Forgive me if I start to ramble or if my writing seems overly dramatic or even scatterbrained, I am coming off a Rocky Mountain High. I know no other way of putting it other than “perfection at a ballpark.”
Let me rewind to the night of the 3rd. We (my parents, wife, and I) pulled into town around 5 pm and got settled in at our hotel before heading over to get something to eat (check the next blog post where I describe all things NOT baseball). I had originally made a deal with someone on Craigslist for 4 tickets behind the Rockies dugout and had paid them via PayPal with the agreement that we would meet in Denver the night of the 3rd. I got a little worried when i tried to email the seller and heard nothing in return. Finally, as we were heading over to the restaurant, I get a confirmation that they were willing to meet at 11:30 pm – a bit late, but oh well – and I would have my tickets in hand. Within 15 minutes of confirming, I get an email from PayPal saying that I had been refunded my money, but no notes or further communication from the seller.
I was panicking! Seeing real mountains for the first time was the biggest reason for visiting Denver, since I had wanted to since I was 12, but since I was in a city with a Major League Baseball stadium, and commemorative baseballs were potentially being served, I had another HUGE priority. To cancel and not communicate with a person who drove 14 hours to see a baseball game and do it the night before the game, for the biggest selling game of the season, is an incredibly cruel trick to pull.
I scrambled and tried looking for tickets on StubHub and even the Rockies’ site, but there were either none to be had or the prices were so far out of my budget that I couldn’t even try to justify it. I slept horribly, and it started to turn my vacation (and my wife’s vacation) sour.
After waking up, I checked Craigslist – the very source that put me in this mess. It was my last resort. Then I found an ad for 4 tickets together, section 142, row 6… this person wanted $75 for these $30 tickets (season ticket holder prices), but the fact that these tickets could have easily brought in over $100 on StubHub made this person my hero. (Thanks Brian! I doubt you are reading this, but you get a double shout-out, here and at the “regular thanks” at the end.)
So that was the not-so-perfect part of the baseball experience in Denver. I am happy to report that my fortunes reversed for the rest of my time as a Rockies fan. How so? Well let me number the reasons:
- Beautiful stadium
- I snagged a couple balls
- I SNAGGED A COMMEMORATIVE!
- The experience (and game) was exciting and fun
- I got some free stuff
So take a wild guess how the rest of this blog is going to shake down… Yep, you guessed it, I’m going to go by the list above.
Coors Field – A Fine Looking Stadium
After picking up the tickets, finding a cheap Rockies hat, and getting some lunch, we made it to the field at about 2 pm. I don’t think my parents realized just how crazy about baseball I was, but when we arrived 2 hours before gates, they got a crash-course. For about a half-hour or so I walked around the outside of the stadium, shot some pictures, and just tried to get a general feel for the stadium.
Then I decided to go down to “gate E” and start playing the waiting game. Being that it was the 4th of July and a sold out game, I did not know what to expect as far as lines and general attendance issues. I was told by multiple people to get to the stadium early, since it was going to be a hot game. As it turned out, you don’t need to be that early; an hour before gates would have still left room for pictures and the first spot in line.
It was my spot as “first in line” that garnered me my first ball at Coors Field – the “furthest West” ball of my career… but I don’t want to get ahead of myself, that story will unfold soon enough.
After talking to a nice couple from Utah – though originally from Dallas – the gates finally opened at 4 pm, sharp. I was smart enough to grab a “A-Z Ballpark Guide” and get a good reference of what the inside the gates, where I needed to head, and what my plan of attack should be…
Snagging Some Baseballs
After scanning my ticket – which proved to be legit, quelling the worries of our entire group – I ran, was told to walk, and fast-walked (like an Olympian) to the first section in the left-field bleacher area. Once in that section i started scanning the aisles in hopes that I would stumble across an Easter Egg or two. It was finally upon the 6 row that I found the lone egg (with one person breathing down my neck to try to snag it before I could). Woohoo! I was on the board and quickly rolled the ball around to see if I had a commemorative as well (it was the Rockies batting after all)…
Sadly it was just a regular old baseball. I say sadly somewhat sarcastically and somewhere genuinely. I REALLY wanted to get a commemorative, it was the biggest reason why I chose Denver for 2013. But I was somewhat relieved that it wasn’t, because it meant that I could go for another ball. Why would I have stopped after one? Well, I made a promise to my wife that I would stop ballhawking once a commemorative was in hand. With my parents along and my wife taking time off for a vacation, I thought it would be kind of rude to just ignore them and chase after baseballs. What is an extra dozen regular old balls compared to taking photos and hanging out with your family?
After picking it up and getting into a decent position, the Rockies worker in the “special front row area” said that she normally hops over and grabs the balls in order to toss them back, but Michael Cuddyer had just hit that ball as the gates opened, so she let it be, knowing that in a few seconds someone else would pick it up.
The Story of the Rockies 20th Anniversary Commemorative
Here’s where dumb luck meets “best possible scenario”:
During the Dodgers’ BP I decided to head over to the Rockies dugout. I knew that the Dodgers probably had little to no commemorative Rockies balls, so I was not interested in snagging a “plain ol’ ball”. I positioned myself around the Rockies’ dugout; the first spot was just down the line from the dugout, towards right-field, and the final spot was directly above the Rockies dugout.
Side-note: Did you know that you are NOT allowed to stand within the first 5 rows behind the dugouts? It extends from the end of the Rockies dugout all the way behind home and to the end of the visiting team’s dugout. I missed Target Field’s loose restrictions compared to this odd “yellow line rule”, but oh well.
I had brought a sign that had said “Roadtrip: 880 miles to see my 1st Rox game. Go Cuddy!” with the state of Minnesota in silver behind the text. I was hoping to use the sign to get Michael Cuddyer’s attention, but knew it could potentially work on any player. So when a ball from the Dodgers’ BP ricocheted off the pitching screen and towards the Rockies dugout I grabbed my sign and hoped that the photographer would look back and toss me the ball as I waited for Cuddy to come back onto the field. I even made some noise, but the man didn’t even look at me and tossed the ball to a coach.
Still holding the sign, I noticed that a Rockies player (who was oddly still in the dugout, and who I had tried to flash my sign from spot #1) had turned around and was looking at me. I made sure he saw my sign and then flashed my glove and made motions signalling that I wanted a ball. The player (who I was unable to identify) obliged and started looking for the nearest ball. That’s when it happened, a huge bit of good luck, there were no balls easily accessible. So the unknown player turned to the only other player in the dugout with him and motioned for a ball. I had already seen the bag full of game-ready balls on the steps, so I knew that I had a chance of getting one of those.
The other player tossed this generous Rockie a baseball who immediately tossed it to me. Within a split second of release, I noticed how it appeared to be mud-rubbed, not pearly-white like most BP balls. I then had a mini-celebration and panic! “Don’t drop this! This is happening! Holy @#$*!” All of those thoughts were running through my head simultaneously.
My parents were right there with me. It was amazing. I was speechless and shaking slightly. My goal had been accomplished; a huge weight was now off my shoulders. Plus, I finally got to catch a baseball at a game with my dad right there with me. My mom had already witnessed me in action during the 2010 Playoffs (Twins/Yankees), but it was my dad who I had gone to the majority of the games with at the Metrodome in my youth. The idea of snagging one baseball had always been in the back of my mind, now it was not only a reality for the 139th time, but a reality I got to share with the person who I attended those early games where the dream had formed.
After taking some photos as a family down by the dugout, I followed up on my promise, my ballhawking for the night was over… and I was not sad at all.
***I nearly forgot: After catching the ball, the worker who was making sure that everyone was behind the yellow line proceeded to ask me to show him the ball. I thought it was strange, and almost thought that he was going to take it and ask the Rockie who tossed it to me to then sign it for me (which I wouldn’t mind, but would rather have it be blank). The usher then told me about how this ball was special because “see, it has a special stamp on it…” I started to listen to him, but I my bubbly-ness and excited mind just blurted out that I knew and that it was the reason why I was here and had hoped for this very ball. I think i shocked him that I, as a Minnesotan, knew about these “special balls”.***
Experiencing Coors Field
After arriving on cloud nine, we headed up to the upper levels in order to get a view of the mountains in the distance and visit the ring of seats that are exactly a mile high above sea-level.
And of course I couldn’t NOT take a picture of my new favorite ball at a mile above sea-level!
We finished up with our photos and sight-seeing from the highest MLB stadium…
…and got a some ballpark food to hold us over for the rest of the night.
I have decided that I will purchase souvenir cups from each stadium I visit in order to have the coolest set of “glasses” in my eventual mancave. Who wouldn’t like to drink out of a cup from a stadium thousands of miles away?
In the hurry to get the food, my dad and I were not in our seats for the national anthem, but I was able to sneak a quick photo of the huge flag they had for Independence Day.
The last part of the pregame ceremonies included the lineup introduction. Needless to say, we all cheered a bit when Michael Cuddyer was named the clean-up hitter. He was a very nice guy for the 11 years that he was in Minnesota, so there was nothing but positivity whenever Mr. Cuddyer was involved/mentioned.
In a bit of poetic form, Cuddy put the Rockies ahead (4-2) with a 2-run double in the bottom of the third…
After walking around for an inning or two, snapping photos like these:
Michael Cuddyer put the icing on top of his “MVP of the game” performance by sending a 97 mile-per-hour fastball into the bullpens in right field for a solo HR in the bottom of the 7th. Perfection! The one player that our family was rooting for was the player of the game. How cool is that?!
As if I needed anything more than my super-cool-awesome commemorative baseball, I brought in another cool souvenir from the game, with a little bit of help from the other side of my sign. On the flip side of the “Roadtrip” sign was a simple message that said “Toss it here, please?” I originally planned on using it in conjunction with the first side when I was ballhawking, but never needed to actually use it. So when the sling-shot-t-shirt-launchers came around I finally had a use to this greedy-yet-polite sign. When one of the girls stopped launching t-shirts and started throwing them to the closer rows, I put my sign into action and got this:
I have received free shirts at many different stadiums for numerous sports, and all of them have had a sponsor of some sort on them. So when I opened it up and found that it was strictly a Rockies shirt that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the team, I was ecstatic!
I had posted some links to the fireworks in my previous blog post, but I was not quite ready for just how awesome they really were in real-life. I have a few photos and a video of the action, but even those do not do this show justice. Quite simply put, it not only CRUSHED Target Field’s show, it was called, “The best fireworks show I’ve ever seen,” by my dad. My wife said that the only show that trumps it in her experience was the one she saw for Bastille Day over in France – that was a show that involved an old castle and a bridge over a river in a foreign country as the backdrop (and my wife loves France, so there is also that).
So there it is. My entire trip to Coors Field, wrapped up in less than 3,000 words. It was everything that I could have hoped or asked for AND MORE! Coors Field may have been my tenth stadium I’ve visited (9th team, since I’ve seen the Twins at both the Metrodome and Target Field), but Coors is near the top in my book.
- Jael – thank you for not getting too frustrated with me when I panicked early on about the tickets. Thanks for also going to yet another stadium with me. This was stadium #9 for her – and she’s a non-baseball fan.
- Parents – thanks for going and committing so much of your time on a vacation to a baseball game.
- Rockies Worker (ball #1) – thanks for not picking up this ball! Hopefully Cuddy was the person who hit it out, too. If it was him, then it’s just all too much to handle.
- Denver – thanks for providing a beautiful backdrop. Your downtown looked very nice behind the stadium, and the mountains in the far distance are simply amazing.
- Fireworks engineer – nothing but slow claps. WELL. DONE.
- Brian – thanks for helping me out with 4 great tickets to the game. Sure, you made some extra cash, but we had a relatively decent deal PLUS a great view of the game and fireworks!
- Unknown mystery Rockie – I do not know your true identity, though you looked kind of like Dexter Fowler, but as I do not know my Rockies very well, and I could not get close enough to more definitive features, you will go down in history as the coolest mystery dude.
PS: Bonus points if you can help me identify the guy on the right. He is the nice mystery dude, and the guy on the left was the one who got the ball from the magic “game-ready bag”.
***EDIT: The guy on the left appears to be Walt Weiss’ son Brody Weiss. Brody was drafted by the Rockies this year. I pieced this together while looking at Rockies’ 2013 picks. i knew that the Twins had some of their picks visit Target Field once they signed, so I started with that hypothesis. I then saw that one was Brody and decided to take a look at some photos… which is a decent match from what I can remember and based on hairstyle. Add on top of those facts that a bunch of the Rockies players and coaches had their families at the game and you have an even better case for the match. Now who is the guy on the right?! Might it be Stu Cole, Jr.?***
PPS: All photos are edited using Instagram, though all but one per day were deleted and used solely for this blog. Check out my project on my Instagram page and follow me (I’ll follow back).
PPPS: I know, this “PS” business is getting out of hand, but please look out for my next blog post that details the rest of my trip to Denver. I’ll have another video that I shot as well as MANY more photos – from shots taken on the road to shots from the summit of a 14,000+ foot mountain!