Tagged: autograph

End of Season Update

Well, folks. The 2012 season has come and gone and, as you may have noticed, I pretty much stopped blogging midway through the season.  As it turns out, I suddenly was way over my photo allotment on this site (Thanks, WordPress!).  Without being able to upload photos, I felt that blogging about my further adventures was pretty pointless.

While I found myself with extra time (which came in handy since my wife and I adopted a dog in August), I sure do miss being a part of the blog community… I still read two blogs with regularity.  Those would be Zack Hample’s blog and Todd Cook’s blog.  So, I still get to learn about what other folks are up to and I enjoy going through the comments to see the branches of the ballhawking community extending through the blogosphere.

And I’m still keeping up with MyGameBalls.com, too.  All of my 2012 gamesd are updated there and you’ll notice that I started adding notes to each baseball that I snagged throughout the year.  Sort of like a mini-blog for each ball.  I ended up with 105 baseballs this season to bring my lifetime total to 490.  And I currently have a streak going… 121 games with at least one baseball pocketed as a souvenir!  Not too shabby for a guy who just started doing this in August of 2008.

Along the way I went to three different stadiums (none new) and snagged three new types of commemorative baseball: Dodgers, Orioles, and Red Sox.  I’m looking forward to the Astros being around in Anaheim often next season in hopes that I can snag an older 50th ball or an inaugural season ball (for their AL switch–if thosee exist).  Also, I ended up with quite a few autographs, both from mail-in submissions and in-person stuff.

I’ll be keeping the blog active but you’re not likely to see too many new posts from me going forward.  Keep checking MyGameBalls for details on my games, snags, and other cool stuff I might be up to, loyal readers.  Enjoy the off-season!

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5/5/12 at PETCO Park

By now you realize that I love an excuse to head down to San Diego and visit PETCO Park.  This time my excuse was that my wife had to work all day on a Saturday (and I actually had almost the whole day off) and the Marlins would be visiting the Padres–perhaps with some of their inaugural season at Marlins Park baseballs in tow.

I headed down the 5 freeway and got to the park at 3:00pm for a 5:35pm start.  The Park at the Park was open so I showed the staff my ticket, received my free Padres T-shirt, and jogged in.  When I finally saw the field from the bleachers just beyond the beach I was not pleased with what I saw.

The only activity was a random Marlin throwing over by the foul line… hundreds of feet away.  It turned out that since the game the night before went 12 innings, the Marlins decided not to take BP on the field… which meant the Padres would be taking the visitors’ BP slot.  Which meant that the only action on the field for the first 40 minutes I was there was a few Marlins pitchers throwing off in a corner… and that was as close as I could get.  Bummer.  And that player “closest” to me was Sandy Rosario.  I called out to him… a long shot… but he didn’t even look my way.

I went over to the Team Store to see if the cutout was accessible and to my shock and horror, it had been (as of this season) turned into a luxury suite.  Good for the folks that get to eat a buffet dinner and sit their… bad for a nobody like me who was trying to snag a baseball.

I ended up waiting for the rest of the stadium to open.  At 3:30pm I ran up the steps and darted down toward where the Marlin pitchers had been throwing.  But they were gone!  Just two coaches were left and when I asked them for a baseball (and they ignored me) I ran to the other side of the stadium because I saw a few Padres emerge from the dugout.  The cage was up so I knew they’d start hitting soon.  First though, they would throw.

I got shot down by the first pair of Padres I asked, but the second pair paid attention.  And after Nick Hundley threw, then signed a few autographs, I got him to toss me his warmup ball before he headed down the dugout steps.

The ball from Hundley commemorated a very special day that I didn’t even think would ever happen when I caught my first baseball at a game seven years ago.  As he tossed the ball to me and I caught it… I had officially snagged at least one baseball in each of my last 100 games attended.

Whew!

After that I watched as baseball after baseball was NOT hit to the seats–anywhere.  I think there were maybe three home runs during the 30 minutes of Padre BP that I saw.  It had started out as a pretty frustrating day.  The guys who were using commemorative baseballs had barely been on the field and the guys who decided to hit weren’t putting anything anywhere near the fans.Jeff Suppan acted like he was going to toss me a ball out in right field–but never did.  And the Padres ran off the field with me still stuck on one baseball.

Eventually, I went over to my seat.  And taped to it I found a sign that basically said, “Hey–come get a prize from us–you’ll just have to let us try to get you to buy season tickets.  Thanks!  -The Padres.”

Well, I had twenty minutes to kill before any players would take the field for pregame throwing so I went–found the ticket representative, told them I didn’t want season tickets, and got my prize.  Know what it was?  It was a Padres hat–what do you think of that?  I got a shirt and a hat–a whole Padre ensemble, just for being at a game on Cinco de Mayo.

Now, if I could just snag another ball…

At about 5:20 a few Marlins started warming up down the third base line.Among them was Hanley Ramirez (just out of frame to the left in the above photo).  I tried to figure out if he had a commemorative ball in his hand.Try as I might, I couldn’t snag another ball.  But I did snag something pretty sweet, an autograph from Han-Ram on a 2007 Upper Deck card!

So, with that–I returned to my seat.  Which just happened to be here:

Yep, just hours before the game I picked up a seat from StubHub for thirty bucks.  Not too shabby, huh?  And my seat, not just useful for the view, paid dividends early on.  See, when Gaby Sanchez took the throw from starter Mark Buehrle when Chase Headley hit a soft grounder back to the mound, I stood up in my seat and yelled, “Hey, Gaby–right here!”  I waved my glove and he lofted the ball to me.Easy as that.  Everyone around me was pretty astonished.  And I just sat back down and went back to watching the game.  It was a great game.

It’s crazy–when you actually have a fantastic seat you’re not tempted to move from it.  Instead… if you’re me… you take pictures.  Like Clayton Richard delivering pitches:And Mark Buerhle doing the same…Two lefties battling it out.  And here’s Giancarlo Stanton getting ready to bat:

I mean, I could hear Ozzie Guillen talking to his players as they returned to the dugout.  I could tell when a pitch was outside without looking–I head the ump calling, “That’s outside.”   I mean, look, I could see all the gunk on Han–Ram’s helmet:

And the groovy patch the Marlins players and coaches are wearing on their uniforms this year.And when hunger overcame me… I ran to get a pretzel and a beverage and ran back to my seat… I didn’t want to miss anything.  Like Chase Headley getting the sign from his third base coach:

Buerhle was mowing down the Padres.  He’d end up giving up just one run on five hits and pitching his first complete game since 2010.  And Giancarlo (formerly Mike) Stanton CRUSHED a solo homer in the ninth which made the score 4-1.  And I took a couple of nifty action shots as he rounded third and then got back to the dugout:

Feel free to click to make them larger.  I hope you all recognize how much that high five picture makes me laugh.  Like, Stanton is trying to make it seem like he’s jumping because Emilio Bonifacio needs to jump just to high five him… but Stanton’s totally on the ground.  But Bonifacio  is jumping as high as he can.  Ha!

OK, no one else… fine.

Like I said, the Stanton shot made it 4-1.  That’s where it would stay.  Man, Buehrle’s good–and quick.

I’d been speaking to a couple of families around me in the seats throughout the game.  One father and son duo was great.  I chatted with them both about how I knew what to do in order to get a ball… and advised the boy about the umpire tunnel.  In case you couldn’t tell… it was immediately to my left from my seat.  Here’s a good view of it:

I recommended that the little guy position himself near there, call out the umpire’s name (“Gary,” in this case), and hope there was a ball or two to be given… and in the ninth inning we made our move.  He to the ump tunnel and me to the dugout.  Here was my view just before the final out of the game:See the staircase on the left?  I planned to run down it to an opening right at the dugout.  The usher (who was strict, even in the ninth) wouldn’t let me go past him until I clearly told him I wasn’t going to compete with the little kids for an ump ball… I told him instead I was planning to go straight to the dugout.  He finally let me through.  As soon as Buerhle finished off his complete game I got myself in position at the dugout–but didn’t snag a darn thing.  I was stuck on two baseballs for the whole day.  My poor showing didn’t hamper my giving spirit though, and I flipped the Hundley ball the the young fan at the umpire tunnel after I noticed the umps all ignored him.

As it turns out, the Long Haul Bombers would be holding a softball mashing tournament round.  So, as soon as the Marlins were all in the dugout I bolted for right field… and I took up a spot here:

It’s right near where I caught one of these softballs the year before.  Sadly though, even though I ran from right to left and back a couple of times… I couldn’t snag another ball.  As I left the stadium, Michelle called me to say she was getting off of work–so I booked it to the car and made the drive up the 5 to Orange County.  A free hat, a free shirt, a great seat, two baseballs, and an autograph… not a bad haul.

4/16/12 at Angel Stadium

FINALLY!

My first game of the 2012 season had finally arrived.  It would be the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (boy, I hate that name) against the Oakland Athletics.  Jered Weaver would be pitching against Brandon McCarthy and I would be there, first in line, ready to go, when the gates opened up.  I was psyched.  I packed my bag for the first time–team rosters, bottled water, my camera, and the assorted accouterments associated with attending an Angel game… or any MLB game, I suppose.  I small-talked with a few of the Angel Stadium BP regulars while I waited.  Rob, Eli, Terry, Lou… a bunch of guys I’d have never know had it not been for this fun hobby I developed way back in 2008.

The security guards arrived and got the gates prepped… and I talked to them about the new rule at Angel Stadium that any security personnel that are on the field need to wear helmets.  Does anyone know if this is all across MLB?  And they weren’t even cool MLB helmets… they were, like, bicycle helmets.  I wish I’d taken a picture.  UPDATE:  Haha… I did!  Here’s TJ (the Angels Strength and Conditioning Coach) and Torii Hunter and Howie Kendrick joking about the stylish new trend:

Well, I got my bagged checked… and headed inside to the folks with the ticket scanners.  All this anticipation, I’m the first one through the gates, and, wouldn’t you know it?  The lady I went to was having scanner problems… ugh.  I watched as people in other lines flooded in past me before snatching my ticket from her and thrusting it into the next ushers face and telling him, “Hers isn’t working.  Please scan my ticket.”  He did–I was direct but polite, after all.  And I took off running.  As I rounded a corner on the Terrace Level I could see a couple of guys were already scouring for Eater eggs in the right field seats so I decided to change my strategy.  I took a hard left down some stairs and that’s when I looked at the field for the first time.  It was beautiful–perfectly manicured, actually–but there was something very wrong.

The hometown Halos weren’t hitting.  There wasn’t a single Angel on the field.  As it turns out, they’d gotten in from New York at about 3am so they had decided not to do a full BP session.  I quickly changed tactics and ran straight down to the front row along the third base line as the A’s started to play catch.  Virtually the whole team was out there–and a few of the coaches were near the dugout playing catch, too.  As I knew the coaches would finish first, I got the approval of an usher to head over there to ask for a ball.  A few moments later I got my first baseball of the season tossed to me by an A’s coach–not sure who–but it wasn’t Chili Davis, Mike Gallego, Bob Melvin, Tye Waller, or Chip Hale.  So that leaves Rick Rodriguez, Chris Pittaro, and Curt Young.  I’m going to go with Rick Rodriguez.  So, thanks, Rick!  He tossed it to me a it skipped off the roof of the dugout.  I bobbled it to my feet and then quickly snatched it up.  I’d say that is about as close to an error as I want to get all season long.

As the players finished up their throwing and began to make their way to the cage I got baseball #2 on the day from Josh Reddick after he finished playing catch.  He lobbed the standard Selig my way in the second row of Section 128.  Eric Sogard (who has been on the A’s roster for three years but only made the Opening Day starting lineup this season) started signing autographs and I got him on my ticket.  My next baseball came my way just a few minutes later as the pitchers finished throwing.  Fautino de los Santos hooked me up with a ball in Section 127–I didn’t know who he was at the time but checked through some photos online to confirm it was him.

After that I ran up to the pavilion in right field with the hope that the A’s (and their several lefties) would show some pop.  It’s clear that’s not what they were planning on this day, however, as only about four or five home runs came nearby–and I was out of range on all of them.  I did manage to get a brand new pearl of a baseball from Tyson Ross while I was standing in the third row of Section 239… and then the A’s finished hitting at 6:12pm… much earlier than I’d expected.  I wasn’t able to get to their dugout in time so I sat down, made some notes, got some water, and waited for the Angels to take the field.

First uniformed Angel siting of 2012:

Once they did come out to get loose, I saw Howie Kendrick’s son getting handed over to his dad from the seats–he wandered around on the field a bit and greeted the players.  My coolest photo of the night?  Howie’s kid giving Torii Hunter a high five:

But I couldn’t get a warmup ball from the Angels–nor could I get one from the A’s about ten minutes later after the national anthem.  I checked out the concourse of the stadium and notices the Halo front office had upgraded a few things… like these digital menu boards in the concession stands:

Six bucks for peanuts?  Yeesh–I buy ’em for two bucks a bag at the grocery store.  It was about this time that Michelle, who had been at work, arrived at the stadium.  I met her at the Left Field Gate and we found seats in the left field corner.  My goal this year is to catch a home run.  It’s something I’ve never done and I figure that 2012 is the best year to do it.  Last season, around the Big A, I was simply focused on snagging as many of those commemorative 50th anniversary balls as I could.  They’re still using some of those in BP, I’d learn, but this year–it’s all about the game home run ball.  And Albert Pujols was still sitting on zero home runs for the year–maybe I could catch his first!  Here was our view:

See that aisle with the vendor in the yellow?  I was ready to jump up and run down it with each pitch.  We stayed in the same spot throughout the game, chatted, ate food that we’d brought into the park (I’m so glad the Angels still let you do that), and watched the action. Kendrys Morales hit his first home run since May of 2010–a three run shot that just barely cleared the fence in left-center.  Albert hit a drive to the warning track… but didn’t go yard.  The A’s just couldn’t muster any kind of rally.  We got to see a pretty cool moment: Jered Weaver’s 1,000th career strikeout.

It was Josh Reddick in the sixth inning, in case you were curious.

After having not scored since that Morales homer in the first inning, the Angels were able to put up three more runs in the eighth.  The healthy 6-0 lead was plenty for Weaver, who was excellent yet again and went six and two-thirds innings, and three relievers.

Michelle had to leave around 9:15 to head home so I walked her to the gate and we parted ways (it was still only 3-0 when she left).  I returned to the seating area, stayed in the outfield seats for a bit longer but then decided to move.  After a half-inning behind the Halo dugout, I ended up behind the Oakland dugout for conclusion of that evening’s contest:  And when Erick Aybar grounded out to first baseman Daric Barton to end the 8th, I was about five rows back and he lofted me ball #5 on the evening.  I looked closely at it and realized he must have kept the gamer and tossed my the infield warm up ball because it was pretty beaten up.

LaTroy Hawkins came in for the ninth inning and, though he loaded the bases, closed out the game with the shutout in tact.

And I snapped photos of all the guys on defense, including the one below that I really like of Pujols and Kendrick ready for a pitch to be delivered… Kendrick’s on his toes with anticipation.

I asked manager Bob Melvin for his lineup cards but he ignored me… and the A’s relievers came in from the bullpen and Brian Fuentes had a baseball in his pocket.  I shouted to him, “Hey, Brian, could you toss me a baseball, please?”  He got a few steps closer, lobbed one my way… and a female A’s fan to my right leaned out and nabbed it just an inch in front of my glove.

Wow–I guess I should have been more aggressive.  I was a little bummed about that one but I was pretty pleased with my haul.  I ended up giving away the de los Santos ball to an usher who said she’d be certain to find a deserving youngster to give it to… and I headed home.

A pretty darn good first game of the year–it felt good to knock the rust off.  Here are the five baseballs (I gave the one away at my most recent game–so I still had it at this point):

I’d be heading back to see the O’s and Angels on Friday.

3/27/11 at Angel Stadium

This would be quite the full day.

It started with me (and Michelle) waking up at the crack of dawn and heading up to the stadium.  March 27th was the day of the Angels 5k and Fun Run at the stadium.  I’s signed up at the beginning of the month for the 5k and I’d been training for it for a couple of weeks.  I’ve always enjoyed running and wanted to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself.  We arrived at ten minutes to seven and Michelle decided she would stay in the car while I ran.  I couldn’t blame her–it was early and the weather was less than ideal.  There was rain in the forecast and I was just hoping to get through the run before it got too wet.

I started about 500 people back and, though I can’t show you through pictures (because I was running), there were easily four times that many people there.  I had a clip-on transmitter on my shoe that would track my time–as I crossed the starting line the clock already had counted up to about a minute… and when I crossed the second checkpoint (at the halfway mark) the clock was around 16 minutes… and when I approached the finish line the clock was ticking up toward 30 minutes.  I crossed the line at 30:03… my goal had been to come in under 30 minutes and since I knew I could easily take a minute off my time (based on how long it took to get up to the starting line) I was thrilled!

I drank some water, got a free hat and a Clif bar, and headed back over to the car to find my wife.  When I got there she took a photo of me post race:
post 5k run.JPGOh, yes… I grew a beard over the off-season.  It has since been shaved off… sorry to scare you there, readers.

At that point it was about 7:45am and Angels FanFest was set to open up at 8:00… but I’d promised Michelle coffee and, quite frankly, I needed a rest.  We headed to Starbucks–I changed clothes once we got there–we got breakfast and waited for the rain to pass… it had started drizzling right when I got back to the car after the race.

At around 9:30 we headed back to the stadium for FanFest.  It was a bunch of vendors, autograph stations, merchandise booths, and photo ops.  We each got autographs from Chris Pettit and Andrew Romine and then we stood in a long line to get Hank Conger’s autograph:
autograph line 3.27.JPGWhile we were there we noticed you could get your photo taken with the Rally Monkey:
rally monkey rubcube 3.27.JPGSo we stood in that line, too, and got this picture:
mandmwithrallymonkey1.JPG–which I was kind of disappointed in once I saw it.  I mean, we’re like six feet from the monkey!  C’mon!  At least we look cute.  That monkey is licking the mini bat at this point, I think.

Anyway, we left FanFest after an hour or so–and went to get snacks for the game that afternoon.  We’d need to be back by noon to get free parking for the game and, sadly, we found out once we were back with our snacks that the gates wouldn’t open until 1:00.  Bah!

So I ran inside at 1:00 to see the Padres on the field taking BP:
first view of field 3.27.jpgAnd after a few minutes I convinced someone wearing number 95 on the Padres to toss me a baseball–I was on the board for the day.  Here’s the guy who threw it (left) and the spot where I caught it (right):
padre 95 1.JPGwhere i caught the first ball 3.27.JPGWhile I took those photos I heard someone yell, “Comin’ in!” and I looked up, then to my right as a ball smacked off a seat ten feet away from me… surprising since a righty was up to bat.

Well, I ran over and snagged that ball for my second ball on the afternoon.  It was hit by this guy:
righty padre 1.JPGrighty padre 2.JPGAny ideas?  Let me know…

spot of 2nd ball 3.27.JPGWell, here’s the spot where I grabbed my second ball of the day–and the only one that got hit up to the pavilion while I was there.  And that was pretty much it for BP.  Not bad–two baseballs in about 30 seconds.  I only had about 15 minutes of batting practice to work with so I can’t
complain.

I met up with Michelle and hung out with her for a bit–and then headed toward the Angel dugout when they came out for pregame throwing.  It was nice to see the field up close.
third base panorama pregame 3.27.jpgI got shut out there but I went to the Padre dugout after that and got my third baseball of the day thrown to me by Logan Forsythe near the camera well.

And then we enjoyed the game from right behind the Padre dugout:
haren izturis leg kick.JPGHa–they’re both kicking their leg…

Eventually, the folks who actually had those seats arrived and we relocated to the outfield with this view:
home run seats 3.27.JPGI was hoping to get a home run but the only homers hit this day would go to center field.  Bummer.

Toward the end of the game, with the score 9-2 Angels we moved here:
first base panorama 3.27.jpgAnd as the Angels wrapped up the victory I got behind the Padre dugout to try to snag a postgame baseball… but all the Padres went into the dugout without tossin’ up a thing… except for the last player to leave the field.  A short, Latino pitcher from the bullpen who I later identified as Samuel Deduno tossed me a rubbed up baseball as he headed down the steps for my fourth baseball on the afternoon.

And, though it took him several tries, a nice, elderly usher took a photo of Michelle and I as we left the park.
mandmpostgame.JPGIt had been a long day–lots of running–and we were both exhausted.
4 baseballs 3.27.JPG
Not a bad start to the season,,. a good run, four baseballs, three autographs, some swag from FanFest, an Angels win, and a lot of fun.

And later that night I checked online to see my official results from the 5k… I came in at 28:46, not fantastic, but I ran faster than I expected!  It would be over a week before my next game, with the Angels heading out on the road.  I was anxious for them to get back because I knew that when they did return they’d be using commemorative baseballs and hopefully some of those would have found their way into the BP buckets…

My next game would be on April 9th.  More to come soon, loyal readers, and happy 2011 baseball season to all of you.

8/14/10 at Angel Stadium

The day began with an autograph session with Howie Kendrick at an AT&T store in Seal Beach.  Michelle and I each got him twice, and I knew I’d be giving one baseball I had signed away to a friend of mine who works for a charity to fight Huntington’s Disease.
kendrick signing 8.14.JPGHowie was very nice in person and I really liked his shoes… we chatted about them for a minute as he signed my second autograph.  Thanks, Howie!

joe in camaro.JPGWe ended up with free tickets to this game thanks to Michelle’s uncle, Joe, who met us in Irvine with his son and then we all drove to the game together nice and early for batting practice.

When we arrived (and got to park in super-close Diamond Parking) there were booths being set up for an animal adoption event and for Chevy.  As it turns out, if you test drove a Chevy you got swag… including vouchers for Angels tickets.  I was all over it–so was Joe.  And he drove the new Camaro–it was pretty sweet.  I ended up with a cap, a keychain, and two Angels tickets.  Score!  It was almost time for the gates to open:
8.14 outside stadium.jpgThey all decided to check out the animal adoption booths (which you can see to the right in the above photo) while I headed in for BP.  My first ball on the day was a scoop off the warning track.  Kendrick sliced one that bounced on the grass near the foul pole and I was able to jump out over the wall and snag it as it rolled by.  It had the word “PRACTICE” stamped on the sweet spot.  Bleh.

I headed up to the pavilion after that and got my next baseball from Mike Napoli.  Nap blasted one to right-center and I ran across half a section, down to the front row and reached out over the wall to catch it on the fly.  Here’s the spot where I caught it:
spot of napoli catch.JPGThe kids in that photo were pretty excited on my behalf… they hadn’t even seen the ball coming and I snagged it three feet to the left of the smaller boy.  It was a pretty nice snowcone catch–again, the ball had a practice stamp.

That was it for Angels BP.  For the Blue Jays, I played the area behind the bullpens in left field.
8.14 behind bullpens.JPGI knew there was a lot of right-handed pop in the Toronto lineup and I hoped that they’d knock a few out that far.  Most of the home runs they hit went into the bullpens–but thanks to Casey Janssen, a SoCal native who was talking to the woman in the red shirt in the above photo, I got Ball #3 on the day.  A Blue Jay righty (I don’t know who) smacked one toward the bullpen.  I yelled to Janssen, who was in the ‘pen, “Heads up!”  He turned, found the ball as it descended, and caught it.  He’d already given one to the lady he was talking to so, as a way of saying thanks to me for warning him, he flipped me the ball.  The toss-up was, if my records are correct, my 100th ball of 2010!  Many thanks to Mr. Janssen.  BP kind of died after Jose Bautista, Vernon Wells, and Aaron Hill hit.  I spent the last round in right field–but didn’t snag anything there.

I ran down toward the dugout, passing Michelle and her family in the process (they’d been hanging out in some shaded seats for the end of BP) and when I got to the Blue Jay dugout I got Ball #4 from John MacDonald as he headed into th dugout.  It had a cool black smudge on it.

The rest of my party moved to our ticketed seats after that and I continued to hang out near the field for Blue Jays warm-up throwing–but I didn’t snag another ball there so I sat down with the rest of the family.  Remember how I said they were awesome seats?  This was our view:
view from our seats.JPGBAM!  So cool!  And we were on the aisle.  I told Joe, “These are the seats I have to sneak down to when Michelle and I usually come to games here.”  He’d gotten them from someone at his work–so thanks to Joe and the folks he works with!

That’s Mike Napoli scoring on a two-run home run by Hideki Matsui.  That was in the second inning so the Halos were off to a good start!  I was thrilled to be in great seats that were actually OURS!

I took some photos of the action:
8.14 hunter ab.JPGcallaspo and abreu on base.JPGAnd of my 100th ball of the season, held up over the spot where I snagged it:
100th 2010 ball.JPGAnd it was 5-0 after four innings.  The Angels would
go on to win, 7-2.

Janssen got into the game that night:
janssen 8.14.JPGHe pitched a scoreless inning.  Good for him!

And Bobby Wilson, our backup catcher, ended up with two home runs and five RBIs on the night!  Wow!  It was a good atmosphere, pleasant company, and a great game to watch.

In the ninth inning I positioned myself right over the Blue Jay dugout and as the Jays retreated into the dugout someone (I think it was Shaun Marcum) flipped a ball up over the dugout unexpectedly.  I didn’t catch it in my glove… I caught it with my glove, pinning it against my chest… luckily it didn’t hurt and that gave me five baseballs on the night.  A pretty good haul–after we left the stadium we treated Joe and his son, Joey, to frozen yogurt at our favorite place and then they were on their way back home.

6/29/10 at Angel Stadium

Today would be a special day.  I mean, every day that I head to a big league ballpark is special but on this day I’d be attending the game with Michelle and her sister (Crystal) and her sister’s boyfriend, Jeff.  And this would be Jeff’s first baseball game… ever.

The day started out like most game days for me.  I left my place around four o’clock and got to the stadium–then I waited for the gates to open.  While I was waiting I saw a young kid named Kevin (who is a regular commenter on this blog) who I’d first met in person back on May 28th.  We chatted while we were in line together and exchanged strategies.  Kevin, I should mention, was decked out in full Rangers gear–and he’s a kid and he knew what he was doing–he ended up doing very well for himself, snagging-wise.

The rest of my group would be arriving after batting practice was done (Jeff had class and Michelle had work).  I made the most of my time spent alone at BP.  It was fairly lonely up in the right field seats.
6.29 bp rf vlad homer.jpgJust the way I like it.  Lots of room to maneuver and run around.  See that red box in the above photo?  That’s important later on, I promise.

Unfortunately, I didn’t snag a single baseball through the first round of batting practice.  For the second round I stood at the wall near the foul pole in right field and waited.  After a few minutes a scorcher hit the wall to my left and I planned to play the ricochet.  It came toward me, I jumped out onto the wall… and the ball went into my glove but I couldn’t trap it… it rolled a foot away.  I figured I could still reach it so I stood up and then tried again, keeping my glove on the end of my hand to give myself another couple inches… I stretched out… the ball was just a few inches away.  And then I felt something hit my legs and I panicked–was someone pushing me over onto the field?!?

“Whoa!  Hey!” I yelled.  Then I heard a voice saying, “I got you, it’s okay.”

I didn’t really need to be saved–but this person had probably thought I was falling over… anyway, with this new found support I easily scooped up the ball and crawled back to the wall to stand up again.  When I did I looked behind me and saw young Kevin’s dad.  He’d been the one that had “saved” me.  I said thank you and gave him a high five–then I looked at the ball.  It was another Practice logo ball and I had an idea of who I could give it away to when I heard a voice behind me…

“Excuse me, sir,” the stern voice said, “Sir–can I see your ticket?”  The SCS security guy that had been standing in the right field corner had come over.  I told him that of course he could see my ticket.  How weird.

During batting practice you can go anywhere on the Field Level that you want at Angel Stadium except behind the dugouts.  I showed him my ticket–he’d asked for Kevin’s dad’s ticket and he had handed it over, too.

The security guy examined our tickets and then told us what sections we were seated in and said, “Thank you, gentlemen, now head back to your seats.”  Wha–?  I knew he was just power-tripping but I nodded and said, “OK.”  I didn’t want to cause a scene… thought the security guy seemed to want to.  As I turned to leave he said, “Hang on.  The ball.”

Then he held out his hand.  He wanted the baseball.  I, as innocently as I could, asked, “Why?” because, even though I wasn’t planning on keeping this one, I wanted to know what he wanted it for.  His reply:

“For being unsafe on my field!”  He actually yelled at me at this point.

He then went into a rant about how I was endangering myself and
others and how this was for my own good and his job was to keep me
safe… a lot of BS, in my opinion.  Again, not wanting to cause a
scene, and knowing the All-Star Game was right around the corner, I
complied.  I handed the ball over to him (I’m still counting it).  And
if you ever see me in person you can ask me all about the minute details
of the interaction but I’ll simply state here that I feel I was treated
poorly and I will be filing a complaint.

I took a photo of him later as the grounds crew was watering the infield:
jerk security.JPGI was hoping to get a badge number or something… I will update this blog if anything else happens involving this guy.

And I think he kept the ball–I didn’t see him throw it back on the
field.  And he kept a young fan from getting a souvenir.

Well, I headed up to the pavilion again (and not back to my assigned
seat) as the Rangers took the field.

After the Rangers’ pitchers were done throwing I noticed C.J. Wilson
fielding in right and as he picked up a ball from the warning track I
asked him to throw it up.  He said, “Sure, it’s one of the Angels’
balls.”  And then he threw it five feet over my head… a big dude
behind me got it and C.J. yelled up, “Aww, c’mon.”  Like I should have
made the play–pitchers have trouble accurately throwing baseballs
eighteen feet up right over their heads–but he was cool about it and
gave me the next ball he fielded…

… and that was number two on the day… and another Practice logo
ball.  Hmmm…
Here’s the spot where I caught the toss up:
wilson ball 6.29.JPGAnd here’s the ball, nestled safely in my glove:
wilson ball 2.JPGRemember how I mentioned that the Torii Hunter BP home run I caught on
the fly at my last game before this one was the first ball I’d caught on
the fly in a month… well, it wouldn’t take me another month to catch another one.

I was playing plenty deep for Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero was hitting right after him.  For Vladdy, I moved close to center field since he’s right handed.  I knew he could hit them out to left–but I was hoping that he would go opposite field.  He did… big time.

I caught the Hunter homer in the third row of Section 240–Vlad launched one to right center field and I moved back and to my left and managed to catch a homer off his bat in the ninth row of Section 239.  That’s even farther from home plate (well over 400 feet) and even more toward right field.  Wow.  And that’s why the red box in the first photo is important–that’s where I caught the ball.  You can click on the photo to enlarge it if you want.  It’s fine… I’ll wait.  That’s a long opposite field home run.

OK.

After he hit, Vlad took some fly balls in the outfield and got a nice ovation from the fans–and when he finished he signed some autographs over on the foul line.  Classy.  He’s having a great year and all the Angels fans appreciate the work he put in for our team from 2004 to 2009.

I ran down to the dugout at the end of BP and tried to get a ball from Johnny Narron–and noticed Kevin right next to me–and Narron threw the ball to Kevin.  If only I were fifteen years younger!  Aagh!

frandsen waiting for catch.JPGOver on the Angels’ side of the field, Kevin Frandsen waited for somebody to play catch with…

My fourth ball of the day would come from Angel shortstop, Erick Aybar.  There are always a ton of fans near third base before a game in Anaheim but they almost all are trying for autographs.
frandsen aybar catch 6.29.JPG
I was a few rows from the wall as Aybar and Frandsen played catch and I simply yelled out, “Erick!  Right here!” as loud as I could when they finished up… and held up my glove.  He tossed that ball in the above photo to me for Ball #4 on the day.  Michelle, Jeff, and Crystal still hadn’t arrived at that point so I went to find a seat near the Rangers dugout.

Lucky for me, Vladdy signed some more autographs before the game and I was near the camera well at the time, just behind first base.  A lady and another guy were trying to get Vlad’s attention and I told them, “Maybe if we all try at the same time.”  They nodded and the girl counted off: 1, 2, 3…

“VLADDY!”

It worked!  He looked over and the girl tossed him a baseball and a pen–then I tossed him a baseball and since he already had the girl’s pen he didn’t take my blue ballpoint.  I got the autograph–but it was less than ideal… but I was still thrilled.  He’d signed the ball I’d caught just a half hour earlier!
guerrero ball 1.JPGI should mention that I’d never gotten a ball from Guerrero before–in all his years as an Angel he hit before the gates opened… so I never saw him during BP.  Woo!

The game started soon after that and I watched the top of the first from this vantage point:
view for first inning.JPGIan Kinsler hit a solo home run in the first so I tried for a better shot at some points in the myGameBalls scavenger hunt:
kinsler homer.JPG
Got it!

And Vladdy got a standing ovation when he stepped into the box–then hit a single.
vlad first ab.JPGvlad single.JPGAnd then the rest of my group arrived!  I ran up to the main concourse toward center field to meet them and then we grabbed food.  As usual, we nabbed seats in the Terrace Level to eat our dinner and we caught up.  This was our view of the action:
6.29 terrace panorama.jpgAfter about the fourth inning or so we all decided to go on a ballpark tour.  Mostly, this was for Jeff’s benefit because he’d never been to Angel Stadium or ANY stadium before.  We began by heading up to the View Level.  We then headed toward the outfield and down some stairs to the Budweiser Patio in deep, deep right field.  Then we walked toward center field, down a ramp, then grabbed a fantastic churro from a concession stand, and ended up in center field near the rock pile:
view from rocks 1.JPGAngels/Rangers on your left… Dodgers/Giants on your right.

After that we walked over to left field:
6.29 lf panorama.jpgAnd then we walked toward third base, down through the tunnel to the Field Level concourse, behind home plate (and past the World Series trophy) before coming out on the first base side on the Field Level.  We sat here:
6.29 field level panorama.jpgAnd watched the last few in
nings.  The Angels were winning but the Rangers had made it a close game–it was 6-5 Angels when we sat down.  And that’s the way the score stayed.  It was a great win over our division rivals and, even though they’d lost, I headed down to the Ranger dugout after the game.  As the players retreated to their clubhouse nobody tossed a baseball up but the bullpen guys were still making their way in.  As they got close I held up my glove and asked for a ball.  One of the Texas relievers had a ball in the pocket of his sweatshirt–but looked to my right.  I turned… there was Kevin.  He got that toss-up, too… which I could’ve easily snagged if I was a mean, greedy adult.  Kevin looked up at me and thanked me for letting him get it.  I told him it was no problem and asked how many he’d snagged that night.

“Six.”

Wow.

After that I met up with Michelle and the gang and we took a few pictures…
group with field behind.JPGThen we headed outside to find the Angels Mickey statue and got a photo with Mic:
foursome with mickey.JPGJeff looks very stern but I swear he had a great time at the game.  Michelle and I walked them to their car under the light of the Halo and then we headed to our own and drove back to Irvine. What a great night!