Results tagged ‘ 2009 ’

4/9/09 @ Rogers Centre

It was getaway day for my Dad and I.  The last day of our road trip.  Three days went quick. 
I’m having too much fun to leave now. 

The 1st game I attended on April 7th netted me a total of 5 baseballs.
The 2nd game April 8th – 10 baseballs including a game home run.

What will the 3rd day bring?

After I finished blogging the previous day’s activities, my Dad and I headed out to the stadium.  The gates were opening at 11am for the 1237pm game.

On the walk from our downtown hotel to the stadium, I gave ZACK HAMPLE a call to see if there would be Batting Practice.  Since, Zack had a sweet room in The Renaissance Hotel that overlooks the field, I would get a quick answer straight from the man.

Zack set the phone down.  I could hear him yell down to a Detroit Tigers coach below, “are you guys taking BP today?”  That followed by a, “no, okay.”  Zack picked the phone back up and informed me that it must be the Blue Jays taking Batting Practice since the cage and nets were up.

This was a good thing. 

My Dad and I were almost to the stadium when we stopped by one of those street vendors with the hot dog carts.  We ordered up a few Italian sausages and scarfed them down for a little pre-game meal.  If you’re ever in Toronto, you have to eat at least 1 street vendor sausage.  They’re delicious.

The time was now 1050am and we had our spot at the front of the line (they’re were only 10 people present for all lines).

Zack Hample joined us a few minutes later and we were ready to rock and roll.

When the gates to the stadium opened at 11am, we sprinted down into the bleachers and began our day’s work.

I spotted Blue Jays LF/DH man ADAM LIND standing in left field shagging baseballs.  After a few minutes, I had BASEBALL #1 from this hot-hitting young player.

Another baseball rolled out near the bullpen where I was standing.  Blue Jays pitcher BRANDON LEAGUE picked it up.  I politely asked him for the baseball and he underhanded it to me for BASEBALL #2.

The big boppers for the Jays were now taking their turns in the cage (Wells, Rolen and Rios).
So, I headed to the 2nd level of bleachers for some BP home runs. 
Keep in mind, the Tigers had been using those cheap plastic/synthetic International League baseballs all series.  Those just don’t carry like the official MLB balls do.  The Jays were using MLB balls, so, the 2nd level was not such a bad idea.
Up I went.

When I arrived at the 200 level in left field, there were about 5-7 fans total in the entire left field home run sections. 

I played in the middle of the bleacher-area.  Equal distance to run left and to run right for BP home run baseballs (Clears throat-ballhawks, you paying attention?).

It didn’t take long for Jays stud ALEX RIOS to jack one in my direction.  It was over a whole section away.  I took off running to my right as it hit the seats.  It took a high bounce forward and after a little hurdling, I had BASEBALL #3

A minute later, SCOTT ROLEN jerked one up to the 200 level.  This one was hit to my right and a whole section over, too.  I took off after it and claimed that one in the seats for BASEBALL #4.

Here’s a picture of how the Rolen BP homer came to a rest…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 009.jpgThe Jays bleacher seats fold up.  That little gap in the bottom is just small enough to pin a baseball in between the seat back and the actual seat.  Keep this in mind if you’re ever running after one.

Before this group of hitters were finished, Alex Rios hit one about 100 feet to my left.  After a short sprint and a high bounce back toward the field, I had it for BASEBALL #5
A man with his 16 yr old son said to me, “give it to the kid!” 

So, I asked the kid/young man/guy/lad/licensed driver, “you bring a glove?” 
Laughingly, he replied, “no.”
To which, I replied, “I won’t help you if you won’t help yourself.”

There you have it.  Case closed.

After this big-hitting group was finished, I headed back down to the 100 level of bleachers.

When I arrived, a grounds crew member was picking up a baseball off the warning track. 
I yelled out to him, “baseball for a Blue Jays fan, please?”  He looked up at me and laughed.  So, I said, “come on, I even cracked out the old-school Jays jersey just for you!”  Obviously gaining his approval, he looked back up at me, smiled and tossed me BASEBALL #6.

A few of the Jays lefties were now hitting.  So, I headed over to right field for a better chance.
Blue Jays pitcher SCOTT RICHMOND was shagging BP in right field.  Every time a baseball would come his way, people would scream things like,

  1. Give me a ball.
  2. Hey you, toss up a ball.
  3. Gimme a ball.
  4. Hey, how about a ball.

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.  Try calling him the name his mother and father gave him.

So, I poked my head over by him the next time a baseball came his way. 
I said, “Scott.  Scott Richmond.  Can I have a baseball please, sir?”  He looked up at me and without hesitation, tossed one to me for BASEBALL #7.
The guys next to me said that I only got it because I knew his name. 
No kidding, really?

Back to left field where Jays pitcher SHAWN CAMP tossed me BASEBALL #8 after a polite request.

Seated directly behind me while I snagged the CAMP toss-up was a nice young man named Alex, attending the ballgame with his grandmother.  These are the things I really love to see.  Family spending valuable time together at a baseball game.  They call it “our great game” for a reason.  So, I turned to him and asked him if he had brought his baseball mitt to the game.  He held up a gently used baseball mitt on his left hand.  Very good. 
I then asked him if he had gotten a baseball yet.  He said he had not.  The SHAWN CAMP toss-up would become his own.   

Here’s a picture of that nice young man holding up his new souvenir…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 001.jpg                                                       Way to go Alex!

Battin
g Practice ended, so, I headed over to the Tigers side of the diamond for a warm-up baseball.

I was in about the 5th row at the conclusion of pre-game warm-ups.  Most of the Detroit Tigers had retreated to the dugout.  Tigers SS ADAM EVERETT remained.  As Adam walked off the field and toward the visitor’s dugout, I stood up and yelled, “Adam Everett, baseball please!”  He smiled and threw me BASEBALL #9.

The game was about to begin.  I headed to meet back up with my Dad where we would view the game. 
Here’s what the walk to my seats looked like…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 005.jpg                Come on people.  15,297 in attendance during an opening week game? 
A bit of advice:  Never take for granted the fact that you have a professional baseball team.

Here was my view of the game from SECTION 141/142…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 002.jpgHere was my view to the left…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 004.jpgHere was my view to the right…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 003.jpg                            That’s my Pops in the orange hat and black sweatshirt.

Here’s a view of the game from behind our seats standing on the concourse…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 006.jpgHere’s a picture of me with my ballhawking game face on…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 007.jpg

At one point in the game, I headed to the right field side of the hitter’s eye because Jays LF/DH Adam Lind was at the plate.
What happened?  Lind hit a home run to my section on the left field side of the hitter’s eye.

It was easier to digest when I found out it would have been pretty hard to put a play on it.  It was hit to the front middle of a crowded row.  The Jays fan who caught it on the fly had a glove on and reached up and toward the field standing in the front row.  I could have gotten close to it probably, but still would have had to run a 1/2 section over and 3 rows down over a few people.  Sometimes, that’s just how ballhawking goes.  You just have to play the odds.  It bites you in the rear once in awhile.

In the 9th inning, I headed down to the Tigers dugout.  After the game ended, I ran down to the front row and asked home plate umpire Chris Guccione for a game ball.  I got his attention but he just shrugged his shoulders and put his hands up.  I’m not sure what had happened.  Either he didn’t want to give me a baseball OR he didn’t have any left in his pouch.  I believe the first to be true.  Usually, a fan that knows the umpires names gets rewarded. 
It wasn’t meant to be this time around.  I’ll try again next time.

Now, the team was leaving the field.  I scanned everyone’s hands and mitts for a ball.  Finally, one of the Tigers bullpen arms (not sure exactly who it was-I think it was ZACK MINER) came walking toward me.  He held up the baseball, I held up my glove and he fired it in my direction.  I caught it for BASEBALL #10.  Right after I gloved it, the unknown Tigers player pointed to my left.  I looked over to my left and an 11-12 yr. old kid was standing next to me.  The player motioned that the baseball was meant for the kid.  I looked down at the ball, it was a game ball.  I looked over at the kid and then back at the unknown Tigers player.  He was still standing there waiting for me to give it to the kid.  I looked over at the kid and gave it to him.  Call it peer pressure.  Whatever, it counts for my stats.

I met back up with Zack Hample.  I told him it was nice to finally meet him.  I told him to have a safe trip back to New York City.  I congratulated him on a fine week of ballhawking and wished him luck. 
We parted ways and my Dad and I headed out of the stadium.

4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 010.jpg                                     Can hardly tell there’s a stadium there.                                       
                                    So long, Toronto.  You were good to me.

Final haul for the day…
                                          10 baseballs (all MLB, I might add) 
                                            8 are shown-2 were given away.

Final baseballs for the series…
4_9_09 Tigers vs Blue Jays 012.jpg                                   25 balls (23 are shown/2 were given away)

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 4/9/09

3 balls hit

7 balls thrown

ATTENDANCE:  15,297

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09 = 5   baseballs
4/8/09 = 10 baseballs
4/9/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

25 baseballs (3 games)
8.333 average per game


4/8/09 @ Rogers Centre

My Dad and I arrived at Rogers Centre at 430pm.  The gates to the stadium wouldn’t open for another hour, so, we decided to go grab a Coke up in the Bar overlooking the field.  The bar is called “Arriba.”  It’s a really cool place to hang out before and after Jays games (I can’t say it’s cool during games because there’s no ballhawking potential).  It really does offer some breath-taking views of the field.

See for yourself…
Toronto 4_8_09 002.jpg                 Looking down on left field as the Blue Jays take Batting Practice.

Toronto 4_8_09 003.jpgHere’s a look down at the black hole they call a bullpen.  As I said in my previous post, there’s nothing I hate more than big bullpens that swallow up game home runs.  Come on!!

Toronto 4_8_09 004.jpg

Here’s a look straight down into the 200 level left field bleacher seats.  From what I’ve seen so far, it takes about a 400+ foot shot to reach this level.

Toronto 4_8_09 005.jpg An eagle-eye view looking down into center field.  You can see the first two rows of the lower (100 level) deck bleacher seats.  Be advised, if you’re not in the first 4 or 5 rows of the lower level, you will be under the overhang and not able to glove anything on the fly.

It was now about 515 pm, so, my Dad and I headed out toward GATE 11 which would send me right to the left field foul pole/left field bleacher area.

We grabbed a spot at the front of the line outside GATE 11 and saved one for Zack Hample.

When I was watching BP through the bar windows, I saw a baseball go into the lower grandstand seats down the left field line.  In about the 5th row, I had reason to believe the baseball was still in the seats.  Would it still be there by the time I get in??

Here’s a picture of where I believed the baseball was still lying…

Toronto 4_8_09 003mod.jpg

                                              I had my fingers crossed.

It was now 530 and the gates were about to open to the stadium.
Toronto 4_8_09 001.jpg                       I retrieved my ticket from my not-so-secret spot anymore. 

I sprinted down to the area to which I had hoped the baseball was still lying.  I ran down the stairs and saw an usher in a bright green coat standing in the area I had hoped the baseball would be.  I was about 20 feet away from him when I saw him bend down and pick a baseball out from under the seats.  NO!!!  I walked up to the young man and asked him if he was going to keep that baseball or give it me.  I told him I was some kind of superfan freak and he reluctantly handed it over to me.  Since a Jays player had hit it, it was an MLB ball and not one of the infamous Detroit Tiger International League baseballs. 
BASEBALL #1

As I’m shaking the young man’s hand for his generosity, I hear someone yell, “heads up!”  I look up and BANG!  A baseball hit the seats about 20 feet from me.  I scramble over to that ball ahead of 2 other guys and claim it for number 2.  Another official MLB ball.
BASEBALL #2

I then headed over to the lower level (100 level) of left field bleacher seats to get a spot above the bullpen.  

A few members of the Blue Jays grounds crew were shagging baseballs in the outfield.  That seriously is my dream/fantasy/whatever the heck you want to call it…to actually shag baseballs on the field.  I would do just about anything for that opportunity-just once.

Here’s the Jays grounds crew member in action…
Toronto 4_8_09 006.jpg                                                     Lucky sonofagun.

The Jays wrapped up their portion of BP.  One of the aforementioned grounds crew members entered the Jays bullpen to do some work on the mound.  I looked down at him and noticed he had a baseball in his hands.  Keep in mind, I’ve asked employees for baseballs in the past with little luck.  Would this time be any different?  Yes.  I didn’t even get the chance to ask before he looked up at me and tossed it up.
BASEBALL #3

Here is that gentleman pictured after his act of kindness…


Toronto 4_8_09 012.jpg

Here’s a picture of baseball #3…

Toronto 4_8_09 028.jpg

As you can see, the baseball has been so abused, you can barely read the writing on it. 
It’s what’s left of an official MLB ball.  The surface leather has a rough feel with no real deep scuffs or scars.  It most likely was used out of a pitching machine. 

The Detroit Tigers now had taken the field for BP.

Marcus Thames and Carlos Guillen were once again taking fly balls out in left field.  After about 5 minutes, I asked Marcus Thames for a baseball.  He tossed it to a fan about 40 feet to my right.  I asked again and he looked up at me and nodded.  Okay, he would throw the next one.  Two minutes later, he did.  International League ball.
BASEBALL #4

Here’s a really bad picture of Marcus Thames taken a min. after he tossed me number 4…
Toronto 4_8_09 010.jpg

Tigers pitcher Juan Rincon was shagging BP in center field when I yelled out to him, “Juan Rincon, Tigers fan, front row.  Baseball please!!”

He fielded the next baseball and without hesitation, fired it into my waiting leather.  Another Int’l League ball.
BASEBALL #5

At this time, I moved over to right field.  I felt I had used up most of my potential for toss-ups in left field.

Tigers pitcher Fernando Rodney was doing some wind sprints along the warning track in right field when I arrived.

Not too long after I arrived in right field, a baseball rolled up to the wall where Rodney was running.  I asked for the baseball and he fired it to me.  Int’l League ball-see a pattern here?
BASEBALL #6

The same situation occurred with Tigers pitcher Bobby Seay.  Thank you very much…!  (Int’l League ball)
BASEBALL #7

Tigers pitcher Eddie Bonine was doing some wind sprints out in right field when a baseball was hit in his direction.  The ball was descending upon him when I yelled, “heads up, heads up!”  Eddie curled up to protect himself and the ball bounced dangerously close to him.  So I said, “ball for a save, Eddie?”  Without hesitation, and feeling it well worth the effort, he tossed it to me for ball number 8 on the day.  (Int’l League ball)
BASEBALL #8

To wrap up a pretty damn good BP, Justin Verlander tossed me number 9 from right center field.  I asked politely and he obliged.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was wearing his #35 jersey, either :)  And yup, you guessed it…a genuine fake leather Int’l League ball.
BASEBALL #9

3 baseballs snagged from the Blue Jays = all Major League baseballs
6 baseballs snagged from the Tigers = all Internatinal League baseballs

So, who’s going to play like a pro?  Who’s going to play like a bunch of minor leaguers?
Cheapskates.  Oh well…beggers can’t be choosers, right?

During pre-game warmups, this was my view zoomed in from a ways away…

 

Toronto 4_8_09 014.jpg

Nothing special, right?  Wrong. 
Take another look at the picture below.

Toronto 4_8_09 016.jpg

That fella standing there in the Detroit Tigers shirt is none other than Zack Hample.  Great positioning, Zack. 
Zack, you really are as advertised.

The game got off to a bang with a home run by Miguel Cabrera and we were rolling.
Here was our view for the game from our front row centerfield bleacher seats…
Toronto 4_8_09 018.jpg  Awesome view from home run territory…maybe I’ll snag a prized souvenir?

Another view…
Toronto 4_8_09 017.jpg

ahhhh!  I love bleacher seats.

The aforementioned ballhawk extraordinaire, Zack Hample, would be seated in the 200 level bleachers directly above us…

Toronto 4_8_09 019.jpgBetween the Zack-man and I, we had left field covered.  If there was a game home run to be had, the odds were pretty damn good it was going to be one of us to snag it.

Speaking of game home runs, Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate in the 5th inning.  He had already gone deep in the 1st inning. 

Crack…!

Here it comes, baby.  I shuffled through the first row to my left toward centerfield.  I was tracking it all the way.  I’m camped underneath it, glove ready.  It was a bomb. 

It ended up hitting off the concrete facade directly above me and bounced back onto the field directly to Jays centerfielder Vernon Wells. 

I yelled to Vernon Wells and held up my glove…within two seconds, the game home run baseball was in my glove.

Here’s where the game home run struck the concrete facade…
Toronto 4_8_09 020.jpg

         The red arrow above shows where the Cabrera game home run struck the facade.

The red arrow below shows a sore loser and another look at where the homer hit…

Toronto 4_8_09 023.jpg This guy went out of his way to show his displeasure.  I know the feeling, pal, just gotta suck it up. 

A face only a mother could love…
Toronto 4_8_09 024.jpg

Alright, enough of that.  Besides, yellow is my color.  That’s like marigold or something.

 

The Miguel Cabrera game home run ball…

Toronto 4_8_09 026.jpg

          THE 48TH GAME HOME RUN BASEBALL OF MY BALLHAWKING CAREER.

I didn’t snag it on the fly, but a game homer is a game homer, no matter how you stack it up.  It’s the only one in the world hit by that player for that exact career # home run.  Baseball is a game of statistics-always was always will be.

Here’s another look at the game homer…

Toronto 4_8_09 029.jpgYou can see the tiny blue mark on the sweetspot where the ball hit the blue concrete facade.

Yet another look.  I know-I’m a geek…

Toronto 4_8_09 030.jpg

     This picture shows the brown mark where the ball bounced down off the warning track.

 

Here’s a picture of my Dad and I doing a little bonding at the ballpark…
Toronto 4_8_09 022.jpg

                             I’m having a blast and I’m spending it with my Pops!

A special thanks to Usher Evan for taking this picture for us.  We talked with Evan throughout the game in Section 141.  Evan is an extremely friendly young man who’s passionate about baseball and dedicated to his position with the Toronto Blue Jays.  If everyone was as friendly as him, the world would be a better place.  Thanks Evan!

Here’s a picture of Evan proudly displaying his hometown blue…
Toronto 4_8_09 025.jpg

Evan was a world of knowledge when it comes to his Jays. 

Some tidbits I learned from this friendly young man…

  • It takes 20 minutes to open and close the roof.
  • It costs $9 in electricity to open and close the roof.
  • The field turf contains 1300 individual square/rectangular sections.

To name a few…very interesting.

 

An all around great day at the park.

Final haul…

Toronto 4_8_09 027.jpg                                10 total baseballs including the game home run.

 

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 4/8/09

2 balls hit

8 balls thrown

(1 game home run)

ATTENDANCE:  12,145

 

TOTAL BALLS = 15 (2 games)

7.5 balls per game


 

4/7/09 @ Rogers Centre

It was 7pm CT in Milwaukee, when my Dad (Jack) and I loaded up my Ford Explorer and headed out on our trek north of the border.  We traveled under the cover of darkness in true tactical-style.  By the time it was 9pm CT, we had already by-passed Chicago (home of the White Sox-Cukthefubs).  Traveling through Michigan was a breeze and we were soon about to cross the border.

A few energy drinks and conversations later with my best buddy, Dear ol’ Dad, and we were at the border.  There was only one lane open, due to the fact that it was 3am ET, so, we rolled right up.  I handed the border agent our two passports and my sheriff’s badge.

“What brings you to Canada?” the border agent inquired.  “Baseball, sir,” I responded. 

“Who’s playing?” he asked.  “Blue Jays vs. the Tigers, sir” I said. 

“Where’s your birth certificate?” he asked.  “I thought the passports would suffice, sir” I stated.

When he realized there wasn’t a third passenger, he asked me, “why did you hand me your badge?”  I responded, “professional courtesy, sir.  Another form of photo indentification.”

Okay,” he said.  “Where are your tickets?”

They are being held at will call, sir” I responded.

“No, I mean where in the stadium?” he asked.

“Oh, we will be seated in the left field bleachers, sir” I said.

He responded, “so, you brought your ball glove, then?”

To which I happily responded, “yes sir!”

“Alright, go ahead” he said, as he handed back my passports and badge.

“Thank you sir” I said, as we proceeded across the border and into Canada.

 

He asked me if I brought my glove!  I think 2009 is going to be a great season.  Funny stuff.

After breakfast at Denny’s, we arrived at our hotel in downtown Toronto around 9am ET.  We were able to check into our hotel early because they were expecting me.  No, just kidding…but we did get to check in early : )

My Dad and I took a nap until about 1 pm ET because we had driven through the night. Lord knows I can’t ballhawk on zero sleep.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

 

Around 3pm, we headed to the stadium. 

Toronto 4_7_09 007.jpg                   Here I am at the ticket window picking up our tickets for the game.

                                     SECTION 137 ROW 4 SEATS 101 & 102

 

Toronto 4_7_09 002.jpgWe had some time to goof off, so, we wandered around the park and took in some sights, including the CN Tower pictured above. 

ENERGY DRINKS-sometimes, a ballhawk’s best friend.

Here’s an interesting sign that was posted at all entrances of the stadium…

Toronto 4_7_09 005.jpg

Alcohol sales were suspended on 4/7/09 game due to a bunch of drunken idiots the night before.  Didn’t bother me a bit…I don’t drink and ballhawk.  They don’t mix.

We then headed to find the gate to which we would be entering the stadium.

Toronto 4_7_09 006.jpg

Here I am freezing my **** off outside GATE 11.  This gate would lead me directly to the left field lower section (100 level) of bleachers.

The gates to the stadium were opening at 530 pm.  It was only 4pm.  So, my Dad and I headed into the Renaissance Hotel Bar called “Arriba.”  I had a Diet Coke.  My Dad had a house beer. 

We watched the Blue Jays take BP.  I noticed that most of the baseballs hit into the stands were bouncing in either the left field bullpen or the lower section of bleachers in left field.  None too many baseballs were finding their way into the 200 level of bleachers, hmmm.

One baseball that did make it’s way into the 200 level came to a rest in the bottom of the aisle.  There was nobody around, hmmm again.  10 minutes passed…20 minutes passed…30 minutes passed…the baseball was still there.  Would it still be there when I get into the stadium??  Hmmm.  I counted the sections over where I might find that baseball upon gate opening.  Fingers-crossed.

It’s now about 430 pm.  Time to give Zack Hample a call.  If you don’t know who Zack Hample is, you might want to climb out from underneath that rock.  Zack is a great baseball fan with a great website.  Zack’s love of the game rivals my own and Zack is pretty damn good at snagging baseballs, too.

The Zack-man and I compared some notes and we agreed to meet outside GATE 14.

Toronto 4_7_09 008.jpg    Pictured:  (from left to right) The Happy Youngster, Zack Hample and Happy’s Dad-Jack.

 

Zack proved to be a stand-up guy.  Through e-mail correspondence, it felt like we were brothers.  This proved to be an accurate assessment after meeting him in person.

530 pm – gates to the stadium opened.

I was now entering the stadium through GATE 14.  I raced down the walkway to the left and into the 200 level.  I shot through the first tunnel I spotted that would lead me to my potential easter egg find.  I counted the sections over and looked to the ground.  It was not there!!  Wait a minute…ahah!  There it was.  Lying there so innocently on the bottom row-yet to be claimed-until now.
BASEBALL #1

Toronto 4_7_09 019.jpg           There she is…ball #1 of this young season.  I think I’ll call her “Lonely Betty.”     

After claiming the easter egg, I raced down another level to the 100 level bleacher seats where I would set up camp for the time being.

Tigers LF Carlos Guillen was taking warm-up fly balls directly in front of me.  I had on my #35 Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers jersey.  When a baseball came near him, I yelled out, “dame la bolla, por favor, senor Guillen!”  He turned and without looking threw a baseball to a guy standing about 20 feet to my right.  The guy muffed the toss-up and it dropped onto the bullpen net and rolled down.  When I yelled out, “that’s okay, the next one,” Guillen realized he had thrown it to the wrong guy.

About 5 minutes later, Guillen retrieved another baseball.  I yelled out once again, “por favor, senor Guillen!”  This time, he fired a perfect seed right into my waiting mitt.
BASEBALL #2

Upon further inspection of ball #2, I discovered this…

Toronto 4_7_09 018.jpgThe Detroit Tigers were using International League baseballs!!  No wonder they couldn’t hit anything out.  These baseballs have a waxy, fake leather feel to them.  If you hold an official Major League baseball in one hand and in the other hand, you hold one of these, it’s easy to feel the difference. 

Another 10 minutes passed, with very little action in the bleachers.  The Tigers appeared to have left their power strokes back in Detroit.  Then Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera had their turn to hit.  With that power coming up to hit, I headed back up to the 200 level.

The bottom level (100 level) of bleachers were definitely more crowded than the 200 level.  But, there was a better chance of a ball being hit to the bottom level than the top level.

A few minutes passed and neither of the big sluggers was hitting anything.  I was getting a bit frustrated, since my main focus of ballhawking has always been retrieving batted balls. 
Time for PLAN B…just ask for the damn ball.

Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander was shagging BP out in left field.  After about 5 minutes of yelling, my aforementioned #35 VERLANDER jersey finally paid off.  Justin turned and lofted one to me in the second level.  I had to reach way out over the railing but did manage to catch it.  “Thanks!” I yelled out to him.  Another International League ball.
BASEBALL #3

I moved out to left-center where Tigers pitcher Juan Rincon was shagging BP.  I yelled out to him in Spanish.  He didn’t respond.  A minute later, I tried it again.  No response. 
Okay, fine. Keep trying. 
Finally, a ball was hit in the gap where he had to run over in my direction.  I was standing in the front row holding up my glove.  He tossed it to a fan about 30 feet to my right. 
I wasn’t about to give up.  Another ball was hit to him.  I asked one more time in Spanish.  He turned and looked at me.  I held up my glove and he tossed it to me for #4. 
International League ball?   YUP…cheapskates.
BASEBALL #4

The Detroit Tigers portion of Batting Practice was really frustrating me.  There were maybe a handful of opportunities to snag a baseball on the fly for the whole bleacher area.  None in my vicinity.  I hadn’t seen BP this bad since the Pirates came to Milwaukee County Stadium.  eesh!!

BP ended in quiet fashion. 
Understand, I’ve made my ballhawk living snagging batted balls.  When no batted balls are hit, times are not as good.

Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson was now in the bullpen warming up for the game.  I seated myself in the front row above the Tigers pen. 

One of Jackson’s pitches got away from him and bounced off a metal structure located near the Tigers bullpen.  Tigers bullpen coach Jeff Jones retrieved it.  He looked down at the ball. 

I knew exactly what he was thinking.  He was looking to see if that baseball had a scuff on it or not.  Then he started looking up into the stands with the baseball concealed in his hand. Again, I knew exactly what he was thinking.  He was trying to find a Detroit Tigers fan. 
So, I stood up and held up my glove.  We made eye contact and he lofted it up to me.
BASEBALL #5

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As you can see in the picture above, the baseball Jeff Jones tossed up to me not only had a deep indented tear (over the “BA” in BASEBALL and directly above the SELIG portion of Bud’s signature), but it also had a rough looking black scuff on it, as well.

Right before the start of the game, my Dad and I went to the food stands for a little pre-game meal…

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                                                    Antacids, anyone?

After consuming those two gut grenades, I made a donation to a charity called JAYS CARE…

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My lovely wife and her family have taught me some valuable lessons over the past few years.  If you’re in a good situation in life, share some time, money and talents with those in need.

Around the 4th inning, another great MLBlogger and I met for the first time.
Jeremy at HomerFoodandHistory stopped by to say hello.  Jeremy’s a great guy who lives about 40 minutes from Toronto.  He told me he wore his Brewers #4 Molitor jersey just for me…thanks!!
Here’s a picture of Jeremy and I meeting for the first time…

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Jeremy and his friend Charles retreated back to their box seats (!!) and we agreed to meet up after the game.

Speaking of the game:  Here was the view of the game from our seats…

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Another view…

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That area in the bottom of the above photo is the black hole they call a bullpen.  Nothing chaps my **** more than a big fat ol’ bullpen right in home run territory.  Way to design a park where 20% of home run balls never reach the seats…stupid. 
Of course, I think this way because I’m a ballhawk.

The game was uneventful until Scott Rolen jacked one directly over our heads to the 200 level seats above us.  It was the 1st home run of the game and it was the 8th inning, I believe.

The Blue Jays ended up winning the game 5-4 on a sac fly in the bottom of the 9th by Rod Barajas.

After the game concluded, I was directly above the Tigers dugout.  I was waiting for home plate umpire Jerry Layne to exit the field.  I yelled out to him, but with the crowd going nuts, he could not hear me and disappeared into the dugout. 

After the game, we again met up with Zack Hample.  Zack offered to show us his hotel room inside the stadium that looked out over right field.  We took him up on the offer.

Thumbnail image for Toronto 4_7_09 016.jpg    The picture appears a tad blurry but that’s because Zack and I both move so fast, eh?!

Another shot…this time using the flash…

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                        Zack, I forgot to ask…what’s the story with the YSOP shirt?

For anyone interested in my totally awesome shirt…it’s now on sale for the very modest price of $13.99 ppd.  Only available at www.milwaukeeshirtguys.com
BUY IT!!

To wrap up our day, my Dad and I again met up with Jeremy and his friend Charles.  They took us to a nice little Italian-style bar where we enjoyed a few adult beverages. 
Thanks guys!

So, that concludes my 2009 regular season ballhawking debut.

Final haul for the day…

Toronto 4_7_09 020.jpg                                       5 baseballs and a few new friends.

It’s gotta be the shoes!!

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2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 5 Total balls 4/7/09

(1 ball hit-easter egg)

(4 balls thrown)

ATTENDANCE:  16,790

 

Goals for 2009

resolution (noun) 1.  Firm determination.  2.  An act of resolving to do something.  3.  A course of action determined or decided on.


goal
(noun) 1.  The objective toward which an endeavor is directed.  2.  The finish line of a race.

I prefer to use goal as the choice word when looking ahead to what I would like to accomplish.
While I hardly plan on 2009 being my finish line, I do have a few choice endeavors for ’09.

Here are a few:


1.
  Be the best father and husband a wife and little girl (boy very soon, too!) could ask for… because there’s always room for improvement.

2.  Squeeze the aforementioned healthy baby boy come end of January…because good health is the greatest gift.

3.  Always be there for my family…because everyone needs protectors. 

4.  Snag 150 baseballs/7 game home runs by the All Star Break.  300 baseballs/14 game home runs by season’s end…because this would set personal records.

5.  Catch a milestone game home run…easier said than done, but they’re fun!

6.  Make a new friend each day…because who couldn’t use more friends?

7.  Take lots of baseball road trips…I might visit your city!

8.  Limit bad decisions…we all make ‘em.  I just want to keep them at bay.

9.  Re-model my wife’s bathroom…I use it too, but let’s face it-it’s her’s!

10.  Watch lots of MLB Network…speaking of-you’ll have to excuse me…

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                                       What goals do you have?
 

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