September 12, 2012
When you are at the ball park, do you ever find yourself watching the flight of every baseball hit during the game? Watching every pitch like it's life or death? Do you find yourself tuning out the rest of the world at the game in hopes that "Beast-Mode" goes yard or Tony Campana slaps a nice foul-cut your way into the stands? Do you watch what the Bat Boys or Girls do with all the foul balls? Do you find yourself watching all the base coaches & Umpires during the games more now that you're a ball hawk?
Being a ball hawk forces you to have to watch the action on the field, and not yak away with you buddy, family, or significant other. It also keeps you very involved in the game, even if the game is a pitchers duel, a blow out, or "Hit Fest" game (we like HIT FEST games!). For me, ball hawking intensifies the game! It helps spice up an otherwise potentially boring game. A side benefit of this is you never miss a great play or a possible historic play. Ball hawking keeps you safe through out the game, because you'll always be watching the ball or the batter, and will not be worried that a ball or bat will come into the stands and crack your "coconut". Ball hawking also keeps you out of trouble with your significant other in attendance...your eyes stay focused on the field, and not on the hot chicks walking up and down the aisles, so that you don't get a backhand to the head (adult/married ball hawks...you know what I mean)! Ball hawking also keeps you from being DRUNK in the park, and out of some potentially stupid situations. You can't ball hawk drunk in my humble opinion, unless you want to break an ankle.
Ball hawking will help you LOVE the game of baseball more too. You have to do a lot of pre-game preparation to be a good ball hawk. This prep, will help you understand the game better ( get Zack Hample's book: "Watching Baseball Smarter"), and helps you enjoy the game more. You will start to know all the players, their tendencies, like who hits home runs, foul balls down the line or off to the dugout areas, or who tosses up third out balls. You will start to get to know who the coaches, and the Umps are, so when you watch the games on TV, you will feel a deeper connection to the game. You will feel like you kind of know the players, coaches , and Umps, because you will have had some dealings with them in hopes of snagging a baseball.. After going to lots of games, you will start to see things that the average fan doesn't notice or see, like coaches positioning the players on the field from the dugout to be in better position to field a ball. You will start wearing the teams gear, and having a greater connection to your team and sport you love!
You will start to root more for certain players or teams that have tossed you balls in the past. This will give you a new found appreciation for the other teams in the league, and what they are all about. When you are watching the game and sitting in the stands, ball hawking will allow you to feel like part of the action. You will feel like one of the fielders waiting to snag a foul or home run ball. You will leave the realm of "schmo fan", and feel like one of the players! Having a baseball glove on my hand throughout the game, for me, brings me closer to the game in anticipation for a baseball to smack the pocket of my glove...I feel involved! Ball hawking will get you to start seeing a baseball game not as something to do for a few hours, but more like an all day event to participate in, with going to BP, then the game to attend, and maybe a fireworks show at the end, and then go out to eat with your buddies or female companion. Ball hawking will also give you a sense of what it takes to be a big league player. You will have to do some of the things the players do to be sucessful, like keep your gear up, stay in shape, take BP, etc. If you go to a lot of games, like the ball hawks that snag a lot of balls do, you will also start to feel "THE GRIND" of a baseball season, kind of like the players do. You will get your share of "bumps & bruises" like the players do, by running into the seats and guard rails chasing after hit balls. The season will start to wear you down, but just like the players, their prize at the end of it all is a nice big fat diamond ring, we'll have a nice big fat baseball collection!
I'm also a big fan of football too, and for me, baseball has surpassed football in terms of overall fan experience! Why is this, you ask? Well, when you're at a football game, you get to be a big "meat-head" by wearing your jersey, and getting to cheer/yell for 3 hours while you are watching the game, and/or drink your beer. I guess if you "tail-gate" it could add to your gameday experience, but you don't really get to interact with the players much at a football game as you do when you attend batting practice at a baseball game. You only get to interact with your buddies in the parking lot! For me, the thrill of BP and being able to actually come up with a souvenier (a baseball), interacting with the players, and still being able to yell/cheer for my baseball team for 3 hours or MORE (no time limit on baseball...yea..."extras"...as in innings!) is a bigger thrill. Also, think about it for a moment, when you are at BP you have a chance to CATCH a ball hit by a Major League Player! When you are at a football game, do you think that Tom Brady or Cam Newton is going to throw you a pass in the stands with the chance of keeping the actual football?! Plus, 162 vs.16..."come on"?!
I hope you find this article compelling as to why ball hawking is so FUN! Us ball hawks are misunderstood. It is not all about snagging every baseball on the planet, it's about bringing us closer to the game we love, and being PART of the game in our own way. Ball hawking is also about experiences...every ball we snag, has a story behind it. When it comes right down to it, everybody at the ball park is a ball hawk, if they admit it or not! I saw a middle-aged NUN with a baseball glove on her hand at the game the other day!!! As always, GO HAVE A BALL...I will!
Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.