Another Spring Training Has Cone to an End – Balls 229-246 (March 5, 2014)

It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that not only is my time at Spring Training, but my days of ballhawking as a 20-something is over. The next one I am at a game I will be 30… THIRTY!! That sounds so wrong, but oh well, it’s better than being dead.

For the last game in Florida I was accompanied by Paul Kom. With over 1,600 miles separating us from out states, it’s crazy cool to have a familiar face with you at the park.

We started off the day meeting up at JetBlue Park – Fenway South…

Ball 1:

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After scoping out the cages, we headed over towards the practice field, except we noticed some balls that rolled out behind the cage, but still behind a fence. I dug a quick hole and slid this beauty out! A commemorative that I hadn’t yet snagged – two years old now!

After about an hour or so, we made our way over to Hammond Stadium (after hitting up a grocery store)…

Balls 2-4:

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We arrived 9 hours before the gates opened and no ball-players were present (and very few workers). Paul and I were free to roam the grounds for quite some time and each stumbled across a few balls. These three were “Easter Eggs” found around the batting cage area.

After eating a “lunch” (glorified snack) and also seeing a few minor leaguers on their fields we stayed inside the stadium from a little after noon until the game was over. The Twins staff was incredibly cool and relaxed, we even got to walk on the field (more pix in the mega-entry).

Ball 5:

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The first ball finally in the facility after gates opened was from Scott Diamond along the 3rd baseline.

Ball 6:

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This ball was my first ever “trick ball”. I didn’t do a typical glove or cup trick, but instead used my bag to knock it within my reach.

Ball 7:

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Once the Twins started to actually hit, I moved over to the LF grass area – home of my great luck on the 3rd. This ball was a bomb off the bat of my very favorite, Trevor Plouffe. As you can see in the photo, it hit off the nice new sign and made quite a mark before entering my glove.

Ball 8:

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Chris Herrmann toss-up.

Ball 9:

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Josh Willingham homer, not on the fly… but there will be one soon.

Ball 10:

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Josh Willingham… This time on the fly. It felt good to use my glove properly (after an error or two earlier).

Ball 11:

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The last ball from the Twins came from a toss-up by a face from the past, Jason Kubel.

Ball 12:

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The first ball from an Oriole came from the hands of Zach Britton.

Ball 13:

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I do not know who hit this one, but it was well to my right. I was still in the grass, but over in the corner by center. The ball was traveling about 2/3 of the way towards the pole and me and after a split second or two of deliberating, I broke for it. My running isn’t anything special, but I tracked it down and it was just out of my reach so I dove at the last second. I watched it into my catcher’s mitt in slow-motion and knew that this was probably the best ballhawking catch of my life (past, present, and future). Rounds of applause from the fans and a few players made me feel great (especially since I landed on my stomach and had a few balls in my pocket that bruised my leg).

Ball 14:

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Mother unknown Oriole and another catch on the fly – without diving.

Ball 15:

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Three in a row!! This “Unknown Oriole” guy can sure hit! (wink wink) I tried asking a trainer who was hitting, but they couldn’t tell. I’ll take a nice trifecta of snags on the fly… in the warm, soft, green grass.

Ball 16:

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Trevor Plouffe. Warm-ups. Pre-game. Enough said. (Watch the video attached later.)

Ball 17:

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Since there was an unrestricted re-entry policy, and a ball was fouled over the stadium in the 1st inning, I decided to try my luck outside the stadium, rather than hope for a 3rd out toss-up. In the 4th inning James Beresford sent one up and over the 3rd base side. It was between me and one other guy. Can you tell who won?

Ball 18:

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In the 8th inning a ball was dribbled fouls down the 3rd base line and handled by Orioles base-coach Bobby Dickerson. This was ball #57 for the trip/season and the last one of my trip/twenties.

After the dust settled, Paul and I met up again and took some parting photos:

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(Sweaty and completely baller.)

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(Our massive, combined stash; it covered 2/3 of the entire backseat of my rental car.)

Speaking of stashes:

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…and that’s it. That was my Spring Training 2014 adventure. I’ll be posting a massive recap, along with an overall “group shot” of everything gathered from the games.

Thanks yous:
-Minnesota Twins
-Twins/Hammond Stadium staff
-Baltimore Orioles
-Paul Kom
-My wife and family

4 Comments

It’s hard to believe this was almost a month ago already. I miss spring training so much! Awesome pictures, it was really cool to see all the balls in your back seat. The pictures I took of them didn’t turn out so I might use yours in my recap. This coming week is my spring break so I’ll have plenty of time to catch up on blogging!
-Paul

http://apieceofthegame.mlblogs.coms

Pingback: Orioles vs. Twins @ Hammond Stadium (03-05-14) « A Piece of The Game

Pingback: Commemorating the Commemoratives « Plouffe's New Hairdo

Pingback: All-Star Tune-Up – Balls 306-311 (July 1, 2014) « Plouffe's New Hairdo

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