A lot has been happening this week so I apologize that this Sundays blog has came so late. I will tell you about the game in a minute. I need to get some other things covered before we start talking baseball. First things first. My charity projects have been totally awesome. And thats mostly in part by my awesome fans that have pledged some money per baseball that I snag this year. So far I have snagged 26 baseballs this season and next week the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Whitesox come to town. So I am uber excited about that. ( First time using the word uber in my blog ) Also. A good friend of mine has put up $10 large towards Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. I think that is very thoughtful of him. So thank you, Ryan.
Something else I need to get off my chest. For years Ive had specific rules when I snag baseballs at games. One rule that Ive been sticking to is that I only count baseballs that I go home with. Well, on Saturday, David DeJesus threw me a baseball that I didnt count. But I caught it. Now we all know in professional sports if a player catches a ball and has positive control over it, its ruled a catch, right? Well, the same should go for me when Im snagging baseballs in the stands. I also looked back into my previous games and found that I had indeed caught a baseball, gave it away, and then counted it in my collection. It happened last year at Kauffman Stadium when I caught a career high of five baseballs. So naturally I should count the one thrown to me from DeJesus. Everyone agree? Good.
Oh, one last thing. Because I have SiriusXM radio in my car which means I normally dont listen to AM/FM radio but since my car is in the shop I had to drive a loaner today. So no SiriusXM. I know. Youre like, “So?”. Well, its about to get interesting. On my way to school I tuned into 99.9FM KISW the Rock of Seattle. The BJ Shea Morning Experience radio show was on and these guys were talking about how President Obama showed his birth certificate finally and then they asked the audience what sort of things are we tired of having to prove but no one believes us. Well, I texted in ” Ive snagged 124 baseballs from 7 different stadiums.” As I was pulling into the school parking lot the KISW radio team called me! They asked me if I wanted to be on the air and talk about this. I was all for it, of course… so here is the radio interview for your listening pleasure. Just fast-forward to about the 18 minute mark.
So lets talk about Sundays game. Shall we? Sundays game looked like this during batting practice ( Or lack there-of ) practically the entire time.
So it was pretty boring. Then the Athletics came out to stretch, and do their thing. More boring-ness.
Like I said. There wasnt a whole lot going on. Before the game on Sundays its pretty mellow and boring. I did have some Athletics fan chew my ear off for about 30 minutes though. So I kind of enjoyed that.
I did finally get the chance to give Brad Ziegler some U.S Army wristbands Ive been wanting to get to him. He has a foundation that I mentioned in my last few blog entries. Its actually a pretty awesome foundation. You should check it out. Brad Ziegler was sort of busy talking to what seemed to be a reporter. I overheard him mention his foundation but then they hugged. So Im not sure who the woman was. Then I waited for another Athletics fan to get his autograph, and then I moved in to hand him the wristbands. I briefly explained that I was in the Army for ten years, and I wanted him to have the wristbands. I was going to go on about giving one to David DeJesus but he seemed kind of taken back from the whole thing, and quickly thanked me as he was stepping away to go to he dugout. I thought it would be a better experience then that. I was sort of disappointed at first…but he probably receives so much stuff from fans. I left it at that.
So I pretty much spent the entire game standing in the new area at Safeco Field called “The ‘Pen”. And let me tell you. If you havent gone there yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Well, actually. I take that back. Friday and Saturday games the ‘Pen is full of drunks. So its really not my scene. But Sundays game was calm, quiet and lots of older couples were in there. So it was pretty mellow. I ate here.
Remember how I said I was going to eat at a new venue every Sunday game and blog about it? Im telling you. If youve ever had good pizza you havent had great pizza until you eat a slice of heaven here. I had two slices of pepperoni and a small soda. It ran me about $14 and some change but so worth it. Its very messy so make sure you get lots of napkins. They are located on the left and right side of the venue. The awesome part about it is that this pizza didnt give me any heartburn.
Before I settled in the ‘Pen area I made sure to get on the board with at least one baseball today. I bet you cant guess who I got it from? I got it from Mark Ellis of course. My first baseball that Mark Ellis ever threw me happened at Busch Stadium on June 18th 2010. My second baseball from Mark Ellis happened a game later at Busch Stadium. And if youve been following this years blog entries youll know that Mark Ellis tossed me a baseball on Friday. So Mark Ellis is now tied with Todd Helton and Jonny Gomes for most baseballs tossed up by players. So todays baseball that he tossed me would give him the lead with four! I anticipate that he will continue to climb the ladder of most baseballs tossed to me by any player because Oakland comes to town two more times this year.
Unfortunatly, no home run balls were hit into the ‘Pen. I thought I would have dibs on anything hit into there too. So I was kind of disappointed. And I figured Id get a baseball from Brad Ziegler at the end of the game as well. But he threw one to some girl. I also didnt keep my Athletics hat on either while I was down there. So that probably made him think twice of who I was. I knew he remembered me though. So when I got home after the game I made sure I Tweeted him a thank you Tweet for accepting my wristbands. And sure he enough! He Tweeted back!
Game; April 24th 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $20.00 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $6.25 this season.
I totally forgot about the start time of 6:10pm. Which meant I got a late start leaving for the stadium. Which meant Id be stuck in Saturday afternoon Seattle traffic. Which meant I probably wouldnt be the first one at the gates. Which would probably cost me a baseball or two. So that sucked.
When I got to the stadium no one was there at the right field gates. It was about 35 minutes until the gates opened and I was shocked. Usually there is a small crowd by now but not today. It was in fact Easter weekend. Maybe people had better things to do than attend Mariners batting practice.
When I ran inside Jaime Navarro and Michael Pineda were in right field shagging baseballs. They usually stick the rookies in right field during batting practice because the more experienced players or the players with more seniority dont have to deal with the fans as much. Thats something you probably didnt know. Anyway. As batting practice continued there were a few baseballs hit into right field but nothing close. And since Jaime Navarro was with Michael Pineda I knew it was going to be nearly impossible to get a baseball from those two. Im pretty sure Jaime Navarro hates me. Ive spoken to him quite a few times and I usually get the cold shoulder. Mainly because Ive been saying his name wrong. I really didnt think about that until I started poking through a Mariners program left on a seat in the outfield. Ive been calling him “Jamie” and his name is pronounced ” Hy-may”. ( spelled Jaime ) Maybe he will forget my face and let by-gones be by-gones.
So as the front row slowly started to fill up with would-be ball snaggers, I dont know who hit it, but the ball was sliced gently over to the front row but didnt quite have the distance or the momentum to make it to me. I reached for it and of course the security guard had to give his two cents.
” I can’t give it to you, man. Ill get in trouble.” He said.
” Yeah, I know.” I said back. But what I wanted to say was this; ” Yeah, I know. You cant touch or pick up any baseballs because youll get in trouble or get fired. But as soon as a five year old kid comes running down here youre free to do whatever you want with the baseball. Ive heard it all before, bud. You dont have to give me a line. You can just say ” I cant give baseballs to adults.”
Of course when JAIME Navarro came walking over towards it and I asked him for a little help and he graciously waved at the security guard to just give me the baseball. HA! But you could tell in his face that he didnt want to give me the baseball. He was actually cringing at the thought. I politely thanked him anyway and wandered out of the aisle to let the others have a go.
When I got to the other side of the stadium ( It felt like hours had passed going from one end to the other ) the Athletics were coming out onto the field to start warming up. I wanted to line up behind Jerry Blevins and Brad Ziegler to try and snag an overthrow. The crowd was light so I actually had many options of who to stand behind.
The problem, as you can see, was the dorky, red-headed, security guard standing there. ( No offense to Red-heads ) He’d probably get plunked first before I caught any overthrows from Blevins. Not only that, anything down the line he would surely stick his weak little foot out to stop it from going any further. Most of those security guards have good intentions..if they’d just stay home.
Once the pitchers completed their warmup tosses for the evening I headed up the line some more to get a better angle on Hideki Matsui. Here’s a picture of him before I got closer.
After I got down there it wasnt long before Kevin Kouzmanoff walked over and started signing autographs. I easily got him to sign my ticket stub for the game and I thanked him for the awesome game of catch the day prior. He happily obliged and we parted ways. Moments later Brad Ziegler came walking by towards the dugout so I chased him down for a quick picture as he signed autographs for fans.
I climbed over a few rows of seats to get around in front of the dugout. Brad Ziegler has a great charity foundation called Pasttime for Patriots and since Im a military veteran myself I thought it would be awesome to thank him for his foundation. So I did just that and he smiled warmly at me. I also had two Army wristbands that I got while in the service that I wanted to give to him but I knew he was kind of in a hurry to get into the clubhouse to get ready for the game. So I held off on giving them to him. I figured tomorrow would be a better day since its a Sunday game and the baseball players really dont do a whole lot before the game.
After I could get in all the social activities with the Athletics I could around the infield I headed out to the outfield for some action. Unfortunatly I seriously picked the wrong spot. I was literally surrounded by little kids. Even though I had on my Athletics hat I knew that any time one of the players tossed me a baseball I would have the ever nagging urge to want to make a kids day. I didnt have a problem with giving baseballs away to kids but I also wanted to get my numbers up for my charities. I also got a picture of one of my favorite players, David DeJesus, hanging out in right field.
Everytime a baseball was hit to David this little girl would scream at the top of her lungs that she needed a baseball and that this was her first baseball game and that she’s never, ever, ever, ever gotten a baseball before and that she absolutely needs a baseball. Of course her parent(s) were no where in sight. She was just a lone renegade on a mission to get a baseball. Well, David DeJesus FINALLY threw one up to us. Luckily for me I caught it and I pointed at him in thanks. He pointed back at me and then kind of waggled his finger as an instruction to give the baseball to one of the kids standing around me. I made the mistake of pointing to the little girl beside me. David nodded and waved his glove at me. So I handed the baseball to the little girl. It did shut her up for about five minutes..but no one received a thank you. The little girl ran back to her Mother or Aunt or whoever was watching her at the time and happily exclaimed that she got a baseball. ” Did you say thank you?” The parental figure asked. ” Yes!” The little girl stated.
Now enter little girls brother. Literally crying tears and leaning on the railing claiming he will never get a baseball while the parental figure tries to calm him down made me cringe. If I got another baseball It would be my duty to hook this little kid up with it. But I refused to give a child their way because theyre throwing a temper tantrum or crying or whatever. When I was growing up I never got what I wanted by doing such. So I wasnt going to condone that type of behavior and reward it by giving up the next baseball. And Jerry Blevins came over to help DeJesus out. So I knew he would be throwing a few baseballs up into the crowd.
Now everytime a baseball came out to right field I got to hear ” My brother needs a baseball!” “Give that one to my brother! He really needs a baseball!” ” No, dont throw it in this time! Give it to my brother! This is his first game he has ever been to! He needs that baseball!”
I wanted to tear my ears off. Seriously. Her high ear piercing shrieks were giving me a headache. But there was a really good chance I could get a ball from Blevins. And the opportunity finally came. Blevins fielded a slow roller near the wall and I called out to him.
” Jerry! Would you toss that one up please!” I called out to him. Jerry looked at me and gave me one of those Johnny Cool upnods and then turned to fire it at me. He feigned the throw and then turned to fire it towards the batting practice ball bucket that was at the top of the diamond. Then without hesitation he turned laughing and pointed at me.
“Here you go!” He yelled as he fired me a strike. The ball slapped into my glove and I quickly pocketed the baseball into my pullover pockets. Yeah, I felt bad about the kid that was still crying. But the thing is…he didnt have any baseball gear on, no glove, no Mariners hat, nothing. He just sat there with his head down crying. He was making absolutely no effort to get a baseball. So I did the next best thing. I told him where and how to get a baseball. I explained Chone Figgins little pre-game routine, and I told him that just because Mark McGwire cried doesnt mean you can cry. There is no crying in baseball.
Finally batting practice came to an end. I was utterly relieved. My head was still pounding from all of those kids screaming. Since it was military appreciate day at Safeco I wandered down to the Mariners dugout to snap some pictures. It was so busy with photographers, and fans alike in that area the security guards didnt even bother to run fans out.
Here are some pictures.
After the ceremony and the National Anthem were completed, Chone Figgins started to head off the field and I quickly jumped all over that opportunity. Since there were a ton of people down in front of me and I didnt have a whole lot of room to run to get his attention I just started jumping up and down in the row I was in. He threw the baseball high and way to the right of me. So I had to reach way across my body, and stretch way out over the row of seats to catch it. I dont know if he intended to throw it to me or someone behind me but I ended up with it anyway. All I heard was ” Catch it! Here it comes! Get it! Get it!” and then when I caught it all I heard was groans of disappointment.
I sat in the outfield and ate a small personal pan pizza from one of the pizza places in the outfield. Gross. I think it made me sick to my stomach. And to make things worse here was my view for the first 30 minutes of the game.
The view was pretty bad. The sun was right in my face and I thought to myself that this would be the time when I home run ball was hit right to me. The time when I couldnt see. Aside from that, some annoying Athletics fan would say swing everytime a Mariner player was at bat and a pitch was thrown from the Athletics. It was truly annoying. The Athletics won 9-1 anyway. So after about a few innings of trash talking between the swing guy and some other Mariner fans, the Mariner fans were forced to end their trash talk when the Athletics started raking hits off Jason Vargas.
Game; April 23rd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $9.60 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $6.00 this season.
Game two of the four game set between the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners. Thursday night the Mariners barely hung onto a vitcory with a 1-0 win. That was with Felix Hernandez on the mound. Tonights match up would be between Tyson Ross and Michael Pineda. Pineda seems like a strong starter for the Mariners so I expected a huge crowd tonight. But really, it was about average. So I wasnt too concerned. I figured batting practice would be a little heavy as far as competition but it really wasnt too bad.
Once inside I searched around for easter eggs but none were found. The Mariners jogged off the field about as soon as I got inside too. And the Athletics were somewhat late to start BP. So I quickly switched hats and ran over to the other side. Like I said. Not a whole lot of competition.
That was the crowd for about the next thirty minutes. Unfortunatly, niether the Mariners OR the Athletics managed to park any baseballs in any of the seats in the entire stadium. I was kind of surprised that the Athletics didnt hit more home runs during BP. They have Matsui, Pennington, Kouzmanoff, Willingham, and Crisp. All of those players have plenty of power. I guess they were working more on the mechanics of their swing than anything else. Coco Crisp put a few deep but nothing further than the warning track. He did slice one into the seats that took a ridiculous bounce off the stairs and pegged a would-be baseball chaser right in the face. I think it hit him in between the eyes. In the picture below you can see him sitting by the security guard filling out his personal information.
The next turn of events was so awesome. I moved down to the front row of the seats and really all I was waiting for was an overthrow from Bobby Cramer who was playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff. When they got done throwing the baseball back and forth I called out to Kevin to throw the ball to me. He was kind of standing there watching the infielders taking some fungos from Mike Gallego so I thought why not? He turned towards me and tossed the baseball to me. I made a clean catch and I quickly thanked him. Kevin started flapping his glove at me like he wanted me to throw the baseball back to him. I thought for a moment that he wanted to give me a different baseball or something. So I lobbed the baseball back to him. Then he pointed at me with his glove. So I got ready and he hurled the baseball back to me. Wow! Playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff?! I totally felt like I was 12 years old again playing catch with my ol` man. It was really cool! Some of the fans around me turned green with envy and started making remarks like; ” Wow, this dude is playing catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff.” And then I had an older couple behind me saying I better catch the ball everytime. I held back a smile. I wanted to play it Johnny Cool.
Kevin then zig-zagged the baseball back and forth in his hand at me which meant he wanted to throw some knuckleballs. I havent ever caught a knuckleball before and from what some catchers in the Major Leagues have said about catching them, well, theyve claimed its sometimes very difficult to catch them. He started throwing and if you have ever caught a knuckleball before, yes. They do dance around and flutter just like a butterfly. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me at first. My throws were a little off the mark partly because I was nervous and partly because I had my hoodie on with my backpack still on my back. But I think I threw some pretty sharp curveballs to him. After about five or six minutes of playing catch, he pointed at me with his index finger after he threw the baseball back to indicate that the ball was now mine and we were done playing catch. I thanked him again and I just watched him walk to the infield. Awesome.
I wandered around the stadium to the other side to watch the Athletics finish up their portion of batting practice.
Usually Mike Gallego stands on this side to hit fungos to the infielders. But he wasnt over here today for some reason. When the Athletics jogged off the field I quickly switched hats back to my Mariners and patiently waited for Adam Kennedy, Chone Figgins, and Luis Rodriguez to come out to stretch and toss the ball around. Chone Figgins has this routine he does. Let me break it down for you.
Assuming the start time is 7:10. ( Which it normally is except Saturday games. Saturday games are seemingly trending to 6:10 start times. )
6:30pm- Opposing teams batting practice ends.
6:35-6:40pm- Chone Figgins and Luis Rodriguez come out of the dugout heading towards the first base foul line.
6:40pm- Hoards of Mariner fans flood the front row seeking autographs from Figgins and Rodriguez.
6:40-6:45pm- Figgins and Rodriguez play a quick game of catch to loosen up.
6:45pm- Figgins motions to the autograph seeking fans an “In a minute” finger sign. ( No, he doesnt flip them off. )
6:50pm- Adam Kennedy comes running out of the dugout as Figgins is stretching. Rodriguez jogs back to the dugout.
6:50pm-6:55pm- Figgins starts signing autographs.
6:55pm- Adam Kennedy starts signing autographs and then quickly runs off the field with baseball inside glove. ( Good time to ask for it. )
6:55pm- Figgins runs off the field after Kennedy and tosses baseball into the crowd ( Figgins is very selective of who he tosses the ball to. )
Immediatly after Figgins tosses the baseball into the crowd I switched hats and darted over to the Athletics side of the stadium. Mark Ellis, Chad Pennington, and Daric Barton would soon emerge from their dugout to play a friendly game of catch right out in front of it. If you stand in just the right spot ( Like I did ) and as soon as they are done playing catch you can almost always count on Mark Ellis to toss the baseball to you. ( Which he did ) Ellis isnt selective or bias like Figgins is with who gets the baseball. Its more of a first come first serve basis. Which I like. So here is the picture breakdown.
Rodriguez and Figgins playing catch…
Then Luis Rodriguez comes over to sign some autographs…
Security moves in to protect Rodriguez from aggressive autograph collectors, and dangerous small children…
Adam Kennedy comes out of the dugout to start his stretch routine…
I forgot to mention that the Mariner Moose sometimes comes down this way too. So if you like socializing with mascots…
After the Mariner Moose runs by thats when all the action unfolds. Rodriguez is the first to run off the field, quickly followed by Kennedy, and then Figgins. So if you play it right you can probably come away with two baseballs down here. After that I took off towards the Athletics side where I switched hats and waited on Mark Ellis.
Here is Mark Ellis playing catch. He only throws anywhere from 5-7 throws and then he quickly returns to the dugout. So unless youre like, right there ( Like me ) you wont be able to get his attention. And security isnt that strict at Safeco like people say. You just have to avoid them and dont stand by them or anything. And if they ask if you have a ticket to be down in the area I just tell them Im taking pictures and Ill be gone before the game starts. Heres a fun fact; Mark Ellis is now tied for leading toss ups by players with Jonny Gomes and Todd Helton with three. Here is my full list.
The game was pretty awesome. Pineda put in some work and held the Athletics from scoring any runs. So did the Mariners bullpen. And Brandon League even collected his fifth save of the season. Thats quite impressive.
Game; April 22nd 2011 Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $8.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $5.25 this season.
The Oakland Athletics were in town for a four gate set. I was pretty excited to see them. David DeJesus is one of my favorite players and I got to watch him a lot when he played for Kansas City. Now that he is an Athletic I will probably get to see him more. Also worth mentioning is Coco Crisp. Hes a very unique player with a very unique name ( His real name is Corvelli Crisp ) and last week he had a very unique hair style. Kind of reminds me of Oscar Gamble…
Unfortunatly for the Seattle crowd he had his hair braided. So no one got to see the big hair during the game. Maybe he will unbraid his hair again sometime during the season.
More big news. My charity project Snagging Baseballs for Puppies was featured on the Seattle Humane Society Facebook page! Check it out! I think that is really neat. I really do appreciate that and Id like to thank the staff that was behind making that happen. Its a good feeling to be able to help out. Since I love baseball and dogs so much, and I really dont have the time to own a dog myself I figured Id do the next best thing. So a special thank you goes out to the Seattle Humane Society and all those working hard to help out our furry friends. And a BIG thank you to those that have pledged towards my charity projects so far. It means a lot.
Once inside there werent any easter eggs to be scavenged. I guess the security guards are working extra hard to make sure any baseballs hit into the seats are thrown back onto the field. My competition was light but I continued to search for them anyway. You never know where one might be hiding. Ive found them tucked away under seats or in a seat…and sometimes a baseball will take a lucky bounce and end up in a cup holder. As I was looking around, Im not sure who hit it, but whoever did really mashed the ball about 15 rows up from the foul pole in foul territory. Maybe even deeper. I sprinted towards the area where it was hit and I had one other guy looking for it. All I heard was ” Its rolling down.” ” Its rolling down.” ” Its rolling down”. So I stopped hurdling seats and started to carefully walk down the aisle until I found it.
When the Mariners jogged off the field I started my way over to the third base side of the stadium. Thats generally where the opposing team starts to warm up. At least the pitchers do. There wasnt much going on except Dallas Braden missing a throw that nearly took out a blonde lady sitting in the first row. She was of course rewarded a baseball for her bravery.
Heres a picture of Brad Ziegler and Jerry Blevins who I lined up behind and hoped for an overthrow.
Jerry Blevins is the player closest to me. I didnt want to call out to him for a toss up this early because the Athletics were going to be in town for four games. So I had to keep an ace up my sleeve. Usually the players take the same spots on the field for pre-game warmups. So it would be pretty easy to get a toss up from Blevins. I got a toss up from him on Opening Day at the Coliseum. As batting practice continued I took the next picture to show how much competition was really there. As you can see in the below photo…not very much.
Down at the front of the row you can see a hulking man with long hair. He got two on the day and if you look further down the row you can see the blonde lady sitting down that nearly got pegged by Dallas Bradens throwing partner. As soon as I took this picture, ( I think Coco Crisp hit it ) there was a deep drive into foul territory. I turned to make a mad dash for it but some tall, lanky guy was standing right in my path. I was pretty much boxed in the row. The guy turned and I really expected him to give chase too. But he just stood there with his hands in his pockets in utter shock of how far the ball traveled. I felt kind of helpless.
As batting practice came to a close Gio Gonzalez was up the baseline from me signing autographs. I took this quick picture before he started running towards me.
What you dont see in this picture is by the screen that protects fans from hot line drives out of the cage were two baseballs sitting on the grass. Kind of like how I asked Tom Wilhelmsen for a baseball as he jogged off the field. Well, I used the same tactic with Gio Gonzalez. I asked really nicely and told him I appreciated it. He gathered up the baseballs and tossed me one and then another one to fan down the line. See? Without me asking for a baseball they would have just sat there for the grounds crew to scoop up and toss them in a bucket on their Gator as they picked up the batting practice equipment. So besides me getting a baseball another lucky fan got one too. It was a win win.
After batting practice came to a close I got some quick dinner and then contemplated my next move. Chone Figgins and Carlos Peguero came out to warm up, and Chone Figgins started playing catch with Adam Kennedy. I didnt even think to put on my Mariners hat ( I had switched to my A’s hat after the Mariners portion of batting practice had ended ) but If I did I would probably be talking about how I got my third baseball at this point. I stood around on the Mariners side of the stadium waiting on Chone Figgins and Adam Kennedy to get done playing catch.
That little black speck on the base line is Figgins glove. It also had a baseball inside of it. As Adam Kennedy ran off the field he looked right at me and I held up my glove. But he denied me. It probably had something to do with wearing my Athletics hat while asking. Chone Figgins also walked off the field and flipped the ball to a Mariners fan in the front row. Well, lesson learned.
After the National Anthem played I wandered back over to the Athletics side of the stadium and I tried to get Mark Ellis to throw me one but it seemed like he already had a fan picked out. The good thing is security didnt harass me at all. I think I was asked once If I had a ticket to be seated down in the lower box but I said I wasnt going to sit down here. I was only down here for pictures. Which was the truth anyway. Another good thing about Safeco is the crowd is so thin that you can literally walk through the rows from one side to the other. Instead of having to exit the seating area, walk up through the main concourse, and back down. Then you have to face security and all that jazz. So I just wandered carefully through the rows to get from first base side to third base side and vice versa.
Adam Kennedys home run was the only run of the game. The ball was hit about 10 feet to my lower left. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to check in to the game using my MLB At Bat 2011 application on my iphone. Had I been paying attention? I would have came up with that baseball. It would have been no question. Heres the video in case you want to look. Im in the white jacket walking down the aisle. I was trying to find the ball and then as I turned down the row I finally saw it. But it was too late. You can see me walking away in defeat. It was pretty sad.
After the home run by Kennedy I wandered around the stadium and finally went down into the ‘Pen. The security guards were right. Its just one big drunken party down there. Here are a few pictures I managed to take.
I think security had to tell two different guys to stop trash talking the players in the brief five minutes I was down there. Im sure security has their hands full in that area.
After that I went up to the home plate area. Since the Mariners had the lead and the A’s had one last shot at either tying the game up or scoring ahead, the game would end after the top half of the ninth if niether of those things happened. So I waited patiently for the first out to be recorded in the top of the ninth. Once the ball was in play and the second out was recorded I scooted passed security and started to make my way towards the umpire tunnel. Mark Ellis popped up to Miguel Olivo to end the game. As soon as Ellis made contact and I saw that it was a pop up I ran down to get a good position on the tunnel. About five other people started jumping seats into the Diamond Club to get closer to the umpires as they walked off the field, and security was right there to kick them out. Even AFTER the game you cant sit in the Diamond Club seating.
Ed Hickox started his decent into the tunnel and he handed one fan a baseball. I held my glove up for him to hit me but he disappeared under the tarp covering the tunnel. I stood there for an additional moment and it was like magic. All of a sudden a baseball appeared on the tarp. I quickly grabbed it with a bare hand. I really couldnt believe it. Some guy behind me said something along the lines of “Yeah, lets get four more baseballs.” Im not sure if thats what he said or if he did say it, Im not sure who he was directing it at. But anyway. Alls well that ends well.
Game; April 21st 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $7.60 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $4.75 this season.
More good news on my charity projects. I finally heard back from the Red Cross. Theyre going to work with me to help promote my charity project for the relief in Japan. How cool is that? So I was especially excited to come out to Safeco Field after the Mariners got home from their four day road trip to Kansas City. They were nearly swept too. But our rookie sensation, Michael Pineda, saved the day.
When I got to the stadium the weather was fair. There was plenty of sun but it was supposed to get very cold. So again I would be freezing my butt off during the game. But I was determined to snag a home run ball this year. Ill eventually learn to dress warmer. It really isnt that bad but its tough to take a nine whole innings of bitter coldness. When they close the roof it seems to warm up a tad. But not by much.
It wasnt until around 4:30pm when my competition showed up. Three older gentlemen. One was a veteran Ballhawk ( I suppose ) and the other two seemed like tag alongs. Of course I had to hear the “Safeco basics” from them and I just played stupid. I thought that was the best way to handle things. As soon as the gates opened I slinked in and waited at the turnstile for the music to play. When the horn blew I took long strides towards section 115. Let me back up for a second. While I was standing in line against the gates a security guard came over and asked me if I collected baseballs. I informed him I did sometimes…( Not sure what he wanted so I just kept it simple ) and he told me there were about three baseballs about ten rows up in section 115. There were still 30 minutes before the gates opened and I truely believed that by the time I got there the baseballs would be gone.
I arrived at section 115 and ran down towards the tenth row. The other guys right on my heels. No three baseballs in row ten. Or anywhere for that matter. I guess the security guards had tossed them all back onto the field. Blah. I wandered around for a few moments, and even called out to Michael Pineda to toss me a baseball but he ended up tossing it to a woman in the front row with some kind of media credentials. I scouted around for a decent place to set up shop and then I noticed three baseballs on the base line. As the Mariners were starting to jog off the field I noticed that Tom Wilhemsen was talking to family members or close friends, relatives, whatever, over in foul territory. I anticipated that he would run right passed those three baseballs. So I ran over and lined myself up with them and waited patiently. As Wilhemsen ran towards me I pointed to the baseballs and asked if he would toss a few up. He did just that. I thanked him and told him I appreciated it. He nodded to me and tossed another lucky fan a ball.
The Mariners were totally off the field and no sign of the Detroit Tigers. Were they not taking batting practice today? The batting practice equipment was still up. Surely they would.
I stopped to take this picture as I continued around the stadium.
Finally the Tigers started to come out of the dugout. Still no one in the cage though. I guess Jim Leyland had a meeting with the team that went over scheduled time. That or the Tigers were busy in the clubhouse watching a movie or something.
Once I got down to the base line I lined up behind the Tigers pitchers for any overthrows that may occur. Unfortunatly, nothing came my way. The Tigers were sound during their warmups. Which is expected. I have high respects for the Detroit Tigers. Two of my favorite players are on this team. Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez.
Still. No. Batting. Practice. Where were the position players? Napping? C`mon already!
As the Tigers pitching staff ended their warmup the position players FINALLY started to come out and hit. I moved up into the left field bleacher seats ( Which let me tell you. Limited space.) It wasnt long and the rows started to fill up. For me to catch a baseball one would have to be hit exactly to me. The chances of that happening? Probably one out of 100. Those seem like decent odds but when you figure in the competition factor ( People around me trying to catch a baseball too ) the odds steadily increase as more people fill the rows. I did have a couple hit out to the area I was standing in. I think Brandon Inge was the one batting but he sailed one deep and I ran to my left to try and make a last minute snag but it was way over my head. The guy behind me got it.
I took a couple pictures of Magglio Ordonez while I was up there. Batting practice for the Tigers didnt last much longer than about 30 minutes. For some reason they cut it short by 15 minutes.
Here is another picture of Magglio warming up.
When I got down to the dugout Victor Martinez was being interviews pre-game. And of course all the autographers were after him. Heres a picture of Victor being interviewed.
Before the game started I tried to get the warmup baseball from one of the Tigers position players. I just casually walked down the aisle acting like I was going to take pictures of the Tigers. It was about 7:00pm. Five minutes until first pitch. The security guards really didnt hassle with me too much. The guard that was working that aisle kind of took a look at me and then waved me off as some Tigers fan trying to get pictures. He just assumed I wouldnt stay down there the entire game. I guess I could have. The first row was pretty much empty the entire game by the dugout. Anyway. I took a few pictures but what I really wanted was the baseball Brandon Inge and Brennan Boesch were tossing around. About three minutes before first pitch, Inge and Boesch both started to head towards the dugout. They continued to flip the baseball back and forth to each other and finally Inge tossed it behind his back and Boesch missed it. They both continued towards the dugout where they left the personal trainer to deal with the baseball. He tossed it to a family of Tiger fans.
Here is a picture of Magglio Ordonez right before first pitch. On the far left is the personal trainer that ended up with the baseball.
I made my way out to the right field bleachers where I sat for the majority of the game. In the first inning Ryan Raburn popped a towering foul ball that no one ended up catching because it hit off the rafters of the roof. Can you believe that? If you ever get to Safeco Field or already have and remember how far up the roof rafters are…well that is just amazing. Ryan Raburn is the first baseball player to have done that at Safeco Field.
The text under Ryan Raburns name says ” Foul ball in the first inning was the first to ever hit the Safeco Field roof. “
Here is a picture of the view from my seat. The outfield was pretty cold but when they finally closed the roof it started to warm up a bit. But not by much. I think Ive already said that.
Another notable highlight of the game was that Mike McCready was there. How cool is that? Its pretty awesome if youre a Seattle Native. If you dont know who Mike McCready is I suggest you open up your musical avenues. Mike McCready is this guy.
Still having a hard time figuring out who Mike McCready is? Maybe you already know…
Heres another picture.
Give up? Mike McCready is the lead guitarist for the Seattle formed band Pearl Jam.
Anyway. The Mariners played like absolute crap. Well, not their defense. Well, sorta. Miguel Olivo allowed two pass balls that counted for two of the eight runs that Detroit scored. Not to mention a base clearing triple by Jhonny Peralta and before that the Tigers managed to get the bases loaded and the Mariners walked a run in. By the seventh inning nearly the entire stadium was clearing out. Justin Smoak did manage to get one run back by parking one in the Mariners bullpen. Milton Bradley also put one in the seats but that was in the 3rd inning.
One of my Ballhawk aquaintances, John Schulstad, was at the game as well. He was able to snag a Milton Bradley foul ball in the first inning. You can read his blog here, and you can also read about his Milton Bradley foul ball snag here. It was actually quite an eventful night at the Safe. After the final out was recorded I chased down to the umpire tunnel and called out to Larry Vanover. He immediatly hooked me up with my 2nd and final ball of the night.
If youre curious about my charity, which by the way, I think is totally awesome and worth it, you can read all about it here. I encourage you to just take a peek if you havent done so already. I have a few other projects going on as well. Im not only snagging baseballs for puppies for the Seattle-King Co. Humanes Society but I am also snagging baseballs for the Red Cross. That charity project is called; Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan. If you feel like pledging you can send me an email to Stock350i@yahoo.com. Id love to hear from you.
Game; April 18th 2011 Detroit Tigers vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $6.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $4.00 this season.
I wasnt planning on staying the entire game let alone batting practice today. So I wanted to get on the board as fast as possible. About fifteen minutes before the gates were about to open up a flood of about 15 people joined me at the gates. I pretty much stood there from the time I arrived at the stadium until the time the gates opened, alone. I seriously thought I would have the entire stadium to myself. I practically did. Once the horn blew the race was on.
I thought I was going to be beat out by a bunch of kids. But somehow their parents kept them at a speed walk. My long strides got me down the first base side and into foul territory much faster and it wasnt long before I snagged my first easter egg. Right as I picked up the baseball one of the security guards told me to take cover. I looked up for a split second to try and get a read on the ball but I couldnt see it. So I covered my head with my glove and braced for impact. As soon as the baseball smashed into the seats I was all over it.
I hung around in foul territory for a few more minutes and then I quickly made a giant loop around the stadium. Its pretty good cardio and I was hoping to pick up a stray easter egg. No such luck. I finally stopped out in the right field bleachers to snag a few home run balls. I guess I looked approachable or friendly or something. But for the next 15 minutes some random guy chewed my ear off about his kids being active in sports. It was driving me nuts because his breath smelled like rotten beer. I remained friendly in any case. When the guy finally left me alone I wandered down to the front row and I tried to get Juan Riveras attention but he thoroughly ignored me. There were a few baseballs on the warning track that I considered. He was closest to them.
That pretty much concluded batting practice for me. I apologize for no pictures in this entry. I took some but I left my memory card at home for my camera and I cant find the USB cord to upload them. So no pictures. The Mariners did record their second win at home though, and Michael Pineda got his first Major League win. So congratulations to him.
If youre interested in learning more about my charity project I started for the Seattle-King Co. Humanes Society you can go to this website to get the full run down. I also have two more charity projects. You can check them out here and here. I have yet to here any offical word on the Japan relief project or the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation but I am confident that something good will come this week or the following. I also wanted to give a shout out to an aquaintance of mine concerning this charity project. The actual idea to snag baseballs at Major League stadiums wasnt a self-created idea. Zack Hample is the one that actually created the idea. I did contact him through email and he sort of got me started on the whole charity project thing. If you get a chance check out his charity organization here.
Game; April 12th 2011
Money raised for Seattle Humanes Society so far; $4.20
Money raised for Red Cross Japan Relief so far; $3.50
I showed up to todays game fairly early. And like always I was the first one in line. About an hour later another fan showed up decked out in Mariners gear. He had a large tote bag with him so I assumed he was just here for autographs. He played with his cellphone most of the time so we really didnt talk much. He seemed harmless. Five minutes before the gates open the line grew to about eight people. Mostly couples with children. But right at the last moment the dude that showed up after me pulled his glove out and got ready to run in when the horn blew. I knew there was something up with him. But he was older and not in very good shape. So I had him beat anyway.
Once inside batting practice was very slow. I searched the seats for any easter eggs but there was about 50 people already inside looking around and taking up their positions in the bleachers. I guess they opened the ‘Pen area up early. Im not sure how these people got into the stadium that early. But I didnt worry about it. The Toronto Blue Jays were in town and they were already stretching to head out to warmup. So I quickly switched to my Blue Jays hat.
I made it to the third base side of the stadium and the hot corner was already filling up. The hot corner is the part of the foul territory in the seats where baseballs seem to be attracted to. I took a picture during the game from where I sat and I also pointed out where the hot corner is so youll get some kind of an idea of what Im talking about.
During batting practice its an ideal place to stand. But lots of people crowd that area. Usually a handful of baseballs are hit when the batter is either trying to work on pulling the ball ( Righties ) or when the batter is trying to slice the ball down the line. ( Lefties ) So depending on who is pitching that night the lineup will probably be stacked either way. Something to keep in mind. Also a lot of overthrows happen there too. So like I said. Its a pretty good place to stand.
When Carlos Villanueva came out to warmup he was complaining to the trainer about his shoulder. The trainer told him to just work on distance throwing. So I figured Id stand behind him and catch any overthrows that might happen. Usually there is always a couple. It didnt take long and Carlos Villanuevas partner launched a deep, high arching throw and I lined up with it to catch it. I tried to back hand catch it but I guess I didnt reach far enough. It hit right off the tip of my glove and bounced right to the security guard. I knew I wouldnt get it back after that. Carlos waved it off to the security guard to do whatever with it and I held up my glove for one last ditch effort. Shockingly the guard tossed it to me.
After I got the ball tossed to me I asked Carlos if he wanted it back. He shook his head at me and I thanked him. Players always appreciate it if you ask them if they need the ball back. After all they are trying to practice with them. So without a baseball they cant get anything done. I secured the baseball in my pocket and kind of hung around a little longer to maybe catch a foul ball or something. After I few moments I took the ball out to put it in my backpack and I was literally floored when I saw the emblem. 50th Anniversary of the Angels of Anaheim commemorative baseball. Im not sure how many are made but the Angels are using them for the season. It was pretty awesome to get one. That would be my fifth commemorative baseball Ive gotten since 2008. My first one was the Washington Nationals inaugural season. I got that one at Busch Stadium. Then I got a CitiField inaugural commemorative baseball last year at Busch Stadium as well. I also snagged two Target Field inaugural commemorative baseballs at Kauffman Stadium from the Tampa Bay Rays batting practice.
Im sure youre curious how these special baseballs end up with other teams that are essencially caught by fans at different stadiums. Well, Im not entirely sure how a lot of baseballs with special logos ends up with other teams. One can only assume they somehow get mixed up during batting practice. So in this case the Toronto Blue Jays played the Angels April 8th through the 10th. In those three games the Blue Jays picked up quite a few special baseballs from the Angels. Whether it was during batting practice or during the game. But you can safely assume that any team that has played the Angels thus far or going to play them will end up with some of these baseballs. So if youre interested in snagging one…be on the look out.
After that snag I played the outfield for the remaining time. A lot of baseballs were being hit to my left but I stayed put. I had little competition for anything hit to my right and I liked it that way. But as soon as I climbed a row back to try and get in on some of the action to my left a deep fly ball was hit to my right. I had no chance. The dude that was playing that same row quickly went after it. He didnt make a clean catch up he got a lucky bounce. The ball smacked the stairs and went directly into his glove. I complimented his snagging abilities. I even asked if the baseball had the Angels logo on it and he quickly said no. So I had an inkling he was into Ball Hawking. Most people I asked after they caught a ball or had one tossed to them if it had the Angels logo on it looked at me like I was crazy. I had to explain that the Angels were using commemorative baseballs this year to celebrate their 50th year in the Major Leagues. People still looked at me like I was crazy.
During the game I actually thought Id get to use my ball retrieving tactic. A foul ball was hit into the camera pod ( the red circled area ).
But I didnt realize that there was a camera man up there. Once I got my string attached and picked out a route to get over there the ball was being handed up to a fan. Its the thought that counts.
During the game I almost caught my first home run ball too. Milton Bradley smoked one into the Right field bleachers. If you go onto Mariners.com and check out the Milton Bradley home run you will see me chasing it down. I wouldve had it too but the ball hit the back of a seat and shot straight up to this dude that was just standing there. Heres a picture of me running after the ball.
And this is who got it.
Yeah. That dude got a lucky bounce. Anyway. The Mariners played such smart baseball to win the game. The Toronto Blue Jays pitching just fell apart and the Mariners loaded the bases. With four walked runs in Seattle was on the verge of winning this one or going extra innings. I was pretty tired so I was hoping that it didnt go longer than nine innings. The bottom of the ninth came where Seattle put two on with two out. Luis Rodriguez fouled off a bunch of pitches to stay alive and then finally put one into the gap to score Brenden Ryan and Ichiro. The diehard 2,000 fans that stuck around ( including me ) cheered like it was a playoff victory. It was so amazing. The Mariners celebrated at the mound while I chased down the home plate umpire, Scott Barry, for the final baseball of the night. Which I was immediatly denied. The umpires I think were fairly tired and just wanted to get to the hotel. Tomorrow was a 12:40pm game so that probably had a lot to do with it.
In another news I am finally hearing back from the Humanes Society of King Co. I have been exchanging emails back and forth with them for about a week now and its looking like my charity project is going to take off. Im really excited. So far I have two pledges. Brad, from Crowdrise.com, pledged .25 cents a baseball. And my dear ol` mother pledged .05 cents a baseball. Bless her heart. So if you are interested in pledging please drop me a line. You can either email me at Stock350i@yahoo.com or leave a comment here.
So far I have raised $4.20. So thank you to all that have pledged.
Game; April 11th 2011 Toronto Blue Jays vs Seattle Mariners
Sundays game went off without a hitch. I thought there wasnt going to be any batting practice because it was a day game following a night game. But when I ran inside the cage was set up and the Indians were getting ready to start swinging. It was pretty rainy and cold out so I had to dress accordingly. I still dont think I dressed well enough. Its pretty miserable in the centerfield bleachers. Since its nearly impossible to sneak down into the lower box area to claim a seat I figured Id try elsewhere.
Once I got inside I thoroughly checked the lower first base side. Nothing. So I moved over to the third base area. I didnt bother checking the outfield bleachers for baseballs since the stadium was filling up rather quickly. Once I got to the third base side Chris Perez was doing some warmups. I thought about asking him for a baseball but I figured Id shower him with compliments first to butter him up. He did have a pretty good save the night before and I let him know that. He nodded to me and said thanks.
Here is a picture of him inbetween running the warning track.
Soon after his warmup he came over to sign some autographs. Here is another picture of him signing some baseballs for some kids.
Chris was a class act when he was with St Louis. Nothing has changed. Ive always admired him. Hes friendly and does what he can for the fans.
Now the next turn of events was quite humorous in my humble opinion but I guess it wasnt that funny to the other people. Kelvin De La Cruz and Tony Sipp started to play catch. As they were warming up, De La Cruz kind of overthrew Sipp. Well, the baseball rolled close by so I made an attempt at it. It got passed me and another fan ended up with it. Since it was their only baseball, Sipp requested it back. So the fan reluctantly gave it up. De La Cruz kind of suggested that he would get the fan another baseball. And when one was hit to him he tossed it to the fan that orginally had the baseball from the overthrow. Now in the Ball Hawking world there are plenty of unwritten rules. One rule is when a player specifically throws a baseball to a fan you do not rob that fan of the ball. Especially kids. Now. There are exceptions to the rules like always. If an adult, like in this case, drops the baseball and it lands back onto the field its pretty much up for grabs. Well, I watched this entire thing play out. De La Cruz tossed the ball, between three adults, they all seemed to bobble it and it scooted away back out onto the field just out of reach. So each of them made a sorry attempt at getting it back. What concerned me was security was on the way over to steal it. So I lunged for the ball and secured it in my glove. I started laughing but the three adults were clearly not happy. Anyway. Kelvin De La Cruz tossed them a second ball and they didnt drop it this time. I even hung back to give them room after a few smart-mouthed comments.
I left soon after to go play the outfield for the remaining portion of batting practice. I easily snagged my second baseball from the Indians bullpen catcher. I think thats who tossed it to me. Hes a short, chubby hispanic guy with a catchers glove. Ive seen him before and Im certain its not Carlos Santana. Anyway. He tried to shag a flyout and I just raised my glove for it after he missed it. He hooked me up immediatly.
After batting practice I went to grab some food. Safeco actually has some pretty awesome food and Im going to try and hit new places to eat around the stadium every Sunday. So be on the look out for some reviews of places to chow down. This Sunday I went here.
My review for this place would be five out of five. The cheeseburger I bought was exceptionally awesome. It had great taste, it was somewhat filling, and it wasnt a messy, sloppy jumble of puke-burgerness that most places sell. It has tomato, shredded lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickle, and onion. Plus a 1/3 pound beef patty cooked to perfection. The price is a little steep though. It cost me $11.25 for the burger and a small coke. The burger alone is $7.25. Well worth it though.
The game was pretty entertaining. It was a decent pitchers duel but in the end the Mariners ended up getting swept by the division leading Indians. The final score was 2-1. Michael Saunders did put one in the seats but not anywhere I was sitting. I did get on the instant replay. Ive circled myself in red.
Im also starting a charity for the Seattle-King Co. Humanes Society. Its called Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. Its to help raise money for the Humanes Society shelter in the Seattle-King Co. area. So if you wan to help me you can make a pledge. Heres how it works; you make a pledge of a dollar amount. It could be any amount. But keep this in mind. I go to a lot of baseball games and I usually snag quite a few baseballs per game. So youll want to keep your pledge at a comfortable level. For every baseball I snag during the regular season, to include the playoffs and World Series, you will pledge a certain amount per ball. By the end of the season I will tally up all my baseballs and you will multiply your dollar amount per baseball and donate that much. For example. If you donate ten cents per baseball and I snag 100 baseballs, thats $10.00. Got it? Awesome. You can check out my snagging stats on this website.
And you can check out the actual charity project page at this website.
So far I have a couple people pledging. One guy on Crowdrise.com, Brad, has pledged .25 cents a baseball! So that is really awesome!
Game; April 10th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs Seattle Mariners
It was Felix Hernandez bobblehead giveaway day at the Safe. I figured people would be lined up at the gates at 10:00am. But when I got to the stadium there were only three people ahead of me. In fact when it was time for the gates to open there wasnt much of a line behind me. The security guards opened three gates at the right field entrance instead of the conventional two. So that allowed me to be the first one inside.
Once inside the search was on. The Mariners were already in the cage taking their hacks so there were bound to be some easter eggs in the seats. There were a few kids that were finding them and holding them up with joy. And finally after a few minutes of searching I too got to hold one up with joy. But I didnt. I took off for the third base foul line.
Batting practice was dead. The Mariners or the Indians didnt have anyone putting anything into the bleachers. It was kind of a disappointment. The Indians were reluctant to toss anything into the seats as well. So it was a tough day.
Once the game started I went up to my seat. I picked to sit in the center field bleachers for the series. That was probably the biggest mistake ever. It was so cold up there with the wind blowing and being that high off the field. I really wasnt dressed well enough either. So I knew I wouldnt last long. Here are a few pictures I took while being up there.
There was a pretty good sized crowd but I actually thought there would be more people because of the bobblehead. The attendance came out to around 30,000 people but Im betting a lot of people showed up, grabbed their bobblehead, and then just went home.
Heres a picture that I took around the fifth inning. You can see in the background that there were a lot of empty seats.
Seattle actually played a pretty good game. Doug Fister only allowed two runs and those two runs came from a throwing error by Milton Bradley. Somehow he missed the cut-off man and the ball ended up in the Cleveland dugout. Im not entirely sure how that happened. Since the game was pretty close many Mariner fans stayed to include the ones behind the dish. The place I had to get to, to try and snag my second ball on the night. Of course security was posted up again where they put out their little signs to keep people from walking down while the ball is in play.
Once I got passed security I found quickly found a seat and sat down. There was a guy behind me that told me I was blocking his view to homeplate. I kind of laughed but I moved for him anyway. Soon after that some teenager came running down and actually tried to climb over the Diamond Club seating and sit there. He was quickly escorted back up. Once Chris Perez took the mound it was a done deal. Perez slammed the door on the Mariners for his third save of the season and I scampered down to the umpire tunnel. He tossed two up but none within reach.
Game; April 9th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners
Tonights game would be very special to Mariner fans and it would probably be a sold out show. I arrived as early as possible to secure first place in line and I was shocked to see this.
Yup. Someone actually beat me to the stadium. Her name is Carla and she is a loyal season ticket holder. She has been since 2001. There are quite a few season ticket holders that get to the stadium pretty early. One guy, his name is Steve, and he has been a season ticket holder since 1977. ( The inaugural season of the Mariners ) I wouldnt consider him a Ball Hawk but he does go after baseballs. He gives most of them away to kids. There is actually quite a bit of competition through the gates. So I had to be on my toes going in.
A lot has changed since my last visit to the Safe in 2006. Safeco now offers a place where fans can eat and drink. Its called the ‘Pen. Ive provided a link so you can read all about it. I never went down there during Fridays game but I plan to once the attendance starts to fall off.
From what some security guards say about the ‘Pen is that its usually full of drunk fans that want to trash talk and fight. Im not sure if thats really true but thats what Ive been hearing. They do serve hard alcohol down there so Im sure some of the rumors are true.
KIRO 710am set up an outside radio booth to cover some sports talk before the game. I snapped a few photographs when Jack Zduriencik made an appearance. It was really cool to see him outside and I heard he was a real approachable guy. But I didnt stick around long enough to hear the full broadcast. I wanted to take some more pictures and explore Safeco Field. I wandered down towards the CenterField gates to check out what was behind Safeco.
Thats pretty much what is behind Safeco Field. A whole lotta` nothing. Except there is this sign that stands out. Heres a better look at what it says.
Im wondering if players enter from somewhere over here. I really couldnt find an entry point for anyone except maybe the football players. Qwest Field is right next to Safeco Field so maybe its for them. But consider yourself cautioned. Also along the CenterField wall they have pictures of Mariner greats. Like this one.
Opening night at Safeco finally sold out after about an hour after I arrived. That was pretty cool. Not only was it the Mariners home opener but Dave Niehaus’s family was going to be in attendance. His wife, Marilyn, would be throwing out the first pitch. No Mariner fan would miss this for the world. But the first thing I had to do was get on the board with a baseball. It wouldnt come easy. Well, sorta.
This is the RightField entrance. The main thoroughfare to my ever continuing success in Major League stadiums of snagging baseballs. Tonight this stadium would see 47,000 people. Probably more since they do sell standing room only tickets. The biggest crowd that I ever faced was at The Ballpark in Arlington during the playoffs last season. The attendance topped out at nearly 55,000. So 47,000 would be a walk in the park. Before youre allowed to enter the stadium they play a little Mariners greatest plays over the loud speaker. And then they play a little jingle. And then the horn blows. Finally.
Once inside it was madness. People were pouring into the sections looking for baseballs. But since I was the first one inside I had first look through plenty of sections. There was a guy that kept telling me to look harder and look under the seats. It was a little annoying. He kept saying that there were baseballs inbetween the rows but a person just had to look hard and have a sharp eye. Soon enough he jetted off into the center field bleacher seats to set up for BP home runs. I soon followed and a little white orb caught my eye as I turned. My first one on the day. Sometimes those baseballs are hard to see.
I actually took my time through the left field, center field, and right field bleachers searching for another baseball. But the stadium was filling up with people so any lost baseballs would sure enough be scavenged by fans by now. I took some pictures on the way as I moved around the stadium.
I took this picture from center field. I also put a red box out there in the third base lower sections. I will tell you why in a minute. I continued around the stadium taking pictures.
Felix Hernandez was out shagging fly balls and as soon as I took this picture a ball was hit in my direction. Hernandez ran it down and a Mariner fan stepped in front of me and started calling for the baseball. I was wearing my Indians hat at the time so I didnt even bother calling for the ball. I didnt even think Felix would throw one anyway. But he did. I was a row back from the fan in front of me but I still made an attempt. Hernandez threw the ball wide left so I really had to extend for it. The ball bounced off my the end of my glove and dropped down into the seats. The chase was on. Unfortunatly since he was in the exact row the ball dropped into I had a very slim chance of getting to it first. I still made the attempt but I was beat from the start. So I moved on.
I took the next picture from the right field seats. The new ‘Pen area was renovated over the offseason and it looks pretty inviting. The fans can now have a clear view of the bullpens without a fence to obstuct their view. It has its pros and cons. Heres a picture. You can see fans already standing there as an Indian pitcher starts his warmup.
Once I got done taking awesome pictures of the bullpens I turned around and saw a baseball sitting between some rows. Now remember that picture I took of Felix Hernandez with the cute little red box around some seats? Thats where the ball was. I saw it from the right field bleachers. To get to it would take some time. But as soon as I saw it I bolted for it. When I got to the baseball there was a security guard ten feet from it practically in the same row. She saw me scoop it up and sort of smiled to me. She kind of gave me the impression that she wanted someone else to get it, like a kid, instead of a guy in an Indians hat. But finders keepers.
I found my third baseball of the day nearly the same way. I was just poking around through the rows when I caught a glimpse of another baseball neatly tucked away under some seats. No one was really around to claim it and people were walking by it. Someone even brushed it with their foot as they were climbing over some seats. So I wandered over near it waiting for someone to come looking for it or turn around to claim it. But no one did. So I picked it up and stood there. Another few minutes went by. Still no one came over to get it. So I walked away with it.
I spent the majority of my time on the foul line. Playing the outfield was way too crowded for my blood. I didnt want to push and shove or be pushed or shoved around when incoming baseballs reached the seats. It was tough getting any handouts from the Indians. They were tossing a lot of baseballs to kids and parents with babies. Which that was fine with me. It was all in good fun. I had three on the day anyway. So I was good with that.
Heres a picture of how crowded the baseline was.
Everyone brought their gloves. And there were plenty of foul liners that came out towards me but nothing within reach. I was trying to get Chris Perez to toss me a baseball but he was totally focused with getting warmed up and prepared for todays game. But I felt grateful today anyway. Safeco Field let everyone in nearly 30 minutes earlier so fans could watch the Mariners take some cuts in the cage. Bravo to them. Ichiro is always fun to watch. Plus he provides lots of home run balls into the seats.
Heres another picture I took from behind home plate. I also made my route in the right field bleachers to the baseball I saw from there. As you can see its quite a distance. Its even longer when youre running towards the area searching for a baseball inbetween a row of seats.
Here are some pictures from the opening night ceremony. The groundskeepers put “My Oh My” in the infield. I thought that was pretty awesome.
This next picture was from the area I was supposed to be sitting in. But TicketMaster somehow screwed up my seating and put me right in the middle of the row. I think they thought that seat 10 was an aisle seat. I requested an aisle seat over the phone. Mariners.com didnt have a problem getting me aisle seating. Looks like TicketMaster lost a customer. So I stood behind the section for a few innings until I told the security guard what had happened and he hooked me up with a seat right at the top. So I watched the game like this.
Sold out crowd. Here is a picture to show how many people showed up for this game. And the sad part is by the fourth inning the Mariners were getting blown out. People actually started to leave in the middle of the fifth inning when the Indians had a 6-0 lead. I felt kind of bad but Seattle fans should be used to this torture! C`mon! Its the Mariners! Remember those days when the Mariners had like, an eight run lead and Norm Charlton would come in to try and close the game? All of a sudden the other team would load the bases and start hitting singles and doubles like it was going out of style? Nothing has changed except now it happens in Safeco Field!
But the characters still came out to support the Mariners.
The Mariners ended up losing by a score of 12-2. It was pretty embarrasing. Especially on opening night. To end the night I raced down behind home plate to catch the Umpires leaving the field. And let me tell you something about Safeco Field security. They dont mess around. But they do get a little loose on their rules around the seventh or eight inning. ( Depending on which security guard you talk to ) Every aisle has one of these guys standing in front of it.
When the game ended I waved my glove to get Sam Holbrooks attention. He lifted his chin at me as if he acknowledged my request and tossed me a gem. But I bobbled it. I somehow closed my glove entirely too soon and the ball threatened to get away from me. I quickly secured it with my free hand and placed it firmly in my glove. Wow. It wouldnt be the first time I bobbled one. But dropping one here would be costly.
Game; April 8th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs Seattle Mariners