This was my first trip down to SD to see a game since September 9th, 2008. I remember meeting a dude named Leigh while I was down there and we’d been in touch since then. Leigh got Michelle and I a pretty good hookup on tickets so we made the trek down. We parked, got some tasty food at a local restaurant and then headed to the park at about 4:10pm.
I called Leigh once we were outside the stadium and he showed up a few minutes later with the tickets. The Park at the Park opened at 4:30pm and I’d already snagged a ball by that time! How? Well, that’s a secret… but it came from Chase Headley, who had tossed me a ball earlier in the season at Dodger Stadium.
In all of the time we spent out on the beach (and the batter’s eye) I think there were about four balls to be snagged… none for me. I got a few fun pictures and got to talk to Leigh for a while. There he is in the dark red shirt to the left.
He’s got some pretty cool baseball stories! Thanks, Leigh, for sharin’ your ballpark experiences! We’re on the beach–which got crowded. I’ve got the GONZALEZ 23 jersey on (no, not the little boy) and Leigh is blocked by the woman looking up to the left…
Photo credit: Michelle
At 5:25pm we walked over toward right field–then at 5:30pm the floodgates opened and all the early fans rushed inside. I’d seen about three or four baseballs get hit up to the second deck during beach time so that’s where I headed. I got up there, was the first one in the area, and somehow all the baseballs were gone.
One word: USHERS
Bah! Luckily, I had my Marlins hat on and after a few minutes my second ball of the day was tossed up to me on the 2nd deck by relief pitcher Renyel Pinto. Not long after THAT I got me third ball tossed up by reliever Burke Badenhop. It should be noted that when I first ran into the section and saw Burke field a ball I shouted to him, he looked, then I jumped up and down a waved my glove… and he made fun of me. All is now forgiven, Burke.
Meanwhile, Michelle was down on the first level in our seats (sort of right underneath where I was) reading a book–her new favorite hobby while I run around during BP. And my camera was with her… hence the lack of photos from the upper level.
I saw TC, a fairly famous ballhawk, up on the second deck with me. One or two got hit up there but I didn’t see who got ’em. Hanley Ramirez, by the way, hit a ball up to the ROOF of the Western Metal Supply Co. building! That was pretty cool to see.
Chris Coghlan fielded a ball in right field and I asked him for it. He fired it up but it was too short and slammed off the facing just below my section. The next one he fielded he threw up and this one was too high! I jumped as high as I could and reached up but the ball tipped off my glove, hit a metal railing behind me as I turned around, then it bounced (literally) off my head and a guy in a Marlins jersey grabbed it in the air a second before I could.
Rather than offer it to me (I would have told him to keep it), he yelled, “YEAH!” and high-fived me. It goes without saying that I was less enthusiastic about about the high-five than he was. Coghlan didn’t toss anything up for the rest of BP. I blame him–bad arm. But I guess I get charged with the error. Oh, well.
Just when I was thinking that nothing else would come up to me, Ricky Nolasco threw me my fourth baseball on the day! I headed down to the field level, checked in with Michelle, then made the oddly lengthy journey over to the third base line.
Once I arrived there I saw Luis Ayala talking with another pitcher:
I yelled to him as he fielded a ball, “Dame la bola, por favor.” He chatted with the other pitcher for a moment, looked over, I waved my glove and said, “Luis, aqui, por favor,” and he (is the one further from the camera) threw a perfect strike to me, much to the dismay of an angry mother who told her son as I walked away, “Well, that’s not fair you can’t get a ball just cuz you can’t ask for it in Mexican or whatever.” Whoa. Calm down, lady.
BP was wrapping up so I headed down to the Marlin dugout hoping to get one more toss but it wasn’t meant to be. So, I headed back toward the outfield and–wait–
Josh Johnson, Marlins All-Star pitcher, was signing autographs so I ran over and got his signature on my ticket stub for the day:
What an ordinary signature… still cool!
Then it was back to the seats. We were a row behind Leigh… here’s the view:
That’s Padres starter, Chad Gaudin, playing long toss with the bullpen catcher, by the way. Man, ballplayers throw the ball SO freakin’ far.
Thanks again, Leigh!
Before the game actually started Michelle and I took a walk. The view from deep left field:
Here’s a nice ivy-covered bridge in the main concourse. See how much more pleasant that is when compared to this in Oakland?
We had an usher snap a photo of the two of us:
Then we grabbed a 5 for $5 deal and went back to the seats. I figured that if there were to be a home run to right field we’d be in the thick of it. But it was a pretty boring game… mild, more like. It was a mild game. But here was the view as the sun went down:Oooohh… pretty.
The only home run during the game was the first one of Kyle Blanks’ career–to the upper deck (where I’d been in BP) and I found out later that TC caught it! That made the score an amazing three runs for the Marlins to two runs for the Padres. Typical PETCO game, right? By that time, however, I was right behind the Marlins dugout.
I’d said goodbye to Leigh after the top of the ninth. The scored stayed 3-2. Wouldn’t you know it… they didn’t throw anything up over the dugout to the dozen or so fans that were there. No matter–five baseballs and a great ballpark experience! I’ll take it. We headed out to the car after I picked up a few ticket stubs as bonus souvenirs.