New High Score! – Balls 160-170 (September 11, 2013)

To say that I had been dreaming of this game would not be an exaggeration, it was quite literal the night before.  In my dream I began my adventure in some sort of sporting-wear store, selling mainly hats.  As the Oakland A’s were the opposing team, and I had no Athletics stuff in real life, I decided that I NEEDED an A’s hat.  My goal was to find the cheapest hat, but many of them were $30… until this beauty showed up…

fishermanhat

No, it wasn’t this color, the Oakland green and gold were all over this thing – green as the primary background with gold trimming and numerous large A’s logos thrown all over it (some fading, others popping).  This “hat” was $8, to which I decided to swallow my (non-existent) fashion pride in order to hopefully benefit my ball total.

After a few cuts in my dream, I was sitting on 9 balls and wanted #10 so badly.  Luckily I was tossed up a ball from the home plate umpire after the game and there it was, my first double digit game…

But then I awoke, with no double digit games to my REAL credit.  (Ballhawking totals from dreams DON’T count, right guys?  I promise I have stats for them.)

Why was I dreaming of this scenario?  Was there a deeper interpretation?  I do not believe so; this is one of those cases where a dream is an exact manifestation of something you desire.  I knew the A’s were coming, I have always dreamed of cracking double digits, and I have no problem making a fool at a sporting event (heck, an ugly A’s fishing hat would be a cakewalk compared to Bigfoot, Waldo, body paint, etc.).

Gate Time

Remember the previous game I attended?  (The one where Shawn and I got to walk the field.)  Well, we were supposed to get to watch early batting practice, but the temperatures prevented us from getting the chance, since neither team was willing to step onto the molten lava to take a few not-real hacks.  Sure, the field tour was awesome, but it isn’t exactly a ballhawks dream, especially when it takes away from snagging baseballs.  The Twins staff did something great though, they took down our names and rescheduled early batting practice for us (we got TWO special events!), so this game was my “make up” BP.  Since Shawn has long since left town – will he ever be back?  I’m guessing not – this left me with an open space to fill.  Enter Paul.  You know Paul, yes, that Paul.  Not McCartney, not the alien from the self-titled movie, and not Paul Reubens (Peewee Herman), A Piece of the Game Paul!

We were let in at 4:15, an extra 75 minutes of action (!), but here was the sobering reminder when I arrived at the gate early:

P1

A not so subtle reminder of what happened 12 years ago.  We all know the story and all have our own to share (I shared mine last year), but I’ll continue along with the HIGHlights.

Paul and I were giddy and excited to finally enter the gates… and to do some REAL damage.  I told him about my dream the night before and we both started fantasizing about the numbers we’d put up today (But did we ACTUALLY believe ourselves?  Maybe with 30-50% confidence.).

Ball #1:

I was the first on the board with a toss up from my favorite current Aussie on the Twins, Liam Hendriks.  On the .01% that you are reading this Luke Hughes, you are my favorite Aussie Twin of all-time.  Whew, glad I cleared the air before that became an issue.

P2

Since you are only allowed to stay in the right field overhang area during the Twins portion of BP, I thought the number of dingers and toss ups would be quite low, but as you can maybe detect from the large number I posted in the title, that would be false.

Ball #2:

At this point I do not remember where Paul was at; I knew he was on the board, but was he already in the lead?  Didn’t matter, I just got ANOTHER toss up, this time from Ryan Doumit.

P3

Ryan is my favorite all-time Twins player that has used Danzig as his walk-up song.  OK, so he’s the only one I ever recall using Danzig, but that still puts him at #1!

Ball #3:

I’m trying to rattle these off as quick as possible, since I don’t want to get TOO wordy.  Ball number 3 of the day was an Oswaldo Arcia bomb that I had NO business catching.  Arcia hit it well over my head and I thought it was going to clear the metal railing in the photo below.  Instead it smacked the railing, to two funny hops off of chairs and I snagged it as one glove-less gentlemen nearly took a ricochet to the head.

P4

I took the photo of the seats and the area in order to give perspective on this blog, but the people next to me thought I was nuts and insisted on taking a picture of the field in the background AND WITH ME IN THE PHOTO.  If my numbers were more impressive (in the thousands) I would have told them no and explained how this is a long time hobby, but since 160-something just sounds gluttonous I decided to proceed with the photo-shoot.

P5

How is Oswaldo my favorite all-time player?  Well, he is my favorite Twins player who ever had “Waldo” in his first name.  Stretching things thin?  Yes, but there are only a few more Twins balls to discuss, don’t worry.

Ball #4:

Guys, I messed up.  I really blew it.  This should have been my 5th, but I was too busy watching guys in the outfield when another Arcia bomb hit my in the back of my catchers’ mitt.  I was not watching it one bit, so when it came in and I had my glove up (just kind of in a ready position) it smacked my pinky area and fell over the overhang.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Ball #4 should have been a “caught on the fly” ball, but I misjudged my placement in the corner, ran out of room and time to go from basket catch to backhand.

P6

Luckily my new favorite Canadian on the Twins roster (hey, he loves Arrested Development and is environmentally friendly) tossed me the lost prize.  Scott Diamond for the win!

Ball #5:

Once the Twins were done batting we were allowed to roam freely, still about 10-15 minutes before gates opened to the public.  I decided to stick around in right field, while Paul wandered over to left field (he’ll explain his haul on his blog, but let’s just say he was smart for making the move).  I got Jemile Weeks’ attention (and removed my Twins gear earlier, leaving a black tee with a green logo on it).

P7

Jemile is the one laying down on the field.  As I do not know the A’s, though i hope it is them and the Pirates in the World Series, I will not explain how he is my favorite.

Ball #6:

My last ball in right field came off the bat of an A’s lefty who was absolutely crushing the ball.  I don’t know who it was, but he put one well over my head, bounced on the plaza, and luckily got knocked down by the kiosk by the gate.  I grabbed it off the ground for a rather HUGE day…

P8

…all before gates opened to the public.

Ball #7:

After getting my sixth of the day the idea of getting that special double digit game was conceivably turning into a reality in my head.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but given the opportunities that I thought I could capitalize on, I figured this was a reasonable goal – 10 baseballs in one game.

Then the cold streak happened.  I went out to left field and nothing came close to me.  Sure the A’s were dropping a few bombs, but they were scattered all over, not in one easily determinable place.  I started to worry about those double digits and felt it fading away.  Then Ariel Prieto (who was standing with Bartolo Colon in center) acknowledged my shouts and got me to within one of tying my personal best.

P9

I am not 100%, but that might possibly be Mateo in the bright green shirt just above the right field scoreboard (on the edge of the batter’s eye).

Ball #8:

After stalling out for the rest of the batting practice (OK, I guess 7 isn’t that bad) I tried my luck with the bullpens.  Being the only one who knew Casey Chavez’s name (thanks Ryan Dalton!) I was rewarded – along with 2-3 other kids – with yet another ball.

P10

Casey is in the background, getting his gear ready.  Being at 8 made me feel more and more comfortable that my chase could end in success.  I thought I could definitely get a gamer and then hopefully get a Dominic toss up.

Ball #9:

My plan of getting a gamer was an instant success.  I took my actual seat (section 4, row 10, seat 16) and watched Jed Lowrie line out to Brian Dozier to end the inning.  Dozier tossed it to Pedro Florimon, who then tossed it to Eduardo Escobar.  As Eduardo got nearer, I knew that now was the chance, before all the kids pick up on the “get down close trick”.  I shouted his name loudly, waved my arms, and he made eye contact…

P11

Bingo!

Intermission:

After catching the ball I went into the concession area on the first base side, as I desperately needed some water.  On my way out I saw a sad oddity on the wall.

P12

Sadly, Justin Morneau is no longer our “Present” first baseman.  It’s weird saying that and seeing the proof, but it is reality.

After watching a little more (and the Twins were not down by more than 10 runs) a Twins runner was walked.  Since we had scored a run and were looking to rally, the following sign was displayed.

P13

This sign was used in the Metrodome and looked exactly like this on the yellow and black scoreboard.  This was my photo of the day for Instagram, since it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Next, can you find Paul?

P14

I’ll give you a hint, he is wearing a white t-shirt and a green A’s hat (and standing).  Check the mote area between the two lower sections.  Great, now I gave it away.

Then Gardy got tossed out for the 67th time in his career.

P15

Unhappy with the reversal of a call on the field, he had to do something.  His team was down huge and this was the final push that he could give the team.  They did not respond, as the ended up losing 18-3.

Back to the Game:

Ball #10:

Since the game was taking forever (2 hours for 4 innings, thanks to a 10 run 4th by the A’s) the fact that I was sitting on 9 made me twitchy and antsy.  I just wanted to get that magic number ten.  Surely I couldn’t get this close to have it all come crashing down, could I?

Nope.

P16

Dominic, you are THE MAN!

Notice how empty the seats were at this point?  They weren’t exactly full to begin with, but when you can count the number of people in the ENTIRE outfield sections and come up with under triple digits, you know it’s bad.

P17

The good news about this pathetic attendance?  Well, Paul and myself’s totals for one, and Mateo even came within inches on two homers in right field!

Ball #11:

After the game was over I fought off the HEAVY crowds (sarcasm) and tried for one last ball from whoever was handing them out.  Turns out that I ended up pocketing my final ball from Mario in the A’s dugout.  He mentioned something to the effect of, “You try for one EVERY game.”  Fair point, as he walked into the dugout with the last ball in his pocket.  After about 30 seconds of vanishing, he came back out and gave me the last one.  It helped that NO ONE else was there (other than ushers and Mateo taking a photo from above).

(I took no photo of this ball, but there may be a photo of the action that Mateo took posted later.)

P19

 

Ball number 11, making a large arch into my bare hand (see the wall in the RF seats).  Thanks Mateo!  I’m glad you documented it, since I was in such a hurry to get out of the stadium that I forgot (a nearly 4 hour, 9 inning game will do that to you, especially when “your team” lost 18-3).

So there it is, my adventure in just over 2000 words.  If you read all of them, please give yourself a gold star.

P18

No more a haul, this is a horde!  And yes, they are currently being very aggressive towards the other baseballs in my collection.

Thank Yous:

Wow.  This list is going to be long, so I’ll try to group as many people as possible.

  • Oakland Athletics batting practice scouting report:
  • Toss ups:
    • Liam Hendriks, Ryan Doumit, Scott Diamond, Jemile Weeks, Ariel Prieto, Casey Chavez, Eduardo Escobar, Dominic, and Mario.
  • Home run hitters:
    • Oswaldo Arcia and the unknown A’s lefty.
  • Early BP opportunity:
    • The Minnesota Twins and their ticketing staff.
  • Great company and cool friends:
    • Paul Kom and Mateo Fischer
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7 thoughts on “New High Score! – Balls 160-170 (September 11, 2013)

  1. It was my privilege to accompany you to early batting practice. Thanks for everything, It was definitely the highlight game of the year! Congrats on your new record, you came close to Tying the Target Field record too! I’m glad I was there to see your great night ballhawking!
    -Paul K
    http://apieceofthegame.mlblogs.com

    • Congrats on your own record! I don;t want to give it away prematurely, but it’s cool that this game allowed two more members to join an “exclusive” club. Next year I’ll have to get you in early with me with the new STH Twins BP rules.

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