Inter-league play. Always my favorite time of the year during baseball season. NOT. I’ve never been a fan of inter-league play. For a bunch of reasons. But for baseball it’s probably something that will never go away. Now they’re talking about moving divisions around, making the playoffs longer and all this other hoopla. Truth of the matter is, it’s all about money. Did you know that this weekend alone brought out 1.6 million fans across baseball to watch inter-league baseball? Crazy, huh? Some series I’d love to see though. Like the Subway series, the Battle of the Bay (which I’ve already seen this year) and the I-70 series. Other than that? I really don’t care to see the Indians play the Astros. It’s not something I have my heart set on.
This morning I had a photo-shoot with a guy from the Snohomish Tribune. I had to take all of my 170 plus baseballs down to my old high school and have me and them photographed together on the baseball field. It was kind of cool because that’s the very same field Adam Eaton played on in high school. He graduated in 1996 from Snohomish High school, which was my sophomore year. If you aren’t familiar with who Adam Eaton is well I will tell you. He graduated Snohomish High school in 97` posting an 0.67 ERA for the team and went on to play college ball for the University of Washington. He was drafted by the Phillies in the 96` draft but ended up making his Major League debut for the San Diego Padres, May 30th 2000. He played with them until the 2005 season when he was traded to the Texas Rangers. From there he bounced to the Phillies, Orioles, and the Rockies before finally becoming a free agent. A lot of Phillies fan speculate that Eaton almost cost them the World Series in 2008 and didn’t deserve a World Series ring.
Here are a few pictures of Doug trying to figure out a good shot for all my baseballs.
And here is Doug trying to set up all of my baseballs for a good picture. He was explaining how he wanted to leave all the baseballs in the original pyramid formation but block out the yellow box lid and the other brown colored box lid.
…and here’s a picture of him setting up my special baseballs. You know, like the one I caught from Mark McGwire, my 100th lifetime and my first ever baseball.
I don’t know if I’ll keep my Mark McGwire ball in the cube like that forever. Eventually, as I collect more baseballs from iconic players I may just put them in a special box or a multiple baseball holder and label each ball with the specific players that either hit it or tossed it to me. In any case I doubt I will ever get another baseball from Mark McGwire ever again. And I surely won’t ever get one hit to me by him. So it makes it very special that I got one from him. And if you want to read about how I got one from Big Mac you can just click right here.
After the photo-shoot was complete, I loaded all my baseballs up in my car, jetted home, unloaded all of my baseballs back upstairs, grabbed my stuff, and chased off towards Safeco Field. Since the Phillies were in town for inter-league play I had to get to the stadium early. Plus it was Ichiro replica jersey giveaway night. So the stadium was going to be packed. I was also waiting on my buddy Josh and his small entourage to arrive with the tickets. The gates opened up at 4:40pm and they arrived at 4:38pm. Moments to spare. (I truly appreciate the hustle, Josh!) Once I got my ticket, got my bag checked by security, I raced inside to the center field party deck. The place filled up so fast. Before I knew it I was elbow to elbow with hundreds of people. And to make matters worse David Aardsma tossed some dude a baseball, it bounced out of his hands, smacked off his face, bounced off the shoulder of his wife, and landed down in the gap behind the centerfield wall. Now I had to compete for a spot to get that baseball. I probably excused myself a hundred times trying to get in line with it to glove trick it out of there. Once I found it I got my glove ready, and started to lower it down. Just then…my string broke. My glove fell helplessly into the gap. “Now what?” Said a voice.
I found the nearest security guard and told him I had dropped my baseball glove into the gap. He told me he couldn’t help me right now because he was too busy guarding his post. I’d have to wait. And I did wait. Even though the outside temperature was only 71 degrees, it felt like I was roasting under a desert sun. I was literally stressed out. I wanted to just forget my glove and go home. But I’ve had that glove since I was like, 16. And I still had a chance to get that baseball. After 25 minutes of standing there, and making minimal, pathetic attends to get a baseball players attention to toss me a baseball, I caught up with a security guard that was way more friendlier and way better looking too. Her name is Kim, and she is always so helpful and nice at the stadium. I told her my problem but I added that I was trying to get an autograph and I dropped my glove, my ball, and my sharpie into the gap. She immediately started towards the gate to help me but her supervisor, Melinda,(an equally nice security guard) cut her off and told her she had to go guard something else. I then had to explain my problem to Melinda. And she was equally compassionate and understanding. So can you guess what happened next?
Isn’t that the best picture ever? That’s not the actual baseball from the gap. That is a baseball I brought from home for good luck. And in case you’re still waiting on official confirmation that I got the baseball from the gap, yes. I did get it. Melinda brought it up for me. I couldn’t thank her enough.
I was finally able to assist my buddy Josh in the left field bleachers but he pretty much had things under control. I was just hanging around in case he missed one, plus he’s great conversation. We jib-jab about baseball, and who we think will make the playoffs…you know, guy talk. Josh reeled in four baseballs in this one spot in the bleachers, and got Jaime Navarro to toss him his fifth.
That’s Josh waiting for another BP home run. If you want to check out his stats on www.mygameballs.com just click here. He’s a really cool guy and we got kind of ran out of that spot earlier than we wanted because after Josh had snagged number four a lot of kids started asking him to stand there.
Like I said. The stadium was absolutely crowded. Full to the brim. No where to stand and nowhere to really run for anything. Here are a couple of pictures to show you just how crowded it got.
The front rows were packed. There was no breaking in to get close enough for a toss-up so I just chalked it up as a loss and let inter-league play win this round. I felt that coming away with one baseball was pretty significant especially considering I lost valuable time when I dropped my glove in the gap. Here’s the severity of that incident too. You see…while I was standing there dinking around with security…another 35,000 people entered the baseball stadium in that time frame.
Batting practice ended and the only thing left to do was to get close enough to Kyle Kendrick to get some pictures. He had a ton of family at the ballpark, (he’s from Mount Vernon, WA) so everyone was trying to see him, and he was doing his best to obligue everyones’ requests for autographs and pictures. I helped out Josh get his picture with Kendrick and that was pretty much the end of all the excitement.
My seats were awesome. Right on the aisle in foul ball territory. Josh’s girlfriend, Ginny has a friend that hooked us all up with these great seats from her work. And sitting here nearly paid off too. It was around the 5th inning when a foul ball was hit our direction. I stood up, made my way down the aisle carefully, and moved into position to catch the ball. I was worried that it was going to hit the cable that strung along above us to help support the screen behind home plate so I adjusted a few feet to my right. Unfortunatly, the beer vendor was ducking for cover right where I needed to be. The ball landed two seats in and I was on the other side of the beer vendor. Had he not of been there? Easy catch.
Game; June 17th 2011 Philadelphia Phillies vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $95.45 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.10 this
Today was going to be a busy day. I had an interview with the Snohomish Tribune at like, 4pm today, Zack Hample was still in town, and I wanted to get to the stadium kind of early to talk to him. Plus I was waiting on a very important phone call from someone that was going to set up a time to photograph my baseball collection for the newspaper. Oh, and then I had to snag a bunch of baseballs. The good thing was, I had on my lucky socks. So I knew everything was going to be okay. The phone rang about 4:15pm but I was totally fine with that because the crowd to get in the stadium was light, and for the first thirty minutes of batting practice I really didn’t expect much. Although, I’m setting a new goal for myself. I’d like to reach 200 baseballs before the All-Star game. I literally have about 7 games to do that in. The Mariners go on the road after they play the Phillies, and that following weekend I’ll be in San Diego for two games at PETCO Park, and then the Mariners come home to face the Marlins, Braves and Padres for three games a piece and then hit the road again. The problem with that is, its all inter-league baseball. Safeco will most likely be jam packed. Bad for snagging baseballs.
Anyway. Back to the interview. I talked with the reporter from the Snohomish Tribune for a good twenty minutes. It was a really awesome interview and I was pleased with my answers. I didn’t want it to sound like the only reason I come to baseball games is to snag baseballs, but that’s partly true. I do sit and enjoy the game though. Sometimes. A lot of the times I’m looking for that opportunity to catch a home run ball. But yeah. I do enjoy the game. I love baseball. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t go to the games. The phone interview didn’t last much longer because we got disconnected. Perfect timing anyway because the gates opened up at that very moment. I ran in to the center field standing room only but I was still trying to get a hold of the Snohomish Tribune to finish the interview. Later I receieved a voicemail with the final question and they graciously gave me the option to just hit them back on email. Awesome.
Greg Halman was the first to toss up a baseball. And I was trying to get Jason Vargas to toss me another one like yesterday. But instead I got the attention of a security guard.
…and I was on the board with one baseball just like that. I don’t know why he singled me out but I made sure he heard me thanking him. There are probably two very awesome security guards in Safeco Field and he is one of them. Most security guards are very bias when it comes to giving baseballs away. And the right field guards that sweep through the rows during BP acting like they’re wiping down seats pick up any loose baseballs and put them in their pockets. I watched it happen twice yesterday. But then some security guards will tell you that they aren’t allowed to touch the baseballs at all. “Just leave `em where they lie.” I overheard one guard say. I guess the rules are different throughout the stadium.
I stood at the staircase for ten minutes answering trivia questions from the security guard that was standing there. He’s a really nice guy and I’ve told him all about my charity. I even hooked him up with a business card. Have you seen my business card yet?
…how could you not want that? Its true beauty. The trivia questions really made me think. The first one he asked was when Major League Baseball registered all the players names by alphabetical order, who is the first baseball player on the list? I guessed Hank Aaron. It was David Aardsma.
Question two: What player was the first to ever sign a million dollar contract? I didn’t have an answer. The answer was Nolan Ryan. He signed a $1 million dollar contract in 1979.
Question three: What former Mariner drove in 141 runs in 1996? I said Omar Vizquel. The answer was Alex Rodriguez.
And the last question: In 2004, Ichiro broke who’s all time hit record? I said George Sisler. And that earned me a Tino Martinez baseball card. He had two of them and I didn’t want to take the Griffey cards because not only did I already have those but I wanted to make sure to let other fans get the good ones.
5:10pm. “Safeco Field is now open!” That’s what can be heard over the loudspeaker when all the other gates open up at 5:10pm. I used to stand at the right field gates like a dummy waiting for the gates to open. But an extra 30 minutes of BP by entering the center field gates? How could you NOT? I found two baseballs in the empty rows as I ran down in the third base area. I picked one up and when I found the second one I noticed a young Mariner fan walking slowly through the rows trying to find a baseball. I nodded to him and then pointed at my feet. Just then I remembered I needed to get the ball in my possession to make it count so I picked it up and handed it to the kid. That was number three on the day. I wanted to average four baseballs a game which would put me two passed #200 on the last game before the All-Star game. At this point I needed just one more.
BP was absolutely dead again today. Jared Weaver was the only Angels player to stay long enough for me to even have a shot at catching my fourth ball on the day. But this family with two little kids rolled up next to me. Even after I got Scott Downs to toss me one, it fell short and the Dad made sure to block me out. He gave it to his kid and then kept on about how he needed to catch one more baseball for his other kid. And if that didn’t happen then they could just go home and play with the dozen of baseballs they have at the house. And wouldn’t you know? When Jared Weaver got done playing catch he tossed his warm-up ball to them.
After that I really didn’t have a game plan. There weren’t any good spots that were close enough to any players to ask for a toss up. So I just wandered into the left field bleachers for a while. Here’s what I saw.
Can you see it?
But it was way out of reach. Zack, the book author I’ve been telling you about for like, two days, tried to use his crutches to get the baseball. But apparently there is a small gap where the baseballs can slip through and fall underneath the manual scoreboard. I don’t know where exactly they go, but they go somewhere. And not within reach anymore. That’s for sure. So after hanging out there for about 15 minutes asking for baseballs, and waiting on a BP home run, I ran down to the dugout to wait for some action there.
I thought I could get Tom Gregorio to toss me one but he wasn’t throwing BP today.
When BP finally ended I got the attention of Mike Butcher, and he hooked me up with my fourth ball of the day. Mission accomplished.
Here is the group of Ballhawks after our successful BP session. I’m pictured with three baseballs because I gave one away. From left to right; Max, Ben, me, Zack, Luke, and Hannah. Luke and Hannah are Max’s brother and sister and Ben is a friend of Max. They all have user names on www.mygameballs.com. If you haven’t checked out that website you should. Plus I just got an article published on there. I’m a monthly columnist. If you want to read my article you can click here.
I sat front row during the game and they were pretty awesome seats. I don’t normally buy seats that expensive or that close to the field because I’m going for a home run ball this year but I wanted to try my luck during the game for foul balls. Unfortunatly, nothing was hit my way. But I did witness Ichiro Suzuki swiping his 400th career stolen base and Mariners rookie Greg Halman went deep for the first time in his career. So it was a really memorable game. And to top it off? The Mariners won. Carlos Peguero hit a grounder that bounced off second base that scored two runs. Then of course the Halman bomb made it 3-1. Great game.
Game; June 15th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $80.05 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $29.25 this
This is the crowd 20 minutes before the gates opened at Safeco Field today.
That’s Josh standing up and I’m sitting against the wall by my blue backpack. After the gates opened up maybe 15 more people filed in after us. And it didn’t take long for the whole ‘Pen area to fill up. But not to like, full capacity or anything. But that’s the normal crowd here at Safeco Field. Here’s me wearing my favorite shirt.
The whole story on Barry Bonds and his steroids issue might be old news. But this shirt always gets me plenty of attention at the ballpark. And I love it. I always have people coming up to me asking me where I got it and how cool it is. I have two other ‘Roids shirts too. But one of them is kind of small so I don’t like wearing it that often. Once we got inside it was pretty dead. I somehow got Jason Vargas to look at me by constantly waving at him. And finally it paid off. He launched a high, arching throw in my direction and I had to take a couple of steps back to get in line with the baseball. And even then it still carried further back. I was worried that I might run out of room on the tiny centerfield standing room only platform and the baseball would tip-off my glove and end up in the clutches of an evil security guard. But no such thing happened. At the last moment I kind of bunny hopped to make the catch.
Jason Vargas is standing by the Keybank sign on the outfield wall. That’s how far he threw the ball to me. I was actually pretty impressed with the throw and how well he got it to me. I’m not saying Vargas is a bad pitcher I’m just saying that’s quite a distance to throw and to hit your mark on top of that? Nicely done.
Soon after one of the Mariners hitters started dropping bombs on us. Well, not entirely. They barely reached the warning track and one baseball bounced up into the crowd, hit a dude in the chest and dropped down into the gap behind the wall. I was trying to play the bounce hoping it would go over everyone’s head and land in my glove. But the gap won this round. And being that Zack Hample was in the area, the baseball didn’t stay in the gap for long. Here is a video of how he retreieved it.
It’s a fairly simple trick to accomplish for baseballs that trickle down into gaps behind walls at stadiums. All you do is stretch a rubber band over the tip of your glove, prop the glove open with a pen or something, have some string already tied onto the glove, and lower it down over the baseball. The rubber band will stretch over the baseball and there you have it! Reel up your baseball glove and you’ll have a baseball! Not only that but fans around you will more than likely have never seen that and will applaud your efforts. It’s worth a shot.
Once the rest of the stadium opened up I ran down into the third base area and scooped up my second baseball of the day in one of the empty rows. Batting practice was pretty dead. Nothing was really hit into foul territory and I was starting to lose interest in my position. So I ran up into the left field bleachers to see if I could get one of the Angels to throw me a baseball.
That was the scene on the field from foul territory. I’m telling you. It was dead. The Angels seemed to ignore all the fans and the hitters in the cage were just hitting lazy fly balls to center field. Boo!
Once I got up to the left field bleachers, Ervin Santana, Bobby Abreu and Dino Ebel came out onto the field. Dino Ebel was hitting some fungos to Abreu and Santana was kind of just shuffling around. There were a group of college kids to my right and Zack Hample was to my left. I was pretty much sandwhiched in the middle of competition. But I didn’t give up hope. In fact, I just let the college kids do all the work. They were desperatly calling out to Santana and Abreu for a baseball. And by the way. When a player is fielding fungos from a coach he isn’t going to toss up every ball he catches. He has to return that baseball to the coach so he can keep practicing. It got real annoying that these college kids kept calling out to Bobby Abreu everytime he caught one of the baseballs hit to him from Dino Ebel. Anyway. After about five minutes of them shouting, Ervin Santana reared back and launched a baseball in their direction. I just had a funny feeling these group of young men were going to miss the baseball. I slowly started to make my way over to them while the ball was in mid-air and as soon as it tipped-off all of their finger tips I ran in and scooped it up. The ball landed one row behind them and it didn’t go anywhere. I thought it was going to roll down the rows but it didn’t. And the five college kids standing there just kind of stared at each other. So I ended up with the ball.
BP ended and I got some photo opportunities with Zack. If you are now just following my blog and you don’t know who Zack Hample is you can read all about him from my previous blog entry of yesterdays game.
This guy is really awesome, and really easy to get along with. So if you’re ever out and about at a Major League game and you see some guy running around trying to catch baseballs or standing with people holding up a book, that’s probably him. Go say hi and see if he will help you catch a baseball.
This was my view during the game.
And this was my row. If any foul balls came remotely close to me they would be mine. Sadly, nothing came remotely close.
But I did get Peter Bourjos’ autograph AND a picture with one of my favorite Angels, Erick Aybar. Check it out.
During the 8th inning on my way to the dugout to snag more baseballs I passed up a kid with his dad that was kind of looking bummed out. I knew he was bummed about not getting a baseball, but he still had his glove on. I could tell he really wanted a baseball and since he was wearing the same Angel gear as me…
…I hooked him up. Thanks to his Dad for giving me a non-working email address so I couldn’t get the picture to him. Oh well. Maybe I’ll run into them at Angels Stadium or something. The Angels are coming back to Seattle in a month or two so maybe I’ll see them then. Anyway. It was awesome to hook that kid up with a baseball. His face instantly went from sad, and depressed to excited and happy. He thanked me like three times. So that felt good.
The Mariners lost 6-3 and I wasn’t able to get anything after the game. I quit trying the umpire tunnel just because I’ve been having absolutely no luck there. I feel it’s a wasted opportunity when there is so much going on at the dugouts after the game.
Game; June 14th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $67.45 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $28.25 this
I was really looking forward to this game. For a couple of reasons; the Los Angeles Angels were in town for a three game series and I absolutely love to watch Bobby Abreu play baseball, and Zack Hample made the trip out from New York to come to Safeco Field. This is his tenth stadium he has visted this season. If you don’t know who Zack Hample or Bobby Abreu are then I will graciously enlighten you. Bobby Abreu is the Angels DH and left fielder. He is also a career .296 hitter with 277 home runs and a bunch of RBI’s. He’s also know for his plate discipline.
Zack Hample is the author of three books that I have read cover to cover. (One of them twice!) He wrote How to Snag Baseballs at Major League Stadiums, Watching Baseball Smarter, and The Baseball. You don’t really need to buy his first book because the other two books have brief chapters of how to snag your own baseball at a game but the second two are a must buy. Watching Baseball Smarter is my favorite because it’s like Zack pulled the curtain back on Major League baseball games. Have you ever wondered what is said on the mound between the catcher and the pitcher? Or why all the infielders come in sometimes to catch the conversation between the catcher and the pitcher? And why does the umpire join them as well? Why does the base coaches never stand in the designated box that they’re supposed to stand in? Zack goes in depth of the who, what, whys and hows of the game and answers just about every question you’ve ever dreamt up. Its amazing. And his third book, The Baseball is basically about the eveolution of the baseball. How it came to be what it is today. He even made it inside the Rawlings factory. The media isn’t allowed there but somehow Zack Hample made it in.
That’s Zack Hample posing next to his infamous pyramid of baseballs. Pretty amazing, huh.
Those are his books. So check them out. They’re totally worth it. Even if you’re not a geeky baseball nut like me you should at least check them out so you’ll have a better understanding about the game.
So that’s why today’s game was going to be so awesome. My two favorite people under one …er..open or closed dome. (Safeco Field joke)
I arrived at the stadium around 1pm and I wandered for quite a bit. But on the centerfield side of the stadium you can peer into the stadium and kind of watch batting practice. I found it odd that the Angels, well some of them, were out hitting baseballs at 1pm. So I stuck around and watched. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if a baseball was hit to me while I was standing here outside the stadium?” And sure enough. I don’t know who hit it but it was launched and I watched it in the entire way. It smacked off the pavement and bounced in my direction. Unfortunatly, it clanged off some stair railings and then bounced off the brick wall beside me. Some Roots Sports guy was walking around and he almost got hit by the ball. I quickly perked up thinking I have a chance to get the ball from him. All I had to do was ask. And he hooked me up with it. Time check; 2:45pm. The gates were set to open at 4:40pm. Wow. I managed to get a baseball OUTSIDE the stadium nearly two hours before the gates opened.
In the picture above you can see the Root Sports guy yapping on his cellphone after he hooked me up with a baseball.
And here you can see the baseball as it kind of got stuck underneath the gate. It felt really good to snag that baseball and I actually hung around trying to find more. Usually the cardinal rule when it comes to baseball players and hitting BP home runs is that they get into a groove and launch maybe one or two more. But maybe this one was just extra special.
When Zack finally arrived at the stadium it was about 4:30pm. Since his leg is all busted up from spraining his ankle a couple of weeks ago, him, myself, Josh and his girlfriend were all permitted to enter the stadium via the handicap gate. I felt bad for Zack because he couldn’t move like he wanted to, and I could tell it was very frustrating. Plus the pain he must be in. But I give him his props because he is one dedicated dude. He’s not just shagging baseballs for himself. He’s doing it for the charity foundation he is involved in. It’s called Pitch in for Baseball. Just go to www.ZackHample.com and you’ll find out all you need to know. Once inside it was kind of every man for himself at that point. We all hung around the centerfield area for a while, and Josh got Greg Halman to toss him one but at the same time someone launched a deep drive that nearly made it over the fence. Josh nearly got drilled so he didn’t end up getting the toss up from Halman. I didn’t see the baseball either but neither of us really expected it because the Mariners rarely go deep with any BP home runs into the center field area.
After the staircase was open we ran down into the third base area to find any loose baseballs. There were a couple but I got beat out by some kid. So I took my routine spot at the third base protective fence. It was easy pickins’ down there too once the Angels came out onto the field and started taking some cuts in the cage. I had to sprawl way out but I caught a slow roller that made it just passed the fence and into my glove. I didn’t hang around the area too much longer because BP was about to end plus there were a lot of kids that were starting to wander around me. I didn’t want someone to get hurt because I either missed a baseball or because I moved for one and someones’ kid was underneath my feet. It happens. So I moved up to the foul pole area.
I caught another one up there on the fly. It was hit directly at me so I had a pretty good bead on it. I didn’t really have to move to my right or my left but I bashed my knee pretty good on the fencing when I leaned over the railing to make the beautiful catch.
After that I quickly made my way down to the dugout to see if I could get any toss ups from the Angels pitching staff but it was slim pickins’ down there. Lots of kids, and a few Angels fans. Plus I really wasn’t in a good position to catch anything. After BP ended we all huddled up for some photo opportunities with Zack.
I know. I probably could have smiled more. But I wanted to look tough. From left to right; Ginny, Josh, Zack, Max and me. Between the five of us we snagged nearly 20 baseballs. And of course Zack outsnagged us all. But that goes without saying. He’s been at this for like, 20 years.
We stood out in the bullpen for the majority of the game and it nearly paid off. I almost caught a Vernon Wells home run. The ball carried deep into the bullpen, and I thought it was going to land on the grassy part. But it didn’t. It landed on the dirt mound and took a wicked hop towards the fans. Of course nobody had a glove on so it got passed everyone. I had a shot at it too but I misplayed that bounce so badly I ended up taking a bad route to the baseball. Once the baseball squirts loose it doesn’t last long before someone gets it.
The Mariners lost the series opener 6-3 thanks to Vernon Wells hitting TWO home runs.
Game; June 13th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $65.50 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $27.50 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
As soon as I walked into Safeco Field there was a deep drive hit by one of the Mariners that was headed towards the Mariner’s bullpen. The ball actually cleared the bullpen and landed inside the ‘Pen area. It took a nasty bounce off the walkway, ricocheted off the back wall near the team store and then started rolling towards the stairwell that led up to the rest of the stadium. Since the ball was rolling away from me I really didn’t have a chance. My buddy Josh, who also has an account on www.Mygameballs.com , was trying to run it down. I watched the entire thing play out and it looked like some stadium employee was going to beat him out. I was kind of shocked to see a stadium employee trying to chase a baseball while a fan was trying to get it. But in the end, Josh got the ball. So it all ended well.
When I was premitted to enter the rest of the stadium I was racing down the sections towards the front row and a sharply hit line drive nearly took my head off. It bounced into the seats and bounced right back to me. I made the easy catch. It kind of reminded me when I was at AT&T Park and a ball smacked off the seats right back to me. If you want to read about that you can here. I’m really enjoying those lucky bounces.
This the view of where I stood to play foul balls. It was a really good spot and there were hardly anyone else at the stadium during BP. So I pretty much had the whole front row to myself.
See that security guard standing there? He’s a new guy. And he totally sucks at being the new guy. More on him later though. Here is a closer look at him.
Within the next twenty-minutes a bullet was hit right at me. It took one bounce on the dirt and I was able to snag it off the bounce. It came in so fast and smacked right into my glove. The small crowd behind me started to clap and I gave them a quick curtain call. It was kind of cool. I figured after that catch people would start to filter down beside me. But no one really came over. Then Jeremy Hellickson missed a throw from his throwing partner and the ball sailed into the seats. Some guy with his son picked it up and then Jeremy started yelling into the infield for someone to throw him another baseball. The guy offered the baseball to Hellickson but I didn’t see him throw it to him. So I offered my baseball as well that I had caught earlier. Hellickson told me he would throw it right back to me. So as I was pulling the ball from my bag, Jeremy tossed me one. I bare-hand caught it because I took my glove off to get a baseball from my bag. After I caught the ball I thanked him but I didn’t realize it belonged to the guy next to me. He started to put up a fuss and I asked him if it was his. I immediatly gave it back to him and he extended his hand for a handshake. I was a little embarrased for him because of how he overreacted and I explained to this adult that I wasn’t trying to take his baseball away from him. As the conversation took place a baseball was hit towards us and it bounced off the screen into the first row. I was able to bobble it enough to keep it in front of me and scoop it up. I wanted to give the ball to his son but because of the nasty attitude at first I decided to hold on to it. David Price came out of the dugout and tossed him one anyway. And then later during BP they got another one tossed to them by Jeremy Hellickson.
Josh and I decided to stand near the dugout towards the end of batting practice. Josh got J.P Howell’s attention and even got him to toss a baseball towards us. I thought Josh was going to go for it, and Josh thought I was going to go for it. It kind of reminded me when an outfielder and an infielder are both chasing after a towering pop-up and with all the crowd noise, and running towards it, both calling for it, and then at the last moment we both hit the brakes and it plunks down in front of us. That’s kind of what happened. The ball bounced off the padded wall and rolled back onto the field. And wouldn’t you know. Remember that security guard I showed a picture of earlier? He came over, picked up the ball, gave us the evil eye, and tossed it to some autograph hound. I.Couldn’t.Believe.It. J.P Howel was cool enough to toss us another one and I made sure Josh got it this time.
I wanted to get a couple pictures with some Tampa Bay Rays. I was really surprised when David Price stopped to sign autographs. So I took that opportunity to meet him and get a picture with him. He was really cool about it while laughing and joking with the crowd. Here’s the pictures that I got with David Price. (Courtesy of Josh)
Here are a couple pictures of David Price signing autographs with me trying to get into position for a picture. It was hard because there were like a million people trying to get his autograph. So I had to just be assertive otherwise it wouldn’t of happened.
Here’s one more.
Those are kind of some “behind the scenes” pictures for your viewing pleasure. After BP Josh and I headed out of the stadium to get some gormet hotdogs. If you ever come to Safeco Field make sure you get one. We got the Edgar Dog but they also have Buhner Dogs, Griffey dogs, and Felix dogs. They’re so tastey. The hotdog stand is located out in front of Qwest Field. And those tastey numbers look like this.
That’s just the basics the hotdog comes with. They have a whole table full of things you can put on your hotdog. From hot sauce, to spicey mustard, to ketchup, relish, and pickles. The list goes on and on. There is no extra charge for the goodies either and the hotdog is about $4bucks. While we were eating Josh showed me the baseball that he caught after it took a nasty bounce off one of the seats. Here’s the result of that.
Yeah. That’s a small hole that somehow the seat put into the baseball. I don’t know where the ball hit on the seat but that is pretty amazing.
The Mariners went deep four different times. Jack Cust went deep, Justin Smoak went deep and rookie Carlos Peguero went deep twice! With all those home runs not one came even close to me. The Mariners dished out 8 runs and Felix Hernandez struck out 11 to beat the Rays 8-2. It was a pretty awesome game.
When I got home I made sure to thank David Price via Twitter for the autograph. Here is his response.
|David Price (@DAVIDprice14)
6/2/11 11:17 PM
No problem! 1.2.3. Cheeeese RT @MLBwayneMLB: @DAVIDprice14 Thanks for the picture today at #SafecoField
I sincerely appreciate it.
Game; June 2nd 2011 Tampa BayRays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $50.95 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $25.75 this
Today’s game marked my 100th game that I’ve ever been to. I wanted to make today’s game as special as possible and definitely one to remember. So let me rewind to a day or so ago. As you all know this past weekend was Memorial Day weekend. I traveled to Coors Field in Denver Colorado for the first time to see that awesome ball park. You can read all about it here and here. Needless to say I wish I picked a different stadium but I’m glad I went because Coors Field marked my ninth stadium I’ve snagged a baseball in. Anyway. Most of you that read my blogs know that I served in the United States Army for ten years. So I qualify for veteran status. I also have a Twitter account. (You can follow me @MLBwayneMLB) Well, Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles was giving his thanks to veterans via Twitter. Here’s the conversation we had.
5/30/11 7:24 AM
special thanks to all who have protected our freedom, past and
And of course here is my reply.
And to my surprise I got this reply within the hour.
|Zach Britton (@zbritton)
5/30/11 9:22 AM
@MLBwayneMLB Look for me out on the field before
The problem I faced was it was 9:30am in the morning. The game I was going to attend to play catch with Zach Britton wasn’t until the following day. Nearly 24 hours later. Would he even remember? I made sure to send him a couple more tweets in the early afternoon the day of the game to try and keep things fresh. I mean let’s face it. I had my doubts. He’s a big league ball player and has a ton of things on his mind. Although he wasn’t starting in the next couple of games so the pressure was off. But still.
When I got to the stadium it was all I could think about. How was I going to get his attention? Did he even remember? Should I have brought a sign with me that said something like, ” Im the dude that asked to play catch.” or, ” Army Veteran Tweeter.” Something. Anything to get his attention. But you know what? I didn’t have to do any of that. Because he did remember. Well, let me tell you how it all happened.
I ran inside the stadium when the gates opened and I immediatly lined up at the stairs and waited until 5:10pm. Once the horn blew I raced up the stairs, ran down into the seats and quickly searched for any loose baseballs. Nothing. (The ushers now place them in the cupholders to make it harder for myself, and my buddy Josh to get them) I ran over to the dugout to see if I could find Zach Britton (he wasn’t wearing a BP pullover) and I easily spotted him in the crowd. Here’s the picture I took and see if you can find him.
Do you need some help?
Once I found him I kind of just followed him along the third base line to make sure I would be able to line up behind him while he played catch on the field. My objective at this point was to allow him to get whatever he needed to get done without being too overly obnoxious. A lot of these pitchers have routines that they follow before every game, and then they go shag baseballs in the outfield. So I had to wait until he was all done.
After Zach Britton was done warming up, his catch partner wanted to throw some pitches. So Zach ended up being kind of the “baseball guard” for him. Any baseballs that were hit towards that area Zach would scoop up. Here is a picture of Zach on guard.
I knew at this point that I had limited time and I would have to get his attention somehow. Every once in a while Zach would look over his shoulder to look at the pitches and then he would watch the batter in the cage. I counted the seconds inbetween everytime he looked and then looked back to the batter in the batting cage. He only looked over his shoulder a few times but it was roughly about 8-10 seconds in between looks. So after the second time he looked over his shoulder I counted down from ten. When I reached one I held up my glove and sort of flapped it at him. At that very moment he looked over his shoulder and noticed me. He nodded his head in acklowledgment and fielded the next baseball that came his way. Since he was throwing all the other baseballs into the infield that he caught, I knew he had remembered when he hung onto the recent baseball he snagged. And before I knew it, Zach Britton was enroute towards me.
When he was walking over I turned my camera on and clicked it to video. I pressed “record” and asked this dude that was sitting next to where I was standing if he would please record our conversation. This is the video he recorded.
He recorded the dialogue but I guess he didn’t hear me right or understand what was going on or maybe it was the fact that he was already two beers deep and just sat there like a dope. I’m not sure what happened but he ended up just pointing the camera at his pants the whole time.
Basically some fan wanted to play catch with a baseball player and ended up getting hurt by the ball. Zach explained to me that since they’re filing a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, the players aren’t allowed to play catch anymore. But he did hook me up with a baseball and I thought that was pretty much the end of things.
I played the front row for any slow rollers or line drives and I came up with one more before batting practice ended. As the Baltimore Orioles were walking off the field I decided to try and get a picture with Zach Britton before he walked off the field. I waved him down and as he was walking my way he was telling Brian Matusz to come over and meet “someone”. (That someone being me) They both came over and this was the outcome.
I got to shake hands with Zach Britton (again) AND Brian Matusz. It was such an awesome experience. I had so much to say and so many questions to ask them both but I just couldn’t find the words. I mean, I didn’t just stand there like an idiot. It was just so overwhelming though. Zach stared at me like, “Hey, man. This is your time to ask us whatever you want.” But all I could come up with was, “Where can I send this picture to? The Baltimore fanclub?” I felt like such a dope. By that time fans were coming down to try and get autographs from them so that kind of diverted their attention away from my dopey-ness. It was so awesome to meet them.
I spent the rest of the game in the ‘Pen area and at the end of the game I was denied a baseball from the police officer that patrols the Orioles bullpen. A few baseballs were left behind and I was beat out by some old dude that asked for it first. The Mariners ended up winning due to a Justin Smoak home run that landed deep into the right field seats. Had I been sitting there? I probably would have ended up with the baseball. But security was being extra cautious due to five fans running out onto the field during the Mariners/Yankees series. So I wasn’t about to try and sit where I wasn’t supposed to. Not for a while anyway.
Game; May 31st 2011 Baltimore Orioles vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $46.00 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $25.00 this