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.
It was a warm summer evening in Orange County and I was psyched about hats. Not just any hat, however… no, I was psyched about the Angels Flashback Hat promotion at Angel Stadium. I’m usually not too excited about a stadium giveaway (SGA) but I actually really liked the hat I’d seen on the Angels’ promotions page.
I’d been planning to go to this game for about a month and a half along with Michelle. Cool hat giveaway, plus I love watching the Seattle Mariners play–they’re fun to watch (and have quite a few powerful–in BP–lefties this year).
Unfortunately, Michelle got pretty sick and hadn’t recovered fully by the day of the game. So, I got her blessing to go to BP with both tickets, get two hats, chase a few baseballs, then return home. I probably could have stayed for the whole game but I wanted to make sure she was doing well at home. Off I went and I got to the stadium at about 4:45. There was already a substantial crowd:
I grabbed a spot in line near Devon, and headed inside. I nabbed my first free hat and ran out toward the right field seats.
Once there, I watched as only one home run got hit up to the pavilion during Angels BP. I didn’t get it. I did, however, ask Jordan Walden to throw me a baseball. And he did. But there was an extra step that led to me getting the ball. I saw Walden field a ball in the outfield. Instead of asking for it right away I said, “Hey, Jordan! Congrats, man!” He had just been named an All-Star that day. He looked up and said, “Thanks,” and gave me a thumbs up. A few minutes later he fielded another ball and I asked him if he could toss it up. He ignored the other five people who were blindly shouting, “Can I have a ball?” to everyone on the field and fired up Ball #1 on the day. I thanked him and wished him luck at the All-Star Game. The ball he threw me had a practice stamp and a few grass and bat stains on it And check out the cool scuff mark:
I’m guessing that it must have hit some concrete and then gotten back into the bucket somehow. Like it bounced off a seat or two.
That would be the only ball I’d get from the Angels. Hisanori Takahashi threw a ball up after I asked him in Japanese… but he threw the ball to an Asian fan on my right… I think he was confused as to who asked in Japanese for the ball. But I wasn’t worried… I knew that Ichiro hit first in the first group of Mariners. And I knew that he hit absolute bombs during BP.
I moved over into straightaway right field and only had to wait a minute until Ichiro started pulling the ball into the stands. He hit homer after homer and, luckily, I nabbed a brand new commemorative baseball off his bat
I wish I could say it went from his bat to my glove directly… but it didn’t. I still want to say I caught it on the fly though because the ball, follow me on this one, flew six to ten feet over my left shoulder. I turned around and my view of its landing spot was obscured by a fan in the row behind me–but only for a second as the ball suddenly bounced back toward me. Facing away from the field now, I leaned to my right and caught the ball. I quickly inspected it, saw the commemorative logo, did a little jig (not really) and then noticed that it didn’t have a single mark on it anywhere. It clearly didn’t hit one of the dark green seats of Angel Stadium… so what caused it to bounce back toward me? The only explanation I’ve come up with is that it hit another fan (or a fan’s glove) and then went bouncing my way again. So, since a player can have a ball bounce off his teammate and catch it before it hits the ground to get the out, I’ll say that I caught it on the fly. Thoughts? Here’s the ball:
It looks absolutely brand new. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even write a 324 over the “ings” in “Rawlings” since this was my 324th baseball snagged. I left it clean and pure, like the baseballs being sold for $24.99 in the Team Store.
Not three minutes later, on Ichiro’s next turn in the cage, I ranged a section to my right and snagged another BP homer from the future Hall-of -Famer… this one was a standard Selig ball. I made the snag from this spot:
Things slowed down a bit after that and I kept just barely missing out on some of the shots the lefties were puttin’ in the seats.
Rob made a catch on a ball in the row in front of me at one point. My glove was right behind his. I had it positioned, the ball was descending, and at the last possible second his glove rose up from under mine… he didn’t push me out of the way or deflect the ball or knock into my glove… he just got three inches in front of it. A clean play for sure. I congratulated him on the snag. Rob is, FYI, well over the 1,000 ball mark in his lifetime–and he only plays for hit baseballs which makes his quantity of baseballs snagged rather impressive, actually.
Ball #4 of the day came courtesy of lefty Jason Vargas. He’d been hanging out with Felix Hernandez (who has rather poor aim when tossing balls to fans during BP). After Hernandez missed me by four feet earlier in the BP session when trying to throw me a ball, Vargas scooped a ball off the warning track and tossed it right to me. The spot of the catch is shown in the photo above and to the left. I was in the first row. And Vargas is the Mariner on the left in the photo.
Thanks, Jason. This ball was almost brand new, with just one small black mark on it. The most interesting thing about that particular ball, however, is that one of the holes through the leather was too big or maybe misaligned… or the stitch got pulled too tight. Take a look:
Interesting, huh? Since all Major League Baseballs are made by hand, this is bound to happen. I’m just kind of surprised that this ball hadn’t been marked as BLEM (for “blemish”) or PRACTICE. You couldn’t use it in a game, right?
The Mariners ended BP at 6:25, as I expected, and I raced to their dugout. I didn’t get anything tossed to me there, unfortunately, and after that, I walked out (along with Chris) to the gates. We each had an extra ticket to get scanned–we did so, got our extra hats, and parted ways. I walked around the stadium through the concourse:
I stopped at the Guest Relations office for a second to grab some water–and while there I noticed a wall of old giveaways:
Can you tell what they all are? I’ll let you know that I have (or have had and then sold/given away) ten of the giveaway items pictured above. Like I said… I’m not usually too into giveaways at the stadium. I headed home as the crowds filed in and I made it there as the first inning got underway. Here are the four baseballs from the day:
The Angels would get the W for Jered Weaver, making his final start before the All-Star Break–he’d be named the AL starter with a record of 11-4 and an ERA of 1.86 after the first half of the season! Cy Young Award, anyone?
I got back from New York on Friday–and on Saturday I convinced Michelle that we should head to an Angels game. I was psyched and ready for a real game at the stadium this time (I’d already been to an exhibition nine days earlier). We didn’t have tickets in advance but we got to the ticket window near the gates at 4:40, bought two tickets, and got in line. Shortly after Michelle and I arrive I saw Chris and chatted with him about his offseason and a little while later we saw Rob and Terry. I’ve written about all these guys before, remember?
The gates opened at 5:00pm and I was off–running to the pavilion in right field. Rob was right in front of me heading up the escalator and I zoomed by him and made it out to the seats first. I ran down the staircase, checking each row of seats. As I got to the second row I saw a ball rolling… down into the first row. What? There are NEVER any Easter eggs in Anaheim!!! It probably had just been hit out to the seats just before I got there. As I scooped up Ball #1 on the day (and the 161st of my life) I thought back and this was only the 2nd game at Angel Stadium in which I’d found a ball. The last time it happened was 7/27/09 and I’d found two of them!
I’d forgotten my camera on this abrupt trip to the ballpark but Michelle had hers and she agreed to snap a few pictures during BP. She typically sits and reads in the shade out of the way of flying baseballs so the pictures are a little far away (or blurry) but she got some good ones.
Here I am tracking a home run (well, I thought it would be a home run):
A minute later Bobby Abreu was batting and I had been talking to Rob about Abreu hitting anything out in BP. He said, “I’m still waiting for him to hit one out up here.” And then he did–the ball went screaming into the pavilion behind us and to our right. It landed in the 10th row, took a high bounce as we were approaching it and in the picture below you can see me grabbing it just before Rob got there:
Hey, that’s my backpack in the seat just below Rob’s right arm…
I had to wait until almost the end of the Angels’ portion of BP.to get my next ball–but it was a great moment. I’d been hanging out on a staircase in right center. Mike Napoli was swinging and I knew he had good opposite field power. He smacked one that had a chance to make it up to the pavilion. I ran a full section to my left, down the staircase to the first row and reach out over the wall just to my left. The ball hit the pocket of my glove just in front of the wall… I kind of hit the wall, too. But it was worth the bruise on my leg to make that catch. It was my first ball caught on the fly in the 2010 season. I can still catch, go figure.
Since I knew that not many A’s had home run power to right field I decided to play down the line near the foul pole. I got a good spot… and at some point Michelle took a photo of me in my A’s garb:
Shortly after he finished his warmup throws, Andrew Bailey threw me Ball #4 on the day. There were a few slicers and foul balls that whizzed by but I couldn’t get a glove on any of them.
I moved down to the closest section to the dugout that I could. At Angel Stadium you’re not allowed to go close to either dugout until BP is over unless you have a ticket to that section… which is weird. That’s the opposite policy that most other stadiums have. Usually you get kicked out of dugout seats at the end of BP. Anyway, for the last few minutes of batting practice I was here:
And then as the A’s trotted in I sprinted to their dugout and Brad Ziegler tossed my my fifth baseball. Sweet!
I found Michelle sitting in the outfield and she took a photo of me with the baseballs I’d snagged:
The only other thing I got (other than stomach pain from the gross buffalo boneless wings I ate) was one of those soft baseballs the Strike Force shoots out of an air cannon. I tried for warmup tosses before the game and then tried for a third out toss in the bottom of the first… and then Michelle and I decided to find some seats in the upper level to watch the game.
Before we went upstairs we went to check something out… I had heard that the Rally Monkey would be making an appearance at this game. And that you could have your picture taken with said monkey. Now, I’d never seen the Rally Monkey before and I didn’t know if it would be an actual monkey or someone in a monkey suit.
Here’s a photo from where we decided to park ourselves:
It was a great game! It could have been better but, still, we had a lot of fun.
Ben Sheets pitched against Jered Weaver and Weaver gave up one run in six innings against Sheets’ three runs given up in six innings. But Weaver didn’t get the win. Erick Aybar and Jeff Mathis made base-running mistakes and Kevin Jepsen and Scot Shields each gave up a run so we went into the ninth inning tied at 3-3.
Bobby Abreu doubled with one out in the ninth… and then Torii Hunter was intentionally walked by Craig Breslow to get the lefty-lefty matchup against Hideki Matsui. Well, Matsui laced a double just fair down the right field line to score Abreu and the place went nuts!
4-3 Angels. It was a good time–and we headed out to the parking lot with smiles on our faces. On the way out I gave away two of the baseballs I’d snagged (and I had already given one away to my favorite usher during the game). I’m basically giving away most of the balls I snag this season unless their special/commemorative… I’ll run out of storage space eventually anyway. So, I’m making tons of kids (and parents) happy. Heck, I’ve snagged twelve baseballs and given away more than half of them to ushers and kids already.
Ah… it’s nice to have baseball back again!
This particular trip to Angel Stadium began a few weeks ago with a simple message on Facebook from my buddy, Rob:
thursday day game. angels-red sox. may 14th.
can this happen
Well, it so happens that all the little details worked out and at 10:20am I was on my way to the park with Michelle, Rob, and Dennis (another friend from UCI). We got there nice and early and, as it was Rob’s first trip to the stadium, we walked all around the outside of the stadium, past the Nick Adenhart memorial, and ended up at the Right Field Gate about 10 minutes before it opened. All the gates were to open at the same time so I figured, why not be close to the outfield? As this was a day game after a night game, I was worried that there wouldn’t be any BP… also, this was the site at the main gate:
Lots of fans, late opening time, day game after a night game… I was worried I’d be unable to walk away with a baseball.
11:00 came and I ran inside (the rest of my group chose to walk) and I quickly headed to right field and I saw this:
Dang… I called Michelle and said, “No batting practice today. I’ll be near the foul pole.” And that’s where I was a few minutes later when they arrived. Nothing was happening on the field.
I knew the players would come out to stretch and throw eventually so I stayed put. Sure enough, some Red Sox pitchers soon trotted out and after some basic warmups they started throwing. There were a bunch of Red Sox fans all along the wall. I watched Tim Wakefield throw a few knuckleballs and then tried asking Takashi Saito for a ball in Japanese (like I did last September at PETCO Park) but I only managed to get a smile out of him, not a ball. Jonathan Papelbon started signing closer to the infield so I headed over there and, with the help of a Sox fan in front of me, got his autograph on my ticket stub for that day. He progressed out toward the outfield, signing for virtually everybody, and I stuck where I was because Hideki Okajima was finishing up his pregame throwing. He wrapped up and I asked, in Japanese (thanks, Zack Hample) for the ball. He turned, confused as to where the request came from and I put my glove up, repeated my call from the third row of the stands and he saw me! He tossed it right to me–perfect throw! I was so psyched! That’s the first time I’d ever successfully gotten a ball from a player by asking in a non-English language. This would be a day of firsts for me at the ballpark, actually.
Now, I wasn’t shut out… whew – but I didn’t snag any other actual baseballs during pregame stuff… I did, however, snag an Angels Softee Ball from the Strike Force as they shot off their air cannons just before the game. My first time snagging one of these, too!
Here I am with Michelle before the start of the game:
We found seats on the first base side and were able to stay there for the first third of the game (see some shots below). I tried to get a ball from the infielders playing catch before the game and from any players that had recorded third outs as they headed into the dugout. Nope–just wasn’t happening on this day. The souvenirs kept going to the section to the left or right of me.
The four of us headed up to the Lower View Level after a walk (for Rob’s sake) through the different concourses in the fourth inning. We
ended up here:
That’s my new favorite Japanese left-handed pitcher, Okajima, on the mound. I had a chance for a foul ball, I thought. Nope–no luck. We had a great view though and had some snacks and watched a great game unfold. I wanted to be back to the Field Level for the final out of the game so we headed down in the top of the ninth with the game tied at 4 to the third base side. Our view:
You know what’s awesome? Free baseball! The Angels and Red Sox were still tied at the end of the ninth so the game headed into extras. I’ve got to say that this ended up being one of the best ballgames I’ve watched in person in a long, long, long time. Each team had chances to score. The Red Sox would end up leaving a total of thirty-four men on base, twelve of those by Ortiz (who went 0 for 7). It was thrilling… I mean, this game had triples, double plays, stolen bases, hit batters, lots of strikeouts, arguments between managers and umps, and twelve innings! Oddly enough, no home runs… whatever. Still, so exciting!
In the bottom of the twelfth, Juan Rivera hit a clean single. Reggie Willits (who I am a big fan of) pinch ran for him. Erick Aybar sac bunted him to second base and then Jeff Mathis came up, knocked a line drive into left-center and that was the game! 5-4 Angels! Man, it was great!
Did I mention that this walk-off win for the Halos occurred after they escaped a Big-Papi-at-the-plate-with-the-bases-full situation (shown above)? And Torii Hunter stole Dustin Pedroia’s (potential) 5th hit of the day from him with a great catch in center? Both Pedroia and Hunter are studs and I really respect how hard they play the game. Awesome! Really, the teams fought each other hard the whole way and most of the 35,124 fans there stayed to see the end… a miracle in SoCal, I’ve noticed.
And though I didn’t snap a photo of it… I was on the Jumbotron for the first time ever! I just happened to be standing up during a pitching change and Dennis said, “Matt!” and the guy on the other side of me said, “Hey, is that you?” and he pointed to the screen. Sure enough, it was me… I gave a nice thumbs up and looked straight into the camera before they cut to someone else. That was pretty cool.