A lot has happened in the last few days. I’ve received a ton of questions about that Ichiro look-alike guy that I blogged about on 7-29-2011 at Safeco Field. Apparently he interfered with a fair ball down the first base line a couple of games ago, got the baseball, gave it to a fan and then got ejected for doing so. You can probably find the video of it on the Mariners website under highlights. Anyway. I don’t know the specifics of what his intentions are or why he does what he does. He’s probably just another huge Ichiro fan. In Seattle we get a lot of street shows so I just lumped him in with the rest. Also in my blog entry on 7-29-2011 at Safeco Field I mentioned that I had met Seth McClungs mother. Well, Seth McClung contacted me and informed me that was not his mother. Here’s how I assumed it was. The woman started rambling on about how she had a son in the Major leagues and that he played for the Milwaukee Brewers. Or was drafted by them and was in single A baseball. So I googled all and any former and current draftees by the Brewers and Seth McClungs’ name came up in all my search results. So naturally I just assumed. Not the case. I do apologize for that mistake.
Here is the Ichiro look-alike grabbing the fair ball hit by Dustin Ackley…
…and then finding out it was a fair ball…
…and then being ejected…
…even Ichiro Doppelgangers don’t stand a chance against Safeco security.
Today’s game started promptly at 1:05pm. For that reason alone I wasn’t going to attend the game because I’m on a mission to snag 200 lifetime baseballs. I only need like seven more. Plus I have a streak of 85 consecutive games of catching at least one baseball at a game. Since there is a possibly that BP wouldn’t happen it makes snagging baseballs that much harder. But I went anyway. When I ran into the stadium at 10:40am I saw this…
Holy. Crap. That’s Jack Wilson, by the way, pitching to his son. Look at all those baseballs! Sure I’d get at least one, right? His son was even hitting them over the centerfield wall. And when he did so I asked the security guard if he could possibly throw one up to me. His answer? “I can’t give them away.” Whatever, dude. I hate it when those security guards lie like that. I’d rather be ignored then lied to.
By then the centerfield party porch started to fill up and Jack Wilsons kid wasn’t able to hit anything remotely close to us. But he did have some good pop. But I did see this…
I also noticed that the batting cage equipment wasn’t behind the centerfield wall like it normally would be on a 1:05pm game. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve attended afternoon games with batting practice before. But it’s not a normal thing. So when I noticed that the batting cage equipment was gone I quickly lined up at the stairs to be the first one down on the third base side. But then at the last-minute I noticed all the Mariner players lining up on the first base side. They all had gloves and baseballs too. You know what that meant? Long toss! I jumped out of line and ran to the other side of the ‘Pen and lined up at the other staircase. As soon as they let us go I raced down to the first base side and got behind Josh Bard and his throwing partner. As a result I nearly caught TWO overthrows simultaneously. One of them nearly bounced over the tarp and into the seats but it ended up being scooped up by a grounds crew member. He rubbed the dirt off of it and in mid-toss to me Josh Bard stopped him and took the ball back. Bummer.
But as soon as Josh Bard was done playing catch with the baseball he started to walk away and underhanded it to me. I had to jump for it a little though.
After that I ran over to line up behind Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips.
I still really wanted a baseball from Felix and I was thinking this is as close as it’s probably going to get this season. As soon as I walked up behind them Felix lost control of his throw and the baseball sailed into the seats. I yelled “Heads up!” as loud as I could and then chased down the baseball. Of course Phillips needed the baseball back and I happily tossed it to him. He then told me to “stick around” because he was going to toss me the baseball once he and the King were done with it. Awesome! That’s what I did. I “stuck around”. Sure enough after fifteen minutes of “sticking around” Phillips tossed me the baseball. Speaking of sticking around…the ball that Felix and Phillips were playing with was so rubbed up with pine tar my fingers actually stuck to the baseball.
I waited around for more overthrows that might have occurred for maybe another ten minutes and then I walked over to the third base side of the stadium to see if I could get one of the Tampa Bay Rays players to throw one to me.
Now. Pay very close attention here. Do you see the player standing way out in center field by the “Dave” sign? That’s Dan Cortez. He just got called back up to Seattle from Triple-A Tacoma. While I was standing around waiting for some more Rays players to come out and start throwing I noticed that Dan Cortez had tried to hook up a fan with a baseball. And guess what happened? Yup! The fan bobbled it and it dropped down behind the center field wall gap. I was all over that. I ran up the stairs, sprinted around the concourse, down the stairs into the ‘Pen area and arrived at the party porch in center field. I assembled my glove for the glove trick, lowered it down, scooped up the baseball and handed it off to the nearest fan. That was number three on the day. I even welcomed Dan back to Seattle and he gave me the “rock and roll” hand signal.
When James “Big game” Shields came out to toss the baseball around I switched back to my Rays hat and wandered down to the left field corner of Safeco. Of course the game would be starting soon and I was ready to be kicked out of the section at any moment. I was surprised when it didn’t ever happen.
After James was finished playing long toss he came over and started signing autographs…
…and then he signed some more…
…and then he took a break and caught some highlights on the jumbo-tron…
…and then he signed my ticket stub…
…and then we took a picture together…
…and then the Seattle Mariners went on to win the baseball game by a score of 3-2. And they only allowed one hit!
Game; July 30th 2011 Tampa Bay Rays vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $155.80 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $38.20 this
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