Today was not a normal day at the park.
First of all, we didn’t get to the stadium until about noon (for a 1:10 game), so that obviously meant no BP for us. Secondly, since we had free tickets for the upper deck we were stuck in the upper deck, due to the White Sox policy that ticket holders for the 500 Level must stay in the 500 level (Even though the tickets could have been upgraded for $5). Lastly, it was our first game of the season………in late May……
Makes for a great ballhawking day doesn’t it?
Despite all the difficulties, Nick and I were still determined to snag a few baseballs.
When we first got into the stadium, somebody was guarding the entrance to the 100 level, so we were forced to go straight up to the upper deck. When we first got up there, Nick and I walked around a few sections, to see what our chances were like to snag some foul balls.
After seeing that we were that far up, we decided we had to find a way down to the 100 level.
So, we headed over to the Xfinity Fundamentals deck, which is connected to all 3 levels of the stadium. We went in, climbed down the stairs to the 100 level, and walked right on to the concourse. It was that easy….
From there, I headed over to the first base side of the field, to get into position from a warm up ball from the Twins.
But, all my attempts failed.
So, I headed over behind the Twins dugout to get in position for a Third out ball.
But, shortly after the National Anthem, I got a call from Nick, who said that my Dad said that we needed to come back to the upper deck. I wasn’t to happy, but I did (What I thought was) the right thing and headed back up.
This was the view from the seats:
It was a solid view, but I’d rather be closer to the action.
When I got up there I told my Dad where I was, and how I was going to go for third out balls, he said “You should’ve stayed there!”, and it turns out he never said we had to go back up to our seats.
I was almost positive I was going to get a third out ball if I stayed down there, but there was nothing I could do about it.
After a few innings we headed back down. I was worried our plan wouldn’t work a second time, but it did.
We headed right back over to the Twins dugout, and snuck through a few sections, and ended up with seats in perfect position.
We hung around there for a few innings, but we couldn’t catch a break. Almost every inning we were there, Joe Mauer ended up with the third out ball, and we were right in front of him, but we couldn’t get our hands on one.
After Mauer tossed the 8th inning third out ball to a dude who was standing right next to me, I decided I was going to head behind home plate and get into position for an umpire ball.
I got a perfect spot. I was clearly the only person in the stadium (Other than my brothers) who knew about the Umpire balls.
Therefore, home plate Umpire Adam Hamari tossed me one of the balls from his pouch (if that’s what you want to call it) for the easy snag. It was my first baseball with Rob Manfred’s signature on it, instead of Bud Selig’s.
Soon after, Nick, who just snagged a ball from the dugout after the game, and I met up with my Dad and Jack, and headed out.
It was an interesting way to start the season to say the least…..
34 lifetime balls
1 on the season
Hello, everyone. Before I start the post I want to apologize. It’s now April, and I’m writing about a game from September, so this post might be a bit thin. I got way behind. I hope to write some season previews, goals, and other stuff on here, but in the mean time, enjoy a throwback to 2014.
It was a perfect fall Sunday for baseball. However, not just any fall Sunday. This was the last game of the 2014 championship season, and the last game of Paul Konerko’s career. My brother, Nick, really wanted to go to this game, as he is a big White Sox fan. We also took our friend Jacob with. He is a big White Sox fan as well.
We got to the park about 15 minutes before the gates opened, after sitting in Bears traffic for quite a bit. When we got in line for the gates the line wasn’t very bad:
But, as soon as we got in line, it got extremely long behind us. I guess we got there at the perfect time!
When the gates opened we sprinted inside, rode up the escalator,
And caught our first glimpse of the field. It was set up for Royals BP, but it wasn’t started yet. In the mean time, Jack and I watched two Royals play catch until BP started.
As soon as it started I found a spot in right field, in anticipation of the first group, which included power hitting lefty Eric Hosmer. I knew all Hosmer had to was crank one in my general direction, and I would be on the board. It was not crowded at all.
Sure enough, a few pitches in he hit a towering homer in my direction. I decided I didn’t have to move much, so I just stayed in place and tried to jump and catch it on the fly. I didn’t catch it on the fly, but it bounced off a seat, onto another seat, and I simply walked over and picked it up. It was probably the easiest ball ever. I should have caught it on the fly, but whatever. I still got the ball.
After that, I chased around a few other home runs, but couldn’t get to them.
Eventually, Salvador Perez was walking around in the outfield, and had a ball in his hand.
There were a few people shouting at him for it, but I was the only one who called him by name (I realized it was him because he was wearing a catchers glove), so, he tossed it to me. It wasn’t the easiest catch, either. He threw it kind of high, so I had to reach over my shoulder and lean back to make the catch.
After that, I headed over to left field. At this point, most of the Royals September call ups were batting.
But, nonetheless there were pretty thick crowds. After a bit, a Royals’ call up smacked a ground rule double in my direction. It got bobbled around a bit by the people in front of me before I could grab it to secure my 3rd ball of the day:
Shortly afterwards, BP ended, and I headed to the concourse and found a place to watch the Bears game (They were playing the Packers, so it was pretty important).
After the National Anthem, I headed to my seat to enjoy Paul Konerko’s final career game.
After a few innings, Konerko was pulled, and was given a crazy standing ovation.
In the late innings, we headed down to the White Sox dugout, to try and get a spot to get some game used stuff.
Shortly after the game ended, it turned into a frenzy, and we didn’t get anything. But, Paul Konerko took a lap around the stadium to bit farewell to the fans, and we had a great spot to see the end. I got a pretty cool picture of him right as he was about to head into the clubhouse:
And, just like that, the 2014 ballhawking season was over.
3 balls at this game
21 this season
Yet again, I was really excited for this game. I’ve always wanted to travel to Miller Park to see the Cubs play the Brewers.
Ideally I had wanted to do it when the Cubs had a better chance at actually beating the Brewers to keep my Cubs win streak intact, but now that the streak was over I figured we just needed to go already.
But that wasn’t the only reason I was excited. I actually had the chance to see Javier Baez and Jorge Soler in BP.
So we picked this Friday night game.
First I got picked up from school, headed home quickly, and then got going to Miller Park.
We made pretty decent time getting there, and we parked the car just about 10 minutes before the gates opened (Yeah, I know that’s not great. But for our standards, it’s pretty darn good, especially for it being a school day).
Me and Nick ran ahead to get in the line for the gate:
And we scanned our tickets and parted ways. I headed up the the second deck in left field, because I had figured that’s where all the action would be.
But I was wrong. The other Miller park hawks, Shawn, Kenny, Jake, and Mike all said Soler had hit in the first group, and I had just missed quite a few Baez bombs. For the rest of BP Baez worked on hitting opposite field (he actually hit quite a few into the upper deck in right), and nobody else could reach the second deck (the group was made up of mainly September call-ups). It was pretty sad.
When BP ended I was empty handed, but I wasn’t overly worried about it, because there were about 7 balls sitting in the Brewers bullpen (not all shown here).
So, Jake, Mike and I waited for a security guard, or Brewers pitching coach Lee Trammel to come toss them up. After a while of waiting a guard came and gathered them up into a big pile and left them sitting there:
But eventually, Trammel came out and started tossing them randomly into the crowd. He airmailed me on a throw, threw one past my outstretched glove, and a bunch all around me, but I just couldn’t get my hands on one. I was pretty frustrated, but I still had hope of not getting shut-out.
After we were done in the outfield, we headed down the third base line to try and get some autographs and/or baseballs.
But, we had no such luck. The Cubs tossed out their warm up balls to younger kids, and no one signed.
So, after that, I headed up to my seat in the bleachers for the first few innings. Ryan Sweeny hit a lead off home run, and the Cubs pulled out to an early lead, so I decided to go exploring a bit.
First, I headed to Toyota Territory to talk with Shawn and Kenny for a while, and then I headed back up to my seat for an inning or so, and then I decided to try my luck with getting into the cross-aisle right in front of the press box, but the ushers wouldn’t budge. At that point I figured I would be shut out. I wasn’t to happy with myself at first, but I quickly forgot about my frustrations because of what happened next.
As I was walking around the backside of the press box I ran into Jake and Mike (who are big autograph collectors). They figured out that the Commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig was in the TV booth doing an interview. They figured he would be taking an elevator (that was on the public concourse) back down to the field level. They saw this as a great opportunity to get the soon to be retired Commissioner’s autograph. I’m not a huge autograph person, but I saw this as a very rare opportunity to get a very rare autograph, so I stuck around. Mike gave me a baseball to get signed, which was huge, because I wouldn’t have had anything for him to sign otherwise.
After waiting about an inning or so, He came out a back door of the press box with a few other people, and walked to the elevator. We flagged him down before he got on, and he gladly stopped to sign for us. After he signed my ball I shook his hand, and thanked him for what he’s done for the game. Like him or hate him, he’s made some good moves as Commissioner.
Here is his signature on the ball:
I was determined to sneak past the extremely stingy Miller Park ushers. So many times before, they have made it absolutely impossible to get to the dugout sections.
This time, I took a different approach. We sneaked into a section that was unguarded by an usher pretty far down the third base line, and we walked through all the sections until we got to the dugout.
It didn’t work.
Just as we were about to make it into the first section behind the dugout we were caught by an usher, and we were forced to go the normal way: Wait at the entrance to the seating bowl behind home plate until the game ends, then sprint down to the dugout, and hopefully get there in time to attempt for an umpire ball.
As you would expect, this didn’t work out to well, and we didn’t even come close to getting to the dugouts in time to even see the umpires exit the field.
After our failed attempt, we headed over to the Brewers dugout to meet up with Nick and our parents, and headed out.
All in all, it was a pretty fun day at the park. I met up with other ‘hawks, met the Commish’,and most importantly; The Cubs won!!!!
0 balls at this game
18 so far this season
Sorry about the abrupt ending to the previous addition of this post. Somehow the end of the post was deleted as it was published (Thanks, Word Press!!!).
Anyway, I have one more post to type from the season, then I can type about the off season stuff (JON LESTER!!!).
I also have some pretty big news: I have teamed up with another baseball writer, Pat Carew, and started another blog: mlbupdatesweekly.wordpress.com. We should be posting twice a day about offseason moves. I will be doing the majority of my offseason writing there.
You can also follow us on Twitter: @MLBweeklyupdate
I was real excited for this game. I always like going to games at Wrigley Field, but this was going to be my first time ever sitting in the bleachers there. This would give me a much greater chance of getting a few baseballs. More specifically, the Wrigley Field 100th anniversary baseball (which I talked about in my post about my last game at Wrigley Field). Also, Erik Jabs, a very talented ballhawk from Pittsburgh was going to be a this game. I had met him at a game I went to at PNC park last year. About 15 minutes before the gates opened we hopped in line for the bleacher gate. Little did I know I was about to walk into the most eventful game of my ballhawking career. When we got into the stadium this was the scene: No Cubs BP. My chances of getting a Wrigley Field commemorative took a big hit. I was also looking forward to seeing Javier Baez’s show in BP. I knew Pirates BP was going to start shortly so I quickly headed over down the first base line where a few Pirates pitchers were warming up. When I got over there I said hi to Erik, who already had 2 (I think). Shortly afterwords BP started up. A few pitches in, somebody smashed a line drive to the corner, where John Axford was standing. I called his name, and he tossed it to me. At that point I was in a rush to get back to the bleachers because the Bucs first BP group included Andrew McCutchen, so I didn’t want to miss out on that. In the rush I forgot to take a picture. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it, or ask my little brother Jack (who had just gotten a toss up, also). A few minutes after we got back to the left field bleachers someone on the Pirates hit a DEEP blast to the second to last row of the bleachers, I climbed up a few rows, but couldn’t quite get to it before it landed, so it bounced right in the middle of the row, but thanks to some WICKED side-spin the ball came right to me (I was standing in the aisle). It was kinda crazy. For the rest of the first two groups of Pirates BP I ran around trying to catch their line-drive homers, but there was lots of competition, so I couldn’t get my hands on one. After a while I decided to head over to right, where there were far less people: There wasn’t much action, because the wind was knocking down pretty much everything. During the last group of BP Erik told me that a strength and conditioning coach tosses out a bunch of baseballs to Pirates fans at the end of BP, so I took his advice and headed down there. I stood and watched the last few pitches of BP, and then the players came running off the field, and a coach hooked me up: I was having a pretty good day, but the hunt for a commemorative was still on. After I was done by the dugout, I headed back over to the bleachers. I sat around for a few minutes, and then got into position for a ball from Chris Bosio. He always tosses six baseballs into the bleachers before each game. After waiting a few minutes, he came out, grabbed six baseballs, put them in his pockets and wandered out toward me. He tossed them out all around me, but none to me. He tossed almost all of them to regulars in the bleachers. Me and one other little kid were the only kids trying to get one from him, and he ignored both of us. Come on. After he ran out of baseballs I ran over to where Wellington Castillo was warming up, the exact same spot as last game at Wrigley Field. And I got the same result as last game (no ball). After I was unsuccessful there, I got as close to the players warming up down the 3rd base line as possible: Which was unbelievably far away. Wrigley Field security makes it impossible to get toss ups when you aren’t in the bleachers.
After I was unsuccessful at snagging a commemorative I headed back over to our spot in the bleachers (Which were the top row in the section just to the side of the well). I had forgotten to take a picture.
In the top of the first some action occurred right off the bat (pun intended). With two outs and a man on first Neil Walker hit a deep fly ball in our direction. Right off the bat I didn’t think it would have the distance to reach the bleachers, but as it got closer and closer I realized it did.
At first I thought “This can’t be happening.” I couldn’t believe I was actually going to have a play on a game home run. As soon as I realized it had enough, I realized it was probably going to land in the first two rows of the section, so I was going to play it off the bounce. This was risky because there was a pretty good chance that it would either bounce back onto the field, or someone would knock it down before it could bounce. I am the one in the blue next to the person in the bright green. At that point I was getting ready for the bounce.: In this shot the ball had already bounced and came right towards me. The ball bounced higher than I thought it would, so I had to jump. When I jumped I reached up with my bare hand (which was a really stupid move.) and the ball bounced off my hand. I blew it. I blew my chance at not just a home run, but a commemorative baseball. At the point where I reached up I couldn’t see the ball because of the sun, so that may have contributed to me botching the play.
Afterwords I was in disbelief. A home run came pretty much right to me, and I blew it. If I had just stayed in my seat and waited for it, I would have had it without a problem. It still makes me cringe just writing about it almost 2 months later.
On the other side of things, I really shouldn’t be mad. This was my first shot at a home run. I made some rookie ballhawking mistakes. More tries will come (sooner than I thought)……….
As for the game, it was a blowout. After Walker’s home run everything went south. By the second inning the Pirates had ran away with it, and I soon realized that my Cubs perfect record was not going to withstand this game.
When the game wasn’t very eventful I just tried to take in the bleachers. The weather was great, there was a pretty good sized crowd, and it was a good atmosphere. It is really going to stink when they put up that humongous video board.
Later in the game I talked to an experienced ballhawk (who can be spotted in the screenshots wearing a bright orange Bears jersey). He was a great guy and it was great talking to him. He ended up grabbing the home run from the first inning by diving over a bunch of people (including my mom) to grab it. I think he felt kind of bad, so he gave me a commemorative baseball! With a perfect logo. I would have rather snagged one myself, but I was very happy to have one. Hopefully I will run into him a few times next season.
In the top of the 7th, I was still talking to the ballhawk (I unfortunately forgot his name) when Gerrit Cole stepped up. Within the first few pitches he smacked a line drive home run towards us.
I didn’t think I had a chance at it, so I didn’t react right away, but after it landed it was bobbled around a bit, so I decided to go for it. I am circled in the screenshots below:
The guy in the gray is bending over to pick it up.
In this shot I am about to reach for the ball:
At some point I got the tips of my fingers around the ball, but couldn’t quite grasp it.
Honestly, I really didn’t try 100% to get the ball. If I went all out, I would have gotten it easily. I’m not exactly sure why I let up. Maybe because I thought that I didn’t have a chance at it off the bat. Maybe I didn’t want to grab it out of the guy’s hands who barely had a grip on it.
At first, I wasn’t very disappointed about missing that one, but it turned out to be Gerrit Cole’s first carrer home run! ugh.
For those of you who don’t know, players want to keep their first career home run, so usually the team is willing to trade some pretty cool stuff for the ball. The person who ended up with the ball got some signed balls by Cole, and an Andrew McCutchen signed jersey.
Had I snagged it, I would have asked for: The game used bat he hit the home run with (signed), and to actually meet him in person and hand him the ball myself.
It would have been pretty awesome, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. Eventually I’ll get one.
In about the bottom of the 8th, we headed down by the Pirates dugout, to try to get some umpire balls after the game ended:
And we were unsuccessful. We didn’t get down to the dugout in time to get them (mainly because of the ushers).
And that was it. It was the last time I would be in the original Wrigley field, and the first time I was walking out of Wrigley Field after a Cubs loss.
3 balls at this game
18 balls this season
30 balls lifetime
7-1 Cubs overall record when I am in attendance
Jack: 4 (the Pirates love him)
I was pretty exited for this game. It was our first game in a while, and I was in a slump. I was very eager to break out of it.
We ran into the stadium shortly after when we thought the gates opened. We thought the gates opened at 11:40 but we later discovered they opened at 11:10. That was frustrating.
Anyway, today we had some friends with us at the game, Colby and Christian, from baseball.
Once got in the stadium Christian and I went here:
Blue Jays BP was one of the best BP’s I had ever witnessed. Mainly because of Brett Lawrie, who crushed a homer our way almost every pitch. But I just couldn’t catch a break. I never got my hands on one. It was extremely frustrating. I had tons of room to run.
One home run was hit to my left, I ran though a row, but my glove somehow got caught of the bench, so I had to pull it off the seat, and by the time I got it off, it was already to late. After that, I went back to my spot. A few swings later he hit it to my left again, but this time, some obese lady was standing in the middle of the row, and wouldn’t get out of my way, so I couldn’t get to that one. The very next pitch, he crushed it over by my spot. So I turned right back around and sprinted through the row, but this time I kind of tripped, and scraped up my knee. I recovered quickly but I was just enough to slow me down. After the ball landed, the same lady said “It’s very dangerous to run for baseballs like that”. That made me mad.
You know what’s dangerous? Standing in the middle of a section when a Major League baseball player is crushing baseballs toward you, when you don’t have a glove, and have no clue what you’re doing!!!! BP is a war zone. You can’t just stand (or sit, for that matter) in the middle of the section with people who actually know what they’re doing running around, and actually trying to catch these things. Go find a seat up in the nose bleeds, or please don’t come for BP.
Anyway, after that whole fiasco, I headed back to my spot. After a break in the action, Lawrie stepped back into the cage for a few last pitches. The very last pitch of BP he crushed one directly at me. I sprung into action. I climbed down a few rows, and got into what I thought was perfect position, but the ball didn’t carry, and fell 2 rows short, and I didn’t get the ball. This one stung. I really thought I had that one.
After that, we met up with Nick and Colby, and then we headed our separate ways again. Christian and I ended up here
Waiting for the Blue Jays players to come out and warm up. After about a half hour a few players came out.
While we were waiting, I met this kid from Toronto named Michael. We talked baseball for a while until the Blue Jays players came out. After a failed attempt to get a baseball from (my twitter follower) Jòse Bautista, Michael helped me get some autographs. I got Munenori Kawasaki to sign my ticket, and then Michael dove deep into the crowd of Jays fans to get J.A. Happ, and Jòse Reyes to sign it also
Big shoutout to Michael. I should have given him my blog address. Oh, and by the way, this was the crowd of Jays fans:
They travel pretty well. I heard a few of them talking about going to Milwaukee to see them play there right after this (they played there the next series). They have a pretty awesome fan base.
We headed up to our seats shortly before first pitch. This was the view:
After the first few innings, I decided to go for third out balls with Colby. First we headed over toward the home plate end of the Sox dugout, but the third out wasn’t a strike out, so that didn’t work. Then, we headed over to the Jays dugout (I didn’t get a picture). As soon as the third out was made, Colby and I got into great position to get the ball from Jòse Bautista. I believe we made eye contact, and then, he tossed the ball. Right over my head. He totally Big-Leagued me. I was the only Jays fan in the whole section.
After that we headed back to our seats. After sitting in our seats for an inning or two, we headed over to the other side of the stadium, where it was much warmer.
In about the bottom of the eighth inning Colby and I headed behind home plate to get into position for an umpire ball.
I noticed some scouts:
That was something I had never seen before.
Once the third out came, we moved to get into position, and the home plate umpire came through!
But Colby didn’t get one, and I felt really bad. I thought the Ump was going to throw one to both of us.
Anyway, the Sox won! This was the first time we had ever seen the White Sox win in person.
1 ball this game
15 this season
8 games this season
0 games without BP
I knew this was going to be an interesting game when I found out I was going. I knew it was going to be difficult. Cubs vs Cards, a weekend game in the middle of July, and a giveaway day. I knew it was going to be a near sell out, and I had a feeling I would be walking out of the stadium with just a Jack Brickhouse bobblehead.
That wasn’t the only thing I was worried about. My lifetime Cubs undefeated record was at risk. They have never lost a game with me in attendance. My first game was in 2006. Coming into this game my record was 7-0. Including a Rich Hill complete game (2006), A win at at Miller Park vs the Astros (The day after Zambrano threw his no-no, in 2008), and a win against Albert Pujols’ Cardinals in 2009. It’s safe to say the streak is battle tested.
Anyway, this game was part of a family reunion that lasted all weekend.
Anyway, the ballhawking group for today was Nick, and Jack, my cousin Erik, and my second cousin Ben.
After we parked the car, we walked to the street corner of Waveland and Kenmore, where some consider the birthplace of ballhawking. From there, we split up. Nick, Jack, and Erik got in line for the gates, and Ben, my second uncle Dave (Ben’s dad), and I stayed out on the street.
Out there, I met Ballhawk legend Moe Mullins, and Dave Davison. We stood an talked for a few minutes and then I found a spot.
Here’s where I stood:
We didn’t get many chances at any balls. Only one ball left the stadium, and it took a bounce off the last row of bleachers inside the stadium, and bounced straight down. A few of us sprinted towards it, but it fell right to an usher (Yeah, an usher outside of the stadium. Fun stuff), who handed it to a Cardinals fan (Yeah, a Cards fan. These ushers are crazy). Shortly afterwards all the ballhawks ran over to Sheffield, because Anthony Rizzo’s group was up. Before we headed over there I got my picture with Dave (who stayed over on Waveland):
We stood here on Sheffield:
Nothing made it out of the stadium over there, so we headed inside.
For those who aren’t familiar with Wrigley field ballhawking, if you don’t have a bleacher ticket you can’t get into the bleachers. This was a big hit to my chances.
After we entered the stadium and got our bobble head we headed down the right field line:
Cubs BP was still going on, but there weren’t any Cubs players standing in the corner. Right as I was going to run over to the Cubs dugout to try to get the elusive Wrigley Field commemorative baseball, the Cubs BP ended. It was very disappointing. I knew this was probably the last chance for me to get the Wrigley Field ball today. It was frustrating to say the least.
Anyway, I moved on, and tried to get something out of these Cardinals players:
The three guys closest to me on the right were doing some pitching drills. I was waiting on an overthrow, but it never came. They looked Hispanic, and they were talking to each other in Spanish, so I tried that with them, and that didn’t work. No players in my general area even looked into the stands. Very stingy.
But the players by the bleachers? Not so much. Matt Holiday and his kid were throwing almost EVERY ball they got into the stands. I was very jealous. Just as I saw that going on, Matt Adams stepped into the box. My. Goodness. Gracious. Half of his BP homers found the street. He even hit one oppo onto Waveland. I was wasn’t very happy about not being in the bleachers. I even thought about sneaking in at one point. I quickly scrapped that idea and I started to move towards the Cardinals dugout. I cut through a section, and as soon as an usher turned his back I moved into perfect position to get a ball after BP.
So, I stood and watched the end of BP. When BP ended nobody tossed out anything. Zip, Zilch, Zero.
So much for the “Best team in baseball” being nice to the “Best fans in baseball”. Smh.
After that I headed to the other side of the seating bowl, When an usher wasn’t looking, I moved here:
That same usher swiftly kicked me from the section. After checking my ticket he said “Yeah, BP is over”. Really? You think I’m that stupid? Whatever.
After that I went over where Wellington Castillo was warming up.
After he finished playing catch, he put on his gear, and he started practicing blocking balls in the dirt, right up against the wall, right in front of me. When one rolled behind him, I saw the logo, and it was commemorative! He also had another one in his back pocket. After he finished he scanned the crowd for people to throw the balls to, and he threw one to someone to be right (who dropped it 2 times), and someone just to my right. I guess it was just one of those days.
During BP, my uncle took a picture of Jack, and Erik, which basically describes the day ballhawking wise:
After that I headed up to my seat. Here was the view:
When I got up there I decided to not try for baseballs during the game. It was tempting, but I really just wanted to sit back, relax, and watch the game with some of my family that I don’t see often.
As for the game, it was a nail biter. The Cardinals took a first inning lead, and the lead seesawed back and forth for the rest of the game. Luis Valbuena hit the game winning dinger in the bottom of the 8th to put the Cubs up by a run. They would hang on in the 9th to win 7-6, to keep the streak intact!
Overall, It was a great day, even though it wasn’t so great ballhawking wise.
Here are some picture my uncle took during the game:
8 lifetime Cubs games
Lifetime record 8-0
Ryan Sweeny has 8 RBIs and 2 homers when I am in attendance
0 balls this game
14 this season
Everyone else: 0
This was the most frustrating game of my ballhawking career. By far. It was rough.
It all started leaving Baltimore. We got out of the hotel late, and once we got on the road we hit bad traffic right around Wilmington, Delaware. We crawled all the way to Philly. By the time we got to the hotel the gates were just about open. We had the choice between that night’s game, and Saturday night’s game. I’m not entirely sure what the heck I was thinking, but we ended up going to that nights game…. Ugh.
By the time we got out of the hotel (it was the Marriott Courtyard right by the sports complex) it was just about 5pm (the time the gates opened), and we didn’t have tickets yet. So, we had a taxi drop us off by the left field ticket office, where we bought tickets, and then we headed over to the left field gate:
Which was just opening. We had such a hard time getting to the gates on time this trip. It’s very frustrating.
After I got my bag checked and my ticket scanned I ran to left:
Where I didn’t get any toss ups. The only interesting thing that really happened was the Nats throwing around a football thing that made a noise like a bird whenever it was in the air. They did that at every game we saw them before BP. Pretty funny.
After about a half hour of not much action, I headed over to right, which was closed for the first half hour because of ‘Social night’.
I mainly came to this game just to meet them. My main goal isn’t just snag baseballs when I go to games, I also like to meet people. It’s especially nice to meet some people your age!
By the time I got to right field, Phillies BP was over, and the first group of Nats BP was underway. That group included the best BP hitter I have ever seen; Bryce Harper. After seeing him in BP the last 2 games, I knew exactly where to play him. When he stepped in the box I headed up to about the 15th ish row, and stood on the aisle. Well, my position was spot on……Sort of……
Harper started CRUSHING homers to the other side of the section. I ran to that side, only to see it bounce off someone/something, and deflect back onto the field. That happened about 4 or 5 times. It was EXTREMELY frustrating.
After that I headed back over to left. It was very very crowded, so I mainly went for toss ups. A group of three Nats were standing on the outfield. Lots of fans were yelling at them to throw up a ball whenever one of them got one. Eventually one of them obliged and threw it to some adults right in front of me. Somehow it got passed them, and rolled right to me. A scrum ensued. Some other kid and I dropped to the ground and started grabbing for it, but neither of us could get a handle on it, and it rolled down the aisle, right to a kid who just got one.
After that, nothing much happened. I thought I would go down by the foul line, because the player that was over there was tossing out a bunch of baseballs. As soon as I started heading over there, someone hit a homer right where I was standing. It was just that type of day, I guess.
Shortly after that, BP ended. So, I headed over the the ballhawking world famous pizza wedge, where we awaited the ballhawking world famous Jesus Tiamo, as he always throws out two baseballs before the game. Here they are sitting on the bench in the ‘pen:
(one is right behind the yellow thing). After a loooooooonnnnngggg wait, Jesus arrived:
He entered the bullpen, grabbed one of the balls, and tossed it to………………….. You guessed it!!!
That one baseball just sat. So Maddie and I waited and waited and waited for him to toss it out. And he never did. Right before the game started we got kicked from the wedge, so I headed up to my seat:
Where I sat for a while, and then went down to field level to get this heavenly Philly cheesesteak:
It was the highlight of my day. By far.
After watching the game for a few innings at our seats, Nick and I headed over to the SRO area right behind the Nationals ‘pen, to try to snag a ball and salvage the ballhawking disaster that was this game:
Every inning we tried to get a warm up ball out of the Nats coach. Nick got one in about the 8th inning, but I had no such luck.
At that point I just tried to stay positive. I was actually pretty confident I would get one at the end of the game. So, the top of the 9th rolled around, and the Phillies were just about to close it out. I was just about ready to spring into action and keep the trip’s streak alive. But guess who decided to show up. The rotten, no good, malicious, Mr. “I already snagged two balls, but I’m hungry for more”, kid brother; Jacob “Jack” Larson.
Sure enough, he comes and stands right next to me. At this point I was anything but calm. I was livid. I knew my chance of getting a ball was over.
So, as soon as the game ended, the people from the pen started cleaning up their stuff, and started to get going back to the clubhouse. But, a warm up ball was still sitting out. Right as a Nats player was about to head out with the bag, a security guard handed him the ball, and he started scanning the crowd. He obviously found Jack, and threw it underhand right between us. A million thoughts went through my head in the 2 or 3 seconds the ball was in the air. Ultimately, my ballhawking instincts kicked in, and I reached over the railing and caught the ball. As soon as I did, Jack was not to happy. As I was getting chewed by Jack, the Nats player pointed at Jack, so I handed him the ball. I’m not that big of a jerk. But guess what? The knucklehead was ungrateful. He pouted the whole way out of the stadium and back to the hotel.
And, hey, I wasn’t to happy either. I’m not a big fan of giving away baseballs. I just don’t like doing it. I like to keep the balls that I snag. I like to watch my actual collection of baseballs grow. Sure, I’ll give away a ball to a little kid every once in a while, but my brother? Heck no.
It was just the cherry on top of a frustrating day.
And, yes, I’m counting the ball. I count the balls I give away. It would have been mine if the thief didn’t show up anyways…..
One more thing. Save your “You get plenty of baseballs” and “Your a crybaby, shut up” comments. This is my brother, okay? I wouldn’t be mad if this was some random little kid. This is different.
Just a frustrating day at the park. But hey, at least I saw a new ballpark! I’m now at 8 lifetime.
Just like the last game, I was looking forward to this game for a long time. A lot more than the Nats game. But, I knew it was going to be more difficult.
At first, I was scared that there would be no BP. This was the scene as we pulled in to Baltimore:
(Yes, I know, that’s a football stadium). It was POURING. Like crazy. For about an hour.
My worries went away, when Rick Gold reported that the cage was up.
We ran a little bit late, and got to the gates with about 3 minutes to spare. Again, we had a spot in line saved for us, by Grant Edrington. Just like the game at Nats park, we couldn’t get couldn’t get to the spot before the gates opened.
When we got in the stadium we ran to left field for Season Ticket holder BP (courtesy of Avi Miller).
Yeah, it was bright and sunny. Crazy, right?
Anyway, when I ran in I said hi to Grant, and then found a spot. There were a few homers I was close to, but nothing super close during O’s BP.
Shortly after Nationals’ BP started, the floodgates opened, and the public was let into left field. It was a huge crowd. I knew then it was going to be difficult to get shutout.
A few minutes after the public was let in I had a super close call. A National hit a homer that hit a seat and then rolled onto the ground. I scrambled up to the row in front of it, and tried to grab it. It somehow ended up on a seat in my row. It was me and some other guy who grabbed it at the same time. I almost had it in my grasp, when the other guy moved his glove up (the ball was kind of resting on his glove, which was on his hand) in the air and the ball flew up in the air and landed a few rows behind us. It was frustrating.
Right after that I introduced myself to Alex Kopp. He helped me out big time. Here’s how:
There was a kind of short and chubby coach wandering around the outfield, and he was tossing out a few baseballs here and there. I asked Alex if he knew who he was (Grant also chimed in) and he said he knew his first name was Ali.
That’s Ali in the middle (he might have seen me take the picture. He’s looking straight at me).
The next time he got a ball I climbed down a few rows, and yelled “ALI!”. He started looking around with a strange expression on his face, so I yelled his name again and waved. He looked at me with a strange, almost suspicious look on his face and said: “How do you know my name?”. I really didn’t know what to say at that point, so I said “I read the roster!”. He said “I’ll give you one later…”. So, I went back to my spot. After a few minutes, he ended up getting a few. So, I waved my hands, and he threw it right to me, but then some guy, who meets the description of a four letter word that I’m not going to say on this blog, ran through the row in front of me (I was standing in about the 4th row) and swatted it down towards the front row. Ali looked at me/the guy with a not to happy look on his face, and he waved me down to the front row. After a few pitches he came over and said “Why didn’t you push him over?” and I said “I don’t want to start a fight!”. He laughed and handed me a ball:
It was kind of fun.
After that I went back to my spot.
There weren’t any close calls until the very last pitch of BP, when a National crushed a homer in my direction. I ran through a row, and got in perfect position, but another guy who was in the row in front of me was also in perfect position, and he caught it. My glove was literally right behind his. Well, according to Alex, the last pitch of BP is good luck, so better than nothing I guess.
Anyway, after that I followed Alex, and met up with all the ballhawks (Grant, Rick, Tim Anderson, and a former usher whose name I forgot). From there Grant, Alex, Rick, and I went to do trivia (I couldn’t do trivia, you have to be 18). What happens is, you have to take a survey, then you get a free t-shirt, then in order to do trivia you have to have your t-shirt.
So, I watched Grant do trivia:
(I’m not sure who he is playing with..)
After that Grant gave me the t-shirt (which is on the table in the last photo)!
After we finished over at trivia Grant and I headed down to the third base line to try and get a warm up ball out of Adam Jones. I grabbed a seat about 10 or 15 rows up from the field (Jones usually launches his warm up ball deep), and waited for Jones to finished. As soon as he did he started scanning the crowd, and didn’t throw it anywhere near me. But, two players were still warming up, one of them was Manny Machado. When he finished playing catch he scanned the crowd, found me, and tossed me this:
Commemorative! I’m glad to have another one. I like the logo.
After that, I headed over to the flag court to meet up with Grant and Alex again.
After a half inning there I headed over to my seat:
I sat there for a few innings. They were nice seats, but I was stuck in the middle of the row. Just as I was thinking about moving around, it started raining, so we moved here:
The rain wasn’t very bad, so I decided to move around a little bit.
First, Nick and I headed over to the flag court for a few innings. We went to the flag court for lefties (there weren’t many), and sat and talked for righties. After we said bye to Grant and Alex we headed over to where Rick was sitting.
There was lots of room to run. If there was a home run or foul ball anywhere in that area, Rick would have got it. No doubt.
We sat and talked for about a half inning or so. Before we left I had Rick take this picture for the MGB scavenger hunt:
And then we headed to get in position for an umpire ball.
We walked through the cross aisle all the way from Rick to the home plate area, where we walked right past an usher and a cop (who were in a conversation…) to get here:
Yeah, it was that easy.
Anyway, after the 3rd out was recorded, the home plate umpire came through the tunnel, and handed out a ball to Nick, Jack, and some random kid.
After that, we went by the dugout, and got nothing. We were going to wait for the people in the bullpen to come in, but they were having some sort of throwing session, so we headed out.
Overall, Camden Yards was awesome. Awesome park, good ballhawking, nice people.
Before I get to stats I am going to do something I usually don’t:
Avi- Thanks for all the help with the tickets! STH BP was a big advantage! The seats were great. We’ll have to meet in person sometime!
Grant- Thanks for all the tips, and the t-shirt! The tips helped out big time! And the t-shirt is an awesome souvenir. You saved me a few bucks!
Alex- Thanks for the assist on the Ali toss up. Needless to say, it was huge!
Rick- It was nice to meet you at these two games. It was very fun. Hope to see you in Chicago later this season!
Everybody- Thanks for letting us raid your territory for a few days. It was a lot of fun. Keep in touch.
13 on the season
5 games this season
Post about CBP coming soon
I had been looking forward to this game for a
long loooooooooooonnnngggggg time. But, first, before we start, I have something interesting to share. When we were touring the capitol building that morning I saw something that was kinda baseball/ballpark related (where ever I am I’m always thinking about baseball….). We walked through an interesting room that had a bunch of statues in it, and the room used to be the old house of representatives. On the floor it had small plaques marking where famous politician’s desks used to be:
It kind of reminded me of the home run landing spot plaques at Camden Yards (my next stop on our baseball road trip).
Anyway…… We got to the gates around 4:27, 3 minutes before the gates opened. Rick Gold had spots saved for us at one of the gates, but we couldn’t find him, so we just hopped in the back of a line right as the gates were opening:
After I got my bag checked and scanned my ticket I ran right to the red seats in left-center.
Where I was greeted by Rick. Right after that a ground rule double bounced right to where another guy and I were standing in the front row. It bounced off one of our gloves, over our shoulder to right where Rick was standing. He wasn’t expecting it to get to him, so it bounced off him and rolled into the middle of a row. There was a scrum, and Rick came up with it.
A while after that I got a toss up from an unidentified National:
After that I headed over to right:
I stood on an aisle behind Rick. After a few close calls with some BP homers, I got a toss up from Gio Gonzalez.
I wasn’t sure whether to catch this one or not. He tossed it right passed a guy in an Orioles’ jersey, right to me. I didn’t have to even move. I offered it to him, but he declined.
After a little while without much action a National hit a homer to the section to my right. I started moving toward it, but I couldn’t get to the spot in time. It bounced off of someone’s glove or a seat or something, and rolled down the row right to me, almost like it wanted me to have it.
It was then I realized I was in reach of breaking my single game record (4), which was my goal for the day, and it was only Nats BP!
During the last group of Nats hitters a few balls landed in the stands along the right field line. I saw a few ushers scanning those seats, but I didn’t see them come up with any baseballs. So, as soon as Nats BP ended I made my way over there right as the seating bowl was opening. As soon as I got down there I looked in all the rows for the baseballs, but they weren’t there. Apparently the ushers did pick them up.
After that I headed over to left, which was packed. Nothing really happened, except Rick cup tricked two balls from the pen. After I realized that Left field was impossible I headed back over to right. At this point the O’s were putting on quite the show. Chris Davis, and Nelson Cruz hit a bunch of homers. I wasn’t near many Davis homers, and the closest Cruz came to hitting one oppo was putting one on the batters eye in center (next to the red seats, keep that in mind later).
After their group was done Nick Markakis’ group stepped up. He started hitting bombs right away. He hit a few to the second deck, and a few right around me. One of those was hit about a section away, and Rick and I chased after it. I gave up on it pretty quick and headed back to my spot on the aisle. Right when I got back to my spot Markakis hit one right to me. I reached up, but I squeezed my glove a bit too early, and the ball bounced off my glove, and I caught it with my bare hand. It was pretty cool. Then, I looked in my glove, and it got even more cool:
After BP ended a guy walked down the batters eye to get the balls. A few people asked for them, and he couldn’t decide who to give it to (most of the people were wearing O’s stuff) so he tossed them both straight in the air. I jumped, and came up with one:
After that I headed over to our seats, which were right by the bullpen. Over the course of BP I saw lots of balls land in there.
When I got there I discovered they were still there:
9, to be exact (not all are pictured here).
While we were waiting for the O’s to come and toss the balls up from the pen’ I got this picture for the mygameballs.com scavenger hunt:
Then, all of a sudden, a voice came over the PA system and said “Attention fans: The start of the game has been delayed due to approaching weather”. I pulled out my phone and looked at the radar, and there was a line of storms approaching DC. It looked like a quick little squall line that would move right through, but it wasn’t. At all.
The grounds crew pulled out the tarp when it was still sunny, and it didn’t rain until about a half hour after that, but then, the flood gates opened.
The rain came in slow at first, but then it started pouring, then it slowed up, then it started pouring, over and over and over. For 2 hours!!!!!!!!
We found a spot in the concourse under the second deck, and waited and waited and waited. While we were waiting Rick Gold came and joined us. We talked for about an hour and a half or so.
He demonstrated his cup trick, and we got this picture:
Also, for the scavenger hunt.
After a loooooooooooooooooong wait, the grounds crew came on the field and started prepping to take the tarp off. Then, it started pouring again, so we decided to leave.
When we were on the Metro on the way back to the hotel, we learned that the game had been postponed.
Overall it was a great game, without a game.
I liked Nats park. It was a lot different than I pictured it to be, but it was nice. I will have to return sometime…….
11 this season
5 on road trip
6 lifetime stadiums
Remember I was here ( 9/16 @ Aviator stadium)? Well, I had a pretty good ballhawking day. Today? Not so much.
It was a pretty rainy day, and we didn’t decide to go until about the 2nd inning .
We got there in the 3rd inning:
We bought our tickets at the box office, and we went in.
My plan for this game was to go for foul balls. The crowd was low, and there weren’t many people going to foul balls, so I thought it would be pretty easy.
That wasn’t the case…..
I stood here for righties:
And the other side for lefties ( I forgot to take a picture ).
After a few innings I got this picture:
I thought that was pretty cool.
Innings past, and I still didn’t have a foul ball. I didn’t know what to do. Go for toss ups, when most of the players weren’t tossing anything out, or keep going for foul balls.
I decided to stick with going for foul balls.
In the bottom of the 8th I had an extremely frustrating close call. I was walking through a few sections to get back to my spot for righties when a righty on the Aviators smashed a slicing line drive a few seats behind me ( right where I was about 10 seconds ago). I ran back toward it, but I was to late. It hit a seat and bounced all the way back onto the field. Ugh.
In the top of the 9th it finally came. I was in my spot for lefties when a lefty on the Greys ( who the Aviators were playing ) hit a hard line drive that bounced of a wall:
Hit a plastic fence:
And rolled right to me:
I didn’t get anymore baseballs, which was fine. I was happy to not get shutout, and I didn’t ask for a toss up the whole night!
1 baseball, 1 minor league ball this season
5 minor league balls lifetime