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The "Youngblood"

On August 4, 1982, Joel Youngblood made history, and I'm guessing he had a lot of fun doing it. Youngblood woke up in Chicago, Illinois as a member of the New York Mets. He started off his day playing a couple innings of baseball, making a few put outs in centerfield, and collecting a single off of future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins. (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN198208040.shtml). Shortlythereafter, Youngblood was pulled from the game, traded to the Montreal Expos, and hopped a plane to Philadelphia. Youngblood capped off his day playing a few more innings of baseball, making a few put outs in rightfield, and collecting a single against future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI198208040.shtml). With his seventh inning single, Youngblood became the only player in MLB history to collect a hit for two different teams in two different cities on the same day.

Years later, Youngblood's historic performance made me think. Hmm...

Zack Hample's book, The Baseball, concludes with a "ballhawking glossary" defining many terms that are commonly used by MyGameBalls.com members. While writing the book, Zack called on his blog readers for assistance. If you read his blog regularly, you might have submitted recommendations for words or phrases that should appear in his ballhawking glossary. Several years too late, I have come up with a new word that hopefully can become part of our collective lexicon: the "Youngblood."

I bet you can figure out what it means, eh?

Youngblood = the act of snagging at least one baseball at two different MLB stadiums in two different cities on the same day.

There are a couple ways this word can be used. For instance, while you are in the process of snagging a baseball at two different stadiums in two different cities on the same day, you're "Youngblooding." After you've succeeded, you have just "pulled a Youngblood." Or you can be more descriptive: "I just pulled a Baltimore-Philadelphia Youngblood."

Youngblooding is hard. For one thing, unless you are taking a strategically timed flight, there are only a few days all season that a Youngblood can be achieved. Scour the MLB schedules thoroughly and you will find that the (very few) baseball teams that are located close enough to each other that a Youngblood could be achieved (e.g., the Nationals and Orioles) are seldom home at the same time.

To achieve a Youngblood, you typically have to look for ballparks that are spaced out a bit, but are close enough to be drivable within an hour or two: DC-Philadelphia, Baltimore-Philadelphia, Philadelphia-New York, Los Angeles-Anaheim, Pittsburgh-Cleveland and Chicago-Milwaukee are a few decent options.

Still, it is not as simple as finding two of these teams both playing at home on the same day because, typically, when that happens both games will start at the same time. You really need to find a day when both teams are playing home games with one team starting its game at 1:05 and the other team starting its game at 7:05. Those circumstances coincide only a few days each season.

We have had two Youngblood opportunities and achieved it once.

In 2010, with no thought of Youngblooding, I had a goal of pulling a two-city, day-night doubleheader. I scouted it out and found our opportunity. On September 6, 2010, we saw the Mets and Nationals in DC. We snagged a long toss-up from Livan Hernandez during Nationals BP. Our goal was to attend a "doubleheader" so we stayed all 9-innings to witness the Nats beat the Mets. Then, we hopped in the car for a 2.5 hour drive to Philadelphia. BP was finished by the time we entered the stadium. We saw a great game (highlighted by a monster homerun by Mike "Not-Yet-Giancarlo" Stanton), but we were unable to complete the Youngblood -- it was the only game we were shut out in 2010. Had we left the game in DC early, we could have made it to Philadelphia for BP. That would have made Youngblooding much easier. But we are in it for the baseball, not just the baseballs.

The lesson: Youngblooding is easier if you don't care about actually watching the first game. On the other hand, it is much harder (and, in my opinion, more meaningful) if you make it a true day-night, two-city doubleheader. Of course, not even Joel Youngblood himself was able to do that. On May 7, 2011, we did another two-city, day-night doubleheader featuring a day game in Baltimore and a nightcap in Philadelphia. During the day game, Avi Miller was the big winner: he made a clean catch on Evan Longoria's first homerun of the season. We came away with three BP balls of our own. Again, we stuck it out for all nine innings in Baltimore. After the day game, we made the 2 hour drive to Philadelphia. I thought we'd catch the tail end of BP, but a traffic jam at the Pennsylvania state line put the kybosh on BP. If we were going to pull a Youngblood, it would have to happen during or after the game. Luckily, we had awesome seats right behind the 3B end of the 3B dugout. And it all fell into place in the top of the fifth inning. Alex Gonzalez squibbed a little foul ball to Braves 3B coach Brian Snitker. I popped up and called out "Hey, Brian!" He turned and made an easy underhand to us. As I squeezed down on the ball, it was a great feeling knowing that we had successfully pulled a Youngblood. Later, Brooks Conrad capped our great day by hooking us up with a post-game baseball.

So, there you go, a new term: Youngblooding.

Although it seems somewhat popular with some of the MyGameBalls.com members in Pittsburgh who frequently travel between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, it is generally a very rare occurrence. If you're looking for something new and fun to try, and you live in a location where it is possible, start scouring your MLB schedules and see if you can find an opportunity to pull a Youngblood of your own.

Editors Note: Mets-Yankees and Cubs-White Sox doubleheaders are encouraged, but they don't count in terms of pulling a Youngblood because they don't involve two-city travel. Sorry.

C & S is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.

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