Results tagged ‘ Chicago ’
I’m actually super-excited about this baseball season. I guess what I’m most excited about is the fact that I’m going to make it to four new stadiums in the Major Leagues that I have not yet attended during the regular season.
First stop is Oakland California. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (formally Network Associates Coliseum and McAfee Coliseum and commonly The Oakland Coliseum or The Coliseum) as you all know is the home of the Oakland Athletics. There is a lot of great history at this specific baseball/football stadium. ( The Oakland Raiders play here too ) Catfish Hunter threw the ninth Major League perfect game here. And this was the home of the Bash Brothers! Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. Canseco made history for being the first player in the Major Leagues to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season. The A’s won a few World Series here too, including the “Battle of the Bays” World Series against the Giants which was intrupted by an earthquake. And on May 9th 2010, nearly 42 years later, Dallas Braden would throw the 19th perfect game in League history. I will be attending Opening Day and the following game. Right now I have a lifetime of 97 baseballs. So Ill probably end up snagging my 100th at the Coliseum. Im still debating if I should get it signed by Oakland Athletic players. My first baseball I ever got was at Kauffman Stadium where I had a few Royals sign it. So. We will see.
Safeco Field. Or the “Safe”. I’ve already been to this stadium a few times and I really like going here. Although the security is extremely tight and the security guards in the field box seating are quite the nazis but its still a great atmosphere for baseball. I’ve snagged about seven baseballs here over the years and since Safeco Field will be my “home” stadium for the season, and possibly the next few, I plan to snag a lot of baseballs from this particular place.
When the dog days of summer roll around I will be making my way towards the midwest. The last two seasons of baseball I spent the majority of my time between Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City and Busch Stadium in St Louis. I also visted U.S Cellular in Chicago and I attended a handful of games at Great American BallPark in Cincinnati. I really enjoy watching baseball at GABP. But this year I will be headed to…
Wrigley Field! Now. I havent actually attended a live game here. BUT. I did go to a “Meet and Greet” in 2009. The Cubs lined up in the lower third base side bleachers and all the fans single filed down the concourse, shook hands, collected autographs, and met their favorite players. It was quite the experience. The Cubs do it every year. So if you think you missed out you didnt. Although it does cost about $300 dollars to do this but you get a hotdog, a Major League baseball, and tickets to the game. Being that this is the second oldest baseball stadium in the Major Leagues to this day I have to pay this place a visit. I had opportunities to go last year and the year before but I just didnt go. I know, I know. But I’ve made plans to go this year.
More towards the end of the season I am planning a trip to Florida.
Tropicana Field is one of the stadiums Im visiting while Im there. This place really reminds me of the Kingdome. Its really ugly on the inside and not anymore appealing on the outside. But for some reason I like it. But what really confuses me is why is there a domed stadium in Florida? If anything they should have gave this eyesore a retractable roof. Anyway. Im excited to be apart of some Rays baseball this year. Of course my last stop in Florida before I head back to the Emerald City…
Sun Life Stadium. Or Pro Player Stadium. Or Dolphin Stadium. Or whatever else they’ll decide to name it before I get there. Now the reason why Im going here this year is because the Florida Marlins are actually getting a new stadium next year. Thats right folks. Sun Life Stadium is on the “endangered” list. Well, not officially. They arent actually going to tear this stadium down because the Miami Dolphins play here. But after this season there will be no more baseball. The name of the new stadium where the Marlins are going to play will be called Miami Ballpark. ( I’m so glad they didn’t name it something like Netflix Stadium or Kosher Field ) So next year I will be returning to Florida to watch baseball there and hopefully snag a commemorative baseball.
This year I plan to attend at least 100 baseball games. So going by my stats of ball snagging I should end up with close to 250 baseballs this year. I havent much else to report other than there is about 10 days left before Opening Day! I hope everyone had a great off season, and wonderful Spring Training and an even better Regular Season/Post Season!
Until next time…
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A new season of professional baseball is here again. The 2011 baseball season will kick off for most as early as April 1st. For me, well, I will be in Oakland California enjoying Opening Day at the Oakland Coliseum.
When I go to a baseball game to ball hawk I like to hope for the best possible odds. Fighting large crowds of people is always something a Ballhawk has to endure no matter what baseball stadium he/she goes to. We all consider the weather, and most importantly, something that doesn’t always get taken into consideration, is the give-away, and the promotional nights that most Major League teams have at the stadiums. Lets face it. Awesome give-away nights fill seats. Its just the name of the game. But what give-away fills the most seats? What give-away is most desired? What give-away is the most sought-after? When I was a kid it was photo-baseballs, and bat nights that filled the house. Now its that beloved bobble-head figurine!
Bobble-heads are collectors items. All ages come to the stadiums on bobble-head nights to add to their ever growing collection of unique and rare bobble-heads. I for one am not a collector of those cute little bobble-heads. I have one, and I gave it to my mother. It was the Bret Saberhagen Cy Young Bobble-head that the Royals gave away last season. My mother doesn’t even know what a Cy Young award is let alone who Bret Saberhagen is. But it doesn’t take away from the cute factor of Bret’s little head bobbling around as you walk by him as he’s perched by her jewelry box.
So in this column for MyGameBalls.com I thought Id put together some Bobble-head history facts, and then list the current bobble-heads that will be given away to fans this year. Depending on who you are knowing this information could either save you a headache of going to the game fighting large crowds to be first in line or create more excitement while shagging baseballs during BP. Either way. Knowing is half the battle.
Some of the first bobble-heads ever created for the Major Leagues were in the 1960s. These bobble-head dolls were made out of papier-mâché. Each baseball team received these dolls, and they all looked the same minus the uniforms. It wasn’t until the 1960 World Series where player specific dolls were created, and sold during the World Series. Those players were Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roger Maris, and Roberto Clemente. Unfortunately, since the dolls were constructed out of papier-mâché most have not survived.
From the 60’s to the 90’s the bobble-head went through many dramatic changes. The dolls were constructed out of ceramic after the failed papier-mâché didn’t work out. Unfortunately, the ceramic nodders were expensive to produce, and fans weren’t taking much of an interest. It wasn’t until 1999 when the San Francisco Giants handed out 35,000 Bobble-heads of Willie Mays that really captivated the audience. The new bobble-heads primarily made out of plastic were cheap to construct, and the fans loved them.
After the year 2000 bobble-heads became such a craze that you could even contact a company to have them customize a bobble-head for you. Bobble-heads became so advanced that they even had matching scars, tattoos, hair color, eye color, and lifelike facial features.
So here is the 2011 list of bobble-heads that you can get for free during the season. With paid admission of course.
Buck Showalter June 25th
Brian Matusz August 6th
Racing Gracie ( Mark Grace ) April 28th
Kirk Gibson August 6th
Chris Young August 27th
Fan Voted Bobble-head September 24th
Frank Thomas April 12th
Frank Thomas April 29th
Roger Bossard June 12th
Beer Vendor Bobble-head August 4th
Mark Buerhle August 20th
Starlin Castro April 5th
Tyler Colvin April 19th
Geovany Soto July 14th
Mike Hargrove August 13th
Joey Votto April 30th
Dusty Baker July 12th
Jonny Gomes July 23rd
Kansas City Royals
Willie Wilson June 4th
The Angels of Anaheim
Kendrys Morales May 24th
Dan Haren June 28th
Angels Gnome August 18th
Michael Bourn April 10th
Hunter Pence April 30th
Chris Johnson May 14th
Bill Brown/Jim Deshaies broadcasters June 11th
Bret Myers July 13th
Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw May 17th
Don Mattingly June 1st
Hong Chih Kuo June 14th
Andre Ethier July 17th
FernandoMania July 26th
John Axford April 24th
Casey McGehee May 22nd
Zack Grienke June 12th
Craig Counsell August 14th
Randy Wolf September 25th
Rickey Henderson April 30th
McHammer 80’s theme July 17th
Ray Fosse August 16th
New York Mets
Mr Met April 18th
Felix Hernandez April 9th
Ichiro Suzuki May 6th
Neil Walker May 21st
Nelson Cruz June 20th
San Diego Padres
Bud Black May 7th
Toronto Blue Jays
Jose Bautista April 3rd
Roberto Alomar July 31st
San Francisco Giants
Cody Ross June 4th
Aubrey Huff June 25th
Buster Posey July 10th
Tim Lincecum August 27th
Saint Louis Cardinals
Stan Musial April 24th
Matt Holliday August 28th
The most expensive bobble-head today is The Beatles Bobble-head, and its priced at $32,000 dollars.
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
Despite 21 years of watching the Mariners play subpar baseball and hardly ever winning in the playoffs, and be one of the three teams that have never made an appearance in the World Series, here I sat in the front row of Cellular Field waving my Mariners colors proudly. What could any Sox fan say to me? The WhiteSox went into this game 6-11 and have only won the World Series three times in their franchise history. Its more than the Mariners, but realistically its not much more. Whatever.
Outside the gates I conversed with a fellow autographer, and ballhawk that lives in Chicago. We traded autograph stories, and complained mostly how Ken Griffey Jr doesnt sign any autographs, and hasnt for the last ten years. Kind of depressing, really. We also traded great autograph opportunity areas around different baseball stadiums. He told me a lot of the autographs he’s gotten were from players sitting in hotel lobby bars! If you can believe that. I told him the two stadiums that I have had the most success at ( Kauffman, and Busch ) and how to get autographs from those places. He was quite impressed, and told me he’d like to go sometime and try his luck.
As soon as the gates were opened, we ran in to make our way towards the field. I always hated ushers, and security that constantly want to check tickets, and find out where we are supposed to sit. I got stopped twice for ticket checks on my way to the field. Unreal. Get a real job!! Anyway. As I approached the field, I scurried down to the first base line where the Mariners were warming up, and stretching. Whoever was in the cage at the time was sending countless baseballs into the corner of right field. Don Wakumatsu, and Adam Moore were working on catching drills, and Moore almost caught a ball to the back of the head! As he retrieved it I asked for it, and he handed it up. Bing! Too easy!
Did you know the walls at Cellular field along the base lines are like two feet high? I was amazed at how low they were. But it made it easier for me to snag grounders.
Here is a picture of Cellular Field on a brisk rainy day in Chicago.
So after snagging my first baseball on my first visit to the stadium within 3 minutes of being there, I thought Id continue my luck in the right field hole. Sure enough ball number two came at me but it was about six or seven feet out from the fence. It actually landed close enough to catch if I were up the line about ten feet. Unfortunaltly, I was blocked by fans. So I waited for another player to come my way, and hopefully he would give me the ball, and not a Sox fan. Well, if you are a fellow BallHawk you would know Zack Hample. Zack Hample has over 4,000 caught MLB baseballs to his name. He also has a glove trick that you can use to effectively pickup balls that are out of reach on the field.
( Theres the link incase youd like to learn how to do it. )
So there I am assembling my glove to pick up this ball on the field. I get everything ready, and I start lowering my glove. People start chanting to me, and laughing, clapping and all of that riff raff. I was having a pretty good time with it until security stepped in. Secuirty can be a pain in the butt, but I understand their purpose. You cant have every fan lowering their gloves onto the field to get baseballs. Anyway. He shut me down but handed me the ball anyway! Bing! Number two! It was a fresh ball too. No markings on it expect where it was hit, and where it landed. Such a treat from security.
My third baseball was a little harder to get. Since I didnt want to wear out my welcome in the right field corner, I figured I’d move around a little bit and see if I could get some players to toss me a ball. Had I known the WhiteSox werent going to participate in batting practice I probably would have stayed on the first base side a little longer. But as I think back on it Im glad I moved over to the third base side when I did. The Mariners shut down BP 15 minutes after I got over there. Garrett Olson, and Kanekoa Texeira were handing business out in left field, and there were a few baseballs laying around. I knew I had a great chance of snagging number three from either one of those guys. I knew their names, and I was the only Mariners fan in the South Side in Cellular Field on the third base side! As Olson came walking backwards to the ball, I knew he knew what I wanted. He was trying to avoid making eye contact with me but I called out to him anyway. ” Garrett! Im the only Mariners fan here today! Show some love, brother! Can I get that ball, please!?” Sure enough. He cracked a smile, and tossed me number three! Bing! Wow! Three baseballs on my first visit to Chicago! My best is at Safeco Field last year in April when I came away with four but I gave one away. So this year Im looking to get at least four to tie, and then five of course to break that old record.
I sat front row as usual and watched the entire game with annoying, obnoxious Sox fans all around me. Ive never been to a stadium filled with mean drunks before. But I guess each city is different. Ill have a hard time going back, but I must visit Wrigley Field, so I was planning a two day game weekend in Chicago in May. Wrigley Field, and then Cellular Field. Cellular is by far the easiest stadium to get baseballs at though. It ranks up there with Kauffman. Its not hard at all.
Game; April 24th 2010 Chicago WhiteSox Vs Seattle Mariners