It was Dan Haren bobblehead night at the Big A and I was expecting a big crowd. I was happy to have Michelle with me at this game though–it had been over a month since the last time she’d come to a game with me.
My first ball came off the bat of Howie (I’ll never call him Howard) Kendrick. He sliced a ball down the right field line. I was able to position myself perfectly along the wall and scoop it off the warning track. In my notes I wrote: #317-scoop Kendrick hit RF corner pretty colors. The “pretty colors” thing came from the variety of markings on the ball. I took the following photo when I got home that night.
The photo doesn’t do it justice but it had green grass stains, reddish-brown warning track dirt, dark green markings from hitting the Anaheim seats, and a lighter brown marking (probably from pine tar/rosin), black bat marks, and blue markings from something else. What causes blue markings on a BP baseball?
After that snag I ran up to the pavilion to try to chase down a home run – and because the Nationals pitchers were starting to conclude their warmups – and I had a plan. Howie Kendrick smacked a homer the opposite way and I sprinted a section to my left… I couldn’t quite make the catch on the fly but the ball rattled around in the row in front of me and I grabbed it with my bare hand. That ball had a worn out practice stamp from where the bat had smacked it:
That would be the last ball I would get from the Angels… but the Nats pitchers ended their stretching and throwing drills and, knowing their pattern after watching them the day before, I called out to Sean Burnett from the pavilion corner:
In the above photo he’s the one doing sit-ups near the warning track. But a moment before he started those sit-ups, this happened:
Bam! A rubbed-up commemorative baseball. All I had to do was yell out, “Sean!” and flap my glove. He fired a strike right up to me. That was Ball #3 on the day.
Ball #4 on the day came off the bat of Danny Espinosa and he smashed a drive to Section 239 of the pavilion and I ran a section and a half to my right, watched the ball fly six feet over my head, and then snagged it from where it settled in a folded seat. It, too, was a commemorative ball. Score. Why were the Angels hitting/throwing me practice balls and the Nats were hitting/throwing me commemoratives?
Anywho, BP wound down and I didn’t snag anything at the dugout. I scarfed down a delicious chicken wrap while I sat with Michelle before pregame throwing, then I darted over to the third baseline and just missed out on getting Erick Aybar’s warmup baseball. But I got this photo that I really like of him catching a throw:
See the ball through the webbing of his glove?
We sat here for dinner and the game:
We moved progressively closer to the field as fans left and the night went on… but we watched as the Angels pounded out eleven runs against the Nationals. I can’t remember the last time I’d seen them score eleven runs! Midway through the contest the presidents ran their race…
And Teddy cheated, knocking down his counterparts…
But he got his comeuppance.
And Abe won.
In case you weren’t sure, George, Abe, and Tom started the race. Teddy was hiding in the right field tunnel. He jumped out, threw a shoulder, knocked down the other three, then did a silly dance before taking off for the finish line. Abe was close on his heels and when Teddy got about twenty-five feet from the finish line he fell down. And Abe passed him up for the win. Teddy thrashed around on the warning track for a good thirty seconds before retreating in shame.
I tried each inning to get a third out ball but Michael Morse kept bouncing the ball to someone in the dugout. He did it every time. The only chances I really had were when flyouts ended the innings and folks like Espinosa or Roger Bernardina ended up with the ball. I just wasn’t having any luck though.
Michelle snapped a photo of me (left) on my return trip from one such attempt. Notice that I am smiling despite being shut out since the end of batting practice on this particular night.
Gotta keep a good attitude! Also… I could really use a haircut.
And I took a few photos in order to create a panorama of our view through the majority of the game.
The Angels won it, 11-5, and we got home late… and had to go tot work early in the morning. But that didn’t stop me from staying up just a bit later to photograph the four baseballs I’d gotten at this game:
I would be heading back the next day!