The 6th Day of Spring Training – 4/2/10

            Ah, Tropicana Field, the third permanent dome stadium I have ever been to (the others are the Metrodome and Olympic Stadium). This one was the most complex one of them all; all the others were pretty basic. Like even the outside wasn’t just the same repetitive thing over and over again like the Metrodome’s outside was, this had different things to see.

Outside of Tropicana Field

There were some slightly colorful areas:

Tropicana Field Rotunda Entrance

And then some dull, boring areas:

Dull Area of Tropicana Field

Some empty gates:

Gate 5 at Tropicana Field

Basically Nothing:

Basically Nothing at the Trop

            The outside was somewhat interesting to see, and it made Tropicana Field seem pretty big. But then there was the inside to see. I went in through the Rotunda, which was nothing more than an area smaller than the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, except this one had a small baseball field painted on the ground. I ran past the rotunda and into the seating bowl, hoping to find some easter eggs. But when I entered the seats and saw that there were tens of ushers out already, I knew there’d be none. And the seats were plenty empty in the beginning, so a ball would be easy, right?
Empty Outfield Seats in the Trop


Wrong.

            So then I focused on trying for home runs….but there was only one home run hit by the Rays during batting practice, and I could’ve had an easy chance of getting it. It was a home run that barely cleared the three rows in front of and landed in my row. However, an usher was standing between the ball and me. The ball was only about 4 feet from me, but the usher was in between. The ball then rolled down a roll, oh so slowly, and another fan ran into that row and picked it up.

After successfully getting shut out during the Rays BP, I ran into Aaron (aka District Boy) who had also gotten shut out. I had seen him at Champion Stadium two days ago, but forgotten to mention that. We both went over to the Mets pitchers when they came out to throw. I believe he did get a ball from the Mets’ pitchers, but I had some luck over there.

Mets Pitchers Throwing

My 1st ball was an overthrow by one of the Mets’ pitchers. It was a looooooong throw, basically it was from Center Field to the foul line. I don’t know who the pitchers throwing were, but it landed past the pitcher closest to me, bounced off the warning track and landed into my glove.
Ball #16 of ST

The area I was in was getting basically pelted with balls. Line drives were getting hit and balls were being overthrown…into an area that was off limits. They had this picnic table area that absorbed all the baseballs, and it was dangerous to sit there. One ball was hit into that area, and hit a chair, sending a piece of wood flying into the air. One ball was just behind a chair, but close to the wall. I tried swinging my glove and knocking it closer,

Glove Tricking a ball from the Picnic Tables

but the gap was too small for my glove to fit through. Then I just realized: push the chair aside. I pushed it aside, knocked the ball closer,
Ball on the Ground1


And easily glove tricked my 2nd ball.

Ball No. 17 of ST

Then I hit a dry spell and went empty-handed for the rest of batting practice. After batting practice I went exploring the rest of Tropicana Field. I could explore the lower concourse, but the other two levels were off limits. So here are some photos from what I could see:

Right Field:
Trop Right Field

Part of the Concourse:

Part of Trop Concourse

Part of the outside spiraling walkway:

Outside Trop Walkway

And the rest of the photos were either blurry or repeats. I didn’t have much time to see it all, because I wanted to get back to the field.

When I was done I ended up going to the Mets dugout area. I didn’t get an balls, but I did get two autographs. They were Mets’ relievers who were heading to the on field bullpen. At one point 4 different Mets were signing around me, but then ended up dispersing and I got none of them. Then I called Fernando Nieve over, and he signed for people, but not me, even though I called him over. The two people I did get I did call over, and I did get them on two baseballs. My 1st autograph was Bobby Parnell:
Bobby Parnell Signing

And my 2nd autograph was Nelson Figeuroa (and for anyone wondering he said that there weren’t any 2009 All-Star Baseballs in the Mets BP bucket yet):
Nelson Figueroa Signing

The rest of the game went by fast. At around the 5th inning I decided to go to the pet the Rays tank where you could pet the backs of I believe 30 Cownose Rays. It was pretty interesting, and some of it was slightly in home run territory, so they could be one of the first animals to catch a home run.

 

Rays tank in the Trop

I’m guessing there were more than 20 of those rays in there.

Rays in Ray Tank
 

After visiting the tank the game was coming to a close, so I headed to the area behind the Rays dugout in anticipation for after game stuff. But the Mets hit a home run that put them two behind and then had the bases full with two outs, but ended up being typical Mets and blowing it. I rushed down to the dugout to try and get something, and ended up getting my 3rd ball.
Final Ball of Spring Training

I think it was the final out of the game, as Chris De La Cruz tossed it to me and it had a bat smudge. I just held up my glove, and his flipped me the last thing that I got on this trip.

Spring Training – Day 5

            This was an un-planned game that we just bought tickets for a day ago. Luckily, I had all the stuff I needed for these teams because I had seen them previously on this trip, so I had all I needed to snag for this game.

            First we arrived at the home plate gate of this stadium…but it was the complete opposite of where I wanted to be. I wanted to be at the outfield areas of the practice fields; all the way on the other side of the complex ( the home plate entrance is on the bottom part of the photo):

osceola country stadium.jpg

So we ended up driving to the other side, and while we were still in the car I saw a home run fly out and land right on the curb. So I got out, and being that no one else was there, I walked over and snapped a photo of the ball:

gulf coast league ball

            Then I picked the ball up, my 1st ball, and it was also a Gulf Coast League ball. So that meant that minor leaguers were most likely batting. I stayed there for a bit longer, but eventually it switched to an all-righty round of batting practice (I could only stand beyond the high center field and high right field walls), so my chances of getting a home run were pretty unlikely, this photo was taken through one wall.

 

 

photo through wall

The gates would be opening in about 10 minutes also, so we drove back to the gate.

            When I got inside, I ran to the left field foul line. I was confused for a moment, because there was an open gate that lead to an area where only Astros personnel could go. I didn’t know if I could somehow sneak in there because I would’ve been right in the middle of the players, but then I saw someone locking the gate, so I rushed back and into the normal part of the stadium.

            There was pretty much only one place to be for ballhawks during BP, and it was the end of the foul lines. They had open air areas with no seats at the ends, in perfect foul ball territory. It was also perfect for a glove trick, because Astros catcher Humberto Quintero had left his bag next to the wall, and that could stop grounders down the line.

            And it did just that for my 2nd ball. The ball was hit down the line and bumped right into the bag, settling a couple inches from the wall. The wall was about 4 feet high, so I couldn’t lean over and scoop it up. I just did my glove trick and pulled it up with ease.

14th Ball of Spring Training

            There were about 15 other kids in the same area, and they were much more hell-bent on getting a baseball. I would only go after a ball if I had an chance of getting it; like one time a ball was hit into that area. I went for it, but backed off once a kid was pushed to the ground was in front of me while trying for the ball. I just decided to not risk getting hurt and focus more on the grounders and J.R. Towles signing autograph…and I got him on two for my 1st autograph.

J.R. Towles signing

            The next ball that was glove trick-a-ble was hit down the line and went in between a little space and went around the catcher’s bag. It went in a space that was underneath the padding on the wall, and between the catcher’s bag and the wall, and settled a bit further out than the last one. After tossing out a few feet of string to knock it closer,

ball is a bit closer

I lowered my glove over the ball and raised it up, getting my 3rd ball.

reeling up a ball in oseola county stadium

            I would’ve had one more ball during batting practice, but while trying to glove trick it my string broke on my glove, sending it right next to the ball. Luckily, a Tigers player (I have no idea who any of them were because the Tigers were playing split-squad games and this one had the minor leaguers) came over and handed me the glove, but not the ball.

            I would’ve had one more ball during batting practice, but while trying to glove trick it my string broke on my glove, sending it right next to the ball. Luckily, a Tigers player (I have no idea who any of them were because the Tigers were playing split-squad games and this one had the minor leaguers) came over and handed me the glove, but not the ball.

            I ended the day with 3 balls and 1 autograph, but I did get one more thing. At the very end of the game, I asked (coach) Kevin Bradshaw if he could hand me the line-up card on the dugout. He did just that and gave me a nice and huge line-up card, to end the day.

Line-Up card hand-off

Day 4 of Spring Training – 3/31/10

            Ah, Champion Stadium, the stadium I knew the most about. I had seen many photos of it, so I had an idea of what the day would be like.

Champion Stadium Outside

            Well we arrived about 3 and a half hours before game time, and the complex was really huge. They had basketball courts, many fields, restaurants, etc. I tried walking around the center field area but it was blocked off, so I couldn’t go around the stadium. I just headed back to the gate which opens 3 hours before game and waited for it.

            I was the 7th person on line, so I expected to be the first one to the berm. But as I was close I saw someone else was already standing there. I had no clue how he got there, but he was talking to the players later, so I assume he was a friend of theirs and they got him in early. That did mean one thing though, that there would be no Easter eggs.

            And he caught most of the home runs hit out there; he knew what he was doing. The home runs slowed down soon after I got there, but then it picked up again. One bal was hi slightly to the right of both the guy and me, and this was a really steep hill,so I had to be careful not to fall. Being careful not to fall, I made it over there before him and picked my 1st ball off the ground.

8th Ball of ST

            Next to the berm were some batting cages where the Braves were going to hit. Some of them were signing, like Tommy Hanson. I passed on a couple of players, but decided to get my 1st autograph from Tim Hudson, who is walking away in this photo below:

331100021.jpg

            The berm was getting somewhat crowded so I decided to start geading over to the bullpen because I knew some balls were in there. But before I could get there a ball was hit and it was cutting towards the foul line. The ball bounced ff a concrete wall, and rolled right to me, and stopped at my feet. I bent down and picked up my 2nd ball.

 

Thumbnail image for scuff on baseball4

Later this would happen again, but then the ball rolled right thru my legs and another guy got it.

            I looked into the bullpen and saw two balls I could easily glove trick, with a third one being out of reach (only two of the balls are pictured in this photo below).

Thumbnail image for balls in bullpen

But before I could glove trick them, I saw Mariano Gomez walking to pick up a ball. Another kid and I asked simultaneously for it, and Mariano tossed the ball in between the two of us. We both thought it was tossed to each other, so we both hesitated. But when he backed off I saw he was letting me have it, so I picked up my 3rd ball.

Thumbnail image for Mariano gomez Ball

            Then I had a lull because I was going to glove trick some balls, but I needed to wait until the ushers had their back turned. There was one looking the other way on the field and he was talking to a fan, so I think he was the one that was supposed to be guarding the bullpen. But when everyone had their back turned, I just went for it and glove tricked my 4th ball.

glove tricking a ball in champion stadium

             But the other ball was about 4 feet out, so I had to tosse my glove out a bit and knock it a couple feet closer. My string kept getting tangled, so what should’ve been a 2 minute process turned into a 6 minute process. Eventually, it was close enough for me to go for it, but then the ushers started getting together behind me. I had to wait for them to leave, and when they finally did, I was able to reel up my 5th ball, and last one of the day.

Final Ball at Champion Stadium

            But the rest of the day had some good moments. When the players came out to stretch, Jason Heyward, who is one of the players I really wanted something from (an autograph, a ball, etc.) started signing. Although he couldn’t sign on the sweet spot, I still got him on one part of the horse shoe for my 2nd autograph of the day.

Jason Heyward signing

            My last autograph of the day was during the game. I’ve gotten one autograph during a game before, and this was my second one. Both were from coaches, and this coach was Dale Murphy who was sitting behind the on deck circle and signing autographs. I didn’t have any baseballs left to get signed, so I got him on two tickets for my 3rd autograph, and final thing, of the game.

Dale Murphy signing

 

The 3rd Day of Spring Training – 3/29/10

            This was Day 3 of Spring Training, and I was hoping to see an actual game played this time. It was the Blue Jays vs. the Tigers today and we got there about 3 hours before game time. I thought that the gates would open 2 hours before hand, but it turns out that if you have a season ticket you get in 30 minutes earlier than non-season ticket holders.

Dunedin Stadium Season Ticket Holder Entrance

            So I was excited to find out that it was 2 hours and 30 minutes of pre-game time; that would mean that I would see more of Blue Jays batting practice, right? I mean the Blue Jays were throwing right in front of the gates, so they would be taking BP, right? Wrong.

View from Behind Home Plate

            When the gates opened, nothing was going on. The BP cages were set up, so at least the Tigers would be taking BP, but the Blue Jays just disappeared into the bullpens. While just looking around the stadium, I noticed a ball was sitting right behind home plate, inches from the wall.

Ball behind Home Plate

            So when a worker walked by I asked him if I could have the ball. He went over, saw the ball, then tossed my 1st ball over the net to me.

            Afterwards, I had time to just sit around and wait for someone to do something. That someone was Jim Leyland who started signing down over by the left field foul line. You see, at this stadium the Blue Jays all enter, practice, and exit in the right corner because I think that’s where their clubhouse is. It’s the same situation for Tigers, except by the left field foul line.

Tigers Gathering in Spring

So I headed over there, but Jim Leyland left before I got there. But luckily the Tigers started coming out bit by bit and some of them signed. One of the people was Adam Everett, who I got for my 1st autograph of the day.
Adam Everett Signing

The next person to sign was Alex Aliva, but I missed him by a few people. More of them started coming out, so more of them signed. My 2nd autograph was Robinzon Diaz.  
Robinzon Diaz signing

And then finally my last autograph from the Tigers was Scott Sizemore, my 3rd autograph. I got the last autograph he signed, so I only got it on one baseball.
Scott Sizemore Signing

Then BP started, but it was horrible. Not only are you confined to the foul lines, but the foul lines got crowded. And it was even all of the foul lines; the seats stopped about 130 feet past first or third base. Yet I was able to get a ball during BP.

I was sitting behind the dugout because there was basically no chance in getting a ball by the foul lines, but then I noticed that a ball was lying on the foul line dirt over on the right field foul line. So I made my way over there, as there was no point in being anywhere else. It turns out that the ball was further from the wall than I thought, but I was considering using the glove trick when suddenly BP ended and the players came in. Mike Rabelo ran over and picked up the balls, so I simply called out and got him to toss me my 2nd ball.

            There wasn’t much time to kill after BP ended because about 15 minutes later the Blue Jays came out to throw again. They weren’t going to take BP again, so they were just going to throw. I waited over there until someone I could identify finished…and that someone was Raul Chavez, who tossed me my 3rd ball.

Raul Chavez and Baseball

            Everyone from the pitchers to the catchers to the outfielders were out and throwing, so as you could imagine some people signed after they were done. I barely missed Aaron Hill, but apparently Aaron told Travis Snyder to start signing, and I was able to get him on one baseball for my 4th autograph.

Travis Snyder Signing

            Pretty soon after one of the most well known Blue Jays came over to sign–Vernon Wells, who was my 5th autograph of the day.

Vernon Wells signing

            Those were the last people that I got for the day, and until game time I walked around and found a good foul ball seat down the line. But I got kicked out of that one, found another seat, got kicked out of that one too, and eventually I just decided to sit in my normal seats. But after a bit of just sitting around I decided to try for a third out ball. I was only going to try one side, and it paid of relatively quick as I got Miguel Cabrera to toss me a ball on his way in, which I caught with ease for my 4th ball. It wasn’t the game used ball; it was too beat up, so it had to be a pre-inning warm-up ball.

 


7th Spring Training Ball           
After I got that one ball during the game I just laid back and watched the rest of the game. The game didn’t even come to a win or loss as it was heading into extra innings, but both coaches “mutually agreed to end the game”. I was caught a bit off guard, but I got to the dugout in time and was able to get a random toss up from a Blue Jay, my 5th ball, and my last one of the game, which is represented by this blurry photo.

8th Ball, blurry

Spring Training – Day 2

            I was here for my first spring training game ever. And I arrived 3 and a half hours before the game started. I had done some research on the stadiums; not a heck of a lot though. I knew that there were two gates, and the first gate seemed way too crowded.

First Gate at BHNF

I mean I know this was a game between two professional baseball teams, but it was more than 3 hours before game time and it was spring training. I knew there was a second gate, so after asking some ushers and a bit of walking I found the gate with no line.     
Second Gate at BHNF

There was still another 30 minutes before the gates opened, so I had to spend by watching the Phillies use up all their good batters who hit home runs while the ushers picked up all the balls. After waiting the time I ran out to the outfield. The berm was drool-inducing; it was basically in both the righties and the lefties power alleys. But my first ball wasn’t a hit one, it was a thrown ball from Antonio Bastardo. A ball rolled to the wall, I called out, and he tossed me my 1st ball. In the photo below, Antonio is to the left of my glove.
Antonio and 1st Ball

Basically, like I said earlier, the Phillies had used up all their power hitters. There was only three home runs hit into the berms, while there were many hit into the bullpen which took up a big portion. I could’ve easily gotten three or four balls…with the glove trick, but I didn’t have my string on me.

So I had to settle with going to the Pirates foul line for the pitcher’s warm up. There was really nothing happening with the pitchers tossing stuff up, but towards the end I noticed Evan Meek was walking towards a loose ball, so I called out to him and he tossed me my 2nd ball, which I didn’t get a photo of.


Being that it’s spring training and I was in no mood to be shoved on the very crowded berms, I choose to just sit behind the dugouts and eat some of the food. I grabbed some chicken and found a seat behind the dugouts, and took out some baseballs in case good players started signing. And a good player did start signing down the foul line, and it was Andy LaRoche. He started heading into the tunnel, but I still got him on the ball solo for my 1st autograph.
Andy LaRoche signing

Then a couple minutes later Lastings Milledge started signing in the exact same spot as Andy, so I took a couple minutes in getting over there because I was keeping an eye on Ronny Cedeno’s broken bat that was leaning on the fence (which I didn’t get).

 

Ronny Cedeno's Cracked Bat

When I finally got over there he was still signing, so I got him for my 2nd autograph.

328100070.jpg

BP wrapped up with nothing being given to me, so I just decided to wait until game time…well the rain came and the game didn’t get played. They called it off before they could throw the first pitch, so I ended the day with 2 balls and 2 autographs. I got my first spring training…batting practice? I don’t know, but hopefully my first spring training game will be tomorrow.

Day 1 of Spring Training – 3/27/10

There was only one entry from me during the off-season, and I know that wasn’t right. My mind was just really, really far from baseball during the off-season, but now that it is coming back I’m starting this up again. I noticed that most of the people who visit this blog are new visitors, so I’ll introduce myself.

Hello, my name is Alex, and my family has season tickets at Yankee Stadium. Last year I snagged 329 baseballs, but I don’t just snag balls; I get autographs and collect game-used memorabilia from games also (as you will see later). Now onto the day…

We had just come down from New York on the train, and we arrived in the morning, so we didn’t plan to attend any games today. But we didn’t know what to do, so we just decided to go check out what was happening at some of the stadiums near us. The first stadium we checked out was George M. Steinbrenner Field aka the spring training home of the Yankees.

legends field.jpg 

First we went directly to the stadium, and looked around at the practice fields. The only thing going on was a college or high school game on one of the pratice fields, which I didn’t take a photo of. There seemed to be nothing going on, so we started turning around. But while we were driving away we saw a practice field a bit out of the way that had some players on it. It turns out that it was a scrimmage between the Triple-A Pirates and the Double-A Yankees.

The two teams were playing back-to-back to each other, and here is one of the fields:

Scrimmage Field 1

This game finished up quicker, and I wasn’t really paying that much attention to that game. The other game had a bigger draw, like in the other game #19 Pedro Alvarez was playing.

Pedro Alvarez sitting on a bench

And then they had ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte pitch for a bit. It was a sight seeing the same guy on the mound pitch to one batter left handed…

Pat Vendetti Left-Handed

And then pitch to the next batter right handed…

Pat Vendetti Right Handed

The game was growing to a close, and nothing was happening, so I decided to start heading over to another field where some players were taking BP. When the game on the other field wrapped up the Pirates stayed on the bench waiting for the other game to finish, while some Yankees went to take BP while the others went inside. But before I could get to the BP field, the game with Pat and Pedro finished. The Pirates started heading out to their buses, so I ran back to see if there was anything to get. I did get a photo with Pedro Alvarez:

Pedro Alvarez photo

And then I got a bat. I wasn’t even expecting it; I mean I wasn’t even trying to get a baseball or an autograph, but sure I’ll take a bat. The person who gave it to me was Brian Myrow, and for those who don’t know him he is a 33 year old minor leaguer who has had a couple cups of coffee in the majors before.

Photo of Brian Myrow, Bat, and me

The bat wasn’t his though, it was Dave Davidson who is a free-agent with a 30.00 ERA in the majors. You can see one of the cracks in the bat in this photo below; it’s splintering right under the label.

Label close up on Brian Myrow bat

The other crack is on the handel and is similar to the one on my Johnny Damon bat that is in my bats post I did a couple months back. The Pirates left soon after I got the bat, and we decided to check out the others two stadiums in our area.

The Phillies stadium was boring; nothing was going on. The only thing happening was a little-league game, so we decided to head to the Blue Jays stadium. They had something happening, meaning that the players were coming back from their spring training game. I didn’t have any baseballs on me, as we were looking around, so I just took a photo with Cito Gaston.

Cito and me

That was it for the day, the first game of spring training is tomorrow, the Pirates at the Phillies. Weather isn’t looking too good.

2009 Stats

I’m sorry that I haven’t written on the blog lately, it’s just that my mind has been elsewhere this off-season. But now that Spring Training is getting closer I have been looking into a massive trip out to California. And I should be at two more things in the coming week that I will blog about, but now here are my (very late) stats for 2009:

 

2009 Totals:

 

Balls by Month:

April — 53

May –33

June — 38
July — 47

August – 87

September — 49

Oct/November — 22

 

Balls by Source:

Thrown – 255

Hit – 39

Glove Trick – 17

Hand-To-Hand – 15

Found – 5

 

Balls by Portion of the Day:

BP – 219

Pre-Game – 40

During – 42

After – 14

 

Balls by Stadium:

New Yankee Stadium – 178

Citi Field — 45

Oriole Park at Camden Yards – 27

Metrodome – 20

US Cellular Field – 17

PNC Park – 17

Miller Park – 9

Wrigley Field – 9

Comerica Park – 7

 

New Yankee Stadium:

32 Games Attended

178 Baseballs

5.56 Balls Per A Game

 

Citi Field:

7 Games Attended

45 Baseballs

6.43 Balls Per A Game

 

Oriole Park:

4 Games Attended

27 Baseballs

6.75 Balls Per A Game

 

Metrodome:

3 Games Attended

20 Baseballs

6.67 Balls Per A Game

 

US Cellular Field:

2 Games Attended

17 Baseballs

8.5 Balls Per A Game

 

PNC Park:

2 Games Attended

17 Baseballs

8.5 Balls Per A Game

 

Miller Park:

1 Game Attended

9 Baseballs

1 200th Baseball Per A Game

 

Wrigley Field:

1 Game Attended

9 Baseballs

1 Wristband Per A Game

 

Comerica Park:

1 Game Attended

7 Baseballs

1 Foul Ball Per A Game

 

NYC Stadiums:

39 Games Attended

223 Baseballs

5.72 Balls Per A Game

 

Stadiums Outside NYC:

14 Games Attended

106 Baseballs

7.57 Balls Per A Game

 

Season Records:

Most Balls in a game: 15 Baseballs on 4/10/09

Most Balls in a week: 41 Baseballs in 8/17/09-8/23/09

Most Balls in one month: 87 Baseballs in August, 2009

Most Balls in back-to-back games: 21 Baseballs on Sept. 4 and Sept. 8

Most Balls thrown to by one player: Mick Kelleher, 8 Balls

Most Balls in back-to-back-to-back games: 27 Baseballs on Aug. 18, Aug. 20, and Aug. 22

 

Highlights:

1st Lifetime Game Ball: Hit by Mark Teahen on 8/13/09 at the HHH Metrodome

Getting 15 autographs and 15 baseballs on the same day: 4/10/09

Seeing the Yankees play in the first and last games of the World Series on 10/28/09 and 11/4/09

 

Miscellaneous Items:

Erick Fernandez’s Batting Gloves on 3/29/09 at Citi Field

Anderson Hernandez’s Wristband on 4/25/09 at Citi Field

Manny Acta’s Line-Up Cards on 4/25/09 at Citi Field

The Tiger’s Bullpen Line-Up Card on 7/4/09 at New Yankee Stadium

Brian Friday’s Batting Gloves on 7/15/09 at Mercer County Waterfront Park

Garret Jones’ Wristband on 8/16/09 at Wrigley Field

Jason Jaramillo’s Bat on 8/22/09 at PNC Park

Dusty Baker’s Line-Up Cards on 8/23/09 at PNC Park

 

11/4/09 Yankees vs. Phillies

            Game 6 of the World Series, whether the Yankees would lose or win this game, would be my last game of 2009. I showed up about 30 minutes before the gates opened and was greeted by Spongebob and Patrick at Gate 6.

Spongebob and Patrick

            Once again BP was going on when the gates opened, but since I wasn’t the first one in there were no Easter Eggs to be found. Or so I thought. I realized that only field level was occupied, not any of the other decks, including the bleachers. I didn’t want to go into the bleachers for nothing, so I stayed on field level and climbed onto some railings to look into the bleachers.

Railings in Tunnel

            Lo and behold there was a ball sitting there!

Easter Egg in the Bleachers

            It was a ball that I couldn’t have seen had I not climbed on the railings, but what I did next was stupid. I tried climbing into the bleachers instead of going the long route. Security started yelling at me, but since they have recognized me I got off because they know it was just bad thinking. So I after I was let off I ran up to the bleachers. I went to where the ball was, and it was still there, sitting in its puddle. I picked up my waterlogged 1st ball, which I couldn’t mark yet. You may be able to see how waterlogged it is in the following photo:

Waterlogged Baseball

            That was the most eventful part of the Yankees batting practice baseball wise, nothing else happened for me, although I did meet Brian who I’d seen from Zack Hample’s blog. When I moved to Left Field for the Phillies batting practice, it was barely better. The main reason I went over to Left Field was because I saw a ball land it. I positioned myself on the wall of it, and when the Phillies bullpen catcher, who I can’t name, retrieved it I got him to hand it to me, my 2nd ball (the bullpen catcher is in the top right of the photo below):

Baseball from Phillies Bullpen Catcher (11/4/09)

            I stayed out in Left Field until the Phillies pitchers were just about done with their throwing. Normally at that time all the people would have been kicked out, but because the Yankees batting practice started early again, everyone could go everywhere for all of batting practice (except of course the Legends). As a result of the crowd, I didn’t get any balls, but one of my favorite Phillies, Cole Hamels, started signing and I was lucky to get his autograph of two baseballs for my 1st autograph.

Cole Hamels signing

            I wanted to keep the ball a Cole Hamels only autograph ball, so I decided for that to be my final autograph of 2009. But that ball from the bullpen catcher wasn’t my final ball of 2009.

            I moved back over to Left Field again, in the same general area, but on the front row, mainly because it seemed like a hot spot. It turns out it was, as three consecutive baseballs were hit in my area, but they all rolled to the warning track. The player, who I found out with a quick look at my picture roster, was Chad Durbin, and I got a baseball by just calling out his name, my 3rd ball, and it was final ball of 2009.

            As everyone who will read this blog knows, the Yankees won. And I was able to get some not-so-good quality photos of the game, but I got some better quality photos after I snuck down a bit. They will be following my stats for the game.

 

Stats:

3 MLB Balls Today

1 MLB Autograph Today

212 MLB Autographs in this Season

252 Total Autographs in this Season

329 MLB Balls in this Season

350 Total Balls in this Season

1 Thrown, 1 Hand-to-Hand, 1 Found

3 BP

6.21 Balls / 1 Game

Attendance: 50,315

Competition Factor: 150,945

 

Mariano Entering the Field

Mariano Rivera coming into the game.

 

Mariano about to step on the mound.

Mariano Rivera about to step on the mound.

 

Mob on the mound

The Mob on the mound after the victory.

 

Lap around the stadium

The Yankees making a lap around New Yankee Stadium (for the second straight year at the final game).

 

Phil Coke spraying fans with champagne

Phil Coke coming out of the dugout to spray the fans with champagne.

10/28/09 Yankees vs. Phillies

            This was the 2009 World Series, the second straight year I’ve gone.

2009 World Series Logo

            I got there a while before the gates were to open, but somehow another ballhawk arrived even earlier. He was Joe (http://baseballexperiences.mlblogs.com). I didn’t mind that he was there, as I knew we weren’t going to be making each other loose baseballs. We played catch for a bit, but the Yankees started setting up the gates (yeah, we arrived before they even set up), so we had to get on line. But before we did we asked a worker if batting practice was being set up, it was. We were luckily at the front of the line, which was pretty huge, and our line was about 1 of the 4 lines set up:

 

Long line for World Series

            But I didn’t even expect batting practice to start until a couple dozen minutes after. When we ran inside (I got delayed because the worker had to check me again after he did so minutes before the gates opened) batting practice was already in around the second set of swings for the first round of batters. Because I got delayed, there were people who entered the seats before me, and all of the Easter Eggs were long gone. But that didn’t worry me, because moments after I entered, Damaso Marte fielded a ball in front of the seats which held very little people. Joe had gotten a ball before me, so he let me get the ball from Damaso, my 1st ball. Surprisingly, it was a commemorative baseball, and unsurprisingly it wasn’t a World Series ball. It was a New Yankee Stadium commemorative, which I had dozens of already.

Commemorative Baseball from Damaso Marte

            But the seats got filled up quickly and deeply, so I tried moving to Left Field. But that was a dumb move as ball after ball was pelted into the Right Field seats, while Left Field was completely dead. I had to wait for the Phillies to come up to bat. And since the main sluggers were lefty, and the righty hitters weren’t in the first round of BP, I moved over to the foul line where the Phillies players were throwing. As I recall it (yes, it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten a lot of the details of both games) was slightly drizzling, so when I got Mick Billmeyer to toss me a ball from over a 100ft away and it sailed over my head, the ball was wet when I tracked it down and got my 2nd ball.

Baseball No. 324

            By that point the Phillies hitters were finally getting hot in the cage, so I gradually made my way back to Left Field where Joe was there. He would’ve been having a much better day than me by that point, but I saw him get robbed numerous times by numerous people in the outfield. It really was hectic all of batting practice because since the Yankees started BP before the gates opened, the time when they usually kicked people out (1 hour and 40 minutes after the gates open) was after batting practice had ended. So everybody could see all of BP down on field level. You can see the huge crowd and Joe and me in the next photo, with an arrow pointing to Joe and me.

Alex, Joe and the crowd 

            Even though I am about as tall as some adults I could barely see the warning track from a standing on the stairs position, so when Miguel Cairo went to get a ball on the warning track, I had to stand on a seat to see where he was going. He ended up tossing the ball to me, but because it was a melee my hat fell off and the seat I was standing on folded up, trapping my foot. Now I wouldn’t be telling you this story had I not gotten the ball, so yeah I got my 3rd ball. Some people behind me claimed the ball was tossed to them, even though I was the Phillies fan standing out, while they were buried in the crowd.

Ball No. 325

            I wasn’t necessarily interested in autographs since I didn’t have a streak going, but when I saw a player signing at the foul line, I couldn’t refuse. I went over there, saw it was Scott Eyre, and had him sign my 1st autograph.

Scott Eyre Signing

            The outfield was still dead, so the only hot spot to me was the corner spot next to the Left Field bleachers. I was able to get a ball there, from Joe Blanton who is just to the left of my 4th ball, which is in my glove.

Joe Blanton Baseball

            That was my last one for batting practice. Now this is probably the most crowded I had ever seen a concourse before:

Crowded Concourse

            It was ridiculous. They decided to put a lovely patio outside of the Legends restaurant (which provided a lovely view of 10 people, changing every 10 minutes) and a band next to a food vendor. The concession stand, which included a going grill, was pushed back on one occasion, making everyone nervous. In order to get out of there, I had to cut through the Legends patio, and it still took me about 10 minutes.

            Joe and I spent most of the game going to third out balls behind the Yankees dugout, but they weren’t being tossed above the Legends seats. The one time that they tossed the ball up above the Legends seats I was sitting in a seat because I had decided not to go down because I wanted to stay put for an inning. So I didn’t get another ball, but I did get one more autograph before I headed home.

            After the players had come in after the game ended Joe and I ran out to the Legends exit because some notable people were sitting in there, all of whom I forget except Alec Baldwin, because I got his autograph, my 2nd autograph, and you can see him walking away next to a guard with a bag in his hand:

Alec Baldwin

Stats:

  • 4 MLB Balls Today
  • 1 MLB Autograph Today, 1 Etc. Autograph
  • 211 MLB Autographs in this Season
  • 251 Total Autographs in this Season
  • 326 MLB Balls in this Season
  • 347 Total Balls in this Season
  • 4 Thrown
  • 4 BP
  • Attendance: 50, 207
  • Competition Factor: 200,828
  • 6.27 Balls / 1 Game

 

 

10/17/09 Yankees vs. Angels

I know that while it may seem like I have had a lot of time to blog, I haven’t been able to. So, this will be a short entry because of a bad day, I forgot to take any pictures, and of the fact that I went to Games 1  and 6 of the World Series, so I have to blog about thos also:

I got shutout for Yankees BP and much of Angels BP. That shutout finally ended when I got Steve Soliz to toss me a ball that he was using in a bullpen session with a pitcher, my 1st ball.

            Towards the end of Angels BP, in the finally 2 or 3 pitches a home run was hit that landed in my row. I bent down and picked it up, my 2nd ball.

            And that was it.

Stats:

 

  • 2 MLB Balls Today
  • 322 MLB Balls in this Season
  • 343 Total Balls in this Season
  • 1 Thrown, 1 Hit
  • 2 BP
  • Attendance: 49,922
  • Competition Factor: 99,844
  • 6.31 Balls / 1 Game
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