Well, before Michelle and I left for our Midwest adventure where I got to see not one, but TWO games at Busch Stadium and one at Kauffman Stadium, too, I had bid on some Angels tickets on eBay. I won the auction and paid but I’d forgot about them. When I checked the mail on the night of Monday the tenth there they were: four tickets to the day game on the twelfth… Angels vs. Rays.
It was short notice and Michelle had to work and I figured there wouldn’t be batting practice and it was going to be hot–and I decided I was going to go to the game anyway.
So, I sold the three other tickets on craigslist and I headed out to the stadium just after 10am on Wednesday morning. For day games, Angel Stadium’s gates all open at the same time, 90 minutes prior to the game. I got to the stadium at about 10:30 and had plenty of time to walk around the whole park. I took a few photos of places I rarely see since I usually go straight to the gate at home plate. Like, the AM 830 radio office:And I tried to get a look in at the field through the tunnel in right field:
Who are those people that get to be in there before the park’s even open?!? Well, it looked like BP was not going to be happening for sure. I briefly thought about heading home but decided to challenge myself and try to snag at lest one ball! I also thought (correctly) that the crowd would be pretty light (for Anaheim) and maybe I got get an autograph or two.
A lot of folks were lined up at the Home Plate Gate waiting to get in:
Little did they know that all the gates were opening at the same time. But I knew… and I was the first person in line at Gate 6 (out near right field).
The gates opened at 11:05 and I ran inside. When I saw the field there were a total of four players on it. All Rays, all pitchers. Two stretching… and two playing catch. Heck yeah! A few Angels would come out a few minutes later.
I ran down and watched the two play catch. As soon as I got my camera out and took this picture–
–I heard a THUNK just a bit to my left. I looked and, as it turns out, the guy in the background (who I later identified as Russ Springer) had airmailed a throw. I picked up the ball in the fourth row and looked at the Rays pitcher closest to me. I was going to give it back to him, of course, but I had planned to ask if he’d toss it back when they were done. Instead, as soon as I looked at him he said, “Hey, just toss it here. I’ll give it back to you in a minute.”
“Wow, really?!? Thanks!” I said as I threw it back. He and Springer finished and then Springer tossed his best attempt at a knuckleball right to me. Cool! No shutout for me today!!!
That didn’t stop me from trying to snag as many as I could though. I ran over to the Angels side of the field and watched John Lackey throw with Jered Weaver. Whenever Weaver plays catch before a game he carries two baseballs. One he keeps in his glove as he throws, then transfers that one to his right hand before he catches. Anyone know any other players that do that? Is it a matter of efficiency or something? Or maybe just as a backup plan if a ball gets away? I’ve just never seen that before…
There were a lot of kids right around the wall at that point so I hung back and didn’t snag either of those two and then it was off to the bullpens in left field where I watched J.P. Howell, Scott Kazmir, and Lackey all throw. I got Howell to autograph my ticket when he was finished and called out to who I thought was Bobby Ramos, the Rays bullpen coach, for a ball. Instead, the guy I called out to said, “I’m not Bobby. He’s older than me and a lot fatter.” I apologized and then jogged back over to the first base line near the Rays dugout.
Akinori Iwamura, who has been injured all season, started signing autographs and I got him on a Rays/Angels stub from last year. As gametime neared and more and more players came out to the field, I managed to get David Price’s autograph on the same ticket as Howell’s and I JUST missed getting Evan Longoria (he had quite a crowd).
Oh, well. On to the game… just before it started I had been talking to a family of Rays fans behind their dugout. When I saw a few players come out to play catch I excused myself, went down to the outfield end of the dugout to see if I could get the baseball Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist were using. I was nearest to Zobrist and I was a little let down when Bartlett ended up with
the ball and headed for the shade of the dugout. Bummer.
But he stopped right before going down the steps and scanned the crowd. Turns out there wasn’t a single person ready to catch a ball near him… except me… on the other end of the dugout. He hovered there for a few seconds and then I called out, “Jason! Right here, Jason!” He looked, and lobbed it up and over the crowd right to me… thirty feet away. “Thank you!” I said. Off he went.
Rookie Trevor Bell was making his MLB debut that afternoon. Here he is throwing his first-ever big league pitch:
It was a strike. I’ve always thought that it’s much better to have had your first pitch be a strike rather than a ball. The crowd wasn’t too bad… for an Angels game. There were 37,859 in attendance but there was plenty of space for me right here:
It’s where I stayed for most of the game. Perfect for third out tries and lots of space to move for foul balls… but my snagging stopped at two. No foul balls anywhere near me and most of the third out baseballs were tossed elsewhere due to strikeouts or fly balls ending the innings. Bleh…
The game was a lot of fun.
Bell pitched all right. He went five and a third innings… his nemesis was Carlos Pena, who hit two home runs off Bell.
The game went back and forth until the bottom of the seventh inning when the Angels scored five runs. Howie Kendrick and GMJ both hit three-run homers and, though the Rays got a bit closer in the eighth, the final would be 10-5 Angels! Woo!
My total on the day: 2. My total this season: 67. My total in my life: 95. Maybe I’ll get to 100 at my next game!
As far as upcoming games… I know I’ll be at Angel Stadium on the 26th (another day game) and I might be at PETCO on the 31st. Definitely going to Dodger Stadium on Sept. 2nd.
Thanks for reading!!!