Thursday, January 12, 2012

In pursuit of a white spherical object

I recently started reading a book called "The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and the Secrets Beneath the Stitches." This book was penned by an author named Zach Hample and he has become a master of snagging baseballs at major league games. This book delves into the history of the baseball, how they are created, and some of the best stories surrounding the white spherical objects fans are clamoring to get at a baseball contest. Imagine the days when players and ushers had to find the baseball in the stands so the game could continue on the field because there was only one game ball for each contest. Oh how far baseball culture has come over the last 100 years...

I have been lucky enough to get my hands on a few baseballs during batting practice at the Metrodome, Target Field and during spring training games in Florida. My total baseballs collected is nowhere near the number collected by Hample but I have crafted my own ways to get my hands on a baseball over the years. During the past season, I was invited by the Twins to attend an early batting practice session with the club. At the time, I wrote about the experience and the number of baseballs my buddy and I were able to attain. I gave most of those balls away to different fans in attendance but I have another other fun stories about trying to catch a ball during at a Twins game.

- October 9, 2004 - ALDS Game 4 - 
- Yankees at Twins - HHH Metrodome -
Game three of the series had been tough for fans that made their way into the Metrodome. The Yankees were on the cusp of knocking the Twins out of the playoffs for the second straight year. As the fourth game of the series was about to get underway, some college buddies and I still had hope for the Twins to turn it around. We made our way to the game early to try and snag a ball in the Home Run Porch during batting practice. By the time the gates were open, the Twins had already completed their portion of on-field warm ups so this meant any ball we received would be off of the bat of the hated Yankees. We spread out in different rows so we were able to cover more ground. The Bronx Bombers were sending plenty of souvenirs out into the seats in left field but none of us got close to hauling in a ball.

Near the end of the batting practice session, Gary Sheffield stepped up to the plate and launched a ball near the Teflon roof. I followed the track of the ball and knew it was going to be over my head. A buddy of mine was a few rows behind me and the ball was going to land somewhere near him. I watched as he tried to bare-hand the ball and he bobbled it with both hands before flipping it up in the air. My friend thought the ball had disappeared but I could clearly see the location of the object. The ball had defied the laws of physics to come to rest on the brim of his baseball cap, a feat that is tough to accomplish. I yelled up to him about the location of the ball and it slowly fell to the ground. By that time there were plenty of others who had rushed to the scene and one of the other pursuers retrieved the ball. My buddy had missed his chance.

Here is the rundown of the balls I have kept in my collection over the years. There were many more than this in the past. But as I stated before, I tend to pass these souvenirs on to younger fans who will have more appreciation for them.
  • A couple of balls from spring training in 2006 and 2007
  • A batting practice home run from Joe Mauer in 2009 (with the commemorative Metrodome stamp on it)
  • A ball I scooped up with my hat at Opening Day 2011
  • A batting practice foul ball off the bat of Jim Thome in 2011
Did you have a cool story about getting a ball at a game? What are some of the techniques you use to get a ball at Target Field? Leave a comment and start the conversation.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I caught a line drive foul ball right in front of the press box at Midway Stadium at a Saints game about 15 years ago.
Unfortunately it wasn't off the bat of a has-been like Darryl Strawberry or Glenn Davis, but it was still pretty cool. Never even been close to a MLB foul ball.

Danny Valencia tossed a baseball to a kid (also a Twins fan) in front of me in Baltimore last season. The kid promptly turned to me and gave me the ball, explaining that he already had gotten a dozen or so balls, a Denard Span game-used bat, and a bunch of autographs from the team. I felt funny taking it, but the kid legitimately didn't want "just another baseball."