Before I get into the Mariners game I wanted to share something else with my readers. Its been some time and I actually considered blogging about my experience but it wasn’t really worth it in my eyes. I attended my very first Minor League baseball game at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett Washington on August 10th. That’s where the Everett AquaSox play if you aren’t familiar with MiLB. Anyway, I went with my Dad and when we arrived at the stadium this is the first thing I saw…
It was either a home run ball from last night or maybe a batting practice home run from earlier. Since I went into the stadium at 5:30pm I assumed it could have been a BP homer ball. I wasn’t sure if in the Minors the teams had BP or not…but later I found out from another fan that the AquaSox didn’t take BP before this particular game. So the baseball is undoubtably a home run baseball from the night prior. And yes of course I was able to get the baseball in the above picture.
If you’re wondering what an official MLB baseball is doing in an official MiLB baseball stadium it’s because the minor leaguers get hand-me-down baseballs when they’re too used for MLB standards. Not all of the baseballs they use are MLB baseballs though.
The picture above is me holding to my very first baseball ever snagged at a MiLB game. I really won’t go into the details of how the game went. The Aquasox got beat up pretty bad in the fifth allowing the Tri-City Dust Devils to score seven runs. My Dad and I left shortly after the seventh run was scored by the opposition and on my way out of the stadium I snagged two more baseballs; one of which I passed off to a kid with his mother as they too were exiting the stadium. The two baseballs I snagged were foul balls and both of them have the Official Ball Northwest League stamp on them.
When I got out onto the party deck in the ‘Pen at Safeco Field the area filled up pretty fast. Before I knew it I had some serious competition. There were lots of people my age, young, and athletic that had baseball gloves on. But that didn’t stop me from getting my first baseball on the day due to someone elses error. Jeff Gray was in the outfield playing pretty deep and he got a lot of baseballs hit to him. It was only a matter of time when he would throw one up and when he did I would be right there to catch the bobble or the overthrow.
In the above photo I took of the party porch the guy in the light blue jersey with the red arrow over his head,(he didn’t really have that arrow over his head at the game) continued to call out to Jeff Gray who can barely be visible on the right side of the photo. You can see his glove. Gray finally acknowledged the requests for a baseball and at that moment when he fielded the next baseball he turned around to throw it into the crowd. I ran up and stood behind everyone waiting for a bobble or an overthrow. And of course Gray overthrew the entire crowd and I ended up catching the baseball. The guy in the light blue jersey back peddled into me causing a small collision but I held onto the baseball.
Brandon League has to be about the most awesome baseball player I’ve ever watched play the game. He’s hooked me up with a baseball before on 5-18-2011 at Safeco Field but I wanted another one from him. If you want to look at my complete list of all the players that have thrown me baseballs just click here. I was on the third base side when I got my first ball from League and that was pretty easy to catch. This time I was way up here…
…overlooking the bullpens and left field to be specific. That’s Brandon League fielding the baseball and this is the results:
Brandon League is on the right.
I went out to centerfield, or more like right center, and when I got out there I saw a ton of baseballs down in the gap. Well, maybe not a ton, more like five or six. I quickly put together my glove trick but I was abruptly stopped by security. He gave me the worst attitude and told me, “There ain’t no none of that around hurr!” and literally shoo-ed me out of the section. He then proceeded to climb down the ladder, retrieve all the baseballs and gave them all to kids. He’s the security guard I’m always complaining about that isn’t adult-friendly.
Kids have their whole lives to get baseballs. Why can’t these security guards be more selective of who they give baseballs to? And I’m pretty sure they aren’t supposed to be giving them away anyway. Most security guards that I talk to have told me they aren’t supposed to touch them. Anyway. I’ve ranted about these security guards so much in my blogs. I’ve battled them day in and day out at the stadiums. It’s always going to be like this and no matter how much or how little fans complain about them nothing will change.
I was hoping to get at least one more baseball to make it to 100 on the season. But after that incident with the security guard nothing else really happened. When the Blue Jays came out to stretch and throw the baseball around I did try to glove trick a baseball off the warning track. Jesse Litsch turned around and threw a baseball at my glove which knocked the sharpie out of it so I couldn’t get the baseball. He told me to stop because that was his “throwing ball”. Some fans were on my side and yelling at Jesse to just let me get it. But I stuck up for Jesse because I knew what he was talking about. He didn’t want me to have that specific baseball because it was used enough where he was comfortable throwing it. Some of the newer balls they practice with aren’t quite broke in enough. That helped the fans around me understand and they backed off Jesse. I think he appreciated that because he tossed a couple baseballs into the crowd to other people and not me. He did give me my sharpie back though.
The stadium was full of Jays fans…
The Mariners started to get beat up on pretty bad and by the fourth inning it was 0-4 Blue Jays. So I left. I couldn’t stand to see the Mariners lose on such a beautiful day in Seattle.
I’ve started a new blog too. Its called A View From the Bullpen. It’s really fun stuff to read. I’ve always wanted to blog kind of sarcastically about things that happen around the Major Leagues. You know, kind of give my “expert” opinion on crap? You understand, I’m sure of it.
Game; August 17th 2011 Toronto Blue Jays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $160.00 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $39.40 this
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
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
This is me. Relaxing, and getting into the zone at Busch Stadium. It was hot, and muggy. But I felt good. I was well hydrated, and ready for some foul ball action. As I waited for the gates to open I watched Arthur Rhodes walked right by me, and into the stadium. Most of the baseball players come in this entry door on Stan Musial Dr. Just for future reference if youre after a certain players autograph.
Just passed the memorabilia stand there is a set of double doors. They go in there. Anyway. So the gates finally opened up, and I raced down to the third base side. For some reason the players were slicing everything to the first base side. The majority of baseballs were going over there. I thought about going over there to shag foul balls, but I knew as soon as I did that they would start hitting them to the third base side. So I stood my ground. My decision paid off, and it wasnt just moments later when I hot ground ball came my way. I mean right to me. The ball took a nasty bounce, and hit me right in the wrist, and then trickled down into my glove but rolled out onto the dirt. I frantically grabbed for it, and reeled it in as other people were reaching for it. I usually field those pretty cleanly but this one kind of got away from me.
See the usher thats standing on the field? Usually he stands right in front of me. But not today for some reason. He didnt even stand remotely close to me. I also noted that he doesnt come out with his glove anymore, and he doesnt stop any ground balls that come towards the fans. It think upper management recieved a complaint that the ushers were interfering with batting practice too much. I would have to agree, and support the complaint or the decision to keep the ushers out of the way. Fans should know the risk theyre taking when they stand this close to the field during batting practice. In fact Ive seen more people hit by overthrows from players than actual baseballs off the bats.
It seems like I get more baseballs within the first two hours after the gates open when there isnt batting practice. Ive only been able to get one baseball during batting practice at Busch stadium, and Im really thinking I need to change up my strategy. I pretty much ignored the Reds as they warmed up, and a few overthrows happened but nothing went into the seats. I positioned myself behind Jonny Gomes, and his throwing partner to catch another overthrow while batting practice resumed. As I was standing there I ended up chatting with an older gentleman from Quad Cities Illinois. Him, and I talked probably the rest of batting practice, and I totally lost focus. But we were talking baseball. We agreed on a lot of topics like steroids, players salaries, what the players have to pay for, what they dont have to pay for, etc etc etc. I mean we talked it up. Before I knew it batting practice was over.
Before we parted ways he asked me where I was sitting, and I told him I had purchased cheap bleacher seats because I chase foul balls. He offered me the aisle seat in the row he was sitting at which was about four rows up from the field. They were awesome seats, and I got to sit there for free. I told him I had to have the aisle seat though. I explained my ball snagging stats, streaks, and just about everything else to help convince him to allow me to take the aisle seat. So I wanted to dedicate this blog entry to Charlie, and his wife Mary for allowing me the opportunity to sit with you both. Charlie is a Vietnam Veteran, and he shared something with me. He did four years in Vietnam with only a two week break somewhere in the middle of all of that. Can you believe that? Four years in combat with only a two week break. He also said he “sometimes” got weekends off. Wow. I thanked him for his service, and it really was a delight to sit next to him. Thanks again Charlie. I will see you in September!
Three foul balls came to my location. The first one was a hot chopper that bounced all over the place, and It was just out of reach as I ran to the railing. The second one ( if I would have stayed in my seat ) I would have easily grabbed. It took one bounce, and right between everyone sitting in front of me, and bounced right off my vacant seat. I was too busy running to the railing to snag it on the fly. The third, and final one rolled to the wall, and bounced off the wall which sent it rolling along the wall right to the ball boy. I didnt even get up to make an attempt. If I did I would have got that ball. I couldnt believe I didnt get up, and go get it!
So then this happened.
And then this started.
Thirty minutes later….
And guess what else? Scott Rolen still gives, and gets a lot of love in St. Louis.
So after making it through my third official rain delay of the season, mis-playing foul balls, and having an interesting conversation about baseball with Charlie I had to explain that I would leave these wonderful free seats for more baseballs. Charlie, and Mary were okay with that, and we made a deal to meet up again in September for the final series against the Reds. I was excited to meet such great people! So off I went to get one final baseball from the umpire.
I didnt waste any time. Security had their hands full with fans leaving so I took that opportunity to dart right through, and down into the large swarms of people. I could hear security calling to me but I ignored her. I quickly found a vacant seat, and slumped down in my seat. I broke out my cell phone, and pretended to make a call. Security of course came wandering down the steps to find me but I blended in. As the final out was recorded I quickly made my way to the umpire exit area, and got the home plate umpires attention. He tossed me a gem, and I was out of there. I didnt wait around for the bullpen players. I rarely have any luck with those guys anyway.
Superman was in town. Im not sure what kind of crisis was going on in down town St. Louis. But whatever it was Im sure he had it under control.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Cincinnati Reds May 31st 2010 3:10pm
Game Balls: Two
Okay so I seriously wasnt going to come to Busch Stadium today. It was raining all night, it was cold, and the weather was supposed to be bad all day. But when I checked Stubhub for tickets, I couldnt pass up these seats. I would be sitting right down where the umpires left the field, but 10 rows up all for a low, low price of $20 dollars. Someone was desperate to dump these seats. Well, Ill bite. Ill spend five miserable hours at Busch Stadium in the wet, and cold. All for the love of the sport. I knew batting practice wasnt going to take place. It was a 12:40pm game. It was raining on the way to the game. I was really putting my streak on the line. But I didnt care. Dan Uggla had made such an impact on my life last night at the game, and I was just so amped up when I got up this morning I had to do something. I had to go see the Marlins play again. Theyre a really great group of guys. Plus if Stan Musial can stand outside in this weather, I knew I would be okay.
I got into the stadium first. There were maybe ten people waiting in line. When I got inside I saw this, and I knew I had my first baseball.
The Marlin that is stretching out, well thats Josh Johnson. On September 7th 2008, Josh Johnson threw me my second baseball at Busch Stadium. With a crowd of 38,898. So youre saying to yourself; ” Well, thats cool. Now hes about to throw you your 48th?” No, Josh Johnson didnt hook me up with any baseballs. In fact, he took a couple laps around the track, grabbed his water bottle, signed a few autographs, and ran into the clubhouse. But the next turn of events are even better.
Check out this picture
See that black bag? Well, my friends, thats full to the brim with Major League Baseballs. I was the only person standing quietly behind the players waiting for my opportunity to get a ball. Meanwhile up in Big Mac Land, some obnoxious Cardinals fan was yelling down to the players to get a baseball. In the picture above thats Renyel Pinto on the far left, Coach St. Claire out in the distance with Dan Meyer. I dont know who the guy closest to me is. Okay so soon Brian Sanches came out. That same annoying fan in Big Mac Land kept calling down for a ball. The Marlins did their best to ignore him, and I dont blame them. So the player closest to me in the picture put on the catchers glove that was by the black bag. He got down in catcher position, and started taking pitches. Interesting enough I got in line behind them to catch any overthrows. My game plan was this; if I caught an overthrow I would catch it, and offer it back. That way the players acknowledge me as a fan that isnt greedy, or rude. If an overthrow got passed me or didnt happen, I would ask nicely for a ball, and make comments that they shouldnt throw a baseball to an unruley fan when they have a nice Marlins fan waiting quietly for a ball.
The ball came screaming in, bounced into the grass, and up into the stands. I was right there to snag it. Haha! I caught my first overthrow! I smiled, pulled the ball out of my glove, and held it up.
” Dan, do you guys need this back?” I shouted to them.
” Yeah. Just for a second, and we will hook you up, man. Thanks!” Dan Meyer called back.
I tossed the ball back onto the field, and nodded. I knew baseball players were good on their word when they said theyd hook a fan up. Well, most of them. I watched some more, and was smiling the whole time. Finally Dan Meyer got done, and Brian Sanches took position, and started throwing. Dan walked over, and started digging for a baseball. He pulled out a used, scuffed up, dirty baseball. Just the kind I like! He nodded to me, tossed me the ball, and thanked me for giving it back to them so they could warm up. You see pitchers are really kind of weird people. Dan Meyer was using a baseball that he was comfortable with. He didnt want to switch baseballs in mid-warmup because its all about mechanics, and being comfortable. If you watch baseball a lot, youll see pitchers tossing the umpire the ball, and asking for another one. Every ball is different.
It wasnt moments later that Brian Sanches was throwing me a baseball. I caught it, and thanked him. But I knew that he knew I had already gotten one. So before all the complaints came showering down on me from all the 15 fans behind me I held the ball up, and pointed to Brian to get his attention. He looked over at me, and noticed that I was the guy that already got a ball two seconds ago. I couldve kept it, I guess. But It was such a small crowd, and I didnt want to be a jerk about things. Especially to these Marlins. They were very nice. Brian Sanches asked if I already got a ball, and I nodded explaining that Dan Meyer had just tossed me one. I felt apart of the team though for about five seconds. I threw the ball back, and he tossed it to another deserving Marlins fan. The Marlins made their way off the field, and so I darted over to the Cardinals side. Knowing that the Cardinals are so stingy with their baseballs I had to try anyway. No dice.
Once I got to the Cardinals side I saw two more Marlins walking out of the dugout, and heading over to the left field corner. I did an about face, and beat feet back back over there. Changing hats back to Marlin colors I took position right where I was.
“Number 38! Throw us a ball!” Yelled some girls in the left field bleachers.
” Can I have a baseball?” Said a little girl with cotton candy in her mouth.
Oh boy. Kids, and girls. My worst enemies. But it was in my favor. Im the one that had the Marlins hat on. Im the one that knew these players first, and last names. ( Believe me it helps ), and I was the one that had the glove. Thats Burke Badenhop in the background ready to fire away. I was hoping for another overthrow. But then I was distracted by a gentleman to my right. He asked me where I was born. I told him Seattle. He asked me how I grew to like the Marlins so much. I told him Im a fan of baseball, and I like to favor the underdogs. He chuckled. I think he had an idea of what I was up to. But I didnt care. I wanted to get to my 50th baseball this game. It was important. Burke quickly finished up, and before I could call out to him the ball was enroute to me. Smack! Right into my glove. It kind of reminded me of how hard Alexei Ramirez threw me a ball. I thanked him, and moved on.
So I hung around the dugout for a little while. I conversed with the autographing group. They were all waiting on Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla to sign. I showed off my picture of Dan Uggla, and I. I am so proud of that picture. Here. Ill post it again.
Alright. Sorry. Moving on. Ramirez got done warming up, and decided a youngster behind me should get the baseball. So I let it sail passed me. I could have snagged it, and ran. But I didnt want to do things like that. So I waited for another opportunity. Bryan Petersen was all done warming up as well, and he came strolling towards the dugout. I had moved down to the baseline after being rejected by Hanley, and I asked Bryan if he would toss me the ball. He pulled the ball out of his glove, looked at it, and gave it a toss my way. Not much competition. I asked, and recieved. 50th!!! After that Dan Uggla got stretched out, and came over to sign some autographs. I said hi to him, and “knucked” him after he was done. Him, and Cody Ross warmed up, and Ross ended up with the ball. If Uggla ended up with it he would have thrown it to me. But Ross threw it to the same little kid that Ramirez did. I couldnt help but to laugh. I nearly got outhawked by a kid in diapers!
The Marlins took a thrashing. They were beat 4-2. I waited patiently for the umpires to leave, and they gave all the baseballs to kids. He looked right at me, but didnt toss me one. So I scurried to the dugout to wait on the bullpen guys. Nothing there either. So I left with three. But I got my 50th! Bryan Petersen! You hooked me up, man! Thanks!
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Florida Marlins
Game Balls: Four