July 7, 2014
I don't know about you, but is there anything more annoying than railings, steps, seats, and cup holders as a Ballhawk? My wife and I had just recently taken a quick road trip to Cleveland, and I thought to myself: yes, Cleveland doesn't have any railings, I should be able to move around no problem...wrong! I get into the park, I run down to the "Hot Spot" Erik Jabs told me that he goes to, and I get "Black-Gold" (my Mizuno baseball glove) ready to go...the first catchable ball rockets in, I go tearing after it along with Rick Gold and other ballhawks that day, and I hit a cup holder that almost tore my knee cap off...man I was in pain! I just started my BP, and I was already gimping around! To make matters worst, a middle aged female ballhawk starts to crack on me by saying..."watch out for those cup holders", I said yeah, I know! I said to myself...I drove all this way just to get hurt? Hell No! So, I fixed the problem.
All this season, it seems like I have been beating my legs up like crazy! I tripped in Tampa, and did a number on my knee. Cleveland's cup holders kicked my butt. I have been smashing my kees into the railings at Great American Ball Park (G.A.B.P.) for a long time now, but this year it seems worst. It seems as we get more and more ballhawks in the sport (yes, it's a sport), the younger guys want to challenge the older guys (especially me), and I have to run around even harder to snag a baseball, and I'm banging into everything!
I recently jumped over a seat at GABP, and was going for a ball rolling down the row of seats, and I had to dive on the ball to snag it before the posse of kids beat me to it. Needless to say, I scraped my knees all up. Two years ago, I tripped running for "Easter Eggs" as soon as I got into the park to beat everybody to the corner of the Batters Eye; a known hot spot for "eggs" at GABP, and I tripped over the the little part of the step that comes up a little bit more on the regular step as you come up or down the aisle. This little step launched me into the air, and I landed on my left knee, and it took a huge chunk of skin out of my knee cap, that took six months to heal! I still have a huge scar there. To tell you the truth, I'm worried about braking a knee cap at this point.
Recently, I had just made a trip to the doctor's office for my knee that has been hurting me here lately, and the doctor told me that I had a two to three percent degrade in my right knee...wonderful! So, I had to do something about it. I thought to myself how do you protect your knees...KNEE PADS... DUH?! I used to take Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), and I wore knee pads on the mat. I had been thinking about it for awhile, but didn't want to look like a "goofball", but I went ahead the other day and tried it out, and guess what, they worked great! No more smacking into the rails. I went after a ball in the same manner as the one I jumped over the seat for, and I landed on my knee pads, and I didn't feel the concrete below me at all...awesome!
All you have to do to as a ball hawk is give up a little style for functionality, and you will feel a whole lot better. By the way, they don't look that bad, because my cargo shorts cover half of them (basketball shorts should do the same). I was even considering taking my ballhawking protection a step further, and thinking about implementing the Nike Pro-Combat football padding underwear they sell at Dick's Sporting Goods to protect my thigh and hip areas, but I think it might be too hot during the summer months to wear this.
It was amazing how much difference a $5.00 "Old School" pair of knee pads could make in my ballhawking performance. I feel that I can now be more aggressive again, and enjoy ballhawking somewhat pain free, and not worry about smacking into everything at the ballpark! I figured, the players wear their elbow pads when they are up to bat, why can't I wear my knee pads when I'm "hawking"? At my age, I have to protect myself from injury. I just wanted to share something with my fellow ballhawks that works for me. I'll now know who all the ballhawks are when I see them in knee pads out at BP...LOL. So, check them out. Drop me some comments, tell me what you think? I'm curious to know. As always...go have a ball! I will!
Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.