Kansas City Royals / Texas Rangers – Chicago White Sox / Los Angeles Dodgers
Surprise Stadium & Camelback Ranch – Surprise & Glendale, AZ
February 20, 2016
Well this is a first… I DIDN’T drive all the way to a stadium! I actually flew, on a real life aeroplane; one of them metal sky-beasties. I also lived to tell about it, so here it goes…
Why Arizona? Don’t you normally go to Florida?
Second question first, “yes”. I have made it a habit to attend spring training in Florida for the past few seasons – this will be the season which that streak stops. I chose Arizona (really, it chose me) because I was on a business trip in Las Vegas from Tuesday night until mid-day Friday. I then decided I was “Leaving Las Vegas” and hitting up some spring training workouts and a hockey game.
Would you like to see some pictures from the trip before the baseball portion started? Too bad, because I’m showing them anyway…
Vegan food and vinyl shopping.
Siegfried and Roy and Tony the Tiger.
A view from the drive out to the hole in the ground.
Said “hole in the ground.”
Another photo of a hole (this time a river makes a guest appearance).
Ansel Adams rip-off.
AT THE GATES!!!
First stop: Surprise Stadium
Gates were posted as opening at 10, I got there before 9, and they were opened up around 9:30 or so. At about 9 the Rangers took BP and some balls flew over the fence.
Be warned: Those old guys on bikes are vicious. Pretty much a “no rules” type of atmosphere. I was expecting chilled/laid back, but a couple balls later I was nearly assaulted for a BP spring training HR (that I had my hand on first, and only 3 other people were there for balls). Some choice words were thrown at me and between the fact that none of the balls were AZ commemorative balls and I don;t want to fight, I walked inside after the gates opened. My ball total could have been much higher, but I am not a fan of bleeding for it.
Another BP homer. As the fence only had a couple of holes to see through and the list of players was rather long, I have no clue who hit these.
And yes, that is a 23″ glove I’m wearing. It got some attention and I used it for a photo prop (not regular use).
Enough of that business. I’m going inside the training area.
A coach told me that none of the Rangers BP balls had the new AZ spring training logo, only the pitchers were using those balls (and in his words, they were “gamers”)…
So I went to the pitchers mounds and waited patiently, then told a coach I was looking for one. He was super nice and tossed me this beauty. No lies, the first Rangers coach was telling the truth; mud-rubbed and looking like something that was ready for a spring training game.
There were college games going on around all the fields in Arizona, and this particular day was a match-up featuring the University of Minnesota! I traveled all that way to see a local team after all. This ball was just laying against the fence in the pitchers’ area.
Another coach with a toss. This time a catching coach. “It’s a beaut, Clark! It’s a beaut!”
Those commemoratives are awesome. I’m just bummed I don’t have the FL version… but not too bummed.
By about 10:30 things were nearly done. People were leaving the Rangers’ side and only a few catchers remained before the boot was given to fans. Good news, though…
The Royals’ side was open! And they were still taking BP (or rather, they took BP late). This was a toss-up over the wall by Lorenzo Cain (who appreciated the big glove).
Luck. Luck. Pure luck. My first ever Postseason ball. This ball was nicely mud-rubbed and in pretty perfect “gamer” condition. All the dead leaves and brown rock made this ball blend in perfectly behind a fence. Luckily for me the ball was only a couple feet on the other side of the fence. So I dug a small hole and put my arm under to grab this shocker-of-a-ball.
Over to Camelback Ranch we go…
Not a single player spotted, other than the college teams playing in the big stadium. I still wandered around a little and tried to spot a ball or two. The one pictured above was found in a golf cart parked by the stadium, which was left recklessly abandoned.
The last of the day/trip and the ugliest I’ve received that I could still positively identify as an OMLB. The blue printing can still slightly be made out with “OFFICIAL” and other key letters that make this the worst looking ball in the collection.
I would normally go to “The Haul” now, but the night in sports is not over…
I went to the Arizona Coyotes game and brought the glove. Who knows if it will catch anything, but maybe it’ll stick out enough in my seats ont he glass to make it worth it…
Called it! A practice puck tossed over the glass by the man in charge of the pucks. Thank you, random Coyotes worker!
A closer look.
The seats. No zoom. I was separated from being a Coyote by a quarter-inch of plexiglass. I’ve never been so close to the action. Some of the sight-lines were poor (both corners on the side of the ice closest to me), but the experience made up for it.
This is the first “not on location” video, because of a few things:
- I forgot
- Multiple locations meant I didn’t know my final total
- No games were played (minus a hockey game)
- Rangers hitters – for the first 4 balls
- Rangers coach – who told me where the commemoratives were
- Rangers pitching coach – for the first commem
- Rangers catching coach – for the second commem
- Lorenzo Cain – for the third commem
- Royals workers – for not picking up the Postseason ball
- Royals – for using a Postseason ball
- Camelback Ranch golf cart – for tossing me ball number 10
- White Sox grounds crew member – for tossing me the final ball
- Coyotes worker – for the puck
- Coyotes – for the experience