So I was supposed to go to Great American BallPark on Thursday, and stay through Sunday. I had to cancel two out of those four games due to some college home work that I desperatly needed to catch up on. I am happy to report that I am pulling all As in all of my classes. But I had one class that needed some extra attention so thats the reason I wasnt at GABP on Thursday or Friday. I did get everything caught up, and I made it for Saturdays game, and Sundays game.
I arrived at my hotel room in Mason Ohio around 2pm. I checked in, and checked out my room for a few minutes, got something to eat, and drink, and started out towards the ball park. It was warm. So I knew it would be hot inside the stadium. Good thing for shorts, and a light t-shirt. I dawned my Houston Astros hat, and I arrived at the stadium. Great American has the same rules as Kauffman regarding the times the gates open. 1 1/2 hours before game time. So today the gates were going to open at 5:40. What I didnt expect was a full house. Should I have expected a near sold out crowd? The Reds were in first place, and they were playing very good baseball. They crushed the Astros the night before so why wouldnt GABP sell out tonight? Well, it nearly did. Not because of the aforementioned reasons though. BECAUSE IT WAS JOEY VOTTO FIGURINE NIGHT!! FIRST 20,000 FANS GETS ONE OF THESE!!
I kind of like the bobbleheads better. But whatever draws the crowds. Maybe Reds fans are easy to please. Who knows. Anyway. I didnt just run across this information on my own. As I approached the gates I read a flyer that was posted about a million times all over the stadium gates. READ IT, AND WEEP REDS FANS!!!
Can you believe that? The Joey Votto figurine ( well, actually 20,000 of them ) were lost in traffic! I wonder if the drivers used Mapquest or had a TomTom? Well, anyway. The Joey Votto figurine was not going to be given out tonight. But you wouldnt know that unless you got on Reds.com or actually came to the ball park. So 36,000+ were still going to show up.
So I continued around the ball park. I had plenty of time to kill. I wandered into the Reds Team store to have a look around. The air conditioned air felt good. It felt good to get out of the blistering heat. It wasnt too humid, but it was hot. The Reds are really pushing this 1990 World Series Champion thing. Ever since Redsfest theyve had all kinds of promotions for this new Hall of Fame exhibition for the 1990 World Series. I’ll have to admit. The Reds in 1990 were THE team. The Nasty boys? Larkin? Sabo? Sweet Lou? Yeah. Great team. So they have this giant 1990 WS trophy in the team store.
The team store is really unique. Its probably one of the better team stores Ive seen. Most are just filled with clothing racks, shelves full of stuff, and all kinds of memorabilia. Which is all aspects of things thats what a team store is supposed to have. But the Reds store has a little bit of history. They have signed jerseys on the wall by Hall of Famer Reds, and that huge trophy in the middle of the floor. Its pretty cool.
Once I left the team store I wandered around the stadium. For those of you that want Reds players autographs well I found your sport. Gate One. Thats where players from the Reds drive in. I walked in, and there was only one person standing there waiting for autographs. He told me that only two Reds have signed so far, ( Mike Leake, and Carlos Fisher ) and every player had already drove in except Miguel Cairo. Can you believe that? Only TWO players signed with ONE fan standing there waiting. ONE FAN! Wow.
Here are some more pictures from around the ball park.
See the Toyota Truck above the Reds logo? Well, if youre picked randomly you could have a chance to win that truck if a Reds player jacks a home run during the game. The catch? Yes. There is one. The home run ball has to hit one of the two strategically places signs that read ” hit it here” in the stadium for you to actually win the truck. Would a Reds player ever hit one of those signs with a home run ball? Not likely. They are placed so deep in the stands that it really would take a lot to hit the sign. Not saying it wouldnt happen though.
Joe Nuxhall. The Ol’ left hander. You know this guy pitched 2/3 of an inning for the Reds at the age of 15 in 1944? He later became an announcer for the Reds, and then passed away in 2007 due to cancer. They dedicated this gate to him. Season ticket holders meet here to enter the stadium two hours before game time. So in that thirty minutes before the rest of the fans enter theyre busy shagging fly balls, and harassing players for baseballs. Lucky!
So after my mini tour resumed I came to the main entrance of GABP. People were starting to show up so I went to stand in line. With the sun beating directly down on me I decided to retreat, and go wait at the Gappers Alley gates. Wise move. It seemed 20 degrees cooler on that side of the stadium. I waited for the gates to open, and I collected my Joey Votto figurine voucher upon entry. They gave us redeemable vouchers to get our Votto figurine after June 11th. I probably wont be back to GAPB so I just hung on to the voucher anyway. Maybe I could find some lucky Reds fan somewhere that didnt get one or wanted an extra figurine of Joey Votto.
It had been a year since Id had been to GABP. So when I came inside the stadium I was a little disoriented. I rushed down to the seating area, and I was quickly halted by ushers. Like five of these dudes were like ” Can we help you?!” All at the same time! It was so strange! I told them I was a huge Astros fan, and I was heading down to watch my favorite players throw the baseball around. Batting practice was in full swing so I ran down to the third base side to pull up my fair share of real estate. I will tell you this. If youre ever at GABP do not play the base lines. NOTHING came my way. NOTHING. Not one ball. Not even close. Not even within 10 feet. Barely anything went into the outfield bleachers. It was really pathetic. Batting practice ended, and I wasnt even on the score board yet. I asked a few Astros players for a ball, but they ignored me, and gave baseballs to Reds fans instead. I even asked Gustavo Chacin for a baseball in spanish as he walked by with one looking for a fan to give it to. He looked at me, and shook his head. Before that when he came out for warmup throws I tipped my hat to him, and told him to have a good game. He just kind of turned his back to me. What a jerk. He wasnt very nice to me at Busch stadium either when the Astros came to town there.
So I figured I would have a great chance to get a baseball from one of the position players when they came out 15 minutes before game time to warm up. Security guards were posted at the end of each row so I would have to interact with one to get a ball. So I walked down there.
” Excuse me. Can I stand here, and try to get a ball from of the the Astros players before the game starts? I wont be long, and Ill stay out of your way.” I said.
” Yeah. Sure. Just go find your seat after the players leave the field.” He said in an impatient tone.
Great. This guy was already in a bad mood, and I was in his little space bubble. After about five minutes of standing there I knew he was getting annoyed with me. Then Gapper, and Rosie Red came out, and they walked over to where I was standing. So now I was being pushed, and shoved up against the security guard by little kids. I stood my ground. I was nearly standing on my tippy toes not to brush up against this guy. It was hot. We were all breathing on each other. Kids were screaming, and yelling, and stepping all over me, and the guard. I knew he wouldnt tolerate this much longer, and as soon as the mascots left, and the kids backed off he looked square in my eyes, and told me to go find my seat. Simply put. There was no arguing. There was no pleading or begging. Just. Go. Find. Your. Seat.
My seats were the first row right behind the centerfielder. I figured Id have a great chance of getting a third out toss up, or a mid-inning warmup ball. Drew Stubbs, and Johnny Gomes played catch in between innings, and every time Gomes ended up with the ball. So by the sixth inning, I ran over to the left field bleachers thinking Gomes would end up with the baseball. Everytime he did he would toss it up into the seats. So I waited. Third out. Gomes came out to the field. I ran down the steps avoiding security. I planted against the railing, and on the last catch Stubbs ended up with the ball. Did he throw it back to Gomes? Of course not! Stubbs just so happened to throw it three feet to my left of MY SEAT I WAS JUST SITTING IN! AND WHATS WORSE IS THE GUY HE THREW IT TO DROPPED IT BACK ONTO THE FIELD! SO STUBBS HAD TO GET THE BALL AGAIN, AND HE JUST TOSSED IT INTO THE SEATS! I WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ANGRY!
But. You can not predict those things. Its all apart of the game. So I walked back to my seat in defeat. I didnt look around for who got the ball. I just enjoyed the rest of the game. Jay Bruce put two home runs into the right field bleachers. Ramon Hernandez hit two into the left field bleachers, and I think Miguel Cairo blasted one onto the batters eye grass. The Reds were winning like 12-1 by the eighth inning. My only chance to get a baseball at this point was from an umpire or the bullpen guys. The umpires are pretty much a guarantee at this stadium. The exit the field on the far left of the vistor bullpen, and they have to walk down these stairs that face the stands. So if you can get there first youll get a baseball. Umpires are kind of nice because its kind of like first come first serve. If you call to them, and ask nicely theyll hook you up. So thats what I did. By the top of the ninth the security guards all walk down to the bottom of the aisle, and sit down. The after the game ends they stand up, and face the stands. So I just followed one down to the end of the aisle, and before he sat down I sat down right behind him. Second row from the field. Perfect.
The ball game ended, and I stood up. I slinked into position, boxed out a few people, and waited on the umpire. He came walking as they always do. Head down. Hands in their pockets. I waited until he was within earshot. I held up my mit, and pointed to it. I smiled, and asked for a ball. Streak saved! Goodnight!
Game: Cincinnati Reds Vs Houston Astros May 29-2010 7:10pm.
Game Balls: One