With the 2011 baseball season coming to a close I made arrangements to be able to attend at least the last Mariner home game of the season. Which is on Wednesday. It will probably be a very emotional night for most. Today’s game would start at 7:10pm and of course I got to the stadium early enough to attend batting practice. A small crowd gathered at the gates on this gloomy, rainy day in Seattle.
When I ran inside I immediately checked the centerfield gap and the sod farm behind the centerfield wall. To my surprise there were a few baseballs lying around and one within grasp. I quickly assembled my glove-trick and went after one.
“You need to lower your rubber band and you can’t do that right now.” Said a voice over my shoulder. I could hear other security guards in the centerfield bleachers whistling at me and hollering for me to stop but I didn’t care. I wanted to get on the board with at least one baseball this game…whatever the cost. If I get yelled at, so be it.
“I need to do what?” I responded.
“You have to stop that.” said the security guard again.
And at the moment I was reeling the baseball up. It wasn’t a baseball from Felix Hernandez or anything but it was well worth the trouble and the harassment from security.
I hung around the party deck for a while mainly because the crowd was so thin I wasn’t worried about anyone beating me to the seating bowls to scavenge for any loose baseballs. Steve Delabar was snagging balls in centerfield and when he tossed one up to a couple of girls I knew I’d be glove-tricking my second baseball out of the gap. Not that they’re girls and they can’t catch, it’s just that they weren’t wearing gloves and it’s hard to catch baseballs without a glove. I retrieved the baseball for them and here is the result:
I wandered the bullpen area looking for more chances to use the glove-trick and I was stopped by one of the Safeco Field seating hosts, Bronson. He made a generous donation of $20 dollars towards Snagging Baseballs for Puppies and had me sign one of his baseballs that he got. I felt honored to be able to put my name on it and if you’ve ever signed a baseball it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Once the upper level opened up I raced down to the third base seating to look for any baseballs that were hit into the rows. I was able to find this one:
After I found the baseball in the above photo I walked over to the railing and called out to Tom Wilhelmsen.
“Hey, Tom. Do you want to play catch for a little bit? I found a baseball!” I said as I held it up and shrugged at him.
“Play catch? Okay, maybe a few throws, bud.” he replied back.
I tossed him the baseball I found, (usually I ask to play catch with the baseball player after they field a baseball to get them to throw it to me) and after I tossed it to him a baseball was hit near him. He sort of flinched a little and threw the baseball back to me and then told me this was probably not a good idea.
I told him I understood, I mean, I didn’t want him to get hit by a baseball. And I really didn’t think about that until after the fact. But nonetheless, I got to play catch with Tom Wilhelmsen for about a half a second and it was a really awesome half of a second too. Here’s a picture of Tom after we got done playing catch:
I walked the entire way around the stadium to the first base side of the stadium. And when I got there this is what I found:
Can you believe that? It was probably 5:20pm and this baseball in the above photo had been sitting there in plain view this whole time! Not only did I find this one but I found this one too…
…and just like that I had five baseballs on the evening! I would have had six but this baseball was incredibly hard to get plus security was standing right by me:
While I was staring down at this baseball and taking pictures the Mariners started to jog off the field. Batting practice for them had ended and I was way out in right field by the fair pole. I wanted to be at the dugout when BP ended so I literally had to sprint through the rows to get there in time. And when I did I got Jaime Navarro to toss me my sixth baseball of the evening. And by the way, this was my competition while I was messing around in the first base seating bowl:
I raced behind home plate, switched hats, took notes and moved down in the front row where the Oakland Athletics were already out stretching and warming up. I was sitting at six baseballs and I really wanted to break my single game record. All I had to do was snag one more baseball. After a few errant throws that nearly hit a couple of fans I met up with Todd Cook and his family. I got word from Twitter that he’d be visiting Safeco Field at the end of the month and it was really awesome to meet up with them. If you want to check out his blog you can by clicking here. Just as I ran over to them to shake Todd’s hand a baseball struck little Tim right in the arm as he was watching the Athletics. It looked like the baseball hit him square in the shoulder but later the medical staff at Safeco Field confirmed that he got hit in the hand and he was okay. Nothing was broke, thank goodness. While they rushed off to see the medics, Dave Valle came out on the upper deck and asked me what happened and where they were going. I made sure to fill him in on all the important details. After waiting around for about five minutes I decided to head up to Guest Services myself and make sure Tim was okay. Ballhawking could wait when their was a fellow ‘Hawker injured.
Fifteen minutes later we all walked out of Guest Services and headed down to the 3rd base seating bowl. Tim wanted to just hangout for a while, and I didn’t blame him. I had been hit by a baseball before and it really does hurt. I couldn’t imagine how much pain Tim was in.
I wandered back down to the bullpen area and just as I got there a couple of baseballs were hit near me. Here’s a picture of one:
I was watching security to make sure they weren’t standing by making sure I didn’t go after it and when they turned their back on me that’s when I made my move. I nearly had to talk my way into the spot in front of the ball because the lady that was blocking me assumed I was going to jump into the bullpen to get the baseball. I reassured her that’s what I wasn’t going to do and when I started to assemble my glove-trick she got the idea. First I had to knock the baseball closer by flinging my glove out passed the baseball and then by dragging my glove backwards over the ball it knocked it onto the concrete part of the ‘Pen. This was the result after I was able to reel it in:
The man in the above photo is Dino. I’m not sure if this was his first Mariners game or not but he’s from Australia. If you look closely at the underside of the baseball it has the Anaheim Angels 50th Anniversary logo on it. Dino was very appreciative of the baseball and I passed out my charity business card to him and the people he was with. We shared a few stories of rescued dogs, took a few more pictures, and parted ways.
When I returned to the party deck one of my friends, Ryanna, that I attend baseball games with pulled me aside.
“There is a baseball that’s stuck underneath the tarp in the back corner of the Mariners bullpen.” She told me.
I, of course, had to investigate. And sure enough there was a baseball sitting in the corner. It wasn’t just any baseball. It was another Anaheim Angels 50th Anniversary one. But I couldn’t get it with my glove-trick. I had to wait for a grounds crew member. And when one finally arrived I asked him if he’d toss me the baseball. I got the “I’ll lose my job” excuse but luckily he told me he’d tell the bullpen cop about it and hopefully he’d be able to help me. Fortunatly for me, I’ve been really friendly with the bullpen cops and I also know them by name. So it was pretty easy to get the baseball from him. And I gave that one away to another friend of mine, Krista, that attends nearly every Mariners home game. She’s been wanting one of the special Angels ball all season so I felt pretty good about getting it to her. That was my eighth ball of the evening.
After that I engaged in a quick photo-op with the Todd and Tim:
I ran over to the Mariners side of the stadium at around 6:45pm to try to snag one more baseball. But none of the Mariners that were out warming up bothered to bring any baseballs with them. Alex Liddi and Luis Rodriguez played a quick game of catch in front of the Mariners dugout but it was actually a little too crowded for my taste so I ended up leaving and walking back to the party deck in centerfield.
The game itself was very entertaining. Especially when Brandon League came in to pitch in the ninth to try to notch save number 37. Which he did. The Mariners were able to hang on for a 4-2 win and a huge three-run home run by Justin Smoak pretty much sealed it for them too! The last game of the season will be played on Wednesday which I will be attending.
Also, a huge thanks to another good friend of mine, Carla, for donating $25 dollars to my charity. You can click on the link below to get more details or donate yourself. Her donation pushed me over the edge of $200 dollars raised this year. I never thought I’d end up raising so much money, so a huge thanks goes out to her and everyone else that has donated, pledged or done both.
Game; September 26th 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $219.65 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $50.20 this
Inter-league play. Always my favorite time of the year during baseball season. NOT. I’ve never been a fan of inter-league play. For a bunch of reasons. But for baseball it’s probably something that will never go away. Now they’re talking about moving divisions around, making the playoffs longer and all this other hoopla. Truth of the matter is, it’s all about money. Did you know that this weekend alone brought out 1.6 million fans across baseball to watch inter-league baseball? Crazy, huh? Some series I’d love to see though. Like the Subway series, the Battle of the Bay (which I’ve already seen this year) and the I-70 series. Other than that? I really don’t care to see the Indians play the Astros. It’s not something I have my heart set on.
This morning I had a photo-shoot with a guy from the Snohomish Tribune. I had to take all of my 170 plus baseballs down to my old high school and have me and them photographed together on the baseball field. It was kind of cool because that’s the very same field Adam Eaton played on in high school. He graduated in 1996 from Snohomish High school, which was my sophomore year. If you aren’t familiar with who Adam Eaton is well I will tell you. He graduated Snohomish High school in 97` posting an 0.67 ERA for the team and went on to play college ball for the University of Washington. He was drafted by the Phillies in the 96` draft but ended up making his Major League debut for the San Diego Padres, May 30th 2000. He played with them until the 2005 season when he was traded to the Texas Rangers. From there he bounced to the Phillies, Orioles, and the Rockies before finally becoming a free agent. A lot of Phillies fan speculate that Eaton almost cost them the World Series in 2008 and didn’t deserve a World Series ring.
Here are a few pictures of Doug trying to figure out a good shot for all my baseballs.
And here is Doug trying to set up all of my baseballs for a good picture. He was explaining how he wanted to leave all the baseballs in the original pyramid formation but block out the yellow box lid and the other brown colored box lid.
…and here’s a picture of him setting up my special baseballs. You know, like the one I caught from Mark McGwire, my 100th lifetime and my first ever baseball.
I don’t know if I’ll keep my Mark McGwire ball in the cube like that forever. Eventually, as I collect more baseballs from iconic players I may just put them in a special box or a multiple baseball holder and label each ball with the specific players that either hit it or tossed it to me. In any case I doubt I will ever get another baseball from Mark McGwire ever again. And I surely won’t ever get one hit to me by him. So it makes it very special that I got one from him. And if you want to read about how I got one from Big Mac you can just click right here.
After the photo-shoot was complete, I loaded all my baseballs up in my car, jetted home, unloaded all of my baseballs back upstairs, grabbed my stuff, and chased off towards Safeco Field. Since the Phillies were in town for inter-league play I had to get to the stadium early. Plus it was Ichiro replica jersey giveaway night. So the stadium was going to be packed. I was also waiting on my buddy Josh and his small entourage to arrive with the tickets. The gates opened up at 4:40pm and they arrived at 4:38pm. Moments to spare. (I truly appreciate the hustle, Josh!) Once I got my ticket, got my bag checked by security, I raced inside to the center field party deck. The place filled up so fast. Before I knew it I was elbow to elbow with hundreds of people. And to make matters worse David Aardsma tossed some dude a baseball, it bounced out of his hands, smacked off his face, bounced off the shoulder of his wife, and landed down in the gap behind the centerfield wall. Now I had to compete for a spot to get that baseball. I probably excused myself a hundred times trying to get in line with it to glove trick it out of there. Once I found it I got my glove ready, and started to lower it down. Just then…my string broke. My glove fell helplessly into the gap. “Now what?” Said a voice.
I found the nearest security guard and told him I had dropped my baseball glove into the gap. He told me he couldn’t help me right now because he was too busy guarding his post. I’d have to wait. And I did wait. Even though the outside temperature was only 71 degrees, it felt like I was roasting under a desert sun. I was literally stressed out. I wanted to just forget my glove and go home. But I’ve had that glove since I was like, 16. And I still had a chance to get that baseball. After 25 minutes of standing there, and making minimal, pathetic attends to get a baseball players attention to toss me a baseball, I caught up with a security guard that was way more friendlier and way better looking too. Her name is Kim, and she is always so helpful and nice at the stadium. I told her my problem but I added that I was trying to get an autograph and I dropped my glove, my ball, and my sharpie into the gap. She immediately started towards the gate to help me but her supervisor, Melinda,(an equally nice security guard) cut her off and told her she had to go guard something else. I then had to explain my problem to Melinda. And she was equally compassionate and understanding. So can you guess what happened next?
Isn’t that the best picture ever? That’s not the actual baseball from the gap. That is a baseball I brought from home for good luck. And in case you’re still waiting on official confirmation that I got the baseball from the gap, yes. I did get it. Melinda brought it up for me. I couldn’t thank her enough.
I was finally able to assist my buddy Josh in the left field bleachers but he pretty much had things under control. I was just hanging around in case he missed one, plus he’s great conversation. We jib-jab about baseball, and who we think will make the playoffs…you know, guy talk. Josh reeled in four baseballs in this one spot in the bleachers, and got Jaime Navarro to toss him his fifth.
That’s Josh waiting for another BP home run. If you want to check out his stats on www.mygameballs.com just click here. He’s a really cool guy and we got kind of ran out of that spot earlier than we wanted because after Josh had snagged number four a lot of kids started asking him to stand there.
Like I said. The stadium was absolutely crowded. Full to the brim. No where to stand and nowhere to really run for anything. Here are a couple of pictures to show you just how crowded it got.
The front rows were packed. There was no breaking in to get close enough for a toss-up so I just chalked it up as a loss and let inter-league play win this round. I felt that coming away with one baseball was pretty significant especially considering I lost valuable time when I dropped my glove in the gap. Here’s the severity of that incident too. You see…while I was standing there dinking around with security…another 35,000 people entered the baseball stadium in that time frame.
Batting practice ended and the only thing left to do was to get close enough to Kyle Kendrick to get some pictures. He had a ton of family at the ballpark, (he’s from Mount Vernon, WA) so everyone was trying to see him, and he was doing his best to obligue everyones’ requests for autographs and pictures. I helped out Josh get his picture with Kendrick and that was pretty much the end of all the excitement.
My seats were awesome. Right on the aisle in foul ball territory. Josh’s girlfriend, Ginny has a friend that hooked us all up with these great seats from her work. And sitting here nearly paid off too. It was around the 5th inning when a foul ball was hit our direction. I stood up, made my way down the aisle carefully, and moved into position to catch the ball. I was worried that it was going to hit the cable that strung along above us to help support the screen behind home plate so I adjusted a few feet to my right. Unfortunatly, the beer vendor was ducking for cover right where I needed to be. The ball landed two seats in and I was on the other side of the beer vendor. Had he not of been there? Easy catch.
Game; June 17th 2011 Philadelphia Phillies vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $95.45 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.10 this
Todays game started promptly at 6:05pm. Today was also the day that I would be attending another game but I would be looking to score my 100th career baseball to add to my collection. Talk about pressure. Anyway so I marched downstairs to eat some breakfast. The hotel provided a very nice spread and I was happy to take full advantage. On my way back to my room I managed to stumble and fall UP the stairs where I dumped some food and nearly lost the handle on my juice. Was it really going to be one of those days? Surely not.
As I arrived at the stadium that same lone security guard was again in my way. He stopped me and informed me to backup and go through the “pay” lane. I ended up having to shell out $17 bucks to park. I guess I cant complain. But the Athletics havent been to the playoffs since 2006 so parking should be A) free or B) not $17 dollars. Im just saying.
Once I made it inside where I safely parked my vehicle I started wandering around the stadium again. I took some pictures of the Athletics history. Check out these next batch of photos.
Pretty awesome stuff. Oh, I forgot to mention in yesterdays blog. As I was taking pictures and messing around with my phone Michael Saunders, Tom Wilhemsen, and Jamey Wright walked passed me. In the picture above this was where they walked by. Of course I was wearing my A’s hat so I didnt stop them for any autographs or pictures.
Here are some more pictures of Athletics history.
I bet you didnt know all of that about the Athletics. They are a pretty successful team throughout the years I will say. Thats one reason why I think they should get a new stadium. Maybe not move all the way to San Jose. But a new stadium should be in order.
Take a look at this next picture. Its the rules of the stadium. They have a lot. ( Like all stadiums ) But this particular rule sign was placed at a gate that is not used for entry. And I could not find another one like it near a gate that is used for fans to gain entry into the stadium. Here. Take a look.
Under the “not permitted” part I circled the artificial noise-maker part because during the game there were many fans that had cowbells, trumpets, drums, and other various noise making devices. And only one fan was ejected because he kept blowing his trumpet into some ladys ear. He was intoxicated so thats probably one of the main reasons why he got kicked out. Also containers carrying liquid of any kind, wouldnt that cover just about everything? Kind of redundant to …well, nevermind.
Once inside the Mariners were already on the field. Batting practice was kind of slow. There wasnt much hit into the seats but there was one baseball that I had a fairly good chance of getting. It was hit a section up from me and when I went chasing for it there were about five other people chasing after the ball too. I ran up the stairs and started hopping over the seats like a dummy. I should have just let gravity do its work and I would have had the baseball. So after I lost it I ended up catching it in the corner of my eye going back down the rows. So I started hopping back over seats and I didnt get my leg up high enough which I ended up bashing my knee right into a seat back. It pretty much knocked the wind out of me and I ended my pursuit. That hurt.
I took it easy during batting practice trying to nurse my knee a little so I ended up heading over to the left field area. Mariners bullpen coach, Jaime Navarro was out there shagging fly balls. He tossed a few to some kids but basically ignored me when I asked for one. Not one on the Mariners roster except Milton Bradley could reach the seats. So I wasnt about to go stand around in the outfield bleachers. By the time I got up there batting practice would be over.
After batting practice concluded I looked for a decent spot to wait on a foul ball. I sat over on the first base side about two sections up from the field. I thought security was going to come over and boot me out but since the stadium was not even half full they pretty much left me alone. As I sat and waited for the game to start Jason Vargas started warming up in the bullpen. So I cautiously wandered down closer for a few pictures.
By this time it was about seven minutes to game time. Not one security guard came down to run the fans out. Not even the Enforcer. I was really shocked. So I kept standing there.
Five minutes until game time. Still no security guards. I even looked over my shoulder a few times and they were all up at the top of the concourse yapping their gums off. So I just kept standing there. When Vargas was finally done warming up he tossed the ball towards the dugout and it rolled underneath the bench. I waited for the Mariner pitchers to approach the bullpen but Jaime Navarro walked over first. I asked him if he saw Vargas warm-up baseball underneath the bench and he said he couldnt see it. I was leaning over the bullpen like a jackass and the nearest security guard walked over and pushed on my shoulder slightly. I guess that was his way of telling me not to lean over the bullpen and to go find my seat.
The game was very entertaining. It was very similiar to last nights game too. The Athletics took an early lead and throughout the game their defense just fell apart. The Mariners again showed off their smart base running skills, and Chone Figgins showed off his power with a deep drive to centerfield to score Ichiro from third base. By the seventh inning the Mariners had climbed back in the game to take the lead. Unfortunately I was still without my 100th baseball. Here is how it played out.
Jason Phillips, the Mariners bullpen catcher, would throw Michael Saunders and Ichiro a warm-up baseball to play catch in between innings. Michael Saunders would play catch with Milton Bradley and Ichiro would play catch with Jason Phillips. When the Athletics were ready to take their at-bats, Ichiro and Saunders would then end their game of catch by throwing the baseballs back to Phillips. He would then remove his glove and go sit back down. I watched this all throughout yesterdays game and todays game. And what I particularly paid attention to was what Jason Phillips did with the baseballs towards the end of the game. Sure he gave one or two away during the game but he also gave away two more right before the bottom of the ninth. So in essence I was hoping and praying that the Mariners would be leading the game going into the ninth. And they were.
One other thing I paid attention to were the security guards. They walked down to the area where I would need to stand but they also run back up the stairs right before Ichiro and Saunders both threw the baseballs back to Phillips. So I had to plan this just right and act with such precision it drove me batty.
The top of the ninth came and went. Ichiro, Saunders and Bradley jogged out to their positions in the outfield. Jason Phillips took a few steps towards the foul line. He threw Saunders a baseball. The security guard wandered down to take position in front of the field. Phillips lobbed Ichiro a baseball. I waited. My heart was racing. The advertisments came to an end on the Jumbotron. Ichiro finished playing catch with Phillips and he threw the baseball back in with a high arch. ( signaling that he was finished ) The security guard slowly wandered back up the stairs. I stood up. Saunders threw his baseball back to Phillips. I made my way slowly down the stairs towards the field. As Phillips turned around I held up my glove and joined about five other Mariner fans in calling his name. He saw me and lobbed me the baseball. All I saw were other hands trying to make the catch. Barely missing by inches. I secured the baseball in my glove and gave my thanks. Number 100.
Game; April 4 2011 Seattle Mariners Vs Oakland Athletics