Tagged: robb quinlan

9/10/09 at Angel Stadium

I donated blood about two weeks prior to this game.  In addition to the
snacks and drinks they provided to all the donors the Red Cross gave us
coupons, an Angels hat, and a voucher for two free tickets to this game
between the Angels and Mariners.  At about 4:35 I parked, headed to the
Red Cross table under one of the big red hats at the Big A, and then
met Chris at the front of the line… we were pretty much the only
people in line at that point.

My strategy when the gates opened was a change from my normal
activity.  Since the Angels would be facing lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith I
knew that they’d all be batting from the right side of the plate. 
Therefore, it made little sense for me to run to the pavilion in right
field… nothing would’ve been hit out there because the Angels would
only have one left-handed batter who’d have hit at the point we ran
inside.  It might seem complicated or like I thought about it a bit too
much… but it’s kind of like a manager leaving a righty reliever in to
face a lefty batter because the batter can’t hit this one pitch he
throws or he’s struck out twelve times out of forty… just statistics
but sometimes they work out.  Sometimes you can play the percentages
all you want and it really doesn’t do you any good.

5:00pm–gates opened and off I went, sprinting left instead of right. 
It felt weird… but I got out to the left field seats first, scanned
the ground for Easter eggs… nothing.  Dang.

Up to the left field pavilion just behind the bullpens.  I’d never been out here for BP:
behind the pens.JPGBut it didn’t take long to get my first baseball of the day.  Robb
Quinlan fielded a ball in the outfield and then tossed it to a player
in the bullpen… or, rather, at a player in the bullpen.  I didn’t
ever see this person but I heard Robb say after he threw the ball,
“Well, you need to pay attention then.”  Presumably he wanted to scare
that person and he succeeded.  The mystery bullpen person threw the
ball back to Robb and then I called out to him and held up my glove. 
He fired a strike right to me (over both pens) and I thanked him. 
Cool!  I knew I wasn’t going to go home empty-handed.  The ball had a
PRACTICE stamp on the sweet spot.  More on this ball later.

At this point in time (about 5:10) I was one of two people in the left
field pavilion, the other being a young man named Scotty who I had met
earlier in the afternoon.  He got a ball that was a homer by some Angel
and the ball took a friendly bounce, rolled up the grassy slope in
center field, and he picked it by reaching over the fence.  Then he ran
off toward right field.

After Scotty left I was the only fan out there again.  There had been a
ball lying in the Mariners bullpen since I’d arrived but since M’s
pitching coach Rick Adair had been going over some drills with the
previous night’s starting pitcher, Ian Snell.  When he finished and
Snell started to head out of the bullpen I asked Adair, “You guys gonna
win this one tonight?”  He shrugged and smiled and instead of me asking
for the ball lying in the pen he tossed me the one he’d been using with
Snell.  I hadn’t asked for it but I certainly appreciated it.  I
thanked him, wished him well in the game, and headed off to the right
field foul pole as the Halos finished their second round.

Now, I have learned where to hang out during Ichiro’s BP cuts… but it
hadn’t paid off for me in the series.  Nevertheless, I took up my usual
spot about a half-dozen rows back just fair of the pole as the Angels
finished and the M’s started up.  In his second round of cuts Ichiro
knocked a ball way out… but it went into the tunnel between the right
field pavilion and the lower right field seats.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t
have given that ball a second thought but two days prior I had seen a
guy wearing sunglasses and an Aramark uniform in there and he’d tossed
a couple of baseballs to fans.  I looked over into the tunnel and, sure
enough, the guy was there and he’d retrieved the ball.  He looked at me
and I asked him, “Are you allowed to toss those over?”

He didn’t do anything other than shrug and reach his arm back–he was
going to throw it.  I took a few steps back from the fence and held up
my glove.  His aim was right on.  Ball #3 on the day… I wish I could
say I caught that Ichiro homer on the fly… but an Ichiro BP homer is
an Ichiro BP homer.  Cool.  I should really find out that Aramark guy’s
name.

I headed up to the pavilion in right after that.  I knew the M’s had a
few lefties still to hit and I figured I might catch a homer.  I almost
did… and this time I didn’t make an error.  I got assaulted.  A ball
got hit and I tracked it, heading to my right.  I got under it, reached
up as high as I could.  I was going to have to jump.  I bent my knees,
fully extended my glove, and–OUCH!

I didn’t know what happened at first.  I felt pressure on my head, my
cap got knocked off and I heard the ball hit someone’s glove.  I turned
around an some old guy had hit me with his forearm from behind in order
to catch the ball.  I was irritated… but I figured he’d apologize for
knocking into me and I would say it was all right and congratulate him
on his catch.  He didn’t… he just laughed and held up the ball, very
pleased with himself.  I minute later I talked with Chris and he’d said
he’d seen it and “was I OK?”  I was… but I’m not too fond of that old
guy… nor are many of the other regulars, as it turns out.

Well, on to happier news.  A Mariner pitcher threw me my fourth ball of
the day.  I couldn’t tell who it was but he’s the guy in the center in this photo.  The one not looking up toward the camera, the one who isn’t Felix
Hernandez:
not felix but who.JPGAny ideas?

BP wound down after that and Chris and I ran down to the dugout as the
players came off the field.  I saw Chris get a ball from a coach and
then he said, “Did you see that?”

I said, “Yeah, you got a ball.”

“Yeah, but if I was smaller and cuter I could have had a bat.”  I
looked… yep, a little kid had received a bat from a player.  Further
down, right where the good seats met the Diamond Club seats, another
kid was receiving a bat from a Mariners player.  I didn’t know who he
was, but on a whim I yelled to him as he approached the dugout, “Hey,
could you spare the batting gloves, too?”  He was already removing
them, didn’t even look, and tossed them up as he went down the steps. 
One of them hit the dugout and fell back down.  The other one came
straight to me.  I snagged it with my non-glove hand.  Wow!  My first
piece of equipment from a major league player (aside from the 122
baseballs, of course)!  I had to find out who it was.  I’d gotten a
good look at him.  A Mariners player, Caucasian, pretty fair skinned…
a batter (so it wasn’t a pitcher, obviously)… and then I though about
the bat.  I ran over to where it had been handed over and asked who’s
it was but the person who had received it had already been taken away to
check it with security.  Dang…

Well, after some sleuthing at home I was able to determine that the
generous batting glove thrower was M’s catcher Rob Johnson.  Many
thanks to him.  Here’s a pic of it:
johnson batting glove.JPGChris had to leave so we grabbed some free sodas on his way out and I
wandered a bit, found a seat as the national anthem was about to start
and realized I recognized the performer:
kenny g.JPGThat’s Kenny G… he played the anthem and when he got to “the land of
the free” he held the “free” note for, I’m not kidding, about a
minute.  It was really impressive!

OK, so before the game started Jose Lopez played catch with Adrian
Beltre in front of the dugout.  When they finished I was standing in
the third row and had my glove up.  No one else was noticing that
Beltre wanted to toss his baseball into the crowd… since there wasn’t
anyone younger or cuter he tossed it to me.  Sweet!

I ended up in three different seats throughout the game.  All near each
other and all awesome.  In the first inning I was here:
field level first base angel stadium cropped small.jpgAnd in the second the Angels went up 2-0 on a Torii Hunter home run. 
Here’s Torii being congratulated as he heads back into the dugout.  I
think this photo’s amusing because Mike Scioscia is clearly about to
smack Torii on the butt.  Baseball rituals…
hunter congratulates.JPGI took a few photos of Ken Griffey Jr. because I figured that this
might be the last time I ever got to see him play.  Who knows if he’ll
retire after this season?
griffey 1.JPGgriffey 2.JPGJohn Lackey was dominating the Mariners… he only allowed five hits
(three of them to Bill Hall) and was still in the game after the Angels
got him a third run in the seventh.
lackey1.JPGI was watching from here:
my view seventh inning.JPGJust hoping for a foul ball… nothing came close though.

As Lackey took the hill in the ninth I was right behind the Angel
dugout… how close?  Well, I zoomed in with my camera as Franklin
Gutierrez made the second out.
gutierrez.JPGGriffey (seen in the above photo)
popped out in foul ground to give Lackey his eighth career shutout…
his first since ’07.  It was a great game–a quick game, too.  By 9:25
I was looking through the concourse for a kid with a glove.  Remember
that Robb Quinlan ball?  Well, I decided that (as long as I snagged at
least one after that) I’d give it away after the game.  I meandered
through the field level as folks exited for at least five minutes and
the only kid with a glove that I found was talking to his folks about
the ball he’d already gotten that night.  I decided to keep it
temporarily and give it away when I was at the game on Saturday.

That’s right–Angels/White Sox day game on Saturday! I hope there’s
BP–it’s the FOX game of the week so I’m guessing they’ll take batting
practice… but you never can tell for sure.

Here are the five baseballs I snagged:
five baseballs.JPGI realize as I write this that I went to every game in the Seattle
series and the Angels won all three of them.  That’s the first time
I’ve been at every game of a sweep.  Cool!  The Halos AL West lead is
now five games.

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7/24/09 at Angel Stadium

So, while I didn’t plan to go to the game on Thursday until the day before, it led to me going to this game… just as unexpectedly.  Here’s how it went down…

At the game on 7/23 I’d heard an announcement that said Angels outfielder Reggie Willits would be signing autographs at a store in the Tustin Marketplace… which is about ten minutes or so from where I live.  After the game that night I told Michelle, “I have some free time tomorrow.  I think I’ll go to the signing, Reggie’s a fun player to watch.”  I thought it would be cool to have his autograph (and as I found out the last time I’d attended a signing, there are often cool giveaways).

Well, at 11:00am on Friday the 24th I headed to the Marketplace and waited in line and got Reggie Willits to sign two ticket stubs from 2007 (when he was third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting) and posed for this picture with him:
DSCF3081.JPG
I also got a few coupons, some baseball cards, and four tickets to that night’s game against the Twins!

I called Michelle, who was running some crucial errands, and told her that I wanted to at least go to batting practice… and maybe stay for a few innings.  We had dinner plans for that night a bit later on in the evening.  I tried to get rid of some of the other tickets, too… and I did… eventually.  The plan was that I’d hit up BP and leave the game so I could be home by 8:30pm for dinner… she was cooking.  I love my wife!

At 4:30pm I was outside the Home Plate Gate with, yet again, hopes of snagging a Metrodome commemorative baseball.  While in line talking to BP regular, Terry, I’d mentioned the extra tickets I had and he suggested I try to give them (or sell them) back to the box office… I headed over there and saw a young couple in the ticket line.

“Hey, are you two about to buy tickets?” I asked them.

“Yeah.  Why?” the guy said.

“Well, here.  How about you guys just take these?  I’ve got these extra tickets that were a giveaway earlier.  I’m not gonna use ’em.  Why don’t you guys take them?”

“Wha-”  They are both stunned.  “Really?”

“Yeah, really.  Here you go.”  And I handed them over.  “Enjoy the game.”  I saw them later during BP… I was glad to help out a young couple.  It felt good!
.
On to batting practice… I ran in and the Angels were actually hitting!  Whew.

Knowing that the Twins were starting lefty, Francisco Liriano (and therefore, nearly all the Angels would be batting from the right side) I decided to head to the right field foul pole to play for slicers and bouncers down the line.  My strategy paid off.
bp right field lower cropped.jpgNo, I didn’t get a player to toss me that ball sitting on the grass.  I did, however, judge a slicing ground rule double pretty well.  Some Angel righty lofted one high in the air and, while people jockeyed for position along the wall to scoop it up, I ran back a few rows, thinking it would hit the warning track.  It did–and took a hop even over MY head and into an empty row.  After a couple of settling bounces I snagged it before anyone else was anywhere near me.  That was the 77th ball in my collection.

About five minutes later Robb Quinlan was hitting and knocked a ball down the right field line.  It had enough momentum to get to the short wall near the pole so I positioned myself, jumped up, hung over the wall, reached out–

–and snagged it while it was still moving, just before it hit the wall.  I had timed it perfectly… think of it like the inverse of an outfielder leaping up to take away a home run–kind of.  Baseball #2 on the day!

The Twins started hitting and they had a few lefties that I knew could hit some bombs so I headed up to the pavilion.  It was, by that point, pretty crowded up there:
DSCF3093.JPGBefore too long I snagged another ball from the friendly arm of Matt Guerrier.  He fielded one in right and I called out, asked him by name, said “please” and he tossed it up.  Boy, even Major League players have trouble throwing a ball UP to someone… first Chris Coghlan down in SD… now Guerrier.  His throw sailed wide… luckily, I was able to move five feet to my right and reach out as far as I could to catch the ball right in front of a lady’s face.  She was about 45 years old and had been looking the other way and never saw the ball.  Another facial contusion prevented by a humble baseball collector. 

A left-handed Twins hitter (Caucasian; not Morneau or Mauer) was launching a few to the seats.  He hit one deep to right field and I knew it was gonna make it out… I started running to my right.  Like, full on sprinting through the ninth row from the wall.  I raced through a full section and half of another one and made the catch!  Lo and behold, I can still actually catch home runs in BP… it had been a while.  My last homer caught on the fly was on June 22nd when the Angels played the Rockies.  I was up to four baseballs on the day!

BP ended soon after that catch (the Twins stopped hitting at 6:10pm–usually BP lasts until at least 6:20.  I jogged down to the visiting team’s dugout and waited for the game to start.  I was just one person and there were a ton of open seats.  I watched the Angels warm up across the field.  Chone Figgins threw with Howie Kendrick:
DSCF3104.JPGDSCF3105.JPG
Here’s Brandon Wood talking to Justin Morneau…I like to assume he’s asking him for some pointers on how to play first base:
DSCF3117.JPGBetween the time I got there and the time I left (during the fourth inning) I probably moved four or five times.  I was even told by an usher while I was stupidly sitting in the first row  (don’t do it–the ushers know the season seatholders… you’re more likely to get kicked out if you’re up in the front) that I should return to my ticketed seat.  I didn’t… and it paid off.

Bobby Abreu was caught attempting to steal second base in the bottom of the third inning.  It caught everyone a bit off guard but I knew that was the third out–and that the second baseman, Alexi Casilla, still had the ball.  As the Twins jogged off the field I was right on the other side of the dugout and I called out for the ball.  There was a teenager on my right, a girl, and she was just yelling and begging for the ball–she didn’t even know who had it.  After Morneau was out of sight, she went, “Aww…” and then Casilla, probably not used to having the inning ending ball, was reminded by a teammate that he should toss it to the crowd.  Well, it was just me and this girl… Casilla turned his back to the stands and tossed the ball up in the air.  I was taller (and had a glove on) so I got it.  I would have probably given it to this girl but as the ball got thrown, she yelled, “NO!” and pulled my right arm down to keep me from getting it.  How rude!  Then she had the audacity to ask me, after I’d caught it, “Can I have that ball?”  No “please.”  I looked at her and said, “No,” and left the section.

1.  Don’t grab other people to prevent them from getting a baseball.
2.  Don’t, then, ask them for the ball you just tried to prevent them from getting.

How rude.

Anyway, I watched a few more minutes of the game from the Terrace Level:
3rd inning terrace level cropped.jpgThe Angels had already scored two runs on a homer by Robb Quinlan and Joe Mauer hit a homer (his first of two on the night) a moment before I snapped this photo:
DSCF3146.JPG
…with one out in the top of the fourth inning–there weren’t going to be any no hitters to be seen this evening in Anaheim and it was about time for me to leave anyway.  I gathered up my things as Mauer rounded the bases and made the walk through the concourse, down the ramp, past the usher (who was handing out coupons for a free taco from Del Taco) and out into the parking lot through the Left Field Gate:DSCF3150.JPG
The sun had just set and the sky was beautiful.  I really wasn’t used to leaving the stadium at this time.  I made sure to take a panorama of the sky and the park as I left for the night after a great time enjoying a summer afternoon/evening viewing the national pasttime:
left field gate sunset.jpgI called Michelle and said I’d be home for dinner at 8:30, as planned, walked to my car, and listened to the game on the way home.  The Angels would end up winning 6-5.  Five baseballs in a BP session and 3+ innings and goin’ home to a freshly cooked meal… not a bad night.

7/19/09 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

111.JPGMichelle and I knew months ago that we’d be heading up to the Bay Area in July and I’d checked the Angels schedule to see if they would be playing the A’s.  Sure enough, the Angels and Athletics met up right out of the All-Star break.  Due to our busy schedule (and wanting to see all of our Bay Area-based friends) we could go a game either on a Saturday or a Sunday.  I picked Sunday because both games were during the day and Saturday’s was a day game after a night game.  It was the Angels–away from Anaheim.  The last time I’d seen them play on the road was in July of 2005 in New York against the Yankees.

I hoped there would be batting practice at this day game after a day game…

Look to the left–ooh!  My first view of the stadium…

When we got to the stadium at 10:55am there was already quite a bit of a line:
112.JPGIt was Kurt Suzuki T-Shirt Day at the Coliseum… complete with pooka shells printed on the neck.  By the time I got to right field and took my first look at this new (to me) stadium it was already 11:05.
113.JPGThere were a dozen people already there and the only people fielding baseballs in right were two batboys… a friendly Oakland fan told me they never toss anything up.

After a few minutes I headed over to left field and Michelle took some photos that I turned into this panorama:
coliseum left field cropped.jpgIt was a bit more crowded but there were plenty of righties hitting and some pitchers shagging in the outfield.  The A’s hit about two or three baseballs to the stands… none near me.  And I saw a few balls thrown to fans… nothing to me.  I wasn’t nervous about getting shut out because I was one of a handful of Angels fans in the stadium.  The A’s wrapped up BP at about 11:35am (the Angels were scheduled to start hitting at 11:40).  I took off the green and put on the red: my circa 2004 Darin Erstad T-shirt.  I chatted with Michelle while we waited for the Angels to take the field.
136.JPGI’d seen a few pitchers come out to throw along the first base line… but no hitters were anywhere to be found.  11:40 came and went… still no hitters.  Oh, no!  Groundskeepers started taking the cage down… I was still without a baseball.  I told Michelle the Angels weren’t going to hit and we took off for the field level.  I got over to the line just as the pitchers were finishing but nobody threw their ball anywhere.

To get over my disappointment and not snagging a ball during (severely shortened) batting practice I figured I’d go for autographs.  Our actual seats for the game were in Section 111, just behind the Angels dugout.
coliseum field cropped.jpgYes, I actually paid for these seats. Got ’em for less than 72 bucks for two on StubHub… sometimes you find some good deals on that site.  Be sure to check it out.

146.JPGFirst up was Matt Palmer, who has grown his facial hair back since the last time I talked to him.  After that I got backup catcher Bobby Wilson’s signature and then some of the Angels came out to play catch and stretch.  After getting snubbed by Howie Kendrick and Chone Figgins as they finished throwing I got Gary Matthews, Jr. to throw me my first ball of the day.  YES!  No shutout for you today, Oakland Coliseum!  I also saved a little kid’s life on this snag, by the way.  Gary threw the ball from about fifty feet away but it tailed to my right a little bit.  I stretched as far as I could and made the catch in the front row of the stands… right in front of a boy about six years old who had his hands down by his sides.  He and his family hadn’t even seen it coming.

Now I was psyched.  I had a ball and two autographs and it was still an hour before gametime.  Jeff Mathis was catching John Lackey’s warmup session:
184.JPGSee the ball?  Look over the “c” in Athletics.

I saw Brian Fuentes heading out toward the bullpen… he stopped to talk to a family he knew and I waited patiently until–aannndd a little kid ran right up and asked him for his autograph.  He looked down and said, “Hang on.”  I lined up right behind the little dude and a minute later I had the All-Star’s autograph.  I made sure to thank him for taking the time.

I saw Erick Aybar tossing with a trainer back along the first base line.  When they finished I yelled, “Erick!  Over here!” and as he was walking toward the dugout he threw me Ball #2 on the day.  Someone behind me said, “Good catch.”  Really, I’d just stood there and he threw it right to me.  I didn’t have to move an inch.

Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders were signing autographs nearby and since I’d already gotten Joe’s (three times–on stubs from his complete game in May) I decided to hang out and get Jered’s.  He reached up across the dugout and signed this ticket:

Then Stomper came by in a little car and I took his photo because, well
, I love mascots.
195.JPGAnd a little later Robb Quinlan signed a few and I got him, too!  Five autographs in one day–that’s a record for me!

About this time the game was getting started and, man, it was a great one.  In the second inning though, Michelle and I toured the stadium.  As this was our only trip to the Coliseum, possible ever, we wanted to take a good look around.  Plus, it got us out of the sun for a while…214.JPGLook at that concourse–pretty ordinary… that’s right off of first base.  And…
221.JPGWalking behind the batter’s eye… pretty dead out there.  Yuck–so much concrete.  Cold, unfriendly, Oakland Coliseum.  Blah.

Then we ended up in deep left field:
left field upper cropped.jpgBefore going down to the third base line:
third base line cropped.jpg255.JPGA’s starter, Brett Anderson, who didn’t allow an Angel to reach base until he had two outs in
the seventh inning, gave up two hits and no walks in eight shutout
frames–and lost!  Michelle and I watched a great duel between Anderson and John Lackey, who went nine innings and got the win!  Brian Fuentes picked up the save in the 10th inning after Bobby Abreu hit a line shot out to right that produced the game’s only run!  Here he is touching home plate after the homer.

About three other balls got hit really well, too… but they were just too high up and the wind caught ’em.  Jason Giambi hit a blast to center that I thought was gone but Matthews grabbed it on the warning track.

So, my impression of the Coliseum is this: ordinary.  It wasn’t lousy by any means.  It was nice (the ushers were a bit grumpy–nothing new).  My expectations were low so I wasn’t disappointed.  There’s absolutely NO personality to this park and I see why they’re not selling many tickets (aside from the fact that the A’s are lousy this year)… who wants to really come back to the Coliseum day after day?  Not me.  The attendance was 18,539… less than half of what I’m used to in Anaheim.  But it was great to see it with my own eyes, watch a game with my wife, enjoy the beautiful weather (surprise, surprise!), and snag three baseballs…
285.JPGWhat?  Yep, the third ball of the day came from recently promoted (and playing first base) Brandon Wood.  He recorded the third out of the sixth inning and jogged toward the dugout.  Normally, Chone Figgins gets the third out balls and tosses them, at home and, apparently, on the road.  This time, however, Wood tossed it right to me while I was in position behind the dugout!  Cool!  I love to look at the difference between a rubbed up game ball and a BP ball.

So long, Oakland–I may never see another game at your Coliseum.  I’ll leave you with some more photos, enjoy!

Angels:
201.JPG188.JPG

A’s:
206.JPG199.JPG

234.JPG262.JPGAnd for some reason MLBlogs won’t let me delete this picture… so here’s Bobby Abreu taking a practice swing before stepping into the box in the first inning:
202.JPG

9/11/08 at Angel Stadium

This was my first game by myself.  I figured it would be weird not having anyone to talk with all afternoon/evening, so I told Michelle I’d call her throughout the night… to keep me company via cell phone.  Let us begin:

I left my place in Irvine at 4:00.  I parked my car at my super-secret-never-have-to-pay-spot just outside the ballpark and headed in.  This is what I saw when I made it to the gate:
Angels Game 09.11.08 004.jpgI was about 3 or 4 people from the front of the line and I had a while to wait.  Luckily, I had brought a book but I kept my eyes and ears open for a certain person.  After a few minutes, the guy I’d been waiting for, Rex Hudler, showed up.  He always enters through the front gate and I had brought my MLB 07 The Show hat for him to sign.  I left my backpack and book and asked him, “Mr. Hudler, could you sign my hat for me, please?”
“Well, sure!” he replied jovially.
I said, “You see, it’s from the video game that you’re on.”
He replied, “Aww… that’s cool!  You know, we’re workin’ on the new one comin’ up here real soon!”  Then I thanked him and he headed into the stadium.  Here’s the hat he signed:
Angels Game 09.11.08 009.jpgAt 5:05 the Home Plate Gate opened and I (on the advice of Zack Hample) did NOT go straight to the left field foul pole and instead headed for the right field pavillion.  A few players were shagging balls out there and I spotted Dustin MoseleyAngels Game 09.11.08 015.jpg and asked him for a ball–I was extremely polite.  He told me, “If you don’t get one, I’ll make sure to throw one to you.”  OK… a good start.  A few minutes later a homer hit some chairs a section to my right and bounced back to the field.  Dustin grabbed it and flipped it right to me!  YES!  Six consecutive games with at least one ball.

In center field, an Angel wearing number 71 was fielding alongside Dino Ebel (the Angels’ 3rd base coach).  I asked him to throw one (from about forty feet away) and he did!  Right on the money.  Robb Quinlan was batting and hit a blast to the seats that hit some seats to my left.  I ran over and caught it on a bounce.  I had three baseballs and it was 5:13pm.  Let me take a moment here to inform you that I had NEVER snagged more than two baseballs at any game… ever.  I’d gotten two at an Angels/Red Sox game in 2004, at my first-ever game at Camden Yards in 2007, and twice this season (8/5/08 at Angel Stadium and 9/9/08 at PETCO Park).  I had a new, single game record.

Well, the Angels finished BP and the Mariners started up.  Let me tell you, Ichiro can hit the ball pretty well, at least in batting practice.  Though he was wearing a coverup over his jersey, I recognized the facial hair of J.J. Putz and asked him for the next ball he got ahold of.  A little while later he got one from another Mariner reliever near him and tossed it up to me.  FOUR!
Later, a Mariners player wearing the number 89 threw a ball to me and then some righty smashed a ball over the fence and right into my glove.  I wish I could have seen who it was… I’m thinking it was Adrián Beltre… no way to be sure.  It was just after 6:00 at this point so I headed down to the right field line in the hope that Jarrod Washburn or Putz (who were nearby) would sign an autograph.  They told some fans they would, but they didn’t.  Bummer.  I followed them toward the dugout and sat down for a minute.

Angels Game 09.11.08 028.jpg As I wrote some notes about my adventure, Yuniesky Betancourt started playing catch in front of the dugout.  There was hardly anyone around at this point so when he was through I simply said, “Yuniesky!” and stood up with my glove open.  He saw me, he threw it.  SEVEN!
I had more than tripled my record.  After a Patriot Day salute, the game was underway.  The players were wearing those nifty hats they had on the 4th of July… you know the ones.  Ichiro stepped in to lead off the game.  Then I realized just how many no-name call-ups from the minors were around.  The Angels had clinched, so they were resting some regulars and the Mariners… well, can you say last place?  Eliminated?  So they had a few less-than-stellar players going for them.  I settled in behind the visiting dugout.  Here’s the view from where I sat:
Angels Game 09.11.08 039.jpgThe game was fun!  The Angels were ahead 7-0 at one point before the bullpen gave up a few runs.  Most of the fans had left early (while I tried, unsuccessfully, to play the dugouts to get a 3rd out ball) thinking it would be a blowout.  Well, with men on and the score 7-3 in the ninth K-Rod came in.  He had 56 saves.  Boy, I’m gonna miss him when he’s not an Angel anymore… but he will make a LOT of cash somewhere.  He let a run score, but notched save #57 on the year, tying the current record (set by Bobby Thigpen in 1990).  Let this be a reminder, fans, don’t leave a game early!  You might miss something great!  He got interviewed for FSN West by Michael Eaves.  I’m hoping he’ll break it this weekend.
Angels Game 09.11.08 106.jpgHere’s another panorama for your enjoyment:
ange
l stadium outside night.jpgAlso, I stayed after the game a bit to see if any players would sign autographs as they exited.  They didn’t, but I experienced this little exchange as Frankie Rodriguez was leaving the park in his very, very nice car.

A dozen of us (Angel Fans):  There’s Frankie!  Hey, Frankie!  Congrats!
F.R.:  Thang you, guys.  Gracias.
Us:  You were great!  Are you gonna break the record?
F.R.:  Hey, c’mon.  You know iz gonna happen.

Confident, eh?
Angels Game 09.11.08 116.jpg

  • 6 games with at least one baseball
  • 7 baseballs at this game
  • 15 baseballs in 6 games this season = 2.5 baseballs per game
  • 23 lifetime baseballs