Results tagged ‘ Kauffman Stadium ’
The World Series is happening right now. And yes I’m very excited for both teams. Since I won’t be attending any World Series games due to lack of free schedule this fall my baseball season as concluded. But on a rather high note, I must say. I started this baseball season with the intent to attend nearly one hundred baseball games. Well, that didn’t happen. I attended roughly 53 games. But I did travel to a few new baseball stadiums like, PETCO PARK, AT&T Park, The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Angels Stadium and Coors Field. I never did make it to Sun Life Stadium or Tropicana Field like I had hoped this year. Sadly, Sun Life Stadium won’t be used as a baseball stadium next year. But the Marlins are getting a new stadium called Miami Ballpark and it should be epic.
I did, however, turn my baseball hobby into a charitable lifestyle. Last year I attended 37 games and snagged 87 baseballs. Mainly at Busch Stadium. And I did travel to Kauffman Stadium a bunch of times, I visited U.S Cellular in Chicago a couple of times, I even traveled to Cincinnati to see Great American Ballpark. And let’s not forget my trip to Texas where I watched game six of the ALCS. That was so awesome that I’d like to return to the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at least one more time. This year was one of the best seasons I’ve ever had. Mainly because I met so many awesome people who I’ll probably be friends for life with now. And, like I mentioned before, I started a charity project.
If you’re new to my Facebook page or new to reading my Tweets on Twitter then this blog entry that you’re reading now will do you some good. It will explain in detail how my charity works, how you can help and what I’m exactly doing traveling to different stadiums in the U.S like a mad man. And I’ll even hit on some future projects I’d like to start.
First and foremost this season was awesome. I attended 53 games and snagged a “career high” of 135 baseballs. You can check out my baseball snagging statistics here if you want. (I haven’t entered in the last game I attended yet) Anyway. That website that you just looked at breaks down my individual stats along with many other Ballhawks that chase baseballs during the season. As you can see I have an important streak going for myself. I’ve attended 98 games consecutively where I’ve snagged at least one baseball. To me that’s pretty impressive. Well, sorta. It’s actually very easy to catch a baseball at a Major League baseball game. Just ask Zack Hample. This dude is amazing and a very nice guy. He came to Safeco Field on his quest to attend all 30 Major League stadiums and snag at least 1,000 baseballs during the season.
So with all that information you’ve just took in I sat down one morning and asked myself how I could make snagging baseballs at stadiums more exciting and at the same time how could it help the community of Seattle. Since my home stadium is now Safeco Field I thought to myself, what am I most passionate about. Dogs and baseball. (Sorry, ladies.) And since I am so addicted to baseball and have an undying love for dogs…Snagging Baseballs for Puppies was born! I contacted the Seattle Humane Society via email and presented my idea. immediately they loved the idea, I was emailed some paperwork, and then the season started! The problem was that in order for this all to work I had to rely on neighbors, friends and family to pledge an amount per baseball that I’d snag at games. Here’s how it works;
I go to games and snag as many baseballs as I can. (my game high is like, eight) I blog about every game so people can read how I snagged them and picture evidence is also provided in the blog entry, and you as the readers email me and tell me how much you want to pledge per baseball that I catch. Now some Ballhawks have certain rules that they follow on catching baseballs. Me personally? If I catch it and it’s an Official Major League baseball AT an Official Major League Stadium, it counts. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter of it bounces off some kids face into my glove or if it bounces between two fans and lands in my cup of soda…it counts. I used to count only the baseballs that I went home with. But what about the ones I give away to kids? Or military veterans? Those count. I even caught a baseball OUTSIDE Safeco Field this season! Peter Bourjos hit a BP home run into the party deck and it bounced all the way to the gates where I was standing. That happened I think on 6-13-2011.
When you make a pledge it’s also very simple. Unless you’re rich you want to keep your pledges in the cent range. Like, .10 cents a ball or .25 cents a ball. Because at the end of the season when I rack up my total and I’ve snagged 135 baseballs and if you’ve pledged $3.00 a ball..well…that’s $405.00 big ones. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. I’m just saying try to keep your pledges realistic. Because who knows. I could go to a game and snag twenty baseballs and if you’ve pledged a dollar amount that you won’t be able to cover at the end of the season that looks pretty bad on your part. And if you don’t want to make a pledge you can just make a flat rate donation of $10.00. That’s the minimum that Crowdrise.com will allow. I have nothing to do with that. And yes I think that’s rather high. But I also understand that you can pay with a debit/credit card and I think the banks charge them a certain amount per transaction. I don’t know how it all works.
I think I’ve pretty much covered everything. So in conclusion I’d like to thank all that have pledged. Dorothey, Jennifer, Zack, Bronson, Kathy and Robert, thank you all so much for your pledges. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to those animals that the money went to, to try to help enrich their lives that much more.
And for those that just dropped a donation that is very much appreciated too. I couldn’t thank you all enough. Carla, Charlie, Ryan, #GirlsCorner, and a couple anonymous donations. I hope I got everyone. Together we raised over $200 dollars! And that is just amazing! This is the email I received from the people at the Seattle Humane Society.
Great job on your fundraising efforts! Thank you for your support of the animals at Seattle Humane! We’d be honored to be part of your project again next year. I will let you know when we receive the donations.
So there you have it, people. I’ll be at it again next year and hopefully, as a group, we will be able to raise more than $200 dollars again! That’s the goal, anyway!
Another early bird tour would serve me well. Since the last two games I was sitting behind the Tampa Bay Ray dugout and not one baseball was tossed my way despite my TB gear. I was slightly disappointed with the Rays. But I was fine with that. I had three baseballs in as many games, and I was going for the 100 baseball mark today. And it started off looking very promising. As soon as we were released into the stands by the tour guide, I ran down the steps and started calling to Zack Greinke. He was walking towards two baseballs. He scooped the up and randomly tossed them into the seats. Since I was the first one down that way I had an easy shot at atleast one of them. I heard the pounding footsteps of competition behind me but I remained calm, played the ball as it rolled around, and leaned over the seats to scoop it up. It was a daring move because the ball was on a roll. Ive learned that when a baseball is hit or thrown into the seats you want to carefully play the ball as it rolls. I try not to get overly aggressive and chase it down to the very row it was thrown to because it generally rolls down the aisles.
I heckled Greg Holland a little bit about the other day with the annoying kid, and we shared some laughs. It wouldnt take long, and Mike Aviles would rip a foul ball into the same area where Greinke had tossed a baseball. I was the only one there so I just casually jogged that way, and let the ball roll right into my glove with no competition within miles. I got an approving smile, and nod from the tour guide, and I went about my business. The second baseball that I got I probably wasnt supposed to have. Or it was just fate or luck or whatever a person would want to think. I mean, getting this ball was like winning the lottery. I should have probably played the lottery after this. It was getting close to 5:30pm. Seven minutes. Then the gates would open, and people would pour in. After that foul ball I retrieved off the bat of Mike Aviles, he would put two more deep into the outfield, and one baseball bounced into the seats. I watched this whole thing playout.
I figured a security guard would have seen it or a kid or someone. But nothing. Five minutes before the gates would open, and all of a sudden out from behind the batters eye some teenaged kid went down to where the ball was, and he started frantically searching for the baseball. He walked all the way down to the wall, and he started asking baseball players for a baseball. It wasnt but a moment later someone tossed him a baseball, and off he went. I couldnt believe it! He didnt see the ball! Or he grabbed it, and I didnt see him grab it! The ball must be well hidden, I thought to myself. Like its stuck in a cupholder, or wedged down in a seat. Three minutes. I had to move. I had to do something. The security guards were taking their positions. I had to risk getting ejected or yelled at. I had to. I started up the stairs towards the outfield. I scanned around. The tour guide was busy with conversating with the fans. This was my break. I scampered up the stairs, and fast-paced walked towards the outfield. The “Take me out to the ball game” jingle roared over the loudspeaker. The gates were opening! I bolted towards the outfield seats. I raced passed a security guard that was seeing what I was seeing. There it was! Are you kidding me?! The baseball was in the middle of the first aisle out in the open! How could that kid not see that?! No matter. It was mine.
To my suprised the ball I scooped up was an Inaugural Season baseball from Target Field. Ive been wanting one of these all season. I never did make it out to Target Field. But it didnt matter now. I had one, and as I dropped it into my bag I noticed something else on another ball. Could it be? Yup! I had two of them! Greinke could have tossed it to me, or it could have been the Mike Aviles foul ball. I felt like going home. Mission accomplished. I came away with not one, but TWO of these baseballs! As I hung around the bullpen Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays started to head in there. He was actually going to retrieve some baseballs? That would be a first. But of course he was new. So I hung around, and called to him. He fired one to me but it came up short. He tossed another one to me, and I grabbed it. Number four and the final baseball of the game. I sat behind the dugout of the Rays all game, and no luck. I tried to get the umpire to toss me one, no luck. The Rays from the bullpen didnt toss me one either.
So that concludes the regular season for me. Im planning on making it out to Great American BallPark Monday if the Reds can win Game 3. It should be fun. It will be my second playoff game, and Im eager to try to snag some baseballs.
I hope everyone had a great baseball season, and an even better postseason!
Game; October 2nd 2010 Tampa Bay Rays Vs Kansas City Royals
So after taking a two and a half month hiatus from baseball ( mainly because it was so hot, and I just couldnt stand the heat this year ) I managed to catch three more games before the season ended.
It was a blissful day at Kauffman Stadium. The air was cool, and it had been months since I had been chasing down baseballs. I felt a little rusty, but at the same time I felt confident. I was nervous. I actually found out a secret today at Kauffman. They have the early bird tours that allows fans to enter the stadium an hour early than the regular time. Of course you have to put up with a little political stadium nonsense like a stadium tour, and some dugout experience that you sit in a mock dugout, and watch the history of the Royals. Its about fifteen minutes long. After that they allow the fans to watch batting practice. But the catch is you have to stay between the dugout, and the foul pole. So any baseballs that go out into outfield bleachers will be retrieved by stadium staff. Total bummer. But thank goodness the Tampa bay Rays were in town. Not one baseball went into the outfield bleachers that I saw.
I snagged seven baseballs overall in three games. Which raised my total lifetime to 96, and my season stats to 86. My first baseball came from Dan Wheeler. I was decked out in my Tampa Bay Ray gear, and he noticed me right away. After he was done warming up he fired a baseball my way with a high arch to it. I was excited that I would get my first baseball of the day after a long hiatus this quickly. I was so excited I closed my glove too soon, and even thanked him before the ball struck my glove. The ball took a high bounce up, and I soon realized I didnt make the catch. I saw the white orb drop before my view, and I threw my arms out to get a visual so I could re-adjust, and catch it if I could. The ball clanged off the railing, and it made a sickening bounce down towards the field. I had a split second to react, and before I could the ball bounced off the top of the padded wall, and shot down to the grassy field. My stomach turned. I wouldnt get that back I though. Dan Wheeler had jogged out to the outfield to shag fly balls, and there was only one player near the ball. Luckily, it rolled into his view, and he picked it up. I quickly laughed it off and explained I had dropped it. He quickly lobbed it back up to me. Wow. What a relief! I joked with a nearby fan that, that was the first baseball I had dropped all year, and it was hard to get them back once dropped.
Batting practice ended and I took my assigned seat to watch the contest in full. It was a great game because it seemed like the Rays were just letting the Royals beat up on them. The Rays at a sure spot in the playoffs anyway so I think they were saving what they had left in the tank for the playoffs.
A unique experience to say the least.
Game; September 30th 2010 Tampa Bay Rays Vs Kansas City Royals
Kauffman Stadium was hosting a 1985 World Series Championship Softball game featuring players from the 1985 World Series Champions Kansas City Royals, and of course their opponents the St. Louis Cardinals. The softball game started at 1:00pm, and gates opened at noon. I knew that batting practice wasnt going to be happening today. So I didnt get to the stadium early to be the first one in. In fact, I didnt get to the stadium until about 1:30pm. The softball game was already in full swing, and the Royals were ahead. Just like in 1985! Wow!
Once inside I quickly ran over to the left field seats because I saw Joe Beimel playing catch.
I was super excited because the stadium had probably 5,000 people inside for this softball game, and I was the only guy with Rockies stuff on! I thought it was a for sure thing! As soon as I got set up to ask for the ball from Joe, hoards of Rockies fans came over. Well, maybe not hoards but the railing filled up fast. Mostly little kids with a Royals t-shirt on, and a brand new Rockies hat on. Wow. Not to point anything out Mom, and Dad but your kid is wearing both teams colors. How confusing. But I knew what the parents were after. They wanted a player to throw their kid a ball. Joe would stop every once in a while, and look around to see all of these fans gathering at the railing. They all wanted one thing. A baseball. Unfortunatly, only one fan was going to get it. I was right behind Joe, and I kept telling myself to move to his left over by the foul pole. He would see me better. As soon as I did that five minutes later he turned around, and threw the ball to the person that took my spot.
With the softball game nearly in its last few innings, Melvin Mora came out with a glove, and a couple baseballs. He was helping Joe with some mechanics on pitching, and a few other players started tossing the ball around. Then they all dropped their gloves, and started doing wind sprints. Melvin Mora started to walk off towards the dugout. He still had a ball. So I followed him. I stayed a few rows up, and when he finally reached the dugout, he sat by a female reporter in a chair next to her. There were two more Rockies fans that had pens, and baseballs, and were calling to Melvin to sign. I took that opportunity. I ran down to the dugout, and called out to him for the ball. He gently tossed it to me, and I promptly thanked him.
Now I dont know if I wasnt paying close attention to the field or I had tunnel vision from trying to get Joe Beimel to throw me a ball but over in the right field corner were four baseballs just laying on the grass. No grounds crew, no players, no security in sight. I ran from the third base dugout all the way to the right field foul pole to set up shop. I switched to my Royals hat in the process, and I think I had to reallyw ait maybe 25 minutes before Josh Fields came over. I was the only one standing there. As Field made his way to the ball pile a younger kid joined me, and started to call out to Josh for a ball. I just held my glove out. As more kids ran down the stairs towards me, Josh looked to me, and held up a ball. I asked nicely for it, and he tossed me one.
Josh Field in fact threw all four into the stands. That was really generous of him to do that. He could have just gathered them all up, and tossed them into the bullpen. Thats what I expected him to do. But he didnt. He got all four to four different fans. Thanks Josh!
After the softball game ended I headed over to the spot where the Rockies warmed up. Since Ian Stewart already hooked me up yesterday for a ball there I was really kind of hesitant to go back, and wait on a ball. Plus security was being a real pain the in butt. I stayed as long as I could, but all the warmup balls were tossed several feet to my right, and left. I was in a bad position anyway. So I really didnt expect to get one. I just didnt want to get harassed by security. If you stand over by the bullpen they tell you that you have to go find your seats because the game is about to start. ( This is 15 minutes prior to game time ) I dont know why security thinks they have to enforce these rules. Especially at Kauffman Stadium.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Colorado Rockies May 22nd 2010 3:10pm
Game Balls: Two
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.
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
Kauffman Stadium. One of the most unique, and beautiful stadiums in the Major Leagues. Although, I havent been to every single stadium that ever stood, I still love going to Kauffman. The people are great, the rules are fair, and the players are always willing to throw plenty of baseballs into the stands. Tonights visit to Kauffman was a little….nerve racking for some reason though. Maybe because its always a thought in the back of my mind of getting shutout at the K or not collecting my usual standard of baseballs. Whatever the case was, I really wasnt feeling it tonight.
I arrived at the stadium at around 2pm, and like always I was the first at the gates. Of course, here at Kauffman Stadium they dont open the gates two hours before game time. They only do that on Friday games, and Saturday games. So there I stood at the front gate waiting. Felix Hernandez, Casey Kotchman, Chone Figgins, Adam Moore, and David Aardsma took taxi cabs to the stadium. I watched them walk in but I didnt attempt for any autographs. Chasing autographs for me was kind of on the back burner this year anyway. I only need 30 more to reach 100, and I figured Ill probably have that by the All-Star break if I really focused on it. It was just nice to see some well dressed Mariners.
Side shot of the newly renovated Kauffman Stadium.
5pm finally rolled around. Thirty minutes until they opened the gates. You could hear the music over the loud speakers on the field, you could hear the cracks of the bats on the field, and you could smell the hotdogs, and other various stadium food aroma. I love baseball! The ushers, and security started to unlock the gates, and bring the bag check tables, and boxes out. The ushers chatted amongst themselves, and finally “Leroy” came over to me. He greeted me, and I offered to allow him to search my bag.
” Leroy, how come they dont open the gates two hours prior today? At Busch Stadium they do every game.” I asked.
” Im not sure. I know they open the gates two hours prior on Friday games, and Saturday games though.” He replied.
” Interesting. You’d think they would open them up two hours before game time everyday. It would be a great chance to make extra mo-” And at that point I looked back at the crowd behind me. Zack Greinke was scheduled to pitch tonight. It was Tuesday. It was cold, and windy. There were maybe 15 people in line with me. At that point I looked back to Leroy.
” Its got to have something to do with paying employees more money to open the gates an extra 30 minutes. Considering the fan base turn-out here as opposed to Busch Stadium. ” I said.
Leroy simply nodded silently. Those sad eyes stared at me for a moment. You could tell he was thinking something along the lines of ” Why cant Kansas City have a winning team?”
I could only look to my feet. I shook my head empathetically. I know the feeling. For 21 years I have loved my Seattle Mariners. Year after year I have watched them play some really subpar baseball. But like a loyal fan I support them, and continue to love them. Isnt that what baseball is all about? Winning and losing.
Right field seats. Even with a former Cy Young award winner on the mound tonight they couldnt turn out more than 20,000 fans. ( 14,969 )
So once inside the stadium, I immediatly started to scout out the best place to get my first ball. The Mariners were already on the field so time wasnt on my side. They were off in left field warming up. The Royals still had roughly ten minutes left on the field. Maybe. There were a few Royals cleaning up foul balls that were being hit into the right field corner but that was a long shot to get one of those guys to toss me a ball. I started down the third base line when I spotted a lone baseball sitting out in front of the Royals dugout. I looked around for any players that may come this way, and the Royals hitting coach Bobby McClure was about the only guy that could walk towards me. Sure enough, he did. I started calling to him. ” Hey, Coach! Hey Coach!” Pointed at the ball in any desperate attempt to get his attention. He waved at me, and rubbed his fingers together indicating that I would have to pay for this one. I laughed, and I told him I had to pay for parking, and the only cash I had on me was just for that. Plus, I explained I wanted to get a hotdog or something.
” Well, junior, its Buck Night, so you’ll have to do better than that.” He laughed.
” Im parked in a tow away zone too! So the fees are going to stack against me!” I exclaimed.
McClure eventually picked up the ball, and tossed it my way. Bing!! How about that. Within the first five minutes I got my first ball of the day. That has to be some kind of record. It has to be. I thanked him, and I moved on. I gave left field another thought, and just as I turned to jet up the stairs and head that way, I heard the command ” Pick up!” Yep. The Royals were done. Up the stairs I went, and I quickly traded out hats on the fly.
Now Kauffman is a little more difficult going from base line seats to base line seats. They have this huge restaurant behind home plate, and that also allows Diamond Club members to enter the stadium. Its actually a nice place to sit and eat but a huge inconvenience to me. Not that I am lazy in any fashion, it just takes away from the time it would take me if I could just scamper around the diamond on a cross section or something. I sprinted around the restaurant, and I noticed a father/son duo running that way as well. They were all decked out in M’s gear so I knew I would have to get down there fast, and be aggressive.
The whole Mariners pitching staff was down there warming up. I took up a spot on the railing behind Kanekoa Texeira. I was hoping he wouldnt recognize me from last Saturday at Cellular Field. To be honest with you I dont know how well baseball players memories were. I made quite a scene at Cellular to get a ball, and Texeira was standing by to witness. Maybe I would get one because it was the second time he has seen me at a Mariners game. In any case, I had to try. It wasnt five minutes later that Texeira, and Ryan Rowland-Smith were all done warming up. Texeira immediatly turned around, and tossed me the ball. Bing! Number two!
Ken Griffey Jr was in the cage smashing baseballs into the outfield bleachers. So I headed that way. He launched two into the left field seats as I was passing by but they were out of reach. I continued around towards the Batters Eye, and down to the Party Porch. I learn something new every time I attend a baseball game. The players that are generally shagging fly balls in the outfield are pitchers. Not all of them but the majority of the them are. So a key tip here is to learn the pitching staff of the teams you go to see. Fortunatly for me I already knew all that players names from the Mariners. So as soon as a fly ball was hit over the head of this guy…
I quickly struck up a friendly conversation.
” Mark! How are things going for you in Seattle? You look like youre having a lot of fun!” I yelled to him.
” Seattle is great! Thanks man! How are you?” He replied back to me.
” Im very well, thanks man. Just enjoying the day. Hey, what are the chances of me getting that ball from you?” I asked.
He smiled, and tossed it up to me. Unfortunalty, it bounced off of the top of the wall, and back onto the field.
” Bad toss! My bad!” He apologized, and got it to me this time.
Bing! Mark Lowe you are officially my hero! Now to get my fourth was going to be tricky. Most of the Mariners have been watching me now, so I would have to change it up a bit. I ran into the Centerfield bleachers ( since I had about 40 minutes left ) to see if I could shag a homerun ball. If you would like some tips on how to catch a line drive homerun ball, here you go; They come in hot, and fast! You better get a good read on the ball, and get a good jump on it. You better know your way around the seats, and aware of your surroundings at the moment. Lastly, make an aggressive catch. I failed to follow my own advice. I got tripped up on the stairs, and the ball was deflected by another fan. Fortunatly for me he too got tripped up on the stairs and he got stopped by the stair railing. He scampered towards the ball, and as I got to my feet the ball was within reach, and I grabbed it. Bing! My fourth ball of the afternoon! The other fan moaned, and growned and then let out a laugh as he explained that would have been his third.
I waited in the Centerfield bleachers for another ten minutes, and nothing else came my way. So I headed back down to the third base side. ( At this point I removed by black jacket to reveal my white undershirt I was wearing ) Two baseballs were laying on the grass within in five feet or so of my new position on the railing. All I had to do was be more outgoing than the fans around me, and hope whoever came over wasnt Mark Lowe, or Kanekoa Texeira. I had a shot. There were two of them. A few more Mariners fans perched on the railing with me so now I had a little competition. Fun. Soon enough the railing filled up with young Royals fans as well. My chances of getting one of those balls soon become slim to none. But I still had a shot. Rick Adair was the lucky Mariner to come our way, and I started shouting at him. I wanted that ball! Well, Rick decided that my quick wit, and humorous personality wasnt quick enough, or funny. The kids got the ball.
Back around the Royals dugout I went. ( The Mariners dugout was lined with fans ) If I were going to get my fifth ball here this would be it. The Mariners were busy with batting practice, and there was a small crowd of kids to my left. No one to my right, and nobody behind me. I was set. I started calling out to Eric Brynes, and Ty Van Burkleo everytime a new batter took the cage. No dice. But Rob Johnson was busy tossing a few baseballs to the crowd of kids to my right. I called a few times to him but he ignored me. Finally Rob Johnson tossed another one to the kids, and it got away from them, and rolled on top of the dugout, and dropped down into it. They kids desperatly asked the police officer to get it for them, and he reluctantly did. ( I remember when I asked a police officer last year for a ball on the field, and he told me he would get fired for touching it. Rules have changed this year I guess, or this cop hates his job and wants to get fired. )
The police officer came out of the dugout, and tossed it to the kids again. The ball squirted out of their mits for the second time, and dropped back down into the dugout. Wow. I called to the police officer.
” Hey, if you toss it to me Ill catch it!” I laughed. As did he, and he retrieved the ball for the second time. Before he could toss the ball up I interjected, and pointed to this little three year old that joined me with his father.
” Throw it to this little guy, sir! Those other kids had their chance!” I pleaded. The cop fullfilled my request, and tossed it to the child. I caught the ball for him, and handed it over. The father of the child told the youngster to thank me, and I responded with a thumbs up. As bad as I wanted that ball it wasnt really intended for me. I felt obligated to give it up. Even though I caught it. Even though those eight kids to my right had equal opportunity to catch the ball. Even though the players have tossed three to them already. Even though the players give more baseballs out to kids than adults. Even though. I still gave it to the kid. I thought to myself, ” I should have grabbed that ball, and ran.” At best I would have been boo-ed. I wasnt going to sit in that section. That ball will end up in that kids toybox anyway. Or end up a chew toy for the family dog. Ill tell you where it wont end up. It wont end up in a protective case high up on the wall with a small plaque reading ” Juniors first baseball from Kauffman Stadium”
Oh well. I had four, and the game hadnt even started yet. By the end of the game I still remained at four.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Seattle Mariners April 27th 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Four
So I spent my first game of the season at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Ive always loved going to this stadium and I will probably to continue to love it as long as the Royals continue to play baseball like a bunch of college students. The ticket prices are fairly reasonable ( Unlike Wrigley Field or Busch Stadium ) and the fan base is calm, and few. On average the stadium fills to about 10,000 to 18,000 depending on weather, the day of the week, and of course the time of the game. I think the Royals just had Zack Greinke BobbleHead night so that may have been their biggest fan turn-out since the season started. ( Above you will find Johnny Damon, and teammates standing on the third base line getting ready for the Nations Anthem to be sang )
I was of course the first person inside the stadium to start my ballhawking experience. Last year I didnt focus too much on collecting MLB baseballs. I focused on autographs. Which I will say I was very successful. I came away with 65 autographs last year. I also left 2009 season with 13 game balls. Not bad for someone that wasnt focusing on that. This year is a brand new year with brand new intentions.
I entered the stadium on the first base side and immediatly chased down to the field where Joakim Soria and Kyle Farnsworth were warming up. I am kicking myself for not asking Farnsworth for the ball after he was done with it. But like I said. This is a brand new year, and I’m pretty new to all of this. As the season progresses I will build more confidence where I will learn that calling out to players for balls wont hurt me or kill me. The worst thing that can happen is I will get ignored. So after the warm up tosses were completed by the Royals batting practice ensued. The Royals were actually launching quite a bit of balls into the seats out in right field. I was pretty comfortable waiting for a foul ball my way. After standing there for 30 minutes, and realizing the Tigers were about to come out on to the field, I made my way to their side.
Sitting on the third base foul line was my potential first gem of the season. I didnt have to wait but ten minutes before Joel Zumaya came over to scoop it up, and toss it in. I asked for it respectively and he tossed it my way. BING! Respect goes along way when asking players for balls. Use your P’s, and Q’s. The Tigers were launching quite a few baseballs into the left field corner, and the players were giving the fans a lot of attention as well. So I figured I may have a chance to get number two. When I got over there Fu-Te Ni, Ryan Perry, Rick Porcello, and Zach Miner were all tossing baseballs to kids. I was lucky enough to recognize Ryan Perry with his designer sunglasses on. I asked him for a ball twice. No dice. On the third attempt, he tossed the ball up but a few feet to my left. I got a finger on itbut I ended up actually blocked it from another fan. It landed back onto the field where the ball was then sent back into the infield.
I headed back to my seats after BP was completed and I waited for the Tigers starting pitcher to come out where he would warm up on the infield. As he did Carlos Guillen came over to signed some autographs. I opted out of having him sign anything I had available. But after the warm up was complete, Carlos Guillen ended up with the ball so I stood up calling to him. He threw it to me but another fan was standing in front of me trying to intercept my ball. I leaned forward to snagged it. Bing! Knowing players names, and identifying them pays off…sometimes. Unfortunalty, no foul balls were hit my way during the game.
Game; April 8th 2010 Kansas City Royals Vs. Detroit Tigers.
Game Balls; Two