Tagged: Torii Hunter

Mariners vs. Twins @ Target Field (07-30-15)

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.

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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:

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I’m not sure who hit that homer, nor who hit this next one that I caught in section 137:

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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:

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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:

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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:

info

Here’s the group shot:

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TOTALS: 4 balls at this game. 30 balls this year.

UP NEXT: Astros vs. Twins 08/28/15

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White Sox vs. Twins @ Target Field (06-22-15)

Most of the Target Field crew had planned to be in attendance. Tony and Nate were the first I saw:

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Mateo showed up a few minutes prior to the gates opening, but he wasn’t alone. Josh Hyber, a reporter from the Star Tribune, accompanied Mateo to the game. He was gathering information for a future article that would feature the ballhawks of Target Field.  Here’s a link to the article that he posted on July 30th.

Once the gates opened I was given a good reason to thank Brian Duensing:

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After moving around for the Twins portion of batting practice I also had an opportunity to thank Eddie Rosario for what he bestowed upon me:

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These two baseballs were nice, but the real treat was snagging one of Kenny Vargas’ batting practice home runs. It was a beauty:
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I snagged those three balls within the first 13 minutes, and then that was it. I didn’t catch anymore baseballs at the game, but I was able to get Byron Buxton’s signature before the game started!

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Not too long afterwards I found out that Byron had just started using a new signature because he was called up to the Big Leagues. This was one of the first autographs that he signed this way. It’s sort of neat that I got one of the first new signatures!

The Twins took a 0-1 lead in the first inning, but the White Sox battled back and took a 1-2 lead in the third inning. The Twins were able to hold the White Sox to those two runs for the remainder of the game. Mauer homered in the 4th, and then Suzuki and Vargas also picked up an RBI of their own later in the same inning. Nunez put the cherry on top when he also homered later in the fourth. Vargas joined the HR parade when he hit a three run shot in the 6th inning. Hunter picked up a pair of RBI’s when he doubled in the 6th. In the 8th inning Brian Dozier became the fourth Twin to homer in the game. The Twins won 2-13. Tommy Milone picked up the Win for the Twins while John Danks was stuck with the loss. You can click here to watch the highlights video from the game. Here’s the info from the game:

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…I undoubtedly will also share the usual entry ending group shot:

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TOTALS: 3 balls at this game. 26 balls this year.

UP NEXT: Mariners vs. Twins 07/30/15

Red Sox vs. Twins @ Target Field (05-27-15)

Unlike the day before, I woke up to wonderful weather. However, with the 12:10 start time it was still unlikely that there would be batting practice.  When the gates opened I found that the cage was not set up for bp:

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I made my way down to where most of the Red Sox’ pitching staff was warming up. When he was finished throwing with his partner, Steven Wright hooked me up with their baseball. I was surprised to see that it was rubbed up with mud:
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Prior to the game, Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer signed autographs from the dugout:

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I was finally able to add Joe Mauer’s signature to my collection!

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Thank you, Mr. Minnesota. Since I didn’t have a ballpoint pen I could either get his auto in Sharpie or not get it at all. I think I chose the better of the two.

Boston was the first team to score a run when Dustin Pedroia blasted a two run shot in the third. Hunter and Mauer each contributed to the handful of singles that gave the Twins’ a three run third. Aaron Hicks homered in the fourth to extend the lead to 5-2. In the fifth inning Pedroia hit his second two run shot of game. Rosario joined the home run parade in the 6th inning when he launched a solo bomb to right field. The Twins won 6-4. Click here to watch the highlight video from the game.

Following the game I was able to get an Ump ball from Umpire Dale Scott:

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Here’s today’s results:

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TOTALS: 2 balls at this game. 23 balls this year.

UP NEXT: White Sox vs. Twins 06/22/15

Red Sox vs. Twins @ Target Field (05-26-15)

My day started off with every ballhawk’s worst nightmare… I forgot my glove at home! Luckily, Mateo Fischer was generous enough to lend me his for the evening. After swinging by the U of M campus to pick up Mateo’s glove, I was ready for some batting practice!

Unfortunately, the weather had other plans:
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The rain didn’t stop me from getting my first ball of the day, from Nate Dammann, just a few minutes after entering the stadium:
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Around 5:15 Kyle Gibson and Nate came back out to the bullpen for another session. Afterwards, Nate hooked me up once again:
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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:

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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:

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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:
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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:
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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:

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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:

game info

When the game ended I got my last ball of the evening from Umpire Lance Barrett.

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Here’ the final group shot from afterwards (5 balls pictured because I gave 1 away):
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TOTALS: 6 balls at this game. 21 balls this year.

UP NEXT: Red Sox vs. Twins 05/27/15

Athletics vs. Twins @ Target Field (05-04-15)

I wouldn’t have gone to this game had it not been for the Twins’ fantastic game day promotion:

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As part of Star Wars night at Target Field the Twins gave away these special “Hughes The Force” bobble heads with the purchase of a special ticket. A few days prior I had noticed that all the special tickets were sold out on the Twins website. I called the box office and they said they’d have some available on the day of the game. When I got up to Target Field on the fourth I bought my ticket, then I hopped in line with Tony Voda to get my bobble head. When it was my turn to get my bobblehead I was told that my ticket wasn’t part of the promotion. I explained that the folks in the box office had assured me this was the correct ticket, but I was not given a bobble head. Way to go Twins… I still have to call a season ticket rep to get this cleared up.

On to batting practice…

My first ball of the day came early during the A’s portion of batting practice. It was a home run that was hit by an unknown A’s player:

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After getting on the board early in batting practice I didn’t get my next ball until batting practice was nearly finished. This time it was a toss up from another unknown A’s player:

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Could it have been the same unknown player as before? Who knows. Darn A’s, playing mind tricks again.

After batting practice, Target Field was taken over by the Evil Empire:

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For some reason, I don’t think the Storm Troopers liked me very much:

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Just before the game started Dominique tossed one to me straight from the ball bag:

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I’ve never once asked Dominique for a ball, but he always hooks me up after we chat. What a guy!

When the game started I moved to my regular spot:

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I started to watch the game from this spot at the end of last season. Since then I have grown very accustom to it. The view is fantastic. Plus, early in the game its a good spot for foul balls.

Although the first inning was a disaster for the Twins, I was happy because I witnessed something that I hadn’t before. After the A’s loaded the bases, Stephen Vogt stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam! Luckily, the Twins used the force to score four runs of their own in the second inning. After the Twins gave up a run in the top of the 6th, my childhood sports hero, Torii Hunter, hit a 3 run homer to left field to give the Twins an 8-5 lead. The A’s ended up scoring two more runs in the later part of the game, but Glen Perkins was still able to come away with his ninth save of the season. Click to watch the highlight video from the game. Here’s the info from the game:

game info

Phil Hughes (Hughes The Force) earned the W for Minnesota while Jesse Hahn (Han Solo) was stuck with the Loss for Oakland.  Coincidence that both Hughes and Hahn pitched on Star Wars Night? I think not.

Here’s the group shot after the game:

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TOTALS: 3 balls at this game. 9 balls this year.

UP NEXT: A’s vs. Twins 05/05/15

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:

game info

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

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