June 2nd, 2011

5-31-2011 Safeco Field

Today’s game marked my 100th game that I’ve ever been to. I wanted to make today’s game as special as possible and definitely one to remember. So let me rewind to a day or so ago. As you all know this past weekend was Memorial Day weekend. I traveled to Coors Field in Denver Colorado for the first time to see that awesome ball park. You can read all about it here and here. Needless to say I wish I picked a different stadium but I’m glad I went because Coors Field marked my ninth stadium I’ve snagged a baseball in. Anyway. Most of you that read my blogs know that I served in the United States Army for ten years. So I qualify for veteran status. I also have a Twitter account. (You can follow me @MLBwayneMLB) Well, Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles was giving his thanks to veterans via Twitter. Here’s the conversation we had.

Zach
Britton (@zbritton)

5/30/11 7:24 AM
A
special thanks to all who have protected our freedom, past and
present!

And of course here is my reply.

Wayne
Peck (@MLBwayneMLB)

5/30/11 8:23 AM
@zbritton You’re welcome. I will see you guys at
the Safe tomorrow. #LoveMyO‘s

Wayne
Peck (@MLBwayneMLB)

5/30/11 8:25 AM
@zbritton oh, special request to you Zach. Would
you like to play catch with a vet at the stadium tomorrow? I’ll look for you. :)

And to my surprise I got this reply within the hour.

Zach Britton (@zbritton)
5/30/11 9:22 AM
@MLBwayneMLB Look for me out on the field before
the game.

The problem I faced was it was 9:30am in the morning. The game I was going to attend to play catch with Zach Britton wasn’t until the following day. Nearly 24 hours later. Would he even remember? I made sure to send him a couple more tweets in the early afternoon the day of the game to try and keep things fresh. I mean let’s face it. I had my doubts. He’s a big league ball player and has a ton of things on his mind. Although he wasn’t starting in the next couple of games so the pressure was off. But still.

When I got to the stadium it was all I could think about. How was I going to get his attention? Did he even remember? Should I have brought a sign with me that said something like, ” Im the dude that asked to play catch.” or, ” Army Veteran Tweeter.” Something. Anything to get his attention. But you know what? I didn’t have to do any of that. Because he did remember. Well, let me tell you how it all happened.

I ran inside the stadium when the gates opened and I immediatly lined up at the stairs and waited until 5:10pm. Once the horn blew I raced up the stairs, ran down into the seats and quickly searched for any loose baseballs. Nothing. (The ushers now place them in the cupholders to make it harder for myself, and my buddy Josh to get them) I ran over to the dugout to see if I could find Zach Britton (he wasn’t wearing a BP pullover) and I easily spotted him in the crowd. Here’s the picture I took and see if you can find him.

Do you need some help?

Once I found him I kind of just followed him along the third base line to make sure I would be able to line up behind him while he played catch on the field. My objective at this point was to allow him to get whatever he needed to get done without being too overly obnoxious. A lot of these pitchers have routines that they follow before every game, and then they go shag baseballs in the outfield. So I had to wait until he was all done.

After Zach Britton was done warming up, his catch partner wanted to throw some pitches. So Zach ended up being kind of the “baseball guard” for him. Any baseballs that were hit towards that area Zach would scoop up. Here is a picture of Zach on guard.

I knew at this point that I had limited time and I would have to get his attention somehow. Every once in a while Zach would look over his shoulder to look at the pitches and then he would watch the batter in the cage. I counted the seconds inbetween everytime he looked and then looked back to the batter in the batting cage. He only looked over his shoulder a few times but it was roughly about 8-10 seconds in between looks. So after the second time he looked over his shoulder I counted down from ten. When I reached one I held up my glove and sort of flapped it at him. At that very moment he looked over his shoulder and noticed me. He nodded his head in acklowledgment and fielded the next baseball that came his way. Since he was throwing all the other baseballs into the infield that he caught, I knew he had remembered when he hung onto the recent baseball he snagged. And before I knew it, Zach Britton was enroute towards me.

When he was walking over I turned my camera on and clicked it to video. I pressed “record” and asked this dude that was sitting next to where I was standing if he would please record our conversation. This is the video he recorded.

He recorded the dialogue but I guess he didn’t hear me right or understand what was going on or maybe it was the fact that he was already two beers deep and just sat there like a dope. I’m not sure what happened but he ended up just pointing the camera at his pants the whole time.

Basically some fan wanted to play catch with a baseball player and ended up getting hurt by the ball. Zach explained to me that since they’re filing a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, the players aren’t allowed to play catch anymore. But he did hook me up with a baseball and I thought that was pretty much the end of things.

I played the front row for any slow rollers or line drives and I came up with one more before batting practice ended. As the Baltimore Orioles were walking off the field I decided to try and get a picture with Zach Britton before he walked off the field. I waved him down and as he was walking my way he was telling Brian Matusz to come over and meet “someone”. (That someone being me) They both came over and this was the outcome.

I got to shake hands with Zach Britton (again) AND Brian Matusz. It was such an awesome experience. I had so much to say and so many questions to ask them both but I just couldn’t find the words. I mean, I didn’t just stand there like an idiot. It was just so overwhelming though. Zach stared at me like, “Hey, man. This is your time to ask us whatever you want.” But all I could come up with was, “Where can I send this picture to? The Baltimore fanclub?” I felt like such a dope. By that time fans were coming down to try and get autographs from them so that kind of diverted their attention away from my dopey-ness. It was so awesome to meet them.

I spent the rest of the game in the ‘Pen area and at the end of the game I was denied a baseball from the police officer that patrols the Orioles bullpen. A few baseballs were left behind and I was beat out by some old dude that asked for it first. The Mariners ended up winning due to a Justin Smoak home run that landed deep into the right field seats. Had I been sitting there? I probably would have ended up with the baseball. But security was being extra cautious due to five fans running out onto the field during the Mariners/Yankees series. So I wasn’t about to try and sit where I wasn’t supposed to. Not for a while anyway.

 

Game; May 31st 2011 Baltimore Orioles vs Seattle Mariners
Rockies

Gameballs; Two

Attendance; 11,692

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $46.00 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $25.00 this
season

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