Results tagged ‘ Safeco Field ’

Australia 2014

Oh, man! in 29 days I’ll be in Australia watching the DiamondBacks and the Dodgers play some baseball! If you remember a year or so ago, I watched baseball in Japan with Zack Hample! It was so awesome!

I really don’t plan to ballhawk much this year. I’m leaving that up to my good pals throughout the country. So my blog might become a little obsolete throughout the year. I’ve started a new blog if you’re interested in reading that. It’s called From the Depths of Safeco Field- and it’s basically all about the Seattle Mariners because, let’s face it; I’m a huge M’s fan. Maybe I haven’t proven my loyalty to them as much as it has looked…but trust me. Since 1989 I’ve been going to Mariners games.

 

See you all at the Safe and some of you at other ballparks!

 

Go Mariners!

 

 

4/26/2013 Safeco Field

When I think back on my childhood and all the Mariners games I attended with my Dad, all that comes to mind is Randy Johnson striking out like, a billion baseball players. Randy Johnson was one of the most fearless, intimidating, gritty, nasty baseball players of all time. If only the Mariners had a pitcher like that today…

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…the guy who comes the closest to the Big Unit is Tom Wilhelmsen. Yeah, he’s the Mariners closer, but look at him. I know he’s not seven feet tall like Randy is, but he comes awfully close. Plus, he’s gotten so good on the mound this last season, its getting the to point where we might have ourselves a solid closer. During BP, and after the Mariners portion had ended, I flagged Tom down and congratulated him on his new closer role. When he shook my hand, it felt like he had enough power to crush mine! It was incredible! The man was born to throw strikes! Here we are hanging out after BP:

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After hanging out with Tom for a few moments, I wandered the stadium aimlessly. Since I’m not chasing down baseballs during BP anymore, things aren’t as thrilling. And the point of not chasing baseballs anymore is to get away from medicore blog writing. The same thing every day at the same stadium? It could get a little boring.

I sat in the bleachers and watched Albert Pujols for a while. The man is so…broken. And old. I feel so bad for him. He took a few cuts in the batting cage and then he decided to run the bases while the other, more younger, better players took some hacks. He didn’t even finish his rounding the bases. It’s like he gave up at second base and decided to call it a day…

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…if you can tell, I’m not a Pujols fan at all. And it’s got everything to do with him uprooting and leaving St. Louis. I understand he has to do what’s best for his family and blah blah blah, and in all fairness to the Cardinals fans, that city poured their heart and soul into him. They even built him a statue. He wouldn’t even sign the World Series team ball.

I pulled up a spot to admire the ‘Pen from above. And this is what I noticed:

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Hopefully these guys have a plan to get home, right? Besides any of them driving.

The game was actually very entertaining. The Mariners had the bases loaded twice and could not capitalize on either chance to score. And like one of last weeks games, third base coach Jeff Datz managed to send Justin Smoak into score where he was thrown out by a mile! I’m not sure what Datz sees in Smoak. He’s one of the slower Mariners and Datz keeps sending him home in tight scoring situations! Anyway.

The Mariners lost to the Angels 6-3 in nine innings of play. Nothing spectacular.

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Bud Norris’ Charity; CandleLighters- 3 W and 16 strikeouts have raised $10 this season.

Seattle Mariners/Seattle Humane Society Charity; 9 wins have raised $9 this season.

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Century Link Field 12-30-12

Wow! My very first Seahawks game at the new Century Link Field in downtown Seattle! This is actually my third NFL game I’ve seen in my lifetime. And I’m proud to say that each game I’ve seen has been the Seattle Seahawks. My first game I saw was against the New York Giants when the Hawks played football in the Kingdome. I think I may have been like, 13 or 14 years old. I went with my Dad and the neighbors. It was pretty awesome, as far as I can remember. My second game was in St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome. I watched the St. Louis Rams play but that wasn’t as exciting because both teams were looking at losing records and the attendance was really low.

Today would be extra special because not only was I about to see an awesome game with awesome fans in Century Link, I was also going to visit the ‘Pen at Safeco Field. I hadn’t been inside Safeco Field since May and I was dying to be there. And since Safeco was getting sort of a face-lift, I was extra excited to see how things were shaping up. After all, this is my home stadium where I ballhawk in and I wanted to get a sneak peek of how things were changing. As soon as I entered Safeco, I immediately started looking around and taking pictures. I probably took over 50 pictures of the construction going on. But I’m only going to post the important ones for you to see because…well, that’s about all you need to see!

I wandered up to the second level and started looking around. Here’s what I saw:

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The above picture shows some construction in front of the visitors bullpen. I’m not exactly sure what they’re doing other than moving the fences in around the entire outfield. So I guess this is apart of it. Also, (which I will show soon enough) they’re turning the left field bleachers into an open air restaurant called “Edgar’s Cantina” which is named after our beloved DH, Edgar Martinez. It should be interesting but it takes a little bit away from my chances of scooping up baseballs. So, understandably, I have mixed feelings about it. Here’s the construction in the LF area…

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…the seats have been removed, as you can tell, and they’re getting ready to open that area up. It’s kind of sad to see those seats go because the few times I did sit there, I really enjoyed that spot.

Here’s the right field portion of the construction:

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You can kind of tell where the fences are going to be at from where they’ve layed down that grey looking dirt stuff. Also, take note of the scoreboard that’s being built. Pretty sweet, huh?! It’ll be exciting to see Safeco after all this mess is done. Meanwhile, I had a Seahawks game to attend! I didn’t stay in the ‘Pen very long and off I went towards the Clink!

When I got across the street, I was slightly confused as to where to go. Being that this was my first Hawks game, I didn’t have my routine down like I do at Safeco for Mariners games. I got in some line that seemed like the right place to be to enter Century Link but (another cool thing for sports fans) I accidentally got in line for the Century Link Field House. The Field House is basically a place where Hawks fans can tailgate indoors prior to kick-off. If the people behind me weren’t talking about it, I probably would’ve been really lost. I snapped this picture right before stepping out of line:

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I’d like to take this moment to thank the Safeco Field staff for not putting Mariners fans through the same routine the Seahawks staff put the Hawks fans through. Metal detectors? Strict bag searches? If Safeco went to that, consider my time watching live baseball games at the stadiums over. This was a real pain in the ass. And let me tell you why; when you get up to the security guy, you have to empty all your pockets. Just like you would at a TSA checkpoint in the airport. I was surprised they didn’t make me take off my shoes! If they touch on anything that makes the detector beep, they question you like you’re a criminal. It was such a hassle. The plus side (and I’m pretty sure this is why they do what they do) is you can bring whatever you want into the stadium. So I’ve heard.

I had a ticket in section 126 which was right behind the end zone so I had no problems getting through the security guards that were standing guard in that area. Friendly? No, sir. Of course, with my winter beard, my heavy-duty leather coat and my black beanie on my head, I sort of looked like a trouble maker:
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Really, I just wanted to get as close to the field as possible to take some awesome pictures. And since I was there so early, I had a lot of time to kill. And I got some awesome pictures!

Here’s a picture of the field:

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And that was pretty much my view during the game. It was actually a very nice seat for what I paid ($130). I was shocked when I got to my seat and thought back on how much I paid for the ticket. I guess the people who had those seats couldn’t go at the last moment and just wanted to get something back. Usually those seats run around $150, I think. The game was sold out so I had to resort to Stubhub to get the ticket, which I’m not a huge fan of because I like to get authentic ticket stubs from games I attend.

Anyway. I didn’t run around the stadium and explore like I would at a MLB stadium. I don’t know why. I was super-excited to be at the game, amongst the Seahawk fans, and to just be in the playoff atmosphere. Everyone was excited. Everyone was pumped and ready for football. It was such an awesome experience! The thing I noticed about Seahawk fans as opposed to Mariner fans, Seahawk fans seem a little more blue-collared. They seem a little bit more gritty and the backbone of Seattle. The working class. It was incredible. Mariners fans seem a little bit more family oriented.

While I was standing at my seat, a Seahawks fan who I assume attends every home game, placed a St. Louis Rams door mat in the walk way and then encouraged everyone to wipe their feet! I thought that was so unique and awesome! Well, until drunk guys decided to spit on the mat and pretend to poop on it and wipe their butts. Like, okay, guy. You made your point, move along. The kids stomping on the mat was priceless, though:

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Seattle attracts such interesting characters. If I took pictures of all of them, this blog would be one giant entry of how awesome Hawks fans really are! Nevermind how loud this freaking stadium got during the game, just people watching and seeing how unique we really are out here really made my day:

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Before the game, the Seahawks are really amazing at recognizing the “12th man” who is kind of a tribute to the fans. And here’s a pre-game ritual involving the 12th man…

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…how cool is that?! A gigantic 12th Man jersey unravels down in the Hawks Nest over the fans! I really wanted to sit in the Hawks Nest for this game but there were no tickets available. My seat was amazing, anyway, but next season I’ll sure be sitting in the Hawks Nest!

As far as the game went, it seemed like an utter disaster. Russell Wilson was sacked five times in the first half. I figured since this was my first Seahawks game in the Clink, of course the game would go like this. The Seahawks were held scoreless in the 1st quarter and it seemed like the Rams were just running all over them. It wasn’t looking good. Miraculously, the Seattle Seahawks were able to pull a win out of what seemed to be heading towards a devastating loss! Century Link was so loud I could barely hear myself yelling over the noise! And my throat is so sore now…but it was so worth the experience! Next year, I’d like to travel to Candlestick and watch a 49er’s game and then watch a Raiders game in the Coliseum just to compare. The Seahawks are heading to Washington D.C to face the Redskins in a first round playoff which makes me sort of sad because I wanted to watch a playoff game in Century Link.

Maybe next year, right?

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5-22-2012 Safeco Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m snagging baseballs for puppies again this season for the Seattle Humane Society! If you want to check out my charity information, just click here!

Last season, with the help of all of you, we were able to raise over $250 dollars! This year I’d like to break $300!

Today’s game snagging Highlights: Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 15,971

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

Total baseballs snagged this season: 43

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised at this game: $2.08

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

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

Total number of donors this season: 9

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

4-13-2012 Safeco Field

This was the view at Safeco Field just before the centerfield gates opened up:

 

And this was the view of outside the left field gates about 30 minutes before first pitch:

This is what happens at Safeco Field on their home opener. All the other games, besides when the Yankees or Redsox come to town or a bobblehead giveaway game, are roughly 10-15 thousand people. Before I get into the home opener though, I attended two games at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, home of the Tacoma Rainiers for two reasons; Shawn Kelley and to see if I could catch a baseball at this particular minor league stadium. Well, I got to see Shawn Kelley pitch during Thursdays game…

…and before Wednesday’s game, I found this little gem on the party deck:

Mission accomplished. Not only did I find that lone baseball, but myself and a couple of fellow ballhawks that frequent Safeco Field, pretty much cleaned up in right field. We managed to snag roughly 12 foul balls, which we ended up giving none away because the attendance was so low that nearly ever kid in the stadium got a foul ball for himself/herself. It was quite amazing. Wednesday’s game was also the longest baseball game I’ve ever been to. Check out the scoreboard 3 hours into it:

 

Thursday’s game at Cheney stadium was less eventful, as I only snagged one baseball. The Rainiers don’t allow fans to sit inside the stadium during batting practice so I had to stand on the road outside the right field fence to shag anything. I had a few opportunities but I sort of felt like the low man on the totem pole when I arrived. There were other fans there and they seemed to be veteran ballhawks at this stadium; so I took the far end near the foul pole. Here’s a picture of the baseball I caught on the fly:

 

Okay, back to Safeco Field. When I arrived at the stadium with a couple of friends, Blake Beavan was being interviewed by KIRO 710AM Sports radio. After the interview I was able to shake his hand and get a picture with him:

Blake is a really cool guy, very friendly and excited to be a Mariner.

After the gates opened, I rushed inside expecting to see a swarm of people crashing into the ‘Pen area. The crowd was sort of on the lighter side, initially. But like any special game day, it would get uncomfortably packed later on. I knew I had to act fast to get on the board with at least one baseball. I tried for a few toss-ups in the ‘Pen and decided I’d have better luck with the Athletics. I raced upstairs to the upper level and found an empty spot near the left field foul pole. Within minutes, I had a foul ball screaming my way. I jogged to my right and reached across my body to make the catch but I came up a foot or two short. Luckily, the baseball hit into a seat and dropped down underneath it:

A gentleman and his wife were sitting a row or so close by and when the man asked to see the ball I asked him if he wanted to have the baseball. Since he saw me make an attempt to catch it and all, I figured he’d like to get his hands on an official Major League baseball. His response was, “hell yeah! Thanks, young man!”

When I walked up over the ‘Pen, I noticed someone down below. I actually had to stare, rub my eyes, blink a million times before I really knew who I was looking at. Here is a picture of how crowded the ‘Pen can get on games like these:

This is fairly mild for the ‘Pen on these kinds of games. Later on, it got so crowded, you couldn’t move without bumping into someone, stepping on toes or spilling someone’s beer. It was nuts and I didn’t particularly like it. Throughout the stadium, it got so packed that you couldn’t move. Anywhere you wanted to go would take you at least ten minutes to get there and when the cash registers decided to stop taking debit/credit cards, that’s when all hell broke loose at Safeco Field.

My first adventure was just trying to get food after I had snagged my first baseball and met Dave Henderson. Yes, that’s right, sports fans. I met Dave Henderson. In the flesh. You don’t believe me? Well, feast your eyes on this picture:

Yes, Dave Henderson was out walking around Safeco Field. Not a whole lot of people even knew but then again, nights like these, not a lot of baseball fans were actually at the game paying attention to anything but their beer. Anyway. Dave and I talked about Oakland baseball, made fun of Josh Reddick, Dave wore my Oakland hat, he flashed his World Series Ring, we shook hands and eventually parted ways. It was such an awesome experience for Dave and the Mariners to set that up. He’s really a cool guy and so fun to be around.

After that, I headed off to get myself a free coke at the guest services only to find out that the guest services table that issues out free soda moved to the center field gates. After ten minutes of fighting through people, dodging spilled drinks and trying not to knock over anyone, I got my free drink coupon. Now. Back to getting food. I had to fight through hoards of people to get in line that took nearly 15 minutes to be able to place an order only to be told the cash registers only took cash. Gah! I only had a few bucks on me so now I had to find an ATM. I cashed in my free drink and headed outside the stadium. It took nearly another 15 minutes to get outside and stand in yet another line that took roughly 20 minutes to finally get some cash. Cash in hand, I ventured back inside Safeco Field. Instead of pizza, I settled on the Flying Tortoise for some nachos. I stook in that line for about 10-15 minutes waiting to place an order. Once I told the cook what I wanted (which was a gi-normous plate of nachos) he told me I had to stand in a different line to order that. Oh.My.God.

I ended up ordering a wimpy little salsa and nachos dish for $3 bucks. Which wasn’t even worth photographing. It wasn’t even worth standing in line for. Or even worth paying $3 dollars for. I’d of rather been slapped in the face. By this time, it was the 3rd inning and I hadn’t seen any of the game. I’ve been able to watch bits and pieces of it on monitors around Safeco, but I wanted to actually see it live. And apparently, I wasn’t the only person having problems. Check out this blog entry written by a friend of some friends that I attend Mariners games with. I felt the same way on so many levels. And in fact, I did eventually leave Safeco just after the 3rd inning concluded.

So yeah. That was my home opener experience at Safeco Field. One highlight I’d like to point out is my friend Chris and myself got a little “LoMo-ing” in before the game outside the gates. Check us out:

Also, another highlight that needs mentioning, I was able to glove-trick a baseball out from behind the centerfield wall which I promptly gave to my friend Kelly’s husband. I’m not sure who threw it, but it was bobbled and eventually found its way down into the gap:

 

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 46,026

Baseballs snagged: two (foul ball, glove-tricked)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 13

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $24.57

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

Total number of donors this season: 8

Total number of donors last season: 7

If you’d like to join my official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies Facebook page, just click here! And if you want to like Collection of Baseball on Facebook, click here!

Seattle Mariners Fan Fest 2012

Whenever fan fest rolls around in January I get super-stoked about baseball. In nearly a month catchers and pitchers will be reporting to their respective spring training headquarters. The best part about baseball is it starts in the spring time. The grass is starting to get that freshly cut smell, the weather is warming up and best of all summer is right around the corner.

Just to give you a little background on myself and my fan fest experiences, well, I’ve been to many. I’ve attended a Kansas City Royals fan fest where I was able to get Kevin Sietzers autograph and Brett Saberhagen as well. The thing about the Royals fan fest is it’s not really set up to be fan friendly. It’s all about the autographs. When you walk in you have to immediately pick a line to stand in for four hours and hope and pray that one of your favorite players will be signing in the line you have chosen. It’s all about luck. I’ve also attended the Cincinnati Reds fan fest. That was a little different but again, it’s all about what line you pick and how fast you get there. Same with the St. Louis Cardinals winter warmup event. Pick and line. Stand there.

Well, my friends. This year I attended the Seattle Mariners Fan Fest of 2012. If you’ve ever dreamt about attending a fan fest, this is the fan fest you need to attend. I’m serious. Not only do you get to shag fly balls in the outfield like this…

…but you also get to face Felix Hernandez in the visitors batting cage underneath the stadium:

Yes, I’ve had better at-bats, but when you’re facing the King it’s kind of hard to get on base (even in the batting cages).

The best part about the Mariners Fan Fest was the interaction with the players. Down by the Mariners dugout the Mariners put together a little event called the “Dugout Dialogue”. Certain players that came to the fan fest get brought out onto the stage to take questions from Rick Rizzs, Mike Blowers and Dave Valle. And then they open it up to the fans to ask them questions. A lot of the questions ranged from “whats your favorite food” to “who’s your favorite player growing up”. But what do you expect from cute little nine year old baseball fans. And that’s the beauty of it. After the event ends fans are encouraged to get autographs from their favorite players. Myself, I was able to get Miguel Olivo on a baseball bat, Jason Vargas signed my 200th baseball he tossed me last season and I got Dan Wilson and Mike Blowers on my ticket stubs. I was able to chat with Mike Blowers a little bit and talk with him about how I watched him play in the Kingdome back in the 90′s with my father and  that I’d be taking a trip out to see the Mariners and Athletics in Japan this March. It was a lot of fun.

Here’s a couple of pictures I was able to get with a few favorites…

…Miguel Olivo…

…the voice of the Mariners, Rick Rizzs…

…and the man in charge of all the tasty food at Safeco Field, Chef Jeremy.

As you can see so far, I had an amazing time. In fact, a lot of the players walked freely around the stadium (with security of course) talking with fans, helping with pitching mechanics in the bullpen and free hitting tips and advice. Casper Wells was one of those guys that was just walking around. A few of my friends at Safeco are die-hard Casper fans and they were able to get his attention. He walked over to them and they talked for a while and then good ‘ol Casper Wells delivers some hot coco to these lovely ladies!

Its one thing for a professional baseball player to walk over and sign a bunch of autographs and stuff but to actually interact like this with the fans? It’s truly remarkable!

That’s what fan fests is all about. Not just standing in line waiting for an autograph you may or may not get. That’s just my opinion though. We all have our special ways we like to connect with players.

During fan fest on Saturday the Stache Mob was more or less born. These ladies pictured below…

…drew funny little mustaches on their fingers for Brendan Ryan when he came up on stage for his portion of the dugout dialogue. Before things got started, they asked Brendan if he’d pose with them for a picture. He happily obliged them and said he’d get it done after the dialogue event. We all waiting in anticipation and unfortunately, the dialogue kind of went over in the time allotted and Ryan was carted off the stage by the Mariner staff. But. The awesome thing about Brendan Ryan is that he yelled to the group of ladies he’d get the picture done on Sunday . It made everyone feel pretty special that he was going to make it happen. And when Sunday rolled around? Brendan Ryan did not forget:

You can read all about how this unfolded in more detail in my other blog that I’ve created called; A View From the Bullpen.

Here are a few pictures from the Seattle Mariners dugout dialogue sessions…

There was so much to do and so much to see. Mariners Fan Fest would’ve easily lasted a week and probably still had people coming at the end. It was amazing to be able to walk on the field and play catch in the outfield with friends. It was awesome to connect with the players and ask questions. You know, to understand where they’re coming from and their stand point on issues and the seasons to come. It was fantastic! Even though I love to travel and experience different stadiums and events held by Major League Baseball, I think I’m sold on coming back to the Mariners Fan fest for years to come!

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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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Snagging Baseballs for Puppies

The World Series is happening right now. And yes I’m very excited for both teams. Since I won’t be attending any World Series games due to lack of free schedule this fall my baseball season as concluded. But on a rather high note, I must say. I started this baseball season with the intent to attend nearly one hundred baseball games. Well, that didn’t happen. I attended roughly 53 games. But I did travel to a few new baseball stadiums like, PETCO PARK, AT&T Park, The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Angels Stadium and Coors Field. I never did make it to Sun Life Stadium or Tropicana Field like I had hoped this year. Sadly, Sun Life Stadium won’t be used as a baseball stadium next year. But the Marlins are getting a new stadium called Miami Ballpark and it should be epic.

I did, however, turn my baseball hobby into a charitable lifestyle. Last year I attended 37 games and snagged 87 baseballs. Mainly at Busch Stadium. And I did travel to Kauffman Stadium a bunch of times, I visited U.S Cellular in Chicago a couple of times, I even traveled to Cincinnati to see Great American Ballpark. And let’s not forget my trip to Texas where I watched game six of the ALCS. That was so awesome that I’d like to return to the Texas Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at least one more time. This year was one of the best seasons I’ve ever had. Mainly because I met so many awesome people who I’ll probably be friends for life with now. And, like I mentioned before, I started a charity project.

If you’re new to my Facebook page or new to reading my Tweets on Twitter then this blog entry that you’re reading now will do you some good. It will explain in detail how my charity works, how you can help and what I’m exactly doing traveling to different stadiums in the U.S like a mad man. And I’ll even hit on some future projects I’d like to start.

First and foremost this season was awesome. I attended 53 games and snagged a “career high” of 135 baseballs. You can check out my baseball snagging statistics here if you want. (I haven’t entered in the last game I attended yet) Anyway. That website that you just looked at breaks down my individual stats along with many other Ballhawks that chase baseballs during the season. As you can see I have an important streak going for myself. I’ve attended 98 games consecutively where I’ve snagged at least one baseball. To me that’s pretty impressive. Well, sorta. It’s actually very easy to catch a baseball at a Major League baseball game. Just ask Zack Hample. This dude is amazing and a very nice guy. He came to Safeco Field on his quest to attend all 30 Major League stadiums and snag at least 1,000 baseballs during the season.

So with all that information you’ve just took in I sat down one morning and asked myself how I could make snagging baseballs at stadiums more exciting and at the same time how could it help the community of Seattle. Since my home stadium is now Safeco Field I thought to myself, what am I most passionate about. Dogs and baseball. (Sorry, ladies.) And since I am so addicted to baseball and have an undying love for dogs…Snagging Baseballs for Puppies was born! I contacted the Seattle Humane Society via email and presented my idea. immediately they loved the idea, I was emailed some paperwork, and then the season started! The problem was that in order for this all to work I had to rely on neighbors, friends and family to pledge an amount per baseball that I’d snag at games. Here’s how it works;

I go to games and snag as many baseballs as I can. (my game high is like, eight) I blog about every game so people can read how I snagged them and picture evidence is also provided in the blog entry, and you as the readers email me and tell me how much you want to pledge per baseball that I catch. Now some Ballhawks have certain rules that they follow on catching baseballs. Me personally? If I catch it and it’s an Official Major League baseball AT an Official Major League Stadium, it counts. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter of it bounces off some kids face into my glove or if it bounces between two fans and lands in my cup of soda…it counts. I used to count only the baseballs that I went home with. But what about the ones I give away to kids? Or military veterans? Those count. I even caught a baseball OUTSIDE Safeco Field this season! Peter Bourjos hit a BP home run into the party deck and it bounced all the way to the gates where I was standing. That happened I think on 6-13-2011.

When you make a pledge it’s also very simple. Unless you’re rich you want to keep your pledges in the cent range. Like, .10 cents a ball or .25 cents a ball. Because at the end of the season when I rack up my total and I’ve snagged 135 baseballs and if you’ve pledged $3.00 a ball..well…that’s $405.00 big ones. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. I’m just saying try to keep your pledges realistic. Because who knows. I could go to a game and snag twenty baseballs and if you’ve pledged a dollar amount that you won’t be able to cover at the end of the season that looks pretty bad on your part. And if you don’t want to make a pledge you can just make a flat rate donation of $10.00. That’s the minimum that Crowdrise.com will allow. I have nothing to do with that. And yes I think that’s rather high. But I also understand that you can pay with a debit/credit card and I think the banks charge them a certain amount per transaction. I don’t know how it all works.

I think I’ve pretty much covered everything. So in conclusion I’d like to thank all that have pledged. Dorothey, Jennifer, Zack, Bronson, Kathy and Robert, thank you all so much for your pledges. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to those animals that the money went to, to try to help enrich their lives that much more.

And for those that just dropped a donation that is very much appreciated too. I couldn’t thank you all enough. Carla, Charlie, Ryan, #GirlsCorner, and a couple anonymous donations. I hope I got everyone. Together we raised over $200 dollars! And that is just amazing! This is the email I received from the people at the Seattle Humane Society.

“Hi Wayne,

Great job on your fundraising efforts!   Thank you for your support of the animals at Seattle Humane!  We’d be honored to be part of your project again next year.  I will let you know when we receive the donations.

Thanks,

Fil”

So there you have it, people. I’ll be at it again next year and hopefully, as a group, we will be able to raise more than $200 dollars again! That’s the goal, anyway!

 

9-28-2011 Safeco Field

The last Seattle Mariners home game of the season. The last baseball game I’ll probably attend this season. Finally here. It was sort of depressing that the 2011 baseball season went by so fast. It felt like just the other week it was the middle of July and things were just getting started. But here we were. At Safeco Field one last time in 2011.

I seriously thought there would be way more people at the gates for this one. But I was wrong. While I waited for the gates to open I played a friendly game of catch with a kid that nearly shows up every afternoon just to play catch. He doesn’t go to the games at all. It’s rather strange if you ask me. Here I am playing catch with him…

…as you can see the kid has quite an arm…

…and as you can see I’m pretty much a stud. (Ahem) Anyway.

Once the gates opened this is what I saw:

That’s Tom Wilhelmsen way out in the distance. He was way too far out for me to call to him. So I just soaked in the empty stadium. As you can see there wasn’t going to be any batting practice. So snagging at least one baseball to keep my streak alive was going to be incredibly difficult. Especially since either team may or may not even come out to stretch. It was the last game of the season and both teams, the Mariners and the Athletics, were both way out of playoff contention.

Once the rest of the stadium opened up at 5:10pm, I walked around the entire stadium to look for an opportunity to snag at least one baseball. I wandered down to the third base area and noticed this kid…

…do you see what he’s wearing? He’s wearing a Mariners jersey and an Athletics hat. When I walked up on him he was just putting on his Athletics hat and shortly after I took this picture he took off his Mariners jersey. You’re probably saying, “so what?” Well, I’ll tell you so what. Baseball players tend to pay attention to small details like that. It’s actually no big deal to me. I just thought it was extremely bold to change baseball swag in front of the players.

After hanging around this area for about fifteen minutes I was able to snag a Rick Rodriguez overthrow. And sadly that was the only baseball I was able to snag. After I caught the overthrow the Athletics slowly packed up their gear and wandered off the field. Not another baseball player in sight until about ten minutes before the game started.

Here I am watching the game from the Athletics bullpen area:

It was a pretty sad sight to watch the 2011 baseball season go away. I would’ve cried but I decided to hold my tears in until the Mariners won the World Series.

This season has actually been a pretty awesome one. Not only did I get enough pledges and donations to raise over $200.00 bucks for my Snagging Baseball for Puppies charity for the Seattle Humane Society but I was able to meet quite a few awesome people. And on top of all of that? I snagged 135 baseballs in 53 games! Booyah!

This is Krista.

If you have a Twitter account give her a follow. Her Twitter handle is @MarinerMojo55. She’s probably one of the coolest Mariner fans I’ve ever met. This is what she has to say about baseball;

“I’ve been going to Mariners games for as long as I can remember.  It started with the Kingdome and I continued to go once Safeco Field opened. Up until the 2009 season I only went to a couple of games a season. But now I go to as many games as possible.

I would have to say this past season (2011) would my favorite even though the M’s didn’t do so well. I met SO many people this year!! It is such great feeling to know you will always have a friend at the game.  I’m sure my response will change when the Mariners win the WS in a few years!”

And this is Ryanna. Another awesome Mariners fan. She has a great sense of humor and also has a Twitter account. You can find her here. If you don’t have a Twitter account You are missing out, by the way.

And yes. That’s really her standing inside the Mariners bullpen. And yes that is John Wetteland standing beside her. This is what she has to say about baseball;

“I have only REALLY been a baseball fan for about the past 5 years. When the Sonics left, I decided to get in to baseball. I found a couple of cute Mariners pitchers and after 2 years of going to games “for the cute guys”, I actually started watching the game and really enjoying it. The guys became a bonus, not the main attraction. In 2009 I attended about half the games. I found myself watching games from the beer garden, and there I met miss Carla :):) I decided in 2010 to become a season ticket holder and stood with Carla in #GirlsCorner every game. Same in 2011. #GirlsCorner grew and we have a blast every game!! I am in love with baseball.

In 2010 I went to US Cellular Field and sadly watched the Mariners get swept by the White Sox. This past season I attended the 1 exhibition game at Dodger Stadium and then later in the season went to Angels Stadium. Of those 3, I don’t really know what one would be my favorite. None of them are Safeco and I didn’t have my spot to stand, so it just wasn’t the same. The one stadium I would like to visit and am hoping possibly to get to in 2012 is Fenway!!!”

If you’ve been going to games at Safeco Field and are somewhat oblivious to the #Girlscorner, well I will explain. It’s this group of girls, and sometimes guys, that get together and meet in the beer garden near the Mariners bullpen. They have shirts and everything. It’s actually pretty awesome. So if you’re ever at a Mariners game feel free to go say hi to these lovely ladies.

And last but not least, this is Carla. I met her on opening day of this season but I really didn’t become friends with her until about after the All-start break. I was off doing my thing, you know, ignoring everyone and snagging baseballs, so I really didn’t get to know her until much later in the season. But she is one awesome woman. I kind of view her as the leader of the #GirlsCorner too. She’s very fun to talk with and knowns a ton about a baseball. Go. Say. Hi. Next. Season. Thank you.

During the ninth inning, and since the Mariners were losing, again, I decided to sneak down to the Athletics dugout to see if I could catch some baseball bats, baseballs, batting helmets etc. Here’s my view as I’m getting ready to pounce:

The Athletics were pretty selfish with the swag. When I figured that out I managed to make my way over to an over-crowded Mariners dugout. But they were tossing all kinds of stuff into the crowd. Baseballs, batting gloves, t-shirts, bats…it was insane! Check out the mob!

And in the chaos I managed to score a Dustin Ackley batting glove!

It landed right at my feet. I even surprised myself at how fast I could move to get it! And here’s a picture of my batting glove with the baseball I snagged before the game:

I’d have to say it was a pretty awesome night even though the Mariners lost.

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Game; September 268h 2011 Oakland Athletics vs Seattle Mariners

Gameballs; One

Attendance; 20,173

Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $220.70 this season.

Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $50.50 this
season

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

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