After going to a anomaly of an April make-up game, it was time to gear up for the Oakland Athletics. When I got to the stadium at a little before 4:30, I first went to Gate 34:
As is usually the case when I go to Gate 34, I came away with nothing–I’ve actually only ever gotten I think one baseball there; I’ve actually snagged just as many baseballs at Gate 3. Speaking of Gate 3, that’s where I went at about 5:10 in order to be the first in line for when the gates open:
I wanted to start doing this because although I’ve snagged an equal amount of baseballs at both gates, the odds of getting one at Gate 34 are much higher than 3. That said, I like going straight to left field when I get inside, so Gate 3 is the clear option for when the gates open. So when the gates opened, that’s just what I did:
Although, can you see the kid all the ay in the corner of the left field seats? Well I got some A’s pitcher to throw me a ball as I was going down the stairs, but because I was turning my backpack around to get something out of it, I wasn’t able to get my glove on properly and dropped the ball. This kid–whose dad and him I actually know and have run into several times–was coming down the stairs right behind me, so when the ball bounced in front of him, he picked it up. I’m friendly with him and his dad, so it was no big deal, but I would have rather snagged the ball myself.
My first ball of the day came in the right-center field seats. I called out to A.J. Griffin to throw me a ball. He did throw it to me, but he threw it over my head by accident. Thankfully, an usher I had just been talking to saw it, and grabbed it before tossing it back to me:
I then remembered that Yoenis Cespedes was in the group, so I headed up to the second deck in left field. Another ballhawk named Mike had the same idea. Well actually he’s usually in the upper deck, but with Cespedes up, he had a better shot of getting a ball up there than usual. Mike actually didn’t think Cespedes would hit a ball up there for the first few rounds. But then one round, he went off. Mike got the first ball:
And then I got one from Cespedes:
I then went back downstairs after this group was done and went over to right field. There, there was one player with his number showing. So when I looked up who number 54 was, I got Sonny Gray to toss me the ball:
I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the first time anyone on mygameballs.com had gotten a ball from him. I always have way more pride about that than most people…which is to say, I care about it at all. There is something that I just love about being the first one in a community of ball-snaggers to get a ball tossed from a specific person.
I then headed to the center field edge of the right-center field section, and got Tom Milone to throw me a ball. But I realized that there was a fan in an A’s shirt right next to me, so I gave him the ball after I snagged it:
And he thanked me profusely. I later ran into him, and apparently he lives in Minnesota but he makes it to Target Field pretty much only for the A’s. But anyway, that was my last baseball of BP. Right after BP finished, I tried to make it to behind the A’s dugout to get a ball from the ball bag, but I was too late. However, a good thing that came of me being at the dugout was that I got the ball Sonny Gray tossed me signed by Dan Straily. I then headed to the bullpen(s) afterwards.
When I went to the bullpen after BP, I got the Twins second bullpen catcher, Ben Richardson, to toss me a ball:
That guy isn’t *really* important; he just turned around right when I was taking the picture. This was also the first baseball of his that had been registered into the mygameballs.com system. I was particularly proud of this one since Richardson had been talked about numerous times between us Minnesota ballhawks. I then stayed seated by the bullpen and thought of things I was going to include in my “Things that have happened since the Pirates last had a winning season” video (which you can watch here, if you’d like):
But I then got to see a weird thing when the A’s got to the bullpen. After the starting pitcher ended his warm-ups and the beginning of the game, the A’s lined up at the pitchers mound in the bullpen:
And they then took turns throwing baseballs toward the plate. The goal–as far as I could tell–was to get the ball on one of the home plates, or as close as possible:
And they then picked up their baseballs and lined up at home plate:
And they then did the same, but with the targets being the pitching rubbers:
They then repeated this a couple times. It was truly bizzare.
The Twins then went ahead and won the game 4-3, and at the end of it, I managed to get a baseball from home plate umpire, CB Buknor for my sixth and final ball of the day:
And so ended the game. As you may have noticed, I once again edited the pictures in my entry. I’ve gotten a mixed reaction as to whether I should keep them, but I also wanted to get the opinion of those of you who have been silent on the matter. So here’s a poll for you guys. If you want to keep the pictures like this , vote yes; if you want the pictures to go back to “normal,” vote no:
- 6 Baseballs at this game (5 pictured because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 701-706 for my lifetime:
- 260 Balls in 56 Games= 4.64 Balls Per Game
- 6 Balls x 26,017 Fans= 156,102 Competition Factor
- 118 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 23 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 20 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 12 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 2 straight Games with 5-6 Balls
- 144 Balls in 30 Games at Target Field= 4.8 Balls Per Game
- 28 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 8 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:45-11:04= 7 Hours 19 Minutes
Having ended my previous game at 693 career baseballs, my goal for this game was to maybe get to 700 career baseballs. At the time gates were opening, though, this was my view at about the time gates were opening:
At this point, I felt as though I maybe wasn’t even going to snag one ball. Let me explain: This game was supposed to take place on April 17. Heck, I was there, if you want to read about it. But the game got rained out before it even began. Anyways, because of it being rescheduled, the game was scheduled to start at 6:10 instead of 7:10. I realized this various times beforehand, but for whatever reason, it didn’t register in my mind that I needed to leave an hour earlier than normal in order to get on time. Well not until half-an-hour before the gates were scheduled to open. Unfortunately, it takes longer than half-an-hour to get to Target Field from my apartment, so when I arrived here, the gates had been open for close to twenty minutes:
(If you can’t tell, I’m trying out editing my photographs to look a little better before I post them in the entries. It might be a one-entry thing, but it might become a regular thing if you guys like it.) But then one of the luckiest things ever happened. Just as I was running towards Gate 34, I saw all of the ticket scanners reacting to *some*thing I couldn’t see. Just then, I saw a baseball bouncing out of the gate. And since I was the only one out in Target Plaza, I walked over and picked it up for my first ball of the day. I’m guessing it was Josh Hamilton, since he was the only lefty in the group, but who knows. I then stupidly didn’t take a picture of the ball outside of the gate, but instead I was so focused on just getting IN to the stadium that I got my bag checked and headed to the right field seats. But then when there was a righty up, I finally took a picture of the presumed Josh Hamilton ball:
And while I was so frantic about not having an awful day ballhawking due to my stupid mistake, it took me a moment to realize how few people were actually at this game. I mean just take a look at this picture of the left field seats that I took:
There were what, maybe fifteen people in the left field seats. While I was thankful for having gotten a ball already, I was frustrated by the thought of how many baseballs I could have snagged had I showed up on time. I mean there would have been a serious chance for me to have broken the Target Field record for baseballs in a game.
I got up to three baseballs pretty quickly because of some Angels coach. I don’t know who he was, but I eventually figured out after the fact that it was either Bobby Knoop or Bill Lachemann. My first ball that he threw me came when he turned around and motioned that he was going to throw the ball to a little girl. Since 1. She wasn’t looking, and 2. She was very small and might not catch the ball, I told whoever the coach was that I would catch the ball for her. And so, he tossed it to me and I immediately gave the ball to her. Here she is with some of her siblings. (They’ll come into play later.)
I then realized the group had changed from Hamilton’s to a group with Mark Trumbo in it, so I headed out to left field. There I met up with Paul Kom, who had been there the whole time, but I hadn’t seen since he was in left field the whole time. (Side note: Paul actually already wrote an entry about this game on his blog, if you’d like to check that out.) I caught up with him since it was the first time I had seen him since the game the day before the day this game was initially supposed to take place. Shortly after that, I convinced Michael Roth to toss me a baseball by being the first person in the stadium to actually know what his name was:
I then headed back to right field for a group that included Kole Calhoun and Hank Conger. When I was there, Calhoun hit a ball a little to my right. I went over a couple feet, put up my glove, and dropped the ball as it hit my glove. If you noticed, I was using my lefty glove for the first time in a long while. In getting ready for the game, Brandon Nedoma told me he had forgotten his glove at home in Wisconsin. So when I finally realized how late I was, I threw my lefty glove in my backpack. What I didn’t realize at the spur of the moment was that my right-handed glove wasn’t in my glove. I only figured this out on the bus. I initially thought I had taken it out of my backpack when I went to the Mall of America with Ben Weil and his fiancé Jen the day before, but I still haven’t found it as I write this on September 22nd, so I suspect I may have left it at the game I went to the day before this when I decided spur-of-the-moment to leave that game at the national anthem. But anyway, I picked the ball up after I dropped it. I then gave the ball away to the brother of the girl I gave the second ball to:
(He’s the one in the blue with the glove.) And then they told me that the second brother in that last picture to the right of the first two kids I had given a ball to. So when I got Buddy Boshers:
to toss me a ball, I turned and tossed it to the kid.
I then headed to left field and met up with Paul and his friend Matt at the bullpen:
I think you can figure out who’s who, but if not, left-to-right it is: Paul, Matt. and myself. And then Paul got a ball at the bullpen (and maybe Matt too?) but I didn’t, so I just had the pleasure of watching the starting pitchers of both teams warming up:
And then I was going to go out to the flag court, but then I saw this crowd in the left field seats at game time:
What ended up happening was I stayed in left field for the whole game because I thought it would be great if I got my 700th ball via game home run. Matt and Paul also stayed with me for most of the game, but not even three minutes after they left to head to the dugout, Josh Hamilton gave me one of the next best things. He hit a double that bounced into the left field bullpen. With Matt and Paul gone, there were only two people in the bleachers who had the situational awareness to go to the bullpen: myself and a person in Angels gear. Now I hadn’t mentioned it yet, but for whatever reason, I had completely forgotten to bring either an Angels shirt or Athletics shirt (which will come into play in my next couple entries). Therefore, it was myself in a neutral blue shirt/University of Minnesota hat and this Angels fan. But as Steve Soliz, the Angels bullpen coach approached the ball, I asked him by name while the Angels fan had no clue what his name was, so Soliz tossed me the ball for my 700th career baseball:
I’m not sure many better scripts could have been written. Anyways, I met up with Paul and Matt soon after, and we walked out of the stadium together. So I first got a second picture with my prized possession of the night:
And then we got a parting picture together:
What a day.
- 7 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 3 away)
Numbers 694-700 for my “career”:
- 254 Balls in 55 Games= 4.62 Balls Per Game
- 7 Balls x 21,826 Fans= 152,782 Competition Factor
- 117 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 22 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 19 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 11 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 138 Balls in 29 Games at Target Field= 4.76 Balls Per Game
- 27 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 7 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 4:04-10:33= 6 Hours 29 Minutes
Well it was time again to go back to Target Field:
It was a weird sensation being at the gate. Despite that I hadn’t been at Target Field for months before the previous game, and my previous game before that anywhere was two weeks prior, sitting there, it felt like I had been going to Target Field everyday for months.
Since I again went to Gate 3, I headed straight for the left field seats:
That said, I got my first ball of the day in the right-center field seats from a a guy I couldn’t identify from the back to ask him for the ball by name, but identified as soon as he turned to throw me the ball as Brian Duensing:
I then saw there was some lefty in the group who was bombing balls. So in preparation for him starting to pull the ball, I headed to the standing room. The first round I was out there, this lefty hit a ball I could tell was falling short of me, but I could also tell it was going to make it to the flag court. There was just one problem: there was a crowd of people where the ball was going to land. So as I was running towards the spot, I yelled out for everyone to watch out. Most everyone cleared out with the exception of one kid. He didn’t know what was going on, so he just stayed in the spot. The ball hit off his shoulder and deflected away from me. As much as I would have liked to have gotten the ball, I didn’t pursue it, but instead just made sure he was okay. Even though he said he was, I pulled the ball I had gotten earlier and gave it to him.
Then, all too soon, this happened:
The Twins finished BP way before they normally do. I can’t remember exactly what time, but the Blue Jays had just gotten out to begin their stretching. At that time, it was a no-brainer for me to head over to foul ground and try to get a ball from the Blue Jays warming up. And when he was done throwing before anyone else, there was a no-brainer as to who I should try to get a ball tossed to me from. This man was Munenori Kawasaki (and he is Japanese):
Anyway, as he was jogging after being done with throwing, there was a wall of Blue Jays fans (this game was the highest concentration of Canadians I had seen outside of Canada since when I had gone to Comerica Park back in 2008 with my dad). But I wanted to say I had gotten a ball from Munenori Kawasaki very badly. So what I did was take a couple steps back on the staircase so he could see me over the heads of the other fans, and projected my request for a ball in Japanese to him loud enough so he would definitely hear me. I first yelled, “Munenori!” And when he looked up at me, I put my glove up and subsequently yelled–and this is phonetically; I have no clue how to actually write it out–” Choh-toh, boh-roh nah-gah-teh coo-dah-sai!” He then tossed me the ball dangerously low over the heads of the other fans. When I caught it, he held up his glove again. He wanted to play catch. I tossed him the ball, and then he realized he was due up in the cage, so he tossed me the ball a second time and headed to go hit. Sure I wish I could have played catch with him longer, but it’s cool to know that he would have kept playing catch had he not had somewhere to go at the moment:
That would be the only baseball I kept on the day. I would snag two more baseballs but gave both away. The first came when I headed to right field for the beginning of the Blue Jays hitters. I don’t know who he is exactly, but the Blue Jay in the next picture fielded a ball by the wall, and myself and the Blue Jays fan in the same picture both asked him for the ball, and he tossed it up. I don’t know who it was intended for since we were both wearing Blue Jays stuff, but since I was on the side closer to the player, even if the ball was intended for the other fan, it came right to me; so I gave the ball to the other fan:
I then realized that Edwin Encarnacion was in that same group, so I headed up to the second deck in left field. And although it was Girl Scout Day, or something along those lines, I managed to avoid all the girl scouts who were there quicker than the other ballhawks up there and got a ball Encarnacion hit almost to dead center in the second deck. It was a shot. Here is the view actually closer to the foul pole than where I picked it up, since I was getting my camera out as I was walking back to my original spot:
But right after I took that picture, one of the chaperones for the girls scouts came and asked if I had gotten the ball. Long story short: I gave the ball to her for her daughter, and that would be my last ball of the game. The rest of BP was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had a baseball game. I just sat in the upper deck in center field not knowing at all what to do next. I usually have a problem running to a section too quickly, but here I had no clue where I wanted to go.
My snag happened during the softball home run derby that sometimes takes place after BP. The other contestants were righties, so I stayed in left for them:
But when TC came up, I knew from experience that he was a power-hitting lefty, so I headed up to the upper deck in right-center. And as a result, I got this:
TC had launched a ball that went into the seats above the small standing room in the upper deck in right-center. But then I felt really bored in the minutes leading up to the game:
And as the player readied themselves for the game, I came to the realization for the first time in a long time at a baseball game: I really didn’t want to be there. There was much work to be done for school since I was going to be only missing the Thursday and Sunday game the next week. And since I had never left a game early yet this year by my own choice, I didn’t fight my instinct, so I left the game to the sound of the national anthem through Gate 34 and went back to “the U” to watch part of Great Gatsby and eat s’mores:
- 4 Baseballs at this Game (1 pictured because I gave 3 away)
Numbers 690-693 for my career:
- 247 Balls in 54 Games= 4.57 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 32,882 Fans=131,528 Competition Factor
- 116 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 21 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 18 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 10 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 131 Balls in 28 Games at Target Field= 4.68 Balls Per Game
- 26 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 6 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 2:20-9:35= 7 Hours 15 Minutes
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
After our adventure the previous night that got us back to Washington past midnight, Chris Hernandez and I got up to get to Philadelphia for BallhawkFest a little later than we wanted to. And so when we should have been playing softball with all of the other BallhawkFest attendees, this was our view:
But thankfully, this was where we were when it came time for the luncheon at McFadden’s:
That would be Chris running behind me alongside the stadium. Thankfully we made the luncheon more or less right after everyone else got there. And the best part was even though we were the last ones to get there, we got our food before anyone else. The luncheon would also result in me getting a Minnesota Twins long-sleeve shirt (thank you, Zack), Cardinals mini home plates, and my 2012 Junior Ballhawk of the Year award certificate.
Then it was time to get to the gates. First a couple of us made the trip over there:
And then a lot more showed up:
Although at this point, we knew the tarp was on the field, so it wasn’t looking good for us snagging. One person in the foreground of that last picture was particularly vocal about a certain streak ending. It was the calm before the storm, though. We waited and took pictures, but I killed most of my time by playing catch with Tim Cook in the street alongside the gate.
When the gates opened, everyone went in while my anxieties about this game compounded. Todd Cook had bought a ticket for me the night prior, and because I had to essentially get up and head to BallhawkFest, I never printed it out. Now at a bunch of places, you can just scan your phone as long as it has the barcode on it, but I learned that here at CBP, you can’t. So while everyone else was in the stadium for a good five minutes, I was getting a printout of my StubHub ticket:
Which was slightly difficult since the ticket was in Todd’s name and not mine. But eventually, I did get int the stadium with everyone else:
When I got in, only two pairs of Braves pitchers were throwing, but I got neither ball. My best shot was to get one from Julio Teheran, but I don’t think he heard me saying that I was a Colombian. My next closest opportunity to getting a ball was when I got David Carpenter to throw me a ball from 100-200 feet away. Unfortunately, though, the ball fell short and he didn’t come to the warning track to pick it up.
If you go back and take a second look at it, you may see something interesting in that last picture. As we waited, the grounds crew came out with the batting cage and screens. So by the time the Phillies came out to throw, the cage was set up and ready to go:
But with the abundance of people wearing Phillies red, it came as not surprise to me that I didn’t get a ball. Despite the fact that I saw there was now going to be batting practice, I was still worried as to how many baseballs I could put on the board. Pretty much everyone else had one or two baseballs at this point, and despite a ton of running and changing shirts that I had done up to this point, which I spared you the details of, I was still at zero baseballs. After I left foul ground, I ran into Ben Weil, and his girlfriend Jen. Ben at this point had two baseballs and was leading the pack. Jen, however, said she was rooting for me. And although I didn’t mean to, I kind of scoffed at that because the way things were going, it felt like I would be lucky to get *a* baseball with all of the competition. Let me explain why. Up to that point, I had been absolutely exhausted by the other ballhawks, because usually during a game with no BP, a ballhawk is the only one smart enough to go to place x. Well during this game, by the time I got to place x, there were 5 other people right on my tail. So after they got there, I had to get creative and think of another place where I could possibly get a ball, but with less competition. The cycle then repeated itself. Turns out, though, Jen had more confidence in me than I did.
Soon after I got into the right field seats, a ball was hit and rolled to the wall. Rick Sporcic was also in the right field seats. And although he was occupied with a baseball further towards center field, I hurried up and got my (read: Tim Anderson’s) cup trick out to pick up the ball, because I had heard he was good with his retriever. By the time I had gotten my ball, though, he was still trying to get his from in front of the wall. My guess is the right field wall is much taller than the left field wall in Pittsburgh, so he wasn’t used to it and his retrieving skills were slowed down as a result. Anyway, I didn’t get a picture since I was in a hurry to get the ball, but here’s a picture that’ll show you where I got the ball:
The place I took that picture from also happens to be where I got my second ball of the day. I leaned over the wall to see if a ball I had spotted from right field was cup trick-able, and just as I realized it wasn’t, Joe Savery came over to pick up that and another ball. He tossed the ball I was eying to a kid next to me and the other to me:
I know Ben was right next to me, since he also came over to see if he could cup trick the ball, but I don’t think he got a ball tossed up to him then. I actually don’t know if he got another ball for the rest of BP.
After getting that ball, I headed to straight-away left field to try to get a hit ball. It was a zoo:
I mean forget all of the people in general, just look at the ballhawks who were right behind me:
Had I not misjudged several home runs, I could have been up to 4 or 5 baseballs for the day after my time in right field. But instead I spent the rest of my BP getting punked by the Phillie grounds crew chalk dispenser:
Most teams use a cart-type thing to apply the chalked foul lines, but the Phillies instead use this thing where they pond to red side part with the mallet that is a mini-bat with a baseball at the end to apply the chalked line. Unfortunately, it looked from left field like there was a baseball sitting on the warning track in foul territory. So I ran all the way over to find out that this could in fact not be snagged.
The closest I came to snagging another baseball was when a ball rolled to the wall in left field, I ran over to where it was, and was about to pull out the cup trick when a Phillies player picked the ball up and threw it into the stands. Little did I know, but had I been a little quicker to the ball, I could have had the outright lead at the end of BallhawkFest.
How did this happen? Well after BP ended, I went to take a group picture in center field:
And then wnet behind the dugout. Since this was *Ballhawk*Fest, I expected there to be at least one other person joining me behind the Braves dugout before the game, but they just never came. So when the Braves came out to throw, I was one of the few people in Braves gear behind the dugout. Using this, I first got Chris Johnson to throw me a ball. His throw was a bit high, so it tipped off the top of my glove, bounced in the row behind me, and I had to run for it to just beat out a man who was also going for it. He was so close to it that I gave him the ball. It was only after I took the picture of him that I realized he already had a baseball (D’oh):
So since I had grabbed the ball before I gave it to him, that was ball number 3 for me on the day. Ball number 4 took no time at all after that. I’m not sure if he had seen me miss the Johnson toss-up, but when Justin Upton came in from throwing with his baseball, I screamed his name, and just like Johnson, he scanned the crowd as if searching for a little kid who deserved it more before settling for tossing the baseball to me:
I say I wonder if he saw the Johnson toss-up tip off of my glove, because I his line of sight when he was tossing with his brother BJ was slightly off of me, but it’s possible that he just tossed me the ball to give me a second chance. Oh well; who knows?
Then once the game started, I moved over one staircase to be on the right staircase for a third-out ball. It was after the top of the first inning that I saw Ben come down into that same section, so I moved down to join him. One out later, Jen joined us. So the plan at the third out was all three of us were going to go down for the third-out ball and odds are one of us would get it. Well it turns out it wasn’t just us, but Quinn Imiola (who you may remember from this entry if you’ve been reading the blog for a couple years, and whose birthday it was that day–as was announced by his dad at the luncheon in a hilarious/purely-“dad” way.) had gotten past the guard at the top of the steps right before the third out and also tried for the third-out ball. As it turned out, with all of those people there, Freddie Freeman lofted the ball right to me. As we returned to our seats, where we all went into the same row, we were apparently suspicious-looking enough with the culmination of all four of us going down for the ball and Quinn going back to a different seat than the one he had gotten out of to go for the third-out ball that the usher who had come down from the top of the steps asked to see all of our tickets. Ben and Jen actually had a ticket (it just wasn’t on that aisle), but Quinn and I didn’t have a ticket for the section at all. So the usher kicked Quinn and myself out of the section completely, telling us that he better not see us back there for the rest of the game, and asked Ben and Jen to go to their actual seats in the middle of the row–which Ben had no interest in doing. So as the rest of the group pondered where they would go, I took the picture of the Freeman ball:
The conversation eventually lead to us wandering towards left field, where the other three would eventually sneak down into, and I would continue onto right field, where I actually had a ticket for:
After a few innings of being there, I got a tweet from Harrison Tishler (who already published an entry about this game/day that you should check out) asking if he could join me. When I said yes, he and his parents were there within half-an-inning:
It was almost as if I was a ballhawk magnet, because after that, the Cooks arrived as well as Quinn and Alan Schuster, the organizer of the whole event and founder/webmaster of mygameballs.com, the site that’s the reason this event even exists:
And soon after that, Zack Hample, Ben Weil, and Chris Hernandez also came to the same section (although the other staircase). I should mention that this was a slow process, though. The game lasted 12 innings, so all of these arrivals weren’t within a half-inning of each other. The highlight of most of this slow-ish game besides talking to all of these fun and cool people I don’t get to see on a regular basis was taking an unintentionally-artsy picture of the scoreboard:
It was my initial plan to go to the bullpen after the game, but with so many other ballhawks now converged around it, when the Braves scored a run in the top of the 12th, I headed to the Braves dugout. However, as I exited the right field seats, I got a call from Zack. I thought it was weird right away because he rarely calls me outside of a baseball game; much less *during* a game itself. Turns out he had gotten kicked out of the stadium by security because of the escalation of an incident that he had with them after he had caught John Mayberry Jr.’s home run earlier in the game. I feel like I was a bad friend for what I did, but I figured Zack as “king of ballhawks” would understand as I got Ben to call him and handle the situation as I ran to the dugout. I figure Zack would have done the same thing with me. (Aren’t I so good at justifying my actions to myself?)
Quinn also came down to the dugout after the game, and as I went for the umpire ball–where the umpire ended up talking to a family for about ten minutes after the game, and giving them his last extra baseball, Quinn got Craig Kimbrel to toss him the ball he had recorded the save with. Not a bad birthday present, eh? Here he is in his Braves gear with his parents to the right of the frame:
For the record, I know the names of all of the parents, but I don’t know if they want their names out there. I actually met Quinn’s parents the day I met Quinn in South Carolina. Anyway, we were being told to clear out of the section, so that’s why Quinn is a little blurry.
I then got a text from Ben saying to meet outside the third base gate. When we got there we saw Zack, but the group who had stayed in right field were still not there. Eventually they did get there and Zack got to tell the story of his ejection about fifteen times:
After that, the plan was to get a parting group picture. As we set up for that, I got a panoramic picture of all of the ballhawks mingling:
And here was the final group picture:
In talking to everyone, it turned out that Jeremy Evens (in yellow), the Cooks, and I had all tied for the lead at 5 baseballs a piece. If you remember the first BallhawkFest in 2011, I was tied with Zack for the lead at I believe 7 baseballs. So I have never gone to a BallhawkFest where I didn’t have a share of the lead. And I probably just jinxed any chance of doing so next year’s BallhawkFest.
I then headed off with the Cooks in their car to the 30th Street Station, but not before taking a look at the Veterans Stadium field in the parking lot and getting one last shot of the stadium:
And so concluded one of the funner days of my life. While I wish I could have made it for the full experience, I had a blast and will be sure to try my hardest to be there for next season’s festivities, wherever it may be. (Insider’s hint: It may be the closest to home a BallhawkFest has ever been for me.) Thank you to everyone who made and keeps making this event what it is. The reason I constantly recommend it to people is because while it may be a tough event snagging-wise, it is a truly unique phenomenon that is something really special as well.
- 5 Balls at this Game (4 pictured because I gave 1 away. And apparently lost my Phillies hat somewhere along the line as well.)
Numbers 606-610 for my career:
- 164 Balls in 41 Games= 4.00 Balls Per Game
- 5 Balls x 41,161 Fans=205,805 Competition Factor
- 103 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 8 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 5 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 4 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 2 straight Games with 5 balls
- 12 Balls in 3 Games at CBP= 4.00 Balls Per Game
- 3 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at CBP
- 2 straight Games with at least 2-5 Balls at CBP
- Time Spent On Game 10:07-3:25= 17 Hours 18 Minutes
First of all, before I get started, I forgot to tell all of you that the BallhawkFest video I did a while ago came with it’s fair share of bloopers, so here’s that video:
It’s unlisted, so you can see it here, but the only other place to see it is I’ll have an annotation for it in the main BallhawkFest video.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s your semi-regularly-scheduled entry. Well actually, while we’re posting videos up here, I made a Before The Gates Open video for here. Yes, I coming back with this video series in 2013, re-doing all the stadiums I did last year and any new ones I visit this year. (Except for the Cell because those two games I went to the weekend prior to this game were probably the last I’ll be there this season.) But anyway, without further ado, here is the 2013 version of Before The Gates Open- Target Field:
Click here to go to that video, since it’s being stupid and doesn’t want to embed on this page.
After that, Sean and I stood in line and waited for the gates to finally open:
Once we got in the gates, it was Sean and not I who snagged the first baseball. See Sean had been in contact with either Hector Santiago or Brian Omogrosso—I can’t remember which— on Twitter and had gotten whoever it was to follow him. He had also asked the player if the player could toss Sean a ball at the game later on. When Sean asked him for a ball, the player recognized him and obliged his request:
He then rubbed the fact that he had snagged infinitely more baseballs at this game than I had for the next five to ten minutes. But, being Sean, that was his day of ballhawking as he went and got food soon after that.
While he was gone eating, I was snagging. The first ball I got was in right-center field. When a ball rolled to the wall, I got Matt Thorton to toss me my first ball of the game:
After I got this ball, I headed to the back of the section I was in and gave the ball to the usher instructing him to give the ball away to the next kid with a glove he saw.
I then headed out to the standing room for one reason: Adam Dunn was hitting. Just as I got there Dunn put a ball right in the middle of the triangle created by Gate 34, the program vendor, and the beer stand in the following picture:
(Normally I would draw an arrow for you, but I’m writing this entry on my phone.) I chased after this ball, but it bounced outside of the gate, so I couldn’t pursue it any further. After I gave up on the chase, I went back to the flag pole of the American flag. A few pitches later, Dunn launched a ball almost directly at me. I took a couple steps forward before I saw a man in front of me in the wheelchair section reaching up for the ball with his hand. Since I’ve narrowly missed getting clocked by a couple deflections, so I simply put my glove where the ball would go with no deflection and turned my face away from the ball. Thankfully the guy completely whiffed and the ball landed in my glove:
Given that I’m one of—if not THE worst ballhawks I’ve seen in the outfield at judging fly balls, this was a nice proud moment for me. Unfortunately it would be my last ball of batting practice. I would head off to left field after that, and had an open row to run:
But everything that cleared the wall was going in the first two rows. There was also room deeper in the section:
But of course it pretty much takes a line drive to reach back there, so it’s not a great place in general. Fast-forward to after batting practice, Sean and I met up with one of his dorm room floor friends, Mikey in left field. Mikey—like most sane people—got to the game after batting practice given the fact that it was 99 degrees. We then decided that all three of us needed to document our group with each of us taking a different form of social media. Sean took Vine, Mikey took Snapchat, and I picked putting the picture of this blog:
When the White Sox coaches came to the bullpen, I headed over there to try to get a ball from them as they cleared the balls that had gone in there during batting practice. Then, I got a ball from the back-up bullpen catcher, whose name I don’t know, tossed me one of the the baseballs in the bullpen:
We then stayed in left field for a couple innings until the seats got crowded. Sean and Mikey then went to seats in third base foul ground, and I headed out to the standing room in right field:
I don’t need to sit when I have a view like that. Of course no one hit a ball anywhere near me, but it was a nice game to watch.
At the end of the game I headed down to the umpire tunnel and got a ball from home plate umpire Jordan Baker for my fourth and final ball of the game:
So yeah. Overall a fun day at the ballpark. I would then meet Mikey and Sean, and we would head out of the stadium and back to campus where Sean and I would say goodbye until probably September as I would spend the next two days preparing for my final on Friday, which I would still find a way to not do that well on.
- 4 Baseballs at this Game (3 shown because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 509-512 for my career:
- 66 Balls in 14 Games= 4.71 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 32,023 Fans(Nice palindromic attendance number)= 128,092 Competition Factor
- 76 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 3 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 117 Balls in 26 Games at Target Field= 4.5 Balls Per Game
- 24 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 4 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:32-10:47= 7 Hours 15 Minutes
A normal person would come back from a weekend trip to Chicago where he had attended baseball games each day of the trip and relax for the rest of the day. I am not a normal person. No; when Sean dropped me off at my dorm from Chicago at 2:30, I immediately started readying myself to go see the White Sox in action for the third straight day. This time against the Twins at Target Field:
I’m holding up four fingers because this was now my fourth game in a row despite the fact that I had traveled about 800 miles by car in those four days. The look is because I had no idea how this was going to pan-out for me. I’m glad to say now that it went well.
The day started off on a great note when a program vendor came down the steps to hand a ball to a kid. I had gotten to know this kid and his dad pretty well over this year since they also try snagging baseballs and I had given the son a couple tips during the Angels series. Anyway, right after she handed him a ball, I noticed she had another ball in her hand. I then asked her if she could give me that ball, which she then did for my first ball of the game before I even entered the gate:
With that snag, I had now snagged as many baseballs outside of Gate 3 as I have outside of Gate 34, which is ironically held as the far-superior gate for snagging baseballs before it opens.
Once I got in, I made a beeline for the left field seats and managed to misplay the only ball that I possibly could have gotten. I actually didn’t end up getting any baseballs until the White Sox started hitting and I headed out to right-center field. There, I got Matt Lindstrom to toss me what was probably the hardest thrown toss-up I’ve ever received despite the fact that he was about twenty feet below me:
Somewhere prior to this game, I messed up my ball count, so I thought that the ball I had gotten outside the gate was my 500th career ball (which I kind of regretted at the time), but after the fact, I realized that this ball Lindstrom had just tossed me was my 500th. Anyway, the point is that even though I got
I then headed back over to left field. The reason was because a new group came up who consisted of White Sox lefties who I didn’t think could hit anything over the wall was coming up, and since groups usually spend the first round or two of BP hitting the ball to the opposite field, I thought I should head over there and play for toss-ups. Ironically, though, my next ball was hit. See I was playing almost all the way down the line by the left field foul pole to try to get Jose Quintana to toss me a ball using our Colombian connection when Dewayne Wise hit a ball that I could tell was going to both fall short and to the right of where I was standing. However I knew that with its trajectory, the ball was headed for the warning track, where it could then hop up over the wall. My first instinct was to catch it directly on the bounce, but I reached as far to my right over a railing and still came up short. The ball then landed in the camera well right by the foul pole. I knew I probably wasn’t allowed there, so I hesitated for a good ten seconds before opening the latch up, quickly grabbing the ball and getting out with my third ball of the day:
I then headed over to right field because I knew that a couple of the White Sox players had seen me get the ball, and got Nate Jones to toss me a ball. I didn’t know his name, so I just went with the generic “Can you toss me the ball, please?” At which point he looked up, saw my White Sox hat, and tossed me the ball:
I turned to my right and gave the ball to the first kid I spotted with a glove on. I then headed back to left field, because I figured I could get a ball from a pitcher who was patrolling left-center field.
Turns out I was right and got a ball from Jesse Crain pretty quickly after I got down there:
That would be it for batting practice itself, but as I was in left field foul ground just as batting practice ended, I ran to the White Sox dugout just as the ball basket was being brought to the dugout. As he was doing so, Mark Salas tossed a ball randomly into the seats behind the dugout, and I managed to be the first one to run and get it:
As you can maybe tell from the picture, the White Sox then took fielding practice. I believe they are one of two teams I have ever seen do it after BP, but I have seen them do it multiple times.
After they went through fielding practice, the coaches returned to the dugout. I had assumed Salas had seen me get the ball, so I didn’t ask him for one of the baseballs he was carrying, but when I made eye contact with him, he tossed me a baseball without me even asking for my seventh on the day:
As for the game, I started out behind the dugout:
But that only lasted two innings when I realized Alexei Ramirez wasn’t going to toss me a baseball and that it would be cool to snag a game home run at Target Field before I headed back to New York. Long story short: I didn’t snag anything during the game and was at 7 baseballs for the day when the game ended. That said, when it ended, I first got a ball from home plate umpire, Manny Gonzalez because I was the only one who even had a clue what his name was at the dugout (he didn’t even toss any of his other baseballs up, but said “Here you go,” when I asked him for a ball by name:
If you wonder why I never have the umpire in the pictures with the balls I snag from them, it’s because by the time I snag the baseball and pull out my phone to take the picture, the umpire has already walked through the tunnel. The same goes with any player/coach headed who tosses me a baseball on his way to the dugout. Such was the case with my next ball. Let me just preface it with a bit of back-story from the game. Aaron Hicks, who was touted as a super-prospect at the beginning of the year but had been doing absolutely dismal up until this game, (And by dismal, I mean that he was hitting below .100 a majority of the season leading up to this game and was still below .150 at the beginning of this game) had the game of his young career. First Mr. Hicks hit a home run into the batter’s eye in center field. He then proceeded to rob Adam Dunn of a home run en route to hitting a second home run. Despite the fact that he had been getting booed constantly by Twins fans–who are not prone at all to booing players–he was called out for the first standing ovation at Target Field since Jim Thome. An ovation, which I can imagine I looked very strange giving since I was wearing a White Sox hat. Why am I telling you all this? (Besides the fact that I can now brag about being at Aaron Hicks’ first truly great game.) It’s because both of Hicks’ home runs made their way into the White Sox bullpen, where I didn’t see either get tossed up into the crowd. My ninth ball of the day came from Addison Reed, a reliever, who had obviously come from the bullpen. He rolled the ball to me over the dugout roof:
And without even considering the possibility that the ball could have been one of Hicks’ home runs, I gave the ball away to a kid on my right:
So yeah. There’s a chance I gave away a home run ball. Granted it wouldn’t have counted in my “stats” as a game home run ball even if I were certain it was the ball, but it would have been so awesome to say that I owned one of Aaron Hicks’ home runs from his first two-home run game. Actually, I take that back, this was Aaron Hick’s first two-hit game ever, so it would have been even cooler. But as is the case with how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
However, I didn’t stumble onto that possibility until after the game, at this point I was focused on one thing: snag my tenth baseball of the game. Only one person ever (Zack Hample) had snagged over ten baseballs at Target Field ever (12). And with him having snagged half of those before the public was even allowed into the stadium, with a tenth ball, I could say that I had snagged the most baseballs at Target Field ever after the gates of the stadium opened. Well I guess I could already have said that, but there’s something special about going double-digits. I had only ever done it at Nationals Park and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, so doing it at a much tougher stadium would have been an affirmation of sorts after doing terribly over the weekend at U.S. Cellular. There was just one problem: all of the players and coaches had left the field and were already in the clubhouse. That’s where what I most appreciate in Minnesota away from New York comes into play: I would have been kicked out of the section the second the White Sox bullpen people went into the dugout. Actually, there’s a chance I would have been even earlier. Here in Minnesota, you can stay behind the dugout pretty much until the ushers themselves have to leave. In staying there, I managed to see the dugout/clubhouse attendant, Mario, pop his head out of the dugout. He recognized me by this point in the season and obviously was looking for kids to give a baseball to and not me, but given the fact that pretty much all other fans had left the section, I asked him if he had an extra baseball, and he then tossed me my tenth ball of the day:
It felt so good I immediately felt the need to brag about it to someone and told an usher in the section that I have come to know. She knows I snag baseballs regularly, but even she was impressed when I told her how many baseballs I snagged that night. That night I went home happy and full of thoughts of what I could do if I went to a stadium where I wouldn’t have to get 9 baseballs tossed to me to make double-digits.
- 10 Baseballs at this Game:
- 62 Balls in 13 Games= 4.77 Balls Per Game
- 10 Balls x 25,605 Fans= 256,050 Competition Factor
- 75 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 2 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 113 Balls in 25 Games at Target Field= 4.52 Balls Per Game
- 23 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 3 straight Games with at least 2-4 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:26-11:52= 8 Hours 26 Minutes