Baseball is back!
We had our eyes on this date a few weeks in advance. Both the Brewers and the White Sox were home, and it was my brother Nicholas’ birthday. Considering he’s a Sox fan, we were originally planning on going to their game, but the weather was rainy and cold. So, we decided to head north to the stadium were you can escape the elements!
Since it was a Sunday day game following a Saturday night game, we assumed there wouldn’t be BP, but we still planned on getting there before the gates opened because it was a bobblehead day.
Unfortunately, we ran quite a bit late, and we got there 10 minutes after the gates opened…. Yikes. But, we figured it was okay since there wasn’t BP, and the lines to get in were short.
By the time we had our tickets scanned it was about 11:55, 15 minutes after the gates opened. When I got my first glance at the field, I was pretty shocked. Yeah, you guessed it. The cage was set up and the Astros were taking batting practice.
Lesson learned: Don’t assume things.
As soon as I saw what was going on, I sprinted through the seats on the third base side of the field, through the concourse, up the stairs to the 200 level, and into the bleachers. By the time I got up there I was completely out of breath, and I almost lost Jack, who could barely keep up.
When I got up there, I met up with my buddy and fellow ballhawk, Josh Schenk.
Here is where I stood for the portion of BP that I saw:
After about 10 minutes up there, nobody had come close to reaching the second deck, until Jose Altuve got a hold of one. As soon as he hit it, I got a beat on it. It was going to land in the middle of the front row, but a bit short. So, I squeezed past the guy in the white, and ended up next to a barehanded buy who was right in line with the ball. I reached in front of him, and made the catch.
The moment I caught it, the guy in the white (who also happened to be barehanded) said: “You better not do that to me!”. He had a friendly tone, so I figured he was joking around. So, I responded: “Don’t worry I won’t”.
Turns out that wasn’t all he had to say.
He continued: “You can’t do that to me, because these are my actual seats, you know”. At that point I just turned around, rolled my eyes, and walked away. He kept talking, but couldn’t hear what he said. I don’t need to be lectured by someone who clearly has no idea what he’s talking about. It’s batting practice! Just because a ball is hit to your seat doesn’t mean you automatically own it.
As for the guy I reached in front of, he gave me the stink eye for the rest of BP. He definitely would’ve dropped the ball or gotten hit by it. If anything, he should’ve thanked me instead of giving me dirty looks. Bring your glove next time and maybe you can catch it yourself…
Shortly after my catch, BP ended, and the two barehanded guys started talking to each other. As I started to walk away, the guy I reached in front of continued to stare me down, and the two started walking after me, so I figured that was my cue to get going.
After I jogged into the concourse, I ran into my parents, who were on their way to check out the Selig Experience exhibit and movie. Since I was reading The Game, which focuses a lot on Selig’s role in getting baseball back on it’s feet after the ’94 strike, I figured I would check it out.
We waited in line for a few minutes:
When we got in, we sat down in this theater type room:
After everybody had a seat, they played a 15 minute movie about the story of Bud Selig bringing baseball back to Milwaukee, and then keeping it there by building Miller Park. It was very interesting.
The coolest part of the exhibit was at the end of the movie, one of the movie screens rolled up to show a projection of Selig talking in the office exhibit they put together. After the movie ended, we walked by the office exhibit:
We then moved into a room with lots of pictures and Selig quotes:
If you ever have a chance to visit this exhibit, I highly recommend it. It only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get through the whole thing. Perfect thing to do between BP and the game.
After we left the exhibit, I walked around the ballpark, and made my way to Toyota Territory, where I would spend most of the game.
I got there just in time to see 2015 AL Cy young award winner Dallas Keuchel warm up.
The Astros bullpen catchers were also warming up, behind Keuchel. After they finished, they tossed the ball to an Astros fan who was standing right next to me, but it went right through his hands, and bounced into the separate part of Toyota Territory. I tried to reach and grab it but, I couldn’t quite snatch it and, someone who was sitting nearby ran and picked it up.
This wasn’t exactly the best game to be in Toyota Territory during the game, because when you have one of the best left handed pitchers in baseball on the mound, chances are there won’t be much going on home run wise in right field.
The game started off with Jose Altuve taking Brewers’ starter Jimmy Nelson deep into the second deck on the first pitch of the game. In the bottom half of the frame, the Brewers responded by loading the bases, and scoring two runs. The game ended up being very long, as it was dominated by walks and strikeouts. The Brewers walked six times over the course of the game. Though Keuchel was off his game a bit, he still struck out eight. The game spanned over three hours and eight minutes, which is pretty long for a pitchers duel. The Brew Crew came out on top 3-2.
During the game I talked quite a bit with Josh, and Shawn Bosman (A.K.A Ballhawk Shawn), who showed up just before first pitch. We had lots of good conversations about ballhawking, and baseball in general. Shawn also tipped me off that the Astros were still using some Florida Spring Training commemorative balls in their bullpen. Snagging one became my main focus of the day, and contributed to me staying in Toyota Territory the whole game, even though Keuchel was pitching.
Around the 6th inning I went up to the second deck in left to check out my actual ticketed seat, where my parents and Jack were sitting.
It was honestly a pretty good view. The only reason I didn’t stay up there was our seats were in the middle of the row, and all the other seats in the row were taken, so if a home run were hit up there I would have a slim chance of getting my hands on it.
While I was up there, my mom told me a pretty funny story. In the early innings of the game my mom was getting a snickers bar out of Jack’s bag for him, but she somehow dropped it over the railing into the Astros bullpen…. I honestly wonder if they ate it…
When I went back down to Toyota Territory, the Astros had pitchers tossing in the ‘pen, so I found a spot where I could possibly get a toss up.
I’m in the grey, the Astros fan who dropped the toss up is sitting to the left of me, and Shawn is behind me next to the guy in the striped overalls.
You might be wondering why that railing was there. It was real annoying, and obstructed my view of the bullpen.
I asked Shawn why it was there. I guess when the Phillies were in town last year, Jake Diekman got in a shouting match with a fan. Supposedly the fan told Diekman he was going “Come down there and kick your ass”. So, now we have an annoying railing.
After one Astros pitcher finished tossing and sat down, I called bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte’s name. He didn’t respond, but Ken Giles heard me, laughed, and waved at me. So, I waved back. That was pretty funny.
By the time the ninth inning rolled around, I hadn’t seen any Florida balls in any pitchers hands, and the Astros were down, so they didn’t have anybody throwing. So, I had no choice but to wait until the end of the game to ask Bracamonte to look in the bag for a Florida ball.
As soon as the game ended, I pushed the railing off to the side a bit, and squeezed into the corner spot. Bracamonte was throwing a few balls out to other fans behind the bullpen, and then came over to the ball bag. I got his attention, and asked if he had any Florida balls left. He shrugged his shoulders.
“Great”, I thought so myself, as I thought that meant there weren’t any left.
But then, he dug into the bag, grabbed a ball, and tossed it to me. When it was in the air, I could see the logo, and it was a commemorative!
I made sure to tell him thanks multiple times before he left the bullpen.
When I got home, I realized it was also my 50th career ball.
Bracamonte is known to be one of the nicest guys in baseball. I know he has helped other hawks such as Shawn, and Tony Voda snag commemoratives. Check out this story about him after the Astros lost in the playoffs last year. Class act.
Shortly after that, I said goodbye to Shawn and Josh, and met up with my brothers behind the dugout.
Not an awful way to start off the season.
2 balls this game
2 balls this season
50 career baseballs
This summer, when I saw the Blue Jays play at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, I reached a personal milestone: Ten MLB stadiums visited.
Those ten include (In the order in which I visited them): Wrigley Field, Miller Park, US Cellular field, Progressive Field, PNC Park, Nationals Park, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Comerica Park, and Rogers Centre.
I will rank the stadiums based on the “LarryRating” system that I have just came up with. I will give each ballpark a score on a scale from one to ten in each of these three criteria:
Includes surrounding area, stadium design/aesthetics, stadium food, etc.
Based on quality of ballhawking at that stadium, considering ballhawking is part of my everyday experience at a ballpark
Includes fan participation, fan behavior, stadium music, etc.
Then I take the average score, and put them in order. Ties are broken using personal preference. The higher the rating, the better.
[I do not own any of the following pictures]
10. Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers (LarryRating: 4.6)
Don’t get me wrong, Comerica Park is a beautiful park, but it was the little things that made it last on my list. Ballhawking was difficult due to the terrible bullpen positioning in left, and the gates opening only 90 minutes early. The surrounding area doesn’t help it’s rating, as there were many homeless people, and it was rather depressing. One of the strangest things about the stadium is that there wasn’t an organ! What baseball stadium doesn’t have an organ?
There were some good things about Comerica too. The backdrop of the skyline sets a nice scene. The baseball Ferris wheel, and other baseball themed rides give a unique touch, and the outside of the stadium is well-designed.
You can read more about Comerica park in my blog post about my visit there last July.
9. Citizens Bank Park, Home of the Philadelphia Phillies (LarryRating: 5.0)
Citizens Bank Park has many great things about it, but the not so great things outweigh the good.
The main problem with this stadium is it’s isolation from downtown Philly. If you look closely at the picture, the skyline is to the right of the scoreboard. The stadium is only surrounded by a sea of parking lots, and it’s neighbors Lincoln Financial Field (Home of the NFL’s Eagles), and the Wells Fargo Center (Home of the NHL’s Flyers, and NBA’s 76ers). The atmosphere is nothing to write home about, especially now that the Phillies are cellar-dwellers in the NL East. Ballhawking isn’t terrible, but it could be better.
But, it’s a beautiful ballpark, the food is delicious, and the fans I talked to were friendly. The Phillies hall of fame and unique bullpen design in center field make things interesting. Like all the ballparks I have visited, I would recommend visiting.
You can read about my Citizens Bank Park experience here.
8. Progressive Field, Home of the Cleveland Indians. (LarryRating: 5.3)
I have mixed emotions about this ballpark. Part of the reason is, I didn’t have a chance to ballhawk there, as we showed up to the only game I’ve seen there in the 3rd inning. I feel like it would be a relatively good ballhawking stadium, based on what I’ve read about it.
The main reason Progressive is #8 on my list is because the atmosphere isn’t very exciting. Attendance tends to be very low, so that drags things down a bit.
But, they do have some good fireworks shows. Hopefully I will have the chance to visit Cleveland again sometime in the near future, so I can give Progressive Field another shot.
You can read about my brief experience at “The Jake” here.
7. US Cellular Field, Home of the Chicago White Sox (LarryRating: 5.6)
I love the Cell dearly, as it is the stadium I visit the most, but I just couldn’t put it higher on my list.
It has the potential to be the best ballhawking stadium in the league, with low attendance, lax ushers, and lots of room to run, but the the gates opening only 90 minutes prior to first pitch makes things a bit difficult.
White Sox fans are passionate, but when the team fails to reach expectations they have a hard time getting fans to the ballpark. This has made the atmosphere a bit dull, especially over the last few seasons.
The experience is nothing to write home about, as the ballpark design is rather bland. But, I have to say the food is above average, especially if you like churros.
You can read about my most recent experience at US Cellular Field here.
6. Nationals Park, Home of the Washington Nationals (LarryRating: 6.0)
Nationals Park is another stadium that I had a limited experience at, because the game we attended there was rained out. But, I did get a chance to ballhawk, and it was great.
In my opinion, Nats Park is one of the better ballhawking venues in the league. Not because of the stadium layout, which makes things a bit more difficult due to the bullpen placement, but because of the gate opening times. Nationals Park is one of the few stadiums in the MLB that opens it’s gates Two and a half hours early, which means fans get to see the entirety of home and road team batting practice.
Considering I didn’t see an actual game, I have to assume the atmosphere and experience were about average.
You can read about my experience in the nation’s capitol here.
5. Miller Park, Home of the Milwaukee Brewers (LarryRating: 7.0)
Miller Park being only #5 on this list shows how many great ballparks I have visited.
Miller has one of the best atmospheres of all the stadiums I’ve visited. No matter how the team is placed in the standings, the Brewers have nearly sell out every weekend in the summer. From tailgating in the parking lot, to the sausage races, and singing “Roll out the Barrel” after the 7th inning stretch, the Miller Park experience is one of the most unique in the league.
That said, Ballhawking is sub-par, considering there is no first deck in left field, and not many hitters reach the second deck on a consistent basis. Large crowds and strict ushers complicate things as well.
Next time you’re in Milwaukee, make sure to visit Miller Park.
You can read about my last experience in Milwaukee here.
4. Rogers Centre, Home of the Toronto Blue Jays (LarryRating: 7.6)
Who would’ve thought the Rogers Centre would’ve been this high on my list? I sure didn’t expect it to be a great park before I visited there. Who would? Ugly turf, not a permanent baseball stadium, and tons of empty seats tend to make the Rogers Centre look like a below average place to watch a baseball game.
To my surprise, I had a great experience there. Fans showed up in droves, and it was a great atmosphere. The fans around me were paying attention to the game, which was also surprising considering our seats were in the second deck of the outfield. The stadium got very loud. It turned out to be a great place to watch a game.
The experience was also great. It was a giveaway day, and the theme was winter in July. It was actually pretty cool.
As for ballhawking, the large crowd made things difficult, but I still managed to snag two baseballs.
You can read about my experience in Toronto here.
3. Wrigley Field, Home of the Chicago Cubs (LarryRating: 8.3)
Do I even have to write about Wrigley Field?
The Wrigley Field experience is one of a kind. The hand operated scoreboard, marquee, ivy on the walls, and the surrounding neighborhood are just a few things that make the friendly confines so special.
The Cubs never struggle to get fans to the North Side, so the atmosphere is one of the best, if not the best, in the league.
“Well, if Wrigley Field is so great, why on earth is it only #3 on the list?”
Because of the ballhawking. Stadium rules only let those with bleacher tickets enter the bleachers, so if you have a ticket in the seating bowl, you have to stay there. Many fans show up to the gates early to get a good spot in the bleachers, so that makes it tougher to navigate quickly though the steep bleachers.
If the ballhawking part of these reviews were eliminated, Wrigley Field would be #1, without a doubt.
You can read about my most recent experience on the North Side here.
2. PNC Park, Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates (LarryRating: 9.5)
Where to begin? Beautiful scenery, passionate fans, and high quality ballhawking are all things that come to mind whenever I see PNC Park on TV.
The backdrop of the Roberto Clemente bridge and the Pittsburgh skyline may be the best in all of baseball. Not to mention the outside of the stadium, which features multiple statues, and a river-walk beyond the right field wall.
The loud Pittsburgh fans create a great atmosphere, especially on a mid-summer night when the Bucs are in the heat of the playoff race.
Great ballhawking puts the cherry on top of the experience, with Roberto Clemente gate opening two and a half hours early for night games.
I highly recommend making a trip to the city of Pittsburgh, and PNC park. You won’t regret it.
You can read about my experience in Pittsburgh here.
1. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Home of the Baltimore Orioles (LarryRating: 9.5)
If someone asked me to describe the perfect ballpark, the description might sound a lot like Camden Yards.
The stadium design is beautiful and unique, featuring the B&O warehouse, flag court, and Eutaw street in right field. The retro design concept of the stadium gives things a great touch.
When they show up on a consistent basis, Orioles fans give Camden Yards a great atmosphere. Once you leave, you won’t be able to stop humming the O’s style of the Seven Nation Army chant.
Ballhawking is another great thing about this stadium, as the Flag court and Eutaw street give hawks plenty of room to run after home runs during BP, as well as during the game. The wide cross-aisles in the seating bowl also provide good opportunities to snag a foul ball.
Once you visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards you will want to return. I know I do.
You can read about my experience at OPACY here.
Thanks for reading. Remember you can hear from me every Sunday night at 8 Eastern, 7 central on my podcast, Ballhawk Talk.
This Wednesday, January 6th, we will find out which players out of the 32 on the ballot will be inducted into the hall of fame in Cooperstown, New York this summer.
Over the month of December, qualifying members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (Known as the BBWAA) have carefully selected who they believe is worthy to be enshrined into baseball immortality.
In order for a player to be on the ballot, they must have played in the MLB for at least ten seasons, and must be retired for five. If a player fits that criteria, their name is then sent to a special screening committee, who will decide whether or not that player should be on the ballot.
For a player to be elected into the hall, their name must be selected on at least 75 percent of the ballots. Players are removed from the ballot if they are named on less than five percent of ballots, or have been on the ballot for ten years.
Members of the BBWAA shall not select more than ten players, and are to vote on these six criteria: A player’s record (stats), playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the teams on which the player played.
Mateo Fischer has explained all of this in-depth in a YouTube video, and I suggest you watch it. We have also discussed it in an episode of Ballhawk Talk.
Players returning to this year’s ballot include: Mike Piazza (4th year on the ballot), Jeff Bagwell (6th), Tim Raines (9th), Curt Schilling (4th), Rodger Clemens (4th), Barry Bonds (4th), Lee Smith (14th)*, Edgar Martinez (4th), Alan Trammel (15th)*, Mike Mussina (4th), Jeff Kent (3rd), Fred McGriff (7th), Larry Walker (6th), Gary Sheffield (2nd), Mark McGwire (10th), Sammy Sosa (4th), and Nomar Garciaparra (2nd).
* Smith and Trammel were grandfathered in after the eligibility rules for years on the ballot were changed in 2014.
Newcomers on the ballot include: Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Edmonds, Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner, Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Luis Castillo, David Eckstein, Troy Glaus, Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Jason Kendall, Mike Lowell, Mike Sweeny, and Randy Winn.
- Jeff Bagwell (First Base, .297 BA, 449 HR, 1991 ROY, 1994 MVP)
Jeff Bagwell was a major part of Houston’s “Killer B’s” Lineups in the late 90s that sent the Astros to three consecutive playoff appearances. When healthy, Bagwell would be a workhorse, completing the feat of playing all 162 games four times. Over 15 seasons Bagwell complied a slash line of .297/.408/.540. Looking at his career based on the five criteria: the record, playing ability, and contributions to the team he played on are there, and there are no major flaws to his integrity, sportsmanship, or character in my opinion. Therefore, I include him on my ballot.
- Jim Edmonds (Outfield, .284 BA, 8 gold gloves, 4 time all star)
Jim Edmonds’ case for the hall of fame may be a bit light on the surface, but if you do a bit of research, there is a case to be made. Though Edmonds’ hitting stats weren’t good enough to lead the league, he was an above average hitter. He averaged 32 home runs, and 97 RBIs a year, with an average of .284 over his 17 season career. I will always remember the time he hit two homers in an inning, and received a standing ovation against the White Sox in his stint as a Cub in 2008, after eight years as a Cubs killer in St Louis. But, it wasn’t his bat that made him so special. It was his glove in center field. In his 1,867 games roaming the outfield, he posted a .988 fielding percentage that earned him 8 gold gloves over the course of his career. To look at more advanced metrics, Edmonds posted an 88 Rtot, which is a stat that calculates the number of runs above or below average a player was worth based on the number of plays made. Essentially, that stat is saying over all the games Edmonds played in the outfield, he saved his team 88 runs more than the average fielder would have. Another interesting stat I found (in an online article from the St Louis Post dispatch) was that between 1995 and 2005, Edmonds had the third highest WAR (58.2) of any player, trailing only Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. I think that all speaks to his record, playing ability, and contributions to the team. I have always seen ‘Jimmy Baseball’ as a good guy, on and off the field. He meets my standards for the six criteria. Hopefully, he matches 75% of those actually voting, as I would like to see Jim Edmonds’ name on a plaque in Cooperstown.
- Ken Griffey Jr. (Outfield, .284 BA, 630 HRs, 1997 MVP, 10 gold gloves)
I don’t think I have to do too much explaining for this pick. Arguably the most qualified player on the ballot, Griffey was a true five tool player. There is even talk of him being the first unanimous Hall of Famer. There is no doubt he deserves it, putting together a slash line .284/.370/.538, slugging 630 homers, and driving home 1,836 RBIs. ‘Junior’ played excellent defense as well, winning ten gold gloves over his 22 season career. If you play 22 years in the MLB, you’re doing something right. This pick was the easiest to make out of all my picks. Griffey was the first player on the ballot that I have seen play in person, when he was on the White Sox in 2008. I look forward to the day he is voted in so I can say I have seen a Hall of Famer play in person. I shouldn’t have to wait to long…
- Edgar Martinez (DH, .312 BA, 7 time all star, 5 Silver Sluggers)
Of all the players on my ballot, I am most passionate about Edgar Martinez. I can’t get over the fact that he isn’t already in the Hall. Here are a few stats that support my case: Martinez posted a career slash line of .312/.418/.515. All the players that have Edgar beat in all of those categories are either in the hall, or banned from baseball: Ted Williams, Jimmy Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth, Joe Jackson, and Dan Brouthers. According to Ace of MLB Stats on twitter, one full season played by Martinez is worth 241 games by David Ortiz in terms of career WAR. Also, David Ortiz will have to reach base in all of his 646 plate appearances in his final season to pass Edgar in career On base percentage. These stats make it clear that Martinez was the best DH of all time, and deserves to be in the hall of fame. He is long overdue.
- Mike Piazza (Catcher, .308 BA, 427 HRs, 1993 Rookie of the year)
Mike Piazza is one of greatest offensive catchers of all time, putting up a career slash line of .308/.377/.545, and slugging 427 homers. Piazza was a 12 time all star, and a 12 time silver slugger winner. He played a major role in the Mets 2000 pennant winning team, hitting .324, and posting a 1.012 OPS. Piazza played 16 seasons, which is impressive at the grueling position of catcher. Piazza will go down as one of the Mets’ all time greats, and if enshrined, would be the first position player in franchise history to wear a Mets cap on his plaque.
That would be it. I’m more of a believer in a smaller sized hall of fame, and more than five players would be pushing it. I also considered Trevor Hoffman, Tim Raines, and Curt Schilling, but elected to leave them off.
Schilling’s recent comments on religion don’t help his character. Raines’ cocaine problem put his contributions to his team at risk.
It took no thought for me to leave Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, and Sosa off due to PED use. Though Bonds never tested positive, there is no denying that he put on a ton of muscle over the course of his career, and it is rather suspicious. Clemens was listed on the Mitchell Report, as was Bonds. McGwire admitted to PED use. Sosa reportedly tested positive for PEDs, and was caught using a corked bat.
I don’t feel that players who took PEDs should be allowed in the hall of fame. Just because they weren’t disciplined for it during their careers doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be disciplined now. They hurt the integrity of the game. Their contributions to the game’s history deserve to be recognized, but that is what the museum is for. They just shouldn’t have a plaque.
An argument that has been gaining traction recently is: If there are are racists in the hall of fame, such as Ty Cobb, why shouldn’t we let PED users in? There are much more questionable characters in the hall.
Yes, I acknowledge that there are players in the hall of fame that have done much worse than take PEDs, and I absolutely do not condone that. But, why should we continue to tarnish the Hall of Fame by adding rule breakers into the mix as well? I believe that we should keep juicers out, and work on a way to remove racists as well. Just because writers were irresponsible 50 years ago by not following the character clause, doesn’t mean that writers today shouldn’t follow it, by letting PED users into Cooperstown.
How do you feel about PED users in the Hall of fame? Who is on your ballot? Feel free to drop a comment, or tweet me: @MLBLarry.
Little did I know this would be my last game of the season. We had planned to go to a few more games after this one, but life really started moving quickly, and baseball moved off the radar.
We got to this game a few minutes before the gates opened, so by the time we bought our tickets the gates were already opening. But, I knew this didn’t really matter, because it was a day game following a night game, which usually means no BP.
I received this on the way in:
As soon as I got in the seating bowl, I headed down the first base line, where a few Mariners were tossing.
There, I spotted Hisashi Iwakuma, fresh off of his no-hitter.
After he finished throwing, he started walking back to the dugout with the ball still in his hand. I followed him back to the dugout, and then called his name. He tossed me this right before he headed back into the dugout.
After that, I headed back to where I was. At that point there were only one or two players throwing. I didn’t get a ball from one of them, but when bullpen catcher Jason Phillips came to take the bag of balls out to the ‘pen, he rolled me this:
I was off to a pretty good start. I figured if I worked the dugouts the whole game, and then get an umpire ball, I could end up with 5, which would tie my high for balls in a game, and it would be my best game of the season.
After about a half hour, players started to come out for pre-game warmups. I moved into position to get Robinson Cano’s warm up ball, but didn’t have any luck.
What happened next was very frustrating.
After Cano finished warming up, he went to sign some autographs. Since I was close by, and had a clean baseball, I decided to go for his autograph.
I scribbled the pen on my hand to make sure it worked, and it did. So, I stuck the ball out with the pen, and……….
Greeeeeaaaaaaaaatttttttt. Nothing like a failed autograph.
After that, I grabbed a spot by the Mariners dugout to go for third out balls.
I didn’t get anything after three or four innings, so I headed to my ticketed seat for an inning or two.
After that, I headed to the home plate side of the dugout:
After a few innings I moved down a bit.
In the top of the eighth, the Mariners grabbed a 5-4 lead, so by the time the bottom of the ninth rolled around, I got into position for an umpire ball, figuring the game was about to end.
But, the White Sox had other plans. They tied the game at 5 and sent it to extras.
I was faced with an interesting dilemma. I had never ballhawked at an extra inning game.
Go to the outfield and wait for a walk off home run? Play the dugouts, which have been unsuccessful all day? Wait by the umpire tunnel for foul balls, and be ready for the game to end?
I elected to play the home plate end of the dugout in the top half of innings, and go wait at the umpire tunnel during the bottom half, considering the game could end at any moment.
Nothing happened in the 10th, nor the top of the 11th, but the Sox wrapped things up in the bottom of the 11th. I was in position for an Umpire ball, but I think the crew just wanted to get out of the ballpark, as Home Plate umpire Tim Welke didn’t even glance my way.
After the game we stuck around for a faith talk with Willie Robertson from duck dynasty, Adam LaRoche, and Gordon Beckham, among others.
It was pretty good. Good way to end the season at the ballpark.
2 balls at this game
15 balls this season
48 balls lifetime
Yes! I’m all caught up on blog posts before it turns 2016 anywhere in the U.S.!
Be ready for my hall of fame ballot coming out shortly.
Happy New Year!
The reason we picked to go to this game was pretty simple: Zack Hample would be there, relatively fresh off of his sang of Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit. I had met Zack previously in NYC during the All Star break in 2013, but I forgot my books at home and didn’t get them signed.
We got to the ballpark at about 5:20, 20 minutes before the gates opened. We purchased our tickets at the box office, and then headed to the gate with the shortest line:
When the gates opened, we got our bags checked, and sprinted in.
As I was running towards the bleachers, Mike Trout absolutely smashed a home run that bounced on the steps up to the concourse, and bounced into the concourse. Before I could grab it, an Usher snatched it. I asked for it, but she completely ignored me, and handed it to an older ballhawk with a glove, probably a regular at the Cell. Not the best way to start BP.
Once we got into the bleachers, this is what it looked like:
Nice, right? Needless to say, the sun made things difficult.
On top of that, it was pretty crowded:
Not crowded numbers wise, but crowded with people with gloves. I can count at least 10 in this picture, not to mention I had some pretty talented competition that included Hample, Rick Crowe, Dave Davison (Aka. Super Dave), Rich Buhrke, and Dan Katz (Aka. Barstool Big Cat). There were a few cameras out there as well, as Zack had someone getting footage for his you tube channel, as did Big Cat. You can watch Zack’s video here. Big Cat’s video is here.
To make a long story short, I didn’t snag during BP. I was caught out of position a lot of the time, and the Angels were a pretty stingy toss up team.
As BP was wrapping up, I headed over to the Angels dugout to attempt to get a ball out of the Angels equipment manager, as he put the baseballs back into the bag.
Big Cat was the only one who got anything.
After BP completely wrapped up, I had Zack sign all three of my books:
I then headed into the throng of humanity waiting for Mike Trout to come out and sign autographs:
It was crazy. The crowd was more than three rows deep in some spots.
I didn’t get him to sign, which wasn’t a surprise. He only picks about 2 small areas of about 5-10 people to sign for, and then heads to warm up.
After Trout was done signing, I got in good position for a warm up ball. After Johnny Giavotella finished warming up, he fired this my way:
It was a relief to be on the board.
As the game was starting, I found a spot behind the Halo’s dugout:
Great position for a third out ball.
After a few innings without coming close to a snag, I headed over to my seat for a few innings.
After a few innings there, I headed back to the 1st base dugout. Most of the seats were filled, so it was hard to find a spot on an aisle near the field, so I had a hard time coming close to any.
Don’t let the meek attendance of about 18,000 mislead you…… It was packed by the dugouts.
Eventually, I switched to the home plate side of the dugout. That didn’t work out either, although, I did get a nice view of the game.
Around the 7th inning, I headed out to the outfield, to try my luck there, and talk a bit with Zack.
After that, I headed to get a spot by the umpire tunnel. It was also crowded back there, so it was difficult to get in good position:
After the Angels were retired in the top of the 9th to end the game, I scrambled to get near the umpire tunnel, but Home Plate umpire Marcus Pattillo didn’t toss any balls out.
Considering it’s December, and I don’t recall many of the exact details, check out Zack’s account of the game on his blog.
1 Ball at this game
13 this season ( )
White Sox: 3
Big Cat: 1
(The others don’t have/keep up mygameballs.com accounts, so I have no way of knowing how many they snagged)
A few weeks before this game, I saw it on the schedule, and really wanted to avoid it. It was a recipe for a ballhawking disaster. First off, the Yankees were in town. Yankees fans travel extremely well, and sometimes sell out their weekend away games. Second, it was a Sunday day game. Not only that, but there was a night game the day before, which means no BP.
But, at this point in the season we had gone to very few games, and I wanted to go to some more.
So, when the day came, we decided to go. We stayed in the south Suburbs the night before to visit some family, so we had a fairly easy commute to the ballpark.
We pulled into the parking lot at about 10am, so we could buy our tickets on the 100 level before they sold out, but when we got to the box office, it was too late. All the 100 level tickets were sold out. Great start to the day. After we bought our tickets, we hoped in line, pretty close to the front.
We waited until 11, when the gates opened, a half hour earlier than normal. I guess the White Sox anticipated the large crowds as well.
When we got into the stadium we had to walk all the way up to the 500 level. Once we got up there, Nick and I walked around for a bit, but then headed to our short cut to the 100 level.
That was easy.
As soon as we got down there, Jack and I headed over to the Yankees side. There weren’t any players out warming up, but we already had our eyes on the prize:
Sooner or later, some Yankees pitchers came out to toss.
The night before, I did some homework on the Yankees’ roster and took screenshots of their bullpen pitchers and coaches’ pictures, and put them in a folder on my phone.
So, when Chasen (pronounced Jason) Shreve finished throwing, I called out his name, and he tossed me this:
It was good to be on the board early.
(Yes, the kid in the picture got a ball after I told him the Yankees’ bullpen coaches name, in case you were wondering)
I also got a selfie with Chasen:
I like to get pictures rather than autographs from players. If a real good player is signing, I’ll definitely try to get one from him, but for some players I just don’t know what I would do with the autograph. A picture helps me remember the experience better, and holds more personal value to me (Unless, it’s a superstar).
Jack and I then headed to the White Sox side to try our luck, but there wasn’t much action. At that point, I left Jack with Nick, and went to meet my mom, after she snuck down too (Good job, mom!).
After walking around for a while, and showing my mom some places to sit in the concourse, (since there were almost literally no empty seats on the 100 level) I got back into the ballhawking action, and tried for some Yankees’ warm up balls. All the seats from the end of the Yankees’ dugout to shallow right field were packed, in anticipation of A-Rod signing autographs, which made things pretty difficult for me:
As you could’ve guessed, I came up empty.
So, I found a seat behind the Yankees dugout to try for some third out balls:
Beautiful day for a ballgame, right? Don’t let the cloudless sky fool you. It was hot as blazes. The temperature reached 100 degrees at about the 3rd inning. And then, a few innings later, this happened:
The clouds started to roll in, and it started to rain. Not too hard, but hard enough to make people retreat to the concourses, which meant more room behind the dugout for me to work with.
But, of course, I came up short.
In the 6th inning, I decided to switch to my favorite spot in the whole stadium, the home plate side of the dugout, and try for strikeout 3rd-out balls.
I had some better luck there.
In the bottom of the 6th, when a White Sox player struck out to end the inning, I asked Yankees’ catcher Brian McCann for the ball and……
Game ball #2 this season. Thankfully, this time there were no screaming mothers.
As the game went on, the seats emptied out, as it wasn’t a very close contest. The Yanks won 12-3.
In the middle of the 8th inning I went to get Jack, and get into position for umpire balls.
When the 9th inning rolled around we were in perfect position:
When the game ended, home plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed this up to me:
I also got a ball from Hamari on 5/24 at the Cell.
Shortly after this, we headed for the exits.
I thought it was a pretty good day, considering that this was the largest crowd we had seen all season, and there was no BP.
On our way out of the stadium we could hear Yankees fans yelling “WE F***ING WON”. Classic.
3 balls at this game
12 this season
2 more blog posts to catch up on!
If you are looking for more posts like this to read this off season, check out Cole Adkins’ blog. He is a fellow ballhawk from Cincinnati.
Bonjour lecteurs! Merci pour la lecture. Vive les Expos!
Considering Canada’s language equality laws, I figured it would only be right to start out with some French.
We pulled into Toronto at around 3:30 on Saturday and checked into our hotel, the Renaissance Inn at Rogers Centre. After we unloaded our car and checked in, our room wasn’t ready yet, so we grabbed some lunch with a view:
After we finished lunch, and got unpacked in our room, we headed out to do some adventuring. The Pan-American games were in town, so there was a lot to do, and lots of people there.
We headed down by the lake, and walked around in an international market, with all sorts of stuff from different places.
I didn’t get many pictures, except me holding the top of the CN Tower:
After we were done exploring some other areas, we started back to our hotel. When we got back to the “SkyDome” we got this picture, celebrating my 10th MLB stadium visited:
Fast forward to Sunday morning
We woke up around 6:30 to grab some breakfast at the hotel with a relative who lives in the Toronto area. Again, we had a pretty nice view of the stadium, only this time they were prepping the field for game time. We saw the grounds crew setting up the BP cage, which was re-assuring, even though we were pretty sure there was going to be BP, considering Saturday’s game was also a 1:10 start.
We stayed at breakfast until around 8 or so, and then my Dad and I headed down to the box office to buy our tickets, which were in the 200 level in the Left field.
After we bought our tickets, we headed up to our room for a bit, to pack our bags for the game.
At about 10:30, Nick, Jack, and I got going towards the gates. One of the perks of going to a weekend game in Toronto is that the gates open two hours early, opposed to an hour and a half early on weekdays. But, unfortunately, it was a giveaway game (Blue Jays mittens, to go with the theme of winter in July), so there was quite the crowd waiting for us at the gates:
But, luckily, the line moved pretty quickly once they started letting people in the stadium. Our gate put us on the 200 level, so when Jack and I first saw the field, we were in the second deck. Thinking we would have better shots at homers and toss ups on the 100 level, we headed down. Here’s where I started out:
As soon as I got there, I noticed a few things that were going to restrict me ballhawking wise.
First off, the floors were extremely slick. If I were to run full speed after a homer, my feet would fall out from underneath me, and I would probably hurt myself. I think what caused this was that the Jays cleaned out the seats by spraying all the rows out with a hose. While this was happening, the roof was closed, therefore, the water couldn’t evaporate, leaving the floors extremely slippery by the time the roof was opened the next morning. Certainly less than ideal.
Secondly, there was a cement barrier separating the seats in straight-away left field from the seats in left-center, so I was forced to choose between the two. Lots of homers were hit near the barrier, making it difficult to choose a side.
Also, due to the giveaway, BP was pretty crowded, making it hard to maneuver the seats.
During Jays BP, I stayed on the Left field side of the barrier most of the time.
As soon as the Jays big hitters, such as Josh Donaldson, and Jose Bautista, came up to take their cuts, I regretted coming down from the 200 level. The seats were getting pelted with homers, and most of them bounced back, meaning their weren’t many people up there to catch them. If I was up there I could’ve had a few of them. What was I thinking?
When the Jays finished, I still wasn’t on the board.
Before the Rays hitters began swinging, Jack and I headed over to right to try for some toss ups from Tampa Bay pitchers. But, we were unsuccessful. We stayed in right for a few minutes of the first group, but then headed back over to left after realizing the Rays didn’t have much left-handed power.
It didn’t take very long for me to figure out that the Rays didn’t have much power at all. I also wasn’t having the best time getting toss ups. I called out coaches and players names, but no dice. They either tossed it to someone else in my general vicinity, or didn’t toss it up at all.
Here I am, probably very frustrated, waiting for something to happen:
I am in the orange. Jack is in the Navy-Blue Evan Longoria shirsey in the front row.
Rays BP ended strangely early. After they left the field, the cages sat there for about another half hour.
I made my way down to the first base line to try for a Rays warm up ball.
After about a half hour, they came out to warm up. Tim Beckham was signing some autographs, so I got a selfie with him:
Shortly after that, some Rays infielders came out to throw, including Jake Elmore, who was in front of the dugout, so I positioned myself by him.
As soon as he finished, I called his name, and he looked at me, but kept looking for another Rays fan, but he couldn’t find any. So, I called his name again, and he said “I already gave you one earlier!”. That took me by surprise. Never had a player call me out like that before.
I said “No you didn’t!”, then he responded “How many do you have today?”.
That was strange, it’s like he knew I was a ballhawk.
I made a zero sign with my hand, and he tossed it to me.
Interesting experience. But, he was nice about it, and kinda had a grin on his face the whole time. Fun stuff.
After the anthems were sung, I headed up to our seats, but not before grabbing some food:
Spicy nachos. They were delicious.
Here was the view from our seats:
During the game, the atmosphere was really good. The fans were very emotionally invested in the game. It was a refreshing change from Detroit. My favorite part might have been the hockey goal horn they play when the Jays hit homers. Nice touch.
In about the 8th inning we headed down to the 100 level to get behind the Rays dugout for umpire balls.
On the way down I got some pictures of some of the “Winter in July” stuff.
Other than the Igloo, they had an “Ice rink” that kids were actually skating on, and some hockey nets, because what’s Canada without a little hockey?
Before the top of the 9th we snuck behind the Rays dugout to get in position for an umpire ball.
As soon as the game ended, I got in great position, and…………
Got the only ball that the Home Plate umpire tossed out.
Shortly after that, Jack snagged two baseballs at once, after the Rays bullpen coach tossed him two balls out of the bag.
I got my picture taken with my baseballs:
And then we left.
After the game, we took the short walk around the stadium to get back to our hotel. When we got back, we moved our stuff into a room with this view:
Not too bad!
Later that night, we headed to the top of the CN tower, and got some amazing views of Toronto:
Not to mention an aerial view of the Rogers Centre
Pretty Good day in the 6.
2 balls at this game
13 this season
10/30 ballparks visited
We started our first full day of our road trip at the Motown museum for a 11:20 tour. After that wrapped up around 12:40 we headed over to the ballpark for a 1pm tour. The drive took about 15 minutes. We had a hard time finding our way around some strange construction zones, but we made it there just in time. We bought our tickets, and then walked into a gate where the luxury box ticket holders enter, where the tour started.
I saw a cool desk made out of bats: At about 1:10 we headed onto the concourse, and the tour started. The tour guide took us around and showed us the major stuff on the concourse such as the Ferris wheel, and the Ernie Harwell statue. From the concourse we could see that the Tigers were taking early BP: Keep that in mind for later…. We then headed up to the press box!
This was the view that the writers have for games at Comerica: After that, we headed into the champion’s club Where we saw Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown award, and Justin Verlander’s Cy Young award. After we finished walking around the press/luxury level, we headed back down to seats behind the dugout. This is as close as we got: The tour guide talked to us about the dugout seats, and gave us some strange (False) information like “Every team has their own Jackie Robinson day, all the teams don’t celebrate on the same day” (For my readers who aren’t familiar with this, every team celebrates Jackie Robinson on the same day, usually sometime in April), and “Most home teams don’t have their dugout on the third base side” (they do).
We then proceeded to the outfield, right by the statues, where we were spotted by Tigers 1st base coach Omar Visquel, who was in the outfield shagging BP balls. Once he got a ball, he chucked it up to us, but it fell short into the bleachers below. Had he thrown it a bit higher, I could’ve caught it. When the tour guide wasn’t looking, a kid, who was probably around 9, snuck down into the bleachers, and picked up a few home run balls. Nick and Jack followed suit, and they both got one. By the time I started to go down there, the tour started moving again, so I couldn’t get any. Our guide then showed us to the center field camera platform: There, the other kid got another ball tossed up to him. Shortly after that our tour ended, and so did Tigers’ early BP. When our tour guide walked away, I ran down into the right field seats to see if there were any home run balls, but there weren’t. I think some stadium employee picked them up.
After we left the park, we headed to our hotel at Renaissance Center. When we first got there our room wasn’t ready, so we grabbed a bite to eat at the restaurant in the hotel lobby. When our room was ready we headed up, unpacked, and then watched some British Open golf until we were ready to head back to the park for a 5:30 gate opening time. (Yeah, I watch golf sometimes. It was actually getting really intense and addicting to watch). This was the view from our room on the 62nd floor: You can’t see it in this picture, but if you really pressed up against the glass and looked to the left you could see some of the ballpark and Ford Field. Off to the right is the Detroit river, and out in the distance on the river is Belle Isle. Even further to the right, but not visible in the picture, is Canada.
After we were done resting at about 5:00, we headed down to the People Mover station (Basically Detroit’s version of a subway, only all above ground) right outside our hotel. After we got on, the ride to the park took about 15 or 20 minutes, and then we walked five minutes to the park, from the station. When we got into the stadium after having our bags checked and our tickets scanned, we headed to left field. The Orioles’ first group had just wrapped up.
I misplayed the second group terribly.
Adam Jones and Manny Machado kept hitting homers everywhere I wasn’t. I would run over a section, they would hit it to the section I was in before. They hit tons over my head as well. It was frustrating.
But, what was even more frustrating was the bullpen set up.
As you would expect, tons of baseballs landed in there. Some I were perfectly lined up with, and they fell right into the bullpen.
So, as the balls piled up, an unidentified Orioles player/coach came into the ‘pen and tossed up the balls.
After I saw this I got into position right in front of a ball when he was walking into the O’s bullpen, and when he came to pick it up, he tossed it to me:
As the unidentified O was walking out of the bullpen I snapped some pictures and then took to Twitter for help identifying him.
He was quickly identified as Jett Ruiz by Baltimore ballhawks Grant Edrington and Tim Anderson.
Shortly after that ball was tossed to me, BP ended.
Jack and I headed behind the Orioles dugout to get a Manny Machado or Adam Jones warm up ball.
After waiting for a while for the players to come out, they started playing catch right in front of the dugout, as usual, as I expected. So, when Machado finished playing catch I was in perfect position for it. I was literally the only one going for it……… Until Nick came running in from sections away. Manny literally couldn’t decide who to throw it to. But, of course, he threw it to Nick, who told me before the players came out that “Nobody was going to warm up where you are”. I am 100% sure I would’ve got it. Ugh.
After that, I was pretty fed up with this game, so I headed up to our seats to watch the game for a while. This was the view:
Not a terrible view for upper deck seats that are quite a distance from home plate.
The Tigers pulled out to a pretty good lead in the early innings, and they never looked back.
For the second game in a row, we saw poor Chris Davis get absolutely robbed of a home run. This time by JD Martinez. On the 5th at US Cellular field, we saw this play unfold. Crazy stuff. Sorry for being bad luck, Chris.
We watched the game until the 8th inning, then we headed down to try for umpire balls. (My phone was dead at this point so I couldn’t take pictures).
We snuck down to the cross aisle, waited until there were two outs in the top of the 9th, then we sprinted to the top of the umpire tunnel behind home plate to get into perfect position. When the game ended, the umpire handed two balls to little kids at right behind the net, and he ran out by the time he got to us.
After that we found a spot behind the Tigers dugout to watch the postgame fireworks:
Overall, I liked Comerica Park. It was a really nice looking ballpark, from that standpoint, it was one of the best we’ve visited so far. Other than that, it was below average. There wasn’t much atmosphere to the park. It didn’t help that there wasn’t an organ. Why there wouldn’t be an organ at a baseball stadium is beyond me. Ballhawking was really bad. Food was nothing special. But, it was a good experience, and it was good to check another ballpark off the list.
(the lights in the background are the lights shining on the outfield of the stadium)
1 ball at this game
7 balls this game
9/30 ballparks visited
- Mom and Dad
- Jett Ruiz
- Tim Anderson and Grant Edrington for helping me ID Jett Ruiz
- You! The Reader! For reading this!
The day got off to a really quick start. We got to the stadium about an hour before the gates opened, and we were the first ones in line.
Nothing but open concourses ahead of us.
At about 11:20 or so, security officers and ushers started setting up.
And at 11:40, our tickets were scanned, our bags were checked, and it was full speed ahead.
As soon as I got to the Left Field bleachers it was only this one other kid a little younger than me and I for about 5 minutes. He had already snagged one.
After about one minute, a Oriole hitter smacked a BP homer in our direction. I lined myself up with it, and boxed out the other kid, reached up, and made the catch. It had just enough to get over the fence, so I had to lean over the wall just a little bit.
I believe it was off the bat off Matt Weiters.
Long story short, I didn’t get anything else the rest of BP. It was pretty crowded. I got close to quite a few, but couldn’t get my hands on another one. It also didn’t help that the players were very stingy when it came to toss ups.
Anyways, after BP ended I headed over to the Orioles dugout to get into position for a Manny Machado or Adam Jones warm up ball.
After a while, they came out to play catch. After they were done, Machado started scanning the crowd for someone to toss it to. I believe he saw a little kid who was standing right in front of me, pointed, and waved us closer. I wasn’t exactly sure if he was pointing at me or the little kid. I still have no clue. The kid couldn’t have been older than 5.
Before we could get any closer, he bounced it off the dugout roof. Since the kid was in front of me, I let him have a shot at catching it, but, as I expected, he didn’t. So, the ball hit the ground, and I picked it up, and immediately handed it over to the kid.
Since I was the first person to gain possession of the ball, I counted it for my second ball of the day.
Here’s where Nick, Jack, and I sat for the first inning of the game before heading to our actual seats shortly after:
Here was the view from our actual seats:
We sat there for a few innings and just watched the game. It was pretty close for the first few innings, but that would change later in the game… (Spoiler: The Birds would win 9 to 1)
After about the 5th inning, Nick and I went over behind the O’s dugout to try to go for third out balls. We got there for the start of the bottom half of the 5th. There weren’t many open seats, so I grabbed an open aisle seat about 15 rows up. The half inning ended with a ground out to first baseman Steve Pierce. After Pierce stepped on the bag for the third out, I started to quickly climb down the stairs towards the dugout, but then, he flung the ball RIGHT TO THE ROW I WAS. I jumped, but the ball went right over my glove. If I hadn’t moved, It would’ve been an easy catch.
After that, I had enough with third out balls, so I headed over to the home plate side of the dugout, right by the on-deck circle to try and get some foul balls from the ball boy, or the people on deck.
In the 6th inning, I found a seat here:
Almost everyone around me had a ball. Even some adults. And tons of kids.
It was perfect.
After the O’s batted around in the top of the 7th, lots of people left, and I moved down another row.
So, in the bottom half of the inning, when Alexi Ramirez took a pitch in the dirt, and the catcher let it go, the bat boy went and got the ball, and tossed it right to me.
Easiest catch ever. No competition at all. All I had to do was stand up.
Or so I thought……….
As soon as I caught the ball, I heard “OH COME ON” from a few rows behind me. A random woman was yelling at me. I was shocked.
“THESE AREN’T EVEN YOUR SEATS” she yelled.
Another lady joined in: “THAT KID DOWN THERE IN THE FRONT ROW HAS BEEN TRYING THE WHOLE GAME”
Well, that kid had no glove, and didn’t even stand up to try for the ball.
The yelling continued: “YOU BETTER GIVE THAT KID THE BALL”
So, I said “Fine, fine, calm down. Let me take a picture of it and then I’ll give it to him”
(It wasn’t the kid in the blue. It was a kid sitting next to the grey haired man 3 rows in front of me)
I walked down the aisle, and handed the kid the ball. I was thanked by his dad.
When I went back up to my seat, the second lady who yelled at me (I think it was the kid’s mom) said “Here’s your tip” and tried to hand me 10 bucks. I said “No, I can’t take this”.
After that, she was determined to get me another ball. She even went and talked to the bat boy.
When the 9th inning rolled around, I decided to try for another game ball instead of an umpire ball.
Turned out to be a bad decision, as I didn’t get another ball.
The whole situation was very uncomfortable. I should have felt a little bit good about giving the kid the ball, but I didn’t in the slightest bit. I was forced into it, and it just didn’t feel right. And I really wanted that ball. Who wouldn’t want a game ball? It just stunk, and kind of put a damper on a good day at the park.
I just felt angry at the people who were yelling at me. The one kept talking about it to other people for the rest of the game. She was saying stuff like “Look at that kid down there. He got a ball so I yelled at him to give it to a little kid”. She was acting like she was the hero. It was no fun.
3 balls at this game
6 this season
- Mom and Dad
- Manny Machado
- Nice people who we talked to at the gates.
About a week before this game, I saw it on the schedule, and I wanted to go. The Twins are a pretty solid ballhawking team, and I would have another opportunity to promote the Vote Plouffe movement. So, we decided to go.
I set a lofty ballhawking goal for myself before the game: 5 balls. I knew it was pretty far-fetched, especially at a stadium like Miller. So, this would require me to try for balls the whole game without taking a break. Plus, I also knew this might be our last game before our trip to Detroit and Toronto after the all star break.
We got to the stadium about 10 minutes before the gates opened, so as soon as we parked, Nick, Jack, and I sprinted to the gates.
After we had our tickets scanned and received our free Johnathan “Luuuuuuuucroy” t-shirts Jack and I went up to the second deck in left.
After consulting fellow ballhawks Tony Voda and Nate Duppler and gathering some info on Twins BP, I put together some detailed notes, so I was really ready for my first BP of the season.
The first group of Twins BP had just ended when we got in the bleachers. The second group included T-Plouffe, who was a solid BP hitter.
Shortly after Plouffe hit one all the way up to the concourse, a different Twins hitter smacked one to left center field right by the Brewers bullpen, where relief pitcher Aaron Thompson picked it up. When I saw the ball hit there, Josh Schenk and I raced over to the end of the bleachers and called out his name, so he chucked it up in our direction. Since I had the better position, I caught it, right in front of his glove.
I was glad to be on the board, but I still wanted to finish with at least 2 in BP. After I couldn’t get my hands on a Plouffe Homer (Or, Splash Plouffe, as Tony calls them), Jake Starck, Josh, Jack, and I headed over to right, anticipating some home runs from the switch, power hitting Kennys Vargas.
Since the Brewers’ starter, Kyle Lohse was right handed, we figured he would be taking most of his BP cuts left handed.
We were wrong.
The one left handed home run he hit was right at Jake, for an easy catch for him. Most of his other swings were from the right handed side of the plate, so we stood and watched helplessly as he hit absolute bombs to the left field bleachers. He probably hit about eight to ten. I probably would’ve snagged around two of them.
Lesson learned: Check the lineup! (Vargas was not starting, and did not appear in the game).
Shortly after that, BP ended (pretty early), and Jake, Nick, and I met up and took our time heading over to the third base side to try and get Plouffe to see my sign.
But unfortunately, we got kicked out of the section by an usher before any Twins players even came you of the dugout. Apparently, the autograph dealers ruined it for everyone by knocking over people and kids, and knocking people over with their backpacks. It seems like Miller Park has gotten a whole lot more strict……
After that, we headed back to Toyota Territory, where we met up with Ballhawk Shawn. I asked them what the best way was to sneak into the “Foul ball seats” was in front of the press box. Jake said to put your glove away, and walk past the ushers like you own the place. So, I decided to give it a shot.
I walked up there, and I saw that the staircase to the main concourse/walkway in front of the press box (Where I snagged my first foul ball) was guarded by a few ushers. So, I walked over a few sections, and walked into a section where an usher was distracted, cut through two sections, and found this seat in the family section:
I was pretty happy with myself for sneaking in. It is one of the more difficult sections to sneak into. I was almost positive I was going to get a foul ball.
But, then the game started, and I realized I picked the wrong side of the section….Quite a few foul balls were hit to the other side, some of which I think I could’ve had.
Anyways, in the bottom of the second inning, Jake caught Scooter Gennett’s homer. As soon as I saw it was landing in Toyota territory I knew a hawk was going to snag it. Sure enough, I was right.
After about the sixth inning, I gave up on waiting for a foul ball to come my way, so I headed back out to the outfield to check in with the other hawks.
In the middle of the eighth inning Jack and I headed over to attempt to sneak behind the Twins dugout, and snag an umpire ball. So, we waited here for the inning to end:
Once the inning ended, we tried to sneak down there with a group, but the usher caught us. So, yet again, we failed to snag an umpire ball………
As we were walking away, these two ladies waved us over and gave us their tickets! It was perfect timing! We said thank you, then headed down and found a seat in good position by the umpire tunnel.
So, as soon as Shane Robinson grounded out to end the game, we climbed over a few rows, and got a spot right above the tunnel.
Right before Home Plate umpire Dan Iassogna walked into the tunnel, he tossed Jack and I balls.
Umpires have been very good to me. I’ve only gotten turned down by one once.
After that, we met up with our parents and Nick, and I had my picture taken with my sign:
And we headed home. Not a bad day at the park.
Note: I’m going to start doing this for every game I blog about. There are a lot of people I need to thank for making my experiences at the ballpark lots of fun. I’ll even list the people I don’t think will read the blog.
- My Parents. For taking us, and for just being great in general
- Shawn, Jake, Kenny, Josh. For giving me advice, and letting me raid their turf.
- Nate and Tony. For letting me interrogate you for information about the Twins
- Aaron Thompson
- The ladies who gave Jack and I their tickets. Wow. It might not have seemed like a big deal, but it sure was. Kindness goes a long way.
- Umpires. For tossing me balls all the time, and putting up with everything they go through day in and day out. Its a tough job.
2 balls this game
3 balls this season
36 balls lifetime
5 umpire balls lifetime
Ballhawk Kenny: 6
Jake Starck: 5
Ballhawk Shawn: 2
Josh Schenk: 1