Tonight at Safeco Field was “Go Green Train Night”. I heard from the grapevine that these trains were a huge hit and very sought after. I knew I’d have to arrive at the stadium with my game face on and most importantly, I would have to be early. I even changed up my game plan a little and entered the stadium via rightfield. Here is what the giveaway looks like in case you have no idea what “Train Night” was all about.
Like I said. They’re absolutely loved and people came out to get one. Since there are actually eleven others this would make twelve. But I’m not sure if that completes the set. Probably not.
As soon as I entered the stadium security told us to walk. So everything went kind of in slow motion. Since I like to abide by the rules and not give security any reason to target me, I “walked”. Which cost me like, four baseballs. It was kind of frustrating at first but I still had an entire hour and a half left. I ran all the way to the other side of the stadium and posted up at my usual spot. Well, not my usual spot. But a spot that’s been working for me. I’d play the outfield more but it seems there are an equal amount of overthrows from players as there are home run balls hit into the stands. I’m just playing the odds or at least what’s been working.
The Tampa Bay Rays started to filter out onto the field and I figured if I didn’t get something hit to me I could always count on Jeremy Hellickson to toss me one. The last time I got a toss up from Hellickson was on my birthday at Kauffman Stadium last year. It took him two tries but eventually he got it to me. During BP Hellickson tossed up quite a few baseballs. He’s a great guy (not just for that). So anyway. As the Rays were coming out onto the field (I’m not sure who hit it) a sharply hit line drive was hit right at me. It took a few bounces on the grass, and another off the dirt and I was able to lean over the short padded wall and scoop it up. I could hear a couple players yelling “heads up!” like they always do and I also heard Jeremy Hellickson kind of give out a surprised “Whoa” when I scooped the ball up. The baseball hit me square in the palm of my glove. Not quite in the pocket and it literally jarred my shoulder back a little bit. I was a little surprised at 1.) I got my glove down in time and 2.) to have come up with the ball. Usually those sharply hit grounders would eat up a Major Leaguer let alone a guy like me reaching over the wall for it. There was no applauding like there was yesterday when I snagged that liner. But it was still fun. If you want you can read about the memorable snag here.
After that nothing else came my way. I tracked a few baseballs that were hit over my head into the seats but they were quickly scooped up my eager fans. I did get a few pictures of the Tampa Bay Rays as they came out onto the field. Take a look.
And then this guy walked out onto the field. He is my hero forever. And you will know why in a minute.
That’s Bobby Ramos. He is probably the most friendliest coach I’ve ever met. Not to go off on a tangent but one time at Busch Stadium I asked Coach Price, the pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds, for a baseball while he was setting up the bullpen after BP. There were a few baseballs lying around from batting practice and when I asked he abruptly told me no. It was a very unpleasant experience. But Bobby Ramos? He gives high fives, fist pumps, and handshakes to anyone and everyone that asks. He is very friendly and sociable. So if you’re ever at a Rays game and he walks by feel free to engage in some friendly back and forth. I told him he had a nice hat on and then pointed to my own Rays hat. He is also very loyal to Rays fans. The rest of the team was a little more reserved today and I think that had a lot to do with the loss yesterday.
Before the game started Mike McCreedy from Pearl Jam played the National Anthem. It was very good and earlier when I was outside waiting to come inside the stadium he was doing a sound check. It sounded just like Slash when he did the National Anthem last year at Dodger Stadium. Of course I couldn’t get close enough to take some quality pictures because security does what they can to keep me out of the sections I don’t have a ticket for. So I had to get creative. Here’s what you get.
I spent nearly the entire game down in the bullpen area. I stood behind the Rays bullpen because I figured if I was going to get a baseball from someone it would have to be from the Rays. Right? Well, not only was I hoping to get another baseball but I was also hoping I’d get a home run baseball. I think it was during the fifth inning when Miguel Olivo hit a deep drive that landed right into the Rays bullpen. I was hoping that the baseball would bounce off the facade that hung over the players on the bullpen bench but no such luck. If that would have happened, (which I’ve seen many times during BP) the baseball would have shot back into the bullpen area where all the fans stood like a bullet and it would have been every man for himself. But the ball did not do any of that. It landed on the grass and died. No bounce. No nothing. It just stopped. And the one man I was praying wouldn’t pick it up….picked it up. Mr. Juan Cruz. He’s a relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays and it seems he has a very negative attiude.
Now I dont want to pass any judgement but I was at a Royals game one time during the summer when the Tampa Bay Rays where playing at Kauffman Stadium, Juan had graciously tossed a baseball up to some fans. Well, an adult ended up with the baseball and I think Juan was trying to get it to a kid. The kid he was trying to throw it to already had six baseballs. The guy that caught the baseball was trying to communicate that to Juan but Juan wasn’t having any of it. He insisted that the guy hand the baseball over to the kid. He was a real jerk about it and that was my lasting memory of Juan Cruz. Fast forward to now. Cruz holding the ball and taunting the Seattle fans with it. It was pretty funny and I knew Juan wasn’t going to throw it to anyone. In fact he just tossed it down the stairs that led out to the outfield from the bullpen. It made my stomach turn that the home run ball was that close yet so far away. Finally the police officer that patrolled the bullpen picked the ball off the stairs and handed it to a kid.
Around the eight inning Bobby Ramos was coming back into the bullpen after playing catch with Sam Fuld. He placed his glove on the stair railing and walked towards the fans with the two baseballs. I knew he was going to throw them to us but to who? And where? I had to be ready. He tossed one to my way right which was way out of reach. And then he tossed one high and to my left. I reached way out and snagged it on my tippy toes. It was awesome. Bobby Ramos hooking up the fans during the game. Quick game note; he also hooked up my buddy Josh that goes to every game I go to. If you want, you can check out his www.mygameballs.com stats here. He has a really awesome picture of him with Zach Britton. You know, the guy I tweeted with a few games ago? Yeah, that guy. Anyway. So This guy turns to Josh and apparently asked if he could have the baseball that I caught. The guy inquired if Josh and I were friends and Josh told him yes. The guy was pretty persistant and made a big stink about Josh and I ganging up on the bullpen to snag two baseballs and we should show the love. Josh just pointed out that he should bring a glove next time.
Game; June 3rd 2011 Tampa BayRays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $62.25 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $26.25 this