Tagged: Carlos Santana

5-13-11 Progressive Field, Cleveland

I took my first trip to Cleveland on Friday.  Last year, I made 19 trips to Cleveland and was a 20 game season ticket holder.  I didn’t renew my tickets and plan on making fewer trips this year, even though Progressive Field is one of my favorite stadiums to ballhawk in.

Amy was along with me for a weekend trip, that included a stop in Cleveland, and then two games at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Saturday and Sunday.

I thought batting practice might be cancelled.  There was a 60% chance of rain, and the forecast predicted heavy PM thunderstorms.  In fact, most of the trip was in heavy rain.

When we arrived, the rain had stopped, but when I peeked into the stadium, I saw the tarp out on the field, which is never a good sign – but it was negated by the fact that the cage was up, and there were several Indians out throwing.  The only thing that the rain had ruined was early batting practice, meaning easter eggs would be unlikely.

Amy got in line at Gate C, and even though we arrived at 3:50, we were still first in line.  I was hoping that maybe batting practice had started so there would be some balls in the seats, but it didn’t.

When I ran in, there was nothing to be found.

That didn’t stop me from looking though.

It ended up costing me a couple balls, because some balls landed in the seats, and I was more focused on finding balls than tracking them.  It was an error, but luckily Travis Hafner was in the cage, and he was in fine form today.

My first ball of the day was a home run that I chased down after it landed in the seats.  It was hit by Hafner.

My second ball was a clean catch that I caught here, also hit by Hafner.

Ball #3 was a ball hit by Carlos Santana that I ran over and picked up.

My fourth ball was thrown to me by Chris Perez.

Perez told me to give it to a baby in the front row, which I did.

He said, “The next one is yours.”  He made an effort to go track down another ball and threw me ball #5.  Below is the catch:

Perez has thrown me more baseballs than any during batting practice.  He’s probably THE most generous pitcher in terms of distributing souvenirs to fans that I’ve seen.  Although Livan Hernandez of the Washington Nationals is a close second.  Thanks Chris!

Travis Hafner took his final cuts in the cage and launched a home run into Heritage Park.  I ran over immediately to go snag it.

Another teenaged ballhawk had beaten me down there as he was in the section by the bullpen, but he couldn’t find the ball anywhere.

I found it though, it was laying in the tall grass beneath one of the trees in Heritage Park.

The first Indians ground finished hitting and I had snagged six balls from that group alone.

The rest of Indians batting practice featured tons of close calls and near misses.  There was running around, but coming up short:

Getting late to a spot that a random fan would pick up:

Balls that were hit right at me, but would fall just short and hit off the wall:

Balls that would be snagged in hats by five year olds directly in front of my glove:

Balls that fans would jump over rows for and dive on the ground to get:

Scrum balls that I’d lose out on:

So even though the Indians BP was great, and I started out on fire, it all got evened out by that cold stretch, as I failed to snag another ball during the Indians portion of batting practice.

Luckily, the Seattle Mariners feature a ton of lefties, so my chances of getting a few more would be decent.

Ichiro was the first batter for the Mariners, and he didn’t disappoint.  He put ball after ball into the seats.

I forgot my Mariners shirt, and Mariners roster, so I felt under prepared for the Mariners batting practice.  The only thing I changed was my hat.

There were more close calls as I moved closer to the bullpen.

I did get one Ichiro home run.  A ball that landed a few rows behind me and bounced right to me.  Here I am about to label it

In the mean time, I had noticed a ball over along the foul line that was probably about six feet out from the wall.

It was an easy glove trick ball.  All I’d have to do is fling my glove out a few feet, knock the ball closer to the wall, and it’d be mine.  The only problem was that a security guard was thirty feet down the line, staring directly at the area where I’d have to do the glove trick.

I decided to go and just do it quickly.  I went and snagged the ball, as planned, and the security supervisor marched down and demanded that I give the ball back.  I did.  But it wasn’t the same ball.  It was a beat up decoy ball that Nick and I use to play catch with on the Roberto Clemente bridge.  I kept ball #8 in my possession.

As I made my way back to right field, I found ball #9 that had gone unnoticed by everyone else that had been over in that section for a good ten minutes.

Back in right field, ball #10 was a clean catch that literally saved some lady’s face.  I ran over and caught the ball on the run directly in front of an elderly woman who wasn’t paying attention at all.  Amy didn’t get the picture because it was obstructed, but here I am labeling the ball.

Amy was sitting probably about twenty rows back taking pictures, when one of the lefties hit a bomb that landed a section over from her.  There was no one in the vicinity but her, so as several other fans raced in to claim it.  She got up and acted like she was going to go snag the ball.  This caused the other fans to lay off, and gave me enough time to go get the ball.  Amy knows that if she had picked it up, it wouldn’t have counted, so that’s why she left it there for me to get.  She gets a huge assist on ball #11.

It was picked up in row R under a seat

Ball #12 was a clean catch of an unknown Mariners left handed hitter.  Here I am about to make the catch:

And the reaction of several fans afterwards – you can see the guy pointing at me, saying Good Catch!

That had tied my personal record for balls in one game at Progressive Field.

My thirteenth ball was snagged over by the bullpen in a crowd of people.

It was a line drive home run that smacked an elderly man directly in the chest, knocking him down into his chair.  I picked the ball up a row behind him and gave it to him.  It would’ve been nice to have kept my thirteenth ball, but given the situation, I felt I had to give the ball up.

Amy and I left right after batting practice to head to Milwaukee.

We stopped at Jersey Mike’s just outside of Cleveland, one of Amy’s favorite restaurants.

We stopped off in Indiana at a hotel in Mishawaka IN.  I got it on priceline for $25.

Here are today’s baseballs:

Sweet spots:

Game:  13 balls (9 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found)
Season:  131 balls (54 hit, 33 thrown, 25 device, 18 found)
Games: 20 games
Average:  6.55 balls per game
Career:  1,253 balls
Attendance: 33,774

7-25-09 Canal Park

I decided to make a trip to Akron OH today.  The reason was two fold.  One, I found someone willing to part with 4th row Dave Matthews Band tickets.  Two, the Altoona Curve (Pirates AA affiliate) were in Akron for a weekend series.

I began by visiting a hotel in Akron OH to buy the DMB tickets.  I didn’t buy the tickets off just any DMB fan.  I bought them off a professional softball player.  Her name was Nicole Trimboli, and she is one of the stand outs for the Chicago Bandits pro softball team.  They had a series against Akron’s pro softball team.  If you’re not a softball fan, you’ve probably heard of one of her teammates – widely regarded as the most popular softball player of all time – Jennie Finch.

I didn’t meet Finch, but I met some of her teammates, one of whom I sold DMB tickets to.

Upon arriving at Canal Park, there was no batting practice, so I searched beyond the left field fence and found three baseballs.

One was a Major League Baseball, well used.  (And no, it doesn’t count in my official collection – only balls at MLB games do – regular and post season).

I then watched the Altoona Curve warm up, and snapped some photos of the Pittsburgh Pirates top prospects.

Jose Tabata stretching:
100_1963.jpgGorkys Hernandez chats with his girlfriend:
Pedro Alvarez signs a baseball for me.  That’s right!  I got him to sign an Arizona Fall League ball that I had with me.
100_1966.jpgDuring the game, we sat down the right field line, because all of the sections were basically empty.  I was hoping to get a game ball.  I wouldn’t have to wait long.

Up stepped the #1 prospect in the Cleveland Indians system, Carlos Santana.
top prospects.jpgSantana had 117 RBI last year, and already has 70 RBI this year.

Santana dug into the box and lauched a deep fly ball to left field.  It was a three run home run.  The ball bounced off a concrete walkway behind the left field wall, took a huge hop into some trees and disappeared.

I didn’t wait.  I left the stadium and ran the entire way to the area behind the left field wall to claim the ball.  I looked in the trees and the area behind the wall.  I didn’t see it.  Then I checked the water.

There it was.
It was floating towards a 20 foot high water fall.
If I didn’t act fast, the ball was a goner.  It was about 15-20 feet from the falls when I got to the scene.  I grabbed onto the railing, laid flat on my stomach and reached as far down as I could into the canal.  I was just barely able to grab the ball.

It was a perfect Eastern League ball, what I had been after all day.
It was also my first game home run ball of the season.  Although it won’t count in my major league official stats, it’s still a keeper.

Hopefully Carlos Santana becomes a star for the Indians in a year or two.

I stayed outside the park for an inning and a half, hoping to get another homer.  (If I wanted to, I could watch the entire game outside the park for free, and have almost a 100% chance of getting any home runs that came out.)
photo(174).jpgI re-entered the park, buying the cheapest ticket.

A few action shots:

Jose Tabata
100_1969.jpgPedro Alvarez (doing a Derek Jeter’esque time out request)
100_1972.jpgPedro would take the next pitch deep.  The ball cleared both bullpens and hit just below the scoreboard in right center field.  It had to be about 450 feet or more.  It was a bomb.
100_1971.jpgAlvarez congratulated at home plate:
100_1973.jpgPedro Alvarez now has 20 HR and 70 RBI’s this season.

The Pirates home run leader is Garett Jones with 10, and the RBI leader is Andy LaRoche with 37.

Needless to say, I can’t wait until Pedro Alvarez is on the big league club.

Here’s a look at today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots (I decided to number minor league baseballs in black ink.  I do all baseballs obtained at MLB games in blue ink)
100_1977.jpgAnd by the way, since I mentioned Jennie Finch, how about a run down of the top 100 female athletes of all time?  I got these from the bleacher report

100. Ashley Harkleroad, tennis
99.  Christa Alves, surfer

98. Candace Parker, basketball

97.  Anni Friesinger-Postma, skater

96.  Sandra Gal, golf
95.  Jeannette Lee,
94.  Katarina Witt, skating

93.  Kari Traa, skiing

92.   Hope Solo, soccer

91.  Biba Golic, ping pong

90.  Mia St John, boxing

89.  Gretchen Bleiler, snowboarding

88.  Logan Tom, volleyball

87.      Erin Phillips, basketball

86.  Hannah Teter, snowboarding

85.  Kimberly Lansing, poker

84.  Missy Gibson, surfer

83.  Ashley Constantine, surfer

82.  Kiira Korpi

81.  Kajsa Bergqvist, high jumper

80.  Jennie Finch

79.  Sasha Cohen, figure skater

78.  Christina Vukicevic, hurdles

77.  Amy Acuff, high jump

76.  Lolo Jones, hurdles

75.  Dallas Friday, wakeboarder

74.  Gabrielle Reece

73.  Vera Zvonareva, tennis

72.   Jamie Sale, skater

71.  Trish Stratus, WWE Wrestler

70.  Clair Bidez, snowboarder

69.  Victoria Azarenka, tennis

68.  Allison Baver, speed skater

67.  Alina Kabaeva, gymnast

66.  Misty May, volleyball

65.  Ana Paula Mancino, volleyball

64.  Lacy Schnoor, freestyle skiier

63.  Amanda Beard, swimmer

62.  Lara Gut,  skiier

61.  Natalie Gulbis

60.  Linn Haug, snowboarder

59.  Milene Domingues, soccer

58.  Juliana Veloso, swimmer

57.  Victoria Vanucci, tennis

56.  Daniela Hantuchova, tennis

55.  Laisa Andriolo, soccer

54.  Danica Patrick, NASCAR

53.  Caroline Wozniacki, tennis

52.  Tatiana Grigorieva, pole vaulter

51.  Bianca Cruz, softball, and Jason Pridie’s girlfriend

50.  Liv Boeree, poker

49.  Tanith Belbin, ice dancer

48.  Ashley Force Hood, NHRA Funny Car driver

47.  Maria Verchenova

46.  Claudia Toth, curling

45.  Anna Rowson, golf

44.  Stephanie Rice, swimming

43.  Maria Kirilenko, tennis

42.  Alona Bondarenko, tennis

41.  Kristi Leskinen, freestyle skiier

40.  Michelle Waterson, karate

39.  Maria Sharapova, tennis

38.  Ashley Massaro, pro wrestler

37.  Jenn Brown, softball

36.  Miesha Tate, MMA

35.  Allison Stokke, pole vaulter

34.  Torrie Wilson, WWE WCW Wrestler

33.  Anna Kournikova, tennis

32.  Gina Carano, MMA

31.  Nastia Liukin

30.  Zlata, gymnast

29.  Blair O’Neal, golf

28.  Jennifer Barretta, pool

27.  Heather Mitts, soccer

26.  Anastasia Luppova, billiards

25.  Taira Turley, football

24.  Tapai Szabina, handball

23.  Kyra Gracie, Jiu-Jitsu and grappler

22.  Bia Feres and Branca Feres, swimmers

21.  Lindsey Vonn, skiier

20.  Anastasia Ashley, surfer

19.  Alex Morgan

18.  Sophie Horn, golf

17.  Brie Bella and Nikki Bella, wrestlers

16.  Sara Galimberti, track

15.  Maria Kanellis, WWE

14.  Amanda Coetzer, tennis

13. Lokelani McMichael, surfer and triathlete

12.  Anna Semenovich, ice dancer

11.  Melanie Adams, Pole Vaulter

10.  Tania Archer, sprinter

9.  Stacy Keibler, WCW and WWE Wrestler

8.  Ana Ivanovic, tennis

7.  Lauryn Eagle, pro boxer

6.  Kim Glass, volleyball

5.  Leryn Franco, javelin

4.  Shanelle Loraine, billiards

3.  Malia Jones

2.  Niki Gudex, cyclist

1.  Alana Blanchard, surfer

Hopefully that makes this entry a little more interesting, since it was a minor league game I attended.
Minors Statistics:
Minors Game: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown)
Minors Season:  6 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown)
Minors Career:  6 balls