Oh how good it felt to be back at Target Field. And look who joined me for the game:
If you’re semi-new to the blog, that’s me on the right and my friend Jonathan on the left. Jonathan, if you don’t know, accompanied me for the first time ever the game I snagged my first ever game home run. And today, we had my “fancy camera”, so he was going to be my designated photographer.
You also may have noticed that we were standing at Gate 3 instead of my usual Gate 34. I was trying something semi-new. Usually the only reason I ever went to Gate 3 was if I got to Target Field late, but here I just wanted to see how it would be like to be the first person in the left field seats, since this is usually where I bolt to anyways when the gates open.
So when we got in, I headed straight for the middle spot of the left field bleachers, and when he got there, Jonathan took a picture of me there:
And he didn’t get my first ball on camera, because he saw the ball falling short of the wall and didn’t bother to have the camera pointed that way. But anyway, it was a ground rule double some Twins hitter (I think Wilkin Ramirez, but am not certain) hit that bounced up, off a guy’s chest, and back to me. There was a second ground rule double later on, but a guy caught it two rows in front of me as it was headed straight towards me.
After I got this ball, the Twins ended BP ridiculously early. I’d say at 5:10. Usually during weekdays, we get a solid 5-10 minutes of Twins BP despite the gates opening at 5:30. As a result, Jonathan and I then headed over to foul territory to get a ball from the Blue Jays:
And I do mean WE. See the guy in the following picture that I’ve put an arrow over was playing catch with Rajai Davis:
Well when he was done throwing, I asked if he could toss me the ball. So as he was running off, he kind of submarined the ball and launched it over my head. And guess who got the ball:
I was happy for Jonathan, but I would have rather the player–whoever he was–been on target with his throw.
After that, I rushed out to right field for the Blue Jays first group. Since Jonathan was both in much less of a hurry to get there than I and was carrying the camera bag, I snagged two baseballs before he even got there and then two within a few seconds of him getting there. So here are the spots of the four baseballs labeled by their numbers on the day for me:
2. Adam Lind hit a ball straight over my head. Except by the time I looked at the ball, it was already halfway towards me, so I wasn’t able to get out my row. All I could do was see it go over my head and wait for it to bounce back into a row where I could pick it up.
3. Some Blue Jays righty hit an opposite-field home run into the flower pots. I was in the right field seats when it landed, but when I saw the people struggling to find/reach for it, I ran over to the flower bed in the right-center field seats, and offered to pick the ball up for them and hand it to them. So when I saw where it was, I leaned way down into the flower pots, picked the ball up, and handed it to the couple who was right above it.
4. There was another Blue Jays lefty homer–maybe Lind again. As it flew toward the corner of the rose bush, I moved over to the side of the section that juts out in right field just in case the ball stopped there. Well it hit the corner and as I got to the wall, it bounced up the side of the wall, I stopped the ball from bouncing any further with my glove, and picked it up.
5. Right before I got ball 4, Jonathan had arrived on the scene. So after I got it, I went towards him and into the aisle to see if he had gotten a shot of me getting the ball. Right as I turned away from him, I heard a clank to my right. A ball had hit just in the right-center field seats. This one Jonathan did get a shot of as I jumped the mini-wall separating the two sections and grabbed the ball:
I was nervous I was going to get yelled at for jumping over the wall, so I immediately turned to my left after getting the ball and tossed it to a kid who was fifteen feet away after making sure that he had not yet gotten a ball. But of course Jonathan didn’t get that on camera. (No, but seriously, taking pictures for a ballhawking entry is tough. It’s tough to realize what is going to happen next and what should have a picture taken of it if you’re not familiar with ballhawking. And if one is familiar with ballhawking, that usually means he/she is usually going to be ballhawking his/herself and can’t take pictures.)
After that, a group of mostly Blue Jays righties came up. Since righties usually try to hit opposite-field, I went into the right-center field section and tried to get toss-ups from the players who were shagging baseballs below me. Instead, though, one of those righties (Edwin Encarnacion?) hit an opposite-field home run into the flower bushes, and while the pictures I will show you were from a scenario later on almost exactly the same where I didn’t get the ball, they serve the purpose of visual aids. So when I first saw the ball hit, I ran towards the spot where it was landing:
And then when the ball went in the flower pots, I leaned down to the side of the woman it landed in front of (same woman as in this following picture, interestingly enough), picked it up:
And handed her the ball. I then realized that Edwin Encarnacion was starting to hit baseballs into the second deck in left field, so I went up there, since I suspected there would be many more to come. I was right.
Encarnacion and the rest of the people hit about 8 or 9 baseballs up there in their time at the plate. And I should preface the pictures you’re about to see and the fact that I only got 1 of those by saying that being in the seats in the second of Target Field is one of the worst places in fair territory to run for a baseball through the seats. But there was one ball I had tracked:
And I could tell the ball was going to be landing in the row below me, but unlike most places where there is barely a difference in height between rows, here the row in front of me was about two feet below me–despite how it may seem in the picture:
So I couldn’t get down fast enough and dropped the ball. But thankfully, I was able to trap the ball with my glove:
And when this group ended, I headed back to the seats in right-center in hopes of a toss-up. Well I didn’t get any player to toss *me* a ball, but when Jeremy Jeffress went to the wall to retrieve a ball:
And there were two kids who were asking him by name for the ball, I knew I had no chance competing with them for the ball directly. So instead, I used the ridiculous steepness of Target Field and went in the row behind them. I knew that unless Jeffress went out about twenty feet from the wall, he would have to toss the ball over the kids’ heads to get it to them. So like clockwork, this happened:
But of course I then immediately gave the ball to the kid, since I had still caught it over his head. (Well that and the fact that the ball was intended for him.) That was my last ball of batting practice.
Now stuck at 8 baseballs, I went to the bullpen(s) after batting practice with Jonathan:
And because there were a ton of baseballs in the Blue Jays bullpen, that’s whose team gear I was in while I was there. But when a familiar-but-unexpected face started tossing them up, I quickly took of my hat, covered my shirt, and got him to toss me one for my ninth on the day:
Can you tell who it is? No? It was TC Bear, the Twins mascot, who tossed it to me. He went through both bullpens and tossed up every single ball that was in both of them.
As for the game, both Jonathan and I headed out to the standing room in right in hopes of a game home run:
Of course, though, I knew both teams, minus maybe a select few members from either team, had any chance of putting a ball up there. What I did instead with my time was take a bunch of pictures, since I had my “good” camera at my disposal–like these:
And I did take more, but they’ll be in the Facebook gallery that I’ll put up some time after this entry gets up. In the meantime, though, here’s the link to the Facebook Page for this blog if you have a Facebook and want to “like” it.
After the game, both Jonathan and I headed to the dugout for an umpire ball. But since the game ended on a double play, I was caught off guard and had to quickly change the camera lens to the smaller one, gave it to Jonathan, and told him to take a continuous series of pictures if I managed to get the ball from home plate umpire, Mark Wegner. Wegner thankfully waited for the other members of his crew to get to the tunnel, so I was able to get down there in time:
And then I asked him for a ball as he approached:
And when Wegner tossed me the ball, I caught it in front of the hand of the man sitting next to me, who snatched at it not realizing that the ball was intended for me:
I then got a more proper picture with my tenth ball of the day as Jonathan and I awaited the bus to get back to campus:
And so concluded only my sixth double-digit game ever, but interestingly enough the fourth this season.
- 10 Balls at this game (6 pictured because I gave 3 away, and I think I lost one when my backpack fell open as I was running through the seats at one point during BP)
Numbers 680-689 for my lifetime:
- 243 Balls in 53 Games= 4.58 Balls Per Game
- 10 Balls x 27,044 Fans=270,440 Competition Factor
- 115 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 20 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 17 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 9 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 3 straight games with 5 Balls
- 127 Balls in 27 Games at Target Field= 4.70 Balls Per Game
- 25 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 5 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:42-2:00= 10 Hours 18 Minutes
I didn’t know it by how it looked when I left to go to this game, but it would be defined by rain. There wouldn’t be any rain when I got there, but the Nationals still didn’t take any BP:
So I just sat around and talked to an usher I know in right field and a ballhawk out there until the Mets started hitting. Then David Wright hit a ball that bounced off the warning track. It then hit off a chair in the Red Seats–where I was standing when it came time for the Mets to hit, if you didn’t catch that–and bounced right to my glove. It was one of those times where really the ball caught me. Anyway, here’s my view of the field when the Mets started hitting:
The ball bounced pretty much between the two guys in red.
And then I got Collin McHugh to toss me a ball that I then immediately gave away to a kid to my left:
(Not the one who is in the last picture, but more on him later.) The next ball I got actually left me mad. I ran into a row as I tracked a Justin Turner home run and watched as the ball flew over my head. Thankfully there wasn’t anyone behind me and I could go and pick the ball up:
I then caught a Marlon Byrd home run on the fly, which I’m actually pretty proud of; not because I tracked the ball and made a leaping catch or anything like that, but because right as the ball was coming, a kid in the first row threw his glove in the air, which blocked my view of the ball, but I still got it:
And I then gave it to a kid to my left:
The arrow closest to the field is the kid I gave the ball away to and the second arrow is the kid who threw his glove in the air. And during that same hitting group, it started pouring. And with that, the Mets ran in and batting practice was over:
So in watching a grand total of two groups of BP–roughly an eighth of a total BP– I had snagged four baseballs, which is frustrating because I can only think of how good the numbers I could have put up could have been if I would have had a full BP.
I rushed to the Mets dugout when they first ended BP, but I was too late to get a ball from them. So as the game looked like it was going to be delayed, I walked up to talk to some ushers I knew from last season behind the Mets dugout. I was just planning on saying hi to them and moving on, but I ended up talking to them for a good hour until the game was officially called. Yep, that’s right. The game was postponed after what I would say was an hour+ rain delay. They probably would have called it sooner, but teams like to wait a while longer than they actually need in order for people to buy more things at the concession stands. But anyway, after watching the first few picks of the MLB draft on the big screen, this flashed up there:
And at that point I headed through the seats towards the outfield, where I planned to exit. I would have exited through the concourse, but it was a) Packed with people who had retreated up there to get away from the rain, and b) I wanted to see if anyone left their tickets in the stands, so I could possibly have an essentially free ticket to a future game. On my way out, though, I ran into an usher who knows me because he was the one who saw my ear bleeding in my first game back here this season, so talked with him for a couple minutes on what I believed to be was my way out of the stadium. In the time I was talking with him, though, I saw two Mets players coming out to throw just beyond the tarp, so when I was done talking with the usher, I headed back towards foul ground instead of taking off:
Okay, so the person throwing closest to me I could tell was Ricky Bones, but I couldn’t tell who the far thrower was, but I figured he was an actual player on the Mets, since two coaches probably wouldn’t come out to throw in the rain. The reason I was so far back is that I could tell the ushers at the top of the staircases were being instructed to keep all the fans at the top of the section. That meant that if I would have a very short window of opportunity at the bottom of the section before an usher would come down and tell me to leave. So as the far player started to inch in, and I could tell the catch session was coming to a close, I ran down to the bottom of the steps. Fifteen seconds into me being down there, the security guard on the field closest to the tarp in that last picture told me to go up. I asked him “I can’t even stay for a couple seconds to get this ball from them?” To which he responded, “No; you gotta go up.”
So I did technically obey his command, but as I sensed the players were done throwing, I first yelled out a request for the ball to Ricky Bones, but the two talked for a couple seconds. So I very slowly backed up the stairs; no doubt angering the security guard who had told me to go up. When the two Mets headed back towards the dugout, the other Mets–who I could now tell was Shawn Marcum–had the ball, so I waved my arms at him from now at least twenty rows deep into the section, and he launched me the ball for now my fifth on the day:
And while I was pretty excited about the ball myself when I got it, I heard a cheer erupt in what I thought was my head when I got the ball, but I turned around to see there was a full section of fans who had been watching the whole thing play out. It was the second loudest cheer I’ve ever gotten for a ball next to glove tricking a ball from the second deck of Miller Park. And with that, my day of ballhawking ended on five baseballs and I finally headed off home a little earlier than normal still.
- 5 Baseballs at this Game (3 pictured because I gave 2 away)
- 110 Balls in 25 Games= 4.50 Balls Per Game
- 5 Ball x 36,000 Fans=180,000 Competition Factor
- 88 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 148 Balls in 32 Games at Nationals Park= 4.63 Balls Per Game
- 24 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
- 8 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 2 Balls
- 6 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 3 Balls
- 4 straight Games at Nationals Park with at least 4-5 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 3:18-8:55= 5 Hours 37 Minutes
How do I spend my Sundays? I go to Twins games when there is no batting practice?
Apparently, the Twins *never* take batting practice on Sundays. I learned this from various ushers. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Anyway, I was pretty much the first one at the gate, expecting there to be potential baseballs to catch, but I just had to stand outside for half-an-hour doing nothing.
When I got in, I saw that no Twins were doing anything. However, two White Sox were throwing, so I headed over there to the third base side of the field while changing my gear. Minutes later, I was the first person in the ballpark to snag a ball by getting Dylan Axelrod to toss me a ball:
Here’s a cruddy diagram of the throw- with a poorly chosen color choice for the arrow:
Then, because nothing else was going on at the time, I headed over to watch Axelrod and some other White Sox pitchers throw bullpen sessions:
I did this for about ten minutes, but I then saw there were Twins pitchers warming up across the field:
So I went over there to try to get a ball from them:
There was only one problem: after about ten minutes of them stretching, there were signs of life on the White Sox’s side of the field:
So I had the decision to make: go over there, or stay where I was.
For the “pro”s of staying, I had:
1. I wouldn’t have to move and regret it if I didn’t get anything from the group.
For the “con”s, I had:
1. I would be pretty much the only one with White Sox gear on.
2. There weren’t that many people period on that side. (As opposed to this side where this was the crowd):
3. I wouldn’t have to comet with a bunch of kids.
4. Since I haven’t seen them that much in batting practice, I essentially knew the Twins as well as I did the White Sox.
Anyway, even though all common sense pointed to going to the White Sox’s side, I stayed on the Twins side because I figured the Twins would finish first, and I could maybe get over to the White Sox side just as they were finishing.
Well, after he finished catching baseballs by running in football-esque running patterns, I yelled out to Tyler Robertson, and he tossed me a ball. Then, in the same motions I caught the ball, I handed it to the kid next to me. Here is Robertson walking away with the kid also in the shot:
Right after I took the picture, I ran over to the White Sox side. Much to my surprise, only one throwing pair had finished and headed in to the clubhouse by the time I got over there. Also to my surprise, despite this fact, I didn’t get a single ball from them. They just waited to toss the balls up until when they were closer to the dugout and I wasn’t by the dugout, so I missed out on all opportunities.
Although, it was fun to see Chris Sale talk for half-an-hour with some fans:
I like it when athletes don’t feel so above people to for even a little time when they have nothing else to do. I don’t think I worded that last sentence as well as I could have.
That was it for pre-game warm-ups snagging-wise, but there was something else interesting brewing in Target Field:
But since I had no clue what it was, I asked the teacher in charge of the operation. What I found out was they were a group of University of Minnesota students preparing to launch a weather balloon with a baseball attached to it signed by Justin Morneau. The balloon you saw in the last picture was the test balloon. This is what happened when they launched it:
Yeah, it went high.
Oh, and in between the practice balloon and the real one, I marveled at the work of art that is the Target Field visitors dugout roof:
That might not seem like much, but most dugout roofs are just slabs of concrete with paint on it. Heck, if you’re at Citi Field, they didn’t even put in the effort to paint it; they just put slabs of pre-made dugout designs on it:
In the pre-game ceremonies, I got to see the students inflating the balloon:
And here is the ball attached to the balloon on the Jumbotron:
As I mentioned on Twitter, I had half a mind to try to shoot down the balloon and try to snag the ball. Anyway, here is the balloon going up-up-and -away:
Anyway, this was my view for the game:
I didn’t get a third-out ball, because for whatever reason, Adam Dunn and whoever tossed the ball to Alexi Ramirez, who always tossed the ball away to a section that wasn’t the one I was in. When Gordon Beckham caught a line drive for the third out of the inning, I was sure I had a ball awaiting me. You see, before the game, I had yelled out happy birthday to him, and he acknowledged me by saying thank you. Unfortunately, he too threw the ball to Ramirez. As a result, the only ball I got at the dugout was a ball after he game from umpire, Gary Cederstrom:
That made three balls on the day for me. I then got to see Dan Johnson say hi to his wife and kids:
And then I got him to give me the whole bag of ball in the dugout. Well, no, but I got him to shake my hand.
- 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 425-427 for my career:
- 205 Balls in 49 Games= 4.18 Balls Per Game
- 58 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 8 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 37 Balls in 10 Games at Target Field= 3.70 Balls Per Game
- 9 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
- 8 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 9:31- 5:06= 7 Hours 35 Minutes
(For the record, the glove gets HOT when exposed to direct sunlight, so you need something underneath you so you won’t burn. I used my Indians shirt.)
Anyway, since it was a Friday and the gates were opening two hours early (as opposed to 1 1/2 hours Monday through Thursday), Josh Willingham’s group was still hitting, and so I went to left field right away:
Right as I got there, Josh Wilingham launched a ball in my direction. I got in line with it, but I could tell the ball was sailing over my head, so I started going up the bleachers. Just as I was five feet from the landing spot, the ball landed and deflected back towards the field. Gaaah! Here is a diagram if you’re having trouble visualizing it:
That wasn’t the end of my left field woes, though. Willingham hit another ball three sections to my right. I could tell the ball was headed right over the heads of the people in the section, so all the ball had to do was stay in the spot it landed and I would easily scoop it up. Instead, the ball deflected back my way, but it tailed back towards the field. Since I was running full speed through a row of bleachers, I couldn’t stop and change directions, so it landed right by where I had just run by and some other person picked it up. Again a diagram for the people who aren’t able to visualize this:
(The dotted arrow is my running path while the solid arrow is the ball’s deflection. That guy standing on the bleacher wasn’t there when the ball landed there.)
After that, Willingham hit yet another ball over the fence. This time, I had a beat on it. I ran about fifteen feet to my right and made the catch:
That felt really good as it was my first ever ball at Target Field I had caught on the fly.
After that, I headed over to the Indians dugout as they warmed up, but I got shutout by the infielders. I was going to stay and try to get a ball from a pitcher, but I saw there was a mostly-lefty group nearing their second round of swings in the batting cage. So…. I headed out to right field and readied myself.
My first ball out there was hit by Carlos Santana and would start a theme for me: balls that went over my head but I managed to beat people out for. As the name of the theme suggests, the ball went over my head and to my left, but when it bounced, I played the deflection and scooped up the ball before anyone else could:
I don’t know who hit my next ball-it might have been Santana again, but I don’t know-but the same exact thing happened; except this time it went over my head and to my right:
The last ball from this group of hitters came when Asdrubal Cabrera hit right in the middle of the section and over my head:
That would be ball number 4 for those of you keeping score at home. I didn’t really realize it at the time, but my next ball would be career number 400. I actually had been making a big deal about #400 back in New York, but I guess the magic of it wore away as it kept taking me longer and longer to get there. Anyway, as much as I would have liked #400 to be hit, I’m perfectly fine with what ended up happening. When a ball got hit to the warning track to my right, I looked over to see who was retrieving it. I couldn’t recognize practically anyone else on the Indians, so I was relieved when Chris Perez got the ball. Not only is Perez very distinguishable with his long hair, but he is one of- if not THE- nicest players in all of baseballs when it comes to toss-ups. When I yelled out a request at him, he turned around and kindly obliged:
It took me a few minutes to realize it was number 400, which fortunately didn’t cost me. Had there been a kid with a glove, I might have given him that ball. This mistake actually happened to me with ball number 200. STILL, there was no kid to give the ball away to. I mean, yeah, there were kids, but none with gloves. I have truly never seen anything like it. I don’t know if this is true, but it may have been my longest streak ever without giving away a ball. (I had caught five at this point.)
Then the next group of Indian hitters came up to the plate. A couple rounds in, Casey Kotchman hit a ball to my right, so I ran over and made the catch:
After that, I FINALLY found a kid with a glove two sections away and gave him the ball:
My next ball came when an Indians pitcher threw a ball to a kid in front of me, but sailed him by two feet. I was right behind him, so I picked the ball up and naturally gave it to the kid.
I then headed over t right field for the final group of BP. There, I convinced Joe Smith to toss me a ball for my eighth and final ball of the day:
As impressive as this is, I feel I really could have done much better. In addition to the balls I detailed that I missed in left field at the beginning of batting practice, there were countless other in right field. Why do I tell you this? I don’t want any sympathy or anything (mostly because it was *me* messing up my opportunities); it is because I might have passed the Target Field record of twelve had I been on my game. Oh well, I’ll have plenty of other shots at it.
As for the game, it was freezing. I guess I should have expected that when I came to Minnesota for college. What made matters worse was I was out in the standing room section in right field where the winds came through. It was so cold, in fact, that I actually bought food at the ballpark. I usually never do since it adds on a considerable expense if I do it with any sort of regularity. Anyway, to warm me up, I got a bucket of mini-donuts:
They look pretty vile from that picture, but they were absolutely amazing. And since they were baked right on the spot, they served to warm me up for a couple innings. This, however, could not make up for the Twins’ loss as they had gone up 4-0 only to lose 7-6. Since I was playing home runs the whole game, that was it for snagging.
- 8 balls at this game (6 Pictured because I gave 2 away)
- 8 Balls x 30,111 Fans= 240,888 Competition Factor
- 52 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 13 Balls in 4 Games at Target Field= 3.25 Balls Per Game
- 3 straight Games with at least 1-2 Ball(s) at Target Field
- 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 2:15- 11:38= 9 Hours 23 Minutes