At last it had arrived… my first MLB game of the 2009 season. I had been psyched for this game for weeks! It had been six months since I’d stepped inside Angel Stadium to watch my team play. Michelle came with me to this one and we, of course, got there nice and early for batting practice. I was all set to kick off a new season of snagging. Rosters? Check. Hat of each team? Check. Camera? Check. Enthusiasm for my hobby and new season? Check. Here we are (with a decent sized crowd around us) just before the stadium opened:
The Home Plate Gate opened a few minutes after 5:00pm for the 7:05pm start. As the line filed in I grabbed my free Angels Hall of Fame fleece blanket and ran off to the Right Field Pavilion. Michelle would catch up to me a while later. The Angels were hitting and I knew that both teams were sending righties to the mound that day so the lefty batters would all be hacking during BP. A left-handed Angel stepped into the cage after I’d been hanging out for five minutes. I wasn’t sure if it was Gary Matthews Jr. or Bobby Abreu but I’m pretty sure it was one of them. The batter knocked one to deep right-center field and I bolted a section to my right. I was in the fourth row and the ball started falling… it looked like it would just clear the fence. Sure enough, a guy in the first row reached up and I thought he had the catch. But the ball tipped off his glove and up into my row. It hit a seat and I grabbed it with my bare hand before it stopped rolling. My 2009 snagging season had officially begun! I was glad to get that one ball out of the way. I’d set a goal of thirty baseballs for the year and I was on my way to reaching my mini milestone.
That was it for me for the Angels portion of BP. While the A’s took the field I switched to my green and yellow cap and talked to Michelle (who’d found me and volunteered to guard my backpack while I ran around) about my first snag of the day. At about 5:45pm the first group of A’s hitters began taking their cuts and I saw a lefty with a stance I knew well. Jason Giambi, formerly of the Yankees, stepped in and I knew he wasn’t trying to push a single to left. I said to myself, “C’mon, pull it this way.” And after a couple of smashes to the gap he got under one and launched it. I was five rows back from the fence and I only needed to step a bit to the left and wait. The ball sailed over the outstretched gloves ahead of me and I felt the firm WHACK as it hit my glove. Sweet! It was a glorious afternoon and I had two baseballs to my name for ’09!
After the Giambi catch BP died down a bit. Not many of the A’s could reach the seats in right field so Michelle followed me down near the foul pole in right. I really was just waiting for the line of ushers to disperse once BP ended so I could head to the dugout. Michelle opted to look around at some of the new merch in the stores and said we’d meet up around national anthem time. I plopped down in the fourth row and waited for some pregame catch. After about ten minutes Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez started throwing along the right field line. Chavez stopped them after a while and started walking toward the dugout. I knew he had the ball so I just stood up, gestured, pointed to my A’s hat and then he smiled. He took a crow hop (like he was launching it from the outfield) and swung his arm forward. Now, he was only about thirty feet from me at this point but I was ready for anything. He didn’t release the ball. Then he chuckled (like he’d faked me out?) and tossed it right to me. I knew he was just messing around and I said, “Thanks, Eric, thank you very much.” Then I headed off to meet Michelle and we meandered to our seats in the 400s.
Normally I don’t like to actually sit in my assigned seat if I can help it but this game was an exception. Though I was a bit high up, Michelle and I were in perfect foul ball territory! Take a look:
Our seats were just a few rows down from where I snapped this photo.
As the game went on (and it was a good one)…
…three baseballs landed in my section and I failed to catch any of them. One (off the bat of A’s catcher, Kurt Suzuki) came whizzing by, ten feet over my head and I stood up, followed it as it flew–right into the leg of a girl who’d not been paying attention to the game! It made that sound–you know it– and she started wailing. An usher got her some ice and by the next inning she was fine.
As fans left and the Angels were down 6-3 we headed down to the Field Level:
In the ninth inning we got a run on an RBI single by Bobby Abreu and brought the tying run to the plate with one out, but Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter struck out in
consecutive at-bats to end the game and hand my Halos their first loss
of the season: 6-4.