So after spending a full day’s worth of buses, trains, and being part of discussions surrounding the logistics of dropping a baseball from 1,000 feet in the air:
it was time to go to my first Lowell Spinners game ever with Mike Davison–who is in this next picture. If you don’t already know, the reason I was in Lowell because Zack Hample was going to attempt to catch a baseball dropped from 1,000 in the air. As you can probably tell from the date in the title of this entry, that already happened, so if you want to read Zack’s account of the event, here’s the link to that. Well anyway, while an idea as insane as trying to catch a baseball dropped from a helicopter 1,000 feet above ground could only come from Zack, Mike was the logistical mastermind behind the whole stunt itself and making an insane idea a little more feasible and a lot more safe.
So if you watched the video at the beginning of the entry, you will have seen that I ended the video saying we were off to the Lowell Spinners game. Right after that, Mike and I walked from the parking garage to behind the outfield wall. Here is my view as we made our way such:
With the game starting at 7:05 and the stadium itself not opening until 6:00, we decided we would walk around the stadium on the walkway that is right behind the outfield wall and try to get any baseballs that managed to fly out during BP. While I have been right behind the outfield wall at minor league stadiums before, this one felt weird because the walkway was *right* against the outfield wall. So there was really no shot at snagging a baseball on said walkway. The walkway was actually elevated to be at more or less the base of the outfield wall. (I say more or less because while it is a good ten feet above the foresty stuff that is even further out from the outfield wall, Mike, who is 6’5″ had his eyes at the level of the the outfield ground. More on that in a bit.) Anyway, from the walkway, this was my view of the outfield wall:
We walked back and forth on the walkway a few times before we decided to scour the bushes/foresty part below the walkway to see if any baseballs had already been hit there earlier in BP. I found this:
I’m glad that I don’t keep track of minor league stats because ballhawking for me at minor league stadiums feels like such a casual thing that I could have made a serious case for counting this ball. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the foresty area is between the walkway that goes behind the outfield wall and the Merrimack River; so the river is what you see in the background of that last picture.
After scavenging a little more, we decided to head back up to the walkway level, since we had no clue which hitters were up. My first solution to this was I found an area to look into the field through a fence just foul of the foul pole:
The good news was I could see the hitter perfectly. The bad news was I was completely out of position here to snag any baseballs. The solution we eventually came up with was there were holes at the base of the wall in left-center field, so Mike being more than tall enough to see into the stadium through them, he watched to see if there were any decent lefty hitters in the group. If there weren’t we would go into the foresty area (and yes I realize “foresty” isn’t actually a real word) in left field and hope something would fly over the wall. Nothing did. There was actually another guy down there with his two kids. He said that it was one of, if not THE worst BP he had ever seen. He reiterated several times that baseballs usually start to hit off the walls in bunches, and then baseballs start making their way over the wall and walkway. When there was even one lefty with potential to hit a ball over the wall in the group, though, we headed over to right field because there was actually a grassy area at field level that provided room to run for baseballs. However, my first “real” baseball came when we were headed over to this grass area. We were half-way there when I saw something hit into the foresty area out of the corner of my eye. I knew exactly where it had landed, so I went a couple yards down the hill and picked the ball up. I then looked up at the wall and realized how crazy this baseball had been:
Where the ball had landed meant it had to have traveled through a gap between ads that was less than three feet wide. How about that?
I also managed to snag another hit baseball when we got to the grassy area in right field:
I saw the ball the whole way as it became visible over the top of the wall, and so I ran right behind the spot I thought the ball was going to land–since I figured I had no chance to catch it on the fly through the trees–and fielded it like a ground ball.
I waited for a little while longer, but pretty much right after I got this ball, it was time for Mike and I to head to the gate and get in the stadium. Here was the scene at the main gate from across the street. (Can you find Mike?
He kind of photo-bombed me in that I was just taking a picture of the scene at the gates and he posed for the picture across the street.)
After that, we saw something that Mike insisted I include in this entry, and I can only describe as Minor League Baseball at its finest:
If you are in the majority of people who have no clue what’s going on here, the Spinners arranged to have midget wrestling going on outside the gates. Although I will say that it is not even close to the weirdest promotional stunt Mike has ever witnessed at a baseball game. I don’t think I’ll share that one with you, though.
Although we had been *on* the field earlier in the day, it was still nice to see the concourse once we got into the stadium:
It is definitely on the higher end for minor league stadiums at that level of play:
And do you see the pressbox in the background of the right part of the picture? Well there were a couple cool things to be seen on the portion of the concourse that went behind there. The first of which was the former Lowell Spinners who had made it up to the Major Leagues at one point or another. Recognize any names?
And then there was also a view inside the pressbox from the concourse:
This may not seem particularly exciting, but I love the fact that you can just look in there without having to get a special ticket right behind home plate. (I’m looking at you, MLB stadiums.)
As you can probably tell from these pictures, BP had ended by the time we got into the stadium. So instead of going after baseballs, I nonchalantly got a couple of Spinners players to sign the MiLB baseballs I had snagged outside of the stadium:
Do I have any clue who it was that signed the baseballs? No, none. But you never know, so I thought it would be a good idea to get them just in case.
As for the game, this was the view from my ticketed (complementary) seat:
But instead I headed up to the cross-aisle (concourse), and went back and forth the whole game playing foul balls. As it seems every time I play foul balls anywhere, my best opportunity came in the first inning when I had foul ball tracked, but it was headed straight at a man. I waited for the ball to deflect off of him, but to my surprise, he caught it on the fly in a hand that had a cast over it.
It was a Friday fireworks game, so there were a ton more people than usual and the concourse was much more clogged than it usually is. As a result of this and Brian Scalabrine doing several odd-jobs throughout the course of the game, I didn’t get a foul ball the whole game. But I did have a great view of the Lowell sunset:
And then for the first time in a long time, I actually left the game early. It wasn’t my decision to do so, but I was more than okay with it given the logic behind it. Mike said he should probably head out because we both had to get up the next morning at 5:00, so it was probably a good idea for us to head out and into bed. As we entered the Spinners’ garage, I got a picture of the scoreboard from where we would be entering the next morning:
I was actually staying at the Radisson with Zack and the rest of his friends he was bringing up from New York at the Radisson, so Mike was nice enough to drive me over there despite me being awful with my iPhone’s GPS from never having used it before and getting us lost a couple times. I’d say we got to the hotel at 10:30 where Mike dropped me off and headed out to get some sleep. Zack and his car of people weren’t getting in until after midnight, but we were thankfully able to get the reservation changed over successfully whilst they were on the road so I was able to check in. I tried to stay awake and greet them, but I unintentionally fell asleep while on the computer and woke up at 5:17 the next morning only to prepare my self immediately to hopefully document a person catching a baseball dropped from 1,000 feet for the first time in the history of humanity.
You may remember, if you read semi-regularly, that my high school team played at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ stadium fairly recently. If not, here’s the link to the entry. Well, this was now our second game in a season playing at a minor league ballpark. It’s pretty cool to play in a minor league stadium period. To do so twice in a season is fantastic. This time, for those who don’t know where this ballpark is, it was the Staten Island Yankees’ stadium that we would be playing in:
I took that last picture immediately upon entering the stadium, and as you can see there were already players ahead of me. Apparently, we weren’t supposed to have entered. The gate was only open because a local network by the name of MSG Varsity was filming the game and needed to get their cameras in. We were supposed to (and eventually did after we filled out the paperwork that we wouldn’t sue the Yankees if anything happened to us) go to the visitor’s locker room.
The locker room was truly amazing. I know this because I have been to both, but it was close to the quality of a Major League one in terms of appearance, even if it was a little smallish. All the lockers had the names of the players, and the locker room was completely carpeted. Sounds amazing enough for me to take pictures, right? Unfortunately, it was here that I found out I had forgotten my camera’s memory card for the second time in four days. I guess I was freaking out about this, because the following is the extent of my documentation of the locker room:
Fascinating, isn’t it?
Soon after we made our way to the field, I was asked to go up to the booth to help with the pronunciation of names. Here is the view from one of the booths behind the plate:
The arrow in that picture points to the PA announcer’s mic. He was the one I assisted in this particular booth. While I was there, I figured I should probably take a picture of the massive cluster of monitors the SI Yankees people had:
I should also add that they pulled me away when the rest of the team was paying catch, so I was watching the assistant coach who is usually my catch partner and I was glad he found someone else to throw with:
Next, I helped the MSG Varsity announcer with pronunciations in their booth; he’s the one with the red arrow above his head:
After that, I went down, and since the team was done playing catch, I wandered the seats to take a bunch of pictures. I started out by taking a picture with my camera touching the RF foul pole:
moved over to show the dining portion of the seats:
took a picture of the standing room section I would be standing in for most of the night where there was also an MSG Varsity camera present:
showed a view from the seats in foul territory down the first base line:
made sure to take a picture from the closest I could get to being directly behind the plate (I’ll explain later):
took a picture from foul ground on the third base side:
took a picture from as close as I could get to the foul line in LF:
took a picture of the gate 90 degrees to my right (with an arrow pointing at the bus we had driven in that is hidden in this picture):
then took my last “tour” picture of the stairs that lead to this corner of the stadium from the main concourse:
Right after that, I started my day of “snagging”. From now on, the entry will read more like a ballhawking entry.
I found a ball in the seats as I was going back to the dugout:
A St. Raymond’s pitcher was warming up nearby, so I asked him if the ball was theirs and threw it to him when he held out his glove. A few seconds later, I found another ball in the seats and decided to keep this one. Here is a picture of it:
After the National Anthem and opening ceremonies, I went to a second standing room section between the first one I showed you and the dining seats:
St. Raymond’s hitters didn’t hit any foul balls, but our leadoff hitter (who is a switch-hitter batting left-handed) hit a foul ball on the first pitch of his at-bat. Guess who ended up with the ball?
What happened was that the ball went into the concourse behind me, but then bounced off the wall and back into the seats. Here is the picture of the ball that I took when I turned around to show where it came from:
This hitter got out on the very next pitch and the next batter was a righty, so I ran over to the other side of the seats. Just as I was entering the seats, he hit a ball to my right that did the exact same thing as our leadoff hitter’s ball in that it bounced off the wall and back into the seat. Here I have the two baseballs because I hadn’t yet been able to throw the first one back (you couldn’t keep the balls):
Right after I picked up the ball, I heard and then saw three kids running up to the concourse and asking each other, “Where is it?” Do you remember Pat O’Shea from the Pelicans game I went to? Well those were his two younger brothers and younger sister. The sister would stay with her parents, but for the rest of the night, I had a friendly competition with both of the brothers to see who could snag the most baseballs.
My next ball came when a righty sliced a ball down the line. I was playing closer to Home Plate than both of the brothers, so I accepted the fact that they would get the ball. The older one then came back like I expected with a ball. However, this ball was dirty like the ones I had found in the seats before the game started. It was the second inning, so I thought that it should be a pearl still. I ran down the line searching for a ball that matched my description, and what do you know, I found it!
If you’re not keeping track, that was my fifth ball of the game. I would go on to snag two more balls in the game. I can’t remember how I got my sixth ball, but I know that I caught the seventh one on the fly in the standing room section that I mentioned earlier. This beat the older brother by two baseballs, since he snagged 5, while the younger brother snagged 3 at this game. That is all on the snagging front, but I wanted to share a few more things.
1. Here is are the blank standings in the stadium because the SI Yankees’ season doesn’t start until June 16th I believe:
2. Here is a picture from the spot I was standing for most of the night. It is of the MSG Varsity camera man, and I thought the picture was nice-ish:
What do I like most about that picture? The skyline in the background. Here’s a close-up of it:
3. It was a very exciting game, albeit poorly played. The score was tied 1-1 going into the 7th inning (we only play seven innings). St. Raymond’s scored one run off a leadoff double. This meant we would have to score a run in the bottom of the seventh to win. Not only did we score one, but we also scored a second run to win the game, driving in the runs by walking with the bases loaded and hitting a sacrifice fly.