Results tagged ‘ Seattle ’
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