Whenever Robin Ventura comes back to Target Field I get excited. My goal this game was simple, snag a ball or two (like always), but more importantly, go for a lineup card (as these are usually signed by the manager). If you are not a fan of suspense – or just like reading one paragraph instead of the whole entry – let me spill the surprise… Mission Completed!… And then some!!
If you are a frequent visitor of my site (dare I say “reader”), you know that I have made it my mission to take one photo every day for all of 2013. Since I had not been to Target Field since they added the All-Star Game logo on the Metropolitan Club, I chose this as my backdrop:
I never got to see the man play, but I have heard so many pleasant stories about him and how he treated fans (and chose him as my “best player to wear the Twins uniform”), so I decided to frame up the logo in the distance while including Mr. Twin All-Star himself, Harmon Killebrew front and nearly-center.
***As an aside: I still find the logo to be lacking – it seems generic and not as awesome as it could be. However, this does not hinder my excitement and anticipation for the game and all of the festivities that come with it. Nor will the logo detract from my
want NEED for any/all All-Star Game balls.***
So, where were we? Oh, right, the August 15th game, taking place in the year 2013. Sorry for thinking ahead to 2014, especially when I could be talking about a rather exciting game.
What happens when you wait at Gate 34 patiently? Sometimes you get rewarded. I had stood at the gates for quite some time, never once getting close to a ball, but the moment that you let the Season Ticket Holder group in for early batting practice, it starts raining balls. Though i was not part of the STH group that got to witness the BP, I still was able to preserve my “streak” before technically entering the stadium.
Two hops + move a couple steps to the left + stick my glove through the gates = 1st ball of the day
Deja Vu. No more than 5 minutes later, a scenario nearly identical to the one above happened again! The only thing I did differently was subtracting the steps to the left. The balls still took two hops – and should have been caught by a STH, but he poorly judged it – and ended up in my drawstring backpack for safe keeping.
I love how shocked/surprised the gate works and ushers get when you snag a ball or two. They start to talk to you and tell you things as if this was the first time you ever came close to a ball. Many workers want to see the ball, they tell you stories, give you tips, the whole nine yards. Me? I just stand there, smile, and act friendly – if I seem happy and positive, I surely cannot cause any trouble.
Once I entered the gate, I made my way towards left field. I was going to play for homers, since I was already on the board with multiples, but after a never-ending wave of kids came in (turned out that it was some sort of little league day, and dozens of teams came to watch the Twins and snag some BP homers), I decided to wrap around towards the Chicago dugout and gradually get close to Sir Robin Ventura. (Robin is knighted, isn’t he? If not, he certainly should be. Never mind that he has never lived in the United Kingdom.)
And this was only at about 50%, numerous other teams were making there way into the bleachers shortly after. It was an absolute nightmare, especially for the relatively small number of HRs the White Sox put in the stands.
PS: This ball was number 150 of my “career.” I cannot fathom how this happened. OK, I can, but it’s amazing how far I’ve come from the 5 year old that could only WISH for a ball.
After settling in above the visiting team’s dugout – and making sure my Robin Ventura jersey was easily viewable – I caught the attention of Mr. Don Cooper. Don came across a ball that had ricocheted off the pitching screen and into foul territory half-way between third and home. Seeing that I was in a Sox jersey and with a glove on, Mr. Cooper added another ball to my collection.
Towards the end of BP, Mark Salas picked up another ball, nearly identical in location to ball #3 and did the same thing as Don Cooper. Mark saw my jersey, saw I wasn’t a Twins fan and hooked me up. He noticed another smaller (harder to see) White Sox fan and decided to get another ball for the little guy – after I came so close to donating own.
In the background you can see Mark getting ready to toss another ball, this one to the kid I described above.
With about a 2 to 2.5 hour lull in baseball snagging…
I finally snagged my first gamer of the night. It would turn out to be my only gamer, but it was a Clete Thomas double off of Matt Lindstrom in the bottom of the 7th with 2 outs. The ball was rolled back in to the Twins dugout – god forbid that there is a scuff on it – then Ron Gardenhire picked it up, I shouted, and the rest is history.
My plan was to move over to the Chicago side after this and get in a position to ask for the lineup cards, but plans change. The Twins were only down 3-2 after 7 and in the 8th inning they tied it up. Then in the bottom of the 9th, with me right next to the dugout, Chris Herrmann came up and drove in Doug Bernier from second. A WALK-OFF WIN!
I chose my side correctly, as I was able to procure the Twins lineup card and batting practice schedule/lineup (anyone else ever snagged one of these?). No balls from that side, but a decent haul. I was a little bummed about not getting the White Sox card, but I couldn’t be sad with the haul so far AND an exciting finish to a great game!
I saw that Mario (the visiting team’s bat boy) was finishing off his duties, so I raced over to that side in hopes of something. I got over there and shouted his name once I saw that he had a couple balls to give away. I know that he tosses them to kids and girls, even giving me the “no way you’re getting one of these” head-shakes, but after trying to look for worthy recipients and finding that everyone had cleared out, he relented and tossed me my final ball of the night.
There it is, #6 and the lineup cards I scored from Dominic. The ball appears to be mud-rubbed and some sort of gamer, but since I cannot pinpoint the exact moment it left the field, it’s just another non-gamer ball.
Mario returned to the dugout, cleaned up his final spots and flashed a giant lineup card as well as the home and away manager’s lineup cards that they share with each other and the umpire. I. WANTED. THEM.
After a couple times shouting, then flashing my Ventura jersey and professing a little bit of Ventura love, Mario made a dream come true…
The Chicago lineup is even signed (in pen) by Robin Ventura! It is interesting to note that all of the Twins lineup cards I’ve received or seen have all be facsimile prints of Ron Gardenhire’s signature.
So to recap:
- 6 balls
- 3 managers’ lineup cards
- 1 batting practice lineup card
- 1 giant dugout lineup card
- 1 Home Run hit by Trevor Plouffe (into the bullpen, totally uncatchable)
- 1 Twins win in dramatic fashion
….And one bonus picture, for the namesake of this blog…
Thank You Time!!
Thanks to the following for your contributions towards NAMI (and my eventual mancave) – $20 donated from this game alone:
- Justin Morneau? – I am guessing that you are responsible for the two bombs I caught outside of the park.
- Don Cooper – Not the first time you appear in my “thanks log”. You are gentleman and a scholar… of the game.
- Mark Salas – Another good man on the White Sox coaching staff.
- Ron Gardenhire – Thanks for the gamer!
- Dominic – The most famous bat boy in the league? Quite possibly. Thanks for the lineup cards and being so friendly.
- Mario – I know I wasn’t your first choice, but the biggest of thanks especially for the lineup cards!