Despite all my problems I’ve been having with my camera during the last couple of games I’ve attended at Safeco Field, I’ve been doing pretty good at snagging baseballs and keeping my numbers up. Today, there would be a new wrench thrown into my plans. Dustin Ackley bobble head night. It’s awesome that I’m here because this is Ackley’s very first bobble head night- despite him not even being in the lineup- and because I plan to auction it off for my charity, Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. If all goes well, I should be able to raise at least $50 bucks. I plan to auction some more signed baseballs off like the ones I auctioned off two months ago to continue to raise money for my charity, and that was very successful. I think I was able to raise like, $100 bucks. Even with all that going on, I took on another charity project called The Help Holly campaign. So far I’ve raised $14 bucks for her and today’s game would be the final game (unless I get word from my Dad who is donating money per baseball that I snag that he’d like to continue donating when I visit Angels Stadium early next week) in which I’ll be snagging baseballs to help raise money for Holly. It’s been a tremendous ride so far.
These bobble head nights really only attract the bandwagon fans. The attendance nearly doubles when the teams give these things away. Most people only come out to get the bobble head and then they go home. It’s sorta weird, but hey, everyone has their thing they do at the ballpark, right?
When I got to the stadium roughly three hours early, this was the site at the ticket windows:
I found it a little bit odd that Safeco was nearly a ghost town at 1:56pm on a Ackley bobble head night. As I turned the corner and headed to the center field gates and as another hour passed:
The crowd started to thicken up a little bit. But not by much. The above photo was taken at approximiatly 2:56pm. One hour and forty-four minutes before the gates were to open.
When the gates finally did open, the crowd was much, much bigger. And like always, with large capacity games, my options to start snagging baseballs had drastically changed. Safeco security had barricaded off the ‘Pen immediately to my right so I didn’t waste any time trying to get through there after I snagged my Ackley bobble head. I simply bolted for the right field bleachers. And for the first three minutes, I had the entire place to myself. Everyone was so stuck on getting their bobble head- and me being the first one inside- gave me such a head start on snagging baseballs, it wasn’t even funny.
Ball number one:
Ball number two:
Ball number three:
After plucking that one out of the seat, I tried to hand it off to a young girl that was scampering down the stairs with her father. But she totally ignored me and continued on her way. Later, I was able to hand it to her and her Dad pleasantly thanked me.
Ball number four:
Ball number five:
Ball number six:
And here’s what happened to ball number six:
Ball number seven was quickly snagged out of another cupholder and immediately tossed to the nearest kid with a glove which turned out to be my 50th baseball snagged this season. How amazing is that? On 5-22-2012, I was questioning whether I’d hit that small milestone in the second month of baseball and I absolutely did! And then I ran into this guy:
That’s Andrew. What’s totally awesome about this guy is; while I was walking around aisle after aisle snagging a 2012 season high of seven baseballs, he says to me, “Hey, man. I think I read your blog.” And of course, I really didn’t put two and two together initially, so I kind of just gave a friendly hello and left it at that. Then I got to thinking. Hey, this guy is the first person to actually recognize me at the stadium and mention my blog! I stopped what I was doing, got the picture taken and then handed a baseball off to him. How sweet is that, though? It’s nice to be recognized for something I have a lot of passion for; Andrew even explained how much of an animal lover he is. So that made it equally awesome. How did he find my blog? Him and a friend are planning a summer trip to some baseball games and wanted to know the ins and outs of some of the stadiums. My blog surfaced in their quest for information and there you have it!
After finding seven baseballs and giving three away, the real fun was about to start. Have you ever heard of the Long Haul Bombers?
These guys were making an appearance at Safeco Field before the game and it seemed like nobody knew about it until the last-minute. One of my friends in the GirlsCorner asked me if I knew who the Long Haul Bombers were and of course I had no clue. She led me into the upper deck in left field and told me to stand as far back as I could. Well, I didn’t snag anything, but these guys smashed some unbelievably long home runs! It was something to see for sure!
Here’s a pictures I tried to take of one of the softballs banking off the Hit it Here Cafe…
The red circle is where the softball is. Its up near the Hit it Here Cafe. That’s how far those guys were hitting them! As far as left field was concerned, they were able to reach the upper deck, no problem! I came close to snagging a couple, but it was so crowded, the only way to get one was for it to be hit right to you.
I survived yet another large capacity crowd and another chaotic giveaway night. Although, I didn’t stay for the game, I still count this as a game attended and my streak continues to 115 games with at least one baseball. According to MyGameballs.com, I’m currently tied for fourth in longest active streaks among the Ballhawking community with snagging at least one baseball per game that I’ve attended. I’ve come close a couple of times where I didn’t think I’d catch a baseball but it always seems to work out in the end. The most memorable game I attended where I didn’t snag a baseball until like, the ninth inning, was when I visited Oakland last year. Jason Phillips actually hooked me up with my 100th baseball that game, If you’re interested, you can read all about it, here.
I’m snagging baseballs for puppies again this season for the Seattle Humane Society! If you want to check out my charity information, just click here!
Last season, with the help of all of you, we were able to raise over $250 dollars! This year I’d like to break $300!
Today’s game snagging Highlights: Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 23,519
Baseballs snagged: seven (found all in RF bleachers)
Total baseballs snagged this season: 50
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised at this game: $14.28
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $96.70
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00
Total number of donors this season: 9
Total number of donors last season: 7
Now that I’m back traveling to different baseball stadiums around the United States my charity has picked up again. If you didn’t know or are just browsing my blogs and are interested in more information about my charity I will provide the links that you can click on to check it all out. But allow me to explain a little bit about it first before you get all click happy. I’ve been going to live baseball games ever since I was nine years old and my very first baseball game was at the Kingdome in Seattle in 1989. Since then I’ve always wanted to catch baseballs at stadiums. Well, growing up I never really got the opportunity to do so. But in 2004 things really changed for me. It was during my first tour of Iraq when I was in the Army and I came home on Rest and Relaxation leave for two weeks. My friends in Kansas City had tickets to a double-header Kansas City Royals game. I didn’t really catch the baseball but an usher/security guard hooked me up with one when she found out that I was home from Iraq. Later I got the baseball signed by some Royals baseball players.
Since then I’ve made it a priority to travel the United States to see baseball games at different stadiums I haven’t been to yet. I’ve been to Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, AT&T Park, PETCO Park, Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Coors Field, Kauffman Stadium, Busch Stadium, US Cellular, and Great American Ballpark. Last year was my first playoff game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. This year alone I have been to five new stadiums. PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Oakland Coliseum, Angels Stadium of Anaheim, and Coors Field. And if everything works out for me I plan to get to Sun Life Stadium AND Chase Field this year. And maybe one more round at AT&T Park. I love that stadium so much. I’d love to catch a ball out on the Cove too. So anyway. This year I wanted to do something extra special WHILE doing my thing at baseball stadiums. Since 2004 Ive snagged 194 baseballs over the course of the years and this year alone I have snagged a career high of 97. I hooked up with the Seattle Humane Society and I was like, “Hey, I snag baseballs at Major League baseball games. How about if I find people to make a pledge per ball that I catch and at the end of the year tally up all the pledges and donate a ton of money to you guys..?” And they were like, “Whoa Wayne, that sounds awesome! Sure! We’d love to support that!” And I was like, “Okay, cool! I’ll go buy a ticket to a game and get to work!” Well, so far I’ve raised $160.00. That might not seem like a lot of money but think about how much money you spend on YOUR dog every month. $160.00 of other people’s’ money goes a long way at an animal shelter. Plus all the other things I’m bringing down there. Blankets, cans of dog food that I’m buying with my own money, (and yes I’m pledging money to my own charity as well) and an assortment of toys too. So if you want to get on board here is the link you can click on. Click here. Also if you want to follow me on Twitter you can click here. And if you want to follow me on Facebook you can click here.
I put the next stadium on my list on my sights and headed out. I landed in Orange county California around 11am and took a $40 dollar cab ride to my hotel room. Just for your information, (and I normally don’t do this) but I stayed at a Motel 6 when I went to Coors Field on 5-27-2011 and it was probably the worst experience of my life. Not only did I have to pay $5.99 for internet that barely worked but people were constantly coming and going all throughout the night. The actual room itself had that lingering cigarette smoke smell which just made me sick every time I went inside. Well, I stayed at a Motel 6 again when I arrived in Anaheim. The room was a lot better but I still had to pay for internet. $2.99 this time. That’s not the worst part. I couldn’t check into my room until 3pm! I had one bag of luggage that I had to leave behind in some back room and then I took a $10 dollar cab ride to the nearest Denny’s. But Denny’s milkshakes always makes things better.
When Angels Stadium of Anaheim came into view I took this photo…
…it was a glorious sight. Angels Stadium of Anaheim. My first time being here. I expected it to be really hot but it was really just a cool 85 degrees. As I ventured on I started my exploration of the stadium. Did you know that this stadium was built in 1967? That is a ton of baseball history folks. Seriously.
Right field gates. The area surrounding the stadium reminded me of PETCO Park when I visited there on 6-24-2011. All the green palm trees and lush vegetation. It was almost like a theme park. Oh wait. Disney land is right up the road! No wonder!
When I walked further around the stadium I found the back entrance where the baseball players entered the stadium. Of course there was a small group of people asking for autographs and sharing stories of how they got their favorite player to sign. There is always a group of people like this at every stadium. But since there was so much dense vegetation hiding the players parking lot the autograph hounds had to get creative.
Pretty sweet, right? Maybe the plants are like that because so many autographs have been signed that either the players or the autograph seekers just naturally broke plant branches away. Or maybe the grounds crew trims the bushes like that. Who knows. I continued my walk around the stadium..
The giant halo statue. But that’s as close as I got to it. I continued my stroll around the stadium and ended up at the front office. The door was wide open so I walked inside to find the lovely secretary taking phone calls at the desk. We talked for a moment but she was entirely too busy to field any of my questions. Instead I took some photographs of the front office. Take a look…
…and here’s a staircase that leads to Angels heaven…
Before I left I made sure to ask the secretary for some rubber bands. I had forgotten some before I left Seattle and I was frantic about it. Rubber bands are key for the glove trick. I didn’t know what I’d be up against at Angels Stadium so I wanted to get my hands on some rubber bands before batting practice started. And whaddayaknow! She had some!
When I finally made it to will call to pick up my tickets I was so hot and tired, (mainly from lack of sleep) that I decided to pull up some bench and catch a cat nap. It was just after 12pm anyway so I had boat loads of time. I think I slept until about 3pm. I felt energized and ready to snag some baseballs! The stadium didn’t open for another two hours so I found a comfy spot by the gate, out of the sun, out of anyones’ way and just relaxed. Being in Anaheim for the first time was really cool. I still couldn’t believe I was here. I would consider moving down here but I think I’d miss Seattle too much. I love Safeco Field.
The front of the stadium looks just like a movie set from Hollywood. With all those oversized baseball bats and oversized baseballs it definitely had the Disneyland theme going on there. But it was unique in a way. It wasn’t like the other stadiums. Of course being built in 1967 how could it be like all the other new stadiums? I couldn’t wait to get inside!
Here is me, me and me standing outside the stadium…
Isn’t that just the best picture ever? My Dad made it for me. Well, I didn’t really come up with the idea until after I boarded the plane to head back to Seattle…and now I wish I would have done different poses to make it look cooler. But it’s still cool. My Dad, in my professional opinion, is a pro photographer. He really does some quality stuff and if you want to check it out all you have to do is click here.
After my nap and after clowning around with my camera it was time to enter the stadium. I was so stoked. I didn’t have a game plan because, well, I’ve never been here before. I thought about following the crowd. But the problem with that is from a baseball snagging standpoint you want to go where fewer people are. So whichever way they went I’d go the opposite way. When the gates opened at 5pm sharp I bolted for the turnstiles. The security guard scanned my ticket and the crowd took a hard left towards the first base side. I took mental note that the Angels were on the first base side. Why else would a mob of Angels fans go that way? So I took a hard right and raced down the concourse for an open tunnel to enter the field level area. As soon as I found one I darted in and raced towards the dugouts…but I was stopped by security. Great. What stupid rule does Angels Stadium impose on their fans today? The security guard asked for my ticket and I just knew I wasn’t allowed down by the dugouts unless I had a ticket for that section. Even during batting practice. I hate these rules. It’s so anti-fan. It makes baseball less fun. Why not allow all fans to wander the entire stadium? Who cares? I was told by security I could enter the field level seating area at section 130. I knew she was going to say something like that so I snatched my ticket back and ran away before she really could explain anything to me. I’d figure it out on my own if anything.
When I got out in right field Tyler Chatwood was fielding the majority of the baseballs. He never once looked up at anyone or paid anyone any attention. And he’d pass the baseball off to Fernando Rodney and he would throw the ball in.
The base walls were about 5 feet high so there would be no leaning over the wall and making an easy scoop. If I wanted a baseball I’d have to literally hang upside down to scoop one up. In the next picture take a look at how high the walls are here at Angels Stadium…
Not only the high walls a major problem but the bright sun was in my face. Any home run ball or any foul ball that came my way I’d have to look directly into the sun. But incidentally enough the bright sun actually helped me. An older gentleman came wandering over and stood on my right side. Bobby Cassevah continued his warm-up tosses to his throwing partner, and then as he finished up he fielded a ground ball that came his way. People were calling out to him and at that time I had on my Twins hat. I was kind of kicking myself for putting on the hat prematurely. But to Bobby Cassevah it made no difference. He tossed the baseball right to me but the glaring sun was so bright I just stuck my glove out, closed my eyes, and hoped it would make it to me. This was the result…
…it was stamped with a “practice” logo on it which meant it was made in China. Still pretty cool. I don’t think I have a baseball with that particular stamp on it. I do have plenty of “practice” baseballs though.
I decided to circle the stadium and take more photos now that the pressure was off of getting a baseball. I really only wanted one. Just to say I caught a baseball at Angels Stadium. Mission complete. I went out into the outfield to check out the action. It was dead except for a few Angels Stadium regulars. When the baseballs clear the outfield fence in centerfield there is a security guard by the name of Patrick. He collects them all up and hands them off to various Angels Stadium regulars. I tried to get one from him but since he didn’t know me it wasn’t going to happen.
There’s a picture of Patrick. Notice where he is walking too. When baseballs land on that area they really spring-board off of it and into the seats. It’s really a lot of fun to try to run them down after they bounce. And in the result of that I took a hard spill into the seats when Jim Thome sliced one my way. It landed about where Patrick is standing and bounced over my head. I leaned way to my right to try to catch it but I lost my footing and went down onto the seating row. It hurt so bad and I thought I had maybe bruised a rib or even cracked one. It turned out to be just a minor scratch that ended up turning into a major bruise. And I didn’t even get the baseball. That was one of the two things I wanted to do while in Anaheim. Catch a Jim Thome home run ball either from BP or during the game. Jim Thome has so much power. It was a lot of fun watching him drop bombs to both sides of the stadium.
I went back over to the first base side to watch some of the Twins warmup and maybe snag an overthrow or two. When I arrived the woman in the below picture got nailed by a foul ball and when Alex Burnett came over to see if she was okay she immediately asked for an autograph. I thought that was pretty funny. Alex took the time to sign a few and then wandered off to shag fly balls.
If I would have been there a few seconds earlier that would have been my second ball on the day. And I may have been able to save the woman from getting hit by a baseball too. As Alex was signing Mr Jim Thome came out to stretch and do his pre-game routine. I think he came out just to get a crowd reaction. And he got one alright. People were begging for his autograph. He never once looked at the crowd or responded to one request.
He didn’t stay out long and then it was back into the dugout. Having almost caught a baseball off his bat moments ago only made this moment that much more special for me. I even called out to him that I would be the guy that would catch his 600th career home run. How true that was? Probably not very. He’s not an everyday player anymore either. So it would be a miracle to see him hit number 600 while I was here in Anaheim. But that’s why I came out.
After batting practice ended I would usually fight my way down to the dugouts to try to get one more baseball. But since Angels Stadium decided that only fans with those tickets should be allowed by the dugouts I didn’t bother to even try. I probably could have made it but I still wanted to watch the game. Getting kicked out of the stadium before the game wasn’t my thing. I went and found my seat instead and waited for the game to start. When it did here was my view…
Front row seating in fair territory! There was no possible way I wouldn’t end up catching something while sitting here! I think it was about the third inning when Peter Bourjos launched a deep drive right to me. I stood up as soon as it was hit and I watched it reach its apex. I thought to myself, “Wow! Here it comes! My first home run ball!” But the baseball continued to climb and fall deeper and deeper. I knew it was going to go deeper than my row so I turned and started to climb the stairs after it. But at that time fans just poured out into the staircase in front of me and I was blocked by kids. I made a lame attempt at trying to catch it but it landed two or three rows farther back. I waited for the bounce but it was a clean catch made by the fan that caught it.
Around the fifth or six inning Denard Span launched one nearly in the same spot but it bounced out of the guys hands and landed down in the tunnel area where the on duty cop chased after it and gave it to the nearest fan. And after that the Angels made a pitching change. So I snapped this photo of Vernon Wells hanging out.
The Angels were absolutely stomped by the Twins. They lost 11-4 and Jim Thome wasn’t even on the roster. I have one more day in Anaheim so I hope I’ll get to see him play.
Game; August 3rd 2011 Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $156.85 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $38.50 this
When I entered Safeco Field at 4:40pm Pacific Standard Time (PST) I immediatly made a bee-line for the bullpens. I never expected to see this when I got there…
…sitting on the ledge is a Rosin Bag and there was a baseball as well. But I was able to reach through on the left side of the fence and grab it. In the process I bruised my bicep muscle though because the baseball was sitting on the right side of the microphone cord. So I had to extend further than my arm would allow. Hence leaving a bruise. No worries. I just slapped some ice on their after the game and moved on. How cool though, right? And yes I did think about taking the rosin bag as well but with security standing right there and also not knowing if it was even allowed to take a rosin bag out of the bullpen…I just left it alone. But how cool would that be to take home a Major League rosin bag?
Batting practice was absolutely insanely boring. The Mariners didn’t hit one single BP home run. They tossed a few baseballs into the crowd on the party porch and through the bullpen. But other than that…nothing. So I took some pictures while I waited for the Padres to take the field.
What’s sad about todays game was the crowd was so small. I should have hauled out at least five baseballs during batting practice. And when the Padres came out to bat it was more of the same. Just lazy fly balls that didn’t go anywhere. The Padres tuned the fans out and just stood around on the field too.
My buddy Josh, (you can check out his impressive stats so far this year by clicking here) tried to get someone from the Mariners to hook him up with a baseball. But whoever it was drastically overthrew Josh and the ball sailed about a hundred feet over his head. It landed somewhere a few rows back and the dude in the white shirt got it.
Did I mention how boring batting practice was? Well, I didn’t stick around in the outfield for very long and I figured if I were going to get my second ball of the day it would have to be where all the baseballs were. By the dugout. So that’s where I headed.
Here’s a quick picture showing where I waited for a BP home run.
And on my way to the dugout, Padres closer Heath Bell stopped to sign for a fan that asked nicely. Heath Bell is another super-nice baseball player. He tries really hard to accomodate all the fans, and he plays really hard too.
Since it was 80’s turn back the clock night at Safeco Field, here is what the ballgirls were wearing…
And here is a picture of BP just about to end.
After being denied a baseball by multiple players I decided to leave Safeco Field and go get a hotdog down the street between some parking lots and Qwest Field with some friends. And if you’ve never been down this street to get a hotdog, you’re missing out. But it’s kind of a long walk. So we are all sitting there talking and Josh tells me that he tried to call me multiple times to tell me that a baseball was dropped behind the manual scoreboard. I asked him if it was still there and he said he didn’t know. I took off running back towards Safeco Field at that point. Re-checked my bag through security, ran up the stairs, through the concourse, and down the left field sections to the scoreboard. I dodged security, and assembled my glove trick to get the baseball. It was quite some distance out so I had to try to knock it closer. Once I got it close enough to pluck it out of there it was pretty easy. Then I returned to the hotdog stand to get my hotdog and relax.
Here was the view of where I sat during the game…
One foul ball came my way and it landed on top of some ladies head. I’ve always been against trying to catch a baseball with any other body part except your hands. Its just not a good idea. The lady obviously needed medical attention but of course refused it when they showed up. She just accepted their icepack and left it at that. The guy that caught the ball that bounced off her head gave it to her but she refused…and then took it anyway. All jokes aside, if you ever get hit in the head by a foul ball during a Major League baseball game or even a Minor League baseball game, make sure you go to the hospital and let a professional check you out. Even if you feel fine. For your own sake.
Game; July 1st 2011 San Diego Padres vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $145.30 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $35.80 this
Unfortunatly this blog entry will be without pictures. When I synced them off of my iphone, somehow I must have clicked DELETE ALL OF THEM. Well, my last blog entry when I tried to upload pictures a different way they came out way distorted. So no pictures.
Typical evening game at Kauffman. Although it was a Saturday so the crowd was a little larger than normal. Maybe 18,000? Who knows. All I know was it was COOOLLDDD and MISSERABLEEE!! I hate games like these too. But running around got the blood pumping, and got my spirits up. I wasnt as aggressive going after baseballs as I was last night though. The game was delayed by an hour due to rain, and the crowd kind of set the town. It was military appreciation day. So a lot of the attention from the players went to those guys. Most of them wore their uniforms, and brought their children. So really my chances of getting a ball was dwindling by the moment when I saw all the guys in uniform with little kids.
I pulled my WhiteSox cap down tightly, and prepared to enter. BATTING PRACTICE WAS CANCELED!?!?!? Oh boy. This was bad. Luckily Garcia was out throwing the ball around. So I raced over to the third base side calling to him to throw me a ball. I was desperate at this point. I had to really fight now. He threw it to a kid. BLAST! I then spotted two baseballs sitting out in the rain on the edge of the grass in deep centerfield. I darted out there. Switching caps on the fly. I didnt know who was going to get these baseballs. But when they did I would be ready. I sat on them for 52 minutes, and finally a grounds crew member came over, and scooped them up. If you ask for one they say they cant throw them to anyone. But thats a lie. Ive seen them throw them to kids in every stadium Ive been to.
Now what? Well, the baseball players usually warm up right before the game. That was my only shot. I ran back to the third base side, and I switched caps. Id have to try to get a ball from a White Sox. It was my only chance. The game started at 7:05pm. When no player came out of the dugout to throw the ball around by 6:55pm, I knew the game was delayed. It was. One hour later Mark Teahen, Gordon Beckman, and Alexei Ramirez came out, and started running, throwing the ball around, and stretching. Two baseballs, a thousand kids, a thousand military men, and women, and ME. Mark Teahen, and Beckman were the first to get done. Beckham gave the ball to Teahen, and he wandered over to the stands. He signed it, and handed it to a soldier with his kid. Great. One ball left, and Ramirez had it. He was throwing with the strength, and conditioning trainer. So Ramirez would end up with the ball. And he did. I called to him.
” Alexei-SMACK!” The ball smacked right into the heal of my glove. Some lady next to me was caught off guard, and stared at me wide-eyed.
I smiled, and headed up into the concourse for some food, and shelter from the cold, and rain, and some guy stopped me.
” Hey, that guy..he threw a ball to you.” An older gentleman said to me in passing.
” Alexei Ramirez. Yeah, he did.” I nodded, and smiled.
” How did you get him to do that?” He asked.
” I asked him for the ball. Its pretty simple.” I said.
” He saw your Chicago hat. Thats why he threw it to you.” Said the man.
” Yeah, the probably has something to do with it.” I said in return.
” So you have more than just that ball in your backpack then. You probably got a bunch.” He continued.
” No, not today. I only have this one. Yesterday I was able to get four though.” I shrugged.
” FOUR?! You mean to tell me you got four baseballs yesterday, youre here again today, and you got ANOTHER one?” He looked at me shocked, and in disbelief.
” Yes sir. Thats what Im telling you.” I nodded, and shifted my weight onto my other leg as I stood on the stairs.
” What do you do with all these baseballs you get? How many baseballs do you have altogether?” He asked.
“Well, this one that I caught just now is my 40th. Its my 28th Ive gotten this season.” I answered back.
” Fourty!!?? How many games do you go to? You must go to a lot to get all these baseballs!” Wide-eyed now the man shifted in his seat seemingly astonished.
” This would be my eleventh or twelveth game this season. And no. Im not from Chicago.” I chuckled.
He smiled warmly at me, padded me on the arm, and dismissed me. After I jetted up the stairs I could barely hear the old man chuckle, and tell his wife how impressive those numbers were. If only this guy knew Zack Hample.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Chicago WhiteSox May 15th 2010 7:05pm.
Game Balls: One
My last blog about Cellular field, and their fans was kind of harsh, I suppose. I had a bad experience. You know what they say about first impressions. Well, the WhiteSox were hosting the Kansas City Royals for a three game home stand, and I always have great success with the Royals throwing me baseballs. So I figured I would try my luck with them on the road. Since it was a weekday, and both of these teams were struggling to maintain a decent spot in the division, I figured the crowd would be minimum. I checked Monday nights attendance, and it was somewhere in the low 20,000 range. Perfect.
Finally arriving at U.S Cellular field, I made my way around the stadium. It was such a beautiful day but very windy. I had to pull my baseball cap down over my eyes to keep it from blowing off of my head. Like many games before I was the first fan at the stadium. I feel thats probably the first step in success in getting as many baseballs as possible at a game. Being the first person in line. Also, in the picture above do you notice something with the gates? Yep. That specific gate was open, and no security around. I wandered over for a closer look.
Yes folks. This gate was unlocked, open, and no one around to guard it. I quickly went into daydream mode. I thought about going inside, and having the whole stadium to myself. I dreamt about going down to field level, and claiming all the easter eggs in the seats. I got endless autographs. I got endless baseballs. My bag was filled to the brim, and I could barely zip it up. I had to take it to my car, and unload baseballs into the truck of my car.
” Hello? Hey, hello? HELLO?!” Snapped the man with a WhiteSox shirt on. I quickly snapped back to reality.
” Yes?” I answered.
” You here for the game, or what? You cant enter here.” He said in a sharp tone.
” Oh, I know. Yeah, Im here for the game. Im just killing time.” I answered back, and walked away with a smirk. In the first picture on the left side of it you can see a security camera. Thats probably why the man came out. It was fun dreaming anyway.
I continued my trek around the stadium. What kind of bothers me about this stadium ( like many ) is you cant walk completely around it. Busch Stadium in Saint Louis is the same way. Im not sure why that is. Maybe its because they designed it that way because the old stadium was in the way. But didnt they just upgrade, and renovate New Comiskey Park to U.S Cellular? I mean, you can walk around Cellular Field, but you end up on the main road, and before that you have to cross through the projects. I wasnt up for a long walk anyway. I turned back around, and headed towards home plate entrance. There was a band setting up, and doing sound checks for pre-game festivities. There were a few WhiteSox, and Royals fans lingering around, but not much else was going on. I couldnt believe there were Royals fans in Chicago.
Finally a small crowd started to show up at around 5:00pm. The gates open 90 minutes before game time on weekdays at Cellular Field. Just like Kauffman. The WhiteSox arent winning, and they arent drawing the crowd. So thats why the gates open 90 minutes prior to game time rather than two hours. As I stood in line a small crowd of autograph collectors started to gather at the front next to me. At least eight finally showed up but I knew they werent any competition. These guys show up early like me, but they run down to the dugouts, and reserve those spots to get autographs during batting practice. No threat whatsoever. If they all wanted to get in front of me I wouldnt have a problem because Id beat them down to the field anyway. Ticket ready to go, the gates went up, and we were in.
Okay folks. Its time to learn about a stupid rule U.S Cellular Field has that I was not aware of. In fact, I think this is a brand new rule they just made up. If you have been following my Blogs youll know I was at Cellular Field on April 24th 2010. Well, apparently between April 24th, and May 4th fans can no longer stand in the first row directly behind the visiting teams dugout. I dont know about the WhiteSox dugout because I never went over there. I didnt even look when I was told to either stand in the aisle one row back, or stand behind the front row seats. But its okay to go sit directly next to the dugout to get autographs. Im trying to understand these rules, and Im trying to understand the logic behind them, and Im also trying to understand who is making them, and Im also trying to understand why they are being made, and Im also trying to respect them. But its hard to do all of that. The front row was completely empty. It was just me, and the usher that was standing on top of the dugout. Ridiculous.
So there I was standing in the aisle exactly one row back. I inched forward and stood inline with the front row seats eventually. These rules were stupid so I compromised. I cant remember if the usher left, or I simply blocked him out but eventually I was standing in the front row again with no one bothering me. I called out to a Royals coach that I couldnt recognize, and asked him for a baseball. I was told that the Royals were short baseballs today, and he couldnt throw me one. I thanked him for his time, and I tol dhim I would hit him up once “we” got back to Kansas City. He nodded, and assured me he’d hook me up at the K. I moved on. ( Obviously wearing my Kansas City Royals cap. )
The Royals had a good 45 minutes or so left on the field, and I traveled down the first base line to see if I could snag some foul balls. Within minutes of moving down there a ball was hit my way but out of reach. I stayed on it, and Kyle Davies came over to retrieve it. I asked him if I could have it, and he tossed it to me. Bing! Ball number one. I quickly put it in my bag, and continued to wait on more. It really didnt hit me that I had my first ball of the day until moments later. Its almost as if Im expected to get at least one. Especially after the game at Busch on April 30th 2010. What an utter disaster that game turned out to be. So I felt pretty good about today after snagging that one.
I continued to wander around the baseball field. The nice thing about Cellular Field is you have instant access around the entire field. There arent gates, and railings, and shields, and ushers, and guards to keep you from moving around. So I moved out into the outfield for a while to see if I could catch a home run ball. Well, the Royals were hitting, and they dont have any real power hitters except maybe Billy Butler, Scott Podsednik, and MAYBE Jason Kendall. I played straight away center field, and a few came my way but way too short. Fortunatly, I identified 2009 Cy Young Award Winner Zack Greinke as he came running full speed to the wall while trying to field two baseballs. I asked if he could please toss one of them up to me, and he looked up at me with a smile after stopping himself against the wall. He backtracked off the warning track, and underhanded me one. Bing! What a stand up guy! The Royals werent throwing a lot of baseballs into the crowd so I felt fortunate enough to get these two that I had. I guess they really were short on baseballs or they just didnt like WhiteSox fans.
The Royals had plenty of right handed hitters coming to the dish so I sprinted to the third base line. Minimum competition. Mostly fathers with their kids encouraging them to catch baseballs. I held my ground but nothing really came my way. One ball came screaming passed everyone, and no one had a good position on it so it just rolled to the corner. I contemplated assembling my glove for the glove trick, and as soon as I started to make my way towards the corner to get the ball this guy had already started lowering his ball retrieving device! Within seconds he had the ball! I ran after him to speak with him, and he acted as though I had the plague. I finally caught up with him.
” Excuse me.” I called after him.
” Oh, I thought you were security. I heard a voice, so I started to make a run for it.” He laughed.
” No, I wanted to know if youve seen Zack Hamples ball retrieving device.” I laughed, as I spoke to him.
” The guy on Youtube? Yeah, Ive seen that. Its pretty impressive. Most people see me use this cup so they run up to the concessions stand, get a cup, come down, and it doesnt work because they arent doing it right.” He explained.
” And security hates me. Everytime I use it they come running after me to try, and get my device. Its insanity.” He chuckled.
” I know. Last time I was here I tried to use my ball retrieving device, and security stopped me. I got the ball anyway but still.” I said.
” Yeah. I hear ya. Well, happy hunting. Ill catch you later.” He said as he jogged away. I waved, and started to head back over to the third base line. Then I went back over to the first base line.
I stayed on the first base line for the remainder of batting practice. Which wasnt much longer. After being rejected by Willie Bloomquist in the outfield for a baseball, I had another chance to get another from him. He sent a soft line down the line into foul territory. When the ball landed it died out immediatly. I knew it wasnt going to roll all the way to me. Id have to go get it, and I figured a whole mess of kids were on their way to get it. I had a young couple sitting in the front row directly to my left that were in my way. I stood there for a half a second waiting for one of them to jump up, and get it. Niether of these things happened. I couldnt believe it. No one was going after this ball? It was two feet away from these two people! TWO FEET! It rolled to the wall, and just sat there. I excused myself, moved passed the happy couple, and scooped up the ball.
” Who hit it?” Asked the security guard ten feet away.
” Willie Bloomquist.” I answered back. What an easy grab. It doesnt get any easier than that, folks. I know at Busch Stadium that ball would have been swallowed up by a fan before it even reached the wall. So that was number three on the day. As soon as I got that ball, I wandered down the line towards home plate to call out to Bruce Chen to toss me number four. No dice. Batting practice ended, and I made my way up into the concourse for some food, and drink. I still couldnt believe that no one went for that last ball.
During the game here is where I sat.
Great seats for $35.00. Unfortunatly, I was in the middle of the row, with people on both sides of me. Two foul balls came my way. If I had been sitting on the aisle one of them would have been mine. It landed about five feet from me on the stairs, and rolled underneath the seats. The next foul ball came later in the game, and it came right at security. ( Security were the ball boys ) All I saw was security run out of the way, the ball took a hard bounce up into the seats, and nailed a guy right in the face. The ball hit so hard it put him on the ground, and flew back out onto the field. Scott Podsednik fielded the ball, and tossed it into the stands. The guy that got hit was okay, but was taken by EMS to make sure. And that was it. After the game I chased down to the Royals dugout to try, and get one more ball. No dice.
Worth mentioning. This game was Ozzie Guillens 1,000th as a manager for the White Sox. Congratulations Skipper!
Also for you Ballhawks that are chasing homerun balls here is a list of players that are close to their milestones;
Alex Rodriguez- 585
Andruw Jones- 397
Derek Lee- 297
Alfonso Soriano- 297
Albert Pujols- 373
Game; Chicago WhiteSox Vs Kansas City Royals May 4th 2010 7:05pm
Game Balls; Three