6/4/16 at Target Field: Twins vs Rays

                               I’m back.

This was my first game in over a month. It started off pretty rough. 

For this game, I would be with my friends Stephen and Justin. They both have came with me to games before, and I have blogged about those games. Justin gave me a free ticket to this game. I had been checking the weather forecast for this day to see if it would rain or not. It was not supposed to rain, until the day before the game, the weather app said it would rain. Not good. That means BP was not very likely. I still hoped there would be a chance for BP.

I was dropped off at the Target Field Station and made my way around the stadium….


….over to the Plaza….


….and to Gate 34, where I was the first one in line.


I was quickly informed by a security guard that the tarp was on the field, meaning no BP. NOOOOOOO!!!!!

At 1:00 when the gates opened up. I went over to the foul lines on the Twins side. Dom Frost, the Twins bat boy, and Ben Richardson, the Twins bullpen catcher, were playing catch. Dom saw me and waved to me. We have talked on social media and at games before and he recognizes me now. He was actually the one who gave me my first ball of the day. When Dom and Ben finished playing catch, I said his name, held up my glove, and he threw me the ball.


Here is a GoPro video of me catching the ball:


I ran over to the Rays side to see if I could get a ball from the pitchers warming up, and I wanted to get an autograph from Chris Archer. Archer said he had “work to do,” which I later found out was take a bullpen session. I went over to the bullpen once all the pitchers were done on the foul lines, and the bullpen was crowded with kids. Stephen was also there, already at two balls. I could have had that many, but I wanted to get the ball that Dom was using.

Archer took a bullpen session and once he finished he tossed the ball up. Unfortunately I didn’t get it. I still had another chance, because Matt Moore started pitching right after. He finished up, then tossed the ball towards Stephen and I. Our gloves hit each other’s, and Stephen dropped the ball. It was tossed to somebody else. That sucked. But wait, what is this?! Matt Moore decided he wanted to keep pitching! There was still hope! He pitched for a few more minutes and when he finished up, he scanned the crowd for a worthy recipient. Everyone was yelling “BALL! BALL!” Or “Matt!” So I yelled “Mr. Moore!”. He stopped, and said, “Wait, who said, ‘Mr. Moore’?” So I said it again. He looked at me, smiled, and tossed me the ball.

I filmed this one too. Here it is:​

I went back over to the foul lines because pitchers starter to come out and throw over there again. Chris Archer happened to walk over there, so I asked for an autograph. He nodded, and a few minutes later, he came over and signed my 8×10!


At one point, Drew Smyly and Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi were playing catch. The Twins grounds crew had to take the tarp off the field, and it interfered with those guys playing catch. Scott started walking around with the ball in his glove, and I thought he was done playing catch, so I asked him for it. “You just looked my name up on the Internet.” And I told him that wasn’t true. I wasn’t lying. I actually had known who Scott Cursi was before this, because I had heard so many great things about him from other ballhawks. He came over to me and asked me where I got my umpire hat (black hat with MLB logo), and if I was an umpire. The part where he asked if I was an umpire was obviously a joke, but it was actually kind of funny because I am an umpire for little league teams in my city. I told him and he said that during the offseason he is an umpire for kids fall ball leagues. He seemed like a really nice guy. 

 Two guys came out to play catch near the foul pole, but I couldn’t tell who they were. I checked the roster and identified them as Ryan Garton and Tyler Sturdevant. Sturdevant was the one closest to me. I politely asked if I could have the ball when he was done, and he nodded. Yes! I was guaranteed the ball. But….. They finished playing catch and Garton ended up with the ball. Dang. I thought I was gonna get it for sure. I positioned myself behind some other pitchers to try and get a ball from them. 

A few minutes later I heard a bunch of kids yelling, “BALL! BALL!” Which meant a player with a ball was nearby. I looked at the warning track below me and saw Tyler Sturdevant walking right towards me with a ball! He placed it in my glove for ball 3 of the day, and my last pregame ball.


I went over to the Twins side after the Rays fo sober warming up, and when the National Anthem ended, Max Kepler came over to sign autographs. 

I got him on an 8×10.

The only real action during the game was a Hank Conger homer that bounced from the seats into the Plaza, and I didn’t get to it quick enough. I didn’t go after it until it landed because I didn’t even see it in the air. I was going to pay attention until I realized that he had a .194 average and probably wouldn’t hit it in to the Plaza.

My next FOUR baseballs came after the game ended.

FOUR after the final out was recorded.

But first, I moved down here to get in position for an umpire ball:

And when the game ended, guess what home plate Umpire Angel Hernandez tossed me?


Ball 4 of the day.

I moved over to far end of the dugout in the first row. I was then tossed ball 5 by a Rays pitcher coming in from the bullpen. It might have been Dana Eveland.

(Sorry for the bad pic. I don’t even know if this was the ball cause everything happened so quickly.)

That was ball 5.

Some dude who looked like he worked for the media came out and started handing out mud rubbed balls to people. I got one from him. So did Justin and Stephen.

Ball 6.

Remember Scott Cursi, the guy I talked to pregame? He came in, saw me, and handed Stephen and I baseballs.

We all went over to the Twins dugout because I wanted to talk to Dom, the Twins Bat Boy. Justin got there first and asked for a ball, but he gave so many away during the game that he didn’t have any left! So instead, he came out and gave us all opened bags of sunflower seeds that were just sitting in the dugout (they were half empty, so the Twins players had already ate out of them). I talked to Dom for just a little bit, because he needed to finish cleaning out the dugout. I got a picture with him first.


I went to the Twins parking lot after that with my friends, my brother Ben and his friend Noah, and a grapher named Jake. Jake knows Brian Dozier and he said he would sign at the lot after the game even though they lost. Doziers wife ended up driving him out so he didn’t stop. We chased him down to a red light and he rolled down his window! He said “You guys gotta careful in the street like this!” And signed for us. I got him on a magazine.

Our next auto was Trevor Plouffe. He was driving a different car and we couldn’t tell it was him, so he just stopped the car and rolled his window down. It was kind of funny because nobody even asked him to stop and he did. I got him on an 8×10. Jake got Plouffe’s shin guard after the game, and he got it signed too!


Oswaldo Arcia came out and signed. I didn’t have anything for him, so I just got a picture.

(Weird fact, on the day I’m writing this, Oswaldo Arcia was traded. Want to know what team he was traded to? The Tampa Bay Rays.)

Here is Arcia signing for Jake:
It took an hour, but we finally got Joe Mauer’s autograph. He was driving a Mercedes but usually drives a Chevy so we didn’t know if it was him. I thought it was Eduardo Nunez because we didn’t see him come out, so I walked up to the car with a Nunez card. I realized it was Mauer and didn’t have a place to put the Nunez card, so I bit it with my teeth…. LOL. I said to Mauer, “This may look a little weird, but can you sign my photo please.” He laughed, signed the 8×10, and asked who was on the card. I told him, and asked if Nunez left yet. He said yes, so he must of gone out when we weren’t paying attention. It’s funny that Mauer drove a Mercedes when his brother runs Mauer Chevorlet.

After that, I left and went home. I was at the stadium for 8 and a half hours, so I was ready to leave.

STATS:

Balls at this game:

Nate: 7

Justin: 6

Stephen: 4

Autographs at this game: 5

Bags of seeds at this game: 1

4/29/16 at Target Field: Twins vs Tigers

The day got off to a pretty rough start. I had been invited to this game by my friend Justin, and his dad was going to be taking him and I. We wanted to be there at 5:00 to get there when the gates opened. We were using Apple Maps to direct us to the stadium, and it was being super stupid and it took us some really weird way to the stadium that took an us over an hour to get there. By the time I had bought my ticket, got my bag checked, and my ticket scanned, it was 5:30. I had completely missed all of Twins BP and 15 minutes of Tigers. Thankfully, I was quickly able to get on the board with a tossup from a Tigers pitcher in right field after he noticed I had a had and shirt with their logo on it. It ended up hitting the limestone wall and bouncing on the field, and another guy picked it up and tossed it to me. I quickly noticed it was a Spring Training commemorative!
Thankfully the logo was still in great condition. 

A few minutes later I ran over to left field because I noticed the group hitting had mainly righties. They weren’t hitting much out, so I was fine with going for some tossups.

Mike Pelfrey, a Tigers pitcher who actually played for the Twins at the start of the season, was standing in center field when a ball rolled to him. He wanted to throw it to the little kid in front of me, but he realized that the little kid would probably have a hard time trying to catch the ball. Pelf looked at me and I yelled “If you throw the ball to me, I’ll give it to him,” and Pelf pointed at me, then to the kid just to clarify things. I nodded my head, and he threw it bullet to me. I immediately handed the ball to the little kid, making sure Pelfrey saw. The kid was extremely happy and excited and so was his dad. I noticed that the ball I gave him was commemorative too, so I asked if I could see it for a second to take a picture.

(That’s the kid)

It wasn’t too dissapointing I gave a commemorative away, because I already had the one from earlier and another one from a different game. 

At one point a little bit later, I had tried to get a tossup from Justin Verlander. I was the only one wearing anything tigers related, and the only one who knew his name. He threw the ball to me, and…. It went over my head where another fan picked it up. 

I stood in the front row for a bit when a player hit one right towards me. I realized it was going over my head at the last second so I jumped, but missed it. I turned around and saw the one who caught the ball was none other than Paul Kom! I had no clue he’d be at the game, and he didn’t know I was going either. I asked how many he had snagged and he said “Two……. Plus 5.”

I moved closer to Mike Pelfrey again to see if I could get him to throw me a ball again because I gave one to that other kid. It took two tries until he noticed me, but when he did…

Ball #3. It also had a sharpie mark on it.

This is the second sharpie marked ball I have snagged. 

I ran up to the second deck in left field because a new group started, that had Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton, and J.D. Martinez in it.

 Unfortuneatley, NOT A SINGLE BALL WAS HIT UP THERE!!! Ugh. Apparently Paul had made a diving catch on a Miggy homer that landed in the bleachers right below me.

I ran back down to the bleachers for the final group of BP, which might have been the best one. Mike Aviles was in it, and he was crushing the ball to the bleachers near the foul pole. I moved over to the aisle in between the section closest to the foul pole, and the section to my left of it. Aviles crushed a long fly ball that looked like it was heading towards me but a little to the left. I shuffled through the row, and caught the ball on the fly, a pretty routine catch. 

I ended up robbing an older guy who had caught a few on the fly earlier in BP. He was pretty cool about it and he congratulated me on the catch.

This ball was also sharpie marked:


(Hello, Brian)

2 minutes later Aviles hit one towards me again but to my right this time, and I thought I was definitley going to catch it. I would have, if it wasn’t for the dude who tried to body deck me. His shoulder hit me right in the jaw and I almost fell backwards. I felt the ball knick the bottom of my glove as I was shoved away.

Here is the dude who tried to body deck me:


(The guy in blue with his arms crossed is the old guy who I robbed when I caught the ball earlier)

The on the fly catch was my last of BP. I did not make it over to the dugout in time for the end of BP, but I was able to get a picture with catcher Bobby Wilson.


During the game, I walked around the stadium with Justin and we checked some things out. I ran in to a grapher I know, and it turns out that he just got a job as an usher! He was stationed at Gate 14. 

Justin and I met up with his dad and we snuck down in to the section by the ball boy. Justin posed for a picture with a baseball he caught in BP.


Oh, Justin.

We sat 8 rows up from the ball boy, so we had some decent seats. The tickets we bought may or may not have been in the 3rd deck….

Here was our view during the game:

(Sorry for the bad quality)

Meanwhile, Paul was moving from dugout to dugout, and he had snagged 12 balls, beating his record of 11!

When the 7th inning ended, Justin and I moved over to the seats above the dugout box. We met up with a ballhawk/grapher I know named Peyton, who is 10 years old. He’s really good at ballhawking and graphing, he once caught a Joe Mauer line drive foul ball on the fly, and he’s got tons of autographs from super stars like Trout, Miggy, and King Felix.

Justin and I used a special technique to get down in to the dugout box seats. I actually learned this technique from Paul. We tried to help Peyton get down to the seats too, but an usher stopped him because he did something a little different than us. I can’t reveal this trick, but it’s really not something big. 

When the final out was made, Justin, Peyton, Paul and I got in position for an umpire ball from Ryan Blakney. Want to guess how many balls he gave away? 0. The bullpen guys didn’t toss up anything either. My last chance for a ball was from the Twins Bat Boy Dom.

I ran over to the Twins dugout and saw Paul catch a ball that Dom tossed him. That ball tied the Target Field MyGameBalls.com record, which Paul now shares with Zack Hample. Dom saw me go over to Paul, and he recognized me and held up one finger as if to say, “Hold on”. Less than a minute later, I had this:

It didn’t exactly work out the way you are probably thinking. Dom’s throw was a little off to my right and too high up, and I used my full extension to try and catch it. It hit the tip of my glove and rolled on to the field. Thankfully, a security picked it up, and lobbed it to me. I will have a video at the very end of the entry, filmed by Paul.

That was my last ball of the day, so I went outside the stadium to get autographs at the players exit. I ended up only getting Jarrod Saltalamachia on a Tigers team card. And that was the end of my ballhawking day!

STATS:

Balls at this game: 5 (Unidentified Tiger, Mike Pelfrey 2x, Mike Aviles, Dom/Security Guard)

Autographs at this game: 1 (Jarrod Saltalaltabaltadaltanaltamaltayaltapaltalazaltapeppermintmocha)


Video, as promised. Not sure if it will work, so here is some screenshots:


(Try and spot the ball)






4/16/16 at Target Field: Twins vs Angels

I had just been at the game the night before, and was already back at Target Field, hoping to catch some more baseballs and get another Mike Trout autograph. The game started at 1:10, so I left around 10:00. Unlike last night, I would be going with my brother Ben, and his friend Noah. I usually go to games with them, but they didn’t go the night before for some reason. 

Here is the view of Target Field as you enter downtown Minneapolis: 

 

Thankfully, unlike last night, there was no traffic. I can’t remember if I mentioned it in the last entry, but the traffic was HORRIBLE.

 I showed up to Target Field around 10:30, and bought a ticket. I noticed a large group of guys standing around the Plaza, all wearing the same thing. My first thought was that these were pro soccer players. Their shirts said “STRIKERS” on them, so I looked it up, and realized that they played for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, and had a game against Minnesota today.

I assumed there would be no BP, because they had just played a game the night before. I was thinking that players would be playing catch along the foul lines, so I got in line at Gate 14, the home plate gate. 

As I was walking there, I talked to a grapher I know named Charlie, who was hoping to get Trout’s autograph. I also met up with Andrew, a grapher I know, and Nick, also a grapher and a friend of mine. Nick lives in Iowa so I usually only see him once or twice a year. When I was waiting in line, I heard 2 people calling my name from behind me. They were 2 of my friends from school, and they were going to try and catch baseballs after I told them I was going to. 

At 11:00, the gates opened up, and to my surprise, the Twins were hitting! I sprinted out to right field and grabbed the corner spot. Unfortunately the Twins weren’t being very generous with tossups. After about 10 minutes I thought, “Screw it, nobody is gonna toss me anything,” so I ran over to left field. As soon as I got over there, I heard someone say my name and realized it was my friend Justin’s dad. Justin was with me my last game of 2015, and he impressively out-snagged me 7 balls to 3. And it was his first time ballhawking! Justin’s dad told me he was over in the corner of left field by the foul pole. 

The Twins in LF weren’t tossing much up either, so I thought I was screwed. That was until Eduardo Escobar got in the cage, and started hitting bombs out to left field. I positioned myself a section over from where I was usually standing, on an aisle. Escobar ripped a fast line drive towards the bleachers, and I realized it was going to land near my row. It was going to land pretty far to my right, so I took off running. I realized I had a good shot at catching it, so I stuck my glove out as I ran, and watched it as it landed in my glove… Right in the palm. Think about it. A line drive home run, right in the palm. OUUUUUCH. The pain was so bad that I had to let go of it, but I was able to pick it up before anyone else could.  

Bad picture, I know, you’ll see a better one later.

 The red X marks where I started, the line is my running path, and the dot is where I caught it.

When Twins BP ended I went over to the foul line where the Angels were playing catch.    

 From there, I could talk to Justin who was still hanging out in the bleachers. He and I both had one ball at the time.

After being denied by Cory Rasmus when I asked for a ball (looks like him and Colby must have made a plan to never toss baseballs to me, cause Colby has denied me too), I watched him throw it to Justin, for his second ball of the day. 

I positioned myself behind Nick Tropeano’s catch group, and got denied by him too.

I positioned myself behind Greg Mahle’s catch group, and he threw me a ball. It was 5 feet short. Luckily, Greg Mahle isn’t a total jerk like some MLB players, and he walked over and handed it to me.

  

He was looking for somebody to throw it to in the bleachers, but because I was probably the only person in the stadium who knew his name, he threw me it. He is the one on the field above my glove.

Nobody hitting BP was really hitting anything out, so I was fine with going for some more tossups. Two Hispanic players who I recognized at Fernando Salas and Jose Alvarez came out to play catch, and luckily, I knew how to ask for a ball in Spanish. By this point I pretty much knew I was going to get the ball. And when they finished playing catch, I asked Jose Alvarez if he could “tirame la pelota por favor” and that is exactly what he did. 

 Alvarez is the one on the right, and Salas is on the left.

That was my third and final baseball of BP, and based on the BP the Angels had, and how bad the Twins and Angels were with tossups, it was a pretty good number of balls.

I did the same thing as yesterday, snuck in to the seats next to the dugout. I waited by Ben and Noah for Trout to sign, and when he did, he started signing outside of the dugout box sections first. He made his way towards the dugout, and signed for a few fans each, skipped a couple, signed some more, skipped some, and went on with the same routine until he stopped right by me. He took a kids blue sharpie to sign his magazine, then Ben’s baseball and mine, a few more, then ran to the dugout. 

 
I tried to get a selfie before he left, but he wouldn’t do it. 

 Oh well, I still got the autograph.

Here’s where I sat during the game: 

I didn’t bother going for game balls because the new nets on the dugouts made it tough, and I didn’t want to risk getting caught without a ticket there. 

Some highlights of the game were Trevor Plouffe hitting a homer, Oswaldo Arcia and Byung-Ho Park hitting back to back home runs… 

Park rounding the bases. His homer was massive!


…And me getting on the Jumbotron.

 
Whenever I try taking a picture of the Jumbotron, it always does the weird thing with the lines. I’m on the upper middle part of the screen.

Like yesterday, the Twins were down a few runs, but made a comeback and won the game! I tried to get a ball from home plate umpire John Tumpane, but he was randomly just tossing them up and I couldn’t get my hands on one. 

I went over to the Twins dugout to try and get Dom, the Twins batboy to toss me a ball. He did throw me one, but it was a little off and there was so many people in the way that I didn’t catch it. He gave me a hilarious look like “Dude, how didn’t you catch that!”. Thankfully, a camera man was able to pick it up and toss it to me.  

  

I decided that because the Twins won two in a row, they would be in a good mood to sign autographs at the parking lot. Only 3 guys did end up signing, but it was definitely quality over quantity.

The first guy I got was Trevor Plouffe.

 
He signed a 2015 Topps Heritage card for me.  

Next, I got 2015 All Star, Brian Dozier. 

 
I also had him sign a 2015 Topps Heritage card.

 
And the last guy I got, came driving out of the parking lot right as I was packing up to leave. It was none other than Minnesota native Joe Mauer!

 
Surprisingly, he signed more than one card for me.

 
That was a good end to a long day.

STATS:

Balls at this game: 4 (Eduardo Escobar, Greg Mahle, Jose Alvarez, Dom Frost/Camera man)

Autographs at this game: 4 (Mike Trout, Trevor Plouffe, Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer)

4/15/16 at Target Field: Twins vs Angels

I may have only gone to two games so far this year, but I already think this is going to be my favorite one.

I’d been planning to go to this game ever since the schedule came out in the winter. I had gone to 2 Angels games last year in September in hopes of getting a Mike Trout autograph, but got shutout each time. I was hoping that I could finally get one today!!!

Here’s just a random picture of Target Field I took while driving to the game. 

 
I got to Target Field around 4:50, bought a ticket, and hopped in line at Gate 34. Surprisingly the line was very short, it was just me and one of my grapher friends named Bryant. 

When the gates opened at 5:00, I ran to the corner spot in the right field bleachers, yelling “SMELL BASEBALL!” At Ervin Santana on the way there. He looked up, pointed and smiled.  

Ervin is at the bottom of the photo with the long hair.

After arriving in the corner spot, I quickly got on the board by a tossup from Kyle Gibson. As it was flying through the air, I noticed that it was commemorative. Not just any commemorative, it was a Spring Training one!  

 Gibson is in the group of three guys by my glove, he’s the one leaning down.

I ran over to left field and met up with Paul, another Target Field ballhawk who I’ve known for a while. Somehow, he had managed to get 4 in the short time the gates had been open.

When Twins BP ended, I ran over to the third base line to try and get a tossup from the Angels. I positioned myself behind Matt Shoemaker and Jered Weaver. After they finished playing catch, Shoemaker tossed the ball over his head towards the seats. It fell short, but I was able to knock it to the stands with by backpack, then pick it up with my glove. 

 

I then ran up the ramp to the second deck  in left field, because Mike Trout was hitting. 

 
Trouts (and I guess the entire Angels) BP was surprisingly dissapointing. Almost nobody was hitting it out, especially not to the second deck. Trout hit one that looked like it might reach the second deck, so I took off after it. Then it looked like it would fall short, so I stopped. It just knicked the railing at the front of the section, and bounced in to the concourse. An usher tossed it to me for number 3 of the day.
  

Looking at this photo reminded me about something I forgot to mention earlier. It was Jackie Robinson Day!!!

I ran down to the main level and went to the right center field seats. There, I was able to get Greg Mahle to toss me a baseball. 

 His aim was kind of bad and I had to reach out as far as I could, and I caught it in the very top of my glove.

I moved over to the other side of the RC seats because I saw Mike Trout was there, and I wanted a tossup from him. The first time he fielded a ball, I asked for it, but he threw it in. He turned to me and threw his hands in the air and shrugged. He moved closer to the field, and fielded another ball. I called his name again, and as he was in mid-throw, he turned around and chucked the ball to me.   

Sweeeeeet! Mike Trout tossup!!! This was ball 5 of the day, and my last from BP. The next thing I needed to do was get a Mike Trout autograph.

I went down to the dugout, and there was already quite the crowd for Trout.

  
I went down there, and had to dodge a lot of ushers asking for my ticket.

After the National Anthem, Trout finished warming up, and came over to sign!  

I got him to sign a baseball for me!!! 

 No, I did not try and have him sign it in sharpie, he just wouldn’t take my pen. But hey, it’s still a Trout autograph, and he signed it on the sweet spot! 

During the game I sat with Paul, a grapher I know named Ryan, and his friend. Paul and I both got commemoratives.  

We also talked to another grapher named Pete who had this hilarious thing. 

 

The game itself was pretty great. Twins were 0-9 at the time, and we’re hoping to get their first win. The Twins were down a few runs, but had an epic comeback, and won the game! I made my way down to he umpire tunnel, and got Alan Porter to toss me my 6th ball of the day.  

I went over to the Twins dugout, and got a ball from Dom Frost, the Twins bat boy. I have talked to Dom on Twitter and in person before, and he recognizes me by now and still throws me baseballs.   

I left the stadium, and got an autograph from Max Kepler when he walked out of the stadium. 

 
STATS:

Balls at this game: 7 (Kyle Gibson, Matt Shoemaker, Usher, Greg Mahle, Mike Trout, Alan Porter, Dom Frost)

Autographs at this game: 2 (Mike Trout, Max Kepler)

  

4/11/16 at Target Field: Twins Home Opener!!!

The day got off to a rough start. I got picked up from school around 12:55 (not good when the stadium opens at 1:00 and you live 30 mins away) then picked my brother up (he’s in high school and I’m in middle school). We drove down town, and the traffic was terrible. I got to the stadium around 1:40, and got inside at 1:50.   

The line was huge!

I forgot to mention, as the guy was scanning my ticket, he seemed to not know how to use the scanner which really made me mad. It took like two minutes for him to get it right. 

I immediately went to right field, which shouldn’t have been hard because I was right by it, but the crazy amount of fans made it super hard. Finally I was in the RF seats! Aaaaaaand BP ended 5 swings later.

The Sox players were packing up, so I ran over to the dugout and nobody threw anything up.  

 This was not good. My streak was in danger of ending. I hoped that players would bring out baseball before the game to warm up.

Spoiler alert:

They didn’t. 

But I got Todd Frazier’s autograph though. 

The National Anthem was cool, especially because it was my first time seeing a flyover.  But of course somebody had to do something crazy.  

 The sign on the left says “RE-OPEN JAMARS CASE” referring to Jamar Clark. The sign on the right says “TARGET FIELD END YOUR SLAVE LAVOR”. They stood there holding the signs for a good 5 minutes until they dropped the signs and sprinted away. I also heard 25 Black Lives Matter members were protesting over the Jamar Clark case ON THE LIGHT RAIL TRACKS outside the stadium and were arrested. 

Let’s get back to baseball. 

So BP was over, pregame warm ups were, there was no open seats by the dugout, and I didn’t have a ball. I thought that I would for sure be shutout. My next opportunity would be at the end of the game from the umpire, bat boy, or bullpen. All I could was just watch the game and wait.

During the game I met up with a grapher I know named Ryan. He’s got a big and pretty good autograph collection. His Instagram is @goldygraphs, and you should check his stuff out. Ryan and I hung out for most of the game, checking out new parts of Target Field like the new standing room area in center field. He left in the 6th inning, so I sat down behind the dugout box sections, directly behind the umpire tunnel. I used one of my tricks to get down there in the 8th inning.

A little later, a ballhawk I know named Nick came down and sat with me, and we waited for the game to end. The game eventually ended, with the White Sox beating the Twins 4-1. Home Plate Umpire Kerwin Danley walked in, handing baseballs to two kids sitting in the champions club, then tossing one to Nick, and…..

Not to Me…

lvin UPTON JR. BECAUSE HE PLAYS FOR THE BRAVES AND ISN’T A BALLHAWK. HA, SUCK IT MELVIN. I GOT A BASEBALL AND YOU DIDN’T. 

Bam. My snag-a-ball-every-game streak was saved. A streak that started on August 9th, 2014 at Wrigley Field. And now, I’m here with ball #101.

That was my snagging for the day. Yeah, I may have only snagged one, but considering I didn’t even try ballhawking until the end of the game doesn’t make it look so bad, does it.

I waited outside of the stadium in hopes of getting an autograph or two from some White Sox or Twins players. I only tried for one player, and that was John Danks.

 
After a while I decided that there probably wouldn’t be anymore players coming out, and the Twins probably wouldn’t sign coming out of the parking lot because they lost.

So, I drove off in to the sunse- Hey is that Brian Dozier signing in his car?

STATS:

Balls at this game: 1 (Kerwin Danley)

Autographs at this game: 2 (Todd Frazier, John Danks)

  

Ballhawk of the Year and Jr. Ballhawk of the Year

The season has come to a close, the Royals have taken the crown, and it’s time for the mygameballs.com BOTY and JBOTY awards. 

  

These awards have already happened, but who says I can’t still write about this. I will be going over who I voted for, who won, and how I did on getting votes.

Who I voted for in the BOTY category:

1. Zack Hample (zackhample on MGB)

 Yes, I did vote for Hample. A lot of people choose to not vote for him because they know he has the most balls out of every Ballhawk (8,633 to be exact), he is “the best Ballhawk in the world”, he catches a ton of home runs, and he’s already won this award 3 out of 6 times (2009, 2011, 2012). Or as Hample-Haters would say, “HE IS UGLY AND NOT COOL AND HAS NO LIFE! I HOPE HE DIES!”. There could be many reasons why you choose not to vote for this guy.

But here’s why I did: 

Zack Hample had one of his best seasons yet. Mainly because of catching Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit. He snagged 827 balls too, which is something that will take me years to do. And he snagged that many in a season! He went to 113 games, and his average was 7.32 balls a game. He led My Game Balls in most balls snagged in 2015, and tied for first for most game home runs, which was 8. He tied with Ballhawk Shawn from Milwaukee. One notable thing that Zack did was go to a game at Citizens Bank Park in Philly, snag an Anthony Rendon home run on the very first pitch of the game, go back to NYC, then go back to Philly then next day, and snag 2 more home runs.

2. Greg Barasch (gbarasch on MGB)

  
Greg Barasch snagged 369 balls in 2015. Guess how many games he did that in. 27! His average was 13.67 balls a game, the highest on MGB. He “only” snagged 1 game home run this season, but I think his most impressive feat was having 23 double digit games! I think I’m lucky to have got only 1! He is a New York Ballhawk, but he made the trip over to my home state of Minnesota for a game at Target Field. He snagged an impressive 11 balls (impressive because Target Field is a tough ballhawking stadium). But get this, he did it with no BP!!! That’s tough.

3. Benny Amesquita (Benny on MGB)

  
Most of you may know Benny Amesquita as that one guy from DodgerFilms who caught all of the BP home runs and the guy who led the DodgerFilms home run contest (before DodgerFilms was shut down). He didn’t snag a single game ball this year, but he snagged 270 balls in 93 games, which makes his average 2.90 balls a game. The most balls he snagged in one game was 9. He may not have had the best stats, but his on the fly stats were impressive. 41% of his baseballs were on the fly (112 catches on the fly). I also voted for him because he was my favorite character from DodgerFilms, and I was sad when the show got shut down. 

Who I voted for in the JBOTY category:

1. Cole Adkins (coleadkins on MGB)

  
Cole Adkins was an easy choice for most people in JBOTY voting. He led Ballhawks under 18 in most balls snagged, highest average, and most double digit games. He snagged 185 balls in 27 games, for an average of 6.85 balls a game. He had 8 double digit games, and the most he snagged in a game was 16. Cole “Colio” Adkins snagged a total of 6 game balls during the season. I have mentioned it at the very end of the last post I made, but I’ll say it again. Cole and I have came up with a new idea for blogging and ballhawking. We hope to announce it soon.

2. Nick Badders (nickbatters on MGB)

  
Nicholas Badders may not have had the best stats, only snagging 73 balls in 45 games (average of 1.62), but that’s not why I voted for him. Nick was the only Ballhawk under 18 to snag a game home run. It came off the bat of Dustin Ackley on April 11th. He didn’t only catch a game homer, but he caught it on the fly too. Nick was pretty lucky, he was in the middle of a crowded row, so he didn’t have room to move at all. He’s lucky that the ball came straight to him. He was even interviewed by MLB.com. You can watch the interview here.

3. Josh Schenk (Josh16 on MGB)

 
Josh Schenk had a good year, snagging 164 baseballs. He attendend 59 games, making his average 2.78 for the season. He did this at a tough ballhawking stadium, Miller Park. The most balls he snagged in a game was 8, which he did twice. He snagged quite a few balls on the fly, including 3 in one game. He snagged some cool commemoratives, such as the pink Mother’s Day ball, and the Washington Nationals 10th Anniversary ball.

The Top 3 Winners for BOTY

1. Zack Hample

My first place vote got first. What else is there to say? I don’t believe the amount of votes he got has been said yet. Well, I went through everything about him, so let’s move on.

2. Greg Barasch

My second place vote got second. Same thing about the number of votes. Once again, I went through his stats and stuff.

3. David Welch (deedubs24 on MGB)

  
Dang, almost everyone I voted for got in the top 3. Benny came in 4th. So close…

David Welch is an Atlanta Ballhawk who snags most of his baseballs with a ball retriever. He gets a good amount of hit balls, and only a few tossups. He went to 75 games in 2015, snagging a total of 665 baseballs. His final average for the season was 8.87 balls a game. He managed to snag a game home run off of the bat of Juan Uribe, after using his ball retrieve to pluck it out of the gap in the outfield. 

The Top 3 Winners for JBOTY

1. Cole Adkins

Cole Adkins racked up an outstanding total of 81 points, the most any Junior Ballhawk has ever gotten. The record before this was held by Grant Edrington from Baltimore, who got 63 points in 2013. Cole got 21 first place votes (!!!), 8 second place votes, and 2 third place votes. You can read the article here.

2. Angel Arroyo (Angel on MGB)

  
Angel Arroyo had an impressive season, snagging 146 balls in 30 games for an average of 4.87 balls a game. He had 3 double digit games, and led the website in most game balls snagged (37). I probably would have voted for Angel, but the only reason I didn’t was because he combines his stats with his dad, therefore I didn’t know his own personal stats.

3. Nate Duppler AKA me! (TFBallhawk on MGB) 

  
(How is it that I can find good quality photos of everyone except for me?)

I made the top 3? Sweet!!! I got a total of 23 points. 4 first place votes, 4 second place votes, and 3 third place votes. It seems weird, but I guess I’ll write about my stats. 

This year I snagged a total of 68 balls in 13 games. My average was 5.23 balls a game. I snagged a total of 6 game balls, which were all third out balls. I snagged 2 of the same kind of commemorative balls this year, the one that Houston used. I only got 1 hit ball, which is pretty lame, but it was on the fly. I did all of this at a tough ballhawking stadium , Target Field. I went to a new stadium (Fenway Park) and snagged 6 balls when I knew nothing about it. 

I guess that’s all for now folks!

Congratulations to everyone who got votes and made the top 3! Good luck next season! 

Ball 100! 10/2/15 at Target Field: Twins vs Royals

I was going to snag my 100th ball today. Yes, today was the day. At the beginning of the season, I though reaching 75 was a long shot. But now, I was at 97 baseballs, only needing 3 more to get the milestone. I invited my friend from school, Justin, to come ballhawking with me. We planned on meeting up with Paul Kom at Gate 34 before the game, and then running in and snagging baseballs. 

We got to Gate 34, and we were first in line with Paul. But that’s when I noticed something. I was COLD! Very, very cold. Want to know what I was wearing?

Shorts and a t-shirt. 

Not smart. I didn’t even bring a coat. This was noooooot good. “Dude, you’re gonna be freezing,” Paul said to me. I just tried to focus on ball 100 and how it would happen. 

They did the usual routine where they open up the gates 10 minutes before the stadium opens, but not let anyone in. In those 10 minutes, a young, cool looking usher walked by and rolled me a ball! No shutout, I was on the board!

  
98, two more to go!

The clock hits 5:00, and the main worker at Gate 34 yelled, “OPEN THEM UP! Welcome to Target Field!” As he does every game. I quickly claimed the corner spot in right field, while I told Justin to go to right center so we would be split up, but still kind of close together. Justin quickly got on the board from Kyle Gibson tossup, and I got another ball shortly after. A long range tossup from Mike Pelfrey.

  
Ball 99, and it was only Twins BP! This picture was taken in a different spot than where I caught it. As I said, I was in the corner spot when I got it. This turned out to be the favorite picture I took at a game this year. The Twins were in the 3rd group, and they had 4 groups. I had plenty more chances to get 100. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my 100th ball in Twins BP. The highlight of Twins BP was watching Miguel Sano hit. This guy was a MONSTER! If you ever see the Twins, position yourself in straightaway left, super far back. This guy is so insane, he hit one halfway up the third deck!!! 

  
(Red arrow is where it landed)

I went over here for the start of Royals BP, and positioned myself behind Johnny Cueto. 

 
Cueto finished playing catch, I called out his name, and he lobbed a ball at me! Here it comes! Ball numbe- nope, an Asian dude reached out and knocked it on the ground. A grounds crew guy picked it up and was going to give it away. I could have easily got it, but who wants their 100th ball to be handed to you by a Twins grounds crew member? Not most ballhawks.

I went to the right field Plaza, hoping to catch a bomb hit by Gordon, Hosmer, or Moustakas. Didn’t happen. It sucks. I tried to get a tossup. Everyone ignored my requests. Joba Chamberlin really made me mad. I called out his name whenever he got a ball, but he ignored me and threw it back in every time. One time, a ball rolled to another player, but I accidentally said “Joba!”. Somehow, he heard me when I called his name that time, but not the ten other times when he had a ball. He game me a weird look like, “Kid, are you stupid!?!”.

There was one time where Ben Zobrist hit a long bomb to right field. I ran down in to the right field seats, cut in to the row, and realized it was heading in to the Plaza behind me. I turned and ran back to the Plaza, just in time to see Paul catch it on the fly. The ball nearly killed an old woman. Paul gave the ball to her.

  It sucks, because I had a better position at first. I was closer to the landing spot than he was. Ughhhhh… This really sucked. I was cold, and only had 2 baseballs when BP ended. Justin did better than me. That lucky kid snagged 6 balls, including one on the fly. He had no prior ballhawking experience.

Paul took a ton of pictures of me to snapchat to girls he knows (who knows why, that’s just Paul for ya!) so I took a ton of him to share here. I am sorry Paul, but I have to do what is right. 

    
   
It was Fan App weekend, which meant they would give away signed baseballs.  

Read my Fan App weekend entry from last year here to see how it all works. 

Well, the rules changed this year. This time, it was an snapchat, and there was only about 5 prizes, and they were all lame. At least the players would still toss up signed balls, right? Right?!? Nope. “I wasted my time going to the bullpen instead of sneaking in to the dugout box seats for nothing,” I thought. Well maybe I didn’t… I could still try and get my 100th ball at the bullpen. I looked around for a player with a ball, but didn’t see one. That was until Neil Allen, the Twins pitching coach, picked up a ball before he went to high five all of the other bullpen players and coaches. 

“Mr. Allen!” I shouted.

No response.

“Mr. Allen! Up here! Can I have that ball please!”

Still nothing.

“Mr. Allen! Please!”

Coach Allen turned around, looked up, saw me, and threw the ball towards me. This ball was falling short. I reached down as far as I could, and felt the ball land in my glove, just before it was about to fall back in to the bullpen.

“Oh yeah Nate! That was your 100th ball!” Justin shouted.

That was my 100th ball.

That was my 100th ball?!?!

Wow. Not how I expected it at all. But oh well, I’ll take it.

 
For the actual Fan App giveaways, Justin and I won a Dozier bobblehead. We saw this posted on Snapchat:

  

Well, take a look at this photo:

  

No, maybe a bit closer…

  

A little more…

  

 BAM! Red bag. She was with another Twins rep, who happens to be the sister of one of my neighbors! I told her that I knew her sister and she laughed.

Paul got one too. We have him a hard time for not getting there before us, but his excuse was “I had to walk through all of the people getting up the stairs and through the concourse.” His seats were near home plate, and the woman with the bag was near home plate. Justin and I were in center field in the second deck when we saw the snapchat! And we still beat him!

Here is an awful group photo I took:

  
And here is a much better one that we got at the Twins Digital Clubhouse:

  
If you look at my hats in the last two pictures, you’ll notice they are different. I took my hat off for some reason when I went to the Digital Clubhouse, and they gave me a free Twins hat. Sweet!

We chased some more giveaways, but didn’t get anymore. Paul got another one though.

  
They actually did do a signed ball giveaway. They had 2 signed balls near the Metropolitan Club and the first to people to get there won. Justin and I were near the Minnie and Paul signed in center field, and if we wanted to get to the Metropolitan Club, we would have gone to left field, down the huge ramp to field level, go halfway around the stadium, up an escalator, and run a bit more. We thought we could never make it. 10 minutes later, we checked snapchat and saw nobody had claimed the baseballs. We ran in to Paul who was also on snapchat, and he said we should go for it. So we did. And 2 people got there before us. Nooo! We could have walked and made it if we went when we saw the snapchat.

Justin and I sat under some heat lamps and ate food. If he was cold when he was wearing a winter hat, a sweatshirt, and sweatpants, that mean I was obviously FREEZING!

We sat here for the end of the game:

  
And when the game ended, we went down the the umpire tunnel. Ben, Noah, and Andrew were already down there cause they snuck in to the dugout box seats, so they had a better position and I didn’t get anything.

I didn’t get anything from the bullpen either, and for he Mario postgame tossups, I moved really far back because there was a ton of people, and when there is a ton of people, he chucks the balls super far. Unfortunately, he didn’t do that today. My snagging was over for 2015. I finished with a lifetime total of exactly 100 baseballs, and a season of 68 baseballs. My graphing season, however, was NOT finished. I graphed the players exit after the game, and got Lorenzo Cain to sign a baseball!!!

  
The story on how I got it was great. Everyone went up to him and asked for an autograph, but he was telling people he wasn’t going and he’d sign for them the next day, but in the process of telling people that, he was taking things people had and signing them. He walked closer to me, and I asked for him to sign my ball.

“I’ll sign for you tomorrow man,” he said.

“I’m not going to be here tomorrow,” I replied.

“Why not?” He said back to me.

“Because my mom said I couldn’t go!”

He laughed, took my ball and pen, and autographed it. I hate the Royals, but I’ll always like Cain after this experience. 

Here’s a fact: I’ve ballhawked at 3 Royals games, and I’ve never got a ball from the Royals. BOOOOOO ROYALS!!!!

Thanks everyone for reading my blog this year. I’m sorry I took a huge break during the season. I’ll try and do the entries quicker. And thank you everyone who tossed me a ball this year. There might be a follow up post about that.

Thanks everyone! I’ll be back with more game entries next year!!!

STATS:

Balls at this game: 3 (Usher, Mike Pelfrey, Neil Allen)

Autographs at this game: 1 (Lorenzo Cain)

  
I’m probably not done blogging for the year, I’m just done with game entries. 

Make sure to keep checking in, because Cincinatti Ballhawk Cole Adkins and I have come up with something cool! It might be announced on Mateo Fischer and Larry Larson’s show, “Ballhawk Talk”.

9/18/15 and 9/19/15 at Target Field: Twins vs Angels

Two games, one entry. Why? Writing entries is hard and quite boring, and who wants to read entries about games that happened 2 months ago during the baseball season? There wasn’t much action during these games. I’m saving myself time, and I’m saving your time. Is a win-win situation!

Okay, game time.

DAY 1

The Angels were in town. Mike Trout was in town. Mike Trout is one of the best players in the world. I wanted his autograph. And 10 baseballs. Why 10 baseballs. I was at 90 and wanted to reach 100 by the end of the season. But back to Trout. I heard he signs every game, so I thought I had a good chance. I also was going to go to the team hotel the day after this game to try and get a signature, and then I would go to the game later that day. 

The only problem was, a lot of people like Mike Trout. A lot of people wanted his signature, and ushers knew that. They were extra strict for these 2 games. This would decrease my chance of getting his autograph.

It was Friday night, and I was driving to the game… In the POURING RAIN! Nooooo! I needed to increase my chances of getting 100. Things weren’t looking so good. I ran in to the stadium, and saw that there was no batting practice… What a shocker… NOT!!!

Luckily, I saw some Angels players warming up down the line. It was only 1 group of players playing catch, but it was good enough for me. I threw on an Angels hat, and got Jett Bandy to throw me ball #1 after he finished warming up. 

 

Ball #91. #RoadTo100?

It was pouring hard, so I went in the 3rd base lounge to get away from the rain. 

That’s when I came up with and idea… A ballhawking idea! 

So the Twins bat boy, Dominique Frost, is pretty cool. And he knows who I am. He’s tossed me a ball before, and he followed me with both of his Twitter accounts. Since we follow each other, I can DM him. What’s a cool way to ask for a ball? Through Twitter DM. You see where I’m going with this?

I hope so. Because I got my 2nd ball of the day 5 minutes later. Guess who gave it to me.

The rest of the night was awful. It never stopped raining. I talked to a grapher about my brothers age named Brian, and another grapher who was an adult, named Derek. Derek told me something pretty cool. So his name is Derek. And he’s met Derek Jeter 4 times. But that’s not where it ends. Derek the grapher and Derek Jeter were born on the EXACT SAME DAY. Crazy.

I started getting the feeling that this game would be postponed to the next day, and there would be a double header. One in the morning, and one at night. If there was one in the morning, we wouldn’t be able to graph the hotel because it was so early in the morning (We could, but nobody wanted to get up at 6:00 and drive to Minneapolis). 

I was cold, wet, and bored. AND, my stupid phone broke. It didn’t crack, it just stopped working. Some of the screen came out. 

I WAS STUCK IN A SMALL AREA FOR 2 HOURS WITH 100 OTHWR PEOPLE WHILE I WAS FREEZING COLD AND SOAKING WET AND I HAD NOTHING TO DO AT ALL!!!!!!

At some random point, a guy walked in and said, “Game is postponed!”. 

CRAP. No hotel graphing.

“They screwed us,” Derek said.

I waited with the people I was with (Ben, Noah, Andrew) in the Twins clubhouse store. That’s when I looked in a mirror and saw the reflection of a giant guy with dark skin the back of the store. It was Miguel Sano! I went up to him when he was alone and asked for him to sign my photo, but he turned me down. This guys autograph gets harder and harder to get every day. I left and went to bed.

DAY 2

I woke up in the morning. Ready for game 1 of 2. Today, I had my mom’s phone with me.

I got to the stadium and BP wasn’t going on, like the day before.  

 
I waited near the dugout for autographs but nobody came out.

I used the normal plan to sneak in to the dugout box seats, and it worked like a charm. 

Ushers were everywhere, kicking people out. I didn’t get kicked out, luckily.

Here are the Angels that came out to warm up. 

 
See that group of 3 guys? See the guy on the left of that group? That would be Michael Nelson Trout.

As always, Trout signed. Not for me. But for Noah, Andrew, and Ben. 

Great. Juuuuust great.

I left the dugout box right after that. I got kicked out on the way walking out. 

There was barely any ushers at this game, so I moved around everywhere. I went to the second deck, the foul lines, and the outfield. I had a whole empty row in the outfield. It was beautiful. Look: 

 
Sadly, that lasted for about 5 minutes. I had made a plan of my path for if a homer came towards me. Move over a few seats, climb down a row, move over again, climb down again, and then go to the aisle, and then go wherever from there. Too bad I never got to use it.

When the game got to the 9th inning, I moved closer to the dugout so I could get an umpire ball. Well, the game went in to 12 innings. This was how me and my grapher friend Nick were feeling. 

 
Not too happy. I’ve mentioned 3 different Nick’s in the past few entries. There was Nick the grapher from Iowa, Nick the Ballhawk from Minnesota, and Nick the grapher from Minnesota. This was Nick the grapher from Minnesota. Nick from Iowa was also at this game too. 

Here’s a picture I took near the dugout:

  
Two future Hall of Famers.

When the game DID end, we ran down to the umpire tunnel and I got my final ball of the game from home plate umpire Bill Miller. 

  

I took the picture outside of the stadium.

DAY 2 GAME 2

I got in to the stadium a few minutes after the first game ended.

No BP again. I wasn’t expecting there to be BP because they were tired from the first game.

I snuck in to the dugout box again. I didn’t get kicked out this time. Trout barely signed for anyone this game. Bleh.

I scored some GREAT seats during the game, right behind the dugout.  

 
At the start of the game, we sat in the first row. Ben got Albert Pujols to toss us bacon ranch sunflower seeds!!!!

  
They tasted amazing! We were lucky we got them, we were starving and out of money.

I got my first ball of the second game and 2nd ball of the day tossed to me by David Freese. It was a 3rd out ball. Byron Buxton hit it, Mike Trout caught it, he tossed it in to Eric Aybar, who flipped it to Freese, who tossed it to me.

  
This is one of my favorite baseballs now.

During the game, I saw some cool stuff. I saw a pitch the hit the dirt at the plate, and bounce so high that it went all the way over the net and 20 rows back! I have NEVER seen anything like that ever. Another cool thing was that I saw Mike Trout hit a home run. That will be a cool thing to tell people once Trout retires and is inducted in to the Hall of Fame.

  
Here’s just another random picture of Trout:

  
My 2nd ball of the game came from home plate umpire Doug Eddings when the game ended. I don’t have a picture of it. 

I got my 3rd ball from I think Cam Bedrosian as he was walking in to the dugout from the bullpen.


I eventually came up with a theory on how this could be the Trout homer. It’s very hard to explain. Ask me some other time.

My 4th and final ball came from Mario the visiting team bat boy. He usually throws his postgame tossups to the people standing at the rail of the camera well next to the dugout, but he decided to chuck all of the balls super far this time. I didn’t get the first one. For the second one, I backed up a little bit this time. He threw it far again, and I leaped and it sailed over my head. It landed in a folded up part of a seat, so I ran over and grabbed it. 

So did another kid. It was just like the Mariners game! Me and this kid both had firm grip on this ball. His friend came in and tried to grab it. It was two against one, but I wouldn’t let go. I remember looking at Andrew while holding the ball and seeing him laughing at the whole situation. It was kind of funny. Another friend of his suggested we play “rock, paper, scissors” to decide who wins (Yeah, no). This ball was critical. I needed to boost my total to 97 so I could be closer to 100. I came up with an idea that if he lets go, I would give it to him. He immediately let go and I handed it over. 

No picture, so sad.

I went to the team hotel after the game and tried to get autographs.

I went home tired and had no Mike Trout autograph.

I will see you in April, Michael.

STATS: 

Balls during these 2 days: 7

Autographs: 0

 

8/28/15 at Target Field: Twins vs Astros

What’s a good time to leave for a 7:00 pm game when you live 30 minutes away from the stadium?

9:30 am sounds about right.

I was going to the Astros hotel to get some players autographs, hopefully from George Springer, Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, or Carlos Correa. The people I was going with was Ben, Noah, and Andrew. If you read my blog a lot, you should know these names by now. If you don’t know, Ben is my older brother, and Noah and Andrew are his friends. We were going to meet up with Andrew’s brothers friend Ryan who is in college and his 9 year old brother, Hunter.

At the hotel, I ended up getting autographs from Mike Fiers, Hank Conger, Jason Castro, Luke Gregerson, Collin McHugh, Marwin Gonzalez, Pat Neshek, and Jose Altuve. 

I got everyone except for Altuve on cards. I got him on an 8×10. The way I got him was pretty fun and interesting. He left the hotel in a pink shirt, not signing for anyone, and walked towards Target Field. One grapher said, “Should we chase him to  the stadium?” and that’s when 25 people (including me) went off running. The hotel was close to the stadium, only 2 blocks. We ran towards the Target Plaza, passing the Target Center (the Timberwolves basketball team play there) on the way. We got to Target Field, and I spotted a pink shirt on the other side of the Plaza. Everyone ran up to him and swarmed him, but I decided to stay back and let him walk towards me. He signed for 2 people who swarmed him, and then walked towards me, and signed my photo!

  
Now here’s the part that I really don’t want to write. Nothing bad happened, it was actually the coolest thing to happen to me this year. I don’t want to write about it cause it will take forever!!!

Okay, I guess I have to do it at some point.

Pat Neshek is an autograph collector. I was on his Twitter and he said he is trying to get all of the cards from the 2014-15 Topps set autographed. I have some of those cards signed, and I tweeted at him about that and offered to trade him some for a commemorative ball that the Astro’s are using. I didn’t get a response, so the only way to ask was in person. When he signed at the hotel, I asked if he was doing the set and he said yes. I asked if he would trade with me for a commemorative ball at the game, and he said he would do it. I asked him where and when we should trade, and he said after he plays catch down the line during BP. He seemed more excited than this about me! “Yeah, let’s do this!” He said to me.

Andrew, Ben, Noah, Hunter, Ryan, and I all went to Chipotle after that. I was supposed to be on the first episode of Tony Voda’s new podcast, “At The Gates”. I realized I was going to have to get back to the stadium quickly in time to be on the podcast. I ran to the stadium, bought a ticket, and went to Gate 34 where I saw Tony Voda and Paul Kom. Mateo Fischer joined us shortly after. We did the podcast, and took a group photo and signed it.

  
This isn’t a photo I took, it belongs to Tony Voda and his blog, “Plouffe’s New Hairdo“.

We all got in at 5:00, and I ran to the right field seats like I usually do. Right as I was running down the stairs, a ball was hit to a Twins player but I couldn’t tell who it was. I asked for the ball, even though I wasn’t expecting to get it because he was already in mid-throw. To my surprise, he turned around and threw it my way. I caught it and immediately realized that the player was Chris Herrmann, a very friendly player who tosses a lot of balls up. That was the quickest I ever got a ball, it only took 5 seconds!

I don’t have a picture of this ball. I thought I would take one later but I ended up giving it away.

After that, I went down the left field foul line to look for Pat Neshek. I saw him warming up and asked if he had found a commemorative ball. He said he hadn’t found one yet. I tried to get a ball from some pitchers warming up, but it didn’t happen. I looked to see if I could find Neshek but he was nowhere to be found. Uh oh, not good. How would I make the trade if I didn’t know where he was?!?! I scanned the outfield, infield, everywhere. I was getting nervous at this point. Until, I looked a bit to my right and saw Neshek!…. Standing about 1 foot away from me. I asked if he saw one yet but he said no and they were all in the BP bag in center field. He said when they hit a ball to him he will look to see if it was a commem.

He started fielding in the outfield in left field. I didn’t want to wait on foul lines forever and wait for him to find one for me. Luckily, he went to the BP bag in CF and started looking for a commemorative ball! This was so cool! The trade would happen! After about a minute of lookin, he stood up with a ball, and ran towards me! It was happening! 

“I got it right here buddy! I think you’ll like it!”

“It’s commemorative?”

My question was answered when he set this in my glove:

  
Mission Accomplished. I handed him the cards and he quickly shoved them in his back pocket, not wanting anyone to see. I guess it worked, because my brother saw him give me the ball but not take the cards.

Wait, that just happened?!?! I made a trade with a Major League Baseball player?!? I made a trade with an All Star?!?! This whole thing was crazy and awesome. That wouldn’t be the last time I talked to Pat that day.

The trade was over, and I could go run around and Ballhawk now. I started by going to right center field, where I quickly got Will Harris to throw me a ball.

  

Pretty simple. Watch the video here. As you can tell from the video, I managed to get my GoPro on right before he threw me the ball.

Right center for boring real quickly, so I went over to right field. The right field corner spot was already taken up by some people who had seats there, so I had to settle with one row exactly behind the corner spot. Mateo was also in right field at the time.

Now I have never caught a ball on the fly, and I’ve always wanted to. I usually think before every game “I’ll catch one on the fly today,” but it never happens. Today, I had a really good feeling that it would actually happen today. 

I got my chance when Marwin Gonzalez stepped in the cage. He was hitting bombs, but none of them close enough to run after. That’s when one came off his bat, and was coming to right field. Right to me. I knew it would be a homer the second it left the bat, and I knew it was heading towards me. Although I have had a few chances, I have never managed to catch one off the bat. These things come in HOT. 

“I’m not going to drop this one,” I thought as the ball reached its apex and started heading down towards me. 

“I’ve dropped one at Fenway, and I’ve dropped one in this exact spot,” I thought as reached my glove out over the side of the railing. 

“But I won’t drop one today,” I thought as I got ready for the catch.

“Not today.”

SMACK!!!

The ball hit my glove with a lot of force. 

My initial reaction was, “Did that just happen!?!” And then it changed to “That just happened!!!”.

I may have celebrated a BIT to much. It’s not like it was a game homer or anything, but hey, I was excited 😉.

  
Woohoo, oh yeah, I got one off the bat!

I moved in to the first row and 2 and a half sections over. Lance McCullers was running out there and he had a few baseballs. He chucked one in the stands to someone, then he chucked one to me. Unfortunately, it didn’t reach me. Fortunately, it bounced back on the field, where he could throw it again. He ran up to field it, and he chucked it super hard at me. I reached a little bit forwards and made the catch. Watch the video here.

  

Wow, that’s quite a dirty looking baseball!

(Fun Fact: I met Lance McCullers and got his autograph back when he was in low A)

(Fun Fact 2: I was the first person on My Game Balls to get a ball from him)

For those keeping count, I was at 5 baseballs. That tied my BP record, and BP hadn’t even been going on for a while. I was confident that I would break my BP record. 

When Chris Carter’s group came up, I took off for the second deck in left field. I heard he’s a great BP hitter. 

Bad news, Carter didn’t hit a single ball up there.

Good news, Carlos Correa hit multiple up there.

And I got one:

  

It hit the railing on the wheelchair sectioned, went in to the concourse, and and usher grabbed it and tossed it to me.

Ball #6, a new BP record for me.

I ran down to the Astros dugout shortly after, and Javier Bracamonte, the nicest bullpen catcher of all time, was taking balls out of the BP bag and tossing them up. Paul got a commemorative ball when he asked specifically for one, so I tried the same thing and got this:

  

Success! Ball 7.

I planned on sneaking to the Astros dugout box seats, but got kicked out😦 .

No problem, I’ll go to the Twins side and get an autograph from the number one prospect in the game:

  
Yep, Byron Buxton signed. That’s actually very rare in Minnesota. He’s a tough guy to get.

During the game I met another Ballhawk named Nick. Not the Nick the grapher from the Mariners entry, this guy was a different person. We talked about our snags, and he actually got a commemorative ball from Neshek too!

During the game I unsuccessfully tried to find out who hit me the ball on the fly. I’m glad I finally found out though!

I don’t remember much of what I did at the game. All I remember was that my 8th and final ball of the day was from home plate umpire Ben May. 

 
I graphed at the players exit after the game and got an autograph from Scott Kazmir on a card.

Pat Neshek came out a bit later, and I asked what he did with the baseball cards.

“They’re in my locker now,” he responded.

And that was the end of that.

STATS: 8 balls at this game (Herrmann, Neshek, Harris, Gonzalez, McCullers, Usher, Bracamonte, May)

11 autos at this game (Altuve, Gregerson, Conger, Neshek x2, Buxton, Castro, McHugh, Gonzalez, Fiers)

   
 

 

8/14/15 at Fenway Park: Red Sox vs Mariners

This was my second game in a row seeing the Seattle Mariners play. But something felt off… Target Field looked a little different…

  

Wait, this isn’t Target Field, this is Fenway Park!

Hold on a minute, why was I in Boston?

Well, I was on a family trip that started by us getting on a plane…

  
…going to Washington D.C. and seeing the White House…

  
…and the Washington Monument…

  

  
…then hopping on a train to New York City…

  
…going to the Statue of Liberty…

  
…and going to Times Square at night…

  
…then finally heading to Boston.

(There were so many other things I did on this trip, but I lost most of the pictures I was planning on sharing here. I went to the Capital Building, the MLK memorial, the Lincoln memorial, Ford Theater, Ellis Island, Madison Square Garden, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 30 Rock, the Today Show, the World Trade Center museum and memorial, a spinning restaurant on the roof of my hotel in Times Square, the Freedom Trail, Paul Revere’s house, and more.)

The train ride to Boston was 4 hours long. I spent most of my time reading Zack Hample’s book “The Baseball” which is a great read.

To get to Boston, I went through Philly…

  
…Baltimore…

  
…Delaware, Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and finally I was in Boston, Massachusetts.

Before I went to the game, my family stopped at a Target so me and my brother could get a Red Sox hat.

We got in line in center field and signed up for the Red Sox Nation. Why? If you are a part of the Red Sox Nation, you get in to the stadium 2 hours and 30 minutes before the game starts.

At 4:40 when the stadium opened, I ran inside and got a look at the field. The cage was set up and the Red Sox were taking BP! I went to right field and stood right behind the bullpens to see if I could get a tossup or a home run. I really like the fact that there is a cross aisle behind the bullpens. It makes it a lot easier to run after home run balls.

After unsuccessfully getting a tossup from the players (there was only about 5 in the whole outfield) and seeing a ton of homers get swallowed up by the bullpens, I managed to get a grounds crew member to tossed me my first ball of the day. He was picking up some baseballs, I asked for one and told him it was my first game at Fenway, but he threw it to someone else. He picked up another, started looking for me, and then tossed it right to my glove! Yes! My first ball at Fenway Park.

  
The ball had a red star stamped on the sweet spot.

A little bit later, I wandered over to CF to see if I could get anything there. I unsuccessfully tried to get David Ortiz’s son to toss me a ball.

I saw a player with a ball walking around, talking to another player. I saw that his name was on the back of his jersey, but I couldn’t tell what it said. He eventually got closer, and I realized it wasn’t a player, it was bench coach Torey Lovullo. I know his name because he applied to be the Twins manager before Paul Molitor was picked.

I shouted his name a few times, and he eventually looked over and chucked the ball my way. I thought it was going to fall short, but it managed to make it all the way to me.

  
That was my second ball, and also my last one from Red Sox BP. 

The Mariners came out and I stayed in right field, even thought they were warming up in left field.

My first ball of Mariners BP and third ball of the day came from Carson Smith, after he saw that I had a Mariners hat on. He was happy to see a fan of his team in a place where almost everybody loves the Red Sox and nobody else.

  
I went up to CF again, saw a guy who I recognized as ballhawk Chris Hernandez. He is a friend of Zack Hample. You can see his My Game Balls account here, and his blog here.

A few minutes later, I saw a Mariner pitcher in right center scoop up a grounder so I asked him for it. He immediately turned around and tossed it up to me, and as it was in the air, I realized it was Hishashi Iwakuma throwing me the ball. In my Mariners entry from last year, I got a ball from Hishashi by asking him in Japanese. I thanked him for the ball in Japnese, and congratulated him on his no hitter from a few days earlier. He gave me a thumbs up.

  
That was my 4th of the day and 80th lifetime. *cough*roadto100*cough*

My 5th ball of the day would come closer to the end of BP. I went to right field again, and identified one of the players as Vidal Nuno. I called out his name when he got a ball, he heard me, saw my M’s hat, walked closer to me, and threw a bullet towards me. It was going off to the side and a ton of people with longer arms reached out and tried to catch it. I don’t know how, but every person who reached out managed to miss the ball, and it landed it safely in the pocket of my glove.

  
When BP did end, I didn’t even bother running over to the dugout to try and get an extra ball because I knew I wouldn’t make it. I left right field, and gave my Carson Smith tossup to a little French kid with a glove on the way out.

I forgot to mention, but I thought this was kind of cool. In BP, Nelson Cruz hit multiple balls out of the park over the monster. 

I went to the dugout when the players began to warm up, and tried to get a ball or autograph.  

 
I didn’t get a ball, or an autograph when Robinson Cano signed, but I got a selfie with Jesus Montero on Snapchat and had him “sign” it with his finger.

  
I sat by the M’s dugout for the game to try and get a 3rd out ball, but I came up short. Robinson Cano always ended up with the ball but he would always toss it in to the middle of a section.

Something cool I noticed was that when the Sox were running back in to their dugout and one player had he third out ball, he tossed it about 20 rows up. I have never seen a player do that.

Towards the end of the game, I moved to this spot to get in position for an umpire ball:

  
The final out was recorded, and I got the only ball the Alan Porter gave away.

  
I had a great time at America’s oldest ballpark, and I would love to go back there again someday.
STATS:

Balls at this game: 6 (Grounds Crew, Torey Lovullo, Carson Smith, Hisashi Iwakuma, Vidal Nuno, Alan Porter) (5 pictured because I gave one away)

Autographs at this game: 1 (Jesus Monero)

  

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