The weather was rough and so BP was cancelled… this is the worst news that a ballhawk wants to hear. I even got to the park early, knowing very well that it was 95% likely to be cancelled, but not wanting to face reality. This made it super hard to keep my perfect 2012 season going. I had at least one ball for every game in 2012, but I told myself (after seeing that no BP was going to take place) that it was going to end tonight. It wasn’t my fault, just not good luck in the weather department. I still wanted to see the game, Jim Thome was back in town!! I was hoping he’d homer, even though he’s on the other team, because how many people can say that they witnessed someone’s 600-and-something-eth homer? Not very many.
Even though I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to get a ball tonight, I still was holding on tot he hope that I had a chance to score one. I used my patented ‘nice seats switcheroo’ and my wife and I ended up in the 1st row of section 5. This is PRIME toss-up territory. Only a few seats over in section 4 and section 6 do I see anywhere that gets more toss ups. And these are the stories of how I turned rain into baseballs…
Ball #1: RELIEF. I had done it. I got a ball at a game that I should probably had never gotten a ball from. The only was I was going to score one was a gamer, and those are tough to come by. Remember how I said that I had talked to Trevor Plouffe and few times in previous entries? Well, the interaction paid off once again, and this one was incredibly special. First of all, in this game both Trevor and Jim Thome DID in fact hit a home run (Jim’s HR ball would not be unearthed until the next day!). This ball was used by both of them! It was a toss up from Trevor, who had caught Shane Victorino’s pop-up in foul territory to end the 1st inning. But how is Thome involved? Well, whenever I am in toss-up areas I make sure that once there are 2 outs I track each ball used, just in case it’s the last one used in that inning and ends up in my glove. Just before Victorino’s pop-up Jim Thome was at bat, and what did he do? He walked for the 1,731st time in his career. That put him 2 behind Mickey Mantle on the all-time walk list (as of the time this is typed, he is now tied with Mickey for 7th all time). I am so glad I paid such great attention and could track such a cool piece of history like that. I know I save these for the end, but THANK YOU Trevor!! That was just AWESOME. Two of my favorite players involved in such a semi-historic ball.
Ball #2: This one came from no-where. I talked about the Alex Burnett ball that he was just trying to give away, well this one was close to that. It’s not often that a gamer is tough to give away, but when people are paying attention to the game and not looking for a slow-roller on top of the dugout being tossed up by a player on deck, you get a freaky situation like this. Justin Morneau was on deck when a 1-1 pitch to Josh Willingham was thrown in the dirt (wild pitch) by Joe Blanton and Joe Mauer advanced to 2nd base. The ball was tossed in towards the Twins dugout and usually the ball-boy retrieves it and gives it to the authenticator. This time it all happened a bit delayed, and so by the time Justin received the ball play had resumed. Rather than toss it to a person, since everyone was staring at the pitch, he tossed it lightly on the dugout roof and I heard it and saw it out of the corner of my eye. It rolled past everyone in section 6, then everyone else in section 5, and finally fell right in front of me in the very last seat of section 5. There were probably 20+ people that it rolled past, but no one saw and no one made a move for it. Just like that I had TWO balls in a game that I was ready to say I broke my streak.
Thank you Trevor Plouffe!! I cannot say it enough. You have been super great to me and I appreciate everything! The ball you tossed me truly feels historic and of great importance. A Hall of Famer reached base on this ball!! A Hall of Famer that is incredibly nice and hit his 600th homer with my home team! Wow!! Thank you also to Justin Morneau. You were a little sneaky just tossing up a ball like that. No one expected it, and I was lucky to be in the right place. It’s cool to have a ball that advanced Joe Mauer (2012 Twins’ All-Star) and was pitched to the Hammer (Josh Willingham). Willingham should have been an All-Star this year as well, so these two balls have some huge names attached to them: Jim Thome, Trevor Plouffe, Francisco Liriano, Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau.