Ah, Labor Day. A perfect day for a trip to the ballpark! And I was taking my wife with me to watch the Angels take on the Mariners in this AL West showdown. Also in attendance was Zack Hample–ballhawk extraordinaire–and as I stood in line in the fifth of five lines I noticed him a few lines over.
Zack had been speaking with a columnist from the OC Register but took a moment out of his media day to pose for a photo with me and sign my copy of The Baseball that he’d published earlier in the year (photo courtesy of Zack’s blog–and Brandon Sloter). We chatted about strategy and we’d end up running into each other throughout the day. And you can read Zack’s entry about this game on his blog. I ran in and quickly made it out to the right field seats. The gates had opened at 4:02pm and at 4:04pm I got my first ball of the day from Bobby Cassevah. A simple toss-up to get me on the board. Not five minutes later I scored my second baseball of the day by asking Hisanori Takahashi for one that he had fielded–I guess my Japanese is still passable. That ball had a practice logo on it.
That was it for the Angels… they just didn’t have anyone hitting much out. I could tell Zack was a little frustrated–but he passed the time by talking to his reporter colleague and attempting to use his famous glove trick from atop the 18 ft. right field wall. A couple of us warned him that security didn’t like devices… but I guess he could always plead ignorance if they tried to stop him. I think he managed to get two baseballs before security asked him to step into the concourse–he was back a few minutes later–sans glove trick.
I, meanwhile, snagged the 365th ball of my life off the bat of Kyle Seager, who hit a homer into the second row of the seats. I was in the third row to the left of where the ball would land and Zack, apparently, had been standing in the second row to the right of where the ball was headed. We converged as the ball descended and I reached out and caught the ball in the the second row as Zack came zooming in from the right and his glove knocked into my hat and glasses. Luckily, I held onto the ball and Zack checked on me to 1) make sure I’d caught it, and 2) to see if I was OK. I was fine. Now I can say I got hit in the head by Zack Hample…
My next ball was hit by an M’s players that I couldn’t identify–it was a standard ball, as were all the baseballs I’d snagged at this point, and I ended up giving it away to a small boy. And that was it for BP. I had been hoping to catch one off the bat of Ichiro but it just wasn’t in the cards. And I’d spent a few minutes down by the RF foul pole… as you can see here:
That photo is courtesy of the OC Register… Zack and I are in M’s caps. But I came up empty there and at the Mariner dugout.
Next up, Angels warm-up tosses over on the LF line. Michelle took this photo as I headed down to the field once the Angels came out to stretch.
I was in the second row and got Maicer Izturis to toss me my fifth ball of the day–another standard Selig ball.
I sat with Michelle down the first baseline a bit as the game got underway and headed toward the dugout whenever the Angels had two outs on ’em, hoping I could get a third out toss from Adam Kennedy, the M’s first baseman for the day.
I saw Zack get one in the first inning–he had no competition, and he moves pretty quick! In all seriousness, there is a reason that dude has snagged as many balls as he has–he’s good. He’s fast, he plans well to find the right place to be, and he’s skilled. I’ve met Zack twice now (the last time was on 9/2/08 at Dodger Stadium) and he’s made some pretty impressive snags that I’ve gotten to see in person.
On another third out try I leaped for a ball that Zack grabbed and I sort of fell into him a bit… no one fell down and I was glad that he could grab a gamer in Anaheim. I got my shot later on in the bottom of the sixth inning. Maicer Izturis grounded out to Adam Kennedy at first and Kennedy stepped on first, then headed to the dugout. I was five rows back in the aisle and he tossed the ball my way. It went just over my head and to the right but got bobbled by a fan behind me and the ball dribbled back to the aisle where I nabbed the game-used commemorative for my sixth on the day!
I wasn’t going to catch Zack (who’d end the night with eleven baseballs) but I was going to come away with a respectable number. The game was winding to a 7-3 Halos victory powered by Mark Trumbo and the heart of the order and by the end of the evening the Angels had advanced to within 2 1/2 games of Texas in the American League West.
After the final out I got my seventh and final ball of the day from Jason Vargas before he retreated into the clubhouse. Michelle and I chatted with Zack for a moment in the seating bowl, Brandon took a picture of us… and then he and I went our separate ways. It had been a pretty darn good holiday weekend.
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.
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:
My next game would be at the Big A two weeks later…
OK… here we go… my first post now that MLBlogs has converted everything to WordPress… I apologize for all the weird formatting things throughout my older blog posts… and for not getting this one posted sooner. It was a great day at the Big A.
Once I was inside the stadium I committed an error. I was in the right field seats and was the first one there–I saw a ball get hit to where near an Angel was shagging balls in the outfield. I thought it was Jordan Walden and yelled, “Hey, Jordan! Could you toss that one up, please?” The guy looked at me for a moment, then tossed the ball back toward the bucket. In that moment of brief face to face time I recognized him as backup catcher Bobby Wilson… not fireballing closer Jordan Walden. Oops… stupid coverups.
That’s Bobby Wilson in the center of the above photo… and the real Jordan Walden is on the right. A few minutes later Wilson fielded a ball closer to center field and, this time, I got his name right when I asked politely for the ball from the first row and he yelled up, “You ready?” I backed up a few feet (in case his throw was going to be short–so it didn’t fall back on the field) and then yelled back, “Sure. Gimme your best shot!” Wilson wound up and delivered a loopy knuckle ball. I almost misplayed it but once it was securely in the pocket of my glove I yelled out, “Nice knuckler!” He gave me a thumbs up, I thanked him… then he headed to a different part of the outfield. Here’s where I caught the ball, on the staircase between Sections 239 and 240:
The ball had a black PRACTICE stamp on the sweet spot.
I’ve decided, after fruitless attempts to catch home runs during the home team’s BP in right field, that I’m going to start snagging in the left field seats from now on… there is just no lefty power in the Angels’ lineup. I spent most of their BP watching balls just miss being home runs. Ugh. So, in the Halos’ last round of batting practice I headed down the first base line and asked a couple of pitchers for toss-ups. Reliever Francisco Rodriguez ended up getting a ball to me in a way I’d never gotten one before. A blooper died on the grass in front of him and he walked toward it. Rodriguez was about ten to fifteen feet from the wall and I was in the third row. As he neared the ball, he flipped it up a few inches with his foot and bounced it to his other foot, then kicked a tailing pop up to me, soccer-style. I moved to my right a little bit and snagged my second ball on the day. It was a standard Selig ball and I ended up giving it away to a kid (the kid in the below photo, actually) a little while later.
That was it for the home team’s BP session and the Indians pitchers had come out to run, stretch, and throw. When Chris Perez arrived near the foul line in front of me without a throwing partner he looked back toward the dugout in a way that I would call ‘longingly.’ I took the opportunity to ask him, “Hey, Chris! You need someone to play catch with?” Then I held up my glove. I’d never actually played catch with a Major League Baseball player before but I’d asked a few–usually they chuckled or just ignored me but Perez responded, “Yeah.” I gestured to my awaiting glove and flapped it open then closed. He asked me, “You’ll throw it back?” I told him I would.
And he reached back and threw the ball to me. Whoa! And then I threw it back to him–and as I released the ball I thought, Man, I hope I don’t embarrass myself. The throw got to Perez all right–I’d have liked it to have been a bit higher but–whatever. This continued for a few more seconds before some guy (perhaps the bullpen catcher) jogged out and on my last throw Chris gave me a wave and then started playing catch with whoever the guy on the field was. Still… pretty cool, right? Then, I thought–I’d better stick around, I bet he’ll end up letting me keep that ball. So, I snapped this picture as Perez and the other dude continued throwing:
Then they finished their throws, chatted for a moment… and wouldn’t you know it?
Perez threw me the ball. I thanked him and then I labeled it with a ‘294’ (as it was the two hundred ninety-fourth ball I’d ever snagged) and tucked it into my backpack. My first baseball that I’d actually thrown back and forth with a Major Leaguer! Sweet!
I’d missed out on a few chances up in the pavilion while I was waiting for Perez to finish throwing so I bolted up the stairs and through the concourse to the right field seats again to catch the last half of a group of lefties. Shin-Soo Choo drilled a ball high into the air and pretty deep. I moved down a few steps to the fourth row and ranged to my left. I was in Section 237 and got to a spot where I anticipated the ball would land, drifted a bit further to my left while tracking the ball, saw the gloves of other fans come darting in from all sides, reached high up and ::SMACK::–I felt the ball hit the pocket of my glove. Whew… it’s always a great feeling to catch a ball on the fly during BP–it’s something I don’t get a lot of chances to do in Anaheim.
That would be the last ball I managed to snag during BP and the Indians jogged off the field unexpectedly at about 6:20pm. Usually the visitors are out there until at least 6:25… so I was a bit late getting to their dugout and didn’t get a toss-up there. I did, however, get Vinnie Pestano’s autograph on my ticket stub.
Now that all the players had cleared the field I drank some water, had a snack, and sat down for a minute in the Field Level down the third base line. I mentioned the coverups the Angels were wearing before–well, the first player to come out of the Halo dugout was catcher Hank Conger and here’s what they were covering up:
I’d forgotten that this game was a Flashback Friday game! The Angels had their 1980s uniforms on for this game. I took a few more photos as the rest of the players came out:
And then I watched as two sets of Angels played catch before the game.
Maicer Izturis ended up with the ball after he and Alexi Amarista finished throwing and he tossed it right to me–almost a brand new ball–just two grey smudges on one side. And a moment later I got my second autograph of the day: Rich Thompson (over at the dugout).
I should take time now to mention that all of my five baseballs snagged at this game so far were standard baseballs–none of them had the Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative logo. I knew I had a good shot of snagging a ball during the game though–so I was counting on getting at least one commemorative before the night was over.
I went over to the Indians’ dugout as the national anthem was sung and snagged a ball during their pregame throwing. Asdrubal Cabrera tossed it to me after he finished throwing with Orlando Cabrera. Here he is in the dugout a bit later:
I was behind the Angel dugout for the top of the first and had a great view… but I failed to get the third out toss. So, I ran over to the Indian dugout as Erick Aybar batted to lead off the bottom of the first:
And when Torii Hunter stepped up to bat with two outs I was ready.
Torii grounded out to the pitcher, Justin Masterson, who threw to first for the third out of the inning. Matt LaPorta was playing first base and I got his attention as he entered the dugout and he tossed me my sixth ball of the night. I couldn’t help but notice that it was a standard ball with dirt and grass stains all over it–the switch! Some first basemen switch the infield warmup ball with the one that’s game used when they come in from the field. LaPorta did this the last time I saw the Angels play the Indians and he was still doing it. I described the situation to a nearby Indians fan and jotted down the following note about ball #298: Hunter grnd out to pitcher Masterson to end 1st – toss – stns grn and brwn – switch game ball – not comm – LaPorta.
After a deep sigh I ran back over to the Angel dugout and the seat I’d previously occupied there was still available–so I sat in it thinking I’d get bumped fairly soon. I didn’t. This was my view (taken later in the evening):
Nice! At one point I did spend a half inning in the left field seats hoping for a home run:
But nothing came remotely close and I really wanted to snag a commemorative before the night was over so I headed back to ‘my’ seat in the second row behind the dugout. While I was there I experienced a Kendrys Morales sighting:
And I found out about a week later that he’d decided to have a second surgery on his ankle–so he’s out for the season–again. Bummer. Anyway, I took a ton of photos and had a great vantage point for the game but I was striking out when it came to third out tosses. More and more kids caught on to the game within a game and they’d crouch by the dugout every time there were two outs. I had to simply try to get myself noticed… something much easier to do if you’re little or a girl. Kids and girls kept getting the toss-ups as the Angels would leave the field.
I wasn’t about to box ’em out or jump in front of anyone… I just waited, inning after inning, and finally, after Alberto Callaspo caught a popout that ended the top of the ninth inning (with the game still tied 1-1, FYI)… I stood up near the dugout, waved my arms, shouted out, “Alberto! Over here! Hey, Alberto–right here, please!”
Beautiful. It was at that moment–my goal for the night accomplished–that I realized I had a shot to break my single game record. I had snagged eight baseballs–something I’d only done once before. And with the game still tied I had a shot for another ball. Also… I was now sitting on 299 baseballs snagged in my lifetime. I could accomplish 300 and set a new personal best for one game.
I figured my best shot would be at the Indians’ dugout… less competition. I went over there for the bottom of the ninth–the Angels didn’t score. No one scored in the tenth… I couldn’t snag the third out ball nor did any fouls come my way. I was hoping that, win or lose, the Indians would toss a ball or two up.
The eleventh inning rolled around and I watched as the Indians were shut out by Fernando Rodney–then the Angels came up to bat. Each inning the view I had was as follows:
Note the security guard and usher at the bottom of the staircase. They were there to keep people from rushing the dugout and not allowing those in the front rows to be able to leave. Also note that the Angels have two men on… yep… Aybar singled leading off the inning, then Bobby Abreu singled, and Izturis would single to load the bases for Torii with no outs. Well… Torii smashed a pitch into the left field corner to bring home Aybar and the Angels won it! Great for them… but would the Indians feel generous after the loss?
One ball was tossed up from the dugout. And it wasn’t to me. And one reliever had a ball in his jacket pocket–but it didn’t go to me. So, milestones would have to wait for another day–maybe if so many fans hadn’t decided to stick around for the fireworks it would have been a different story.
While most of the remaining fans watched the fireworks show I took a photo of my prizes from the night.
A great game, a great haul, a great time at the ballpark yet again. Thanks for reading.
This would be quite the full day.
It started with me (and Michelle) waking up at the crack of dawn and heading up to the stadium. March 27th was the day of the Angels 5k and Fun Run at the stadium. I’s signed up at the beginning of the month for the 5k and I’d been training for it for a couple of weeks. I’ve always enjoyed running and wanted to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself. We arrived at ten minutes to seven and Michelle decided she would stay in the car while I ran. I couldn’t blame her–it was early and the weather was less than ideal. There was rain in the forecast and I was just hoping to get through the run before it got too wet.
I started about 500 people back and, though I can’t show you through pictures (because I was running), there were easily four times that many people there. I had a clip-on transmitter on my shoe that would track my time–as I crossed the starting line the clock already had counted up to about a minute… and when I crossed the second checkpoint (at the halfway mark) the clock was around 16 minutes… and when I approached the finish line the clock was ticking up toward 30 minutes. I crossed the line at 30:03… my goal had been to come in under 30 minutes and since I knew I could easily take a minute off my time (based on how long it took to get up to the starting line) I was thrilled!
I drank some water, got a free hat and a Clif bar, and headed back over to the car to find my wife. When I got there she took a photo of me post race:
Oh, yes… I grew a beard over the off-season. It has since been shaved off… sorry to scare you there, readers.
At that point it was about 7:45am and Angels FanFest was set to open up at 8:00… but I’d promised Michelle coffee and, quite frankly, I needed a rest. We headed to Starbucks–I changed clothes once we got there–we got breakfast and waited for the rain to pass… it had started drizzling right when I got back to the car after the race.
At around 9:30 we headed back to the stadium for FanFest. It was a bunch of vendors, autograph stations, merchandise booths, and photo ops. We each got autographs from Chris Pettit and Andrew Romine and then we stood in a long line to get Hank Conger’s autograph:
While we were there we noticed you could get your photo taken with the Rally Monkey:
So we stood in that line, too, and got this picture:
–which I was kind of disappointed in once I saw it. I mean, we’re like six feet from the monkey! C’mon! At least we look cute. That monkey is licking the mini bat at this point, I think.
Anyway, we left FanFest after an hour or so–and went to get snacks for the game that afternoon. We’d need to be back by noon to get free parking for the game and, sadly, we found out once we were back with our snacks that the gates wouldn’t open until 1:00. Bah!
So I ran inside at 1:00 to see the Padres on the field taking BP:
And after a few minutes I convinced someone wearing number 95 on the Padres to toss me a baseball–I was on the board for the day. Here’s the guy who threw it (left) and the spot where I caught it (right):
While I took those photos I heard someone yell, “Comin’ in!” and I looked up, then to my right as a ball smacked off a seat ten feet away from me… surprising since a righty was up to bat.
Well, here’s the spot where I grabbed my second ball of the day–and the only one that got hit up to the pavilion while I was there. And that was pretty much it for BP. Not bad–two baseballs in about 30 seconds. I only had about 15 minutes of batting practice to work with so I can’t
I met up with Michelle and hung out with her for a bit–and then headed toward the Angel dugout when they came out for pregame throwing. It was nice to see the field up close.
I got shut out there but I went to the Padre dugout after that and got my third baseball of the day thrown to me by Logan Forsythe near the camera well.
Eventually, the folks who actually had those seats arrived and we relocated to the outfield with this view:
I was hoping to get a home run but the only homers hit this day would go to center field. Bummer.
Toward the end of the game, with the score 9-2 Angels we moved here:
And as the Angels wrapped up the victory I got behind the Padre dugout to try to snag a postgame baseball… but all the Padres went into the dugout without tossin’ up a thing… except for the last player to leave the field. A short, Latino pitcher from the bullpen who I later identified as Samuel Deduno tossed me a rubbed up baseball as he headed down the steps for my fourth baseball on the afternoon.
And, though it took him several tries, a nice, elderly usher took a photo of Michelle and I as we left the park.
It had been a long day–lots of running–and we were both exhausted.
Not a bad start to the season,,. a good run, four baseballs, three autographs, some swag from FanFest, an Angels win, and a lot of fun.
And later that night I checked online to see my official results from the 5k… I came in at 28:46, not fantastic, but I ran faster than I expected! It would be over a week before my next game, with the Angels heading out on the road. I was anxious for them to get back because I knew that when they did return they’d be using commemorative baseballs and hopefully some of those would have found their way into the BP buckets…
My next game would be on April 9th. More to come soon, loyal readers, and happy 2011 baseball season to all of you.
There was a lot of running around over the twenty-four hours between the start
of yesterday’s game and the end of this one. The Rays were still in town
and the Angels were looking to salvage the series by winning this day game
after losing the first two games. The Rays were trying to stay even with
the Yankees and maintain their share of the “best record in
baseball.” It was a gorgeous summer day in Orange County.
As soon as the stadium opened I headed inside and down to the field seats just
past first base. There, I scored some points in the myGameBalls.com Photo
Scavenger Hunt by getting a photo with All-Star pitcher David Price.
I also got his autograph on my ticket. There was no BP going on so I
didn’t have a lot to do for ninety minutes. Luckily, the weather was
great, there weren’t many fans, and I was able to get a few more autographs.
Kevin Jepsen and Jordan Walden came out of the Angel dugout to stretch and
throw. I was pretty sure Walden ended up with the ball when they were
finished… anyway, he started signing autographs along the outfield wall and I
got him on a ticket stub.
He kept signing and worked his way toward the infield… and when he was
through I asked if he could spare the baseball in his glove–and he told me he didn’t
have one. Sure enough, he held up his glove and it was empty. I
guess he’d handed over to someone at some point in the autograph process.
While I was near the dugout I saw DL-laden Maicer Izturis down there and he was
signing for the few fans that recognized him. I tossed him the team
baseball I was working on and he signed it for me… in black ink… from a pen
he was holding that another fan had thrown to him. All the other
signatures were in blue–but an autograph’s an autograph. I thanked him
and headed back toward the outfield. Hoping to get a warmup toss from
Scot Shields after he finished throwing, I had to settle for his autograph on
my team ball–in blue. I was still sitting on zero baseballs but had four
autographs at that point… that’s the best part about day game pregame
activity: it’s relaxed and the players and team staff members are approachable
and friendlier than usual. For example, I’ve never seen Shields sign
before. It was nice to get his autograph… he’s not stellar like he used
to be, but he’s been a good, solid pitcher for the Angels since 2002.
After getting shunned by Ervin Santana and Fernando Rodney (big surprise) I
headed back to the Rays’ side of the field where a trainer had come out in
preparation for the players to emerge from the dugout, I assumed.
up having a pretty nice chat with this guy, Chris is his name. I couldn’t
find him on the Rays’ website but his initials are CW… and he helps the
players get loose, plays catch with anyone that needs a partner, throws
football-style passes to Evan Longoria, and occasionally throws BP, so he told
me. Anyway, he was pretty cool and I liked his shades.
Shortly after talking with Chris I ran toward the visiting team’s dugout and
got their skipper’s autograph on a ticket stub. I already had Joe Maddon
(and Maicer Izturis AND David Price, for that matter) but it was good to get
I grabbed a drink (free) and headed back to the third base line where the
Angels had come out to throw. I got myself into the middle of a bunch of
fans and called out to Alberto Callaspo as he finished playing catch. He
tossed the ball to me in the first row (just behind the “Diamond Field Box Seats” (or whatever they’re called) and I had to fully extend my arm and
lean just slightly to the left in order to catch it. I took a photo (right) of the spot where I made the catch.
It helps to be able
to use Spanish to ask for baseballs… I mean, it’s great to be able to ask for
baseballs in different languages and I’ve gotten at least two by using Korean,
two using Japanese, and about ten using Spanish. Thanks to relatively new
Angel, Alberto Callaspo, I wouldn’t get shut out on this sunny, BP-less
afternoon. I had now gone to sixty-seven games and snagged at least one
ball at each one. That streak goes back to September of 2008.
I went back over to the Rays’ side as their players were warming up. There, I took a picture from a different angle of where I snagged the Callaspo ball (left)… you can see how that special section of box seats separates fans from the field and players. So, I was in the first row of the non-box seats… which is technically the second row.
I didn’t snag another ball or autograph from a player but I did get a baseball tossed to me from coach George Hendrick. I decided to keep the Callaspo ball and give away the Hendrick one. I found a little kid nearby and made his day (and his dad’s). They were thrilled to receive it.
The game started and I spent the top of the first behind the Angel dugout…
1. Check out Longoria’s socks.
2. Check out all the empty seats!
And I spent the bottom of the first behind the Rays’ dugout.
No third-out toss for me… and no foul balls anywhere near me which was a bummer because I had a ton of room to run:
After the first inning I relocated to the right field pavilion because the crowd out there was light and during day games more home runs tend to make it out there. As you may recall, I was within five feet of Bobby Abreu’s walk-off homer about two weeks earlier…
I saw BP regular Rob out there in the stands and he and I chatted throughout the game. No homers got hit out toward right field but Mike Napoli did hit a grand slam to left field. The Angels would crush the Rays on this afternoon, 12-3. Their offense decided to wake up, how ’bout that? Also, I watched as a fan who was sitting about four rows from the field down the right field line got nailed by a foul ball. It wasn’t a scorcher that took a hop into the seats or a line drive that he didn’t have time to see. It was a fly ball that Rob and I watched, I knew it was going foul. A half a dozen fans moved out of the way of it. This one guy did not.
He’s down on the ground in that photo… being tended to. The woman in white bending down is pretty much blocking the guy that got hit. Rob and I saw it and heard it hit him. That sound… I guess I should’ve felt bad for him… or sympathetic. But I just kept thinking, if you’re that close to the field: PAY ATTENTION! He got taken away by paramedics after a few minutes… he walked up the steps under his own power so I imagine it was just a bad bump on his head/face/leg/arm. Wherever he got hit.
So, I got some sun, a couple of baseballs, five autographs, and saw the Angels win. All in all, it was a good day. Toward the end of the game I tried to snag a ball from the bullpen guys… but failed… also I didn’t catch a home run in left field either. I saw a fan wearing a Reggie Jackson Angels jersey–more scavenger hunt points. Note: I actually have that jersey but mine’s the home white and not the road gray.
By the end of the game there weren’t a lot of fans left in the stands… the Angels were up by nine runs and it was pretty hot by that point. Rob and i kept thinking, “This is what it’s like to be at a Pirates game.”
As a colleague said to me recently about the Angels, “They’re just so mediocre this year.”
Originally, I was going to go to the game on the 14th rather than the 15th but I ended up heading to a cool video game event in L.A. instead. To make up for it I convinced Michelle that we should head to this game (where they’d be giving away fedoras) and she agreed.
Also, I was excited to Jim Edmonds play in his first game in Anaheim since he’d left the Angels in a trade in 1999. He’d returned on Monday but hadn’t played since there was a lefty pitching for the Halos.
I arrived to watch the Angels take on the Brewers at 4:45. I ended up very close to the front of the line–there was a pretty busy crowd outside just before the gates opened:
There had been two guys in front of me… the first guy went inside… the second guy had a backpack… that was too large… and instead of stepping to the side he decided to argue with the security dude for a sold minute. I and a few other people started telling him to move so we could go in and he finally did… I grabbed my fedora and jogged up to the pavilion, knowing I probably missed out on a baseball or two.
With no Kendry Morales to hit bombs out to right field, the pavilion is a pretty boring place after the first round of Angels BP. After I didn’t catch anything in the first round I headed down to near the foul pole. After Bobby Abreu takes his hacks he comes out to right field and fields some fly balls that one of the coaches hits to him. When he finished up he tossed the baseball they’d used into the crowd. Me and one other guy were near it–he didn’t have a glove but he was in front of me. The ball deflected off his bare hand and landed at my feet. I grabbed it, then he grabbed for it–and ended up grabbing and crushing my hand. I held onto the ball–then I stood up, looked at him, and he let it go.
“Oh, sorry,” he said and took a step back. I checked out the ball. It was a standard practice ball with a little black stamp–nothing too incredible about it–and I handed it to him.
“Oh… are you sure, man?” I told him I was–he thanked me. I went back to work.
Once the Brewers started hitting I headed back up to the pavilion because I knew Prince Fielder would be hitting. And hit he did… he peppered the stands with baseballs and I couldn’t get my glove on even one of the ten to twelve baseballs he hit up there. Just bad luck–I was either too low or too high in the stands. Luckily, Corey Hart fielded a ball that wasn’t quite a home run and tossed it up to me once he saw my Brewers hat.
During my last trip to PETCO in San Diego I’d seen the Brewers play and some of their BP baseballs are marked with words and phrases… and some are just marking with a boring line through the sweet spot. The ball from Hart was marked with “ANDROID.” A little while later (and two sections over to my right) I got a toss-up from catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The ball was heading to my right so I reached out and over a girl who was eating peanuts (and not paying attention) to snag the ball barehanded.
Note to that girl: don’t sit where there are a bunch of baseballs flying around and focus on peanuts. You will get hit in the head.
That ball said “FIGURE IT OUT” on it. Here they are:
I love it. The players seem to, too. Whenever someone would field a baseball in the outfield I could see them look to see if it had writing on it. Then they’d throw the ball to players near them to share the information before throwing it back to the bucket.
I was at three baseballs as BP ended and I ran down to the dugout. I got shut out there.
Michelle arrived after that and I met her out on the concourse and we grabbed food. We sat down with our barbecue as I noticed two Brewers players emerge from the dugout to play catch–I headed down there but they finished throwing before I made it down the steps. So, I finished my dinner with Michelle and we ended up watching the first few innings from here:
It didn’t take very long for the Angels to fall behind. The Brewers had brought their offense with them to Anaheim, beating the Angels 12-2 on Monday night and on this night the Brew Crew put up two runs in the first and four runs in the second.
The Halos got a run in the eighth inning on doubles by Kevin Frandsen and Maicer Izturis but the Brewers had also put one up in the top half. It wasn’t pretty. 7-1 was the final but the good news was that since Michelle didn’t have to be at work until 11:00am the next day she got to stay for the whole game with me. We headed down near the dugout for the final two innings and she snapped a bunch of pictures:
I told her, “Take picture of Jim Edmonds.” She did:
He went 2-5 that night but in this at-bat he struck out. I’d gotten his autograph earlier in the day… which I was pretty psyched about.
I waited for the players to come in and toss a baseball or two up–one baseball got tossed… somewhere to my left. Despite my old school Brewers colors I got no love from the Crew as they came off the field. I’ve found they are surprisingly stingy–at least on the road. Maybe it’s because their guys hit so many baseballs out of the park. They have to make up for it.
So I ended the night with a below average three baseballs and the Angels lost–badly. It took Ervin Santana those two innings to settle down–and Dave Bush for the Brewers just seemed unhittable. It didn’t seem, to me, like he was doing anything spectacular… but I’m not standing in the box.
We left after that… but not before getting our picture taken in our fashionable stadium giveaway items.
Ooohh… and as it turned out, I’d get to head back to see the Brewers and Angels the very next day, too.