In the spring of 2014 I really didn’t go to that many baseball games. With the combination of school and a newly-found internship with the NASL soccer team, Minnesota United FC, it wasn’t necessarily that there weren’t any six-hour blocks of time open in my schedule, but that I didn’t feel like I had time to deal with the peripheral time commitment that came with it. Doing the whole ballhawking-blogging-life thing can wear someone out. I applaud the people such as Alex Kopp and many others who can make this world part of their everyday life by working extra-hard in other aspects to accomodate it, but at this point in my life, I felt like other things needed to take precedent over attending baseball games and writing about them.
However, on one Tuesday, I left my internship in Golden Valley, Minnesota, I had to transfer buses to get back home. This transfer had me walking right here:
It took me right past Target Field’s Gate 34. At this point it was 6:30 and I had missed all of batting practice, but for some odd reason, I had brought my glove in my backpack to my internship (I seriously did not remember putting it in there). It was Jackie Robinson Day and I made the rash decision to go to the game and not care about my consecutive ball streak anymore. I had been saying to people for a while that once my streak reached 100 games, I wouldn’t care anymore. (I was at 127 coming into this game.) I had just seen what similar streaks had done to other ballhawks’ level of enjoyment at games and I didn’t want to deal with the pressure of keeping up the streak at every game I attended. However, some ballhawks, (namely Ben Weil) didn’t believe me, saying that I would still care no matter what. What he didn’t know was that I will be stubborn enough to prove my point in the face of disbelief regardless of underlying truth. With that, I walked into a game with a very slim chance of getting a baseball, fully expecting to get shut out for the sake of celebrating Jackie Robinson Day for the second year in a row at Target Field:
After entering, I headed to left field to get some evidence that it was actually Jackie Robinson Day:
And then listened to “Oh Canada” from there (since we were playing the Blue Jays):
And then I kind of stayed in that spot for most of the rest of the game (because it was cold and I had fallen in a creek earlier that day(true story) leaving my sneakers still wet) and sat under the heating lamps to stay even mildly warm. I kind of explored, but only about a fifty foot radius from that spot:
Anyways…I’ll spoil the surprise for you a little: Had I gone to this game and not snagged anything, I wouldn’t have bothered putting together the pictures into a full entry, unless something not-snagging-related happened during the game. I would have just written a one-paragraph summary of the game, or even nothing at all and gone on with my life. So yeah… I snagged an umpire ball at the end of the game.
But first, I went down to the left field seats once the frozen people that just weren’t having the game cleared out:
And when I say “cleared out,” I do mean that there were very few people left:
It wasn’t even just the left field seats either. The whole stadium had given up on the game with the Twins trailing 9-2 in the ninth inning:
The reason then that I picked the aisle between sections 129 and 130 with most of the ballpark empty was due to a connection to that staircase. Two season prior, I had gotten a Trevor Plouffe home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off of that staircase. And while ESPN’s hit tracker says that I would be smarter playing one section closer to center field, I’ve always liked that staircase for the illusion it creates of having more room to run.
Naturally, when Trevor Plouffe came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, I was recreating my first home run in my head. Expect in this imaginary world making up for the fact that I started that home run with my glove off and didn’t catch it cleanly as a result. Well I knew that was unlikely, but then this happened:
For the record, I am the one in the blue sweater that you see going about five feet into the section before climbing the bleachers. And here was the result:
I will admit that half of me first going into the section before going up was just me not expecting the ball to carry that far in the cold April air. But the other part was that I thought it was going to bounce back down the bleachers once it hit (which it did) and have me see the ball bounce back down to someone that was below at the height in the seats where I had started the play. (A similar thing has happened to me before and it sucks.)
Here is the ball with the spot where I ended up picking up the ball in the background:
The girls to the left of glove you may be able to identify in the video from them staying put and not moving until I was already climbing the seats to get to the ball.
At that point, I knew there was not going to be another home run, so I headed to the dugout area, got a ball from home plate umpire, Eric Cooper:
And went home a little warmer because I had my second ever career home run with me. I would have been probably made miserable by the cold otherwise, but the happiness I had kept it bearable. Both of which have been Trevor Plouffe home runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Another day, another beautiful game at Target Field. And this time, I had company:
That would be myself on the right underneath the “Gate 34” sign and my friend Jonathan on the left. If Jonathan seems familiar, it’s because he’s filmed a couple of videos for me, and thus ended up in a couple Behind the Scenes and Blooper videos, but he also had joined me for exactly one game prior to this one. That game would be the one where I snagged my one–and to this point only–game home run off the bat of Trevor Plouffe. So, if you feel like clicking on the picture and zooming in, that’s why I’m crossing my fingers in the picture, because I was hoping he would be my good luck charm once again.
He wasn’t the only one with me at the gates, though. The photo credit for that picture goes to Tony Voda (who actually has an entry written about this very game that you should check out by clicking here. Don’t worry, I made it so the link opens in a separate tab/window). I was going to take a picture (Well, more specifically, have Jonathan take a picture) of the two of us, but he suggested we take the picture when Paul Kom (who also wrote an entry about this game)arriveth to the gates. Well Paul eventually arrived, but to a different side of the gates than we thought we would see him on:
If you’re new to this blog or are just unfamiliar with the two, that would be Tony on the right bowing his head in shame and Paul on the other side of the gates taking a picture of us outsiders. He was enjoying this moment way too much, though. Check it out:
Oh, Paul. He had gotten free tickets, so that’s why he was at this game. Those tickets happened to be a part of a 20-game plan, so Paul checked to see if those tickets could get him into the gates early. As you can tell, he was right. This lead to Tony–who owns a 20-game plan–questioning whether he could get in the gates too, and…well…see for yourself:
Yeah, so there was that. Unfortunately for them, there was no batting practice (Ha ha) going on at the time, so they were still on a level playing field with me when I got in the gates. Paul, however, used the extra time before the gates formally opened to get positioning and snag the first baseball of any of us. The next person to snag a baseball, however, was a very unlikely one:
That’s right. Jonathan managed to pick up a Mike Trout home run that landed in the seats. Remember how I said in the last entry that struggling with the hit ball can be frustrating in two ways: either not many baseballs are reaching the stands or you’re misjudging them? Yes? No? Well for only the second time this season, baseballs actually were reaching the stands, but I was just flat-out misjudging them. If I went down two rows on my initial read, the ball was flying over my head; if I backed up on the ball, it died a couple rows in front of me.
In just giving up on chasing home run baseballs for the first round of the Angels’ second BP group, I headed over to foul territory to try to get a ball from the pitchers warming up. When I got there, I immediately knew which pitcher I was going to try to get a ball from. I have mentioned it a couple of times, but just to refresh who didn’t read the entries in which I mentioned it: I am adopted from Colombia. So, given this fact, my obvious target for a toss-up was the Angels’ Colombian-born closer, Ernesto “Ernasty/Ernie/E-Money” Frieri. As I got in position to get a ball from Frieri, though, I saw two guys to my left looking towards me in a really weird way. They then looked slightly past my feet in that same weird way. I looked to my right and saw there was a baseball that lay there completely untouched. I grabbed it and then handed it to one of the guys, since I wouldn’t have gotten the ball had he not semi-pointed it out to me.
After this I asked Ernesto Frieri for a ball once he was done throwing by using the phrase: “Una pelota para un Colombiano?” It translates to: “A ball for a Colombian?” He turned out of the crouch he had been receiving the pitches from his throwing partner from and tossed me the ball. He then proceeded to do something that has never happened before: he followed his toss and walked up to me. He asked me a bunch of questions and we ended up having a five-minute conversation consisting of nothing but him asking me questions about my life. It was a pretty awesome experience. At the end of it, he told me (even though I didn’t ask) that he can’t sign anything during batting practice itself because he would get fined, so that I should find him after batting practice. It was okay with me, though, because I don’t care excessively about autographs. What I did ask from him is if he could take a picture with me, and, well:
A great experience to say the least.
It however did negatively affect my snagging experience, because due to my natural paranoia, I didn’t want him to see/hear me asking any other players for baseballs because he might think that I just made up that I was Colombian to get a ball from him, which isn’t true. Before I got to that, though, I managed to snag my third baseball of the day. I saw a baseball on the ground, just out of my reach. Normally I would have just reached out and grabbed it, but since there was a police officer not more than twenty feet away, I asked him if I could get the ball for a couple to my left (since I had just gotten the ball from Frieri pretty much a couple seconds prior). He tossed me the ball, and I then promptly handed the ball to the wife/girlfriend half. Here’s where the ball was:
And here is the couple–who thanked me multiple times–I gave the ball away to:
I then went cold for a very long portion of batting practice. My next ball came in the right-center field section of seats. When I headed over there, I saw a person who I couldn’t recognize the first batting practice of the series, but because he had entered that previous game, I knew it was Garrett Richards. Once I identified the player as Garrett Richards, I asked him for a ball and him toss it to me for my fourth ball of the day. Here’s a general idea of how he tossed me the baseball:
That would be my last ball of batting practice. After batting practice Tony and I met up at the bullpens:
(Yeah, I have no idea what I’m doing there either.) Almost immediately as I got there, though, I noticed a person clearing the baseballs in the batter’s eye, so I quickly excused myself from the conversation I was having with Tony, ran over to the corner spot in the right-center field seating(right above the flowers in the picture above), and shouted at the groundskeeper to get his attention. The result was my fifth ball of the day. At that point Tony had snagged three baseballs, so here he is conveying that fact:
(You can see the corner spot itself in this picture above and to the left of Tony’s head and the 96.3 K-Twin ad.) And at this point I didn’t know how many baseballs I had snagged, but I knew it was either four or five. See, I just keep track of how many baseballs I give away, let the pictures I take remind me of how I snagged the baseballs, and then add the number of baseballs I have given away to the number of baseballs I have in my backpack to figure out my total. Anyway, here I am conveying my uncertainty, with Tony giving his thought on the matter?
For the game, I stayed out in the right field standing room, where this was my view:
I would have taken a lot more pictures of the game, but I had lost my gloves earlier in the week and despite the sun showing itself for stints during this game, it was still cold enough that I didn’t want my hand constantly exposed to the cold. Instead I just leaned against the original Metropolitan Stadium flagpole with my hands in my sweater pockets:
I did, however get one picture that I think is kind of nice of the view behind me as the sun was setting:
Nothing came even close to going out to right field, but I got down to the dugout just as the game ended and managed to snag a baseball from home plate umpire, Paul Nauert:
After that, I headed over to the other side of the dugout and got Steve Soliz to toss me a ball for my seventh day. I then got Jonathan to take a picture of myself with those last two baseballs I snagged at the dugout:
And while we’re mentioning Jonathan, he is my same boat in that we both generally dislike hecklers. The difference between us two is that I just like the uncreative hecklers. Jonathan, on the other hand, hates the whole idea of heckling. So much so that even though he’s a Cardinals fan and is not happy with Albert Pujols having left St. Louis, when fans by us started heckling Pujols, who was then at-bat, Jonathan tried to counter it by giving Alberta positive reinforcement such as, “You’re doing a great job out there” and gems of that ilk.
And after I snagged my last two baseballs, I briefly looked around to see if I could spot Tony and see how he did during the game. I assumed since I had last seen him sitting on three baseballs that I had the lead for baseballs at Target Field. On the bus I received a call from Tony and found out he had managed to more than double his total during the game and snagged five baseballs, bringing his total to eight baseballs for the game. An amazing performance that would have to make my possession of the Target Field lead wait for another day.
- 7 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave 2 away)
Numbers 471-477 for my “career”:
- 31 Balls in 6 Games= 5.17 Balls Per Game
- 7 Balls x 23,299 Fans= 163,093 Competition Factor
- 68 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 18 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 4 straight Games with at least 4-6 Balls
- 86 Balls in 20 Games at Target Field= 4.30 Balls Per Game
- 19 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
- 5 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- 4 straight Games with at least 4-6 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 4:01-11:37= 7 Hours 36 Minutes
Sorry it’s two days late– given October 13th was Observing Baseball’s two-year anniversary– (YouTube was giving me problems uploading it, FOUR TIMES) but this is a video tribute-type thing I did for two years of Observing Baseball. Feel free to pause the video to click the links below the video that I allude to in the video itself. The reason I wanted to celebrate this way is because I know a bunch of you have joined on in the past year. Also, sorry for the length. I prioritized having everything in there over making it watchable for people with ADD. Enjoy:
And one good thing about being two days late on this entry is I get to shoutout all of the cool people who wished me a happy birthday. Here are said cool people:
It was back to Target Field again. Once again, I had a guest to accompany me to this game:
This time, it was my friend who lives two doors down from me, Jonathan Mueller. If you’re wondering, (probably not) I had my “professional camera”, so I gave it to a lady waiting outside the gates to take a picture of the two of us. If you’re new to the blog, I’m on the left and Jonathan is on the right.
Pretty much as we got in, I semi-rushed to the right field seats (I say “semi” because in New York, it’s a straight-up race to the seats. Here in Minnesota, people take their time, so the only reason to run is if you’re going from the left field gate to right field or vice-versa.), and I quickly got Jeff Francoeur(That’s right, right?) to toss me a ball:
I can tell he’s a cool guy, I would have liked to have met him better when he was on the Mets, but his departure coincided with my introduction to ballhawking.
Anyway, I then headed over to left field to try to get a ball over there. First, I asked Jeremy Guthrie for a ball, but he saw my make-shift Royals t-shirt, and just laughed and threw the ball back. It looked a lot like this shirt but with a bigger logo. If you’re wondering why I had to tape a logo to a blue shirt, it was because my actual Royals shirt was still en route. It wasn’t until two days later that I actually got the shirt in the mail. Suffice to say, it wasn’t an impressive job on the part of USPS considering I had ordered it a week prior to these two games:
Sorry for the repeat graphic for those of you who follow me on twitter. (If not, you can over there in the sidebar —->;)
It was at that point that I put my MLB Fan Cave t-shirt back on. Also, in left field, I saw these guys:
I just took the picture because Kelvin Herrera is the guy who tossed me a ball the day prior and Alcides Escobar was the guy who prevented me all day from tying a no-BP record of six balls in a game the previous game. After I figured I wasn’t going to snag any more baseballs from the Royals via toss-up, I headed back two right field. This was disappointing, because given the fact it was the Royals, I was eyeing big numbers when I first got to the left field seats.
There I snagged two balls from the bat of unidentified Royals within a span of a few seconds. The second of which I immediately gave away to a kid. That might sound good, but there were about four hit in a row–all of which I lost in the sun and allowed to hit the seats. These two were just the ones I managed to pick up. It was an interesting situation 1. I didn’t have time to put on sunglasses since they were all consecutive. 2. It wasn’t the sun itself, I guess it was just the brightness of the sky. I saw the baseballs traveling through the air perfectly one second, and poof, it disappeared from my sight. Like I said: weird. 3. On the first, I was running to my left, and I was going to jump up and stop once I caught the ball. However, once I lost the ball mid-jump, my concern wasn’t stopping; it was just not getting my skull hit by a ball. Anyway, because of this, I kind of bumped into a guy. Right after which, I made sure to apologize for bumping into him. Just for that, he gave me a dirty look and told me, “You gotta be more careful.” Sorry, sir, for caring about my mental health.
These two baseballs would be it for batting practice, but I headed back to left field later in batting practice where I managed to do this to my leg on the edge of a bleacher:
Anyway, given all of the circumstances, this was my (blurred) reaction to “only” snagging three balls during batting practice:
I did score a few other items, though:
The shoelaces were to promote cancer awareness and the other scrubby thing was a company’s promotion within the ballpark itself.
During the game itself, I had two main views. This one:
And when a string of lefties came up, this:
Over here, I got stopped by a woman who asked me where I got my MLB Fan Cave shirt. I learned from talking to her that it was because *she* had been one of the nine cave dwellers at the beginning before getting eliminated- as six of the nine have been- since then. Her name would be Lindsay Guentzel, and she gave both myself and Jonathan one of the bajillion baseball cards the Fan Cave had given her upon her departure:
So that was a fun thing. I believe that was around the seventh inning. At that point, the Twins were losing 3-1. In the bottom of the eighth, the Twins managed to score a run off a bases-loaded walk. After which, Justin Morneau struck-out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The bottom of the ninth rolled around and the Twins were down by a run, so I changed my get-up to fit the situation and took my glove off to take this picture:
Right as I lowered my phone, I saw this happen:
Let’s just say I had a pretty good view of the home run. Here’s the picture of the stands when the cameras first turned to the crowd. I’m in the green circle just having lowered my phone to see a ball flying through the air:
Here I am getting out of my seat, and going down a row, with the arrow pointing to where I was going. I was doing this all while simultaneously making an attempt to put my glove on my left hand:
I judged the ball as perfectly as I have ever judged a ball. Here I am with the ball entering my glove:
Unfortunately, I only had the glove half on, so I couldn’t squeeze it at all and the best I could do was pull the ball towards me as to not have it skip away from me before I could grab it on the ground. Meanwhile, Jonathan was raising his arms in celebration in the green rectangle:
And you just read the account of my first ever home run. Better yet, it tied the home run. As a Twins fan, there was nothing better short of catching a walk-off Joe Mauer home run. Wow. I still can’t believe it.
Here I am right after I snagged it:
I was so excited about it I even took a second while I was chasing a second home run of the game in the standing room:
Yep, a home run snag…….Minnesota Style:
Well, I didn’t get a second home run, but what I saw from the standing room was good enough for me:
That would be the Twins team celebrating around Denard Span after he had the walk-off hit to win the game in the bottom of the 10th:
He was especially celebrated because it was his first game back from a DL stint.
I then stuck around after the game by Anthony Lapanta and Tom Kelly:
While I was out there, a lot of people passed me since I was right by gate 34, the main gate into and out of Target Field. One of those people was the woman who took the opening picture that you saw. She came up to me while I had my camera pressed to my eye and said: “Did you catch the Plouffe home run?”
“Yeah, you saw that?” I said
“I was saying to my husband: ‘ I took a picture of those guys before the game.’ Congratulations!”
But why was I out there? I wanted to get a better look at my home run snag when they showed it on the Jumbotron. (Is that one of those things where the brand has become synonymous with the individual product? You know, like Kleenex.)
Actually, I got a better look at it than when I went home to see the replay:
That would be me in the process of dropping the ball with Jonathan about to celebrate. If you enlarge the picture, you can see my phone in my right hand. And the second picture:
That would be me going down for the baseball and seeing it behind me through my legs before I turned around and grabbed it with my glove since my open hand was occupied with my phone. What made the home run *even* better was it was the first game home run ball snagged in the outfield at Target Field on mygameballs.com. It was just recently that I started calling Target Field because of the University of Minnesota, so it’s nice to be the first one on mygameballs to record a hit game home run snag, and do something I could never in any of my other stadiums.
- 4 Balls at this game (3 pictured because I gave one away)
Numbers 417-420 for my career:
- 198 Balls in 47 Games= 4.21 Balls Per Game
- 4 Balls x 28,669 Fans= 114, 676 Competition Factor
- 56 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 6 straight Games with at least 2-3 Balls
- 5 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 30 Balls in 8 Games at Target Field= 3.75 Balls Per Game
- 7 straight Games with at least 1-2 Balls at Target Field
- 6 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Target Field
- 5 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:31- 11:36= 8 Hours 5 Minutes