After taking the train, we arrived at Citi Field about 20 minutes before the gates were going to open. There was already a short line forming in front of the bag check tables, but I decided to start another line. I went right behind another one of the bag check tables, and was first in line. About 10 minutes later, security started to tell people toward the back of the original line that there were indeed two lines, with me at the front of the second one.
When the gates opened, I raced down toward to the first row on the first base side of the field. I was going to try to get some autographs from the Mets today. I was the first one to get down toward where veteran pitcher LaTroy Hawkins was shagging balls during batting practice. Once he fielded a ball, I asked him if he could toss one up. He looked in my direction, and launched it in my direction from about 40-60 feet away.
I moved a few steps to my left, and made the easy one handed catch. Ball #1 was in the books, and you can see it on the left. Hawkins is circled in yellow in the photo on the left, which I took after moving to a better spot for autographs. Feel free to click on that picture, or any other ones in this entry to get a better look, even though some may be out of focus. Unfortunately for me, that would be the only thing I got during Mets batting practice. When they left the field, nobody stopped to sign, and then the Cardinals took over the field.
After the Cardinals took the field, I ran over to the third base side. Within five minutes of getting to my new spot down the third base line, someone yelled, "Heads up!" I looked up and around to see a line drive come flying into the seats, over the heads of several people that ducked to avoid getting hit. The ball bounced off a seat back about five rows directly behind me, popped up straight into the air, and I barely had to move from my spot while making the one hand catch with my back facing the field. I was actually sitting on the ledge between the stands and the field when I made the catch, and I had to push myself back up to avoid falling backwards onto the field. People actually applauded that catch, which surprised me. Maybe it was because it went straight into the glove, no bobble. I then asked who hit the ball, and a person decked out in Cardinals gear told me that it was probably Jon Jay, so I'll go with what he told me. That would be ball #2 on the day. I took the picture of the ball from the spot where I caught it, and this one is more in focus.
After trying, with no success, to get a toss-up from every single Cardinal that fielded a ball, left handed Matt Adams stepped into the cage. A few swings in, he hit a screaming line drive hooking toward the foul line. The ball hit the warning track dirt in fair territory, and was curving into the stands. Again, the girls standing next to me hit the deck to protect their faces. I saw the ball coming toward me, so I instinctively stuck out my glove, and watched the ball come flying right into my glove. When I tried to squeeze it shut, the ball popped out for a split second. However I got it back in my glove before it could fall to the dirt or any other fans could get their hands on it. Ball #3 was safely in my glove when I checked to see if it was still there. I took another, slightly out of focus, picture with ball #3 facing the infield where I caught it. That would be the last ball I got on the day. I got two balls during the Cardinals portion of BP in literally the exact same spot. I guess that it was the luck of the redbirds.
Shelby Miller emerged from the dugout and came over to the corner near the tarp and started signing for the fans. I tried my best to get into the scrum, but I was stuck in the third row, well out of Miller's arm reach. I slowly inched my way closer toward where Miller was signing, but I still wasn't close enough. Someone in the first row was offering to help get autographs for people that were further away. I handed him my ball and pen. No more than a minute later, I could see Miller signing my ball on the sweet spot with the pen I had just given the helpful person in the front row. I got the ball back, thanked the guy in the front for helping me out, then took the video of Miller signing that you can see below. You can see the signed ball at the bottom of this entry.
That would be the only autograph I got on the day. Miller has been great this year, and he actually writes out every letter of his name, which you don't see too often. I finally met my friend, who had unsuccessfully tried to snag a home run during batting practice, and he took the picture below.
The game was pretty bad from a Mets perspective as Jeremy Hefner imploded in the fifth inning, allowing five runs. Michael Wacha got his first career MLB win, leading the Cardinals past the New York Mets 9-2.
Shelby Miller signed ball:
Today's Baseballs: And the sweet spots:
That's all for another game at Citi Field. Thanks for Reading! Good luck Graphing!