September 27th, 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.

Follow me on Facebook!  Follow me on Twitter!  Check out my Charity!

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

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