I was looking through some old pictures and was thrilled to find some old pictures of me at the old Yankee Stadium, and coincidentally, this was the last “game” I attended at the stadium (I was at the 2008 All-Star Game, but that is an interesting story for another day in a future post). Also, I’m sure you remember Natalie from earlier posts. This was actually one of our first dates, so that’s exciting as well. I’ll have to give her credit for tagging along with me to baseball games from the get go. It was her first (and last) time at Old Yankee. Believe it or not, I actually tried ballhawking at this game (with no glove). Here we go…
And hung out there for a little while. I knew that this was probably my last time there, so I tried to savor every moment of it. It was such a historic place, and it was going to be gone forever. I can still remember it now. I took some artistic photos:
Oh come on. I had to have it! Of all people, Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. was walking over to me. At the the time, I had zero balls snagged in my life. What a name to get your first from, huh? So here he was:
After BP had ended, I headed up to my seats:
…at my last game ever. I discreetly scrounged together some pieces of concrete wall from the outside and some infield dirt before they tore it down, so I’ll always have a piece of the REAL Yankee Stadium forever.
- 0 balls at this game (I was a rookie!)
This is how I spent my Saturday:
I 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:
The 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:
Eric spread out and went to the section next to mine. The arrow is pointed at him:
So 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:
I figured I’d hang in the area because there were a few balls (not pictured, against the wall) here:
Shortly 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:
And then there’s this –
Then, the storm clouds rolled in and unloaded pouring rain for 2 hours to the tune of this:
I was excited to see this around 5:30:
Natalie seemed to enjoy herself, while I was still puzzled/pissed about the rain situation:
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:
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:
(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:
- 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
Unexpectedly, I wound up here Monday night:
My girlfriend, Natalie, had her college friend, Megan, visiting for the day. When she asked her what she wanted to do, her response was “see the Mets at Citi Field”. She had never been to the new stadium, and they wanted me to come and show them around and also show them how to snag. I happily obliged.
Here is Megan outside the gate for the 1st time:
On the way to the stadium, it rained for about 20 minutes. When we got to the parking lots, the rain had stopped and the radar was looking like it was in our favor. Plus the gates hadn’t opened yet. I told Natalie and Megan to wait on line and I’d pick up the tickets. While I was over by the ticket office, I ran into fellow N.Y. ballhawk Mateo Fischer. I had read his blog a bunch and have seen him at Yankee Stadium before, so it was nice to meet and talk in person. We talked about how much Citi Field sucked for snagging essentially, I saved him a spot on line, and then we went our separate ways once we got inside.
When I did get inside, however, I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the sight of this:
I didn’t get it. The sun was out, the rain had stopped. I had planned on BP so I could most importantly continue my streak, but Megan wanted me to snag her a ball at her first game. I don’t know why there wasn’t any BP. Lazy, Mets, lazy. Pressure!
A bunch of the Nationals were long tossing to my left:
Here I am with Ross Detweiler:
See that security guard? More on him in a bit. Here’s Tom Gorzelanny…
The next picture was me attempting to get Stephen Strasburg’s autograph. I saw that he was making his way down the left field wall, and then out of nowhere a hundred fans come swarming with binders and smothering me with their body odor and sweaty bodies all while having no consideration for each other. I got stepped on, pushed, and elbowed just to get a signature. I got so fed up I left. It was pathetic. Here’s the best picture I could get of Strasburg, because someone had a binder lodged in my eardrum:
Pictured here is bullpen catcher Nilson Robledo.
I asked him while he was having a catch with Drew Storen if I could have the ball when he was finished in Spanish. He returned the favor by staring at me as if I had asked for a kidney. Anyone else have a problem with Robledo? Anyway, Storen sailed a few fastballs into the stands and Robledo countered by saying that fans deserved to get hit if they weren’t paying attention, because you have to. Yes, this is true, but you don’t need to be so crabby about it. Storen then threw his ball to the fan he says “nearly killed”. So I was still scoreless on the day.
Later, I got autographs from Gio Gonzalez..
One cool thing about Storen is that someone asked him how he generates so much power on his fastballs. Storen said to “Look at Mariano, see how he uses his hips… he’s the best around. Just watch him”. I thought it was cool to see a player not only answer a fan, but give him pointers as well.
I decided to head over by the Nationals dugout to try my luck there. Here is backup catcher Sandy Leon:
Earlier he was coming in from the bullpen, and I asked him for a ball and he put up five fingers as to say “5 minutes”, so I waited. He finally came back out, but told me he had nothing to give me. Phooey.
I later got ignored by Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman –
I did, however, snap a cool pic of Bryce Harper:
He then proceeded to sign autographs until he absolutely needed to get into the on deck circle because the game was starting. You don’t see that much these days anymore. I snapped this picture as he hit a 2 run HR in the 1st inning, which I had never done before either:
The next inning, this happened:
Not only was it “Star Wars Night”, complete with cheesy between-inning videos on the scoreboard featuring Mets players, it was raining. I was ready to go next to the umpires tunnel in case of a delay. But, the delay never came. I overheard a groundskeeper saying that at the current rate of the rain falling, it was OK to play. So it rained all the way until the end of the game. In the meantime, here’s how we stayed dry:
The Mets tied it late on an Ike Davis homer that hit the foul pole, but once it got to the 10th inning, the Nationals busted it open with 6 runs to take a 8-2 lead.
Remember that security guard? Well, some kids moved down and sat next to me and proceeded to heckle the Nationals for 4 innings. It’s one thing to heckle, but to be dumb and unfunny about it is another thing. Everyone in the section was becoming annoyed, and I was restraining myself from saying something. Finally, the security guard kicked the guys out of the section. Much to the relief of everyone. I figured baseball karma had to be on my side. I was a good sport about EVERYTHING today.
Here’s a photo of the scoreboard:
Then I realized that this was my last chance to get a ball. I was too far away from the dugout to get a toss up, so I waited by the umpires tunnel. I called out to Alan Porter, who looked around for a kid most likely, and then popped the ball into my glove to secure the streak.
SWEET! Not only did I get my streak to stay alive, I almost forgot the Mets use commemorative game balls this year. Stoked was an understatement. I now have 3 of the 6 this year (MIA, LAD, NYM) and need 3 to go (Houston [who I am seeing in August @ the Mets], Boston [Seeing them Saturday], and Baltimore [Seeing next week]). So the chances are there to get all 6. Challenge accepted. I was, however, disappointed that I didn’t get Megan a ball, but she was more than happy with her 1st Citi experience.
Here I am with the ball in all it’s glory:
- 1 ball at this game
- 5 balls total
- 3 straight games at Citi with a ball
- Mets record when I attend: 10-14
- Nationals record when I attend: 3-2
This is where I found myself Saturday morning:
Just for the record: I HATE snagging at Citi. It’s just too hard. Dimensions are too far, lots of restrictions/rules, but I make it work sometimes. My CitiField record is a measly 2, and I’ve heard of other ballhawks getting into the double digits. Envious is an understatement. Today my goal was just 1. I was here to enjoy the game and hang out mostly, and I was sitting on 49 balls. I just wanted to get to 50, and I’d be happy.
I went to the game early with my best friend Rich, and his cousin Alison. They are both Met fans so it didn’t take much leg-pulling to get them to go. Since we were early , we decided to partake in some of this:
Since it was a day game after a night game, I didn’t expect the Dodgers or Mets to be taking BP. Because of this, there was no real urgency for me to get in on time. Here was the line for bobbleheads:
We wound up getting one. When we headed into the stadium, I noticed a batting cage was up. I walked over to the seats and noticed the Dodgers taking BP. Figures. By the time I got down there, I had a chance to ask Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen for balls, but Belisario threw his over the Party City Deck, and Jansen pointed to a kid next to me and made sure the kid got it. Fair enough. I didn’t even have time to snap a pic, since that was the end of Dodgers BP. Sigh.
I decided since I was wearing Dodgers gear, I would head over to this area:
I’ve snagged balls here before, so I figured I’d give it a go. For a while this was the only action – Andre Ethier stretching.
Yawn. After a few minutes, Adam Kennedy came out, ball-less mind you, to do some wind sprints and stretch. Me and Rich were having fun and yelling to him for attention, and yelling “2002 ALCS MVP!!!!” Which got some laughs and a wave from him. It was fun to interact with him. I decided to look over once more toward the Dodger dugout to see if there were any coaches (Don Mattingly, in particular – as a big Yankee fan I thought it would be sick to get a toss-up from him) or players who I could ask:
Nothing. As I look back towards the field, out of nowhere a ball is flying right at my face. I had almost no time to react, but the ball smacked off my glove and onto the ground behind me. Rich quickly smacked the ball back down towards us since people were grabbing for it, and then as he handed it to me, not only was I happy that I snagged a ball, but more importantly, this was staring me in the face:
SCORE!!!!!! A Dodgers 50th anniversary commemorative ball!!!! I guess Kennedy had a ball in his pocket or got one from Ethier, but either way I was thrilled. I now have 2 commemorative balls out of the 6 this year (MIA, LAD) and I’d love to get the others, but it’ll be tough. It was smudged, but look at it, simply gorgeous. It was then that I just realized the awesomeness of snagging a 50th Anniversary ball for my 50th career ball (I’m a dork, I know).
It was also pretty surreal to get acknowledged by superstar Matt Kemp:
I asked infielder Luis Cruz for a ball he had since he had just hit his 1st career homer the night before – But he told me he was already giving it to somebody behind the dugout. If you look in the picture, you notice the Mets were wearing their black home jerseys. They had all but scrapped the jerseys this year, but on the Alfonzo bobblehead I mentioned earlier, he is wearing the black home jersey, so that could be my only explanation for why the Mets did this. I thought it was a nice homage to him. They could also have been trying to break that losing streak they have 😉
We decided to hang out here for the game, and as I took the picture Ronny Cedeño had just homered, so the apple is up:
Towards the end of the game, something that I was not used to had happened: A Mets usher was friendly and actually let us move down lower for the end of the game. Here was the view:
I had actually never sat here yet, so it was exciting to sit somewhere new for once. Here was my view to my right:
If someone was parking one out here, I was getting it.
The Mets had blown through their *awesome* bullpen again this game, so we got treated to this guy running out from the bullpen in the top of the 9th inning:
NL All-Star, 13-1 R.A. Dickey came in to pitch the 9th. Relieving aint’ his bag though, and he gave up a homer to Juan Uribe to extend the lead. The Mets didn’t have a comeback in their bones though, so here was the final score:
I tried getting a ball as the Dodgers walked out of the bullpen, but to no avail. I was content with my 50th though. We took one last picture to cap off what I would say was a successful day at CitiField (I don’t say that much so enjoy it. Rich is on the left, you’ll see him frequently on the blog, his cousin Alison in the middle, and then me on the right).
- 1 ball at this game
- 50 career balls
- 5th ball at CitiField
- Mets record when I attend: 10-13
- Dodgers record when I attend: 1-1
Next game will be Monday night, Nationals @ Mets.
Following Marlins Park on 5/24/12, later on the vacation the stadium tours continued with Tropicana Field. The day started with a early drive from Miami to St. Petersburg. The game was at 3:10 which was good, because we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to drive up. I was a little apprehensive from a ballhawking standpoint because A: It was a holiday. B: There would be way too many kids there. But it was the only day that worked out for us, so I just had to deal. Eventually, after several pit stops, we saw this on the horizon:
Must be something in Florida that possesses people to make their stadiums look like spaceships, I’m not sure. As we approached the exit, we noticed something cool:
The columns on the side walls of the Trop are baseball bats. Cool.
Once you enter the parking lot, there is a long walkway that takes you across a little moat-like bridge to the main gate.
It’s so ugly, it’s beautiful. It’s got Florida written all over it.
Here I am at the main gate:
I gotta be honest, I never imagined myself actually getting on a plane (my 1st time was this trip, mind you) and going to both parks and just doing my own thing for once. It was very liberating.
Here’s a cool shot of the main gate-tower thing :
And as I like to do for all the stadiums I visit, I like to take a lap around and check out the scene and look for cool stuff. I probably should have gone to the Trop before Marlins Park, because Marlins Park made the Trop look like a mausoleum.
Here’s a unused ticket booth area:
It was very very muggy and hot, it was gross. Natalie wasn’t having it…
…so once we finished our lap she sat in the shade while I waited in line to snag.
This was pretty much the extent of the lap around the park. Calm yourself folks, it’s exciting:
Here’s a random pillar stuck in the middle of nowhere on the back end of the park:
The one cool thing I made sure to look for was the baseball storm drains. I had read about it on Zack Hample’s blog a few months back when I was looking for tips about the park. It had rained the night before, so I finally found one that wasn’t full of water:
Cool cool. We made it back to the front of the stadium, and I came across the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame near the team store.
If I had time, I wanted to check it out. Here is the team store itself:
Now get this: the team store opens when the gates open. Tell me how that makes sense. Countless people walked up to the store only to pull on locked doors and walk away mad. A ballpark’s #1 priority should be fan happiness. I for one, was pissed because I make it part of my 1st-time-at-a-stadium experience to mess around in the team store and try on the jerseys and see if there are any unique things they have to buy. Now if I wanted to go in the store, it would cut into snagging time, or I would have to wait until after the game when everyone goes and it would be crowded.
Nevertheless, I was first in line at the gate. Natalie hung off to the side because it was hot, and the woman standing next to me actually fainted because she was hot. The medics rushed over and checked her out, but she was okay. It was sort of scary at the time. I met a great older couple who lives in Tampa Bay, who shared stories of their Rays games (they were long time season ticket holders), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. They were talking to me about New York and how crowded the stadiums are, and trust me I had no problem complaining from a snagging standpoint 🙂 The gates opened on time and I was greeted with a heaven-sent blast of ice cold air conditioning…
The gate I was at was weird, it was actually positioned in Center Field. So I ran up the bleacher steps and found myself standing here when I was greeted to the field:
There was no music playing, and as you can see I was one of the first people inside, so when I was yelling out to players, my voice was actually echoing off the 1st base wall and coming back to me. It was pretty cool. Here I am attempting to snag:
Now, the one thing that got me mad was that it was quiet, so the White Sox could definitely hear me. And just like the Giants, they threw NOTHING up. Perhaps I brought bad snagging mojo down from New York with me, who knows. I felt like I would have to rely on catching a ball in the air (Something I’ve yet to do) to get a ball here.
Heres how it looked on the CF/LF side:
And believe it or not, that was about it for BP. I came close to some on-the-fly homers, but once again got goose-egged. (curse you, Florida!)
It was time to explore. Since I was on vacation, I wasn’t that mad at all. If I was in New York, I’d be hella pissed.
Here’s how the concourses look at the Trop:
I thought this was pretty cool:
On our way to our seats I remembered that I neglected to take pictures when I first came in to the ballpark. Heres how the atrium looks when you first enter:
I thought it looked pretty cool.
Around the concourse on the walls, the Rays have murals honoring Tampa-area baseball players and Rays events in a comic-book style art:
There were a few more pictures I took, but I showed the Boggs picture because I thought he was a great hitter.
Here’s a better birds eye view of the concourse:
We headed up to the top of the stadium for my customary picture:
Not a bad view, actually. Here’s what it looked like to the right:
(Me being ever-so-jubilant). And the left:
If you’ve never seen it before, teams do this because these seats don’t normally sell, and the teams like to put the tarps up so fans sit together and make the stadium look more aesthetically pleasing.
And here I am with my sign:
In case you haven’t read my other posts, the 9 stands for the number of stadiums I’ve visited. So far I’m up to 9 (New Yankee, CitiField, Fenway, Baltimore, Washington, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Tampa). I’ve also been to Old Yankee and Shea, but am counting them separately for now. I can’t take pictures there because they are both demolished.
We walked around to the left field party deck:
The concourse up here had a weird old-time neighborhood to it, it just didn’t fit in my opinion, there were too many different styles going on here. We also met a family from St. Louis who couldn’t find their way downstairs, and somehow I managed to direct them in the right direction.
Since I like to explore every part of a stadium when I go, I decided I would sacrifice about 30 minutes of the game to spend some time here:
The Rays have a “Touch Tank”, which, according to them, is this:
“The Rays Touch Tank, presented by the Florida Aquarium, is the first of its kind at a professional sports venue. The 35-foot, 10,000 gallon tank is located just beyond the right-center field fence at Tropicana Field. The Rays Touch Tank experience is free to all fans attending home games. For every ball hit into the tank during a game by a Rays player, the Rays will donate $5,000 to charity with $2,500 going to the Florida Aquarium and $2,500 going to that player’s charity of choice. To make it most convenient for all fans, there is a limit of 50 people in the tank area at any time.”
Good info to know. I wonder how many (if any) players have successfully hit a home run into the Ray tank. Rumor has it Aubrey Huff did it once back in his Devil Rays heyday. That last part mentions 50 people at a time, so we had to wait a little bit. The game had started, but there were plenty of TV’s to watch. Normally I HATE missing any part of the game, but this was an exception.
Before you enter the touch tank area, there is a little 5-minute class on how to touch the Rays. Here is the class in a nutshell:
Make sure to NOT touch the Rays in the “strike zone”. The friendly host we had explained that it is the equivalent of spraying bug spray up a human’s nose. Ouch. So DON’T DO IT! 🙂
Once the class was over, here’s what we saw:
All cool stuff. At first I was afraid to touch the Rays, but then I finally did. Only because Natalie did first, so I couldn’t look like a wimp. If I had to describe it, I would compare it to touching a really wet raw steak. But it was cool. And you only get about 5 minutes in there, so before you know it, It’s over. It was finally time to get to our seats.
What a privilege it is to be outside of NYC: These tickets cost us $25.00…. Yea. Yankee Stadium will run you about $200 for these bad boys. The game was going by really quick. A.J. Pierzynski was set on throwing 3rd out balls to scantily clad women in the 2nd row. And there was a 6 or 7 year old kid who was running down to get 3rd out balls, so I wasn’t about to compete with that and get booed. I was just enjoying the game and snapping pics. Here’s a cool pic of the roof:
A cool action pic:
And right after I took this pic of Adam Dunn, he blasted a home run that smacked off the back wall in right field:
That was all the White Sox needed, as both pitchers dueled to a 2-1 White Sox final. Chris Sale went 7 1/3 innings for Chicago, with FIFTEEN strikeouts, and Tampa’s Matt Moore countered with ten. Here’s the line score:
I was hoping the game would have went to extras and lasted longer, since I drove 4 hours to get there. But I was content. I tried to take my “9” picture down by the dugouts, but here’s why I didn’t keep it:
That lady on the right WOULD NOT move, at all. When she finally did, I had these guys ruining the picture:
Like they never saw anyone taking a picture before. Sheesh.
Here’s a shot of me and Natalie:
I’ll give her credit on this trip, not many ladies are willing to follow their boyfriends around baseball stadiums for entire days on vacation. So thanks. Lastly, here’s my overall assessment of Tropicana Field:
C. It’s ugly, it’s large, in the middle of nowhere, and most importantly, I didn’t snag any balls.
- 0 balls snagged at this game 😦
- White Sox record when I attend: 1-0
- Tampa record when I attend: 3-6
My next post will be on the 7/21 Met game I attended. Thanks for reading.