8/9/14 – Rays vs. Cubs – Wrigley Field

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7/13/14 All-Star Sunday – Target Field

Man was I excited. All-Star Sunday was finally here. This meant the start of the weeks festivities. My family decided we would go to the Futures game and Celebrity/Legends softball game, which happened to be convenient, because they were on the same day, one right after the other.

The day started off with me waking up at around 8:30am. After getting a few things ready, my family and I were off to the light rail station, so we could take the light rail to the newly renovated Target Field Station. This way we didn’t have to fuss with parking. It was my first time on the light rail in a few years, so it was cool to have the experience again. Here is a picture of my view on the light rail, right after departing:

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It was about a 30-minute ride from the station to Target Field. Ugh. Oh well, at least I got to see parts of Minneapolis I haven’t seen, so that was cool and all. On the ride I mostly just checked the rosters, took pictures, and prepared my stuff. After awhile, the city came in to view, which meant we were close, so of course I got pretty excited.

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All the construction you see is for the new Vikings stadium. But that’s not important (to me… I’m a Packers fan, like it or not) . Once we arrived at the stadium, we went straight to Gate 3, where we waited for about 15 minutes. Once the gates opened, I sprinted over to the left field bleachers, but they were filling up fast, so I went over to right center. This was my view of BP:

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I really like the ASG logo out in center. I hope they keep the Minnesota silhouette. Anyways, My first ball of the day was a ball hit to the wall, shagged by Kansas City Royals pitching prospect, Christian Binford, who tossed it to me after requesting. A few minutes later, I saw that Red Sox pitching prospect Henry Owens had a ball in his hand. But he was in shallow right-center, so I shouted out at him, and he turned around. I waved my arms so he could see it was me who had shouted out at him for the ball. He pointed to his cap as to ask me what team logo I had on mine, but he gave up on trying to figure out and threw the ball towards me. Yes! But his throw was off and it hit the video board just above me, and bounced back on to the field, where it was tossed to another fan. Dang, it would have been really nice to snag that ball. The video board is pictured inside of the red circle.

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Unfortunately, This wouldn’t be the only missed baseball-snagging opportunity for me today. My second ball was snagged shortly after, an overthrow to some kids by some player I didn’t see because he was on the warning track and I was a few rows back. I immediately handed that ball to a little kid. He was too shy to say anything but the guy that had brought him was very appreciative.

Shortly after, I ran into a famous ballhawk, Erik Jabs. If you don’t know who he is, he leads mygameballs.com for most balls snagged in 2014. We introduced ourselves and talked for a few minutes about totals, Target Field, and what not. He also had his daughter along with him, which I thought was nice. A little while later Nate wondered over, so we asked each other how many we each had got. I told him I thought we should spread out, so we did, moving a few sections apart but in the same area. Somehow Nate and I gravitated toward each other, and somehow we both ended up asking for a ball at the same time, from Hunter Harvey I think it was. Hunter tossed the ball to us, and we both instinctively reached out for it, but I naturally got it because I have longer arms. Nate wasn’t overly happy, because he thought the ball was intended for him. Anyways, that was my third and final ball of the day.

Remember how I said the Henry Owens incident wasn’t my last missed baseball-snagging opportunity? Well i’m gonna tell you about that now. I was still in right center when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a baseball flying in the air, which I could tell was going to land to the left of me, so I jogged deeper into the row and and got ready for the snag. I was in the second row, so by the time it got there it was about to bounce, so I stuck my glove out low to the ground and watched the ball in. It tipped off my glove and bounced back, where I frantically looked for it, by which time some lady had picked it up. I was super disappointed that I blew an opportunity like that. I was pretty bummed about it for the rest of the day. Whats surprising is that I am typically a pretty good fly ball catcher, one of the best on my baseball team in fact. I just can’t figure out how I dropped it. Sadly I have yet to catch a home run on the fly.

BP was quite a show, possibly the best display of power I’ve ever seen in person. Once it wrapped up, I went over to the USA side to try and score some autographs, but it was too packed. I noticed that some players on the World side were signing autographs, so I decided to try my luck over there, where I got Tayron Guerrero to sign my program.

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After that , Nate and I went to our seats. You could say we had a pretty nice view:

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The USA ended up winning, 3-2. I would have to say the highlight of the game would have to be the Kennys Vargas double. I think he has a pretty bright future, hopefully always with the Twins. In between events, there was a free Panic! At the Disco concert. I’m not a big fan of them but I’m pretty sure that I have one or two of their songs on my iPhone. Cool.

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Now on to the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game. This part was more interesting to watch, I would have to say. Don’t get me wrong, baseball is my favorite sport and most likely will be throughout my entire life, but the goofing – around type atmosphere with the celebs was just pretty fun and cool. I can’t quite remember, but one of the teams was crushing the other. I was really pumped that I got to see Jim Thome swing a bat for the first time in quite awhile, but he put on a disappointing hitting display. Nelly, sure didn’t. He had a great diving catch at third and hit a couple bombs. Oh, and you should have seen Melanie Iglesias’s swing… Horrible. Once everything wrapped up, I sneaked down into the National League side dugout box, where I ran into one of my friends/teammates. That was a nice surprise. Celebrities and former players started to sign autographs eventually, and since I had a couple official league balls with me, I attempted to get them signed. I can say I came away with one of my favorite actors autographs, and a models autograph. The actor is Charlie McDermott, who stars on ABC Families “The Middle”. It’s a pretty good show. Speaking of pretty, the models autograph I got was Melanie Iglesias. My friend that I talked about helped me out with that one, as he was in the first row and I was in the second, since you had to toss the stuff down to the people. Here is a picture of the softball game that I took, just because I thought it’s pretty amazing that this veteran is still playing with one arm:

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Overall I had I great time, too bad it’s only here for a few days every 30 – somethin years.

 

The Haul:

 

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Stats:

3 balls at this game

22 Lifetime Balls

3 Autographs

 

 

 

 

 

 

7/3/14 Yankees vs. Twins – Target Field

I was originally planning on going to the game on Sunday, with my friend Noah, and my brother Nate. Well, Noah’s Dad ended up getting tickets, which he gave to my family, because they already had tickets for the Sunday game. So, off to the game it was, just my family. Nate wanted to stop at Target so he could get a good ball to hopefully get signed by Jeter, which took an extra 20 minutes. Great. We were late for the opening of the gates by about 10 minutes, as usual (sigh).

Well as soon as we entered through the right field gates, I was not happy with what I saw. There were so many fans all over, I was racing through my head as to where I should go to have a 50/50 shot at getting a ball. I made the foolish mistake of going to the left field bleachers, where there was practically no room to run. I knew I wasn’t going to get a homer since of all the fans, so I was mainly trying for toss- ups. No luck for awhile, so I went around the corner to the 3rd base side, where I was hoping there would be some balls hit on the ground that would trickle into the corner, where I could use the glove trick. No luck there either. Oh well. I wasn’t to worried about my streak because we had dugout box seats, where I could easily get some sort of toss up.

Once BP ended, I headed further down the 3rd base side, closer towards the dugout, where I waited for a while in hopes of getting Derek Jeter to sign. As you can imagine, everyone cheered as Jeter came out to warm up. Here are a couple pictures I took of him:

 

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Ahh. I was almost sure he was going to sign since he was this close. He even nodded when we shouted his name. There surprisingly  weren’t many people asking for his autograph, only about 8 or so kids and a few adults. Nate and I both asked politely. No luck. He didn’t sign for any of us. At this point I was pretty disappointed and shocked at the same time. How could he not sign? I really don’t like how players use the excuse “I can’t now guys, sorry”, in this case that is what Jeter said. I don’t like it because: A – They never say WHY they can’t sign, and B – You can, because lots of other players sign at the same time Jeter said that. Ugggghhhh. Getting Jeters autograph was basically the main reason I wanted to go to this game. The next best thing would be to get a Jeter Batting glove or foul ball off his bat, but unfortunately that didn’t happen either.

It was game time, so we settled into our seats. Nate got Mario, the visiting teams bat boy, to toss him a Jacoby Ellsbury foul ball in the first inning. He had snagged two in batting practice over in right – center. He would end up with 5 on the day. In the top of the second, something special happened. With two outs, Eduardo Escobar grounded out to the Yankees 2nd baseman, Brendan Ryan. Ryan threw to Mark Teixeira at first, to get the third out. Teixeira tossed the ball to Brendan Ryan as the fielders were jogging in. As Ryan approached the dugout, he looked up and tossed the ball in my direction. There were a few other kids surrounding me, but I had the height advantage on them and I felt the ball hit my glove. I brought my glove back down to make sure what I felt was a ball, and sure enough it wasn’t… Just kidding, It was. It was my first ever 3rd out ball! I was overjoyed, not only because my streak was alive, but also because it was my first 3rd out ball ever. Here is an edited picture of it below:

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Here it is on the JumboTron (the first frame):

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Cool, huh? At least for me. After I was finished eating I decided to stay in my current seat, since they were great seats. Here is the actual view from them, which features Derek Jeter batting:

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Sometime around the time I took that picture, I got the Yankees first base coach, Mick Kelleher, to toss me the infield warm-up ball. That was my second  ball of the day, which I gave to a kid sitting across the aisle from me. His father was very grateful. The game went on, and just about the whole time, the Twins were loosing. Darn. I was hoping that they could get a win against the Yankees. My third ball of the day was a Chris Parmalee foul back to the screen, which was retrieved by Mario.

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My second ever foul ball, and my fourth ever game-used ball. The Twins ended up loosing, 7-4. Masahiro Tanaka with the win, Phil Hughes with the loss.  After the game ended I attempted to get a ball from home plate umpire Alan Porter. No luck… What am I now? 0 for 3 or 0 for 4 on umpire balls? I wonder what it is, because I always say Mr.(last name), and  say please,both of which are very polite, while other kids are just screaming “Ball!, Ball!” I’m usually the first one to say something too, and I always have my glove stuck out and wide open. I really don’t understand.

Since it was the third of July, there were fireworks, and man were they cool. Maybe the coolest fireworks I’ve seen in person. I don’t know what it was, the city lights in the background, the ballpark, the music, whatever it is, like I already said twice, they were pretty cool.

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The Haul:

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I found the All-Star game mini helmet in a row of seats after the game. I don’t understand why somebody would leave that behind. I was tempted to buy one with the ice cream in it for some absurd price, so I’m glad I found one for free!

 

Stats:

3 balls at this game

Season Avg: 2.17 Balls Per Game

19 Lifetime Balls

 

 

 

6/19/14 White Sox vs. Twins – Target Field

I wasn’t planning on going to this game. Originally, I had a baseball game of my own that I needed to play, but due to the heavy rain, my game was cancelled due to field conditions. Anyways, Noah, Nate and I met up earlier in the day, and we decided since my game was cancelled, we wanted to go to the White Sox vs. Twins game later that night. The only problem was if the Twins game would get cancelled, too, due to field conditions just like my game. We looked at the forecast which confirmed our fears but we figured since the MLB actually had a professional grounds crew, the game would still likely happen. When us three walked up to gate 34 in the right field plaza, this was the scene:Image

 

Ughhh. Not a surprise. I knew there was going to be no BP, but I was still hoping there would be some players playing catch or something. After we got our tickets and actually entered the stadium, my hopes became useless, as this was my second disappointing sight:

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NOOO!!!! Now the only thing I was concerned about was getting on the board. I knew it was going to be pretty tough, but not as tough as a certain usher made it.

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See those two white specs in the bullpen below? Yeah, those were baseballs. If the picture was bigger, you would see a group of grounds crew personnel in the top right corner. This is where that usher I was talking about comes into play. As soon as one of the grounds crew members got up and out of their chair, Noah asked him if he could toss him one of the balls laying around. They didn’t hear him, but the usher at the top of the stairwell sure did. He walked down a couple steps, pointed at Noah and I, and went ballistic. “NO PESTERING THE PLAYERS! IF YOU DO THAT ONE MORE TIME I’M GOING TO HAVE TO ASK YOU TO LEAVE!” First off, let me just say that we weren’t pestering at all, according to the Wikipedia definition: ” to trouble or annoy (someone) with frequent or persistent requests or interruptions.” We only asked ONCE for a ball. Secondly, they were grounds crew personnel, not players. And also, kicking us out for asking for a baseball? Really? Noah and I agreed that he was just some grumpy old usher. When we started back up the stairs to leave the section, we were stopped by another Target Field Ballhawk, Paul Kom, who asked me what the usher said to us. After I told him, his response was “That doesn’t even make sense…” 

     After that Noah, Nate, and I went to get some food. Once we finally found a spot with some cover from the rain to sit down and eat, this flashed up on the JumboTron:

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At this point, I almost wanted to go home. I was worried that my streak was going to end, and also that the game would get postponed to the weekend, when I had a baseball tournament. When we finished eating, we hiked up to our ticketed seats in the last deck, since they were under cover. We thought it would be a good place to wait and see if the tarp was going to come off or not. Luckily, it eventually did:

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And look at all the water it left behind:

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At this point we decided  that we would head down to the main level in hopes of getting a ball from the players warming up. Noah and I went to the White Sox side, while Nate tried his luck on the more crowded Twins side. This was our view from the Sox side:

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Jose Abreu.

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My choice paid off, as I was able to come away with my one and only ball of the day from Dayan Viciedo:

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It was used to play catch between Dayan Viciedo (of course), Alexi Ramirez, and Alejandro De Aza. My first ball used to play catch between three players, and also my first sharpie – marked ball:

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I almost forgot, it was Yohan Pino’s MLB Debut. He really earned it after spending a decade in the minor leauges. He pitched pretty well for his MLB Debut, only giving up 2 runs over 7 innings.

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And that was about it for the night. We left at the end of the 7th inning because it was getting late. Oh, I forgot to mention Nate got an Abreu foul ball handed to him by Brian Dozier.

 

1 Ball at this game

Season Avg: 2 balls per game

16 Lifetime Balls