I write this with a heavy heart, as I must inform you that the 2012 Twins home season has cover to an end. There will be no more baseball played in Minnesota by a professional team until April 1st. However, there is still one more story to tell, one more game to recap, and three more balls to write about. (Or is it four? No, it’s 3, but in the shape of 4.)
First of all, I want to say hi to Dack and his son Logan. I didn’t get to meet up with them this time, but here’s hoping that we cross paths in 2013. I wish you guys could have snagged a ball, but I understand that you got to talk to Phil Coke and get an autograph, so all is not bad. I had a few back and forth emails with Dack who had requested some tips for ballhawking at Target Field. I tried to give him my best pointers, but between no BP, kids’ appreciation day, and minimal warm-ups by the Tigers, balls were a very scarce commodity. In my brief recap of the game, which starts in the next paragraph, I’ll give you a screen shot that shows how close Dack and his son got to what would have been a VERY nice catch.
And let’s roll…
Trevor Plouffe finally did well during a game that i actually attended, going 2 for 3 before being lifted for Jamey Carroll who would eventually score the only run for the Twins on a Pedro Florimón base hit. Liam Hendriks pitched a fantastic game, giving up no runs and pitching 7 strong innings. In the top of the 8th the Tigers would get all the offense they needed in one swing by Prince Fielder. Filder connected for an opposite field homer. (Right Mateo?)
Here is the screen shot of the homer and Dack & Logan circled in red:
Dagger to the heart! A win would have been such a nice way to close out the very shaky 2012 season. Oh well, we’ll save those for next year, when we start needing them in the playoffs!
Now onto the ball portion of the show…
Just going to cut to the chase right now. Today’s MVP in the ballhawking sense was the bat boy for the Twins. He was the one who hooked me up with every one of my 3 balls for the day. The first ball was a ball he went into the clubhouse area to get and it appears to be a gamer from one of the previous games. It is mud-rubbed and has a dirt blemish that probably took it out of commission. I got this ball shortly before the on field festivities took place (National Anthem, Twins warm-up, and Mascot hoopla).
I forgot to take a picture of it, so here I am with it in my seat:
As the players came out of the clubhouse to get ready for warm-ups, they were greeted by a small group of employees that handed them a pen and a baseball. It turns out that the baseballs were not regular “Officially Licensed Major League Baseballs” but Tee-Balls. I am assuming that they used tee-balls because they are bouncier and would do slightly less damage if you were pelted by one. I understand the legal implications of purposefully throwing regular balls into the stands and causing an accident, but come on! Oh well, it’s not often that someone can say that they caught a tee-ball at a pro game.
My tee-ball came from Trevor Plouffe. As I was hanging around the dugout, just snapping some photos and watching things unfold, he came out, signed, and then right away said to the employee, “I found my fan.” He then tossed it to me and I was surprised, since I was not expecting it, let alone that quickly, since everyone else was holding on to their tee-ball for when they would all throw them. (See my thank you list later on, I’ll cover Plouffe a little more).
So here it is:
And a collage to show all angles:
How cool and fun is that?! A tee-ball signed by my favorite player along with a message and a smiley-face. My wife thinks I should count it, if only for the smiley-face alone. However, as it is not an “official ball” it counts as a cool piece of the game/souvenir, but not in the ball standings. So how about a compromise? This is ball #78.5T, since it’s in between 78 + 79 and a Tee-Ball.
**EDIT: I almost forgot, as I was wondering what I was going to do with this ball (display with collection of balls or Plouffe stuff?), my wife made an excellent recommendation… This would be a great addition to a kid’s room. So I guess that if we have a little one, they already have ball #1 for their collection!**
I went over a couple of times to take photos by the Twins dugout. One of those times was during the 4th inning. With Joe Mauer on 1st, Justin Morneau came up. On the pitch before Morneau was retired, he was thrown a ball in the dirt. This ball was then tossed over to the Twins dugout and into the hands of the ball boy. He had seen me taking photos a couple of times and so he tossed me the ball. Excellent!
After the game I was once again hanging out by the dugout. I wanted to give one last cheer and take my last photos. Right before the game ended, the bat boy picked up a couple of foul balls and put them aside. Once the game went final he handed out those balls before cleaning up the on deck circle, picking up the bats, and leaving the dugout for good. Right around the same time I had called out to Alexi Casilla and asked him for something in Spanish. Pedro Florimón was in the same area and heard me, smiled, and tossed over his batting gloves to me… but they fell short. So he asked the bat boy to pick them up and hand them to me. I ended up getting one and so did someone right next to me. Not a shabby way of closing out the year, especially since Pedro was the one to drive in the only run for the Twins.
In my last post I mentioned that I needed to receive ONE comment in order to post some pictures of the Champions Club. Now, i could claim that I am holding strong on that comment, but the simple fact is that I do not want to take that long to upload them and then write even more about the photos. Instead of attaching them to this entry I have decided to hold the photos for a “hiatus period” post. Since the off-season is long, and I need subjects to fill the time, I’ll make the Champions Club experience a post of its own.
Back to the baseballs. Here’s a group shot! Say “glove!!”…
How about some notes?
My last thank you list for a 2012 game: (Idea: I’ll probably do a single post of nothing but “Thank Yous” for Thanksgiving.
Good GREAT idea, Tony!!)
- Twins’ Bat Boy – Thank you for everything this game! you personally handed me everything other than the tee-ball. Add that to the HR ball that Ackley hit and you were a huge player this year!
- Pedro Florimón – Thank you for the glove! This was the 2nd item (a ball being the other) that I have received for knowing “un poco español”.
- TREVOR PLOUFFE – I know that I do this nearly every post, but it’s only because he’s a generous guy. I know that this isn’t the year the players and fans were hoping for, but I am happy to be a fan and season ticket holder because of players like Trevor Plouffe. It’s nice to have decent guys to root for, and not Yankees with salaries only eclipsed by their egos.
- Terry Ryan – Thanks for the conversation in the parking lot. I’m glad that I got to ask you about the positives that you saw, instead of the season ticket holder call which focused on the negatives and starting pitching.
- The entire Minnesota Twins team – They are a cool bunch of guys and nearly every single one of them were responsible for me snagging a ball this year. When I go back and do my stats I will have to see how many different Twins had a hand in my collection.
- Rawlings – After all, they do make the baseballs that we chase after!
- My wife – Thank you for going to the games with me, even when I’m a bit crazy. It was nice to be in the luxury seats and I know that you enjoyed the free ice cream and Mountain Dew (it’s the simple things in life). She also listens to me rant about baseball and has picked up on a few things when it comes down to mechanics, strategy, and front-office stuff.
- Lastly, you, dear reader – You may even be one of the people listed above, if so, “Double Thanks!” I am not trying to build my ego here, but it is always nice knowing that there is at least one other person out there that wants to listen to my stories. I hope you share your stories as well!
P.S. Negative thanks go out to the two idiot drivers that nearly killed each other as well as others on the road as we headed to the game. It was on highway 100 by the Target in St. Louis Park at about 10:30 am. I understand, it sucks being cut-off/someone drifting into your lane, but please, do NOT speed up and cut off the guy on purpose and then force him OFF the road. If you have this much rage, you have issues. But it didn’t stop there, they proceeded to do this to each other a couple more times and they were swerving over 2 lanes and pushing each other off the road and slamming on their brakes and racing up to about 80 mph, all at random. You could have honestly killed someone. Let’s think about that, shall we?