I know, I know, the 2011 season has already started and I’m just NOW getting up my last entry from 2010. What a lazy bum I’ve been, right?
Sorry, loyal readers–I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your collective seat just waiting to see how this last game went.
The Angels had been eliminated from the playoffs and it was a Wednesday afternoon game against the A’s, who also weren’t a playoff team. I was hoping for some autographs, some baseballs, a good seat, and a low turnout. I got ’em all…
The day started with me running into the stadium to see no batting practice happening. Bummer…
An A’s player had just finished throwing and I ran down near the field to see it was Dallas Braden, who’d thrown a perfect game earlier in the season. I politely asked for the ball as he ran into the dugout. He tossed it up over the dugout roof. Number 275 in my ballhawking career!
A moment later Braden popped back up to chat with someone he knew and I got his autograph–I’d have gotten it on the ball he threw me but it was pretty beat up. Instead, I had him sign my ticket stub for that day’s game.
The only action on the field at that point was some unknown pitcher throwing just past the Angels’ dugout.
It turned out to be Michael Kohn–but I didn’t get the baseball he was using so… whatever. I did, however, get his autograph on my team baseball. And later, when a few more Angel pitchers came out to the field I got autographs from Matt Palmer, Francisco Rodriguez and Fernando Rodney on the same team ball.
That’s Rodriguez and Rodney on their way over to appease the fans…
After that I ran over to the visiting team’s dugout where a bunch of Oakland players had come out to throw. I ended getting the autograph of Gio Gonzalez before Chris Carter and Rajai Davis finished throwing and Carter tossed me my second baseball of the day when they finished. He spotted me in the fourth row behind the camera well and lobbed it over all the folks pressed up against the wall near the field.
Thanks to Mr. Carter!
I saw that day’s starting pitcher, Bobby Cramer, walking in from the bullpen and thought he (or his catcher) might have a baseball with them. Cramer, who was appearing in just his fourth major league game, was surprised anyone knew who he was. He looked up and when I asked him if he could throw me a ball he smiled and pulled out the one in his glove and underhanded it to me! Sweet!
As the game got underway I had positioned myself in the gorgeous sunshine right behind the Angel dugout:
There weren’t many people around and those that were retreated to the shade so I had plenty of room on my left:
And on my right:
I was hoping for a foul ball at some point… and I could always try for a third out toss. The odds were in my favor.
Joel Piniero dueled with Cramer until the Angels broke through on a Howie Kendrick groundout in the third. Since my section had filled up a bit I decided to play both dugouts for a third out toss… I ran to Oakland’s dugout, then back to the Angels’ dugout each inning. In the top of the fourth I sat down on the aisle as Rajai Davis was walking up to the plate for the A’s.
Well, after a few pitches he fouled one off in my direction but it fell short and landed in the dugout. I was eight rows back from the dugout and someone on the Angels tossed a ball up over the roof… I stood up, moved toward the aisle, jumped, and caught the ball barehanded! My glove was on the seat in front of me… I had been drinking some water…
The folks behind me complained–but I was psyched! My last ball of the season (as it would turn out) was a beautiful rubbed up foul ball from an Angel… really, from an A… but it got tossed up by someone in the Halo dugout. Here’s a photo of where I caught it:
I took that later while I was back over at the Oakland dugout. The orange circle shows where I was standing as I nabbed it. I also saw a creepy Santa Claus sitting in the sunshine and chatting with kids:
Weird! And back and forth I went, trying for third out baseballs–but to no avail. The score was tied in the ninth inning. Both starters had gone seven innings given up just one run each. The bullpens were trading zeroes and the Angels got a bit of a rally going in the ninth… I was behind their dugout for that:
But they failed to score… I figured I needed to be close to the dugout in case of a walk off win… which didn’t happen in the bottom of the tenth when the A’s used five infielders:
It took until the eleventh on a single by Torii Hunter to score Jeff Mathis. Walk-off! And I ended the day with four baseballs…278 lifetime. The Angels celebrated on the field and I wedged into the front row behind their dugout, hopeful that they’d throw some baseballs, batting gloves, or something… they didn’t. I knew they had to finish the season in Texas but I thought maybe they wouldn’t need the occasional bat or helmet. I ended up without any goodies post game…and the Angels still weren’t going to the playoffs. And neither were the Dodgers… and neither were the Padres. No SoCal playoff baseball was tough–but I made it through and I’m psyched for 2011.
More to come soon…