All right! Back at the Big A with my wife and a fine summer evening of baseball. We arrived plenty early and I took a spot in line while Michelle sat in the shade.
Actually, you can see Michelle in the background of that photo as she checks out the Nick Adenhart memorial. It’s always changing as people add to it… August 24th, 2009 would have been Nick’s 23rd birthday. R.I.P.
I was the first one there and arrived just in time to watch Frank Robinson enter the gates after totally snubbing a Detroit Tigers fan. Ouch!
Soon enough the lines were growing and I saw John, Terry, Rob, and Chris (all Anaheim BP regulars) around me. The security guard for my line was late gettin’ with the program so Rob beat me up to the pavilion but there weren’t any Easter eggs to be found.
After a few minutes I walked to the center field side of the pavilion as Torii Hunter was shagging out there. He fielded one near the wall and I exclaimed, “Torii! Could you toss that one up here, please?”
He looked up, smiled, and side-armed Ball #1 right to me. Awesome! I’d never gotten a ball from Torii before. I told him, “Thank you! It’s good to have you back, Torii!” And he gave me a thumbs up–this game would be his first home game back since he’s been on the DL.
I just kept being out of place for the few homers that went up there during BP. I saw a few Angels pitchers in right and thought Shane Loux was one of them. I headed down to the front row and got right above where Loux was fielding and said, “Is that Shane down there?” No response.
“Well, if it is… I just want to say Happy Birthday next week, man.”
He turned around and looked up saying, “Thank you.” He pointed to me with his glove. Cool.
About five minutes later I was in the fourth rows of the stands trying to catch a homer by Gary Matthews, Jr. A ball went to Loux and he turned around, wanting to toss it to someone. I put my arms up and waved halfheartedly… and he tossed it over a half dozen people in the first row straight into my glove. For the record, I never asked him for a baseball… but I sure appreciate having it! Note to self: that birthday stat on the rosters I print out comes in handy after all.
After the Angels finished hitting I got entirely shut out! Not too many homers made it up to us in RF and those that did were just too far from me. I almost got two or three… but almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as my dad says.
After BP I found Michelle in the seats further up in the pavilion and we found some shade on the Terrace Level and ate our dinner we’d brought in with us. The Angels Strike Force made their rounds and I snagged my third ball of the day… but it was made of soft plastic and foam. I’ve snagged three of these Softee balls this year without really trying too hard. Too bad they don’t count in the standings of the Ballhawk League!
I saw Justin Verlander come out and warm up near the line in right. When he started throwing I sat behind the bullpen catcher in case of an overthrow. Geez! Verlander’s got some great movement on his pitches. Neither he nor the catcher tossed a ball to anyone… but Michelle mentioned that a player was signing closer to the dugout.
I took a closer look and saw Curtis Granderson–he posed for some photos and signed for a good ten minutes! I got him on my ticket from that game. Lemme tell you, some of these ballplayers don’t try very hard when signing their name. Ugh. Thanks anyway, Curtis, for taking the time. Your fans appreciate it.
A couple of Tigers tossed before the anthem but only one ball got thrown to the crowd… it was just a bit too far to my left. Oh, well. Michelle and I headed up to the View Level and found some seats here:
Nice foul ball spot, eh?
Verlander throws hard… I figured a lot of foul balls from the Angels batting left-handed (Figgins, Abreu, Izturis, Morales, Aybar) would make it up this way. Nope. Only one close call.
The Angels made a comeback though and knocked Verlander out of the game in the sixth. They beat up on the Tigers bullpen a little, too… it was 10-7 after Bobby Abreu knocked a three-run homer of the fence in right field. Fernando Rodney came in and got the final four outs of the game though… and I was right behind the dugout as the players came off the field. The only thing that got tossed to me: a piece of Sugar Free Double Bubble by current coach and former player Andy Van Slyke.
Oh, and Michelle and I saw actor J.K. Simmons in the crowd behind the dugout at the game’s end. He signed a few autographs and posed for some photos. Apparently he is a BIG Tigers fan. He was born in Detroit in ’55 and, here’s some entertainment/sports trivia, he played the manager of the Tigers in the Kevin Costner film “For Love of the Game.” Cool, huh?
Check out his left hand. I respect him even more as an actor and sports fan now: he had bro
ught his glove to the game. Props to you, J.K.
As the visiting team clubhouse attendant was cleaning up he looked up over the dugout with a ball in his hand. I asked him, politely, if I could have it. He scanned around to see if anyone else was still nearby. Everyone but me had cleared out. I said, “There’s nobody younger or cuter near me! C’mon, man… please?”