April 19, 2013
It is not often that we as a community have a truly sad moment. Let's face it: At the end of the day, what we do at the ballpark as ballhawks is a hobby that we can choose to quit. (With 5+ hour days at the ballpark, many do.) The worst things we go through usually consist of awful weather and militant, power-tripping ushers. Sadly, though, a little over week ago today, that was not the case. I will spare you all of the details, but Matt was hit by a car outside of Baltimore. If you wish to get more information on the full story surrounding his death, there are multiple Baltimore Sun article surrounding his death, and if you wish to find them, you will.
While he once told me that he didn't consider himself a ballhawk, what the ballhawk community lost in Matt Hersl last week was at the very least, one of Oriole Park at Camden Yards' best people as its allies. As a now-OPACY ballhawk Alex Kopp wrote about him: "Matt was a great guy! I know people may say that about anybody, but I really mean it. He would go out of his way to talk to you and make you feel at home at Camden Yards." Fellow OPACY regular, Tim Anderson echoed this sentiment in saying: "He knew the [ins] and outs of Camden Yards better than he probably knew anything else. If you needed a ticket to a game, he always had a ton. Heck, if you wanted food, he would sneak into the all you can eat sections and bring you down some hotdogs and ice cream."
Although Hersl expertise on a day-in-day-out basis came as a result of his undying love for the Orioles. Alex Kopp again praised Hersl in this regard: "And talk about an Orioles fan. He would manipulate his work schedule just to make it to as many games as possible. We're all huge baseball fans, but an Orioles fan doesn't come bigger than him." The webmaster of this site added that, "Matt's enthusiasm for life was contagious to everyone around him." As some of the first users of this site might remember, there was an article a while back about Hersl's first game home run snag, and a quote that comes directly from that article is as follows: "As a die-hard Orioles' fan, Hersl wasn't just celebrating the home run snag; he was also celebrating his team tying the game and setting the stage for their eventual 3-2 win in the 10th inning." As someone who has experienced a very similar experience (link: http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com/2012/09/21/91312-royals-at-twins-target-field/), it is something I can relate to and respect, and I think most baseball or even sports fans could say the same.
Schuster and Kopp also both marveled at Hersl's ability to deal with the people at the ballpark. Kopp remarked, "As ballhawks, we try to be nice to the people around us and I acknowledge this can be challenging at times, but Matt was a pro." Schuster expanded on this by saying, "[Hersl] had an uncanny ability to make friends with people from every age group and walk of life. It was truly amazing to watch...he could be racing against a 13 year old boy for a ball one minute and talking economics with a businessman the next."
For those of you who never met Matt, I feel sad for you. While I myself had limited encounters with him, those I did have spoke to his character. The following is a direct quotation from my blog entry that I wrote over a year ago:
"I met up with Matt Hersl to buy my tickets for these two games: 2 for me at $9 a piece and 2 for this game for my mom and step-dad at $25 a piece. If you're keeping track, that's $68 total. I offered Matt $70 since I like to give the people who buy me season tickets SOMEthing for their efforts (I actually should have offered him $80, since he saved me around $10-15 by buying the tickets as a season ticket holder) 99% of other people do what? "Oh thanks" and take the extra two dollars, and that's if they buy the tickets for you in the first place. What did Matt do? He gave me the $10 bill back, and actually took an $8 hit for buying me a ticket. Not only this, but he was just generally nice to me all day."
And if for whatever reason you can't relate to any of these things that Matt brought to the OPACY community, Matt also is part of the reason you read this where you do it. Alan Schuster wrote, "I was always grateful to Matt for helping me to get myGameBalls.com off the ground. When I first met him I had 30 or 40 members on the site, and in the weeks that followed Matt was telling just about everyone he came across about my website. Membership to the site probably doubled or tripled within a month of Matt getting on board."
All in all, Matt was truly a great person whose presence will be missed by many people just in the ballhawking and Oriole Park at Camden Yards community. He will be remembered for many things: snagging baseballs, giving them away, and bringing down food for people after batting practice, but really he was so much more.
Mateo Fischer is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.