May 2, 2011
On Thursday, April 28, I was able to snag a season high of ten with a buzzer-beating toss-up from home plate umpire Adrian Johnson. However, I only went home that night with six balls.
Did I lose some? Nope. Was I robbed? Not really, but I guess you could say that.
In the left-center field bleachers where I ended up snagging six of my ten on the night, I was attacked by a plague of people asking me for baseballs. It went from twelve year old kids, to older brothers asking for a ball for his younger brother for his birthday, to a mother asking for a ball for her other son after I just turned down her one son because I saw him earlier with a ball.
I found it hard to say no. I didn't want to give a lot of those balls away, but I still did it.
Don't get me wrong. I give balls away all the time. In fact, in section 90 at Camden Yards, the usher lets me down into his section at any time to use my ball retriever and ballhawk because he knows I give a lot of them away. That is, I give them away to people who don't ask.
However, what can I possibly say to someone who asks me for a ball?
One approach is, of course, just ignoring them. There are a few problems with this, though. The silent treatment only works on some people. On others, mostly kids, they tend to follow and keep pestering. For some, the silent treatment just makes them angry and confrontational; no one wants that.
There is also the lying approach, telling them that the ball they saw me catch was the only one I have on the day. But what if my pockets are bulging with other balls? What if they just saw me catch one before that? What if right when I say that, I catch another? That can't work.
I guess I could always tell the truth and just say no. It may sound rude, but, as Zack Hample puts it, "it's not nearly as rude as asking another fan for a baseball." I guess he has a point there.
Maybe I could put it something like:
"I'm sorry, but as a rule, I don't give balls to people who ask. Look at how I got the balls. Look at all those players on the field. Try asking them for one. It might be a little tough to catch one if they do throw it to you though; you aren't even wearing a glove. Oh, and his name isn't Mike, it's Jose."
I guess it could use some work.
Tim Anderson is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.