As soon as I ran into the stadium I quickly searched the vacant rows of seating for any easter eggs like I always do. After coming up empty a small glimmer of white caught my eye. You cant see it in the picture because I hastly retrieved ball number one of the day but I will gladly point out in the picture where I found the baseball. The baseball was neatly tucked away against the black railing horizontally along the green wall with “336” on it. I just happened to look up there while I was putting my bag down, and I saw it. So I raced over to pick it up. I knew today was going to be a great day.
I played back in the rows for foul balls. I counted at least four that could have been mine if I got a good bounce. But as we all know when you want a good bounce you wont ever get one. Youll only get a good bounce when you least expect it. As the Mariners pitching staff got loose on the field David Aardsma quickly got to work throwing baseballs to kids. He ignored just about every adult to include Mariners fans ( like me ) that were calling to him. I guess he is just one of those players that thinks the kids should get everything. Ryan Rowland-Smith started to approach the wall to talk with some of his friends, and low and behold there was a baseball directly in his path. I lined up with him, and when he got close enough I very nicely asked for the baseball. He smiled, and tossed me my second of the day. What a gentleman.
Here is Ryan chatting with some of his buddies. So as I stood there to listen in on the conversation between Ryan, and his friends I noticed that john Wetteland had a small gathering of children that were respectfully listening to what he had to say. I could barely hear him so I started to move closer. He was explaining the doppler effect. As he finished explaining some kid raised his hand, and John awarded him with a baseball for whatever he had said. Then John said ” I have two baseballs left.” He stood in silence for about 30 seconds so I wandered over there to get a better listen.
John started to ask his question, and I soon realized that he was talking about everything he talked about on Monday! But this time he was handing out baseballs for the right answers! My third baseball was mine. No doubt about it! Johns question was this;
” What rare element was left on earth after the asteroid hit that wiped out all the dinosaurs?”
My hand shot up in an instant! John stared at me for a moment, and then called on me. Did he remember me from Monday? If he did, and I got the answer right would he still toss me a baseball? John was a fair man. He would do the right thing.
” Iridium.” I answered. FOR THE WIN!!
Ball number three was mine! Batting practice was FAR from over. I was on a roll! I thanked John, and resumed my precious spot in the rows of seats in foul territory.
Unfortunatly, I could only snag three during BP. So I headed over to the dugout ( Visitor side ) and waited on the Mariners to come out to warmup.
The National Athem came, and went. The security guards were ushering people that didnt belong out of their sections. Ill have to say this though. Busch Stadium is quite relaxed when it comes to allowing people to wander the stadium. Great American Ballpark wont allow you down behind the dugouts unless you have an actual ticket for that section. Which is really lame. Anyway. Oh, and U.S Cellular has the same stupid rules.
So the Mariners came out to warm up. I locked on to Josh Wilson. Him, and Jose Lopez threw around the ball for about 30 seconds, and then I started to move around in the row. I walked into his line of sight again, and waved my arms to him. He sent a rocket right to my glove. I think the baseball players have fun throwing to fans that arent right up in the front rows. If they arent having fun with it I sure am. I love to catch long distance throws. Was that my fourth baseball on the night? Yes, it sure was! I had all game long to break out, and get my fifth. So I carefully, and patiently waited for the right moment. I knew I had a for sure deal with the umpires. Well, not for sure…but I pretty good chance.
Since this was like my 30th game this season at Busch Stadium I have officially befriended two security guards in the sections that I roam. So it was no porblem to get hooked up with awesome seats for this game. My tactic? I whined a little bit about the ticket I purchased off of Stubhub.com. The first security guard I approached I simply asked if this was an aisle seat. He wasnt quite sure because the seat was actually against the railing. Which technically it WAS an aisle seat. But it wasnt an aisle seat I was happy with. So I told him what I was all about, and I also told him I knew one of the security guards in the section. So they ended up sticking me in wheel chair seating. Which let me tell you. Those seats are the best in the house. Theyre right up on the concourse, and it allows a person such as myself to gain extra advantage on anyone going after a baseball, and it allows me to get a great jump on a ball.
Yeah. Right behind everyone! No one to worry about if I had to jump for a baseball.
Sorry about the picture quality. I was just snapping pictures. Anyway, to my left is the steel railing. One step back, and I can dash down the concourse. Oh I prayed for a foul ball! I prayed for one of those t-shirt thingies to get launched my way! I prayed for rain drops! Something so I could run that concourse to catch something! But alas…nothing came my way. So I went to plan B. Plan B was simply this; run down to the end of the aisle on the third out, and snag a third out baseball from the Mariners coming off the field. Well, it was the seventh inning. I had to act fast.
The third out ball was a pop fly to the short stop. I made my move. I dashed down to the end of the aisle, and I came up empty. I was nearly crushed. But I kept my head up. I moved from where I had been sitting to a new seat. I sat as close to the dugout as possible.
So there I sat. As close as I could. I waited out the top of the eighth. Finally the bottom of the eighth came. The Cardinals grounded out to second base to end the inning so Ryan Langerhans ended up with the baseball. See the kid on the right of the picture? He was my only competition. Ryan Langerhans hooked me up immediatly.
AND THAT CONCLUDED MY FIVE BASEBALL NIGHT BECAUSE I WAS SO EXCITED I FORGOT TO GET NUMBER SIX FROM THE UMPIRE!
Game: Seattle Mariners Vs St Louis Cardinals 6-16-2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Five
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
I love baseball history. Great American Ballpark is full of history. Well, not the actual stadium. I mean the Cincinnati Reds have a lot of history. They put banners along the third base side of the stadium like this one…
And this one…
And this one. This is my all time favorite Reds highlight. Mainly because in my opinion no one will ever come close to breaking this record. Pete Rose was one of the greatest players in all of professional baseball. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame despite what he did. Period.
And of course we cant forget this one…
The man that got caught snoozin` in the Mariners clubhouse. The man that doesnt want to retire. The man that says he still has some gas left in his tank. Ken Griffey Jr is another one of my all time favorite players. If he had stayed healthy his entire career there would be no doubt in my mind that he would be the one that broke the all time home run record. Not Barry Bonds.
The crowd was light today. Here is a picture of my favorite security guard that told me to have a seat yesterday. I didnt press my luck with him today. I worked the dugout instead. ( No batting practice today ) I made small talk with one of the security guards that was running people off left, and right. The only reason why he let me stay was because I actually had a ticket for the section right behind the dugout. I bought one ticket on the aisle for $30 dollars off Stubhub.com. Can you believe that? On the aisle no less! Anyway. So he let me stay. I asked him about some of the rules as well. He told me that unless you have a ticket you cant stand behind the dugouts during batting practice. If you want to go stand in a different section but have a ticket for infield box level you can. But you have to stand three rows back, and once the crowd thickens you have to stand in the row.
As I was standing there some Reds players started heading to the dugout. I identified one player. J.R Towles.
Kind of a strange picture, I know. Its the only one I could find. Anyway. So I called out to him, and held up my glove. He threw me a perfect strike, and I thanked him. The security guard got a kick out of how easy I got a baseball. I mean, he was talking to me about how other fans try so hard to get one, and they never do. I just smiled. I wasnt about to tell him how many baseballs I usually get at games. More Reds players were on their way over to the dugout, and I started to wave my hand, and glove in the air.
See the guy in the blue shirt with the hat on? He saw me catch the baseball thrown by Towles. So this guy started busting my chops about it when I was trying for another baseball. He told me since I already got one I should let other fans get one. What other fans? In this picture do you see any other fans trying to get a baseball other than me, and this guy in the blue shirt? If I had turned around, and taken another picture of the stadium seating there were even LESS people behind me! Most of the fans were trying to get autographs. Not baseballs. I paced back, and forth in the row, and he stayed right in front of me. He would look back to make sure where I was, and make adjustments as I did. I was really annoyed. I finally said something to him.
” What are you trying to do here, sir? Are you trying to keep me from getting another baseball or are you trying to get you a baseball?” I asked as I paced.
” You already got one.” He said again for like the fifth time.
” I promise you I will leave this stadium with more than one baseball today. I got one yesterday, and Ive gotten at least one baseball in the last 30 games Ive attended in a row.” I said. I didnt want to air my stats, but what the heck.
” Youve got enough. Let others get one.” He finally looked back at me as he spoke.
All I could do was laugh. I told him how ridiculous he sounded, and I made my way over to the Reds bullpen area.
Look. A sign that says players arent allowed to sign autographs, or throw baseballs to the fans. Moments before I took this picture Aaron Harang was busy signing two autographs inside the bullpen for some fans. Maybe family members? I dont know. It was memorial day so maybe some lucky soldier, and his wife got to take a tour of the bullpen, and meet Harang. Anyway. The security guards continued to mean mug me as I took pictures so I decided to leave.
The game was finally under way, and I had awesome seats behind the dugout. I had on my Astros hat so I was pretty much guaranteed a few baseballs. Just like at Kauffman Stadium when Todd Helton threw me three baseballs. After the bottom of the first ended Hunter Pence came trotting over to the dugout. He had caught the final out of the inning so I raised my glove, and he tossed a high arching throw right to me. All I saw was about four or five hands taking swipes at the baseball. I caught the ball, and chuckled at all the attempts to catch it. The people next to me high fived me, and told me it was proabbly because I was wearing an Astros hat. Yeah. Probably. Then some guy behind me told me to put on my Reds hat, and get a baseball from a Reds player. I told him I would have to run to the other side of the stadium to do that. It was too hot to be running around for baseballs.
The game was a straight pitchers duel. Not one run was recorded. The bottom of the sixth had ended, and Lance Berkman ended up with the baseball. I raised my glove, again and hollered out to him. He tossed me a perfect throw, and I squeezed down on the ball. People behind me of course started to make their comments about how I had two baseballs now, and I should be giving them to the kids. But I did have some encouragement from some fans in front of me. They told me to keep doing what I was doing. I had planned to.
Finally the game reached the bottom of the ninth. I had made my move to where the umpires left the field just in case of a walk-off.
The Reds failed to score in their bottom half the of the ninth inning. So into extra innings we went. But it didnt take long for the game to end. The Astros scored two off of a Lance Berkman double into right center, and the Reds couldnt get any runs across home plate. After the finaly out I stood up, dodged a security guard and slinked up against the plexi-glass window. See the stairs? Yeah. I was RIGHT in front of them. The umpires started heading towards the stairs, and I asked for a baseball. The umpire nearly underthrew me so I had to stretch a little, and basket catch it. As soon as I got the ball some lady behind me started huffing, and puffing. She protested to her husband that I was the guy catching all the baseballs from the Astros, and I had like six! Really, lady? I had four. Anyway. She shoulder brushed passed me to get down to where I was to get a baseball but by the time she got there the home plate umpire had given out all the baseballs or was out of sight. I could hear her complaining all the way up into the main concourse. It was extremely slow getting out of Great American Ball Park.
Game: Cincinnati Reds Vs Houston Astros May 30th 2010 1:10pm.
Game Balls: Four
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