8-28-12 @ Target Field – Mariners vs. Twins

When I bought tickets I had a great feeling about this game. I felt confident that I was going to have a great day ballhawking, but even if I didn’t do well ballhawking I was still going to meet two fellow ballhawks, Tony and Mateo. Go ahead and click on their names… do it. If you click their names then their blog will open in a new tab. It’s that easy.

I was looking forward to meeting them, talking baseball, and ballhawking with them. At the same time I was a little nervous that my ballhawking numbers for the night might be crunched because of their skills. Luckily, we all did pretty well.

I arrived at Target Field around 4:30.  Tony and I were planning on meeting at Gate 34 about an hour before the gates opened. I suspected one man of being Tony but I wasn’t completely sure. We exchanged looks for a few minutes and then he approached me and asked if I was Paul. We told each other about ourselves and talked about baseball and the Twins. I spotted Mateo about 15 -20 minutes later and then 3 of us got to talking about baseball.

A ball was hit and bounced out of the gates, but fell 20-30 feet below the parking garage onto a road. Mateo and I looked down to see if we could spot the ball. We turned around and saw Tony a block down the road sprinting to find the ball. The ball kept rolling and rolling down the road until it and Tony were out of sight. When Tony got back 15 minutes later, he was proudly displaying his 49th baseball.

While we were talking a ball reached the gate and stopped rolling in a corner.  I reached my arm through the gate and was about to pick it up but a season ticket holder (who was on the other side of the gate) came running over to the gate and grabbed the ball just before I could get my hands on it.

Right before the gates opened we all got a picture together (From left to right, Mateo, Tony, Me):

When the gates opened Tony headed behind the Twins dugout, Mateo went through those sections and was heading towards the left field area, and I was headed for the right field foul territory. Within 5 minutes I had ball #1 from this Mariners coach:

If anyone knows who he is I would appreciate if you let me know.

The coach was picking up a few baseballs that had been hit near the Twins dugout. He looked like he was going to throw a ball to me, and also to Tony, who was a few sections to my left. For whatever reason he didn’t at first, but two minutes later he fired one to Tony and I both.  In the previous picture the coach threw the ball from the red “X”. I was standing at the black “X”. The red box indicates the camera box. In order for me to make the play I had to lean way over the railings, catch the ball, and not fall over.

After I got this ball I relocated to the aisle of sections 102-103 because I didn’t want to get in the way or steel any baseballs from Tony. Moving paid off for both of us. After I left, Tony snagged two more balls from the Twins Dugout Box.

Within 10 minutes I had gotten another toss-up.  This time I used a Mariners Sign (that I made) to get Lucas Luetge’s attention. Here’s a picture of him:

Right field was pretty much dead after that point. For that reason, I moved behind the Mariners dugout.

Sometime later a ball ricocheted over to the Mariners dugout and stopped about 5 feet in front of the dugout. A few minutes later a man walked over to pick up the ball. All I had to do was put my glove up and then he threw it to me. I’m not completely sure who it was, but I think it was the Mariners GM, Jack Zduriencik. Here is a picture of him (he is the man wearing the black shirt):

I enjoyed talking to a few people who were standing near me while I watched the final group of batters from behind the dugout. I met a nice man who is from Canada (he lives 12 hours away). He was on vacation with his wife and kids. He was also going to be at the game the next day. This was the first baseball game that he had been to in 19 years.

John Jaso, Eric Thames, and King Felix were all signing autographs two sections to my left. When Jaso was entering the dugout I asked if he would sign my sign. He looked surprised, but glad to do it. When Eric Thames was entering the dugout the same thing happened. I didn’t get Felix Hernandez to sign it, but whatever, I still got two autographs.

At the end of batting practice I got a ball from the Mariners ball/equipment guy. He is in the background of the next two pictures:

Once batting practice was done, Mateo and I met up and walked to the Aisle of section 131, where we were hoping to get a few balls. Mateo got his 3rd of the day, a toss-up from a Mariners coach. Here he is catching it:

We watched the pitchers warm up in the bullpens and were also hoping to get the baseballs when they were finished throwing, but that plan fell through. That was it for pregame.

As for the game, my dad and I sat 6 rows behind the Mariners dugout (I found half off tickets). This was our view:

Ok, fast forward to the end of the 5th inning.

Ben Revere hit a ball on the ground to 2nd base, and was thrown at 1st base to end the 5th inning.  Justin Smoak kept the ball until he got to the dugout. He also didn’t switch it for a warm up/different ball. Then he saw me in the aisle with my glove in the air and threw the ball to me. That was my first 3rd out ball that hadn’t been switched for a warm up ball. This was my first ever gamer.

At that time I forgot to take a picture of the ball, but there will be a picture at the end that shows all of the baseballs.

In the 8th inning I moved two sections to my right, where there were a lot of empty seats. I sat on the aisle seat in the last row of section 11.

Moving definitely paid off because something exciting happened in the top of the 9th inning. Alex Burnett was pitching to Dustin Ackley with one out. Burnett worked a 2-1 count. Ackley hit the next pitch foul 15 feet behind me, but I could only get within 10 of the ball because of the Dugout Moat (dugout box seats are blocked with a 6 foot wall so no one can sneak into those sections). Once the ball cleared my head I thought that there was a chance that it would bounce back. I adjusted by running 3 rows down the aisle, thus 3 rows closer to the field.  Just as I thought, the ball landed on the steps, and bounced back over the moat wall, and was heading exactly towards me. The ball hit a the seat next to me and I picked it up.

The next picture should help visualize the play. The black lines indicate the moat wall. The red lines indicate aisles. The blue dot indicates where the ball bounced, and the blue square indicates where I picked up the ball. As you can see, there was no chance for me to catch the ball before it hit the ground because the wall was in the way. If the wall hadn’t been there I would’ve been able to easily catch the ball.

Here are the play-by-play scoring plays from the game:

  • In the top of the 3rd Kyle Seager doubled on a line drive to right field, Brendan Ryan and Franklin Gutierrez scored to make it a 2-0 game.
  • In the bottom of the 3rd Ben Revere hit a sac fly to center field. Jamey Carroll scored on the play. 2-1 game.
  • In the top of the 5th Dustin Ackley homered to right center field. Trayvon Robinson and Brendan Ryan scored. 5-1 game. (The home run ball bounced back onto the field and Revere threw it to Carroll, who threw it to Florimon, who threw it in front of the Twins dugout. The Twin’s bat boy walked over to pick up the ball and then he threw it to Tony!)
  • In the Bottom of the 9th inning Ryan Doumit doubled to left field. Josh Willingham scored on the play to make it a 5-2 game.

Mariners 5, Twins 2

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

SEA

0

0

2

0

3

0

0

0

0

5

9

0

MIN

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

4

1

When the game ended Mateo tried to get a ball from the umpire and I tried to get a ball from the bullpen players/coaches when they walked in.

I used my Mariners sign to get Coach Jamie Navarro’s attention. He had 3 balls in his hand, one of which he threw to me. This broke my single game record, which was: 6 baseballs, on 5-28-12. Here’s a picture of ball #7:

It was also my 30th career ball at Target Field.

After the Game Tony, Mateo, and I met up and talked about how the night went, and about attending future games together. Afterwards we said our goodbyes.

In the next picture the balls are in order from when I got them.

Left to right top row: Coach, Luetge, GM, BB,

Left to right bottom row: Smoak, foul ball, Coach Navarro

The next picture shows the shirt and sign that I made. Jaso and Thames signed the sign.

A Piece of The Game MVP:

It was a hard to decide who the MVP was considering that every ball (except for ball #2) was some kind of mini milestone.

Jamie Navarro, because by giving me one ball he helped me break my single game record. It was also my 30th career ball at Target Field.

Player of The Game:

Dustin Ackley.        Although he went 1-5, he really helped the Mariners win the game. His 1 hit was a 3 run homerun that made it a 5-1 game. If he hadn’t gotten any of those RBIs, then the Twins would’ve tied the game in the 9th inning.

Seattle

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

LOB

AVG

Ackley, 2B

5

1

1

3

0

1

3

.233

I mentioned that every ball was some kind of mini milestone so I thought I would list them.

Ball #1 – first career ball from the Mariners

Ball #2 – nothing that I can think of

Ball #3 – first career ball from a GM

Ball #5 – first career game used 3rd out ball

Ball #6 – first career foul ball

Ball #7 – 30th career ball at Target Field.

I really made a huge haul: 7 new baseballs, 2 new autographs, and 2 new friends.

Again, it was great to meet you Tony and Mateo, definitely had a great time with you.

My next game with be on September 14th at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals host the Angels. It should be a good game.

  • 7 balls at this game
  • 31 balls in 8 games this season = Avg. 3.875 balls per game
  • 8 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
  • 8 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
  • 2 consecutive games with at least 3 balls
  • 9 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
  • 7 consecutive Twins home games with at least 2 balls
  • Gotten at least 1 ball from 10 different teams
  • 34 total balls

12 Comments

Wow, would not have guessed Lucas Luetge from that photo and the photos available on MLB.com (I guess they aren’t that recent and he has let his hair grow out).
I’ve said this a few times, but it was a great deal of fun meeting you and Mateo, hopefully we can cross paths a time or two next season. I’ll be on the look out for your Kansas City story and then 2013. Are you going to do the Early Bird Tour and get in early in KC? I’d recommend that as well as visiting the Negro League Baseball Museum (as you could tell from my post from this year’s KC trip).
I’m glad you set a new personal best AND got a few autographs. You were a machine! I count those 3rd out toss-ups as gamers, since they do get used in the game. I just mark them as “Toss-Up Gamers”, where as your Ackley one is more of a traditional gamer.
Happy hawking in KC!
(You may want to change A.J. Burnett to Alex Burnett. Silly guys both being named A. Burnett, what were their parents thinking?!)

I actually didn’t know it was Lucas Luetge at first. I sent a photo of him to Mateo and Mateo helped me out.
I AM going to buy tickets for the early bird tour, although i’m not completely sure if i’ll get to Kauffman Stadium on time (my family takes kind of a long time when we travel. I personaly like taking less time on the road.) I have heard that the Negro League Museum is very nice, I will definately check it out on your blog. Thanks for the correction on A. Burnett’s name.

Looks like a nice time. Wish I could make it out to some parks and just get away. 7’s a solid number too. I can’t put my finger on who that coach is.
– Chris

http://ballhawker.wordpress.com/

Thanks Chris. The coach looks a little bit like Carl Willis, but im still not convinced.
You’ll have to let me know when you plan to come to Target Field and Miller Park next year. I’ll probably beable to come to one or the other. Until then, good luck in NYC.
-Paul

The maps are amazing and I love the detail and visualization. I now see what the posterboard was for. You’ll have to teach me how you edit the photos. Great work!!!

Thank you! Next time you come over I can show you how to edit pictures. I’m sure you’ll learn very quickly!
-Paul

Pingback: 8/28/12 Mariners at Twins: Target Field « Observing Baseball

Wow, I completely forgot that i never commented on this entry before. I guess I just forgot due to the fact that I had never even heard of Tony’s blog before we met at the game. Anyway, I’ll map it up with a “real” comment on the entry from tomorrow’s game.
-Mateo

http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

It is all alright. I’ll post a new entry at 3:00 today. Im looking forward to reading your post from the game.
-Paul

Pingback: Now you see it, now you don’t! « A Piece of The Game

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The coach you’re wondering about is Scott Budner…a bullpen coach and batting practice pitcher.

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