My first blog post on the day of hawking!! I guess that’s what happens when you catch up on 37 balls in about 3 weeks. I found out, nearly the hard way, why Sundays at Target Field are probably the worst days to try to hawk. Since the kids are out of school, that means that they all come to the park early, seeking autographs and having their sugar-filled fun at the ballpark. Good for them and good for the parents. Since the temps were in the upper 80s and 90s the whole time this meant that their energy levels fell rapidly, but that’s besides the point. The Twins are great autograph signers on Sundays, they had 2 guys signing in the stadium, and then add on top of that more than half-a-dozen other guys that all signed by the 102-103 corner all the way down to the dugout. No wonder why they attract so many kids.
No as for hawking, the abundance of kids in an already BP-less day-game make it nearly impossible to snag a ball. There are only about a two dozen or so balls used between both teams during warm-ups, and then another couple dozen toss-ups in the game down by the dugout… your odds are low, even with good strategy behind you.
I was “getting antsy” as my wife put it. She went to the game with me (and will also be going on Friday down to Kansas City), and she could tell that I was trying way harder than usual, all to no avail. Finally, in the bottom of the 5th I got what I was trying for, a gamer! I was on the board, I knew that getting multiple balls would be incredibly tough, and I was just looking to extend my streak, so my goal was accomplished. Also, with that ball, I passed Zack Hample for the lead on mygameballs.com for the most balls snagged at Target Field! Excellent! I found myself again right behind the dugout, and when Darin Mastroianni failed on a bunt, pushing it off the end of the bat and bouncing into Drew butera’s hands, I knew that this was my shot. I yelled at Drew as soon as I saw that he successfully hauled in the ball from behind the dugout fence. He was only about 10 feet to my left and so I stood up quickly and flashed him my catcher’s mitt. I like to think it was the brotherly “catcher’s bond” that helped me out on the ball (maybe it as because I was the only one who followed the ball and shouted, but that’s besides the point).
Here’s my wife modeling the ball.
I will describe my second ball shortly, but I have two tangents to cover:
1. I said that I never have given a ball away before. Well, that all changed today. I ended up giving it to a little girl (who had tried for 7 innings and could not be seen over the dugout). Her guardian was so happy and excited, but the girl wanted nothing to do with the ball. She was beyond shy, but when i told my wife about it she could relate when she was that age. My wife (Jael) told me that she was scared of grown men as a child and if a stranger would have given here a ball when she was that young she would not have taken it from me either. Don’t get me wrong, both my wife and the little girl would have loved the ball and after it was all done they’d enjoy it, they are just super-shy kids. So that made my day. The ball was a 3rd out toss-up by Joe Mauer in the 7th inning (I believe). I WILL NOT COUNT IT, THOUGH. My totals are for my balls that I bring home. I chose to do this for the first time because I knew that at her age (with her shyness) she would not remember me, and it also just made me feel good. Little boys have louder voices and are more willing to go nuts for a ball; I’ll help the ones out that are very young and trying really hard, but for the most part, most boys don’t need my help. This girl did though, and I believe that if karma existed, it’s what brought me my true second ball of the day.
2. I picked up a fish-eye lens for my camera; it’s just a cheap little adapter, but I figured I might be able to get a couple cool shots of KC from my beautiful angle directly behind home. I tried out the lens here at TF and the results were not terrible (again, it’s just a cheap adapter, so nothing crystal-clear and mind blowing, just a new dimension). here’s the result:
Alright, now that all of the side-talk has been covered, let’s get back to the second ball of the day (not the middle ball/ball 1.5 given to the little girl). In the bottom of the 8th, the Twins had just struck out twice (Morneau the last victim) when the A’s went to their bullpen for a better match-up to go against Trevor Plouffe. They brought in Evan Scribner, and as he was getting towards the end of his warm-up a ball rolled through the on-deck circle and Ron Gardenhire came out to retrieve it. He quickly picked it up and walked back down the steps and into the dugout. He took it usually position, leaning up against the fence just a few feet from the dugout steps leading back to the on-deck circle. As he was rolling the ball through his hands he looked around a little bit. I was still standing up (drying my sweaty back, sitting down was only making it drip more) and as he scanned the audience, with a ball in hand, I flashed my glove and waved my hand towards him. He nodded towards me, went deep into the dugout and then reemerged to about where Drew Butera tossed the ball to me. Gardy looked at me again, as if to say “Ready?” and then tossed it into my catcher’s mitt. SCORE!! Two balls in one day, one INCREDIBLY difficult day. Plus, they’re two gamers! (Well, technically gamers, this last one is a weird one, since it was a warm-up ball, but it came from the umpire’s bag and is definitely game-rubbed.) I didn’t get a photo of this one at the park, but here is an example of the notes I take on my iPhone:
The notes function helps me out SO much! I love using this to track balls. I can just put the basics and quickly look at the scoreboard to get all the situational info as I take down my notes. I try to get at least who it came from, where I was sitting/standing and then if it’s a gamer, what was the situation that forced it into my hands (on the 2nd out I will follow the ball, even if it means multiple batters).
It might also be worth noting that before I got my first ball from Drew Butera, i also had another chance from Joe Vavra. He made eye contact with me and rolled one on top of the dugout, but it ended up dropping 3 people short (the 2 next to us weren’t even supposed to be sitting there). And before that even happen there was a high pop-up that ended up bouncing off the top of the dugout, about 12 feet to my left. My wife was sitting on my left, and I though it was going to drift, but it didn’t. It was too late, once I got past my wife I figured that the one lady about 5 seats down would be reaching for it, so I kind of gave up. Nope, she was sitting the whole time. DAMN! The ball hit inside the Twins logo and took a funny bounce backwards and into the middle of section 6. Oh well. The would have been my first ever gamer caught in the air (no toss-up). It’ll still happen someday.
My thanks go out to many Twins members. Thank you to Drew Butera for putting me on the board and prolonging the streak. Thank you Ron Gardenhire!! I know that the season isn’t going as planned, it’s a continuation of 2011, but thank you for still trying to give back to the fans and making some of them happy (even if you cannot get the W every time). Thank you also goes out to Joe Vavra. I know that I didn’t get the ball, but thanks for trying. Read what I wrote to Gardy in the last couple sentences, this also applies to you. Lastly, thank you to my wife for having patience with me and putting up with me, the hot weather, a baseball game, and the stress of our vehicle craziness (repairs ain’t cheap, that’s all I’ll say about that).