8/20/11 at Angel Stadium

The O’s were in town for the weekend and I was lucky to get to attend both the Saturday and Sunday games.  Hey–how many teams are referred to by just one letter?  The Orioles are often called the O’s.  The Mariners get called the M’s sometimes… any other teams?  In other sports, perhaps?  That just got me thinking about nicknames for teams.

Anyway, on this glorious Saturday the Angels (or Halos) would be taking on the O’s and I was ready for it.  Michelle was with me and I started the day off on a good snagging note–within minutes of entering the right field seats I caught a home run on the fly in the first row of section 238.  It was hit by a a lefty Halo–or at least a switch-hitting Halo.  It might have been Andrew Romine but I’m pretty sure it was Hank Conger.  Here’s the view from where I made the catch:

Actually, I was standing where the pudgy kid in the red jersey was standing… but, as you can tell, I took this photo a bit later.  Note that the O’s are on the field.

I wasn’t done with my Angel BP snagging though.  I got my second ball of the day from Hisanori Takahashi in RCF (between Section 239 and Section 240).  I’ve noticed that he almost always tosses a ball up when I ask him in Japanese.

A bit later I went down to the right field corner and once the Angels cleared the field and the Orioles started hitting I was able to scoop a baseball off the track that was hit by an unknown O.  Then, not a minute later Matt Wieters smashed a ball down the line that I was able to knockdown and then scoop off the track.  I celebrated the snag by giving away two previously snagged balls (from four days earlier) to nearby children and quickly wrote the number on the ball: #350 in my lifetime.  I’d been paying close attention to all of the batters to make sure I could identify the player who hit it–luckily, Wieters stands out.  There aren’t a lot of 6’4″ Caucasian hitters on the Orioles.

After my mini-milestone snag I went back up to the pavilion and ended up with another baseball and a bruise.  The Orioles were in the midst of their second to last group and a lefty (who I’m pretty sure was Josh Bell) smashed a drive that I knew was going to reach the seats.  I was on a staircase and moved back a couple aisles, then started drifting to my left through the fifth row.  As the ball descended I could see it was going to end up over my head by a foot or two but I didn’t have time to climb over a row of seats… I kept drifting and jumped up as high as I could.  I felt the ball hit the pocket of my glove but, unfortunately, my leg hit a seat on my way down and that threw my balance off.  I ended up falling to the left and back a bit and an armrest ended up getting me good right in between where my ribs stop and my spine starts in my mid-back.  Ouch!  Thankfully, since I fell and the point of contact was in between the breakable bones, nothing broke or cracked… unluckily, I got the wind knocked out of me and I instantly felt pain in that tender area of my back.  I answered a couple of, “Are you OK?” questions, gasping for air… and then I realized the ball was still in my glove.  At least I didn’t drop it during my crash landing.  Later I took a picture of the spot of the catch… it’s over on the left.

I took a seat after that one and, seeing I was going to be OK, got some friendly ribbing from some of the regulars and from a couple ushers.  It was all in good fun–I was happy a couple people complimented the catch I’d made while they teased me.  I jogged (at about half-speed) to the Oriole dugout at the end of BP but didn’t snag anything there.  I chose to get food with Michelle and rest for the next half hour.  I would end up being sore for several days (and I had a pretty big goose egg for while).  I snapped a photo of the recently-promoted Mike Trout as he played catch:

And when the game got underway we relocated to the first base side of the stadium with this view:

We had a great view of each right fielder and I was hoping for a shot at a foul ball.  One came pretty close but ended up in the section to our left.  Pitching wasn’t great on this particular evening, as Joel Piniero went six innings, giving up four runs, and Tommy Hunter (who recently was traded to the O’s from the Rangers) went six and a third innings and gave up six runs.

In the seventh inning, after trying all night at the Oriole dugout, I said to Michelle, “OK, give me a kiss for luck,” before running over there yet again.  She did and, well, Bobby Abreu flew out to left field for the third out and after Nolan Reimold caught the ball he jogged in toward the dugout and tossed it to me in the fifth row.  My wife’s pretty great to have around.  Here’s the ball:

I sure will miss these commemorative baseballs next year.  I was pretty excited to get this one so I told Michelle we should get a picture together to commemorate the occasion.  This was the result:

The Angels bullpen gave up two more runs in the 8th inning… and Michelle and I relocated to here in the 9th:

But the Angels couldn’t score, and neither team would score until the 12th!  That’s when Adam Jones gave the O’s an 8-6 lead in the top of the inning when he hit a Fernando Rodney offering into right field to score a run, and a second run came across on Torii Hunter’s throwing error.

So we went to the bottom of the 12th with the Angels down by two.

Kevin Gregg was into the game for Baltimore, and Erick Aybar began the rally with a single, and Gregg hit Trout in the back to put runners on first and second.  The Angels pulled within one on Josh Bell’s throwing error on a Conger bunt and then tied the game when Gregg walked Alberto Callaspo with the bases loaded, which happened right after I took this photo:

Then, still with nobody out, Abreu hit a sacrifice fly to center to win it for the Halos.  I was down behind the Oriole dugout, hoping for a toss from a player or coach, and as Adam Jones neared the stands he still had the ball he’d just caught (not a game-ending ball, since the run scoring was what actually ended the game, but it was the final out ball).  As he got to the infield dirt I called out to him for it and, since he was probably pretty upset about the game, instead of throwing it to the crowd, he solemnly tossed it a few feet behind him.  The ball sat there on the grass of shallow right field as the grounds crew came on to prepare for the postgame concert–and then one of them pocketed the ball.  Bah!

I headed up to sit with Michelle again, having been pleased by snagging a respectable six baseballs.  We stuck around for the mercyme concert:

It was a great game and we had a ton of fun.  With all the stress of moving into a new place we really appreciated being able to relax for a day and just hang out with each other and not worry about unpacking boxes, hanging stuff on walls, and all that other stuff that we’ve been dealing with lately.  We left before the band played their last song so that we could beat the traffic out of the lot.  As we walked out I gave another baseball away to a kid.  Before that, though, Michelle took a photo of me with the six baseballs I’d snagged.

The one I’m holding up is the gamer from Reimold.

The two of us got back to the car and were on the freeway heading home within five minutes.  We would be back again in about fourteen hours for a day game with Michelle’s sister and her boyfriend.  I’d gotten Club Level seats as a birthday gift and we were heading back for more baseball… what a wife she is to put up with all this.



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