So Fridays game, right? It was very frusterating. But Busch stadium looked very elegant on a warm sunny day. Check out this cool picture I took.
Thats more or less the view you get from the freeway that runs right by Busch Stadium. Its actually kind of cool how close the stadium is to the freeway. Theyre doing a lot of work on the bridge right now because its said to be the most unsafe bridge in Saint Louis right now.
Here is a picture of the players entrance. Most of the opposing team players get carted in from the hotel, and they use this entrance. Ive never seen any player actually stop while on the cart to sign autographs. So if you are able to get one to stop email me or leave a comment on how you got the players to stop, and sign. The usually ride right on through.
Here is a picture of the walkway towards the third base gates from the home plate gates. The gates I usually enter are the third base gates. Its the easiest, and the fasted Ive found to the field level. Most people use the left field gates or the home plate gates.
So once I was inside I felt like I should have played dead center field bleachers for Prince Fielder. After all that guy has been hitting home runs in major league stadiums since he was 13 years old. I decided to stay put on the third base side. I did play back a few rows to catch any direct line drives. I felt pretty confident but when those baseballs come in fast theyre already on the curve. So when they bounce they fly way right. I missed two by mis-judging them. But that was okay.
Trevor Hoffman was pretty friendly as he chilled in the shade in deep left field. He tossed about eight baseballs into the stands. I called to him on multiple occasions but he didnt pay me any attention. I stood my ground on the third base side, and eventually my luck struck. I wasnt sure who hit that, and by mistake I ended up asking a Cubs fan who was at bat all the while wearing a Brewers hat. I could only laugh at myself.
The ball somehow was able to make its way passed four peoples attempts to get it, and I held my glove down, and it slapped me right in the pocket. I felt lucky. I dont have much luck at Busch Stadium. In fact I hate shagging baseballs at this stadium. The competition is high, and I never really have a breakout game. I usually come away with two if Im lucky. The players dont come out with baseballs anymore to warm up before the game anymore. I dont know why. The Reds didnt do it, and the Brewers didnt do it Fridays game either. The Cardinals did on the other side though.
As the game progressed I played the first base side for foul balls. I should have stayed over there the entire game. I would have caught at least two. One from Holliday, and the other from Pujols. They both fouled one baseball each over to the entrance way to the first base side. But I was busy waiting on a third out toss up from Prince Fielder, and during Pujols foul ball I was setting up for the umpire ball.
I also learned that these white seats you see at the bottom of the picture are wheel chair seating area. Anyone is allowed to buy tickets for this area. It isnt a requirement that you have someone with you in a wheel chair, or you be in one too. Also, from where I took this picture there is a yellow outline where you can stand. They actually sell standing room only tickets. The security guard asked me if I had a standing room only ticket, and I quickly said I did to avoid any arguement. If she asked for my ticket I would have told her my wife had it. Always one step ahead of these guards. She didnt ask though.
After the game I set up for the umpire baseball. I scooted passed some fans that were sitting in the front row. Actually the only two fans that were sitting there, and when the umpire came I asked him a ball. He overthrew me like crazy! The ball actually sailed over my right shoulder, and since Im left handed with the glove I tried to basket catch the ball but it was too late. Some lady caught it. And she said this;
” Wow! I caught a ball! I didnt know the umpires threw baseballs into the crowd!”
Ugh. Yeah. They do.
So I tried to make it to the dugout for the bullpen guys. I was blocked in by 42,000 fans. It was Fireworks Friday, and where I stood was the closest Id get to the dugout unless I pardoned myself about 50,000 times. It wasnt worth it. The front row of the dugout was blocked anyway. One ball.
Game: Milwaukee Brewers Vs St Louis Cardinals June 4th 2010
Game Balls: One
Autographs: Matt Holliday
I’d like to start this blog out by saying some great things about Dan Uggla. Not only did he sign autographs for about 15 people outside of the stadium on his way in, but he also signed for about 15-20 minutes inside the stadium prior to game time. So Id like to pay some serious respect to Dan Uggla. He gives a lot. He also signed about 15 autographs AFTER the game as well. I usually get to the stadium pretty early so I witnessed a lot of the Florida Marlins baseball players walking to the stadium.
Renyel Pinto walking towards the stadium. If you want Marlins autographs, and youre ever in St. Louis they stay at the Hilton across the street from Busch Stadium. On sunny days most of them walk in. Renyel, and I exchanged “knucks” and parted ways.
It was a great day for baseball. I, of course, was the first one inside the stadium. The security guards opened the gates late, and the ticket checker guy with his electronic ticket scanner wasnt even turned on when the gates were opened. So that delayed me about 2 minutes getting down to my spot. But it didnt matter. The crowd was small. Once I got down to the third base line I started to scout for easter eggs. I looked up to see a young man dressed like he just came out of the trash can hollering at the Cardinals players that were on the field. He was yelling that he wanted a baseball. I watched for a moment as I took my time walking down to the railing, and then I continued my search for easter eggs. Moments later I heard one of the Cardinals say…
” Hey, you want a ball? Here you go buddy!” And then I heard the ever so familiar sound of a baseball clanging around against the seats. I looked over to the noise, and I caught a glimpse of the white gem bouncing around in the seats. What was going on? Was that meant for me? I looked around for a second, and nobody was really persuing the ball. I figured there were going to be a mob running the ball down. So I casually walked down the row, trotted up the stairs, walked up through the aisle looking for the ball. Once I found it, I looked back to the field, and then around me again. Wow. Too easy.
So batting practice was kind of a loss. Nothing really came my way. I got out hawked by a guy that came 30 minutes into it, and then really everything else was out of reach. As I was standing there I waved to Chris Coghlan a few times, and he finally acknowledged me. He held up a ball, and I waved for him to throw it to me. One hopper, and into my glove. Nice. I thanked him, and continued to play the third base side. Nothing was really going into the outfield anyway. Chris Coghlan was the National Leagues Rookie of the year last year. So it was a real honor to get a baseball from him. The rest of batting practice was pretty boring. I had two baseballs.
Dan Uggla came off the field after stretching, and started to sign autographs. So I capitalized on that since I only had two baseballs.
There were two Marlins fans behind me, and they were saying how much Uggla was their hero, and saying he was Superman in disguise. Hence the smirk on Dan’s face. He truly is a great guy. He talked with the fans, laughed, and joked, and made it really special for a lot of baseball fans. Really a remarkable guy. So I asked for a picture with Dan, and heres how it turned out.
The picture is really great. The fan that I asked captured the St. Louis Arch in the background, and Dan even put his hand on my shoulder. The guy is really short but he has massive hands, and arms. I mean, hes like an animal. It was great. He shook hands with fans, and I got my patented “knucks” from him, and moved on. Thanks Dan Uggla! You made my day!
So I made my way to my seat after the players were all warmed up, and were off the field. I sat on the Cardinals side, first base side about 20 rows up. Foul ball territory. But not one ball came remotely close to me. I only got up once to chase one, but it landed on the railing, and took a wicked bounce way to my right. No chance. The Marlins started beating up on the Cardinals about halfway through the game. Then it started to drizzle a little bit so I knew that people would start clearing out to go home. I needed that to happen, because I was going to get passed security, and get down behind home plate. I wasnt happy with two baseballs. It was time to break out, and try to get some work done.
By the eight inning, the Marlins were up 4-0. In the previous inning, Uggla, and Maybin hit home runs. So a lot of Cards fans were out the door. I made my move. I walked the concourse looking for a security guard that was just kind of hanging out. You see…at Busch stadium, all the sections behind home plate have red fences guarding them so you have to go through in a single file line. That way no one can get passed security if they dont have a ticket to be in those sections. Its really criminal stuff. But I caught a security guard that was engaged in a conversation with about five fans. They were all hundled around her like they were trying to help me out. A squeeze play! I made a break for it. I scurried in passed her, and headed on down the stairs, broke to my right, and sat in the first seat of the row. Feewww!!
” Hello.” Said a voice. I was busted. Damn!
” Hey…no I dont have tickets for this row. Sorry, Ill move.” I was defeated. I knew who it was. No one says “hello” in such a sarcastic voice than security.
” You can stay, just move back a row.” She said, and walked away.
So I did. I moved back a row. But now I was in the middle of the row. This was unacceptable. If anyone else showed up I wouldnt be able to hurry out of the row, and down to the dugouts. It wasnt minutes later, and a group of five college kids sat down right next to me. Damn!! I had to move. Security had already told me once not to sit here, but I had to risk it. I moved one row ahead. The row I had orginally been kicked out of.
” Listen..I already told you once. You cant sit in this row.” The voice said in minutes.
” Sorry! I wasnt trying to disrespect your authority. I just need a quick exit to get down to the dugouts to get a ball after the game.” I said.
” Well, you cant sit in this row. And you wont be getting a ball either.” She explained.
” Why not?” I chuckled.
” Because that rarely happens. Players dont give out baseballs after the game.” She said.
” Ill move. Im sorry to have troubled you.” I said. I gathered my things, and down the stairs I went. I sat two rows back from where the umpires leave the field. I couldnt believe that security guard! She really doubted my baseball getting skills. Unreal!
The game ended. Finally! I let the row clear out in front of me, and I moved down to the front. I called to the umpire, and two more people showed up. He nodded to me, reached into his side pouch, and delivered a clean toss right to me. I squeezed down on it, and tipped my hat to him. Gah! I still had my Cardinals hat on! If I were to get anything from the Marlins, Id have to ditch this Cards hat, and fast!
I started to make my way to the Marlins dugout, switching hats on the fly. I didnt care who saw me at this point. Make your comments, who cares. I was on a mission. The bullpen players were enroute to the dugout, and as soon as they got into ear shot, I started making hand gestures for them to throw me a baseball, and calling to them. Chris Volstad, and Leo Nunez both pulled their hands out of their jackets, and showed me they had no baseballs. Dang. Three it was. Oh well. I had a memorable picture taken with Dan Uggla, I sat in great seats, and I came away with three baseballs. It was a battle but I did it.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Florida Marlins May 19th 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Three
Back at Busch Stadium for another round of torture. I felt a little better today. My mind was slightly more clear, which always made a difference. When I cant think straight I get frusterated, and thats when things go south. The weather was supposed to rain all afternoon, and into the early evening. When I got to the stadium it was overcast, windy, and slightly humid from last nights thunderstorms. Miserable conditions. I really thought they would cancel batting practice. I figured when I got to the stadium the tarp would be over the field, and that would that.
If you look close enough you can see the batting cage was on the field, and Cardinals BP was in full force. The rain threatened off, and on. I thought at one point it would let loose, and they would tarp the field. They never did. ( Sorry about the picture. I use my iphone camera ) I panicked though. I witnessed a Cardinal player throw two baseballs into the seats behind home plate. What should I do?! I continued to ask myself that question. I could get some easter eggs, but what is the faster route over there? Still thirty minutes before the gates opened, and I had to make a decision. Go to my regular spot, or try something new. Well, after going to my orginal spot I witnessed four easter eggs being picked up. I kicked myself. So I made it a point to get a little education about the stadium before I left today. I had nine innings to do it in anyway.
Batting practice was in full swing. The sun broke out of the clouds, and it was like a breathe of fresh air. The Cardinals were only on the field for only a few minutes before the Astros started coming out, and warming up. Wilton Lopez took up a position directly in front of me with Gustavo Chacin. Not only did Gustavo Chacin overthrow a ball, but it hit some little girl right in the head. Of course that earned her a free baseball. Id take a baseball to the head for a free ball anyday. It really concerns me that nearly 90% of these little kids that line the baseline walls are without supervision. It kills me to see these kids just standing there unaware that a baseball that travels 120mph or faster could be hit right to them.
I had a great position on the base line. Not one adult was near me. The stadium was barely even full. My first baseball of the day was a grounder that had a little bit of spin to it. So it was curving more to my right. I got a good position on it, and boxed out anyone to my immediate right. I didnt field it cleanly though. It hit off the top of my glove as I went to stick the ball. It rubbed up against the wall, and didnt go far so it was easy to retrieve. After that happened, two more came my way but were too far to my right. They both ricocheted off the wall, and back onto the playing field. I tried to play them on the rebound but thats pure luck to get one like that.
Finally I had some competition show up. Booo! I dont know who the guy was but he was aggressive, and had skill. He was an older gentleman probably in his early 50’s. He positioned nearly on top of me in a strategy to box me out if anything came down the line. Well, he had his chance. A three hopper came scorching down the line, and he got his glove up in front of mine. I caught a sharp elbow to the brim of my hat that caught me off guard, and I ended up taking a step back. Well, I was able to slap his glove with mine which in turn made him miss the catch, and the ball ended up in the stands at my feet. With my hat in my face, and didnt see where the ball went until he started going for it. I kicked my left foot back, made contact with the ball, and a youngster behind me ended up getting it. HA! Thanks for using your elbow, sir! What a jerk. But if he wanted to play dirty thats fine. I can play dirty.
As soon as the kid came up with the ball my competition started in on me.
” I had that!” He hollered.
I ignored him. I kept focused on the batter in the cage.
” You hit my glove! Why did you do that?! I had that one!” He insisted.
I continued to ignore him.
” I would have had that ball, you know. That ball had my name all over it!” He grumbled.
Ignoring. Watching batter in cage.
” Why did you smack my glove?!” Shaking his head in disbelief.
Just then another ball was hit our way. It was a can-`o-corn popup. But it didnt have the distance. During the one-sided conversation an usher had came over to make sure there wasnt going to be a fight over a baseball, and guess who ended up catching the ball two feet from the wall. The usher! Really? These guys stand around all day, and regulate ridiculous rules, kick people out of areas they dont have a ticket for, scold people for running through the concourse, and NEVER give baseballs to adults that ask for them, and now we got an usher catching baseballs during batting practice that a fan SHOULD have caught namely ME! I was furious! And so was my competition! He started complaining the moment the usher caught the ball. He insisted that he should get the ball, but the usher didnt hangout much longer. He made up some excuse that he had to give the ball back to the players, and off he went. What bullcrap.
The next ball was another popup, and it had some curve to it. I knew this one didnt have the distance either, and my competition was all over it. He reached out, boxed me out, and made the scoop. But while he was doing that I made myself visable to Matt Lindstrom. ( if you read my blog from the previous night I asked him for a ball, and he denied me ) I put my hands up, and pretended to throw a ball his way. He nodded, and tossed me a ball. One hopper, right into my glove.
” Thanks Matt!” I shouted, and tipped my hat. HA!
I looked to my competition, and smiled. After that we started talking about ballhawking techniques, different stadiums, security issues, etc etc. Turns out the guy was a decent fellow. He told me the most baseballs hes even gotten at a stadium was three. Nice enough guy. So I forgave him about the elbow, and moved on after batting practice ended. I sat out in the outfield seats for the game, and I watched the game silently. I needed a break. I didnt run down to the dugout after the game or harass any of the umpires for a ball. I just held onto my two prizes from the day, and went home.