I was back at Target Field for my second game in two days, but this time I was with my dad. It had been a while since we had gone to a game together so it was nice we could get to this one. My dad rarely chases after baseballs, but today he joined me in the left field bleachers. The result? A clean pearly white batting practice homer. My dad has snagged two baseballs in his life… One at Kauffman Stadium and one at Target Field. I was there for both!
I got my first of the day after I chased down a ground rule double that was hit by Kennys Vargas. I caught it as it ricocheted back towards the field:
The Twins portion of batting practice continued at a slow pace, but then I saw something that peaked my attention. I noticed that Shane Robinson was about to step into the cage. Back in spring training I caught a few of Robinson’s batting practice homers. Apparently Robinson had already been called up for quite some time, but I was unaware of it.
After shifting over a section for Robinson, I caught the first and only homer that he hit:
When the A’s took the field I was hoping they’d put on a show, but they ended up hitting only a few into the seats. The home runs were scarce, but I was able to catch this ball that was thrown by Evan Scribner:
Batting practice continued for another 30 minutes or so, but it was pretty dull from that point on. When batting practice ended I joined my dad in the Legends Club until the game was about to start. At that point I made my way back to the Twins dugout. I took this picture just moments before the National Anthem was sung:
Did you see how empty the stadium was? The paid attendance for the game was 18,135, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were only about 16,000 in attendance.
Ball number three was tossed by a future All Star. Here’s a look at that beauty:
Okay, so Dominique is not actually on the All Star ballot, but he deserves a write in! This seems like as good a time as any to launch my #VoteDom campaign. Should they have a vote for the All Star Bat/Ball Boy? #VoteDom #AllStarDom2K15
After collecting my third of the day I hustled back up to the Legends Club in time for the first pitch. My dad and I had a stellar view:
Rain started to fall in the top of 6th inning, but the game continued without a delay. A steady rain shower set in for the next 2 innings, which caused a lot of people to leave the game early. I checked back in at the Twins dugout in the 8th inning and found a seat behind the home plate side of the dugout.
With two outs in the top of the 9th inning, Ryan Pressley worked a 1-2 count against Billy Burns. Pressley earned his 67th strike out as Burns went down swinging to end the top of the 9th. Kurt Suzuki ended up with the strike out ball and he tossed it to me as he entered the dugout:
Heading into the bottom of the ninth inning the Twins were down 2-1. Earlier in the game Billy Butler and Jed Lawrie had each singled in a run to give Oakland the lead. Brian Dozier scored Minnesota’s first run when he singled to center in the 8th inning. The Twins went down in short order to end the ninth inning as the A’s won the game 2-1. Click here to watch MLB’s highlight video. Here’s the info from the game:
Following the game I thanked Mr. Todd Tichenor as he exited the field:
The result? Didn’t even have to ask for this one:
Umpires are underrated and underappreciated so it goes along ways to say thank you after the game. They usually smile and then toss a ball up. Its a win win scenario.
The entry wouldn’t be complete without the cliché group shot:
TOTALS: 6 balls at this game. 15 balls this year.
UP NEXT: Red Sox vs. Twins 05/26/15
This was one of the games on my season ticket plan, but I sold my ticket on Stubhub because I wasn’t very interested in going to this game. So why did I go? Some family friends gave my dad and I four free tickets to the game! Those seats were way better than the ticket I originally had!
As a Twins Season Ticket holder, I gained early access to watch batting practice. Although there wasn’t any action during the Twins portion of bp, it didn’t take long to get on the board while the Rangers took the field. Ball #1 was courtesy of an unknown Ranger:
When the rest of the stadium opened up at 5:30 I hurried over to the left field corner in foul territory to retrieve a ball that had earlier landed in the seats. After 2 years of waiting, I finally found my first Target Field “Easter Egg”:
This wasn’t just any old ball though, this was also my 100th baseball at Target Field!
I decided to head out to the right field plaza for the first group of lefties, and my move paid off. It was there where I snagged ball #3 – a homer off the bat of an unknown Rangers player:
I was also in the plaza when I caught my 4th ball of the day – another homer that I caught off the bat of an unknown Rangers player:
See the two guys to the right of my glove in the previous picture? Those are Target Field regulars who come to ballhawk. I’m glad i’m kind of tall because I had to reach higher than both of them to catch that last homer. When I caught the ball I avoided dropping my ego by nearly falling down the steps in the process.
Batting practice wrapped up a bit quickly, so I made my way over to grab a bleacher seat next to the bullpens. When I got arrived there were plenty of baseballs scattered in each bullpen:
The Twins bullpen catcher, Nate Dammann, hooked me up with one of them when he brought his equipment to the bullpen. I didn’t photograph this ball at the game, but it’ll be in the group photo at the end!
As I continued sitting there, the usher walked down the steps and turned her attention on me. John is the normal usher of section 131, and since John wasn’t working this game I was convinced she was going to make me leave the section. To my surprise she struck up a conversation, and eventually gave me a baseball that she had been holding in her jacket pocket! She said she just wanted to thank me for being such a nice friendly fan. What a pleasant surprise!
When the game started I didn’t waste any time getting to my seat. The view from our seats was great:
Minnesota’s starting pitcher, Kyle Gibson, gave up six hits and struck out four in six scoreless innings, but the Twins still lost 1-0. Here is the box score and other info from the game:
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).
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.
Time wise, I probably couldn’t have gone to a baseball game at a worse time. School was wrapping up and I had multiple projects that would be due at the end of the week, and also final exams to study for. On Friday my family and I would also be leaving for a weekend stay at a cabin, which made everything a little more hectic. To top it all off, Minneapolis was expected to get rain all of Wednesday afternoon.
Surprisingly the rain had stopped at about 3 o’clock and held off until after the game. This was completely unexpected because the weather reports had predicted constant rain all day. Hey, I’m not complaining! Around 4:30 my dad and I arrived at Target Field:
As you can see from the previous picture, there was a “small” crowd outside the gates. My initial thoughts were that the rain had kept more people from coming out to the ballpark.
The gates opened at 5:30, but for the first time in more than 2 years I wasn’t in a hurry to be one of the first into the seating bowl. I knew there would be no batting practice today because the ground had soaked in so much rain that afternoon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about not having BP. When I purchased tickets to this game I was fully aware that there would most likely be no batting practice. When I got inside I saw that there was no activity on the field:
I found a nice comfortable seat next to the Twins dugout. I sat down for a few minutes and just enjoyed observing the beautiful ballpark:
For a short time it had looked liked a few Brewers players were going to play catch so I moved near the camera well:
No one ever did play catch. I made friendly conservation with the blonde haired guy in the next picture. I don’t know his name, but he is an autograph collector. He doesn’t sell them, he is just a big fan of autographs. The man to the left is his father.
They both had a good sense of humor and we all joked around for the remaining time slot that batting practice would normally fill. I was able to teach them both a lot about both Target Field and the Twins just from the things we talked about. I wasn’t intentionally teaching them anything either. It was just surprising.
Eventually I noticed that there was a ball under the standing platform in the camera well:
I was going to ask the camera man to grab it for me but I didn’t because he was getting read to film an interview with Chili Davis. I didn’t get a good picture of Chili Davis because people were standing in front of him and were blocking my view. Davis is the guy wearing a suit on the left side of the previous picture.
I stayed here until the ushers came around and kicked everyone out who didn’t have a ticket for the section. I didn’t end up getting the chance to ask for the ball. Rules are rules. I’m not complaining here, I was genuinely satisfied with how the day had gone so far. I didn’t think I would ever say this, but it sure is relaxing to not ballhawk during batting practice. It was VERY nice to just sit down, relax and observe everything in Target Field.
Shortly before the game started I found an open seat along the aisle next to the bullpen out in section 131. This section provides me with one of my favorite views to the ballpark:
I don’t know why, but I love looking at the field from section 131. Soon the Brewers bullpen coach Lee Tunnell made his way into the bullpen with a few baseballs in hand:
We made eye contact, I flashed my glove and then he hooked me up! The only thing I said the whole time was “Thank you!”. The ball had some sticky stuff on it that I had absolutely no clue as to what it was except for the possibility that it was chewed up, spit out, and dried out chew.
I got to my actual seat at the beginning of the bottom of the 1st inning, and found that my dad was already there. We were in section B of the Legends Club (I found a good deal on stubhub. They’re great seats!).
The Brewers had gone quietly during the top of the 1st Inning. Eduardo Escobar got a lead off single for the Twins to start off the bottom of the first inning. As soon as Escobar stood on base I said to my dad, “I should get my glove on. Early in the game foul balls are usually hit to the sections right around here because when the batters aren’t use to the pitchers then they usually swing late and underneath the ball. Here is a visual about what I’m talking about when a right handed batter is in the box:
The yellow represents where foul balls usually go during the first few innings. I’ve circled our section and drawn a line to show the path of a ball. By this time Brian Dozier settled into the box, and Marco Estrada had already worked an 0-1 count on him. I was AMAZED when it all played out in front of me less than 5 seconds after I finished explaining it to my dad. Dozier lined the second pitch of the at bat directly to my section. I knew it was going to land 3 rows ahead of me so I hopped over the row of seats in front of me because they were unoccupied. The ball hit someone’s hand who was reaching for it 2 rows below me, and then I caught the ball before it hit the ground. I took the next 2 pictures before Estrada even threw another pitch.
My favorite part of the game was getting to see Carlos Gomez and Aaron Hicks battle back and forth very competitively. Hicks had robbed Gomez of a homerun in Milwaukee the night before. Then tonight in the second inning Gomez hit a deep fly ball to centerfield, way over Hicks’ head. Hicks leapt, almost caught the ball and then he dropped it. Gomez got to second, but could’ve easily gotten to third if he had been running full speed. For whatever reason he wasn’t running full speed. He probably thought the ball was either caught or a homer. In the fourth inning Aaron Hicks sent a high fly ball into the bullpens for a solo shot.
In the 5th inning Aramis Ramirez hit a ground rule double to center field. This was significant to me for 2 reasons. First, I think that it was the first ground rule double that I’ve seen in a game. Now I said there were two reasons… more on this in a bit!
In the middle of the 7th inning I went to find my history teacher who was at the game with his wife. Since the beginning of the week we had both been talking about this game. We would even check the weather before class would start. He LOVES the Brewers so that is why he was at the game. It didn’t take me to long to find him because I knew where he would be sitting. I was able to find a seat right in back of them and got to chat for a few minutes. We spotted Larry Fitzgerald in the Champions club! Greg Jennings was also there because he got to throw the first pitch. I’m a Packer fan so it was very cool to see Jennings in person. On the other hand, he does play for the Vikings now…
Before I left that spot I said, “do you see those seats behind the dugout that are padded? The ushers don’t let you down there without a special ticket. Watch, I’ll be down there in 5 minutes.” He asked, “oh, you know a guy?” I responded, “No, I just know how to get in.” Both he and his wife laughed a little because they thought I was joking. Less than 5 minutes later I was in the dugout box behind the Brewers dugout:
As soon as I got inside the moat I found some extra tickets on the ground. I looked around for my teacher and his wife but couldn’t see them anymore. I wish I would’ve been able to find them because I was going to give them the extra tickets in case they wanted to sit behind the dugout. Oh well. Life goes on.
When I walked into the classroom the next day he looked at me with an astonished, amazed, and dumbfounded look on his face and said, “dude, how did you do that?! I saw you down there and couldn’t believe it! did you see me waving to you?” Hah, fun stuff!
There wasn’t much action the rest of the game. At the end of the game I did not get a ball from Angel Hernandez, the home plate umpire. He gave all the balls to the attractive young women. I found this to be absolutely hilarious because the dude is a total player! …But hey, don’t hate the player, hate the game!
Normally at this point I would stick around the dugout to get a ball from the dugout attendant, but there was something else on my mind that I didn’t want to miss out on. Remember when I mentioned the ground rule double that Aramis Ramirez hit? The ball was still sitting in the grass below the batters eye! I knew that eventually someone from the grounds crew would retrieve the ball so I wanted to be there when it happened. Surprisingly there were only 4 other guys who tried to get the ball after the game. Except they were trying to get it via the glove trick. If you are familiar with Target Field you might know that using the glove trick is near impossible here because of the angles and overhangs. We had a competition to see who’s technique would win the ball. Their technique failed already. My technique was to wait for the groundskeepers. After waiting for a total of 16 minutes after the game, a groundskeeper finally climbed onto the batters eye and threw the ball to me!
Just like that I had gotten my second gamer of the night… a ground rule double! I was very surprised that I got 3 balls with out batting practice.
The Twins won 4-1. It was really a great game to be at because these are my two favorite teams. It didn’t even matter to me who won! Here is the box score and the scoring plays from the game:
A Piece of The Game MVP:
Twins Groundskeeper: This was the first time a groundskeeper has thrown me a baseball… but it was special because it was a ground rule double hit by Aramis Ramirez!
Player of The Game:
Sam Deduno: He pitched 7 innings and only allowed 4 hits. He had an absolutely great outing. Hopefully he can string a few together for the Twins!
Here is my final haul from the game:
(Left to right: pregame toss up, foul ball, ground rule double)
(Left to right: pregame toss up, foul ball, ground rule double)
Did you see the bat mark on the foul ball? It is huge!!
- 3 balls in this game
- 21 balls in 5 games this season = Avg. 4.2 balls per game
- 15 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
- 15 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
- 9 consecutive games with at least 3 balls
- 13 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
- 11 consecutive Twins home games with at least 2 balls
- 6 consecutive Twins home games with at least 3 balls
- Gotten at least 1 ball from 12 different teams
- 65 total balls
According to Tony (follow him on twitter @TonyV433) I arrived at Gate 34 right around 4:15 (thank you Tony, I forgot to check when I actually arrived). We talked for a little while and waited for a homer to be hit to the gate. Pretty soon Mateo showed up. When I saw Mateo with Tony I walked over to them and found out that I had just awkwardly walked in on Mateo filming for his blog. Mateo (follow him on twitter @observebaseball) introduced me to his video “audience”. I’m sure I looked pretty funny in the video, but I’m still eager to see it.
The Twins’ portion of batting practice was pretty slow, but I managed to snag a ball just before everyone left the field. The last ball that the pitcher threw in batting practice was hit down the right field line and stopped in the corner. Tyler Robertson picked up the ball and wound up to throw it to an infielder, but everyone had already jogged off the field. Then, he wound up again, but there still there was no one he could throw it to. So instead, he tossed it to me.
Once the last group of Tigers players started batting I headed over to the Tigers’ dugout.When Coach Jeff Jones walked passed me I asked, “Coach, do you have an extra ball for a Tigers fan?” He responded, “Why yes I do!”, while he grabbed a ball and tossed it to me.
About 5 minutes later the Tigers’ equipment/ball guy came out of the dugout to finish putting the balls away. Mateo and I each asked for a ball, but he continued putting them away and eventually took the ball bag with him into the dugout. He returned a minute later holding two baseballs. For a split second he looked around to find us and then he hooked each of us up with a ball.
Following this, Mateo and I relocated to left-center field near the bullpens. Mateo covered the Tigers bullpen and I covered the Twins bullpen. This was well before the game was scheduled to begin, but the usher made his way down the aisle to talk to us. He had recognized us from previous games. We all ended up having a nice conversation. The usher has been a Tigers fan for 60 years, and used to work at the old Tigers Stadium. He went to fight in Vietnam, and when he returned home to the United States he moved to Minnesota. He has been here for 30 years. He is a very, very nice man. He even told us that we could sit in his section any time we would like to during the game.
It wasn’t too long after the National Anthem that Tyler Robinson threw another ball to me, but this time from across the Twins’ bullpen. Here he is shortly before:
This ball was different:
(I took the previous two pictures during the game)
This was part of the Twins’ giveaways that take place every year on Fan Appreciation Weekend. The Twins players each sign a tee ball and then throw it to a fan before the game.
For the game itself, my dad and I sat in the Legends Club. While I was inside of the club I saw something a bit out of the ordinary:
In the 5th inning my dad and I got some food:
I have never gotten this many nachos before, and I probably won’t again. Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious. I would say that I’m a fast eater, but it took me close to 20 minutes to finish these. Just to give you an idea of how big the helmet dish is, I took this picture at home:
Eight baseballs fit inside.
The highlight of the game was getting to see Ryan Doumit absolutely dominate on offense. The Play-by-Play scoring plays are next, enjoy:
- In the bottom of the 7th inning Ryan Doumit homered to left field. Justin Morneau scored.
- In the top of the 8th inning Omar Infante homered to left field. A Jackson scored.
- In the bottom of the 8th inning Ryan Doumit doubled to center, Denard Span and Joe Mauer scored. Justin Morneau to third base.
Tigers 2, Twins 4
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
DET 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 6 1
MIN 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 – 4 4 2
When the game ended, I stood where the “X” is in the next picture.
Now, do you remember the Tigers equipment/ball guy from before the game? He was cleaning up the dugout and putting away the bats and balls (I was waiting because usually a team’s equipment guy throws a ball or two to a few fans after a game ends). As I waited, a boy who was decked out in Twins gear (who looked like he was 10-13 years old) ran towards me and stopped right next to me. He asked me if it was alright for him to stand in that spot too. I assured him it was ok, and then we started talking a little bit. Over the last few years he has gotten to know the Tigers equipment guy from coming to so many Tigers versus Twins games. Pretty soon he finished cleaning and walked towards me to exit the dugout. I thought it would be nice to let the kid ask for a ball so I just stood there and watched. This was their conversation:
Equipment Guy: “HEY! How’s it going?”
Kid: “Good, do you have anything for me tonight?”
Equipment Guy: “Sorry, I don’t have anything for you tonight, but I do have something for him.”
When he said that, he pointed at me. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a ball and threw it to me. I thanked him and then took his picture.
I felt bad for the kid so I offered the ball to him. He thought about it for a second and then he and his father both said no because he had already gotten a ball earlier in the day.
On my way out of the stadium I found a bunch of promotional calendars scattered amongst the seats so I picked up three that were not damaged. As I exited the gate an usher offered me two calendars so by the time I left the stadium I had six promotional calendars!
Here are some “Pieces of The Game”:
A Piece of The Game MVP:
Mario (Dugout Attendant): He was the first person to give me two baseballs in one game.
Player of The Game:
Ryan Doumit: He provided all the RBIs for the Twins. If he wouldn’t have had such a good day at the plate, then Twins would’ve lost.
- 5 balls at this game
- 41 balls in 10 games this season = Avg. 4.1 balls per game
- 10 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
- 10 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
- 4 consecutive games with at least 3 balls
- 3 consecutive games with at least 4 balls
- 3 consecutive games with at least 5 balls
- 10 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
- 8 consecutive Twins home games with at least 2 balls
- 3 consecutive Twins home games with at least 3 balls
- 2 consecutive Twins home games with at least 4 balls
- 2 consecutive Twins home games with at least 5 balls
- Gotten at least 1 ball from 11 different teams
- 44 total balls