I totally forgot about the start time of 6:10pm. Which meant I got a late start leaving for the stadium. Which meant Id be stuck in Saturday afternoon Seattle traffic. Which meant I probably wouldnt be the first one at the gates. Which would probably cost me a baseball or two. So that sucked.
When I got to the stadium no one was there at the right field gates. It was about 35 minutes until the gates opened and I was shocked. Usually there is a small crowd by now but not today. It was in fact Easter weekend. Maybe people had better things to do than attend Mariners batting practice.
When I ran inside Jaime Navarro and Michael Pineda were in right field shagging baseballs. They usually stick the rookies in right field during batting practice because the more experienced players or the players with more seniority dont have to deal with the fans as much. Thats something you probably didnt know. Anyway. As batting practice continued there were a few baseballs hit into right field but nothing close. And since Jaime Navarro was with Michael Pineda I knew it was going to be nearly impossible to get a baseball from those two. Im pretty sure Jaime Navarro hates me. Ive spoken to him quite a few times and I usually get the cold shoulder. Mainly because Ive been saying his name wrong. I really didnt think about that until I started poking through a Mariners program left on a seat in the outfield. Ive been calling him “Jamie” and his name is pronounced ” Hy-may”. ( spelled Jaime ) Maybe he will forget my face and let by-gones be by-gones.
So as the front row slowly started to fill up with would-be ball snaggers, I dont know who hit it, but the ball was sliced gently over to the front row but didnt quite have the distance or the momentum to make it to me. I reached for it and of course the security guard had to give his two cents.
” I can’t give it to you, man. Ill get in trouble.” He said.
” Yeah, I know.” I said back. But what I wanted to say was this; ” Yeah, I know. You cant touch or pick up any baseballs because youll get in trouble or get fired. But as soon as a five year old kid comes running down here youre free to do whatever you want with the baseball. Ive heard it all before, bud. You dont have to give me a line. You can just say ” I cant give baseballs to adults.”
Of course when JAIME Navarro came walking over towards it and I asked him for a little help and he graciously waved at the security guard to just give me the baseball. HA! But you could tell in his face that he didnt want to give me the baseball. He was actually cringing at the thought. I politely thanked him anyway and wandered out of the aisle to let the others have a go.
When I got to the other side of the stadium ( It felt like hours had passed going from one end to the other ) the Athletics were coming out onto the field to start warming up. I wanted to line up behind Jerry Blevins and Brad Ziegler to try and snag an overthrow. The crowd was light so I actually had many options of who to stand behind.
The problem, as you can see, was the dorky, red-headed, security guard standing there. ( No offense to Red-heads ) He’d probably get plunked first before I caught any overthrows from Blevins. Not only that, anything down the line he would surely stick his weak little foot out to stop it from going any further. Most of those security guards have good intentions..if they’d just stay home.
Once the pitchers completed their warmup tosses for the evening I headed up the line some more to get a better angle on Hideki Matsui. Here’s a picture of him before I got closer.
After I got down there it wasnt long before Kevin Kouzmanoff walked over and started signing autographs. I easily got him to sign my ticket stub for the game and I thanked him for the awesome game of catch the day prior. He happily obliged and we parted ways. Moments later Brad Ziegler came walking by towards the dugout so I chased him down for a quick picture as he signed autographs for fans.
I climbed over a few rows of seats to get around in front of the dugout. Brad Ziegler has a great charity foundation called Pasttime for Patriots and since Im a military veteran myself I thought it would be awesome to thank him for his foundation. So I did just that and he smiled warmly at me. I also had two Army wristbands that I got while in the service that I wanted to give to him but I knew he was kind of in a hurry to get into the clubhouse to get ready for the game. So I held off on giving them to him. I figured tomorrow would be a better day since its a Sunday game and the baseball players really dont do a whole lot before the game.
After I could get in all the social activities with the Athletics I could around the infield I headed out to the outfield for some action. Unfortunatly I seriously picked the wrong spot. I was literally surrounded by little kids. Even though I had on my Athletics hat I knew that any time one of the players tossed me a baseball I would have the ever nagging urge to want to make a kids day. I didnt have a problem with giving baseballs away to kids but I also wanted to get my numbers up for my charities. I also got a picture of one of my favorite players, David DeJesus, hanging out in right field.
Everytime a baseball was hit to David this little girl would scream at the top of her lungs that she needed a baseball and that this was her first baseball game and that she’s never, ever, ever, ever gotten a baseball before and that she absolutely needs a baseball. Of course her parent(s) were no where in sight. She was just a lone renegade on a mission to get a baseball. Well, David DeJesus FINALLY threw one up to us. Luckily for me I caught it and I pointed at him in thanks. He pointed back at me and then kind of waggled his finger as an instruction to give the baseball to one of the kids standing around me. I made the mistake of pointing to the little girl beside me. David nodded and waved his glove at me. So I handed the baseball to the little girl. It did shut her up for about five minutes..but no one received a thank you. The little girl ran back to her Mother or Aunt or whoever was watching her at the time and happily exclaimed that she got a baseball. ” Did you say thank you?” The parental figure asked. ” Yes!” The little girl stated.
Now enter little girls brother. Literally crying tears and leaning on the railing claiming he will never get a baseball while the parental figure tries to calm him down made me cringe. If I got another baseball It would be my duty to hook this little kid up with it. But I refused to give a child their way because theyre throwing a temper tantrum or crying or whatever. When I was growing up I never got what I wanted by doing such. So I wasnt going to condone that type of behavior and reward it by giving up the next baseball. And Jerry Blevins came over to help DeJesus out. So I knew he would be throwing a few baseballs up into the crowd.
Now everytime a baseball came out to right field I got to hear ” My brother needs a baseball!” “Give that one to my brother! He really needs a baseball!” ” No, dont throw it in this time! Give it to my brother! This is his first game he has ever been to! He needs that baseball!”
I wanted to tear my ears off. Seriously. Her high ear piercing shrieks were giving me a headache. But there was a really good chance I could get a ball from Blevins. And the opportunity finally came. Blevins fielded a slow roller near the wall and I called out to him.
” Jerry! Would you toss that one up please!” I called out to him. Jerry looked at me and gave me one of those Johnny Cool upnods and then turned to fire it at me. He feigned the throw and then turned to fire it towards the batting practice ball bucket that was at the top of the diamond. Then without hesitation he turned laughing and pointed at me.
“Here you go!” He yelled as he fired me a strike. The ball slapped into my glove and I quickly pocketed the baseball into my pullover pockets. Yeah, I felt bad about the kid that was still crying. But the thing is…he didnt have any baseball gear on, no glove, no Mariners hat, nothing. He just sat there with his head down crying. He was making absolutely no effort to get a baseball. So I did the next best thing. I told him where and how to get a baseball. I explained Chone Figgins little pre-game routine, and I told him that just because Mark McGwire cried doesnt mean you can cry. There is no crying in baseball.
Finally batting practice came to an end. I was utterly relieved. My head was still pounding from all of those kids screaming. Since it was military appreciate day at Safeco I wandered down to the Mariners dugout to snap some pictures. It was so busy with photographers, and fans alike in that area the security guards didnt even bother to run fans out.
Here are some pictures.
After the ceremony and the National Anthem were completed, Chone Figgins started to head off the field and I quickly jumped all over that opportunity. Since there were a ton of people down in front of me and I didnt have a whole lot of room to run to get his attention I just started jumping up and down in the row I was in. He threw the baseball high and way to the right of me. So I had to reach way across my body, and stretch way out over the row of seats to catch it. I dont know if he intended to throw it to me or someone behind me but I ended up with it anyway. All I heard was ” Catch it! Here it comes! Get it! Get it!” and then when I caught it all I heard was groans of disappointment.
I sat in the outfield and ate a small personal pan pizza from one of the pizza places in the outfield. Gross. I think it made me sick to my stomach. And to make things worse here was my view for the first 30 minutes of the game.
The view was pretty bad. The sun was right in my face and I thought to myself that this would be the time when I home run ball was hit right to me. The time when I couldnt see. Aside from that, some annoying Athletics fan would say swing everytime a Mariner player was at bat and a pitch was thrown from the Athletics. It was truly annoying. The Athletics won 9-1 anyway. So after about a few innings of trash talking between the swing guy and some other Mariner fans, the Mariner fans were forced to end their trash talk when the Athletics started raking hits off Jason Vargas.
Game; April 23rd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $9.60 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $6.00 this season.