Inter-league play. Always my favorite time of the year during baseball season. NOT. I’ve never been a fan of inter-league play. For a bunch of reasons. But for baseball it’s probably something that will never go away. Now they’re talking about moving divisions around, making the playoffs longer and all this other hoopla. Truth of the matter is, it’s all about money. Did you know that this weekend alone brought out 1.6 million fans across baseball to watch inter-league baseball? Crazy, huh? Some series I’d love to see though. Like the Subway series, the Battle of the Bay (which I’ve already seen this year) and the I-70 series. Other than that? I really don’t care to see the Indians play the Astros. It’s not something I have my heart set on.
This morning I had a photo-shoot with a guy from the Snohomish Tribune. I had to take all of my 170 plus baseballs down to my old high school and have me and them photographed together on the baseball field. It was kind of cool because that’s the very same field Adam Eaton played on in high school. He graduated in 1996 from Snohomish High school, which was my sophomore year. If you aren’t familiar with who Adam Eaton is well I will tell you. He graduated Snohomish High school in 97` posting an 0.67 ERA for the team and went on to play college ball for the University of Washington. He was drafted by the Phillies in the 96` draft but ended up making his Major League debut for the San Diego Padres, May 30th 2000. He played with them until the 2005 season when he was traded to the Texas Rangers. From there he bounced to the Phillies, Orioles, and the Rockies before finally becoming a free agent. A lot of Phillies fan speculate that Eaton almost cost them the World Series in 2008 and didn’t deserve a World Series ring.
Here are a few pictures of Doug trying to figure out a good shot for all my baseballs.
And here is Doug trying to set up all of my baseballs for a good picture. He was explaining how he wanted to leave all the baseballs in the original pyramid formation but block out the yellow box lid and the other brown colored box lid.
…and here’s a picture of him setting up my special baseballs. You know, like the one I caught from Mark McGwire, my 100th lifetime and my first ever baseball.
I don’t know if I’ll keep my Mark McGwire ball in the cube like that forever. Eventually, as I collect more baseballs from iconic players I may just put them in a special box or a multiple baseball holder and label each ball with the specific players that either hit it or tossed it to me. In any case I doubt I will ever get another baseball from Mark McGwire ever again. And I surely won’t ever get one hit to me by him. So it makes it very special that I got one from him. And if you want to read about how I got one from Big Mac you can just click right here.
After the photo-shoot was complete, I loaded all my baseballs up in my car, jetted home, unloaded all of my baseballs back upstairs, grabbed my stuff, and chased off towards Safeco Field. Since the Phillies were in town for inter-league play I had to get to the stadium early. Plus it was Ichiro replica jersey giveaway night. So the stadium was going to be packed. I was also waiting on my buddy Josh and his small entourage to arrive with the tickets. The gates opened up at 4:40pm and they arrived at 4:38pm. Moments to spare. (I truly appreciate the hustle, Josh!) Once I got my ticket, got my bag checked by security, I raced inside to the center field party deck. The place filled up so fast. Before I knew it I was elbow to elbow with hundreds of people. And to make matters worse David Aardsma tossed some dude a baseball, it bounced out of his hands, smacked off his face, bounced off the shoulder of his wife, and landed down in the gap behind the centerfield wall. Now I had to compete for a spot to get that baseball. I probably excused myself a hundred times trying to get in line with it to glove trick it out of there. Once I found it I got my glove ready, and started to lower it down. Just then…my string broke. My glove fell helplessly into the gap. “Now what?” Said a voice.
I found the nearest security guard and told him I had dropped my baseball glove into the gap. He told me he couldn’t help me right now because he was too busy guarding his post. I’d have to wait. And I did wait. Even though the outside temperature was only 71 degrees, it felt like I was roasting under a desert sun. I was literally stressed out. I wanted to just forget my glove and go home. But I’ve had that glove since I was like, 16. And I still had a chance to get that baseball. After 25 minutes of standing there, and making minimal, pathetic attends to get a baseball players attention to toss me a baseball, I caught up with a security guard that was way more friendlier and way better looking too. Her name is Kim, and she is always so helpful and nice at the stadium. I told her my problem but I added that I was trying to get an autograph and I dropped my glove, my ball, and my sharpie into the gap. She immediately started towards the gate to help me but her supervisor, Melinda,(an equally nice security guard) cut her off and told her she had to go guard something else. I then had to explain my problem to Melinda. And she was equally compassionate and understanding. So can you guess what happened next?
Isn’t that the best picture ever? That’s not the actual baseball from the gap. That is a baseball I brought from home for good luck. And in case you’re still waiting on official confirmation that I got the baseball from the gap, yes. I did get it. Melinda brought it up for me. I couldn’t thank her enough.
I was finally able to assist my buddy Josh in the left field bleachers but he pretty much had things under control. I was just hanging around in case he missed one, plus he’s great conversation. We jib-jab about baseball, and who we think will make the playoffs…you know, guy talk. Josh reeled in four baseballs in this one spot in the bleachers, and got Jaime Navarro to toss him his fifth.
That’s Josh waiting for another BP home run. If you want to check out his stats on www.mygameballs.com just click here. He’s a really cool guy and we got kind of ran out of that spot earlier than we wanted because after Josh had snagged number four a lot of kids started asking him to stand there.
Like I said. The stadium was absolutely crowded. Full to the brim. No where to stand and nowhere to really run for anything. Here are a couple of pictures to show you just how crowded it got.
The front rows were packed. There was no breaking in to get close enough for a toss-up so I just chalked it up as a loss and let inter-league play win this round. I felt that coming away with one baseball was pretty significant especially considering I lost valuable time when I dropped my glove in the gap. Here’s the severity of that incident too. You see…while I was standing there dinking around with security…another 35,000 people entered the baseball stadium in that time frame.
Batting practice ended and the only thing left to do was to get close enough to Kyle Kendrick to get some pictures. He had a ton of family at the ballpark, (he’s from Mount Vernon, WA) so everyone was trying to see him, and he was doing his best to obligue everyones’ requests for autographs and pictures. I helped out Josh get his picture with Kendrick and that was pretty much the end of all the excitement.
My seats were awesome. Right on the aisle in foul ball territory. Josh’s girlfriend, Ginny has a friend that hooked us all up with these great seats from her work. And sitting here nearly paid off too. It was around the 5th inning when a foul ball was hit our direction. I stood up, made my way down the aisle carefully, and moved into position to catch the ball. I was worried that it was going to hit the cable that strung along above us to help support the screen behind home plate so I adjusted a few feet to my right. Unfortunatly, the beer vendor was ducking for cover right where I needed to be. The ball landed two seats in and I was on the other side of the beer vendor. Had he not of been there? Easy catch.
Game; June 17th 2011 Philadelphia Phillies vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $95.45 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.10 this
Today was going to be a busy day. I had an interview with the Snohomish Tribune at like, 4pm today, Zack Hample was still in town, and I wanted to get to the stadium kind of early to talk to him. Plus I was waiting on a very important phone call from someone that was going to set up a time to photograph my baseball collection for the newspaper. Oh, and then I had to snag a bunch of baseballs. The good thing was, I had on my lucky socks. So I knew everything was going to be okay. The phone rang about 4:15pm but I was totally fine with that because the crowd to get in the stadium was light, and for the first thirty minutes of batting practice I really didn’t expect much. Although, I’m setting a new goal for myself. I’d like to reach 200 baseballs before the All-Star game. I literally have about 7 games to do that in. The Mariners go on the road after they play the Phillies, and that following weekend I’ll be in San Diego for two games at PETCO Park, and then the Mariners come home to face the Marlins, Braves and Padres for three games a piece and then hit the road again. The problem with that is, its all inter-league baseball. Safeco will most likely be jam packed. Bad for snagging baseballs.
Anyway. Back to the interview. I talked with the reporter from the Snohomish Tribune for a good twenty minutes. It was a really awesome interview and I was pleased with my answers. I didn’t want it to sound like the only reason I come to baseball games is to snag baseballs, but that’s partly true. I do sit and enjoy the game though. Sometimes. A lot of the times I’m looking for that opportunity to catch a home run ball. But yeah. I do enjoy the game. I love baseball. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t go to the games. The phone interview didn’t last much longer because we got disconnected. Perfect timing anyway because the gates opened up at that very moment. I ran in to the center field standing room only but I was still trying to get a hold of the Snohomish Tribune to finish the interview. Later I receieved a voicemail with the final question and they graciously gave me the option to just hit them back on email. Awesome.
Greg Halman was the first to toss up a baseball. And I was trying to get Jason Vargas to toss me another one like yesterday. But instead I got the attention of a security guard.
…and I was on the board with one baseball just like that. I don’t know why he singled me out but I made sure he heard me thanking him. There are probably two very awesome security guards in Safeco Field and he is one of them. Most security guards are very bias when it comes to giving baseballs away. And the right field guards that sweep through the rows during BP acting like they’re wiping down seats pick up any loose baseballs and put them in their pockets. I watched it happen twice yesterday. But then some security guards will tell you that they aren’t allowed to touch the baseballs at all. “Just leave `em where they lie.” I overheard one guard say. I guess the rules are different throughout the stadium.
I stood at the staircase for ten minutes answering trivia questions from the security guard that was standing there. He’s a really nice guy and I’ve told him all about my charity. I even hooked him up with a business card. Have you seen my business card yet?
…how could you not want that? Its true beauty. The trivia questions really made me think. The first one he asked was when Major League Baseball registered all the players names by alphabetical order, who is the first baseball player on the list? I guessed Hank Aaron. It was David Aardsma.
Question two: What player was the first to ever sign a million dollar contract? I didn’t have an answer. The answer was Nolan Ryan. He signed a $1 million dollar contract in 1979.
Question three: What former Mariner drove in 141 runs in 1996? I said Omar Vizquel. The answer was Alex Rodriguez.
And the last question: In 2004, Ichiro broke who’s all time hit record? I said George Sisler. And that earned me a Tino Martinez baseball card. He had two of them and I didn’t want to take the Griffey cards because not only did I already have those but I wanted to make sure to let other fans get the good ones.
5:10pm. “Safeco Field is now open!” That’s what can be heard over the loudspeaker when all the other gates open up at 5:10pm. I used to stand at the right field gates like a dummy waiting for the gates to open. But an extra 30 minutes of BP by entering the center field gates? How could you NOT? I found two baseballs in the empty rows as I ran down in the third base area. I picked one up and when I found the second one I noticed a young Mariner fan walking slowly through the rows trying to find a baseball. I nodded to him and then pointed at my feet. Just then I remembered I needed to get the ball in my possession to make it count so I picked it up and handed it to the kid. That was number three on the day. I wanted to average four baseballs a game which would put me two passed #200 on the last game before the All-Star game. At this point I needed just one more.
BP was absolutely dead again today. Jared Weaver was the only Angels player to stay long enough for me to even have a shot at catching my fourth ball on the day. But this family with two little kids rolled up next to me. Even after I got Scott Downs to toss me one, it fell short and the Dad made sure to block me out. He gave it to his kid and then kept on about how he needed to catch one more baseball for his other kid. And if that didn’t happen then they could just go home and play with the dozen of baseballs they have at the house. And wouldn’t you know? When Jared Weaver got done playing catch he tossed his warm-up ball to them.
After that I really didn’t have a game plan. There weren’t any good spots that were close enough to any players to ask for a toss up. So I just wandered into the left field bleachers for a while. Here’s what I saw.
Can you see it?
But it was way out of reach. Zack, the book author I’ve been telling you about for like, two days, tried to use his crutches to get the baseball. But apparently there is a small gap where the baseballs can slip through and fall underneath the manual scoreboard. I don’t know where exactly they go, but they go somewhere. And not within reach anymore. That’s for sure. So after hanging out there for about 15 minutes asking for baseballs, and waiting on a BP home run, I ran down to the dugout to wait for some action there.
I thought I could get Tom Gregorio to toss me one but he wasn’t throwing BP today.
When BP finally ended I got the attention of Mike Butcher, and he hooked me up with my fourth ball of the day. Mission accomplished.
Here is the group of Ballhawks after our successful BP session. I’m pictured with three baseballs because I gave one away. From left to right; Max, Ben, me, Zack, Luke, and Hannah. Luke and Hannah are Max’s brother and sister and Ben is a friend of Max. They all have user names on www.mygameballs.com. If you haven’t checked out that website you should. Plus I just got an article published on there. I’m a monthly columnist. If you want to read my article you can click here.
I sat front row during the game and they were pretty awesome seats. I don’t normally buy seats that expensive or that close to the field because I’m going for a home run ball this year but I wanted to try my luck during the game for foul balls. Unfortunatly, nothing was hit my way. But I did witness Ichiro Suzuki swiping his 400th career stolen base and Mariners rookie Greg Halman went deep for the first time in his career. So it was a really memorable game. And to top it off? The Mariners won. Carlos Peguero hit a grounder that bounced off second base that scored two runs. Then of course the Halman bomb made it 3-1. Great game.
Game; June 15th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $80.05 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $29.25 this
Today was mother’s day. It was also another Little League day at Safeco Field. But I didn’t know it was another Little League day at Safeco Field. I assumed that was just a one day deal. But it wasn’t. To my initial shock I saw this when I ran inside…
Batting practice was nearly unheard of, of happening on a Sunday. Mainly because a Sunday game follows a night game so I was pretty excited when I saw the BP cage up. There were a few Mariners throwing in shallow rightfield and some Whitesox throwing the ball around in front of their dugout. But no real signs that batting practice was going to happen. Before they allowed us entry to the entire stadium the BP cage was carted off the field by the grounds crew. So much for my excitement. The first chance I got I ran all the way around the stadium to see if I couldn’t catch an overthrow from Tom Wilhelmsen.
Just as soon as I ran past the Mariners dugout to snap this picture I heard the ever-familiar sound of a baseball smacking into the seats. My feet stopped and I turned around to give chase even before my brain could register that a ball made it into the seats. I was even turned around before I could locate the baseball. I had a little help from a nearby security guard that was trying to point out which section the baseball was in. I knew it was on its way down to the front row. So I patiently walked towards the field looking in each row until I found it. Since it was Sunday and there was no sign of BP to happen plus it was Little League Day, getting that baseball took a huge weight off my shoulders.
I approached Tom Wilhelmsen as he continued playing catch and we exchanged friendly greetings. I was going to ask him for a baseball but I figured he saw me pick up the one near the M’s dugout so I saved asking him for another game in the future. When the Whitesox came out to throw the baseball around it was extremely tough to get their attention. Mainly due to this…
As soon as hordes of people starting walking around the stadium I knew that every single baseball on the field would go directly to a youngster. So I scouted for any opportunity to grab an autograph. And a picture.
That’s Angie Mentink. She is the Root Sports sportscaster for every Mariner home game and Seattle Seahawk games as well. She was really fun to talk to. We talked about her short stint with the Colorado Silver Bullets and I also got to share with her my charity for the Seattle-King Co. Humane Society.
I decided to head down into the ‘Pen area and get something to eat. Since it was Sunday I figured I’d try something new. I’ve never had a crepe before so I figured that would be a good option. Here is where I ate…
I bought the roast beef crepe and it wasn’t that good. Maybe it was just me but it lacked flavor. It was messy, and too juicy, and it wasn’t very filling. Plus I don’t like mushrooms and it came with mushrooms. The cheese wasn’t that flavorful either. If I had to rate this place I would probably rate it a three. (ten being the best and one being the worst) The price was average but I didn’t buy a soda there so that helped keep the price down. Instead I bought a soda at the Blazing Bagel and it was much needed to wash this nastiness down. Blegh!
I sat here for about five innings and then I moved down into the ‘Pen area…
When I stood by the Mariners bullpen I saw Jason Phillips (the Mariners bullpen catcher) doing this…
Jason Phillips is the Mariner standing in the middle of the three in the picture. He is also rubbing mud on baseballs. Yes that is genuine New Jersey Mud that he was coating on several baseballs. I watched him for about fifteen minutes rub mud on about eight baseballs. It was pretty awesome. I assumed a grounds keeper did that job or maybe the ball boys. But I never thought the bullpen catcher would be doing it. Maybe he was bored. But it was still awesome to see. Phillips also spit on his hands to get the mud wet prior to rubbing the balls down. So if you’ve ever handled a Major League baseball make sure you wash your hands afer handling one. Go here to watch the story about the special mud.
Aside from all that cool stuff, the Mariners were beat again. This time in extra innings. Brandon League took the loss after he gave up a couple base hits and Paul Konerko went 5-5. How cool is that. I thought about going after the lineup card just for that reason alone but I wanted to try to get one more baseball before the game ended. I didnt go to the umpire tunnel like I usually do because lately I’ve been getting shut down from the home plate umpire. So I figured I’d try something else. But I was denied by both bullpens too. How ironic.
When I got home from the game this was waiting for me on the counter…
Game; May 8th 2011 Chicago Whitesox vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $28.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $11.50 this season
Since yesterday was so successful I considered entering the stadium from the centerfield gates again. With no one even at the gates one hour prior to them opening I decided to pounce on the opportunity. Once inside I let the fans get Erik Bedard’s attention and I held up my glove when he looked our way. He threw the ball very low and it actually came close to hitting the top of the wall. So I had to lean way out and make a quick scoop for the catch. The Mariners were being pretty generous to us in the ‘Pen. They tossed up about eight baseballs in that thirty minute time span.
Right after I had caught the Bedard toss up the Mariners started to yell “Heads up!” And I saw Erik Bedard pointing skyward. The ball clanged against the railing and ended up falling down into the gap behind the wall. It wouldnt be as easy as assembling my glove for the glove trick to get the ball this time. The ball actually landed in the corner way out of reach.
In the picture above the ball used to be sitting in the corner. But I swung my glove out to knock it down and it ended up scooting behind the fence. You can barely see it but its there. So I wandered over to the nearest, most friendly security guard I could find and told them that a baseball was down in the gap behind the fence. Of course she didnt take my word for it and had to investigate herself. “Sure enough! There is a ball there!” She said. Yeah. I asked her how she would go about getting it and she told me she had to wait for the keys to unlock the gate near the Mariners bullpen. She then would climb down a latter and get it. As I was asking how that particular procedure went down there was a high drive deep to centerfield. The ball cleared the wall and landed in the grassy area behind the batters eye. I quickly ran over to the railing and waved my glove at the security guard. He hooked me up and I thanked him.
Once the security guard climbed down the stairs and got the bseball she asked if I had already gotten one. I told her I had and she gave it to the nearest kid. At about that time it was nearly 5:05pm. Time to line up at the stairs. As soon as the horn blew I was off! I sprinted up the stairs and ran down into foul territory searching for any easter eggs left behind by security. I found one by the wall and then I found another one tucked away underneath a seat.
As the Mariners left the field and as the Texas Rangers started to come out onto the field I quickly switched caps and found a nice cozy spot on the third base foul line. Taylor Teagarden and Zachary Phillips ended up playing catch in front of me. It wasn’t long before Teagarden missed the throw from Phillips and I was able to snag it before it broke my face. Teagarden waved for me to keep it since they were done anyway. I nodded to him in thanks and moved in behind Ryan Tucker and Colby Lewis. It wasnt but three throws later I got pegged in the left thigh by an overthrow. It didnt hurt at first so I just laughed it off. I figured they would at least reward me with a baseball for taking a Colby Lewis fastball to the leg. But no such luck. ( No, that’s not why I stood there ) At least now I can say I was hit by Colby Lewis.
As batting practice continued I could really start to feel the pain from the overthrow. I figured I’d have a huge bruise by the end of the game. My leg just throbbed all night and I even considered seeking out some genuine Safeco Field medical treatment. Im sure all they would give me would be an ice-pack and maybe some tylenol. As I was standing there some guy was on the phone and thanked me for protecting him while he was talking to his wife. It turns out that guy used to play in the Major Leagues. He was drafted in 1986 by the Atlanta Braves and played in the Minor Leagues for the Phillies for quite some time. I was never able to find any official MLB stats on him but his name is Ken Sirak. He lives in Beaverton Oregon now and Im pretty sure he runs a business. He mentioned a few times that he had clients that bailed on him so he had to come to the game alone. Anyway. I got a couple pictures snapped with me sitting next to him.
Here is another one…
It was really cool to talk to him about baseball. He knew so much about the sport ( obviously because he played for many years ) but we also talked about the steroid era. He played college ball with Lenny Dykstra and Jeff Kent and he told me those guys used steroids all the time. In fact it was just part of the game back then. Dykstra was an obvious user anyway.
The Mariners played decent baseball. Unfortunatly they lost with Pineda on the mound. But he struck out nine batters and FINALLY gave up a home run. Or two.
Game; May 4rd 2011 Texas Rangers vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $24.80 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $9.25 this season.
I totally forgot about the start time of 6:10pm. Which meant I got a late start leaving for the stadium. Which meant Id be stuck in Saturday afternoon Seattle traffic. Which meant I probably wouldnt be the first one at the gates. Which would probably cost me a baseball or two. So that sucked.
When I got to the stadium no one was there at the right field gates. It was about 35 minutes until the gates opened and I was shocked. Usually there is a small crowd by now but not today. It was in fact Easter weekend. Maybe people had better things to do than attend Mariners batting practice.
When I ran inside Jaime Navarro and Michael Pineda were in right field shagging baseballs. They usually stick the rookies in right field during batting practice because the more experienced players or the players with more seniority dont have to deal with the fans as much. Thats something you probably didnt know. Anyway. As batting practice continued there were a few baseballs hit into right field but nothing close. And since Jaime Navarro was with Michael Pineda I knew it was going to be nearly impossible to get a baseball from those two. Im pretty sure Jaime Navarro hates me. Ive spoken to him quite a few times and I usually get the cold shoulder. Mainly because Ive been saying his name wrong. I really didnt think about that until I started poking through a Mariners program left on a seat in the outfield. Ive been calling him “Jamie” and his name is pronounced ” Hy-may”. ( spelled Jaime ) Maybe he will forget my face and let by-gones be by-gones.
So as the front row slowly started to fill up with would-be ball snaggers, I dont know who hit it, but the ball was sliced gently over to the front row but didnt quite have the distance or the momentum to make it to me. I reached for it and of course the security guard had to give his two cents.
” I can’t give it to you, man. Ill get in trouble.” He said.
” Yeah, I know.” I said back. But what I wanted to say was this; ” Yeah, I know. You cant touch or pick up any baseballs because youll get in trouble or get fired. But as soon as a five year old kid comes running down here youre free to do whatever you want with the baseball. Ive heard it all before, bud. You dont have to give me a line. You can just say ” I cant give baseballs to adults.”
Of course when JAIME Navarro came walking over towards it and I asked him for a little help and he graciously waved at the security guard to just give me the baseball. HA! But you could tell in his face that he didnt want to give me the baseball. He was actually cringing at the thought. I politely thanked him anyway and wandered out of the aisle to let the others have a go.
When I got to the other side of the stadium ( It felt like hours had passed going from one end to the other ) the Athletics were coming out onto the field to start warming up. I wanted to line up behind Jerry Blevins and Brad Ziegler to try and snag an overthrow. The crowd was light so I actually had many options of who to stand behind.
The problem, as you can see, was the dorky, red-headed, security guard standing there. ( No offense to Red-heads ) He’d probably get plunked first before I caught any overthrows from Blevins. Not only that, anything down the line he would surely stick his weak little foot out to stop it from going any further. Most of those security guards have good intentions..if they’d just stay home.
Once the pitchers completed their warmup tosses for the evening I headed up the line some more to get a better angle on Hideki Matsui. Here’s a picture of him before I got closer.
After I got down there it wasnt long before Kevin Kouzmanoff walked over and started signing autographs. I easily got him to sign my ticket stub for the game and I thanked him for the awesome game of catch the day prior. He happily obliged and we parted ways. Moments later Brad Ziegler came walking by towards the dugout so I chased him down for a quick picture as he signed autographs for fans.
I climbed over a few rows of seats to get around in front of the dugout. Brad Ziegler has a great charity foundation called Pasttime for Patriots and since Im a military veteran myself I thought it would be awesome to thank him for his foundation. So I did just that and he smiled warmly at me. I also had two Army wristbands that I got while in the service that I wanted to give to him but I knew he was kind of in a hurry to get into the clubhouse to get ready for the game. So I held off on giving them to him. I figured tomorrow would be a better day since its a Sunday game and the baseball players really dont do a whole lot before the game.
After I could get in all the social activities with the Athletics I could around the infield I headed out to the outfield for some action. Unfortunatly I seriously picked the wrong spot. I was literally surrounded by little kids. Even though I had on my Athletics hat I knew that any time one of the players tossed me a baseball I would have the ever nagging urge to want to make a kids day. I didnt have a problem with giving baseballs away to kids but I also wanted to get my numbers up for my charities. I also got a picture of one of my favorite players, David DeJesus, hanging out in right field.
Everytime a baseball was hit to David this little girl would scream at the top of her lungs that she needed a baseball and that this was her first baseball game and that she’s never, ever, ever, ever gotten a baseball before and that she absolutely needs a baseball. Of course her parent(s) were no where in sight. She was just a lone renegade on a mission to get a baseball. Well, David DeJesus FINALLY threw one up to us. Luckily for me I caught it and I pointed at him in thanks. He pointed back at me and then kind of waggled his finger as an instruction to give the baseball to one of the kids standing around me. I made the mistake of pointing to the little girl beside me. David nodded and waved his glove at me. So I handed the baseball to the little girl. It did shut her up for about five minutes..but no one received a thank you. The little girl ran back to her Mother or Aunt or whoever was watching her at the time and happily exclaimed that she got a baseball. ” Did you say thank you?” The parental figure asked. ” Yes!” The little girl stated.
Now enter little girls brother. Literally crying tears and leaning on the railing claiming he will never get a baseball while the parental figure tries to calm him down made me cringe. If I got another baseball It would be my duty to hook this little kid up with it. But I refused to give a child their way because theyre throwing a temper tantrum or crying or whatever. When I was growing up I never got what I wanted by doing such. So I wasnt going to condone that type of behavior and reward it by giving up the next baseball. And Jerry Blevins came over to help DeJesus out. So I knew he would be throwing a few baseballs up into the crowd.
Now everytime a baseball came out to right field I got to hear ” My brother needs a baseball!” “Give that one to my brother! He really needs a baseball!” ” No, dont throw it in this time! Give it to my brother! This is his first game he has ever been to! He needs that baseball!”
I wanted to tear my ears off. Seriously. Her high ear piercing shrieks were giving me a headache. But there was a really good chance I could get a ball from Blevins. And the opportunity finally came. Blevins fielded a slow roller near the wall and I called out to him.
” Jerry! Would you toss that one up please!” I called out to him. Jerry looked at me and gave me one of those Johnny Cool upnods and then turned to fire it at me. He feigned the throw and then turned to fire it towards the batting practice ball bucket that was at the top of the diamond. Then without hesitation he turned laughing and pointed at me.
“Here you go!” He yelled as he fired me a strike. The ball slapped into my glove and I quickly pocketed the baseball into my pullover pockets. Yeah, I felt bad about the kid that was still crying. But the thing is…he didnt have any baseball gear on, no glove, no Mariners hat, nothing. He just sat there with his head down crying. He was making absolutely no effort to get a baseball. So I did the next best thing. I told him where and how to get a baseball. I explained Chone Figgins little pre-game routine, and I told him that just because Mark McGwire cried doesnt mean you can cry. There is no crying in baseball.
Finally batting practice came to an end. I was utterly relieved. My head was still pounding from all of those kids screaming. Since it was military appreciate day at Safeco I wandered down to the Mariners dugout to snap some pictures. It was so busy with photographers, and fans alike in that area the security guards didnt even bother to run fans out.
Here are some pictures.
After the ceremony and the National Anthem were completed, Chone Figgins started to head off the field and I quickly jumped all over that opportunity. Since there were a ton of people down in front of me and I didnt have a whole lot of room to run to get his attention I just started jumping up and down in the row I was in. He threw the baseball high and way to the right of me. So I had to reach way across my body, and stretch way out over the row of seats to catch it. I dont know if he intended to throw it to me or someone behind me but I ended up with it anyway. All I heard was ” Catch it! Here it comes! Get it! Get it!” and then when I caught it all I heard was groans of disappointment.
I sat in the outfield and ate a small personal pan pizza from one of the pizza places in the outfield. Gross. I think it made me sick to my stomach. And to make things worse here was my view for the first 30 minutes of the game.
The view was pretty bad. The sun was right in my face and I thought to myself that this would be the time when I home run ball was hit right to me. The time when I couldnt see. Aside from that, some annoying Athletics fan would say swing everytime a Mariner player was at bat and a pitch was thrown from the Athletics. It was truly annoying. The Athletics won 9-1 anyway. So after about a few innings of trash talking between the swing guy and some other Mariner fans, the Mariner fans were forced to end their trash talk when the Athletics started raking hits off Jason Vargas.
Game; April 23rd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $9.60 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $6.00 this season.
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.