Amy, Olivia and I got up at 6AM today in order to drive to Baltimore to catch the Orioles home opener. Amy and Olivia had never experienced an Opening Day (Amy always has to work them) so they were both excited.
Fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak teamed up with me on this trip, and we all left around 6:50 AM. After a stop, we arrived at the Camden Yards gates at 11:20 AM and were fourth in line.
It was pretty chilly today, so Nick and I played catch for a bit to stay warm while Amy and Olivia snuggled together. At 12 noon, all of the gates opened. Every gate in the park. There would be no season ticket holder only time today.
PNC Park did the same thing yesterday. However, Camden Yards opened their gates three hours early, while PNC Park opened theirs two.
Upon entering, the Orioles players were playing catch along the first base line, and had yet to begin batting practice.
I was able to get Matt Wieters to toss me ball #1 on the day. It helped that there weren’t many other fans around. Fellow ballhawk and Baltimore regular Matt Hersl congratulated me on the first ball of the 2012 season. He told me that ironically, he got the first ball of the 2011 season – from Matt Wieters.
Since I was the first one to get a ball, I decided to move back about 10 rows so the other ballhawks could try their luck. I also thought that maybe a player would see me in my Ripken jersey and long toss me. As I was walking up the stairs I spotted an Easter Egg.
It was only about three rows up, so it likely was an overthrow that the players had while warming up before the gates opened.
Anyhow, I headed out to left field once batting practice got under way. The first Orioles group didn’t display much power, but I did snag a ground rule double here:
It actually tipped off my glove, but I recovered to pick it up in the row in front of me.
As batting practice progressed, left field got more and more crowded, so I spent some time going back and forth between left field and center field.
While in center field I glove tricked ball #4:
and ball #5 from the gap:
I saw ball#5 get bobbled by fans in the front row while I was in left field. So, when I used the glove trick, I offered it to the fans nearby, asking if one of them had dropped it down there. They just smiled and shook their heads no. Nice people.
Near the end of the Orioles BP, I noticed that the Twins all came out to warm up. I made my way from center field to the third base line and was able to get this player to toss me ball #6. After throwing me the ball, he headed straight to third base to take grounders. Can I get some help on who this is?
After snagging the ball, I took a closer look at it, and it was an Orioles Park 20th anniversary commemorative ball. That made my day.
The Twins are very heavily left handed, so I spent their entire batting practice in center field. While there, I glove tricked another ball, after which an Orioles staff member came down to speak with me. He wanted to know what I was doing. I explained it to him and he told me how he thought I was lowering things down onto the field to get signed because of the pen that is attached to my glove. I told him, “I just use it to get the balls out of the gap, I’m not putting it on the field, is that ok?” He responded by telling me, “By all means, you’re more than welcome to do that. Me and a fellow employee we’re just wondering is all.”
Everyone is so nice on Opening Day.
It was my 8th ball of the day, which tied a personal best for me at Camden Yards. I had snagged eight there two other times. Batting practice was about over, so I headed over to the Twins dugout to try and get #9:
It didn’t happen though, but I was still more than happy with 8:
After BP, Amy, Olivia and I made our way to our seats.
Olivia had her own special seat that ‘the Easter Bunny’ brought her:
She really took everything in:
One of the cool things about Opening Day is the ceremonies that precede the game. Here are the Twins lining up on the field:
And the Orioles came out of the bullpen area on a long Orange Carpet:
Here’s a video of the Orioles introductions:
And the National Anthem. You always know you’re in Baltimore when the song reaches the “Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner…” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch the Anthem:
It was a great Opening Day. The Orioles ended up winning the game 4-2. This was the view from our seats:
And here are today’s baseballs:
Amy bought me this shirt:
She’s the best!
Game: 8 Balls
Season: 13 Balls
Career: 1,557 Balls
Attendance: 46,773 (I think this may be the largest attended game I’ve ever been at)
Don’t forget about the Shirt giveaway – this Sunday.
As you may have noticed, for over a week or so now, I have been blogging every day. The purpose was to increase my readership during the offseason as we head towards opening day, get myself back into the habit of blogging, and count down the days one blog at a time.
In order to reward you for reading, I’ve decided to give away a MLB prize each week. Every Monday, I will post a contest for new item. Then, a winner will be chosen on Sunday, a week later.
So let’s begin by showing you what is being given away in the #countingbaseballs giveaway for this week. It’s…
A Matt Wieters Baltimore Orioles name and number official Majestic shirt. Retail value $22. Brand new. With tags.
Up close front:
Brand new from the store:
Since I’m extra nice, the winner may choose a size MEDIUM or LARGE. If you’re on the bigger side, I’m sorry – I’ll try and have larger shirts in the future. But you could always re-gift if you win. Anyhow, this shirt is sure to please and Orioles fan, or ballhawk that will see the Orioles at a game in 2012. Oh, and I’ll even pay the postage.
How to Enter:
1) Leave a comment.
You can enter up to seven times per week simply by leaving a comment. Non-pertinent, spam, or inappropriate comments will not be accepted. If you comment multiple times on the same blog entry, it still counts as one entry. For example, if you commented on three different blog posts from this week, you’d have three entries.
2) Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet. Simply retweet my daily posts with a #countingbaseballs in your RT each day and I’ll count that as an entry. My blog is connected to my twitter so that I automatically tweet once I post a new entry. Each day, I’ll search #countingbaseballs to see who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters.
At the end of the week on Sunday, I’ll have Olivia, Amy or I will choose a name from a hat and announce the winner. Maybe we’ll do it on youtube. The maximum number of entries per week is 14 if you leave comments and retweet.
Anyhow, I thought this would be a cool idea to give away some of my extra MLB Stuff.
I’ll end this post with some thoughts about Matt Wieters.
Where does he rank for you among the best catchers in the American League? Who is better than him? Mike Napoli? Carlos Santana? Joe Mauer? Alex Avila? I’ll rank him at 2nd. I like Carlos Santana best, but that’s probably because he plays for my second favorite team and I snagged a game HR ball from him in 2009.
Long suffering Pittsburgh Pirates fans are all too familiar with Matt Wieters. In 2007, the Pirates, led by David Littlefield, passed on Matt Wieters in order to select Daniel Moskos. Outrage ensued at the Pirates’ cheapness and on June 30th 2007, Bob Walk bobblehead night, fans orchestrated a walk out. Fans wore green to the game to signify owner Bob Nutting’s greed and then walked out at a pre-determined time. I was at the game, but I can’t exactly remember when it happened. The game was virtually a sell out, and although a few thousand people left, it wasn’t too noticeable in the grand scheme of things.
Wieters broke into the league in 2009 and has hit 42 home runs and has been an All Star. Daniel Moskos finally was promoted to the Major Leagues in 2011 and although he posted a 2.96 ERA in 24 innings. His H/9 (10.9) and WHIP (1.56) were high. In the Minors, he has a career 4.41 ERA, including a 5.46 ERA in 39 games at the AAA level. So, he really hasn’t proven in the minors that he’ll have a successful big league career yet.
And that catching position, well, the Pirates really REALLY needed Matt Wieters because rather than penciling his name in at catcher every day, over the last three years we’ve had to deal with Wyatt Toregas, Matt Pagnozzi, Eric Fryer, Dusty Brown, Jason Jaramillo, Chris Snyder, Ryan Doumit, Michael McKenry, Erik Kratz and Robinzon Diaz (who we traded Jose Bautista to get!)
God help us Pirates fans.
65 Days until opening day…
I decided to make one final trip this week to see a baseball game outside of Pittsburgh. My brother joined me for the four hour drive down to Baltimore. We arrived about an hour before the gates opened, and were the first ones in the park.
I ran to the right field foul pole to get early entrance with the season ticket that I had bought, and sprinted around the seating bowl. When I got to left field, I had it all to myself for about 2-3 minutes.
I found ball #1 laying in the front row.
Ball #2 was a home run hit by Adam Jones into the section closest to the bullpen. I sprinted over and back several rows to pick up my second ball of the day.
Minutes later, Matt Wieters hit a line drive home run in my direction. I ran to the spot where I thought the ball was going to land and got there just in time to make the catch of ball #3. I was aided by the fact that there weren’t many season ticket holders that come to week day games. Look at the crowd at 5:15:
Game: 6 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 198 balls (98 hit, 72 thrown, 28 device)
Games: 38 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.21 balls per game
Career: 364 Balls