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Milwaukee Talkie

The Superstitious Ballhawk

I'm Ballhawk Shawn, and I call Miller Park my home away from home. I've been ballhawking for roughly 7 seasons and have kept detailed records for 5 of them. Over the years, I've managed to catch 10 game home runs. My collection of gamers includes a few big names: Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and a few you maybe haven't heard just yet, such as George Kottaras, Brewers' backup catcher, and Michael Taylor, the minor leaguer traded for Roy Halladay. When I'm not at the ballpark, I'm your standard 19 year old kid. I spend my weekends at parties on Milwaukee's east side and work part time at a national retailer. I'll be majoring in criminal justice when I resume school in the fall of 2010 and plan to become a cop in my home town.

I'm a very particular person when it comes to my daily habits and routines. I attempt to repeat certain rituals or procedures that correspond with my daily activities, and ballhawking is no exception. In fact, a large number of my routines and habits appear only while ballhawking. I'm not an OCD patient and I'm certainly not "superstitious", but I try my best to repeat these activities to the best of my ability.

Personally, I think this tendency comes from playing baseball from tee-ball through high school. Everyone knows baseball players are some of the most superstitious people on the planet, with good reason.

  • Whenever I played, I would never wear sunglasses or shades. I just didn't want them or need them; I can track the ball just fine in a high sky or in the setting sun.
  • I would always attempt to wear a number with a 7 in it, number 77 being optimal, as it is my "lucky number" (that sounds so tacky, doesn't it?).
  • Chewing sunflower seeds on the bench but never in the field.
  • Always wearing batting gloves while batting, but never while running the base paths.

But what do I do that keeps me ballhawking so well? I'll walk you through a day in the life of a superstitious ballhawk:

  • To begin the day, I wake up at the same time for night games, 11:00AM.
  • I drive in the same lane, the "fast lane", on the highway to the ballpark.
  • At precisely 3:30PM I enter the stadium on the third base side and begin to eat my meal at 4:15PM.
  • If I'm ballhawking well, that meal stays the same. If I hit a rough spot, that will change the next day.
  • I'll conclude the meal at precisely 5:30PM, and wait the 5 minutes until the rest of the stadium opens. As soon as it does, you'll see me run right to section 126 or 129, depending on how ambitious I feel.
  • During construction of Miller Park, a worker took his hand, dipped it in blue paint, and impressed his hand upon a beam in left field. Every time I pass it, I high five it.
  • During most of the game, you'll see me with a mouth full of sunflower seeds. It sounds crazy, but I eat each seed the same way. I'll also be wearing my lucky USA WBC jersey.
  • During the final motions of the game, I'll bid farewell to the season ticket holders around me and sneak behind the dugout to try and hawk a final baseball or two.

By my own admission, I'm on the more intense end of the spectrum. Some ballhawks have just as many routines or superstitions, while others have none. I've found that there are only 2 habits that can be given the "universal" tag, that is, things damn near every ballhawk does to keep themselves comfortable and at the top of their game: the lucky home team hat and using the same glove season after season. What habits do YOU have that keep you on top of your game? Am I leaving any out?

For a baseball player, three simple words ring true more than any other: "Feel is real". Baseball is just one of the sports where your mindset and mental outlook can have a huge impact on your performance, but does this carry over to ballhawking? Personally I find the answer to be overwhelmingly "Yes".

Ballhawk Shawn is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.

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