6/19/10 at PETCO Park

About a month prior to this game I got a text message from a friend of mine.  He told me that for Father’s Day he was flying down from San Francisco (where he lives) to San Diego (where he grew up) to take his dad to a game.  He wanted a few of us from college to go with him.  As it turns out, Jason, Josh, Brendan, and I would attend this game… and since I had committed to donating blood that morning before making the trek down to SD I asked Jason to get me my ticket ahead of time.  That worked out well because after I donated a pint of O+ at the Red Cross donation site, I headed down the 5 freeway and made it to downtown San Diego at about 2pm for the 5:35pm game between the Padres and the Orioles.

I had a little time to kill so I checked out the ticket windows:
619 padres ticket windows.JPGAnd went in the Team Store:
619 padres store.JPGThen I walked past all the Park at the Park gates:
619 park gate 1.JPG619 park gate 2.JPGAnd saw these adorable dogs in a nearby office:
619 2 awesome dogs.JPGThe other guys would be arriving toward the end of batting practice.  At 3pm the Park at the Park opened and I ran in to the beach in center field.
view from the beach 6.19b.jpgThere wasn’t anyone hitting when I got there–a few Padres were throwing near the right field line but I ended up just sitting around for about ten minutes.  Finally, BP was under way and… well… take a look at the below photo:
619 beach scene.JPGSo, Oscar Salazar was running from right field to center field and back again.  I was near the fence.  A baseball had come to rest about thirty feet from the fence.  When he got close to center field I yelled out, “Oscar!”  He looked over and then I asked him for the baseball in Spanish.  In one move he turned to run back toward right field, grabbed the ball, and flipped it underhand to me–I had taken a few steps away from the fence–but the ball was heading over my head so I backpedaled–right through that pile of plastic toys–and made the catch over my head.  I was on the board.

At 3:30 the stadium would open–and I’d still have just the one baseball.

That would change pretty quickly.  I had decided to hang out on a staircase in the left field seats.  After a couple of close calls, a Padres righty launched a homer a bit to my right.  I moved down the stairs, across half a section and watched the ball hit off a seat over my right shoulder.  It took a bounce in the row behind me, hit a fan’s hands, then rolled down to the first row… just to my right as I was facing away from the field.  I snagged it as it trickled away from me for Ball #2 on the afternoon.

I was getting text updates from the guys as they made the trip down from L.A. and then to Jason’s folks’ house, then onto the trolley–they still hadn’t arrived as the Orioles took the field.  I ran around to the third base line as the O’s pitchers started their pre-game throwing.  It was there that I got bullpen coach Alan Dunn to toss me my third baseball.  A few minutes later, rookie Jake Arrieta tossed me a ball as he finished throwing.  I’d moved about twenty feet closer to home plate.

About ten minutes later I saw Garrett Atkins playing catch with another Oriole and I positioned myself nearby.  When they were through I held up my glove and said, “Hey, Garrett, right here, please.”   And that was ball #5 on the day.
619 atkins catch.JPGI had pretty much exhausted my options along the left field line at that point so I went back to left field–this time to the second deck.  I know that every now and then a powerful righty can launch a homer or two up there.  Here was my view:
second deck view bp 6.19b.jpgAnd unfortunately, only one home run got hit up to the second level… and it was two sections away from me.  I did have a bit of luck up there though.  I’d tried calling out to various players to toss a ball up to the second level.  They all ignored me or didn’t even give it a shot.  I knew it could be done though… I’d caught two toss ups there back on 7/21/09 from a couple of Marlins.  Toward the end of BP a bald-headed trainer was fielding near the left field corner and I yelled out to him–and he launched up Baseball #6 on the evening.  Here’s a photo:
619 trainer 2nd deck.JPGThe box is around the trainer and I was standing at the red circle (along the railing in the second row).  I got some cheers from a few people nearby because I had to lean way out and over to make the catch since the throw had been falling a little short.

I was at the dugout as BP ended but didn’t snag a ball there.  The guys had just arrived and so I went to get a drink (and a Frequent Friar lanyard) before heading up to the second level above third base where our assigned seats were.  I met up with everyone and decided to spend the game in my seat:
panorama from our seats 6.19b.jpgI had a shot at a foul ball… maybe… but it was nice to just relax and enjoy the great weather and the great ball game.

It was nice to chat with my friends… and the game was pretty exciting.  The Padres and Orioles scored in the first.  It was 3-1 Padres.  The Orioles scored two more in the third–and then two more in the sixth to take the lead, 5-3, on an Adam Jones home run.  Kevin Millwood was set up for his first win of the season.  My friends were very emotional about the game:
619 bren and josh.JPGVictor Willis (formerly of The Village People) sang YMCA–badly–at the seventh inning stretch.  I think he forgot the words at one point.
619 village person.JPGI went down to the Field Level for the ninth inning and told the guys I’d meet them after the game.  Since the Orioles were winning I went behind their dugout:
view from field level 6.19b.jpgThe Padres made it interesting though and got a run in in the bottom of the ninth–and the tying run was on third… when the final out was recorded.  Tense, fun, a fantastic game… plus, there was a Kyle Blanks bobblehead giveaway and we all got coupons for free tacos from Jack in the Box.

The night’s baseballs:
619 six baseballs.JPGI stopped in Lemon Grove to say good night to the guys and to Jason’s parents.  Then it was a two hour drive north on the 5.

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4 comments

  1. m_kemp_27

    Hey Matt,
    I was wondering if you’re going to tomorrow’s game vs. the rangers? Cuz if you are, i’m going so just look for me in the front of the line. xD
    Bye

  2. raysfanboy

    I have never gotten a ball. Ever. I’ve gone to a billion games and never gotten a ball. I think I need to adopt some of your strategies and get a little more direct! Looks like you had a great time. Petco always looks like a cool park. I would like to go there, especially with the Pads playing so well!

    http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com/

  3. bloggingboutbaseball

    M_KEMP_27 – I e-mailed about this – and by now you already know the answer was… yep.
    RAYSFANBOY – Well, you just need a little luck and a little strategy. I didn’t get my first ball until I was twenty-one years old and I didn’t really start actively pursuing a collection of baseballs until 2008. I always have a great time at PETCO – it’s a pretty cool stadium.

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