You know, I’ve got no excuse for not getting these last couple of entries from the 2010 season up… but on the bright side, you get to read a baseball entry about a month early because I fell behind on my blogging!
So, this game on the 25th of September out in Anaheim was the last Saturday home game the Angels would have and the last time I figured there would be guaranteed batting practice going on–so I had to be there. Michelle came with me and, as usual, we got there early, I ran in as soon as the gates opened and I hoped for a successful day of snagging.
The Angels were hitting as I made it to the the right field seats and since there weren’t any Easter eggs around I played each of the batters hoping they would go yard. My first chance of the day came after a blooper from one of the other ballhawks in the pavilion. A guy who’s a regular at BP had a homer lined up and I was rushing in from his right side. Seeing he was in position for the catch in the second row I put on the breaks and stopped about six feet from him. He had a perfect snag set up but the ball bounced off the heel of his glove and back down to the field. He cursed at himself and walked a section to his left hanging his head… but I could see the ball still sitting on the warning track 18 feet below me. Reliever Michael Kohn walked over to pick it up. I think he must have seen what had happened because after I asked him to toss the ball up he made a comment about making sure I could catch it. I said, “Yeah, gimme your best shot!” He lobbed an easy one up to me and sure enough, it was the bobbled ball (with just one distinct mark on it–from where it had hit the warning track).
Shortly after that the relievers ran off the field:
In the above photo you can see Kohn in the center of the shot and the spot where I was when he threw me the ball, right there in the first row. I was on the board for the day. I thought briefly about offering it to my fellow snagger but I knew that if someone tried that with me I would have politely refused… so I kept the ball but agreed to give it away to a young fan later that night.
The first group of White Sox hitters were all righties and Juan Pierre (who, in ten years in the majors has hit 14 home runs) so I hung out near the foul pole in right field hoping for a slicer down the line. A few balls came close but they all seemed just a bit out of reach. That short wall is tough to judge sometimes.
Well, eventually I got my shot off the bat of Juan Pierre. The ball went slicing down the line, took a bounce off the wall to my left and skittered to me across the dirt of the track. I leapt up onto the wall, leaned out over, stretched out as far as I could and made the backhanded snag. The ball was worn, with brown and green stains all over it–but it was mine and looked perfect to me.
Despite my best efforts to snag a BP homer from the White Sox, there just weren’t more than a couple to be had and, though I made it to their dugout after BP–nothing got tossed up my way. I sat down with Michelle and convinced her to head over to the Angels’ side with me for their pregame throwing. It paid off…
I’ve mentioned before that Howie Kendrick and Peter Bourjos end their warmups by throwing knuckleballs to each other. Well, on this warm evening they did just that… and as they finished Howie ended up with the ball so I stood up and yelled, “Right here, Howie! Show me the knuckleball!” Wouldn’t you know it? He did… he threw a pretty darn good flutter-ball that arched over the first six rows and settled inside my black Mizuno. Three on the day!
After the anthem I ran back over to the visiting team’s dugout as their players began throwing. At this point in the season some September callups were in the lineup and I think that, due to my rosters, I was one of the only people in the stadium that knew that number 22 on the Sox was Brent Morel. He’d only appeared in about 15 games for them in 2010 and as he finished throwing I called out to him for the baseball he’d been using. I was here:And as Morel ran to my left he tossed me the ball from the steps of the dugout, over the camera well shown here:
I tried to give the ball away to the kid in the Sox hat two photos above but he told me he didn’t want it. So, back to my wife I went–we grabbed food and sat down to watch the game from these seats:
Mostly, I was hoping for an Angels win and looking forward to seeing Manny Ramirez hit for his new team. I only got to see one of those things though…
Scott Kazmir was pitching for the Halos and he gave up five runs in less than four innings. Ugh. He’d earn his 15th loss of the season as the Angels, who started out well with two runs in the first, wouldn’t score for the rest of the game. Manny laced a double off Kazmir for an RBI. Juan Pierre got an RBI, too. So, that was… good. And I ended up with four baseballs–I gave away two of ’em. But the Angels fell to 75-79 on the year and I knew the playoffs were in doubt. still, a crowd of more than 40,000 came out to cheer on the Halos and that’s saying something. Hopefully, 2011 will be a better year.
The Mariners were in town for the first time this season and Michelle and I would start our anniversary weekend off by heading to a game to welcome Chone Figgins (and Casey Kotchman) back to the Big A.
I had one goal for this evening: snag baseball number 200. I was sitting on 198 baseballs as we arrived–so I would be happy as long as I ended up with two on the night. As we got to the gates there were huge lines. We arrived a little later than I like to because there was a ton of traffic. Luckily, I knew a few people close to the front and I was able to go in with them. Michelle volunteered to hang back.
I ran in to left field and headed down near the foul pole. When Michelle arrived I was still on zero but I had high hopes. She started snapping pictures since she’d forgotten to bring a book with her. Usually Michelle reads during BP… this time though she played photographer and got some good shots.
Here I am, excited, despite the fact that the teenager to the right just snagged a ball and I didn’t get it:
I noticed Joe Saunders in the bullpen. I’d had a brief conversation with him two days earlier and he’d tossed me a ball. As he came out of the bullpen I called out to him and he recognized me. As he walked to the field I told him about myGameBalls.com and wished him well. Michelle got this photo of our conversation before he started his pregame running with some other pitchers:
If you can’t find me right away just look at the photographer in the green shirt. I’m to his right in the above photo. And Joe’s on the field, obviously, drinking his Gatorade.
After that I went back to the wall and eventually was able to get on the board for the day by scooping a ground ball off the track. I’m not sure who hit it but I was able to lean out and grab the ball as it rolled along the dirt. Here I am just after snagging it:
I had a shot at one other ball. It was a BP home run hit by someone on the Angels. I didn’t get it but Michelle took two photos of the action as it unfolded:
In the first photo we’re tracking the ball. It would end up going over our heads. The second photo shows me and one other guy getting to where we thought it had settled. He ended up with the ball even though I’d gotten in front of him in the chase for it. I overran the ball by a row. Bummer.
The Angels would be done with their hitting soon and I’d seen the Mariners come out on the other side of the stadium to stretch. Pretty soon, pitchers would be throwing over on the first base line. I had been talking to the father and son duo immediately to my right all through BP and before Michelle and I switched sides of the stadium I handed over career ball #199 to the kid and told him, “Here you go. But the deal is, if you use all these tips I’ve been telling you and you or your dad get another ball, give this one to an even littler kid then you, OK?” The father was in shock, he asked, “Are you sure? I mean, that’s your ball, you got it.” I told him it was my pleasure and the little boy thanked me. With that, we were off to the right field area.
Not long after we got there I remembered how I’d gotten baseball #100. And I remembered that I had no idea who I got it from . And I remembered that I was pretty frustrated by that. So, I made sure to pay extra close attention to who was hitting and who was throwing nearby. There were a bunch of Mariners right in front of me. Some of them had their numbers showing, some didn’t. The player directly in front of me:
Was Kanekoa Texeira. I had to check my Seattle roster to find out. I’d never heard of him before. But you can all read the Wikipedia entry of the guy who threw me baseball number two hundred. And it wasn’t the one he was warming up with. Some Mariner in the cage hit a ball that ended up bouncing off the wall and stopped near where he was throwing. He leaned down to pick it up and as he did I checked my roster and then yelled out, “Texeira! Texiera! Right here!” I didn’t know how to say his first name (now I know it is cahn-eh-KOH-uh) but I was the only person who knew his last name and he stopped his motion of throwing the ball back to the bucket and instead threw it right to my waiting glove in the front row. Woo!
I took a couple other photos of Texeira to document the occasion:
And as of June 3rd he’s a member of the Kansas City Royals. Them’s the breaks. Maybe when the Royals come to Anaheim I can get him to sign the ball for me.
After that I took it pretty easy during BP. I had reached my goal and I was ecstatic. I mean, I didn’t stop trying to snag completely:
But I didn’t go all out either. Toward the end of BP a ball came to rest near the foul pole. I wasn’t really close to it but I noticed that nobody had even tried to reach over for it. I walked down the steps and got near the ball. There was a little girl standing right over the spot where it was. A security guard was walking over to the ball–and I knew he’d just toss it back and then nobody could have the ball (except the Mariners, I guess). I quickly asked the woman near the little girl (who I assumed was her mother), “Can I try to get it?”
She looked sort of confused. In her hesitation the security guard was getting closer so I told the woman and her daughter: “If you let me squeeze in front of you I can get that ball.”
They wordlessly, but excitedly, moved out of the way and in one quick move I jumped out, balanced myself on the stone wall, grabbed the ball in the tip of my glove and then came back up with it. The mother looked at me like I had just done a magic trick. I asked her, “Now, where’s the little one?” The young girl came out from behind her mother’s leg and I held my glove open with the baseball still inside. She looked up at her mom as if to ask, “Is it okay?” Once her mom nodded she grabbed the baseball with a big smile on her face and they both thanked me.
201 and counting… I ran down to the dugout at the end of BP and got shut out there. Michelle and I grabbed some dinner after that… and dessert after that. Mmm… monkey bread and funnel fries!
We watched the game from the 200 level out between first base and right field. It was a pretty crowded game but we only had to shuffle around for actual seatholders one time. I ran to the M’s dugout for tries at a third out ball but didn’t snag anything during the game… I was okay with that though.
The Angels jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a fielder’s choice and then a groundout… but only mustered five hits for the whole game. The offense looked silly… against Seattle. Which is saying something.
Cliff Lee was up against Scott Kazmir and Cliff Lee won… big time. He struck out 10 over eight innings. The Angels scored three runs (two earned) and that wasn’t enough. Seattle actually hit the ball. Go figure… they scored eight runs. Six off Kazmir and two off Scot Shields, who has been awful. His ERA is, at the time of this posting, 6.86. Ugh.
Anyway, I was hoping that the Mariners would toss up something at the dugout after the game (and we moved pretty close for the ninth inning) I took the following photo late in the game:
It’s a foul ball… heh… look at Mike Napoli. The M’s didn’t throw anything up. Except for Casey Kotchman, who passed a bat up over the dugout that was just to my left. The teenager next to me who got it had flopped down on the dugout at the end of the game, then there was a little girl to his right, then there was me. I thought Kotchman was giving the bat to the little girl. The teenager ended up with it because I wasn’t aggressive. Next time there’s a bat up for grabs I won’t be so nice because I was kicking myself all through the fireworks show:
Which was fun. And Michelle and I got a couple of friendly ushers to take our photo together as we kicked off our anniversary with a fun night at the ballpark:
And we headed home… where I took another photo of the one ball I kept that night:
Yeah, the Angels have moved their getaway day games from the BP-less
12:35pm starts to the BP-filled 4:05pm starts. I had a tip that the
teams took batting practice at these games but I’d yet to attend one.
Also, the gates would only be opening 90 minutes prior to the game as
opposed to two hours before. Bummer… but at least there was going to
be batting practice, albeit shorter than usual.
Instead of going through the Home Plate Gate as I usually do (because
that’s the one that opens two hours early for night games), I went over
to the Right Field Gate knowing that I’d be that much closer to the
pavilion and that the line would be nice and short. I saw John Witt
over there, too, and besides the two of us… here was the crowd:
The Home Plate Gate had at least 100 people hanging around.
Well, the gates opened up and I ran in and up… but somehow still
wasn’t the first fan in the pavilion area. Weird… I guess the first
guy in line another gate got let in a minute before I did… long story
short… no Easter eggs. We caught the end of Angels BP but I caught
zero baseballs in the ten minutes the home team was hitting. I did have
a quick conversation with Scott Kazmir though. I asked him if it was
true that if Reggie Willits hit a home run during BP he had to run a lap
around the stadium. He nodded and said, “Yep.”
“Well, that explains why I’ve never caught a BP home run from him then.”
Scott said, “Yeah, when he’s up it’s funny, baseballs are just bouncing
off the outfield walls.”
The Angels headed in a minute later and the Rays came out to hit.
BP had a nice, light crowd today. The biggest irritation was people
sunning themselves in prime snagging territory.
After about ten minutes of there being very few baseballs hit into the
stands I started asking players for tossups. Willy Aybar was fielding
in right-center and, to be honest, I wouldn’t have known it was him due
to the fact he was wearing a cover-up over his number. Damn those
cover-ups, making my roster useless!
Anyway, some Rays pitcher complemented him on a running catch by saying,
“Nice one, Willy.”
The next time he fielded a ball I called out, “Hey, Willy!” Without
even stopping to see that I had a Rays hat on he turned and fired the
ball to/at me. I mean, he rocketed that thing! scooped up the
grounder, pivoted, and fired like he was making a throw from shortstop
to first base. I was caught a little off guard but I made the catch in
front of my face. man, it had the velocity of a hit baseball… someone
nearby said, “It’s a good thing you caught it. That coulda done some
damage.” Yeah… to my face. But I’ll take it. Cool–on the board for
Sadly, that was it for Rays BP for me. As the were winding down I
headed to their dugout. There, I got a trainer (or someone) to toss me
my second ball of the day. He was stout and blonde and after I asked
him if he could spare a baseball (he was standing next to the bucket) he
threw it right to me… then tossed seven or eight others into the
crowd, too. Nice guy.
At that point there wasn’t much to do… but I knew the Angels Strike
Force would come out to shoot T-shirts and plush baseballs into the
crowd so I went toward right field. I’d seen these launches enough
times to know that the T-shirts fly into the View or Club Levels… the
baseballs make it to the back of the Field Level. So, I stood two rows
from the back of the section, caught one… then walked toward home
plate along with the Strike Force as they shot off more souvenirs.
Really, I was hoping a T-shirt would fall short of its target in the top
levels and I’d grab it… but I ended up snagging a total of three of
those squishy little baseballs. The last one I got by making a nice
basket catch while running to my left. It’s kind of fun… it’s like BP
snagging but safer and the wind really catches the ball. Anyway, I
gave one away to an older lady that wanted one and another away to a
little boy near the dugout. Then I sat down to wait for the game to
I missed out on a warmup ball from the Rays–but I had this view for the
And I had this to my right:
People don’t like to sit in the sun, plain and simple. So that first row out of the shade stays pretty empty. Come on, foul ball… sadly, none came my way. Michelle and I had
dinner plans so a little before 5:00pm I left the game to meet her and
some friends. I had stayed long enough to try for a third out ball
twice… but I came up empty.
So, two baseballs.
I’d be back again soon…
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.