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.
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.
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.
I’d be heading back to see the O’s and Angels on Friday.
I was back at the Big A again just hours after I’d left. I knew that this evening’s activity would be truncated… I had things to take care of at home so I had decided to leave after two innings of play. But that meant I had a full BP session to work with!
I ran out to the seating area in right field as soon as the Home Plate Gate opened up. I was the first one out there and I checked around for Easter eggs but there weren’t any to be found. I focused on the hitters for a few minutes but there just wasn’t anything flyin’ out my way. It’s a shame, too, since the seats were still relatively empty after five to ten minutes:
Soon enough, super-prospect Mike Trout fielded a ball as he was goofing around in right field and I asked him to toss it up. He threw me a strike in the first row of Section 237. It was a standard Selig ball that also had PRACTICE on it… but I was especially psyched to get a ball from Trout since he’s such a highly-touted up-and-comer. Here’s the ball:
A while later I was in almost the same spot when I got a toss-up from pitcher Bobby Cassevah. He threw it to me in the first row at the bottom of the staircase between Section 237 and Section 238. Take note if you’re playing for toss-ups in Anaheim… that first row in either of those sections is the place to be. The Angels just weren’t hitting anything out… I ended up giving that Cassevah ball away to a young fan after batting practice ended.
I tried left field after a while because anyone on the Angels that’s not in the first group of hitters the fans get to see that might be able to hit a ball out is right-handed. My move yielded no additional snags, unfortunately, even though I got close to a couple of screamers down the line. And baseballs seemed juuuuusst out of reach throughout my BP experience.
I headed back to right field for the Rangers portion of BP, waiting for their powerful lefties to connect. The only ball I could get my glove on through their whole BP session was a bomb hit by David Murphy. It was a commemorative ball that I caught on the fly in the sixth row of Section 238. It always feels good to make a snag on the fly–so that picked me up after a rather disappointing eighty minutes of batting practice.
I drank some water, made a few notes, and then headed down to where I knew the Angels would warm up after I got shut out at the Ranger dugout. The coolest thing that happened over there was that, as the Angels were stretching, someone in Howie Kendrick’s family was in the nearby seats and brought Howie’s son down to see his dad. Howie picked him up from the first row and let him run around on the field a bit before the little tyke started playing catch with his dad. Well, it was more like fetch… because the kid was too small to actually catch the ball that was getting tossed to him…
But that boy can throw! I was impressed… that toddler has a better arm than some adults I know… and he appears to be (at this point) ambidextrous. He was throwing strikes to his dad with both arms! It was a pretty heartwarming experience… when the Angels were done throwing I didn’t snag another ball from any of them.
I wanted to play for third out balls… so I ran back and forth for two innings but came up empty. I left after the bottom of the second, still on three baseballs snagged for the day. I didn’t miss much of a game… the Angels lost (when you’re playing guys like Effren Navarro and Gil Valesquez, it’s clearly not that big of a deal to win) and the Rangers secured home field advantage in the playoffs… and I watched the game end from the comfort of my couch.
I had an afternoon game to go to the next day.
It was a Saturday–Michelle had to work that evening–I wanted to go to a ball game. Luckily, my uncle called me to say that he had four tickets to that evening’s Angels/Mariners game. Then he asked, did I want two of them? Score! I got the family discount–Stubhub! can’t provide that! So, after picking up the tickets I drove to the stadium and met Chris at the gates–he was using the second ticket. We headed in and I took off for right field.
It was a frustrating batting practice. Here was my view for part of it:
I would eventually move closer to right field. I just wasn’t having any luck… but I had plenty of close calls. I’ll just cut to the chase: I ended up with one ball through the whole ninety minutes of BP. It was tossed by Jason Vargas and here it is:
I know the photo’s a bit dark bit it was a nice 50th ball with just one scuff on it… below the logo. In case you’re wondering what that number on my palm means, I wrote ‘340’ so that I would remember the next ball I snagged was my 340th ball.
After the Angels did some pregame throwing and I missed out on a ball on that side I went to the M’s side of the field and, well, here’s Jack Wilson and Kyle Seager heading into the dugout after their warmup throws:
See how there are about three people looking over at the camera in that photo? It’s because a moment before I took that picture Wilson tossed me this:
So a poor outing (from a snagging standpoint) got a little bit better.
I went to sit behind the Angel dugout for the first inning and sent my wife a picture message that said: I wonder how long I’ll get to stay here.
It turns out those fans showed up in the fourth inning–but my prime real estate didn’t get me another baseball. Still, it was an excellent view of Ichiro as he prepared to swing:
Well, he’d just stolen second… Aybar is making sure to keep a tag on Ichi while, I believe, the ball is getting switched out since it was scuffed and would no longer be usable in the game.
I spent a little time behind the M’s dugout, too:
Torii took that pitch for a strike, BTW. After about five innings I checked in with my uncle (and his wife) near their seats:
My uncle Ivar is the man responsible for me being as big a baseball fan as I am–he started taking me to games when I was a little kid (and they were still called the California Angels). And during the top of the sixth I told them I would be going on a brief walk. I walked down to the Angel dugout and took a seat about fifteen rows back. And when Franklin Gutierrez hit a grounder to second baseman Howie Kendrick, Kendrick fired the ball to Mark Trumbo at first for the final out of the frame. And when Trumbo got near the foul line I waved my arms and called out to him from about six or seven rows back and he threw me the gamer. Nice!
The night ended up being just fine from a snagging perspective.
Ludacris was scheduled to perform a postgame concert at Angel Stadium and I promised my uncle I would take a bunch of pictures–he also made sure I took one of this pre-recorded interview that played on the jumbotron between innings:
As for the game… well, let’s see… the Angels only scored one run… Treyvon Robinson hit his first career home run (and some fan jumped a railing to chase after it… then encountered some not-too-pleased security personell)… Blake Beavan tossed eight quality innings and Brandon League threw a scoreless ninth. I was behind the M’s dugout at the time:
And League was pretty efficient. He got Vernon Wells to pop out. Then walked Howie Kendrick.
And then Mark Trumbo grounded into a double play to end the game. :sigh:
I hung around for the postgame interview as Beavan (who’s 6′ 7″) got interviewed and the relievers walked in from the bullpen.
I didn’t get anything tossed to me though except for a few pieces of bubble gum. A little later, once the stage was set up, assembled, and folks were let onto the infield dirt, Ludacris emerged from the visitor’s dugout and played an hour-long set.
There were over 42,000 in attendance for the game and I’d say at least 25,000 stuck around for the concert. Some of the M’s were in the dugout watching… including Adam Kennedy–who then walked onto the field in street clothes with his kid and disappeared into the crowd (he came back a little later).
I left before Ludacris finished to beat the traffic out of the parking lot.
Just hours after leaving Angel Stadium I was back in line for more… waiting for the gates to open. Well, I wasn’t waiting long. It was a day game after a night game and the pregame crowd was pretty light. There was absolutely no one at any gate but the Home Plate Gate so I took a walk around the stadium. During my walk I passed the right field tunnel and looked down it to see there were no BP related activities going on. I had figured as much. I saw a group pf Rangers pitchers walking toward the outfield… that was it. Devin rode by me on a bike and asked if anything was goin’ on. I said there wasn’t much happening–he debated whether or not to even head inside. I’d see him (and his wife and granddaughter) inside later. I passed the players’ parking lot and then the left field tunnel… again, all I saw were a few Rangers pitchers in the outfield… and I ended up at the Left Field Gate. Chris was waiting there, too, so we talked for a few minutes before 11:00am rolled around and we sprinted in to the seats. As soon as I saw the field I noticed a bunch of Angels pitchers playing catch. I took this photo a minute later:
The folks throwing are (from left to right) Dan Haren (in the navy undershirt), Tyler Chatwood (throwing with someone just out of frame), Jordan Walden, a trainer throwing to Haren, Rich Thompson, Hisanori Takahasi’s translator (throwing to Thompson), Takahashi (with his arms out), and Scott Downs. Downs and Takahashi are laughing–at a poor throw by one of them, I think.
You may notice that closer Jordan Walden isn’t throwing with anyone. He was the odd man out in this warmup–so, from about three rows back in the stands I called out to him, “Hey, Jordan! You need someone to throw with?” He turned and smiled, waved, then he said, “What, you wanna throw?”
I said, “Yeah, I’ll throw with you.” He kind of waved his glove and said, “Nah, I can’t.” He’s still new to the big leagues–I don’t think he’s aware yet that, yes, he can throw a ball to a fan… then ask for it back… and so on. He’s still kind of humble. Walden chuckled and started to turn around and I said, “C’mon, I’ll throw with you. Really!” I held up my glove. Walden kind of looked around (I think to see if anyone was going to tell him ‘no’ to what he was about to do. Then he grabbed a ball, wound up, and tossed it to me. I caught it, then threw it back. Then he threw it back to me–and this continued for a solid minute or so until another pitcher, recent call-up Horacio Ramirez, jogged to the field. I threw the ball back to Walden and he smiled, nodded his head, then turned around to warm up with, you know, a professional player. I called out, “Thanks, Jordan!” And then I moved a section to my right… keeping my eye on the pair. I talked with Chris for a minute, then Rob… and then I moved back toward my left when I could see that Ramirez and Walden were finishing up:
As they closed the gap between them I made sure there was plenty of space around me–I was just hoping Walden would end up with the ball. I asked him, “Jordan, could you throw me that ball, please?” He had started to tuck it into his glove–then he saw me and his body language signaled to me that he knew he should toss it to me–that it would mean way more to me than anyone else. And he threw it right to me. I yelled a huge, “Thank you!” to him and had a new favorite baseball in my collection. Now, I’ve never caught a home run–I’ve gotten a couple foul balls… but those, to me, aren’t nearly as special as this one. I got to play catch with the closer of my home team and then he threw me the ball–AND it was commemorative! Then, Walden started signing autographs:
Fans flocked to him and I noticed which way he was moving up the line–and I got into a spot along the wall–and while I was waiting for him I got Rich Thompson and Tyler Chatwood to autograph a 2011 team ball I’ve been working on. And then Walden got to me and I asked him to “sign it on the sweet spot, please.” Then I told him, “That ball is going on display in my home. Thanks so much, I appreciate it.” And check it out:
He even put ASG ’11 on it. New. Favorite. Baseball.
The day was a success at that point. I didn’t need to snag another ball or even have a good seat. Heck, the game could’ve gotten cancelled and I’d have gone home happy. But, thankfully, it was a gorgeous day–the game would be played–and I wasn’t done getting baseballs OR autographs.
I got Colby Lewis’ autograph near the Rangers’ dugout after all the players had cleared the field but him. Here was the view of the field a minute after I got the Lewis autograph:
Then it was dead for about twenty minutes. Zero player activity. During the dead time I photographed the Walden ball and took a seat in the shade–there, I took a picture of where Tommy Hunter had thrown me a baseball the day before:
Hunter was standing to the left of the Summer Concert Series sign (LUDACRIS!) and I was standing to the right of the staircase behind the batter’s eye. Nice arm, huh?
A little later, some Angels came out to throw and after Howie Kendrick warmed up he tossed his ball… to someone else. But then he went to the ball bag and pulled out two brand new 50th baseballs and one went a section to my left, the other one went to me… someone tipped it and I had to pick it up off the ground… but it was still in great shape! The spot of the catch can be seen in the photo to the right.
Then, Kendrick started signing autographs and I got him on my 2011 team ball. I debated having him sign the ball he’d just thrown to me–but I opted not to go that route since I already have his signature on a ball from last year right on the sweet spot. Moments later, when when Maicer Izturis finished his warmup tosses with Erick Aybar he lofted me the ball. The row I was in was empty– which was good because as he was running his underhanded toss was a bit off the mark. I moved a couple of steps to my right and I caught it here:
All three baseballs were commemorative. Yay!
Before the game started I had gotten five autographs and three baseballs–with no BP! And I was all set to enjoy a fantastic pitching matchup. Jered Weaver vs. CJ Wilson.
Here was my view of the game’s first pitch:
Since it was a day game and attendance was lighter than usual, I was able to jog back and forth between the home dugout and the visitor dugout for each inning.
Unfortunately, the two starters were striking guys out left and right and I was almost always on the wrong end of the dugouts. It was frustrating–but at least I was getting my cardio workout for the day.
In the second inning the Angels managed to score a run without getting a hit thanks to an error by Endy Chavez in center field. I took a photo (left) of the scoreboard to mark the occasion–it was a pretty important run.
Wilson and Weaver were mowing down their respective opposition. And the most tense moment in the game game in the sixth inning, when Weaver worked around a bases loaded jam:
Um… that half of a third base coach is due to my panorama-making software. Hmm.
And he went back out for the seventh before giving way to Scott Downs in the eighth and then Jordan Walden (my new best friend) in the ninth.
Remember that one unearned run? That was the only run of the game! And the Angels got the win, 1-0. I didn’t snag anything else once the game started but I still had a blast.
It was Dan Haren bobblehead night at the Big A and I was expecting a big crowd. I was happy to have Michelle with me at this game though–it had been over a month since the last time she’d come to a game with me.
My first ball came off the bat of Howie (I’ll never call him Howard) Kendrick. He sliced a ball down the right field line. I was able to position myself perfectly along the wall and scoop it off the warning track. In my notes I wrote: #317-scoop Kendrick hit RF corner pretty colors. The “pretty colors” thing came from the variety of markings on the ball. I took the following photo when I got home that night.
The photo doesn’t do it justice but it had green grass stains, reddish-brown warning track dirt, dark green markings from hitting the Anaheim seats, and a lighter brown marking (probably from pine tar/rosin), black bat marks, and blue markings from something else. What causes blue markings on a BP baseball?
After that snag I ran up to the pavilion to try to chase down a home run – and because the Nationals pitchers were starting to conclude their warmups – and I had a plan. Howie Kendrick smacked a homer the opposite way and I sprinted a section to my left… I couldn’t quite make the catch on the fly but the ball rattled around in the row in front of me and I grabbed it with my bare hand. That ball had a worn out practice stamp from where the bat had smacked it:
That would be the last ball I would get from the Angels… but the Nats pitchers ended their stretching and throwing drills and, knowing their pattern after watching them the day before, I called out to Sean Burnett from the pavilion corner:
In the above photo he’s the one doing sit-ups near the warning track. But a moment before he started those sit-ups, this happened:
Bam! A rubbed-up commemorative baseball. All I had to do was yell out, “Sean!” and flap my glove. He fired a strike right up to me. That was Ball #3 on the day.
Ball #4 on the day came off the bat of Danny Espinosa and he smashed a drive to Section 239 of the pavilion and I ran a section and a half to my right, watched the ball fly six feet over my head, and then snagged it from where it settled in a folded seat. It, too, was a commemorative ball. Score. Why were the Angels hitting/throwing me practice balls and the Nats were hitting/throwing me commemoratives?
Anywho, BP wound down and I didn’t snag anything at the dugout. I scarfed down a delicious chicken wrap while I sat with Michelle before pregame throwing, then I darted over to the third baseline and just missed out on getting Erick Aybar’s warmup baseball. But I got this photo that I really like of him catching a throw:
See the ball through the webbing of his glove?
We sat here for dinner and the game:
We moved progressively closer to the field as fans left and the night went on… but we watched as the Angels pounded out eleven runs against the Nationals. I can’t remember the last time I’d seen them score eleven runs! Midway through the contest the presidents ran their race…
And Teddy cheated, knocking down his counterparts…
But he got his comeuppance.
And Abe won.
In case you weren’t sure, George, Abe, and Tom started the race. Teddy was hiding in the right field tunnel. He jumped out, threw a shoulder, knocked down the other three, then did a silly dance before taking off for the finish line. Abe was close on his heels and when Teddy got about twenty-five feet from the finish line he fell down. And Abe passed him up for the win. Teddy thrashed around on the warning track for a good thirty seconds before retreating in shame.
I tried each inning to get a third out ball but Michael Morse kept bouncing the ball to someone in the dugout. He did it every time. The only chances I really had were when flyouts ended the innings and folks like Espinosa or Roger Bernardina ended up with the ball. I just wasn’t having any luck though.
Michelle snapped a photo of me (left) on my return trip from one such attempt. Notice that I am smiling despite being shut out since the end of batting practice on this particular night.
Gotta keep a good attitude! Also… I could really use a haircut.
And I took a few photos in order to create a panorama of our view through the majority of the game.
The Angels won it, 11-5, and we got home late… and had to go tot work early in the morning. But that didn’t stop me from staying up just a bit later to photograph the four baseballs I’d gotten at this game:
I would be heading back the next day!
You know, I’ve got no excuse for not getting these last couple of entries from the 2010 season up… but on the bright side, you get to read a baseball entry about a month early because I fell behind on my blogging!
So, this game on the 25th of September out in Anaheim was the last Saturday home game the Angels would have and the last time I figured there would be guaranteed batting practice going on–so I had to be there. Michelle came with me and, as usual, we got there early, I ran in as soon as the gates opened and I hoped for a successful day of snagging.
The Angels were hitting as I made it to the the right field seats and since there weren’t any Easter eggs around I played each of the batters hoping they would go yard. My first chance of the day came after a blooper from one of the other ballhawks in the pavilion. A guy who’s a regular at BP had a homer lined up and I was rushing in from his right side. Seeing he was in position for the catch in the second row I put on the breaks and stopped about six feet from him. He had a perfect snag set up but the ball bounced off the heel of his glove and back down to the field. He cursed at himself and walked a section to his left hanging his head… but I could see the ball still sitting on the warning track 18 feet below me. Reliever Michael Kohn walked over to pick it up. I think he must have seen what had happened because after I asked him to toss the ball up he made a comment about making sure I could catch it. I said, “Yeah, gimme your best shot!” He lobbed an easy one up to me and sure enough, it was the bobbled ball (with just one distinct mark on it–from where it had hit the warning track).
Shortly after that the relievers ran off the field:
In the above photo you can see Kohn in the center of the shot and the spot where I was when he threw me the ball, right there in the first row. I was on the board for the day. I thought briefly about offering it to my fellow snagger but I knew that if someone tried that with me I would have politely refused… so I kept the ball but agreed to give it away to a young fan later that night.
The first group of White Sox hitters were all righties and Juan Pierre (who, in ten years in the majors has hit 14 home runs) so I hung out near the foul pole in right field hoping for a slicer down the line. A few balls came close but they all seemed just a bit out of reach. That short wall is tough to judge sometimes.
Well, eventually I got my shot off the bat of Juan Pierre. The ball went slicing down the line, took a bounce off the wall to my left and skittered to me across the dirt of the track. I leapt up onto the wall, leaned out over, stretched out as far as I could and made the backhanded snag. The ball was worn, with brown and green stains all over it–but it was mine and looked perfect to me.
Despite my best efforts to snag a BP homer from the White Sox, there just weren’t more than a couple to be had and, though I made it to their dugout after BP–nothing got tossed up my way. I sat down with Michelle and convinced her to head over to the Angels’ side with me for their pregame throwing. It paid off…
I’ve mentioned before that Howie Kendrick and Peter Bourjos end their warmups by throwing knuckleballs to each other. Well, on this warm evening they did just that… and as they finished Howie ended up with the ball so I stood up and yelled, “Right here, Howie! Show me the knuckleball!” Wouldn’t you know it? He did… he threw a pretty darn good flutter-ball that arched over the first six rows and settled inside my black Mizuno. Three on the day!
After the anthem I ran back over to the visiting team’s dugout as their players began throwing. At this point in the season some September callups were in the lineup and I think that, due to my rosters, I was one of the only people in the stadium that knew that number 22 on the Sox was Brent Morel. He’d only appeared in about 15 games for them in 2010 and as he finished throwing I called out to him for the baseball he’d been using. I was here:And as Morel ran to my left he tossed me the ball from the steps of the dugout, over the camera well shown here:
I tried to give the ball away to the kid in the Sox hat two photos above but he told me he didn’t want it. So, back to my wife I went–we grabbed food and sat down to watch the game from these seats:
Mostly, I was hoping for an Angels win and looking forward to seeing Manny Ramirez hit for his new team. I only got to see one of those things though…
Scott Kazmir was pitching for the Halos and he gave up five runs in less than four innings. Ugh. He’d earn his 15th loss of the season as the Angels, who started out well with two runs in the first, wouldn’t score for the rest of the game. Manny laced a double off Kazmir for an RBI. Juan Pierre got an RBI, too. So, that was… good. And I ended up with four baseballs–I gave away two of ’em. But the Angels fell to 75-79 on the year and I knew the playoffs were in doubt. still, a crowd of more than 40,000 came out to cheer on the Halos and that’s saying something. Hopefully, 2011 will be a better year.
After losing two of three to the Rays I was hoping that the Angels could keep some playoff hopes alive by beating up on the Orioles. It was a cool Saturday afternoon in Anaheim, and my sister-in-law and her boyfriend would be meeting Michelle and I at the game.
This was also a way for us to relax before the big move. Michelle and I would be moving out of Irvine to a new apartment the very next day…
When the gates opened I ran in and set up shop in right field. I was hoping to catch a homer on the fly for my first baseball of the evening but I settled for a ball from new reliever, Jordan Walden. BP regular Devin had a ball glance off his glove and fall back to the field… I happened to be nearby and asked Walden if he could spare it. He could–and I was on the board.
The ball was in really great shape. There were just two marks on it. One brown spot from where it hit the warning track after the miscue in the stands and this:
Bleh… a big ol’ PRACTICE stamp.
I went down to the corner in right for the remaining portion of Angels BP. And didn’t catch a darn thing. But here’s a photo of Walden, who throws 99 MPH, by the way.
The Orioles came out to throw and I watched them from field level as the Angels finished up their portion of batting practice.
After a few minutes of nothing slicing toward me down the line I headed back upstairs, knowing that a couple of their lefties hit the ball pretty well. But the next ball I caught was thrown, too, by Alan Dunn. His throw was a little off, and I had to barehand it since it was heading to my right a bit but I made the catch leaning over the wall in the spot shown below:
And the ball had a pretty neat-looking mark on the logo:
Before BP ended I had noticed a ball that got hit to deep right field, hit the wall… and stayed there. Can you see it?
How ’bout now?
It got stuck on the bottom of the scoreboard… I’d never seen that before.
Anyway, that was it for batting practice. I was a bit frustrated… I didn’t even get anything at the O’s dugout. So, I chatted with my group (who’d all arrived by that point) and we walked over and found a place to sit down over third base as the Angels came out to throw.
Peter Bourjos and Erick Aybar ended up with baseballs after they were done throwing… and when Bourjos threw his to someone a section away I turned my attention to Aybar. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a baseball floating through the air. I wasn’t hallucinating… no, remember that in a previous post I mentioned that Bourjos and Howie Kendrick like to end their warmups by throwing knuckleballs to each other? Well, a knuckler came flying in toward me–I pivoted, threw my glove up, and caught it… and looked to the field (to my left) to see Howie Kendrick there–he must have had another baseball in his pocket.
Another interesting mark. Thanks, Howie!
I went back to the group again and we decided to watch the first inning or two from the seats we’d found, then get dinner, then head up to the view level (in potential foul ball seating).
I made an attempt to get a third out ball after the first inning but failed… and then we all grabbed our things, got some grub, and ended up here:
I like these seats because: 1) I snagged my first foul ball just to the left of this section and 2) the row in front of me was empty and in front of that row is a camera well where no one sits. It’s the most empty space around in the upper levels in Angel Stadium.
Well, to make a long story short, the Angels couldn’t score any runs… and the crowd was less than abuzz since the teams involved weren’t heading to the playoffs, and no foul ball came near us… though one ended up about two sections to my left. The score was 5-0 Baltimore by the time they’d batted in the eighth. At least we all got free candy jars as a giveaway item.
We moved down to the lower level:
And I went for a third out toss at the end of the eighth. I made my way down near the Oriole dugout and when Alberto Callaspo grounded out to end the frame I stood up in my seat in the third row. I’d been watching Ty Wigginton all night as Baltimore ran off the field: he wasn’t one of those first-basemen who tossed the ball to the front row… no, he threw the ball a bit deeper, and he seemed to be seeking fans that were on their feet.
Sure enough, I yelled out, “Ty! Right here, man! Ty!” And Wigginton fired the ball to me in the third row as all the little kids filed down to the front. It was a beautiful, rubbed-up gamer. Thanks, Ty!
Well, that made my night right there. I walked back to the group and sat down excitedly, then took a picture of my prize:
The scoreboard told me there were over 43,000 fans at the game but by the ninth inning, down by five–most of them had left. I tried to get something post-game from the O’s but didn’t succeed.
Oh, well… four baseballs, a candy jar, and a night with the family got me charged for the big move.
At home (our new home!), this is how the room looks as I organize my things after a game…
Thanks for reading.