With this being my last full day in Florida, I wanted to make the most out of it. I showed up at Hammond around 9:30 for the 1:05 game. The gates would soon open at 10 o’clock but for some reason I thought they opened at 11:00 o’clock. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the gates were open until 10:30. The day was off to a slow start already (or so I thought)…
As soon as I entered the stadium I hurried to the left field grass. This was my view:
The first five minutes were crazy! I immediately caught back to back homers that were hit by Mitch Garver as I ran into the section. I didn’t have time to photograph them on the spot, but i’ll have a group shot at the end of the entry. Then another ball was sent my way, but the wind carried it onto the practice field that was just beyond the boardwalk. An unknown Twins coach tossed it up upon my request:
Shortly after that I snagged an absolute gem, thanks to Danny Ortiz:
All of that happened in less than 5 minutes! Things slowed down a bit after the first few minutes, but the pace of batting practice remained on high! Miguel Sano was the highlight of the next group in bp. When Sano stepped into the cage I backed up to the top of the berm:
As you can see from the previous picture, the other people were hanging out at the wall. Because I was the only person behind them, I was basically guaranteed any home run that cleared there heads. That is exactly what happened. I easily snagged Sano’s first homer because it cleared everyone else’s head. For the remainder of the round I stepped onto the boardwalk whenever Sano stepped into the cage:
It was a good decision because I came away with another Sano homer. After it bounced on the boardwalk and off the scoreboard, the ball landed safely in my glove. The final group of Twins hitters consisted of mostly lefties so I moved to the right field side of the stadium. This was the view to my left:
…The view straight ahead:
…And the view to my right:
I didn’t catch any homers, but Casey Fien tossed me this pretty thing:
Number eight was also a toss up, but his time from Mitch Garver:
Quick Recap: Two homers and a toss up from the same guy in the same batting practice. Dang, I hope Mitch makes the squad this year. It’d be nice to have him at Target Field ;)
Soon the Orioles began to play catch down the first base line so I moved to the grass berm on that side of the field. As you an see, there were a lot of players on the field:
As I stepped onto the grassy berm I heard a lot of players shout, “Heads up!” because a player had overthrown a ball. It just so happened that it rolled right up to my feet:
Moments later, Yamaico Navarro hooked me up after he and his throwing partner finished:
I hit double digits when I made a sliding catch after chasing down a liner that was hit to the berm. Everyone was pretty impressed with my catch. Even a few of the players were surprised. Anyways, here’s a picture of that one:
When the Orioles started to hit in the cage I made my way back to the left field berm. When I arrived I saw that I had some competition. Not only was the berm filling up with people, but there were also a few other ballhawks with experience. I did my thing and I proudly came out on top!
Number 12 was a homer that I caught on the fly after an unknown Orioles player hit it to deep left center field. My lengthy arms helped me to reach higher than anyone else who was trying to catch this one:
This was the first Selig ball today. My next was another homer on the fly. Yet again, it was hit by an unknown Orioles player:
This was another Selig ball, but it was the first that i’d snagged that was stamped “Practice” underneath the logo. After catching this one I hit a dry spell for a bit and missed out on four balls. Two were blatantly my fault because I simply dropped two homers after they tipped off my glove. I’m not sure why I couldn’t bring them in, but it was just one of those things to shrug off. The other two homers that I missed weren’t my fault. I tracked the ball well and camped underneath to catch it, but someone picked me off at the last second. That was frustrating because it happened twice.
I was still able to come away with one final homer from bp. I caught this one because I beat everyone else to it:
When batting practice ended I noticed that one of the experienced guys was numbering the baseballs that he had caught. When I saw that I knew he was familiar with ballhawking. I introduced myself and we ended up talking for a while. Here’s a picture of Mike holding the baseballs he caught during bp:
Mike is from Orlando, Florida, but lived in Chicago a number of years ago. When he lived in Chicago he used to ballhawk on the streets of Wrigley. He works a lot now, but travels to different ballparks whenever he has time. Seems like a cool dude!
A few minutes before game time I made my way to the Twins Bullpen:
I had already decided that once the game started I would stop ballhawking because I was at the game with a group of other people. I wanted to sit with them during the game instead of wandering like usual. Since I was one ball shy of 15, I was hoping to quickly snag one last ball before the game started. Immediately following the national anthem I was able to get Blaine Boyer’s attention. Let me just say… Blaine Boyer rocks!:
…And just like that I was done ballhawking for the day. Even though I was 30 minutes late I was still able to snag more baseballs than I did at the three other games i’d gone to! I made it to my seat by the time the first out was recorded. I liked the view:
Ervin Santana got his first Start for the Twins against Orioles pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez. Santana pitched two strong innings before being replaced by Jose Berrios in the third inning. The Twins were the first to score thanks to Joe Mauer’s RBI double in the first inning. The Twins took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Eduardo Escobar doubled in Eduardo Nunez. The Orioles earned a run off of Jose Berrios in the 5th inning, but they couldn’t push for anything more. Later in the game Casey Fien and Brian Duensing each pitched an inning before Mark Hamburger pitched the last two innings, earning the Save for the Twins.
Here’s the line up and box score from the game:
Here’s the group picture that I promised at the beginning of the entry:
Today’s Total: 15 MLB balls (11 Manfred, 4 Selig).
Spring Training Totals: 42 MLB balls (31 Manfred, 11 Selig), 5 Minor League balls, 1 Perfect game ball, 1 Whiffle ball, 1 foam ball, and 12 autographs.
UP NEXT: I’ll attend a Cactus League Game if I can while i’m in AZ, but otherwise my next game will be during the regular season.
I had originally planned to attend the Marlins vs. Red Sox game at JetBlue Park today, but at the last minute I decided to visit a “new to me” Spring Training ballpark. After driving for about an hour I arrived in Port Charlotte, Florida. Charlotte Sports Park is home to the Charlotte Stone Crabs and is also the Spring Training home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Here she is:
Until the night before this, I was completely unaware that the Rays played in Port Charlotte. I also knew nothing about the complex or what it looked like. I tried to look for pictures online, but they didn’t help much. I decided that the best way to become familiar with the complex would be to arrive early. That’s what I did. I pulled into the parking lot at 7:00 am. and was at the gate to the practice fields by 7:10:
There was just one problem. The Rays’ training complex was not open to the public on game days. That meant that I would not be able to explore the practice fields. It also meant that I had gotten to the ballpark three extra hours early for nothing. Not entirely. I’ll explain, but first look at this map of the complex:
Since I had a lot of time on my hands I decided to explore other parts of the complex. I made my way back towards the home plate gate and then past the third base gate. I continued until I was near the pond that is behind the left field wall:
It was pretty gross looking back there. I found a few old baseballs and tennis balls that had already seen their better days:
Like I said, it was pretty gross back there. Later on I even found out there was an alligator back there! Good thing I left when I did. Yikes!
Take another look at this map:
I was extremely surprised, but I was able to snag a few baseballs out here! My first was thrown a pretty good distance by a Rays player who I didn’t recognize. Here’s a look at the Selig ball that he threw to me:
My next ball was another Selig ball, but this was a batting practice home run that I retrieved after it cleared the right field wall:
I was able to snag one more ball before heading to meet Grant Edrington, an established and respected Baltimore ballhawk, at the third base gate. This one was thrown by another Rays player who I didn’t recognize:
Grant and I both forgot to take a picture together, but here’s a picture of him that I got off his blog:
Once inside the gate, this was my view of home plate:
This was the view looking out towards the left field wall:
After walking towards the left field foul pole you will run into the boardwalk. The boardwalk extends from foul pole to fole pole and is great for getting around the stadium. This is the point of view from the left field corner looking towards center field:
When the Twins began their portion of batting practice Grant and I positioned ourselves along the boardwalk in left field. After a few batters had taken their cuts I was able to catch this Miguel Sano homer on the fly:
A few moments later Sano stepped back into the cage and I caught another that he sent my way. This time I had to reach over the railing of the boardwalk into the bullpen in order to make the grab. It was another pearly gem:
Grant was able to snag a few toss ups during batting practice, but otherwise we were both limited to a few balls when the Twins were on the field. One of the reasons was because Sano and Vargas simply hit the ball to far. Many times they sent the baseballs into the swampy pond outside the ballpark.
After batting practice we stayed on the left field side of the boardwalk because there were so many baseballs that were left in the bullpen from batting practice. You can’t see all of them from the picture, but there were nine baseballs scattered in the Twins’ bullpen:
Also, in case you’re wondering, Grant is the person in the forefront of the previous picture. At the time, he was talking to a kid who from New Jersey who we had met at the ballpark. I apologize for blanking on your name, but if you’re reading this please remind me of your name.
Sometime as the grounds crew was prepping the field for the game, Twins’ coach Neil Allen made his way out to the bullpen. He tossed me this somewhat used baseball:
Okay, I take it back. It was a Selig ball, so it was more than somewhat used. There were so many baseballs that he threw another to me:
There were still a few balls left in the corner of the bullpen when the game started. Mitch Garver was super nice and tossed one of them up to me:
When the game started the three of us went our separate ways and did our own thing for a while. I took a few laps around the ballpark and watched the game from different spots. When I came back to the Twins bullpen, I noticed there was still one ball left in the corner from batting practice. After politely getting Eric Fryers attention, it became my ninth ball of the day:
About 20 minutes after that, Coach Eddie Guardado threw me my tenth ball of the day. This one was used as a warm up as a new pitcher warmed up in the bullpen. I’m not sure which pitcher it was at the moment, but i’ll find out from my pictures and eventually update the name on here. Anyways, when the pitcher got called into the game the ball ended up with Eric Fryer. Fryer tossed it to Guardado and Guardado threw it up to me:
Grant and I met up on the boardwalk in the 8th inning and we made our way to home plate. The view was great! Check this out:
Before I entered the stadium I expected it to be a pretty dumpy ballpark. The exterior is kind of ugly and most of the pictures online don’t make the ballpark look very good. Regardless of my expectations, I was thoroughly impressed with the interior of the ballpark. I really do think that this is a great ballpark to watch a game of baseball at. There is a nice cross aisle that allows fans to easily get from one baseline to the other, and there’s also the boardwalk that does the same thing in the outfield. I love that there are grass berms for fans, and I especially like how the bullpens are set up so that fans can easily watch the activity in the ‘pen.
We made our way down to the dugout when the game finished, and Grant was able to snag one final ball of the day. I focused on getting a nice picture of the Rays celebrating their victory:
The game wasn’t terribly exciting. Both pitching staffs did a great job today, but unfortunately that usually makes for a long ballgame. The Twins allowed two runs off just five hits while the Rays only allowed one run off of seven hits. Here is the box score from the game (courtesy of espn.go):
I haven’t had time to take a group picture yet, but as soon as I do i’ll upload it here.
Today’s Total: 10 MLB balls (5 Manfred, 5 Selig).
Spring Training Totals: 27 MLB balls (20 Manfred, 7 Selig), 5 Minor League balls, 1 Perfect game ball, 1 Whiffle ball, 1 foam ball, and 12 autographs.
UP NEXT: Orioles vs. Twins @ Hammond Stadium (03-08-15)
Although today’s Red Sox vs. Twins game would be played at Hammond Stadium, I began the day here:
Yes, you may have guesses it, I was at JetBlue Park. JetBlue is the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox. Last year I attended two games here, but I wasn’t impressed with the stadium. It is a beautiful ballpark, but the atmosphere is more like an MLB stadium than a spring training stadium. Although I don’t particularly like JetBlue Park, I love the practice fields that are in the facility. I arrived bright and early at 7:00 o’clock and spent the next two hours waiting here:
As players finished up in the batting cages they walked through the gates that were in the previous picture. From there they would head to the practice fields. This is a great place to get autographs because the players have to walk past to get to the practice fields.
The first player to sign for me was Trey Ball. He was drafted by the Red Sox in the 7th round of the 2013 draft. He has a nice signature:
Next, I pulled out another baseball for Rafael Devers to sign:
Last year I realized that each year I will start to see more players who are close to my age. Devers is the youngest player to sign an autograph for me. Devers is only 18 years old, yet he is the 5th best prospect in the Red Sox organization.
I’m not sure who signed my next autograph, but I like how it looks:
The player’s jersey said “Febles #12″, but i’m not sure what his first name is. Next, Michael Chavis signed the same ball:
Chavis, 19 years old, is another really young player. Next, number 63 signed the ball:
#63’s signature is pretty legible, but I cannot make out exactly what it says. At this point I’m not sure who it is, but if anyone knows, please let me know.
Javier Guarra, another 19 year old, also signed the ball:
Mike McCarthy signed next:
Next was Kevin McAvoy. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 draft. Here’s that one:
Whitson was the next player to sign for me. I checked online to find his first name, but Karsten Whitson was the only name that came up. This wasn’t Karsten Whitson, so i’m still not sure who this is:
Ty Buttrey also signed for me:
Javier Rodriguez was the final player to sign for me:
When the practice fields opened at 9 o’clock, I headed this way:
After stretching and doing infield warm ups for more than an hour and a half, batting practice began. I positioned myself between two practice fields because it was a great spot to snag baseballs. Take a look:
My first ball was one that landed in a bullpen. The gate was open, so I walked in to retrieve it:
After a few minutes one of the players tossed me this:
My third ball was a foul ball that was sliced over the fence:
Moments later there was a ground ball that was hit down the right field line. I was able to field it myself:
Only a few minutes later I had retrieved yet another ball that was fouled off:
When practice ended around noon I made my way over to Hammond Stadium:
Once again, the gates were open and fans were allowed to walk around the stadium. I found a nice place to sit in the shade on the third base side:
I stayed there for a little more than an hour. At one point I even feel asleep for about 20 minutes. Around 2:30 I got up to move to a seat that was near the Twins dugout. After sitting down I found this under the seat:
Awesome! Do you know what was NOT awesome? As soon as I took that picture an employee walked down the steps and said, “You’re not supposed to be in here. How did you get in the Stadium?” I told him that the gates were open so I walked in the front door. There were even employees who told me to take a look around the stadium. I could tell that he thought I was lying. He hesitated and then followed by saying, “Well you’re not supposed to be in here.” I told him that just like the other fans who were walking around the stadium, I had been inside since noon and that he was the first employee who had said such a thing. He said, “The gates don’t open until 3 hours before the game starts so you shouldn’t be in here.” This guy thought I was making all of this up! I don’t know what his deal was, but he escorted me out of the stadium. What a load of garbage!
After waiting an hour and a half outside the stadium, I was finally able to re-enter when the gates opened. I quickly got my first MLB ball of the day when Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey finished playing catch:
When batting practice started I headed to the left field grass but since the first group was filled with mostly lefties, I moved to the seats in right field. There I snagged a home run that was hit by a Twins player who I didn’t recognize. It was a nice clean Manfred ball:
When Eddie Rosario stepped into the cage he began to hit some deep fly balls to right field. All of a sudden he sent a shot to deep right center field. I tracked the ball well, but at the last moment lost it in the sun. I was able to get out of the way, but the ball bounced back onto the field. Luckily, Danny Ortiz was nice enough to toss it up to me:
When Rosario stepped back into the cage again, he sent another my way. This time I was able to snag it myself:
Kennys Vargas was also in the same group as Rosario. Vargas started leftie but each time he stepped into the cage he would switch to a different side of the plate. It didn’t matter which side he hit from because he would crush the ball either way. When he was batting leftie I was able to snag one of the only homers that he hit that stayed in the park:
When the next group started to take their cuts I decided it was time to move back to left field. Shane Robinson had hit a couple homers in bp yesterday so I knew where to position myself for him today. Sure enough, he hit one in my direction:
As soon as I made the grab I saw a little girl so I decided to give it to her. A big smile came across her (and her parents’) face! The Twins’ portion of batting practice ended shortly after that. The Red Sox did not take batting practice because they had taken it at JetBlue Park before driving over to Hammond. I was a bit bummed because I was having a really good day ballhawking!
Since bp ended around 5 o’clock I had to wait around for nearly an hour and a half for anything to happen on the field. Finally the Twins and Red Sox started to warm up on the field. I spotted Pedroia in the dugout:
While the Red Sox practiced on the infield there were a few people from Sun Harvest who threw foam oranges into the crowd. I flashed my glove and they threw one to me. When the Red Sox finished their pregame infield warmups the ball was thrown to Manager John Farrell. When I asked him for the ball he tossed it up without hesitation:
This was only the second Selig ball that I had gotten so far. Otherwise, the rest were all the new Manfred balls. By the time the game was about to start, the sun had almost completely gone down. This was the scene immediately following the National Anthem:
Joe Kelly got the start for Boston while Kyle Gibson threw the first pitch to start he game for Minnesota. The Twins started out strong and were able to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Torii Hunter singled in his first plate appearance at Hammond Stadium for 8 years and was able to pick up an RBI in the process.
By the end of the third inning the Twins were winning 6-4. I decided it would be a good time to leave because I would be leaving on a high note. I had a great day ballhawking, I saw my favorite childhood sports star make his first appearance back on my favorite team, and my team was winning. It was a good time to leave. As I was making my way out of the stadium, the Red Sox managed to load the bases. At the exact moment that I left, Dusten Pedroia hit a grand slam that gave the Red Sox an 8-6 lead. Wow, my timing was great :)
I was sure to get a good picture of the stadium when I left:
(Six balls were pictured because I gave one away.)
Later in the game the Twins came back and won the game 9-8. Molitor’s squad was now 2-0 in their first two games.
Here’s the group picture from the day (Six MLB balls are pictured because I gave one away):
Todays Totals: 7 MLB balls (6 Manfred, 1 Selig), 5 Minor League balls, 1 foam ball, and 12 autographs (11 pictured).
Spring Training Totals: 17 MLB balls (15 Manfred, 2 Selig), 5 Minor League balls, 1 Perfect game ball, 1 Whiffle ball, 1 foam ball, and 12 autographs.
UP NEXT: Twins vs. Rays, Friday, March 6th
Some of you might be surprised that i’m in Florida for Spring Training. For others, especially if you follow me on Twitter, it is no surprise because I’ve been talking about this for a few weeks now. Anyways, I arrived on Tuesday afternoon and this was the first game I’ve been to so far this year. The earliest I arrived to a spring training ballpark last year was 8:00 a.m., but this year I arrived at Hammond Stadium at 7:00 a.m.. I got there the extra hour early because I wanted to catch the sun rise as I drove to the ballpark. The recently renovated stadium looked stunning as I drove into the parking lot:
I wasn’t sure when the players would begin to practice but I figured I might as well maximize my time in the warm weather. I soaked in the sun until the first group of players finally entered the practice fields at 9 o’clock. I could see them from a distance so I made my way to the fields.
At 9 o’clock all of the minor league players reported to the field closest to the twins baseball academy:
As far as I know, the only notable players in that extremely large group were Nick Gordon, Kohl Stewart, James Beresford and Max Kepler. After wandering around for a few minutes I found my first ball of 2015! With Selig out and Manfred in as commissioner that meant that the signature on the baseball changed this year. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but most ballhawks have been pretty excited to see the new baseballs. This wasn’t a Manfred ball, this was a Selig that was left over from last year:
Regardless of the name on the front, it was still a beautiful baseball!
Part of the 2-year renovation plan included a baseball academy and dormitory for the minor league players of the Twins. The buildings weren’t finished when I visited last year, but since then they have been completed and opened:
A bit closer to noon I spotted Mr. Terry Ryan, the Twins GM walking into the practice fields.
I only said a quick hello because I didn’t want to disturb him while he was working. Later on, though, he approached me and said that a lady had told him that I knew everything there was to know about the Twins. She was obviously stretching the truth a bit, but Mr. Ryan was still amused. We ended up only chatting about baseball for a few minutes, but then we continued for a longer time as our conversation shifted towards other topics that weren’t even related to baseball. He’s a fun guy to talk with!
Right before leaving the complex to run to Publix, I found my second ball of the day. This time, though, the ball was from Tom Kelly Field:
The ball had been wedged between the concrete, dirt and flowers. Aside from the odor and filth, there was still something different about this ball. I’m not sure when or by whom it was used, but the ball was a “Rawlings Perfect Game” ball. For the record (and for those ballhawks who are wondering), I did not count this in my MLB total.
After gaining early entrance into an empty stadium, I explored where most people do not. As I was hoping to find my second MLB ball of the day, I stumbled upon this whiffle ball:
I was considering taking it with me, but it was filled with a gross looking mixture of dirt, bugs and condensation. It was better to leave it where it was! I was finally able to snag another MLB ball from the boardwalk down the left field foul line. I had quite the view from there:
The ball was courtesy of Aaron Thompson. He threw it to me when he and Alex Meyer had finished playing catch.
Although the change in signatures is a very subtle change, I do like how it looks. Although small in detail, it still brings about something new to the most important element in the game.
It wasn’t too long until I was in possession of another ball. This time from Ricky Nolasco:
Ball number 5 came from the air. It was a homerun that i’m pretty sure Eddie Rosario hit:
Up to this point I had been in the grass berm in left field. For almost all of batting practice there were only two other guys and myself in the whole grass section. There was absolutely no competition! My success continued.
My next two baseballs (numbers 6 and 7) were both home runs that I caught on the fly. Coincidentally, they were also hit by the same player – #21 Shane Robinson. Here’s number 6:
And here’s number 7:
The Twins left the field around 5:15 and soon the Minnesota Golden Gophers hustled out to take their turn on the field. I was surprised to see that the Gophers had a few players who could crush the ball. Their portion of batting practice wasn’t great, but I was still able to snag a home run. The ball was brand new, an obvious keeper, but as soon as a little girl asked for it I felt obligated to give it away!
Sophomore Troy Traxler, a catcher and outfielder for the Gophers, hooked me up with my 9th ball of the day:
Batting Practice ended shortly after that, but I was able to get another toss up before the game started. When the Twins finished their pregame infield warm ups, catcher Eric Fryer tossed me my 10th ball of the day:
When the game started I sat in my ticketed seat. This was the first game in a long while where I sat in my ticketed seat for the whole time! Who could blame me, though, with a view like this?:
Although the Gophers were the first to score, he Twins ended up beating them 3-1. The big names in the Twins Lineup were Buxton (he went 2-3), Vargas (1-3) and Sano (1-1). Jose Berrios got the start for the Twins and was able to pick up the win after pitching 2 innings of scoreless baseball. One other thing worth mentioning is that this was Paul Molitor’s Managerial Debut! His first “W” (although it won’t officially be recorded) came against his old college team!
There’s no highlight/recap video for this game, but I did find this special video that the UofM made after the completion of the game:
I’m in the video multiple times. Whenever the left field grass is shown, i’m in the frame. In one of the shots it showed me chasing down a home run ball. Just look for the guy in the blue shirt!
Here’s the final haul (Nine MLB balls are pictured because I gave one away):
Spring Training Totals: 1 MLB Selig Ball, 9 MLB Manfred Balls, 1 Perfect game ball, and 1 whiffle ball.
UP NEXT: Red Sox vs. Twins, Thursday, March 5th.
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.
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:
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
Overall Season Summary:
- Total Baseballs: 56
- Games Attended: 17
- Average Balls/Game: 3.29
- Game Balls: 5
- Most Ball in one Game: 9
Number of Baseballs by Month and Day:
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!
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
- Target Field (14 Games): 400,553
- Kauffman Stadium (2 Games): 74,098
- Wrigley Field (1 Game): 30,541
- Overall (17 Games): 505,192
- 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
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
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:
- 10 Games: 2006 Chevy Aveo
- 1 Game:
- 2014 Chevy Malibu
- Chevy Cavalier
- 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!
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.
Date: January 23-25, 2015
Hours: Hours have not yet been announced.
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-
Date: January 24-25, 2015
- 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.
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
- “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+
Date: January 24, 2015
Hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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
Date: January 30-31, 2015
- 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
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+
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.
1 Twins Way
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:
- Player Autographs
- Player Photo Sessions
- Sports Memorabilia and Collector’s Show
- Self-Guided Clubhouse Tours
- Twins Yard Sale
- 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
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.
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.
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’!
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.
List of Firsts
- Game at Hammond Stadium (03-05-14)
- 19 Baseball Game (03-05-14)
- 12+ hour day spent at ballpark (03-05-14)
- Game at jetBlue Park (03-08-14)
- Ballhawk Shutout (04-11-14)
- Witnessing Twins Score 10 runs (04-11-14)
- Easter Egg (05-28-14)
- Ball From Rangers (05-28-14)
- Ball From White Sox (06-20-14)
- Attending a Futures Game (07-13-14)
- Attending an All-Star FanFest (07-13-14)
- Attending a Home Run Derby (07-14-14)
- Catching a Home Run Derby Commemorative Baseball (07-14-14)
- Visiting a Pepsi Block Party (07-15-14)
- Attending an All-Star Game (07-15-14)
- Free Box of Cheez-its (07-15-14)
- Game at Wrigley Field (08-21-14)
- Meeting Chris Distefano (08-21-14)
- Witnessing Ballhawk Shawn Snag a Game Home Run (08-21-14)
- Trip solely for baseball (08-30-14)
- ESPN Sunday Night Baseball (08-31-14)
- Suspended Game (08-31-14)
- Witnessing Back-to-Back Walk-offs (09/16/14 and 09/19/14)
- Getting line up Cards at Target Field (09-19-14)
- Getting 3 balls From The Same Person (09-20-14)
- Making an MLB player angry (09-24-14)
- Snagging More Than 5+ Balls Without Batting Practice (09-24-14)
- 200 Baseballs (09-24-14)
- Getting 10+ Autographs from One Game (09-24-14)
- Snagging a MLB Record Baseball (09-24-14)
- Giving away an MLB Record Baseball (09-24-14)
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.
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 72 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.
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.
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:
When they finished, Kyle threw the ball to me:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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!