November 9, 2013
I would like to start by stating that my ideas have been brought to light by the articles "BallHawk of the year 1 & 2" and the response to those columns. Also, I will address two separate issues. First, this whole "awards" situation is frustrating. I'm not one who usually feels the need to voice (write) my opinion because that's all it is, and everyone has one. But, after reading the comments and responses I feel as if the BallHawk community is losing insight on the big picture, and I have to ask the questions, what are the motives for most ballhawks? Why do we strap on our gloves in the first place?
The obvious answer should be the ball, but for some it seems to be attention, not the ball itself. There seems to be a point where the ball lost value and ballhawks cherish the notoriety more, at this point aren't we now "Attention Hawks"? This may be easy for me to say as I'm still in my BallHawk infancy. I have not yet snagged hundreds of balls therefore it's easy for me to be a fiend for the ball, but I can't help but notice a rapidly growing redundancy in our BallHawk system.
When I caught my first ball I went to an Orioles game with my family and took my glove with the hopes that a ball would come in my direction. It was the second inning and Hector Santiago from the Rockies pitched a Brian Roberts foul ball that popped up over third base line, I tracked the ball about 6 or 7 seats to my right. The ball bounced on the second deck and then came down in my glove on field level. I immediately raised my arms in victory and screamed liked a mad man "whoo, whoo". The entire stadium roared, I then gave the ball to my son which made the place get even louder. I was in ecstasy after that.
This is what attracts me to the art, not the attention from the crowd but rather the adrenaline that I experienced. Then, I decided to go to games with the intent to put myself in position to get balls. I was a true hawk at this point. On the last regular season game of 2013 I was camping on the flag court in a game against the Red Sox. There were myself and three well known Baltimore ballhawks who were obviously coordinating a strategy to monopolize the flag court. I knew if a ball come up there it would be me against them. It was the second inning and Quentin Berry of the Red Sox gets ahold of a Chris Tillman pitch, the rest can be seen here:
I didn't get that ball, but what I did get was the adrenaline from putting myself in a position to make a play on the ball. I was the guy wearing the white hat who made a jump for the ball. (You can imagine how long my off season will be thinking about what could have been.) The persistence in me will strive to develop my skills to make sure my next opportunity will prevail the competition. Which brings me to my next point.
Is competition good for the art of Ballhawking? Yes and no. Of course competition is good for our character as It forces us to work hard and be methodical in our strategy. But what about the "attention hawks"? For the record there is no doubt in my mind that the three hawks on the flag court are true hawks, they get the big picture. I talked to all of them after the home run and they where very respectful, good competition. The attention they receive is due to their accomplishments and very well thought out strategy to snag anything that comes near them.
They put on their gloves and go to the ballpark with the "ball" as priority. My intention is to make the community aware of the downfall of the guys who come to the park in hopes to boost media opportunities and don't apply proper etiquette to the fact that most people are there to watch their favorite team win not some person run all over the stadium for their own personal agenda. The more we can fly under the radar and draw less negativity to our cause the better off we all our. In fact, I think we can benefit from being modest as we should be careful not to give a false image of greed and incoherence of the BallHawk community.
I think we should all help preserve the future of Ballhawking by seeing the big picture for the art itself and not our personal agendas. Let's try to turn our image to something more positive than how we are currently perceived, and make an effort to coexist with the BallHawk community as well as the entire baseball community. After all, if we can't coexist with ourselves how can we expect the outsiders to coexist with us?
Chris Scheufele is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.