Tagged: erick aybar

9/26/11 at Angel Stadium

This was a great game for me as the budding ballhawk that I am.  This was a great game because I had fun, was successful, met some new friends, set a milestone, and walked away with memories and souvenirs.  And– to top it all off–my wife got to be at this game with me.  Here’s what happened…

I entered the day sitting on 369 lifetime baseballs.  When I approached the Home Plate Gate I surveyed the line situation to see where I should situate myself.  Upon closer inspection I saw a friend from 3,000 miles away.  I walked up to Greg Barasch and told him, “I didn’t know you were going to be here!”  Greg and I had met in April of 2010 at my only visit to Citi Field.  As it turns out, he and his father would be in Anaheim for the last three Angels home games of the year–just like me.  Greg and I played catch for a few minutes while his dad held our place in line.  Michelle had decided to sit in the shade and read for a while and I knew I’d meet up with her after batting practice had finished.

When the gates opened I immediately took of for the right field corner and within minutes, got a ball thrown to me by Hank Conger.

That ball–see it on the ground.  Conger walked over, picked it up, I asked for it and he lobbed it to me!  #370.  Just a couple minutes later a liner down the right field line took a bounce near the wall and I was able to reach out and snag that one… I have no idea who hit it.  Someone on the Angels.

I ran up to the RF seats atop that 18 ft. wall after that and quickly got a ball thrown to me by Mike Maddux–it was stamped “PRACTICE.”  Not all the Rangers were out on the field but Maddux and a few pitchers were and he tossed me this random ball that a Halo had hit.

The Angels then ran off the field a bit early and I was bummed–but I had already snagged three baseballs at I’d only been inside the stadium for about 15 minutes!

Greg’s goal was to snag a few Angels commemorative balls during his trip and I knew he’d get a couple–he’s no slouch as a ballhawk–but the first one he’d snagged on the day was a standard Selig ball.  So were the first three I’d ended up with.

Alexi Ogando tossed me baseball number four on the day–a grass-stained standard ball–

–and I was quickly racking up the stats.

Next up I caught this beauty thrown to me by Leonys Martin.

Then, the Rangers big left-handed power came to the plate–Mitch Moreland, Josh Hamilton, and David Murphy.  Well, I snagged a Hamilton homer on the fly in the first round about halfway up the pavilion.  That was career #375!  A few minutes later I grabbed a David Murphy bomb as it bounced around a row to my left.  After a few more minutes Endy Chavez blasted a ball up to me in the pavilion that I snagged on the fly.  That was my eighth ball of the day.

The Rangers headed into the dugout soon after that and I failed to get anything tossed to me as they left the field.  But I just needed two more baseball to get to my first double-digit game EVER!  Plus, I hadn’t snagged a commemorative ball yet on this day.  All eight had been standard Selig balls.

I met up with Greg and his dad after BP and we got this picture snapped of the two of us:

And we’d continue to run into each other throughout the evening.  I took a brief rest before heading over to shallow left field to wait for the Angels to throw.  Sure enough, after Torii Hunter accepted an award for citizenship, Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis played catch for a few minutes along the foul line (as did a few other Angels).

When they were done, Aybar threw me the ball they’d been using–and it was commemorative!  That would be the only commemorative logo I’d take home that night… but I was up to nine baseballs!  By the way–did you notice in that photo that the Tigers beat Cleveland 14-0?  Wow.

And here’s the lone commemorative I grabbed at this game:

I ran back to where Michelle had been sitting.  I’d heard that instead of the random ex-Angel that would be signing autographs at this game out in center field, a certain Hall of Fame member would be filling in.  I had gotten a wristband during a change in BP groups and Michelle and I quickly took our places in line once I’d finished my pre-game snagging.  I handed my camera off to her so she could snap a picture of me as I got the autograph–

–of Rod Carew!  This was actually the second time he’d signed a ball for me.  The first time had been totally random and not nearly as organized.  This time, instead of signing my ball and inscribing HOF ’91, he inscribed #29 next to his name.  Rod’s a great member of the Angels community in Orange County, even though he’s more famous (and in the HOF) as a Twin.

Eight balls snagged and one HOF autograph and the game had just begun!

I told Greg I’d see him later or at the next day’s game and Michelle and I found some seats down the first base line.

The Angels were down 4-0 in the fourth inning as we watched from here:

Dan Haren pitched well, however, giving up just three earned runs over eight innings.  C.J. Wilson pitched two innings… he’d be pitching Game 1 of the ALDS later in the week.  But, while the Angels could muster a bit of offense, they’d end up losing 4-3 and their slim playoff chances would be dashed.

Michelle would end up leaving the game early to get ready for work the next morning–I made sure to stay to the end.  I’d been trying for third out tosses all night but I’d been unsuccessful.

In the eighth, I was over on the Angels’ side… but headed to the Ranger dugout for the ninth.  Sure enough, the Rangers locked down the win and Neftali Feliz got his 31st save.

I waved at all the players as they headed off the field and they all passed by me–I watched the bullpen guys march across the field… the tallest guy had a baseball… it was Alexi Ogando.  Would he remember me from the afternoon?  He’d already given me a ball and I hadn’t changed my appearance in any way.  As the relievers lumbered in I made my best effort… hands up, waving, and I called out, “Alexi!  Right here!!”  He looked up, pulled his hands out of his hoodie, and lofted ball number 10 right to my waiting glove.  And just like that… with my 379th ball, at my 84th game at Angel Stadium since 2008 (when I started ballhawking) I FINALLY reached double-digits!  I was thrilled–and the ball from Ogando was a rubbed up beauty–pristine.  It had been rubbed with mud and never dropped, scuffed, or hit in any way.  It was perfect.  And with that I took my leave of the Big A.

I would be back quite soon.

UPDATE: I found my notes from this game AND my following two games.  Since 9/26/11 was a special day for me–I thought I’d share my notes.

This is the list I take to every game I go to.  And now you’ve got a window into how I keep these things categorized and how I remember things for my blog.  It looks like chicken scratch, I know, but you can see I write a letter L next to each player if they’re a lefty.  For pitchers, if they throw left-handed… for batters, if they hit left-handed.  Or they get a letter S if they’re a switch hitter.  The starting pitcher is circled on each roster and each ball I snag is labeled with a number and a circle.  For example, Ball #377’s note is “377 – COF (which means Caught On Fly) E. (Endy) Chavez S. 238 (Section 238 of the right field pavilion) – 3rd row – right to me prac logo w/ brwn + grn (it was a ball with a practice logo and brown and green marks on it).  Want to know more about my notes, or care to explain how you make your own?  Let me know in the comments.

5/20/11 at Angel Stadium

I’ll just come right out and say it: This wasn’t my most successful day of snagging baseballs.  No, siree.

Did I get shut out?  No… not in my home park with a full session of BP going on… here’s how it went down:

For those of you that read my previous entry, you know that I began the day sitting on 299 baseballs snagged in my lifetime.  I wanted to be sure to pay close attention to the players on the field–who was hitting–who was shagging balls in the outfield–I wanted to know who Ball #300 would come from.  Michelle and I arrived at the Home Plate Gate at about 4:40pm, saw some regulars we knew, jumped in line with them… and waited.  At 5:03pm the gate opened and I ran inside and headed to left field.

I was hoping that Torii Hunter or Mark Trumbo would clear the bullpens and hit me my first ball of the day.  As it turned out, Trumbo did hit one that cleared the home bullpen and most of the visitors’ bullpen… it hit the metal “roof” that shades the visiting players while they sit on the bullpen bench.  I had the snag lined up but the ball fell just short of the front row, hit the roof, bounced awkwardly over me and to a guy right behind me.  If he’d been five feet in any other direction I’d have been able to walk over and simply pick up the ball… Alas, #300 would have to wait a little longer.

I ran over to right field shortly after the second group of Angels finished hitting, knowing that there weren’t any batters that could hit many home runs in the last group I’d get to see.  I ended up down by the foul pole as Peter Bourjous took his hacks.  Bourjos, a righty, was going the other way and flicked a ball down the right field line that took a bounce on the grass, hit the wall in foul territory, and rolled toward the corner–where I leaned out over the wall and plucked it off the warning track in front of Section 1:34.  It was 5:23pm on May 20th, 2011.  And just like that–I’d snagged my 300th baseball!  I remember thinking… at least I know who it came from… and it’s a home team player (who I know signs autographs).

When the Braves came out to throw and hit I ran up to the pavilion since they had a few lefties with some pop.

When I got out to the seats it was still fairly empty but it took about ten minutes for anything to come my way… and when Brian McCann started pulling the ball to right field I was all over a homer–until the last second when I realized it was going over my head.  I turned my back to the field and watched the ball bounce off a seat two rows up and shoot to my left.  I raced over a few seats, climbed over a row, saw Rob closing in, and reached out as the ball headed for the staircase… I missed it!  But I didn’t give up and the ball bounced down a step and I grabbed it with my right hand a split second before Rob got to it.  Ball #301.  Here’s the view from near where I snagged the McCann ball.

It was marked PRACTICE.  And after that the Braves (who were missing Jason Heyward) experienced a severe power outage.  Not too many more baseballs made their way up to the seats and it got pretty crowded up there, too:

BP ended and I was ready (along with Chris) to race toward the Braves’ dugout.  I blazed through two sections (and past my wife, reading a book on the Terrace Level) before my left leg caught a bit of an armrest.  I was okay… until I took another step and realized I was losing my balance… I comically fell forward.  The only thing hurt was my pride… and my hand–I suffered a scrape.  And my watch got scratched up.  Chris stopped to make sure I was okay (I was) but it meant we were a bit late getting to the dugout.  I missed out on getting anything there.

Scraped (and with a bruised ego–it was a silly, embarrassing fall) I sat down next to Michelle.  She was concerned that I was hurt–I was concerned that I’d only snagged two baseballs in an hour and a half.  But at least I’d hit my milestone–the day couldn’t be considered a failure.  When the Angels came out to warm up I tried to get a ball from them.  I was in the third row as Maicer Izturis warmed up with Alberto Callaspo and when they finished I got Izturis to toss me the ball–but at the last second a fan in the second row stuck his arm up and deflected the ball to an old lady to the left, who promptly kept the ball (it did hit her on the head–I can’t blame her).

Cool uniforms, huh?  Flashback Friday!

Next, Alexi Amarista and Erick Aybar finished throwing and I got Aybar to toss the ball my way–but get this: a fan in the first row jumped up and made a stellar bare-handed catch in front of me.  How frustrating!!!  Two warmup baseballs thrown to me… and not a one of them made it to my glove.

And no Braves played catch near their dugout before the first pitch–bummer.  Michelle had eaten her dinner during BP and I’d scarfed mine down before pregame throwing–but we were still hungry so we vowed to try to find something healthy to eat–and we would end up succeeding AND finding a few new chow spots at the Big A.

But first, I tried for a third out ball from the Braves after the first–and failed.

We wandered the lower level concourse searching for some healthier than average ballpark food options–I learned you can get just about anything at a major league stadium nowadays.  We found a nifty ice cream spot, a chicken sandwich booth, two different kinds of BBQ joints, and ended up choosing some edemame from a sushi place!  It hit the spot… and we munched on it from our newly acquired seats in the right field corner:

If anyone had decided to pull a ball down the line in the middle innings I’d have been all over it!  My wife and I were, like, the only people who seemed to care about the game.  Everyone in the identical red hats in that photo above was there with some sort of conference/religious group/singles club.  We couldn’t figure out what the organization was about–but it wasn’t a group of baseball enthusiasts, that’s for sure.

From this spot I got a shot of the video clip Michelle and I appear in on the jumbotron:

We’re dancing in our seats to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” and Michelle is blocking her face with her arm–which is holding up her Rally Monkey… in case you were wondering.  I know you were.

The game was great from the point of view of an Angels fan!  The Halos knocked Braves starter Tim Hudson out of the game in the fourth after he’d given up eight runs and Ervin Santana pitched a complete game four-hitter.  The Angels won it, 9-0.  A lot of folks stuck around for the fireworks but I still managed to sneak down to the dugout before the last out was recorded:

And did it help me snag a ball?  Nope–I was stuck on two for the night.  Oh, well… stil had a great time:  Michelle and I watched the fireworks together:

And on our way out to the car she took a photo of me with my 300th baseball:


And when we got home I took some more pictures to document the occasion:

Logo:

And, inscribed:

My next game would be at the Big A two weeks later…

9/11/10 at Angel Stadium

I’m so sorry for the gap between entries… moving plus new job plus family stuff made for very little time for baseball.  I only attended three games in the month of September.  But I’ll get the blog goin’ again… starting now:

So, on the eleventh of September I headed out to Angel Stadium with Michelle to watch the Halos take on the Seattle Mariners.  Of all AL West teams, I think I like going to Mariners games the most.  They’re a lot of fun to watch.

The crowd was light when the gates opened at five after five:
505 opening crowd 9.11.JPGI ran in and spent the first round of Angels batting practice in the right field seats.  I didn’t snag anything up there and at the end of the round I walked down to the foul pole in right field.  I wasn’t there more than a few minutes before I snagged my first baseball of teh day.  It was a foul hit by an Angels righty.  It landed a few sections to my left.  I was running for it along with a few other people and the ball took a crazy bounce toward the section I was in but a few rows further from the field.  Then, it ricocheted off a seat a section to my left, then took a bounce and headed my way.  I ran up a few steps and grabbed it of the ground as it slowed down between sections 134 and 133 in the fifth row.  First of the night–and 267th of my life.

That was it for the home team’s half of BP.  After the Mariners started warming up I got my second baseball of the day from relief pitcher Jamey Wright.
foul pole panorama 9.11.jpgIt was a pretty standard toss from about twenty feet away after I couldn’t extend out over the fence to make a catch.  The ball bounced over to Jamey and he lobbed it my way.  I gave that ball away later in the evening to a young Angels fan.

Note to everyone:  Pay attention during batting practice.  From my vantage point near the foul pole I watched a middle-aged guy in the front row of the pavilion get smacked in the head by a BP home run.  It literally went bat to head.
injured guy 9.11.JPGKnocked his glasses off, he fell to the concrete, ushers and security took him away–he walked off under his own power so that’s a good sign… but PAY ATTENTION!

After batting practice I got shut out at the M’s dugout but I snagged ball #3 on the evening from Erick Aybar on the third base side after he finished his warmup throwing just before the national anthem.

Michelle and I had seats in the upper level and we decided to sit up there so I could try to snag a foul ball.
lower view panorama 9.11.jpgWith Felix Hernandez and Ervin Santana pitching, I figured guys would be fouling a ton of pitches off.  I was right–but it didn’t help me get one of ’em.

The Angels were up 5-0 after five inning s and 7-0 after seven innings.  The highlight of the night was watching Santana mow down the Mariners and also getting to see Hank Conger and Mark Trumbo (two up and coming prospects) get their first at-bats of their careers.  Conger made contact… but struck out.
conger first ab 9.11.JPGTrumbo whiffed on three pitches and looked bad doing it.
trumbo first ab 9.11.JPGHernandez is a tough assignment for your first MLB at-bat, I guess.

Santana was shutting out the Mariners for seven and a third spectacular innings before giving up a home run to Ichiro with two men on.  That ended his night.  The bullpen did well to help bail him out and earn Santana the win.

Since most of the fans had left in the seventh… I convinced Michelle that we should head down to the dugout.  She lingered back near the concourse but I spent the eighth and ninth innings with this as my view:
ninth inning view 9.11.JPGAnd here’s a picture of Jose Lopez fouling a ball into the dirt and off toward first base a bit:
lopez foul 9.11.JPGAnd here’s a picture of that very same baseball in my glove:
caught foul ball 9.11.JPGspot of foul ball catch 9.11.JPGTaa-daa!  Kevin Jepsen threw him a fastball that Lopez barely got a piece of.  I took the photo, then put my camera down and, well… Ball #4 on the night and my 270th of my lifetime!

Over to the right is the ball and the point of view from where I was sitting.  It happened pretty quickly and I was lucky to get a shot of the foul in action.  Luckily, it wasn’t a line drive or I might have gotten clocked–it took a nice bounce though.

And just for kicks, here’s a shot of Ichiro batting:
ichiro batting 9.11.JPGThat’s for Tim and Todd.

fireworks lot 9.11.JPGThe Angels would hold on for the victory, 7-4.

By that point at least half of the fans had left.  It was And there were fireworks after the game.  Michelle and I walked to the car and passed by the staging area… this was a much better fireworks view.

I’d only go to two more games this season–both at Angel Stadium–and by now you know the Halos didn’t make the playoffs… not even close.

But we had a great time and I added four baseballs to my total.  A night well spent.

Always glad to see the home team pound out a win.

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!

5/26/09 at Angel Stadium

Man, I’ve got to get to a few other stadiums this year!  It seems like all of my entries are about Anaheim.  It is steadily becoming a second home for me…

I attended this game by myself.  Michelle was prepping for wedding things with her family and I ended up selling my extra tickets on craigslist.  I arrived at the Home Plate Gate at about 4:30pm for the 7:05 start.  When I got there, here’s how many people were around.

To my left:

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To my right:

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Behind me:

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And the gates in front of me:

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While time passed I realized that there would be a pretty light crowd for batting practice.  I remember thinking I’ve got to to better than one baseball today.  I knew this would be my last game for a while so I was hoping to have a really good time even though I was by myself.

A BP regular named Terry introduced himself to me as we were waiting for the gates to open.  He then started talking to a guy that would race out to the pavilion with me at 5:00… we ran the whole way and I stayed right on his heels.  Unfortunately, there were no Easter eggs to be found.  I did end up introducing myself and found out his name is Rob, I had seen him at nearly every BP I’d been to at Angel Stadium since last summer so it was nice to finally meet.  I owe my first ball of the day to Rob’s generosity, actually.  Kendry Morales smashed a deep drive over both our heads and we both were running for it as the ball bounced through the seats.  Rob was just a few feet ahead of me but he definitely gets the assist on this one for letting me have the ball even though he totally got to where it was first.  Thanks, Rob.  Later I saw San Diego ballhawk, TC, in the stands (who I recognized from Zack’s blog) and said hi to him, too.  I was making all kinds of new acquaintances at this game!

Terry stayed down near the foul pole but Rob, TC, and I each made a nice catch (or two) up in the pavilion during Angels BP.  I was right about BP being a lightly attended affair.  Here’s the crowd during the first half of BP:
IMGP3202.JPGRob’s in the navy blue shirt, TC’s in the black.  It did fill up a bit by the time the White Sox finished.  But, by that point I’d done the majority of my snagging for the afternoon.  I would never have expected the Angels to hit more home runs than the White Sox during batting practice but that’s the way it went.  After that first Morales snag, I didn’t have to wait long for the next one.  Again, Morales stepped into the cage (batting from the left side) and launched one about six rows deep and a section to my right.  I ran through a row and up an aisle and throw another half row and caught it on a dead run about six inches about six inches above the seats.  That one felt good!  I looked at the clock and it was 5:05pm.  Two baseballs in five minutes!  Not too shabby…

It slowed down a bit, though, and I didn’t snag another ball until the last round of Angels BP.  Erick Aybar (showing a bit more power of late) smacked one that just cleared the 18 ft. wall in right and I moved a bit to my left to catch it.  Ball #3 on the day and the 56th ball in my collection!

I figured, as the Angels headed into their dugout and the White Sox began to hit, that I’d get at least that many baseballs during their portion of BP.  They’d been hitting bombs the day before.  Nope–it’s like the Sox forgot to eat their spinach on this day.  A few homers went to left field and two or three got it near me… but I wasn’t close enough to any of them to snag ’em.  I had Jim Thome positioned perfectly but he failed to hit any homers in BP… and he’d hit at least a dozen up to the seats on Memorial Day.  ::sigh::
IMGP3204.JPGI did manage to get the attention of D.J. Carrasco (in the #53 jersey, above) after he signed a few autographs near the foul pole.  He started talking to Octavio Dotel (on the right, above), who’d been messin’ with a few Sox fans: faking tosses to them, saying he would sign ALL the autographs they wanted–from 18 ft. below them, etc. and then D.J. fielded a ball.  I called out for it from about ten rows back, “Hey, D.J., how ’bout one up here, please?”  He looked up and said, “What happened down here?” gesturing toward the Field Level seats near the pole.

“I dunno… I’ve been up here.”

He responded, “Down here, man.  A lot of foul balls to get.”

“I’ve been trying to catch home runs.  I figured you guys would be hitting a bunch out up here.”

He said something to Dotel, who looked at me and then Dotel said, “Naw… I threw one to her, and that guy over there.”  They were determining if I was worthy of being tossed a ball.  I pointed to my White Sox hat as I walked down to the edge of the wall… they saw my hat and D.J. said, “Alright, you gonna catch it?”

I told him, “You want me to go long?  Yeah, I’ll catch it.”  He laughed and I put my glove up.  He threw me a strike… and he threw it hard.  Remember that conversation for later.

Perfect.  I thanked him and told him he’d pitched well the night before.  He said, “Thanks,” and that was my fourth ball of the day.  Sweet!

BP kind of died after that… I got dissed by Matt Thornton for the second day in a row.  I even tried the, “How about a ball for another Matt?” that had worked on Matt Palmer two weeks earlier.  No luck.

IMGP3207.JPGI headed down toward the White Sox dugout as batting practice wrapped up and I saw a player signing near the camera well along the first base line.  I asked a friendly Sox fan who it was.  He told me it was Chris Getz.  As you may recall, I am a fan of this kid.  So, I determined I should try to get his autograph.  And get it I did, after wriggling through the mass of fans trying to get his attention.  It’s a little sloppy but I like the #17 he signed, when I saw him get his first hit in the big leagues last summer in Chicago he wore a different number.  Here’s his signature on my ticket stub from the game:
getz auto.jpgThen I settled in for the matchup behind the dugout.  No infielders warmed up before the first inning, so no baseball there.  And, try as I might, I couldn’t get Paul Konerko to toss me a third out ball all game long.  I was close to one but rather than trample the little kid next to me I opted to stay stuck at four.
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A lot of foul balls came near me but I couldn’t get a glove on any of them.  That’s my new goal: to catch a foul ball… as it seems that my next baseball will put my at thirty for the season (a humble goal I set for myself in April).  Foul ball, here I come.
field level angels.whitesox panorama.jpgThe game was alright… the Angels lost 4-2, which wasn’t terrible considering the slaughter they suffered the night before.  There were 38,040 fans in attendance… about 5,000 less than the previous evening.  Bobby Abreu hit his first home run of the season… maybe that’ll get him going.  Vlad got a hit, his first since coming of the DL… it was a single (BAH!).  And Joe Saunders pitched well, giving up only 3 earned runs in 6+ innings.  Bartolo Colon pitched for the White Sox (remember when he won a Cy Young Award in ’05?) and only gave up one run, and though the Angels tried to mount a comeback against the bullpen, it wasn’t meant to be.

As I was positioned behind the dugout trying to get a ball (or the lineup cards from Ozzie, which came soooo close to me) MLBallhawk, John Witt appeared next to me.  After we both didn’t snag anything at the dugout he mentioned that he was going to hang around for some autographs after the game, if possible.  He gave me a couple tips and we talked for a while.  The coolest thing that happened was that D.J. Carrasco came out and was talking to his family.  I’d seen a kid ask him for an autograph… so, I pulled the ball he’d thrown me out of my bag and walked over to him.

“Excuse me, D.J., could you sign my baseball, please?”

He said, “Sure,” and I handed him the ball and a pen.

As he was signing it I mentioned, “You actually threw me that ball during batting practice today.”

And then he said, “Yeah, I remember you–up top, right?  And you caught it!”

I laughed and replied, “Yeah!  Did you expect that I wouldn’t?”

“You’d be surprised how many fans don’t know how to handle using a glove,” he said, handing the ball back.

We laughed, I thanked him and said, “Have a good night!”

4 baseballs (and 2 autographs) at this game…
IMGP3263.JPGIt may be June 22nd before I get to another game… there’s a chance I’ll be able to get to the Padres/Angels on June 13th… I’ve got a little something to do this weekend: marry my lovely fiancee!!!  Then it’s her graduation the weekend after that and then a Caribbean cruise for the honeymoon!  So, baseball is on the backburner for a while.  Thanks for reading!