Tagged: orioles

4/20/12 at Angel Stadium

It was a beautiful Friday in Orange County and I was off to the Angels game again.  This time they’d be taking on the Orioles… and I was hoping for a Camden Yards commemorative baseball.  Maybe a few of them would be in the mix.  I arrived to the gates a bit later than I would have liked but luckily, a fellow BP regular let me slip into line with him.

I was off to left field as soon as the gates were open.  I knew the Angels would be facing a lefty and that everyone (except Bobby Abreu) would be batting from the right side.  I figured there was a pretty good chance someone would pull a ball or two down the line so I stayed near the foul pole.

The Machine (aka Albert Pujols) was taking his hacks and just as I thought to myself, “Man, it would be great to snag a ball from Prince Albert,” I got my chance.  He hit a screamer down the third base line that bounced off the wall twenty feet from me and headed my way.  I reached out and balanced myself on the wall–I was really hoping I didn’t misplay this one.  I stretched as far as I could and nabbed it as it skittered across the warning track.  Then, I lifted myself back to my feet and took a look at my prize from Pujols:

Awesome!  Not a Camden Yards ball–but a commemorative baseball is a commemorative baseball.  I won’t complain.

Unfortunately, that was the only ball I could get during the twenty or so minutes I saw of Angels BP.  They ran off the field and I ran to the other side of the stadium, where the O’s had come out to warm up.

As Troy Patton finished throwing with a trainer I asked him for the baseball they had been using.  He nodded to me and cocked back his arm to toss it my way but in that instant the trainer he’d been throwing with must have called his name.  Patton turned his head to the side and then, sadly, tossed the ball to the trainer–who handed it to a kid in the first row.

“What a tease!” the usher near me said.  But Patton saw that he’d gotten my hopes up so he pointed my way and actually said to me, “Don’t worry, I’ll get you one.”  Then he headed off into right field.

Sweet!  But now I was confined to the foul line so I could be in the vicinity when Patton fielded another ball… even though the Orioles had started taking their hacks.  I was conflicted.  I pretty much had a guaranteed snag coming my way–but I wanted to run up to the pavilion to try for batted balls.  I decided to wait–hopefully my guarantee wouldn’t take too long.  I tried to make a play on a foul that a righty flared off my way but an older fan grabbed it when it ricocheted right to him.  The same thing had happened to me earlier on the other side of the stadium when Abreu had fouled one off.  I ended up only being stuck for another five minutes because Patton finally fielded a baseball near the warning track and then, from seventy feet away, waved at me and I flapped my glove and he threw me a ball–that almost didn’t make it to me.  I had to scoot over to the middle of the row I was in (about the sixth) and lean forward over the seats in front of me to make a basket catch.  Apparently, that impressed Patton because he gave me a fist pump and yelled, “Nice catch!”

All right, Mr. Patton.  I’m a fan of yours now–thanks for giving me credit… and a baseball (which you can see over on the left).  And I looked at it hoping to see a commemorative logo but it was just a standard Selig ball.  I started to run up right field at that point but then realized everyone in the current O’s BP group was right-handed.  So, after longing to escape the foul line I opted to hang out there a bit longer, hoping for another shot at a foul ball.  Well, wouldn’t you know it?  A righty O fouled a ball toward me in Section 130… and I ran up the steps for it and snagged it as it bounced around.  I ended up giving that ball away to a young fan… in a Cardinals shirt… weird.  And he thanked me–then went to show his family–then came back a minute later and shook my hand and told me he really appreciated the kind gesture.  Wow!  You’re welcome, kid.

Off to right field I went where, inexplicably, I didn’t snag another baseball for thirty minutes.  Ugh.  The Orioles just didn’t hit many that way and I couldn’t get a single toss up from any pitchers I saw in the outfield.  And I got shut out at the dugout after BP, too.

So… three baseballs.  Not too shabby, but not great.  About that time my lovely wife showed up and we ate dinner together in the seats.  Then I tried to get a ball from each team at their dugout during pregame throwing… but failed.  Out to left field I went, in search of my first game home run.  Here was the view:

The pitching matchup was Jerome Williams against Brian Matusz.  And Williams fared better than he did in the Bronx his last time out.  He checked the Orioles on three runs in 6.2 innings… his farewell was a two-run homer he gave up to Nolan Reimold… but at that point the Halos had already put up six runs of their own, highlighted by a three-run double by Howie Kendrick (who I am confident will hit .320 this year).  Reimold’s homer was the only one of the game at it went to right-center.  Nothing close for me.

Since it was a Big Bang Friday–there would be fireworks after the game–Michelle and I relocated to the seats directly behind the Oriole dugout for the ninth inning.Jordan Walden shut down the O’s to earn his first save of the year.  And, although I couldn’t convince Buck Showalter to toss me the lineup cards, I did manage to snag something else at the close of the game.  I’d jumped into the first row and got the attention of the relievers as they walked in.  Not wanting to repeat the circumstances of my last game, that ended with a fan reaching in front of me as the relievers entered the dugout and a baseball was tossed my way, when Tommy Hunter tossed me a ball before heading down the steps I leaned way out to catch it before anyone else could stick their hand in front of my glove.  And just like that I upped my total to four.  It was a rubbed up ball, too!  Then I jogged back to Michelle and watched the fireworks–set to the music of The Beatles–light up the sky.  Also, I have no idea what’s on that child’s head…

This particular fireworks show incorporated lasers into the mix.  It was neat–nothing too spectacular… though I’m a sucker for a fireworks finale–I mean, who doesn’t love a good fireworks show, huh?

We booked it out of there right after the finale and were in our car and on the way home before most people had even left the stadium.  I was thrilled to watch the Angels get a win.  They have been off to a pretty poor start… and Texas has been winning left and right.  Yikes!  Sadly, as a buddy of mine mentioned on Facebook recently, he is tied with Albert Pujols in home runs this season.  Prince Albert’s still sittin’ on a goose egg in that department.  I figure he’s just waiting until I’m at another game… how considerate of him!

Hey, I’ve been to two Angels games and they’ve won ’em both.  As of this posting I’ve been at 33% of their wins.  And 50% of their home wins.  I guess I should go to more games…

Here are the three baseballs I kept:

Next up–a trip to Dodgertown!

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8/21/11 at Angel Stadium

This was a special day.  It started three weeks earlier when I received a four-pack of tickets to this game from my sister-in-law, Crystal, as a birthday gift.  Fast-forward to August 21st and Michelle and I (along with Crystal and her boyfriend, Alex) were set to head to the game.  But that’s not all–they were Club Level tickets, ooh!  And, as a final surprise… Crystal said they would pick us up.  Here we are on the way to the game:

Oh, yeah–we got picked up by a limo!  WHAT?!?  That’s right, Crystal had arranged a limo to take us to and from the game through the company she works for.  So, thank you Crystal and thank you AMS Paving in Fontana!  Seriously, if anyone in Southern California needs anything paved… call these guys.

Well, we got to the stadium just a bit after the gates opened and, no surprise, there was no BP going on.  Michelle, Crystal, and Alex wandered around while I tried to snag a ball to keep my streak alive.  In case you’re wondering, the last time I went to a Major League Baseball game and didn’t snag at least one baseball was September 27th, 2008.  This would be my 90th game since then… and, sure enough, after hanging around the O’s dugout for a while, some unknown Oriole player (or coach–or assistant–or trainer) tossed up a ball.  I only saw him for a second and he had sunglasses on… so I have no idea who it was.  But my streak was safe–90 consecutive games with at least one baseball!

After that, there wasn’t much happening on the field.  Way out in right, Ronnie Deck (he’s the bullpen catcher for the O’s) was running and stretching.  He signed my ticket before heading off to the clubhouse.  Then–more nothing.

I looked up toward where I knew our seats were and saw a trio of people I recognized (circled in red–click on the photo on the right to enlarge it if you want).  Those are our seats… they saved the aisle for me.

Eventually some Angels came out to throw and after they finished they signed some autographs.

I was interested in getting Mike Trout’s but I have autographs from Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos, Maicer Izturis, and Erick Aybar already, and Trout went further away from me… toward the outfield.  I didn’t get either of the baseballs tossed up by the Angels–and so I went over to see if the O’s would throw before the game.  They did–but J.J. Hardy kept the ball he had been using and so I headed upstairs to the Club Level.  I flashed my ticket to the usher guarding the section and took my seat.

And I was in great position to snag a foul ball.  As a matter of fact, during the game one was caught barehanded by a fan to my left and three rows behind me and another was bobbled by a group to my right and bounced down to the lower level seats.  Those were the two close calls–I figured I’d just get them out of the way in this entry right up front.  That was frustrating but the day was a blast!

I had intended to explore the Club Level but I had such a good view of the game that I seriously didn’t want to move–not even to go use the restroom–I just wanted to sit in my nicely-cushioned, perfectly-situated-in-the-shade, foul-ball-targeted seat.  I’m gonna have to get a seat up there in the 300 level again sometime.

This was my actual view from my ticketed seat:

Nice, right?

Any time a righty was up to bat I was ready…

That one shot straight back.  But I didn’t take many photos because, and this is amazing to me, I was so much more interested in the game from my vantage point than usual.  I’m sure I’ll be spoiled now having sat there for a game…

Ah, yes, the game… what happened?  Well, Jerome Williams (who?–he’s blocked in the photo on the right but he’s the guy in the middle) picked up his first win since 2005 by giving up only one run in seven innings.  Peter Bourjos homered for the third consecutive day, and Howie Kendrick hit his tenth dinger of the year.  The bottom third of the Oriole lineup went 0-for-10 with three strikeouts.  And it was a beautiful day in Orange County and I had a ton of fun–but halfway through the Halos’ 7-1 victory Crystal told me that she had one more surprise for me.  She was taking us to dinner, too!

We left the stadium after the game ended and I snapped the above shot before we got into the limo and headed to–

–Benihana!  Where dinner IS the show!

From left to right that’s Alex, Crystal, Michelle, and me.

And we got a private booth and the bill was totally taken care of for us!  WHAT?!?

What an awesome birthday celebration–man–I need more days like that.  Thanks again to my awesome sister-in-law!

8/28/10 at Angel Stadium

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:

jordan walden ball 8.28.JPG

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.

walden warmup.JPG

The Orioles came out to throw and I watched them from field level as the Angels finished up their portion of batting practice.

orioles bp 8.28.jpg

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:

alan dunn spot 8.28.JPG

And the ball had a pretty neat-looking mark on the logo:

alan dunn ball 8.28.JPG

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?

stuck ball 1.JPG

How ’bout now?

stuck ball 2.JPG

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.

8.28 warmup 1.JPG
8.28 warmup 2.JPG

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.

howie kendrick ball 8.28.JPG

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:

view level spot 8.28.JPG

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:

terrace concourse panorama 8.28.jpg

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:

wigginton ball 8.28.JPG

Nice!

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.

postgame 8.28.JPG

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…

after a game organizing.JPG

Thanks for reading.

6/19/10 at PETCO Park

About a month prior to this game I got a text message from a friend of mine.  He told me that for Father’s Day he was flying down from San Francisco (where he lives) to San Diego (where he grew up) to take his dad to a game.  He wanted a few of us from college to go with him.  As it turns out, Jason, Josh, Brendan, and I would attend this game… and since I had committed to donating blood that morning before making the trek down to SD I asked Jason to get me my ticket ahead of time.  That worked out well because after I donated a pint of O+ at the Red Cross donation site, I headed down the 5 freeway and made it to downtown San Diego at about 2pm for the 5:35pm game between the Padres and the Orioles.

I had a little time to kill so I checked out the ticket windows:
619 padres ticket windows.JPGAnd went in the Team Store:
619 padres store.JPGThen I walked past all the Park at the Park gates:
619 park gate 1.JPG619 park gate 2.JPGAnd saw these adorable dogs in a nearby office:
619 2 awesome dogs.JPGThe other guys would be arriving toward the end of batting practice.  At 3pm the Park at the Park opened and I ran in to the beach in center field.
view from the beach 6.19b.jpgThere wasn’t anyone hitting when I got there–a few Padres were throwing near the right field line but I ended up just sitting around for about ten minutes.  Finally, BP was under way and… well… take a look at the below photo:
619 beach scene.JPGSo, Oscar Salazar was running from right field to center field and back again.  I was near the fence.  A baseball had come to rest about thirty feet from the fence.  When he got close to center field I yelled out, “Oscar!”  He looked over and then I asked him for the baseball in Spanish.  In one move he turned to run back toward right field, grabbed the ball, and flipped it underhand to me–I had taken a few steps away from the fence–but the ball was heading over my head so I backpedaled–right through that pile of plastic toys–and made the catch over my head.  I was on the board.

At 3:30 the stadium would open–and I’d still have just the one baseball.

That would change pretty quickly.  I had decided to hang out on a staircase in the left field seats.  After a couple of close calls, a Padres righty launched a homer a bit to my right.  I moved down the stairs, across half a section and watched the ball hit off a seat over my right shoulder.  It took a bounce in the row behind me, hit a fan’s hands, then rolled down to the first row… just to my right as I was facing away from the field.  I snagged it as it trickled away from me for Ball #2 on the afternoon.

I was getting text updates from the guys as they made the trip down from L.A. and then to Jason’s folks’ house, then onto the trolley–they still hadn’t arrived as the Orioles took the field.  I ran around to the third base line as the O’s pitchers started their pre-game throwing.  It was there that I got bullpen coach Alan Dunn to toss me my third baseball.  A few minutes later, rookie Jake Arrieta tossed me a ball as he finished throwing.  I’d moved about twenty feet closer to home plate.

About ten minutes later I saw Garrett Atkins playing catch with another Oriole and I positioned myself nearby.  When they were through I held up my glove and said, “Hey, Garrett, right here, please.”   And that was ball #5 on the day.
619 atkins catch.JPGI had pretty much exhausted my options along the left field line at that point so I went back to left field–this time to the second deck.  I know that every now and then a powerful righty can launch a homer or two up there.  Here was my view:
second deck view bp 6.19b.jpgAnd unfortunately, only one home run got hit up to the second level… and it was two sections away from me.  I did have a bit of luck up there though.  I’d tried calling out to various players to toss a ball up to the second level.  They all ignored me or didn’t even give it a shot.  I knew it could be done though… I’d caught two toss ups there back on 7/21/09 from a couple of Marlins.  Toward the end of BP a bald-headed trainer was fielding near the left field corner and I yelled out to him–and he launched up Baseball #6 on the evening.  Here’s a photo:
619 trainer 2nd deck.JPGThe box is around the trainer and I was standing at the red circle (along the railing in the second row).  I got some cheers from a few people nearby because I had to lean way out and over to make the catch since the throw had been falling a little short.

I was at the dugout as BP ended but didn’t snag a ball there.  The guys had just arrived and so I went to get a drink (and a Frequent Friar lanyard) before heading up to the second level above third base where our assigned seats were.  I met up with everyone and decided to spend the game in my seat:
panorama from our seats 6.19b.jpgI had a shot at a foul ball… maybe… but it was nice to just relax and enjoy the great weather and the great ball game.

It was nice to chat with my friends… and the game was pretty exciting.  The Padres and Orioles scored in the first.  It was 3-1 Padres.  The Orioles scored two more in the third–and then two more in the sixth to take the lead, 5-3, on an Adam Jones home run.  Kevin Millwood was set up for his first win of the season.  My friends were very emotional about the game:
619 bren and josh.JPGVictor Willis (formerly of The Village People) sang YMCA–badly–at the seventh inning stretch.  I think he forgot the words at one point.
619 village person.JPGI went down to the Field Level for the ninth inning and told the guys I’d meet them after the game.  Since the Orioles were winning I went behind their dugout:
view from field level 6.19b.jpgThe Padres made it interesting though and got a run in in the bottom of the ninth–and the tying run was on third… when the final out was recorded.  Tense, fun, a fantastic game… plus, there was a Kyle Blanks bobblehead giveaway and we all got coupons for free tacos from Jack in the Box.

The night’s baseballs:
619 six baseballs.JPGI stopped in Lemon Grove to say good night to the guys and to Jason’s parents.  Then it was a two hour drive north on the 5.

7/2/09 at Angel Stadium

Originally I was going to attend this game with Michelle but one of her girlfriends was in town, so I sold the extra ticket on craigslist and headed out by myself…

Traffic was rough so I didn’t arrive at the Home Plate Gate until 4:50pm (only ten minutes before opening).  There was quite a crowd due to it being a giveaway day:  Rally Doodle Dandy – a beanie baby, patriotic, rally monkey.  I know, exciting, right?
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 001.JPGNormally, I’d have been pretty bummed to have to stand at the back of that line.  Lucky for me, I spotted BP regular, Terry, at the front of the line and he welcomed me alongside him.  YES!

I ran in, received my monkey, and was off for right field.  Another BP regular, Rob, was out there as I arrived in the pavilion, already looking for Easter eggs.  We both searched, found nothing, I lost a BP homer to a girl nearby… then an usher said, “Did you guys find that one that bounced around up here?”  WHA–???  How could we have missed it?

Rob took off and came back a minute later; he’d snagged it.  Boy, it was one of those days of BP.  The Angels were hitting a few to seats.  Rob got another one, that same girl got another one… I was still stuck at zero.7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 004.JPG  I hassled Matt Palmer about his recent shave-job and had a brief back and forth with him.  After a while an Angel righty, who I am fairly certain was Jeff Mathis, he was Caucasian, wore hi-sox, and smashed the ball toward right center… good opposite field pop (maybe Napoli, though he played in normal sock in the game), that headed toward me.  I took a step down and over to my left, I was camped under it.  Yes!  But at the last second I see a glove rise up next to mine–the gloves touch, the ball deflects away and we both lunge for it.  I get the favorable bounce and snag it as it’s falling through a seat.  I look up and there’s Rob–that guy is everywhere!  He ended up with, I think, four by the time BP was over.  I was just excited to be on the board!  And then… nothing during the O’s portion of BP… I couldn’t get Mark Hendrickson or coach Alan Dunn to toss anything to me.  Some homers were hit but I couldn’t quite get to any of them.  Boy, Baltimore’s got some pop in their bats… and a lot of strong lefties!  I just kept missin’ by just a few rows…

I could’ve had a BP homer on the fly but I opted not to lunge across a few small kids like some middle-aged guy in the front row… I think he hit his head on a cupholder though… karma.

As BP ended at 6:30pm I still had just the one ball but I was thrilled because my streak was still alive.  I’ve now attended 12 games and gotten at least one baseball at each of them.  Last season my streak went up to 8… but was snapped at this game last September.

I meandered down toward the Orioles’ dugout, no one was signing autographs.  I sat… watched the pregame entertainment during the national anthem: Navy Seals skydiving…
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 015.JPGand…
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 017.JPGand finally…
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 022.JPGOoh…

I waited to see who’d be playing catch… three pairs of Orioles played catch and I didn’t get any of those baseballs.  It just wasn’t my day for snagging!  I did take quite a few photos from my prime seat as the game got going:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 031.JPG7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 025.JPG

7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 042.JPG7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 045.JPGNote:  Chone Figgins – 5′ 8″, Aubrey Huff – 6′ 4″  It just made me laugh to see the two of them standing together:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 051.JPGI also took this pic of me with my new primate friend:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 009.JPG
Thrilling.  I was two rows behind the dugout and I figured I would just move whenever the real seatholders came along.  They never did!  There were four seats on the aisle in Row D that never were occupied–except by me.  Any inning that ended with a strikeout, I thought, I would be sure to get a ball from rookie catcher, Matt Wieters (pronounced WEE-ters), but he kept rollin’ ’em back to the mound.  BAH!  But, I couldn’t complain… I’d purchased a ticket for $7.00 and I was in the best seats in the stadium, close enough to get a peek at manager Dave Trembley’s lineup cards:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 052.JPGMore photos:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 056.JPG7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 061.JPGThe Angels got on the board first, in the bottom of the 4th with a solo blast by Bobby Abreu:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 068.JPGThen, the O’s tied in in the top of the 5th but my Halos came back with four runs in the bottom of the 5th, three coming from Abreu’s second homer of the night!

The Angels led 5-1, then the O’s got one back when Luke Scott homered in the 7th…

WHOA–I got so excited about Abreu’s two dingers I almost forgot to mention my second snag of the day.  Kendry Morales flied out to left to end the 4th.  Nolan Reimold caught it and the team started jogging in.  I stood up, decked out in orange and put my glove up.  I figured I had a chance even though I was a bit far from where the players were leaving the field (I was closer to home plate than first base).  When he crossed the foul line Reimold looked toward me and tossed a perfect gamer right to me!  Check it out:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 136.JPGNo smudges or marks at all, really… NICE!

My snagging was officially done at that point.  I’d stay at two for the rest of the game.  I soaked up the game, though, and the great pitching, the homers, and the good defense by the Angels.  Here’s a picture I snapped once I was able to get down into the first row:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 119.JPG
I set my camera on the dugout, set the 10-second timer and ended up watching a play unfold as the shutter clicked.

Wow… I really look like an Orioles fan… I swear that’s actually an orange Angels T-shirt!  It’s from the ’07 All-Star Game… the one where Vlad won the Home Run Derby.

Lackey pitched a strong eight innings… the Angels were up by three runs, so…

7.2 angel stadium field level edited.jpgI moved to the Angels dugout for the 9th.  Brian Fuentes only needed eight pitches to retire the side and record his MLB-leading 23rd save of the season!  I saw a girl next to me get a bat… about five baseballs came up over the dugout–and I walked away empty-handed.  No dugout luck, post-game, for me… again.

My two baseballs on the night:
7.2.09 at Angel Stadium 139.JPGOh, well.  It was a quick game (2 hours, 14 minutes), a good game, and I was glad to head home to my wife!  Happy 4th, everyone!

8/5/08 at Angel Stadium

I had been looking forward to this game for a couple of weeks.  It was the first chance I had to implement some of my recently learned Hample tricks.  The Home Plate gate at Angel Stadium opens at 5:05, a half hour before the rest of the gates.  I wasn’t the first fan through the gates (on floppy hat giveaway night, mind you) but I was one of the first few to make it out to the left field seats.  I checked around to see if there were any home run balls already out there, just waiting to be snagged, but I couldn’t spot any.  I picked a spot just past the foul pole and got my glove (with string and Sharpie and rubber band) ready.  While the Angels took BP some of their pitchers were stretching and throwing in left field.  I tried to get any of them to throw me a ball, but I just wasn’t gettin’ any love–because I wasn’t five years old.  Ervin Santana threw a ball to a little boy near me and Jose Arredondo threw one to a little girl right near the pole, but I was being shut out.  Howie Kendrick (I think) belted a foul ball down the line and I hung out over the fence to grab it but the guy right in front of me (a superb athlete) somehow managed to stretch a few inches further and the ball was his.  At this point I’d been at BP for 20 minutes and I was starting to worry that my planning would be all for naught.  My goal was to get at least one ball at this game.  Some Angel righty hit a couple of smashes deep into the seats and two of them almost smashed into a group of senior citizens ten rows up.  A security guard joked that if I really wanted a ball I should go guard them… none of the old timers had a glove… nor were they paying attention in the least to the happenings on the field.  After the Angels batted I once again asked politely for a ball (in Spanish) but couldn’t get anyone to throw me one.  I was disheartened, but also hopeful as I rushed up toward the right field bleachers.

I had learned the sneakiness of bringing a hat to wear with the visiting team’s logo.  I had my Orioles hat out and on as I jogged to the wall in right.  I saw Lance Cormier and Garrett Olson shagging flies and tried to get them to notice that I was a (faux) O’s fan.  Lance wasn’t feelin’ it, but Garrett noticed me and a couple of real Orioles fans and I knew that was a good sign.  Now, I will admit that I’m not the person most players would want to immediately throw a ball to… they give balls to kids mostly, and sometime to girls.  In my case today, a female Orioles fan got two balls before I’d gotten any… just by being a girl!  Ridiculous.  Thankfully, after a few minutes of, “Please, Garrett, how ’bout a ball for an O’s fan?” the young pitcher lobbed one up to me!  There it was!  My studying and planning (I knew all the Orioles by name thanks to a cheat sheet and I won the hat for $8 on eBay) had paid off.

Throughout my BP adventure, Michelle was sitting or wandering through the stadium, not wanting to run around in the warm weather.  Understandable.  Now I had a souvenir to show her when BP ended at 6:20.  I thanked Garrett Olson and told him I wouldn’t bug him anymore.  So I started to move down a section or two, closer to the right field pole to bug the two bullpen catchers (Ronnie and Ruben).  Just as I started to move I heard it.  That sound that any fan knows, whether it’s in BP or during a game.  That CRACK that means a ball is flying out of the yard.  I saw Aubry Huff at the plate and saw the ball soaring toward the seats in right.  It took me a second but I realized the ball would clear my reach by a good twenty feet.  I turned around as it flew over my head and to my shock it bounced of some seats a dozen rows up and ricocheted back right to my glove!  That was two… and I had tied my record for baseballs at a single game.  Man, that Huff can hit.  He hit three more out in the next few minutes, all bombs.  I pestered Ronnie and Ruben for a bit, but I was polite and I was an O’s fan.  With about 10 minutes left in BP Ronnie looked up and threw me a peace sign… I thought for sure he’d toss me the next ball he got.  He fielded four more in the time left and threw one to a Halo fan–grr!  And he didn’t give me a second look… I was disappointed but I was nowhere near empty handed.  Garrett Olson (#18), who’d thrown me my first ball of the day headed over to the seats on the field level to sign autographs.  I jogged over with my ticket stub and a Sharpie, tapped a female O’s fan on the shoulder and asked her to hand it to him to sign.  My first autograph of 2008:
Garrett Olson Auto.jpgI find it interesting that he signed for me and the ticket I had pictured another Garrett.  Even stranger, neither Garrett appeared in the game.

Anywho, I headed up to the 400 level where Michelle had been patiently waiting for me.  We grabbed some dinner and I regaled her with my triumphs, minor as they may have been, and we sat down to enjoy the game.  It was a great game… if I had really been an Orioles fan.  The Angels got shutout 3-0 and couldn’t touch MLB debut pitcher Chris Waters.  In the 8th inning Michelle and I went down to try to get a ball from the Orioles as they ran back to the dugout but to no avail.  I headed down at the end of the game after George Sherrill closed it out and saw that FSN was interviewing Waters.  Melvin Mora ran up behind him and got him good with a cream pie.  The rookie was in great spirits after the hazing and chucked his game used hat into the stands.  It was a few feet to my right and a skinny, tall teenager caught it… residual whipped cream and all.  Dang!  What a cool souvenir that would’ve been.  I couldn’t complain though.  Two balls, an autograph, a free floppy hat, and a night at the ballpark with my sweetheart.  What a great evening–just wished the Angels would have mustered more than two hits.