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]
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.
-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|
Here’s some pictures. Most of them are from spots that I sat in for the game.
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?”
KID: “I need a baseball”
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.
-3 Balls at this game
-2.00 Balls per game.
I’m going to Buffalo today. Ohhh yeah.
Happy 4th to all.
And before I go into the day, I want to take a moment to say thanks to all the service men and women for all they have done for our country, so that we may live free. And a thanks to all who have payed the ultimate sacrifice.
Let me also say that Frontier Field is beautiful. Just look at this somewhat good panorama I made:
It all started when I got to the stadium and saw batting practice. I just wanted to get into the bleeping stadium and start snagging!!!
This shot was taken through the gates:
It was VERY crowded (that’s an understatement). Why is it a understatement? See for yourself:
Yeah. If the grass sections are this bad, it’s got to be wicked crowded. Yes, I did say wicked crowded. Even though it was this bad, I still got down to the premium seating to get a ball from Trevor Plouffe. And I’ll warn you now, that was the only ball I got at this game. So the rest of this entry is just ranting pretty much. Have fun, and let the ranting begin. No- wait. Let me show you more crowded pictures:
And the worst:
Now, I’m not one to whine alot, but I was really ticked off at this game. Think about it- how the heck are there 12,000 people in a stadium that usually gets 4,000 if they’re lucky? I know it’s the 4th of July and all, but don’t you people have parties to go to? Come on!!!! The last time I went to a game that was anywhere close to 12,000 people was on Opening Day and that had 8,000 people and I only got one ball that game. Right from the get-go (before I got the ball from Plouffe), things were looking bad. I just wish the crowd could be more consistant. I don’t like having nobody there and having the place to myself, then suddenly there’s a million people. *Sigh of anger*
Back to the game.
I sat in my seat (once again) for only half an inning. I moved to the grass sections for about 3 or 4 innings, but I decided it wasn’t worth it. If I moved to the bullpens, I’d have a slightly bigger chance of getting a ball. So I moved to the Pawtucket Red Sox’s bullpen. I completely forgot the Hideki Okajima was on the team (a VERY good pitcher for Boston) and it was really cool seeing him in person and up close. He’s the one turned around in the photo to the right. The only other time I’ve seen him was on my first MLB game ever. I really wanted to get a ball from him, but I knew he spoke very little English (and my Japenese isn’t that good). So I waited. And waited. And while I was waiting, I saw this:
I didn’t acknowledge that a ball was there in any way. I was hoping it’d stay there the rest of the game and I could get it from a grounds crew person like it did in this game.
Unfortunately, the little kids who were there (and very annoying) said “HEY GIVE ME A BALL!!! COME ON!!!! OH! THERE’S ONE RIGHT THERE!!!” I tried to get it when they reluctantly flipped it up to us, but I failed to acquire the sphere made of cork, cow hide, and leather stitching.
In the middle of the game, this Korean player launched a home run that bounced back onto the field. I knew that it was his first homer, and i really wanted the left fielder to throw it to me. I came within a foot of it. The player tossed it to these people who where about college age (ver7 nice people). If i was in the front row of the little picnic area, I would have gotten it. They were in the corner spot, and that’s where I would have been if I had gotten to the bullpens first. Oh, and if I had gotten it, the player in the bullpen would have given me two balls for that one. That’s what the guy got for it. GAH!
And whatever happened to my usual umpire ball? Let’s call it “insanely bad timing on my part.”
It was the bottom of the 9th. The Red Wings were down two or three runs with a man on base. And no outs. I was debating whether to stay in the bullpens or go to the umpires tunnel. I really wanted a bullpen ball, and suddenly there were two outs. Why didn’t I just go over to the umpire’s tunnel I’ll never know. And the dugouts were useless.
As for Okajima, the most I got him to do was wave at me…everything just didn’t go my way. Arg.
-1 Ball at this game
-1.57 BPG (Balls per game)
There was rain in the forecast. The night before this day ended cloudy and rainy. When I woke up, it was still cloudy and looked damp. When got to the stadium, this is what it was like:
OHHH YEAH! THE WEATHER GODS LOVE ME!! (FYI, all the pictures of the stadium were taken by me).
Anyways, I only had about 5 minutes at my seat before I had to get down to business. The players started playing catch.
I ended up getting a ball from Toby Gardenhire (son of the Twins manager Ron Gardenhire). He flipped it right to me without hesitation, unlike this day where I missed out on a ball because it was too clean. I have a feeling that some of the Wings are beginning to recognize me. It might be just me, but my conscience was wondering why Toby seemed so “happy” about it. Maybe he was anticipating me asking someone for a ball. I don’t know. This is just one of my weird conscience moments.
Attendance was not the worst I’ve seen, but it was close. Here’s the stadium 10 minutes before the game:
I stayed in my seat for half an inning, and after that half inning I tried for a third-out ball, but the 3rd out was a strikeout.
After getting a hot dog (which was very hard to eat seeing as I just got braces on the Monday before this game), I sat in the right field grass. The only people in that area were the family (a father with a glove and a mother). It was foul ball heaven, but nothing came my way.
Then I walked over to the left field grass where there was an equal number of foul balls as the right field grass. While in left, I saw TWO foul balls in a row go to the EXACT SAME SPOT in the right field berm. I could have gotten one of them, but of course, I didn’t. GAH!!!
I did move back to right field where a foul ball was shot up the line, but there was a swarm of little kids screaming for it. I decided to let them have their fun and get the ball.
In the 9th inning I speed walked over to the umpire’s tunnel and climbed over rows of seats and got a ball from the home plate umpire Travis Brown. Then I made my way to the Red Wings dugout (who won 7-2). I asked a guy (might of been manager Tom Nieto) for a lineup card when he took it off the wall, and he gave it to me! My first lineup card. Awesome sauce.
Also, I apologize for the large number of pictures. I went a little camera-happy. There’s some more at the end of the post.
-Games attended: 4
-Balls snagged: 8
-Average: 2 per game
-Games attended: Approx. 16 (where i’ve tried to snag a ball)
-Balls snagged: 26
-Avg: 1.625 balls per game
-Games attended: 5
-Balls snagged: 7
-Avg: 1.4 balls/game
-33 Balls (Major and minor)
-7 MLB balls
-26 Minor League balls
In the photo above, see all the people crunched into the the premium seating? Now imagine all of those people move to the “upper” deck. Yeah. That’s what happened when it started to SPRINKLE.