Yesterday at Safeco Field I had a blast. I wanted to continue that good vibe and collect even more baseballs. It was so easy because the fan base simply died off for this series. In all fairness, who wants to see two last place teams battle it out? Since I love baseball so much I couldn’t careless who played. I just wanted to see some baseball! I figured for a Friday evening in Seattle, with awesome weather, and the kids all in school now, the crowd should be next to nothing. I was pretty much correct in my assumption. Here is a picture of the party deck well past the time the gates had opened up:
Seriously. That was my competition. It was literally dead. So allow me to back up a little bit and start from the time I walked into the stadium.
Yesterday the Mariners didn’t have batting practice because they got into Seattle from Anaheim quite late. I’m not sure why but that’s what I was told. Today the Mariners were having batting practice but for the most part I was being ignored. I called out to Anthony Vasquez a few times, Trayvon Robinson a few times and even Dan Cortes. Nothing from any of them. It wasn’t until 5:10pm when the rest of the stadium opened up and I found this little gem just sitting in an empty row of seats:
Moments later I found this as well:
I gave away the first loose baseball I found to a nearby woman who had her son with her. And of course I kept the Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball. After hanging around in the third base lower seating bowl for a few extra minutes I decided to try my luck at the “Safeco Field Lookout” . I waited for just the right moment and then called out to Alex Gordon. I had to call his name three times before he finally turned around and looked up at me. I flailed my arms rapidly and motioned for him to throw me a baseball. And when he did…
…I caught my third ball of the evening. You can see Gordon in the picture above walking slightly to his right. He’s the player with the number four on his back. Super nice guy. And not because he threw me a baseball. Well, yeah. That’s mainly why he’s a nice guy. While I was up there looking around I saw Bruce Chen doing the same thing he was doing yesterday; teasing the fans with a baseball. I didn’t know if perhaps he would remember me from yesterday but I had to give it a shot.
When I got down to the party deck there were plenty of fans wanting a baseball. But again. I had the edge. My Kansas City Royals hat. Chen wasn’t playing games with Jesse Chavez this time. He was playing games with Joakim Soria. So the payoff would be awesome. I lined up at the far corner and made sure Soria saw me wearing my Royals hat. Moments later he lobbed a high arching throw that I knew was going to land in the party deck. I took a step forward, outstretched my arm and made the catch. That was my fourth ball of the day. And from Joakim Soria too.
When batting practice started to come to an end I wandered the bullpen looking for any extra baseballs that I could glove-trick out of there. When I saw a baseball at the end of the Royals bullpen I ran over to try and pull it out. When I arrived, there was a younger baseball fan standing directly in line with the baseball. I asked him if he was trying to get the baseball and he told me he was. I explained to him that it would be a lucky shot if you actually ended up with the baseball because usually the groundskeepers come through and scoop all the baseballs up. I told him I’d glove-trick it out of the bullpen for him. Since I had possession of the baseball that counts towards my total which now put me at five on the day. I handed the baseball off to him, we shook hands and parted ways.
Before the game started I wanted to get something else accomplished. Today I brought the baseball that Jason Phillips threw me on 4-2-2011 at the Oakland Coliseum this year which turned out to be my 100th baseball. Since Phillips tossed it to me I wanted him to sign it. I’ve actually been trying to get him to sign it for the past few games I’ve attended but he was always busy and I don’t want to bother these guys when they have work to do. But the opportunity presented itself when Jason walked up to the bullpen cops and started talking to them. I quickly grabbed my baseball and my pen and walked over to him.
“Hey Jason, I was wondering if you had time for a quick autograph.” I asked him
“Sure, no problem.” He replied.
“But I was wondering if you could personalize the baseball for me. This is my 100th baseball ever caught in my life and you threw it to me in Oakland on April 2nd.” Jason smiled as I explained the significance of the baseball to him.
“Well, what do you want me to put on it?” He asked.
“I don’t know!” I said with a laugh. ” You’re the baseball player. You guys always have something witty to say.” He laughed too, I gave him my name and this was the result:
The Mariners game was absolutely amazing. Alex Liddi, who made his Safeco Field debut, ended up hitting a double on his second at-bat. The cool story about Liddi is his season ended while playing for the Tacoma Rainers and his parents had purchased airline tickets for him to go back to Italy and then he gets called up to the Mariners. How cool is that? The Root Sports guys and some freelance writers from MLB Network came down to film Steve Delabar as well. Liddi and Delabar were hot topics in Seattle and the ‘Pen area got quite popular.
Since I was standing there I asked all kinds of questions to the camera man and the people who accompanied him. I also passed him my business card with all my blog information, charity website information and my contact information. So hopefully I’ll hear from those guys one day. Maybe I’ll be famous too!
Jeff Francoeur made some fine plays in the outfield to rob Dustin Ackley of a home run and an extra base hit. After Francoeur robbed Ackley of the home run, Olivo blasted one off the fair-pole in left field. Olivo also hit a double and a triple. He came up short for the cycle but it was still awesome to see.
After the game ended I called out to Dan Cortes and got him to toss me my sixth baseball of the night. The Mariners came out winners with a 7-3 victory over the Royals.
Game; September 9th 2011 Kansas City Royals vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $178.70 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $44.80 this
Sick as a dog. I had all the flu symptoms and absolutely no energy. I didn’t want to come out to Safeco Field just for those reasons. But I mustered up what little energy I had and drove the short 20 miles to the stadium two hours before the gates opened, took a short 25 minute nap in my car, straightened myself up and walked to the baseball stadium. I arrived around 4pm which is pretty late for my standards. But the Kansas City Royals were in town for a four game stretch and that meant that the crowd would be minimal. Good for me but bad for the Mariners. They deserve a full house everyday. And Safeco Field is a wonderful stadium to visit.
When I got into the stadium the batting practice equipment was set up and ready to go but the field was a ghost town. The only person around was the Mariners bullpen catcher, Jason Phillips. He was quietly perched on the bullpen bench staring out into the open, empty field as I was. I said hello to Phillips and we engaged in small talk before some of the Mariners pitching staff arrived.
And just for your general knowledge, Jason Phillips is a really cool guy. Also for your general knowledge I forgot my SD card for my camera so I had to use my iPhone to take pictures. So if the pictures seem to be awkwardly long or the resolution isn’t as good, that’s why. I still have the first generation iPhone because I’m too cheap to buy a brand new one. Plus I like to spend my money traveling to other stadiums.
When the Mariner pitching staff arrived, Jason got into full catching gear and then he turned to me and said, ” We probably won’t be taking BP, but they will.” I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or not at first and then I realized he was. I thought that was pretty awesome that Jason kind of had an idea of why I was there. Not only to watch the game, mind you. But to snag baseballs too. And for a good reason. If you are just now reading my blogs I’ve started a charity called, Snagging Baseball for Puppies. Since I snag so many baseballs throughout the seasons I wanted to put it to a good cause. I contacted the Seattle Humane Society at the beginning of this season and asked if they’d like to support something like that. They said yes and so far I’ve raised $166 dollars. I’ve even had some employees at Safeco Field drop in a pledge. And if you’re also wondering what I do with all the baseballs I catch, some times I give them away to kids, some I keep and now I’m starting to give some away to military veterans. Since I’m a military veteran myself I figured that would be a good way to show my military support. If you want to check out my baseball snagging stats just click here.
When the rest of the stadium opened up I snuck around through the outfield and ran down to the first base seating bowl to try to snag a toss-up from one of the Mariners pitching staff. But it was slim pickins’. I did, however, get this fabulous picture of Billy Butler and Jamey Wright talking. They were teammates twice before, (I think) so they were doing a little catching up.
Jamey Wright was playing catch with Brandon League and when they got done tossing the baseball around, Brandon tossed the ball into the left field bleachers. When that happened I left the seating bowl and ran to the centerfield seats. And it literally paid off the moment I walked down to the front row. I don’t know who hit it but the ball ended up bouncing off the warning track and right into my glove…
That’s Aaron Crow in the backfield. I called out to him as I was walking down the stairs to the front row to get the baseball he had. He tossed it in and watched me make the grab. I anticipated the high bounce and jumped just as the baseball hit the warning track but it died so much that I had to hurry up and land to make the catch before the ball disappeared into no man’s land. (The centerfield wall gap) Moments later I caught another baseball on the fly. I had to climb over one row of seats to make the catch but I did it.
After that I ran down to the ‘Pen area because Bruce Chen of the Kansas City Royals was in centerfield fielding a lot of baseballs. Since I had on my Royals hat I knew it would be a sure thing from him. When I got down there him and Jesse Chavez were teasing the fans with a baseball. Chen would throw the ball just out of reach and then toss it to Chavez. Chavez would then throw the baseball high enough over the wall but low enough that Chen could jump up and rob the fans from any catch that would be made. I didn’t bother to take part in the reindeer games because I knew I had one simple advantage. My Kansas City Royals hat. And when Bruce Chen was done having his fun, he started to look for someone to throw the baseball to. And guess who got it? Here’s a picture of Bruce Chen after hooking me up with my third ball of the day:
I continued to move around the entire stadium looking for another opportunity to snag a baseball. I stopped here at the “Safeco Field Lookout” and snapped a quick photo and noticed Jeff Francis in left field all by himself. You won’t see him in the next photo but take a look anyway.
When I arrived down into the third base seating bowl there was a fan mixing it up with Francis and pleading for a baseball. Again, since I had on my Royals hat I had the upper hand over all these fans. Jeff eventually tossed him a baseball and then walked over to a small pile of them and started lobbing baseballs into the crowd. I called out to him a few times and got his attention. This was the result:
In the picture above you can see Jeff Francis throwing a baseball into the infield just over my glove. I’ve received a baseball from Francis before on 5-21-2010 at Kauffman Stadium when he was playing for the Colorado Rockies. So it was good to see him again and sort of re-unite with him on that level. That was my fourth baseball of the day and I was quite pleased at that point.
After batting practice had ended I made my way back down into the ‘Pen area to get something to eat. Dave Valle, a former Seattle Mariner catcher, started throwing out t-shirts and I got to be the lucky fan standing there when one came my way. It was drifting a little to my right and this guy behind me jumped up to try to rob me of it. I wasn’t trying all that hard to try to catch the t-shirt but it would have been cool to get one anyway. Well, the dude behind me had a cup of beer in his hand. You can probably guess what happened next. It’s a simple rule of physics. When you jump up in the air with something in your hand, like a cup of beer, most likely when you return to earth the beer in your cup is going to go everywhere and land on everyone. I happened to be standing in close proximity of this and yup! I got beer spilled on me. The guy didn’t even apologize and that’s why I don’t like competing for thrown baseballs, t-shirts or free hotdogs in the beer garden. Because people aren’t conscious of their drinks and they end up spilling them on everyone like a dope when something is thrown their way.
Even though I had beer spilt on me before the game, I ended up watching the some of the game from the party deck. Being that is was a Thursday night game it wasn’t all that crowded and it felt awesome to stand right by the Mariners bullpen. The other half of the game I actually sat in my assigned seat for once. Here was my view during the game:
While I was getting settled on the party deck by the Mariners bullpen I saw something very odd in my backpack. On one of the baseballs I saw what looked like to be a logo of some kind. So I pulled the baseball out of my bag and this is what I saw:
It’s hard to say where exactly this baseball came from. Expect the obvious; New Yankee Stadium. But I mean, where I got it at Safeco Field. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the ground rule double I caught because that baseball has defining markings from bouncing off the warning track. It could have been tossed up by Bruce Chen or Jeff Francis. But really? It didn’t really matter where it came from. I had it in my possession and I was thrilled to have caught a New Yankee Stadium baseball. I love these commemorative balls and there will be two new ones to snag next season when the Marlins get their new stadium and when the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 50th year in L.A. Next year I’m definitely going to Los Angeles for a few games.
Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a first pitch, first inning home run. I actually thought about buying seats for that section before buying a ticket in the left field seats. But that’s how it goes. When I decide to sit elsewhere the baseballs go where I’m not. Story of my life.
Game; September 8th 2011 Kansas City Royals vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $172.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $43.00 this
Basically all the big name players have reached agreements on contracts, trades, and have been through the boring old rigmarole of decided their futures. One player does stand out in my mind though. Zack Greinke. Zack won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award, and concluded the season with a 16-8 W-L record, a 2.16 ERA, and 242 strikeouts last season. He also picked up league MVP, and was awarded a spot on the All-star team. In 2010 his numbers declined rapidly. So after a poor performance Dayton Moore decided it was best for Zack Greinke to find a new home in Milwaukee.
Fortunatly for Dayton Moores reputation for being a failed leader in the Kansas City Royals organization this whole thing revolving around Greinke had really nothing to do with Moore. Dayton simply pulled the trigger on the trade. Greinke wanted to leave Kansas City. Even though he was drafted by them in 2002 in the first round, from the start Grienke wanted out of Kansas City. People will argue that because he pitched his guts out last season but aside from that Greinke made a statement last week stating ” when we are 20 games out of first place its kind of hard to get excited about coming to the park.” Wow. Strong.
In 33 games that Zack has started I have sat through three of them live at Kauffman Stadium. I have witnessed Zack throw the game away at least twice out of those three games that I have sat through. It was quite common for Zack to be out of the game by the third inning in most of his starts, and leave the Royals hanging, and have the bullpen finish the work. With a 10-14 record at the finish, and a 4.17 ERA its kind of hard not to see that Zack was frusterated. Most of the Royals are. On the flip side Greinke has stated that he is excited to join the Brewers for the 2011 season.
Kerry Wood has signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. Im sure fans are delighted to see him back. Wood is expected to be the late inning setup man for Carlos Marmol. Kerry Wood is excited to be back, and has made many statements that he never wanted to leave ( Chicago ) in the first place. He has never been about money, and that was proven when he turned down four teams willing to shell out more dough for Wood than Chicago did. It was reported that Wood signed for $1.5 Million.
Adrian Beltre is about the only free agent left in the world of baseball. Since the Texas Rangers lost out on the deal for Cliff Lee they have some money to throw around, and by asking Michael Young to DH for them Adrian Beltre wouldnt be a bad addition. Smashing 28 homeruns, driving in 102 RBIs, and batting a solid .321 average in the 2010 season Beltre is one sought after player. Rumors speculate that the Angels are also in the market for Beltre. Only time will tell.
Sitting quietly in the AL West are the Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners. None of which are making many headlines as far as trades during this offseason. Now that Cliff Lee is no longer apart of the Rangers baseball team you could probably count the A’s or the Mariners to be somewhat of a contender next season. The A’s have some strong pitching that the other teams in the division should be worried about. Trevor Cahill posted some nice numbers last season. He went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. Brett Anderson is another stronger pitcher the A’s have. Aside from pitching? Thats all I got for you!
Another early bird tour would serve me well. Since the last two games I was sitting behind the Tampa Bay Ray dugout and not one baseball was tossed my way despite my TB gear. I was slightly disappointed with the Rays. But I was fine with that. I had three baseballs in as many games, and I was going for the 100 baseball mark today. And it started off looking very promising. As soon as we were released into the stands by the tour guide, I ran down the steps and started calling to Zack Greinke. He was walking towards two baseballs. He scooped the up and randomly tossed them into the seats. Since I was the first one down that way I had an easy shot at atleast one of them. I heard the pounding footsteps of competition behind me but I remained calm, played the ball as it rolled around, and leaned over the seats to scoop it up. It was a daring move because the ball was on a roll. Ive learned that when a baseball is hit or thrown into the seats you want to carefully play the ball as it rolls. I try not to get overly aggressive and chase it down to the very row it was thrown to because it generally rolls down the aisles.
I heckled Greg Holland a little bit about the other day with the annoying kid, and we shared some laughs. It wouldnt take long, and Mike Aviles would rip a foul ball into the same area where Greinke had tossed a baseball. I was the only one there so I just casually jogged that way, and let the ball roll right into my glove with no competition within miles. I got an approving smile, and nod from the tour guide, and I went about my business. The second baseball that I got I probably wasnt supposed to have. Or it was just fate or luck or whatever a person would want to think. I mean, getting this ball was like winning the lottery. I should have probably played the lottery after this. It was getting close to 5:30pm. Seven minutes. Then the gates would open, and people would pour in. After that foul ball I retrieved off the bat of Mike Aviles, he would put two more deep into the outfield, and one baseball bounced into the seats. I watched this whole thing playout.
I figured a security guard would have seen it or a kid or someone. But nothing. Five minutes before the gates would open, and all of a sudden out from behind the batters eye some teenaged kid went down to where the ball was, and he started frantically searching for the baseball. He walked all the way down to the wall, and he started asking baseball players for a baseball. It wasnt but a moment later someone tossed him a baseball, and off he went. I couldnt believe it! He didnt see the ball! Or he grabbed it, and I didnt see him grab it! The ball must be well hidden, I thought to myself. Like its stuck in a cupholder, or wedged down in a seat. Three minutes. I had to move. I had to do something. The security guards were taking their positions. I had to risk getting ejected or yelled at. I had to. I started up the stairs towards the outfield. I scanned around. The tour guide was busy with conversating with the fans. This was my break. I scampered up the stairs, and fast-paced walked towards the outfield. The “Take me out to the ball game” jingle roared over the loudspeaker. The gates were opening! I bolted towards the outfield seats. I raced passed a security guard that was seeing what I was seeing. There it was! Are you kidding me?! The baseball was in the middle of the first aisle out in the open! How could that kid not see that?! No matter. It was mine.
To my suprised the ball I scooped up was an Inaugural Season baseball from Target Field. Ive been wanting one of these all season. I never did make it out to Target Field. But it didnt matter now. I had one, and as I dropped it into my bag I noticed something else on another ball. Could it be? Yup! I had two of them! Greinke could have tossed it to me, or it could have been the Mike Aviles foul ball. I felt like going home. Mission accomplished. I came away with not one, but TWO of these baseballs! As I hung around the bullpen Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays started to head in there. He was actually going to retrieve some baseballs? That would be a first. But of course he was new. So I hung around, and called to him. He fired one to me but it came up short. He tossed another one to me, and I grabbed it. Number four and the final baseball of the game. I sat behind the dugout of the Rays all game, and no luck. I tried to get the umpire to toss me one, no luck. The Rays from the bullpen didnt toss me one either.
So that concludes the regular season for me. Im planning on making it out to Great American BallPark Monday if the Reds can win Game 3. It should be fun. It will be my second playoff game, and Im eager to try to snag some baseballs.
I hope everyone had a great baseball season, and an even better postseason!
Game; October 2nd 2010 Tampa Bay Rays Vs Kansas City Royals
The first ball of the evening came from Greg Holland of the Kansas City Royals. Some kid was harassing him to the point where the baseball players decided to harass back. Everytime the kid called for a baseball from Holland, the other players would call for a baseball from Holland as well. It was so funny I nearly had to sit down in the seats. Eventually, Holland just tossed me a baseball. I dont know if it was because I wasnt the harasser or because I was totally amused by the whole thing. But for my politeness I received a baseball, and of course I thanked him for it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCC6wDei2cQ <— Link to the Youtube video of the kid.
I didnt record the best parts of the kid interacting with Holland, but youll get the idea of how annoying this kid was just by watching this short 15 second video of him asking for a baseball.
Towards the end of batting practice I circled my way around the entire stadium, and I ended up on the first base side. I figured If I was going to get my second baseball it would probably come from this side. David Price, and Matt Garza were tossing a few into the crowd. So I waited around patiently for the opportunity to strike. It wasnt long before a security guard waved me over to him. Great. I thought I was going to be asked to leave or get my ticket checked. But nope. He simply started to talk my ear off about the best way to get a baseball. I quickly shut him down by explaining of the box full of baseballs I have at home, who my greatest toss ups came from, and all my past injuries Ive sustained while doing this. This was like my second job. Coming to the ballpark, and seeing how many baseballs I could get. That shut him up. As I wandered back down the steps a sharp liner came ripping into the seats. I took a step back, and watched the ball take its first sharp bounce. Straight up! I had a shot! I raced two rows over, hurdled one row down, and the ball managed to bounce off two more seats before rolling down the aisle the other way. I was running down the aisle after it, and scooped it up with my glove. Too easy. I heard the disappointed groans from potential competition behind me as I casually walked away with the trophy. Two baseballs on the day was pretty good. The third baseball came from one of the Tampa Bay Rays pitchers that was running off the field. I simply followed him towards his dugout and raised my glove in the air. He airmailed me one and I had to dodge a row quickly to make the catch. I didnt regonize who it was though. Maybe next time.
All in all it was a pretty decent evening at Kauffman. Three on the evening and one last night. I was on track to break 100 at this point. But Id have to have a huge game tomorrow to do it.
Game; October 1st 2010 Tampa Bay Rays VS Kansas City Royals
So I spent my first game of the season at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Ive always loved going to this stadium and I will probably to continue to love it as long as the Royals continue to play baseball like a bunch of college students. The ticket prices are fairly reasonable ( Unlike Wrigley Field or Busch Stadium ) and the fan base is calm, and few. On average the stadium fills to about 10,000 to 18,000 depending on weather, the day of the week, and of course the time of the game. I think the Royals just had Zack Greinke BobbleHead night so that may have been their biggest fan turn-out since the season started. ( Above you will find Johnny Damon, and teammates standing on the third base line getting ready for the Nations Anthem to be sang )
I was of course the first person inside the stadium to start my ballhawking experience. Last year I didnt focus too much on collecting MLB baseballs. I focused on autographs. Which I will say I was very successful. I came away with 65 autographs last year. I also left 2009 season with 13 game balls. Not bad for someone that wasnt focusing on that. This year is a brand new year with brand new intentions.
I entered the stadium on the first base side and immediatly chased down to the field where Joakim Soria and Kyle Farnsworth were warming up. I am kicking myself for not asking Farnsworth for the ball after he was done with it. But like I said. This is a brand new year, and I’m pretty new to all of this. As the season progresses I will build more confidence where I will learn that calling out to players for balls wont hurt me or kill me. The worst thing that can happen is I will get ignored. So after the warm up tosses were completed by the Royals batting practice ensued. The Royals were actually launching quite a bit of balls into the seats out in right field. I was pretty comfortable waiting for a foul ball my way. After standing there for 30 minutes, and realizing the Tigers were about to come out on to the field, I made my way to their side.
Sitting on the third base foul line was my potential first gem of the season. I didnt have to wait but ten minutes before Joel Zumaya came over to scoop it up, and toss it in. I asked for it respectively and he tossed it my way. BING! Respect goes along way when asking players for balls. Use your P’s, and Q’s. The Tigers were launching quite a few baseballs into the left field corner, and the players were giving the fans a lot of attention as well. So I figured I may have a chance to get number two. When I got over there Fu-Te Ni, Ryan Perry, Rick Porcello, and Zach Miner were all tossing baseballs to kids. I was lucky enough to recognize Ryan Perry with his designer sunglasses on. I asked him for a ball twice. No dice. On the third attempt, he tossed the ball up but a few feet to my left. I got a finger on itbut I ended up actually blocked it from another fan. It landed back onto the field where the ball was then sent back into the infield.
I headed back to my seats after BP was completed and I waited for the Tigers starting pitcher to come out where he would warm up on the infield. As he did Carlos Guillen came over to signed some autographs. I opted out of having him sign anything I had available. But after the warm up was complete, Carlos Guillen ended up with the ball so I stood up calling to him. He threw it to me but another fan was standing in front of me trying to intercept my ball. I leaned forward to snagged it. Bing! Knowing players names, and identifying them pays off…sometimes. Unfortunalty, no foul balls were hit my way during the game.
Game; April 8th 2010 Kansas City Royals Vs. Detroit Tigers.
Game Balls; Two