Tagged: Paul Molitor

Opening Day: Royals @ Twins – Target Field (04-13-15)

My first Opening Day was back in 2013 when the Tigers and Twins kicked off the season at Target Field. I missed the home opener in 2014, but I decided that I wouldn’t miss it this year! I was very anxious for a chance to get my hands on the first commemorative baseball in the Manfred Era.

I got to the gates 30 minutes before they opened, but I got a spot at the front of the line. Had it not been for Tony and Jared, I would’ve been stuck at the end of one of these huge lines:
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Once inside the stadium, Brian Duensing tossed me my first regular season baseball of the year; a 2015 Opening Day ball! Just kidding, but how cool would that have been?! Seriously, though, this is the pearly white that Brian tossed up:
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It felt good to get a ball so early in batting practice, but it felt even better when I got my second ball just a few minutes later. This one was courtesy of Aaron Thompson:

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Because the Twins weren’t displaying a lot of power during batting practice, I didn’t mind getting a few toss ups instead. It wasn’t long before 1:30 rolled around and the Royals replaced the Twins on the field during batting practice. I was hoping to get my next ball when the Royals finished playing catch in left field. I tried to their attention, but my chances diminished as each pair finished their game of catch. Finally, as the last pair of players finished throwing, an unknown Royals player tossed me this rustic looking baseball:

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When the Royals began taking their cuts in the cage I headed out to the left field bleachers. There was such a beautiful array of colors on the field:

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I spent about half the Royals bp in the bleachers before heading over to the Twins dugout for the rest of bp. Since I’d already snagged a few baseballs today, I was ready to focus on snagging an Opening Day commemorative baseball. Having said that, this is where I moved to:

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This was the one game where I had a chance to get one of these special baseballs. I was going to spend as much time next to the dugout as possible. Sometime between getting to the Twins dugout and the singing of the National Anthem, Tony and I were joined by Cam Bailey! Soon it was time for the singing of the National Anthem:

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Following the National Anthem Kevin Garnett (and family), who was joined by Tyus Jones, took the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch!:

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Moments before the game started, Dominique surprised the three of us by tossing us each a ball from the ball bag. It was such a perfect ball:20150413_150652

When the game kicked off, I took a pretty nice panoramic photo. It’s one of my favorites:

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Although the Twins were the first to score a run, the Royals were the first to put some distance on the scoreboard between their opponents.  By the end of the sixth inning the Royals were ahead 5-2. Trevor Plouffe homered in the seventh inning, but the Royals managed to pile on seven additional runs by the end of the game. The Royals beat the Twins by a score of 12-3. Click to watch the highlight video from the game. Here’s the summary and other info from the game:

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After the game I got my fifth ball from Umpire Paul Nauert:

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Not only was this the first time I’d gotten a ball from someone who’s first name was also my first name, but this was another 2015 Opening Day commemorative ball. This was my second mud rubbed commemorative ball of the night! I made it to the opposite side of the dugout just in time to get one final ball. This one was thrown by Lorenzo Cain as he entered the clubhouse:

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I made sure to take an artsy photo of the commemoratives after I left the ballpark:

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The final group shot includes the awesome sweatshirt giveaway from the game:

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

UP NEXT: A’s vs. Twins 05/04/15

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

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

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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:

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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:

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

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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:

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

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

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#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:

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Mike McCarthy signed next:

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

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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:

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Ty Buttrey also signed for me:

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Javier Rodriguez was the final player to sign for me:

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

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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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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(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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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:

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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:

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

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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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

After nearly being hit by a home run when I was looking down at my roster, Mark Hamburger hooked me up with another Manfred ball:
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It wasn’t too long until I was in possession of another ball. This time from Ricky Nolasco:

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

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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:

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And here’s number 7:

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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:

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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:

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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?:

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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!

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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):

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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.

The 2014 Extraordinary Compilation of Ballhawking Statistics

The 2014 baseball season was one that I won’t forget. To kick off the year I was able to attend a few Spring Training games in Florida. Amoung four games at Hammond Stadium and jetBlue Park, I caught 42 Baseballs and collected 10 autographs.

When the regular season rolled around I got off to a slow start. By the All-Star Break I had only collected 14 balls in five games (avg. of 2.8 per game). Speaking of the All-Star Break… What an experience!  If you missed out on my recaps then be sure to check out my entries from the Futures Game, Home Run Derby and of course, the All-Star Game. I snagged three commemorative Home Run Derby baseballs and collected a few other really cool souvenirs.

At the All-Star Game I literally witnessed history in the making. Mike Trout became only the third player to get multiple extra-base hits in an All-Star Game before turning 23. With his third inning single, Derek Jeter became only the sixth player in baseball history with 10 career singles in the All-Star Game. Jeter also became the oldest player with multiple hits in an All-Star Game. Yasiel Puig became only the second Dodgers player to strike out three times in an All-Star Game. Mike Trout also became the second player in ASG history to collect a triple, a double, and 2+ RBI in a single ASG. His booming performance helped earn him the ASG MVP.

After the All-Star Break I traveled to Wrigley Field for one game with Shawn Bosman and to Kauffman Stadium for two games with Mateo Fischer. Although this was my first time visiting Wrigley, I had visited Kauffman a few years back.

Heading into September I was averaging just 1.7 baseballs throughout 10 games, but thanks to a 39 ball month I was able to finish the year with an average of 3.29 balls in 17 games. The seven games that I attended during September are some of the most memorable games I’ve been to.

I saw the Twins win a lot this year. Not only did the Twins win nine of the 12 games I attended, but three of them were walk-off victories!

Game Log

This is a screen shot of my game log. I log each game with its date, start time, ballpark, teams, scores, attendance, temperature, wind, and balls collected. It’s not very visible now, but the photo will expand if you click on it.

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You might have noticed there are a few games that are in bold. If something is in bold then it means I didn’t count that game towards ballhawking. I have reasons for doing so, and I’d be more than happy to explain them if you’d like to know. All of my ballhawking stats reflect the games that aren’t in bold.

The Numbers

Number of Baseballs in 2014:

  • Total: 88
  • Spring Training: 32
  • Regular Season: 56
  • Post Season: N/A

Stats in this entry will reflect the Regular Season total of 56 baseballs.

Season Summary

Overall Season Summary:

  • Total Baseballs: 56
  • Games Attended: 17
  • Average Balls/Game: 3.29
  • Game Balls: 5
  • Most Ball in one Game: 9

Statistical Breakdown

Number of Baseballs by Month and Day:

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Number of Baseballs by Time Frame:

  • BP/Pre-game: 39
  • During Game: 10
  • Post-Game: 7

Number of Baseballs by Location:

Snag Tracker is courtesy of Mygameballs.com . Go check out the website if you have not already!

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Number of Baseballs by Method:

  • Hit Balls: 12
  • Thrown Balls: 43
  • Easter Eggs: 1

Number of baseballs by League:

  • American League Balls: 48
  • National League Balls: 4
  • Umpire Balls: 4

Number of Baseballs by Team:

  • AL All-Stars: 2
  • Diamondbacks: 3
  • Indians: 3
  • NL All-Stars: 1
  • Rangers: 4
  • Royals: 1
  • Tigers: 1
  • Twins: 35
  • Umpires: 4
  • White Sox: 2

Number of Baseballs by Player:

  • 6 Balls: Dominique (BB)
  • 5 Balls: Twins Reps
  • 4 Balls: N/A
  • 3 Balls: Armando Camacaro (Coach), Oswaldo Arcia, Unknown Diamondbacks Players
  • 2 Balls: Ben Richardson (Bullpen Catcher), Chris Parmelee, Stadium Employees, Unknown Rangers Players, Unknown Twins Players
  • 1 Ball: Aaron Thompson, Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, Casey Fien, Chris Herrmann, David Price, Eduardo Nunez, Josh Willingham, Kaz Uehara (Koji Uehara’s son), Kurt Suzuki, Kyle Gibson, Lester Oliveros, Lorenzo Cain, Phil Hughes, Ron Gardenhire, Trevor Plouffe, Tyson Ross, Umpire Brian Knight, Umpire Cory Blaser, Umpire Phil Cuzzi, Unknown Rangers Coach, Unknown Tigers Player, Unknown White Sox Bullpen Coach, Unknown White Sox Player

 Wins vs. Losses

(“Wins vs. Losses” accounts for 16/17 games that I attended in 2014. The Home Run Derby was excluded from “Wins vs. Losses” because the winner of the Derby is an individual player, not a team.)

Home Team Record: (10-6)

Total Score: Visitors – 53 to Home – 75

Average Score: Visitors – 3.5 to Home – 4.68

Average Score when home team…

  • Wins: 2.7 – 6.2
  • Loses: 4.33 – 2.16

Total number of baseballs collected when home team…

  • Wins: 36
  • Loses: 19

Average baseballs/game when the home team…

  • Wins: 3.6
  • Loses: 3.16

Minnesota Twins Record: (9-3)

Total Score: Visitors – 38 to Twins – 62

Average Score: Visitors – 3.17 to Twins – 5.17

Average score when the Twins…

  • Win: 2.67 – 6.33
  • Lose: 4.67 – 1.67

Total number of baseballs collected when the Twins…

  • Win: 34
  • Lose: 19

Average baseballs/game when the Twins…

  • Win: 3.78
  • Lose: 6.3

Attendance Figures

Total Attendance:

  • Target Field (14 Games): 400,553
  • Kauffman Stadium (2 Games): 74,098
  • Wrigley Field (1 Game): 30,541
  • Overall (17 Games): 505,192

Average Attendance:

  • Target Field (14 Games): 28,611
  • Kauffman Stadium (2 Games): 37,049
  • Wrigley Field (1 Game): 30,541
  • Overall (17 Games): 29,717

Total Baseballs by Attendance:

  • 20,000-29,999: 51
  • 30,000-39,999: 2
  • 40,000 – 49,999: 3

Average Baseballs/Game by Attendance:

  • 20,000-29,999: 5
  • 30,000-39,999: 0.4
  • 40,000 – 49,000: 1.5

Temperature

Average attendance by Temperature:

  • 30-39 degrees: N/A
  • 40-49 degrees: N/A
  • 50-59 degrees: N/A
  • 60-69 degrees: 25
  • 70-79 degrees: 30
  • 80-89 degrees: 1
  • 90-99 degrees: 0

Average baseballs/game by Temperature:

  • 30-39 degrees: N/A
  • 40-49 degrees: N/A
  • 50-59 degrees: N/A
  • 60-69 degrees: 3.57
  • 70-79 degrees: 4.29
  • 80-89 degrees: 0.5
  • 90-99 degrees: 0

Autographs

Number of Autographs/Player:

  • At Twins Caravan: 4
  • At TwinsFest: 1
  • At the Ballpark: 40

Aaron Thompson, Alex Meyer, Alex Presley (x2), Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, Caleb Thielbar, Casey Fien, Christopher Acosta, Danny Santana, DiDi Gregorius, Ender Inciarte, Henry Ramos, Javier Guerra, Joe Paterson, Jordan Schafer, Jose Vinicio, Josmil Pinto, Kennys Vargas (x2), Kevin Correia, Kyle Gibson, Lester Oliveros (x2), Logan Darnell, Mark the Beer Guy (x2), Matthew Price, Miguel Sano, Mookie Betts, Paul Molitor (x2), Pedro Florimon, Reed Gragnini, Ryan Pressly, Tony Oliva, Trevor May, Trevor Plouffe, Trey Ball, Unknown Red Sox Player (x2), Vance Worley, Zack Walters (x2), and Zeke Spruill.

Time spent at the Ballpark

Length of a Game:

(This stat only accounts for the official game time. This does not include the time spent at batting practice or after the game. Also, does not include Home Run Derby because I was unable to determine the length of the Derby.)

  • Total Game Time: 51 hours & 16 minutes
  • Average Time/Game: 3 hours & 12 minutes

Means of Transportation:

Vehicles Used:

  • 10 Games: 2006 Chevy Aveo
  • 1 Game:
    • 2014 Chevy Malibu
    • Chevy Cavalier

Parking:

  • 12 Games: Parked somewhere else and rode the light rail to the stadium.
  • 5 Games: Parked in parking garage or parking lot next to Stadium.

So, not bad! I know some of these stats are random and useless, but most of them are relevant. I didn’t add any new types of statistics to this entry since last year but I did filter out some of the pointless stats that were in last years version. This year it was a bit more difficult to put this entry together because I caught less baseballs than last year. Hopefully I’ll catch a few more balls next year so I can add a bit more variety in next year’s stats entry!

2015 Fan Fests of the AL Central Division

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

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Date: January 23-25, 2015

Hours: Hours have not yet been announced.

Location:

Hilton Chicago

720 South Michigan Avenue

Chicago, Illinois, 60605

Parking: Hotel Parking

Admission Ticket Pricing:

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

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

Autograph Voucher Pricing: Included in admission price

Things that have improved from last year:

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

If I was the GM I would…

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

My Overall Grade of SoxFest LAST YEAR: B-

My Overall Grade of SoxFest THIS YEAR: B

tribe

Date: January 24-25, 2015

Hours:

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

Location:

Progressive Field

2401 Ontario Street

Cleveland, OH 44115

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

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

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND

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

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

Autograph Information:

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

Things that have improved since last year:

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

If I was the GM I would…

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

My Overall Grade of Tribe Fest LAST YEAR: C+

My Overall Grade of Tribe Fest THIS YEAR: B

tigers

Date: January 24, 2015

Hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location:

Comerica Park

2100 Woodward Avenue

Detroit, MI 48201-3470

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

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

*Tickets are sold out.*

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

The Detroit Tigers Kids Zone featuring:

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

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

Things that have improved since last year:

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

If I was the GM I would…

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

My Overall Grade of TigerFest LAST YEAR: A

My Overall Grade of TigerFest THIS YEAR: A

royals

Date: January 30-31, 2015

Hours:

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

Location:

Bartle Hall at the Kansas City Convention Center

301 W 13th St #100

Kansas City, MO 64105

Parking: There are many parking options close to Bartle Hall

Admission Ticket Pricing:

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

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

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND:

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

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

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

Things that have improved since last year:

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

If I was the GM I would…

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

My Overall Grade of Royals FanFest LAST YEAR: B+

My Overall Grade of Royals FanFest THIS YEAR: B+

twins

Date: January 23-25, 2015

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

Location:

Target Field

1 Twins Way

Minneapolis, MN

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

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

SCHEDULED TO ATTEND:

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

Fan Activities Include:

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

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

Things that have improved since last year:

  • The Twins have added a few new fan activities.

If I was the GM I would…

  • Lower the Admission price from $20.

My Overall Grading LAST YEAR: A

My Overall Grading THIS YEAR: A

Twins 2015 Winter Caravan Preview

During the next few weeks the Minnesota Twins’ Winter Caravan is scheduled to visit more than 40 communities across Minnesota, Iowa, and North & South Dakota. Here is an excerpt from the Twins website:

The Twins Winter Caravan is one of the longest running and most extensive offseason team caravans in professional sports. It features teams of current and former players visiting schools, hospitals, corporations and service clubs during the day with a traditional “hot stove” program each evening.

Twins Winter Caravan tours will be led by members of the Treasure Island Baseball Network and Fox Sports North broadcast teams including Bert Blyleven, Dick Bremer, Dan Gladden, Cory Provus and Kris Atteberry.

Preliminary 2015 Twins Winter Caravan routes and personalities are below (schedule and players are subject to change). Specific times and locations within those communities will be announced in the coming weeks on this page.”

2014 Twins Winter Caravan Schedule

This year, there are two groups that will cover two different Routes over the course of two weeks. The first week will run from January 12-15 while the second week will run from January 19-22.

W1 W2

If you want to see what the Twins Caravan is typically like, then I suggest checking out the entry I wrote from last year’s caravan. If i go this year, then I’ll get to see Brian Duensing, Brian Dozier, Phil Hughes, Jack Morris and Dick Bremer when they stop in Rochester on January 21st. I’ll be sure to post an entry about it afterwards.

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

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

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

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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:

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When they finished, Kyle threw the ball to me:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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By 11:00 o’clock I was one ball shy of reaching a ballhawking milestone. Including spring training baseballs, I was sitting at 199 baseballs. At 11:06, Anthony Swarzak finished up with Nate Dammann and threw me my 200th baseball Here’s what happened next:

200

Wow. Everything was going my way today. I couldn’t believe it!

As the game drew near, I met up with Tony at the Twins’ dugout. From here, things continued to go both of our ways. Tony got a few baseballs and we each got a few more autographs. The first was from Ryan Pressley:

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Pressley also signed the ball from the previous night. That ball now contained the signatures of Jordan Schafer, Josmil Pinto, Logan Darnell, Trevor May, Brian Duensing and Ryan Pressley.

Next, I was able to get Trevor Plouffe’s autograph:

plouffe autos

You know what’s cool about this ball? I had originally caught this ball on the fly when Trevor Plouffe hit it during batting practice at Hammond Stadium on March 6th during spring training. It took 6 months, but I finally got it signed by him!

The final autograph that I got was from my All-Time favorite baseball player, Paul Molitor:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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!