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All the rare pitching feats
occurring in the Major Leagues this season made me wonder what any good
ballhawk or baseball fan can’t help but contemplate: What connection do I have to history? I’ll share a few of
my ballhawking experience with you that closely link me to baseball history.
On May 29th of
2010, Denver native Harold Leroy Halladay, III, better known as
“Roy” or “Doc”, became the 20th pitcher in Major League baseball
history to throw a perfect game. That’s 27 men up, 27 men down… the minimum
amount of batters faced. The rare feat came against the Florida Marlins, one of
the leagues more formidable lineups.
Rewind to June of 2008. As a
younger ballhawk, I would identify opposing players and make my sole goal for
the series to obtain a toss up or batted ball from the individual player. When
the Toronto Blue Jays visited Miller Park,
I Roy Halladay found himself in my sights. While playing catch in the left field
corner, I politely notified Roy I
was his “biggest fan”. He had been one of my favorite pitchers for quite some
time. After throwing, he tossed his warm-up ball right to my extended glove,
and another fan promptly snatched said ball from my grasp. Disgusted, Roy searched for another baseball. Upon finding one, he
rocketed a strike right into my awaiting webbing. Mr. Halladay was even classy
enough to sign the ball for me.
When the Brewers squared off
against the Colorado Rockies to being the 2010 season, I was in attendance for
all three games. On day one, aces Yovani Gallardo and Ubaldo Jimenez took the rubber,
battling against each other in a gem of a game. Jimenez edged out Gallardo, lifting
the Rockpile above the Crew. The next day, I arrived rather early to the
ballpark. It was a rainy and bleak day; you didn’t see too many people outside.
When players arrive at Miller Park, they’re dropped off under the loading bay, out of
public view and past several security checkpoints. When the drunkards or those
without licenses arrive at Miller Park
via taxi, they’re dropped off on the other side of the stadium, near the ticket
windows. Thanks to some chance twist of luck, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge de la Rosa
and Manuel Corpas were dropped off in the general parking lot. Our paths
crossed, and I struck up a conversation with Ubaldo and company. Inside, Mr.
Jimenez must have remembered me, because he came right over and signed a (not
so beautiful) autograph for me and those accompanying me.
One of the reasons I love
ballhawking is you get to take home a piece of the game. The only feeling more
rewarding than actually throwing the perfect game or having a sub-1.00 ERA is
being able to hold in your hands a piece of memorabilia from those players
meant specifically for you, linking you to history. On the night of Halladay’s
perfect game, I broke out his tossup autographed ball and clutched it while
watching his highlights. The same goes for Jimenez’s baseball every time his
jaw-dropping 0.78 ERA flashes across SportCenter’s “bottom line”.
My dream as a child was to be the player shattering and resetting records. That may not have come true, but through ballhawking I still get my hands on and get to experience much more of the dream than anyone else can say they have.