I’ll just come right out and say it: This wasn’t my most successful day of snagging baseballs. No, siree.
Did I get shut out? No… not in my home park with a full session of BP going on… here’s how it went down:
For those of you that read my previous entry, you know that I began the day sitting on 299 baseballs snagged in my lifetime. I wanted to be sure to pay close attention to the players on the field–who was hitting–who was shagging balls in the outfield–I wanted to know who Ball #300 would come from. Michelle and I arrived at the Home Plate Gate at about 4:40pm, saw some regulars we knew, jumped in line with them… and waited. At 5:03pm the gate opened and I ran inside and headed to left field.
I was hoping that Torii Hunter or Mark Trumbo would clear the bullpens and hit me my first ball of the day. As it turned out, Trumbo did hit one that cleared the home bullpen and most of the visitors’ bullpen… it hit the metal “roof” that shades the visiting players while they sit on the bullpen bench. I had the snag lined up but the ball fell just short of the front row, hit the roof, bounced awkwardly over me and to a guy right behind me. If he’d been five feet in any other direction I’d have been able to walk over and simply pick up the ball… Alas, #300 would have to wait a little longer.
I ran over to right field shortly after the second group of Angels finished hitting, knowing that there weren’t any batters that could hit many home runs in the last group I’d get to see. I ended up down by the foul pole as Peter Bourjous took his hacks. Bourjos, a righty, was going the other way and flicked a ball down the right field line that took a bounce on the grass, hit the wall in foul territory, and rolled toward the corner–where I leaned out over the wall and plucked it off the warning track in front of Section 1:34. It was 5:23pm on May 20th, 2011. And just like that–I’d snagged my 300th baseball! I remember thinking… at least I know who it came from… and it’s a home team player (who I know signs autographs).
When the Braves came out to throw and hit I ran up to the pavilion since they had a few lefties with some pop.
When I got out to the seats it was still fairly empty but it took about ten minutes for anything to come my way… and when Brian McCann started pulling the ball to right field I was all over a homer–until the last second when I realized it was going over my head. I turned my back to the field and watched the ball bounce off a seat two rows up and shoot to my left. I raced over a few seats, climbed over a row, saw Rob closing in, and reached out as the ball headed for the staircase… I missed it! But I didn’t give up and the ball bounced down a step and I grabbed it with my right hand a split second before Rob got to it. Ball #301. Here’s the view from near where I snagged the McCann ball.
It was marked PRACTICE. And after that the Braves (who were missing Jason Heyward) experienced a severe power outage. Not too many more baseballs made their way up to the seats and it got pretty crowded up there, too:
BP ended and I was ready (along with Chris) to race toward the Braves’ dugout. I blazed through two sections (and past my wife, reading a book on the Terrace Level) before my left leg caught a bit of an armrest. I was okay… until I took another step and realized I was losing my balance… I comically fell forward. The only thing hurt was my pride… and my hand–I suffered a scrape. And my watch got scratched up. Chris stopped to make sure I was okay (I was) but it meant we were a bit late getting to the dugout. I missed out on getting anything there.
Scraped (and with a bruised ego–it was a silly, embarrassing fall) I sat down next to Michelle. She was concerned that I was hurt–I was concerned that I’d only snagged two baseballs in an hour and a half. But at least I’d hit my milestone–the day couldn’t be considered a failure. When the Angels came out to warm up I tried to get a ball from them. I was in the third row as Maicer Izturis warmed up with Alberto Callaspo and when they finished I got Izturis to toss me the ball–but at the last second a fan in the second row stuck his arm up and deflected the ball to an old lady to the left, who promptly kept the ball (it did hit her on the head–I can’t blame her).
Cool uniforms, huh? Flashback Friday!
Next, Alexi Amarista and Erick Aybar finished throwing and I got Aybar to toss the ball my way–but get this: a fan in the first row jumped up and made a stellar bare-handed catch in front of me. How frustrating!!! Two warmup baseballs thrown to me… and not a one of them made it to my glove.
And no Braves played catch near their dugout before the first pitch–bummer. Michelle had eaten her dinner during BP and I’d scarfed mine down before pregame throwing–but we were still hungry so we vowed to try to find something healthy to eat–and we would end up succeeding AND finding a few new chow spots at the Big A.
But first, I tried for a third out ball from the Braves after the first–and failed.
We wandered the lower level concourse searching for some healthier than average ballpark food options–I learned you can get just about anything at a major league stadium nowadays. We found a nifty ice cream spot, a chicken sandwich booth, two different kinds of BBQ joints, and ended up choosing some edemame from a sushi place! It hit the spot… and we munched on it from our newly acquired seats in the right field corner:
If anyone had decided to pull a ball down the line in the middle innings I’d have been all over it! My wife and I were, like, the only people who seemed to care about the game. Everyone in the identical red hats in that photo above was there with some sort of conference/religious group/singles club. We couldn’t figure out what the organization was about–but it wasn’t a group of baseball enthusiasts, that’s for sure.
From this spot I got a shot of the video clip Michelle and I appear in on the jumbotron:
We’re dancing in our seats to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” and Michelle is blocking her face with her arm–which is holding up her Rally Monkey… in case you were wondering. I know you were.
The game was great from the point of view of an Angels fan! The Halos knocked Braves starter Tim Hudson out of the game in the fourth after he’d given up eight runs and Ervin Santana pitched a complete game four-hitter. The Angels won it, 9-0. A lot of folks stuck around for the fireworks but I still managed to sneak down to the dugout before the last out was recorded:
And did it help me snag a ball? Nope–I was stuck on two for the night. Oh, well… stil had a great time: Michelle and I watched the fireworks together:
And on our way out to the car she took a photo of me with my 300th baseball:
My next game would be at the Big A two weeks later…