Fear not, this is not the penultimate blog post ever, just of me chasing baseballs during the 2013 season. Since the Twins have been mathematically eliminated since 2011, I have no post-season games I can reasonably attend. Oh well, if the farm system develops like the “experts” say it should, Minneapolis should be home to at least a few playoff series before 2020.
I might as well get this out of the way. Here was my semi-artsy “Photo of the Day.” Instagram, blah blah blah, you know the routine…
I arrived at the gates just before they started letting in people for the early BP. This was my second day in a row of doing this event, and I cannot wait until next year when it opens up to any STH as many Monday-Thursday games as you want! I am curious if it will be restricted to certain sections still, or if we’ll be free range chickens. Mateo caught me at the gates, so we caught up and he waited in line with me – kind of by accident, but the “plan” worked, since he got to jump in with the group and join me in preventing “Waldo” (a local, troubled ballhawk) from getting a ball while waiting outside of the gate.
Here I am – as proof:
Looks like me. Gotta have my lucky catchers mitt ready; in fact, I didn’t put on the other glove (infielders) for even a split second at this game.
As a fair warning, the Twins BP portion was very uneventful, as Mateo caught maybe the only homer that landed in right field. Needless to say, I had to get on the board with some toss-ups.
Toss-up number one came from Clete Thomas.
I took the corner spot in section 138 – like Cam had done the day before.
Another toss-up, this time from Chris Parmelee.
In the photos above (and in the previous days, as well) I try to get the player close to my mitt. Chris, Clete, Ryan Doumit, Oswaldo Arcia, and maybe one or two other guys were taking some fungo hits off of the various parts of the wall in order to get some practice with bounces, so this is why there were an abundance of toss-ups from outfielders.
I’ll get this out of the way now, on the third ball of the day, rather than saying it all 11 times: Every baseball I received today was a “toss-up.” The lack of power, coupled with my positioning led to a catch-free day. Seeing how I love the player interaction more so than the thrill of athleticism on my end, this is OK with me. I won’t lie, I do hope to make at least one more catch this year, but since I only have a Sunday game left, this requires a true foul ball.
Enough of the randomness, back to the actual 3rd ball of 9/26/2013. This one was courtesy of Oswaldo Arcia.
Oswaldo is very fan-friendly, so take note.
Balls #4 and #5:
Just as gates opened I headed down to the Twins dugout area and got the corner spot on the stairs just behind first base. Within 15 seconds of getting down there a ball got away from the Indians’ coach covering first base. The Grounds Crew girl picked it up and tossed it to me (the only person fully paying attention and wanting the ball). She then picked up another ball that she had from some time prior and handed me that as well. Two balls in 5 seconds after spending less than a minute in that area.
Score! Just like that I had passed my total from the previous night.
If you follow me on Twitter I am sure that you were getting sick of hearing this, but as I was at 94 balls before I entered the game that meant that my 6th ball of the day would be number 100 for 2013!
Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined snagging 100 balls in a lifetime, let alone one single season. So when Ty Van Burkleo (coach from the Indians) hooked me up with this otherwise not-so-special ball, I was ecstatic!
Sure, it’s just a plain old batting practice ball, but it not only has character, but it has a STORY!
Standing by the Twins dugout, I got Eduardo Escobar’s attention and asked for a ball (in Spanish) and was hooked up with a nice mud-rubbed gem from the game ball bag. Though it does not technically count as a game ball in my bucket, it’s still pretty cool.
If you want to talk about fan-friendly, Eduardo Escobar might be the friendliest. He is so positive with both his teammates and the fans that you can’t NOT like him.
Still hanging out by the dugout, I flagged down Pedro Florimón, and much like Eduardo, he hooked me up with a ball and a smile. Pedro had this ball already, probably from his warm-ups, and since I was paying attention to Trevor Plouffe who was making a few last minute tosses, I was not able to get a picture of the ball at that exact moment.
So instead of photographing it nicely staged like the others, I decided to give you a teaser for another blog entry idea I have – how I store and catalog the collection. I’ll give you a hint, it involves plastic sandwich bags.
Within about a minute of me getting the ball from Pedro, I watched Señor Plouffe’s last warm-up tosses and as he came in to the dugout I did a quick shout and was one away from double digits!
Much like the Florimón ball, I didn’t get a photo right away, but after the national anthem you technically have to start heading to your seat. So the fact that I got 2 balls after the anthem meant that I was lucky! While I may not have gotten a pretty photograph of the the ball, I did get a shot of it while it was being used by Trevor.
It’s not everyday that you get a photo of the ball being used just moments before you end up with it.
I cannot believe it. I was shocked and so excited when I hit double digits just 2 weeks prior, so when I hit the lottery again at this game I was floored! I say this a bunch, but there are varying levels of feeling like a TRUE ballhawk; proving that it wasn’t a fluke that you got double digits certainly feels like an accomplishment.
In addition to being ball #10, received at a game where I got my 100th in one year, this was also a gamer. As I did not track the exact pitches (because I didn’t think I’d end up with one), I do not know the exact batter/pitch that caused this beauty to be tossed out of the game, but I know that it was a pitch in the dirt that was thrown by Zach McAllister and rolled over to the Twins dugout. Ron Gardenhire ended up with the ball and when the 3rd inning finally ended I asked and received.
Aside: Oh how I wish Gardy would just get his 1,000th win already! He deserves it and is probably the reason why the Twins players are so fan-friendly (see the theme yet?).
I love getting multiple gamers in one game, and it felt like tonight was my night. When Bryan Shaw (who got the win in this game) struck out Darin Mastroianni to end the 6th, I made sure to get Yan Gomes’ attention and hopefully my catchers’ mitt would come in handy.
SUCCESS!! I even offered the ball to a little kid in the next section, but since he already had one he and his dad politely said “no thanks” and gave me a huge smile as they showed off their treasure from Terry Francona.
…And that’s the end… until Sunday, then that is the final end to the 2013 chapter. It’s been fun; as much as I’ll miss it, my plans for blog posts (year review for sure) have me looking forward to pumping up my excitement for 2014.
‘Tis the entire work of my catchers’ mitt on this nearly perfect day. The Twins even fought back, knocked Chris Perez out of the 9th, scored four runs to make it a 6-5 game, but just couldn’t tie it up.
Thanks: (there are many)
- Clete Thomas
- Chris Parmelee
- Oswaldo Arcia
- Grounds Crew person (and the whole team, as you do superb work)
- Ty Van Burkleo – MILESTONE BALL!!
- Eduardo Escobar
- Pedro Florimón
- Trevor Plouffe – Finish strong!
- Ron Gardenhire
- Yan Gomes
- Mateo – Thanks for the company. It’ll be weird saying goodbye for a few months come Sunday.
- Brian Dozier – For taking a quick moment to talk to me before the game. I’ll be cheering for you on Sunday!!