Game 19 – 8/13 at Wrigley Field

Only two weeks had passed, but a whole lot had changed since the end of July. The biggest difference, and the most bittersweet, was finishing up and closing projects at Plante Moran. I gave my presentation, had my performance review, and said goodbye to everyone I’d met in the last few months. Without even having time to think about it, I had to start packing for school. Today was my last day at work; Wednesday the 13th. I left for school on Saturday morning, which gave me two whole days to put stuff together. I also wanted to enjoy the last remaining hours of my summer, so packing was the last thing on my mind. It was surreal to think I’d be going to class just being a week removed from my job in public accounting.

Anyway, enough about life. You came here for baseball.

I was able to leave the office at about 1 o’clock after signing some paperwork and turning in my computer. I find it funny and ironic that the second I was done, I went right to the ballpark. It says a lot about what was on my mind since the start of July when I started going into the office every day.

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Game 18 – 7/29 at Wrigley Field

My team partner (AKA “Boss”, but we don’t use that word at PM) at work is a very big Cub fan. Every time I see him, we discuss what happened since the last time we had the chance to talk. Towards the end of July, things got pretty exciting with Javier Baez coming up and talks of Jorge Soler possibly joining him in the near future.

The Monday after my last game, I slipped in that I was at the Sox game and broke my single game record. I’ve explained to him what I do, and while he wasn’t extremely interested, he always asks about it and when my next game will be. I didn’t have anything planned officially, but was eyeballing the 29th. The great thing about my firm is the flexibility. I could come in when I want, leave when I want, and as long as I log about 40 hours a week. As long as I get my work done during those hours, no one will notice, much less care. Because of this, I mustered up the courage to ask the biggest Cub fan in the office if I could take a half day on this Tuesday, with the exception I come in early the rest of the week. I didn’t finish asking before he said “Don’t worry about it”, and we continued our normal Cubs conversation.

That was easy.

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Game 17 – 7/19 at US Cellular Field

I liked the work I was doing at PM. I really did. But it was still work. Being cooped up in an office all day was starting to mess with my head. Day after day of taxing my brain (pun definitely intended) only to go home and get ready for another round was exhausting. The fun and games were long gone, and I was now in the thick of actual responsibility. I wrote it off as a learning experience that came with working in an office for the first time. Personal adjustments like that are exactly what internships are for.

I was desperately searching for a way to get to a game. Taking a day off was not an option. Even for a night game, I would have to leave the office by 2 PM to make it to Wrigley in time, only to get back at midnight and be back at the office the following morning. Seeing it as an impossible task caused me to want it even more.

Desperate times  call for desperate measures. There were no work related issues on a Saturday night. However, weekends are my single biggest turn off when it comes to Ballhawking. I try to avoid them at all costs except in very special situations. I can tolerate a couple Fridays every year. Sundays are mostly okay as long as it’s early in the season. Saturdays, however, are a total nightmare for me.

This is why I insisted July 19th wouldn’t work. I sat at my desk, going back and forth for weeks while staring at that one little box on my calendar. There was nothing wrong besides the day it happened to fall on. I realized there was no other reason I was intimidated besides that. It would simply just be a challenge.

Alas, I am here.

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Ballhawk’s Days Off at Wrigleyville Rooftops

Last May, I watched my very first game from the rooftops. Put simply, I thought it was one of the best sports experiences of my life. Unlimited food and beverage all afternoon for a 21 year old? How does that NOT sound like the best time ever?

I was at Sheffield Baseball Club for that game, and definitely enjoyed myself. It was a beautiful day and the view was almost perfect considering I was watching from across the street. I couldn’t wait to get back to another one (with another company) this season.

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You can read the entire entry if you click this nice blue link.

Thanks to a Living Social deal, last year’s tickets cost $69. I feel like I came out on top, but 70 bucks is still 70 bucks. I was on watch early and often this spring, and found the deal of all deals on Groupon. Wrigleyville Rooftops basically gave you a 2-for-1 deal if you went on a Sunday, which were their $100 (or even less) value days all throughout the season. It came out to just $54 a ticket! Obviously, I picked up two. One to go with friends, and another for the girlfriend.

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The Dark Months – June and July

My timing and publishing schedule is all screwed up, but even as I type this just a couple weeks after my last entry, I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve spoken in the present tense. For perspective, this conversation SHOULD be taking place at just about the middle of July. I’m here to tell you what I’ve been up to the last few weeks of the season, both with baseball and without.

The first thing I did after my previous game was report to the office bright and early on Monday morning for my first day as an intern. The entire experience was so unbelievable, I almost forgot all about Ballhawking. I was CONSTANTLY on the move for almost a month straight.

My first week of training brought me to Southfield, Michigan, where the largest Plante Moran offices are located. All 135 interns from around the Midwest were present, as well as lots of full time staffers to lead the training sessions. I met a ton of CPAs and also got to know the students I would be working with back home in Elgin. All the worries and nervousness I carried were instantly gone. Every single person in the firm was more than willing to help us and answer any questions we had about anything. They understood that some of us were doing our first internship, and really made it a point that we weren’t expected to know what we were doing. The whole reason we were there was to learn!

Since I was technically in the tax department, my second week was set aside for additional training that focused on tax software and procedures. This one was a little more localized, but I still had to travel just a little bit to the Downtown Chicago office. I took the Metra with all the old guys in suits and actually had an office to go to when I got down there. This is the view from the 9th floor where some of the PM offices are located:

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I could literally feel my train rumbling underneath my feet in the conference room where our sessions took place on the first floor; Plante’s building was directly over the tracks that led to Union Station. I know it’s becoming more common for people my age to have jobs down here and do the same commute, but it was a big eye opener for me. I had always hoped I would be lucky enough to work downtown one day, and it was seamlessly happening right in front of me.

The following weekend, the Pirates were in town at Wrigley. I vowed to myself and my friends that the glove would be left at home once I started work. I wanted to see what it was like to enjoy a game the way I used to. There have been very few occasions over the last four years where I didn’t show up early. The whole plan was to relax and see the game from a different angle in a place that I had become all too familiar with.

First, I took in Saturday night’s game with Sean; the same friend that came with me on June 6th. One thing I didn’t have the chance to do all those years ago was drink. As we were grabbing dinner about an hour before the game, it started to downpour outside. Normally this would get me wet and ruin my night. Instead, we just ordered another pitcher. So far, this was going great!

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Because of the rain and the fact it was a night game on Saturday, there were LOTS of empty seats right when the game started. In my semi-cocky and confident state, I simply walked right past the ushers and acted like I belonged. We made it all the way down to the SIXTH ROW.

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I hoped it would last all game, but I definitely appreciated the first few innings since I was sure we would get booted. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened. I gave the usher the finger when he turned his back, and we moved to the 5th row of the Field Box sections, which were about 15 feet farther back. The Cubs never had the lead, but left a ton of guys on base late in the game. It was a game they could have won, but still came up short. I guess that’s the kind of offensive frustration you get when Eli Whiteside and Darwin Barney are in your lineup.

The very next day, I went back down to Wrigley with Kyra. This was her reward for putting up with me in season’s past. She loves going to games, but I sometimes take the fun out of it when showing up early. This was a chance for HER to relax, too.

After some lunch, we grabbed seats down the foul line. More crowded than last night, but still empty enough so we could spend a few innings here.

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We moved all around the park to the places I haven’t seen in ages. Kyra even wanted to take a shot at keeping score!

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Alas, another win slipped through their fingers. They were held scoreless until the 9th, but only got one and left another guy on base to lose 2-1. I came for relaxation. I left with great amounts of frustration. Can’t say I’m too surprised by that.

After two games in as many days, it was time for yet another big week at work. On Tuesday morning, I hopped in a van with a few other interns and staff members to make our way to the annual firm conference that’s held in downtown Detroit. Every single member of the firm was invited to hear this year’s financial reports and speeches from newly promoted partners. PM isn’t all that big in Illinois quite yet. In Michigan, however, they are borderline royalty. For U of M and MSU students, it’s one of the top firms to work for after graduation. This was all being told to me as we were walking up to the venue where our conference was held:

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They were able to rent out this HUGE theater, all on their own! It was now when I started to realize how lucky I really was to be a member of this firm that has such a great reputation, is growing so quickly, and treats their interns with so much respect.

The inside of the theater? Absolutely amazing. The first picture is the lobby, and the second is a stage view where everything took place.

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Elvis himself even had a show here once upon a time:

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Aside from the Wow factor that came with seeing and learning what PM life in Michigan was like, I was thrilled to be here and learn more about the company that I now decided I would love to come back to after graduating.

You would think this is the end of my good fortune. I’ve barley worked a single day and already been treated to more opportunities and events than I ever could have expected. The real work has to start soon, right?

Nope! There’s more.

The week after the conference was the cherry on the top of all the other events – the Intern Summit back in Chicago. All the interns came together one more time for team building activities and simply to hang out. It had nothing to do with work whatsoever, and it was meant to be that way. I heard many times from the HR team that the firm was trying to impress us as much as we were trying to impress them. They used all these events to show us the importance they put on the “work-life balance” that is such a struggle to maintain for new graduates who are just entering the accounting profession.

Perhaps the best part of the social side of the internship came on our last night at the Summit. Thanks to the generosity of a fellow intern from Elgin, a bunch of Chicago area interns hung out on the 51st floor of the Trump Tower.

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After the Summit, I had the rest of the week off for the 4th of July. I used that time to my advantage and did some pretty cool stuff.

A Trip to New Glarus Brewery for some Spotted Cow:

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IMG_3386A trip to Arlington for some AWESOME fireworks on the 4th:

IMG_2483I highly recommend it to anyone for next year. One of the most crowded days each year, but they put on a fantastic show.

And finally, a visit to my uncle’s beach house in Michigan City, which consisted of him teaching me how to be a better Blackjack player:

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I unfortunatley can’t find a picture of me on the Waverunner.

Taking into account the whirlwind of the last month, this may have been the best mini vacation I ever had. Everything in life was great…besides the absence of baseball. I wasn’t even really missing it that much. I was having fun in a bunch of other places that just so happened not to be a ballpark.

FINALLY, on July 7th, I started working on actual tax returns in the Elgin office. For the most part, I worked on the same network of partnerships, but also had some individual returns mixed in there as well. It was slightly terrifying to be thrown into the fire, but every single person surrounding me was willing to help. Before I knew it, I was starting to get the hang of a few things while still learning a ton each and every day. I became comfortable enough to trust my work and ask for help while still experiencing the new areas of tax work in public accounting. I really couldn’t have been happier with the experience I was getting.

After my first full (and rather stressful) week of work, I had time to sneak a little more baseball in.

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Game 16 – 6/6 at Wrigley Field

It was finally here. The end of my baseball season (for the most part), the end of my summer, and possibly an end to this part of my life, depending on how things go with Plante Moran.

Nothing felt the way I expected it to. I didn’t want to savor every moment, remember the game, or do anything particularly special. All I wanted was to get in, snag my baseballs, and get out. I wanted to move on and focus on my internship for the next two months. No more planning, no more traffic, and no more being disappointed about little details. At this point, I was glad to have this planned hiatus. It would let me take a break and think before deciding what to do next. For the first time in about three months, baseball games would not be the biggest focus in my life.

Since I had an extra ticket (buying both was the only way to get the VIP privilege today), I invited my friend Sean. I’m really glad he was here, mostly because he could help me capture the 100th ball experience. It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve seen a BP with one of my friends, too. I tell them about the games, my successes, and my ideas for the future, but they rarely see me in action. I was glad he got to see first hand what I do and how I do it. After all was said and done, he mentioned I looked a lot better than the last time he saw me a couple years ago. That means a lot coming from someone like him who isn’t invested in the hobby and tells it like it is.

We arrived at 12:30 for a 1:00 PM gate time and a 3:05 game. I didn’t think the odd timing would disrupt things on the field too much.

We first went over to Waveland, where I told Sean the story of each street Ballhawk.

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We talked renovations while we waited. I am completely in favor of anything that Tom decides to do. I trust he’ll keep as much of the history as he can while still improving this hundred year old structure. I wouldn’t mind the video boards since I don’t waste my time outside of the stadium. I’ve seen old Wrigley plenty of times. I’m positive I have enough memories to last me for the rest of my life.

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Everything went according to plan as we made our way inside.

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All I asked of Sean was for him to stay relatively close until I needed him for a photo op. Normally I wouldn’t care where he went or what he did one bit, but this was a special occasion and I’m grateful he too understood the significance to me.

My 100th lifetime ball was out on that field. Somewhere, in some basket or bucket. It’s fate was already determined. I had no idea which one it was, when it would be coming, or what it would feel like, but there was no doubt in my mind that it was out there. This gave me a weird perspective that I’ve never had before. I felt like every ball that left the pitcher’s hand had my name on it. Every single swing, I expected it to come to me. When it was hit to the opposite field or on the ground, the next one was then going to be mine. Remember, I was still right in the middle of my hot streak. Knowing I could continue it through this special day gave me a ton of motivation to earn it. Being alert, attentive, and athletic enough to truly earn it.

Asking for toss-ups was out of the question for the Cubs. The left field group doesn’t like to toss them out, and I had a Marlins jersey in my bag to use later. Like I said, I wanted to deserve it…unless push came to shove and BP was winding down. That’s a discussion I’ll save for later though.

I waited in this spot, getting nothing in the first 20 minutes despite the two whole sections I had to run through.

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In my mind, I imagined it would come early in the day. And also be caught on the fly, obviously. I think that’s why I had that weird ‘entitled’ feeling following me around. When the Cubs finished, I was quite disappointed. I guess reality never plays out like your fantasies. Now my mindset was completely changed. Instead of expecting, I was wondering. When would the time come?

As I passed Sean and told him I was going to right field, I shared some of my current thought process. I wasn’t worried at all. I just wanted to get it over with, enjoy it for a little while, and get back to work so I can start on my way towards number 200.

I put on my Marlins jersey while we were walking, and put it to good use soon after I made my way down an aisle.

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In a slight state of desperation, I asked pitching coach Chuck Hernandez to do me a favor. I’m not sure if he saw my jersey, so he was probably just being a nice guy.

I was almost ashamed at how lame number 99 was. Nothing interesting, spectacular, or even noteworthy about it. I rolled my eyes, but I got over it rather quickly. I knew the next one would be awesome; maybe the best I’d ever gotten, taking everything into consideration. I started to get that feeling again; every one was THE one until I knew for a fact it wouldn’t be. This allowed my mind to wander and build a different vision of exactly how it would look.

I walked through the gates today as hot as I’d ever been. After the 99th ball, I stopped so suddenly and went so cold that it put me in complete shock. When we were leaving right field to go back to left, I threw my backpack on and started walking towards center in the 8th or 9th row of the Bleachers, in case I needed to make a quick last move if something was hit my way. Sure enough (the only times it’s happened when I’ve done this), here one comes. I froze dead, not wanting to continue on the wrong path. I shuffled a few more steps in the direction I was originally walking, and soon realized it was too late. I tried to stretch out my arm across my body, but it wasn’t enough. I saw the ball bounce off the concrete between me and a couple other guys, right back onto the field.

The backpack slowed me down. Why did I let it do that? Couldn’t tell you. It was especially full and heavy today, but nothing was going to be broken or ruined if I ran. You have to understand, I moved at the speed of frozen molasses. Not because the bag actually slowed me down, I just didn’t choose to run because I had it on. All I did was give an awful effort at the last possible moment.

I was disappointed beyond belief. I blew it. I knew I blew it. But I still had the drive and motivation to believe I would make it up to myself.

It was pretty full in left field, but only on my left side, for some odd reason.

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After a couple minutes on my own over here, I walked over to Sean, who was about two sections farther towards center. What I had to say was short and irrelevant, because I came right back to my spot. Once I got to the point where I was too far away to make it back in time, here comes another ball, right at him. All I could do was stand and watch. In reality, he wasn’t all that close, but given my position and the amount of time I would have had to get there if I was still by him, I would have been damn close to getting this one on the fly too. This one was also completely uncontested like the first miss. It bounced around on the ground before being scooped up by someone.

I blew it again. If I said one more thing or did one thing differently, who knows where I would have been. Now I was starting to get discouraged. I wasn’t out of time, BP was actually looking great for once, but I knew I was not in good shape because of the luck I was having. These are just the ones I remember, too. I may forget individual balls, but I will never forget the feeling of dread surrounding me that was holding me back and causing these things to happen. When would it turn around? Would karma make it up to me? I was lost, and asked a lot of questions similar to that.

Guess what? There’s one more. The worst one.

Right field again. Talking to Sean again. I’m telling him pretty much what I just said above and how much it was killing me. I even think it was him who noticed a batted ball and pointed to the sky to help me out. I turned around and had to take a brief moment to find where it was, and I was almost too late. I barley had enough time to move a few feet down and over. I was still on the move as I made the motion to catch it, only to have a guy in the row in front of me grab it with his bare hands. It was one of those ones where I had to squeeze again to see if I had it, because I truly had no idea. I was that close.

You know what he did? He wound up and threw it back on the field without saying a word. He didn’t make a scene or cuss out the visiting players like a lot of people do when they want to return the ball. Then the gesture actually served some purpose. Seeing him do that didn’t make me mad, but that guy is a straight up moron. Do what you want with your ball, but what he did was utterly and completely pointless. It was a batting practice home run from the Miami Marlins. There’s no reason to hate that. Just….some people.

The feelings I had towards myself, on the other hand, almost made me explode. The guy was an afterthought, but I missed it nonetheless. It took all my willpower not to become the Hulk right there in the middle of the Bleachers. Absolutely furious. I should have been paying attention, especially because of what already happened…TWICE. I wrenched my glove and used it as a stress ball as I tried to make sense of what just happened for the third time today.

Why is this happening to me? That’s all I want to know. This wasn’t just any old circumstance. This was THE day, with THE ball hanging in the balance. HOW?! Three times, all terrible mistakes. Maybe my three worst mistakes ever in the outfield seats. This last one definitely takes the top spot, no questions asked.

I didn’t know how to recover. My big moment was now a chore and starting to piss me off. This isn’t the way it was meant to happen.

BP ended, and I still didn’t have it. I went down to my corner spot where the groundskeeper tosses me balls, just because I knew they were there. I saw two of them, and they were already working on a third by the foul pole. There was absolutely no way it was going down like this.

There was one directly below me.

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I was defeated. I thought about what it would mean to give up. I didn’t know the next time I’d be able to Ballhawk, so who knows how long I would be stuck at 99. Whenever that was, it wouldn’t be as special as if it came right now. I would have to explain to people all summer long about how I sucked it up at my last game and fell short. I knew that not asking for it meant I would walk out of the park without it. Which fate was worse?

In the end, I just wanted it. I wanted to hold it, appreciate it, and look back on the past month and three seasons prior in a positive way. So, I asked.

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Thank goodness Sean was right there and ready to get that shot. He’s awesome for keeping his head in the game and being ready.

Here it is – the picture I had been waiting for since 2010:

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I have a terrible mustache left over from my playoff beard and am drenched with sweat, but I like it. It makes it more real and in the moment.

Now for the thing that matters to most people – the actual game.

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It was quiet early, until former (Florida) Marlin Chris Coghlan doubled in Nate Schierholtz in the 5th. Rizzo tacked on two more in the 8th, and as long as the bullpen could hold it together, things were looking like they would end on a high note.

By the 9th, you could see the effect that the later start time had on the field:

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This scene happens sometimes when day games go REALLY long, but this one was right on schedule. It was weird to realize that and see it this way.

Hector Rondon blew the game by just the right amount to send it to the 10th.

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Which turned into the 11th, the 12th, and the 13th, still tied at 3. At this point I was so tired and worn out from sitting in the sun all day that I just wanted it to end. I also got shit on by a seagull, so I was more than ready to get out of here.

We had enough of the sun, so we moved to the bowl seats just before 7 PM.

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For a night game, I would have arrived at the park about two and a half hours before I took this picture. The timing of the game was really starting to mess with my head now.

Mercifully, the almighty Rizz-Dog tucked a two run shot inside the right field foul pole in the bottom of the 13th.  We got out of there right afterwards. I didn’t have a formal goodbye with Wrigley, and didn’t feel the need at all to make it a big deal. I wasn’t dying, and this place wasn’t going anywhere. I WOULD be back a couple times in the summer, and even Ballhawk once before I went back to school, so it was just a “See you later” for the time being.

That’s it. That’s my season. Over and done, just like that, coming to a screeching halt. I felt like this last game should have meant more to me and I should have felt something when we were walking back to the car, but I simply didn’t. I already had my fill of emotions today.

STATS

  • 2 balls at this game
  • 36 balls total this season
  • 37 consecutive games with a ball
  • ONE HUNDRED lifetime balls
  • Time spent at game: 6 hours, 30 minutes
  • Total time spent at games in 2014: 103 hours, 10 minutes
  • 2 balls X  28,495  fans =   56,990 Competition Factor

Below this is some ramblings I wrote when I got home that night. Like I say in the following reflection, I truly wanted to capture what I was feeling after it all. I knew my views and perceptions on everything would change drastically by the day before I got around to writing this. There’s errors and terrible sentence structure throughout, isn’t necessarily finished and will remain 100% unedited. You don’t really have to read it; not much of it is important. I’m just fulfilling a promise I made to myself in June. I highlighted some of the most basic points if you want to glance at it, though.

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 In a rather unconventional way, I’m writing this last paragraph right after getting home from the game, which is now probably about three weeks ago. After a quick edit tonight, it will remain untouched until I post the entry for the rest of the game. I may repeat myself from the entry you just read above, but this is also sort of my ‘mid-season wrap up’ section, if you will. Today’s game carried a lot of meaning in more ways than one. Because I need to mentally store what happened the past six games in my head, I wanted to do it this way to really tell you how I felt when it was all over.

The Game

The one overwhelming good thing that came out of today was my 100th ball. In fact, if you more loyal readers remember, I predicted this would happen back in March when I wrote my season goals entry. I was working towards it and keeping it in my sights all season. As the weeks went by and this last game got closer and closer, I still knew this would be the day. Waking up and heading to the park was very different compared to my regular routine. It’s not every day I get to catch number 100, you know.

Before I get into more about the important things, I need to explain just how incredibly weird today was. A 3:05 start time. Sean came with me, which is one of just a few times in the past two seasons that someone else was there. I’ve met people at the park and gone with a group that let me roam free, but it feels like ages since I’ve brought someone with me when the gates opened. (Not saying that’s a bad thing at all). 13 innings. Watching the game take place from the seating bowl for the first time since the beginning of last year. A batting practice that was so odd, it dazed and confused the hell out of me. Things like that. All of this adds to point number four, which is what I feel like moving forward in the future.

But first, let’s talk about number 100.

The Catch

One. Hundred. Baseballs. The ultimate long(er) short term goal I set for myself almost from day one. Three years ago, I always wondered what would be happening when I got it. Where would I be in life outside of the park? How much better of a Ballhawk would I be? Would those worlds collide, changing my life because of what I did in the park? It feels really weird to finally be here, at the point that has carried so much mystery for the past four seasons. Basically, I don’t feel any different. The only small caveat that makes me feel different is that I need to transform from ballpark rat Ryan into accounting intern Ryan by Monday morning. Life in general is just changing a lot.

What did it feel like to have it in my hands? Not nearly as great as I thought it would, to be honest. Not due to the fact that it wasn’t exciting, but because I went down like a sack of bricks in my last BP of the year. I’m sure I gave the details of everything that happened in the entry above. It was downright unexplainable. I was really, really hoping to end on a high note. I set myself up perfectly for it. Conquering two new ballparks and doubling my career on-the-fly catches in the two games before this one. God just did not want to make it easy for me. I decided, ultimately, that swallowing my pride and getting number 100, even in a lame way, was better than walking out of the park just one short. When I go back to Ballhawking, I’m going to be so rusty that it would have had to be a toss up anyway. It was a disappointing realization to have, but I know there’s a lesson to take away. The last few games have told me a story, and have explained perfectly what I need to do.

Reflection

I’m a good Ballhawk. I finally have enough faith in myself to admit that. I know tricks and methods, and also developed a keen awareness while spending countless hours in the seats. My only downfall, and what I always told myself I was lacking, was actual skill. I couldn’t catch. It just didn’t come easy to me. Even when I was going to three or four games a week at the beginning of May, I wasn’t getting any better.

But as the month went on, I ever so slowly became more confident. I was thinking in ways I never had before. I was seeing things that were never apparent to me. I actually followed through and learned how to catch. Sure, it’s only three balls, but it took me almost three full seasons worth of games to even get the first one. Not to mention, I missed plenty of balls today that could have made that number even higher. I’m better. I know I am. I AM a good Ballhawk.

So what happened today? It all fell apart. It was a disaster, as far as I’m concerned. My head wasn’t in the game and I was psyching myself out. I actually believe it was meant to happen today. What would have happened if I got three or four on the fly today? I wouldn’t have been able to relive my past and see where I came from. I got to see how good I really had it by losing it all in the span of two days.

My final point in this topic is – I know I’m a good Ballhawk. I’ve seen it progress, and now have been reminded of where I started from. But, as Zack Hample himself told me, “Practice makes better. There’s never a perfect. Even I screw up sometimes”. I can ALWAYS improve, no matter how much success I’m having.

The Future

It’s only the beginning of June, but it feels like September. Everything I do will come to a screeching halt over the next two days as I put away my glove for a very, very long time. It’s a weird mix that hasn’t exactly hit me yet. There are four months and more than half the season left, yet baseball feels dead to me. I’ll be going to a few games here and there on weekends, but vowed to leave my glove at home. To put it into perspective, I haven’t watched a baseball game and not cared about catching a ball since I’ve started college – FOUR years ago. It’s going to feel like a brand new thing to me. Which in and of itself sounds ridiculous; how many more things can I experience at a baseball game for the first time?

I know I’ll come back to Ballhawking. I love it too much, and it’s become a part of who I am. It will be interesting to see how this summer changes Ryan the Ballhawk and what will be spat out after I’m done with my internship. I imagine I’ll be wiser, but how is that possible if I haven’t stood in the Bleachers for three months?

I don’t know. It’s a very conflicting and confusing time. One thing that’s for sure, though, is that I will keep BaseBlog going with some of my favorite ideas for off season topics. I love blogging almost as much as Ballhawking, so switching it up to write about something other than games will be a fun experience. I’ll be able to put my energy into actually following players and knowing their stats, and not who the new Pirates reliever is.

****

For being unedited, that’s not half bad. What comes next for BaseBlog? Your guess is as good as mine. Let’s see where it ends up.

Game 15 – 6/4 at Wrigley Field

After Bob Barker retired from The Price is Right, some of the comments he made in the interviews that followed really stuck with me:

“The second to last show was harder than the last one. Of course there would be lots of fanfare and celebration for the final show, but the one before that was the last time everything would be normal. It was harder to let that normalcy go than it was to actually walk away after the final show.” (Paraphrasing, of course).

I thought of that quote constantly between when I got back from my trip and today. This was not the final game before my internship; I had one more set up later in the week. Knowing everything that comes with a last game, a cheering section (since one of my friends would be joining me), and the fact of catching my 100th ball (which I was positive would happen that day), it was almost harder to acknowledge that this was the last time for a while that everything would feel the same and go according to plan.

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Game 14 – 6/2 at Progressive Field

After all the rushing to get from Canada to Cleveland, Dad and I finally arrived at the old Jake with just moments to spare before the gates opened.

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BaseBlog Roadtrip – Days 2 and 3

I was bummed to leave the park and acknowledge that the best parts of this trip were behind me. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t still plenty to look forward to, though!

Once we got out, we headed right over to the Steam Whistle Brewery with lots of other fans.

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The name of the beverage comes from the brewery, obviously. The name of the brewery comes from the location. Everything is made inside an old train depot where locomotives were repaired a long, long time ago.

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We enjoyed our beverages, the view, and people watching as we continued to talk about our plans for later that night.

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Game 13 – 6/1 at Rogers Centre

This morning carried a lot of meaning. Most importantly, I got to visit a completely new park for the very first time. It’s not a common occurrence these days, so I was going to appreciate every part of the experience. I was also going to be an international Ballhawk for the very first time. It’s a cheesy thing to say, but it’s still the truth. For the most part though, it was all bittersweet. June 1st marked the beginning of the end for me and my marathon month of baseball. One week from right now, I was going to be packing my bags for internship training. Just one week, and baseball would essentially be non-existent in my life.

I woke up in a panic thanks to a terrible nightmare. I dreamed that both Dad and I slept past our alarms and didn’t wake up until 11 AM. The gates to the park would open at 11:07, so batting practice was a total loss. To me, that’s almost worse than the game being cancelled altogether. When I knew I was awake for real, I scrambled for my phone and was relieved to see it was still only 7:30.

We hopped in the car and found even cheaper parking downtown since it was Sunday. We roamed the now familiar streets of Toronto and set our sights on the needle, which is formally named the CN Tower.

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After making our way around those buildings, I got my first full view of the day’s protagonist.

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7000 Coliseum Way

My name is Nick Badders and I'm a 15 year old living in the Bay Area. I am an Oakland A's Season Ticket holder than loves going to Major and Minor League baseball games and snagging balls. I have a great, supportive, and amazing family that accompanies me to all of these games, putting up with my insanity. I started snagging balls in 2011, and since then, I've snagged 95 MiLB Baseballs and 68 MLB Baseballs.. Follow me on my adventures from April to October and beyond!

Plouffe's New Hairdo

Twins, Baseball, Music, and Other Random Musings

Observing Baseball

I grew up a Yankee fan, I favor Pitchers whenever possible, I am a stathead, and my dream job is to be a GM for an MLB franchise. In the summer, I go to MLB games and catch baseballs. In the winter, I write about what teams are doing to get better or worse. I try to be positive and unbiased in my writing, but that isn't always possible when evaluating teams truthfully.

Counting Baseballs

Erik is a baseball fan who has been attending baseball games and snagging baseballs regularly since 2008.

The curveblog

A teenage Cubs fan

The Inherent Dangers of Watching Professional Baseball

I'm Shawn, and I'm Milwaukee's ballhawk. I've caught 32 home runs DURING MLB games, over 2,000 baseballs total. Read and see how I do it! Follow me on twitter for LIVE ballhawking updates: @BallhawkShawn

The Baseball Collector

Zack Hample has snagged 7,806 baseballs at 51 different major league stadiums since 1990. Find out how and see what else he's been up to.

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