It was back to Target Field again. Once again, I had a guest to accompany me to this game:
This time, it was my friend who lives two doors down from me, Jonathan Mueller. If you’re wondering, (probably not) I had my “professional camera”, so I gave it to a lady waiting outside the gates to take a picture of the two of us. If you’re new to the blog, I’m on the left and Jonathan is on the right.
Pretty much as we got in, I semi-rushed to the right field seats (I say “semi” because in New York, it’s a straight-up race to the seats. Here in Minnesota, people take their time, so the only reason to run is if you’re going from the left field gate to right field or vice-versa.), and I quickly got Jeff Francoeur(That’s right, right?) to toss me a ball:
I can tell he’s a cool guy, I would have liked to have met him better when he was on the Mets, but his departure coincided with my introduction to ballhawking.
Anyway, I then headed over to left field to try to get a ball over there. First, I asked Jeremy Guthrie for a ball, but he saw my make-shift Royals t-shirt, and just laughed and threw the ball back. It looked a lot like this shirt but with a bigger logo. If you’re wondering why I had to tape a logo to a blue shirt, it was because my actual Royals shirt was still en route. It wasn’t until two days later that I actually got the shirt in the mail. Suffice to say, it wasn’t an impressive job on the part of USPS considering I had ordered it a week prior to these two games:
Sorry for the repeat graphic for those of you who follow me on twitter. (If not, you can over there in the sidebar —->;)
It was at that point that I put my MLB Fan Cave t-shirt back on. Also, in left field, I saw these guys:
I just took the picture because Kelvin Herrera is the guy who tossed me a ball the day prior and Alcides Escobar was the guy who prevented me all day from tying a no-BP record of six balls in a game the previous game. After I figured I wasn’t going to snag any more baseballs from the Royals via toss-up, I headed back two right field. This was disappointing, because given the fact it was the Royals, I was eyeing big numbers when I first got to the left field seats.
There I snagged two balls from the bat of unidentified Royals within a span of a few seconds. The second of which I immediately gave away to a kid. That might sound good, but there were about four hit in a row–all of which I lost in the sun and allowed to hit the seats. These two were just the ones I managed to pick up. It was an interesting situation 1. I didn’t have time to put on sunglasses since they were all consecutive. 2. It wasn’t the sun itself, I guess it was just the brightness of the sky. I saw the baseballs traveling through the air perfectly one second, and poof, it disappeared from my sight. Like I said: weird. 3. On the first, I was running to my left, and I was going to jump up and stop once I caught the ball. However, once I lost the ball mid-jump, my concern wasn’t stopping; it was just not getting my skull hit by a ball. Anyway, because of this, I kind of bumped into a guy. Right after which, I made sure to apologize for bumping into him. Just for that, he gave me a dirty look and told me, “You gotta be more careful.” Sorry, sir, for caring about my mental health.
These two baseballs would be it for batting practice, but I headed back to left field later in batting practice where I managed to do this to my leg on the edge of a bleacher:
Anyway, given all of the circumstances, this was my (blurred) reaction to “only” snagging three balls during batting practice:
I did score a few other items, though:
The shoelaces were to promote cancer awareness and the other scrubby thing was a company’s promotion within the ballpark itself.
During the game itself, I had two main views. This one:
And when a string of lefties came up, this:
Over here, I got stopped by a woman who asked me where I got my MLB Fan Cave shirt. I learned from talking to her that it was because *she* had been one of the nine cave dwellers at the beginning before getting eliminated- as six of the nine have been- since then. Her name would be Lindsay Guentzel, and she gave both myself and Jonathan one of the bajillion baseball cards the Fan Cave had given her upon her departure:
So that was a fun thing. I believe that was around the seventh inning. At that point, the Twins were losing 3-1. In the bottom of the eighth, the Twins managed to score a run off a bases-loaded walk. After which, Justin Morneau struck-out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The bottom of the ninth rolled around and the Twins were down by a run, so I changed my get-up to fit the situation and took my glove off to take this picture:
Right as I lowered my phone, I saw this happen:
Let’s just say I had a pretty good view of the home run. Here’s the picture of the stands when the cameras first turned to the crowd. I’m in the green circle just having lowered my phone to see a ball flying through the air:
Here I am getting out of my seat, and going down a row, with the arrow pointing to where I was going. I was doing this all while simultaneously making an attempt to put my glove on my left hand:
I judged the ball as perfectly as I have ever judged a ball. Here I am with the ball entering my glove:
Unfortunately, I only had the glove half on, so I couldn’t squeeze it at all and the best I could do was pull the ball towards me as to not have it skip away from me before I could grab it on the ground. Meanwhile, Jonathan was raising his arms in celebration in the green rectangle:
And you just read the account of my first ever home run. Better yet, it tied the home run. As a Twins fan, there was nothing better short of catching a walk-off Joe Mauer home run. Wow. I still can’t believe it.
Here I am right after I snagged it:
I was so excited about it I even took a second while I was chasing a second home run of the game in the standing room:
Yep, a home run snag…….Minnesota Style:
Well, I didn’t get a second home run, but what I saw from the standing room was good enough for me:
That would be the Twins team celebrating around Denard Span after he had the walk-off hit to win the game in the bottom of the 10th:
He was especially celebrated because it was his first game back from a DL stint.
I then stuck around after the game by Anthony Lapanta and Tom Kelly:
While I was out there, a lot of people passed me since I was right by gate 34, the main gate into and out of Target Field. One of those people was the woman who took the opening picture that you saw. She came up to me while I had my camera pressed to my eye and said: “Did you catch the Plouffe home run?”
“Yeah, you saw that?” I said
“I was saying to my husband: ‘ I took a picture of those guys before the game.’ Congratulations!”
But why was I out there? I wanted to get a better look at my home run snag when they showed it on the Jumbotron. (Is that one of those things where the brand has become synonymous with the individual product? You know, like Kleenex.)
Actually, I got a better look at it than when I went home to see the replay:
That would be me in the process of dropping the ball with Jonathan about to celebrate. If you enlarge the picture, you can see my phone in my right hand. And the second picture:
That would be me going down for the baseball and seeing it behind me through my legs before I turned around and grabbed it with my glove since my open hand was occupied with my phone. What made the home run *even* better was it was the first game home run ball snagged in the outfield at Target Field on mygameballs.com. It was just recently that I started calling Target Field because of the University of Minnesota, so it’s nice to be the first one on mygameballs to record a hit game home run snag, and do something I could never in any of my other stadiums.
- 4 Balls at this game (3 pictured because I gave one away)
Numbers 417-420 for my career:
- 198 Balls in 47 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 28,669 Fans= 114, 676 Competition Factor
- 56 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 6 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 5 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 30 Balls in 8 Games at Target Field= 3.75 Balls Per Game
- 7 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
- 6 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- 5 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:31- 11:36= 8 Hours 5 Minutes
It started raining in Minneapolis at 11:00 AM. That was okay, though because according to my phone, the rain would end by 4:00 PM (before batting practice was set to start). Well, my phone was right:
Did that mean there’d be batting practice?
Yeah, when I entered this was the most exciting thing happening:
Actually, that’s not hyperbole at all. See that fan in the bright orange going down the steps? That would be my guest to this game, Sean. I had been eyeing some cheap seats on Stubhub, but they were only being sold in pairs. Sean here is in my “History of Science” class. I forget how, but somehow, we revealed to each other that we were both baseball super-fans. When he said he was going to the Twins game Friday, and said he would want to catch a game with me some time, I jokingly said something like: “How about this Wednesday?” Shockingly, he accepted the offer.
Fast-foward to today: He and I- after some confusion- met up at the Washington Ave Bridge and walked to Target Field. Fast-forward to pre-game warm-ups: The Twins pitchers you saw started throwing. I played it completely wrong, so I didn’t get a single ball from them while they were throwing. However, I went behind the dugout to try to get a ball from Alex Burnett, but when I got there, and usher started telling me something just as I was about to ask Burnett for the ball, so I couldn’t do as I had planned. Fortunately, the usher was telling me there was a ball right by where I was standing. He suspected Burnett had thrown it just seconds before I arrived. Here is where it was in the first row:
I’m glad the usher told me, but it would have been nice to start a game with no BP with two balls right out of the gate. At this time, Sean was getting food, and although I had told him that I snag baseballs at games, he couldn’t believe I had already gotten a ball when he came back.
I then changed into my Royals gear:
Yes, my actual Royals shirt hadn’t showed up yet, so I taped a paper cut-out of the logo to ma blue shirt as I have done a few times previously. Anyway, there were two pitchers warming up, Kelvin Herrera and Bruce Chen. Apparently, someway, somehow, Bruce Chen learned Spanish, because he was talking to Herrera in Spanish. Anyway, Chen went off to run, and Herrera started throwing with someone else. When they finished, I asked Herrera to toss me the ball in Spanish, and he did:
That was it for pre-game activities. Normally, that would be it for the game, but did I mention where the cheapish seats were? Yeah, well let me just say I was able to try to get a ball during the pre-game position player throwing. When they came out, though, there was a problem:
You can’t really tell from the picture, but everyone brought their glove, yet no one thought to bring a ball. Eventually, someone *did* bring a ball, and that ball got tossed to me by David Lough:
But let’s take another look at that ball:
Yep. The Royals somehow had Oriole Park commemorative baseballs.
As for the game, this was my view:
That’s a pretty nice view for $20.
I also saw something I had never seen before at Target Field. It had rained, so that combined with the natural cold to make it cold enough for the Twins to turn on the heat lamps in the concourse:
I’ve got to say, that’s a really nice touch to have for a ballpark in Minnesota. I know the shorts-clad Sean really appreciated the Twins having them.
As you can guess, I was playing the dugout for third-out balls. Well for whatever reason, whenever Eric Hosmer recorded a third out at first base, he tossed the ball to Alcides Escobar who ALWAYS tossed the ball to a kid. I could have reached for a ball in the first inning that was meant for one of said kids, but it didn’t feel right. However, in about the fifth inning, the inning ended with Mike Moustakas catching a line drive. When he got back to the dugout, he tossed the ball just to my right:
Right after I got the ball, I opened my glove up for a kid right next to me to take the ball. That was my fourth ball of the game.
Like I said before, this was a cold, rainy game to begin with, so when the Royals had Sean and I singing, “The runners on base go round and round…” it was pretty empty at Target Field:
I almost caught a Justin Morneau foul ball, but I couldn’t get my glove over one of the railings in my section, and the ball took a huge bounce off the concrete after that into the seats outside of the “moat” above me.
After the game ended, I went down to the umpire tunnel and got a all from the home plate umpire, Dan Bellino:
At the time, I thought the ball was clearly intended for me, but after I jumped to catch it, I looked right behind me to see Sean staring right at me. It may have indeed been intended for him. Don’t worry, though, I would give him the ball two days later when we once again went to the same game. Anyway, this was the second highest total I had ever recorded at a game with no batting practice. Even though I don’t like playing third-out balls for the exact reason that they are so easy to get, it was nice to be able to get three baseballs during or after the game. Normally I would be stuck at two balls on a day like this. Also, according to mygameballs.com, this was the first ball he has ever thrown up to a member.
After the game, Sean and I got a parting picture together before heading back to the University of Minnesota:
Yeah, he’s a White Sox fan as he’s from Chicago, but in all fairness, he was rooting for the Twins this game, so he’s forgiven for one game.
- 5 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 412-415 for my life:
- 194 Balls in 46 Games= 4.22 Balls Per Game
- 5 Balls x 28,139 Fans = 140, 695 Competition Factor
- 55 Games with at least 1 Ball
- 5 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 4 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 26 Balls in 7 Games at Target Field= 3.71 Balls Per Game
- 6 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
- 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- 4 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:45- 11:39= 7 Hours 54 Minutes
Now my third game at Target Field since starting school, I was starting to develop a routine by walking directly from my last class of the day to Target Field and falling asleep in the giant glove outside the gates:
The glove itself, for those who don’t know, is to commemorate all of the Twins Gold Glove winners in history. (That’s the plaque right over my right shoulder in the picture.) The position of the glove is to commemorate the furthest home run in Twins history; which I believe was measured at 520ft.
It isn’t exactly ideal to show up two hours before the gates open, but one of the perks is being the absolute first fan to check into the game using MLB.com’s At The Ballpark app. What I didn’t know was the perk of that was this:
Here’s the t-shirt’s front design:
And here’s the back design:
I didn’t wear it that day, but you may see it in a couple entries (hint, hint).
Once 4:30 rolled around, I went up to the gates-as is my usual routine- and readied myself for any baseball that might reach me at the gate. It’s very unlikely, but I like that there’s at least a possibility of getting a ball. It makes the time go so much faster. Citi Field gate time goes slowly for reasons I have already mentioned, and Yankee Stadium minutes, if there’s no one I know is at the gates, takes FORever. Long story short: I didn’t get any balls that bounced to the gate, but what *did* happen was, out of the blue, a guy pulled up to me in a trolley-type thing and handed me a baseball through the gates:
Just like that, I was on the board. At that moment, I decide I wasn’t going to ask for a ball for the rest of the game. I was just going to go for home runs and help other kids get baseballs.
Want to see the crowds outside the gate five minutes before it opened?
When the gates opened, I headed straight for right field, because I figured the Indians group who had supplied with so many baseballs the first day would be hitting just as I got in. Instead of getting a hit ball, right when I got to the seats, Corey Kluber saw my Indians gear, flashed a ball he had, and threw it up to me. I realize that all of these may seem VERY unlikely given the fact I said I wasn’t asking for any baseballs, but I swear, I didn’t ask for *any* of these. Kluber just looked up at me, and tossed me the ball:
Given the fact I got two balls, though, I was considering asking for balls if I got in a rhythm catching hit balls. Unfortunately,those two would be the only ones I would get for the extent of batting practice. Unlike Saturday, there wasn’t THAT big of a crowd, but nothing was coming close to me.
This was my view for most of Indians batting practice:
When there’s enough room, so far my strategy has been to be in a spot where I can both run back to the standing room or run down to catch a ball that is hit in the seats in right field.
I then headed over to left field, but as you guessed it, not much came my way. The balls that did come my way, but I lost them in the sun even though I was wearing sunglasses:
I think Target Field left field is one of the underrated sun havens.
While I was there, though, I saw a crime against what might as well be ballhawks everywhere. It was only directed at one person (not myself), but it was pretty bad. Here ‘s something to help you out:
As you can see, I labeled some people. Well, it all started when Francisco Morales threw the ball snagger a ball. Esmil Rogers looked at him and tapped his foot as if he were waiting for the ball snagger to give the ball away to the kid next to. I suspect it was because he had seen the guy get a ball before. And the ball snagger *did* give the ball away, and Rogers clapped for him. That’s all fine and good, but when a line drive got hit RIGHT at the ball snagger, Rogers stepped right in front of it and caught the ball on the fly. When a ball rolled right to where this guy was standing in the corner spot, Rogers stepped in front of the ball and snagged the ground ball so the guy couldn’t scoop it up as it rolled to him.
I mean, yeah, he snagged ONE ball. Big deal. He did what you wanted him to do and you repay him by blocking two balls that he would have gotten. WHo was he hurting by snagging TWO baseballs? It isn’t like some kid would have gotten that ground ball had he not been there. And on that note, how are you helping ANYone by then taking the ball and throwing it right back into the infield bucket? What you saved the Indians $20? Good job, Mr. Rogers. Gee double-oh dee jay oh bee; good job, good job. It’d be one thing if you tossed the ball to a recipient you deemed more deserving, but this is just being an absolute jerk over nothing.
Sorry for the mini-rant; I try not to do that too much. But I thought I needed to get that off my chest because it just makes no sense to me when people who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions of dollars a year obsess over a fan getting a couple baseballs. Fine, he already got a ball. That means you won’t toss him a ball if he asks, not you have to attempt to the best of your ability to make sure he doesn’t get another ball for the rest of the game.
That’s all I have to say about batting practice. For the game, I sat over here:
Actually, my ticketed seat was “better” (being closer to directly behind home plate), but I figured I’d have a better chance of catching a foul ball here, since it didn’t have the hindrance of the protective netting. I also kept my Indians gear on and waved my arms whenever I would have usually been yelling, because, you know, I had that whole “I’m not going to ask for balls for the rest of the game” thing going on.
At the end of the game, though, I raced down to the dugout to see if I could finally get my first line card (I didn’t say anything about asking for lineup cards). I got rejected. However, I was right by where the umpires exit the field- known as the umpire tunnel. Usually, I always look up who the umpire is, but I didn’t even bother to this time, since I wasn’t going to ask him for a ball. Then, a weird thing happened. The only other game I had gone to the umpire tunnel, a swarm of kids ran to it just as the game ended. Since this was my only experience of it thus far, I figured that was the norm. This time NO one was at the umpire tunnel. The umpire was literally searching the crowd for people to throw balls to. Since I was the only one with a glove, he flipped me a ball:
I later searched and found out the home plate umpire’s name was D. J. Reyburn.
I then went to the other side of the dugout. There were two little sister who in conjunction with their parents, had been trying all game to get a ball from the dugout, but had failed to this point. I went over, and as Dave Miller, Francisco Morales, and Armando Camacaro neared the dugout. I just pointed almost cartoonishly at the two girls; acting as a billboard for “give these two kids a ball”. They both did, and as I guess a reward, Armando Camacaro also tossed me a ball:
If you’re wondering (you’re probably not) Camacaro’s name translates to bedcar.
Geez. Why can’t convincing players to toss me baseballs be this easy when I *want* them to toss me baseballs? I mean seriously, I got four toss-ups without even asking for them; yet when I want a toss-up, it seems like I’ll never crack a player. Anyway, weird times at Target Field.
- 4 Balls at this game
Numbers 408- 411 for my “career”:
- 189 Balls in 45 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 27, 526 Fans= 110, 104 Competition Factor
- 54 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 4 straight Games with at lest 2-3 Balls
- 3 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 21 Balls in 6 Games at Target Field= 3.50 Balls Per Game
- 5 straight Games at Target Field with at least 1-2 Ball(s)
- 4 straight Games at Target Field with at least 3 Balls
- 3 straight Games at Target Field with at least 4 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 2:17- 10:41= 8 Hours 24 Minutes
However, as you can tell from the picture, the crowds were a little beefed up. Not only was it the first “weekend” game I had ever attended at Target Field, it was also “Tom Kelly Day”. More on that in a bit.
When I got in, I decided to do the same things as the previous day’s game (if you want to read it, go down to the bottom of this entry and click “Previous Post”): go to left field as soon as the gates open for Josh Willingham’s group. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for what the excess crowd would do to the playability of the section:
Keep in mind this was just minutes after the gates opened.
Instead of trying to compete with them for the first couple of rounds of Indians hitters, I moved into foul ground and tried to get a ball from the Indians position players who were throwing. When one of the players finished, I waved my glove and asked for the ball from him in Spanish. He then tossed it to me:
I made sure to remember the face, and when I looked it up, I saw it was Michael Brantley who tossed me the ball. You know, the totally non-hispanic guy who was born in Bellevue, Washington who I had just asked for a ball in Spanish. Whoops. I guess I’m lucky he didn’t hear my request and just saw me waving my glove.
I then moved out to right field for the group that had supplied me with so many hit balls the previous day. I didn’t get any hit balls, but I managed to get a ball from Shin-Soo Choo, who was manning right field. Sadly, no I didn’t have the chance to ask him for a ball in Korean. What happened was he threw a ball into a guy in the second deck and it bounced off of the electronic scoreboard facing of it, so I snagged it off the bounce:
I was about to throw the ball up to the guy, but he told me that Choo had already tossed him a second ball while I wasn’t looking.
After that, I didn’t really feel like competing with the crowds in extremely cramped right field section, so instead, I competed with the crowds in a slightly-less-cramped-but-extremely-steep-with-an-overhang-blocking-most -of-the-seats left field section. There I got Ubaldo Jimenez to toss me a ball by the bullpens in the part of the left field seats closest to center field:
The dotted arrow is to show where Jimenez jogged to retrieve the ball, and the solid arrow is his throw to me. The kid in the Blackburn shirt had already gotten a ball-as you can see-so I gave the ball to a kid half a section to my right in the first row who still hadn’t gotten a ball.
Later on, a ball got hit to the wall in straight-away left field, and Tony Sipp went to retrieve it. As he approached the wall, I yelled out, “Tony.” When he picked up the ball, he flipped me the ball over a row of fans:
For those of you who weren’t counting, that was my thirty second ball of the day. For those of you who were counting, you’ll know it was my fourth ball of the day. I had a shot at a fifth ball, but…well, let me just explain what happened. Anyway, I felt bad because in that row of fans he had flipped the ball over to me, was a kid who had a glove, but just wasn’t speaking up- much like I used to be (some would argue like I still am). So, I handed him the ball right after confirming he hadn’t gotten one this game.
A ball got hit that I could tell was to my left and falling short of me in the sixth row of the section. So, I ran into the third row and even though I could tell the ball was going to land in the second row, I hoped someone would botch a catch, because there was no way I was going to catch the ball without smacking someone with my glove. Anyway, here is what happened:
I was right behind the guy in white, and at the very last second, he must have lost the ball in the sun because he ducked and put his hands over his head. That’s when the ball hit directly off his upper spine and just to my left. I could have gone after the ball, but I realized right away where the ball had hit, so I made sure he was okay. Just as a general rule, I try NOT to be that guy who cares more about a baseball than anyone else’s well being.
Anyway, soon after that, batting practice ended. Spoiler Alert: Since I was playing for home runs all game, I wouldn’t get another ball for the rest of the game. However, it *was* Tom Kelly Day. This meant his number was getting retired in a big ceremony with members from his teams and the current team involved and different speakers talking about his tenure as manager. I took a bunch of pictures, but I’ll share a couple that I took:
Here is Tom Kelly’s retired number under the black shroud.
The on-field set-up. Kelly’s friends and family were down the first base line and former players were down the third base line.
Tom Kelly walking towards the podium. He was preceded by all of the other players whose numbers have been retired by the Twins. The only deceased of the group being Jackie Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, and Kirby Puckett, who got a video tribute in lieu of walking to their seats. by the pitcher’s mound.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that there was also a give-away that came along with Tom Kelly Day. They also gave away an oar. Yes, an oar:
Why? Just click the bottom picture to read the text on the oar. I realize it looks tiny compared to the top picture. They’re both the same size, but I rotated it, so you wouldn’t have to turn your computers to read it. I’d imagine this would be quite hard for those of you reading this on a desktop.
As for the game, this was my view for the entirety of it:
Yes, I realize this picture was taken after the game, but I completely forgot to take a picture during the game itself. As previously mentioned, there was nothing even close to me. In fact, the lone home run was hit by an Indians righty September call-up.
- 4 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 2 away)
- 185 Balls in 44 Games= 4.20 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 33,698 Fans= 134, 792 Competition Factor
- 53 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 3 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 17 Balls in 5 Games at Target Field= 3.4 Balls Per Game
- 4 straight Games at Target Field with 1-2 Ball(s)
- 3 straight Games at Target Field with at least 3 Balls
- 2 straight Games at Target Field with at least 4 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 2:38- 10:40= 8 Hours 2 Minutes
It was the beginning of a new era for me:
Walking up to Target Field, the best word I can think of to describe the feeling is surreal. I just could *not* believe I was there again. It defied all logic. Why go to a bad ballhawking stadium for the second time in two years? Target Field is the kind of place you visit to say you’ve been there and then stay away for as long as you can.
Once I got to the gates, two people waved at me. It was just kind of like “Whoa, what’s this?” One I actually recognized from the pictures he had of himself on his blog and that was Paul Kom. You can vaguely see him towards the right of the last picture in the white hat. He leaves comments here as paaoool123.
The second person was Tony Voda. Unlike Paul, I had no idea of his existence until a couple days prior, much less an idea of what he looked like. When Zack Hample announced in his blog that I was going off to Minnesota for college, he was one of the many people who contacted me regarding the fact. He left a comment on this blog saying that he would like to meet up some game.
First of all, I would like to say that when a ball plummeted into the gap outside the stadium between the parking garage and the rest of the walkway, Paul and I just wanted to see where the ball had landed. Meanwhile, Tony was already running after it. Apparently, that gap has Interstate 394 under it. When Tony came back with the ball several minutes later, all three of us took a picture together:
That would be me on the left, Tony in the middle, and Paul on the right.
At the gates, we did two things: awaited any balls that might’ve bounced to the gates (Paul nearly got one), and divvied up where we wanted to go in the stadium. Paul took the Mariners dugout, Tony took the Twins dugout, and I wandered all over the place.
My first stop was the third base foul line:
When I got there, Jesus Montero picked up a ball, and I decked out in Mariners hat and sweater (even though it was really hot), asked him for a ball. For whatever reason, he completely ignored me and tossed it into the outfield seats.
So, I made I stop along the third base foul line seats, but I eventually ended up in left field seats where I ended up getting Jason Vargas to toss me a ball:
At least I think it was Vargas. I stupidly didn’t take notes about this game, so I’m basing everything on memory. Anyway, I then headed over to the “section of death” in right-center field. It’s the section of death to myself and other ballhawks (I have come up with the name, but others have agreed with the sentiment.) because it’s four rows of seats to begin with, and the overhang makes it so you can only really catch a home run in the first row or two. In addition to that, there’s a flower bed in the front of the section which means a player has to be about five-ten feet from the wall for you to ask him for a ball.
Anyway, right as I got there, a player overthrew a kid, and the ball flew into concourse:
I then said that I would give him the next ball I snagged.
A few minutes later, I asked Stephen Pryor for a ball, and when he tossed it to me, I gave it to the kid. His sister then hugged me, which was…unexpected. Just to give you an idea of how the flower beds affect one’s sight, here’s a picture of Pryor standing 60+ feet away from the wall:
See? Unless you want to be talking to a bed of flowers, you either have to hope a ball stops just the perfect distance from the wall, or hope the player doesn’t throw the ball right when they get to the wall.
I then pretty much stayed in the right field seats for the rest of batting practice, where the offensively anemic Mariners didn’t send anything into the stands:
I then met up with Paul in foul ground along the third base line.
From there, we both headed over to the left field seats by the bullpen. At that point, he had snagged four balls. He ended up with seven by the end of the day. But don’t take my word/ account for it, right….here is the link to his entry about the game.
When we were sitting there, I saw the Mariners bullpen coach, Jaime Navarro walking to the bullpen, so I put on my Mariners sweater and hat. Once he was picking up the balls that had been hit there during batting practice, I asked him for one. This was the result:
What I hadn’t noticed was Paul had also stood up and had grabbed his camera. Here is the five-second video he took of me snagging the ball:
Thank you to Paul for that.
As for the game, I won’t really talk about the result, but I’ll say Todd Cook was made happy by it. This was my ticketed seat:
but I decided to stay out here for the majority of the game:
I can’t say for certain, but I think I’ll spend most of my time at Target Field out there.
However, as I suspect will be the norm for most of my time out there, nothing was hit even close to the section. After the game, I met up with both Paul and Tony (who also wrote an entry about the game, whose link can be found right….hiaaaagh.) by the dugouts. We then walked to the exit together before saying our goodbyes. I’ll probably see Tony again, but it was in all likelihood Paul’s last Twins game of the season. Anyway, it was good to get to meet both of them in my first “new” game at Target Field.
- 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 393-395 for my “lifetime”:
- 173 Balls in 42 Games= 4.12 Balls Per Game
- 3 Balls x 29,854 Fans= 89,562 Competition Factor
- 51 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 5 Balls in 3 Games at Target Field= 1.67 Balls Per Game
- 2 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field with at least 1 Ball
- 2 straight Games at Target Field with at least 2 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 4:12- 10:36= 6 Hours 24 Minutes
Now my second game at Target Field and you know I wasn’t arriving late:
This is actually an artsier picture than you may think. You see it is a metaphorical camera taking picture of the screen on which it is being broadcast on as I am the baseball catcher, being caught as a baseball in the device that I usually use to catch baseballs myself to catch baseballs which makes me … Oh whatever, you can get it is me being caught as I am acting like a baseball being hit into the glove.
That was 3 hours before the actual game time start. Since bp doesn’t start until 2 and 1/2 hours before I had some time to kill:
I wandered a little to the left of my gate and took a picture of the Twins’ former owner in front of Rod Carew’s gate 29. I don’t remember his name but my uncle knew him so he was the owner in the 60’s I’d say. Anyway, do you notice the funky yet beautiful wall behind the owner? That is made purely out of Minnesota limestone. Target Field is the greenest Stadium in baseball and part of that is how far the materials to build the stadium had to travel to get there.
I did mention the gate I got to Target Field so early to stand at, right? Well let me specify a bit. I got to the Stadium so early because of Gate 34:
Even more specifically, the fact that Gate 34 is behind the SRO section in Right Field. Since the gates are open that meant that any ball hit into that section would have a chance of bouncing to the gate where I could pick it up. I would have to be fast, though. As you can see, I wasn’t the only one that showed up this early. You can maybe see there is a person to the right of me in that last picture (I’m in the Twins shirt).
Things got pretty crowded pretty quickly. This is the view from the gate two hours before gametime:
That is my uncle Richard to the right, by the way. If that doesn’t give you an idea of the crowd this next one should:
Pretty self-explanatory. Due to the crowd, I was limited to one gate and when a baseball finally did get to the gate it was too far away for me to range and get it.
When I did get into the stadium it didn’t take me long to get a ball. Some player threw a ball to someone. I didn’t see the person but I saw the ball land in the rose bushes in front of my section so I picked the ball up. It was a bit out so I actually had to balance on my stomach in order to reach the ball and scared my uncle in the proccess. He thought I was about to flip out of:
Just a quick not on the picture. I love how it portays me as the haggard individual with the Red Sox shirt down and facial expression. This was obviously due to the fact I hadn’t gotten a ball the previous day.
I then left my uncle and went to Left Field before it got too crowded for me to snag anything. Clay Buchholtz quickly hooked me just seconds after I arrived on the scene:
The bigger red arrow points out where I was and still am standing and the smaller red arrow shows the path of the ball as it left Buchholtz’s hand. As you can see, the ball went a bit above my head. So, I climbed on the bleacher bench, jumped up, caught the ball, did a 180, and landed on that same bench. I recieved a bit of applause from the crowd but I could tell that from their faces it was applause that I was still alive because I was turning in mid air their faces showed sheer terror.
Guess how much I got after that toss-up: nada, nothing, zip, zero, zilch, squat, diddly, or diddly squat. I went back to the section where I got the first ball and was again the only one in Red Sox gear (no matter how much it pained me to put it on) but the player just weren’t throwing anything to me.
I called out to them:
None of the players or coaches would throw me a ball. I don’t know if it was that they saw me get the Buchholtz ball or what but on several occasions the Red Sox made gestures like they couldn’t throw it up to me and then threw a ball to a person without their garb five feet to my left.
I ended batting practice with my two baseballs here in this picture:
For the game, I just chilled in the SRO section for the game. I only moved back and readied myself for a Home Run when one of these three guys for the Red Sox came up:
Nothing came even close to the section but I had fun out there. It is similar to the Nationals CF area in that there is a lot of big board action. Richard got pictures of someone we identified as the PA Guy after extensive investigation:
T.C., the Twins’ mascot (TC stands for Twin Cities):
and a video memorial to Harmon Killebrew that the Twins now play everyday:
That last picture actually shows Killebrew’s signature that they emblazoned onto the outfield wall in RF to honor him. I go through the pictures because even though I didn’t see Killebrew play once he is in my top 10 favorite players all time because he was the only baseball card my dad recognized out of all the cards I had and because of that I did some research and found out what a great person he was besides the baseball he played. I would compare him to a Jim Thome in how he was. I am not religious but I also do not believe in coincidence and Killebrew died within two hours of my dad’s passing.
So how about we get some of those happy thoughts back in our head. My view for the game wasn’t THAT spectacular and it didn’t help that I was standing the whole time but it was still pretty good:
I think this and last game really set the tone for the trip in that it wasn’t great snagging wise but I had a great time at all the games I went to. The twins (my favorite team) beat the Red Sox (one of my least favorite teams) and Joe Nathan got the save. This would have made me happy on its own as he is one of my favorite players as well but it also made him the Twins’ all-time saves leader and it was special to be there for that. I don’t really know how to segway into this picture but I wanted to include it. So, here is Richard after the game:
2 balls at this game
Numbers 189-180 for my career
129 baseballs in 32 games= 4.03 balls per game
Time at Game 4:10-10:26
It was my first game at Target Field. Yes I had heard it was a tough stadium to snag at and yes I knew the Red Sox bring a big following with them wherever they go. So why did I get there 15 minutes before the gates opened? This was the first game of a five game, two week trip in the Midwest that came together through offers by people to stay with them at my dad’s living memorial a few months ago. It started as a strictly baseball trip but quickly evolved to include college visits in it. Today’s visit was the University of Minnesota. I bring this up because this and the fact that me and my partner for this leg of the trip (my uncle) had to pick up our tickets from a friend afterward and as a result got to the gates a little later than I would have liked.
Anyway, here I am at gate 6:
As you can see there were a lot of fans at the gate. The gates by the way, are named after famous Twins. So gate 3 is named after Harmon Killebrew, gate 34 after Kent Hrbek etc. Gate 6 happens to be named after Tony Oliva. Once I got in the stadium it wasn’t much better. I initially went to Left Field but it was so crowded since it took five minutes for me to get into the stadium and the steps were so sloped that there was almost no chance I would catch anything so I changed into my Red Sox gear and opted for the emptier Right-Center Field seating:
There was nothing to be found there or anywhere for that matter. I just kept trying my luck with the players and coaches in that area but they kept throwing the balls to kids and other people in my section even though I was one of three people in Red Sox gear:
At one point, one of the coaches actually motioned that he couldn’t throw that high because he didn’t have the arm. It was at most 20 feet up and I suspect he just didn’t want to cause anyone’s harm. I tried to get the players at just the right times when they were closest to the wall but they appeared deaf. Simply put, I was not ready to attend a batting practice on this day. I hadn’t thought of a good place to go during bp, I had no rosters printed out, and had I it wouldn’t have mattered because most of the players were wearing their pullover bp lining which does not have either their name or number on the back. Here I am contemplating my strategy while a three players are on the field, two of which have the pullover jerseys:
In addition, there is a portion in Right Field that juts out and obstructs a persons view of players in the corner or close to it and blocks out a person’s shouting to said players with requests for a ball. You can see that here:
You may also see that I have drawn an arrow in that last picture. It had no presence in my mind then but of course occurs to me now that I could have stood there and tried to scoop up rollers that players hit down the line as that corner spot would be ideal for such a strategy. If you have never been to a stadium that opens 1 and1/2 hours early you should know that the time goes by really quickly. That is what happened here. Batting Practice was over and I did not have a baseball.
As I made my way over to my seats for the game I stopped in the Standing Room Only section in Right Field and took a picture of the “Shimmering Wall”:
This majesty would be a wall in front of a parking lot made up of thousands of individual metallic panels about three by two inches. These panels are hanging by a hinge at their top so that they flap slightly upwards when a breeze goes by thereby creating a different reflection than the other panels on the wall. This makes sort of a stream going through the wall showing the wind. You can sort of see it towards the top right of the picture where there is a u shape that is darker than all of the panels around it. If you have never been and will visit Target Field you should really check it out as it is beautiful. I would have explored more and done quirky things like that but I was for this whole trip with family and the exploration part of a new stadium is fine and dandy but lugging around another person that doesn’t want to explore can be a bit of a pain. It’s not to say that the people i was with wouldn’t want to explore but i just didn’t want to find out that they didn’t mid-exploration. Speaking of those seats, this picture shows both where the seats were and how absolutely crowded the stadium was:
If you can also see the man in the gray shirt and green hat bending down, he was the ball that came in closest proximity to me just seconds prior to me taking that picture is what he is looking at at that moment. a few others came within 20 feet of me but it was just so packed that all I had to move on was the staircase on which I was sitting. Usually, I would have tried the dugouts but I didn’t want to abandon my family and the stadium was just so beautiful that I pretty much decided that besides any hit balls that came close to me I would sit back and enjoy the game. I realized I was risking a 57 game streak but the Midwest portion of my family and friends of family is one that I enjoy spending time with the most most of my branches (no offense to Colombia and California). Sure I was a few seats away because I wanted to sit on the aisle but I didn’t want to venture a few sections away.
Actually, I shouldn’t say that. The only time I left considerably was during Jim Thome’s at-bats because he was 2 Home Runs away from 600 and I didn’t want to miss either 599 or 600. A few batters before Thome got up I would get out of my seat and make the trek to the Right Field Standing Room Only section on the other side of the field:
My face say it all:
Thome hit neither of his two Home Runs that day and no one even came close to the section the whole game.
I would have gone down to the umpire tunnel but the Twins had a semi-moat in the infield seats and I didn’t want to leave my family waiting for me a the top of the section until i came back up. Here is a picture of the moat:
The moat begins at the wall I have inside my dotted box (made of Minnesota limestone). I say that it is a semi-moat because usually moats keep everyone except ticket holders for that section out starting when the gates open. This however is not the case as you can see the ushers pointed out by my three arrows are well away from the staircase which is to the left of them in the picture. So people can enjoy bp from these seats and THEN get out (you listening Yankees?). The usher was at her post at he end of the game so I figured not to make a ruckus and just leave the seats.
Speaking of my family here they are in a picture we took at the top of the section:
That would be:
1. Mateo Fischer- Myself wearing my now official magnetic pen of baseball labeling. Provided by the good people at Private Home Care.
2. Richard Fischer- My uncle and now whenever he wants to be the honorary photographer for Observing Baseball. He really did by far the best job of any of the photographers I have had. Not only in this game but in the next three blog entries I will do so keep on the look-out for that.
3. Mark Fischer- Richard’s son aka my cousin who showed up for the day when he heard we had an extra ticket and who I visited when I was in Minnesota for the last season of the Metrodome.
4. John Fischer- Richards’s other son aka my other cousin who actually provided myself and Richard with housing while we were in Minnesota for these two days creating havoc for his less-than-100-percent household at the time.
- 127 balls in 31 games= 4.10 Balls Per Game
- Time at Game 5:17- 9:56= 4 hours 39 minutes