If My Ball Count Were The Doctor, I Just Caught Matt Smith – #11 (8/5/2011)

Let’s start this off the correct way.  If you did not catch the reference in the title, get out!  OK, that was a little harsh, but do yourself a favor, watch some Doctor Who, it’s a great way to spend the off-season.  Much like baseball, Doctor Who has a VERY rich and storied past.  But that is not the reason why I post stuff here, so I will SILENCE myself before you wish to EXTERMINATE me.  (Yes, those were puns, get on it already, you’ll get it!!)

So there I was, finally in the stadium.  I told you I get to games early, well how about getting to a game well before noon when first-pitch isn’t scheduled until 7:10?  That might be insane, and I would almost agree that it is, but August 5th was a special day.  There was, what I consider to be the greatest of all-time, a bobblehead that was to be given away before the game.  It wasn’t just ANY bobblehead, no, I wouldn’t have given up that much time for even a Justin Morneau (or even now a Trevor Plouffe) bobblehead, I was waiting for the T-Rex of them all… Kent Hrbek and Ron Gant for the 1991 World Series!!  You are a baseball fan, so I do not need to explain, the fact that they frozen this moment in time on a bobblehead was classic.  My buddy and I circled this date on our calendars and bought tickets for the game as soon as the tickets went on sale.  Heck, we even planned this day out months in advance, we took time off of work for this!!

The day was fun, we were the first in line at gate 14.  Gates 29 and 34 always fill up quicker and heavier than other gates, and gate 14 is the least crowded of them all.  Plus, gate 14 is directly behind home, so easy access to the dugouts to get autographs quickly.  So we camp out, we talk to strangers, then we talk to some old high school and college acquaintances, and after a while of cooking in the sun and allowing our stomachs to collapse into a blackhole, we decide its time to eat.  We could not wait for a stadium dog, it was only 2 pm.  JIMMY JOHNS!!!

We were preparing to have one of us go over and pick up the food when we realized that Jimmy Johns does actually freakishly fastly (is that a word? no) deliver sandwiches to the stadium!  This was awesome, and so we got a group order together with our college friends wanting in.  Then we waited just a few minutes and had a Jimmy Johns bicyclist deliver us our cold drinks and tasty subs.

SIDE NOTE: If you would like to Jimmy Johns, I will gladly accept any free sandwiches or money in return for doing free advertising and potential commercial spots for you.  thanks!!

Back to Target Field.  We polish off our delicious gormet sandwiches which can be customized to your liking and threw around the ball a little more.  The lines started getting long, but we didn’t care, we were virtually guaranteed of one of these pieces of fine art.

The gates finally opened and we picked up our bobblehead and continued the race to the prime spots.  I didn’t want to fight the dugout crowd, I wanted to go down to the corner by 102/103.  That section always seems to have guys sign during their warm-ups.  I get in a prime spot and end up hooking Anthony Swarzak.

Autograph Canvas through this game:

  • Valencia, Tolbert, Casilla
  • Cuddyer, Revere, Capps, Nathan
  • Oliva, Hughes
  • Pavano (7/6/2011 – Game vs. Rays)
  • Span, Gardenhire (7/9/2011 – Hotel in Chicago)
  • Rivera, Kelly, Gladden, Mauer (7/10/2011 – Hotel in Chicago)
  • Duensing (7/16/2011 – Best Buy)
  • Young (7/20/2011 – Twins Unplugged)
  • Swarzak (8/5/2011 – Game vs. White Sox)

While I waited for action to pick up and guys to start signing, a group of pitchers came over to warm up in right field.  I watched them for a while and was mainly hoping for a signature, but none of them were looking like they had the time.  Then Jose Mijares looks over and shows that he has a ball and is ready to toss it.  I speak up and ask for it, so he tossed it directly to me.  Hey, if I can’t get a signature, at least I got a ball.  Although at the time I would rather have had signatures on my board, and the fact that I was able to get nearly every 2011 player to sign, I would now much rather have a baseball over a Jose Mijares autograph.  Nothing against Jose, but I like the physical ball much more than the pen mark, and I basically got to play a one-sided game of catch with a professional athlete.  See, Jose?  I still appreciate what you did and the fact that you were the one to do it!

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My thanks go out to Jose Mijares.  I liked him as a Twin and he was a very nice guy.  I eventually had him sign the canvas and in the meantime he will always be linked to my ballhawking story.  Thank you to the Minnesota Twins promotion department as well, this bobblehead will be one that I always keep.  Thank you 1991 Twins for not only winning the World Series, but for coming back to MN and celebrating with the crowd at Target Field.  It was great to see all of those players that could come back and make it out for the event.  It brought back some very early baseball memories for me, which is very special.  (Also, thanks go out to Steven Moffat.  Again, if you don’t know, check out Doctor Who!  He’s done a lovely job of keeping things fresh and fun!)

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