May 27, 2012
My wife and I paid to go to early batting practice like we always do, and the Reds portion of B.P that day was pathetic! There was hardly anyone there on a Friday too, and I was getting shutout. The Cincinnati Reds rarely hit any home run balls up in the stands during batting practice. Even an older woman had gotten more balls than me. I got chewed out by Reds pitcher Sam LeCure for being greedy, because he see's me there every day and knows that I get a lot of baseballs, and he said that I would get a ball before the day was out...yeah, by the Nationals, not by my own team! Anyway, a security guard tossed me a ball willingly, so I wouldn't get shut out.
Well, I ran for some easter eggs, and beat all the kids to the corner, and scooped up 4 eggs. Calm down, I didn't get them all, the kids got some too. The funny thing about the day was that B.P. went from the worst B.P. to the best B.P. in about 10 seconds as the Washington Nationals took the field. The problem was, that the fans were now pouring into the stands, and catching a B.P. home run ball was almost impossible. I got the Nationals to toss up some balls, and a ball off the batter's eye. My wife and I went to go watch the starting pitcher's long toss session & bullpen side session before the start of the game. I got Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos to toss me his warm up ball after long toss to stretch his arm.
After bullpen, the ball park was almost to full seating capacity (it was almost a sell out that day, and it was also Fireworks Friday), so I told my wife let's go to the outfield to see if we could catch a home run ball since Mike Leake was pitching and the Nats' were hitting home runs left & right during B.P.. So we found two seats in center field and plopped down there. The two seats I picked was a known home run ball hot spot! Two weeks earlier, I had watched two home run balls land in the same exact seats there in consecutive days during a game. Just as the game got started, Mike Leake was off to a bad start, he had put a man on base, and then Roger Bernadina came up to bat and launched a "rocket-shot" to center field. Of course I had my glove on and was in full snagging mode when my wife said, "Rocco the ball's coming right towards us," and I said," I know!"
I then sprang into action, and started to guage exactly where the ball was going to land. As luck would have it, I moved pass my wife to the left (I was sitting on the aisle to her right), and nobody was sitting in the few seats to her left, and the ball was coming right there! This is also my B.P. ball hawking hot spot that I stand at everyday to shag baseballs, so I know the area like the back of my hand! The moment was surreal, and it was right after B.P. in the 1st inning, so it still felt like B.P. to me. As the ball was zooming in, I got into position, and was waiting for it to smack the pocket of my glove, when the two idiots in the row in front of me also attempted to try and snag the ball. The one to the left was trying to use his hat, and the one off to my right jumped up with his bare hands, but the ball found the leather of my glove, and I made the catch, until the guy on my right pulled down on the thumb of my glove and knocked the ball out of my glove! I looked into my glove to see if the ball was still there, when in a split second, I felt the ball hit my foot, and roll towards my wife. We both jumped on the ball, like WWII Marines jumping on a Japanese hand grenade on Iwo Jima trying to save their Marine buddies!!! Then, we both had our hands on the ball, and in my crazed state to make sure I got my ball back, I realized it was my wife that had control of the ball. I let her grab it for me, so I wouldn't drag her knuckles on the pavement, and then she threw it into my glove. My wife needs to get an assist on the snagging of the baseball, as it was a "Team Sinisi" effort.
After I had the ball in my possession, I did the classic victory celebration by raising the ball in the air for the world to see (I didn't do the celebration last year with my foul ball). Then all the fans started yelling at me to throw it back! I was so excited as a ball hawk to catch a home run ball, that It didn't dawn on me that this was a Nats ball, and that all the fans were pissed off that Leake had just given up a 2 run jack! I taunted them by throwing the ball in the air and catching it again, and said...are you all crazy...this is a game home run ball! Then I saw 37,000 pairs of eyes looking at me angrily, so I dug out the "dummy-ball" (a little league ball) that I carry in my backpack for just this occasion, and threw it on the field to make them all happy! The guy that tried to catch the ball with his hat was very upset that I kept the gamer, and threw a dummy ball back and started crap with me about it, but some fans thought that that was the coolest thing they ever saw...they said; wow, you kept the real ball, good for you! I don't have any pictures of the event, because my wife's camera ran out of battery power (of course). Well I guess Sam LeCure was right, I was going to get a ball before the end of the day...the best ball of the day, a 2 run jack!
Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.