The last baseball game of August 2011. The Los Angeles Angels were in town for a four-game series and I was able to attend at least one of them. I bought tickets to sit out in the outfield but I ended up spending the entire game standing in the newly refurbished ‘Pen area. It was quite interesting to say the least. It wasn’t as crowded as a weekend game though so I really had a chance to catch a home run ball. Sadly, none were hit in my direction.
When I got into the stadium it seemed like the security guards were playing extra hard to moderate who got a baseball and who didn’t. These security guards had “Alcohol Enforcement” on the back of their shirts not “Baseball Enforcement”. In my opinion it really seemed quite ridiculous to be as active as they were when it came to who got a baseball and who didn’t. Of course, they made sure every little kid within sixteen square miles got a baseball and some of the older crowd started to complain directly to them. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to let them know they were getting to me. At one point of the of the security guards out-snagged a fan to give a baseball to a kid. I thought that was pure 100% ridiculous.
Willy Mo Pena finally tossed up a baseball after minutes of yelling at him and the kid that the baseball was intended for dropped it into the centerfield gap. Like always. I stepped in before security could go down there and get it and glove tricked it out of there. I handed it off to his mother instead of the kid and told him that the next baseball he gets he needs to share. Now who’s the baseball moderator? HA!
When it was time to run up the stairs and wander the rest of the stadium I ran down to the third base seating bowl and watched an awesome show put on my Blake Beaven and Dan Cortes. If you asked Dan Cortes for a baseball he wasn’t going to toss it to you. He was going to rear back and fire some serious heat. And if you missed it? Serious injury would ensue or you wouldn’t come up with the baseball. It was really hilarious. Unfortunately, I didn’t get him to throw me one. But this guy got a couple thrown to him:
It was pretty funny. Dan really launched them at him and when the baseball hit the seats after a miss it would bounce all over the place. I thought about playing behind the guy but every time I got closer he would move farther away. So I just took the picture of him instead and let him have his fun.
The Mariners jogged off the field as the Angels came out and I decided the best place to get my second baseball of the day would be here:
Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing came my way. Not even an overthrow, missthrow, underthrow, sideways throw or a foul ball. I knew that as soon as I left my spot something would happen. I left anyway and I didn’t bother to watch over there to be disappointed. I wandered the bullpen, and the ‘Pen area, the Party deck and back around to the bullpen looking for an opportunity to snag a baseball. I finally decided to stay on the party deck for the rest of the Angels portion of batting practice. A few home runs were hit out to my general area and as soon as I ran for one a player tossed a baseball up right where I was standing. Truly frustrating. Plus I had security to deal with. They seemed to be out-snagging everyone. Including the players on the field. I felt, not only me, but other fans were truly being ripped off by these two security guards. Here was my view while standing on the party deck:
During the last few moments of BP, I got Joel Pineiro’s attention and he launched a baseball my way. Of course I had three determining factors of why I didn’t catch the baseball. 1.) Pineiro’s throw was high, 2.) Some drunk dude next to me stuck his elbow into my ribcage and, 3.) The sun was directly in my field of view. The result? One of the nicer security guards got blasted in the collar-bone by the baseball. I heard the sickening sound of a Major League Baseball connecting with human flesh and bone, and when I looked back I saw the security guard leaning against the fence covering her entire face. I thought she got hit in the nose or something. But she didn’t. And when I looked back at Joel, he was motioning to me how close I came to catching it. I just shrugged at him and motioned back with my hands signaling I missed the catch by mere inches. Heres a Seattle Mariners Security Guard Fun Fact for you; that’s the second time that specific security guard has been hit by a Joel Pineiro throw.
Batting practice came to an end and I left the ‘Pen area to find my seats. Here’s a view:
I didn’t stay here that long though. Maybe a few innings. I watched the entire game from the ‘Pen. Or the Party Deck as some like to call it. I normally don’t stand out there because it’s so crowded and anytime a baseball lands on the party deck everyone spills their beers on each other as they try to catch the baseball. The awesome part of sitting out here is look at the running room to my right…
…and check out my running room to my left…
The only bad part of the picture above is the railing in my way. But other than that, what great seats.
Here’s a picture of the Kings Court:
If you’ve never been to a Mariners game before and don’t have any idea what the “Kings Court” is, well, simply put? It’s a section at Safeco Field where fans buy a ticket in, they get a yellow “King Felix” shirt, a huge “K” sign and they all sit together. Everytime Felix Hernandez strikes someone out everyone in that section goes nuts. It’s quite entertaining. Unfortunately the crowds at Safeco Field aren’t quite as large as they were towards the start of the season. So the Kings Court was kind of wimpy during the game.
Game; August 31st 2011 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $168.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $41.80 this
I was really looking forward to this game. For a couple of reasons; the Los Angeles Angels were in town for a three game series and I absolutely love to watch Bobby Abreu play baseball, and Zack Hample made the trip out from New York to come to Safeco Field. This is his tenth stadium he has visted this season. If you don’t know who Zack Hample or Bobby Abreu are then I will graciously enlighten you. Bobby Abreu is the Angels DH and left fielder. He is also a career .296 hitter with 277 home runs and a bunch of RBI’s. He’s also know for his plate discipline.
Zack Hample is the author of three books that I have read cover to cover. (One of them twice!) He wrote How to Snag Baseballs at Major League Stadiums, Watching Baseball Smarter, and The Baseball. You don’t really need to buy his first book because the other two books have brief chapters of how to snag your own baseball at a game but the second two are a must buy. Watching Baseball Smarter is my favorite because it’s like Zack pulled the curtain back on Major League baseball games. Have you ever wondered what is said on the mound between the catcher and the pitcher? Or why all the infielders come in sometimes to catch the conversation between the catcher and the pitcher? And why does the umpire join them as well? Why does the base coaches never stand in the designated box that they’re supposed to stand in? Zack goes in depth of the who, what, whys and hows of the game and answers just about every question you’ve ever dreamt up. Its amazing. And his third book, The Baseball is basically about the eveolution of the baseball. How it came to be what it is today. He even made it inside the Rawlings factory. The media isn’t allowed there but somehow Zack Hample made it in.
That’s Zack Hample posing next to his infamous pyramid of baseballs. Pretty amazing, huh.
Those are his books. So check them out. They’re totally worth it. Even if you’re not a geeky baseball nut like me you should at least check them out so you’ll have a better understanding about the game.
So that’s why today’s game was going to be so awesome. My two favorite people under one …er..open or closed dome. (Safeco Field joke)
I arrived at the stadium around 1pm and I wandered for quite a bit. But on the centerfield side of the stadium you can peer into the stadium and kind of watch batting practice. I found it odd that the Angels, well some of them, were out hitting baseballs at 1pm. So I stuck around and watched. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if a baseball was hit to me while I was standing here outside the stadium?” And sure enough. I don’t know who hit it but it was launched and I watched it in the entire way. It smacked off the pavement and bounced in my direction. Unfortunatly, it clanged off some stair railings and then bounced off the brick wall beside me. Some Roots Sports guy was walking around and he almost got hit by the ball. I quickly perked up thinking I have a chance to get the ball from him. All I had to do was ask. And he hooked me up with it. Time check; 2:45pm. The gates were set to open at 4:40pm. Wow. I managed to get a baseball OUTSIDE the stadium nearly two hours before the gates opened.
In the picture above you can see the Root Sports guy yapping on his cellphone after he hooked me up with a baseball.
And here you can see the baseball as it kind of got stuck underneath the gate. It felt really good to snag that baseball and I actually hung around trying to find more. Usually the cardinal rule when it comes to baseball players and hitting BP home runs is that they get into a groove and launch maybe one or two more. But maybe this one was just extra special.
When Zack finally arrived at the stadium it was about 4:30pm. Since his leg is all busted up from spraining his ankle a couple of weeks ago, him, myself, Josh and his girlfriend were all permitted to enter the stadium via the handicap gate. I felt bad for Zack because he couldn’t move like he wanted to, and I could tell it was very frustrating. Plus the pain he must be in. But I give him his props because he is one dedicated dude. He’s not just shagging baseballs for himself. He’s doing it for the charity foundation he is involved in. It’s called Pitch in for Baseball. Just go to www.ZackHample.com and you’ll find out all you need to know. Once inside it was kind of every man for himself at that point. We all hung around the centerfield area for a while, and Josh got Greg Halman to toss him one but at the same time someone launched a deep drive that nearly made it over the fence. Josh nearly got drilled so he didn’t end up getting the toss up from Halman. I didn’t see the baseball either but neither of us really expected it because the Mariners rarely go deep with any BP home runs into the center field area.
After the staircase was open we ran down into the third base area to find any loose baseballs. There were a couple but I got beat out by some kid. So I took my routine spot at the third base protective fence. It was easy pickins’ down there too once the Angels came out onto the field and started taking some cuts in the cage. I had to sprawl way out but I caught a slow roller that made it just passed the fence and into my glove. I didn’t hang around the area too much longer because BP was about to end plus there were a lot of kids that were starting to wander around me. I didn’t want someone to get hurt because I either missed a baseball or because I moved for one and someones’ kid was underneath my feet. It happens. So I moved up to the foul pole area.
I caught another one up there on the fly. It was hit directly at me so I had a pretty good bead on it. I didn’t really have to move to my right or my left but I bashed my knee pretty good on the fencing when I leaned over the railing to make the beautiful catch.
After that I quickly made my way down to the dugout to see if I could get any toss ups from the Angels pitching staff but it was slim pickins’ down there. Lots of kids, and a few Angels fans. Plus I really wasn’t in a good position to catch anything. After BP ended we all huddled up for some photo opportunities with Zack.
I know. I probably could have smiled more. But I wanted to look tough. From left to right; Ginny, Josh, Zack, Max and me. Between the five of us we snagged nearly 20 baseballs. And of course Zack outsnagged us all. But that goes without saying. He’s been at this for like, 20 years.
We stood out in the bullpen for the majority of the game and it nearly paid off. I almost caught a Vernon Wells home run. The ball carried deep into the bullpen, and I thought it was going to land on the grassy part. But it didn’t. It landed on the dirt mound and took a wicked hop towards the fans. Of course nobody had a glove on so it got passed everyone. I had a shot at it too but I misplayed that bounce so badly I ended up taking a bad route to the baseball. Once the baseball squirts loose it doesn’t last long before someone gets it.
The Mariners lost the series opener 6-3 thanks to Vernon Wells hitting TWO home runs.
Game; June 13th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $65.50 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $27.50 this