I wont really bore you with the details of entering the stadium. At Kauffman the crowds are small, and Im always the first one in. Once I got inside as you can see there was batting practice. The weather was miserable, cold, wet, and breezy. I didnt expect batting practice to even be a thought in a baseball players mind on a day like this. But the Royals had it going. In the above picture you can see a baseball at the bottom of the photo. Yup. I didnt get it. In fact, I failed to get any baseball from any Royals player. Which kind of bummed me out. The thing I hate about this stadium the most ( well, actually two things ) is all the gates you cant cross to run behind home plate to get to the other side, and the high fences down the base lines. A ball has to be hit into the seats or close by to have a fighting chance to get it
My first baseball came from Juan Nieves. I think hes the White Sox bullpen coach, or the pitching coach. Im not sure which one. At this point I scampered all the way around the diamond, and waited patiently for him, and another player to get done throwing. I put my hands up, and patted my White Sox hat, and he generously tossed me a baseball. My first one of the day. The stress of losing my streak was put on the wayside once again. I stayed on the third base side, and waited for the White Sox pitchers to come out, and start throwing. The Royals of course continued to hit, and many baseballs were laced down the line towards me but way out of reach. Finally Coach Cox was walking down the line, and calling out “WhiteSox! WhiteSox!” Just so happened yours truely had on a WhiteSox hat! So I gave him a thumbs up, and chanted back! We had a fun back, and forth, and then he picked up a baseball on the track. Well, I was the only person with Chicago gear on. So I knew that baseball had my name all over it. People hollered to him for it, and I ran up, and I simple said this;
” Coach! I know youre not about to throw that baseball to a Royals fan when you got home town love standing right here.” Smiling, and nodding, I put my glove out. Ball number two was mine.
Now let me explain to you why Im at Kauffman Stadium for a Royals/Sox game. I drove three hours to watch a game between two teams that are probably going to finish in last place ( Royals ) and second to last place ( WhiteSox ). Well, Andruw Jones is a long time favorite of mine, and since he came to Chicago that has given me more of an opportunity to watch him play. Him, and Alex Rios of course. Well, I want to catch an Andruw Jones baseball. Jones is also close to hitting his 400th career home run. Wouldnt it be nice to be able to say I was the one that caught that ball? Well, unfortunalty, Jones didnt start at DH this game. But tomorrow was a new day.
As more, and more baseballs were hit down the line, the Sox trainer was scooping them up, and throwing them to the infield. He tossed one up to a Royals fan, he bobbled it, and it ended up back on the field. So I ran over within striking distance, and with my charming personality I said the following;
” Hey, as you can see the Royals fans cant catch! You know us boys from Chicago can! Toss it here!” Just then Andrew Jones got a hold of the ball, and he threw it to me. But he threw it way far to my left. I didnt even think it was going to cross over the railing, and Id seriously have to extend for this one. Well, I stretched out. My left foot extended to find the step. Nothing. I reached way to my left knowing that there was a father/son team with gloves. Stretch! Stretch! Stretch! Squeeze! Got it! What a grab, and I caught some applause as well from some fans behind me. I pointed at Andrew Jones, and tipped my hat while pointing to him with my gloved hand. He smiled, and jogged off.
That isnt the last of our friend Mr. Jones. Soon after I found myself near the Chicago bullpen. Alex Rios was smashing some screamers into the seats. I really wish I got up their sooner. He hit five homeruns into the stands, and I caught none of them because I was too focused on this.
I didnt get a single baseball thrown to me from the bullpen staff. Not one. He threw up six, but all to kids, and one girl. Anyway.
So I finally went to the centerfield seats to wait on Jones to take some BP. He was still lingering around in the outfield shagging baseballs. Rios was still putting them deep, and so was Paul Konerko. Jones was going all the way to the wall to make some catches, and fans were making their way down to him to get a baseball. So I hurried down there too. Not to get a ball, because I figured he would recognize me, and not hook me up again. Boy was I wrong. I got all the way to the corner near the Batters Eye, and I called to him.
” Andruw! How many homeruns do you need until 400?” I yelled. As soon as I finished what I was saying, a baseball was flipped up by Jones, it nearly grazed my face, and I had to kind of Matrix Style-lean back, and over the shoulder catch the ball. It really was graceful. I wish I had someone video taping that, or pictures. I didnt even expect it. I didnt even want the ball from him. I just wanted to ask him how close he was. MLB.com says he is three away. But I wanted to hear it from the horses mouth. So I got a ball out of it. Neat. I called to him again.
” Andruw! A couple more? Hey, when you hit it ill be there to catch it. Can I keep it?!” He smiled.
He nodded, waved at me, and smiled back. So that was ball number four. After batting practice I went, and found my seats behind the WhiteSox dugout. It was slim pickin`s there. The WhiteSox were greedy with the baseballs, and didnt toss a single ball into the stands.
After the game, I harassed the umpire for a ball, but he hooked up a kid instead. So I left that game with four baseballs. Not bad, I guess.
I got new shoes over the weekend as well. Maybe it was the shoes.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs. Chicago WhiteSox May 14th 2010 7:05pm
Game Balls: Four