Arizona Diamondbacks 1 – Minnesota Twins 2
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
September 17, 2014
As the title would suggest, many things were broken at Target Field during the home finale – some good, some obscure, and some just down right terrible.
The Record: Phil Hughes set the highest “Stikeouts to Walks” ratio in MLB history. He had 186 Ks and only 16 walks (the same number of walks as wins this year!).
The Streak: A personal streak of mine – no games with double digits during the 2014 regular season – came to an end. And this was without batting practice!!
The Bone: Trevor Plouffe, while trying to tag a guy at third, broke his forearm. You could tell right away that he was done for the rest of the seaon (only 4 games), since he was holding his arm gingerly while it was visibly shaking. The amazing run of snagging baseballs really loses steam when the guy you root hardest for goes down. At least he got his 80th RBI of the season and finished with a .258 average (both are career bests). Am I sensing a second coming of Michael Cuddyer?
Onward, to the catches… errrr, toss-ups…
I thought it’d be the ball shown below, since Lester Oliveros was the closest to me and Paul (yep, Paul Kom was here with me) was trying for a Logan Darnell ball.
But instead, we crossed each other’s guys and I ended up with the Darnell ball, and Paul ended up with Oliveros’.
Oh well. A ball is a ball.
After Ricky Nolasco got done with warm-ups with Nate Dammann, Nate tossed this one to me. I think I was down 4-2 to Paul at this point. But for no BP, we were doing surprisingly well.
Let me just say this (again), Tony Oliva is a Twins treasure. He is the nicest, most giving man, and he always has a smile. He saw a small group of us by the dugout, went back in the clubhouse, grabbed a few balls, SIGNED them, came back out, and tossed them to us. Kennys Vargas came out shortly after and almost wouldn’t sign the same ball, since he respected Tony that much. Tony gave him the go ahead and that is why you see both their signatures.
You knew this was coming, right? Dominique, fromt he game-ball bag. Enough said.
Shortly after Dominique tossed me one from the ball bag, Eduardo Escobar did his best impression. It felt great to keep the 5+ streak alive.
The man who gives the umpire crew their television signals bombed me hard. I told him it’d go on the blog. I can now say that I do not lie.
Phil Hughes’ 184th K of the season. This put him at 11.5 K:BB, but he wasn’t quite finished (he ended at 11.63). This one was tossed to me by Kurt Suzuki.
Nope, not poop. DIRT!! I love me a dirty souvenir; this one might be the finest example of the year. I pitch in the dirt and subsequently fouled into the dirt by Danny Santana kept this ball from surviving.
As the rain fell down harder and harder, the balls were being taken out quicker and quicker. This one was tossed to me by Ron Gardenhire. It was likely a game ball that was taken out of play and rolled over to him, but I cannot confirm. The lack of rubbed dirt could be from the rain soaking it, but all these factors tell me that I cannot rightly call this a gamer. Still, it was cool to tie my season high and still have some time left to break it.
Back to “The Bone”:
How sad and frustrating is it to see Trevor having to say goodbye to the group under these conditions? I wish I could have given him (along with the rest of the Twins) one last “thank you” and cheer for the win (and everyhting else he gave to me and the fans), but it just wasn’t in the cards.
The last ball from Dominique of the year. A pitch in the dirt in the bottom of the 8th. I will share my year-end stats, awards, and other random nuggets of knowledge,” but let’s give one thing away early:
Dominique, you are the MVP of 2014. I will go further in depth and write a longer explanation, but this “secret” was something that couldn’t be kept.
The last ball of 2014. This was it; game over.
Casey Fien came out (after throwing a couple hats into the stands) and tossed a half a dozen balls into the crowd. Here’s one in a bucket of bubble gum that came from the dugout via Dominique. I might just have to give myself a Bubble Gum Bath like many teams do these days after a walk-off.
After the game, Paul and I met up and took a group shot of our sangs for the day. He finished with 9, but don;t ask him about what “could have been.”
And there is the final individual game “group shot” of the year.
The final count?
- 180 MLB Baseballs
- 123 Regular Season
- 57 Spring Training
- 11 Signatures
- Byron Buxton, Chris Colabello, Nick Swardson, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Alex Meyer, Kennys Vargas (x3), Bud Black, Tony Oliva
- Plus two at my place of employment: Brian Dozier and Kurt Suzuki (on a HR Derby ball)
- 8 Line-up Cards
- 3/3/2014 (2)
- 4/17/2014 (2)
- 8/5/2014 (2)
- 7 Batting Gloves
- Chris Colabello (3)
- Trevor Plouffe (2)
- Danny Santana (2)
- 1 Pair of Cleats
- Trevor Plouffe
- 1 Bat
- Kennys Vargas
- 2 Softballs (ASG Celebrity Game)
- 1 MiLB Babseball (Spring Training)
…And that is my 2014 baseball adventure all in one photo.
Like I mentioned before, I will have further blog posts giving recaps and rehashing what I experienced.
- Logan Darnell
- Nate Dammann
- Tony Oliva
- Kennys Vargas
- Eduardo Escobar
- Kurt Suzuki
- Ron Gardenhire - I hope this isn’t the last ball from you, and especially not the last game you coach the Twins
- Casey Fien
- Trevor Plouffe
Bonus… How about a video of the best bat boy in the game? Here’s Dominique doing his best Globetrotter.
Detroit Tigers 4 – Minnesota Twins 8
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
September 17, 2014
While it is exciting to go to a baseball game, no matter the standings, score, or any other “stats”, getting confirmation that you are getting your first puppy (at least first as an adult/owner) kind of dwarfs any baseball news.
So without further adieu, here she is…
Her name is not determined yet, but once she is HOME on September 27th, she will be given a great identity and hopefully a greater home. She’s at least three quarters lab and up to a quarter something unknwon (possibly blue heeler, according to the owner). The mother, the purebred, got a little frisky with the neighbor’s dog – the “mutt” – and the result was a litter of NINE puppies that were sold at only $25 a piece! After a few weeks of feeling unlucky and thinking the only dogs we could get our hands on were going to cost us an arm and a leg, we scored this lovely girl at a crazy-low price.
I guess that’s enough about her… for now. Once the season ends and I have met her (and taken the inevitable hundreds of photos and videos) I can post a Puppy-centric post.
Awkward segue in 3, 2, 1…
So how about that baseball game? The Twins may be out of contention, but playing spoilers to the dreams of an AL Central crown is kind of fun. I think the majority of Minnesotans (and maybe even the rest of the country) are pulling for the Kansas City Royals. The Twins did their part this series and especially last night against Mr. David Price.
Also, there is something new outside of the stadium. Something in bronze that will permenantly call back to the 2014 All-Star Game…
I am a firm believer that if you show up early and pay enough attention at the gates, good things will happen. The first ball of the day was no excpetion, it only validated my belief. Being on the board before even setting foot inside the stadium is a good feeling.
After striking out during the last part of the Twins’ BP, I came through in left field during the Tigers’ portion. This ball and the next were both snagged on the fly (with my catchers mitt, since that’s all I brought) off the bat of an unknown Tigers slugger. one may have been from JD Martinez.
Like I said above, snagged on the fly from a Tiger’s bat.
I decided to go in to the home plate area after the majority of the Tigers took their hacks. Expanded rosters mean some less powerful bats and more positional hitting. This ball was from Oswaldo Arcia just before the game started – from the ball bag containing al lthe game-rubbed balls.
After that, I had a little bit of food, then walked around the stadium and even stopped by one of my favorite places:
That’s the view from a few feet behind the spot where I caught the Vargas HR. What a beautiful view.
After the 7th inning stretch, with Trevor Plouffe on deck, waiting to lead off the bottom of the 7th, a warm-up pitch in the dirt was tossed towards the Twins’ dugout. Trevor picked it up and tossed it to me. EXCELLENT!
After the game I was tossed something special, as seen in the group shot below…
Danny Santana’s batting gloves! These were tossed by this season’s MVP (Most Valuable Plouffe’s-new-hairdo-helper). I was unsure whose they were, but seeing a replay of Danny wearing what appeared to be Franklin gloves, led me to Google images and a definite style match…
- Target Field Gate Worker
- Oswaldo Arcia
- Detroit Tigers sluggers
- Trevor Plouffe
- Danny Santana – Thanks for ripping a hole in the gloves, at least.
Chicago White Sox 6 – Minnesota Twins 3
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
September 2, 2014
September lately has meant one thing: the end of the baseball season in Minnesota. Would I like to see that streak end? You betcha. but lately it has meant that catching baseballs at Target Field is rather easy and good times are bountiful (in a pure ballhawking sense). Couple the September uptick with the Chicago White Sox, a team I normally go bang or bust when in town, and you have the set up for somehting exciting.
Also special this game was meeting Nick from Chicago – goes by “whitesoxfan” on mygameballs. Nick reached out to me via email and I had a spare season ticket to offer, so he pulled the trigger and made his first trek to my home stadium. I’ll introduce you (visually) at the end of the blog and give you the totals, but I’m happy to report that he was not skunked.
I forgot my shoes at home and came straight from work. The result?
Black shoes and black socks with plaid shorts and a White Sox t-shirt. Sexy.
At the gate I was rewarded with this rather average baseball. Nick was already on the board with two at this point (and soon to be three), so it was nice to go into the game without a shutout.
Oswaldo Arcia. El hombre.
Joe McEwing (as pictured in the background). This ball was a back-pocket special.
Game time. Ball number one of FOUR gamers. This was fromt he top of the second. thanks, Dom.
Kurt Suzuki 3rd out ball. Tommy Milone struck out Tyler Flowers (who homered twice in the game, including in the 10th) to end the top of the 3rd.
This wonderfully scuffed gamer was tossed to me by Michael Taylor. It was a 3-2 pitch by Anthony Swarzak to Paul Konerko in the top of the 5th (no out).
Ron Gardenhire. He is a nice man. This was a random gamer rolled into the dugout and then tossed to me after a couple bounces on the dugout floor by the skipper.
After the game, Dom tossed me one more – this one from the ball-bag, but it was a ball that bullpen catcher Ben Richardson tossed in. It is not a gamer, since it has that slippery, well-used from playing catch feel (and the blackness from the leather).
I thought i forgot to take a photo of the ball, so when I went to the restroom onthe way out I took this:
Classy. Can’t forget those pix!
I met up with Nick one last time and took a quick photo. He ended the night at 6 and for those who cannot read up until this miraculous point, I got 8. His six at a not-so-ballhawk-friendly park and his first time visiting is rather impressive. Well done, sir.
Now the family photo. Meet the September-Second-Ball family (a lot of hyphens, as it is a Latin tradition):
- Target Field Gate Worker
- Oswaldo Arcia (gracias!)
- Joe McEwing
- Kurt Suzuki
- Michael Taylor
- Ron Gardenhire
- Nick (whitesoxfan) - thanks for being good gate company.
Kansas City Royals 6 – Minnesota Twins 4
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
August 18, 2014
Entering the day I was sitting at 95 balls snagged for the year that were NOT caught at spring training. While I do not discriminate between Floridian (or Arizonan, or is it Arizonian?) balls and nationwide “MLB ballpark” balls, many folks do. So hitting the century mark is kind of a significant milestone, especially when you come so close last year (91). Five balls seemed more than doable, but then again, it was the Royals – a team that I just cannot crack for big numbers.
Now that I have you attention and have been brainwashed to love this blog, let’s get into the “details” of the game…
A simple toss-up from Nori Aoki. Glad I was wearing my Omar Rodriguez-Lopez shirt which had the Japanese text “You’re Welcome” on it. Nori got a kick out of it and that’s how I got on the board.
Eric Hosmer (on the DL) was shagging balls and throwning them in all with one arm (a la Jim Abbott).
Last of the Royals group was another Francisley Bueno toss-up. This is my third from the guy. Either he is just that nice or I am just that lucky.
Slightly before the game started – with thunderstorms surrounding the Twin Cities and much of the rest of the state, Dominique made his way out from the clubhouse, only to look injured. His back was spasming and he was going to be forced to sit out his second straight game. Before he went back in, he was nice enough to give me #99 of the year… direct from the game-ball bag.
First off, let me just say that I was completely stupid. I got a toss-up during the game from Trevor Plouffe (as he was on deck) and I decided that I would just toss this one (of all balls) to a kid. I knew it was my 100th of the year AND from Trevor, but my brain was apparently on vacation. What a fitting ball that would have been. Instead…
A toss-up from Eduardo Escobar in the middle of the 5th inning. Still another gamer, also very grateful, but where was my mind? I could have easily given this one to that kid (just would have been a little later in the game). Oh well.
And how about my half-baked attempt at a group shot signifying the milestone of 100 balls snagged during the regular season?
Not my best, but midnight on a work night leads to less than optimal quality.
And how about that sky last night?!
The storms that barely clipped us led to quite the colorful cloud formation as a backdrop.
PS: If you ever decide to frequent the Champions Club, order a Regular Tony or a Skinny Tony (Coke/Diet Coke with Lime Juice… that lime stuff in a bottle like the cherry grenadine):
- Nori Aoki
- Eric Hosmer
- Francisley Bueno
- Eduardo Escobar
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.
Cleveland Indians 8 – Minnesota Twins 2
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
July 22, 2014
***Admission: I did not stay for the whole game, in fact, I left after one inning. I wanted to stay, but my entire body ached, my head was foggy and felt like I was going to pass out, and when I got home, my temperature was 101.2. I felt like crap.***
Though I had a short day at the park, I was able to get my hands on 7 balls before tapping out. The streak of gamers even lives – thanks Oswaldo Arcia!
Not even in the gates yet and already able to get on the board. This eliminates any worry of a “post-ASG funk” for me.
Thanks to a generous grounds keeper guy who was chatting with some Twins, I had my first “in the stadium” ball of the day.
An unknown Twins player with a shot to LF… it was not Trevor Plouffe, though – I know that much.
Once the gates were open to the public (non-STHers), I went over to the LF foul area, since an usher was having a hard time finding a ball that was hit in that area a few minutes prior. I saw which section, but it had rolled all the way down to the front row.
Indians strength coach/staffer. not much else I can say.
I wanted to thank Dom for the great ASG experience and after we talked for a while, I got this pearly treat.
Game ball from Oswaldo Arcia – just ask in Spanish and you shall be rewarded.
There it is, the quick version of my feverish night. I am kicking myself because I was planning on being in RF for most of the time – Carlos Santana hit a bomb to the plaza, too.
Here’s the haul:
Oh yeah, I even got Nick Swisher’s autograph!
- Twins worker/field guy
- Twins HR hitter
- Indians Strength Coach/staffer
- Oswaldo Arcia
HR Derby Champ: Yoenis Cespedes
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
July 14, 2014
Another day, another dream come true. But first, I had to get through the late night, the “anticipationsomnia”, and an early alarm clock for the second day of FanFest. Yes, I woke up at 6 in the morning because I wanted a damn bobblehead – but it was totally worth it, since without this exact chain of events I may not have had the same tale to tell. (Plus, it was a Tony Oliva bobblehead. He’s the nicest guy you could ever meet and it’s become one of my favorite bobbles.)
I’ve mentioned enough about FanFest for now (photos and detailed account to be shown at a later date), so let’s skip ahead to the gates and “game” itself.
Gate 34 @ 10:30 am:
Sure, the derby didn’t start until 7 pm and gates wouldn’t open until 4, but I am in the royal court when it comes to being early (I hesitate to use the word “king”). The good news about getting to the gates so early? I was spotted by Sean Casey, former MLBer and current MLB Network reporter, and asked to do an interview for Intentional Talk. How cool is that?! I even got to record a “gotheeeeem!” at the end. Supposedly, this interview was shown on the Tuesday show, can anyone confirm?
PS: Does anyone have a link to this or have a way to view it? I haven’t been able to see it.
After the interview, the long wait started at the gates. The good news was that my friend, Jared, showed up and shortly thereafter a father-son combo from San Fran showed up. We had met the San Fran guys the day before, but for the HR Derby we shared even more stories and really got to know them – heck, we even got the Jimmy Johns delivery tradition firmly planted. Side note: Yes, Jimmy Johns delivers to the stadium, just specify the gate and they show up on a bicycle.
Also showing up at the gates were Nick and Jabs. I had seen them briefly the day before, but beyond saying a short hello and introductions, there was no time for stories. The three of us played some catch and generally hang out. Being around these giants of the ballhawk scene made me feel at peace for some reason. Their nerves were not completely calm, their anticipation was also high, and this made me feel normal/acceptable.
A few more hawks filtered in and so we had a nice group photo taken on the giant gold glove in the plaza:
Many stories and a few time-defying hours later, we finally entered the gates, but not before I got a DM from a very special Twitter-follower. A few minutes after 3 pm I got a message from Jeff Allen – guitarists for an amazing local band that is kind of shut down indefinitely, The Plastic Constellations – and it said the following:
How cool is that?! Not only was this guy part of a band that I love (my favorite album of 2008 is their “We Appreciate You” swansong), but he is a writer for Rolling Stone!!… and wants to interview me!!(?!)
Of course I agreed to my second interview of the day. I would have said yes to any Rolling Stone interviewer; I would have said yes to just talking to Jeff Allen at a baseball game; but meeting Jeff Allen, being interviewed for Rolling Stone, and being at an All-Star Game event?! Too much.
Because I am so excited, why not share a photo and then the link right away? I know, it’s out of order, but who cares.
Remember how I said I was going to toss-ups only? Well, I stuck to my ways that had worked well the previous day and landed a nice HR Derby ball right away. Who was this from? I don’t know and cannot remember. So many people were in the batting practice area (a complete media frenzy) so this mystery person just got lost in the shuffle.
This time I could see the jersey and remembered the name, Greg Colbrunn.
I shouted for Carlos Gomez (Go-Go) and he smiled as I flashed my “¿Pelota, Por Favor?” sign, but it was his buddy Starlin Castro – jealous Larry? – who ended up tossing me the ball from the other side of the batting cages.
Remember how I got interviewed by Sean Casey earlier? Well, he remembered that I was chasing balls and hooked me up with one. He even went out of his way to ask a coach for one from the bucket by the BP pitcher.
The skies opened up for a lengthy but light rain, so the crowd dispersed, except for me a few other diehards. I cheered loudly for Justin Morneau as he took his BP rips with rain coming down. He smiled a lot and then tried tossing me a ball, only to have it sail over my head and get picked up by someone else. He was nice enough to try again a minute or so later. This time, with much success.
*End of BP/Begin HR Derby*
I decided to try for a Morneau HR, since he was the only lefty and all of left field was seating (next to impossible to sneak into and grab a seat). I came about 5 feet short on his first HR… stupid flag. If not for hitting the flag, I may have just snagged a Morneau derby ball. Oh well, my nerves and anxiety over snagging a FlexBall were nagging away at me, but all would be made awesome shortly.
*End of HR Derby/Awards Ceremony*
One of the AL coaches or staff had a ball from the derby (one of the pitches that you see taken by a contestant) and tossed it just out of my reach. Good thing I had a giant sign that I could use as a backboard!
YES!!! FLEXBALL!!! Dominique is entering god-like status. One of the hardest to snag balls was now going home with me. It matched my orange jacket nicely, along with Mateo’s orange Twins cap, and the orange Gatorade that was tossed to me from the derby coolers on the field. Orange is the new black.
I was in heaven. I was batting 1.000 in my commemorative quest at the All-Star Game, with just one more left in play (heck, I’d argue I was batting an impossible 1.333, since that commemorative softball made it 4 for 3 in a weird way).
Can you tell that I am stoked?
While Paul was a little less stoked and Mateo… well, we’ll let him speak for himself.
Here’s the entire group, followed by the two-day total.
- Two mystery men
- Greg Colbrunn
- Starlin Castro
- Sean Casey – for the interview and ball
- Justin Morneau – we miss you and wish you much success
- Dominique – thanks for the white whale
- Joseph Pedlowe and his father – cool dudes from the San Fran area
- Eric Jabs and Nick from PNC - for playing catch
- Leiming Tang – wish I had more time to talk to him
- Paul Kom
- Mateo Fischer – for using his orange hat
- Jeff Allen – for the interview and chilling with a TPC fan
- Jordan Roske (and his wife) – for hanging out with Jeff and me, then taking a photo
- The Plastic Constellations – for beautiful rock and roll music
World Futures 2 – USA Futures 3
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
July 13, 2014
I’m still not sure where I am or what just happened. This whole “extended-weekend” of festivities has taken a toll on not only my feet, but my mind. The anticipation is like the illegitimate lovechild between an insomniac and a child waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. For about a week before the ASG I was prepping in my head, trying to come up with a game plan, but knowing full well that I had no clue what to expect. And when exactly was I thinking of this? When I should have been sleeping. The result: I spaced on the simplest of things and was in a completely different kind of fog compared to the one I am now in. (Just ask my wife, she can attest to my forgetfulness during this time period.)
If you look at my previous entry – the one about what exactly the ASG was bringing to town and the time-table, that gives you the basic structure. That was all I had to go off of. I had a leg up on some folks, since Target Field is my home field, but the ASG is run by the fine people of the MLB, not the Twins – any changes or additional rules would be completely new to me (and might be ones that carried over from previous ASGs). I was dreaming of each of the four commemorative baseballs followed by nightmares of me not getting my hands on them – or coming up just short and making a terrible error. It was an anticipation purgatory.
Once the weekend came, I tried my best to keep myself occupied with non-baseball things; Friday night was a free orchestral concert on a lake and Saturday was supposed to be paddle-boarding (though that was rained out). It was also the last few things I was able to do with my wife before I was essentially gone for 3 days straight due to baseball (save for a few hours of long “naps” after the games).
Sunday, July 13th @ 7 am:
The alarm sounds and I am already awake. Whenever I am happily anticipating something I wake up BEFORE my alarm goes off. This isn’t a terrible habit, but the bad part is the anticipation the night before keeps me up late and my sleep dwindles faster than an hour-glass while playing charades. Today is “All-Star Sunday!”
FanFest was the first stop on the list before eventually waiting at the gates for many hours and finally being let in to enjoy some future MLB players and “celebrity” softball players. I would cover FanFest here (or even in my next post), but I’ll save the non-game stuff for a later time.
The first event at Target Field for the All-Star Game came in with an adrenaline rush and quickly calmed with this…
Sean Coyle (of the Boston Red Sox organization) was the one to help me out. Being dressed loudly (bright orange suit jacket, for those who don’t follow me on Twitter) and having a catchers mitt did the trick. Sean was done with his warm-up tossing and this gem of a commemorative was my first ASG ball of any sort. SWEET!
Shortly after receiving this ball I had Alex Meyer – future Twin great – sign the ball (see the last photo below).
With the US team done taking some grounders as the batters were taking BP, coach Brian Snitker hooked me up with this wonderfully filthy ball. I chose to attack toss-ups this entire All-Star Game, since I thought (and it was confirmed) that the outfield would be packed.
Another beautiful logo, this time compliments of the 2014 MVP pictured in the background – Dominique Frost. I was worried about just getting one, but here I stood with three and the game hadn’t started.
Another ASG/Futures ball!!…
Wait, what?! How did this get in there? Looks like some, if not all, of the infield warm-up balls used by the USA team were regular MLB balls. Thanks to Justin O’Conner, this one is now safely asleep with all his other friends.
That ball was it for batting practice, but the night was not over. There was still a game and then a celebrity/legends game.
Here is the lineup for the US team:
Note: Tom Kelly – two time World Series winning coach – was the coach for team USA. It was cool to see the coach of my childhood Twins coaching again.
GAMER! A pitch grazing the dirt during Domingo German’s warm-ups in the bottom of the 2nd led to my amazing streak of gamers. Every game this season (including Spring Training) has led to at least one gamer in my bag. Dominique is definitely the MVP – and we are only in day one of the festivities.
Celebrity & Legends Softball Game:
Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of many of the “celebrities”, but I haven’t compared this to previous ASGs, so is this normal? Do people just not want to visit Minnesota? Don’t get me wrong, the athletes and Legends had amazing names and accomplishments, but the TV/music personalities were in no way A-listers. No worries, though, it was pure entertainment and fun. Jennie Finch and Adrian Peterson stole the show, but seeing Jim Thome swing a bat again was the real treat.
Oh yeah, I also snagged a couple of THESE balls:
Thanks Charlie McDermott!… Did I really just say that?! I flashed my glove and tried seeing if he’d toss. He politely said he couldn’t, but then gave me the “shhh” with the finger to the mouth as if we were keeping a secret as he wound up and tossed it to me.
I wasn’t expecting to actually land this and wasn’t convinced it’d be commemorative, but what a fun surprise.
Yep, two softballs snagged at a baseball game. That’s some sort of record, right? This time it was Minnesota’s very own, Chef Andrew Zimmern. I really like Chef Andrew and his story, so this is kinda special. Having said that, I would not eat it, even if it were a crazy food like he has on his show. Now to find a softball cube or two…
Five baseballs (four commemorative), two softballs (both commemorative), and a buttload of stuff from FanFest.
- Sean Coyle
- Brian Snitker
- Justin O’Conner
- Charlie McDermott
- Chef Andrew Zimmern
PS: Joey Gallo is an absolute beast. One of the best BP sessions I’ve seen this year… and he’s in the MiLB!! Look out Texas Ranger fans, you are in for quite a treat.
Kansas City Royals 2 – Minnesota Twins 10
Target Field – Minneapolis, MN
July 1, 2014
July has traditionally been a slow mo nth for me in the ballhawking department. Sure, last year I finally made it out to Denver for the the first time AND got my hands on a commemorative, but even then I only got a total of 4 balls in two games. In fact, I had only snagged 16 balls in 7 games since I began my ballhawking adventure – and outside of 2 games in 2012, the totals are virtually non-existant. My high of 5 in one game was in jeopardy (7/20/2012) and for sure my Target Field best of 3 (7/19/2012) was surely to fall with the early entry for STHers.
After a long hiatus apart, I met Paul for the second time in only a couple weeks (before that we hadn’t seen each other since Spring Training). We missed out on a ball that was thrown over the gate by a worker (to a guy who more than likely had a connection or had bribed said worker in the past). But my attention wasn’t fully on the game, BP, or even baseball, it was on the soccer match between the US and Belgium – spoilers: we lost. The game was being shown on the jumbotron, but due to the way that Target Field is designed, you cannot see any of the scoreboards from gate 34 – this meant that I was listening to the moans and groans of the final minutes of regulation time fromt the workers inside.
Finally, we were let loose and the gates were open. I had noticed a ball hit deep and more than likely stuck somewhere in the grandstand, so I raced up the stairs and looked all over. Paul even came up and started looking for this Easter Egg. Both of us were stumped and couldn’t find it, until…
The Old Cup(holder) Trick! Sneaky, sneaky. Thankfully as I was giving up on the ball and about ready to go to the overhang, I saw this white sphere just waiting to be plucked from its awkward home.
After making the grueling 50 foot trek to the overhang in RF, I asked Oswaldo Acria for a ball.
With the Royals now on the field, I was able to get a toss-up from Alex Gordon. Alex was SUPER nice to the fans and gave away a ton of balls (seems like around 10 or so).
Francisley Bueno. Muy Bueno, indeed.
After my fourth of the day things kind of stalled out. I was mainly more concerned with Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen. I was lucky enough to play catch – for the second time this year – with Jeremy while he was in the Twins bullpen, cleaning out HR balls. After a few knuckles he tossed the ball back in. Dang.
I was hoping to get Bruce Chen to toss me up a ball and act like we’d play some catch, but he didn’t fall for it. I was going to toss back a lacrosse ball that I had in my pocket. If you need further reasoning as to why I wanted to give Bruce Chen some “pay back” read my past blog entry on the “Bruce Chen Incident“.
Dominique for MVP. Enough said.
Straight out of the game ball bag, Chris Parmelee with a beautiful mud-rubbed hook-up.
Just like that, my night was over, but that was my own choice.
I still stuck around for some decent food, a Twins win, and ballhawk talk with Paul, but I didn’t really try much harder for any more balls the rest of the night. My streaks were intact, so why press?
(Champions Club dining. My numerous variations on a “salad”… plus fortune cookies.)
(A vegan dog!! Not too bad. Don;t order it if you are expecting an exact replica of a regular hot dog, but do expect more flavor wothout the worry of “what is this mystery meat?”)
Although there was a very brief rain in the bottom of the 7th, I did not get to use my clever sign…
I brought that due to the weather outlook that called for a chance of rain and even isolated storms. Nothing panned out and no tarps were used. But I did get the following:
How cool is that ASG mini-helmet? And who leaves those behind?!
- Dominique – Broken record, but he is my MVP of 2014.
- Random Twin – More than likely it was Oswaldo Arcia or Kendrys Morales, but whoever planted the bomb that eventually was placed in the cupholder, thanks.
- Oswaldo Arcia – ¡Gracias, hermano!
- Alex Gordon – Thank you, from all of the fans you hooked up with a ball.
- Francisley Bueno – Tú eres “Bueno”. (Broken Spanish pun.)
- Chris Parmelee – Your streak is much more impressive and takes better skill (double-digit hit streak with an over .450 average in that span), but thanks for extending mine, too.
- Jeremy Guthrie – Thanks for playing catch with me… AGAIN!
Because this is my blog and I call the shots, why not show my travel photos of my weekend trip to Iowa a few days ago?
My cousin lives in Cedar Rapids and so we went down to see her, her husband, and their daughter (see the cute Uncle Sam and the little one in the selfie with me above). The other group of photos was from a dam outside of Iowa City. Snakes, fossiles, flood waters, and dead fish… OH MY!
And there it is, potentially my last post (definitely last ballhawking post) until the All-Star Game. it still doesn’t feel real that I am going. Any tips? (I’ll be arriving super early and trying to experience EVERYTHING the ASG has to offer.)