January 1, 2013
It's been another fun-filled year of ballhawking for the hundreds of ballhawks here on myGameBalls.com, and I continue to be amazed at the community we've all been able to create. Whenever someone posts a photo online of five or ten myGameBalls members hanging out at the ballpark together I'm reminded of how cool it is that the passion for snagging baseballs has brought together people from all walks of life.
The final count of balls snagged in 2012 was over 7,600, a truly remarkable number. But for me the really cool part isn't the number itself but what the number represents. Included in those 7,600 balls are rookie ballhawks snagging their first lifetime baseball, diehard fans getting a toss-up from their favorite player, fathers and sons bonding while chasing down baseballs, and seasoned ballhawks getting on TV while snagging a big game home run.
With the number of members continually growing, it's become impossible to try to list the significant individual accomplishments in my end-of-year column without leaving off lots and lots of people. So I won't even try, but I encourage you to take some time and browse the site, checking out the leaderboards, record pages, and individual profiles. You'll find lots of cool stuff and probably recognize quite a few of your "competitors."
From a collective standpoint, it was another great year statistically. We snagged 46 game home run balls, many of them hit by All-Star players, and also snagged 69 foul balls. Our grand total of 7,608 balls was the highest in our 4-year history. The top five stadiums were PNC Park (1,430), Citi Field (635), Yankee Stadium (589), Great American Ballpark (528), and Oriole Park at Camden Yards (474). In the second year of the myGameBalls.com Minor League site, 66 members combined to snag 1,574 balls.
In June myGameBalls.com sponsored the second annual BallhawkFest, this time at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. It was a great afternoon/evening and featured a home run derby, a meal at a local restaurant, and a fun time ballhawking at the game. In all 52 balls were snagged by the group. We also tried to organize a West coast version of BallhawkFest in L.A. but it never materialized (well technically the event materialized, the ballhawks just didn't!). Stay tuned in 2013 -- the third annual BallhawkFest is already in the works!
On a personal note, 2012 was an awesome year for me but a very challenging one in terms of running the website. In May my first child, a daughter, was born and I've really enjoyed spending time with her and discovering the joys of fatherhood. Prior to the birth I anticipated having slightly less time to work on myGameBalls.com, but after the birth reality set in very quickly and I discovered that I had almost NO time to work on the site. My normal routine of cranking out a few feature articles per week changed to about two or three articles per month. Thanks again to all the individuals who contributed to the site by writing columns, helping to organize BallhawkFest, and recruiting new members. In the coming years I'll probably need volunteers to help in a variety of ways so please contact me if you'd like to contribute.
I only made it out to a few games in person this year, but as usual I really enjoyed getting a chance to meet some of the members of the site in person. The highlight of year came when I visited Texas on my birthday and snagged a leadoff Jimmy Rollins home run ball (my first one ever) at Minute Maid Park. Check out the video if you need some pointers on how to dive headfirst over two rows of seats!
I'm looking forward to another great year in 2013. Snag early and snag often!
Alan Schuster is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.