I’d barely recovered from my trek to Angel Stadium on Monday and I was planning on making the drive down the 5 freeway to good ol’ PETCO Park in San Diego. My wife, Michelle, had to work that evening so I went to class, worked on my thesis, met her for lunch, dropped her off at her office, then set out to SD. I’d be meeting up with my ballhawk buddy, Leigh, once I got there and, since there was no traffic, I parked at 3:30pm and headed to the box office to by my ticket. I opted on the cheapest Field Level seat I could buy. You can get five buck tickets to the Park at the Park… but in my experience the ushers at PETCO are pretty strict. I felt like I needed to get down to the field–then I could move around as needed.
I got my first baseball of the day at 3:43pm… before the stadium was open. It came from Fred Dabney, an interim coach for the Brewers. And here it is:
Ah, remember when the Brewers wrote clever things on their BP baseballs?
Ball #2 came from a groundskeeper much later. I’d met up with Leigh and we talked, spent some time on the beach in center field:
… and waited for the rest of the park to open. I’d seen quite a few homers land in the seats in left field but a vendor inside had been pocketing all of them. Except one that had gone into the upper deck… halfway up. I knew what section it was in and just me and one other guy ran up there at 5:30 to find it… he got to it first. Dang.
As a matter of fact, I would go through all the rest of BP stuck on two baseballs.
After I ran over to right field (for Prince Fielder) I asked Randy Wolf,
“Could you toss a ball up here?” He told me, “Don’t worry, you’ll get
plenty.” and gestured to the batter.
Is that so, Randy? Well, Fielder was a bust. He hit, maybe, two into
the right field stands. BP regular TC ended up with one of them. I went back over
to left field after that and continued to get shut out.
I hung out in the second deck of left field until Ryan Braun was done taking his swings. A total of two baseballs were hit up there… I didn’t snag either. I’d been counting on a toss or two. But the Brewers–and this was the first time I’d ever seen them play–are stingy.
It was a bummer–the day had started out so well. As I walked over toward the area of my actual ticketed seat after BP I was grumbling about my bad luck… I hoped for a chance at a warmup ball. As I sat down to take the following picture:
… I looked down to my left. I saw this:
Wha–? It was, at this point, about 6:35pm. Maybe it was a Brewers overthrow from early in the afternoon–or a foul ball that just went unseen. I have no idea but it was one of the oh-so-familiar cryptic messages the Brewers are famous for, though this year they seem to have gotten lazy and they just make a “–” on their BP baseballs… like the one at the beginning of this entry.
Cool. I’ll take it–Ball #3. What do you think BSM means?
I moved right behind the dugout for pregame throwing but Carlos Gonzalez let a ball skip by him into the outfield stands… a fan reached out and nabbed it. So, Gonzalez just let it go and he ran into the dugout.
Here was my view for the start of the game:
I stayed in the first row for two innings before the actual seat holders showed up. Then I was banished. Since there were two lefties starting I headed over to the first base side hoping for a foul ball. Here was my view:
The Padres scored four runs in the fourth and five runs in the fifth. And that was it for the scoring. Seriously. I came pretty close to a few foul balls… a guy in the section behind me complimented my range as I strafed right to get within a few feet of one of them. But I came up empty.
Leigh texted me around 10:00 to say he was leaving–he had work. I was determined to stick it out through the chilly, windy San Diego night. The crowd had been recorded at just under 17,000… there were not many people left by the eighth inning.
The Padres won and I was behind their dugout to try to snag something… but nothin’ doin’. I grabbed a few discarded ticket stubs and started to head along the cross aisle back toward third base so I could exit and walk back to my car. As I did that I noticed a few Brewers head out onto the field.
Weird… Fred Dabney, LaTroy Hawkins and some other Brewer all set up so Hawkins could get some throwing in. I lingered in the seating bowl as long as I could. There were a half dozen or so Brewer fans hanging out right by the field. I waited a few minutes… the seating bowl was 98% empty at that point. The ushers were kicking everybody out–I was about a dozen rows from the field.
All the fans in the first row were asked to leave by the ushers. I headed up slowly… I stopped in about the twentieth row to “look through my backpack.” There was a chance to salvage the below average night. As the last few fans exited an usher approached me and said everyone had to leave. I said, “Sure, just one second.” I left my backpack, the trio on the field had just finished. I yelled out, “LATROY!” He heard me as he began to walk toward the dugout… of course he did. The stadium was eerily quiet at that point. I held up my glove and opened up my jacket to show off my Brewers old school logo T-shirt. Hawkins fired a strike from a hundred feet away right to me. Check it out:
I’d never seen a situation like that after a game before. The usher asked, surprised, “Did he just throw you that ball?”
I quickly headed out to the promenade near the Park at the Park and gave away the ball from the groundskeeper to a little boy. Then I headed for my car. On the way out I stopped and had a security guard take my picture before I left. When I got to the parking garage and put my stuff away I couldn’t find my ticket for the garage… finally, I found it in my back pocket, badly wrinkled. When I handed it to the lady at the kiosk she couldn’t scan it… so she charged me the day rate since I had gotten there so early… which was half of the event rate. Score!
I had long drive ahead of me. Four baseballs, I got to see a baseball buddy of mine, a small crowd; it was a fun night at the park.
Thanks for reading–my next game will be som
etime when the Angels come back home.