Results tagged ‘ Mariners ’

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!

Safeco Field Tour

Two days ago I toured Safeco Field. The weather was mildly miserable but I was totally excited to see inside the Safe once again. Here’s a picture of what Safeco Field looks like in January:

Yeah, it’s pretty miserable. Safeco Field is much better in the spring. And with baseball playing on the inside. Once I got my ticket, which by the way they never checked, I took a few pictures of the memorabilia they had on sale. Broken bats, used jerseys, pictures of former players, autographed baseballs, just to name a few. I took this picture of a Ryan Rowland-Smith autographed baseball for two reasons: he’s one of my favorite players and his signature is really awesome. Here, take a look for yourself…

…wouldn’t you agree? And I would’ve bought it but I don’t buy memorabilia. I’d rather get my own autographs. It’s a lot better experience to meet the players instead. Besides, in 2007 I was able to obtain a Ryan Rowland-Smith original outside the stadium when he played for the Mariners. unfortunately, I was still new to the autograph collecting world and I had him sign my baseball with a red sharpie. So here in about another ten years the ink will have soaked into the leather and the autograph will be nearly faded away. I made that fatal mistake with George Brett too. I feel awful about it but there may be another chance to get both of their autographs the right way in the future.

Anyway. Back to the tour. Once we left the memorabilia store the Safeco Field staff was hard at work trying to prep the field, wash the concourse and scrub the seats for an upcoming event at Safeco called Mariners Fan Fest. If you’re a Mariners fan or privy to the Major League Baseball events you’d probably already know it’s this weekend. And I’m going. And I’ll be blogging about it too. So be ready for that!

Here’s a picture of the field:

Safeco Field is one of the prettier stadiums I’ve been to. I thoroughly enjoy the layout which gives fans 100% access to the entire stadium during the game. From a ballhawking perspective that’s pretty awesome. Ted, our tour guide, led us all around the stadium. We walked through the suites and he explained the prices for specific suites. For one of the better suites during a premium game, say like when the Yankees come to town, a suite behind or near home plate can cost in the upwards of $9,000 dollars! The rule is that you must have at least 18 people with you to get these suites. So if you know 18 people with $600-700 dollars, you’re in! And let me tell you: these suites are awesome. Take a look…

…and I apologize for the crappy picture. This picture doesn’t do the suite any justice. It’s absolutely gorgeous on the inside. And every suite is named after a famous Hall of Famer. We were in the Mickey Mantle suite.

Outside of the suites the hallways are littered with Mariners memorabilia, newspaper clippings etc. It was quite a site to see, let me tell you. If I could ever afford a suite I would certainly splurge and watch a game from there.

We visited the press box and the Diamond club, fancy-smancy is all I have to say. The Diamond Club, of course, leads you directly behind home plate. And a person can generally find a ticket for that area for around $200 dollars. But you know me. I’d rather take that $200 dollars and fly to Anaheim to watch baseball. That’s just how I roll. One day I’d consider accessing the Diamond Club. It’s all you can eat and drink!

And now for the fun part. The locker rooms and field access! Once we got into the locker room, Ted explained how the lockers are set up and who sits where. And this was where I met Jose Mesa’s nephew, Miguel. Well, I had met him in the beginning of the tour and he told me who he was while we were touring the suites and since he’s a huge Yankee fan, guess what seat Ted had him sit in?

You guessed it! Alex Rodriguez. Ted wasn’t sure where Derek Jeter sat and that’s okay. I also had to sit in A-rods locker chair with my Chuck Knoblauch shirt hanging out! Ha!

Miguel and I talked a lot about the long-standing feud between Omar Vizquel and Jose Mesa. I learned about this feud a few days ago when I found out Vizquel signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Vizquel wrote a book, which I have yet to buy and read, and said some things about Jose Mesa. In turn, Mesa vowed to hit Vizquel at every at bat when he faced him. Mesa was able to plunk him twice before he retired in 2007.

While Ted was explaining things along the tour, he led the group into the visiting team kitchen and shower. While he was doing that, look what I found:

Yes, the door was locked.

Anyway. On to the field!

Here I am holding down the Mariners dugout:

And here I am in the media room:

This picture was sort of blurry and it took Ted a few tries to get a decent one. He doesn’t have the most stable hands. But he did his best.

That’s the Safeco Field tour! I’ve toured one other stadium at that was Busch in St. Louis. unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures and I didn’t ever blog about it. That just means I’ll have to take a field trip back to St. Louis one of these days and tour the stadium so I can blog about it.

 

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A Moment of Silence for Greg Halman

Although I did not know Greg Halman personally, I’m sure a lot of fans, baseball players, friends and family did. It’s a tragic ending to such a great start for Greg. I watched him play most of his 44 games at Safeco Field and I can tell you first hand that he would have made a great addition to the Seattle Mariners baseball organization.

I don’t know why this happened but I’m sure eventually the facts will come to light. Until then, let’s take a moment of silence for Greg Halman…

And if you’re interested in reading the full story of MLB.com, you can read it here.

9-26-2011 Safeco Field

With the 2011 baseball season coming to a close I made arrangements to be able to attend at least the last Mariner home game of the season. Which is on Wednesday. It will probably be a very emotional night for most. Today’s game would start at 7:10pm and of course I got to the stadium early enough to attend batting practice. A small crowd gathered at the gates on this gloomy, rainy day in Seattle.

When I ran inside I immediately checked the centerfield gap and the sod farm behind the centerfield wall. To my surprise there were a few baseballs lying around and one within grasp. I quickly assembled my glove-trick and went after one.

“You need to lower your rubber band and you can’t do that right now.” Said a voice over my shoulder. I could hear other security guards in the centerfield bleachers whistling at me and hollering for me to stop but I didn’t care. I wanted to get on the board with at least one baseball this game…whatever the cost. If I get yelled at, so be it.

“I need to do what?” I responded.

“You have to stop that.” said the security guard again.

And at the moment I was reeling the baseball up. It wasn’t a baseball from Felix Hernandez or anything but it was well worth the trouble and the harassment from security.

I hung around the party deck for a while mainly because the crowd was so thin I wasn’t worried about anyone beating me to the seating bowls to scavenge for any loose baseballs. Steve Delabar was snagging balls in centerfield and when he tossed one up to a couple of girls I knew I’d be glove-tricking my second baseball out of the gap. Not that they’re girls and they can’t catch, it’s just that they weren’t wearing gloves and it’s hard to catch baseballs without a glove. I  retrieved the baseball for them and here is the result:

I wandered the bullpen area looking for more chances to use the glove-trick and I was stopped by one of the Safeco Field seating hosts, Bronson. He made a generous donation of $20 dollars towards Snagging Baseballs for Puppies and had me sign one of his baseballs that he got. I felt honored to be able to put my name on it and if you’ve ever signed a baseball it’s a lot harder than it looks.

Once the upper level opened up I raced down to the third base seating to look for any baseballs that were hit into the rows. I was able to find this one:

After I found the baseball in the above photo I walked over to the railing and called out to Tom Wilhelmsen.

“Hey, Tom. Do you want to play catch for a little bit? I found a baseball!” I said as I held it up and shrugged at him.

“Play catch? Okay, maybe a few throws, bud.” he replied back.

I tossed him the baseball I found, (usually I ask to play catch with the baseball player after they field a baseball to get them to throw it to me) and after I tossed it to him a baseball was hit near him. He sort of flinched a little and threw the baseball back to me and then told me this was probably not a good idea.

I told him I understood, I mean, I didn’t want him to get hit by a baseball. And I really didn’t think about that until after the fact. But nonetheless, I got to play catch with Tom Wilhelmsen for about a half a second and it was a really awesome half of a second too. Here’s a picture of Tom after we got done playing catch:

I walked the entire way around the stadium to the first base side of the stadium. And when I got there this is what I found:

Can you believe that? It was probably 5:20pm and this baseball in the above photo had been sitting there in plain view this whole time! Not only did I find this one but I found this one too…

…and just like that I had five baseballs on the evening! I would have had six but this baseball was incredibly hard to get plus security was standing right by me:

While I was staring down at this baseball and taking pictures the Mariners started to jog off the field. Batting practice for them had ended and I was way out in right field by the fair pole. I wanted to be at the dugout when BP ended so I literally had to sprint through the rows to get there in time. And when I did I got Jaime Navarro to toss me my sixth baseball of the evening. And by the way, this was my competition while I was messing around in the first base seating bowl:

I raced behind home plate, switched hats, took notes and moved down in the front row where the Oakland Athletics were already out stretching and warming up. I was sitting at six baseballs and I really wanted to break my single game record. All I had to do was snag one more baseball. After a few errant throws that nearly hit a couple of fans I met up with Todd Cook and his family. I got word from Twitter that he’d be visiting Safeco Field at the end of the month and it was really awesome to meet up with them. If you want to check out his blog you can by clicking here. Just as I ran over to them to shake Todd’s hand a baseball struck little Tim right in the arm as he was watching the Athletics. It looked like the baseball hit him square in the shoulder but later the medical staff at Safeco Field confirmed that he got hit in the hand and he was okay. Nothing was broke, thank goodness. While they rushed off to see the medics, Dave Valle came out on the upper deck and asked me what happened and where they were going. I made sure to fill him in on all the important details. After waiting around for about five minutes I decided to head up to Guest Services myself and make sure Tim was okay. Ballhawking could wait when their was a fellow ‘Hawker injured.

Fifteen minutes later we all walked out of Guest Services and headed down to the 3rd base seating bowl. Tim wanted to just hangout for a while, and I didn’t blame him. I had been hit by a baseball before and it really does hurt. I couldn’t imagine how much pain Tim was in.

I wandered back down to the bullpen area and just as I got there a couple of baseballs were hit near me. Here’s a picture of one:

I was watching security to make sure they weren’t standing by making sure I didn’t go after it and when they turned their back on me that’s when I made my move. I nearly had to talk my way into the spot in front of the ball because the lady that was blocking me assumed I was going to jump into the bullpen to get the baseball. I reassured her that’s what I wasn’t going to do and when I started to assemble my glove-trick she got the idea. First I had to knock the baseball closer by flinging my glove out passed the baseball and then by dragging my glove backwards over the ball it knocked it onto the concrete part of the ‘Pen. This was the result after I was able to reel it in:

The man in the above photo is Dino. I’m not sure if this was his first Mariners game or not but he’s from Australia. If you look closely at the underside of the baseball it has the Anaheim Angels 50th Anniversary logo on it. Dino was very appreciative of the baseball and I passed out my charity business card to him and the people he was with. We shared a few stories of rescued dogs, took a few more pictures, and parted ways.

When I returned to the party deck one of my friends, Ryanna,  that I attend baseball games with pulled me aside.

“There is a baseball that’s stuck underneath the tarp in the back corner of the Mariners bullpen.” She told me.

I, of course, had to investigate. And sure enough there was a baseball sitting in the corner. It wasn’t just any baseball. It was another Anaheim Angels 50th Anniversary one. But I couldn’t get it with my glove-trick. I had to wait for a grounds crew member. And when one finally arrived I asked him if he’d toss me the baseball. I got the “I’ll lose my job” excuse but luckily he told me he’d tell the bullpen cop about it and hopefully he’d be able to help me. Fortunatly for me, I’ve been really friendly with the bullpen cops and I also know them by name. So it was pretty easy to get the baseball from him. And I gave that one away to another friend of mine, Krista, that attends nearly every Mariners home game. She’s been wanting one of the special Angels ball all season so I felt pretty good about getting it to her. That was my eighth ball of the evening.

After that I engaged in a quick photo-op with the Todd and Tim:

I ran over to the Mariners side of the stadium at around 6:45pm to try to snag one more baseball. But none of the Mariners that were out warming up bothered to bring any baseballs with them. Alex Liddi and Luis Rodriguez played a quick game of catch in front of the Mariners dugout but it was actually a little too crowded for my taste so I ended up leaving and walking back to the party deck in centerfield.

The game itself was very entertaining. Especially when Brandon League came in to pitch in the ninth to try to notch save number 37. Which he did. The Mariners were able to hang on for a 4-2 win and a huge three-run home run by Justin Smoak pretty much sealed it for them too! The last game of the season will be played on Wednesday which I will be attending.

Also, a huge thanks to another good friend of mine, Carla, for donating $25 dollars to my charity. You can click on the link below to get more details or donate yourself. Her donation pushed me over the edge of $200 dollars raised this year. I never thought I’d end up raising so much money, so a huge thanks goes out to her and everyone else that has donated, pledged or done both.

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Game; September 26th 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Eight

Attendance; 17,057

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $219.65 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $50.20 this
season

9-13-2011 Safeco Field

For the record I did not want to attend this baseball game. Why? Because of Alex Rodriguez. I dislike that man like there is no tomorrow. And I’m sure I can speak for many, many Mariner fans. Even the fans that go to one baseball game a year at Safeco Field. I can even say with confidence that the fans that show up for a Mariners bobblehead, walk in the gates, grab a bobblehead, turn around and exit to their cars to go home don’t even like Alex Rodriguez. Seriously? It’s not about him using steroids. I’m over that and I also understand from an athletes point of view why they would consider using steroids. Or even growth hormones. Whatever you want to call it. That fact that he lied about his steroid use is what bothers me. And not only that? How he left Seattle. Which is also understandable but if you’re going to leave the team that put you in the spotlight at least go to another division. Or go to the National League. Or just go away. Anyway. I’m off my soap box now.

With all that said I found out that Alex Rodriguez was not going to be in the lineup. So I jumped in my vehicle and drove out to Safeco Field. Since the Yankees were in town I thought the stadium was going to be packed. But it wasn’t. Maybe 18,000 showed up. And that’s such a light crowd for a Yankees game. When I got to the stadium these fine gentlemen were working on some new posters outside:

Here’s a brand new poster of Miguel Olivo:

When I ran inside there wasn’t much competition and plenty of open spacing in the bullpen areas. I got my first baseball of the evening from Trayvon Robinson. You can see him in the picture below. He’s the Mariner player with the high socks.

Robinson ran down a fly ball that landed on the warning track but failed to bounce into the bullpen. I was standing right there when he appeared in front of the open bullpen door as he was walking towards the baseball. All I had to do was get his attention. I simply flapped my glove at him and he picked up the ball, brushed it off on his pants and went to throw it to me. He lost grip on the ball and he never got airborne. He picked it up again and this time launched it to me. The ball nearly came up short and I had to really stretch for it. But I made the catch.

I still wanted a baseball from Felix Hernandez really bad. When I noticed him out in centerfield I made a bee-line for the ‘Pen area. Or the party deck. Whatever it’s called. Everytime Felix fielded a baseball I screamed at him to throw it to me. But he paid me absolutely no attention at all. Thoroughly bummed I figured out a different plan of approach. I was destined to get a baseball from that man. When the rest of the stadium opened up I raced to the centerfield bleachers and lined up directly behind the King. But he never got another baseball. Steve Delabar and Jason Vargas were fielding everything and tossed a couple into the stands. I could have easily made some catches but I wanted a baseball from Felix. And then he walked off the field. It was then I noticed a huge fan gathering around the Yankees dugout. Guess what that meant? I’ll show you in the next couple of pictures.

Here is what the crowd looked like at the Yankees dugout:

I noticed the crowd from centerfield. I literally ran to the Mariners dugout because it was pretty much just me standing there. Check it out:

The Mariners were about to end their portion of batting practice and that meant only one thing. I had absolutely no one competing against me for a baseball. Lucky me I got Chone Figgins attention. He tossed me a baseball but I was three rows back from the front. The ball came up way short and it landed in the camera pit. At first I didn’t see it bounce around down there so I was concerned the camera lady wouldn’t be able to find it. Amazingly it landed inside her backpack!

She was totally oblivious to the whole thing and I didn’t want to just reach into her backpack and grab the baseball. I kindly asked her if she’d dig it out and she did. Instead of handing it to me she tossed it to me and I nearly lost it again. I made sure to thank Figgins as he walked into the dugout too. That was my second baseball of the evening.

On my way back out to the outfield I managed to scoop up a softly hit grounder that barely made it past first base and trickled into foul territory. Again, there was no one around but me to get it. So I hauled it in for my third baseball on the evening. After the Mariners jogged off the field and the Yankees came out I wandered the bullpen area for any loose baseballs that I could glove trick. I found one in the Yankees bullpen and I easily snagged it via glove-trick. Everyone, of course, was so amazed by what I did I actually got a “standing ovation”. I wasn’t really paying attention to it until one guy patted me on the back and told me “Good job.” So I humbly tipped my cap and moved on. It felt kind of good to get that kind of attention, I’m not going to lie. That was my fourth baseball of the evening. Here’s a picture of the baseball afterwards:

While I was in the bullpen area a batting practice home run was hit into the Mariners bullpen and it bounced into the back corner. No one was really around to witness it expect me. Like I said; everyone was at the Yankees dugout. Here’s a picture of the ball. See if you can find it…

…It’s tucked away in the back corner. While I was standing there Jason Phillips was walking into the bullpen. He picked up a baseball on the way to the bench and turned around to throw it up to section 151. Like I’ve said many times before; everyone was so fascinated by the Yankees being in the stadium that most people forgot that the Mariners were even here to play. No one responded to Jason Phillips request to throw them a baseball. He shrugged and put the baseball in his pocket. When he turned around to continue to the bench I was standing on the other side of the fence glove ready. All I had to do was flap my glove at him. It took him a moment to get the baseball to me but when he threw it, it was a high beautifully aimed arching throw that smacked right into my glove. It was such an awesome throw. And the results:

You can see Phillips in the background digging through the bag of baseballs. That was number five on the night and my third baseball from Jason Phillips this year. My first baseball and my 100th lifetime baseball from Phillips came on April 2nd 2011 at the Oakland Coliseum. And my second baseball from him came on July 30th 2011 at Safeco Field.

Remember the baseball that bounced into the corner of the Mariners bullpen? I had a few options I could try. I could ask Miguel Olivo when he came over to warm up to grab the baseball for me OR I could wait for someone less busy to enter the bullpen. I also knew that one of the grounds crew raises the protective scoreboard screen and uses a hand crank in that very corner where the ball was at. I rolled the dice and waited on the grounds crew. When he showed up I asked him how his day was going and then hit with the infamous, “Is there anyway you could grab that baseball for me and hand it up?” I thought about extending the truth and telling him I dropped it while trying to get an autograph. But how many times during the season do baseballs land there? He’s probably heard every trick in the book. So I held my breath and hoped that worked. He didn’t answer me right away but after he was done…

…another Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim commemorative baseball!! Not only was that my sixth baseball of the evening but that’s my fourth Angels commemorative baseball!! Not my fourth one of the game but my fourth one overall. I absolutely love these unique baseballs.

Once the game got started it was pretty much the Yankees dominating. The Mariners put up a really good fight and the final score was 3-2 Yankees. The most wonderful moment came, (even though I’m anti-Yankee) when Mariano Rivera notched his 600th career save. History. Here is a picture of him taking the mound before the historic moment:

The picture quality sucks because I forgot my SD card again and not only that I left my SD card in my camera that was sitting at home on my computer desk. So I was limited to my iPhone once again. Here’s a picture of Rivera after the save:

This game reminded me when I drove 800 miles from St. Louis to the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on 10-22-2010 to watch game six of the ALCS last year. I had goosebumps when Rivera recorded the milestone.

 

 

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Game; September 13th 2011 New York Yankees vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Six

Attendance; 18,306

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $185.00 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $46.60 this
season

9-9-2011 Safeco Field

Yesterday at Safeco Field I had a blast. I wanted to continue that good vibe and collect even more baseballs. It was so easy because the fan base simply died off for this series. In all fairness, who wants to see two last place teams battle it out? Since I love baseball so much I couldn’t careless who played. I just wanted to see some baseball! I figured for a Friday evening in Seattle, with awesome weather, and the kids all in school now, the crowd should be next to nothing. I was pretty much correct in my assumption. Here is a picture of the party deck well past the time the gates had opened up:

Seriously. That was my competition. It was literally dead. So allow me to back up a little bit and start from the time I walked into the stadium.

Yesterday the Mariners didn’t have batting practice because they got into Seattle from Anaheim quite late. I’m not sure why but that’s what I was told. Today the Mariners were having batting practice but for the most part I was being ignored. I called out to Anthony Vasquez a few times, Trayvon Robinson a few times and even Dan Cortes. Nothing from any of them. It wasn’t until 5:10pm when the rest of the stadium opened up and I found this little gem just sitting in an empty row of seats:

Moments later I found this as well:

I gave away the first loose baseball I found to a nearby woman who had her son with her. And of course I kept the Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball. After hanging around in the third base lower seating bowl for a few extra minutes I decided to try my luck at the “Safeco Field Lookout” . I waited for just the right moment and then called out to Alex Gordon. I had to call his name three times before he finally turned around and looked up at me. I flailed my arms rapidly and motioned for him to throw me a baseball. And when he did…

…I caught my third ball of the evening. You can see Gordon in the picture above walking slightly to his right. He’s the player with the number four on his back. Super nice guy. And not because he threw me a baseball. Well, yeah. That’s mainly why he’s a nice guy. While I was up there looking around I saw Bruce Chen doing the same thing he was doing yesterday; teasing the fans with a baseball. I didn’t know if perhaps he would remember me from yesterday but I had to give it a shot.

When I got down to the party deck there were plenty of fans wanting a baseball. But again. I had the edge. My Kansas City Royals hat. Chen wasn’t playing games with Jesse Chavez this time. He was playing games with Joakim Soria. So the payoff would be awesome. I lined up at the far corner and made sure Soria saw me wearing my Royals hat. Moments later he lobbed a high arching throw that I knew was going to land in the party deck. I took a step forward, outstretched my arm and made the catch. That was my fourth ball of the day. And from Joakim Soria too.

When batting practice started to come to an end I wandered the bullpen looking for any extra baseballs that I could glove-trick out of there. When I saw a baseball at the end of the Royals bullpen I ran over  to try and pull it out. When I arrived, there was a younger baseball fan standing directly in line with the baseball. I asked him if he was trying to get the baseball and he told me he was. I explained to him that it would be a lucky shot if you actually ended up with the baseball because usually the groundskeepers come through and scoop all the baseballs up. I told him I’d glove-trick it out of the bullpen for him. Since I had possession of the baseball that counts towards my total which now put me at five on the day. I handed the baseball off to him, we shook hands and parted ways.

Before the game started I wanted to get something else accomplished. Today I brought the baseball that Jason Phillips threw me on 4-2-2011 at the Oakland Coliseum this year which turned out to be my 100th baseball. Since Phillips tossed it to me I wanted him to sign it. I’ve actually been trying to get him to sign it for the past few games I’ve attended but he was always busy and I don’t want to bother these guys when they have work to do. But the opportunity presented itself when Jason walked up to the bullpen cops and started talking to them. I quickly grabbed my baseball and my pen and walked over to him.

“Hey Jason, I was wondering if you had time for a quick autograph.” I asked him

“Sure, no problem.” He replied.

“But I was wondering if you could personalize the baseball for me. This is my 100th baseball ever caught in my life and you threw it to me in Oakland on April 2nd.” Jason smiled as I explained the significance of the baseball to him.

“Well, what do you want me to put on it?” He asked.

“I don’t know!” I said with a laugh. ” You’re the baseball player. You guys always have something witty to say.” He laughed too, I gave him my name and this was the result:

 

The Mariners game was absolutely amazing. Alex Liddi, who made his Safeco Field debut, ended up hitting a double on his second at-bat. The cool story about Liddi is his season ended while playing for the Tacoma Rainers and his parents had purchased airline tickets for him to go back to Italy and then he gets called up to the Mariners. How cool is that? The Root Sports guys and some freelance writers from MLB Network came down to film Steve Delabar as well. Liddi and Delabar were hot topics in Seattle and the ‘Pen area got quite popular.

Since I was standing there I asked all kinds of questions to the camera man and the people who accompanied him. I also passed him my business card with all my blog information, charity website information and my contact information. So hopefully I’ll hear from those guys one day. Maybe I’ll be famous too!

Jeff Francoeur made some fine plays in the outfield to rob Dustin Ackley of a home run and an extra base hit. After Francoeur robbed Ackley of the home run, Olivo blasted one off the fair-pole in left field. Olivo also hit a double and a triple. He came up short for the cycle but it was still awesome to see.

After the game ended I called out to Dan Cortes and got him to toss me my sixth baseball of the night. The Mariners came out winners with a 7-3 victory over the Royals.

 

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Game; September 9th 2011 Kansas City Royals vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Six

Attendance; 14,805

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $178.70 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $44.80 this
season

 

 

 

 

8-26-2011 Safeco Field

I arrived at Safeco Field sitting on 198 lifetime baseballs. Well, not literally sitting on them but I have about 198 baseballs at home. Give or take a few from giving some away every once in a while. This is what I initially saw when I ran out to the party deck after receiving a very cool and stylish Seattle Mariners fleece blanket:

That’s Jason Vargas and Felix Hernandez. Vargas is on the right. I called out to both of them quite a few times and I finally got Jason Vargas to throw a baseball towards me. unfortunately, he either lost his grip on the baseball or just under/over estimated the distance and this was the result:

Can you see the baseball? It’s in the corner on the left side by the garage door lookin` thing. The ball actually bounced on the railing before it landed over there. The good news is Jason Vargas saw the whole thing go down, and he flapped his glove at me to let me know he would try again. The more good news is that the security guard on the other side of the fence also saw the whole thing and came over to get some other baseballs that were on the grass behind the centerfield wall.

I was very shocked when the security guard hooked up myself and another adult instead of every kid in the stadium. I was also shocked when five seconds later Jason Vargas whistled at me and tossed me another one. The ball in the picture above is actually my 100th baseball on the season, and the one Jason Vargas tossed me is my 200th lifetime baseball. In the Ballhawking world that’s quite a milestone. Eventually I’d like to make it to 1,000 baseballs. Since I already snagged two baseballs in under five minutes I figured I’d go chase down some loose baseballs in the seats. I headed over to the staircase and waited twenty minutes before the rest of the stadium opened up. All these people…

…were waiting in line to go up these stairs…

…and I, of course, was leading the way. Once the they allowed us entry it was a race to the top. And when I got to the top and scurried down some rows I found this:

How awesome is that? My 201st lifetime baseball. And my third of the day. And since I was already up here behind the manual scoreboard in left field I decided to play the corner. It’s always a pretty good spot mostly for toss-ups but the occasional home run ball also lands here.

Brandon League and Jeff Gray were both talking to a few WhiteSox players and Brandon League actually had a baseball in his glove but he was way too far away to call for it. I would’ve ran down there and asked Brandon for it but I had a better plan. Dan Cortes. He was also down there talking to some WhiteSox players and he also had a baseball in his glove. And the best part about it was him and I weren’t a million miles away like Brandon and I were. I knew I only had one shot at this and I had to time it just right.

As soon as Dan started to walk away I called to him. Of course he didn’t hear me right away so I called to him again. When he turned around I flapped my glove at me and he rifled a laser right to me. The ball hit off the tip of my glove, bounced once on the railing, bounced over my head, bounced twice on the seat arm rest behind me, some dude swiped at it, then it trickled down in-between the seat back and the actual seat into my glove waiting underneath. Feeeww! Talk about a close call! Or close calls! How many lucky bounces was that? Like, seven? Holy crap! I just stood there frozen as the ball bounced all over the place. I did have my glove trick ready to go, as always, so if the ball landed down into the manual scoreboard it wasn’t like I wouldn’t have been able to get it back. I was just worried that another fan would’ve grabbed it on one of those weird bounces. But no one ever got it and it never really went anywhere. I couldn’t believe it.

Do you want to read about another crazy bouncing baseball? You might as well continue reading. You’ve read this far. Okay, so after capturing my fourth ball of the day I went down to the third base side to maybe catch a grounder. This was my view:

The first baseball that came my way ended up here…

…and my competition was very little. Anything that can within my wing span would be gobbled up for sure. Ready for another crazy bouncing baseball story? The next baseball that came near me hit the fence that you can see in the above photo and then went up in the air, landed on the baseball that you can see in the above photo and ended up bouncing right to me. Can you believe THAT? The ball ricocheted off the fence, landed on the baseball sitting on the grass and ended up bouncing right to me!

Since batting practice at this point was drawing to a close I wanted to give away at least one baseball to the cutest kid I could find. I ran back down to the ‘Pen area and searched for the first cute kid I saw. unfortunately, I didn’t get a good picture of the cuteness but you could imagine how cute this little kid is. And the way he said “thank you” was even more cute.

The kid in the “Ichiro” jersey is the one I have the ball to. Lots of cuteness. Oh, and here is a picture of my 200th baseball.

Amazing. Simply amazing. I wandered around the stadium for a little while longer until all the players were off the field. I got this final picture of Juan Pierre getting his picture taken with a cute baby. See! More cuteness!

Safeco Field was full of cute babies today.

As for the Mariners game? Not so cute. The Mariners were beaten by a score of 4-2. Olivo went deep for the Mariners but Brent Lillibridge hit a monster two-run dinger to seal the deal for a WhiteSox win.

 

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Game; August 26th 2011 Chicago WhiteSox vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Five

Attendance; 28,621

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $165.25 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $40.90 this
season

 

8-17-2011 Safeco Field

Before I get into the Mariners game I wanted to share something else with my readers. Its been some time and I actually considered blogging about my experience but it wasn’t really worth it in my eyes. I attended my very first Minor League baseball game at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett Washington on August 10th. That’s where the Everett AquaSox play if you aren’t familiar with MiLB. Anyway, I went with my Dad and when we arrived at the stadium this is the first thing I saw…

It was either a home run ball from last night or maybe a batting practice home run from earlier. Since I went into the stadium at 5:30pm I assumed it could have been a BP homer ball. I wasn’t sure if in the Minors the teams had BP or not…but later I found out from another fan that the AquaSox didn’t take BP before this particular game. So the baseball is undoubtably a home run baseball from the night prior. And yes of course I was able to get the baseball in the above picture.

If you’re wondering what an official MLB baseball is doing in an official MiLB baseball stadium it’s because the minor leaguers get hand-me-down baseballs when they’re too used for MLB standards. Not all of the baseballs they use are MLB baseballs though.

The picture above is me holding to my very first baseball ever snagged at a MiLB game. I really won’t go into the details of how the game went. The Aquasox got beat up pretty bad in the fifth allowing the Tri-City Dust Devils to score seven runs. My Dad and I left shortly after the seventh run was scored by the opposition and on my way out of the stadium I snagged two more baseballs; one of which I passed off to a kid with his mother as they too were exiting the stadium. The two baseballs I snagged were foul balls and both of them have the Official Ball Northwest League stamp on them.

When I got out onto the party deck in the ‘Pen at Safeco Field the area filled up pretty fast. Before I knew it I had some serious competition. There were lots of people my age, young, and athletic that had baseball gloves on. But that didn’t stop me from getting my first baseball on the day due to someone elses error. Jeff Gray was in the outfield playing pretty deep and he got a lot of baseballs hit to him. It was only a matter of time when he would throw one up and when he did I would be right there to catch the bobble or the overthrow.

In the above photo I took of the party porch the guy in the light blue jersey with the red arrow over his head,(he didn’t really have that arrow over his head at the game) continued to call out to Jeff Gray who can barely be visible on the right side of the photo. You can see his glove. Gray finally acknowledged the requests for a baseball and at that moment when he fielded the next baseball he turned around to throw it into the crowd. I ran up and stood behind everyone waiting for a bobble or an overthrow. And of course Gray overthrew the entire crowd and I ended up catching the baseball. The guy in the light blue jersey back peddled into me causing a small collision but I held onto the baseball.

Brandon League has to be about the most awesome baseball player I’ve ever watched play the game. He’s hooked me up with a baseball before on 5-18-2011 at Safeco Field but I wanted another one from him. If you want to look at my complete list of all the players that have thrown me baseballs just click here. I was on the third base side when I got my first ball from League and that was pretty easy to catch. This time I was way up here…

…overlooking the bullpens and left field to be specific. That’s Brandon League fielding the baseball and this is the results:

Brandon League is on the right.

I went out to centerfield, or more like right center, and when I got out there I saw a ton of baseballs down in the gap. Well, maybe not a ton, more like five or six. I quickly put together my glove trick but I was abruptly stopped by security. He gave me the worst attitude and told me, “There ain’t no none of that around hurr!” and literally shoo-ed me out of the section. He then proceeded to climb down the ladder, retrieve all the baseballs and gave them all to kids. He’s the security guard I’m always complaining about that isn’t adult-friendly.

Kids have their whole lives to get baseballs. Why can’t these security guards be more selective of who they give baseballs to? And I’m pretty sure they aren’t supposed to be giving them away anyway. Most security guards that I talk to have told me they aren’t supposed to touch them. Anyway. I’ve ranted about these security guards so much in my blogs. I’ve battled them day in and day out at the stadiums. It’s always going to be like this and no matter how much or how little fans complain about them nothing will change.

I was hoping to get at least one more baseball to make it to 100 on the season. But after that incident with the security guard nothing else really happened. When the Blue Jays came out to stretch and throw the baseball around I did try to glove trick a baseball off the warning track. Jesse Litsch turned around and threw a baseball at my glove which knocked the sharpie out of it so I couldn’t get the baseball. He told me to stop because that was his “throwing ball”. Some fans were on my side and yelling at Jesse to just let me get it. But I stuck up for Jesse because I knew what he was talking about. He didn’t want me to have that specific baseball because it was used enough where he was comfortable throwing it. Some of the newer balls they practice with aren’t quite broke in enough. That helped the fans around me understand and they backed off Jesse. I think he appreciated that because he tossed a couple baseballs into the crowd to other people and not me. He did give me my sharpie back though.

The stadium was full of Jays fans…

The Mariners started to get beat up on pretty bad and by the fourth inning it was 0-4 Blue Jays. So I left. I couldn’t stand to see the Mariners lose on such a beautiful day in Seattle.

I’ve started a new blog too. Its called A View From the Bullpen. It’s really fun stuff to read. I’ve always wanted to blog kind of sarcastically about things that happen around the Major Leagues. You know, kind of give my “expert” opinion on crap? You understand, I’m sure of it.

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Game; August 17th 2011 Toronto Blue Jays vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; two

Attendance; 26,574

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $160.00 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $39.40 this
season

7-30-2011 Safeco Field

A lot has happened in the last few days. I’ve received a ton of questions about that Ichiro look-alike guy that I blogged about on 7-29-2011 at Safeco Field. Apparently he interfered with a fair ball down the first base line a couple of games ago, got the baseball, gave it to a fan and then got ejected for doing so. You can probably find the video of it on the Mariners website under highlights. Anyway. I don’t know the specifics of what his intentions are or why he does what he does. He’s probably just another huge Ichiro fan. In Seattle we get a lot of street shows so I just lumped him in with the rest. Also in my blog entry on 7-29-2011 at Safeco Field I mentioned that I had met Seth McClungs mother. Well, Seth McClung contacted me and informed me that was not his mother. Here’s how I assumed it was. The woman started rambling on about how she had a son in the Major leagues and that he played for the Milwaukee Brewers. Or was drafted by them and was in single A baseball. So I googled all and any former and current draftees by the Brewers and Seth McClungs’ name came up in all my search results. So naturally I just assumed. Not the case. I do apologize for that mistake.

Here is the Ichiro look-alike grabbing the fair ball hit by Dustin Ackley…

…and then finding out it was a fair ball…

…and then being ejected…

…even Ichiro Doppelgangers don’t stand a chance against Safeco security.

Today’s game started promptly at 1:05pm. For that reason alone I wasn’t going to attend the game because I’m on a mission to snag 200 lifetime baseballs. I only need like seven more. Plus I have a streak of 85 consecutive games of catching at least one baseball at a game. Since there is a possibly that BP wouldn’t happen it makes snagging baseballs that much harder. But I went anyway. When I ran into the stadium at 10:40am I saw this…

Holy. Crap. That’s Jack Wilson, by the way, pitching to his son. Look at all those baseballs! Sure I’d get at least one, right? His son was even hitting them over the centerfield wall. And when he did so I asked the security guard if he could possibly throw one up to me. His answer? “I can’t give them away.” Whatever, dude. I hate it when those security guards lie like that. I’d rather be ignored then lied to.

By then the centerfield party porch started to fill up and Jack Wilsons kid wasn’t able to hit anything remotely close to us. But he did have some good pop. But I did see this…

I also noticed that the batting cage equipment wasn’t behind the centerfield wall like it normally would be on a 1:05pm game. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve attended afternoon games with batting practice before. But it’s not a normal thing. So when I noticed that the batting cage equipment was gone I quickly lined up at the stairs to be the first one down on the third base side. But then at the last-minute I noticed all the Mariner players lining up on the first base side. They all had gloves and baseballs too. You know what that meant? Long toss! I jumped out of line and ran to the other side of the ‘Pen and lined up at the other staircase. As soon as they let us go I raced down to the first base side and got behind Josh Bard and his throwing partner. As a result I nearly caught TWO overthrows simultaneously. One of them nearly bounced over the tarp and into the seats but it ended up being scooped up by a grounds crew member. He rubbed the dirt off of it and in mid-toss to me Josh Bard stopped him and took the ball back. Bummer.

But as soon as Josh Bard was done playing catch with the baseball he started to walk away and underhanded it to me. I had to jump for it a little though.

After that I ran over to line up behind Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips.

I still really wanted a baseball from Felix and I was thinking this is as close as it’s probably going to get this season. As soon as I walked up behind them Felix lost control of his throw and the baseball sailed into the seats. I yelled “Heads up!” as loud as I could and then chased down the baseball. Of course Phillips needed the baseball back and I happily tossed it to him. He then told me to “stick around” because he was going to toss me the baseball once he and the King were done with it. Awesome! That’s what I did. I “stuck around”. Sure enough after fifteen minutes of “sticking around” Phillips tossed me the baseball. Speaking of sticking around…the ball that Felix and Phillips were playing with was so rubbed up with pine tar my fingers actually stuck to the baseball.

I waited around for more overthrows that might have occurred for maybe another ten minutes and then I walked over to the third base side of the stadium to see if I could get one of the Tampa Bay Rays players to throw one to me.

Now. Pay very close attention here. Do you see the player standing way out in center field by the “Dave” sign? That’s Dan Cortez. He just got called back up to Seattle from Triple-A Tacoma. While I was standing around waiting for some more Rays players to come out and start throwing I noticed that Dan Cortez had tried to hook up a fan with a baseball. And guess what happened? Yup! The fan bobbled it and it dropped down behind the center field wall gap. I was all over that. I ran up the stairs, sprinted around the concourse, down the stairs into the ‘Pen area and arrived at the party porch in center field. I assembled my glove for the glove trick, lowered it down, scooped up the baseball and handed it off to the nearest fan. That was number three on the day. I even welcomed Dan back to Seattle and he gave me the “rock and roll” hand signal.

When James “Big game” Shields came out to toss the baseball around I switched back to my Rays hat and wandered down to the left field corner of Safeco. Of course the game would be starting soon and I was ready to be kicked out of the section at any moment. I was surprised when it didn’t ever happen.

After James was finished playing long toss he came over and started signing autographs…

…and then he signed some more…

…and then he took a break and caught some highlights on the jumbo-tron…

…and then he signed my ticket stub…

…and then we took a picture together…

…and then the Seattle Mariners went on to win the baseball game by a score of 3-2. And they only allowed one hit!

Game; July 30th  2011 Tampa Bay Rays vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; three

Attendance; 24,985

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $155.80 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $38.20 this
season

7-29-2011 Safeco Field

The month of July has been a slow month for baseball mainly because of the All-star game. The Mariners have been on road trips since then. They came home for a four game set against the Texas Rangers but I missed out on all four games. I was able to get some time for the Tampa Bay Rays/Mariners series so this was my first game at Safeco Field in like a month.

When I got to the stadium I ran into this guy…

 

…and Ichiro Suzuki look-alike. He did the whole batting stance that Ichiro does and everything. It was quite impressive. When I got to the gates I had about twenty minutes to spare and there was already a small crowd. It was Seattle Super-Sonics appreciation night at Safeco so there were a lot of Sonics fans at the gates already. I think a lot of people had the impression they’d get autographs from their favorite Sonics. I had no intentions of participating in the Sonics thing. Even though I admired Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp growing up as a kid. There was a lot of negativity still fresh in my mind about Shawn Kemp and I was a little surprised he didn’t get boo-ed when he came out during the Sonics introductions. But it was a happy time. No need for boo-ing.

When I got inside the stadium I walked down into the center field “pen” area and got Felix Hernandez attention and got him to throw me the next baseball he scooped up. Unfortunately, he threw me a knuckleball and it died as soon as it reached its apex and fell short by about three feet. I’m not sure he did it on purpose or what. He didn’t even watch to see if I caught it or not. Which I didn’t. Luckily for me a nearby security guard saw the whole thing.

In the picture above you can see Felix standing with Jason Vargas. That’s how far he threw it. A knuckleball. Can you believe that? I was slightly upset because I have been trying to get a baseball from Felix all season and this was my second opportunity. My first came in the beginning of the year when he threw one up but another fan was able to swat it away and get it. I assume I’ll have another opportunity in the next month or so.

When the security guard came walking over I started to explain to him what had happened, (keeping in mind that he saw the whole thing) I politely asked if he could toss the baseball up to me. Just as I was explaining a young Mariners fan came running up with his hands out. I knew I wouldn’t get the ball and when the security guard handed the baseball to the kid the mother apologized to me. I laughed and told her it was no big deal.

You can see the two security guards in the teal t-shirts in the center field bleachers in the above photo. The one closest to the field is the one that denied me the Felix ball. There was another baseball sitting nearby as well and I asked for that one too but he ignored me. Whatever. As soon as I turned to seek other baseball snagging opportunities, Doug Fister scooped up a baseball and lobbed it into the crowd. Of course the baseball bounced off of three different hands and landed down into the center field gap. Time for the glove trick! And my first baseball of the day! YEAA-AH! Thank you, Dougie!

Once I reeled in my first baseball of the day I wandered the bullpen “pen” area. It was unusually packed…

I always make sure to check the bullpen for any loose baseballs when I come over here to stand in line. And when I looked I found one in the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen very close to the wall and well within reach. So I started to assemble my glove for the glove trick. While I was doing so this mother/son combo was watching me and started asking questions like, “What is all that for?” and “You’re going to try to get that baseball?” It turns out that she is the mother of Seth McClung. If you don’t know who Seth McClung is, click here. Her son really wanted a baseball too. I promised him that the next baseball I got I would hook him up with it. I told her my baseball snagging stats on the year and I also gave her one of my business cards for my Charity I have. She was very impressed and told me I was a “great guy”. I thought that was very nice of her. After I snagged my second baseball on the day out of the bullpen I stood in line at the stairs for about ten minutes and then raced down to the third base area. I was beat out by some older guy that was in a hurry to scoop up all the loose baseballs. I had to make a few comments to make him stop because there were like twelve baseballs lying around and he was getting every single one of them. He ended up tossing me one in the end, and I found another. I’m all for gathering as many up as a person could possibly hold…but there were other fans coming down as well. That’s why I told him to chill out.

While I was standing around waiting for Jeremy Hellickson to get done playing catch, I noticed a young fan trying to accomplish the same thing. The difference between him and me is that I don’t stand around holding these in plain view…

…I’m pretty sure the Rays players saw that and decided to throw the baseballs into the infield. Just as I was deciding on going back to hook up the young fan I promised a baseball I heard my name being called. It turns out that the fan I promised a baseball  got his very own! I thought that was pretty awesome. It seems like every time I want to give a baseball to someone they end up getting one on their own. So I quit doing that. I used to give them to adults too but after I’ve been lied to so many times I decided the only people I’m going to give baseballs out to anymore are younger fans with a glove after the eight inning.  I keep saying this though.

When BP ended I walked back down to the bullpen area to wait on a baseball I saw land their earlier. And when I got there this is what I saw…

…someone from the top deck of the stadium was lowering THEIR baseball grabbing device into the bullpen to snag this puppy. I decided that if security stopped him I’d go for it. But until then I’d let him have his fun. It would have been an easy snag for me too.

Attempt #13.

And finally! After #22 attempts, (yes I counted) he got the baseball. That was some serious height to be dealing with too. I was quite impressed.

I took a walk around the stadium and found the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame. The Mariners vendor staff recently lost Rick “peanut man” Kaminksi. The Mariners had put a brand new Hall of Fame memorial in there to remember Rick. I had to pay my respects. Rick had been slinging peanuts since I was a youngster going to games in the Kingdome with my Dad. So it meant a lot to visit that memorial.

It was a very sad day for sure. I never got any peanuts from Rick but I remember the commercial of him and Alvin Davis talking about drunk drivers in 1989. That was so long ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. You will be missed, Rick.

And of course I had to see the rest of the Hall of Fame while I was there.

Edgar Martinez.

Alvin Davis.

And Jay Buhner.

After a walk-through of the M’s Hall of Fame I decided to try to sit out in the outfield for a home run ball. Dustin Ackley seems to be swinging the bat pretty well so I wanted to set myself up to snag one of his home runs. Here is my view from where I was able to sit…

Yes, I know. I played very deep but I had a clear aisle to my left which enabled me to run down both flights of stairs to reach the front row. This seemed like a very popular place for home runs to land anyway. Justin Smoak has hit the majority of his home runs in the sections to my left and right. Here’s my clear aisle to my left…

See the dude in the Ackley jersey? I took this picture just as he came into view and he sat down in that row too. And that got the security guards attention. I knew I was busted as she started asking for tickets so I saved her the time and left on my own instead of having to be asked to leave. What a racket. I had the perfect seat for a home run ball and that dopey fan ruined it for me. I spent the remainder of the game looking for a decent chair to sit in and I finally pulled up a spot in the Flying Cantina near the bullpen and watched the game from underneath the manual scoreboard. It was a horrible view, no chance to get a baseball, and the drunks were ruining my baseball experience. I held out until about the seventh inning and then went and stood behind home plate to finish watching the game from there. Of course with the Rays scoring eight runs in the second inning and running Erik Bedard out after that, the Mariners didn’t post one run in the game.

That was the crowd around the eighth inning. And you can also see some dopey fan getting tackled by security in shallow center field.

Game; July 29th  2011 Tampa Bay Rays vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; Four

Attendance; 26,570

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $152.65 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $37.30 this
season

 

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