Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004. Show More
Going to Citi Field for Monday's Mets home opener? If you're a fan of the team, you hope to go home with a victory and some nice memories.
How cool would it be to go home with a foul ball, too? But that's just all about luck.
Or is it?
Turns out there's an app for that.
A company called IdealSeat has brought baseball's statistical revolution to the art of foul-ball catching.
IdealSeat has tracked thousands of foul balls since launching an app on ITunes in 2013. From the humble beginnings of providing heat maps with the best locations to catch a foul ball in six stadiums, including Citi Field, the company on Opening Day launched the service for all 30 major-league ballparks.
"The exciting thing that we've done with our new app release is that we've taken our data and our years of tracking foul balls, home runs, sun and shade, and other stats, and we built the first ticketing platform to help fans buy tickets based on these criteria," said Adam Navarrete, IdealSeat's chief marketing officer.
OK . . . but just who is it that tracks every single foul ball hit during an entire season at every big-league ballpark?
IdealSeat's research team manager is Erika Schaub, a 41-year-old Mets fan who lives in Port Jefferson with her husband and two children.
Tracking foul balls during Mets games is not Schaub's full-time job. She is a marketing manager for a different company. (And a captain in the Setauket fire department.)
Schaub and two others tracked all of the foul balls at Citi Field for the app, and two other team members did the same for Yankee Stadium.
"This is my outlet," said Schaub, who was an all-league lacrosse goalie at Ward Melville. "This is what's fun for me. I have a minor in statistics and my husband is a very big baseball fan. I consider myself an athlete. I love sports. That's what drives me.
"It's not your typical everyday job. I love the science behind it."
Schaub got involved with IdealSeat after seeing a Facebook post from former colleague Joel Carben, who created the app in Seattle with two of his friends. She started by blogging for the site, including a post about the 2013 All-Star Game Home Run Derby at Citi Field.
Of course, she told folks where the best spots were to catch a home run by David Wright during the derby.
"I was blogging and I said, 'If you guys want to catch a ball from Wright, you want to be in these sections,' " she said. "And I picked three sections. I didn't get to go to the Home Run Derby, but I watched it on TV and all his balls landed in sections that I had picked. I researched the data, I looked at it and looked to see where they were landing. I said, 'These are your best options.' And I was dead on. I was pretty impressed with myself."
In case you're wondering, IdealSeat says the best place to catch a foul ball at Yankee Stadium is Field Level section 112, which is down the first-base line.
At Citi Field, it's Field Level section 110, also down the first-base line. That makes sense because most hitters are righthanded and their late-swinging foul balls will head to the right side.
The other top locations at Yankee Stadium are sections 12 and 14, which are on the first-base side behind section 112, and sections 218 and 23, which are to the right of home plate.
At Citi Field, the other top-five hot spots are on the third-base side: sections 121, 123, 125 and 128.
Schaub has caught two foul balls herself at Citi Field, both in section 128, and is happy to dispense advice to friends about the best spot to snare a souvenir -- although there still is an element of luck involved.
"I have had people at Citi Field who say, 'I was really close. Thanks,' " Schaub said. "I have friends who go to the games and they call me up and say, 'Hey, where do I want to sit today?' I'll let them know what the data is trending toward."