Tagged: Boston Red Sox

Red Sox vs. Twins @ Target Field (05-27-15)

Unlike the day before, I woke up to wonderful weather. However, with the 12:10 start time it was still unlikely that there would be batting practice.  When the gates opened I found that the cage was not set up for bp:

20150527_103250

I made my way down to where most of the Red Sox’ pitching staff was warming up. When he was finished throwing with his partner, Steven Wright hooked me up with their baseball. I was surprised to see that it was rubbed up with mud:
20150527_104045

Prior to the game, Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer signed autographs from the dugout:

20150527_120057

I was finally able to add Joe Mauer’s signature to my collection!

20150527_120208

Thank you, Mr. Minnesota. Since I didn’t have a ballpoint pen I could either get his auto in Sharpie or not get it at all. I think I chose the better of the two.

Boston was the first team to score a run when Dustin Pedroia blasted a two run shot in the third. Hunter and Mauer each contributed to the handful of singles that gave the Twins’ a three run third. Aaron Hicks homered in the fourth to extend the lead to 5-2. In the fifth inning Pedroia hit his second two run shot of game. Rosario joined the home run parade in the 6th inning when he launched a solo bomb to right field. The Twins won 6-4. Click here to watch the highlight video from the game.

Following the game I was able to get an Ump ball from Umpire Dale Scott:

20150527_144023

Here’s today’s results:

20150527_202400

TOTALS: 2 balls at this game. 23 balls this year.

UP NEXT: White Sox vs. Twins 06/22/15

Advertisements

Red Sox vs. Twins @ Target Field (05-26-15)

My day started off with every ballhawk’s worst nightmare… I forgot my glove at home! Luckily, Mateo Fischer was generous enough to lend me his for the evening. After swinging by the U of M campus to pick up Mateo’s glove, I was ready for some batting practice!

Unfortunately, the weather had other plans:
20150526_165254

The rain didn’t stop me from getting my first ball of the day, from Nate Dammann, just a few minutes after entering the stadium:
20150526_170342

Around 5:15 Kyle Gibson and Nate came back out to the bullpen for another session. Afterwards, Nate hooked me up once again:
20150526_180119

As soon as I photographed the ball I turned and gave it to the little boy who was nearby.

Besides a small crowd of other fans, the stadium was pretty much empty because of the rain. Seriously, Target Field looked like a ghost town:

20150526_170855

More rain led to the eventual delay of the game. In the meantime, I made my way around the ballpark to where the Ryder Cup was on display. I’d never seen a golf trophy until now. Her she is:

20150526_194448

The delay lasted for 1 hour and 21 minutes. I don’t remember what I did to pass the time, but I do know that it was BORING! As the start of the game approached I made my way to the Twins dugout.  Dom hooked me up with a sweet mud rubbed ball from the ball bag:
20150526_202843

Thanks Dom! Sneak Peak – this ball would get signed by Joe Mauer the next day!

The Twins scored in the first inning off of Trevor Plouffe’s double. Kurt Suzuki doubled later in the inning to make it a 2-0 ballgame. Boston scored in the second inning as Mike Napoli plated David Ortiz off a single to Aaron Hicks in center field. Little did I know, but those would be the only runs scored all night.

Mike Pelfrey pitched 7 strong innings, only allowing 1 ER off of 5 hits.

Blaine Boyer took the mound to start the 8th inning. He set the first two men of the inning down, and then he faced Dustin Pedroia. Boyer worked a 1-2 count before Pedroia fouled the next pitch, a 93 mph fastball, into the net. Dominic retrieved it and tossed it right over to me:
20150526_223537

Prior to this, I had never seen those kinds of marks on baseballs before.

In the bottom of the 8th Torii Hunter stepped into the box to lead things off for the Twins. Clay Buchholz worked a 2-2 count on Hunter. The next pitch, a 92 mph fastball, was also fouled back into the net. Joe Mauer, who was in the on deck circle, stepped over to pick it up. A moment later, he tossed it to me:

20150526_225039

I quickly, and smoothly, swapped it out for an old bp ball and then threw it over to a lady who had been asking for a ball for the last few innings. The rest of the game went by quickly and the Twins won 2-1. Click to watch the highlight video from the game. Here’s the info from the game:

game info

When the game ended I got my last ball of the evening from Umpire Lance Barrett.

20150526_230818

Here’ the final group shot from afterwards (5 balls pictured because I gave 1 away):
20150527_201812

TOTALS: 6 balls at this game. 21 balls this year.

UP NEXT: Red Sox vs. Twins 05/27/15

Twins vs. Rays @ Charlotte Sports Park (03-06-15)

I had originally planned to attend the Marlins vs. Red Sox game at JetBlue Park today, but at the last minute I decided to visit a “new to me” Spring Training ballpark. After driving for about an hour I arrived in Port Charlotte, Florida. Charlotte Sports Park is home to the Charlotte Stone Crabs and is also the Spring Training home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Here she is:

20150306_092608

Until the night before this, I was completely unaware that the Rays played in Port Charlotte. I also knew nothing about the complex or what it looked like. I tried to look for pictures online, but they didn’t help much. I decided that the best way to become familiar with the complex would be to arrive early. That’s what I did. I pulled into the parking lot at 7:00 am. and was at the gate to the practice fields by 7:10:

20150306_074603

There was just one problem. The Rays’ training complex was not open to the public on game days. That meant that I would not be able to explore the practice fields. It also meant that I had gotten to the ballpark three extra hours early for nothing. Not entirely. I’ll explain, but first look at this map of the complex:

20150306_092509

Since I had a lot of time on my hands I decided to explore other parts of the complex. I made my way back towards the home plate gate and then past the third base gate. I continued until I was near the pond that is behind the left field wall:

20150306_092944 20150306_093053

It was pretty gross looking back there. I found a few old baseballs and tennis balls that had already seen their better days:

20150306_093119 20150306_093219 20150306_093222

Like I said, it was pretty gross back there. Later on I even found out there was an alligator back there! Good thing I left when I did. Yikes!

Take another look at this map:

20150306_092509

Do you see the practice field that is south east of the stadium? I discovered that I could get to that practice field from the parking lot:
20150306_104549

I was extremely surprised, but I was able to snag a few baseballs out here! My first was thrown a pretty good distance by a Rays player who I didn’t recognize. Here’s a look at the Selig ball that he threw to me:

20150306_101504

My next ball was another Selig ball, but this was a batting practice home run that I retrieved after it cleared the right field wall:

20150306_102821

I was able to snag one more ball before heading to meet Grant Edrington, an established and respected Baltimore ballhawk, at the third base gate. This one was thrown by another Rays player who I didn’t recognize:

20150306_103017

Grant and I both forgot to take a picture together, but here’s a picture of him that I got off his blog:

img_2409

Once inside the gate, this was my view of home plate:

20150306_110151

This was the view looking out towards the left field wall:

20150306_110158

After walking towards the left field foul pole you will run into the boardwalk. The boardwalk extends from foul pole to fole pole and is great for getting around the stadium. This is the point of view from the left field corner looking towards center field:

20150306_110417

When the Twins began their portion of batting practice Grant and I positioned ourselves along the boardwalk in left field. After a few batters had taken their cuts I was able to catch this Miguel Sano homer on the fly:

20150306_114451

A few moments later Sano stepped back into the cage and I caught another that he sent my way. This time I had to reach over the railing of the boardwalk into the bullpen in order to make the grab. It was another pearly gem:

20150306_114517

Grant was able to snag a few toss ups during batting practice, but otherwise we were both limited to a few balls when the Twins were on the field. One of the reasons was because Sano and Vargas simply hit the ball to far. Many times they sent the baseballs into the swampy pond outside the ballpark.

After batting practice we stayed on the left field side of the boardwalk because there were so many baseballs that were left in the bullpen from batting practice. You can’t see all of them from the picture, but there were nine baseballs scattered in the Twins’ bullpen:

20150306_121739

Also, in case you’re wondering, Grant is the person in the forefront of the previous picture. At the time, he was talking to a kid who from New Jersey who we had met at the ballpark. I apologize for blanking on your name, but if you’re reading this please remind me of your name.

Sometime as the grounds crew was prepping the field for the game, Twins’ coach Neil Allen made his way out to the bullpen. He tossed me this somewhat used baseball:

20150306_124214

Okay, I take it back. It was a Selig ball, so it was more than somewhat used. There were so many baseballs that he threw another to me:

20150306_124254

There were still a few balls left in the corner of the bullpen when the game started. Mitch Garver was super nice and tossed one of them up to me:

20150306_130223

When the game started the three of us went our separate ways and did our own thing for a while. I took a few laps around the ballpark and watched the game from different spots. When I came back to the Twins bullpen, I noticed there was still one ball left in the corner from batting practice. After politely getting Eric Fryers attention, it became my ninth ball of the day:

20150306_141943

About 20 minutes after that, Coach Eddie Guardado threw me my tenth ball of the day. This one was used as a warm up ball for J.R. Graham before he entered the game to pitch the 7th inning for the Twins. Fryer ended up with the ball and then tossed it to Guardado. Guardado then threw it up to me:

20150306_143913

Grant and I met up on the boardwalk in the 8th inning and we made our way to home plate. The view was great! Check this out:

20150306_153809

Before I entered the stadium I expected it to be a pretty dumpy ballpark. The exterior is kind of ugly and most of the pictures online don’t make the ballpark look very good. Regardless of my expectations, I was thoroughly impressed with the interior of the ballpark. I really do think that this is a great ballpark to watch a game of baseball at. There is a nice cross aisle that allows fans to easily get from one baseline to the other. The boardwalk also serves the same purpose in the outfield. I love that there are grass berms for fans, and I especially like how the bullpens are set up so that fans can easily watch the activity in the ‘pen.

We made our way down to the dugout when the game finished, and Grant was able to snag one final ball of the day. I focused on getting a nice picture of the Rays celebrating their victory:

20150306_154243

The game wasn’t terribly exciting. Both pitching staffs did a great job today, but unfortunately that usually makes for a long ballgame. The Twins allowed two runs off just five hits while the Rays only allowed one run off of seven hits. Here is the box score from the game (courtesy of espn.go):

box

box2

I haven’t had time to take a group picture yet, but as soon as I do i’ll upload it here.

Today’s Total: 10 MLB balls (5 Manfred, 5 Selig).

Spring Training Totals: 27 MLB balls (20 Manfred, 7 Selig), 5 Minor League balls, 1 Perfect game ball, 1 Whiffle ball, 1 foam ball, and 12 autographs.

UP NEXT: Orioles vs. Twins @ Hammond Stadium (03-08-15)

Red Sox vs. Twins @ Hammond Stadium (03-05-15)

Although today’s Red Sox vs. Twins game would be played at Hammond Stadium, I began the day here:

20150305_071715

Yes, you may have guesses it, I was at JetBlue Park. JetBlue is the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox. Last year I attended two games here, but I wasn’t impressed with the stadium. It is a beautiful ballpark, but the atmosphere is more like an MLB stadium than a spring training stadium. Although I don’t particularly like JetBlue Park, I love the practice fields that are in the facility. I arrived bright and early at 7:00 o’clock and spent the next two hours waiting here:

20150305_072005

As players finished up in the batting cages they walked through the gates that were in the previous picture. From there they would head to the practice fields. This is a great place to get autographs because the players have to walk past to get to the practice fields.

The first player to sign for me was Trey Ball. He was drafted by the Red Sox in the 7th round of the 2013 draft. He has a nice signature:

20150305_084014

Next, I pulled out another baseball for Rafael Devers to sign:

20150305_085224

Last year I realized that each year I will start to see more players who are close to my age. Devers is the youngest player to sign an autograph for me. Devers is only 18 years old, yet he is the 5th best prospect in the Red Sox organization.

I’m not sure who signed my next autograph, but I like how it looks:

20150305_085418

The player’s jersey said “Febles #12”, but i’m not sure what his first name is. Next, Michael Chavis signed the same ball:

20150305_085551

Chavis, 19 years old, is another really young player. Next, number 63 signed the ball:

20150305_085654

#63’s signature is pretty legible, but I cannot make out exactly what it says. At this point I’m not sure who it is, but if anyone knows, please let me know.

Javier Guarra, another 19 year old, also signed the ball:

20150305_085738

Mike McCarthy signed next:

20150305_085940

Next was Kevin McAvoy. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 draft. Here’s that one:

20150305_090323

Whitson was the next player to sign for me. I checked online to find his first name, but Karsten Whitson was the only name that came up. This wasn’t Karsten Whitson, so i’m still not sure who this is:

20150305_090329

Ty Buttrey also signed for me:

20150305_090418

Javier Rodriguez was the final player to sign for me:

20150305_090511

When the practice fields opened at 9 o’clock, I headed this way:

20150305_072002

After stretching and doing infield warm ups for more than an hour and a half, batting practice began. I positioned myself between two practice fields because it was a great spot to snag baseballs. Take a look:

20150305_104418

My first ball was one that landed in a bullpen. The gate was open, so I walked in to retrieve it:

20150305_105140

After a few minutes one of the players tossed me this:

20150305_110036

My third ball was a foul ball that was sliced over the fence:

20150305_110838

Moments later there was a ground ball that was hit down the right field line. I was able to field it myself:

20150305_111751

Only a few minutes later I had retrieved yet another ball that was fouled off:

20150305_111947

When practice ended around noon I made my way over to Hammond Stadium:

20150305_114350

Once again, the gates were open and fans were allowed to walk around the stadium. I found a nice place to sit in the shade on the third base side:

20150305_131330

I stayed there for a little more than an hour. At one point I even feel asleep for about 20 minutes. Around 2:30 I got up to move to a seat that was near the Twins dugout. After sitting down I found this under the seat:

IMG_20150305_135645

Awesome! Do you know what was NOT awesome? As soon as I took that picture an employee walked down the steps and said, “You’re not supposed to be in here. How did you get in the Stadium?” I told him that the gates were open so I walked in the front door. There were even employees who told me to take a look around the stadium. I could tell that he thought I was lying. He hesitated and then followed by saying, “Well you’re not supposed to be in here.” I told him that just like the other fans who were walking around the stadium, I had been inside since noon and that he was the first employee who had said such a thing. He said, “The gates don’t open until 3 hours before the game starts so you shouldn’t be in here.” This guy thought I was making all of this up! I don’t know what his deal was, but he escorted me out of the stadium. What a load of garbage!

After waiting an hour and a half outside the stadium, I was finally able to re-enter when the gates opened. I quickly got my first MLB ball of the day when Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey finished playing catch:

20150305_160901 ball 1

When batting practice started I headed to the left field grass but since the first group was filled with mostly lefties, I moved to the seats in right field. There I snagged a home run that was hit by a Twins player who I didn’t recognize. It was a nice clean Manfred ball:

20150306_004335 ball 2

When Eddie Rosario stepped into the cage he began to hit some deep fly balls to right field. All of a sudden he sent a shot to deep right center field. I tracked the ball well, but at the last moment lost it in the sun. I was able to get out of the way, but the ball bounced back onto the field. Luckily, Danny Ortiz was nice enough to toss it up to me:

20150305_163618 ball 3

When Rosario stepped back into the cage again, he sent another my way. This time I was able to snag it myself:

20150305_171713 ball 4

Kennys Vargas was also in the same group as Rosario. Vargas started leftie but each time he stepped into the cage he would switch to a different side of the plate. It didn’t matter which side he hit from because he would crush the ball either way. When he was batting leftie I was able to snag one of the only homers that he hit that stayed in the park:

20150305_171852 ball 5

When the next group started to take their cuts I decided it was time to move back to left field. Shane Robinson had hit a couple homers in bp yesterday so I knew where to position myself for him today. Sure enough, he hit one in my direction:

20150305_171026 ball 6

As soon as I made the grab I saw a little girl so I decided to give it to her. A big smile came across her (and her parents’) face! The Twins’ portion of batting practice ended shortly after that. The Red Sox did not take batting practice because they had taken it at JetBlue Park before driving over to Hammond. I was a bit bummed because I was having a really good day ballhawking!

Since bp ended around 5 o’clock I had to wait around for nearly an hour and a half for anything to happen on the field. Finally the Twins and Red Sox started to warm up on the field. I spotted Pedroia in the dugout:

20150305_183047(0)

While the Red Sox practiced on the infield there were a few people from Sun Harvest who threw foam oranges into the crowd. I flashed my glove and they threw one to me. When the Red Sox finished their pregame infield warmups the ball was thrown to Manager John Farrell. When I asked him for the ball he tossed it up without hesitation:

20150305_182831 ball 7

This was only the second Selig ball that I had gotten so far. Otherwise, the rest were all the new Manfred balls. By the time the game was about to start, the sun had almost completely gone down. This was the scene immediately following the National Anthem:

20150305_185610

Joe Kelly got the start for Boston while Kyle Gibson threw the first pitch to start he game for Minnesota. The Twins started out strong and were able to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Torii Hunter singled in his first plate appearance at Hammond Stadium for 8 years and was able to pick up an RBI in the process.

By the end of the third inning the Twins were winning 6-4. I decided it would be a good time to leave because I would be leaving on a high note. I had a great day ballhawking, I saw my favorite childhood sports star make his first appearance back on my favorite team, and my team was winning. It was a good time to leave. As I was making my way out of the stadium, the Red Sox managed to load the bases. At the exact moment that I left, Dusten Pedroia hit a grand slam that gave the Red Sox an 8-6 lead. Wow, my timing was great 🙂

I was sure to get a good picture of the stadium when I left:

IMG_20150305_203646

(Six balls were pictured because I gave one away.)

Later in the game the Twins came back and won the game 9-8. Molitor’s squad was now 2-0 in their first two games.

box lineup

Here’s the group picture from the day (Six MLB balls are pictured because I gave one away):

20150306_004940(0)

Todays Totals: 7 MLB balls (6 Manfred, 1 Selig), 5 Minor League balls, 1 foam ball, and 12 autographs (11 pictured).

Spring Training Totals: 17 MLB balls (15 Manfred, 2 Selig), 5 Minor League balls, 1 Perfect game ball, 1 Whiffle ball, 1 foam ball, and 12 autographs.

UP NEXT: Twins vs. Rays, Friday, March 6th

Gophers vs. Twins @ Hammond Stadium (03-04-15)

Some of you might be surprised that i’m in Florida for Spring Training. For others, especially if you follow me on Twitter, it is no surprise because I’ve been talking about this for a few weeks now. Anyways, I arrived on Tuesday afternoon and this was the first game I’ve been to so far this year. The earliest I arrived to a spring training ballpark last year was 8:00 a.m., but this year I arrived at Hammond Stadium at 7:00 a.m.. I got there the extra hour early because I wanted to catch the sun rise as I drove to the ballpark. The recently renovated stadium looked stunning as I drove into the parking lot:

20150304_072202

I wasn’t sure when the players would begin to practice but I figured I might as well maximize my time in the warm weather. I soaked in the sun until the first group of players finally entered the practice fields at 9 o’clock. I could see them from a distance so I made my way to the fields.

20150304_085631

At 9 o’clock all of the minor league players reported to the field closest to the twins baseball academy:

20150304_091328

As far as I know, the only notable players in that extremely large group were Nick Gordon, Kohl Stewart, James Beresford and Max Kepler. After wandering around for a few minutes I found my first ball of 2015! With Selig out and Manfred in as commissioner that meant that the signature on the baseball changed this year. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but most ballhawks have been pretty excited to see the new baseballs. This wasn’t a Manfred ball, this was a Selig that was left over from last year:

IMG_20150304_092938

Regardless of the name on the front, it was still a beautiful baseball!

Part of the 2-year renovation plan included a baseball academy and dormitory for the minor league players of the Twins. The buildings weren’t finished when I visited last year, but since then they have been completed and opened:

20150304_091353

A bit closer to noon I spotted Mr. Terry Ryan, the Twins GM walking into the practice fields.

20150304_101443

I only said a quick hello because I didn’t want to disturb him while he was working. Later on, though, he approached me and said that a lady had told him that I knew everything there was to know about the Twins. She was obviously stretching the truth a bit, but Mr. Ryan was still amused. We ended up only chatting about baseball for a few minutes, but then we continued for a longer time as our conversation shifted towards other topics that weren’t even related to baseball. He’s a fun guy to talk with!

Right before leaving the complex to run to Publix, I found my second ball of the day. This time, though, the ball was from Tom Kelly Field:

20150304_115103

The ball had been wedged between the concrete, dirt and flowers. Aside from the odor and filth, there was still something different about this ball. I’m not sure when or by whom it was used, but the ball was a “Rawlings Perfect Game” ball. For the record (and for those ballhawks who are wondering), I did not count this in my MLB total.

After gaining early entrance into an empty stadium, I explored where most people do not. As I was hoping to find my second MLB ball of the day, I stumbled upon this whiffle ball:

20150304_115745

I was considering taking it with me, but it was filled with a gross looking mixture of dirt, bugs and condensation. It was better to leave it where it was! I was finally able to snag another MLB ball from the boardwalk down the left field foul line. I had quite the view from there:

20150304_154825

The ball was courtesy of Aaron Thompson. He threw it to me when he and Alex Meyer had finished playing catch.

20150304_160236

Although the change in signatures is a very subtle change, I do like how it looks. Although small in detail, it still brings about something new to the most important element in the game.

After nearly being hit by a home run when I was looking down at my roster, Mark Hamburger hooked me up with another Manfred ball:
20150304_162227

It wasn’t too long until I was in possession of another ball. This time from Ricky Nolasco:

20150304_163316

Ball number 5 came from the air. It was a homerun that i’m pretty sure Eddie Rosario hit:

20150304_164033

Up to this point I had been in the grass berm in left field. For almost all of batting practice there were only two other guys and myself in the whole grass section. There was absolutely no competition! My success continued.

My next two baseballs (numbers 6 and 7) were both home runs that I caught on the fly. Coincidentally, they were also hit by the same player – #21 Shane Robinson. Here’s number 6:

20150304_164250

And here’s number 7:

20150304_165037

The Twins left the field around 5:15 and soon the Minnesota Golden Gophers hustled out to take their turn on the field. I was surprised to see that the Gophers had a few players who could crush the ball. Their portion of batting practice wasn’t great, but I was still able to snag a home run. The ball was brand new, an obvious keeper, but as soon as a little girl asked for it I felt obligated to give it away!

Sophomore Troy Traxler, a catcher and outfielder for the Gophers, hooked me up with my 9th ball of the day:

20150304_175938

Batting Practice ended shortly after that, but I was able to get another toss up before the game started. When the Twins finished their pregame infield warm ups, catcher Eric Fryer tossed me my 10th ball of the day:

20150304_182344

When the game started I sat in my ticketed seat. This was the first game in a long while where I sat in my ticketed seat for the whole time! Who could blame me, though, with a view like this?:

20150304_192406(0)

Although the Gophers were the first to score, he Twins ended up beating them 3-1. The big names in the Twins Lineup were Buxton (he went 2-3), Vargas (1-3) and Sano (1-1). Jose Berrios got the start for the Twins and was able to pick up the win after pitching 2 innings of scoreless baseball. One other thing worth mentioning is that this was Paul Molitor’s Managerial Debut! His first “W” (although it won’t officially be recorded) came against his old college team!

box2

box

There’s no highlight/recap video for this game, but I did find this special video that the UofM made after the completion of the game:

I’m in the video multiple times. Whenever the left field grass is shown, i’m in the frame. In one of the shots it showed me chasing down a home run ball. Just look for the guy in the blue shirt!

Here’s the final haul (Nine MLB balls are pictured because I gave one away):

20150304_225657

Spring Training Totals: 1 MLB Selig Ball, 9 MLB Manfred Balls, 1 Perfect game ball, and 1 whiffle ball.

UP NEXT: Red Sox vs. Twins, Thursday, March 5th.

2014 All-Star Game @ Target Field (07-15-14)

Since I live an hour an a half away from Target Field it was extremely helpful that Mateo Fischer let me stay with him for the duration of the All-Star Break. Instead of driving home the night before, I was able to head back to Mateo’s apartment with him and Leiming.

The three of us left Mateo’s his place around noon and arrived in the Warehouse District after a short ride on the light rail. We spent a bit of time at the Pepsi Block Party and then we followed the All Star Path to the Convention Center for one last visit to FanFest. Along the way I was very tempted to stop for a game of bean bags:

IMG_20140715_122638_752

The roadways were all ready for the Red Carpet Show that would take place later today. The Show hadn’t started yet, but there were a number of MLB mascots who were throwing things into the crowd. Here’s Bernie Brewer, the mascot for the Milwaukee Brewers:

IMG_20140715_124506_923

Incase you’re wondering, the flower was from the Yoplait people at the Pepsi Block Party and the A’s garage parking helper came from Bernie Brewer. We saw many more mascots along the way, but none as nice as Bernie.

We did many things at FanFest that I had done two days earlier, but we did some new things as well. Just for the heck of it the three of us played “Fast Pitch Relief” (Step up to the pitcher’s mound and test your arm strength while trying to throw your fastest pitch), “FanFest Fielding Practice” (Self explanatory), and “Steal A Base” (Also self-explanatory). Then we got cake:

IMG_20140715_134530_637

The cake was good, but there was too much chocolate. As you can see from above, there were three layers of cake with chocolate frosting between, and then more frosting on top. It was difficult to finish, but free cake is still free cake.

For lunch we ate at Lotus Restaurant, a Vietnamese establishment, a few blocks away from the Convention Center. Here’s a street view of the building via google maps:

Photo from Google Maps

Photo from Google Maps.

I didn’t take any pictures at Lotus, but here are two pictures via Yelp:

Photo from Yelp

Photo from Yelp.

Photo from Yelp

Photo from Yelp.

I ordered the Beef Pho. If I remember right then it is soup that consists of beef, noodles, some veggies and a few other things. It was pretty good, but I’m not huge on Vietnamese food.

Chevy sponsored the All Star Game and gave free rides from FanFest to Target Field. Had we not found another way back to Target Field we would’ve gotten a complimentary ride via a new Chevy Impala:

IMG_20140715_140507_994

Instead, the three of us pilled in the back of a Yoplait yogurt bike cart. This was also complimentary, and it was a lot of fun!

IMG_20140715_150527_140

We were dropped off at the corner of the Pepsi Block Party right next to the Yoplait stand where we got yogurt a few hours before. We got to Target field around 3:45, only about 15 minutes before the gates opened. I had just enough time to circle the stadium to find the gate with the shortest line. Gate 3 was the answer to my question:

IMG_20140715_153118_091

My goal for today was to get a commemorative ball with a perfect logo. It didn’t matter to me if the ball was from the futures game, the derby or the ASG, I just wanted it to have an undamaged logo. Upon entering the stadium I quickly found a nice spot in the Powerball Pavilion, away from the larger crowds in foul territory. When David Price finished playing catch he hooked me up with a derby ball:
IMG_20140715_154204_941

I was thrilled to get another commemorative but I was disappointed in its condition. This logo was hardly visible. I was just worried that I wouldn’t get another chance because (1) the crowds were so large and (2) because I had limited space to work with because the ushers were checking tickets in every section. Speaking of ushers… immediately after the toss up from Price, I was asked to show my ticket for the Powerball Pavilion. Therefore, I was booted out of the section.

With my options running out I managed to find my way into the left field bleachers. I hoped to get a ball from the bullpen, but that didn’t pan out.

IMG_20140715_155104_609

No, my next ball wasn’t from the bullpen but instead it was a toss up from Padres’ All-Star Tyson Ross:

IMG_20140715_172747_930

YES!!! Finally a ball with a fantastic logo! Huge thank you to Tyson Ross. With my goal completed I waited out the last few minutes of batting practice. Following batting practice I was told that the Clydesdale would be making another appearance. Any guesses to what that meant for me?

IMG_20140715_210953_718

Let’s just say I ate very well at the All-Star Game. I didn’t keep it all for myself, though. I gave one to Leiming, and gave one to an usher who I’d made friends with over the past few years. It was sort of thank you for letting me in his section so often. Before leaving to get food I stuck around to watch the pregame festivities.

IMG_20140715_184822_741IMG_20140715_190642_326

I’ve seen a few flyovers at baseball games over the last few years, but this one was definitely the best so far:

flyover

There was still some time before the game was supposed to start so Leiming and I got some food. This is how crowded the concourse was:

IMG_20140715_180414_558

It was insane, there were people everywhere! At certain times it was so packed that no one could move and we all just stood in one place. It was like rush hour in Chicago! We ate our food in the standing room area behind home plate.

IMG_20140715_204120_455

We liked the view so much that this is where we spent the majority of the game. The game was spectacular! I’ve always been a fan of Derek Jeter, but I’ve never fawned over him like other fans do. However, seeing Jeter in his final All-Star game was something I will never forget. Jeter went 2-2 with a double and a run scored.

Here are some accomplishments that Derek Jeter had in this All-Star Game alone:

“With Derek Jeter’s 3rd-inning single, he becomes only the sixth player in baseball history with 10 career singles in the All-Star Game, trailing five Hall-of-Famers.” -ESPN

“Oldest player with multiple hits in an All-Star Game Derek Jeter (40, 2014), Carl Yastrzemski (39, 1979), Babe Ruth” -ESPN

Seeing Derek Jeter’s standing ovation has to be the coolest thing I’ve ever witnessed in person at a baseball game.

IMG_20140715_203303_207 IMG_20140715_203306_836

Here are a few panoramic pictures I took throughout the night:

IMG_20140715_204305_423 IMG_20140715_230438_518

The American League beat the National League 5-3. Glen Perkins, the hometown hero, picked up the clutch save for the American League. Here’s a recap via MLB on YouTube:

After the game Mateo, Leiming, Garrett and I all got together for a picture at the National League dugout.

postgame

We all had quite the day, and quite the All-Star experience throughout the last few days. This was potentially a once in a lifetime event, and I was thrilled to have been a part of it here in Minneapolis.

When we left there were bags of Cheez-Its being giving away outside of the stadium. Not expecting to get one, one of us joking said, “Can I have a box?” To our surprise they tossed each of us a box of Cheez-Its!

IMG_20140715_232334_492

That’s such a strange thing, isn’t it? We got some pretty funny looks from people as we carried our boxes of Cheez-Its down the sidewalk. Here is the final haul from the All-Star Break:

IMG_20140716_010626_849

 

IMG_20140717_244318_499

 

 

 

 

 

Rays vs. Red Sox @ jetBlue Park (03-10-14)

For my last game in Florida I was back in a familiar place:

DSCN3566

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:

IMG_20140310_084522_260

Trey Ball

IMG_20140310_084852_830

Mookie Betts

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:

DSCN3543

After seeing a few minor leaguers practice on their fields I began to ballhawk in the same place I had a few days earlier:

DSCN3559

Within a few short minutes I got on the board. This ball was courtesy of Brian Johnson as he walked off the practice fields:

DSCN3554

I retrieved my second ball when it was hit down the line by an unknown player in the Red Sox farm system:

DSCN3555

My third ball was also hit down the line:

DSCN3558

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:

DSCN3564

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:

IMG_20140310_111007_682

When the Rays took the field just a few minutes later a Rays player threw this pearly white to me:
IMG_20140310_112408_547

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:

IMG_20140310_114029_289

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:

IMG_20140310_114038_002

That was it for batting practice. When the game started I found a standing room spot behind the Rays bullpen:

IMG_20140310_125532_773

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:

IMG_20140310_131646_069

For the next few innings I photographed the concourse starting in right field. I walked towards home plate and then continued to left field:

DSCN3580

Standing room in Right Field.

DSCN3585

Heading towards Home Plate on the 1st base concourse.

DSCN3583

Continuing to Home Plate.

DSCN3591

Almost there.

DSCN3595

This is the part of the concourse that is behind home plate.

DSCN3615

Heading towards left field. This is the 3rd base concourse.

DSCN3618

Third Base Grill.

DSCN3620

Directions for the Green Monster Deck.

DSCN3622

Taking the stairs to the upper concourse that leads to the Green Monster Deck.

DSCN3623

The view of the concourse from half way up the stairs.

DSCN3628

Half way up the stairs.

DSCN3635

The view of some of the parking lots from the upper concourse.

DSCN3637

Following the upper concourse to the Green Monster Deck.

DSCN3647

Almost there.

DSCN3674

The view of the field from the stairs that lead to the top of the Green Monster Deck.

DSCN3681

The view from the top of the Green Monster Deck.

DSCN3682

The view from the top of the Green Monster Deck.

DSCN3686

Inside the Green Monster.

DSCN3690

The view of the field from inside of the Green Monster.

2

Panorama from inside the Green Monster.

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:

3

Panoramic from right field.

The Red Sox beat the Rays 6-2. Here is the box score and other info from the game:

box score

game info

That afternoon I got a group shot of the baseballs I kept. I added red circles to take the place of the baseballs that I gave away:
IMG_20140312_092632_848b