Sunday games at Safeco Field (or any ballpark for that matter) are always a challenge when it comes to attempting to snag baseballs. There’s no batting practice for one, and it’s usually family day so that means lots and lots of kids are coming out.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the years of “ballhawking” at Major League stadiums, 1) players like to throw baseballs to kids and 2) without batting practice, it makes things extremely tough. On the plus side, the Mariners were doing a little infield practice and I already saw an opportunity to snag a few baseballs.
When I ran over to the first base side I found a ball sitting in between the seats which was probably an over throw from one of the players while fielding fungos from one of the coaches. It wasn’t long before I scored another over throw:
After that, I ran over to where Fernando Rodney was throwing and when he was done throwing, I was able to get his autograph on my ticket stub:
On the other side of the stadium, the Rangers were slowly trickling out of the dugout to warm up down the third base side. It wasn’t long before I scored a third over throw that hit the padding of the wall. I quickly scooped it up and tossed it back onto the field.
See the guy with his leg up in this panoramic picture I took?
That’s one of the translators for one of the players and he was missing a lot of baseballs while playing long toss with Tanner Scheppers. And yup, you guessed it. Yet another over throw right into my glove. Of course I had to give it back because they only came out with one ball to play catch with.
My haul after all the players went inside:
(two pictured here because I gave two back)
And now the infamous ‘Pen dog that I’ve been waiting all year to eat…
…cream cheese smeared on the bun, a 100% all beef frank with caramelized onions and peppers…yum.
The Mariners quickly got two runs on the board with an Austin Jackson home run and a Nelson Cruz home run (Jason Phillips caught it in his hat. It was quite impressive and you should watch the replay).
The Rangers answered back in the 3rd with a single from Prince Fielder that scored Martin and moved Andrus to 2nd. And then the wheels literally fell off. Paxton was chased from the mound after giving up seven runs in the 3rd inning.
The Mariners continued their offensive battle with another Nelson Cruz 3-run home run into the Rangers bullpen. 7-5 Texas.
The Rangers made the score 10-5 in their top half of the sixth and the Mariners quickly rallied back in the bottom of the seventh and the eighth scoring three runs.
In the bottom of the ninth, it was time to put on the rally caps! The M’s came screaming back scoring one run to tie after Jackson ripped one to right field scoring Brad Miller. Seth Smith moved over to third base and all it took was a Nelson Cruz base walk-off base hit! He was mobbed at first base and the Mariners won in walk-off fashion!
Nelson Cruz went 3-6 with two home runs and five RBI’s! Wow! It feels really good to have such a power hitter in the line up. It’s been a long time since Seattle has had one.
The Mariners returned home after being swept out of Los Angeles by the Dodgers. It was frustrating and difficult to have any hope for this team. BUT. That’s kind of how it is as a Seattle Mariners fan. A lot of people were upset with Fernando Rodney because he blew two save opportunities; one game in which he should’ve won.
Anyway. The good ol’ Texas Rangers were in town for a three game series and tonight was College night on top of Bearded Hat night. The stadium would be a close sell-out. Because of those two reasons, I decided to come out to the ballpark a few hours earlier than normal. When I got to the stadium, Kyle Seager was being interviewed in Edgar’s Cantina on the Danny, Dave, and Moore show. Once he finished, I suppose that would’ve been a great opportunity to grab an autograph or a picture with the Gold Glove awardee but we just waved at each other and he was then carted off and out of my life:
Before all of that, I stood near Ryan Divish (A beat writer for the Seattle Times) out in front of Safeco Field:
He’s the one in front with the black back pack on. I tweeted at him and this is what he tweeted back:
Next time we shall, Ryan. Next time we shall.
Once inside the stadium, I hustled to the ‘Pen as usual and immediately got a toss-up from Willie Bloomquist. He’s one of my all-time favorite players. I gave that ball away to a friend of mine who has never really attempted to catch baseballs during BP before. During the process of getting the ball from Bloomquist, he asked me if I wanted a Selig ball or a Manfred ball. I told him it really didn’t matter; I wasn’t the picky type when getting anything from a player but good ol’ Willie B. insisted that he throw me a Manfred in decent condition.
Ackley stepped into the cage and absolutely raked home runs. Two moonshots were sent directly to me; one in which I caught on a nasty bounce near the Root Sports area and the second one I caught on an extremely lucky bounce off the garage door near the batters eye:
About half way up the door is where the ball hit and then bounced directly to me. Luckiest. Bounce. Ever.
After being allowed to roam the rest of the stadium, I went over to the third base seating bowl where I found one baseball, caught a foul ball on a bounce and got Shawn Tolleson to hook me up with my sixth ball of the day. My main objective was to get an autograph or a picture with a Rangers player. I’m trying to get a picture with one player from each team. So far I have pictures with the Marlins, Reds, Orioles, Rays, Angels, Mariners, Athletics, Indians, Tigers, Astros and Royals.
Adam Rosales ignored me, Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre signed at the dugout, Carlos Peguero said no and Roman Mendez ran right passed me. Blah.
Here’s my haul for the day, though:
And here’s a glorious picture of my $7 dollar wiener:
I sat in right field in section 106 about three rows up from the field in hopes to catch a home run ball. That’s where I’ll be sitting the majority of the games I attend just for that reason. I’ve caught so many BP baseballs and one foul ball during a game plus a handful of “3rd out” baseballs from various players. I think it would be awesome to catch a home run gamer and get that little 10 seconds of fame.
The game was ridiculous. I actually anticipated a blow out with J.A. Happ on the mound. He reminds me so much of “Safeco” Joe Saunders. The Rangers posted the first run of the game on a sharply hit double down the left field line that Ackley had trouble cutting off. Leonys Martin turned on the gas and scored easily from first base. Then in the fifth inning, Happ gave up a solo shot to deep centerfield to Robinson Chirinos. The ball bounced off a few hands and ended up down in the gap behind the center field wall and some fan jumped down there to get it. I was kind of jealous because I think at this point (and as packed as the stadium was) I would’ve risked jumping down there too for a home run ball. I’m not sure if security ever caught up with him or what. It’s totally worth the ejection if ever caught, though.
The Mariners grounded into three double play balls that literally killed their momentum to score each time. It was brutal to watch. They did finally tack on a run in the bottom of the eight off of a Seth Smith sac fly that scored Miller from third base but the Rangers came back and extended the lead again with an Adam Rosales single. The ball literally hit the third base bag which allowed Chirinos to score.
Final score: Rangers 3 Mariners 1.
Tomorrow is Felix Hernandez bobble head day.
Before I get into the Mariners game I wanted to share something else with my readers. Its been some time and I actually considered blogging about my experience but it wasn’t really worth it in my eyes. I attended my very first Minor League baseball game at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett Washington on August 10th. That’s where the Everett AquaSox play if you aren’t familiar with MiLB. Anyway, I went with my Dad and when we arrived at the stadium this is the first thing I saw…
It was either a home run ball from last night or maybe a batting practice home run from earlier. Since I went into the stadium at 5:30pm I assumed it could have been a BP homer ball. I wasn’t sure if in the Minors the teams had BP or not…but later I found out from another fan that the AquaSox didn’t take BP before this particular game. So the baseball is undoubtably a home run baseball from the night prior. And yes of course I was able to get the baseball in the above picture.
If you’re wondering what an official MLB baseball is doing in an official MiLB baseball stadium it’s because the minor leaguers get hand-me-down baseballs when they’re too used for MLB standards. Not all of the baseballs they use are MLB baseballs though.
The picture above is me holding to my very first baseball ever snagged at a MiLB game. I really won’t go into the details of how the game went. The Aquasox got beat up pretty bad in the fifth allowing the Tri-City Dust Devils to score seven runs. My Dad and I left shortly after the seventh run was scored by the opposition and on my way out of the stadium I snagged two more baseballs; one of which I passed off to a kid with his mother as they too were exiting the stadium. The two baseballs I snagged were foul balls and both of them have the Official Ball Northwest League stamp on them.
When I got out onto the party deck in the ‘Pen at Safeco Field the area filled up pretty fast. Before I knew it I had some serious competition. There were lots of people my age, young, and athletic that had baseball gloves on. But that didn’t stop me from getting my first baseball on the day due to someone elses error. Jeff Gray was in the outfield playing pretty deep and he got a lot of baseballs hit to him. It was only a matter of time when he would throw one up and when he did I would be right there to catch the bobble or the overthrow.
In the above photo I took of the party porch the guy in the light blue jersey with the red arrow over his head,(he didn’t really have that arrow over his head at the game) continued to call out to Jeff Gray who can barely be visible on the right side of the photo. You can see his glove. Gray finally acknowledged the requests for a baseball and at that moment when he fielded the next baseball he turned around to throw it into the crowd. I ran up and stood behind everyone waiting for a bobble or an overthrow. And of course Gray overthrew the entire crowd and I ended up catching the baseball. The guy in the light blue jersey back peddled into me causing a small collision but I held onto the baseball.
Brandon League has to be about the most awesome baseball player I’ve ever watched play the game. He’s hooked me up with a baseball before on 5-18-2011 at Safeco Field but I wanted another one from him. If you want to look at my complete list of all the players that have thrown me baseballs just click here. I was on the third base side when I got my first ball from League and that was pretty easy to catch. This time I was way up here…
…overlooking the bullpens and left field to be specific. That’s Brandon League fielding the baseball and this is the results:
Brandon League is on the right.
I went out to centerfield, or more like right center, and when I got out there I saw a ton of baseballs down in the gap. Well, maybe not a ton, more like five or six. I quickly put together my glove trick but I was abruptly stopped by security. He gave me the worst attitude and told me, “There ain’t no none of that around hurr!” and literally shoo-ed me out of the section. He then proceeded to climb down the ladder, retrieve all the baseballs and gave them all to kids. He’s the security guard I’m always complaining about that isn’t adult-friendly.
Kids have their whole lives to get baseballs. Why can’t these security guards be more selective of who they give baseballs to? And I’m pretty sure they aren’t supposed to be giving them away anyway. Most security guards that I talk to have told me they aren’t supposed to touch them. Anyway. I’ve ranted about these security guards so much in my blogs. I’ve battled them day in and day out at the stadiums. It’s always going to be like this and no matter how much or how little fans complain about them nothing will change.
I was hoping to get at least one more baseball to make it to 100 on the season. But after that incident with the security guard nothing else really happened. When the Blue Jays came out to stretch and throw the baseball around I did try to glove trick a baseball off the warning track. Jesse Litsch turned around and threw a baseball at my glove which knocked the sharpie out of it so I couldn’t get the baseball. He told me to stop because that was his “throwing ball”. Some fans were on my side and yelling at Jesse to just let me get it. But I stuck up for Jesse because I knew what he was talking about. He didn’t want me to have that specific baseball because it was used enough where he was comfortable throwing it. Some of the newer balls they practice with aren’t quite broke in enough. That helped the fans around me understand and they backed off Jesse. I think he appreciated that because he tossed a couple baseballs into the crowd to other people and not me. He did give me my sharpie back though.
The stadium was full of Jays fans…
The Mariners started to get beat up on pretty bad and by the fourth inning it was 0-4 Blue Jays. So I left. I couldn’t stand to see the Mariners lose on such a beautiful day in Seattle.
I’ve started a new blog too. Its called A View From the Bullpen. It’s really fun stuff to read. I’ve always wanted to blog kind of sarcastically about things that happen around the Major Leagues. You know, kind of give my “expert” opinion on crap? You understand, I’m sure of it.
Game; August 17th 2011 Toronto Blue Jays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $160.00 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $39.40 this
After surviving yesterday I figured I’d come back for more. I actually didn’t have a ticket for this game but yesterday while I was waiting on friends to arrive I was complaining about how I didn’t have a ticket to Saturday’s game and I also mentioned my charity. If you want to read about my charity all you have to do is click here. Anyway. So as I was complaining a nice guy at the front of the line told me he is a season ticket holder, and he had an extra ticket for tomorrows game. I quickly asked him what he wanted for it and we agreed on $20 dollars. That’s a bargain price considering it was a premium game and all the cheap seats were sold out. Without hesitation I took the deal.
Twenty minutes before the gates opened this is the size of the crowd.
Once inside, everyone of course, was crammed onto the party deck. Toss-ups were out of the question so I immediatly left and took my spot at the stairs near the bullpen and patiently waited another 20 minutes to be allowed into the rest of the stadium. The only highlight I have to report is that Brandon League tried to hook up a fan that was calling for a baseball but missed it. I don’t know how he missed it. It was thrown right to him. If it weren’t for the huge hoards of people trying to inch their way passed everyone in line I would have stepped out of line and made the catch. But instead the guy wiffed it, and the ball ended up hitting some little girl in the side that was in front of me. She, of course, started crying. I’m not sure she was actually hurt or it just caught her off guard. And then all of a sudden some lady standing by said, “You know what? She should get that baseball.” I have mixed feelings about these kinds of situations. That’s all I’m going to say.
5:10pm. The stairs were opened up and it was a rat race for the best spot in the stadium to catch a baseball. I knew standing on the baselines wasn’t going to work for me. Even if a foul ball was hit directly to me it would be hard to catch because so many hands, kids, gloves and whatever else would be going for it. So I wandered the rows for a little while looking for any overlooked baseballs, and then I took a comfy spot behind the manual scoreboard. If anything, I’d be able to glove trick a baseball out of there if someone were to drop a toss-up or boot a catch. And it wasn’t long before that happened. A baseball came in and a fan reached out to make the catch and dropped it. Unfortunatly, the baseball landed here.
Sorry for the blurriness. That baseball was nearly impossible to get. But I did have a backup plan to get it. I’d just wait until the scorekeeper came out and I’d ask them for it. I could have tried to get it but I didn’t want to risk it falling down underneath the scoreboard. Where the ball is sitting there is a small gap where the baseballs can fit and they fall down onto some walkway.
As I was taking pictures and trying to formulate a plan to get that baseball I looked further down behind the scoreboard and I spotted another baseball. It wasn’t there before. Someone must have dropped it. I assembled my glove trick, and then arrogantly asked any other fans if they were going to attempt to get the baseball. Everyone sort of laughed, and I shrugged my shoulders and asked a fan near me if he minded that I tried. He laughed again, and asked, “Will you get kicked out if you jump down there?” It was my turn to laugh…
The baseball was positioned right at the end of that long board laying on the floor. If you didn’t read about my glove trick incident at my last game attended, you should. Click here. Today I had a new and improved glove trick. No more of this easily breakable shoe string. I had boidegradable twine! Yes folks. That’s right. Twine. It doesn’t bind up, he doesn’t knot up, and it’s strong as an ox!
Once the Phillies came onto the field I tried really hard to get Cliff Lee to toss me a baseball. Unfortunatly, when he did, a crowd of teenaged kids were in front of me and when the baseball came close enough for me to catch it, it was easily deflected off of someones’ glove. The ball fell down into the bullpen where a cop scooped it up and tossed it to the nearest kid. Boo! And remember the baseball that was sitting behind the scoreboard? Yeah, it was still there. But now I had competition. A young kid came down to wait on the ball too. Fortunatly for him, he had tickets to be seated in the left field bleachers. I didn’t. So as soon as BP ended the security guards began their search to find people without tickets that were sitting in their sections. I had limited time. And then I finally gave up on the ball. The left field seats filled up fast, I was without a ticket, and securiy was extra tight. So I let the kid have the ball. I’m not sure if he got it or not but as I left the area five minutes before the game I saw the scorekeeper behind the scoreboard. Here’s a picture of the kid waiting on the ball. Kudos to him for having patience of steel.
And here is a picture of how crowded the ‘Pen area got.
The game was awesome though. Even though the Mariners lost 5-1, Dustin Ackley hit his first Major League home run. Which was pretty cool to see. So congratulations to Dustin on his first career jack. I also saw him hit his first Major League hit the day prior.
Game; June 18th 2011 Philadelphia Phillies vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $97.15 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.40 this
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