Mac Swoger and his buddies sit on the lawn at Regions Field.
Eaglery waiting and watching.
Gloves on their hands, eyes locked on that precious, five ounce ball covered in leather, held together by 108 stiches.
Jack Lukens tells the tale of his foul ball, "The foul ball went to leftfield. Number 11 threw it up and I got."
Lukens was being modest. He had to run and dive to get it. But that's one way, the other is to catch it on the fly.
"First you got to judge on how well they've been hitting it," Swoger said. "You need to be able to see the exact spot where the ball is going to land.
"Sometimes you have to judge on how the angle of their bat is to know where it's going to come off the bat," Swoger added. "If that makes any sense."
Of course it does.
"On average, you're going to go through six or seven baseballs per every half inning," Ken Dunlap, the away team's clubhouse manager said. "Most of those are balls that simply go out of play, into foul territory."
A baseball is worth only about $7.00. But for some reason, kids clamor over one another for possession of one.
"The kid that's out there hustling, running around on the grass, teaming up with other kids," Dunlap said. "One kid is going to get the ball and the other kid has to knock him down."
The big league Chicago White Sox split the cost of baseballs with the Barons. Over a 70-game home schedule, the Barons will fork out about $35,000 in balls alone.
That's a lump out of the wallet, and sometimes on the forehead.
"I was down there trying to get the ball and the next thing you know and it hit me right (on the forehead), like this," Noah Payne said. "It really hurt. I've had worse. I've blacked out from a baseball to the head."
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