It was a beautiful Friday in Orange County and I was off to the Angels game again. This time they’d be taking on the Orioles… and I was hoping for a Camden Yards commemorative baseball. Maybe a few of them would be in the mix. I arrived to the gates a bit later than I would have liked but luckily, a fellow BP regular let me slip into line with him.
I was off to left field as soon as the gates were open. I knew the Angels would be facing a lefty and that everyone (except Bobby Abreu) would be batting from the right side. I figured there was a pretty good chance someone would pull a ball or two down the line so I stayed near the foul pole.
The Machine (aka Albert Pujols) was taking his hacks and just as I thought to myself, “Man, it would be great to snag a ball from Prince Albert,” I got my chance. He hit a screamer down the third base line that bounced off the wall twenty feet from me and headed my way. I reached out and balanced myself on the wall–I was really hoping I didn’t misplay this one. I stretched as far as I could and nabbed it as it skittered across the warning track. Then, I lifted myself back to my feet and took a look at my prize from Pujols:
Awesome! Not a Camden Yards ball–but a commemorative baseball is a commemorative baseball. I won’t complain.
Unfortunately, that was the only ball I could get during the twenty or so minutes I saw of Angels BP. They ran off the field and I ran to the other side of the stadium, where the O’s had come out to warm up.
As Troy Patton finished throwing with a trainer I asked him for the baseball they had been using. He nodded to me and cocked back his arm to toss it my way but in that instant the trainer he’d been throwing with must have called his name. Patton turned his head to the side and then, sadly, tossed the ball to the trainer–who handed it to a kid in the first row.
Sweet! But now I was confined to the foul line so I could be in the vicinity when Patton fielded another ball… even though the Orioles had started taking their hacks. I was conflicted. I pretty much had a guaranteed snag coming my way–but I wanted to run up to the pavilion to try for batted balls. I decided to wait–hopefully my guarantee wouldn’t take too long. I tried to make a play on a foul that a righty flared off my way but an older fan grabbed it when it ricocheted right to him. The same thing had happened to me earlier on the other side of the stadium when Abreu had fouled one off. I ended up only being stuck for another five minutes because Patton finally fielded a baseball near the warning track and then, from seventy feet away, waved at me and I flapped my glove and he threw me a ball–that almost didn’t make it to me. I had to scoot over to the middle of the row I was in (about the sixth) and lean forward over the seats in front of me to make a basket catch. Apparently, that impressed Patton because he gave me a fist pump and yelled, “Nice catch!”
All right, Mr. Patton. I’m a fan of yours now–thanks for giving me credit… and a baseball (which you can see over on the left). And I looked at it hoping to see a commemorative logo but it was just a standard Selig ball. I started to run up right field at that point but then realized everyone in the current O’s BP group was right-handed. So, after longing to escape the foul line I opted to hang out there a bit longer, hoping for another shot at a foul ball. Well, wouldn’t you know it? A righty O fouled a ball toward me in Section 130… and I ran up the steps for it and snagged it as it bounced around. I ended up giving that ball away to a young fan… in a Cardinals shirt… weird. And he thanked me–then went to show his family–then came back a minute later and shook my hand and told me he really appreciated the kind gesture. Wow! You’re welcome, kid.
Off to right field I went where, inexplicably, I didn’t snag another baseball for thirty minutes. Ugh. The Orioles just didn’t hit many that way and I couldn’t get a single toss up from any pitchers I saw in the outfield. And I got shut out at the dugout after BP, too.
So… three baseballs. Not too shabby, but not great. About that time my lovely wife showed up and we ate dinner together in the seats. Then I tried to get a ball from each team at their dugout during pregame throwing… but failed. Out to left field I went, in search of my first game home run. Here was the view:
The pitching matchup was Jerome Williams against Brian Matusz. And Williams fared better than he did in the Bronx his last time out. He checked the Orioles on three runs in 6.2 innings… his farewell was a two-run homer he gave up to Nolan Reimold… but at that point the Halos had already put up six runs of their own, highlighted by a three-run double by Howie Kendrick (who I am confident will hit .320 this year). Reimold’s homer was the only one of the game at it went to right-center. Nothing close for me.
Since it was a Big Bang Friday–there would be fireworks after the game–Michelle and I relocated to the seats directly behind the Oriole dugout for the ninth inning.Jordan Walden shut down the O’s to earn his first save of the year. And, although I couldn’t convince Buck Showalter to toss me the lineup cards, I did manage to snag something else at the close of the game. I’d jumped into the first row and got the attention of the relievers as they walked in. Not wanting to repeat the circumstances of my last game, that ended with a fan reaching in front of me as the relievers entered the dugout and a baseball was tossed my way, when Tommy Hunter tossed me a ball before heading down the steps I leaned way out to catch it before anyone else could stick their hand in front of my glove. And just like that I upped my total to four. It was a rubbed up ball, too! Then I jogged back to Michelle and watched the fireworks–set to the music of The Beatles–light up the sky. Also, I have no idea what’s on that child’s head…
We booked it out of there right after the finale and were in our car and on the way home before most people had even left the stadium. I was thrilled to watch the Angels get a win. They have been off to a pretty poor start… and Texas has been winning left and right. Yikes! Sadly, as a buddy of mine mentioned on Facebook recently, he is tied with Albert Pujols in home runs this season. Prince Albert’s still sittin’ on a goose egg in that department. I figure he’s just waiting until I’m at another game… how considerate of him!
Hey, I’ve been to two Angels games and they’ve won ’em both. As of this posting I’ve been at 33% of their wins. And 50% of their home wins. I guess I should go to more games…
Next up–a trip to Dodgertown!