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:
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:
Prior to the game, Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer signed autographs from the dugout:
I was finally able to add Joe Mauer’s signature to my collection!
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:
Here’s today’s results:
TOTALS: 2 balls at this game. 23 balls this year.
UP NEXT: White Sox vs. Twins 06/22/15
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!
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
When the game ended I got my last ball of the evening from Umpire Lance Barrett.
TOTALS: 6 balls at this game. 21 balls this year.
UP NEXT: Red Sox vs. Twins 05/27/15
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:
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:
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:
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:
It was pretty gross looking back there. I found a few old baseballs and tennis balls that had already seen their better days:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Grant and I both forgot to take a picture together, but here’s a picture of him that I got off his blog:
Once inside the gate, this was my view of home plate:
This was the view looking out towards the left field wall:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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):
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)
Although today’s Red Sox vs. Twins game would be played at Hammond Stadium, I began the day here:
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:
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:
Next, I pulled out another baseball for Rafael Devers to sign:
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:
The player’s jersey said “Febles #12”, but i’m not sure what his first name is. Next, Michael Chavis signed the same ball:
Chavis, 19 years old, is another really young player. Next, number 63 signed the ball:
#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:
Mike McCarthy signed next:
Next was Kevin McAvoy. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 draft. Here’s that one:
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:
Ty Buttrey also signed for me:
Javier Rodriguez was the final player to sign for me:
When the practice fields opened at 9 o’clock, I headed this way:
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:
My first ball was one that landed in a bullpen. The gate was open, so I walked in to retrieve it:
After a few minutes one of the players tossed me this:
My third ball was a foul ball that was sliced over the fence:
Moments later there was a ground ball that was hit down the right field line. I was able to field it myself:
Only a few minutes later I had retrieved yet another ball that was fouled off:
When practice ended around noon I made my way over to Hammond Stadium:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
When Rosario stepped back into the cage again, he sent another my way. This time I was able to snag it myself:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
(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.
Here’s the group picture from the day (Six MLB balls are pictured because I gave one away):
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
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:
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.
At 9 o’clock all of the minor league players reported to the field closest to the twins baseball academy:
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:
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:
A bit closer to noon I spotted Mr. Terry Ryan, the Twins GM walking into the practice fields.
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:
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:
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:
The ball was courtesy of Aaron Thompson. He threw it to me when he and Alex Meyer had finished playing catch.
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.
It wasn’t too long until I was in possession of another ball. This time from Ricky Nolasco:
Ball number 5 came from the air. It was a homerun that i’m pretty sure Eddie Rosario hit:
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:
And here’s number 7:
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:
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:
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?:
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!
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):
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
I didn’t take any pictures at Lotus, but here are two pictures via 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:
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!
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:
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:
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.
No, my next ball wasn’t from the bullpen but instead it was a toss up from Padres’ All-Star Tyson Ross:
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?
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.
I’ve seen a few flyovers at baseball games over the last few years, but this one was definitely the best so far:
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:
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.
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.
Here are a few panoramic pictures I took throughout the night:
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.
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!
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:
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: