4-25-09 Oriole Park at Camden Yards

100_1023.jpgI was looking forward to my first ever trip to Camden Yards.  I should’ve known that something was up though because before leaving, I filled up my half empty gas tank with 6.66 gallons of gas.  Not good.

I drove to Baltimore and checked into the Ramada Lord Baltimore (Radisson) hotel. 
100_0989.jpgAnd right before 5PM, there were hundreds of people that snaked off into the distance and behind the Sports Museum.

This was not a good sign for batting practice.

The gates opened and I ran into right field first.   It would be the last time I would run for somewhile.  There was me and some other guy in the section.  I long home run was hit within the first minute.  It landed about 10 rows behind me, closer to the other guy.  He ran to get the ball.  I also ran to get the ball.  We both ran to where the ball had landed but couldn’t find it.  I then noticed some movement under the seats.  It was rolling down the stairs under the seats.  It was two rows ahead of me.  I attempted to stradle a row of chairs to get to it quickly.  The drop must’ve been more than I expected because my foot landed awkwardly and immediately rolled over.  I went down like a pile of bricks.  The other guy saw what happened and ran over and snatched the ball.  I was in a lot of pain.  I had to sit down for a couple minutes.  I tried to stand up but couldn’t walk.  My ankle was in bad shape.  Should I go home or continue on? 

I toughed it out and limped over to left field.  Since I had season tickets for this game, I had an extra 30 minutes with only season ticket holders.  There were a few balls hit out, but I had absolutely no range.  Usually I can cover at least one full section to my left or right to chase a home run.   Now?  Maybe 2-3 seats either way.  A home run landed near me, but I wasn’t able to get to it in time.  Some teenager ran over and grabbed it and screamed “It’s mine!!!”  and started celebrating like he had caught Joe Carter’s 1993 Game 7 World Series walk off home run.  I really wasn’t in the mood. 

Several minutes later another home run hit and bounced diagonally directly to me.  I bent over gingerly and picked up ball #1

Right before the stadium opened to the general public, another home run was hit.  It was directly at me.  I barely had to move.  I caught the home run on the fly.&
nbsp; It was ball #2.

The stadium really filled up with people.  Being from Pittsburgh, it was by far the most crowded batting practice I had ever seen. 
100_1007.jpgI was extremely irritated. 

The Rangers must have been having their own Home Run Derby competition, because it was insane the amount of home runs they were hitting, and how far they were hitting them.  Josh Hamilton hit one over the batter’s eye, and peppered a few more off of it.  He was also hitting opposite field shots into the left field seats.  Balls were landed a good 25 rows back.

I wasn’t able to get anything though.

I went over to center field to check out the bullpens.  There was 10 balls sitting in the grassy area to the right of the bullpens beneath the batters eye.  I met and chatted with another ballhawk who said that the pitching coach usually comes out and tosses the balls up.  There was one ball at the very back that was about 10 feet out.  However, it was a big drop between the seats and the grassy area against the batters eye.  I would’ve used the glove trick, but I figured I’d save myself the aggravation and just wait for the pitching coach.   

An Orioles bullpen catcher came out and started getting the balls.  Myself and the other ballhawk asked politely for the balls.  He totally ignored us.  He gathered all of the balls, most if not all were hit by Texas Rangers, and put them in the ball bag.  I’m real sure that pitchers want to warm up with balls that were crushed 420+ feet.    No wonder the Orioles lost today.

I took my seat in the 6th row, almost directly behind home plate.
100_1024.jpgIt was pretty good foul ball territory, since I was right on the aisle.

I took a few shots of the game.
100_1025.jpgJosh Hamilton:
100_1016.jpg
100_1017.jpgNick Markakis got the biggest ovation of the night from Orioles fans.

I ended up leaving the game in the 4th inning as I noticed a huge bulge in my sock.  My ankle was swollen really bad.  After sitting down for a few innings, I could barely even walk.  I made it to the outside of the stadium and flagged down a taxi to take me back to my hotel room.
100_1047.jpg
I snapped this picture in the mirror of the balls I caught today.  I wasn’t happy.
100_1054.jpg
I had tickets for Sunday’s game, but found a buyer for them.  They came and picked up the tickets on Sunday morning at my hotel.  There was just no way I could go to the game.  I’m at home now, and can’t put any substantial weight on my ankle without pain.

Hopefully my ankle can heal enough so I can get to some games this week.

STATISTICS:
Game:  2 Balls (2 hit)
Season:  50 Balls  (19 hit, 25 thrown, 6 device)
Games:  11 Games (9 with BP, 2 without)
Average:   4.55 Balls per Game
Career:  216 Balls
Attendance:  41,160

5 Comments

Tough luck, Erik. Nobody likes a trip to the DL. That’s a pretty ugly sprain, too. I had one like that about six years ago and my right ankle is still a noticeable bit larger than my left.

I know what you mean about Josh Hamilton, too. That guy can flat out RAKE. When he was at Minute Maid last year, he was really giving the guys in the right field mezzanine their money’s worth during BP. He was mashing them like no one I’ve ever seen.

Donny in Houston
http://lonestar.mlblogs.com

Erik –

Congratulations ……… You are now officially a Ballhawk! Bumps and bruises are the norm as well as twisted and sprained ankles! I hope it’s gone down soon since the Buc’s will be home soon!

John
Major League Ballhawk
http://ballhawk.mlblogs.com

Hi Erik…

That really does suck about your ankle. MLBBallhawk is right though. You’re officially in the club. We all get hurt at some point. The key is to learn from it and not get hurt the same way again. Hey, you still got two balls while you were hurt. That’s the true sign of a ballhawk. You didn’t give up! Great job.

I’m not sure if you know this, but I am in management for Hilton Hotels. Here’s the thing about ANY Priceline.com type guest that we get. We know that you didn’t pay crap for your room, therefore we are going to give you the worst room possible that we can. Something that we would sell last or towards the end of the night when we’re sold out. We always hook up the full price paying guests over the online people. I AM POSITIVE that the Radisson had other rooms they could have put you in, but they told you they only had the handicapped room Ha ha. Every chain does it. $50 is a good price though. Anyway, I hope you feel better soon and your Pirates really put it on is this weekend. Way to go. Jake Peavy still sucks. Take it easy.

Leigh

You look pissed. I think Gary (Kowal) and myself will be heading over to Baltimore on May 6th in hopes of snagging one of those HHH Metrodome commemorative balls. We’ll see..feel better big guy.

- Donnie
http://donnieanks.mlblogs.com/

Donny,
Hamilton is amazing. I got a taste of what it must’ve been like at the Home Run Derby last year. He was killing the ball.

John,
Thanks for formally accepting me as an official ballhawk. Hopefully I can stay healthy once this heals.

Leigh,
Thanks for the heads up about the hotels. I thought it was funny that they didn’t have anything but crappy rooms, especially since I was checking in at 2:45 PM. You’re right, I’ll be more careful in similar situations so as not to roll my ankle again. I’ll probably wear a brace for a while, because it’ll be more likely to be injured again while its healing.

Donnie,
I hope you have better luck in Baltimore than I did. Good luck getting some Twins balls.

-Erik
http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com

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