Guess what? I’d been listening to sports talk radio and I ended up winning two tickets to the Angels/Blue Jays matchup on the 3rd of May. I had high hopes for this game, as it came the day after Jered Weaver threw a no hitter at Angel Stadium… the 10th in club history. The evening before that, Jerome Williams had shut out the Twins on only three hits. Dan Haren would be taking the mound on this particular evening and I figured, if things progressed, it would be a shutout on Tuesday, a no hitter on Wednesday, and a perfect game on Thursday. Makes sense, right?
I’d be ready–I got to the stadium nice and early. I was the third person in line. I would be the first person to reach the seating area…
Well, did you read anything about a perfect game? Nope. But that was a ridiculous thought… even though Haren made a similar comment to the media (jokingly).
There would be no perfect game… though Brandon Morrow got close. This one would end up being all Blue Jays. But let’s get on to batting practice. I was third in line and Michelle decided to sit in the shade and read and make a couple of phone calls. I raced in and up to the right field seats at 5:05pm. There weren’t any baseballs to be found lying around but I did see Weaver in right field with Bobby Wilson and David Carpenter and took advantage of the empty stadium and the relative silence by congratulating him. He responded kindly and went back to work.
And about five minutes later, Wilson tossed me my first ball of the evening. It had a few grass and dirt scuffs and the word PRACTICE was stamped on the sweet spot. I’d gotten several of these stamped baseballs and I turned around looking for a kid to give it to, but there weren’t any in the section. I trotted up the stairs and handed it to an usher to give away for me–and I saw him make a little boy’s day by handing the ball over to him about five minutes later.
The next ball I caught came from [former] closer Jordan Walden. He’d already tossed a couple of baseballs into the stands… one in particular to a little kid to my left. Well, this little kid (who already had two baseballs of his own–one from Walden) decided to ask for the next baseball that Walden fielded. The pitcher looked up at him and shook his head no, then I piped up, “Hey, Jordan, how about one for the big kids?” It’s the first time I’ve ever used that line… and wouldn’t ya know it? It worked. He flipped up baseball #2 on the day and I gave that one away to a different usher a little while later.
Unfortunately for the BP regulars in Anaheim, the Angels have quite a few righties that can hit the ball pretty far. I call that unfortunate because a lot of baseballs fly out to left and center fields–and there are bullpens and a pile of Disney-era rocks that prevent us from snagging said baseballs. Boy, we sure hope Kendrys Morales (the lone bat from the left side with any power) gets taken out of the first group of BP hitters… at least Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols hit a few the opposite way into right field for us. I couldn’t get a glove on any other baseballs while the Angels were hitting though.
I went down to first base side of the stadium as the Blue Jays came out to throw… but no matter where I went–I couldn’t get their attention… so when a round of lefties started hitting I ran back up to right field. I came close to snagging two baseballs on the fly… but close was all I got. One was a shot to the first row of the pavilion by Adam Lind. The other was a bomb about five or six rows back that San Diego ballhawk TC snagged since my leap was about six inches too short. Speaking of TC, you can see him in this photo:
But the real reason I took that is LOOK AT HOW MUCH SPACE THERE WAS! I should have been close to double digits–note the time–the stadium had been open for forty-five minutes. It was just a struggle to snag anything through Blue Jays BP.
The day would pick up for me a bit at the end of batting practice though, as I got three baseballs thrown my way as the Blue Jays ran off the field. The first came from pitcher Drew Hutchison as he headed down the dugout steps. I quickly put that one in my pocket and, as the coaches finished rounding up all the baseballs from BP, hitting coach Dwayne Murphy threw me a ball in the fourth row. But a huge guy with a beard in the third row reached out and caught that one in front of my face… then he looked at me and said, “You already got one.” Well, actually, I’ve already got three. Then Murphy, who must have seen what happened, lofted another ball my way–this one with a much higher arc. And I caught it by reaching out as far as I could, shocking the bearded fellow in front of me. I went on my way to track down my lovely wife, who’d found a spot in the sun to read her book on the field level in foul territory.
We grabbed sandwiches (which were delicious… and cost us $9.75 each) and some Cracker Jack and headed out to left field. Pujols was still sitting on zero home runs for the year so I figured he was kindly waiting until I was in attendance so that he could hit it to me–ready and waiting–in the left field corner.
For pregame throwing I hung out by the Angel dugout. Only one pair played catch (Trumbo and Howie Kendrick) and the second baseman kept the ball. I ran to the visiting team’s side and watched as Brett Lawrie threw with Kelly Johnson–then Johnson went into the dugout and Yunel Escobar took over. Well, I was on Lawrie’s end of the dugout, a few rows back, and Escobar ended up with the ball. I was the only one asking if he could toss it up though–so he did… from about forty feet away. Escobar underhanded it about twenty feet high and everyone seated around me just stared as it fell perfectly into my glove.
The blue circle represents where Escobar was standing and the red circle shows where I actually caught the ball.
Want to know what happened during the game? A blue Jay homer for three runs and a Mark Trumbo error for two more. And that was it. Morrow limited the Angels to only three hits and shut them out. The 28,000 people had little reason to cheer throughout the evening. So, when Michelle got a phone call from her sister we walked over to the concourse behind the Blue Jays’ dugout in the eighth inning. By the ninth I was here:
And I watched as Trumbo doubled–but that was as much of a rally as the Angels got going. That was their third and final hit of the night. Trumbo was stuck on second base and Morrow got his complete game shutout. By that point I was here:
Right behind the Blue Jay dugout as they came off the field. But I didn’t see any souvenirs come my way.
It was a pretty lousy night for Angels fans–I made a young kid’s evening a little happier by giving him a baseball I’d brought with me from a previous game as we left the stadium. I’m always up for a ball game but this particular one wasn’t even close to being up there amongst my favorites. Michelle and I enjoyed our time together–and I simply hoped the next Angel game we’d attend would have a better outcome.
Finally! My first regular season game at good ol’ Angel Stadium… and there was a good crowd on hand as I waited (along with a few other ballhawks) for the gates to open at 4:00 for the 6:05 game.
But, the horror! 4:00 came and went and the gates didn’t open… 4:10… nothing… 4:15… finally, some movement at the gates and we were allowed to pass through security. When I got up there I encountered something I hadn’t seen at a ballpark since the late ’90s. They tore my ticket… tore the bottom of it right off along the perforated edge. Weird. I found out later they were having scanner issues… and after keeping us waiting for fifteen minutes they knew they just had to let us in. Thanks, Angels management, for not waiting until who-knows-when to let us in.
I ran in and the Angels were in the midst of BP. My first destination was the right field pavilion. And, wouldn’t you know it? In the twenty or so minutes the Angels were hitting only one baseball flew up to the pavilion… and BP regular Rob ended up with it. Mark Trumbo sure hit some bombs to left field and center field, too! Without Kendrys Morales in the lineup the pavilion loses a bit of luster in terms of catching baseballs… though Trumbo will occasionally get one up there, I hear.
When the Blue Jays pitchers came out to throw I made my way over to the first base line and snagged my first baseball from a Blue Jays righty pitcher… all I know is he was Caucasian and relatively short. I wish I knew who it was because here’s the ball he threw to me in the fourth row:
BAM! Commemorative baseball! Beautiful!
Jose Bautista was up in the first group of Jays hitters so I moved to left field.
I figured he could reach the seats past the bullpens–well, he made it to the bullpens with some of his shots and one or two of them bounced out… one went just a couple feet over my head! But he finished and the next group started and I was still stuck on one baseball. But, just look at the bullpen…
If only someone had been around toss one or two or three baseballs up to the fans. ::sigh::
I moved down to section 101, near the field next to the foul pole. That’s where I got the attention of a couple Blue Jays pitchers…
Well, the guy on the right (who I don’t recognize) threw me a ball while I was in the tenth row of the section. I ended up giving that one away to an usher and told her to find a kid to give it to for me. For that transaction I was back in right field for the few Blue Jays lefties–again the pavilion wasn’t kind to me. I’d end batting practice with just two baseballs.
I tried for a ball during the Angels warmups and then again on the Blue Jays side for theirs… no dice.
I took a seat here:
And stayed there as the game started… and when Jeff Mathis tried a snap throw to first base–he got Bautista! And that was the third out in the top of the first–and I was at the dugout as Trumbo ran in from the field–and check this out:
YES! A rubbed up game ball from the Angels–commemorative! From Mathis to Trumbo to me–I was thrilled and I didn’t care if I caught another ball all night.
OK, maybe that’s not true… I tried for a foul ball or two as they came near me. When my uncle arrived, who had ended up giving me a ticket to the game, I told him on the phone I wasn’t near our ticketed seats. He joined me near the dugout. Did I mention it was beanie night? I am definitely more excited about my beanie than he is about his.
My uncle, Ivar, is the one who first started taking me to Angels games and the one who took this photo that I wrote a whole blog entry about. I know a lot about the game based on my uncle taking me to a bunch of games as I grew up and I am thankful for that now.
He’s a season seat holder and has been for quite some time. It was fun to spend so
me time with him and chat about the game and baseball in general. One inning, as I tried for a third out ball again he snapped this photo (left) of me running back to “my” seat from the dugout. I didn’t get the ball but I had fun trying.
I knew I’d have to leave the game a bit early on this night because I had planned to pick Michelle up from work when she finished running a theatre event. So, as the night went on and Mike Scioscia argued a call at third…
… and a kid ran to steal third as part of a promotion…
… and batters swung at pitches and fouled them off and pitchers came into the game… I stayed right where I’d been with my uncle.
Snapping pictures the whole time:
We hung out a dozen rows back from the dugout for the whole game…
… except after the seventh inning stretch when I ran over to the Blue Jays’ dugout.
And I took some photos–but the main event over on that side was when Howie Kendrick grounded into a double play to end the seventh inning and Adam Lind tossed me the rubbed up gamer at the dugout.
It has a grass stain from the trek it took through the infield and a bit of wear over the 1961 on the logo… not quite as clear as the Trumbo ball… but I’ll take it! That was my fourth ball of the night–and the third commemorative one.
Jordan Walden came in to keep the score tied in the ninth and did his job–he looks sharp as the Angels’ new closer with Fernando Rodney setting him up.
And then my uncle and I had to leave–I know, I know, “You left a tied game in the ninth inning, Matt?!?!”
Yep–I did. Grown-up responsibilities and such. He took this picture (right)as we headed out of the stadium.
I would hear the game on the radio as I drove to pick up my wife, then I snapped a few photos of the day’s haul while I waited a few minutes for her to finish up at work:
We heard the end of the game on the radio on the way home, a 6-5 Angel victory after over five hours of play–in the 14th inning.
I’d be back for the Indians against the Halos a few days later…
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.
Howie 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!
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:
They 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:
The 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.
I 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:
BAM! 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!
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.
Another one of these wacky Wednesday 4:05 games… it was a bright,, sunny afternoon in Anaheim and the Blue Jays were still around. I had a ticket (that I’d gotten for free) to see Brandon Morrow face off against Joel Piniero.
I ran in through the Right Field Gate and up to the pavilion. As soon as I got there I said, “Hi,” to Dino Ebel who was fielding in center. He picked up a few baseballs off the track and asked him to toss one up. He asked me, “How many do you already have today?” I said none.
Just then a family with a little kid came down the steps nearby and the little boy with them stood near me. Dino asked who the kid was, like he was my little brother or something. I just shrugged and said, “I don’t know.”
Dino tossed me the ball and I decided to hand it to the kid. Then I told him to show it to Dino and say thank you. The kid did so–and Dino gave me a thumbs up. He knew I didn’t have to give the ball away.
And… man, I wish more home runs would have been hit… look at how much space there was to run. This is seven minutes after the gates had opened:
Joe Saunders was near center field, too… and since the founder of myGameBalls.com had told me something that might get Joe’s attention I was able to snag my second baseball on the day. Basically, Alan Schuster, who runs that site (that I write for on occasion) knows Joe from high school. He’d passed along an inside joke from 1998 and when I yelled it down to it to him he looked up and laughed, giving me a thumbs up. The next time a ball came to him he just tossed it right to me. I didn’t even ask–nice. Thanks, Mr. Saunders.
At about this time the Mariners came out and their pitchers started throwing. I’d already snagged two balls up in the pavilion and the Angels’ last round wouldn’t hit any homers up there so I headed down near the foul pole in right field. I was just in front of the pole and I saw Reggie Willits hit a ball that had a good shot to roll into the corner. So I ran from where this picture was taken:
To the gap in between the two fans with gloves in the above photo. I was just to the left of the 330 sign. I reacted so quickly that I got there and was out and over the wall trying for the scoop before either of them moved a step toward the ball… sure enough, it rolled right to my new position and just like that I had baseball number three. Three baseballs from the Angels during a full BP is good—three from them during ten minutes is fantastic. Sadly, my hot streak would fizzle out after that.
The Angels finished and the Blue Jays started hitting.
My next baseball wouldn’t come until about a half hour later. What? It was still so empty in the stadium! There just weren’t any baseballs hit near me… finally Casey Janssen, as he and some other pitchers were running, fielded a ball barehanded and I called out for it. He tossed it right to me. BP wrapped up after that.
I decided that since there still weren’t many fans in the stadium once the Angels started warming up that I’d head over that way. Usually the third base side of Angel Stadium (where the home dugout is) gets super crowded. Even for day games–because that’s the shady side. But since people were still at school/work there was quite a bit of room to maneuver. Kendry Morales came out to play catch with the Angels’ strength coach, T.J. and I snapped this picture:It’s an important picture because that ball Morales is throwing (he was “pitching” to T.J. at that point) ended up in my possession. As he jogged off the field I shouted, “Kendry!” and held up my glove…everyone in the first few rows wanted autographs. He threw it over their heads and right to me. Cool!
A little while later I made a pretty spectacular catch of one of those Nerf-like baseballs that get shot into the crowd. I gave that one away to a kid nearby… and his dad complimented my catch: over the shoulder, leaning over a row of seats. Woo.
Before the anthem I saw Bobby Abreu head toward the wall to sign some autographs:
And I managed to be the last person he signed for before, “Oh, say can you see…” I got him on a baseball I’d been carrying around simply for a good autograph. Then I snapped these shots during the anthem:
The game would be starting at about four and I had to leave at about five so I decided to be proactive in trying to snag third out baseballs… I ran from dugout to dugout for three innings. I got
some great photos… like:
But no more baseballs… it was fine… I was happy with five… and I left at about five to head home for dinner.
The Angels would win on a walk-off single by Bobby Abreu. See? Good things happen when you sign an autograph for me!
The Blue Jays were in town for a three game series and I would be heading to two of ’em. Monday night’s game I’d be joined by my wife as soon as she finished up at work… as for me, I headed out to the park at about four o’clock and got in line. I met another BP regular, his name’s Eli, at the gates. At five I headed in and immediately ran to the pavilion. The first group of Angel hitters was up. The group consisted of Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Hideki Matsui, and Mike Napoli (who’s been on a hot streak). All four of those bats yielding exactly zero home runs to the pavilion seats. I wanted to take a picture of the empty seats throughout the park… this was a seriously low amount of people at BP. And had that group hit a few homers my way I’m sure I could have nabbed one… or four! But, no, it wasn’t happening. And I realized that my camera was totally dead… bummer. I called Michelle and asked her to bring batteries when she came to meet me.
Since most of the other Angels after the first group would be hitting right-handed I jogged down to near the foul pole. It was there that I finally got on the board for the evening. Bobby Wilson was shagging baseballs in right and I was one of the few people that was 1) trying to catch a baseball, and 2) knew his name. As one round of BP ended and he moved closer to center field I asked him for the ball he’d just picked up. He started trotting to center… and when he was about 100 feet away from me he spun around and fired the ball–right to me! It was a perfect throw… like, I didn’t have to move an inch and it ended up in my glove, chest high. I yelled out, “Nice throw!” and Wilson gave me a thumbs up.
I figure that now would be a good time to mention that I’ve been giving a lot more baseballs away this season. Last season I gave away one or maybe two baseballs per game… but this year, due to a combination of not having a lot of space at my apartment and really just enjoying the thrill of getting the baseball, I’ve been giving away at least fifty percent of what I snag. Unless it’s commemorative or I snag a homer on the fly (or get a ball in a unique way) it’ll usually end up with a little kid at some point in the evening. On this particular day I’d brought two baseballs I’d previously snagged simply to give away.
Baseball #2 on the day would come from a Blue Jays pitcher. The Angels were still hitting but the Jays had come out to throw along the first base line. As they were finishing up a right-handed Blue Jay pitcher with shaggy brown hair who was not exceptionally tall and had facial hair threw me a ball. I’m going to go ahead and say it was Shawn Marcum… I’m not 100% sure… but I think it was him. I took a photo:
The guy who threw me the ball is the one in the center of the photo (near the guy with the high socks) with his back to the camera… this is from my camera phone because, as I mentioned… my fancy camera was still very much dead at this point. I now realize that my camera phone is pretty darn good!
Just a few minutes later, as the Angels were still hitting, a batter lifted a fly ball toward the corner in right field. I tracked it as I ran to my right. It had a shot to clear the short wall out there. Sure enough, the ball carried into the stands. A fan in the first row reached up, bare-handed, to try to catch it. As expected, the ball bounced off his hand and into the third row just as I arrived in the second row and picked it up of the ground before it stopped rolling. I got a nice gash on my right thumb as someone fell into me. Ouch… but I got the ball. I looked to see who hit it. I assumed a lefty… and the only lefty in the group would have been Michael Ryan… but I’m not sure… even less sure than I was about the Marcum ball.
Anyway, in the photo above (taken from where I started when the ball was hit) you’ll see the fan who DIDN’T catch the ball (circled), the spot where the ball hit the seats (a red X), and the place where I picked up the ball (the red box). Thanks, LG enV touch, for these good quality photos.
So, I was at three baseballs on the day and the Blue Jays hitters provided… zero baseballs for their portion of BP. Like, I wasn’t close to a single one. Chris was nearby and he and I were both sooooo bored as no players threw baseballs anywhere near us and no players hit baseballs anywhere near us except one grounder that Chris was able to scoop off the warning track. Like, I got sleepy… that’s how little action there was.
In the last round of Blue Jays BP a couple of lefties hit a few up to the pavilion but I wasn’t up there at that point. I ran down to the dugout hoping for a tossup from someone as they left the field… but it didn’t happen.
Michelle had called me and said she had arrived at the stadium so I met up with her and we grabbed some delicious BBQ goodness for dinner. The Jays didn’t throw before the game… and Michelle and I parked ourselves in the Terrace Level with this view of the action:
I tried for third out tosses from the Jays each inning but didn’t snag anything. About halfway through the game we moved down to the Field Level and watched with this view:
I was thinking that with all the righties there might be a foul ball coming our way. Nope.
One nice thing that happened at this game was that one of those irritating photographers that wants to take your picture randomly asked us just that… and it actually turned out to be a cute picture of the two of us:
Yeah, yeah… I snagged it from the web… hence the banner on there. They want fifteen bucks for a 5″x7″ print. Ugh. But look how cute we are!
I walked Michelle out to the gate when she had to leave at about 9:20. She headed home and I headed back in to the game. When I walked out with her it was 5-0 Blue Jays… when I sat down here:
… it was 6-0 Blue Jays. Ugh.
Just before I took this picture (from the second row) two girls in their twenties sat down in front of me. After they saw Vernon Wells toss his batting gloves to a little girl one section over (lucky!) they started harassing the players in the dugout to toss them a baseball. After a while one of the pitchers threw the girl who’s head you can see at the bottom of the above photo a baseball. It had a message on it written in blue ballpoint pen. I couldn’t read the whole thing but essentially the players had invited to the girls back to their hotel. The message read something like this: If you wanna have [a good time later] come to the [whatever hotel they were staying at] tonight or tomorrow [then three room numbers were listed]. I only know this because the guy in the blue sweater in the above photo asked them what the ball said. They showed it to him and I caught a glimpse of it. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone propositioned via baseball. Weird… and sort of creepy.
Anyway, the game was not going the Angels’ way. 6-0 would be the final and the Halos managed just three hits off of the Blue Jays.
I tried for a tossup at the game’s conclusion at the far end of the Jays’ dugout. Nope… stuck at three for the day. But as I headed up the steps I saw a little boy and his family (a mom, dad, and sister) in Angels gear also exiting the seating bowl. I asked the dad, “Did your kids get a ball today?” He said no… I had seen them trying for tossups at the opposite end of the dugout from me earlier in the night.
As it turns out, the little boy had gotten a ball tossed near/toward/to him. I don’t know the details but his parents told me somebody had robbed the boy of a ball. I looked down at this kid, he was maybe seven years old. He had tears in his eyes… he’d been so close to a ball. I knelt down and pulled two of the baseballs I’d brought out of my bag, asking “And is this your sister, little dude?” He said it was, gesturing to his older sister (about nine or ten). I said, “Here, you pic either one you want,” showing him the two baseballs.
He picked one (that Kevin Jepsen had thrown me during the previous homestand) and I turned to his sister and offered her the other one.
“No, thank you. I was just trying to help him get one.” Wow. That’s, like, the best big sister EVER! I wished the family a good night and they all thanked me. I headed up the steps where I found another young boy… this one in Jays gear. I asked him if he’d gotten a ball that night and he hadn’t. I handed him the other baseball I’d tried to give to the previous family. He was thrilled.
I headed to my car. I was feeling pretty good despite the Angels loss.
I had another game… an afternoon game… coming up very soon.
Another day, another game…
The Angels were back home to face the Blue Jays (before facing the Royals and Red Sox). It would be quite a week… I knew it… I’m going to one game against each opponent. I’d like to mention, also, that I was starting to feel that I was a bit of a bad luck charm for my Halos. They were 0-4 in games I’d been to at the Big A this year. Did that stop me? NO WAY!
Michelle joined me (and some friends from school would meet up with us later) and we arrived early, as usual, for batting practice.
There weren’t too many folks waiting as we arrived. Michelle checked out the ever-present memorial to Nick Adenhart while I waited in line. I didn’t really want to look at it close up again… it really is a tragedy. I took a photo of some of the fans paying their respects:
At 5:05 the gates opened and I ran inside, not forgetting to collect my 1980s retro Angels cap (cool giveaway!). I scanned to right field seats quickly… no Easter eggs. Up to the pavilion… no Easter eggs (but I was the third one to arrive up there). I then took up a spot in right center. The view to my right:
And the view to my left (and notice the guy closest to me in the front row):
Woo! And how many homers were hit up there during the Angels BP session?
And I didn’t snag it… grr.
I did, however, get a ball thrown to me by rookie pitcher, Matt Palmer. Here’s how our brief interaction went down:
KID NEAR ME: Hey, Shane Loux, can you throw a ball? Shane?!?
PALMER: I’m not Shane. Do you even know who I am?
PALMER: Can you read (I’ll assume he meant “Can you read the name on my glove I’m holding up?” and not “Are you smart enough to read, kiddo?”)?
ME: Matt! Matt Palmer, how about a ball for another Matt? Please?
A few seconds later he fielded a ball and looked up to me, gestured, and threw it. His throw was a bit off and the ball was just a bit to my right… and that guy I mentioned in the photo above reached out, barehanded, and tried to catch the ball. He reached, it hit his hands, he bobbled it, I yelled, “Come on, man!” And he backed away a step. I must have sounded fairly angry (I was… that ball was totally meant for me) but I would have let it go if he’d really wanted that ball. As soon as it was on the ground I scooped it up. Ball #1 on the day and #45 in my collection… not graceful, but still a snag. That was it for Angels BP.
I noticed that there wasn’t much of a crowd near the right field foul pole so I left the pavilion and switched to my Jays hat as I jogged down to the field level. Some Blue Jays pitchers were warming up.
After Scott Downs finished throwing (he’s in the background, with the long hair, in the above photo) I got his attention and he lobbed me my second baseball of the day. Then I hung out just fair of the pole and a lefty Blue Jays hitter knocked a ball down the line. It ricocheted toward me and I was able to snag it by hanging down over the wall. It was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. The ball bounces off that curved wall fairly randomly and this one was still moving pretty wall when I snagged it. Not to mention I did it while most of me was on the field side of that green wall. My third of the day! I asked the Jays fan near me who’d hit it and he told me it was either Travis Snider or Lyle Overbay.
By the way, want to know how hard it is to snag during the afternoon BP sessions at Angel Stadium? Look at this pic:
Bring sunglasses and keep your cap brim low… you’re staring right below where that bright SoCal sun is… and as soon as a ball gets airborne you’ll lose it if you’re not careful.
My fourth ball of the day would also come via leaning out over the wall. A ball came to rest just foul of the pole and I ran over to it… two guys had tried to get over far enough (without falling down to the field)… they couldn’t reach it. I heard someone say, “Hey, son, bring me your glove.” I got to just above the ball, leaned out and over and Ball #4 on the day was in my glove. I ended up giving it to a boy who’d come over to answer his dad’s call for assistance. He hadn’t gotten a ball and he had his glove… and I handed him a souvenir. He stared at it in disbelief. His dad said to me, “That’s really great, man. Thanks.” Then the boy thanked me and we shook hands. It felt nice to make that father and son’s day a little brighter. Just think, they’ll go home and say, “Wow, that Jays fan was so nice!”
That was it for my snagging. No Blue Jays played catch by their dugout before the game and after the national anthem Michelle and I were hungry so we grabbed some grub and ate it while watching the first inning from the pavilion:
And we hadn’t heard from our friends yet… we cruised over to a virtually empty section in Lower View:
Section 412: a good foul ball section. Our friends, Garrett and Darcy, arrived just after we won Star Trek foam hands for being in the “lucky section.”
The Angels were in retro uniforms on retro 80s night… and Photoshopped pictures of all the players showed up on the Jumbotron instead of their normal player pics. Here is my favorite of the night (of Maicer Izturis):
I forget in which inning this happened, but a Blue Jays hitter knocked a foul ball up to near where I was sitting. I lunged to my right (over Garrett) and the two teenagers a few seats down from me reached out and over the edge of the level we were on, the ball smacked off one of their hands and fell to the Club Level below. They got a hearty round of booing from the fans around us. That was the closest a foul ball had ever come to me… probably within five feet. Had they not been there I’m sure I would have gotten that one. Maybe next time…
For the ninth inning we all headed down to the Field Level and I went behind the home dugout as Jered Weaver closed out the game. Three hits, one run, seven strikeouts, no walks. It was his first CG…. a bunch of baseballs, a bat, and some gloves came flying up from the dugout and I, somehow, didn’t get near any of them… more near misses. Still, I upped my average on the year and the Angels got a victory while I was there! Plus, I got a retro hat, four baseballs, a foam hand, and had a great time with my fiancee and our friends. Attendance: 41,007. A great night overall!