Rangers vs. Twins @ Target Field (05-28-14)

This was one of the games on my season ticket plan, but I sold my ticket on Stubhub because I wasn’t very interested in going to this game. So why did I go? Some family friends gave my dad and I four free tickets to the game! Those seats were way better than the ticket I originally had!

As a Twins Season Ticket holder, I gained early access to watch batting practice. Although there wasn’t any action during the Twins portion of bp, it didn’t take long to get on the board while the Rangers took the field. Ball #1 was courtesy of an unknown Ranger:

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When the rest of the stadium opened up at 5:30 I hurried over to the left field corner in foul territory to retrieve a ball that had earlier landed in the seats. After 2 years of waiting, I finally found my first Target Field “Easter Egg”:

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This wasn’t just any old ball though, this was also my 100th baseball at Target Field!

I decided to head out to the right field plaza for the first group of lefties, and my move paid off. It was there where I snagged ball #3 – a homer off the bat of an unknown Rangers player:

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I was also in the plaza when I caught my 4th ball of the day – another homer that I caught off the bat of an unknown Rangers player:

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See the two guys to the right of my glove in the previous picture? Those are Target Field regulars who come to ballhawk. I’m glad i’m kind of tall because I had to reach higher than both of them to catch that last homer. When I caught the ball I avoided dropping my ego by  nearly falling down the steps in the process.

Batting practice wrapped up a bit quickly, so I made my way over to grab a bleacher seat next to the bullpens. When I got arrived there were plenty of baseballs scattered in each bullpen:

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The Twins bullpen catcher, Nate Dammann, hooked me up with one of them when he brought his equipment to the bullpen. I didn’t photograph this ball at the game, but it’ll be in the group photo at the end!

As I continued sitting there, the usher walked down the steps and turned her attention on me. John is the normal usher of section 131, and since John wasn’t working this game I was convinced she was going to make me leave the section. To my surprise she struck up a conversation, and eventually gave me a baseball that she had been holding in her jacket pocket! She said she just wanted to thank me for being such a nice friendly fan. What a pleasant surprise!

When the game started I didn’t waste any time getting to my seat. The view from our seats was great:

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Minnesota’s starting pitcher, Kyle Gibson, gave up six hits and struck out four in six scoreless innings, but the Twins still lost 1-0. Here is the box score and other info from the game:

box score game info

Total Snagged:

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Rays vs. Red Sox @ jetBlue Park (03-10-14)

For my last game in Florida I was back in a familiar place:

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Similar to two days prior, I sought out autographs until the practice fields opened at 9 o’clock. Today I was hoping to get the autographs of two of the Red Sox top Prospects – Trey Ball and Mookie Betts. To my surprise I got both:

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Trey Ball

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Mookie Betts

Even though I was doing a lot of ballhawking, I still found it very enjoyable to sit and just watch the minor leaguers practice. I can remember one instance where a bunch of players gathered near home plate to watch an instructional from one of the coaches – it was a very picturesque moment:

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After seeing a few minor leaguers practice on their fields I began to ballhawk in the same place I had a few days earlier:

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Within a few short minutes I got on the board. This ball was courtesy of Brian Johnson as he walked off the practice fields:

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I retrieved my second ball when it was hit down the line by an unknown player in the Red Sox farm system:

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My third ball was also hit down the line:

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Most of the people who were near me weren’t paying attention to the baseballs that were flying in our direction. Had I not been paying attention, a slicing line drive would’ve hit a man who was standing near me. After I caught the ball I was going to take a picture of it, but I decided to give it to him instead. He’s holding the ball in this picture:

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In the previous picture do you see the Red Sox player in right field? His name is Jon Diaz. I was able to catch one more ball that flew my way, but I offered it back to Jon because it was in such poor shape. He motioned for me to keep it, but I threw it to him anyways because it was pretty gross. It wasn’t even picture worthy.

When Jet Blue Park opened at 11:00 o’clock I went directly to the grassy section in right field. Within the first 5 minutes I caught a David Ortiz home run on the fly:

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When the Rays took the field just a few minutes later a Rays player threw this pearly white to me:
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After snagging those two balls in the first ten minutes of being in the ballpark, it wasn’t until the last ten minutes of batting practice when I snagged my next baseball. My 8th ball of the day was as toss up from one of these three players:

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Although I cannot remember who threw the ball to me, I do remember that he only threw it to me because I gestured that I would give it to the kid next to me. Immediately after catching it I handed it to the kid who is in the forefront of this picture:

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That was it for batting practice. When the game started I found a standing room spot behind the Rays bullpen:

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Do you see the guy standing behind the plate? His name is Scott Cursi and he doubles as the Rays bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher. Scott is a very friendly guy who enjoys talking to fans. He and the lady next to me were old friends so in the second inning he came over to catch up with her. When they finished chatting she asked something like, “Do you have a really nice baseball that I could have?” That’s when I joking (half seriously) said, “Do you have any really really dirty baseballs?” I didn’t expect him to acknowledge me, but he replied, “Hah! I have tons of those, hold on a minute!” After he grabbed a nice ball for the lady, he gave these to me:

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For the next few innings I photographed the concourse starting in right field. I walked towards home plate and then continued to left field:

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Standing room in Right Field.

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Heading towards Home Plate on the 1st base concourse.

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Continuing to Home Plate.

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Almost there.

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This is the part of the concourse that is behind home plate.

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Heading towards left field. This is the 3rd base concourse.

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Third Base Grill.

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Directions for the Green Monster Deck.

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Taking the stairs to the upper concourse that leads to the Green Monster Deck.

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The view of the concourse from half way up the stairs.

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Half way up the stairs.

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The view of some of the parking lots from the upper concourse.

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Following the upper concourse to the Green Monster Deck.

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Almost there.

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The view of the field from the stairs that lead to the top of the Green Monster Deck.

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The view from the top of the Green Monster Deck.

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The view from the top of the Green Monster Deck.

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Inside the Green Monster.

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The view of the field from inside of the Green Monster.

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Panorama from inside the Green Monster.

After exploring everything at my disposal (Also one or two places that may or may not have been off limits) I returned to watch the remainder of the game. Here’s the panoramic view from where I watched the game:

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Panoramic from right field.

The Red Sox beat the Rays 6-2. Here is the box score and other info from the game:

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game info

That afternoon I got a group shot of the baseballs I kept. I added red circles to take the place of the baseballs that I gave away:
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Orioles vs. Red Sox @ jetBlue Park (03-08-14)

I got an early start to the day by arriving to Jet Blue Park by 8 o’clock in the morning. Let me say, it was a beautiful day:

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Because the practice fields weren’t set to open until 9, I hung around the batting cages hoping to get a few autographs. And that’s just what happened. I was able to get the signatures of Jose Vinicio, Christopher Acosta, Henry Ramos, Javier Guerra, Reed Gragnani, Matthew Price, and two other MiLB players who I wasn’t able to recognize. As each player signed for me I tried to take a picture of them. Sometimes I got the picture as they were signing my baseball, and other times I got the picture after they walked away. I got a picture of everyone who signed for me:

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Unknown

Jose Vinicio

Jose Vinicio #17

Christopher Acosta

Christopher Acosta #13

Matthew Price

Matthew Price #70

Unknown

Unknown

Reed Gragnani

Reed Gragnani #18

Javier Guerra

Javier Guerra #13

Henry Ramos

Henry Ramos #77

When the practice facility opened at 9 o’clock I made my way over to where John Lackey and Allen Webster were playing catch:

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Allen Webster and John Lackey playing catch

Allen and John were a bit sloppy, and the ball sailed on each of them a few times. My first ball of the day came when Allen overthrew John so much that it even cleared my head. After retrieving the ball, I threw a bullet all the way back to Allen Webster. I didn’t want the ball because John Lackey divorced his wife while she was battling cancer. So yeah, I threw it back to Allen.

Following this, I returned to the entrance of the practice fields because the Red Sox scrubs had begun taking batting practice on multiple fields. This was my view in front of me:

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This was the view to my right:

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This was my view to my left:

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I was in a pretty good spot to get a few baseballs. I scooped up my second ball of the day when a liner was hit down the right field line:

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Dedgar Jimenez, one of the players in right field, threw me my third ball of the day:

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When I wasn’t paying attention there were a few players who walked past me on their way back to the clubhouse. Like I said – I wasn’t paying attention then, but Oscar Taveras sought out my attention because he wanted to give this baseball to me:

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Cool stuff! Minor League players are so friendly. Around 11 o’clock all practices ended, and then a scrimmage started on one of the far fields. I decided to play foul balls from this spot:

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It wasn’t long before I had my first foul ball of the scrimmage. I was going to take a photograph of it, but I didn’t get a chance because a player ran over to retrieve it from me. The ball wasn’t in the best shape so I didn’t hesitate to throw it back to him.

When the scrimmage ended at 12:30 I was left with nothing to do other than walk around the outside of Jet Blue Park. After a few hours I decided to buy a ticket to the 3:00 tour of Jet Blue Park. I was told that I was supposed to meet the rest of the group outside the team store:

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Our tour guide led us into the stadium early:

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And then she led us on the field to watch the Red Sox take batting practice. I would’ve liked to have someone take my picture, but since everyone was a perfect stranger I decided to just take a cliché selfie:

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My view of the ballpark was magnificent:

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Being on the field was great, but I just wanted to be behind the fence in right field catching homeruns. When I bought the ticket for the tour I thought I would be able to hang out in the grassy seating area in right field. Had I known I would have to wait behind home plate for an hour and a half, I wouldn’t have gone on the tour.

When the rest of the stadium opened, I went to work. I started by catching a home run on the fly that was hit by an unknown Orioles player:

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Next I retrieved a ball that had earlier been hit into the bullpen by David Ortiz. I’m not sure why, but I gave this ball away before I took a picture of it. I must not have thought clearly – I gave away a ball that was hit by Ortiz!

This was my view when the game started at 7:05 ET:

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My ticketed seat was in the grassy section in right field:

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I watched the first three innings of the game, but then I decided it was time to leave. After spending 12+ hours at the baseball complex, I had enough baseball. Plus I was tired out and ready to go to bed.

Here’s the box score and other info from the game:

Cardinals vs. Twins @ Hammond Stadium (03-06-14)

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Hoping to get the most out of my spring training experience, I arrived at Hammond Stadium just after 8 a.m. for the 1 p.m. game. Since it had rained the night before and the skies were still dreary and overcast, there weren’t any players taking early morning practice. The gates weren’t set to open until 10 a.m. so for the next two hours I took pictures throughout the complex.

Here’s the front of Hammond Stadium:

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After walking back to the car I noticed that each row of the parking lot was named after a current or former member of the Twins. I particularly liked Killebrew Drive:

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I continued by taking a leisurely stroll down this path to the practice fields:

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If you look closely in the previous photo you’ll see a Twins coach in the distance. That’s Gene Glynn. We walked passed each other and said hello, but that was the end of our encounter… until he turned around and struck up a conversation. After talking for nearly 10 minutes we discovered we had mutual friends. As it turned out, I know a few of his great nieces and nephews who go to my high school.

After talking with Gene I continued walking until I reached the far end of the complex. Here’s the view looking back towards Hammond Stadium:

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Eventually I made my way back to Hammond:

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After taking a few pictures of the fountains I got in line to enter the stadium:

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Once inside the stadium I headed down to the dugout area to watch the Twins get set up for batting practice:

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Most of the team warmed up their arms in shallow left field:

 

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I moved to the seats in right field for the Twins first group of hitters, a group of lefties. After watching Jason Kubel take a few cuts I realized that the ball wasn’t carrying as well as it had been the day before. Because the temp was cooler and the air was more moist today, most of the balls got hung up at the warning track. Regardless, I eventually snagged one of the only homers that Jason Kubel hit during batting practice. When Kubel’s group was done hitting I moved to the grassy area in left field.

Ball 2 of the day was hit by Trevor Plouffe. I caught the line drive home run on the fly while I was running in full stride to my left. Surprisingly a few players complemented me on my catch. Ball #3 was another Plouffe homer that I caught on the fly, but this time I had to descend on the stair case that is between the concourse and the grassy area before catching the moonshot that Trevor hit. I’m not sure why, but once again I was complemented by a few of the fielders. It was kind of cool, but unexpected. My fourth ball of the day was a “home run” hit by Brian Dozier. When Dozier hit a deep line drive to left field I could tell that the ball wasn’t going to clear the wall, but I knew it’d be close. Casey Fien and I both got a beat on the ball, but just from different sides of the fence. As Casey tracked the ball to the warning track I reached over the fence. As Casey leapt at the wall, I reached lower. As soon as I felt the ball inside my glove I watched as Casey landed back on the warning track. I had just made a pretty sweet catch, robbing Casey at the wall! All of a sudden a bunch of fans applauded, and Casey even let out a laugh. He looked genuinely impressed.

This was my view when the Cardinals took the field:

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This is when most of the excitement ended. Since the Cardinals had split squad games today, only the scrubs had traveled to Hammond Stadium. There were only a few homers during the rest of batting practice, and I was lucky enough to get one of them. Immediately after picking up the ball I gave it to an elderly lady who was sitting at the railing behind the section. She was absolutely thrilled, and once again I was applauded. It was a little weird.

When the Cardinals left the field I took a somewhat artsy photo:

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Shortly after batting practice it began to rain and everything began to get wet:

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Because a strong storm was moving in, fans were advised to take cover in the party area near the batting cages and the Twins’ bullpen. After finding my 6th ball near the Twins bullpen I decided to leave. I knew the game would be cancelled, so I didn’t give it a second thought.

Here’s the shot of the baseballs that I kept:

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game info

Orioles vs. Twins @ Hammond Stadium (03-05-14)

This was the first day i’d ever been to spring training so naturally I was not sure what to expect. Thankfully Tony Voda, my personal tour guide for the day, was conveniently there for my well being. Though that’s not entirely true because Tony and his wife, Jael, had already been in Florida for most of the week, but it DID work out perfectly for Tony and I to spend the day together at the ballpark.

We met up at JetBlue Park, the Spring Training home of the Boston Red Sox, just before 8:00 am.

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Soon I found my first ever “Easter Egg” wedged behind a fence:

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It was no pearl, but it was my first baseball of the year!

Though Tony had been to Spring Training for back to back years he still hadn’t been to JetBlue Park, so this was a new experience for both of us!

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After we followed the path in the previous picture, we wound up on the complete opposite side of where we started. If you were to ask where we were at that point I would’ve said, “DEEP, DEEP left field.” Can you see JetBlue’s Green Monster in the background of the next picture?

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As you can see from above, there was a bit of action as John Lester (on the left), Felix Doubront (on the right), and a few other players warmed up. Did you see that ball in the last picture? Felix Doubront and his throwing partner got a bit sloppy and let the ball sail over Doubront’s head. It became my second ball of the day when a trainer threw it to me.

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After an hour or so, we made our way over to Hammond Stadium, but before we got out of the complex one of the Red Sox scrubs got my attention and threw a unique looking ball my way.

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Waddaya know? My third ball of the day was my first Minor League Baseball!

After a leisurely stroll in a fancy grocery store we arrived at Hammond Stadium 9 hours before game time. To our surprise all the gates were wide open and we were able to waltz in and go where ever our hearts desired… of course we gravitated towards the field:

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We wandered around the stadium and the practice fields for about an hour before I found the first of many baseballs to come at Hammond Stadium:

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That was my fourth ball of the day, and I ended up giving it to a child the next day. Tony and I were each lucky enough to stumble across a few baseballs near the batting cages back at Hammond.

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By the time we sat down to eat our lunch my total was up to 8, and Tony wasn’t far behind. After lunch the groundskeeper invited us to walk on the field to take some pictures. He was so laid back and cool about it that he told us to take off our shoes and walk on the grass!

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…Then the groundskeeper photo bombed me:

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I took a picture of Tony with my phone:

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Looking in:

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Looking in at the grounds work:

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Towards the grassy berm:

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Out towards left field:

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The Twins finally took the field around 3:30. It wasn’t long after that when Scott Diamond threw ball #9 to me:

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Ball #10 was thrown to me by Jason Kubel, but I failed to take a picture of it. I didn’t catch any home runs during the Twins portion of bp, but Tony was able to snag a few… making a diving catch in the process. Head on over to Plouffe’s New Hairdo if you want to read more about his day at Hammond.

It seemed like as soon as the Twins left the field the Orioles had already started spraying home runs into the outfield seats. At this point I kept getting baseballs so frequently that I didn’t have time to pull out my camera to take pictures. So what i’m saying is that I didn’t take pictures of the next 7 baseballs I snagged during the Orioles portion of batting practice. Yes, I said SEVEN.

I’ll try to make this quick. Ball #11 came when an Orioles player, who I didn’t recognize, hit a homer to section 128. Steve Johnson, one of the Orioles players who was shagging in right field, must not have seen me pick up the ball because as soon as I slipped it into my pocket he called to get my attention. It came as a complete surprise to me because I didn’t request a ball from him, but he threw #12 to me solely because I was wearing an Orioles jersey. I continued by catching two homeruns on the fly, one of which was hit by Julio Borbon. Balls 15 and 16 were also homers hit to right field, one of which was hit by Nelson Cruz. I’m not sure who hit it, but #17 was another homer that I caught on the fly in section 129. Even though #17 was an absolute pearl, I immediately turned and tossed it to a fellow Minnesotan who i’d been talking with for most of batting practice. He said he and his wife got a practice ball once, but he had never seen anyone catch as many balls as I had just done. He was pretty amazed by the whole ballhawking thing.

I watched most of the game from the new grass lawn in left field. This was my view:

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Although the lawn was packed full of people for most of the game I still had room to maneuver my way around if a game homer was hit my way. Unfortunately that never happened. But, the next best thing did happen. During the bottom of the 6th inning Max Kepler stepped up to the plate for the Twins:

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After Orioles pitcher Steve Johnson (the same guy from batting practice) worked a 2-2 count, Kepler fouled off the next pitch down the line in left:

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The ball flew over the boardwalk and landed on the practice field below. I didn’t think anything of it then, but when I walked across the boardwalk during the 7th inning I noticed the ball was still there. It didn’t take long to decide to go and get it:

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The practice field is located behind the stair case in the previous picture. Because the gates to the field were locked I wasn’t able to grab the ball myself, but a friendly employee happily retrieved it for me.

I made it back inside the stadium just in time for the last two outs of the game. I was even able to grab a seat in the first row behind the Orioles dugout to watch Kennys Vargas, the game’s last out, take a turn in the batters box. After Orioles Pitcher T.J. McFarland struck out Vargas and congratulated his teammates on their victory, he walked back to the dugout with the ball in hand:

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As T.J. walked back to the dugout we made eye contact, and he underhand tossed the ball to me:

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It was funny because a few of the coaches thought T.J. was tossing the ball to them, but they all turned and watched as it sailed over their heads and into my glove.

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After meeting up at the car, Tony and I took a picture of our combined haul for the day.

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This is actually Tony’s picture. I had to use it because the picture I took didn’t turn out. We ballhawked a combined total of 38 baseballs (36 MLB and 2 MiLB).

I’ve given a few more balls away since spring training, so I circled those balls in the next picture. Here’s my haul from the night:

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Even though the Orioles beat the Twins 11-5, the game was still enjoyable. After a long cold winter in Minnesota it was great to finally get out to the ballpark to watch a game of baseball under the lights!

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Although the Twins lost, I could still tell they have improved since last year. From what I saw, the Twins look better overall. I think they’ll actually have a mediocre 2014 season and could even finish near .500 by the end of the year.

It’s not something that I usually do, but I want to do “thank yous” for my spring training recaps. This is something that Tony Voda does regularly. Thank yous:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Paulson – Thank you ever so much for opening your home to me!
  • My Parents – Thank you for flying me to Florida!
  • Tony Voda – Thanks for spending the day at the ballpark(s) with me!
  • Twins Staff – Thanks for being so friendly and helpful.
  • Grounds Keeper – Thank you for the generous gesture of field access!

The Magic Number (Black lights and baseballs)

It has taken me a week or so to put this entry together, but i’m very happy with how it all turned out. Last year I published “Now you see it, now you don’t“, so this is basically the second installment of that. Because of the preparation that goes into it, this is one of my favorite entries to put together. I spent more time preparing to write this entry than I did actually writing it.

I called this entry the “The Magic Number” because of the invisible number on each ball. I also thought it was neat because “The Magic Number” is a baseball term.

I snagged 73 baseballs in 2013, and I gave 9 of those away. Out of the remaining 64 baseballs, 30 of them had invisible ink on them. I photographed each ball and provided a link to the game it was from. I arranged the pictures in chronological order from the beginning of the 2013 season:

4/1/13 @ Target Field – Tigers vs. Twins – Lifetime #45

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4/1/13 @ Target Field – Tigers vs. Twins – Lifetime #46

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4/1/13 @ Target Field – Tigers vs. Twins – Lifetime #49

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4/1/13 @ Target Field – Tigers vs. Twins – Lifetime #50

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4/2/13 @ Miller Park – Rockies vs. Brewers – Lifetime #52

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4/3/13 @ Miller Park – Rockies vs. Brewers – Lifetime #54

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4/3/13 @ Miller Park – Rockies vs. Brewers – Lifetime #55

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4/3/13 @ Miller Park – Rockies vs. Brewers – Lifetime #56

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4/3/13 @ Miller Park – Rockies vs. Brewers – Lifetime #57

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4/16/13 @ Target Field – Angels vs. Twins – Lifetime #58

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4/16/13 @ Target Field – Angels vs. Twins – Lifetime #59

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5/29/13 @ Target Field – Brewers vs. Twins – Lifetime #64

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5/29/13 @ Target Field – Brewers vs. Twins – Lifetime #65

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6/28/13 @ Target Field – Royals vs. Twins – Lifetime #66

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6/28/13 @ Target Field – Royals vs. Twins – Lifetime #70

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6/29/13 @ Target Field – Royals vs. Twins – Lifetime #71

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6/29/13 @ Target Field – Royals vs. Twins – Lifetime #72

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8/3/13 @ Target Field – Astros vs. Twins – Lifetime #82

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8/15/13 @ Miller Park – Reds vs. Brewers – Lifetime #84

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9/11/13 @ Target Field – A’s vs. Twins – Lifetime #94

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9/11/13 @ Target Field – A’s vs. Twins – Lifetime #97

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9/11/13 @ Target Field – A’s vs. Twins – Lifetime #98

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9/11/13 @ Target Field – A’s vs. Twins – Lifetime #99

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9/11/13 @ Target Field – A’s vs. Twins – Lifetime #100

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9/11/13 @ Target Field – A’s vs. Twins – Lifetime #102

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9/27/13 @ Target Field – Indians vs. Twins – Lifetime #105

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9/27/13 @ Target Field – Indians vs. Twins – Lifetime #111

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9/27/13 @ Target Field – Indians vs. Twins – Lifetime #112

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9/28/13 @ Target Field – Indians vs. Twins – Lifetime #116

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9/28/13 @ Target Field – Indians vs. Twins – Lifetime #117

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This year when I went to TwinsFest I wanted to get a ball signed. Since I thought most of mine were to dirty, I stopped at Target to buy one. It doesn’t count in my collection, but it does have invisible ink on it.

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Baseball signed by Miguel Sano.

That was all 30 (31 if you count the last ball) of them! I’m glad I could capture all these images on camera.

TwinsFest 2014

If you’ve ever been to TwinsFest in the past, you might remember that the Metrodome was the perfect place for TwinsFest because of how much space was available:

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Photo from TwinCitiesDailyPhoto.com

Because Target Field is an open air stadium, the layout of TwinsFest had to change to ensure that it could be held at “home”. Instead of having attractions on the field, they were moved to the Service, Club, and Suite levels:

Photo from Twins.com

Photo from Twins.com

After going to TwinsFest on Jan 24, Mateo Fischer and I made a video series that tours the new layout of TwinsFest 2014. Here’s the video I put together for the tour of the Suite Level:

Here’s the video Mateo put together for the tour of the Service Level:

I went to TwinsFest on Friday, but Mateo went all three days so he might have also toured the Club Level. I’m unsure if he was planning to do it or not.

So what did I actually do at TwinsFest?

Upon entering Target Field with Mateo, his friend, and his friend’s friend (whose names I can not recall), I found a spot at the end of the line for autograph station # 1. Although Byron Buxton, Scott Diamond, Michael Tonkin, Roy Smalley, and Danny Santana were all part of station 1, I was only interested because of Buxton. If you haven’t heard, he is the #1 prospect in Major League Baseball (Twins’ pitchers Alex Meyer & Kohl Stewart, 2B Eddie Rosario, and 3B Miguel Sano have also earned their spot on MLB’s Top 100 Prospects list). I ended up leaving the line at 5:00 because the line was to long for me to get to the front of the line by the time those players were done signing at 5:15.

Shortly afterwards I met up with Tony Voda, and we set out to see what the new version of TwinsFest had to offer. Later we met up with Ben Erickson (we met at TwinsFest last year, and have been keeping in touch since then), who came all the way from North Dakota to attend TwinsFest. He’s a great example of a dedicated Twins fan!

I very casually interviewed Tony and Ben about their experiences at TwinsFest this year. If you’ve never been to TwinsFest before, hopefully this video will offer some insight to what it is like:

Except for the occasional games that get snowed out in April, it’s not often that fans get to see it snow while being at Target Field. I made sure to take a few pictures:

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Snowing at Target Field!

Snowing at Target Field! (my slightly messed up panoramic photo)

Ben and I got a picture once Tony got the camera figured out. It was nice seeing you again, Ben!

Ben and I.

Ben and I.

At the Twins Yard Sale I picked up a few mini bats that were used as promotional giveaways during the 2013 season:

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Pretty nice for only $3!

I didn’t end up standing in line for any autographs at TwinsFest this year, but as Mateo and I were leaving for the night we passed Miguel Sano in the hallway. Miguel was standing around chatting in Spanish and signing autographs. Luckily Mateo knows Spanish pretty well and was able to get Miguel to sign an autograph for each of us.

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Ball signed by Miguel Sano (NO FILTER!).

Major League Baseball ranked Miguel Sano the 4th best prospect of 2014. He and Byron Buxton are a pretty big deal here in Minnesota and they’re bound to be just as big of a deal down in spring training this year. Spring training is just around the corner; pitchers and catchers start reporting on February 13th. Baseball is close!

Twins 2014 Winter Caravan – Part 2

I always love when the Twins Caravan stops in Rochester every January because it means that the next season is drawing near. This year, the Twins Winter Caravan visited Rochester on Tuesday, January 14 at the Ramada Inn. Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, Cory Provus, and Terry Ryan were all in attendance.

The event was supposed to start off with a 2013 Twins highlight video, but for the second year in a row there were technical difficulties. The video malfunction was ironic considering the Twins 66-96 record from the 2013 season.

After the video was postponed due to the “rain delay”, Corey Provus kicked things off with some Q&A. Each answered Provus’s questions, and any other questions that the audience had for them.

After some raffle prizes were given away, people could get in line for autographs. I only took a few pictures, and I’ll admit that they are not great:

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Left to right: Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, and Terry Ryan. IMG 1/3

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Left to right: Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, and Terry Ryan. IMG 2/3

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Left to right: Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, and Terry Ryan. IMG 3/3

Before this, I had never gotten an autograph on any of the baseballs that I’ve ballhawked because I like to keep them in the condition that I got them in. Usually I get a baseball card or a ticket signed, but this time I decided to get two baseballs signed. I figured that since it’s not every day that I have the chance to get Paul Molitor and Tony Oliva’s autograph (especially for free), I wanted to get their signatures on something more meaningful than a baseball card. After looking at all my baseballs, I picked the two that were in the best shape. If I were grading them on their quality, then I would give each a 9.5/10.

Paul Molitor signed my 97th baseball, which was thrown by an unknown Athletics player. Tony Oliva signed my 98th, which was a bp homer that was hit by an unknown Athletics player. I got both baseballs at the A’s vs. Twins game I attended last September. Kyle Gibson signed the ticket that I brought, and Caleb Thielbar signed an enlarged photo that was being supplied.

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When I was in line I told Kyle Gibson that I had been there to see his first Major League WIN on June 29 and how I had saved my ticket incase I would ever get the chance for him to sign it. A very big smile came across his face and he got very excited that I remembered his special day. It was a pretty cool 1 on 1 moment. Here’s a close up of the signed ticket.

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but Paul Molitor is my all-time favorite baseball player. Within the last year I (unintentionally) started a collection of Paul Molitor autographed memorabilia. I wrote “unintentionally” because I only sought out Paul Molitor’s autograph the first time. The second and third autographs came as a surprise. For example, I won a Paul Molitor signed baseball at a Twins game last September. That was a very big surprise!

What about the third autograph? Yeah, I bought a ticket to the Twins Caravan this year, but that was before I knew Paul Molitor would be in attendance. I wasn’t expecting him to be there until I checked the details for the event. Once again, I was surprised! It’s kind of funny how that worked out in such a good way!

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Overall, Twins Winter Caravan was a fun event to attend. Everyone heard from Terry Ryan about what’s going on inside the Twins Organization this offseason, and what they’re doing in order to get back on track this coming season. Over the offseason they have signed free agents Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Kurt Suzuki, and Jason Kubel, along with numerous Minor League players. The Twins also traded Ryan Doumit to Atlanta for LHP Sean Gilmartin, and finalized a deal with the Pirates that sent Duke Welker to Pittsburgh in exchange for Kris Johnson. One of the most popular “Transactions” this offseason has been the addition of Paul Molitor to the Twin’s coaching staff.

Saything that Terry Ryan hopes the Twins can turn things around in 2014 would be an understatement. Mr. Ryan wants nothing more than to leave the team’s troubles in the past. “Our biggest struggle the last three years has been that rotation and keeping overtaxing that bullpen,” Ryan said. “If we can fix the starting rotation, I think it will help fix some of the other problems we have, in particular our offense. We’ve struggled scoring runs as well.”

Terry Ryan also can not wait to get to spring training. He said, “I’m ready to go, Lets get down there and do something about it.” There were even a few different times he mentioned that pitchers and catchers report on February 16th.

I think I’m speaking for most of the people who attended the caravan when I say that for that brief 1.5 hours I forgot about the cold and snowy Minnesota winter weather, and I imagined myself in Fort Meyers for Spring Training, and at Target Field this summer. Let’s go Twins!

Twins 2014 Winter Caravan – Part 1

Well it’s that time of year again, and the Minnesota Twins Caravan is scheduled to visit more than 50 communities across Minnesota, Iowa, and North & South Dakota during the next few weeks. Here is the info from the Twins website:

“The Minnesota Twins’ 54th annual Winter Caravan features stops in nearly 50 communities throughout Twins Territory between Monday, Jan. 13 and Thursday, Jan. 23. The Twins Winter Caravan is one of the longest running and most extensive offseason team caravans in professional sports. It features teams of current and former players visiting schools, hospitals, corporations and service clubs during the day with a traditional “hot stove” program each evening.

Twins Winter Caravan tours will be led by members of the Treasure Island Baseball Network and Fox Sports North broadcast teams, including Bert Blyleven, Dan Gladden, Cory Provus and Dick Bremer.

Preliminary 2014 Twins Winter Caravan routes and personalities are below (schedule and players are subject to change). Specific times and locations will be announced right here in the coming weeks.”

2014 Twins Winter Caravan Schedule

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The Twins Caravan is something that’s definitely worth checking out. Last year I went to the caravan when it stopped in Rochester. If you want to see what the Twins Caravan is typically like, then I suggest checking out the entry I wrote from last year’s event. The Twins haven’t had a solid performance on the field for the last few years, but they’ve always done a good job providing a positive fan experience.  This year I’ll get to see  Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, and Cory Provus when they stop in Rochester on January 14th. I’ll post an entry about that sometime afterwards.

It’s All About Number 5

Lately I’ve been thinking about the future of ‘A Piece of The Game’. For the last few months I’ve considered calling it quits with the whole blog thing because writing was becoming dull. It was difficult because for the first time in a long time I didn’t know what I wanted to do next with ‘A Piece of The Game’. I kept considering my options, and then I realized I was back at square one. After some more contemplating I decided to share 5 blog related things that you probably don’t know about me. This might seem random to you, but you’ll eventually see where I’m going with it.

5 blog related things you probably don’t know about me

1. Before I publish an entry on WordPress I always scribble it down in longhand first because it helps me organize my thoughts.

2. The reason I started writing ‘A Piece of The Game’ was because I knew that if I didn’t write about my experiences some day those memories would be lost.

3. Narrative writing is my favorite style of writing.

4. I enjoy writing during the offseason more than during the baseball season.

5. I’m moving onto new adventures. I want to continue exploring my interests.

Let me explain number 5 by telling you a little story. You know when you see a great movie how sometimes you remember the details for days, weeks, or maybe even a month afterwards? Just a couple of days ago I read a blog entry that a friend of mine had written. Her words in that particular entry have stuck with me since then, and I have really taken them to heart. She explained how blogging had been a wonderful experience for her but much like friends and dreams change, so did she.

Earlier I mentioned how writing in longhand helps me organize my thoughts. Blogging is like that, but on a bigger scale. Writing and maintaining this blog has helped me explore my interests. While taking pictures at ballgames I recognized I have a growing love for photography. Through blogging I have developed a greater appreciation and a deeper understanding towards Major League Baseball. I imagine trying new things and traveling to new cities. There are other pieces out there, and I want to experience them. Blogging has been a great network for me to use to explore some of those pieces, but it no longer fits in my baseball puzzle (see what I did there?).

I will have plenty of new adventures in 2014, and they will all contribute to the exploration of my interests.  I will get to develop my photography skills as I’m traveling to a few new places this summer. My parents are sending me to Florida for Spring Training this March (Thank you for the wonderful Birthday/Christmas gift!), I’m taking a road trip to Tennessee in June, and hopefully I will even get to take a trip to Wrigley Field for its 100th season. All of these would bode well for my growing love for photography. Recently I became a Minnesota Twins Season Ticket Holder and I am well on my way to securing a ticket for the All Star Game and its events.

What does this mean for ‘A Piece of The Game’ ? Like I said before, blogging doesn’t seem to fit anymore. However, this is not a break up post (shout out to Rachel for that great line). I have grown to like writing enough to know better than to quit. I want to make blogging more enjoyable in 2014.

How am I going to make blogging more enjoyable in 2014?

1. I’m not going to blog about every ballgame that I attend. During 2013 this felt like more of an obligation than anything else. I have grown uninterested because when I write about the games I attend it feels like I’m always writing the same story as last time, but changing the characters’ names. Do you get what I’m trying to say?

2. I’m only going write about the games that I’ve had an above average experience at because I want them to be of quality.

3. Integrate my new adventures and interests into this blog. The title ‘A Piece of The Game’ won’t allude to ballhawking anymore, it will bring a NEW focus. There are other pieces out there besides ballhawking, and I want to make ‘A Piece of The Game’ a place to explore them.

When I started this blog I named it the way I did because (1) it would be mainly about my experiences ballhawking and (2) because when it comes to baseball, blogging is literally only one of the many pieces of the game. Honestly, I’ve gotten bored because up to this point ballhawking has been the focus of this blog.

4. I’m not going to blog as often. WordPress and I aren’t breaking up, but we are slowly growing apart. I’m slowing withdrawing from blogging. When I write an entry I want to enjoy it instead of just writing it because I went to a baseball game. Basically, I want to make my blog entries worth sharing.

Where will this blog be a year from now? Who knows. Is it possible that I will have stopped blogging altogether? Yeah, It’s possible. It is likely? I don’t know. We will see!

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