San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs @ Wrigley Field (08-21-14)

Tuesday’s game, on August 19th, had been suspended because of rain. The Cub’s grounds crew struggled with the tarp after a short rainstorm, and it resulted in a delay that lasted more than 4 1/2 hours. The umpires said the field couldn’t be played on, and the game was called at 1:16 in the morning. The Giants protested their loss, and Major League Baseball ruled that because the tarp had not been properly used the night before, the remaining 4 1/2 innings of the game would resume on Thursday afternoon (before today’s game). With admission to Thursday’s game, you could also watch the rest of Tuesday’s game.

Today’s forecast called for more rain to begin around 1:00. I was desperately hoping the rain would hold off because rain was not included in my thoughts of the ideal first trip to Wrigley. I met Shawn Bosman at Miller Park at 9:00, and then we carpooled to Chicago for the Cubs game. After a few hours of driving we arrived at Wrigley Field:

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We arrived just before noon, so we had a lot of time to kill before the gates would open at 4:00. We used a good portion of this time to play catch along the sidewalk:

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Because this was my first time at Wrigley Field we also took a few laps around the exterior of the building so that I could get some photographs of it. We started in left field and made our way to home plate:

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This was the view out in front of Wrigley:

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From there we made a pit stop at the nearby McDonalds. There Shawn recognized and pointed out that Chris Distefano was also there. Chris Distefano stars in MTV and MTV2’s TV shows Guy Code and Girl Code. Chris also co-hosts the MSG TV show The Bracket. He is most known by baseball fans for his role in MLB Fan Cave’s “Off The Bat” on MTV2. Chris was awesome and stopped to talk for a few minutes. This was also Chris’ first time at Wrigley Field. Before departing he was nice enough to take a picture:

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Shortly after this it began to rain. Shawn and I weren’t bothered by this, though, we continued to play catch on the streets outside Wrigley. After a while of catch, we took a peek inside Wrigley and confirmed that there would not be batting practice today:

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Regardless of the status of batting practice, wasn’t the stadium beautiful? When the gates opened we headed straight to center field and began taking pictures. Looking to home plate:

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The view to my left:

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The view to my right:

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After exploring the outfield seating, I made my way through the concourse:

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This was the view when I reached home plate:

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Up to this point it had been raining lightly on and off, but by the time I met up with Shawn again in the outfield bleachers it had begun to rain a lot harder. The rain triggered the grounds crew to bring out the tarp:

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The scattered showers stopped and were replaced by a storm system that would take a few hours to pass through Chicago. Shawn and I left the bleachers for a much dryer spot under the over hang in foul territory down the left field line. It was the perfect time for a photo of the newest addition to the collection:

 

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That’s right, it was a commemorative Wrigley ball! BUT instead of belonging to me, it belonged to Shawn:

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When the rain finally stopped, the grounds crew went to work preparing the field for the games to follow:

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After a 4 1/2 hour rain delay on Tuesday, and an additional delay of 1 hour and 57 minutes today, the Cubs and Giants played the final 4½ innings of Tuesday night’s game. The suspended game resumed with the cubs batting in the bottom of the 5th inning, leading 2-0. San Francisco’s Yesmeiro Petit (3-3, 3.89) and Chicago’s Jacob Turner (4-7, 5.80) took the mound for the remainder of Tuesday night’s game. This was my view when Tuesday night’s game resumed:

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As you could see from the picture above, there was almost no one there. I would’ve sat behind one of the dugouts, but for some reason the ushers were very strict and wouldn’t allow it without possession of a ticket for those sections. The Giants put up one run in the 6th inning, but the Cubs held them off for the rest of the game. The final score was 2-1, Cubs. The official game time was 2 hours, 50 minutes, but including rain delays the game lasted for 9 hours, 21 minutes.

Here’s the recap from this strange baseball game:

The Giant’s Madison Bumgarner (13-9, 3.14) and Cub’s LHP Travis Wood (7-10, 4.86) took the mound to start Thursday’s regularly scheduled game (which ironically started an hour later than normal). I decided to watch it from the outfield bleachers:

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Cub’s RF Justin Ruggiano and Catcher Welington Castillo hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning. Ruggiano went deep to right field, and Castillo went deep to left field. Anybody want to guess who snagged Castillo’s long ball? Shawn did! Here he is being photographed with it by local ballhawk, Ballhawk Dave:

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This was one of the more entertaining baseball games that I have been to. The Giants scored again in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th innings. In the 7th or 8th inning I “upgraded” my seat. Here’s the view that I had for the remainder of the game.

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Here are the highlights from this offensively exciting game:

Wrigley Field is a dump, but I loved it. The one thing, in my opinion, that truly sets it apart from other stadiums today is the lack of technology. This isn’t a bad thing at all, though. I can honestly say that out of all the game I have ever been to, I paid the most attention at this one. At Wrigley you can’t look up at a giant scoreboard when you lose your spot in the game, you actually have to pay attention. The lack of technology “forces” fans to be more attentive. That, of course, will go by the wayside in 2015 with the installation of a new scoreboard in left field. Regardless, Wrigley will still be the best place to sit and watch a game of baseball.

2014 All-Star Game @ Target Field (07-15-14)

Since I live an hour an a half away from Target Field it was extremely helpful that Mateo Fischer let me stay with him for the duration of the All-Star Break. Instead of driving home the night before, I was able to head back to Mateo’s apartment with him and Leiming.

The three of us left Mateo’s his place around noon and arrived in the Warehouse District after a short ride on the light rail. We spent a bit of time at the Pepsi Block Party and then we followed the All Star Path to the Convention Center for one last visit to FanFest. Along the way I was very tempted to stop for a game of bean bags:

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The roadways were all ready for the Red Carpet Show that would take place later today. The Show hadn’t started yet, but there were a number of MLB mascots who were throwing things into the crowd. Here’s Bernie Brewer, the mascot for the Milwaukee Brewers:

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Incase you’re wondering, the flower was from the Yoplait people at the Pepsi Block Party and the A’s garage parking helper came from Bernie Brewer. We saw many more mascots along the way, but none as nice as Bernie.

We did many things at FanFest that I had done two days earlier, but we did some new things as well. Just for the heck of it the three of us played “Fast Pitch Relief” (Step up to the pitcher’s mound and test your arm strength while trying to throw your fastest pitch), “FanFest Fielding Practice” (Self explanatory), and “Steal A Base” (Also self-explanatory). Then we got cake:

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The cake was good, but there was too much chocolate. As you can see from above, there were three layers of cake with chocolate frosting between, and then more frosting on top. It was difficult to finish, but free cake is still free cake.

For lunch we ate at Lotus Restaurant, a Vietnamese establishment, a few blocks away from the Convention Center. Here’s a street view of the building via google maps:

Photo from Google Maps

Photo from Google Maps.

I didn’t take any pictures at Lotus, but here are two pictures via Yelp:

Photo from Yelp

Photo from Yelp.

Photo from Yelp

Photo from Yelp.

I ordered the Beef Pho. If I remember right then it is soup that consists of beef, noodles, some veggies and a few other things. It was pretty good, but I’m not huge on Vietnamese food.

Chevy sponsored the All Star Game and gave free rides from FanFest to Target Field. Had we not found another way back to Target Field we would’ve gotten a complimentary ride via a new Chevy Impala:

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Instead, the three of us pilled in the back of a Yoplait yogurt bike cart. This was also complimentary, and it was a lot of fun!

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We were dropped off at the corner of the Pepsi Block Party right next to the Yoplait stand where we got yogurt a few hours before. We got to Target field around 3:45, only about 15 minutes before the gates opened. I had just enough time to circle the stadium to find the gate with the shortest line. Gate 3 was the answer to my question:

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My goal for today was to get a commemorative ball with a perfect logo. It didn’t matter to me if the ball was from the futures game, the derby or the ASG, I just wanted it to have an undamaged logo. Upon entering the stadium I quickly found a nice spot in the Powerball Pavilion, away from the larger crowds in foul territory. When David Price finished playing catch he hooked me up with a derby ball:
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I was thrilled to get another commemorative but I was disappointed in its condition. This logo was hardly visible. I was just worried that I wouldn’t get another chance because (1) the crowds were so large and (2) because I had limited space to work with because the ushers were checking tickets in every section. Speaking of ushers… immediately after the toss up from Price, I was asked to show my ticket for the Powerball Pavilion. Therefore, I was booted out of the section.

With my options running out I managed to find my way into the left field bleachers. I hoped to get a ball from the bullpen, but that didn’t pan out.

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No, my next ball wasn’t from the bullpen but instead it was a toss up from Padres’ All-Star Tyson Ross:

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YES!!! Finally a ball with a fantastic logo! Huge thank you to Tyson Ross. With my goal completed I waited out the last few minutes of batting practice. Following batting practice I was told that the Clydesdale would be making another appearance. Any guesses to what that meant for me?

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Let’s just say I ate very well at the All-Star Game. I didn’t keep it all for myself, though. I gave one to Leiming, and gave one to an usher who I’d made friends with over the past few years. It was sort of thank you for letting me in his section so often. Before leaving to get food I stuck around to watch the pregame festivities.

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I’ve seen a few flyovers at baseball games over the last few years, but this one was definitely the best so far:

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There was still some time before the game was supposed to start so Leiming and I got some food. This is how crowded the concourse was:

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It was insane, there were people everywhere! At certain times it was so packed that no one could move and we all just stood in one place. It was like rush hour in Chicago! We ate our food in the standing room area behind home plate.

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We liked the view so much that this is where we spent the majority of the game. The game was spectacular! I’ve always been a fan of Derek Jeter, but I’ve never fawned over him like other fans do. However, seeing Jeter in his final All-Star game was something I will never forget. Jeter went 2-2 with a double and a run scored.

Here are some accomplishments that Derek Jeter had in this All-Star Game alone:

“With Derek Jeter’s 3rd-inning single, he becomes only the sixth player in baseball history with 10 career singles in the All-Star Game, trailing five Hall-of-Famers.” -ESPN

“Oldest player with multiple hits in an All-Star Game Derek Jeter (40, 2014), Carl Yastrzemski (39, 1979), Babe Ruth” -ESPN

Seeing Derek Jeter’s standing ovation has to be the coolest thing I’ve ever witnessed in person at a baseball game.

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Here are a few panoramic pictures I took throughout the night:

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The American League beat the National League 5-3. Glen Perkins, the hometown hero, picked up the clutch save for the American League. Here’s a recap via MLB on YouTube:

After the game Mateo, Leiming, Garrett and I all got together for a picture at the National League dugout.

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We all had quite the day, and quite the All-Star experience throughout the last few days. This was potentially a once in a lifetime event, and I was thrilled to have been a part of it here in Minneapolis.

When we left there were bags of Cheez-Its being giving away outside of the stadium. Not expecting to get one, one of us joking said, “Can I have a box?” To our surprise they tossed each of us a box of Cheez-Its!

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That’s such a strange thing, isn’t it? We got some pretty funny looks from people as we carried our boxes of Cheez-Its down the sidewalk. Here is the final haul from the All-Star Break:

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2014 Home Run Derby @ Target Field (7-14-14)

Day two of three, one step closer to the main event. To start the day Leiming Tang and I met Garrett Meyer at the All Star Pepsi Block Party. There we won Target gift cards by answering 3 trivia questions, saw the Clydesdales, won multiple prizes from playing moundball, and got free Pepsi and yogurt.

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After we spent a good chunk of time at the block party we headed kitty corner across the street to grab some lunch at Trieste Café, a Mediterranean & Greek restaurant, in the Warehouse District. Here’s a street view of the building via google maps:

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Photo from Google Maps.

Looking back at it now, I don’t know why I didn’t take any pictures at Trieste! Here are two pictures via Yelp:

Photo from Yelp

Photo from Yelp.

Yelp

Photo from Yelp.

We each ordered the Baba Ganouge Veggie Gyro and we didn’t regret it. The place is run by two guys who are great at their jobs. I think that these two guys are literally the only two on staff, but they do an excellent job. The place was busy, but the food came quickly. The food was authentic and fresh, the service was great, and the atmosphere was comfortable. Although the café was small, the limited seating added to the small restaurant experience. I should quit blogging about baseball and start reviewing restaurants ;)

The three of us arrived at Target Field at three o’clock and joined a few other ballhawks at Gate 34:

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From left to right is Erik JabsTony Voda, Nick Pelescak, Garrett, Leiming and then me. Most of us were in t-shirts, but it was actually so chilly that Erik and I jogged nearly a mile to Target so we could each buy a long-sleeved shirt. We got back to Target Field with plenty of time to spare, but we almost got swallowed up by the swarms of people who had lined up at the gates:

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I was thrilled when the gates opened at four! I immediately rushed to foul territory in right field to claim a spot along the warning track. Today the stakes were a bit higher than at the Futures Game. The crowds would be larger and more people would be competing for a derby ball. I knew that obtaining a derby ball would prove to be the most challenging part of the day so I made it easier for myself by staking out a good spot:

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Unfortunately I was ignored by many of the players. It was pretty strange; not many players were tossing baseballs to fans at all. Although it was from an unlikely source, I still managed to snag a commemorative Home Run Derby ball:

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Any guessing about who threw it to me? Take a look back at the last two photos until you spot the little Asian boy dressed in all white wearing a red hat. He’s the son of one of the players, but I’m not sure who. I mentioned that he’s Asian because this could help me figure out who his father is. In turn, I’d be able to say I snagged a commemorative derby ball from ________’s son. Feel free to help me out!

After this I tried my luck in center field. What a mistake. Look how crowded it was:

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Two balls were thrown specifically to me, but there were so many fans who thought it was a free for all that both balls were stolen before they made it into my glove. I know that there was nothing I could’ve done to control that, but it was sure frustrating because both balls were commemorative.

The 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby started at 7:00. At that moment the eyes of baseball fans all across the country were set on Target Field. Major League Baseball and the Twins organization did a fantastic job of not only planning this event, but also marketing ourselves to the rest of the country. Target Field and Minneapolis/St. Paul were presented very well on National television.

Take a look for yourself:

If there was one thing I could’ve changed about the Home Run Derby it would’ve been the weather. The majority of the day had been chilly and rainy, and the Derby was actually delayed because of it. However, because of the weather I saw one of the most beautiful skies I have ever seen. My camera couldn’t capture a quality photo so take a look at this photo from the Star Tribune:

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Photo from Star Tribune

There was a double rain bow above the Minneapolis skyline during the Home Run Derby at Target Field. How cool is that?! After seeing the rainbows I didn’t even care about the cold weather anymore!

After the Derby I snagged an All Star Gatorade from the field staff:

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After drinking that Gatorade I was all energized and I felt like an All Star ;)

The Field staff also began throwing Sharpies to fans:

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An All Star Sharpie? I believe that I have since then lost the sharpie. Before I bid you farewell I’ll leave you with a picture of the original three Target Field amigos:

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Up next: The 85th Major League Baseball All Star Game. It feels great to finally say that!

2014 Futures Game @ Target Field (07-13-14)

Today was a very special and long awaited day in Minneapolis. This was no ordinary Sunday, it was All Star Sunday which marked the beginning of the All Star Festivities! When I stepped off the light rail I was presented with two options: Capture I had a ticket for FanFest so I chose to follow the path on the left. From Nicolet Mall I began my mile walk to the Minneapolis Convention Center, the home of this year’s FanFest. I was impressed with how much downtown Minneapolis dressed itself up for the Festivities: IMG_20140713_111729_673 Capture2IMG_20140713_094434_232 IMG_20140713_094233_595IMG_20140713_094131_982IMG_20140713_094129_782 Everywhere I looked was baseball themed. It was pretty neat to see how everything was prepped for the Major League All Star Game. After 10-15 minutes the Convention Center was in site: IMG_20140713_095447_534 Upon entering through the front doors I was directed down this hallway: IMG_20140713_095714_545 After turning a few corners I found the entrance to FanFest. It was beautiful: IMG_20140713_105344_211b Once through the turnstiles each guest received a map and guide for FanFest: PhotoCredit: MLB.COM As you can see from the picture above, the convention center was packed with 36 attractions which included the All-Star Clubhouse, All-Star Dugout, Bigfoot, Topps Trading Cards, FanFest Batting Practice, Live Radio Autograph Stages, MLB Clubhouse Store, Minor League Baseball, MLB Network, National Baseball Hall of Fame, The Negro Leagues, Trophies of Major League Baseball, and Women in Baseball. The nice thing about FanFest was that all the attractions were free with admission. I enjoyed visiting most places on the map, but there were a few places that I enjoyed more than the rest. Places like… Hometown Heroes: IMG_20140713_100404_495IMG_20140713_100435_093 Hometown Heroes highlighted all of the Twins players from over the years who had been born in Minnesota. Notable players include Joe Mauer, Dave Winfield, Tom Kelly, Jack Morris, Kent Hrbek, Terry Steinbach, and Glen Perkins. Oh, there was also some guy named Paul Molitor. Apparently he was a 7x All-Star, the 1993 World Series MVP, a 4x Silver Slugger Award winner, a member of the Major League Baseball All-Time Team, and also a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Ever hear of him? Must not be to important. Minor League Baseball: IMG_20140713_100944_560 I was impressed with this attraction in particular. As you can see, there were a lot of New Era hats in the exhibit. Each column of hats represented a MLB team and it consisted of 4-5 hats. The Top hat represented the MLB team, the next hat down represented the AAA team, the hat below that repped the AA team, the next repped the A team, and the final hat repped the Rookie team. It was quite the display of hats! Negro Leagues: IMG_20140713_102735 This exhibit highlighted the most impressive players from the league. There were old pieces of memorabilia such as jerseys, bats, balls, gloves, and scorecards. One thing that I found interesting was the separate Hall of Fame that the league had. The full Negro League Museum is located at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. If you’re interested in seeing it then head there! The Trophies of Major League Baseball: IMG_20140713_103023 ‘Nough said. I think this one is pretty self explanatory. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: IMG_20140713_103053 I didn’t actually step inside to look at this attraction because I was able to see the real deal three years ago in Cooperstown, NY. Don’t get me wrong, they still went the whole nine yards here in Minneapolis. There were HOF plaques, jerseys, hats, gloves, baseballs, etc. Tons of memorabilia that is normally in Cooperstown! All Star Clubhouse: IMG_20140713_103653 I only stepped in for a brief moment, but at the time there was a Hall of Fame softball player giving some sort of speech. It was probably a lengthy response to a question that had been directed towards her. The Clubhouse was mostly, if not exclusively, used for Q and A with fans. World Baseball Classic: IMG_20140713_103624 This was intriguing because the map showed which countries were being represented by certain players in the Big Leagues. Like other attractions there were also pieces of memorabilia here. Bigfoot: IMG_20140713_103414 I don’t know how to explain this. Regardless, BigFoot was at the convention center. Quickly, somebody tell Anthony Swarzak to get over here, I found bigfoot! For those of you who don’t know, Anthony Swarzak is a believer of big foot and sasquatch. After I explored FanFest a bit more I found a set of the All Star commemoratives… the same ones I would hopefully get my hands on at Target Field: IMG_20140713_104125_174 Speaking of Target Field, I arrived in a familiar place at 11:30: IMG_20140713_112744_536 I met Tony Voda and his friend Jared at the gates, talked for a bit, and then we rushed inside when the gates opened at two o’clock. Although there was batting practice, I was unable to snag a futures game baseball. On the up side I did get Alex Myers’ autograph on my Futures Game program. Before the game started I watched the pitchers warm up. Hentry Owens started for the U.S. and Jose Berrios for the World: IMG_20140713_155550_497 Mateo Fischer had arrived a bit after the gates opened, but at this point we were both hanging out in the left field bleachers. As we waited for the game to begin we noticed the bleachers were being raised: IMG_20140713_155607_299 We talked to a few ushers and they told us that this was because the Clydesdales would be taking a lap around the ballpark. Sure enough, the Clydesdales appeared and took their lap: IMG_20140713_155738_041 Due to the inconvenience of leaving our seats in order for the section to be raised, each person in that section was given a $15 food voucher that could be spent at any concession stand at the ballpark. I was thrilled when I was given two: IMG_20140713_161033 When the game started at 4:00 CT I did something that I hadn’t done since 2013. When the game started I actually went to sit in my ticketed seat! When I bought my All-Star ticket strip I picked a seat on the aisle in the grandstand because I figured this would be a decent spot for lefties in the home run derby. Later it was announced that only one lefty, Justin Morneau, would be participating in the Home Run Derby. Here’s a picture to give you an idea of where I was at: IMG_20140713_165754_621 Anyways, when I made it up to my seat someone was sitting in it. Normally I wouldn’t care, but this was an All Star event! I went over the whole, “I think you’re in my seat. Here’s my ticket” thing, but apparently rules didn’t apply to them because they thought i’d be completely understanding and let them continue to sit there. There was one person who had seven friends in my row and they wanted to be together so they told me to take their seat that was four rows up and a few seats in. I grabbed a random seat for half of the game, and then decided I would have the usher give them the boot. As I was on my way I realized that even if the one got booted from my section, it would be extremely awkward to have to sit next to the other seven who would still be there. So, I booted my plan out the window and decided to go sit next to Mateo in section 130: IMG_20140713_181347_720 Why was Mateo colorful? Earlier that morning he had run in The Color Run MLB 5K, presented by Nike. He didn’t have time to get cleaned up before getting to the game so he was still covered head to toe in paint. The futures game ended after 2 hours and 33 minutes. Since I don’t remember much from the game, you should just watch this recap from MLB: Panic at the Disco performed a short concert in-between the Futures Game and the Celebrity Softball game. I’ve seen a few musicians play before, but this was still my first larger scale concert: IMG_20140713_185924_268IMG_20140713_185609_944 I enjoyed the concert and I especially liked the stage effects such as the shooting flames and confetti. Seeing a concert at Target Field was great because it made All-Star Sunday feel different than going to a normal game. I enjoyed every minute of it. Mateo, Leiming TangGarrett Meyer and I watched most of the Celebrity Softball Game from here: IMG_20140713_193532_394 The best part of the softball game was seeing Jim Thome step up to the plate a few more times at Target Field. He’s one of my favorites. It went by quickly, but the first day of the 2014 All-Star Festivities had come to a close.

Royals vs. Twins @ Target Field (07-01-14)

As I was about to get on the light rail that would take me to Target Field I stopped to take a photo of it:

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Doesn’t it look great? With the All Star Break only two weeks away, I was getting very antsy for my first All Star Game.

After meeting Tony at gate 34, we entered the stadium at 5:00 for STH early entry. We each searched for a ball that we had seen land in the Grandstand until Tony found it just as we were about to give up. From there I made my way over to the left field bleachers, which is where I caught this homer that was hit by Josh Willingham:

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Willingham had missed some games due to injury, but he was taking some cuts in batting practice. Soon I snagged my second ball of the day, a home run that was hit by a Twins player I could not recognize. I gave that ball away to the kid who was next to me.

My third ball of the day was a home run that was hit by Trevor Plouffe. This one was difficult because it was headed nearly two sections to my left. After doing my best to catch it the ball tipped off my glove, and I picked it up with my other hand. It’s no gem, but it’s a keeper:

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I didn’t get my next ball until the Royals took the field. Had Tony not been working to get a ball from Lorenzo Cain, I would not have snagged my next ball. You see, Lorenzo Cain was fielding balls in right-center field when Tony called out to him for a ball. Lorenzo accepted his “challenge” and tried to accurately threw a ball to Tony. If I remember correctly, Lorenzo threw three balls but none of them got to Tony. I call this ball the “Tony Cain E8 Ball”:

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With batting practice in the books, I made my way to the plaza for the start of the game. I didn’t mention it yet, but the weather was a bit chilly. It was strange seeing so many people (myself included) wearing long sleeves when it was only the first of July. Long sleeves can be seen standing on the plaza:

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I remained on the plaza for the majority of the game, but later in the game I moved behind the Twins dugout. In the 7th inning it suddenly began to rain:

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Of course being the ballhawk that I am, I liked the rain because people began to leave. In fact, the smaller crowds probably contributed to me getting my fifth ball of the day. In the top of the 8th inning Brian Duensing worked an 0-2 count against Eric Hosmer, and then threw the next pitch in the dirt. Dominic, the Twins bat boy, retrieved it and then tossed it to me:

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Samuel Deduno replaced Brian Duensing to start the 9th inning and quickly retired the first two men. With two outs, Christian Colon stepped up to the plate for his first career at bat:

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Sam Deduno worked a 0-1 count, and then got him to swing on an 89 mph cutter. Colon grounded to third baseman Trevor Plouffe who threw to first baseman Chris Parmelee to record the final out of the game. Parmelee then tossed the ball to the shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, who then threw the ball to me! I was pretty pumped because this was the ball that retired Colon in his first MLB at bat! Take a look:

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After I got the game ball I turned towards Tony. He and a bunch of kids were waiting to get a ball from someone in the dugout. This might be my favorite picture from this baseball season:

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On our way out of the stadium I took another photo that I’m very fond of. There’s something about a quiet and empty baseball stadium that is very peaceful:

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As we were leaving the stadium we noticed a new logo on the outside of Target Field:

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Normally we don’t get a picture together, but we thought it was fitting because the next time either of us would be at Target Field would be for the All Star Game events.

Here are the highlights from the game:

Stay tuned, next up are the All Star Week Events!

 

White Sox vs. Twins @ Target Field (6-20-14)

After sitting through the crummy weather yesterday it was great to have clear blue skies, temperatures in the low 80’s,  and a nice gentle breeze blowing out of the ballpark. It was a perfect day for baseball!

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Today I was accompanied by my friend Ethan from school. Looking back on it now, I realize we forgot to get a picture. We got to the stadium late because an accident occurred that involved a light rail train that hit a pedestrian. The next 3 stops ahead of our train were closed so the incident could be taken care of, but that meant that everyone on the rail had to get off the train to find alternative transportation to get to the next available station. Busses were provided for us, but it was a lot slower because of traffic. The transit system handled the situation very well and it went smoothly.

Although Ethan and I got to the stadium late, we were still able to get our Harmon Killebrew bobblehead at the gate and catch the second half of batting practice. Usually I don’t go to games when there’s a bobblehead because of how crowded it gets, but Ethan and I both really wanted a Harmon Killebrew bobblehead. Just after we entered through gate 34 a White Sox player hit a monstrous home run into the plaza, but it was to crowed to catch it before it landed. Suddenly I was in hot pursuit of the ball… I weaved in and out and all around people in the plaza just to chase down the ball. I almost grabbed it a few times, but the course of the ball kept changing because the ball kept ricocheting of off people’s feet. When I finally trapped the ball between my glove and my hand I was pretty far away from where I had begun. Then suddenly a guy came out of nowhere and grabbed the ball out of my glove. He said something like, “Hah I beat you!” and then he ran away. Stay classy, Minneapolis. I was pretty bummed that the guy stole my ball, but I could still count it anyways.

When batting practice ended Ethan and I found a nice spot in the bleachers:

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We were able to sit here for the first few innings before the actually ticket owners claimed the seats. We spend most of the game in the plaza, where we hoped a home run would be hit:
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Unfortunately, there were not any home runs hit to the plaza. If it’s any consolation prize, which it’s not, the sky was perfect for taking pictures:
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There were some pretty cool things that happened in this game. In the first inning Jose Abreu hit his 21st home run of the season, which tied with Alexi Ramirez for the second most by a White Sox rookie in team history. In the 9th inning Paul Konerko cut the lead to 4-3 by collecting his final RBI in Twins Territory. My favorite part of the game was when Brian Dozier stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning. He singled to left field to score the winning run in walk off fashion!

Here are the highlights from this very exciting game:

And finally, this was my souvenir for the night:

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White Sox vs. Twins @ Target Field (06-19-14)

infoThe forecast predicted rain. Normally I would’ve completely ignored this game, but I went for two reasons. (1) My friend Cody was accompanying me and this would be his first game at Target Field. (2) Tony Voda and Nate Duppler were going to be there. It had been three months since I had seen Tony, and two since I had seen Nate!

RAIN was the word of the day. No batting practice because of the RAIN:

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The game was delayed because of the RAIN:

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…And I bought a nacho helmet because of the RAIN:

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After a lengthy rain delay the grounds crew removed the tarp from the infield:

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After a 2 hour and 6 minute rain delay, the umpires approved the wet field for play:

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The highlight of the game was summed up in one picture. As Mateo Fischer once said, “friends make ballhawking more funner”:

Capture

After meeting up with Panda, a fellow Target Field ballhawk, we made our way to the White Sox dugout. When the game ended at 12:59 A.M. CT Panda and I each got a ball from Umpire Mark Wegner, and Cody got a ball from a White Sox coach.

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The game itself was not outstanding. In fact, it was probably one of the most boring games I’ve been to. However, the Twins pitching staff put on a show! Yohan Pino went 7 strong innings allowing 2 ER on 5 base hits while striking out 7 batters. Casey Fien was awarded the ‘W’ after he pitched a scoreless 8th inning. Glen Perkins earned the Save, and the Twins were victorious.

This was actually the latest I had ever been to a baseball game. Cody and I didn’t end up getting back to my house until 3 AM. WOW, talk about a long day!

(From ESPN) Here is the box score and other info from the game:

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info

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:

box score

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:

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