I totally didn’t realize it but that last baseball I snagged from Kevin Millwood last Sunday was my 250th lifetime baseball! I mean, I guess it’s not all that exciting considering there are people out there that have snagged over 1,000 baseballs.
Tonight’s game at Safeco Field was against the Cleveland Indians who I know probably three players on that team. Ubaldo Jimenez, Shin Soo-Choo, Shelley Duncan and Chris Perez. Okay, so four. I knew asking any Cleveland player for a baseball would be out of the question because like I said; I had no knowledge of who was on the active roster. It would be BP home runs, foul balls and glove tricking whatever I could.
When I ran into the stadium, one of the Mariner fans started yelling at Felix Hernandez to toss a baseball his way. Once he did, and the fan bobbled the ball, I was all over it with my glove trick. Since the baseball landed down in the center field gap, I had plenty of time to get it and security really didn’t harass me about it:
You can see Hernandez throwing a baseball into the infield in the above picture. I’ve been wanting a baseball from the King for a while now and since I glove tricked that baseball out of the gap, it doesn’t actually count as a baseball from Felix. Sucks, I know. But that’s how the game goes.
Miguel Olivo, who I got a baseball from last year on April 1st at the Oakland Coliseum, was very generous when it came to requests for baseballs from fans. Here’s Joanna and Carla’s gems they caught from Olivo:
Joanna, the one closest in the picture, actually made an awesome grab for the baseball. Another fan behind her (not pictured) was doing most of the leg work to get Olivo to toss a baseball up. When he (Olivo) finally did, Joanna pretty much robbed the guy with a bare handed grab! Quite impressive!
I waited down in the ‘Pen for another 10-15 minutes and then I wandered off to line up at the stairs that led to the lower seating bowl. When a BP home run landed in the visitors bullpen, I slowly started to get my glove trick ready again, I waited for the stairs to open up at 5:10pm, and while the security guards were busy ushering people around, I ran over to the bullpen and glove tricked my second baseball on the night:
I wandered up to the 3rd base side of the stadium and this was the crowd during BP within the first 15-20 minutes:
Batting practice was actually pretty boring. There weren’t a whole lot of fans, not really any foul balls or very many BP home run balls. I couldn’t recognize any Cleveland players, like I mentioned before, so it made it pretty uneventful. About the only excitement that happened was how I snagged my third and fourth baseball of the evening.
When I walked up to the left field bleachers, I saw a baseball down behind the scoreboard. That’s probably the easiest place to glove trick a baseball out of, too. The security guards actually encourage it, sort of. Well, I haven’t had any problems with them while glove tricking baseballs out from behind the scoreboard. They only get mad (not all of them) when people glove trick balls from the bullpens and the sod farm behind the batters eye. I thought this would be an easy grab and I’d be on my way. As I was stretching the rubber band over my glove, it broke on me! Gah!
Luckily, I had a spare rubber band. But it wasn’t as good as the one I had been previously using. When I’d capture the baseball and start to reel it up, the ball would slip out and drop back down behind the scoreboard. Reel it up, drop back down. Reel it up, drop back down. I didn’t think I’d ever get the baseball, but eventually I did:
What a frustrating 2 minutes, I swear! After that, I headed back over to the ‘Pen just as the Indians were clearing the field. While I was standing there talking to our Bullpen Mom, a baseball landed at my feet! I had no idea where it came from, at first, but I snagged it anyway. Turns out, one of the bullpen cops was trying to throw a young lady a baseball and she bobbled it. Since I’ve received baseballs from bullpen cops before, I decided to count it. Hell, I snagged it, didn’t I? Does it really matter who it came from? I categorize bullpen cops the same way as I categorize grounds keepers, security guards and other employees around the stadiums. And I’ve caught baseballs from many of those types of people before.
I handed the baseball to the girl who bobbled it and snapped a quick photo:
Soon after, the Mariner relief pitchers made their way to the bullpen and I was able to get Tom Wilhelmsen’s autograph on my ticket stub:
I watched the majority of the game from the ‘Pen with a quick stop into the Flying Tortoise Cantina for some more nachos.
John Jaso got the Mariners on the board with a 2-run blast in the 3rd inning. In the fourth, Brendan Ryan drew a bases loaded walk and the very next batter, Jaso, was plunked in the leg that scored another run for the Mariners. By that time, it was 5-1 Mariners and in the sixth inning, Indians catcher, Carlos Santana sent a 3-run moon shot into the right field seats which ended up to be a six run 5th inning for the Indians.
By the ninth inning, the Indians pulled a head 9-8 and Chris Perez got the job to slam the door on the M’s. Seattle loaded up the bases in the bottom of the ninth and Perez got John Jaso to pop up to end the game. What a heart breaker.
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: Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 12,065
Baseballs snagged: four (glove-tricked three, found one)
Total baseballs snagged this season: 19
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $35.91
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00
Total number of donors this season: 8
Total number of donors last season: 7
Sundays game went off without a hitch. I thought there wasnt going to be any batting practice because it was a day game following a night game. But when I ran inside the cage was set up and the Indians were getting ready to start swinging. It was pretty rainy and cold out so I had to dress accordingly. I still dont think I dressed well enough. Its pretty miserable in the centerfield bleachers. Since its nearly impossible to sneak down into the lower box area to claim a seat I figured Id try elsewhere.
Once I got inside I thoroughly checked the lower first base side. Nothing. So I moved over to the third base area. I didnt bother checking the outfield bleachers for baseballs since the stadium was filling up rather quickly. Once I got to the third base side Chris Perez was doing some warmups. I thought about asking him for a baseball but I figured Id shower him with compliments first to butter him up. He did have a pretty good save the night before and I let him know that. He nodded to me and said thanks.
Here is a picture of him inbetween running the warning track.
Soon after his warmup he came over to sign some autographs. Here is another picture of him signing some baseballs for some kids.
Chris was a class act when he was with St Louis. Nothing has changed. Ive always admired him. Hes friendly and does what he can for the fans.
Now the next turn of events was quite humorous in my humble opinion but I guess it wasnt that funny to the other people. Kelvin De La Cruz and Tony Sipp started to play catch. As they were warming up, De La Cruz kind of overthrew Sipp. Well, the baseball rolled close by so I made an attempt at it. It got passed me and another fan ended up with it. Since it was their only baseball, Sipp requested it back. So the fan reluctantly gave it up. De La Cruz kind of suggested that he would get the fan another baseball. And when one was hit to him he tossed it to the fan that orginally had the baseball from the overthrow. Now in the Ball Hawking world there are plenty of unwritten rules. One rule is when a player specifically throws a baseball to a fan you do not rob that fan of the ball. Especially kids. Now. There are exceptions to the rules like always. If an adult, like in this case, drops the baseball and it lands back onto the field its pretty much up for grabs. Well, I watched this entire thing play out. De La Cruz tossed the ball, between three adults, they all seemed to bobble it and it scooted away back out onto the field just out of reach. So each of them made a sorry attempt at getting it back. What concerned me was security was on the way over to steal it. So I lunged for the ball and secured it in my glove. I started laughing but the three adults were clearly not happy. Anyway. Kelvin De La Cruz tossed them a second ball and they didnt drop it this time. I even hung back to give them room after a few smart-mouthed comments.
I left soon after to go play the outfield for the remaining portion of batting practice. I easily snagged my second baseball from the Indians bullpen catcher. I think thats who tossed it to me. Hes a short, chubby hispanic guy with a catchers glove. Ive seen him before and Im certain its not Carlos Santana. Anyway. He tried to shag a flyout and I just raised my glove for it after he missed it. He hooked me up immediatly.
After batting practice I went to grab some food. Safeco actually has some pretty awesome food and Im going to try and hit new places to eat around the stadium every Sunday. So be on the look out for some reviews of places to chow down. This Sunday I went here.
My review for this place would be five out of five. The cheeseburger I bought was exceptionally awesome. It had great taste, it was somewhat filling, and it wasnt a messy, sloppy jumble of puke-burgerness that most places sell. It has tomato, shredded lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickle, and onion. Plus a 1/3 pound beef patty cooked to perfection. The price is a little steep though. It cost me $11.25 for the burger and a small coke. The burger alone is $7.25. Well worth it though.
The game was pretty entertaining. It was a decent pitchers duel but in the end the Mariners ended up getting swept by the division leading Indians. The final score was 2-1. Michael Saunders did put one in the seats but not anywhere I was sitting. I did get on the instant replay. Ive circled myself in red.
Im also starting a charity for the Seattle-King Co. Humanes Society. Its called Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. Its to help raise money for the Humanes Society shelter in the Seattle-King Co. area. So if you wan to help me you can make a pledge. Heres how it works; you make a pledge of a dollar amount. It could be any amount. But keep this in mind. I go to a lot of baseball games and I usually snag quite a few baseballs per game. So youll want to keep your pledge at a comfortable level. For every baseball I snag during the regular season, to include the playoffs and World Series, you will pledge a certain amount per ball. By the end of the season I will tally up all my baseballs and you will multiply your dollar amount per baseball and donate that much. For example. If you donate ten cents per baseball and I snag 100 baseballs, thats $10.00. Got it? Awesome. You can check out my snagging stats on this website.
And you can check out the actual charity project page at this website.
So far I have a couple people pledging. One guy on Crowdrise.com, Brad, has pledged .25 cents a baseball! So that is really awesome!
Game; April 10th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs Seattle Mariners
It was Felix Hernandez bobblehead giveaway day at the Safe. I figured people would be lined up at the gates at 10:00am. But when I got to the stadium there were only three people ahead of me. In fact when it was time for the gates to open there wasnt much of a line behind me. The security guards opened three gates at the right field entrance instead of the conventional two. So that allowed me to be the first one inside.
Once inside the search was on. The Mariners were already in the cage taking their hacks so there were bound to be some easter eggs in the seats. There were a few kids that were finding them and holding them up with joy. And finally after a few minutes of searching I too got to hold one up with joy. But I didnt. I took off for the third base foul line.
Batting practice was dead. The Mariners or the Indians didnt have anyone putting anything into the bleachers. It was kind of a disappointment. The Indians were reluctant to toss anything into the seats as well. So it was a tough day.
Once the game started I went up to my seat. I picked to sit in the center field bleachers for the series. That was probably the biggest mistake ever. It was so cold up there with the wind blowing and being that high off the field. I really wasnt dressed well enough either. So I knew I wouldnt last long. Here are a few pictures I took while being up there.
There was a pretty good sized crowd but I actually thought there would be more people because of the bobblehead. The attendance came out to around 30,000 people but Im betting a lot of people showed up, grabbed their bobblehead, and then just went home.
Heres a picture that I took around the fifth inning. You can see in the background that there were a lot of empty seats.
Seattle actually played a pretty good game. Doug Fister only allowed two runs and those two runs came from a throwing error by Milton Bradley. Somehow he missed the cut-off man and the ball ended up in the Cleveland dugout. Im not entirely sure how that happened. Since the game was pretty close many Mariner fans stayed to include the ones behind the dish. The place I had to get to, to try and snag my second ball on the night. Of course security was posted up again where they put out their little signs to keep people from walking down while the ball is in play.
Once I got passed security I found quickly found a seat and sat down. There was a guy behind me that told me I was blocking his view to homeplate. I kind of laughed but I moved for him anyway. Soon after that some teenager came running down and actually tried to climb over the Diamond Club seating and sit there. He was quickly escorted back up. Once Chris Perez took the mound it was a done deal. Perez slammed the door on the Mariners for his third save of the season and I scampered down to the umpire tunnel. He tossed two up but none within reach.
Game; April 9th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners
Tonights game would be very special to Mariner fans and it would probably be a sold out show. I arrived as early as possible to secure first place in line and I was shocked to see this.
Yup. Someone actually beat me to the stadium. Her name is Carla and she is a loyal season ticket holder. She has been since 2001. There are quite a few season ticket holders that get to the stadium pretty early. One guy, his name is Steve, and he has been a season ticket holder since 1977. ( The inaugural season of the Mariners ) I wouldnt consider him a Ball Hawk but he does go after baseballs. He gives most of them away to kids. There is actually quite a bit of competition through the gates. So I had to be on my toes going in.
A lot has changed since my last visit to the Safe in 2006. Safeco now offers a place where fans can eat and drink. Its called the ‘Pen. Ive provided a link so you can read all about it. I never went down there during Fridays game but I plan to once the attendance starts to fall off.
From what some security guards say about the ‘Pen is that its usually full of drunk fans that want to trash talk and fight. Im not sure if thats really true but thats what Ive been hearing. They do serve hard alcohol down there so Im sure some of the rumors are true.
KIRO 710am set up an outside radio booth to cover some sports talk before the game. I snapped a few photographs when Jack Zduriencik made an appearance. It was really cool to see him outside and I heard he was a real approachable guy. But I didnt stick around long enough to hear the full broadcast. I wanted to take some more pictures and explore Safeco Field. I wandered down towards the CenterField gates to check out what was behind Safeco.
Thats pretty much what is behind Safeco Field. A whole lotta` nothing. Except there is this sign that stands out. Heres a better look at what it says.
Im wondering if players enter from somewhere over here. I really couldnt find an entry point for anyone except maybe the football players. Qwest Field is right next to Safeco Field so maybe its for them. But consider yourself cautioned. Also along the CenterField wall they have pictures of Mariner greats. Like this one.
Opening night at Safeco finally sold out after about an hour after I arrived. That was pretty cool. Not only was it the Mariners home opener but Dave Niehaus’s family was going to be in attendance. His wife, Marilyn, would be throwing out the first pitch. No Mariner fan would miss this for the world. But the first thing I had to do was get on the board with a baseball. It wouldnt come easy. Well, sorta.
This is the RightField entrance. The main thoroughfare to my ever continuing success in Major League stadiums of snagging baseballs. Tonight this stadium would see 47,000 people. Probably more since they do sell standing room only tickets. The biggest crowd that I ever faced was at The Ballpark in Arlington during the playoffs last season. The attendance topped out at nearly 55,000. So 47,000 would be a walk in the park. Before youre allowed to enter the stadium they play a little Mariners greatest plays over the loud speaker. And then they play a little jingle. And then the horn blows. Finally.
Once inside it was madness. People were pouring into the sections looking for baseballs. But since I was the first one inside I had first look through plenty of sections. There was a guy that kept telling me to look harder and look under the seats. It was a little annoying. He kept saying that there were baseballs inbetween the rows but a person just had to look hard and have a sharp eye. Soon enough he jetted off into the center field bleacher seats to set up for BP home runs. I soon followed and a little white orb caught my eye as I turned. My first one on the day. Sometimes those baseballs are hard to see.
I actually took my time through the left field, center field, and right field bleachers searching for another baseball. But the stadium was filling up with people so any lost baseballs would sure enough be scavenged by fans by now. I took some pictures on the way as I moved around the stadium.
I took this picture from center field. I also put a red box out there in the third base lower sections. I will tell you why in a minute. I continued around the stadium taking pictures.
Felix Hernandez was out shagging fly balls and as soon as I took this picture a ball was hit in my direction. Hernandez ran it down and a Mariner fan stepped in front of me and started calling for the baseball. I was wearing my Indians hat at the time so I didnt even bother calling for the ball. I didnt even think Felix would throw one anyway. But he did. I was a row back from the fan in front of me but I still made an attempt. Hernandez threw the ball wide left so I really had to extend for it. The ball bounced off my the end of my glove and dropped down into the seats. The chase was on. Unfortunatly since he was in the exact row the ball dropped into I had a very slim chance of getting to it first. I still made the attempt but I was beat from the start. So I moved on.
I took the next picture from the right field seats. The new ‘Pen area was renovated over the offseason and it looks pretty inviting. The fans can now have a clear view of the bullpens without a fence to obstuct their view. It has its pros and cons. Heres a picture. You can see fans already standing there as an Indian pitcher starts his warmup.
Once I got done taking awesome pictures of the bullpens I turned around and saw a baseball sitting between some rows. Now remember that picture I took of Felix Hernandez with the cute little red box around some seats? Thats where the ball was. I saw it from the right field bleachers. To get to it would take some time. But as soon as I saw it I bolted for it. When I got to the baseball there was a security guard ten feet from it practically in the same row. She saw me scoop it up and sort of smiled to me. She kind of gave me the impression that she wanted someone else to get it, like a kid, instead of a guy in an Indians hat. But finders keepers.
I found my third baseball of the day nearly the same way. I was just poking around through the rows when I caught a glimpse of another baseball neatly tucked away under some seats. No one was really around to claim it and people were walking by it. Someone even brushed it with their foot as they were climbing over some seats. So I wandered over near it waiting for someone to come looking for it or turn around to claim it. But no one did. So I picked it up and stood there. Another few minutes went by. Still no one came over to get it. So I walked away with it.
I spent the majority of my time on the foul line. Playing the outfield was way too crowded for my blood. I didnt want to push and shove or be pushed or shoved around when incoming baseballs reached the seats. It was tough getting any handouts from the Indians. They were tossing a lot of baseballs to kids and parents with babies. Which that was fine with me. It was all in good fun. I had three on the day anyway. So I was good with that.
Heres a picture of how crowded the baseline was.
Everyone brought their gloves. And there were plenty of foul liners that came out towards me but nothing within reach. I was trying to get Chris Perez to toss me a baseball but he was totally focused with getting warmed up and prepared for todays game. But I felt grateful today anyway. Safeco Field let everyone in nearly 30 minutes earlier so fans could watch the Mariners take some cuts in the cage. Bravo to them. Ichiro is always fun to watch. Plus he provides lots of home run balls into the seats.
Heres another picture I took from behind home plate. I also made my route in the right field bleachers to the baseball I saw from there. As you can see its quite a distance. Its even longer when youre running towards the area searching for a baseball inbetween a row of seats.
Here are some pictures from the opening night ceremony. The groundskeepers put “My Oh My” in the infield. I thought that was pretty awesome.
This next picture was from the area I was supposed to be sitting in. But TicketMaster somehow screwed up my seating and put me right in the middle of the row. I think they thought that seat 10 was an aisle seat. I requested an aisle seat over the phone. Mariners.com didnt have a problem getting me aisle seating. Looks like TicketMaster lost a customer. So I stood behind the section for a few innings until I told the security guard what had happened and he hooked me up with a seat right at the top. So I watched the game like this.
Sold out crowd. Here is a picture to show how many people showed up for this game. And the sad part is by the fourth inning the Mariners were getting blown out. People actually started to leave in the middle of the fifth inning when the Indians had a 6-0 lead. I felt kind of bad but Seattle fans should be used to this torture! C`mon! Its the Mariners! Remember those days when the Mariners had like, an eight run lead and Norm Charlton would come in to try and close the game? All of a sudden the other team would load the bases and start hitting singles and doubles like it was going out of style? Nothing has changed except now it happens in Safeco Field!
But the characters still came out to support the Mariners.
The Mariners ended up losing by a score of 12-2. It was pretty embarrasing. Especially on opening night. To end the night I raced down behind home plate to catch the Umpires leaving the field. And let me tell you something about Safeco Field security. They dont mess around. But they do get a little loose on their rules around the seventh or eight inning. ( Depending on which security guard you talk to ) Every aisle has one of these guys standing in front of it.
When the game ended I waved my glove to get Sam Holbrooks attention. He lifted his chin at me as if he acknowledged my request and tossed me a gem. But I bobbled it. I somehow closed my glove entirely too soon and the ball threatened to get away from me. I quickly secured it with my free hand and placed it firmly in my glove. Wow. It wouldnt be the first time I bobbled one. But dropping one here would be costly.
Game; April 8th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs Seattle Mariners