Results tagged ‘ Seattle ’

From the Depths of Safeco Field

Soooooooooooo here’s what’s been happening. I’ve been trying to delete all my blogs (including this one) but WordPress.com won’t let me delete any of them. I just have to keep them inactive or some crap. Not really sure what the deal is with that. Anyway, a few days ago I was running out of room for pictures on this blog and I started deleting pictures and it literally wiped out all my past entries. So, understandably, I was pretty pissed. I got over it and since I’m not “ballhawking” anymore due to other people whining and crying about some stupid Ballhawk of the Year award on www.mygameballs.com, (you can read all about the hoopla on Zack Hample’s blog since he was basically (and unfairly) targeted over the whole thing. I consider Zack a good friend of mine, and although he’s pretty popular, no one deserves their character attacked like his was) I really have no use for this blog or any of my other ones anymore. I still go to games, but my blog entries are going to be pretty boring, I suppose.

I’ve started a new blog. Its called From the Depths of Safeco Field. It’s registered on MLB.com so I’m hoping I’ll get it into the top 50 like this blog with quality entries. I really haven’t figured out which direction I want to take my new blog except that it’ll be all about (and only about) the Seattle Mariners. My favorite team in the Majors. I figured if I attend a Mariners game or buy season tickets or go to a Mariners Fan Fest, all those experiences will be well documented on this blog and also Collection of Baseball, if that make sense. Like I said, I’m not real sure what direction this blog will go.

I’ll certainly rant and rave and post my Blog Talk Radio Episodes on here regarding trades, free agency signings, players worth etc etc… so you can count on that! I have the most fun ranting about Mariners player acquisitions during the offseason and during the regular season.

Bud Norris’ Charity; CandleLighters- 10 W and 139 strikeouts have raised $34.75 this season.

Seattle Mariners/Seattle Humane Society Charity; 65 wins have raised $65 this season.

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9/09/13 Safeco Field

This game was so much fun. The last game I went to was July 24th, so it had been a while since I stepped foot into Safeco Field. This would be my fifth game of the season and probably one of the last ones I’ll be attending. I’m certainly making the last game of the season, like always.

I came into the stadium as the gates opened and lollygagged in the Pen’ for a while. I caught up with long time Mariners fans, Carla and Chris and then without any real warning, one of the bullpen cops tossed me a baseball. I guess I’ll go ahead and count it as a Ballhawk stat on Mygameballs.com. I haven’t really been active on any Ballhawking this season mainly because I just wanted to do more of nothing at the game instead of trying to chase baseballs for three hours all the time.

I wandered down into the lower seating bowl and immediately noticed Erik Bedard sitting on the wall. That dude is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met at the stadium. Well, besides Tom Wilhelmsen, Miguel Olivo and Zach Britton. Seriously, though. He was so nice. He signed everything everyone handed him, he talked about his adjustment from starter to bullpen and he talked a little bit about how the minor leagues worked. I didn’t catch everything he talked about but he was so fan-friendly. This was the end result of my interaction with Bedard:

IMG_0493

While watching batting practice, I noticed the fan base for this game was incredibly low. So I checked with a near-by usher and she told me the attendance would be around 8,000. A new Safeco Field record, by the way! I immediately upgraded my CF bleacher tickets to RF tickets in hopes I’d catch a home run ball. But not just any home run ball. I wanted to catch a Raul Ibanez home run ball. Not only is he sitting on 297 career dingers, but he is also two home runs shy of breaking Ted Williams record of being the oldest player to hit more than 29 home runs in a single season. You catch that puppy, you’ll be in the record books! Haha! A sports fan can dream, right?

So there I sat with my friend Chris. We upgraded our seats and sat four rows back from right field. We also weren’t sitting in our seats. We just picked a random, clear aisle to sit in in case anything came our way. Had we been sitting in our seats? We would have been this guy:

Yup, that’s right, folks. That baseball was Abe Almonte’s first career big league home run and it landed right into the lap of the dude who was sitting in our seats. We had moved down to the front row to sit with Amy Franz (The Ichiro Meter Lady) and her family. Maybe if we had stayed in our original seats, we would have been able to make a better play on that ball. Or maybe if we moved to our right seats, we would have caught it. Anyway, there are a lot of “what-ifs” that can be thrown around in these situations. It’s best not to dwell on the whole thing but it would have been fun to catch a players first big league dinger.

Here’s a picture of me attempting to get into position to make the grab:

Almonte

Seriously. I have the toughest time trying to track the baseball and worry about other fans in my way, steps and railings, too. I don’t know how these fans who have caught multiple home run baseballs do it. I’m so worried about tripping over steps and stepping on peoples stuff and running into other fans all while trying to watch the baseball. It’s so different off the field. I suspect it takes a special kind of person to catch home run baseballs. I sure as hell can’t do it. I mean, if it were hit right to me, yeah. I remember one game I was at, (this was during BP) where a baseball was hit in my direction. I saw it coming, turned and took a few steps up the rows, turned back and around and caught the ball. It seemed easy enough but it was also during BP where no one was around me and I knew that. Sitting in the outfield is way different.

ANYWAY. I left the game in the 8th, came home, checked Twitter, saw that the Mariners had lost. I just had to laugh to myself. I really like the Mariners, in fact, and I’ve said this so many times, I’ve been a fan since 1989, but really, this team has got to start winning. I thought for sure it would’ve been a great year with Morse, Morales, Seager, Ackley, Iwakuma…but it turned out to be another flop. Rumor has it that Ackley doesn’t like playing in Seattle, Brendan Ryan was just traded to the Yankees and Morse didn’t last very long in a Mariners uniform. Rumor also has it that Morales will be gone by the start of Spring Training.

Sigh. Fiddlesticks.

Well, on a more positive note; my charity is going well. Here’s the latest breakdown:

Bud Norris’ Charity; CandleLighters- 10 W and 139 strikeouts have raised $34.75 this season.

Seattle Mariners/Seattle Humane Society Charity; 65 wins have raised $65 this season.

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5-25-2012 Safeco Field

Despite all my problems I’ve been having with my camera during the last couple of games I’ve attended at Safeco Field, I’ve been doing pretty good at snagging baseballs and keeping my numbers up. Today, there would be a new wrench thrown into my plans. Dustin Ackley bobble head night. It’s awesome that I’m here because this is Ackley’s very first bobble head night- despite him not even being in the lineup- and because I plan to auction it off for my charity, Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. If all goes well, I should be able to raise at least $50 bucks. I plan to auction some more signed baseballs off like the ones I auctioned off two months ago to continue to raise money for my charity, and that was very successful. I think I was able to raise like, $100 bucks. Even with all that going on, I took on another charity project called The Help Holly campaign. So far I’ve raised $14 bucks for her and today’s game would be the final game (unless I get word from my Dad who is donating money per baseball that I snag that he’d like to continue donating when I visit Angels Stadium early next week) in which I’ll be snagging baseballs to help raise money for Holly. It’s been a tremendous ride so far.

These bobble head nights really only attract the bandwagon fans. The attendance nearly doubles when the teams give these things away. Most people only come out to get the bobble head and then they go home. It’s sorta weird, but hey, everyone has their thing they do at the ballpark, right?

When I got to the stadium roughly three hours early, this was the site at the ticket windows:

I found it a little bit odd that Safeco was nearly a ghost town at 1:56pm on a Ackley bobble head night. As I turned the corner and headed to the center field gates and as another hour passed:

The crowd started to thicken up a little bit. But not by much. The above photo was taken at approximiatly 2:56pm. One hour and forty-four minutes before the gates were to open.

When the gates finally did open, the crowd was much, much bigger. And like always, with large capacity games, my options to start snagging baseballs had drastically changed. Safeco security had barricaded off the ‘Pen immediately to my right so I didn’t waste any time trying to get through there after I snagged my Ackley bobble head. I simply bolted for the right field bleachers. And for the first three minutes, I had the entire place to myself. Everyone was so stuck on getting their bobble head- and me being the first one inside- gave me such a head start on snagging baseballs, it wasn’t even funny.

Ball number one:

Ball number two:

Ball number three:

After plucking that one out of the seat, I tried to hand it off to a young girl that was scampering down the stairs with her father. But she totally ignored me and continued on her way. Later, I was able to hand it to her and her Dad pleasantly thanked me.

Ball number four:

Ball number five:

 

Ball number six:

And here’s what happened to ball number six:

Ball number seven was quickly snagged out of another cupholder and immediately tossed to the nearest kid with a glove which turned out to be my 50th baseball snagged this season. How amazing is that? On 5-22-2012, I was questioning whether I’d hit that small milestone in the second month of baseball and I absolutely did! And then I ran into this guy:

That’s Andrew. What’s totally awesome about this guy is; while I was walking around aisle after aisle snagging a 2012 season high of seven baseballs, he says to me, “Hey, man. I think I read your blog.” And of course, I really didn’t put two and two together initially, so I kind of just gave a friendly hello and left it at that. Then I got to thinking. Hey, this guy is the first person to actually recognize me at the stadium and mention my blog! I stopped what I was doing, got the picture taken and then handed a baseball off to him. How sweet is that, though? It’s nice to be recognized for something I have a lot of passion for; Andrew even explained how much of an animal lover he is. So that made it equally awesome. How did he find my blog? Him and a friend are planning a summer trip to some baseball games and wanted to know the ins and outs of some of the stadiums. My blog surfaced in their quest for information and there you have it!

After finding seven baseballs and giving three away, the real fun was about to start. Have you ever heard of the Long Haul Bombers?

These guys were making an appearance at Safeco Field before the game and it seemed like nobody knew about it until the last-minute. One of my friends in the GirlsCorner asked me if I knew who the Long Haul Bombers were and of course I had no clue. She led me into the upper deck in left field and told me to stand as far back as I could. Well, I didn’t snag anything, but these guys smashed some unbelievably long home runs! It was something to see for sure!

Here’s a pictures I tried to take of one of the softballs banking off the Hit it Here Cafe…

The red circle is where the softball is. Its up near the Hit it Here Cafe. That’s how far those guys were hitting them! As far as left field was concerned, they were able to reach the upper deck, no problem! I came close to snagging a couple, but it was so crowded, the only way to get one was for it to be hit right to you.

I survived yet another large capacity crowd and another chaotic giveaway night. Although, I didn’t stay for the game, I still count this as a game attended and my streak continues to 115 games with at least one baseball. According to MyGameballs.com, I’m currently tied for fourth in longest active streaks among the Ballhawking community with snagging at least one baseball per game that I’ve attended. I’ve come close a couple of times where I didn’t think I’d catch a baseball but it always seems to work out in the end. The most memorable game I attended where I didn’t snag a baseball until like, the ninth inning, was when I visited Oakland last year. Jason Phillips actually hooked me up with my 100th baseball that game, If you’re interested, you can read all about it, here.

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 23,519

Baseballs snagged: seven (found all in RF bleachers)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 50

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised at this game: $14.28

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $96.70

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!

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!

5-21-2012 Safeco Field

Today started out kind of bad. I left my sim card to my camera at home so I had to use my iPhone to take pictures. I’m pretty sure the pictures are going to suck in the blog entry and that’s a shame because Yu Davish and Felix Hernandez were dueling tonight at the Safe.

From the time span of 4:40pm to 5:10pm, I didn’t snag a single baseball. And that was sort of disappointing because I’m doing a lot more this week than just snagging baseballs for my current charity, Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. I’m also snagging baseballs for what I’m calling my “Help Holly Campaign.” Here’s the run down of why I’m doing this and who exactly Holly is: Holly is a dog owned by a family who recently got hit by a car. The driver of that car decided that Holly is “just a dog” and fled the scene. Well, we have laws in this country that make it illegal to just bail from a scene after running over an animal. Sooooo the driver was eventually apprehended by authorities, I’m assuming, but the driver is still refusing to pay any medical costs. The family has a lawyer from what I read but needs help with the financial aspect of everything. This week at Safeco Field, the Mariners are hosting the Rangers and the Angels. I pledged one dollar per every baseball that I snag to help Holly out. My Dad also jumped on board and matched my dollar which means every baseball I catch is worth two bucks. Today was game one of my Help Holly campaign.

Here’s how things started:

At approximately 5:12pm, that’s how many baseballs I had snagged already. It gets better. While I was standing near the left field fair pole, I caught a glimpse of another white little orb sitting against the seat back in an aisle. I would’ve taken a picture, but with all the people filing  into the lower seating bowl, I didn’t want to lose my chance on snagging it. I quickly ran over and put my foot on the ball so I could get my iPhone ready for the photo…

…I told you these photos were going to miserable. Third ball snagged and  then I dug into a nice spot near the left field fair pole. As soon as I did, Ichiro sliced one directly my way. I initially moved to my right thinking I’d have to come out of the short row to drop down one or two but then I realized the ball had no depth at all. It was just a high arching, lazy fly ball that was sinking fast. I held my ground, leaned into it and made the one-handed catch:

OHHH, WHAAAATT!! You know the funny thing about this baseball? As soon as I caught it, I turned around to the cute couple behind me and tried to hand it off. Luckily for me, the girlfriend declined and I left it at that. When I was toying with it in my glove, I noticed a large blue marking which turned out to the be the 50th Dodger anniversary stamp! Whoooaa! I nearly gave away a Dodger ball and probably wouldn’t have realized it! And yes, I’m still going to Dodger Stadium this year if time and money permits. Even though I don’t want to. I’ve heard so many crazy rules and stories about that place, I’m actually kind of nervous to visit.

After snagging my fourth baseball on the day, I figured I’d try to break my season record of five this game. I headed out to centerfield when the Rangers came out for batting practice. I had one thing on my mind and that was to catch a Josh Hamilton BP home run ball. When I got there, this was my view to my left:

I pretty much had the place to myself. Centerfield filled up pretty fast after Hamilton started crushing long balls into the seats, though. Before he left for the cage, he signed a few autographs and I just had to heckle him a little bit.

“Hey, Josh! What the heck are the feeding you in that Ranger clubhouse, man?!” I yelled after him.

He caught another fly ball off the fungo bat and then looked back at me with a smirk. If that’s the only reaction I could get out of Hamilton, I’ll take it!

 

When Hamilton got into the cage, it wasn’t long before he started dropping bombs. Two or three came my way, but it was starting to get a little crowded, I couldn’t make a decent play on any of them. Eventually, he lofted a high fly ball directly at me and my only competition was a young ten-year old to my right. The ball carried just enough where he’d probably had missed it so I ended up making the catch. When I offered the baseball to him, he shrugged at me and told me he had already snagged three others. I smiled and thanked him for his honesty and turned around to find another deserving fan. I asked the next youngster if he had any baseballs and he shook his head at me.

“There you go, kid!” I said as I flipped him the ball. Yup, I had just gave away my Josh Hamilton ball. So what? I was totally fine with it and was going to anyway.

As batting practice came to a close, I sat down in the ‘Pen area and wolfed down a slice of pizza and a Mariner dog from the burger joint and then found my seat out in left field for the game.

With Yu Darvish and Felix on the mound, I figured this would be one of those games where it’s nearly impossible to stay awake but mixed with a few dazzling plays at short stop or a diving catch from the center fielder. None of that really happened. Instead, Darvish was literally blown out by the 4th inning. He had thrown 86 pitches to Felix’s 40-some and it was 5-0 by the start of the 5th inning! Mark Lowe eventually took over for Darvish in the Mariners 5th and Seattle was able to tack on another run in the 7th and hang on for the win after Mitch Moreland smacked a bomb to right, centerfield.

6-1 was your final score! Mariners win!

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 18,672

Baseballs snagged: five (found three, caught one Ichiro foul-ball, caught one Hamilton BP HR)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 41

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised at this game: $10.20

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $80.34

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!

 

 

5-4-2012 Safeco Field

When I showed up at Safeco, things were a little more busy than I had expected. Even the ‘Pen was a little packed for Safeco standards and the Moose man even made an appearance:

And as soon as he showed up, the Coors light girls showed up too:

My first baseball came from Hector Noesi. As he was shagging baseballs out in centerfield, every time he caught one and looked towards the ‘Pen, I’d flap my glove to him. I’m not much for yelling at players from 500 feet away, so I use hand and arm signals. The next baseball that flew towards Noesi went way over his head, bounced off the warning track and back behind the batters eye. I thought all was lost, but Noesi actually went through the opened centerfield gate to retrieve the baseball. Once he did that, I flapped my glove at him again and he lobbed me a soft, high arching throw that never really reached me. The ball took a lucky bounce off the railing and landed back to his (Noesi) feet. Again, I flapped my glove at him and he hit his mark. Check out the pattern on the baseball after it had hit the batters eye:

Once the rest of the stadium opened up at 5:10pm, I was able to glove trick a ball out from behind the manual scoreboard:

The Twins hustled onto the field roughly ten minutes after my last snag so I changed from my Mariners hat to my Twins hat. But I really didn’t need to because I had already snagged a couple baseballs and I wasn’t trying to rely on toss-ups from players unless I really had to. So I wandered around in foul ground waiting on another opportunity. It wasn’t long, (not sure who hit it) but a screaming line drive came down the third base line, bounced off the warning track, flew over about ten rows and right smack into my glove. I got a small standing ovation from the surrounding fans that attempted to catch it, or ducked out-of-the-way, and I was on my way towards the Twins dugout for any photo opportunities and/or autographs. Here’s a picture of the foul BP ball I had snagged moments prior:

That’s Ryanna sticking her “rabbit ears” up behind the baseball. Cute, yes?  I waited around at the dugout until batting practice ended and unfortunately I didn’t get one picture or autograph. But. The fun wasn’t over just yet. As I walked back to the ‘Pen, I noticed a white orb sitting in the visitors bullpen as I came down the staircase. Easy snag! I gave it away to the nearest fan as soon as I reeled it in and since the Mariners were using special opening series Japan baseballs during BP, one of my friends, Krista, was able to snag one of those during BP!

I have yet to snag one of these puppies, and sadly, they may all be gone. The added bonus to this season though, the Orioles, Dodgers, Mets and Marlins are all using special baseballs this year. So I still have plenty of opportunities to snag some commemoratives like the one in the above picture that Krista is holding.

As far as the game goes, I really couldn’t stay the entire length of it. Work calls, and I had to bail to catch the bus back to my home station before the third inning got under way. That’s what it’s going to be like all season long, too. But I’m grateful I get to at least attend batting practice and see the first few innings of the game. On my days off and early game starts, I’ll be able to stay for the games entirety. Such is life, right?

And for your viewing pleasure, below is the current, updated stats on how my charity is doing so far this season. I can’t thank the long list of donors this year, enough. Just know that you are greatly appreciated and remember sports fans; the top donor receives an official Snagging Baseballs for Puppies coffee mug after the 2012 season! (Please allow 3-6 weeks for delivery)

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: Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 22,492

Baseballs snagged: four (Hector Noesi toss-up, glove-tricked two, caught BP foulball)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 28

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised at this game: $8.46

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $53.82

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!

 

4-18-2012 Safeco Field

The Indians weren’t very interactive with the fans during batting practice which made my time at Safeco Field extremely boring tonight. I didn’t bother to ask any Mariner players on the field for a toss-up. Instead, I banked on finding a couple loose baseballs in the seats after the rest of the stadium opened up. When I ran over that way at 5:10pm, I found absolutely nothing. About ten minutes later, a slicing foul ball came down the line, I turned, raced up the stairs near the wall, anticipated the bounce and caught the ball as it traveled into the bleachers:

More boring-ness ensued so I chased over to the Mariners dugout right before the Mariners portion of batting practice ended and got Jaime Navarro to throw me a baseball as he walked off the field:

I really didn’t bother to snag anymore baseballs other than opportunities that came easy. Which the Indians were so unresponsive on the field, I just stood on the party deck and engaged in small talk with Kim, the Bullpen Mom and another friend of mine, Ryanna.

The only other action I saw was an Ubaldo Jimenez autograph and about the first three innings of baseball at the stadium before I had to run out and catch my bus home…

…and this year one of my goals is to catch Ichiro’s 100th career home run. I think he’s sitting on 95. In the first inning of play, Chone Figgins went deep and then Ichiro followed with his 96th home run one batter later. It was getting close to having to buy tickets for the outfield, which will be extremely expensive due to the Mariners (and all the other teams) going to this lame-ass “dynamic” ticket pricing. If you haven’t heard about it, well, you’re one of the lucky ones that your team hasn’t gone to it yet. Basically, its price gouging. And it sucks.

 

 

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: Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 11,343

Baseballs snagged: four (caught BP foul-ball, Jaime Navarro toss-up)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 21

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $39.69

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!

4-17-2012 Safeco Field

I totally didn’t realize it but that last baseball I snagged from Kevin Millwood last Sunday was  my 250th lifetime baseball! I mean, I guess it’s not all that exciting considering there are people out there that have snagged over 1,000 baseballs.

Tonight’s game at Safeco Field was against the Cleveland Indians who I know probably three players on that team. Ubaldo Jimenez, Shin Soo-Choo, Shelley Duncan and Chris Perez. Okay, so four. I knew asking any Cleveland player for a baseball would be out of the question because like I said; I had no knowledge of who was on the active roster. It would be BP home runs, foul balls and glove tricking whatever I could.

When I ran into the stadium, one of the Mariner fans started yelling at Felix Hernandez to toss a baseball his way. Once he did, and the fan bobbled the ball, I was all over it with my glove trick. Since the baseball landed down in the center field gap, I had plenty of time to get it and security really didn’t harass me about it:

You can see Hernandez throwing a baseball into the infield in the above picture. I’ve been wanting a baseball from the King for a while now and since I glove tricked that baseball out of the gap, it doesn’t actually count as a baseball from Felix. Sucks, I know. But that’s how the game goes.

Miguel Olivo, who I got a baseball from last year on April 1st at the Oakland Coliseum, was very generous when it came to requests for baseballs from fans. Here’s Joanna and Carla’s gems they caught from Olivo:

Joanna, the one closest in the picture, actually made an awesome grab for the baseball. Another fan behind her (not pictured) was doing most of the leg work to get Olivo to toss a baseball up. When he (Olivo) finally did, Joanna pretty much robbed the guy with a bare handed grab! Quite impressive!

I waited down in the ‘Pen for another 10-15 minutes and then I wandered off to line up at the stairs that led to the lower seating bowl. When a BP home run landed in the visitors bullpen, I slowly started to get my glove trick ready again, I waited for the stairs to open up at 5:10pm, and while the security guards were busy ushering people around, I ran over to the bullpen and glove tricked my second baseball on the night:

I wandered up to the 3rd base side of the stadium and this was the crowd during BP within the first 15-20 minutes:

Batting practice was actually pretty boring. There weren’t a whole lot of fans, not really any foul balls or very many BP home run balls. I couldn’t recognize any Cleveland players, like I mentioned before, so it made it pretty uneventful. About the only excitement that happened was how I snagged my third and fourth baseball of the evening.

When I walked up to the left field bleachers, I saw a baseball down behind the scoreboard. That’s probably the easiest place to glove trick a baseball out of, too. The security guards actually encourage it, sort of. Well, I haven’t had any problems with them while glove tricking baseballs out from behind the scoreboard. They only get mad (not all of them) when people glove trick balls from the bullpens and the sod farm behind the batters eye. I thought this would be an easy grab and I’d be on my way. As I was stretching the rubber band over my glove, it broke on me! Gah!

Luckily, I had a spare rubber band. But it wasn’t as good as the one I had been previously using. When I’d capture the baseball and start to reel it up, the ball would slip out and drop back down behind the scoreboard. Reel it up, drop back down. Reel it up, drop back down. I didn’t think I’d ever get the baseball, but eventually I did:

What a frustrating 2 minutes, I swear! After that, I headed back over to the ‘Pen just as the Indians were clearing the field. While I was standing there talking to our Bullpen Mom, a baseball landed at my feet! I had no idea where it came from, at first, but I snagged it anyway. Turns out, one of the bullpen cops was trying to throw a young lady a baseball and she bobbled it. Since I’ve received baseballs from bullpen cops before, I decided to count it. Hell, I snagged it, didn’t I? Does it really matter who it came from? I categorize bullpen cops the same way as I categorize grounds keepers, security guards and other employees around the stadiums. And I’ve caught baseballs from many of those types of people before.

I handed the baseball to the girl who bobbled it and snapped a quick photo:

 

Soon after, the Mariner relief pitchers made their way to the bullpen and I was able to get Tom Wilhelmsen’s autograph on my ticket stub:

I watched the majority of the game from the ‘Pen with a quick stop into the Flying Tortoise Cantina for some more nachos.

John Jaso got the Mariners on the board with a 2-run blast in the 3rd inning. In the fourth, Brendan Ryan drew a bases loaded walk and the very next batter, Jaso, was plunked in the leg that scored another run for the Mariners. By that time, it was 5-1 Mariners and in the sixth inning, Indians catcher, Carlos Santana sent a 3-run moon shot into the right field seats which ended up to be a six run 5th inning for the Indians.

By the ninth inning, the Indians pulled a head 9-8 and Chris Perez got the job to slam the door on the M’s. Seattle loaded up the bases in the bottom of the ninth and Perez got John Jaso to pop up to end the game. What a heart breaker.

 

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: Cleveland Indians vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 12,065

Baseballs snagged: four (glove-tricked three, found one)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 19

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $35.91

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!

4-15-2012 Safeco Field

Sunday games are always a challenge to get a baseball; but I’ve been continuously successful. Since there isn’t any batting practice, it’s more of being at the right place at the right time with the right player. A lot can go wrong but a lot can go right. If you’re ever attending Sunday games that batting practice isn’t in full swing, my advice to you, is be a little more aggressive when trying to catch a ball. They can come from anywhere. Usually the home team has infield warm-up drills so there’s a huge chance for an errant throw to end up in the seats.

My first and only baseball came from Kevin Millwood. The Mariners were out warming up down the first base line and when Millwood got done playing catch with his throwing partner, we made eye contact, I flapped my glove at him and he absolutely air mailed me the baseball. I jumped at the last possible moment to make the catch but it was a few feet over my head. I quickly turned, remembered the gravity rule and casually waited for the baseball to come to me rather than frantically searching for it. I could hear foot steps of other fans closing in on me, but I paid it no attention:

When I wandered back over to the Mariners bullpen out in center field, there was a lady trying to get Jason Phillips autograph. She didn’t really know who he was and she kept asking him if he was a pitcher. I told her that Phillips is the Mariners bullpen catcher and he’s a really cool guy. She didn’t have anything to get his autograph on, so I offered her an extra baseball that I had in my back pack. She also wanted to get his autograph with a sharpie marker; which is a huge mistake. I hooked her up with a ball point pen and this was the result:

It’s hard to see Jason Phillips autograph, and it turns out this young lady is part of the special olympics. She’s a huge Mariner fan and was pretty appreciative to get Phillip’s autograph.

As the Mariners filtered off the field, the Athletics started to come out. I wanted to get a few pictures with some players and maybe an autograph or two. When I walked over to the 3rd base area, the Athletics started to warmup. I wandered down to the dugout area and waited. It wouldn’t be long and the team would start to come over my way.

I eventually got Grant Balfour’s autograph and a close-up picture of him…

…and here’s the autograph I got from him…

…pretty sweet, huh? And when one of my most favorite Athletics player came around, I was able to snap up a picture with him:

After that, it was time for some much-needed pizza at the Pizzeria in the ‘Pen. I was dying for a slice since I wasn’t able to get any on the home opener and I forgot about it yesterday.

Once I had some pizza in my belly, I watched Miguel Olivo warm-up, traded jokes between friends about Adam Moore getting hurt all the time and Olivo leading the entire Major Leagues in pass balls…this was what it was all about, though. Friends and baseball! Life couldn’t be sweeter. Well, it could. It was actually Jackie Robinson day at the ballpark and all players wore number 42 to celebrate this special day:

 

Once the game got underway, I settled down in my usual spot when the ‘Pen wasn’t crowded; near the Mariners bullpen.

Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak both went deep for the Mariners and Eric Sogard of the Athletics easily tied it up with a 3-run shot in the 5th inning. Ichiro came back and delivered a two-run double to right and the Mariners put it in cruise control after that. Brandon League came in and slammed the door with his tenth save on the year, and that was the ball game, kids!

Yesterday, I said I’d update my mini-baseball streak stats, so here you go:

30 hours at three different stadiums, watching 48 innings of baseball, eating five nacho plates, one hotdog, one chicken meal, having drank five cokes, ate three pizza slices, traveled 1,280 miles, getting 46 hours of sleep!

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 19,065

Baseballs snagged: two (toss-up from Kevin Millwood)

Total baseballs snagged this season: 15

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $28.35

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!

 

3-28-2012 Tokyo Dome

Oh, man! Where do I begin!? I still can not believe I made a trip out to Tokyo Japan to watch the Mariners and the Athletics play the 2012 season opener! And while I’m typing this blog entry, I’m still in Japan! Okay, so I guess I should start at the beginning so you can read why I came out to Japan in the first place. Well, for obvious reasons I absolutely love baseball. And I will literally travel to the ends of the earth to watch a baseball game. I’ve been a Seattle Mariners fan since 1989 but I really don’t give a crap who plays. I just want to see some baseball and shag some balls in the bleachers. The reason why I want to shag baseballs is because I have a new charity I’ve managed to put together with the help of the Seattle Humane Society called Snagging Baseballs for Puppies. I’m not going to get into full detail of how my charity got started or why I do it because I have so much to blog about.

So there I am at the Sea-tac airport. I took a quick flight to Los Angeles which eventually I’d take a connecting flight to Narita International Airport outside of Tokyo about 80km. Tokyo has an airport (which would have made this trip way less stressful if I landed there) but its way more expensive and pretty hard to get a flight in. So I had to settle for Narita. Which was fine. Here comes the interesting part. While I was sitting in LAX minding my own business and chowing down on some outrageously overpriced cheese sticks, I realized I had left my baseball tickets to the game in Tokyo at home. I sat there for a moment in complete awe of how stupid I could be. I didn’t bother to search my bags because I knew where I had left them. I didn’t want to panic either because that never accomplished anything. I immediately sent a tweet out to the Mariners on Twitter and asked if anyone had an extra ticket lying around that they could leave at will call or something. I knew it would be a long shot and to be honest, I really wasn’t counting on them to come through like that. I jumped on the phone and called the Mariners ticketing office and explained the crisis. After being put on hold several times, the end result was unless I could come up with some kind of conformation number from whoever I bought the tickets through, there was little they could do. Still not in panic mode. I figured I’d buy a ticket from a someone on the street once I got there or I’d just sight see for several days. On the other hand, I really didn’t want to go to Tokyo Japan unless I was more or less guaranteed a ticket to the game. After sitting around and not really knowing what I was going to do, another person from the Mariners staff called me. She explained that there wasn’t much they could do and I nearly cut her off and told her I understand blah blah. But that little nagging voice in my head told me to let her finish.

It was probably a good thing too because we actually made some headway on the ticket crisis issue. I remembered taking a picture of my ticket and posting it on my blog under this blog entry many months ago when the actual ticket arrived in the mail. She requested that I send that picture to her via email and she’d correspond with me through email until the crisis was resolved. So I reluctantly boarded the plane to Japan and waited patiently for 14 hours to get some kind of confirmation from her. When I got to Japan, of course, my cellphone didn’t work and I had no way to check my email. I had made a couple of friends that I sat by on the plane over, and I piggy backed off of his wi-fi from his phone to my phone. I checked my email and to my surprise this is what the email said…

Thanks. Glad you had the photo. I’m just waiting for confirmation from my guy in Tokyo that he can leave you a ticket for Wednesday’s game. When I get that I’ll email you back. Happy travels. Hope the rest of the trip is uneventful, in a good way.

Wow. Just wow. It’s like the Mariners staff are into some kind of wizardry to get things done for their fans. And just on a side note, when I was going to Cardinals games at Busch Stadium, the staff there treated their fans like absolute crap. It is the complete opposite at Safeco Field. Yeah, sure. I get into the occasional run-in with security, but that’s because I’m having fun. And security doesn’t want anyone having fun.

I immediately email her back and told her how much I appreciate her help and how much I appreciate her handling this situation and then I get this email…

The ticket will be at will call (under Gate 22, near Vicky’s restaurant). Hope that makes sense when you get to the Tokyo Dome have fun.

Holy. Crap. It went from “there isn’t a whole lot we can do…” to THIS! I was literally jumping around my hotel room when I saw this email! Like, how do they do these kinds of things?! I’m thinking the Mariners staff are some kind of mafia. Like, all they had to do was pick up the phone, call some dude in Tokyo Japan and be like, “Hey. I got some guy that bought a ticket and left it at home. I don’t think I need to explain further.” and they’re all, “Oh, of course! Already taken care of!”

Oh, and by the way. Here are some things I learned very quickly about Japan. Well, at least in the area I’m staying in. It’s a town or a city or a province or a neighborhood or whatever they call it, called Ueno. It’s a 10 minute walk to the Tokyo Dome and a short 2-4 kilometers from every other major tourist attraction like the Tsukiji Market, the Sony Building, and the Ginza Brand Street. All worth seeing. Taxi drivers are almost useless. Very few actually can read a map and many have very limited english vocabulary. On top of that, they’re very expensive. Use as a last resort. Also, don’t rely on other Americans to help you out. They’re about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. At least the ones that I encountered. Some guy walked up to me while I had my face stuck in a map and asked me where I was trying to go. I told him the name of my hotel and this was after I had spent ten minutes trying to explain where I needed to go to about 14 different cab drivers. You could imagine how irritated I was at this point. He insisted that Japanese people can understand english. They just can’t speak english. Or they’d rather speak Japanese instead because they’re too embarrassed that their english sucks. Or something like that. Anyway. They guy was a complete jerk, he kept interrupting me when I was trying to explain that his logic was flawed…finally I just stared at him until he told me “good luck” and walked away.

When I got to my hotel room it was about 1am Tokyo time so it was immediately lights out for me. When I woke up the next day it would be about 13 hours before opening day and about nine hours before I’d be at the Tokyo Dome. I spent the good part of the morning dinking around in my hotel room, trying to figure things out like the air conditioner heater thingy in the corner of the room. I got it to turn on but it kept turning off and then back on. It was weird but whatever. Tv was extra yen and breakfast wasn’t free either. So I decided to grab an egg mcmuffin at McDonalds around the corner because there was literally nothing open until about 11am. Yeah, how American of me. Eating at McDonalds in a country that serves squid and octopus and clams and anything else you can think up. And I eat an egg Mcmuffin.  After my breakfast, I ventured out in search of the Tokyo Dome. Side note; the Tokyo Dome will be my 14th stadium at which I snag a Major League baseball, providing I get inside in-time for BP and all that other junk. Here are some random pictures I took of Ueno and Tokyo as I walked towards the Dome:

Here is another random picture of some shrine I passed by…

…and then a random vending machine full of drinks:

These vending machines are everywhere, by the way. As I continued walking towards Tokyo I could start to see the amusement park rides peeking over the tops of some skyscrapers. The Tokyo Dome area is actually called, Tokyo Dome City and it really is a city inside of a city. I was supposed to meet up with Zack Hample at the dome closer to the late afternoon so I had plenty of time to explore the surrounding area. Here’s a picture of the Tokyo Dome City peeking out:

And here is the Tokyo Dome in full view:

This thing is gigantic, to say the least. They call it the “Big Egg” and for good reason. From the air it resembles a giant egg. Naturally, I couldn’t get a picture of it from the sky so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Remember how I said that the Tokyo Dome is like a little city? Well, here is further proof:

This is the shopping district. They have a Starbucks, a bunch of Japanese shops, great places to eat and this:

Yup! Even an Eddie Bauer! I didn’t bother to go inside because, well, I wasn’t too interested in it. What I was interested in was eating some food! I stopped at this place to try what they had on their menu:

I didn’t get anything really off the wall like a plate of squid or live octopus tentacles. I ordered a very delicious plate of chicken and penne pasta in tomato sauce with parmesan cheese. And it was awesome! Here, take a look…

…doesn’t that look fantastic? I’m telling you. It was so good I wanted to order another. It cost about 1,000 yen which is about, what, ten bucks in USD? It was so worth it, though. Also, another side note. Yen goes fast in Japan. Especially Tokyo. It’s very expensive to buy things in this city so it’s best to try to be frugal if you’re going to stay for a long period of time.

I did a little bit more window shopping and then I finally met up with Zack Hample. Zack is known for snagging over 5,000 baseballs over a span of like, twenty years. I expected him to have a good couple of days at the Tokyo Dome because from what I saw in pictures from the Mariners, the Tokyo Dome is virtually pretty much open to run around in. Other than the high walls in the outfield, it seems like a great stadium to ballhawk in. I could be wrong though. I haven’t ever been inside the stadium but my opportunity was right around the corner.

Zack and I did a little catching up inside a restaurant while he got something to eat and then soon after if was back to exploring and taking pictures. Here are a couple random pictures around the  Tokyo Dome:

Here’s one more of a statue of the coach for the Tokyo Giants outside a sports memorabilia store that sold everything regarding Japanese players and Yu Darvish:

Like Ichiro, Yu Darvish is huge in Japan too. For obvious reasons. Alright, so back to the ticket crisis for a moment. When Zack and I parted ways to go get into our respective lines to enter the stadium, I was without a ticket, right? And in that email it said to go to will call which was located under gate 22. I wasn’t quite sure where “under gate 22″ was located and with a huge disadvantage with the language barrier, it made things extra tough. I talked to multiple guards and asked them if they spoke english before I engaged in conversation to explain my dilemma. My major response? “Let me see your ticket!” I tried very hard to explain that the Tokyo Dome was in possession of my ticket. But to no avail…until a Japanese/American that spoke fluent english overheard my problem. He became my translator and my new best friend. After about five minutes of going back and forth with the security guard, I was instructed to go see a ticket booth located in the court-yard. When I went over there I had to explain my problem all over again to the ticket booth window girl who didn’t speak english either. Somehow she understood what I was telling and she literally walked me to the area underneath gate 22. It was all making sense now. And to make things even better, she brought me to a guard that spoke english as well. So I explained the whole situation and he explained that they’d have a ticket ready for me….at 6pm. GAH! The Gates opened at 4pm to the Tokyo Dome and I pleaded to the guard that I needed to get in sooner than 6pm. I needed to get inside at 4pm! I could not miss batting practice! The guard kind of just shrugged at me and told me to come back at 6pm. If I did come back at 6pm, would I have to explain the whole situation again to someone else that didn’t speak english? I mean, what was going to happen? Chances are I’d have to go see another ticket booth and explain the whole fiasco again and again, losing valuable time inside. I decided to wait it out.

I walked back to gate 11 where Zack was sitting and explained to him what had happened. Zack was a little more prepared that I was, apparently. He busted out an extra ticket and told me he wanted the ticket stub back in pristine condition. I happily obliged and thanked him. The reason why Zack had two tickets was because like a few stadiums in the United States like Dodger Stadium and Wrigley, you need a ticket to get into the lower seating bowl and the outfield. The Tokyo Dome may have worked the same way. We wouldn’t know anything until we got inside. My plan was this, though; I’d go inside with Zack’s ticket, pass it off to him once inside, attending batting practice, leave at 6pm, go seek out my will call ticket, re-enter, and watch the game. It seemed solid. But I was concerned about thing. What if I couldn’t get back inside? What if when I explained my situation to someone who didn’t speak english, I’d be forever locked outside? I wanted to see at least one baseball game in the Tokyo Dome. And why leave when I’m already inside? My mentality was I’d just cross that bridge when I had to. Not force myself to cross it prematurely. So I stayed inside. I also want to state that my deepest gratitude goes out to the Mariners staff that worked hard to get my ticket to will call. I will never forget this trip.

When the gates opened up, I had a ticket to gate 22. Zack’s ticket was to gate 11. And since we were at gate 11, I wasn’t sure if I’d even gain access to the stadium from this gate. They might make me walk all the way around to gate 22. Here’s two photos of the line. This is in front of us…

…and this is behind us…

…and when the gates opened, we had to have our bags checked and we had to have our persons searched with a metal detector. They required all keys, wallets, cellphones and lighters to be placed either in your personal bag or a clear plastic bag so they could view the contents. It was truly the security from hell. And when I showed the guard my ticket, he started explaining to me that I couldn’t enter here and blah blah and I continued to say things like “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” and “I won’t do it again, I’ll go in and walk around.” and that seemed to have done the trick! He let me inside and Zack and I were off towards left field!

I wasn’t sure how security would react to two crazy America boys running amuck in the Tokyo Dome snagging baseballs, but I didn’t care! Here we were inside the Tokyo Dome snagging baseballs in Tokyo Japan! And my first baseball game from Johnny Gomes!

unfortunately, it wasn’t one of those fancy commemorative Japan baseballs I’ve been hoping to get and it wasn’t the first baseball of the 2012 season either. Zack had snagged a baseball moments prior to my Johnny Gomes toss-up. So props to Zack for snagging the first baseball of the 2012 Major League Baseball season! And props to me for snagging the second! Zack and I decided to stay out of each others way during BP, and I knew he’d put up strong numbers. My whole goal was to snag at least two baseballs a game and attend 50 games this season. I thought about trying to snag three a game which would give me a total of 150 on the season but I wanted to keep it simple this season. Last year, I snagged a total of 135 baseballs and the year before that I snagged a total of 87. So to snag 150 baseballs this season would be awesome, indeed. And it sure would help my charity. But it’s all good. I want to have fun and not really stress about numbers this year, anyway.

The thing about the Tokyo Dome is this; it’s really easy to catch baseballs here. I mean, really easy. And the security guards that roam the bleachers like this guy…

…has a whistle and every time a baseball comes within his vicinity of the bleachers, he starts blowing on that thing like no tomorrow. And then all his other security guard buddies start doing the same. So even if you don’t see the baseball initially off the bat of the player that hit it, you can bet one is coming your way when the security guard of your section starts blowing his whistle. The downside to all of this is, if you physically catch one of these baseballs that’s hit into the stands, that security guard that was blowing on his whistle will come down and take the baseball away from you and throw it back onto the field. But any player that throws a baseball to you, you get to keep. Make sense? And Zack had to find all of this out the hard way when he caught a baseball and the guard snatched it right from his grip! Zack put up quite a fight about it, too. And I just stood by laughing.

I got a chance to ask Jerry Blevins how spring training went for him and he kind of shook his hand in response at me. “It was alright, I guess. I feel pretty good.” he finally said. Jerry Blevins is one of my favorites just because he’s so nice to fans and so goofy on the field some times.

There were a few things I wanted to accomplish at the Tokyo Dome while I was there. The first thing was to get a toss-up from a player that I’ve never received a toss-up from before. Be it come from the Athletics or the Mariners, I didn’t really care. Another thing I wanted to accomplish was reach my two ball minimum snagging goal. Which at this point I was just one more ball away from accomplishing that. The third thing on my list was to get Felix Hernandez to toss me a baseball. But since he was starting tonight, that wasn’t going to happen. I also wanted to get Shawn Kelley to toss me a baseball as well. I had plenty of opportunity to snag some home run baseballs, but the reason why I really didn’t pursue them that hard was because I didn’t want it to turn out to be a commemorative baseball and then one of those pesky guards takes it away from me. I’d be pissed! So I left the majority of the home run baseballs alone. I figured Major League teams don’t come to Japan very often, and some of these other local fans would probably like to make a few catches. Have at it, I say!

When the Mariners finally came onto the field as the Athletics were finishing up their portion of batting practice, I made my way over to the foul line to watch:

I was pretty excited to see the Mariners for the first time this season. I’m not going to lie. Tom was there, Charlie, Brandon, Coach Navarro (even though he hates me) and Shawn were all lining up to play long toss and warm up. It was a sight to see!

I tried to get one of the Mariners attention to toss me a baseball, but I was out of range. I was too deep in the stands and the Tokyo Dome really isn’t like the US stadiums. The stairs don’t allow for maximum height to see over the row in front of you and there is pesky netting that covers most of foul ground to keep fans that aren’t paying any attention to batted baseballs, safe. I immediately took off and ran the concourse to set up in right center field. I saw Shawn Kelley and a few other players wander out that way, so I followed suit.

Here’s a quick picture I took of Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmson:

I kept track of the time because I had about an hour to catch my second baseball. I wanted to get it done and finally sit down too. My feet were killing me from walking around Tokyo all day. When I finally found my spot out in right center, I called to Shawn and George every time they caught a baseball. At one point, I climbed down to about the third row, made eye contact with Shawn, flapped my glove at him, called his name, and asked politely for the baseball. I was shocked when he didn’t toss it my way. I mean, a white guy in a foreign land asking for a baseball from another white guy? I thought it was the perfect secret weapon. Apparently not. But I was cool with it because I had all season to get a baseball from Shawn Kelley. And eventually it would happen. Maybe not in Tokyo and maybe not even in Seattle.

Over the PA system in the Dome they announced that Mariners batting practice was going to end in about five minutes. I was still without my second baseball at this point. I noticed Zack had scored a baseball from Jesus Montero fairly easily. It was time to switch gears and go after the rookie. I climbed through the rows and found my opportunity. Montero had thrown about five or six baseballs into the crowd at this point, so I thought my chances were pretty slim. I called to Montero like nobodies business! “JEEESSSUUUUSSSS!!!” I yelled. He looked through the crowd and I was jumping up and down in the row waving my arms like a wild man! He gave me one of those quirky little smirks and then reared back his arm to launch the baseball. I wasn’t sure if he was going to air mail me or throw it right to me, so I took a step back in anticipation for a high throw. The ball sailed my way…

…and the ball landed snuggly into my baseball glove! Awesome! I just caught a toss-up from the newly acquired rookie of the Seattle Mariners! I guess that makes things a little bit better about the trade for Pineda to the Yankees.

And that pretty much concluded batting practice. I snagged my two baseballs, and I think Zack snagged like twelve or something like that. It was a pretty successful day here at the Tokyo Dome and now it was time to venture off and find food!

When I hit the concourse, it was so packed it was hard to move around. And Japanese people really don’t have one of those space bubble thingies that Americans have. They’ll get right up on you and have no problem with it. I really didn’t like it much but since I was probably the biggest and most tallest person inside the Tokyo Dome at the time, I really didn’t let it bother me. Plus, Japanese people are very honest people. I always worry about being pick pocketed in large crowds but I heard that crime in Japan is virtually non-existent. Well, whatever. I was hungry. Here are some photos of the food concession stands inside the Dome:

And here’s a picture of Zack trying to get some food:

We ended up ordering a chicken thingy on a stick. I think it was the only safe thing to really eat there. And of course, a cup of water. It came to about 500 yen which is pretty expensive. There were no water fountains inside the Dome so we had to buy water from the concession stands. That sorta sucked. After we ate, Zack and I started to wander the stadium. We found a stair case that we literally talked our way up since it was being blocked by a security guard. And when we got to the top, we continued to go up even though it looked like we weren’t supposed to be up there. And this was the end result:

It was a door that led out to the third deck of the stadium! Haha! Eventually, a security guard came running up to us and told us in hand gestures to come down and find a seat. We didn’t get scolded or yelled at or even ejected from the stadium. I was kind of relieved at the fact that nothing happened. The guard didn’t even ask for our tickets. And since I didn’t technically have one on my person, I could have been in some trouble, I suppose. But it was all in good fun. Here are a few pictures of the Tokyo Dome from that door before the security guard shut us down:

And another:

Pretty awesome, huh..? Yeah, I thought so too.

After that little adventure, the pre-game ceremony was about to start. I took a few pictures of the field as both the Japanese flag and the American flag were brought out onto the field by both respective countries color guard. It was pretty awesome, really.

And finally when the baseball game got under way, Zack and I sort of just wandered the stadium. We sat in various seats and the only time security really hassled us was when we stood for long periods of time. The security inside the Dome is very observant and quick reacting when someone is blocking someone elses view. Which I totally understand having to watch baseball games in America where no one really cares if they’re blocking each others view. It was kind of nice. Here are some more various photos from around the stadium:

And one more:

Felix Hernandez threw a pretty good game and so did Brandon McCarthy. Every time Ichiro came up to bat the flash bulbs would start flashing and everyone would go nuts. And since Ichiro went 5-4 on opening night, that was pretty special for Japan. Ichiro seemed to be back in true form which would make this season pretty awesome if he was able to gain over 200 hits again. Dustin Ackley put one in the seats in the fourth inning but the Athletics answered right back with a run of their own. The game eventually went to extra innings with the Mariners winning 3-1 with the help of another Dustin Ackley RBI and Ichiro bashing a single up the middle to score Ackley from second base. The game was exciting and after the game, no one wanted to leave. I guess it being opening day and all…but I wanted to get the hell out of there and get some sleep! I took one last photo and see if maybe you can recognize who they are. Ready?

And then, of course, this blog wouldn’t be complete without a few pictures me, right?

Here is a picture of me holding up my Gomes and Montero snags:

That pretty much concludes day one in Japan! Well, actually I’ve been in country for about a day and a half. At this point, maybe two days. It’s been really fun with times of frustration. But that’s only because of the language barrier and is definitely expected. Everything I want to see and do is pretty much within walking distance and the food is pretty awesome to try. Tomorrow I plan to wake up early and make it to the fish market. I’m pretty excited about that! So until then…

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

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

Today’s game snagging Highlights: Oakland Athletics Vs. Seattle Mariners- attendance 44,227 Baseballs snagged: two (toss-up from Johnny Gomes and Jesus Montero )

Total baseballs snagged this season: 2

Total baseballs snagged last season: 135

Total dollars raised for Snagging Baseballs for Puppies this season: $1.48

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

Total number of donors this season: 4

Total number of donors last season: 7

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

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