For my last game in Florida I was back in a familiar place:
Similar to two days prior, I sought out autographs until the practice fields opened at 9 o’clock. Today I was hoping to get the autographs of two of the Red Sox top Prospects – Trey Ball and Mookie Betts. To my surprise I got both:
Even though I was doing a lot of ballhawking, I still found it very enjoyable to sit and just watch the minor leaguers practice. I can remember one instance where a bunch of players gathered near home plate to watch an instructional from one of the coaches – it was a very picturesque moment:
After seeing a few minor leaguers practice on their fields I began to ballhawk in the same place I had a few days earlier:
Within a few short minutes I got on the board. This ball was courtesy of Brian Johnson as he walked off the practice fields:
I retrieved my second ball when it was hit down the line by an unknown player in the Red Sox farm system:
My third ball was also hit down the line:
Most of the people who were near me weren’t paying attention to the baseballs that were flying in our direction. Had I not been paying attention, a slicing line drive would’ve hit a man who was standing near me. After I caught the ball I was going to take a picture of it, but I decided to give it to him instead. He’s holding the ball in this picture:
In the previous picture do you see the Red Sox player in right field? His name is Jon Diaz. I was able to catch one more ball that flew my way, but I offered it back to Jon because it was in such poor shape. He motioned for me to keep it, but I threw it to him anyways because it was pretty gross. It wasn’t even picture worthy.
When Jet Blue Park opened at 11:00 o’clock I went directly to the grassy section in right field. Within the first 5 minutes I caught a David Ortiz home run on the fly:
After snagging those two balls in the first ten minutes of being in the ballpark, it wasn’t until the last ten minutes of batting practice when I snagged my next baseball. My 8th ball of the day was as toss up from one of these three players:
Although I cannot remember who threw the ball to me, I do remember that he only threw it to me because I gestured that I would give it to the kid next to me. Immediately after catching it I handed it to the kid who is in the forefront of this picture:
That was it for batting practice. When the game started I found a standing room spot behind the Rays bullpen:
Do you see the guy standing behind the plate? His name is Scott Cursi and he doubles as the Rays bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher. Scott is a very friendly guy who enjoys talking to fans. He and the lady next to me were old friends so in the second inning he came over to catch up with her. When they finished chatting she asked something like, “Do you have a really nice baseball that I could have?” That’s when I joking (half seriously) said, “Do you have any really really dirty baseballs?” I didn’t expect him to acknowledge me, but he replied, “Hah! I have tons of those, hold on a minute!” After he grabbed a nice ball for the lady, he gave these to me:
For the next few innings I photographed the concourse starting in right field. I walked towards home plate and then continued to left field:
After exploring everything at my disposal (Also one or two places that may or may not have been off limits) I returned to watch the remainder of the game. Here’s the panoramic view from where I watched the game:
The Red Sox beat the Rays 6-2. Here is the box score and other info from the game:
I got an early start to the day by arriving to Jet Blue Park by 8 o’clock in the morning. Let me say, it was a beautiful day:
Because the practice fields weren’t set to open until 9, I hung around the batting cages hoping to get a few autographs. And that’s just what happened. I was able to get the signatures of Jose Vinicio, Christopher Acosta, Henry Ramos, Javier Guerra, Reed Gragnani, Matthew Price, and two other MiLB players who I wasn’t able to recognize. As each player signed for me I tried to take a picture of them. Sometimes I got the picture as they were signing my baseball, and other times I got the picture after they walked away. I got a picture of everyone who signed for me:
When the practice facility opened at 9 o’clock I made my way over to where John Lackey and Allen Webster were playing catch:
Allen and John were a bit sloppy, and the ball sailed on each of them a few times. My first ball of the day came when Allen overthrew John so much that it even cleared my head. After retrieving the ball, I threw a bullet all the way back to Allen Webster. I didn’t want the ball because John Lackey divorced his wife while she was battling cancer. So yeah, I threw it back to Allen.
Following this, I returned to the entrance of the practice fields because the Red Sox scrubs had begun taking batting practice on multiple fields. This was my view in front of me:
This was the view to my right:
This was my view to my left:
I was in a pretty good spot to get a few baseballs. I scooped up my second ball of the day when a liner was hit down the right field line:
Dedgar Jimenez, one of the players in right field, threw me my third ball of the day:
When I wasn’t paying attention there were a few players who walked past me on their way back to the clubhouse. Like I said – I wasn’t paying attention then, but Oscar Taveras sought out my attention because he wanted to give this baseball to me:
Cool stuff! Minor League players are so friendly. Around 11 o’clock all practices ended, and then a scrimmage started on one of the far fields. I decided to play foul balls from this spot:
It wasn’t long before I had my first foul ball of the scrimmage. I was going to take a photograph of it, but I didn’t get a chance because a player ran over to retrieve it from me. The ball wasn’t in the best shape so I didn’t hesitate to throw it back to him.
When the scrimmage ended at 12:30 I was left with nothing to do other than walk around the outside of Jet Blue Park. After a few hours I decided to buy a ticket to the 3:00 tour of Jet Blue Park. I was told that I was supposed to meet the rest of the group outside the team store:
Our tour guide led us into the stadium early:
And then she led us on the field to watch the Red Sox take batting practice. I would’ve liked to have someone take my picture, but since everyone was a perfect stranger I decided to just take a cliché selfie:
My view of the ballpark was magnificent:
Being on the field was great, but I just wanted to be behind the fence in right field catching homeruns. When I bought the ticket for the tour I thought I would be able to hang out in the grassy seating area in right field. Had I known I would have to wait behind home plate for an hour and a half, I wouldn’t have gone on the tour.
When the rest of the stadium opened, I went to work. I started by catching a home run on the fly that was hit by an unknown Orioles player:
Next I retrieved a ball that had earlier been hit into the bullpen by David Ortiz. I’m not sure why, but I gave this ball away before I took a picture of it. I must not have thought clearly – I gave away a ball that was hit by Ortiz!
This was my view when the game started at 7:05 ET:
My ticketed seat was in the grassy section in right field:
I watched the first three innings of the game, but then I decided it was time to leave. After spending 12+ hours at the baseball complex, I had enough baseball. Plus I was tired out and ready to go to bed.
Here’s the box score and other info from the game: