Going to this game was an extremely last minute decision. Neither my friend Matt nor I had any plans for the evening so we booked it up to Minneapolis. After just a few minutes in the stadium I snagged my first ball of the day, which was also my 200th lifetime. Of course, that’s not counting Spring Training baseballs.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Nate let me know that it came off the bat of Shane Robinson.
There wasn’t too much excitement from the Twins portion of batting practice, but I was able to snag a few more homers during the Mariners portion of bp. I got this one in section 129:
I’m not sure who hit that homer, nor who hit this next one that I caught in section 137:
Batting Practice ended around 6 o’clock so the Long Haul Bombers could have their derby before the game started. Bubba Brungardt kicked things off for the Bombers:
Most of those guys were HUGE. They absolutely crushed the ball. It was pretty fun to watch.
When the derby finished Dominic hooked me up with another ball for the day. I forgot to take a picture of it right away, but I took this (terrible) picture afterwards:
Matt and I watched the first few innings from the center field bleachers. Phil Hughes started on the mound for the Twins and J.A. Happ followed for the Mariners. Seth Smith hit a two run homer in the first inning, but the Twins battled back in their half with a lead off homer from Brian Dozier. Hicks and Hunter followed with singles and then Rosario hit a three run bomb to right field. Suddenly the Twins were winning 2-5 in the first inning.
Although the game was exciting, we were just kind of bored. We watched another inning or two but then we decided to go to the Mall of America. The Mariners lost to the Twins 5-9. Click here to watch the highlight video. Here’s the info from the game:
Here’s the group shot:
TOTALS: 4 balls at this game. 30 balls this year.
UP NEXT: Astros vs. Twins 08/28/15
I was back at Target Field for my second game in two days, but this time I was with my dad. It had been a while since we had gone to a game together so it was nice we could get to this one. My dad rarely chases after baseballs, but today he joined me in the left field bleachers. The result? A clean pearly white batting practice homer. My dad has snagged two baseballs in his life… One at Kauffman Stadium and one at Target Field. I was there for both!
I got my first of the day after I chased down a ground rule double that was hit by Kennys Vargas. I caught it as it ricocheted back towards the field:
The Twins portion of batting practice continued at a slow pace, but then I saw something that peaked my attention. I noticed that Shane Robinson was about to step into the cage. Back in spring training I caught a few of Robinson’s batting practice homers. Apparently Robinson had already been called up for quite some time, but I was unaware of it.
After shifting over a section for Robinson, I caught the first and only homer that he hit:
When the A’s took the field I was hoping they’d put on a show, but they ended up hitting only a few into the seats. The home runs were scarce, but I was able to catch this ball that was thrown by Evan Scribner:
Batting practice continued for another 30 minutes or so, but it was pretty dull from that point on. When batting practice ended I joined my dad in the Legends Club until the game was about to start. At that point I made my way back to the Twins dugout. I took this picture just moments before the National Anthem was sung:
Did you see how empty the stadium was? The paid attendance for the game was 18,135, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were only about 16,000 in attendance.
Ball number three was tossed by a future All Star. Here’s a look at that beauty:
Okay, so Dominique is not actually on the All Star ballot, but he deserves a write in! This seems like as good a time as any to launch my #VoteDom campaign. Should they have a vote for the All Star Bat/Ball Boy? #VoteDom #AllStarDom2K15
After collecting my third of the day I hustled back up to the Legends Club in time for the first pitch. My dad and I had a stellar view:
Rain started to fall in the top of 6th inning, but the game continued without a delay. A steady rain shower set in for the next 2 innings, which caused a lot of people to leave the game early. I checked back in at the Twins dugout in the 8th inning and found a seat behind the home plate side of the dugout.
With two outs in the top of the 9th inning, Ryan Pressley worked a 1-2 count against Billy Burns. Pressley earned his 67th strike out as Burns went down swinging to end the top of the 9th. Kurt Suzuki ended up with the strike out ball and he tossed it to me as he entered the dugout:
Heading into the bottom of the ninth inning the Twins were down 2-1. Earlier in the game Billy Butler and Jed Lawrie had each singled in a run to give Oakland the lead. Brian Dozier scored Minnesota’s first run when he singled to center in the 8th inning. The Twins went down in short order to end the ninth inning as the A’s won the game 2-1. Click here to watch MLB’s highlight video. Here’s the info from the game:
Following the game I thanked Mr. Todd Tichenor as he exited the field:
The result? Didn’t even have to ask for this one:
Umpires are underrated and underappreciated so it goes along ways to say thank you after the game. They usually smile and then toss a ball up. Its a win win scenario.
The entry wouldn’t be complete without the cliché group shot:
TOTALS: 6 balls at this game. 15 balls this year.
UP NEXT: Red Sox vs. Twins 05/26/15
Although today’s Red Sox vs. Twins game would be played at Hammond Stadium, I began the day here:
Yes, you may have guesses it, I was at JetBlue Park. JetBlue is the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox. Last year I attended two games here, but I wasn’t impressed with the stadium. It is a beautiful ballpark, but the atmosphere is more like an MLB stadium than a spring training stadium. Although I don’t particularly like JetBlue Park, I love the practice fields that are in the facility. I arrived bright and early at 7:00 o’clock and spent the next two hours waiting here:
As players finished up in the batting cages they walked through the gates that were in the previous picture. From there they would head to the practice fields. This is a great place to get autographs because the players have to walk past to get to the practice fields.
The first player to sign for me was Trey Ball. He was drafted by the Red Sox in the 7th round of the 2013 draft. He has a nice signature:
Next, I pulled out another baseball for Rafael Devers to sign:
Last year I realized that each year I will start to see more players who are close to my age. Devers is the youngest player to sign an autograph for me. Devers is only 18 years old, yet he is the 5th best prospect in the Red Sox organization.
I’m not sure who signed my next autograph, but I like how it looks:
The player’s jersey said “Febles #12”, but i’m not sure what his first name is. Next, Michael Chavis signed the same ball:
Chavis, 19 years old, is another really young player. Next, number 63 signed the ball:
#63’s signature is pretty legible, but I cannot make out exactly what it says. At this point I’m not sure who it is, but if anyone knows, please let me know.
Javier Guarra, another 19 year old, also signed the ball:
Mike McCarthy signed next:
Next was Kevin McAvoy. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 draft. Here’s that one:
Whitson was the next player to sign for me. I checked online to find his first name, but Karsten Whitson was the only name that came up. This wasn’t Karsten Whitson, so i’m still not sure who this is:
Ty Buttrey also signed for me:
Javier Rodriguez was the final player to sign for me:
When the practice fields opened at 9 o’clock, I headed this way:
After stretching and doing infield warm ups for more than an hour and a half, batting practice began. I positioned myself between two practice fields because it was a great spot to snag baseballs. Take a look:
My first ball was one that landed in a bullpen. The gate was open, so I walked in to retrieve it:
After a few minutes one of the players tossed me this:
My third ball was a foul ball that was sliced over the fence:
Moments later there was a ground ball that was hit down the right field line. I was able to field it myself:
Only a few minutes later I had retrieved yet another ball that was fouled off:
When practice ended around noon I made my way over to Hammond Stadium:
Once again, the gates were open and fans were allowed to walk around the stadium. I found a nice place to sit in the shade on the third base side:
I stayed there for a little more than an hour. At one point I even feel asleep for about 20 minutes. Around 2:30 I got up to move to a seat that was near the Twins dugout. After sitting down I found this under the seat:
Awesome! Do you know what was NOT awesome? As soon as I took that picture an employee walked down the steps and said, “You’re not supposed to be in here. How did you get in the Stadium?” I told him that the gates were open so I walked in the front door. There were even employees who told me to take a look around the stadium. I could tell that he thought I was lying. He hesitated and then followed by saying, “Well you’re not supposed to be in here.” I told him that just like the other fans who were walking around the stadium, I had been inside since noon and that he was the first employee who had said such a thing. He said, “The gates don’t open until 3 hours before the game starts so you shouldn’t be in here.” This guy thought I was making all of this up! I don’t know what his deal was, but he escorted me out of the stadium. What a load of garbage!
After waiting an hour and a half outside the stadium, I was finally able to re-enter when the gates opened. I quickly got my first MLB ball of the day when Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey finished playing catch:
When batting practice started I headed to the left field grass but since the first group was filled with mostly lefties, I moved to the seats in right field. There I snagged a home run that was hit by a Twins player who I didn’t recognize. It was a nice clean Manfred ball:
When Eddie Rosario stepped into the cage he began to hit some deep fly balls to right field. All of a sudden he sent a shot to deep right center field. I tracked the ball well, but at the last moment lost it in the sun. I was able to get out of the way, but the ball bounced back onto the field. Luckily, Danny Ortiz was nice enough to toss it up to me:
When Rosario stepped back into the cage again, he sent another my way. This time I was able to snag it myself:
Kennys Vargas was also in the same group as Rosario. Vargas started leftie but each time he stepped into the cage he would switch to a different side of the plate. It didn’t matter which side he hit from because he would crush the ball either way. When he was batting leftie I was able to snag one of the only homers that he hit that stayed in the park:
When the next group started to take their cuts I decided it was time to move back to left field. Shane Robinson had hit a couple homers in bp yesterday so I knew where to position myself for him today. Sure enough, he hit one in my direction:
As soon as I made the grab I saw a little girl so I decided to give it to her. A big smile came across her (and her parents’) face! The Twins’ portion of batting practice ended shortly after that. The Red Sox did not take batting practice because they had taken it at JetBlue Park before driving over to Hammond. I was a bit bummed because I was having a really good day ballhawking!
Since bp ended around 5 o’clock I had to wait around for nearly an hour and a half for anything to happen on the field. Finally the Twins and Red Sox started to warm up on the field. I spotted Pedroia in the dugout:
While the Red Sox practiced on the infield there were a few people from Sun Harvest who threw foam oranges into the crowd. I flashed my glove and they threw one to me. When the Red Sox finished their pregame infield warmups the ball was thrown to Manager John Farrell. When I asked him for the ball he tossed it up without hesitation:
This was only the second Selig ball that I had gotten so far. Otherwise, the rest were all the new Manfred balls. By the time the game was about to start, the sun had almost completely gone down. This was the scene immediately following the National Anthem:
Joe Kelly got the start for Boston while Kyle Gibson threw the first pitch to start he game for Minnesota. The Twins started out strong and were able to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Torii Hunter singled in his first plate appearance at Hammond Stadium for 8 years and was able to pick up an RBI in the process.
By the end of the third inning the Twins were winning 6-4. I decided it would be a good time to leave because I would be leaving on a high note. I had a great day ballhawking, I saw my favorite childhood sports star make his first appearance back on my favorite team, and my team was winning. It was a good time to leave. As I was making my way out of the stadium, the Red Sox managed to load the bases. At the exact moment that I left, Dusten Pedroia hit a grand slam that gave the Red Sox an 8-6 lead. Wow, my timing was great 🙂
I was sure to get a good picture of the stadium when I left:
(Six balls were pictured because I gave one away.)
Later in the game the Twins came back and won the game 9-8. Molitor’s squad was now 2-0 in their first two games.
Here’s the group picture from the day (Six MLB balls are pictured because I gave one away):
Todays Totals: 7 MLB balls (6 Manfred, 1 Selig), 5 Minor League balls, 1 foam ball, and 12 autographs (11 pictured).
Spring Training Totals: 17 MLB balls (15 Manfred, 2 Selig), 5 Minor League balls, 1 Perfect game ball, 1 Whiffle ball, 1 foam ball, and 12 autographs.
UP NEXT: Twins vs. Rays, Friday, March 6th
Some of you might be surprised that i’m in Florida for Spring Training. For others, especially if you follow me on Twitter, it is no surprise because I’ve been talking about this for a few weeks now. Anyways, I arrived on Tuesday afternoon and this was the first game I’ve been to so far this year. The earliest I arrived to a spring training ballpark last year was 8:00 a.m., but this year I arrived at Hammond Stadium at 7:00 a.m.. I got there the extra hour early because I wanted to catch the sun rise as I drove to the ballpark. The recently renovated stadium looked stunning as I drove into the parking lot:
I wasn’t sure when the players would begin to practice but I figured I might as well maximize my time in the warm weather. I soaked in the sun until the first group of players finally entered the practice fields at 9 o’clock. I could see them from a distance so I made my way to the fields.
At 9 o’clock all of the minor league players reported to the field closest to the twins baseball academy:
As far as I know, the only notable players in that extremely large group were Nick Gordon, Kohl Stewart, James Beresford and Max Kepler. After wandering around for a few minutes I found my first ball of 2015! With Selig out and Manfred in as commissioner that meant that the signature on the baseball changed this year. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but most ballhawks have been pretty excited to see the new baseballs. This wasn’t a Manfred ball, this was a Selig that was left over from last year:
Regardless of the name on the front, it was still a beautiful baseball!
Part of the 2-year renovation plan included a baseball academy and dormitory for the minor league players of the Twins. The buildings weren’t finished when I visited last year, but since then they have been completed and opened:
A bit closer to noon I spotted Mr. Terry Ryan, the Twins GM walking into the practice fields.
I only said a quick hello because I didn’t want to disturb him while he was working. Later on, though, he approached me and said that a lady had told him that I knew everything there was to know about the Twins. She was obviously stretching the truth a bit, but Mr. Ryan was still amused. We ended up only chatting about baseball for a few minutes, but then we continued for a longer time as our conversation shifted towards other topics that weren’t even related to baseball. He’s a fun guy to talk with!
Right before leaving the complex to run to Publix, I found my second ball of the day. This time, though, the ball was from Tom Kelly Field:
The ball had been wedged between the concrete, dirt and flowers. Aside from the odor and filth, there was still something different about this ball. I’m not sure when or by whom it was used, but the ball was a “Rawlings Perfect Game” ball. For the record (and for those ballhawks who are wondering), I did not count this in my MLB total.
After gaining early entrance into an empty stadium, I explored where most people do not. As I was hoping to find my second MLB ball of the day, I stumbled upon this whiffle ball:
I was considering taking it with me, but it was filled with a gross looking mixture of dirt, bugs and condensation. It was better to leave it where it was! I was finally able to snag another MLB ball from the boardwalk down the left field foul line. I had quite the view from there:
The ball was courtesy of Aaron Thompson. He threw it to me when he and Alex Meyer had finished playing catch.
Although the change in signatures is a very subtle change, I do like how it looks. Although small in detail, it still brings about something new to the most important element in the game.
It wasn’t too long until I was in possession of another ball. This time from Ricky Nolasco:
Ball number 5 came from the air. It was a homerun that i’m pretty sure Eddie Rosario hit:
Up to this point I had been in the grass berm in left field. For almost all of batting practice there were only two other guys and myself in the whole grass section. There was absolutely no competition! My success continued.
My next two baseballs (numbers 6 and 7) were both home runs that I caught on the fly. Coincidentally, they were also hit by the same player – #21 Shane Robinson. Here’s number 6:
And here’s number 7:
The Twins left the field around 5:15 and soon the Minnesota Golden Gophers hustled out to take their turn on the field. I was surprised to see that the Gophers had a few players who could crush the ball. Their portion of batting practice wasn’t great, but I was still able to snag a home run. The ball was brand new, an obvious keeper, but as soon as a little girl asked for it I felt obligated to give it away!
Sophomore Troy Traxler, a catcher and outfielder for the Gophers, hooked me up with my 9th ball of the day:
Batting Practice ended shortly after that, but I was able to get another toss up before the game started. When the Twins finished their pregame infield warm ups, catcher Eric Fryer tossed me my 10th ball of the day:
When the game started I sat in my ticketed seat. This was the first game in a long while where I sat in my ticketed seat for the whole time! Who could blame me, though, with a view like this?:
Although the Gophers were the first to score, he Twins ended up beating them 3-1. The big names in the Twins Lineup were Buxton (he went 2-3), Vargas (1-3) and Sano (1-1). Jose Berrios got the start for the Twins and was able to pick up the win after pitching 2 innings of scoreless baseball. One other thing worth mentioning is that this was Paul Molitor’s Managerial Debut! His first “W” (although it won’t officially be recorded) came against his old college team!
There’s no highlight/recap video for this game, but I did find this special video that the UofM made after the completion of the game:
I’m in the video multiple times. Whenever the left field grass is shown, i’m in the frame. In one of the shots it showed me chasing down a home run ball. Just look for the guy in the blue shirt!
Here’s the final haul (Nine MLB balls are pictured because I gave one away):
Spring Training Totals: 1 MLB Selig Ball, 9 MLB Manfred Balls, 1 Perfect game ball, and 1 whiffle ball.
UP NEXT: Red Sox vs. Twins, Thursday, March 5th.