I spent a lot of my first couple of years going to baseball games knee-deep in St. Louis Cardinal territory. I know, feel bad for me, right? I wasn’t a huge Cardinal fan by any means and I did put my living in the midwest to good use by traveling to other baseball cities like Chicago, Kansas City and even as far as Texas. While I was doing my thing at Busch Stadium, I did get the chance to meet Bronson Arroyo. I can’t recall which game it was or even the year because it was so long ago, but what I do remember was he was a super nice guy to me and so friendly.
He was down the third base line signing some autographs and as he started to walk by I quickly called out to him if he’d be willing to take a picture with me:
That wasn’t the only time I’ve met up with Arroyo. I’ve also met him outside of Busch Stadium when he was on his way back to the hotel (he declined signing an autograph because of his arthritic elbow) and I met him at a special Reds/fan meet and greet I attended a few years ago. He couldn’t sign autographs then either but offered pictures. Really awesome guy.
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I’m actually super-excited about this baseball season. I guess what I’m most excited about is the fact that I’m going to make it to four new stadiums in the Major Leagues that I have not yet attended during the regular season.
First stop is Oakland California. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (formally Network Associates Coliseum and McAfee Coliseum and commonly The Oakland Coliseum or The Coliseum) as you all know is the home of the Oakland Athletics. There is a lot of great history at this specific baseball/football stadium. ( The Oakland Raiders play here too ) Catfish Hunter threw the ninth Major League perfect game here. And this was the home of the Bash Brothers! Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. Canseco made history for being the first player in the Major Leagues to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season. The A’s won a few World Series here too, including the “Battle of the Bays” World Series against the Giants which was intrupted by an earthquake. And on May 9th 2010, nearly 42 years later, Dallas Braden would throw the 19th perfect game in League history. I will be attending Opening Day and the following game. Right now I have a lifetime of 97 baseballs. So Ill probably end up snagging my 100th at the Coliseum. Im still debating if I should get it signed by Oakland Athletic players. My first baseball I ever got was at Kauffman Stadium where I had a few Royals sign it. So. We will see.
Safeco Field. Or the “Safe”. I’ve already been to this stadium a few times and I really like going here. Although the security is extremely tight and the security guards in the field box seating are quite the nazis but its still a great atmosphere for baseball. I’ve snagged about seven baseballs here over the years and since Safeco Field will be my “home” stadium for the season, and possibly the next few, I plan to snag a lot of baseballs from this particular place.
When the dog days of summer roll around I will be making my way towards the midwest. The last two seasons of baseball I spent the majority of my time between Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City and Busch Stadium in St Louis. I also visted U.S Cellular in Chicago and I attended a handful of games at Great American BallPark in Cincinnati. I really enjoy watching baseball at GABP. But this year I will be headed to…
Wrigley Field! Now. I havent actually attended a live game here. BUT. I did go to a “Meet and Greet” in 2009. The Cubs lined up in the lower third base side bleachers and all the fans single filed down the concourse, shook hands, collected autographs, and met their favorite players. It was quite the experience. The Cubs do it every year. So if you think you missed out you didnt. Although it does cost about $300 dollars to do this but you get a hotdog, a Major League baseball, and tickets to the game. Being that this is the second oldest baseball stadium in the Major Leagues to this day I have to pay this place a visit. I had opportunities to go last year and the year before but I just didnt go. I know, I know. But I’ve made plans to go this year.
More towards the end of the season I am planning a trip to Florida.
Tropicana Field is one of the stadiums Im visiting while Im there. This place really reminds me of the Kingdome. Its really ugly on the inside and not anymore appealing on the outside. But for some reason I like it. But what really confuses me is why is there a domed stadium in Florida? If anything they should have gave this eyesore a retractable roof. Anyway. Im excited to be apart of some Rays baseball this year. Of course my last stop in Florida before I head back to the Emerald City…
Sun Life Stadium. Or Pro Player Stadium. Or Dolphin Stadium. Or whatever else they’ll decide to name it before I get there. Now the reason why Im going here this year is because the Florida Marlins are actually getting a new stadium next year. Thats right folks. Sun Life Stadium is on the “endangered” list. Well, not officially. They arent actually going to tear this stadium down because the Miami Dolphins play here. But after this season there will be no more baseball. The name of the new stadium where the Marlins are going to play will be called Miami Ballpark. ( I’m so glad they didn’t name it something like Netflix Stadium or Kosher Field ) So next year I will be returning to Florida to watch baseball there and hopefully snag a commemorative baseball.
This year I plan to attend at least 100 baseball games. So going by my stats of ball snagging I should end up with close to 250 baseballs this year. I havent much else to report other than there is about 10 days left before Opening Day! I hope everyone had a great off season, and wonderful Spring Training and an even better Regular Season/Post Season!
Until next time…
More big news in the Major Leagues. The Blue Jays make headlines again for the second time in a week with sending Vernon Wells, their all-star centerfielder to the Angels of Anaheim. Faced with doubters, nay-sayers, and critics of his $126 million dollar contract taken over by the Angels, Wells is pretty confident that he will make a positive impact on the baseball team, and hopes to help get them to the playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Rays have picked up two veteran players. Johnny Damon, and veteran slugger Manny Ramirez. Damon, 37, signed for $5.25 million. He replaces Carl Crawford, the longtime Rays left fielder who in December signed a seven-year, $142 million contract with the AL East-rival Boston Red Sox. Ramirez, who will be 39 years old in May and is 45 home runs from 600 for his career, was guaranteed $2 million to become the Rays’ designated hitter.
The Kansas City Royals hung onto their slugger, Billy Butler. Butler says he thinks a 25-year playoff drought is nearing an end for the Kansas City Royals. Butler is full of hope, boosted by the Royals’ highly regarded minor league system. He’s part of the future, too, after getting a four-year, $30 million contract. When asked to comment on the recent departure of Zack Greinke, Butler stated ” He just didnt want to be here.”
The Cincinnati Reds re-signed many of the players that won the division last season. Mainly Johnny Cueto. The righty went 12-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 31 starts with Cincinnati last season.
And that is all folks! See you next time.
The last game that the Reds were going to be in town. It has been a great series against these two teams. With the Reds now in first place a win for them meant they would be two games up on the Cardinals. A loss would mean back to a first place tie. Both teams have Thursday off ( travel day ) so they would resume play on Friday. The Cardinals would host the Milwaukee Brewers for the weekend series, and the Reds would travel to Washington D.C to face the Nationals. What does that mean for me? Well, I have to buy a Brewers hat before Fridays game!
Adam Wainwright decided to stop as he entered the stadium to sign some autographs. Colby Rasmus also stopped to sign, and Jaime Garcia stopped as well. If youre interested in getting autographs from Cardinals players most of them drive in behind the baseball stadium. You have to get there early, and on nice days there are quite a few fans down there waiting.
Once inside the stadium things looked rather promising. The Cardinals had already taken batting practice, and left the field. So it was just the Cincinnati Reds on the field, and they were about 10 minutes into their warmups, and conditioning on the field. Jonny Gomes was rather responsive to the fans, and within five minutes he threw five baseballs into the stands. One which he threw randomly into the seats but I couldnt find it in time. As I ran up the steps, and searched frantically down the rows I could hear other foot steps pounding on the concrete. I knew my time was limited. Fans were climbing down the seats, and eventually someone found it. Bummer. That would have been my first one, and my second one from Gomes on the season.
I stood behind Bronson Arroyo, and he had about three baseballs at his feet. So I asked him about three times for a baseball as fans were asking him for his autograph. Bronson Arroyo declined autographs because he has carpal tunnel. Whats interesting enough is he declined the surgery needed to fix his problem because it only has a 60% success rate, and if it doesnt work out for him he is done as a Major League baseball player. Well, he can always fall back on his music.
You can get on Youtube.com, and watch some of the videos people have posted of him singing. Its really not that bad. I picture him as a country singer but its more like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. It really brings me back to when I used to live in Seattle. I might actually purchase his album next time Im in Cincinnati. Maybe.
So after Bronson Arroyo hooked me up with a baseball, and Gomes threw one into the seats I eventually got Gomes to throw one right to me. It would have been awesome to have gotten that one in the seats but at least he was nice enough to throw another one. So that was two. Gomes also came over, and signed some autographs. Hes a pretty cool dude, and I love his mohawk haircut. Hes really down to earth, and has a great sense of humor. I love those baseball players that make the experience fun. Guys like Arthur Rhodes, and Brandon Phillips that dont want anything to do with the fans really put a sour taste in my mouth. But not everyone can be awesome like Gomes or Bronson. In fact before Bronson left the field, and because he cant sign autographs…
That would be yours truely, and my new found friend Bronson Arroyo. Look! We have matching hats! He was really nice about it too. We made small talk, and he took some more pictures. I had a fan take a picture of me with Bronson in agreement that I would take one of him with his kid with Bronson. So it all worked out.
Johnny Cueto, and Fransico Cordero walked passed everyone but paid us no mind.
I had tickets to sit in the outfield bleachers on the aisle but I decided to not sit out there when I was offered to sit down by the dugout by the autographer group. Ive made some friends at Busch stadium which is ideal in this hobby. Having friends in high places means better seats, more baseballs, and a better experience. Although, Im still tracking Albert Pujols 400th career home run he hasnt quite came close enough for me to really worry about it. Im thinking he will hit it out around August/September time frame. If he doesnt go into another 20 game slump. Which I predict that he will. So I still have some time to sit whereever I want in the stadium.
During the game some fool ran out onto the field. I failed to get any pictures. Sorry folks. I even looked around on Google.com for an article. The last fan to run out onto the field at New Busch Stadium was in 2007. It took six security guards to subdue the guy. This time it took two, with a clean tackle by one of the security guards that incidentially got his face cut open on the tackle. Ill find out on Friday if hes okay. Im sure he probably is.
By the sixth inning I decided to start my relocation process to get behind home plate to get a baseball from the umpires. As I left Miguel Cairo kept calling out to the fans. As I was walking up the stairs I looked back to see fans pointing, and calling to me. I stopped to further investigate, and Miguel Cairo kept pointing to me, and holding up a baseball. I started back down to the dugout, and he tossed me a ball, and threw up the peace sign. I thanked him, and headed back up the stairs. Wow. That was weird. I guess he saw me make about five thousand attempts for a baseball down by the dugout, and then saw me leaving so he hooked me up with a baseball. Who knows. But I was happy. That was number three.
I used last nights ticket for section 156 to dupe security. The ticket was a print out from Subhub.com so I just kept it folded so all they had to read was the section number, the row, and seat number. They never bother to unfold the ticket to look at the actual date of the game. So I always keep those tickets on hand in case I get stopped by security. I dont know how many people have actually thought of that trick but if you get good seats at Busch from Stubhub try to keep the ticket in good condition. Fold it up in four parts, and only allow the security guards to see the section. Act like you belong. Just kind of let them glance at the ticket, and they will allow you entry without any problems. But scout an empty seat out first before you head over to those sections. That way you can sit right down, and not look like you dont belong.
Once the game ended, I had to climb over some seats to get to the first row. Once there I waited for the umpire. Unfortunatly this time he handed all the baseballs out to kids, and pretty girls. What a drag. He spoiled my four game baseball night.
Game: Cincinnati Reds Vs St Louis Cardinals June 2nd 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Three
So I was supposed to go to Great American BallPark on Thursday, and stay through Sunday. I had to cancel two out of those four games due to some college home work that I desperatly needed to catch up on. I am happy to report that I am pulling all As in all of my classes. But I had one class that needed some extra attention so thats the reason I wasnt at GABP on Thursday or Friday. I did get everything caught up, and I made it for Saturdays game, and Sundays game.
I arrived at my hotel room in Mason Ohio around 2pm. I checked in, and checked out my room for a few minutes, got something to eat, and drink, and started out towards the ball park. It was warm. So I knew it would be hot inside the stadium. Good thing for shorts, and a light t-shirt. I dawned my Houston Astros hat, and I arrived at the stadium. Great American has the same rules as Kauffman regarding the times the gates open. 1 1/2 hours before game time. So today the gates were going to open at 5:40. What I didnt expect was a full house. Should I have expected a near sold out crowd? The Reds were in first place, and they were playing very good baseball. They crushed the Astros the night before so why wouldnt GABP sell out tonight? Well, it nearly did. Not because of the aforementioned reasons though. BECAUSE IT WAS JOEY VOTTO FIGURINE NIGHT!! FIRST 20,000 FANS GETS ONE OF THESE!!
I kind of like the bobbleheads better. But whatever draws the crowds. Maybe Reds fans are easy to please. Who knows. Anyway. I didnt just run across this information on my own. As I approached the gates I read a flyer that was posted about a million times all over the stadium gates. READ IT, AND WEEP REDS FANS!!!
Can you believe that? The Joey Votto figurine ( well, actually 20,000 of them ) were lost in traffic! I wonder if the drivers used Mapquest or had a TomTom? Well, anyway. The Joey Votto figurine was not going to be given out tonight. But you wouldnt know that unless you got on Reds.com or actually came to the ball park. So 36,000+ were still going to show up.
So I continued around the ball park. I had plenty of time to kill. I wandered into the Reds Team store to have a look around. The air conditioned air felt good. It felt good to get out of the blistering heat. It wasnt too humid, but it was hot. The Reds are really pushing this 1990 World Series Champion thing. Ever since Redsfest theyve had all kinds of promotions for this new Hall of Fame exhibition for the 1990 World Series. I’ll have to admit. The Reds in 1990 were THE team. The Nasty boys? Larkin? Sabo? Sweet Lou? Yeah. Great team. So they have this giant 1990 WS trophy in the team store.
The team store is really unique. Its probably one of the better team stores Ive seen. Most are just filled with clothing racks, shelves full of stuff, and all kinds of memorabilia. Which is all aspects of things thats what a team store is supposed to have. But the Reds store has a little bit of history. They have signed jerseys on the wall by Hall of Famer Reds, and that huge trophy in the middle of the floor. Its pretty cool.
Once I left the team store I wandered around the stadium. For those of you that want Reds players autographs well I found your sport. Gate One. Thats where players from the Reds drive in. I walked in, and there was only one person standing there waiting for autographs. He told me that only two Reds have signed so far, ( Mike Leake, and Carlos Fisher ) and every player had already drove in except Miguel Cairo. Can you believe that? Only TWO players signed with ONE fan standing there waiting. ONE FAN! Wow.
Here are some more pictures from around the ball park.
See the Toyota Truck above the Reds logo? Well, if youre picked randomly you could have a chance to win that truck if a Reds player jacks a home run during the game. The catch? Yes. There is one. The home run ball has to hit one of the two strategically places signs that read ” hit it here” in the stadium for you to actually win the truck. Would a Reds player ever hit one of those signs with a home run ball? Not likely. They are placed so deep in the stands that it really would take a lot to hit the sign. Not saying it wouldnt happen though.
Joe Nuxhall. The Ol’ left hander. You know this guy pitched 2/3 of an inning for the Reds at the age of 15 in 1944? He later became an announcer for the Reds, and then passed away in 2007 due to cancer. They dedicated this gate to him. Season ticket holders meet here to enter the stadium two hours before game time. So in that thirty minutes before the rest of the fans enter theyre busy shagging fly balls, and harassing players for baseballs. Lucky!
So after my mini tour resumed I came to the main entrance of GABP. People were starting to show up so I went to stand in line. With the sun beating directly down on me I decided to retreat, and go wait at the Gappers Alley gates. Wise move. It seemed 20 degrees cooler on that side of the stadium. I waited for the gates to open, and I collected my Joey Votto figurine voucher upon entry. They gave us redeemable vouchers to get our Votto figurine after June 11th. I probably wont be back to GAPB so I just hung on to the voucher anyway. Maybe I could find some lucky Reds fan somewhere that didnt get one or wanted an extra figurine of Joey Votto.
It had been a year since Id had been to GABP. So when I came inside the stadium I was a little disoriented. I rushed down to the seating area, and I was quickly halted by ushers. Like five of these dudes were like ” Can we help you?!” All at the same time! It was so strange! I told them I was a huge Astros fan, and I was heading down to watch my favorite players throw the baseball around. Batting practice was in full swing so I ran down to the third base side to pull up my fair share of real estate. I will tell you this. If youre ever at GABP do not play the base lines. NOTHING came my way. NOTHING. Not one ball. Not even close. Not even within 10 feet. Barely anything went into the outfield bleachers. It was really pathetic. Batting practice ended, and I wasnt even on the score board yet. I asked a few Astros players for a ball, but they ignored me, and gave baseballs to Reds fans instead. I even asked Gustavo Chacin for a baseball in spanish as he walked by with one looking for a fan to give it to. He looked at me, and shook his head. Before that when he came out for warmup throws I tipped my hat to him, and told him to have a good game. He just kind of turned his back to me. What a jerk. He wasnt very nice to me at Busch stadium either when the Astros came to town there.
So I figured I would have a great chance to get a baseball from one of the position players when they came out 15 minutes before game time to warm up. Security guards were posted at the end of each row so I would have to interact with one to get a ball. So I walked down there.
” Excuse me. Can I stand here, and try to get a ball from of the the Astros players before the game starts? I wont be long, and Ill stay out of your way.” I said.
” Yeah. Sure. Just go find your seat after the players leave the field.” He said in an impatient tone.
Great. This guy was already in a bad mood, and I was in his little space bubble. After about five minutes of standing there I knew he was getting annoyed with me. Then Gapper, and Rosie Red came out, and they walked over to where I was standing. So now I was being pushed, and shoved up against the security guard by little kids. I stood my ground. I was nearly standing on my tippy toes not to brush up against this guy. It was hot. We were all breathing on each other. Kids were screaming, and yelling, and stepping all over me, and the guard. I knew he wouldnt tolerate this much longer, and as soon as the mascots left, and the kids backed off he looked square in my eyes, and told me to go find my seat. Simply put. There was no arguing. There was no pleading or begging. Just. Go. Find. Your. Seat.
My seats were the first row right behind the centerfielder. I figured Id have a great chance of getting a third out toss up, or a mid-inning warmup ball. Drew Stubbs, and Johnny Gomes played catch in between innings, and every time Gomes ended up with the ball. So by the sixth inning, I ran over to the left field bleachers thinking Gomes would end up with the baseball. Everytime he did he would toss it up into the seats. So I waited. Third out. Gomes came out to the field. I ran down the steps avoiding security. I planted against the railing, and on the last catch Stubbs ended up with the ball. Did he throw it back to Gomes? Of course not! Stubbs just so happened to throw it three feet to my left of MY SEAT I WAS JUST SITTING IN! AND WHATS WORSE IS THE GUY HE THREW IT TO DROPPED IT BACK ONTO THE FIELD! SO STUBBS HAD TO GET THE BALL AGAIN, AND HE JUST TOSSED IT INTO THE SEATS! I WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ANGRY!
But. You can not predict those things. Its all apart of the game. So I walked back to my seat in defeat. I didnt look around for who got the ball. I just enjoyed the rest of the game. Jay Bruce put two home runs into the right field bleachers. Ramon Hernandez hit two into the left field bleachers, and I think Miguel Cairo blasted one onto the batters eye grass. The Reds were winning like 12-1 by the eighth inning. My only chance to get a baseball at this point was from an umpire or the bullpen guys. The umpires are pretty much a guarantee at this stadium. The exit the field on the far left of the vistor bullpen, and they have to walk down these stairs that face the stands. So if you can get there first youll get a baseball. Umpires are kind of nice because its kind of like first come first serve. If you call to them, and ask nicely theyll hook you up. So thats what I did. By the top of the ninth the security guards all walk down to the bottom of the aisle, and sit down. The after the game ends they stand up, and face the stands. So I just followed one down to the end of the aisle, and before he sat down I sat down right behind him. Second row from the field. Perfect.
The ball game ended, and I stood up. I slinked into position, boxed out a few people, and waited on the umpire. He came walking as they always do. Head down. Hands in their pockets. I waited until he was within earshot. I held up my mit, and pointed to it. I smiled, and asked for a ball. Streak saved! Goodnight!
Game: Cincinnati Reds Vs Houston Astros May 29-2010 7:10pm.
Game Balls: One