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.
In my original schedule of games that I planned on attending, I had penned in five consecutive games in Cleveland this week, Tuesday through Saturday. However, with a new baby and new house, I was only able to make one game. I chose Friday, simply because the Twins have a bevy of left handed hitters, and the rest of the stadium opens at 5:30, thereby thinning out the crowd in right field a half hour earlier than during the week.
I had some issues on the way to Cleveland, as my car overheated (see the gauge up at the H?) and I had to stop and get coolant at a WalMart.
Therefore, I wasn’t first in line, I was ninth. To make matters worse, at 4:30, when the gates were to open – the supervisor realized that he didn’t have the scanners for the tickets. This caused a seven minute delay, meaning I would miss most of the Indians first, and best hitting group.
When the gates did open, the nine people in front of me (five of which had gloves) dilly-dallied getting batting practice T-Shirts – which are given away to the first 100 fans each day. This provided me an opportunity to run around them and be the first one to enter the seating area.
I immediately found two balls in the front row in right field. The first of which had a BP stamp on it.
While standing in line I overheard an Indians fan talking about the BP stamped balls and saying that they could be turned in for gift cards or something. After BP was over, I found THIS article with information about the BP balls, but it was pretty vague, so I’m still wondering what to do when the green stamped balls. Any help? Anyone?
There were a few people running around looking for baseballs, so I ran over to Heritage Park with another ballhawk on my tail and spotted ball #3 within reach just under the wall that separates the Heritage Park monuments from the trees. I reached in and grabbed it without having time to snap a picture.
I returned to the seats to play for home run balls, but not for long, as Travis Hafner blasted one into the trees in Heritage Park. I ran back over and used the Cleveland stick to snag that one.
When the first group wrapped things up around 4:45, I checked the bullpens for baseballs and noticed a real easy one in the visitors bullpen. I glove tricked that ball for ball #5,
and a few minutes later got Chris Perez to toss me ball #6 in center field.
I had only been there about twenty minutes to that point and had already snagged six baseballs. My goal coming into the game was nine, which would’ve given me 250 career balls at Progressive Field, but things slowed way down after that.
The Indians BP sucked the rest of the way, and the Twins had only really one decent group. It was their second group, which featured Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, and Jason Kubel. Those guys wore out the two sections closest to the visitors bullpen with baseballs.
Unfortunately, I was only able to snag one on the fly – a clean catch of a Thome home run for ball #7. I had a lot of close calls, so I headed over to left field for the last group, but failed to snag anything.
I also tried the dugout after batting practice, but all of the balls that were tossed into the crowds went to kids.
So, I went home – and a two hour and 15 minute trip ended up taking about three and a half? Why? Well, because my car overheated three times.
It’s not supposed to look like that under the hood:
Coolant was spraying out somewhere, and I have an obvious radiator problem. The third time I stopped I basically broke down, as my car started clunking and smoking.
After letting it sit for awhile and adding more coolant and water to the radiator, I was able to make it home, but just barely.
I have an appointment to take my car into the shop on Monday, which means that I won’t be able to make batting practice unless I can get a ride. So, are there any other ballhawks that would be interested in giving me a ride to/from batting practice? I’ll pay you. $20. That’s like a half tank of gas. Otherwise, plan B would be to bike 14 miles to PNC Park, which no doubt would suck. Plan C would be to take a bus, but the closest bus stop is a half hour walk away, and I’ve never, ever taken a public bus before.
Anyhow, here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 3 found)
Season: 339 balls (141 hit, 73 thrown, 80 device, 45 found)
Games: 64 games
Career: 1,461 balls
I wasn’t sure if I was going to go to today’s game at Progressive Field. After continuously checking the weather forecast throughout the morning, it looks like rain that had been moving through Cleveland would be gone.
Afterwards, Zack, Nick, Bryan and I went to Heritage Park to see if any balls had landed in the trees there. There was nothing to be found, but we did take a few photo opportunities:
Showing the Target Field balls:
and an even better picture, with a clear view of the Target Field Balls:
Afterwards, we would all go our separate ways. I chose to go to the Twins bullpen area. I had noticed a ball laying in the bullpen.
It was a little too far out to do the glove trick, so I elected to wait and see if I could get the ball tossed up to me.
For lefties, I sat over in right field.
And I stayed on the home run porch occasionally for righties.
I stayed until the very end of the game – the 11th inning.
And watched the Indians win in exciting walk off fashion:
Also, this was likely the last game that I’ll have the #1 game on mygameballs.com, as Zack Hample is poised to remove me from the top spot on Monday.
Here are today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 8 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 69 balls (43 hit, 13 thrown, 7 device, 6 found)
Games: 10 games
Average: 6.90 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 647 balls
Streak: 106 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I decided to attend today’s Twins vs Indians game to try and snag a Twins Target Field commemorative ball.
Surprisingly, I wouldn’t have to wait long at all. Within 30 seconds of entering the stadium, I found my first ball of the day laying in the bleachers. Upon later inspecting it, I found out that it was indeed a 2010 Target Field ball.
Batting practice was rather slow today during the Indians portion, so I attempted to get a few toss ups. I got Chris Perez to toss me a ball, but some guy reached in front of me and robbed me.
When I saw the ball stayed in the trees and didn’t bounce out, I was off sprinting to Heritage Park.
Also running towards Heritage Park in front of me were Nick and Bryan Pelescak, as well as some other local Cleveland ballhawk.
We all got to the area at about the same time. As I was searching for the ball, I heard a fellow fan saw, “it hit farther down.” Myself and the local Cleveland ballhawk got to the spot at the same time. There it was. Justin Morneau career home run #168. The ball was impossible for anyone to get as it was lodged in the base of one of the hemlocks, between three thick branches.
It didn’t matter though, as I reached in with my stick (collibsible yard stick), poked the ball loose, and grabbed ball #10, and my third game ball of 2010.
The ball didn’t come without controversy, as the other ballhawk was real upset that he wasn’t able to get it. He wasn’t prepared. Luckily a cop was ri
ght there, and told me and the other guy that it was mine to get, as I “had something to get it with.”
Of course the other guy was a really sore loser and complained and heckled me the rest of the night. Apparently he reads this blog and takes exception to me and the fact that I catch a lot of baseballs. Whatever though. I dropped it and spent the rest of the game in left field foul territory, and came close on at least three foul balls.
I would finish the game with ten.
Nick snagged 11, and his brother Bryan 7. 28 between the three of us.
A good night at Progressive
Here are today’s baseballs: (Morneau HR #168 in foreground)
and the sweet spots:
By the way, this is the video of Justin Morneau’s home run in the first inning.
Game: 10 balls (4 hit, 3 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season: 61 balls (38 hit, 10 thrown, 7 device, 6 found)
Games: 9 games
Average: 6.78 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 639 balls
Streak: 105 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 8 games: 42 (Currently I am 19 balls ahead of last year’s career high season pace)