Jay Jurkovich, 28, of Marquette forewent a couple extra hours of tailgating to stand in left field during batting practice.
No, he didn’t catch any balls from Tigers stars Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder, but he managed to snag a pregame home run from Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
“It’s a big family tradition,” Jurkovich said of the hopeful wait in the outfield. “We’ve got about 60 balls.”
Jurkovich was among hundreds of fans who raced to the outfield when the gates opened at 10:30 a.m. for Opening Day.
Jamie Foster, 31, and Justine Ball, 34, both of Windsor, have also grabbed a few batting practice balls in the past, but weren’t so lucky Thursday. They would’ve settled for one from a Red Sox player.
“A ball’s a ball,” said Foster, who was sporting a Fielder jersey he said he ordered two weeks after the Tigers signed the slugger.
The extra couple hours in the outfield allowed for some father and son bonding time for Chris Suisham, 40, of Clawson and his son, Chris Jr., of Royal Oak. Thursday’s game is their third Opening Day together, and Chris Jr. said he’s thrilled to be spending his spring break watching the Tigers.
“It’s awesome,” the 13-year-old said, “because we’re way better than the Red Sox.”
Neither of the Suishams seemed to upset to miss out on batting practice balls because the father said, “we’ve got a whole kitchen full.”
But what do people do with all the balls? Some said they keep them on display; others have a bucket in the garage.
Jurovich said he hopes to one day be the one hitting his collection of balls over a fence.
“Some day we’ll take all the balls out and hit them,” Jurkovich said. “We’re thinking Field of Dreams.”