Miguel Olivo has always been one of my favorite players. I first saw him playing baseball in Kansas City. I’ve heard plenty of stories about how durable he is. Like the time he took a back swing from Albert Pujols and played out the rest of the game with a concussion. Another time, Olivo passed a kidney stone and returned to finish the game. He’s also known for a lot of pass balls. That’s one stat I do not care about because he’s very reliable.
For the last couple of seasons, I’ve been going to a lot of Mariner games. I’ve even been to a few Oakland games where the Mariners were playing. Each game I attended, I made it a point to wave at Olivo and he generally waved back except when I went to Japan to watch the M’s and the A’s play. I think he was just too busy.
The above picture is myself and Olivo at the 2012 Seattle Mariners Fanfest where I got to meet him, ask him a question during the Dugout Dialogue and I even got a signed bat from him. And of course, the picture. The future of Olivo is unsure at this moment. Since he is no longer with the Mariners, I’m not sure where he will end up. The Mets have perked interest in him, but nothing has panned out as of yet. I hope a team within flying distance signs him. I think he’d make a great addition to any team and be a positive contributor.
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I totally didn’t realize it but that last baseball I snagged from Kevin Millwood last Sunday was my 250th lifetime baseball! I mean, I guess it’s not all that exciting considering there are people out there that have snagged over 1,000 baseballs.
Tonight’s game at Safeco Field was against the Cleveland Indians who I know probably three players on that team. Ubaldo Jimenez, Shin Soo-Choo, Shelley Duncan and Chris Perez. Okay, so four. I knew asking any Cleveland player for a baseball would be out of the question because like I said; I had no knowledge of who was on the active roster. It would be BP home runs, foul balls and glove tricking whatever I could.
When I ran into the stadium, one of the Mariner fans started yelling at Felix Hernandez to toss a baseball his way. Once he did, and the fan bobbled the ball, I was all over it with my glove trick. Since the baseball landed down in the center field gap, I had plenty of time to get it and security really didn’t harass me about it:
You can see Hernandez throwing a baseball into the infield in the above picture. I’ve been wanting a baseball from the King for a while now and since I glove tricked that baseball out of the gap, it doesn’t actually count as a baseball from Felix. Sucks, I know. But that’s how the game goes.
Miguel Olivo, who I got a baseball from last year on April 1st at the Oakland Coliseum, was very generous when it came to requests for baseballs from fans. Here’s Joanna and Carla’s gems they caught from Olivo:
Joanna, the one closest in the picture, actually made an awesome grab for the baseball. Another fan behind her (not pictured) was doing most of the leg work to get Olivo to toss a baseball up. When he (Olivo) finally did, Joanna pretty much robbed the guy with a bare handed grab! Quite impressive!
I waited down in the ‘Pen for another 10-15 minutes and then I wandered off to line up at the stairs that led to the lower seating bowl. When a BP home run landed in the visitors bullpen, I slowly started to get my glove trick ready again, I waited for the stairs to open up at 5:10pm, and while the security guards were busy ushering people around, I ran over to the bullpen and glove tricked my second baseball on the night:
I wandered up to the 3rd base side of the stadium and this was the crowd during BP within the first 15-20 minutes:
Batting practice was actually pretty boring. There weren’t a whole lot of fans, not really any foul balls or very many BP home run balls. I couldn’t recognize any Cleveland players, like I mentioned before, so it made it pretty uneventful. About the only excitement that happened was how I snagged my third and fourth baseball of the evening.
When I walked up to the left field bleachers, I saw a baseball down behind the scoreboard. That’s probably the easiest place to glove trick a baseball out of, too. The security guards actually encourage it, sort of. Well, I haven’t had any problems with them while glove tricking baseballs out from behind the scoreboard. They only get mad (not all of them) when people glove trick balls from the bullpens and the sod farm behind the batters eye. I thought this would be an easy grab and I’d be on my way. As I was stretching the rubber band over my glove, it broke on me! Gah!
Luckily, I had a spare rubber band. But it wasn’t as good as the one I had been previously using. When I’d capture the baseball and start to reel it up, the ball would slip out and drop back down behind the scoreboard. Reel it up, drop back down. Reel it up, drop back down. I didn’t think I’d ever get the baseball, but eventually I did:
What a frustrating 2 minutes, I swear! After that, I headed back over to the ‘Pen just as the Indians were clearing the field. While I was standing there talking to our Bullpen Mom, a baseball landed at my feet! I had no idea where it came from, at first, but I snagged it anyway. Turns out, one of the bullpen cops was trying to throw a young lady a baseball and she bobbled it. Since I’ve received baseballs from bullpen cops before, I decided to count it. Hell, I snagged it, didn’t I? Does it really matter who it came from? I categorize bullpen cops the same way as I categorize grounds keepers, security guards and other employees around the stadiums. And I’ve caught baseballs from many of those types of people before.
I handed the baseball to the girl who bobbled it and snapped a quick photo:
Soon after, the Mariner relief pitchers made their way to the bullpen and I was able to get Tom Wilhelmsen’s autograph on my ticket stub:
I watched the majority of the game from the ‘Pen with a quick stop into the Flying Tortoise Cantina for some more nachos.
John Jaso got the Mariners on the board with a 2-run blast in the 3rd inning. In the fourth, Brendan Ryan drew a bases loaded walk and the very next batter, Jaso, was plunked in the leg that scored another run for the Mariners. By that time, it was 5-1 Mariners and in the sixth inning, Indians catcher, Carlos Santana sent a 3-run moon shot into the right field seats which ended up to be a six run 5th inning for the Indians.
By the ninth inning, the Indians pulled a head 9-8 and Chris Perez got the job to slam the door on the M’s. Seattle loaded up the bases in the bottom of the ninth and Perez got John Jaso to pop up to end the game. What a heart breaker.
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: Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 12,065
Baseballs snagged: four (glove-tricked three, found one)
Total baseballs snagged this season: 19
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $35.91
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
Whenever fan fest rolls around in January I get super-stoked about baseball. In nearly a month catchers and pitchers will be reporting to their respective spring training headquarters. The best part about baseball is it starts in the spring time. The grass is starting to get that freshly cut smell, the weather is warming up and best of all summer is right around the corner.
Just to give you a little background on myself and my fan fest experiences, well, I’ve been to many. I’ve attended a Kansas City Royals fan fest where I was able to get Kevin Sietzers autograph and Brett Saberhagen as well. The thing about the Royals fan fest is it’s not really set up to be fan friendly. It’s all about the autographs. When you walk in you have to immediately pick a line to stand in for four hours and hope and pray that one of your favorite players will be signing in the line you have chosen. It’s all about luck. I’ve also attended the Cincinnati Reds fan fest. That was a little different but again, it’s all about what line you pick and how fast you get there. Same with the St. Louis Cardinals winter warmup event. Pick and line. Stand there.
Well, my friends. This year I attended the Seattle Mariners Fan Fest of 2012. If you’ve ever dreamt about attending a fan fest, this is the fan fest you need to attend. I’m serious. Not only do you get to shag fly balls in the outfield like this…
…but you also get to face Felix Hernandez in the visitors batting cage underneath the stadium:
Yes, I’ve had better at-bats, but when you’re facing the King it’s kind of hard to get on base (even in the batting cages).
The best part about the Mariners Fan Fest was the interaction with the players. Down by the Mariners dugout the Mariners put together a little event called the “Dugout Dialogue”. Certain players that came to the fan fest get brought out onto the stage to take questions from Rick Rizzs, Mike Blowers and Dave Valle. And then they open it up to the fans to ask them questions. A lot of the questions ranged from “whats your favorite food” to “who’s your favorite player growing up”. But what do you expect from cute little nine year old baseball fans. And that’s the beauty of it. After the event ends fans are encouraged to get autographs from their favorite players. Myself, I was able to get Miguel Olivo on a baseball bat, Jason Vargas signed my 200th baseball he tossed me last season and I got Dan Wilson and Mike Blowers on my ticket stubs. I was able to chat with Mike Blowers a little bit and talk with him about how I watched him play in the Kingdome back in the 90’s with my father and that I’d be taking a trip out to see the Mariners and Athletics in Japan this March. It was a lot of fun.
Here’s a couple of pictures I was able to get with a few favorites…
…the voice of the Mariners, Rick Rizzs…
…and the man in charge of all the tasty food at Safeco Field, Chef Jeremy.
As you can see so far, I had an amazing time. In fact, a lot of the players walked freely around the stadium (with security of course) talking with fans, helping with pitching mechanics in the bullpen and free hitting tips and advice. Casper Wells was one of those guys that was just walking around. A few of my friends at Safeco are die-hard Casper fans and they were able to get his attention. He walked over to them and they talked for a while and then good ‘ol Casper Wells delivers some hot coco to these lovely ladies!
Its one thing for a professional baseball player to walk over and sign a bunch of autographs and stuff but to actually interact like this with the fans? It’s truly remarkable!
That’s what fan fests is all about. Not just standing in line waiting for an autograph you may or may not get. That’s just my opinion though. We all have our special ways we like to connect with players.
During fan fest on Saturday the Stache Mob was more or less born. These ladies pictured below…
…drew funny little mustaches on their fingers for Brendan Ryan when he came up on stage for his portion of the dugout dialogue. Before things got started, they asked Brendan if he’d pose with them for a picture. He happily obliged them and said he’d get it done after the dialogue event. We all waiting in anticipation and unfortunately, the dialogue kind of went over in the time allotted and Ryan was carted off the stage by the Mariner staff. But. The awesome thing about Brendan Ryan is that he yelled to the group of ladies he’d get the picture done on Sunday . It made everyone feel pretty special that he was going to make it happen. And when Sunday rolled around? Brendan Ryan did not forget:
You can read all about how this unfolded in more detail in my other blog that I’ve created called; A View From the Bullpen.
Here are a few pictures from the Seattle Mariners dugout dialogue sessions…
There was so much to do and so much to see. Mariners Fan Fest would’ve easily lasted a week and probably still had people coming at the end. It was amazing to be able to walk on the field and play catch in the outfield with friends. It was awesome to connect with the players and ask questions. You know, to understand where they’re coming from and their stand point on issues and the seasons to come. It was fantastic! Even though I love to travel and experience different stadiums and events held by Major League Baseball, I think I’m sold on coming back to the Mariners Fan fest for years to come!
I arrived at Safeco Field sitting on 198 lifetime baseballs. Well, not literally sitting on them but I have about 198 baseballs at home. Give or take a few from giving some away every once in a while. This is what I initially saw when I ran out to the party deck after receiving a very cool and stylish Seattle Mariners fleece blanket:
That’s Jason Vargas and Felix Hernandez. Vargas is on the right. I called out to both of them quite a few times and I finally got Jason Vargas to throw a baseball towards me. unfortunately, he either lost his grip on the baseball or just under/over estimated the distance and this was the result:
Can you see the baseball? It’s in the corner on the left side by the garage door lookin` thing. The ball actually bounced on the railing before it landed over there. The good news is Jason Vargas saw the whole thing go down, and he flapped his glove at me to let me know he would try again. The more good news is that the security guard on the other side of the fence also saw the whole thing and came over to get some other baseballs that were on the grass behind the centerfield wall.
I was very shocked when the security guard hooked up myself and another adult instead of every kid in the stadium. I was also shocked when five seconds later Jason Vargas whistled at me and tossed me another one. The ball in the picture above is actually my 100th baseball on the season, and the one Jason Vargas tossed me is my 200th lifetime baseball. In the Ballhawking world that’s quite a milestone. Eventually I’d like to make it to 1,000 baseballs. Since I already snagged two baseballs in under five minutes I figured I’d go chase down some loose baseballs in the seats. I headed over to the staircase and waited twenty minutes before the rest of the stadium opened up. All these people…
…were waiting in line to go up these stairs…
…and I, of course, was leading the way. Once the they allowed us entry it was a race to the top. And when I got to the top and scurried down some rows I found this:
How awesome is that? My 201st lifetime baseball. And my third of the day. And since I was already up here behind the manual scoreboard in left field I decided to play the corner. It’s always a pretty good spot mostly for toss-ups but the occasional home run ball also lands here.
Brandon League and Jeff Gray were both talking to a few WhiteSox players and Brandon League actually had a baseball in his glove but he was way too far away to call for it. I would’ve ran down there and asked Brandon for it but I had a better plan. Dan Cortes. He was also down there talking to some WhiteSox players and he also had a baseball in his glove. And the best part about it was him and I weren’t a million miles away like Brandon and I were. I knew I only had one shot at this and I had to time it just right.
As soon as Dan started to walk away I called to him. Of course he didn’t hear me right away so I called to him again. When he turned around I flapped my glove at me and he rifled a laser right to me. The ball hit off the tip of my glove, bounced once on the railing, bounced over my head, bounced twice on the seat arm rest behind me, some dude swiped at it, then it trickled down in-between the seat back and the actual seat into my glove waiting underneath. Feeeww! Talk about a close call! Or close calls! How many lucky bounces was that? Like, seven? Holy crap! I just stood there frozen as the ball bounced all over the place. I did have my glove trick ready to go, as always, so if the ball landed down into the manual scoreboard it wasn’t like I wouldn’t have been able to get it back. I was just worried that another fan would’ve grabbed it on one of those weird bounces. But no one ever got it and it never really went anywhere. I couldn’t believe it.
Do you want to read about another crazy bouncing baseball? You might as well continue reading. You’ve read this far. Okay, so after capturing my fourth ball of the day I went down to the third base side to maybe catch a grounder. This was my view:
The first baseball that came my way ended up here…
…and my competition was very little. Anything that can within my wing span would be gobbled up for sure. Ready for another crazy bouncing baseball story? The next baseball that came near me hit the fence that you can see in the above photo and then went up in the air, landed on the baseball that you can see in the above photo and ended up bouncing right to me. Can you believe THAT? The ball ricocheted off the fence, landed on the baseball sitting on the grass and ended up bouncing right to me!
Since batting practice at this point was drawing to a close I wanted to give away at least one baseball to the cutest kid I could find. I ran back down to the ‘Pen area and searched for the first cute kid I saw. unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of the cuteness but you could imagine how cute this little kid is. And the way he said “thank you” was even more cute.
The kid in the “Ichiro” jersey is the one I have the ball to. Lots of cuteness. Oh, and here is a picture of my 200th baseball.
Amazing. Simply amazing. I wandered around the stadium for a little while longer until all the players were off the field. I got this final picture of Juan Pierre getting his picture taken with a cute baby. See! More cuteness!
Safeco Field was full of cute babies today.
As for the Mariners game? Not so cute. The Mariners were beaten by a score of 4-2. Olivo went deep for the Mariners but Brent Lillibridge hit a monster two-run dinger to seal the deal for a WhiteSox win.
Game; August 26th 2011 Chicago WhiteSox vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $165.25 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $40.90 this
More good news on my charity projects. I finally heard back from the Red Cross. Theyre going to work with me to help promote my charity project for the relief in Japan. How cool is that? So I was especially excited to come out to Safeco Field after the Mariners got home from their four day road trip to Kansas City. They were nearly swept too. But our rookie sensation, Michael Pineda, saved the day.
When I got to the stadium the weather was fair. There was plenty of sun but it was supposed to get very cold. So again I would be freezing my butt off during the game. But I was determined to snag a home run ball this year. Ill eventually learn to dress warmer. It really isnt that bad but its tough to take a nine whole innings of bitter coldness. When they close the roof it seems to warm up a tad. But not by much.
It wasnt until around 4:30pm when my competition showed up. Three older gentlemen. One was a veteran Ballhawk ( I suppose ) and the other two seemed like tag alongs. Of course I had to hear the “Safeco basics” from them and I just played stupid. I thought that was the best way to handle things. As soon as the gates opened I slinked in and waited at the turnstile for the music to play. When the horn blew I took long strides towards section 115. Let me back up for a second. While I was standing in line against the gates a security guard came over and asked me if I collected baseballs. I informed him I did sometimes…( Not sure what he wanted so I just kept it simple ) and he told me there were about three baseballs about ten rows up in section 115. There were still 30 minutes before the gates opened and I truely believed that by the time I got there the baseballs would be gone.
I arrived at section 115 and ran down towards the tenth row. The other guys right on my heels. No three baseballs in row ten. Or anywhere for that matter. I guess the security guards had tossed them all back onto the field. Blah. I wandered around for a few moments, and even called out to Michael Pineda to toss me a baseball but he ended up tossing it to a woman in the front row with some kind of media credentials. I scouted around for a decent place to set up shop and then I noticed three baseballs on the base line. As the Mariners were starting to jog off the field I noticed that Tom Wilhemsen was talking to family members or close friends, relatives, whatever, over in foul territory. I anticipated that he would run right passed those three baseballs. So I ran over and lined myself up with them and waited patiently. As Wilhemsen ran towards me I pointed to the baseballs and asked if he would toss a few up. He did just that. I thanked him and told him I appreciated it. He nodded to me and tossed another lucky fan a ball.
The Mariners were totally off the field and no sign of the Detroit Tigers. Were they not taking batting practice today? The batting practice equipment was still up. Surely they would.
I stopped to take this picture as I continued around the stadium.
Finally the Tigers started to come out of the dugout. Still no one in the cage though. I guess Jim Leyland had a meeting with the team that went over scheduled time. That or the Tigers were busy in the clubhouse watching a movie or something.
Once I got down to the base line I lined up behind the Tigers pitchers for any overthrows that may occur. Unfortunatly, nothing came my way. The Tigers were sound during their warmups. Which is expected. I have high respects for the Detroit Tigers. Two of my favorite players are on this team. Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez.
Still. No. Batting. Practice. Where were the position players? Napping? C`mon already!
As the Tigers pitching staff ended their warmup the position players FINALLY started to come out and hit. I moved up into the left field bleacher seats ( Which let me tell you. Limited space.) It wasnt long and the rows started to fill up. For me to catch a baseball one would have to be hit exactly to me. The chances of that happening? Probably one out of 100. Those seem like decent odds but when you figure in the competition factor ( People around me trying to catch a baseball too ) the odds steadily increase as more people fill the rows. I did have a couple hit out to the area I was standing in. I think Brandon Inge was the one batting but he sailed one deep and I ran to my left to try and make a last minute snag but it was way over my head. The guy behind me got it.
I took a couple pictures of Magglio Ordonez while I was up there. Batting practice for the Tigers didnt last much longer than about 30 minutes. For some reason they cut it short by 15 minutes.
Here is another picture of Magglio warming up.
When I got down to the dugout Victor Martinez was being interviews pre-game. And of course all the autographers were after him. Heres a picture of Victor being interviewed.
Before the game started I tried to get the warmup baseball from one of the Tigers position players. I just casually walked down the aisle acting like I was going to take pictures of the Tigers. It was about 7:00pm. Five minutes until first pitch. The security guards really didnt hassle with me too much. The guard that was working that aisle kind of took a look at me and then waved me off as some Tigers fan trying to get pictures. He just assumed I wouldnt stay down there the entire game. I guess I could have. The first row was pretty much empty the entire game by the dugout. Anyway. I took a few pictures but what I really wanted was the baseball Brandon Inge and Brennan Boesch were tossing around. About three minutes before first pitch, Inge and Boesch both started to head towards the dugout. They continued to flip the baseball back and forth to each other and finally Inge tossed it behind his back and Boesch missed it. They both continued towards the dugout where they left the personal trainer to deal with the baseball. He tossed it to a family of Tiger fans.
Here is a picture of Magglio Ordonez right before first pitch. On the far left is the personal trainer that ended up with the baseball.
I made my way out to the right field bleachers where I sat for the majority of the game. In the first inning Ryan Raburn popped a towering foul ball that no one ended up catching because it hit off the rafters of the roof. Can you believe that? If you ever get to Safeco Field or already have and remember how far up the roof rafters are…well that is just amazing. Ryan Raburn is the first baseball player to have done that at Safeco Field.
The text under Ryan Raburns name says ” Foul ball in the first inning was the first to ever hit the Safeco Field roof. “
Here is a picture of the view from my seat. The outfield was pretty cold but when they finally closed the roof it started to warm up a bit. But not by much. I think Ive already said that.
Another notable highlight of the game was that Mike McCready was there. How cool is that? Its pretty awesome if youre a Seattle Native. If you dont know who Mike McCready is I suggest you open up your musical avenues. Mike McCready is this guy.
Still having a hard time figuring out who Mike McCready is? Maybe you already know…
Heres another picture.
Give up? Mike McCready is the lead guitarist for the Seattle formed band Pearl Jam.
Anyway. The Mariners played like absolute crap. Well, not their defense. Well, sorta. Miguel Olivo allowed two pass balls that counted for two of the eight runs that Detroit scored. Not to mention a base clearing triple by Jhonny Peralta and before that the Tigers managed to get the bases loaded and the Mariners walked a run in. By the seventh inning nearly the entire stadium was clearing out. Justin Smoak did manage to get one run back by parking one in the Mariners bullpen. Milton Bradley also put one in the seats but that was in the 3rd inning.
One of my Ballhawk aquaintances, John Schulstad, was at the game as well. He was able to snag a Milton Bradley foul ball in the first inning. You can read his blog here, and you can also read about his Milton Bradley foul ball snag here. It was actually quite an eventful night at the Safe. After the final out was recorded I chased down to the umpire tunnel and called out to Larry Vanover. He immediatly hooked me up with my 2nd and final ball of the night.
If youre curious about my charity, which by the way, I think is totally awesome and worth it, you can read all about it here. I encourage you to just take a peek if you havent done so already. I have a few other projects going on as well. Im not only snagging baseballs for puppies for the Seattle-King Co. Humanes Society but I am also snagging baseballs for the Red Cross. That charity project is called; Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan. If you feel like pledging you can send me an email to Stock350i@yahoo.com. Id love to hear from you.
Game; April 18th 2011 Detroit Tigers vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $6.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $4.00 this season.