I originally wasn’t going to go to this game but I got a text message from my friend, Dennis, on Tuesday saying that his and a pal from school, Chris, would be going. Chris is from Wisconsin and wanted to catch the Brewers while they were in town. Long story short – Michelle had to work that evening so I accepted their invitation.
I picked the guys up at 1:45 and we got to the park at about 2:05. I love it when I don’t hit traffic in SoCal. Chris had never been to Angel Stadium before so we took a long walk around to the front of the ballpark and he got his picture under the big hats while I bought the tickets for us.
There was a huge line at the Home Plate Gate but since this game would be starting at 4:05 I knew that all the gates would open at the same time… so we walked down to right field. There were about three people in line there, including BP regular Rob. I chatted with Rob for a while and Dennis and Chris played catch with an extra baseball I’d brought. I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing an extra baseball with me to games nowadays because I want to give at least one away every time I’m there.
At about 2:30 the gates opened and Chris and I sprinted up to the right field pavilion. I explained to him the importance of getting into the stands as quickly as possible to find Easter eggs or just be the only one there for a few precious seconds. Somehow, we weren’t quite the first ones to arrive but I will say that I was the only one who thoroughly checked the seats for baseballs… because I found one in the second row of the furthest section of the pavilion. Ball #1 on the day and #205 in my lifetime!
Once we’d scoured the seats I recognized that there weren’t going to be too many home runs hit out by the Angels… the wind was blowing toward left field and we had missed most of the first round of BP with the late opening time. So, after Hideki Matsui and Bobby Abreu finished their cuts I went down near the foul pole in right field. While there I watched as the Brewers came out to the field to stretch and then the Angels finished up.
My next baseball came off the bat of Casey McGehee. I didn’t know it was him at the time–but a righty on the Brewers sent a ball slicing down the right field line and I was able to leap up on the wall, lean over, and scoop it off the track. I analyzed the stance of the batter to figure out it was McGehee once I got home.
Before I get to much further into this entry I should point out that Dennis actually snagged a ball as we were both up in the pavilion. Once the Angels finished hitting and Prince Fielder stepped into the cage I made sure to be back up in the stands 400+ feet from home plate. After seeing Fielder hit the day before I knew he could launch some bombs up there. I played about halfway up the pavilion and Dennis played even further back. I got close to one shot from Fielder but it wound up two rows below me. A few minutes later though I had one lined up that ended up flying ten feet over my head. Dennis was a few rows behind me–the ball hit his glove, bounced out, but he was able to recover and snag the baseball. The Brewers had written SICK! on that one. I was really happy for him.
I took this photo during the game that shows where I found my first ball of the day (the red circle) and where Dennis snagged the Fielder homer (the white square):
I went down to the foul pole again after that and eventually I saw my friends up in the pavilion again. Though at that point they’d put snagging baseballs at a secondary priority:
Anyway, I wouldn’t snag my third baseball until the end of batting practice (even though I thought for sure Chris Capuano would hook me up–he really liked my shirt). But I’d snag Ball #3 on a toss up from a kid who had been fielding with the players. I had asked bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel for a ball as he came in from the field. The kid was near him and he’d said something to the kid like, “You can give him that one.”
Hanel started transferring baseballs into a bag and the kid tossed me the ball. There was a blue line through the sweet spot on that one (no cool saying on it).
Then the kid went into the dugout. Hanel finished what he was doing a moment later… and I had moved a bit to my left. Then he spotted me and tossed me Ball #4 on the day! He must not have known tif the kid had actually thrown me the ball–but he’d pulled one out of the bucket that had a practice logo–not just a stamp on the sweet spot. I’d seen one of these before:
So, I ended BP with four baseballs. Dennis had one and Chris hadn’t gotten one. When the Strike Force came by shooting T-shirts and Nerf baseballs I snagged a little Nerf ball and handed that one to Chris. I figured he could at least have a souvenir of his first trip to the stadium that way.
We walked around the concourse and eventually ended up in some seats on the Terrace Level just past third base. I saw some Angels warming up and tried to get a ball from them.
No luck there. I sat behind the Angels dugout until the middle of the first, hoping for a toss up.
No luck there either. So, I went back and found Dennis and Chris. We all decided to grab seats behind the Brewers dugout. At day games in Anaheim the visiting team’s dugout is on the sunny side of the stadium and fans all sit in shady seats when possible–we were able to find warm, sunny seats (plenty of them) right near the dugout. I didn’t take any pictures there… but take my word. They were good seats.
Jim Edmonds was playing first base for the Brewers, as Fielder was their DH on the day. Each inning I tried for a third out toss but Edmonds either threw the ball a section over from us or the inning ended in a strikeout…
Until the bottom of the fourth. Brandon Wood popped out to Edmonds to end the frame. There weren’t a bunch of little kids rushing down to the dugout for some reason… usually by the fourth inning of a game a dozen little kids have caught on to the pattern of rushing down there to get a ball. Anyway, I was pretty much the only person at the bottom of the steps as the Brewers came off the field and I called out for the ball: “Jim! Right here, please! Hey, Jim!”
I went back to the seats and showed the ball to my friends. Then I explained to Chris the strategy behind third out tosses. We agreed that he would try the next one–but the fifth inning ended in a strikeout and then we got booted from those seats when the actual seatholders arrived… in the fifth inning. The end of the fifth inning! Whatever.
We headed up to the top levels of the stadium and walked around a bit. We ended up finding seats with this view:
And we stayed there until almost the end of the game. As the top of the ninth ended and the Angels were up 5-1, I went to the Angels dugout as Fielder batted.
And I got shut out there. Oh, well.
Five on the day and an Angels win on an awesome summer afternoon makes for a pretty darn good baseball experience.
My next game would be at PETCO down in San Diego.