This was my first game by myself. I figured it would be weird not having anyone to talk with all afternoon/evening, so I told Michelle I’d call her throughout the night… to keep me company via cell phone. Let us begin:
I left my place in Irvine at 4:00. I parked my car at my super-secret-never-have-to-pay-spot just outside the ballpark and headed in. This is what I saw when I made it to the gate:
I was about 3 or 4 people from the front of the line and I had a while to wait. Luckily, I had brought a book but I kept my eyes and ears open for a certain person. After a few minutes, the guy I’d been waiting for, Rex Hudler, showed up. He always enters through the front gate and I had brought my MLB 07 The Show hat for him to sign. I left my backpack and book and asked him, “Mr. Hudler, could you sign my hat for me, please?”
“Well, sure!” he replied jovially.
I said, “You see, it’s from the video game that you’re on.”
He replied, “Aww… that’s cool! You know, we’re workin’ on the new one comin’ up here real soon!” Then I thanked him and he headed into the stadium. Here’s the hat he signed:
At 5:05 the Home Plate Gate opened and I (on the advice of Zack Hample) did NOT go straight to the left field foul pole and instead headed for the right field pavillion. A few players were shagging balls out there and I spotted Dustin Moseley and asked him for a ball–I was extremely polite. He told me, “If you don’t get one, I’ll make sure to throw one to you.” OK… a good start. A few minutes later a homer hit some chairs a section to my right and bounced back to the field. Dustin grabbed it and flipped it right to me! YES! Six consecutive games with at least one ball.
In center field, an Angel wearing number 71 was fielding alongside Dino Ebel (the Angels’ 3rd base coach). I asked him to throw one (from about forty feet away) and he did! Right on the money. Robb Quinlan was batting and hit a blast to the seats that hit some seats to my left. I ran over and caught it on a bounce. I had three baseballs and it was 5:13pm. Let me take a moment here to inform you that I had NEVER snagged more than two baseballs at any game… ever. I’d gotten two at an Angels/Red Sox game in 2004, at my first-ever game at Camden Yards in 2007, and twice this season (8/5/08 at Angel Stadium and 9/9/08 at PETCO Park). I had a new, single game record.
Well, the Angels finished BP and the Mariners started up. Let me tell you, Ichiro can hit the ball pretty well, at least in batting practice. Though he was wearing a coverup over his jersey, I recognized the facial hair of J.J. Putz and asked him for the next ball he got ahold of. A little while later he got one from another Mariner reliever near him and tossed it up to me. FOUR!
Later, a Mariners player wearing the number 89 threw a ball to me and then some righty smashed a ball over the fence and right into my glove. I wish I could have seen who it was… I’m thinking it was Adrián Beltre… no way to be sure. It was just after 6:00 at this point so I headed down to the right field line in the hope that Jarrod Washburn or Putz (who were nearby) would sign an autograph. They told some fans they would, but they didn’t. Bummer. I followed them toward the dugout and sat down for a minute.
As I wrote some notes about my adventure, Yuniesky Betancourt started playing catch in front of the dugout. There was hardly anyone around at this point so when he was through I simply said, “Yuniesky!” and stood up with my glove open. He saw me, he threw it. SEVEN!
I had more than tripled my record. After a Patriot Day salute, the game was underway. The players were wearing those nifty hats they had on the 4th of July… you know the ones. Ichiro stepped in to lead off the game. Then I realized just how many no-name call-ups from the minors were around. The Angels had clinched, so they were resting some regulars and the Mariners… well, can you say last place? Eliminated? So they had a few less-than-stellar players going for them. I settled in behind the visiting dugout. Here’s the view from where I sat:
The game was fun! The Angels were ahead 7-0 at one point before the bullpen gave up a few runs. Most of the fans had left early (while I tried, unsuccessfully, to play the dugouts to get a 3rd out ball) thinking it would be a blowout. Well, with men on and the score 7-3 in the ninth K-Rod came in. He had 56 saves. Boy, I’m gonna miss him when he’s not an Angel anymore… but he will make a LOT of cash somewhere. He let a run score, but notched save #57 on the year, tying the current record (set by Bobby Thigpen in 1990). Let this be a reminder, fans, don’t leave a game early! You might miss something great! He got interviewed for FSN West by Michael Eaves. I’m hoping he’ll break it this weekend.
Here’s another panorama for your enjoyment:
Also, I stayed after the game a bit to see if any players would sign autographs as they exited. They didn’t, but I experienced this little exchange as Frankie Rodriguez was leaving the park in his very, very nice car.
A dozen of us (Angel Fans): There’s Frankie! Hey, Frankie! Congrats!
F.R.: Thang you, guys. Gracias.
Us: You were great! Are you gonna break the record?
F.R.: Hey, c’mon. You know iz gonna happen.
- 6 games with at least one baseball
- 7 baseballs at this game
- 15 baseballs in 6 games this season = 2.5 baseballs per game
- 23 lifetime baseballs