May 29, 2014
We all love to head out to the ball park and snag some baseballs. We all love to have a day out with our buddies, and have a good time at the park; be it shagging balls, sitting in the sun, watching the cute girls, eating stadium food, etc., but what we don't always do is consider SAFE BALL HAWKING! I've been doing this for a few years now, and I can tell you that there are a lot of dangers at the park. I'm not trying to be a "buzz-kill", I just don't think the younger hawks think about it much.
As I get older, it HURTS to ball hawk more than ever. Most of us have had all types of injuries while chasing after a little white ball. I've had all kinds of ball hawking injuries, from being hit by the ball, being shoved into stadium seats, and your usual scrapes and bruises. I've had pulled hamstrings, bruised ribs, deep cuts, and so on. You just don't snag a lot of baseballs without some ups & downs. Other ball hawks like to see us get hurt, and wrestle with us, or tackle us down for a baseball. Believe it or not, most fans at the ball park like to see us get hurt; they can't stand "Ball-Hawks", and Dads of the younger kids want to kick our asses sometimes. Drunk fans can't stand us, because they know they don't stand a chance of snagging a baseball with us around, and want & threaten to do us harm, and the stadium steps & seats are not forgiving either!
I would like for all the ball hawks reading this to consider another danger...THE SUN!!! YES, THE SUN. I know we all love the sun, but it is NOT our friend. We usually shag balls late in the day, but the summer sun is still very powerful at that time of day, especially in the southern states. The heat of the sun can wear you down and sap your energy, and the heat of the sun can also dehydrate you as well. Dehydration is no joke either! In the Army, we were always worried about HEAT EXHAUSTION & HEAT STROKE when ever we trained in warm weather climates, and this stemmed from dehydration (look into this). You might also get a wicked sunburn if you stay out in the sun too long, and this will hurt the next day...trust me! And sunburn is what can cause the skin cancer. The sun can also be a danger to you if you are in left field at the end of the day shagging balls at most ball parks, because you can temporarily lose sight of the ball, and a screaming homer can bust your teeth out if you mis-play it! Most modern ball parks face south-east as per league rules, so that the batters are not looking into the sun when they bat, so LEFT FIELD is the "SUN FIELD"...just remember that.
How do we deal with this? My brother lives in Arizona, and he tells me that they have a word for dealing with the sun..."RIG UP"! They wear boonie caps, long sleeves, long pants, and bathe in sun screen in AZ. You can't allow yourself to be beat down by the sun. When I was in the Army, and I went to the Jungle Warfare School in Panama, they made us wear our sleeves DOWN in the jungle! They didn't want us to get cuts & bites from all the jungle brush, thorns, and insects. It was super hot & humid, and we hated it, but it protected us. Same thing with the sunscreen; I know we all hate it, because it takes time to put on, and because it is sticky, but we have to wear it! I know that during the summer months, it's no fun to worry about this stuff, but we have to protect ourselves in the modern times. The sun's UVB radiation rays are getting stronger than ever! So, "RIG-UP"!!!
I just had a trip to the Doctor's office because of a growth on my face due to the sun. It was no fun! I hate sunscreen, and I don't like to wear it, but I am going to "bathe" in it this summer! So, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE wear your SUNSCREEN this summer, and a ball cap, at a minimum! Take the time to drink some water while you are ball hawking, and get out of the sun if it gets too hot for you. Watch out for your ball hawking buddy, and keep tabs on him or her. Keep an eye on the "mini hawks", and make sure that they stay safe too! A baseball isn't worth your long term health for!!!
So, stay safe out there this summer, and take care of each other. REMEMBER...SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN, and DRINK WATER!!! As always, "have a ball"...I will!
Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.