I kicked off this weekend with the last of my April games. I had wanted to snag 60 balls this month, but in retrospect, that’s probably unreachable.
I went to Cleveland with one goal: snag a Minnesota Twins’ HHH Metrodome final season ball. It was the first time I’d been back to Cleveland since August 2008.
Game: 6 Balls (2 hit, 4 thrown)
Season: 48 Balls (17 hit, 25 thrown, 6 device)
Games: 10 Games (8 with BP, 2 without)
Average: 4.80 Balls per Game
Career: 214 Balls
This was my first ever trip to Progressive Field in Cleveland OH.
I went with a fellow ballhawk, Amac, who was also making his first
appearance at Progressive. We left around 12:40 and arrived at the
field just before 4. On the way to the park, we stopped at a WalMart
which was a half hour outside of Cleveland to buy some Cleveland gear.
I purchased a Grady Sizemore Indians shirt, along with an Indians hat
and 5 other hats (they were only $3 each). Amac picked up a July 4th Indians shirt, an Indians hat and a small glove so that he could attempt the glove trick.
finding a place to park in Cleveland, which wasn’t that difficult, we
walked around the stadium to find the will call window. (View from outside the gates looking in)
there were 2 windows open, so we were able to pick up our tickets
before the gates opened. The guy at the window got my hopes up by
saying “I see you have some dugout seats here, nice!” He was lying. Our
seats were in Sec 518 Row D. I bought them off of ebay for $9.99 for
the pair. We never even sat in them though, we just needed to get into
The gates at Progressive Field open at 4:30 on
Monday-Friday, giving fans access to the Right Field seats and Heritage
Park. While we were in line, we scoped out our competition. There were
two old ladies, a “family” of four with two little kids, an
octogenarian with his grandson, and some guy from Kansas City. There
was no competition like at PNC Park. At 4:25, the gates were opened,
and we rushed in.
got my first ball immediately from Shin Shoo Choo in Right Field. I
called out to him, “Could you throw me a ball please?” He happily
obliged. Choo continued to throw balls to about 5 or 6 more fans before
going in to take his round of BP. He was a nice guy. I got my second
ball from a Anthony Reyes a couple minutes
later. I had called out to him several times, but he acted like he didn’t hear me. I waited for a ball to roll up to the wall and politely asked
him for it.
The right field and center field seats at
Progressive Field are about 4 feet back from the wall. In between the
wall, there are black boards and a small railing, so doing the glove
trick was impossible. The 80 year old guy that was there with his
grandson told me to get my stuff off the board between the railing and
the wall because the Indians didn’t like fans putting their things on
there. I took it off, but was a bit miffed. Who was this guy to tell me
this, and why didn’t he bother the other people that had their bags on
it? Two minutes later, a long fly ball came towards me and the old man.
It bounced on the warning track and was just about to land in his glove
when I snatched it out of the air before he could get it. I figured it
was fair game. The old man snapped, “You dirty rascal.” It was ball #3.
the Royals came out and took batting practice. I changed into my Royals
shirt and hat. I managed to get ball #4 from Joaquin Soria as he was
walking back from doing his sprint. I had a tough time identifying any of the Royals pitchers except for Soria and Kip Wells because they all had wind breakers on. So, make sure you print out a photo roster, especially of the pitchers.
It went cold after that, as I
didn’t get another ball until the end of BP. It came from Royals lefty Josh Newman. I was on the phone, and noticed a ball roll
to the wall. I walked down to the front row with my glove up. He
scanned the crowd, saw my Royals gear, and tossed me ball #5.
practice ended soon afterward, so we walked around the stadium for
awhile. I really liked the stadium, its concourses weren’t crowded, and
there were many great places to eat. We settled on Market Place (I
think it was called that). And got a combo meal for $8.75. For $8.75,
we got a hamburger, fries, and a small drink. It was a great deal
compared to PNC Park.
We also walked over to Heritage park
during this time. Heritage park contains many monuments commemorating
the history and players of the Cleveland Indians. We walked down the
stairs and went to the area closest to center field. In center field,
there are some tall trees (hemlocks?) in a 5 foot space. Behind the
trees is a black wall, serving as the batters eye. I
could see underneath this wall to see the base of the hemlocks. There
was a ball lying there. There was only about a 5 inch space from the
concrete to where this wall started, just big enough to slide an arm
in. I pointed the ball out to Amac, figuring I should give him the
first try, since I had gotten 5 balls and he had only gotten 2. He
tried to reach it, but couldn’t. I gave it a shot since I had longer
arms, and still couldn’t reach it, even with my first baseman’s mitt on
my hand. Then, Amac used the glove that he purchased at Wal-Mart
earlier in the day. He used some string that I gave him to do a
variation of the glove trick. The tossed the glove in and nudged the
ball closer, getting it fairly easily. Two older folks who were
onlooking were very impressed and said, “You should get some kind of
prize for figuring out how to get that!”
There was one other
ball in this section, but it was directly behind the trunk of one of
the hemlocks and it was impossible to get. Amac tried for 10 minutes
but was unsuccessful.
The game was starting soon, so we took a
spot in the left field Toyota Home Run Porch and hung over the rail and
watched the first three innings or so. We
were astonished that the Indians do not throw their warm up balls into
the crowd. They give them back to the bullpen catcher. We were hoping
to get a home run ball, but there was no such luck.
top of the 5th, we walked along the main concourse, looking for a
distracted usher so we could sneak down. We spotted a female usher who
was playing with a patron’s baby. She was totally distracted, so we
just walked right past her and took a seat in an empty row about 12
rows back of first base. We
stayed in those seats the rest of the game, hoping to get a foul ball.
There were about three that came our way, but none in our section.
game got very interesting in the 8th. The Indians scored 5 runs to take
an 8-5 lead and held on to win. After the game, they announced they
were throwing victory balls into the stands. We raced over behind the
dugout, but they were stupid soft toy baseballs. We waited until many
people left, and then walked through a few rows of the stadium looking
for season tickets. We found 8 Season Tickets that folks had left
behind and a few issues of batter up magazine.
Game: 5 balls
Season: 99 balls
Career: 137 balls
Attendance: 23,920 (55.1% full)