Results tagged ‘ Seattle Mariners ’
I showed up to todays game fairly early. And like always I was the first one in line. About an hour later another fan showed up decked out in Mariners gear. He had a large tote bag with him so I assumed he was just here for autographs. He played with his cellphone most of the time so we really didnt talk much. He seemed harmless. Five minutes before the gates open the line grew to about eight people. Mostly couples with children. But right at the last moment the dude that showed up after me pulled his glove out and got ready to run in when the horn blew. I knew there was something up with him. But he was older and not in very good shape. So I had him beat anyway.
Once inside batting practice was very slow. I searched the seats for any easter eggs but there was about 50 people already inside looking around and taking up their positions in the bleachers. I guess they opened the ‘Pen area up early. Im not sure how these people got into the stadium that early. But I didnt worry about it. The Toronto Blue Jays were in town and they were already stretching to head out to warmup. So I quickly switched to my Blue Jays hat.
I made it to the third base side of the stadium and the hot corner was already filling up. The hot corner is the part of the foul territory in the seats where baseballs seem to be attracted to. I took a picture during the game from where I sat and I also pointed out where the hot corner is so youll get some kind of an idea of what Im talking about.
During batting practice its an ideal place to stand. But lots of people crowd that area. Usually a handful of baseballs are hit when the batter is either trying to work on pulling the ball ( Righties ) or when the batter is trying to slice the ball down the line. ( Lefties ) So depending on who is pitching that night the lineup will probably be stacked either way. Something to keep in mind. Also a lot of overthrows happen there too. So like I said. Its a pretty good place to stand.
When Carlos Villanueva came out to warmup he was complaining to the trainer about his shoulder. The trainer told him to just work on distance throwing. So I figured Id stand behind him and catch any overthrows that might happen. Usually there is always a couple. It didnt take long and Carlos Villanuevas partner launched a deep, high arching throw and I lined up with it to catch it. I tried to back hand catch it but I guess I didnt reach far enough. It hit right off the tip of my glove and bounced right to the security guard. I knew I wouldnt get it back after that. Carlos waved it off to the security guard to do whatever with it and I held up my glove for one last ditch effort. Shockingly the guard tossed it to me.
After I got the ball tossed to me I asked Carlos if he wanted it back. He shook his head at me and I thanked him. Players always appreciate it if you ask them if they need the ball back. After all they are trying to practice with them. So without a baseball they cant get anything done. I secured the baseball in my pocket and kind of hung around a little longer to maybe catch a foul ball or something. After I few moments I took the ball out to put it in my backpack and I was literally floored when I saw the emblem. 50th Anniversary of the Angels of Anaheim commemorative baseball. Im not sure how many are made but the Angels are using them for the season. It was pretty awesome to get one. That would be my fifth commemorative baseball Ive gotten since 2008. My first one was the Washington Nationals inaugural season. I got that one at Busch Stadium. Then I got a CitiField inaugural commemorative baseball last year at Busch Stadium as well. I also snagged two Target Field inaugural commemorative baseballs at Kauffman Stadium from the Tampa Bay Rays batting practice.
Im sure youre curious how these special baseballs end up with other teams that are essencially caught by fans at different stadiums. Well, Im not entirely sure how a lot of baseballs with special logos ends up with other teams. One can only assume they somehow get mixed up during batting practice. So in this case the Toronto Blue Jays played the Angels April 8th through the 10th. In those three games the Blue Jays picked up quite a few special baseballs from the Angels. Whether it was during batting practice or during the game. But you can safely assume that any team that has played the Angels thus far or going to play them will end up with some of these baseballs. So if youre interested in snagging one…be on the look out.
After that snag I played the outfield for the remaining time. A lot of baseballs were being hit to my left but I stayed put. I had little competition for anything hit to my right and I liked it that way. But as soon as I climbed a row back to try and get in on some of the action to my left a deep fly ball was hit to my right. I had no chance. The dude that was playing that same row quickly went after it. He didnt make a clean catch up he got a lucky bounce. The ball smacked the stairs and went directly into his glove. I complimented his snagging abilities. I even asked if the baseball had the Angels logo on it and he quickly said no. So I had an inkling he was into Ball Hawking. Most people I asked after they caught a ball or had one tossed to them if it had the Angels logo on it looked at me like I was crazy. I had to explain that the Angels were using commemorative baseballs this year to celebrate their 50th year in the Major Leagues. People still looked at me like I was crazy.
During the game I actually thought Id get to use my ball retrieving tactic. A foul ball was hit into the camera pod ( the red circled area ).
But I didnt realize that there was a camera man up there. Once I got my string attached and picked out a route to get over there the ball was being handed up to a fan. Its the thought that counts.
During the game I almost caught my first home run ball too. Milton Bradley smoked one into the Right field bleachers. If you go onto Mariners.com and check out the Milton Bradley home run you will see me chasing it down. I wouldve had it too but the ball hit the back of a seat and shot straight up to this dude that was just standing there. Heres a picture of me running after the ball.
And this is who got it.
Yeah. That dude got a lucky bounce. Anyway. The Mariners played such smart baseball to win the game. The Toronto Blue Jays pitching just fell apart and the Mariners loaded the bases. With four walked runs in Seattle was on the verge of winning this one or going extra innings. I was pretty tired so I was hoping that it didnt go longer than nine innings. The bottom of the ninth came where Seattle put two on with two out. Luis Rodriguez fouled off a bunch of pitches to stay alive and then finally put one into the gap to score Brenden Ryan and Ichiro. The diehard 2,000 fans that stuck around ( including me ) cheered like it was a playoff victory. It was so amazing. The Mariners celebrated at the mound while I chased down the home plate umpire, Scott Barry, for the final baseball of the night. Which I was immediatly denied. The umpires I think were fairly tired and just wanted to get to the hotel. Tomorrow was a 12:40pm game so that probably had a lot to do with it.
In another news I am finally hearing back from the Humanes Society of King Co. I have been exchanging emails back and forth with them for about a week now and its looking like my charity project is going to take off. Im really excited. So far I have two pledges. Brad, from Crowdrise.com, pledged .25 cents a baseball. And my dear ol` mother pledged .05 cents a baseball. Bless her heart. So if you are interested in pledging please drop me a line. You can either email me at Stock350i@yahoo.com or leave a comment here.
So far I have raised $4.20. So thank you to all that have pledged.
Game; April 11th 2011 Toronto Blue Jays vs Seattle Mariners
Sundays game went off without a hitch. I thought there wasnt going to be any batting practice because it was a day game following a night game. But when I ran inside the cage was set up and the Indians were getting ready to start swinging. It was pretty rainy and cold out so I had to dress accordingly. I still dont think I dressed well enough. Its pretty miserable in the centerfield bleachers. Since its nearly impossible to sneak down into the lower box area to claim a seat I figured Id try elsewhere.
Once I got inside I thoroughly checked the lower first base side. Nothing. So I moved over to the third base area. I didnt bother checking the outfield bleachers for baseballs since the stadium was filling up rather quickly. Once I got to the third base side Chris Perez was doing some warmups. I thought about asking him for a baseball but I figured Id shower him with compliments first to butter him up. He did have a pretty good save the night before and I let him know that. He nodded to me and said thanks.
Here is a picture of him inbetween running the warning track.
Soon after his warmup he came over to sign some autographs. Here is another picture of him signing some baseballs for some kids.
Chris was a class act when he was with St Louis. Nothing has changed. Ive always admired him. Hes friendly and does what he can for the fans.
Now the next turn of events was quite humorous in my humble opinion but I guess it wasnt that funny to the other people. Kelvin De La Cruz and Tony Sipp started to play catch. As they were warming up, De La Cruz kind of overthrew Sipp. Well, the baseball rolled close by so I made an attempt at it. It got passed me and another fan ended up with it. Since it was their only baseball, Sipp requested it back. So the fan reluctantly gave it up. De La Cruz kind of suggested that he would get the fan another baseball. And when one was hit to him he tossed it to the fan that orginally had the baseball from the overthrow. Now in the Ball Hawking world there are plenty of unwritten rules. One rule is when a player specifically throws a baseball to a fan you do not rob that fan of the ball. Especially kids. Now. There are exceptions to the rules like always. If an adult, like in this case, drops the baseball and it lands back onto the field its pretty much up for grabs. Well, I watched this entire thing play out. De La Cruz tossed the ball, between three adults, they all seemed to bobble it and it scooted away back out onto the field just out of reach. So each of them made a sorry attempt at getting it back. What concerned me was security was on the way over to steal it. So I lunged for the ball and secured it in my glove. I started laughing but the three adults were clearly not happy. Anyway. Kelvin De La Cruz tossed them a second ball and they didnt drop it this time. I even hung back to give them room after a few smart-mouthed comments.
I left soon after to go play the outfield for the remaining portion of batting practice. I easily snagged my second baseball from the Indians bullpen catcher. I think thats who tossed it to me. Hes a short, chubby hispanic guy with a catchers glove. Ive seen him before and Im certain its not Carlos Santana. Anyway. He tried to shag a flyout and I just raised my glove for it after he missed it. He hooked me up immediatly.
After batting practice I went to grab some food. Safeco actually has some pretty awesome food and Im going to try and hit new places to eat around the stadium every Sunday. So be on the look out for some reviews of places to chow down. This Sunday I went here.
My review for this place would be five out of five. The cheeseburger I bought was exceptionally awesome. It had great taste, it was somewhat filling, and it wasnt a messy, sloppy jumble of puke-burgerness that most places sell. It has tomato, shredded lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickle, and onion. Plus a 1/3 pound beef patty cooked to perfection. The price is a little steep though. It cost me $11.25 for the burger and a small coke. The burger alone is $7.25. Well worth it though.
The game was pretty entertaining. It was a decent pitchers duel but in the end the Mariners ended up getting swept by the division leading Indians. The final score was 2-1. Michael Saunders did put one in the seats but not anywhere I was sitting. I did get on the instant replay. Ive circled myself in red.
Im also starting a charity for the Seattle-King Co. Humanes Society. Its called Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. Its to help raise money for the Humanes Society shelter in the Seattle-King Co. area. So if you wan to help me you can make a pledge. Heres how it works; you make a pledge of a dollar amount. It could be any amount. But keep this in mind. I go to a lot of baseball games and I usually snag quite a few baseballs per game. So youll want to keep your pledge at a comfortable level. For every baseball I snag during the regular season, to include the playoffs and World Series, you will pledge a certain amount per ball. By the end of the season I will tally up all my baseballs and you will multiply your dollar amount per baseball and donate that much. For example. If you donate ten cents per baseball and I snag 100 baseballs, thats $10.00. Got it? Awesome. You can check out my snagging stats on this website.
And you can check out the actual charity project page at this website.
So far I have a couple people pledging. One guy on Crowdrise.com, Brad, has pledged .25 cents a baseball! So that is really awesome!
Game; April 10th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs Seattle Mariners
Tonights game would be very special to Mariner fans and it would probably be a sold out show. I arrived as early as possible to secure first place in line and I was shocked to see this.
Yup. Someone actually beat me to the stadium. Her name is Carla and she is a loyal season ticket holder. She has been since 2001. There are quite a few season ticket holders that get to the stadium pretty early. One guy, his name is Steve, and he has been a season ticket holder since 1977. ( The inaugural season of the Mariners ) I wouldnt consider him a Ball Hawk but he does go after baseballs. He gives most of them away to kids. There is actually quite a bit of competition through the gates. So I had to be on my toes going in.
A lot has changed since my last visit to the Safe in 2006. Safeco now offers a place where fans can eat and drink. Its called the ‘Pen. Ive provided a link so you can read all about it. I never went down there during Fridays game but I plan to once the attendance starts to fall off.
From what some security guards say about the ‘Pen is that its usually full of drunk fans that want to trash talk and fight. Im not sure if thats really true but thats what Ive been hearing. They do serve hard alcohol down there so Im sure some of the rumors are true.
KIRO 710am set up an outside radio booth to cover some sports talk before the game. I snapped a few photographs when Jack Zduriencik made an appearance. It was really cool to see him outside and I heard he was a real approachable guy. But I didnt stick around long enough to hear the full broadcast. I wanted to take some more pictures and explore Safeco Field. I wandered down towards the CenterField gates to check out what was behind Safeco.
Thats pretty much what is behind Safeco Field. A whole lotta` nothing. Except there is this sign that stands out. Heres a better look at what it says.
Im wondering if players enter from somewhere over here. I really couldnt find an entry point for anyone except maybe the football players. Qwest Field is right next to Safeco Field so maybe its for them. But consider yourself cautioned. Also along the CenterField wall they have pictures of Mariner greats. Like this one.
Opening night at Safeco finally sold out after about an hour after I arrived. That was pretty cool. Not only was it the Mariners home opener but Dave Niehaus’s family was going to be in attendance. His wife, Marilyn, would be throwing out the first pitch. No Mariner fan would miss this for the world. But the first thing I had to do was get on the board with a baseball. It wouldnt come easy. Well, sorta.
This is the RightField entrance. The main thoroughfare to my ever continuing success in Major League stadiums of snagging baseballs. Tonight this stadium would see 47,000 people. Probably more since they do sell standing room only tickets. The biggest crowd that I ever faced was at The Ballpark in Arlington during the playoffs last season. The attendance topped out at nearly 55,000. So 47,000 would be a walk in the park. Before youre allowed to enter the stadium they play a little Mariners greatest plays over the loud speaker. And then they play a little jingle. And then the horn blows. Finally.
Once inside it was madness. People were pouring into the sections looking for baseballs. But since I was the first one inside I had first look through plenty of sections. There was a guy that kept telling me to look harder and look under the seats. It was a little annoying. He kept saying that there were baseballs inbetween the rows but a person just had to look hard and have a sharp eye. Soon enough he jetted off into the center field bleacher seats to set up for BP home runs. I soon followed and a little white orb caught my eye as I turned. My first one on the day. Sometimes those baseballs are hard to see.
I actually took my time through the left field, center field, and right field bleachers searching for another baseball. But the stadium was filling up with people so any lost baseballs would sure enough be scavenged by fans by now. I took some pictures on the way as I moved around the stadium.
I took this picture from center field. I also put a red box out there in the third base lower sections. I will tell you why in a minute. I continued around the stadium taking pictures.
Felix Hernandez was out shagging fly balls and as soon as I took this picture a ball was hit in my direction. Hernandez ran it down and a Mariner fan stepped in front of me and started calling for the baseball. I was wearing my Indians hat at the time so I didnt even bother calling for the ball. I didnt even think Felix would throw one anyway. But he did. I was a row back from the fan in front of me but I still made an attempt. Hernandez threw the ball wide left so I really had to extend for it. The ball bounced off my the end of my glove and dropped down into the seats. The chase was on. Unfortunatly since he was in the exact row the ball dropped into I had a very slim chance of getting to it first. I still made the attempt but I was beat from the start. So I moved on.
I took the next picture from the right field seats. The new ’Pen area was renovated over the offseason and it looks pretty inviting. The fans can now have a clear view of the bullpens without a fence to obstuct their view. It has its pros and cons. Heres a picture. You can see fans already standing there as an Indian pitcher starts his warmup.
Once I got done taking awesome pictures of the bullpens I turned around and saw a baseball sitting between some rows. Now remember that picture I took of Felix Hernandez with the cute little red box around some seats? Thats where the ball was. I saw it from the right field bleachers. To get to it would take some time. But as soon as I saw it I bolted for it. When I got to the baseball there was a security guard ten feet from it practically in the same row. She saw me scoop it up and sort of smiled to me. She kind of gave me the impression that she wanted someone else to get it, like a kid, instead of a guy in an Indians hat. But finders keepers.
I found my third baseball of the day nearly the same way. I was just poking around through the rows when I caught a glimpse of another baseball neatly tucked away under some seats. No one was really around to claim it and people were walking by it. Someone even brushed it with their foot as they were climbing over some seats. So I wandered over near it waiting for someone to come looking for it or turn around to claim it. But no one did. So I picked it up and stood there. Another few minutes went by. Still no one came over to get it. So I walked away with it.
I spent the majority of my time on the foul line. Playing the outfield was way too crowded for my blood. I didnt want to push and shove or be pushed or shoved around when incoming baseballs reached the seats. It was tough getting any handouts from the Indians. They were tossing a lot of baseballs to kids and parents with babies. Which that was fine with me. It was all in good fun. I had three on the day anyway. So I was good with that.
Heres a picture of how crowded the baseline was.
Everyone brought their gloves. And there were plenty of foul liners that came out towards me but nothing within reach. I was trying to get Chris Perez to toss me a baseball but he was totally focused with getting warmed up and prepared for todays game. But I felt grateful today anyway. Safeco Field let everyone in nearly 30 minutes earlier so fans could watch the Mariners take some cuts in the cage. Bravo to them. Ichiro is always fun to watch. Plus he provides lots of home run balls into the seats.
Heres another picture I took from behind home plate. I also made my route in the right field bleachers to the baseball I saw from there. As you can see its quite a distance. Its even longer when youre running towards the area searching for a baseball inbetween a row of seats.
Here are some pictures from the opening night ceremony. The groundskeepers put “My Oh My” in the infield. I thought that was pretty awesome.
This next picture was from the area I was supposed to be sitting in. But TicketMaster somehow screwed up my seating and put me right in the middle of the row. I think they thought that seat 10 was an aisle seat. I requested an aisle seat over the phone. Mariners.com didnt have a problem getting me aisle seating. Looks like TicketMaster lost a customer. So I stood behind the section for a few innings until I told the security guard what had happened and he hooked me up with a seat right at the top. So I watched the game like this.
Sold out crowd. Here is a picture to show how many people showed up for this game. And the sad part is by the fourth inning the Mariners were getting blown out. People actually started to leave in the middle of the fifth inning when the Indians had a 6-0 lead. I felt kind of bad but Seattle fans should be used to this torture! C`mon! Its the Mariners! Remember those days when the Mariners had like, an eight run lead and Norm Charlton would come in to try and close the game? All of a sudden the other team would load the bases and start hitting singles and doubles like it was going out of style? Nothing has changed except now it happens in Safeco Field!
But the characters still came out to support the Mariners.
The Mariners ended up losing by a score of 12-2. It was pretty embarrasing. Especially on opening night. To end the night I raced down behind home plate to catch the Umpires leaving the field. And let me tell you something about Safeco Field security. They dont mess around. But they do get a little loose on their rules around the seventh or eight inning. ( Depending on which security guard you talk to ) Every aisle has one of these guys standing in front of it.
When the game ended I waved my glove to get Sam Holbrooks attention. He lifted his chin at me as if he acknowledged my request and tossed me a gem. But I bobbled it. I somehow closed my glove entirely too soon and the ball threatened to get away from me. I quickly secured it with my free hand and placed it firmly in my glove. Wow. It wouldnt be the first time I bobbled one. But dropping one here would be costly.
Game; April 8th 2011 Cleveland Indians vs Seattle Mariners
Todays game started promptly at 6:05pm. Today was also the day that I would be attending another game but I would be looking to score my 100th career baseball to add to my collection. Talk about pressure. Anyway so I marched downstairs to eat some breakfast. The hotel provided a very nice spread and I was happy to take full advantage. On my way back to my room I managed to stumble and fall UP the stairs where I dumped some food and nearly lost the handle on my juice. Was it really going to be one of those days? Surely not.
As I arrived at the stadium that same lone security guard was again in my way. He stopped me and informed me to backup and go through the “pay” lane. I ended up having to shell out $17 bucks to park. I guess I cant complain. But the Athletics havent been to the playoffs since 2006 so parking should be A) free or B) not $17 dollars. Im just saying.
Once I made it inside where I safely parked my vehicle I started wandering around the stadium again. I took some pictures of the Athletics history. Check out these next batch of photos.
Pretty awesome stuff. Oh, I forgot to mention in yesterdays blog. As I was taking pictures and messing around with my phone Michael Saunders, Tom Wilhemsen, and Jamey Wright walked passed me. In the picture above this was where they walked by. Of course I was wearing my A’s hat so I didnt stop them for any autographs or pictures.
Here are some more pictures of Athletics history.
I bet you didnt know all of that about the Athletics. They are a pretty successful team throughout the years I will say. Thats one reason why I think they should get a new stadium. Maybe not move all the way to San Jose. But a new stadium should be in order.
Take a look at this next picture. Its the rules of the stadium. They have a lot. ( Like all stadiums ) But this particular rule sign was placed at a gate that is not used for entry. And I could not find another one like it near a gate that is used for fans to gain entry into the stadium. Here. Take a look.
Under the “not permitted” part I circled the artificial noise-maker part because during the game there were many fans that had cowbells, trumpets, drums, and other various noise making devices. And only one fan was ejected because he kept blowing his trumpet into some ladys ear. He was intoxicated so thats probably one of the main reasons why he got kicked out. Also containers carrying liquid of any kind, wouldnt that cover just about everything? Kind of redundant to …well, nevermind.
Once inside the Mariners were already on the field. Batting practice was kind of slow. There wasnt much hit into the seats but there was one baseball that I had a fairly good chance of getting. It was hit a section up from me and when I went chasing for it there were about five other people chasing after the ball too. I ran up the stairs and started hopping over the seats like a dummy. I should have just let gravity do its work and I would have had the baseball. So after I lost it I ended up catching it in the corner of my eye going back down the rows. So I started hopping back over seats and I didnt get my leg up high enough which I ended up bashing my knee right into a seat back. It pretty much knocked the wind out of me and I ended my pursuit. That hurt.
I took it easy during batting practice trying to nurse my knee a little so I ended up heading over to the left field area. Mariners bullpen coach, Jaime Navarro was out there shagging fly balls. He tossed a few to some kids but basically ignored me when I asked for one. Not one on the Mariners roster except Milton Bradley could reach the seats. So I wasnt about to go stand around in the outfield bleachers. By the time I got up there batting practice would be over.
After batting practice concluded I looked for a decent spot to wait on a foul ball. I sat over on the first base side about two sections up from the field. I thought security was going to come over and boot me out but since the stadium was not even half full they pretty much left me alone. As I sat and waited for the game to start Jason Vargas started warming up in the bullpen. So I cautiously wandered down closer for a few pictures.
By this time it was about seven minutes to game time. Not one security guard came down to run the fans out. Not even the Enforcer. I was really shocked. So I kept standing there.
Five minutes until game time. Still no security guards. I even looked over my shoulder a few times and they were all up at the top of the concourse yapping their gums off. So I just kept standing there. When Vargas was finally done warming up he tossed the ball towards the dugout and it rolled underneath the bench. I waited for the Mariner pitchers to approach the bullpen but Jaime Navarro walked over first. I asked him if he saw Vargas warm-up baseball underneath the bench and he said he couldnt see it. I was leaning over the bullpen like a jackass and the nearest security guard walked over and pushed on my shoulder slightly. I guess that was his way of telling me not to lean over the bullpen and to go find my seat.
The game was very entertaining. It was very similiar to last nights game too. The Athletics took an early lead and throughout the game their defense just fell apart. The Mariners again showed off their smart base running skills, and Chone Figgins showed off his power with a deep drive to centerfield to score Ichiro from third base. By the seventh inning the Mariners had climbed back in the game to take the lead. Unfortunately I was still without my 100th baseball. Here is how it played out.
Jason Phillips, the Mariners bullpen catcher, would throw Michael Saunders and Ichiro a warm-up baseball to play catch in between innings. Michael Saunders would play catch with Milton Bradley and Ichiro would play catch with Jason Phillips. When the Athletics were ready to take their at-bats, Ichiro and Saunders would then end their game of catch by throwing the baseballs back to Phillips. He would then remove his glove and go sit back down. I watched this all throughout yesterdays game and todays game. And what I particularly paid attention to was what Jason Phillips did with the baseballs towards the end of the game. Sure he gave one or two away during the game but he also gave away two more right before the bottom of the ninth. So in essence I was hoping and praying that the Mariners would be leading the game going into the ninth. And they were.
One other thing I paid attention to were the security guards. They walked down to the area where I would need to stand but they also run back up the stairs right before Ichiro and Saunders both threw the baseballs back to Phillips. So I had to plan this just right and act with such precision it drove me batty.
The top of the ninth came and went. Ichiro, Saunders and Bradley jogged out to their positions in the outfield. Jason Phillips took a few steps towards the foul line. He threw Saunders a baseball. The security guard wandered down to take position in front of the field. Phillips lobbed Ichiro a baseball. I waited. My heart was racing. The advertisments came to an end on the Jumbotron. Ichiro finished playing catch with Phillips and he threw the baseball back in with a high arch. ( signaling that he was finished ) The security guard slowly wandered back up the stairs. I stood up. Saunders threw his baseball back to Phillips. I made my way slowly down the stairs towards the field. As Phillips turned around I held up my glove and joined about five other Mariner fans in calling his name. He saw me and lobbed me the baseball. All I saw were other hands trying to make the catch. Barely missing by inches. I secured the baseball in my glove and gave my thanks. Number 100.
Game; April 4 2011 Seattle Mariners Vs Oakland Athletics
Opening Day for the 2011 MLB season is finally here. I drove 741 miles to Oakland California to watch the Oakland Athletics home opener against the Seattle Mariners. I have never been to this stadium before and I wanted to go here before the Athletics got a new stadium. Who knows when that will be but the rumors are circulating that in 2015 they will be moving to the San Jose area. The fans I talked to about it laughed and told me that, that rumor has been around for the last five years.
I got to California Thursday evening and enjoyed some family time farther south of Oakland. It was my cousins 27th birthday and since I was in town ( or in the state rather ) I thought it would be a nice surprise to see her and the rest of my family. The birthday cake was very delicious. So compliments to the chef. Friday morning I headed back to Oakland to grab a hotel room. I stayed at the Hilton Executive Suites about 2 miles from the stadium. It was a very nice room and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. If youre ever in Oakland stay there. Trust me.
I caught the Phillies/Astros game prior to leaving for the stadium. It was such an awesome game too. The Phillies came all the way back in the bottom of the ninth to win it with a John Mayberry Jr RBI single. Watching that game really pumped me up. I couldnt have been more ready for this game to start at the Coliseum. But I had so much time and so many photos to take.
Here are two pictures of the view from my hotel room. They view was not at all impressive but it will give you an idea of where I stayed.
Anyway. Enough clowning around in the hotel room. The sun was out and it was time to see the stadium! As I approached the front gate ( the Coliseum is very easy to get to, by the way ) there was just one lone security guard standing in my way. As I rolled down my window he was already telling me I was too early. I told him its never too early for baseball and he waved me through. I finally made it!
Since the stadium had been built in 1966 I didnt expect much. In fact I thought the stadium would be more run down than what it was. It was in pretty good condition. Even for a structure that has survived a couple of earthquakes. So there I am. Standing directly in front of this beast. Of course I had to explore the grounds and take as many pictures as possible. My first mission was to find out where the players entered and exited the stadium. Since it was an older stadium I assumed it had an underground tunnel system. Plus when the Coliseum was built they also built the Oracle.
Thats where the Golden State Warriors NBA basketball team plays. Im not sure if the Oracle was specifically built for that NBA team or what. But thats what they use it for now. As I was exploring I was interviewed by KGO newstalk 810 AM radio station. I was initially asked if I lived in this area and I said no. The conversation goes something like this;
“Do you mind if I ask you a few questions, sir?” The reporter asked.
“No, go right ahead.” I replied.
“What do you think about the 10% tax increase in the San Leandro area?” She asked. I initially thought it was a tax increase for renovations for a new stadium. But I had to ask to be sure.
“Whats the tax increase for?” I questioned.
“Its a sales tax increase.” Said the woman.
“Oh.” This wasnt about baseball at all! It was a political question and to be honest I really wasnt prepared to answer. So I didnt really give a very intelligent answer. So we will just leave it at that. The interview lasted a few more minutes and I have yet to search for it on the internet. ( If they even put it in some kind of archives file )
I continued looking for the players entrance and exit and I was quickly intercepted by another reporter. This time it was from KCBS 740 AM. This interview was actually about baseball. The reporter was interviewing fans for opening day and asking questions like; “Do you think the Athletics are going to the playoffs this year? ( No ) and do you think the Athletics should get a new stadium? ( Yes ) and how well do you think Hideki Matsui will fit into the A’s organization? ( Not very ). It was a very interesting interview and I had a lot of fun with it. The guy complimented me on my quick thinking and ability to spit stats, player bios, and baseball history. I was actually more pleased with myself that I remembered so much! He told me I was a true baseball fan. I appreciated the compliment.
After the radio interviews I came across another baseball fan. He asked me if I were from around the Oakland area ( mainly because I had my A’s hat on ) and I told him I drove all the way from Seattle to watch the home opener. ( I also explained I had my Mariners hat in my backpack )
His name is Benson and he is from Southeast Asia. he actually flies out to see Major League games and the Oakland Coliseum is his 17th Major League stadium he has been to. After this game he is flying to Cincinnati to go to Great American Ballpark and then Busch Stadium after that. I told him all the tricks and tips I knew about Busch Stadium. And some stuff about GABP. Benson had a lot of interesting knowledge to share with me about baseball where he comes from. Did you know that baseball players in Taiwan only get paid if they are a starter? Did you know that their training differs so much from American baseball that the coaches make a pitcher pitch 200-300 times to get the pitches perfect? That results in a lot of injuries. Did you know that baseball players over there get paid a tenth of what big leaguers in America get paid? Very interesting stuff.
Benson is also very knowledgeable specifically about the stadiums. Like, where the players enter and exit.
See the tunnel? Benson found that and told me about it. So I ran down here to get a picture. Thats where the players enter and exit both the Coliseum and the Oracle. Since Benson is an autograph collector ( much like I was two years ago ) he finds this stuff out just by walking around the stadium. We exchanged emails and he also told me that he got a picture of me while I was talking to the reporter for KCBS 740 AM. He told me he would email me the picture when he got home. It was pretty awesome talking with him about baseball. He has a lot of autographs from players that come out to Taiwan to play baseball.
By 3pm the game finally sold out and I was the first one in line. Thirty-minutes before the gates opened up there was virtually no one in line. Fifteen minutes prior to the gates openining up a small line started to form. The ushers confirmed that the game was sold out and they even mentioned that tomorrows game would only see about 15,000 fans. I really thought the whole series would be sold out.
Of course I was the first one inside and I started snapping pictures right away. See how the seat bottoms sort of sag in the rows? Yeah. I cant tell you how many times I bashed my legs up running through the rows trying to catch a foul ball. I had to actually give up chasing them down to save on injuries. It was that brutal. Anyway. I went into this game with 97 baseballs so I was looking for my 100th. I was only three away. As the Athletics were playing catch in the outfield and shagging fly balls a lot of fans were calling out to Jerry Blevins, one of the Athletics pitchers. I just let them do the calling and when he turned to fire a baseball our way I held up my glove and he launched me number 98. Moments later the Mariners started to come out onto the field. So I disappeared for a while to switched hats.
See the security guard in the picrure? I call him the Enforcer. He is not one to mess with. The good thing is he has a bum knee. So he is very, very slow. The slower they are the better. Thats what I say.
Once the Mariners came out onto the field it was very easy to get baseball number 99. Miguel Olivo is very responsive to the crowd and after he was done playing catch he was obviously looking to toss the baseball to someone. So I just called his name from about four rows up, held up my glove, and he underhanded me my 99th baseball of my collection. It was that easy. Now it was all about the 100th. Would it even happen today? All of a sudden it felt like someone dropped a ton of bricks on my shoulders. One baseball away from a milestone. I really wanted it to be a foul ball during the game and I had really great seats for that to happen too. I decided to run to the other side of the stadium. Batting practice was in full swing ( no pun intended ) and I had plenty of time. The awesome thing about the Coliseum is there is a concourse walkway that you can walk to get to the other side of the field and not have to cut up through the stadium like at Kauffman or Safeco. Its pretty awesome. Thats the only thing I really liked.
On the other side I saw this.
Was it really going to be this easy? Surely not. Not to spoil the rest of the blog entry but I didnt get my 100th baseball on Opening day at the Coliseum. I didnt want it to be like that because going into the next game trying to get that one baseball really puts the pressure on.
But I did enjoy watching the Mariners beat the Athletics though. Here are some pictures from the Opening Day ceremony.
Here is a picture I took during the introduction of the players. Notice all the empty seats? I guess thats sold-out Oakland style.
The Athletics took an early two-run lead thanks to Josh Willinghams two run home-run. But as the A’s defense fell apart the Mariners capitalized on all the errors and routed the A’s for the victory. Chone Figgins, who only hit one home run all season last year, blasted one into the left-field seats. It was a very well played game by the Mariners with smart base running and a powerful performance by King Felix.
The Oakland Coliseum staff needs to do some serious weeding around the seats too.
Game; April 1st 2011 Seattle Mariners Vs Oakland Athletics
Albert Pujols enters spring training with no hard feelings that a contract didnt come to terms with the Cardinals. Although, some major speculation that the Cubs would be highly interested in the Redbird slugger in the 2012 season. Rumors being highly hypothetical about the Washington Nationals signing Pujols have actually gained some momentum, and might actually turn into a reality in 2012. But regardless. If both clubs want AP, they will undoubtedly have to start saving money NOW. Pujols was initially offered an 8-year $200 million dollar contract which he respectfully declined. He countered that offer with a 10-year $300 million dollar offer to include part ownership of the St Louis Cardinals. None of this should come as a surprise as Albert Pujols is arguabley the best baseball player in the Major Leagues as of right now. Pujols has stood firm on his self-imposed deadline to cease talks about contract terms once he arrived at Spring Training. Well, he’s arrived. Talks are off. To include myself. Just kidding baseball fans! As I find out more on this SO WILL YOU.
Another legendary slugger makes headlines as well this week. Ken Griffey Jr is back in Seattle. No, he wont be starting in the outfield or filling a DH spot. Griffey will be working as a “special consultant” for the Mariners during Spring Training, and most likely throughout the regular season. Will he be at Safeco on opening day? Sources say he has some conflicts that require resolution prior to coming to Safeco, and no details were provided on what those conflicts are, so the answer is no. Griffey will not be at opening day on April 8th. Edgar Martinez, Dan Wilson, Jay Buhner, and John Olerud are also expected to help out during spring training. The reason for all these former Mariners showing up to help? New skipper Eric Wedge wants to signify just how important being a Mariner is.
Manny Ramirez wants to show the Tampa Bay Rays what hes really made of. “I just have a chip on my shoulder,” Ramirez said. ” I want to get here and get my stuff right and show people I can play.” A properly motivated Ramirez can be a very productive Ramirez. Boston Redsox fans can agree to that. Ramirez signed a one year deal with the Rays on the first of February, and the 37 year old seems pretty happy about his situation. Teaming up with a former teammate from Boston, Johnny Damon, Ramirez has big plans for this season but was very nonchalant about the fact that he is only 45 home runs away from the 600 home run milestone. ” I havent thought about it,” Ramirez said. “It doesnt matter, man. –600, 500, 800..because, you know, when you die, none of this matters. They could build you a statue or whatever, but it doesnt matter when you die.” Ramirez said. Well, if Manny Ramirez ever gets to 800 home runs Im sure they will build him a statue.
Stephen Strasburg returned to the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium earlier today. Although, he isnt scheduled to start in a Major League game until much later in the season, he was still able to throw with the pitchers and catchers today. ” It was just another day. It felt good.” Strasburg said. Strasburg is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery from last season, and he isnt quite able to throw off the mound yet but he has been able to throw from flat ground since January. Today he felt comfortable, and hes on track to make his full recovery.
Game two of the three game series between the Mariners, and the Cardinals. The Mariners lost last night 9-3 despite some pretty good offense by them. But Colby Rasmus, and Ryan Ludwick were on fire! I can not believe how many home runs those guys have already this season. They’re nearly tied with Albert Pujols!
Well, the evening started out kind of hairy. I usually buy my tickets from Stubhub.com. Ive always had success with that website. I get my tickets really cheap. I can pick where I want to sit depending on my mood or what my mission is for the game, I.E if Im chasing a milestone home run I can get seats in the outfield, aisle seat in just about any row, or if Im looking to spend the extra money I can usually find a decent aisle seat behind the dugout or out in foul territory. Well, when I bought my ticket for todays game it didnt really print right. But I didnt think much of it. So when I got to the gate to have my ticket scanned it didnt scan at all! I was freaking out! The security guard told me to go to window 16, and have them re-print it. They did, and it still printed wrong! I probably was at that window for a good ten minutes. Ten minutes of precious ballhawk time being wasted! Finally the lady came back to the window with a standing room only ticket to get me into the game, and my stubhub ticket that had my seat number on it. So I was good to go.
I hurried inside. I mean I sprinted inside. Security guards left, and right were telling me to walk. But I ignored their direction. To my surprise once I got inside there were still great spots to ballhawk at. So I really didnt lose all that much time. Once I got calmed down, and got situated, got my glove out, and found a spot the fun began. More John Wetteland anyone? I didnt record anything but he was at it again. He came over, and started talking about more geography questions, and just about everything else he could think of. Besides entertaining the fans he does help his pitchers out though.
I really have to give the Mariners credit. Despite their losing season this year, and their inhability to stay consistant or even get their pitching on track theyre probably the most cheerful, upbeat, relaxed team I have ever been around. David Aardsma, and Ryan Rowland-Smith came over to the wall to chat with fans, and sign autographs. Even Don Wakamatsu got in on the action. Really a great group of guys.
There were a couple of fans that were standing next to me that were demanding baseballs from the Mariners as they were warming up. One thing that I have learned is that just because youre in the stands, and the baseball players are busy warming up, and there is music playing, people talking, baseballs being hit, fans screaming- if youre right against the wall the baseball players can hear just about everything you say. So Ive learned to really watch my tongue when it comes to getting in coversations with other fans about specific baseball players. I keep my comments positive or I dont say anything at all.
Anyway. So this fan is standing there harassing the players, and at this time I moved a row or two down so I wasnt caught up or accidentally accused of being associated with them. Josh Wilson finally had enough, and turned around to confront the unruley fans.
” Who are you talking to? A pack of dogs?” Wilson abruptly said.
” What?” Said the surprised fan.
” Who are you talking to? What the hell do you want?” Wilson added.
” A ball. Cant I have one?” Asked the fan.
” You cant say please or may I? You have to stand there, and act like you dont have any manners?” Wilson continued.
” I just want a ball.” Said the fan.
” No. You arent getting one. So go find somewhere else to stand.” Wilson errupted, and finally turned back around to continue playing catch.
I couldnt help but to smirk a little. Josh Wilson was right on with what he said. I hate those kinds of fans that think baseball players are supposed to give them everything. Or fans that think theyre entitled to something at the stadium. Granted baseball players have more than any average fan does but that doesnt exclude them from being treated with respect. So props to you, Josh Wilson.
I had a couple foul balls hit my way but I wasnt able to get a good position on them as they clanged off the plastic seats. I try to play back on them a little, and wait on a good bounce. I dont know if thats a good idea or a bad idea. Most of the time I get a good bounce or they drop down in the seats, and I can easily run over, and grab it. In fact my first baseball of the day was sharply hit, sliced into the seats, bounced down into the concourse, and then bounced back up into a row of seats. I played it on the hop, and I thought it was going to stay in the concourse aisle area. Well, it didnt. As I mentioned that it bounced back up into a row of seats, I actually had to jump over the steel gate that seperated the seats from the concourse aisle, and reach down and get the ball before it rolled down another row. The ball nearly hit one of the female security guards so after I got the ball I made sure she was okay.
Batting practice had been ending 15 minutes early this entire series, and last series against the Reds. Today was no exception. The grounds crew started rolling up the mats around home plate which indicated another 5-10 minutes of batting practice was left. Nothing else came my way so I was left with just one baseball during batting practice. David Aardsma threw a lot of baseballs up into the seats. Mainly to fans in the left field bleachers, and to kids. I even asked him for a couple, and yes I said please! But no dice.
Thats how much room I had to run during batting practice. Im getting a little better about negotiating the seats, but my main concern is little kids getting under my feet while Im chasing down a ball. Even if its an accident, I really dont want to be that guy that stepped on a kid trying to get a baseball. So I make sure nobody is in the rows while Im watching. If someone steps into the row I usually find another empty row to stand in, and Im constantly looking around to have an idea of who is around me. The kids are generally down in the first few rows so I feel pretty confident but it really can take a second for some toddler to come creeping up behind me while Im not watching. I hate to think about it.
I wandered around the dugout until the begining of the game. I would have had another ball thrown to me by Josh Wilson but the throw from Jose Lopez was dropped, and the baseball rolled to the dirt. Some fan was standing ten feet away, and he asked for it. Wilson delivered. Figgins, and Kotcheman were out stretching, and playing catch but neither one of them tossed the ball into the stands before the game. I only stayed until the third inning this game…as college home work was calling my name.
Game: Seattle Mariners Vs St Louis Cardinals June 15th 2010 7:15pm.
Game Balls: One
Kauffman Stadium. One of the most unique, and beautiful stadiums in the Major Leagues. Although, I havent been to every single stadium that ever stood, I still love going to Kauffman. The people are great, the rules are fair, and the players are always willing to throw plenty of baseballs into the stands. Tonights visit to Kauffman was a little….nerve racking for some reason though. Maybe because its always a thought in the back of my mind of getting shutout at the K or not collecting my usual standard of baseballs. Whatever the case was, I really wasnt feeling it tonight.
I arrived at the stadium at around 2pm, and like always I was the first at the gates. Of course, here at Kauffman Stadium they dont open the gates two hours before game time. They only do that on Friday games, and Saturday games. So there I stood at the front gate waiting. Felix Hernandez, Casey Kotchman, Chone Figgins, Adam Moore, and David Aardsma took taxi cabs to the stadium. I watched them walk in but I didnt attempt for any autographs. Chasing autographs for me was kind of on the back burner this year anyway. I only need 30 more to reach 100, and I figured Ill probably have that by the All-Star break if I really focused on it. It was just nice to see some well dressed Mariners.
Side shot of the newly renovated Kauffman Stadium.
5pm finally rolled around. Thirty minutes until they opened the gates. You could hear the music over the loud speakers on the field, you could hear the cracks of the bats on the field, and you could smell the hotdogs, and other various stadium food aroma. I love baseball! The ushers, and security started to unlock the gates, and bring the bag check tables, and boxes out. The ushers chatted amongst themselves, and finally “Leroy” came over to me. He greeted me, and I offered to allow him to search my bag.
” Leroy, how come they dont open the gates two hours prior today? At Busch Stadium they do every game.” I asked.
” Im not sure. I know they open the gates two hours prior on Friday games, and Saturday games though.” He replied.
” Interesting. You’d think they would open them up two hours before game time everyday. It would be a great chance to make extra mo-” And at that point I looked back at the crowd behind me. Zack Greinke was scheduled to pitch tonight. It was Tuesday. It was cold, and windy. There were maybe 15 people in line with me. At that point I looked back to Leroy.
” Its got to have something to do with paying employees more money to open the gates an extra 30 minutes. Considering the fan base turn-out here as opposed to Busch Stadium. ” I said.
Leroy simply nodded silently. Those sad eyes stared at me for a moment. You could tell he was thinking something along the lines of ” Why cant Kansas City have a winning team?”
I could only look to my feet. I shook my head empathetically. I know the feeling. For 21 years I have loved my Seattle Mariners. Year after year I have watched them play some really subpar baseball. But like a loyal fan I support them, and continue to love them. Isnt that what baseball is all about? Winning and losing.
Right field seats. Even with a former Cy Young award winner on the mound tonight they couldnt turn out more than 20,000 fans. ( 14,969 )
So once inside the stadium, I immediatly started to scout out the best place to get my first ball. The Mariners were already on the field so time wasnt on my side. They were off in left field warming up. The Royals still had roughly ten minutes left on the field. Maybe. There were a few Royals cleaning up foul balls that were being hit into the right field corner but that was a long shot to get one of those guys to toss me a ball. I started down the third base line when I spotted a lone baseball sitting out in front of the Royals dugout. I looked around for any players that may come this way, and the Royals hitting coach Bobby McClure was about the only guy that could walk towards me. Sure enough, he did. I started calling to him. ” Hey, Coach! Hey Coach!” Pointed at the ball in any desperate attempt to get his attention. He waved at me, and rubbed his fingers together indicating that I would have to pay for this one. I laughed, and I told him I had to pay for parking, and the only cash I had on me was just for that. Plus, I explained I wanted to get a hotdog or something.
” Well, junior, its Buck Night, so you’ll have to do better than that.” He laughed.
” Im parked in a tow away zone too! So the fees are going to stack against me!” I exclaimed.
McClure eventually picked up the ball, and tossed it my way. Bing!! How about that. Within the first five minutes I got my first ball of the day. That has to be some kind of record. It has to be. I thanked him, and I moved on. I gave left field another thought, and just as I turned to jet up the stairs and head that way, I heard the command ” Pick up!” Yep. The Royals were done. Up the stairs I went, and I quickly traded out hats on the fly.
Now Kauffman is a little more difficult going from base line seats to base line seats. They have this huge restaurant behind home plate, and that also allows Diamond Club members to enter the stadium. Its actually a nice place to sit and eat but a huge inconvenience to me. Not that I am lazy in any fashion, it just takes away from the time it would take me if I could just scamper around the diamond on a cross section or something. I sprinted around the restaurant, and I noticed a father/son duo running that way as well. They were all decked out in M’s gear so I knew I would have to get down there fast, and be aggressive.
The whole Mariners pitching staff was down there warming up. I took up a spot on the railing behind Kanekoa Texeira. I was hoping he wouldnt recognize me from last Saturday at Cellular Field. To be honest with you I dont know how well baseball players memories were. I made quite a scene at Cellular to get a ball, and Texeira was standing by to witness. Maybe I would get one because it was the second time he has seen me at a Mariners game. In any case, I had to try. It wasnt five minutes later that Texeira, and Ryan Rowland-Smith were all done warming up. Texeira immediatly turned around, and tossed me the ball. Bing! Number two!
Ken Griffey Jr was in the cage smashing baseballs into the outfield bleachers. So I headed that way. He launched two into the left field seats as I was passing by but they were out of reach. I continued around towards the Batters Eye, and down to the Party Porch. I learn something new every time I attend a baseball game. The players that are generally shagging fly balls in the outfield are pitchers. Not all of them but the majority of the them are. So a key tip here is to learn the pitching staff of the teams you go to see. Fortunatly for me I already knew all that players names from the Mariners. So as soon as a fly ball was hit over the head of this guy…
I quickly struck up a friendly conversation.
” Mark! How are things going for you in Seattle? You look like youre having a lot of fun!” I yelled to him.
” Seattle is great! Thanks man! How are you?” He replied back to me.
” Im very well, thanks man. Just enjoying the day. Hey, what are the chances of me getting that ball from you?” I asked.
He smiled, and tossed it up to me. Unfortunalty, it bounced off of the top of the wall, and back onto the field.
” Bad toss! My bad!” He apologized, and got it to me this time.
Bing! Mark Lowe you are officially my hero! Now to get my fourth was going to be tricky. Most of the Mariners have been watching me now, so I would have to change it up a bit. I ran into the Centerfield bleachers ( since I had about 40 minutes left ) to see if I could shag a homerun ball. If you would like some tips on how to catch a line drive homerun ball, here you go; They come in hot, and fast! You better get a good read on the ball, and get a good jump on it. You better know your way around the seats, and aware of your surroundings at the moment. Lastly, make an aggressive catch. I failed to follow my own advice. I got tripped up on the stairs, and the ball was deflected by another fan. Fortunatly for me he too got tripped up on the stairs and he got stopped by the stair railing. He scampered towards the ball, and as I got to my feet the ball was within reach, and I grabbed it. Bing! My fourth ball of the afternoon! The other fan moaned, and growned and then let out a laugh as he explained that would have been his third.
I waited in the Centerfield bleachers for another ten minutes, and nothing else came my way. So I headed back down to the third base side. ( At this point I removed by black jacket to reveal my white undershirt I was wearing ) Two baseballs were laying on the grass within in five feet or so of my new position on the railing. All I had to do was be more outgoing than the fans around me, and hope whoever came over wasnt Mark Lowe, or Kanekoa Texeira. I had a shot. There were two of them. A few more Mariners fans perched on the railing with me so now I had a little competition. Fun. Soon enough the railing filled up with young Royals fans as well. My chances of getting one of those balls soon become slim to none. But I still had a shot. Rick Adair was the lucky Mariner to come our way, and I started shouting at him. I wanted that ball! Well, Rick decided that my quick wit, and humorous personality wasnt quick enough, or funny. The kids got the ball.
Back around the Royals dugout I went. ( The Mariners dugout was lined with fans ) If I were going to get my fifth ball here this would be it. The Mariners were busy with batting practice, and there was a small crowd of kids to my left. No one to my right, and nobody behind me. I was set. I started calling out to Eric Brynes, and Ty Van Burkleo everytime a new batter took the cage. No dice. But Rob Johnson was busy tossing a few baseballs to the crowd of kids to my right. I called a few times to him but he ignored me. Finally Rob Johnson tossed another one to the kids, and it got away from them, and rolled on top of the dugout, and dropped down into it. They kids desperatly asked the police officer to get it for them, and he reluctantly did. ( I remember when I asked a police officer last year for a ball on the field, and he told me he would get fired for touching it. Rules have changed this year I guess, or this cop hates his job and wants to get fired. )
The police officer came out of the dugout, and tossed it to the kids again. The ball squirted out of their mits for the second time, and dropped back down into the dugout. Wow. I called to the police officer.
” Hey, if you toss it to me Ill catch it!” I laughed. As did he, and he retrieved the ball for the second time. Before he could toss the ball up I interjected, and pointed to this little three year old that joined me with his father.
” Throw it to this little guy, sir! Those other kids had their chance!” I pleaded. The cop fullfilled my request, and tossed it to the child. I caught the ball for him, and handed it over. The father of the child told the youngster to thank me, and I responded with a thumbs up. As bad as I wanted that ball it wasnt really intended for me. I felt obligated to give it up. Even though I caught it. Even though those eight kids to my right had equal opportunity to catch the ball. Even though the players have tossed three to them already. Even though the players give more baseballs out to kids than adults. Even though. I still gave it to the kid. I thought to myself, ” I should have grabbed that ball, and ran.” At best I would have been boo-ed. I wasnt going to sit in that section. That ball will end up in that kids toybox anyway. Or end up a chew toy for the family dog. Ill tell you where it wont end up. It wont end up in a protective case high up on the wall with a small plaque reading ” Juniors first baseball from Kauffman Stadium”
Oh well. I had four, and the game hadnt even started yet. By the end of the game I still remained at four.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Seattle Mariners April 27th 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Four
Despite 21 years of watching the Mariners play subpar baseball and hardly ever winning in the playoffs, and be one of the three teams that have never made an appearance in the World Series, here I sat in the front row of Cellular Field waving my Mariners colors proudly. What could any Sox fan say to me? The WhiteSox went into this game 6-11 and have only won the World Series three times in their franchise history. Its more than the Mariners, but realistically its not much more. Whatever.
Outside the gates I conversed with a fellow autographer, and ballhawk that lives in Chicago. We traded autograph stories, and complained mostly how Ken Griffey Jr doesnt sign any autographs, and hasnt for the last ten years. Kind of depressing, really. We also traded great autograph opportunity areas around different baseball stadiums. He told me a lot of the autographs he’s gotten were from players sitting in hotel lobby bars! If you can believe that. I told him the two stadiums that I have had the most success at ( Kauffman, and Busch ) and how to get autographs from those places. He was quite impressed, and told me he’d like to go sometime and try his luck.
As soon as the gates were opened, we ran in to make our way towards the field. I always hated ushers, and security that constantly want to check tickets, and find out where we are supposed to sit. I got stopped twice for ticket checks on my way to the field. Unreal. Get a real job!! Anyway. As I approached the field, I scurried down to the first base line where the Mariners were warming up, and stretching. Whoever was in the cage at the time was sending countless baseballs into the corner of right field. Don Wakumatsu, and Adam Moore were working on catching drills, and Moore almost caught a ball to the back of the head! As he retrieved it I asked for it, and he handed it up. Bing! Too easy!
Did you know the walls at Cellular field along the base lines are like two feet high? I was amazed at how low they were. But it made it easier for me to snag grounders.
Here is a picture of Cellular Field on a brisk rainy day in Chicago.
So after snagging my first baseball on my first visit to the stadium within 3 minutes of being there, I thought Id continue my luck in the right field hole. Sure enough ball number two came at me but it was about six or seven feet out from the fence. It actually landed close enough to catch if I were up the line about ten feet. Unfortunaltly, I was blocked by fans. So I waited for another player to come my way, and hopefully he would give me the ball, and not a Sox fan. Well, if you are a fellow BallHawk you would know Zack Hample. Zack Hample has over 4,000 caught MLB baseballs to his name. He also has a glove trick that you can use to effectively pickup balls that are out of reach on the field.
( Theres the link incase youd like to learn how to do it. )
So there I am assembling my glove to pick up this ball on the field. I get everything ready, and I start lowering my glove. People start chanting to me, and laughing, clapping and all of that riff raff. I was having a pretty good time with it until security stepped in. Secuirty can be a pain in the butt, but I understand their purpose. You cant have every fan lowering their gloves onto the field to get baseballs. Anyway. He shut me down but handed me the ball anyway! Bing! Number two! It was a fresh ball too. No markings on it expect where it was hit, and where it landed. Such a treat from security.
My third baseball was a little harder to get. Since I didnt want to wear out my welcome in the right field corner, I figured I’d move around a little bit and see if I could get some players to toss me a ball. Had I known the WhiteSox werent going to participate in batting practice I probably would have stayed on the first base side a little longer. But as I think back on it Im glad I moved over to the third base side when I did. The Mariners shut down BP 15 minutes after I got over there. Garrett Olson, and Kanekoa Texeira were handing business out in left field, and there were a few baseballs laying around. I knew I had a great chance of snagging number three from either one of those guys. I knew their names, and I was the only Mariners fan in the South Side in Cellular Field on the third base side! As Olson came walking backwards to the ball, I knew he knew what I wanted. He was trying to avoid making eye contact with me but I called out to him anyway. ” Garrett! Im the only Mariners fan here today! Show some love, brother! Can I get that ball, please!?” Sure enough. He cracked a smile, and tossed me number three! Bing! Wow! Three baseballs on my first visit to Chicago! My best is at Safeco Field last year in April when I came away with four but I gave one away. So this year Im looking to get at least four to tie, and then five of course to break that old record.
I sat front row as usual and watched the entire game with annoying, obnoxious Sox fans all around me. Ive never been to a stadium filled with mean drunks before. But I guess each city is different. Ill have a hard time going back, but I must visit Wrigley Field, so I was planning a two day game weekend in Chicago in May. Wrigley Field, and then Cellular Field. Cellular is by far the easiest stadium to get baseballs at though. It ranks up there with Kauffman. Its not hard at all.
Game; April 24th 2010 Chicago WhiteSox Vs Seattle Mariners