So I was supposed to go to Great American BallPark on Thursday, and stay through Sunday. I had to cancel two out of those four games due to some college home work that I desperatly needed to catch up on. I am happy to report that I am pulling all As in all of my classes. But I had one class that needed some extra attention so thats the reason I wasnt at GABP on Thursday or Friday. I did get everything caught up, and I made it for Saturdays game, and Sundays game.
I arrived at my hotel room in Mason Ohio around 2pm. I checked in, and checked out my room for a few minutes, got something to eat, and drink, and started out towards the ball park. It was warm. So I knew it would be hot inside the stadium. Good thing for shorts, and a light t-shirt. I dawned my Houston Astros hat, and I arrived at the stadium. Great American has the same rules as Kauffman regarding the times the gates open. 1 1/2 hours before game time. So today the gates were going to open at 5:40. What I didnt expect was a full house. Should I have expected a near sold out crowd? The Reds were in first place, and they were playing very good baseball. They crushed the Astros the night before so why wouldnt GABP sell out tonight? Well, it nearly did. Not because of the aforementioned reasons though. BECAUSE IT WAS JOEY VOTTO FIGURINE NIGHT!! FIRST 20,000 FANS GETS ONE OF THESE!!
I kind of like the bobbleheads better. But whatever draws the crowds. Maybe Reds fans are easy to please. Who knows. Anyway. I didnt just run across this information on my own. As I approached the gates I read a flyer that was posted about a million times all over the stadium gates. READ IT, AND WEEP REDS FANS!!!
Can you believe that? The Joey Votto figurine ( well, actually 20,000 of them ) were lost in traffic! I wonder if the drivers used Mapquest or had a TomTom? Well, anyway. The Joey Votto figurine was not going to be given out tonight. But you wouldnt know that unless you got on Reds.com or actually came to the ball park. So 36,000+ were still going to show up.
So I continued around the ball park. I had plenty of time to kill. I wandered into the Reds Team store to have a look around. The air conditioned air felt good. It felt good to get out of the blistering heat. It wasnt too humid, but it was hot. The Reds are really pushing this 1990 World Series Champion thing. Ever since Redsfest theyve had all kinds of promotions for this new Hall of Fame exhibition for the 1990 World Series. I’ll have to admit. The Reds in 1990 were THE team. The Nasty boys? Larkin? Sabo? Sweet Lou? Yeah. Great team. So they have this giant 1990 WS trophy in the team store.
The team store is really unique. Its probably one of the better team stores Ive seen. Most are just filled with clothing racks, shelves full of stuff, and all kinds of memorabilia. Which is all aspects of things thats what a team store is supposed to have. But the Reds store has a little bit of history. They have signed jerseys on the wall by Hall of Famer Reds, and that huge trophy in the middle of the floor. Its pretty cool.
Once I left the team store I wandered around the stadium. For those of you that want Reds players autographs well I found your sport. Gate One. Thats where players from the Reds drive in. I walked in, and there was only one person standing there waiting for autographs. He told me that only two Reds have signed so far, ( Mike Leake, and Carlos Fisher ) and every player had already drove in except Miguel Cairo. Can you believe that? Only TWO players signed with ONE fan standing there waiting. ONE FAN! Wow.
Here are some more pictures from around the ball park.
See the Toyota Truck above the Reds logo? Well, if youre picked randomly you could have a chance to win that truck if a Reds player jacks a home run during the game. The catch? Yes. There is one. The home run ball has to hit one of the two strategically places signs that read ” hit it here” in the stadium for you to actually win the truck. Would a Reds player ever hit one of those signs with a home run ball? Not likely. They are placed so deep in the stands that it really would take a lot to hit the sign. Not saying it wouldnt happen though.
Joe Nuxhall. The Ol’ left hander. You know this guy pitched 2/3 of an inning for the Reds at the age of 15 in 1944? He later became an announcer for the Reds, and then passed away in 2007 due to cancer. They dedicated this gate to him. Season ticket holders meet here to enter the stadium two hours before game time. So in that thirty minutes before the rest of the fans enter theyre busy shagging fly balls, and harassing players for baseballs. Lucky!
So after my mini tour resumed I came to the main entrance of GABP. People were starting to show up so I went to stand in line. With the sun beating directly down on me I decided to retreat, and go wait at the Gappers Alley gates. Wise move. It seemed 20 degrees cooler on that side of the stadium. I waited for the gates to open, and I collected my Joey Votto figurine voucher upon entry. They gave us redeemable vouchers to get our Votto figurine after June 11th. I probably wont be back to GAPB so I just hung on to the voucher anyway. Maybe I could find some lucky Reds fan somewhere that didnt get one or wanted an extra figurine of Joey Votto.
It had been a year since Id had been to GABP. So when I came inside the stadium I was a little disoriented. I rushed down to the seating area, and I was quickly halted by ushers. Like five of these dudes were like ” Can we help you?!” All at the same time! It was so strange! I told them I was a huge Astros fan, and I was heading down to watch my favorite players throw the baseball around. Batting practice was in full swing so I ran down to the third base side to pull up my fair share of real estate. I will tell you this. If youre ever at GABP do not play the base lines. NOTHING came my way. NOTHING. Not one ball. Not even close. Not even within 10 feet. Barely anything went into the outfield bleachers. It was really pathetic. Batting practice ended, and I wasnt even on the score board yet. I asked a few Astros players for a ball, but they ignored me, and gave baseballs to Reds fans instead. I even asked Gustavo Chacin for a baseball in spanish as he walked by with one looking for a fan to give it to. He looked at me, and shook his head. Before that when he came out for warmup throws I tipped my hat to him, and told him to have a good game. He just kind of turned his back to me. What a jerk. He wasnt very nice to me at Busch stadium either when the Astros came to town there.
So I figured I would have a great chance to get a baseball from one of the position players when they came out 15 minutes before game time to warm up. Security guards were posted at the end of each row so I would have to interact with one to get a ball. So I walked down there.
” Excuse me. Can I stand here, and try to get a ball from of the the Astros players before the game starts? I wont be long, and Ill stay out of your way.” I said.
” Yeah. Sure. Just go find your seat after the players leave the field.” He said in an impatient tone.
Great. This guy was already in a bad mood, and I was in his little space bubble. After about five minutes of standing there I knew he was getting annoyed with me. Then Gapper, and Rosie Red came out, and they walked over to where I was standing. So now I was being pushed, and shoved up against the security guard by little kids. I stood my ground. I was nearly standing on my tippy toes not to brush up against this guy. It was hot. We were all breathing on each other. Kids were screaming, and yelling, and stepping all over me, and the guard. I knew he wouldnt tolerate this much longer, and as soon as the mascots left, and the kids backed off he looked square in my eyes, and told me to go find my seat. Simply put. There was no arguing. There was no pleading or begging. Just. Go. Find. Your. Seat.
My seats were the first row right behind the centerfielder. I figured Id have a great chance of getting a third out toss up, or a mid-inning warmup ball. Drew Stubbs, and Johnny Gomes played catch in between innings, and every time Gomes ended up with the ball. So by the sixth inning, I ran over to the left field bleachers thinking Gomes would end up with the baseball. Everytime he did he would toss it up into the seats. So I waited. Third out. Gomes came out to the field. I ran down the steps avoiding security. I planted against the railing, and on the last catch Stubbs ended up with the ball. Did he throw it back to Gomes? Of course not! Stubbs just so happened to throw it three feet to my left of MY SEAT I WAS JUST SITTING IN! AND WHATS WORSE IS THE GUY HE THREW IT TO DROPPED IT BACK ONTO THE FIELD! SO STUBBS HAD TO GET THE BALL AGAIN, AND HE JUST TOSSED IT INTO THE SEATS! I WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ANGRY!
But. You can not predict those things. Its all apart of the game. So I walked back to my seat in defeat. I didnt look around for who got the ball. I just enjoyed the rest of the game. Jay Bruce put two home runs into the right field bleachers. Ramon Hernandez hit two into the left field bleachers, and I think Miguel Cairo blasted one onto the batters eye grass. The Reds were winning like 12-1 by the eighth inning. My only chance to get a baseball at this point was from an umpire or the bullpen guys. The umpires are pretty much a guarantee at this stadium. The exit the field on the far left of the vistor bullpen, and they have to walk down these stairs that face the stands. So if you can get there first youll get a baseball. Umpires are kind of nice because its kind of like first come first serve. If you call to them, and ask nicely theyll hook you up. So thats what I did. By the top of the ninth the security guards all walk down to the bottom of the aisle, and sit down. The after the game ends they stand up, and face the stands. So I just followed one down to the end of the aisle, and before he sat down I sat down right behind him. Second row from the field. Perfect.
The ball game ended, and I stood up. I slinked into position, boxed out a few people, and waited on the umpire. He came walking as they always do. Head down. Hands in their pockets. I waited until he was within earshot. I held up my mit, and pointed to it. I smiled, and asked for a ball. Streak saved! Goodnight!
Game: Cincinnati Reds Vs Houston Astros May 29-2010 7:10pm.
Game Balls: One
Remember this picture? Most importantly do you remember seeing Todd Helton on Crownvision? Well today was a big day for both myself, and Todd Helton.
Well, to start things off the game started promptly at 1:00pm. Batting practice took place but I didnt get a toss up from any players, and NOTHING was hit into the seats. Except maybe a few homeruns. It really was boring. My first baseball came from Dexter Fowler. After the position players warmed up most of them did not throw a single ball into the stands. I think Ian Stewart threw one though. Like yesterday, and Friday here came security. It was my last game in Kauffman for a while so I decided to stick up for the youngsters trying to get Troy Tulowitskis autograph who was signing yet again. The ushers came down, and started asking for tickets. I dont know why they ask for tickets. They know no one has a ticket thats standing by the railing. I stood my ground, and ignored the usher as long as I could stand it.
” Sir, you need to find your seat if you dont have a ticket to be here.” She said.
” I know.” I continued to stand without moving.
” Sir. Youll need to find your seat now. The game is about to start.” She explained.”
” The game starts in five minutes. We have plenty of time.” I said back to her barely turning around.
” Sir. Without a ticket you cant stand here.” She said once again.
” Well, Ive been standing here most of batting practice, and I dont have a ticket. So what makes it so I cant stand here now?” I said back to her desperatly trying to buy some time for the kids to get their autographs.
” Well, the game is soon to start. Youll have to move.” She said again. This time in a little more of a harsh tone.
” Lady, we are down here four minutes to game time to get autographs from our favorite players. Let the kids do their thing, and we will be gone before first pitch. Stop being such a nazi about this stuff. We are here to have fun. Not be harassed by security.” I said in a more harsh tone.
She stared at me for a few seconds, and as I kept my eyes on the Rockies. Dexter Fowler was getting up, and walking to his glove. I stepped away from the usher, scurried through the row, and called to him with my glove up. He nodded, and underhanded me the ball. I looked back to the usher, and smiled to her.
” See? We are having fun, and we arent in anybodys way.” I said, as I started up the stairs. I got some light applause, and a pat on the back from a fan as I made my way up the stairs. If this is what Kauffman Stadium has turned into I think I wont ever be going back.
I took this picture before the ushers started their little harassment antics. Todd Helton is out there sitting down with his teammates. My seats were in section 122 right behind the dugout three rows up. So I had really great seats, and they were right behind the Rockies dugout. So I felt pretty good about getting multiple toss ups from the players.
This is a picture of where I sat at the game. The seats were great because Todd Helton would have to cross in front of me after he caught the third out to get to the dugout. So after the third out was caught at first base by Todd Helton, I quickly stood up and waved to him for the ball. He lobbed a high toss up my way, and I felt someone step on my foot, and then back right into me as I made the catch. I looked down, and this young kid from the seat in front of me was actually trying to catch the ball! I was amazed! Helton had lobbed it so high that there was no way that kid ( or anyone else for that matter ) would have caught the ball. The kid sat down pouting. His dad started to explain that Todd Helton threw it to me because I had on a Rockies hat. Then he told his son that maybe if I were to get another one Id give it to him.
The third inning came. Three up, and three down went the Royals. Now this next part is 100% true. I stood up to stretch. I wasnt trying to get Heltons attention by any means. I raised my arms above my head, and I was in full stretch mode when Todd Helton tossed another baseball my direction just like the last one! I couldnt believe it! So I moved over, and made the catch. No one was even paying attention. In fact if I had just let the ball go it would have landed in some little girls nachos, and made a huge mess. I dont think her parents would have appreciated her kid getting hit square in the nachos by a baseball. So I made the catch. It was my second baseball from Todd Helton. I was really in shock. But whatever. The kid in front of me that tried to catch the last one was gone. They exited their seats moments before the final out of the inning. Tough break for you kid.
By the sixth inning a lot of the kids had witnessed Todd Helton tossing multiple baseballs into the crowd. So the first two rows in front of me were empty by now. The Rockies were winning 11-4 so a lot of Royals fans were leaving. The Royals quickly went in order, and Todd Helton was on his way to the dugout again. Well, I had stood up to cheer the Rockies because they got out of base loaded jam, and I was excited. Well, I guess so was Todd Helton. He lobbed another ball towards me but it was falling short. I had to lean forward over the seats in front of me to catch the ball. Once I got it I passed it off to my buddy Ryan that accompanied me to the game. He had always wanted a ball, and since Todd Helton was being over generous to me I figured I could share one with my friend. So Todd Helton had thrown three in our direction. Im not sure why. But he did. So that was my fourth ball of the day.
Once we caught that third one though the fans behind us started to boo us a little. Some college kids started talking crap, and calling us trash. They told us we should give all the balls we caught to little kids. After I made the catch someone behind me said something along the lines that I had two baseballs now or something. I had told my buddy Ryan that if we catch another one we will start to get negative attention from the fans. Thats exactly what happened. So catching a fourth ball from Helton would probably be really bad. But I didnt care. I was loving the fact that I caught three balls from one player in one game.
Jason Giambi, and Troy Tulowitski went deep in the game, and Giambis home run ball landed down behind the batters eye. I made a decent plan to jump down there after security left to retrieve the ball. If you have read Zack Hamples Kauffman Stadium blogs when he was there, he jumped down there, and snagged up like 17 baseballs. Well, Ive been going to a few games at Kauffman now, and they strategically placed a ladder to get down there now. The balls get cleared out of there every few games now. So there isnt a chance for them to really stack up. Unfortunatly, after the game before I could even head over there, an usher went down behind the batters eye, and retrieved the ball for a kid. But it wasnt over.
The final out of the game, and I stood up to stand by the dugout. I was going to get one last baseball. Kids were pushing, and shoving their way inbetween me, and eventually some kids father tried to box me out. Glen Allen Hill had a baseball, and was pacing back and forth in front of the dugout. I didnt want to call his name out to draw attention to myself so I simply raised my glove, and nodded to him. He smiled, and tossed it to me. I caught the ball in what had seemed like a million hands were trying to grab for it. I made a clean catch, and quickly faded out of the group, and up the stairs. Five on the day. Three from one player. Not bad.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Colorado Rockies May 23rd 2010 1:00pm
Game Balls: Five
Kauffman Stadium was hosting a 1985 World Series Championship Softball game featuring players from the 1985 World Series Champions Kansas City Royals, and of course their opponents the St. Louis Cardinals. The softball game started at 1:00pm, and gates opened at noon. I knew that batting practice wasnt going to be happening today. So I didnt get to the stadium early to be the first one in. In fact, I didnt get to the stadium until about 1:30pm. The softball game was already in full swing, and the Royals were ahead. Just like in 1985! Wow!
Once inside I quickly ran over to the left field seats because I saw Joe Beimel playing catch.
I was super excited because the stadium had probably 5,000 people inside for this softball game, and I was the only guy with Rockies stuff on! I thought it was a for sure thing! As soon as I got set up to ask for the ball from Joe, hoards of Rockies fans came over. Well, maybe not hoards but the railing filled up fast. Mostly little kids with a Royals t-shirt on, and a brand new Rockies hat on. Wow. Not to point anything out Mom, and Dad but your kid is wearing both teams colors. How confusing. But I knew what the parents were after. They wanted a player to throw their kid a ball. Joe would stop every once in a while, and look around to see all of these fans gathering at the railing. They all wanted one thing. A baseball. Unfortunatly, only one fan was going to get it. I was right behind Joe, and I kept telling myself to move to his left over by the foul pole. He would see me better. As soon as I did that five minutes later he turned around, and threw the ball to the person that took my spot.
With the softball game nearly in its last few innings, Melvin Mora came out with a glove, and a couple baseballs. He was helping Joe with some mechanics on pitching, and a few other players started tossing the ball around. Then they all dropped their gloves, and started doing wind sprints. Melvin Mora started to walk off towards the dugout. He still had a ball. So I followed him. I stayed a few rows up, and when he finally reached the dugout, he sat by a female reporter in a chair next to her. There were two more Rockies fans that had pens, and baseballs, and were calling to Melvin to sign. I took that opportunity. I ran down to the dugout, and called out to him for the ball. He gently tossed it to me, and I promptly thanked him.
Now I dont know if I wasnt paying close attention to the field or I had tunnel vision from trying to get Joe Beimel to throw me a ball but over in the right field corner were four baseballs just laying on the grass. No grounds crew, no players, no security in sight. I ran from the third base dugout all the way to the right field foul pole to set up shop. I switched to my Royals hat in the process, and I think I had to reallyw ait maybe 25 minutes before Josh Fields came over. I was the only one standing there. As Field made his way to the ball pile a younger kid joined me, and started to call out to Josh for a ball. I just held my glove out. As more kids ran down the stairs towards me, Josh looked to me, and held up a ball. I asked nicely for it, and he tossed me one.
Josh Field in fact threw all four into the stands. That was really generous of him to do that. He could have just gathered them all up, and tossed them into the bullpen. Thats what I expected him to do. But he didnt. He got all four to four different fans. Thanks Josh!
After the softball game ended I headed over to the spot where the Rockies warmed up. Since Ian Stewart already hooked me up yesterday for a ball there I was really kind of hesitant to go back, and wait on a ball. Plus security was being a real pain the in butt. I stayed as long as I could, but all the warmup balls were tossed several feet to my right, and left. I was in a bad position anyway. So I really didnt expect to get one. I just didnt want to get harassed by security. If you stand over by the bullpen they tell you that you have to go find your seats because the game is about to start. ( This is 15 minutes prior to game time ) I dont know why security thinks they have to enforce these rules. Especially at Kauffman Stadium.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Colorado Rockies May 22nd 2010 3:10pm
Game Balls: Two
So I decided to try my luck at Kauffman Stadium for the weekend. The Colorado Rockies were in town for a three game series. For the most part the Rockies ignored me during batting practice. Interesting enough the Royals werent even on the field at all. I caught up with some fellow Ballhawks that generally chase foul balls, and one of them has over 800 to his name. But he told me that he gives a lot of them away to the kids. So being that it was a Friday night the gates were supposed to open two hours before game time. So why were the gates opening up at 5:30pm then? Well, rumor has it that the Royals have put a complaint in to the upper management about the fans being inside the stadium while they take batting practice. I dont know why the Royals would complain about the fans being at the stadium. Wouldnt they want more of a fan base? Anyway. So for the rest of the season the gates are going to open up an hour and a half early to include weekends. Also, I was told that the batting cage was moved up to less foul balls reached the stands. Whether thats true or not I dont know. Its all about perspective I guess. But these two Ballhawks were pros. So I took their word for it. They also told me that David Glass ( owner of the Royals ) was looking for a way out of his contract, and to either move the team or sell it. In any case it was a real drag to take in all this news.
About the batting cage. If it was moved up intentionally to keep foul balls from reaching the seats they did a pretty good job. Because only three baseballs reached the seats in foul territory during batting practice. Batting practice was scheduled to end at 6:30pm. It was 6:27pm when I relocated from the outfield bleachers to the first base side where Jeff Francis was shagging many baseballs in the right field corner. I still didnt have a ball, and I was going into panic mode. I had two games left at Kauffman, and I was wondering if I should just cancel the rest of the games after this, and head home. At 6:29pm Jeff Francis shagged three ground balls in a matter of seconds, and didnt have any time to throw any of them in to the infield. He threw two in, and turned to the fans. I was shouting his name, and waving my Rockies hat wildly to get his attention so he would at least throw the ball NEAR me. I had kids lined to my right, and to my left. If it was high enough I would be able to snag it. Jeff reared back, and tossed a perfect throw three feet to my left. I would have to stretch out for this one though. I planted my right foot, and carefully eased over to my left towards the ball. I will be completely honest at this point. I do not know how this happened, but as I made the catch some chunky little 12 year old girl slammed right into my left hip. I dont know if she though she had a better angle on the ball than me, or she just came out of no where to try, and make the catch but she ended up chasing her baseball that she caught earlier down the aisle. I guess when she ran into me it jarred her ball loose. Anyway, she got her ball, and looked back at me with those sad eyes. I told her I was sorry for her running into me, and I hoped she was okay. Enough said.
Here is a picture of Kauffman from the 400 level.
You see Todd Helton on the Crown Vision? Well, I didnt mean to take the picture with him on the there but if you keep reading the blogs from the series youll be reading A LOT about him on Sundays Blog. I didnt stay up here long because I wanted to get a baseball from another Rockies player before game time. ( This picture was actually taken after I got my second ball. Oops) So back down to field level I went.
The Rockies position players were warming up, and Jason Giambi finally came out. The guy is massive. His arms are as big as my thighs, and he has these huge viens that are very visable on his arms. I dont know if he actually took steroids, but every time he was up to bat people behind the dugout gave him crap about steroids. So who knows. Ill have to check the Mitchell Report to see if his name was brought up. So as Im standing against the railing the ushers come down in their pretty little green shirts, and sun hats, and start ushering kids, and teenagers, and adults off the railing. Troy Tulowitski was busy signing autographs, and the ushers denied plenty of fans the opportunity to get an autograph from him. I didnt want to speak up, and defend anyone because I had two more games here, and I didnt want to be in the spotlight. So I ducked out of view, and sat down in the fourth row back. Once the ushers started back up the stairs I took position back on the railing. Three minutes to game time, and Ian Stewart turned around glove in hand to head back to the dugout. I called out to him, and he underhanded me the ball. I got a few praises from some Rockies fans, and I headed off to take a look around the stadium.
Odd. Why dont they move these sort of things more out in plain view? Its probably a conversation that goes something like this..
” Hey, lets get a statue of liberty, paint it up with Royals stuff, and just put it somewhere in the corner. Any corner will do.”
Whatever. So I continued around the stadium to take more pictures. Nothing great. But Kauffman is a beautiful stadium. Probably the most elegant, and down to earth that I have ever been to.
The water fountains. They are located in the outfield, and the Pepsi Party Patio is just below that. During the summer months when its a blistering 90+ degrees standing directly under the fountains is very refreshing if the wind is blowing the water around. The only downfall to this is the sun is constantly beating down on you during day games. So its kind a a lose/win or win/lose depending on how you look at things.
The game was decent. The Royals won. Which I guess is great. I didnt care much for the game. I was still more interesting in learning why the gate times were moved back. I still couldnt believe all that I heard.
Game: Colorado Rockies Vs Kansas City Royals May 21st 2010 7:10pm.
Game Balls: Two
Okay so I seriously wasnt going to come to Busch Stadium today. It was raining all night, it was cold, and the weather was supposed to be bad all day. But when I checked Stubhub for tickets, I couldnt pass up these seats. I would be sitting right down where the umpires left the field, but 10 rows up all for a low, low price of $20 dollars. Someone was desperate to dump these seats. Well, Ill bite. Ill spend five miserable hours at Busch Stadium in the wet, and cold. All for the love of the sport. I knew batting practice wasnt going to take place. It was a 12:40pm game. It was raining on the way to the game. I was really putting my streak on the line. But I didnt care. Dan Uggla had made such an impact on my life last night at the game, and I was just so amped up when I got up this morning I had to do something. I had to go see the Marlins play again. Theyre a really great group of guys. Plus if Stan Musial can stand outside in this weather, I knew I would be okay.
I got into the stadium first. There were maybe ten people waiting in line. When I got inside I saw this, and I knew I had my first baseball.
The Marlin that is stretching out, well thats Josh Johnson. On September 7th 2008, Josh Johnson threw me my second baseball at Busch Stadium. With a crowd of 38,898. So youre saying to yourself; ” Well, thats cool. Now hes about to throw you your 48th?” No, Josh Johnson didnt hook me up with any baseballs. In fact, he took a couple laps around the track, grabbed his water bottle, signed a few autographs, and ran into the clubhouse. But the next turn of events are even better.
Check out this picture
See that black bag? Well, my friends, thats full to the brim with Major League Baseballs. I was the only person standing quietly behind the players waiting for my opportunity to get a ball. Meanwhile up in Big Mac Land, some obnoxious Cardinals fan was yelling down to the players to get a baseball. In the picture above thats Renyel Pinto on the far left, Coach St. Claire out in the distance with Dan Meyer. I dont know who the guy closest to me is. Okay so soon Brian Sanches came out. That same annoying fan in Big Mac Land kept calling down for a ball. The Marlins did their best to ignore him, and I dont blame them. So the player closest to me in the picture put on the catchers glove that was by the black bag. He got down in catcher position, and started taking pitches. Interesting enough I got in line behind them to catch any overthrows. My game plan was this; if I caught an overthrow I would catch it, and offer it back. That way the players acknowledge me as a fan that isnt greedy, or rude. If an overthrow got passed me or didnt happen, I would ask nicely for a ball, and make comments that they shouldnt throw a baseball to an unruley fan when they have a nice Marlins fan waiting quietly for a ball.
The ball came screaming in, bounced into the grass, and up into the stands. I was right there to snag it. Haha! I caught my first overthrow! I smiled, pulled the ball out of my glove, and held it up.
” Dan, do you guys need this back?” I shouted to them.
” Yeah. Just for a second, and we will hook you up, man. Thanks!” Dan Meyer called back.
I tossed the ball back onto the field, and nodded. I knew baseball players were good on their word when they said theyd hook a fan up. Well, most of them. I watched some more, and was smiling the whole time. Finally Dan Meyer got done, and Brian Sanches took position, and started throwing. Dan walked over, and started digging for a baseball. He pulled out a used, scuffed up, dirty baseball. Just the kind I like! He nodded to me, tossed me the ball, and thanked me for giving it back to them so they could warm up. You see pitchers are really kind of weird people. Dan Meyer was using a baseball that he was comfortable with. He didnt want to switch baseballs in mid-warmup because its all about mechanics, and being comfortable. If you watch baseball a lot, youll see pitchers tossing the umpire the ball, and asking for another one. Every ball is different.
It wasnt moments later that Brian Sanches was throwing me a baseball. I caught it, and thanked him. But I knew that he knew I had already gotten one. So before all the complaints came showering down on me from all the 15 fans behind me I held the ball up, and pointed to Brian to get his attention. He looked over at me, and noticed that I was the guy that already got a ball two seconds ago. I couldve kept it, I guess. But It was such a small crowd, and I didnt want to be a jerk about things. Especially to these Marlins. They were very nice. Brian Sanches asked if I already got a ball, and I nodded explaining that Dan Meyer had just tossed me one. I felt apart of the team though for about five seconds. I threw the ball back, and he tossed it to another deserving Marlins fan. The Marlins made their way off the field, and so I darted over to the Cardinals side. Knowing that the Cardinals are so stingy with their baseballs I had to try anyway. No dice.
Once I got to the Cardinals side I saw two more Marlins walking out of the dugout, and heading over to the left field corner. I did an about face, and beat feet back back over there. Changing hats back to Marlin colors I took position right where I was.
“Number 38! Throw us a ball!” Yelled some girls in the left field bleachers.
” Can I have a baseball?” Said a little girl with cotton candy in her mouth.
Oh boy. Kids, and girls. My worst enemies. But it was in my favor. Im the one that had the Marlins hat on. Im the one that knew these players first, and last names. ( Believe me it helps ), and I was the one that had the glove. Thats Burke Badenhop in the background ready to fire away. I was hoping for another overthrow. But then I was distracted by a gentleman to my right. He asked me where I was born. I told him Seattle. He asked me how I grew to like the Marlins so much. I told him Im a fan of baseball, and I like to favor the underdogs. He chuckled. I think he had an idea of what I was up to. But I didnt care. I wanted to get to my 50th baseball this game. It was important. Burke quickly finished up, and before I could call out to him the ball was enroute to me. Smack! Right into my glove. It kind of reminded me of how hard Alexei Ramirez threw me a ball. I thanked him, and moved on.
So I hung around the dugout for a little while. I conversed with the autographing group. They were all waiting on Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla to sign. I showed off my picture of Dan Uggla, and I. I am so proud of that picture. Here. Ill post it again.
Alright. Sorry. Moving on. Ramirez got done warming up, and decided a youngster behind me should get the baseball. So I let it sail passed me. I could have snagged it, and ran. But I didnt want to do things like that. So I waited for another opportunity. Bryan Petersen was all done warming up as well, and he came strolling towards the dugout. I had moved down to the baseline after being rejected by Hanley, and I asked Bryan if he would toss me the ball. He pulled the ball out of his glove, looked at it, and gave it a toss my way. Not much competition. I asked, and recieved. 50th!!! After that Dan Uggla got stretched out, and came over to sign some autographs. I said hi to him, and “knucked” him after he was done. Him, and Cody Ross warmed up, and Ross ended up with the ball. If Uggla ended up with it he would have thrown it to me. But Ross threw it to the same little kid that Ramirez did. I couldnt help but to laugh. I nearly got outhawked by a kid in diapers!
The Marlins took a thrashing. They were beat 4-2. I waited patiently for the umpires to leave, and they gave all the baseballs to kids. He looked right at me, but didnt toss me one. So I scurried to the dugout to wait on the bullpen guys. Nothing there either. So I left with three. But I got my 50th! Bryan Petersen! You hooked me up, man! Thanks!
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Florida Marlins
Game Balls: Four
I’d like to start this blog out by saying some great things about Dan Uggla. Not only did he sign autographs for about 15 people outside of the stadium on his way in, but he also signed for about 15-20 minutes inside the stadium prior to game time. So Id like to pay some serious respect to Dan Uggla. He gives a lot. He also signed about 15 autographs AFTER the game as well. I usually get to the stadium pretty early so I witnessed a lot of the Florida Marlins baseball players walking to the stadium.
Renyel Pinto walking towards the stadium. If you want Marlins autographs, and youre ever in St. Louis they stay at the Hilton across the street from Busch Stadium. On sunny days most of them walk in. Renyel, and I exchanged “knucks” and parted ways.
It was a great day for baseball. I, of course, was the first one inside the stadium. The security guards opened the gates late, and the ticket checker guy with his electronic ticket scanner wasnt even turned on when the gates were opened. So that delayed me about 2 minutes getting down to my spot. But it didnt matter. The crowd was small. Once I got down to the third base line I started to scout for easter eggs. I looked up to see a young man dressed like he just came out of the trash can hollering at the Cardinals players that were on the field. He was yelling that he wanted a baseball. I watched for a moment as I took my time walking down to the railing, and then I continued my search for easter eggs. Moments later I heard one of the Cardinals say…
” Hey, you want a ball? Here you go buddy!” And then I heard the ever so familiar sound of a baseball clanging around against the seats. I looked over to the noise, and I caught a glimpse of the white gem bouncing around in the seats. What was going on? Was that meant for me? I looked around for a second, and nobody was really persuing the ball. I figured there were going to be a mob running the ball down. So I casually walked down the row, trotted up the stairs, walked up through the aisle looking for the ball. Once I found it, I looked back to the field, and then around me again. Wow. Too easy.
So batting practice was kind of a loss. Nothing really came my way. I got out hawked by a guy that came 30 minutes into it, and then really everything else was out of reach. As I was standing there I waved to Chris Coghlan a few times, and he finally acknowledged me. He held up a ball, and I waved for him to throw it to me. One hopper, and into my glove. Nice. I thanked him, and continued to play the third base side. Nothing was really going into the outfield anyway. Chris Coghlan was the National Leagues Rookie of the year last year. So it was a real honor to get a baseball from him. The rest of batting practice was pretty boring. I had two baseballs.
Dan Uggla came off the field after stretching, and started to sign autographs. So I capitalized on that since I only had two baseballs.
There were two Marlins fans behind me, and they were saying how much Uggla was their hero, and saying he was Superman in disguise. Hence the smirk on Dan’s face. He truly is a great guy. He talked with the fans, laughed, and joked, and made it really special for a lot of baseball fans. Really a remarkable guy. So I asked for a picture with Dan, and heres how it turned out.
The picture is really great. The fan that I asked captured the St. Louis Arch in the background, and Dan even put his hand on my shoulder. The guy is really short but he has massive hands, and arms. I mean, hes like an animal. It was great. He shook hands with fans, and I got my patented “knucks” from him, and moved on. Thanks Dan Uggla! You made my day!
So I made my way to my seat after the players were all warmed up, and were off the field. I sat on the Cardinals side, first base side about 20 rows up. Foul ball territory. But not one ball came remotely close to me. I only got up once to chase one, but it landed on the railing, and took a wicked bounce way to my right. No chance. The Marlins started beating up on the Cardinals about halfway through the game. Then it started to drizzle a little bit so I knew that people would start clearing out to go home. I needed that to happen, because I was going to get passed security, and get down behind home plate. I wasnt happy with two baseballs. It was time to break out, and try to get some work done.
By the eight inning, the Marlins were up 4-0. In the previous inning, Uggla, and Maybin hit home runs. So a lot of Cards fans were out the door. I made my move. I walked the concourse looking for a security guard that was just kind of hanging out. You see…at Busch stadium, all the sections behind home plate have red fences guarding them so you have to go through in a single file line. That way no one can get passed security if they dont have a ticket to be in those sections. Its really criminal stuff. But I caught a security guard that was engaged in a conversation with about five fans. They were all hundled around her like they were trying to help me out. A squeeze play! I made a break for it. I scurried in passed her, and headed on down the stairs, broke to my right, and sat in the first seat of the row. Feewww!!
” Hello.” Said a voice. I was busted. Damn!
” Hey…no I dont have tickets for this row. Sorry, Ill move.” I was defeated. I knew who it was. No one says “hello” in such a sarcastic voice than security.
” You can stay, just move back a row.” She said, and walked away.
So I did. I moved back a row. But now I was in the middle of the row. This was unacceptable. If anyone else showed up I wouldnt be able to hurry out of the row, and down to the dugouts. It wasnt minutes later, and a group of five college kids sat down right next to me. Damn!! I had to move. Security had already told me once not to sit here, but I had to risk it. I moved one row ahead. The row I had orginally been kicked out of.
” Listen..I already told you once. You cant sit in this row.” The voice said in minutes.
” Sorry! I wasnt trying to disrespect your authority. I just need a quick exit to get down to the dugouts to get a ball after the game.” I said.
” Well, you cant sit in this row. And you wont be getting a ball either.” She explained.
” Why not?” I chuckled.
” Because that rarely happens. Players dont give out baseballs after the game.” She said.
” Ill move. Im sorry to have troubled you.” I said. I gathered my things, and down the stairs I went. I sat two rows back from where the umpires leave the field. I couldnt believe that security guard! She really doubted my baseball getting skills. Unreal!
The game ended. Finally! I let the row clear out in front of me, and I moved down to the front. I called to the umpire, and two more people showed up. He nodded to me, reached into his side pouch, and delivered a clean toss right to me. I squeezed down on it, and tipped my hat to him. Gah! I still had my Cardinals hat on! If I were to get anything from the Marlins, Id have to ditch this Cards hat, and fast!
I started to make my way to the Marlins dugout, switching hats on the fly. I didnt care who saw me at this point. Make your comments, who cares. I was on a mission. The bullpen players were enroute to the dugout, and as soon as they got into ear shot, I started making hand gestures for them to throw me a baseball, and calling to them. Chris Volstad, and Leo Nunez both pulled their hands out of their jackets, and showed me they had no baseballs. Dang. Three it was. Oh well. I had a memorable picture taken with Dan Uggla, I sat in great seats, and I came away with three baseballs. It was a battle but I did it.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Florida Marlins May 19th 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Three
Busch Stadium. The Nationals were in town, and I didnt know how this game was really going to play out. I failed to get any good pictures but I will make it up to you all in the next few blog entries. I didnt think the crowd would be that enormous. But who was I kidding? The crowd is always big at Busch Stadium.
I hoped that when I got down to my normal spot there were going to be some easter eggs. But that didnt really workout too well. It didnt take but three minutes for me to stand there before a baseball came my way. I was the only one around to get it. I made the scoop, and quickly put the ball in my backpack. I stayed on the third base line for about 90% of batting practice, and not a single baseball besides that one was hit down the line. It was a very boring, and non-productive day.
I stayed for the entire game. I wandered the outfield, and played down in foul territory but nothing came my way. It was really a wasted day at the ballpark. I only had one baseball, and sadly I would leave with one baseball. But I will tell you this. I learned a lot about Busch stadium on my little mini-tour today. I learned more hot spots, and I also learned how to get passed security to sit in seats behind home plate. I shall use these tactics in future games.
Game: St. Louis Cardinals Vs Washington Nationals May 18th 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: One
Another miserable day at the ballpark. Its May, and the crappy weather is still around. I can not wait for June-July baseball. Really, I can not wait. I hate coming to the ballpark, and wondering if batting practice will happen or not. It sits on my shoulders like a 2-ton bag of bricks. When there isnt batting practice, I get a real sick feeling inside of me. Not because the chances of me not getting a baseball are very high, its because I dont want to lose my streak! Alright. Enough ranting.
So batting practice was in full swing when I got to the stadium. I went to the right field gates to peak in, and sure enough the cage was set up but nobody was batting. So I returned to the thirs base gates, and waited. I thought about trying my luck on some easter eggs in the centerfield bleachers. I thought about it for probably the majority of the time I sat at the third base gates. I almost went. I held my position. It really did pay off this time. Once I entered the stadium, I was beat down to the base line wall by an older gentleman. He had a glove, and a backpack so I knew he was serious. But what he didnt see were two baseballs laying right underneath the front row directly behind him! I didnt hesitate. I wanted to take a snapshot but I needed to secure the baseballs. Two easter eggs were all mine! ( Note; on Mygameballs.com those two baseballs put us at lifetime baseballs 19,000 )
It wasnt long before another serious ballhawk showed up. Here is my competition.
The guy in the red coat, and the other guy in the grey t-shirt. Each one of those guys got one baseball a piece. I started the evening out with two. So I felt pretty good. Two more slow rollers came down the line, and those were easily snatched up by some other folks. We also had a hot chopper hit right to us, and I backed up to play it on the hop but I got hungup on the seats. Soon after that one, another one was hit right into the seats. It hit down in a seat that wasnt occupied, and I easily got it. After that happened one of the ushers showed up with a glove, and stood right in front of me. He scooped up an easy grounder that was headed right for me. I really hate it when these guys come out, and block others from getting a baseball. Its happened twice now, and its looking like my spot is no longer available. So I moved on.
I moved around the diamond looking for stray baseballs that maybe a coach or a player would throw me, but to no avail it didnt happen. I wondered if three was going to be my number tonight, and as I looked back down to my spot the usher had left, but batting practice was about to end. So I went up, and got me some grub, and waited on the Nationals to come out, and warm up. As soon as they did I perched on the spot, and called out to Ian Desmond. But he nodded to me, gestured that he was going to give the ball to a little kid. Well, I hate to encourage that in ball players because everyone is a fan, so I just eye-balled him hoping that would help change his mind. No dice. Adam Kennedy also had a ball, and I called out to him. No dice from him either.
And that was it. No other baseballs came my way. The umpires leave the field directly behind home plate. So if you have tickets to the expensive seats you can get a baseball from them. I think those tickets are like $230.00 but theyre all you can eat. Well, Im not spending $230.00 to sit behind home plate to wait on an umpire to throw me a baseball. I guess if I were desperate. But Im not.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Washington Nationals May 17 2010 7:15pm.
Game Balls: Three
Unfortunatly this blog entry will be without pictures. When I synced them off of my iphone, somehow I must have clicked DELETE ALL OF THEM. Well, my last blog entry when I tried to upload pictures a different way they came out way distorted. So no pictures.
Typical evening game at Kauffman. Although it was a Saturday so the crowd was a little larger than normal. Maybe 18,000? Who knows. All I know was it was COOOLLDDD and MISSERABLEEE!! I hate games like these too. But running around got the blood pumping, and got my spirits up. I wasnt as aggressive going after baseballs as I was last night though. The game was delayed by an hour due to rain, and the crowd kind of set the town. It was military appreciation day. So a lot of the attention from the players went to those guys. Most of them wore their uniforms, and brought their children. So really my chances of getting a ball was dwindling by the moment when I saw all the guys in uniform with little kids.
I pulled my WhiteSox cap down tightly, and prepared to enter. BATTING PRACTICE WAS CANCELED!?!?!? Oh boy. This was bad. Luckily Garcia was out throwing the ball around. So I raced over to the third base side calling to him to throw me a ball. I was desperate at this point. I had to really fight now. He threw it to a kid. BLAST! I then spotted two baseballs sitting out in the rain on the edge of the grass in deep centerfield. I darted out there. Switching caps on the fly. I didnt know who was going to get these baseballs. But when they did I would be ready. I sat on them for 52 minutes, and finally a grounds crew member came over, and scooped them up. If you ask for one they say they cant throw them to anyone. But thats a lie. Ive seen them throw them to kids in every stadium Ive been to.
Now what? Well, the baseball players usually warm up right before the game. That was my only shot. I ran back to the third base side, and I switched caps. Id have to try to get a ball from a White Sox. It was my only chance. The game started at 7:05pm. When no player came out of the dugout to throw the ball around by 6:55pm, I knew the game was delayed. It was. One hour later Mark Teahen, Gordon Beckman, and Alexei Ramirez came out, and started running, throwing the ball around, and stretching. Two baseballs, a thousand kids, a thousand military men, and women, and ME. Mark Teahen, and Beckman were the first to get done. Beckham gave the ball to Teahen, and he wandered over to the stands. He signed it, and handed it to a soldier with his kid. Great. One ball left, and Ramirez had it. He was throwing with the strength, and conditioning trainer. So Ramirez would end up with the ball. And he did. I called to him.
” Alexei-SMACK!” The ball smacked right into the heal of my glove. Some lady next to me was caught off guard, and stared at me wide-eyed.
I smiled, and headed up into the concourse for some food, and shelter from the cold, and rain, and some guy stopped me.
” Hey, that guy..he threw a ball to you.” An older gentleman said to me in passing.
” Alexei Ramirez. Yeah, he did.” I nodded, and smiled.
” How did you get him to do that?” He asked.
” I asked him for the ball. Its pretty simple.” I said.
” He saw your Chicago hat. Thats why he threw it to you.” Said the man.
” Yeah, the probably has something to do with it.” I said in return.
” So you have more than just that ball in your backpack then. You probably got a bunch.” He continued.
” No, not today. I only have this one. Yesterday I was able to get four though.” I shrugged.
” FOUR?! You mean to tell me you got four baseballs yesterday, youre here again today, and you got ANOTHER one?” He looked at me shocked, and in disbelief.
” Yes sir. Thats what Im telling you.” I nodded, and shifted my weight onto my other leg as I stood on the stairs.
” What do you do with all these baseballs you get? How many baseballs do you have altogether?” He asked.
“Well, this one that I caught just now is my 40th. Its my 28th Ive gotten this season.” I answered back.
” Fourty!!?? How many games do you go to? You must go to a lot to get all these baseballs!” Wide-eyed now the man shifted in his seat seemingly astonished.
” This would be my eleventh or twelveth game this season. And no. Im not from Chicago.” I chuckled.
He smiled warmly at me, padded me on the arm, and dismissed me. After I jetted up the stairs I could barely hear the old man chuckle, and tell his wife how impressive those numbers were. If only this guy knew Zack Hample.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Chicago WhiteSox May 15th 2010 7:05pm.
Game Balls: One
I wont really bore you with the details of entering the stadium. At Kauffman the crowds are small, and Im always the first one in. Once I got inside as you can see there was batting practice. The weather was miserable, cold, wet, and breezy. I didnt expect batting practice to even be a thought in a baseball players mind on a day like this. But the Royals had it going. In the above picture you can see a baseball at the bottom of the photo. Yup. I didnt get it. In fact, I failed to get any baseball from any Royals player. Which kind of bummed me out. The thing I hate about this stadium the most ( well, actually two things ) is all the gates you cant cross to run behind home plate to get to the other side, and the high fences down the base lines. A ball has to be hit into the seats or close by to have a fighting chance to get it
My first baseball came from Juan Nieves. I think hes the White Sox bullpen coach, or the pitching coach. Im not sure which one. At this point I scampered all the way around the diamond, and waited patiently for him, and another player to get done throwing. I put my hands up, and patted my White Sox hat, and he generously tossed me a baseball. My first one of the day. The stress of losing my streak was put on the wayside once again. I stayed on the third base side, and waited for the White Sox pitchers to come out, and start throwing. The Royals of course continued to hit, and many baseballs were laced down the line towards me but way out of reach. Finally Coach Cox was walking down the line, and calling out “WhiteSox! WhiteSox!” Just so happened yours truely had on a WhiteSox hat! So I gave him a thumbs up, and chanted back! We had a fun back, and forth, and then he picked up a baseball on the track. Well, I was the only person with Chicago gear on. So I knew that baseball had my name all over it. People hollered to him for it, and I ran up, and I simple said this;
” Coach! I know youre not about to throw that baseball to a Royals fan when you got home town love standing right here.” Smiling, and nodding, I put my glove out. Ball number two was mine.
Now let me explain to you why Im at Kauffman Stadium for a Royals/Sox game. I drove three hours to watch a game between two teams that are probably going to finish in last place ( Royals ) and second to last place ( WhiteSox ). Well, Andruw Jones is a long time favorite of mine, and since he came to Chicago that has given me more of an opportunity to watch him play. Him, and Alex Rios of course. Well, I want to catch an Andruw Jones baseball. Jones is also close to hitting his 400th career home run. Wouldnt it be nice to be able to say I was the one that caught that ball? Well, unfortunalty, Jones didnt start at DH this game. But tomorrow was a new day.
As more, and more baseballs were hit down the line, the Sox trainer was scooping them up, and throwing them to the infield. He tossed one up to a Royals fan, he bobbled it, and it ended up back on the field. So I ran over within striking distance, and with my charming personality I said the following;
” Hey, as you can see the Royals fans cant catch! You know us boys from Chicago can! Toss it here!” Just then Andrew Jones got a hold of the ball, and he threw it to me. But he threw it way far to my left. I didnt even think it was going to cross over the railing, and Id seriously have to extend for this one. Well, I stretched out. My left foot extended to find the step. Nothing. I reached way to my left knowing that there was a father/son team with gloves. Stretch! Stretch! Stretch! Squeeze! Got it! What a grab, and I caught some applause as well from some fans behind me. I pointed at Andrew Jones, and tipped my hat while pointing to him with my gloved hand. He smiled, and jogged off.
That isnt the last of our friend Mr. Jones. Soon after I found myself near the Chicago bullpen. Alex Rios was smashing some screamers into the seats. I really wish I got up their sooner. He hit five homeruns into the stands, and I caught none of them because I was too focused on this.
I didnt get a single baseball thrown to me from the bullpen staff. Not one. He threw up six, but all to kids, and one girl. Anyway.
So I finally went to the centerfield seats to wait on Jones to take some BP. He was still lingering around in the outfield shagging baseballs. Rios was still putting them deep, and so was Paul Konerko. Jones was going all the way to the wall to make some catches, and fans were making their way down to him to get a baseball. So I hurried down there too. Not to get a ball, because I figured he would recognize me, and not hook me up again. Boy was I wrong. I got all the way to the corner near the Batters Eye, and I called to him.
” Andruw! How many homeruns do you need until 400?” I yelled. As soon as I finished what I was saying, a baseball was flipped up by Jones, it nearly grazed my face, and I had to kind of Matrix Style-lean back, and over the shoulder catch the ball. It really was graceful. I wish I had someone video taping that, or pictures. I didnt even expect it. I didnt even want the ball from him. I just wanted to ask him how close he was. MLB.com says he is three away. But I wanted to hear it from the horses mouth. So I got a ball out of it. Neat. I called to him again.
” Andruw! A couple more? Hey, when you hit it ill be there to catch it. Can I keep it?!” He smiled.
He nodded, waved at me, and smiled back. So that was ball number four. After batting practice I went, and found my seats behind the WhiteSox dugout. It was slim pickin`s there. The WhiteSox were greedy with the baseballs, and didnt toss a single ball into the stands.
After the game, I harassed the umpire for a ball, but he hooked up a kid instead. So I left that game with four baseballs. Not bad, I guess.
I got new shoes over the weekend as well. Maybe it was the shoes.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs. Chicago WhiteSox May 14th 2010 7:05pm
Game Balls: Four