Today was mother’s day. It was also another Little League day at Safeco Field. But I didn’t know it was another Little League day at Safeco Field. I assumed that was just a one day deal. But it wasn’t. To my initial shock I saw this when I ran inside…
Batting practice was nearly unheard of, of happening on a Sunday. Mainly because a Sunday game follows a night game so I was pretty excited when I saw the BP cage up. There were a few Mariners throwing in shallow rightfield and some Whitesox throwing the ball around in front of their dugout. But no real signs that batting practice was going to happen. Before they allowed us entry to the entire stadium the BP cage was carted off the field by the grounds crew. So much for my excitement. The first chance I got I ran all the way around the stadium to see if I couldn’t catch an overthrow from Tom Wilhelmsen.
Just as soon as I ran past the Mariners dugout to snap this picture I heard the ever-familiar sound of a baseball smacking into the seats. My feet stopped and I turned around to give chase even before my brain could register that a ball made it into the seats. I was even turned around before I could locate the baseball. I had a little help from a nearby security guard that was trying to point out which section the baseball was in. I knew it was on its way down to the front row. So I patiently walked towards the field looking in each row until I found it. Since it was Sunday and there was no sign of BP to happen plus it was Little League Day, getting that baseball took a huge weight off my shoulders.
I approached Tom Wilhelmsen as he continued playing catch and we exchanged friendly greetings. I was going to ask him for a baseball but I figured he saw me pick up the one near the M’s dugout so I saved asking him for another game in the future. When the Whitesox came out to throw the baseball around it was extremely tough to get their attention. Mainly due to this…
As soon as hordes of people starting walking around the stadium I knew that every single baseball on the field would go directly to a youngster. So I scouted for any opportunity to grab an autograph. And a picture.
That’s Angie Mentink. She is the Root Sports sportscaster for every Mariner home game and Seattle Seahawk games as well. She was really fun to talk to. We talked about her short stint with the Colorado Silver Bullets and I also got to share with her my charity for the Seattle-King Co. Humane Society.
I decided to head down into the ‘Pen area and get something to eat. Since it was Sunday I figured I’d try something new. I’ve never had a crepe before so I figured that would be a good option. Here is where I ate…
I bought the roast beef crepe and it wasn’t that good. Maybe it was just me but it lacked flavor. It was messy, and too juicy, and it wasn’t very filling. Plus I don’t like mushrooms and it came with mushrooms. The cheese wasn’t that flavorful either. If I had to rate this place I would probably rate it a three. (ten being the best and one being the worst) The price was average but I didn’t buy a soda there so that helped keep the price down. Instead I bought a soda at the Blazing Bagel and it was much needed to wash this nastiness down. Blegh!
I sat here for about five innings and then I moved down into the ‘Pen area…
When I stood by the Mariners bullpen I saw Jason Phillips (the Mariners bullpen catcher) doing this…
Jason Phillips is the Mariner standing in the middle of the three in the picture. He is also rubbing mud on baseballs. Yes that is genuine New Jersey Mud that he was coating on several baseballs. I watched him for about fifteen minutes rub mud on about eight baseballs. It was pretty awesome. I assumed a grounds keeper did that job or maybe the ball boys. But I never thought the bullpen catcher would be doing it. Maybe he was bored. But it was still awesome to see. Phillips also spit on his hands to get the mud wet prior to rubbing the balls down. So if you’ve ever handled a Major League baseball make sure you wash your hands afer handling one. Go here to watch the story about the special mud.
Aside from all that cool stuff, the Mariners were beat again. This time in extra innings. Brandon League took the loss after he gave up a couple base hits and Paul Konerko went 5-5. How cool is that. I thought about going after the lineup card just for that reason alone but I wanted to try to get one more baseball before the game ended. I didnt go to the umpire tunnel like I usually do because lately I’ve been getting shut down from the home plate umpire. So I figured I’d try something else. But I was denied by both bullpens too. How ironic.
When I got home from the game this was waiting for me on the counter…
Game; May 8th 2011 Chicago Whitesox vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $28.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $11.50 this season
The Mariners were hosting the Chicago Whitesox tonight plus it was Ichiro Suzuki hit counter bobblehead night. So I figured Safeco would be packed. But batting practice wasn’t too bad. The lines weren’t as bad as I thought but I did have to show up an extra hour early to secure my spot in line. I didn’t attempt to enter the stadium at the centerfield gates this time because all of the gates were opening at 4:40pm. So I entered the stadium at the rightfield gates. As soon as I ran in I was quickly on the board with two easer eggs that I found in the rows. And as I was exiting the section there was a sharply hit foul ball that landed a few rows to my left. There was another fan chasing it down by trying to jump over the rows to get to it. But I let gravity work on my side and let the ball come to me. I gave it to the guy just for his hard effort at trying to chase it down. I thought he was going to seriously injure himself.
After the Mariners exited the field I ran over to the Chicago Whitesox dugout area. Omar Vizquel was playing catch with his son and just about everyone and their mother was trying to get his autograph. Vizquel isn’t known for being the friendliest guy either. So the fans that got his autograph should consider themselves very lucky.
Here is a picture of Omar and his kid.
After chasing Omar Vizquel’s autograph for about ten minutes I decided to go play foul territory for some baseballs. Here was my view.
And then after standing in that area for about 30 minutes I decided to go back down to the Whitesox dugout in hopes that the pitching coach might hook me up with a baseball after batting practice ended.
See how packed the rightfield bleachers were? Its tough to get a home run ball when its that tight.
About the only really cool thing that happened at tonight’s game (besides getting an Ichiro bobblehead) was that Rob Dyrdek showed up to throw out the first pitch. He came over to sign some autographs and I snapped a few pictures of him.
He was really cool about hooking people up with autographs before the game. I was in line for a few minutes to see if I could get his autograph on my ticket stub but so many older teenagers just shoved their way to the front of the line. One of the security guards tried to get things organized as best as he could but it was pretty much a loss cause. I even had adults shoving their way past me to get his autograph. But Rob was cool about it. He signed as many as he could until he had to go.
I made my way back to the Chicago side of the stadium and waited on the warmup ball from the Whitesox. I was quickly ran out by security but it really didnt matter. The Whitesox never came out to warmup in front of the dugout anyway. After that I made my way out to the outfield to sit and watch the game. It was another exciting Mariner win. They won with a Brendan Ryan single in walk-off fashion. The stadium exploded with cheers as the Mariners ran out onto the field to smother Ryan with rabbit punches, and a standing dogpile.
Game; May 6th 2011 Chicago Whitesox vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $27.20 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $10.75 this season.
Since yesterday was so successful I considered entering the stadium from the centerfield gates again. With no one even at the gates one hour prior to them opening I decided to pounce on the opportunity. Once inside I let the fans get Erik Bedard’s attention and I held up my glove when he looked our way. He threw the ball very low and it actually came close to hitting the top of the wall. So I had to lean way out and make a quick scoop for the catch. The Mariners were being pretty generous to us in the ‘Pen. They tossed up about eight baseballs in that thirty minute time span.
Right after I had caught the Bedard toss up the Mariners started to yell “Heads up!” And I saw Erik Bedard pointing skyward. The ball clanged against the railing and ended up falling down into the gap behind the wall. It wouldnt be as easy as assembling my glove for the glove trick to get the ball this time. The ball actually landed in the corner way out of reach.
In the picture above the ball used to be sitting in the corner. But I swung my glove out to knock it down and it ended up scooting behind the fence. You can barely see it but its there. So I wandered over to the nearest, most friendly security guard I could find and told them that a baseball was down in the gap behind the fence. Of course she didnt take my word for it and had to investigate herself. “Sure enough! There is a ball there!” She said. Yeah. I asked her how she would go about getting it and she told me she had to wait for the keys to unlock the gate near the Mariners bullpen. She then would climb down a latter and get it. As I was asking how that particular procedure went down there was a high drive deep to centerfield. The ball cleared the wall and landed in the grassy area behind the batters eye. I quickly ran over to the railing and waved my glove at the security guard. He hooked me up and I thanked him.
Once the security guard climbed down the stairs and got the bseball she asked if I had already gotten one. I told her I had and she gave it to the nearest kid. At about that time it was nearly 5:05pm. Time to line up at the stairs. As soon as the horn blew I was off! I sprinted up the stairs and ran down into foul territory searching for any easter eggs left behind by security. I found one by the wall and then I found another one tucked away underneath a seat.
As the Mariners left the field and as the Texas Rangers started to come out onto the field I quickly switched caps and found a nice cozy spot on the third base foul line. Taylor Teagarden and Zachary Phillips ended up playing catch in front of me. It wasn’t long before Teagarden missed the throw from Phillips and I was able to snag it before it broke my face. Teagarden waved for me to keep it since they were done anyway. I nodded to him in thanks and moved in behind Ryan Tucker and Colby Lewis. It wasnt but three throws later I got pegged in the left thigh by an overthrow. It didnt hurt at first so I just laughed it off. I figured they would at least reward me with a baseball for taking a Colby Lewis fastball to the leg. But no such luck. ( No, that’s not why I stood there ) At least now I can say I was hit by Colby Lewis.
As batting practice continued I could really start to feel the pain from the overthrow. I figured I’d have a huge bruise by the end of the game. My leg just throbbed all night and I even considered seeking out some genuine Safeco Field medical treatment. Im sure all they would give me would be an ice-pack and maybe some tylenol. As I was standing there some guy was on the phone and thanked me for protecting him while he was talking to his wife. It turns out that guy used to play in the Major Leagues. He was drafted in 1986 by the Atlanta Braves and played in the Minor Leagues for the Phillies for quite some time. I was never able to find any official MLB stats on him but his name is Ken Sirak. He lives in Beaverton Oregon now and Im pretty sure he runs a business. He mentioned a few times that he had clients that bailed on him so he had to come to the game alone. Anyway. I got a couple pictures snapped with me sitting next to him.
Here is another one…
It was really cool to talk to him about baseball. He knew so much about the sport ( obviously because he played for many years ) but we also talked about the steroid era. He played college ball with Lenny Dykstra and Jeff Kent and he told me those guys used steroids all the time. In fact it was just part of the game back then. Dykstra was an obvious user anyway.
The Mariners played decent baseball. Unfortunatly they lost with Pineda on the mound. But he struck out nine batters and FINALLY gave up a home run. Or two.
Game; May 4rd 2011 Texas Rangers vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $24.80 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $9.25 this season.
I think I can pretty much say that I regret not entering Safeco Field from the centerfield gates from the start. After all its an additional 30 minutes of batting practice. There is a potential to get at least one baseball before the rest of the stadium opens. Not only that but it basically gives me a birds eye view of foul territory. I can watch which security guards pick up what baseballs and who throws what back. Its an excellent advantage in any case.
The Texas Rangers were in town for a three game series. Josh Hamiliton was still injured but he was supposed to be taking some cuts in the cage during BP before the second game. Plus the Rangers had Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, and Adrian Beltre. All with great power. So I was predicting plenty of home run balls this series. Outside the gates before they opened I got to brag about my ball snagging stats for a little while to a father/daughter duo. The daughter claimed it was her first game and she really wanted a baseball. Isnt that special.
Once I ran inside I was restricted to just the ‘Pen area. But it was still pretty awesome to see these guys warming up in the bullpen. It wasnt long before I got Tom Wilhelmsens attention and requested a baseball from him. He threw it way to my right, and I had to reach across my body to make the catch. Unfortunatly, I didnt catch it and the guy next to me bobbled it and it went down into the gap behind the wall. Glove trick time! I quickly scanned for security to make sure they werent on the way to get it. I assembled the rubberband around the outside of my glove, opened my glove up with the sharpie pen, and quickly lowered it down towards the ball. I immediatly started to get “Ohhhs” and “Awwws” from the crowd. After realizing the rubber band wasnt on right I pulled my glove up and re-adjusted. Back down. And pulled my glove up with ball in tow.
In the picture above you can see Tom Wilhelmsen way out in the distance. You can also see the gap between the wall in the lower left part of the picture. Its quite a large gap and it usually does a great job of swallowing up home runs or dropped catches. Wilhelmsen did not see me pull up the ball out of the gap so on the next ball that HE caught he lobbed it my way. And I gave it to the girl that I met outside the gate. She politely thanked me. So that was a plus. And since that was a catch made by me I will count it in my collection.
At about 5:05pm I left the outfield area and went to line up at the staircase that led up to the rest of the stadium. At 5:10pm the horn blew to allow the rest of the fans to enter the stadium. I raced up the stairs and headed down towards foul territory on the third base side. I had watched a few foul balls land out there but I wasnt sure if the security guards were going to pick them up or leave them alone. On the first base side most of the baseballs get scooped up by security and later handed out to kids or thrown back onto the field. Well, on the third base side niether of that happened. Today anyway. When I ran over there I managed to find two easter eggs.
Then I lined up behind Pedro Strop and Darrin Oliver to catch any overthrows.
And it happened. It started to rain and Oliver and Strop seemed to be very sloppy in their game of catch. The ball took a sharp bounce and came at me. It dropped at the last moment and got stuck under the wall padding. I grabbed it and quickly offered it back to Strop. But he pulled out a second ball from his back pocket. On about the third throw, Strop overthrew Oliver. Oliver pointed at me and then Strop asked if they could use the baseball I had snagged from their first overthrow. I tossed it to them and then within three seconds a foul ball came crashing down in the section to my left. I dug it out of the seats and took my place back behind Strop and Oliver. Once they were done they tossed me the baseball. That would be my sixth baseball in less than an hour.
Some lady wandered over to me and asked how many baseballs I got and since Im not a good liar I told her I had four. ( I really had lost count when she asked ) She also asked if she could have the baseball I had in my glove. She went on about being my best friend and would do anything for it and blah blah blah. So like a sucker I gave it to her. Then she asked if she could have one more for her adopted Japanese family. She went on again about being my best friend and all this crap. I told her I would work on trying to get another baseball for her.
I went and stood in the outfield for about fifteen minutes and while I was out there I witnessed the lady I almost gave two baseballs to get one on her own. And to make matters worse when I was over on the first base side trying to get a Chone Figgins toss up she was over there with BOTH baseballs getting them signed by the Mariner ball girls. Ball girls? Are you serious? Or maybe they were grounds crew members. Im not really sure. So what do you call those types of people that Ballhawk from Ballhawks?
I tried to get a warmup ball from the Rangers out in front of their dugout before the game started but they ended up entering the dugout on the opposite side to where I was standing.
The game was actually very exciting too. Not only did Fransico Liriano throw a no-hitter for the Minnesota Twins but Erik Bedard was flirting with one through nearly five innings.
I hung out in the outfield seats for about three innings before I moved down into the ‘Pen area. It was less crowded and there werent as many drunks as I predicted there would be at todays game. I pretty much had the entire Texas Ranger bullpen standing area to myself. So if a home run ball did reach the ‘Pen it would have been all mine. Unfortunatly, no home run balls reached either bullpen. But todays game went really well.
I also got an article on MyGameBalls.com about snagging my 100th baseball. If youve been following my blog youll know I snagged that puppy at pretty much the end of the game at the Oakland Coliseum. I seriously didnt think it was going to happen. Heres the article in case you want to read it.
Can you identify this guy? He was at the game. Ill give you a hint; he plays rock and roll.
Death Cab for Cutie; Ben Gibbard maybe? Awesome.
Game; May 3rd 2011 Texas Rangers vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $22.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $7.75 this season.
I wasnt planning on staying the entire game let alone batting practice today. So I wanted to get on the board as fast as possible. About fifteen minutes before the gates were about to open up a flood of about 15 people joined me at the gates. I pretty much stood there from the time I arrived at the stadium until the time the gates opened, alone. I seriously thought I would have the entire stadium to myself. I practically did. Once the horn blew the race was on.
I thought I was going to be beat out by a bunch of kids. But somehow their parents kept them at a speed walk. My long strides got me down the first base side and into foul territory much faster and it wasnt long before I snagged my first easter egg. Right as I picked up the baseball one of the security guards told me to take cover. I looked up for a split second to try and get a read on the ball but I couldnt see it. So I covered my head with my glove and braced for impact. As soon as the baseball smashed into the seats I was all over it.
I hung around in foul territory for a few more minutes and then I quickly made a giant loop around the stadium. Its pretty good cardio and I was hoping to pick up a stray easter egg. No such luck. I finally stopped out in the right field bleachers to snag a few home run balls. I guess I looked approachable or friendly or something. But for the next 15 minutes some random guy chewed my ear off about his kids being active in sports. It was driving me nuts because his breath smelled like rotten beer. I remained friendly in any case. When the guy finally left me alone I wandered down to the front row and I tried to get Juan Riveras attention but he thoroughly ignored me. There were a few baseballs on the warning track that I considered. He was closest to them.
That pretty much concluded batting practice for me. I apologize for no pictures in this entry. I took some but I left my memory card at home for my camera and I cant find the USB cord to upload them. So no pictures. The Mariners did record their second win at home though, and Michael Pineda got his first Major League win. So congratulations to him.
If youre interested in learning more about my charity project I started for the Seattle-King Co. Humanes Society you can go to this website to get the full run down. I also have two more charity projects. You can check them out here and here. I have yet to here any offical word on the Japan relief project or the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation but I am confident that something good will come this week or the following. I also wanted to give a shout out to an aquaintance of mine concerning this charity project. The actual idea to snag baseballs at Major League stadiums wasnt a self-created idea. Zack Hample is the one that actually created the idea. I did contact him through email and he sort of got me started on the whole charity project thing. If you get a chance check out his charity organization here.
Game; April 12th 2011
Money raised for Seattle Humanes Society so far; $4.20
Money raised for Red Cross Japan Relief so far; $3.50