Brandon League is new to Twitter. We all know that. League was asked during Seattle Mariners Fan Fest, which I attended, if he’d get a Twitter account. I wasn’t there when the question was asked but I could imagine League’s response. Maybe a quirky smile and an “I’ll think about it” response was probably not out of the question. Anyway, to make a long story short, the Mariners put on a contest through Twitter asking fans around the United States, and more importantly, Brandon League fans, to help Brandon come up with a Twitter handle. Well, yours truly won that contest. I tweeted a few Twitter handles that Brandon would possibly choose and lo and behold, Brandon picked “@BrandonLeague43!” The Mariners ultimately followed me on Twitter, @MLBwayneMLB, and sent me a DM explaining that I had won the contest! How cool is THAT?!
Soooooo we exchanged information, I waited by my mailbox for three weeks and finally this arrived…
…how freaking cool is that?! Here’s a close up of what Brandon put on the baseball:
And here’s the final tweet telling the world that I won the contest! BAM!
So there you have it, folks! What a great experience and thank you so much, Brandon, for the baseball! And thank you, Mariners, for the card! It’s very heart warming! I’ll see you all at the Safe!
Whenever fan fest rolls around in January I get super-stoked about baseball. In nearly a month catchers and pitchers will be reporting to their respective spring training headquarters. The best part about baseball is it starts in the spring time. The grass is starting to get that freshly cut smell, the weather is warming up and best of all summer is right around the corner.
Just to give you a little background on myself and my fan fest experiences, well, I’ve been to many. I’ve attended a Kansas City Royals fan fest where I was able to get Kevin Sietzers autograph and Brett Saberhagen as well. The thing about the Royals fan fest is it’s not really set up to be fan friendly. It’s all about the autographs. When you walk in you have to immediately pick a line to stand in for four hours and hope and pray that one of your favorite players will be signing in the line you have chosen. It’s all about luck. I’ve also attended the Cincinnati Reds fan fest. That was a little different but again, it’s all about what line you pick and how fast you get there. Same with the St. Louis Cardinals winter warmup event. Pick and line. Stand there.
Well, my friends. This year I attended the Seattle Mariners Fan Fest of 2012. If you’ve ever dreamt about attending a fan fest, this is the fan fest you need to attend. I’m serious. Not only do you get to shag fly balls in the outfield like this…
…but you also get to face Felix Hernandez in the visitors batting cage underneath the stadium:
Yes, I’ve had better at-bats, but when you’re facing the King it’s kind of hard to get on base (even in the batting cages).
The best part about the Mariners Fan Fest was the interaction with the players. Down by the Mariners dugout the Mariners put together a little event called the “Dugout Dialogue”. Certain players that came to the fan fest get brought out onto the stage to take questions from Rick Rizzs, Mike Blowers and Dave Valle. And then they open it up to the fans to ask them questions. A lot of the questions ranged from “whats your favorite food” to “who’s your favorite player growing up”. But what do you expect from cute little nine year old baseball fans. And that’s the beauty of it. After the event ends fans are encouraged to get autographs from their favorite players. Myself, I was able to get Miguel Olivo on a baseball bat, Jason Vargas signed my 200th baseball he tossed me last season and I got Dan Wilson and Mike Blowers on my ticket stubs. I was able to chat with Mike Blowers a little bit and talk with him about how I watched him play in the Kingdome back in the 90’s with my father and that I’d be taking a trip out to see the Mariners and Athletics in Japan this March. It was a lot of fun.
Here’s a couple of pictures I was able to get with a few favorites…
…the voice of the Mariners, Rick Rizzs…
…and the man in charge of all the tasty food at Safeco Field, Chef Jeremy.
As you can see so far, I had an amazing time. In fact, a lot of the players walked freely around the stadium (with security of course) talking with fans, helping with pitching mechanics in the bullpen and free hitting tips and advice. Casper Wells was one of those guys that was just walking around. A few of my friends at Safeco are die-hard Casper fans and they were able to get his attention. He walked over to them and they talked for a while and then good ‘ol Casper Wells delivers some hot coco to these lovely ladies!
Its one thing for a professional baseball player to walk over and sign a bunch of autographs and stuff but to actually interact like this with the fans? It’s truly remarkable!
That’s what fan fests is all about. Not just standing in line waiting for an autograph you may or may not get. That’s just my opinion though. We all have our special ways we like to connect with players.
During fan fest on Saturday the Stache Mob was more or less born. These ladies pictured below…
…drew funny little mustaches on their fingers for Brendan Ryan when he came up on stage for his portion of the dugout dialogue. Before things got started, they asked Brendan if he’d pose with them for a picture. He happily obliged them and said he’d get it done after the dialogue event. We all waiting in anticipation and unfortunately, the dialogue kind of went over in the time allotted and Ryan was carted off the stage by the Mariner staff. But. The awesome thing about Brendan Ryan is that he yelled to the group of ladies he’d get the picture done on Sunday . It made everyone feel pretty special that he was going to make it happen. And when Sunday rolled around? Brendan Ryan did not forget:
You can read all about how this unfolded in more detail in my other blog that I’ve created called; A View From the Bullpen.
Here are a few pictures from the Seattle Mariners dugout dialogue sessions…
There was so much to do and so much to see. Mariners Fan Fest would’ve easily lasted a week and probably still had people coming at the end. It was amazing to be able to walk on the field and play catch in the outfield with friends. It was awesome to connect with the players and ask questions. You know, to understand where they’re coming from and their stand point on issues and the seasons to come. It was fantastic! Even though I love to travel and experience different stadiums and events held by Major League Baseball, I think I’m sold on coming back to the Mariners Fan fest for years to come!
If you’ve ever been to Safeco Field, or Seattle for that matter, this was what I walked up to on a Sunday morning in August. The high would reach nearly 85 degrees probably around 2pm but when I took this picture it felt like a cool 55. Of course, Safeco Field is near the water front so this kind of weather made sense. It was also kids t-shirt day so getting to the ballpark early enough to beat the crowds was essential.
My Dad was attending this game with me so there will be a whole lot of pictures of me roaming the stadium looking for baseballs. It was kind of fun and the only thing I would change is to attend a game with him when there was batting practice. This being a Sunday game I wasn’t quite sure if they’d have batting practice or not and my chances of getting at least one baseball was on the line again. Before this game I was currently sitting at 89 consecutive baseball games attended and getting at least one baseball. Since I snagged my 100th baseball on the season, my 200th lifetime baseball and I’m also getting close to snagging my 100th baseball AT Safeco Field, it should would be awesome to snag a baseball in 100 consecutive games this season. I’d need to attend at least 10 more games for that to happen. Its pretty do-able. unfortunately, there are about 14 home games here at Safeco Field left…and I’m still trying to go see Sun Life Stadium in Florida this year.
Here’s me trying to act like the Mariner Moose:
When I got into the stadium at 10:40am there was very little going on. A couple of Mariners were playing long toss on the other side of the field and some Chicago Whitesox players were doing the same on their side of the stadium. Other than that…it was dead. Here’s a picture of the action:
Like I said. Totally dead. The batting practice equipment was not set up so batting practice would not happen. But the crowd was relatively light so I could safely assume I’d leave the ballpark with my consecutive game streak still in tact.
Here’s a picture of me looking through the Mariners bullpen courtesy of my Father:
He has this really cool camera so the pictures came out really good. If you want to check out more of his pictures just click here. He’s got some really awesome stuff.
Once the rest of the stadium opened up at ten after eleven I ran up the stairs that I talked about on 8-26-2011 here at Safeco Field, and made my way down into the lower seating bowl. I was greeted by security and was told there wouldn’t be any batting practice. Duh. First of all it was a Sunday. And really, it being a Sunday has very little to do with it. It’s actually the scheduled game time of 1:10pm that has everything to do with it. Especially if a game carries into extra innings or lasts like six hours they normally don’t have batting practice the following day. Only because the players want to sleep in. But like I’ve said before. I’ve been to Sunday, or rather, 1:10pm games before and batting practice was in full swing.
When I got down to the lower seating bowl Will Ohman of the Chicago Whitesox was out onto the field warming up. I had to say hi.
And then I tried to get the baseball from him:
With that stance, it was so ridiculous that I got Will Ohman to laugh. Not that he doesn’t ever laugh but it was just so silly of me. He ended up giving the baseball to two younger Mariner fans after he got them to ask for the baseball using the word “please”. I thought that was the right thing to do anyway.
After Will walked off the field that was it for a while. I walked to the opposite side of the stadium and waited on Chone Figgins to walk towards the dugout but then I saw that more Mariners were making their way out onto the field. If this was the time to get a baseball then this would be the time. Every Mariner pitcher was out on the grass tossing baseballs around. I could take my chances on an errant throw or I could just go for the old fashion toss-up. I weighted my options and tried for a toss-up from Jamey Wright and Brandon League.
As you can see Safeco Field was still quite a sight with that fog rolling in from the water front. It really made for good pictures. Like this one:
After Brandon League and Jamey Wright finished playing catch, Brandon League tossed the baseball into the right field bleachers. I was still looking for a toss-up from a Mariner pitcher but then I figured while I was looking for a toss-up I might as well play for an errant throw too. I tried to squeeze in on the first base wall but there were so many people waiting for autographs. I had to hang back for a while. But I had some time to kill.
I’m standing by the little kid in the Mariners jersey. I’m wearing the green shirt. I knew that since Tom Wilhelmsen and Dan Cortes were on the field things were going to happen for me. They’re two of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. But when Chance Ruffin finished up throwing and came over to sign autographs right in front of me I knew I had to make the ultimate decision; leave this spot or stay here and hope for an overthrow or a toss-up. The problem with staying put? I’d be fighting a HUGE crowd. So I carried on a short conversation with Chance, got his autograph and bailed.
The moment I started walking away, Tom Wilhelmsen finished up his game of catch. He came over to the end spot near the Mariners dugout and started signing autographs. He also had a baseball in his glove. He handed his glove off to the security guard so he could free up his hands to sign autographs and I patiently waited. I also took this photo:
I’m not sure if he just climbed over the railing and took up a spot on the dugout to sign or it was some kind of special signing day. Either way it was pretty awesome. I didn’t hear anything from the Mariners about Jamey Wright signing autographs but Jamey is a pretty awesome guy. I’m pretty sure he just jumped up there and started signing. Meanwhile, Tom finished up signing autographs, grabbed his glove,(and baseball) from the security guard and started walking towards the dugout. I had to call his name twice and when he looked at me I flapped my glove at him. He lobbed the baseball to me and I had to knock it down with my non-glove hand into my mitt to make that catch. He apologized but I reassured him that I’d of made the catch anyway and it was no problem. With that snag that is my 90th consecutive game with at least one baseball.
This was my view during the game:
While I was sitting there I narrowly missed a home run ball from Dayan Viciedo. It landed in the front row and the guy sitting there didn’t even have to move. He just stuck his glove out and made the catch. Had I been really paying attention? The second row behind him was clear, and all I had to do was manuever down there and stand behind him at the last-minute to make the catch. It ate me up at first but there was no sense in staying mad about it.
Here are a few pictures my Dad got while sitting behind me.
Yes, Guti was safe. In case you were wondering.
Yes, Guti caught the baseball. In case you were wondering that as well.
No, Trayvon Robinson did not catch this baseball. But it still made for an amazing picture.
And of course no blog entry would be complete without a picture of Mariners bullpen catcher, Jason Phillips, chillin` on the outfield wall.
Here’s a screenshot of myself and my Dad during the Dayan Viciedo home run:
The dude that caught the home run baseball is the fourth guy from the left. It actually was a pretty impressive snag for not having to move at all.
Game; August 28th 2011 Chicago WhiteSox vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $166.30 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $41.20 this
Before I get into the Mariners game I wanted to share something else with my readers. Its been some time and I actually considered blogging about my experience but it wasn’t really worth it in my eyes. I attended my very first Minor League baseball game at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett Washington on August 10th. That’s where the Everett AquaSox play if you aren’t familiar with MiLB. Anyway, I went with my Dad and when we arrived at the stadium this is the first thing I saw…
It was either a home run ball from last night or maybe a batting practice home run from earlier. Since I went into the stadium at 5:30pm I assumed it could have been a BP homer ball. I wasn’t sure if in the Minors the teams had BP or not…but later I found out from another fan that the AquaSox didn’t take BP before this particular game. So the baseball is undoubtably a home run baseball from the night prior. And yes of course I was able to get the baseball in the above picture.
If you’re wondering what an official MLB baseball is doing in an official MiLB baseball stadium it’s because the minor leaguers get hand-me-down baseballs when they’re too used for MLB standards. Not all of the baseballs they use are MLB baseballs though.
The picture above is me holding to my very first baseball ever snagged at a MiLB game. I really won’t go into the details of how the game went. The Aquasox got beat up pretty bad in the fifth allowing the Tri-City Dust Devils to score seven runs. My Dad and I left shortly after the seventh run was scored by the opposition and on my way out of the stadium I snagged two more baseballs; one of which I passed off to a kid with his mother as they too were exiting the stadium. The two baseballs I snagged were foul balls and both of them have the Official Ball Northwest League stamp on them.
When I got out onto the party deck in the ‘Pen at Safeco Field the area filled up pretty fast. Before I knew it I had some serious competition. There were lots of people my age, young, and athletic that had baseball gloves on. But that didn’t stop me from getting my first baseball on the day due to someone elses error. Jeff Gray was in the outfield playing pretty deep and he got a lot of baseballs hit to him. It was only a matter of time when he would throw one up and when he did I would be right there to catch the bobble or the overthrow.
In the above photo I took of the party porch the guy in the light blue jersey with the red arrow over his head,(he didn’t really have that arrow over his head at the game) continued to call out to Jeff Gray who can barely be visible on the right side of the photo. You can see his glove. Gray finally acknowledged the requests for a baseball and at that moment when he fielded the next baseball he turned around to throw it into the crowd. I ran up and stood behind everyone waiting for a bobble or an overthrow. And of course Gray overthrew the entire crowd and I ended up catching the baseball. The guy in the light blue jersey back peddled into me causing a small collision but I held onto the baseball.
Brandon League has to be about the most awesome baseball player I’ve ever watched play the game. He’s hooked me up with a baseball before on 5-18-2011 at Safeco Field but I wanted another one from him. If you want to look at my complete list of all the players that have thrown me baseballs just click here. I was on the third base side when I got my first ball from League and that was pretty easy to catch. This time I was way up here…
…overlooking the bullpens and left field to be specific. That’s Brandon League fielding the baseball and this is the results:
Brandon League is on the right.
I went out to centerfield, or more like right center, and when I got out there I saw a ton of baseballs down in the gap. Well, maybe not a ton, more like five or six. I quickly put together my glove trick but I was abruptly stopped by security. He gave me the worst attitude and told me, “There ain’t no none of that around hurr!” and literally shoo-ed me out of the section. He then proceeded to climb down the ladder, retrieve all the baseballs and gave them all to kids. He’s the security guard I’m always complaining about that isn’t adult-friendly.
Kids have their whole lives to get baseballs. Why can’t these security guards be more selective of who they give baseballs to? And I’m pretty sure they aren’t supposed to be giving them away anyway. Most security guards that I talk to have told me they aren’t supposed to touch them. Anyway. I’ve ranted about these security guards so much in my blogs. I’ve battled them day in and day out at the stadiums. It’s always going to be like this and no matter how much or how little fans complain about them nothing will change.
I was hoping to get at least one more baseball to make it to 100 on the season. But after that incident with the security guard nothing else really happened. When the Blue Jays came out to stretch and throw the baseball around I did try to glove trick a baseball off the warning track. Jesse Litsch turned around and threw a baseball at my glove which knocked the sharpie out of it so I couldn’t get the baseball. He told me to stop because that was his “throwing ball”. Some fans were on my side and yelling at Jesse to just let me get it. But I stuck up for Jesse because I knew what he was talking about. He didn’t want me to have that specific baseball because it was used enough where he was comfortable throwing it. Some of the newer balls they practice with aren’t quite broke in enough. That helped the fans around me understand and they backed off Jesse. I think he appreciated that because he tossed a couple baseballs into the crowd to other people and not me. He did give me my sharpie back though.
The stadium was full of Jays fans…
The Mariners started to get beat up on pretty bad and by the fourth inning it was 0-4 Blue Jays. So I left. I couldn’t stand to see the Mariners lose on such a beautiful day in Seattle.
I’ve started a new blog too. Its called A View From the Bullpen. It’s really fun stuff to read. I’ve always wanted to blog kind of sarcastically about things that happen around the Major Leagues. You know, kind of give my “expert” opinion on crap? You understand, I’m sure of it.
Game; August 17th 2011 Toronto Blue Jays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $160.00 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $39.40 this
Game one of the the two game series versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim started today. I was pretty excited because I really like to watch Bobby Abreu play ball. He is such a diverse player. Its pretty unbelievable. And going into this game Abreu only needs two doubles to catch Lou Gehrig. The Iron Horse is 32nd all-time on the doubles list and Abreu is behind Todd Helton, and Ivan Rodriguez among active players on that list. To watch Abreu catch Gehrig at Safeco Field would be awesome.
Today wasn’t as disappointing as Monday’s game. When I ran inside I noticed I had forgotten to insert my USB card in my camera again. This would be the second time that has happened in the five years I’ve been running down baseballs. I think I should create my own list. How many times I can forget my USB card for my camera. I’m so far the only one I know. So I’m leading that list of all-time. Congratulations to me. What that means for you? This blog entry will have no pictures for you to look at and admire. And let me tell you; this was a good game to take lots of pictures.
My first baseball came after about ten minutes of waiting around for a home run ball to reach the centerfield bleachers. I started to walk through the bullpen area and some old dudes were calling out to Jack Wilson for a baseball. I kind of hap-hazardly posted up inbetween them thinking I had a chance if Jack Wilson could see me with my glove raised. He was also pre-occupied talking to some teammates and pump faked a throw a few times before he finally let loose. It was probably the easiest catch I have ever made. After that I lined up at the stairs and waited for the infamous horn to sound. When it did the race was on.
I was able to seek out one easter egg. Thats pretty decent since there were probably three total laying in the rows. My buddy Josh got the other two. You can check out his stats on www.mygameballs.com . Anyway. I played the hot corner for a little while but nothing really came my way. Torii Hunter sent a bullet towards Josh and I and I don’t think either one of us were in the right position to field in properly because it took a wicked bounce and deflected off both of our gloves. Somehow it ended up in left field and there was no helpful baseball player within reach to give us a little help. And of course you can’t rely on security guards to help out. They just stand there like mindless drones daydreaming of their dream shot of the day some unruley fan launches out onto the field so they can beat the ever living snot out of them. What a job, I tell you.
Inbetween batters I took the time to score Dan Haren’s autograph on my ticket stub. He has a very elegant signature and he even added his number too. I thought that was pretty awesome. After that I got Brandon League to toss me one, and I also caught a Brandon League overthrow that some kid missed. I do count that because no one had any possession of the baseball after the throw until I picked it up. I did, however, give it to the kid that missed it and he thanked me. I made sure to tell him I appreciated him saying thank you too. But if it were an adult that missed that throw I would have kept the ball. No doubt.
After BP ended I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed out to the outfield. I made the mistake of moving one section too far towards centerfield and I was promptly booted. The guard wasnt a jerk about it. He made a comment about upper management really beating down their backs about people sitting in sections they don’t have a ticket for. He told me I could come back around the 5th inning. So I met up with Josh and we sat more towards the foul pole in the right field seats. We had a good time watching other people get the boot closer to the foul pole. The guard over there acted like she enjoyed kicking people out. And she kicked A LOT of people out.
The Mariners beat the Angels 3-0 behind a Jason Vargas strong outing. He struck out nine batters in 7 innings and Brandon League recorded another save. ( 10 ) I hung around the bullpen area looking for an opportunity to either get another baseball or possibly a lineup card or something. But neither happened.
Hey, if you’re bored you should follow me on Twitter. My handle is @MLBwayneMLB. I tweet a lot about baseball and other stuff too. Plus, I’m on Facebook. Check me out here; https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Wayne-Peck/111399878936587.
Also to get involved in my charity project make sure you visit my charity page at Crowdrise.com. Just search for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. It will link you right to it. Thanks!
Game; May 18th 2011 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $30.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $12.75 this season