The Mariners were in town for the first time this season and Michelle and I would start our anniversary weekend off by heading to a game to welcome Chone Figgins (and Casey Kotchman) back to the Big A.
I had one goal for this evening: snag baseball number 200. I was sitting on 198 baseballs as we arrived–so I would be happy as long as I ended up with two on the night. As we got to the gates there were huge lines. We arrived a little later than I like to because there was a ton of traffic. Luckily, I knew a few people close to the front and I was able to go in with them. Michelle volunteered to hang back.
I ran in to left field and headed down near the foul pole. When Michelle arrived I was still on zero but I had high hopes. She started snapping pictures since she’d forgotten to bring a book with her. Usually Michelle reads during BP… this time though she played photographer and got some good shots.
Here I am, excited, despite the fact that the teenager to the right just snagged a ball and I didn’t get it:
I noticed Joe Saunders in the bullpen. I’d had a brief conversation with him two days earlier and he’d tossed me a ball. As he came out of the bullpen I called out to him and he recognized me. As he walked to the field I told him about myGameBalls.com and wished him well. Michelle got this photo of our conversation before he started his pregame running with some other pitchers:
If you can’t find me right away just look at the photographer in the green shirt. I’m to his right in the above photo. And Joe’s on the field, obviously, drinking his Gatorade.
After that I went back to the wall and eventually was able to get on the board for the day by scooping a ground ball off the track. I’m not sure who hit it but I was able to lean out and grab the ball as it rolled along the dirt. Here I am just after snagging it:
I had a shot at one other ball. It was a BP home run hit by someone on the Angels. I didn’t get it but Michelle took two photos of the action as it unfolded:
In the first photo we’re tracking the ball. It would end up going over our heads. The second photo shows me and one other guy getting to where we thought it had settled. He ended up with the ball even though I’d gotten in front of him in the chase for it. I overran the ball by a row. Bummer.
The Angels would be done with their hitting soon and I’d seen the Mariners come out on the other side of the stadium to stretch. Pretty soon, pitchers would be throwing over on the first base line. I had been talking to the father and son duo immediately to my right all through BP and before Michelle and I switched sides of the stadium I handed over career ball #199 to the kid and told him, “Here you go. But the deal is, if you use all these tips I’ve been telling you and you or your dad get another ball, give this one to an even littler kid then you, OK?” The father was in shock, he asked, “Are you sure? I mean, that’s your ball, you got it.” I told him it was my pleasure and the little boy thanked me. With that, we were off to the right field area.
Not long after we got there I remembered how I’d gotten baseball #100. And I remembered that I had no idea who I got it from . And I remembered that I was pretty frustrated by that. So, I made sure to pay extra close attention to who was hitting and who was throwing nearby. There were a bunch of Mariners right in front of me. Some of them had their numbers showing, some didn’t. The player directly in front of me:
Was Kanekoa Texeira. I had to check my Seattle roster to find out. I’d never heard of him before. But you can all read the Wikipedia entry of the guy who threw me baseball number two hundred. And it wasn’t the one he was warming up with. Some Mariner in the cage hit a ball that ended up bouncing off the wall and stopped near where he was throwing. He leaned down to pick it up and as he did I checked my roster and then yelled out, “Texeira! Texiera! Right here!” I didn’t know how to say his first name (now I know it is cahn-eh-KOH-uh) but I was the only person who knew his last name and he stopped his motion of throwing the ball back to the bucket and instead threw it right to my waiting glove in the front row. Woo!
I took a couple other photos of Texeira to document the occasion:
And as of June 3rd he’s a member of the Kansas City Royals. Them’s the breaks. Maybe when the Royals come to Anaheim I can get him to sign the ball for me.
After that I took it pretty easy during BP. I had reached my goal and I was ecstatic. I mean, I didn’t stop trying to snag completely:
But I didn’t go all out either. Toward the end of BP a ball came to rest near the foul pole. I wasn’t really close to it but I noticed that nobody had even tried to reach over for it. I walked down the steps and got near the ball. There was a little girl standing right over the spot where it was. A security guard was walking over to the ball–and I knew he’d just toss it back and then nobody could have the ball (except the Mariners, I guess). I quickly asked the woman near the little girl (who I assumed was her mother), “Can I try to get it?”
She looked sort of confused. In her hesitation the security guard was getting closer so I told the woman and her daughter: “If you let me squeeze in front of you I can get that ball.”
They wordlessly, but excitedly, moved out of the way and in one quick move I jumped out, balanced myself on the stone wall, grabbed the ball in the tip of my glove and then came back up with it. The mother looked at me like I had just done a magic trick. I asked her, “Now, where’s the little one?” The young girl came out from behind her mother’s leg and I held my glove open with the baseball still inside. She looked up at her mom as if to ask, “Is it okay?” Once her mom nodded she grabbed the baseball with a big smile on her face and they both thanked me.
201 and counting… I ran down to the dugout at the end of BP and got shut out there. Michelle and I grabbed some dinner after that… and dessert after that. Mmm… monkey bread and funnel fries!
We watched the game from the 200 level out between first base and right field. It was a pretty crowded game but we only had to shuffle around for actual seatholders one time. I ran to the M’s dugout for tries at a third out ball but didn’t snag anything during the game… I was okay with that though.
The Angels jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a fielder’s choice and then a groundout… but only mustered five hits for the whole game. The offense looked silly… against Seattle. Which is saying something.
Cliff Lee was up against Scott Kazmir and Cliff Lee won… big time. He struck out 10 over eight innings. The Angels scored three runs (two earned) and that wasn’t enough. Seattle actually hit the ball. Go figure… they scored eight runs. Six off Kazmir and two off Scot Shields, who has been awful. His ERA is, at the time of this posting, 6.86. Ugh.
Anyway, I was hoping that the Mariners would toss up something at the dugout after the game (and we moved pretty close for the ninth inning) I took the following photo late in the game:
It’s a foul ball… heh… look at Mike Napoli. The M’s didn’t throw anything up. Except for Casey Kotchman, who passed a bat up over the dugout that was just to my left. The teenager next to me who got it had flopped down on the dugout at the end of the game, then there was a little girl to his right, then there was me. I thought Kotchman was giving the bat to the little girl. The teenager ended up with it because I wasn’t aggressive. Next time there’s a bat up for grabs I won’t be so nice because I was kicking myself all through the fireworks show:
Which was fun. And Michelle and I got a couple of friendly ushers to take our photo together as we kicked off our anniversary with a fun night at the ballpark:
And we headed home… where I took another photo of the one ball I kept that night: