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