After having experienced something so big I had to write an entire 2,000+ word entry about right before this (Link Here), I went back to LeLacheur Park with Chris Hernandez to go to a Lowell Spinners game. So at about 3:40, here’s where we found ourselves for the second time that day:
The coolest game-related thing actually probably happened the first time we were in the ballpark, though. When I told Chris that the lineup card from the day before had been simply thrown out, he went into the Spinners offices and asked if he could have it. Well…
Another awesome thing is that right after I took the first picture of the entry, I called Jon Boswell, whose title I believe is the Spinners’ Director of Media Relations. Anyway, since he had given Mike and I complimentary tickets right behind home plate the night before, I asked him if I could have a couple for that night’s game. The game was sold-out, but he was still able to swing us a couple of GA tickets. It didn’t really matter where the tickets were for, since I didn’t plan on sitting in my seat at all anyway as there was a cross-aisle to be played. So if for some reason you’re reading this, Jon: thank you very much.
Since the gates didn’t actually open until 5:00 (for a 6:00 start time), Chris and I went into the jungle behind the outfield wall. While out there, we both heard leaves brushing, so we immediately started looking in the area for a baseball. Chris went to the spot where the ball landed, but I found the ball several feet behind its landing spot for my first on the day:
I kind of felt bad about it after the fact, since Chris actually count Minor League baseballs and I don’t. But anyway, the rest of BP was essentially a culmination of why I am really not interested in regularly ballhawking Minor League games at all. I mean if you love it and can do it on an everyday basis, then more power to you, but it is just very boring, and even if there is action, the number of baseballs doesn’t really rely on how good you are at tracking baseballs through the air; it’s reliant on how good you are at eventually finding a baseball that was hit out of the stadium. Even though this was a very sucky BP where essentially nothing went over the wall and it was cut short, it felt too easy when I thought about what would happen if a ball did actually get hit out of the stadium.
Anyway, it soon came time to get in line with Chris. Maybe it was the fact that we were essentially getting in line as they opened for a Minor League game and that we had already done a ton of group pictures that day, but I completely spaced out on getting a picture with Chris anywhere in this process. I did, however, get a picture of the inflatable alligator and stadium itself:
In line, Chris and I agreed that we would take a side of the field and look for easter eggs. Chris said he wanted the right field side of the seats, so I took the left field side. He didn’t find anything, but I went down to the kids’ play area and found this:
I then met up with Chris behind home plate and got one of the two baseballs signed by two Spinners players:
We then relaxed behind the third base dugout essentially until game time. Now while its possible that a Minor League just has an incredibly loyal fan base, you may wonder why a Saturday night game was sold-out. That is because this particular game was Star Wars Night at LeLacheur Park. As a result of that, here was the scene on the field right after the (last of seven) ceremonial first pitch(es) was throw, which started on a hilarious note since there was apparently one less ceremonial first pitch baseball than they needed. (Someone from our group earlier in the day may or may not have seen said first pitch baseballs out in the dugout, and may or may not have taken one of them, so I was cracking up the whole delay.) Anyway, here’s the after-first-pitch picture I took:
Yes, Darth Vader threw out the final “first” pitch. There were a bunch of other cool Star Wars-themed things that happened during the game, but I’ll leave them out, since I could spend a thousand words writing about it. I was in the seats down the third base line with Chris during that picture, but I headed up to the cross-aisle for the first pitch, Chris told me he’d be up there in a bit. And continuing with my trend of first-inning action, I had a foul ball before Chris came up to join me:
I wouldn’t get another chance even at a foul ball until about the seventh inning, when Chris and I decided to leave the stadium to chase them out there instead. Right as we got outside, Chris was telling me something when all I saw was a ball flying out of the corner of my eye. I quickly checked to make sure I wasn’t going to get hit by any cars, and then bolted across the street to get it. Unfortunately I didn’t see another guy–who had been out there the whole game–come out of the corner of my vision. As I slowed up thinking I had no competition for it, he scooped it up.
We then spent the next couple of innings checking the box score of the game on the team website and thinking it wasn’t being updated frequently because we couldn’t believe it was going so slowly. I don’t know what happened, but we legitimately thought the game had to be going into extra innings when it was in all reality it was the eighth inning. We were so convinced that it actually took us going back into the stadium to realize that the Jammers hadn’t made a giant come back, and were actually still about to lose. I headed back out of the stadium when I realized this to try to get a foul ball, but first I took a picture that I thought I’d share for how nice it looks of the press box and behind-home-plate seating:
But anyway, after the game, we headed to Albany, got McDonalds on the way, and stayed at Chris’ girlfriend’s house where I would then stay up to watch the Tim Lincecum no-hitter and we would head out to the Futures Game as well as the Celebrity Softball Game. I actually filmed the last inning of the Lincecum no-hitter, but I never saw the camera I filmed it on after that, and Chris’ girlfriend didn’t find it after that, so that footage is lost.
The day of this game, I found out that the everyone on the team except for those who wanted to go to dinner with parents would be going to the Pelicans game. After arranging for the bus driver (we had been using a Greyhound to get around Myrtle Beach) to take me to the stadium early, I was at the game. It was only sort of early, though. We did aim to get to the stadium the full hour prior to first pitch to be there when the gates open, but got there only about 45 minutes prior since we got lost a couple of times and it isn’t easy to back up a full-length bus.
Long story short, I missed all of bp if there was any. However, there were a couple of players on the field signing, so I got both of them to sign one of my baseballs from the Ripken Experience. If you thought I meant that they were along the warning track signing when I said “on the field”, you are that’s a bit off. When I said “on the field”, I meant literally ON the field. Let me see if this picture will clear things up:
You see? They were actually set up on the field signing for anyone who came up to them, table and all. I have no clue who either are, and it didn’t help that I completely goofed on taking the second player’s picture. Let me explain the circumstances of it before I show the picture. I was taking the picture with my iPhone, and I usually like to keep the brightness on my phone down to save the battery, so I was just pointing the camera at the player and taking the picture. In addition to having a conventional camera, the iPhone also has a camera on the front for self-pictures and video chat. The button that switches between these two cameras is on the touch screen of the phone (you know, the one I couldn’t see). Okay, so I think I’ve explained it enough, here is the picture of the second player:
“Look, Ma, I made it to the minors!”
After that I just wandered around. I had exchanged a few tweets as well as a few comments on this blog with Quinn Imiola, a fellow blogger on the nybisons blog, about possibly meeting up this game. Since I had no idea what he looked like and he knew what I looked like more or less, I just tried to walk around the cross-aisle and make myself visible. Sometimes I got a little bored and went up to talk with the other person that had left on the bus early, a Jesuit Priest from my school by the name of Fr. Sullivan.
When I saw the Pelicans warming up down the right field line, I went over to try to get a ball from them:
While I was down there, though, I had my eye on the ball bag in the bullpen:
Simply because the pitcher that was warming up was taking forever. Finally, after waiting for him to end his throwing session, I went over to the Nationals side of the field, because I figured it would be easier to get a ball from the opposing team due to my fitting attire (I had Nationals gear ready in my backpack).
There I encountered this group of pitchers:
I also saw my competition to my right. A kid was there also decked out in Nationals gear. As I was trying to look through my roster to make sure I knew the players’ names, I saw the player in his red warm-up shirt talking to another in Spanish. He then started walking towards me with a ball in his hands, so I called out to him in Spanish, asking for him to throw me the ball.
He flicked his glove hand up, which if you don’t know is the sign for a fastball. However, he threw it a little low, and since the railing was high at that specific point, I had to reach over so much that I was trying to “snow cone” the ball and it bounced off the tip of my glove and into the bullpen. One of the other bullpen pitchers tossed the ball back to this pitcher after he requested it and I had another shot. This time I moved over to where the railing was about 4-6 inches lower and bent down pretending like I was a catcher. He signaled fastball again and fired a strike right to my glove. Here is the picture of the ball with the pitcher in the background, looking at the camera and starting to give me a thumbs up (you can’t really see that he is giving me a thumbs up, but trust me, he gave me a thumbs up right after I took the picture. It was so soon after that I thought I had it on film):
Any MiLB people read this blog? I have absolutely no idea who it is. He never took off his warm-up the whole game.
Soon after (or before?) I got the ball, my “competition”, aka the kid to my right who was also in Nationals gear, looked at me and said, “Mateo?”. It was Quinn, the person who I referenced at the beginning of the entry! You can read his account of the night here. We spent pretty much the whole game together since we were both in pursuit of foul balls. Here is a picture Quinn’s dad took of us in the during the game:
For those wondering, I don’t have a Rangers shirt, so I tired to at least color coordinate by wearing a blue shirt, so I turned my Cubs shirt inside out as to not show that it was indeed a Cubs shirt.
The game experience itself was mostly categorized under setting up people for them to have their own successes. Before I go into detail on what happened for everyone else during the game, here is the extent of my snagging for the day:
A guy (underneath the red arrow in the picture) just came through the cross-asile with a bucket full of candy and started throwing it into the stands. There were two foul balls hit anywhere near where my spots for standing during at-bats were. The first was a ball that went to my right. I raced after it, but could tell it was going short. It bounced and I can tell you that it was headed right towards my glove, but unfortunately another fan’s pillow blocked the ball and it trickled away where some other fans picked it up. Seriously? Who brings a pillow to a Baseball game?! The next ball was hit and looped perfectly onto the ramp I stood next to all day when righties were up (the ball was hit by a righty). Where was I? Left Field, of course. Since it was the last inning, myself and Quinn decided to go out there and try for a HR ball. I am 95% sure I would have caught that ball on the fly. Like I said, I had been standing within 10 feet of where the ball landed all day.
I would also like to share with you where my ticketed seat was. Here is a picture of my ticket, and I’ll let you guess where it is:
Any guesses where it is? The following picture will show you:
Of course, I didn’t sit there at any point during the game and must have offered the ticket to five people, but they all chose not to take it for one reason or another.
Now that I’ve gone through all that, here is all the other “stuff” that happened during the game:
1. Quinn managed to snag three balls throughout the course of the game. The first, as he told me, came from the same guy that threw me my ball, but it missed Quinn so the catcher tossed him the ball. The next two came from going down to the dugout for third-out balls. I could have competed with him for those, but I was pretty much interested in foul balls, so I let him do his thing down by the dugouts – for those who don’t know, third-out balls are when a team makes the third out, the defensive team usually brings the ball back to the dugout and tosses it to the fans above the dugout. Here is the first of his two dugout balls:
2. I was asked by a Pelicans personnel member to be in a dance-off, but I instead refered them to a Fordham Prep Baseball Player, Alex Porco, and although he didn’t win, he looked like he had fun and the rest of the team that was present certainly had fun with it.
3. I was also asked if I wanted to participate in “Ball Launch”, but refered the people to yet another Fordham Prep player, Michael Goldstock. He enjoyed that, and I believe he got a mini soccer ball from it.
4+5. At the end of the game, I tried to get a ball from the bullpen, so as a result, my some other players stayed back with me as they wanted to see if I’d get a ball. I didn’t. However, two of the players, Paul Pache and Patrick O’Shea, said that they saw the Nationals’ left fielder, and wanted to try to get a ball from him since Patrick had been begging him all day in LF. All the other players, myself included in the bunch, were leaving as this happened, though. We all thought that we were REALLY late for the bus, and were trying to make sure the bus didn’t leave without us. The left fielder came through on giving Pat a ball:
The day, however, was definitely won by Paul as… well, I’ll let the picture speak for itself:
Not only did he get a shirt from the left fielder, but he also managed to get A BAT from him. I don’t care if it was broken, that’s pretty cool. [Just a little note, I thought it was funny that Paul got the bat and Pat got the ball. You know, since Paul rhymes with ball and Pat rhymes with bat]
So even though I myself didn’t do that well snagging wise, it was a good day since so many people were able to come away from the game happy and satisfied. Paul, Pat, and Michael are all my roommates, so I was able to get a picture of all the items collected throughout the day after a really good game (except for the candy. That I ate.):
- Ball that I didn’t mention in the entry that has Splash, the Pelicans’ mascot,’s signature on a ball
- The mini Soccer ball Michael Goldstock acquired.
- The ball I got with the two players’ signatures.
- The awesome bat Paul managed to get.
- A ticket stub that I wanted to use to “complete” the picture.
- The T-Shirt Paul got.
- The ball Pat got from the Nationals’ left fielder.
- The ball I got.
Everyone else who was at the game said it was freezing, but I guess I was too busy having fun to feel the cold. Thus concludes the best Minor League game I have been to so far.