Today would be a special day. I mean, every day that I head to a big league ballpark is special but on this day I’d be attending the game with Michelle and her sister (Crystal) and her sister’s boyfriend, Jeff. And this would be Jeff’s first baseball game… ever.
The day started out like most game days for me. I left my place around four o’clock and got to the stadium–then I waited for the gates to open. While I was waiting I saw a young kid named Kevin (who is a regular commenter on this blog) who I’d first met in person back on May 28th. We chatted while we were in line together and exchanged strategies. Kevin, I should mention, was decked out in full Rangers gear–and he’s a kid and he knew what he was doing–he ended up doing very well for himself, snagging-wise.
The rest of my group would be arriving after batting practice was done (Jeff had class and Michelle had work). I made the most of my time spent alone at BP. It was fairly lonely up in the right field seats.
Just the way I like it. Lots of room to maneuver and run around. See that red box in the above photo? That’s important later on, I promise.
Unfortunately, I didn’t snag a single baseball through the first round of batting practice. For the second round I stood at the wall near the foul pole in right field and waited. After a few minutes a scorcher hit the wall to my left and I planned to play the ricochet. It came toward me, I jumped out onto the wall… and the ball went into my glove but I couldn’t trap it… it rolled a foot away. I figured I could still reach it so I stood up and then tried again, keeping my glove on the end of my hand to give myself another couple inches… I stretched out… the ball was just a few inches away. And then I felt something hit my legs and I panicked–was someone pushing me over onto the field?!?
“Whoa! Hey!” I yelled. Then I heard a voice saying, “I got you, it’s okay.”
I didn’t really need to be saved–but this person had probably thought I was falling over… anyway, with this new found support I easily scooped up the ball and crawled back to the wall to stand up again. When I did I looked behind me and saw young Kevin’s dad. He’d been the one that had “saved” me. I said thank you and gave him a high five–then I looked at the ball. It was another Practice logo ball and I had an idea of who I could give it away to when I heard a voice behind me…
“Excuse me, sir,” the stern voice said, “Sir–can I see your ticket?” The SCS security guy that had been standing in the right field corner had come over. I told him that of course he could see my ticket. How weird.
During batting practice you can go anywhere on the Field Level that you want at Angel Stadium except behind the dugouts. I showed him my ticket–he’d asked for Kevin’s dad’s ticket and he had handed it over, too.
The security guy examined our tickets and then told us what sections we were seated in and said, “Thank you, gentlemen, now head back to your seats.” Wha–? I knew he was just power-tripping but I nodded and said, “OK.” I didn’t want to cause a scene… thought the security guy seemed to want to. As I turned to leave he said, “Hang on. The ball.”
Then he held out his hand. He wanted the baseball. I, as innocently as I could, asked, “Why?” because, even though I wasn’t planning on keeping this one, I wanted to know what he wanted it for. His reply:
“For being unsafe on my field!” He actually yelled at me at this point.
He then went into a rant about how I was endangering myself and
others and how this was for my own good and his job was to keep me
safe… a lot of BS, in my opinion. Again, not wanting to cause a
scene, and knowing the All-Star Game was right around the corner, I
complied. I handed the ball over to him (I’m still counting it). And
if you ever see me in person you can ask me all about the minute details
of the interaction but I’ll simply state here that I feel I was treated
poorly and I will be filing a complaint.
And I think he kept the ball–I didn’t see him throw it back on the
field. And he kept a young fan from getting a souvenir.
Well, I headed up to the pavilion again (and not back to my assigned
seat) as the Rangers took the field.
After the Rangers’ pitchers were done throwing I noticed C.J. Wilson
fielding in right and as he picked up a ball from the warning track I
asked him to throw it up. He said, “Sure, it’s one of the Angels’
balls.” And then he threw it five feet over my head… a big dude
behind me got it and C.J. yelled up, “Aww, c’mon.” Like I should have
made the play–pitchers have trouble accurately throwing baseballs
eighteen feet up right over their heads–but he was cool about it and
gave me the next ball he fielded…
… and that was number two on the day… and another Practice logo
Here’s the spot where I caught the toss up:
And here’s the ball, nestled safely in my glove:
Remember how I mentioned that the Torii Hunter BP home run I caught on
the fly at my last game before this one was the first ball I’d caught on
the fly in a month… well, it wouldn’t take me another month to catch another one.
I was playing plenty deep for Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero was hitting right after him. For Vladdy, I moved close to center field since he’s right handed. I knew he could hit them out to left–but I was hoping that he would go opposite field. He did… big time.
I caught the Hunter homer in the third row of Section 240–Vlad launched one to right center field and I moved back and to my left and managed to catch a homer off his bat in the ninth row of Section 239. That’s even farther from home plate (well over 400 feet) and even more toward right field. Wow. And that’s why the red box in the first photo is important–that’s where I caught the ball. You can click on the photo to enlarge it if you want. It’s fine… I’ll wait. That’s a long opposite field home run.
After he hit, Vlad took some fly balls in the outfield and got a nice ovation from the fans–and when he finished he signed some autographs over on the foul line. Classy. He’s having a great year and all the Angels fans appreciate the work he put in for our team from 2004 to 2009.
I ran down to the dugout at the end of BP and tried to get a ball from Johnny Narron–and noticed Kevin right next to me–and Narron threw the ball to Kevin. If only I were fifteen years younger! Aagh!
My fourth ball of the day would come from Angel shortstop, Erick Aybar. There are always a ton of fans near third base before a game in Anaheim but they almost all are trying for autographs.
I was a few rows from the wall as Aybar and Frandsen played catch and I simply yelled out, “Erick! Right here!” as loud as I could when they finished up… and held up my glove. He tossed that ball in the above photo to me for Ball #4 on the day. Michelle, Jeff, and Crystal still hadn’t arrived at that point so I went to find a seat near the Rangers dugout.
Lucky for me, Vladdy signed some more autographs before the game and I was near the camera well at the time, just behind first base. A lady and another guy were trying to get Vlad’s attention and I told them, “Maybe if we all try at the same time.” They nodded and the girl counted off: 1, 2, 3…
It worked! He looked over and the girl tossed him a baseball and a pen–then I tossed him a baseball and since he already had the girl’s pen he didn’t take my blue ballpoint. I got the autograph–but it was less than ideal… but I was still thrilled. He’d signed the ball I’d caught just a half hour earlier!
I should mention that I’d never gotten a ball from Guerrero before–in all his years as an Angel he hit before the gates opened… so I never saw him during BP. Woo!
The game started soon after that and I watched the top of the first from this vantage point:
Ian Kinsler hit a solo home run in the first so I tried for a better shot at some points in the myGameBalls scavenger hunt:
And Vladdy got a standing ovation when he stepped into the box–then hit a single.
And then the rest of my group arrived! I ran up to the main concourse toward center field to meet them and then we grabbed food. As usual, we nabbed seats in the Terrace Level to eat our dinner and we caught up. This was our view of the action:
After about the fourth inning or so we all decided to go on a ballpark tour. Mostly, this was for Jeff’s benefit because he’d never been to Angel Stadium or ANY stadium before. We began by heading up to the View Level. We then headed toward the outfield and down some stairs to the Budweiser Patio in deep, deep right field. Then we walked toward center field, down a ramp, then grabbed a fantastic churro from a concession stand, and ended up in center field near the rock pile:
Angels/Rangers on your left… Dodgers/Giants on your right.
After that we walked over to left field:
And then we walked toward third base, down through the tunnel to the Field Level concourse, behind home plate (and past the World Series trophy) before coming out on the first base side on the Field Level. We sat here:
And watched the last few in
nings. The Angels were winning but the Rangers had made it a close game–it was 6-5 Angels when we sat down. And that’s the way the score stayed. It was a great win over our division rivals and, even though they’d lost, I headed down to the Ranger dugout after the game. As the players retreated to their clubhouse nobody tossed a baseball up but the bullpen guys were still making their way in. As they got close I held up my glove and asked for a ball. One of the Texas relievers had a ball in the pocket of his sweatshirt–but looked to my right. I turned… there was Kevin. He got that toss-up, too… which I could’ve easily snagged if I was a mean, greedy adult. Kevin looked up at me and thanked me for letting him get it. I told him it was no problem and asked how many he’d snagged that night.
After that I met up with Michelle and the gang and we took a few pictures…
Then we headed outside to find the Angels Mickey statue and got a photo with Mic:
Jeff looks very stern but I swear he had a great time at the game. Michelle and I walked them to their car under the light of the Halo and then we headed to our own and drove back to Irvine. What a great night!