I arrived at about 4:30pm and parked for free using a secret told to me by Mr. Sammy Wu. As I approached the Home Plate Gate I saw this:
I was the second person in my line. Pretty mellow. Here’s what it looked like at 5:00pm, right before they let us in:
Man, even on days that I expect small crowds there are SO many people at this stadium. The paid attendance was over 43,000! Most of them, however, were not there for batting practice AND most of them did not run in and set up shop in the pavilion… like me.
OK, so baseball #1 came to me from the friendly arm of Angels reliever Justin Speier. As a group of Angels pitchers jogged along the warning track there was a ball 18 ft. below my spot in right field. I yelled, “Hey, Justin, could you toss that ball up, please?” And he responded, “Aw, man… I would love to.” Funny. And there it was, my first of the day, complete with a black PRACTICE stamp on the sweet spot. Bleh.
After getting dissed by Rich Thompson and Daniel Davidson (Who? Yes… our pitching staff is currently rather thin.) I waited for the Tigers pitchers to warm up. I got Fernando Rodney’s attention after asking him for a ball and pointing to my Detroit hat. He finished long tossing and threw one up to me. Now, despite Zack Hample‘s dislike for them, I was very excited to see that I’d just snagged my first ever International League baseball. Here’s a photo:
The font and logo are different, they feel different, they’re made in China… but it was something NEW! Cool. When I have thousands of baseballs in my collection I’ll probably look back on this and think, “Boy, I was really excited about a lame international whatever ball.” But for now–it’s way awesome.
Feeling that I had exhausted my resources in right field I headed toward center, to the corner spot of the pavilion. A few Tigers players were taking Fungos in center including Matt Treanor and Curtis Granderson. An odd combination? Yes. Anyway, Curtis ran down a fly ball that I didn’t think he could reach. I mean, he sprinted forty feet, leapt at the wall below me and caught it in the tip of his glove. I said, “Nice wheels!” And he looked up, grinned, and did like, a corny 1990s I’m-using-my-hand-like-it-is-a-gun-to-show-you-I-approve thing. My friendliness paid off. The next time he was nearby I asked if he could toss up a ball… and he did! Another International League ball and my third souvenir of the day.
At that point Michelle, who’d be meeting me at the game, called to say she was stuck in traffic, so I took a timeout from snagging to make sure she could get to the stadium. When I headed back my corner spot was occupied so I hung back a few rows as Mr. Granderson stepped into the cage. That guy not only can run… he can HIT! The night before he smacked a pair of homers and he was killin’ the ball in the cage, too. Before long he belted one to right center and it went right over the glove of the guy in Tigers gear who’d taken the corner and bounced around in the row I was in a few feet from me… ball #4 on the day! In the photo below you can kind of see the green marking that the seats left on the ball when it smacked into them in the pavilion.
That would be it for BP but I had seats on the Field Level for the game so I didn’t care if I got any other baseballs. Michelle arrived in the second inning and we headed up to the Beach Pit BBQ stand in center field for some pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches. We ate out in the center field seats. Here’s our view during dinnertime:
We stayed here through most of the game and watched the action (including Ryan Raburn misplaying two fly balls). No foul balls came near us and none of the outfielders tossed warmup balls into the crowd at all! The Angels were ahead for most of the game but, yet again, the bullpen gave up a bunch of runs and…
See that guy on the left in the photo above? He stumbled (drunkenly) down the aisle and started talking to the dudes in front of Michelle and I about how he was a Marine and how his buddy had bet him a car (a Porsche nonetheless) that he wouldn’t run out on the field and high five the right fielder. He spent twenty minutes trying to psych himself up, asking for advice, trying to figure out “what that sign” actually meant.
Then, randomly, a dude in a gray hoodie two sections to our left leaps onto the field and starts sprinting. Three security guards and a cop chase him. So this genius in front of me stumbles over the wall as if he thought, “Well, if he can do it, I may as well do it, too.” He wobbles, jogs to Gary Matthews Jr. in right and I can see him explaining and gesturing that he’s gonna get a car if he high fives this man. Gary shakes his head and crosses his arms so this drunk dude kind of taps his hand and starts to then run away, Then he notices a cop ten feet from him and puts his head down and calmly walks off… to get arrested. I remembering hoping he actually would get a car out of it.
In the meantime, the first dude in the gray hoodie is STILL running full speed away from the guards. He gets grabbed by the sleeve, wriggles out of his hoodie, and makes a beeline back for the stands where he came from. He makes it over the wall but is met by two guards in the aisle. So, he’s going to jail for the night, too. They never put that stuff on TV… it was really amusing. Downright hilarious, as a matter of fact. Two guys runnin’ on the field at the same time, totally not associated with one another. Ha!
So, the bullpen gave up some runs and a bunch of fans left and Michelle and I moved to right behind the Tigers dugout.
It was 12-8… in the ninth the Angels made it close, 12-10. That’s where the score stayed, though, and the Angels lost again while I was in attendance. Bummer. It was an exciting game though, 22 runs scored, home runs, double plays, I love all that stuff. I grabbed a few ticket stubs on my way out… and, oh!
I almost forgot to mention I got Gerald Laird to autograph a ticket stub before the game. I couldn’t find my black Sharpie so I handed him the silver one from my bag. It’s not the best autograph ever but…
Actually, it’s kind of lame… no offense, Gerald, I shoulda had my black Sharpie ready… bah!
I’ll be at the game Saturday to watch Ichiro, Griffey, and the M’s with Michelle and some friends from out of town. It should be a good matchup!