Going into 2013, the only real reason I had to expect a “down year” was superstition. Odd-numbered years had proven to be my poorest, and to make matters worse, I considered 2012 my best season yet. How could I top my 2012 performance in 2013? The answer is quite simple: go out and not worry about silly things, once that ticket gets scanned, drop the outside world and get lost in those bleachers.
Long story short, 2013 was my best season ever. To say that I’m the only one responsible for the success would be a lie. All the friendships I’ve made and nurtured over this year were crucial to me. Life and it’s nonsense nearly broke me down this summer, but you guys all helped me keep going. Here are a few personalized thank yous to people I’ve met with face to face in 2013, to let you all know I appreciate you so much:
TONY VODA and PAUL KOM: What can I say about my neighbors to the Northwest? While I completely despise your ballpark and team’s staff, I have nothing but respect for you guys. While Target Field may not have been too hospitable, you both more than made up for what was lacking. Getting to know you guys this season was great, and getting to share the flag court with you guys on August 27th is a ballhawking memory I’ll *never* forget. Keep grinding away, and as Tony said, “don’t be a stranger!” Oh yeah, Paul… do you work at Little Caesars?
ERIKA, JAKE, BRYAN, DAVE, LARRY THE SECURITY GUY AND THE REST OF THE FRIDAY’S CREW: You guys are awesome putting up with my nonsense day in and day out. I know most of your coworkers don’t really enjoy my company but you guys bucked the trend and decided to be friendly. In a ballpark full of people who look down on me and try to hinder my hobby, you guys always put on a smiling face and provide me with the badly needed inside-the-ballpark friendship. I’ve got to stop in this winter and hang out a few times; the off season is too long to go without seeing my Fridays buddies!
KENNY KASTA: Kenny! My Chicago road trip buddy! While other ballhawks are busy dealing with life and the curveballs it has thrown them, you’re always at the ballpark plugging away. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have any of the fun Chicago has given me. Knowing that I’ll have a brother in the bleachers day in and day out makes it much easier to head back to the ballpark. Thanks for being a brother!
CASEY AND MATT: The Grafton crew! You guys weren’t around as much as I would have liked this season, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t still fun to ballhawk with. Casey, stop “Casey Ward-ing” people, and Matt, get out of the front row! Show up a little more in 2014, will you guys?
MATEO FISCHER: While our meeting was completely by chance, that Mothers’ Day in Chicago was enough for me to know that you’re nothing but a pleasure to ballhawk with. Good job on the pink ball and let’s get that YouTube partnership going this winter! Can’t wait to share the ballpark with you again!
DAVE DAVISON: Dave, it was awesome to ballhawk with you as much as I did. You’ve taught me one key thing this season that I think is probably the most important new thing I’ve learned: not giving a f***. You’re goofy and funny out in the bleachers, but when it’s business time, it’s business time. I used to care too much, after ballhawking with you, I now know the less I care, the better.
“RUBE BAKER,” NICK KLENCK AND THE WAVELAND CREW: You guys don’t know how lucky you are to be Chicago ballhawks! You guys go hard. I didn’t see you guys half-ass a single play this season. You guys taught me to bust my tail and try my best. Can’t wait to get back to Chicago in 2014 and run around with you dudes!
NICK YOHANEK: I can sum up your entire paragraph with one word: MENTOR. Thanks for your lightheartedness and guidance! There is a lot of your values instilled in me to this day. I don’t think I would be the ballhawk I am if it weren’t for you.
ERIK JABS AND ROBBIE SACUNAS: You dudes are pretty solid. It was a pleasure meeting both of you guys and being able to share the ballpark with you. Erik, you’re quiet but there isn’t anything wrong with that. Speak softly and carry a big (Cleveland) stick. Robbie, you’re goofy and I need to be more like you and say forget all the seriousness. That DBacks game was tons of fun and I can’t wait until you guys show me how PIT does it at PNC!
US CELLULAR FIELD: I love you. Will you marry me? But seriously, you’re my favorite.
WHOEVER WROTE THE “MYSTERY LETTER” ABOUT ME HURTING YOUR CHILDREN AT MILLER PARK: You’re a boldfaced liar and your motive was clearly jealousy. You chose to write a letter and claim that I pushed your two children over on national television. The only problem: it was supposed to have happened on national television. Are you stupid? Keep hiding behind anonymity because you’re too childish and jealous to admit your REAL problem with me. The best part is that I KNOW you’re someone who I sit with during the games. Just tell me already, won’t you?
YACOV STEINBERG: You’re up and coming, buddy. Don’t let anyone get in your way. Put in lots of hard work and time and you’ll be just fine. L’Chaim!
GARRETT MEYER: Not many ballhawks travel to spring training, so when I heard that I would see you down in Arizona I was so pumped! It was fun to see you learn the ropes and have great success in the Cactus League.
ZACK HAMPLE: It was good to see you again, and per usual, I got yelled at for your glove trickery a few days later!
LEIMING TANG: We only briefly met during the last game of the season, but you were warm and friendly. Can’t wait you share a ballpark with you again.
BRANDON NEDOMA AND TMART: Show up a little more, will you guys? And TMart, don’t hide!
JAKE STARCK; Welcome to the MKE Ballhawk club. So cool to become friends with you this season and see you in 2014!
CHRIS HERNANDEZ: We didn’t talk much, but we DID share the Miller Park bleachers earlier this season. It was great to have you here! I wish you could have felt the surprise in my heart when you said Miller Park “wasn’t that bad.” I have to disagree with you! I know you do a little bit of traveling, so if you’re ever in the area again, Chicago, Minneapolis, etc, let me know for sure! It was awesome meeting a NYC ballhawk and his quiet, shy girlfriend!
Lastly and most importantly, my family. Mom and pops. None of this would have been possible with out you guys! Love you so much!