After months and months of waiting the 2012 baseball season finally got here last week. My hometown team was set to open up the season at home with Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, a healthy Kendrys Morales, and all the pomp and circumstance (and red, white, and blue bunting) of a Friday night ten years after the season they won their only World Series title.
And they were giving away tickets to the first Angels home game of the year–that’s why I was there. I entered my name in a drawing and listened to the live broadcast. I grabbed some Rally Monkey Bread provided by Katella Grill–it’s monkey bread (thick, biscuit-like dough baked with butter, cinnamon, and sugar) and waited for the drawing–the first one took place at 8:30am… the second took place at about 8:50am. I didn’t win. So I headed to my car and drove down the road…
His show’s called The Herd and I entered a drawing to win some free tickets–to random events across Southern California. Disneyland tickets, LA Galaxy tickets, gift cards, etc. I actually ended up winning four tickets to USC’s Spring Game on April 14th–but I knew I couldn’t use them since I was going to have to work that day so I gave them back to the ESPN folks so I could still be in the running for Disney tickets. I should’ve kept the football tickets–I would have sold them on eBay or StubHub or something… oh, well…
So, I watch Colin end his show (they gave out tickets during each commercial break) and he took a few questions from audience members… then I went to work.
I had planned on a half day… and in the early afternoon I drove back to Angel Stadium and headed to the player’s parking lot. The guys were arriving for that evening’s game and I had assumed that they’d be thrilled to sign autographs on the afternoon of the first home game of the season. But most of the players ignored the 15-20 fans that were asking them to please stop and sign. There were a few guys who took the time. First, the new primary catcher, Chris Iannetta, parked and then walked down to the barrier near the driveway to the lot to sign for us. I had a new baseball (ready for the 2012 season) that he signed. My team ball had begun!
While waiting I spoke with a fan named Alex who, as it turns out, runs a blog/website called Think Red Instead that I’ve been reading sporadically over the last two years. What a nice guy–and he’s helped me out indirectly in the past by publishing the skinny on some autograph signings. Thanks, Alex!
Later, Mark Trumbo signed for all the fans at the back gate through the bushes that obscure the players’ lot from the rest of the parking areas. And, lastly, Rich Thompson stopped in the driveway and signed for everyone while seated in his classic car. Stylish, Rich. And I had three autographs on my team ball!
After a bit of time at the parking lot I headed back to work for a bit… then ended the work day and stopped at a cupcake bakery called Sprinkles since they were doing a BOGO deal for anyone wearing Angels garb. I happily walked through the door and got 4 cupcakes for the price of 2–don’t worry, I shared with my wife. And, together we made dinner and ate cupcakes and I watched the Angels win on Opening Night from the comfort of my sofa at home. A 5-0 victory for the Halos behind a strong outing from Jered Weaver. The season’s shaping up to be a good one!
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.
I headed off to Angel Stadium for the 6:05pm game at 3:00pm, got there at about 3:25pm, and waited in line for the gates to open. This Saturday night game would have a postgame concert after it ended (by Ne-Yo–who’s very popular, I’m told). A big crowd was expected. I had contemplated driving down to see the Padres play instead but decided on a game in Anaheim. I’m glad I did.
After playing catch with a few regulars for about ten minutes I got back in line just before 4:00pm, when the gates were set to open, and readied myself for my sprint out to right field. Typically, my routine consists of tightening and retying my shoelaces, a little bit of stretching, unzipping the pockets of my backpack (so security folks can check it quickly), and placing my ticket (bar code up) in my hand. Well, I did all that and still wasn’t the first fan in the gates–but luckily a lot of the early arrivals to the stadium were planning to get autographs, not baseballs. And I was all by myself for a good twenty seconds in the pavilion. Sadly, it didn’t really help me: no Easter eggs, no toss ups, no BP blasts hit to the seats during my first moments out there.
My first baseball of the day was tossed up by rookie pitcher (and former Redlands East Valley Wildcat) Tyler Chatwood. He threw it to me in the first row (shown above), it had the word PRACTICE stamped on its sweet spot (shown below), and I’d eventually end up giving that ball away to my favorite usher, Barbara, who’s always out in the right field pavilion. She finds a little kid at some point during the game to give the baseballs to after I hand them off to her–and the fact that I’ve got a good reputation with the ushers around the park is certainly helpful.
Baseball #2 on the day came via Mark Trumbo and some of his opposite field pop. The rookie righty hammered a ball that ended up bouncing in the second row of Section 238 as I and a couple other regulars closed in on it. Lucky for me, the ball didn’t ricochet out of the row it had landed in and I grabbed it a second before the next nearest fan.
This one, too, had a practice stamp on it (that was quite off-center), along with a blue smear over the logo. Does anyone know how baseballs get those blue streaks and smears across the leather?
The next group of Angels started hitting soon after and in his second set of swings Russell Branyan hit four consecutive blasts into the right field seats. The third of four came down in the tenth row of Section 239 and I nabbed that ball (again, it marked as a practice ball) as it rolled through a row. Then, before the Angels left the field I was able to get my glove on a Bobby Abreu homer in Section 236. I wasn’t able to catch that ball on the fly, either, but I sprinted through a full section to get to it and was nearby right as it landed and then rolled to my feet near/above the right field tunnel. Here’s the spot where I picked it up as it bounced around:
By this point the Twins had come out to throw along the right field line and I was thinking to myself, “Wow. Four baseballs from the Angels–that’s more than usual.” After Matt Capps finished his warmups I was standing in the fifth row of Section 133 and held up my arms while yelling, “Matt! Over here!” Capps lofted the ball over the handful of fans in the first couple rows and into my waiting Mizuno for Ball #5 on the day. And this one was commemorative! Lately I’ve noticed that the visiting teams to Angel Stadium tend to have more of the commemorative baseballs than the Angels.
At that point I decided to play the short wall in the right field corner as there was still some space to move around along it. After a few minutes an unknown Twin hit a ball that I was able to scoop off the track. I gave that one to a kid nearby (he and his buddy are in the photo to the right)–and I told his friend with him that if another one came that way I would try to snag it on his behalf.
Not five minutes later, a Twins lefty smacked a fly ball our way. At first I wasn’t sure if it would hit the grass and roll to the wall, hit the dirt and bounce over the wall, or clear the wall and end up in the seats. I was at the wall when the ball was hit, then hen the ball was at its apex I took a step back, thinking it definitely would not hit the grass. As it descended I came to the conclusion it wasn’t going to be a home run either–it wasn’t. The ball hit the packed dirt of the warning track and bounced high over everyone’s head in the first row–and over mine in the second row. I hurdled the seats behind me and snagged it in the fourth row. Then, with a smile on my face, brought it to the second kid I’d been talking to and said, “I’m a man of my word.” I handed the ball over and the two kids were thrilled.
A few minutes after that another lefty on the Twins hit a ball that rolled toward the wall in right field. It was a bit to my right and there were those two kids I’d given baseballs to, reaching out for the ball but not coming close. The ball settled about six inches out from the short wall and after they each tried their hardest to get it, I asked if I could give it a shot. Since I was, “The guy who gave us the baseballs,” they moved aside and I was able to stretch out and pluck the ball off the warning track. That one, as it turned out, was commemorative–and almost brand new. Karma, everyone, if you do something nice it tends to work its way back to you. The two kids had baseballs and I ended up with a commemorative one for myself. Here’s Ball #8:
And at about that point BP was winding down–as it ended I ran to the Twins’ dugout and as Nate Dammann jogged into the dugout he flipped me a beat up and stained commemorative baseball!
That made 362 baseballs in my lifetime and that one from Dammann was my ninth on the evening. A new record for me! I’d previously snagged eight on two separate occasions and now I had pushed my record one step closer to double digits!
I thought I had a really good shot to get there, too, since I still had pregame warmups and the entire game to get one more ball. But wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t snag another for the rest of the night!
I tried to get one from the Angels after they did their throwing. I tried to get a ball from either first baseman (Mark Trumbo and Luke Hughes), I tried to get a foul ball… and all I got was a lot of exercise.
The game was pretty exciting though. The Angels got out to a quick lead when Trumbo hit his first career grand slam (and his 25th homer of the season) off Twins starter Brian Duensing in the first inning.
The way Jered Weaver had been pitching all year everyone in the stadium was sure that would be all the offense the Halos needed. But the Twins got three runs in the second and three more in the fourth–and that tied the game at six. Weaver definitely wasn’t at his best.
Vernon Wells smacked a solo homer in the fifth to put the Angels up for good–and they’d add three more runs in the sixth with a home run, an error, a single, another single, and a double. 10-6 was the final and Weaver got the win–but he didn’t look great. 5IP, 8H, 6ER, and 3BB to go with his eight strikeouts. The bullpen shut the Twins down though. Mike Trout had three hits and six of the nine starters had at least one RBI. The win put the Angels 3 1/2 games behind Texas AND there was a post-game concert on tap: Ne-Yo.
Apparently he’s a pretty big deal. This was the final concert of the Summer Concert Series and girls go crazy for this dude.
I’d heard maybe one of the songs he sang on the radio but I’d at least heard of him before so I’m not totally uncool. I watched as Angels and Twins players and their families took in the show from their corresponding dugout. Howie Kendrick and Ervin Santana played with their kids on the grass–it was cute. And I left before Ne-Yo’s last song so I could beat the traffic. It was a record-setting night for me–but that double-digit game has still eluded me–we’ll see if I can make it happen before the end of the season.
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.
I was back at the Big A for a mid-week game against the Twins. I always love to watch the Angels play the Twins because they’re very similar teams year in and year out. I arrived at about 4:30 and waited for the gates to open at 5:00. Michelle would be meeting me when she got out of work so I spent the time talking with a few of the BP regulars (like Chris and Rob). It was a fairly good crowd once we all ran inside and I headed up to the pavilion, as both teams would be taking a lot of hacks from the left side of the plate since two righties, Joel Piniero and Scott Baker, would be facing off.
The seats filled up pretty quickly and almost every row had one or two people blocking paths to get from one section to another. I managed to snag a Mark Trumbo opposite field shot that bounced in the fourth row after about twenty minutes. I ran to my left and the ball ended up going over my head–so I climbed a row of seats and snagged it off the cement. And here it is:
That photo was taken in the concourse shortly after batting practice ended. Ball #337. And the first one of the day. Later, one of the last Angel home runs during batting practice was a shot by Russell Branyan and I sprinted a full section to my left and mid-stride was able to jump up, fully reach out and above me and snag the ball on the fly at the spot shown here:
That’s Rob in the white, sleeveless shirt on the right of the above photo. I felt good about that jumping catch (and later a couple of people commented on what a good catch it was). But one guy didn’t like it–he claimed that ball was hit right to him and that it was his—he was going to catch it and, not only that, he was going to give it to his son for his ninth birthday. Whoa. One–he didn’t have a glove. Two–he had been sitting down. Three–he had a beer in his hand at the time. Really… he was so prepared to catch a 400 ft. shot going 80 mph.
If he had presented his concern/plan in a calm and polite way I would have probably given him (or his son) a baseball. Instead, he was belligerent and said things like, “Yeah, you better walk away,” as I went to put the ball in my backpack. A minute later, now that I was another full section away from him, he approached me (in a pretty aggressive manner) and started cursing and berating me. Not a good example to set for your birthday boy, sir.
The other regulars (and the ushers in that area of the stadium) all know me and know I play by the rules. If I’d thought I had done anything wrong (or they had suggested that I had truly not made a wise decision in making such a great catch that happened to be in front of that guy) I would have given the ball right over. But, barring that–there was no way I was going to reward his crass behavior… what a lesson for his son, huh? If you cuss and yell at people, that’s how you get things you want!
Here’s the ball, BTW:
After the Angels hit, the Twins started their BP session and the seats filled up a bit more at that point. Here was the view to my left:
That’s Chris in the white hat and shirt. And here was the view to my right:
I went on with my day and snagged my third baseball off the bat of a Twins lefty (I don’t know who). I caught it on the fly in the third row of Section 237. Here’s the spot of the catch:
And that kid in the blue shirt looking at the camera is Chris’ girlfriend’s little brother, Brandon. He’s on his way to catching a ton of baseballs himself–I’m pretty sure he caught at least two at this game. I ended up with three baseballs–all hit–two of ’em caught on the fly. And one was a 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball. Not a bad batting practice session.
I ran to the Twins’ dugout after BP but didn’t get anything there… nor did I get a ball from either team during their warmups before the first pitch, try as I might.
I was tired–and sweaty. It had been really hot–but it cooled down to about seventy-seven degrees at game time. Tired and sweaty was a beautiful combination for when my wife arrived at the stadium. She was glad to see me anyway and we decided to get some food and sit down with this view:
Michelle and I watched the game from out there and, though I tried for a third out toss at the Angels dugout a couple of times, I was content to just hang out with her and enjoy the summer evening.
Then, as I was coming back from getting a soda in the third inning I watched Peter Bourjos smack a deep drive into the left field corner. I saw a guy move into the aisle–he was wearing a white shirt–and reach up and make a great catch about eight rows deep in the stands. Then he did a fist pump and turned a bit and I recognized this guy:
Rob! Nice snag on the fly, dude!
After that, I continued to watch the game with Michelle as the Twins pounded out five homers against the struggling Joel Piniero. It wasn’t pretty. The Angels were down 9-4 when Michelle decided to head home in the seventh inning. I walked her to the gate and we got this photo together before she left:
Then, I went and found a seat here:
And then here:
No third out baseballs came my way…
And then the Angels, down 11-4 in the ninth, tried to mount a comeback while I sat here:
It didn’t happen and the game went final. The Twins tossed a couple baseballs up after the game but nothing came my way. Still–a fun night at the stadium.
This was a Monday game and my first of three consecutive Angels/Nationals tilts at my home ballpark. I expected smaller crowds than usual… except for the Tuesday bobblehead game. What I got was no real change in the usual attendance figures… I realize now–it’s summertime. School’s out and the Angels had just returned home from quite a long road trip. Here’s how day 1 shaped up:
I went by myself to the Monday game. When the Home Plate Gate opened I sprinted toward right field and was the first one to the seats. I scanned the rows for Easter eggs (which is usually a useless process in Anaheim) and found a ball under a seat in the first row of Section 240 (seen in the photo to the right), which is the section closest to center field. I also noticed that, while the Angels were hitting, the Nats’ pitchers were already out on the field, chatting and stretching.
The found ball was a training ball so my initial thought was that it came from the Nationals… which meant that some players must have been doing some early rounds of BP. I watched as the Angels were underwhelming in their rounds of batting practice. The one other ball I snagged while they were on the field was a standard Selig ball that I got from Hisanori Takahashi in the corner spot of Section 240 by asking him in Japanese. This was the first time I had gotten a ball from him since he’d become an Angel (though I did get one from him in New York via the same tecnique at my sole game at Citi Field back in April of 2010. Takahashi gave me a thumbs up after I caught the ball and yelled out, “Arigato!” Here’s my view from the corner spot:
After that I moved into straightaway right field for the Nationals. Part of the pitchers’ ending warmup was that they threw football-style passes to each other. And when they finished that I simply took note of the fact that they threw their leftover baseballs into the seats. The next ball I snagged was from fan-friendly Livan Hernandez over in the RF corner spot. I asked him for a ball in Spanish and the next one he fielded got tossed up to me. Pretty simple. That one was a training ball, too. The Nats’ hitters were blasting quite a few home runs during BP but most of them were going to center field. I left the pavilion and went down to the short wall in the right field corner. A few Nats tossed balls to kids but I was coming up empty until I moved closer to the infield and Jason Marquis threw me my fourth ball on the day. His throw was a bit short and the ball tipped off the end of my glove as I reached down over the wall… but luckily it settled right underneath me on the warning track and I was able to lean out and over the wall to pluck it off the warning track. I gave that ball (also a training ball) to a little boy to my right just a moment later.
I didn’t get anything at the visiting team’s dugout after BP and I spent the next twenty minutes watching as the presidents accompanied the Strike Force around the stadium as they threw T-shirts into the stands:
The presidents would be running their typical race during each game of the series. The Halos came out to warm up and I was close by. But Mark Trumbo kept the baseball he’d been using and Maicer Izturis tossed his a section to my right.
I tried to get a ball from the Nationals when they warm-up in front of their dugout but nobody threw… they just stretched and ran. I headed over to the Angel dugout before the game got underway, hoping for a third out toss.
Here was my view for the first pitch of the game:
Ervin Santana had a good start… and Laynce Nix grounded out to Trumbo at first base to end the top of the first. By the time Trumbo stepped on the bag I was already at the base of the stairs. As soon as Trumbo crossed the foul line I called out to him and he tossed me the game-used ball, a 50th Anniversary commemorative. And his throw was just high enough that I had to hop a little to get it… unaware that there was a hot dog vendor behind me, kneeling down while he was preparing a ballpark frank for a fan. I caught the ball and went to take a step back to regain my balance and almost tripped over the poor vendor. Luckily, I didn’t fall over him and he didn’t drop the freshly prepared dog. With that I ran over to the Nats’ dugout for the bottom of the first. And here was my view:
First baseman Michael Morse bounced the ball off the warning track and into the hands of a coach in the dugout. Weird… so I didn’t get a ball there. And since I already got a ball from Trumbo, I decided I’d spend my last inning at the game trying for a foul ball with this view:
Yes, I planned to leave after the second inning–and did so. But on my way out I gave away another baseball to a young fan. Then, before I climbed into my car I got this photo of me with the gamer I’d snagged:
Here’s a picture of the three baseballs I kept:
That would be the one from Takahashi, the one from Hernandez, and the one from Trumbo. Three different types of ball.
I watched the game from the comfort of my couch as the Angels beat the Nats 4-3 in ten innings via a walk-off single by Maicer Izturis.
The commemorative baseballs were out in full force at the ‘Big A’ so I was back just three days after my first regular season game. Michelle and I each took off a bit early from work so we could make it to the stadium for BP. Here I am at the front of the Home Plate Gate line before they opened at 5:00:
I was the second one to the right field seats so I didn’t bother looking for Easter eggs very thoroughly and instead went up to the wall overlooking the players shagging baseballs in the outfield.
One of the players out there was Hank Conger and as he fielded a ground ball I asked him, “Hey, Hank, could you throw that ball up here, please?”
He did–a nice, easy toss to me in the front row–and just like that I was on the board for the day. The ball was a standard baseball and I decided I’d make sure to find a young fan to give it away to before I left that night.
About five minutes later I had a home run lined up and it ended up falling just a few feet short and bouncing toward a player in center field. As it turns out, that player was Francisco Rodriguez and when he retrieved it I asked him in Spanish if he could throw it back up.
He looked up, gestured, and I took a couple steps back just in case his throw was short… it wasn’t… and I had baseball number two on the day.
Here’s the spot where I snagged it:
I moved a few sections to my left, closer to straight away right field, and ended up getting Ball #3 from rookie pitcher Tyler Chatwood. He tossed it up to me in Section 238 after he fielded a ball and turned around and saw me waving. I yelled out, “Right here, Tyler!” and that was all it took.
I turned the ball over in my palm to reveal a 50th Anniversary logo! Nice! Shortly after that the Indians came out to stretch, throw, and hit and I thought, “Wow! Three balls from the Angels and the Indians can really hit… plus I’m one of, like, eight guys in an Indians hat in the whole stadium! This is gonna be great.”
And wouldn’t you know it? I didn’t snag another ball for the rest of BP. No toss ups from Indians pitchers, no mores caught in the seats from the many, many Indians lefties, no toss up at the end of BP at the dugout… and even though I was near Orlando Cabrera as he finished up his pregame throwing I didn’t get that ball, either.
I sat back down with Michelle as the game started up thinking of what could have been… but I looked at the commemorative ball I’d snagged from Chatwood and decided to change my mind. I had some excellent souvenirs and I was at a ball game with my wife–no need for frustration, right?
I gave the Conger ball to a kid before the game started and the Rodriguez ball to a little guy on our way out of the stadium. That made me feel even better… but on to the game!
Our friends, Beth and Randy, who we’d gone to Indians/Angels games with on 7/27/09 and 4/26/10 (and Randy came to a A’s/Angels game with me alone on 4/8/09), would be at this tilt, too… and when they arrived we met them at their seats with this view in front of us:
Not too shabby, just barely in home run range. I joked with the people around us when Michelle and I left to go to our seats that they’d have to fend for themselves without my glove around to protect them…
And after we grabbed some ice cream and made it to our seats here:
Not so great… but I was still having fun! Anyway, after we got to those seats Mark Trumbo hit his first home run about a section away from where Beth and Randy’s seats were… and after talking with Beth at the end of the game I determined I wouldn’t have been able to snag it over/through the row full of fans. Still, it was Trumbo’s first career jack–and some security folks came to get the ball… they traded something to the guy who caught it–Randy and Beth made it sound like they just traded a ball for a ball…
Talk about a missed opportunity. After that, my uncle (who was also at this game), texted me to say that we should come sit with him in Section 126. So, we did… here’s a photo from Section 126:
And did I mention that Dan Haren was throwing a shutout?
And it would end up being a one-hit shutout! And the game was over in two hours and fifteen minutes. The Angels won it, 2-0.
We met up with Randy and Beth after the game to chat for a bit and then headed out to the car–it turned out to be a great night. And… I had tickets to the next day’s game!