Another glorious lunch at the Tin Fish to start things off right before I headed to PETCO Park for the second time this weekend. I simply have fallen in love with this ballpark. Do you want to know what else is so fascinating about PETCO Park? Not only is the ballpark so uniquely designed, but it is so fan friendly it will blow your mind. Do you know what they do on Sundays? They have whats called, “Breakfast at the Park”. They do this every Sunday home game. The game starts at usual time, and you can eat breakfast on the field WITH the players. You can also play catch with friends, and family members and sometimes with the players! The Padres come out onto the field while you eat breakfast and do their thing while you eat! No, there is no live batting practice going on but that is still very cool! I don’t know the specifics about how much it costs or what tickets you have to buy to get to do this but it sounds like so much fun! I wanted to call the airport at that very moment when I found out about this and push my flight back. Then I wanted to push my flight back another three days when I found out the Kansas City Royals were coming to town. Why couldn’t I be born in San Diego?
When I arrived at the ballpark I had about three hours to kill. What is also awesome about PETCO Park is they have what’s called “Park in the Park”. They open the outside gates to the stadium hours before game time to let fans roam around the grassy hill I took a picture of yesterday and to let the kids play in the mini baseball field. About two hours before game time they kick everyone out though. So you have to get there kind of early to experience this. Today I was on a mission. I wanted to find the PETA brick. Remember at the end of yesterdays blog entry I mentioned a PETCO Park fun fact? If you missed it, click here. Anyway. PETA, of course, hates PETCO. They mainly accuse them of selling puppies from puppy mills. How true is any of that is? Well, how should I know? I’m not a supporter of puppy mills and I certainly don’t think any stadium should be named “PETCO” but hey, it is what it is. And a silly name for a baseball stadium isn’t going to stop me from visiting. Just look at the Oakland Coliseum. They renamed that to Overstock.com Coliseum. How silly is that? But I’m still going back. The bottom line is; if you got some serious cash you can put whatever name you want on any type of architecture structure.
My mission was to find the PETA brick. I searched all the bricks in the palm grove and didn’t find it. After about two hours of looking a security guard came up to me and asked if I had found the brick I was looking for. I told him I was searching for the PETA brick and he laughed. It seemed no one knew where this brick was but everyone knows about it. I was also informed that there were more bricks over by the Tony Gwynn statue. So I went searching over there. Nothing. By then it was time for everyone to get out. Boo! I guess I’ll never find that brick.
Here are a few pictures I took while I was inside during the Park at the Park experience.
As I waited outside the stadium I noticed a large gathering across the street. And anytime a cab rolled up to the curb the gathering pretty much mobbed whoever was inside. Just from my experience of going to as many games as I have I knew that these guys mobbing the cabs were autograph hounds. Most of the cabs pulled up to the curb and then drove off. The baseball players inside the cab probably told the drivers to find an alternative way into the stadium. The only thing I don’t like about these guys is they sometimes disregard their own safety to get an autograph. Like running out into traffic or in between stopped vehicles at red lights, stop signs, etc. It can get pretty obsessive and people can get hurt. Plus, there were a bunch of little kids running around in the street chasing down autographs as well. I did get a video of Jason Heyward getting out of the cab though. Check it out.
As you can see he didn’t stop to sign any autographs. No one was being overly pushy. But I guess it’s a little overwhelming to get out of a taxi cab and have a mob of people wanting things from you.
Once the first set of gates were opened to allow fans to get their fancy new Padres beach towel, I waited in front of these giant stairs to gain access to the third base area.
As I was standing there a family of five walked right passed me and started to head up those stairs. Security, of course, stopped them and explained that everyone had to wait until 3:30pm before anyone was allowed into the rest of the stadium. As I watched the whole thing another security guard started to explain to me that I wasn’t allowed up those stairs. I quickly interjected and explained I wasn’t going to go up those stairs. But he kept on nagging me about it. So I just let him say his little piece about how fans aren’t allowed into the rest of the stadium until 3:30pm. But we are allowed to roam the Park at the Park area. It was pure torture to hear him drone on about this and when he was finished I explained that I wasn’t going up the stairs and that I knew the rules of the ballpark. Ugh! It made me a little angry because I wasn’t even attempting to go anywhere. I knew what the blue barricades were for. But I understood that the security guards interact with a lot of dopey baseball fans that don’t quite know what’s going on.
Once 3:30pm came around, the security guards were of course late opening up the barricade in front of me. So I just went underneath it and ran up the stairs as fast as I could. Once I reached the third base area I immediately started my search for any loose baseballs and then promptly took my spot behind the security guard that was guarding that precious wide open space that no one was allowed to stand in.
Just then a baseball was hit in my direction. It landed on the warning track and took a sharp bounce over my head. I took a couple of steps back and leaped backwards to try to knock it down, and it ended up snow-coning on the tip of my glove. I still didn’t quite have a handle on it as I came back down to planet earth but I had enough of it that when I landed the ball dropped down into a seat. I felt the presence of another human being on my hip pocket so I stuck out an elbow to try to box out whoever was attempting to steal my baseball away from me. The ball didn’t quite make it onto the concrete but instead it stayed wedged in the folded up seat. I saw the man’s hand make an attempt to swipe at it if it were to go all the way through the seat but it didn’t and I easily picked it out of the folded up seat. That’s all I needed was one to feel accomplished for the day. PETCO Park was hard enough to snag baseballs because you can’t really run from the outfield to the base lines. So I pretty much just sat back and smiled at myself for at least snagging one per game at this beautiful ballpark. This game also marks 50 consecutive baseballs snagged at stadiums that are not considered my home stadium. So that made me feel good. If you don’t quite understand what I mean, it basically means any baseball stadium I travel to outside of Safeco Field I’ve snagged a baseball at.
I ran back and forth between the 3rd base area and the left field bleachers every time I thought I had a good glove trick opportunity. But like always the baseball that I was going after always seemed to get scooped up by a player or a grounds crew right before I got there. It was the story of my life. But I got in some great cardio and got yelled at half of a dozen times for running. I’m surprised I didn’t get kicked out. Eventually the security guards just threw their hands up at me and shook their heads as I ran by. But hey. It was my last game here and I didn’t know when I’d be back. So I gave it my all.
While I was standing out in left field Matt Latos was snagging some baseballs and fans repeatedly called to him. He did his best to ignore it until fans started to get angry with him. I’m not sure what was being said by the fan but Latos kept telling the dude to “relax” and to not get so “worked up over it.” Whatever that meant. I guess because Latos wasn’t throwing every single baseball he caught into the crowd? That would be my guess. He even said he was all for it; meaning he would love to supply every fan with a dozen baseballs, but it just wasn’t practical because they need the baseballs to practice with. And despite the Padres being worth a gazillion dollars, it does cost the team money to toss baseballs into the stands. I think I have something like, 180 baseballs. So if each baseball cost $15 dollars then I have $2,700 dollars worth of baseballs. That’s insane! If you want to play with numbers just go to www.mygameballs.com and calculate all the baseballs ever caught by everyone on the lifetime leaders board and times those numbers by $15.00 bucks a ball.
That’s the size of the crowd in the left field seats. Once the Atlanta Braves came out and it got closer to the end of BP the stands filled up a little bit more. The Braves were a little more giving when it came to toss ups but they didn’t target any fan. They just sorta tossed the baseballs to people over their backs or just lobbed high arching tosses to give everyone a chance at it.
The Braves absolutely killed the Padres. 10-1 was the final score. Dan Uggla busted out the big stick and jacked a three-run bomb to left centerfield. It was a pretty good game until the Braves ran away with it. A lot of fans got up and left when the Padres started to get buried. It really reminded me of Seattle. I couldn’t help to feel a little homesick. I missed my Mariners and I missed Safeco Field. So I too, packed up and left. Now I begin my short journey back to Seattle, Washington. It was a lot of fun, San Diego. Thank you.
Game; June 25th 2011 Atlanta Braves vs. San Diego Padres
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $98.85 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $34.10 this
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