How To Get A Ball At Coca-Cola Park
How To Get A Ball At Coca-Cola Park
by Malcolm MacMillan
- Ample areas to catch home runs
- Park size not conducive to snagging during BP
Like virtually all Triple-A stadiums, Coca-Cola Park is big enough to make snagging a ball before the gates open all but impossible. (At many smaller parks, doing so is easy.) So even though you’ll all but certainly enter the gates without a ball, you might be able to get one if you know where to look and how to increase your chances of success.
Try to get to the ballpark as early as possible so that you can be at the head of the line when the gates open an hour before first pitch. As soon as you enter Coca-Cola Park, there are several spots to check for balls, especially if batting practice took place before the game. (BP is rarely held before afternoon games or during bad weather.) When considering where to look first, be aware of any crowds already in the park. If there’s a group of people in a certain area, it’s unlikely you’ll find a ball near them. It’s always wise to check the rows of seats down the lines – Sections 119 and 120 on the third base side and sections 101 through 104 on the first base side. Occasionally, a foul ball hit during BP will find the seats and be missed by an usher. Additionally, take a look through the grass berm in left-center, the steps around the bullpen in left field and the standing-room deck between center field and the right field foul pole.
Once the players hit the field and begin playing catch and warming up, you’ve got a few options. While Minor League rules stipulate that a player is not allowed to give any balls to fans, a player might occasionally break the rule and toss you one. If a couple guys are playing catch near a fence and there aren’t any other fans in the area, stand nearby with your glove ready.
Although it can be exciting to get a ball during batting practice or have one tossed to you by a player, catching a home run or foul ball is likely something you’ll remember for a long time. If it’s a home run ball that you’re really after, spend the entire game beyond the outfield fence. Take notice of each player’s stats and the side of the plate he hits from. If a home run hitter bats right, go to the left field side of the grass berm when he hits. If a power lefty is at the plate, hang out in right field. The odds of catching (or running and retrieving) a home run ball are slight, but you give yourself a big helping hand if you know who’s batting and how often he hits home runs.
Catching a foul ball is almost as exciting as getting a home run ball, and Coca-Cola Park gives you numerous places to try your luck. A front-row seat in sections 104, 105, 119 and 120 puts you in a great spot to reach over and catch a rolling foul. Another spot to try is hanging out where the concourse opens up down each base line. Standing gives you the ability to move quickly to track a ball, and in these areas, you won’t have to worry about the overhang from the second deck. Foul pop-ups commonly land in the Club Level seats in the second deck, so you can’t go wrong sitting in one of the areas, either. And, as always, moving to a sparsely populated section means you’ll have less competition if a foul ball lands in the area.
After the game, move to the tunnels around the dugouts if you want to try some a couple autographs. Occasionally, a player walking toward the clubhouse will flip a ball to a fan, so if you’re in the right place at the right time, you’ll be in luck.
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