Tagged: ball retriever

4/1/2011 Opening Day

Well, it was finally here. Opening Day.


What would this season bring following such an amazing World Series run?

Who knows, but I was very anxious to find out!

Dirk and I attended this game and we were joined by our friends Shawn and Kendall. For reasons that are beyond me, I cannot get my photos to upload from this game so you’re just going to have to imagine what I’m describing.

Game time was 3:05 and the gates were scheduled to open at 12:00. Since Dirk and I purchased a 20 game mini plan for this season we were given season ticket holder i.d. cards that get us in 30 minutes before everyone else for most games. I say for most games because we were unsure if they would apply to this game.

They did.

At 11:30 the gates opened, our tickets scanned and bags checked, and we made our way around to the left-centerfield bleachers. The cages were up, bu the only action on the field at this point were two Rangers on the first base side stretching.

We figured that we had at least 15-20 minutes or so before they started hitting, so I asked Shawn if he wanted to have a catch while we were waiting and he agreed. What proceded to happen was a three-way (easy now!) catch that included Shawn, myself, and I guy who’s name I don’t know but he was on the opposite side of the centerfield hill from us.

That’s right, we played catch over Green’s Hill in center.

Let me tell you, that’s a longer throw than you would think. Everything was cool until Shawn tried to push it and heaved one a lot farther than he should have and the ball ricocheted to a spot that was out of our reach. Game over. Thanks Shawn.

It didn’t matter because a few minutes later the Rangers were hitting.

Yes! It seemed like a year had gone by since I had taken in batting practice. I’m sure that’s how all the ballhawks feel during the first BP of the season. Anyways, it was great to finally be back at it.

Things got off to a slow start for me. I had picked the corner of the bleachers in left-center that was right next to the hill in centerfield which is where I spent a lot of time last season. I didn’t have any action until later in the session when there was a little boy on my right and Colby Lewis had fielded a ball at the wall just in front of me. I got Colby’s attention, held up my glove and pointed at the boy next to me, and he threw it right into the pocket of my glove. I then turned and opened my glove and let the boy take it out himself. He couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old and was wearing a glove and was so excited. His dad was behind him (without a glove) and was just as happy as his son. I asked if that was his son’s first ball and he said yes. That made it even better for me.

Just the thought of giving a ball to young kid that is eager to get one, wearing a glove, being courteous, yet maybe a little unschooled in ballhawking 101, is enough to make me grin from ear to ear. Add to that the fact that sometimes it just so happens to be their first one ever?! Well, it just doesn’t get any better than that for me.

Anyways, BP was still pretty slow for me, though I was able to pull two different balls out of the gap in front of me that other kids had dropped. I was good with three balls. Especially since the Red Sox were in town and batting practice was crowded. I would’ve been content with one ball, so three was great to me. Dirk ended up with five so I’ll have to wait to outsnag him in 2011.

Our seats for the game were in the upper deck on the first base side towards the outfield. Section 340, row 14. Not the best place to watch a game from, but hey, we were there.

We watched the game from there until around the fourth inning when we went down to the gift shop in centerfield to look around for something that Dirk could get his kids. After a short spell in the a/c we made our way over to left field where Shawn and Kendall were sitting. They had told us that there were a couple open seats in the row in front of them, so we filled them.

The seats were directly behind the foul pole in left field, so viewing the game wasn’t great but it was better than where we were sitting earlier. An inning or so prior to us getting there, Kendall had a homerun slip off his fingers and land in the hands of the guy behind him. Mike Napoli hit a go ahead three run homer that just wrapped around the foul pole and skimmed off Kendall’s bare fingers. He had his glove, but had taken it off to do something else and didn’t have time to get it back on before it was already on him.

The game itself was good. The Rangers were down at first then came back to win it 9-5 in the bottom of the 8th inning. Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, and Mike Napoli all went deep for the Rangers. David Murphy hit a pinch hit, go ahead double down the 3rd base line in the bottom of the 8th that got a rally going.

The atmosphere was awesome out there at this game, which is how it usually is on opening day but this one was better. Probably because of the way they finished last season, who knows. Nonetheless, it sure it cool not having so many Boston fans in the stands nowadays. What a beating that got to be in the past.

We fought the madness after the game, but didn’t mind since we witnessed a win and took some all around great baseball.

Time of Game: 3 hrs. 28 mins.

Attendance: 50,146

Next Game: Saturday 4/2 (Probably BP only)


7/28/10 vs. Oakland

It’s getting harder and harder for me to attend weekday games because I can’t always leave work as early as I’d like, and if I can’t make it for all of batting practice part of me doesn’t want to go at all. Call me weird, but that’s how I feel.

As it turns out, I figured out that even if I leave work just 30 minutes early (5:00 instead of 5:30) we can still make it to the ballpark by 5:30 and catch the last 30-40 minutes of the visiting team’s BP. Not bad, but still not as good as getting in 30 minutes earlier than everybody else.

This game was one of the times we got there at around 5:30 and there was a pretty decent crowd in the left centerfield bleachers so we hung back a few rows until some of the younger fans started to wander off and we claimed a couple spots in the corner next to the A’s bullpen.

My first ball of the day came within the first 5 minutes of us being there when a kid muffed a toss up and it landed in the gap. He was about 5-6 feet to my left and I was all over it. I took the ball over to where I was standing previously and handed it to a little boy around 5 years old who was wearing a glove but had not yet gotten a ball. He and his father were very thankful and that made it all worth it.

As I was reeling that ball up, Dirk was getting his one and only ball of the day out of the bullpen so we were both now on the board!

The A’s weren’t hitting many our way today and the ones that were in our direction weren’t even close to hitting the seats. Right field on the other hand was getting peppered with balls, but there’s always SO many kids over there that it’s just not worth it.

At one point a ball had to come to rest on the grass edge of the warning track directly in front of me. The only problem was I completely surrounded by kids, so I knew that if that ball were to reach the seats I would not be the one to snag it.

Well, I was wrong.

There was one pitcher in particular that was having fun with the crowd today during BP. He’s a former Texas Tech Red Raider so I guess he felt like he was “at home” this series. He came over and stood right next to the ball that was right in front of me and wouldn’t pick it up. Every 30 seconds or so he would bend down like he was going to pick it up and once the chorus of “Here!, Here!s” started he would stand back up and leave the ball on the ground. After the first couple of times I caught on to what he was doing but the younger ones weren’t as quick. That’s when I started to think that he would just flip the ball backwards without looking and I figured that would be my one and only shot at it.

I was right.

After about a minute or two of messing with the kids, he leaned over to pick the ball up with his glove and just sort of flung it directly off of the grass. Kind of cool if you ask me because it was going to be a win win for me either way. I would either get to reel in another ball out of the gap or I would just catch it and hand it over to someone. Turns out it was the latter. The ball was about a foot over my head on my left so I reached up with my glove and caught it in the pocket. I didn’t even touch the ball, I just opened my glove and let the boy on my left take it out.

“Who was the pitcher?”, you may be asking. Well, it was none other than Mr. Perfecto himself, Dallas Braden.

Not too shabby if I say so myself.

That would be it for me during batting practice although I can finally say that I outsnagged Dirk! That made it all worth it!

Wednesdays are Dollar Dog nights at the Ballpark in Arlington so after getting our free drink coupons from the designated driver booth we got some dogs and found a place to stuff our faces.

This game was exciting from a baseball fan standpoint but frustrating from a ballhawk standpoint. There were so many people at this game that we couldn’t find a spot to move to like we usually do. Actually, we did find a spot to move to but we did it too early and were asked for our tickets. Oh well. Rules are rules right?

So for a good majority of the game we stood against the wall out in left field. If you haven’t seen it, it looks like this….

















If you click on the photo and enlarge it the wall is red and had Lucas Oil on it.

I don’t mind it over there, it has great home run potential, I would just rather be able to sit somewhere out there instead of standing but oh well.

Turns out it didn’t matter anyways since we didn’t have even one close call. As Rangers’ manager Ron Washington says,”that’s the way baseball go!”

The Rangers would go on to lose this game by the score of 3-1. I don’t like watching them lose, especially in person since this is only the 2nd loss I’ve witnessed in 19 games attended this season.

I originally was going to use this game to gain some ground in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt but after taking about three pictures I realized they weren’t correct, so I will have to try again another day. 

Here’s a couple that I got during the game….

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…. of Fox Sports Southwest reporter Jim Knox on the left and TV analyst and former MLB player Steve Busby on the right.

Even though my team lost it’s always fun to be at the ballpark. I truly feel at home there.

Time of game: 2 hrs. 40 mins.

Attendance: 38,269

Next Game: Tues. 8/10 vs. the Stankees (I’ll explain why later….)


7/7/10 vs. Cleveland

Well once again I skipped a game. This makes twice just this season that I have done that. I don’t know why, I just get busy I guess.

The game I missed was Monday 7/5 against Cleveland. I snagged two in batting practice both via the toss up, one from Darren O’Day (who tried to hit the bullseye and just about got the bullseye below the belt, on purpose I’m sure) and the other by Neftali Feliz. Rangers lost 9-3. Bleh.

Okay, on to today. I had taken 1/2 a day off of work today because there was going to be a special guest at this game and I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time to hang out before the game. So I left work at noon, got home and waited impatiently for 2:00 when my friend Dirk would pick me up and we would head to the ballpark. We went over to the home plate gate and picked up the special guest and his friend, and we went to Pappasito’s for some mexican food. Man I love that place!

We chatted and stuffed our faces and arrived at the season ticket holder gate at around 4:10ish. We got our bags checked and tickets scanned and booked it on over to left field for batting practice. Our guest and his friend stayed in left field while Dirk and I went over to the bleachers in left-center.

Within a few minutes I had my first ball. One fell in the gap right in front of a boy to my left, so I reeled it up and handed it to him. He was excited and his father was grateful which made the whole thing good. My second ball would come the exact same way not too long after and as I tried to hand the ball to the same boy (he was the only kid in the area) he told me to save it and give it to another kid who didn’t have one yet. What a great kid! So, I did as he asked and as I was putting my retriever in my backpack I heard Dirk yell “BRIAN!” Then a split second later I hear “BANG!”. A ball had sailed through the front row railing and clanged off the bleacher bottom right beside me. I picked the ball up off the ground, gave Dirk a puzzled look, and put the ball in my bag. Within the first 30 minutes or so I had matched my single game record of three, and I have to admit that I began to get a little giddy at the thought of there still being about another full hour of BP left.

Oh the possibilities….

You may have noticed by now that I haven’t posted any pictures yet. Well, I didn’t take any during BP, don’t ask me why. I guess everything was happening so fast at the beginning that I didn’t even think about it. I took a couple later on though so be patient.

All of those possibilities that I referred to a second ago, well they didn’t last long, as I got nothing during the Indians’ portion of batting practice. Actually, I shouldn’t say “nothing” because I did get one ball, and I must say it’s the weirdest way I’ve snagged a ball yet.

As I said earlier, Dirk and I were in the left-center bleachers which is the same place we’ve gone the last four games or so. He’s on one end and I’m on the other. I’ve developed a habit of looking in his direction every now and then, I guess to see if he happens to be snagging one when I look or something who knows, but with about 10 minutes or so left of batting practice I look over and see a ball on the ground rolling towards me.

What?! I know that I had kept track of every ball hit, so where did this one come from?

That was just so you know what I immediately thought. Naturally, I walked over and picked the ball up and I asked Dirk if it was his, and he said no. I asked the little boy behind Dirk that he had just given a ball to, and he too said no. There was another boy a couple rows back that said he thought it had come out of the Indians’ bullpen after a pitcher had deflected a throw from his catcher and the ball went into the bleachers. As odd as it may sound, I found that to be the only viable explanation and accepted it. I then handed it to that same boy.

So, I ended up with four balls. As anti-climatic as it was, I had beaten my previous single game record of three by one ball. I guess I just had higher hopes, oh well, it was still cool.

Once batting practice had concluded Dirk and I decided to get a photo with our special guest and his friend, and here it is….

From left to right: Dirk, Kenny from Milwaukee, Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek, yours truly, and my other friend Shawn who arrived as BP was ending.

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That’s right, Happy was in Arlington. I was so stoked when he told me he was coming down that I could hardly wait for this day to arrive, and I wasn’t disappointed. Nick is one of the coolest dudes I’ve met, so laid back and easy to talk to. I don’t what I was expecting, if anything, I think I just had a couple of reservations about meeting someone in person that before today I had only emailed. Is that weird? Probably.

Anyways, we had a blast. After BP we just kind of wandered the stadium. Nick and Kenny had gone to the previous night’s game, so he had already done his picture taking. We took him over to the Rangers Hall of Fame for a little bit, and he seemed to enjoy seeing some of the history of the team.

As for the game, our seats weren’t together. Dirk and I had our mini plan seats that were up in the third level, and Nick and Kenny had seats next to the hill in centerfield.

While we were in our seats I tried to zoom in on Nick and Kenny….

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…. who you can see just to the left of the cameraman’s black umbrella. Nick is in the yellow shirt with his glove in front of his face. Funny, I didn’t know Nick was camera shy?!

Oh! I forgot to mention something that happened after the group photo above. I had brought my official “Happy Youngster” t-shirt to this game with the intention of having Nick sign it.

Here’s a shot as it went down….

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I told Nick after the game that I would send him a picture of it hanging on my wall, so after he sees it, you’ll see it here.

Anyways, I tried to get more used to the camera Dirk had given me by taking some zoomed in game pics.

Here’s Josh Hamilton after his first hit of the game….

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Here’s a couple more of Hamilton leading away from first….

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I took more game pics of Hamilton at the plate, guys in the field, but they were all blurry so I deleted them. I guess I need more work with the image stabilizer.

I met someone else at the game tonight, Jeremy Hyman and Alex (I’m not sure if Alex is his brother or a friend). If you don’t recognize the name they are the ones from the blog: 30 Stadiums in 60 Days. Jeremy is a recent college graduate that decided to load up his car and tour all 30 MLB stadiums in two months. Can you believe that! I would love to do that and told him so, to which he said that he has heard that from everyone he’s talked to. He and Alex are both great guys, really taking in and enjoying every moment of their journey. After talking with them for about 10 minutes or so I bid them farewell and told them we’d stay in touch via the blogs.

Dirk and Shawn and I spent the rest of the game in left field. We didn’t get anything out there, in fact the closest we came to a homer was in the top of the fourth when Jayson Nix hit a solo shot two sections to our left that a guy in the front row bobbled and dropped into the gap. Now, I didn’t get a picture of where the ball actually came to rest because I’m a dork and didn’t think about it, but to save time trying to type out an explanation I’m gonna give you an idea from an old picture I have….

















Now I must say that it doesn’t look like that any more. This picture is from two seasons ago when there was a manual scoreboard in left field. Now it’s a digital video board that is air cooled so most of the walkway back there is taken up, but the outfield side of the wall is still the same and the arrow is pointing to where the ball landed. It’s not completely flat, it’s recessed about a half inch or so, so the ball had a fairly good resting place.

The guy that dropped it was sick, he couldn’t believe he missed it (he would’ve had it if he were wearing a glove), and he stared at it for the rest of the game.

At that point, our minds were racing with ideas of how we could get that ball. We figured the quickest and easiest way was to throw our retriever at it and hope we hit it on the first try. We decided to wait until after the game so as not to draw any unwanted attention to ourselves but it wouldn’t matter. Somewhere around the seventh inning we noticed some comotion over there where the guy was sitting and a few minutes later Shawn went to look and said the ball was gone. Someone must have climbed up the wall from down below and gotten it.

Oh well. That’s okay.

The rest of the game was good, the Rangers came back to win 4-3.

After the game we all walked out of the park, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Jeremy and Alex: It was great to meet the both of you, I hope to live vicariously through you for the next few weeks!

Nick and Kenny: You two are a couple of studs. You are more than welcome down here anytime (next time don’t stay in Dallas!). Nick, I’m glad I finally got to meet you bro. You truly are a class act. 

Time of Game: 2hrs. 56mins.

Attendance: 24,427

Next Game: Wed. 7/28 vs. Oakland

6/27/10 vs. Houston

Sunday June 27th was a long day. Literally, it was a long day, that’s not a complaint. We left our house at around noon, stopped at a convenience store for water and batteries, and headed to the ballpark. It was a 7:05 start. Why did we leave so early you ask?

Let me explain….

My friend Dirk and I had been talking to a gentleman that is a season ticket holder who mentioned all of the autographs he gets at the games he goes to. At any given moment he can pull a ball out of his bag that has been autographed by a Ranger. You name them, he has their autograph. Naturally, Dirk and I were very intrigued and inquired how he came about them. He then told us that he stands by the parking lot tunnel that the players drive into either before or after games. Some players stop and some don’t, but he says of all the times he’s been out there he has come away with at least one autograph. That settled it, we had to do this.

We had actually made one attempt at getting some autographs prior to this afternoon. Dirk and I went out there after the game on Thurs. 6/10, the only problem was the next day was an away game so all of the players were in a hurry to get to the airport to head to Milwaukee. At least we got a feel of where to go, plus we saw what some of the guys’ rides were.

So that brings us to this day. It was a weekend game as well as a 7:05 start, so we loaded up our daughters to make our first true attempt at getting some Rangers autographs.

Here’s a photo I took of the girls shortly after we arrived at the tunnel….

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The area was nothing more than a median, like on a roadway. There are two fairly tall pine trees that offered really good shade, as well as there being a decent breeze to make it even better.

We got there at around 12:30 and there was already about 8-10 other people there who said no one had stopped yet, and only a handful of people had been by so we knew we were in good shape.

Our first autograph would come from the manager, Ron Washington….

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6_27_10 003.jpgThe photo on the left is of Dirk, his daughter Kaitlyn, and my daughter Sarah. The one on the right is just Sarah. I took two photos of each autograph so Dirk would have one of his daughter and I would have one of mine. Just a semi-unnecessary explanation of why there’s two pictures of each.

There were periods of inactivity between autographs, and during one of these periods I realized that I was in dire need of a bathroom. I had drank a bottle of Mountain Dew on the way there and was now paying for it. I didn’t want to have to walk anywhere, but I didn’t have a choice. Long story short, I had to walk about a quarter of a mile to a youth ballpark located just outside the Rangers’ ballpark. By the time I returned, the girls had gotten Nelson Cruz’ autograph and just finished getting catcher Matt Treanor’s….

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Just for the record, I don’t know the lady that’s in the photo, I just wanted to document what Treanor drove. And in case you’re wondering, we got Washington on a baseball, Cruz signed a hat that Sarah wanted to get a bunch of autos on, and Treanor signed a ball. If I had been there, I would’ve had Cruz sign a ball and Treanor sign the hat, but oh well. We were happy to have them period.

The next one that stopped was hitting coach Clint Hurdle….

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6_27_10 007.jpg…. who would sign Sarah’s hat.

The fifth and final autograph for today would come from pitcher Chris Ray….

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…. who would also sign Sarah’s hat.

Pretty cool! In all, we were out there for about two hours and came away with 5 autographs. Of course there were guys that drove by and didn’t stop, but that’s understandable. I didn’t expect to get all of the teams’ autos today. We were completely satisfied with what we came away with.

At around 2:30-2:40 we left and headed over to Pappasito’s for a late lunch. Gotta love Mexican food!

After stuffing our faces we headed back over to the ballpark and walked in the gate at around 4 o’clock. There was a pregame concert by Los Tigres del Norte so the gates were opened earlier than usual, but it didn’t matter because when we got out to the left field seats we saw this….

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The ballpark hosers. Yes, the cage was up but, I’ll admit, I was still a little scared because we usually don’t see them until after batting practice. After about 5 minutes of uncertainty a guy walked out and set an empty bucket by the screen in centerfield. Yes!

I shouldn’t have doubted that there would be BP, but I haven’t ever been in that early before so it threw me off.

Within the next fifteen minutes the Rangers would come out to stretch and throw….

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…. and five minutes after that, they would start to hit and I was forced to stare at these for at least 10 minutes….

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…. which, I’m sad to say that I would not get.

I would get on the board though when a kid next to me dropped a toss up into the gap that I would reel up with my device and give to him. He was thrilled, because he thought he was out of luck. When he saw me get it and slowly bring it up, he was ecstatic. I love doing that, because it’s a double win. I get to count it because I reeled it up, plus this kid in particular got his very first Major League baseball. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I came within inches of catching my first BP homer on the fly. I leaned as far over the rail as I could but was still about two inches short and the ball fell into the gap directly underneath me. Unfortunately, there just so happened to be a guy walking by down there that would pick up the ball (before I could tell him not to) and toss it up to someone else. Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.

That was it for the rest of batting practice for me. Seriously, for both teams. Now if I wanted to start counting toss up “assists”, I would have cleaned up. I must have pointed to 6-8 different kids at various points of batting practice and every one of them got the ball. I even toyed with the idea of pointing to myself a couple times for fun but thought better of it. The kids would get their ball and run off to show someone what they got. That may have been my problem. If I had not pointed and just let them stay around, maybe I would’ve had more gap-retrieval opportunities. Who knows?

If you’re wondering why Sarah wasn’t by me trying for her own toss ups, it’s because she and Kaitlyn were by the left field foul pole up under an overhang in the shade. It was hot. Very hot.

Once the Astros’ BP concluded I walked a couple sections over to where Dirk was and we noticed a ball in the middle of the visitors’ bullpen. It wasn’t placed there, but hit there during batting practice. I asked the closest security guard if I could swing my device out to knock it closer and he said go for it. It was about 6-8 feet out from the wall so it took a few throws but it worked. I would soon reel it up for our 2nd and final ball of the day. Dirk would end up with 3 of his own (all with his device), and I had to fight off a little disgust at never being able to out-snag him.

We next went to track down the girls and go sign up to be designated drivers and get our free soda coupons. There’s two different places in the ballpark and if you do both, you get two coupons which is cool because Sarah and I both would get free drinks.

Along the way we saw the Silver Boot trophy which is what the winner of the two Rangers/Astros series receives….

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I’ve been told that the boot is a size 13. In case you were wondering…

The four of us didn’t sit together this game. Sarah and I were in the upper deck on the first base side, and Dirk and Kaitlyn were in the bleachers in left-center.

Here’s a picture from our seats….

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…. of the second appearance of the day by the Ballpark Hosers.

The camera I was using was given to me just that morning by Dirk, so I had to get the hang of using it. I had grown so used to my wife’s camera from using it for a couple years, that this new one was a whole new animal.

Here’s a shot of where I stood during batting practice….

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I know you can’t tell where I’m talking about, but it was above the “g” in the blue Samsung sign in left-centerfield.

Here, let me test out the zoom and show you a closer look….

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Come to think of it I was actually across the aisle from the spot above the “g”, but who’s keeping track?

I asked Sarah what she wanted me to take a picture of next and she said the Texas flag, so I obliged….

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…. with both “Texas” flags.

The pregame festivities included a tribute to Hispanic heritage….

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…. as well as the TCU baseball team, who had just been eliminated from the College World Series the previous day….

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I also took a few shots of the Rangers during their pregame warmups….

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6_27_10 025.jpgThe photo on the top left intrigued me because it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a catcher throw to a catcher. The photo on the bottom right was taken about 5 seconds too late. That’s Vladimir Guerrero getting stretched by the trainer and Josh Hamilton behind him (or above his head, however you want to describe it). Josh had gone about 10-15 feet away from Vlad and got down on his belly and “army-crawled” all the way to him. When he got there, he did something (I didn’t see what) to scare the he!! out of Vlad. I saw him crawling, looked away to get my camera ready, and looked back to see Vlad and Josh laughing. I wish I had seen what he did, but at least I saw some of it.

I mentioned before that Dirk and his daughter were sitting in the bleachers, well I zoomed in as far as I could and this is where they were sitting….

















If you click on the photo you’ll see two red arrows pointing to Dirk and his daughter. I told him to call me around the third or fourth inning to see if there were any empty seats that Sarah and I could have.

Somewhere around the fourth inning he said there were two available in the row behind him, so we headed that way and when we got there I took this photo of Sarah….

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…. behind section 53 in left-centerfield.

While sitting in the outfield I took the following two pictures of different angles of the park….

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…. and I must admit that I like them both.

As far as the game goes, the Rangers scored early and often accumulating 10 runs by the end of the 6th inning, and that would be all they would need to defeat Roy Oswalt and the Astros. 10-1 was the final. Josh Hamilton hit the second longest home run in the history of the Ballpark in Arlington. It was a 468 foot, two-run mammoth shot to the 2nd deck above the Rangers dugout in right field.

The game was exciting on all fronts and capped off what was an all around great day of baseball.

Time of Game: 2hrs. 38mins.

Attendance: 37,487

Next Game: Wed. 7/7 vs. Cleveland 

6/4/10 vs. Tampa Bay

I was real fired up for this game, being that it was the first home game for the Rangers since May 23rd, plus the fact that I was attending this game with my aunt Lori, I was ready.

We got to the park at around 4:05 and stood in line until 4:35 when the gates would finally open. It was hot standing in line, so I knew it was going to be a scorcher during batting practice, but that’s okay I was eager to get snagging.

When we reached the left field seats, the scene was basically the same as it has been the last couple of games I’ve gone to. It was me, a vendor that was out of uniform, and two other guys for the first 30 minutes of BP.

I wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the board either.

Within the first five minutes Josh Hamilton was working on his opposite field power again. I say again because I had snagged an oppo homer from him at this game. Today I would snag another for ball #1 of the day. I didn’t catch it on the fly though, it hit a section to my right and I ran over and picked it up out of the empty row.

Rangers pitcher Derek Holland, who is currently on the disabled list, was in left field directly in front of me and I noticed the hair on the back of his head looked completrly shaved, so I got his attention and asked him if he shaved his head, and he lifted his hat and sure enough it was all gone. I gave him a thumbs up and let him get back to work. A few minutes later he tossed a ball to a guy a section to my right, so the next time he had a ball in his hand I called his name, but to no avail.

The wall in left field has a video board that is actually in the gap between the stands and the outfield wall. Here is the best photo I have to show this….

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Sorry for the bad exposure, but it served its purpose. I was actually standing directly above the Min/Oak game summary that’s the 2nd from the left.

That entire video board is air cooled, meaning that there huge fans that are constantly running to keep this thing cooled off. I’m telling you this because after two unanswered call outs to Holland I felt that he probably couldn’t hear me. I then started to realize why I never try for toss ups in the first place. I feel uncomfortable doing it, like I’m trying to compete with little kids, though were none around yet.

About 5 minutes later something odd happened. I’m not sure if Holland did something to get my attention or if I just happened to look at him, but he flashed a ball at me and fired it from about 30 yards away directly into my glove for ball #2. How cool is that? I yelled out a quick thank you and stuck it in my bag.

It wasn’t my first official toss up, but it’s the first one I have gotten without having my daughter Sarah with me.

So, once again I was at my personal record of two (2) balls. I have achieved this total on three different occasions and wanted so desperately to surpass it.

I kept waiting. Nothing was falling into the gap in front of me or the visitors’ bullpen to my left, so I was left with trying to snag on the fly, something I have never done. A little while later a ball finally landed in the gap and I was all over it. Or so I thought. By the time I got my retriever out of my bag and made my way over to the spot I needed to be I noticed that I would not be able to snag this one. Well, not without potentially wasting a lot of valuable time going after just one ball. You see, the ball had come to rest in front of the video board. The best way to describe it is, the wall that the players on the field would hit if they ran into it is actually chain link fence (yeah let that sink in a moment). Then there is about a 5-6 inch space before you get to the actual video board itself which is bolted into the concrete. After that is a 3-4 foot walkway between it and the stands. There, clear as mud? Good.

The ball had landed in front of the video board, but to the very end of it. I possibly could have swung my retriever to try and knock it out to where I could raise it up, but didn’t want to risk losing out on balls that were hit into the seats. So I forgot about it.

Not too long after a Rangers rightie that I couldn’t identify hit a bomb that was going to land way behind me to my right, so I took off up the aisle beside me and made to the appropriate row a split second after the ball hit about two seats in. I grabbed the ball off the ground for ball # 3. Yes! Finally I had outdone two balls. The only downer was Sarah was not with me. When I got home and told her about it she was upset for a moment then smiled and said we would set our own record! I love my daughter!

The Rangers finished up a short while after I had snagged my third ball, so I went to sit with my aunt who had been sitting in the shade this whole time. We watched the first 5 minutes or so of the Rays’ portion and after seeing no balls hit out in that time we decided to head elsewhere. By this time the gates had opened to the rest of the fans, it was hot, I really didn’t want to try and outsnag kids (Fridays are fireworks games so the kids are out in force), so we went over to the Rangers hall of fame since my aunt hasn’t seen it yet.

From there we made our way out to the centerfield gift shop and I was treated to a new t-shirt by my awesome aunt. I got a red Nelson Cruz player shirt. I’m really growing fond of him.

After the shopping we got drinks and cheese fries and headed to our seats in the upper deck. Section 339 row 1 seats 9 and 10. The best part about these seats is the fact that the sun was behind us! See ….

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The game was slow. By slow I mean it was a 7:05 start and by 9:00 it was just the fourth inning! So food was a big player this evening. After the cheese fries there was kettle corn, a hot dog for my aunt, a cheeseburger for me, sunflower seeds, ice cream, and of course drinks. Lemonade was the drink of choice tonight.  

There was some offense to be seen, Josh Hamilton (my favorite Ranger and possibly favorite player) hit a solo shot in the fourth inning. Rookie first baseman Justin Smoak hit a 2 run shot of his own in the second. The Rangers were down 4-0 before Smoak’s tater, then exploded for 7 runs in the bottom of the fourth to lead 9-4. The Rays would add single runs in the 6th and 7th but would fall short, losing 9-6.

The starting pitcher for the Rangers was the normally on fire C.J. Wilson. Although tonight he would only last 5 innings, giving up 5 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits, with 5 strikeouts and 4 walks, while picking up his fouth win. Neftali Feliz came in to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Here’s a goofy shot of the 3 balls that I came away with tonight….

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Time of Game: 3hrs. 10mins.

Attendance: 36,245

Next Game: Not really sure, either Thurs. 6/10 vs. the Mariners or Fri. 6/18 in Houston

5/22/10 vs. Chicago Cubs

This would turn out to be a very enjoyable day at the ballpark for me. Aside from the fact that my daughter Sarah was not with me (that would have made the day perfect), it was just a great day all around.

My friend Dirk and I headed to the ballpark at around 2-2:30ish in anticipation of a large crowd and we wanted to be close to the front of the line to get in with the other season ticket holders. When we arrived at the gate, which would eventually open at 3:30, there were around 15-20 people in line. Not too bad. When we get in we head straight to left field and most others head to right field.

When we finally got in and made our way to the left field seats this was the scene for the first 30 minutes….

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Including myself and Dirk (who is at the far end of these left field seats in the red shirt and tan shorts) there were only five (5) of us! For the first full 30 minutes!

It was amazing, but honestly I don’t know why I didn’t come away with 10 or more balls.

I stayed toward the left field foul pole like I have been doing a lot lately (to no avail), and after about 2-3 minutes Rangers’ rightie Michael Young hit one my way that I was slow to react to and eneded up picking it up off of the ground for ball #1.

Yes, that felt good! I had grown really tired of my current dry spell and was very relieved to have it end.

Not too long after my first snag, Josh Hamilton’s group had come up to hit and Josh was apparently working on his opposite field power, because he hit one about 5 rows deep two sections to my left that hit a seat and bounced into the gap in left field. It actually landed just to the right of where the guy in the red shirt and blue hat is in the previous photo. I headed over there with my retriever (in case you’re new to this blog or you forgot, I can’t use the glove trick anymore according to stadium security) and reeled it up within a minute for ball #2. Which I’m sad to add ties my personal record that I have achieved on two other occasions, here and here.

By this time I was feeling really good, and we still had about 10-15 minutes before the gates opened to everyone else! I was already thinking of at least three balls. I didn’t want to get greedy, I just wanted to break my personal one game record.

By the way, I showed you the view to my left earlier, well here’s the view to my right….

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Just before the gates were about to open up to the rest of the fans, a ball was hit my way. It was coming right down the line, and all I had to do was go up one row (I was already on the aisle) and move in about 4 seats. The problem was I got there about a second after the ball did. It hit off the back of a seat and flew back on the field. Man!

My mistake.

Just in case you’re wondering, by this time my last report from Dirk was he had 5 balls. That’s the upside to where he was, he could snag them out of the visitors’ bullpen to his left, as well as the gap in front of him. It also helped that he was able to catch two on the fly (something I have never done).

Anyways, once the gates opened I didn’t spend much more time over by the foul pole. I made my way over to where Dirk was so I could be in a better spot once the stands started to fill up. Which didn’t take long either. Here’s a photo just 10 minutes after the stadium opened to the public….

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It only got worse from there. This was my closest competition….

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That was directly in front of me. There were five more just like these to my left. That’s okay though, I’m not complaining. Kids deserve to snag balls just as much as I do. It’s just that I saw my chance at breaking my record eventually vanish into thin air.

At this point, I was stuck on two balls, and Dirk had snagged seven (7). I think I will work my way a little closer to him next game. He would’ve had 8, but the guy standing right next to him decided to put his hand inside the pocket of Dirk’s glove just as he was about to make a basket home run catch. I hope it stung. Oh well, that stuff happens.

When batting practice was wrapped up we made our way out to the concourse to get some drinks. We had stopped at Taco Bell on the way to the park, so our food was already taken care of. Gotta love those value menus!

Our seats were in the third level behind home plate, so we decided to head that way to eat and escape the sun. This is what it looked like from up there….

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Not too bad if I say so myself.

As the first pitch drew near I wanted to try and get a photo of Derek Holland delivering that pitch. My camera is not the best for long distance shots so this is the best I could do….

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When we got to our seats we knew there would probably be no chance for us to move down to the lower level like we try to do most games, so we settled in with the intention of staying there the whole game.

After a few innings I started to talk to the gentleman to my left. He was in his mid to late 50s I would say, and he was there with his father who was most likely in his 70s. The son was in town from Philadelphia and had taken his father to this game. With my dad living in Arizona and me wanting so badly to go to a game with him I thought this was pretty cool. I asked the man about Philly, if he’s a Phillies fan, if he goes to a lot games. He told me that Citizens Bank Park either has or had a 63 consecutive game sellout streak. Wow. God bless the Ballpark in Arlington!

At one point the man got up to go to the concession stand and his father leaned over the empty seat, got my attention, and proceded to thank me for keeping his son company. What do you say to that? I simply told him the pleasure was all mine, and he started to tell me about how he grew up in upstate New York, and that all of his boyhood memories were of watching Ruth, then Gehrig, and all of the greats play live. I could’ve listened to him for hours, though it was only around five to ten minutes. Shame on me, but I never got either of their names. I would really like to thank both of them for making my night at the ballpark even much more enjoyable.

What a great evening! But it gets better.

I can’t remember the exact details, but to the best of my recollection in around the second inning, a foul ball was hit to the second level, first base side just past the media boxes behind home plate. Nothing special right? Foul balls are caught by someone every game.

Keep reading.

A few innings later, a foul ball was hit to the exact same spot as the one I just mentioned, and the same guy caught it.

This guy….


















…. under the big red arrow. That is a zoomed in look of my view of his seat.

When he caught the second foul ball I knew I had to take this picture, and I wanted to mention it in this entry. As time progressed I decided that I wanted to get down there and talk to the guy, so when Dirk and I were ready to move down to the lower level we stopped on the way to find him. Oddly enough as we were about to go in the tunnel toward his section he came out of the nearest bathroom. Perfect. Now I didn’t have to look like an idiot in front him and everyone else, I could just look like an idiot to him!

I started off by asking his name (which is Chase Eriksen) and just some basic questions about how he felt. You know the drill, what did you think, what was your reaction, those vanilla questions. I then told him that I wanted to get some pictures of/with him to potentially use in an article on the mygameballs.com website. After a short explanation of what exactly that site was, we got to the picture taking.

Here’s Chase with his snags….

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…. and just because this is my blog, here’s the two of us with his snags….

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He was a real good sport. I know it must have been weird having a complete stranger come up to you and want to take pictures with you, asking your name.

Oh, I forgot to mention that he was in the emergency room just that morning with a kidney stone. At the time I was talking to him he had still not passed it, but was all hyped up on pain medication and almost didn’t even go to the game. I’m sure he was glad he decided to go.

Chase, I hope you’re “passed” the worst of it now. If you’re interested, you can read the article that Alan Schuster wrote about this event here.

See, I told you it was a great evening. What else could you want?

Oh yeah, there was a game on the field. It was a good game, a close game throughout the whole thing. Other than the fact it sounded like there were more Cubs fans than Rangers fans, and also that the Rangers ended up losing, it was a very exciting game. The Rangers hit two home runs (one by Nelson Cruz and one by Vladimir Guerrero). The game was tied 3-3 after the 4th and stayed that way into the 10th. The Cubs then began to pinch hit three straight left handed batters against Darren O’Day who gave up two runs. The Rangers got one back in the bottom of the inning but that’s all they could muster.

Rangers lose 5-4. Dirk and I’s record at the ballpark this year fell to 8-1.

The Rangers lost and Sarah wasn’t with me, but today was still a very memorable day at the ballpark for me.

Here’s a couple looks at the two balls I snagged today….

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Time of game: 3hrs. 8mins.

Attendance: 46,180 (yuck!!)

Next game: Fri. 6/4 vs. Tampa Bay