Tonight at Safeco Field was “Go Green Train Night”. I heard from the grapevine that these trains were a huge hit and very sought after. I knew I’d have to arrive at the stadium with my game face on and most importantly, I would have to be early. I even changed up my game plan a little and entered the stadium via rightfield. Here is what the giveaway looks like in case you have no idea what “Train Night” was all about.
Like I said. They’re absolutely loved and people came out to get one. Since there are actually eleven others this would make twelve. But I’m not sure if that completes the set. Probably not.
As soon as I entered the stadium security told us to walk. So everything went kind of in slow motion. Since I like to abide by the rules and not give security any reason to target me, I “walked”. Which cost me like, four baseballs. It was kind of frustrating at first but I still had an entire hour and a half left. I ran all the way to the other side of the stadium and posted up at my usual spot. Well, not my usual spot. But a spot that’s been working for me. I’d play the outfield more but it seems there are an equal amount of overthrows from players as there are home run balls hit into the stands. I’m just playing the odds or at least what’s been working.
The Tampa Bay Rays started to filter out onto the field and I figured if I didn’t get something hit to me I could always count on Jeremy Hellickson to toss me one. The last time I got a toss up from Hellickson was on my birthday at Kauffman Stadium last year. It took him two tries but eventually he got it to me. During BP Hellickson tossed up quite a few baseballs. He’s a great guy (not just for that). So anyway. As the Rays were coming out onto the field (I’m not sure who hit it) a sharply hit line drive was hit right at me. It took a few bounces on the grass, and another off the dirt and I was able to lean over the short padded wall and scoop it up. I could hear a couple players yelling “heads up!” like they always do and I also heard Jeremy Hellickson kind of give out a surprised “Whoa” when I scooped the ball up. The baseball hit me square in the palm of my glove. Not quite in the pocket and it literally jarred my shoulder back a little bit. I was a little surprised at 1.) I got my glove down in time and 2.) to have come up with the ball. Usually those sharply hit grounders would eat up a Major Leaguer let alone a guy like me reaching over the wall for it. There was no applauding like there was yesterday when I snagged that liner. But it was still fun. If you want you can read about the memorable snag here.
After that nothing else came my way. I tracked a few baseballs that were hit over my head into the seats but they were quickly scooped up my eager fans. I did get a few pictures of the Tampa Bay Rays as they came out onto the field. Take a look.
And then this guy walked out onto the field. He is my hero forever. And you will know why in a minute.
That’s Bobby Ramos. He is probably the most friendliest coach I’ve ever met. Not to go off on a tangent but one time at Busch Stadium I asked Coach Price, the pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds, for a baseball while he was setting up the bullpen after BP. There were a few baseballs lying around from batting practice and when I asked he abruptly told me no. It was a very unpleasant experience. But Bobby Ramos? He gives high fives, fist pumps, and handshakes to anyone and everyone that asks. He is very friendly and sociable. So if you’re ever at a Rays game and he walks by feel free to engage in some friendly back and forth. I told him he had a nice hat on and then pointed to my own Rays hat. He is also very loyal to Rays fans. The rest of the team was a little more reserved today and I think that had a lot to do with the loss yesterday.
Before the game started Mike McCreedy from Pearl Jam played the National Anthem. It was very good and earlier when I was outside waiting to come inside the stadium he was doing a sound check. It sounded just like Slash when he did the National Anthem last year at Dodger Stadium. Of course I couldn’t get close enough to take some quality pictures because security does what they can to keep me out of the sections I don’t have a ticket for. So I had to get creative. Here’s what you get.
I spent nearly the entire game down in the bullpen area. I stood behind the Rays bullpen because I figured if I was going to get a baseball from someone it would have to be from the Rays. Right? Well, not only was I hoping to get another baseball but I was also hoping I’d get a home run baseball. I think it was during the fifth inning when Miguel Olivo hit a deep drive that landed right into the Rays bullpen. I was hoping that the baseball would bounce off the facade that hung over the players on the bullpen bench but no such luck. If that would have happened, (which I’ve seen many times during BP) the baseball would have shot back into the bullpen area where all the fans stood like a bullet and it would have been every man for himself. But the ball did not do any of that. It landed on the grass and died. No bounce. No nothing. It just stopped. And the one man I was praying wouldn’t pick it up….picked it up. Mr. Juan Cruz. He’s a relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays and it seems he has a very negative attiude.
Now I dont want to pass any judgement but I was at a Royals game one time during the summer when the Tampa Bay Rays where playing at Kauffman Stadium, Juan had graciously tossed a baseball up to some fans. Well, an adult ended up with the baseball and I think Juan was trying to get it to a kid. The kid he was trying to throw it to already had six baseballs. The guy that caught the baseball was trying to communicate that to Juan but Juan wasn’t having any of it. He insisted that the guy hand the baseball over to the kid. He was a real jerk about it and that was my lasting memory of Juan Cruz. Fast forward to now. Cruz holding the ball and taunting the Seattle fans with it. It was pretty funny and I knew Juan wasn’t going to throw it to anyone. In fact he just tossed it down the stairs that led out to the outfield from the bullpen. It made my stomach turn that the home run ball was that close yet so far away. Finally the police officer that patrolled the bullpen picked the ball off the stairs and handed it to a kid.
Around the eight inning Bobby Ramos was coming back into the bullpen after playing catch with Sam Fuld. He placed his glove on the stair railing and walked towards the fans with the two baseballs. I knew he was going to throw them to us but to who? And where? I had to be ready. He tossed one to my way right which was way out of reach. And then he tossed one high and to my left. I reached way out and snagged it on my tippy toes. It was awesome. Bobby Ramos hooking up the fans during the game. Quick game note; he also hooked up my buddy Josh that goes to every game I go to. If you want, you can check out his www.mygameballs.com stats here. He has a really awesome picture of him with Zach Britton. You know, the guy I tweeted with a few games ago? Yeah, that guy. Anyway. So This guy turns to Josh and apparently asked if he could have the baseball that I caught. The guy inquired if Josh and I were friends and Josh told him yes. The guy was pretty persistant and made a big stink about Josh and I ganging up on the bullpen to snag two baseballs and we should show the love. Josh just pointed out that he should bring a glove next time.
Game; June 3rd 2011 Tampa BayRays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $62.25 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $26.25 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.