March 11, 2010
As I've stated in my columns several times, I'm not really a ballhawk. Maybe I just say that to make excuses for my embarrassing pathetic snagging totals, but it's certainly true that my level of commitment to ballhawking doesn't come close to most of the people on this website.
But the thing is, there's really not many other things that give me as much enjoyment as attending a batting practice and trying to chase down home run balls. For me it ranks right up there with playing a round of golf at a really nice golf course.
So why don't I put more effort into it? It's my website after all, so shouldn't I be trying to at least place higher than 70th in the lifetime standings?
It's true that because of where I live and other considerations I only attend 5 or 6 games a year, but still, if I went all out I'd probably be able to average 3 or 4 balls per game and finish the year with 20 or so. So what's the real thing preventing me from stepping up my game?
The answer? My friends and family. I realize I'm throwing them under the bus, but the truth is that I rarely attend a game with someone who is even remotely interested in snagging BP balls.
Most of the time, asking if we can show up at 4:30 for a 7:30 game would seem so insane to them that I don't even bother to ask. For my wife especially, it's just not going to happen. 6:30 is about the best I can do.
I take a road trip with some guys every year and we usually show up early enough to catch the last 20 or 30 minutes of BP, but for the group it's not really a priority. I've convinced my parents to go to BP with me a few times, but every time I've felt guilty for making them sit in boredom for 3 hours. With pretty much everybody else I've gone to games with, BP was simply out of the question.
Not to mention when I actually do arrive for a game a couple hours early with a group of people, it's often difficult to convince them to head out to the bleachers. Why go out in the hot sun when you can explore the souvenir store or eat a burger in the shaded picnic area?
And then of course there's the glove. I'll admit it, depending upon who I'm attending the game with it's often easier to leave the glove at home than to be mocked incessantly for bringing it.
So is there a solution for a wanna-be ballhawk? Probably not. Go to games by myself? I live 3 hours from the closest stadium so I don't really have the desire to do that. Show up early by myself and tell the others to meet me there later? If we're staying at a hotel right near the stadium it'll work, but if there's a decent drive it seems unreasonable to take separate cars.
I'm interested to know how other ballhawks deal with this, especially the ones who average at least 4 or 5 balls per game. If a co-worker who is only moderately interested in baseball asks you to go to a game, do you turn him down knowing that he won't want to ballhawk with you? Do you insist that he show up early and hang out with you in the bleachers?
Or what do you do if you show up early with a group of people and they want to get a table at the stadium restaurant? Do you ditch them and head out to BP?
Do you compromise with non-ballhawks and show up 1.5 hours early instead of 3? Or do you avoid going to games with non-ballhawks entirely?
For me, I like ballhawking but I really can't bring myself to make other people do something they really don't want to do. So for now I'll have to settle for the occasional batting practice and a few baseballs (if I'm lucky) each year.
But just once I'd love to attend a game with a hardcore ballhawk. If anybody out there has an extra ticket, drop me an email!
Alan Schuster is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.