Tagged: Autographs

White Sox vs. Twins @ Target Field (06-22-15)

Most of the Target Field crew had planned to be in attendance. Tony and Nate were the first I saw:

20150622_163554

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:

20150622_170341

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:

20150622_171005

These two baseballs were nice, but the real treat was snagging one of Kenny Vargas’ batting practice home runs. It was a beauty:
20150622_171342

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!

20150622_184611 20150622_184633

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:

info

…I undoubtedly will also share the usual entry ending group shot:

20150705_013419

TOTALS: 3 balls at this game. 26 balls this year.

UP NEXT: Mariners vs. Twins 07/30/15

2015 Fan Fests of the AL Central Division

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

sox

Date: January 23-25, 2015

Hours: Hours have not yet been announced.

Location:

Hilton Chicago

720 South Michigan Avenue

Chicago, Illinois, 60605

Parking: Hotel Parking

Admission Ticket Pricing:

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

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

Autograph Voucher Pricing: Included in admission price

Things that have improved from last year:

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

If I was the GM I would…

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

My Overall Grade of SoxFest LAST YEAR: B-

My Overall Grade of SoxFest THIS YEAR: B

tribe

Date: January 24-25, 2015

Hours:

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

Location:

Progressive Field

2401 Ontario Street

Cleveland, OH 44115

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

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

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND

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

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

Autograph Information:

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

Things that have improved since last year:

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

If I was the GM I would…

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

My Overall Grade of Tribe Fest LAST YEAR: C+

My Overall Grade of Tribe Fest THIS YEAR: B

tigers

Date: January 24, 2015

Hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location:

Comerica Park

2100 Woodward Avenue

Detroit, MI 48201-3470

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

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

*Tickets are sold out.*

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

The Detroit Tigers Kids Zone featuring:

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

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

Things that have improved since last year:

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

If I was the GM I would…

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

My Overall Grade of TigerFest LAST YEAR: A

My Overall Grade of TigerFest THIS YEAR: A

royals

Date: January 30-31, 2015

Hours:

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

Location:

Bartle Hall at the Kansas City Convention Center

301 W 13th St #100

Kansas City, MO 64105

Parking: There are many parking options close to Bartle Hall

Admission Ticket Pricing:

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

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

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND:

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

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

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

Things that have improved since last year:

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

If I was the GM I would…

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

My Overall Grade of Royals FanFest LAST YEAR: B+

My Overall Grade of Royals FanFest THIS YEAR: B+

twins

Date: January 23-25, 2015

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

Location:

Target Field

1 Twins Way

Minneapolis, MN

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

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

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND:

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

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

Things that have improved since last year:

  • The Twins have added a few new fan activities.

If I was the GM I would…

  • Lower the Admission price from $20.

My Overall Grading LAST YEAR: A

My Overall Grading THIS YEAR: A

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

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

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

IMG_20140924_092239_719

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:

IMG_20140924_103012_064

When they finished, Kyle threw the ball to me:

IMG_20140924_103051_723

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:

IMG_20140924_103554_068

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:

IMG_20140924_104418_651

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:

IMG_20140924_104814_939

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:

IMG_20140924_105102_854

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:

IMG_20140924_105311_684

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:

200

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:

IMG_20140924_111826_306

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:

plouffe autos

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:

IMG_20140924_115508_528 IMG_20140924_115541_387

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:

IMG_20140924_115655_218

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:

IMG_20140924_141457_896 IMG_20140924_141459_860

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:

IMG_20140924_142714_109

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:

IMG_20140924_155441_349

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:

IMG_20140926_131759_077

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!

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

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

IMG_20140920_160906_972

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:

IMG_20140920_170322_079

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:

IMG_20140920_170402_926

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:

IMG_20140920_182946_414 IMG_20140920_183047_931

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:

IMG_20140920_184357_677

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:

IMG_20140920_190320_458

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:

9-20 top 3

IMG_20140920_200029_526

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:

9-20 top 6

 

IMG_20140920_210424_080

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:

IMG_20140920_222126_293

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:

IMG_20140920_222401_698

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:

IMG_20140920_222625_558

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:

IMG_20140920_222957_027

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:

IMG_20140926_130356_778

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!

Tigers vs. Twins @ Target Field (09-16-14)

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: IMG_20140916_170415_112

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: IMG_20140916_171200_594

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: IMG_20140916_172258_609

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: IMG_20140916_173109_299

Once the line got moving it continued to move along pretty steadily. Soon I was next: IMG_20140916_174928_568

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: IMG_20140916_175025_561

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: IMG_20140916_182237_494

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:

IMG_20140916_215004_179

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?:

IMG_20140916_220303_734

It reminded me of the All Star Game when I was given a box of cheez-its. This was the final haul of the day: IMG_20140918_244245_188

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!

Twins 2014 Winter Caravan – Part 2

I always love when the Twins Caravan stops in Rochester every January because it means that the next season is drawing near. This year, the Twins Winter Caravan visited Rochester on Tuesday, January 14 at the Ramada Inn. Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, Cory Provus, and Terry Ryan were all in attendance.

The event was supposed to start off with a 2013 Twins highlight video, but for the second year in a row there were technical difficulties. The video malfunction was ironic considering the Twins 66-96 record from the 2013 season.

After the video was postponed due to the “rain delay”, Corey Provus kicked things off with some Q&A. Each answered Provus’s questions, and any other questions that the audience had for them.

After some raffle prizes were given away, people could get in line for autographs. I only took a few pictures, and I’ll admit that they are not great:

IMG_20140114_200826_974

Left to right: Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, and Terry Ryan. IMG 1/3

IMG_20140114_200819_533

Left to right: Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, and Terry Ryan. IMG 2/3

IMG_20140114_200814_632

Left to right: Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, and Terry Ryan. IMG 3/3

Before this, I had never gotten an autograph on any of the baseballs that I’ve ballhawked because I like to keep them in the condition that I got them in. Usually I get a baseball card or a ticket signed, but this time I decided to get two baseballs signed. I figured that since it’s not every day that I have the chance to get Paul Molitor and Tony Oliva’s autograph (especially for free), I wanted to get their signatures on something more meaningful than a baseball card. After looking at all my baseballs, I picked the two that were in the best shape. If I were grading them on their quality, then I would give each a 9.5/10.

Paul Molitor signed my 97th baseball, which was thrown by an unknown Athletics player. Tony Oliva signed my 98th, which was a bp homer that was hit by an unknown Athletics player. I got both baseballs at the A’s vs. Twins game I attended last September. Kyle Gibson signed the ticket that I brought, and Caleb Thielbar signed an enlarged photo that was being supplied.

IMG_20140116_181222_214

When I was in line I told Kyle Gibson that I had been there to see his first Major League WIN on June 29 and how I had saved my ticket incase I would ever get the chance for him to sign it. A very big smile came across his face and he got very excited that I remembered his special day. It was a pretty cool 1 on 1 moment. Here’s a close up of the signed ticket.

1389756149267

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but Paul Molitor is my all-time favorite baseball player. Within the last year I (unintentionally) started a collection of Paul Molitor autographed memorabilia. I wrote “unintentionally” because I only sought out Paul Molitor’s autograph the first time. The second and third autographs came as a surprise. For example, I won a Paul Molitor signed baseball at a Twins game last September. That was a very big surprise!

What about the third autograph? Yeah, I bought a ticket to the Twins Caravan this year, but that was before I knew Paul Molitor would be in attendance. I wasn’t expecting him to be there until I checked the details for the event. Once again, I was surprised! It’s kind of funny how that worked out in such a good way!

1389755503370

Overall, Twins Winter Caravan was a fun event to attend. Everyone heard from Terry Ryan about what’s going on inside the Twins Organization this offseason, and what they’re doing in order to get back on track this coming season. Over the offseason they have signed free agents Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Kurt Suzuki, and Jason Kubel, along with numerous Minor League players. The Twins also traded Ryan Doumit to Atlanta for LHP Sean Gilmartin, and finalized a deal with the Pirates that sent Duke Welker to Pittsburgh in exchange for Kris Johnson. One of the most popular “Transactions” this offseason has been the addition of Paul Molitor to the Twin’s coaching staff.

Saything that Terry Ryan hopes the Twins can turn things around in 2014 would be an understatement. Mr. Ryan wants nothing more than to leave the team’s troubles in the past. “Our biggest struggle the last three years has been that rotation and keeping overtaxing that bullpen,” Ryan said. “If we can fix the starting rotation, I think it will help fix some of the other problems we have, in particular our offense. We’ve struggled scoring runs as well.”

Terry Ryan also can not wait to get to spring training. He said, “I’m ready to go, Lets get down there and do something about it.” There were even a few different times he mentioned that pitchers and catchers report on February 16th.

I think I’m speaking for most of the people who attended the caravan when I say that for that brief 1.5 hours I forgot about the cold and snowy Minnesota winter weather, and I imagined myself in Fort Meyers for Spring Training, and at Target Field this summer. Let’s go Twins!

Photographic Highlights of the 2013 Baseball Season

The last baseball season was filled with many highlights; so many that I wouldn’t be able to name all of them if I tried. It wasn’t ever a goal of mine to capture the highlights of the season on camera, but the thought has crossed my mind for next season. I did a decent job of unintentionally capturing SOME of the highlights of this year, but I would like to take it a few steps further in 2014. Obviously there is no way to capture every highlight on camera, so I’m going to take a different approach.

Since I’m a big fan of artsy photography, I plan to explore that more in 2014 to produce more of my own artsy photos. My goal is that next year’s installment is less of a “Photographic Highlights Review” and more of a collection of Quality Photos that I will have taken. Because photography has a lot to do with perception, I am going to pay more attention to how I look at detail. Not every photo will look glorious or majestic, but I am going to focus on capturing the excitement (or whatever feeling it may be) of my surroundings to make sure I take more artsy (and meaningful) photos.

You might be wondering why I told you all of that. Well, this entry is my guinea pig. Next year I want to be able to look back at this entry so I can make the next installment better than this one. For now, though, here is the 2013 Photographic Highlights Review. The pictures are in chronological order (the numbers don’t mean anything, they’re just a reference point).

DSCN2737

1. In The Beginning… #1 of 2013 – 4/1/13

DSCN2784

2. Game 1 / Section 1 – 4/1/13

DSCN2840

3. The Dynamic Duo – 4/1/13

IMG_20130402_193505_151

4. Its Miller Time – 4/2/13

DSCN2865

5. Father/Son Moments – 4/2/13

DSCN2878

6. Friday’s Front Row Grill – Rickie Weeks BP Homer. – 4/3/13

DSCN2898

7. Pretty Artsy, Right? – 4/3/13

DSCN2906

8. Gonzalez x2 – 4/3/13

DSCN2937

9. You. Are. So. Jealous. – 4/16/13

IMG_20130416_175944_733

10. Camera Tricks – 4/16/13

IMG_20130416_192752_726

11. Free Tickets – 4/16/13

IMG_20130628_163658_534

12. Cloudy With a Chance of…? – 5/29/13

IMG_20130529_191859_568

13. The Legends Club – 5/29/13

IMG_20130529_220900_151

14. A Night to Remember: Pregame ball, Brian Dozier’s Foul Ball, Aramis Ramirez’s Rule Double. – 5/29/13

IMG_20130629_131455_550

15. Royals – Lorde. – 6/28/13

1372535350106

16. Snazzy Panorama. – 6/29/13

IMG_20130629_181752_373

17. Thrown by Umpire Ronald Kulpa at the Royals Dugout, but Photographed in Center Field. – 6/29/13

IMG_20130703_171612_376

18. The Final Stretch… – 7/3/13

IMG_20130703_171900_770

19. Darn Yankees. – 7/3/13

IMG_20130703_195753_587

20. Beautiful Sun Set. – 7/3/13

IMG_20130703_195749_604

21. The Stars and Stripes. – 7/3/13

IMG_20130704_104822_267

22. Happy Forth of July! – 7/4/13

IMG_20130704_110457_670

23. Caleb Thielbar Signed my Hat! – 7/4/13

IMG_20130704_115141_628

24. Adam Warren signing my ticket! – 7/4/13

VID_20130704_115437_776auto

25. Preston Claiborne Signing my Ticket and Hat! – 7/4/13

VID_20130704_121411_311auto

26. Chris Stewart signed my Ticket! – 7/4/13

VID_20130704_122926_219auto

27. Jamey Carroll Signed my Ticket! – 7/4/13

IMG_20130704_154727_790

28. Fun Forth of July! Many Lively & Vibrant Colors! – 7/4/13

20130731_215430

29. Strike Three! – 7/31/13

20130731_212703

30. The Pitch is Swung on… – 7/31/13

IMG_20130731_205646_955

31. 2014 All-Star Game Baseball – 7/31/13

IMG_20130802_171035_908

32. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Houston Astros. – 8/2/13

IMG_20130802_172153_380

33. Courtesy of Matt Dominguez. – 8/2/13

IMG_20130803_163240_172Pastor

34. Josh Willingham Batting Practice Home Run. – 8/3/13

IMG_20130803_203749_012

35. Onlookers. – 8/3/13

IMG_20130815_170959_534

36. Approaching Miller Park. – 8/15/13

IMG_20130815_183041_556

37. Miller Park Panorama. – 8/15/13

IMG_20130817_165706_342

38. It’s Glowing! – 8/17/13

IMG_20130827_224115_813

39. Products of a fun night with Shawn Bosman and Tony Voda. – 8/27/13

IMG_20130909_174630_395

40. The Three M’s: Me, Matt, and Mateo – 9/9/13

IMG_20130911_161546_902

41. Looking Our Finest. – 9/11/13

IMG_20130911_174618_460

42. Lifetime Ball #100. Thank you Pat Neshek! – 9/11/13

IMG_20130911_184430_741

43. No, We Weren’t Posing… – 9/11/13

IMG_20130911_192622_961

44. T.C. Didn’t Like my Athletics Shirt. – 9/11/13

1379036782091

45. My First Double Digit Game. – 9/11/13

IMG_1495

46. The Beginning of the End: Our second last game of the 2013. – 9/27/13

IMG_20130927_180906_160

47. Justin Masterson is a Class Act. – 9/27/13

IMG_20130927_202608_764

48. I Ran to Claim this Oswaldo Arcia Autographed Baseball – 9/27/13

IMG_20130927_204235_870

49. Scott Diamond Autographed Baseball. – 9/27/13

IMG_20130928_073114_152

50. Turkeys in Minneapolis? – 9/28/13

IMG_20130928_113406_302

51. In The Pouring Rain – Taylor Swift – 9/28/13

IMG_20130928_143514_495

52. Baseball Signed by Paul Molitor! – 9/28/13

IMG_20130928_144611_045

53. Baseball Signed by Corey Koskie! – 9/28/13

Some of the pictures have shown up in earlier entries, but there were a few new pictures in this entry that made their debut on A Piece of The Game. Which were your favorites?

If you have any ideas that you think could contribute to next year’s idea, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments. I appreciate any ideas!Thank you for taking a look at my guinea pig! It will have come a long ways by this time next year.