2009 All Star Futures Game & Home Run Derby

All-Star Week was finally here.  I had been looking forward to this for months.  Much preparation had finally come to fruition. 

St. Louis…here I come.

7/11/09
My flight left Milwaukee in the evening and I arrived at the St. Louis Airport around 9:30pm.
I was staying at a friend’s house located just outside of St. Louis in the beautiful suburb of Brentwood.

Here they are picking me up at the airport…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 001.jpg

…Justin and I are best of friends.  We go back a long ways.

Mike (who I was staying with) is one cool dude, himself.
Mike flies these…
apache.jpg

…the apache helicopter.
One of the most unbelievable fighting machines ever created.

Both Mike and Justin are veterans of war (it’s great having friends that kick ***).

7/12/09
FUTURES GAME
I woke up early and jumped on the downtown train.  I arrived at Busch Stadium around 10:30 am and immediately found a guy selling Standing Room Only tickets.  I purchased one (1) at face value ($25) and grabbed a spot in line by the left field gate.

The line at 10:45 am…
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…everything was a “sea of red.”

When I ran into the stadium, this player was out shagging BP in right field…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 009.jpg
…Pirates former 1st Rd. Pick Brad Lincoln.

I congratulated him on being named to the Futures Squad. 
A few minutes later, he returned the favor by flipping me a baseball.  When I inspected the ball, I discovered it had a worn Futures Game logo on it.  Okay-that’s a start.

A group of lefties were hitting so I stayed in right field.

A big lefty (Brett Wallace, I think) started to jack a few.  One was hit hard and coming toward my section.  I ran down three rows to the bottom railing and leaned out over the fence to make a sweet grab on the fly.

Upon further inspection…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 010.jpg
…it was a pearl!!

I managed to snag two more Futures baseballs before BP concluded.  One was another pearl and the other was well worn.

After BP, I wandered and took a few pictures of the stadium…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 011.jpg

…straight-ahead toward home plate from above the right field bullpen…

and…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 012.jpg

…looking over to left field.

Eventually, the lineups were announced…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 025.jpg
…and the two teams lined up.

PLAY BALL!!

Unfortunately, they only made it through the top 1/2 of the 1st inning…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 026.jpg

…before the rain came.

And came…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 038.jpg7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 033.jpg

…!!!

So, what does one do during a 4 hr. rain delay???

Wander around, eat concessions and pose for pictures!
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 034.jpg

                                                          Justin and I.

The weather didn’t look good…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 039.jpg

…judging by the big green, red and yellow blob on the radar.

After getting wet some more, we retreated to the concourse and joined all the normal people…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 048.jpg
…where it was totally packed. 

I’m sure the Cardinals made a killing on concessions during this delay.
Heck, I personally contributed over $20 (nachos, hot dog, ice cream cone, etc.).

There was much wetness to go around…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 046.jpg

…along with mass exiting…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 040.jpg

After another dozen messages over the PA and some more on the scoreboard, things were looking up…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 056.jpg
…the scoreboard says, THE FORECAST CALLS FOR THE RAIN TO END WITHIN THE HOUR, AT WHICH TIME WE INTEND TO CONTINUE THE FUTURES GAME.

See all the people huddled underneath the overhangs?

This rain delay actually got me thinking how much I miss rain delays.  At Milwaukee County Stadium, rain delays were the best.  With Miller Park, that’s one thing I miss.
I just like being at the ballpark, ya’ know?

Eventually, the rain lessened and the tarp was removed from the infield…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 060.jpg

…!!

After I gave them the signal…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 062.jpg

…it was time to resume play.

For the remainder of the game, we were invited to sit with a man and his son on the wall down the right field line in the front row. 

Although many people had left, the bleachers were still well populated.  So, I gave up my home run quest for the day and took the opportunity to sit down the line.

I forget which inning…a foul ball bounced about 7 feet in front of me on the warning track.  I thought I was going to catch it on the fly but it never reached me.  After it hit the track, it took a super high bounce into the air and spun about 15 rows behind us. 

That was the closest I would get to any ball for the remainder of the evening.

Final take…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 063.jpg

…4 Futures balls.

The Celebrity Softball Game is only cool if you’re playing in it, so, we left after watching 15 minutes of that.

It was already past my bedtime…

7/13/09
HOME RUN DERBY

I arrived at the stadium at 2pm.  The gates were set to open at 4pm.
In line ahead of me were two well known ballhawks.

The 1st was Wes from St. Louis (formerly of Chicago).  Wes is a great guy who gave me a few pointers about his home park.

The 2nd was Dan from Denver.  Dan had his lovely daughter Emily accompanying him.

Here’s Emily and I before the gates opened…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 079.jpg

…what a cool kid.

Here I am standing in line…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 076.jpg

…doing the cheesy 6-shooter with a mysterious wet spot on the ground.

I assure you, I did not wet myself before, during or after the taking of this photo.

When the gates finally opened, I immediately ran for right field.  You see, I had heard a rumor that they were giving out wristbands to the 1st 20 people who asked for one from a particular usher over in right field.  This wristband would allow the 20 people the opportunity to stand in a small standing room only area over in the aisle in right field. 

This was too good to be true, so I thought.  But, I had nothing to lose.  If it was just a rumor, I still had my front row ticket above the right field bullpen. 

So, I raced over to right field. 
Much to my excitement, this was the scene…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 080.jpg

…people getting wristbands!! 
Holy hell!!
(the above photo was taken after I had already secured my wristband, of course)

BP soon began.

Here’s a few views from my actual ticketed seat (and the spot where I played during BP)…
Thumbnail image for 7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 014.jpg7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 013.jpg

7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 015.jpg7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 016.jpg

The National League All-Stars hit first.  Followed by the American Leaguers.
Each player took about a dozen swings.  It was like an assembly line of studs. 
One after the next.  Unfortunately, BP was sort of anti-climactic (kind of like how this entry will be).

The only player that really put on a show was Josh Hamilton.  He was hammering ball after ball into the right field bleachers. 

Don’t get me wrong…there were plenty of opportunities, just no room to roam.  Plus, everyone had their gloves AND everyone was ball-conscious, if you know what I mean.  The ball had to be hit right to you to have any kind of chance.

I did manage to snag one baseball before the end of BP…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 064.jpg

…an absolute beauty!!
(pictured with a tiny scorecard)

But, I didn’t come to the Home Run Derby to snag BP balls.  I came for the real deal.

I was so mentally prepared for this day it’s not even funny.  I get so wrapped up in mental preparation you might think I’m even more of a geek than you already do. 

FACT:  If you visualize success, success will come. 

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

Bring on the Derby.

Here’s where I stood for all left-handed hitters…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 018.jpg
…right in the walkway.

Here’s a view of where I stood from further out…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 057.jpg
…right in the cross-aisle.

Check these views of the aisle out…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 021.jpg

…toward centerfield…

…and toward the left field foul pole.
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 022.jpg

Here’s where I stood when the righties were hitting…
7_13&14_09 Futures Game & Home Run Derby @ Busch Stadium 023.jpg
…in a little standing room only area behind the left field bleachers
(approx. 450 ft. from home plate).

So, with positioning like that, it would be easy to snag a homer during the Derby, right?

Wrong.

Yeah, I came real close to snagging 2 home runs.  If you were watching on ESPN, you probably saw me in the scram for about 6 more.
Let me remind you:  close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

The aisle advantage in right field gave me decent lateral movement.  Yes. 
But, it was just too crowded to make a difference.  There were 5 beer vendors at all times walking back and forth directly in front of me or to the sides of me.  Throw in a cotton-candy vendor, a few soda vendors and a whole ****-load of people straying from their seats and whaddya have??

A big freakin’ mess.  That’s what. 

Physically, I did everything I could. 
I sprinted.
I jumped.
I side-stepped everyone I possibly could.
At one point, I slammed into a guy walking a few full beers back to his seat.  I think 1/2 of each beer spilled on the ground. 
Hey pal, whaddya expect??  IT”S THE HOME RUN DERBY!!
Oh, btw, Ryan Howard was hitting when genius-boy decided to walk his precious beers back to his seat.  I got called a “dick” for my actions.  Oh well.  Think it through next time.

I’m going to end this post right here because I’m getting fired up.

All in all, it was a great experience being able to run after home runs.  It was like a dream come true just having the opportunity. 

Next year, the Derby is in Anaheim.  Who knows, you just might see me out there.

A few more things…just for the record.

I WAS wearing a Twins hat during the Derby. 
I had been wearing the Twins hat during BP because I was trying to get a ball from Joe Nathan.  After BP concluded, I left my backpack underneath my seat in the crowded section.  Just before the Derby was about to start, I realized I still had on the Twins hat.  But, it was too crowded for me to go down to my ticketed seat and retrieve my Brewers hat out of the backpack.  So, I just left the Twins hat on!

Lastly,
the pictures of the stadium were all taken the day before the Derby.  That’s why the seats look so empty.  As you can imagine, I wanted to pack light for the actual Derby.  I didn’t want anything holding me back from running free…

12 Comments

Great entry Nick thanks for sharing. Like I said I saw you several times on TV at the HR Derby. Very cool that you got to meet Dan’s daughter Emily. I was offered a ticket last minute but I can’t do a trip like that last minute. After reading your entry I know I have to go. Maybe Kansas 2012?
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

How great that you were there for the HR Derby and the Futures Game! (That I would have like to have seen – without the rain!) Don – Boston is looking to have the ASG at Fenway in 2012 for the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

That derby ball from BP was a pearl. Who did it come from? Nice entry. Judging from that guy with the exclamation points you weren’t lying about them making a killing on concessions! My Twins are out of town for the next couple of weeks so I will be on a bit of a haitus.

I spotted you on several occasions watching the Derby. I saw you in the viscinity of the ball, and considering the crowd, I think you did a good job getting those opporitunities. It was actually part of the fun watching the competition – to see if you’d get a ball or not? Added to the entertainment a little.

Missed my chance in 1991 for the Jays, and again in 2005 for Tigers. Great pics! I want to get to All-Star game sometime.
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/

Great recap! I’m sure you’re bummed about the lack of HR balls, but you were THERE. I know that doesn’t add balls to your collection, but just think about that. I would give just about anything to go to an A.S. game. That was a cool trip, bro. Besides, maybe this means you’re due for some more game HRs! Tear ‘em up at Miller!
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

happy saw you on TV there were a hell of alot of people, but did see you in some scrums. mabey next year.
-bettencourt http://yankeefaninri.mlblogs.com/

The pics look great. You did a nice job of putting us in the stadium. I’m a big ASG fan. I think that going to an ASG might be more fun than playoff game simply because it is about fun and hanging out and seeing your guys get on the field. No pressure. Pure fun.
http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com

Heyyy. Its Tyler from that line before the derby. I was the kid in the red sitting down in a few of your pictures. Just so you know, the wet spot was from my water bottle :P. I had just moved it. Good job on the futures game getting four. I only got one that day, but ended up with two BP balls and one home run during the derby (Fielder’s 14th). Good luck!

Very cool. Nice lookin’ balls ya got there. :-)

Are you going to count the Futures Game balls in your grand total?

I’d been wondering how in the hell you got to run in the aisle like that…and why everyone else in the stadium wasn’t doing it too. Mystery solved.

Sorry it didn’t go better for you.

Talk soon…

-Zack

Great pics. Looks like it was a great time.
-Dillon
http://dillonm.mlblogs.com

I grew some deeper appreciation for the glove trick Friday nite. You need to check out my entry to see why. I gave you a shout out as well. When’s your next game?
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

D…
Count me in for K.C. in 2012!

JULIA…
The Red Sox need to wait. Didn’t they just have it in ’99?

BIGGLOVE….
It was hard to see with the sun right in my damn eyes, but I think it was hit by Brad Hawpe.
Way to notice the exclamation points. I thought that passed everyone by. ;)

JEREMY…
Meet me in Anaheim next year!

BRIAN…
Thanks for your continued support. I was a bit bummed coming away empty-handed during the derby. But, like you said, it was fun to be there.

BETTENCOURT…
It was a bit of a meelee-that’s for sure.

RAYSFANBOY…
Well said.

TYLER…
What’s up Tyler! Nice to meet you. Great job Monday. I watched Fielder’s 14th homer, nicely done. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any breaks. Next year!

ZACK…
I will not be counting these baseballs toward career totals.
I was lucky to get that spot. Unfortunately, it was so damn crowded and nothing was hit straight to me. I had to try to run everything down.
Next year!

DILLON…
the experience was definitely rewarding.

BRIAN…
The glove trick is definitely a good option to have. Thanks for the props. I hope the shirt is good luck!

“Happy”

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