This was a Monday game and my first of three consecutive Angels/Nationals tilts at my home ballpark. I expected smaller crowds than usual… except for the Tuesday bobblehead game. What I got was no real change in the usual attendance figures… I realize now–it’s summertime. School’s out and the Angels had just returned home from quite a long road trip. Here’s how day 1 shaped up:
I went by myself to the Monday game. When the Home Plate Gate opened I sprinted toward right field and was the first one to the seats. I scanned the rows for Easter eggs (which is usually a useless process in Anaheim) and found a ball under a seat in the first row of Section 240 (seen in the photo to the right), which is the section closest to center field. I also noticed that, while the Angels were hitting, the Nats’ pitchers were already out on the field, chatting and stretching.
The found ball was a training ball so my initial thought was that it came from the Nationals… which meant that some players must have been doing some early rounds of BP. I watched as the Angels were underwhelming in their rounds of batting practice. The one other ball I snagged while they were on the field was a standard Selig ball that I got from Hisanori Takahashi in the corner spot of Section 240 by asking him in Japanese. This was the first time I had gotten a ball from him since he’d become an Angel (though I did get one from him in New York via the same tecnique at my sole game at Citi Field back in April of 2010. Takahashi gave me a thumbs up after I caught the ball and yelled out, “Arigato!” Here’s my view from the corner spot:
After that I moved into straightaway right field for the Nationals. Part of the pitchers’ ending warmup was that they threw football-style passes to each other. And when they finished that I simply took note of the fact that they threw their leftover baseballs into the seats. The next ball I snagged was from fan-friendly Livan Hernandez over in the RF corner spot. I asked him for a ball in Spanish and the next one he fielded got tossed up to me. Pretty simple. That one was a training ball, too. The Nats’ hitters were blasting quite a few home runs during BP but most of them were going to center field. I left the pavilion and went down to the short wall in the right field corner. A few Nats tossed balls to kids but I was coming up empty until I moved closer to the infield and Jason Marquis threw me my fourth ball on the day. His throw was a bit short and the ball tipped off the end of my glove as I reached down over the wall… but luckily it settled right underneath me on the warning track and I was able to lean out and over the wall to pluck it off the warning track. I gave that ball (also a training ball) to a little boy to my right just a moment later.
I didn’t get anything at the visiting team’s dugout after BP and I spent the next twenty minutes watching as the presidents accompanied the Strike Force around the stadium as they threw T-shirts into the stands:
The presidents would be running their typical race during each game of the series. The Halos came out to warm up and I was close by. But Mark Trumbo kept the baseball he’d been using and Maicer Izturis tossed his a section to my right.
I tried to get a ball from the Nationals when they warm-up in front of their dugout but nobody threw… they just stretched and ran. I headed over to the Angel dugout before the game got underway, hoping for a third out toss.
Here was my view for the first pitch of the game:
Ervin Santana had a good start… and Laynce Nix grounded out to Trumbo at first base to end the top of the first. By the time Trumbo stepped on the bag I was already at the base of the stairs. As soon as Trumbo crossed the foul line I called out to him and he tossed me the game-used ball, a 50th Anniversary commemorative. And his throw was just high enough that I had to hop a little to get it… unaware that there was a hot dog vendor behind me, kneeling down while he was preparing a ballpark frank for a fan. I caught the ball and went to take a step back to regain my balance and almost tripped over the poor vendor. Luckily, I didn’t fall over him and he didn’t drop the freshly prepared dog. With that I ran over to the Nats’ dugout for the bottom of the first. And here was my view:
First baseman Michael Morse bounced the ball off the warning track and into the hands of a coach in the dugout. Weird… so I didn’t get a ball there. And since I already got a ball from Trumbo, I decided I’d spend my last inning at the game trying for a foul ball with this view:
Yes, I planned to leave after the second inning–and did so. But on my way out I gave away another baseball to a young fan. Then, before I climbed into my car I got this photo of me with the gamer I’d snagged:
Here’s a picture of the three baseballs I kept:
That would be the one from Takahashi, the one from Hernandez, and the one from Trumbo. Three different types of ball.
I watched the game from the comfort of my couch as the Angels beat the Nats 4-3 in ten innings via a walk-off single by Maicer Izturis.