Results tagged ‘ Seattle ’
I’m actually super-excited about this baseball season. I guess what I’m most excited about is the fact that I’m going to make it to four new stadiums in the Major Leagues that I have not yet attended during the regular season.
First stop is Oakland California. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (formally Network Associates Coliseum and McAfee Coliseum and commonly The Oakland Coliseum or The Coliseum) as you all know is the home of the Oakland Athletics. There is a lot of great history at this specific baseball/football stadium. ( The Oakland Raiders play here too ) Catfish Hunter threw the ninth Major League perfect game here. And this was the home of the Bash Brothers! Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. Canseco made history for being the first player in the Major Leagues to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season. The A’s won a few World Series here too, including the “Battle of the Bays” World Series against the Giants which was intrupted by an earthquake. And on May 9th 2010, nearly 42 years later, Dallas Braden would throw the 19th perfect game in League history. I will be attending Opening Day and the following game. Right now I have a lifetime of 97 baseballs. So Ill probably end up snagging my 100th at the Coliseum. Im still debating if I should get it signed by Oakland Athletic players. My first baseball I ever got was at Kauffman Stadium where I had a few Royals sign it. So. We will see.
Safeco Field. Or the “Safe”. I’ve already been to this stadium a few times and I really like going here. Although the security is extremely tight and the security guards in the field box seating are quite the nazis but its still a great atmosphere for baseball. I’ve snagged about seven baseballs here over the years and since Safeco Field will be my “home” stadium for the season, and possibly the next few, I plan to snag a lot of baseballs from this particular place.
When the dog days of summer roll around I will be making my way towards the midwest. The last two seasons of baseball I spent the majority of my time between Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City and Busch Stadium in St Louis. I also visted U.S Cellular in Chicago and I attended a handful of games at Great American BallPark in Cincinnati. I really enjoy watching baseball at GABP. But this year I will be headed to…
Wrigley Field! Now. I havent actually attended a live game here. BUT. I did go to a “Meet and Greet” in 2009. The Cubs lined up in the lower third base side bleachers and all the fans single filed down the concourse, shook hands, collected autographs, and met their favorite players. It was quite the experience. The Cubs do it every year. So if you think you missed out you didnt. Although it does cost about $300 dollars to do this but you get a hotdog, a Major League baseball, and tickets to the game. Being that this is the second oldest baseball stadium in the Major Leagues to this day I have to pay this place a visit. I had opportunities to go last year and the year before but I just didnt go. I know, I know. But I’ve made plans to go this year.
More towards the end of the season I am planning a trip to Florida.
Tropicana Field is one of the stadiums Im visiting while Im there. This place really reminds me of the Kingdome. Its really ugly on the inside and not anymore appealing on the outside. But for some reason I like it. But what really confuses me is why is there a domed stadium in Florida? If anything they should have gave this eyesore a retractable roof. Anyway. Im excited to be apart of some Rays baseball this year. Of course my last stop in Florida before I head back to the Emerald City…
Sun Life Stadium. Or Pro Player Stadium. Or Dolphin Stadium. Or whatever else they’ll decide to name it before I get there. Now the reason why Im going here this year is because the Florida Marlins are actually getting a new stadium next year. Thats right folks. Sun Life Stadium is on the “endangered” list. Well, not officially. They arent actually going to tear this stadium down because the Miami Dolphins play here. But after this season there will be no more baseball. The name of the new stadium where the Marlins are going to play will be called Miami Ballpark. ( I’m so glad they didn’t name it something like Netflix Stadium or Kosher Field ) So next year I will be returning to Florida to watch baseball there and hopefully snag a commemorative baseball.
This year I plan to attend at least 100 baseball games. So going by my stats of ball snagging I should end up with close to 250 baseballs this year. I havent much else to report other than there is about 10 days left before Opening Day! I hope everyone had a great off season, and wonderful Spring Training and an even better Regular Season/Post Season!
Until next time…
www.pirates.com/tweetoffer Enter in COUPON CODE “MLBwayneMLB” for discounted tickets to Pittsburgh Pirates home games!!
A new season of professional baseball is here again. The 2011 baseball season will kick off for most as early as April 1st. For me, well, I will be in Oakland California enjoying Opening Day at the Oakland Coliseum.
When I go to a baseball game to ball hawk I like to hope for the best possible odds. Fighting large crowds of people is always something a Ballhawk has to endure no matter what baseball stadium he/she goes to. We all consider the weather, and most importantly, something that doesn’t always get taken into consideration, is the give-away, and the promotional nights that most Major League teams have at the stadiums. Lets face it. Awesome give-away nights fill seats. Its just the name of the game. But what give-away fills the most seats? What give-away is most desired? What give-away is the most sought-after? When I was a kid it was photo-baseballs, and bat nights that filled the house. Now its that beloved bobble-head figurine!
Bobble-heads are collectors items. All ages come to the stadiums on bobble-head nights to add to their ever growing collection of unique and rare bobble-heads. I for one am not a collector of those cute little bobble-heads. I have one, and I gave it to my mother. It was the Bret Saberhagen Cy Young Bobble-head that the Royals gave away last season. My mother doesn’t even know what a Cy Young award is let alone who Bret Saberhagen is. But it doesn’t take away from the cute factor of Bret’s little head bobbling around as you walk by him as he’s perched by her jewelry box.
So in this column for MyGameBalls.com I thought Id put together some Bobble-head history facts, and then list the current bobble-heads that will be given away to fans this year. Depending on who you are knowing this information could either save you a headache of going to the game fighting large crowds to be first in line or create more excitement while shagging baseballs during BP. Either way. Knowing is half the battle.
Some of the first bobble-heads ever created for the Major Leagues were in the 1960s. These bobble-head dolls were made out of papier-mâché. Each baseball team received these dolls, and they all looked the same minus the uniforms. It wasn’t until the 1960 World Series where player specific dolls were created, and sold during the World Series. Those players were Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roger Maris, and Roberto Clemente. Unfortunately, since the dolls were constructed out of papier-mâché most have not survived.
From the 60’s to the 90’s the bobble-head went through many dramatic changes. The dolls were constructed out of ceramic after the failed papier-mâché didn’t work out. Unfortunately, the ceramic nodders were expensive to produce, and fans weren’t taking much of an interest. It wasn’t until 1999 when the San Francisco Giants handed out 35,000 Bobble-heads of Willie Mays that really captivated the audience. The new bobble-heads primarily made out of plastic were cheap to construct, and the fans loved them.
After the year 2000 bobble-heads became such a craze that you could even contact a company to have them customize a bobble-head for you. Bobble-heads became so advanced that they even had matching scars, tattoos, hair color, eye color, and lifelike facial features.
So here is the 2011 list of bobble-heads that you can get for free during the season. With paid admission of course.
Buck Showalter June 25th
Brian Matusz August 6th
Racing Gracie ( Mark Grace ) April 28th
Kirk Gibson August 6th
Chris Young August 27th
Fan Voted Bobble-head September 24th
Frank Thomas April 12th
Frank Thomas April 29th
Roger Bossard June 12th
Beer Vendor Bobble-head August 4th
Mark Buerhle August 20th
Starlin Castro April 5th
Tyler Colvin April 19th
Geovany Soto July 14th
Mike Hargrove August 13th
Joey Votto April 30th
Dusty Baker July 12th
Jonny Gomes July 23rd
Kansas City Royals
Willie Wilson June 4th
The Angels of Anaheim
Kendrys Morales May 24th
Dan Haren June 28th
Angels Gnome August 18th
Michael Bourn April 10th
Hunter Pence April 30th
Chris Johnson May 14th
Bill Brown/Jim Deshaies broadcasters June 11th
Bret Myers July 13th
Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw May 17th
Don Mattingly June 1st
Hong Chih Kuo June 14th
Andre Ethier July 17th
FernandoMania July 26th
John Axford April 24th
Casey McGehee May 22nd
Zack Grienke June 12th
Craig Counsell August 14th
Randy Wolf September 25th
Rickey Henderson April 30th
McHammer 80’s theme July 17th
Ray Fosse August 16th
New York Mets
Mr Met April 18th
Felix Hernandez April 9th
Ichiro Suzuki May 6th
Neil Walker May 21st
Nelson Cruz June 20th
San Diego Padres
Bud Black May 7th
Toronto Blue Jays
Jose Bautista April 3rd
Roberto Alomar July 31st
San Francisco Giants
Cody Ross June 4th
Aubrey Huff June 25th
Buster Posey July 10th
Tim Lincecum August 27th
Saint Louis Cardinals
Stan Musial April 24th
Matt Holliday August 28th
The most expensive bobble-head today is The Beatles Bobble-head, and its priced at $32,000 dollars.
Basically all the big name players have reached agreements on contracts, trades, and have been through the boring old rigmarole of decided their futures. One player does stand out in my mind though. Zack Greinke. Zack won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award, and concluded the season with a 16-8 W-L record, a 2.16 ERA, and 242 strikeouts last season. He also picked up league MVP, and was awarded a spot on the All-star team. In 2010 his numbers declined rapidly. So after a poor performance Dayton Moore decided it was best for Zack Greinke to find a new home in Milwaukee.
Fortunatly for Dayton Moores reputation for being a failed leader in the Kansas City Royals organization this whole thing revolving around Greinke had really nothing to do with Moore. Dayton simply pulled the trigger on the trade. Greinke wanted to leave Kansas City. Even though he was drafted by them in 2002 in the first round, from the start Grienke wanted out of Kansas City. People will argue that because he pitched his guts out last season but aside from that Greinke made a statement last week stating ” when we are 20 games out of first place its kind of hard to get excited about coming to the park.” Wow. Strong.
In 33 games that Zack has started I have sat through three of them live at Kauffman Stadium. I have witnessed Zack throw the game away at least twice out of those three games that I have sat through. It was quite common for Zack to be out of the game by the third inning in most of his starts, and leave the Royals hanging, and have the bullpen finish the work. With a 10-14 record at the finish, and a 4.17 ERA its kind of hard not to see that Zack was frusterated. Most of the Royals are. On the flip side Greinke has stated that he is excited to join the Brewers for the 2011 season.
Kerry Wood has signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. Im sure fans are delighted to see him back. Wood is expected to be the late inning setup man for Carlos Marmol. Kerry Wood is excited to be back, and has made many statements that he never wanted to leave ( Chicago ) in the first place. He has never been about money, and that was proven when he turned down four teams willing to shell out more dough for Wood than Chicago did. It was reported that Wood signed for $1.5 Million.
Adrian Beltre is about the only free agent left in the world of baseball. Since the Texas Rangers lost out on the deal for Cliff Lee they have some money to throw around, and by asking Michael Young to DH for them Adrian Beltre wouldnt be a bad addition. Smashing 28 homeruns, driving in 102 RBIs, and batting a solid .321 average in the 2010 season Beltre is one sought after player. Rumors speculate that the Angels are also in the market for Beltre. Only time will tell.
Sitting quietly in the AL West are the Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners. None of which are making many headlines as far as trades during this offseason. Now that Cliff Lee is no longer apart of the Rangers baseball team you could probably count the A’s or the Mariners to be somewhat of a contender next season. The A’s have some strong pitching that the other teams in the division should be worried about. Trevor Cahill posted some nice numbers last season. He went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. Brett Anderson is another stronger pitcher the A’s have. Aside from pitching? Thats all I got for you!
Well, its Monday. Sometime today Cliff Lee is supposed to make his historical contract decision. Not really historical because C.C Sabathia was offered $161 million to come to the Yankees, and Cliff Lee wasnt offered quite that much. Whoever he signs with, whether it be with the Yankees or the Ranger,s Mr. Lee is going to be a very rich man and his wife should be pleased.
What else is going on in the Majors? Utility man Brendan Ryan found a new home today. Seattle will be his next stop. He will start opening day at second base for the Mariners, and that will move Chone Figgins to third base where he says he is more comfortable. The Mariners also picked up Designated Hitter Jack Cust from the Athletics over the weekend which will add some power to the Mariners lineup. Also seasoned veteran Miguel Olivo came over to Seattle from the Colorado Rockies to serve as the Mariners backstop. From what Ive seen on the Mariners Facebook comments page a lot of the Mariners fans are quite upset over all of these deals, and last season they were once praising John A. “Jack” Zduriencik are now holding little faith that he is making the right moves. The Mariners were slotted to win the AL West Division after much speculation that their lineup was solid for the 2010 season, and ended up being dead last at the finish. Fans are skeptical, and as they should be.
Minnesota shipped its shortstop, J.J. Hardy, and utility infielder Brendan Harris to the Baltimore Orioles for two hard-throwing but unproven relievers, Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey.
In other Cardinal news, besides La Russa shipping Brendan Ryan off to Seattle claiming his offensive deficiencies and unpredictable decision-making wore on his nerves, Yadier Molina might be seeing his older brother at Busch more frequently. The Cardinals have sparked interest in signing Bengie Molina as a backup to Yadier Molina who is good for about 135 games out of the season. Bengie has stated he doesnt mind serving as a backup, and Im sure Yadier would rather have him looking over his shoulder than some of the current umpires that have served behind him this last season.
As soon as I ran into the stadium I quickly searched the vacant rows of seating for any easter eggs like I always do. After coming up empty a small glimmer of white caught my eye. You cant see it in the picture because I hastly retrieved ball number one of the day but I will gladly point out in the picture where I found the baseball. The baseball was neatly tucked away against the black railing horizontally along the green wall with “336” on it. I just happened to look up there while I was putting my bag down, and I saw it. So I raced over to pick it up. I knew today was going to be a great day.
I played back in the rows for foul balls. I counted at least four that could have been mine if I got a good bounce. But as we all know when you want a good bounce you wont ever get one. Youll only get a good bounce when you least expect it. As the Mariners pitching staff got loose on the field David Aardsma quickly got to work throwing baseballs to kids. He ignored just about every adult to include Mariners fans ( like me ) that were calling to him. I guess he is just one of those players that thinks the kids should get everything. Ryan Rowland-Smith started to approach the wall to talk with some of his friends, and low and behold there was a baseball directly in his path. I lined up with him, and when he got close enough I very nicely asked for the baseball. He smiled, and tossed me my second of the day. What a gentleman.
Here is Ryan chatting with some of his buddies. So as I stood there to listen in on the conversation between Ryan, and his friends I noticed that john Wetteland had a small gathering of children that were respectfully listening to what he had to say. I could barely hear him so I started to move closer. He was explaining the doppler effect. As he finished explaining some kid raised his hand, and John awarded him with a baseball for whatever he had said. Then John said ” I have two baseballs left.” He stood in silence for about 30 seconds so I wandered over there to get a better listen.
John started to ask his question, and I soon realized that he was talking about everything he talked about on Monday! But this time he was handing out baseballs for the right answers! My third baseball was mine. No doubt about it! Johns question was this;
” What rare element was left on earth after the asteroid hit that wiped out all the dinosaurs?”
My hand shot up in an instant! John stared at me for a moment, and then called on me. Did he remember me from Monday? If he did, and I got the answer right would he still toss me a baseball? John was a fair man. He would do the right thing.
” Iridium.” I answered. FOR THE WIN!!
Ball number three was mine! Batting practice was FAR from over. I was on a roll! I thanked John, and resumed my precious spot in the rows of seats in foul territory.
Unfortunatly, I could only snag three during BP. So I headed over to the dugout ( Visitor side ) and waited on the Mariners to come out to warmup.
The National Athem came, and went. The security guards were ushering people that didnt belong out of their sections. Ill have to say this though. Busch Stadium is quite relaxed when it comes to allowing people to wander the stadium. Great American Ballpark wont allow you down behind the dugouts unless you have an actual ticket for that section. Which is really lame. Anyway. Oh, and U.S Cellular has the same stupid rules.
So the Mariners came out to warm up. I locked on to Josh Wilson. Him, and Jose Lopez threw around the ball for about 30 seconds, and then I started to move around in the row. I walked into his line of sight again, and waved my arms to him. He sent a rocket right to my glove. I think the baseball players have fun throwing to fans that arent right up in the front rows. If they arent having fun with it I sure am. I love to catch long distance throws. Was that my fourth baseball on the night? Yes, it sure was! I had all game long to break out, and get my fifth. So I carefully, and patiently waited for the right moment. I knew I had a for sure deal with the umpires. Well, not for sure…but I pretty good chance.
Since this was like my 30th game this season at Busch Stadium I have officially befriended two security guards in the sections that I roam. So it was no porblem to get hooked up with awesome seats for this game. My tactic? I whined a little bit about the ticket I purchased off of Stubhub.com. The first security guard I approached I simply asked if this was an aisle seat. He wasnt quite sure because the seat was actually against the railing. Which technically it WAS an aisle seat. But it wasnt an aisle seat I was happy with. So I told him what I was all about, and I also told him I knew one of the security guards in the section. So they ended up sticking me in wheel chair seating. Which let me tell you. Those seats are the best in the house. Theyre right up on the concourse, and it allows a person such as myself to gain extra advantage on anyone going after a baseball, and it allows me to get a great jump on a ball.
Yeah. Right behind everyone! No one to worry about if I had to jump for a baseball.
Sorry about the picture quality. I was just snapping pictures. Anyway, to my left is the steel railing. One step back, and I can dash down the concourse. Oh I prayed for a foul ball! I prayed for one of those t-shirt thingies to get launched my way! I prayed for rain drops! Something so I could run that concourse to catch something! But alas…nothing came my way. So I went to plan B. Plan B was simply this; run down to the end of the aisle on the third out, and snag a third out baseball from the Mariners coming off the field. Well, it was the seventh inning. I had to act fast.
The third out ball was a pop fly to the short stop. I made my move. I dashed down to the end of the aisle, and I came up empty. I was nearly crushed. But I kept my head up. I moved from where I had been sitting to a new seat. I sat as close to the dugout as possible.
So there I sat. As close as I could. I waited out the top of the eighth. Finally the bottom of the eighth came. The Cardinals grounded out to second base to end the inning so Ryan Langerhans ended up with the baseball. See the kid on the right of the picture? He was my only competition. Ryan Langerhans hooked me up immediatly.
AND THAT CONCLUDED MY FIVE BASEBALL NIGHT BECAUSE I WAS SO EXCITED I FORGOT TO GET NUMBER SIX FROM THE UMPIRE!
Game: Seattle Mariners Vs St Louis Cardinals 6-16-2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: Five
My beloved Seattle Mariners finally made it into town for a three game series against the Saint Louis Cardinals for some interleague action. Ken Griffey Jr was offcially retired weeks ago so he wasnt the big draw. The Mariners have never played in the new Busch Stadium so it was a real treat to have them here.
I scurried into the stadium once the gates opened, and quickly ran down to the third base side. ( Yes I kept a watchful eye out for my favorite security guard ) The stadium didnt really fill up to capacity until late in the third inning so batting practice competition was rather light. To my suprise there were quite a bit of Seattle fans. Everyone kept commenting on me being from “Marysville” when I walked by Seattle fans. I knew where Marysville was but I had no affiliation to that city. I really didnt figure it out until someone walked up to me, and asked me if I was from Marysville, and then they caught themselves, and commented on my shirt. I forgot I had a MARYVILLE Fire and Rescue shirt on. MARYVILLE ILLINOIS. I laughed a little, and explained I was raised in a town nearby Marysville, Washington.
After standing around for five or ten minutes a foul ball came directly my way but out of reach. It bounced off the railing, and right into the flower garden by the foul pole. I went over to investigate but it was too far down to get it. Not even the famous glove trick was going to pull it out of there. It was wedged underneath part of the foul pole screen, and behind a plant. It took a security guard to get it, and he graciously gave it to a fan that wasnt an eight year old. I was surprised.
Before I knew it David Aardsma was tossing the same fan that got the last one out of the flower garden another ball! She caught it, and quickly handed it over to me! She was wearing a Mariners shirt, and she told me since she already got the last one she wanted to give this one to me because I too were a Mariners fan. I thought that was awesome.
Ryan Rowland-Smith came over to sign some autographs, and I commented on him giving his jersey to Todd Cook. Ryan was very chatty, and very nice to speak with.
After Ryan signed a bunch, and jogged to the dugout the real fun began. John Wetteland. We all know how talkative this man can be. If youve ever read some of Zack Hamples blogs or actually experienced this on your own at a baseball game youll know exactly what Im talking about. If you havent…Ill post the link to a short video I recorded of him talking to the fans. I recorded five minutes worth of video, but he talked to us for nearly 45 minutes. Its amazing how much information that man has to spread. Hes very intelligent, and its worth listening to him. The only reason I stuck around to listen to him was because I already had a baseball, and the Mariners didnt take BP. Thats probably why John talked to us as long as he did.
Here is John Wetteland, and David Aardsma helping Brandon League ( not in the picture ) with his pitching mechanics.
Here is another picture of Wetteland talking with Ryan Rowland-Smith.
John Wetteland approached the wall because a fan kept calling out to him about how great he was in the 1996 World Series.
John Wetteland going on about geography. Someone brought up the subject, and John jumped all over it.
More indepth lecture by Wetteland….
Fans would ask John for an autograph, and he would ask the hardest most off the wall questions to them. If they got it right, he would sign the ball, and give it back. ( He signed, and gave it back regardless ) He made it tough to get an autograph, and most people didnt have the patience, and simply walked off. I stuck it out because I thought it was an excellent one on one with one of baseballs greatest pitchers.
John explaining part of his question after signing a baseball. After signing a ball he normally held onto the baseball for an additional five or ten minutes. His questions were long, and drawn out. A lot of people had no idea what he was talking about. But if you really thought about it all its actually pretty easy stuff that a lot of people learned in highschool but never really paid any attention to it.
And now the link to the video of John Wetteland.
( How do you embed the actual video into the blog? Anyone have any idea? )
So after being entertained by John Wetteland for nearly an hour it was time to get back to work. I sought out my second ball over by the third base dugout. Josh Wilson, and Jose Lopez were playing a quick game of catch, and I capitalized on that opportunity. I was about 15 rows up from the dugout, and as I watched Josh look for someone to throw the ball to I frantically waved my gloved hand, and walked into his line of sight. The baseball arched skyward, and I was worried that someone was going to nab it before I could. But nobody had any idea a baseball was even being thrown my way. I didnt call to him or anything. I caught the ball over some older ladies in the row in front of me, and they all kind of jumped, and looked back at me with a smile.
“Glad you caught that because we werent going to.” One of them said to me.
” No problem, ladies. Enjoy the game.” I said, and walked up the stairs.
I stayed down in the section, and caught an aisle seat when the game kicked off. It was the first game of the series so I wasnt sure of the Mariners tendancies when it came to the third out baseballs. If the first basemen got it where does he normall walk, in front of the mound, behind the mound, where does he enter the dugout, the middle, the far right, the left…it was all a mystery. When the time came I would be ready though.
The third out came with a long fly ball to the left field. Milton Bradley would end up with it. Its always a gamble with the outfielders. Some of them like Marcus Thames would always throw the third out ball into the left field seats. Every player is different. Milton Bradley likes to give the ball to kids or someone down the third base line. So I pulled up some real estate right by the Mariners dugout, and waited for Bradley to make his way passed me. As he did he totally ignored me. I took a step back, lowered my glove in defeat, and about headed back to my seat when he pretended to throw the ball to a bunch of kids behind the dugout decked out in Cardinals gear, and then he looked to me as he took the first few steps into the dugout, and flipped the ball behind his back right to me. I caught the ball by surprise, and thanked him. I didnt try for anymore third out baseballs after that. I generally dont because the competition turns into about a hundred eight year olds fighting for a good spot by the dugout everytime the inning ends. Even though most of the time the players dont have a baseball kids still race down there to get one.
I thought this was going to be my night for another five baseball game. But sadly I couldnt even get a fourth one during the game. Colby Rasmus hit a deep drive in the third into the left field seats as I was heading over there. Ludwick hit one into the Cardinals bullpen. Even Ichiro got some good wood on the ball leading off the first! But I was not in any position to nab any of those. Towards the end of the game I made my way down to where the umpires leave the field.
As soon as the game ended I got down to my usual spot, and the umpire was quick to leave the field. He turned around and literally unloaded his pouch of baseballs into these kids baseball gloves that were standing there. I couldnt believe it. He didnt save any for anyone else. I was thoroughly bummed. The experience with John Wetteland made it all worth it though.
Game: Seattle Mariners VS St Louis Cardinals June 14th 2010 6:15pm.
Game Balls: Three
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
So I spent my first game of the season at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Ive always loved going to this stadium and I will probably to continue to love it as long as the Royals continue to play baseball like a bunch of college students. The ticket prices are fairly reasonable ( Unlike Wrigley Field or Busch Stadium ) and the fan base is calm, and few. On average the stadium fills to about 10,000 to 18,000 depending on weather, the day of the week, and of course the time of the game. I think the Royals just had Zack Greinke BobbleHead night so that may have been their biggest fan turn-out since the season started. ( Above you will find Johnny Damon, and teammates standing on the third base line getting ready for the Nations Anthem to be sang )
I was of course the first person inside the stadium to start my ballhawking experience. Last year I didnt focus too much on collecting MLB baseballs. I focused on autographs. Which I will say I was very successful. I came away with 65 autographs last year. I also left 2009 season with 13 game balls. Not bad for someone that wasnt focusing on that. This year is a brand new year with brand new intentions.
I entered the stadium on the first base side and immediatly chased down to the field where Joakim Soria and Kyle Farnsworth were warming up. I am kicking myself for not asking Farnsworth for the ball after he was done with it. But like I said. This is a brand new year, and I’m pretty new to all of this. As the season progresses I will build more confidence where I will learn that calling out to players for balls wont hurt me or kill me. The worst thing that can happen is I will get ignored. So after the warm up tosses were completed by the Royals batting practice ensued. The Royals were actually launching quite a bit of balls into the seats out in right field. I was pretty comfortable waiting for a foul ball my way. After standing there for 30 minutes, and realizing the Tigers were about to come out on to the field, I made my way to their side.
Sitting on the third base foul line was my potential first gem of the season. I didnt have to wait but ten minutes before Joel Zumaya came over to scoop it up, and toss it in. I asked for it respectively and he tossed it my way. BING! Respect goes along way when asking players for balls. Use your P’s, and Q’s. The Tigers were launching quite a few baseballs into the left field corner, and the players were giving the fans a lot of attention as well. So I figured I may have a chance to get number two. When I got over there Fu-Te Ni, Ryan Perry, Rick Porcello, and Zach Miner were all tossing baseballs to kids. I was lucky enough to recognize Ryan Perry with his designer sunglasses on. I asked him for a ball twice. No dice. On the third attempt, he tossed the ball up but a few feet to my left. I got a finger on itbut I ended up actually blocked it from another fan. It landed back onto the field where the ball was then sent back into the infield.
I headed back to my seats after BP was completed and I waited for the Tigers starting pitcher to come out where he would warm up on the infield. As he did Carlos Guillen came over to signed some autographs. I opted out of having him sign anything I had available. But after the warm up was complete, Carlos Guillen ended up with the ball so I stood up calling to him. He threw it to me but another fan was standing in front of me trying to intercept my ball. I leaned forward to snagged it. Bing! Knowing players names, and identifying them pays off…sometimes. Unfortunalty, no foul balls were hit my way during the game.
Game; April 8th 2010 Kansas City Royals Vs. Detroit Tigers.
Game Balls; Two