Results tagged ‘ Chicago White Sox ’

8/17/09 @ US Cellular Field

Remember the Carlos Quentin home run hit back on 8/04/09 that bounced off the metal roof and landed on top of the shrubs at U.S. Cellular Field?? 

Does this refresh your memory (photos taken August 4th, 2009)…
Thumbnail image for 8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 027.jpg
…???

How about this…
Thumbnail image for 8_04_09 Angels vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 032.jpg
…???
(check out the links above for a quick refresher)

More on this later…

Radar showed a massive green blob of rain heading straight toward Chicago.  After monitoring the green blob for around 7 hours (with no change), I left work at 1pm and headed to Miller Park.
At Miller Park, I was going to meet up with two good young ballhawks named Casey & Matt.  They’re regulars at Miller Park and they’re both cool dudes.  Casey has his very own ballhawking blog that you can check out by clicking here.  From there, we were all going to pile in my truck and head down to the Waukegan train station.

After approx. a 1hr. drive, we arrived at the train station.  Unfortunately, we missed the 2:10 train because the drive-thru at White Castle took WAY too long.  Oh well…we would catch the 3:10 train.

There was about an hour to kill…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 009.jpg
…so, we played some catch.

Followed by…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 016.jpg
…more catch.

If there was an errant throw or an overthrow into the high grass…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 018.jpg
…no worries.  I brought a few extra.

Finally, we were on the train to Chicago…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 019.jpg

After a quick ride on the Red Line subway, we arrived at US Cellular Field. 
We wasted no time before grabbing our spot in line…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 022.jpg8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 020.jpg

That’s when a young man approached me and said, “Nick?”

I turned around and quickly realized it was Alex from the Ballhawk League.
Alex is 13 yrs. old and has a great ballhawking future ahead of him. 
Check out Alex’s blog by clicking here.  He’s one cool kid.

The aforementioned future ballhawk star…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 023.jpg

…and I. 

When the gates to the stadium opened at 5:30 pm, all four of us sprinted up the long concourse, flashed our 100 level tickets to security and entered the seating area. 

Would there be BP??

YES!!  The BP GODS have spoken!

When I saw the field was occupied by numerous Sox players, I discovered that I had an extra gear.  I ran all the way down the 1st baseline, around the rightfield foul pole, behind the batter’s eye and eventually, made it to the left field bleachers.

The 1st thing I did was to scan the moat for any glove-trick opportunities.  I spotted one out in left-center.  After about 10 seconds, I reeled up Ball #1.  As I was reeling it up, an unknown Sox player hit one directly
to me.  My glove was dangling in the moat at the time, so, all I could do was stick out my barehand.  It ended up bouncing off the warning track and then bouncing off my barehand…ending up back on the field.  Luckily, White Sox reliever Randy Williams took notice of my effort and rewarded me with the baseball via toss-up for #2.

When I removed the baseball I had just glove-tricked, things took a turn for the worse. 
The rubber band was dangling from one side of the glove…it had snapped.  Oh no!!

As luck would have it, the White Sox were finishing up with BP and were running off the field.  I knew I would have about 2-3 minutes before the balls would be flying once again. 

Quickly, I removed the old rubber band and grabbed a new one from my backpack.  I bit it to make one long rubber string (I have to do this so I can string the rubber band through and around the stringing in my glove) and tied it through.  After a 3-4 minute delay, I was back in business. 

Things started to happen really fast from here on out. 

Ball #3 was snagged on the bounce off the bat of Miguel Olivo.
Ball #4 was then glove-tricked out of the moat.

Here’s a blurry shot of me reeling in #4…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 025.jpg

A few minutes later, a ball was hit out to deep center.  Royals coach Rusty Kuntz (cool name, huh?) waddled out to retrieve it. 

I said, “coach, any chance I could get that or do I have to earn it?”
Rusty responded, “you have to earn it!”

Just when I let my guard down for a second and looked away, I saw the Rusty ball descending down toward me.  In a defensive reaction, the ball clanked off my glove and fell into the moat.  Dammit!!!  I looked a little foolish missing that ball.  Whatever, I would glove-trick it.  Or so I thought.  Out of nowhere, came two brothers with a glove-trick of their own.  They were quicker than me to get their glove-trick lowered, so, I let them go for it.  After they fumbled with it for 4-5 minutes, I told them I would take care of it.  After about 30 seconds, I reeled up Ball #5.

billy butler.jpg

Ball #6 came off the bat of
BILLY BUTLER.

When it was hit, I hurdled three rows of bleachers, ran over about 5 feet and put my glove up as high as I could reach. 

Smack…on the fly.

A new group was taking the cage.  So, I scanned all the moats…nothing.  I had a weird feeling about the gap behind the centerfield fence.  Nobody was paying any attention to that area. 
When I peered over the railing, this is what I saw…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 024.jpg…mwahaha!!
Ball #7 took about 7 seconds to reel up. 

john buck.jpg

When I was putting #7 in the backpack, the dude pictured to the right lifted one high into the air.  I ran through a few aisles, jumped over a few rows of bleachers and made the grab on the fly. 

I was locked in.

                                                                                                                JOHN BUCK

A bunch of lefties were now hitting for the Royals, so, I moved to right field.  It was crowded. 

That’s where I met a really cool guy named Ben. 
Ben asked if I was “The Happy Youngster.”  I told him I was and we began to chat like we knew each other for years.  Ben was wearing this really slick Dan Quisenberry Royals jersey.  Oh yeah, Ben has a collection of jerseys that would blow your mind.  According to “jerseyboy” (his handle on the mlblogs network), he has over 1500 jerseys!!  Holy crap!  I told Ben I would catch up with him after BP (picture to follow).

After about 6-7 minutes, MIKE JACOBS launched one in my direction.  I scrambled through the aisle like my *** was on fire.  I found my spot and made the snag on the fly. 

Booyah…#9. 
As an added bonus, it was an HHH Metrodome commemorative baseball.
Woohoo!

I *needed* to get to double-digits to break the Coghlan curse.
(if you don’t know by now, don’t ask)

Unfortunately, BP soon ended.

As BP ended, the rain began to fall.
There truly is a BP God…I swear.

As the majority of the stadium attendees sought refuge, I relished in it. 
I’ve mentioned before – roofs are overrated.  I enjoy an occasional rain delay. 

A rain delay is what I got…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 033.jpg
                                                                                    &
nbsp;                    
During the delay, we wandered around the stadium. 

That’s when I saw *it*

SweetMotherofGod…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 027.jpg

8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 028.jpg
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 029.jpg
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 030.jpg
!!!  (these pictures above were taken August 17th, 2009)

Do you see it?  Holy ****!!

The Carlos Quentin home run hit on August 4th was still lying out on the batter’s eye two weeks later!  Same spot…same ball.  EXACTLY the same ball.

I had to get that ball for the following reasons:

  • it would make a cool story
  • it would give me double-digits for the 1st time since 5/13/09
  • it would give me 52 career game home run balls snagged

I just *had* to figure out a way to get that ball.

After about an hour rain-delay, the weather began to clear.
That’s when a rainbow appeared above US Cellular Field…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 036.jpg

In the top of the 2nd inning, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a home run into the White Sox bullpen.  Would it be glove-trickable??  Alex (who was sitting next to me in the 2nd row above the Royals dugout) and I were about to find out.  So, we raced out to left field to take a look.

When we made it to left, we grabbed a couple seats in about the 7th row.  When the time was right, we made it down to the railing of the Sox bullpen.

Here was my view…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 038.jpg

…see the home run ball? 

If that would have stayed at the rear of the bullpen, it would have been glove-tricked. 
No doubt about it. 

Alex and I stayed in the 7th row behind the bullpen.  When the Sox 1/2 of the 2nd rolled around, JAYSON NIX launched one straight in our direction.  I started to dart down the staircase.  A fat guy in the 5th row acted like it was coming straight at his head.  He just froze in the aisle and put his arms out.  After I maneuvered around Fat-Man, I made it down to the front row.  As I extended my glove-hand all the way out over the railing, the home run ball bounced off the bottom of the rear wall of the bullpen and bounced back toward the front of the pen, coming to a rest about 1 foot away from the Betancourt home run.  I had just come about 6 feet from a game home run.  Damn.
Immediately, Sox Coach Juan Nieves ran out and grabbed the Nix home run.  In the process, he kicked the Royals home run and made a gesture with his hand, pinching his nose as if something stunk.  Alex and I were both in the front row waiting for the toss-up.  Nieves launched it over our heads. 
Where did it land, you ask??  Directly in the seat Alex vacated in the 7th row.
Double-damn…the kid took it hard but I told him he made the right decision by getting to the front row.  There’s just no way of knowing that ball would have been tossed 7 rows up.

After more on-again/off-again rain…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 040.jpg
…the White Sox defeated the Royals 8-7.

After the game, I tried for an ump ball from Chad Fairchild…with no luck.

I wandered over to the Royals dugout for a toss-up ball…with no luck.

That’s when I met back up with Ben (aka-jerseyboy).
Here’s Ben and I after the game by the visitor’s dugout…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 042.jpg

…Ben, I hope we cross paths again soon.  It was a pleasure meeting you.

I said my goodbyes to Alex (and his Dad) and told my friends I was determined to end the Coghlan curse.

BEGIN MISSION CARLOS QUENTIN HOME RUN BALL:

For various reasons (that should be obvious to most), I cannot provide exact details.

I can say this:

  • I was alone and unassisted.
  • I did obtain the home run ball directly.
  • It was, without a doubt, the home run ball hit on 8/04/09 by Carlos Quentin.
  • It was partially waterlogged.
  • I was the 1st fan t
    o obtain possession of it.
  • While unorthodox, it counts toward my career home run stats.
  • I did have a few witnesses (from afar) for the majority of the ball’s retrieval.

If you see me, ask me about it.

Here I am with Career Game Home Run Ball #52
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 043.jpg
An injury incurred along the way…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 045.jpg

As for the ball…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 046.jpg
…it was starting to deteriorate and had a few brown spots on it.

But, at least the sweet-spot was clean…8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 047.jpg
…I’ve gone completely nuts.

The ten (10) baseballs snagged…
8_17_09 Royals vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 050.jpg

…with the game home run ball in the front.

What a day…

2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 10 total balls 8/17/09

5 batted baseballs (including 1 game home run hit by Carlos Quentin on 8/04/09)

1 tossup baseball

4 device baseballs

ATTENDANCE:  36,703

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
7/24/09 = 6   baseballs
7/27/09 = 8   baseballs
7/29/09 = 3   baseballs
8/04/09 = 4   baseballs
8/11/09 = 7   baseballs
8/12/09 = 6   baseballs
8/15/09 = 4   baseballs
8/16/09 = 3   baseballs
8/17/09 = 10 baseballs
___________________

292 baseballs (48 games)
6.08 average per game

7/20/09 @ US Cellular Field

Let’s get the 2nd half rolling, shall we…??

 

I had spotted this date on the calendar a few months ago.  The defending A.L. champion Tampa Bay Rays were going to be in Chicago to play the south-siders on a Monday night.

I circled the date.

A good friend of mine, Jamil, was taking the trek with me.

We jumped on a train headed to downtown Chicago and before we knew it, we were in “The Windy City.”

This would be my 4th trip to “the Cell” this season. 
My 2009 U.S. Cellular Field stats:

  • 5/19 = 8 baseballs
  • 6/1   = 1 baseball (rain)
  • 6/2   = 9 baseballs

For all you math majors, that’s a 6 ball average…right on par with my current season average.

 

When we arrived at the ballpark, we immediately went to the ticket windows to purchase our seats (as you may or may not know, select tickets are 1/2 price every Monday night).

“Two 1/2 price bleacher seats, please,” I said confidently.

“All we have are upper reserved,” the ticket rep responded.

Huh?? 

Turns out it was Italian night or something.  All tickets were 1/2 price! 

Great.  Just great.  There goes my batting practice. 

For those planning a trip to see the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field:  you must have a lower level ticket to be able to access the bleachers for Batting Practice.

So, we sat by the home plate entrance and waited for a few ticket sellers/scalpers to show up.
They never came.

5:15 pm rolled around and we had to make a decision.  Either buy upper reserved and HOPE we could access the bleachers
OR
get back on the train, drink some beer and go home.

I decided we would take a chance and buy the upper reserved (total nosebleed).
After the tickets were purchased (for $9.50 each), we jumped in line.

When the gates opened, we went up the ramp and approached the security guard that was checking tickets/granting access to the lower level.

As luck would have it, he recognized me from ESPN and granted me access.
Are you kidding me?!?!

Shortly after the gates opened, the left field bleachers were crowded.
Take a look…

7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 001.jpg

…it got much worse.

There was another challenge…

7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 002.jpg

…the sun is brutal at “the Cell.”
See all the people shielding their eyes??

No worries.  I had a secret weapon to beat the crowds and the sun…the glove trick.

I was about to have a glove-trick party. 

The 1st thing I did when I ran into the left field bleachers was to scan the moat that’s positioned between the 1st row of seats and the left field wall.

What did I see??  A lonely baseball lying down there yet to be claimed.

But, wait…there’s more!

I quickly lowered the glove trick and had my 1st ball on the day.

Check this **** out…

7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 011.jpg

…sweet Mother of God!
An absolute perfect World Baseball Classic ball.

The White Sox are using WBC balls??  Holy hell!!

I was not finished.

A quick peek into the Sox bullpen in left field…

7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 004.jpg

…oh yeah!

BALL #2 and BALL #3 were waiting for me. 

What was even better?? 
#2 was another WBC ball!

What was even better than that??
#3 was given away to a nearby kid standing with his Dad.

A closer look at the two (2) WBC balls snagged…

7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 039.jpg

…as you can see, they were perfectly white.  Only marred by the ridiculous “PRACTICE” stamp. 

I hate that stamp.

By the time I had reeled in those three, the Rays had already begun to hit.  I found a spot in the 2nd row where I could stand and actually have enough room to itch my asssss. 
That is where I would make my biggest error on the season.

With Jamil as my witness, I had a Longoria BP homer ricochet off the end of my glove. 
It was a combination of three things I tell you:

  • sun
  • bad footwork
    and
  • white men can’t jump

    ****!!  That sucked.

It was a good thing I still had the secret weapon. 

Before BP was over, I managed to glove-trick three more balls out of the Sox bullpen, bringing my total on the day up to six (6).

BALL #6 was given to an adult.  Yeah, you read that right.  An adult. 
Earlier, the guy had that very same ball bounce off his bare hands only to have it drop into the pen.
At first, I asked him if he had any kids.  He was slow to respond which meant, “no.”

It didn’t matter.  I gave it to him, anyway. 
He had been overly cool about letting me into the aisle above where the baseballs had been lying.  Besides, he and his wife said I was awesome.  What more do you need? 

Toward the end of Batting Practice, I noticed Rays reliever Randy Choate limp-wristed one toward the front row.  It fell short and fell into the moat…
7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 003.jpg
…oh, darn.

After BP, I went over to the spot where I could recall the ball had landed…
7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 009.jpg
…there it was.
 
(The above picture was taken by leaning way over the fence and aiming my camera underneath me and the fence.  That ball could not be seen by simply looking st
raight down)

To get it, I would have to swing the glove underneath the platform and knock it back out so it would be directly below me.

Surprisingly efficient, it took me two swings to get it into position.  Another 5 seconds and BALL #7 was mine.

7 balls snagged…all via the glove trick.  Sweet.

Hey Zack…if you’re reading this, what’s your single-game record for glove-tricks??
Just curious.

Jamil posing with 2 of the 5 remaining baseballs7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 010.jpg
…we were having a good time.

We took a stroll, ending up over at the Rays pen. 
Just in time to see this young stud take his warm-up pitches…
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 020.jpgThumbnail image for 7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 019.jpg
7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 021.jpg7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 023.jpg

7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 025.jpg

…David freakin’ Price.

That guy is a stud.

The stadium was packed, so, we wandered around.
After consuming over $50 in concessions (between the two of us), we ended up behind the plate by the 9th inning.

I was going to try to make it 8 balls on the day.

For those who plan on visiting “The Cell,” the ump entrance/exit is located below…

7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 032.jpg

…through the gate and up that tunnel.

Home Plate umpire Mike Reilly wanted to keep his balls, though. 

No problem. 

Our night was over.

The five baseballs I took home…

7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 038.jpg

…which reminds me-I have to set a couple aside for Jamil’s two boys.

One final picture taken on the train-ride home…

7_20_09 Rays vs White Sox @ US Cellular Field 034.jpg

…apparently, we were not the only ones who had a fun day.


2009 BALLHAWKING STATS

  • 7 total balls 7/20/09

7 device


ATTENDANCE:  39,024

2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS

4/7/09   = 5   baseballs
4/8/09   = 10 baseballs
4/9/09   = 10 baseballs
4/10/09 = 3   baseballs
4/11/09 = 5   baseballs
4/12/09 = 5   baseballs
4/13/09 = 11 baseballs
4/14/09 = 6   baseballs
4/21/09 = 5   baseballs
4/27/09 = 15 baseballs
4/28/09 = 9   baseballs
4/30/09 = 4   baseballs
5/01/09 = 7   baseballs
5/02/09 = 4   baseballs
5/08/09 = 11 baseballs
5/09/09 = 1   lousy ball
5/12/09 = 14 baseballs
5/13/09 = 12 baseballs
5/19/09 = 8   baseballs
5/22/09 = 3   baseballs
5/23/09 = 2   baseballs
5/26/09 = 3   baseballs
5/29/09 = 6   baseballs
5/30/09 = 5   baseballs
6/01/09 = 1   baseball
6/02/09 = 9   baseballs
6/09/09 = 4   baseballs
6/10/09 = 0   baseballs
6/11/09 = 2   baseballs
6/12/09 = 9   baseballs
6/23/09 = 6   baseballs
6/24/09 = 9   baseballs
6/26/09 = 9   baseballs
6/27/09 = 4   baseballs
6/29/09 = 3   baseballs
6/30/09 = 5   baseballs
7/07/09 = 6   baseballs
7/10/09 = 3   baseballs
7/20/09 = 7   baseballs
___________________

241 baseballs (39 games)
6.18 average per game

ONE LAST NOTE:  Through a connection of mine, I’m now off to meet a celebrity who happens to be a big baseball fan.  He got a few backstage passes for my wife and I.

Here’s a few hints…

  • he’s an “IDOL”ized musician 
  • he was raised in Missouri
  • now lives in Tulsa, OK
  • performed at the 2009 Home Run Derby
  • is an avid baseball fan who cheers for the K.C. Royals. 

Any guesses or did I give it away????

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.