I am thankful for many things, but in this post I will narrow them down to baseball-related gratitude.
- Friends made at the park.
- I am thankful for the community of folks that also call Target Field their “home field.” From Alex to David and James to Nate and even the “not a real ballhawk” Jared – no matter what happens, if we are having fun and enjoying a game at the same time, it’s fantastic doing so with people of the same hobby.
- To all the wonderful people who do not call Target Field their home, but welcomed me into their home, I salute each and every one of you.
- I got to hang out with some New York buds in Seattle (what?!), meet some McCovey Cove hawks outside of AT&T, hang out with a couple Oakland-area baseball enthusiasts, all in less than a week in April.
- Then I got to see the regulars of PNC, meet the die-hards who watch the (very bad 2017) Phillies in the rain, run around with the best bunch in the business in Baltimore, and share the stage with the Senior Ballhawk of the Year and his crew in Washington, DC, again, all in less than a week in May.
- Fast-forward to July and I am welcomed by Busch Stadium, reunite with my Atlanta brother (David W) at the newest ballpark in the league, and once again cross paths with the Senior Ballhawk of the Year, this time in St. Petersburg.
- For my penultimate adventure, a long “day-trip,” I stuck close to home and finally hawked with the legendary Milwaukee crew – Shawn being the ringleader and “brother from across the border.” Why did it take me so long to get over there? I’ve shortchanged myself of so many great experiences and bonds.
- And lastly, in September, I finally made it all the way to Great American Ball Park to catch up with an internet/video buddy-turned-IRL friend, Cole. But in a fitting twist, I also got to share this last adventure with a Target Field native, David F. Fun was had by all.
- And the crazy friends (probably mentioned above) that voted for me as Ballhawk of the Year on MyGameBalls. FOURTH PLACE! My best season will reward me with the best finish in personal history (and higher than I could have ever dreamed).
- The players/coaches/staff who gave me an undeserved amount of generosity.
- Eduardo Escobar with his 13 toss-ups (10 of which were game balls). I only saw the Twins play in 22 of the 32 games I went to, so to be generous to me 59% of the time is pretty incredible.
- The Twins Bat Boys for hooking me up 57 times this year. I especially appreciate the help you gave to me when it came to commemoratives used (Opening Day, Memorial Day, Fathers Day).
- Martin Prado for one of the most special/important “lone toss-ups by a player” in 2017 – the July 4th commemorative in St. Louis.
- Ender Inciarte was unknowningly clutch, since his foul ball found just the right spot. That ball was a SunTrust commemorative and is still cherished to this day. This was only my second foul ball ever snagged off the bat during the regular season.
- Gerardo Parra launched one right to me in the Target Field outfield. He also was kind enough to say a quick hello a few days later in Philly. It’s nice to be able to keep a home run ball I caught, but no complaints…
- Kennys Vargas. The Puerto Rican “Big Papi 2” hooked me up with 6 balls and a hat on the last game of the year at Target Field. His generosity has been incredible since catching his first home run. But the king is still…
- Trevor Plouffe. It kind of sucks that my massive year comes during his “year to forget” and his first away from the Twins. He’s still my favorite and I will cheer him on to the very end (which is a long ways out), so of course I had to visit his new home stadium(s) this year. While it may be over 2 years since I’ve caught a ball from him, the mementos I have at home from the past year are far more incredible. Let’s just say it was the year of the hands. Thank you, kind sir.
- And to the things that kept me safe and sane.
- Rental cars – thanks for taking me 12,769+ miles this year.
- Medical professionals for helping me out with my road trip ruiner (kidney stone) and a late season hurdle (broken wrist).
- Evelyn (my dog) was a trooper for joining me for 10,109+ of those miles on the road. She also keeps me sane by her companionship and by keeping me grounded.
- YOU! The readers, watchers, and listeners of my “stuff.” Thank you for reading this blog, for listening to my podcast (At The Gates), and/or viewing the YouTube videos I create. If you like the latter category, I’ve got something great for you…
My story of catching baseballs may be coming to a close (133 balls and 12 stadiums left), but let’s keep having fun until the very end.