Most of the Target Field crew had planned to be in attendance. Tony and Nate were the first I saw:
Mateo showed up a few minutes prior to the gates opening, but he wasn’t alone. Josh Hyber, a reporter from the Star Tribune, accompanied Mateo to the game. He was gathering information for a future article that would feature the ballhawks of Target Field. Here’s a link to the article that he posted on July 30th.
Once the gates opened I was given a good reason to thank Brian Duensing:
After moving around for the Twins portion of batting practice I also had an opportunity to thank Eddie Rosario for what he bestowed upon me:
I snagged those three balls within the first 13 minutes, and then that was it. I didn’t catch anymore baseballs at the game, but I was able to get Byron Buxton’s signature before the game started!
Not too long afterwards I found out that Byron had just started using a new signature because he was called up to the Big Leagues. This was one of the first autographs that he signed this way. It’s sort of neat that I got one of the first new signatures!
The Twins took a 0-1 lead in the first inning, but the White Sox battled back and took a 1-2 lead in the third inning. The Twins were able to hold the White Sox to those two runs for the remainder of the game. Mauer homered in the 4th, and then Suzuki and Vargas also picked up an RBI of their own later in the same inning. Nunez put the cherry on top when he also homered later in the fourth. Vargas joined the HR parade when he hit a three run shot in the 6th inning. Hunter picked up a pair of RBI’s when he doubled in the 6th. In the 8th inning Brian Dozier became the fourth Twin to homer in the game. The Twins won 2-13. Tommy Milone picked up the Win for the Twins while John Danks was stuck with the loss. You can click here to watch the highlights video from the game. Here’s the info from the game:
…I undoubtedly will also share the usual entry ending group shot:
TOTALS: 3 balls at this game. 26 balls this year.
UP NEXT: Mariners vs. Twins 07/30/15
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!
This was the second game of the series that took place over fan appreciation weekend. There was a lot that happened at this game so i’ll try to save you from all the details and just give you what’s important. Since it was a Saturday night game, the game would start at 6:10. When the gates opened at four o’clock I quickly got a ball from Oswaldo Arcia:
With that, I snagged my only ball during the rest of batting practice. Not just the Twins portion, but that was it for all of batting practice. Oh, but my day was only beginning! As soon as the Indians left the field their bullpen catcher, Armando Camacaro, tossed these two balls to me:
I thought that was really neat that he tossed two balls to me. After looking around for a bit I decided to give them both away. I gave one to a little girl near the dugout and I gave the other to an usher so that he could give it to a kid during the game.
Did you see the Indians player in the previous picture? That’s Zach Walters. Earlier this season he signed a ball for me at Kauffman Stadium, but it wasn’t an official major league baseball. This time I got an official ball signed:
Maybe you couldn’t tell from the last picture, but by the end of batting practice there were storm clouds rolling in. It wasn’t to long before the heavens opened up. This caused an hour and ten minute rain delay before the game even started! When the rain stopped, the grounds crew went to work on the field:
Shortly before the game started I made my way out to the standing room area above the bullpen. One of the Twins bullpen catchers, Ben Richardson, retrieved two baseballs to throw to me and the guy next to me. Ben tossed the first ball to the guy next to me, but the guy dropped it. Look where the ball ended up:
Ben would’ve thrown the ball back up, but there was no second chance because the ball was stuck on the beam. It would’ve been easy to get the ball if I would’ve had an umbrella but it was nearly impossible otherwise. Ben threw the next ball to me – my fourth of the game. Normally I wouldn’t give a ball to a grown man, but I did this time because I felt bad for him. I didn’t feel bad that he dropped the ball, I felt bad because he dropped the ball in front of his attractive girlfriend. That’s gotta be tough!
Keeping track? I’d now snagged four balls and given three away. A few minutes later I got my fifth ball from Lester Oliveros:
This was one of those signed tee balls that the Twins players always give away over fan appreciation weekend. I’ve gotten a few of these in previous fan appreciation games at Target Field over the years.
After what seemed like an eternity, the game finally started around 7:30. Trevor May took the hill for Minnesota and T.J. House took the hill for Cleveland. By the end of the second inning the Twins were losing 3-1.
Remember the Twitter giveaway that the Twins were doing the night before? The Twins hold the contest all weekend. Today I won a ball in the third inning:
This ball was signed by Alex Presley. One of the balls from yesterday was also signed by Presley. His last appearance with the Twins was on September 29th, 2013. By the end of the third inning the Twins were losing 4-2.
I won another ball in the sixth inning:
This ball was signed by another former Twins, Pedro Florimon. Florimon was never very good, but I liked him for the short time that he played for the Twins.
Later in the game I decided to get a better view. I thought this was pretty good:
Brian Dozier hit a home run in the eighth inning, but the Twins still trailed 7-3. After the game I got my 8th ball from Umpire Brian Knight:
Wow! Everything seemed to be going right today. Everything went right except for the score of the game. Here’s the recap:
I got my ninth and final ball of the day from Armando Camacaro as he entered the dugout after walking in from the bullpen. It looked pretty good:
That was now three balls from Armando today! After getting that baseball I began walking through the seating bowl towards gate 34 to exit the stadium. As I passed the Twins dugout I noticed that Casey Fien was signing autographs for people. I took the extra minute to get one of my baseballs signed:
Casey Fien is a cool guy. Whenever I see him at the ballpark he is always interacting with fans in some way. Here’s the final haul from today:
Seven baseballs were pictured, but only six were from the game. The ball signed by Casey Fien was a ball I’d brought from home in case of an autograph opportunity. Otherwise, six balls were pictured because I gave three away. Nine baseballs and five autographs – i’ll take that any day!
Today was bound to be a fun day at Target Field because it was the first day of fan appreciation weekend! Does anyone remember the Twins’ Twitter contest/giveaways from last year? That’s the reason I came back this year.
My day started off with a toss up from the Twins’ friendliest outfielder, Oswaldo Arcia:
Waldo, Mike and I would back up onto the plaza when Chris Parmelee stepped into the box because he was absolutely crushing the ball today. After a few rounds though, I was caught off guard and I was still in the front row of the section when Parmelee hit a ball that was going to land on the plaza. Somehow I was able to get from the first row of the section to the flagpole in the plaza in time to make a running and leaping catch with my arm fully extended above my head. It was by far the best catch I’ve ever made.
The Twins didn’t stay on the field much longer, and soon they were replaced by the Indians:
Fun fact: This was the third Indians game I’d been to this year, but I still hadn’t snagged a ball from them. During batting practice I met up with Nate Duppler, his brother Ben, and their friends Andrew and Noah.
The Twins tweeted this shortly before the game started:
This is how the Twins annual Twitter giveaway works: At the top of each inning the Twins tweet a spot at Target Field where the 1st fan to find the Twins rep wins an autographed ball. The Twins tweeted this during the second inning:
Nate and I both won again. Mine was signed by Vance Worley:
Vance Worley’s last appearance for the Twins was on May 22nd, 2013. I guess the Twins were clearing out some items they didn’t need anymore!
The first run of the game came in the third inning when Oswaldo Arcia hit a home run to right field. The Indians answered back in the fourth inning by stringing a few hits together, scoring 2 runs in the process. In the fourth inning Kennys Vargas tied the game by hitting a solo shot to right field. This was the third consecutive game i’d been to where Vargas hit a homerun.
I won another baseball in the sixth inning:
Kevin Correia is another former Twin. His last appearance for the Twins was on August 6th, 2014. I was also the winner of the seventh inning giveaway:
This ball was signed by another former Twin, Alex Presley. Presley’s last appearance with the Twins was on September 29th, 2013. Hmm, all three balls that I won from the Twins were signed by players who were no longer members of the Twins. I think that’s kind of funny.
By the end of the seventh inning the score was 4-3, Cleveland. The twins tied the game in the ninth inning but couldn’t push for a victory quite yet. Looking to redeem himself after striking out in the ninth inning, Trevor Plouffe approached the plate with the bases loaded in the tenth. Luckily I was smart enough to record his walk off hit:
If you watched the video then you saw that after the game Mr. Fieldin Culbreth, the home plate umpire, gave the line up cards to me without me even asking. Pretty sweet!
Here are the highlights from the game:
My final haul from the day included five baseballs, three autographs, and two line up cards:
Nate set a new personal record of seven baseballs in one game. We both had a pretty good day ballhawking, but I’m sure that we both had an even better time just being at the game. This was one of my favorite games this season. Now the Twins have won seven of the eight Twins games I’ve been to this year. This was the third Twins walk off I’ve seen this year!
This game wasn’t in my season ticket package, but when I saw it on the schedule a few days prior I knew I wanted to go. This game, a Tuesday night game in mid September, practically had “low attendance” written all over it. Within a few minutes of entering Target Field, I was in possession of a pretty good looking baseball:
I was able to snag that when Chris Parmelee hit an absolute bomb to the plaza. I wasn’t able to get to it in time to catch it on the fly, but a ball is a ball! A few minutes went by and soon a Twins leftie, who I couldn’t identify, hit a homer that landed in section 136. Although I was a section away, I was the first to scramble to the ball:
That was it for the Twins portion of batting practice. The Twins had a really good session of batting practice today. With how the Twins were hitting I should have come away with a few more balls. Had I not been beat out by Waldo and one of the ushers a few times, I would’ve had five from the Twins session alone. It was nice to see the Twins had some pop in their bats. When the Tigers took the field I snagged one more baseball before I quit ballhawking. That was thanks to an unidentified Tigers player who hit this ball a very long ways:
I’m not exactly sure what it was about this ball but it stood out to me for some reason. After looking the ball over I decided this was the perfect ball to play catch with. The grip was great, the ball was slightly mudded up, and it was worn perfectly. From the looks of it, it was probably a game ball at one point. After snagging that last ball, I put my glove away for a while. Normally I wouldn’t do this, but I made an exception because Kennys Vargas and Danny Santana were scheduled to sign autographs in the team store beginning at 5:40. There was a big of a line ahead of me:
Vargas and Santana both had performed very well for the Twins this year. They’re expected to be some of the future stars of the Twins. If they continue to play like they did this year, then I have no doubt that they will someday lead the Twins. Vargas’ signature is on the left, and Santana’s is on the right:
Pretty, aren’t they? Those were nice additions to my autograph collection. I was back to snagging baseballs by 6:00, but the Tigers left the field soon after. At this point the stadium was practically empty:
I spent the majority of the game in the right field plaza with Waldo. Waldo has grown on me this year and I have come to enjoy his company during Twins games. Kennys Vargas got the ball rolling for the Twins in the fourth inning by hitting his first career triple. Later in the inning, Kurt Suzuki hit an RBI single to left field. The score remained 1-0 until Kennys Vargas hit a solo home run to right field in the sixth inning. Waldo and I each tracked the homerun, but it didn’t have enough distance to reach us on the plaza. Ricky Nolasco, for once, was pitching a phenomenal game. He threw 109 pitches in eight innings, struck out five guys, and he only allowed five hits and one walk. Glen Perkins, for once, pitched poorly. He gave up a double to Torii Hunter, a single to Miguel Cabrera, and a home run to J.D. Martinez. Curious about how this one ended? Watch the video!
I simply could not believe what happened. With the help of Plouffe, Bernier, Herrmann, Suzuki, Nunez and Hicks, the Twins were able to come away with the walk off victory. Wow. Of the seven Twins games I’ve been to this year, this was the sixth win and the second walk off victory. Go Twins! When the game ended, I got this gem from Umpire Cory Blaser:
That was a real pearl. On my way out of Target Field I grabbed a bag of pistachios, courtesy of Wonderful. See all the pistachio boxes?:
I found a few All Star items on the way out of the ballpark. Just a note: The ball that Vargas signed was from 9/11/13 when the A’s were in town. It was my 99th baseball snagged. More blog entries are on their way!
Mateo and I were back at Kauffman for the second and final game of our trip. While the two of us got to Kauffman for batting practice, Garrett decided he would join us at game time.
Coming into the day Kansas City and Detroit were tied for the division lead. Cleveland, winning six of the last seven, was just 3.5 games back. With just under a month left in baseball, the American League Central Division race was tightening up. That was reason enough to move this Sunday afternoon game to Sunday Night for ESPN’s broadcast of Sunday Night Baseball.
The Royals were still on the field when we entered the stadium, but they had a pretty quiet batting practice and there wasn’t much excitement.
With Vargas, Guthrie and Davis (all very fan friendly players) snagging balls in left field I was hopeful to get on the board early but the players were seemingly as quiet as their bats were in batting practice.
It wasn’t long before the Royals visited the clubhouse and the Indians took over on the field:
Although there was a different team on the field, batting practice still remained quiet. I quickly noticed that although the gates had just opened, there were already crowds of people pouring into the stadium. Soon there were so many people who the outfield was almost unnavigable. This made it much more difficult to get a baseball.
By no means did it ruin the game, but it was still frustrating that this was the third game in a row at which I was shutout. Towards the end of batting practice I made my way over to the Indians dugout where I got Zack Walter’s autograph on a baseball that I had brought with me. Here he is signing it for me:
Instead of finding a seat when the game started, Mateo and I found our way here:
Since Kauffman Stadium has mini golf, pitching and batting cages, and a few other activities beyond the outfield walls, we decided we would try something new. That meant us playing mini golf in a professional baseball stadium. I was able to snag this picture while Mateo was in deep concentration as he was about to tee off on the first hole:
If he ever gets bored of ballhawking in the future he could always pick up mini golf. After spending some time at the speed pitch and in the batting cages, we did tune into the game.
The Royals scored a run in the first inning, but the Indians tied it up in the third. The Indians went on to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning when Mike Aviles hit a sac fly to center field. Entering the 9th inning the Royals were still down 2-1, but Alex Gordon tied the game when he homered to right center field. His 462 foot shot was the longest of his career, the longest home run by a Royals hitter in 2014 and the 2nd longest by a Royal’s player since ESPN began tracking homers in 2006. Because the Royals couldn’t make the extra push for a walk off victory, the Indians and Royals entered into extra innings for the second night in a row.
Rain interrupted the game in the 10th inning and forced both teams off the field. Most fans left, but Garret, Mateo and I endured the rain delay. We were ready to stake it out through the bad weather, even if that meant waiting for a few hours for the game to resume. Unfortunately this was shown on the big screen after a lengthy delay:
The Royals lost the game 22 days later and 790 miles away from Kauffman Stadium. I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas (City) anymore. Did anyone catch that reference?
If you’d like to see how the game finished in Cleveland, I suggest watching this recap of the game:
It was great to see a few games at Kauffman Stadium. It’s just too bad we didn’t get to see the Royals win. The trip went very well – The driving was good, the games were fun, and the weather was arguably fair. On behalf of Mateo and myself, a huge thank you goes out to Garrett for letting us stay with him on Saturday and Sunday night. You made this trip very enjoyable!
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: