Results tagged ‘ Minnesota Twins ’

9/14/12 White Sox at Twins: Target Field

Again it was back to Target Field for the fourth time in five weekdays and the sixth time in a week. The funny thing is, I really didn’t feel worn out by going to all of these games along with classes at all.

Once I got in, my initial plan was to run directly to the left field, but since Denard Span and Ben Revere were the first two hitters, I thought, “What the hey, I can run over to left field in a couple pitches if Josh Willingham  comes up.” In waiting to head over to left field, I managed to snag a Ben Revere home run:

I then went to left field, and much to my dismay, Revere and Span put on a show (for them) while Willingham failed to hit a ball to the field level bleachers.

After this, I headed to the White Sox’s dugout, where too was Tony Voda:

Tony is the guy in the white shirt, by the way. I didn’t get anything by the dugout, but that was because I got impatient and headed back out to left field when I saw the White Sox were hitting mostly righties for the first group. Once again, I didn’t get anything there, but I did get pretty close to balls that ended up bouncing back towards the field after they hit in the bleachers. I just wasn’t judging the ball well, and since it wasn’t staying in place when it touched down, it was costing me.

Eventually, I ran into the seats in right-center field to try and get a ball there. While I was there, my friend Sean—who you may remember from two entries ago. As you may also remember, he’s a huge White Sox fan, so  he was able to identify all of the White Sox in the outfield for me. But when he identified a guy in the outfield for me as Francisco Liriano, my first was, “No, that’s him?” Just because his haircut looked ever so slightly different from when he was with the Twins. Anyway, long story short, I asked Liriano for a ball, and he tossed it to me. Unfortunately, his throw was way short, so it took a second try to get it up to me:

 

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a very special ball for me, because it marked the first ever time I had snagged 200 Balls in a season, as it was my 200th ball of 2012.

 

It was then that I headed over to the standing room section in right field. There were several balls hit there by Adam Dunn, but I just failed to judge any of them well enough to catch one. The highlight (or lowlight if you’re FSN/the Twins) was that Dunn hit a ball into Fox Sports North’s TV set-up in the standing room and the ball hit the TV there, breaking the screen:

The guy in the blue is the security supervisor for right field. If you ever go through Gate 34 at Target Field, you’ll see him.

After the group containing Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski, I headed BACK to left field. The only problem was there wasn’t a way to have more than ten feet of mobility in the front few rows:

And if I wanted to go to left-center field to play for toss-ups, there were three problems all kind of shown in this picture:

1. There were a ton of kids crowding the front row.

2. Tony was playing the corner spot all the way in left-center field.

3. It wasn’t the White Sox, but rather their kids who were shagging balls in the outfield. Usually, the kids tend to throw way less baseballs into the crowd than their dads do, so that cut down on the opportunities.

The White Sox actually ended batting practice a little early. Why? They took fielding practice afterwards:

While this is an anomaly nowadays, I’ve seen it a couple of times. It’s still a strange surprise.

Anyway, while I probably would have gotten that in the extra BP time, I did manage to get a ball during this. The fielders went off in waves, so when A. J. Pierzynski came off the field, I called out to him as he was approaching the dugout. Unfortunately, he was right in the process of throwing the ball he had to a kid just as he made eye contact with me. I thought when he disappeared into the dugout that it was the end of that, but second later, a ball was rolled right across the dugout roof to me:

I’m assuming it was Pierzynski, but it could have been someone he told to toss me a ball. All I saw was a hand and a ball.

During the game I sat over where my view was this for the game:

What s that arrow you ask? In the third inning, Justing Morneau hit a foul ball waaaay over my head, which followed the path of the arrow I have drawn (okay so it’s not technically an arrow since there’s no head but trust me, I actually used the “arrow” tool; I just drew the head off the page). Anyway, as is always my custom, I turned around in case there was a deflection. What happened was the ball bounced off of the facing of the upper deck and bounced RIGHT to me. I didn’t even have to move an inch:

Oh my goodness. It was a bit surreal to me. I’ve never snagged two game balls in the same month, and here I had snagged a home run and a foul ball in consecutive games. Wow.

Unfortunately, that was it for the game, but I really didn’t care. I mean seriously, I can never be disappointed by a game in which I snag a game ball…unless of course I miss another game ball.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the giveaway that had attracted an excess of fans to Target Field this game. Yeah, since the Twins had just lost 6-0, I’m pretty sure I was the only one reppin’ my team this late after the game had ended:

(Special thanks to Tony for taking that picture of me).

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game (3 pictured because I gave 1 away)

 

Numbers 421-424 for my “lifetime”:

 

  • 202 Balls in 48 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 57 straight Games with at least 1 Ball (My highest streak of this sort ever. The next highest streak was ironically broken in my first ever visit to Target Field.)
  • 7 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 34 Balls in 9 Games at Target Field= 3.78 Balls Per Game
  • 8 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 7 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 6 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:41-11:14= 7 Hours 27 Minutes

9/13/12 Royals at Twins: Target Field

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.

STATS:

  • 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

9/12/12 Royals at Twins: Target Field

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?

Nope:

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.

STATS:

  • 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

9/10/12 Indians at Twins: Target Field

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?

How cute.

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.

STATS:

  • 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

9/8/12 Indians at Twins: Target Field

After going to Target Field the previous night, I made the trek back despite the best effort of the traffic caused by  The Gophers’ football game:

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.

STATS:

  • 4 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 2 away)

Numbers 404-407:

  • 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

9/7/12 Indians at Twins: Target Field

What happens when you walk straight from your class ending at 2:15 to Target Field? You get an hour early to the ballpark and end up sleeping in a giant metal glove:

(For the record, the glove gets HOT when exposed to direct sunlight, so you need something underneath you so you won’t burn. I used my Indians shirt.)

Anyway, since it was a Friday and the gates were opening two hours early (as opposed to 1 1/2 hours Monday through Thursday), Josh Willingham’s group was still hitting, and so I went to left field right away:

Right as I got there, Josh Wilingham launched a ball in my direction. I got in line with it, but I could tell the ball was sailing over my head, so I started going up the bleachers. Just as I was five feet from the landing spot, the ball landed and deflected back towards the field. Gaaah! Here is a diagram if you’re having trouble visualizing it:

That wasn’t the end of my left field woes, though. Willingham hit another ball three sections to my right. I could tell the ball was headed right over the heads of the people in the section, so all the ball had to do was stay in the spot it landed and I would easily scoop it up. Instead, the ball deflected back my way, but it tailed back towards the field. Since I was running full speed through a row of bleachers, I couldn’t stop and change directions, so it landed right by where I had just run by and some other person picked it up. Again a diagram for the people who aren’t able to visualize this:

(The dotted arrow is my running path while the solid arrow is the ball’s deflection. That guy standing on the bleacher wasn’t there when the ball landed there.)

After that, Willingham hit yet another ball over the fence. This time, I had a beat on it. I ran about fifteen feet to my right and made the catch:

That felt really good as it was my first ever ball at Target Field I had caught on the fly.

After that, I headed over to the Indians dugout as they warmed up, but I got shutout by the infielders. I was going to stay and try to get a ball from a pitcher, but I saw there was a mostly-lefty group nearing their second round of swings in the batting cage. So…. I headed out to right field and readied myself.

My first ball out there was hit by Carlos Santana and would start a theme for me: balls that went over my head but I managed to beat people out for. As the name of the theme suggests, the ball went over my head and to my left, but when it bounced, I played the deflection and scooped up the ball before anyone else could:

I don’t know who hit my next ball-it might have been Santana again, but I don’t know-but the same exact thing happened; except this time it went over my head and to my right:

The last ball from this group of hitters came when Asdrubal Cabrera hit right in the middle of the section and over my head:

That would be ball number 4 for those of you keeping score at home. I didn’t really realize it at the time, but my next ball would be career number 400. I actually had been making a big deal about #400 back in New York, but I guess the magic of it wore away as it kept taking me longer and longer to get there. Anyway, as much as I would have liked #400 to be hit, I’m perfectly fine with what ended up happening. When a ball got hit to the warning track to my right, I looked over to see who was retrieving it. I couldn’t recognize practically anyone else on the Indians, so I was relieved when Chris Perez got the ball. Not only is Perez very distinguishable with his long hair, but he is one of- if not THE- nicest players in all of baseballs when it comes to toss-ups. When I yelled out a request at him, he turned around and kindly obliged:

It took me a few minutes to realize it was number 400, which fortunately didn’t cost me. Had there been a kid with a glove, I might have given him that ball. This mistake actually happened to me with ball number 200. STILL, there was no kid to give the ball away to. I mean, yeah, there were kids, but none with gloves. I have truly never seen anything like it. I don’t know if this is true, but it may have been my longest streak ever without giving away a ball. (I had caught five at this point.)

Then the next group of Indian hitters came up to the plate. A couple rounds in, Casey Kotchman hit a ball to my right, so I ran over and made the catch:

After that, I FINALLY found a kid with a glove two sections away and gave him the ball:

My next ball came when an Indians pitcher threw a ball to a kid in front of me, but sailed him by two feet. I was right behind him, so I picked the ball up and naturally gave it to the kid.

I then headed over t right field for the final group of BP. There, I convinced Joe Smith to toss me a ball for my eighth and final ball of the day:

As impressive as this is, I feel I really could have done much better. In addition to the balls I detailed that I missed in left field at the beginning of batting practice, there were countless other in right field. Why do I tell you this? I don’t want any sympathy or anything (mostly because it was *me* messing up my opportunities); it is because I might have passed the Target Field record of twelve had I been on my game. Oh well, I’ll have plenty of other shots at it.

As for the game, it was freezing. I guess I should have expected that when I came to Minnesota for college. What made matters worse was I was out in the standing room section in right field where the winds came through. It was so cold, in fact, that I actually bought food at the ballpark. I usually never do since it adds on a considerable expense if I do it with any sort of regularity. Anyway, to warm me up, I got a bucket of mini-donuts:

They look pretty vile from that picture, but they were absolutely amazing. And since they were baked right on the spot, they served to warm me up for a couple innings. This, however, could not make up for the Twins’ loss as they had gone up 4-0 only to lose 7-6. Since I was playing home runs the whole game, that was it for snagging.

STATS:

  • 8 balls at this game (6 Pictured because I gave 2 away)

Numbers 396-403:

  • 8 Balls x 30,111 Fans= 240,888 Competition Factor
  • 52 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 13 Balls in 4 Games at Target Field= 3.25 Balls Per Game
  • 3 straight Games with at least 1-2 Ball(s) at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 2:15- 11:38= 9 Hours 23 Minutes

8/28/12 Mariners at Twins: Target Field

It was the beginning of a new era for me:

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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.

STATS:

  • 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

 

4/19/12 Twins at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

There are truly not many match-ups that I am more excited to see, except for maybe the teams ordered vice-versa in their presentation, i.e. the Twins being the home team:

Who cares what I do in bp? The game itself is great because my two favorite teams are playing. [Let me just clarify that Twins-Yankees is my favorite match-up that I have *attended*. There are other match-ups that in my head seem better to watch, but I haven't seen those teams play live before.] That said, lettuce explore what happened in bp, shall we?

Like I usually do, I started in RF.  Here is a map of the four balls I had a reasonable shot at snagging while in those seats:

1. Some lefty hit a ball to my left (right in the picture). It landed and I beat out a guy for the ball. I felt like I kind of squeezed by him into the row where the ball landed and he would  have gotten the ball had I not, so I ended up giving him the ball. Here is a picture with an arrow showing where the ball hit from where I was standing when I was in RF:

2. I believe I was on my way back to my usual spot from chasing a ball close to the “1″ spot in the picture…anyway, I ran to my right (left in the picture) and was tracking a HR ball. (When I say HR ball, that does not mean it was during the game. A HR, when refered to on this blog just means a ball that clears the fence on the fly, batting practice or otherwise. I wanted to clarify this since I know I was confused by it when I started reading ballhawk blogs.) I was tracking and drifting towards the ball. Suddenly, I saw a person coming from my right corner of my eye. I slowed down as to not reach in front of this person, hoping he/she dropped the ball. Since I was wearing peripheral vision impairing sunglasses, I couldn’t identify the person without taking my eye off the baseball mid-flight. The person caught the ball, and I looked over to see the glove belonged to Zack Hample.

3. Once again a lefty hit a ball to my right and over my head a bit. I ran over, and as everyone was converging, the ball plopped down into the seats. The Field Level seats at Yankees Stadium are all padded, so the ball often sticks there. Such was the case in this situation. After everyone in pursuit realized it wasn’t bouncing anywhere, we all started searching for it in and beneath the seats. For some reason, everyone else was just looking for it. I myself, meanwhile, was smacking the seats down to reveal the baseball if it had indeed stuck within one of the seats. After about the third seat that I hit, I saw the baseball wedged perfectly in between two parts of the seat’s metal skeleton and picked it up. Here is a picture from where I started running after the ball with an arrow showing where it landed:

4. A ball was hit to the wall in RF and Liam Hendricks went to retrieve it. I went down to try to convince him to toss me the ball. This request worked as he looked right at me and underhanded the ball. It was headed right to me, but just as the ball was arriving, a kid reached in front of me and caught the ball. Here is a picture of the kid and location. I was standing immediately to the right of where he is in the picture:

5. The same beginning as chance #4, but this time Jeff Gray went to retrieve it. As was my ritual in these situations, I went down to the wall and asked him nicely for the ball. When I do these things, I’m sure to look right at the player I’m trying to convince. Just as he tossed the ball to another fan, I heard a “ping” right behind me. I had been hearing from al the people in the RF seats how Denard Span had only hit 5 balls out of the infield in the last batting practice-or something like that-, and as a result, I didn’t think he would hit anything out, but evidently, he got hold of one ball and it hit literally RIGHT behind me. Here are two pictures. The first is where I was standing, the second is where the ball hit (both taken from the same location):

That’s it for my adventures in RF. I did, however, take an excursion to LF between chances 3 and 4. While there, I only had one “real” chance at a ball and capitalized on it. Here is where this occurred:

The larger arrow is where the ball landed and I snagged the ball. The smaller arrow to the left of that is the lady (occluded by her husband) who I gave the ball away to since she was hot in pursuit as well.

That would prove to be the last ball of the day for me. The biggest reason was: I couldn’t tell who anyone was on the Twins. As a product of this, I couldn’t call them by their first names and it was less likely that they would throw me any given ball. You may be thinking “But Mateo, you have a roster of the players, how can you not tell who is who?” To this I offer the response, can *you* name two of the players in this next picture? I had a roster with the pictures of the players and could only name one.:

I realize that the question I ask was semi-rhetorical, but if you did take it as a challenge, I don’t know the name of the player walking in the top right part of the picture, but the names of the other three (going left to right) are:

1. Matt Maloney

2. Jared Burton

3. Nick Blackburn

After batting practice was over, I headed up to my assigned seat in the LF bleachers. There I eyed the five balls that were just laying in the Twins’ bullpen. At this point, I was thinking, “I’m the only one with Twins gear in the entire region surrounding the bullpen, if more than one Twin picks up all the balls.” Silly Mateo, ideas like this are for stadiums that aren’t in New York. What happened instead was that this guy picked up all the balls and threw them all to people with Yankee gear on:

I then had nothing else to do, so I watched Anthony Swajgagjsioetioak (Swarzak), the Twins starting pitcher, warm up from the bleachers:

Then I realized where I was standing. I was pretty much in THE spot where Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th career hit. Due to this, I felt the obligation to take a picture of the field from there:

As for the game, it started VERY well, with the Twins scoring four runs before the Yankees even got to bat. That was more than I had seen them score in TWO GAMES in Baltimore! I was pretty comfortable thinking that the Twins would win the first game against the Yankees that I was in attendance for since Johan Santana was pitching for them. Not only this, but a win in this game would also give the Twins a win in a four game series against the Yankees. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened for at least a decade, if not more.  After the first inning was over, though, the Twins only lead the game by one run:

The Yankees would go on two win the game 7-6. The story of the day, however, was Curtis Granderson. Just look at what the scoreboard said when he came up in the sixth inning:

That’s right. He had three HRs in his first three at-bats, and would go on to go five for five on the day, tacking on two singles.

What was I doing during the game? At school I made a little sign for the game. Here is what I looked like for most of the game:

For those who don’t know, Bert Blyleven is the one of the Twins announcers and  it is common for him to circle fans in the stands. I don’t know when it began, but since he started, it is customary that Twins fans bring “Circle Me Bert” signs to the ballpark in hopes of having him circle them using his telestrator. The phenomenon has grown big enough that it has its own website. Here is a semi-clearer picture of the sign while it was off my head:

I have no idea if I was circled or not, but it was fun looking like an idiot for a game and explaining to half of the people in the LF bleachers what “Circle Me Bert” meant and who “Bert” was. Oh, and as I was writing this entry Zack (as in the Hample one I mention earlier) published his entry about this game, so here is the link to it.

STATS:

  • 3 balls this game (1 here in a picture that I took in Homeroom, because I would later give that away to my baseball coach)

which put me up to 234 career baseballs (this particular ball is #233, but you can’t see my writing on the ball due to the lighting):

  • 12 balls this year in 3 games= 4 Balls Per Game.
  • 12 straight games with at least 1 ball.
  • 3 straight games with at least 3 baseballs.
  • 3 balls* 40,237 fans= 120,981 Competition Factor
  • 26 Balls obtained in 9 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 2.89 Balls Per Game
  • Time at Game 4: 21- 10:33= 6 hours 12 minutes

4/8/12 Twins at Orioles: Camden Yards

Guess how I spent Easter. I had my bonnet:

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I had my peeps:

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and of course spent it at my cathedral:

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Now I was only here for my one, maybe two balls from the pitchers warming up since there would be no bp, but wait what’s this?:

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Apparently, as explained to me by Matt Hersl, early in the season, teams actually do hit a day game after a night game, or the Orioles anyway.

My first ball came when a ball hit down in the row where there is a gap in the railing:

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Avi Miller could have raced me for the ball, but as he said, he’s not up for knocking each other down. Another ball landed there a little while after and I “passed on” Avi’s act of kindness and let another fan get the ball even though it had bounced closer to me after hitting the seats.

My second ball, I believe, came from me running down the row that disappears into the upper-right corner of this next picture:

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I caught the ball, but I stumbled, because I chipped a cup holder and would have fallen on my face had I not grabbed a handrail on my way down.

My third ball, I believe (I know I caught my 2nd and 3rd balls this way, but I don’t know in which order) came from me running across and catching a ball right in front of Matt Hersl. I was right about where Matt is in this picture when I caught the ball:

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(Matt is the one in the gray shirt while Avi is the one in orange)

I then moved over to the flag court for Joe Mauer’s hitting group and sadly the only thing of note that happened was a vendor on Eutaw Street got nailed by a Joe Mauer HR. I don’t want to share the pictures of him, but here they are cleaning his blood off the ground:

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I then went into the CF seats where I got my 4th ball off a ground-rule double that rattled in the seats a bit in the rightmost section.

Then came an interesting scenario in that a person was trying to glove trick a ball, who was not a Ballhawk I recognized, and had no idea what he was doing. Can you identify why?:

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That’s right. He was doing the glove trick without a pen and was wondering why it wasn’t working. So I gave him my pen and as a result he handed me the ball. I then looked around for a person to give the ball to. After about five minutes, I found this little girl (she’s partially hidden by her mother):

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Normally, I can’t stand people who wear a team’s gear that isn’t playing in the game, because it’s a big “FU” to the teams playing, but an exception was clearly in order for this fan decked out in pink Nationals gear.

That was it for bp. Once again I was out in the flag court and thought the baseball gods had set me up with the perfect scenario to catch my first game HR with 12 of the 18 hitters hitting from the Left side of the plate, but sadly they were only baiting me and got me, hook, line, and sinker. You see there was a pretty good wind blowing in from RF, so even if a player managed to get the angle of his hit high enough, which is the challenge with getting a RF HR, it would be knocked down by the wind. There were two balls that looked good directly off the bat, but absolutely died, one of which still managed to get Justin Morneau a hit.

To top it off, the Twins nearly escaped a no-hitter with the previously mentioned Morneau hit being the first hit, but still lost the game, completing a less-than-desired start to the season for my Twins. I went to the umpire tunnel to try and get a ball from Bill Welke (I think his name is “Bill”, but a voice in my head is telling me Tim (I only memorize umpire’s last names). Avi told me he only gave away one ball, so I guess I’m not as embittered, not that I was before. This is, of course, if he only had one ball to give away, but I think he did, because I called him out by last name and was wearing this hat:

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After the game, I had two hours before my bus was scheduled to leave so I wandered all the places I had been with my dad on our trip to Camden Yards in 2008. So like the Harbor Area, our hotel, and things like that. I am now writing this from said bus and extremely regretful of that wandering since everything is tired. Throughout the whole day I was lugging around this backpack:

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As you can infer from its size, it is doubling as my suitcase back to New York.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get some sleep as I have to get up at 3:30 AM tomorrow to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…right after I post the stats.

STATS:
• 4 Balls at this game (3 pictured, because I gave one that I counted away)

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Numbers 228-231 for my career:

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• 9 Balls this season in 2 games= 4.5 Balls Per Game
• 11 straight games with at least 1 ball
• 2 straight games with at least 4 balls
• 4 balls*14,738 fans= 58,952 competition factor
• Time at Game 10:58- 4:07= 5 hours 11 minutes

4/7/12 Twins at Orioles: Camden Yards

So I *was* going to start this entry with a statement along the lines of “Whoo, it feels good to have baseball back! The truth is, it feels like I never really stopped ballhawking. Either that or I haven’t yet realized that baseball has started up yet. It does feel good to be at a baseball game, but it’s certainly not the same butterflies I had on my first game of last year.

Anyway, here is what happened in at the game itself. After a brief stop at the American Visionary Art Museum, I arrived at the gates of Oriole Park at Camden Yards:

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There I met up with Matt Hersl to buy my tickets for these two games: 2 for me at $9 a piece and 2 for this game for my mom and step-dad at $25 a piece. If you’re keeping track, that’s $68 total. I offered Matt $70 since I like to give the people who buy me season tickets SOMEthing for their efforts (I actually should have offered him $80, since he saved me around $10-15 by buying the tickets as a season ticket holder) 99% of other people do what? “Oh thanks” and take the extra two dollars, and that’s if they buy the tickets for you in the first place. What did Matt do? He gave me the $10 bill back, and actually took an $8 hit for buying me a ticket. Not only this, but he was just generally nice to me all day.

After that, we got in line with who I *believe* to be Tim Anderson and Ben Huff. I say “believe”, because we never formally introduced ourselves. We were then were met by Avi Miller, who was a shocker since I was initially going to buy the tickets from him, but he didn’t think he was going to be there for the whole weekend.

So we were all gathered at Eutaw street’s gate H and guess which dolt forgot to take a picture of the group? If you guessed Mateo Fischer, you guessed correctly.

For some reason, even with everyone outside the gates, I arrived at the LF seats before anyone else with Matt maybe three steps behind me, and this was my view:

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It felt nice having all of the Opening Day still up since this is the closest to attending an Opening Day I’ve ever been:

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Orioles was really dead considering Camden Yards is one of the best HR parks in the majors. I probably could have gotten a, if not a few, baseball(s) if I asked the right Orioles, but I held off on it since I wanted to get myself in the groove getting hit balls. I caved into the temptation, though, when the non-season ticket holders were about to be let into the LF seats. I asked Wilson Betemit, Pedro Strop, and Luis Ayala for a baseball and got ignored each time. Finally, a ball bounced off the warning track, and since there was no one around me and it was going over me head, I goofed off and caught it with my back facing the field. Here is the ball:

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I was in the second row of seats and reached back to the third row of seats to make the catch (can be seen in the background).

Almost immediately afterward, I changed into my favorite team’s (Minnesota Twins) gear and stationed myself behind the pitchers that were warming up:

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If you see the rightmost throwing pair, the guy closest to me is Glen Perkins. When they finished throwing, however, the far partner spotted me as a Twins fan and lobbed a ball clear over my head. He then immediately went back to talking with Perkins. By the way in which he did it, I thought he didn’t care about giving me a second chance at a ball. However, I wanted to stay and see if I could get a ball from the last throwing pair since I knew the far partner was Jeff Gray and 95% of baseball fans wouldn’t know that. Also, the number of people in the LF seats didn’t hurt in keeping me in foul territory:

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Now that may not seem like that many people, but considering there had been maybe ten people, I thought it would be worth it to stay and wait the extra few minutes for Gray to finish up throwing. In this time, the guy who missed me fielded a ball and looked in my direction. I realized what was up and crouched down like a catcher where he then proceeded to lob me a ball with no one around me. Here is the player, whose identity I haven’t the fainest clue of. He is the one on the left:

Avi Miller had just arrived on the scene and although he was ten rows below me (jokingly) claimed that the ball had clearly been intended for him. We then both went over to the Left Field seats, during this journey, I was reminded that the Orioles were using 20th anniversary Oriole Park at Camden Yards balls. I mean I remember reading about them in the offseason, but I had not planned this trip in anyway around those commemorative baseballs, so it was a bonus to say the least. The LF seats were pretty crowded, but as if right on the cue of me finding out the Orioles had been using the commemorative baseballs, I managed to range ten feet to my right and snag one on the fly myself:

I didn’t get that much applause, but about five people congratulated me after the fact. As for the ball itself, to say it was in good shape is a gross understatement, it was perfect beyond perfect. If you didn’t know it had been used, you never would have guessed so. Here is a shot I took after the game:

Since the LF seats were pretty crowded, and I acknowledged that I had gotten really lucky in getting that ball hit to where it was, I moved over to the CF seats. There, I got what would be my last ball of bp. A ball hit the seats a little behind me and bounced into seats closer to me. I then beat out a man to it. Seeing as I had outraced him to the ball and it was my fourth ball of the day, I offered it to him, but he told me to “keep it”.

I did then go out to the flag court, but no balls were hit out there, and even if they were, the sun would have made it near impossible to catch one on the fly:

The arrow shows where the sun was during bp ( I took the picture during the game) and the two lines show the general area where the balls were going in the sky. So even though they weren’t going directly through the sun, if you weren’t leaning against the fence at the front of the section, you would have to be staring into the sun waiting for a ball to be hit.

As you can tell, I was in the Flag Court for the game. There were more Righties than Lefties in the game, but as a continuation of my last three games, I’m just going to be there every game I go to Camden Yards until a HR gets hit there. Once that happens, I will either catch it or whiff and I can go on with my life.

Now usually, I change back into the Home Team’s gear, but I stayed in the Twins gear since that is my favorite team:

Now why did I have that look on my face? It was the fourth inning and the Twins were already losing 6-0 (they would go on to lose 8-2). After the game, I headed down to the Umpire Tunnel, and asked the umpire (whose last name I had been repeating since the first inning to remember), whose first name I don’t remember, but after asking “Mister Nelson” for a ball he tossed me up a perfect example of a rubbed-up Oriole Park Commemorative. Here it is right after I caught it:

and here it is when I took a picture of it at “home” after the game:

For the record, I *do* have game pictures, but wanted to get this entry up before I leave for South Carolina, so I’ll upload those to the Facebook page and notify y’all of it when it is done via the twitter page, but for now at least, that’s all that he wrote.

STATS:
• 5 Balls at this game

Numbers 223-227 for my “career”:

• 10 straight games with at least 1 ball
• 5 balls*31,532 fans= 157,660 competition factor (little fun fact: the competition factor from my last game at Camden Yards was 31,352, which is almost exactly the attendance of this game).
• Time at Game 4:04-9:57= 5 hours 53 minutes. Given, I did spend some of the time on the front end just waiting inside the Hilton, it was “at the ballpark” since I was waiting for the gates to open.

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