Results tagged ‘ Royals ’
Today would prove to be another awesome day at the Coliseum. Although, rainy, wet and soggy, I had a great time! The rain started as soon as I crawled out of bed around 8am and it never let up. I knew batting practice wasn’t going to happen today but I decided to go to the game anyway. I’ve been to a lot of games where batting practice wasn’t in session and I still walked away with at least one baseball. In fact, if you’re interested in statistics, March 29th 2012 at the Tokyo Dome was my 100th consecutive game snagging at least one baseball.
I took the hotel shuttle to the Coliseum about an hour before the gates opened. This was the line when I got there:
The line didn’t change much, either. While I was standing there, I had sort of a brain fart. I purchased tickets to the same section that I sat in last nights game (which I should’ve kept). I started to think that since there would be such a low attendance tonight, I could sit behind the Royals dugout and shag third out baseballs! I grabbed my back pack and hauled ass over to the ticket window to upgrade my ticket. I now had in my possession a ticket one row behind the Royals dugout on the aisle! This seat was ideal for catching the third out baseballs that the players throw into the bleachers. I was also sitting in foul territory with a very little competition factor.
Once inside, I knew I’d be seeing something similar to this:
I absolutely knew this was what today was going to be like. But I wasn’t in panic mode because I had seats behind the dugout that pretty much guaranteed me a baseball. I walked the entire concourse of the stadium and when I looked towards the visitors bullpen, I spotted a little white speck underneath the bench. I blinked a few times, rubbed my eyes and started heading that way. Yes, a baseball was on the field, underneath the bench of the bullpen and I was going to get it one way or another. Unfortunately, the only way to get it would be one of three ways: glove trick it (which is outlawed at the Coliseum), wait for a player to come by and ask for it, or ask security for it. All three options were a long shot but I had to try anyway.
Here’s an overhead view of the visitors bullpen with a red arrow pointing to where the baseball was:
When I went down there to get the baseball, I asked one of the Coliseum ushers if he thought the security guard would be nice enough to toss me the baseball. He quickly told me he didn’t want any part of that and sort of walked away. I thought to myself, “well, there went that.” But he actually came back and told me to ask the security guard to see if it would happen or not. When the guard got a free moment, I walked over to him and asked him if he’d be able to toss me the baseball. He immediately put his hands up and told me the baseball was not his to give away. Fair enough.
I’ve been going to enough baseball games to know the rules when it comes to security guards and baseballs. When I would go to games at Busch Stadium there was a security guard that would actually go into the dugouts and get pockets full of baseballs and hand them out to certain fans. Cute kids, babies, young boys dressed up in baseball swag usually got the majority. It was rare for a security guard to hook up an older fan like myself with a ball. They always give people the run-around. That’s what bothers me the most. I wish some of these guards would just be upfront and honest. But hey, whatever. Moments later, while I was engaged in conversation with the two Coliseum ushers, the guard flipped me the baseball:
I took the picture away from the field and without the security guard in view because I didn’t want to put the guy on the spot. He really didn’t want to throw me the ball in the first place, but he did, which I’m grateful for, but I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. I talked with the two Coliseum ushers for a while longer, we chatted about baseball (of course) and I shared my charity information with them, too. One of them offered me seats right behind the Royals bullpen, which I would have taken, but I had awesome seats behind the dugout.
I stood around for roughly an hour taking various pictures of the Coliseum since there was no batting practice. It was very boring, and for the majority of the time I stood on the corner near the field staring into the Royals dugout. Here are a few pictures:
Eventually Jeff Francoeur came out and signed a few autographs, shook some hands, etc. That was probably the highlight of the evening. The Athletics announced that there would be a rain delay but it didn’t last long and soon the Royals were on the field warming up. Prime baseball snagging time!
The second ball of the evening came from another unidentifiable player just like at last nights game. Although, a friendly fellow ballhawk left a comment claiming yesterdays toss-up came from Kelvin Herrera. I updated my stats on MyGameball.com accordingly but I still couldn’t identify this guy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a better picture and in the above photo, I couldn’t even tell you where he is. All I know is after two Royals finished up playing catch, I flapped my glove at the baseball holder and he threw me a bullet that smacked right into my glove:
I waited around for an additional few minutes to see if I could get another toss-up but that was pretty much the end of it. I stuck around for the National Anthem, of course, and then moved on to find my seats. Check out empty my section was:
The above photo was the seats to my right…
…and in the picture that you just looked at, that is farther down the first base side. As you can see, there weren’t a whole lot of people attending tonight’s contest. And since I upgraded my tickets to sit behind the dugout, I thought I’d have a fair amount of opportunity for a third out ball and foul baseballs. Foul balls? Not so much. Guess where they all went? Yup! In section 217, 218 and 219. Section 219 was where I originally decided to sit before I came up with the bright idea to move. But not all was lost. Not only did I get to sit next to Danny Duffy’s mother…
…and not only did I get to sit through 8 innings of constant rain…
…and not only did I sit through two rain delays…
…and not only did I catch a third out baseball from Chris Getz, but the Oakland Athletics have announced that anyone that attended tonight’s game would get a complimentary game on the house for gutting out the rain delays! How awesome is that?! I’d say that’s just another excuse for me to fly back to the Oakland Coliseum and watch more baseball in that old run down piece of crap of a stadium! Wouldn’t you agree?
The actual game, though, was pretty one-sided. Duffy held the Athletics to just one in six innings pitched and Mitch Maier had the only home run of the game. There were a few foul balls that came within snagging distance of me, but the majority, like I said, went up to the upper levels. I’ll be seeing you soon, Oakland. Very soon…
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: Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics- attendance 10,067
Baseballs snagged: three (security guard toss-up , toss-up by unidentified Royals player and snagged third out ball from Chris Getz)
Total baseballs snagged this season: 11
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $11.74
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00
Total number of donors this season: 6
Total number of donors last season: 7
Like I’ve stated many times before, I refuse to call this place the “O.Co Coliseum.” It’s a horrible name for such a great stadium with such unique, awesome fans. So when you read these entries regarding my visits to the Oakland Coliseum, you will always, always read “Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.” Period.
When I arrived at the coliseum, I met up with a long time friend, Deirdre. She drove up from southern California to attend this game with me and we had a blast! I never knew the Oakland Coliseum could be so much fun and I urge anyone that’s in the area when the Athletics are playing at home, to attend at least one game. Tickets are dirt cheap and there are plenty of seats available!
We hit up the ticket window to get our seats for the day, and this was the line:
After we got our tickets (which I may add right now, these seats will play a pivotal role in my success later on…) we got a lady to get our picture before she hurried off…
…after that, we visited the team store to try on some Athletics swag…
…and as you can tell, like in Japan, I’m wearing my “Chuck Knoblauch Follows Me” shirt, again! Why? Because it’s become one of my most favorite baseball shirts, kind of like this one that I wore at Safeco Field last year, and because Chuck Knoblauch was, and still is, one of my favorite baseball players to this date. I even wrote a special blog entry called “An Ode to Chuck Knoblauch“. Check it out if you have the time.
After clowning around in the Athletics team store, Deirdre and I did a lap around the Coliseum just so she could see this old relic. Deirdre told me she hadn’t been to the Coliseum since she’d attended high school. That was roughly ten years ago. Not much has changed. I was a little shocked to see the lack of fans tailgating in the parking lot as we walked around the stadium and I was a little shocked at the lack of fans in general. I still can’t get over the fact that hardly anyone comes to these games. The stadium isn’t that bad on the inside, and even though I’ve called the stadium a “dump” and a “relic” it’s actually very beautiful in a sense that so much baseball history has happened here. I’d seriously hate to see the Athletics go anywhere else, and rumor has it, by the year 2015, they won’t be in Oakland anymore.
One thing that caught my eye while we were walking around is this:
The Athletics put this entry together a week or so ago to allow season ticket holders a special entrance into the Coliseum. Although, there aren’t any special perks to entering the Coliseum through this way, it just allows people with season ticket credentials to enter without having to deal with the other 25 people entering at D gate.
Deirdre and I sat down at D gate for the remainder of our time while we waited for the Coliseum to open at 5:35pm. The gates open roughly 90 minutes before game time, just for your information. While we were waiting in line, I told Deirdre that this was my third visit to the Oakland Coliseum. I visited the Coliseum last season on opening day and on April 2nd 2011. I also made a last-minute trip to Oakland on September 21st 2011 as well. So this would be my fourth game at the Coliseum, and as I explained all of this, Deirdre said, “Wow, Wayne. You’ve been to more games at the Coliseum than regular Athletic fans that actually live in Oakland!” There might be some truth to that.
Right before the gates opened, the line looked like this:
And when the gates “opened”, everyone scampered (including me) to the security tables to get their bags checked and to gain entrance inside. Three young boys in front of me got their bags checked and were allowed all the way to the second security gate seen here…
…but were instantly recalled. I’m not sure why, I guess someone jumped the gun in the management department. So more waiting. Another five minutes passed and I was able to see inside to view which team was on the field for batting practice. I saw one player wearing a blue jersey…so that meant the Athletics were already off the field and the Royals were out taking BP.
Once all 30 fans were allowed to enter the stadium, I ran inside and made a bee-line for foul territory that eventually would lead me up to the right field seats near the foul pole. I’ve always had great success in this spot, so I didn’t want to go elsewhere. Besides, when I initially ran in, I found this:
And within the next five minutes I was able to get a toss-up from an unidentified player in the right field (I think it’s Eric Hosmer). Here’s a picture of him:
I’ll admit; it’s a crappy picture, and you really can’t see his face. I looked through my MLB At Bat app on my iPhone trying to find this guy, but the only person I came close to was Joakim Soria. But he’s out for Tommy John surgery. If anyone can help me identify this player, shoot me a comment. Much appreciated.
Here’s me chillin` out in my spot in right field:
It wouldn’t be long until I snagged my third baseball on the night. And this would be a good one, too! Remember when I bought my ticket? I specifically asked for section 218 and asked for an aisle seat that was as close to the field as possible. Well, this is where I ended up sitting with my friend, Deirdre:
Can you believe that?! Four rows from the field behind home plate! Foul ball heaven, right? Oh, you are so right, my friend! Three foul balls came relatively close to where I was seated and one man to my right decked out in Giants swag was able to nab one of them and the other floated to my left where it banged off the railing. If perhaps the two fans that were in pursuit would have pursued a lot faster, I’m sure someone would have come up with it. The foul ball that I caught came off the bat of Coco Crisp in the bottom of the first inning. Well, I can’t say I really caught it. It was more of a high arching foul that drifted about two rows behind me. I made an attempt to my left for it but I was blocked by fans. So I turned to my right, took about two steps up and watched a fan holding a beer take the ball off his chest. The ball landed in the row right in front of me and I was able to snatch it up pretty quickly:
In all the 132 games I’ve attended, this was my first foul ball during the game. Well, except for a foul ball that was tossed to me by an umpire at Kauffman Stadium years ago. In 2010, I caught a lot of third out baseballs from players at Busch Stadium. But those weren’t foul balls. They were actual baseballs used in live games, though. So that’s pretty special.
During the fifth inning, Deirdre treated the both of us to this:
I’m telling you; this was a massive bowl of nachos. It was more food for any one man to defeat but I accomplished that feat. I can now say I’ve officially conquered a nachos bowl at the Oakland Coliseum. It was so awesome-ly good, I considered eating what Deirdre couldn’t finish. But I was so overly worried about another foul ball coming my way, I decided to pass on the second nacho bowl (even though I think I can eat two). And just for the record, it took me an entire Major League baseball regulation inning to finish this bad boy.
Around the 6th inning or so, as I was sitting there kind of staring off into la la land, someone approached me.
“Are you Wayne?” the guy said.
“Huh? Me?” I responded sort of half dazed and surprised that someone out of no where knew my name.
“Yeah. Is your name Wayne?” he said again and extended his hand for a handshake.
My initial thought? I was in some sort of trouble or something. But there was no trouble. No trouble at all. It was an employee from Major League Baseball here to interview me regarding my charity work for the Seattle Humane Society. Earlier in the day, I had sent out a bunch of tweets on Twitter that I’d be attending the Athletics game in Oakland. I’m not sure if that’s where they got my information, or even who got my information or even how they found me in the Oakland Coliseum! But they found me! Anyway. I was able to speak about my charity and talk about my trip to Japan and all that, and I was told that the interview would be posted on MLB.com/Cutfour. It’s a new website that Major League baseball has came up with to involve fans in the game. It’s a pretty cool sight and all the teams have one. Here’s the tweet after the game:
The Athletics actually played some very good baseball. Josh Reddick was able to throw out Kansas City Royals baserunner, Jason Bourgeois, from right field to third base in the first inning on an amazing throw off his back leg. Donaldson, at third, made a great tag on Bourgeois and essentially blocked him from even getting in to touch the base. Athletics rookie, Tom Milone pitched eight shutout innings, gave up three hits and walked three. Pretty impressive. I can’t say the same for Royals rookie pitcher, Mendoza as he picks up the loss. And history also visted the Oakland Coliseum tonight. Kurt Suzuki played in his 600th game as an Athletics catcher! I was surprised when he got absolutely no recognition other than the tweet I sent to @TheAsGame on Twitter!
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: Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics- Attendance- 10,054
Baseballs snagged: three (found , toss-up by Eric Hosmer and snagged Coco Crisp foul ball)
Total baseballs snagged this season: 8
Total baseballs snagged last season: 135
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $7.72
Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies last season: $257.00
Total number of donors this season: 6
Total number of donors last season: 7
Sick as a dog. I had all the flu symptoms and absolutely no energy. I didn’t want to come out to Safeco Field just for those reasons. But I mustered up what little energy I had and drove the short 20 miles to the stadium two hours before the gates opened, took a short 25 minute nap in my car, straightened myself up and walked to the baseball stadium. I arrived around 4pm which is pretty late for my standards. But the Kansas City Royals were in town for a four game stretch and that meant that the crowd would be minimal. Good for me but bad for the Mariners. They deserve a full house everyday. And Safeco Field is a wonderful stadium to visit.
When I got into the stadium the batting practice equipment was set up and ready to go but the field was a ghost town. The only person around was the Mariners bullpen catcher, Jason Phillips. He was quietly perched on the bullpen bench staring out into the open, empty field as I was. I said hello to Phillips and we engaged in small talk before some of the Mariners pitching staff arrived.
And just for your general knowledge, Jason Phillips is a really cool guy. Also for your general knowledge I forgot my SD card for my camera so I had to use my iPhone to take pictures. So if the pictures seem to be awkwardly long or the resolution isn’t as good, that’s why. I still have the first generation iPhone because I’m too cheap to buy a brand new one. Plus I like to spend my money traveling to other stadiums.
When the Mariner pitching staff arrived, Jason got into full catching gear and then he turned to me and said, ” We probably won’t be taking BP, but they will.” I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or not at first and then I realized he was. I thought that was pretty awesome that Jason kind of had an idea of why I was there. Not only to watch the game, mind you. But to snag baseballs too. And for a good reason. If you are just now reading my blogs I’ve started a charity called, Snagging Baseball for Puppies. Since I snag so many baseballs throughout the seasons I wanted to put it to a good cause. I contacted the Seattle Humane Society at the beginning of this season and asked if they’d like to support something like that. They said yes and so far I’ve raised $166 dollars. I’ve even had some employees at Safeco Field drop in a pledge. And if you’re also wondering what I do with all the baseballs I catch, some times I give them away to kids, some I keep and now I’m starting to give some away to military veterans. Since I’m a military veteran myself I figured that would be a good way to show my military support. If you want to check out my baseball snagging stats just click here.
When the rest of the stadium opened up I snuck around through the outfield and ran down to the first base seating bowl to try to snag a toss-up from one of the Mariners pitching staff. But it was slim pickins’. I did, however, get this fabulous picture of Billy Butler and Jamey Wright talking. They were teammates twice before, (I think) so they were doing a little catching up.
Jamey Wright was playing catch with Brandon League and when they got done tossing the baseball around, Brandon tossed the ball into the left field bleachers. When that happened I left the seating bowl and ran to the centerfield seats. And it literally paid off the moment I walked down to the front row. I don’t know who hit it but the ball ended up bouncing off the warning track and right into my glove…
That’s Aaron Crow in the backfield. I called out to him as I was walking down the stairs to the front row to get the baseball he had. He tossed it in and watched me make the grab. I anticipated the high bounce and jumped just as the baseball hit the warning track but it died so much that I had to hurry up and land to make the catch before the ball disappeared into no man’s land. (The centerfield wall gap) Moments later I caught another baseball on the fly. I had to climb over one row of seats to make the catch but I did it.
After that I ran down to the ‘Pen area because Bruce Chen of the Kansas City Royals was in centerfield fielding a lot of baseballs. Since I had on my Royals hat I knew it would be a sure thing from him. When I got down there him and Jesse Chavez were teasing the fans with a baseball. Chen would throw the ball just out of reach and then toss it to Chavez. Chavez would then throw the baseball high enough over the wall but low enough that Chen could jump up and rob the fans from any catch that would be made. I didn’t bother to take part in the reindeer games because I knew I had one simple advantage. My Kansas City Royals hat. And when Bruce Chen was done having his fun, he started to look for someone to throw the baseball to. And guess who got it? Here’s a picture of Bruce Chen after hooking me up with my third ball of the day:
I continued to move around the entire stadium looking for another opportunity to snag a baseball. I stopped here at the “Safeco Field Lookout” and snapped a quick photo and noticed Jeff Francis in left field all by himself. You won’t see him in the next photo but take a look anyway.
When I arrived down into the third base seating bowl there was a fan mixing it up with Francis and pleading for a baseball. Again, since I had on my Royals hat I had the upper hand over all these fans. Jeff eventually tossed him a baseball and then walked over to a small pile of them and started lobbing baseballs into the crowd. I called out to him a few times and got his attention. This was the result:
In the picture above you can see Jeff Francis throwing a baseball into the infield just over my glove. I’ve received a baseball from Francis before on 5-21-2010 at Kauffman Stadium when he was playing for the Colorado Rockies. So it was good to see him again and sort of re-unite with him on that level. That was my fourth baseball of the day and I was quite pleased at that point.
After batting practice had ended I made my way back down into the ‘Pen area to get something to eat. Dave Valle, a former Seattle Mariner catcher, started throwing out t-shirts and I got to be the lucky fan standing there when one came my way. It was drifting a little to my right and this guy behind me jumped up to try to rob me of it. I wasn’t trying all that hard to try to catch the t-shirt but it would have been cool to get one anyway. Well, the dude behind me had a cup of beer in his hand. You can probably guess what happened next. It’s a simple rule of physics. When you jump up in the air with something in your hand, like a cup of beer, most likely when you return to earth the beer in your cup is going to go everywhere and land on everyone. I happened to be standing in close proximity of this and yup! I got beer spilled on me. The guy didn’t even apologize and that’s why I don’t like competing for thrown baseballs, t-shirts or free hotdogs in the beer garden. Because people aren’t conscious of their drinks and they end up spilling them on everyone like a dope when something is thrown their way.
Even though I had beer spilt on me before the game, I ended up watching the some of the game from the party deck. Being that is was a Thursday night game it wasn’t all that crowded and it felt awesome to stand right by the Mariners bullpen. The other half of the game I actually sat in my assigned seat for once. Here was my view during the game:
While I was getting settled on the party deck by the Mariners bullpen I saw something very odd in my backpack. On one of the baseballs I saw what looked like to be a logo of some kind. So I pulled the baseball out of my bag and this is what I saw:
It’s hard to say where exactly this baseball came from. Expect the obvious; New Yankee Stadium. But I mean, where I got it at Safeco Field. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the ground rule double I caught because that baseball has defining markings from bouncing off the warning track. It could have been tossed up by Bruce Chen or Jeff Francis. But really? It didn’t really matter where it came from. I had it in my possession and I was thrilled to have caught a New Yankee Stadium baseball. I love these commemorative balls and there will be two new ones to snag next season when the Marlins get their new stadium and when the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 50th year in L.A. Next year I’m definitely going to Los Angeles for a few games.
Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a first pitch, first inning home run. I actually thought about buying seats for that section before buying a ticket in the left field seats. But that’s how it goes. When I decide to sit elsewhere the baseballs go where I’m not. Story of my life.
Game; September 8th 2011 Kansas City Royals vs Seattle Mariners
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $172.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $43.00 this
More big news in the Major Leagues. The Blue Jays make headlines again for the second time in a week with sending Vernon Wells, their all-star centerfielder to the Angels of Anaheim. Faced with doubters, nay-sayers, and critics of his $126 million dollar contract taken over by the Angels, Wells is pretty confident that he will make a positive impact on the baseball team, and hopes to help get them to the playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Rays have picked up two veteran players. Johnny Damon, and veteran slugger Manny Ramirez. Damon, 37, signed for $5.25 million. He replaces Carl Crawford, the longtime Rays left fielder who in December signed a seven-year, $142 million contract with the AL East-rival Boston Red Sox. Ramirez, who will be 39 years old in May and is 45 home runs from 600 for his career, was guaranteed $2 million to become the Rays’ designated hitter.
The Kansas City Royals hung onto their slugger, Billy Butler. Butler says he thinks a 25-year playoff drought is nearing an end for the Kansas City Royals. Butler is full of hope, boosted by the Royals’ highly regarded minor league system. He’s part of the future, too, after getting a four-year, $30 million contract. When asked to comment on the recent departure of Zack Greinke, Butler stated ” He just didnt want to be here.”
The Cincinnati Reds re-signed many of the players that won the division last season. Mainly Johnny Cueto. The righty went 12-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 31 starts with Cincinnati last season.
And that is all folks! See you next time.
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
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