June 2011

6-26-2011 Safeco Field

I landed in Seattle at 12:42pm. Last week I had the impression that the Mariners game versus the Florida Marlins on Sunday was going to be starting at 1:10pm. I could at least get to the game before first pitch. Well, two days ago while I was checking upcoming games on my fancy iPhone, I noticed that the Mariners game had a start time of 7:05pm. So what did I do? I got my bags, jumped in a shuttle, arrived at my car, drove home, showered, ate, grabbed my baseball stuff and headed to Safeco Field. I was literally running on three hours of sleep. For some reason I couldn’t fall asleep on the airplane during the last leg towards Seattle. So I was exhausted. And I probably wouldn’t stay the entire game but I at least wanted to attend batting practice.

When I arrived at the stadium the Seattle Sounders soccer game had just let out. 35,000 people came pouring out of Qwest field.

 

Not a bad crowd for soccer in the Pacific Northwest. When the gates opened at 4:40pm I ran inside to finish this weekend off of baseball. Spending two days at PETCO Park, and now one day at Safeco Field. I really did miss Safeco Field. So it felt pretty good to be back inside. I waited around on the party porch for a few minutes and then I decided to stand in yet another line at the stairs. I have been standing in lines all weekend. I believe I have patience of steel by now. Since the Mariners were batting I didn’t really think anything would come my way. I think it was Justin Smoak that was launching home runs into the bullpen. But they weren’t close enough to reach with a glove trick and I didn’t want to risk getting caught. But I did notice one baseball that was within reach on further examination.

This is the picture I took after I glove tricked it out of the bullpen…

…but as you can see…there were more to get. Just way too far. Here’s how I snagged the one closest to me though. The security guard that was at the stairs was new. She told me this by me asking what time the stairs opened up, (of course I already knew this) and she told me she “thought” it was around 5:00pm. I also noticed that she would move the barricade every time someone came down the stairs and then turn her back to the bullpen to take her place back at her position. So I stood by the baseball in the bullpen and waited. Once someone came down the stairs, (I already had my glove trick ready) and she moved the barricade, then turned her back to me, that’s when I lowered my glove into the bullpen. It took me like, five seconds to snag the ball. I love those little games of cat and mouse with the security guards.

When the stairs opened up I had a little girl and her mother try to box me out. I thought that was cute since when we all got to the top of the stairs I was obviously much faster than a 12-year-old girl and her mother loaded down with bags full of stuff. Although since I was so tired I really didn’t make much effort to get down into the seats to look for baseballs. I just took up my favorite spot on the third base line and waited. I even sat down for most of batting practice. Before the Mariners ran off the field, Chone Figgins started to take some final cuts in the cage. And some of the Mariner standing in left field whistled to him to hit some baseballs their way. He hit one soft roller towards me and it was probably the easiest snag of my life. I lined up with it quickly, boxed anyone out that may be would-be ball snaggers and scooped it up quickly for my second baseball on the day.

The above picture shows the Marlins getting ready to come out onto the field, and Chone Figgins in the cage. I didn’t stick around on the third base line much longer. I wanted to snag four baseballs though and I figured my best luck would be in left field. Mike Stanton would certainly drive some Stanton Specials that way. So I made my way up to the left field seats. Lots of baseballs came my way but none with in immediate snagging range. Some even landed in the bullpen. Like this one…

Can you find it?

 

Too far for the glove trick and just out of view for a player toss-up. Usually the cops that patrol the bullpen scoop them up and toss them to any kid nearby anyway. So to get that baseball would be nearly impossible. Unless of course a Marlin player saw it and I asked for it. But since no Marlin players came into the bullpen during BP I couldn’t ask for it.

Towards the end of batting practice I made my way down to the visitors dugout. I stood there for probably ten to fifteen minutes waiting for the Marlins to walk off the field. I tried my hardest to get my third ball of the day but it didn’t happen. Too many kids, and just not enough energy on my part to make it happen. So I concluded the day with two baseballs and the weekend with four.

Nice haul.

I am also very happy to announce that someone, although anonymous, donated $25.00 dollars to my charity for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. So whoever you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart. That was very generous of you. And thank you to everyone else that has helped out so far. As you can see we have raised quite a bit of money this year. $133.85 for the Seattle Humane Society of Seattle-King Co. and $34.90 for the Red Cross. It’s all appreciated. I’m hoping to break 100 baseballs this season, and 200 lifetime.

Game; June 26th 2011 Florida Marlins vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; two

Attendance; 10,925

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $133.85 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $34.90 this
season

6-25-2011 PETCO Park

Another glorious lunch at the Tin Fish to start things off right before I headed to PETCO Park for the second time this weekend. I simply have fallen in love with this ballpark. Do you want to know what else is so fascinating about PETCO Park? Not only is the ballpark so uniquely designed, but it is so fan friendly it will blow your mind. Do you know what they do on Sundays? They have whats called, “Breakfast at the Park”. They do this every Sunday home game. The game starts at usual time, and you can eat breakfast on the field WITH the players. You can also play catch with friends, and family members and sometimes with the players! The Padres come out onto the field while you eat breakfast and do their thing while you eat! No, there is no live batting practice going on but that is still very cool! I don’t know the specifics about how much it costs or what tickets you have to buy to get to do this but it sounds like so much fun! I wanted to call the airport at that very moment when I found out about this and push my flight back. Then I wanted to push my flight back another three days when I found out the Kansas City Royals were coming to town. Why couldn’t I be born in San Diego?

When I arrived at the ballpark I had about three hours to kill. What is also awesome about PETCO Park is they have what’s called “Park in the Park”. They open the outside gates to the stadium hours before game time to let fans roam around the grassy hill I took a picture of yesterday and to let the kids play in the mini baseball field. About two hours before game time they kick everyone out though. So you have to get there kind of early to experience this. Today I was on a mission. I wanted to find the PETA brick. Remember at the end of yesterdays blog entry I mentioned a PETCO Park fun fact? If you missed it, click here. Anyway. PETA, of course, hates PETCO. They mainly accuse them of selling puppies from puppy mills. How true is any of that is? Well, how should I know? I’m not a supporter of puppy mills and I certainly don’t think any stadium should be named “PETCO” but hey, it is what it is. And a silly name for a baseball stadium isn’t going to stop me from visiting. Just look at the Oakland Coliseum. They renamed that to Overstock.com Coliseum. How silly is that? But I’m still going back. The bottom line is; if you got some serious cash you can put whatever name you want on any type of architecture structure.

My mission was to find the PETA brick. I searched all the bricks in the palm grove and didn’t find it. After about two hours of looking a security guard came up to me and asked if I had found the brick I was looking for. I told him I was searching for the PETA brick and he laughed. It seemed no one knew where this brick was but everyone knows about it. I was also informed that there were more bricks over by the Tony Gwynn statue. So I went searching over there. Nothing. By then it was time for everyone to get out. Boo! I guess I’ll never find that brick.

Here are a few pictures I took while I was inside during the Park at the Park experience.

As I waited outside the stadium I noticed a large gathering across the street. And anytime a cab rolled up to the curb the gathering pretty much mobbed whoever was inside. Just from my experience of going to as many games as I have I knew that these guys mobbing the cabs were autograph hounds. Most of the cabs pulled up to the curb and then drove off. The baseball players inside the cab probably told the drivers to find an alternative way into the stadium. The only thing I don’t like about these guys is they sometimes disregard their own safety to get an autograph. Like running out into traffic or in between stopped vehicles at red lights, stop signs, etc. It can get pretty obsessive and people can get hurt. Plus, there were a bunch of little kids running around in the street chasing down autographs as well. I did get a video of Jason Heyward getting out of the cab though. Check it out.

As you can see he didn’t stop to sign any autographs. No one was being overly pushy. But I guess it’s a little overwhelming to get out of a taxi cab and have a mob of people wanting things from you.

Once the first set of gates were opened to allow fans to get their fancy new Padres beach towel, I waited in front of these giant stairs to gain access to the third base area.

As I was standing there a family of five walked right passed me and started to head up those stairs. Security, of course, stopped them and explained that everyone had to wait until 3:30pm before anyone was allowed into the rest of the stadium. As I watched the whole thing another security guard started to explain to me that I wasn’t allowed up those stairs. I quickly interjected and explained I wasn’t going to go up those stairs. But he kept on nagging me about it. So I just let him say his little piece about how fans aren’t allowed into the rest of the stadium until 3:30pm. But we are allowed to roam the Park at the Park area. It was pure torture to hear him drone on about this and when he was finished I explained that I wasn’t going up the stairs and that I knew the rules of the ballpark. Ugh! It made me a little angry because I wasn’t even attempting to go anywhere. I knew what the blue barricades were for. But I understood that the security guards interact with a lot of dopey baseball fans that don’t quite know what’s going on.

Once 3:30pm came around, the security guards were of course late opening up the barricade in front of me. So I just went underneath it and ran up the stairs as fast as I could. Once I reached the third base area I immediately started my search for any loose baseballs and then promptly took my spot behind the security guard that was guarding that precious wide open space that no one was allowed to stand in.

Just then a baseball was hit in my direction. It landed on the warning track and took a sharp bounce over my head. I took a couple of steps back and leaped backwards to try to knock it down, and it ended up snow-coning on the tip of my glove. I still didn’t quite have a handle on it as I came back down to planet earth but I had enough of it that when I landed the ball dropped down into a seat. I felt the presence of another human being on my hip pocket so I stuck out an elbow to try to box out whoever was attempting to steal my baseball away from me. The ball didn’t quite make it onto the concrete but instead it stayed wedged in the folded up seat. I saw the man’s hand make an attempt to swipe at it if it were to go all the way through the seat but it didn’t and I easily picked it out of the folded up seat. That’s all I needed was one to feel accomplished for the day. PETCO Park was hard enough to snag baseballs because you can’t really run from the outfield to the base lines. So I pretty much just sat back and smiled at myself for at least snagging one per game at this beautiful ballpark. This game also marks 50 consecutive baseballs snagged at stadiums that are not considered my home stadium. So that made me feel good. If you don’t quite understand what I mean, it basically means any baseball stadium I travel to outside of Safeco Field I’ve snagged a baseball at.

I ran back and forth between the 3rd base area and the left field bleachers every time I thought I had a good glove trick opportunity. But like always the baseball that I was going after always seemed to get scooped up by a player or a grounds crew right before I got there. It was the story of my life. But I got in some great cardio and got yelled at half of a dozen times for running. I’m surprised I didn’t get kicked out. Eventually the security guards just threw their hands up at me and shook their heads as I ran by. But hey. It was my last game here and I didn’t know when I’d be back. So I gave it my all.

While I was standing out in left field Matt Latos was snagging some baseballs and fans repeatedly called to him. He did his best to ignore it until fans started to get angry with him. I’m not sure what was being said by the fan but Latos kept telling the dude to “relax” and to not get so “worked up over it.” Whatever that meant. I guess because Latos wasn’t throwing every single baseball he caught into the crowd? That would be my guess. He even said he was all for it; meaning he would love to supply every fan with a dozen baseballs, but it just wasn’t practical because they need the baseballs to practice with. And despite the Padres being worth a gazillion dollars, it does cost the team money to toss baseballs into the stands. I think I have something like, 180 baseballs. So if each baseball cost $15 dollars then I have $2,700 dollars worth of baseballs. That’s insane! If you want to play with numbers just go to www.mygameballs.com and calculate all the baseballs ever caught by everyone on the lifetime leaders board and times those numbers by $15.00 bucks a ball.

That’s the size of the crowd in the left field seats. Once the Atlanta Braves came out and it got closer to the end of BP the stands filled up a little bit more. The Braves were a little more giving when it came to toss ups but they didn’t target any fan. They just sorta tossed the baseballs to people over their backs or just lobbed high arching tosses to give everyone a chance at it.

The Braves absolutely killed the Padres. 10-1 was the final score. Dan Uggla busted out the big stick and jacked a three-run bomb to left centerfield. It was a pretty good game until the Braves ran away with it. A lot of fans got up and left when the Padres started to get buried. It really reminded me of Seattle. I couldn’t help to feel a little homesick. I missed my Mariners and I missed Safeco Field. So I too, packed up and left. Now I begin my short journey back to Seattle, Washington. It was a lot of fun, San Diego. Thank you.

Game; June 25th 2011 Atlanta Braves vs. San Diego Padres

Gameballs; One

Attendance; 38,060

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $98.85 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $34.10 this
season

6-24-2011 PETCO Park

I woke up this morning at 5:00am, had my bags already packed, loaded up my car and headed towards Sea-Tac international airport. My plane departed at 8:10am, and I was headed towards San Diego. Of course, I had a quick hour lay over in San Jose and I almost got to give up my seat to receieve $100 dollars and a travel voucher for a later flight. But I ended up not having to. Awesome.

When I arrived in San Diego I grabbed my bags and jumped into a “super shuttle”. While I was enroute to my hotel I overheard other passengers talking about some sort of convention downtown. At that very moment I knew I should have made reservations somewhere. When I heard there were going to be around 20,000 people attending this convention downtown I knew I really should have made reservations to a hotel somewhere. I normally don’t but I learned a very valuable lesson today. No matter what, always make reservations. When I arrived at my hotel I wanted to stay at they told me they didn’t have any rooms. No problem. It was only 1:30pm. I still had roughly four hours to get to the stadium. I asked the desk clerk where the nearest hotel was from here, and she told me there was one about seven blocks up the road. Downtown San Diego is easy to navigate so I hoofed it those seven blocks and arrived at the next hotel. No vacancy. Now I was worried. I wasn’t worried I wouldn’t make it to the game on time. Now I was worried that I flew all the way to San Diego California and would have to sleep on the streets somewhere. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But the desk clerk made some phone calls, called me a cab and got me a room at the EZ-8 motel just outside of San Diego. I had to take a smoking room, but at $61 dollars a night, plus military discount, I didn’t have a problem taking that. The only downside is that I would have to take a cab to PETCO Park. I had the cab driver wait on me while I changed into my baseball clothes. I grabbed my bag and $40 dollars later I arrived at PETCO Park!

What an awkwardly built stadium. Seriously. This place has more nooks and crannies than any stadium I’ve ever seen. And its not round on the outside! Its like, octagon-ish. It really is unique. I couldn’t wait to see the inside of it. But first I had to get something to eat. I talked to a nearby security guard about the best places to eat downtown and she told me to eat at the Tin Fish. So I seeked out the Tin Fish.

Here’s what I had to eat:

It’s just the generic fish and chips but it was so delicious. It was so fresh…and so filling. I couldn’t believe that this place had better food than Ivar’s fish and chips in Seattle.

If you’re ever in the San Diego area make sure you hit this place up if you’re into seafood. You won’t be sorry.

After I ate I headed back to the stadium and got my ticket for the game. It was pretty cheap and there were plenty of options to where I could sit. I decided to sit in the outfield. It looked pretty promising for a home run ball and I liked that idea. Here’s the area to purchase tickets:

After I got my ticket I wandered around looking for the left field entrance. I figured that would be the fastest way into the stadium. I talked to the nearby security guard that I had talked to earlier that referred me to the Tin Fish and she explained to me that the left field gates open up at 4:30pm. But fans are only limited to a certain area. It’s kind of like Coors Field and Safeco Field but from where I stood I couldn’t see the field. I had to wait here until 5:00pm:

The only thing between me and baseball paradise was that stupid little blue barricade. As I was standing there some other much older fan walked up and started giving the security guard a hard time about having to wait until 5:00pm to get to enter the rest of the stadium. I understood his point because I share the same frustrations but harassing the security guard about it is rather pointless. Just about every stadium I’ve been to has silly rules. Here’s another one. When 5:00pm came around I ran up the stairs and I immediatly ended up in the left field seats. There were already some fans lingering around, (obviously another part of the stadium opened up seconds sooner) so any loose baseballs laying around were probably already scooped up. I didn’t bother to really look for any. I focused on finding a good spot to snag baseballs. I called out to a few Padre players but I was ignored. I played the left field seats for about fifteen minutes and decided to play the third base foul area. Here comes another silly rule I mentioned before.

To get to the third base side I had to exit the left field section the way I came and then take a giant set of stairs up and around the stadium. It’s really a pain. Anyway. Here’s a picture of the area I stood in:

See the guy wearing the white shirt sitting down? Notice that he’s sitting? Also note the huge wide open space behind him? The security guards won’t let anyone stand in that open area. And if you want to be in the front row you have to sit down. I’m really not sure why those rules are in place. Another silly rule they have is if you want to be in the front row along the base lines during batting practice you have to stay seated. If a baseball comes your way of course you may react and try to catch it. But then you must exit out of that open space. I have the feeling that the people making those rules are an older group and think that fans can’t handle themselves in those areas. Or maybe people have gotten hurt too many times down there. In either case, I’ve been in plenty of stadiums, played those areas and I’m still alive to tell about it. In fact while I was standing there a foul ball came my way. I tried to play it on the bounce but the two security guards, (one pictured in the above photo) were in my way. The ball bounced on the dirt on the field, and then bounced into the stands. It took a few hops but eventually ended up back on the field by bouncing off a seat or two. The next baseball landed at my feet and I easily scooped it up. That was the only baseball I got during batting practice. I tried to use my glove trick on mutliple baseballs but like I said. Running from 3rd base to left field bleachers took a lot of time. By the time I got to the left field seats to use my glove trick the baseballs were scooped up by players or ground crew. And by the time I got back over to the third base side the same thing happened. I did get to use my glove trick to help some kid get his baseball back that he dropped onto the field.

I also made sure to tell Tim Hudson I thought his home run was awesome. He thanked me.

After batting practice I set out to explore PETCO Park. It’s such an awesome stadium and there is literally tons of other things to do besides watch an actual baseball game there. Like you can take your kids to a smaller version of PETCO Park and play a game of baseball:

The kids seemed to be having a lot of fun and I talked to a few parents that have come to PETCO Park before and they said they couldn’t ever get their kids away from this area. They simply love to come to PETCO Park just for this! Can you believe that? The good thing about this area is, it only cost $5 dollars to get in. You don’t actually get a ticket to watch the game in an assigned seat inside the stadium, but you can sit here and see the game just fine:

Its a huge grassy hill that families can lay all over and watch the game. How awesome is that? And if you get there earlier enough you can listen to live music!

They sang a few Michael Jackson tunes. And see that big screen behind them? You can come to PETCO Park, pay $5 bucks, sit on the grassy hill with your family or your friends and watch San Diego Padres road games! What other stadium offers that? None that I can think of! Aside from the huge difficulty of snagging baseballs I absolutely love this stadium. It’s one of my favorites so far.

Here is a picture of a seating area for groups only. It’s such an awesome place to sit because its right behind the Padres bullpen. How cool is this?

As far as the game was concerned the Padres blew out the Braves, 11-2. Dan Uggla lost his bat into the crowd in the 2nd inning, (no one was hurt) and there were two home runs during the game. Neither of them were remotely close to where I was sitting. I had right field seats and this was my view:

 

They were really good seats and I had the jump on an home run ball that came my way. I was seated right on the end right by the stairs. I had access to my right and to my left. Totally awesome. But no one hit anything towards me. There was one guy that dressed up like the Padres mascot that was dancing, and chanting…he had a whole routine down plus he had some followers. In the photo above the guy in the Gonzales jersey was part of his entourage. Here’s a picture of him:

He was very entertaining to watch. So I snapped a photo with him. Check it out:

The guy was absolutely hilarious. You have to understand something about PETCO Park. And this might help explain why the stadium was so awkwardly constructed. PETCO Park was built in a part of town that was really poor and run down. They put the stadium here to help promote the city and to make the area into more of a positive approach for families. So there are a few building that they tried to save and like, drop the stadium inbetween some of them like a puzzle piece. One building that just about everyone is familiar with is this one:

They turned this vacant building into suites for fans. Beyond that is a building that distributed candy. I forget the name of it but the history of the stadium is very interesting. They tried to salvage as many old buildings as they could. The candy building is currently vacant but the security guard told me they have plans to make it into something useful. Here are some pictures I took of a more before and after.

I haven’t really decided if I’m going to go back for another game or enjoy San Diego. There is so much to do in this town, and I’d hate to miss out on the fun stuff. Like the beach. Anyway. Aside from some of the quirky rules, the long walks between the base lines and the outfield sections, I think this stadium is pretty awesome. I like the fact that when you walk up on it you see this huge sign that says PETCO Park. And all the palm trees around it. It doesn’t seem like its in a big city but outside alone in it’s own world.

Here’s a fun PETCO Park fact: During the construction of the stadium, the Padres offered fans the chance to purchase bricks outside of the concourse and to dedicate them.

Soon after this, PETA attempted to purchase a brick to protest Petco’s treatment of animals (PETA and Petco have a long-standing dispute over this matter), but the first two attempts were denied. Undeterred, PETA succeeded on its third attempt by purchasing a brick which read “Break Open Your Cold Ones Toast The Padres Enjoy This Champion Organization.” When one reads the first letter of each word, it forms an acrostic which reads “BOYCOTT PETCO.” The Padres decided to leave the brick there, saying not enough people walking by would notice the secret meaning. I have yet to find this brick. I’ve asked a few PETCO Park employees but they don’t know anything about it. Figures.

 

Game; June 24th 2011 Atlanta Braves vs. San Diego Padres

Gameballs; One

Attendance; 27,227

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $98.00 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.75 this
season

6-18-2011 Safeco Field

After surviving yesterday I figured I’d come back for more. I actually didn’t have a ticket for this game but yesterday while I was waiting on friends to arrive I was complaining about how I didn’t have a ticket to Saturday’s game and I also mentioned my charity. If you want to read about my charity all you have to do is click here. Anyway. So as I was complaining a nice guy at the front of the line told me he is a season ticket holder, and he had an extra ticket for tomorrows game. I quickly asked him what he wanted for it and we agreed on $20 dollars. That’s a bargain price considering it was a premium game and all the cheap seats were sold out. Without hesitation I took the deal.

Twenty minutes before the gates opened this is the size of the crowd.

Once inside, everyone of course, was crammed onto the party deck. Toss-ups were out of the question so I immediatly left and took my spot at the stairs near the bullpen and patiently waited another 20 minutes to be allowed into the rest of the stadium. The only highlight I have to report is that Brandon League tried to hook up a fan that was calling for a baseball but missed it. I don’t know how he missed it. It was thrown right to him. If it weren’t for the huge hoards of people trying to inch their way passed everyone in line I would have stepped out of line and made the catch. But instead the guy wiffed it, and the ball ended up hitting some little girl in the side that was in front of me. She, of course, started crying. I’m not sure she was actually hurt or it just caught her off guard. And then all of a sudden some lady standing by said, “You know what? She should get that baseball.” I have mixed feelings about these kinds of situations. That’s all I’m going to say.

5:10pm. The stairs were opened up and it was a rat race for the best spot in the stadium to catch a baseball. I knew standing on the baselines wasn’t going to work for me. Even if a foul ball was hit directly to me it would be hard to catch because so many hands, kids, gloves and whatever else would be going for it. So I wandered the rows for a little while looking for any overlooked baseballs, and then I took a comfy spot behind the manual scoreboard. If anything, I’d be able to glove trick a baseball out of there if someone were to drop a toss-up or boot a catch. And it wasn’t long before that happened. A baseball came in and a fan reached out to make the catch and dropped it. Unfortunatly, the baseball landed here.

Sorry for the blurriness. That baseball was nearly impossible to get. But I did have a backup plan to get it. I’d just wait until the scorekeeper came out and I’d ask them for it. I could have tried to get it but I didn’t want to risk it falling down underneath the scoreboard. Where the ball is sitting there is a small gap where the baseballs can fit and they fall down onto some walkway.

As I was taking pictures and trying to formulate a plan to get that baseball I looked further down behind the scoreboard and I spotted another baseball. It wasn’t there before. Someone must have dropped it. I assembled my glove trick, and then arrogantly asked any other fans if they were going to attempt to get the baseball. Everyone sort of laughed, and I shrugged my shoulders and asked a fan near me if he minded that I tried. He laughed again, and asked, “Will you get kicked out if you jump down there?” It was my turn to laugh…

The baseball was positioned right at the end of that long board laying on the floor. If you didn’t read about my glove trick incident at my last game attended, you should. Click here. Today I had a new and improved glove trick. No more of this easily breakable shoe string. I had boidegradable twine! Yes folks. That’s right. Twine. It doesn’t bind up, he doesn’t knot up, and it’s strong as an ox!

Once the Phillies came onto the field I tried really hard to get Cliff Lee to toss me a baseball. Unfortunatly, when he did, a crowd of teenaged kids were in front of me and when the baseball came close enough for me to catch it, it was easily deflected off of someones’ glove. The ball fell down into the bullpen where a cop scooped it up and tossed it to the nearest kid. Boo! And remember the baseball that was sitting behind the scoreboard? Yeah, it was still there. But now I had competition. A young kid came down to wait on the ball too. Fortunatly for him, he had tickets to be seated in the left field bleachers. I didn’t. So as soon as BP ended the security guards began their search to find people without tickets that were sitting in their sections. I had limited time. And then I finally gave up on the ball. The left field seats filled up fast, I was without a ticket, and securiy was extra tight. So I let the kid have the ball. I’m not sure if he got it or not but as I left the area five minutes before the game I saw the scorekeeper behind the scoreboard. Here’s a picture of the kid waiting on the ball. Kudos to him for having patience of steel.

And here is a picture of how crowded the ‘Pen area got.

The game was awesome though. Even though the Mariners lost 5-1, Dustin Ackley hit his first Major League home run. Which was pretty cool to see. So congratulations to Dustin on his first career jack. I also saw him hit his first Major League hit the day prior.

Game; June 18th 2011 Philadelphia Phillies vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; One

Attendance; 35,829

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $97.15 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.40 this
season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6-17-2011 Safeco Field

Inter-league play. Always my favorite time of the year during baseball season. NOT. I’ve never been a fan of inter-league play. For a bunch of reasons. But for baseball it’s probably something that will never go away. Now they’re talking about moving divisions around, making the playoffs longer and all this other hoopla. Truth of the matter is, it’s all about money. Did you know that this weekend alone brought out 1.6 million fans across baseball to watch inter-league baseball? Crazy, huh? Some series I’d love to see though. Like the Subway series, the Battle of the Bay (which I’ve already seen this year) and the I-70 series. Other than that? I really don’t care to see the Indians play the Astros. It’s not something I have my heart set on.

This morning I had a photo-shoot with a guy from the Snohomish Tribune. I had to take all of my 170 plus baseballs down to my old high school and have me and them photographed together on the baseball field. It was kind of cool because that’s the very same field Adam Eaton played on in high school. He graduated in 1996 from Snohomish High school, which was my sophomore year. If you aren’t familiar with who Adam Eaton is well I will tell you. He graduated Snohomish High school in 97` posting an 0.67 ERA for the team and went on to play college ball for the University of Washington. He was drafted by the Phillies in the 96` draft but ended up making his Major League debut for the San Diego Padres, May 30th 2000. He played with them until the 2005 season when he was traded to the Texas Rangers. From there he bounced to the Phillies, Orioles, and the Rockies before finally becoming a free agent. A lot of Phillies fan speculate that Eaton almost cost them the World Series in 2008 and didn’t deserve a World Series ring.

Here are a few pictures of Doug trying to figure out a good shot for all my baseballs.

And here is Doug trying to set up all of my baseballs for a good picture. He was explaining how he wanted to leave all the baseballs in the original pyramid formation but block out the yellow box lid and the other brown colored box lid.

…and here’s a picture of him setting up my special baseballs. You know, like the one I caught from Mark McGwire, my 100th lifetime and my first ever baseball.

 

I don’t know if I’ll keep my Mark McGwire ball in the cube like that forever. Eventually, as I collect more baseballs from iconic players I may just put them in a special box or a multiple baseball holder and label each ball with the specific players that either hit it or tossed it to me. In any case I doubt I will ever get another baseball from Mark McGwire ever again. And I surely won’t ever get one hit to me by him. So it makes it very special that I got one from him. And if you want to read about how I got one from Big Mac you can just click right here.

After the photo-shoot was complete, I loaded all my baseballs up in my car, jetted home, unloaded all of my baseballs back upstairs, grabbed my stuff, and chased off towards Safeco Field. Since the Phillies were in town for inter-league play I had to get to the stadium early. Plus it was Ichiro replica jersey giveaway night. So the stadium was going to be packed. I was also waiting on my buddy Josh and his small entourage to arrive with the tickets. The gates opened up at 4:40pm and they arrived at 4:38pm. Moments to spare. (I truly appreciate the hustle, Josh!) Once I got my ticket, got my bag checked by security, I raced inside to the center field party deck. The place filled up so fast. Before I knew it I was elbow to elbow with hundreds of people. And to make matters worse David Aardsma tossed some dude a baseball, it bounced out of his hands, smacked off his face, bounced off the shoulder of his wife, and landed down in the gap behind the centerfield wall. Now I had to compete for a spot to get that baseball. I probably excused myself a hundred times trying to get in line with it to glove trick it out of there. Once I found it I got my glove ready, and started to lower it down. Just then…my string broke. My glove fell helplessly into the gap. “Now what?” Said a voice.

I found the nearest security guard and told him I had dropped my baseball glove into the gap. He told me he couldn’t help me right now because he was too busy guarding his post. I’d have to wait. And I did wait. Even though the outside temperature was only 71 degrees, it felt like I was roasting under a desert sun. I was literally stressed out. I wanted to just forget my glove and go home. But I’ve had that glove since I was like, 16. And I still had a chance to get that baseball. After 25 minutes of standing there, and making minimal, pathetic attends to get a baseball players attention to toss me a baseball, I caught up with a security guard that was way more friendlier and way better looking too. Her name is Kim, and she is always so helpful and nice at the stadium. I told her my problem but I added that I was trying to get an autograph and I dropped my glove, my ball, and my sharpie into the gap. She immediately started towards the gate to help me but her supervisor, Melinda,(an equally nice security guard) cut her off and told her she had to go guard something else. I then had to explain my problem to Melinda. And she was equally compassionate and understanding. So can you guess what happened next?

Isn’t that the best picture ever? That’s not the actual baseball from the gap. That is a baseball I brought from home for good luck. And in case you’re still waiting on official confirmation that I got the baseball from the gap, yes. I did get it. Melinda brought it up for me. I couldn’t thank her enough.

I was finally able to assist my buddy Josh in the left field bleachers but he pretty much had things under control. I was just hanging around in case he missed one, plus he’s great conversation. We jib-jab about baseball, and who we think will make the playoffs…you know, guy talk. Josh reeled in four baseballs in this one spot in the bleachers, and got Jaime Navarro to toss him his fifth.

That’s Josh waiting for another BP home run. If you want to check out his stats on www.mygameballs.com just click here. He’s a really cool guy and we got kind of ran out of that spot earlier than we wanted because after Josh had snagged number four a lot of kids started asking him to stand there.

Like I said. The stadium was absolutely crowded. Full to the brim. No where to stand and nowhere to really run for anything. Here are a couple of pictures to show you just how crowded it got.

 

The front rows were packed. There was no breaking in to get close enough for a toss-up so I just chalked it up as a loss and let inter-league play win this round. I felt that coming away with one baseball was pretty significant especially considering I lost valuable time when I dropped my glove in the gap. Here’s the severity of that incident too. You see…while I was standing there dinking around with security…another 35,000 people entered the baseball stadium in that time frame.

Batting practice ended and the only thing left to do was to get close enough to Kyle Kendrick to get some pictures. He had a ton of family at the ballpark, (he’s from Mount Vernon, WA) so everyone was trying to see him, and he was doing his best to obligue everyones’ requests for autographs and pictures. I helped out Josh get his picture with Kendrick and that was pretty much the end of all the excitement.

My seats were awesome. Right on the aisle in foul ball territory. Josh’s girlfriend, Ginny has a friend that hooked us all up with these great seats from her work. And sitting here nearly paid off too. It was around the 5th inning when a foul ball was hit our direction. I stood up, made my way down the aisle carefully, and moved into position to catch the ball. I was worried that it was going to hit the cable that strung along above us to help support the screen behind home plate so I adjusted a few feet to my right. Unfortunatly, the beer vendor was ducking for cover right where I needed to be. The ball landed two seats in and I was on the other side of the beer vendor. Had he not of been there? Easy catch.

 

Game; June 17th 2011 Philadelphia Phillies vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; One

Attendance; 34,345

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $95.45 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $33.10 this
season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6-15-2011 Safeco Field

Today was going to be a busy day. I had an interview with the Snohomish Tribune  at like, 4pm today, Zack Hample was still in town, and I wanted to get to the stadium kind of early to talk to him. Plus I was waiting on a very important phone call from someone that was going to set up a time to photograph my baseball collection for the newspaper. Oh, and then I had to snag a bunch of baseballs. The good thing was, I had on my lucky socks. So I knew everything was going to be okay. The phone rang about 4:15pm but I was totally fine with that because the crowd to get in the stadium was light, and for the first thirty minutes of batting practice I really didn’t expect much. Although, I’m setting a new goal for myself. I’d like to reach 200 baseballs before the All-Star game. I literally have about 7 games to do that in. The Mariners go on the road after they play the Phillies, and that following weekend I’ll be in San Diego for two games at PETCO Park, and then the Mariners come home to face the Marlins, Braves and Padres for three games a piece and then hit the road again. The problem with that is, its all inter-league baseball. Safeco will most likely be jam packed. Bad for snagging baseballs.

Anyway. Back to the interview. I talked with the reporter from the Snohomish Tribune for a good twenty minutes. It was a really awesome interview and I was pleased with my answers. I didn’t want it to sound like the only reason I come to baseball games is to snag baseballs, but that’s partly true. I do sit and enjoy the game though. Sometimes. A lot of the times I’m looking for that opportunity to catch a home run ball. But yeah. I do enjoy the game. I love baseball. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t go to the games. The phone interview didn’t last much longer because we got disconnected. Perfect timing anyway because the gates opened up at that very moment. I ran in to the center field standing room only but I was still trying to get a hold of the Snohomish Tribune to finish the interview. Later I receieved a voicemail with the final question and they graciously gave me the option to just hit them back on email. Awesome.

Greg Halman was the first to toss up a baseball. And I was trying to get Jason Vargas to toss me another one like yesterday. But instead I got the attention of a security guard.

…and I was on the board with one baseball just like that. I don’t know why he singled me out but I made sure he heard me thanking him. There are probably two very awesome security guards in Safeco Field and he is one of them. Most security guards are very bias when it comes to giving baseballs away. And the right field guards that sweep through the rows during BP acting like they’re wiping down seats pick up any loose baseballs and put them in their pockets. I watched it happen twice yesterday. But then some security guards will tell you that they aren’t allowed to touch the baseballs at all. “Just leave `em where they lie.” I overheard one guard say. I guess the rules are different throughout the stadium.

I stood at the staircase for ten minutes answering trivia questions from the security guard that was standing there. He’s a really nice guy and I’ve told him all about my charity. I even hooked him up with a business card. Have you seen my business card yet?

…how could you not want that? Its true beauty. The trivia questions really made me think. The first one he asked was when Major League Baseball registered all the players names by alphabetical order, who is the first baseball player on the list? I guessed Hank Aaron. It was David Aardsma.

Question two: What player was the first to ever sign a million dollar contract? I didn’t have an answer. The answer was Nolan Ryan. He signed a $1 million dollar contract in 1979.

Question three: What former Mariner drove in 141 runs in 1996? I said Omar Vizquel. The answer was Alex Rodriguez.

And the last question: In 2004, Ichiro broke who’s all time hit record? I said George Sisler. And that earned me a Tino Martinez baseball card. He had two of them and I didn’t want to take the Griffey cards because not only did I already have those but I wanted to make sure to let other fans get the good ones.

5:10pm. “Safeco Field is now open!” That’s what can be heard over the loudspeaker when all the other gates open up at 5:10pm. I used to stand at the right field gates like a dummy waiting for the gates to open. But an extra 30 minutes of BP by entering the center field gates? How could you NOT? I found two baseballs in the empty rows as I ran down in the third base area. I picked one up and when I found the second one I noticed a young Mariner fan walking slowly through the rows trying to find a baseball. I nodded to him and then pointed at my feet. Just then I remembered I needed to get the ball in my possession to make it count so I picked it up and handed it to the kid. That was number three on the day. I wanted to average four baseballs a game which would put me two passed #200 on the last game before the All-Star game. At this point I needed just one more.

BP was absolutely dead again today. Jared Weaver was the only Angels player to stay long enough for me to even have a shot at catching my fourth ball on the day. But this family with two little kids rolled up next to me. Even after I got Scott Downs to toss me one, it fell short and the Dad made sure to block me out. He gave it to his kid and then kept on about how he needed to catch one more baseball for his other kid. And if that didn’t happen then they could just go home and play with the dozen of baseballs they have at the house. And wouldn’t you know? When Jared Weaver got done playing catch he tossed his warm-up ball to them.

After that I really didn’t have a game plan. There weren’t any good spots that were close enough to any players to ask for a toss up. So I just wandered into the left field bleachers for a while. Here’s what I saw.

Can you see it?

But it was way out of reach. Zack, the book author I’ve been telling you about for like, two days, tried to use his crutches to get the baseball. But apparently there is a small gap where the baseballs can slip through and fall underneath the manual scoreboard. I don’t know where exactly they go, but they go somewhere. And not within reach anymore. That’s for sure. So after hanging out there for about 15 minutes asking for baseballs, and waiting on a BP home run, I ran down to the dugout to wait for some action there.

I thought I could get Tom Gregorio to toss me one but he wasn’t throwing BP today.

When BP finally ended I got the attention of Mike Butcher, and he hooked me up with my fourth ball of the day. Mission accomplished.

Here is the group of Ballhawks after our successful BP session. I’m pictured with three baseballs because I gave one away. From left to right; Max, Ben, me, Zack, Luke, and Hannah. Luke and Hannah are Max’s brother and sister and Ben is a friend of Max. They all have user names on www.mygameballs.com. If you haven’t checked out that website you should. Plus I just got an article published on there. I’m a monthly columnist. If you want to read my article you can click here.

I sat front row during the game and they were pretty awesome seats. I don’t normally buy seats that expensive or that close to the field because I’m going for a home run ball this year but I wanted to try my luck during the game for foul balls. Unfortunatly, nothing was hit my way. But I did witness Ichiro Suzuki swiping his 400th career stolen base and Mariners rookie Greg Halman went deep for the first time in his career. So it was a really memorable game. And to top it off? The Mariners won. Carlos Peguero hit a grounder that bounced off second base that scored two runs. Then of course the Halman bomb made it 3-1. Great game.

Game; June 15th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Rockies

Gameballs; Four

Attendance; 19,321

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $80.05 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $29.25 this
season

6-14-2011 Safeco Field

This is the crowd 20 minutes before the gates opened at Safeco Field today.

That’s Josh standing up and I’m sitting against the wall by my blue backpack. After the gates opened up maybe 15 more people filed in after us. And it didn’t take long for the whole ‘Pen area to fill up. But not to like, full capacity or anything. But that’s the normal crowd here at Safeco Field. Here’s me wearing my favorite shirt.

The whole story on Barry Bonds and his steroids issue might be old news. But this shirt always gets me plenty of attention at the ballpark. And I love it. I always have people coming up to me asking me where I got it and how cool it is. I have two other ‘Roids shirts too. But one of them is kind of small so I don’t like wearing it that often. Once we got inside it was pretty dead. I somehow got Jason Vargas to look at me by constantly waving at him. And finally it paid off. He launched a high, arching throw in my direction and I had to take a couple of steps back to get in line with the baseball. And even then it still carried further back. I was worried that I might run out of room on the tiny centerfield standing room only platform and the baseball would tip-off my glove and end up in the clutches of an evil security guard. But no such thing happened. At the last moment I kind of bunny hopped to make the catch.

Jason Vargas is standing by the Keybank sign on the outfield wall. That’s how far he threw the ball to me. I was actually pretty impressed with the throw and how well he got it to me. I’m not saying Vargas is a bad pitcher I’m just saying that’s quite a distance to throw and to hit your mark on top of that? Nicely done.

Soon after one of the Mariners hitters started dropping bombs on us. Well, not entirely. They barely reached the warning track and one baseball bounced up into the crowd, hit a dude in the chest and dropped down into the gap behind the wall. I was trying to play the bounce hoping it would go over everyone’s head and land in my glove. But the gap won this round. And being that Zack Hample was in the area, the baseball didn’t stay in the gap for long. Here is a video of how he retreieved it.

 

 

It’s a fairly simple trick to accomplish for baseballs that trickle down into gaps behind walls at stadiums. All you do is stretch a rubber band over the tip of your glove, prop the glove open with a pen or something, have some string already tied onto the glove, and lower it down over the baseball. The rubber band will stretch over the baseball and there you have it! Reel up your baseball glove and you’ll have a baseball! Not only that but fans around you will more than likely have never seen that and will applaud your efforts. It’s worth a shot.

Once the rest of the stadium opened up I ran down into the third base area and scooped up my second baseball of the day in one of the empty rows. Batting practice was pretty dead. Nothing was really hit into foul territory and I was starting to lose interest in my position. So I ran up into the left field bleachers to see if I could get one of the Angels to throw me a baseball.

That was the scene on the field from foul territory. I’m telling you. It was dead. The Angels seemed to ignore all the fans and the hitters in the cage were just hitting lazy fly balls to center field. Boo!

Once I got up to the left field bleachers, Ervin Santana, Bobby Abreu and Dino Ebel came out onto the field. Dino Ebel was hitting some fungos to Abreu and Santana was kind of just shuffling around. There were a group of college kids to my right and Zack Hample was to my left. I was pretty much sandwhiched in the middle of competition. But I didn’t give up hope. In fact, I just let the college kids do all the work. They were desperatly calling out to Santana and Abreu for a baseball. And by the way. When a player is fielding fungos from a coach he isn’t going to toss up every ball he catches. He has to return that baseball to the coach so he can keep practicing. It got real annoying that these college kids kept calling out to Bobby Abreu everytime he caught one of the baseballs hit to him from Dino Ebel. Anyway. After about five minutes of them shouting, Ervin Santana reared back and launched a baseball in their direction. I just had a funny feeling these group of young men were going to miss the baseball. I slowly started to make my way over to them while the ball was in mid-air and as soon as it tipped-off all of their finger tips I ran in and scooped it up. The ball landed one row behind them and it didn’t go anywhere. I thought it was going to roll down the rows but it didn’t. And the five college kids standing there just kind of stared at each other. So I ended up with the ball.

BP ended and I got some photo opportunities with Zack. If you are now just following my blog and you don’t know who Zack Hample is you can read all about him from my previous blog entry of yesterdays game.

This guy is really awesome, and really easy to get along with. So if you’re ever out and about at a Major League game and you see some guy running around trying to catch baseballs or standing with people holding up a book, that’s probably him. Go say hi and see if he will help you catch a baseball.

This was my view during the game.

And this was my row. If any foul balls came remotely close to me they would be mine. Sadly, nothing came remotely close.

But I did get Peter Bourjos’ autograph AND a picture with one of my favorite Angels, Erick Aybar. Check it out.

During the 8th inning on my way to the dugout to snag more baseballs I passed up a kid with his dad that was kind of looking bummed out. I knew he was bummed about not getting a baseball, but he still had his glove on. I could tell he really wanted a baseball and since he was wearing the same Angel gear as me…

…I hooked him up. Thanks to his Dad for giving me a non-working email address so I couldn’t get the picture to him. Oh well. Maybe I’ll run into them at Angels Stadium or something. The Angels are coming back to Seattle in a month or two so maybe I’ll see them then. Anyway. It was awesome to hook that kid up with a baseball. His face instantly went from sad, and depressed to excited and happy. He thanked me like three times. So that felt good.

The Mariners lost 6-3 and I wasn’t able to get anything after the game. I quit trying the umpire tunnel just because I’ve been having absolutely no luck there. I feel it’s a wasted opportunity when there is so much going on at the dugouts after the game.

 

 

 

Game; June 14th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Rockies

Gameballs; Three

Attendance; 20,238

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $67.45 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $28.25 this
season

 

6-13-2011 Safeco Field

I was really looking forward to this game. For a couple of reasons; the Los Angeles Angels were in town for a three game series and I absolutely love to watch Bobby Abreu play baseball, and Zack Hample made the trip out from New York to come to Safeco Field. This is his tenth stadium he has visted this season. If you don’t know who Zack Hample or Bobby Abreu are then I will graciously enlighten you. Bobby Abreu is the Angels DH and left fielder. He is also a career .296 hitter with 277 home runs and a bunch of RBI’s. He’s also know for his plate discipline.

Zack Hample is the author of three books that I have read cover to cover. (One of them twice!) He wrote How to Snag Baseballs at  Major League Stadiums, Watching Baseball Smarter, and The Baseball. You don’t really need to buy his first book because the other two books have brief chapters of how to snag your own baseball at a game but the second two are a must buy. Watching Baseball Smarter is my favorite because it’s like Zack pulled the curtain back on Major League baseball games. Have you ever wondered what is said on the mound between the catcher and the pitcher? Or why all the infielders come in sometimes to catch the conversation between the catcher and the pitcher? And why does the umpire join them as well? Why does the base coaches never stand in the designated box that they’re supposed to stand in? Zack goes in depth of the who, what, whys and hows of the game and answers just about every question you’ve ever dreamt up. Its amazing. And his third book, The Baseball is basically about the eveolution of the baseball. How it came to be what it is today. He even made it inside the Rawlings factory. The media isn’t allowed there but somehow Zack Hample made it in.

That’s Zack Hample posing next to his infamous pyramid of baseballs. Pretty amazing, huh.

Those are his books. So check them out. They’re totally worth it. Even if you’re not a geeky baseball nut like me you should at least check them out so you’ll have a better understanding about the game.

So that’s why today’s game was going to be so awesome. My two favorite people under one …er..open or closed dome. (Safeco Field joke)

I arrived at the stadium around 1pm and I wandered for quite a bit. But on the centerfield side of the stadium you can peer into the stadium and kind of watch batting practice. I found it odd that the Angels, well some of them, were out hitting baseballs at 1pm. So I stuck around and watched. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if a baseball was hit to me while I was standing here outside the stadium?” And sure enough. I don’t know who hit it but it was launched and I watched it in the entire way. It smacked off the pavement and bounced in my direction. Unfortunatly, it clanged off some stair railings and then bounced off the brick wall beside me. Some Roots Sports guy was walking around and he almost got hit by the ball. I quickly perked up thinking I have a chance to get the ball from him. All I had to do was ask. And he hooked me up with it. Time check; 2:45pm. The gates were set to open at 4:40pm. Wow. I managed to get a baseball OUTSIDE the stadium nearly two hours before the gates opened.

In the picture above you can see the Root Sports guy yapping on his cellphone after he hooked me up with a baseball.

And here you can see the baseball as it kind of got stuck underneath the gate. It felt really good to snag that baseball and I actually hung around trying to find more. Usually the cardinal rule when it comes to baseball players and hitting BP home runs is that they get into a groove and launch maybe one or two more. But maybe this one was just extra special.

When Zack finally arrived at the stadium it was about 4:30pm. Since his leg is all busted up from spraining his ankle a couple of weeks ago, him, myself, Josh and his girlfriend were all permitted to enter the stadium via the handicap gate. I felt bad for Zack because he couldn’t move like he wanted to, and I could tell it was very frustrating. Plus the pain he must be in. But I give him his props because he is one dedicated dude. He’s not just shagging baseballs for himself. He’s doing it for the charity foundation he is involved in. It’s called Pitch in for Baseball. Just go to www.ZackHample.com and you’ll find out all you need to know. Once inside it was kind of every man for himself at that point. We all hung around the centerfield area for a while, and Josh got Greg Halman to toss him one but at the same time someone launched a deep drive that nearly made it over the fence. Josh nearly got drilled so he didn’t end up getting the toss up from Halman. I didn’t see the baseball either but neither of us really expected it because the Mariners rarely go deep with any BP home runs into the center field area.

After the staircase was open we ran down into the third base area to find any loose baseballs. There were a couple but I got beat out by some kid. So I took my routine spot at the third base protective fence. It was easy pickins’ down there too once the Angels came out onto the field and started taking some cuts in the cage. I had to sprawl way out but I caught a slow roller that made it just passed the fence and into my glove. I didn’t hang around the area too much longer because BP was about to end plus there were a lot of kids that were starting to wander around me. I didn’t want someone to get hurt because I either missed a baseball or because I moved for one and someones’ kid was underneath my feet. It happens. So I moved up to the foul pole area.

I caught another one up there on the fly. It was hit directly at me so I had a pretty good bead on it. I didn’t really have to move to my right or my left but I bashed my knee pretty good on the fencing when I leaned over the railing to make the beautiful catch.

After that I quickly made my way down to the dugout to see if I could get any toss ups from the Angels pitching staff but it was slim pickins’ down there. Lots of kids, and a few Angels fans. Plus I really wasn’t in a good position to catch anything. After BP ended we all huddled up for some photo opportunities with Zack.

I know. I probably could have smiled more. But I wanted to look tough. From left to right; Ginny, Josh, Zack, Max and me. Between the five of us we snagged nearly 20 baseballs. And of course Zack outsnagged us all. But that goes without saying. He’s been at this for like, 20 years.

We stood out in the bullpen for the majority of the game and it nearly paid off. I almost caught a Vernon Wells home run. The ball carried deep into the bullpen, and I thought it was going to land on the grassy part. But it didn’t. It landed on the dirt mound and took a wicked hop towards the fans. Of course nobody had a glove on so it got passed everyone. I had a shot at it too but I misplayed that bounce so badly I ended up taking a bad route to the baseball. Once the baseball squirts loose it doesn’t last long before someone gets it.

The Mariners lost the series opener 6-3 thanks to Vernon Wells hitting TWO home runs.

 

Game; June 13th 2011 Los Angeles Angels vs Seattle Mariners
Rockies

Gameballs; Three

Attendance; 20,238

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $65.50 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $27.50 this
season

 

6-4-2011 Safeco Field

Saturday. Game start time was 1:10pm. Why? Because of a U2 concert set to kick of at Qwest Field at 7:00pm. Could you believe it? I knew this ahead of time and I decided to go to the game anyway. I knew there wasn’t going to be batting practice but the ushers told me that the Rays probably will. There was no way the Rays were going to have any batting practice. When I entered the stadium I saw this.

I told them so. But no one wants to believe me. Anyway. Whatever. I waited at the staircase until 11:10am when we were allowed to roam the rest of the stadium and I immediatly wandered down to the third base line. James Shields and some other Rays pitcher were out on the field warming up and all I needed was a simple overthrow to get on the board. And it happened. Shields threw something pretty low and away and the rookie pitcher couldn’t handle it. The ball trickled over within reach and I scooped it up. Of course I had to give it back because that was the only baseball they brought out to use. I assumed I would get the ball back after they were done but no such luck.

The above picture is before the overthrow happened. The picture below is the overthrow about to happen.

In the next series of pictures I will show you how to align yourself perfectly for an overthrow and how to catch it if it happens.

The first picture shows how one of the baseball players is in a “catchers” position. And you can also see how far away the other baseball player is when he throws. That really increases the risk of an overthrow. The player that’s catching has limited mobility because he is in a catchers position. Anything that falls short, bounces or goes far left or right will result in the ball getting by the player and rolling to the wall.

I have placed a red circle around the crouching player. In the next picture I will show you the path of the baseball which resulted in an overthrow.

The solid red line indicates the path of the baseball and since it came up short and had a lot of spin on it, it was able to squirt away from the baseball player. The dotted red line indicates the path of the baseball to me. Which I picked up, and graciously handed back to the baseball player. So if you’re determined to catch an overthrow from your favorite baseball player, (like me) you don’t want to stand directly behind the player. You want to stand a little bit off his side depending on which hand he uses to catch. So in this situation you’ll want to stand a little bit more to your left as you face the player. Understand? Sure you do. Look people. There is an art to this. It requires skill and…a sloppy game of catch from the players.

After that Adam Russell came out to throw, and he gave his baseball away to a kid in the front row. She had a cute little pink bow in her hair. And then J.P Howell came out to throw and he tossed his baseball to a group of youngsters in the front row, and then the pitching coach played catch with a young kid in the front row and of course that baseball went to that kid. I even captured the game of catch on video.

Apparently it’s okay to play catch with fans again or the Rays didn’t have any idea about the story circulating that Major League Baseball has told their players not to play catch with fans anymore due to an injury caused to a fan from a game of catch. I learned that from Zach Britton when I requested a game of catch via Twitter. If you want to read all about that you can. Just click here.

Before the game started I went and took my usual spot by the Rays bullpen. During the game I couldn’t believe how much trash talk some of the Mariner fans could dish out. And of course as the game progressed and people consumed more alcohol words seemed to flow more freely and the Seattle Police had to get involved. If you have never been to Safeco Field the bullpen area is now open to allow fans to get closer to the baseball players in the bullpens without a pesky fence inbetween them.

In the above picture, see how the fans are free to lean over into the bullpen? Well, during the game it’s a lot more crowded. This one guy in a Sonics jersey asked for a baseball throughout the entire game. He got a few players attention due to his Sonics jersey but no one threw him a ball because how obnoxious he was being. I’m sure he thought he was being cool and impressing all of his buddies. But the players probably thought different. When the eight inning came around I readied my glove because I knew Bobby Ramos was going to throw some baseballs into the crowd like he did yesterday. Since I was wearing my Tampa Bay Rays hat I knew I had a very good chance of getting one. Plus I was standing by a few Rays fans. So that increased the probability. Strength in numbers. Bobby Ramos tossed one to my right, which was out of reach, and then he tossed the other one high and to my left. I made the quick snag and that was it. The dude in the Sonics jersey threw a fit, tossed his beer cups into the bullpen, and got a few glares from the Rays pitching staff. Bobby Ramos you’re my hero.

Oh, one more thing. If you want to follow me on Twitter…

Game; June 4th 2011 Tampa BayRays vs Seattle Mariners
Rockies

Gameballs; Two

Attendance; 28,843

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $63.55 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $26.75 this
season

 

 

Brad Ziegler Watch, #4

First of all I wanted to thank everyone for their donations so far. I’m very appreciative and so is the Red Cross and the Seattle-King Co. Humane Society. I’ve managed to bust the $50 dollar mark on my charity project for the Seattle Human Society and I couldn’t have done it without you guys. Also, MLB puts out a list of the top 50 blogs on their blog site and I ranked #36. That is amazing! So another big thank you to all that continue to read my blogs. Or just read it once and never came back. I’m appreciative of that too.

If you want to get involved in my charity projects you can. It’s not too late. In fact it’s never too late. If you want to pledge .01 a baseball or $1.00. It’s totally up to you. So far this year I’ve attended 28 games and I’ve snagged 67 baseballs. A lot has happened in those 28 games too. I’ve met Brad Ziegler, I played catch with Kevin Kouzmanoff, and I’ve met Zach Britton and Brian Matusz. I’ve also traveled to AT&T Park in San Francisco, the Oakland Coliseum, and Coors Field in Denver Colorado. Those three stadiums I have never been to before and I managed to snag a few baseballs at each of them. That brings my total up to nine  stadiums and 164 lifetime baseballs. Anyway. Here’s the link if you want to get involved helping me raise money for my charity projects. I have two of them. You can go here and here. Also if you want to check out my Facebook page you can go here.  Oh, and if you have a Twitter account make sure to follow me @MLBwayneMLB. Shall we get this watch party underway? I think so!

If you’re just now following my blogs I’ll give you a little bit of background. I gave Brad Ziegler some U.S Army wristbands for good luck back in April of this year. If you want to read about how it all went down just click here.  Below you will see how he has been doing since then.

On 4/26 Brad pitched against the Angels of Anaheim. He pitched two and a third innings and struck out one batter.

On 4/27 Brad pitched against the Angels of Anaheim. He pitched one inning and recorded his first save of the season. Thats also his 19th save of his career.

On 5/01 Brad pitched against the Texas Rangers. He faced one batter and gave up one hit. The Athletics win, 7-2.

On 5/02 Brad pitched against the Texas Rangers and faced one batter which he ended up walking. The Athletics win, 5-4.

On 5/04 Brad pitched against the Cleveland Indians and faced one batter. He gave up one hit.  The Athletics win, 3-1.

On 5/09 Brad pitched against the Texas Rangers and faced two batters. He gave up one hit and struck out one batter.

5/15 Brad pitched against the Chicago Whitesox and pitched an entire inning giving up only one hit.

5/16 Brad pitched against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and pitched an entire inning striking out one batter.

5/19 Brad pitched against the Minnesota Twins and pitched an entire inning giving up three hits, one run and striking out one batter. His ERA is now .66.

Here is his latest games he’s pitched in. Check it out.

5/20 Brad pitched against the San Francisco Giants and pitched an entire inning striking out two batters and walking one.

5/21 Brad pitched against the San Francisco Giants recording one out, giving up two hits and two runs.

5/24 Brad pitched against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim where he pitched an entire inning, striking out one batter.

5/27 Brad pitched against the Baltimore Orioles where he pitched two entire innings, gave up one hit, struck out one batter and recorded his first win of the season.

5/30 Brad pitched against the New York Yankees giving up two hits and one run in one inning of work.

5/31 Brad pitched against the New York Yankees again recording two outs, one hit and two strikeouts.

6/4 Brad pitched against the Boston Redsox where he gave up one hit, one run and struck out one batter.

6/5 Brad pitched against the Boston Redsox again only giving up one hit and working the entire inning.

In my humble opinion those Army wristbands are working. Some may disagree but as a relief pitcher, his ERA is 2.11 and he hasn’t given up any home runs. He’s got one save under his belt plus a win in 21.1 innings of work. Kudos.

 

 

 

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