Sunday games are always a challenge to get a baseball; but I’ve been continuously successful. Since there isn’t any batting practice, it’s more of being at the right place at the right time with the right player. A lot can go wrong but a lot can go right. If you’re ever attending Sunday games that batting practice isn’t in full swing, my advice to you, is be a little more aggressive when trying to catch a ball. They can come from anywhere. Usually the home team has infield warm-up drills so there’s a huge chance for an errant throw to end up in the seats.
My first and only baseball came from Kevin Millwood. The Mariners were out warming up down the first base line and when Millwood got done playing catch with his throwing partner, we made eye contact, I flapped my glove at him and he absolutely air mailed me the baseball. I jumped at the last possible moment to make the catch but it was a few feet over my head. I quickly turned, remembered the gravity rule and casually waited for the baseball to come to me rather than frantically searching for it. I could hear foot steps of other fans closing in on me, but I paid it no attention:
When I wandered back over to the Mariners bullpen out in center field, there was a lady trying to get Jason Phillips autograph. She didn’t really know who he was and she kept asking him if he was a pitcher. I told her that Phillips is the Mariners bullpen catcher and he’s a really cool guy. She didn’t have anything to get his autograph on, so I offered her an extra baseball that I had in my back pack. She also wanted to get his autograph with a sharpie marker; which is a huge mistake. I hooked her up with a ball point pen and this was the result:
It’s hard to see Jason Phillips autograph, and it turns out this young lady is part of the special olympics. She’s a huge Mariner fan and was pretty appreciative to get Phillip’s autograph.
As the Mariners filtered off the field, the Athletics started to come out. I wanted to get a few pictures with some players and maybe an autograph or two. When I walked over to the 3rd base area, the Athletics started to warmup. I wandered down to the dugout area and waited. It wouldn’t be long and the team would start to come over my way.
I eventually got Grant Balfour’s autograph and a close-up picture of him…
…and here’s the autograph I got from him…
…pretty sweet, huh? And when one of my most favorite Athletics player came around, I was able to snap up a picture with him:
Once I had some pizza in my belly, I watched Miguel Olivo warm-up, traded jokes between friends about Adam Moore getting hurt all the time and Olivo leading the entire Major Leagues in pass balls…this was what it was all about, though. Friends and baseball! Life couldn’t be sweeter. Well, it could. It was actually Jackie Robinson day at the ballpark and all players wore number 42 to celebrate this special day:
Once the game got underway, I settled down in my usual spot when the ‘Pen wasn’t crowded; near the Mariners bullpen.
Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak both went deep for the Mariners and Eric Sogard of the Athletics easily tied it up with a 3-run shot in the 5th inning. Ichiro came back and delivered a two-run double to right and the Mariners put it in cruise control after that. Brandon League came in and slammed the door with his tenth save on the year, and that was the ball game, kids!
Yesterday, I said I’d update my mini-baseball streak stats, so here you go:
30 hours at three different stadiums, watching 48 innings of baseball, eating five nacho plates, one hotdog, one chicken meal, having drank five cokes, ate three pizza slices, traveled 1,280 miles, getting 46 hours of sleep!
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: Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 19,065
Baseballs snagged: two (toss-up from Kevin Millwood)
Total baseballs snagged this season: 15
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $28.35
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00
Total number of donors this season: 8
Total number of donors last season: 7
AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, would be my eighth stadium I’ve visited in my lifetime. But it’s always a little nerve-racking to visit a new stadium because I know very little about the architecture of the stadium, and I’m absolutely clueless of how the inside of the park is set up. So when I got to the park on Saturday morning I planned to get there early enough to allow me some time to explore the entire ballpark and try to get the upper hand on some knowledge before I enter. Todays game was set to start at 4:10pm which meant the gates should open around 2:10pm. To my surprise they opened at 1:55pm. An extra 15 minutes of BP never hurt anyone…
On my way in from my hotel I stopped at Candlestick Park. That’s where the Giants used to play baseball. Now the stadium just belongs to the San Francisco 49ers. Here are some pictures I took of Candlestick Park:
It was kind of awesome to be around that stadium because of all the history that has taken place there. Baseball and football. But the Giants now played in AT&T Park and that’s where I was headed.
It took forever to get to the stadium, by the way. If it weren’t for the road signs that directed my every turn I would have been lost. My GPS crapped out on me about the time I exited the freeway. I’ll have to say; of all the stadiums I’ve been to AT&T Park was the hardest to find. Yeah, its huge and its a stadium. But it’s well hidden. When I arrived I expected to see thousands of people already at the gates. But it was like a ghost town for the most part. So I wandered around looking at the park and surrounding areas. I even visited the team store. The Giants team store is by far the largest I’ve ever seen and they had so much Giants gear it was incredible!
The team store even had three showcase windows full of autographed baseballs. Mainly from Tim Lincecum, Willie Mays, Brian Wilson, and Will Clark. And all of them were over $100 dollars. And all of them were signed in black ink. If you’re an autograph collector you’d know better than to have baseballs signed with black ink. Blue ink is ideal and after you get the baseball signed you spray a light coat of hairspray on the ball to “set” the autograph. The reason why you don’t use black ink to sign on a baseball is because black ink fades. And never, ever use a sharpie to get a baseball signed. The ink just soaks into the cowhide and within a year your autograph will fade way. It doesn’t matter if you place the signed baseball in one of those UV protected ball cubes and store it in your closet. Anyway. Enough of autographs 101.
I took some more pictures of around the stadium. Check `em out.
The last picture is of McCovey Cove. Now you get a history lesson on baseball. Why did they name that area McCovey Cove? McCovey Cove is the unofficial name of a section of San Francisco Bay beyond the right field wall of AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, coined after famed Giants first baseman Willie McCovey. The proper name for the cove is China Basin, which is the mouth of Mission Creek as it meets the bay. The cove is bounded along the north by AT&T Park, with a ferry landing and a breakwater at the northeast end. The southern shore is lined by China Basin Park and McCovey Point. To the east, it opens up to San Francisco Bay , while the west end of the cove is bounded by the Lefty O’Doul Drawbridge. And that brings us to this picture.
This is the O’Doul gate. This is also the gate where I entered the ballpark. As you can see it’s not a gate where you can walk in and go right to the field. It has about a million stairs to climb before you reach the field. And now for a second history lesson in baseball. Why did they name this gate the O’doul gate? Because Francis Joseph “Lefty” O’Doul was a minor league player that played with the San Francisco Seals, and also played professional ball for many teams including the New York Yankees and the New York Giants. He also managed the San Francisco Seals where he was the skipper of the infamous Hall of Famer Joe Dimaggio. O’Doul was a career .349 hitter and left the game with 113 home runs and 542 RBIs. Not only did he get one of the gates at AT&T Park named after him but he also got the drawbridge that people cross over McCovey Cove named after him too.
Today was also 2010 World Series champion hat giveaway day. The first 20,000 fans would receive a hat. I had no interest in getting a hat but I figured I’d snag one on the way in and then give it to a kid that didn’t get one later on in the day. I took this picture to show you just how many stairs I had to climb to get to field level. Take a look.
Since there were 20,000 people trying to get a hat security actually organized the onslaught of people quite well. They made it very clear which turnstiles would be open and they checked bags prior to the gates being opened to save on time. I appreciated that. And at 1:55pm they scanned our tickets, and allowed us to enter AT&T Park. I scampered through the turnstile, grabbed my World Series champion hat, and raced up the stairs. One I got to the top there was an open section that I darted through and I was on field level. BP was in full swing so I immediately started to scavenge for stray baseballs in the rows. I had the entire first base side to myself for about three minutes and I easily found two baseballs in the sections. The rows are slightly tighter here then they are at any other baseball stadium I have been to. So the baseballs were tucked away quite well. Here’s my view once I settled on a spot against the padded wall on the first base side.
AT&T Park kind of has that old school look with the bullpen out in foul territory. Just like at the Oakland Coliseum. (I refuse to call it Overstock.com Coliseum) Here is another pictures with the Giants on the field.
One thing I took notice of is that when the Giants fans calls out to the players for them to throw a baseball into the crowd they’re a little more demanding and they seem to forget to say “thank you” afterwards. I also noticed that people who drive in the San Francisco area are the worst drivers I’ve seen so far. I’ve been to many states and many cities too. But that didn’t stop the Giants from tossing baseballs into the crowd. I think they threw a total of three baseballs. I moved around quite a bit but I stayed close to the first base side. That was the side the Oakland Athletics used so after about 15 minutes of standing around I decided to put on my Athletics hat and I wandered back down to the front row. Just as I did a sharp line drive came right at me. It landed a few rows up and took a bounce right off the seats as I was giving chase, and bounced right to me. I was actually that guy that got the lucky bounce. I thought that was extra awesome even though I got heckled by some Giants fan in the front row. He kept asking for the baseball. I laughed a few times but he kept asking. So I quit laughing and ignored him.
When the Athletics came out to stretch, throw the ball around, and do their thing I noticed a section out in the outfield that was barricaded off and people were standing there. Like, a lot of people. Check out the picture below and look on the right side of the picture where my red arrow is. Eventually, as batting practice continued, that section filled up quite a bit. I’m not sure of the details of how to get there or if it’s just for season ticket holders or what. Even if I knew about that spot I probably wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to stand in there just because it’s such a small spot and not a lot of room to move.
Besides. Lining up behind Jerry Blevins (who just got designated for assignment) and Brad Ziegler was way cooler than standing out in a barricaded area on the field with a bunch of Giants fans. (no offense) Not to mention while I was standing there, texting my Mother, a frozen rope line drive was hit right to me. All I heard was “heads up!” and in that split second that I looked up I stuck my glove up and snagged it. Then I went back to texting. It kind of reminded me of that Evan Longoria commercial where he bare hands that baseball that nearly took out the reporter. If you haven’t seen it you can view it on Youtube.com or something. It’s pretty funny. But fake. But my catch wasn’t fake at all. All this happened within the first 30 minutes of BP. Four baseballs in 30 minutes at AT&T Park. A stadium that I had no idea about, never been to before, and made me really want to come back! I just kept thinking of how run-down the Oakland Coliseum was and couldn’t help to appreciate AT&T Park. I couldn’t imagine being a baseball player and being forced to play in a dump like the Coliseum. It would drive me mad. I bet those guys are always looking forward to road trips to Safeco Field, Target Field or even U.S Cellular Field.
Anyway. Here is a picture from behind home plate.
I took this picture to show just how crowded BP would be in the beginning. AT&T Park has sold out in 18 consecutive games but that doesn’t mean BP would be so crowded that there wouldn’t be a snow balls chance in hell in getting a baseball. That’s what worried me the most. The 40,000 plus people showing up for BP.
I stayed inside the stadium for the first couple of innings and then decided to wander McCovey Cove. There weren’t a whole lot of kayakers in the water and no sign of the Bond’s Navy. But there were some interesting characters to say the least.
And this area is for people who want to stand for nine innings and not pay for a ticket. AT&T Park actually lets people watch baseball for free! I think that is really awesome that MLB allows that. Especially since AT&T Park runs on a “by demand” system for tickets. The cheapest you can get into the park is $12 dollars. But those tickets sell out so fast that most people end up paying $100 dollars for a Standing Room Only ticket. Which that’s absolute crap. And security is a stickler on standing outside the yellow “SRO” area.
In the above picture that’s the “free” area. And in the below picture that’s the view of the “free” area.
It’s actually a very good view. Its better than a lot of “SRO” areas and some seats inside the park. So if you like free baseball and if you like the Giants and if you’re in San Francisco when the Giants are playing and if you really don’t care if you get inside or not… well, this is the place to hangout. It’s right by McCovey Cove. You can’t miss it.
But I like being inside the stadium. Can’t you tell?
I had to get my tickets on Stubhub.com because on the Giants website all that were available were $164.00 tickets. So I bought some $30 dollar “cheap” tickets and ended up at the 300 level. They were actually pretty awesome seats with a more than awesome view.
I finally got to watch Tim Lincecum pitch. He pitched the entire game and shutout the Athletics 3-0. That was his fifth shutout of the season and his 9th career complete game. He pitched around 130 pitches I think. The guy truly is a freak.
I’m also snagging baseballs for charity this year. I have two ongoing projects and down below you can see how much money I’ve raised so far this year. So I wanted to give a shout out and thanks to all that have participated and donated this year. It’s very helpful and I appreciate it. If you want to donate or at least get some addition information, by all means. You can either leave a question/comment on this blog entry or go to this website. http://www.crowdrise.com/SnaggingBaseballsforPuppies/fundraiser/WaynePeck
Game; May 21st 2011 Oakland Athletics vs San Francisco Giants
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $32.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $14.00 this season
I totally forgot about the start time of 6:10pm. Which meant I got a late start leaving for the stadium. Which meant Id be stuck in Saturday afternoon Seattle traffic. Which meant I probably wouldnt be the first one at the gates. Which would probably cost me a baseball or two. So that sucked.
When I got to the stadium no one was there at the right field gates. It was about 35 minutes until the gates opened and I was shocked. Usually there is a small crowd by now but not today. It was in fact Easter weekend. Maybe people had better things to do than attend Mariners batting practice.
When I ran inside Jaime Navarro and Michael Pineda were in right field shagging baseballs. They usually stick the rookies in right field during batting practice because the more experienced players or the players with more seniority dont have to deal with the fans as much. Thats something you probably didnt know. Anyway. As batting practice continued there were a few baseballs hit into right field but nothing close. And since Jaime Navarro was with Michael Pineda I knew it was going to be nearly impossible to get a baseball from those two. Im pretty sure Jaime Navarro hates me. Ive spoken to him quite a few times and I usually get the cold shoulder. Mainly because Ive been saying his name wrong. I really didnt think about that until I started poking through a Mariners program left on a seat in the outfield. Ive been calling him “Jamie” and his name is pronounced ” Hy-may”. ( spelled Jaime ) Maybe he will forget my face and let by-gones be by-gones.
So as the front row slowly started to fill up with would-be ball snaggers, I dont know who hit it, but the ball was sliced gently over to the front row but didnt quite have the distance or the momentum to make it to me. I reached for it and of course the security guard had to give his two cents.
” I can’t give it to you, man. Ill get in trouble.” He said.
” Yeah, I know.” I said back. But what I wanted to say was this; ” Yeah, I know. You cant touch or pick up any baseballs because youll get in trouble or get fired. But as soon as a five year old kid comes running down here youre free to do whatever you want with the baseball. Ive heard it all before, bud. You dont have to give me a line. You can just say ” I cant give baseballs to adults.”
Of course when JAIME Navarro came walking over towards it and I asked him for a little help and he graciously waved at the security guard to just give me the baseball. HA! But you could tell in his face that he didnt want to give me the baseball. He was actually cringing at the thought. I politely thanked him anyway and wandered out of the aisle to let the others have a go.
When I got to the other side of the stadium ( It felt like hours had passed going from one end to the other ) the Athletics were coming out onto the field to start warming up. I wanted to line up behind Jerry Blevins and Brad Ziegler to try and snag an overthrow. The crowd was light so I actually had many options of who to stand behind.
The problem, as you can see, was the dorky, red-headed, security guard standing there. ( No offense to Red-heads ) He’d probably get plunked first before I caught any overthrows from Blevins. Not only that, anything down the line he would surely stick his weak little foot out to stop it from going any further. Most of those security guards have good intentions..if they’d just stay home.
Once the pitchers completed their warmup tosses for the evening I headed up the line some more to get a better angle on Hideki Matsui. Here’s a picture of him before I got closer.
After I got down there it wasnt long before Kevin Kouzmanoff walked over and started signing autographs. I easily got him to sign my ticket stub for the game and I thanked him for the awesome game of catch the day prior. He happily obliged and we parted ways. Moments later Brad Ziegler came walking by towards the dugout so I chased him down for a quick picture as he signed autographs for fans.
I climbed over a few rows of seats to get around in front of the dugout. Brad Ziegler has a great charity foundation called Pasttime for Patriots and since Im a military veteran myself I thought it would be awesome to thank him for his foundation. So I did just that and he smiled warmly at me. I also had two Army wristbands that I got while in the service that I wanted to give to him but I knew he was kind of in a hurry to get into the clubhouse to get ready for the game. So I held off on giving them to him. I figured tomorrow would be a better day since its a Sunday game and the baseball players really dont do a whole lot before the game.
After I could get in all the social activities with the Athletics I could around the infield I headed out to the outfield for some action. Unfortunatly I seriously picked the wrong spot. I was literally surrounded by little kids. Even though I had on my Athletics hat I knew that any time one of the players tossed me a baseball I would have the ever nagging urge to want to make a kids day. I didnt have a problem with giving baseballs away to kids but I also wanted to get my numbers up for my charities. I also got a picture of one of my favorite players, David DeJesus, hanging out in right field.
Everytime a baseball was hit to David this little girl would scream at the top of her lungs that she needed a baseball and that this was her first baseball game and that she’s never, ever, ever, ever gotten a baseball before and that she absolutely needs a baseball. Of course her parent(s) were no where in sight. She was just a lone renegade on a mission to get a baseball. Well, David DeJesus FINALLY threw one up to us. Luckily for me I caught it and I pointed at him in thanks. He pointed back at me and then kind of waggled his finger as an instruction to give the baseball to one of the kids standing around me. I made the mistake of pointing to the little girl beside me. David nodded and waved his glove at me. So I handed the baseball to the little girl. It did shut her up for about five minutes..but no one received a thank you. The little girl ran back to her Mother or Aunt or whoever was watching her at the time and happily exclaimed that she got a baseball. ” Did you say thank you?” The parental figure asked. ” Yes!” The little girl stated.
Now enter little girls brother. Literally crying tears and leaning on the railing claiming he will never get a baseball while the parental figure tries to calm him down made me cringe. If I got another baseball It would be my duty to hook this little kid up with it. But I refused to give a child their way because theyre throwing a temper tantrum or crying or whatever. When I was growing up I never got what I wanted by doing such. So I wasnt going to condone that type of behavior and reward it by giving up the next baseball. And Jerry Blevins came over to help DeJesus out. So I knew he would be throwing a few baseballs up into the crowd.
Now everytime a baseball came out to right field I got to hear ” My brother needs a baseball!” “Give that one to my brother! He really needs a baseball!” ” No, dont throw it in this time! Give it to my brother! This is his first game he has ever been to! He needs that baseball!”
I wanted to tear my ears off. Seriously. Her high ear piercing shrieks were giving me a headache. But there was a really good chance I could get a ball from Blevins. And the opportunity finally came. Blevins fielded a slow roller near the wall and I called out to him.
” Jerry! Would you toss that one up please!” I called out to him. Jerry looked at me and gave me one of those Johnny Cool upnods and then turned to fire it at me. He feigned the throw and then turned to fire it towards the batting practice ball bucket that was at the top of the diamond. Then without hesitation he turned laughing and pointed at me.
“Here you go!” He yelled as he fired me a strike. The ball slapped into my glove and I quickly pocketed the baseball into my pullover pockets. Yeah, I felt bad about the kid that was still crying. But the thing is…he didnt have any baseball gear on, no glove, no Mariners hat, nothing. He just sat there with his head down crying. He was making absolutely no effort to get a baseball. So I did the next best thing. I told him where and how to get a baseball. I explained Chone Figgins little pre-game routine, and I told him that just because Mark McGwire cried doesnt mean you can cry. There is no crying in baseball.
Finally batting practice came to an end. I was utterly relieved. My head was still pounding from all of those kids screaming. Since it was military appreciate day at Safeco I wandered down to the Mariners dugout to snap some pictures. It was so busy with photographers, and fans alike in that area the security guards didnt even bother to run fans out.
Here are some pictures.
After the ceremony and the National Anthem were completed, Chone Figgins started to head off the field and I quickly jumped all over that opportunity. Since there were a ton of people down in front of me and I didnt have a whole lot of room to run to get his attention I just started jumping up and down in the row I was in. He threw the baseball high and way to the right of me. So I had to reach way across my body, and stretch way out over the row of seats to catch it. I dont know if he intended to throw it to me or someone behind me but I ended up with it anyway. All I heard was ” Catch it! Here it comes! Get it! Get it!” and then when I caught it all I heard was groans of disappointment.
I sat in the outfield and ate a small personal pan pizza from one of the pizza places in the outfield. Gross. I think it made me sick to my stomach. And to make things worse here was my view for the first 30 minutes of the game.
The view was pretty bad. The sun was right in my face and I thought to myself that this would be the time when I home run ball was hit right to me. The time when I couldnt see. Aside from that, some annoying Athletics fan would say swing everytime a Mariner player was at bat and a pitch was thrown from the Athletics. It was truly annoying. The Athletics won 9-1 anyway. So after about a few innings of trash talking between the swing guy and some other Mariner fans, the Mariner fans were forced to end their trash talk when the Athletics started raking hits off Jason Vargas.
Game; April 23rd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $9.60 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $6.00 this season.
The Oakland Athletics were in town for a four gate set. I was pretty excited to see them. David DeJesus is one of my favorite players and I got to watch him a lot when he played for Kansas City. Now that he is an Athletic I will probably get to see him more. Also worth mentioning is Coco Crisp. Hes a very unique player with a very unique name ( His real name is Corvelli Crisp ) and last week he had a very unique hair style. Kind of reminds me of Oscar Gamble…
Unfortunatly for the Seattle crowd he had his hair braided. So no one got to see the big hair during the game. Maybe he will unbraid his hair again sometime during the season.
More big news. My charity project Snagging Baseballs for Puppies was featured on the Seattle Humane Society Facebook page! Check it out! I think that is really neat. I really do appreciate that and Id like to thank the staff that was behind making that happen. Its a good feeling to be able to help out. Since I love baseball and dogs so much, and I really dont have the time to own a dog myself I figured Id do the next best thing. So a special thank you goes out to the Seattle Humane Society and all those working hard to help out our furry friends. And a BIG thank you to those that have pledged towards my charity projects so far. It means a lot.
Once inside there werent any easter eggs to be scavenged. I guess the security guards are working extra hard to make sure any baseballs hit into the seats are thrown back onto the field. My competition was light but I continued to search for them anyway. You never know where one might be hiding. Ive found them tucked away under seats or in a seat…and sometimes a baseball will take a lucky bounce and end up in a cup holder. As I was looking around, Im not sure who hit it, but whoever did really mashed the ball about 15 rows up from the foul pole in foul territory. Maybe even deeper. I sprinted towards the area where it was hit and I had one other guy looking for it. All I heard was ” Its rolling down.” ” Its rolling down.” ” Its rolling down”. So I stopped hurdling seats and started to carefully walk down the aisle until I found it.
When the Mariners jogged off the field I started my way over to the third base side of the stadium. Thats generally where the opposing team starts to warm up. At least the pitchers do. There wasnt much going on except Dallas Braden missing a throw that nearly took out a blonde lady sitting in the first row. She was of course rewarded a baseball for her bravery.
Heres a picture of Brad Ziegler and Jerry Blevins who I lined up behind and hoped for an overthrow.
Jerry Blevins is the player closest to me. I didnt want to call out to him for a toss up this early because the Athletics were going to be in town for four games. So I had to keep an ace up my sleeve. Usually the players take the same spots on the field for pre-game warmups. So it would be pretty easy to get a toss up from Blevins. I got a toss up from him on Opening Day at the Coliseum. As batting practice continued I took the next picture to show how much competition was really there. As you can see in the below photo…not very much.
Down at the front of the row you can see a hulking man with long hair. He got two on the day and if you look further down the row you can see the blonde lady sitting down that nearly got pegged by Dallas Bradens throwing partner. As soon as I took this picture, ( I think Coco Crisp hit it ) there was a deep drive into foul territory. I turned to make a mad dash for it but some tall, lanky guy was standing right in my path. I was pretty much boxed in the row. The guy turned and I really expected him to give chase too. But he just stood there with his hands in his pockets in utter shock of how far the ball traveled. I felt kind of helpless.
As batting practice came to a close Gio Gonzalez was up the baseline from me signing autographs. I took this quick picture before he started running towards me.
What you dont see in this picture is by the screen that protects fans from hot line drives out of the cage were two baseballs sitting on the grass. Kind of like how I asked Tom Wilhelmsen for a baseball as he jogged off the field. Well, I used the same tactic with Gio Gonzalez. I asked really nicely and told him I appreciated it. He gathered up the baseballs and tossed me one and then another one to fan down the line. See? Without me asking for a baseball they would have just sat there for the grounds crew to scoop up and toss them in a bucket on their Gator as they picked up the batting practice equipment. So besides me getting a baseball another lucky fan got one too. It was a win win.
After batting practice came to a close I got some quick dinner and then contemplated my next move. Chone Figgins and Carlos Peguero came out to warm up, and Chone Figgins started playing catch with Adam Kennedy. I didnt even think to put on my Mariners hat ( I had switched to my A’s hat after the Mariners portion of batting practice had ended ) but If I did I would probably be talking about how I got my third baseball at this point. I stood around on the Mariners side of the stadium waiting on Chone Figgins and Adam Kennedy to get done playing catch.
That little black speck on the base line is Figgins glove. It also had a baseball inside of it. As Adam Kennedy ran off the field he looked right at me and I held up my glove. But he denied me. It probably had something to do with wearing my Athletics hat while asking. Chone Figgins also walked off the field and flipped the ball to a Mariners fan in the front row. Well, lesson learned.
After the National Anthem played I wandered back over to the Athletics side of the stadium and I tried to get Mark Ellis to throw me one but it seemed like he already had a fan picked out. The good thing is security didnt harass me at all. I think I was asked once If I had a ticket to be seated down in the lower box but I said I wasnt going to sit down here. I was only down here for pictures. Which was the truth anyway. Another good thing about Safeco is the crowd is so thin that you can literally walk through the rows from one side to the other. Instead of having to exit the seating area, walk up through the main concourse, and back down. Then you have to face security and all that jazz. So I just wandered carefully through the rows to get from first base side to third base side and vice versa.
Adam Kennedys home run was the only run of the game. The ball was hit about 10 feet to my lower left. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to check in to the game using my MLB At Bat 2011 application on my iphone. Had I been paying attention? I would have came up with that baseball. It would have been no question. Heres the video in case you want to look. Im in the white jacket walking down the aisle. I was trying to find the ball and then as I turned down the row I finally saw it. But it was too late. You can see me walking away in defeat. It was pretty sad.
After the home run by Kennedy I wandered around the stadium and finally went down into the ‘Pen. The security guards were right. Its just one big drunken party down there. Here are a few pictures I managed to take.
I think security had to tell two different guys to stop trash talking the players in the brief five minutes I was down there. Im sure security has their hands full in that area.
After that I went up to the home plate area. Since the Mariners had the lead and the A’s had one last shot at either tying the game up or scoring ahead, the game would end after the top half of the ninth if niether of those things happened. So I waited patiently for the first out to be recorded in the top of the ninth. Once the ball was in play and the second out was recorded I scooted passed security and started to make my way towards the umpire tunnel. Mark Ellis popped up to Miguel Olivo to end the game. As soon as Ellis made contact and I saw that it was a pop up I ran down to get a good position on the tunnel. About five other people started jumping seats into the Diamond Club to get closer to the umpires as they walked off the field, and security was right there to kick them out. Even AFTER the game you cant sit in the Diamond Club seating.
Ed Hickox started his decent into the tunnel and he handed one fan a baseball. I held my glove up for him to hit me but he disappeared under the tarp covering the tunnel. I stood there for an additional moment and it was like magic. All of a sudden a baseball appeared on the tarp. I quickly grabbed it with a bare hand. I really couldnt believe it. Some guy behind me said something along the lines of “Yeah, lets get four more baseballs.” Im not sure if thats what he said or if he did say it, Im not sure who he was directing it at. But anyway. Alls well that ends well.
Game; April 21st 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $7.60 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $4.75 this season.
Opening Day for the 2011 MLB season is finally here. I drove 741 miles to Oakland California to watch the Oakland Athletics home opener against the Seattle Mariners. I have never been to this stadium before and I wanted to go here before the Athletics got a new stadium. Who knows when that will be but the rumors are circulating that in 2015 they will be moving to the San Jose area. The fans I talked to about it laughed and told me that, that rumor has been around for the last five years.
I got to California Thursday evening and enjoyed some family time farther south of Oakland. It was my cousins 27th birthday and since I was in town ( or in the state rather ) I thought it would be a nice surprise to see her and the rest of my family. The birthday cake was very delicious. So compliments to the chef. Friday morning I headed back to Oakland to grab a hotel room. I stayed at the Hilton Executive Suites about 2 miles from the stadium. It was a very nice room and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. If youre ever in Oakland stay there. Trust me.
I caught the Phillies/Astros game prior to leaving for the stadium. It was such an awesome game too. The Phillies came all the way back in the bottom of the ninth to win it with a John Mayberry Jr RBI single. Watching that game really pumped me up. I couldnt have been more ready for this game to start at the Coliseum. But I had so much time and so many photos to take.
Here are two pictures of the view from my hotel room. They view was not at all impressive but it will give you an idea of where I stayed.
Anyway. Enough clowning around in the hotel room. The sun was out and it was time to see the stadium! As I approached the front gate ( the Coliseum is very easy to get to, by the way ) there was just one lone security guard standing in my way. As I rolled down my window he was already telling me I was too early. I told him its never too early for baseball and he waved me through. I finally made it!
Since the stadium had been built in 1966 I didnt expect much. In fact I thought the stadium would be more run down than what it was. It was in pretty good condition. Even for a structure that has survived a couple of earthquakes. So there I am. Standing directly in front of this beast. Of course I had to explore the grounds and take as many pictures as possible. My first mission was to find out where the players entered and exited the stadium. Since it was an older stadium I assumed it had an underground tunnel system. Plus when the Coliseum was built they also built the Oracle.
Thats where the Golden State Warriors NBA basketball team plays. Im not sure if the Oracle was specifically built for that NBA team or what. But thats what they use it for now. As I was exploring I was interviewed by KGO newstalk 810 AM radio station. I was initially asked if I lived in this area and I said no. The conversation goes something like this;
“Do you mind if I ask you a few questions, sir?” The reporter asked.
“No, go right ahead.” I replied.
“What do you think about the 10% tax increase in the San Leandro area?” She asked. I initially thought it was a tax increase for renovations for a new stadium. But I had to ask to be sure.
“Whats the tax increase for?” I questioned.
“Its a sales tax increase.” Said the woman.
“Oh.” This wasnt about baseball at all! It was a political question and to be honest I really wasnt prepared to answer. So I didnt really give a very intelligent answer. So we will just leave it at that. The interview lasted a few more minutes and I have yet to search for it on the internet. ( If they even put it in some kind of archives file )
I continued looking for the players entrance and exit and I was quickly intercepted by another reporter. This time it was from KCBS 740 AM. This interview was actually about baseball. The reporter was interviewing fans for opening day and asking questions like; “Do you think the Athletics are going to the playoffs this year? ( No ) and do you think the Athletics should get a new stadium? ( Yes ) and how well do you think Hideki Matsui will fit into the A’s organization? ( Not very ). It was a very interesting interview and I had a lot of fun with it. The guy complimented me on my quick thinking and ability to spit stats, player bios, and baseball history. I was actually more pleased with myself that I remembered so much! He told me I was a true baseball fan. I appreciated the compliment.
After the radio interviews I came across another baseball fan. He asked me if I were from around the Oakland area ( mainly because I had my A’s hat on ) and I told him I drove all the way from Seattle to watch the home opener. ( I also explained I had my Mariners hat in my backpack )
His name is Benson and he is from Southeast Asia. he actually flies out to see Major League games and the Oakland Coliseum is his 17th Major League stadium he has been to. After this game he is flying to Cincinnati to go to Great American Ballpark and then Busch Stadium after that. I told him all the tricks and tips I knew about Busch Stadium. And some stuff about GABP. Benson had a lot of interesting knowledge to share with me about baseball where he comes from. Did you know that baseball players in Taiwan only get paid if they are a starter? Did you know that their training differs so much from American baseball that the coaches make a pitcher pitch 200-300 times to get the pitches perfect? That results in a lot of injuries. Did you know that baseball players over there get paid a tenth of what big leaguers in America get paid? Very interesting stuff.
Benson is also very knowledgeable specifically about the stadiums. Like, where the players enter and exit.
See the tunnel? Benson found that and told me about it. So I ran down here to get a picture. Thats where the players enter and exit both the Coliseum and the Oracle. Since Benson is an autograph collector ( much like I was two years ago ) he finds this stuff out just by walking around the stadium. We exchanged emails and he also told me that he got a picture of me while I was talking to the reporter for KCBS 740 AM. He told me he would email me the picture when he got home. It was pretty awesome talking with him about baseball. He has a lot of autographs from players that come out to Taiwan to play baseball.
By 3pm the game finally sold out and I was the first one in line. Thirty-minutes before the gates opened up there was virtually no one in line. Fifteen minutes prior to the gates openining up a small line started to form. The ushers confirmed that the game was sold out and they even mentioned that tomorrows game would only see about 15,000 fans. I really thought the whole series would be sold out.
Of course I was the first one inside and I started snapping pictures right away. See how the seat bottoms sort of sag in the rows? Yeah. I cant tell you how many times I bashed my legs up running through the rows trying to catch a foul ball. I had to actually give up chasing them down to save on injuries. It was that brutal. Anyway. I went into this game with 97 baseballs so I was looking for my 100th. I was only three away. As the Athletics were playing catch in the outfield and shagging fly balls a lot of fans were calling out to Jerry Blevins, one of the Athletics pitchers. I just let them do the calling and when he turned to fire a baseball our way I held up my glove and he launched me number 98. Moments later the Mariners started to come out onto the field. So I disappeared for a while to switched hats.
See the security guard in the picrure? I call him the Enforcer. He is not one to mess with. The good thing is he has a bum knee. So he is very, very slow. The slower they are the better. Thats what I say.
Once the Mariners came out onto the field it was very easy to get baseball number 99. Miguel Olivo is very responsive to the crowd and after he was done playing catch he was obviously looking to toss the baseball to someone. So I just called his name from about four rows up, held up my glove, and he underhanded me my 99th baseball of my collection. It was that easy. Now it was all about the 100th. Would it even happen today? All of a sudden it felt like someone dropped a ton of bricks on my shoulders. One baseball away from a milestone. I really wanted it to be a foul ball during the game and I had really great seats for that to happen too. I decided to run to the other side of the stadium. Batting practice was in full swing ( no pun intended ) and I had plenty of time. The awesome thing about the Coliseum is there is a concourse walkway that you can walk to get to the other side of the field and not have to cut up through the stadium like at Kauffman or Safeco. Its pretty awesome. Thats the only thing I really liked.
On the other side I saw this.
Was it really going to be this easy? Surely not. Not to spoil the rest of the blog entry but I didnt get my 100th baseball on Opening day at the Coliseum. I didnt want it to be like that because going into the next game trying to get that one baseball really puts the pressure on.
But I did enjoy watching the Mariners beat the Athletics though. Here are some pictures from the Opening Day ceremony.
Here is a picture I took during the introduction of the players. Notice all the empty seats? I guess thats sold-out Oakland style.
The Athletics took an early two-run lead thanks to Josh Willinghams two run home-run. But as the A’s defense fell apart the Mariners capitalized on all the errors and routed the A’s for the victory. Chone Figgins, who only hit one home run all season last year, blasted one into the left-field seats. It was a very well played game by the Mariners with smart base running and a powerful performance by King Felix.
The Oakland Coliseum staff needs to do some serious weeding around the seats too.
Game; April 1st 2011 Seattle Mariners Vs Oakland Athletics