of his hand, in front of my glove to a lucky Yankees fan (Danny Hinchman) in the picture with me behind the Yankee dugout after the game, two rows in front. Ooooooh . . . so close! To quote Avi, after I called him to see if he saw the replay, "I wanted to throw my computer out the window"!!!
Matt Hersl is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.