4-10-2012 Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

Today would prove to be another awesome day at the Coliseum. Although, rainy, wet and soggy, I had a great time! The rain started as soon as I crawled out of bed around 8am and it never let up. I knew batting practice wasn’t going to happen today but I decided to go to the game anyway. I’ve been to a lot of games where batting practice wasn’t in session and I still walked away with at least one baseball. In fact, if you’re interested in statistics, March 29th 2012 at the Tokyo Dome was my 100th consecutive game snagging at least one baseball.

I took the hotel shuttle to the Coliseum about an hour before the gates opened. This was the line when I got there:

The line didn’t change much, either. While I was standing there, I had sort of a brain fart. I purchased tickets to the same section that I sat in last nights game (which I should’ve kept). I started to think that since there would be such a low attendance tonight, I could sit behind the Royals dugout and shag third out baseballs! I grabbed my back pack and hauled ass over to the ticket window to upgrade my ticket. I now had in my possession a ticket one row behind the Royals dugout on the aisle! This seat was ideal for catching the third out baseballs that the players throw into the bleachers. I was also sitting in foul territory with a very little competition factor.

Once inside, I knew I’d be seeing something similar to this:

I absolutely knew this was what today was going to be like. But I wasn’t in panic mode because I had seats behind the dugout that pretty much guaranteed me a baseball. I walked the entire concourse of the stadium and when I looked towards the visitors bullpen, I spotted a little white speck underneath the bench. I blinked a few times, rubbed my eyes and started heading that way. Yes, a baseball was on the field, underneath the bench of the bullpen and I was going to get it one way or another. Unfortunately, the only way to get it would be one of three ways: glove trick it (which is outlawed at the Coliseum), wait for a player to come by and ask for it, or ask security for it. All three options were a long shot but I had to try anyway.

Here’s an overhead view of the visitors bullpen with a red arrow pointing to where the baseball was:

When I went down there to get the baseball, I asked one of the Coliseum ushers if he thought the security guard would be nice enough to toss me the baseball. He quickly told me he didn’t want any part of that and sort of walked away. I thought to myself, “well, there went that.” But he actually came back and told me to ask the security guard to see if it would happen or not. When the guard got a free moment, I walked over to him and asked him if he’d be able to toss me the baseball. He immediately put his hands up and told me the baseball was not his to give away. Fair enough.

I’ve been going to enough baseball games to know the rules when it comes to security guards and baseballs. When I would go to games at Busch Stadium there was a security guard that would actually go into the dugouts and get pockets full of baseballs and hand them out to certain fans. Cute kids, babies, young boys dressed up in baseball swag usually got the majority. It was rare for a security guard to hook up an older fan like myself with a ball. They always give people the run-around. That’s what bothers me the most. I wish some of these guards would just be upfront and honest. But hey, whatever. Moments later, while I was engaged in conversation with the two Coliseum ushers, the guard flipped me the baseball:

I took the picture away from the field and without the security guard in view because I didn’t want to put the guy on the spot. He really didn’t want to throw me the ball in the first place, but he did, which I’m grateful for, but I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. I talked with the two Coliseum ushers for a while longer, we chatted about baseball (of course) and I shared my charity information with them, too. One of them offered me seats right behind the Royals bullpen, which I would have taken, but I had awesome seats behind the dugout.

I stood around for roughly an hour taking various pictures of the Coliseum since there was no batting practice. It was very boring, and for the majority of the time I stood on the corner near the field staring into the Royals dugout. Here are a few pictures:

Eventually Jeff Francoeur came out and signed a few autographs, shook some hands, etc. That was probably the highlight of the evening. The Athletics announced that there would be a rain delay but it didn’t last long and soon the Royals were on the field warming up. Prime baseball snagging time!

The second ball of the evening came from another unidentifiable player just like at last nights game. Although, a friendly fellow ballhawk left a comment claiming yesterdays toss-up came from Kelvin Herrera. I updated my stats on MyGameball.com accordingly but I still couldn’t identify this guy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a better picture and in the above photo, I couldn’t even tell you where he is. All I know is after two Royals finished up playing catch, I flapped my glove at the baseball holder and he threw me a bullet that smacked right into my glove:

I waited around for an additional few minutes to see if I could get another toss-up but that was pretty much the end of it. I stuck around for the National Anthem, of course, and then moved on to find my seats. Check out empty my section was:

The above photo was the seats to my right…

 

…and in the picture that you just looked at, that is farther down the first base side. As you can see, there weren’t a whole lot of people attending tonight’s contest. And since I upgraded my tickets to sit behind the dugout, I thought I’d have a fair amount of opportunity for a third out ball and foul baseballs.  Foul balls? Not so much. Guess where they all went? Yup! In section 217, 218 and 219. Section 219 was where I originally decided to sit before I came up with the bright idea to move. But not all was lost. Not only did I get to sit next to Danny Duffy’s mother…

…and not only did I get to sit through 8 innings of constant rain…

…and not only did I sit through two rain delays…

…and not only did I catch a third out baseball from Chris Getz, but the Oakland Athletics have announced that anyone that attended tonight’s game would get a complimentary game on the house for gutting out the rain delays! How awesome is that?! I’d say that’s just another excuse for me to fly back to the Oakland Coliseum and watch more baseball in that old run down piece of crap of a stadium! Wouldn’t you agree?

The actual game, though, was pretty one-sided. Duffy held the Athletics to just one in six innings pitched and Mitch Maier had the only home run of the game. There were a few foul balls that came within snagging distance of me, but the majority, like I said, went up to the upper levels. I’ll be seeing you soon, Oakland. Very soon…

 

I’m snagging baseballs for puppies again this season for the Seattle Humane Society! If you want to check out my charity information, just click here!

Last season, with the help of all of you, we were able to raise over $250 dollars! This year I’d like to break $300!

Today’s game snagging Highlights: Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics- attendance 10,067

Baseballs snagged: three (security guard toss-up , toss-up by unidentified Royals player and snagged third out ball from Chris Getz)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 11

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $11.74

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 6

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

4-9-2012 Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

Like I’ve stated many times before, I refuse to call this place the “O.Co Coliseum.” It’s a horrible name for such a great stadium with such unique, awesome fans. So when you read these entries regarding my visits to the Oakland Coliseum, you will always, always read “Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.” Period.

When I arrived at the coliseum, I met up with a long time friend, Deirdre. She drove up from southern California to attend this game with me and we had a blast! I never knew the Oakland Coliseum could be so much fun and I urge anyone that’s in the area when the Athletics are playing at home, to attend at least one game. Tickets are dirt cheap and there are plenty of seats available!

We hit up the ticket window to get our seats for the day, and this was the line:

After we got our tickets (which I may add right now, these seats will play a pivotal role in my success later on…) we got a lady to get our picture before she hurried off…

…after that, we visited the team store to try on some Athletics swag…

…and as you can tell, like in Japan, I’m wearing my “Chuck Knoblauch Follows Me” shirt, again! Why? Because it’s become one of my most favorite baseball shirts, kind of like this one that I wore at Safeco Field last year, and because Chuck Knoblauch was, and still is, one of my favorite baseball players to this date. I even wrote a special blog entry called “An Ode to Chuck Knoblauch“. Check it out if you have the time.

After clowning around in the Athletics team store, Deirdre and I did a lap around the Coliseum just so she could see this old relic. Deirdre told me she hadn’t been to the Coliseum since she’d attended high school. That was roughly ten years ago. Not much has changed. I was a little shocked to see the lack of fans tailgating in the parking lot as we walked around the stadium and I was a little shocked at the lack of fans in general. I still can’t get over the fact that hardly anyone comes to these games. The stadium isn’t that bad on the inside, and even though I’ve called the stadium a “dump” and a “relic” it’s actually very beautiful in a sense that so much baseball history has happened here. I’d seriously hate to see the Athletics go anywhere else, and rumor has it, by the year 2015, they won’t be in Oakland anymore.

One thing that caught my eye while we were walking around is this:

The Athletics put this entry together a week or so ago to allow season ticket holders a special entrance into the Coliseum. Although, there aren’t any special perks to entering the Coliseum through this way, it just allows people with season ticket credentials to enter without having to deal with the other 25 people entering at D gate.

Deirdre and I sat down at D gate for the remainder of our time while we waited for the Coliseum to open at 5:35pm. The gates open roughly 90 minutes before game time, just for your information. While we were waiting in line, I told Deirdre that this was my third visit to the Oakland Coliseum. I visited the Coliseum last season on opening day and on April 2nd 2011. I also made a last-minute trip to Oakland on September 21st 2011 as well.  So this would be my fourth game at the Coliseum, and as I explained all of this, Deirdre said, “Wow, Wayne. You’ve been to more games at the Coliseum than regular Athletic fans that actually live in Oakland!” There might be some truth to that.

Right before the gates opened, the line looked like this:

And when the gates “opened”, everyone scampered (including me) to the security tables to get their bags checked and to gain entrance inside. Three young boys in front of me got their bags checked and were allowed all the way to the second security gate seen here…

…but were instantly recalled. I’m not sure why, I guess someone jumped the gun in the management department. So more waiting. Another five minutes passed and I was able to see inside to view which team was on the field for batting practice. I saw one player wearing a blue jersey…so that meant the Athletics were already off the field and the Royals were out taking BP.

Once all 30 fans were allowed to enter the stadium, I ran inside and made a bee-line for foul territory that eventually would lead me up to the right field seats near the foul pole. I’ve always had great success in this spot, so I didn’t want to go elsewhere. Besides, when I initially ran in, I found this:

And within the next five minutes I was able to get a toss-up from an unidentified player in the right field (I think it’s Eric Hosmer). Here’s a picture of him:

I’ll admit; it’s a crappy picture, and you really can’t see his face. I looked through my MLB At Bat app on my iPhone trying to find this guy, but the only person I came close to was Joakim Soria. But he’s out for Tommy John surgery. If anyone can help me identify this player, shoot me a comment. Much appreciated.

Here’s me chillin` out in my spot in right field:

It wouldn’t be long until I snagged my third baseball on the night. And this would be a good one, too! Remember when I bought my ticket? I specifically asked for section 218 and asked for an aisle seat that was as close to the field as possible. Well, this is where I ended up sitting with my friend, Deirdre:

Can you believe that?! Four rows from the field behind home plate! Foul ball heaven, right? Oh, you are so right, my friend! Three foul balls came relatively close to where I was seated and one man to my right decked out in Giants swag was able to nab one of them and the other floated to my left where it banged off the railing. If perhaps the two fans that were in pursuit would have pursued a lot faster, I’m sure someone would have come up with it. The foul ball that I caught came off the bat of Coco Crisp in the bottom of the first inning. Well, I can’t say I really caught it. It was more of a high arching foul that drifted about two rows behind me. I made an attempt to my left for it but I was blocked by fans. So I turned to my right, took about two steps up and watched a fan holding a beer take the ball off his chest. The ball landed in the row right in front of me and I was able to snatch it up pretty quickly:

In all the 132 games I’ve attended, this was my first foul ball during the game. Well, except for a foul ball that was tossed to me by an umpire at Kauffman Stadium years ago. In 2010, I caught a lot of third out baseballs from players at Busch Stadium. But those weren’t foul balls. They were actual baseballs used in live games, though. So that’s pretty special.

During the fifth inning, Deirdre treated the both of us to this:

I’m telling you; this was a massive bowl of nachos. It was more food for any one man to defeat but I accomplished that feat. I can now say I’ve officially conquered a nachos bowl at the Oakland Coliseum. It was so awesome-ly good, I considered eating what Deirdre couldn’t finish. But I was so overly worried about another foul ball coming my way, I decided to pass on the second nacho bowl (even though I think I can eat two). And just for the record, it took me an entire Major League baseball regulation inning to finish this bad boy.

Around the 6th inning or so, as I was sitting there kind of staring off into la la land, someone approached me.

Are you Wayne?” the guy said.

Huh? Me?” I responded sort of half dazed and surprised that someone out of no where knew my name.

Yeah. Is your name Wayne?” he said again and extended his hand for a handshake.

My initial thought? I was in some sort of trouble or something. But there was no trouble. No trouble at all. It was an employee from Major League Baseball here to interview me regarding my charity work for the Seattle Humane Society. Earlier in the day, I had sent out a bunch of tweets on Twitter that I’d be attending the Athletics game in Oakland. I’m not sure if that’s where they got my information, or even who got my information or even how they found me in the Oakland Coliseum! But they found me! Anyway. I was able to speak about my charity and talk about my trip to Japan and all that, and I was told that the interview would be posted on MLB.com/Cutfour. It’s a new website that Major League baseball has came up with to involve fans in the game. It’s a pretty cool sight and all the teams have one. Here’s the tweet after the game:

The Athletics actually played some very good baseball. Josh Reddick was able to throw out Kansas City Royals baserunner, Jason Bourgeois, from right field to third base in the first inning on an amazing throw off his back leg. Donaldson, at third, made a great tag on Bourgeois and essentially blocked him from even getting in to touch the base. Athletics rookie, Tom Milone pitched eight shutout innings, gave up three hits and walked three. Pretty impressive. I can’t say the same for Royals rookie pitcher, Mendoza as he picks up the loss. And history also visted the Oakland Coliseum tonight. Kurt Suzuki played in his 600th game as an Athletics catcher! I was surprised when he got absolutely no recognition other than the tweet I sent to @TheAsGame on Twitter!

I’m snagging baseballs for puppies again this season for the Seattle Humane Society! If you want to check out my charity information, just click here!

Last season, with the help of all of you, we were able to raise over $250 dollars! This year I’d like to break $300!

Today’s game snagging Highlights: Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics- Attendance- 10,054

Baseballs snagged: three (found , toss-up by Eric Hosmer and snagged Coco Crisp foul ball)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 8

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $7.72

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 6

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

Media Links

Hello, all! Wow, it’s like I was just blogging about something yesterday! Oh, wait! I was! If you missed it, here’s a short rundown of the important details and then we will move on. Yesterday, I posted an important blog entry for my charity. Over the years I have collected close to 75 autographed baseballs and I’ve pulled the best 20 out of the pile to auction them off for my charity. So far, it’s been a success. In less than 24 hours, I’ve been able to auction off four baseballs that brought in a total of $85 dollars so far! That is really awesome and for those that have purchased those baseballs, you don’t know how appreciative I am! If you’re interested in helping out, click here, and you’ll be off and running!

Okay. The last couple of years, I’ve been doing my best to get the word out about Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. There have been some trying times trying to connect the media to get the word out and there has also been some fantastic success! For those that have helped me promote my charity, I can’t thank you enough. Even if you don’t plan on donating or pledge any money towards the baseballs that I catch during games, spreading the word is the next best thing and I appreciate it and so does the Seattle Humane Society. I’d like to give credit where credit is due, and personally thank those that have helped, in this blog entry.

The first media credential that I hold is from the Millcreek View. The Millcreek View is a local newspaper in a small town near where I grew up as a kid. I sent the editor a friendly email and they finally called me after a few days for an interview last year. I also sent them some of my recent pictures of me at stadiums I’ve visited. Take a look at the screen shot:

I also blogged about this the day I got the newspaper, too. You can read about that here.  If you squint, you can read the entire article and as you can see, I’ve made a lot of progress since this article has been written. I’ve been to 14 different stadiums and snagged nearly 250 baseballs. Last year, with my donors help, we raised $257 bucks!

Seattle Dog Spot is one of my favorite websites regarding dogs. As you can tell (with my charity and all) I’m a huge dog lover. So naturally I flock to these kinds of websites. I actually never contacted this website, initially, to have an article ran on me. I was innocently googling around on the internet one evening and when I googled “snagging baseballs for puppies” I came across this article:

That’s just a screen shot that I took from the website. You can read the entire article by clicking this link!

Have you ever wanted to get on the radio and talk about something important to you or something near and dear to your heart? Well, there is this radio show out in Boston called the Shady Lady Sports Show that I contacted, explained what I do for the Seattle Humane Society and was able to call in one Sunday morning. It was so much fun, I wish I could do it every day of my life! These guys are really easy to talk to, they’re knowledgeable in sports and they make a smooth transition with topics they talk about. The show airs every Sunday from noon to 1:30pm EST and they have an array of topics they talk about. Nothing is left out and I urge you to follow them on Twitter and like their Facebook page! Will you do that for me, please? If anything, tune into their show and listen. It’s really good stuff! And here’s the link where you can listen to me yap about my charity! Fast forward to about the 24:00 minute mark if you want to get right to it. But you should listen to the entire show.

This year I got another article written up on me from Seattle Dog Spot! Like I mentioned before, Seattle Dog Spot is one of my favorite websites I follow. They too are on Twitter! Give them a follow, if you have the time. And here’s a screen shot of my second article:

I have to give a shout out to Robert Pregulman for doing this twice! These are great articles and if you want to read the entire thing, just click this link!

A good friend of mine (whom I intend to meet one day) wrote up a great blog entry on his blog the other day and included a few charities that others like me are involved in. These charities are great to support and if you have the time, you should definitely look into making a pledge or donating some small amount of cash. After all, it’s for a good cause. Check out this write-up about the four major charities currently running to help out kids and animals! And here is the screen shot:

Lasty, while I was at the Oakland Coliseum on April 9th, I was spotted by Major League baseball and interviewed by Alex Espinoza. He’s works with the Athletics on a new project they started this year called Cut4. They capture crazy things fans and baseball players do and put them up on a website. My interview didn’t exactly make the headlines (or the website for that matter) but I was pleased to offer my time and get an interview done! Here’s the video if you want to take a look:

 

 

 

Well, that’s about all I got for you, folks! Like I said, I appreciate all the articles, air-time and everything else involved in everyone supporting my charity! I can’t do it without you all, so just know that I sincerely appreciate what you’re doing, your time spent and your thoughts and donations!

Opening day is finally here! Or it was yesterday or last month…the bottom line is, baseball is back, baby!

Autographed Baseball Auction

Well, I’m all done tinkering with all the baseballs I could identify. I have about 22 signed baseballs that I will put up for purchase, and all proceeds will go to my charity. You can check out the details here. The charity is called, Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. Some rules that you need to know: I will not accept cash. There is no exception to this rule, whatsoever. Also, all prices are negotiable but understand this; once you donate and receive the baseball, I will not accept the baseball back. It’s yours to do whatever you want with it. And in the event that you do not like what you’ve received, this is a tax-deductible charitable organization. So in other words, if you are unhappy with what you’ve essentially donated for, you can get your money back at the end of the year (most of it, anyway). Or whenever you do your taxes next. I’m not trying to be unreasonable, I just wanted to point some of these things to you so we are all on the same sheet of music.

So without further ado…

First row from left to right: Troy Glaus, Alex Gordon, Dave McKay, Gary Mathews Jr

Second row from left to right: Brian Moehler, Bruce Chen, Max Scherzer, Dusty Baker

Third row from left to right: Mario Soto, Jose Cruz, Jerry Lynch, Brian Moehler

Fourth row from left to right: Melky Cabrera, Torii Hunter, Kevin Seitzer, Edison Volquez

Fifth row from left to right: Rick Hacker, Bud Norris, Colby Rasmus, Brian Moehler

Last row from left to right: Jim Maloney, Ryan Hanigan

Here’s how this is going to work. I’m going to make things fairly simple to reduce any kinds of problems that may arise. All you have to do to get a hold of one of these prized possessions is leave a comment below claiming which baseball(s) you want (first come, first serve). Secondly, send me an email with your name and address and I’ll take care of the rest! Make sure you go to Crowdrise.com to make your donation! Don’t worry about shipping costs and all that jazz. I’m not really prepared to set up any kind of auction system if someone comes to me with more money for a baseball. It’s simple ,first come, first serve. So if you see a ball you want, jump on it.!I’m not sure how fast these baseballs will go. Also, the Dusty Baker ball and the Ryan Hanigan ball, the signatures are a little faded. And none of these baseballs are on authentic Major League balls.

Now for the best part. I have a 2009 Cincinnati Reds team ball up for purchase as well. And here’s the kicker; since I got Joey Votto on a separate baseball, I’m combining the two! Here, take a look:

The team ball with all those signatures that you see? That’s on an official Major League baseball. The Votto signature isn’t. The reason why I didn’t use authentic MLB balls is because they’re like $15-25 dollars a piece and these Rawlings balls, although, just as good for signatures, were quite a bit cheaper. So I could get more of my favorite players on many more baseballs. I just want you to be aware of what type of baseballs these signatures are on.

Anyway, to wrap this up, I’m listing the prices below:

Troy Glaus: $20.00 (No longer available)

Alex Gordon: $20.00 (No longer available)

Dave McKay: $10.00

Gary Mathews Jr: $10.00 (No longer available)

Brian Moehler: $10.00

Bruce Chen: $10.00

Max Scherzer: $10.00 (No longer available)

Dusty Baker: $15.00 (No longer available)

Mario Soto: $35.00

Jose Cruz: $35.00

Jerry Lynch: $10.00

Melky Cabrera: $15.00 (No longer available)

Torii Hunter: $35.00 (No longer Available)

Kevin Seitzer: $25.00

Edison Volquez: $15.00

Rick Hacker: $10.00

Bud Norris: $20.00 (No longer available)

Colby Rasmus: $15.00 (No longer available)

Jim Maloney: $10.00

Ryan Hanigan: $15.00

2009 Cincinnati Reds w/ Joey Votto: $75.00

There’s your prices, folks! Throw some bids my way in the comments section and we will see what we can work out! Remember, shipping is free, and this is a tax deductible charitable organization! All proceeds go to my charity and I thank you for looking!

Extra stuff from my trip to Japan!

Well, I’m officially back to the states and it’s back to the daily routine for me. I’ll hopefully be taking a trip next week to watch the Athletics battle the Kansas City Royals at the Oakland Coliseum on April 9th and 10th, so if you’re in the area, come on by and say hello! After that, providing the game isn’t sold out, I’ll be attending the Seattle Mariners home opener on April 13th and possibly the following two games after that. But we all know things can get hectic and plans can change. So I’ll just play things by ear for now.

I wanted to share some interesting photos I got from Zack Hample after I had returned to the United States. If you read my latest two blog entries, you’ll know that I attended two games at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo Japan for the 2012 Major League Baseball season opener on March 28th and on March 29th. I had such an awesome time that I wanted to get my blogs done about the games before I left for the US. I finally got the last entry done about the time I was ready to board my flight from Japan to the United States. So things were a little rushed in that entry and I didn’t really insert all the pictures I wanted. Plus, I still have a lot to talk about concerning the actual trip to Japan instead of just the baseball games. I covered quite a bit of detail on my adventure to and from the Tokyo Dome, but I still left some things out, and like I said, things were rushed.

Okay, enough talk. Time to look at some pictures!

Here’s me getting my picture taken by Zack after we first met since our last visit at Safeco Field on June 15th 2011. Zack wanted to get a bite to eat and since I had already eaten something earlier, I wasn’t all that hungry. But it prompted me to get a craving for a hamburger the following day at the Dome.

What’s interesting about the above picture is this; people who come to attend baseball games lay down sheets of newspaper and tape them to the ground as sort of place saver. It’s actually pretty ingenious surrounded by a little bit of primitive ideology, wouldn’t you agree? When I was sitting in line with Zack on March 28th, plenty of people kind of came and went while their sheet of newspaper held their spot. And here’s a close up of what a Japanese newspaper looks like:

Interesting stuff, yeah?

Here’s a picture of me hanging out in the outfield looking onto the field for an opportunity to snag a baseball:

As you can see, there is plenty of room to run when the seats aren’t filled. There are no cross bars blocking or any other obstructions in the way. There aren’t any seat backs and the stairs and fairly easy to negotiate. It was pretty fun to shag baseballs at this stadium, for sure!

After BP, of course, we worked up quite an appetite. And although the food was pretty expensive, it was full of taste and worth the amount of money I paid. I ordered chicken on a stick and it was covered in some kind of sweet and sour BBQ sauce sort of like the scallops I had on Thursday morning at the fish market.

The next picture I’m about to show you was the “restricted” staircase that Zack and I found. It took us to the very top of the Tokyo Dome and eventually security shut us down. But it was so much fun to explore! The way we got up there was just as interesting, too. We literally sweet talked the guard into letting us up! Being that there was a language barrier made it all that much easier. Here’s me peeking out of the door and taking a picture:

And here are a couple of pictures of Zack and I just hanging out after batting practice ended:

 

 

Check out this next picture…

…see the yellow strip down the middle of the sidewalk? Well, that’s for blind people. They can use that to navigate the city or wherever they’re headed. Pretty cool, huh? At every intersection there are yellow pads that are covered with little bumps to alert blind people that the end of the sidewalk is near. Those are also placed before staircases going up and down, too.

Some other interesting facts that I observed while being in Japan is that people are very quiet and they keep to themselves. It’s very rare that you’ll find a person walking down the street with a cellphone glued to their ear while they yap loudly to whomever is on the other end. Also, Tokyo (and even Ueno, where I stayed) have these little alley ways that people generally do their business in. Meaning, where they eat or count their money or talk on their cellphones. Not where they do their business, business. You get what I mean. It’s sort of like, being super private. They don’t want to air their phone conversations and they don’t want people seeing them stuff their face with a McDonalds Big Mac or something like that. So they go down these alley ways, turn their backs to the street, and handle their issue. Also, ATM’s are very private. There is a frosted piece of glass in front of the ATM and the ATM really isn’t out in the open in the store like it is in America.

Like I stated before in my previous entry, taxi cabs are for the birds. They are expensive for one, and anywhere you want to go, you should walk. You’ll see more and it’s healthier for you. I suppose this is sort of turning into a “how-to” guide about Japan, but really I’m just sharing some pointers in case you get the urge to go see Japan. Learn the trains and the subways. It’ll save you time and money. Or like I’ve said twice before, just walk!

Last mention and then I’ll wrap this up. Yes, it’s more information on my charity. If you’re wondering how to become a donor for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies, just leave a comment or email me at WaynePeck@yahoo.com! It’s that easy! Leave me your name, where you’re from and how much you want to pledge per baseball! Or if you want to just donate $10 bucks, you can do that too! $10 bucks is the minimum you can donate and that’s a Crowdrise.com thing. Next season I’ll be changing my donation webpage to the webpage that the Seattle Humane Society has set up. Since the season already started, and I already have four donors, I didn’t want to confuse things. Here’s the link to my charity page, by the way.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a fantastic 2012 baseball season!

 

3-29-2012 Tokyo Dome

I woke up this morning at around 6am and got my day started right away. I’ve mastered my way around my hotel room (which is about the size of an airplane cockpit) and watched a little Japanese tv before I was ready to venture out for the day. Today was fish market day and I was pretty pumped about that. Oh, here’s a picture of my hotel room. See how small it is?

The door on the right is the bathroom and it’s literally so small that when I bend over to get dressed, I bump my backside on the door. I’m 6’0 225 (the blog minuses 5-10 pounds) and I need a lot of room. Farther into the room you can see the bed on the right. And that’s about all there is to my hotel room. I get my little window for fresh air and that’s about it. It’s no bigger than a prison cell. But it’s cozy so I dig it. And get this. It’s actually a double occupancy room! Two people can sleep here! So I guess that’s what the couch is for. Ha!

My plan for the day was simply this; I’d walk from my hotel, which is in Ueno, to the Tokyo Dome, which is in Tokyo, and then I’d head due south towards the fish market. When I got to the Tokyo Dome and started to head south, I sort of lost my bearings and ended up thinking I was walking in the wrong direction. From my hotel, the fish market it roughly 4-5 kilometers. Not a bad walk. That’s about 3 miles or so. But three miles is three miles and when you’re hoofing it through Japan, and everything looks relatively the same, it’s hard to stay on course and know exactly where you’re headed. I just knew I needed to head south. And after about an hour of walking “south” I gave up and hailed a cab. This cab ride ran me about 2,600 yen which is way more than I anticipated. But I got to the fish market. This was the view as I exited the cab:

I really didn’t do much research on the fish market prior to leaving my hotel room. All I knew were the basic rules, which boils down to not being a jerk in a foreign country. Rule number one stated that you aren’t allowed to touch anything or sample anything unless directed by the vendor. Common sense, I suppose. The second rule was no smoking. But I actually saw a lot of vendors smoking inside their shop. So maybe the rule didn’t apply to them. The third rule was, don’t bring oversized luggage that will block people or traffic. I just had my back pack on so I was good there. The first shop I stopped at offered me some scallops and some of these miniature lobster looking things. I tried both as I didn’t want to be rude and then I asked to take a picture of the shop. Check it out:

I also shelled out 300 Yen for some scallops because when I asked to take a picture, the young lady kind of wasn’t happy about it but let me anyway. On top of that, I tried a bunch of food she had out. I wanted to leave a good impression. I continued my journey through the fish market and I noticed a large crowd of people with cameras and video camcorders creating quite a ruckus half way down the street. My first thought was it may be a baseball player inside eating ramen or something. How cool would that be if I ran into Felix Hernandez or Jason Vargas at the fish market? I took off down the street passing this…

….and when I realized what was happening, I wasn’t very impressed anymore. It’s not that I’m some animal rights activist, it’s just that watching someone slaughter a fish really isn’t that cool for me. But apparently it’s a huge deal at the fish market. Everyone wants to see some yellow fin tuna guts, I guess. Here’s the crowd outside the shop video taping, and taking pictures:

I was able to get a quick picture of the tuna carcass after the crowd dispersed a little bit:

I continued to explore the fish market and I ended up in some huge warehouse I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be inside. I saw other people walking around that looked sort of like tourists. I figured if I wasn’t supposed to be inside I’d get yelled at by some angry warehouse worker. The warehouse looked like things were sort of winding down for the day. The fish market closed early in the afternoon so there wasn’t a whole lot going on when I walked inside it. I did see a squid/octopus looking thing in a bucket that was still alive and I saw a lot of clams, crabs, lobsters, and scallops all in containers full of water and ice. It really was a sight and I sort of regret not taking pictures. I just wasn’t sure if I was allowed to or not. This is what the entrance of the warehouse looked like, though:

I had to meet Zack Hample at the Tokyo Dome at 2pm for game two of the opening series at the Dome, so I decided I’d had enough fun at the fish market and it was time to head into Tokyo to take care of business. I’d eaten some scallops (even bought some) and almost got to see a guy gut a yellow fin tuna. Not too bad on the day.

As I headed out, I wasn’t quite sure which way to walk. I retraced the route that the cab driver took but eventually I was lost. Well, not really lost. Just…sorta lost. You understand. I found a street sign that directed me towards Ueno (which is where my hotel is at) so I just followed the street sign. Initially, it said 4km and after about an hour of walking, it said 3km. I was a little confused that I only traveled one kilometer on foot in an hour? I did manage to take a few photos while I was walking around. Since the fish market is located in Ginza, that’s mainly where I took my photos. There were lots of interesting things going on in Ginza. Since it’s like, a huge shopping area for women, there were some nicely dressed people in that area. I even saw the Ginza Bon Marche!

Here’s another picture of the downtown area:

When I finally gave up on walking, I hailed another cab and all I had to say was “Ichiro!” and the guy knew exactly where I wanted to go! Well, it wasn’t just like that, but I did mention Ichiro was at the Tokyo Dome. He got super excited and started laughing and saying “Go Mariners! Go Mariners!” I couldn’t help to laugh. It was truly a sight to remember. When I realized where I was at, finally, I asked the driver to stop and let me out. He thought I wanted to window down and when I flashed him a 1,000 Yen, he started to understand. I had about a quarter of a mile left to go until I reached the Tokyo Dome and I was super-exhausted (from lack of sleep) and I was so hungry! I wanted to try this burger joint at the Dome because Zack ate a hamburger there yesterday and it looked so delicious!

When I placed my order, I sort of confused the waitress. I ordered one cheeseburger and one hamburger with a glass of water and a glass of coke. She kept asking me if I was changing my order to a cheeseburger from a hamburger. It worked out in the end and this is what they brought out to me…

What? I’m an American! I eat and I eat a lot! I even got a couple of odd stares from people as I devoured both burgers. But let me tell you something. These two hamburgers were the best tasting, most flavourful, most juicy burgers I have ever eaten in my entire life. The meat was so, so fricken good! I can’t even put it into words how good they were. Of course, I had to pay an arm and a leg for them, but it was worth every Yen I shelled out for the meal. If you ever go to Japan, no matter where you go, get to the Tokyo Dome and visit this place! It’s so worth it.

I waited for Zack after my delicious meal for about ten minutes at the train station and then ventured off to find him. I found him at gate 11 and we were already facing a problem. You see, he had my ticket to get into the stadium. Well, actually it was his that he loaned out to me to get in. He wanted the ticket stub back which was fine with me. But his ticket was for gate 25 and my ticket was for gate 22. Gate 22 is behind home plate and gate 25 is near third base. We both wanted to get inside the stadium via left field entrance like yesterday and the security guard was already checking tickets. I think they had so many people trying to get into gates they weren’t supposed to get into that the guards were practicing a little pro-active-ness. Which is fine. It just sucks a little. Zack and I wandered to gate 25 and waited in line there. And when the gates opened up, Zack got in and my playing dumb role like yesterday didn’t fool anyone today. The guard actually escorted me out of line and pointed to gate 22. “Gate 22! You go now!”  he exclaimed. Wow. Okay, gate 22 it is!

Gate 22 was on the other side of the freaking stadium. I laced up my PF Flyers and booked it, I mean, booked it towards gate 22. I was flying, man. I’m telling you. I don’t know what it was, maybe the burgers, but my legs were pumpin`. I arrived at gate 22 with no line at all, they checked my bags, got the body scanner thing done, scanned my ticket, busted through the doors and hauled ass towards left field. I hit the brakes and made a bee line for the first row and started calling out to Brandon McCarthy for a toss-up when I got to left field. I lost maybe five minutes of batting practice at best, but the seats were filling up fast and I wanted to get on the board with at least one baseball as fast as I could. It wasn’t until the last few minutes of the Athletics portion of batting practice did I score my first baseball. I was able to get it via a new technique I made up on my own. It’s called “crow-hawking.” Basically, I let others call out to the players for a baseball and I kind of judge where the baseball might be tossed to from the player, line up behind that group of people and wait for the bobble or the dropped baseball, then I snatch it up! And that’s sort of what happened but with a BP home run ball. The ball caromed off the bleachers and bounced down to the first row of people, it bounced around, and I eventually got my hands on it. Possession! It counts! unfortunately, security was hot on it and as soon as I turned to run away, he was standing there asking for it. I couldn’t even get a picture of the baseball. And that’s why yesterday I really didn’t try for any BP home runs. I want documentation!

I won’t go too much more into detail about batting practice because it was pretty uneventful until about the last 10 minutes. I took up a spot in right center field and yelled my tail off to Steve Delabar when he got a baseball. I yelled and yelled and flailed my arms just like I did when Jesus Montero had a baseball. Steve looked at the baseball and sort of stared at me while I waved my arms. I started to feel like an idiot. But then he launched it my way. And it was dead on! I leaned back, took a deep breath and then saw a mess of baseball gloves closing in on the ball. I did everything short of getting physical to get my glove out in front of the growing pile and made the smooth catch! I gave Steve Delabar a thumbs up and pointed at him after I made the catch and got a few pats on the back from the locals. That was number two. Number three came from George Sherrill in left field and I had to sort of use my crow-hawking technique. Sherrill launched one my way and I wasn’t quite sure it was intended for me or for someone else. But the baseball seemed to have bounced off someone elses glove and the ball actually landed on my wrist not in my glove. I quickly secured the ball with my free hand and placed it back in my mitt. Feeeww!

Here’s the Delabar baseball…

…you can also see Shawn Kelley standing next to him. And here’s my George Sherrill baseball:

Tom Wilhelmsen and Charlie Furbush are on the right side of Sherrill. Anyway. So I bagged three baseballs on the evening, which for me, that’s pretty good, and especially good in a foreign land in a stadium I’ve never been to. Five baseballs total in two games. I really wasn’t interested in any third out baseballs or foul balls or home run balls either. I will say this about the Tokyo Dome security. For the most part, it’s easy to sweet talk your way through them. It’s easy to catch them off guard and sneak past. So if you ever end up going to a Major League game in the Tokyo Dome, remember that. Security is there to ensure safety, enforce the rules, but they’re human beings after all and if you can stay one step ahead of them, you’ll do just fine.

And remember; watch out for batted baseballs:

Here’s Zack and I hanging out after batting practice:

The next morning when I woke up, I started to pack and get my things ready to leave. I thought check-out was at like, 3pm but it was at 11am. Oops! Sorry! Anyway. I walked down for breakfast and when I returned it was like, 10 minutes to eleven. I started to blog about the first game at the Tokyo Dome and then I got a phone call from the front desk instructing me that check out was like, now! Helloo!! Time to leave, right? Well, I had to do one last thing before I left.

When I walked down stairs, I told the young lady at the counter that I had a gift for her. I pulled out one of the baseballs that I caught at the game and left one of my business cards as well. I wrote a nice little note on the back of my business card stating that I had a great time at the hotel and it was a great place to stay. And I truly did enjoy my stay. It was the quietest hotel I’ve ever stayed at in my life. I also told them that Ichiro hit the baseball I had given them. The young lady’s hands were actually shaking when I told her that. Ichiro is huge in Japan, we all know this.  Here’s a picture of them after I donated the baseball to the hotel:

And that pretty much concludes my trip! Unless you want to see pictures from the skyliner train from Ueno to Narita, that’s about all I got to show! I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip as much as I enjoyed visiting Japan! I’m not too sure where I’ll end up next as far as baseball games, but I am planning on visiting Oakland in April possibly for the Royals series. I think that would be a good start to the 2012 season after this epic trip, you think? Anyway, if you’re in Oakland, drop me a line!

I’m snagging baseballs for puppies again this season for the Seattle Humane Society! If you want to check out my charity information, just click here!

Last season, with the help of all of you, we were able to raise over $250 dollars! This year I’d like to break $300!

Today’s game snagging Highlights: Oakland Athletics Vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 43,391

Baseballs snagged: three (One BP HR, toss-up from Steve Delabar and George Sherrill)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 5

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $3.70

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 4

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

3-28-2012 Tokyo Dome

Oh, man! Where do I begin!? I still can not believe I made a trip out to Tokyo Japan to watch the Mariners and the Athletics play the 2012 season opener! And while I’m typing this blog entry, I’m still in Japan! Okay, so I guess I should start at the beginning so you can read why I came out to Japan in the first place. Well, for obvious reasons I absolutely love baseball. And I will literally travel to the ends of the earth to watch a baseball game. I’ve been a Seattle Mariners fan since 1989 but I really don’t give a crap who plays. I just want to see some baseball and shag some balls in the bleachers. The reason why I want to shag baseballs is because I have a new charity I’ve managed to put together with the help of the Seattle Humane Society called Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. I’m not going to get into full detail of how my charity got started or why I do it because I have so much to blog about.

So there I am at the Sea-tac airport. I took a quick flight to Los Angeles which eventually I’d take a connecting flight to Narita International Airport outside of Tokyo about 80km. Tokyo has an airport (which would have made this trip way less stressful if I landed there) but its way more expensive and pretty hard to get a flight in. So I had to settle for Narita. Which was fine. Here comes the interesting part. While I was sitting in LAX minding my own business and chowing down on some outrageously overpriced cheese sticks, I realized I had left my baseball tickets to the game in Tokyo at home. I sat there for a moment in complete awe of how stupid I could be. I didn’t bother to search my bags because I knew where I had left them. I didn’t want to panic either because that never accomplished anything. I immediately sent a tweet out to the Mariners on Twitter and asked if anyone had an extra ticket lying around that they could leave at will call or something. I knew it would be a long shot and to be honest, I really wasn’t counting on them to come through like that. I jumped on the phone and called the Mariners ticketing office and explained the crisis. After being put on hold several times, the end result was unless I could come up with some kind of conformation number from whoever I bought the tickets through, there was little they could do. Still not in panic mode. I figured I’d buy a ticket from a someone on the street once I got there or I’d just sight see for several days. On the other hand, I really didn’t want to go to Tokyo Japan unless I was more or less guaranteed a ticket to the game. After sitting around and not really knowing what I was going to do, another person from the Mariners staff called me. She explained that there wasn’t much they could do and I nearly cut her off and told her I understand blah blah. But that little nagging voice in my head told me to let her finish.

It was probably a good thing too because we actually made some headway on the ticket crisis issue. I remembered taking a picture of my ticket and posting it on my blog under this blog entry many months ago when the actual ticket arrived in the mail. She requested that I send that picture to her via email and she’d correspond with me through email until the crisis was resolved. So I reluctantly boarded the plane to Japan and waited patiently for 14 hours to get some kind of confirmation from her. When I got to Japan, of course, my cellphone didn’t work and I had no way to check my email. I had made a couple of friends that I sat by on the plane over, and I piggy backed off of his wi-fi from his phone to my phone. I checked my email and to my surprise this is what the email said…

Thanks. Glad you had the photo. I’m just waiting for confirmation from my guy in Tokyo that he can leave you a ticket for Wednesday’s game. When I get that I’ll email you back. Happy travels. Hope the rest of the trip is uneventful, in a good way.

Wow. Just wow. It’s like the Mariners staff are into some kind of wizardry to get things done for their fans. And just on a side note, when I was going to Cardinals games at Busch Stadium, the staff there treated their fans like absolute crap. It is the complete opposite at Safeco Field. Yeah, sure. I get into the occasional run-in with security, but that’s because I’m having fun. And security doesn’t want anyone having fun.

I immediately email her back and told her how much I appreciate her help and how much I appreciate her handling this situation and then I get this email…

The ticket will be at will call (under Gate 22, near Vicky’s restaurant). Hope that makes sense when you get to the Tokyo Dome have fun.

Holy. Crap. It went from “there isn’t a whole lot we can do…” to THIS! I was literally jumping around my hotel room when I saw this email! Like, how do they do these kinds of things?! I’m thinking the Mariners staff are some kind of mafia. Like, all they had to do was pick up the phone, call some dude in Tokyo Japan and be like, “Hey. I got some guy that bought a ticket and left it at home. I don’t think I need to explain further.” and they’re all, “Oh, of course! Already taken care of!”

Oh, and by the way. Here are some things I learned very quickly about Japan. Well, at least in the area I’m staying in. It’s a town or a city or a province or a neighborhood or whatever they call it, called Ueno. It’s a 10 minute walk to the Tokyo Dome and a short 2-4 kilometers from every other major tourist attraction like the Tsukiji Market, the Sony Building, and the Ginza Brand Street. All worth seeing. Taxi drivers are almost useless. Very few actually can read a map and many have very limited english vocabulary. On top of that, they’re very expensive. Use as a last resort. Also, don’t rely on other Americans to help you out. They’re about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. At least the ones that I encountered. Some guy walked up to me while I had my face stuck in a map and asked me where I was trying to go. I told him the name of my hotel and this was after I had spent ten minutes trying to explain where I needed to go to about 14 different cab drivers. You could imagine how irritated I was at this point. He insisted that Japanese people can understand english. They just can’t speak english. Or they’d rather speak Japanese instead because they’re too embarrassed that their english sucks. Or something like that. Anyway. They guy was a complete jerk, he kept interrupting me when I was trying to explain that his logic was flawed…finally I just stared at him until he told me “good luck” and walked away.

When I got to my hotel room it was about 1am Tokyo time so it was immediately lights out for me. When I woke up the next day it would be about 13 hours before opening day and about nine hours before I’d be at the Tokyo Dome. I spent the good part of the morning dinking around in my hotel room, trying to figure things out like the air conditioner heater thingy in the corner of the room. I got it to turn on but it kept turning off and then back on. It was weird but whatever. Tv was extra yen and breakfast wasn’t free either. So I decided to grab an egg mcmuffin at McDonalds around the corner because there was literally nothing open until about 11am. Yeah, how American of me. Eating at McDonalds in a country that serves squid and octopus and clams and anything else you can think up. And I eat an egg Mcmuffin.  After my breakfast, I ventured out in search of the Tokyo Dome. Side note; the Tokyo Dome will be my 14th stadium at which I snag a Major League baseball, providing I get inside in-time for BP and all that other junk. Here are some random pictures I took of Ueno and Tokyo as I walked towards the Dome:

Here is another random picture of some shrine I passed by…

…and then a random vending machine full of drinks:

These vending machines are everywhere, by the way. As I continued walking towards Tokyo I could start to see the amusement park rides peeking over the tops of some skyscrapers. The Tokyo Dome area is actually called, Tokyo Dome City and it really is a city inside of a city. I was supposed to meet up with Zack Hample at the dome closer to the late afternoon so I had plenty of time to explore the surrounding area. Here’s a picture of the Tokyo Dome City peeking out:

And here is the Tokyo Dome in full view:

This thing is gigantic, to say the least. They call it the “Big Egg” and for good reason. From the air it resembles a giant egg. Naturally, I couldn’t get a picture of it from the sky so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Remember how I said that the Tokyo Dome is like a little city? Well, here is further proof:

This is the shopping district. They have a Starbucks, a bunch of Japanese shops, great places to eat and this:

Yup! Even an Eddie Bauer! I didn’t bother to go inside because, well, I wasn’t too interested in it. What I was interested in was eating some food! I stopped at this place to try what they had on their menu:

I didn’t get anything really off the wall like a plate of squid or live octopus tentacles. I ordered a very delicious plate of chicken and penne pasta in tomato sauce with parmesan cheese. And it was awesome! Here, take a look…

…doesn’t that look fantastic? I’m telling you. It was so good I wanted to order another. It cost about 1,000 yen which is about, what, ten bucks in USD? It was so worth it, though. Also, another side note. Yen goes fast in Japan. Especially Tokyo. It’s very expensive to buy things in this city so it’s best to try to be frugal if you’re going to stay for a long period of time.

I did a little bit more window shopping and then I finally met up with Zack Hample. Zack is known for snagging over 5,000 baseballs over a span of like, twenty years. I expected him to have a good couple of days at the Tokyo Dome because from what I saw in pictures from the Mariners, the Tokyo Dome is virtually pretty much open to run around in. Other than the high walls in the outfield, it seems like a great stadium to ballhawk in. I could be wrong though. I haven’t ever been inside the stadium but my opportunity was right around the corner.

Zack and I did a little catching up inside a restaurant while he got something to eat and then soon after if was back to exploring and taking pictures. Here are a couple random pictures around the  Tokyo Dome:

Here’s one more of a statue of the coach for the Tokyo Giants outside a sports memorabilia store that sold everything regarding Japanese players and Yu Darvish:

Like Ichiro, Yu Darvish is huge in Japan too. For obvious reasons. Alright, so back to the ticket crisis for a moment. When Zack and I parted ways to go get into our respective lines to enter the stadium, I was without a ticket, right? And in that email it said to go to will call which was located under gate 22. I wasn’t quite sure where “under gate 22″ was located and with a huge disadvantage with the language barrier, it made things extra tough. I talked to multiple guards and asked them if they spoke english before I engaged in conversation to explain my dilemma. My major response? “Let me see your ticket!” I tried very hard to explain that the Tokyo Dome was in possession of my ticket. But to no avail…until a Japanese/American that spoke fluent english overheard my problem. He became my translator and my new best friend. After about five minutes of going back and forth with the security guard, I was instructed to go see a ticket booth located in the court-yard. When I went over there I had to explain my problem all over again to the ticket booth window girl who didn’t speak english either. Somehow she understood what I was telling and she literally walked me to the area underneath gate 22. It was all making sense now. And to make things even better, she brought me to a guard that spoke english as well. So I explained the whole situation and he explained that they’d have a ticket ready for me….at 6pm. GAH! The Gates opened at 4pm to the Tokyo Dome and I pleaded to the guard that I needed to get in sooner than 6pm. I needed to get inside at 4pm! I could not miss batting practice! The guard kind of just shrugged at me and told me to come back at 6pm. If I did come back at 6pm, would I have to explain the whole situation again to someone else that didn’t speak english? I mean, what was going to happen? Chances are I’d have to go see another ticket booth and explain the whole fiasco again and again, losing valuable time inside. I decided to wait it out.

I walked back to gate 11 where Zack was sitting and explained to him what had happened. Zack was a little more prepared that I was, apparently. He busted out an extra ticket and told me he wanted the ticket stub back in pristine condition. I happily obliged and thanked him. The reason why Zack had two tickets was because like a few stadiums in the United States like Dodger Stadium and Wrigley, you need a ticket to get into the lower seating bowl and the outfield. The Tokyo Dome may have worked the same way. We wouldn’t know anything until we got inside. My plan was this, though; I’d go inside with Zack’s ticket, pass it off to him once inside, attending batting practice, leave at 6pm, go seek out my will call ticket, re-enter, and watch the game. It seemed solid. But I was concerned about thing. What if I couldn’t get back inside? What if when I explained my situation to someone who didn’t speak english, I’d be forever locked outside? I wanted to see at least one baseball game in the Tokyo Dome. And why leave when I’m already inside? My mentality was I’d just cross that bridge when I had to. Not force myself to cross it prematurely. So I stayed inside. I also want to state that my deepest gratitude goes out to the Mariners staff that worked hard to get my ticket to will call. I will never forget this trip.

When the gates opened up, I had a ticket to gate 22. Zack’s ticket was to gate 11. And since we were at gate 11, I wasn’t sure if I’d even gain access to the stadium from this gate. They might make me walk all the way around to gate 22. Here’s two photos of the line. This is in front of us…

…and this is behind us…

…and when the gates opened, we had to have our bags checked and we had to have our persons searched with a metal detector. They required all keys, wallets, cellphones and lighters to be placed either in your personal bag or a clear plastic bag so they could view the contents. It was truly the security from hell. And when I showed the guard my ticket, he started explaining to me that I couldn’t enter here and blah blah and I continued to say things like “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” and “I won’t do it again, I’ll go in and walk around.” and that seemed to have done the trick! He let me inside and Zack and I were off towards left field!

I wasn’t sure how security would react to two crazy America boys running amuck in the Tokyo Dome snagging baseballs, but I didn’t care! Here we were inside the Tokyo Dome snagging baseballs in Tokyo Japan! And my first baseball game from Johnny Gomes!

unfortunately, it wasn’t one of those fancy commemorative Japan baseballs I’ve been hoping to get and it wasn’t the first baseball of the 2012 season either. Zack had snagged a baseball moments prior to my Johnny Gomes toss-up. So props to Zack for snagging the first baseball of the 2012 Major League Baseball season! And props to me for snagging the second! Zack and I decided to stay out of each others way during BP, and I knew he’d put up strong numbers. My whole goal was to snag at least two baseballs a game and attend 50 games this season. I thought about trying to snag three a game which would give me a total of 150 on the season but I wanted to keep it simple this season. Last year, I snagged a total of 135 baseballs and the year before that I snagged a total of 87. So to snag 150 baseballs this season would be awesome, indeed. And it sure would help my charity. But it’s all good. I want to have fun and not really stress about numbers this year, anyway.

The thing about the Tokyo Dome is this; it’s really easy to catch baseballs here. I mean, really easy. And the security guards that roam the bleachers like this guy…

…has a whistle and every time a baseball comes within his vicinity of the bleachers, he starts blowing on that thing like no tomorrow. And then all his other security guard buddies start doing the same. So even if you don’t see the baseball initially off the bat of the player that hit it, you can bet one is coming your way when the security guard of your section starts blowing his whistle. The downside to all of this is, if you physically catch one of these baseballs that’s hit into the stands, that security guard that was blowing on his whistle will come down and take the baseball away from you and throw it back onto the field. But any player that throws a baseball to you, you get to keep. Make sense? And Zack had to find all of this out the hard way when he caught a baseball and the guard snatched it right from his grip! Zack put up quite a fight about it, too. And I just stood by laughing.

I got a chance to ask Jerry Blevins how spring training went for him and he kind of shook his hand in response at me. “It was alright, I guess. I feel pretty good.” he finally said. Jerry Blevins is one of my favorites just because he’s so nice to fans and so goofy on the field some times.

There were a few things I wanted to accomplish at the Tokyo Dome while I was there. The first thing was to get a toss-up from a player that I’ve never received a toss-up from before. Be it come from the Athletics or the Mariners, I didn’t really care. Another thing I wanted to accomplish was reach my two ball minimum snagging goal. Which at this point I was just one more ball away from accomplishing that. The third thing on my list was to get Felix Hernandez to toss me a baseball. But since he was starting tonight, that wasn’t going to happen. I also wanted to get Shawn Kelley to toss me a baseball as well. I had plenty of opportunity to snag some home run baseballs, but the reason why I really didn’t pursue them that hard was because I didn’t want it to turn out to be a commemorative baseball and then one of those pesky guards takes it away from me. I’d be pissed! So I left the majority of the home run baseballs alone. I figured Major League teams don’t come to Japan very often, and some of these other local fans would probably like to make a few catches. Have at it, I say!

When the Mariners finally came onto the field as the Athletics were finishing up their portion of batting practice, I made my way over to the foul line to watch:

I was pretty excited to see the Mariners for the first time this season. I’m not going to lie. Tom was there, Charlie, Brandon, Coach Navarro (even though he hates me) and Shawn were all lining up to play long toss and warm up. It was a sight to see!

I tried to get one of the Mariners attention to toss me a baseball, but I was out of range. I was too deep in the stands and the Tokyo Dome really isn’t like the US stadiums. The stairs don’t allow for maximum height to see over the row in front of you and there is pesky netting that covers most of foul ground to keep fans that aren’t paying any attention to batted baseballs, safe. I immediately took off and ran the concourse to set up in right center field. I saw Shawn Kelley and a few other players wander out that way, so I followed suit.

Here’s a quick picture I took of Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmson:

I kept track of the time because I had about an hour to catch my second baseball. I wanted to get it done and finally sit down too. My feet were killing me from walking around Tokyo all day. When I finally found my spot out in right center, I called to Shawn and George every time they caught a baseball. At one point, I climbed down to about the third row, made eye contact with Shawn, flapped my glove at him, called his name, and asked politely for the baseball. I was shocked when he didn’t toss it my way. I mean, a white guy in a foreign land asking for a baseball from another white guy? I thought it was the perfect secret weapon. Apparently not. But I was cool with it because I had all season to get a baseball from Shawn Kelley. And eventually it would happen. Maybe not in Tokyo and maybe not even in Seattle.

Over the PA system in the Dome they announced that Mariners batting practice was going to end in about five minutes. I was still without my second baseball at this point. I noticed Zack had scored a baseball from Jesus Montero fairly easily. It was time to switch gears and go after the rookie. I climbed through the rows and found my opportunity. Montero had thrown about five or six baseballs into the crowd at this point, so I thought my chances were pretty slim. I called to Montero like nobodies business! “JEEESSSUUUUSSSS!!!” I yelled. He looked through the crowd and I was jumping up and down in the row waving my arms like a wild man! He gave me one of those quirky little smirks and then reared back his arm to launch the baseball. I wasn’t sure if he was going to air mail me or throw it right to me, so I took a step back in anticipation for a high throw. The ball sailed my way…

…and the ball landed snuggly into my baseball glove! Awesome! I just caught a toss-up from the newly acquired rookie of the Seattle Mariners! I guess that makes things a little bit better about the trade for Pineda to the Yankees.

And that pretty much concluded batting practice. I snagged my two baseballs, and I think Zack snagged like twelve or something like that. It was a pretty successful day here at the Tokyo Dome and now it was time to venture off and find food!

When I hit the concourse, it was so packed it was hard to move around. And Japanese people really don’t have one of those space bubble thingies that Americans have. They’ll get right up on you and have no problem with it. I really didn’t like it much but since I was probably the biggest and most tallest person inside the Tokyo Dome at the time, I really didn’t let it bother me. Plus, Japanese people are very honest people. I always worry about being pick pocketed in large crowds but I heard that crime in Japan is virtually non-existent. Well, whatever. I was hungry. Here are some photos of the food concession stands inside the Dome:

And here’s a picture of Zack trying to get some food:

We ended up ordering a chicken thingy on a stick. I think it was the only safe thing to really eat there. And of course, a cup of water. It came to about 500 yen which is pretty expensive. There were no water fountains inside the Dome so we had to buy water from the concession stands. That sorta sucked. After we ate, Zack and I started to wander the stadium. We found a stair case that we literally talked our way up since it was being blocked by a security guard. And when we got to the top, we continued to go up even though it looked like we weren’t supposed to be up there. And this was the end result:

It was a door that led out to the third deck of the stadium! Haha! Eventually, a security guard came running up to us and told us in hand gestures to come down and find a seat. We didn’t get scolded or yelled at or even ejected from the stadium. I was kind of relieved at the fact that nothing happened. The guard didn’t even ask for our tickets. And since I didn’t technically have one on my person, I could have been in some trouble, I suppose. But it was all in good fun. Here are a few pictures of the Tokyo Dome from that door before the security guard shut us down:

And another:

Pretty awesome, huh..? Yeah, I thought so too.

After that little adventure, the pre-game ceremony was about to start. I took a few pictures of the field as both the Japanese flag and the American flag were brought out onto the field by both respective countries color guard. It was pretty awesome, really.

And finally when the baseball game got under way, Zack and I sort of just wandered the stadium. We sat in various seats and the only time security really hassled us was when we stood for long periods of time. The security inside the Dome is very observant and quick reacting when someone is blocking someone elses view. Which I totally understand having to watch baseball games in America where no one really cares if they’re blocking each others view. It was kind of nice. Here are some more various photos from around the stadium:

And one more:

Felix Hernandez threw a pretty good game and so did Brandon McCarthy. Every time Ichiro came up to bat the flash bulbs would start flashing and everyone would go nuts. And since Ichiro went 5-4 on opening night, that was pretty special for Japan. Ichiro seemed to be back in true form which would make this season pretty awesome if he was able to gain over 200 hits again. Dustin Ackley put one in the seats in the fourth inning but the Athletics answered right back with a run of their own. The game eventually went to extra innings with the Mariners winning 3-1 with the help of another Dustin Ackley RBI and Ichiro bashing a single up the middle to score Ackley from second base. The game was exciting and after the game, no one wanted to leave. I guess it being opening day and all…but I wanted to get the hell out of there and get some sleep! I took one last photo and see if maybe you can recognize who they are. Ready?

And then, of course, this blog wouldn’t be complete without a few pictures me, right?

Here is a picture of me holding up my Gomes and Montero snags:

That pretty much concludes day one in Japan! Well, actually I’ve been in country for about a day and a half. At this point, maybe two days. It’s been really fun with times of frustration. But that’s only because of the language barrier and is definitely expected. Everything I want to see and do is pretty much within walking distance and the food is pretty awesome to try. Tomorrow I plan to wake up early and make it to the fish market. I’m pretty excited about that! So until then…

I’m snagging baseballs for puppies again this season for the Seattle Humane Society! If you want to check out my charity information, just click here!

Last season, with the help of all of you, we were able to raise over $250 dollars! This year I’d like to break $300!

Today’s game snagging Highlights: Oakland Athletics Vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 44,227 Baseballs snagged: two (toss-up from Johnny Gomes and Jesus Montero )

Total baseballs snagged this season: 2

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $1.48

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00

Total number of donors this season: 4

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

Jumbo MLBlogs

I’m finally doing it. I’m finally submitting my blog to Major League Baseball to be in the front page of their website for fans. And what A great time to do it. Right before my trip to Japan! If you’re new to reading my blog, I’ve mentioned this trip last year. And I’ve talked about it a little bit in the previous months. I’m really excited and I’ll be boarding the plane at roughly 9am Monday morning. I’ll be returning Friday and I should be able to have my blog entries up about the trip shortly after attending the games. Zack Hample is also going to Japan and he leaves tomorrow. If you don’t know who Zack Hample is, check out his website here. He’s published a few books on baseball that I highly recommend you read.

Anyway. Back to this Jumbo MLB thingy. I think the most important reason why my blog should be a headliner on MLB.com is because I have a really super-awesome charity going on right now. And I’ve upped my efforts by contacting Major League Baseball players that have charities as well and doing a sort of one-for-one exchange on donations. So far I’ve only gotten Bud Norris to respond to me on Twitter. I made sure to hold up my end of the bargain by donating $5 dollars to his charity called Candlelighters CCFA. It’s a noble cause and I fully support these baseball players. My own charity is called Snagging Baseballs for Puppies in which I have teamed up with the Seattle Humane Society to help raise money for the dogs and cats at the local shelters in my area. Last year I raised $257 dollars with seven different pledges. This is basically how my charity works: you make a pledge of say, $0.01 cent a baseball. I head down to a Major League Stadium. I snag as many baseballs per game that I possibly can. At the end of the season I tally up said baseballs snagged, send you an email that you have provided me, and you donate said amount as pledged. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, that’s because it is.

The second reason why I think my blog should headline MLB.com is because I am a combat veteran of the United States Army. It would be super cool to get a former soldier up there doing his thing. Major League Baseball recognizes the troops and I think that is absolutely awesome. There are two baseball players that I know that I have come into personal contact with last season that also support the soldiers, among many more. Brad Ziegler is one, and he has a charity called Pasttime for Patriots  and Zach Britton. Britton helps out with the Wounded Warrior Foundation. And here’s a short video of Britton talking about his involvement in the Wounded Warrior Foundation:

I’d like to personally thank Zach Britton for his involvement in this. It means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to many soldiers that have been injured due to combat. Thank you very much, Zach, and I look forward to watching you play some baseball this season!

Alright, folks! That’s all I got for now! My next blog entry will more than likely be coming from Japan, so be on the look out for that! If you haven’t followed my blog yet, now would be a good time! I’m going to get with AT&T either tonight or tomorrow and see if I can’t get some kind of international plan so I can at least tweet some stuff to everyone. If you want to follow me on twitter, just click here! Annnnd one other minor detail. My next two blog entries will hopefully be about all the media I’ve been involved in and an exclusive interview with the king of snagging baseballs himself, Mr. Zack Hample.

 

 

Announcements, Announcements, Announcements!

Okay, folks! There has been some changes in my plans this season, like always. I always make plans even though I’m 100% sure they will change three weeks after I make them. Yes, I’m still going to Japan at the end of March. That is a for sure thing, unless something catastrophic happens like I break my back or my car explodes or a giant bird eats me. Unless any of that happens, I’ll be boarding that plane and heading over. And here’s further proof that I’m going…

…$120 dollars later, there you have it. I am truly excited to have this opportunity and I will make sure to blog in detail of my experience over there. Watching baseball in the Tokyo Dome will be something to remember, for sure! Okay, so enough of that.

This will be the second year I’m working with the Seattle Humane Society on my charity; Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. Last year, with the efforts of a lot of my friends and family members, we were able to raise just under $300 dollars. To all that donated or pledged, I just want you to know that I truly appreciate it and I will remember you forever. I know there isn’t much of a reward for donating your hard-earned cash, but I just want you to know that I appreciate it, the Seattle Humane Society appreciates it, and those dogs and cats down at the shelter really do appreciate it too. I can not thank you enough, and I hope you return to help us out some more! Even if it’s just attending games with me and just hanging out. I’d love the company. If you need the details on my charity, I’ve updated the page. Click here.

Okay, on to more awesomeness! I started a new blog called, A View From the Bullpen. There isn’t much to the blog. The reasoning behind the name is because that’s where you can generally find me at Safeco Field. By the Mariners bullpen. And some times by the visitors bullpen depending on who is in town. I have a lot of favorite players that I have connected with over the years, and I like to keep up on those relations by saying hello. If you’re ever at Safeco, come stop by and holler at me! I’ll even hook you up with a baseball that I’ve snagged. Added bonus!

I previously stated that I’d be circling the United States going to new stadiums this year. Those plans are still in effect. Do not worry. But I have some other options I’d like to exercise this year, as well. One being going to Canada in September. I’ve always wanted to watch baseball in the Rogers Centre Skydome. And this year I want to make that happen. I still want to get down to Minute Maid Park and also Chase Field (if it’s still called that). More importantly, I’d like to do a mid-west run which would include one game at Wrigley Field, one game at US Cellular, two games at Busch Stadium, one game at Kauffman Stadium and one game at Coors Field before I return to the Pacific Northwest. I’m not at all sure how this will work, if funds will be available, if time off from work will be there, OR if any of those teams schedules will mesh. It’s all up in the air as of right now. But having a plan is the start of making things happen, right? I thought you’d agree.

Okay, everyone. Now on to important websites you need to check out and bookmark. First and foremost, you should follow my blog. Here’s why; It’s awesome. Enough said. Secondly, if you have a Twitter account, sign on and follow me at @MLBwayneMLB. Third, if you have a Facebook, “like” my page! All these websites will help you in the future. Trust me.

Lastly, I have met a lot of people in the last few years of going to an enormous amount of baseball games. All these people I have met are amazing and awesome. And I want to give them some credit for being my friends. Below are their personal websites that YOU should check out.

Zack Hample

Mateo Fischer

CooksandSonsBats

Erik Jabs

BallHawk Shawn

That’s it, folks! Hope to see you all at the ballpark this year!

 

 

 

The Brandon League Twitter Handle Contest

Brandon League is new to Twitter. We all know that. League was asked during Seattle Mariners Fan Fest, which I attended, if he’d get a Twitter account. I wasn’t there when the question was asked but I could imagine League’s response. Maybe a quirky smile and an “I’ll think about it” response was probably not out of the question. Anyway, to make a long story short, the Mariners put on a contest through Twitter asking fans around the United States, and more importantly, Brandon League fans, to help Brandon come up with a Twitter handle. Well, yours truly won that contest. I tweeted a few Twitter handles that Brandon would possibly choose and lo and behold, Brandon picked “@BrandonLeague43!” The Mariners ultimately followed me on Twitter, @MLBwayneMLB, and sent me a DM explaining that I had won the contest! How cool is THAT?!

Soooooo we exchanged information, I waited by my mailbox for three weeks and finally this arrived…

 

 

…how freaking cool is that?! Here’s a close up of what Brandon put on the baseball:

 

And here’s the final tweet telling the world that I won the contest! BAM!

 

So there you have it, folks! What a great experience and thank you so much, Brandon, for the baseball! And thank you, Mariners, for the card! It’s very heart warming! I’ll see you all at the Safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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