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.
So, before every Tuesday Angels home game AM 830 does an afternoon radio broadcast from a sports bar down the street from Angel Stadium. It’s called Throwbacks and I’d never been there… before August 25th of 2009.
We showed up to a fairly crowded bar at about 3:20pm. We had to grab random stools from the bar and take them to some empty counter space near the pool tables. At about 3:50pm Rex Hudler, who hosts the show (Jeff Biggs is the normal host–Hudler does the special Tuesday shows) arrived to applause. A minute later our food arrived… to applause… from the two of us. We were starving!
Chips & salsa, a club sandwich for me, a chicken Caesar wrap for Michelle… and crinkle cut fries. Everything was good. The fries were great.
Just before 4:00pm a tall guy in a blue shirt walked through the door. People started cheering… it was the man we all came to see, Chuck Finley. Finley has more wins than any other Angels pitcher in franchise history with 165. The crowd watched the interview between Hudler and Finley intently:
I also learned (during the broadcast) that he is the only pitcher in MLB history to–lemme make sure I get this right–strike out four batters in one inning three different times in his career. Maybe I’m a stat geek but I thought that was cool.
Here’s “Fin” (mimicking holding a microphone) with Hudler at the broadcast table:
A line quickly formed… for autographs. I was among those in line. It only took a few minutes and I got Finley on a 1990 Score card. He did it in black Sharpie… I went back later and got him twice, in blue, on Upper Deck cards from 1990 and 1995. Sweet!
I posed with the cards for Michelle:
Oh, and the cap I was wearing had been signed by Rex Hudler back on 9/11/08 before a game.
But wait… there’s more! Finley was entertaining and the crowd was lively. He told stories about driving a tractor growing up, how he was right-handed as a kid but his dad bought him a lefty glove… and he then went on to pitch left-handed but he plays golf and writes with his right hand. At about 5:30pm they were going to do a “raffle” of some sort…
As it turns out, the broadcast team was giving away tickets to folks that had raffle tickets. I had one, Michelle had one, and a guy that was just there for autographs had left early and given us his ticket. What, I just hand you this ticket and you hand me two tickets? What?!? We ended up with 6 tickets to Friday’s game against Oakland and a bunch of coupons… plus a couple of Angels baseball cards. Sweet!
And we had great food and a great time. I’ll definitely be going back to Throwbacks!