6/29/11 at Angel Stadium

After snagging five baseballs on Monday and four baseballs on Tuesday I was at Angel Stadium for a day game after a night game on Wednesday.  When I approached the Home Plate Gate I saw plenty of people waiting to get inside the stadium.  The gates would open at 2:30pm for the 4:00pm game.  And I knew something all these people didn’t know.

When the stadium only opens 90 minutes before the first pitch, all the gates open at the same time.  For a night game the Home Plate Gate opens thirty minutes earlier than all the other gates.  On this day, however, I felt comfortable strolling by all these folks at 1:50pm and ending up here:

At the Right Field Gate… by myself… and I was the first guy in the door and the first one to get to the pavilion.  I got there just as the Angels cleared the field.  A couple of minutes later the Nats got set up for BP… yes, both teams help BP… and took a photo of the still relatively empty seats:

With only about an hour of batting practice to work with, I didn’t have high hopes of huge numbers at this game.  That worked out well for me because I didn’t snag too many baseballs.  My first ball on the day was tossed to me in Section 236 by reliever Ryan Mattheus.  It was a training ball.  After that… I ran around for the homers that were hit and tried to get another toss-up or two but I was always just out of position.  I didn’t snag a thing for the rest of BP.  And to make matters worse, the Nats end their BP session earlier than usual.  Typically, the visiting team ends BP at Angel Stadium thirty-five to forty minutes before game time.  Game time today? 4:05… so I was still in right field when the Nats started clearing the field at 3:20pm.  I sprinted out to the concourse, down to the seating bowl, through the aisle, and down the steps toward the dugout and got here:

Hey, kid–you’re in my photo.

Anyway, that’s the spot where coach Rick Eckstein tossed me a well-worn Angels commemorative 50th Anniversary ball for my second on the day.  How about that?

I took a much-needed break from the sun after getting Drew Storen’s autograph on my ticket for the game.  And I should note, at this point, that one reason I enjoy games in natural light is that my camera does well in natural light.  I’m always please with the quality of shots I get at day games.  Have you ever noticed that most of your baseball cards are daytime photos?

When the Strike Force came out to shoot T-shirts to fans (along with Hawaiian-shirted presidents) I ran up to the upper levels of the stadium to try to catch one.

I failed… but it was fun to try.

I went back downstairs as the Angels came out to stretch:

On my left, Mark Trumbo played catch with Howie Kendrick and Peter Bourjos.

On my right, Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo threw for a few minutes.

Trumbo kept his baseball (and then signed a baseball for me!)–and Aybar tossed his to my right.  I just wasn’t having much luck.  But I found a seat in the shade with this view for the first pitch of the ballgame:

Dan Haren was on the mound for the Halos.

And here’s Ryan Zimmerman at the dish:

I missed out on a third-out toss in the first inning from the Angels and after that I headed over to the first base side to try for one from the Nats.  I found a seat in the third row–in the sun–and decided to just stay there.

Jerry Hairston, Jr. got hit on the hand (he’d later blame the shadows and the 4:00pm start time) midway through the game:

He was replaced by Ian Desmond:

Haren was still going strong as he pitched to Pudge Rodriguez.

He’d end up going seven and a third innings… and the Angels got their only run of the game without getting a hit–a walk, an error, a groundout–and held a 1-0 lead when Haren was replaced by Scott Downs.

Downs got two outs and then fireballing closer, Jordan Walden, came in:

Walden had blown his last three save chances.  He got one out, then Zimmerman doubled, the ball just squeaking fair down the line.  I was here:

Zimmerman went to third on a ground out…

And went no further than that–Michael Morse struck out to end the game.

And I was still behind the Nationals’ dugout–they didn’t toss anything up.  Why would they?  They’d just been swept.  I zipped on home shortly after that.  The Halos were rolling–and I’d snagged eleven baseballs in the three game series.  Not too shabby.

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