For the better part of the afternoon, I watched the security guards fumble with the table at the gate…
….priorities, I tell ya. Today turned out to be a gloomy, raining, wet day at the ballpark. I bought the cheapest tickets possible ($26.00) which put my seats up in the 300 level of the stadium. I wanted to spend the majority of my time in The ‘Pen. Today’s goals seemed simple enough: snag a bunch of baseballs, get a picture with Dave Valle, get Jose Mota’s autograph and snag a home run ball during the game.
Being that it was Kyle Seager bobblehead night, I figured it would be a sold out game. It came close. 42,687 showed up and I’m assuming 3-5 thousand probably left after they got their bobbles because while I walked around the stadium, it didn’t feel like a capacity crowd. During batting practice, it wasn’t that bad. I snagged my bobblehead and glove tricked my first ball out of the bullpen. My second ball came by just leaning over the railing and picking it out of the bullpen after it was hit into there and rolled around for a little bit. I made my way across the seating bowl securing my third ball that I picked out of a cup holder (put there by an usher) and my fourth and fifth balls came bouncing into the stands; one on the third base side and one on the first base side.
After BP I set up near the Root Sports broadcast table and I waited and I waited and I waited some more for Dave Valle to show up. I checked his Twitter and found out that a new ice cream machine was placed up in the broadcast booth and I suspected that’s where Valle was at. Getting ice cream:
By then it was too late to run down to the Angels dugout to get Jose Mota’s autograph. My night was slowly falling apart. If you’ve never been to Safeco Field and have never experienced The ‘Pen (on College night or any other night for that matter) you aren’t missing much. It usually gets overly crowded full of drunk people and the music is so loud you can barely hear the person next to you. So after about the 2nd inning, I made my way up to my seat to watch the game from there…
…of course when I bought my ticket, I forgot to buy the one without the “obstructed view” warning.
I watched the game from my seat for a few innings and then I wandered the stadium. I actually got up close and personal with the new timer that was installed last year in all of the stadiums…
…and the premise behind this new addition is to attempt to speed the game up. Ever since Manfred took over from Selig as baseballs Commissioner, he’s been doing everything in his power to speed the game up. He’s told the players that they have to keep one foot in the batters box at all times and if they don’t they could receive a fine. Then they installed the timer which gives pitchers two minutes between innings to get ready. Now I’ve been hearing that intentional walks will be changing. The batter simply takes his base. Along with that, the umpires are enforcing shorter mound visits.
I understand that games can be long and lack action and excitement. The game I attended yesterday lasted over three hours. And I didn’t stay for the whole game, either. I don’t agree with changing these little things about the game. I don’t agree with the Manfred era of baseball. I don’t agree with the netting in front of the dugouts and down the first and third base lines in an attempt to “keep fans safe”. These rules where the catcher can’t block the plate and late slides into second base have become illegal take away so much from the game. I think there needs to be some level of fan accountability where the fans who attend games should have some reasonable expectation of a game that might last longer than anticipated. I also think that fans need to be more alert and provide safety measures for themselves instead of relying on Major League Baseball to keep 35,000 people safe. If you can’t stay alert during play or can’t stay off your cellphone for two minutes during a game, maybe the outfield seating is best for you.
Going into the ninth inning, the Mariners were holding on to the lead 7-6. Steve Cishek came in to close out the game and left a pitch over the plate for Albert Pujols. He hammered a 3-run home run and the Angels went on to win the game 9-7. Final.
Cishek later posted this one Twitter…
…he receieved plenty of support, there were still many nay-sayers. The Mariners have never really had a successful closer since I’ve been a fan. And I’ve been a fan since 1989.
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 121
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 9
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 343
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
Willie Bloomquist is one of my favorite players and when he announced his retirement it made me sort of sad. I was never able to get any memorabilia signed by him or meet him at any of the games while he was active on the field. But I’m happy he’s retired and doing the things he wants to do. He recently accepted a job with the front office with the Diamondbacks so there’s still a chance I can catch him at the ballpark to get something signed.
I recently connected with him on Twitter and asked him how retirement was going…
…seems like everything is going well at the moment.
The Angels were in town this weekend and I always try to make it out to the stadium to see them. Mainly I like heckling Albert Pujols because he seems to make it a point to ignore the fans. So whenever he takes his at-bats, I like to obnoxiously yell “Puuuujjjjoooolllls!”. On a positive note, I like to wave and cheer on Mike Trout because he always responds to his fans, and I like seeing that from him.
My girlfriend, Alexandra accompanied me for the game and we stopped at the Pyramid Ale House prior to game time. I ordered the beer battered fish, which by the way, was awesome but the service wasn’t so great…
…we’ve been here before and our last visit the service was sub-par as well. We both decided this would be our last visit here.
When I entered the stadium, I spotted my first baseball of the day on the ground near the Root Sports set up. Once the rest of the stadium opened up, I managed to find three more baseballs in the right and center field bleachers and one was hit my way and I was able to snag it on the carom.
Alexandra and I headed down to the Angels dugout and once at our seats, we found this stuck to the front of my seat:
Here’s a closer look at what it says:
This was the view from our seats during the game:
By the bottom of the fourth, the game was tied 1-1 until Nelson Cruz hit a high drive out of the park in the bottom half of the fifth. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Angels pitcher, Joe Smith walked Norichika Aoki and then literally tried to pick him off at first base several times. The crowd became extremely restless and then on about the sixth or seventh attempt, Mike Scioscia challenged the play:
It was the first time I’d ever witnessed a live challenge and so it was interesting to watch the umpires put on the headsets and watch the video over and over again. The call stood; Aoki was safe at first. It was still pretty cool to see.
The game had lasted well beyond three hours so we left after Robinson Cano belted a double into the gap. The Mariners had the lead at this point by one run. Steve Chisek would be in to close the game out and by the time I got home and checked the score, I learned he blew the save. The one thing I was happy about was the fact that Robinson Cano had extended my Beat The Streak game streak to 16 with his double to the gap. The Mariners losing in the 9th? Not so happy about that but it’s baseball.
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 120
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 4
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 339
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
Today marked the day of a new age. A new baseball season and a new way of life. Baseball is slowly turning into a glamorous shot of reality of shot clocks, smaller strike zones and over-priced foods that barely cater to our taste buds. My favorite players were slowly fading out while the new, young rookies quickly filled their void.
I watched Albert Pujols for about 25 minutes while sitting in the lower first base seating bowl after the Mariners had taken their hacks in the batting cage. He looked tired and ready to retire, to be honest. There he stood, barely following the routine stretches that the trainer was directing. Like he had been in the Major Leagues so long that he was above all of the stretching and running and conditioning. It was for the rookies, his face said.
Eventually he picked up a baseball and played catch with Erik Aybar for about five whole minutes…
…then he stood behind the batting cage and talked to Jay Buhner for nearly the rest of batting practice. He did get into the cage, though. Pujols took about six total swings never once putting one into the bleachers. He never interacted with any fans, signed any autographs or even acknowledged our fan-existence.
I reminisced with a friend of mine about the time when Pujols was playing with the St. Louis Cardinals. Him and Matt Holiday would crush during BP. It was when I visited Coors Field for the first time some time ago and I thought it was quite impressive. The two All-Stars on the Cardinals were really putting on a show.
Now the stark reality of old age and being a veteran icon sets in. No real need to show the youngsters that you can crush BP home runs. Mostly, no one is interested in you anymore. It’s all about the Mike Trouts and the Mike Moustakas, and the Clayton Kershaws. Take a seat, Pujols.
After shagging six baseballs from around the stadium, I found myself out in centerfield. Mariners games are always a lot of fun for me, and for many years I was always happy about the food. Recently, with the rising prices of everything within in the confines of the stadium, the flavor has diminished. Maybe the flavor had been removed to pay for the new shot clock out in centerfield.
I tried a slice of pizza like always. Satisfying; killed the hunger pains immediately. Then I tried what’s called a “Baconburg”. I asked the guy what exactly a baconburg was and he replied with, “It’s a hamburger with bacon…” Ohhhhh, okay. Thanks for clarifying, smartguy. The bun was stale, the mayo seemed old and the whole thing kind of fell apart in my hands. I was not impressed to say the least.
The game itself blew by. David Freese blasted a two-run home run to centerfield to a fan who couldn’t hold on for the catch but was rewarded with the baseball anyway. Two sections over from where I was sitting. McClendon talks a big game but it feels like the Mariners are picking up right where they left off from last season. Barely any run support for their ace on the mound…and the defense is trying.
Safeco is in a unique location in Seattle…
…because we always get awesome sunsets.
I have this buddy of mine in Milwaukee who chases down game home runs, right? His name is Shawn Bosman. Well, I’m headed to Chicago in September and him and I are going to hangout for like a week! I’m totally stoked about this trip, too. Here’s how the trip is going to play out. On September 13th, I’m going to fly out to Kansas City to partake in a little batting practice with some Kansas City Royals Alumni at Kauffman Stadium on the following day. I did this a few years ago and here’s a picture of me making a play on a fly ball in the outfield at Kauffman:
After I’m all done with that (I’ll be there from 8am-12pm) I’m jumping in the car and driving to St. Louis to watch a game at Busch Stadium. Originally this trip was just to go to Kansas City, do the batting practice thing, and come home. But then I was like, “hey, the Mariners are going to be playing in St. Louis that weekend!” So that’s how I ended up extending the trip more Eastward. After that, I’m back in the car heading towards Chicago. I’ll be in Chicago from the 16th roughly until the 21st. I’m visiting U.S Cellular Field first and then Wrigley. I’ve been to Wrigley Field once in my whole life. I went there in 2008 for a meet and greet that the Cubs put on. I met Lou Piniella and Allan Trammel among others, but never took pictures and never blogged about it. So I’m seriously excited to see the field again, and maybe sit in the Steve Bartman seat along with watching Shawn snag home run baseballs like this one:
After Chicago, I’m heading up to Miller Park with Shawn (since he’s from Milwaukee and since we are meeting in Chicago), why not head back to Milwaukee with him? I should be at Miller Park on the 22nd of September if everything goes right. And since it’s an 11:10am start time, it’ll give me plenty of time after the game to head to Target Field in Minnesota. It’s not a very far drive, either. I was sort of surprised. 467 miles. After that, I’m going to attempt to catch a flight out of Minnesota to return to Seattle to catch one last game of the season at Safeco Field on the 25th. I really wanted to start this trip in Colorado at Coors Field, but their schedule didn’t mesh with mine, so boo to the Rockies.
My day started out at the Pike Place Market:
And then I ran into Dave Coulier throwing fresh salmon around the market place…
…this weekend Dave was doing some standup in Kirkland at a comedy club. It was really cool to see him in person, too. If you have NO idea who Dave Coulier is, he’s the dude from Full House. It took me like, 2.5 seconds to recognize him from that show. Truly awesome! Before I headed to the stadium (which was literally right up the street from the Market) I stopped in for this tasty treat:
When I got to Safeco Field I met up with established book author Zack Hample. The man needs no introduction, all you have to do is Google his name and you’ll see who I’m talking about. And if you’re a regular reader of mine, you’ll know Zack and I hung out at Safeco two years ago when I went to Japan! Here we are hanging outside Safeco before the gates opened:
When the gates opened, Zack went his way and I went mine. Well, actually, I hung out on the “party porch” or the ‘Pen area and watched batting practice. A few baseballs came my way here and there but I pretty much let the crowd have their fun. More towards the end of BP, I started my search for some good food. The thing about the Mariners, the team has sucked for the last few years really bad so the staff have worked extremely hard to bring awesome food to the stadium. Like these:
I got them from Edgar’s Cantina. It’s a new addition to Safeco this year and I’m telling you, it’s well worth the visit. These little babies were $9.00 a haul but man, oh man, they were deeeeeelicious!!!
I hate that they ripped all the seats out this area. If you haven’t been to Safeco yet this season, I’m standing in the area where there used to be seats. Now it’s another standing room only area. It’s nice and all, but I hate standing all game long.
After I gobbled down some mini-taco thingies from Edgar’s, I scooted down to the ‘Pen to grab me a Pen dog! Take a look at this monster…
…It has all the fixings on it; cream cheese, mustard, ketchup, peppers…wow! Just full of flavor and a real treat! And a complimentary soda given out by the Mariners for being apart of the designated driver program? What could be better!
The Mariners put on quite a show to pull out the win. Carlos Peguero hit the third longest home run at Safeco and it sailed directly over my head:
Kyle Seager also went deep to add onto the Mariners 6-0 victory!
I took the above photo for two reasons. The first reason was to show just how awesome the new scoreboard in centerfield is. And the second reason is to point out Albert Pujols’ nasty cold sores!! EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!! If you don’t see them, look harder! They’re there!! How gross!!
Alright, anyway. Enough of that. As you know I’m still doing some awesome donations this year. I’m not catching baseballs for anything, sadly. Maybe next year, folks.
Bud Norris’ Charity; CandleLighters- 3 W and 16 strikeouts have raised $10 this season.
Seattle Mariners/Seattle Humane Society Charity; 9 wins have raised $9 this season.
Got a Twitter? Give me a follow!
Got a Facebook? Give me a like!
Want to read more blogs from me? Check out this blog!
Despite all my problems I’ve been having with my camera during the last couple of games I’ve attended at Safeco Field, I’ve been doing pretty good at snagging baseballs and keeping my numbers up. Today, there would be a new wrench thrown into my plans. Dustin Ackley bobble head night. It’s awesome that I’m here because this is Ackley’s very first bobble head night- despite him not even being in the lineup- and because I plan to auction it off for my charity, Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. If all goes well, I should be able to raise at least $50 bucks. I plan to auction some more signed baseballs off like the ones I auctioned off two months ago to continue to raise money for my charity, and that was very successful. I think I was able to raise like, $100 bucks. Even with all that going on, I took on another charity project called The Help Holly campaign. So far I’ve raised $14 bucks for her and today’s game would be the final game (unless I get word from my Dad who is donating money per baseball that I snag that he’d like to continue donating when I visit Angels Stadium early next week) in which I’ll be snagging baseballs to help raise money for Holly. It’s been a tremendous ride so far.
These bobble head nights really only attract the bandwagon fans. The attendance nearly doubles when the teams give these things away. Most people only come out to get the bobble head and then they go home. It’s sorta weird, but hey, everyone has their thing they do at the ballpark, right?
When I got to the stadium roughly three hours early, this was the site at the ticket windows:
I found it a little bit odd that Safeco was nearly a ghost town at 1:56pm on a Ackley bobble head night. As I turned the corner and headed to the center field gates and as another hour passed:
The crowd started to thicken up a little bit. But not by much. The above photo was taken at approximiatly 2:56pm. One hour and forty-four minutes before the gates were to open.
When the gates finally did open, the crowd was much, much bigger. And like always, with large capacity games, my options to start snagging baseballs had drastically changed. Safeco security had barricaded off the ‘Pen immediately to my right so I didn’t waste any time trying to get through there after I snagged my Ackley bobble head. I simply bolted for the right field bleachers. And for the first three minutes, I had the entire place to myself. Everyone was so stuck on getting their bobble head- and me being the first one inside- gave me such a head start on snagging baseballs, it wasn’t even funny.
Ball number one:
Ball number two:
Ball number three:
After plucking that one out of the seat, I tried to hand it off to a young girl that was scampering down the stairs with her father. But she totally ignored me and continued on her way. Later, I was able to hand it to her and her Dad pleasantly thanked me.
Ball number four:
Ball number five:
Ball number six:
And here’s what happened to ball number six:
Ball number seven was quickly snagged out of another cupholder and immediately tossed to the nearest kid with a glove which turned out to be my 50th baseball snagged this season. How amazing is that? On 5-22-2012, I was questioning whether I’d hit that small milestone in the second month of baseball and I absolutely did! And then I ran into this guy:
That’s Andrew. What’s totally awesome about this guy is; while I was walking around aisle after aisle snagging a 2012 season high of seven baseballs, he says to me, “Hey, man. I think I read your blog.” And of course, I really didn’t put two and two together initially, so I kind of just gave a friendly hello and left it at that. Then I got to thinking. Hey, this guy is the first person to actually recognize me at the stadium and mention my blog! I stopped what I was doing, got the picture taken and then handed a baseball off to him. How sweet is that, though? It’s nice to be recognized for something I have a lot of passion for; Andrew even explained how much of an animal lover he is. So that made it equally awesome. How did he find my blog? Him and a friend are planning a summer trip to some baseball games and wanted to know the ins and outs of some of the stadiums. My blog surfaced in their quest for information and there you have it!
After finding seven baseballs and giving three away, the real fun was about to start. Have you ever heard of the Long Haul Bombers?
These guys were making an appearance at Safeco Field before the game and it seemed like nobody knew about it until the last-minute. One of my friends in the GirlsCorner asked me if I knew who the Long Haul Bombers were and of course I had no clue. She led me into the upper deck in left field and told me to stand as far back as I could. Well, I didn’t snag anything, but these guys smashed some unbelievably long home runs! It was something to see for sure!
Here’s a pictures I tried to take of one of the softballs banking off the Hit it Here Cafe…
The red circle is where the softball is. Its up near the Hit it Here Cafe. That’s how far those guys were hitting them! As far as left field was concerned, they were able to reach the upper deck, no problem! I came close to snagging a couple, but it was so crowded, the only way to get one was for it to be hit right to you.
I survived yet another large capacity crowd and another chaotic giveaway night. Although, I didn’t stay for the game, I still count this as a game attended and my streak continues to 115 games with at least one baseball. According to MyGameballs.com, I’m currently tied for fourth in longest active streaks among the Ballhawking community with snagging at least one baseball per game that I’ve attended. I’ve come close a couple of times where I didn’t think I’d catch a baseball but it always seems to work out in the end. The most memorable game I attended where I didn’t snag a baseball until like, the ninth inning, was when I visited Oakland last year. Jason Phillips actually hooked me up with my 100th baseball that game, If you’re interested, you can read all about it, here.
I’m snagging baseballs for puppies again this season for the Seattle Humane Society! If you want to check out my charity information, just click here!
Last season, with the help of all of you, we were able to raise over $250 dollars! This year I’d like to break $300!
Today’s game snagging Highlights: Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 23,519
Baseballs snagged: seven (found all in RF bleachers)
Total baseballs snagged this season: 50
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised at this game: $14.28
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $96.70
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00
Total number of donors this season: 9
Total number of donors last season: 7
My last day at Angels Stadium of Anaheim. After almost catching two home runs yesterday in the left field seats I thought I’d try my luck in the right field seats tonight. Jim Thome wasn’t in the lineup last night so I was really hoping he’d be playing tonight.
I have two major complaints about Angels Stadium of Anaheim. My number one complaint is not being allowed behind the dugouts during batting practice unless I had a ticket for that section. That is the worst rule I’ve ever heard of. Some other stadiums like Great American Ballpark impose the same kinds of rules but its only for the first three rows. So it’s not as bad. I think US Cellular does the same thing. My second complaint is where they place the security tables. And they literally block the way into the stadium, and check bags at the last-minute. Its horrible. It cost me a ton of time and I was seriously frustrated with the whole thing. In the picture below check out where the tables are as opposed to where the entrance to the stadium is:
Pretty ridiculous, right? Yeah. Anyway. After the stadium allowed us entrance, and they moved the garbage cans so fans could enter the stadium, and I got my ticket scanned I immediately made a bee line for the outfield. I wasn’t going to fool around with this foul ball catching nonsense. I was after a home run ball today.
As soon as I got out there I didn’t have to wait long. Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo were taking some cuts and dropping some serious bombs in the outfield. Like yesterday most were landing in the bullpen and into the centerfield area. It would take a lucky bounce for one to reach me. Mark Trumbo stepped into the cage and sliced a liner into foul territory and I knew the next few were going to come my way. I had the entire front row in front of the bullpen to myself. I waited patiently and then as soon as he launched one my way I ran to my right. I lined up with the ball and I assumed it was going to take a bounce into the bullpen. All the baseball had to do as this point was bounce up to me. And sure enough…
I was so happy and so relieved at the same time that I caught that gem. Again all I wanted was one baseball per game here at Angels Stadium of Anaheim. I didn’t want to get greedy. But I was closing in on 200 lifetime baseballs. I just needed six more. More importantly I wanted to snag that milestone at Safeco Field. Which reminds me; I still need to get my 100th baseball signed by Jason Phillips. He threw it to me in the 8th inning at the Oakland Coliseum on 4-2-2011. That would be awesome if I could get him to throw me my 200th. I’d actually like my 200th to come from Felix Hernandez and my next game will be on August 17th. So maybe it will happen. I’ve also planned a trip to Sun Life stadium on the 23rd-25th. If everything goes my way that is.
After catching the Mark Trumbo home run ball I switched into my Twins gear and raced over to the first base side when the Twins started to emerge from the dugout to stretch and whatnot. I wanted to see if I could at least get some quality pictures of Jim Thome or maybe an autograph. When he came out I was able to get some decent pictures but like yesterday he totally ignored everyone on his way back to the dugout or the batting cage. Wherever he was headed.
For the last two days Jim Thome would come out, not look at the crowd as he walked by, stretched out in right field for a few minutes, and would run back towards the dugout. I think he seriously likes the attention. People pleaded with him for his autograph. They begged. Some ran with him in the stands as he ran along the warning track. The energy was amazing. Even Angels fans cheered for him. And I called out to him for the second time in as many days that I would be the guy that would catch his 600th career home run. I knew it wouldn’t happen though. And I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear me. Or maybe he did.
I waited around for some overthrows and came close to catching one when Glen Perkins nearly missed a throw from his throwing partner. Later he gave it to a fan that had asked moments before he got done playing catch. It was pretty slow on this side so I took some more pictures and headed back out to the outfield.
That’s how crowded the front row was.
The security guards at Angels Stadium of Anaheim did a good job of keeping baseball fans out of certain sections of the stadium. And for your information both my tickets cost nearly $40 bucks a piece. Paying that much to get into a stadium I feel I have an obligation to wander wherever I want to in a safe and professional manner. I wasn’t up to no-good or trying to harass other fans..I just wanted to see my favorite baseball players, catch some baseballs and maybe get an autograph or two. But I felt like a lower class citizen at this stadium because I didn’t spend a trillion dollars on a ticket behind the dugouts. I felt like asking for supervisor names and climbing the chain until I got some answers but what would that accomplish? Probably nothing. Maybe a whole lot. I never bothered to pursue it.
That’s the view of the area behind home plate. And see the security guard staring at me while I took the picture? Yeah, he asked for my ticket. I told him I already had it put away and I wasn’t going to show him. He told me I couldn’t have access to the area behind home plate-which I rudely cut him off and told him I wasn’t going down there anyway. I wonder sometimes where these security guards get their people skills.
When I got out to the outfield I decided to continue taking pictures.
When I went back to the bullpen to check out if I could snag any baseballs using the glove trick I saw this…
Do you think I got any of those baseballs? I sure didn’t. I waited around as long as I could but no one showed up to gather the baseballs up. I would’ve waited longer but I wasn’t sure if the Angels would use this bullpen or the Twins. I didn’t pay that close attention to who used which one yesterday. And since I still had my Twins hat on I didn’t want to ask an Angel baseball player for a baseball or vice versa. I pretty much gave up on them and walked out to right field to find my seat.
The game was awesome. Jim Thome was in the lineup and he did hit a home run to centerfield. One of the security guards got the baseball and promptly handed it off to a kid. So I had no shot at getting it. I thought about trying to trade for it with my Mark Trumbo home run baseball but I lost sight of the kid that had the baseball when I left the right field seats.
The Angels got a little payback despite the Thome home run. They won 7-1 with a Mark Trumbo bomb. It was a moonshot.
Goodbye Angels Stadium of Anaheim.
Game; August 4th 2011 Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $157.90 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $38.80 this
Now that I’m back traveling to different baseball stadiums around the United States my charity has picked up again. If you didn’t know or are just browsing my blogs and are interested in more information about my charity I will provide the links that you can click on to check it all out. But allow me to explain a little bit about it first before you get all click happy. I’ve been going to live baseball games ever since I was nine years old and my very first baseball game was at the Kingdome in Seattle in 1989. Since then I’ve always wanted to catch baseballs at stadiums. Well, growing up I never really got the opportunity to do so. But in 2004 things really changed for me. It was during my first tour of Iraq when I was in the Army and I came home on Rest and Relaxation leave for two weeks. My friends in Kansas City had tickets to a double-header Kansas City Royals game. I didn’t really catch the baseball but an usher/security guard hooked me up with one when she found out that I was home from Iraq. Later I got the baseball signed by some Royals baseball players.
Since then I’ve made it a priority to travel the United States to see baseball games at different stadiums I haven’t been to yet. I’ve been to Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, AT&T Park, PETCO Park, Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Coors Field, Kauffman Stadium, Busch Stadium, US Cellular, and Great American Ballpark. Last year was my first playoff game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. This year alone I have been to five new stadiums. PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Oakland Coliseum, Angels Stadium of Anaheim, and Coors Field. And if everything works out for me I plan to get to Sun Life Stadium AND Chase Field this year. And maybe one more round at AT&T Park. I love that stadium so much. I’d love to catch a ball out on the Cove too. So anyway. This year I wanted to do something extra special WHILE doing my thing at baseball stadiums. Since 2004 Ive snagged 194 baseballs over the course of the years and this year alone I have snagged a career high of 97. I hooked up with the Seattle Humane Society and I was like, “Hey, I snag baseballs at Major League baseball games. How about if I find people to make a pledge per ball that I catch and at the end of the year tally up all the pledges and donate a ton of money to you guys..?” And they were like, “Whoa Wayne, that sounds awesome! Sure! We’d love to support that!” And I was like, “Okay, cool! I’ll go buy a ticket to a game and get to work!” Well, so far I’ve raised $160.00. That might not seem like a lot of money but think about how much money you spend on YOUR dog every month. $160.00 of other people’s’ money goes a long way at an animal shelter. Plus all the other things I’m bringing down there. Blankets, cans of dog food that I’m buying with my own money, (and yes I’m pledging money to my own charity as well) and an assortment of toys too. So if you want to get on board here is the link you can click on. Click here. Also if you want to follow me on Twitter you can click here. And if you want to follow me on Facebook you can click here.
I put the next stadium on my list on my sights and headed out. I landed in Orange county California around 11am and took a $40 dollar cab ride to my hotel room. Just for your information, (and I normally don’t do this) but I stayed at a Motel 6 when I went to Coors Field on 5-27-2011 and it was probably the worst experience of my life. Not only did I have to pay $5.99 for internet that barely worked but people were constantly coming and going all throughout the night. The actual room itself had that lingering cigarette smoke smell which just made me sick every time I went inside. Well, I stayed at a Motel 6 again when I arrived in Anaheim. The room was a lot better but I still had to pay for internet. $2.99 this time. That’s not the worst part. I couldn’t check into my room until 3pm! I had one bag of luggage that I had to leave behind in some back room and then I took a $10 dollar cab ride to the nearest Denny’s. But Denny’s milkshakes always makes things better.
When Angels Stadium of Anaheim came into view I took this photo…
…it was a glorious sight. Angels Stadium of Anaheim. My first time being here. I expected it to be really hot but it was really just a cool 85 degrees. As I ventured on I started my exploration of the stadium. Did you know that this stadium was built in 1967? That is a ton of baseball history folks. Seriously.
Right field gates. The area surrounding the stadium reminded me of PETCO Park when I visited there on 6-24-2011. All the green palm trees and lush vegetation. It was almost like a theme park. Oh wait. Disney land is right up the road! No wonder!
When I walked further around the stadium I found the back entrance where the baseball players entered the stadium. Of course there was a small group of people asking for autographs and sharing stories of how they got their favorite player to sign. There is always a group of people like this at every stadium. But since there was so much dense vegetation hiding the players parking lot the autograph hounds had to get creative.
Pretty sweet, right? Maybe the plants are like that because so many autographs have been signed that either the players or the autograph seekers just naturally broke plant branches away. Or maybe the grounds crew trims the bushes like that. Who knows. I continued my walk around the stadium..
The giant halo statue. But that’s as close as I got to it. I continued my stroll around the stadium and ended up at the front office. The door was wide open so I walked inside to find the lovely secretary taking phone calls at the desk. We talked for a moment but she was entirely too busy to field any of my questions. Instead I took some photographs of the front office. Take a look…
…and here’s a staircase that leads to Angels heaven…
Before I left I made sure to ask the secretary for some rubber bands. I had forgotten some before I left Seattle and I was frantic about it. Rubber bands are key for the glove trick. I didn’t know what I’d be up against at Angels Stadium so I wanted to get my hands on some rubber bands before batting practice started. And whaddayaknow! She had some!
When I finally made it to will call to pick up my tickets I was so hot and tired, (mainly from lack of sleep) that I decided to pull up some bench and catch a cat nap. It was just after 12pm anyway so I had boat loads of time. I think I slept until about 3pm. I felt energized and ready to snag some baseballs! The stadium didn’t open for another two hours so I found a comfy spot by the gate, out of the sun, out of anyones’ way and just relaxed. Being in Anaheim for the first time was really cool. I still couldn’t believe I was here. I would consider moving down here but I think I’d miss Seattle too much. I love Safeco Field.
The front of the stadium looks just like a movie set from Hollywood. With all those oversized baseball bats and oversized baseballs it definitely had the Disneyland theme going on there. But it was unique in a way. It wasn’t like the other stadiums. Of course being built in 1967 how could it be like all the other new stadiums? I couldn’t wait to get inside!
Here is me, me and me standing outside the stadium…
Isn’t that just the best picture ever? My Dad made it for me. Well, I didn’t really come up with the idea until after I boarded the plane to head back to Seattle…and now I wish I would have done different poses to make it look cooler. But it’s still cool. My Dad, in my professional opinion, is a pro photographer. He really does some quality stuff and if you want to check it out all you have to do is click here.
After my nap and after clowning around with my camera it was time to enter the stadium. I was so stoked. I didn’t have a game plan because, well, I’ve never been here before. I thought about following the crowd. But the problem with that is from a baseball snagging standpoint you want to go where fewer people are. So whichever way they went I’d go the opposite way. When the gates opened at 5pm sharp I bolted for the turnstiles. The security guard scanned my ticket and the crowd took a hard left towards the first base side. I took mental note that the Angels were on the first base side. Why else would a mob of Angels fans go that way? So I took a hard right and raced down the concourse for an open tunnel to enter the field level area. As soon as I found one I darted in and raced towards the dugouts…but I was stopped by security. Great. What stupid rule does Angels Stadium impose on their fans today? The security guard asked for my ticket and I just knew I wasn’t allowed down by the dugouts unless I had a ticket for that section. Even during batting practice. I hate these rules. It’s so anti-fan. It makes baseball less fun. Why not allow all fans to wander the entire stadium? Who cares? I was told by security I could enter the field level seating area at section 130. I knew she was going to say something like that so I snatched my ticket back and ran away before she really could explain anything to me. I’d figure it out on my own if anything.
When I got out in right field Tyler Chatwood was fielding the majority of the baseballs. He never once looked up at anyone or paid anyone any attention. And he’d pass the baseball off to Fernando Rodney and he would throw the ball in.
The base walls were about 5 feet high so there would be no leaning over the wall and making an easy scoop. If I wanted a baseball I’d have to literally hang upside down to scoop one up. In the next picture take a look at how high the walls are here at Angels Stadium…
Not only the high walls a major problem but the bright sun was in my face. Any home run ball or any foul ball that came my way I’d have to look directly into the sun. But incidentally enough the bright sun actually helped me. An older gentleman came wandering over and stood on my right side. Bobby Cassevah continued his warm-up tosses to his throwing partner, and then as he finished up he fielded a ground ball that came his way. People were calling out to him and at that time I had on my Twins hat. I was kind of kicking myself for putting on the hat prematurely. But to Bobby Cassevah it made no difference. He tossed the baseball right to me but the glaring sun was so bright I just stuck my glove out, closed my eyes, and hoped it would make it to me. This was the result…
…it was stamped with a “practice” logo on it which meant it was made in China. Still pretty cool. I don’t think I have a baseball with that particular stamp on it. I do have plenty of “practice” baseballs though.
I decided to circle the stadium and take more photos now that the pressure was off of getting a baseball. I really only wanted one. Just to say I caught a baseball at Angels Stadium. Mission complete. I went out into the outfield to check out the action. It was dead except for a few Angels Stadium regulars. When the baseballs clear the outfield fence in centerfield there is a security guard by the name of Patrick. He collects them all up and hands them off to various Angels Stadium regulars. I tried to get one from him but since he didn’t know me it wasn’t going to happen.
There’s a picture of Patrick. Notice where he is walking too. When baseballs land on that area they really spring-board off of it and into the seats. It’s really a lot of fun to try to run them down after they bounce. And in the result of that I took a hard spill into the seats when Jim Thome sliced one my way. It landed about where Patrick is standing and bounced over my head. I leaned way to my right to try to catch it but I lost my footing and went down onto the seating row. It hurt so bad and I thought I had maybe bruised a rib or even cracked one. It turned out to be just a minor scratch that ended up turning into a major bruise. And I didn’t even get the baseball. That was one of the two things I wanted to do while in Anaheim. Catch a Jim Thome home run ball either from BP or during the game. Jim Thome has so much power. It was a lot of fun watching him drop bombs to both sides of the stadium.
I went back over to the first base side to watch some of the Twins warmup and maybe snag an overthrow or two. When I arrived the woman in the below picture got nailed by a foul ball and when Alex Burnett came over to see if she was okay she immediately asked for an autograph. I thought that was pretty funny. Alex took the time to sign a few and then wandered off to shag fly balls.
If I would have been there a few seconds earlier that would have been my second ball on the day. And I may have been able to save the woman from getting hit by a baseball too. As Alex was signing Mr Jim Thome came out to stretch and do his pre-game routine. I think he came out just to get a crowd reaction. And he got one alright. People were begging for his autograph. He never once looked at the crowd or responded to one request.
He didn’t stay out long and then it was back into the dugout. Having almost caught a baseball off his bat moments ago only made this moment that much more special for me. I even called out to him that I would be the guy that would catch his 600th career home run. How true that was? Probably not very. He’s not an everyday player anymore either. So it would be a miracle to see him hit number 600 while I was here in Anaheim. But that’s why I came out.
After batting practice ended I would usually fight my way down to the dugouts to try to get one more baseball. But since Angels Stadium decided that only fans with those tickets should be allowed by the dugouts I didn’t bother to even try. I probably could have made it but I still wanted to watch the game. Getting kicked out of the stadium before the game wasn’t my thing. I went and found my seat instead and waited for the game to start. When it did here was my view…
Front row seating in fair territory! There was no possible way I wouldn’t end up catching something while sitting here! I think it was about the third inning when Peter Bourjos launched a deep drive right to me. I stood up as soon as it was hit and I watched it reach its apex. I thought to myself, “Wow! Here it comes! My first home run ball!” But the baseball continued to climb and fall deeper and deeper. I knew it was going to go deeper than my row so I turned and started to climb the stairs after it. But at that time fans just poured out into the staircase in front of me and I was blocked by kids. I made a lame attempt at trying to catch it but it landed two or three rows farther back. I waited for the bounce but it was a clean catch made by the fan that caught it.
Around the fifth or six inning Denard Span launched one nearly in the same spot but it bounced out of the guys hands and landed down in the tunnel area where the on duty cop chased after it and gave it to the nearest fan. And after that the Angels made a pitching change. So I snapped this photo of Vernon Wells hanging out.
The Angels were absolutely stomped by the Twins. They lost 11-4 and Jim Thome wasn’t even on the roster. I have one more day in Anaheim so I hope I’ll get to see him play.
Game; August 3rd 2011 Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $156.85 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $38.50 this