I arrived at Safeco Field sitting on 198 lifetime baseballs. Well, not literally sitting on them but I have about 198 baseballs at home. Give or take a few from giving some away every once in a while. This is what I initially saw when I ran out to the party deck after receiving a very cool and stylish Seattle Mariners fleece blanket:
That’s Jason Vargas and Felix Hernandez. Vargas is on the right. I called out to both of them quite a few times and I finally got Jason Vargas to throw a baseball towards me. unfortunately, he either lost his grip on the baseball or just under/over estimated the distance and this was the result:
Can you see the baseball? It’s in the corner on the left side by the garage door lookin` thing. The ball actually bounced on the railing before it landed over there. The good news is Jason Vargas saw the whole thing go down, and he flapped his glove at me to let me know he would try again. The more good news is that the security guard on the other side of the fence also saw the whole thing and came over to get some other baseballs that were on the grass behind the centerfield wall.
I was very shocked when the security guard hooked up myself and another adult instead of every kid in the stadium. I was also shocked when five seconds later Jason Vargas whistled at me and tossed me another one. The ball in the picture above is actually my 100th baseball on the season, and the one Jason Vargas tossed me is my 200th lifetime baseball. In the Ballhawking world that’s quite a milestone. Eventually I’d like to make it to 1,000 baseballs. Since I already snagged two baseballs in under five minutes I figured I’d go chase down some loose baseballs in the seats. I headed over to the staircase and waited twenty minutes before the rest of the stadium opened up. All these people…
…were waiting in line to go up these stairs…
…and I, of course, was leading the way. Once the they allowed us entry it was a race to the top. And when I got to the top and scurried down some rows I found this:
How awesome is that? My 201st lifetime baseball. And my third of the day. And since I was already up here behind the manual scoreboard in left field I decided to play the corner. It’s always a pretty good spot mostly for toss-ups but the occasional home run ball also lands here.
Brandon League and Jeff Gray were both talking to a few WhiteSox players and Brandon League actually had a baseball in his glove but he was way too far away to call for it. I would’ve ran down there and asked Brandon for it but I had a better plan. Dan Cortes. He was also down there talking to some WhiteSox players and he also had a baseball in his glove. And the best part about it was him and I weren’t a million miles away like Brandon and I were. I knew I only had one shot at this and I had to time it just right.
As soon as Dan started to walk away I called to him. Of course he didn’t hear me right away so I called to him again. When he turned around I flapped my glove at me and he rifled a laser right to me. The ball hit off the tip of my glove, bounced once on the railing, bounced over my head, bounced twice on the seat arm rest behind me, some dude swiped at it, then it trickled down in-between the seat back and the actual seat into my glove waiting underneath. Feeeww! Talk about a close call! Or close calls! How many lucky bounces was that? Like, seven? Holy crap! I just stood there frozen as the ball bounced all over the place. I did have my glove trick ready to go, as always, so if the ball landed down into the manual scoreboard it wasn’t like I wouldn’t have been able to get it back. I was just worried that another fan would’ve grabbed it on one of those weird bounces. But no one ever got it and it never really went anywhere. I couldn’t believe it.
Do you want to read about another crazy bouncing baseball? You might as well continue reading. You’ve read this far. Okay, so after capturing my fourth ball of the day I went down to the third base side to maybe catch a grounder. This was my view:
The first baseball that came my way ended up here…
…and my competition was very little. Anything that can within my wing span would be gobbled up for sure. Ready for another crazy bouncing baseball story? The next baseball that came near me hit the fence that you can see in the above photo and then went up in the air, landed on the baseball that you can see in the above photo and ended up bouncing right to me. Can you believe THAT? The ball ricocheted off the fence, landed on the baseball sitting on the grass and ended up bouncing right to me!
Since batting practice at this point was drawing to a close I wanted to give away at least one baseball to the cutest kid I could find. I ran back down to the ‘Pen area and searched for the first cute kid I saw. unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of the cuteness but you could imagine how cute this little kid is. And the way he said “thank you” was even more cute.
The kid in the “Ichiro” jersey is the one I have the ball to. Lots of cuteness. Oh, and here is a picture of my 200th baseball.
Amazing. Simply amazing. I wandered around the stadium for a little while longer until all the players were off the field. I got this final picture of Juan Pierre getting his picture taken with a cute baby. See! More cuteness!
Safeco Field was full of cute babies today.
As for the Mariners game? Not so cute. The Mariners were beaten by a score of 4-2. Olivo went deep for the Mariners but Brent Lillibridge hit a monster two-run dinger to seal the deal for a WhiteSox win.
Game; August 26th 2011 Chicago WhiteSox vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $165.25 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $40.90 this
I think I can pretty much say that I regret not entering Safeco Field from the centerfield gates from the start. After all its an additional 30 minutes of batting practice. There is a potential to get at least one baseball before the rest of the stadium opens. Not only that but it basically gives me a birds eye view of foul territory. I can watch which security guards pick up what baseballs and who throws what back. Its an excellent advantage in any case.
The Texas Rangers were in town for a three game series. Josh Hamiliton was still injured but he was supposed to be taking some cuts in the cage during BP before the second game. Plus the Rangers had Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, and Adrian Beltre. All with great power. So I was predicting plenty of home run balls this series. Outside the gates before they opened I got to brag about my ball snagging stats for a little while to a father/daughter duo. The daughter claimed it was her first game and she really wanted a baseball. Isnt that special.
Once I ran inside I was restricted to just the ‘Pen area. But it was still pretty awesome to see these guys warming up in the bullpen. It wasnt long before I got Tom Wilhelmsens attention and requested a baseball from him. He threw it way to my right, and I had to reach across my body to make the catch. Unfortunatly, I didnt catch it and the guy next to me bobbled it and it went down into the gap behind the wall. Glove trick time! I quickly scanned for security to make sure they werent on the way to get it. I assembled the rubberband around the outside of my glove, opened my glove up with the sharpie pen, and quickly lowered it down towards the ball. I immediatly started to get “Ohhhs” and “Awwws” from the crowd. After realizing the rubber band wasnt on right I pulled my glove up and re-adjusted. Back down. And pulled my glove up with ball in tow.
In the picture above you can see Tom Wilhelmsen way out in the distance. You can also see the gap between the wall in the lower left part of the picture. Its quite a large gap and it usually does a great job of swallowing up home runs or dropped catches. Wilhelmsen did not see me pull up the ball out of the gap so on the next ball that HE caught he lobbed it my way. And I gave it to the girl that I met outside the gate. She politely thanked me. So that was a plus. And since that was a catch made by me I will count it in my collection.
At about 5:05pm I left the outfield area and went to line up at the staircase that led up to the rest of the stadium. At 5:10pm the horn blew to allow the rest of the fans to enter the stadium. I raced up the stairs and headed down towards foul territory on the third base side. I had watched a few foul balls land out there but I wasnt sure if the security guards were going to pick them up or leave them alone. On the first base side most of the baseballs get scooped up by security and later handed out to kids or thrown back onto the field. Well, on the third base side niether of that happened. Today anyway. When I ran over there I managed to find two easter eggs.
Then I lined up behind Pedro Strop and Darrin Oliver to catch any overthrows.
And it happened. It started to rain and Oliver and Strop seemed to be very sloppy in their game of catch. The ball took a sharp bounce and came at me. It dropped at the last moment and got stuck under the wall padding. I grabbed it and quickly offered it back to Strop. But he pulled out a second ball from his back pocket. On about the third throw, Strop overthrew Oliver. Oliver pointed at me and then Strop asked if they could use the baseball I had snagged from their first overthrow. I tossed it to them and then within three seconds a foul ball came crashing down in the section to my left. I dug it out of the seats and took my place back behind Strop and Oliver. Once they were done they tossed me the baseball. That would be my sixth baseball in less than an hour.
Some lady wandered over to me and asked how many baseballs I got and since Im not a good liar I told her I had four. ( I really had lost count when she asked ) She also asked if she could have the baseball I had in my glove. She went on about being my best friend and would do anything for it and blah blah blah. So like a sucker I gave it to her. Then she asked if she could have one more for her adopted Japanese family. She went on again about being my best friend and all this crap. I told her I would work on trying to get another baseball for her.
I went and stood in the outfield for about fifteen minutes and while I was out there I witnessed the lady I almost gave two baseballs to get one on her own. And to make matters worse when I was over on the first base side trying to get a Chone Figgins toss up she was over there with BOTH baseballs getting them signed by the Mariner ball girls. Ball girls? Are you serious? Or maybe they were grounds crew members. Im not really sure. So what do you call those types of people that Ballhawk from Ballhawks?
I tried to get a warmup ball from the Rangers out in front of their dugout before the game started but they ended up entering the dugout on the opposite side to where I was standing.
The game was actually very exciting too. Not only did Fransico Liriano throw a no-hitter for the Minnesota Twins but Erik Bedard was flirting with one through nearly five innings.
I hung out in the outfield seats for about three innings before I moved down into the ‘Pen area. It was less crowded and there werent as many drunks as I predicted there would be at todays game. I pretty much had the entire Texas Ranger bullpen standing area to myself. So if a home run ball did reach the ‘Pen it would have been all mine. Unfortunatly, no home run balls reached either bullpen. But todays game went really well.
I also got an article on MyGameBalls.com about snagging my 100th baseball. If youve been following my blog youll know I snagged that puppy at pretty much the end of the game at the Oakland Coliseum. I seriously didnt think it was going to happen. Heres the article in case you want to read it.
Can you identify this guy? He was at the game. Ill give you a hint; he plays rock and roll.
Death Cab for Cutie; Ben Gibbard maybe? Awesome.
Game; May 3rd 2011 Texas Rangers vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $22.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $7.75 this season.
A lot has been happening this week so I apologize that this Sundays blog has came so late. I will tell you about the game in a minute. I need to get some other things covered before we start talking baseball. First things first. My charity projects have been totally awesome. And thats mostly in part by my awesome fans that have pledged some money per baseball that I snag this year. So far I have snagged 26 baseballs this season and next week the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Whitesox come to town. So I am uber excited about that. ( First time using the word uber in my blog ) Also. A good friend of mine has put up $10 large towards Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. I think that is very thoughtful of him. So thank you, Ryan.
Something else I need to get off my chest. For years Ive had specific rules when I snag baseballs at games. One rule that Ive been sticking to is that I only count baseballs that I go home with. Well, on Saturday, David DeJesus threw me a baseball that I didnt count. But I caught it. Now we all know in professional sports if a player catches a ball and has positive control over it, its ruled a catch, right? Well, the same should go for me when Im snagging baseballs in the stands. I also looked back into my previous games and found that I had indeed caught a baseball, gave it away, and then counted it in my collection. It happened last year at Kauffman Stadium when I caught a career high of five baseballs. So naturally I should count the one thrown to me from DeJesus. Everyone agree? Good.
Oh, one last thing. Because I have SiriusXM radio in my car which means I normally dont listen to AM/FM radio but since my car is in the shop I had to drive a loaner today. So no SiriusXM. I know. Youre like, “So?”. Well, its about to get interesting. On my way to school I tuned into 99.9FM KISW the Rock of Seattle. The BJ Shea Morning Experience radio show was on and these guys were talking about how President Obama showed his birth certificate finally and then they asked the audience what sort of things are we tired of having to prove but no one believes us. Well, I texted in ” Ive snagged 124 baseballs from 7 different stadiums.” As I was pulling into the school parking lot the KISW radio team called me! They asked me if I wanted to be on the air and talk about this. I was all for it, of course… so here is the radio interview for your listening pleasure. Just fast-forward to about the 18 minute mark.
So lets talk about Sundays game. Shall we? Sundays game looked like this during batting practice ( Or lack there-of ) practically the entire time.
So it was pretty boring. Then the Athletics came out to stretch, and do their thing. More boring-ness.
Like I said. There wasnt a whole lot going on. Before the game on Sundays its pretty mellow and boring. I did have some Athletics fan chew my ear off for about 30 minutes though. So I kind of enjoyed that.
I did finally get the chance to give Brad Ziegler some U.S Army wristbands Ive been wanting to get to him. He has a foundation that I mentioned in my last few blog entries. Its actually a pretty awesome foundation. You should check it out. Brad Ziegler was sort of busy talking to what seemed to be a reporter. I overheard him mention his foundation but then they hugged. So Im not sure who the woman was. Then I waited for another Athletics fan to get his autograph, and then I moved in to hand him the wristbands. I briefly explained that I was in the Army for ten years, and I wanted him to have the wristbands. I was going to go on about giving one to David DeJesus but he seemed kind of taken back from the whole thing, and quickly thanked me as he was stepping away to go to he dugout. I thought it would be a better experience then that. I was sort of disappointed at first…but he probably receives so much stuff from fans. I left it at that.
So I pretty much spent the entire game standing in the new area at Safeco Field called “The ‘Pen”. And let me tell you. If you havent gone there yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Well, actually. I take that back. Friday and Saturday games the ‘Pen is full of drunks. So its really not my scene. But Sundays game was calm, quiet and lots of older couples were in there. So it was pretty mellow. I ate here.
Remember how I said I was going to eat at a new venue every Sunday game and blog about it? Im telling you. If youve ever had good pizza you havent had great pizza until you eat a slice of heaven here. I had two slices of pepperoni and a small soda. It ran me about $14 and some change but so worth it. Its very messy so make sure you get lots of napkins. They are located on the left and right side of the venue. The awesome part about it is that this pizza didnt give me any heartburn.
Before I settled in the ‘Pen area I made sure to get on the board with at least one baseball today. I bet you cant guess who I got it from? I got it from Mark Ellis of course. My first baseball that Mark Ellis ever threw me happened at Busch Stadium on June 18th 2010. My second baseball from Mark Ellis happened a game later at Busch Stadium. And if youve been following this years blog entries youll know that Mark Ellis tossed me a baseball on Friday. So Mark Ellis is now tied with Todd Helton and Jonny Gomes for most baseballs tossed up by players. So todays baseball that he tossed me would give him the lead with four! I anticipate that he will continue to climb the ladder of most baseballs tossed to me by any player because Oakland comes to town two more times this year.
Unfortunatly, no home run balls were hit into the ‘Pen. I thought I would have dibs on anything hit into there too. So I was kind of disappointed. And I figured Id get a baseball from Brad Ziegler at the end of the game as well. But he threw one to some girl. I also didnt keep my Athletics hat on either while I was down there. So that probably made him think twice of who I was. I knew he remembered me though. So when I got home after the game I made sure I Tweeted him a thank you Tweet for accepting my wristbands. And sure he enough! He Tweeted back!
Game; April 24th 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $20.00 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $6.25 this season.