At last! Playoff baseball and me. Never before had I actually attended a postseason game but the wait was over. I purchased a nosebleed seat to each of the first two Angels/Red Sox games in Anaheim weeks earlier and when October 7th finally arrived I was thrilled. I headed out by myself (Michelle had to work) with snacks, my Print At Home ticket (boo!), my glove, and a whole lot of anticipation. The Home Plate Gate was scheduled to open up at 4:30pm.
As I passed one of the gates I got my first taste of playoff atmosphere in the form of a banner:
When I got to the front of the stadium there were about ten people (including Chris) there waiting to get in. And by 4:20pm it looked like this:
Yikes! Lucky for me, most of those folks didn’t rush in, nor did they seem to care much about snagging a ball. As I’d find out shortly, that didn’t help me much at all.
I ran in and headed for the foul pole in right field. The Angels would be facing lefty Jon Lester on this night so they were all batting right-handed. I was hoping sombody would flare on down the line. After about five minutes some righty Angel did just that. A ball came to rest about ten inches away from the wall… and I went for it. I jumped up and balanced myself on my stomach along the wall but the ball was juuuuusstt a bit out of my reach. All of a sudden somebody said, “I’ve got your legs!” and held on to my legs. The extra weight helped counterbalance the majority of me that was hanging out over the field and I was able to scoop the ball up with my glove.
As I came back over the wall I looked and it was a total stranger! I had imagined it was maybe Chris or Rob–someone I knew. Nope. I thanked the guy and then stepped away from the wall, giving him my spot. I had one baseball… my streak was alive and well… I was happy. I headed up to the pavilion.
It was pretty empty up there while the Angels were hitting… and that’s because no baseballs were going my way up there in right. But the Angels weren’t really hitting many into the seats anyway. When the Red Sox came out I hoped for a little more action. And there was–a little–more action. But David Ortiz hit, like, two balls into the seats, J.D. Drew did the same, Casey Kotchman hit a few… that was about it. And by the time some balls were flying out that way the stands looked like this:
Ugh. I had no room to maneuver. I had no choice but to pick a staircase and hope for something within a few feet of me. BP ended and I was stuck on one baseball… and even though I got to the dugout after BP the ball that a Sox coach tossed to me ended up in Chris’ glove. I’d been two rows behind him… he apologized and said if he’d known it was headed for me he wouldn’t–“It’s OK, man. Good catch. How many you got today?”
“Just this one.”
“Well, if that means that you don’t get shut out then no worries.” I wished him well and headed off to roam around.
I photographed the freshly painted ALDS logo on the field:
Then got a shot of the electronic banner around the park:
And eventually I ended up just past third base while the Halos warmed up:
I went over to the Terrace Level on the first base side before the lineups were announced. The Red Sox players came out first, then the Angels:
Then a HUGE American flag got unfurled for the national anthem:
Nice! They use that on Opening Day, too. For the top of the first I got to sit right behind the Red Sox dugout. Here’s the first pitch of the game:
And I just missed the third out toss in the bottom of the first from Kevin Youkilis. But then the seatholders showed up and I repositioned myself. I sat here for the second inning:
And here for the third:
After that I was on my feet for a while. Everyone was arriving–finally. And Angel Stadium was completely sold out. I’d never seen it so busy. Oh, well… I’d seen three innings from prime seats! I was having a ball. I walked along the outfield concourse and hung out on the staircase for a while in dead center. I took the following photo in the bottom of the fifth with Torii Hunter at the plate and two men on:
And on the next pitch he walloped a ball into the rocks… it was amazing! The place went nuts and I found myself in the midst of high-fives and cheers all around me. It was really cool–had Torii pulled the ball a bit more I would’ve had a chance to catch it. Man, a 3-0 had never felt so good as a Halo fan.
Both starters had been great up to that point. Both Lester and John Lackey had been dueling and that homer was exactly what we needed! I moved closer to left field after that:
The crowd was up on its feet for pretty much the rest of the night. And by the seventh inning I found a spot with this view:
Oh, and here’s one of those awful botched calls at first base:
Kendrick was out–twice. I didn’t affect the scoring though, so, no big deal.
I stayed there until the game’s end. The Angels were leading 5-0 after seven and Lackey exited to a standing ovation in the eighth:
And Darren Oliver shut down the Red Sox for the rest of the game. It was a shutout–and a 1-0 lead for the Angels in the series!
By the time the ninth inning was completed I had scooted down to the Angel dugout and I was on my feet, like all of the people in the stadium, as the final out was recorded. Then the players came off the field and a couple, like Bobby Abreu, got interviewed.
I hung around for a while, got a few ticket stubs, looked at the rapidly emptying stadium:
And finally headed out to the parking lot after making sure to get a photo of me with the lone ball I’d snagged.
As I walked out I saw someone that looked familiar… someone famous, a baseball player. Or, former player, actually… I saw this man talking to a few people who turned out to be family members.
After a short while I got his autograph on a ball I’d brought with me:
Know who it is? I was pretty excited about it and it was totally random that I managed to get his autograph. A lot of folks walked right by him and had no idea who he was.
Wow! An Angels win–a shutout… and I had snagged a ball AND gotten the autograph of a Hall of Fame player! It was a great night.