My fourth game of the year. I was accompanied by my fun and supportive fiancee, Michelle, and two friends would be meeting us at the game during BP. Brendan (a Giants fan) and Sophie (an Angels fan) planned to arrive a bit after 4:00 that day, and Sophie had mentioned she wanted to get a baseball as a souvenir, so we held their tickets so Michelle could hand them off as soon as they arrived. As the two of us approached the stadium we saw the ever-changing but constantly present memorial for Nick Adenhart outside of the Home Plate Gate. Fans add to it every day, it seems, and I am certain that it will remain in front of the stadium for the entire season. The Angels also pay tribute to Nick daily with their wearing of black patches on their uniforms. Here’s a photo of the memorial:
We headed through the gates at 4:05pm and I quickly took off toward right field. I had a feeling it would be a great BP session because the wind was blowing out to center field and both starters were righties so I figured the switch hitters on either team would be pulling the ball while batting from the left side of the plate. I was right. As I ran in an Angels batter hit a ball toward the right field foul pole. I watched it roll toward the wall and bounce off a bit. As I said hello to John Witt, a batter hit a ball to the seats and he took off after it and I decided to try and snag the pearl resting on the warning track dirt. I leaned out and over as far as I could and it was just out of reach. As I reared back for another attempt I saw red jersey in front of me… it was Jeff Mathis and he walked to the ball so I asked if he could give me a hand. He said, “Here you go. Since you tried so hard.” I thanked him and then headed up to the pavilion. My first ball of the day, which had a black PRACTICE stamp on it, was tucked snugly in my backpack after I labeled it with a 38 as I entered the pavilion. Here’s a panorama of what it’s like out there:
The Angels portion of BP wasn’t nearly as exciting as I’d hoped. I think three baseballs were hit up there and a couple more might have gottten tossed… but nothing came to me. Michelle arrived (she walks to BP–I sprint) and sat halfway up in the seats. After the Angels finished we headed down to the right field foul pole for the Mariners. I knew that a couple of hard-hitting lefties would be swinging, including Ichiro. You may remember that last season I caught two off the bat of Ichiro during a BP session after watching how he hit for a couple of days. It didn’t take long. He hit two to center, two to right center, then they started coming toward me. Eventually he got under one and sent it over all the fans right along the wall. I was about ten rows back and it bounced just to my left and I grabbed it on a bounce. A while later an M’s lefty (might’ve been Griffey) hit one high and deep. It hit off the tip of a glove in front of me a ricocheted over my right shoulder. I turned and it bounced back to me. Three!
There was a lull at that point as three of the four lefties on the M’s were done hitting. Ichiro jogged out to right and started fielding. He tossed a few into the crowd. There was a boy next to me along the wall at this point who had gotten really close to catching a ball… it was thrown to him and at the last second a big, burly dude stole it from a foot in front of his glove. He was bummed. When Ichiro threw one toward us it went just to my left, got dropped back onto the field, picked up by a security guard, then tossed again into the crowd. I got it, turned to the kid and handed it to him. “Here you go, dude.” He was thrilled… I was thrilled. He thanked me… turns out Brendan and Sophie had just arrived, too. I mention this mini-story because it was the first time in my baseball snagging career that I had given away a ball to a kid. His name was Austin. He deserved it: he’d been trying really hard and he had a mitt (not a glove!) and it felt good to send him home with a souvenir. Here’s a pic of Austin and I (taken by Brendan):
That ball was the 41st I’d ever snagged… but it wasn’t the last. After about ten minutes a ball rolled down near where I was standing and bounced of the wall and right toward me. I leaned out and over and reached it with my glove. A guy had fallen over the wall earlier in the afternoon so the security guard near me ran over to make sure I wasn’t going to do the same. I didn’t fall but I thanked him anyway… his name’s A.J. and he’s my favorite security guard at Angel Stadium. Let it be known.
I’d been talkin’ to Brendan for a while (and letting him wear my Angels hat–I think it burned his skin) and Sophie was sitting with Michelle about ten rows back from the wall. I knew Sophie wanted a ball so I waved her down. She joined us at the wall and I focused my energy on a trainer for the Mariners. I didn’t know his name… I just waited… and after a while he fielded a ball, ignored a bunch of screaming kids (and adults–that’s not the way you get a ball), eyed my Mariners hat… I said, “Could you spare that ball for the lady?” He could. He did. He tossed it to me and I handed it to her. Then I scolded her for not bringing a glove… she thanked me and we hung out by the wall for a bit longer. That was my sixth ball of the day and BP started winding down.
I told Michelle that I’d meet them at the seats and I rushed over to the visiting club’s dugout. While I was there I ran across teenage balhawk-in-the-making, Warren (aka yankeehater626) and we chatted for a bit before parting ways. I saw him behind the M’s dugout in the 6th inning or so getting a ball from a Mariners coach. No one threw a ball t
o me before the game, not even the ballboy that emptied two containers of baseballs into a bag right in front of me (how rude!) but I saw Mike Sweeney chatting with some people. As it turns out, Sweeney is from Orange, CA and he was actually talking to his family, including his grandparents. He has a reputation for being a great guy and based on the brief interaction I had with him I would have to agree. He signed a baseball for a kid near me (on which he also included what looked to be a Bible verse). “OK, I’ve gotta head in, guys,” he said to the small crowd that had formed. Then he said goodbye to his family and then looked at me and said, “Oh, yeah, I can sign that for ya,” referring to my ticket stub I’d been holding out to him. He signed an Angels/Mariners stub from last season: I’ll upload it soon.
Then I headed upstairs and met everyone. Michelle and I were hungry so we had some pulled pork sandwiches and sweet potato fries from Beach Pit BBQ. We stayed in section 428 for the whole game except when headed up to the top row of the stadium to take this:
A foul ball came fairly close to us but other than that–no action–but I was happy just hanging out. It ended up being a great game!
Recent Triple A callup, Andrew Ortega, pitched well enough… he kept the Angels in the game, giving up five runs in five innings but the bullpen (guess what?) gave up some more runs and it was 9-3 at the 7th inning stretch. ::sigh::
But the Angels made it interesting, scoring one in the 7th, two in the 8th, then Torii Hunter (who, along with Bobby Abreu, has had a great April) smashed a two-run dinger. 9-8 in the ninth with one out. But a Halos win was not in the card… a loooong flyout then a strikeout. Another loss.