Category: 2012 MLB Games

9-28-12 @ Target Field – Tigers vs. Twins

According to Tony (follow him on twitter @TonyV433) I arrived at Gate 34 right around 4:15 (thank you Tony, I forgot to check when I actually arrived). We talked for a little while and waited for a homer to be hit to the gate. Pretty soon Mateo showed up. When I saw Mateo with Tony I walked over to them and found out that I had just awkwardly walked in on Mateo filming for his blog. Mateo (follow him on twitter @observebaseball) introduced me to his video “audience”. I’m sure I looked pretty funny in the video, but I’m still eager to see it.

The Twins’ portion of batting practice was pretty slow, but I managed to snag a ball just before everyone left the field. The last ball that the pitcher threw in batting practice was hit down the right field line and stopped in the corner. Tyler Robertson picked up the ball and wound up to throw it to an infielder, but everyone had already jogged off the field. Then, he wound up again, but there still there was no one he could throw it to. So instead, he tossed it to me.

Once the last group of Tigers players started batting I headed over to the Tigers’ dugout.When Coach Jeff Jones walked passed me I asked, “Coach, do you have an extra ball for a Tigers fan?” He responded, “Why yes I do!”, while he grabbed a ball and tossed it to me.

About 5 minutes later the Tigers’ equipment/ball guy came out of the dugout to finish putting the balls away. Mateo and I each asked for a ball, but he continued putting them away and eventually took the ball bag with him into the dugout. He returned a minute later holding two baseballs. For a split second he looked around to find us and then he hooked each of us up with a ball.

Following this, Mateo and I relocated to left-center field near the bullpens. Mateo covered the Tigers bullpen and I covered the Twins bullpen. This was well before the game was scheduled to begin, but the usher made his way down the aisle to talk to us. He had recognized us from previous games. We all ended up having a nice conversation. The usher has been a Tigers fan for 60 years, and used to work at the old Tigers Stadium. He went to fight in Vietnam, and when he returned home to the United States he moved to Minnesota. He has been here for 30 years. He is a very, very nice man. He even told us that we could sit in his section any time we would like to during the game.

It wasn’t too long after the National Anthem that Tyler Robinson threw another ball to me, but this time from across the Twins’ bullpen. Here he is shortly before:

This ball was different:

(I took the previous two pictures during the game)

This was part of the Twins’ giveaways that take place every year on Fan Appreciation Weekend. The Twins players each sign a tee ball and then throw it to a fan before the game.

For the game itself, my dad and I sat in the Legends Club. While I was inside of the club I saw something a bit out of the ordinary:

In the 5th inning my dad and I got some food:

I have never gotten this many nachos before, and I probably won’t again. Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious. I would say that I’m a fast eater, but it took me close to 20 minutes to finish these. Just to give you an idea of how big the helmet dish is, I took this picture at home:

Eight baseballs fit inside.

The highlight of the game was getting to see Ryan Doumit absolutely dominate on offense. The Play-by-Play scoring plays are next, enjoy:

  • In the bottom of the 7th inning Ryan Doumit homered to left field. Justin Morneau scored.
  • In the top of the 8th inning Omar Infante homered to left field. A Jackson scored.
  • In the bottom of the 8th inning Ryan Doumit doubled to center, Denard Span and Joe Mauer scored. Justin Morneau to third base.

Tigers 2, Twins 4

  1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          R         H         E

DET     0          0          0          0          0          0          0          2          0          2          6          1 

MIN    0          0          0          0          0          0          2          2          –           4          4          2

When the game ended, I stood where the “X” is in the next picture.

Now, do you remember the Tigers equipment/ball guy from before the game? He was cleaning up the dugout and putting away the bats and balls (I was waiting because usually a team’s equipment guy throws a ball or two to a few fans after a game ends). As I waited, a boy who was decked out in Twins gear (who looked like he was 10-13 years old) ran towards me and stopped right next to me. He asked me if it was alright for him to stand in that spot too. I assured him it was ok, and then we started talking a little bit. Over the last few years he has gotten to know the Tigers equipment guy from coming to so many Tigers versus Twins games. Pretty soon he finished cleaning and walked towards me to exit the dugout. I thought it would be nice to let the kid ask for a ball so I just stood there and watched. This was their conversation:

Kid:                           “Mario!”

Equipment Guy:     “HEY! How’s it going?”

Kid:                           “Good, do you have anything for me tonight?”

Equipment Guy:     “Sorry, I don’t have anything for you tonight, but I do have something for him.”

When he said that, he pointed at me. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a ball and threw it to me. I thanked him and then took his picture.

I felt bad for the kid so I offered the ball to him. He thought about it for a second and then he and his father both said no because he had already gotten a ball earlier in the day.

On my way out of the stadium I found a bunch of promotional calendars scattered amongst the seats so I picked up three that were not damaged. As I exited the gate an usher offered me two calendars so by the time I left the stadium I had six promotional calendars!

Here are some “Pieces of The Game”:

A Piece of The Game MVP:

Mario (Dugout Attendant): He was the first person to give me two baseballs in one game.

Player of The Game:

Ryan Doumit: He provided all the RBIs for the Twins. If he wouldn’t have had such a good day at the plate, then Twins would’ve lost.

Minnesota

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

LOB

AVG

Doumit, DH

4

1

2

4

0

1

0

.277

  • 5 balls at this game
  • 41 balls in 10 games this season = Avg. 4.1 balls per game
  • 10 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
  • 10 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
  • 4 consecutive games with at least 3 balls
  • 3 consecutive games with at least 4 balls
  • 3 consecutive games with at least 5 balls
  • 10 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
  • 8 consecutive Twins home games with at least 2 balls
  • 3 consecutive Twins home games with at least 3 balls
  • 2 consecutive Twins home games with at least 4 balls
  • 2 consecutive Twins home games with at least 5 balls
  • Gotten at least 1 ball from 11 different teams
  • 44 total balls

9-14-12 @ Kauffman Stadium – Angels vs. Royals

You’re probably thinking “What are you doing at Kauffman Stadium?” My family and I are on vacation in Missouri so my dad and I thought it would be fun to go to a game at Kauffman Stadium.

Kauffman Stadium offers a unique tour called The Early Bird Tour, which gets you inside the stadium before gates open to the public.

The tour started at 4:30 so we arrived at 3:45 to pick up our tour tickets from will call. Here I am walking up to the stadium with my dad:

As we got closer to the stadium my dad and I saw this:

It was a crime scene. This explained why we had seen so many emergency vehicles about a half hour earlier while we were eating at Denny’s. Apparently a man shot a parking lot employee that was believed to have been his girlfriend, before getting into his car and committing suicide. Click here to read the news article about it.

The police took a very long time to respond to the call because of a bomb scare in downtown! What was happening in Kansas City!?! Everything bad was happening the 1 day that we were here! Here is the news story for that.

Anyways… back to baseball. While we were waiting for the tour to start I saw Torii Hunter, Bobby Wilson, and Aaron Cook enter the stadium at Gate C. I took pictures of them, but made sure not to bother them.

When 4:30 rolled around we were let into the Hall of Fame:

Soon the tour group was led near the Angels dugout:

This was where I got my first ball of the day. Do you see the ball sitting right by 3rd base? Coach Wathan threw it to me as he was walking into the outfield. Here he is shortly after:

I decided to move behind the Royals dugout because a ball was nearby. Within 15 minutes it was mine. So what happened? Eric Hosmer threw it to me as he was jogging off the field. In the next picture Hosmer is standing to the right of the ball:

Also, just a few minutes after this happened, my dad got a ball thrown to him by Aaron Crow. Have you heard the saying “The early bird gets the worm”? Well, that was definitely true today.

When the stadium opened to the public, I was free to roam wherever I pleased. I decided to play home runs from the left/center field seats. By the time I reached my destination Albert Pujols’ group had started hitting, and there were bombs being hit 10 feet over my head into the fountains.

Ball #3 came when Torii Hunter hit a ball 1 section to my right. I had no trouble getting in line with the ball, but it was going to be short by two rows. This was a problem because of how steep the section was, and I was worried that it would bounce back onto the field before I could get to it. Luckily the ball landed under a seat, and I had no problem hopping over two rows to pick it up. The next picture helps visualize it. I was standing in the rectangle and the ball landed in the oval:

Soon I chased a ball to the same spot, but it kept carrying and it landed in the fountains. The next pitch was hit to the EXACT spot that I had JUST been standing before I chased the previous ball. It hit the concrete where I WOULD’VE and SHOULD’VE caught the ball for one of the easiest catches in my life. I watched helplessly as it bounced back onto the field.

I decided to move to sections 107-109 (the left field seats between the foul pole and bullpen) for the last group of BP. Soon Jerome Williams threw a ball to me to me. There was a man in front of me that must have really wanted the ball, because he did his best to make sure I didn’t get it. For the sake of not getting confused, I will call him Man #1 (keep in mind that Man #1 looked like he was in his late 20’s or early 30’s). Man #1 got very close to me until his glove was right in front of mine, and then he didn’t even catch the ball. The ball tipped off of his glove and ricocheted about a foot to my right. I tried my best to adjust to the new path of the ball, but everything happened so quickly that it also tipped off of my glove. The ball rolled to the feet of a father who picked up the ball and gave it to his son, who looked like he was 10 years old (this part was alright, because Man #1 didn’t get the ball)

A few minutes later, Jerome Williams flipped a different ball to me because he had seen I hadn’t gotten the first ball that was intended for me. Then Man #1’s mom started complaining about how I got 2 balls from the same player! I politely explained how her son had tipped the first ball, which resulted in the Father and son getting it. Then I turned to the father and son and said, “Congrats on getting the ball, it worked out for both of us!”

At the time I didn’t know who the player was, but Kristen (you can check out her blog here) informed me via Twitter that his name is Jerome Williams. Kristen also told me that he wears a pink glove in memory of his mother. Thank you Kristen!

When batting practice ended I was sitting at 4 balls.

At 6:50 I sat next to the Angels bullpen to try to get a ball when C.J. Wilson finished warming up.

Do you see the ball in midair in the previous picture? C.J. Wilson threw a bad pitch and the ball got away from Chris Ianneta. Ianneta picked up the ball and tossed it to the left side of the bullpen.

After a few minutes the usher came to make people go to their seats.

Usher: “You have to go to your seat now.”

Me: “Is it alright if I wait here for just 5 more minutes?

Usher: “I don’t think so, you should go.”

Me: “I’m waiting because the coach promised me a ball (This was true, but I was sort of bending the truth…. Coach Butcher had promised me a ball, but that was a while ago. I just needed a reason so I could stay at the bullpen.)

Usher: “Well you should know that it is very unlikely that you will give you a ball.”

Me: “Once the game starts I’ll leave, it’s just 5 minutes and I’ll be out of your hair”

Usher: “Alright, but stay out of the aisle for now”

Roughly 2 minutes later, Coach Steve Soliz walked to the side of the bullpen and threw the ball to me (the same ball that got away from Chris Ianneta.)

The usher had been standing at the bottom of the aisle this whole time. Once he saw the coach throw me the ball he looked embarrassed for being wrong, and laughed a little bit.

Usher: “Looks like you were right!”

We started to talk a little more, and after that he let me sit in his section whenever I wanted to. He was a nice guy with lots of humor.

Fast forward to the game…

In the next picture do you see the red marks? The square in section 142 is where our seats were.

The other shape represents this:

This is where I stood to play the foul balls during the first 2 innings, and it was a good spot. Mike Trout led off the game and sent a few balls my direction. The first was a little blooper which landed 3 sections to my right. The next ball came right towards me! I played it safe by moving slightly towards the field because I was expecting it to bounce off of the scoreboard facing on the second deck. I was correct, but then it ricocheted into the Dugout Concourse. I sprinted after the ball, but it kept rolling and rolling! Suddenly an old lady came out of nowhere and stepped right in front of me. I jumped to the side to avoid running into her, and then she realized that I was chasing the ball, and she picked it up. I wasn’t mad at her or anything, in fact I congratulated her. I just felt like I was having a day of missed opportunities.

In the second inning I was going to head to the last row of section 142 to try to play some foul balls, but as I was half way there an usher stopped me and made me sit down until the Howie Kendrick finished his at bat. Sure enough, Howie Kendrick sliced two foul balls to the EXACT spot that I was heading for. Two more missed opportunities.

After the inning ended I sat with my dad. Our seats were on the aisle of row ten of section 142. Halfway through the game we moved ten rows back and this was our view:

Billy Butler hit his 100th career homer in the second inning. I have now seen 2 historic home runs in person… the other was Mark Teixeira’s 300th homerun on June 30th 2011 at Yankee Stadium.

Fast Forward to the end of the game…

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

  • In the bottom of the 2nd inning Brett Butler homered to left field. (His 100th career homerun!)
  • In the bottom of the 2nd inning Mike Moustakas homered to right field to make the score 2-0.
  • In the bottom of the 3rd inning J Bourgeois singled to center, Giavotella scored on the play.
  • In the top of the 4th inning Howie Kendrick doubled to deep left, E Aybar and Torii Hunter scored to tie the game.
  • Later in the 4th inning A Callaspo singled to right to drive in Howie Kendrick and Vernon Wells.
  • In the bottom of the 6th inning Mike Moustakas hit a sacrifice fly to left, Alex Gordon scored on the play.
  • In the top of the 7th inning E Aybar doubled to right. Chris Iannetta and Mike Trout scored on the play to make it a 5-6 game (Royals leading)
  • In the bottom of the 7th inning A Escobar singled to left center field. J Bourgeois scored on the play.
  • In the 8th inning Kendrys Morales hit a two run homer to left field.
  • Later in the 8th inning Torii Hunter walked with the bases loaded. Mike Trout scored to give the Angels an 8-7 lead.
  • In the top of the 9th inning K Calhoun grounded into a fielder’s choice to second base. Vernon Wells scored on the play.

Angels 9, Royals 7

            1        2        3        4        5        6        7        8        9        R       H       E

LAA    0        0        0        4        0        0        1        3        1        9        12     1

KC       0        2        1        0        0        3        1        0        0        7        8        1

It was fireworks night:

The Royals organization really puts on a great fireworks show. It was an awesome display.

When my dad and I left I took some cool pictures:

Kauffman Stadium is a very beautiful Stadium, and a great place to ballhawk. There is a cross Aisle that goes around the whole stadium which is helpful for getting around the stadium easily (It also comes in handy when ballhawking). The fountains in the outfield add a lot of character to the Stadium. Now I see why so many people speak so highly of Kauffman Stadium.

A Piece of The Game MVP:

Jerome Williams, because he threw a ball to me, but when he saw I wasn’t able to catch it he threw a different ball to me. He was also very friendly and at numerous times stood by the wall to talk with fans.

Jerome Williams did not make an appearance during the game so there are no stats to show.

Player of The Game:

Kendrys Morales,because he hit a 2 run homer in the 8th inning. Technically it was a game winning homerun, because otherwise the Angels and Royals would be tied through 9 innings.

LA Angels               AB     R     H     RBI     BB     SO     LOB     AVG

Morales, K, PH        1       1      1         2         0       0          0        .279

I took this photo the next day before leaving the hotel. I thought it was kind of artsy:

The Royals were the 10th team to give me at least 1 ball.

  • 5 balls at this game
  • 36 balls in 9 games this season = Avg. 4.0 balls per game
  • 9 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
  • 9 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
  • 3 consecutive games with at least 3 balls
  • 2 consecutive games with at least 4 balls
  • 2 consecutive games with at least 5 balls
  • Gotten at least 1 ball from 11 different teams
  • 39 total balls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mariners 5, Twins 2

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

SEA

0

0

2

0

3

0

0

0

0

5

9

0

MIN

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

4

1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Piece of The Game MVP:

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

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

Player of The Game:

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

Seattle

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

LOB

AVG

Ackley, 2B

5

1

1

3

0

1

3

.233

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

Ball #1 – first career ball from the Mariners

Ball #2 – nothing that I can think of

Ball #3 – first career ball from a GM

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

Ball #6 – first career foul ball

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

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

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

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

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

8-13-12 @ Target Field – Tigers vs. Twins

The baseball day started off when I got on the light rail at the Mall of America. Forty minutes later I arrived at Target Field. This was my view after an additional 45 minutes had gone by:

Usually when I enter the stadium I go to foul territory first, but I decided to try something different for this game. My goal for the game was: catch a Prince Fielder BP homer, or get Prince Fielder to throw me a ball. I stood in right field hoping he would hit a few balls to the sections around me.

Once Prince stepped into the cage there were bombs being hit all over to right/center field. I was pretty disappointed because he didn’t hit anything near me. I stayed in the right/center field area for the next group of batters. This group had 3 powerful lefties. Once again, no homers came close to me.

I decided to watch the 3rd and final group of batters from behind the Tigers’ dugout:

I’ll sum up the next 15 minutes for you in the next sentence. The players and coaches were not in the giving mood.

After BP ended I checked the bullpens…

… All the baseballs had been cleared out already. Usually there are baseballs from BP in the bullpens until Drew Butera or Nate Dammann picks them up a half hour before the game. Obviously I missed something.

I waited here for the pitchers to start warming up. I always think it is fun to watch. I got a cool picture of Anibal Sanchez:

The Tigers bullpen catcher, Scott Pickens, was catching for Sanchez until Avila got to the bullpen. Pickens was generous and gave me some gum:

He gave me four pieces of Double Bubble. Thank you Scott Pickens.

I knew my baseball streak would end eventually, but I didn’t expect it to be this soon. Too bad though, 0 balls in BP.

When it was nearing game time, I went to find my friends who I was going to meet at the game. Out of the six of them, none had been to Target Field before. I decided to give them a tour. I took them around the whole stadium. The highlights included: seeing the organ lady (she’s very nice), seeing the bullpens, seeing the flags in the right field plaza, and watching the game from a few different spots. Afterwards, we went to sit in out seats in section 304.

No one had scored yet into the 3rd inning:

In the bottom of the 7th inning a friend and I went to sit behind the Tigers dugout. I was still determined to get a ball from Prince Fielder. I had even made a sign at home that said “The Prince Is Now King”. I thought it might help me get a ball from him. As Fielder was walking back to the dugout at the end of the 7th inning he was looking at my sign the whole time. He came up to hit in the 8th inning and I got some nice pictures while he was on deck.

Cabrera on deck:

Cabrera at the plate and Fielder on deck:

As the Tigers were walking back to the dugout at the end of the 8th inning, someone from the dugout flipped Prince Fielder a warm up ball, which he flipped to me! There would be no shut out for me, I was on the board! I’m almost positive that he flipped the ball to me because of my sign. It is also really cool to get a ball from your favorite player.

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

  • In the Bottom of the 3rd inning Justin Morneau singled to left, Joe Mauer scored, and Josh Willingham advanced to second.
  • In the Top of the 5th inning Jhonny Peralta doubled to deep right field to drive in Brennan Bosch.
  • In the bottom of the 5th inning Mastroianni hit a 365 foot home run to left field to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
  • In the bottom of the 6th inning Alexi Casilla doubled to deep right field to drive in Ryan Doumit and to advance Carroll to third base.
  • Later in the 6th inning Mastroianni singled to center and drove in Carroll and Casilla, but Mastroianni was tagged out trying to stretch a single into a double.
  • In the bottom of the 7th inning Ryan Doumit homered to left center field (420 feet), Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham scored. This would give Minnesota an 8-1 lead.
  • In the top of the 8th inning Miguel Cabrera reached on an infield single. Jackson scored on the play. Later in the same inning Delmon Young singled to center. Dirks scored on the play and Miguel Cabrera advanced to second.
  • In the bottom of the 8th inning with runners on first and third Josh Willingham hit a sacrifice fly to center field. Ben Revere scored.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
DET 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 3 6 0
MIN 0 0 1 0 1 3 3 1 9 18 0

When the game ended I stayed in the first row behind the dugout and waited for the coaches and players to walk in from the bullpen. (I was holding my sign too)

Pitching Coach Jeff Jones tossed me a ball just before he entered the dugout. Just as I caught the ball Scott Pickens and another player started walking in from the bullpen.

2 minutes later Scott Pickens tossed me my 3rd ball of the day.

My friend Mark took a picture of me a few minutes later in a different spot:

After this we rejoined all of our friends.

The balls are in order from when I got them. (from left to right) Prince, Jones, Pickens.

Also, for every game I go to from now on I’ll be picking a player to get the “A Piece of The Game MVP” award. I’ll be picking the player that had the most importance to my day of ball hawking. I will also be picking a player for the “Player of The Game” award. This will be who I think contributed the most to their teams’ success.

A Piece of The Game MVP:

Prince Fielder, because he kept me from being shut out, helped me achieve my goal, and is my favorite player.

Hitters AB R H RBI BB SO #P AVG OBP SLG
P Fielder 1B 3 0 0 0 1 1 12 .307 .399 .508

Player of The Game:

Sam Deduno, because he only allowed 3 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings. He also had 6 strikeouts. He worked hard which allowed the Twins hitters to relax and do their job.

 
Pitchers IP H R ER BB SO HR PC-ST ERA
S Deduno
(W, 4-0)
7.0 5 3 3 5 6 0 103-58 3.38
  • 3 balls at this game
  • 24 balls in 7 games this season = Avg. 3.42 balls per game
  • 7 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
  • 7 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
  • 8 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
  • 6 consecutive Twins home games with at least 2 balls
  • Gotten at least 1 ball from 9 different teams
  • 27 total balls

7-18-12 @ Target Field – Orioles vs. Twins

(My camera was only working for different portions of batting practice and the game so bear with me on the lack of pictures of players, coaches, and the field. My camera works now.)

My goal for this game was to get 1 Orioles Commemorative baseball. If that meant only getting that one ball, than I was fine with it.

This was only the 2nd game that I’ve been to in 3 years that I’ve seen a ball get hit and bounce to/through the gates in the right field plaza. I actually saw this happen 2 times before the gates opened.

The red lines show the path of the first ball that was hit. The ball hit the stairs (indicated by the first red circle) and bounced into the air. Then a stadium employee caught the ball (indicated by the second red circle). The employee tossed the ball over the gate. If I would’ve had my glove on I would’ve been able to easily grab the ball above all of the adults reaching for it, but my glove wasn’t on so I wasn’t able to catch the ball.

The white lines show the path of the second ball. It was a line drive homer that bounced once on the pavement (signified by the first white circle) and then shot right to me. The ball hit my arm (signified by the second white circle), bounced off of Waldo’s chest (also signified by the second white circle), and then rolled to Mr. Most’s feet (signified by the third white circle). He picked up the ball right before Waldo did.

When the gates opened I moved here:

Mr. Most stood in the left field bleachers. At every game I’ve been to this year that has had batting practice there have been at least 3 balls that were either hit into or bounce into the right field foul area. A total of 0 balls were hit to the right field foul area. There was also no luck with getting toss ups because this section was dominated by little kids trying to get baseballs. This was okay though, because whenever a player would give a kid a ball, the kid would be ecstatic. It was really fun to watch.

I was surprised I didn’t get a tossup since I was wearing this:

It is a homemade Orioles shirt. I used safety pins to pin the paper on the shirt. It looks real from 5 or more feet away. I got this idea from Mateo Fischer, a fellow ballhawk, who did the same thing with a white sox shirt in this entry on his blog.

I made it to the Orioles dugout just before batting practice ended. As everyone was putting equipment away, I asked the skipper for a ball. He nodded to me as to say yes to my request. He walked to the ball bin and grabbed 3 balls. He forgot that I was the one who asked for a ball, and threw a ball to the guy next to me.

I met up with Mr. Most in the left field bleachers next to the bullpens. There were 6 balls in the bullpens so we figured we had a pretty good chance to get 1 or 2. A ton of kids (and also adults) realized that there were balls in the bullpens. They were all standing in the aisle so they could get a ball when someone came into the bullpens. Mr. Most and I just sat on the bleachers and waited. The usher walked down the aisle and made everyone in the aisle leave. Yes, this was a very good thing! Pretty soon Drew Butera entered the Twins bullpen and tossed one of the balls to me. The throw was very low and I couldn’t catch it. Thankfully he saw that I couldn’t reach the ball and he threw me a different ball.

It was not commemorative, but I was still very happy to get a ball.

The pitchers were done warming up within 10 minutes of the game. Mr. Most and I went to buy supper, which for me was a polish sausage and pretzels.

This was the view from our seats:

The previous picture was taken during batting practice. The red rectangle shows where our seats were. The white circle shows were a foul ball was hit. That was the closest a ball got to us for the rest of the game.

When the 7th inning came around I was all ready to take a picture of the mascot race. I had a front row view of the race; the mascots would run right past me:

The purple mascot on the left side of the picture won the race by a split second. It looked like the purple mascot tied with the Target dog mascot. Not that it makes a difference…

By the top of the 9th inning, Mr. Most and I were behind the Orioles dugout anxiously waiting for a Twins walk off hit. Unfortunately the Twins couldn’t string more than one hit together. The Twins lost the game 2-1.

We stuck around and waited to see if anyone would toss up some baseballs. When the Orioles bullpen staff started walking from the bullpen to the dugout, I was looking closely to see if any of the coaches had a ball. There were no baseballs that were visible so when they reached the dugout I asked for the lineup card(s). The coach didn’t give me the lineup card(s), but a different coach made eye contact with me and tossed me a baseball. This was surprising because I didn’t ask him for anything. After thanking him I came to the conclusion that this had been the last chance for anyone in the ball park to obtain a ball, because the coach was the last team member to leave the field. Everyone else had already entered the clubhouses.

When I looked at the ball I realized that this wasn’t a normal ball, but it was a commemorative ball! This was the reason I chose to attend this game. The logo was perfect, it didn’t even have a scuff. It was a beauty:

The previous picture is really blurry because I had to use my phone camera, which doesn’t focus very well if there isn’t good lighting. It was the best picture that I could take at the time.

Here is a better picture that I took once I got home:

  • 2 balls at this game
  • 21 balls in 6 games this season = Avg. 3.5 balls per      game
  • 6 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
  • 6 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
  • 7 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
  • 5 consecutive Twins home games with at least 2 balls
  • Gotten at least 1 ball from 9 different teams
  • 24 total balls

The next game I will be attending will be on August 13th when the Tigers play the Twins at Target Field. I might get to one more game before August 13th, but I don’t know yet.

6-18-12 @ Miller Park – Blue Jays vs. Brewers

My cousins Elijah and Kyler, my Uncle Kevin and I left their house at 4:30. We arrived at Miller Park at 5:10. I was hoping to get 4 or more balls at this game. The first ball would be my 20th “lifetime” ball, and the fourth ball would be my 20th ball of this season. I was also hoping that Elijah and Kyler would each get a ball too. Things didn’t go according to the plan for the day.

When the gates opened I hurried to the Left Field Loge escalator, ran to the top, and then walked quickly to the left field bleachers. Just as I was entering the bleachers an Usher stopped me. I turned around to look at him and then he tossed me a ball. I thanked him, and then took a picture of him “reenacting” the scene. I counted this ball in my stats. I do not count balls in my stats if they are given to me by a fan (I politely decline if a fan offers me a ball).

(Picture #1) By looking at his Brewers I.D. card I found out that his name is Jim.

(Picture #2) What I saw when I turned towards the field.

This is where things turned sour. Elijah, Kyler and I walked down the aisle to the first few rows and didn’t see any players taking batting practice. In fact, there wasn’t a single player on the field. Then an usher told me that both teams had taken batting practice before the gates opened because there was going to be a little league parade on the field before the game.

I decided to take the boys to the Blue Jays bullpen in right field. I was really hoping that there were still some balls in the bullpen from batting practice.

Bullpen

An hour later J.P. Arencibia walked into the bullpen. He tossed the ball on the right to me, and the ball on the left to Elijah. This would be my last ball of the day. Elijah had just gotten his first ball ever; now I wanted Kyler to get a ball.

(J.P. Arencibia, Henderson Alvarez)

Alverez started throwing to Arencibia. When they were done warming up, Kyler asked for the ball. They couldn’t hear him so I yelled “Henderson!” and pointed at Kyler. Alverez had already turned his back and was walking away, but he turned around when he heard my voice. As he turned towards us he threw the ball to me, and then I gave it to Kyler. This may be cheap, but I since I caught the ball and then gave it to Kyler, it counts for me.

The game was about to start so we rode the escalator to the second level and found Uncle Kevin and our seats. This was the view from our seats:

Brett Lawrie homered to center to leadoff the game.

Rickie weeks singled to center to score Morgan and Braun.

In the bottom of the second inning Aokie reached on a bunt single, and Maysonet scored. Braun reached base after hitting into a fielder’s choice to third, and Wolf scored. Then Ramirez doubled to right center, Morgan and Braun scored.

In the top of the 3rd inning, Encarnacion grounded into a double play, and Brett Lawrie scored.

  • After 3 innings the score was: Toronto 2, Milwaukee 6

In the top of the 6th Encarnacion homered to left center.

In the top of the 7th Bautista homered to left field, Lawrie and Rasmus both scored.

In the bottom of the 7th Ramirez homered to left field. It was so close to the foul pole that the umpires had to use instant replay to make the call.

  • After 7 innings the score was: Toronto 6, Milwaukee 7

After the 7th inning no one else scored.

In the 6th inning Elijah, Kyler and I went to the club level because we knew someone who works at Miller Park. We found some seats to sit in behind the plate. I asked an usher to take a picture of us:

If you look at our faces you can tell that none of us were ready for the picture to be taken.

After the inning was over we walked to the right field foul territory by the foul pole to watch the game. The usher came and told us we couldn’t sit there… so we got up and walked back to our seats. We sat back down with Uncle Kevin until the end of the 8th inning. Once the 8th was done we got up and walked to the concourse. We waited at the top of the aisle by the Blue Jays dugout for the game to end. John Axford made 3 quick outs to win the game. As soon as the third out was made we ran down the aisle to the dugout to try to get baseballs/autographs/other cool stuff.

We waited for Toronto’s bullpen players and coaches to walk to the dugout:

Here’s a closer look:

Left arrow: Pete Walker

Right arrow: Jesus Figuero

When the players and coaches got to the dugout I yelled, “Coach could I get the lineup card please?” Bullpen Coach Pete Walker (left arrow) stopped at the entrance to the dugout (right across from me) and pulled out the lineup card. Then he tossed it across the dugout to me. I thanked him and then he disappeared into the dugout. At the same time as this, Jesus Figuero (right arrow) tossed a ball to Elijah, and then to Kyler.

We each ended up with 2 balls, and I also got the lineup card from the Blue Jays bullpen. We found Uncle Kevin and then got an usher to take a picture of all of us.

Ball #1, Ball #2, Blue Jays Lineup card.

Note: When we got back to the my cousins’ house I gave my cousin Caleb a baseball. The ball was my second of the day on 5-9-12. Click here to see the post.

My next game I will be attending will be on July 18 when the Orioles play in Minneapolis.

  • 3 balls at this game
  • 19 balls in 5 games this season = Avg. 3.8 balls per game
  • 5 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
  • 5 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
  • 1 consecutive Brewers home game with at least 1 ball
  • 1 consecutive Brewers home game with at least 2 balls
  • 1 consecutive Brewers home game with at least 3 balls
  • Gotten at least 1 ball from 8 different teams
  • 22 total balls

6-13-12 @ Target Field – Phillies vs. Twins

I was really excited for this game for 3 reasons:

  1. I think the Phillies are very fun to watch
  2. It was an Interleague game
  3. I really wanted a few baseballs from the Phillies

A friend and I had driven to the game. When the gates opened we ran to this spot:

While in left field for 15 minutes I was denied a baseball 3 times. The players flat-out said “no”. Since there was no luck with toss ups I focused on catching home runs. I had no chance because the bleachers were full of people. It wouldn’t have mattered much anyways, because there weren’t a lot of players hitting them into the left field bleachers.

Since most of the people were standing in the bleachers, I ran to the foul line in right field. A ball landed in the row behind me but it bounced back to the field before I could grab it. It was a missed opportunity where I should have easily made the catch.

Sometime later another ball was hit in my direction. I ran down the row to grab it, but when I reached down for the ball, a lady in the row ahead of me reached under the seat and snagged it before I could get a hand on it.  Just as this was happening a player (the player on the bottom of the next picture) was going to throw me a ball, but he thought I grabbed the previous ball so he threw the ball to the same lady. She then gave it to her son, who had 3.

At 5:56 pm B.J. Rosenberg (the player on the top of the previous picture) fielded a ball near me. Since he had looked at me numerous times but hadn’t thrown me a ball I said, “Can I just have 1 ball please?” he responded, “Dude you got like 5!” I did my best to quickly explain how I came close to getting a few and how I still came up empty. I don’t know if he believed me or not, but he threw me the ball.

That was it for batting practice. 1 ball.

Fast forward to the game…

In the fourth inning Jim Thome hit a 454 foot homerun over the batters eye. It was the longest anyone has hit a home run at Target Field.

After the National Anthem Mr. Most (my friend that I was at the game with) and I bought Polish sausages. They were mouth-watering, and very messy. In the 7th inning Mr. Most bought us each a bag of mini donuts. In the bottom of the 8th inning I got us 2 tickets for behind the dugout.

The Twins lost 9-8 in 9 innings. Mr. Most and I stood behind the dugout when the game was over. A couple of minutes later, someone from the dugout rolled a ball across the top of the dugout. This was ball #2 for the day.

I gave the second ball to Mr. Most. In the next picture the ball is on the left.

I took the next picture when I got home (1 pictured because I gave 1 away).

  • 2 balls at this game
  • 16 balls in 4 games this season = Avg. 4 balls per game
  • 4 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
  • 4 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
  • 4 consecutive Twins Home Games with at least 2 balls
  • 6 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
  • Gotten at least 1 ball from 6 different teams
  • 19 total balls

The next game I’m going to is on 6-18-12 at Miller Park. I’m hoping to get my 20th ball there on Monday.