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 didn’t plan to attend this game, but since I was in Minneapolis I figured I might as well go to it since it would be my last chance until next season. When Tony and I met at Gate 34 around 9:00, it finally sunk in that this was it.
We hung around gate 34 for a bit and then I spotted Didi Gregorius and Ender Inciarte as they were approaching the stadium. I already knew that Didi would turn me down again today, but I walked up to them already knowing what I was going to say. I was still mad about how cocky he acted towards the little boy the previous night. I got up to him and said, “Didi, could you please sign my ball?” Just like last night, they kept walking and acted as if I wasn’t there. I caught up to them and in a much different tone I said, “Last night you crushed a five-year old boy by telling him that you don’t sign autographs after a loss. Today is a new day, now will you sign this ball?!”. Just like that he stopped and turned towards me. I could see from the look on his face that he was furious, but he signed the ball and stormed off. HAH! It was HILARIOUS.
This was the same ball that was signed by the Diamondback players yesterday night. This ball now had the signatures of Joe Paterson, Zeke Spruill, Didi Gregorius and Ender Inciarte.
When the gates opened at 10:30 I lined up behind Kyle Gibson and Nate Dammann as they played catch:
When they finished, Kyle threw the ball to me:
Moments later, Logan Darnell and Ben Richardson wandered out to play catch. Logan Darnell signed an autograph for me on the ball that Schafer and Pinto had signed last night:
It was only a few minutes later when Lester Oliveros and Aaron Thompson finished playing catch. Aaron Thompson tossed the ball to me, then they both walked over to sign it as well:
You can see Lester Oliveros in the background of the previous picture. After he signed the ball for me he started doing some sprints in the outfield. After taking that picture I moved a section closer to home plate because that’s where Trevor May was playing catch. He tossed the ball to someone else, but I still got his autograph when I asked if he would sign few autographs:
Trevor also signed the ball from the previous night.
It was a bit strange how smoothly everything was going. After only being in the stadium for 10 minutes I had already gotten two baseballs and four autographs (six if you count the two outside the stadium). I expected it to stop, but it just kept on going!
I got my third ball from Brian Duensing when he and Ben Richardson finished playing catch. It sure was a beauty:
I expected Brian to leave the field right away, but he stuck around to sign autographs for a long line of fans. He eventually made his way down to me and I was able to thank him up close for the ball he had thrown to me. Brian also signed for me, but I had him sign the ball from the other night:
By 11:00 o’clock I was one ball shy of reaching a ballhawking milestone. Including spring training baseballs, I was sitting at 199 baseballs. At 11:06, Anthony Swarzak finished up with Nate Dammann and threw me my 200th baseball Here’s what happened next:
Wow. Everything was going my way today. I couldn’t believe it!
As the game drew near, I met up with Tony at the Twins’ dugout. From here, things continued to go both of our ways. Tony got a few baseballs and we each got a few more autographs. The first was from Ryan Pressley:
Pressley also signed the ball from the previous night. That ball now contained the signatures of Jordan Schafer, Josmil Pinto, Logan Darnell, Trevor May, Brian Duensing and Ryan Pressley.
Next, I was able to get Trevor Plouffe’s autograph:
You know what’s cool about this ball? I had originally caught this ball on the fly when Trevor Plouffe hit it during batting practice at Hammond Stadium on March 6th during spring training. It took 6 months, but I finally got it signed by him!
The final autograph that I got was from my All-Time favorite baseball player, Paul Molitor:
Molitor signed the ball I had gotten earlier from Kyle Gibson. This was the fourth time I’d been able to get The Ignitor’s autograph. This would be the last autograph of the season for me. Coincidentally, he also signed my first autograph of the year.
Dominique hooked me up with my fifth ball of the day. This one was from the ball bag:
Thanks a lot Dom! That was it for pregame, lets go to the game!
Phil Hughes took the mound for Minnesota, as did Vidal Nuno for Arizona. The Twins got off to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Kurt Suzuki walked with the bases loaded. The Twins scored again in the second inning when Trevor Plouffe hit a sac fly to center field.
A.J. Pollock stole third base during the sixth inning and Trevor Plouffe, while tagging Pollock, broke his forearm. He was immediately taken out of the game and it was clear that he was done for the remaining four games of the season.
David Peralta then hit a sac fly and A.J. Pollock scored from third.
My next ball was also from Dominique:
Randall Delgado was pitching to Eduardo Escobar with 1 out in bottom of the 7th inning. With an 0-2 count, Randall threw a 76 mph curveball in the dirt. Bobby Wilson tossed it to Dominique and Dominique tossed it to me.
Did you see that it was raining? This made it easier to get baseballs because more and more baseballs were getting to dirty to reuse.
My seventh ball was thrown to me by Ron Gardenhire:
It’s not a very good picture, but that’s alright. This was the ball that the Twins used for their eighth inning infield warm ups. The ball had gotten dirty enough that when Vargas threw it to Ron Gardenhire, Gardenhire just relayed it to me.
Phil Hughes was pitching to Jake Lamb with 2 outs in top of 8th inning. Hughes worked a 1-2 count and then threw a called strike to Lamb to end the inning. Kurt Suzuki rushed to the dugout and to my surprise hooked me up with the ball! This was Phil Hughes’ 842nd career strike out, and his 186th of this season. With that strikeout Hughes set a new single season Major League record for Strike-Out to Walk Ratio (his ratio was 11.63 : 1.00) for pitchers with a qualifying amount of innings. Immediately after getting the ball from Suzuki, everyone around me began telling me, “Give it to the little girl!” Without thinking about the significance of this baseball, I gave it away before I thought about swapping it out with another ball. This was the ball that Phil Hughes used to set a Major League Record and I accidentally gave it away to someone who doesn’t have a clue of its significance!
I do not have a picture of the ball to prove that this happened, but there were plenty of witnesses. Tony Voda can vouch for me because he saw the whole thing.
The game resumed after an hour and five-minute rain delay, and the Twins ended up winning 2-1. Here’s the recap from the game:
After the game I got my ninth and final ball from Casey Fien. This was also directly from the ball bag:
I would’ve reached double digits, but when Dominique threw me what would’ve been, someone jumped in front of me to catch the ball. I’m not complaining, i’m just thinking about what could’ve been. Not many people reach double digits without batting practice. I was so close to doing something that so few can say they did.
Here’s the final haul:
The first eight baseballs pictured were from today, and the other three I brought for autographs. There were eight baseballs pictured because I gave one away. This was the first time I’d been to all three games of a series. From this series I totaled 17 baseballs and 16 autographs. That was a great way to end the season!
This was 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:
There are certain people, such as myself and many other sports fans, who are absolutely fascinated by stats. Not everyone enjoys stats though, so feel free to stop reading if you lose interest. As nerdy as this may sound, I love stats. I don’t know how many other people could say they like making and compiling new stats for this type of annual entry. Most of these stats are self-explanatory, but if any puzzle you please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Also, if you’re into stats feel free to leave a comment with any other stats you would like me to explore.
While there are many programs out there that keep track of stats, I prefer using Microsoft Excel. Following each game I attend, I enter all sorts of info about the game. My ‘Game Log’ is just one of four different spreadsheets that I have for ballhawking. Here is a screenshot of my 2013 Game Log (click the picture to enlarge):
Once the information is entered, I can filter certain columns and rows to produce stats. For example, lets say I wanted to find out how many games I saw the Twins win this year. I can find that out by filtering the winning team. That’s literally all there is to it.
If you want to produce more complex stats you can filter multiple categories at once. If you want to find out the average temperature when the Twins win in September you would have to filter out the date and the winning team, and then find the average of the temperatures.
Are you still with me? That was my little schpeel about the data, here are the stats…
- Total Baseballs: 73
- Games Attended: 19
- Average Balls/Game: 3.84
- Game Balls: 2
- Most Ball at one Game: 10
Target Field Summary:
- Total Baseballs: 63
- Games Attended: 15
- Average Balls/Game: 4.2
- Game Balls: 2
- Most Ball at one Game: 10
Miller Park Summary:
- Total Baseballs: 10
- Games Attended: 4
- Average Balls/Game: 2.5
- Game Balls: 0
- Most Ball at one Game: 4
Statistical Breakdown (More In-Depth)
Total Balls: 73
- Hit Balls: 11
- Thrown Balls: 51
- Employee Balls: 11
- BP/Pre-game: 56 Balls
- During Game: 7 Balls
- Post-Game: 10 Balls
Number of baseballs from American/League teams:
- American League Balls: 58
- National League Balls: 10
- Umpire Balls: 5
Number of Baseballs/Team:
- A’s: 7 Balls
- Angels: 9 Balls
- Astros: 4 Balls
- Brewers: 3 Balls
- Indians: 6 Balls
- Reds: 3 Balls
- Rockies: 4 Balls
- Royals: 4 Balls
- Tigers: 2 Balls
- Twins: 25 Balls
- Umpires: 5 Balls
- Yankees: 1 Ball
Number of Baseballs/Player:
- 5 Balls: Twins Employee, Twins Rep
- 4 Balls: N/A
- 3 Balls: Mario (Dugout Attendant), Unknown Angels Player, Unknown A’s Player,
- 2 Balls: Billy Hatcher (Coach), Jerome Williams, Josh Willingham, Nate Dammann, Steve Soliz (Coach) and Umpire Tony Randazzo.
- 1 Ball: Al Alburquerque, Ariel Prieto, Armando Camacaro (Coach), Ben Richardson, Billy Butler, Brayan Villarreal, Brian Dozier, Casey Chavez, Doug Brocail (Coach), J.C. Gutierrez, James Shields , Jared Weaver, Jim Wright (Coach), Jordan Lyles, Josh Roenicke, Kelly Shoppach, Khris Davis, Larry Rothschild, Lee Tunnell (Coach), Liam Hendriks, Mat Latos, Matt Dominguez, Mike Trout, Oswaldo Arcia, Pat Neshek, Pedro Florimon, Rick Matthews (Coach), Rickie Weeks, Ryan Raburn, Shairon Martis, Twins Security Guard, Tye Waller, Ubaldo Jimenez, Umpire James Hoye, Umpire Jim Joyce, Umpire Ronald Kulpa, Unknown Astros Player, Unknown Rockies (front office), Unknown Rockies (trainer), Vinnie Pestano, Wade Davis, Wilkin Ramirez.
Target Field Breakdown:
Total Balls: 63
- Hit Balls: 10
- Thrown Balls: 42
- Employee Balls: 11
- BP/Pre-game: 48 Balls
- During Game: 7 Balls
- Post-Game: 8 Balls
Miller Park Breakdown:
Total Balls: 10
- Hit Balls: 1
- Thrown Balls: 9
- Employee Balls: 0
- BP/Pre-game: 8 Balls
- During Game: 0 Balls
- Post-Game: 2 Balls
Snag Tracker is courtesy of Mygameballs.com . Go check out the website if you have not already!
Snag Tracker is a very simple way of showing the quantity of baseballs snagged in each part of the stadium.
- 29 consecutive games with at least 1 ball (record is 29)
- 6 consecutive games with at least 2 balls (record is 17)
- 4 consecutive games with at least 3 balls (record is 11)
- 4 consecutive games with at least 4 balls (record is 4)
- 4 consecutive games with at least 5 balls (record is 4)
- 0 consecutive games with at least 6 balls (record is 2)
- 0 consecutive games with at least 7 balls (record is 2)
- 0 consecutive games with at least 8 balls (record is 2)
- 0 consecutive games with at least 9 balls (record is 2)\
*Note: The consecutive game streaks are current, not necessarily from 2013*
These charts help me predict when I could have the most and least success ballhawking. Theoretically, if I were to look at these charts I would be able to CORRECTLY predict how many baseballs I would hawk depending on what day it is. In a perfect statistical world, I would have the most success ballhawking on a Friday in September. This is because my highest daily average is on Friday (5.66 BPG) and my highest monthly average is in September (7.25 BPG). To counter that, I would have the least success on a Thursday (1 BPG) in July (1 BPG).
Chronologically recording statistics has always been the most fun for me, but no matter how much I like chronological stats, I won’t use them to predict how many baseballs I could catch at my next baseball game. There are a few reasons why these charts will not always be right. First off, we don’t live in a perfect statistical world. No matter how consistent stats can be, there will eventually be a discrepancy or oddity (in ballhawking this could mean getting shutout at a game). Plus, there are so many other factors that contrite to ballhawking other than which day it is. The number of variables is unlimited.
Statistics become more accurate as more data is entered. Because my data is limited to 19 games it is a lot like a player’s batting average at the beginning of a new season. As more games are played (in my case, attended) it becomes easier to determine (predict) the true averages. Regardless of whether these charts are helpful or not, I still enjoy compiling these stats. I like the idea of being able to predict which games will or won’t be good for ballhawking.
Wins vs. Losses
(These stats only reflect the games I attended)
Home Team Record: (7-12)
Total Score: 106-70, Visitors W, Home L
Average Score when home team…
- Wins: 2.71 – 5.14
- Loses: 7.25 – 2.83
Total number of baseballs collected when home team…
- Wins: 25 Balls
- Loses: 48 Balls
Average baseballs/game when the home team…
- Wins: 3.57 Balls
- Loses: 4 Balls
Minnesota Twins Record: (6-9)
Total Score: 89-60, Visitors W, Twins L
Average score when the Twins…
- Win: 3.17 – 5.67
- Lose: 7.78 – 2.89
Total number of baseballs collected when the Twins…
- Win: 23 Balls
- Lose: 40 Balls
Average baseballs/game when the Twins…
- Win: 2.56 Balls
- Lose: 4.44 Balls
Milwaukee Brewers Record: (1-4)
Total Score: 21-11, Visitors W, Brewers L
Average score when the Brewers…
- Win: 0-2
- Lose: 4.5 – 3
Total number of baseballs collected when the Brewers…
- Win: 2 Balls
- Lose: 11 Balls
Average baseballs/game when the Brewers…
- Win: 2 Balls
- Lose: 2.75 Balls
(These stats only reflect the games I attended)
Total Attendance: 588,475
- Overall: 30,920
- Day Games: 35,665
- Night Games: 30,093
Average attendance when the home team…
- Wins: 31,303
- Loses: 30,779
Total Attendance: 464,834
Average Attendance/Game: 30,989
Average Attendance when the Twins…
- Win: 30,346
- Lose: 31,418
Total Attendance: 155,000
Average Attendance/Game: 31,000
Average tttendance when the Brewers…
- Win: 37,046
- Lose: 29,489
Baseballs by Attendance:
Total Baseballs when attendance is…
- 20,000-29,999: 43 Balls
- 30,000-39,999: 30 Balls
Average Balls/Game when attendance is…
- 20,000-29,999: 5.38 Balls
- 30,000-39,999: 2.72 Balls
(These stats only reflect the games I attended)
Average attendance when the temperature is…
- 30-39 degrees: 38,282
- 40-49 degrees: 23,299
- 50-59 degrees: 30,452
- 60-69 degrees: N/A
- 70-79 degrees: 34,141
- 80-89 degrees: 31,620
- 90-99 degrees: 24,416
Average baseballs/game when the temperature is…
- 30-39 degrees: 6 Balls
- 40-49 degrees: 5 Balls
- 50-59 degrees: 5 Balls
- 60-69 degrees: N/A
- 70-79 degrees: 3 Balls
- 80-89 degrees: 4.4 Balls
- 90-99 degrees: 3.8 Balls
- Indoor: 3.5 Balls
Day vs. Night Games
(These stats only reflect the games I attended)
Home Team Record:
- Overall: (7-12)
- Day Games: (0-3)
- Night Games: (7-9)
Total Runs Scored (Both Teams):
- Overall: 176 Runs
- Day Games: 26 Runs
- Night Games: 150 Runs
- Overall: 588,475
- Day Games: 106,994
- Night Games: 481,481
- Day Games: 12 Balls
- Night Games: 61 Balls
Number of Autographs/Player:
- 2 Autographs: Preston Claiborne
- 1 Autograph: Mark the Beer Guy, Caleb Thielbar, Adam Warren, Chris Stewart, Jamey Carroll, Chris Herrmann, Justin Masterson, Josh Roenicke, Shairon Martis, Oswaldo Arcia, Scott Diamond, Liam Hendricks, Paul Molitor, and Corey Koskie.
Miscellaneous Fun Stats
(These stats only reflect the games I attended)
Length of a Game (time from the first to the last pitch, not including delays):
Total Game Time: 61 hours & 9 minutes
Average Time/Game: 3 Hours & 19 minutes
Most Eaten Ballpark Food:
Hotdogs on $1 Hot Dog Day (Total All Season): 9
Cheese Burgers with Fries: 6
Chicken Strip and Fries Boats: 2
Nacho helmets (team helmet bowl): 2
Steak burgers: 2
Cheese Burger: 1
Frozen Cup of Strawberry Ice: 1
Frozen Cup of Lemonade Ice: 1
Nacho Boat: 1
Package of Peanuts: 1
Means of Transportation when traveling to a Major League Baseball Game:
Most Used Vehicles:
- 7 Games: 2006 Chevy Aveo: 07-31-13, 08-02-13, 8-27-13, 09-09-13, 09-11-13, 09-27-13, 09-28-13
- 6 Games: 2005 Pontiac Montana: 04-02-13, 04-03-13, 05-29-13, 06-28-13, 06-29-13, 08-15-13
- 2 Games: 2011 Honda Odyssey: 07-03-13, 07-04-13
- 1 Game:
- 2003 Chevy Cavalier: 04-01-13
- 2005 Chevy PT Cruiser: 04-16-13
- 2001 Dodge Neon: 08-03-13
- 2005 Chevy Impala & 2008 Chevy Malibu: 08-17-13
- 11 Games: Hiawatha Metro Blue Line (I drove to MOA or Fort Snelling and rode the line from there to Target Field).
- 6 Games: Parked in parking garage or parking lot next to Stadium
No Shave November:
In Honor of ‘No Shave November’ I put together this list of all the players/coaches/umpires who had facial hair when I caught a baseball from them during the 2013 MLB season:
Al Alburquerque, Ariel Prieto, Ben Richardson, Billy Butler, Doug Brocail (Coach), James Shields , Jared Weaver, Jerome Williams, Jim Wright (Coach), Josh Roenicke, Josh Willingham, Kelly Shoppach, Lee Tunnell (Coach), Liam Hendriks, Nate Dammann, Pat Neshek, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Raburn, Shairon Martis, Steve Soliz (Coach), Twins Security Guard, Tye Waller, Umpire Jim Joyce, Wade Davis, and Wilkin Ramirez.
List of Firsts
(Credit for this list goes to Tony Voda! I loved this list so much that I had to make my own. Awesome idea!)
- Opening Day game (4/1/13 – Opening Day 2013)
- Snagging multiple balls outside the gates at Target Field (4/1/13)
- Giving a ball back to a player (4/1/13 – Al Alburquerque)
- ‘Umpire’ ball (4/1/13)
- Opening Day commemorative baseball (4/1/13)
- Multiple commemoratives in one game (4/1/13 – Two beautiful baseballs)
- Game in 35 degree (or colder) weather (4/1/13)
- Ball from the Rockies (4/2/13 – Rockies vs. Brewers)
- Ball marked ‘practice’ (4/2/13)
- Back-to-back-to-back games (4/3/13)
- Hit ball at Miller Park (4/3/13)
- Ball in upper deck of any MLB stadium (4/16/13)
- Ground Rule Double (5/29/13 – Alex Gonzalez’s Game GRD – Target Field )
- Ball from the Royals (6/28/13)
- Back-to-back games at Target Field (6/29/13)
- Ball from the Yankees (7/3/13)
- 6 Autographs in one game (7/4/13 – Yankees vs. Twins)
- Ball from the Astros (8/2/13)
- Ball while eating a burger (8/27/13 – Wilkin Ramirez – Steak Burger)
- Game in 93 degree (or hotter) weather (9/9/13)
- Ball inside Target Field before gates opened (9/11/13 – Early BP)
- 6 balls inside Target Field before gates opened (9/11/13)
- 100th lifetime baseball (9/11/13 – #100 via Pat Neshek)
- Double digit game (9/11/13)
- 20 Runs in one game (9/11/13 – Athletics 18 VS Twins 3)
- Ball from the Indians (9/27/13)
- Ball from Security Guard (9/28/13)
- 2 1/2 hour rain delay (9/28/13)
Review/Assessment of my 2013 Ballhawking Goals:
2013 Ballhawking Goals:
- Attend 15 MLB games.
- Yes, I attended 19 games.
- Attend 1 MLB game outside of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri.
- No, Although I did attend games in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I did not in Missouri or any other states (or provinces).
- Have an average of at least 4.5 baseballs per game.
- No, I averaged 3.84 baseballs per game.
- Snag 60 baseballs.
- Yes, I snagged 73 baseballs.
- Snag each type of 2013 commemorative baseball
- No, I snagged 2 Opening Day commemoratives, but didn’t snag a Mothers Day, Rockies’ or Astros’ commemorative ball.
- Have a hit : thrown ball ratio of at least 2:10.
- Yes, this season’s hit : thrown ball ratio is 1 : 5.63
- Get 10 autographs at games.
- Yes, I got 15 (16 if you include the beer vendor)
- Meet many more people from ballhawking and blogging.
- Yes, I met a lot of people through at Target Field and through blogging.
- Finish in the top 3 for the MyGameBalls.com Junior Ballhawk of the Year Award.
- Yes, I finished 3rd.
- Finish in the top 50 in the MLBlogs Latest Leaders.
- Undetermined. I have been in the monthly top 50 list multiple times this year, but I will have to wait until January to see where I ranked on the list for the year.
I would definitely say that the last season of ballhawking was a huge success. I improved in almost every area, reached 6 (possibly 7) goals for this year, added 73 baseballs and 15 autographs to my collection, and finished in the top 3 for the Junior Ballhawk of the Year Award. But you know what? It doesn’t matter how many goals I reach, how many stats I have to compare, or where I rank among other ballhawks because none of those are reasons why I ballhawk. I Ballhawk because I get to do something I love. It is entertaining and enjoyable to catch baseballs at the ballpark and then watch a game afterwards (Heck, I watched 61 hours and 9 minutes of baseball this year alone), but it is tremendously more exciting when you have some great people to share the moments with. There are certainly many people who this applies to, but Tony Voda, Mateo Fisher and Shawn Bosman are the biggest names that come to my mind. Thank you guys for all the great moments this year, you’re a huge ingredient to successful ballhawking!
Give yourself a self deserving pat on the back if you’re still with me at this point. At the beginning you probably thought, “Oh, how bad could it be?”. Well, now you know! Kudos to you and thank you for sticking around for the whole entry! I don’t know what I would’ve done in your shoes!
When the 2013 Twins schedule first came out, this game was not scheduled for September 9th. It was supposed to be played on Wednesday April 17, but weather caused the game to be rescheduled to this date. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might recall I had been to the game on April 16, 2013. Because I went to the game on the 16th, this was technically my second game in two days.
Today I was accompanied by my friend Matt, who also accompanied me to the game on July 31st when the Royals were in town. We knew the attendance would be low because (1) the game wasn’t on the regular schedule, and (2) most people forgot that the game from April was rescheduled to today. Besides us, there were only 10 people at gate 34 shortly before the gates opened:
About a minute before the gates opened an employee handed Matt a ball that had been hit to the gate:
After promptly running to the bleachers we saw that the Angels had already started hitting. Matt quickly got the attention of one of the players in center field, but the player didn’t have a ball to throw at the time. I forget why, but for some reason Matt turned his attention elsewhere for a moment. At that exact time a ball was hit to the center fielder who instantaneously turned to throw the ball to Matt, but Matt wasn’t paying attention anymore. I tried getting Matt’s attention, but then the player pointed at me and fired a bullet from more than 100 feet away. Look at this beauty:
Just as soon as Matt turned his attention back to the center fielder, a ground rule double was hit to deep left center field. It was either hit by Mike Trout or Mark Trumbo, but I don’t know which one. While it was sailing towards the bleachers I positioned myself a few rows in front of where I thought it was going to land. After bouncing on the warning track the ball landed two rows behind me and I had no problem grabbing it for ball my second of the day:
Right after I grabbed the ball a guy wearing a yellow U of M shirt came running over and congratulated me on my grab. For some reason he was trying to snag baseballs with out a glove. When I asked him where his glove was he told me he forgot it at his apartment, but his friend (who was running late to batting practice) was bringing an extra glove for him. We introduced ourselves… his name was Brandon. It turns out that the friend he was referring to was Mateo Fischer. In case you’re a new reader, Mateo is a household name on this blog. He even has his own link on the blog roll on the right side of this page. Mateo isn’t known to be one who is late to baseball games… it was strange. I’m sure he will have an explanation when he publishes his entry for this game.
Mateo showed up about 20 minutes late, but had snagged an impressive number of baseballs while he was just running into the stadium. After we chatted for a bit Mateo and Matt both snagged another baseball. Then I did too. While Coach Steve Soliz was shagging a few baseballs in center field he was kind enough to throw me my third of the day. Soliz is in the background of the next photo:
Towards the end of batting practice Matt and I went to the Powerball Pavilion for a group of lefties. I came close to catching a homer, but I judged it wrong because I didn’t think it would carry enough. It ended up hitting a seat and bouncing back onto the field. So we didn’t get any home runs, but an Angels player (I’m unsure who) did toss a ball to me. It would’ve been my fourth of the day, if Matt had not robbed me. Right as the ball was about to land inside my glove, Matt slapped his glove inside of mine and caught the ball. When I asked to see the ball I pretended to throw it back on the field, but I didn’t have any hard feelings. Matt is still new to ballhawking and doesn’t know the unspoken rules (Such as not catching baseballs intended for others), but whatever.
After batting practice ended the three of us met back in section 131 on the aisle next to the bullpen. We all hung around because there were 3 baseballs sitting in the Twins bullpen. As we waited for someone to come to the bullpen we got a “group” picture:
I glanced over at the bullpen a few minutes later and the baseballs were gone:
The only person who entered the bullpen during that time was a security guard. I have never seen a security guard pick up a baseball at Target Field. Eventually Nate Dammann came to the Twins bullpen with a few baseballs. I timed it perfectly and was the first to ask if he had any extra baseballs, but he didn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. He said, “Not now, I will later.” I was glad he didn’t say ‘no’, but I wasn’t sure if he would actually hook me up later or not. Nate is pretty truthful though, he has never let me down before.
By the time Jared Weaver was finishing up in the Angels bullpen, the three of us accounted for half the people in the section. When Weaver finished in the bullpen he lobbed the ball over all of our heads, to an empty spot in the bleachers. The ball bounced on the bleachers, hit a guy’s head (softly, he didn’t get hurt), and kept rolling until I picked it up on the other side of the section. Looking back on it I should’ve kept the ball, but I felt obligated to give it to the guy who got hit by it (even though it barely hit him). The only reason I say this is because I could’ve given the ball to a kid instead.
It was pretty packed by the time the game started. This was what things looked like in the first inning:
There were maybe 8,000 people in the stadium. It was AMAZING. I’m really jealous of the A’s, Astros, Marlins and Royals for having such low attendance. I really enjoy going to low attendance games. Everything seems more relaxed and enjoyable.
The first run came in the 3rd inning when Pedro Florimon scored off of Pinto’s RBI double. The Angels took a 2-1 lead in the 4th inning and extended their lead to 3-1 in the 5th inning. Because the Angels were teeing off against the Twins, Ryan Pressly started warming up in the Twins bullpen in the bottom of the 5th inning:
When he finished warming up with Nate Dammann, Nate kept his word and threw the baseball to me. It felt great to get out of my ballhawking slump of 1-2 baseballs per game (I’m not trying to come across as spoiled or ungrateful, I’m just saying it was really fun to get 5 baseballs at this game). Shortly after this, the Twins scored 2 runs to tie the game 3 runs a piece. The Twins strung some hits together in the 7th inning and took a 5-3 lead.
In the 8th inning Matt and I took off for the Angels dugout, but Mateo stayed behind in the bleachers for a few extra minutes. Not more than 5 minutes after we left, Josh Hamilton hit a ground rule double into the Angels bullpen. Had we stayed in the bleacher for 5 more minutes, we would’ve had the best chance at getting the ball from Steve Soliz (in the bullpen). I was frustrated that we’d been so close, but my frustration went away when I found out who ended up snagging the baseball. I was actually really excited for him. (Take a hint and go visit Mateo’s blog).
Matt and I got some great seats for the last 1.5 innings, but neither of us snagged another baseball for the rest of the game.
The Twins scored their 6th run in the 8th inning. Not a bad day at the ballpark! The final score was 6-3, Twins.
Here is the box score and scoring plays from the game:
Did you see the attendance was listed at 21,826? Keep in mind that that’s the number of tickets that were sold, not the number of people who actually attended the game. At the games climax, there might have been 10,000 – 12,000 people. That might be pushing it though.
A Piece of The Game MVP:
Nate Dammann: He told me he would hook me up with a ball ‘later’, and he did! About an hour an a half later. Thanks Nate.
Player of the Game:
Trevor Plouffe: He went 2-4 on the night, and had 3 RBI. Ultimately, his great performance was the deciding factor in this game.
Here is my final haul from the game (four balls pictured because I gave one away. The draw string bag was the giveaway from the game) :
- 5 balls in this game
- 49 balls in 16 games this season = Avg. 3.06 balls per game
- 22 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
- 4 consecutive Twins home games with at least 2 balls
- 26 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
- Gotten at least 1 ball from 15 different teams
- 93 total balls
In the previous day’s entry I mentioned that I stayed overnight at my Uncle and Aunt’s house, but I didn’t mention why. I stayed there so I could go to the Twins game today, on the 4th of July! Since it was a day game on a holiday, the gates were scheduled to open at 11:00. My uncle dropped me off at Fort Snelling around 10:15 so I could ride the train. I arrived at the stadium around 10:45 and was extremely surprised to see there were no large crowds! Take a look at “all” the people:
When I entered the stadium, this was the only action on the field:
Caleb Thielbar was warming up solo in shallow right field. As more fans entered the seats, more and more kids begged him to sign autographs. When he started signing autographs I took advantage of the chance:
Caleb happily signed my ticket (the one in the previous picture). Thanks Caleb! One of my goals this season is to get 10-15 autographs at games… This was the first one all year. After he signed for a little while he retreated to the dugout. While all this was happening I noticed that there was some activity in the Twins bullpen. I headed over to section 131 and discovered Scott Diamond was warming up with Nate Dammann:
Did you see the ball on the ground in the previous picture? Nate threw it to me when he finished with Scott.
After this point everything slowed down… a lot. Many of the Twins came out to warm up in right field, but there were so many people that I couldn’t get close at all:
The same thing happened when some Yankees players came out to warm up:
Eventually I finally got close enough to maybe get a ball:
…but I didn’t get a ball. However, I did get some more autographs!
Adam Warren was the first Yankees’ player to sign autographs down the line in left field. I placed my ticket and a sharpie inside my hat and handed it to Adam. He signed my ticket and then asked me if I would like him to sign my hat. For whatever reason my stupid self said, “No thanks Adam, thanks for signing my ticket!” To be fair to myself I’ll mention that I prefer to not get hats signed. If I get a hat signed then I stop wearing it because I want to keep it in decent condition. Here he is signing my ticket:
As Adam Warren made his way up the left field line, Preston Claiborne also came over to sign. Both he and Adam were really good about signing for everybody. I’m not huge on autographs anymore, but I still think its cool to see players interact with the fans in such a way that fans enjoy. Anyways, Preston signed my ticket and my hat… my HAT??
The lady in front of me offered to hold my hat for me because she was in the front row. This was very nice of her. Without her kind gesture I probably wouldn’t have gotten my ticket and hat signed… Thank you whoever you are!
I was surprised a short while later when Chris Stewart also came over to sign. He was telling everyone that he was only signing one item per person… which was absolutely fine with me. There was a little boy next to me who wanted an autograph so I asked Chris if he would sign the ticket and the ticket receipt. He signed my ticket, but only the ticket. I wasn’t angry with him and I don’t blame him for anything because there are lots of people who lie about things like that just to get an extra autograph. I think he probably got annoyed with me just for asking.
After I stopped recording I was going to give my ticket to the little kid but I quickly realized that there were other autographs on the ticket and that I would also need it for the game. I thanked Chris for the autograph and then headed back to the Twins side of the field. By this time it was only 12:19 pm!
Around 12:30 I found a seat near the first base side of the Twins dugout because I knew that Jamey Carroll usually signs autographs before his pregame warm-ups. I was right, and ended up also getting his autograph on my ticket:
Because I handed him my ticket before I started recording, I didn’t get it on camera. If you listen closely when the video starts you can hear me say, “He signed the ticket”. A few minutes later I noticed he was talking to a fan who he knew. I was just surprised there was no longer a crowd of people huddling around him. When he finished catching up with his friend he continued to stand near the seats, yet there was no one crowding around him. I took advantage of this somewhat rare opportunity and started talking with Jamey. We chatted for a minute or two and then I asked him a question that had been on my mind for a few games.
I asked, “I saw that there is a second bullpen catcher besides Nate. He was wearing a jersey that said ‘Richardson 56’. Who is it?”
Jamey responded, “Ben. The other bullpen catcher is Ben Richardson.”
I was thrilled to have talked with Jamey, especially since he answered the question that was being pondered by Tony, Mateo and myself (Yeah, I linked myself to my own blog. How many people caught that? You can click it anyways). By this time there were more autograph seeking kids so I thanks Jamey and found a seat behind the dugout. Before I knew it, it was game practically game time:
When the game started I left the dugout box and found an empty aisle seat next to the bullpen. I sat there for 2 1/2 innings and then went to get a brat. After I got a second brat I watched the game from the standing room in right field. David, the usher from the night before, was not ushering in that section today. Instead there was a different usher who kept standing in everyone’s way while we were trying to watch the game.
I could’ve sat down somewhere to watch the game, but I wanted to get a home run ball. I know it’s pretty unlikely that it will happen, but there are ways to increase the odds. Sit in left field for righties and stand in right field for lefties… its a pretty basic concept. For the rest of this year I’m going to play the odds a much as possible. In the forth inning Justin Morneau hit a home run 1 section to my right, but it didn’t have enough distance to reach me. There was also no possible way for me to climb over 4 rows of occupied seats.
In the 7th inning i decided that home runs were a lots cause today. Because the Twins were losing 9-1, it was pretty easy to get here:
I got to the second row just in time to see the Twins go on a mini offensive tear. They scored 3 runs in the 7th inning, and I had a front row view of it. The Twins never caught up to the Yankees, who had been on their own tear all game. The Yankees won 9-5.
Just like I mentioned this in yesterday’s entry, I don’t usually do “Thank Yous”. However, there are multiple people who deserve thank yous:
- Uncle Mark and Aunt Michelle – Thank you for opening up your home to me while I went to 2 games!
- Uncle Mark – Thank you for the transportation you provided me. It means more than you know!
- My Parents – Thank you for letting me go on this 2 game adventure – and for everything else you let me do baseball related!
- Unknown Lady at the game – Thank you for assisting in my autograph collection. Holding my hat was a very kind gesture.
- Caleb Thielbar, Nate Dammann, Adam Warren, Preston Chlaiborne, and Chris Stewart – Thank you for the baseball and autographs.
- Jamey Caroll – I didn’t forget you… Thank you for the autograph AND for being a super fan friendly player. Now I know the name of the second bullpen catcher for the Twins (Ben Richardson) . I’m sure Tony and Mateo would thank you too.
Want to know a little more about the game? Kyle Gibson, the Twins starting pitcher, let up 8 runs on 11 hits in only 5 1/3 innings. The Yankees offense was moving quickly, but it really wasn’t too exciting. Vernon Wells doubled and Ichiro tripled, but otherwise the Yankees hits were all singles. Brian Duensing relieved Gibson in the 6th inning. Morneau ended up having a multi-homer day at the plate – homering again in the 7th inning. Those were the highlights, but here is the box score and scoring plays from the game:
A Piece of The Game MVP:
Nate Dammann: He kept my “consecutive games with at least 1 ball” streak alive. Now its up to 19.
Player of The Game:
Justin Morneau: He had his 19th multi-HR game of his career. He went 2-3 and collected 2 RBI despite the Twins falling to the Yankees.
Here is my final haul from the night:
- 1 balls in this game
- 32 balls in 9 games this season = Avg. 3.55 balls per game
- 19 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
- 17 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
- Gotten at least 1 ball from 13 different teams
- 76 total balls
The baseball day started off when I got on the light rail at the Mall of America. Forty minutes later I arrived at Target Field. This was my view after an additional 45 minutes had gone by:
Usually when I enter the stadium I go to foul territory first, but I decided to try something different for this game. My goal for the game was: catch a Prince Fielder BP homer, or get Prince Fielder to throw me a ball. I stood in right field hoping he would hit a few balls to the sections around me.
Once Prince stepped into the cage there were bombs being hit all over to right/center field. I was pretty disappointed because he didn’t hit anything near me. I stayed in the right/center field area for the next group of batters. This group had 3 powerful lefties. Once again, no homers came close to me.
I decided to watch the 3rd and final group of batters from behind the Tigers’ dugout:
I’ll sum up the next 15 minutes for you in the next sentence. The players and coaches were not in the giving mood.
After BP ended I checked the bullpens…
… All the baseballs had been cleared out already. Usually there are baseballs from BP in the bullpens until Drew Butera or Nate Dammann picks them up a half hour before the game. Obviously I missed something.
I waited here for the pitchers to start warming up. I always think it is fun to watch. I got a cool picture of Anibal Sanchez:
The Tigers bullpen catcher, Scott Pickens, was catching for Sanchez until Avila got to the bullpen. Pickens was generous and gave me some gum:
He gave me four pieces of Double Bubble. Thank you Scott Pickens.
I knew my baseball streak would end eventually, but I didn’t expect it to be this soon. Too bad though, 0 balls in BP.
When it was nearing game time, I went to find my friends who I was going to meet at the game. Out of the six of them, none had been to Target Field before. I decided to give them a tour. I took them around the whole stadium. The highlights included: seeing the organ lady (she’s very nice), seeing the bullpens, seeing the flags in the right field plaza, and watching the game from a few different spots. Afterwards, we went to sit in out seats in section 304.
No one had scored yet into the 3rd inning:
In the bottom of the 7th inning a friend and I went to sit behind the Tigers dugout. I was still determined to get a ball from Prince Fielder. I had even made a sign at home that said “The Prince Is Now King”. I thought it might help me get a ball from him. As Fielder was walking back to the dugout at the end of the 7th inning he was looking at my sign the whole time. He came up to hit in the 8th inning and I got some nice pictures while he was on deck.
Cabrera on deck:
Cabrera at the plate and Fielder on deck:
As the Tigers were walking back to the dugout at the end of the 8th inning, someone from the dugout flipped Prince Fielder a warm up ball, which he flipped to me! There would be no shut out for me, I was on the board! I’m almost positive that he flipped the ball to me because of my sign. It is also really cool to get a ball from your favorite player.
Here are the play-by-play scoring plays from the game:
- In the Bottom of the 3rd inning Justin Morneau singled to left, Joe Mauer scored, and Josh Willingham advanced to second.
- In the Top of the 5th inning Jhonny Peralta doubled to deep right field to drive in Brennan Bosch.
- In the bottom of the 5th inning Mastroianni hit a 365 foot home run to left field to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
- In the bottom of the 6th inning Alexi Casilla doubled to deep right field to drive in Ryan Doumit and to advance Carroll to third base.
- Later in the 6th inning Mastroianni singled to center and drove in Carroll and Casilla, but Mastroianni was tagged out trying to stretch a single into a double.
- In the bottom of the 7th inning Ryan Doumit homered to left center field (420 feet), Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham scored. This would give Minnesota an 8-1 lead.
- In the top of the 8th inning Miguel Cabrera reached on an infield single. Jackson scored on the play. Later in the same inning Delmon Young singled to center. Dirks scored on the play and Miguel Cabrera advanced to second.
- In the bottom of the 8th inning with runners on first and third Josh Willingham hit a sacrifice fly to center field. Ben Revere scored.
When the game ended I stayed in the first row behind the dugout and waited for the coaches and players to walk in from the bullpen. (I was holding my sign too)
Pitching Coach Jeff Jones tossed me a ball just before he entered the dugout. Just as I caught the ball Scott Pickens and another player started walking in from the bullpen.
2 minutes later Scott Pickens tossed me my 3rd ball of the day.
My friend Mark took a picture of me a few minutes later in a different spot:
After this we rejoined all of our friends.
The balls are in order from when I got them. (from left to right) Prince, Jones, Pickens.
Also, for every game I go to from now on I’ll be picking a player to get the “A Piece of The Game MVP” award. I’ll be picking the player that had the most importance to my day of ball hawking. I will also be picking a player for the “Player of The Game” award. This will be who I think contributed the most to their teams’ success.
A Piece of The Game MVP:
Prince Fielder, because he kept me from being shut out, helped me achieve my goal, and is my favorite player.
|P Fielder 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||12||.307||.399||.508|
Player of The Game:
Sam Deduno, because he only allowed 3 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings. He also had 6 strikeouts. He worked hard which allowed the Twins hitters to relax and do their job.
- 3 balls at this game
- 24 balls in 7 games this season = Avg. 3.42 balls per game
- 7 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
- 7 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
- 8 consecutive Twins home games with at least 1 ball
- 6 consecutive Twins home games with at least 2 balls
- Gotten at least 1 ball from 9 different teams
- 27 total balls