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.
In 2013 I attended my first ever “true” Opening Day at Target Field. Having experienced that, I can see why MLB would not want to truly start the season in Minnesota for a while. It was below 30 degrees when the gates opened and didn’t get much better throughout the game.
In 2014, I continued my tradition of going to the Twins’ home opener, though when they took on the Oakland Athletics to start the Target Field year. I thought that Gate 34 would be a mess of people, so I headed to the center field gate, Gate 3 (for Harmon Killebrew) instead:
And much to my surprise, I got to see a different Twins legend there:
If you can’t tell who that is, let me zoom in a little for you:
That would be Baseball Hall-of-Famer, Bert Blyleven, who came out to gate 3 to greet fans as they entered the gate. I got to shake his hand and then took these pictures as he moved down the line of fans. Speaking of fans, it was the home opener. That means that there was an atypically-large crowd present. Not as big as I thought it would be, but big enough:
This worried me a little, but I had already come to the conclusion that while it would be a tough game to snag at due to the Opening Day crowd, I would get a couple baseballs from it being the Athletics, since I had gotten I believe seven baseballs the last game they had been at Target Field. I was kind of wrong about it, but we’ll get to that later. For now, here’s the view when I got to the left field bleachers:
And because it was the home opener, the other fans came quickly behind. Here was the bleachers within the first five minutes:
Not much, but I’m used to having only a couple of people to beat out in the left field bleachers in the first five minutes, so I just had a little less room than I normally did to work with. But I made the most of it. Or at least something of it as I caught a ball hit by Josh Willingham a couple of steps from my usual spot in left:
It was around then that my then-roommate, Sean, showed up:
As you can see, he really had by that point been desensitized to me snagging baseballs. I think it might have occurred when he and another friend tried briefly to shut me out for the game–before I was then able to snag nine baseballs that game. While he also doesn’t usually partake in the process of documenting my games, he aided by doing a little video work.
I moved to right field and…well there wasn’t much. Sean did take a video of me sharing my lack of excitement for Nick Punto as a batting practice hitter as well as an update video, but WordPress doesn’t allow me to add videos, so I’ll cut to the chase: The Willigham was the only ball I got.
So Sean and I went to the right field standing room for the national anthem:
Where I also managed to get a t-shirt from the t-shirt gun that TC Bear (the Twins’ awesome mascot, for those who are unaware) shot it from to me:
(Forgive the fuzziness of the foreground objects.)
Then I was able to experience something really nice/sad at the same time. Major League Baseball has a partnership with a charity by the name of Stand Up To Cancer. As a result of this, there will be certain games in which they have plugs for the organization/the cause they look to fight for. Since it was the home opener, they handed out signs at the gates. These signs were for people to write in the name of a person in their life affected by cancer whom they “stand up” for:
As you can’t read on the scoreboard (unless you clicked on the image and zoomed in), this was to take place at the end of the second inning where everyone would stand up and hold their signs up to recognize that almost everyone’s life is affected in one way or another by cancer–with the charity’s objective being to end the disease. Here is a picture of the stadium once this took place, which can give you a little bit of idea as to how it was when it actually happened with all of the signs lifted up:
With Terry Ryan having been diagnosed with squamous-cell carcinoma (a type of cancer) just two months prior in the offseason, many of the signs–particularly of the players–were dedicated to him. Others paid tribute to cancer’s effect on the Twins by writing Harmon Killebrew who had died almost three years earlier. Instead, I wrote the name of someone whose death preceded Harmon’s by just two or three hours:
And after that, there was one other thing I had to do. I had gotten some temporary tattoos, and for those who didn’t click the link I had on his name, Sean is a pretty big White Sox fan. He’s originally from a southern suburb of Chicago, so I forgave him enough to be roommates with him for a year. The opportunity to get him completely “Twins-ed” out was just too tempting. The result was the following:
He wasn’t thrilled to have to deal with the fallout from me inevitably posting the picture on social media his friends would see, but he was semi-cooperative once I started taking a burst of pictures by not ducking out of the frame.
We then got a picture together on the second level of the right field seats:
And that’s where I’ll end the entry. Normally I do a “STATS” section at the end of entries, but I will skip that for all of the games I write about having gone to in 2014 because it is now 2015 as I write this. If you really want some ballhawking statistics about myself (or the majority of all ballawks in the country), go to mygameballs.com. Here is the link to my individual profile from which you can stalk me.
With Twinsfest moving from its usual home at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome–which was getting demolished as Twinsfest took place–to Target Field, there obviously needed to be a restructuring of the Twinsfest to be able to hold it indoors away from the Minnesota cold. Thus, one of my projects coming into Twinsfest was to document this new set-up for anyone who was curious about how everything was crammed into Target Field.
There were three levels to the new Twinsfest set-up–with their elevator floors next to them:
3. Suite Level.
2. Club Level.
0. Main Concourse (Only used as an entrance to and exit from Twinsfest. Nothing was actually held there.)
-2. Service Level.
The first day of Twinsfest, I went with Paul Kom, and my college friend Tony Blustein. That day, Paul and I filmed two of the levels. One for each of our channels/blogs and featured each other in them. The next day I went with another college friend who you may more readily recognize, Jonathan, and I did the final level.
Now here from the top level down, are the tours of the floors of Twinsfest:
I do have more footage I have to edit that I filmed at Twinsfest. That will be the next entry where I interviewed two people about there experiences at Twinsfest (first video) and then a three-day vlog of my time at Twinsfest (second video). But until then, keep voting for what you want to see on the blog after that in this poll and leave comments for what concepts you would the new blog icon:
While I’ve always kind of known which teams I like and which I don’t–although even those have changed throughout the years–I truly have never ranked the teams 1-30 as to which I like better than others. So that’s what I’m going to do right now. (Disclaimer: This is a list of how I order the teams in the offseason of 2013-14. While most of my decision in where to put a team in the rankings is based off of the franchise itself, some of it is based on who is on the team right now, so these rankings are subject to change over time.)
1. Minnesota Twins-
My story with the Twins is that I grew up a Yankees fan being from New York, but being that I look at things from a GM’s perspective, I thought that being Brian Cashman and having a $200-million payroll would be a pretty boring job creatively since he could essentially buy any player he wanted to. In thinking this, I thought of a team who had success but doing so with a reduced payroll that required teams to build their team in an innovative way on a much smaller budget. Being as it was the mid-2000s, the Twins was a natural choice seeing as they were a constant playoff team with one of the lowest budgets in baseball. Now don’t get me wrong; there’s a different challenge in being the GM of the Yankees: you’re never allowed to take a year off having success to rebuild your core/farm system, but I was entranced by the building of a successful major league team from a solid minor league core.
2. Washington Nationals-
In going to a ton of games at Nationals Park in 2011 I fell in love with the core of players that went 80-81 as well as the people who inhabited it. Ever since then, I have been a really big fan of the players that made up the core of the teams in the next two years. And because of me falling in love with the Nationals Park environment for whatever reason as well as the people who made it such a special place, I became a fan of the franchise as a whole.
3. Tampa Bay Rays-
Much like the Twins, the Rays endeared themselves to me by being a team that built their team intelligently–allowing them to achieve repeated success on a payroll that can’t compare to that of a larger market team.
4. San Francisco Giants-
The Giants is an interesting case because it started as simply a liking of a specific player: Tim Lincecum. However, as I kept up with Lincecum more and more as he began to turn from the Washington kid who could pitch insanely fast for his size to a household name, I grew to have a liking fro the other players on the Giants as well. I think having shared a hotel with the players in Milwaukee and having a mini-conversation with a couple of them as well as having a personal memory of what Brian Wilson was like pre-beard may have contributed to this connection to the team, though.
5. Texas Rangers-
I truly have no idea how the Rangers managed to climb my list so high. I used to not really be a fan of them in their team with the two Rodriguezes, but as they turned towards a team that relied more on pitching *in addition to* the offense the Rangers always seemed to have, I really liked the teams that they constructed around 2009-10.
6. New York Yankees-
While they have fallen down my list and I hate the franchise past the team itself, they still are my childhood team that I can’t help to root for.
7. Philadelphia Phillies-
While it was not the beginning of my fandom of them, this certainly sealed it for me. They’d be higher on the list for me, but Phillies fans.
8. Toronto Blue Jays-
Part of me always sympathized with our neighbors to the north. Even when the Expos were still a team, I liked the Blue Jays a lot and always secretly as a Yankee fan hoped they would surge up and break the norm of the AL East standings for a while in the early 2000s–which was:
2. Red Sox
3. Blue Jays
5. Devil Rays
I just really always wanted them to have success, and this translated to a fandom of the team when they played teams that weren’t my top-of-the-line favorite teams.
9. Milwaukee Brewers-
My liking of the Brewers began in around 2008 when CC Sabathia joined the team for half a season and did amazing with being in attendance for what should have been a no-hitter, (I might write about this/do a video for a “Blast From the Baseball Past” entry) but then I just had a fandom for the Fielder and Braun teams. My fandom for the team, though, has lessened the past couple of years for obvious reasons regarding one or more of the aforementioned players.
10. Oakland Athletics-
(See Tampa Rays.)
11. Cincinnati Reds-
I think this is kind of a fusion of many of the various teams I have talked about to this point. So in part it’s like the Rays where I liked that a solid major league team was built from the pooling of major league talent, but it is also a lot like the Giants since I really like Joey Votto as a player.
12. Atlanta Braves-
I think this is Nationals-esque in that I loved Turner Field and its atmosphere. I also liked the core and became much more of a fan because of people I have met that are passionate about the Braves. And I can say that the fact that Julio Teheran plays for them doesn’t hurt them at all.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks-
This is one of the teams that I honestly don’t know why I like more than most teams. I’ve just always liked Diamondbacks teams (after the 2001 season, that is.) Yeah, I don’t know.
14. Seattle Mariners-
This has been mostly the product of running into very nice baseball people who are fans of the Mariners. I’m also a fan of how good of a pitching team they have been despite being offensively anemic the past seasons.
15. Baltimore Orioles-
Similarly to the Mariners, I just know a ton of awesome baseball people that are Orioles fans. In addition to that, their stadium is my favorite in baseball. I would say that really the only reason they’re this far down the list is that some Orioles fans became obnoxious as they began to climb out of the AL East cellar.
16. Detroit Tigers-
I know that I’m supposed to hate the Tigers as a Twins fan, but the fact that we beat them in the game 163 we played them helps and I always admired the teams that had success more than most of the teams I am supposed to dislike.
17. Pittsburgh Pirater-
I can pretty safely say that if I weren’t a ballhawk, this team would be lower on the list, but because of the big ballhawk following in Pittsburgh, I have kept up and liked the Pirates and it was incredibly fun watching them have success for the first time in over two decades last season.
18. Miami Marlins-
Ah the Marlins. Those poor souls. I always had an affinity for them especially teams with the 30+ homer infields of Uggla, Ramirez, Cantu, and Jacobs. That said, Jeffrey Loria has made this a team that I can’t root for over half of the other teams. They remain a team that I’m intrigued by and want to root for, and they would skyrocket up this list if Loria ever sold them and kept them in Miami, but right now they’re just not a team I can really get behind.
19. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-
I don’t know about this team. I want to like them in many respects, but they lost me when they started spending a bajillion dollars on free agents, trading for Vernon Wells, and then having success with not with their big free agent acquisitions but with the farm talent they had beforehand.
20. Colorado Rockies-
The Rockies are one of those teams I have a preference towards, but still in a kind of “eh” way. I’ve never disliked them really, but I’ve never really had any passion behind my support of them.
21. San Diego Padres-
I used to like them a lot more in the Trevor Hoffman era, but they’ve dropped a bit since then not necessarily because their lack of success but the players behind these teams. They just haven’t been groups of guys that I’d like to get behind.
22. Cleveland Indians-
Again, never disliked them but never really liked them.
23. Houston Astros-
I actually like the group of people in this team and could see myself liking a lot in the years to come. That said, they have made some pretty bad decisions in the past and it was not a shock that they were as bad of a team as they have been.
24. Kansas City Royals-
I actually like this franchise in terms of their ballpark and look, but then there are the people behind the scenes that ruin this team for me. At the ballpark, I have not heard many positive things about their ushers, and behind the franchise, I disagree on many things with the GM of the team, Dayton Moore. I think that the team could have been competing a long time ago had it not been for his guidance.
25. St. Louis Cardinals-
The main reason for them being this far down the list is the fact that their fans claim incorrectly that they are definitely the “best fans in baseball.” While I don’t think there is a no-doubt group of the best fans in baseball, if my experience with Cardinals fans in baseball has taught me anything, it is that while the Cardinals fan base may be in the top-10, they are definitely not the no-doubt best fans in baseball they claim to be.
26. Chicago White Sox-
I was a fan of the 2005 Astros and 2008 Twins. Enough said.
27. New York Mets-
They’re the Mets. I don’t know how many things I have admired about the Mets the past five years. If it’s any indication, the rendition of “Meet the Mets” that I have adopted begins:
Beat the Mets,
Beat the Mets,
Step right up and,
Sweep the Mets
28. Los Angeles Dodgers-
While I have kind of liked the players on the Dodgers for stretches, their recent acquisition by the Kasten-Johnson group and metamorphosis into baseball’s new Yankees has really turned me off to them. I have disliked them sans Vin Scully for a much longer time than just that, but that’s the most recent thing that provides a rational reason for disliking them.
29. Chicago Cubs-
I have never had any appeal to the Cubs, and I’m not particularly found of how Cubs fans overreact to prospects as well as how in-your-face Cubs fans I have interacted with have been about the most minor successes. Granted, it’s a conditioning that has come with being the fan of a team who last won a World Series when one’s great-grandparents were your age.
30. Boston Red Sox-
This is partially because I grew up a fan of the Yankees, but I also do like their stadium and the atmosphere of it. However, I can’t get over the attitude of their owner John Henry that many fans have adopted without realizing the absurdity of it of that the Yankees have a ridiculous advantage in terms of having a humongous payroll. The reason this argument infuriates me is because for the longest time, there was a gigantic gap in payroll between the Red Sox and the third largest payroll. Thus it was the rich crying poor in order to gain sympathy. The second reason is because the Steinbrenner family is actually a middle-of-the-pack ownership group in terms of wealth. The reason they invest so much money into the team is because they value winning. Therefore, if John Henry truly wanted to win, he could spend the extra money and win. The problem is that if he didn’t win with this extra money invested, he would be losing money. However, George Steinbrenner was taking the same risk when he invested his extra money; it was just that Steinbrenner’s Yankees did win every season and could thus keep spending. So what Henry did by calling out Steinbrenner and the Yankees was criticized him/them for doing what he didn’t have the guts to do with the Red Sox in order to give his fans the winning such a great fan base deserved. However, being the fans that they were, many Red Sox fans backed their owner without truly understanding what was behind these claims.
So those were my favorite teams. I am by no means “right” in any of my judgements. Picking a favorite team–or in my case *teams*–is something of complete subjectivity and can be done for any number of reasons. Also, the next entry is me making a new Observing Baseball Logo. I would actually like to make a clarification. So it’s actually not the logo itself–this:
But it would actually be me remaking the icon itself, which is this:
But besides that, keep voting for your favorite entries. I should mention that I’ll be doing various entries for Twinsfest, but you can vote for the stuff you want to see besides this on the poll below:
When I woke up for this game, I knew that all of my nightmares had been true. See most people have a nightmare about oversleeping an exam or job interview. Well I have nightmares of oversleeping a baseball game. It wasn’t exactly that bad, but I woke up late enough where I knew that I had time only to get my bag ready, get out the door, and sprint to the nearest major city bus stop, which was almost a mile away. I then realized realized mid-trip that I had taken the wrong bus, and that this one wouldn’t take me to Target Field. I had to get off this bus to run to the light rail, which then somehow got me to the game less than half-an-hour after the gates opened. And when I got in, I was greeted with a most welcome surprise:
Maybe you can’t tell, but there was batting practice going on. Unlike some teams, the Twins–as I have learned from the ushers–never take batting practice on Sundays, so the visiting team usually follows suit and forgoes it as well. However, the Indians had a possibility of a Wild Card game the next day, they had to stay sharp and take batting practice.
Upon entering the stadium, it took me less than five minutes to get a baseball. I have no clue who the who tossed it to me was since he was a coach-type person who isn’t on the roster, but it was good for my first ball of the day:
My next ball came when the Indians pitchers were throwing down the left field line. Again, I don’t know the name of the man who threw me the ball, but I can say that he was an Indians relief pitcher:
After that, I headed back up to the flag court. There I quickly got and gave away a Jason Kubel homer. And that was it for me for batting practice. After which, I headed to the bullpen. There Scott Diamond was just getting to the bullpen. I also met a ballhawk whose nickname is “Panda.” We had met several times at the dugout after games as we were both going for an umpire ball, where he actually instructed me to call him Panda. Anyway, he has always been nice, so we struck up a conversation there. During this I got both Scott Diamond and Rick Anderson to wave at me, so I figured that I had the ball in the bag if either of them ended up with the ball. Surely enough, Rick Anderson ended up with the ball, so I called out when he was high-fiving the other pitchers; and with an assist from Jared Burton, I got the ball:
And then it was time for the game itself. Like the previous game, (click the “previous entry” button at the bottom of this entry if you’re on the page for this entry only, or click on the title of this entry and then do that if you want to read that entry) the Twins were again doing the “autographed baseball every inning” thing, so I did that every at the bottom of every inning and positioned myself at the Twins dugout at the top of every inning to try to get a third-out ball. At the top of the first inning, the Twins sent this tweet out:
I had been at the team store by Gate 29 at that time, so I sprinted to the flag pole. I got there only about ten seconds after the tweet had been sent out, but there was already a sea of people with phones. (Well like five, but it might as well have been given how quickly I got there.) All of them were looking up and down at the flag pole area and then their phones in confusion. I didn’t see anyone with a ball fleeing the scene, so I assumed that the prize had not been given out yet. Using my previous experience with the contest, I figured the representative hadn’t yet arrived with the ball. So I looked around for a person with credentials hanging from his/her neck. And then I saw a woman that matched this description perfectly walking from my right. Before anyone could even realize what I was doing, I had claimed the ball. I know that there were definitely people who hadn’t seen me get the ball at all because two asked me after the fact if the ball had already been claimed by someone.
My next ball came at the Twins dugout. After several innings of trying, I finally got a Twin to toss me a third-out ball. Clete Thomas, who was the left fielder, made a catch for the third out. When he jogged back to the dugout, I thought there was no chance that I’d get the ball, since I was behind a crowd of five kids, so I backed up a little and took advantage of the fact that I was the only one actually with Twins gear on. Not expecting him to actually toss me the ball, I waved my arms. And he lobbed the ball perfectly enough that it just barely cleared the kids’ gloves and landed in my glove for the basket catch. But I then pulled out a ball from my backpack and gave it to one of the kids.
Then when I finally stopped going after the autographed baseballs, I went to the Indians dugout and got Yan Gomes to toss me a third-out strike out ball. It was the first time I’ve ever been able to adjust to the strike out ball. Usually I’m committed hard to the third-out ball on the outfield end of the dugout, so I miss the strike out third-out ball. This time, though, I was able to identify the fact that it was a strike out, go to the back of the section, and run down the proper staircase in time for Gomes to see my Indians attire:
Suffice to say I was proud of myself. However, I wasn’t able to get any of the other players from the two teams to toss me a third-out ball, so my next baseball wouldn’t come until the game had ended.
Unfortunately, the Twins were unable to win and force the first ever-three way Wild Card situation, so the Indians were on the field celebrating after the game:
The good thing about this, though, was that after C.C.Lee tossed me a ball at the dugout, Vinnie Pestano–who was walking right behind Lee and of course saw me get the first ball–tossed me a second ball without me even asking:
Little did I know at the time, but the first of these was my 200th ball ever at Target Field. This made it the first stadium I’ve snagged 200 balls at, and it put me at nine for the day. Had I been able to get to the outfield end of the dugout in time, I might have ended the day with 14 baseballs by how many the two bullpen catcher were throwing into the stands. But because of the amount of people who stayed because of the celebration, the area was packed and couldn’t get to that side in time. Instead I decided to try to get on the Twins side in case they were to throw up any miscellaneous items they no longer needed for the offseason. I didn’t make it in time for that, but I did get Panda to take my picture with the remaining six baseballs:
Now you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned giving away three baseballs in the entry thus far. That’s because I don’t remember which baseballs I gave away before this point. This is because after this point I resolved to give away baseballs who had been nice to me all year. But before that, I made sure to run into Tony Voda for one last time. I don’t think I mentioned him before this point in the entry, but he was indeed there, and had an amazing game in his own regard. (To find out how, click his name, which will take you to his entry for this game.)
Now you may notice (1. That Tony is dressed up like Waldo. I’d like to explain it, but I think it’s best if you just imagine why he did it. I mean, it is pretty self-explanatory. But also…) that I have something made out to myself. Tony had been in the behind-home-plate club earlier in the game. So when I passed by on the Twins dugout side to talk to him, he handed that to me. You see, he did something in April of this year that was pretty awesome. He asked his readers (which I include myself in) if they wanted a hand-written copy of the entry he was going to write, and this (these words are a link to the contents of the envelope you see in the last picture) was the result. After that, I went to the ushers in that I most liked and gave away all but two of my baseballs. The two I kept were the one signed by Bert Blyleven and my 756 career baseball, because I thought it’d be fun to keep the ball that tied me with Barry Bonds if each of my baseballs were a major league home run. After which, I went on my way, but not before I took a final picture at Gate 34 with the Bert Blyleven ball:
And then got on the bus where I read the Events Operations Guide that one of the ushers gave me as a parting gift:
And with that I rode off into the sunset (literally) back to my apartment.
- 9 Balls at this Game (2 pictured because I gave 7 away)
- 317 Balls in 64 Games= 4.95 Balls Per Game
- 9 Balls x 30,935 Fans= 278,415 Competition Factor
- 126 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 31 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 5 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls
- 3 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
- 201 Balls in 38 Games at Target Field= 5.29 Balls Per Game
- 36 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 16 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Target Field
- 5 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls at Target Field
- 3 straight Games with at least 6 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 11:15-5:30= 6 Hours 15 Minutes
And to wrap up this entry, which was for my last game of the season, I would like to write to end with this preliminary forecast of what is to come. Obviously I can’t tell the future, and I do love ballhawking. However, this shall be my last season of full-time ballhawking for the foreseeable future. I have been trying to do it as long as I can, but with this being my sophomore year of college, I think it’s time for me to start doing something work-related during my summers instead of spending it going to baseball games and then writing about them. Not to say there’s anything wrong with it; Go ahead and do that for as long as you can. But with the “work” world readily approaching, it seems like I need to get an internship or something related. This coming Tuesday I have a face-to-face interview at Target Field regarding a Baseball Operations position. I feel as though I am a really good candidate for the position, but there are also–I’m sure–many other VERY qualified candidates. So if I get this internship, I will be working that the whole summer and will then almost definitely not going to any Twins games as a ballhawk, but I may be able to attend other teams’ home games. If I don’t get that internship, my next option would be to try to get an internship with the St. Paul Saints, but I’ve heard those are very time-demanding, so I don’t know which games I could even try to make.
As for the offseason, I plan to make it pretty much the same as last year. So I will post my review of my season ballhawking next, and then I’ll make a video of the entry ideas I have for the winter and you’ll vote throughout the offseason as to which entries you want to read. (I’ll explain the details more clearly in the video.) I’ll probably be blogging 1-2 times per week until I run out of offseason to do so. Past that I have no clue what I’ll be writing about, but rest assured that I will be writing about something. So until then, thank you for reading this season, and we’ll see where this blog is when the 2014 season rolls around:
In my second-to-last game of the season, look who decided to join me at an unfamiliar gate:
It was Paul Kom. Actually, though, there are a couple odd things with this picture. Yes, we were both at a gate very foreign to the both of us, but 1. You may notice I’m pointing to my glove. I decided to go with a catcher’s mitt this game instead of my lefty glove. 2. We thought of this idea completely independently of each other. You see there was also another person joining us for this game, my friend Jonathan Mueller. You may remember him best as the person who joined me on the night I snagged my only home run off the bat of Trevor Plouffe. Well Jonathan and I both walked from the University of Minnesota campus. In doing so, we almost *had* to pass by Gate 34. In doing so, I saw Paul and the man most commonly known as “Waldo”, formerly know as Greg Dryden:
It was at that point that I informed Jonathan we were going to go to Gate 6 in right field. I made the decision that I didn’t want to compete with both of them in right field as the gates opened, so I was going to go to left field. I decided to go to Gate 6 since I had seen the people from there get into the left field seats faster than myself the last few times when I came from Gate 3 in center field. Less than a minute after getting there, I got a text message from Paul asking me if I had gotten to the stadium yet. This inquiry quickly led to him telling me that he planned to come to Gate 6. Keep in mind that he had no clue I was there.
Once we got in, I quickly ran into the left field seats whereas Paul went first to the seats down the left field line. The result? A quick 1-0 Mateo lead. As I was running down the steps of the left field seats, a Twins righty hit a ball in the first section from the foul pole. I COMPLETELY lost the ball in the sun, so I ducked for cover instead of running towards the spot I thought the ball was going to land, but when it did land, I ran over and grabbed it for my first ball of the day:
Or maybe I was just telling him what Shairon Martis’ name is. I’m not really sure which.
Then when the Indians started throwing down the left field line, I headed over there. There, I got Michael Brantley to toss me a ball. Extra-super special e-shoutout on Twitter to whoever can find the ball in this next picture:
Here’s a hint:
I then headed out to the flag court where I did a bunch of running after baseballs like this one:
Only one of which I actually ended up getting. Here’s a four-picture collage I put together to show you what happened:
Top left: Me seeing the ball bounce off the concrete past the guy who was in front of me.
Top right: Looking up at now again-airborne ball as it floated through the air.
Bottom left: Me watching the ball that is now on its descent and in the frame of the picture hoping that my catcher’s glove would be able to make the catch.
Bottom right: Nor with all of the eyes out on the flag court on me, making the catch–much to the chagrin of the guy pursuing the ball from behind.
My next two baseballs came from the same person. When I went to the right-center field seats, there was a kid there who asked Chris Perez for a ball. When Perez threw it into the flower bush, I ran down, and made it very clear that I gave the ball to the kid after pulling it out of the flowers. As a “reward” for doing this, Perez then tossed me the next ball he fielded:
Coincidentally, Jonathan took a picture at this same exact moment:
And that would be my last ball of batting practice.
After BP, all three of us–myself, Jonathan, and Paul–went to the bullpen. Both Paul and I got one of these there:
If you can’t tell the autograph, I got mine from Anthony Swarzak. I don’t remember who tossed Paul his two. Let me explain what these balls are and why I didn’t count this as a “snag.” Every fan appreciation weekend of the year, the Twins each sign one of these tee balls and toss them into a random part of the crowd. I didn’t count mine because while it did come Anthony Swarzak, a major league pitcher, it was still a tee ball and felt cheap.
We then decided to all stay in the left field seats and play home runs for the game. In the second inning, though, I looked at my Twitter timeline and noticed that the Twins sent out this tweet:
Granted, we had already missed the first two innings of the contest at that point, but I still asked both Paul and Jonathan if they wanted to do it. They did, and actually got three of the baseballs to my none. Paul got the first two baseballs after we started:
And Jonathan was in the right spot and was able to get the final autograph ball:
We then went to the flag court and took advantage of another perk of Fan Appreciation Weekend. When we saw a Target Field employee with a box, we realized that it was them about to hand out some sort of prize to the section on behalf of some Twins player. Because of what we thought was going to happen, I went and sat down in the section right before the inning break. And as a result, I got a bag of Cracker Jack:
But I wasn’t the only one. Jonathan was smart enough to act on my observation as well and got a bag for himself:
And that was it for the excitement during the game. After the game, all three of us headed down to the dugout. Paul and I tried for an umpire ball. Here’s a shot Jonathan got of both myself and Paul asking home plate umpire Tony Randazzo for a ball. (I’m on the far left and Paul’s on the far right.)
Good for us, both were able to get a ball from him:
But don’t feel bad for Jonathan. In looking through the seats for ticket stubs to send to my friend Avi Miller, I found this for him:
And with that upside-down bag of chips, all of us left to go to Paul’s car, and we all went home; Paul staying at my apartment for the night before heading of to the game the next afternoon.
- 6 Balls on the Game (5 pictured because I gave 1 away)
- 308 Balls in 63 Games= 4.89 Balls Per Game
- 6 Balls x 24,074 Fans= 144,444 Competition Factor
- 125 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 30 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 4 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 6 Balls
- 192 Balls in 37 Games at Target Field= 5.19 Balls Per Game
- 35 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 15 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Target Field
- 4 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls at Target Field
- 2 straight Games with at least 6 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:45-1:14= 9 Hours 29 Minutes
While I was expecting to see him at the game, I’m kind of glad I went to see Tony Voda at Gate 29 when I didn’t see him as I got to Gate 34:
This is because as I started talking to him when he was waiting for the early batting practice for season ticket holders, the Twins employee who is in charge of the early batting practice came up to the both of us, and I got this:
I guess he just assumed I was there to get into early batting practice, so he handed me the pass to get in. Just like that I was going to get in for batting practice an hour earlier than normal. Awesome. They actually brought us in the stadium a little earlier than that. Here’s where we were at about 4:15:
And by before 4:30, I had this in hand:
As Ryan Pressly was done and headed to the ball bag with his baseball, I called out to him and he tossed me that baseball. I think that may be the earliest I’ve ever snagged a baseball at Target Field. Since I didn’t want too many Twins pitchers seeing me get a baseball before they spread out to cover the whole outfield, I just sat back and saw Tony get a ball tossed to him by a Twins player. Who? I’ll give you one hint:
I then got a ball while the Twins pitchers were still throwing, but that’s because it wasn’t intended for me. Shairon Martis identified the girl in this next pitcher as a worthy recipient, but he underthrew her; so I reached out into the flower pots to get the ball and hand it to her:
Since I was thinking about getting season tickets when this game happened, I knew going to early BP a lot was a real possibility, so I made my goal to give away half of my baseballs while we were the only people in the stadium. My next ball came not on the left part of the overhang section, but on the right. Since I was the only one to see him field the ball, I was the only one to ask Mike Pelfrey for a ball and got him to toss it to me:
My fourth ball felt pretty good since I got it tossed to me over someone. When Oswaldo Arcia fielded a ball in the outfield, I called out to him by name. When he turned around, I was in about the third row of the section, but there was a guy in the first row almost directly between Oswaldo and myself. So what I did was pointed at my glove and ran back three rows. At this point, the man realized Arcia was looking back at him and thought he was going to toss him the baseball, but that’s when Arcia tossed the ball over his head and right to me:
The guy was so sure that the ball was intended for him–but thankfully not in an angry way–that he talked to me at the end of early batting practice (not knowing that I was the same person who had snagged the ball earlier) and told me that Arcia had tossed him a ball but overthrown him and “another guy got it.” I then gave this ball to what was surprisingly the only kid (and there were like seven kids there) who had not yet gotten a ball.
My next ball was the only hit ball I got while the Twins were hitting. I’m not sure who it was, but I caught the ball on the fly towards the right part of the center section in the overhang. (There are three sections in the overhang even though I sometimes refer to the overhang as a whole as a single section.)
Then when the Indians started to hit and the rest of the stadium opened, Tony left the right field seats and headed over to the left field line. I decided that the group hitting, along with the crowding that would take place if we both went to the same spot were grounds enough for me to stay in the right field seats for a couple more minutes. But it only took a matter of seconds after Tony left to affirm the decision. Michael Brantley hit a ball to my left (I was in the right-most section in the overhang.) so I ran in the row at the back of the section and caught it:
That spot is where you’ll see I put the “1” on. As I caught the ball, an older couple in the second row made a comment about the catch (I can’t remember what it was since I write this over a month after the fact, but I hopped down into the second row to talk to them) Brantley then hit that very pitch even further to to my left, so I ran a few steps over and caught the ball:
I proceeded to talked to them, and ended up giving the wife of the couple what I think was the first of the two Brantley balls, but I couldn’t tell since I had both of them in my possession at the same time, and they might’ve gotten mixed up.
I then talked to the guy who the Arcia ball had gone over the head of, and I told him that since he hadn’t gotten a ball in early BP, I would give him the next baseball I snagged. So when I got Danny Salazarto toss me a ball in the right-center field seats, I went back to the right field seats just ot give the man the ball:
I then headed back to the right-center field seats. There I got Brad Mills to toss me a ball in the corner spot by the batter’s eye after a couple minutes of pestering him semi-frequently:
I gave this ball away to an usher who has always been nice to me. I instructed him to give the ball away to the first kid with a glove to pass him:
Little did I know, this was my 300th baseball of 2013. This is mildly relevant because it marked the first time I have ever snagged 300 baseballs in a season. This also began a mini “giving away” spree for me as I then did the same thing with to this kid who missed a home run out on the flag court–which, to be fair, I also missed:
But wait, what ball did I give the kid. I mean I guess you assumed that I gave him one of the baseballs I had snagged earlier, but I actually snagged and gave him my tenth ball of the game. I got Scott Kazmir to toss me a ball in the right field seats:
And that would be it for batting practice. My next baseball would come after the game and was thrown to me by Indians reliever Bryan Shaw as he went into the dugout:
I could’ve had my all-time record, but one of the Indians bullpen catchers–both of which are AMAZING for baseballs at the dugout after the game, by the way–Armando Camacarro tossed three baseballs to the guy just to my right as he entered the dugout.
And right after that, I waited for Tony to finish up his snagging things and got a free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from an attendant in the Legends Club, or whatever they call it at Target Field. (Pretty much every ballpark I spend any notable amount of time at besides OPaCY has a fancy-schmancy section of gated-community seating right behind home plate; all of which go by different names, so I don’t bother to remember which is which.)
After getting it, I just took in the fact that I was pretty much the only fan left inside a beautiful major league ballpark. (I had been there about twenty minutes after the final out had been recorded at this point.)
And then once Tony was done trying to get baseballs from dugout attendants, I finally headed out and got one last picture of Target Field in all of its majesty:
Four games down in the week, two still left to go.
- 11 Baseballs at this Game (5 pictured because I gave 6 away)
- 302 Balls in 62 Games= 4.87 Balls Per Game
- 11 Balls x 24,929 Fans= 274,219 Competition Factor
- 124 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 29 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 3 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls
- 186 Balls in 36 Games at Target Field= 5.17 Balls Per Game
- 34 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 14 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at Target Field
- 3 straight Games with at least 3-5 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:12-12:14= 9 Hours 2 Minutes