4-11-2011 Safeco Field
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