Results tagged ‘ Ichiro ’

5-22-2012 Safeco Field

When I attended yesterday’s game at Safeco Field, I had left my sim card to my camera at home. Not only did that prevent me from taking quality pictures, but it prevented me from taking a lot of quality pictures. I like to document my games and tell a unique story every time I attend a Major League game and with my crappy iPhone at my side, it was nearly impossible to get some good shots to add to my blog. With that being said, more camera woes continued today. No, I didn’t forget my sim card this time- I forgot to charge my camera battery. So when I took this photo after being stranded on the downtown city bus (more on that later) the little battery icon immediately started flashing orange. Or red. Or whatever color it was that indicated that my camera was about to die…

….Safeco Field is huge and when I took this picture, I was roughly a half of a mile out. When I initially set out for Safeco, I took the city bus towards Seattle. When I got about 1.4 miles from the stadium itself, the wheelchair access door/thingy on the bus started to act up. I figured the bus driver had everything under control but after twenty minutes went by and no results and the bus wasn’t moving, I knew I had to make a decision. I hopped off the bus and boarded a second which got me within a half of a mile of the stadium (where I took the above photo) and walked the rest of the way in. I was a little shocked that the mass transit system didn’t have a better back up plan other than to just make the passengers exit and fend for themselves. Luckily for me, I served ten years in the Army. Otherwise, it’s possible you would’ve found me curled up in a little ball outside a building crying for my mother.

When I entered Safeco Field at 4:40pm, I got my first baseball from Ichiro. I had a few people jockeying for a position to catch his throw but with my height, I made the easy one-handed catch:

You can see Ichiro in the above picture way out in right-field. And yes, he threw it about that far, too.

I hung out in the ‘Pen for an addition few moments before I wandered off towards the bullpens. When I saw this…

…it was glove-trick time. And an easy snag for my second ball on the night. I would’ve gone after the second baseball in the above picture but 1) it was too far out and 2) security was right behind me. Two on the day is still pretty good considering I have a streak to uphold. This game would mark my 114th consecutive game with at least one baseball.  And according to MyGameballs.com, this was my 43rd ball snagged on the season. Could I really finish the month of May out with 50 baseballs under my belt? The chances of that happening were very high considering the Angels are coming to town for a four-game series.

When I went out into the outfield to try to snag another Josh Hamilton home run, I got Robbie Ross’s attention instead. Sort of by accident. I was the only one wearing Texas Rangers swag and when someone whistled to him for a baseball after he had fielded one, he turned to me and lobbed one my way. The only problem? He overthrew me. By a lot. I had to jump as high as I could and take a back-handed stab at the baseball only for it to bounce of the tip of my glove, roll around in the seats behind me and eventually some dude in Tampa Bay Rays gear scooped it up.

When BP was coming to a close, I wandered down to foul territory to see if I could get any autographs or maybe an extra toss-up from someone. The only problem was, Yu Darvish was signing autographs. Which gave all the other players enough time to scamper off the field while everyone was distracted with Darvish. Here’s a couple of pictures of the swarm:

It was a frenzy. People were trampling, cutting in line, getting multiple items signed by him, elbowing and pushing each other out-of-the-way. I, myself, didn’t try to really get his autograph. He came within a few feet of me and I figured I’d attempt to get a picture with him if the opportunity presented itself, but I wasn’t going to go out of my way to get it. Here’s another picture of the swarm:

It was absolutely nuts. All in good fun, though, right?

With these two baseballs that I snagged- and the five that I snagged yesterday, so far that’s helped raise $14 bucks for my friend, Holly. If you are just now reading my blogs, here’s the skinny on who Holly is and what happened to her. Click here for the Help Holly campaign.

The game started soon after all of that and I had great seats in centerfield. Clear aisles to my left and with Hamilton’s hot streak, I figured I’d have a decent shot at catching something. Unfortunately, nothing was really hit my way. But I did get to watch Hamilton make some fine catches in the outfield. I even got on tv!

Look at the top right corner. I’m in the black coat behind the girl with the glove.
The Texas Rangers took the game by a score of 3-1 with Mariners starter, Hector Noesi taking the loss. His record falls to 2-5 on the season whereas Matt Harrison’s record improves to 5-3 as he takes the win for the Rangers.

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: Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 15,971

Baseballs snagged: two (Ichiro toss-up, glove-tricked one of the vistors bullpen)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 43

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised at this game: $2.08

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $82.42

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

Total number of donors this season: 9

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!

4-18-2012 Safeco Field

The Indians weren’t very interactive with the fans during batting practice which made my time at Safeco Field extremely boring tonight. I didn’t bother to ask any Mariner players on the field for a toss-up. Instead, I banked on finding a couple loose baseballs in the seats after the rest of the stadium opened up. When I ran over that way at 5:10pm, I found absolutely nothing. About ten minutes later, a slicing foul ball came down the line, I turned, raced up the stairs near the wall, anticipated the bounce and caught the ball as it traveled into the bleachers:

More boring-ness ensued so I chased over to the Mariners dugout right before the Mariners portion of batting practice ended and got Jaime Navarro to throw me a baseball as he walked off the field:

I really didn’t bother to snag anymore baseballs other than opportunities that came easy. Which the Indians were so unresponsive on the field, I just stood on the party deck and engaged in small talk with Kim, the Bullpen Mom and another friend of mine, Ryanna.

The only other action I saw was an Ubaldo Jimenez autograph and about the first three innings of baseball at the stadium before I had to run out and catch my bus home…

…and this year one of my goals is to catch Ichiro’s 100th career home run. I think he’s sitting on 95. In the first inning of play, Chone Figgins went deep and then Ichiro followed with his 96th home run one batter later. It was getting close to having to buy tickets for the outfield, which will be extremely expensive due to the Mariners (and all the other teams) going to this lame-ass “dynamic” ticket pricing. If you haven’t heard about it, well, you’re one of the lucky ones that your team hasn’t gone to it yet. Basically, its price gouging. And it sucks.

 

 

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: Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 11,343

Baseballs snagged: four (caught BP foul-ball, Jaime Navarro toss-up)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 21

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $39.69

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

Total number of donors this season: 8

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!

4-14-2012 Safeco Field

When I arrived in Seattle around mid-afternoon, I knew there was going to be a parking disaster because the Seattle Sounders soccer team were playing a game at 1pm. I wanted to visit the Pike Place Market but found myself debating whether to go visit the marketplace or get my usual parking spot. And since parking was filling up fast because of the soccer game, I decided to hold off on my visit to one of the more popular tourist places in Seattle. When I arrived at the stadium this was what I was up against:

I had so much time to kill before the game, I decided to stop in to the Blazing Bagel to get some breakfast/lunch. This place makes the best bagel sandwiches in the entire world!

See what I mean?

Tonight’s game would be a little less crowded than yesterdays game at the Safe, though. When I ran inside, I instantly made a bee-line for the ‘Pen and tried to get Ichiro’s attention. He was out in right field shagging baseballs like he always does. My goal this year was to get a baseball from a few key players. Ichiro was one of them. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but Ichiro is the only player I know that’s currently playing, that wears his first name on the back of his jersey.

While I was shouting for Ichiro to throw a baseball my way, Jason Vargas decided he’d like to try his cannon from right field. He was deep in right field and when he threw a baseball towards the party deck, I didn’t think it would make it. The ball died right around the warning track. Ichiro continued to shag a few more fly balls and then ran over to get the baseball that Vargas threw:

The streak lives another day with an Ichiro toss-up! If you have no idea what “streak” I’m talking about, well, I’ll tell you. With that baseball I just caught from Ichiro, that’s my 103rd consecutive baseball game catching at least one baseball. Or finding one. Or glove-tricking one. Whatever. The point is, getting at least one baseball at a game. Also, another streak I have going is since last Monday, I’ve been to a baseball game every day this week so far. Tomorrow will be my seventh game on the week and sadly, the Mariners have an off-day on Monday and I have no future plans to go anywhere. I’d go to a minor league game, but I haven’t really checked the schedules and I’m not an avid minor league baseball fan, anyway. So my little mini-streak of going to baseball games will probably come to an end on Monday. Interesting enough, I created some extra statistics during that mini-streak that you may or may not be interested in.

After today’s contest between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics, I’ll have spent 26 hours in three different stadiums, watching 39 innings of baseball, consuming three dishes of nachos, one hotdog, and one chicken meal, having drank four cokes, ate two pizzas slices, traveled 1,205 miles and slept 40 hours. After Sunday’s game I will definitely update these stats for you because I know you care that much.

After getting a baseball from Ichiro, I wandered out into centerfield to strike up a conversation with Tom Wilhelmsen.

“Hey, Tom! How was spring training?” I asked.

“It was awesome!” he turned, replying back.

“Good to hear, man! How was Japan?” I said to him.

“Oh, man! What a great experience! I had a blast!” he shouted excitedly.

“Yeah? I traveled out there too, to watch the series and I absolutely loved Japan.” I hollered back.

“You traveled out there for the games?” he asked me.

“Heck yeah! I wouldn’t have missed that for the world!” I replied.

We talked a moment or two longer about how peaceful Japan was and blah blah. It was really awesome to talk with Tom about the trip I had. If you’d like to read all about my awesome experience in Japan, click here and here.

Soon after, I made my way down to the Athletics dugout where I engaged in more conversation about my trip to Japan. Most of the Athletics fans that were down there would’ve loved to have gone and I was asked multiple times if I worked at Microsoft. Listen, my trip was extremely affordable. For those of you who are curious how people can afford to travel, I just put myself on a budget, saved, saved, and saved and went. The plane ticket was the most expensive part of the trip. Anyway. Enough about all that crap, right?

When Grant Balfour walked off the field after batting practice, I wasn’t able to get a baseball from him. Later on, I took this picture of what he threw to me:

Authentic Grant Balfour sunflower seeds!  And here’s a shot of the two super-stars on the Athletics team signing autographs for fans:

I’m not really a Yoenis Cepedes fan. I think he’s a tad overrated and a little too aggressive at the plate. He reminds me of Mariners Carlos Peguero. Cepedes started the season out very strong. He hit a home run off Shawn Kelley in the Tokyo Dome and two more in the Coliseum. But since then? He hasn’t done much. He’s been striking out more often than not, and he’s made at least one error in the outfield that I know of. He doesn’t excite me when he plays because I know he’s going to strikeout. I predict that Cespedes will be back in the minor leagues before you know it.

Before the game started, I wanted to return to the Flying Tortoise Cantina to get me a huge plate of nachos. And this time, because the ‘Pen wasn’t wall to wall with drunks and party-goers, I was able to accomplish that:

What an amazing plate of food. Safeco Field has probably the best tasting food in any stadium I’ve ever been to. I’ve only been to 14 stadiums, but still. Safeco, so far, ranks number one.

Once the game got underway, I ventured out into the outfield seating to look for a public icon at Safeco Field. Her name is Amy Franz and she’s in charge of recording all of Ichiro’s hits during the season. If you know nothing about her, well, I’m about to tell you a little bit about what’s happening at Safeco. When Ichiro had his amazing run for the all-time hit record in Major League baseball, Amy and her husband Joe, were there to record all of his hits. When hit number 262 came around, this sign ended up in Cooperstown:

I had a chance to meet Amy and Joe and I got my picture taken with them:

As you can see, Ichiro is already at hit number 11. It’s pretty awesome to see this sort of stuff at Safeco Field and Amy and Joe actually traveled to Japan to watch the Mariners play the Athletics as well. They even brought their Ichi-meter!

I tweeted Amy and Joe while I was in Japan, but I never was able to meet up with them there. I finally was able to cross paths with them at Safeco Field and they are super nice people. If you ever want to meet them and get a picture with them like me, just head on down to the Ichi-meter sign and holler at them!

I spent the majority of the game wandering around the stadium for the first time since last season. It felt really great to be back in Safeco Field amongst friends and Mariners baseball!

In the above photo, these are my baseball friends. The majority of this group come to just about every single Mariners home game and some, like me, even travel around the United States watching the Mariners play in different stadiums.

From left to right;  Ryanna, Emma, Carla, ChrisKrista, Vanessa, Jacob and Jacob’s girlfriend (who I really havent met yet). They’re an awesome bunch and they’re always down in the ‘Pen near the Mariners bullpen. The group is called the GirlsCorner because we all post ourselves up in the ‘Pen in the corner near the bullpen. The guys in the group are GirlsCornerSecurity. It’s pretty awesome.

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 21,071

Baseballs snagged: two (toss-up from Ichiro Suzuki)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 14

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $26.46

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

Total number of donors this season: 8

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!

4-2-2011 Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

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Todays game started promptly at 6:05pm. Today was also the day that I would be attending another game but I would be looking to score my 100th career baseball to add to my collection. Talk about pressure. Anyway so I marched downstairs to eat some breakfast. The hotel provided a very nice spread and I was happy to take full advantage. On my way back to my room I managed to stumble and fall UP the stairs where I dumped some food and nearly lost the handle on my juice. Was it really going to be one of those days? Surely not.

As I arrived at the stadium that same lone security guard was again in my way. He stopped me and informed me to backup and go through the “pay” lane. I ended up having to shell out $17 bucks to park. I guess I cant complain. But the Athletics havent been to the playoffs since 2006 so parking should be A) free or B) not $17 dollars. Im just saying.

Once I made it inside where I safely parked my vehicle I started wandering around the stadium again. I took some pictures of the Athletics history. Check out these next batch of photos.

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Pretty awesome stuff. Oh, I forgot to mention in yesterdays blog. As I was taking pictures and messing around with my phone Michael Saunders, Tom Wilhemsen, and Jamey Wright walked passed me. In the picture above this was where they walked by. Of course I was wearing my A’s hat so I didnt stop them for any autographs or pictures.

Here are some more pictures of Athletics history.

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I bet you didnt know all of that about the Athletics. They are a pretty successful team throughout the years I will say. Thats one reason why I think they should get a new stadium. Maybe not move all the way to San Jose. But a new stadium should be in order.

Take a look at this next picture. Its the rules of the stadium. They have a lot. ( Like all stadiums ) But this particular rule sign was placed at a gate that is not used for entry. And I could not find another one like it near a gate that is used for fans to gain entry into the stadium. Here. Take a look.

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Under the “not permitted” part I circled the artificial noise-maker part because during the game there were many fans that had cowbells, trumpets, drums, and other various noise making devices. And only one fan was ejected because he kept blowing his trumpet into some ladys ear. He was intoxicated so thats probably one of the main reasons why he got kicked out. Also containers carrying liquid of any kind, wouldnt that cover just about everything? Kind of redundant to …well, nevermind.
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Once inside the Mariners were already on the field. Batting practice was kind of slow. There wasnt much hit into the seats but there was one baseball that I had a fairly good chance of getting. It was hit a section up from me and when I went chasing for it there were about five other people chasing after the ball too. I ran up the stairs and started hopping over the seats like a dummy. I should have just let gravity do its work and I would have had the baseball. So after I lost it I ended up catching it in the corner of my eye going back down the rows. So I started hopping back over seats and I didnt get my leg up high enough which I ended up bashing my knee right into a seat back. It pretty much knocked the wind out of me and I ended my pursuit. That hurt.

I took it easy during batting practice trying to nurse my knee a little so I ended up heading over to the left field area. Mariners bullpen coach, Jaime Navarro was out there shagging fly balls. He tossed a few to some kids but basically ignored me when I asked for one. Not one on the Mariners roster except Milton Bradley could reach the seats. So I wasnt about to go stand around in the outfield bleachers. By the time I got up there batting practice would be over.

After batting practice concluded I looked for a decent spot to wait on a foul ball. I sat over on the first base side about two sections up from the field. I thought security was going to come over and boot me out but since the stadium was not even half full they pretty much left me alone. As I sat and waited for the game to start Jason Vargas started warming up in the bullpen. So I cautiously wandered down closer for a few pictures.

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By this time it was about seven minutes to game time. Not one security guard came down to run the fans out. Not even the Enforcer. I was really shocked. So I kept standing there.

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Five minutes until game time. Still no security guards. I even looked over my shoulder a few times and they were all up at the top of the concourse yapping their gums off. So I just kept standing there. When Vargas was finally done warming up he tossed the ball towards the dugout and it rolled underneath the bench. I waited for the Mariner pitchers to approach the bullpen but Jaime Navarro walked over first. I asked him if he saw Vargas warm-up baseball underneath the bench and he said he couldnt see it. I was leaning over the bullpen like a jackass and the nearest security guard walked over and pushed on my shoulder slightly. I guess that was his way of telling me not to lean over the bullpen and to go find my seat.

The game was very entertaining. It was very similiar to last nights game too. The Athletics took an early lead and throughout the game their defense just fell apart. The Mariners again showed off their smart base running skills, and Chone Figgins showed off his power with a deep drive to centerfield to score Ichiro from third base. By the seventh inning the Mariners had climbed back in the game to take the lead. Unfortunately I was still without my 100th baseball. Here is how it played out.

Jason Phillips, the Mariners bullpen catcher, would throw Michael Saunders and Ichiro a warm-up baseball to play catch in between innings. Michael Saunders would play catch with Milton Bradley and Ichiro would play catch with Jason Phillips. When the Athletics were ready to take their at-bats, Ichiro and Saunders would then end their game of catch by throwing the baseballs back to Phillips. He would then remove his glove and go sit back down. I watched this all throughout yesterdays game and todays game. And what I particularly paid attention to was what Jason Phillips did with the baseballs towards the end of the game. Sure he gave one or two away during the game but he also gave away two more right before the bottom of the ninth. So in essence I was hoping and praying that the Mariners would be leading the game going into the ninth. And they were.

One other thing I paid attention to were the security guards. They walked down to the area where I would need to stand but they also run back up the stairs right before Ichiro and Saunders both threw the baseballs back to Phillips. So I had to plan this just right and act with such precision it drove me batty.

The top of the ninth came and went. Ichiro, Saunders and Bradley jogged out to their positions in the outfield. Jason Phillips took a few steps towards the foul line. He threw Saunders a baseball. The security guard wandered down to take position in front of the field. Phillips lobbed Ichiro a baseball. I waited. My heart was racing. The advertisments came to an end on the Jumbotron. Ichiro finished playing catch with Phillips and he threw the baseball back in with a high arch. ( signaling that he was finished ) The security guard slowly wandered back up the stairs. I stood up. Saunders threw his baseball back to Phillips. I made my way slowly down the stairs towards the field. As Phillips turned around I held up my glove and joined about five other Mariner fans in calling his name. He saw me and lobbed me the baseball. All I saw were other hands trying to make the catch. Barely missing by inches. I secured the baseball in my glove and gave my thanks. Number 100.

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Ballgame.

Game; April 4 2011 Seattle Mariners Vs Oakland Athletics

GameBalls; One

Attendance; 15,067

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