Twins 2015 Winter Caravan

The Twins Winter Caravan visited Rochester on Wednesday, January 21 at the Kahler Apache hotel. Brian Duensing, Brian Dozier, Phil Hughes, Jack Morris and Dick Bremer all made the trip down to Rochester.

The event started off with a 2014 Twins highlight video that assessed each player individually. The video was interesting, but it got a bit long after a while. It did a great job in showing the talent that our farm system has! Following the video, Dick Bremer started a round of Q&A with each of the Twins’ members. Each answered Bremer’s questions, and then answered any questions that the audience had for them.

After some raffle prizes were given away, we were able to get in line for autographs.

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Left to Right: T.C. Bear, Jack Morris, Brian Dozier, Brian Duensing and Phil Hughes.

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Left to Right: T.C. Bear, Jack Morris, Brian Dozier, Brian Duensing and Phil Hughes.

Brian Dozier signed a ball that I had originally caught on the fly when he hit it during batting practice at Hammond Stadium on March 6th during spring training. The rest of them signed baseball cards that I brought with. Here’s a picture of everything signed:

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This is always a pretty short entry, but I still enjoy putting it together for each caravan. As far as I know, Morris, Duensing and Dozier had been on plenty of Caravans in years past. This year, however, was Phil Hughes’ first time taking part in one. It was nice to get to see some of the players before Spring Training gets underway. Go Twins!

The 2014 Extraordinary Compilation of Ballhawking Statistics

The 2014 baseball season was one that I won’t forget. To kick off the year I was able to attend a few Spring Training games in Florida. Amoung four games at Hammond Stadium and jetBlue Park, I caught 42 Baseballs and collected 10 autographs.

When the regular season rolled around I got off to a slow start. By the All-Star Break I had only collected 14 balls in five games (avg. of 2.8 per game). Speaking of the All-Star Break… What an experience!  If you missed out on my recaps then be sure to check out my entries from the Futures Game, Home Run Derby and of course, the All-Star Game. I snagged three commemorative Home Run Derby baseballs and collected a few other really cool souvenirs.

At the All-Star Game I literally witnessed history in the making. Mike Trout became only the third player to get multiple extra-base hits in an All-Star Game before turning 23. With his third inning single, Derek Jeter became only the sixth player in baseball history with 10 career singles in the All-Star Game. Jeter also became the oldest player with multiple hits in an All-Star Game. Yasiel Puig became only the second Dodgers player to strike out three times in an All-Star Game. Mike Trout also became the second player in ASG history to collect a triple, a double, and 2+ RBI in a single ASG. His booming performance helped earn him the ASG MVP.

After the All-Star Break I traveled to Wrigley Field for one game with Shawn Bosman and to Kauffman Stadium for two games with Mateo Fischer. Although this was my first time visiting Wrigley, I had visited Kauffman a few years back.

Heading into September I was averaging just 1.7 baseballs throughout 10 games, but thanks to a 39 ball month I was able to finish the year with an average of 3.29 balls in 17 games. The seven games that I attended during September are some of the most memorable games I’ve been to.

I saw the Twins win a lot this year. Not only did the Twins win nine of the 12 games I attended, but three of them were walk-off victories!

Game Log

This is a screen shot of my game log. I log each game with its date, start time, ballpark, teams, scores, attendance, temperature, wind, and balls collected. It’s not very visible now, but the photo will expand if you click on it.

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You might have noticed there are a few games that are in bold. If something is in bold then it means I didn’t count that game towards ballhawking. I have reasons for doing so, and I’d be more than happy to explain them if you’d like to know. All of my ballhawking stats reflect the games that aren’t in bold.

The Numbers

Number of Baseballs in 2014:

  • Total: 88
  • Spring Training: 32
  • Regular Season: 56
  • Post Season: N/A

Stats in this entry will reflect the Regular Season total of 56 baseballs.

Season Summary

Overall Season Summary:

  • Total Baseballs: 56
  • Games Attended: 17
  • Average Balls/Game: 3.29
  • Game Balls: 5
  • Most Ball in one Game: 9

Statistical Breakdown

Number of Baseballs by Month and Day:

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Number of Baseballs by Time Frame:

  • BP/Pre-game: 39
  • During Game: 10
  • Post-Game: 7

Number of Baseballs by Location:

Snag Tracker is courtesy of Mygameballs.com . Go check out the website if you have not already!

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Number of Baseballs by Method:

  • Hit Balls: 12
  • Thrown Balls: 43
  • Easter Eggs: 1

Number of baseballs by League:

  • American League Balls: 48
  • National League Balls: 4
  • Umpire Balls: 4

Number of Baseballs by Team:

  • AL All-Stars: 2
  • Diamondbacks: 3
  • Indians: 3
  • NL All-Stars: 1
  • Rangers: 4
  • Royals: 1
  • Tigers: 1
  • Twins: 35
  • Umpires: 4
  • White Sox: 2

Number of Baseballs by Player:

  • 6 Balls: Dominique (BB)
  • 5 Balls: Twins Reps
  • 4 Balls: N/A
  • 3 Balls: Armando Camacaro (Coach), Oswaldo Arcia, Unknown Diamondbacks Players
  • 2 Balls: Ben Richardson (Bullpen Catcher), Chris Parmelee, Stadium Employees, Unknown Rangers Players, Unknown Twins Players
  • 1 Ball: Aaron Thompson, Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, Casey Fien, Chris Herrmann, David Price, Eduardo Nunez, Josh Willingham, Kaz Uehara (Koji Uehara’s son), Kurt Suzuki, Kyle Gibson, Lester Oliveros, Lorenzo Cain, Phil Hughes, Ron Gardenhire, Trevor Plouffe, Tyson Ross, Umpire Brian Knight, Umpire Cory Blaser, Umpire Phil Cuzzi, Unknown Rangers Coach, Unknown Tigers Player, Unknown White Sox Bullpen Coach, Unknown White Sox Player

 Wins vs. Losses

(“Wins vs. Losses” accounts for 16/17 games that I attended in 2014. The Home Run Derby was excluded from “Wins vs. Losses” because the winner of the Derby is an individual player, not a team.)

Home Team Record: (10-6)

Total Score: Visitors – 53 to Home – 75

Average Score: Visitors – 3.5 to Home – 4.68

Average Score when home team…

  • Wins: 2.7 – 6.2
  • Loses: 4.33 – 2.16

Total number of baseballs collected when home team…

  • Wins: 36
  • Loses: 19

Average baseballs/game when the home team…

  • Wins: 3.6
  • Loses: 3.16

Minnesota Twins Record: (9-3)

Total Score: Visitors – 38 to Twins – 62

Average Score: Visitors – 3.17 to Twins – 5.17

Average score when the Twins…

  • Win: 2.67 – 6.33
  • Lose: 4.67 – 1.67

Total number of baseballs collected when the Twins…

  • Win: 34
  • Lose: 19

Average baseballs/game when the Twins…

  • Win: 3.78
  • Lose: 6.3

Attendance Figures

Total Attendance:

  • Target Field (14 Games): 400,553
  • Kauffman Stadium (2 Games): 74,098
  • Wrigley Field (1 Game): 30,541
  • Overall (17 Games): 505,192

Average Attendance:

  • Target Field (14 Games): 28,611
  • Kauffman Stadium (2 Games): 37,049
  • Wrigley Field (1 Game): 30,541
  • Overall (17 Games): 29,717

Total Baseballs by Attendance:

  • 20,000-29,999: 51
  • 30,000-39,999: 2
  • 40,000 – 49,999: 3

Average Baseballs/Game by Attendance:

  • 20,000-29,999: 5
  • 30,000-39,999: 0.4
  • 40,000 – 49,000: 1.5

Temperature

Average attendance by Temperature:

  • 30-39 degrees: N/A
  • 40-49 degrees: N/A
  • 50-59 degrees: N/A
  • 60-69 degrees: 25
  • 70-79 degrees: 30
  • 80-89 degrees: 1
  • 90-99 degrees: 0

Average baseballs/game by Temperature:

  • 30-39 degrees: N/A
  • 40-49 degrees: N/A
  • 50-59 degrees: N/A
  • 60-69 degrees: 3.57
  • 70-79 degrees: 4.29
  • 80-89 degrees: 0.5
  • 90-99 degrees: 0

Autographs

Number of Autographs/Player:

  • At Twins Caravan: 4
  • At TwinsFest: 1
  • At the Ballpark: 40

Aaron Thompson, Alex Meyer, Alex Presley (x2), Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, Caleb Thielbar, Casey Fien, Christopher Acosta, Danny Santana, DiDi Gregorius, Ender Inciarte, Henry Ramos, Javier Guerra, Joe Paterson, Jordan Schafer, Jose Vinicio, Josmil Pinto, Kennys Vargas (x2), Kevin Correia, Kyle Gibson, Lester Oliveros (x2), Logan Darnell, Mark the Beer Guy (x2), Matthew Price, Miguel Sano, Mookie Betts, Paul Molitor (x2), Pedro Florimon, Reed Gragnini, Ryan Pressly, Tony Oliva, Trevor May, Trevor Plouffe, Trey Ball, Unknown Red Sox Player (x2), Vance Worley, Zack Walters (x2), and Zeke Spruill.

Time spent at the Ballpark

Length of a Game:

(This stat only accounts for the official game time. This does not include the time spent at batting practice or after the game. Also, does not include Home Run Derby because I was unable to determine the length of the Derby.)

  • Total Game Time: 51 hours & 16 minutes
  • Average Time/Game: 3 hours & 12 minutes

Means of Transportation:

Vehicles Used:

  • 10 Games: 2006 Chevy Aveo
  • 1 Game:
    • 2014 Chevy Malibu
    • Chevy Cavalier

Parking:

  • 12 Games: Parked somewhere else and rode the light rail to the stadium.
  • 5 Games: Parked in parking garage or parking lot next to Stadium.

So, not bad! I know some of these stats are random and useless, but most of them are relevant. I didn’t add any new types of statistics to this entry since last year but I did filter out some of the pointless stats that were in last years version. This year it was a bit more difficult to put this entry together because I caught less baseballs than last year. Hopefully I’ll catch a few more balls next year so I can add a bit more variety in next year’s stats entry!

2015 Fan Fests of the AL Central Division

Over the last few years I have annually posted an entry about the upcoming Fan Fests that will be hosted by the teams in the AL Central Division. If you’d like to see last year’s entry, click here. This is the entry for 2015.

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Date: January 23-25, 2015

Hours: Hours have not yet been announced.

Location:

Hilton Chicago

720 South Michigan Avenue

Chicago, Illinois, 60605

Parking: Hotel Parking

Admission Ticket Pricing:

  • Single Day Passes:
  • Weekend Passes: $40 for adults, $20 for children 13 & under. 3 & under are free of charge.

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND

Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, “El Duque” Orlando Hernandez, Bobby Jenks, Geoff Blum, Joe Crede, Tadahito Iguchi, Scott Podsednik, Aaron Rowand, Jose Abreu, John Danks, Zach Duke, Adam Eaton, Tyler Flowers, Avisail Garcia, Conor Gillaspie, Dan Jennings, Jake Petricka, Jose Quintana, Alexei Ramirez, David Robertson, Jeff Samardzija, Don Cooper, Todd Steverson, Herold Baines, Robin Ventura, Tim Anderson, Courtney Hawkins, Micah Johnson, Carlos Rodon, Bo Jackson, Ron Kittle, Carlos May, Bill Melton, Minnie Minoso and Billy Pierce.

Fan Activities Include:

  • Player Autograph Stations
  • Player Photo Stations
  • SoxFest Garage Sale
  • Additional activities are also in store for SoxFest.

Autograph Voucher Pricing: Included in admission price

Things that have improved from last year:

  • The White Sox lowered the price for a weekend pass by 45% compared to last year.
  • Although not confirmed, it seems as if SoxFest will offer more activities to fans.

If I was the GM I would…

  • Make it mandatory for the 40-man roster to attend SoxFest.
  • Donate a part of the proceeds to charity.

My Overall Grade of SoxFest LAST YEAR: B-

My Overall Grade of SoxFest THIS YEAR: B

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Date: January 24-25, 2015

Hours:

  • Period 1: Saturday, Jan 24, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Period 2: Saturday, Jan 24, 4-8 p.m.
  • Period 3: Sunday, Jan 25, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Location:

Progressive Field

2401 Ontario Street

Cleveland, OH 44115

Parking: “A limited number – due to a Monsters home game on Saturday night and a Cavs home game on Sunday afternoon — of $3 parking spots will be available in the Gateway East Garage. Those parking passes can be purchased online while fans purchase their event and autograph tickets. Fans are encouraged to purchase their Gateway East parking passes early, as supplies are limited.” – Indians.com

Admission Ticket Pricing: GA is $10 for adults and free for children 12 & under.

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND

Corey Kluber, Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Kipnis, Cody Allen, Mike Aviles, Trevor Bauer, Michael Bourn, Lonnie Chisenhall, TJ House, Roberto Perez, Jose Ramirez, Marc Rzepczynski, Danny Salazar, Carlos Santana, Bryan Shaw and Nick Swisher.

Additional TribeFest 2015 participants will be announced at a later date.

Fan Activities Include:

  • Player Autographs
  • Kids’ Activities
  • Batting Cages
  • Clubhouse Tours
  • Q&As with Tribe Broadcasters and Players

Autograph Information:

  • “Fans can guarantee an autograph by purchasing an Autograph Ticket. Autograph tickets much be purchased IN ADDITION to a General Admission ticket. You will be allowed to select which autograph session you’d like to attend within your Tribe Fest event. In order to maximize the amount of fans able to experience each autograph session at Tribe Fest, the purchase of autograph tickets has been limited to four per autograph session per transaction. Additionally, only one autograph session ticket per person will be honored at each autograph station.” – Indians.com
  • “Fans can purchase an Autograph Ticket in two different tiers: Indians Alumni or Roster Player. These sessions will take place at an assigned time, and fans are encouraged to ARRIVE EARLY for these sessions. There is a cap of 250 fans per session, and each session will be closed once all tickets are sold.” – Indians.com
  • “Anyone holding an autograph ticket is guaranteed to receive at least one autograph, but specific players and alumni are not guaranteed. Player assignments will not be determined in advance, and are subject to change.” – Indians.com

Things that have improved since last year:

  • Last year children were $5 at the door. This year they’re free.
  • It seems like the Indians made it easier for fans to obtain autographs since last year. I still don’t like the autograph system, but it’s a bit better from last year.

If I was the GM I would…

  • Improve how the autograph tickets & sessions are set up.
    • The way the Indians have it set up now is unorganized and way more complicated than it needs to be.
    • I would model TribeFest autograph sessions after the Twins’ autograph sessions.
  • Make it mandatory for the 40-man roster to attend TribeFest.

My Overall Grade of Tribe Fest LAST YEAR: C+

My Overall Grade of Tribe Fest THIS YEAR: B

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Date: January 24, 2015

Hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location:

Comerica Park

2100 Woodward Avenue

Detroit, MI 48201-3470

Parking: There are numerous other privately owned parking facilities within a 5-20 minute walk of Comerica Park.

Admission Ticket Pricing:  $28 for adults, $14 for kids 12 & under

*Tickets are sold out.*

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND: Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez will be among over 30 Tigers players and coaches who scheduled to appear. The Tigers have not yet released the 2015 appearance schedule.

Fan Activities Include:

  • Autograph Booths
  • Fantasy Play-by-Play Broadcast
  • Main stages will host Q & A sessions and seminars.
  • Player Photos
  • Clubhouse Tours
  • Dugout Tours
  • Self-guided Tours
  • Display of historical baseball artifacts
  • Batting Practice in the cage
  • Detroit Tigers ice sculptures & LIVE sculpting demonstrations
  • David Chandler will operate an authentic bat lathe & provide LIVE bat carving demonstrations.
  • Detroit Tigers Authentics
  • Tigers Foundation Fire Sale.

The Detroit Tigers Kids Zone featuring:

  • Kids-Only Autograph Booth.
  • Miniature Comerica Park Stage
  • Free face painting and caricatures.
  • Baseball-themed games and activities for kids.
  • Video Game Bullpen.
  • Official 2015 Kids Club enrollment.

Autograph Voucher Pricing: The Tigers have not yet released this information. Autograph Prices will most likely not be included in price of general admission.

Things that have improved since last year:

  • All fans attending will receive a free TigerFest beanie style hat, courtesy of 97.1 FM The Ticket.
  • New activity: Fantasy play-by-play broadcast

If I was the GM I would…

  • Turn TigersFest into a weekend event. The one day event is already sold out this year. Instead of hosting TigersFest on Saturday only, host it from Friday to Sunday.
  • Lower the price of admission from $28

My Overall Grade of TigerFest LAST YEAR: A

My Overall Grade of TigerFest THIS YEAR: A

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Date: January 30-31, 2015

Hours:

  • Friday, January 30
    • 12-2 p.m. Exclusive access for Season Ticket Holders
    • 2-9 p.m. Open to all fans
  • Saturday, January 31
    • 9-11 a.m. Exclusive access for Season Ticket Holders
    • 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Open to all fans

Location:

Bartle Hall at the Kansas City Convention Center

301 W 13th St #100

Kansas City, MO 64105

Parking: There are many parking options close to Bartle Hall

Admission Ticket Pricing:

  • In Advance:
    • 1 Day Pass: Adult – $14; Youth – $8
    • 2 Day Pass: Adult – $20; Youth – $11
  • Day of Sale:
    • 1 Day Pass: Adult – $16; Youth – $10
    • 2 Day Pass: Adult – $22; Youth – $14

Youth prices are for children ages 6-17. Children five and under will be admitted for free.

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND:

Lane Adams, Willie Aikens, Jaime Bluma, George Brett ^, Lorenzo Cain, Louis Coleman, Christian Colon, Wade Davis, Brandon Finnegan, Al Fitzmorris, Joel Goldberg, Alex Gordon, Terrance Gore#, Jeremy Guthrie, Shane Halter, Luke Hochevar, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, Rex Hudler#, Ryan Lefebvre, Dennis Leonard, Mike Macfarlane, Denny Matthews, John Mayberry, Brian McRae, Kris Medlen*, Kendrys Morales, Mike Moustakas, Dayton Moore, Les Norman, Marty Pattin, Bill Pecota, Salvador Perez, Steve Physioc, Greg Pryor, Jamie Quirk, Shawn Sedlacek, Steve Stewart, Jerry Terrell, John Wathan, Willie Wilson, Yordano Ventura,Edinson Volquez, and Ned Yost.

^ Royals Awards only, * Friday only, # Saturday only (As of January 16th, 2015)

Fan Activities Include:

  • Player Autograph Sessions
  • Player Photo Sessions
  • Commerce Bank Main Stage
  • Teva Royals Diamond
  • Interactive games for children
    • Accuracy Pitch
    • Bunting Challenge
    • Batting Cages
    • Little Sluggerrr’s Playground
    • Speed Pitch
    • Steal Home Challenge
    • Video Baseball Simulator
  • Majestic Team Store & Authentics
  • Royals Charities Silent Auction
  • Royals Charities 50/50 Raffle

Autograph Voucher Pricing: The Royals have not released this information.

Things that have improved since last year:

  • According to Royals.com, RoyalsFest 2015 has a heavy focus on what fans have requested in the past – autographs.

If I was the GM I would…

  • Schedule Royals FanFest for the whole weekend instead of just Friday and Saturday.
  • Prior to the event, publically announce which team members are scheduled to attend FanFest, and how much money autographs will cost.

My Overall Grade of Royals FanFest LAST YEAR: B+

My Overall Grade of Royals FanFest THIS YEAR: B+

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Date: January 23-25, 2015

Time: Friday: 4:00-9:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Location:

Target Field

1 Twins Way

Minneapolis, MN

Parking: There are numerous parking garages around Target Field. Multiple public transit options are also available.

Admission Ticket Pricing: Adults: $20; Kids (14 and under): $10

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND:

  • Friday, Jan. 23:
    A.J. Achter, Neil Allen, Oswaldo Arcia, J.O. Berrios, Bert Blyleven, Tom Brunansky, Byron Buxton, Rod Carew, Logan Darnell, Butch Davis, Brian Dozier, Brian Duensing, Tyler Duffey, Eduardo Escobar, Casey Fien, Eric Fryer, Kyle Gibson, Dan Gladden, Gene Glynn, Nick Gordon, JR Graham, Nate Hanson, Mark Hamburger, BJ Hermsen, Aaron Hicks, Kent Hrbek, Phil Hughes, Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Corey Koskie, Mike Kvasnicka, Gene Larkin, Joe Mauer, Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone, Paul Molitor, Max Murphy, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Parmelee, Mike Pelfrey, Brandon Peterson, Glen Perkins, Trevor Plouffe, Jorge Polanco, Ryan Pressly, Stephen Pryor, Eddie Rosario, Taylor Rogers, Miguel Sano, Danny Santana, Ervin Santana, Jordan Schafer, Roy Smalley, Blake Schmit, Kurt Suzuki, Caleb Thielbar, Michael Tonkin, Kennys Vargas, Joe Vavra, Tanner Vavra, Treysen Vavra, and Jason Wheeler.
  • Saturday, Jan. 24:
    A.J. Achter, Neil Allen, Oswaldo Arcia, J.O. Berrios, Bert Blyleven, Tom Brunansky, Byron Buxton, Rod Carew, Logan Darnell, Butch Davis, Brian Dozier, Brian Duensing, Tyler Duffey, Eduardo Escobar, Casey Fien, Eric Fryer, Kyle Gibson, Dan Gladden, Gene Glynn, Nick Gordon, JR Graham, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Nate Hanson, Mark Hamburger, BJ Hermsen, Aaron Hicks, Phil Hughes, Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Corey Koskie, Mike Kvasnicka, Tim Laudner, Joe Mauer, Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone, Paul Molitor, Max Murphy, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Parmelee, Mike Pelfrey, Brandon Peterson, Glen Perkins, Trevor Plouffe, Jorge Polanco, Ryan Pressly, Stephen Pryor, Eddie Rosario, Taylor Rogers, Miguel Sano, Danny Santana, Ervin Santana, Jordan Schafer, Blake Schmit, Kurt Suzuki, Caleb Thielbar, Michael Tonkin, Kennys Vargas, Joe Vavra, Tanner Vavra, Treysen Vavra, and Jason Wheeler.
  • Sunday, Jan. 25:
    A.J. Achter, Neil Allen, Oswaldo Arcia, Tom Brunansky, Byron Buxton, Rod Carew, Logan Darnell, Butch Davis, Brian Dozier, Tyler Duffey, Eduardo Escobar, Casey Fien, Eric Fryer, Kyle Gibson, Nick Gordon, JR Graham, Nate Hanson, Mark Hamburger, BJ Hermsen, Aaron Hicks, Phil Hughes, Torii Hunter, Mike Kvasnicka, Joe Mauer, Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone, Paul Molitor, Max Murphy, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Parmelee, Mike Pelfrey, Brandon Peterson, Glen Perkins, Trevor Plouffe, Jorge Polanco, Ryan Pressly, Stephen Pryor, Frank Quillici, Brian Raabe, Eddie Rosario, Taylor Rogers, Miguel Sano, Danny Santana, Ervin Santana, Jordan Schafer, Blake Schmit, Kurt Suzuki, Caleb Thielbar, Michael Tonkin, and Jason Wheeler.

Fan Activities Include:

  • Auctions
  • Player Autographs
  • Player Photo Sessions
  • Sports Memorabilia and Collector’s Show
  • Self-Guided Clubhouse Tours
  • Twins Yard Sale
  • BINGO
  • Reading with Twins mascot TC
  • Fan Feud
  • Special Panel Discussions
  • Boardwalk-style Amusements
  • Behind-the-scenes Fan Experiences
  • 10th Annual Diamond Awards

Autograph Voucher Pricing: There are multiple autograph stations spread out through Target Field. You pay “x” amount of dollars to get everyone’s signature who is in the station.

Things that have improved since last year:

  • The Twins have added a few new fan activities.

If I was the GM I would…

  • Lower the Admission price from $20.

My Overall Grading LAST YEAR: A

My Overall Grading THIS YEAR: A

Twins 2015 Winter Caravan Preview

During the next few weeks the Minnesota Twins’ Winter Caravan is scheduled to visit more than 40 communities across Minnesota, Iowa, and North & South Dakota. Here is an excerpt from the Twins website:

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, Dick Bremer, Dan Gladden, Cory Provus and Kris Atteberry.

Preliminary 2015 Twins Winter Caravan routes and personalities are below (schedule and players are subject to change). Specific times and locations within those communities will be announced in the coming weeks on this page.”

2014 Twins Winter Caravan Schedule

This year, there are two groups that will cover two different Routes over the course of two weeks. The first week will run from January 12-15 while the second week will run from January 19-22.

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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 caravan. If i go this year, then I’ll get to see Brian Duensing, Brian Dozier, Phil Hughes, Jack Morris and Dick Bremer when they stop in Rochester on January 21st. I’ll be sure to post an entry about it afterwards.

2014 In Review

The year is almost over! A lot has happened during the last year so lets take a look back on ‘A Piece of The Game’!

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2014 Annual Report

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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List of Firsts

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2014 Goals

1. Attend 1 MLB game outside of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri.

  • Yes. I attended a game at Wrigley Field on August 21st, 2014.

2. Have an avg. of at least 4.5 baseballs per game.

  • No. I maintained an average of 3.29 baseballs per game.

3. Snag each type of 2014 commemorative baseball.

  • No. I was able to catch three Home Run Derby commemoratives, but i didn’t come close to any others.

4. Catch at least 1 Game Home Run.

  • No. At least I was 0/0 instead of 0/1 or something like that.

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2015 Goals

1. Visit 2 new Major League Baseball Stadiums.

2. Attend one Post-Season Game.

3. Catch at least 1 Game Home Run.

4. Catch at least 10 baseballs in every  Ballpark that I visit (Yearly Total).

5. Catch at least 30 baseballs in at least 2 different Ballparks (Yearly Total).

6. Maintain an Average of 4.0 baseballs per Game.

7. Publish new entries within 48 of attending each game.

8. Grow to 350 Blog followers. Currently at 264.

9. Spend an average of $12 or less per ticket (Yearly Average).

10. Only buy ballpark food if it is dollar day.

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D-backs vs. Twins @ Target Field (09-24-14)

I didn’t plan to attend this game, but since I was in Minneapolis I figured I might as well go to it since it would be my last chance until next season. When Tony and I met at Gate 34 around 9:00, it finally sunk in that this was it.

We hung around gate 34 for a bit and then I spotted Didi Gregorius and Ender Inciarte as they were approaching the stadium. I already knew that Didi would turn me down again today, but I walked up to them already knowing what I was going to say. I was still mad about how cocky he acted towards the little boy the previous night. I got up to him and said, “Didi, could you please sign my ball?” Just like last night, they kept walking and acted as if I wasn’t there. I caught up to them and in a much different tone I said, “Last night you crushed a five-year old boy by telling him that you don’t sign autographs after a loss. Today is a new day, now will you sign this ball?!”. Just like that he stopped and turned towards me. I could see from the look on his face that he was furious, but he signed the ball and stormed off. HAH! It was HILARIOUS.

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This was the same ball that was signed by the Diamondback players yesterday night. This ball now had the signatures of Joe Paterson, Zeke Spruill, Didi Gregorius and Ender Inciarte.

When the gates opened at 10:30 I lined up behind Kyle Gibson and Nate Dammann as they played catch:

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When they finished, Kyle threw the ball to me:

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Moments later, Logan Darnell and Ben Richardson wandered out to play catch. Logan Darnell signed an autograph for me on the ball that Schafer and Pinto had signed last night:

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It was only a few minutes later when Lester Oliveros and Aaron Thompson finished playing catch. Aaron Thompson tossed the ball to me, then they both walked over to sign it as well:

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You can see Lester Oliveros in the background of the previous picture. After he signed the ball for me he started doing some sprints in the outfield. After taking that picture I moved a section closer to home plate because that’s where Trevor May was playing catch. He tossed the ball to someone else, but I still got his autograph when I asked if he would sign few autographs:

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Trevor also signed the ball from the previous night.

It was a bit strange how smoothly everything was going. After only being in the stadium for 10 minutes I had already gotten two baseballs and four autographs (six if you count the two outside the stadium). I expected it to stop, but it just kept on going!

I got my third ball from Brian Duensing when he and Ben Richardson finished playing catch. It sure was a beauty:

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I expected Brian to leave the field right away, but he stuck around to sign autographs for a long line of fans. He eventually made his way down to me and I was able to thank him up close for the ball he had thrown to me. Brian also signed for me, but I had him sign the ball from the other night:

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By 11:00 o’clock I was one ball shy of reaching a ballhawking milestone. Including spring training baseballs, I was sitting at 199 baseballs. At 11:06, Anthony Swarzak finished up with Nate Dammann and threw me my 200th baseball Here’s what happened next:

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Wow. Everything was going my way today. I couldn’t believe it!

As the game drew near, I met up with Tony at the Twins’ dugout. From here, things continued to go both of our ways. Tony got a few baseballs and we each got a few more autographs. The first was from Ryan Pressley:

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Pressley also signed the ball from the previous night. That ball now contained the signatures of Jordan Schafer, Josmil Pinto, Logan Darnell, Trevor May, Brian Duensing and Ryan Pressley.

Next, I was able to get Trevor Plouffe’s autograph:

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You know what’s cool about this ball? I had originally caught this ball on the fly when Trevor Plouffe hit it during batting practice at Hammond Stadium on March 6th during spring training. It took 6 months, but I finally got it signed by him!

The final autograph that I got was from my All-Time favorite baseball player, Paul Molitor:

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Molitor signed the ball I had gotten earlier from Kyle Gibson. This was the fourth time I’d been able to get The Ignitor’s autograph. This would be the last autograph of the season for me. Coincidentally, he also signed my first autograph of the year.

Dominique hooked me up with my fifth ball of the day. This one was from the ball bag:

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Thanks a lot Dom! That was it for pregame, lets go to the game!

Phil Hughes took the mound for Minnesota, as did Vidal Nuno for Arizona. The Twins got off to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Kurt Suzuki walked with the bases loaded. The Twins scored again in the second inning when Trevor Plouffe hit a sac fly to center field.

A.J. Pollock stole third base during the sixth inning and Trevor Plouffe, while tagging Pollock, broke his forearm. He was immediately taken out of the game and it was clear that he was done for the remaining four games of the season.

David Peralta then hit a sac fly and A.J. Pollock scored from third.

My next ball was also from Dominique:

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Randall Delgado was pitching to Eduardo Escobar with 1 out in bottom of the 7th inning. With an 0-2 count, Randall threw a 76 mph curveball in the dirt. Bobby Wilson tossed it to Dominique and Dominique tossed it to me.

Did you see that it was raining? This made it easier to get baseballs because more and more baseballs were getting to dirty to reuse.

My seventh ball was thrown to me by Ron Gardenhire:

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It’s not a very good picture, but that’s alright. This was the ball that the Twins used for their eighth inning infield warm ups. The ball had gotten dirty enough that when Vargas threw it to Ron Gardenhire, Gardenhire just relayed it to me.

Phil Hughes was pitching to Jake Lamb with 2 outs in top of 8th inning. Hughes worked a 1-2 count and then threw a called strike to Lamb to end the inning. Kurt Suzuki rushed to the dugout and to my surprise hooked me up with the ball! This was Phil Hughes’ 842nd career strike out, and his 186th of this season. With that strikeout Hughes set a new single season Major League record for Strike-Out to Walk Ratio (his ratio was 11.63 : 1.00) for pitchers with a qualifying amount of innings. Immediately after getting the ball from Suzuki, everyone around me began telling me, “Give it to the little girl!” Without thinking about the significance of this baseball, I gave it away before I thought about swapping it out with another ball. This was the ball that Phil Hughes used to set a Major League Record and I accidentally gave it away to someone who doesn’t have a clue of its significance!

I do not have a picture of the ball to prove that this happened, but there were plenty of witnesses. Tony Voda can vouch for me because he saw the whole thing.

The game resumed after an hour and five-minute rain delay, and the Twins ended up winning 2-1. Here’s the recap from the game:

After the game I got my ninth and final ball from Casey Fien. This was also directly from the ball bag:

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I would’ve reached double digits, but when Dominique threw me what would’ve been, someone jumped in front of me to catch the ball.  I’m not complaining, i’m just thinking about what could’ve been. Not many people reach double digits without batting practice. I was so close to doing something that so few can say they did.

Here’s the final haul:

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The first eight baseballs pictured were from today, and the other three I brought for autographs. There were eight baseballs pictured because I gave one away. This was the first time I’d been to all three games of a series. From this series I totaled 17 baseballs and 16 autographs. That was a great way to end the season!

D-backs vs. Twins @ Target Field (09-23-14)

This was the second game of the D-backs/Twins series. I’d gone to back to back games six different times last year, and this was my sixth time doing it this year. I was pumped when I snagged this ball before the games even opened:

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The ball was hit by a Twins player who I couldn’t identify. It bounced a few times on the plaza before it reached the gate where I was able to snatch it up.

When the gates opened I headed toward the seats in right field. I snagged one ball during the Twins portion of batting practice. I was on the Aisle of section 136 and 137 when Chris Herrmann hit a ball near me. After maneuvering my way to the middle of section 136, I caught this on the fly:

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When the Diamondbacks took the field I moved to the left field bleachers. During yesterday’s batting practice I noticed that even though the home runs were scarce, there were 2 or 3 guys who consistently hit to left field. Similar to yesterday, there weren’t many home runs hit, but I was still able to come away with one ball:

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I’m not sure who hit it, but it landed in the second row of the bleachers. I wasn’t able to catch it on the fly because there was an overly aggressive guy who pushed me out of the way on a few occasions. I almost told security but I didn’t want to miss out on any chances to get another ball. It’s ironic because either way I would’ve missed out on baseballs. I missed out on two baseballs because of this guy. The first time he pushed me out of the way so he could catch a homerun instead. The other time he literally fell on top of me, then crawled over me to pick up the ball. Can a baseball really be worth that much to some people?!

Before the game started Dominique hooked me up with another ball from the ball bag. Just like yesterday, I didn’t even ask him for a ball. Thanks Dominique!

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Kyle Gibson and Andrew Chafin faced off against each other on the mound. Joe Mauer got plunked on his right arm in the first inning and left the game in the second inning due to elbow contusion. The Twins started things off by scoring three runs in the second inning. The Diamondbacks scored in the fourth inning but by the end of eighth inning the Twins were ahead, 6-2.

Instead of going for an umpire ball after the game I decided to try my luck at the Twins dugout. This was my view when the ninth inning started:

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I didn’t snag a baseball, but I got a neat picture with seven members of the coaching staff in it:

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Here are the highlights:

This was the eighth win I had seen from the Twins in 11 games this year.

After the game I decided to stick around incase there was a chance to see Kennys Vargas outside the stadium again. As I was waiting I began to spot some of the Diamondback players leaving Target Field. Joe Paterson and Zeke Spruill both signed on the ball i’d gotten during the Diamondbacks portion of batting practice:

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There were a few other Diamondback players who walked past, but I didn’t recognize them enough to get their autographs. I also recognized Jordan Schafer and Josmil Pinto as they walked past. They were both friendly enough to stop to sign an autograph. They signed the ball that Chris Herrmann hit during the Twins portion of batting practice:

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These four guys were awesome. They all took a few minutes to sign autographs for the small group of people who were waiting. I could tell that a few of them would’ve rather not signed, but they were still cool about it. The only player that I had a problem with was Didi Gregorius. When he and Ender Inciarte exited the stadium, they ignored everyone as they walked past and acted as if no one was there. I wasn’t upset because I knew that sometimes players don’t like to sign after games. I did get angry, though, when he told a five year old boy, “I don’t sign after losses.” This boy had chased after Didi to get his autograph and then he was crushed when Didi turned him down. What kind of stuck up player does that?! Didi Gregorius does.

After 45 minutes had passed I was about to leave, but then I spotted Kennys Vargas at the same place I saw him the day before. When he finished speaking with the guys he was with, I said hello. Like the night before, he seemed happy that I recognized him on the street and he kept up a conversation with me. We chatted for a few minutes and then he signed a ball and took a picture with me:

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I’m already a huge Kennys Vargas fan! These are the baseballs that the players signed for me:

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Vargas signed ball #159 – a ball that was tossed to me by a diamondbacks player during batting practice yesterday. This was the final haul:

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This was a very solid day at the ballpark. It’s not that often when you get a handful of baseballs and then surpass that number with autographs.

D-backs vs. Twins @ Target Field (09-22-14)

This was it. This was the first game of the last series that the Twins would play at Target Field for the season. Here’s a cliché picture I took as I approached Target Field:

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It wasn’t to long after entering the stadium when I got a nice looking ball from Twins’ Ace, Phil Hughes:

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I got that ball, but missed out on a few others because (1) I wasn’t paying attention and (2) Waldo beat me to the others. When the Diamondbacks took the field for batting practice I quickly got a toss up from someone who I did not recognize. The ball was absolutely perfect. It was completely clean, there were no marks and all the print was lined up as well. I really wanted to keep it, but I gave it to the small child who was two rows in front of me. It seemed like a good thing to do.

The player must have seen me give the ball away because he called to get my attention and then threw another flawless gem to me:

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When the seats in right field started to fill up with people looking to get toss ups, I moved to left field because it would be easier to catch home runs where it was less crowded. This was the emptiest i’d seen Target Field in a long time. It was like a ghost town.

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It’s a shame that the Diamondbacks were so weak offensively because had they hit a few home runs to left field, I could’ve snagged a few more baseballs.

With batting practice in the books, I made my way to the Diamondbacks dugout. I was surprised to see Andrew Wiggins, who was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the first pick overall in the 2014 NBA draft, was hanging around the dugout:

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I concluded (and later confirmed) that he was here to throw the first pitch. I ended up moving over to the Twins dugout because Dominique had started to play catch with Andrew Wiggins and I wanted to get some pictures:

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When they finished playing catch Dominique saw me and we talked for a bit. He has got to be the coolest bat boy in all of Major League Baseball. When we finished talking he asked if I had snagged a ball yet. When I told him I had snagged a few already, he grabbed this game rubbed ball from the ball bag for me anyways:

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Both teams got off to a slow start, but the Twins finally scored a run in the 3rd inning when Chris Herrmann singled to right center field. The Twins couldn’t contain the Diamondbacks as they scored five runs off of five hits in the fifth inning. The Twins scored in the 7th, but the D-backs scored in the 8th. During the bottom of the 8th inning I was able to upgrade my seat:

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I’m impressed with how nice that picture turned out. It makes me wish Aaron Hicks was a better player.

Here’s the recap of the game:

Before heading out after the game, I stuck around for about 45 minutes to talk with some people I knew. When I finally  left the Target Field I ran into Kennys Vargas with his wife and child outside! I didn’t want to bother them by asking for an autograph so I just said hello as I was walking by. Kennys engaged in conversation and we chatted for a minute or two, but I still didn’t want to interrupt them so I continued on my way. He’s a nice guy.

Pics or it didn’t happen? They’re the ones with the stroller:

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Here’s the final picture (three pictured because I gave one away):

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Indians vs. Twins @ Target Field (09-20-14)

This was the second game of the series that took place over fan appreciation weekend. There was a lot that happened at this game so i’ll try to save you from all the details and just give you what’s important. Since it was a Saturday night game, the game would start at 6:10. When the gates opened at four o’clock I quickly got a ball from Oswaldo Arcia:

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With that, I snagged my only ball during the rest of batting practice. Not just the Twins portion, but that was it for all of batting practice. Oh, but my day was only beginning! As soon as the Indians left the field their bullpen catcher, Armando Camacaro, tossed these two balls to me:

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I thought that was really neat that he tossed two balls to me. After looking around for a bit I decided to give them both away. I gave one to a little girl near the dugout and I gave the other to an usher so that he could give it to a kid during the game.

Did you see the Indians player in the previous picture? That’s Zach Walters. Earlier this season he signed a ball for me at Kauffman Stadium, but it wasn’t an official major league baseball. This time I got an official ball signed:

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Maybe you couldn’t tell from the last picture, but by the end of batting practice there were storm clouds rolling in. It wasn’t to long before the heavens opened up. This caused an hour and ten minute rain delay before the game even started! When the rain stopped, the grounds crew went to work on the field:

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Shortly before the game started I made my way out to the standing room area above the bullpen. One of the Twins bullpen catchers, Ben Richardson, retrieved two baseballs to throw to me and the guy next to me. Ben tossed the first ball to the guy next to me, but the guy dropped it. Look where the ball ended up:

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Ben would’ve thrown the ball back up, but there was no second chance because the ball was stuck on the beam. It would’ve been easy to get the ball if I would’ve had an umbrella but it was nearly impossible otherwise. Ben threw the next ball to me – my fourth of the game. Normally I wouldn’t give a ball to a grown man, but I did this time because I felt bad for him. I didn’t feel bad that he dropped the ball, I felt bad because he dropped the ball in front of his attractive girlfriend. That’s gotta be tough!

Keeping track? I’d now snagged four balls and given three away. A few minutes later I got my fifth ball from Lester Oliveros:

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This was one of those signed tee balls that the Twins players always give away over fan appreciation weekend. I’ve gotten a few of these in previous fan appreciation games at Target Field over the years.

After what seemed like an eternity, the game finally started around 7:30. Trevor May took the hill for Minnesota and T.J. House took the hill for Cleveland. By the end of the second inning the Twins were losing 3-1.

Remember the Twitter giveaway that the Twins were doing the night before? The Twins hold the contest all weekend. Today I won a ball in the third inning:

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This ball was signed by Alex Presley. One of the balls from yesterday was also signed by Presley. His last appearance with the Twins was on September 29th, 2013. By the end of the third inning the Twins were losing 4-2.

I won another ball in the sixth inning:

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This ball was signed by another former Twins, Pedro Florimon. Florimon was never very good, but I liked him for the short time that he played for the Twins.

Later in the game I decided to get a better view. I thought this was pretty good:

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Brian Dozier hit a home run in the eighth inning, but the Twins still trailed 7-3. After the game I got my 8th ball from Umpire Brian Knight:

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Wow! Everything seemed to be going right today. Everything went right except for the score of the game. Here’s the recap:

I got my ninth and final ball of the day from Armando Camacaro as he entered the dugout after walking in from the bullpen. It looked pretty good:

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That was now three balls from Armando today! After getting that baseball I began walking through the seating bowl towards gate 34 to exit the stadium. As I passed the Twins dugout I noticed that Casey Fien was signing autographs for people. I took the extra minute to get one of my baseballs signed:

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Casey Fien is a cool guy. Whenever I see him at the ballpark he is always interacting with fans in some way. Here’s the final haul from today:

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Seven baseballs were pictured, but only six were from the game. The ball signed by Casey Fien was a ball I’d brought from home in case of an autograph opportunity. Otherwise, six balls were pictured because I gave three away. Nine baseballs and five autographs – i’ll take that any day!

Indians vs. Twins @ Target Field (09-19-14)

Today was bound to be a fun day at Target Field because it was the first day of fan appreciation weekend! Does anyone remember the Twins’ Twitter contest/giveaways from last year? That’s the reason I came back this year.

My day started off with a toss up from the Twins’ friendliest outfielder, Oswaldo Arcia:

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Waldo, Mike and I would back up onto the plaza when Chris Parmelee stepped into the box because he was absolutely crushing the ball today. After a few rounds though, I was caught off guard and I was still in the front row of the section when Parmelee hit a ball that was going to land on the plaza. Somehow I was able to get from the first row of the section to the flagpole in the plaza in time to make a running and leaping catch with my arm fully extended above my head. It was by far the best catch I’ve ever made.

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The Twins didn’t stay on the field much longer, and soon they were replaced by the Indians:

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Fun fact: This was the third Indians game I’d been to this year, but I still hadn’t snagged a ball from them. During batting practice I met up with Nate Duppler, his brother Ben, and their friends Andrew and Noah.

The Twins tweeted this shortly before the game started:

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Nate and I were the first two people to claim a hat:
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This is how the Twins annual Twitter giveaway works: At the top of each inning the Twins tweet a spot at Target Field where the 1st fan to find the Twins rep wins an autographed ball. The Twins tweeted this during the second inning:

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Nate and I both won again. Mine was signed by Vance Worley:

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Vance Worley’s last appearance for the Twins was on May 22nd, 2013. I guess the Twins were clearing out some items they didn’t need anymore!

The first run of the game came in the third inning when Oswaldo Arcia hit a home run to right field. The Indians answered back in the fourth inning by stringing a few hits together, scoring 2 runs in the process.  In the fourth inning Kennys Vargas tied the game by hitting a solo shot to right field. This was the third consecutive game i’d been to where Vargas hit a homerun.

I won another baseball in the sixth inning:

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Kevin Correia is another former Twin. His last appearance for the Twins was on August 6th, 2014. I was also the winner of the seventh inning giveaway:

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This ball was signed by another former Twin, Alex Presley. Presley’s last appearance with the Twins was on September 29th, 2013. Hmm, all three balls that I won from the Twins were signed by players who were no longer members of the Twins. I think that’s kind of funny.

By the end of the seventh inning the score was 4-3, Cleveland. The twins tied the game in the ninth inning but couldn’t push for a victory quite yet. Looking to redeem himself after striking out in the ninth inning, Trevor Plouffe approached the plate with the bases loaded in the tenth. Luckily I was smart enough to record his walk off hit:

If you watched the video then you saw that after the game Mr. Fieldin Culbreth, the home plate umpire, gave the line up cards to me without me even asking. Pretty sweet!

Here are the highlights from the game:

My final haul from the day included five baseballs, three autographs, and two line up cards:

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Nate set a new personal record of seven baseballs in one game. We both had a pretty good day ballhawking, but I’m sure that we both had an even better time just being at the game. This was one of my favorite games this season. Now the Twins have won seven of the eight Twins games I’ve been to this year. This was the third Twins walk off I’ve seen this year!

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