Sunday, November 18, 2012

Inspectah On Deck: Bill Hall 2010 Topps Update

Section 36 often does posts about baseball cards. And of course any time I see a baseball photo I try to figure out what moment I'm looking at. The latest post showed us this:
Tough, right? Could be any time. But wait. It can't be that hard because Hall is wearing a red jersey. The Red Sox wear those on Fridays and special days. And since Friday games are usually at night, we've already narrowed this down. Home day game, red jerseys, 2010, as Hall was only a Socker for that one season. (The update set comes out in October, so pretty much the whole season is eligible.)

So I started going through all the days games from that year. Click on any date of the schedule on, and you're taken to a highlights page. Immediately you'll see a Red Sox player. If he's wearing a white top, throw the game out.

Like I thought, red jerseys for a day game was indeed rare. I narrowed it down to two games pretty quickly. (One game from the final weekend was thrown out because the game started with the fans by the third-base on deck circle already in shadows.) What it ultimately came down to was the fans. I watched the video highlights of the two games, and only one, July 4th, had that same exact group of people in those seats. Here's a still frame from the vid:

Here's a zoom of a few key people from that shot:

And now let's look at a close-up of that spot on the card:

You've got Glen Beck in the front with sunglasses, a greenish-shirted guy behind him, and to the right of them, the red, white, and blue Independence Day totem pole.

So that's definitely our game. Now let's look at Hall's at bats. He singled to left in the third, flied to deep center in the fourth, flied out to left center in the seventh, and walked in the ninth. You can throw out the ninth right away. The shadows were out onto the field at that point, as proven by the highlight videos. And if you watch the video of Beltre's fourth-inning double, you can see that the fans just a row or two behind the top row visible in the card are in shadow. Those shadows are out onto the field in the ninth. So for Hall's seventh inning at bat, those shadows would have to be covering at least some and maybe even all the fans behind him in the picture on the card. But everyone's in sun. You can also see the sun high in the sky reflecting in Bill's helmet. So that leaves the first two at bats. And that's as far as I can get for sure, though it really looks like he's hitting this ball to dead center (4th) as opposed to being out in front of it (3rd). (I took it one step further and watched each at bat, looking at the crowd in the background shots, and I still can't tell--and both pitches he hit were in the same exact location. See below.)

So, gun to my head, I'll say this is the bottom of the fourth inning at Fenway Park on July 4th, 2010 at approximately 2:45 p.m., with Bill Hall hitting a fly out to center field off of Brian Matusz on a 3-0 pitch, ending the inning, stranding runners at second and third, with the Orioles holding a 2-0 lead.

Here's the TV view of the exact moment:

And here's the other possible exact moment:

Too bad Bill didn't slide into third on the force that ended the bottom of the third or dive for the RBI grounder in the top of the 4th--maybe he'd have some dirt on his pants and we'd know for sure which at bat this was....

This is cool. I remember going to that game, and it was SO hot. In the 7th I moved around to the 1B grandstand. I took a bunch of pics of Hall's 9th inning at-bat, and it would have been cool to think I was taking the same pics (albeit from the opposite angle) as the card. My personal photographic ahievement that day was that I finally got a picture of Beltre swinging from one knee, which had been fascinating me all year.
I loved the knee-touch too. I thought maybe you were the one with the red hat in the Hall shot! Funny that you were kinda nearby at that moment.

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