Okay so I seriously wasnt going to come to Busch Stadium today. It was raining all night, it was cold, and the weather was supposed to be bad all day. But when I checked Stubhub for tickets, I couldnt pass up these seats. I would be sitting right down where the umpires left the field, but 10 rows up all for a low, low price of $20 dollars. Someone was desperate to dump these seats. Well, Ill bite. Ill spend five miserable hours at Busch Stadium in the wet, and cold. All for the love of the sport. I knew batting practice wasnt going to take place. It was a 12:40pm game. It was raining on the way to the game. I was really putting my streak on the line. But I didnt care. Dan Uggla had made such an impact on my life last night at the game, and I was just so amped up when I got up this morning I had to do something. I had to go see the Marlins play again. Theyre a really great group of guys. Plus if Stan Musial can stand outside in this weather, I knew I would be okay.
I got into the stadium first. There were maybe ten people waiting in line. When I got inside I saw this, and I knew I had my first baseball.
The Marlin that is stretching out, well thats Josh Johnson. On September 7th 2008, Josh Johnson threw me my second baseball at Busch Stadium. With a crowd of 38,898. So youre saying to yourself; ” Well, thats cool. Now hes about to throw you your 48th?” No, Josh Johnson didnt hook me up with any baseballs. In fact, he took a couple laps around the track, grabbed his water bottle, signed a few autographs, and ran into the clubhouse. But the next turn of events are even better.
Check out this picture
See that black bag? Well, my friends, thats full to the brim with Major League Baseballs. I was the only person standing quietly behind the players waiting for my opportunity to get a ball. Meanwhile up in Big Mac Land, some obnoxious Cardinals fan was yelling down to the players to get a baseball. In the picture above thats Renyel Pinto on the far left, Coach St. Claire out in the distance with Dan Meyer. I dont know who the guy closest to me is. Okay so soon Brian Sanches came out. That same annoying fan in Big Mac Land kept calling down for a ball. The Marlins did their best to ignore him, and I dont blame them. So the player closest to me in the picture put on the catchers glove that was by the black bag. He got down in catcher position, and started taking pitches. Interesting enough I got in line behind them to catch any overthrows. My game plan was this; if I caught an overthrow I would catch it, and offer it back. That way the players acknowledge me as a fan that isnt greedy, or rude. If an overthrow got passed me or didnt happen, I would ask nicely for a ball, and make comments that they shouldnt throw a baseball to an unruley fan when they have a nice Marlins fan waiting quietly for a ball.
The ball came screaming in, bounced into the grass, and up into the stands. I was right there to snag it. Haha! I caught my first overthrow! I smiled, pulled the ball out of my glove, and held it up.
” Dan, do you guys need this back?” I shouted to them.
” Yeah. Just for a second, and we will hook you up, man. Thanks!” Dan Meyer called back.
I tossed the ball back onto the field, and nodded. I knew baseball players were good on their word when they said theyd hook a fan up. Well, most of them. I watched some more, and was smiling the whole time. Finally Dan Meyer got done, and Brian Sanches took position, and started throwing. Dan walked over, and started digging for a baseball. He pulled out a used, scuffed up, dirty baseball. Just the kind I like! He nodded to me, tossed me the ball, and thanked me for giving it back to them so they could warm up. You see pitchers are really kind of weird people. Dan Meyer was using a baseball that he was comfortable with. He didnt want to switch baseballs in mid-warmup because its all about mechanics, and being comfortable. If you watch baseball a lot, youll see pitchers tossing the umpire the ball, and asking for another one. Every ball is different.
It wasnt moments later that Brian Sanches was throwing me a baseball. I caught it, and thanked him. But I knew that he knew I had already gotten one. So before all the complaints came showering down on me from all the 15 fans behind me I held the ball up, and pointed to Brian to get his attention. He looked over at me, and noticed that I was the guy that already got a ball two seconds ago. I couldve kept it, I guess. But It was such a small crowd, and I didnt want to be a jerk about things. Especially to these Marlins. They were very nice. Brian Sanches asked if I already got a ball, and I nodded explaining that Dan Meyer had just tossed me one. I felt apart of the team though for about five seconds. I threw the ball back, and he tossed it to another deserving Marlins fan. The Marlins made their way off the field, and so I darted over to the Cardinals side. Knowing that the Cardinals are so stingy with their baseballs I had to try anyway. No dice.
Once I got to the Cardinals side I saw two more Marlins walking out of the dugout, and heading over to the left field corner. I did an about face, and beat feet back back over there. Changing hats back to Marlin colors I took position right where I was.
“Number 38! Throw us a ball!” Yelled some girls in the left field bleachers.
” Can I have a baseball?” Said a little girl with cotton candy in her mouth.
Oh boy. Kids, and girls. My worst enemies. But it was in my favor. Im the one that had the Marlins hat on. Im the one that knew these players first, and last names. ( Believe me it helps ), and I was the one that had the glove. Thats Burke Badenhop in the background ready to fire away. I was hoping for another overthrow. But then I was distracted by a gentleman to my right. He asked me where I was born. I told him Seattle. He asked me how I grew to like the Marlins so much. I told him Im a fan of baseball, and I like to favor the underdogs. He chuckled. I think he had an idea of what I was up to. But I didnt care. I wanted to get to my 50th baseball this game. It was important. Burke quickly finished up, and before I could call out to him the ball was enroute to me. Smack! Right into my glove. It kind of reminded me of how hard Alexei Ramirez threw me a ball. I thanked him, and moved on.
So I hung around the dugout for a little while. I conversed with the autographing group. They were all waiting on Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla to sign. I showed off my picture of Dan Uggla, and I. I am so proud of that picture. Here. Ill post it again.
Alright. Sorry. Moving on. Ramirez got done warming up, and decided a youngster behind me should get the baseball. So I let it sail passed me. I could have snagged it, and ran. But I didnt want to do things like that. So I waited for another opportunity. Bryan Petersen was all done warming up as well, and he came strolling towards the dugout. I had moved down to the baseline after being rejected by Hanley, and I asked Bryan if he would toss me the ball. He pulled the ball out of his glove, looked at it, and gave it a toss my way. Not much competition. I asked, and recieved. 50th!!! After that Dan Uggla got stretched out, and came over to sign some autographs. I said hi to him, and “knucked” him after he was done. Him, and Cody Ross warmed up, and Ross ended up with the ball. If Uggla ended up with it he would have thrown it to me. But Ross threw it to the same little kid that Ramirez did. I couldnt help but to laugh. I nearly got outhawked by a kid in diapers!
The Marlins took a thrashing. They were beat 4-2. I waited patiently for the umpires to leave, and they gave all the baseballs to kids. He looked right at me, but didnt toss me one. So I scurried to the dugout to wait on the bullpen guys. Nothing there either. So I left with three. But I got my 50th! Bryan Petersen! You hooked me up, man! Thanks!
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Florida Marlins
Game Balls: Four
I’d like to start this blog out by saying some great things about Dan Uggla. Not only did he sign autographs for about 15 people outside of the stadium on his way in, but he also signed for about 15-20 minutes inside the stadium prior to game time. So Id like to pay some serious respect to Dan Uggla. He gives a lot. He also signed about 15 autographs AFTER the game as well. I usually get to the stadium pretty early so I witnessed a lot of the Florida Marlins baseball players walking to the stadium.
Renyel Pinto walking towards the stadium. If you want Marlins autographs, and youre ever in St. Louis they stay at the Hilton across the street from Busch Stadium. On sunny days most of them walk in. Renyel, and I exchanged “knucks” and parted ways.
It was a great day for baseball. I, of course, was the first one inside the stadium. The security guards opened the gates late, and the ticket checker guy with his electronic ticket scanner wasnt even turned on when the gates were opened. So that delayed me about 2 minutes getting down to my spot. But it didnt matter. The crowd was small. Once I got down to the third base line I started to scout for easter eggs. I looked up to see a young man dressed like he just came out of the trash can hollering at the Cardinals players that were on the field. He was yelling that he wanted a baseball. I watched for a moment as I took my time walking down to the railing, and then I continued my search for easter eggs. Moments later I heard one of the Cardinals say…
” Hey, you want a ball? Here you go buddy!” And then I heard the ever so familiar sound of a baseball clanging around against the seats. I looked over to the noise, and I caught a glimpse of the white gem bouncing around in the seats. What was going on? Was that meant for me? I looked around for a second, and nobody was really persuing the ball. I figured there were going to be a mob running the ball down. So I casually walked down the row, trotted up the stairs, walked up through the aisle looking for the ball. Once I found it, I looked back to the field, and then around me again. Wow. Too easy.
So batting practice was kind of a loss. Nothing really came my way. I got out hawked by a guy that came 30 minutes into it, and then really everything else was out of reach. As I was standing there I waved to Chris Coghlan a few times, and he finally acknowledged me. He held up a ball, and I waved for him to throw it to me. One hopper, and into my glove. Nice. I thanked him, and continued to play the third base side. Nothing was really going into the outfield anyway. Chris Coghlan was the National Leagues Rookie of the year last year. So it was a real honor to get a baseball from him. The rest of batting practice was pretty boring. I had two baseballs.
Dan Uggla came off the field after stretching, and started to sign autographs. So I capitalized on that since I only had two baseballs.
There were two Marlins fans behind me, and they were saying how much Uggla was their hero, and saying he was Superman in disguise. Hence the smirk on Dan’s face. He truly is a great guy. He talked with the fans, laughed, and joked, and made it really special for a lot of baseball fans. Really a remarkable guy. So I asked for a picture with Dan, and heres how it turned out.
The picture is really great. The fan that I asked captured the St. Louis Arch in the background, and Dan even put his hand on my shoulder. The guy is really short but he has massive hands, and arms. I mean, hes like an animal. It was great. He shook hands with fans, and I got my patented “knucks” from him, and moved on. Thanks Dan Uggla! You made my day!
So I made my way to my seat after the players were all warmed up, and were off the field. I sat on the Cardinals side, first base side about 20 rows up. Foul ball territory. But not one ball came remotely close to me. I only got up once to chase one, but it landed on the railing, and took a wicked bounce way to my right. No chance. The Marlins started beating up on the Cardinals about halfway through the game. Then it started to drizzle a little bit so I knew that people would start clearing out to go home. I needed that to happen, because I was going to get passed security, and get down behind home plate. I wasnt happy with two baseballs. It was time to break out, and try to get some work done.
By the eight inning, the Marlins were up 4-0. In the previous inning, Uggla, and Maybin hit home runs. So a lot of Cards fans were out the door. I made my move. I walked the concourse looking for a security guard that was just kind of hanging out. You see…at Busch stadium, all the sections behind home plate have red fences guarding them so you have to go through in a single file line. That way no one can get passed security if they dont have a ticket to be in those sections. Its really criminal stuff. But I caught a security guard that was engaged in a conversation with about five fans. They were all hundled around her like they were trying to help me out. A squeeze play! I made a break for it. I scurried in passed her, and headed on down the stairs, broke to my right, and sat in the first seat of the row. Feewww!!
” Hello.” Said a voice. I was busted. Damn!
” Hey…no I dont have tickets for this row. Sorry, Ill move.” I was defeated. I knew who it was. No one says “hello” in such a sarcastic voice than security.
” You can stay, just move back a row.” She said, and walked away.
So I did. I moved back a row. But now I was in the middle of the row. This was unacceptable. If anyone else showed up I wouldnt be able to hurry out of the row, and down to the dugouts. It wasnt minutes later, and a group of five college kids sat down right next to me. Damn!! I had to move. Security had already told me once not to sit here, but I had to risk it. I moved one row ahead. The row I had orginally been kicked out of.
” Listen..I already told you once. You cant sit in this row.” The voice said in minutes.
” Sorry! I wasnt trying to disrespect your authority. I just need a quick exit to get down to the dugouts to get a ball after the game.” I said.
” Well, you cant sit in this row. And you wont be getting a ball either.” She explained.
” Why not?” I chuckled.
” Because that rarely happens. Players dont give out baseballs after the game.” She said.
” Ill move. Im sorry to have troubled you.” I said. I gathered my things, and down the stairs I went. I sat two rows back from where the umpires leave the field. I couldnt believe that security guard! She really doubted my baseball getting skills. Unreal!
The game ended. Finally! I let the row clear out in front of me, and I moved down to the front. I called to the umpire, and two more people showed up. He nodded to me, reached into his side pouch, and delivered a clean toss right to me. I squeezed down on it, and tipped my hat to him. Gah! I still had my Cardinals hat on! If I were to get anything from the Marlins, Id have to ditch this Cards hat, and fast!
I started to make my way to the Marlins dugout, switching hats on the fly. I didnt care who saw me at this point. Make your comments, who cares. I was on a mission. The bullpen players were enroute to the dugout, and as soon as they got into ear shot, I started making hand gestures for them to throw me a baseball, and calling to them. Chris Volstad, and Leo Nunez both pulled their hands out of their jackets, and showed me they had no baseballs. Dang. Three it was. Oh well. I had a memorable picture taken with Dan Uggla, I sat in great seats, and I came away with three baseballs. It was a battle but I did it.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Florida Marlins May 19th 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Three