A lot has been happening this week so I apologize that this Sundays blog has came so late. I will tell you about the game in a minute. I need to get some other things covered before we start talking baseball. First things first. My charity projects have been totally awesome. And thats mostly in part by my awesome fans that have pledged some money per baseball that I snag this year. So far I have snagged 26 baseballs this season and next week the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Whitesox come to town. So I am uber excited about that. ( First time using the word uber in my blog ) Also. A good friend of mine has put up $10 large towards Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. I think that is very thoughtful of him. So thank you, Ryan.
Something else I need to get off my chest. For years Ive had specific rules when I snag baseballs at games. One rule that Ive been sticking to is that I only count baseballs that I go home with. Well, on Saturday, David DeJesus threw me a baseball that I didnt count. But I caught it. Now we all know in professional sports if a player catches a ball and has positive control over it, its ruled a catch, right? Well, the same should go for me when Im snagging baseballs in the stands. I also looked back into my previous games and found that I had indeed caught a baseball, gave it away, and then counted it in my collection. It happened last year at Kauffman Stadium when I caught a career high of five baseballs. So naturally I should count the one thrown to me from DeJesus. Everyone agree? Good.
Oh, one last thing. Because I have SiriusXM radio in my car which means I normally dont listen to AM/FM radio but since my car is in the shop I had to drive a loaner today. So no SiriusXM. I know. Youre like, “So?”. Well, its about to get interesting. On my way to school I tuned into 99.9FM KISW the Rock of Seattle. The BJ Shea Morning Experience radio show was on and these guys were talking about how President Obama showed his birth certificate finally and then they asked the audience what sort of things are we tired of having to prove but no one believes us. Well, I texted in ” Ive snagged 124 baseballs from 7 different stadiums.” As I was pulling into the school parking lot the KISW radio team called me! They asked me if I wanted to be on the air and talk about this. I was all for it, of course… so here is the radio interview for your listening pleasure. Just fast-forward to about the 18 minute mark.
So lets talk about Sundays game. Shall we? Sundays game looked like this during batting practice ( Or lack there-of ) practically the entire time.
So it was pretty boring. Then the Athletics came out to stretch, and do their thing. More boring-ness.
Like I said. There wasnt a whole lot going on. Before the game on Sundays its pretty mellow and boring. I did have some Athletics fan chew my ear off for about 30 minutes though. So I kind of enjoyed that.
I did finally get the chance to give Brad Ziegler some U.S Army wristbands Ive been wanting to get to him. He has a foundation that I mentioned in my last few blog entries. Its actually a pretty awesome foundation. You should check it out. Brad Ziegler was sort of busy talking to what seemed to be a reporter. I overheard him mention his foundation but then they hugged. So Im not sure who the woman was. Then I waited for another Athletics fan to get his autograph, and then I moved in to hand him the wristbands. I briefly explained that I was in the Army for ten years, and I wanted him to have the wristbands. I was going to go on about giving one to David DeJesus but he seemed kind of taken back from the whole thing, and quickly thanked me as he was stepping away to go to he dugout. I thought it would be a better experience then that. I was sort of disappointed at first…but he probably receives so much stuff from fans. I left it at that.
So I pretty much spent the entire game standing in the new area at Safeco Field called “The ‘Pen”. And let me tell you. If you havent gone there yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Well, actually. I take that back. Friday and Saturday games the ‘Pen is full of drunks. So its really not my scene. But Sundays game was calm, quiet and lots of older couples were in there. So it was pretty mellow. I ate here.
Remember how I said I was going to eat at a new venue every Sunday game and blog about it? Im telling you. If youve ever had good pizza you havent had great pizza until you eat a slice of heaven here. I had two slices of pepperoni and a small soda. It ran me about $14 and some change but so worth it. Its very messy so make sure you get lots of napkins. They are located on the left and right side of the venue. The awesome part about it is that this pizza didnt give me any heartburn.
Before I settled in the ‘Pen area I made sure to get on the board with at least one baseball today. I bet you cant guess who I got it from? I got it from Mark Ellis of course. My first baseball that Mark Ellis ever threw me happened at Busch Stadium on June 18th 2010. My second baseball from Mark Ellis happened a game later at Busch Stadium. And if youve been following this years blog entries youll know that Mark Ellis tossed me a baseball on Friday. So Mark Ellis is now tied with Todd Helton and Jonny Gomes for most baseballs tossed up by players. So todays baseball that he tossed me would give him the lead with four! I anticipate that he will continue to climb the ladder of most baseballs tossed to me by any player because Oakland comes to town two more times this year.
Unfortunatly, no home run balls were hit into the ‘Pen. I thought I would have dibs on anything hit into there too. So I was kind of disappointed. And I figured Id get a baseball from Brad Ziegler at the end of the game as well. But he threw one to some girl. I also didnt keep my Athletics hat on either while I was down there. So that probably made him think twice of who I was. I knew he remembered me though. So when I got home after the game I made sure I Tweeted him a thank you Tweet for accepting my wristbands. And sure he enough! He Tweeted back!
Game; April 24th 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $20.00 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $6.25 this season.
Game two of the four game set between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners. Thursday night the Mariners barely hung onto a vitcory with a 1-0 win. That was with Felix Hernandez on the mound. Tonights match up would be between Tyson Ross and Michael Pineda. Pineda seems like a strong starter for the Mariners so I expected a huge crowd tonight. But really, it was about average. So I wasnt too concerned. I figured batting practice would be a little heavy as far as competition but it really wasnt too bad.
Once inside I searched around for easter eggs but none were found. The Mariners jogged off the field about as soon as I got inside too. And the Athletics were somewhat late to start BP. So I quickly switched hats and ran over to the other side. Like I said. Not a whole lot of competition.
That was the crowd for about the next thirty minutes. Unfortunatly, niether the Mariners OR the Athletics managed to park any baseballs in any of the seats in the entire stadium. I was kind of surprised that the Athletics didnt hit more home runs during BP. They have Matsui, Pennington, Kouzmanoff, Willingham, and Crisp. All of those players have plenty of power. I guess they were working more on the mechanics of their swing than anything else. Coco Crisp put a few deep but nothing further than the warning track. He did slice one into the seats that took a ridiculous bounce off the stairs and pegged a would-be baseball chaser right in the face. I think it hit him in between the eyes. In the picture below you can see him sitting by the security guard filling out his personal information.
The next turn of events was so awesome. I moved down to the front row of the seats and really all I was waiting for was an overthrow from Bobby Cramer who was playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff. When they got done throwing the baseball back and forth I called out to Kevin to throw the ball to me. He was kind of standing there watching the infielders taking some fungos from Mike Gallego so I thought why not? He turned towards me and tossed the baseball to me. I made a clean catch and I quickly thanked him. Kevin started flapping his glove at me like he wanted me to throw the baseball back to him. I thought for a moment that he wanted to give me a different baseball or something. So I lobbed the baseball back to him. Then he pointed at me with his glove. So I got ready and he hurled the baseball back to me. Wow! Playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff?! I totally felt like I was 12 years old again playing catch with my ol` man. It was really cool! Some of the fans around me turned green with envy and started making remarks like; ” Wow, this dude is playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff.” And then I had an older couple behind me saying I better catch the ball everytime. I held back a smile. I wanted to play it Johnny Cool.
Kevin then zig-zagged the baseball back and forth in his hand at me which meant he wanted to throw some knuckleballs. I havent ever caught a knuckleball before and from what some catchers in the Major Leagues have said about catching them, well, theyve claimed its sometimes very difficult to catch them. He started throwing and if you have ever caught a knuckleball before, yes. They do dance around and flutter just like a butterfly. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me at first. My throws were a little off the mark partly because I was nervous and partly because I had my hoodie on with my backpack still on my back. But I think I threw some pretty sharp curveballs to him. After about five or six minutes of playing catch, he pointed at me with his index finger after he threw the baseball back to indicate that the ball was now mine and we were done playing catch. I thanked him again and I just watched him walk to the infield. Awesome.
I wandered around the stadium to the other side to watch the Athletics finish up their portion of batting practice.
Usually Mike Gallego stands on this side to hit fungos to the infielders. But he wasnt over here today for some reason. When the Athletics jogged off the field I quickly switched hats back to my Mariners and patiently waited for Adam Kennedy, Chone Figgins, and Luis Rodriguez to come out to stretch and toss the ball around. Chone Figgins has this routine he does. Let me break it down for you.
Assuming the start time is 7:10. ( Which it normally is except Saturday games. Saturday games are seemingly trending to 6:10 start times. )
6:30pm- Opposing teams batting practice ends.
6:35-6:40pm- Chone Figgins and Luis Rodriguez come out of the dugout heading towards the first base foul line.
6:40pm- Hoards of Mariner fans flood the front row seeking autographs from Figgins and Rodriguez.
6:40-6:45pm- Figgins and Rodriguez play a quick game of catch to loosen up.
6:45pm- Figgins motions to the autograph seeking fans an “In a minute” finger sign. ( No, he doesnt flip them off. )
6:50pm- Adam Kennedy comes running out of the dugout as Figgins is stretching. Rodriguez jogs back to the dugout.
6:50pm-6:55pm- Figgins starts signing autographs.
6:55pm- Adam Kennedy starts signing autographs and then quickly runs off the field with baseball inside glove. ( Good time to ask for it. )
6:55pm- Figgins runs off the field after Kennedy and tosses baseball into the crowd ( Figgins is very selective of who he tosses the ball to. )
Immediatly after Figgins tosses the baseball into the crowd I switched hats and darted over to the Athletics side of the stadium. Mark Ellis, Chad Pennington, and Daric Barton would soon emerge from their dugout to play a friendly game of catch right out in front of it. If you stand in just the right spot ( Like I did ) and as soon as they are done playing catch you can almost always count on Mark Ellis to toss the baseball to you. ( Which he did ) Ellis isnt selective or bias like Figgins is with who gets the baseball. Its more of a first come first serve basis. Which I like. So here is the picture breakdown.
Rodriguez and Figgins playing catch…
Then Luis Rodriguez comes over to sign some autographs…
Security moves in to protect Rodriguez from aggressive autograph collectors, and dangerous small children…
Adam Kennedy comes out of the dugout to start his stretch routine…
I forgot to mention that the Mariner Moose sometimes comes down this way too. So if you like socializing with mascots…
After the Mariner Moose runs by thats when all the action unfolds. Rodriguez is the first to run off the field, quickly followed by Kennedy, and then Figgins. So if you play it right you can probably come away with two baseballs down here. After that I took off towards the Athletics side where I switched hats and waited on Mark Ellis.
Here is Mark Ellis playing catch. He only throws anywhere from 5-7 throws and then he quickly returns to the dugout. So unless youre like, right there ( Like me ) you wont be able to get his attention. And security isnt that strict at Safeco like people say. You just have to avoid them and dont stand by them or anything. And if they ask if you have a ticket to be down in the area I just tell them Im taking pictures and Ill be gone before the game starts. Heres a fun fact; Mark Ellis is now tied for leading toss ups by players with Jonny Gomes and Todd Helton with three. Here is my full list.
The game was pretty awesome. Pineda put in some work and held the Athletics from scoring any runs. So did the Mariners bullpen. And Brandon League even collected his fifth save of the season. Thats quite impressive.
Game; April 22nd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $8.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $5.25 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.
Another glorious day at the ballpark! Busch Stadium always has something interesting going on here. Yesterday ( if youve been following along ) I was able to snag a baseball out of the garden using my glove on a string trick. Those who are ballhawking pros knows that, that trick came from Zack Hample. So I want to give credit where credit is due. I dont want to steal another mans trick and claim all the glory. So there you have it.
Today wasnt as exciting as yesterday though. It was really hot outside and I kind of just wanted to chill out. I did find some fans that had McGwire and Canseco jerseys at the stadium though. That kind of brings back memories of the 80’s and 90’s. The Bash Brothers.
As laid back as things were today I really didnt do a whole lot. I kind of chilled out in the bleachers and then I spent a lot of my time in the concourse trying to stay cool. You laugh. Im serious. As batting practice came to a close I casually strolled into the lower third base seating area like I had done this a hundred and one times. It was nothing to me anymore. I waited for the National Anthem to end and then I fixed my A’s hat back on my head. I straffed some rows and got into position. Mark Ellis again was playing his usual pre-game warm up game of catch with another player I couldnt regonize. It looked like Dallas Braden though. But I wasnt for sure. Usually pitchers dont warm up like that. But whatever.
I wasnt sure if Mark Ellis had remembered yesterday but it was still worth a shot. I made sure security wasnt going to rain on my parade and I raised my glove as Mark Ellis was finishing up. He saw me and arched a beautiful toss my way and I nabbed it. It was a lot of fun catching those baseballs.
After the catch I placed the baseball in my backpack and I headed towards my seat out in the bleachers. I watched the entire game just relaxing. It kind of felt good to just chill out and enjoy the game instead of racing around the stadium like a madman trying to catch baseballs. Dont get me wrong. Thats why I loved coming to the games but today I just wanted to rest.
Matt Holliday again put a bomb into the seats and I really started pondering if I should start sitting out there for a Holliday home run ball. Chances are if I start sitting out there he will either quit hitting home runs all together or he will start hitting them into the right field seats. Anyway. The Cardinals wont he game 4-3 after Jason Motte having to come in to rescue Ryan Franklin.
All in all I had a pretty decent time.
Game; June 19th 2010 Oakland Atheltics Vs St Louis Cardinals
Game Balls; One
This was going to be an exciting game. When was the last time I saw the Oakland Athletics play some good ol` fashion baseball? Its been a very long time. I think the last time I saw the Athletics was when I was a youngster watching Mariner games in the Seattle Kingdome.
Of course when I got inside the stadium Tony La Russa was in the outfield shagging baseballs. I offered him to throw me one and he simply told me that the batters would knock one my way. I even pleaded with money. But good ol` Tony was stubborn in his ways and refused to toss me one. So I had to wait on grounders. My typical day down the third base line turned into me running up into the bleachers in Left Field because a lot of the Athletics players were throwing baseballs at the wall to see how they would carom. Most baseballs that were thrown into the wall simply died and just dropped onto the warning track. Other players wanted to see how well the baseballs richoceted off the signs above the flower garden over the left field wall. Not very.
As the players continued to throw baseballs against the walls one was thrown against the sign. CLANG!! And the ball just dropped right into the flower garden. Fans reached, and strained to reach the ball. And even some baseball players tried to reach over and get it. They even used baseball bats to try and swat it back onto the field. As I wandered over there I started to get my glove ready to lower it down to snag the ball. I tied the shoestring onto my glove and pulled the rubber band over it as well. I inserted the Sharpie pen, and then looked around to see if security was enroute. This was my chance. I excused myself through the fans.
“Here. Let me try.” I started to gently lower the glove over the railing and I dropped it right onto the ball. I knew I had it.
” Wow!” A man exclaimed next to me as he watched.
” Youre going to me on Tv!” He said.
I reeled up the glove and pulled the baseball out. I was off to a good start. As I was walking away another ball landed in the garden and some of the fans looked to me as if ” Hey, can you get the ball?”
I sarted walking over and I noticed that security was on their way down to get the baseball. I only had maybe a few seconds to get this one. As I was putting my glove together for another attempt the security guard looked to me and shook his head. Busted. I decided against going for it even though I probably had plenty of time to get it.
As batting practice game to a close I routinely walked over to the vistors side of the house and patiently waited for the National Anthem to begin and end. As it did the Athletics began their quick warmup tosses, and stretches. I was in line with Mark Ellis as he played catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff. It was too easy. I quickly had my second baseball of the night.
Matt Holliday quickly put the Cardinals on the board with a first inning bomb into the left field seats. The Cardinals pretty much cruised to a 6-4 victory. The umpires were being stingy for some reason or maybe it was all the kids in the front rows that got the baseballs.
Game; June 18th 2010 Oakland Athletics vs St Louis Cardinals
Game Balls; two