Results tagged ‘ Ballhawk ’
Today marked the day of a new age. A new baseball season and a new way of life. Baseball is slowly turning into a glamorous shot of reality of shot clocks, smaller strike zones and over-priced foods that barely cater to our taste buds. My favorite players were slowly fading out while the new, young rookies quickly filled their void.
I watched Albert Pujols for about 25 minutes while sitting in the lower first base seating bowl after the Mariners had taken their hacks in the batting cage. He looked tired and ready to retire, to be honest. There he stood, barely following the routine stretches that the trainer was directing. Like he had been in the Major Leagues so long that he was above all of the stretching and running and conditioning. It was for the rookies, his face said.
Eventually he picked up a baseball and played catch with Erik Aybar for about five whole minutes…
…then he stood behind the batting cage and talked to Jay Buhner for nearly the rest of batting practice. He did get into the cage, though. Pujols took about six total swings never once putting one into the bleachers. He never interacted with any fans, signed any autographs or even acknowledged our fan-existence.
I reminisced with a friend of mine about the time when Pujols was playing with the St. Louis Cardinals. Him and Matt Holiday would crush during BP. It was when I visited Coors Field for the first time some time ago and I thought it was quite impressive. The two All-Stars on the Cardinals were really putting on a show.
Now the stark reality of old age and being a veteran icon sets in. No real need to show the youngsters that you can crush BP home runs. Mostly, no one is interested in you anymore. It’s all about the Mike Trouts and the Mike Moustakas, and the Clayton Kershaws. Take a seat, Pujols.
After shagging six baseballs from around the stadium, I found myself out in centerfield. Mariners games are always a lot of fun for me, and for many years I was always happy about the food. Recently, with the rising prices of everything within in the confines of the stadium, the flavor has diminished. Maybe the flavor had been removed to pay for the new shot clock out in centerfield.
I tried a slice of pizza like always. Satisfying; killed the hunger pains immediately. Then I tried what’s called a “Baconburg”. I asked the guy what exactly a baconburg was and he replied with, “It’s a hamburger with bacon…” Ohhhhh, okay. Thanks for clarifying, smartguy. The bun was stale, the mayo seemed old and the whole thing kind of fell apart in my hands. I was not impressed to say the least.
The game itself blew by. David Freese blasted a two-run home run to centerfield to a fan who couldn’t hold on for the catch but was rewarded with the baseball anyway. Two sections over from where I was sitting. McClendon talks a big game but it feels like the Mariners are picking up right where they left off from last season. Barely any run support for their ace on the mound…and the defense is trying.
Safeco is in a unique location in Seattle…
…because we always get awesome sunsets.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding ones that claim to be a “ballhawk.” If you are unfamiliar of what a Ballhawk actually is, you may need to attend a few more Major league baseball games in your life. I don’t mean that in a negative fashion, either. I’m just saying. If you’ve ever encountered a Ballhawk roaming the confines of any Major league stadium, you may have received a baseball from one, hopefully. I, myself, have snagged nearly 270 baseballs since 2005 when I received my first official baseball from an usher at Kauffman stadium during my mid-tour leave from combat. I also make sure to be very careful how I go about snagging baseballs and not to get too greedy. Although, I’ll jump on just about any opportunity to snag one, I give a fair share of baseballs away to fellow baseball fans both young and old.
A few years ago, a young man named Nick Yohanek attended a baseball game and caught Chris Coglan’s first career home run. Yohanek, at the time, seemed to be an icon in Milwaukee’s old stadium before Miller Park was created. He’d attend many baseball games and put up strong numbers by snagging game home run baseballs. It’s quite impressive, actually. But to some, Yohanek and others that share similar interest in snagging gamers, are annoying and just get in the way of the game. Well, I’ve never hindered anyone from catching a baseball. Or have gotten in the way of someone trying to enjoy the game. For Yohanek, it’s been a different story. And not to dig up old stories, but rumor has it, or had it, that Yohanek asked for a laundry list of items from Coglan after snagging his first career dinger. From there, it spiraled out of control.
Zack Hample is another that snags quite a few game home runs and has snagged many first career home runs as well. After catching the ball, security instantly comes down and tries to pry the baseball from your hands and if you don’t have a good grip or are an easy push over, you’ll lose your change to get something in return for that prized possession. For me? Just meeting the player is enough. For others, they’ll ask for money, bats, balls, batting gloves, you name it. If it isn’t nailed down, fans want it.
Anyway. Enough of all that. Here’s a great write-up from a person that wanted to shed some positive light on the ballhawking world. It’s a little long, but worth the read.
The last baseball game of August 2011. The Los Angeles Angels were in town for a four-game series and I was able to attend at least one of them. I bought tickets to sit out in the outfield but I ended up spending the entire game standing in the newly refurbished ‘Pen area. It was quite interesting to say the least. It wasn’t as crowded as a weekend game though so I really had a chance to catch a home run ball. Sadly, none were hit in my direction.
When I got into the stadium it seemed like the security guards were playing extra hard to moderate who got a baseball and who didn’t. These security guards had “Alcohol Enforcement” on the back of their shirts not “Baseball Enforcement”. In my opinion it really seemed quite ridiculous to be as active as they were when it came to who got a baseball and who didn’t. Of course, they made sure every little kid within sixteen square miles got a baseball and some of the older crowd started to complain directly to them. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to let them know they were getting to me. At one point of the of the security guards out-snagged a fan to give a baseball to a kid. I thought that was pure 100% ridiculous.
Willy Mo Pena finally tossed up a baseball after minutes of yelling at him and the kid that the baseball was intended for dropped it into the centerfield gap. Like always. I stepped in before security could go down there and get it and glove tricked it out of there. I handed it off to his mother instead of the kid and told him that the next baseball he gets he needs to share. Now who’s the baseball moderator? HA!
When it was time to run up the stairs and wander the rest of the stadium I ran down to the third base seating bowl and watched an awesome show put on my Blake Beaven and Dan Cortes. If you asked Dan Cortes for a baseball he wasn’t going to toss it to you. He was going to rear back and fire some serious heat. And if you missed it? Serious injury would ensue or you wouldn’t come up with the baseball. It was really hilarious. Unfortunately, I didn’t get him to throw me one. But this guy got a couple thrown to him:
It was pretty funny. Dan really launched them at him and when the baseball hit the seats after a miss it would bounce all over the place. I thought about playing behind the guy but every time I got closer he would move farther away. So I just took the picture of him instead and let him have his fun.
The Mariners jogged off the field as the Angels came out and I decided the best place to get my second baseball of the day would be here:
Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing came my way. Not even an overthrow, missthrow, underthrow, sideways throw or a foul ball. I knew that as soon as I left my spot something would happen. I left anyway and I didn’t bother to watch over there to be disappointed. I wandered the bullpen, and the ‘Pen area, the Party deck and back around to the bullpen looking for an opportunity to snag a baseball. I finally decided to stay on the party deck for the rest of the Angels portion of batting practice. A few home runs were hit out to my general area and as soon as I ran for one a player tossed a baseball up right where I was standing. Truly frustrating. Plus I had security to deal with. They seemed to be out-snagging everyone. Including the players on the field. I felt, not only me, but other fans were truly being ripped off by these two security guards. Here was my view while standing on the party deck:
During the last few moments of BP, I got Joel Pineiro’s attention and he launched a baseball my way. Of course I had three determining factors of why I didn’t catch the baseball. 1.) Pineiro’s throw was high, 2.) Some drunk dude next to me stuck his elbow into my ribcage and, 3.) The sun was directly in my field of view. The result? One of the nicer security guards got blasted in the collar-bone by the baseball. I heard the sickening sound of a Major League Baseball connecting with human flesh and bone, and when I looked back I saw the security guard leaning against the fence covering her entire face. I thought she got hit in the nose or something. But she didn’t. And when I looked back at Joel, he was motioning to me how close I came to catching it. I just shrugged at him and motioned back with my hands signaling I missed the catch by mere inches. Heres a Seattle Mariners Security Guard Fun Fact for you; that’s the second time that specific security guard has been hit by a Joel Pineiro throw.
Batting practice came to an end and I left the ‘Pen area to find my seats. Here’s a view:
I didn’t stay here that long though. Maybe a few innings. I watched the entire game from the ‘Pen. Or the Party Deck as some like to call it. I normally don’t stand out there because it’s so crowded and anytime a baseball lands on the party deck everyone spills their beers on each other as they try to catch the baseball. The awesome part of sitting out here is look at the running room to my right…
…and check out my running room to my left…
The only bad part of the picture above is the railing in my way. But other than that, what great seats.
Here’s a picture of the Kings Court:
If you’ve never been to a Mariners game before and don’t have any idea what the “Kings Court” is, well, simply put? It’s a section at Safeco Field where fans buy a ticket in, they get a yellow “King Felix” shirt, a huge “K” sign and they all sit together. Everytime Felix Hernandez strikes someone out everyone in that section goes nuts. It’s quite entertaining. Unfortunately the crowds at Safeco Field aren’t quite as large as they were towards the start of the season. So the Kings Court was kind of wimpy during the game.
Game; August 31st 2011 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $168.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $41.80 this
I figured today would be an awesome day at the stadium. But everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The only thing that I did right was getting to the stadium early enough to be the first one inside. After that I missed a baseball sitting underneath some tables and then when I went to line up at the stairs there were like 5,000 old dudes in front of me all with enourmous bags full of stuff they wanted to get autographed from the Twins. So as I slowly climbed the stairs behind all these people I could literally feel all the opportunities slipping away.
Then when I was finally free I sprinted, and I mean I sprinted, towards the third base sections only to be beat out by ONE guy! He gobbled up all the easter eggs and I tried to put up a fuss about him taking all of them and not leaving one behind for anyone else hoping that he would toss me one but it didn’t work. He gave me an evil grin and continued towards the dugout. And then as I made my way back towards the concourse to continue looking some kid held one up in victory. It was nearly towards the end of batting practice that I was able to snag one. I dont know who hit it but it was a shot right to me. I had to lean over some seats to catch it and of course I banged up my knee doing so. It was a very disappointing night at Safeco Field that’s for sure.
I took some pictures of batting practice. Im not really going to go indepth of the entire BP time of me misplaying baseballs and basically looking like a dope running around the stadium trying to capitalize on catching one. So here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure instead.
Also take note that MLB just converted their blogging site over to WordPress. It’s supposed to be better and so far it’s pretty awesome. But I’m still trying to get the hang of inserting pictures and whatnot so consider this a trial run blog. The next ones should be better. Anyway. More pictures.
Here is a close up of Justin Morneau. He came wandering over to meet up with some family members. So I took a quick picture of him.
The Mariners played really well and won the game 5-2. Adam Kennedy went yard and then Carlos Peguero hit one out. It barely made it too. And Im pretty sure it was a foul ball but the Twins skipper didnt contest it. It stood as a home run.
Game; May 16th 2011 Minnesota Twins vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $28.80 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $11.75 this season
I hate to keep talking about this but I still think about the little four year old that got plunked in the face by Randy Wolfs throw. At work today I discussed the topic with a few co-workers. I got mixed emotions. I thought the story was entertaining, and laughable at this point. At the time it was a little nerve-racking. Some of my co-workers didnt like the idea of me keeping the baseball. They informed me that I should have given the baseball to the kid because he “deserved” it. Other co-workers did their best to stick up for me. In the end it was an interesting debate. I thoroughly enjoyed telling the story, and talking about it. I also brought up the fact that I recieved some small injuries on my legs, and rib cage for going after the baseball after it rolled around under the seats. (Those plastic seats are very unforgiving) I also pointed out the fact that I was the one that kept calling to Randy Wolf that eventually got him to throw the ball in the first place. I also pointed out the fact that Ive been hit with a baseball before but no security guard came to my aid to wrestle the baseball away from the other fan that got it. ( I really have never been hit with a baseball. I just wanted to see what people would say ) The response to all of that? ” Well, thats different. Youre an adult. Thats a kid.” My arguement? “So?” I dont understand why a child should get the ball because he was hit, and an adult shouldnt even if he was hit too. Anyway. Id also like to give a shout out to Shawn, a fellow ballhawk, for leaving an insightful comment. Thanks brother!
Alright. Game time! Todays game was an interesting one. It was the last game against the Brewers, and the Cardinals were hosting Purina-” Bring your dog to the ball park” day. So all these people showed up with their dogs. They got to walk around the warning track, and the rest of the field to show off their dogs. It was pretty neat. I had to enter the stadium on the first base side because I wasnt about to play the third base side today. Not after the incident yesterday. The Cardinals were going on the road starting Monday, and they would be back at home on the fourtheenth of June. So that would give the security guard enough time to cool off, and forget about what happened on Saturday. I hoped anyway. Heres a picture of the first base side entrance.
There was so much shaded area on this side of the stadium. It was amazing. On the third base side during a day game a person would roast waiting outside. But on this side there were places to sit under the trees to stay out of the sun. It was really cool, and a slight breeze would come through, and it felt amazing. It was real luxurious on this side of the house. Since it was Dog day I only had to put up with a few people at the gates. Everyone else pretty much had their dog with them.
Here is a beautiful snap shot of St Louis, and the Arch from the first base side. They put a huge blow up dog outside the gates to let everyone know that this is where all the dogs had to enter the stadium. So much fun! I wish I had a dog to bring!
So once in side I kind of made a costly error. I forgot about the screen they put out in front of first base to protect the first basemen as he takes fielding practice. So that means the chances of a grounder to come my way were drastically reduced. Ive seen a lot of baseballs hit over to the first base side. But I really thought it was more trouble than it was worth. So I quickly made my way to the center field bleachers. I took the front row, and waited patiently. More, and more people started to show up, and fill the rows.
The tall guy on the left ( 50 ) is Kameron Loe. I stood in the front row for about 20 minutes before something came my way. I reached over to try, and snag the ball but it fell too short, and hit off the wall. I scraped my finger on the concrete ledge in the process. So since I got injured that entitles me to the baseball. The Brewers that were shagging balls thought different, and didnt toss it up to me. Really, that was about it for where I was standing. Chris Capuano tossed one up to a kid that was standing next to me, and then batting practice abruptly ended after about 30 minutes of standing there. My jaw simply hit the floor.
Well, the only thing I could do now was hope the Brewers came out with a couple warm up baseballs before the game. After I got something to eat, and drink I scampered down to the dugout area, and did my best to blend in. The security guards in the dugout area really didnt have a problem with people sitting in other peoples seats. It wasnt like Kauffman where they constantly came around to check tickets. Since ESPN changed the game from a day game ( 1:15pm ) to a night game ( 7:05pm ) a lot of people didnt show up or all of a sudden couldnt show up. So there were plenty of open seats in the house to really sit wherever you wanted. So I pulled up some real estate behind the dugout. I mean directly behind the dugout. Like the first row behind the dugout. Yeah, I was being brave tonight.
The dugout seats. I always love sitting right here. Since it was getting close to game time I had to keep a watchful eye on security, and anyone on there way down to claim these seats. Soon it was National Athem time. Still nobody kicked me out of the seat.
Then after that Casey McGehee, and Rickie Weeks came out to toss the ball around in front of the dugout. If this wasnt the perfect spot for that baseball I didnt know where was. They threw the ball about three times before they started to advance back onto each other. Who would end up with the ball? Rickie or Casey? Casey ended up with it, and I started calling to him. He looked at me, and then kept looking around. I knew what he was doing. He was looking for a kid to throw to. But since there werent any I ended up with the ball! I thanked him, and sat down for the game.
I waited until the bottom half of the first inning to make my move. Or before the third out I should say. The Cardinals were batting so therefor the Brewers would end up with the third out baseball. On the second out I left my seat, raced up the stairs, crossed over one section, ducked security as he was busy directing some fans to their seats, raced towards the end of the aisle by the dugout, and on the last out Prince Fielder ended up with the ball. I adjusted my Brewers hat slightly, held up my glove, and begin asking Prince for the ball. He threw it directly to me, and I thanked him. I was gone in a flash. Its imparitive to get that first inning third out baseball because after that I would end up competing with about ten kids after they figured out what I just accomplished. So you have to handle business early.
The game actually made it to extra innings. So I stayed down by the dugout to watch the Cardinals bat in the bottom half of the ninth. I prayed they didnt hit a walk off home run or something. Because from where I was to get to the place where the umpires leave the field well…Ill just say this. I wouldnt make it. Fortunatly for me the Cardinals didnt score. The Brewers scored one in their top half of the tenth though. So I left the dugout area, and wandered over to the section I needed to enter to get my final baseball of the night. Guess what? Security was gone! Can you believe that? I mean they were GONE! Like none in sight. So I took my time getting down to the bottom of the aisle, and as soon as the game ended I quickly pounced on the umpires leaving. Well, not literally. But he threw me one. So that was amazing.
Game: Milwaukee Brewers Vs St Louis Cardinals June 6-2010 7:10pm
Game Balls: Three
Remember this picture? Most importantly do you remember seeing Todd Helton on Crownvision? Well today was a big day for both myself, and Todd Helton.
Well, to start things off the game started promptly at 1:00pm. Batting practice took place but I didnt get a toss up from any players, and NOTHING was hit into the seats. Except maybe a few homeruns. It really was boring. My first baseball came from Dexter Fowler. After the position players warmed up most of them did not throw a single ball into the stands. I think Ian Stewart threw one though. Like yesterday, and Friday here came security. It was my last game in Kauffman for a while so I decided to stick up for the youngsters trying to get Troy Tulowitskis autograph who was signing yet again. The ushers came down, and started asking for tickets. I dont know why they ask for tickets. They know no one has a ticket thats standing by the railing. I stood my ground, and ignored the usher as long as I could stand it.
” Sir, you need to find your seat if you dont have a ticket to be here.” She said.
” I know.” I continued to stand without moving.
” Sir. Youll need to find your seat now. The game is about to start.” She explained.”
” The game starts in five minutes. We have plenty of time.” I said back to her barely turning around.
” Sir. Without a ticket you cant stand here.” She said once again.
” Well, Ive been standing here most of batting practice, and I dont have a ticket. So what makes it so I cant stand here now?” I said back to her desperatly trying to buy some time for the kids to get their autographs.
” Well, the game is soon to start. Youll have to move.” She said again. This time in a little more of a harsh tone.
” Lady, we are down here four minutes to game time to get autographs from our favorite players. Let the kids do their thing, and we will be gone before first pitch. Stop being such a nazi about this stuff. We are here to have fun. Not be harassed by security.” I said in a more harsh tone.
She stared at me for a few seconds, and as I kept my eyes on the Rockies. Dexter Fowler was getting up, and walking to his glove. I stepped away from the usher, scurried through the row, and called to him with my glove up. He nodded, and underhanded me the ball. I looked back to the usher, and smiled to her.
” See? We are having fun, and we arent in anybodys way.” I said, as I started up the stairs. I got some light applause, and a pat on the back from a fan as I made my way up the stairs. If this is what Kauffman Stadium has turned into I think I wont ever be going back.
I took this picture before the ushers started their little harassment antics. Todd Helton is out there sitting down with his teammates. My seats were in section 122 right behind the dugout three rows up. So I had really great seats, and they were right behind the Rockies dugout. So I felt pretty good about getting multiple toss ups from the players.
This is a picture of where I sat at the game. The seats were great because Todd Helton would have to cross in front of me after he caught the third out to get to the dugout. So after the third out was caught at first base by Todd Helton, I quickly stood up and waved to him for the ball. He lobbed a high toss up my way, and I felt someone step on my foot, and then back right into me as I made the catch. I looked down, and this young kid from the seat in front of me was actually trying to catch the ball! I was amazed! Helton had lobbed it so high that there was no way that kid ( or anyone else for that matter ) would have caught the ball. The kid sat down pouting. His dad started to explain that Todd Helton threw it to me because I had on a Rockies hat. Then he told his son that maybe if I were to get another one Id give it to him.
The third inning came. Three up, and three down went the Royals. Now this next part is 100% true. I stood up to stretch. I wasnt trying to get Heltons attention by any means. I raised my arms above my head, and I was in full stretch mode when Todd Helton tossed another baseball my direction just like the last one! I couldnt believe it! So I moved over, and made the catch. No one was even paying attention. In fact if I had just let the ball go it would have landed in some little girls nachos, and made a huge mess. I dont think her parents would have appreciated her kid getting hit square in the nachos by a baseball. So I made the catch. It was my second baseball from Todd Helton. I was really in shock. But whatever. The kid in front of me that tried to catch the last one was gone. They exited their seats moments before the final out of the inning. Tough break for you kid.
By the sixth inning a lot of the kids had witnessed Todd Helton tossing multiple baseballs into the crowd. So the first two rows in front of me were empty by now. The Rockies were winning 11-4 so a lot of Royals fans were leaving. The Royals quickly went in order, and Todd Helton was on his way to the dugout again. Well, I had stood up to cheer the Rockies because they got out of base loaded jam, and I was excited. Well, I guess so was Todd Helton. He lobbed another ball towards me but it was falling short. I had to lean forward over the seats in front of me to catch the ball. Once I got it I passed it off to my buddy Ryan that accompanied me to the game. He had always wanted a ball, and since Todd Helton was being over generous to me I figured I could share one with my friend. So Todd Helton had thrown three in our direction. Im not sure why. But he did. So that was my fourth ball of the day.
Once we caught that third one though the fans behind us started to boo us a little. Some college kids started talking crap, and calling us trash. They told us we should give all the balls we caught to little kids. After I made the catch someone behind me said something along the lines that I had two baseballs now or something. I had told my buddy Ryan that if we catch another one we will start to get negative attention from the fans. Thats exactly what happened. So catching a fourth ball from Helton would probably be really bad. But I didnt care. I was loving the fact that I caught three balls from one player in one game.
Jason Giambi, and Troy Tulowitski went deep in the game, and Giambis home run ball landed down behind the batters eye. I made a decent plan to jump down there after security left to retrieve the ball. If you have read Zack Hamples Kauffman Stadium blogs when he was there, he jumped down there, and snagged up like 17 baseballs. Well, Ive been going to a few games at Kauffman now, and they strategically placed a ladder to get down there now. The balls get cleared out of there every few games now. So there isnt a chance for them to really stack up. Unfortunatly, after the game before I could even head over there, an usher went down behind the batters eye, and retrieved the ball for a kid. But it wasnt over.
The final out of the game, and I stood up to stand by the dugout. I was going to get one last baseball. Kids were pushing, and shoving their way inbetween me, and eventually some kids father tried to box me out. Glen Allen Hill had a baseball, and was pacing back and forth in front of the dugout. I didnt want to call his name out to draw attention to myself so I simply raised my glove, and nodded to him. He smiled, and tossed it to me. I caught the ball in what had seemed like a million hands were trying to grab for it. I made a clean catch, and quickly faded out of the group, and up the stairs. Five on the day. Three from one player. Not bad.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Colorado Rockies May 23rd 2010 1:00pm
Game Balls: Five
So I decided to try my luck at Kauffman Stadium for the weekend. The Colorado Rockies were in town for a three game series. For the most part the Rockies ignored me during batting practice. Interesting enough the Royals werent even on the field at all. I caught up with some fellow Ballhawks that generally chase foul balls, and one of them has over 800 to his name. But he told me that he gives a lot of them away to the kids. So being that it was a Friday night the gates were supposed to open two hours before game time. So why were the gates opening up at 5:30pm then? Well, rumor has it that the Royals have put a complaint in to the upper management about the fans being inside the stadium while they take batting practice. I dont know why the Royals would complain about the fans being at the stadium. Wouldnt they want more of a fan base? Anyway. So for the rest of the season the gates are going to open up an hour and a half early to include weekends. Also, I was told that the batting cage was moved up to less foul balls reached the stands. Whether thats true or not I dont know. Its all about perspective I guess. But these two Ballhawks were pros. So I took their word for it. They also told me that David Glass ( owner of the Royals ) was looking for a way out of his contract, and to either move the team or sell it. In any case it was a real drag to take in all this news.
About the batting cage. If it was moved up intentionally to keep foul balls from reaching the seats they did a pretty good job. Because only three baseballs reached the seats in foul territory during batting practice. Batting practice was scheduled to end at 6:30pm. It was 6:27pm when I relocated from the outfield bleachers to the first base side where Jeff Francis was shagging many baseballs in the right field corner. I still didnt have a ball, and I was going into panic mode. I had two games left at Kauffman, and I was wondering if I should just cancel the rest of the games after this, and head home. At 6:29pm Jeff Francis shagged three ground balls in a matter of seconds, and didnt have any time to throw any of them in to the infield. He threw two in, and turned to the fans. I was shouting his name, and waving my Rockies hat wildly to get his attention so he would at least throw the ball NEAR me. I had kids lined to my right, and to my left. If it was high enough I would be able to snag it. Jeff reared back, and tossed a perfect throw three feet to my left. I would have to stretch out for this one though. I planted my right foot, and carefully eased over to my left towards the ball. I will be completely honest at this point. I do not know how this happened, but as I made the catch some chunky little 12 year old girl slammed right into my left hip. I dont know if she though she had a better angle on the ball than me, or she just came out of no where to try, and make the catch but she ended up chasing her baseball that she caught earlier down the aisle. I guess when she ran into me it jarred her ball loose. Anyway, she got her ball, and looked back at me with those sad eyes. I told her I was sorry for her running into me, and I hoped she was okay. Enough said.
Here is a picture of Kauffman from the 400 level.
You see Todd Helton on the Crown Vision? Well, I didnt mean to take the picture with him on the there but if you keep reading the blogs from the series youll be reading A LOT about him on Sundays Blog. I didnt stay up here long because I wanted to get a baseball from another Rockies player before game time. ( This picture was actually taken after I got my second ball. Oops) So back down to field level I went.
The Rockies position players were warming up, and Jason Giambi finally came out. The guy is massive. His arms are as big as my thighs, and he has these huge viens that are very visable on his arms. I dont know if he actually took steroids, but every time he was up to bat people behind the dugout gave him crap about steroids. So who knows. Ill have to check the Mitchell Report to see if his name was brought up. So as Im standing against the railing the ushers come down in their pretty little green shirts, and sun hats, and start ushering kids, and teenagers, and adults off the railing. Troy Tulowitski was busy signing autographs, and the ushers denied plenty of fans the opportunity to get an autograph from him. I didnt want to speak up, and defend anyone because I had two more games here, and I didnt want to be in the spotlight. So I ducked out of view, and sat down in the fourth row back. Once the ushers started back up the stairs I took position back on the railing. Three minutes to game time, and Ian Stewart turned around glove in hand to head back to the dugout. I called out to him, and he underhanded me the ball. I got a few praises from some Rockies fans, and I headed off to take a look around the stadium.
Odd. Why dont they move these sort of things more out in plain view? Its probably a conversation that goes something like this..
” Hey, lets get a statue of liberty, paint it up with Royals stuff, and just put it somewhere in the corner. Any corner will do.”
Whatever. So I continued around the stadium to take more pictures. Nothing great. But Kauffman is a beautiful stadium. Probably the most elegant, and down to earth that I have ever been to.
The water fountains. They are located in the outfield, and the Pepsi Party Patio is just below that. During the summer months when its a blistering 90+ degrees standing directly under the fountains is very refreshing if the wind is blowing the water around. The only downfall to this is the sun is constantly beating down on you during day games. So its kind a a lose/win or win/lose depending on how you look at things.
The game was decent. The Royals won. Which I guess is great. I didnt care much for the game. I was still more interesting in learning why the gate times were moved back. I still couldnt believe all that I heard.
Game: Colorado Rockies Vs Kansas City Royals May 21st 2010 7:10pm.
Game Balls: Two
Back at Busch Stadium for another round of torture. I felt a little better today. My mind was slightly more clear, which always made a difference. When I cant think straight I get frusterated, and thats when things go south. The weather was supposed to rain all afternoon, and into the early evening. When I got to the stadium it was overcast, windy, and slightly humid from last nights thunderstorms. Miserable conditions. I really thought they would cancel batting practice. I figured when I got to the stadium the tarp would be over the field, and that would that.
If you look close enough you can see the batting cage was on the field, and Cardinals BP was in full force. The rain threatened off, and on. I thought at one point it would let loose, and they would tarp the field. They never did. ( Sorry about the picture. I use my iphone camera ) I panicked though. I witnessed a Cardinal player throw two baseballs into the seats behind home plate. What should I do?! I continued to ask myself that question. I could get some easter eggs, but what is the faster route over there? Still thirty minutes before the gates opened, and I had to make a decision. Go to my regular spot, or try something new. Well, after going to my orginal spot I witnessed four easter eggs being picked up. I kicked myself. So I made it a point to get a little education about the stadium before I left today. I had nine innings to do it in anyway.
Batting practice was in full swing. The sun broke out of the clouds, and it was like a breathe of fresh air. The Cardinals were only on the field for only a few minutes before the Astros started coming out, and warming up. Wilton Lopez took up a position directly in front of me with Gustavo Chacin. Not only did Gustavo Chacin overthrow a ball, but it hit some little girl right in the head. Of course that earned her a free baseball. Id take a baseball to the head for a free ball anyday. It really concerns me that nearly 90% of these little kids that line the baseline walls are without supervision. It kills me to see these kids just standing there unaware that a baseball that travels 120mph or faster could be hit right to them.
I had a great position on the base line. Not one adult was near me. The stadium was barely even full. My first baseball of the day was a grounder that had a little bit of spin to it. So it was curving more to my right. I got a good position on it, and boxed out anyone to my immediate right. I didnt field it cleanly though. It hit off the top of my glove as I went to stick the ball. It rubbed up against the wall, and didnt go far so it was easy to retrieve. After that happened, two more came my way but were too far to my right. They both ricocheted off the wall, and back onto the playing field. I tried to play them on the rebound but thats pure luck to get one like that.
Finally I had some competition show up. Booo! I dont know who the guy was but he was aggressive, and had skill. He was an older gentleman probably in his early 50’s. He positioned nearly on top of me in a strategy to box me out if anything came down the line. Well, he had his chance. A three hopper came scorching down the line, and he got his glove up in front of mine. I caught a sharp elbow to the brim of my hat that caught me off guard, and I ended up taking a step back. Well, I was able to slap his glove with mine which in turn made him miss the catch, and the ball ended up in the stands at my feet. With my hat in my face, and didnt see where the ball went until he started going for it. I kicked my left foot back, made contact with the ball, and a youngster behind me ended up getting it. HA! Thanks for using your elbow, sir! What a jerk. But if he wanted to play dirty thats fine. I can play dirty.
As soon as the kid came up with the ball my competition started in on me.
” I had that!” He hollered.
I ignored him. I kept focused on the batter in the cage.
” You hit my glove! Why did you do that?! I had that one!” He insisted.
I continued to ignore him.
” I would have had that ball, you know. That ball had my name all over it!” He grumbled.
Ignoring. Watching batter in cage.
” Why did you smack my glove?!” Shaking his head in disbelief.
Just then another ball was hit our way. It was a can-`o-corn popup. But it didnt have the distance. During the one-sided conversation an usher had came over to make sure there wasnt going to be a fight over a baseball, and guess who ended up catching the ball two feet from the wall. The usher! Really? These guys stand around all day, and regulate ridiculous rules, kick people out of areas they dont have a ticket for, scold people for running through the concourse, and NEVER give baseballs to adults that ask for them, and now we got an usher catching baseballs during batting practice that a fan SHOULD have caught namely ME! I was furious! And so was my competition! He started complaining the moment the usher caught the ball. He insisted that he should get the ball, but the usher didnt hangout much longer. He made up some excuse that he had to give the ball back to the players, and off he went. What bullcrap.
The next ball was another popup, and it had some curve to it. I knew this one didnt have the distance either, and my competition was all over it. He reached out, boxed me out, and made the scoop. But while he was doing that I made myself visable to Matt Lindstrom. ( if you read my blog from the previous night I asked him for a ball, and he denied me ) I put my hands up, and pretended to throw a ball his way. He nodded, and tossed me a ball. One hopper, right into my glove.
” Thanks Matt!” I shouted, and tipped my hat. HA!
I looked to my competition, and smiled. After that we started talking about ballhawking techniques, different stadiums, security issues, etc etc. Turns out the guy was a decent fellow. He told me the most baseballs hes even gotten at a stadium was three. Nice enough guy. So I forgave him about the elbow, and moved on after batting practice ended. I sat out in the outfield seats for the game, and I watched the game silently. I needed a break. I didnt run down to the dugout after the game or harass any of the umpires for a ball. I just held onto my two prizes from the day, and went home.
My last blog about Cellular field, and their fans was kind of harsh, I suppose. I had a bad experience. You know what they say about first impressions. Well, the WhiteSox were hosting the Kansas City Royals for a three game home stand, and I always have great success with the Royals throwing me baseballs. So I figured I would try my luck with them on the road. Since it was a weekday, and both of these teams were struggling to maintain a decent spot in the division, I figured the crowd would be minimum. I checked Monday nights attendance, and it was somewhere in the low 20,000 range. Perfect.
Finally arriving at U.S Cellular field, I made my way around the stadium. It was such a beautiful day but very windy. I had to pull my baseball cap down over my eyes to keep it from blowing off of my head. Like many games before I was the first fan at the stadium. I feel thats probably the first step in success in getting as many baseballs as possible at a game. Being the first person in line. Also, in the picture above do you notice something with the gates? Yep. That specific gate was open, and no security around. I wandered over for a closer look.
Yes folks. This gate was unlocked, open, and no one around to guard it. I quickly went into daydream mode. I thought about going inside, and having the whole stadium to myself. I dreamt about going down to field level, and claiming all the easter eggs in the seats. I got endless autographs. I got endless baseballs. My bag was filled to the brim, and I could barely zip it up. I had to take it to my car, and unload baseballs into the truck of my car.
” Hello? Hey, hello? HELLO?!” Snapped the man with a WhiteSox shirt on. I quickly snapped back to reality.
” Yes?” I answered.
” You here for the game, or what? You cant enter here.” He said in a sharp tone.
” Oh, I know. Yeah, Im here for the game. Im just killing time.” I answered back, and walked away with a smirk. In the first picture on the left side of it you can see a security camera. Thats probably why the man came out. It was fun dreaming anyway.
I continued my trek around the stadium. What kind of bothers me about this stadium ( like many ) is you cant walk completely around it. Busch Stadium in Saint Louis is the same way. Im not sure why that is. Maybe its because they designed it that way because the old stadium was in the way. But didnt they just upgrade, and renovate New Comiskey Park to U.S Cellular? I mean, you can walk around Cellular Field, but you end up on the main road, and before that you have to cross through the projects. I wasnt up for a long walk anyway. I turned back around, and headed towards home plate entrance. There was a band setting up, and doing sound checks for pre-game festivities. There were a few WhiteSox, and Royals fans lingering around, but not much else was going on. I couldnt believe there were Royals fans in Chicago.
Finally a small crowd started to show up at around 5:00pm. The gates open 90 minutes before game time on weekdays at Cellular Field. Just like Kauffman. The WhiteSox arent winning, and they arent drawing the crowd. So thats why the gates open 90 minutes prior to game time rather than two hours. As I stood in line a small crowd of autograph collectors started to gather at the front next to me. At least eight finally showed up but I knew they werent any competition. These guys show up early like me, but they run down to the dugouts, and reserve those spots to get autographs during batting practice. No threat whatsoever. If they all wanted to get in front of me I wouldnt have a problem because Id beat them down to the field anyway. Ticket ready to go, the gates went up, and we were in.
Okay folks. Its time to learn about a stupid rule U.S Cellular Field has that I was not aware of. In fact, I think this is a brand new rule they just made up. If you have been following my Blogs youll know I was at Cellular Field on April 24th 2010. Well, apparently between April 24th, and May 4th fans can no longer stand in the first row directly behind the visiting teams dugout. I dont know about the WhiteSox dugout because I never went over there. I didnt even look when I was told to either stand in the aisle one row back, or stand behind the front row seats. But its okay to go sit directly next to the dugout to get autographs. Im trying to understand these rules, and Im trying to understand the logic behind them, and Im also trying to understand who is making them, and Im also trying to understand why they are being made, and Im also trying to respect them. But its hard to do all of that. The front row was completely empty. It was just me, and the usher that was standing on top of the dugout. Ridiculous.
So there I was standing in the aisle exactly one row back. I inched forward and stood inline with the front row seats eventually. These rules were stupid so I compromised. I cant remember if the usher left, or I simply blocked him out but eventually I was standing in the front row again with no one bothering me. I called out to a Royals coach that I couldnt recognize, and asked him for a baseball. I was told that the Royals were short baseballs today, and he couldnt throw me one. I thanked him for his time, and I tol dhim I would hit him up once “we” got back to Kansas City. He nodded, and assured me he’d hook me up at the K. I moved on. ( Obviously wearing my Kansas City Royals cap. )
The Royals had a good 45 minutes or so left on the field, and I traveled down the first base line to see if I could snag some foul balls. Within minutes of moving down there a ball was hit my way but out of reach. I stayed on it, and Kyle Davies came over to retrieve it. I asked him if I could have it, and he tossed it to me. Bing! Ball number one. I quickly put it in my bag, and continued to wait on more. It really didnt hit me that I had my first ball of the day until moments later. Its almost as if Im expected to get at least one. Especially after the game at Busch on April 30th 2010. What an utter disaster that game turned out to be. So I felt pretty good about today after snagging that one.
I continued to wander around the baseball field. The nice thing about Cellular Field is you have instant access around the entire field. There arent gates, and railings, and shields, and ushers, and guards to keep you from moving around. So I moved out into the outfield for a while to see if I could catch a home run ball. Well, the Royals were hitting, and they dont have any real power hitters except maybe Billy Butler, Scott Podsednik, and MAYBE Jason Kendall. I played straight away center field, and a few came my way but way too short. Fortunatly, I identified 2009 Cy Young Award Winner Zack Greinke as he came running full speed to the wall while trying to field two baseballs. I asked if he could please toss one of them up to me, and he looked up at me with a smile after stopping himself against the wall. He backtracked off the warning track, and underhanded me one. Bing! What a stand up guy! The Royals werent throwing a lot of baseballs into the crowd so I felt fortunate enough to get these two that I had. I guess they really were short on baseballs or they just didnt like WhiteSox fans.
The Royals had plenty of right handed hitters coming to the dish so I sprinted to the third base line. Minimum competition. Mostly fathers with their kids encouraging them to catch baseballs. I held my ground but nothing really came my way. One ball came screaming passed everyone, and no one had a good position on it so it just rolled to the corner. I contemplated assembling my glove for the glove trick, and as soon as I started to make my way towards the corner to get the ball this guy had already started lowering his ball retrieving device! Within seconds he had the ball! I ran after him to speak with him, and he acted as though I had the plague. I finally caught up with him.
” Excuse me.” I called after him.
” Oh, I thought you were security. I heard a voice, so I started to make a run for it.” He laughed.
” No, I wanted to know if youve seen Zack Hamples ball retrieving device.” I laughed, as I spoke to him.
” The guy on Youtube? Yeah, Ive seen that. Its pretty impressive. Most people see me use this cup so they run up to the concessions stand, get a cup, come down, and it doesnt work because they arent doing it right.” He explained.
” And security hates me. Everytime I use it they come running after me to try, and get my device. Its insanity.” He chuckled.
” I know. Last time I was here I tried to use my ball retrieving device, and security stopped me. I got the ball anyway but still.” I said.
” Yeah. I hear ya. Well, happy hunting. Ill catch you later.” He said as he jogged away. I waved, and started to head back over to the third base line. Then I went back over to the first base line.
I stayed on the first base line for the remainder of batting practice. Which wasnt much longer. After being rejected by Willie Bloomquist in the outfield for a baseball, I had another chance to get another from him. He sent a soft line down the line into foul territory. When the ball landed it died out immediatly. I knew it wasnt going to roll all the way to me. Id have to go get it, and I figured a whole mess of kids were on their way to get it. I had a young couple sitting in the front row directly to my left that were in my way. I stood there for a half a second waiting for one of them to jump up, and get it. Niether of these things happened. I couldnt believe it. No one was going after this ball? It was two feet away from these two people! TWO FEET! It rolled to the wall, and just sat there. I excused myself, moved passed the happy couple, and scooped up the ball.
” Who hit it?” Asked the security guard ten feet away.
” Willie Bloomquist.” I answered back. What an easy grab. It doesnt get any easier than that, folks. I know at Busch Stadium that ball would have been swallowed up by a fan before it even reached the wall. So that was number three on the day. As soon as I got that ball, I wandered down the line towards home plate to call out to Bruce Chen to toss me number four. No dice. Batting practice ended, and I made my way up into the concourse for some food, and drink. I still couldnt believe that no one went for that last ball.
During the game here is where I sat.
Great seats for $35.00. Unfortunatly, I was in the middle of the row, with people on both sides of me. Two foul balls came my way. If I had been sitting on the aisle one of them would have been mine. It landed about five feet from me on the stairs, and rolled underneath the seats. The next foul ball came later in the game, and it came right at security. ( Security were the ball boys ) All I saw was security run out of the way, the ball took a hard bounce up into the seats, and nailed a guy right in the face. The ball hit so hard it put him on the ground, and flew back out onto the field. Scott Podsednik fielded the ball, and tossed it into the stands. The guy that got hit was okay, but was taken by EMS to make sure. And that was it. After the game I chased down to the Royals dugout to try, and get one more ball. No dice.
Worth mentioning. This game was Ozzie Guillens 1,000th as a manager for the White Sox. Congratulations Skipper!
Also for you Ballhawks that are chasing homerun balls here is a list of players that are close to their milestones;
Alex Rodriguez- 585
Andruw Jones- 397
Derek Lee- 297
Alfonso Soriano- 297
Albert Pujols- 373
Game; Chicago WhiteSox Vs Kansas City Royals May 4th 2010 7:05pm
Game Balls; Three
In the above picture on the top shelf are my first ten baseballs Ive snagged from four different stadiums. Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Great American Ballpark, and Safeco field. I only attended a handful of games last yearbut when I went I never left a game without a baseball from the stadium. The second shelf holds my first 20 autographs from Major League Baseball players. This season I am now up to 72 autographs, and 28 baseballs from five different Major League Stadiums. Some of my current streaks are as follows;
10-game streak of getting at least one ball outside of Busch Stadium.
13-game streak of getting at least one ball during a game.
5-game streak of getting at least one ball in a different stadium I havent been to.
Current average of baseballs at a game- 2.0 Baseballs a game.
Probable Future Games;
May 4th Cellular Field
May 11th Busch Stadium
May 12th Busch Stadium
May 18th Wrigely Field
May 19th Cellular Field
May 22nd Kauffman Stadium