September 2011

9-26-2011 Safeco Field

With the 2011 baseball season coming to a close I made arrangements to be able to attend at least the last Mariner home game of the season. Which is on Wednesday. It will probably be a very emotional night for most. Today’s game would start at 7:10pm and of course I got to the stadium early enough to attend batting practice. A small crowd gathered at the gates on this gloomy, rainy day in Seattle.

When I ran inside I immediately checked the centerfield gap and the sod farm behind the centerfield wall. To my surprise there were a few baseballs lying around and one within grasp. I quickly assembled my glove-trick and went after one.

“You need to lower your rubber band and you can’t do that right now.” Said a voice over my shoulder. I could hear other security guards in the centerfield bleachers whistling at me and hollering for me to stop but I didn’t care. I wanted to get on the board with at least one baseball this game…whatever the cost. If I get yelled at, so be it.

“I need to do what?” I responded.

“You have to stop that.” said the security guard again.

And at the moment I was reeling the baseball up. It wasn’t a baseball from Felix Hernandez or anything but it was well worth the trouble and the harassment from security.

I hung around the party deck for a while mainly because the crowd was so thin I wasn’t worried about anyone beating me to the seating bowls to scavenge for any loose baseballs. Steve Delabar was snagging balls in centerfield and when he tossed one up to a couple of girls I knew I’d be glove-tricking my second baseball out of the gap. Not that they’re girls and they can’t catch, it’s just that they weren’t wearing gloves and it’s hard to catch baseballs without a glove. I  retrieved the baseball for them and here is the result:

I wandered the bullpen area looking for more chances to use the glove-trick and I was stopped by one of the Safeco Field seating hosts, Bronson. He made a generous donation of $20 dollars towards Snagging Baseballs for Puppies and had me sign one of his baseballs that he got. I felt honored to be able to put my name on it and if you’ve ever signed a baseball it’s a lot harder than it looks.

Once the upper level opened up I raced down to the third base seating to look for any baseballs that were hit into the rows. I was able to find this one:

After I found the baseball in the above photo I walked over to the railing and called out to Tom Wilhelmsen.

“Hey, Tom. Do you want to play catch for a little bit? I found a baseball!” I said as I held it up and shrugged at him.

“Play catch? Okay, maybe a few throws, bud.” he replied back.

I tossed him the baseball I found, (usually I ask to play catch with the baseball player after they field a baseball to get them to throw it to me) and after I tossed it to him a baseball was hit near him. He sort of flinched a little and threw the baseball back to me and then told me this was probably not a good idea.

I told him I understood, I mean, I didn’t want him to get hit by a baseball. And I really didn’t think about that until after the fact. But nonetheless, I got to play catch with Tom Wilhelmsen for about a half a second and it was a really awesome half of a second too. Here’s a picture of Tom after we got done playing catch:

I walked the entire way around the stadium to the first base side of the stadium. And when I got there this is what I found:

Can you believe that? It was probably 5:20pm and this baseball in the above photo had been sitting there in plain view this whole time! Not only did I find this one but I found this one too…

…and just like that I had five baseballs on the evening! I would have had six but this baseball was incredibly hard to get plus security was standing right by me:

While I was staring down at this baseball and taking pictures the Mariners started to jog off the field. Batting practice for them had ended and I was way out in right field by the fair pole. I wanted to be at the dugout when BP ended so I literally had to sprint through the rows to get there in time. And when I did I got Jaime Navarro to toss me my sixth baseball of the evening. And by the way, this was my competition while I was messing around in the first base seating bowl:

I raced behind home plate, switched hats, took notes and moved down in the front row where the Oakland Athletics were already out stretching and warming up. I was sitting at six baseballs and I really wanted to break my single game record. All I had to do was snag one more baseball. After a few errant throws that nearly hit a couple of fans I met up with Todd Cook and his family. I got word from Twitter that he’d be visiting Safeco Field at the end of the month and it was really awesome to meet up with them. If you want to check out his blog you can by clicking here. Just as I ran over to them to shake Todd’s hand a baseball struck little Tim right in the arm as he was watching the Athletics. It looked like the baseball hit him square in the shoulder but later the medical staff at Safeco Field confirmed that he got hit in the hand and he was okay. Nothing was broke, thank goodness. While they rushed off to see the medics, Dave Valle came out on the upper deck and asked me what happened and where they were going. I made sure to fill him in on all the important details. After waiting around for about five minutes I decided to head up to Guest Services myself and make sure Tim was okay. Ballhawking could wait when their was a fellow ‘Hawker injured.

Fifteen minutes later we all walked out of Guest Services and headed down to the 3rd base seating bowl. Tim wanted to just hangout for a while, and I didn’t blame him. I had been hit by a baseball before and it really does hurt. I couldn’t imagine how much pain Tim was in.

I wandered back down to the bullpen area and just as I got there a couple of baseballs were hit near me. Here’s a picture of one:

I was watching security to make sure they weren’t standing by making sure I didn’t go after it and when they turned their back on me that’s when I made my move. I nearly had to talk my way into the spot in front of the ball because the lady that was blocking me assumed I was going to jump into the bullpen to get the baseball. I reassured her that’s what I wasn’t going to do and when I started to assemble my glove-trick she got the idea. First I had to knock the baseball closer by flinging my glove out passed the baseball and then by dragging my glove backwards over the ball it knocked it onto the concrete part of the ‘Pen. This was the result after I was able to reel it in:

The man in the above photo is Dino. I’m not sure if this was his first Mariners game or not but he’s from Australia. If you look closely at the underside of the baseball it has the Anaheim Angels 50th Anniversary logo on it. Dino was very appreciative of the baseball and I passed out my charity business card to him and the people he was with. We shared a few stories of rescued dogs, took a few more pictures, and parted ways.

When I returned to the party deck one of my friends, Ryanna,  that I attend baseball games with pulled me aside.

“There is a baseball that’s stuck underneath the tarp in the back corner of the Mariners bullpen.” She told me.

I, of course, had to investigate. And sure enough there was a baseball sitting in the corner. It wasn’t just any baseball. It was another Anaheim Angels 50th Anniversary one. But I couldn’t get it with my glove-trick. I had to wait for a grounds crew member. And when one finally arrived I asked him if he’d toss me the baseball. I got the “I’ll lose my job” excuse but luckily he told me he’d tell the bullpen cop about it and hopefully he’d be able to help me. Fortunatly for me, I’ve been really friendly with the bullpen cops and I also know them by name. So it was pretty easy to get the baseball from him. And I gave that one away to another friend of mine, Krista, that attends nearly every Mariners home game. She’s been wanting one of the special Angels ball all season so I felt pretty good about getting it to her. That was my eighth ball of the evening.

After that I engaged in a quick photo-op with the Todd and Tim:

I ran over to the Mariners side of the stadium at around 6:45pm to try to snag one more baseball. But none of the Mariners that were out warming up bothered to bring any baseballs with them. Alex Liddi and Luis Rodriguez played a quick game of catch in front of the Mariners dugout but it was actually a little too crowded for my taste so I ended up leaving and walking back to the party deck in centerfield.

The game itself was very entertaining. Especially when Brandon League came in to pitch in the ninth to try to notch save number 37. Which he did. The Mariners were able to hang on for a 4-2 win and a huge three-run home run by Justin Smoak pretty much sealed it for them too! The last game of the season will be played on Wednesday which I will be attending.

Also, a huge thanks to another good friend of mine, Carla, for donating $25 dollars to my charity. You can click on the link below to get more details or donate yourself. Her donation pushed me over the edge of $200 dollars raised this year. I never thought I’d end up raising so much money, so a huge thanks goes out to her and everyone else that has donated, pledged or done both.

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Game; September 26th 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Eight

Attendance; 17,057

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $219.65 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $50.20 this
season

9-21-2011 Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

I had the day off from work today so guess what I did? I booked a flight to Oakland California and attended an Oakland Athletics baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum. The Coliseum is now re-named to the O.co Coliseum or some stupid name like that. I refuse to call it anything but the Oakland Coliseum. It’s been named that for a million years and I’m not going to call it the “Oh Co Coliseum”! Ridiculous! Here’s a crappy picture of the Coliseum as I rode past it in the shuttle van from my hotel room.

The good thing about this trip is I stayed in a hotel within walking distance to the Coliseum. But I didn’t have to walk. The hotel room also had a shuttle service to and from the Coliseum. So I took advantage of that. I got dropped off at the Coliseum, well the BART station, at around 3:30pm. Had I went to the stadium at noon I would have got to meet Josh Hamilton, and Nomar Garciaparra. I found out from the Ranger fans that were already at the stadium that they got to meet both of those guys, plus get their autographs, AND got pictures with them both!

This is the gate I entered in. I came to this stadium because of the low attendance and I really wanted to break out and have a monster day collecting baseballs. I didn’t expect $2 dollar ticket day. More people showed up for that than I expected. But there were only a handful of people with baseball gloves. Nearly everyone else headed to the dugouts to seek autographs. Something I’m not entirely into anymore. I wasn’t quite used to the stadium because I have only been to two games there. One on April 1st and another one on Apri 2nd where I collected my 100th baseball from Jason Phillips. When I ran into the stadium I immediately headed out to the outfield to find any loose baseballs rolling around in the rows. I took a wrong turn and ended up in the 200th level. I turned around and headed back to the first base seating bowl and found this:

 

Moments later Josh Hamilton drilled one deep to right field. I ran out onto the main concourse while tracking the ball and made the catch just in front of the railing. Had I not made the catch? The baseball would have ended up down here with this one:

There was no possible way I was going to retrieve that baseball. The Coliseum has strict rules on baseball retrieval devices. The security guard that I asked told me that I could be arrested if I were to use one. I didn’t believe they would go that far but I didn’t want to try anything. Home was 800 miles away. And when Josh Hamilton smacked another baseball into home run land I was so tempted to go after it when the kid that was trying to catch it failed to come up with the ball. The ball landed on the staircase out in right field. Here’s a picture of the staircase:

 

And here’s a picture of where the baseball landed:

When baseballs are that close and someone tells me I can’t try to get it, it makes me want to try to get it even more. But with that lingering thought of being arrested over a Major League baseball still fresh in my mind I decided to leave it be. Even though I could have probably snagged it and got away with it…I just didn’t want to risk it. I could have claimed that I was an out of towner and didn’t know the rules, (which is true, sort of) or I could have just gone for it and not worried about anything. I decided to use my better judgement and just leave it alone. That baseball would have been my third baseball.

I didn’t bother with any toss-ups from any Rangers players even though I was wearing my Rangers hat and I could have probably gotten at least two more. While I was watching the Rangers field baseballs in the outfield another line drive home run was hit my way. unfortunately I was standing on the second tier seating area and I wasn’t able to move down fast enough. The baseball smacked off the picnic table and some kid ended up getting the ball. This was my view as batting practice came to an end:

My problem with the Oakland Coliseum is this; the gates opened up at 5:35pm, which meant I wouldn’t get to see the Athletics portion of batting practice. The Rangers ended their portion of batting practice at 6:15pm. Batting practice was over and done with so fast! It felt like as soon as I ran into the stadium batting practice was coming to an end. For me I felt fortunate enough to find a baseball and catch another. The good news is I had awesome seats for the game. I was sitting right behind home plate. What does that mean? Foul balls.

Here’s a picture of the two gems I snagged:

The concourse was absolutely crowded but I was able to grab a hotdog and a free soda for signing up for the drunk driver program thing they had at the Coliseum. I was only allowed to get a small drink and when they meant small they really meant small. They gave me a 4 oz dixie cup jammed full of ice and some soda. I felt ripped off but hey, it was free. The hotdog was like, $5 bucks though.

Here’s a view from my seat:

When I got these tickets I researched the best possible spot that I thought would be ideal for a foul ball. I figured directly behind home plate would be the best spot and when I bought the tickets, which were $26 dollars, I asked for an aisle seat as close to the field as possible. I was put in row seven, seat one. The rows around me were empty.

Every foul ball that would have come my way it would have been an easy snag. But for that to happen foul balls would need to come my way. During THIS particular game when I was sitting in foul ball territory with no one around me not one foul ball came even close enough for me to snag. I was shocked.

As the game went on I pretty much gave up on catching a foul ball while I sat in the perfect seats in the Coliseum. I thoroughly enjoyed the game though. It was well-played and I got to see Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler blast some home runs. The Rangers ended up winning the game 3-2 and I went home with only two baseballs.

 

 

O.co. Coliseum…blah.

 

Game; September 21st 2011 Texas Rangers vs Oakland Athletics

Gameballs; Two

Attendance; 19,589

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $189.20 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $47.80 this
season

 

 

 

 

9-18-2011 Safeco Field

When I got to the stadium today this was waiting for me:

Yes, that is an authentic Major League baseball from Rawlings. The stamp on the sweet spot reads, “Catch n Win 2011″ and the red “X” means that it’s already been turned in for a prize to Guest Services. What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing. Yesterday at Safeco Field the Mariners were holding a fan appreciation day and when I found out they would be using special baseballs during BP I literally freaked out. I started tweeting everyone I knew that would be going to the game asking if they’d snag me one of those baseballs. I even tweeted Mariners pitcher, Shawn Kelley if he’d snag me one and hold onto it until I could get to the stadium the next day. Thanks to my friend, Ryanna and Carla, I was able to get one. Shawn Kelley eventually responded to me with this;

@shawnkelley23Shawn Kelley
@MLBwayneMLB @seattlehumanei didn’t get any, sorry about that, not as many this year
I told him I got one and thanked him anyway and he responded with this;
@shawnkelley23Shawn Kelley
@MLBwayneMLB @seattlehumanei I’ll get u a ball though next time
Sweet!
At first I didn’t want to count the baseball in my collection. Mainly because I didn’t get it on my own. But then I was thinking about all the other baseballs I didn’t really “get on my own” either. Like, from the bullpen police officers or from the grounds crew. What difference does it make who gives it to me? It’s still a baseball from a Major League stadium. So it counts. Cop-out because it’s a Sunday and there’s no batting practice? Continue to read…
You could literally hear a pin drop during the first thirty minutes of being inside the stadium. Nothing was happening.
Safeco Field is really awesome though. Days like these are kind of relaxing. I can just stand on the party deck and take in the atmosphere. Smell the green grass…feel the gentle wind on my face…take in the silence. It’s all a very unique experience. I wandered the stadium once the rest of it opened up and made my way over to the Mariners side of the field. I attempted for an overthrow or even a toss-up but unfortunately it was Kids Appreciation day and every baseball that the players had went to the kids. I expected that to happen. And they got to walk the field too:
When the Mariner pitchers were warming up it got very crowded but I played the crowd accordingly. Most people were after autographs. So when one player got done throwing and came to sign autographs I’d fill the empty holes and line up behind players that were still playing catch. I was hoping for an overthrow because after a player got done throwing he’d pass the baseball off to a kid that was walking by on the field. I even ran out to the outfield to possibly snag a baseball from Brandon League or Jamey Wright…
…but as you can see many kids were passing by there too. When Brandon League got done he rolled the baseball onto the warning track to some kid that was barely paying attention.
I needed a new strategy and a new one fast if I was going to snag anymore baseballs today. I didn’t get a chance to try the Rangers for any baseballs and before I knew it all the players were off the field. Except for a few Mariners in the bullpen. I quickly headed that way. I was walking by the Mariners bullpen and all of a sudden a baseball came flying my way. It bounced off a few fans and landed at my feet. I stepped on it to keep it from rolling around and I quickly picked it up. I looked around for anyone that may have dropped it and I tried to hand it off to the nearest kid because I thought it may belong to him. He immediately waved me off and told me he didn’t want it. I had to ask him a few more times if he wanted it because I was literally in shock. What kid at Safeco Field didn’t want a baseball? I asked him who threw it and he told me that Jason Vargas tossed it to him. I shrugged and walked away.
Soon I was being yelled at by some 6’5 280 pound biker guy. It was noon and this dude was already intoxicated and trying to explain to me that, that’s his baseball. He told me that he caught it and gave it to the kid and the kid tossed it away. I didn’t believe a second of it because I was standing right there when the baseball came flying in. Plus the dude was drunk and being very rude to me. I told him “better luck next time.” and walked away. I lapped once the stadium just to make sure he wasn’t following me.
And I also got pictures of the new Dave Niehaus statue:
Once I got back to the party deck I gave the baseball I snagged from Vargas to friend name. Her name is Fay and she lives nearly three hours from Safeco Field but still manages to come out to the ballpark every week or so. Here she is holding the baseball up with Miguel Olivo in the background:
That was her very first baseball this season. She was pretty happy to get it and later got it signed by her favorite Mariner pitcher, Brandon League. She even has a Facebook fan page if you’d like to check it out or join. Just click here.
In the third inning, Ian Kinsler hit a ball that landed well into foul territory. The umpires initially called it a home run and when they did everyone went nuts. While the umpires were reviewing the play here was what the Mariners bullpen looked like:
The call eventually got overturned and they called the home run back. Before that the umpires blew another call when Felix Hernandez tried to make a sweeping tag on Endy Chavez and missed. But Chavez clearly ran out of the baseline. It would’ve been an out but the umpires ruled him safe.
In the fourth inning, Adrian Beltre went deep off of Felix Hernandez. The ball landed in the Mariners bullpen and close enough for me to glove-trick it out of there. I had enough time but I just stood there looking at it. Well, to be honest, I would have had to knock the ball closer and then rig up my glove to snatch it up. So it would have taken some time. I probably would have still got it though. Here’s a picture of me running around the bullpen after the baseball in hopes it bounced out and into the fan area:
The Rangers eventually won 3-0. The good news? I got an awesome picture with the Tacoma Rainers mascot!

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Game; September 18th 2011 Texas Rangers vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Two

Attendance; 21,479

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $187.10 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $47.20 this
season

9-13-2011 Safeco Field

For the record I did not want to attend this baseball game. Why? Because of Alex Rodriguez. I dislike that man like there is no tomorrow. And I’m sure I can speak for many, many Mariner fans. Even the fans that go to one baseball game a year at Safeco Field. I can even say with confidence that the fans that show up for a Mariners bobblehead, walk in the gates, grab a bobblehead, turn around and exit to their cars to go home don’t even like Alex Rodriguez. Seriously? It’s not about him using steroids. I’m over that and I also understand from an athletes point of view why they would consider using steroids. Or even growth hormones. Whatever you want to call it. That fact that he lied about his steroid use is what bothers me. And not only that? How he left Seattle. Which is also understandable but if you’re going to leave the team that put you in the spotlight at least go to another division. Or go to the National League. Or just go away. Anyway. I’m off my soap box now.

With all that said I found out that Alex Rodriguez was not going to be in the lineup. So I jumped in my vehicle and drove out to Safeco Field. Since the Yankees were in town I thought the stadium was going to be packed. But it wasn’t. Maybe 18,000 showed up. And that’s such a light crowd for a Yankees game. When I got to the stadium these fine gentlemen were working on some new posters outside:

Here’s a brand new poster of Miguel Olivo:

When I ran inside there wasn’t much competition and plenty of open spacing in the bullpen areas. I got my first baseball of the evening from Trayvon Robinson. You can see him in the picture below. He’s the Mariner player with the high socks.

Robinson ran down a fly ball that landed on the warning track but failed to bounce into the bullpen. I was standing right there when he appeared in front of the open bullpen door as he was walking towards the baseball. All I had to do was get his attention. I simply flapped my glove at him and he picked up the ball, brushed it off on his pants and went to throw it to me. He lost grip on the ball and he never got airborne. He picked it up again and this time launched it to me. The ball nearly came up short and I had to really stretch for it. But I made the catch.

I still wanted a baseball from Felix Hernandez really bad. When I noticed him out in centerfield I made a bee-line for the ‘Pen area. Or the party deck. Whatever it’s called. Everytime Felix fielded a baseball I screamed at him to throw it to me. But he paid me absolutely no attention at all. Thoroughly bummed I figured out a different plan of approach. I was destined to get a baseball from that man. When the rest of the stadium opened up I raced to the centerfield bleachers and lined up directly behind the King. But he never got another baseball. Steve Delabar and Jason Vargas were fielding everything and tossed a couple into the stands. I could have easily made some catches but I wanted a baseball from Felix. And then he walked off the field. It was then I noticed a huge fan gathering around the Yankees dugout. Guess what that meant? I’ll show you in the next couple of pictures.

Here is what the crowd looked like at the Yankees dugout:

I noticed the crowd from centerfield. I literally ran to the Mariners dugout because it was pretty much just me standing there. Check it out:

The Mariners were about to end their portion of batting practice and that meant only one thing. I had absolutely no one competing against me for a baseball. Lucky me I got Chone Figgins attention. He tossed me a baseball but I was three rows back from the front. The ball came up way short and it landed in the camera pit. At first I didn’t see it bounce around down there so I was concerned the camera lady wouldn’t be able to find it. Amazingly it landed inside her backpack!

She was totally oblivious to the whole thing and I didn’t want to just reach into her backpack and grab the baseball. I kindly asked her if she’d dig it out and she did. Instead of handing it to me she tossed it to me and I nearly lost it again. I made sure to thank Figgins as he walked into the dugout too. That was my second baseball of the evening.

On my way back out to the outfield I managed to scoop up a softly hit grounder that barely made it past first base and trickled into foul territory. Again, there was no one around but me to get it. So I hauled it in for my third baseball on the evening. After the Mariners jogged off the field and the Yankees came out I wandered the bullpen area for any loose baseballs that I could glove trick. I found one in the Yankees bullpen and I easily snagged it via glove-trick. Everyone, of course, was so amazed by what I did I actually got a “standing ovation”. I wasn’t really paying attention to it until one guy patted me on the back and told me “Good job.” So I humbly tipped my cap and moved on. It felt kind of good to get that kind of attention, I’m not going to lie. That was my fourth baseball of the evening. Here’s a picture of the baseball afterwards:

While I was in the bullpen area a batting practice home run was hit into the Mariners bullpen and it bounced into the back corner. No one was really around to witness it expect me. Like I said; everyone was at the Yankees dugout. Here’s a picture of the ball. See if you can find it…

…It’s tucked away in the back corner. While I was standing there Jason Phillips was walking into the bullpen. He picked up a baseball on the way to the bench and turned around to throw it up to section 151. Like I’ve said many times before; everyone was so fascinated by the Yankees being in the stadium that most people forgot that the Mariners were even here to play. No one responded to Jason Phillips request to throw them a baseball. He shrugged and put the baseball in his pocket. When he turned around to continue to the bench I was standing on the other side of the fence glove ready. All I had to do was flap my glove at him. It took him a moment to get the baseball to me but when he threw it, it was a high beautifully aimed arching throw that smacked right into my glove. It was such an awesome throw. And the results:

You can see Phillips in the background digging through the bag of baseballs. That was number five on the night and my third baseball from Jason Phillips this year. My first baseball and my 100th lifetime baseball from Phillips came on April 2nd 2011 at the Oakland Coliseum. And my second baseball from him came on July 30th 2011 at Safeco Field.

Remember the baseball that bounced into the corner of the Mariners bullpen? I had a few options I could try. I could ask Miguel Olivo when he came over to warm up to grab the baseball for me OR I could wait for someone less busy to enter the bullpen. I also knew that one of the grounds crew raises the protective scoreboard screen and uses a hand crank in that very corner where the ball was at. I rolled the dice and waited on the grounds crew. When he showed up I asked him how his day was going and then hit with the infamous, “Is there anyway you could grab that baseball for me and hand it up?” I thought about extending the truth and telling him I dropped it while trying to get an autograph. But how many times during the season do baseballs land there? He’s probably heard every trick in the book. So I held my breath and hoped that worked. He didn’t answer me right away but after he was done…

…another Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim commemorative baseball!! Not only was that my sixth baseball of the evening but that’s my fourth Angels commemorative baseball!! Not my fourth one of the game but my fourth one overall. I absolutely love these unique baseballs.

Once the game got started it was pretty much the Yankees dominating. The Mariners put up a really good fight and the final score was 3-2 Yankees. The most wonderful moment came, (even though I’m anti-Yankee) when Mariano Rivera notched his 600th career save. History. Here is a picture of him taking the mound before the historic moment:

The picture quality sucks because I forgot my SD card again and not only that I left my SD card in my camera that was sitting at home on my computer desk. So I was limited to my iPhone once again. Here’s a picture of Rivera after the save:

This game reminded me when I drove 800 miles from St. Louis to the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on 10-22-2010 to watch game six of the ALCS last year. I had goosebumps when Rivera recorded the milestone.

 

 

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Game; September 13th 2011 New York Yankees vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Six

Attendance; 18,306

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $185.00 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $46.60 this
season

9-9-2011 Safeco Field

Yesterday at Safeco Field I had a blast. I wanted to continue that good vibe and collect even more baseballs. It was so easy because the fan base simply died off for this series. In all fairness, who wants to see two last place teams battle it out? Since I love baseball so much I couldn’t careless who played. I just wanted to see some baseball! I figured for a Friday evening in Seattle, with awesome weather, and the kids all in school now, the crowd should be next to nothing. I was pretty much correct in my assumption. Here is a picture of the party deck well past the time the gates had opened up:

Seriously. That was my competition. It was literally dead. So allow me to back up a little bit and start from the time I walked into the stadium.

Yesterday the Mariners didn’t have batting practice because they got into Seattle from Anaheim quite late. I’m not sure why but that’s what I was told. Today the Mariners were having batting practice but for the most part I was being ignored. I called out to Anthony Vasquez a few times, Trayvon Robinson a few times and even Dan Cortes. Nothing from any of them. It wasn’t until 5:10pm when the rest of the stadium opened up and I found this little gem just sitting in an empty row of seats:

Moments later I found this as well:

I gave away the first loose baseball I found to a nearby woman who had her son with her. And of course I kept the Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball. After hanging around in the third base lower seating bowl for a few extra minutes I decided to try my luck at the “Safeco Field Lookout” . I waited for just the right moment and then called out to Alex Gordon. I had to call his name three times before he finally turned around and looked up at me. I flailed my arms rapidly and motioned for him to throw me a baseball. And when he did…

…I caught my third ball of the evening. You can see Gordon in the picture above walking slightly to his right. He’s the player with the number four on his back. Super nice guy. And not because he threw me a baseball. Well, yeah. That’s mainly why he’s a nice guy. While I was up there looking around I saw Bruce Chen doing the same thing he was doing yesterday; teasing the fans with a baseball. I didn’t know if perhaps he would remember me from yesterday but I had to give it a shot.

When I got down to the party deck there were plenty of fans wanting a baseball. But again. I had the edge. My Kansas City Royals hat. Chen wasn’t playing games with Jesse Chavez this time. He was playing games with Joakim Soria. So the payoff would be awesome. I lined up at the far corner and made sure Soria saw me wearing my Royals hat. Moments later he lobbed a high arching throw that I knew was going to land in the party deck. I took a step forward, outstretched my arm and made the catch. That was my fourth ball of the day. And from Joakim Soria too.

When batting practice started to come to an end I wandered the bullpen looking for any extra baseballs that I could glove-trick out of there. When I saw a baseball at the end of the Royals bullpen I ran over  to try and pull it out. When I arrived, there was a younger baseball fan standing directly in line with the baseball. I asked him if he was trying to get the baseball and he told me he was. I explained to him that it would be a lucky shot if you actually ended up with the baseball because usually the groundskeepers come through and scoop all the baseballs up. I told him I’d glove-trick it out of the bullpen for him. Since I had possession of the baseball that counts towards my total which now put me at five on the day. I handed the baseball off to him, we shook hands and parted ways.

Before the game started I wanted to get something else accomplished. Today I brought the baseball that Jason Phillips threw me on 4-2-2011 at the Oakland Coliseum this year which turned out to be my 100th baseball. Since Phillips tossed it to me I wanted him to sign it. I’ve actually been trying to get him to sign it for the past few games I’ve attended but he was always busy and I don’t want to bother these guys when they have work to do. But the opportunity presented itself when Jason walked up to the bullpen cops and started talking to them. I quickly grabbed my baseball and my pen and walked over to him.

“Hey Jason, I was wondering if you had time for a quick autograph.” I asked him

“Sure, no problem.” He replied.

“But I was wondering if you could personalize the baseball for me. This is my 100th baseball ever caught in my life and you threw it to me in Oakland on April 2nd.” Jason smiled as I explained the significance of the baseball to him.

“Well, what do you want me to put on it?” He asked.

“I don’t know!” I said with a laugh. ” You’re the baseball player. You guys always have something witty to say.” He laughed too, I gave him my name and this was the result:

 

The Mariners game was absolutely amazing. Alex Liddi, who made his Safeco Field debut, ended up hitting a double on his second at-bat. The cool story about Liddi is his season ended while playing for the Tacoma Rainers and his parents had purchased airline tickets for him to go back to Italy and then he gets called up to the Mariners. How cool is that? The Root Sports guys and some freelance writers from MLB Network came down to film Steve Delabar as well. Liddi and Delabar were hot topics in Seattle and the ‘Pen area got quite popular.

Since I was standing there I asked all kinds of questions to the camera man and the people who accompanied him. I also passed him my business card with all my blog information, charity website information and my contact information. So hopefully I’ll hear from those guys one day. Maybe I’ll be famous too!

Jeff Francoeur made some fine plays in the outfield to rob Dustin Ackley of a home run and an extra base hit. After Francoeur robbed Ackley of the home run, Olivo blasted one off the fair-pole in left field. Olivo also hit a double and a triple. He came up short for the cycle but it was still awesome to see.

After the game ended I called out to Dan Cortes and got him to toss me my sixth baseball of the night. The Mariners came out winners with a 7-3 victory over the Royals.

 

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Game; September 9th 2011 Kansas City Royals vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Six

Attendance; 14,805

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $178.70 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $44.80 this
season

 

 

 

 

9-8-2011 Safeco Field

Sick as a dog. I had all the flu symptoms and absolutely no energy. I didn’t want to come out to Safeco Field just for those reasons. But I mustered up what little energy I had and drove the short 20 miles to the stadium two hours before the gates opened, took a short 25 minute nap in my car, straightened myself up and walked to the baseball stadium. I arrived around 4pm which is pretty late for my standards. But the Kansas City Royals were in town for a four game stretch and that meant that the crowd would be minimal. Good for me but bad for the Mariners. They deserve a full house everyday. And Safeco Field is a wonderful stadium to visit.

When I got into the stadium the batting practice equipment was set up and ready to go but the field was a ghost town. The only person around was the Mariners bullpen catcher, Jason Phillips. He was quietly perched on the bullpen bench staring out into the open, empty field as I was. I said hello to Phillips and we engaged in small talk before some of the Mariners pitching staff arrived.

 

And just for your general knowledge, Jason Phillips is a really cool guy. Also for your general knowledge I forgot my SD card for my camera so I had to use my iPhone to take pictures. So if the pictures seem to be awkwardly long or the resolution isn’t as good, that’s why. I still have the first generation iPhone because I’m too cheap to buy a brand new one. Plus I like to spend my money traveling to other stadiums.

When the Mariner pitching staff arrived, Jason got into full catching gear and then he turned to me and said, ” We probably won’t be taking BP, but they will.” I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or not at first and then I realized he was. I thought that was pretty awesome that Jason kind of had an idea of why I was there. Not only to watch the game, mind you. But to snag baseballs too. And for a good reason. If you are just now reading my blogs I’ve started a charity called, Snagging Baseball for Puppies. Since I snag so many baseballs throughout the seasons I wanted to put it to a good cause. I contacted the Seattle Humane Society at the beginning of this season and asked if they’d like to support something like that. They said yes and so far I’ve raised $166 dollars. I’ve even had some employees at Safeco Field drop in a pledge. And if you’re also wondering what I do with all the baseballs I catch, some times I give them away to kids, some I keep and now I’m starting to give some away to military veterans. Since I’m a military veteran myself I figured that would be a good way to show my military support. If you want to check out my baseball snagging stats just click here.

When the rest of the stadium opened up I snuck around through the outfield and ran down to the first base seating bowl to try to snag a toss-up from one of the Mariners pitching staff. But it was slim pickins’. I did, however, get this fabulous picture of Billy Butler and Jamey Wright talking. They were teammates twice before, (I think) so they were doing a little catching up.

Jamey Wright was playing catch with Brandon League and when they got done tossing the baseball around, Brandon tossed the ball into the left field bleachers. When that happened I left the seating bowl and ran to the centerfield seats. And it literally paid off the moment I walked down to the front row. I don’t know who hit it but the ball ended up bouncing off the warning track and right into my glove…

That’s Aaron Crow in the backfield. I called out to him as I was walking down the stairs to the front row to get the baseball he had. He tossed it in and watched me make the grab. I anticipated the high bounce and jumped just as the baseball hit the warning track but it died so much that I had to hurry up and land to make the catch before the ball disappeared into no man’s land. (The centerfield wall gap) Moments later I caught another baseball on the fly. I had to climb over one row of seats to make the catch but I did it.

After that I ran down to the ‘Pen area because Bruce Chen of the Kansas City Royals was in centerfield fielding a lot of baseballs. Since I had on my Royals hat I knew it would be a sure thing from him. When I got down there him and Jesse Chavez were teasing the fans with a baseball. Chen would throw the ball just out of reach and then toss it to Chavez. Chavez would then throw the baseball high enough over the wall but low enough that Chen could jump up and rob the fans from any catch that would be made. I didn’t bother to take part in the reindeer games because I knew I had one simple advantage. My Kansas City Royals hat. And when Bruce Chen was done having his fun, he started to look for someone to throw the baseball to. And guess who got it? Here’s a picture of Bruce Chen after hooking me up with my third ball of the day:

I continued to move around the entire stadium looking for another opportunity to snag a baseball. I stopped here at the “Safeco Field Lookout” and snapped a quick photo and noticed Jeff Francis in left field all by himself. You won’t see him in the next photo but take a look anyway.

When I arrived down into the third base seating bowl there was a fan mixing it up with Francis and pleading for a baseball. Again, since I had on my Royals hat I had the upper hand over all these fans. Jeff eventually tossed him a baseball and then walked over to a small pile of them and started lobbing baseballs into the crowd. I called out to him a few times and got his attention. This was the result:

In the picture above you can see Jeff Francis throwing a baseball into the infield just over my glove. I’ve received a baseball from Francis before on 5-21-2010 at Kauffman Stadium when he was playing for the Colorado Rockies. So it was good to see him again and sort of re-unite with him on that level. That was my fourth baseball of the day and I was quite pleased at that point.

After batting practice had ended I made my way back down into the ‘Pen area to get something to eat. Dave Valle, a former Seattle Mariner catcher, started throwing out t-shirts and I got to be the lucky fan standing there when one came my way. It was drifting a little to my right and this guy behind me jumped up to try to rob me of it. I wasn’t trying all that hard to try to catch the t-shirt but it would have been cool to get one anyway. Well, the dude behind me had a cup of beer in his hand. You can probably guess what happened next. It’s a simple rule of physics. When you jump up in the air with something in your hand, like a cup of beer, most likely when you return to earth the beer in your cup is going to go everywhere and land on everyone. I happened to be standing in close proximity of this and yup! I got beer spilled on me. The guy didn’t even apologize and that’s why I don’t like competing for thrown baseballs, t-shirts or free hotdogs in the beer garden. Because people aren’t conscious of their drinks and they end up spilling them on everyone like a dope when something is thrown their way.

Even though I had beer spilt on me before the game, I ended up watching the some of the game from the party deck. Being that is was a Thursday night game it wasn’t all that crowded and it felt awesome to stand right by the Mariners bullpen. The other half of the game I actually sat in my assigned seat for once. Here was my view during the game:

While I was getting settled on the party deck by the Mariners bullpen I saw something very odd in my backpack. On one of the baseballs I saw what looked like to be a logo of some kind. So I pulled the baseball out of my bag and this is what I saw:

It’s hard to say where exactly this baseball came from. Expect the obvious; New Yankee Stadium. But I mean, where I got it at Safeco Field. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the ground rule double I caught because that baseball has defining markings from bouncing off the warning track. It could have been tossed up by Bruce Chen or Jeff Francis. But really? It didn’t really matter where it came from. I had it in my possession and I was thrilled to have caught a New Yankee Stadium baseball. I love these commemorative balls and there will be two new ones to snag next season when the Marlins get their new stadium and when the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 50th year in L.A. Next year I’m definitely going to Los Angeles for a few games.

Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a first pitch, first inning home run. I actually thought about buying seats for that section before buying a ticket in the left field seats. But that’s how it goes. When I decide to sit elsewhere the baseballs go where I’m not. Story of my life.

 

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Game; September 8th 2011 Kansas City Royals vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Four

Attendance; 14,377

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $172.40 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $43.00 this
season

8-31-2011 Safeco Field

The last baseball game of August 2011. The Los Angeles Angels were in town for a four-game series and I was able to attend at least one of them. I bought tickets to sit out in the outfield but I ended up spending the entire game standing in the newly refurbished ‘Pen area. It was quite interesting to say the least. It wasn’t as crowded as a weekend game though so I really had a chance to catch a home run ball. Sadly, none were hit in my direction.

When I got into the stadium it seemed like the security guards were playing extra hard to moderate who got a baseball and who didn’t. These security guards had “Alcohol Enforcement” on the back of their shirts not “Baseball Enforcement”. In my opinion it really seemed quite ridiculous to be as active as they were when it came to who got a baseball and who didn’t. Of course, they made sure every little kid within sixteen square miles got a baseball and some of the older crowd started to complain directly to them. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to let them know they were getting to me. At one point of the of the security guards out-snagged a fan to give a baseball to a kid. I thought that was pure 100% ridiculous.

Willy Mo Pena finally tossed up a baseball after minutes of yelling at him and the kid that the baseball was intended for dropped it into the centerfield gap. Like always. I stepped in before security could go down there and get it and glove tricked it out of there. I handed it off to his mother instead of the kid and told him that the next baseball he gets he needs to share. Now who’s the baseball moderator? HA!

When it was time to run up the stairs and wander the rest of the stadium I ran down to the third base seating bowl and watched an awesome show put on my Blake Beaven and Dan Cortes. If you asked Dan Cortes for a baseball he wasn’t going to toss it to you. He was going to rear back and fire some serious heat. And if you missed it? Serious injury would ensue or you wouldn’t come up with the baseball. It was really hilarious. Unfortunately, I didn’t get him to throw me one. But this guy got a couple thrown to him:

It was pretty funny. Dan really launched them at him and when the baseball hit the seats after a miss it would bounce all over the place. I thought about playing behind the guy but every time I got closer he would move farther away. So I just took the picture of him instead and let him have his fun.

The Mariners jogged off the field as the Angels came out and I decided the best place to get my second baseball of the day would be here:

Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing came my way. Not even an overthrow, missthrow, underthrow, sideways throw or a foul ball. I knew that as soon as I left my spot something would happen. I left anyway and I didn’t bother to watch over there to be disappointed. I wandered the bullpen, and the ‘Pen area, the Party deck and back around to the bullpen looking for an opportunity to snag a baseball. I finally decided to stay on the party deck for the rest of the Angels portion of batting practice. A few home runs were hit out to my general area and as soon as I ran for one a player tossed a baseball up right where I was standing. Truly frustrating. Plus I had security to deal with. They seemed to be out-snagging everyone. Including the players on the field. I felt, not only me, but other fans were truly being ripped off by these two security guards. Here was my view while standing on the party deck:

During the last few moments of BP, I got Joel Pineiro’s attention and he launched a baseball my way. Of course I had three determining factors of why I didn’t catch the baseball. 1.) Pineiro’s throw was high, 2.) Some drunk dude next to me stuck his elbow into my ribcage and, 3.) The sun was directly in my field of view. The result? One of the nicer security guards got blasted in the collar-bone by the baseball. I heard the sickening sound of a Major League Baseball connecting with human flesh and bone, and when I looked back I saw the security guard leaning against the fence covering her entire face. I thought she got hit in the nose or something. But she didn’t. And when I looked back at Joel, he was motioning to me how close I came to catching it. I just shrugged at him and motioned back with my hands signaling I missed the catch by mere inches. Heres a Seattle Mariners Security Guard Fun Fact for you; that’s the second time that specific security guard has been hit by a Joel Pineiro throw.

Batting practice came to an end and I left the ‘Pen area to find my seats. Here’s a view:

I didn’t stay here that long though. Maybe a few innings. I watched the entire game from the ‘Pen. Or the Party Deck as some like to call it. I normally don’t stand out there because it’s so crowded and anytime a baseball lands on the party deck everyone spills their beers on each other as they try to catch the baseball. The awesome part of sitting out here is look at the running room to my right…

…and check out my running room to my left…

The only bad part of the picture above is the railing in my way. But other than that, what great seats.

Here’s a picture of the Kings Court:

If you’ve never been to a Mariners game before and don’t have any idea what the “Kings Court” is, well, simply put? It’s a section at Safeco Field where fans buy a ticket in, they get a yellow “King Felix” shirt, a huge “K” sign and they all sit together. Everytime Felix Hernandez strikes someone out everyone in that section goes nuts. It’s quite entertaining. Unfortunately the crowds at Safeco Field aren’t quite as large as they were towards the start of the season. So the Kings Court was kind of wimpy during the game.

 

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Game; August 31st 2011 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Two

Attendance; 18,520

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $168.40 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $41.80 this
season

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