March 2011

The Baseball

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     I’m probably the last guy on planet earth to have given my two-cents on this book. I mean I read it from front to back within seven hours after it was delivered to my house. Personally I wasn’t as interested in the history of the baseball as I thought I would be. I like Zack Hamples second book Watching Baseball Smarter better. That book is my favorite because it gave you an insight about the game. It gave you answers to all of those zany quirks and all of those ” Why does he do that?” questions.

     The book goes well in-depth of how the baseball was created. Zack even draws out a timeline of the first baseball used in a game. It’s very interesting stuff. The last two-hundred pages or so pretty much tell you how to snag a baseball from a game. If you’ve ever read his first book How to Snag a Baseball at a Major League Stadium then you’ll probably end up skimming through this section like I did. Although there are key tips in this new book that weren’t in his first book. So if you’re a Ballhawk thats just starting out or all you want is just one baseball at a game then I would advise reading this section thoroughly. If you’ve already snagged over 100 baseballs or even 50 then I would say you’re on the right track and you can probably just pick through what you want and leave the rest.

     I’m glad I bought the book. I love reading about baseball in general. Zack has an interesting way with words and his sense of humor isnt over the top. Its a great read and worth every penny.

 

Fans vs Fans    

     Well, another season is about to kick off. Im sure every baseball fan is getting ready for opening day. As I have stated many times I will be in Oakland at their Home Opener against my beloved Seattle Mariners. I really can’t wait and this week is killing me in anticipation. It’s hard to sleep at night knowing that in nearly 72 hours I’ll be at the Oakland-Coliseum trying to snag my 100th baseball. After I read The Baseball by Zack Hample I of course looked through his blog to try to find a blog entry of him at the Coliseum so I could get a leg up on the competition. You know, to find those tips and secrets that not everyone knows.

     Well, to my surprise I found a lot of other blogs bashing Ballhawks. Do I consider myself a Ballhawk? Yes. I do. Its kind of bothersome to read these blogs that are floating out there though. I’ve never seen a physical altercation in the bleachers over a baseball and I’ve never witnessed any fights break out during games because a fan wasn’t sitting in their assigned seats. But one blog really stood out. http://mccarpie.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/10/ugh_ballhawks.html

     Now I know she blogged this in 2009 and I even left a comment. But it’s just irritating that people draw these conclusions about Ballhawks. I have never seen anyone run over a kid. I have never seen anyone push the elderly out of the way. And I have been to plenty of baseball games. But thats not what bothers me the most. Its these self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitudes these people have and claim that every baseball hit into the stands should be given to the nearest five-year old. The Major Leagues has a huge job. They have to please everyone from the ages of 1-99. Thats a huge job. People that go to these game want to be apart of it. Hangout with the players. Walk around the field. Catch a baseball. Some people just want to sit in the cheap seats, eat a hotdog, and drink a beer. Tailgaters want to sit outside, drink beer, eat food until just before game time. Some people show up hours early to attend batting practice and shag home run baseballs. The bottom line is; ITS ALL APART OF THE GAME. 

     Another blog that was pretty explicit was this one  http://www.millerparkdrunk.com/ Im not going to post any of the blogs about him bashing Ballhawks. If you want to read them you can pick through the blog and find them. But anyway. The point I am trying to make about this particular blog is this guy is a tailgater at Miller Park. His thing is to come to baseball games, drink beer, and eat food. Yet he complains and takes shots at guys like The Happy Youngster and Zack Hample for doing their thing at a game. Whats with all this hate? Cant a person just come to the baseball stadium and enjoy their time there?  

     Well, I’m not going to sit here and beat a dead horse. Its just nonsense and I guess that’s apart of life. I’ve had a few situations with fans resulting in name calling and crying kids. Like the time in Kauffman Stadium when I caught three baseballs in one game from Todd Helton. I was heckled by three college students that were obviously intoxicated. And the other time at Busch Stadium when Randy Wolf managed to drill some three year old in the face with a baseball when he air mailed it to me. Baseball will be around a long, long time. Any five year old kid today that doesn’t get a baseball will probably get one ten years from now when he goes to baseball games on his own. Like me.

 

Until next time… 

2011 Baseball Season

     I’m actually super-excited about this baseball season. I guess what I’m most excited about is the fact that I’m going to make it to four new stadiums in the Major Leagues that I have not yet attended during the regular season.

oakland-coliseum-opening-day.jpg      First stop is Oakland California. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (formally Network Associates Coliseum and McAfee Coliseum and commonly The Oakland Coliseum or The Coliseum) as you all know is the home of the Oakland Athletics. There is a lot of great history at this specific baseball/football stadium. ( The Oakland Raiders play here too ) Catfish Hunter threw the ninth Major League perfect game here. And this was the home of the Bash Brothers! Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. Canseco made history for being the first player in the Major Leagues to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season. The A’s won a few World Series here too, including the “Battle of the Bays” World Series against the Giants which was intrupted by an earthquake. And on May 9th 2010, nearly 42 years later, Dallas Braden would throw the 19th perfect game in League history. I will be attending Opening Day and the following game. Right now I have a lifetime of 97 baseballs. So Ill probably end up snagging my 100th at the Coliseum. Im still debating if I should get it signed by Oakland Athletic players. My first baseball I ever got was at Kauffman Stadium where I had a few Royals sign it. So. We will see.

     Next stop…

SafecoField.jpg     Safeco Field. Or the “Safe”. I’ve already been to this stadium a few times and I really like going here. Although the security is extremely tight and the security guards in the field box seating are quite the nazis but its still a great atmosphere for baseball. I’ve snagged about seven baseballs here over the years and since Safeco Field will be my “home” stadium for the season, and possibly the next few, I plan to snag a lot of baseballs from this particular place.

     When the dog days of summer roll around I will be making my way towards the midwest. The last two seasons of baseball I spent the majority of my time between Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City and Busch Stadium in St Louis. I also visted U.S Cellular in Chicago and I attended a handful of games at Great American BallPark in Cincinnati. I really enjoy watching baseball at GABP. But this year I will be headed to…

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     Wrigley Field! Now. I havent actually attended a live game here. BUT. I did go to a “Meet and Greet” in 2009. The Cubs lined up in the lower third base side bleachers and all the fans single filed down the concourse, shook hands, collected autographs, and met their favorite players. It was quite the experience. The Cubs do it every year. So if you think you missed out you didnt. Although it does cost about $300 dollars to do this but you get a hotdog, a Major League baseball, and tickets to the game. Being that this is the second oldest baseball stadium in the Major Leagues to this day I have to pay this place a visit. I had opportunities to go last year and the year before but I just didnt go. I know, I know. But I’ve made plans to go this year.

     More towards the end of the season I am planning a trip to Florida.

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     Tropicana Field is one of the stadiums Im visiting while Im there. This place really reminds me of the Kingdome. Its really ugly on the inside and not anymore appealing on the outside. But for some reason I like it. But what really confuses me is why is there a domed stadium in Florida? If anything they should have gave this eyesore a retractable roof. Anyway. Im excited to be apart of some Rays baseball this year. Of course my last stop in Florida before I head back to the Emerald City…

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     Sun Life Stadium. Or Pro Player Stadium. Or Dolphin Stadium. Or whatever else they’ll decide to name it before I get there. Now the reason why Im going here this year is because the Florida Marlins are actually getting a new stadium next year. Thats right folks. Sun Life Stadium is on the “endangered” list. Well, not officially. They arent actually going to tear this stadium down because the Miami Dolphins play here. But after this season there will be no more baseball. The name of the new stadium where the Marlins are going to play will be called Miami Ballpark. ( I’m so glad they didn’t name it something like Netflix Stadium or Kosher Field ) So next year I will be returning to Florida to watch baseball there and hopefully snag a commemorative baseball.

     This year I plan to attend at least 100 baseball games. So going by my stats of ball snagging I should end up with close to 250 baseballs this year. I havent much else to report other than there is about 10 days left before Opening Day! I hope everyone had a great off season, and wonderful Spring Training and an even better Regular Season/Post Season!

Until next time…

 

Around the MLB Horn 11 March 2011- Bobble-head Edition

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     A new season of professional baseball is here again. The 2011 baseball season will kick off for most as early as April 1st. For me, well, I will be in Oakland California enjoying Opening Day at the Oakland Coliseum.

     When I go to a baseball game to ball hawk I like to hope for the best possible odds. Fighting large crowds of people is always something a Ballhawk has to endure no matter what baseball stadium he/she goes to. We all consider the weather, and most importantly, something that doesn’t always get taken into consideration, is the give-away, and the promotional nights that most Major League teams have at the stadiums. Lets face it. Awesome give-away nights fill seats. Its just the name of the game. But what give-away fills the most seats? What give-away is most desired? What give-away is the most sought-after? When I was a kid it was photo-baseballs, and bat nights that filled the house. Now its that beloved bobble-head figurine!

     Bobble-heads are collectors items. All ages come to the stadiums on bobble-head nights to add to their ever growing collection of unique and rare bobble-heads. I for one am not a collector of those cute little bobble-heads. I have one, and I gave it to my mother. It was the Bret Saberhagen Cy Young Bobble-head that the Royals gave away last season. My mother doesn’t even know what a Cy Young award is let alone who Bret Saberhagen is. But it doesn’t take away from the cute factor of Bret’s little head bobbling around as you walk by him as he’s perched by her jewelry box.

     So in this column for MyGameBalls.com I thought Id put together some Bobble-head history facts, and then list the current bobble-heads that will be given away to fans this year. Depending on who you are knowing this information could either save you a headache of going to the game fighting large crowds to be first in line or create more excitement while shagging baseballs during BP. Either way. Knowing is half the battle.

     Some of the first bobble-heads ever created for the Major Leagues were in the 1960s. These bobble-head dolls were made out of papier-mâché. Each baseball team received these dolls, and they all looked the same minus the uniforms. It wasn’t until the 1960 World Series where player specific dolls were created, and sold during the World Series. Those players were Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roger Maris, and Roberto Clemente. Unfortunately, since the dolls were constructed out of papier-mâché most have not survived.

     From the 60’s to the 90’s the bobble-head went through many dramatic changes. The dolls were constructed out of ceramic after the failed papier-mâché didn’t work out. Unfortunately, the ceramic nodders were expensive to produce, and fans weren’t taking much of an interest. It wasn’t until 1999 when the San Francisco Giants handed out 35,000 Bobble-heads of Willie Mays that really captivated the audience. The new bobble-heads primarily made out of plastic were cheap to construct, and the fans loved them.

     After the year 2000 bobble-heads became such a craze that you could even contact a company to have them customize a bobble-head for you. Bobble-heads became so advanced that they even had matching scars, tattoos, hair color, eye color, and lifelike facial features.

     So here is the 2011 list of bobble-heads that you can get for free during the season. With paid admission of course.

Baltimore Orioles

Buck Showalter June 25th

Brian Matusz August 6th

Arizona Diamondbacks

Racing Gracie ( Mark Grace ) April 28th

Kirk Gibson August 6th

Chris Young August 27th

Fan Voted Bobble-head September 24th

Chicago WhiteSox

Frank Thomas April 12th

Frank Thomas April 29th

Roger Bossard June 12th

Beer Vendor Bobble-head August 4th

Mark Buerhle August 20th

Chicago Cubs

Starlin Castro April 5th

Tyler Colvin April 19th

Geovany Soto July 14th

Cleveland Indians

Mike Hargrove August 13th

Cincinnati Reds

Joey Votto April 30th

Dusty Baker July 12th

Jonny Gomes July 23rd

Kansas City Royals

Willie Wilson June 4th

The Angels of Anaheim

Kendrys Morales May 24th

Dan Haren June 28th

Angels Gnome August 18th

Houston Astros

Michael Bourn April 10th

Hunter Pence April 30th

Chris Johnson May 14th

Bill Brown/Jim Deshaies broadcasters June 11th

Bret Myers July 13th

Los Angeles Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw May 17th

Don Mattingly June 1st

Hong Chih Kuo June 14th

Andre Ethier July 17th

FernandoMania July 26th

Milwaukee Brewers

John Axford April 24th

Casey McGehee May 22nd

Zack Grienke June 12th

Craig Counsell August 14th

Randy Wolf September 25th

Oakland Athletics

Rickey Henderson April 30th

McHammer 80’s theme July 17th

Ray Fosse August 16th

New York Mets

Mr Met April 18th

Seattle Mariners

Felix Hernandez April 9th

Ichiro Suzuki May 6th

Pittsburgh Pirates

Neil Walker May 21st

Texas Rangers

Nelson Cruz June 20th

San Diego Padres

Bud Black May 7th

Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista April 3rd

Roberto Alomar July 31st

San Francisco Giants

Cody Ross June 4th

Aubrey Huff June 25th

Buster Posey July 10th

Tim Lincecum August 27th

Saint Louis Cardinals

Stan Musial April 24th

Matt Holliday August 28th

Washington Nationals

Jayson Werth

Ian Desmond

 

The most expensive bobble-head today is The Beatles Bobble-head, and its priced at $32,000 dollars.

    

 

 

    

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