7/17 at Comerica Park

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: IMG_2967 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. image1 (1) From the concourse we could see that the Tigers were taking early BP: image2 (1) 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: IMG_2972 After that, we headed into the champion’s club IMG_2976 Where we saw Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown award, and Justin Verlander’s Cy Young award. IMG_2977 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: IMG_2978 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: IMG_2980 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: IMG_2983You 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. IMG_2984 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. IMG_2987 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:

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As the unidentified O was walking out of the bullpen I snapped some pictures and then took to Twitter for help identifying him.

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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:

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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:

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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.

Stats

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(the lights in the background are the lights shining on the outfield of the stadium)

1 ball at this game

7 balls this game

40 lifetime

9/30 ballparks visited

Box score

Nick: 4

Me: 1

Jack: 1

Thank you’s

  • Mom and Dad
  • Jett Ruiz
  • Tim Anderson and Grant Edrington for helping me ID Jett Ruiz
  • You! The Reader! For reading this!

7/5 at US Cellular Field

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.

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Nothing but open concourses ahead of us.

At about 11:20 or so, security officers and ushers started setting up.

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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.

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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:

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Here was the view from our actual seats:

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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:

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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”

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(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.

Stats

3 balls at this game

6 this season

Box 

Me: 3

Jack: 2

Nick: 2

Thank you’s

  • Mom and Dad
  • Manny Machado
  • Nice people who we talked to at the gates.

6/26 at Miller Park

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.

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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.

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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. image3

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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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And we headed home. Not a bad day at the park.

Thank You: 

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.

Stats

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2 balls this game

3 balls this season

36 balls lifetime

5 umpire balls lifetime

Box Score

Ballhawk Kenny: 6

Jake Starck: 5

Ballhawk Shawn: 2

Me: 2

Josh Schenk: 1

Nick: 1

Jack: 1

5/24 @ US Cellular field

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.

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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.

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It’s Johnny Football, not Johnny Baseball, kid.

But, all my attempts failed.

So, I headed over behind the Twins dugout to get in position for a Third out ball.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…..

Stats

34 lifetime balls

1 on the season

Box Score

Me: 1

Nick: 1

9/28 @ US Cellular Field

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:

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But, as soon as we got in line, it got extremely long behind us. I guess we got there at the perfect time!

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When the gates opened we sprinted inside, rode up the escalator,

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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).

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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.

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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:

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And, just like that, the 2014 ballhawking season was over.

Stats

3 balls at this game

21 this season

33 career.

9/28 @ Miller Park

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:

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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.

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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).

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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:

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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.

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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:

IMG_1094.JPGAfter that, I headed back to my seat for a few innings, and watched the game up until about the 8th inning, which was when Jack and I headed down to field level to attempt to get an umpire 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!!!!

Stats

0 balls at this game

18 so far this season

30 lifetime

Box score

Nick: 1

Jack: 0

Me: 0

Jake: ?

Mike: ?

Shawn: ?

Kenny: ?

NOTE

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

9/7 at Wrigley Field

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. photo 1 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: photo 2 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. photo 4 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: image (61) 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: image (63) 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: IMG_1034.JPG 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.: Screenshot 2014-09-24 at 10.01.18 PM 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. Screenshot 2014-09-24 at 10.02.11 PM 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:

Screenshot 2014-09-24 at 9.edited

The guy in the gray is bending over to pick it up.

In this shot I am about to reach for the ball:

Screenshot 2014-09-24 at 9colehomeredited

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:

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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.

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Stats

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3 balls at this game

18 balls this season

30 balls lifetime

7-1 Cubs overall record when I am in attendance

Box Score

Erik: 5

Nick: 5

Jack: 4 (the Pirates love him)

Me: 3

8/17 @ U.S. Cellular Field

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:

photo (3) 

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. 

Thanks!

Sincerely, Ballhawks

 

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

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Waiting for the Blue Jays players to come out and warm up. After about a half hour a few players came out.

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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

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Big shoutout to Michael. I should have given him my blog address. Oh, and by the way, this was the crowd of Jays fans:

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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:

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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.

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In about the bottom of the eighth inning Colby and I headed behind home plate to get into position for an umpire ball.

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I noticed some scouts:

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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!

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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.

Stats

1 ball this game

15 this season

8 games this season

0 games without BP

Box Score

Nick: 2
Me: 1
Christian: 0
Colby: 0

7/25 @ Wrigley Field

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. 

photo (2)

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:

image (39) 

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):

image (40)

We stood here on Sheffield: 

image (41)

 

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:

image (42) 

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: 

image (43)

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.

image (45) 

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: 

image (46)

 

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.

image (47)

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:

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Classic.  

After that I headed up to my seat. Here was the view:

image (48)

 

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: 

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P1030580

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Stats

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

26 lifetime

Box score

Nick: 2

Dave: ?

Everyone else: 0 

 

7/11 @ Citizens Bank Park

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:

photo (1)

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:

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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’.

image (31)

See the guy in red, with the blue cap in the first row? That’s Harrison Tishler, a ballhawk my age. Go follow him on twitter (click his name), and he also has a blog.

Another ballhawk my age, Maddie Landis, was also at this game. You can follow her on twitter (Click her name), and go check out her blog.

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:

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(one is right behind the yellow thing). After a loooooooonnnnngggg wait, Jesus arrived:

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He entered the bullpen, grabbed one of the balls, and tossed it to………………….. You guessed it!!!

Not me.

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:

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Where I sat for a while, and then went down to field level to get this heavenly Philly cheesesteak:

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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:

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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.

Stats

1 ball

14 season

26 lifetime

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