Sarasota, Florida — home of old people and spring training. I was here for the latter…and some good weather. Philadelphia and Baltimore had been experiencing low temperatures for the longest time, and I was ready to get the hell out. Here’s the view over some part of Florida:
Once my Mom and I landed, my Dad (who was already in Florida for a business conference) picked us up from the Tampa Airport, where we drove an hour to Sarasota. Here’s the view from the condo:
And here’s the view from the condo with Manny Machado…
You’ll be seeing lots of these plush in this week’s posts, so let me explain a little. No, I am not a little kid who collects plush dolls. I would if it were socially acceptable, but it’s not…so the only way to get away with carrying around all of these plush…
…is to work…
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For this post, I’m doing two games in one. One was a night game while the other was a day game, so I figured I could morph them together. Here we go!
I came home from college on September 6th (Friday) to see home for a few days and go to some Orioles games. As soon as I got off the train at Penn Station, I went straight to Camden Yards, arriving there at around 3:30. I met up with Tim Anderson, and we entered Dempsey’s, a somewhat new restaurant and bar in the warehouse of Camden Yards. The restaurant is good and all, but it is really pricey. That wasn’t why we were there, though. So batting practice at OPACY starts around 4pm, sometimes earlier, but fans can only enter at 5pm. Recently, a few fans found a loophole – Dempsey’s. The restaurant has an outdoor patio area on Eutaw Street that features some chairs and space in which to manuever. Tim and I were planning on sitting out there and hopefully getting a few balls each from some lefties in the cage. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. Long story short, the hostess was being stubborn, claiming that she had no control of us hopping over the boundaries of the patio and going around the park. Bullshit. If a ball were to come towards us, we would leave the area for a few seconds and quickly come back. So instead of being in the patio, Tim and I sat behind this window waiting for balls to come:
Sadly, nothing came our way. Had the hostess been nice and let us stand on the patio, we could’ve gotten one or two each. That wasn’t the case. When 5pm hit, Tim and I sprinted to the LF seats. I found this sitting in the first row of section 82:
Sweet! Meanwhile, the Orioles weren’t hitting many into the stands. Here are some pitchers milling about as usual:
During the final group of Orioles BP, I hung out on the flag court and in Center Field for some power lefties. Nothing came near me, sadly, but I got this toss-up from Kevin Gausman. I was in RCF next to the flag court when I saw Kevin Gausman field a ball and hold onto it. A minute later, BP ended, and he looked towards the stands, where I was waving my glove. Here is the result:
Thank you Kevin Gausman! The White Sox took the field soon after and put on a poor display of hitting. Only a handful of baseballs reached the LF seats, and the seats were crowded which made matters worse. For the last group, I ran back to the flag court with hopes of at least one more ball. In the group, there were several lefties, but only one was reaching the flag court. Towards the end of the group session, this unknown WSox hitter hit a shallow homer to the front-left corner of the flag court. As usual, nobody noticed the ball except for Alex, Tim, and I. I had the best jump, and because of my small stature, I squeezed through some people and caught the ball on the fly seconds before it drilled a girl in the face. By the way, this girl was really good looking, so I felt even better about the catch. After I caught it in front of her, she and her boyfriend were shocked and basically just stood there with their mouths wide open. Here is the ball (which has an odd scratch on it):
After catching ball #96, I tried my luck by the Orioles bullpen. Scott McGregor didn’t hook me up, so I went to my usual spot for the game-
Although Chris Davis hit #48 during the game, it was so far down the foul pole that I had no chance of getting it. Damn. Here are the three balls together that I snagged on the Friday night game:
The next game(on Saturday) was, unfortunately, changed to 1PM, so batting practice was probably going to be a ‘no.’ However, I was wrong! After getting a text from MASN that Adam Jones was going to be taking pictures with the first 75 fans in the stadium, I quickly got my Mom to drive me downtown to the park. Luckily, Tim had received the text as well and already had a spot in line. I met him there and found out that the batting cage was up. The Orioles weren’t going to hit, but the White Sox were. Awesome! This was really rare. As we waited in line anxiously for Jones to arrive, the White Sox started hitting, so Tim and I ditched the photo opportunity. The White Sox hit a handful of balls into the stands. Tim ended up with two balls, and I got a toss-up from Matt Lindstrom. I could’ve snagged two hit balls or more, but I misjudged everything that came my way. It was just a bad day, I guess. Back to the Adam Jones picture. One of the groups had two lefties in it, so when they came up, I ran to the bullpen area, showed my pass for the picture, and got in the short line. I got my picture with Jones and talked to him for a bit about some stuff, then went back to the bleachers. For some reason, the picture hasn’t been uploaded onto facebook yet. Either MASN is lazy as hell, or I’m looking at the wrong facebook page. Oh, here’s the Lindstrom ball:
And here’s what the bleachers looked like for the majority of BP:
Before the game started, I almost got a ball from catcher Chris Snyder, but someone else asked first. Chris was cool about it, though. At least he didn’t ignore me. During the game, surprisingly, Alex and I sat in LF with Tim. I was pretty close to the foul pole, and Tim and Alex were a section over:
I came close to a foul ball ripped down the line as well as a Brian Roberts homerun that Alex ended up getting. Basically, Roberts hit one to the 6th or 7th row of Alex and Tim’s section. I ran across my row of seats to get over there, but the ball had already bounced and trickled down into a row into which Alex had moved. Cool fact – Alex ended up snagging an Adam Jones HR (cup trick) and caught an Adam Dunn homer on the fly on Eutaw street the day after. That’s three homers in two days. This is called craziness, ladies and gentlemen. In the 10th inning of this day game, I was in the flag court, where Conor Gillaspie hit a towering homerun. You can watch the video here…
…while I explain it. Both Tim Anderson and I had a great read on the ball. He was a bit quicker over to it than I was, but we both had it lined up perfectly…until it entered the sun. Both of us immediately lost it until the last second when it fell, hit a wall, and bounced back onto the field. Tim and I were beyond pissed. If it were a night game, one of us would’ve definitely caught it easily. Oh well. Next post will be my game at CBP on 9.10.13. Stay tuned!
4 balls snagged at these 2 games. 97 overall, 87 in 2013.
Just a heads up with this post – pictures are sparse because I honestly didn’t have much time to take pictures of everything. It was hectic. However, I took a few pics of some of the baseballs on the subway.
This was my second game ever at Citizens Bank Park. The first was on 9.2.13, which was pretty lame. The train that I was taking to the park broke down, delaying me about an hour. I saw about 10 minutes of Phillies BP, and the Nationals didn’t even take BP. However, I watched a good game with some new friends from college, which was nice. Speaking of the Nationals, this team is the main reason why I came to the game. I was originally planning on going only on Monday, but after realizing that the Nationals had TONS of AWESOME commemorative baseballs, I had to go a second day and press my luck! My last class let out at 12:45, so I did some homework for an hour or two then hopped on some trains and got to CBP around 4:10PM. To be honest, CBP is a pretty good looking park. It’s in a cool area, has great views, and the staff is very friendly. The fans…not so much. I’ll get into that later. Here’s a pic of the stadium from the outside:
And here’s one right outside of the LF gates:
I would’ve walked around the stadium more and taken pictures of different parts, but I was already familiar with the park from the previous night and I didn’t have much time to wander around. When I arrived at the LF gates – also called Ashburn Alley – I saw a familiar face. Rick Gold. I don’t have a picture because I didn’t want to be creepy or anything, but we just talked for a bit. I don’t know Rick too well, but we’ve bumped into eachother enough over the past year that we know eachother a bit. In case you couldn’t assume this, Rick also came down to Philly in search of some Nats commemoratives – specifically the 2009 AllStar Game ball. After we talked for a bit, the gates opened up, and Rick and I sprinted to LF with no competition. And when I say no competition, I mean it. There were probably about 20 people in total at the gates, but a handful had gloves. Here is a pic of the LF area when I got in:
After glancing in the flower pots and the first row, I saw nothing. However, within the first minute in the first row, I heard a loud crack and could’nt help but turn my head to the sky to see a ball coming towards me. I moved over quickly a few feet to my left and had my first ball of the day. Here it is (taken on the subway):
A few minutes later, another unknown Philly from the first group hit one out, which I also caught on the fly. At this point, I was pretty damn happy. 2 balls in 5 minutes is pretty good for me. I usually get 2 balls in 30 minutes at Camden Yards (mainly becaues of competition). My third ball of the day came soon after when Cameron Rupp tossed one into the stands. I don’t think it was to anyone in particular, but it sailed pretty far, and I picked it up. My fourth ball came from Kevin Frandsen of the Phillies. I forget exactly what happened, but I think it bounced off some seats and I picked it up. Like I said earlier, the day was pretty hectic. Not long after the Frandsen ball, I noticed a ball roll towards the LF wall near me. As I saw Cliff Lee walking towards, I decided I’d try my luck on it. I’m not usually a toss-up kind of guy unless I’m really needing a ball, so I usually just wave my hands from afar. This time, as I walked up to the first row, about two other kids (about 15 years old) wandered up as well. One of them said, “Up here,” causing Cliff to look up. For some reason, he looked right at me with my glove and tossed it to me. The kid next to me lunged his hat trying to get it but fell short. He was pretty pissed. A good deal of time passed after the Cliff Lee toss-up until Darin Ruf stepped in the cage. He hit one at the end of my section which I read really well off the bat. I immediately started running across the section, paused, and caught it on the fly. This was the first time I made a really clean catch while running far, so I enjoyed it. Moments later, the Phillies returned to their dugout, and the Nationals took the field (WOOHOO!). Since the beginning of the day, I told myself that I would have no regrets during Nats BP considering that all of the balls were going to be special. Within the first two batters of the Nationals, I noticed that they were MUCH more powerful than the Phillies hitters. Rick got two 2009 AllStar balls in a few minutes, so he was pretty stoked. I moved back a few rows and chased a ball towards my left. It bounced off some seats and rolled down to my row, where I scuffled with a 60 year-old guy for it. All I remember was that some pushing and shoving occured, the ball rolled to my side because I kicked it, and I picked it up. I’ll have more on that story in a bit. Here’s what I saw:
AWESOME! After seeing that most of the hitters in the group were hitting more towards my left, I moved over a bit. Another ball came pretty close, but it was a shot. It was going towards the second deck but bounced off the bottom of it. I was camped under it and grabbed it with my barehand, nearly falling over. I’m probably making it seem more epic than it actually was, but it’s worth it because it was another 2009 AllStar ball, my 8th ball of the day. Although I really wanted something different, I was still happy. Beggars can’t be choosers, right? Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of this ball because I traded it away to a – surprise – nice Phillies fan who caught two World Series balls. At this time, some people were talking to me, asking how many I had gotten. Most were nice about it, but some were annoyed. About 10 minutes after the 8th ball, another came in my direction. I ran a section over and picked it up after it landed in a seat. I was bummed to see that it was a standard ball, but I was still happy. This happiness quickly faded when some trashy Philly fan started yelling at me because he had seen me get a lot of balls. He was basically complaining about who-knows-what. I ignored him and put the ball in my bag, but it still pissed me off. Nothing makes me angrier than people who think that there should be a limit on the number of balls someone gets. After listening to this fool rant about stupid stuff, I ran over to RF because LaRoche and Harper were hitting. I came REALLY close to a LaRoche homerun on the fly, but an older guy beat me to it. If I were taller than 5′ 6 I would’ve caught it for sure. Werth stepped up to the plate and launched one to the far right section of RF, which was surprising. Thankfully, I was paying attention and ran over a section to get it. I had it read well, but I dropped it on the fly. It landed right next to me, so I picked it up easily afterwards. This was also a 2009 AllStar ball and my 10th of the day! Check it out:
I thought it was cool that both my 90th career ball and my first double-digit ball were commemoratives. The final group came up to bat for the Nats, so I ran back over to LF, which was fairly crowded at this point with dirtball Philly fans. By the way, if you’re from Philly and reading this, you’re probably not a dirtball. Only some are. Within a second of putting my bag down, some old dude ran up to me and started yelling. He was screaming at me, saying that I ran him over a few sections over. At first, I had no clue what he was talking about and thought he had the wrong guy. But then I remembered the guy I scuffled with. It was him! He had some drops of blood on his shirt and made a big deal of the whole event. People stared. It was pretty pathetic on his part. I tried to be as polite as I could and tell him that ‘running people over’ is never my intention when I go for baseballs. I’m not really sure how I could run over a 6′ grown man anyways. Last time I checked, I’m only 5’6 155 lbs. The math doesn’t add up! BP ended a little after, so I walked with Rick to get a free Carlos Ruiz bobblehead (it was an AtTheBallpark promotion). I’m not a Phillies fan, but here it is anyways:
Pretty cool, I guess. Because I hadn’t gotten my picture taken with any baseballs like I do at every park I go to, I got a nice usher to take this one:
I like it. I watched the first inning here…
…enjoyed some crab fries from Chickie&Petes (delicious), and then left. I couldn’t stay very long because I had to attend a tennis meeting back at college that night. I don’t like watching the Nats or Phillies anyways. I hate both teams and their fans. When I got back to my dorm, I took this picture celebrating my first double-digit game:
Notice the gross hat in the picture? I now call that my lucky, unwashed hat. I’ve never washed it and I wore it to both games where Alex caught the Davis homeruns, games where I’ve caught a lot of baseballs, and this game. The day before, I wore some UnderArmour hat on the subway and at the game, and my luck was horrific. Train problems and no Nats BP. But for this game, I wore the good ol’ 1954 hat and, well…my luck was pretty nice. So overall, my trip to CBP was eventful. I set a new record for myself, caught 3 commemorative baseballs, and caught 3 on the fly. Even though most fans at the park were complete and utter assholes, some were nice, such as an older man near me in LF who kept giving me high fives and complimenting me. Thanks, random old guy! For the grouchy old man who I made bleed, I’m sorry. You’re still an idiot. And to the man who got mad at me for picking a ball off a seat and said that I was treating BP as a game, you’re absolutely right. BP is a game, and it’s crazy fun. Bring a glove and you might have some for once in your life. I know I do.
10 balls at this game. 83 in 2013. 93 total. Next game is 9.7.13 at Camden Yards. See you then!
For all of those who read (or are visiting) my blog for this post, I’m sorry for not posting in ages. To be honest, I didn’t feel like taking pictures or writing anything for the past few games I’ve been to. Laziness. Stuff happens.
On a different note, this was game number two of a series of three against the Colorado Rockies. Friday’s game was pretty uneventful – I snagged three balls, none of which were very impressive. My main goal for this series was to snag a Rockies 20th Anniversary ball. I failed to do so Friday and had low expectations for today’s game considering that none of the Rockies players were using them during warm-ups. I knew this because I got a toss-up from John Herrera on Friday, and, although I was happy to get a ball, I was disappointed with the fact that the ball was normal. Sigh.
I arrived at the stadium at around 3:40 for this game, which is pretty early for me. I usually get to the gates around 4pm and wait around a bit, talking to friends or just fiddling on my phone. Because Eutaw street is open until 4pm for 7:05 games, I ran towards the flag court to see Chris Davis, Alexi Casilla, and Brian Roberts taking swings. Awesome. The only downside to watching BP from this view is that the flag court is closed. Standing on Eutaw Street waiting for balls is fun but is also difficult. It is tough to see the batter, the sun blocks the ball, and homeruns seldom reach Eutaw unless they slide through the openings in the gates. Luckily, that is exactly what happened with a Chris Davis homerun that I tracked well off the bat. I knew it wasn’t going to reach Eutaw without a bounce, so I backed up and hoped for the best. The ball slid through the gate and bounced toward the warehouse where I picked it up under a table. Clearly, I was really happy considering that I had already snagged a ball without normal BP taking place. Here is a picture of the ball. Check out the scuff from the ball bouncing off the concrete.
I almost forgot to mention that, earlier in the day, I drove to BARCS (animal shelter) with my Mom to buy an Orioles pet calender and get some autographs. Unfortunately, we were a bit too late to get Tillman, Weiters, and Chen, but we got Hardy, Patton, and McLouth. I was happy. Here is the front of the helmet; Hardy and Nate are on the brim, and Patton is on the side (you can’t see it).
After I left Eutaw Street at around 3:50 – security was dumb and didn’t let us stay for another ten minutes – I sat outside of the gate waiting for the others. 45 minutes later, the group and I were ready to enter. This group consisted of Mateo(fischerm), Garrett(garrett37), Tim(gu3), Avi, and me. I would have a picture, but none of us really wanted to do a picture. I also would have links, but wordpress is stupid and annoying. Deal with it. Minutes later, the gates opened, and I hurried to the LF gates. Sprinting down the stairs, I spotted two easter eggs. The embarrassing part about this was that as I was about to pick up the first ball, I nudged the chair, causing the ball to fall and roll down a few rows where Mateo picked it up. Your welcome, Mateo. I got the second ball, though…
…which I ended up giving to an usher friend named Tony. With high hopes for a lot of balls, I returned to my usual spot only to see the Orioles running towards the dugout – BP was over. This is what I saw…
…and I was pissed off. I had snagged two balls within the first minute of BP, and I probably could’ve gotten two more if the Orioles hit BP. To waste time, I ventured towards the Rockies dugout and watched them dick around…and stretch a bit. They started hitting about five minutes before the public is let in to the seating bowl, but nothing came my way besides a Tulo homerun to row 20. I think it’s safe to say that I was a bit in front of that ball. The second group had Helton and some other strong lefties, so I ran to the flag court with hopes of snagging at least one more ball for the day. During Helton’s second session of swings, a homer was launched towards the front-left section of the flag court near the foul pole. This was a towering shot, but I judged it well and caught it on the fly. A few minutes later, an unknown Rockies lefty hit a ball to the right side of the flag court. I judged it well, but Mateo was going to catch it until some jackass basically jumped on his back. The ball tipped off his glove, bounced, and I picked it up:
This jackass did this multiple times. Not only did he slam into Mateo twice, but also knocked Avi to the ground. It’s cool to compete for baseballs and all, but when it gets to the point where people are falling over and getting slammed into, you need to calm down. For the final group of Rockies BP, I ran back over to LF, where some pathetic batters were hitting. Knowing this, I stood in the third row and caught this:
A few minutes later, the Rockies returned to their dugout, and I headed over towards the Orioles bullpen. One ball was sitting in the grass, and Larry (a decent ballhawk) was *attempting* to reel it in with his contraption. Here’s a view of his device (which failed miserably):
Little did he know that a supervisor was watching him the whole time. Fans are only supposed to use devices in the CF gap, where ushers and security can’t see. If you try to reel in a ball in the bullpen or batter’s eye, you’re getting yelled at. While Larry was trying to snag the ball, pitching coach Scott McGregor walked over and saw what he was doing. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell that he thought Larry was an idiot. I asked Scott nicely for the ball, and he tossed it to me. I chose to give it to a kid in front of me who had been watching the ball for a while. I walked to the section next to the batter’s eye with hopes of getting Bud Norris’ warm-up ball or another ball laying in the grass, but I had no luck. Eventually, I got to my seat, where this was my view:
No homeruns came to the flag court, but I did get a free hot dog from Larry, who had a tray of them from Club Level. What a goon. All in all, the game was fun, and the Orioles won 8-4 due to a 7-run 3rd inning (thank God). My next game is Monday against the Rays. I’ll see you then!
76 balls overall, 66 this season.
This was going to be the second game of the Orioles-Rangers series. Once again, I arrived very early and was first in line. For some background info, for every game at Camden Yards, one of the ballhawks usually arrives really early to save a spot for the others. The normal fans don’t like it very much, but who cares. We go to almost every game and we love the team – we deserve it. Today’s crowd was going to big due to the t-shirt giveaway, which featured Nate McLouth as a ‘base bandit’. Pretty cool idea. Here’s the back of the shirt (the front is boring):
By 4pm, lines were already snaking around the gates. Tim Anderson arrived shortly after I did, and we talked a bit. We were both worried about the weather. The chance of rain was around 30%, and that slim chance came through. However, it was only drizzling for a little bit, which kept our hopes up. By 4:45, the sky was still cloudy, but the rain disappeared. The cage was out and music was playing, both of which were good signs of batting practice. The gates opened up at the usual 5pm, and I grabbed my t-shirt, fast-walking toward the RF gate leading towards the bleachers. As I was walking towards the gates, I saw that the Orioles were hitting – YES! I put my bag down on a seat and stuck my shirt in it. this was my view:
In case you can’t tell, Brady Anderson is one of the three guys in the bottom-right of the photo. He occasionally shags balls and hooks up some fans with souvenirs, which I find awesome. Today, he was positioning fans in the stands to help them get baseballs; it was pretty funny. He also did his best imitation of the classic fan begging for a ball. It was one of those ‘you-had-to-be-there kind of moments.’ He had most of the section laughing. I got my first ball off the bat of Manny Machado. It wasn’t very difficult to snag, as I moved up a row and a few steps towards my left to catch it on the fly. A few minutes later, I ran over to the flag court with Tim and Alex, as a few lefties stepped up to the cage. I don’t pay attention to whomever is at the cage, even though I should. I usually just wait for the other guys to leave and I follow them. Because of the giveaway, the crowds on Eutaw street were massive. Take a look:
Despite the amount of people chilling on the court, I stayed there. The flag court – on any day – is hands down my favorite place to snag a ball. You have infinite running room, no seats or railings in your way, and everyone is watching you. A couple minutes after arriving at the flag court, a semi-deep shot sailed towards the right side of the flag court. I dashed over there, and made a really nice catch on the fly. I noticed the ball was going to sail a bit over my head – I’m only 5’5 – so I jumped as high as I could and luckily made the snag. If you read yesterday’s you can see that I mentioned that random guy that snagged a ton of balls on the flag court. Yeah, he wasn’t there today, so let’s just say I had a bit more ‘luck’ in RF. About 5 minutes after snagging ball #2 of the day, I was chasing a deep homer that landed on Eutaw. As I was walking back to the flag area after missing the initial ball I was chasing, another ball landed a few feet in front of me, bouncing off a gate and rolling under a table right to me. That’s what I call luck. On a side note, this ball was my 30th ball I’ve snagged at Camden Yards…yay! Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the balls. I was really busy running around and didn’t have much time to document or take pictures. I was so flustered that I even put one of my balls in Alex’s backpack. To my defense, our bags are VERY similar. We both have Jansport bags, mine just has some brown on the bottom. And yes, I did get the ball back. I eventually ran back over to LF when some righties from the Rangers came up to bat. This was my view as the bleachers became a bit more crowded:
If you’re unfamiliar with Camden Yards, all fans are able to enter the seating bowl at 5:30. Only ticket holders can enter the bowl right when the gates open. Obviously, that picture was taken as fans were streaming into the stands. Even though my chances were slim, I snagged ball #4 when a homerun bounced off some hands and trickled a few rows down. Again, I got really lucky and happened to notice the ball on the ground in front of me. I went to RF a few minutes later and snagged my 5th and final ball of the day on the fly. A Rangers player hit a shallow homer to the front left of the flag court. Alex probably could’ve gotten it if he weren’t so far right on the court. I was basically waiting for it to bounce off of some hands – because it was so shallow – but no one went for it, so I sprinted at the last minute and caught it right before it hit the ground. I was really happy because that ball marked my best game so far ever as a ballhawk. I had never snagged five before. Some old man was cheering me on the whole time, too. He wanted me to protect him, haha. After hanging out at the Orioles bullpen for a bit waiting for a toss-up from Rick, I met my brother and my neighbor on the flag court. They were going to stand there for the night, so I left my bag with them. Here was their view…
…and here was mine when a lefty came up to bat:
The Orioles lost the game 8-4, mainly because of really poor pitching by Zach Britton and some bullpen guys. I’m hoping for a series split, but I don’t think it’ll happen. The Orioles need the All-Star Break now. Here is a picture of my five balls and the t-shirt I got at the game:
It’s safe to say I had a good day of ballhawking.
5 balls at this game. 33 balls in 2013, 43 overall…7 more until 50!
This was a hot and sunny day at good old Camden Yards. This was going to be the first of four games that the Orioles were playing for the Rangers, and I was excited to be back at Camden Yards. My last appearance at the park was June 16th, when I met Chris Davis with fellow Ballhawk Alex Kopp. Long story short, he caught Chris’ 100th career bomb, and both of us ventured down to the clubhouse to meet him and make an exchange for the ball. We took a picture, and Alex received a signed, game-used bat, and some signed baseballs. I had only been to 3 games since the 16th of June – one at PETCO and two at Nats Park – and I really missed Camden Yards. Snagging baseballs at those other parks was nice and all, but nothing beats the LF bleachers and the flag court at OPACY. Anyways, I got to the park really early and was first in line. Woo-hoo! Here’s a good view of the Eutaw street gates; I was happy to be back at my home park:
One thing that surprised me was that as 5pm approached, there was no sign of either Alex or Tim Anderson, who are usually at the gates by at least 4:45. As I entered the gates and the LF bleachers, there was still no sign of either of them. Turns out both had work and were running a bit late. That didn’t stop either of them, though; Tim snagged four and Alex did pretty well, too. Meanwhile, I had this great spot in the bleachers. For the Orioles portion of BP – which lasted only 10 minutes – the seats were empty:
I snagged my first ball on the fly in LF. Some Orioles player hit one deep a bit in front of me and towards my right, so I ran down a few rows and got it. Here’s a good look at the ball:
The Rangers soon took the field and started smashing balls. To be honest, both teams were killing it, but the Orioles only had a little bit of time on the field. Ball #2 was caught on the fly in the LF seats as well. Once again, I’m not sure who hit it, but it was towards my left, so I ran down a row and caught it in front of an older man without a glove. Here it is:
It was a beauty. As I was about to put it in my bag, the man who I reached in front of approached me and asked if he could see the ball; I showed it to him and started talking with him for a bit. He explained to me that he was out of town (from Boston) and that one of his relatives was an O’s player back in the day. During our chat, another ball came my way, and I snagged it easily on the fly. I forget where it was considering I was talking with the man before and after – oh well. After seeing me catch #38, the man asked if I could give his son the next ball I catch. I agreed, but I moved to the flag court as soon as some lefties on the rangers came to the cage. Here was the view from the flag court:
Unfortunately, I had no luck here. I had a couple of opportunities, but I misjudged a few balls, and some random guy snagged about four on the court. I walked over towards the first baseline after batting practice ended with hopes of getting some autographs or a warm-up ball. No luck, but here’s a shot of Manny Machado throwing:
Fun fact – I’ve snagged two warm-up balls from Manny, and I got them on two straight games. One on June 6th in Houston, and another on June 15th in Baltimore. I think it’s pretty cool. For the rest of the game I stood around here…
…and there were no homeruns. And the Orioles lost. And I took a long, crowded light rail home. But I snagged three balls, and I was happy because of that. Here’s a picture of the three I snagged:
3 balls snagged at this game, 28 in 2013, 38 all-time.
First off, I’m sorry for the small pictures. I’m still getting used to blogging on this site, and for some reason I can’t increase the size when I write on my computer. I can do it on my phone fine, but it’s a hassle to blog from my phone. If you can help me out, I would appreciate it!
The last time I visited Nationals Park was in 2008 with my dad and brother. As I browsed my summer schedule, I set aside July 2nd and July 3rd to revisit the park – this time with an interest in snagging baseballs. Knowing that the gates opened 2 1/2 hours before first pitch, I was eager to get on the road and reach the park. The day after returning from a week-long vacation in California during which I visited , I woke up late and met my friend Andrew at my house. After we played catch for a bit at a field by my house, we headed towards the metro station. A little side note about Andrew – this was the guy who introduced me to ballhawking. In the dark ages of Camden Yards, he snagged about 100 balls in one season while going to around 60 games. He’s an awesome guy and he’s always up for a baseball game with me. Anyways… although I was tired and still adjusting to the time-change of the East Coast, I was extremely excited to see Nats Park again. Sadly, as we reached the metro station, it started raining. This rain was still present as we reached the park, so we knew that batting practice was a negative. Sad face. This was my view at around 4pm:
Because of the rain, I browsed around the Nationals store for a bit. They had a pretty cool curly ‘W’ made of baseballs. Check it out:
Once the gates opened, I walked around aimlessly and settled next to the Nationals bullpen. A few catchers were messing around. They threw a ball to some random Nats fan, then to a little kid, and finally to Andrew. I probably could’ve/should’ve gotten one, but I wasn’t that interested in them, and I wasn’t saying much to them. Andrew, on the other hand, is really outgoing and the complete opposite of shy, so he is perfectly content with yelling and embarrassing himself. If only I had that quality, haha. Here are the two Nationals players. Anyone know who they are?
And here is Andrew with his ball…
Once the players went back into the locker room, I walked around some more until 5:30 – that’s when the main seating bowl opens. While sadly walking around, I took this picture of the tarp on the field. I was pretty bummed:
Once 5:30 hit, I ran over to the Brewers dugout with hopes of snagging a warm-up ball. But of course, not a single player came out to throw. A coach came out to sign a few autographs along with Martin Maldonado, the Brewers’ catcher. I was happy to get his autograph on one of the balls I snagged in Petco. He has a nice signature:
Until gametime, Andrew and I wandered around the third base side a bit more until some usher kicked us out at around 6:30. He was a really cool guy (sarcasm). On a happier note, ice cream was only $1 at the game, so I bought one real fast, and Andrew and I ventured towards the Brewers dugout. This was my view before gametime:
Willie Peralta was warming up with Marcus Hanel, and I really wanted to get one of their balls, but I had no luck. Andrew got another ball from Lee Tunnell, the Bullpen coach during warm-ups, so I waited a bit longer, watching Willie throw. This was my view:
Once he finished, I asked Marcus for one of his warm-up balls, but he said he couldn’t spare one. No hard feelings, though. He seemed like a really nice guy, and he definitely would’ve hooked me up if he had an extra. Meanwhile, I saw Lee toss up a few baseballs to some Brewers fans behind the bullpen. I knew he could probably hook me up with a ball, so after the national anthem, I stood up and asked him nicely for one, seeing that he had a ball in his hands. Right before the game started, he tossed one up my way – probably just to shut me up. Here it is:
And here’s Lee. He’s the older dude sitting down closest to me:
Pretty fan friendly guy. He gave out around 5 balls during the pitcher’s warm-up. After snagging the ball, I relaxed and watched the game. Surprisingly, the usher didn’t kick me and Andrew out. She saw us sit down and move around but never asked for a ticket. Awesome! This was my view for the first 8 innings:
To be honest, the game was pretty boring. The game was scoreless until the 8th inning, when the Brewers destroyed Drew Storen and scored 4 runs. Another side note about me – I hate the Nationals. I hate their fans, and I hate how they think they’re so good. They’re not good, and their fans are extremely fairweather. Just look at this herd of “Nats fans” fleeing the stadium after the top of the 8th.
I thought it was pretty funny how all of these “fans” had no hope in their team. At the bottom of the 8th, I moved here for the end of the game, trying to get a 3rd out ball but failing. This was where I was:
In the bottom of the 9th, K-Rod struggled to get his 3 outs, but he did it. I ran down a few rows, and waited for the players to return to the dugout, hoping for some toss-ups or autographs. No luck. However, I noticed the bullpen guys walking towards me; I knew they had some baseballs. When I saw Marcus Hanel throw his 2 warm-up balls to some fans deep down the third base line, I made one last desperate attempt when I saw Brandon Kintzler. I looked at him and made a throwing motion, basically a verbal motion asking, “any balls?”. That’s when he reached in his back pocket and tossed me a ball. It was so nonchalant and unexpected. Here’s where I was:
And there’s Andrew, who ended up getting 2 more baseballs. Oh, I almost forgot to mention…once we were about to head up the stairs and make our way out of the stadium, I saw some coach throw the lineup card onto the dugout and push it towards an older Brew fan. It was one of the big, incredibly awesome ones, and it was authenticated, too! So cool! The guy said it was his birthday, so I congratulated him and told him to frame it. I’ll be going for that souvenir tomorrow. At the top of the stairs, I reminded Andrew that we needed a picture of our baseballs together. I like getting pictures of me with my baseball(s) at the stadiums I visit, so we got some lady to take it. Andrew had 4 balls, and I had 2, and the lady quickly asked, “How did you get that many balls? My kids would kill for just one!” The next second, her two kids – probably in Elementary school – showed up and looked really pissed off that we had all those baseballs. I felt pretty bad. I was thinking in my head that we should’ve asked another person to take the picture. After she took the picture, which you can see now…
…Andrew gave the kids 3 of his baseballs. He’s not a big collector, he just does it for fun and then uses them when we play on fields and what not, so he was fine with doing it. It was funny how fast the kids’ faces changed from sad to happy. It was cool to see how a simple souvenir can change somebody’s day. We gave them high fives, and then left the stadium for the trip back to my house. Unfortunately, I found zero ticket stubs, which I was bummed about. Oh well, I’ll get some at the game on the 3rd. Here’s a picture I took back at my house of my 2 balls and autograph from Martin:
Not amazing, but pretty good for the lack of batting practice. I’m usually lucky to get one ball during a game without BP. Let’s hope for better weather for the 3rd!
2 balls at this game. 24 balls in 2013. 34 all time.
As my parents planned our summer trip to California earlier this year, they decided to buy tickets to a Padres game on the 25th against the Phillies. As soon as I heard this, I was pumped; I had never been to PETCO Park before. With my Dad being in Philly a week later for business, I got him to pick me up a Phillies shirt. Now trust me, I didn’t get a shirt for just one game. I’m going to college in Philly so I can use it when I go to some games at Citizens Bank Park in August and September. I still hate the Phillies, though. I’m gonna feel gross wearing wearing that shirt. Anyways, when the day of the game came, I arrived at PETCO at around 4pm and walked around for a bit, considering I had 30 minutes to spare until the park opened. I got this cool picture :
The park is in a great area. It’s positioned in the heart if the city with tons of buildings surrounding it. And it looks even better from inside of the park. You’ll see what I’m talking about later when I show you the panorama picture I took. After strolling around the park for a bit and taking everything in, I returned to the gates leading to the “Park at the Park,” an area behind the outfield that opens 2 1/2 hours prior to game time. Here they have games, food, a beach, and some seating for anyone who has a ticket. It’s like Eutaw street, but without the homeruns. Oh, they also have a cool mini field for whiffle ball that kids can play on. I didn’t get a picture of that for some reason. Once I walked through these gates …
… I arrived at the beach. The Padres were taking batting practice and, because all of the players had jackets on, I got zero toss-ups. Some players threw some balls to kids, but I didn’t want to get in their way and be a jerk. Speaking of jerks, if that Asian man who kept the ball that was a bit overthrown and caused 3 kids to eat it on the sand and pavement is reading this, you are a jerk. That is all. While on the beach, I took this pictures :
The guy in the picture is “padreleigh”. I’ve read a bit about him in blogs and he seems like a pretty cool guy. I didn’t talk to him though, unfortunately. He got a toss-up from some player – he knew EVERYBODY’S name, and it seemed that they all knew him. Pretty cool. Once 5:30 struck, I entered the LF seats, which were really crowded and obviously not meant for snagging baseballs. Like in Houston, a second deck was hovering over top of it and stopped many balls from falling, and the railings were a nightmare. There were very few gaps in the railings, and the railings themselves were impossible to go underneath. Now I realize why most of the season ticket holders went to RF – there was so much space over there! I would’ve ventured over there, but it would’ve taken me a while to reach those seats, and there was the possibility of getting lost and such because I had never been to PETCO. I eventually got on the board when a random Phillies player tossed me this ball :
With that ball, my streak of snagging at least one ball at an away ballpark extended to three. Pretty insignificant, but hey – I’ve only been doing this ballhawk thing for few months. If any Phillies fans – or anybody – is reading this blog, could you tell me who this guy is? He’s the one who tossed me ball número uno :
On a side note, the day before I left for California, I put together a list if all Padres and Phillies players so that I could get some toss-ups. Yes, really nerdy, but it helped me get my second ball of the day…well sorta. i got a toss-up from Mike Adams, but for some odd reason he wasn’t on my list, so when I saw his number and last name, I did a quick google and got his name. Here’s the ball :
Thanks Mike! After batting practice, I ran over to the third base line, which was a hassle. Don’t get me wrong, PETCO is really nice, but it is a pain to get around. Once I reached the Phillies dugout, Justin de Fratus was signing and talking with some girl – probably his girlfriend. When I got his signature, he tossed me my pen back, which went nowhere near me at all. He apologized and said, “that’s why I blew the game last night.” Funny guy, really fan friendly. Here’s his picture by the dugout :
Something I found odd about the Phillies is that they weren’t very friendly to their visiting fans. The only fan that talked or signed was Justin. Everyone else snubbed everyone and went into the clubhouse. The same thing happened after the game. In Houston, Orioles players were signing left and right and talking to everybody. I later traveled around the ballpark with my family to get some food – fish tacos in particular. They were insanely good and really filling. I think that two of them go for around $9. Not bad. Here’s a nice picture of the tacos :
I originally had plans to snag a 3rd out ball, but once I noticed the 20 Phillies fans by the dugout waving for the balls, I decided to stay where I was and enjoy the game with my family. I got this sick panorama of the park :
It’s like this at all section entrances. The same abundance of space is also present in RF, which is homerun heaven! At the bottom of the 9th, the Padres were trailing by 4 runs, so I got a seat by home with hopes of snagging an umpire ball. This was my view:
Once again, I was rejected. I will never understand why umpires only give out a few balls when they have about 8 in their pouches. On a positive note, I found about 6-7 tickets laying around, which I can add to my ticket-bed. Here’s a picture of that:
Unfortunately, I only had this one game at PETCO, but I’ll see the Padres again in September when they play the Phillies. Let’s just say that I’ll definitely be sporting my Padres shirt and hat for those games.
2 balls at this game, 22 in 2013, 32 all time.
From the get-go, I knew this was going to be a tough game. I was getting back from the beach after a weeklong stay and a 3 hour car ride, the weather was hot, and the Orioles were facing the Red Sox. So basically, I was going to be a sweaty, tired fan in a crowded ballpark – not a good combination for snagging baseballs. However, I was optimistic as I approached the gates; the crowds were pretty small (initially), and I got a good spot in line:
As I rushed towards the LF bleachers, the crowd was pretty small, but quickly grew to about 30 people – all season ticket holders! And to make matters worse, the Orioles weren’t hitting too well until the crowds got big. Even though I was in a great spot, I failed to catch a single baseball. A few came close, including a shot by an Orioles player that was heading right to me. Unfortunately, right as I was about to catch it – I had it lined up and it was obvious I had the catch – some random fan reached right in front of me and took it away. Lets be honest, he had all the power to do that, but it was pretty ballsy. Oh well. There were some other opportunities a the Red Sox were batting, but the crowds ruined every chance I had. I even moved over towards the flag court and asked for toss-ups at the bullpen, but nothing came my way. Distraught and really pissed off, I walked down towards the first-base line for my last chance of snagging a ball. While I was waiting for Manny and JJ to start throwing, I got a Chris Dickerson autograph. I have his signature already, but I didn’t have him on the ball I brought to the game. Anyways, once Manny came out, I positioned myself about 5 rows behind the right side of the dugout. Like I mentioned in my previous post from the day game in Houston, I’ve basically memorized Manny’s warm-up. I was debating taking a picture of where I was, which I should have done for future reference, but I put my phone away and concentrated on Manny. As he finished – exactly like in Houston – I started yelling his name and waving my arms in the air. He scanned the crowd for about 20 seconds until he spotted me – the only fan with a glove saying his name – and hurled it to me. While 3 older guys in the row ahead of me whiffed trying to catch it, I reached my glove up, caught my 30th ball, and ran to Eutaw after talking to some fans who congratulated me. I got a picture if the ball on my glove as I was walking away and I snapped another one after the anthem. Here they are:
I almost forgot to mention and realize that this was my 25th ball snagged at Camden Yards – WOO! This baseball was also my 2nd toss-up from Manny Machado; he tossed me the first on June 6thin Houston. After talking with some people who congratulated me on the snag, I met my friend, walked to our seats, got Boog’s, and enjoyed the game. By the way, the stadium was packed. Check it out:
During the bottom of the 9th, I moved behind home plate with hopes of a foul ball and, eventually, an umpire ball. At this time, the Orioles were on a 1-out rally, and the place was going nuts. I loved it. This was my view:
Even though I got no foul balls, I was pretty sure I was going to get an umpire ball…until the Red Sox got a double play off of REALLY dumb base running by the Orioles. I don’t really want to talk about the blunder. Anyways, even though I only got one ball, it was a good ball, and I got to spend a nice day at the ballpark with a friend. Nothing better in my book! Next up – Phillies vs. Padres at PETCO Park June 24th! See you then!
20 balls in 2013. 30 total balls.
Today was hot as hell… But wait! Minute Maid Park has air conditioning – one of the perks of the stadium. Anyways, my brother and I arrived at the CF gates at 11AM and it was packed. And by packed, I mean completely empty:
I was ecstatic upon seeing the lack of a line, but soon realized that there was also a lack of a batting cage inside. Bummer. Remaining optimistic, I ran over to the 1st base side for some toss-ups and autographs. This is what I was looking at:
Even though the crowd was small, I didn’t get any toss-ups. Both Matusz and Tommy Hunter recognized me and said they didn’t want to give me anymore baseballs. Whatever. However, I did come out of the boring warmup with a Brian Matusz autograph. Here it is:
A few minutes later, everyone left, and I waited about 30 minutes, looking at the empty field. I had yet to snag a single baseball. I hung out around the dugout when the players were warming up and got Chris Tillman to sign one of my balls that I brought with me. As I was walking up the stairs to head over to the Crawford Boxes, I saw Manny Machado finishing his warmup. From watching him warmup at home, I knew that he always throws his ball behind the dugout – that’s exactly where I was! Immediately, I started screaming his name and waving my glove in the air. He hesitated for a moment then threw it my way. The ball was a beauty, and the fact that I got it from Manny made it much better. Here’s a good look at it:
After snagging the Manny ball, my brother and I got some food and sat down in LF. Judging the crowd, I knew I would be able to snag a homer if one came near me; look at all the room I had:
But not a single homerun was hit, a drastic change from last night’s homerun count. As the 9th inning approached, I once again moved down to a seat by the umpire’s tunnel with hopes of getting a logo ball from the umpire. Once again, no luck, and I failed to get the lineup cards as well. I guess I’ll have to wait until June 15th to get my 30th ball.
Besides those negatives, the Orioles won the series 2-1, I got a ton of autographs, 5 baseballs – one of which was a Manny toss-up – and I had a great time in Houston. It’s a great city and ballpark; the staff is friendly, the food is good, and the ballpark is really cool. I won’t hesitate to visit again.
So the total for June 6th was 1 ball – a toss-up from Manny. Better than nothing! Oh, and if you ever go to Minute Maid, get Blue Bell Ice cream, it’s amazing.
19 balls in 2013, 29 total.