Category Archives: Baseball

Camden Yards Ball Hawk: 5/7, Towson University v. University of Maryland at Ripken Stadium

So I’m a Major League ball hawk: I am only really concerned with getting baseballs at Major League games because, well, it’s the pros. But, I will admit, it is kind of cool getting different balls from different minor or independent leagues as well as different collegiate conferences.

I had heard that Towson University and University of Maryland would be playing a game at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen — home of the Ironbirds. Since I’m a Towson University student, and fellow ball hawk Alex Kopp is a Maryland graduate, we decided to attend the game and see what came of it.

In all honesty, I had never been to a minor league ballpark before to see a game. Ever. So this experience would be . . . an experience.

When I completed the 35 minute drive to Aberdeen, I met with Alex, and he wanted to do some exploring:

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Here is where we were:

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Guess what he was looking for:

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Yup:

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Random freakin’ baseballs.

That ball is a Wilson A1030, your run-of-the-mill baseball that you can find in any sporting goods store. We assumed this ball had been used for batting practice for one of the teams earlier in the day.

Alex also found some barely covered, muddy baseballs that we could not tell what they were. But he also found a Ripken League baseball. 

We were curious as to which balls they would be using during the game. For Towson’s home games, they use official CAA baseballs, the conference they play in. For Maryland, they, of course, use ACC baseballs (until next year). But this game was being played at a neutral site, so there was also a possibility that they would be using those Ripken League balls. Another far-fetched possibility was commemorative Ripken Cup (that’s what they’re calling this thing) baseballs. But, that was doubtful.

I thought they would be using ACC baseballs, because it is a major conference with more funding than, say, the CAA.

There was also another question: could we keep the baseballs? At most college games, when a ball is hit foul, the teams ask for it back so that they do not run out when the season nears the end. But this was being played at a big-ish stadium where balls could really go anywhere.

Anyway, we got our tickets ($3) and waited outside the gates for them to open at 6:

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When we went in, they handed us these:

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Which became handy later.

On the field, there was no batting practice (which really isn’t a problem), but some University of Maryland players were playing games in shallow right field:

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Meanwhile, Alex and I walked around the stadium. Probably the coolest part of the park is the Marriott across from the park, behind the third base side. Why is that cool? Check it out:

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It was designed to look just like the Warehouse at Camden Yards.

We walked around in the seats down the third base line and just hung out. On one of the walls down the line there was a wicked hole that looked like it was made by a sharp liner:

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When in the seats, I noticed something else: all of the railings were plastic, PVC piping, even the ones that prevent fans from falling onto the field. On top of that, most of them were cracked and broken. Toto, this isn’t the Major Leagues anymore.

As Alex and I walked over to the first base line, I asked him if he brought his ball retriever, hoping to God that he didn’t. He did. And guess what else he did:

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Used it. He fished-up a ball that was old as hell and barely stitched together.

For the game, we settled on a spot down the third base line that had more room than ever to run for a foul ball. I’m not kidding. Look to our right:

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To our left:

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Directly behind us:

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Hi Alex.

The weather was kind of crappy. For the beginning of the game, it sprinkled a little bit and there was no sun. As it got later, it got really cold. We were both glad there wasn’t an Orioles game because we would just be freezing there, too, and for even longer.

One thing I learned about college baseball: there is not as many foul balls as the majors. If this were an MLB game, Alex and I would have grabbed more foul balls that we could have ever imagined. But in this game, Alex counted 10 balls that went out of play. Four of them went out of the stadium, one went back onto the field, and the others went into the stands.

Early in the game, Alex was able to get one off the bat of Towson outfielder Dominic Fratantuono. And I was right: they were using ACC balls.

And no one came to take them back.

A little later, I got mine: a deep foul hit by Maryland outfielder Anthony Papio. It landed over to the right of that white tent pictured above. Check out the ball:

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Later, Alex got another one and gave it away to a little kid who came asking for it.

If you’re wondering, Alex does keep track of the minor league, college and Major League balls (in fact, he recently got his 1,000th overall baseball). However, he will not be counting those muddy balls he found outside the park. He will, however, count the two foul balls he got at this game.

The game ended a little after 9:30, and before we left we looked outside for those balls that left the park, but we couldn’t find them.

. . .

For every game I go to during the 2014 season, I recap my ball hawking adventures for Eutaw Street Report. Follow this link to read-up on all of my crazy ball hawking stories. 

 

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World baseball challenge: the Australian Baseball League

In an attempt to occupy myself during these months void of the Orioles and Camden Yards as well as baseball and a batting practice as a whole, I have embarked on a challenge to ball hawk across the country without ever having to even leave the state.

I do not exactly remember what gave me the idea, but it came to me one day as I was longing for the left field bleachers. My plan was to acquire a baseball from each of the professional baseball leagues around the world while only paying my own postage and trading one of my many Major League baseballs.

To begin, I set my sights on the Australian Baseball League. It seemed to be one of the easier leagues to accomplish despite it being so far away. Of course, the reason for that is because of the shared language, something you will not find in a majority of the other leagues around the world.

Continue reading World baseball challenge: the Australian Baseball League

From The New York Times’ Archives: Babe Ruth’s 700th Home Run (1934)

In 1934, it was called “a record that promises to endure for all time.”

From the New York Times article written on July 13, 1934:

A record that promises to endure for all time was attained on Navin Field today when Babe Ruth smashed his seven-hundredth home run in a lifetime career. It promises to live, first, because few players of history have enjoyed the longevity on the diamond of the immortal Bambino, and, second, because only two other players in the history of baseball have hit more than 300 home runs.

Of course, today, we stand with Ruth as third on the all time home run list and 54th on the games played list. The scientific developments that forever changed the game were unforeseen in the mid-30’s where 700 home runs seemed unattainable unless you were the Bambino. Imagine Ruth slugging in this era where something close to one-thousand bombs would be said to “endure for all time.”

Continue reading From The New York Times’ Archives: Babe Ruth’s 700th Home Run (1934)

Smoking Ban at Orioles and Ravens Game Will Be Tough for Those Addicted

“I can’t go all that time without a smoke,” he said almost-desperately as I relayed to him the information. Starting in March at all events held in Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, smoking is prohibited. No more designated smoking areas, banned completely inside the stadiums as well as 25 feet from the entrances outside the stadium. He is my uncle, in his mid-fifties, an Oriole fan for decades, a smoker for probably longer, and a common visitor to both Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards. “I won’t go,” he added.

“Earl Weaver smoked in the dugout!” he pleaded.

Continue reading Smoking Ban at Orioles and Ravens Game Will Be Tough for Those Addicted

From the New York Times’ Archives: Babe Ruth’s 600th Home Run (1931)

When Babe Ruth was walloping home runs, escalating his total to previously unexplored heights, some of them that should have been celebrated were merely passed off as just another achievement of the Sultan of Swat. Nobody quite knew the importance of a home run such as number 600.

Ruth’s 600th home run, a drive hit in St. Louis, was only worthy of a few mentions in the New York Times the following day (Aug. 22, 1931). In the article entitled, “Yanks Win, Ruth Driving 600th Homer,” the home run is acknowledged as his 600th, but nothing more:
Continue reading From the New York Times’ Archives: Babe Ruth’s 600th Home Run (1931)

From The New York Times’ Archive: Babe Ruth’s 500th Home Run (1929)

A slugger’s 500th home run is a much celebrated feat, often times more so than the 600th. Maybe it is the 500th home run level of difficulty: 600 has only been accomplished by eight batters; 500 by twenty-five with Albert Pujols only 25 away entering 2013.

In 1929, no hitter had reached the 500 plateau. In fact, only Babe Ruth had more than 250. When Ruth went deep on August 11, 1929 in Cleveland, many were unsure of how to react. Every one was used to Ruth, his power and the achievements that accompany. This home run was seen coming from a mile away. They did know, however, that a home run total as high as 500 needed to be celebrated.
Continue reading From The New York Times’ Archive: Babe Ruth’s 500th Home Run (1929)