I’ve been going back and forth on topics for a few entries lately, for fear of upsetting some people on mlblogs and elsewhere, but then I came across this article about that damn little girl that sued the Phillies for Ryan Howard’s 200th homerun ball and it really got me thinking.
Of course, this girl managed to get the ball by pure chance. At 12 years old, she could very well be a ballhawk, but I didn’t necessarily get that impression. She seemed to have just been in the right place at the right time. Sorry, girl, but you and your family were completely in the wrong to sue the Phillies organization for that ball. If you wanted to keep the ball, you should’ve kept the ball when the original deal was struck, whether or not you knew the monetary value of said ball. Apparently, it was only after her mother heard what had happened and heard the significance of the ball her daughter had unwittingly traded back to Howard that the lawyer was hired and the suit was filed. I’m sure it’s an amazing feeling to get a game-hit homerun ball. I’ve never gotten one, so I wouldn’t know. However, if it were me, knowing the importance of that ball, I’d give it back to Howard for whatever was offered. And quite honestly, baseballs like that one aren’t really worth all that much when you consider the kind of career Ryan Howard is likely to have. He’s going to hit far more valuable balls than that one in the years to come. It was greedy of that young girl and her family to sue for the ownership of that ball. Whatever sentimental value she may have of having caught it is nothing compared to the sentiment Ryan Howard has of achieving that personal career milestone.
That being said, I’ve been toying with writing about my disdain for ballhawks. Adult ballhawks, in particular. Having read that article, it got me thinking about it even more than I already have and I decided to just write it, no matter how many people may be offended.
Ballhawks are people that go to as many games in a season as possible, their favorite team’s, games of teams with ballparks in close proximity, games in cities in which they happen to be on vacation–whatever the circumstance, if there’s a baseball game going on, chances are, the ballhawks are there. These people, often times grown men from what I can discern from the many blogs they write on this fine website, enter the parks hours early to attend batting practice to catch fly balls in the stands. Basically, what this amounts to is running up and down rows of seats and loading up their backpacks with as many balls as they possibly can. They often change apparel and hats to accomodate for both teams so players think they’re actual fans of the team, thus getting balls tossed up to them during warm-ups and bullpen sessions. Sometimes they’ll steal balls out of the bullpen by lowering their gloves on a rope and pulling the balls back up. Then, during the game, no matter where their actual tickets are located, these ballhawks will saunter all over the outfield seats, depending on which field a batter favors, to attempt to catch homerun balls. In some cases, they linger in aisles or at tops of stairs in order to get a leg up on the people that actually paid for those seats just to load up their bags with more baseballs.
Here are my many problems with people like them.
How many baseballs does one actually need? There are actually tallying systems out there that these people use to assign points to each ball caught. Seriously? Get a life. Some of these guys have thousands. For what reason, other than unimpressive bragging rights? There are young kids that eagerly bring their gloves to games, hoping for any chance that a foul ball or homerun might be hit their way and then these douchers come barreling out of the concourse, 2 levels down and 46 sections away from where their actual seats are, only to take that chance away. Oh sure, sometimes they give balls away to these little kids, but apparently they bring decoys and switch out “important” game-used balls so as not to lose points in their precious ballhawking league.
Do they have any sort of team loyalty or is it more important to decieve the guys warming up for the opposing team just to get a couple extra balls in that backpack? I mean, I know people that like more than one team. I like teams other than the Brewers, but I don’t own any Phillies tshirts or Twins hats. And I certainly wouldn’t be caught wearing anything other than Brewers attire while attending a Brewers game. If I were watching, say, the Pirates warming up and I saw Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen tossing a ball around and I thought it would be cool if they threw it up my way when they were done, I’d just yell their names. I wouldn’t pretend to be a Pirates fan for 2 minutes so they’d pay more attention to me. That’s just dumb.
And do these people have jobs??? That’s my biggest qualm with ballhawks. Where the eff do they find the time to go to all these games? And not only that, but go early enough to catch batting practice? And not only go early enough to catch batting practice, but go to so many games on the road? We know they’re not selling these balls they catch, so where does all this money come from? Going to baseball games isn’t all that cheap, especially when you consider the amount of travelling they do and the sheer amount of apparel they have to buy for every team they see.
And what about families? If I personally knew a ballhawk, I would probably feel the need to hold an intervention. Baseball takes up a lot of any true fans time, sure, but a ballhawk? Man alive, that’s a lot of time to be spending at the ballpark! If my boyfriend or cousin or friend came home with a single ball, I’d be impressed, no doubt. If my boyfriend or cousin or friend came home with a backpack full of balls after every game, I’d say, “Dude, take it easy. You’ve got a problem.”
What bothers me the most is that it seems most of these people have this feeling of righteousness, like catching an inordinate amount of baseballs by way of deception, stealing (because, face it, that’s what the ‘glove trick’ really is) or diving in front of deserving young children is some sort of god-given talent. Anyone can do what they do, but it’s almost as if they choose not to realize that. I could get up and run halfway down my section for a chance to catch a ball, but I don’t because the ball doesn’t mean anything to me. I’d rather scream Ryan Braun’s name from the bleachers until I’m hoarse and finally have him half-heartedly wave at me than catch a foul ball.
But then again, I guess being a fan means different things to different people.
(Sorry about your ball, Ryan Howard.)