Haven’t added the pictures in yet, but I will try to do it soon.
I left at 8:00 for a 1:10 game. That’s 5 hours before the game. Why was I leaving so early? I was going to the White Sox hotel to try to get a ton of autographs.
I did not do very good.
I got an autograph from Daryl Boston, and Robin Ventura. That’s it.
Right after that, I went to Target Field, and got in line at Gate 34. Actually, I take that back, there was no line. I was the only one in it. As I was there, I saw 3 White Sox players walk through the Plaza outside the stadium. I didn’t know who they were at the time, but I have now identified them as John Danks, Adam Eaton, and Gordon Beckham. It was about 9:30 now. I was expecting another ballhawk to arrive soon. His name is Alex Dehmer and he writes a ballhawking blog called Everything Twins. The line at the gate got a lot bigger because there was some big giveaway today. The giveaway was this hat: Alex Dehmer showed up later and we talked for a bit.
BP started at 10:30 but the gates wouldn’t be open for another half hour. To be surprised, I was somewhat wrong. They opened the gates about 10 minutes before 11 o’clock, but they still didn’t let anyone in. Great! Snagging gate 34 balls would be a lot easier now. Good thing I was first in line! A few minutes later, I was looking at the ground for some reason until I heard a security guard scream, “BALL!!!!” I looked up and saw that a ball was bouncing right towards me. A security guard picked it up, so I asked him for it and he gave it to me. I got a ball even before the stadium opened. Yes!
When they let fans in a few minutes later, I grabbed my fur bomber hat and ran to an area in right field where I saw a ball land. Unfortunately, I was told another usher had already grabbed it. At least I only was in there looking for 5 seconds. I went to the overhang section of right field and claimed the corner spot. I quickly got Blaine Boyer, a player who never throws balls up, to actually throw me a ball. Maybe it was because I was the only one who knew his name? Not sure. So I’m at 2 balls and the stadium hasn’t even been open for a minute yet.
I figured that I wouldn’t get another ball in right field so I ran over to the left field bleachers. I recently got a GoPro camera and a GoPro hat clip, so I brought them both to the game. I turned it on as I was running to the bleachers. My brother, Ben, was out there, and he had 2 balls. He fielded one himself at 34, and got a toss-up from Kyle Gibson in left. Like Ben, I also managed to get a ball from Gibson. Here’s how it went down. Gibson fielded one, I asked him for it, he threw it to me, it bounced off the wall, it rolled back to him, and he made a good throw this time.
Third of the day and I have only been inside the stadium for 5 minutes. Here is a cool video I got on my GoPro: Gibson toss-up. And before you ask, no. It was not filmed with a potato.
After that, I went for home runs during the rest of Twins BP. There was some really close calls, most of them hit by Torii Hunter. He was crushing the ball. It was cool to see him back in action and that he’s still got it going on.
BP ended a minute later, and the second that it did, I took off for the left field foul line where some White Sox were playing catch. I did not get anything from them. But when Scott Carroll came over to talk to a fan and he had a ball in his glove, I quickly made my move and asked for the ball. He looked at me and he immediately took it out of his glove and set it in mine. Easy as can be!
There was a boring part in BP when nothing was being tossed up. I hate that. I went out to left field for a few minutes but it was waaay too crowed, so I went to the right-center seats. Alex and Ben where out there. I had a ton of close calls on BP homers out there. The closest one was one I thought I definitely was going to catch, but it bounced off the top of the wall, and back on to the field. It was picked up by Jeff “Shark” Samardzija, so I asked him for the ball and received it. Apparently that was the only ball Samardzija tossed up all day.
That’s 5 balls for those counting at home. Shortly after that, I went to the White Sox dugout and tried to get some more autographs. I only got one and it was from Dan Jennings. BP finished up right after that and I didn’t get any baseballs at the dugout. 5 balls during BP. Just like last time.
Me, Ben, and Noah, who was with us too, tried to sneak in to the third base side dugout box. We snuck in, and we thought we were all good. We ended up getting caught, but instead of ushers just telling us to leave the section, they went over the top! They were seriously trying to scare us and be mean. This one obese usher woman was yelling at us and she went on a rant about how, “I CHECK TICKETS AT 12:30 AND YOU CAN’T BE DOWN HERE AFTER THAT!” She wouldn’t let us leave until all three of us walked up to the top of the section. She took us to another old usher and told her,”THESE THREE ARE WANDERING AROUND WHEREVER THEY WANT!” This other usher said to us, “NO. UN-UH. YOU’RE DONE DOING THAT FOR THE GAME. LEAVE!”.
Aren’t ushers supposed to be nice and helpful? Guess not all of them. All she could have said was, “Sorry, you have to go sit in your real seat now”. I’ve met some nice ushers and all they have said was that. These rude ones are probably going to go on and bore their grandchildren to death with the story about the time they ruined three peoples days.
I went to my actual seat, which was actually pretty good. I watched most of the game from there. At point, a foul ball came straight up and towards me. I knew that it was going to land right next to me. This is the part where I stand up and make the catch, celebrate, and get showed on TV, right?
Instead, I ducked in cover so I didn’t get hit. Why did I do this? I didn’t have my glove on because I didn’t think a foul ball was going to come near me. Dang it.
I ended up going to the bullpen later so I could try to snag a ball over there. I didn’t, but when I was there some super drunk dude came over and was trying to bribe the players in to throwing a ball up. He started throwing single bills down there. He kept taking money out of his wallet and throwing it in the bullpen. He eventually took 20 bucks in 1’s and threw them all down there! This guy was insane! They took all money money and shoved it in to a corner of the bullpen. I left after that.
I went back down to my seat for a few more minutes before moving to a different spot near an entrance to the Twins dugout box. I then made my way down in to the seats in the first row right behind the Twins dugout.
The Twins had the lead, 5-3, and it was the top of the 9th. They only needed three outs to win. Alexei Ramirez came up with no outs, and hit a fly ball which was caught by center fielder Shane Robinson. Robinson threw the ball in, and instead of rolling in to the Twins dugout, it rolled in the camera well, which I happened to be sitting behind. I asked a camera man for the ball, and he put it in my glove.
The Twins got 2 more, and the game ended. I didn’t manage to snag a ball from the Twins, so I went to the other dugout to try and get a toss-up from Mario, the visiting team bat boy. Mario came out and threw one to Ben, and then another guy who looked somewhat important that was in the dugout threw one to me.
Number 7 would be my last ball of the day. I wanted to give that ball away, so I looked EVERYWHERE for a little kid with a glove. I did not find one. I was getting ready to leave the stadium, when I saw Jeff Samardzija walk out of the dugout in his street clothes, across the field, and in to the seats! I knew exactly where he was going and what he was doing, so me, Ben, Noah, and another grapher chased him down. Ben was the first to get to him, so he turned around and was about to grab his sharpie, but he saw all of those so he said, “Not if everyone’s coming after me.” He then walked out of the stadium with a bunch of fans who had no clue who he was.
I waited outside the stadium for my mom to come, and as I was, I found the perfect kid to give a ball to. I asked him if he had got a ball, and when he said no, I asked if he wanted the one I got. He was really excited, but I think his parents were more!
I left the stadium right after that, happy with what I got.
Balls at this game: 7 (BP homer, Blaine Boyer, Kyle Gibson, Scott Carroll, Jeff Samrdzija, Camera man, Sox Staff)
Autographs at this game: 1 (Dan Jennings)
Autographs at hotel: 2 (Daryl Boston, Robin Ventura)
The 2015 baseball season was back in action, which meant I would be too. Ever since the schedule came out, I had been wanting to go to this specific game. It was the first Twins Friday game of the year.
The game got closer and closer, so I invited my friend Stephen to come with for his first time ballhawking. We left for the game but got stuck in some bad traffic. Nooo! I was really hoping I could get there before the gates open, but when I looked at the time, I realized that I would not make it there before they did.
Here was my first look at Target Field:
I got in to Gate 29 about 8 minutes after it opened, and ran in to the right field seats where I saw Mateo Fischer. For those who don’t know, Mateo is a ballhawk who has a little over 800 baseballs. He was already at 3 balls for the day.
About 5 minutes later, I got on the board for the 2015 season with a toss up from Twins pitcher, Aaron Thompson, leaning out over the railing of the overhang.
My first Manfred ball ever! I like these a lot better than Selig balls for some reason.
I made my way over to left field, only to have Twins BP end a few seconds later. So I went over to the third base foul line where a few players were coming out to throw. I stood in the very first row in the wheel chair section.
The Indians bullpen catcher, Armando Camacaro, came by and threw a ball to Stephen who was about 30 feet away from me. I then asked Armando if he could please toss me a ball too, so he picked one up and threw it in my direction. Obviously and easily, I made the catch for number two on the day.
Another Manfred ball. Awesome.
I stayed in that spot because I had my eye on the ball the Michael Bourn and Michael Bantley were playing catch with.
I was still in the wheel chair section, while Mateo was right behind me in the regular seats. The two Michael’s finished up playing catch, and Bourn ended up with the ball. Bourn was furthest away from me. I yelled out “Michael!” and both Brantley and Bourn looked at me. It was kind of funny. Bourn saw me and Mateo asking for the ball, so he decided, and threw it towards me. I had to take a few steps back and make a semi-leaping catch.
Hmm.. a Selig ball. Number 3 today and Indians BP was still just getting started.
I went over to the dugout for a few minutes, but had no luck so I went back out to right field. I switched between right field and right center.
Danny Salazar was out there but was not tossing balls up. I always asked though even if he would deny my requests. After a few times, I started saying that I was and Indians fan ;). Well, I might not be, but I think he believed it because he started looking up at me to see my hat. After asking a few more times, he decided it was time to give one to me. A ball rolled to the wall, so he picked it up and threw straight up in to me glove.
Another Selig. Ball number 4. A new BP record for me.
I really wanted to catch some BP homers on the fly, because this is my third season and I haven’t done it yet. I had a really close call, but it bounced back on to the field. I also had another one too. One ball came in fast and tipped off Mateo’s glove, bounced off the wall at the back of the section, and in to the row below me. Mateo and I both scrambled for it, but him being older and more skilled (about 800 balls more skilled) than me, he came up with the snag.
BP was winding down, so I went over to the Indians dugout.
I waited there for about 10 minutes and then the players started walking in.
Nothing… until I went over to the far side of the dugout and got my 5th ball of BP tossed to me by an Indians coach. Took it out of a ball bag and rolled it across the dugout roof.
Same old, same old. Number 5. The most I have ever got in a single BP!
Me and Stephen met up with Mateo at the dugout and had an usher take a picture of us each with a baseball.
Mateo asked a kid if he had gotten a ball that day and he said no and he was with 2 other people. Mateo gave a ball to one of them, and Stephen and I gave balls to the others. I gave away the Salazar toss up.
Stephen and I went over to section 104 to try and get some autographs from some twins players. Only 1 guy signed, and that was Eduardo Escobar. I had him sign a card.
We went over to the Indians side but nobody over there came over to sign autographs. We found a seat and sat down for the game.
I usually like sitting there, but the fans around us were SO FREAKING OBNOXIOUS! I had a bad headache and I was so tired. The only good part about sitting there was that there was a person about our age from out of town who was fun to talk to. He lives near the Omaha Storm Chasers park and goes to games about 3 times a week. He has snagged over 200 MiLB balls.
We got so fed up with the annoying, loud, screaming people around us, so we left our seats and walked around. We went over to stand in the Target Field Plaza and just hang out for a bit.
Stephen and I talked to Waldo for a little bit. He is on Zack Hample’s top 10 ballhawk list. He has some really funny and interesting stories about ballhawking. Fun guy to talk to.
I got bored so I walked up to the Digital Clubhouse and got a picture posted on their Twitter:
Around the 8th inning, Stephen and I made our way over to these seats:
Then, we got down here:
I switched between this spot for third out balls and the umpire tunnel in case there was a walk-off. Stephen actually ended up getting a third-out ball before I ever did! I stood at the back of the cross aisle so I could run left or right depending on the outcome of the inning.
I went back down to Stephen at one point (he is in the front row with a red hat in the last pic) and Mario the bat boy was walking in to the dugout. He didn’t have a ball with him, but I still kind of waved my glove at him anyway. He nodded, went in to the dugout, and came back out with this for me:
That’s why it never hurts to ask! This would be number 6 for the day. Only 2 balls away from breaking my personal record. Could I do it? Hopefully.
I kept standing in the cross aisle, hoping the Twins would get a walk-off because the game was tied, but that would not happen this 10th inning. So the inning ends, and nobody wins. What does that mean? Third-out time! I ran down to the front row, asked the catcher Roberto Perez for a ball, and received this pearl:
My first third out ball ever. Tied my record with 7 balls! 1 more!
The Indians didn’t score in the 11th, so the Twins came up with another chance for a walk-off! I got down by the umpire tunnel, and watched the game. With no one on base, Trevor Plouffe came up to bat.
Everyone knew it was gone the second it left the bat.
It was the first walk-off homer I have ever seen. I have been to 4 walk-offs in my entire life, and 3 of them have been from Trevor Plouffe.
Umpire Mike DiMiro gave me nothing, even though I was wearing an umpire hat. Dang. I went over to the other side of the dugout and threw on my Indians hat to try to get a ball from the bullpen people. Stephen came over there as well. He knew I was only 1 ball away from breaking the record, so he wanted me to get another ball.
The bullpen came in, and threw some balls up. None of them to me. Uh oh, I was running out of time. There was no chance for a ball from Mario later because he will remember me from the toss up earlier. One more guy came in. I’m pretty sure he was the same guy from the toss-up from the end of BP. He threw a few balls up, and then rolled one towards Stephen. Here’s when it gets good. Since Stephen actually wanted me to have another ball more than he did himself, he didn’t pick it up. He purposely bobbled it around in his arm until I grabbed it away from him. New record! 8 baseballs!
It wasn’t just a record breaking ball, it was also my 40th ball ever too! This is a sign of a great season ahead of me.
I recognized another ballhawk at the dugout, who’s nickname is Panda. I talked to him for a little bit, and I learned that he’s a really nice guy!
We left the stadium shortly after, and on the way out, we saw the person we talked to during the game. He was the one who goes to all the Omaha Storm Chasers games. Want to know what the first thing he told us was? He got Plouffe’s walk-off batting glove.
Stephen and I sat down outside the stadium at a place where we found out some players exit. We waited for about 40 minutes and got autographs from Trevor May and Mike Aviles. I didn’t recognize Aviles at first so I had him sign a China ball, and I saw someone with his cards out so I sprinted back to my card binder, chased him down the street and had him sign the card. That was the end to a great day.
Balls this game: 8
Autographs this game: 4
7 pictured here because I gave 1 away
This was something that I have seen many ballhawks do. They take their baseballs, and put them under a black light so they can see the “secret” number on them. I decided that I wanted to try this so I bought a black light and went to work.
I tried this with 5 different baseballs.
Well, there you have it! Have you ever tried this?
By the way, I am going to my first Twins game on April 17th. It’s a Friday night game at 7:10. Gates open at 5:00.
If anyone is going, leave a comment below!
It’s been a while.
I said I would be posting in January, and look at what I’m doing now.
So, I decided that I needed something to post on the blog, so I asked 2 ballhawks I know a few questions. The first one was Paul, from A Piece of the Game, and the second one was Larry Larson, from The Curveblog.
Here is Paul’s interview:
Nate: How did you get in to ballhawking?
Paul: I came across a video of Zack Hample playing catch with a player at Kauffman Stadium, and ended up finding more videos of him. I eventually found a link to his blog. Lo and behold, this was how I learned about ballhawking.
Nate: How did you snag your first ball?
Paul: I was given a Target Field 2010 Inaugural Season commemorative at the gates.
Nate: Any memorable moments?
Paul: Not sure.
Nate: Any bad experiences?
Paul: I also don’t know.
Nate: Out of all of your catches, what was your best one?
Paul: My best catch was probably at my first game of Spring Training. I caught a Plouffe home run in BP after running down steep steps then across the grass berm.
Nate: What is your favorite ball?
Paul: Either my 2013 Opening Day commemorative balls, or my Brian Dozier foul ball.
Nate: Any balls you wish you wouldn’t have given away?
Paul: I got the ball the Phil Hughes used to set a new MLB single season record for Strike-Out to Walk ratio for pitchers with a qualifying amount of innings. People started telling me to give it to the little girl by me, so I did without even thinking of its significance.
Nate: Worst injury?
Paul: Haven’t really got injured, but I broke my camera once.
Now, here is Larry’s interview:
Nate: How did you get in to ballhawking?
Larry: My parents read a story about Zack Hample on NPR and they bought his book for me. I found his blog and I really got in to it.
Nate: What happened at your first game ballhawking?
Larry: My first game was at U.S. Cellular against the Astros. I didn’t bring any White Sox or Astros gear and I just stayed in the same spot the whole time going for tossups. I didn’t get any baseballs.
Nate: What’s the story behind your first ball?
Larry: I was at a White Sox game the same season and they were playing the Blue Jays. I bought a Blue Jays hat and I got a really good spot where I stayed the whole time, and eventually got Pete Walker to chuck me a ball from a distance because I was one of the few wearing Jays gear.
Nate: Do you have a most memorable moment?
Larry: Ballhawking at Camden Yards and hanging out with the regulars there.
Nate: Worst experience?
Larry: I missed 2 game home runs in 1 game at Wrigley Field, one of which was Gerrit Cole’s first in the Major Leagues. My other one is missing out on 5 Bryce Harper BP home runs at Citizens Bank Park.
Nate: What is the best catch you have ever made?
Larry: I ran 10 feet to my right and made a full extension backhanded running catch on the fly of a Salvador Perez foul ball at Miller Park.
Nate: What’s the favorite ball you own?
Larry: A Fenway Park commemorative thrown to me by a coach at PNC Park.
Nate: Any balls you wish you never gave away?
Larry: I was standing at the Nationals (they were the visiting team) bullpen at CBP for 3-4 innings trying to get a tossup so I didn’t get shutout. I got a good spot when some fans left and I had my Nationals stuff on, but then my little brother Jack came over and tried to get a ball where I was (he already had three balls that day). A player threw a ball towards us and since I didn’t want to get shutout, I reached in front of my brother and caught the ball. Jack got mad and since the player said to hand the ball to Jack, I did.
Nate: What’s the worst injury you have got?
Larry: I was in the Toyota Territory at Miller Park and a BP homer was hit to the back of the section. I ran towards where the ball was landing but I tripped and fell on my face.
A big thanks goes out to Paul and Larry for helping me with these interviews!
Now on to the TwinsFest part.
This was my 4th TwinsFest ever. I have gone every year since 2012. This year, I’d be going on a Friday.
I got in the long, cold line at Gate 29, but luckily it moved pretty fast. Once I got to the VERY front of the line (I was getting my bag checked) I let Paul hop in with me. I then went down to the basement level and got autographs from Trevor Plouffe, Oswaldo Arcia, Alex Meyer, Logan Darnell, and Tanner Vavra. Meyer signed the ball he threw to me at the Futures Game!
I went up to the Suite Level and got more autographs from Kurt Suzuki, Eduardo Escobar, Jorge Polanco, A.J. Atcher, and Treysen Vavra. Kurt Suzuki signed my All Star Game ball and inscribed, “2014 All Star,” after I asked him to.
I got in line to get a picture with Gene Larkin, Dan Gladden, and the 1991 World Series trophy. The pictures cost $5, but apparently there was a big hold up and they were doing them for free!
I wandered in to the Champions Club behind home plate where Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones were playing Fan Feud. After the first round was over, I saw people getting Torii’s autograph, so I did too! I was planning on paying $25 to get his autograph at an autograph table, but now I had him for free. I also got Jacque’s autograph after he was done playing, and a selfie with him and Torii! Jacque was supposed to sign with Torii at the signing booth, but now I got both for free.
I wasn’t planning on it, but I ended getting in the super short line with Paul for an autograph from Nick Gordon (brother of Dee), Casey Fien, Mark Hamburger, and Nate Hanson. They lowered the price from $15 to $5 because Ricky Nolasco wasn’t there like he was supposed to be. I went through the line twice with Paul, and Mateo Fischer joined us the second time around.
I then went back to the Suite Level to get autographs from Glen Perkins, Tommy Milone, Aaron Hicks, Eric Fryer, and Mike Kvasnicka. I got Perkins on my All Star ball too.
The next and final autographs I wanted were from Byron Buxton, and Bert Blyleven. After seeing how long the line was earlier in the day, I thought my chances were slim. But after checking it out again, I saw that I had a chance. I hopped in line, and 40 minutes later, I had myself a Buxton signed ball, and a Blyleven signed card!
At the end of the day, I was sitting by the radio booth all alone with my friends, (except for the guy cleaning it) when I met back up with Paul and Mateo. Before TwinsFest, it had been 6 months since I’d seen Mateo, and 4 since I’d seen Paul. We all got a picture together, and then headed our separate ways.
I went back down to the Champions Club where Jacque Jones was standing around. The selfie that I got earlier turned out bad, so I got a better one.
If you would like to see the autographs I got over the course of the day, please watch this video:
I know I said I wouldn’t be posting until January, but that was a lie. I am posting something. Haha.
I was bored so I made a highlight video for Oswaldo Arcia. It does not include all of his highlights, but just some random ones I found on YouTube. I wish I could have put a clip of him hitting the Minnesota and Met Stadium flagpoles, but those videos were not on YouTube, which is the only place I can download videos from. The song in the video is called Black Widow.
By the way, could someone please tell me how to add a sidebar with links on this page? Like, I want to add a blogroll sort of thing, or a place where I can categorize my posts. If anyone would like to help, that would be great.
Let me just say this first.
That word pretty much sums up my entire season. My AWESOME season. It truly was (for me, at least).
I went to 11 MLB games at 3 different ballparks, and I snagged a total of 31 Major League Baseballs, with an average of 2.81 balls per game. Yeah, yeah. I am not putting up big numbers, but let me remind you that this was only my second season ballhawking! And last year, I was clueless about this stuff, and I was more in to graphing (getting players autographs). Last year, I ballhawked at 4 games, and got 1 baseball. That is an average of 0.25 balls per game! I improved a lot! And just to show you how much I improved, get this: When I had gone to 4 games in 2013, I had snagged 1 ball. When I had gone to 4 games in 2014, I had snagged 10 balls! I really don’t know what I did differently. I am just really happy about this. I also had a decent season graphing. I got 19 autographs and I did graph at every game. My rules for graphing are different from ballhawking. If I get an autograph from any kind of celebrity, even if someone else gives it to me, it counts. My autograph average is 1.73 autographs per game. Now lets give out awards!
The awards given out will be for:
1. Favorite Stadium
2. Favorite Game
3. Least Favorite Game
4. Favorite Autograph
5. Favorite Ball
6. Best Catch
7. Dirtiest Ball
8. Easiest Ball
9. Craziest Moment
10. Favorite Moment
Okay! The first award is for favorite stadium. In this 2014 season, I went to Target Field, Miller Park, and Wrigley Field. Since I am used to Target Field and go there a lot, that can be ruled out. Miller Park was HUGE. The stadium looked amazing. The only problems were all of the drunk fans and the size of the stadium. Almost every fan I saw there was drunk. These two super drunk guys wouldn’t let me by the umpire tunnel because I didn’t have seats there. They are one of the reasons I got shutout there! One guy even puked in the parking lot. And then there’s the concourses. Ohhhhh, boy. My legs at the end of the night were in lots of pain because they are so weird and big which took me a long time to get to different places. Otherwise, I loved the stadium. I think the architecture of it is great! I would love to go back there and see BP (which I didn’t last time because the Dodgers were taking infield practice) and meet the regulars there. I had fun standing in the cross aisle behind home plate and moving around for foul balls. None came up while I was there, but it was still a great experience. I also like how the outfielders chuck their warm-up balls into the crowd. That would be nice if the Twins did that. I tried to get one, but I did not succeed. The other candidate for this award is Wrigley Field. Being at Wrigley was an absolutely amazing experience. From the Ivy walls, to the Steve Bartman seat, and the place where the called shot landed, it was an amazing ballpark. The concourses were all old-timey and stuff. And I thought it was funny how far back the seats in foul territory went. The stadium was also really small, which was a relief after going to Miller Park. In fact, it was so small that I saw foul balls leave the stadium! I knew that homers often cleared the bleachers, but I didn’t know foul balls would roll off the roof on the side of the stadium. So yeah, Miller was ok, and Wrigley was awesome. The winner is:
The award for number 2 is for favorite game. This one is very easy, and does not need a ton of detail. At this game, I broke my record and snagged 7 balls, 3 of which were autographed, I got a toss up from one of my favorite players, Oswaldo Arcia, I got to meet a ballhawk named Alex, I saw my definite favorite player, Trevor Plouffe, get a walkoff hit in the first row behind the dugout, I met Jack Morris and got his autograph after the game, and I spent the whole night my Paul K from A Piece Of The Game. Can you guess which one this was?
It was a very fun game, and it was my last of the season.
The award for number three is for least favorite game. There is the Futures Game, 6/19/14 Twins vs White Sox, and the game at Miller Park. The Futures Game is a candidate because there was 2 games, I was stuck in my seat the whole time, I didn’t know who any of the Minor League players were, and I could only ballhawk in batting practice. But, I snagged 3 commemorative baseballs, one of which was thrown by Twins prospect Alex Meyer (Okay fine, I know SOME of the prospects), Tony Voda and Paul were there, and I got to talk to them for a little bit, and Mateo Fischer was there too, but we only talked for about 5 seconds (literally), I saw Jim Thome and other celebrities play softball, including Charlie McDermott from one of my favorite shows, The Middle. My brother even got me his autograph! The Futures Game is ruled out. 6/19/14 at Target Field sucked. Kind of. There was rain. How much? Enough to cause a 2 hour and 5 minute delay! I did get to meet Tony Voda for the first time there, and I got to meet Paul again for the second time. The best part though, was when Brian Dozier saved my streak during the game by giving me a foul ball from Jose Abreu! That rules out that game, so my least favorite game was:
8/8/14 at Miller Park.
Blech. I don’t like thinking about that game. Whatever.
The award for number four is favorite autograph. This is a no-brainer. The award goes to Charlie McDermott’s autograph on a All-Star Sunday program. Why was this a no-brainer? All my autographs were from baseball players, but the McDermott autograph is my only one from a celebrity who is on TV. I did not get this autograph on my own though. My brother got it for me when he sneaked into the dugout box (they wouldn’t let anyone in for some reason) where McDermott had climbed over the dugout and in to the seats to sign for fans.
The award for number 5 is favorite ball. First off, I snagged 3 different commemorative baseballs, and I got 4 gamers. That rules out every other ball that isn’t a gamer or a commemorative. So we have, an Opening Series Australia ball, a Futures Game ball, a Wrigley Field 100th Year ball, a Joe Mauer foul ball, a Jose Abreu foul ball, a Jacoby Ellsbury foul ball, and an Oswaldo Arcia foul ball. The Futures Game ball was from a minor league player, and Joe Mauer sucks, so those are ruled out. Jacoby Ellsbury is good, but Jose Abreu won Rookie of the Year in the year I got his foul ball, so the Ellsbury foul ball is also ruled out. So what do we have left? Let’s see, there’s the Abreu ball, The Australia ball, and the Wrigley ball. The Australia balls condition is not that good, whereas the Wrigley ball is, so bye bye Australia ball. That brings it down to the Wrigley ball and the Abreu ball. I like both of them, so this one will have to be…
The next award is for best catch. I did not really make any good catches this year, but the best two were my leaping/reaching catch on a Matt Thornton toss up, and my no look catch after the ball went above my head on my Oswaldo Arcia toss up. I would have to say the Thornton toss up was a bit harder to catch, so that one is the winner.
Next award. Number 7: Dirtiest Ball. I got some pretty dirty baseballs, but the dirtiest ones were the Yankees infield warm-up ball, and a ball a camera guy flung in the air towards me. After inspecting each ball carefully, I came to the conclusion the ball from the camera man is the dirtiest. Here is how dirty the ball is:
The 8th award is for the easiest ball. This one, just like my favorite autograph, is a no-brainer. It is the Oswaldo Arcia foul ball I got on 8/5/14 at Target Field.
How was it so easy? Well, here’s how I got it. Oswaldo ripped a foul ball down the line and I knew it would be scooped up by the ball boy. So, I stood up, walked down the stairs, asked politely for the ball, and received it. It was that easy.
Okay, it’s time for the 9th award, and I have decided to share the story of how I got Jerome Williams glove. I did an entry on getting it, but I put no detail at all because I didn’t want to talk about it. Here it is: I was by Ben in foul territory, and he was waiting for a player to be done playing catch so he could ask for the ball. I helped Ben identify the player as Jerome Williams. He asked Jerome for the ball, and in a funny I-am-better-than-you-stupid-peasant voice, he jokingly said no. Jerome then asked Ben if he wanted to play catch. They started playing catch, and I stood off to the side watching. I kinda- sorta flapped my glove as if to say, “Throw it here!” but I didn’t even think he saw me. It looked like he was going to throw it back to Ben, but he threw it to me! All the shock and realization that a ball was speeding towards my head made me freeze up, and I got my glove up at the last second when BAM. It hit me really hard just above the eye. I am not exaggerating, but it was one of the worst pains I’ve felt. It even left a cut and bruise. There is still a little mark next to my eye. Jerome ran over to see if I was okay, which I wasn’t. It hurt REALLY bad. He picked up the ball and handed it to me. A foolish and embarrassing way to snag my second ball of the day. A medic came down and took me up the stairs, where he gave me an ice pack. I found out that the medic works at my local fire station and when I told him where my house was he knew exactly where it was. And when the fire department came to my house because there was smoke everywhere, the medic was there! Back to the story now. As I was sitting down with the medic. Jerome waved me down to the field. When I got down to him, he apologized, took off his glove, and handed it to me. He gave me a GLOVE!!! No it wasn’t pink like his usually is, but who cares! I got a major league baseball players glove!
Here is the ball he gave me:
And here is the ball inside the glove:
And here is the glove inside the ball- Nah, I don’t think that’s possible.
And now, for the very final award, number 10, my favorite moment. There is two candidates for this award. 9/19/14 at Target Field, and 8/5/14 at Target Field. On 9/19/14, I won three autographed baseballs and an All-Star game hat. On 8/5/14, I got to see and hold Kennys Vargas’ first major league home run, which was caught on the fly by Tony Voda. These are both great memories, but only one will come out on top…
The winner of number 10, best moment, is…
SEEING AND HOLDING KENNYS VARGAS’ FIRST MAJOR LEAGUE HOME RUN!!!!!!!!!!
*fans cheer loudly in background*
*people watching TV at home clap*
*roberto calls parents to tell them who won because they don’t have cable- wait, what?*
Congratulations to all award winners! Your prize is absolutely nothing!
I don’t usually do thank yous, but I am going to do them now:
- My Parents- Thank you for taking me to games and sitting in your seat for 5 hours.
- The players- Thank you for throwing me baseballs and signing autographs.
- The nice ushers- Thank you for…uh…being nice and letting me in your sections.
- Paul K- Thanks for running around and hanging out with me that one night.
- Tony Voda- Thank you for just being cool and letting me see the homer ball.
- Mateo Fischer- I don’t know if I should give you a thank you because I only saw you once for a little bit, but it was funny when you walked up to me spray painted blue and you said, “Well, hello there!” in a high pitched voice.
- Ballhawk that will remain nameless- I don’t know if you want your name on here, but thanks for talking to me before the game online so we could meet up during the game
- Funny people in Section 104- Every time I sit in 104 I meet new and funny people. Thanks for making the games fun.
- The medic- Thanks for giving me an ice pack and coming to my house when smoke covered it.
- Jerome Williams- Thank you for the glove. It’s so awesome!
This might be my last blog entry until the end of January, so thank you for reading this. I hope I can gain more popularity over the off season.
Here is my 2014 ballhawking recap in video form:
I got off the bus from school, and Ben told me he had texted my mom about going to the 7:10 Twins game. I didn’t really want to go because I hated going to Twins games on last minute decisions, but I would only be going to one more game anyways, and, Paul, a Target Field ballhawk (also a friend of mine) would be there. There would also be another ballhawk there who I would be meeting too. His name is Alex, and we talked on one of the many social media sites in this world. Ben’s friends Noah and Andrew came over to my house so they could come to the game too.
I quickly printed out rosters, got things for players to sign, got shirts, got hats, other things I needed, took all of my school stuff out of my backpack, and shoved it all in there. My mom came home from work, so we all hopped in the car and waited for her to get ready. It took her about 2 minutes, but it felt more like an hour. I wanted to be at the stadium waiting in line at Gate 34! She finally got in the car, and we drove off. I knew I would be at least 20 minutes late to the gate opening, but I realized that it wouldn’t matter because I usually go to games when the stadium opens 1 hour and 30 minutes early, but at this game, the gates opened 2 hours early, so I would still be getting there 20 minutes earlier than usual. I was hoping I would actually be able to see the Twins taking BP for the first time.
The Minneapolis skyline came in to view:
Target Field eventually did too:
We got in to the parking ramp, and my mom helped us save time by dropping us off in the ramp so we could take the elevator to the Plaza. We walked through the double doors, and entered the Target Field Plaza.
We then ran to the ticket booths to buy tickets on our own, and then we entered the stadium, 10 minutes earlier than expected.
I was not planning on seeing Twins BP, so I had my away team stuff on (it wasn’t real Indians gear, just a red shirt and my baseball teams hat). I ran through the part of the Plaza that’s in the stadium, and looked at the field to see who was taking BP. It just so happened that the Twins were still on the field, so I threw on my retro Harmon Killebrew t-shirt and my orange Twins hunting cap, and started walking to the Powerball Pavillion in right-center, which was less than 20 feet away. Right as I started making my way over there, I saw the most famous ballhawk at Target Field, Waldo. He was charging right at me, so I stepped out of the way. I then realized he was looking up at the sky, which meant there was a ball coming. I whipped around, and saw a ball about to land in the Plaza. I was too far away to get it, so I stayed back and watched. I saw someone run up in front of the ball, and then leap HIGH in the air, making the catch. I thought, “That was so cool! That was the best catch I’ve ever seen!”, and then, I looked at who caught the ball. Want to know who made the insane catch? Paul. I congratulated him on the great catch, and then went in the Pavilion where Andrew was.
We spread out, so there wouldn’t be any competition. Lucky for us, the batter was a lefty, which meant he would be hitting balls to Oswaldo Arcia, who is always patrolling right field (and will throw you any ball as long as you ask). Oswaldo fielded a ball, Andrew and I called out for it, and he threw it kind of towards me (but it was for me). Andrew, who obviously doesn’t know that you’re supposed to steal baseballs from other people (which he has done a few times), put his glove in front of mine and robbed me. Luckily for me, Oswaldo saw this, and he agreed to hook me up with the next one. A few pitches later, one was finally hit towards him, and he made an impressive full extension stop. I called out to him, but he was already in mid-throw. Keeping his promise, he hesitated, turned around, took a running start, and underhanded the ball all the way up to the Pavilion. And now, I was on the board less then two minutes after entering the stadium!
Ben and Noah had both gotten a ball from Arcia too and Paul also did earlier before the catch, so all of us got toss-ups from him to get on the board! Gracias Oswaldo!
Twins BP ended shortly after, so I made my way to the left field bleachers. I then got to meet Alex for the first time. He is a nice guy, who’s snagged about 50 balls. I asked how many balls he was at for the day, and his response was 2. He is usually in the left-center field corner spot shouting at the players and catching the occasional ground rule double. After meeting Alex, I noticed that some Indians were throwing along the foul line. I went over there, and positioned myself a few rows back.
I was trying to get a ball from one of these 2 Indians playing catch:
At one point, it seemed as if they were done throwing, so I asked for the ball, but I forgot to say please. Some woman sitting down started badgering me to wait until they were done and to say please. The same thing happened again, and she looked annoyed. She told me the same thing again. Geez, it was a mistake woman! I heard you the first time. You don’t need to get mad about it. I didn’t get the ball anyways though.
I really don’t remember where he came from, but all I know is that a player (later identified as pitcher Carlos Carrasco) was walking toward a group of pitchers talking in the left field corner, and he had a ball in his hand. I was in the same spot as before, and I asked him for the ball. He put his arm up to throw the ball, and then he put it down. I don’t know what he was doing. Was he tricking me? Probably not. He put his arm back up and actually threw the ball this time, for my second of the day, and it was really beat up.
(Carrasco is the second from the left. He was not standing there when he threw it. I just wanted him in the shot)
After getting this ball, I stood behind some other Indians throwing. I then quickly dissed this idea because:
1. They might have seen me get that ball
2. I wanted to go in the bleachers to catch a homer on the fly
I made my way to the bleachers where Andrew and Noah were, but not Ben. He stayed in right field. Andrew was at 2: The Arcia ball and a ball from a grounds crew guy. Noah was only at 1: The Arcia ball, but that would soon change. An Indian hit a ball that was coming near me, but I knew that I wouldn’t get it. I realized it was heading towards Noah, so I thought he could catch it. I turned towards Noah, just in time to see him catch it on the fly. That was his second catch ever. His first was a Kyle Seager homer in right field at the All-Star Game.
I tried to catch a homer like Noah did, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Paul even gave me tips, but I still didn’t get one. Hopefully, next season will be the one. Like they said, “Third times a charm!”.
When BP ended, I made my way to the dugout with everyone else, including Paul. I saw a player talking to someone who was probably a friend of his, so I went over to him to try to get an autograph. It ended up costing me a baseball. I was waiting for him to be done talking to the guy, when I turned towards the dugout and saw Ben, Noah, and Andrew snag their third balls of the day from a player with the box of baseballs that was used in BP. Oh well, at least I would out snag them later on. I got the player to sign my ball. I looked at the number on the signature and matched it up on the roster, and the guys name is Zach Walters.
(Does anyone want to buy or trade something for a Zach Walters signed Official League (not the MLB kind, the cheaper ones) ball that is signed on the horseshoe? I’ll sell it for $10 but I might do a little less. If you are interested, leave a comment below.)
I was hanging out and talking with Paul when a coach and a players son came out to the foul line to play catch and throw pop fly’s. I didn’t expect to get the ball they were using, but I positioned myself three or four rows back anyway. When they finished playing catch, the coach- well, why don’t you see for yourself:
(All credit goes to Paul K)
If the video didn’t work, it was the coach throwing me the ball, me catching it, me noticing the Paul is filming, me smiling and walking up towards him, me putting the ball to the screen, me telling the other guys, Paul saying he doesn’t know who the coach is, me saying it is not Terry Francona like I thought it was, and Paul saying he agrees with that. Here is my third ball of the day, tossed by an unidentified coach who was later identified as Matt Quatraro:
I sat down with Paul and we both labeled our baseballs. Then he told me to come with him to center field. When we got there, we stopped at far side of the bullpen (the side the pitcher is on). He told me that the Twins were having their annual “Fan Appreciation Weekend”. I knew what that was because I had read his entry on Fan Appreciation Weekend from 2013. The players always throw a signed tee ball in to the crowd, so we planned on trying to get one. The Twins either didn’t do it this year, or we missed it. Oh, well. There was more exciting stuff during the game. After the top of every inning (and a few times before the game), the Twins would announce on Twitter a place in the stadium where you could show the tweet and win a special item. They were mainly signed balls. The other prizes were stuff like things from the team store or ticket upgrades. Paul was once again giving me pointers, but this time it was on how to win the giveaways. He had found out a pattern last year, so he told me what it was later on. When it was finally time for the first giveaway to be announced, we were both ready and excited. I don’t really remembered what happened, but neither of us got it. The giveaway was a 4 ticket upgrade.
Paul and I were still on the 200 level trying to predict where the next one would be, when this tweet was sent out:
We raced to the Digital Clubhouse, and we got our 2014 All-Star Game hats!!!
I am really happy I got this hat. I wear it all of the time!
I took a picture with Paul so we could show off our hats:
After we took this picture, he insisted that we take a “cool” picture. Here’s how it turned out:
The coolest people around. Don’t you agree?
The game was going to start, which meant they would start giving out autographs! Unfortunately, the first 2 were claimed by others before we got to them. Right after the second one, a bonus giveaway was sent out:
I didn’t know about this tweet being sent out, so I just followed Paul after he yelled, “Digital Clubhouse! Let’s go this way!”. I checked Twitter and showed the tweet to the Twins rep, and they handed me a P.J. Walters signed ball!
Paul was not sure who his was signed by, but I quickly identified it for him as Vance Worley.
I am going to count these balls. They are major league balls, they were given to me by stadium employees and not fans, they got them directly from the team and not from the booth that sells balls, and they were obviously used by major leaguers. This ball was my fourth of the day. Since Paul and I both won again, we got another picture.
After every inning, there was debating about where we would go for the next one. We failed to get one in the 3rd inning.
We went to the Plaza often to try to snag home runs, but the closest we got to one was a Danny Santana foul ball that was about 10 feet from being fair. I found that part of the game on TV, and I could see myself along with Paul running through the Plaza.
I had suggested going to the 2 Gingers Pub on the 200 level behind home plate for the 4th inning because that had been a location last year, so we went over there. When the Twins recorded the third out of the inning, this tweet was sent out:
If remember, which I am sure you do, WE were at the 2 Gingers Pub! The tweet showed up first on Paul’s phone, so he shouted at me that it was here. After looking for the Twins rep for about 5 seconds, I realized that they might be by the Target Field Organist. I checked the tweet, and confirmed that my suspicions were correct. Paul made the mistake of reading the tweet too quickly, so I told him it was next to the organist. I ran in to the pub, quickly spotted the rep with the ball, and showed him the tweet. He took the ball out of his pocket, and gave it to me! But it gets better! The ball was signed by former Twins pitcher Scott Erickson!
I love his signature. I got him to sign 2 cards for me at TwinsFest 2014, so I was glad to get one on a ball. Two girls about 20 years old came were outside the pub freaking out trying to find the rep, while I was in the process of putting it away. When I showed them that I had gotten the ball, they were so disappointed! It was hilarious! Because Paul and I both didn’t win things here, we didn’t take a picture. It would end up being like that the whole night. I then realized I was only 1 ball away from breaking my single game record of 5 balls in a game! I knew I would probably get a ball after the game, and there was still opportunities to win giveaways!
In the 5th inning, we saw Waldo almost catch a home run on the TV, but he slipped because there was a bit of rain earlier and he got out of position. The location for the next giveaway was Hrbek’s Bar. We were by Hrbek’s at the time, but another fan in Zubaz beat it to us. I had been texting Ben and Noah,telling them to do the contests with us, and they finally did. In the 6th inning, Paul predicted the spot correctly and won the giveaway under the giant Minnie and Paul (Haha) sign in center field. Andrew actually beat me to the sign, so if Paul wasn’t there Andrew would’ve got it. Once again, Paul couldn’t identify the signature, but I could. It was Kevin Correia. While we were up there, I took a panorama of the field:
In the 7th inning, I was planning on camping out at the mini donut stand right next to the Target Field Plaza, but I decided to go by the giant Pentair Water sign. Want to see where the location was?
UGGGGGGGGH!!! Paul won it and got an Alex Presly signed ball. I was happy for him, but I was angry about not staying there.
As the 8th inning rolled around, I went up to the 200 level because I predicted that the next giveaway spot would be at Tony O’s Cuban Stand. I couldn’t find it, so Paul helped me by asking an usher. After finding it, I had doubting that it would be there, so I stood in between the stand and the Twins gear shop 15 feet from it. I didn’t think that I would get it, but here’s what the tweet said:
I was right there!!! I looked for a Twins rep, but I couldn’t find anyone! All I saw was a couple of workers and a women standing by the stand. I showed some workers at the stand the tweet and asked if they knew anything about it, but before they could say anything, the women asked to see what was on my phone. That’s when I noticed a baseball sized ball in her pocket, and I realized that she was the rep! She took an Alex Presly signed ball out of her pocket and gave it to me! The record was officially broken! Ball number 6!
I pretty much HAD to take a selfie with it to commemorate the special event:
You may have noticed, but I am wearing my All-Star Game hat I won earlier in the game. Paul came running through the concourse, so I held up the ball to show him I had won. We were both happy. Ben, Noah, and Andrew, were not. So were two other Twins fans who got there too late.
After this, Paul and I went to the Plaza. He had said that he really wanted a Carlos Santana homer because he almost caught one last season but missed it. Waldo was out there too, and he told me- actually, I think it’s better if I keep this to myself. Let’s just say I know something a current or former Twin doesn’t. Ask me in person if you want to know.
The giveaway spot in the 9th inning was on the other side of the stadium, and we were both too tired to run for them anymore. So instead of going for the giveaway, Paul helped me relocate here:
It’s a nice view. Wouldn’t you agree?
I was there for about half a minute when I noticed that Ben was sitting across the aisle from me. He had gotten down here too with Noah. Meanwhile, Andrew was stuck behind the dugout box on the Twins side. The Twins scored a run, and the game was tied. I thought about how great it would be to see the Twins get a walk-off from these seats. The third out was recorded which meant extra innings. It was a strikeout so they came in the side I was on, but I did not get the ball. When the Indians came out to hit, I got to see a player I’ve always wanted to see play: Jason Giambi. I was excited to see him bat up close.
Paul’s actual ticket was for the Twins dugout box, but that was for Section 2. Section 2 is at the outfield end of the dugout box, which was not where he wanted to be. He wanted to be in Section 6, the end of the dugout closest to home plate. I saw him talking to the usher there and he wouldn’t let him in. He then came back to where I was.
It was the bottom of the 9th and the Twins were in a walk-off situation. Since the game was most likely about to end, I told Noah, Ben and Paul that we should get in position for an umpire ball. Noah and Paul came with me, while Ben stayed for a chance to get the walk-off ball (if there was one). We grabbed empty seats on the aisle, with me being closest to the field. I noticed Fox Sports North reporter Kevin Gorg in the camera well. Our neighbors and Ben’s two of Ben’s baseball teammates (who were on the field as people who picked up the balls at the HRD) mom is friends with Gorg. I got his attention and asked if he knew my neighbor (I used her name while talking to him, I’m just not putting it here) and he said he did. He asked how I knew her and I told him. He said, “You have a pretty good neighbor. Tell her I say hi.”. That was pretty cool.
Back to the walk-off situation. Danny Santana is on third, and my favorite player, Trevor Plouffe comes up to bat. I have seen a Plouffe walk-off before on game 162 in 2011 (before I ballhawked), and I would love to see another. This happened:
Plouffe did it again!!! Woohoo!!! I got out my seat and went to the umpire tunnel which was less than 2 feet away. Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth gave his first ball to a kid in the Champions Club, his second to Noah, and then stopped when he got to Paul. He said he didn’t have a ball for him, but he could give him the lineup cards. Something was wrong with this though. Mr. Culbreth still had one more ball in his pouch. I realized that he was going to give his final ball to me because I was younger, and give Paul the lineup cards so he wasn’t left out. And that’s exactly what happened.
Ball number 7 of the day. That was my first time going for an umpire ball and I was glad I got one. I made my way over to the far entrance to the dugout where the bullpen was walking in. They didn’t throw any balls to us, because there was a bunch of kids next to the far camera well trying to get a ball. Ben also did not succeed at getting the walk-off, because I think it was given to the same kids. We tried to get balls from Mario, the visiting team bat boy, but he threw them to the opposite end of the dugout that we were on. He even threw some batting gloves too. Right as Paul was leaving, he waved goodbye. But then I remembered I had some unfinished business to do. Have you seen this photo from 6/19/14?
Everyone was all up close to each other, while I was separated from them like, “I don’t know any of these people”. I had told Paul that I looked strange in that picture because of the reason above, so I had to take a good one before I left. Here it is:
And with that, my season was over.
I noticed that Jack Morris (if you don’t know who this is your life must be sad) was doing the Fox Sports North live postgame show, so I went across the stadium to where he was to possibly get his autograph on a baseball card when he was done (Tip for Target Field autograph seekers: Go to Gate 6 in left field when the game ends. The FSN postgame show will be there and one of the guys doing the show will either be Jack Morris, Roy Smalley, or Tim Laudner. Sometimes you might get lucky and Tom Kelly will be there. The will ALWAYS sign autographs when they are done.).
(Morris is on the left)
After waiting for about 15 minutes, the show ended and Morris signed my card. It turned out really nice.
It was time to leave the stadium for the last time in 2014. It was hard to say goodbye, but I still had a great night. I want to thank all the players who helped contribute to my baseball and autograph collection. They made it worth going out in the heat and rain, and all the pain in my legs. My parents also deserve a very big thank you. They made all of this possible. They spent 5 hours watching baseball while there son was running around the stadium without them. But the biggest thank you of all goes to my friends from the stadium. Paul, Tony Voda and 1/2 Mateo Fischer (I say that because I only saw you once, but you were pretty funny), Alex, the usher in Section 12 named Jen K, and the other fun people I’ve talked to in my favorite section, Section 104. So this goes out to all of you:
THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT SEASON!!!
I improved so much. I went from a 4 game 1 ball season (0.25 balls per game), to a 11 game 31 ball season (2.81 average). I only got shutout at 1 game, which was at Miller Park. That means I didn’t get shutout at my home stadium! The closest I got to getting shutout was on 6/19/14. I only got 1 ball, and that was a Rookie of the Year award winner Jose Abreu foul ball given to me by Home Run Derby participant Brian Dozier! Want to hear a funny fact? In 2013, I snagged 1 ball in 4 games, and when I had gone to 4 games in 2014, I was at 10 balls! That my friends is called improvement.I am making this too long, so let me finish it here.
This season was great, and I had so much fun ballhawking. I hope you enjoyed reading about my ballhawking adventures.
The adventures of the Life of a Baseball Snagger.
Balls at this game: 7 (New record! Oswaldo Arcia, Carlos Carrasco, Matt Quatraro, Twins Rep, Twins Rep, Twins Rep, Fieldin Culbreth)
Autographs at this game: 5 (Zach Walters, P.J. Walters, Scott Erickson, Alex Presly, Jack Morris)
Balls this season: 31 in 11 games (2.81 per game)
Autographs this season: 18 in 11 games (1.63 per game)
If you’re still reading, look who I met at an autograph signing the next day!
That would be Kennys Vargas and Danny Santana!!!
I don’t have many pictures because they are all on my old phone which I forgot the pass code to. I am not too happy about it. Enjoy the entry.
I was going to Wrigley Field!!! WRIGLEY FIELD!!! I was so unbelievably excited about this from the second I was told I was going. Wrigley Field was my favorite ballpark, and I was finally going to see it. There is so much history and greatness to Wrigley Field, like The Great Bambino’s Called Shot, the Steve Bartman play (not that great for Cubs fans), the rooftop seats, the Ivy, and so much more! There was one thing that made me nervous though. The baseballs the Cubs were using. They were commemorative. Not just any commemorative, it was a Wrigley Field 100th year commemorative. You’ve got to have a pretty good stadium to keep it that long. I was nervous that if I snagged one, the logo wouldn’t be good. Actually, good wasn’t enough for me. I wanted PERFECT. Yeah, that does sound greedy, but c’mon, they were Wrigley Field commemoratives!!! These are what the logos looked like:
I had got shutout the previous day at Miller Park, which didn’t help me feel any more confident about this day. Well, I could just hope for the best.
I left from my hotel in Kenosha, which is about an hour away from Milwaukee, at about 10:30 AM. After driving for about 2 hours, Chicago came in to sight. I could only see the Willis Tower and some other really big building though. We kept on driving, and we got to Wrigleyville (the neighborhood around Wrigley). I pictured what it would be like living in one of the houses there. I would be walking to Cubs games every week, and on the days I didn’t go to the games, I would stand out on Waveland or Sheffield waiting for home runs! That would be the life.
We finally arrived at Wrigley, and something caught my eye. The stadium looked different from the pictures I saw. That’s when I realized that it was like that because most of the pictures I had seen of Wrigley were from the 1900’s.
As we were walking to the stadium, we saw the famous unofficial mascot of the Cubs, “Billy Cub“. We got a picture with him, and gave him a dollar for his donation box.
We got in line for tickets, and when we got to the front of my line, we bought two bleacher tickets, and two seating bowl tickets. Why? You have to have a bleacher ticket to enter the bleachers. If you have a regular seating bowl ticket, you can only go in the seating bowl. If you have a bleacher ticket, you can go anywhere in the stadium. It was a good thing I had done my research on the stadium beforehand, because I wanted to go to the bleachers for BP.
We got our tickets and went to the bleacher entrance…
…where there was already a long-ish line. I got to see one of the greatest ballhawks of all time on Waveland Avenue, Dave Davison. He has snagged thousands of balls on Waveland over the years. It was fun to see all the ballhawks out there looking up in to the sky, waiting for a little ball to appear.
We waited in line for about 20 minutes, then the gates opened. They used mini baseballs bats to poke around my backpack to make sure I didn’t have anything bad in there, which I thought was a very great and creative idea.
When I got inside, I ran up some stairs and got to the bleachers. Lucky for me, the Cubs were taking BP. I walked down the aisle to the first row, and positioned myself behind a player I couldn’t identify (I can’t identify any of the Cubs, but I later found out the guy was Tsuyoshi Wada). The guy I was behind was throwing almost every ball in to the stands, so I knew I had a good chance of getting a ball. All I had to do was wait for the batter to hit one towards me and hope that the player threw the ball in to the crowd. After waiting for 5 minutes, the guy in the cage hit a grounder towards me. The player fielded it and turned around. He scanned the crowd for fans, and spotted me waving my arms high up in the air like crazy in the first row. “Hey, I think he’s looking at me”, I thought. As it turns out, he was, and he let the ball fly. I kept on thinking, “You better not drop this in the basket,” and thankfully, I didn’t. I had restarted the streak! As Hawk Harrelson would say, “You can put it on the boooooooooooard, YES!”. I was so relieved. But then, I remembered about the logo. I took the ball out of my glove and saw this:
Yes! The logo was flawless!
This was great!!! I had worried so much about getting a ball with a crappy logo, but now I didn’t have to! Here is the logo up close:
Never mind the little fading area in the middle that is barely noticeable, I got a great logo!
Cubs BP ended a few minutes later, but I had accomplished my goal. When the Rays came out, I headed out to the right field bleachers where some Rays pitchers were throwing, but I didn’t get anything from them. I feel like I should have got a ball from Grant Balfour because he threw lots of balls up, but it just wasn’t happening. Every ballhawk has an off day, and this just happened to be mine.
I kind of gave up on homers and just went for toss ups because almost no one was hitting them in to the stands. I felt kind of bad for the Waveland/Sheffield ballhawks because NO ONE hit anything outside of the park.
When BP ended I made my way over to the foul line where my mom and dad were sitting, and Ben decided he would sit there for the game so my mom came with me to the bleachers. (Tip for people with bleacher tickets at Wrigley Field: If you are going back to the bleachers from the seating bowl, have your ticket ready. They will need to scan it first before they let you go in.)
Chris Bosio came out before the game and threw a couple baseballs up, none of which came to me. And just like I said before, it wasn’t my day. My mom almost got one, but some guy snatched it before she could. Because of this, I gave her a ball (my third ball to be specific) when I got back to Minnesota.
I was glad I got to sit down and actually see Wrigley Field, which was a great looking ballpark. It was sad to think that it wouldn’t be like this next season. I took a panorama from the bleachers to capture the ballpark in it’s last good year.
One of the things I didn’t know about the stadium was that the bleachers were general admisson (you can sit wherever you want).
I went for the outfield warmup balls every inning from Chris Coghlan, but I did not succeed at that. It is probably because I am very short because I am still young. One of the most frustrating parts was when Coghlan was about to throw the ball up and I decided to leave the aisle I was on and go to a different aisle. What happens? Coghlan throws it to the aisle I was just on. Like I said, it just wasn’t my day. I went on the cross aisle behind the bleachers and looked at Waveland. There were only two ballhawks out there, Dave Davison and Moe Mullins. Moe Mullins is the greatest ballhawk of all time in my opinion. Hample may have snagged more, but Mullins has snagged many more gamers. His total is around 6,000 baseballs, and 100 or 200 somethin’ home runs. His greatest accomplishment is snagging FOUR home runs in a single game TWICE.
I started taking some pictures of the ballpark, like this:
Apparently you can sit on the roofs of the buildings on Waveland Avenue to watch the Cubs games. They call them the Wrigley Rooftops. Watch this video.
I also tried to get a picture with the camera focused on the ball, but it ended up focusing more on my wrist:
As the game got closer to its end, I made my way towards the Rays dugout because they were (probably) going to win, and I didn’t know where the umpire tunnel was. I couldn’t get in to the seats by the dugout, so I kept on moving closer and closer to the cross aisle. Since the game was going a little long, I moved in to the cross aisle. When the final out was recorded, I sprinted down to the dugout. I did not get any balls there, and I foolishly did not get an autograph from the star player of the game. I can’t remember who it was, but I know he did really good because they interviewed him after the game ended. This is the view from the oddly shaped dugout (look up a picture).
Like I have said many times before, it REALLY wasn’t my day.
I was by the dugout when I noticed my brother Ben picking dirt up off the field. I had him get some for me, so I could bring a piece of Wrigley with me when I went home. We got really lucky, because security noticed what Ben was doing and the started yelling at him, but he had already got the dirt!
I still had two more things I wanted to do at Wrigley Field. The first thing was to sit in the Steve Bartman seat and pretend that I interfered with a play. I have a picture, but it is on my brothers phone. It was funny because there was actually a line to sit in the famous seat. The other thing I wanted to do was try to get autographs from the Rays outside of the stadium by the players buses. When I got there, there was already a huge crowd. I was really far back in the crowd, so I decided I wouldn’t go for autographs and I would just take pictures instead. Here is Yunel Escobar with his wife:
Here is Chris Archer, the only person who signed, and of course, I was too far back in the crowd to get his autograph:
I eventually made it to the front of the crowd, but no one else signed. Everyone was waiting for Longo, but all he did was smile and nod to the fans. And as I’ve said so many times- well, I think you get the point.
I got one final picture before I left the ballpark:
After I took that final photo, my mom wanted to get a picture outside the front of the ballpark with the Wrigley Field sign in the background:
And with that, we left the stadium.
As I got in the car, I was sad that it was actually time to leave the stadium, because it’s my favorite one. I got my last look at the stadium, and said goodbye. I don’t have a good way to end this entry, so..
Balls as this game: 1 (Tsuyoshi Wada)
Autographs at this game: 0
I got shutout. I didn’t know much about Miller Park. I was new to it. There was no BP. it didn’t help that Ballhawk Shawn and Jacqui Reynolds were there. Too many drunk fans. Too many people. Two drunk 50 year old idiots who wouldn’t let me by the umpire tunnel because I didn’t have seats there. Rob Flippo’s favorite word is no. Stadium was 2457385689123890236493738912648935623947837 times bigger than Target Field. No foul balls to the foul ball cross aisle. Concourses were weird. It was still cool to see the stadium. Ushers sucked at their jobs LOL. I will succeed at you someday Miller Park.
Balls at this game: 0
Autographs at this game: 1 (Jamey Wright)
I knew I was going to this game very early in the season. Why? My brother Ben’s birthday was the day after this, and he wanted to go to a game. He brought along his friend Noah, his friend Andrew, and I. This would be Andrew’s first time ballhawking. Since it was Ben’s birthday, he said he wanted to get to the game super early so we could be the first ones in line. The gates opened at 5:30, and we left at 2:30. That may sound crazy, because we only live half an hour from the stadium, but it’s not what you think. We were going to go get pizza first at a local pizza place, which would still leave us with an hour before the gate opening.
We got in to the parking ramp at the stadium with lots of time to spare, so we walked around the Target Field Plaza. I got a photo by the Kirby Puckett statue as a part of the My Game Balls photo scavenger hunt.
The goal was to get a photo with a life-size statue of a Hall of Famer.
We walked up to Gate 34, the Plaza gate, which is also the only gate where you can snag balls at.
It just so happened the Twins were taking some early BP. It was not my decision, but the rest of the group wanted to stay at 34 to try to catch a BP bomb. I wasn’t sure about this at first, but I joined them anyways. We couldn’t see anything on the field, except for when the pitches were being thrown and when a player hit the ball. That made it tricky to snag anything. All we could do was spread out and wait for a little white speck to appear in the sky.
(Left to right: Noah, Andrew, Ben)
While all this was happening, my mom was out at the pizza place getting us some food. She came back, and we all ate on a patch of grass near Gate 34. 1987 World Series Champion Roy Smalley walked by, looking like the richest man in the world. As we were eating, we saw a ball get hit that was coming towards the Plaza. We all ran to try to get it, but it bounced off the gate. We got an employee to come over to retrieve the ball, but he couldn’t decided who to throw it to. He told us to move further away from the gate so he could throw it over. Now before I forget, none of us had our gloves on. Knowing I had no chance of out reaching them, I stayed back and watched. He chucked the ball over the gate, they all leaped, and Andrew caught it. Noah got his hands on the ball after Andrew did, and they started fighting over it. I ran up and told Noah to let Andrew have it because it would be his first ball. Andrew had actually snagged a foul ball at Miller Park, but Noah knew what I meant. He let go of the ball and let Andrew have it.
This is where they stood to catch the ball
We finished eating and went back to standing at the gate. BP stopped shortly after, so we started playing catch. A few minutes later, Tony Voda showed up at the gate. Not wanting to lose our spot, we all went up and different spots at the gate. My mom, Noah, Andrew, Ben and I all had spots first in line at the entrances to Gate 34.
Not too long later, after a couple of people showed up (including local ballhawk Dave Forstad), BP started again. About 10 minutes in to BP, I saw a ball appear in the air, and it was heading right towards me. I knew for sure it would land in the Plaza, and I knew it would reach the gates. It was just a matter of whether it would reach the outside part of the Plaza or if it would bounce off a metal bar. It bounced two or three times, then it bounced out of the gate. It went right past me, kept bouncing and hit off a wheelchair, where I got on my hands and knees and picked it up just before Dave Forstad did. And just like that, I had my first ball of the day BEFORE the gates opened.
I was really happy about it. I didn’t have to worry about getting shutout now!
You may have noticed that my glove is too small for me. I actually got a glove a size and a half bigger, but it wasn’t that broken in. I still brought it to the game, but I thought it would be easier to snag balls at the gate with my smaller glove that WAS broken in.
I got another photo for the My Game Balls scavenger hunt:
The goal for this one was to get a picture of yourself with a ball you snagged that day while the stadium name was somewhere in the background. The photo is too blurry to read the stadium name, but it is there on the limestone in the 200 level behind home plate.
When they let Tony and the other STH’ers in, they did it at Gate 34 instead of Gate 29. I thought it was kind of weird because it says they go in at Gate 29. Maybe they changed it.
It was almost 5:30, and the gates were about to open, when I found out I was in a line where they didn’t allow backpacks! That freaked me out because there was already a line behind me.
Ben and his friends had gotten in the line I was in too, so we were all in trouble. But then, I remembered my mom! She was still holding a spot for us in the front of the line at an entrance where they DO allow backpacks! We ran over to her, and we got to get our bags checked before they opened the gates, saving us a lot of time.
When the gates opened, I made a beeline for the Powerball Pavillion in right-center field, which are always the least crowded. I asked nicely for the first ball that one of the players fielded, and they threw it back in. “Okay,” I thought. “They’ll throw some up here. I’ll just wait until they do”. That did not happen. The group of pitchers did not throw ANYTHING up. Literally. I’m serious. None. Zero. Nothing. Nada. The only person I could blame was myself though. I shouldn’t have stayed in right-center. Here is the group of jerks:
I almost got the chance to catch my first BP homer on the fly. I was in the first row, when a player hit one about 3 feet to my left. I knew that it would be above my head, so I stuck my glove straight up in the air, and drifted to the left. As it was about to enter the seats, I leaped up. I felt the ball whiz past the tip of my glove, and then smack in to the second or third row. Some kid got the ball before me.
It was getting pretty boring in right-center, until something interesting happened. An unidentified Padre (I’ve now identified him as Abraham Alamonte) with a ball was walking back to the dugout, but he was stopped by all the kids screaming for the ball. He spent a lot of time choosing the kid that would be the recipient. It ended up being a tie between me and some younger kid with Twins gear on. I was really hoping he would throw it to me, but of course, he just HAD to throw it to the other kid. This is where it gets kind of funny. That kid bobbled to the kid to the right of him, and then that kid bobbled it to another kid, THAT kid bobbled it in to the kid next to me’s glove, where he dropped it in to the flower beds. Now, the ball was right by me in the flower beds. The only problem was that I couldn’t reach it over the fence. I hated the fact that a baseball was just sitting right in front of me, but I was unable to snag it. Then, I saw that there was a gap in the bottom of the fence that I could reach through and grab it. The kid next to me was really sad that he didn’t get it, which actually made me feel bad for him. I told him that if he moved out of the way so I could get the ball, I would give it to him. He moved out of the way, and I made my attempt to grab it. I couldn’t see how close my hand was to the ball, so I had to feel around for it. After moving my hand around for a while, I felt the ball. I picked it up, and luckily, it was just small enough to fit through the bottom of the fence. I immediately gave the ball to the kid, who was very happy about it. He went to show his parents, who said thank you to me multiple times. I don’t have a photo because I gave it to the kid. I had my new glove on for this ball.
Remember how I almost caught the homer on the fly earlier in BP? Well, I also missed out on one a second time. I was back in the first row, and the batter hit one directly at me. I stuck my glove out and started moving it towards the ball when the guy next to me sticks out his hands and make a bare handed catch RIGHT next to my glove.
When BP ended there were several balls in grassy patch in the batters eye, so I stood in the corner spot by it so I could try to get a toss up from a stadium employee. An employee came out and picked up the balls, but he said he wasn’t allowed to give them away.
I went over to the bullpen to see if I could get a toss up from Nate Dammann, but he wasn’t out yet.
The Long Haul Bombers were in town, and they decided to put on a show for Twins fans. I tried to catch some softballs, but I didn’t come away with any. I was really close to some of them though.
I went over to Section 104 for pregame warm-ups as usual, but the Twins didn’t bring baseballs out. I got Eduardo Escobar to sign my ticket from the game he got his walkoff hit, which was really awesome because I had wanted to get it signed for a long time.
I grabbed a spot on the aisle closet to the ballboy a few rows up so I could run down to him easily if he got a ball.
I was excited to see a new Twin make his debut at Target Field. He gotten his first major league hit a couple of days ago, and was still looking for his first home run. I had a strong feeling that he would do it tonight. His name? Kennys Vargas. He will be a BIG part of this entry.
The game was fun to watch because I got to see all the action on first base up close. That is one of the many reasons I sit in 104.
As I was sitting down on my aisle seat, I looked to see if there was any young kids in the first row of the dugout seats by the ballboy, because ballboys usually give the kids sitting there all of the baseballs. Luckily, all the people sitting there were older than me. I pictured how getting a foul ball here would play out:
- Player hits ball down the foul line
- I run down aisle towards ballboy
- Ballboy scoops it up
- Ballboy looks for young child in dugout box
- Ballboy finds no one
- I request for the ball
- Ballboy turns around
- Ballboy gives me ball
Less than 5 minutes later when Oswaldo Arcia came up to bat, this happened:
- Player hits ball down the foul line
- I run down aisle towards ballboy
- Ballboy scoops it up
- Ballboy looks for young child in dugout box
- Ballboy finds no one
- I request for the ball
- Ballboy turns around
- Ballboy gives me ball
And now, I had snagged my 4th gamer of the year. A foul ball by Oswaldo Arcia, one of my favorite players.
(This is my new glove I talked about)
Getting his foul ball was the easiest ball I’ve ever snagged. I just stood up, walked down the aisle, asked for the ball, and got it. Just like the time I got the Jose Abreu foul ball from Brian Dozier in the EXACT SAME SPOT, I sent a text to Ben and he said he saw it happen.
When T.C. Bear came out with his t-shirt cannon, I got another picture for the scavenger hunt:
The goal was for me to take a picture of myself while a t-shirt was being launched in to the stands in the background. I also tried to catch a t-shirt, but did not succeed. (Hint: stand on the aisle between 104 and 105, about 20 rows up. Try to be by an empty row in 104.) I also tried and failed to get another picture for the scavenger hunt. I was supposed to take a picture of myself high fiving a mascot, but I just took a normal picture with them. Oops.
WOW. I look really different and weird in this picture. You’ll see a better one of me below. Before I left, I saw people asking T.C. for a “card”. I had know idea what that meant, until he pulled out a tiny signed picture and gave it to a kid. I thought, “What the heck!”, and asked him for one. Why not? He’s just giving them out.
Since there was no chance to get another ball from the ballboy, and Ben and his friends were by the ballboy on the third base side, I headed out to the Target Field Plaza, where I was met by Tony, who was resting up against the old Met Stadium flagpole. I got a photo with him for the My Game Balls photo scavenger hunt:
The task was to take a picture with an official My Game Balls verifier, who happened to be Tony!
Tony and I were both hoping to get our hands on Kennys Vargas’ first home run. We talked about what we would ask for from Vargas when we would trade him them ball. Tony said he would ask for a game used bat. I got Ben, Noah and Andrew to come out to the Plaza and meet Tony for the first time. We all had fun hanging out and talking about baseball and ballhawking related things. After spending lots of time in the Plaza, I decided to wander over to the bullpen in left center field. During the five minutes I was there, Vargas came up to bat, which I was unaware of. That’s when I heard the crowd scream the loudest I’ve ever heard. I looked at the field, and rounding second base, was Vargas. He hit his first home run! Then I thought, “Hey, let’s look at the TV to see where it landed and the lucky fan who got the ball”.
I was not expecting to see this when I looked at the TV:
Tony had caught the Vargas homer!!!
I told my brother and his friends who were right by me, and took off for the Plaza. I believe it was the fastest I ever ran.
After pushing through the crowd of people who all wanted to see the ball, I got to Tony.
I asked to hold the ball, and he let me.
It was so cool to hold the actual home run ball! I know this is really late, but congrats Tony on catching the homer, making it the first for two people. This may sound weird, but Tony gave me some candy from the Champions club earlier in the game when we were by the flagpole (root beer barrels to be exact). I have ate and shared all but one piece, which is still in the box it came in, sitting in my room. I am keeping it as some sort of very strange souvenir, from the man who caught the Kennys Vargas home run on the fly. Yes, I am very weird.
And while I’m at it, I might as well link the video in here:
Great catch, Tony.
Ben and his friends eventually wandered over to see Tony. Less than a minute later, he was surrounded by security. A woman came out who worked for the Twins and negotiated a deal with him. And like he had said earlier, he wanted a game used bat. She then got the ball from Tony, and he watched as his prized possession was taken away (sorry about that Tony). When the woman came back a few minutes later, she had a signed and game used bat in her hand. It was really cool to see the bat up close.
Tony told me he was going to go back to his seat, but we arranged to meet up after the game by the winning teams dugout.
The Twins had the lead, so I got a seat above their dugout box with Andrew when it got close to the end of the game. Ben and Noah were by the other dugout. I actually saw Ben sneak in to the dugout box and get a third out ball from Yonder Alonso.
When the Twins won 3-1, and the Vargas’ homer became the game winner, I sprinted in to the dugout box on the home plate side and my final ball of the day from the Twins second bullpen catcher, Ben Richardson. Andrew got one from Richardson and from Gardy too, leaving him with 5 on his first time ballhawking! He then went on to say that he would probably get 5 every game, but I knew that he just got lucky this one time. I have a picture of the Richardson ball, but it is on my old phone which I have now forgotten the passcode too. Oops. You’ll have to settle by seeing it at the end of the entry when I show the haul. I talked to Tony for a bit, who got a signed ball from Vargas, and the lineup cards too. Ben got a ball from Mario after the game, but I didn’t even bother going over to where he was because my legs were feeling extra evil today and they just decided to shutdown.
This was a GREAT night, and I was kind of sad it had to end.
Balls at this game: 4 (3 pictured here because I gave one away) (Unknown Twin, Abraham Alamonte, Oswaldo Arcia/Ballboy, Ben Richardson)
Autographs at this game: 2 (Eduardo Escobar, T.C. Bear)
- Ben: 7 balls
- Andrew: 5 balls
- Nate: 4 balls
- Noah: 2 balls