I was in Toronto Sunday. See the tower in the background? That’s the CN Tower, a 1,815 foot concrete communications and observation tower in Toronto. It was completed in 1976, becoming the world’s tallest free-standing structure, and world’s tallest tower at the time. I lost my picture at the moment, but the day before, I was looking down at Rogers Centre through the glass floor observatory. Later that day, we explored Toronto more, and I even tried Indian food for the first time! Anyway, on to the next day: game day –
To make a long story short, I was with my girlfriend visiting her sister in Buffalo. Friday night, I went to a Ranger game where they beat the Sabres 8-4 ;), and when I planned this trip early in the winter, before I even looked at the schedule I decided I was going to do a baseball game in the area, whether it be the Blue Jays, the Buffalo Bisons, or even a Detroit Tigers game if I had to. I don’t normally get to this area of the country, so I wanted to make the most of it. The Jays happened to be home this weekend, but of course the Yankees were in town, so I expected crowds of 45,000 plus. This was in contrast to the crowds of 15-18,000 the Jays were pulling in earlier in the week vs. the White Sox (it seems like I can never catch a break).
I started with my usual walk around the ballpark, taking in the atmosphere and appreciating the architecture around the area:
Here I am with Natalie –
I kept going around the stadium –
And I reached this ridiculous thing they threw up on the side wall:
I kept going, and reached the front (or back, I’m not sure what to call it) of Rogers Centre:
Here, is where the Renaissance Hotel connects to the Center Field windows inside, and you can watch a game from your room. The only person I know who has done this is Zack Hample, and you can check it out on his blog here, here, and here.
I moved around to the area where Gate 2 is. If you ever go to Rogers Centre, Gate 2 is pretty much a little to the left of where the Right Field foul pole would be, to give you an idea. So you can plan your entrances accordingly based on that info. When I got to Gate 2 however, this is what I was looking at:
Ay yai yai. Turns out it was “Edwin Encarnacion” bobble head day, so that plus the Yanks in town didn’t bode well for me from a ball hawking perspective. (Remember when I talked about luck earlier?) On the other hand, I was glad to see the Jays have a full house. I hate seeing teams fail to bring people in. I did, however, notice a much, MUCH tinier line here:
This was Gate 3. (Duh.) When I lined up, I started chatting it up with some locals, and apparently this gate is for people who need an elevator to get up or down to the correct floor. I didn’t know this at the time. Also, there were representatives from Spitz Sunflower seeds handing out free samples. Score.
Now, the game was slated to start at 1:07 (I still don’t get the Toronto :07 start times.). Around 10:58, two minutes before the gates were supposed to open, a crabby Blue Jays “team member” came out and said anyone in this line without a suite ticket was required to move to another line and wait.
No way was I doing that. The lines were backed up all the way to Front Street, and I was really aiming to be the 1st one up to the 200 level for some Easter Eggs. I wasn’t leaving. The two elderly people behind me told me to pretend I had a bum knee (which I kind of do, so it’s not really lying, right? Right?) And that I needed the elevator. I was going to go with that. Most of the people were freaking out because they were worried they wouldn’t get a bobble head. Which, I didn’t care about. When I went inside, they checked my bag, but not my ticket. I quick hopped onto the suite elevators, ran out to the 200 level, and was disappointed to see I wasn’t the first one there, naturally. Here was my view, though:
Here was my view to my left and my right:
I could’ve gone either way. I was torn between going to the 100 level, or staying in the 200. There weren’t many balls being hit, and Darren Oliver and Aaron Loup, shown below, weren’t throwing anything up to anybody. The music wasn’t loud, so I know they heard everyone yelling:
After a good 35 minutes of nothing, a ball got lined but over my head. It was traveling so fast, I had no time to react. It hit off a seat about 6 rows behind me, so I jumped up high for the ricochet but it barely left my glove and landed back on the field. Ugh, I wanted that one. I decided to try my luck in Left:
The competition wasn’t too bad:
…but I just needed something to be hit there. Encarnacion was putting on a show, but he was pulling them down the line. By the time I ran over there, I knew that he would start hitting them where I was at. That’s just how my luck is. Eventually, he was pulling them my way. One was caught by a guy who had to be at *least* 350 pounds in front of me, so I had no chance on that one. The second was hit just to my right, and landed off a woman’s forearm. After that, the Jays headed off:
Welp. After throwing on my Yankee shirt, I decided to head down here for Yankees BP:
…and it was just as slow. David Phelps, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, and Hiroki Kuroda all ignored the ONLY Yankee fan in the area. I’m telling you, I couldn’t believe it, but I was the only one there at the time. Kuroda in particular, it must be a Japanese thing. I’ve struggled with him forever, and he either ignores me, waves, or half-asses a ball underhand that goes nowhere near me. I WILL get a ball from him this season. I even asked him in Japanese last year! Does anyone have a player they struggle with?
As for competition, I was becoming boxed in, and I didn’t like it:
To my left, was a random railing that separated the sections, so yeah, I was pretty much boxed in. Considering my seats were in the 500 level with a packed house expected, I was facing getting shut out.
Travis Hafner then pounded one in my direction, but it hit the warning track and fell just short of my glove on the bounce over the wall and landed here:
Now, before the game, I planned on making my glove ready for the “glove trick,” but my rubber bands broke and I couldn’t get to a drugstore before game time. That’s what I get for not being prepared. There were 3 balls in front of me, but I had no retrieval device.
If you haven’t been to Rogers Centre before, this is how the outfield wall is set up:
The gap there eats up so many homers. If you have a glove equipped with a glove trick, and can use it well, bring it. The security sparingly checks the area for balls every 30 minutes or so.
The Yankees were down to their last few guys for BP it seemed. Just when I was getting ready to accept defeat, I decided I’d wait it out. Then, Lyle Overbay lined one right to me. The trajectory was perfect. The height was perfect. The kid next to me had his glove up. I leaned further in than he did, held up my arm…. And…
Sweet! MY first ever BP homer on the fly! It felt awesome. I knew it’d come sooner or later. Some guy demanded I give it to him even though he didn’t have a glove. Come prepared, pal. I ignored him, and headed out of there quick over to Left Field:
The only guy there, as you can see, was a trainer of some kind, and he’s not allowed to toss balls up, so I just hung around hoping for another homer. BP ended shortly after, so I continued my walk exploring the inside of the stadium now (I do this for new stadiums, by the way. It won’t be like this every post.). I came across the Jays pregame show:
On the right is former MLBer Gregg Zaun. The guy on the left, who knows. It took forever to get around, the concourse was PACKED.
I managed to *sneak* my way down behind home plate and took some photos:
After a while, I got bored sitting there, and walked around more. I stuck my camera through a hole in the batters eye in Center Field and snapped a photo:
Later in the game, a home run went into this area and I imagined myself sneaking under the tarp to grab it.
It was game time, and here is where I was positioned:
Too far away for a foul ball, and after the busy, busy weekend I had, I was too tired to care. I had 1 ball, and I was on the board. To give you perspective of where I caught my home run, I took a shot from my seat:
In the 9th, the Yankees were down to their last out, so I went alllll the way to the last row of seats:
See that thing on the corner? That’s a bay of lights:
Imagine having those seats for a season ticket plan? Woof. I’ve never seen something like that before. How do you see the scoreboard? I guess you don’t. Here’s another cool architectural photo:
Here I am:
If you’re wondering what the “3” is for, I’m planning to attend a game in all 30 stadiums. When I do, I’m taking each photo with a sign number, and making a large collage out of it to hang in my man cave. Cool idea, right? I know. The seats emptied fast, but there was still one guy left in the crowd:
I took a few last photos of the stadium:
And a panoramic photo (which I think came out well, click to enlarge):
And one last photo of Natalie and I. Were so cute, right?
And get this: Look how this clown parking attendant decided to park his car in front of mine, after claiming I didn’t pay him for the spot when I clearly did, then magically gave me a 10$ fine because I didn’t have the parking pass displayed on my windshield even though I asked him and HE SAID NO I didn’t have to:
That’s my car in black. What a clown. Be wary where you park in Toronto. Also, be aware of the immense amount of traffic you’ll encounter if it’s a busy game like this one. Ooof.
- 1 ball at this game
- 5 balls this season
- 86 career balls
- Yankees record when I attend in 2013: 1-1 (36-23 all time)
- Blue Jays record when I attend in 2013: 1-0 (3-7 all time)
I also took a black light photo of the ball Overbay hit to me:
That’s all for now. See you next week at Yankee Stadium for Astros-Yankees. I’m planning on going Tuesday. If I don’t get a commemorative, I’ll be there Wednesday. I hope to get a commemorative ball!
It was game day, and here’s how it started:
I grabbed the Metro North to Yankee Stadium for the DBacks and Yankees. It was my first Yankee game of the year, and I was interested to see how the security was for the game. I kept hearing stories and rumors about how ridiculous it’s gotten, but I was interested to see for myself. When I got off, I noticed the Yankees had put up a tribute for the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy:
Classy move by the Yanks. I headed around to Gate 2, and I was aiming to be the first one in line. And I was: After about a half hour or so, I came across Zack Hample and we hung out until the gate opened. He’s taking part in this charity fundraising through BIGS Sunflower Seeds. They sent him a big bucket of them to try, and I was lucky enough to get a sample from his fist ever bag:
Pardon my lack of excitement. I’ve just been really tired and out of it lately. I’m not sure why. Eventually, the gates opened, yet Zack got to the left field seats before me. I don’t know what my deal is when I enter the stadium, I’m always fumbling with my bag, or ticket, or glove. I have to be better. Anyway…
I ran to left and found myself in front of David Robertson, and some other player I couldn’t identify. A few balls came to him, but he wasn’t tossing much up. There were no home runs getting hit to my area either. A very dull BP, if you ask me. I was disappointed because I had plenty of aisle space, but no reason to run in it: You can see Zack in the picture next to the “ZooYork” sign. I was tempted to run to right field, but A) the Yanks weren’t hitting anything over there, and B) with only 45 minutes until I got kicked out of the section, it wasn’t worth it to run over. After a while, another group of players wound up in front of me: And I got David Phelps to toss me ball #1 on the day: Cool. There was about 20 more minutes of lifeless BP from the Yanks, so after they ran off I headed over to the Arizona dugout:
Now, take a look to the left. See #5? That’s Steve Sax.I asked him if I could have his ball when he was done, and he said no. Later on, he ignored kids and everyone else and fungoed balls from the outfield to the infield. Lame. Since security sucks, I got kicked out of the field seats and ran up to here:
I was hoping a lefty on the DBacks (Chavez, Goldschmidt) would pop one up to me, but nothing happened. I saw Zack catch a few just feet from my grasp, however. BP ended, and I was on 1 ball. I headed over here for the “Harkey”:
During the game, I was bored so I headed up to the highest spot of the stadium:
- 2 balls at this game
- 4 balls this season
- 85 career balls
- Yankees record when I attend in 2013: 1-0 (36-22 all time)
- Diamondbacks record when I attend in 2013: 0-1 (1-3)
I checked these balls for invisible stamps, as well. Only one had a visible stamp:
Until next time…
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!)
It was a bit unexpected and last minute, but I was here early Wednesday morning:
… I was about to board the Metro North with my dad to go to Yankee Stadium for the 2nd time in 2 nights.He hasn’t been to a game all season, plus he was off from work, so what the heck. I don’t normally take the train to the game, but when I got off, I never realized the awesome view of Yankee Stadium you get when you make your way out:
… Turns out a few guys were hitting grounders to Alex Rodriguez. If there was to be batting practice for the Jays after, It was going to be another toughie. Here’s how it looked in the left field seats:
… it was only going to get more crowded. After about 20 solid minutes of Jays tossing, I played the patient waiting game, spotted out Ricky Romero, called his name, and got him to toss me ball No. 1 for the day:
(Romero is the one throwing in the photo.) My dad has never been to a game yet with me where I was ballhawking, so he was amazed at how I managed to get that ball. To my credit, I was the only one who recognized any of the players and actually asked for one. What a concept. Here is the ball in all its beauty:
What a view. I mean honestly, he could absolutely sail one to the left, and I could run over uncontested and grab it. I couldn’t believe for a day game crowd how empty this area was, but I wasn’t complaining. Here was my view down to the bullpen to give you perspective on height and distance, keep it in mind:
Now. Harkey came over, did his usual 4 or 5, then looked up at me. I waved my glove a few times, (I mean really, who else could he look at) and we made eye contact and he chucked it up. It was falling short, and quick. I decided to make a move. I took my right hand, grabbed as much of the stone wall as I could, and lunged over the wall. I would have to estimate that I was at least hanging over the wall up to my kneecaps. I almost over-judged the ball, as it smacked into the heel of my glove. I couldn’t believe it. To date, it was the sickest snag I’ve made. My dad couldn’t believe it. The bleacher section below shown in the photo above gave me a round of applause and cheers. People were high-fiving me, even cops were telling me how nice the grab was. It was a pretty surreal moment.
As quick as that escalated, that’s how quick it died down. So we headed up to our seats. On the way, I noticed the Yankees museum had NO line to get in. I’ve been wanting to check that place out for 3 years now, so we went in quick. Here are a few photos:
Okay. Thanks for getting through that. Of those pictures, we have:
1) the 2009 World Series ring the Yankees received
2) a signed Rickey Henderson ball. The Yankees have almost every signature they could get from the superstars to the mop-up relievers, one on each ball inside a glass case. I picked Rickey’s because he was just an awesome player.
3) A collection of rings the Yankees earned from 1977-2009
4) The model of Yankee Stadium that the Steinbrenners proposed to the city of New York
5) Thurman Munson’s old locker from the Old Yankee Stadium
Here were our seats:
… and got denied a few times. The seats were pretty empty (it was pretty hot out), but nothing was hit my way. The game ended. Jays 8, Yanks 5. Since it was getaway day, the Jays hi-tailed it out of there. However, I spotted one of these bad boys on the wall:
Groundskeeper: “I just gave you one yesterday.”
Chris: “No, you didn’t. That was Zack.” (Sidebar- I was standing next to Zack Hample when he got the lineup card the night before, as you can see here. See? I was there.)
G: “Yes, you did. Why do you gotta lie to me?”
C: “I swear to you, it wasn’t me! I was there, but you gave it to Zack.”
G: “You don’t gotta lie, man, I’m gonna give it to you anyway, but don’t lie to me man.”
…… what the heck?
I wasn’t going to let that ruin my day though. I snagged more balls today with no BP than the night before. And I got a lineup card. Here it is in all it’s glory:
- 2 balls at this game
- 71 career balls
- 9 straight games at Yankee Stadium with a ball
- 13 straight MLB games with a ball
- Yankees record when I attend: 35-22 (9-4 in 2012)
- Blue Jays record when I attend: 2-7 (1-2 in 2012)
I’m thinking of going Friday vs. the Orioles, but I’m not sure just yet.
Another day, another ballgame…
As ridiculous as the Gate 6 lines looked, I headed over to Gate 8 behind center field, and waited about 5 or 10 minutes until I grabbed my “Old School Yankee Pennant” and headed out to left field, which was pleasantly surprising:
Look at all that space. I had so much room to run, but… I just needed someone to hit a ball to me. Chris Stewart came up for what seemed like 20 minutes, and then the Yankees vanished. The Blue Jays came out, and hit nothing that really came my way. I saw a few balls get hit in the section to my left, and some were hit into the bleachers above me. After that, it got really crowded. I’ll save you the time. Kids got toss ups (don’t get me wrong, that’s great – as long as my streak is alive), and nothing was hit towards me. The Jays started hitting towards right field. Until of course, the ushers started kicking people out:
Of course, nothing was hit there. Eventually, bullpen catcher Alex Andreopolous walked towards the warning track with several balls in his catcher’s mitt:
I got him to toss me up a ball. It felt good to be on the board and keep the streak going:
And made my way to the center field cafe area to try and work my magic for “The Harkey”. If you don’t know what this is, refer to my other Yankee Stadium posts, it’s explained there. Here was my spot:
I decided to chill for a bit during the game, and managed to notice this –
Later, Adeiny Heccevarria hit his 1st career homer to right field. And the guy that caught it? …. He gave it back to Right Fielder Moises Sierra in a trade for what was probably a crappy BP ball. For shame. If it was me, I would’ve told Moises that I simply wanted to hand it to him myself.
Moving on… I headed down to here after about the 7th inning:
But nobody hit one out. Yankees won the game, 2-1 in a very quick game for two AL East foes. After the game, I met up with the famous Zack Hample, and talked for a good 15 minutes. We talked a bit before the game during BP, both expressing our hate for Yankee Stadium. He managed to snag the bullpen lineup card and was immediately stoked:
- 1 ball at this game
- 69 career balls
- 8 straight games at Yankee Stadium with a ball
- 12 straight MLB games with a ball
- Yankees record when I attend: 35-21 (9-3 in 2012)
- Blue Jays record when I attend: 1-7 (0-2 in 2012)
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
It 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:
… 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:
I 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:
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:
I avoided trying to go to the field and get a toss up because it looked like this:
I looked over in the bullpen and saw this:
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:
I did take this cool picture of Franklin Morales warming up:
Later, Derek Jeter apparently “crushed” his 250th home run.
I tried every half inning for a toss up, and would not quit. I got Alfredo Aceves to acknowledge me:
in 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….
SA-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:
- 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!
For some reason, it was ridiculously crowded at Yankee Stadium today. Gate 6 was a swarm, so I headed over to Gate 8 (CF Bleachers) and it wasn’t as bad. Have a look:
- 1 ball at this game.
- 60 career balls
- 6 games in a row at Yankee with a ball
- 9 straight MLB games with a ball
- Yankees record when I attend – 33-21 (7-3 this season)
- Texas record when I attend – 0-2 (0-1 this season)