The World Series is happening right now. And yes I’m very excited for both teams. Since I won’t be attending any World Series games due to lack of free schedule this fall my baseball season as concluded. But on a rather high note, I must say. I started this baseball season with the intent to attend nearly one hundred baseball games. Well, that didn’t happen. I attended roughly 53 games. But I did travel to a few new baseball stadiums like, PETCO PARK, AT&T Park, The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Angels Stadium and Coors Field. I never did make it to Sun Life Stadium or Tropicana Field like I had hoped this year. Sadly, Sun Life Stadium won’t be used as a baseball stadium next year. But the Marlins are getting a new stadium called Miami Ballpark and it should be epic.
I did, however, turn my baseball hobby into a charitable lifestyle. Last year I attended 37 games and snagged 87 baseballs. Mainly at Busch Stadium. And I did travel to Kauffman Stadium a bunch of times, I visited U.S Cellular in Chicago a couple of times, I even traveled to Cincinnati to see Great American Ballpark. And let’s not forget my trip to Texas where I watched game six of the ALCS. That was so awesome that I’d like to return to the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at least one more time. This year was one of the best seasons I’ve ever had. Mainly because I met so many awesome people who I’ll probably be friends for life with now. And, like I mentioned before, I started a charity project.
If you’re new to my Facebook page or new to reading my Tweets on Twitter then this blog entry that you’re reading now will do you some good. It will explain in detail how my charity works, how you can help and what I’m exactly doing traveling to different stadiums in the U.S like a mad man. And I’ll even hit on some future projects I’d like to start.
First and foremost this season was awesome. I attended 53 games and snagged a “career high” of 135 baseballs. You can check out my baseball snagging statistics here if you want. (I haven’t entered in the last game I attended yet) Anyway. That website that you just looked at breaks down my individual stats along with many other Ballhawks that chase baseballs during the season. As you can see I have an important streak going for myself. I’ve attended 98 games consecutively where I’ve snagged at least one baseball. To me that’s pretty impressive. Well, sorta. It’s actually very easy to catch a baseball at a Major League baseball game. Just ask Zack Hample. This dude is amazing and a very nice guy. He came to Safeco Field on his quest to attend all 30 Major League stadiums and snag at least 1,000 baseballs during the season.
So with all that information you’ve just took in I sat down one morning and asked myself how I could make snagging baseballs at stadiums more exciting and at the same time how could it help the community of Seattle. Since my home stadium is now Safeco Field I thought to myself, what am I most passionate about. Dogs and baseball. (Sorry, ladies.) And since I am so addicted to baseball and have an undying love for dogs…Snagging Baseballs for Puppies was born! I contacted the Seattle Humane Society via email and presented my idea. immediately they loved the idea, I was emailed some paperwork, and then the season started! The problem was that in order for this all to work I had to rely on neighbors, friends and family to pledge an amount per baseball that I’d snag at games. Here’s how it works;
I go to games and snag as many baseballs as I can. (my game high is like, eight) I blog about every game so people can read how I snagged them and picture evidence is also provided in the blog entry, and you as the readers email me and tell me how much you want to pledge per baseball that I catch. Now some Ballhawks have certain rules that they follow on catching baseballs. Me personally? If I catch it and it’s an Official Major League baseball AT an Official Major League Stadium, it counts. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter of it bounces off some kids face into my glove or if it bounces between two fans and lands in my cup of soda…it counts. I used to count only the baseballs that I went home with. But what about the ones I give away to kids? Or military veterans? Those count. I even caught a baseball OUTSIDE Safeco Field this season! Peter Bourjos hit a BP home run into the party deck and it bounced all the way to the gates where I was standing. That happened I think on 6-13-2011.
When you make a pledge it’s also very simple. Unless you’re rich you want to keep your pledges in the cent range. Like, .10 cents a ball or .25 cents a ball. Because at the end of the season when I rack up my total and I’ve snagged 135 baseballs and if you’ve pledged $3.00 a ball..well…that’s $405.00 big ones. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. I’m just saying try to keep your pledges realistic. Because who knows. I could go to a game and snag twenty baseballs and if you’ve pledged a dollar amount that you won’t be able to cover at the end of the season that looks pretty bad on your part. And if you don’t want to make a pledge you can just make a flat rate donation of $10.00. That’s the minimum that Crowdrise.com will allow. I have nothing to do with that. And yes I think that’s rather high. But I also understand that you can pay with a debit/credit card and I think the banks charge them a certain amount per transaction. I don’t know how it all works.
I think I’ve pretty much covered everything. So in conclusion I’d like to thank all that have pledged. Dorothey, Jennifer, Zack, Bronson, Kathy and Robert, thank you all so much for your pledges. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to those animals that the money went to, to try to help enrich their lives that much more.
And for those that just dropped a donation that is very much appreciated too. I couldn’t thank you all enough. Carla, Charlie, Ryan, #GirlsCorner, and a couple anonymous donations. I hope I got everyone. Together we raised over $200 dollars! And that is just amazing! This is the email I received from the people at the Seattle Humane Society.
Great job on your fundraising efforts! Thank you for your support of the animals at Seattle Humane! We’d be honored to be part of your project again next year. I will let you know when we receive the donations.
So there you have it, people. I’ll be at it again next year and hopefully, as a group, we will be able to raise more than $200 dollars again! That’s the goal, anyway!
Now that I’m back traveling to different baseball stadiums around the United States my charity has picked up again. If you didn’t know or are just browsing my blogs and are interested in more information about my charity I will provide the links that you can click on to check it all out. But allow me to explain a little bit about it first before you get all click happy. I’ve been going to live baseball games ever since I was nine years old and my very first baseball game was at the Kingdome in Seattle in 1989. Since then I’ve always wanted to catch baseballs at stadiums. Well, growing up I never really got the opportunity to do so. But in 2004 things really changed for me. It was during my first tour of Iraq when I was in the Army and I came home on Rest and Relaxation leave for two weeks. My friends in Kansas City had tickets to a double-header Kansas City Royals game. I didn’t really catch the baseball but an usher/security guard hooked me up with one when she found out that I was home from Iraq. Later I got the baseball signed by some Royals baseball players.
Since then I’ve made it a priority to travel the United States to see baseball games at different stadiums I haven’t been to yet. I’ve been to Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, AT&T Park, PETCO Park, Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Coors Field, Kauffman Stadium, Busch Stadium, US Cellular, and Great American Ballpark. Last year was my first playoff game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. This year alone I have been to five new stadiums. PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Oakland Coliseum, Angels Stadium of Anaheim, and Coors Field. And if everything works out for me I plan to get to Sun Life Stadium AND Chase Field this year. And maybe one more round at AT&T Park. I love that stadium so much. I’d love to catch a ball out on the Cove too. So anyway. This year I wanted to do something extra special WHILE doing my thing at baseball stadiums. Since 2004 Ive snagged 194 baseballs over the course of the years and this year alone I have snagged a career high of 97. I hooked up with the Seattle Humane Society and I was like, “Hey, I snag baseballs at Major League baseball games. How about if I find people to make a pledge per ball that I catch and at the end of the year tally up all the pledges and donate a ton of money to you guys..?” And they were like, “Whoa Wayne, that sounds awesome! Sure! We’d love to support that!” And I was like, “Okay, cool! I’ll go buy a ticket to a game and get to work!” Well, so far I’ve raised $160.00. That might not seem like a lot of money but think about how much money you spend on YOUR dog every month. $160.00 of other people’s’ money goes a long way at an animal shelter. Plus all the other things I’m bringing down there. Blankets, cans of dog food that I’m buying with my own money, (and yes I’m pledging money to my own charity as well) and an assortment of toys too. So if you want to get on board here is the link you can click on. Click here. Also if you want to follow me on Twitter you can click here. And if you want to follow me on Facebook you can click here.
I put the next stadium on my list on my sights and headed out. I landed in Orange county California around 11am and took a $40 dollar cab ride to my hotel room. Just for your information, (and I normally don’t do this) but I stayed at a Motel 6 when I went to Coors Field on 5-27-2011 and it was probably the worst experience of my life. Not only did I have to pay $5.99 for internet that barely worked but people were constantly coming and going all throughout the night. The actual room itself had that lingering cigarette smoke smell which just made me sick every time I went inside. Well, I stayed at a Motel 6 again when I arrived in Anaheim. The room was a lot better but I still had to pay for internet. $2.99 this time. That’s not the worst part. I couldn’t check into my room until 3pm! I had one bag of luggage that I had to leave behind in some back room and then I took a $10 dollar cab ride to the nearest Denny’s. But Denny’s milkshakes always makes things better.
When Angels Stadium of Anaheim came into view I took this photo…
…it was a glorious sight. Angels Stadium of Anaheim. My first time being here. I expected it to be really hot but it was really just a cool 85 degrees. As I ventured on I started my exploration of the stadium. Did you know that this stadium was built in 1967? That is a ton of baseball history folks. Seriously.
Right field gates. The area surrounding the stadium reminded me of PETCO Park when I visited there on 6-24-2011. All the green palm trees and lush vegetation. It was almost like a theme park. Oh wait. Disney land is right up the road! No wonder!
When I walked further around the stadium I found the back entrance where the baseball players entered the stadium. Of course there was a small group of people asking for autographs and sharing stories of how they got their favorite player to sign. There is always a group of people like this at every stadium. But since there was so much dense vegetation hiding the players parking lot the autograph hounds had to get creative.
Pretty sweet, right? Maybe the plants are like that because so many autographs have been signed that either the players or the autograph seekers just naturally broke plant branches away. Or maybe the grounds crew trims the bushes like that. Who knows. I continued my walk around the stadium..
The giant halo statue. But that’s as close as I got to it. I continued my stroll around the stadium and ended up at the front office. The door was wide open so I walked inside to find the lovely secretary taking phone calls at the desk. We talked for a moment but she was entirely too busy to field any of my questions. Instead I took some photographs of the front office. Take a look…
…and here’s a staircase that leads to Angels heaven…
Before I left I made sure to ask the secretary for some rubber bands. I had forgotten some before I left Seattle and I was frantic about it. Rubber bands are key for the glove trick. I didn’t know what I’d be up against at Angels Stadium so I wanted to get my hands on some rubber bands before batting practice started. And whaddayaknow! She had some!
When I finally made it to will call to pick up my tickets I was so hot and tired, (mainly from lack of sleep) that I decided to pull up some bench and catch a cat nap. It was just after 12pm anyway so I had boat loads of time. I think I slept until about 3pm. I felt energized and ready to snag some baseballs! The stadium didn’t open for another two hours so I found a comfy spot by the gate, out of the sun, out of anyones’ way and just relaxed. Being in Anaheim for the first time was really cool. I still couldn’t believe I was here. I would consider moving down here but I think I’d miss Seattle too much. I love Safeco Field.
The front of the stadium looks just like a movie set from Hollywood. With all those oversized baseball bats and oversized baseballs it definitely had the Disneyland theme going on there. But it was unique in a way. It wasn’t like the other stadiums. Of course being built in 1967 how could it be like all the other new stadiums? I couldn’t wait to get inside!
Here is me, me and me standing outside the stadium…
Isn’t that just the best picture ever? My Dad made it for me. Well, I didn’t really come up with the idea until after I boarded the plane to head back to Seattle…and now I wish I would have done different poses to make it look cooler. But it’s still cool. My Dad, in my professional opinion, is a pro photographer. He really does some quality stuff and if you want to check it out all you have to do is click here.
After my nap and after clowning around with my camera it was time to enter the stadium. I was so stoked. I didn’t have a game plan because, well, I’ve never been here before. I thought about following the crowd. But the problem with that is from a baseball snagging standpoint you want to go where fewer people are. So whichever way they went I’d go the opposite way. When the gates opened at 5pm sharp I bolted for the turnstiles. The security guard scanned my ticket and the crowd took a hard left towards the first base side. I took mental note that the Angels were on the first base side. Why else would a mob of Angels fans go that way? So I took a hard right and raced down the concourse for an open tunnel to enter the field level area. As soon as I found one I darted in and raced towards the dugouts…but I was stopped by security. Great. What stupid rule does Angels Stadium impose on their fans today? The security guard asked for my ticket and I just knew I wasn’t allowed down by the dugouts unless I had a ticket for that section. Even during batting practice. I hate these rules. It’s so anti-fan. It makes baseball less fun. Why not allow all fans to wander the entire stadium? Who cares? I was told by security I could enter the field level seating area at section 130. I knew she was going to say something like that so I snatched my ticket back and ran away before she really could explain anything to me. I’d figure it out on my own if anything.
When I got out in right field Tyler Chatwood was fielding the majority of the baseballs. He never once looked up at anyone or paid anyone any attention. And he’d pass the baseball off to Fernando Rodney and he would throw the ball in.
The base walls were about 5 feet high so there would be no leaning over the wall and making an easy scoop. If I wanted a baseball I’d have to literally hang upside down to scoop one up. In the next picture take a look at how high the walls are here at Angels Stadium…
Not only the high walls a major problem but the bright sun was in my face. Any home run ball or any foul ball that came my way I’d have to look directly into the sun. But incidentally enough the bright sun actually helped me. An older gentleman came wandering over and stood on my right side. Bobby Cassevah continued his warm-up tosses to his throwing partner, and then as he finished up he fielded a ground ball that came his way. People were calling out to him and at that time I had on my Twins hat. I was kind of kicking myself for putting on the hat prematurely. But to Bobby Cassevah it made no difference. He tossed the baseball right to me but the glaring sun was so bright I just stuck my glove out, closed my eyes, and hoped it would make it to me. This was the result…
…it was stamped with a “practice” logo on it which meant it was made in China. Still pretty cool. I don’t think I have a baseball with that particular stamp on it. I do have plenty of “practice” baseballs though.
I decided to circle the stadium and take more photos now that the pressure was off of getting a baseball. I really only wanted one. Just to say I caught a baseball at Angels Stadium. Mission complete. I went out into the outfield to check out the action. It was dead except for a few Angels Stadium regulars. When the baseballs clear the outfield fence in centerfield there is a security guard by the name of Patrick. He collects them all up and hands them off to various Angels Stadium regulars. I tried to get one from him but since he didn’t know me it wasn’t going to happen.
There’s a picture of Patrick. Notice where he is walking too. When baseballs land on that area they really spring-board off of it and into the seats. It’s really a lot of fun to try to run them down after they bounce. And in the result of that I took a hard spill into the seats when Jim Thome sliced one my way. It landed about where Patrick is standing and bounced over my head. I leaned way to my right to try to catch it but I lost my footing and went down onto the seating row. It hurt so bad and I thought I had maybe bruised a rib or even cracked one. It turned out to be just a minor scratch that ended up turning into a major bruise. And I didn’t even get the baseball. That was one of the two things I wanted to do while in Anaheim. Catch a Jim Thome home run ball either from BP or during the game. Jim Thome has so much power. It was a lot of fun watching him drop bombs to both sides of the stadium.
I went back over to the first base side to watch some of the Twins warmup and maybe snag an overthrow or two. When I arrived the woman in the below picture got nailed by a foul ball and when Alex Burnett came over to see if she was okay she immediately asked for an autograph. I thought that was pretty funny. Alex took the time to sign a few and then wandered off to shag fly balls.
If I would have been there a few seconds earlier that would have been my second ball on the day. And I may have been able to save the woman from getting hit by a baseball too. As Alex was signing Mr Jim Thome came out to stretch and do his pre-game routine. I think he came out just to get a crowd reaction. And he got one alright. People were begging for his autograph. He never once looked at the crowd or responded to one request.
He didn’t stay out long and then it was back into the dugout. Having almost caught a baseball off his bat moments ago only made this moment that much more special for me. I even called out to him that I would be the guy that would catch his 600th career home run. How true that was? Probably not very. He’s not an everyday player anymore either. So it would be a miracle to see him hit number 600 while I was here in Anaheim. But that’s why I came out.
After batting practice ended I would usually fight my way down to the dugouts to try to get one more baseball. But since Angels Stadium decided that only fans with those tickets should be allowed by the dugouts I didn’t bother to even try. I probably could have made it but I still wanted to watch the game. Getting kicked out of the stadium before the game wasn’t my thing. I went and found my seat instead and waited for the game to start. When it did here was my view…
Front row seating in fair territory! There was no possible way I wouldn’t end up catching something while sitting here! I think it was about the third inning when Peter Bourjos launched a deep drive right to me. I stood up as soon as it was hit and I watched it reach its apex. I thought to myself, “Wow! Here it comes! My first home run ball!” But the baseball continued to climb and fall deeper and deeper. I knew it was going to go deeper than my row so I turned and started to climb the stairs after it. But at that time fans just poured out into the staircase in front of me and I was blocked by kids. I made a lame attempt at trying to catch it but it landed two or three rows farther back. I waited for the bounce but it was a clean catch made by the fan that caught it.
Around the fifth or six inning Denard Span launched one nearly in the same spot but it bounced out of the guys hands and landed down in the tunnel area where the on duty cop chased after it and gave it to the nearest fan. And after that the Angels made a pitching change. So I snapped this photo of Vernon Wells hanging out.
The Angels were absolutely stomped by the Twins. They lost 11-4 and Jim Thome wasn’t even on the roster. I have one more day in Anaheim so I hope I’ll get to see him play.
Game; August 3rd 2011 Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $156.85 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $38.50 this
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
After surviving yesterday I figured I’d come back for more. I actually didn’t have a ticket for this game but yesterday while I was waiting on friends to arrive I was complaining about how I didn’t have a ticket to Saturday’s game and I also mentioned my charity. If you want to read about my charity all you have to do is click here. Anyway. So as I was complaining a nice guy at the front of the line told me he is a season ticket holder, and he had an extra ticket for tomorrows game. I quickly asked him what he wanted for it and we agreed on $20 dollars. That’s a bargain price considering it was a premium game and all the cheap seats were sold out. Without hesitation I took the deal.
Twenty minutes before the gates opened this is the size of the crowd.
Once inside, everyone of course, was crammed onto the party deck. Toss-ups were out of the question so I immediatly left and took my spot at the stairs near the bullpen and patiently waited another 20 minutes to be allowed into the rest of the stadium. The only highlight I have to report is that Brandon League tried to hook up a fan that was calling for a baseball but missed it. I don’t know how he missed it. It was thrown right to him. If it weren’t for the huge hoards of people trying to inch their way passed everyone in line I would have stepped out of line and made the catch. But instead the guy wiffed it, and the ball ended up hitting some little girl in the side that was in front of me. She, of course, started crying. I’m not sure she was actually hurt or it just caught her off guard. And then all of a sudden some lady standing by said, “You know what? She should get that baseball.” I have mixed feelings about these kinds of situations. That’s all I’m going to say.
5:10pm. The stairs were opened up and it was a rat race for the best spot in the stadium to catch a baseball. I knew standing on the baselines wasn’t going to work for me. Even if a foul ball was hit directly to me it would be hard to catch because so many hands, kids, gloves and whatever else would be going for it. So I wandered the rows for a little while looking for any overlooked baseballs, and then I took a comfy spot behind the manual scoreboard. If anything, I’d be able to glove trick a baseball out of there if someone were to drop a toss-up or boot a catch. And it wasn’t long before that happened. A baseball came in and a fan reached out to make the catch and dropped it. Unfortunatly, the baseball landed here.
Sorry for the blurriness. That baseball was nearly impossible to get. But I did have a backup plan to get it. I’d just wait until the scorekeeper came out and I’d ask them for it. I could have tried to get it but I didn’t want to risk it falling down underneath the scoreboard. Where the ball is sitting there is a small gap where the baseballs can fit and they fall down onto some walkway.
As I was taking pictures and trying to formulate a plan to get that baseball I looked further down behind the scoreboard and I spotted another baseball. It wasn’t there before. Someone must have dropped it. I assembled my glove trick, and then arrogantly asked any other fans if they were going to attempt to get the baseball. Everyone sort of laughed, and I shrugged my shoulders and asked a fan near me if he minded that I tried. He laughed again, and asked, “Will you get kicked out if you jump down there?” It was my turn to laugh…
The baseball was positioned right at the end of that long board laying on the floor. If you didn’t read about my glove trick incident at my last game attended, you should. Click here. Today I had a new and improved glove trick. No more of this easily breakable shoe string. I had boidegradable twine! Yes folks. That’s right. Twine. It doesn’t bind up, he doesn’t knot up, and it’s strong as an ox!
Once the Phillies came onto the field I tried really hard to get Cliff Lee to toss me a baseball. Unfortunatly, when he did, a crowd of teenaged kids were in front of me and when the baseball came close enough for me to catch it, it was easily deflected off of someones’ glove. The ball fell down into the bullpen where a cop scooped it up and tossed it to the nearest kid. Boo! And remember the baseball that was sitting behind the scoreboard? Yeah, it was still there. But now I had competition. A young kid came down to wait on the ball too. Fortunatly for him, he had tickets to be seated in the left field bleachers. I didn’t. So as soon as BP ended the security guards began their search to find people without tickets that were sitting in their sections. I had limited time. And then I finally gave up on the ball. The left field seats filled up fast, I was without a ticket, and securiy was extra tight. So I let the kid have the ball. I’m not sure if he got it or not but as I left the area five minutes before the game I saw the scorekeeper behind the scoreboard. Here’s a picture of the kid waiting on the ball. Kudos to him for having patience of steel.
And here is a picture of how crowded the ‘Pen area got.
The game was awesome though. Even though the Mariners lost 5-1, Dustin Ackley hit his first Major League home run. Which was pretty cool to see. So congratulations to Dustin on his first career jack. I also saw him hit his first Major League hit the day prior.
Game; June 18th 2011 Philadelphia Phillies vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $97.15 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.40 this
Game two of the four game set between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners. Thursday night the Mariners barely hung onto a vitcory with a 1-0 win. That was with Felix Hernandez on the mound. Tonights match up would be between Tyson Ross and Michael Pineda. Pineda seems like a strong starter for the Mariners so I expected a huge crowd tonight. But really, it was about average. So I wasnt too concerned. I figured batting practice would be a little heavy as far as competition but it really wasnt too bad.
Once inside I searched around for easter eggs but none were found. The Mariners jogged off the field about as soon as I got inside too. And the Athletics were somewhat late to start BP. So I quickly switched hats and ran over to the other side. Like I said. Not a whole lot of competition.
That was the crowd for about the next thirty minutes. Unfortunatly, niether the Mariners OR the Athletics managed to park any baseballs in any of the seats in the entire stadium. I was kind of surprised that the Athletics didnt hit more home runs during BP. They have Matsui, Pennington, Kouzmanoff, Willingham, and Crisp. All of those players have plenty of power. I guess they were working more on the mechanics of their swing than anything else. Coco Crisp put a few deep but nothing further than the warning track. He did slice one into the seats that took a ridiculous bounce off the stairs and pegged a would-be baseball chaser right in the face. I think it hit him in between the eyes. In the picture below you can see him sitting by the security guard filling out his personal information.
The next turn of events was so awesome. I moved down to the front row of the seats and really all I was waiting for was an overthrow from Bobby Cramer who was playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff. When they got done throwing the baseball back and forth I called out to Kevin to throw the ball to me. He was kind of standing there watching the infielders taking some fungos from Mike Gallego so I thought why not? He turned towards me and tossed the baseball to me. I made a clean catch and I quickly thanked him. Kevin started flapping his glove at me like he wanted me to throw the baseball back to him. I thought for a moment that he wanted to give me a different baseball or something. So I lobbed the baseball back to him. Then he pointed at me with his glove. So I got ready and he hurled the baseball back to me. Wow! Playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff?! I totally felt like I was 12 years old again playing catch with my ol` man. It was really cool! Some of the fans around me turned green with envy and started making remarks like; ” Wow, this dude is playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff.” And then I had an older couple behind me saying I better catch the ball everytime. I held back a smile. I wanted to play it Johnny Cool.
Kevin then zig-zagged the baseball back and forth in his hand at me which meant he wanted to throw some knuckleballs. I havent ever caught a knuckleball before and from what some catchers in the Major Leagues have said about catching them, well, theyve claimed its sometimes very difficult to catch them. He started throwing and if you have ever caught a knuckleball before, yes. They do dance around and flutter just like a butterfly. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me at first. My throws were a little off the mark partly because I was nervous and partly because I had my hoodie on with my backpack still on my back. But I think I threw some pretty sharp curveballs to him. After about five or six minutes of playing catch, he pointed at me with his index finger after he threw the baseball back to indicate that the ball was now mine and we were done playing catch. I thanked him again and I just watched him walk to the infield. Awesome.
I wandered around the stadium to the other side to watch the Athletics finish up their portion of batting practice.
Usually Mike Gallego stands on this side to hit fungos to the infielders. But he wasnt over here today for some reason. When the Athletics jogged off the field I quickly switched hats back to my Mariners and patiently waited for Adam Kennedy, Chone Figgins, and Luis Rodriguez to come out to stretch and toss the ball around. Chone Figgins has this routine he does. Let me break it down for you.
Assuming the start time is 7:10. ( Which it normally is except Saturday games. Saturday games are seemingly trending to 6:10 start times. )
6:30pm- Opposing teams batting practice ends.
6:35-6:40pm- Chone Figgins and Luis Rodriguez come out of the dugout heading towards the first base foul line.
6:40pm- Hoards of Mariner fans flood the front row seeking autographs from Figgins and Rodriguez.
6:40-6:45pm- Figgins and Rodriguez play a quick game of catch to loosen up.
6:45pm- Figgins motions to the autograph seeking fans an “In a minute” finger sign. ( No, he doesnt flip them off. )
6:50pm- Adam Kennedy comes running out of the dugout as Figgins is stretching. Rodriguez jogs back to the dugout.
6:50pm-6:55pm- Figgins starts signing autographs.
6:55pm- Adam Kennedy starts signing autographs and then quickly runs off the field with baseball inside glove. ( Good time to ask for it. )
6:55pm- Figgins runs off the field after Kennedy and tosses baseball into the crowd ( Figgins is very selective of who he tosses the ball to. )
Immediatly after Figgins tosses the baseball into the crowd I switched hats and darted over to the Athletics side of the stadium. Mark Ellis, Chad Pennington, and Daric Barton would soon emerge from their dugout to play a friendly game of catch right out in front of it. If you stand in just the right spot ( Like I did ) and as soon as they are done playing catch you can almost always count on Mark Ellis to toss the baseball to you. ( Which he did ) Ellis isnt selective or bias like Figgins is with who gets the baseball. Its more of a first come first serve basis. Which I like. So here is the picture breakdown.
Rodriguez and Figgins playing catch…
Then Luis Rodriguez comes over to sign some autographs…
Security moves in to protect Rodriguez from aggressive autograph collectors, and dangerous small children…
Adam Kennedy comes out of the dugout to start his stretch routine…
I forgot to mention that the Mariner Moose sometimes comes down this way too. So if you like socializing with mascots…
After the Mariner Moose runs by thats when all the action unfolds. Rodriguez is the first to run off the field, quickly followed by Kennedy, and then Figgins. So if you play it right you can probably come away with two baseballs down here. After that I took off towards the Athletics side where I switched hats and waited on Mark Ellis.
Here is Mark Ellis playing catch. He only throws anywhere from 5-7 throws and then he quickly returns to the dugout. So unless youre like, right there ( Like me ) you wont be able to get his attention. And security isnt that strict at Safeco like people say. You just have to avoid them and dont stand by them or anything. And if they ask if you have a ticket to be down in the area I just tell them Im taking pictures and Ill be gone before the game starts. Heres a fun fact; Mark Ellis is now tied for leading toss ups by players with Jonny Gomes and Todd Helton with three. Here is my full list.
The game was pretty awesome. Pineda put in some work and held the Athletics from scoring any runs. So did the Mariners bullpen. And Brandon League even collected his fifth save of the season. Thats quite impressive.
Game; April 22nd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $8.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $5.25 this season.
The Oakland Athletics were in town for a four gate set. I was pretty excited to see them. David DeJesus is one of my favorite players and I got to watch him a lot when he played for Kansas City. Now that he is an Athletic I will probably get to see him more. Also worth mentioning is Coco Crisp. Hes a very unique player with a very unique name ( His real name is Corvelli Crisp ) and last week he had a very unique hair style. Kind of reminds me of Oscar Gamble…
Unfortunatly for the Seattle crowd he had his hair braided. So no one got to see the big hair during the game. Maybe he will unbraid his hair again sometime during the season.
More big news. My charity project Snagging Baseballs for Puppies was featured on the Seattle Humane Society Facebook page! Check it out! I think that is really neat. I really do appreciate that and Id like to thank the staff that was behind making that happen. Its a good feeling to be able to help out. Since I love baseball and dogs so much, and I really dont have the time to own a dog myself I figured Id do the next best thing. So a special thank you goes out to the Seattle Humane Society and all those working hard to help out our furry friends. And a BIG thank you to those that have pledged towards my charity projects so far. It means a lot.
Once inside there werent any easter eggs to be scavenged. I guess the security guards are working extra hard to make sure any baseballs hit into the seats are thrown back onto the field. My competition was light but I continued to search for them anyway. You never know where one might be hiding. Ive found them tucked away under seats or in a seat…and sometimes a baseball will take a lucky bounce and end up in a cup holder. As I was looking around, Im not sure who hit it, but whoever did really mashed the ball about 15 rows up from the foul pole in foul territory. Maybe even deeper. I sprinted towards the area where it was hit and I had one other guy looking for it. All I heard was ” Its rolling down.” ” Its rolling down.” ” Its rolling down”. So I stopped hurdling seats and started to carefully walk down the aisle until I found it.
When the Mariners jogged off the field I started my way over to the third base side of the stadium. Thats generally where the opposing team starts to warm up. At least the pitchers do. There wasnt much going on except Dallas Braden missing a throw that nearly took out a blonde lady sitting in the first row. She was of course rewarded a baseball for her bravery.
Heres a picture of Brad Ziegler and Jerry Blevins who I lined up behind and hoped for an overthrow.
Jerry Blevins is the player closest to me. I didnt want to call out to him for a toss up this early because the Athletics were going to be in town for four games. So I had to keep an ace up my sleeve. Usually the players take the same spots on the field for pre-game warmups. So it would be pretty easy to get a toss up from Blevins. I got a toss up from him on Opening Day at the Coliseum. As batting practice continued I took the next picture to show how much competition was really there. As you can see in the below photo…not very much.
Down at the front of the row you can see a hulking man with long hair. He got two on the day and if you look further down the row you can see the blonde lady sitting down that nearly got pegged by Dallas Bradens throwing partner. As soon as I took this picture, ( I think Coco Crisp hit it ) there was a deep drive into foul territory. I turned to make a mad dash for it but some tall, lanky guy was standing right in my path. I was pretty much boxed in the row. The guy turned and I really expected him to give chase too. But he just stood there with his hands in his pockets in utter shock of how far the ball traveled. I felt kind of helpless.
As batting practice came to a close Gio Gonzalez was up the baseline from me signing autographs. I took this quick picture before he started running towards me.
What you dont see in this picture is by the screen that protects fans from hot line drives out of the cage were two baseballs sitting on the grass. Kind of like how I asked Tom Wilhelmsen for a baseball as he jogged off the field. Well, I used the same tactic with Gio Gonzalez. I asked really nicely and told him I appreciated it. He gathered up the baseballs and tossed me one and then another one to fan down the line. See? Without me asking for a baseball they would have just sat there for the grounds crew to scoop up and toss them in a bucket on their Gator as they picked up the batting practice equipment. So besides me getting a baseball another lucky fan got one too. It was a win win.
After batting practice came to a close I got some quick dinner and then contemplated my next move. Chone Figgins and Carlos Peguero came out to warm up, and Chone Figgins started playing catch with Adam Kennedy. I didnt even think to put on my Mariners hat ( I had switched to my A’s hat after the Mariners portion of batting practice had ended ) but If I did I would probably be talking about how I got my third baseball at this point. I stood around on the Mariners side of the stadium waiting on Chone Figgins and Adam Kennedy to get done playing catch.
That little black speck on the base line is Figgins glove. It also had a baseball inside of it. As Adam Kennedy ran off the field he looked right at me and I held up my glove. But he denied me. It probably had something to do with wearing my Athletics hat while asking. Chone Figgins also walked off the field and flipped the ball to a Mariners fan in the front row. Well, lesson learned.
After the National Anthem played I wandered back over to the Athletics side of the stadium and I tried to get Mark Ellis to throw me one but it seemed like he already had a fan picked out. The good thing is security didnt harass me at all. I think I was asked once If I had a ticket to be seated down in the lower box but I said I wasnt going to sit down here. I was only down here for pictures. Which was the truth anyway. Another good thing about Safeco is the crowd is so thin that you can literally walk through the rows from one side to the other. Instead of having to exit the seating area, walk up through the main concourse, and back down. Then you have to face security and all that jazz. So I just wandered carefully through the rows to get from first base side to third base side and vice versa.
Adam Kennedys home run was the only run of the game. The ball was hit about 10 feet to my lower left. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to check in to the game using my MLB At Bat 2011 application on my iphone. Had I been paying attention? I would have came up with that baseball. It would have been no question. Heres the video in case you want to look. Im in the white jacket walking down the aisle. I was trying to find the ball and then as I turned down the row I finally saw it. But it was too late. You can see me walking away in defeat. It was pretty sad.
After the home run by Kennedy I wandered around the stadium and finally went down into the ‘Pen. The security guards were right. Its just one big drunken party down there. Here are a few pictures I managed to take.
I think security had to tell two different guys to stop trash talking the players in the brief five minutes I was down there. Im sure security has their hands full in that area.
After that I went up to the home plate area. Since the Mariners had the lead and the A’s had one last shot at either tying the game up or scoring ahead, the game would end after the top half of the ninth if niether of those things happened. So I waited patiently for the first out to be recorded in the top of the ninth. Once the ball was in play and the second out was recorded I scooted passed security and started to make my way towards the umpire tunnel. Mark Ellis popped up to Miguel Olivo to end the game. As soon as Ellis made contact and I saw that it was a pop up I ran down to get a good position on the tunnel. About five other people started jumping seats into the Diamond Club to get closer to the umpires as they walked off the field, and security was right there to kick them out. Even AFTER the game you cant sit in the Diamond Club seating.
Ed Hickox started his decent into the tunnel and he handed one fan a baseball. I held my glove up for him to hit me but he disappeared under the tarp covering the tunnel. I stood there for an additional moment and it was like magic. All of a sudden a baseball appeared on the tarp. I quickly grabbed it with a bare hand. I really couldnt believe it. Some guy behind me said something along the lines of “Yeah, lets get four more baseballs.” Im not sure if thats what he said or if he did say it, Im not sure who he was directing it at. But anyway. Alls well that ends well.
Game; April 21st 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $7.60 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $4.75 this season.