A lot has happened in the last few days. I’ve received a ton of questions about that Ichiro look-alike guy that I blogged about on 7-29-2011 at Safeco Field. Apparently he interfered with a fair ball down the first base line a couple of games ago, got the baseball, gave it to a fan and then got ejected for doing so. You can probably find the video of it on the Mariners website under highlights. Anyway. I don’t know the specifics of what his intentions are or why he does what he does. He’s probably just another huge Ichiro fan. In Seattle we get a lot of street shows so I just lumped him in with the rest. Also in my blog entry on 7-29-2011 at Safeco Field I mentioned that I had met Seth McClungs mother. Well, Seth McClung contacted me and informed me that was not his mother. Here’s how I assumed it was. The woman started rambling on about how she had a son in the Major leagues and that he played for the Milwaukee Brewers. Or was drafted by them and was in single A baseball. So I googled all and any former and current draftees by the Brewers and Seth McClungs’ name came up in all my search results. So naturally I just assumed. Not the case. I do apologize for that mistake.
Here is the Ichiro look-alike grabbing the fair ball hit by Dustin Ackley…
…and then finding out it was a fair ball…
…and then being ejected…
…even Ichiro Doppelgangers don’t stand a chance against Safeco security.
Today’s game started promptly at 1:05pm. For that reason alone I wasn’t going to attend the game because I’m on a mission to snag 200 lifetime baseballs. I only need like seven more. Plus I have a streak of 85 consecutive games of catching at least one baseball at a game. Since there is a possibly that BP wouldn’t happen it makes snagging baseballs that much harder. But I went anyway. When I ran into the stadium at 10:40am I saw this…
Holy. Crap. That’s Jack Wilson, by the way, pitching to his son. Look at all those baseballs! Sure I’d get at least one, right? His son was even hitting them over the centerfield wall. And when he did so I asked the security guard if he could possibly throw one up to me. His answer? “I can’t give them away.” Whatever, dude. I hate it when those security guards lie like that. I’d rather be ignored then lied to.
By then the centerfield party porch started to fill up and Jack Wilsons kid wasn’t able to hit anything remotely close to us. But he did have some good pop. But I did see this…
I also noticed that the batting cage equipment wasn’t behind the centerfield wall like it normally would be on a 1:05pm game. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve attended afternoon games with batting practice before. But it’s not a normal thing. So when I noticed that the batting cage equipment was gone I quickly lined up at the stairs to be the first one down on the third base side. But then at the last-minute I noticed all the Mariner players lining up on the first base side. They all had gloves and baseballs too. You know what that meant? Long toss! I jumped out of line and ran to the other side of the ‘Pen and lined up at the other staircase. As soon as they let us go I raced down to the first base side and got behind Josh Bard and his throwing partner. As a result I nearly caught TWO overthrows simultaneously. One of them nearly bounced over the tarp and into the seats but it ended up being scooped up by a grounds crew member. He rubbed the dirt off of it and in mid-toss to me Josh Bard stopped him and took the ball back. Bummer.
But as soon as Josh Bard was done playing catch with the baseball he started to walk away and underhanded it to me. I had to jump for it a little though.
After that I ran over to line up behind Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips.
I still really wanted a baseball from Felix and I was thinking this is as close as it’s probably going to get this season. As soon as I walked up behind them Felix lost control of his throw and the baseball sailed into the seats. I yelled “Heads up!” as loud as I could and then chased down the baseball. Of course Phillips needed the baseball back and I happily tossed it to him. He then told me to “stick around” because he was going to toss me the baseball once he and the King were done with it. Awesome! That’s what I did. I “stuck around”. Sure enough after fifteen minutes of “sticking around” Phillips tossed me the baseball. Speaking of sticking around…the ball that Felix and Phillips were playing with was so rubbed up with pine tar my fingers actually stuck to the baseball.
I waited around for more overthrows that might have occurred for maybe another ten minutes and then I walked over to the third base side of the stadium to see if I could get one of the Tampa Bay Rays players to throw one to me.
Now. Pay very close attention here. Do you see the player standing way out in center field by the “Dave” sign? That’s Dan Cortez. He just got called back up to Seattle from Triple-A Tacoma. While I was standing around waiting for some more Rays players to come out and start throwing I noticed that Dan Cortez had tried to hook up a fan with a baseball. And guess what happened? Yup! The fan bobbled it and it dropped down behind the center field wall gap. I was all over that. I ran up the stairs, sprinted around the concourse, down the stairs into the ‘Pen area and arrived at the party porch in center field. I assembled my glove for the glove trick, lowered it down, scooped up the baseball and handed it off to the nearest fan. That was number three on the day. I even welcomed Dan back to Seattle and he gave me the “rock and roll” hand signal.
When James “Big game” Shields came out to toss the baseball around I switched back to my Rays hat and wandered down to the left field corner of Safeco. Of course the game would be starting soon and I was ready to be kicked out of the section at any moment. I was surprised when it didn’t ever happen.
After James was finished playing long toss he came over and started signing autographs…
…and then he signed some more…
…and then he took a break and caught some highlights on the jumbo-tron…
…and then he signed my ticket stub…
…and then we took a picture together…
…and then the Seattle Mariners went on to win the baseball game by a score of 3-2. And they only allowed one hit!
Game; July 30th 2011 Tampa Bay Rays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $155.80 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $38.20 this
The month of July has been a slow month for baseball mainly because of the All-star game. The Mariners have been on road trips since then. They came home for a four game set against the Texas Rangers but I missed out on all four games. I was able to get some time for the Tampa Bay Rays/Mariners series so this was my first game at Safeco Field in like a month.
When I got to the stadium I ran into this guy…
…and Ichiro Suzuki look-alike. He did the whole batting stance that Ichiro does and everything. It was quite impressive. When I got to the gates I had about twenty minutes to spare and there was already a small crowd. It was Seattle Super-Sonics appreciation night at Safeco so there were a lot of Sonics fans at the gates already. I think a lot of people had the impression they’d get autographs from their favorite Sonics. I had no intentions of participating in the Sonics thing. Even though I admired Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp growing up as a kid. There was a lot of negativity still fresh in my mind about Shawn Kemp and I was a little surprised he didn’t get boo-ed when he came out during the Sonics introductions. But it was a happy time. No need for boo-ing.
When I got inside the stadium I walked down into the center field “pen” area and got Felix Hernandez attention and got him to throw me the next baseball he scooped up. Unfortunately, he threw me a knuckleball and it died as soon as it reached its apex and fell short by about three feet. I’m not sure he did it on purpose or what. He didn’t even watch to see if I caught it or not. Which I didn’t. Luckily for me a nearby security guard saw the whole thing.
In the picture above you can see Felix standing with Jason Vargas. That’s how far he threw it. A knuckleball. Can you believe that? I was slightly upset because I have been trying to get a baseball from Felix all season and this was my second opportunity. My first came in the beginning of the year when he threw one up but another fan was able to swat it away and get it. I assume I’ll have another opportunity in the next month or so.
When the security guard came walking over I started to explain to him what had happened, (keeping in mind that he saw the whole thing) I politely asked if he could toss the baseball up to me. Just as I was explaining a young Mariners fan came running up with his hands out. I knew I wouldn’t get the ball and when the security guard handed the baseball to the kid the mother apologized to me. I laughed and told her it was no big deal.
You can see the two security guards in the teal t-shirts in the center field bleachers in the above photo. The one closest to the field is the one that denied me the Felix ball. There was another baseball sitting nearby as well and I asked for that one too but he ignored me. Whatever. As soon as I turned to seek other baseball snagging opportunities, Doug Fister scooped up a baseball and lobbed it into the crowd. Of course the baseball bounced off of three different hands and landed down into the center field gap. Time for the glove trick! And my first baseball of the day! YEAA-AH! Thank you, Dougie!
Once I reeled in my first baseball of the day I wandered the bullpen “pen” area. It was unusually packed…
I always make sure to check the bullpen for any loose baseballs when I come over here to stand in line. And when I looked I found one in the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen very close to the wall and well within reach. So I started to assemble my glove for the glove trick. While I was doing so this mother/son combo was watching me and started asking questions like, “What is all that for?” and “You’re going to try to get that baseball?” It turns out that she is the mother of Seth McClung. If you don’t know who Seth McClung is, click here. Her son really wanted a baseball too. I promised him that the next baseball I got I would hook him up with it. I told her my baseball snagging stats on the year and I also gave her one of my business cards for my Charity I have. She was very impressed and told me I was a “great guy”. I thought that was very nice of her. After I snagged my second baseball on the day out of the bullpen I stood in line at the stairs for about ten minutes and then raced down to the third base area. I was beat out by some older guy that was in a hurry to scoop up all the loose baseballs. I had to make a few comments to make him stop because there were like twelve baseballs lying around and he was getting every single one of them. He ended up tossing me one in the end, and I found another. I’m all for gathering as many up as a person could possibly hold…but there were other fans coming down as well. That’s why I told him to chill out.
While I was standing around waiting for Jeremy Hellickson to get done playing catch, I noticed a young fan trying to accomplish the same thing. The difference between him and me is that I don’t stand around holding these in plain view…
…I’m pretty sure the Rays players saw that and decided to throw the baseballs into the infield. Just as I was deciding on going back to hook up the young fan I promised a baseball I heard my name being called. It turns out that the fan I promised a baseball got his very own! I thought that was pretty awesome. It seems like every time I want to give a baseball to someone they end up getting one on their own. So I quit doing that. I used to give them to adults too but after I’ve been lied to so many times I decided the only people I’m going to give baseballs out to anymore are younger fans with a glove after the eight inning. I keep saying this though.
When BP ended I walked back down to the bullpen area to wait on a baseball I saw land their earlier. And when I got there this is what I saw…
…someone from the top deck of the stadium was lowering THEIR baseball grabbing device into the bullpen to snag this puppy. I decided that if security stopped him I’d go for it. But until then I’d let him have his fun. It would have been an easy snag for me too.
And finally! After #22 attempts, (yes I counted) he got the baseball. That was some serious height to be dealing with too. I was quite impressed.
I took a walk around the stadium and found the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame. The Mariners vendor staff recently lost Rick “peanut man” Kaminksi. The Mariners had put a brand new Hall of Fame memorial in there to remember Rick. I had to pay my respects. Rick had been slinging peanuts since I was a youngster going to games in the Kingdome with my Dad. So it meant a lot to visit that memorial.
It was a very sad day for sure. I never got any peanuts from Rick but I remember the commercial of him and Alvin Davis talking about drunk drivers in 1989. That was so long ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. You will be missed, Rick.
And of course I had to see the rest of the Hall of Fame while I was there.
And Jay Buhner.
After a walk-through of the M’s Hall of Fame I decided to try to sit out in the outfield for a home run ball. Dustin Ackley seems to be swinging the bat pretty well so I wanted to set myself up to snag one of his home runs. Here is my view from where I was able to sit…
Yes, I know. I played very deep but I had a clear aisle to my left which enabled me to run down both flights of stairs to reach the front row. This seemed like a very popular place for home runs to land anyway. Justin Smoak has hit the majority of his home runs in the sections to my left and right. Here’s my clear aisle to my left…
See the dude in the Ackley jersey? I took this picture just as he came into view and he sat down in that row too. And that got the security guards attention. I knew I was busted as she started asking for tickets so I saved her the time and left on my own instead of having to be asked to leave. What a racket. I had the perfect seat for a home run ball and that dopey fan ruined it for me. I spent the remainder of the game looking for a decent chair to sit in and I finally pulled up a spot in the Flying Cantina near the bullpen and watched the game from underneath the manual scoreboard. It was a horrible view, no chance to get a baseball, and the drunks were ruining my baseball experience. I held out until about the seventh inning and then went and stood behind home plate to finish watching the game from there. Of course with the Rays scoring eight runs in the second inning and running Erik Bedard out after that, the Mariners didn’t post one run in the game.
That was the crowd around the eighth inning. And you can also see some dopey fan getting tackled by security in shallow center field.
Game; July 29th 2011 Tampa Bay Rays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $152.65 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $37.30 this
Saturday. Game start time was 1:10pm. Why? Because of a U2 concert set to kick of at Qwest Field at 7:00pm. Could you believe it? I knew this ahead of time and I decided to go to the game anyway. I knew there wasn’t going to be batting practice but the ushers told me that the Rays probably will. There was no way the Rays were going to have any batting practice. When I entered the stadium I saw this.
I told them so. But no one wants to believe me. Anyway. Whatever. I waited at the staircase until 11:10am when we were allowed to roam the rest of the stadium and I immediatly wandered down to the third base line. James Shields and some other Rays pitcher were out on the field warming up and all I needed was a simple overthrow to get on the board. And it happened. Shields threw something pretty low and away and the rookie pitcher couldn’t handle it. The ball trickled over within reach and I scooped it up. Of course I had to give it back because that was the only baseball they brought out to use. I assumed I would get the ball back after they were done but no such luck.
The above picture is before the overthrow happened. The picture below is the overthrow about to happen.
In the next series of pictures I will show you how to align yourself perfectly for an overthrow and how to catch it if it happens.
The first picture shows how one of the baseball players is in a “catchers” position. And you can also see how far away the other baseball player is when he throws. That really increases the risk of an overthrow. The player that’s catching has limited mobility because he is in a catchers position. Anything that falls short, bounces or goes far left or right will result in the ball getting by the player and rolling to the wall.
I have placed a red circle around the crouching player. In the next picture I will show you the path of the baseball which resulted in an overthrow.
The solid red line indicates the path of the baseball and since it came up short and had a lot of spin on it, it was able to squirt away from the baseball player. The dotted red line indicates the path of the baseball to me. Which I picked up, and graciously handed back to the baseball player. So if you’re determined to catch an overthrow from your favorite baseball player, (like me) you don’t want to stand directly behind the player. You want to stand a little bit off his side depending on which hand he uses to catch. So in this situation you’ll want to stand a little bit more to your left as you face the player. Understand? Sure you do. Look people. There is an art to this. It requires skill and…a sloppy game of catch from the players.
After that Adam Russell came out to throw, and he gave his baseball away to a kid in the front row. She had a cute little pink bow in her hair. And then J.P Howell came out to throw and he tossed his baseball to a group of youngsters in the front row, and then the pitching coach played catch with a young kid in the front row and of course that baseball went to that kid. I even captured the game of catch on video.
Apparently it’s okay to play catch with fans again or the Rays didn’t have any idea about the story circulating that Major League Baseball has told their players not to play catch with fans anymore due to an injury caused to a fan from a game of catch. I learned that from Zach Britton when I requested a game of catch via Twitter. If you want to read all about that you can. Just click here.
Before the game started I went and took my usual spot by the Rays bullpen. During the game I couldn’t believe how much trash talk some of the Mariner fans could dish out. And of course as the game progressed and people consumed more alcohol words seemed to flow more freely and the Seattle Police had to get involved. If you have never been to Safeco Field the bullpen area is now open to allow fans to get closer to the baseball players in the bullpens without a pesky fence inbetween them.
In the above picture, see how the fans are free to lean over into the bullpen? Well, during the game it’s a lot more crowded. This one guy in a Sonics jersey asked for a baseball throughout the entire game. He got a few players attention due to his Sonics jersey but no one threw him a ball because how obnoxious he was being. I’m sure he thought he was being cool and impressing all of his buddies. But the players probably thought different. When the eight inning came around I readied my glove because I knew Bobby Ramos was going to throw some baseballs into the crowd like he did yesterday. Since I was wearing my Tampa Bay Rays hat I knew I had a very good chance of getting one. Plus I was standing by a few Rays fans. So that increased the probability. Strength in numbers. Bobby Ramos tossed one to my right, which was out of reach, and then he tossed the other one high and to my left. I made the quick snag and that was it. The dude in the Sonics jersey threw a fit, tossed his beer cups into the bullpen, and got a few glares from the Rays pitching staff. Bobby Ramos you’re my hero.
Oh, one more thing. If you want to follow me on Twitter…
Game; June 4th 2011 Tampa BayRays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $63.55 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $26.75 this
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
After the Yankees losing out on their number one target , Cliff Lee, the Yankees are still unsure about Andy Pettitte. Pettitte has expressed multiple times that he is leaning towards retirement, and the Yankees organization should plan ahead without him. More talk surrounding the Yankees concerning Marcus Thames have coaxed them to seek other options for the outfield. One option would include signing Andruw Jones. Jones, 33, batted .230 with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs in 107 games for the White Sox last season while seeing time in all three outfield positions. Jones also has experience in the DH spot. Thames on the other hand played more DH position for the Yankees last season than the outfield.
One of the bigger news in the Major Leagues right now is the deal between Matt Garza, and the Chicago Cubs. Its been said that the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to receive quite a bit of prospects for Matt Garza. Chris Archer who won the 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award, Brandon Guyer who won the 2010 Minor League Player of the Year award, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, catcher Robinson Chirinos, and outfielder Sam Flud would all go to the Rays for Matt Garza. Most prospects posting some above average numbers, and fans already speculate the Rays losing Garza would not be playoff contenders in the upcoming seasons. The Cubs, if aquired Garza would have a strong pitching rotation that would include Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny, and Carlos Silva.
There has been light talk of Albert Pujols up and coming contract. Sources say that something needs to happen before spring training or else Pujols wont be available for talk about contracts during the season.
Joe Torre will be looking to latch onto a position as a MLB executive VP. Since the former manager of the Yankees, and the Dodgers has left that important managerial position he has been seeking other employment within baseball, and has been steadily talking to Bud Selig to become the executive VP of operations for MLB.
Another early bird tour would serve me well. Since the last two games I was sitting behind the Tampa Bay Ray dugout and not one baseball was tossed my way despite my TB gear. I was slightly disappointed with the Rays. But I was fine with that. I had three baseballs in as many games, and I was going for the 100 baseball mark today. And it started off looking very promising. As soon as we were released into the stands by the tour guide, I ran down the steps and started calling to Zack Greinke. He was walking towards two baseballs. He scooped the up and randomly tossed them into the seats. Since I was the first one down that way I had an easy shot at atleast one of them. I heard the pounding footsteps of competition behind me but I remained calm, played the ball as it rolled around, and leaned over the seats to scoop it up. It was a daring move because the ball was on a roll. Ive learned that when a baseball is hit or thrown into the seats you want to carefully play the ball as it rolls. I try not to get overly aggressive and chase it down to the very row it was thrown to because it generally rolls down the aisles.
I heckled Greg Holland a little bit about the other day with the annoying kid, and we shared some laughs. It wouldnt take long, and Mike Aviles would rip a foul ball into the same area where Greinke had tossed a baseball. I was the only one there so I just casually jogged that way, and let the ball roll right into my glove with no competition within miles. I got an approving smile, and nod from the tour guide, and I went about my business. The second baseball that I got I probably wasnt supposed to have. Or it was just fate or luck or whatever a person would want to think. I mean, getting this ball was like winning the lottery. I should have probably played the lottery after this. It was getting close to 5:30pm. Seven minutes. Then the gates would open, and people would pour in. After that foul ball I retrieved off the bat of Mike Aviles, he would put two more deep into the outfield, and one baseball bounced into the seats. I watched this whole thing playout.
I figured a security guard would have seen it or a kid or someone. But nothing. Five minutes before the gates would open, and all of a sudden out from behind the batters eye some teenaged kid went down to where the ball was, and he started frantically searching for the baseball. He walked all the way down to the wall, and he started asking baseball players for a baseball. It wasnt but a moment later someone tossed him a baseball, and off he went. I couldnt believe it! He didnt see the ball! Or he grabbed it, and I didnt see him grab it! The ball must be well hidden, I thought to myself. Like its stuck in a cupholder, or wedged down in a seat. Three minutes. I had to move. I had to do something. The security guards were taking their positions. I had to risk getting ejected or yelled at. I had to. I started up the stairs towards the outfield. I scanned around. The tour guide was busy with conversating with the fans. This was my break. I scampered up the stairs, and fast-paced walked towards the outfield. The “Take me out to the ball game” jingle roared over the loudspeaker. The gates were opening! I bolted towards the outfield seats. I raced passed a security guard that was seeing what I was seeing. There it was! Are you kidding me?! The baseball was in the middle of the first aisle out in the open! How could that kid not see that?! No matter. It was mine.
To my suprised the ball I scooped up was an Inaugural Season baseball from Target Field. Ive been wanting one of these all season. I never did make it out to Target Field. But it didnt matter now. I had one, and as I dropped it into my bag I noticed something else on another ball. Could it be? Yup! I had two of them! Greinke could have tossed it to me, or it could have been the Mike Aviles foul ball. I felt like going home. Mission accomplished. I came away with not one, but TWO of these baseballs! As I hung around the bullpen Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays started to head in there. He was actually going to retrieve some baseballs? That would be a first. But of course he was new. So I hung around, and called to him. He fired one to me but it came up short. He tossed another one to me, and I grabbed it. Number four and the final baseball of the game. I sat behind the dugout of the Rays all game, and no luck. I tried to get the umpire to toss me one, no luck. The Rays from the bullpen didnt toss me one either.
So that concludes the regular season for me. Im planning on making it out to Great American BallPark Monday if the Reds can win Game 3. It should be fun. It will be my second playoff game, and Im eager to try to snag some baseballs.
I hope everyone had a great baseball season, and an even better postseason!
Game; October 2nd 2010 Tampa Bay Rays Vs Kansas City Royals
So after taking a two and a half month hiatus from baseball ( mainly because it was so hot, and I just couldnt stand the heat this year ) I managed to catch three more games before the season ended.
It was a blissful day at Kauffman Stadium. The air was cool, and it had been months since I had been chasing down baseballs. I felt a little rusty, but at the same time I felt confident. I was nervous. I actually found out a secret today at Kauffman. They have the early bird tours that allows fans to enter the stadium an hour early than the regular time. Of course you have to put up with a little political stadium nonsense like a stadium tour, and some dugout experience that you sit in a mock dugout, and watch the history of the Royals. Its about fifteen minutes long. After that they allow the fans to watch batting practice. But the catch is you have to stay between the dugout, and the foul pole. So any baseballs that go out into outfield bleachers will be retrieved by stadium staff. Total bummer. But thank goodness the Tampa bay Rays were in town. Not one baseball went into the outfield bleachers that I saw.
I snagged seven baseballs overall in three games. Which raised my total lifetime to 96, and my season stats to 86. My first baseball came from Dan Wheeler. I was decked out in my Tampa Bay Ray gear, and he noticed me right away. After he was done warming up he fired a baseball my way with a high arch to it. I was excited that I would get my first baseball of the day after a long hiatus this quickly. I was so excited I closed my glove too soon, and even thanked him before the ball struck my glove. The ball took a high bounce up, and I soon realized I didnt make the catch. I saw the white orb drop before my view, and I threw my arms out to get a visual so I could re-adjust, and catch it if I could. The ball clanged off the railing, and it made a sickening bounce down towards the field. I had a split second to react, and before I could the ball bounced off the top of the padded wall, and shot down to the grassy field. My stomach turned. I wouldnt get that back I though. Dan Wheeler had jogged out to the outfield to shag fly balls, and there was only one player near the ball. Luckily, it rolled into his view, and he picked it up. I quickly laughed it off and explained I had dropped it. He quickly lobbed it back up to me. Wow. What a relief! I joked with a nearby fan that, that was the first baseball I had dropped all year, and it was hard to get them back once dropped.
Batting practice ended and I took my assigned seat to watch the contest in full. It was a great game because it seemed like the Rays were just letting the Royals beat up on them. The Rays at a sure spot in the playoffs anyway so I think they were saving what they had left in the tank for the playoffs.
A unique experience to say the least.
Game; September 30th 2010 Tampa Bay Rays Vs Kansas City Royals