Some people get mad at “ballhawks” and think that they are just taking balls away from others. Those who aren’t ballhawks think that they rip them out of small children’s hands, knock people over, or just get greedy and make too much of a commotion just to get one extra ball. When I was younger, when I wanted a ball so badly but never got one, I thought along these lines, or at the very least I thought that there were hundreds of people fighting over 1 ball. On April 14th, before the Twins took on the Rangers, Alex Burnett was having a heck of a time just GIVING this ball away.
It was a day game and so I tried to get down to the RF area where the Twins pitchers warm up. I knew that if I was going to have a chance at snagging a ball it’d have to come during their warm-ups, since BP isn’t taken before day games. I waited and waited, and surprisingly not very many people were showing up early. I don’t know if it was just the cold weather, but couple that with the season that had just happened in 2011 and you’ll get some very light crowds. As people started to gather around Matt Capps who was signing autographs, I hung on the outside (since I didn’t need anything signed). During that time Alex Burnett ended his warm-up tossing and started walking in to the dugout. Alex made it just to the corner of section 102/103 and looked around for a person to toss his ball to.
NO ONE WAS LOOKING AND NO ONE EVEN MADE AN ATTEMPT FOR THE BALL.
So being the only one that was witnessing what was happening (I was trying to let some little kid around me get the ball), I put my glove up and acknowledged him and just like that, ball #23 of my career, and already the 6th of 2012. These are the situations you look for, one-on-one with teh player just looking to get rid of the ball. It couldn’t have been easier. I was kind of ballhawking, but not actively, and I definitely did not take a ball away from anyone. I was the only person who paid attention and for that I was rewarded. Like I said before, I was even prepared to let some kid speak up for it and let them get a bright, warm smile on such a cold baseball day, but they were all too fixated on Matt Capps (which by no means is bad or wrong). So please, don’t think that all ballhawks are bad, and all the balls we get come from harassment of some sort.
My thanks go out to Alex Burnett. Thanks for offering up a souvenir like that. It really did make me happy. Also, thanks to Matt Capps and his crowd of fans, without that distraction I probably would be one ball short of where I am at now.