2012: Could it be the “big one?”

Happy Easter to all.

Okay now with that out of the way, I’m happy to announce that my ballhawking season opener may be on Tuesday. Which is not far from today. If not Tuesday, then Friday, but anyways, I need to make some plans and goals. By the end of last year, here’s how my goals ended up:

MLB GAMES:
 (Not Achieved) August 27: Phillies (HOME) vs Marlins?
 (Not Achieved) I’m hoping to go to Camden maybe as well.
MINOR LEAGUE:
(Achieved) Red Wings as much as possible
(Achieved) Buffalo
(Not Achieved) Syracuse (Maybe)
(Not Achieved) Other NY AA/AAA teams
OVERALL GOALS:
(Achieved) 1 ball every game
(Achieved) 2 game balls in one game (3rd outs, fouls, home runs)
(Achieved) 3 foul balls (in the entire season)
(Achieved) 4 balls in one game
(Achieved) 5 Autographs
(Achieved) 6 or more games!!
 
Clearly it was tough for me to get to major league games. I’m going to set a goal to see at least two MLB stadiums this year (I don’t really care which), but this may be even tougher this year, seeing as I’ll be gone to Germany for three weeks in August. I’ll have to act fast. Same thing for AAA stadiums. Scranton is out of the question due to the fact that they are playing 37 home games in Rochester (!!!), and Buffalo is just a bad stadium. I’ll see how the summer rolls out.
 
Anyways, my actual snagging goals went quite well. In fact, they went so well I’m going to keep all the same goals, change some number values UP and add a few more. Here’s the official list of Jon Madden’s 2012 ballhawking goals:
 
-At least 1 ball every game
-2 game balls in one game (3rd outs, fouls, home runs)
-4 foul balls (in the entire season)
-5 balls in one game
-7 or more games (in roughly a month and a half)
-1 game home run (i came quite close to a few game homers last year)
-Go to 2 different Major League Stadiums
-1 Minor league stadium outside of Rochester.
 
As seen in my previous entry with all the crazy stats, I pointed out that it was in fact possible for me to reach 75 balls by the end of this season. That’s 21 balls in one season, divided by two balls per game is about 10 games. I’m hoping I can get to 10. With the new addition of the Germany trip, I’m liable to be able to get to any game I want to and can attend. I think 75 total could be a very possible feat this year. Now my balls-per-game average is 1.93. I made so many mistakes last year it’s not even funny, so I’m hoping to maintain a two BPG average- but my goal is 1 every game. Two is fairly easy for one game, so if I get more than two in a few games, it’s possible to reach 80. So 80 is the amount I will hopefully be up to by the end of this year.
 
Good luck to anyone and everyone who goes ballhawking this year.
 
Happy snagging,
 
Jon Madden

Recap of 2011

Yo.

So the 2011 season comes to an end for ballhawking (there’s no chance for me to go to any postseason games), but 2012 looks VERY promising. And I can prove it:

Let’s start with what my goals that I set for myself in this blog in April 2011. Here’s the list:

FIRST GAME:
4/9/11: Rochester Red WIngs (HOME) vs Scranton Willkes-Barre
Goal: Get at least one ball.
MLB GAMES:
-August 27: Phillies (HOME) vs Marlins?
I’m hoping to go to Camden maybe as well.
MINOR LEAGUE:
-Red Wings as much as possible
-Buffalo
-Syracuse (Maybe)
-Other NY AA/AAA teams
OVERALL GOALS:
-1 ball every game
-2 game balls in one game (3rd outs, fouls, home runs)
-3 foul balls (in the entire season)
-4 balls in one game
-5 Autographs
-6 or more games!!
Now let’s see which goals I actually achieved:
(Achieved) 4/9/11: Rochester Red WIngs (HOME) vs Scranton Willkes-Barre
Goal: Get at least one ball.
MLB GAMES:
 (Not Achieved) August 27: Phillies (HOME) vs Marlins?
 (Not Achieved) I’m hoping to go to Camden maybe as well.
MINOR LEAGUE:
(Achieved) Red Wings as much as possible
(Achieved) Buffalo
(Not Achieved) Syracuse (Maybe)
(Not Achieved) Other NY AA/AAA teams
OVERALL GOALS:
(Achieved) 1 ball every game
(Achieved*) 2 game balls in one game (3rd outs, fouls, home runs)
(Achieved**) 3 foul balls (in the entire season)
(Achieved) 4 balls in one game
(Achieved) 5 Autographs
(Achieved) 6 or more games!!
*Thanks to the way I score a “game ball.” If I snag it during the game, it’s a game ball, if it’s used during the game, it’s a “game used” ball
**One in Toronto, Daniel Nava, and this depressing (but lucky) game in Buffalo.
So all my ball-snagging goals were reached, and only two of my game-attending goals. I think that’s pretty good. Now look at some charts (for minor leagues right now):
Games:
So from here, you can see that I only went to 2 games in 2009, 9 games in 2010, and 13 (MLB+MiLB) games in 2011. With this pattern (and trying now to schedule my summer), I’m hoping to get to at least 15-20 games. That’s easily, at the minimum, 30 balls which would make my lifetime total as of 1 year from now 84+ balls. Wowzers.
But the stats keep getting crazier.
I’ve got a 28-game streak of at least one ball per-game (which is every game I’ve gone to in which I’ve try to snag baseballs). With that in mind, 54 baseballs in 28 games (MLB+MiLB) is 1.93 BPG (balls per game). Let’s see so if I want  to raise my BPG to 2.00 next year in 15 games, that would be…15+28 games is 43… 43 times two is 86, 86-54 is 32. So I need to snag 32 games in 15 games which is just over two balls per game for an average.
Is it possible to do that? OH YEAH!
Let’s go back to this entry where I talked about my newer goals for 2011 (which included hitting 50 career baseballs-achieved). In this entry, I talked about the percentage of games in which I have snagged more than one and only one baseball(s). As of after the depressing Coca-Cola Field game, I had 62.5% of games I attended, I snagged two or more balls. That meant 37.5% of games I attended I snagged ONLY one game (8 games, three with only one). As of the end of 2011, I have gone to 13 total games, and 10 out of those 13 games were “slugging percentage-worthy” (snagging more than 1 ball) which means that 77% of total games I went to in 2011, I snagged more than one ball. Nice.
If you think about it, the games I only acquired  one ball were in weird/impossible situations that I wasn’t used to. Here’s my excuses:
4/9/11: It was Opening Day at Frontier Field. It was crazy. There was 8,600 people there (which was the first time I had experienced any attendance making Frontier Field over 6,000 people full)
And the game in Buffalo, thank you dad. Enough said. And seeing as i have had this post waiting to be published for months, I’m gonna end it hear.
But goals for 2012 are coming soon!
-Jon Madden

Rogers Centre (9/5/11)

Somehow, I knew this would be a good weekend when my dad and I walked into our hotel room and saw this:

Yeah. A suite (!) for two people for one night. Wowzers. Here’s another shot:

This was the view out the window:

We were in the hotel room (which was connected to the stadium) for about twenty minutes and then headed out for a tour of Rogers Centre. We had a very good tour guide who showed us this giant bat. It has all the names of the Jays who were part of the ’92/’93 World Series teams:

We also saw some turf and dirt from the older Skydome and the newer Rogers Centre (that I stood on. Ohhhh):

We then walked into an exclusive 200 Level seating area. This section was somehow fancy. I can’t remember how, though.

This was a (cheezy) panorama taken from those seats. It’s not great, but there are more panoramas later. Too bad these seats are exclusive. They’re foul ball heaven. I took a fancy-ish photo of the seats below:

From this section, I could see the workers:

And the machines that are used to lay the AstroTurf (like the logo above?)

In the picture above you can see the concrete that’s below the turf. Here’s the Red Sox bullpen before it’s got the walls around it:

The next stop on the tour was to the field level. Scroll up four pictures. See the area to the right of the dugout? That’s where we were when I got this photo:

And a picture of the Red Sox dugout was necessary:

I also got a better picture of those red seats above:

Those stools are simply where the TV camera operators sit.

I took this time to take some artsy-smartsy photos:

When we went up to the reporter’s room, I made another panorama:

Want to see something that’s not really that special but still cool to see for no reason whatsoever? This is where the reporters eat their $30 buffet:

Here are the ground rules for Rogers Centre:

Then we went up a floor to the TV broadcaster’s booth. The view was pretty much the same as the regular reporters:

There are some more pictures from the tour (like this one that says not to touch the camera that follows the path of the pitch)…

…but I don’t feel like uploading them all. Let’s get to the game. First I’m going to let you see this:

Yes. It was 10:21, we were at gate 11, and Obama is my screensaver for my iPod. And you can see my reflection in the lower left hand corner.

While we waited, we chatted with the guy behind us in line. He seemed like a regular, and he seemed much like the guy we talked to on this game.

Oh and it was about 60 degrees. And I got a Diet Coke (which tastes great in cold weather for some reason).

And before I got into the stadium, I ran my plan a bunch of times- and I’ll say what happened right now so I get get some of the misery over with. Actions are in ( )

1. Search for balls in the seats in the lower deck. (Batting practice was underway, and the roof was open. No balls in the seats):

2. Go to the upper deck and search for balls. (Once again, nothing):

3. Stay in left field for the Blue Jays remaining 10 minutes of batting practice. (I should have stayed in the upper deck. Nothing was hit there except for some homers hit right next to the foul pole, but at least 90% of the toss-ups were up there. Seriously. The Blue Jays weren’t hitting to save their lives.) Here’s the seats getting crowded closer to the foul pole. I kind of had to stay in left-center. Less people, less competition. I was also the only person you could here calling the players. Nothing.

4. Go to right field/upper deck for Red Sox bp. WAIT! There was no Red Sox BP. The Jays took about 20 minutes more, too. Why was there no Red Sox BP? I have no idea. They had all of four hits the night before. Wow. Look- this is saddening:

Luckily, some players started coming out. There were some pitchers:

(Love the pose of the guy looking up). This section was insanely crowded, but I felt lucky. I stayed a few rows back from the first row to make it look like I was one of the poor people who couldn’t get to the front. It didn’t pay off. The only real toss-up was 5 feet to my left, and there were some people in my way so I decided not to barrel them over. The other ball that went into the crowd was where I would have been standing if I was in the front row- a passed ball from Jonathan Papelbon. Arg.

A ball got by Papelpon later and rolled onto the warning track. I moved over to left-center (or centre here in Canada) and positioned myself right above it:

I stayed there for about 20 minutes. I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to get the ball. A grounds crew person ended up coming over and I asked him if there was any chance I could get that ball. There was a group of kids about a year or two older than my to my left, and the guy tossed it up between us. My glove and the kids touched, but he got the ball. Screw. This. Stadium (Those were the first words out of my mouth after I didn’t get it). I’m still (to put it nicely) ticked off about it today. (A week and a day after the game).

I ran over to the right field line where some Red Sox players where playing catch:

It was great to see Dustin Pedroia finally live. In the two other games I’ve seen the Red Sox in, I’ve never seen good ole’ Peedy. I ended up getting shot down by Big Papi David Ortiz and a ball from Nate Spears (sigh of relief on three everybody…1,2,3.) That was good. While I was down there, I completely botched the anthems. I forgot we were in Canada and so I put my hat back on after the American National Anthem. And because I love Canada so much, I have no idea why I forgot that O Canada was also to be sung. Anyways, here’s our actual seats:

Not too shabby, right? Well, after two innings and a more than a foot-long hot dog, I moved. See the second to last section down the left field line in the photo above? That’s where I moved. To here:

I decided I’d have the most chance of getting a ball here. Nice spot for a third out ball from Carl Crawford (which never happened):

And a nice spot to catch a foul ball. Was moving the right decision? Well, let me tell you- getting down to this section was a bit tricky. I sneaked passed an older, and stricter, security guard to get down to the seats I wanted. That older security guard was asking for people’s tickets. The section I wanted was guarded by a much younger guy who looked very loose. During the bottom of the third, I moved into the last row. After that half inning, I moved a couple more rows down to the seats i wanted. [in the picture]. I had room to run on both side of me.

Then it happened. Marco Scutaro was up in the top of the 5th and ripped a line drive down the third base side. The ball landed a row and about 8 seats to my right. Luckily, it wedged perfectly in the seat and I was able to grab onto it. Someone else also grabbed onto it, but I was clearly there first. All I said was “It’s mine. It’s mine. It’s mine. I had it first.” Then the guy (who looked about 30) let go and I could tell that he didn’t like being beat by a 13 year old. But he was cool with it too. YAY!!!!!

Claim to fame for me: I got featured on MyGameBalls.com for this. Please read it. I will love you forever (and if you’re reading this from MyGameBalls.com, I love you even more.

Here’s the ball. There’s a nice blue streak from when it hit the chair:

In this picture, you can see the isle I had to run through to get the ball (which was one row behind mine):

See the fan in the orange shirt? He was pretty much where the ball landed. That group of people sat down there two batters after the foul ball. (In case you’re wondering, I’ve snagged one other foul ball on my own- this game.)

And to make a sad story short, I didn’t get a ball from the home plate umpire. I did get a picture of Dustin Pedroia’s headshot, though:

I also scored this game. This was my first game scoring, and it had to go 11 and a half innings with NO SCORE!! Then finally in the bottom of the 11th, Brett Lawrie hit a walk-off homer to left-centre.

As you can see, I scored EVERY INNING except the bottom of the second. I was getting my humungo hot dog. Good times in Toronto.

And on a side note, I am never seeing the Red Sox play again. It took my dad and I an hour and fifteen minutes just to get outside the city and onto the highway. Crazyness.

Goodbye ballhawking for 2011. I loved you. It was a great year, and I’ll see you in 2012.

Jon Madden: Ballhawk.

THERE WILL BE A GIANT STATS SECTION COMING IN ABOUT A WEEK.

 

Frontier Field (9/2/11)

This was a very sad day. It was my last Red Wings game of the 2011 season. It went by so fast. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a fun last game!!

I really didn’t know what to expect attendance-wise for this game. It was either going to be semi-empty or pretty full up. I was very happy, though when I went down to get ready for pre-game throwing (30 minutes before game time) when the stadium looked like this:

Seriously. Wow. Another thing I found amusing while waiting for the Red Wings to come out of the dugout:

In case you hadn’t found it, the left-centre Jumo(ish)-Tron reads “Only 1 Home Games Left.” The Red Wings have been starting that countdown for a while, and that really proves that persons really need too got back two schools to brushes up on they’re grammar. Hehe.

Moving on…

While the players were throwing, some kids came down the steps behind me with gloves. They were obviously younger than me. Oh no… not this again. I’ve had too many instances this season where there are other kids trying to get balls when/where I am. This never happened to me before. BUT I did get a ball from Jeff Bailey. I hated to do this, but I had to. It was my 50th career ball (I’ve decided to get every 50th ball signed by the player who got the ball into my sweaty little hands)- the kids were talking about getting a ball from Bailey. It was kind of the only ball in use at that moment. So I had to say (while he was about done throwing) “Hey Jeff! Any chance that when you’re done I could have that ball?” He turned around, looked at the ball, and threw it to me. The one kid was like “Man! You are so lucky!” I told them “I do this all the time. All you have to do is ask them by their first name and say it loud enough so they can hear it” (Their voices were not nearly loud enough).

There was still a decent chunk of time left before the game was going to start, and there were some players still over in left field warming up. I decided that there was no I way that I was not going to get another ball during pre game warmups.

So I went down the steps and into the front. I had to squeeze by a smaller kid (7-8 years old) and I felt, again, a little bit guilty doing it- but it was my last game at Frontier Field for 2011. I was going all out. I had to ask his name at least 5 times (“Hey MATT!”) and on the 6th try (“Matt Antonelli!”) I got his attention. I asked him for the ball, and he kept looking back and forth. I seriously have no idea why. He was looking at me and the infield, but ended up giving the ball to me.

When I got that ball, there were STILL Red Wings players out. I went down to try to talk to Toby Gardenhire who was signing autographs. I asked him if there was any chance he could get me a ball. He said he didn’t know where to get one, and I was about to ask him about after the game if he could hook me up, but someone else stared talking to him. Ohh well. Thanks for the many balls you threw me this season.

As for the game, here were our seats:

Some people would say that these were good foul ball seats, but I beg to differ. I you draw a straight line from the right fielder through home plate and keep going, those sections are the right ones for a foul ball. Our seats were a little too low and a bit to much to the right, but not enough to the left. Basically, we were in a hole where foul balls don’t tend to land.

I ended up going to the Chief’s bullpen because I hadn’t been there for so long. I saw this:

Dirty balls. And this:

Another dirty-ish ball. But I also saw these…

…which I knew I had less of a chance to acquire, but still it was nice to know they were there. Why am I showing you ALL of these balls? Because I didn’t get any of them. I asked one of the players for one- well, I kind of did- here’s how the “conversation” went:

“Excuse me- is there any chance-”
“Nope.”

Yeahhhh. That kind of ticked me off. I hate players like that. About an inning after that, I moved- but here’s the view from the bullpen:

Perfect for BP, right?

So I went on a hunt for third out balls and foul balls. I stood here for righties (sometimes it was a little bit farther up):

(Sorry for the blurriness) And here for lefties:

(See what I meant about drawing a line from the right fielder to home to the seats?)
I came close to one, but I was slow getting started. My dad told me that I got to where it landed in a flash, though, so I still have no idea how I didn’t get it. OH WELL…

I went back to the bullpen. And when I left it, I got this:

 Funny. It wasn’t a ball, but it was a ball. Here’s how it happened:

I asked Jeff Frazier if there was any chance I could have one of the dirty balls (which were still there) he said “Sorry we can’t give ‘em out during the game.” Then some kids came around and started pestering him for one. He ended reaching into the bag and throwing them that squishy ball. The kid was like “Oh come on! Next time give me a hard ball!” Then I said, “I’ll take it if you don’t want it” and the kid gave it to me.  Weird.

There was some rain that drove away a ton of people- but the paid attendance was 10,331 and I still had no luck with foul/third out balls. I also got a ball from the home plate umpire.

Good bye Frontier Field until next year. I LOVE YOU!!

PS- My final game of 2011 will be in Toronto on Monday- Boston vs Jays.

STATS:

TOTALS:

-Total balls at this game: 3

-Total lifetime balls (MLB and MiLB): 52

-Total 2011 balls (MLB and MiLB): 29

STREAKS:

(active/record)

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MiLB and MLB): 27/27

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MiLB): 22/22

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MLB): 5/5

-Consecutive games with at least two balls: 4/4

AVERAGES:

-Lifetime balls per game (MiLB): 1.88?

-Lifetime balls per game (MLB): 1.40

-Season balls per game (MiLB): 2.40?

-Season balls per game (MLB): 2.00

Here’s how I labeled my “ball”

And here’s my 50th career ball:

Frontier Field (8/18/11)

I didn’t feel “in the zone” for this game for some reason. And it showed. And this entry won’t be very long. Because this day was kind of sad.

This game was a 7:05 game on a Thursday with the home team having one of the worst records in Minor League Baseball. Small attendance, right? Wrong. Jose Canseco was there to sign autographs. Which meant 10,000 people were going to be there. And there were. Also, I knew this wasn’t going to be a good day when I saw balloons in the stands:

Anyways, pregame was a disaster. Let’s just say I didn’t get any balls- but I did get three autographs (Ray Chang, Brandon Roberts, Chase Lambin) and a picture of the guys warming up:

Once again, I didn’t get any balls. There was a ball sitting on the grass when Toby Gardenhire walked over to it. There were some kids in the right field grass who asked for it at the same time I did. He gave it to them and while he was walking back, I jokingly told him that this was the first time he hasn’t thrown me a ball. He just smiled and shrugged. Then I went over to the third base side and tried for balls there. Nothing.

During the first 5 innings, I came close to absolutely nothing. So what was I doing while I was getting nothing? Sitting here:

And here:

While I was over here, I came close to two balls that were foul ball toss-ups that were literally three inches to far up and to the left a little. Ugh.

Then the 6th inning came around.

All night I had been trying to get third out balls at the dugouts, and I came close to one from Jeff Bailey. If the darn kid didn’t step ONTO the dugout, I would have gotten it. (And you didn’t notice anything, security? Niceeee job.) But in the bottom of the 6th, I was standing in position to race down to the correct spot at the dugout depending on the type of play to end the inning. It was a strike out and I was the only person down there to even come close to the catcher tossing anyone a ball. So he had no choice but to throw it to me. Ahhhh (sigh of relief everybody).

I came close on two foul balls, and I kept going for third out balls. I was going to get a strikeout ball here…

…but the third out was a fly ball to right and was tossed into the grass berm.

Then I got a ball from the home plate umpire, and this is what it looks like before I get an umpire ball:

End of (sad) story. OH but I did get Jose Canseco’s (beautiful and legible) autograph. I got his autograph during the game because before the game the lines were CRAZY!

Pictures of Canseco and the autograph at the end of the stats. Oh- and my next game will be either in Washington and if not that, then Philly. I’ll also be going to a Red Sox/Blue Jays game in Toronto on the 5th of September.

TOTALS:

-Total balls at this game: 2

-Total lifetime balls (MLB and MiLB): 49

-Total 2011 balls (MLB and MiLB): 26

STREAKS:

(active/record)

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MiLB and MLB): 26/26

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MiLB): 21/21

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MLB): 5/5

-Consecutive games with at least two balls: 3/3

AVERAGES:

-Lifetime balls per game (MiLB): 1.81

-Lifetime balls per game (MLB): 1.40

-Season balls per game (MiLB): 2.40

-Season balls per game (MLB): 2.00

 

He's in such great shape simply because now he's a martial artist and a boxer.

Notice I had Canseco sign my 33rd ball I've snagged. That's because his number for the majority of his MLB career was 33.

Frontier Field (8/13/11)

I was skeptical of this game even starting, let alone it finishing. I thought at 8:00 we’d all be going home, and I would only have one ball. Things just didn’t work out that way, though, and I ended up staying at Frontier Field until 1:00 in the morning and it was all worth it.

Here’s how it started on the way to the stadium:

Half rainy, half not, right?

Then things started to look like this:

WAIT! Then there was cricket demonstration. (It was India Night and you can see in the photo above that there were some dancers in front of the first base dugout. The Indian Cricket team won the championship for cricket):

Then it looked like this:

Ouch…

And from the pictures above, you can see how good our seats were for foul balls. I was really worried that this game would be rained out. Even though I did get a ball during pre-game throwing from Jared Goedert. By the end of the throwing, I asked a for a ball from one of the coaches, and he held up a finger as to say “One second, I’ll be back.” I waited, and nothing happened.

And then, please excuse the slightly explicit language, all hell broke loose and in came the rain- or should I say the downpour that lasted an hour and fifteen minutes. Luckily, my mom and I ran into some people we knew, so we talked baseball all that time. We got some food and headed back to our seats at 8:10.

Then this happened:

…and by 8:20 we heard an announcement that the game was going to start at 8:55.

So I went off to find some fried dough for my mom and I. Now, I didn’t have my camera at the time so it’s a little hard to explain what happened next. Basically, I saw the players coming out of the dugout while I was on the first base side of the isle that runs around the entire stadium. I thought they might be throwing, so I speed walked back to my seats (on the third base side) and speed walked (even faster) back to the first base line.

Some people might be asking me sooner or later why I didn’t just stay on the third base side for the second pre game throwing. It’s simple: the guys on the third base side probably would recognize me and not get me a ball. Plus, I still have the urge to get a ball from Toby Gardenhire.

TIME OUT!

The last game I went to, a bunch of Red Wings players were signing autographs. I got Toby Gardenhire to come over and sign. While he was signing my ticket, I asked him “You know you’ve tossed me like 4 or 5 balls in the past, right?” And he said something like, “Yeah, man!”

AWESOME!!!! My first player who recognizes me, yet still tosses me balls! haha

TIME IN!

I ended up getting a ball from Rene Tosoni during the second pre-game throwing. The balls could easily get wet, so I wasn’t worried about getting shutout during this time.  One ball had already been tossed into the crowd because of it’s dampness.

So the game started at 9:00, and all was good in the world.

I think that’s the darkest it’s ever been at Frontier Field in the first inning…

And this is where the pictures end.

I never really moved from my seat (other than to get food/napkins/stuff like that) until the bottom of the 6th. But as for the game, the Red Wings lost it horribly. They blew a 6 run lead in the 6th inning. Nice job, guys. Even though our seats were so good, I only had a chance of getting one ball. It rolled to where the grass knoll meets the seats. The left fielder Thomas Neal came over and picked it up. I was the only one saying anything (“Hey Tom! Right here, please!” if you wanted an exact quote). He was looking at me, but then someone said give to the kid. There was a kid (no older than 7) to my left. Neal ended up giving it to the kid and when I got back to my seat, I realized I could’ve said “I’ll give it to the kid” and I really would have given it to him. But I remembered what I had said about giving my baseballs away to kids. I think I’m going to wait until I get 100 balls to start giving them away. If things are going the way I want to, my hundredth baseball should be in the next 2-3 seasons. Why 100? Because I want to have the satisfaction of saying “Hey everybody! Here are the first 100 baseballs I’ve snagged!” Catch what I’m saying? Yes? No?

The later it got, the more people left. That meant more room for me to move around so back to the bottom of the 6th inning. (By the way, I was going for third out balls all night, but nothing came to me)

There was one section on the third base line where a ton of foul balls where landing. I decided to leave my precious seat to go move over there. (This place will be known as “The section” Nothing came anywhere close to me. Take one second, though, to remember when I mentioned my friend who was coincidentally here. He also likes to snag baseballs, but we never really got in each other’s way today. He came close on one, but if he had gotten it, it might have been called fan interference. While I was up in “the section” I saw a foul ball popped up over to where our seats where. At first, I was like “Oh man! Why did leave those seats?” But then the catch was made three feet in front of the seats and thrown back to the field. My friend ended up with four balls and a bat in this game.

Nearing the end of the game, I moved to the seats right next to the clubhouse entrance side of the dugout. Remember Thomas Neal? Well, he somehow pulled through to get me a ball. He chopped a foul back to the protective screen and the Red Wing’s ball boy went out to get it. While he was walking back I asked if there was any chance I could have the ball. He brought it back into the dugout and was looking at it. I was still looking at the ball boy/the ball incase he was going to toss it up. He did. Without saying a word, we made eye contact, and he flipped it to me. This is, by the way, the second game in a row in which I’ve gotten a ball from the ball boy/girl.

After the game, my friend and I each got a ball from the home plate umpire Tony Something-or-other. Then, while the Clippers were still high-fiving each other on the field, I went to their dugout (with two balls in one hand) and noticed a somewhat dirty ball just lying on the ground. When the players came in, I did my best to hide the other balls and I asked Tim Fedroff if I could have it. He flipped it to me, but it fell short of my glove. Then he tried again, and the same thing happened. Then he walked away, but came back with another ball that tipped off of my glove. Finally on the third try, he got it to me.

I was at Frontier Field for 7 hours starting at 6:00 in the evening.

And when all was done 1:00 in the morning.

All the stats will be not entirely accurate seeing as I cannot get to my MyGameBalls.com profile.

TOTALS:

-Total balls at this game: 5

-Total lifetime balls (MLB and MiLB): 47

-Total 2011 balls (MLB and MiLB): 24

STREAKS:

(active/record)

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MiLB and MLB): 25/25

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MiLB): 20/20

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MLB): 5/5

-Consecutive games with at least two balls: 2/3

AVERAGES:

-Lifetime balls per game (MLB and MiLB): 1.88

-Lifetime balls per game (MiLB): 1.73

-Lifetime balls per game (MLB): 1.40

-Season balls per game (MLB and MiLB): 2.36

-Season balls per game (MiLB): 2.90

-Season balls per game (MLB): 2.00

Frontier Field (7/30/11)

This. Day. Was. Awesome.

But it didn’t start out as awesome as I wanted it to.

When I got to the stadium, there was a huge crowd waiting to get in, and why? Because it was a beautiful summer day on a Saturday when the Red Wings were playing the oh-so-popular Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. So to sum it up, the stadium was more crowded than usual- but I’m used to that now. Including this game (with a total attendance of 11,463), the past four games I’ve attended there have been over 10,00 fans in attendance (with the exception of 7/8/11 at Frontier Field which held 9,991. Close enough). After reading this entry, you’ll see why it might be possible for me to get 2,000,000 balls at the next game at Frontier Field that has 4,00 fans.

Enough with the attendance talk. Let’s get down to business.

I got in the stadium just as the gates opened and went to my (awesome) seats:

I stayed there for a while simply because if I went over to my usual spot for pre-game balls, I’d be wasting my time just standing around doing nothing. Maybe I stayed there longer than I thought I should have. I saw some kids (one with a glove) on the first base line where I usually go. I started to make my way down there and got in the first row of the premium seats and walked slowly towards them. It turned out that I was worrying for nothing. They were just getting autographs from the Red Wings’s mascots, Spikes and Mitsy. Whew. But the (possible) competition wasn’t over yet. Another kid was making his way to the corner spot in the premium section at the same time I did. I got there right before he did. I wanted to get a picture of him somehow, but I didn’t want him to know I was photographing him. So…

…I took a picture of his shadow. Smart thinking if I do say so myself, and I do.

And it turned out he was only there for autographs. (Mainly for Denard Span I think. I heard what might of been his father saying “Tell him you came all the way from Minneapolis for his autograph).

Anyways, pre-game throwing started about a million hours later, and you know what? My competition was still not over. Some (small) kids (with gloves) came over wanting a ball (uh-oh). To my advantage, I realized the only player they recognized was Dustin Martin. That was fine with me because I was looking for getting a ball from Toby Gardenhire, Aaron Bates, or Chase Lambin.

As the throwing continued, a good amount of Red Wings players came over to people on my left to sign autographs. I decided that these chances were too good to pass up (seeing as 1) there were so many players, and 2) I’d be kicking myself if I hadn’t tried for some signatures), so I went over to get some John Hancocks while keeping an eye on the throwers.

No one (as in Toby Gardenhire, Aaron Bates, or Chase Lambin) had a ball at the end, but I did get autographs from Kyle Waldrop, Brandon Roberts, Toby Gardenhire, and I think Jeff Bailey. While trying unsuccessfully to get Denard Span’s signature, I did get a ball from…someone. On the Red Wings. Who was a player. I thought their number was 53, but that was Carlos Gutierez, who is a pitcher. It was either that or number 13, Rene Rivera. I don’t know. Their last digit was a 3. But a ball is a ball no matter who gives it to you. This also gave me 19 consecutive games where I’ve tried to snag a baseball (games that I don’t try are not counted as “games” unless I somehow snag a ball without trying). There could’ve been a chance to get another ball during PG throwing, but I decided not to ask for a ball while my ticket was being signed:

Our seats were so good that I decided to stay there for a full inning. Wow. That’s a long time! (For me). I also tried for a third out ball from the Yanks, but I came up empty. So then I moved to the left field grass. It was pretty crowded:

Once again, there was nothing even close to me. So how was this day so awesome? Well, it started when I decided to go check out the bullpens mainly because I couldn’t see any players or a bench (turns out they just moved the bench back for some reason).

I was making my way to the bullpens, but stopped walking next to the foul pole to watch the Famous Chicken do a cute little act with some little kids who were messing with the catcher and umpire. Good thing I stopped. Wanna know why?

The next thing I hear is, “Hey, kid- do you play baseball?” I turned around to see if someone was talking to me.

“Who, me?”

“Yeah!”

“Yeah I play baseball”

“Can you catch?”

“Yeah”

“Well here you go,” the food vendor guy says as he flips a baseball to me. Ohhh yeah.

I was really surprised he had a baseball because I didn’t see a single foul ball go over to the left field gate/foul pole/eating area. It must’ve been from a previous game. And I think he flipped it to me because I had a glove. Life lessoned learned kids. Even if you don’t try to catch a baseball at a game, bring a glove. It makes you look like you want one. :)

More awesomeness? Some (awesome) fried dough for $4.25:

Mmmm… food and baseball go together so well.

After I finished the (awesome) fried dough, I made my way over to the left field bullpens again. I have no idea why. Nobody ever gets a ball there during the game (unless you’re the little kid who has a glove and doesn’t ask for a ball when three other 10-year-olds are every half second. True story.)

I found one of my friends over there and we were talking for a little. Then I suddenly realized something. I asked him what inning it was, and he said the 8th or 9th. When I was looking for the inning on the scoreboard, I was thinking “Oh Lord, please let it be the 8th. And if it is the 9th, let there be one out or less. Amen”

Turned out it was the top of the 9th with the Red Wings (home team) up 6-1 with no outs. I walked quickly over to the umpires tunnel and waited. It didn’t take along time for the game to end. Kyle Waldrop let up a homer to make the game 6-2 with one out. The next pitch was a double. Then the next batter flew to right and the runner on second got caught off guard and was thrown out at second due to not getting back to the base in time. Good thing I was over there when I was. I did get a ball from the home plate umpire Art Thigpen.

That ball got me up to three, and I for some reason, I had the itching urge to go for four.

With the thought in mind , I made my way to the Red Wings’ dugout. Right before I got down there, I saw a little kid get a ball. I saw the ball girl talking to people who might have been her family, and then I asked (in these exact words): “Excuse me, is there any chance you could spare just one ball?” She asked an older, more experienced ball boy something, then gave me a ball. YES! Four in one game!!! New record baby! Woo!!!!

TOTALS:

-Total balls at this game: 4

-Total lifetime balls (MLB and MiLB): 42

-Total 2011 balls (MLB and MiLB): 19

STREAKS:

(active/record)

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MiLB and MLB): 24/24

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MiLB): 19/19

-Consecutive games with at least one ball (MLB): 5/5

-Consecutive games with at least two balls: 1/3

AVERAGES:

-Lifetime balls per game (MLB and MiLB): 1.58

-Lifetime balls per game (MiLB): 1.63

-Lifetime balls per game (MLB): 1.40

-Season balls per game (MLB and MiLB): 2.11

-Season balls per game (MiLB): 2.12

-Season balls per game (MLB): 2.00

Newest Goal for 2011

Seeing as the baseball season is a little over half-way finished, I’d like to take the time to write about my progression as a ballhawk and the beginning and the rest of the 2011 season.

My lifetime total number of baseballs (MLB and MiLB) that I have gotten over the years from Major and Minor League stadiums is up to 38. I’m hoping that this year I can get up to 50. In my schedule, I know there will be at least two more MLB games that I’ll be going to (a Philly/Marlin game in Philly and a Blue Jays game either against the Angels or Red Sox in August or September).

As for Minor league, I have no idea how many more games I’ll be able to go to. I’m going to try to go to as many as I can. I know I’m going to one tomorrow (Saturday, July 30. Which I might not be able to post an entry for for two weeks. Camp stuff. I’ll see what I can do.). Another smaller goal is to get three balls (or more!) in at least one more game. I’ve gotten 3 in one game twice so far, and I want to make it another game! It’d be great if that  could especially be my last game of the season.

Here’s another cool fact: I’ve already caught more balls this season than I did last season. 2008 I got my first, 2009 I got 3 more, 2010 with 12, and now 2011 with 13 and more to go! I think it’s safe to say that these stats have proved that I’ve become a better ballhawk. Last year I went to more games  (9 Minor, two major) than I have this year (7 Minor, 1 major). I have already snagged more balls this year- and here’s why. In 2010, my highest number of balls in one game was two which I did three times. This, year, out of the 8 total games, there have only been three games where I’ve only gotten one ball. So 62.5% of all games I’ve been to, I’ve caught two or more baseballs. Last year, 6 out of 11 games I was catching only one ball. That meant that 45.5% of games I went to last year I caught more than one ball. To make that stat sound scarier, 54.5% of the games I only caught one ball. Way worse than this year’s 37.5% of games attended where I’ve only gotten one ball. Pretty cool, huh?

This was probably the entry where people are going to be like “How do you have that much time on your hands?” My answer:

I. Just. Do.

Oh and according to this website,

“This is your [Jon Madden's] 29th post! [Wow! I really needed to know that!] This entry has 450 words! [Exactly]

Coca Cola Field (7/15/11)

This day was almost depressing for me. I only got one ball, thanks to a technicality.

Everything went my way, I was in perfect positions to get a ball. And yet the way I got one was from my dad. He got a foul ball from Luis Hernandez, and he gave it to me. Great thanks to him for keeping my 23 game streak of getting at least one ball alive. Why did I count that ball? Because I’ve accepted balls from other people in the past (an older man, a fan, an usher, and a security guard).

And I do kind of like it, but Coca Cola field is like a dump. Maybe I’m spoiled with Frontier Field, but seriously- why were there cobwebs everywhere, barely any room to maneuver, seats that needed a paint job, and an ice cream helmet from the previous night’s game?

Warm up was a disaster. At least I got an autograph from Kyle Waldrop. The balls used in warm-ups were just put back in a bag. Jeez.

As for the umpire ball, once again, I was in perfect position for it. I moved the farthest row I could- in front of all the other kids who wanted one . The umpire came in and I asked for a ball. He said the first person to say please would get one. I swore I was the first. And I didn’t get one.

STATS:

-1 Ball at this game

-38 total balls

-MiLB Balls/game: 1.50 (lifetime), 1.86 (season)

-Consecutive games with at least one ball: 23

And one last thing- I’ll prove I’m becoming a better ballhawk. Check out my yearly stats:

Year Total Balls Hit Ball Retriever Found Thrown Unknown BP/Pre-Game During Game After Game Unknown
2009 2 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 0
2010 12 1 0 0 11 0 8 4 0 0
2011 13 2 0 0 11 0 4 3 6 0

Here’s some pictures. Most of them are from spots that I sat in for the game.

Our real seats were right in the sun for a little bit.

I eventually moved to the upper deck for foul balls

Where I first went for foul balls

The highway in the distance

 

An orange foul poll. Yes, it is orange.

This is the Buffalo Saber's hockey arena (the domed thing)

Another great spot for foul balls

Waiting for the game to end to get an umpire ball.

Frontier Field (7/8/11)

I’m such a lazy person. Or maybe I’m just busy and I don’t know it. I apologize for getting this blog up a week after I attended the game. So forgive me if I leave out some details.

We got to the game about 40 minutes before it started, and obviously nothing was happening. Well 40 minutes later, there was still nothing happening. I was kind of scared there wasn’t going to be a pregame warm up. It was 7:05 (when the game was said to have started) and there was STILL nobody on the field.

My plan for this game was to go to the third base side to get a ball. I’ve rarely done that for a pregame ball. I don’t know why I wanted to. I just did. Anyhow, there were LOADS of kids today- and I have no idea why. I looked at the first base side. There were so many kids on the grass. So I looked to the third base side thinking “Okay, that gives me an excuse to go to the third base side.” No dice. There were kids with gloves who actually looked like they knew what they were doing.

Kids (with gloves) were everywhere. I had never seen it like this before. But I did manage to get down to the field level and get ANOTHER ball from Toby Gardenhire. I think that’s my 3 or 4th ball from him this season. Wowzers. I also got an autograph from Delmon Young (who played on the Twins, but is in the minors on rehab.)

So because I don’t want to keep writing this, I’ll keep the rest of the entry short. I never sat in my seat. Not even half an inning. Then I went to the bullpens. Then I went looking for something (might have been ice cream or a hot dog). While I was gone, a home run landed in a place where I could have caught it on the fly- it ended up bouncing out of the stadium.

Also, in the bullpens, a home run was hit there. I got one guys attention and he tossed the ball just the slightest bit to my right where a kid with no glove, who never asked for the ball, got it. Keep that player in mind for later…

For some humor now:

There were some (once again annoying) kids at the bullpens, and the players were clearly annoyed by them. Here’s how a dialogue went between a player and a kid:

(PS- there’s a train going by right at this moment, so it’s hard for them to hear)

KID: “Can I have a ball?”

PLAYER: “What?”

KID: “I need a baseball”

PLAYER: “Huh?”

KID: “Baseball” (makes throwing motion with arm)

PLAYER: “Yeah baseball game. Right there!” (points to field)

End of dialogue.

Another note of humor, there was one player (last name Grilli) who said he’d give a ball to the kid if he bought him a sandwich. The kid never did, but a college-looking kid came back about an inning later with a sandwich. He got two balls for a $6.50 Red Osier beef sandwich. Wow. And speaking of Grilli, when he walked passed me, I asked him for a dirty ball, and he said “Sorry, we can’t give them away.” Then he said something to me like “You’re alright, kid.” I think that’s a baseball players way of saying “Thanks for not annoying the heck out of us.”

After the game, I got a ball from the home plate umpire. I then made a (bad) beeline for the visitors dugout. The bullpen players were coming in, and I hoped one of them might recognize me and give me a ball for not annoying them. I hid the ump’s ball from them by stepping on it. Remember that player? Scroll up to refresh your memory. The one who almost gave me the homer ball? He came out of the dugout and seemed like he was looking around for someone, made eye contact with me, and tossed me a ball. Coool.

STATS:

-3 Balls at this game

-37 total.

-2.00 Balls per game.

I’m going to Buffalo today. Ohhh yeah.

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