The World Series is happening right now. And yes I’m very excited for both teams. Since I won’t be attending any World Series games due to lack of free schedule this fall my baseball season as concluded. But on a rather high note, I must say. I started this baseball season with the intent to attend nearly one hundred baseball games. Well, that didn’t happen. I attended roughly 53 games. But I did travel to a few new baseball stadiums like, PETCO PARK, AT&T Park, The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Angels Stadium and Coors Field. I never did make it to Sun Life Stadium or Tropicana Field like I had hoped this year. Sadly, Sun Life Stadium won’t be used as a baseball stadium next year. But the Marlins are getting a new stadium called Miami Ballpark and it should be epic.
I did, however, turn my baseball hobby into a charitable lifestyle. Last year I attended 37 games and snagged 87 baseballs. Mainly at Busch Stadium. And I did travel to Kauffman Stadium a bunch of times, I visited U.S Cellular in Chicago a couple of times, I even traveled to Cincinnati to see Great American Ballpark. And let’s not forget my trip to Texas where I watched game six of the ALCS. That was so awesome that I’d like to return to the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at least one more time. This year was one of the best seasons I’ve ever had. Mainly because I met so many awesome people who I’ll probably be friends for life with now. And, like I mentioned before, I started a charity project.
If you’re new to my Facebook page or new to reading my Tweets on Twitter then this blog entry that you’re reading now will do you some good. It will explain in detail how my charity works, how you can help and what I’m exactly doing traveling to different stadiums in the U.S like a mad man. And I’ll even hit on some future projects I’d like to start.
First and foremost this season was awesome. I attended 53 games and snagged a “career high” of 135 baseballs. You can check out my baseball snagging statistics here if you want. (I haven’t entered in the last game I attended yet) Anyway. That website that you just looked at breaks down my individual stats along with many other Ballhawks that chase baseballs during the season. As you can see I have an important streak going for myself. I’ve attended 98 games consecutively where I’ve snagged at least one baseball. To me that’s pretty impressive. Well, sorta. It’s actually very easy to catch a baseball at a Major League baseball game. Just ask Zack Hample. This dude is amazing and a very nice guy. He came to Safeco Field on his quest to attend all 30 Major League stadiums and snag at least 1,000 baseballs during the season.
So with all that information you’ve just took in I sat down one morning and asked myself how I could make snagging baseballs at stadiums more exciting and at the same time how could it help the community of Seattle. Since my home stadium is now Safeco Field I thought to myself, what am I most passionate about. Dogs and baseball. (Sorry, ladies.) And since I am so addicted to baseball and have an undying love for dogs…Snagging Baseballs for Puppies was born! I contacted the Seattle Humane Society via email and presented my idea. immediately they loved the idea, I was emailed some paperwork, and then the season started! The problem was that in order for this all to work I had to rely on neighbors, friends and family to pledge an amount per baseball that I’d snag at games. Here’s how it works;
I go to games and snag as many baseballs as I can. (my game high is like, eight) I blog about every game so people can read how I snagged them and picture evidence is also provided in the blog entry, and you as the readers email me and tell me how much you want to pledge per baseball that I catch. Now some Ballhawks have certain rules that they follow on catching baseballs. Me personally? If I catch it and it’s an Official Major League baseball AT an Official Major League Stadium, it counts. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter of it bounces off some kids face into my glove or if it bounces between two fans and lands in my cup of soda…it counts. I used to count only the baseballs that I went home with. But what about the ones I give away to kids? Or military veterans? Those count. I even caught a baseball OUTSIDE Safeco Field this season! Peter Bourjos hit a BP home run into the party deck and it bounced all the way to the gates where I was standing. That happened I think on 6-13-2011.
When you make a pledge it’s also very simple. Unless you’re rich you want to keep your pledges in the cent range. Like, .10 cents a ball or .25 cents a ball. Because at the end of the season when I rack up my total and I’ve snagged 135 baseballs and if you’ve pledged $3.00 a ball..well…that’s $405.00 big ones. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. I’m just saying try to keep your pledges realistic. Because who knows. I could go to a game and snag twenty baseballs and if you’ve pledged a dollar amount that you won’t be able to cover at the end of the season that looks pretty bad on your part. And if you don’t want to make a pledge you can just make a flat rate donation of $10.00. That’s the minimum that Crowdrise.com will allow. I have nothing to do with that. And yes I think that’s rather high. But I also understand that you can pay with a debit/credit card and I think the banks charge them a certain amount per transaction. I don’t know how it all works.
I think I’ve pretty much covered everything. So in conclusion I’d like to thank all that have pledged. Dorothey, Jennifer, Zack, Bronson, Kathy and Robert, thank you all so much for your pledges. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to those animals that the money went to, to try to help enrich their lives that much more.
And for those that just dropped a donation that is very much appreciated too. I couldn’t thank you all enough. Carla, Charlie, Ryan, #GirlsCorner, and a couple anonymous donations. I hope I got everyone. Together we raised over $200 dollars! And that is just amazing! This is the email I received from the people at the Seattle Humane Society.
Great job on your fundraising efforts! Thank you for your support of the animals at Seattle Humane! We’d be honored to be part of your project again next year. I will let you know when we receive the donations.
So there you have it, people. I’ll be at it again next year and hopefully, as a group, we will be able to raise more than $200 dollars again! That’s the goal, anyway!
Another glorious lunch at the Tin Fish to start things off right before I headed to PETCO Park for the second time this weekend. I simply have fallen in love with this ballpark. Do you want to know what else is so fascinating about PETCO Park? Not only is the ballpark so uniquely designed, but it is so fan friendly it will blow your mind. Do you know what they do on Sundays? They have whats called, “Breakfast at the Park”. They do this every Sunday home game. The game starts at usual time, and you can eat breakfast on the field WITH the players. You can also play catch with friends, and family members and sometimes with the players! The Padres come out onto the field while you eat breakfast and do their thing while you eat! No, there is no live batting practice going on but that is still very cool! I don’t know the specifics about how much it costs or what tickets you have to buy to get to do this but it sounds like so much fun! I wanted to call the airport at that very moment when I found out about this and push my flight back. Then I wanted to push my flight back another three days when I found out the Kansas City Royals were coming to town. Why couldn’t I be born in San Diego?
When I arrived at the ballpark I had about three hours to kill. What is also awesome about PETCO Park is they have what’s called “Park in the Park”. They open the outside gates to the stadium hours before game time to let fans roam around the grassy hill I took a picture of yesterday and to let the kids play in the mini baseball field. About two hours before game time they kick everyone out though. So you have to get there kind of early to experience this. Today I was on a mission. I wanted to find the PETA brick. Remember at the end of yesterdays blog entry I mentioned a PETCO Park fun fact? If you missed it, click here. Anyway. PETA, of course, hates PETCO. They mainly accuse them of selling puppies from puppy mills. How true is any of that is? Well, how should I know? I’m not a supporter of puppy mills and I certainly don’t think any stadium should be named “PETCO” but hey, it is what it is. And a silly name for a baseball stadium isn’t going to stop me from visiting. Just look at the Oakland Coliseum. They renamed that to Overstock.com Coliseum. How silly is that? But I’m still going back. The bottom line is; if you got some serious cash you can put whatever name you want on any type of architecture structure.
My mission was to find the PETA brick. I searched all the bricks in the palm grove and didn’t find it. After about two hours of looking a security guard came up to me and asked if I had found the brick I was looking for. I told him I was searching for the PETA brick and he laughed. It seemed no one knew where this brick was but everyone knows about it. I was also informed that there were more bricks over by the Tony Gwynn statue. So I went searching over there. Nothing. By then it was time for everyone to get out. Boo! I guess I’ll never find that brick.
Here are a few pictures I took while I was inside during the Park at the Park experience.
As I waited outside the stadium I noticed a large gathering across the street. And anytime a cab rolled up to the curb the gathering pretty much mobbed whoever was inside. Just from my experience of going to as many games as I have I knew that these guys mobbing the cabs were autograph hounds. Most of the cabs pulled up to the curb and then drove off. The baseball players inside the cab probably told the drivers to find an alternative way into the stadium. The only thing I don’t like about these guys is they sometimes disregard their own safety to get an autograph. Like running out into traffic or in between stopped vehicles at red lights, stop signs, etc. It can get pretty obsessive and people can get hurt. Plus, there were a bunch of little kids running around in the street chasing down autographs as well. I did get a video of Jason Heyward getting out of the cab though. Check it out.
As you can see he didn’t stop to sign any autographs. No one was being overly pushy. But I guess it’s a little overwhelming to get out of a taxi cab and have a mob of people wanting things from you.
Once the first set of gates were opened to allow fans to get their fancy new Padres beach towel, I waited in front of these giant stairs to gain access to the third base area.
As I was standing there a family of five walked right passed me and started to head up those stairs. Security, of course, stopped them and explained that everyone had to wait until 3:30pm before anyone was allowed into the rest of the stadium. As I watched the whole thing another security guard started to explain to me that I wasn’t allowed up those stairs. I quickly interjected and explained I wasn’t going to go up those stairs. But he kept on nagging me about it. So I just let him say his little piece about how fans aren’t allowed into the rest of the stadium until 3:30pm. But we are allowed to roam the Park at the Park area. It was pure torture to hear him drone on about this and when he was finished I explained that I wasn’t going up the stairs and that I knew the rules of the ballpark. Ugh! It made me a little angry because I wasn’t even attempting to go anywhere. I knew what the blue barricades were for. But I understood that the security guards interact with a lot of dopey baseball fans that don’t quite know what’s going on.
Once 3:30pm came around, the security guards were of course late opening up the barricade in front of me. So I just went underneath it and ran up the stairs as fast as I could. Once I reached the third base area I immediately started my search for any loose baseballs and then promptly took my spot behind the security guard that was guarding that precious wide open space that no one was allowed to stand in.
Just then a baseball was hit in my direction. It landed on the warning track and took a sharp bounce over my head. I took a couple of steps back and leaped backwards to try to knock it down, and it ended up snow-coning on the tip of my glove. I still didn’t quite have a handle on it as I came back down to planet earth but I had enough of it that when I landed the ball dropped down into a seat. I felt the presence of another human being on my hip pocket so I stuck out an elbow to try to box out whoever was attempting to steal my baseball away from me. The ball didn’t quite make it onto the concrete but instead it stayed wedged in the folded up seat. I saw the man’s hand make an attempt to swipe at it if it were to go all the way through the seat but it didn’t and I easily picked it out of the folded up seat. That’s all I needed was one to feel accomplished for the day. PETCO Park was hard enough to snag baseballs because you can’t really run from the outfield to the base lines. So I pretty much just sat back and smiled at myself for at least snagging one per game at this beautiful ballpark. This game also marks 50 consecutive baseballs snagged at stadiums that are not considered my home stadium. So that made me feel good. If you don’t quite understand what I mean, it basically means any baseball stadium I travel to outside of Safeco Field I’ve snagged a baseball at.
I ran back and forth between the 3rd base area and the left field bleachers every time I thought I had a good glove trick opportunity. But like always the baseball that I was going after always seemed to get scooped up by a player or a grounds crew right before I got there. It was the story of my life. But I got in some great cardio and got yelled at half of a dozen times for running. I’m surprised I didn’t get kicked out. Eventually the security guards just threw their hands up at me and shook their heads as I ran by. But hey. It was my last game here and I didn’t know when I’d be back. So I gave it my all.
While I was standing out in left field Matt Latos was snagging some baseballs and fans repeatedly called to him. He did his best to ignore it until fans started to get angry with him. I’m not sure what was being said by the fan but Latos kept telling the dude to “relax” and to not get so “worked up over it.” Whatever that meant. I guess because Latos wasn’t throwing every single baseball he caught into the crowd? That would be my guess. He even said he was all for it; meaning he would love to supply every fan with a dozen baseballs, but it just wasn’t practical because they need the baseballs to practice with. And despite the Padres being worth a gazillion dollars, it does cost the team money to toss baseballs into the stands. I think I have something like, 180 baseballs. So if each baseball cost $15 dollars then I have $2,700 dollars worth of baseballs. That’s insane! If you want to play with numbers just go to www.mygameballs.com and calculate all the baseballs ever caught by everyone on the lifetime leaders board and times those numbers by $15.00 bucks a ball.
That’s the size of the crowd in the left field seats. Once the Atlanta Braves came out and it got closer to the end of BP the stands filled up a little bit more. The Braves were a little more giving when it came to toss ups but they didn’t target any fan. They just sorta tossed the baseballs to people over their backs or just lobbed high arching tosses to give everyone a chance at it.
The Braves absolutely killed the Padres. 10-1 was the final score. Dan Uggla busted out the big stick and jacked a three-run bomb to left centerfield. It was a pretty good game until the Braves ran away with it. A lot of fans got up and left when the Padres started to get buried. It really reminded me of Seattle. I couldn’t help to feel a little homesick. I missed my Mariners and I missed Safeco Field. So I too, packed up and left. Now I begin my short journey back to Seattle, Washington. It was a lot of fun, San Diego. Thank you.
Game; June 25th 2011 Atlanta Braves vs. San Diego Padres
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $98.85 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $34.10 this
I woke up this morning at 5:00am, had my bags already packed, loaded up my car and headed towards Sea-Tac international airport. My plane departed at 8:10am, and I was headed towards San Diego. Of course, I had a quick hour lay over in San Jose and I almost got to give up my seat to receieve $100 dollars and a travel voucher for a later flight. But I ended up not having to. Awesome.
When I arrived in San Diego I grabbed my bags and jumped into a “super shuttle”. While I was enroute to my hotel I overheard other passengers talking about some sort of convention downtown. At that very moment I knew I should have made reservations somewhere. When I heard there were going to be around 20,000 people attending this convention downtown I knew I really should have made reservations to a hotel somewhere. I normally don’t but I learned a very valuable lesson today. No matter what, always make reservations. When I arrived at my hotel I wanted to stay at they told me they didn’t have any rooms. No problem. It was only 1:30pm. I still had roughly four hours to get to the stadium. I asked the desk clerk where the nearest hotel was from here, and she told me there was one about seven blocks up the road. Downtown San Diego is easy to navigate so I hoofed it those seven blocks and arrived at the next hotel. No vacancy. Now I was worried. I wasn’t worried I wouldn’t make it to the game on time. Now I was worried that I flew all the way to San Diego California and would have to sleep on the streets somewhere. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But the desk clerk made some phone calls, called me a cab and got me a room at the EZ-8 motel just outside of San Diego. I had to take a smoking room, but at $61 dollars a night, plus military discount, I didn’t have a problem taking that. The only downside is that I would have to take a cab to PETCO Park. I had the cab driver wait on me while I changed into my baseball clothes. I grabbed my bag and $40 dollars later I arrived at PETCO Park!
What an awkwardly built stadium. Seriously. This place has more nooks and crannies than any stadium I’ve ever seen. And its not round on the outside! Its like, octagon-ish. It really is unique. I couldn’t wait to see the inside of it. But first I had to get something to eat. I talked to a nearby security guard about the best places to eat downtown and she told me to eat at the Tin Fish. So I seeked out the Tin Fish.
Here’s what I had to eat:
It’s just the generic fish and chips but it was so delicious. It was so fresh…and so filling. I couldn’t believe that this place had better food than Ivar’s fish and chips in Seattle.
If you’re ever in the San Diego area make sure you hit this place up if you’re into seafood. You won’t be sorry.
After I ate I headed back to the stadium and got my ticket for the game. It was pretty cheap and there were plenty of options to where I could sit. I decided to sit in the outfield. It looked pretty promising for a home run ball and I liked that idea. Here’s the area to purchase tickets:
After I got my ticket I wandered around looking for the left field entrance. I figured that would be the fastest way into the stadium. I talked to the nearby security guard that I had talked to earlier that referred me to the Tin Fish and she explained to me that the left field gates open up at 4:30pm. But fans are only limited to a certain area. It’s kind of like Coors Field and Safeco Field but from where I stood I couldn’t see the field. I had to wait here until 5:00pm:
The only thing between me and baseball paradise was that stupid little blue barricade. As I was standing there some other much older fan walked up and started giving the security guard a hard time about having to wait until 5:00pm to get to enter the rest of the stadium. I understood his point because I share the same frustrations but harassing the security guard about it is rather pointless. Just about every stadium I’ve been to has silly rules. Here’s another one. When 5:00pm came around I ran up the stairs and I immediatly ended up in the left field seats. There were already some fans lingering around, (obviously another part of the stadium opened up seconds sooner) so any loose baseballs laying around were probably already scooped up. I didn’t bother to really look for any. I focused on finding a good spot to snag baseballs. I called out to a few Padre players but I was ignored. I played the left field seats for about fifteen minutes and decided to play the third base foul area. Here comes another silly rule I mentioned before.
To get to the third base side I had to exit the left field section the way I came and then take a giant set of stairs up and around the stadium. It’s really a pain. Anyway. Here’s a picture of the area I stood in:
See the guy wearing the white shirt sitting down? Notice that he’s sitting? Also note the huge wide open space behind him? The security guards won’t let anyone stand in that open area. And if you want to be in the front row you have to sit down. I’m really not sure why those rules are in place. Another silly rule they have is if you want to be in the front row along the base lines during batting practice you have to stay seated. If a baseball comes your way of course you may react and try to catch it. But then you must exit out of that open space. I have the feeling that the people making those rules are an older group and think that fans can’t handle themselves in those areas. Or maybe people have gotten hurt too many times down there. In either case, I’ve been in plenty of stadiums, played those areas and I’m still alive to tell about it. In fact while I was standing there a foul ball came my way. I tried to play it on the bounce but the two security guards, (one pictured in the above photo) were in my way. The ball bounced on the dirt on the field, and then bounced into the stands. It took a few hops but eventually ended up back on the field by bouncing off a seat or two. The next baseball landed at my feet and I easily scooped it up. That was the only baseball I got during batting practice. I tried to use my glove trick on mutliple baseballs but like I said. Running from 3rd base to left field bleachers took a lot of time. By the time I got to the left field seats to use my glove trick the baseballs were scooped up by players or ground crew. And by the time I got back over to the third base side the same thing happened. I did get to use my glove trick to help some kid get his baseball back that he dropped onto the field.
I also made sure to tell Tim Hudson I thought his home run was awesome. He thanked me.
After batting practice I set out to explore PETCO Park. It’s such an awesome stadium and there is literally tons of other things to do besides watch an actual baseball game there. Like you can take your kids to a smaller version of PETCO Park and play a game of baseball:
The kids seemed to be having a lot of fun and I talked to a few parents that have come to PETCO Park before and they said they couldn’t ever get their kids away from this area. They simply love to come to PETCO Park just for this! Can you believe that? The good thing about this area is, it only cost $5 dollars to get in. You don’t actually get a ticket to watch the game in an assigned seat inside the stadium, but you can sit here and see the game just fine:
Its a huge grassy hill that families can lay all over and watch the game. How awesome is that? And if you get there earlier enough you can listen to live music!
They sang a few Michael Jackson tunes. And see that big screen behind them? You can come to PETCO Park, pay $5 bucks, sit on the grassy hill with your family or your friends and watch San Diego Padres road games! What other stadium offers that? None that I can think of! Aside from the huge difficulty of snagging baseballs I absolutely love this stadium. It’s one of my favorites so far.
Here is a picture of a seating area for groups only. It’s such an awesome place to sit because its right behind the Padres bullpen. How cool is this?
As far as the game was concerned the Padres blew out the Braves, 11-2. Dan Uggla lost his bat into the crowd in the 2nd inning, (no one was hurt) and there were two home runs during the game. Neither of them were remotely close to where I was sitting. I had right field seats and this was my view:
They were really good seats and I had the jump on an home run ball that came my way. I was seated right on the end right by the stairs. I had access to my right and to my left. Totally awesome. But no one hit anything towards me. There was one guy that dressed up like the Padres mascot that was dancing, and chanting…he had a whole routine down plus he had some followers. In the photo above the guy in the Gonzales jersey was part of his entourage. Here’s a picture of him:
He was very entertaining to watch. So I snapped a photo with him. Check it out:
The guy was absolutely hilarious. You have to understand something about PETCO Park. And this might help explain why the stadium was so awkwardly constructed. PETCO Park was built in a part of town that was really poor and run down. They put the stadium here to help promote the city and to make the area into more of a positive approach for families. So there are a few building that they tried to save and like, drop the stadium inbetween some of them like a puzzle piece. One building that just about everyone is familiar with is this one:
They turned this vacant building into suites for fans. Beyond that is a building that distributed candy. I forget the name of it but the history of the stadium is very interesting. They tried to salvage as many old buildings as they could. The candy building is currently vacant but the security guard told me they have plans to make it into something useful. Here are some pictures I took of a more before and after.
I haven’t really decided if I’m going to go back for another game or enjoy San Diego. There is so much to do in this town, and I’d hate to miss out on the fun stuff. Like the beach. Anyway. Aside from some of the quirky rules, the long walks between the base lines and the outfield sections, I think this stadium is pretty awesome. I like the fact that when you walk up on it you see this huge sign that says PETCO Park. And all the palm trees around it. It doesn’t seem like its in a big city but outside alone in it’s own world.
Here’s a fun PETCO Park fact: During the construction of the stadium, the Padres offered fans the chance to purchase bricks outside of the concourse and to dedicate them.
Soon after this, PETA attempted to purchase a brick to protest Petco’s treatment of animals (PETA and Petco have a long-standing dispute over this matter), but the first two attempts were denied. Undeterred, PETA succeeded on its third attempt by purchasing a brick which read “Break Open Your Cold Ones Toast The Padres Enjoy This Champion Organization.” When one reads the first letter of each word, it forms an acrostic which reads “BOYCOTT PETCO.” The Padres decided to leave the brick there, saying not enough people walking by would notice the secret meaning. I have yet to find this brick. I’ve asked a few PETCO Park employees but they don’t know anything about it. Figures.
Game; June 24th 2011 Atlanta Braves vs. San Diego Padres
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $98.00 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.75 this