The most memorable part of this trip was probably meeting the last known surviving inmate to ever have served time at Alcatraz:
His name is Bill Baker and we spoke for a few minutes, he signed his book for me and we shook hands. It’s beyond me why I idolized this man so much. But I love history, I love crime documentaries and I’m always intrigued by the human mind as to why people do the things they do. I suppose that’s why I was so interested in meeting him even though I had no idea he would be doing a book signing on The Rock (as it’s informally called). My girlfriend and I, Alexandra decided to visit Alcatraz Island before we headed over to AT&T Park to watch the Giants play baseball. You can read that entry by clicking this link. We were both mesmerized and astonished at the sheer beauty and history that this place had to offer.
The other part of this trip that was truly interesting was the great escape. You may recall a movie with Clint Eastwood called Escape from Alcatraz made in 1979. Well, I saw the jail cell in which the three escapees escaped from first hand. Here’s a picture:
See the black hole on the back wall? That’s a vent that all three men crawled out of. They used small tools to literally chisel a hole big enough to crawl out of and climb out of the prison through the walls where the plumbing was. Then they crafted rubber floating devices and floated away from the island. No bodies were ever recovered so no one really knows if they made it or not. Some say sharks got them. Others say they died from rip currents or drowned. It was really interesting to see. Here’s a close up of the exact hole that they climbed out of:
What guts and determination it took to pull something like that off. Another factor in their escape was their ability to make fake heads (which were on display in the gift store) and place them in their beds which in turn bought them extra time to escape. The guards had no idea until they were long gone. Here’s what the bed looked like with a fake head in place:
And as you can see in the background the green colored vent has been removed off of the wall to show you just what was in place to make it look like the vent had not been tampered with. Of course, now-a-days our prison systems are much more elaborate and have less means available for prison escapes.
The island was massive. By the end of our self-guided tour, we were exhausted. We spent nearly all day trekking around on the three-tier island looking in every nook and cranny that we could find. A lot of the island was off limits due to repair or safety reasons and if I uploaded every picture we took of this massive place, I’d be posting pictures all day long and this blog entry would never end. It was awesome, though and I’m happy I went.
Here’s a few more pictures that we took:
The picture above is the old guards recreation quarters. This is where the guards have their dance parties, evening parties and everything else. The guards and prison staff, for the most part, lived on the island along with the inmates. During our tour on The Rock we also found out that some big names in crime history served their time here. Like Al Capone and James “Whitey” Bulger. Click this link for a full-list of all the “gangsters” that served some time on Alcatraz.
Here’s a picture of my lovely girlfriend, Alexandra:
Our final stop after Alcatraz was the infamous Ghirardelli chocolate factory. It wasn’t far from one of the marina’s and after we ate dinner where we had a gorgeous view of Alcatraz…
…we snapped a couple pictures of the entrance to the shop, went inside to get some chocolate and then headed back to our hotel.
What an amazing trip. Next up: The Cayman Islands!
Stay tuned, readers!
Awesome couple of games at the Sydney Cricket Grounds! I had a great time walking around, seeing the sights, learning about the history there and watching some Major League Baseball!
As you could probably imagine, I didn’t sit in my assigned seating while attending the games. I met up with Zack Hample and we pretty much wandered all over the place taking pictures, eating crappy stadium food and catching baseballs. Here’s a picture of the lone baseball I caught during the weekend series:
It was thrown to me by David Hernandez.
So let me begin from the time I got to the stadium. I managed to eat this monster burger prior to game time…
…it was massive. And messy. And it fell apart in my hands and I basically needed a fork to eat it by the time the burger made the bun all soggy. But it was soooooo good! It had organic lettuce and beets on it and BBQ sauce and mayo… yum!
After lunch I ran into Zack outside and we had our pictures taken in front of the Sydney Cricket Grounds:
Yeah, I was wearing an Arizona Diamondbacks hat because I needed something to cover my head. The sun has been intense the last couple of days and the top of my head was sun burnt. They didn’t have Dodgers hats in my size so I opted for a Dbacks one. After picture time, we ran inside. The stadium was beautifully put together for Major League Baseball-and when the clouds started to darken and the rain started to come in, we ran for cover and started taking more pictures. It was an absolute gorgeous stadium.
Once the game got started, I sat first row in front of the Miller Party Deck. The seats were so crappy that the first six rows were empty because you couldn’t see the field. It was a horrible set up but I took full advantage of sitting that close to the outfield.
Even though Paul Goldschmidt went 2-4 with a single and a double, Kershaw was on the mound and after the Dodgers took a quick 1-0 lead in their top half of the 2nd inning, it only took a Scott Van Slyke -run bomb down the right field line to solidify a win for the Dodgers.
The final score was 3-1 Dodgers and Kershaw earned his first win of the 2014 MLB season.
The second game was much more exciting. After meeting up with another Ballhawk from San Diego, Leigh and his wife Dolly, Zack and I headed back out to the Miller Party Deck. We pretty much talked about baseball and played catch throughout the entire game, though.
The Dodgers struck early taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first and never looked back. By the top of the eighth inning, it was 7-0 Dodgers. Until Mark Trumbo started to make things happen. Jumping on a fast ball, he buried a two-run shot into the left field bleachers. 7-5 Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth. I was hoping for a solid comeback by the Diamondbacks but with three errors throughout the game and some sloppy pitching, the damage had already been done and the ball game was nearing an end.
The Dodgers have swept the two game series in Australia and would go home the winners.
I really don’t have any plans for the rest of my stay in Australia. I’ll probably get caught up on some blogging (like right now) and manage some of my other websites. Maybe sit around and drink some coffee in the lobby or just kick around town. It’s supposed to rain for the next four days, so I will continue to check the weather and plan accordingly.
I did make a rough draft of what I’d like to do this season regarding trips to baseball stadiums, etc…
I have made a tentative plan:
April 8th-12th: I’ll be in San Francisco and on the 9th I plan to make it out to AT&T Park. I have been there before and I’m hoping to get a Hunter Pence bobblehead.
May 10th-14th: I plan to return to San Francisco for more baseballs games.
July 19th: I plan to attend the 25th anniversary of the 1989 World Series reunion in Oakland.
August 1st: Traveling to Houston to try to get a Lance Berkman bobblehead and it’ll be my first time seeing Minute Maid Park.
August 9th: Traveling to Cincinnati to see Ken Griffey Junior get inducted in the Reds HOF.
September 13th: Paul Goldschmidt bobblehead night at Chase Field- never been there before.
Everything is subject to change and probably will change. Hopefully it all goes as planned.
I also hope to make it to the All-Star game this year, too.
I have a couple new websites, so check those out!
When I think back on my childhood and all the Mariners games I attended with my Dad, all that comes to mind is Randy Johnson striking out like, a billion baseball players. Randy Johnson was one of the most fearless, intimidating, gritty, nasty baseball players of all time. If only the Mariners had a pitcher like that today…
…the guy who comes the closest to the Big Unit is Tom Wilhelmsen. Yeah, he’s the Mariners closer, but look at him. I know he’s not seven feet tall like Randy is, but he comes awfully close. Plus, he’s gotten so good on the mound this last season, its getting the to point where we might have ourselves a solid closer. During BP, and after the Mariners portion had ended, I flagged Tom down and congratulated him on his new closer role. When he shook my hand, it felt like he had enough power to crush mine! It was incredible! The man was born to throw strikes! Here we are hanging out after BP:
After hanging out with Tom for a few moments, I wandered the stadium aimlessly. Since I’m not chasing down baseballs during BP anymore, things aren’t as thrilling. And the point of not chasing baseballs anymore is to get away from medicore blog writing. The same thing every day at the same stadium? It could get a little boring.
I sat in the bleachers and watched Albert Pujols for a while. The man is so…broken. And old. I feel so bad for him. He took a few cuts in the batting cage and then he decided to run the bases while the other, more younger, better players took some hacks. He didn’t even finish his rounding the bases. It’s like he gave up at second base and decided to call it a day…
…if you can tell, I’m not a Pujols fan at all. And it’s got everything to do with him uprooting and leaving St. Louis. I understand he has to do what’s best for his family and blah blah blah, and in all fairness to the Cardinals fans, that city poured their heart and soul into him. They even built him a statue. He wouldn’t even sign the World Series team ball.
I pulled up a spot to admire the ‘Pen from above. And this is what I noticed:
Hopefully these guys have a plan to get home, right? Besides any of them driving.
The game was actually very entertaining. The Mariners had the bases loaded twice and could not capitalize on either chance to score. And like one of last weeks games, third base coach Jeff Datz managed to send Justin Smoak into score where he was thrown out by a mile! I’m not sure what Datz sees in Smoak. He’s one of the slower Mariners and Datz keeps sending him home in tight scoring situations! Anyway.
The Mariners lost to the Angels 6-3 in nine innings of play. Nothing spectacular.
Bud Norris’ Charity; CandleLighters- 3 W and 16 strikeouts have raised $10 this season.
Seattle Mariners/Seattle Humane Society Charity; 9 wins have raised $9 this season.
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I spent a lot of my first couple of years going to baseball games knee-deep in St. Louis Cardinal territory. I know, feel bad for me, right? I wasn’t a huge Cardinal fan by any means and I did put my living in the midwest to good use by traveling to other baseball cities like Chicago, Kansas City and even as far as Texas. While I was doing my thing at Busch Stadium, I did get the chance to meet Bronson Arroyo. I can’t recall which game it was or even the year because it was so long ago, but what I do remember was he was a super nice guy to me and so friendly.
He was down the third base line signing some autographs and as he started to walk by I quickly called out to him if he’d be willing to take a picture with me:
That wasn’t the only time I’ve met up with Arroyo. I’ve also met him outside of Busch Stadium when he was on his way back to the hotel (he declined signing an autograph because of his arthritic elbow) and I met him at a special Reds/fan meet and greet I attended a few years ago. He couldn’t sign autographs then either but offered pictures. Really awesome guy.
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A couple of weeks ago, I played some “#BuccosTrivia” on Twitter. The last time I played a game on Twitter regarding baseball teams, I played a Seattle Mariners Twitter game to help Brandon League pick a Twitter handle. Alas, I became victorious! You can read all about that here.
I really didn’t expect to win, and my original answer was wrong anyway. I had a Twitter follower help me with the correct answer and TADA! I won an awesome Pittsburgh Pirates t-shirt!
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.
AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, would be my eighth stadium I’ve visited in my lifetime. But it’s always a little nerve-racking to visit a new stadium because I know very little about the architecture of the stadium, and I’m absolutely clueless of how the inside of the park is set up. So when I got to the park on Saturday morning I planned to get there early enough to allow me some time to explore the entire ballpark and try to get the upper hand on some knowledge before I enter. Todays game was set to start at 4:10pm which meant the gates should open around 2:10pm. To my surprise they opened at 1:55pm. An extra 15 minutes of BP never hurt anyone…
On my way in from my hotel I stopped at Candlestick Park. That’s where the Giants used to play baseball. Now the stadium just belongs to the San Francisco 49ers. Here are some pictures I took of Candlestick Park:
It was kind of awesome to be around that stadium because of all the history that has taken place there. Baseball and football. But the Giants now played in AT&T Park and that’s where I was headed.
It took forever to get to the stadium, by the way. If it weren’t for the road signs that directed my every turn I would have been lost. My GPS crapped out on me about the time I exited the freeway. I’ll have to say; of all the stadiums I’ve been to AT&T Park was the hardest to find. Yeah, its huge and its a stadium. But it’s well hidden. When I arrived I expected to see thousands of people already at the gates. But it was like a ghost town for the most part. So I wandered around looking at the park and surrounding areas. I even visited the team store. The Giants team store is by far the largest I’ve ever seen and they had so much Giants gear it was incredible!
The team store even had three showcase windows full of autographed baseballs. Mainly from Tim Lincecum, Willie Mays, Brian Wilson, and Will Clark. And all of them were over $100 dollars. And all of them were signed in black ink. If you’re an autograph collector you’d know better than to have baseballs signed with black ink. Blue ink is ideal and after you get the baseball signed you spray a light coat of hairspray on the ball to “set” the autograph. The reason why you don’t use black ink to sign on a baseball is because black ink fades. And never, ever use a sharpie to get a baseball signed. The ink just soaks into the cowhide and within a year your autograph will fade way. It doesn’t matter if you place the signed baseball in one of those UV protected ball cubes and store it in your closet. Anyway. Enough of autographs 101.
I took some more pictures of around the stadium. Check `em out.
The last picture is of McCovey Cove. Now you get a history lesson on baseball. Why did they name that area McCovey Cove? McCovey Cove is the unofficial name of a section of San Francisco Bay beyond the right field wall of AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, coined after famed Giants first baseman Willie McCovey. The proper name for the cove is China Basin, which is the mouth of Mission Creek as it meets the bay. The cove is bounded along the north by AT&T Park, with a ferry landing and a breakwater at the northeast end. The southern shore is lined by China Basin Park and McCovey Point. To the east, it opens up to San Francisco Bay , while the west end of the cove is bounded by the Lefty O’Doul Drawbridge. And that brings us to this picture.
This is the O’Doul gate. This is also the gate where I entered the ballpark. As you can see it’s not a gate where you can walk in and go right to the field. It has about a million stairs to climb before you reach the field. And now for a second history lesson in baseball. Why did they name this gate the O’doul gate? Because Francis Joseph “Lefty” O’Doul was a minor league player that played with the San Francisco Seals, and also played professional ball for many teams including the New York Yankees and the New York Giants. He also managed the San Francisco Seals where he was the skipper of the infamous Hall of Famer Joe Dimaggio. O’Doul was a career .349 hitter and left the game with 113 home runs and 542 RBIs. Not only did he get one of the gates at AT&T Park named after him but he also got the drawbridge that people cross over McCovey Cove named after him too.
Today was also 2010 World Series champion hat giveaway day. The first 20,000 fans would receive a hat. I had no interest in getting a hat but I figured I’d snag one on the way in and then give it to a kid that didn’t get one later on in the day. I took this picture to show you just how many stairs I had to climb to get to field level. Take a look.
Since there were 20,000 people trying to get a hat security actually organized the onslaught of people quite well. They made it very clear which turnstiles would be open and they checked bags prior to the gates being opened to save on time. I appreciated that. And at 1:55pm they scanned our tickets, and allowed us to enter AT&T Park. I scampered through the turnstile, grabbed my World Series champion hat, and raced up the stairs. One I got to the top there was an open section that I darted through and I was on field level. BP was in full swing so I immediately started to scavenge for stray baseballs in the rows. I had the entire first base side to myself for about three minutes and I easily found two baseballs in the sections. The rows are slightly tighter here then they are at any other baseball stadium I have been to. So the baseballs were tucked away quite well. Here’s my view once I settled on a spot against the padded wall on the first base side.
AT&T Park kind of has that old school look with the bullpen out in foul territory. Just like at the Oakland Coliseum. (I refuse to call it Overstock.com Coliseum) Here is another pictures with the Giants on the field.
One thing I took notice of is that when the Giants fans calls out to the players for them to throw a baseball into the crowd they’re a little more demanding and they seem to forget to say “thank you” afterwards. I also noticed that people who drive in the San Francisco area are the worst drivers I’ve seen so far. I’ve been to many states and many cities too. But that didn’t stop the Giants from tossing baseballs into the crowd. I think they threw a total of three baseballs. I moved around quite a bit but I stayed close to the first base side. That was the side the Oakland Athletics used so after about 15 minutes of standing around I decided to put on my Athletics hat and I wandered back down to the front row. Just as I did a sharp line drive came right at me. It landed a few rows up and took a bounce right off the seats as I was giving chase, and bounced right to me. I was actually that guy that got the lucky bounce. I thought that was extra awesome even though I got heckled by some Giants fan in the front row. He kept asking for the baseball. I laughed a few times but he kept asking. So I quit laughing and ignored him.
When the Athletics came out to stretch, throw the ball around, and do their thing I noticed a section out in the outfield that was barricaded off and people were standing there. Like, a lot of people. Check out the picture below and look on the right side of the picture where my red arrow is. Eventually, as batting practice continued, that section filled up quite a bit. I’m not sure of the details of how to get there or if it’s just for season ticket holders or what. Even if I knew about that spot I probably wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to stand in there just because it’s such a small spot and not a lot of room to move.
Besides. Lining up behind Jerry Blevins (who just got designated for assignment) and Brad Ziegler was way cooler than standing out in a barricaded area on the field with a bunch of Giants fans. (no offense) Not to mention while I was standing there, texting my Mother, a frozen rope line drive was hit right to me. All I heard was “heads up!” and in that split second that I looked up I stuck my glove up and snagged it. Then I went back to texting. It kind of reminded me of that Evan Longoria commercial where he bare hands that baseball that nearly took out the reporter. If you haven’t seen it you can view it on Youtube.com or something. It’s pretty funny. But fake. But my catch wasn’t fake at all. All this happened within the first 30 minutes of BP. Four baseballs in 30 minutes at AT&T Park. A stadium that I had no idea about, never been to before, and made me really want to come back! I just kept thinking of how run-down the Oakland Coliseum was and couldn’t help to appreciate AT&T Park. I couldn’t imagine being a baseball player and being forced to play in a dump like the Coliseum. It would drive me mad. I bet those guys are always looking forward to road trips to Safeco Field, Target Field or even U.S Cellular Field.
Anyway. Here is a picture from behind home plate.
I took this picture to show just how crowded BP would be in the beginning. AT&T Park has sold out in 18 consecutive games but that doesn’t mean BP would be so crowded that there wouldn’t be a snow balls chance in hell in getting a baseball. That’s what worried me the most. The 40,000 plus people showing up for BP.
I stayed inside the stadium for the first couple of innings and then decided to wander McCovey Cove. There weren’t a whole lot of kayakers in the water and no sign of the Bond’s Navy. But there were some interesting characters to say the least.
And this area is for people who want to stand for nine innings and not pay for a ticket. AT&T Park actually lets people watch baseball for free! I think that is really awesome that MLB allows that. Especially since AT&T Park runs on a “by demand” system for tickets. The cheapest you can get into the park is $12 dollars. But those tickets sell out so fast that most people end up paying $100 dollars for a Standing Room Only ticket. Which that’s absolute crap. And security is a stickler on standing outside the yellow “SRO” area.
In the above picture that’s the “free” area. And in the below picture that’s the view of the “free” area.
It’s actually a very good view. Its better than a lot of “SRO” areas and some seats inside the park. So if you like free baseball and if you like the Giants and if you’re in San Francisco when the Giants are playing and if you really don’t care if you get inside or not… well, this is the place to hangout. It’s right by McCovey Cove. You can’t miss it.
But I like being inside the stadium. Can’t you tell?
I had to get my tickets on Stubhub.com because on the Giants website all that were available were $164.00 tickets. So I bought some $30 dollar “cheap” tickets and ended up at the 300 level. They were actually pretty awesome seats with a more than awesome view.
I finally got to watch Tim Lincecum pitch. He pitched the entire game and shutout the Athletics 3-0. That was his fifth shutout of the season and his 9th career complete game. He pitched around 130 pitches I think. The guy truly is a freak.
I’m also snagging baseballs for charity this year. I have two ongoing projects and down below you can see how much money I’ve raised so far this year. So I wanted to give a shout out and thanks to all that have participated and donated this year. It’s very helpful and I appreciate it. If you want to donate or at least get some addition information, by all means. You can either leave a question/comment on this blog entry or go to this website. http://www.crowdrise.com/SnaggingBaseballsforPuppies/fundraiser/WaynePeck
Game; May 21st 2011 Oakland Athletics vs San Francisco Giants
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $32.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $14.00 this season