My Dad and I arrived at Rogers Centre at 430pm. The gates to the stadium wouldn’t open for another hour, so, we decided to go grab a Coke up in the Bar overlooking the field. The bar is called “Arriba.” It’s a really cool place to hang out before and after Jays games (I can’t say it’s cool during games because there’s no ballhawking potential). It really does offer some breath-taking views of the field.
Here’s a look down at the black hole they call a bullpen. As I said in my previous post, there’s nothing I hate more than big bullpens that swallow up game home runs. Come on!!
Here’s a look straight down into the 200 level left field bleacher seats. From what I’ve seen so far, it takes about a 400+ foot shot to reach this level.
An eagle-eye view looking down into center field. You can see the first two rows of the lower (100 level) deck bleacher seats. Be advised, if you’re not in the first 4 or 5 rows of the lower level, you will be under the overhang and not able to glove anything on the fly.
It was now about 515 pm, so, my Dad and I headed out toward GATE 11 which would send me right to the left field foul pole/left field bleacher area.
We grabbed a spot at the front of the line outside GATE 11 and saved one for Zack Hample.
When I was watching BP through the bar windows, I saw a baseball go into the lower grandstand seats down the left field line. In about the 5th row, I had reason to believe the baseball was still in the seats. Would it still be there by the time I get in??
I had my fingers crossed.
I sprinted down to the area to which I had hoped the baseball was still lying. I ran down the stairs and saw an usher in a bright green coat standing in the area I had hoped the baseball would be. I was about 20 feet away from him when I saw him bend down and pick a baseball out from under the seats. NO!!! I walked up to the young man and asked him if he was going to keep that baseball or give it me. I told him I was some kind of superfan freak and he reluctantly handed it over to me. Since a Jays player had hit it, it was an MLB ball and not one of the infamous Detroit Tiger International League baseballs.
As I’m shaking the young man’s hand for his generosity, I hear someone yell, “heads up!” I look up and BANG! A baseball hit the seats about 20 feet from me. I scramble over to that ball ahead of 2 other guys and claim it for number 2. Another official MLB ball.
I then headed over to the lower level (100 level) of left field bleacher seats to get a spot above the bullpen.
A few members of the Blue Jays grounds crew were shagging baseballs in the outfield. That seriously is my dream/fantasy/whatever the heck you want to call it…to actually shag baseballs on the field. I would do just about anything for that opportunity-just once.
The Jays wrapped up their portion of BP. One of the aforementioned grounds crew members entered the Jays bullpen to do some work on the mound. I looked down at him and noticed he had a baseball in his hands. Keep in mind, I’ve asked employees for baseballs in the past with little luck. Would this time be any different? Yes. I didn’t even get the chance to ask before he looked up at me and tossed it up.
Here is that gentleman pictured after his act of kindness…
Here’s a picture of baseball #3…
As you can see, the baseball has been so abused, you can barely read the writing on it.
It’s what’s left of an official MLB ball. The surface leather has a rough feel with no real deep scuffs or scars. It most likely was used out of a pitching machine.
The Detroit Tigers now had taken the field for BP.
Marcus Thames and Carlos Guillen were once again taking fly balls out in left field. After about 5 minutes, I asked Marcus Thames for a baseball. He tossed it to a fan about 40 feet to my right. I asked again and he looked up at me and nodded. Okay, he would throw the next one. Two minutes later, he did. International League ball.
Tigers pitcher Juan Rincon was shagging BP in center field when I yelled out to him, “Juan Rincon, Tigers fan, front row. Baseball please!!”
He fielded the next baseball and without hesitation, fired it into my waiting leather. Another Int’l League ball.
At this time, I moved over to right field. I felt I had used up most of my potential for toss-ups in left field.
Tigers pitcher Fernando Rodney was doing some wind sprints along the warning track in right field when I arrived.
Not too long after I arrived in right field, a baseball rolled up to the wall where Rodney was running. I asked for the baseball and he fired it to me. Int’l League ball-see a pattern here?
The same situation occurred with Tigers pitcher Bobby Seay. Thank you very much…! (Int’l League ball)
Tigers pitcher Eddie Bonine was doing some wind sprints out in right field when a baseball was hit in his direction. The ball was descending upon him when I yelled, “heads up, heads up!” Eddie curled up to protect himself and the ball bounced dangerously close to him. So I said, “ball for a save, Eddie?” Without hesitation, and feeling it well worth the effort, he tossed it to me for ball number 8 on the day. (Int’l League ball)
To wrap up a pretty damn good BP, Justin Verlander tossed me number 9 from right center field. I asked politely and he obliged. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was wearing his #35 jersey, either 🙂 And yup, you guessed it…a genuine fake leather Int’l League ball.
3 baseballs snagged from the Blue Jays = all Major League baseballs
6 baseballs snagged from the Tigers = all Internatinal League baseballs
So, who’s going to play like a pro? Who’s going to play like a bunch of minor leaguers?
Cheapskates. Oh well…beggers can’t be choosers, right?
During pre-game warmups, this was my view zoomed in from a ways away…
Nothing special, right? Wrong.
Take another look at the picture below.
That fella standing there in the Detroit Tigers shirt is none other than Zack Hample. Great positioning, Zack.
Zack, you really are as advertised.
The game got off to a bang with a home run by Miguel Cabrera and we were rolling.
Here was our view for the game from our front row centerfield bleacher seats…
Awesome view from home run territory…maybe I’ll snag a prized souvenir?
ahhhh! I love bleacher seats.
The aforementioned ballhawk extraordinaire, Zack Hample, would be seated in the 200 level bleachers directly above us…
Speaking of game home runs, Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate in the 5th inning. He had already gone deep in the 1st inning.
Here it comes, baby. I shuffled through the first row to my left toward centerfield. I was tracking it all the way. I’m camped underneath it, glove ready. It was a bomb.
It ended up hitting off the concrete facade directly above me and bounced back onto the field directly to Jays centerfielder Vernon Wells.
I yelled to Vernon Wells and held up my glove…within two seconds, the game home run baseball was in my glove.
The red arrow above shows where the Cabrera game home run struck the facade.
The red arrow below shows a sore loser and another look at where the homer hit…
Alright, enough of that. Besides, yellow is my color. That’s like marigold or something.
The Miguel Cabrera game home run ball…
THE 48TH GAME HOME RUN BASEBALL OF MY BALLHAWKING CAREER.
I didn’t snag it on the fly, but a game homer is a game homer, no matter how you stack it up. It’s the only one in the world hit by that player for that exact career # home run. Baseball is a game of statistics-always was always will be.
Here’s another look at the game homer…
Yet another look. I know-I’m a geek…
This picture shows the brown mark where the ball bounced down off the warning track.
I’m having a blast and I’m spending it with my Pops!
A special thanks to Usher Evan for taking this picture for us. We talked with Evan throughout the game in Section 141. Evan is an extremely friendly young man who’s passionate about baseball and dedicated to his position with the Toronto Blue Jays. If everyone was as friendly as him, the world would be a better place. Thanks Evan!
Evan was a world of knowledge when it comes to his Jays.
Some tidbits I learned from this friendly young man…
- It takes 20 minutes to open and close the roof.
- It costs $9 in electricity to open and close the roof.
- The field turf contains 1300 individual square/rectangular sections.
To name a few…very interesting.
An all around great day at the park.
2009 BALLHAWKING STATS
- 10 total balls 4/8/09
2 balls hit
8 balls thrown
(1 game home run)
TOTAL BALLS = 15 (2 games)
7.5 balls per game