Saturday. A disaster.
As I was standing on the third base side I kept calling to Randy Wolf, Jeff Suppan, and Carlos Villanueva for a baseball. I had a couple hard hit grounders hit towards my general area but I didnt want to step on anyones toes if they were going to go after them. Well, most of them ended up back on the field after they bounced off the wall.
Finally I got Randy Wolfs attention, and I asked him for a baseball that he had. After about five minutes of calling to him I was relieved that he started to pay attention to me. I had about fifteen minutes left on the clock before batting practice ended, and I wanted to at least come away with one baseball. So Randy Wolf fielded a couple, and tossed one in. He turned and held up the ball. I raised my glove, and readied for the throw. This is where I really needed to take a picture. Randy Wolf wasnt exactly close. He was nearly in left center. So he and I had quite the distance between us. But he fired one over to me anyway. Now let me paint this picture for you. I had a small child to my right which at this point is irrelevant. I had a guy about my age to my left, and his girlfriend to his left. I had a two parents with a four year old two rows up to my left. Im facing the field, and Wolf as the ball sailed my direction. Well, not exactly. The ball actually was going more towards the parents with the four year old. Was the ball intended for that kid? I doubt it. I was the only one screaming for a baseball. Plus I had Brewers gear on. I instantly turned, and half hurdled the row directly behind me to make the catch. So I was basically straddling the seats. I reached out, and I could barely feel the ball brush the end of my glove.
I really thought I had it. But it was such a terrible throw from Wolf. He is 4-5 with an ERA of over four. Anyway. The ball dropped down into the seats, and rolled right to me. I actually had to lunge for it because I could see other people scrambling for it. So in the process I busted up my rib cage, and chest against the seats. Which Im happy to report Im fine. But it still hurt. So once I returned to my area to shag anything else that came my way I was soon interupted by security.
” You need to give that baseball to the kid.” He said as he cleared his throat, and stepped beside me one row back.
I simply ignored his direction. I replayed the whole thing in my mind, and I realized that Randy Wolf had thrown the ball, and this little four year old boy tried to also catch the ball. The ball hit him right in the face. So as I looked back at the security guard I glanced to the kid that was crying. His mother was holding him. You know in that motherly love type of way.
” Sir, you need to give the baseball to the kid.” He said again.
” Listen, Im not trying to be the bad guy here but when a baseball is thrown into the seats by a player every fan gets one opportunity to catch the ball. If you miss the ball, or you bobble it, or you drop it thats it. If you cant get the ball back yourself, and some other fan gets it youre out of luck.” I explained.
” The ball was thrown to that little kid by the player.” The security guard said.
” Thats arguable, sir. The ball was throw to the FANS. It just so happened that the boy was in the path of where the ball was traveling. So was that fan, that fan, and that fan. I just so happened to end up with the baseball.” I said as I pointed out all the other fans that went after the ball too.
” Youre a nice guy.” He retored in a sarcastic manner.
” Sir, you dont have any authority to come down here, and dictate or moderate who gets what baseball. Its an unfortunate accident that the kid got hit in the face with the baseball. But that doesnt mean he automatically gets the baseball. It wasnt “thrown” to him either. I made 100% of the effort to get Randy Wolf to throw the ball in the first place. So technically by YOUR rules the ball belongs to me.” I said in a more heated tone.
” You need to leave the stadium.” The guard raised his voice to me.”
” Under what law? Under what regulation? Whats your reasoning? Because some unfortunate kid took a Randy Wolf change up to his grill? Im not leaving the stadium. You security guards need to find a real job!” I exclaimed back raising my voice as well.
He just stared at me. I stared at him right back. What bologna. Now Im on the black list on the third base side all because this kid took a baseball to his head. None of that was my fault, and no I wasnt going to GIVE that kid the baseball. Do you know how many baseballs Ive attempted to catch but misplayed them, and some other fan ended up with it? A lot. I never got some security guard to come down, and stick up for me. Maybe I didnt cry enough. Maybe my mommy wasnt there to cuddle me. Well, whatever. I left after that.
As I walked up the stairs to leave I rounded the corner to enter the main aisle. Guess who was there to intentionally back up, and run into me? My favorite security guard. I didnt realize it was him so I pardoned myself, and kept walking. Until I heard his annoying voice again.
” I hope youre leaving the stadium” He called after me.
” No, Im actually not leaving the stadium. You cant kick me out because I havent done anything wrong.” I said as I turned to walk back to him.
It was another stare down.
” Youre not….youre…well I cant say what I think of you…” He said, and turned around again.
” Youre out of line, and youre overstepping your job description. Usher people. Help people find their seats. Dont interfere with batting practice. Dont interfere with baseballs that come into the stands. You dont have any authority to tell people what they do with baseballs that they get. I wasnt the only person going after that ball. It just so happens I ended up with it. GET A REAL JOB.” I said as I hastly turned around, and left.
Ill be at the Sundays game because I already bought tickets, and I was sitting in foul ball heaven. But I think Ill have to play the first base side for the game, and possibly the rest of the month until this blows over.
Game; June 6th 2010 Milwaukee Brewers Vs St Louis Cardinals
Game two of the three game series between the Cincinnati Reds, and the St Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals won the first game of the series which created a first place tie. I was thoroughly excited to be at the stadium today to watch this game. The Reds have been playing awesome baseball, and I really wanted them to take first place back.
Once I got to the stadium I ran around to the left field gates to see if batting practice was going to take place. What I didnt expect was 1,000 D.A.R.E students to already be in the stadium. They filled the first base side seats, and were being given some kind of lecture about drugs. So I raced back to the third base side gates, and pulled up some real estate.
Once the gates opened I knew that any chance of finding an easter egg was out the window. In fact once I got inside, and saw that both base lines were lined with kids, and parents I knew this would be one of those days at the ballpark. I was able to squeeze my way inbetween some kids, and waited patiently for something to come down the line. I didnt have to wait long before most of the Reds were done warming up, and Jonny Gomes kind of hinted to me that he was going to toss me a baseball. I dont know what it was but after we made eye contact I kind of knew that he was looking for a Cincinnati fan to toss a ball to. I nodded to him slightly, and put up my glove to about chest high. He tossed me a gem, and I quickly thanked him. I was standing by an older woman that had two kids with her that was astonished that Gomes threw me that. Well, at least the streak stayed alive, and I didnt have to really fight for a baseball.
Batting practice actually ended early for a D.A.R.E police car parade around the baseball field.
The people down by the dugout at the bottom of the picture were trying to get Dusty Bakers autograph. Him, and Mike Leake walked over to sign some autographs for the fans. If you get inside the stadium early enough you can get yourself a spot by the dugout just like these fans are doing, and probably get some pretty good autographs from players. Most of them walk over by request, and sign.
The game was an absolute edge your seat, well played, amazing baseball game. Probably the best game I had seen all year. Also note that before the game Scott Rolen came over to sign autographs, and I hooked him up with “Good Luck Knucks”. What did Scott Rolen do? Two home runs, and a double for the evening. He did very well. If youve been keeping up on my blogs throughout the season I also gave “Good Luck Knucks” to Dan Uggla when the Marlins came to Busch Stadium, and he hit a home run as well. As the season continues I kind of put a fine tune on my Good Luck Knucks. You know like personal rules that make it so it works everytime. I should probably write up a blog entry about my Good Luck Knucks.
So the game was a success for the Reds. They won despite having Nick Masset on the mound for an inning. I will tell you something else about the Reds bullpen. Arthur Rhodes ( despite him not being very fan friendly ) he has became such an asset for the Reds. With an ERA of .43 he has held just about every batter hes faced this season at bay. I really enjoy watching him pitch. By winning this game against the Cardinals the Reds were now back in first place in the National League Central division. So tomorrows game would be even more important to win because that would allow the Reds to gain some ground on the Cardinals. Unfortunatly for the Reds, the Cardinals had Chris Carpenter on the mound against Sam LeCure. LeCure got called up because Homer Bailey is on the DL with some shoulder problems or something like that. So we shall see. I was desperatly trying to come up with a way to jinx Carpenter so hed have a bad game but I couldnt think of anything.
As the ninth inning neared I beat out security again to get a baseball from the home plate umpire, and I was successful again in doing so. There wasnt much competition for a baseball, and the home plate umpire put it right in my glove. How about that. I didnt even have to catch it. So I made out pretty well at Busch. Two baseballs, and a Reds win!
Game: Cincinnati Reds Vs St Louis Cardinals June 1st 2010 7:15pm.
Game Balls: Two
This is me. Relaxing, and getting into the zone at Busch Stadium. It was hot, and muggy. But I felt good. I was well hydrated, and ready for some foul ball action. As I waited for the gates to open I watched Arthur Rhodes walked right by me, and into the stadium. Most of the baseball players come in this entry door on Stan Musial Dr. Just for future reference if youre after a certain players autograph.
Just passed the memorabilia stand there is a set of double doors. They go in there. Anyway. So the gates finally opened up, and I raced down to the third base side. For some reason the players were slicing everything to the first base side. The majority of baseballs were going over there. I thought about going over there to shag foul balls, but I knew as soon as I did that they would start hitting them to the third base side. So I stood my ground. My decision paid off, and it wasnt just moments later when I hot ground ball came my way. I mean right to me. The ball took a nasty bounce, and hit me right in the wrist, and then trickled down into my glove but rolled out onto the dirt. I frantically grabbed for it, and reeled it in as other people were reaching for it. I usually field those pretty cleanly but this one kind of got away from me.
See the usher thats standing on the field? Usually he stands right in front of me. But not today for some reason. He didnt even stand remotely close to me. I also noted that he doesnt come out with his glove anymore, and he doesnt stop any ground balls that come towards the fans. It think upper management recieved a complaint that the ushers were interfering with batting practice too much. I would have to agree, and support the complaint or the decision to keep the ushers out of the way. Fans should know the risk theyre taking when they stand this close to the field during batting practice. In fact Ive seen more people hit by overthrows from players than actual baseballs off the bats.
It seems like I get more baseballs within the first two hours after the gates open when there isnt batting practice. Ive only been able to get one baseball during batting practice at Busch stadium, and Im really thinking I need to change up my strategy. I pretty much ignored the Reds as they warmed up, and a few overthrows happened but nothing went into the seats. I positioned myself behind Jonny Gomes, and his throwing partner to catch another overthrow while batting practice resumed. As I was standing there I ended up chatting with an older gentleman from Quad Cities Illinois. Him, and I talked probably the rest of batting practice, and I totally lost focus. But we were talking baseball. We agreed on a lot of topics like steroids, players salaries, what the players have to pay for, what they dont have to pay for, etc etc etc. I mean we talked it up. Before I knew it batting practice was over.
Before we parted ways he asked me where I was sitting, and I told him I had purchased cheap bleacher seats because I chase foul balls. He offered me the aisle seat in the row he was sitting at which was about four rows up from the field. They were awesome seats, and I got to sit there for free. I told him I had to have the aisle seat though. I explained my ball snagging stats, streaks, and just about everything else to help convince him to allow me to take the aisle seat. So I wanted to dedicate this blog entry to Charlie, and his wife Mary for allowing me the opportunity to sit with you both. Charlie is a Vietnam Veteran, and he shared something with me. He did four years in Vietnam with only a two week break somewhere in the middle of all of that. Can you believe that? Four years in combat with only a two week break. He also said he “sometimes” got weekends off. Wow. I thanked him for his service, and it really was a delight to sit next to him. Thanks again Charlie. I will see you in September!
Three foul balls came to my location. The first one was a hot chopper that bounced all over the place, and It was just out of reach as I ran to the railing. The second one ( if I would have stayed in my seat ) I would have easily grabbed. It took one bounce, and right between everyone sitting in front of me, and bounced right off my vacant seat. I was too busy running to the railing to snag it on the fly. The third, and final one rolled to the wall, and bounced off the wall which sent it rolling along the wall right to the ball boy. I didnt even get up to make an attempt. If I did I would have got that ball. I couldnt believe I didnt get up, and go get it!
So then this happened.
And then this started.
Thirty minutes later….
And guess what else? Scott Rolen still gives, and gets a lot of love in St. Louis.
So after making it through my third official rain delay of the season, mis-playing foul balls, and having an interesting conversation about baseball with Charlie I had to explain that I would leave these wonderful free seats for more baseballs. Charlie, and Mary were okay with that, and we made a deal to meet up again in September for the final series against the Reds. I was excited to meet such great people! So off I went to get one final baseball from the umpire.
I didnt waste any time. Security had their hands full with fans leaving so I took that opportunity to dart right through, and down into the large swarms of people. I could hear security calling to me but I ignored her. I quickly found a vacant seat, and slumped down in my seat. I broke out my cell phone, and pretended to make a call. Security of course came wandering down the steps to find me but I blended in. As the final out was recorded I quickly made my way to the umpire exit area, and got the home plate umpires attention. He tossed me a gem, and I was out of there. I didnt wait around for the bullpen players. I rarely have any luck with those guys anyway.
Superman was in town. Im not sure what kind of crisis was going on in down town St. Louis. But whatever it was Im sure he had it under control.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Cincinnati Reds May 31st 2010 3:10pm
Game Balls: Two
Okay so I seriously wasnt going to come to Busch Stadium today. It was raining all night, it was cold, and the weather was supposed to be bad all day. But when I checked Stubhub for tickets, I couldnt pass up these seats. I would be sitting right down where the umpires left the field, but 10 rows up all for a low, low price of $20 dollars. Someone was desperate to dump these seats. Well, Ill bite. Ill spend five miserable hours at Busch Stadium in the wet, and cold. All for the love of the sport. I knew batting practice wasnt going to take place. It was a 12:40pm game. It was raining on the way to the game. I was really putting my streak on the line. But I didnt care. Dan Uggla had made such an impact on my life last night at the game, and I was just so amped up when I got up this morning I had to do something. I had to go see the Marlins play again. Theyre a really great group of guys. Plus if Stan Musial can stand outside in this weather, I knew I would be okay.
I got into the stadium first. There were maybe ten people waiting in line. When I got inside I saw this, and I knew I had my first baseball.
The Marlin that is stretching out, well thats Josh Johnson. On September 7th 2008, Josh Johnson threw me my second baseball at Busch Stadium. With a crowd of 38,898. So youre saying to yourself; ” Well, thats cool. Now hes about to throw you your 48th?” No, Josh Johnson didnt hook me up with any baseballs. In fact, he took a couple laps around the track, grabbed his water bottle, signed a few autographs, and ran into the clubhouse. But the next turn of events are even better.
Check out this picture
See that black bag? Well, my friends, thats full to the brim with Major League Baseballs. I was the only person standing quietly behind the players waiting for my opportunity to get a ball. Meanwhile up in Big Mac Land, some obnoxious Cardinals fan was yelling down to the players to get a baseball. In the picture above thats Renyel Pinto on the far left, Coach St. Claire out in the distance with Dan Meyer. I dont know who the guy closest to me is. Okay so soon Brian Sanches came out. That same annoying fan in Big Mac Land kept calling down for a ball. The Marlins did their best to ignore him, and I dont blame them. So the player closest to me in the picture put on the catchers glove that was by the black bag. He got down in catcher position, and started taking pitches. Interesting enough I got in line behind them to catch any overthrows. My game plan was this; if I caught an overthrow I would catch it, and offer it back. That way the players acknowledge me as a fan that isnt greedy, or rude. If an overthrow got passed me or didnt happen, I would ask nicely for a ball, and make comments that they shouldnt throw a baseball to an unruley fan when they have a nice Marlins fan waiting quietly for a ball.
The ball came screaming in, bounced into the grass, and up into the stands. I was right there to snag it. Haha! I caught my first overthrow! I smiled, pulled the ball out of my glove, and held it up.
” Dan, do you guys need this back?” I shouted to them.
” Yeah. Just for a second, and we will hook you up, man. Thanks!” Dan Meyer called back.
I tossed the ball back onto the field, and nodded. I knew baseball players were good on their word when they said theyd hook a fan up. Well, most of them. I watched some more, and was smiling the whole time. Finally Dan Meyer got done, and Brian Sanches took position, and started throwing. Dan walked over, and started digging for a baseball. He pulled out a used, scuffed up, dirty baseball. Just the kind I like! He nodded to me, tossed me the ball, and thanked me for giving it back to them so they could warm up. You see pitchers are really kind of weird people. Dan Meyer was using a baseball that he was comfortable with. He didnt want to switch baseballs in mid-warmup because its all about mechanics, and being comfortable. If you watch baseball a lot, youll see pitchers tossing the umpire the ball, and asking for another one. Every ball is different.
It wasnt moments later that Brian Sanches was throwing me a baseball. I caught it, and thanked him. But I knew that he knew I had already gotten one. So before all the complaints came showering down on me from all the 15 fans behind me I held the ball up, and pointed to Brian to get his attention. He looked over at me, and noticed that I was the guy that already got a ball two seconds ago. I couldve kept it, I guess. But It was such a small crowd, and I didnt want to be a jerk about things. Especially to these Marlins. They were very nice. Brian Sanches asked if I already got a ball, and I nodded explaining that Dan Meyer had just tossed me one. I felt apart of the team though for about five seconds. I threw the ball back, and he tossed it to another deserving Marlins fan. The Marlins made their way off the field, and so I darted over to the Cardinals side. Knowing that the Cardinals are so stingy with their baseballs I had to try anyway. No dice.
Once I got to the Cardinals side I saw two more Marlins walking out of the dugout, and heading over to the left field corner. I did an about face, and beat feet back back over there. Changing hats back to Marlin colors I took position right where I was.
“Number 38! Throw us a ball!” Yelled some girls in the left field bleachers.
” Can I have a baseball?” Said a little girl with cotton candy in her mouth.
Oh boy. Kids, and girls. My worst enemies. But it was in my favor. Im the one that had the Marlins hat on. Im the one that knew these players first, and last names. ( Believe me it helps ), and I was the one that had the glove. Thats Burke Badenhop in the background ready to fire away. I was hoping for another overthrow. But then I was distracted by a gentleman to my right. He asked me where I was born. I told him Seattle. He asked me how I grew to like the Marlins so much. I told him Im a fan of baseball, and I like to favor the underdogs. He chuckled. I think he had an idea of what I was up to. But I didnt care. I wanted to get to my 50th baseball this game. It was important. Burke quickly finished up, and before I could call out to him the ball was enroute to me. Smack! Right into my glove. It kind of reminded me of how hard Alexei Ramirez threw me a ball. I thanked him, and moved on.
So I hung around the dugout for a little while. I conversed with the autographing group. They were all waiting on Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla to sign. I showed off my picture of Dan Uggla, and I. I am so proud of that picture. Here. Ill post it again.
Alright. Sorry. Moving on. Ramirez got done warming up, and decided a youngster behind me should get the baseball. So I let it sail passed me. I could have snagged it, and ran. But I didnt want to do things like that. So I waited for another opportunity. Bryan Petersen was all done warming up as well, and he came strolling towards the dugout. I had moved down to the baseline after being rejected by Hanley, and I asked Bryan if he would toss me the ball. He pulled the ball out of his glove, looked at it, and gave it a toss my way. Not much competition. I asked, and recieved. 50th!!! After that Dan Uggla got stretched out, and came over to sign some autographs. I said hi to him, and “knucked” him after he was done. Him, and Cody Ross warmed up, and Ross ended up with the ball. If Uggla ended up with it he would have thrown it to me. But Ross threw it to the same little kid that Ramirez did. I couldnt help but to laugh. I nearly got outhawked by a kid in diapers!
The Marlins took a thrashing. They were beat 4-2. I waited patiently for the umpires to leave, and they gave all the baseballs to kids. He looked right at me, but didnt toss me one. So I scurried to the dugout to wait on the bullpen guys. Nothing there either. So I left with three. But I got my 50th! Bryan Petersen! You hooked me up, man! Thanks!
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Florida Marlins
Game Balls: Four
Busch Stadium. The Nationals were in town, and I didnt know how this game was really going to play out. I failed to get any good pictures but I will make it up to you all in the next few blog entries. I didnt think the crowd would be that enormous. But who was I kidding? The crowd is always big at Busch Stadium.
I hoped that when I got down to my normal spot there were going to be some easter eggs. But that didnt really workout too well. It didnt take but three minutes for me to stand there before a baseball came my way. I was the only one around to get it. I made the scoop, and quickly put the ball in my backpack. I stayed on the third base line for about 90% of batting practice, and not a single baseball besides that one was hit down the line. It was a very boring, and non-productive day.
I stayed for the entire game. I wandered the outfield, and played down in foul territory but nothing came my way. It was really a wasted day at the ballpark. I only had one baseball, and sadly I would leave with one baseball. But I will tell you this. I learned a lot about Busch stadium on my little mini-tour today. I learned more hot spots, and I also learned how to get passed security to sit in seats behind home plate. I shall use these tactics in future games.
Game: St. Louis Cardinals Vs Washington Nationals May 18th 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: One
In the above picture on the top shelf are my first ten baseballs Ive snagged from four different stadiums. Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Great American Ballpark, and Safeco field. I only attended a handful of games last yearbut when I went I never left a game without a baseball from the stadium. The second shelf holds my first 20 autographs from Major League Baseball players. This season I am now up to 72 autographs, and 28 baseballs from five different Major League Stadiums. Some of my current streaks are as follows;
10-game streak of getting at least one ball outside of Busch Stadium.
13-game streak of getting at least one ball during a game.
5-game streak of getting at least one ball in a different stadium I havent been to.
Current average of baseballs at a game- 2.0 Baseballs a game.
Probable Future Games;
May 4th Cellular Field
May 11th Busch Stadium
May 12th Busch Stadium
May 18th Wrigely Field
May 19th Cellular Field
May 22nd Kauffman Stadium
Busch Stadium has got to be the most entertaining stadiums Ive been to thus far. The air is fresh, and the people are jovial. I really enjoy going to Busch. The tickets are overinflated ( due to the Cardinals winning the World Series in 2006 ) but that doesnt stop me from buying excellent seats and having a good time. Although, the times I do go to Busch stadium I rarely come out of there with a baseball. Ive only really officially watched three games INSIDE the stadium. Last year I spent quite a bit of time hanging outside before where I waited on players to get autographs.
Here is a picture from my actual seat at the stadium.
Like at Kauffman if you want a good chance to snag foul balls or have players toss you a ball youve got to be the first one inside. Which I was. I picked a prime spot down the third base line to shag some baseballs. Batting practice was just getting started when I got down there, and the Mets players were just coming out onto the field to stretch and warmup. I was mostly surrounded by Cardinals fans, but the Mets fans that were there were the ones getting the balls thrown to them. Too bad I didnt have a Mets hat on at the time. I know now! I guess thats actually common sense.
It wasnt long before Jose Reyes got into the cage where he and started blasting line drives towards us. It was my first line drive ball hit directly to me and that ball came in so fast I didnt have any time to react! I didnt come up with it either. The ball charged passed me only to hit a fan directly in the hands but it richoceted back up into the seats. Wow! Well, lucky for me Jose Reyes next hit was a slow grounded that came three feet on my left side. It was an easy snag for me. Bing! Nothing to it. Base lines seem to be a hot spot for baseballs, and Im not so sure I feel comfortable leaving those areas. Especially at Busch. But anyway…
Game: April 18th 2010 7:05 St Louis Cardinals Vs New York Mets
Game Balls; One