July 14, 2010
For as long as I can remember baseball has always been in my life. Sometimes it has been set aside for other things, but it's been there however obscure it may have become. One thing that I love about baseball is the way you can interact with other people. I heard a sports talk radio host say that "baseball is a talking sport", simple but true. The same could be said about other sports I'm sure, but baseball takes up more shelf space in the bookstores (check it out if you don't believe me), so there must be something to that.
Over the past couple of years baseball has taken on new meaning for me. On a complete fluke two summers ago, I bought Zack Hample's book "Watching Baseball Smarter". When I say fluke, that's exactly what I mean. I saw the book on the shelf and liked the title and I already had another book in my hand, so I put back the other and purchased Zack's and two years later I have my own blog, I'm writing columns for a monthly snagging oriented website, and meeting people I would never have met otherwise.
I have gotten to meet and/or know some really great people and not just ballhawks but other fans, stadium employees, you name it. The past couple of seasons I have been blessed to able to attend around 40 games a season, and will probably do the same this year. In doing so, I have developed acquaintances with other fans and ushers and vendors, and some have grown more than others, but the fact is that for however brief the moment, whether it's just batting practice or for the entire game, we have a friendship. Some may last longer and some may not, but there's a friendship established nonetheless. We share in the joy and sadness of everything from missed balls in batting practice to a closing pitcher blowing a save, or catching your first BP homer on the fly to seeing a walk off homer. It's not very often that you can see total strangers high-fiving each other.
In May of last year I had the great opportunity to meet the man that introduced me to the whole "ballhawk universe", Mr. Zack Hample. We had gotten to know each other some in the months prior to his coming down to Texas mainly through comments left on each other's blogs, and since then we have communicated through email about everything from angry comments left on blog entries to baseball card chats. Though we've only met once in person and been to one game together I have been able to let him know how he has influenced me (I wonder if he takes that as a positive or negative?).
Just last night I finally got to me another person that I had wanted to meet for a long time now, Nick Yohanek, aka "The Happy Youngster". Yes, he has been pretty invisible this season, but he had his third child at the start of the season and has really scaled back his game attendance, though this trip to Texas was scheduled during spring training. Nick and I developed a friendship almost the same way as Zack and I did, comments and emails, so there was a lot of anticipation heading into the formal meeting. These two guys are the first real "friends" that I made in the ballhawk world and hopefully we will stay friends from now on. If things go according to plan I will be able to meet another person from the blogoshpere in Cleveland next month, Todd Cook. If you don't know the name then do a search for him on this site as well as the mlblog site. He is a great dad that shares his baseball adventures with his son and father, and leaves a detailed report on all of it.
Now I know that I may seem like a name dropper or that I'm bragging about whom I've gotten to meet, but that's not my intention. My point is that the possibilities are endless when it comes to the people you can meet and develop friendships with just from leaving a comment or two on a blog entry. By the end of this season I will have met guys from New York, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania without even going to any of those states.
And at the center of it all is baseball. I guess that talk show host was right; baseball really is a talking sport.
Brian Powell is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.