I’d like to start this blog out by saying some great things about Dan Uggla. Not only did he sign autographs for about 15 people outside of the stadium on his way in, but he also signed for about 15-20 minutes inside the stadium prior to game time. So Id like to pay some serious respect to Dan Uggla. He gives a lot. He also signed about 15 autographs AFTER the game as well. I usually get to the stadium pretty early so I witnessed a lot of the Florida Marlins baseball players walking to the stadium.
Renyel Pinto walking towards the stadium. If you want Marlins autographs, and youre ever in St. Louis they stay at the Hilton across the street from Busch Stadium. On sunny days most of them walk in. Renyel, and I exchanged “knucks” and parted ways.
It was a great day for baseball. I, of course, was the first one inside the stadium. The security guards opened the gates late, and the ticket checker guy with his electronic ticket scanner wasnt even turned on when the gates were opened. So that delayed me about 2 minutes getting down to my spot. But it didnt matter. The crowd was small. Once I got down to the third base line I started to scout for easter eggs. I looked up to see a young man dressed like he just came out of the trash can hollering at the Cardinals players that were on the field. He was yelling that he wanted a baseball. I watched for a moment as I took my time walking down to the railing, and then I continued my search for easter eggs. Moments later I heard one of the Cardinals say…
” Hey, you want a ball? Here you go buddy!” And then I heard the ever so familiar sound of a baseball clanging around against the seats. I looked over to the noise, and I caught a glimpse of the white gem bouncing around in the seats. What was going on? Was that meant for me? I looked around for a second, and nobody was really persuing the ball. I figured there were going to be a mob running the ball down. So I casually walked down the row, trotted up the stairs, walked up through the aisle looking for the ball. Once I found it, I looked back to the field, and then around me again. Wow. Too easy.
So batting practice was kind of a loss. Nothing really came my way. I got out hawked by a guy that came 30 minutes into it, and then really everything else was out of reach. As I was standing there I waved to Chris Coghlan a few times, and he finally acknowledged me. He held up a ball, and I waved for him to throw it to me. One hopper, and into my glove. Nice. I thanked him, and continued to play the third base side. Nothing was really going into the outfield anyway. Chris Coghlan was the National Leagues Rookie of the year last year. So it was a real honor to get a baseball from him. The rest of batting practice was pretty boring. I had two baseballs.
Dan Uggla came off the field after stretching, and started to sign autographs. So I capitalized on that since I only had two baseballs.
There were two Marlins fans behind me, and they were saying how much Uggla was their hero, and saying he was Superman in disguise. Hence the smirk on Dan’s face. He truly is a great guy. He talked with the fans, laughed, and joked, and made it really special for a lot of baseball fans. Really a remarkable guy. So I asked for a picture with Dan, and heres how it turned out.
The picture is really great. The fan that I asked captured the St. Louis Arch in the background, and Dan even put his hand on my shoulder. The guy is really short but he has massive hands, and arms. I mean, hes like an animal. It was great. He shook hands with fans, and I got my patented “knucks” from him, and moved on. Thanks Dan Uggla! You made my day!
So I made my way to my seat after the players were all warmed up, and were off the field. I sat on the Cardinals side, first base side about 20 rows up. Foul ball territory. But not one ball came remotely close to me. I only got up once to chase one, but it landed on the railing, and took a wicked bounce way to my right. No chance. The Marlins started beating up on the Cardinals about halfway through the game. Then it started to drizzle a little bit so I knew that people would start clearing out to go home. I needed that to happen, because I was going to get passed security, and get down behind home plate. I wasnt happy with two baseballs. It was time to break out, and try to get some work done.
By the eight inning, the Marlins were up 4-0. In the previous inning, Uggla, and Maybin hit home runs. So a lot of Cards fans were out the door. I made my move. I walked the concourse looking for a security guard that was just kind of hanging out. You see…at Busch stadium, all the sections behind home plate have red fences guarding them so you have to go through in a single file line. That way no one can get passed security if they dont have a ticket to be in those sections. Its really criminal stuff. But I caught a security guard that was engaged in a conversation with about five fans. They were all hundled around her like they were trying to help me out. A squeeze play! I made a break for it. I scurried in passed her, and headed on down the stairs, broke to my right, and sat in the first seat of the row. Feewww!!
” Hello.” Said a voice. I was busted. Damn!
” Hey…no I dont have tickets for this row. Sorry, Ill move.” I was defeated. I knew who it was. No one says “hello” in such a sarcastic voice than security.
” You can stay, just move back a row.” She said, and walked away.
So I did. I moved back a row. But now I was in the middle of the row. This was unacceptable. If anyone else showed up I wouldnt be able to hurry out of the row, and down to the dugouts. It wasnt minutes later, and a group of five college kids sat down right next to me. Damn!! I had to move. Security had already told me once not to sit here, but I had to risk it. I moved one row ahead. The row I had orginally been kicked out of.
” Listen..I already told you once. You cant sit in this row.” The voice said in minutes.
” Sorry! I wasnt trying to disrespect your authority. I just need a quick exit to get down to the dugouts to get a ball after the game.” I said.
” Well, you cant sit in this row. And you wont be getting a ball either.” She explained.
” Why not?” I chuckled.
” Because that rarely happens. Players dont give out baseballs after the game.” She said.
” Ill move. Im sorry to have troubled you.” I said. I gathered my things, and down the stairs I went. I sat two rows back from where the umpires leave the field. I couldnt believe that security guard! She really doubted my baseball getting skills. Unreal!
The game ended. Finally! I let the row clear out in front of me, and I moved down to the front. I called to the umpire, and two more people showed up. He nodded to me, reached into his side pouch, and delivered a clean toss right to me. I squeezed down on it, and tipped my hat to him. Gah! I still had my Cardinals hat on! If I were to get anything from the Marlins, Id have to ditch this Cards hat, and fast!
I started to make my way to the Marlins dugout, switching hats on the fly. I didnt care who saw me at this point. Make your comments, who cares. I was on a mission. The bullpen players were enroute to the dugout, and as soon as they got into ear shot, I started making hand gestures for them to throw me a baseball, and calling to them. Chris Volstad, and Leo Nunez both pulled their hands out of their jackets, and showed me they had no baseballs. Dang. Three it was. Oh well. I had a memorable picture taken with Dan Uggla, I sat in great seats, and I came away with three baseballs. It was a battle but I did it.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Florida Marlins May 19th 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Three