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!
The Indians were in town for a few days and, since my friend Randy (who I’ve mentioned in blogs before) is always down for the Tribe, I was heading to the game and Michelle, Randy, and his girlfriend, Beth, would meet me there a little after 7:00.
I got an early start, didn’t hit any traffic, and parked with plenty of time to get into line so I took a few pictures. Here’s a photo of the Big A:
And a panorama of the stadium taken from the parking lot.
I still think that Angel Stadium is one of the best stadiums to visit. It’s clean, the employees are friendly, and it’s affordable. Plus, the Angels are a great team!
I headed past the Left Field Gate:
Down the promenade toward the Home Plate Gate:
Until I got to where the lines had been set up:
I was the first one in my line. A few minutes later BP regulars John, Chris, and Rob showed up. John and I played catch for a few minutes and we all talked strategy for the day. My plan was to head straight in to left field since the Angels would be facing a lefty. All their switch hitters would be batting from the right side… I was the only one of the four of us that wanted to head that way. Cool, no competition.
5:00 came and we headed inside. I was the first one to reach the seats and this was my view:
The pavilion in left field is separated from the playing area by both teams’ bullpens so not a lot of homers (even in BP) go up there.
Well, the first Angels group consisted of Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Hideki Matsui. Torii took a big cut at a pitch and launched it into left field. It went just to the center field side of the bullpens, hitting some seats and then settling in one of the rows. I had a decision to make–there was no one in that section… yet. There wasn’t anyone in the pavilion area at all. But it wasn’t as easy as just making a beeline for the ball. To get from the lower left field seats to the pavilion you have to run up the steps and around–let me show you:
The photo above (taken in the ninth inning) shows the route I ran after the ball. Feel free to click on it for a larger view. I left my backpack near where I’d been (the white circle) and sprinted to the circle with the X. I got there moments before Terry, another regular who’d walked to the section, arrived. I snagged the ball and he looked at me strangely. “How’d you know it was there?”
“I saw it get hit when I was way over there,” I said, gesturing. A second later another home run landed in the seats above us and bounced right to Terry. My backpack! I ran back to the lower seats, deposited the ball, the 167th in my life, and went back to my hobby–snaggin’ baseballs.
Some Angels pitchers were nearby and after a little while Scott Kazmir fielded one and hung onto it. He still had it a few minutes later so I yelled out, “Hey, Scott, could you thrown one over here, please?” I stepped back away from the wall… he held the ball up and fired it from forty feet away–over the heads of the folks in front of me–and I had my second baseball of the day.
I’d previously missed out on a screamer down the line because the guy near me saw my reaction and jumped up, hung over the wall, and snagged it first. But after I’d labeled the Kazmir ball another one came dribbling out to the track. It was moving pretty slowly and was an easy grab for Ball #3. That was it for the Angels portion of BP, though Rob had come over to left field by that point as well and I watched a ground rule double go a few feet over my head and Rob ran, leaped, and snagged it for a cool catch of his own.
We both headed to right field when the Indians started hitting–they’ve got some lefties that can really smash the ball!
I called out to a few players for toss ups but got ignored by Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood. After a while, some lefty, either Grady Sizemore or Shin Soo Choo, drilled a ball deep into the stands. I couldn’t make the catch on the fly but the ball went over my head, hit some seats, and bounced nicely into the fold of a chair one row above me. I climbed over and snagged it for my fourth ball on the afternoon. The next snag would be a BP homer as well, this one off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera. He hit it high and deep, to the center field area of the pavilion and up about ten rows. I tracked it well, headed
up the stairs and–just missed making the catch. I was still able to grab the ball as it rolled across the concrete nearby. Five!
But despite quite a few more homers, I couldn’t get close to any of them and at 6:15 I ran down to the first base line and waited for BP to end. It did and both Chris and I ran toward the dugout. I was near the home plate end of the dugout as the Indians trotted in and someone threw me number six on the day. I never saw the player or coach’s face. Just the arm after I pointed to my Indians cap as he headed into the dugout.
Michelle, Beth, and Randy still hadn’t arrived so I made myself comfortable in the seats near the dugout. Eventually the Indians came out to warm up.
Maybe a few of them would play catch. After the national anthem Choo came out and threw with someone–but they didn’t throw their ball into the crowd. But Andy Marte played catch with Luis Valbuena and when they finished I stood up and yelled out, “Andy! Right here!” from the fourth row. He looked up and tossed me the ball. The lady in front of my screamed because she saw it at the last second and reached up, mostly out of fear, I think. And then smiled and sighed when she saw my glove over her head. The guy sitting to my right was amazed. He asked me, “Did he just throw you that ball?” I replied in the affirmative and he asked, “How’d you get him to do that?”
Well, I knew his name, was in Indians gear, stood up, made myself noticeable, called out to him–
“I guess he saw my hat.”
After that I moved back a few rows and the game was under way. I took some great action shots. Like Jered Weaver throwing the second pitch of the night:
And Erick Aybar running between second and third after he hit his first homer of the year:
And a couple others:
In the bottom of the first Michelle called me to say they’d arrived. I waited until the inning ended, tried for a third out toss from Russell Brayan, I let the kid in front of me get it even though I’m prety sure it was meant for me… but I didn’t want to fall on the little dude… and then I met them at our seats on the 500 level.
I showed them. Can you tell my wife was impressed? Michelle and I have both been working a lot and it would be so great to have some relaxing time at the ball game. So, for a while at least, I put catching baseballs out of my mind so we could just enjoy the game. But first, food. They were all hungry so Randy and I bought refreshments–hot dogs, sausages, Chinese food, drinks–oh, yeah! It took a while but it was all delicious and we all hung out in Section 524 for most of the game. It was a light crowd (not surprising–a Monday against the Indians) which, at Angel Stadium, means 35,000 or so. The seats I gotten were through eBay for six bucks each and I sure couldn’t complain. I love eBay.
Here was the view:
I decided to take a panorama from the highest point of the stadium (like I did last year):
And we watched the Angels, who were up 3-1 after the second inning, take on Randy’s Tribe. The last time we all watched a game together was back in July of ’09. In that game the Indians came back to beat the Halos in a thriller–for Randy. This time would they do it again? Bobby Abreu hit a two-run bomb in the sixth inning to make it 5-1. In the eighth we left our upper level seats.and found seats with this view:
It was 5-2 at this point because Austin Kearns had homered as we walked down the ramps… I was a little nervous. Fernando Rodney got the last two outs of the eighth… the scored stayed 5-2 going into the ninth. Brian
“Makes Me Nervous” Fuentes was called in to close it out.
Fuentes struck out Choo leading off the inning, then Travis Hafner reached first on a throwing error by Brandon Wood. Fuentes struck out Branyan, then walked Kearns… yikes. Finally, Fuentes struck out Jhonny Peralta to end it. Whew. Not pretty–but he struck out the side.
Predictably, the Indians didn’t toss anything up at their dugout and we all made our way out to the parking lot. Michelle and I parted ways with Beth and Randy but first we all posed for a picture.
It was a great game, a fun time, and the Angels won! So I was ecstatic.
How long’s it been since I’ve blogged? AAGH
OK, so back in April I went to a game in Anaheim with my buddy, Randy. During that trip I found out he was a big Indians fan and we determined that we’d go to a game (and take our significant others with us) when Cleaveland was in town in July. July 27th was the day we’d chosen. Since Randy and his girlfriend, Beth, were at work they agreed to meeting us after batting practice. Michelle and I went to BP and, upon our arrival, I was allowed the first spot in line thanks to BP regular, Terry. He told me he wanted me to get inside first and “beat Rob” out to the pavilion. Rob and I are the two guys who always race out to right field and rarely find any Easter eggs…
Today, however, I was the first one out there… and I went immediately to the front row of the right field pavilion and saw the first Easter egg of my ballhawking career! It had a nifty “scab” on it from where it must have hit the seats. The top layer of the ball had been peeled back and stained dark green from the seats of Angel Stadium. Pretty cool… if I remember later I’ll put a picture up.
Shortly thereafter I ran a section to my left, searched up and down the rows and then found Ball #2 on the day sitting on the ground under a seat. The second Easter egg I’d found–EVER! As soon as Michelle walked up to the pavilion, with Terry, I showed her the ball and gave it to her.
Then–after a fantastic start–I snagged no other baseballs all evening! WHAT?!?
Two in two minutes and NOTHING for the rest of the day… not just the rest of BP… the rest of the day. Yep, I was in the stadium for four more hours and couldn’t get another baseball anywhere! BP was pretty lightly attended:
And yet, very few homers were hit… and I couldn’t get anyone to toss me a ball except Tony Sipp. He fielded one near the wall and I called out for it. I was the only one who knew his name. He looked up, made eye contact with me, and fired it–
–it went five feet to my right… into the glove of a thirty-something dude. I couldn’t reach far enough over. ::sigh::
BP ended and Michelle and I met up with Beth and Randy when they arrived. We got some delicious grub from Beach Pit BBQ and headed up to our seats.
Almost every time I go to a game I get to see SOMETHING that I’ve never seen before. Tonight was pretty significant. After falling behind early, the Angels hit back to back to back home runs! Three in a row–it was totally cool and I was glad to be there for that.
Here we have Erick Aybar diving back into first base:
The Angels took a 6-4 lead into the ninth inning and turned the ball over to Brian Fuentes. He promptly gave up four runs on four hits. and the Angels couldn’t come back against Kerry Wood in the bottom of the ninth. Man, that was frustrating but Randy was super-thrilled! His hometown boys won a game on the road for him so I had to be at least partially happy.
We all had a lot of fun (though I didn’t take many photos) and my baseball collection would be at eighty-three when I headed off to St. Louis…
There’s a lot that I can say about this game that could bring people who read this entry a lot of sadness based on events that occurred after the game was played. I’ll save that for another time. For now, here’s how my second game of the season went:
At Wednesday evening’s game between the A’s and Angels I was joined by Randy, a friend I know through UC Irvine. He is from Ohio originally and is a big Indians fan. After I dropped him off at the end of the night I realized I hadn’t snapped any photos of him… or me… at the game. Weird. I did take a lot of pictures though. You’ll see…
We left at about 4:15pm and got to the stadium before it opened. Randy had never been to Angel Stadium of Anaheim so I told him I’d give him a grand tour after the game started. But first, batting practice. The Angels were hitting and the wind was blowing in and toward left field so I told Randy that we should leave the right field pavilion for later when the A’s were up (because the Angels were starting a righty, a twenty-two year-old top prospect, Nick Adenhart) and their strong lefties were hitting. We hung around the foul pole in right field. It was a small crowd but not many balls came toward us. Jeff Mathis tossed a couple to kids but we (in our mid-twenties) were gettin’ no love!
After we headed up to the pavilion in right a few baseballs trickled to the spot we’d just left… it was that kind of BP. At about 6:15pm we were both still empty-handed and I was losing hope. Then things got interesting. At the game on the 7th I had seen a young boy fielding balls for the A’s during BP. Here’s a pic from that game (the little boy is on the far right in a green sweatshirt):
At this game I noticed the same kid running around, fielding balls, having a blast, and he had a friend with him. I figured they were sons or little brothers of a player. I still don’t know for sure. Anyone have any idea? Maybe an Oakland fan that knows of two kids that occasionally take the field for BP? Anyway, as batting practice ended and I jogged (with Randy in tow) to the visiting team’s dugout I still hadn’t snagged a baseball. The players headed in and I didn’t get one. Then, these two kids came, strolling and chatting, toward the dugout. I had my A’s hat on so I stood up about three rows behind the dugout and got their attention… they each had a ball tucked in their glove. “Hey, could you spare a ball, please?” I yelled. The two kids looked at each other, then looked into their gloves. One boy, in a red sweatshirt, gestured to the boy in green I’d seen the day prior as if to say, “You can throw him yours… but I’m keepin’ mine.” Well, I guess it was my lucky day because the kid in green shrugged, pointed to me, and lobbed it right into my glove. I thanked him and the two kids headed down into the dugout. Lucky kids! Lucky me!
I wanted Randy to snag a baseball, too… he had told me that he’d gotten one years ago when he was much younger. A few Oakland players started throwing in shallow right field. When Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez were done, Ellis tossed his a few sections away from us (and I would later get him to autograph a ticket stub for me), but when Rajai Davis and Travis Buck finished throwing, Davis kept the ball and headed toward us. I stood up and called out to him. He saw me, pointed, and threw the ball from about thirty feet away. He’s an outfielder, so maybe he’s not used to short throws… this one sailed five feet over my head (even though I jumped as high as I could). Randy was sitting behind me and I turned just in time to see the ball pop off his bare hand! It bounced into the seat in front of him. Here it gets a bit odd. The ball landed between the armrest of the seat in front of Randy and the shoulder or a kid! The kid’s dad, sitting on the other side of him, had seen the ball thrown and I figured that he or his kid would simply grab it. It was literally touching the kid’s arm. No one, not me, the kid, the dad, or Randy had claimed the ball. At that point I figured the kid would want it. The dad said to me, “Guess you’re just not tall enough,” in a cheerful manner. Ten seconds passed… so I picked up the ball and sat down next to Randy. We both were kind of shocked. I told him, “Here, do you want it? It hit off your hand.” He said I should keep it because it had been thrown to me. I decided I would count it in my collection because nobody else had actually held the ball. Never had a non-player thrown me a ball and never had a weird situation like that one happened to me at a game.
Two baseballs–cool! Numbers 32 and 33 in my collection!
So, there we were, behind the visitor’s dugout. I told Randy we’d go on a tour as soon as we got kicked out of the section. Turns out… that never happened. We watched the whole first half of the game from the third row! Check it out:
By the sixth inning we were hungry and wanted to look around so we voluntarily left, knowing we’d probably not make it back down. After a quick stop at the the restroom we were off on our tour which included a stop at the Beach Pit BBQ stand out behind the rocks in center field. We both got pulled pork sandwiches and they were fantastic!
After a lap around the Terrace Level we headed up to View. Our actual seats were somewhere in Lower View in right field… we never sat in ’em. Instead we watched an inning from right behind home plate:
And lastly, we headed back toward the infield for the end of the game… what an end. By the way, our vacated seats from the beginning of the game were still open! Man, it was a great view of the late action!
Adenhart left with a 4-0 lead after six innings. The bullpen choked for the second straight night, however, as Arredondo gave up a run, Shields gave up two, and our new closer, Brian Fuentes gave up three runs in the ninth!
I was livid… and the Angels couldn’t score in the bottom of the ninth. I had hoped to show Randy what happened when the Angels won… but the Big A would not “light up the Halo” on that night.
We had a lot of fun and I had a good time walking around the stadium… I’m there so much that I take for granted how much cool stuff there is to do there.
Two games this season… five baseballs! My next game probably will be when the Tigers are in town in a couple weeks. Thanks for reading!