San Diego Padres 1 – Minnesota Twins 3
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
August 5, 2014
I toyed with the idea of being cruel and underplaying the event and then springing on the HUGE news, but I couldn’t do it. I am so unbelievably excited!!
I CAUGHT KENNYS VARGAS’ FIRST CAREER HOME RUN!!!!!!!
Kennys has been likened to former Twin turned Red Sox potential Hall of Famer David Ortiz, so this is amazing and potentially noteworthy. On top of that, it was my first ever game HR caught on the fly. Ballhawk Shawn is right, the thrill and emotions are undescribable, the energy is intense, and add on top of my first the fact that it was the player’s first… WOW.
But I will dive deeper into that particular ball later on. First off, let’s get the other ones out of the way. No joke, the day actually started off pretty lackluster and I thought i was going to have a down day.
After getting skunked in the Twins portion of BP and nothing to show for my early entry (for season ticket holders), I finally was on the board with a toss up from the Padres’ trainer.
With an onslaught of kids coming into the outfield, I worked my magic by the dugouts. This particular ball was from a trainer/staff member who was helping a coach with infield grounders.
I spotted Rene Rivera and told the former Twin “welcome back” and then asked for a ball. It worked!
Frenchy – Jeff Francoeur – was nice enough to toss a ball the richoted out from the batting cages. This guy seems hilarious; I almost tried to yell at him for a ball and say that I was deaf.
This ball straight from the game-ball bag courtesy of D.
AND NOW, THE MAIN EVENT…
After watching the first inning or two from the ritzy area, I decided to take a crack at the RF plaza area. I knew that Kennys was looking for his first career HR, so he was my main target. After about 5 minutes at the flagpole, I noticed Nate Duppler! We talked for a while and his buddies came over to talk to me and we had a decent time just talking baseball. During our talk, I took this photo on Instagram:
Caption: “Flagpole-sittin’. Great night for a ballgame. Still hoping for a Kennys Vargas bomb and a @twins win.”
That counts as calling my shot, right?
Well, around an hour later, this happened…
For those wondering, here is the exact flight-pathand stats according to “ESPN Home Run Tracker”:
The attention from the fans was amazing and the Twins staff was pretty helpful, too. I knew right away that it was significant, but in now way was I going to be “that guy”. I had philosphized on Ballhawk Talk what I would do with a milestone HR, but never did I dream that I would put it into action… and so soon!
The only person who was a little short and not all excitement was the lady who was the designated “negotiator”. She offered a signed ball right away – and kind of forceful, too. I only wanted a bat, so I went back with that. After a few minutes of waiting for a response on her end, the wish was granted and she took the ball right away and then came back a few minutes later with a bat.
Dang it! I thought I was going to give it to him or meet Kennys! Oh well, those worries would be dashed later.
Here’s the first-person account, in photos, of my experience.
(Photo of me looking totally flabergasted courtesy of Nate Duppler.)
(Photo of me and Kennys courtesy of the valet driver in the Champions Club. Thanks, kind stranger!)
The whole thing was unreal and time just flew. My Twitter-feed blew up, Instagram went nuts, and I even talked to some family members who saw and were catching more and more highlights. The coolest part was that my mom and dad got to see the replays and see me on TV after the game.
So the experience was as follows:
- Catch HR
- Go NUTS!
- Get treated like a celebrity
- Negotiate the trade
- Receive the bat
- Remain in shock
- Go down to my seat
- Get an autographed ball after the game (Thank you, Dustin!)
- Meet Kennys for a photo in the parking lot
- Replay moment in my head a million times
- Tell family and friends (OK, and strangers) about it
There it is, the entire chaotic event. The story may have been written in a confusing fashion, since I am still running on the HR-high, but like any good book, we only care about the pictures, right?
The complete day’s worth of souvenirs:
…And a close-up of the “replacement ball”:
- Two Padres’ Staff Members/Trainers
- Rene Rivera
- Jeff Francoeur
- KENNYS VARGAS!!
- The Duppler Clan – You were a great group to share the gates with and I am thrilled that I was able to have you guys around to celebrate with.
- Dustin Morse – Thanks for helping me with the “replacement ball”. I hope my request was minimal and I feel honored to be a part of something so historic (Kennys will be a beast!).
- Trevor Plouffe – Thanks for the quick recognition after the game. Also, thanks for being on base and making that Twins win possible!
- Family, Friends, Twitterites, and Other Random People – Thanks for all the congrats and sharing the excitement with me.