Category: Boston Red Sox

7/24/13 at Fenway Park (TB @ BOS)

I’m sure as you all know, you’ve seen Natalie before. Well, her sister’s birthday was a few weeks prior, and since she’s a big Boston Red Sox fan and has never been to Boston, we decided to take her to Fenway for her birthday.

Aren’t we nice?

Everything was good until we hit Boston traffic: Image Which was, well.. it sucked. Eventually though, we checked into our terrible hotel and got to Fenway: Image Nevermind the guy doing the vogue photo shoot. If you’ve never been to Fenway before, you can start here, on Van Ness Street. If you walk a little closer, you find the honorary statue of  Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, and Dom DiMaggio: Image If you go further down Van Ness, you come around to Yawkey Way, one of the most famous streets in sports: Image I distinctly remember there being a foul sulfur smelling odor coming from somewhere nearby. A Red Sox employee told me that it must be a neighboring building draining sewage.

Alright then.

I’ll give the Red Sox credit for a few things. I love Fenway Park, for one. The history, the tradition, not tearing it down to build a corporate empire… ahem… and keeping it feeling like a ballpark. For example, during pregame, this whole area: Image gets blocked off once the gates are about to open and it’s basically a street festival atmosphere. And also you can enter all the team stores and restaurants freely as long as you stay inside the fenced in area. You won’t see that in New York.

Anyway, did you know Fenway Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places? Image

Now you do. Once we made the usual lap around the park, we lined up for BP. If you go to Fenway Park, you can sign up to become a member of “Red Sox Nation”, which enables you to enter the park an entire hour before the rest of the seating bowl opens. You are restricted to the Green Monster, center field, and right field until an hour has passed. It’s worth $15, and I think it’s worth the money, mainly because you get to bring in a guest with you for free. You line up at Gate C on Landsdowne Street: Image and you also get one of these lovely no-tear wristbands: Image

Now, hang on a second. Take a closer look at the photo before the wristband picture. Did you see anything funny? Out of the ordinary? Recognize anyone? Take a closer look: Image It’s none other than Mike Davison, who was at the Helicopter Drop only a few weeks prior! How weird. Not that weird though, since Fenway is his “home park.” But weird in a sense that he was on line photo-bombing my picture at that moment… I think you get the idea. And of course, Jenna (Natalie’s sister) and I were excited: Image Enjoy the glimpse of me in a Sox shirt, it doesn’t happen often. About 20 more minutes had passed maybe, and our bags were checked and I ran inside, and up the Green Monster staircase: Image Around those two guys (who were walking INCREDIBLY slow) … up another stiarcase… Image until I saw this before me: Image Quite mesmerizing. At least if you’re a baseball fan. I was very excited to be on the Green Monster, but I was also a little disappointed. There must have been a private party or something, because every single seat was taken on the Green Monster. The cross aisle in back was open though: 100_0149 We did, however, manage to grab a spot towards the very end of the Green Monster, near where it meets the center field wall:100_0152 I’m sure you know that I do the sign picture for every new stadium I go to. I’ve been to Fenway before, but not when I made the signs. So there ya go. After a few minutes I noticed that not only was no ball getting hit my way, I was wasting my time. Everything was either going down the line, or out completely, so I decided I’d had enough and I went over to center. On the way, I noticed this plaque: 100_0156 You can click to make it larger. If you want to read it. Now, when I got to center field, I got the attention of a Red Sox pitching/bullpen coach, I couldn’t tell who. He tossed me a ball, but it was sailing to my left right at Jenna. I wasn’t going to be a jerk and take it from her, so here she is with her 1st snag: 100_0158 Excited would be an understatement. Here was the view to my right: 100_0159 and to my left: 100_0160 So as you can see, not much of a crowd. It’s only as much as the line for Red Sox Nation is. Oddly enough, I wasn’t snagging anything. I wasn’t getting good luck as of yet. I headed over to right field to mix it up: 100_0162 but there was a season ticket holder event on the field, as you can see, so anything hit in that region was tossed to them. Fast forward to when the Rays were hitting, since I didn’t get anything from Boston. I got Jeremy Hellickson to quickly toss me my first ball of the day: 20130724_172702 Hellickson is the guy on the left. I decided I’d exhausted my resources (for now) in this area, so I ran around the entire stadium (since you can’t go through the Green Monster) to left field: 100_0165 …where I asked coach Tom Foley to hit me a fungo into the crowd, but he tossed it to me instead. Fine with me. If you’re not familiar, here is the different configuration for left field: 100_0166 Fenway is all about quirks and weird angles. You have this, the Green Monster, the “triangle” in center, the sharp curve in right, Pesky’s pole, all wonderful baseball junkie type stuff. While I was in left, I noticed this: 20130724_174836 That’s Fernando Rodney. He pretty much teased an entire section for a good 10 minutes by tossing the ball up the Green Monster just short enough where they couldn’t catch it, but enough where it looked like he was making an effort. And those people never realized a closer with a 95 mph fastball couldn’t make a toss up the Green Monster? C’mon guys. I ran all the way BACK around the park to the triangle: 20130724_175702 and was unsuccessful in catching a few drives that came near me. I went back up to my original spot in center, but at Fenway you have to either go through the staircase on the concourse, or over a few sections, and then back up and over to center. Here, take a look: aerial You see how the center field wall goes into the right field bleachers? Well, it’s not that big of a deal, but when you’re all the way down in the corner where the triangle is and you want to get back up to center quickly, it can pose a bit of a time-consuming nuisance. Also, the two bullpens eat up a LOT of the BP homers. Most got thrown back onto the field. While I was in front of the bullpens, a ball hit by someone I can’t recall slammed off the wall.  Chris Archer tossed the ball into the crowd, but to my left was a little girl maybe no more than 5 years old with her father. They weren’t looking, but I snagged the ball on a nice grab on a bounce, and saved her from being hit. Her father thought I was taking the said ball from his daughter, even though both of them weren’t looking at the time. To ease the situation, I gave the ball to the girl and her father was immediately overjoyed. Archer, seeing all of this, pointed me out: 20130724_175709

and tossed me another ball. So technically, I snagged 4. But, I like to number all of my baseballs, so for mygameballs.com purposes, I counted it, but as for my personal collection, I am not. So, at this point, personally, I am at 3. I headed down towards the right field foul pole, and after a short while I got bullpen catcher Scott Cursi to throw me my 4th (really 5th) ball of the day: 20130724_180506 That one was nice and clean. That about did it for BP. We went for a walk back out onto Yawkey (remember how I mentioned that earlier?) : 100_0171 Like I said, this is how a ballpark neighborhood should be. We went back in, and I tried for a pregame ball by the Rays dugout: 100_0181 I really really wanted a ball from Longoria, but he tossed it to someone else. A kid wearing a Rays shirt but a Boston hat. Explain that one. I normally take a photo at the top of upper decks at new stadiums, but since the upper seats behind home plate at Fenway are all press and suites, this will have to do: 100_0183 As for the game, here were our seats: 100_0184 I feel like the picture doesn’t do it justice. Anyway, I was hoping for a Ortiz homer, but nothing came my way. Fast forward to the 9th, where I was here: 100_0185 …and promptly got denied by the Rays coming into the dugout. I couldn’t help but change my usual line score format and use Fenways… so… final score: final

David Price pitched a masterful game, throwing a complete game, on only 97 pitches. Of those, a whopping 72 were strikes, good enough for 74%. Nuts.

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  • 4 balls at this game (5 snagged but I gave 1 away.)
  • 143 career balls
  • 30th straight MLB game with a ball
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5/20/13 @ US Cellular Field (BOS @ CWS)

Day 3 of the trip was still in Chicago. There was some more sightseeing, and at night I was going here:

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U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. As I do with any new stadium, I was taking a trip around to see the atmosphere, what the stadium looked like, and anything else that might catch my eye. It was also incredibly hot today, but there was a ton of wind so it felt good. Also in the future, if anyone plans to take the CTA to the game like I did, the “Sox – 35th” station is closed for repairs. So, you have to get off at the “35th – Bronzeville” stop and walk a few extra blocks. No big deal. I continued approaching the stadium:

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As you can see, it was just buzzing. To the right is some sort of Chicago sports bar, but I walked right past it. I walked past the ticket windows:

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As I passed that, a guy and his wife/girlfriend walked by wearing a “30 stadiums – conquer the dream” shirt. He was hitting all 30 this year. That takes a lot of time, money, and effort, so good for them. I also noticed that they put up the starting lineup outside, similar to Citi Field:

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After that, I continued my way around to an area called Champions Plaza (even though the White Sox have 1 championship in the last 89 years, but I digress – ):

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And of course, I was excited to knock off another stadium:

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I made my way around to the first base side of the stadium:

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…and to be honest, I wasn’t wowed by the place. I mean, yea, it was nice… but maybe because I did Wrigley first over this park, I was so used to the awesomeness of Wrigley that this just couldn’t compare. Who knows? Everyone in town was telling me that the Cell was beautiful, but I just didn’t really think it was that great. I wrapped around the park past the stadium club:

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And wound up here:

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I wanted to keep going, but really couldn’t see where or how to get around. I saw a little passageway to my right, but there was a line of people waiting to use a port-o-potty. I wasn’t using one, so I walked past them, and then got stopped by 2 security guards. They told me I couldn’t walk all the way around. Whatever. I’ve never seen a stadium where you couldn’t walk all the way around, until now.  Instead, I posted up here:

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Gates were opening in about 30 minutes. The White Sox are one of those teams that does the 90 minutes prior to game time opening, which is stupid because by the time I got inside, the White Sox were already done hitting. How is that fun for the hometown fans?

Here were my options:

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Either go right, to the bullpen sports bar, have limited room to run but be right up on the fence, or try my luck in the seated areas behind. I chose to go left, up the ramp, and when the gates opened I did about 3 quick flights of ramps and ran down to the right field seats. When I got there, I was greeted by this guy:

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Hooray for Easter eggs. I was 30 seconds inside, and I was on the board. Which is always great. It takes the pressure off my streak having to continue, now I could just enjoy being there and whatever else happened, happened. About 45 seconds later, Jacoby Ellsbury lined one deep into right center, and it slammed into the seats. I was trying to look for it, and an usher placing All-Star Game voting pamphlets helped me look, as well. I combed the rows twice over, and eventually found the ball. Here is where it was:

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Here was my view of the field, the Red Sox were just kinda hanging around:

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And to give you an idea of what I was up against, here was my view to the right:

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That guy in the picture was probably the most annoying ballhawk I’ve encountered. He wasn’t giving anyone space, and he was only there for BP and then was going home. Every time I looked, he was right on me. Here’s a look at the space between the seats and the outfield wall:

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You can use a glove trick, if you have it. I had mine, but there wasn’t a single ball to retrieve. I moved over to straightaway right field, in this area:

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…where I missed not one, not two, but THREE homers. One fell short, the second bounced on the pavement, up towards me, and bounced off a railing (I missed this one because I let a kid have a chance at it), and the last one just missed my outstretched glove and someone behind me got it. If only I was taller….

Here’s a shot of me during the rest of BP:

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(I’m in the grey and red.)

I tried a little longer for a toss up from John Lackey and Ryan Dempster, but got nowhere. After BP, Jon Lester was warming up in the right field corner, and I was there:

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Here’s a good shot Natalie got of Lester:

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See the bullpen catcher, Martinez? Has anyone else had a tough time with him? You talk to him and he acts like you don’t exist. Not just me, little 7-year olds, too. He also walks around like he thinks his you-know-what-don’t-stink. You’re a bullpen catcher, dude. Get off your high horse.

Here’s a better look at the bullpen sports bar:

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You don’t need a ticket for here. It’s first come first serve. As it should be.

And the retired numbers (they used to have homages on the outfield walls, but those are gone now):

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All the pregame ballhawking was done, so it was time to explore. Just a reminder, you need a 100 level ticket to even get down there for BP. They have guys checking tickets at the ramps before you even see the concourse. We headed up the ramp to the top of the stadium:

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…looking out over lovely Chicago:

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…until I got to the top:

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And my panoramic photo (you know the routine by now):

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Then I moved over to the furthest seat away at the top of the left field corner for a better view:

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Looking down on some batting cages and fan friendly areas which weren’t getting used at all:

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I did, however, like this shot:

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But this is how I felt so far:

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…not impressed. Seems I’m not the only one who was dissatisfied with this area, check it out:

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…it wasn’t me, I swear.

Take a look at how crowded the concourse up there was:

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So now that you can see how crowded it was, the usher guarding the left field corner ramps refused to let us down. I needed a ticket. When I asked for what, he just said “Sir, you need a ticket.” I don’t get it. So we had to walk all the way back around back to behind home plate, where we got greeted by another guard on the ramp checking 100 level tickets. Sheeeez.

On the way to our seats, we passed the “Social Media Center,” or whatever it was called, which was just a room of people on their phones, and this dog, who looked like a pig and was passed out on the floor:

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…your guess is as good as mine.

We stopped to snap a shot with Frank Thomas:

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…and to visit the old Comiskey Park shower:

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Apparently it’s an old stall from the old Comiskey Park, and you can shower with cold water on hot days. I was sweaty, but didn’t feel like sitting in wet clothes all night.

Heres the concourse behind the batters eye:

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It’s… different.. from other parks I’ve been to at least. Usually the scoreboards are just up on the wall above the seats. Interesting design. I passed some more statues:

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And on the way to our seats, Adam Dunn hit a 3-run homer right where we were sitting. Awesome. Eventually, we got to our seats:

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…and later moved here because of people who literally got up every half inning. Honestly, did you go to the game to do a 12 course meal sampling or to watch a ballgame? I’ll never understand it. I hate to miss an inning. Worst part was, the people were rude. Whatever. I took an artistic shot:

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And in the top of the 9th, I squeaked my way down here:

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And after Addison Reed got the final out for the save I was in the front row:

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…and got ignored by all of the players, umpires, and coaching staff.

Final score:

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And here I am with my “stadium sign” photo:

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Number 11, sweet. As you can see, I have a death grip on the sign. The wind was picking up fiercely, and the tarp was being rolled onto the field. When we left the stadium, the thunder started rumbling, and as we looked back at the cell, you could literally see the wall of rain rolling towards us in the lights, and it started raining on us. Definitely good timing.  I also forgot to take a picture of the balls afterwards. On to Milwaukee!

  • 2 balls at this game
  • 103 career balls
  • 24 straight MLB games with a ball

5/17/13 at Target Field (BOS @ MIN)

So, remember that trip I mentioned in my last post? Well, today was the day it started, and I spent most of my morning looking at this:

Image Which made me feel like this:

Image…I took a flight (with Natalie) from New York to Washington, and from there a flight to, if you haven’t guessed by now, Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was the first of a 7-day trip where I was hitting 4 stadiums. Which stadiums? You’ll just have to keep reading to find out. Eventually, we arrived in Minneapolis, and took the light rail to the hotel: Image…and to save you from boredom, we checked in to the hotel, walked around downtown, snapped a few photos, and were waiting around for game time at 7, gates opened at 5. Of course, around 2:30, it started to rain.

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I was worried that BP would be cancelled, but we were still technically on *vacation*, so I hoped for the best and kept going. We grabbed a bite to eat relatively near Target Field, and then, it was time for the game. I approached the stadium from the back end: Image… and moved closer around the concourse outside: Image… to Gate 6: Image… check out the cool door handles on the gates: Image Nice.

I snapped a few more pics of the concourse as we walked around: Image

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Until we got here.

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I was a little confused. You would think that with a new stadium being built, they would make sure that you could easily walk around the entire outside concourse of the ballpark. At least I would if I was designing one. So I kept following the area:

100_9943And wound up at “Target Plaza”:

100_9945Interesting, but nice. I’m trying to figure out what those standing structures are; my guess is that they’re supposed to be baseball bats. Here’s another angle:

100_9949And some other pictures of things in the plaza:

100_9946 100_9948 100_9950In order, those are – a set of memorial plaques dedicated to everyone who built Target Field, a pretty cool looking statue of Kirby Puckett, and a statue of Harmon Killebrew. Then, we passed a small, oddly placed ticket window, and the “Golden Glove,” a place for a great photo opportunity:

100_9951 100_9952I moved around some more; saw some more ticket offices, and these, which I thought were cool:

100_9961It’s a pennant hung for each year the Twins have been a team, with the roster for each year’s team.

I kept making my way around, past the plaza –

100_9965– And checked inside to see if the BP cages were up, since the rain held off:

100_9959But I couldn’t tell from that angle. So I kept walking around.

The architecture at Target Field is pretty unique. Overall, I’d say I liked it:

100_9962 100_9963 100_9964And I was almost all the way around. In case you ever need a Twins jersey, I know a good place you can go:

100_9967As I made my way to the beginning of where we started…

100_9971…I couldn’t help but think that Target Field reminded me of Nationals Park. I think it was this bike rack that reminded me:

100_9972…but enough of that. It was time to ballhawk, and watch a game. Here I am at Gate 34:

IMG_0731I have no idea what I was checking, probably box scores or twitter.

And here was the incredibly long line to get inside:

100_9974For those of you in Minnesota, is it always like this? I’m used to New York City where the line is a mile long and people cut you at 5:09 when the gates open at 5:10 even though you got there an hour early to be second in line and get in before everyone else.

I ran inside, past Target Plaza, and wound up in the first section of seats I saw here:

100_9976…and the cages were up! This instantly changed my mood. The Twins were hitting, and I quickly missed out on two home runs that landed in the section to the right of mine. Here was the view to my right:

100_9977…and I then moved to the section where the usher in the previous photo was cleaning the seats off. Later on, I got Glen Perkins, pictured in the bottom as the balding guy with his hands on his knees, to look at me:

100_9978 I asked him for a ball, and I noticed that when he was about to chuck one up to me, a ball was sailing towards my section, slamming off the wall. My gut instinct was to look towards the ball coming at me, so Perkins changed his mind and threw it back towards the infield. Sigh.

I looked over to my right:

100_9980And moved to the section where the boy in the blue jacket was standing. He just caught 2 balls in about thirty seconds and a lot of balls were headed in that direction, so I made my move. Here was my *new* view to my right:

100_9983Look at all that running space! I hung out here for the majority of the duration of Twins BP, and I kept barely missing homers. They kept falling just short of clearing the wall. I’m telling you, if it was a little warmer and humid, I’d have had about 7 or 8 balls uncontested. But it was rainy and cold, and I was still scoreless. Towards the end of Twins BP, I got Josh Roenicke to toss me my first ball of the day, and I was on the board for Target Field:

100_9984The Twins then jogged off the field, and the Red Sox came out. I noticed David Ortiz:

100_9985(More on him later), and thought it would be cool to get a ball from him. So I put most – not all – of my focus on him, and tried to get one. I even asked him in Spanish. It seems that he has a fear of hurting fans by tossing up, because for me and everyone else he threw the ball up in a random, open area of seating and then people would make a mad dash for the ball. So, after a few of these, I decided not to try anymore. Anyone else notice this with Ortiz?

Here’s a shot of me hanging out:

100_9988…a few minutes later, Mike Carp lined a homer into the section next to mine, and I quickly ran over and scooped it up for ball #2 on the day:

IMG_0733 It was a line shot, and given the overhang of the upper deck above me, I’m surprised the ball landed where it did. Later on, I was ready for when Ortiz was hitting. I was also sitting on 99 career balls. I needed one more for 100.

See where this is going?

I positioned myself in the aisle in between the first two sections. I also, for some reason, was imagining Natalie getting hit by a ball and me not being able to help her. She was sitting 4 rows behind me, checking her phone. Ortiz lined a hard one to my left, so I ran over and tried to snag it but someone’s hand got in the way of my glove and the ball fell harmlessly back to the field. He looked at me as if it was my fault, when he was the one who charged at me, gloveless, knocking my hand from the catch. The nerve. Anyway, since I was moved away from the aisle, wouldn’t you know it – Ortiz’s next hit was a liner directly at Natalie. All I could do was watch the ball soar into the seats, since the steps were too awkwardly steep, and the railing was also in the way for me to get there in time, and I watched the ball smack off her leg, fly back over my head, and back on to the field. I was more concerned about her leg, but also thought about the memorable story I’d have for ball No. 100 if I snagged it off the carom. She had a nice little bruise going, but I forgot to take a picture of it.

The rest of BP, I lingered in the same area for a while. The left field bleachers were too crowded, and I felt like it was pointless to head over there. Also, I had a lot of room to myself where I was, only there was one problem: Nobody was hitting anything out.

Eventually though, there was a group with just righties hitting and I headed over here:

100_9990It was towards the end of BP here, since you can see only John Lackey was left in the outfield. From a ballhawking standpoint, you’ll see what I mean when I say left field was crowded:

100_9991I also spent the rest of the time chatting it up with some guy from Wisconsin who was a Red Sox fan. He was more into autographs, and I was into baseballs. For some reason, I didn’t manage to snap a picture of/with him, but take my word for it, we talked. We were hanging out here:

100_9989And while he was talking to me, I had my eye on this:

100_9993But the Red Sox pitching coach came out, and tossed my new acquaintance the ball after I asked for it. BP was now officially over, so it was time to explore. I walked allllll the way up to the left field corner of the stadium, mainly because I was incredibly cold and wet, and wanted to take advantage of the “fire pit” that the Twins have up in the Budweiser porch-deck-terrace-whatever:

100_9994Awesome idea, great decision… if I had a ticket for there. So instead, I took a photo of the view of the field:

100_9995 100_9997We then continued our way through the concourse:

100_9998And went up another mini-staircase and concourse behind home plate:

100_9999And wound up here:

101_0001Nice. Cool. Awesome. I still couldn’t believe I had made it out here. It was the furthest west in the United States I’ve ever been so far, and I was having a good time. I then snapped a typical panoramic photo shot of Target:

101_0002And here I am:

101_0008For the record – if you read some of my other posts from Marlins Park and Tropicana, etc., you’ll see I’m taking pictures with numbers. My goal is to see all 30 stadiums, and after this trip I would be up to #13. This one is 7, because for some reason when I visited Olympic Stadium last summer, to make a long story short, I took a picture with a #7 sign there, even though a major league team doesn’t play there. Therefore, after visiting all 30 parks, I’d be left with 31 pictures. Therefore, I replaced that one with this picture. Get it? Got it? Good. Here’s a shot of me and Natalie:

101_0009How cute. I’ll give her credit ahead of time for putting up with me in three cities, 4 stadiums, and a week of traveling. She must love me. Why, I’m not sure.

I made my way around to right field and took a shot of Target Plaza:

101_0011Hooray for subliminal advertising!

Although I will admit, it is a pretty layout they have going here:

101_0012 101_0013We made our way up to the 2nd deck in right field and snapped some more angle shots:

101_0014 101_0015And since the Sox were leading off the 1st, I wanted to try and catch a home run in Target Plaza. I had a chance in the 1st inning with Ellsbury and Ortiz, so we hung out there for a bit. There, they have the original flagpole from Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Twins before the HHH Metrodome:

101_0017 101_0018…cool. If you’re ever in Minnesota, the original home plate is in the Mall of America, located in Toys R’ Us, I believe (correct me if I’m wrong). I didn’t have time to check out the mall though; I was only in Minnesota for one night. Walking around the concourse, I noticed you can grab one of these if you happen to get hungry:

101_0019One POTATO, please. (Odd.)

OR, you could wolf down one of these “nacho helmets”:

101_0020Never seen that before. I didn’t order one for the record; I took a pic of someone else’s. Only condition was that I got her nowhere near the photo. She seemed pretty adamant about it.

Instead of going to our seats right away, which were much lower than the ones pictured:

101_0022I decided to go for a foul ball. The section I was in was moderately empty, plus with the hard-throwing Clay Buchholz and a lefty hitting Twins lineup, what the heck. After a few innings though, people were showing up so we moved. I did, however, grab a shot of the Twins “retired numbers” wall:

101_0021Ortiz was due up the next inning, so I headed past the Walleye and Pork chop-on-a-stick stand, and made my way back to right field:

101_0025…does anyone actually order these? My guess is yes, since it’s still open. I didn’t see one with any though. Long story short, I did not catch a home run. I did however, come close to catching Pedro Florimon’s home run in the bottom of the 3rd inning. It barely cleared the wall, if you watch the replay, but it bounced straight up in the air and it was a dash for it after that. I narrowly missed out on it. After the game, I headed here:

101_0029…and subsequently got shutout by everyone who passed me.

One thing Natalie happened to notice…. See the 2nd deck in right? Here it is if you can’t remember:

hmmm… I was recalling how odd the shape of that section is, and Natalie asked me if it was meant to look like the state of Minnesota. I never thought about it, but if you take a look, what do you think?

hmmm2Brains and beauty, not that bad of a combo, eh? 😉

On our way home, we walked back to our hotel, and I took this picture of some corporate business building, but it looked cool:

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Final score:final

On to CHICAGO!!!

I didn’t have time in the hotel, so I took the following photo on the plane:

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I’ll make a post with the black light views after all the trip posts. I didn’t have time for the black light on the trip.

  • 2 balls at this game
  • 99 career balls (STILL closing in on 100!)
  • 22 straight MLB games with a ball

8/17/12 at Yankee Stadium (BOS @ NYY)

I got a ticket for this game for 1 reason and 1 reason only:

I wanted a Fenway commemorative ball. Correction: I NEEDED one. I did not feel like going up to Boston just for one ball. I had some previous obligations to take care of earlier in the day, so I was already in the city. I was actually able to make it to the stadium very early for once, and it felt good. Thus, my journey starts here on 51st Street and Lexington Ave:

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I then grabbed the 4 at 59th street, and a few cramped, crowded, sweaty, woman next to yous sweaty armpits minutes later I was here:

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I love being there when nobody else is. I normally go inside Gate 6 (Right Field), but since I had the time, I decided to go inside Gate 2 (Left Field). The line was huge, look where I had to stand:

ImageThat folks, is why you leave early. I hadn’t eaten all day, so here is some shameless advertising:

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I never eat McDonald’s. Today was an exception. I was going to be running plenty to burn that off. Around 4:45 (gates open at 5), this guy behind me all of the sudden decides to cut me. It was the weirdest thing ever. The lady next to me offered to say something but the guy was old, and honestly, did not look like he would be ballhawking. I would get in eventually just like everyone else. I found it funny though because no matter WHAT I do, I am never  the first on line. Anyway, I got my bag checked and ran in to left field. Here was my spectacular view to my right:

Image… and my gorgeous back/left view:

ImageTHIS IS WHY YOU GO TO GAMES EARLY PEOPLE!!!

When I was checking for easter eggs, I could see that a usher had a ball in his hands. I wasn’t going to ask him for it. The next moment, Andruw Jones blasted a home run that hit off the logo next to the “State Farm” to the right in the above picture. I ran over  a few rows, and before I knew it, 2 minutes in I had this:

ImageIt was the first home run that I snagged that was hit into the seats that wound up into my glove. Very cool. 15 seconds later, Andruw smacked one into the walkway tunnel for the section to my right, so I ran up and snagged it before someone running behind me could get it:

Image… and just like that, 3 minutes in I had 2 balls, both of them hit into the stands and retrieved by me, something I have never done before. Very awesome. They didn’t have Fenway commemorative logos on them, so there was more work to be done. I knew it wouldn’t be this easy for much longer, as the crowd was filing in:

ImageI think it’s funny how everyone swarms to the front row. I’m guilty of this myself sometimes, but you usually have better luck standing back further. I usually do this when I get caught up in trying to get Hiroki Kuroda to toss me a ball. Which he will successfully, someday. 5 minutes later, the Yankees were done. The Sox still were stretching, so I ran over to here:

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Where I later got my third ball of the day from Ryan Lavarnway, who was tossing with Cody Ross. I quickly looked at the ball, and there was no logo on it. I moved closer to the cage where Dustin Pedroia was hitting:

ImageI was trying to get his attention because it was his birthday. If he heard me, he might hook me up. But he didn’t.

I avoided trying to go to the field and get a toss up because it looked like this:

ImageSo I stayed back, just in case. It wasn’t much better back where I had started:

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I looked over in the bullpen and saw this:

ImageEh. But look closer:

ImageNeeded to be mine.

But, bullpen coach Gary Tuck was being a jerk the whole night and put them back in his bag. I tried asking Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway for theirs:

ImageNothing.

I did take this cool picture of Franklin Morales warming up:

ImageI’ll save you the reading. I did a lot of begging but came up short. The game started, and the rain came:

ImageHere was my view to my right:

Image… and my immediate right:

ImageBlurf. I was commemorative-less, I was soaked, sweaty, and I flat out stunk from sweating for 15 hours. I wasn’t too happy:

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Later, Derek Jeter apparently “crushed” his 250th home run.

ImageAnd no, I didn’t catch it. It came close, and then I started dreaming of what I would do if I caught it, as he would want it. Maybe I’d ask for a Fenway commemorative.

I tried every half inning for a toss up, and would not quit. I got Alfredo Aceves to acknowledge me:

Imagein the top of the 9th and he said he’d get me. So I waited. And the game ended. Gary Tuck -___- took the bag with him, so that was that.  So I headed down to the bullpen gate, in hopes of asking the groundskeeper for a ball and hoping it was a commemorative. 5 anguish-filled minutes later….

ImageSA-WEEEEET! (One E for each commemorative) I now had FIVE commemorative balls out of the SIX this year, and I have ONE and only one chance to get it next Saturday when the Astros play the Mets. It was smudged, but hell, I’ll take it. Ironically, a short minute later, Aceves actually came through and threw me a commemorative ball, but it fell short hitting the fence. I was busy high-tailing out of there to catch my Metro-North train, and headed home after a LOOONG day in NYC. Following pic taken on the train:Image

  • 4 balls at this game (Ties personal MLB record!)
  • 64 career balls
  • 7 games in a row at Yankee with a ball (new record!)
  • 10 straight MLB games with a ball (new record!)
  • Yankees record when I attend: 34-21 (8-3 in 2012)
  • Red Sox record when I attend: 5-2 (1-1 in 2012)

Next game: Possibly mid-week Rockies/Mets, otherwise Astros/Mets 8/25 to try and complete the Commemorative Set!

7/28/12 at Yankee Stadium (BOS @ NYY)

This is how I spent my Saturday:

ImageI wouldn’t normally have gone to a game like this, being that its Boston vs.the Yankees, it’s a weekend, and it would be crowded. But, it was a birthday gift for my girlfriend Natalie’s sister, Jenna. She is a Sox fan, so we decided it would be fun to take her to Yankee Stadium for the first time. Here is Jenna on the right, and her brother Eric:

ImageAnd of course, here is Natalie and I:

ImageThe next part of the day was a little frustrating. The 4 train took longer than it usually does, plus since it was Sox/Yankees and not 100 degrees out, the lines were ridiculous. We headed over to Gate 8 in Center Field and entered around 10 minutes after the gates opened. I didn’t know if the Yankees would be hitting being this was a day game after a night game, but they were in fact hitting. I’m a sucker for trying to get toss-ups and figured today there are just too many people so I would try and snag just home runs (even though I’ve done this a total of zero times). Here is where I positioned myself:

ImageLook at all that space. Glorious.

Eric spread out and went to the section next to mine. The arrow is pointed at him:

ImageSo what happened next? Raul Ibañez hit about 4 balls in Eric’s direction into the big crowd by him, and then Nick Swisher hit one relatively close to me that ricocheted off the railing and into the hat of the man 2 rows in front of me. Not good.

See the streaks of rain in the last picture, well after Swisher was hitting, it started to rain and the Yankees came off the field. I was only here 5 friggin’ minutes! The Red Sox were already out tossing, so some of them stayed outside. I knew since BP was over, the ushers wouldn’t let me down by the Red Sox side. Here’s how quick the section cleared out:

Image(That’s Natalie in the picture)

I figured I’d hang in the area because there were a few balls (not pictured, against the wall) here:

ImageShortly thereafter, a Yankee Stadium security guard came over, tossed me a ball that smacked into the protective netting, then tried again and got it into my glove for my first (and probably last) ball of the day.

Since it was Jenna’s first time in the new stadium and the action on the field was dead (Vicente Padilla was tossing but was being a total douche, more on him later), we walked around the park. I took some interesting photos such as this:

ImageThis got a rousing reaction from the 3,000 Yankee fans in the Great Hall at the time, but we thought it was funny.

And then there’s this –

ImageSox hat and a Yankee jersey? Get it together kid. Baseball gods are having a heart attack over here.

Then, the storm clouds rolled in and unloaded pouring rain for 2 hours to the tune of this:

ImageCool picture, but not so cool at the time.

I was excited to see this around 5:30:

ImageOnly to see 5 minutes of groundskeeping, then this at 5:35:

ImageThen this at 5:40:

ImageWhat the hell was going on today? Make up your minds! I need to go to Baltimore, or Arizona. Somewhere good.

Natalie seemed to enjoy herself, while I was still puzzled/pissed about the rain situation:

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Finally, the field was coming into shape, so I was in position to try the “Mike Harkey” trick. For those of you who don’t know, he is the bullpen coach for the Yankees, and comes out before every home game and throws about 6 or 7 balls into the crowd, one of them which usually goes up to the “Batters Eye Restaurant”, which is where I was. Here is Harkey:

ImageHe tossed a ball twice to one lady wayyyyy back on the concourse who dropped it. Both times. I have a glove Mike, make it happen someday. I came up empty here so we headed up to our seats, here:

ImageAnd I was thrilled to see this guy hitting for the good guys:

ImageI love Ichiro Suzuki. Almost as much as I love Hideki Matsui.

Remember Padilla? Well, he and Mark Teixeira have a troubled past, so to say, and tonight was just another chapter in their dramatic relationship. In the late innings, he was facing Teixeira and lobbed in a 51 mph eephus pitch to try and make him look stupid. The very next pitch, Teixeira rocketed the 96 (how about that 45 mph difference!) mph fastball into the seats. It was truly epic, you had to be there. The Yankees wound up losing the game, 8-6, but at the end I made my way to the Red Sox bullpen and asked  the bullpen catcher  if I could have a ball. He reached into the bag and pulled out a OH MY GOD COMMEMORATIVE BALL! So he tosses it over the protective bullpen fence-thing, and someone tips the ball away from my glove. Holy hell, was I pissed. I thanked the guy too by the way. Now I have to go up to Boston if I want one of these things. I tried getting his attention again, but he was already towards the infield area. I then asked this groundskeeper if he could toss me one of the 3 balls left by the Red Sox in the bullpen, hoping it was commemorative:

Image(Just a note – this groundskeeper is really cool. Just be polite and patient, he’ll most likely hook you up) He said “Sure, just wait like 5 minutes, I really gotta get this done”. So I said “Sure man, no problem”. Two seconds later, he reached over, grabbed the ball, tossed it over to me, and thanks me for actually being patient. I guess usually everyone just demands a ball, instead of asking. What a concept. I was now on two balls (none commemorative… -__- )for the night. We took one last photo for the night:

ImageAnd then we headed home. I’ll be back at Yankee Monday night vs. Baltimore.

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  • 2 balls at this game
  • 52 total balls
  • 4 straight games at Yankee Stadium with a ball
  • Yankees record this season when I attend: 6-2 Overall: 32-20
  • Red Sox record when I attend: 5-1