May 23rd, 2011

5-19-2011 Safeco Field

When I was walking down the sidewalk towards the stadium I noticed a huge crowd outside the third base gates. I was hoping they were just lining up to buy tickets. (It was Franklin Gutierrez fly-swatter day) But as I got closer the large crowd was getting their bags checked, their tickets scanned, and they were all receiving a fly-swatter. I sprinted down to the right field gates to make sure people weren’t entering the stadium there (They weren’t) and then I sprinted back to the third base gates, got my bag checked, ticket scanned, and got my fly-swatter. You’re probably saying “So what?” But not “So what.” It was 9:30am in the morning! The gates weren’t supposed to open for another 40 minutes! And here I am…inside already! I didn’t bother to ask around or hassle security with a “What’s going on” question. I just followed the crowd.

It turns out that the large crowd was a high school field trip from the surrounding Seattle high schools. The sixth annual Deca-Day at Safeco Field.

I figured that this crowd alone would drastically cut down my chances of getting a baseball. Since there obviously wasn’t going to be any batting practice (12:40pm start time) because of the early game and now a heaping load of high schoolers were my competition… It would be tough for sure.

Deca-Day promptly started at 9:45am and lasted right up intil 10:40am. And since it took place at Safeco Field you can probably guess what the speakers talked about. Yes. Getting a job at Safeco Field and what positions were available. Basically you get to start out as a “fielder”. Thats a fancy name for grounds crew member. Its a minimum wage job that is aimed at high school and college aged people and normally the application process begins in February. People used to be able to contact the Mariners and request applications to get onboard but in the last few years they have changed that. Now you have to contact an advisor in your school, then they will contact someone on the Mariners hiring staff and send your advisor a recruiting packet. You will it out, (Include cover letter and a resume) send it all back in and then you might get a phone call. After that comes the interview process and all the other hoopla. There was quite a large turnout for this as well.

And then this happened.

While the guest speakers were going on about what they do for the Mariners some Los Angeles Angels came out to start throwing the ball around. I had three guards around me so I didn’t want to get up and walk down to the front row. (Even though I should have done that from the start) It was about 15 minutes before the center field ‘Pen gates were set to open so I still had some time to burn. I quietly excused myself and headed to the bathroom. I figured I could run the clock out there, switch to my Angels hat and no one would be to the wiser. My plan actually worked. After 15 minutes of course. I came out of the bathroom and as the high schoolers were being excused one section at a time I simply strolled down to the front row. The center field gates were now open.

All 1 million high school kids seemed to have disappeared. I pretty much had the entire third base line to myself. And any high schoolers that did come down immediatly talked each other into going to the Mariners side of the stadium. So things weren’t as bad as I had once predicted.

Fernando Rodney, Scott Downs, Ervin Santana, and Tyler Chatwood all came out to stretch and toss the ball around. My buddy Josh (who I mentioned about in my last entry ) lined up behind Rodney, and Santana. I lined up behind Scott Downs but I had the most obnoxious fan standing beside me constantly calling out for a baseball and beating his glove with his fist. I could tell that Scott Downs wasn’t playing into his little game and declined just about everyone in the front row a baseball as he finished up playing catch. He had about four baseballs in his possession and when I realized he wasn’t going to throw one to me I quickly climbed a few rows of seats and headed towards the dugout. I stripped off my backpack, pulled off my jacket and tucked it down into a nearby seat and waited. Scott Downs was busy talking to a security guard that was on the field and as soon as he got done talking to him he started towards me. I knew this was my one and only chance to get that last baseball from Downs. Below is a picture of the annoying fan that caused me to work so hard for this baseball. He’s the short guy with the long, black hair.

Scott Downs slowly approached the dugout and I was the only one (with Angels gear on) standing there with my glove held high. I nodded to him and he tossed me the ball. At first it seemed like he was throwing it to someone behind me. But later I confirmed with my buddy Josh that there wasn’t anyone around me within twenty feet. The ball was all mine. I felt pretty good about that and I also felt pretty good at getting Scott Downs to throw me the ball. He isn’t the most personable guy in the Major Leagues.

Later I scooped up Fernando Rodney’s autograph on my ticket stub and talked with Ervin Santana. Some fans were asking him if he was going to make the All-Star team this year and he just laughed. I think that’s why I enjoy these games that are early in the afternoon so much. There isn’t the chaotic-ness of batting practice and millions of people trying to catch a baseball. I can sort of sit back, relax, and soak up the atmosphere at the stadium and usually get one on one with some of the more outgoing players.

After all that went down it was rather difficult to get another baseball let alone stay down in the lower box level. Security turned on their nazi-mode and started checking tickets. I was told to take some “quick pictures” and return to my seat by one guard. I blew him off though and kept taking pictures. It’s interesting to see just how far I can push these guys before they start getting tough. Normally they just ask a second time and 9 times out of 10 people comply.

One thing that was pretty awesome at the game was that some old dude brought a bag full of Hank Conger bobbleheads from when he was in the minor leagues. He gave the entire bag to Hank and he took them into the dugout to sign them I guess.

Above is a picture of Hank Conger sticking his head up while fans requested his autograph. He was very polite and pretty much obliged everyones’ request. I thought that was pretty awesome of him.

The Mariners won in walk-off fashion too. Carlos Peguero hit a deep fly ball to outfielder Torii Hunter in the bottom of the ninth inning with runners on, and Hunter ended up losing the battle with the sun, lost the ball, and didn’t catch it. It was sort of ironic because I was talking to Josh about how I love extra inning games and the Mariners have had only one extra inning game this year.

Game; May 19th 2011 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; One

Attendance; 18,374

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $30.80 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $13.00 this season

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