The month of July has been a slow month for baseball mainly because of the All-star game. The Mariners have been on road trips since then. They came home for a four game set against the Texas Rangers but I missed out on all four games. I was able to get some time for the Tampa Bay Rays/Mariners series so this was my first game at Safeco Field in like a month.
When I got to the stadium I ran into this guy…
…and Ichiro Suzuki look-alike. He did the whole batting stance that Ichiro does and everything. It was quite impressive. When I got to the gates I had about twenty minutes to spare and there was already a small crowd. It was Seattle Super-Sonics appreciation night at Safeco so there were a lot of Sonics fans at the gates already. I think a lot of people had the impression they’d get autographs from their favorite Sonics. I had no intentions of participating in the Sonics thing. Even though I admired Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp growing up as a kid. There was a lot of negativity still fresh in my mind about Shawn Kemp and I was a little surprised he didn’t get boo-ed when he came out during the Sonics introductions. But it was a happy time. No need for boo-ing.
When I got inside the stadium I walked down into the center field “pen” area and got Felix Hernandez attention and got him to throw me the next baseball he scooped up. Unfortunately, he threw me a knuckleball and it died as soon as it reached its apex and fell short by about three feet. I’m not sure he did it on purpose or what. He didn’t even watch to see if I caught it or not. Which I didn’t. Luckily for me a nearby security guard saw the whole thing.
In the picture above you can see Felix standing with Jason Vargas. That’s how far he threw it. A knuckleball. Can you believe that? I was slightly upset because I have been trying to get a baseball from Felix all season and this was my second opportunity. My first came in the beginning of the year when he threw one up but another fan was able to swat it away and get it. I assume I’ll have another opportunity in the next month or so.
When the security guard came walking over I started to explain to him what had happened, (keeping in mind that he saw the whole thing) I politely asked if he could toss the baseball up to me. Just as I was explaining a young Mariners fan came running up with his hands out. I knew I wouldn’t get the ball and when the security guard handed the baseball to the kid the mother apologized to me. I laughed and told her it was no big deal.
You can see the two security guards in the teal t-shirts in the center field bleachers in the above photo. The one closest to the field is the one that denied me the Felix ball. There was another baseball sitting nearby as well and I asked for that one too but he ignored me. Whatever. As soon as I turned to seek other baseball snagging opportunities, Doug Fister scooped up a baseball and lobbed it into the crowd. Of course the baseball bounced off of three different hands and landed down into the center field gap. Time for the glove trick! And my first baseball of the day! YEAA-AH! Thank you, Dougie!
Once I reeled in my first baseball of the day I wandered the bullpen “pen” area. It was unusually packed…
I always make sure to check the bullpen for any loose baseballs when I come over here to stand in line. And when I looked I found one in the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen very close to the wall and well within reach. So I started to assemble my glove for the glove trick. While I was doing so this mother/son combo was watching me and started asking questions like, “What is all that for?” and “You’re going to try to get that baseball?” It turns out that she is the mother of Seth McClung. If you don’t know who Seth McClung is, click here. Her son really wanted a baseball too. I promised him that the next baseball I got I would hook him up with it. I told her my baseball snagging stats on the year and I also gave her one of my business cards for my Charity I have. She was very impressed and told me I was a “great guy”. I thought that was very nice of her. After I snagged my second baseball on the day out of the bullpen I stood in line at the stairs for about ten minutes and then raced down to the third base area. I was beat out by some older guy that was in a hurry to scoop up all the loose baseballs. I had to make a few comments to make him stop because there were like twelve baseballs lying around and he was getting every single one of them. He ended up tossing me one in the end, and I found another. I’m all for gathering as many up as a person could possibly hold…but there were other fans coming down as well. That’s why I told him to chill out.
While I was standing around waiting for Jeremy Hellickson to get done playing catch, I noticed a young fan trying to accomplish the same thing. The difference between him and me is that I don’t stand around holding these in plain view…
…I’m pretty sure the Rays players saw that and decided to throw the baseballs into the infield. Just as I was deciding on going back to hook up the young fan I promised a baseball I heard my name being called. It turns out that the fan I promised a baseball got his very own! I thought that was pretty awesome. It seems like every time I want to give a baseball to someone they end up getting one on their own. So I quit doing that. I used to give them to adults too but after I’ve been lied to so many times I decided the only people I’m going to give baseballs out to anymore are younger fans with a glove after the eight inning. I keep saying this though.
When BP ended I walked back down to the bullpen area to wait on a baseball I saw land their earlier. And when I got there this is what I saw…
…someone from the top deck of the stadium was lowering THEIR baseball grabbing device into the bullpen to snag this puppy. I decided that if security stopped him I’d go for it. But until then I’d let him have his fun. It would have been an easy snag for me too.
And finally! After #22 attempts, (yes I counted) he got the baseball. That was some serious height to be dealing with too. I was quite impressed.
I took a walk around the stadium and found the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame. The Mariners vendor staff recently lost Rick “peanut man” Kaminksi. The Mariners had put a brand new Hall of Fame memorial in there to remember Rick. I had to pay my respects. Rick had been slinging peanuts since I was a youngster going to games in the Kingdome with my Dad. So it meant a lot to visit that memorial.
It was a very sad day for sure. I never got any peanuts from Rick but I remember the commercial of him and Alvin Davis talking about drunk drivers in 1989. That was so long ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. You will be missed, Rick.
And of course I had to see the rest of the Hall of Fame while I was there.
And Jay Buhner.
After a walk-through of the M’s Hall of Fame I decided to try to sit out in the outfield for a home run ball. Dustin Ackley seems to be swinging the bat pretty well so I wanted to set myself up to snag one of his home runs. Here is my view from where I was able to sit…
Yes, I know. I played very deep but I had a clear aisle to my left which enabled me to run down both flights of stairs to reach the front row. This seemed like a very popular place for home runs to land anyway. Justin Smoak has hit the majority of his home runs in the sections to my left and right. Here’s my clear aisle to my left…
See the dude in the Ackley jersey? I took this picture just as he came into view and he sat down in that row too. And that got the security guards attention. I knew I was busted as she started asking for tickets so I saved her the time and left on my own instead of having to be asked to leave. What a racket. I had the perfect seat for a home run ball and that dopey fan ruined it for me. I spent the remainder of the game looking for a decent chair to sit in and I finally pulled up a spot in the Flying Cantina near the bullpen and watched the game from underneath the manual scoreboard. It was a horrible view, no chance to get a baseball, and the drunks were ruining my baseball experience. I held out until about the seventh inning and then went and stood behind home plate to finish watching the game from there. Of course with the Rays scoring eight runs in the second inning and running Erik Bedard out after that, the Mariners didn’t post one run in the game.
That was the crowd around the eighth inning. And you can also see some dopey fan getting tackled by security in shallow center field.
Game; July 29th 2011 Tampa Bay Rays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $152.65 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $37.30 this