Results tagged ‘ pitchers ’

9/30/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

It was Sunday, September 30th 2012. It was my last game of the season. Except, when I awoke early Sunday morning, it didn’t feel like it at all. It just felt like another day at the ballpark. Except I semi-changed things up by going to Harmon Killebrew’s gate:

I knew there wouldn’t be batting practice, and my bus drops me off right by Gate 3 when I take it; so I didn’t feel like walking to Gate 34.

When I entered the left field seats, this was my view:

No surprise there.

I went down to the Tigers’ dugout, but there wasn’t anything going on down there:

See? Nothing.

Eventually, Jeff Kunkel– one of the Tigers’ bullpen catchers– came out to play catch with one of the pitchers:

I don’t remember who the pitchers was, but I do remember that after playing catch they went to the bullpen to throw a bullpen session.

Then there was a long break in action. How long? It was long enough for Kunkel to go to the bullpen, catch the session, and come back out to be the catching partner of the next pitcher who came out:

I don’t know who it was. The face looked most Luke Putkonen, but he didn’t look 6’6″, which Putkonen is listed at. But who knows, MLB players routinely “round up” on their listed heights, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was Putkonen.

Anyway, at this time, the Twins came out to throw:

I had half a mind to go over there, but I decided against it since my most notable competition on my side of the field was a family who were expecting the Twins to take batting practice and a couple of kids with their parents.

It looks like I made the right decision, because minutes later, I got this from Luis Marte by working some Spanish magic:

One down, four to go to get to my goal of 444 career baseballs. I gave this ball away to the family I mentioned before, since they had engaged me in conversation over day games after night games, the Twins, and a whole bunch of other things.

After Marte, I would get a giant boost in my campaign for four baseballs in a BP-less day. Two words: Phil. Coke:

Yeah he’s one of the nicer players out there, but the reason he was so good in my quest for four baseballs on the day is he was absolutely the most wild I have ever seen a pitcher in a session of catch.

Here was my view of Coke and his throwing partner, the other bullpen catcher, Scott Pickens:

To give you an idea of Coke’s wildness in this particular session, Pickens was at least thirty feet in front of the stands. Now that you have this fact in your mind: Coke threw four balls into the stands by me. The first almost decapitated me because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time. I ducked just in time as the ball whizzed over my head, bounced off a seat two rows behind me, and bounced back onto the field. After that I was sure to pay attention. The next ball actually technically didn’t make it into the stands on the fly. As soon as the ball was half-way between Coke and Pickens, I could tell it was sailing way over Pickens’ head, so I moved into position and caught the ball right at the wall. So even though I was in the stands, I caught the ball itself over the field of play. Without a hesitation, I gave the ball back to Pickens and he told me he would give me the ball when they were done throwing.

The third ball was a HUMONGOUS overthrow that sailed over even my head. It then bounced off of a seat behind me and bounced back towards me. At this point, I acted like a catcher who was blocking a ball in the dirt and just blocked the ball with my chest, deflecting it to the seats to my left. Basically, this was the path of the ball:

After I deflected the ball, I ran after it and just barely scooped it up before anyone else could get to it. I then proceeded to give the ball to the second-closest to the ball who just happened to be a ten-year old boy with a glove. This was technically my second ball of the day since I gave the first overthrow I snagged back to Pickens. I was gave away two consecutive baseballs because I knew I was approaching milestone/goal territory and I wouldn’t want to give away any of the latter balls I snagged in the day.

 

Then a fourth bounced to almost the exact same location, but this time, there was someone closer to me after the deflection, so he scooped it up. I really didn’t have a chance because I wasn’t paying attention to Coke at the time, Instead, I was talking to the family I gave the Marte ball to, so I didn’t see the ball until I turned around and saw it hit the seats.

 

When Coke finally finished throwing, he came to sign autographs. Pickens headed straight for the dugout and Coke headed straight for the foul line. This is where he showed his awesomeness. First, there were a bunch of baseballs sitting on the foul line. He picked up a couple of baseballs. The first he threw up to the second level. When the woman who he threw it to didn’t catch it, he jokingly got on her case by flinging his glove on the ground, yelling “COME ON!”, and then using her former softball playing to further his discussion even though she was a hundred feet away. The second ball also went to that woman and she caught it this time. (No glove on, by the way.) He then came over to start signing. While he started signing, he asked me if Pickens had given me the ball. When I said no, he jokingly reprimanded Pickens for not doing so and tossed me a ball:

While he kept signing, we talked for 1-2 minutes about the ball he just tossed me and why I hadn’t snagged the last ball he threw into the crowd. I realize that doesn’t seem like that long time, but it is when you consider it was a major league player I was talking  to, it’s pretty special.

 

Because I had to get four baseballs in a BP-less game, I got a ticket in Target Field’s “moat” to have a shot at a ball during the game, since I figured I would enter the game under four baseballs for the day.I waited there until the position players came out to throw. When they finished throwing, I got Andy Dirks to toss me career baseball number 444:

Oh. Yes:

This effectively eliminated the possibility of me going to a playoff game in 2012 (I didn’t, but I was seriously considering a trip to Detroit.) What it also did was it made it so I wouldn’t have to sit by the dugout for the game. Sure, those seats are nice and all, but I wanted to end my season with a game home run if I could. So instead, I stood out here for most of the game:

How awesome would it be to end my season with a Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, or Joe Mauer home run. Or even better, an opposite field bomb by Miguel Cabrera to lock-up the triple crown for him. Alas, the only home run any of those players hit was a Prince Fielder home run to left field.

 

In the middle innings, though, I was kind of tired, so I decided to do something I had always wanted to do at a major league stadium but was always to busy running around to do: I went to Target Field’s Best Buy gaming station to play MLB The Show:

Yeah, for one real baseball inning, I was that guy who pays no attention to the game and just plays video games at a baseball stadium. And you know what, it felt nice to relax a little in frantically trying to get to first fifty games in the season and then reach 444 career baseballs, I hadn’t had much of a break in the action between ballhawking, blogging, and schoolwork. (If you’ve noticed the relaxed pace of entries lately, it’s because I still had some overload left in me. I’ll be ramping the blogging schedule back up in a bit.) So yeah, it was nice:

For the record, I was the Nationals; not the Astros.

 

When I realized I was never going to score any runs because I had no clue how to hit in the game (yes, it took three innings to realize this),  I headed back out to the standing room section just in time:

That would be Mike. He and his friend (not pictured) are– besides myself, Tony Voda, and Paul Kom– the closest thing Target Field has to regular ballhawks. I believe they are both season ticket holders, but they only try to catch baseballs on less than half of the games they go to. Anyway, he was dressed in this get-up to pay homage to Red Solo Cup. If you don’t know about it, don’t worry, I didn’t know about the song until I got to Minnesota. Mike pretty much always has the hat on, but this was the first time I had seen him with the cup costume itself.

 

As previously mentioned, there was no action out on the standing room. At the end of the game, I headed down to the moat and got a ball from home plate umpire, Jim Wolf:

This meant I had officially “passed” my goal of 222 baseballs in 2012. Yay?

 

After which, I simultaneously tried to get the lineup card(s) from Jim Leyland and tried to get a ball from the Tigers relievers coming back from the bullpen:

It wasn’t because of my multitasking, but I failed at both. When I realized there would be no on-field demo by FSN due to Kids Run The Bases, I went around the stadium saying goodbye to all of the ushers I had met in the last month of season and I headed out.

 

One last thing before I get to the stats portion of the entry: my next entry will be a statistical recap of the season. I have a general idea of how I’m going to go about it alla last year’s review, but let me know in the comments below if you have any ideas for stats you think of or anything you would like to see in review of the season.

 

STATS:

  • 5 Baseballs at this game (3 pictured because I gave 2 away):

Numbers 441-445 for my career:

  • 223 Balls in 53 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 32,554 Fans= 162,770 Competition Factor
  • 62 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 12 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
  • 55 Balls in 14 Games= 3.93 Balls Per Game
  • 13 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 12 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • 2 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 11: 44- 4:47= 5 Hours 3 Minutes

9/29/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

It was the late afternoon, and I was back to Target Field for my second game of Fan Appreciation Weekend:

When I got in, all I can say is: I love Fox’s Saturday game-of-the-week:

Coming into this series, I figured I would have one game with batting practice (Friday) and two without (Saturday and Sunday). Because of Fox, this game got moved to 3:00 from its regular time of 12:00, thus making it so the cage was up when I got in– meaning their *would* be batting practice.

Except, on further inspection, it would only be the Tigers taking batting practice:

20121024-131440.jpgWhatever. I was expecting NO batting practice, so any at all was just fine with me.

As you can see, I was behind the Tigers’ dugout. So when Danny Worth came out with a baseball but no throwing partner, I–as I do with most players– half-jokingly asked him if he wanted to play catch. Upon me asking, he threw me the ball. We ended up having a 5-minute catch that ended in me throwing an extremely bad slider. Here he is going out to throw after his partner showed up:

20121024-135330.jpgAll I can say is it’s always a great experience to play catch with a major league player. I don’t care if it’s someone most people have never heard of, it’s a fun experience.

Anyway, Worth played catch for a while before heading into the field to work on his defense:

20121024-142601.jpgOn his way to second base, he hooked me up with not the ball we played catch with but a different ball. I promptly gave it away to a kid by the dugout. (Not the one in the orange in the previous picture.)

After that, I headed down the line to try to get a ball from the Tigers’ pitchers who were warming up:

20121024-143115.jpg

Except, if you can see, the two players closest to me were the Tigers’ two bullpen catchers, Scott Pickens and another one not on the roster. When Scott Pickens finished throwing, I asked him for the ball and he gladly obliged:

After that, I headed up to the left field bleachers for Miguel Cabrera’s group:

And this was the view to my left:

And this was the view to my left:

Unlike the previous day, the Tigers were indeed hitting balls to the first level in left field. Unfortunately, I ended up with the same amount of baseballs after this group as I did the previous day: zero. The guy you see in the orange in the last picture was right on the staircase I wanted to be on. In addition to that, by the way he moved in the bleachers, I could tell this wasn’t his first game trying to catch baseballs. In other words: he had range. This range resulted me in having to be a full section away from him if I hoped to catch anything, and the Tigers hit all of their baseballs outside of my range as a result.

In the next group, I headed over to right field as it was highlighted by Andy Dirks and Don Kelly (two lefties). While I was out in the standing room, I got this ball off the bat of Kelly:

Right off his bat, it bounced off the second deck you see in the picture. As I was running back to see where it was going, it was bouncing down the stairs. However, I wasn’t the only one chasing after the ball; there was actually another guy who had me beat as it went down the stairs. What happened was he took the wrong route to the ball. Before I explain his mistake, here is the ball’s path:

The ball bounced behind this souvenir stand. The other guy ran directly after the ball, going behind the stand as well. Meanwhile, I knew the concrete behind the stand in addition to the ball’s trajectory meant the ball would be most quickly reached by going in front of the stand, so I did that and awaited the ball like it was a routine ground ball.

During my time in right field, I was alternating between standing in the actual seats and the standing room itself. In my “actual seat” portion of batting practice, I convinced Brayan Villarreal to toss me a ball. Actually, I think “convinced” is too active a word. I pretty much tipped my Tigers cap at him when he looked my way and he tossed me the next ball he fielded:

That would be it for batting practice. Four balls was good, but there was almost certainly not going to be batting practice the next day, so if I stayed where I was for the day, I would have had to get five balls the final day to get to my goal of 444 career baseballs. As much as I don’t like to doubt what I can and can’t do, I preferred my chances of getting to my goal if I got as many baseballs as I could this day and not have to rely on a ridiculous non-BP day to get to my goal. Where I’m going with in all of this is that this was my view for position player pre-game warm-ups. Except there was one problem:

There were three baseballs brought out, but only one person brought his glove out. Thankfully, Austin Jackson righted this problem by tossing the two excess baseballs into the crowd even though no one played catch with them (one of many examples I have seen of him being a nice guy):

For those math majors of you at home, you’ll know that was my fifth ball of the day. This is great considering I didn’t expect to have any batting practice. What’s even better? This was my view for the game:

I didn’t get anything there, but there was a funny aspect of this game: It was the end of September in Minnesota, yet it was very warm. As I write this, Minnesota has shown its much cooler side (it’s 45 degrees), but at the time, it was so hot I had an excuse to finally buy a bottle (can?) of Harmon Killebrew root beer:

It was probably the best root beer I’ve ever had (but still not worth the $4.50 I paid for it…even if root beer is my favorite type of soda). Anyway, that was it for the day. It would leave me at 440 career baseballs. I would return the next day to attempt to get four baseballs in a BP-less day to reach my season’s goal of 222 baseballs I set in this entry.

STATS:

  • 5 Baseballs at this game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away)

Numbers 436-440 for my lifetime:

  • 218 Balls in 52 Games= 4.19 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 32,839 Fans= 164,195 Competition Factor
  • 61 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 11 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 50 Balls in 13 Games at Target Field= 3.85 Balls Per Game
  • 12 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 11 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 11:07- 7:12= 8 Hours 5 Minutes

9/28/12 Tigers at Twins: Target Field

So I filmed a Before The Gates Open Video… Wanna see it? Too bad, I’m showing you anyway:

Since it was Friday, the stadium opened 2 hours early– or when the Twins were still hitting. I didn’t get anything from the Twins. When the Tigers started to warm up, this was my view:

If you couldn’t tell, those were the position players. Both them and the pitchers didn’t give in to my requests for baseballs. Well not all of them, but while I was in the midst of waiting for players to finish throwing, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder’s hitting group started hitting. I first saw Cabrera, so I rushed over here:

At the time, Miguel Cabrera was only a couple home runs from having an outright triple crown. Let me just say this: I can see why he was in this position. He was hitting line drives everywhere on the field. Do you want to know what’s scary? It’s that he’s just so much more talented than other people. Major League Baseball is a place for freaks of nature. Miguel Cabrera is a freak among freaks.

Sadly, him and the other righty hitters in his group were hitting the ball too far, and were making on of the ballhawking flaws of Target Field very evident: besides the fact that you risk serious injury going up and down the bleachers due to the slope of it, this is also the view from the front row when you stare straight up:

That would be the overhang of the second deck. Because of the second deck, there are very few rows in the left field bleachers where a home run can be hit to without having to be a line drive.

It was a try unlucky day for me in general. Before the gates opened, when both Paul and Tony said they would be going into the standing room for Prince Fielder’s at-bats, I stated I would be going up to the second deck because I thought he’d be hitting them up there. Instead, I decided to try my luck in the standing room for Fielder’s at-bats. And whadda ya know, Fielder wasn’t hitting much at all, but whatever he did hit was going into the second deck. In running to right field for Fielder’s at-bats, I only missed one round of one righty hitter. In that round, Delmon Young hit THREE baseballs within five feet of where I had been standing for the righties. It was a generally disappointing group given it contained Fielder, Young, AND Cabrera. At the end of that group, I expected to have five baseballs; instead I was still at zero.

I was unable to get anything else for a long period in BP. Towards the end of it, though, I got Phil Coke to toss me a ball in the left-center field corner; I quickly gave it away to a kid right next to me who had also been calling out to him. I got a nod from Coke in response, so that was fun.

At the very end of batting practice, I went down to the Tigers’ dugout. I got there just as the equipment guy for the Tigers was packing up the balls. As he was bringing them into the dugout, I asked him if I could possibly have “the dirtiest ball in the bag. A ball that’s just a disgrace to the Tigers organization.” As he entered the dugout, and Paul said, “I’ve never heard someone say that before,” I thought my chances at the dugout were over. Just as I was about to leave, the guy came back out and tossed me my second ball of the game

He also tossed Paul his third ball of the game. (If you want to read Paul’s full account of the game, here’s the link.) (Oh, and if you want to read Tony’s, here’s that too. They’re both running some really great blogs….unless you hate the Twins. In that case, don’t read Tony’s blog. He’s a “real” fan. As in he writes about the team itself on his blog instead of just ballhawking/ MLB stuff like myself and Paul. If  it’s not the Twins but ballhawks you hate, then why are you reading this in the first place?)

Paul and I had no idea who he was, but as he was walking back into the dugout, he acknowledged a kid who called him Mario. We then both headed over to the bullpens to try to get a ball there:

I didn’t get anything from the coaches, but when Gerald Laird came out to warm up, I got him to throw me his warm-up ball after he was done playing catch:

I then continued to watch my new friend, Gerald, catch the pre-game bullpen session:

While this was going on, an usher who has always patrolled the staircase nearest to the bullpens, came up to us. Ironically right after Paul had told me this usher had kicked him out of the section once. What he did was pretty much the opposite. He told us we were welcome to sit in his section if we wanted to, but we just couldn’t stand on the aisle to watch the pitcher warm up; we would have to be in the bleacher-ed section of the seats. We even talked with him about how he had been an usher at Tigers Stadium for a while before going to Vietnam and then started ushering many decades ago in there Metrodome. Sadly, though, I *had* to sit in my seat in first-base foul ground, so I couldn’t take him up on his offer.

For the game, this was my view of the action:

The reason I “had” to sit in foul ground was this:

My mom was in town for parent’s weekend, so she decided to accompany me at game time. Actually, though, I should clarify: I wasn’t in my seat *all* the time; I still went to the standing room for power-hitting lefties, but I spent the rest of the game with her– the fact that she was paying for this game didn’t hurt either.

As for the game, Ryan Doumit was able to single-handedly drive in all four of the Twins’ runs as they sped to a 4-2 victory, which meant I got to see Glen Perkins close the game even though the crowd got excited to see Matt Capps warming up in the bullpen as if he was going to come into the game.

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)

Numbers 343- 345 for my life:

  • 213 Balls in 51 Games= 4.18 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 30,315 Fans= 90,945 Competition Factor
  • 60 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 10 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 45 Balls in 12 Games at Target Field= 3.75 Balls Per Game
  • 11 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 10 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 3:27- 10:32= 7 Hours 5 Minutes

9/16/12 White Sox at Twins: Target Field

How do I spend my Sundays? I go to Twins games when there is no batting practice?

Apparently, the Twins *never* take batting practice on Sundays. I learned this from various ushers. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Anyway, I was pretty much the first one at the gate, expecting there to be potential baseballs to catch, but I just had to stand outside for half-an-hour doing nothing.

When I got in, I saw that no Twins were doing anything. However, two White Sox were throwing, so I headed over there to the third base side of the field while changing my gear. Minutes later, I was the first person in the ballpark to snag a ball by getting Dylan Axelrod to toss me a ball:

Here’s a cruddy diagram of the throw- with a poorly chosen color choice for the arrow:

Then, because nothing else was going on at the time, I headed over to watch Axelrod and some other White Sox pitchers throw bullpen sessions:

I did this for about ten minutes, but I then saw there were Twins pitchers warming up across the field:

So I went over there to try to get a ball from them:

There was only one problem: after about ten minutes of them stretching, there were signs of life on the White Sox’s side of the field:

So I had the decision to make: go over there, or stay where I was.

For the “pro”s of staying, I had:

1. I wouldn’t have to move and regret it if I didn’t get anything from the group.

For the “con”s, I had:

1. I would be pretty much the only one with White Sox gear on.

2. There weren’t that many people period on that side. (As opposed to this side where this was the crowd):

3. I wouldn’t have to comet with a bunch of kids.

4. Since I haven’t seen them that much in batting practice, I essentially knew the Twins as well as I did the White Sox.

Anyway, even though all common sense pointed to going to the White Sox’s side, I stayed on the Twins side because I figured the Twins would finish first, and I could maybe get over to the White Sox side just as they were finishing.

Well, after he finished catching baseballs by running in football-esque running patterns, I yelled out to Tyler Robertson, and he tossed me a ball. Then, in the same motions I caught the ball, I handed it to the kid next to me. Here is Robertson walking away with the kid also in the shot:

Right after I took the picture, I ran over to the White Sox side. Much to my surprise, only one throwing pair had finished and headed in to the clubhouse by the time I got over there. Also to my surprise, despite this fact, I didn’t get a single ball from them. They just waited to toss the balls up until when they were closer to the dugout and I wasn’t by the dugout, so I missed out on all opportunities.

 

Although, it was fun to see Chris Sale talk for half-an-hour with some fans:

I like it when athletes don’t feel so above people to for even a little time when they have nothing else to do. I don’t think I worded that last sentence as well as I could have.

 

That was it for pre-game warm-ups snagging-wise, but there was something else interesting brewing in Target Field:

But since I had no clue what it was, I asked the teacher in charge of the operation. What I found out was they were a group of University of Minnesota students preparing to launch a weather balloon with a baseball attached to it signed by Justin Morneau. The balloon you saw in the last picture was the test balloon. This is what happened when they launched it:

Yeah, it went high.

 

Oh, and in between the practice balloon and the real one, I marveled at the work of art that is the Target Field visitors dugout roof:

That might not seem like much, but most dugout roofs are just slabs of concrete with paint on it. Heck, if you’re at Citi Field, they didn’t even put in the effort to paint it; they just put slabs of pre-made dugout designs on it:

In the pre-game ceremonies, I got to see the students inflating the balloon:

And here is the ball attached to the balloon on the Jumbotron:

As I mentioned on Twitter, I had half a mind to try to shoot down the balloon and try to snag the ball. Anyway, here is the balloon going up-up-and -away:

Fun stuff.

 

Anyway, this was my view for the game:

I didn’t get a third-out ball, because for whatever reason, Adam Dunn and whoever tossed the ball to Alexi Ramirez, who always tossed the ball away to a section that wasn’t the one I was in. When Gordon Beckham caught a line drive for the third out of the inning, I was sure I had a ball awaiting me. You see, before the game, I had yelled out happy birthday to him, and he acknowledged me by saying thank you. Unfortunately, he too threw the ball to Ramirez. As a result, the only ball I got at the dugout was a ball after he game from umpire, Gary Cederstrom:

That made three balls on the day for me. I then got to see Dan Johnson say hi to his wife and kids:

And then I got him to give me the whole bag of ball in the dugout. Well, no, but I got him to shake my hand.

 

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)

 

Numbers 425-427 for my career:

 

  • 205 Balls in 49 Games= 4.18 Balls Per Game
  • 58 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
  • 37 Balls in 10 Games at Target Field= 3.70 Balls Per Game
  • 9 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
  • 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
  • Time Spent On Game 9:31- 5:06= 7 Hours 35 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

8/21/12 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

Less than fifteen hours after saying goodbye to him in the morning, Rick Gold and I met up at the gates of Nationals Park for our 10th and final game together in 2012:

20120830-171724.jpgIf you haven’t read the entry, Rick and I were on a bus together close to 2 o’clock that same morning. It was one of those times for a sarcastic “Long time no see”, since both of us had woken up pretty soon before that.

Speaking of people sleeping, that’s what the Nationals players were apparently doing, because they didn’t take batting practice:

20120831-083010.jpgSince it was my last day at Nationals Park for this year, I I used this time to say goodbye to most of the ushers I knew.

Eventually, the Nationals pitchers came out to throw, so I headed over there. Here is where a season full of pretty much not asking pitchers for baseballs came in handy (in that they probably would have recognized me if I had). I yelled out to Ryan Mattheus as he finished throwing and he tossed me the ball:

20120831-083450.jpgI was on the board!

I then just hung around until the Braves started hitting. When Juan Francisco’s group came up first, both Rick and I moved up to the second deck in right field:

20120831-103749.jpgAs I said about Francisco in the last entry, dude hits BOMBS. I mean look how far I look how far away from home plate I was:

20120831-202719.jpgUnfortunately, he took probably less than twenty swings before finishing for the day.

I headed down to the lower level for the Braves group of lefties and Dan Uggla. There, two other ballhawks (Rick and a guy whose name I don’t know) took the two best spots in right, so I was forced to just stand in a middle spot and hope I could judge the ball better than them/ jump in front of them. When Jason Heyward hit a ball to my right, the ballhawk I didn’t know ran straight to his right. Meanwhile, I knew the ball was falling short of that. I ran into the row and made the running, backhanded catch:

20120901-131345.jpgAs soon as I caught it, I searched for a kid and gave it away. I soon there after got Jonny Venters to toss me a ball and gave that too away.

That would be it for snagging. As for the game, I headed out to left field:

20120901-160836.jpgStephen Strasburg was pitching, so I figured the righty-dominant Nationals would be more likely to go yard. I was right, but it was an inning *before* I got to my seat there. Oh, and there was a rain delay where it absolutely poured. It was my third rain delay in as many days. So it really was no big deal. The most notable part of it was before the delay started, it was raining at least three times harder than it was during the rain delay the game before.

During the rain delay, I got soaked, walked through the seats looking for tickets, got soaked, said goodbye to the ushers in the ballpark, got soaked, tried to get a ball from Alan Butts, got soaked, talked to Eddie Perez. Oh, and did I mention I got soaked? I don’t think I did. It was raining pretty hard. Do you remember when I said it was raining three times harder than the previous game DURING the game? Well during the rain delay, it rained about ten times harder. The rain would step up to “next level”, and then when you thought it couldn’t rain any harder, a burst of even harder rain.

 

Anyway, for the game, Stephen Strasburg and Paul Maholm managed to survive the rain delay to pitch again afterwards (the rain delay was in the second inning). Maholm went seven innings while Strasburg went six. Unfortunately for Maholm, it’s not how long you last, it’s how many runs you give up. Strasburg allowed just one run while Maholm allowed four.

 

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave 2 away)

 

Numbers 384-386 for my “career”:

 

  • 164 Balls in 39 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
  • 3 Balls x 33,888 Fans= 101,664 Competition Factor
  • 48 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 124 Balls in 28 Games= 4.43 Balls Per Game at Nationals Park
  • 20 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
  • 2 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 3:32- 11:22= 7 Hours 50 Minutes

8/20/12 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

After a series of waiting endlessly for David Wright’s 200th home run, it was time to go back to Nationals Park for my fourth game there in as many days:

20120826-125154.jpgUsually I’m not that excited of attending four games in a row at ANY stadium, but I had come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be getting a ball tossed to me by the Nationals (intentionally, anyway) anytime soon, so I was excited for the arrival of the not-offensively-anemic Braves, who also didn’t know me.

My first ball of the day came when Gio Gonzalez hit a ball to my right. I chased after it, but someone else managed to pick it up before I could get there. He then hit a ball back to where I had previously been standing. Thankfully, no one judged it correctly, and I was able to run right to the spot and gobble it up :

20120826-130215.jpgAfter the pitchers- all of whom are righties- stopped hitting, I headed over to the right field seats for Bryce Harper’s group. I still haven’t seen one of Harper’s legendary batting practices, but I did manage to snag a ball from his bat.

I was on the middle staircase of the right field seats when Harper launched a ball to the section closest to center field. I saw this right away and raced there to scoop up the ball before anyone else could:

20120826-133446.jpgAnd yes, both of my first two balls were Shea Stadium commemorative balls.

The group then changed again and I headed over to the Red Seats for the group of Morse, Zimmerman, and Werth. During that group, I caught three balls on the fly.

The first was an extremely easy catch right smack-dab in the middle of the section where I had been standing:

20120826-134032.jpgThis was also a Shea Stadium commemorative, and was off the bat of Jayson Werth.

Speaking of Shea Stadium commemorative balls off the bat of Jayson Werth, that’s what my next (and fifth) ball of the day was. I won’t bore you with another picture of the ball in my glove, but the ball was traveling to my left, so I ran in this row and made the forehand catch over a row of seats:

20120826-135300.jpgI then asked all of the kids in the section with gloves if the hadn’t gotten a ball. When I finally got to the one who didn’t, I gave him the ball:

20120826-135543.jpg(His dad is blocking him, but you can still kind of see him in the white shirt.)

My next ball came when Ryan Zimmerman hit a high fly ball to my right. I ran as far as I could, reach over the glass that separates the Red Seats and the bullpen, and made the grab:

20120826-140110.jpgIt felt pretty awesome in that the ball would have fallen into the bullpen had it not been for me; kind of like a home run rob. For those of you keeping score at home, that was my fifth snag of the day; all of which were hit, Shea Stadium commemorative balls.

Soon after that, the Braves started throwing, so even though the Nationals were still hitting, I headed into foul ground to try to get a ball from one of them. After waiting for a while, I finally got a ball from Erik Hinske:

20120826-233310.jpgDo you see the coach crossing the field in the left part of the picture? That’s where Hinske was. He tossed the ball to me while I was right behind the wheelchair section. Unfortunately, he tossed it over my head, so it rattled around in the seats before I could secure ball #6 and thank Hinske.

I then headed over to right field for a group stacked with the Braves’ lefties. Ironically, though, my only ball from this group came when Dan Uggla hit an opposite-field home run and I played the ball off a deflection:

20120826-234426.jpgThe guy by my glove almost had it, but he botched the play, so I swooped in.

The right field seats were getting pretty crowded at this point, so I headed back over to the Red Seats. I didn’t snag a hit ball, but a fan dropped a ball into the gap, so I knew it was time to deploy the Glove Trick. However, as I lowered it down, a member of the groundscrew walked through the gap and inserted the ball in my glove. I had already promised the people next to me I would give the ball away to the kid who it was intended for, so I did when I reeled it up:

20120826-235439.jpgOkay, you’ve got three planes at work here. We’ll start closest and move back:
1. The Glove Trick- Complete with rubber band and pen to hold it open.
2. Kid- You can see the kid I gave it away to just past the glove in the red hat. He’s holding the ball between his hand and glove.
3. Groundskeeper- You can see him ducking at the very end of the gap.

Then for the end of batting practice-when Juan Francisco, who hits BOMBS, was hitting- I decided to try my luck and head up to the second deck in right field. I wasn’t the only one up there as fellow ballhawk, Rick Gold, had the same idea:

20120827-000752.jpgRick had already snagged a Francisco bomb, but there wasn’t another hit there, so I ended BP at 8 Balls.

I then headed down to the lower level in right field where, to my delight, the tarp was being pulled on the field. I may have mentioned this before, but I absolutely love when it starts raining right *after* batting practice ends. There is truly nothing more beautiful:

20120827-001251.jpgOf course, the baseball gods had to have their fun with me, so the groundscrew didn’t actually put the tarp on for at least half an hour. They just stood there with the tarp as you see it in the picture. Waiting to make sure the rain was sufficient to put the tarp on the field.

As for the game, the Nationals jumped out to an early 4-1 lead. The Braves then picked away at the lead to tie the game 4-4. What happens when a game is tied after the ninth inning? FREE BASEBALL!!

The game had already been delayed an hour by the rain. So when it came time for extra innings, most of the fans left the stadium. When this happened, I stood up the rest of the game and waited for any ball to come my way:

20120827-113708.jpgActually, since most of the ushers had left, I ran back and forth between right and left field depending on the hitter; just like old times at Nationals Park. If you’re newish to the blog, I used to buy two tickets on either side of the outfield on Nationals Park and would run back and forth during the game depending on whether a righty or a lefty was hitting. I rationalized it by saying that I was spending about the same on two outfield tickets as I would have on one ticket at Citi Field. (Last year, I was. The cheapest ticket at Citi Field was $23. With my student discount, the outfield tickets at Nationals Park were/are $13 each.)

Anyway, check out the emptiness that allowed me to stand up- and not block anyone’s view:

20120827-122407.jpg

20120827-122431.jpg

20120827-122453.jpgIf I’ve never mentioned it before I absolutely LOVE when a game feels like batting practice. Even if nothing comes my way, I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world at that moment.

Long story short: nothing reached the seats for the rest of the game. Eventually, the Nationals won on a Dan Uggla bobble. Also during the game, I gave away five, count ‘em, FIVE baseballs away to the usher who’s let me sit in the right field seats since last year. Usually he’s pretty reasonable with his requests (usually one or two balls), but apparently there was a family in from Chicago, so in addition to the two I usually give him, he asked for three others. Also, I should mention this isn’t just an usher being greedy. He gives all the balls I give him away to kids, elders, or other people in the section. That said, I gave away two on my own, the usher took five, so of the eight balls I snagged, I only kept the best Shea Stadium ball. That’s right, I gave away SEVEN of my eight baseballs. (Actually, I technically gave away eight. The usher offered me an exchange where he have me one of Rick Gold’s balls for one of my Shea balls, but he then asked for THAT ball to give to someone.

After the game, a security guard threw a bunch of balls at fans in the stands, but he had THE worst aim I’ve ever seen and about five of them bounced back onto the field. I just stood on top of one of the balls and asked each person that passed it if they could toss the ball up to me. Security Guard? “I’m on duty. I have to stand in this exact spot.” Police Officer? “No, I can’t.” Groundscrew? “No, we’re not allowed to.” It was just sitting there on the warning track:

20120827-140726.jpg(The other two shadows you see are of an Asian couple who was also waiting for the ball to be tossed up. Eventually, a guy in a dress shirt walked by, so I asked him point blank, “Can you toss me that ball, please?” He bent down, grabbed the ball, and kept walking to the dugout. Here he is on his way over there:

20120827-141148.jpgThat’s a clown move, bro.

At this point, it was about 12:35, so I figured, ” I don’t have anywhere to be any time soon; I’m going to see if there’s a ball left in the bullpen.” Turns out there was- in the bottom right quadrant of the picture, against the black background:

20120827-142114.jpgI asked the bullpen attendant in the upper left corner if he could toss me the ball, but he kind of shrugged and said something I couldn’t hear.

I was just about to leave, when the security guard came in from the warning track by the Nationals dugout. The bullpen motioned for me to stop, and asked the security guard something. He then picked up the ball and tossed it to me:

20120827-163549.jpgMany thanks, Mr. Bullpen Attendant. At 12:45 AM, that was the latest I had ever snagged a baseball. Actually, forget snag a baseball; that was the latest I had ever been in a baseball stadium period.

Not surprisingly, by the time I got out of the stadium, the Metro was closed:

20120827-170534.jpgThat meant I had to figure out the Washington bus system. Let me just show you a map of the Washington bus map:

20120827-171200.jpgCan you imagine navigating that for the first time without ever doing it previously?

Once I got out of the stadium, I must have walked back and forth a mile before I finally got to the right bus stop. After taking the bus a stop, I ran into a familiar face in Rick (as in Gold). Turns out, we were both going the same direction. We took the bus until the end of the line. We then got off by Washington’s Archives building. Our next bus wasn’t due for another half hour. We discussed things from the renovation in Oakland’s coliseum to what the heck I was supposed to use an iPad for.

Once we got on the second bus, we ran into someone we both knew. It was the usher I mentioned earlier, Benny. I must say, Benny is one of the more entertaining ushers I have ever seen. Probably the most energetic. He is one of the most meticulous ushers about his duty before the game, but once the game begins, he is a dancer. Anyway, here is my view at 1:45 in the morning on the second bus:

20120827-214331.jpgI can now say that my whole midnight adventure was fun, but at the time it was more like a “what am I doing?” feeling.

STATS:
• 9 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 7 away)

20120827-214532.jpgNumbers 375-381 for my life:

20120827-214629.jpg• 161 Balls (as many as I had last year in 46 Games) in 38 Games= 4.24 Balls Per Game
• 9 Balls x 21,298 Fans= 191,682 Competition Factor
• 47 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 121 Balls in 27 Games at Nationals Park= 4.48 Balls Per Game
• 19 straight Games in Nationals Park with at least 1 Ball
• 3 straight Games in Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:42- 1:52= 10 Hours 10 Minutes
• With my first “9” game, I have now snagged in a game every total from 0 to 11 baseballs at a game.

8/15/12 Rangers at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

What happens when you’re having an incredibly frustrating series and there’s almost a guarantee of rain, but you “have” to get to at least 17 more games in a month-and-a-half? You end up going to games you otherwise wouldn’t have. I knew going in there was not going to be batting practice, but then I saw how big the line was and let out a sigh:

20120819-135236.jpgOy. It’s tough enough to deal with that kind of crowd when there’s ball after ball being hit; never mind when it would be all of us competing for a couple pitchers warm-up balls.

When I entered the ballpark, I was forced to submit to the inevitable truth that there was no batting practice. On a completely unrelated note: Great day for a beach mat giveaway, eh?

20120819-135807.jpgActually, for some practically-thinking people, it was. They used it to separate themselves from their wet seats.

From the time I got into the seating bowl to the time the players started throwing, there was a lull of about half-an-hour, which I filled up by talking to the ballhawks in attendance, Zack Hample and Takyi Chan (I have mentioned him as “Tak” in past entries).

When the players did start throwing, I got a ball. But it wasn’t a player at all who threw it; it was a coach:

20120819-143828.jpgMore specifically, Andy Hawkins, the bullpen coach. He was throwing with the pitching coach Mike Maddux, so when he finished, I waved my arms, said some words, and he tossed me the ball.

Then it was time for this:

20120819-232617.jpgAfter about an hour of delay, this was the view of the field:

20120819-232832.jpgThere was one thing that caught my eye, though. Can you spot it?

20120819-232958.jpgThat’s right; there was a ball on the warning track. One of the Rangers players overthrew the ball while warming up and the ball sat there for almost the entirety of the nearly two hour rain delay.

Do you see the guy taking down the pole in the bullpen? By the time he was done taking down the poles, I was right next to the bullpen. When he was taking down the last pole, I said, “Excuse me, when you’re done…” he glanced at me, but looked away and never came back. Thankfully, another groundskeeper was walking right by the ball. So I got his attention and showed him where the balls was through hand signals. He picked up the ball, and walked over to toss me the ball:

20120820-002110.jpgThat was it for the game snagging-wise. The game itself was really Josh Hamilton vs. The Yankees. Hamilton finally hit his first and second home runs ever at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately for the Rangers, that’s all they got out of their offense. It was a pretty bad series for an offensive powerhouse like themselves if you ask me.

Anyway, by the time the game finally ended, I was one of the proud few fans leaving at nearly 12:30:

20120820-134330.jpgYeah, that’s what Yankee Stadium’s exiting crowd looks like when it’s NOT crowded. Getting to the train is often one of the worst parts of each trip to a Yankees game.

STATS:
• 2 Balls at this game

20120820-144541.jpgNumbers 366-367:

20120820-144601.jpg• 145 Balls in 34 Games= 4.26 Balls Per Game
• 43 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 19 straight Games with at least 2Balls
• 88 Balls in 24 Games at the New Yankee Stadium= 3.67 Balls Per Game
• 24 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 1 Ball
• 9 straight Games at the New Yankee Stadium with at least 2 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 3:29-12:45= 9 Hours 16 Minutes

7/23/12 Nationals at Mets: Citi Field

Look where I was on the one-year anniversary of the first BallhawkFest:

20120802-125606.jpgWhen I got there, though, the day-of-game-tickets windows were closed and I found out there was only one student ticket left. The windows were going to open at 5:00 (ten minutes before the gates), so I either going to get that last ticket or go home. Would I get the last ticket and get to go in, just decide to splurge on a more expensive ticket, or would I get locked out of the stadium and have to wander around and take pictures like this game? While you wonder, I’ll inject this anecdote to build suspense for the answer [insert childish giggle here].

While I was waiting for the windows open, a guy approached me and said “Hi”. This guy was Chris Hernandez, a fairly new ballhawk, who those of you who read the comments may know better as “ch1088″. If you would like to read it, he already posted his entry of this game. The link to which is hiagh. His girlfriend and a friend of hers were with him, so those two held a spot for both of us.

Why did I need a spot in line? I got this at the ticket window:

20120803-163712.jpgSuccess!

The lines were rather long, but instead of being at the back of them, thanks to Chris and his friends, I “only” had this many people in front of me:

20120803-214503.jpgTurns out, even though it was perfectly sunny for half-an-hour before the gates open, it didn’t matter where I was in line, when I raced in, this was what I saw:

20120803-232727.jpgDo you know how car sickness works? Basically, your brain gets confused because your eyes tell you you’re moving, but you yourself aren’t, so you get nauseous -or something along those lines. I don’t really get car sick anymore, instead I get grounds crew sick. Instead I get nauseous when I see sun and feel warmth, but there is a tarp on the field.

Long story short: I got rejected by every one of the Nationals pitchers. Actually, I even got rejected by the position players that came out to throw. I’d estimate that fifteen balls were thrown in the stands by the Nationals. By the way, I’m not complaining, just reporting what happened. There were a ton of balls that left the hands of Nationals and fell into the stands, and I was having some bad luck considering there weren’t that many fans and I was one of the few with Nationals gear.

At this time, I was pretty sure that if I got a ball, it was going to be at the Nationals dugout during the game. Spoiler alert: my streak of bad luck with third-out balls and I didn’t get anything at the dugout the whole game. Anyway, I almost got three balls from Drew Storen when he bounced three slider into the dirt. I would have gotten each of the had it not been for the wheelchair section they all bounced into. All of them were going right in my direction, but all fell short in front of me where other people got them since I couldn’t go into the section. No, I didn’t get a ball from Storen, but when the position players came out to warm-up, you can bet I was waiting for them to finish and toss me a ball:

20120804-002653.jpgActually, though, none of the position players tossed me the ball. See the guy in the Red? My guess is he’s a Strength and Conditioning guy. Anyway, after all of the players had gone into the dugout, he tossed me one of the balls they had left on the field. Here is a diagram of what happened:

The horizontal arrow starts from where the guy was standing and ends where I was standing when he threw the ball. The vertical arrow points to the kid I gave the ball away to right after I caught the ball. It was a perfectly good ball, but I was in essence making a sacrifice to the baseball gods for not shutting me out. Don’t you just love my religion? All of same practices and rationale but no dying is involved. Also, you can see Chris at the far left of the picture. He’s the one standing up in the red. The reason being, he was trying to get a ball from the Nationals dugout. He was constantly coaxing them into throwing him a ball, but got dissed each time.

The game wasn’t particularly interesting during the middle innings, this was all I snagged through six innings:

20120804-135728.jpgIan Desmond was throwing gum into the stands, so I used my Nationals gear to get a piece.

Something else was happening at this time. Can you spot it in this picture? (you can click on the picture to get a closer look):

20120804-143957.jpgIf you spotted it, kudos to you. Here’s a better picture of the wackiness I

20120804-144216.jpgApparently, it was Star Wars night. Whatever that means. I’m actually kind of disappointed. I wonder if that means fans could dress up. It looked like it was only special people that were dressed up.

By the time I saw the Star Wars people in the concourse, it had already been raining for a while. I liked it. When it rains, less people are in the stands. That’s just one example, but you can read a lot more reasons to attend a game where there is rain in my most recent mygameballs.com column, The Rainy Day Gambit.

Then, in the latter innings, it started to pour. Ian Desmond decided to be a little more generous to the fans that stuck around:

20120804-232503.jpgI should note the guard in the background was smiling at the fact I was taking pictures of gum.

Also in the latter innings, the seats were empty enough for me to walk around without getting in anyone’s way, so I did:

20120804-232930.jpgEven though the Mets are a sub-.500 team, the left field seats always seemed to be packed, so take my word for it that it’s pretty empty in that picture, in the spot that’s exposed to rain anyway.

20120804-233156.jpgI just wanted to take a picture right down the line…so there.

20120804-235332.jpgDo you see how empty it was? I mean this kind of emptiness is nothing new to me just because I’m insane and brave ridiculous weather in the name of baseball, but why does it take a rain storm for either New York stadium to be this empty? The game went into extra innings (for the second time in four games between these two teams- all of which I attended), and the combination of that, the Mets giving up six runs in the top of the tenth, and the rain made foul ground ballhawking heaven. It was like batting practice but during the game. What do I mean by that? People were actually standing up with their gloves on:

20120805-000614.jpgI’m not kidding you, if the Nationals sent a righty to pitch instead of Tom Gorzelanny, I might have caught three foul balls. I had a reasonable shot at catching anything hit within four sections of me. I was sitting close to the dugouts, so here’s a better look at how empty it was there:

20120805-001346.jpgAlso, I should probably mention that part of the reason I say I could have gotten maybe three foul balls is I actually *did* get a foul ball in the top of the tenth that landed one and a half sections away:

20120805-002313.jpgI’ll show you how it happened via diagram:

Danny Espinosa fouled a ball off that went pretty high, so I raced from the section to the left of where I took this picture from and just as the ball landed, I was on the first staircase you see in this picture. The ball then bounced off the seat and whizzed right by my ear. It then hit the first “elevated” row and bounced into the row under that. I had changed direction and was the only one within twenty feet of the ball, so I picked it up. Here is the ball with the spot I picked it up in the background:

It was fun, and just like that, I had my first hit “game” ball of the year.

After the game, I headed over to the umpire tunnel, but the folks at MLB.com mistakenly had David Rackley as the home plate umpire in the box score. I had gotten a ball from David Rackley earlier in the year, so I knew it wasn’t him. During the bottom of the tenth, I figured out the umpire was Alan Porter, with the help of Greg Barasch, who was at home watching the game. When the game ended, I headed to the first row of the section and yelled out to Porter before anyone else had access to him and he tossed me the ball:

At the umpire tunnel, I ran into Mark McConville, who you may remember from me mentioning a few times in entries last month. We really hadn’t said hi to each other yet, so we walked out of the stadium after none of the Nationals pitchers (the ones that were left anyway) didn’t toss any balls into the crowd.

STATS:

  • 3 Balls at this game ( I gave one away)

Numbers 355-357 for my lifetime (I’m showing the logos because they were both commemorative):

  • 135 Balls in 30 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game (16 balls under 500)
  • 3 Balls x 26,735 Fans= 80,205 Competition Factor
  • 39 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 15 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
  • 3 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 82 Balls in 31 Games at Citi Field= 2.65 Balls Per Game
  • 31 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 1 Ball
  • 3 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 2 Balls
  • 3 straight Games at Citi Field with at least 3 Balls
  • Time Spent On Game 3:32- 11:24= 7 Hours 52 Minutes
  • 1 Hit Game Ball this season
  • 5 Pieces of bubblegum snagged and chewed at this game

7/8/12 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

I was back at Nationals Park for my fourth game there in as many days:
If you’re wondering, that’s a look of: “Sure, four games in a row here is nice and all, but am I really doing this?” As I took this picture, the time was approximately 10:00. I saw the schedule and saw a 1:00 game, so I got there half-an-hour before I thought the gates would open (10:30). All I saw when I got to the gates, though, was this:
After looking at the Nationals schedule on my phone, I found out it was actually a 1:35 game. This meant the gates wouldn’t open for another hour. To pass the time, I wrote and published one of my entries, while sitting inside the air-conditioned ticket office.

It was a day game after a 4:00 game, so I thought there might be batting practice, but once I finally DID get in the stadium, this was all the action on the field:
That would be bullpen coach Jim Wright throwing with one of the pitchers. Eventually the pitcher went into the bullpen and so did Wright. When the pitcher finished said session, Wright tossed me a ball out of nowhere. I didn’t even have my glove on when I caught it:
Then everyone exited the bullpen. Everyone except Wright. When he finally did, I had already numbered my ball, so I was worried he would see that, but regardless, I asked Wright if he wanted to play catch. He said he had to go, but that he would play for a couple of minutes. Wright is obviously in the distance, but here’s where each of us were when we threw together:
I was the only one in the seating area at this point, so it was an amazing experience to throw curveballs, among other pitches, to a person on a major league team; albeit not a player, what was seemingly all alone in the stadium (I am 100% sure there were other fans in the stadium, but they were taking shelter from the heat.). Finally, Wright said he had to go, so we stopped playing catch. The reason he “had” to go was the pitchers had come out to stop warming up. Here is Wright with the pitchers:
None of the pitchers had seen me get the ball form Wright, so it would be easy to get a ball from them, but I was nervous about asking them for a ball while Wright was around. After a few minutes, though, Wright headed into the dugout and I got Rex Brothers to toss me a ball by running deep into the section and having him “toss it to me long”:
After this, Rockies and Nationals catch partners alternated coming out. So I ran back and forth trying to get a ball from them. When Brothers and his partner finished up, the Nationals pitchers went through their warm up and were just finishing their throwing session. When they finished, a pair of Rockies had come out and were nearing the end of their throwing. I didn’t get a ball from this, but it was fun doing it. I also wasn’t the only one. After I headed to right field to try to get a ball from the Nationals relievers, I noticed this guy had also come over and had changed gear on his way as well:
I would eventually find out this was Leiming Tang, a Kansas City ballhawk, who was making his rounds of the east coast cities. I believe he had been in Philadelphia the night prior. We would have plenty of time to talk about things as there was no batting practice.

My next ball (number three if you’re keeping track) would come when Wilin Rosario came out to do some catching drills:
20120717-102402.jpg(Notice Leiming was already on the scene. We were both waiting in the shade, but I waited a little longer than he did to stay cool.)He obviously needed a few balls to do the drills, so when he was done, the catching coach, Jerry Weinstein, tossed Leiming and I both a ball:
20120717-102637.jpg My next snag would be at the dugout right before the game. I still don’t know the formal name the Nationals call them, but there were”hype people” on the roof of the dugout with T-Shirts, so I figured I might as well try to snag one. I moved into the emptiest row I could find, but turns out, the shirt came RIGHT to me. All I had to do was lower my glove a little and I caught it:
20120717-103557.jpg It’s actually the shirt I am wearing right as I type this sentence.

As for the game, I spent most of my time out in left field, but I came to the dugout for the end of the game to try to get an umpire ball:
20120717-104202.jpgDid you notice something else about that picture? It was pretty empty at the stadium. In addition to having been high-90s heat, it had started raining. Here’s a look to the seats to my left:
20120717-104525.jpg Leiming had been down by the dugout the whole game and was also going for an umpire ball. Except, unlike me, he was dedicated and prepared for the task:
20120717-104735.jpgLet me remind you it was humid from just having rained, and it was still freakin’ hot, so it wasn’t for the faint of heart to put on an umpire jacket. Not surprisingly, Leiming got a ball and I didn’t.

After pretty much everyone had left our section (lightning and the subsequent thunder had just struck, so it wasn’t that long after the game ended), Leiming and I got an usher to take a picture of us:
20120717-105231.jpgLeiming’s flight back to Kansas City had already been delayed, so we were going to have lunch together at Union Station, but we decided it might not be a good idea given how late the DC trains were running.

So we said our goodbyes, and I headed to Union Station, while he went to the airport to catch his plane to the Home Run Derby.

STATS:
• 3 Balls at this game (pictures taken in my room for freshman orientation in Minnesota)

20120717-110355.jpgNumbers 338-340 for my lifetime:

20120717-110724.jpg• 118 Balls in 24 Games= 4.92 Balls Per Game
• 3 Balls x 25,125 Fans= 75,375 Competition Factor
• 33 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 9 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
• 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
• 97 Balls in 20 Games at Nationals Park= 4.85 Balls Per Game
• 11 straight Games with 1 Ball at Nationals Park
• 11 straight Games with 2 Balls at Nationals Park
• 9 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
• Time Spent On Game 9:13 AM- 10:26 PM= 13 Hours 13 Minutes [/spooky]

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