I knew as I headed toward the stadium that I would only be staying for batting practice. I needed to head home to pack for an upcoming trip with Michelle. That said, I needed to have a great BP–I wouldn’t have any chances during the game because, well, I’d be at home. Also, the few pictures you’ll see were taken using my cell phone camera… so they aren’t great… but they’re better than nothing.
When I arrived I headed up to the front of one of the Home Plate Gate lines and met a few of the BP regulars there. When I ran in, I went straight to the right field seats and looked for Easter eggs. There weren’t any to be found but I saw Hank Conger chase down a fly ball in straight-away right field. Here was the view:
I called out for him to toss it up–and since I was the only fan in the seats at that point (and he was feeling generous, I suppose) he threw it my way… unfortunately, it fell short and bounced off the wall… it took a second try but I made a clean catch, thanked him, and was on the board for the day right as the second fan arrived in the stands. About five minutes later Bobby Abreu hit a homer that I ranged to my right to grab but it sailed over my outstretched glove, hit a row of seats behind me and rolled toward the staircase between section 239 and 240. I didn’t give up on it and snagged it barehanded as it rolled down a step. At that point there were still just a few fans around:
Both of the first two baseballs of the day were regular BP balls so I gave away the Conger ball to a young fan and kept the Abreu ball for me… hopefully I could get him to sign it at some point later in the season.
Once the Angels moved on to the next round of hitters I went over to the lower level seats near the right field corner. There, I was able to snag a foul ball sliced the other way by Erick Aybar (batting right-handed in preparation for facing lefty David Price that night). I gave that one away to a young fan near me shortly after grabbing it as it bounced through the third row of seats.
That would be all for the Angels’ portion of BP. When the Rays started warming up along the first baseline I called out to a few of them but didn’t snag anything until Andy Sonnanstine–one of the last to finish–threw me his warmup ball… and it was an Angels 50th commemorative! Bingo!
In the photo above, Sonnanstine is the Ray on the right.
I went up to the right field pavilion again but didn’t get anything there.
Ball #5 on the day would come via an unknown Rays right-handed batter and was a squibber down the line. I moved from one spot along the wall and leapt out over it, reaching way down to the warning track to grab it as it rolled by. It was a standard Selig ball and had a bunch of dirt and grass stains on it.
For some reason, I wrote down that my next snag occurred at 6:16pm. For reference, the gates opened at 5:00… the Angels hit until 5:25 or 5:30… the visitors hit until 6:25 or 6:30. There were about 15 minutes left in BP when I grabbed a blooper down in the right field corner by stretching out over the wall again. This one had a grass stain right on the MLB logo. That gave me six on the day. At that point I was wishing I could stay for the game to try to break my single-game Angel Stadium record of eight baseballs (which I’d done twice previously: on 5/14/10 and on 5/6/11). Alas, I knew I would be leaving right after BP… and I made the last few minutes count.
When batting practice ended I sprinted toward the Rays’ dugout and got a ball thrown to me by Bobby Ramos, the Rays bullpen coach. Some Rays fans to my left asked how I did that and asked if there was a chance they could get a ball. Well, he had a basket of ’em and Bobby is pretty generous. I called out to him again and asked for a ball for the middle-aged lady next to me (I didn’t verbalize the ‘middle-aged’ part). At that point she waved to Ramos and he tossed her a ball… well, technically he tossed it to me. I caught it, since I was wearing a glove, and immediately handed it over. I decided that I’d count the first Ramos ball (which was almost brand new) but not the second, as I wouldn’t have gotten it in my possession, even for that brief moment, if not for the lady nearby. It was hers from the start and that’s my rule. That left me with seven baseballs on the day and 307 in my lifetime as I headed out toward the gates.
It’s always strange to be leaving when so many other people are just arriving. Anyway, a great day at the stadium and I got to watch the game on TV as I packed my bags for our trip.