Yet another game, and it was again time to head to the second game of the Athletics series against the Twins at Target Field:
But sadly this would be the definition of my day:
More or less a conglomeration of semi-facetious sadness. The emotion was being caused here by the fact that my ballhawk friends Tony Voda and Paul Kom were inside early for season ticket holder early BP and I was stuck on the outside for the extent of it. That didn’t change my no-custom, though, of going to Gate 3 to actually get in the stadium:
Once I got in, it took me very little time to get Jarrod Parker to toss me a baseball. I then quickly turned and tossed it to one of the kids in the following picture for a reason I don’t remember:
(As I write this, the game happened over three weeks ago, so excuse me for not remembering which of the three kids in the picture I gave it away to.) I then had a lull in terms of snagging, but it was ended when I made my way to the right field bleachers. There I got Chris Young to toss me a ball by being the only one to call him by name:
I’ll spoil a part of this entry right now: I only got toss-ups this game. That said, I went on a mini-toss-up rampage. First I got A.J. Griffin to toss me a ball over a kid who was in front of me. Because I felt kind of bad for how cruel it must have seemed to see a ball be thrown at him but go over his head, I gave it to him:
Additionally, I told him Jerry Blevins’–since Blevins had seen me get the ball from Griffin but not me give it away–name and told him to ask him for a ball. My hope was that Blevins would overthrow him and I would get the ball. And that’s what happened…sort of. Blevins did miss the kid, but it was to his side. If you are not familiar with the right field bleachers at Target Field, they kind of jut out from the wall in right. But that’s not what’s important here. Do you see the flower pots that outline the box that is the “jut?” Well Blevins missed the kid to our right, so the ball went in the flower pots tot the right side of the “box” of the right field seats. And it then kind of went up the flowers. I ran over, picked the ball out of the flowers, and handed the ball to the kid for my fourth ball of the day:
I then figured I had exhausted my toss-up opportunities in right, so I headed to the right-center field seats. This was the best thing I could have done. As I got there, Ariel Prieto–a person listed on the A’s roster as simply “coach”–tossed a ball to a kid that landed a little short. As a result, it landed in the flower pots in front of him. As this happened, I told the kid that I would get the ball for him. So as Prieto watched, I pulled the ball out of the flowers and handed it to the boy:
After he saw me do this, Prieto gave me a thumbs-up, and a very promising gesture: the “I’ll give you the next one” gesture. Only one problem: as Prieto was trying to get a ball, Chip Hale tossed me a ball:
…or so I thought. Even though Prieto saw me get the ball from Hale, he tossed me the second “thank you for giving tha other one away to that kid” ball:
And that was it for the snagging for me on the day. After BP, though, I was on the second deck, and so I gave a ball to a vendor who I had promised one if I got more than a couple. I don’t know which one it was exactly, but here it is:
After which, I talked to an usher by that concession stand. And after talking to him for a while and learning that he is an usher for not only the Twins, but Gopher football and basketball games, I also gave him a ball. Basically, if you haven’t been keeping track, out of the seven balls I snagged, I gave away six.
I then headed down to the dugout to reunite with Tony and Paul, both of whom had been doing very well to that point (seven and eight balls snagged respectively) due to their early admission into the ballpark. They had both never snagged double digits, so I just stepped back while an A’s coach that they identified as Casey Chavez cleared the baseballs out of the bullpen. My hope was Chavez would overthrow one, but I was also perfectly content with my seven baseballs I had snagged to that point. Fortunately for Tony and Paul, Chavez didn’t throw any up, and they both got one step closer to their first ever double-digits games. I don’t know where Tony wandered off to, but I did manage to get this picture of Paul just before he left to go to the dugout and secure his first ever ten-ball performance:
And that’s when the game (read: frustration) commenced. Since I had and would be going to so many games this week, I had to find somewhere to do my reading for my classes. And since I wanted to go for home runs this game, the flag court seemed like the perfect place:
(For the record, that is a Kinesiology book, but the highlights aren’t mine. I always get used books whenever possible and make sure that I get the book in the bookstore with the highest amount of highlighted material that doesn’t look completely arbitrarily in case that person actually knew what they were doing in the class and the highlights could actually help me later on.) Well that was my view when the A’s catcher Stephen Vogt came up in the fourth inning. The A’s had already begun a ridiculous inning, but since Vogt had only hit like three home runs the whole season, I figured I might as well keep reading. And then this happened:
For the record, yes, I was the one in the bright green shirt who just barely missed the ball. As I read a part of my book, I heard the roar of the crowd and then looked up into the air. As I saw a white speck that was clearly headed over my head, I sprinted back as fast as I could. I then turned around right before I knew the ball was going to bounce, but it was three feet over my head and a bit to my left. So then, my only hope was it would bounce off the gate and back to me. But as I turned my head to the gate, there was a guy who was randomly right where the ball was bouncing to. My only hope was that he would drop the ball, but he didn’t.
That particular homer upset me, because I picked the ball up when it was almost at its apex. Had I started running as soon as it was hit, I could have had a ten foot head start and almost definitely could have turned around and caught the ball on the fly. I will say this, though: the homer was an absolute blast. I think it’s the furthest I’ve seen a ball hit on the fly during a game in person out there. That home run also capped off a ten-run fourth inning for the A’s which left the game at 13-1 going into the fifth inning.
Which brings up the next disappointment. I’ll say only two thing about this next clip. 1. I was completely prepared for this ball. 2. I don’t think I misplayed it at all, since it was hit at the same angle as the Vogt home run:
And with that, my day of “excitement” ended.
Oh, but wait…it didn’t. The Twins always have *some* group sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” But when there’s no group lined up, they often just ask people in the flag court if they want to be a part of that. Well since I was already out there, I went ahead and joined in the group:
But since it was September 11th, there was a big deal made of the singing of God Bless America. So big, in fact, that my friend Nick Badders saw me on TV all the way from the Bay Area in California:
Meanwhile, here was my view of the singing of it:
After that, I simply sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and then watched the painful rest of the game.
After the game, I headed to the dugout and managed to get a picture of Tony getting his then-eleventh ball of the game from the dugout attendant, Mario:
And then I just had to capture the magical moment where I was essentially the only person left in the stadium:
Why was I there so late? Because I had to go over to the other side of the stadium where I had entered at Gate 3 because my cup trick had been stopped at the gate by the security guard who checked my bag, citing: “they don’t like those here:”
And with that final “snag” of the night (happening a little after 11:00, since the game had gone four hours despite going only nine innings), I headed out to my bus and a much-needed day off from ballhawking.
- 7 Baseballs at this game (1 pictured because I gave the other 6 away)
- 267 Balls in 57 Games= 4.64 Balls Per Game
- 7 Balls x 24,522 Fans= 171,654 Competition Factor
- 119 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 24 straight Games with 2 Balls
- 21 straight Games with 3 Balls
- 13 straight Games with 4 Balls
- 3 straight Games with 5-6 Balls
- 151 Balls in 31 Games at Target Field= 4.87 Balls Per Game
- 29 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 9 straight Games with at least 2-4 Balls at Target Field
- 3 straight Games with at least 5-6 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:36-11:57= 8 Hours 21 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
It was the beginning of a new era for me:
Walking up to Target Field, the best word I can think of to describe the feeling is surreal. I just could *not* believe I was there again. It defied all logic. Why go to a bad ballhawking stadium for the second time in two years? Target Field is the kind of place you visit to say you’ve been there and then stay away for as long as you can.
Once I got to the gates, two people waved at me. It was just kind of like “Whoa, what’s this?” One I actually recognized from the pictures he had of himself on his blog and that was Paul Kom. You can vaguely see him towards the right of the last picture in the white hat. He leaves comments here as paaoool123.
The second person was Tony Voda. Unlike Paul, I had no idea of his existence until a couple days prior, much less an idea of what he looked like. When Zack Hample announced in his blog that I was going off to Minnesota for college, he was one of the many people who contacted me regarding the fact. He left a comment on this blog saying that he would like to meet up some game.
First of all, I would like to say that when a ball plummeted into the gap outside the stadium between the parking garage and the rest of the walkway, Paul and I just wanted to see where the ball had landed. Meanwhile, Tony was already running after it. Apparently, that gap has Interstate 394 under it. When Tony came back with the ball several minutes later, all three of us took a picture together:
That would be me on the left, Tony in the middle, and Paul on the right.
At the gates, we did two things: awaited any balls that might’ve bounced to the gates (Paul nearly got one), and divvied up where we wanted to go in the stadium. Paul took the Mariners dugout, Tony took the Twins dugout, and I wandered all over the place.
My first stop was the third base foul line:
When I got there, Jesus Montero picked up a ball, and I decked out in Mariners hat and sweater (even though it was really hot), asked him for a ball. For whatever reason, he completely ignored me and tossed it into the outfield seats.
So, I made I stop along the third base foul line seats, but I eventually ended up in left field seats where I ended up getting Jason Vargas to toss me a ball:
At least I think it was Vargas. I stupidly didn’t take notes about this game, so I’m basing everything on memory. Anyway, I then headed over to the “section of death” in right-center field. It’s the section of death to myself and other ballhawks (I have come up with the name, but others have agreed with the sentiment.) because it’s four rows of seats to begin with, and the overhang makes it so you can only really catch a home run in the first row or two. In addition to that, there’s a flower bed in the front of the section which means a player has to be about five-ten feet from the wall for you to ask him for a ball.
Anyway, right as I got there, a player overthrew a kid, and the ball flew into concourse:
I then said that I would give him the next ball I snagged.
A few minutes later, I asked Stephen Pryor for a ball, and when he tossed it to me, I gave it to the kid. His sister then hugged me, which was…unexpected. Just to give you an idea of how the flower beds affect one’s sight, here’s a picture of Pryor standing 60+ feet away from the wall:
See? Unless you want to be talking to a bed of flowers, you either have to hope a ball stops just the perfect distance from the wall, or hope the player doesn’t throw the ball right when they get to the wall.
I then pretty much stayed in the right field seats for the rest of batting practice, where the offensively anemic Mariners didn’t send anything into the stands:
I then met up with Paul in foul ground along the third base line.
From there, we both headed over to the left field seats by the bullpen. At that point, he had snagged four balls. He ended up with seven by the end of the day. But don’t take my word/ account for it, right….here is the link to his entry about the game.
When we were sitting there, I saw the Mariners bullpen coach, Jaime Navarro walking to the bullpen, so I put on my Mariners sweater and hat. Once he was picking up the balls that had been hit there during batting practice, I asked him for one. This was the result:
What I hadn’t noticed was Paul had also stood up and had grabbed his camera. Here is the five-second video he took of me snagging the ball:
Thank you to Paul for that.
As for the game, I won’t really talk about the result, but I’ll say Todd Cook was made happy by it. This was my ticketed seat:
but I decided to stay out here for the majority of the game:
I can’t say for certain, but I think I’ll spend most of my time at Target Field out there.
However, as I suspect will be the norm for most of my time out there, nothing was hit even close to the section. After the game, I met up with both Paul and Tony (who also wrote an entry about the game, whose link can be found right….hiaaaagh.) by the dugouts. We then walked to the exit together before saying our goodbyes. I’ll probably see Tony again, but it was in all likelihood Paul’s last Twins game of the season. Anyway, it was good to get to meet both of them in my first “new” game at Target Field.
- 3 Balls at this game (2 pictured because I gave 1 away)
Numbers 393-395 for my “lifetime”:
- 173 Balls in 42 Games= 4.12 Balls Per Game
- 3 Balls x 29,854 Fans= 89,562 Competition Factor
- 51 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 5 Balls in 3 Games at Target Field= 1.67 Balls Per Game
- 2 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field with at least 1 Ball
- 2 straight Games at Target Field with at least 2 Balls
- Time Spent On Game 4:12- 10:36= 6 Hours 24 Minutes