It was getaway day for my Dad and I. The last day of our road trip. Three days went quick.
I’m having too much fun to leave now.
What will the 3rd day bring?
After I finished blogging the previous day’s activities, my Dad and I headed out to the stadium. The gates were opening at 11am for the 1237pm game.
On the walk from our downtown hotel to the stadium, I gave ZACK HAMPLE a call to see if there would be Batting Practice. Since, Zack had a sweet room in The Renaissance Hotel that overlooks the field, I would get a quick answer straight from the man.
Zack set the phone down. I could hear him yell down to a Detroit Tigers coach below, “are you guys taking BP today?” That followed by a, “no, okay.” Zack picked the phone back up and informed me that it must be the Blue Jays taking Batting Practice since the cage and nets were up.
This was a good thing.
My Dad and I were almost to the stadium when we stopped by one of those street vendors with the hot dog carts. We ordered up a few Italian sausages and scarfed them down for a little pre-game meal. If you’re ever in Toronto, you have to eat at least 1 street vendor sausage. They’re delicious.
The time was now 1050am and we had our spot at the front of the line (they’re were only 10 people present for all lines).
Zack Hample joined us a few minutes later and we were ready to rock and roll.
When the gates to the stadium opened at 11am, we sprinted down into the bleachers and began our day’s work.
I spotted Blue Jays LF/DH man ADAM LIND standing in left field shagging baseballs. After a few minutes, I had BASEBALL #1 from this hot-hitting young player.
Another baseball rolled out near the bullpen where I was standing. Blue Jays pitcher BRANDON LEAGUE picked it up. I politely asked him for the baseball and he underhanded it to me for BASEBALL #2.
The big boppers for the Jays were now taking their turns in the cage (Wells, Rolen and Rios).
So, I headed to the 2nd level of bleachers for some BP home runs.
Keep in mind, the Tigers had been using those cheap plastic/synthetic International League baseballs all series. Those just don’t carry like the official MLB balls do. The Jays were using MLB balls, so, the 2nd level was not such a bad idea.
Up I went.
When I arrived at the 200 level in left field, there were about 5-7 fans total in the entire left field home run sections.
I played in the middle of the bleacher-area. Equal distance to run left and to run right for BP home run baseballs (Clears throat-ballhawks, you paying attention?).
It didn’t take long for Jays stud ALEX RIOS to jack one in my direction. It was over a whole section away. I took off running to my right as it hit the seats. It took a high bounce forward and after a little hurdling, I had BASEBALL #3.
A minute later, SCOTT ROLEN jerked one up to the 200 level. This one was hit to my right and a whole section over, too. I took off after it and claimed that one in the seats for BASEBALL #4.
Here’s a picture of how the Rolen BP homer came to a rest…
The Jays bleacher seats fold up. That little gap in the bottom is just small enough to pin a baseball in between the seat back and the actual seat. Keep this in mind if you’re ever running after one.
Before this group of hitters were finished, Alex Rios hit one about 100 feet to my left. After a short sprint and a high bounce back toward the field, I had it for BASEBALL #5.
A man with his 16 yr old son said to me, “give it to the kid!”
So, I asked the kid/young man/guy/lad/licensed driver, “you bring a glove?”
Laughingly, he replied, “no.”
To which, I replied, “I won’t help you if you won’t help yourself.”
There you have it. Case closed.
After this big-hitting group was finished, I headed back down to the 100 level of bleachers.
When I arrived, a grounds crew member was picking up a baseball off the warning track.
I yelled out to him, “baseball for a Blue Jays fan, please?” He looked up at me and laughed. So, I said, “come on, I even cracked out the old-school Jays jersey just for you!” Obviously gaining his approval, he looked back up at me, smiled and tossed me BASEBALL #6.
A few of the Jays lefties were now hitting. So, I headed over to right field for a better chance.
Blue Jays pitcher SCOTT RICHMOND was shagging BP in right field. Every time a baseball would come his way, people would scream things like,
Give me a ball. Hey you, toss up a ball. Gimme a ball. Hey, how about a ball.
Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. Try calling him the name his mother and father gave him.
So, I poked my head over by him the next time a baseball came his way.
I said, “Scott. Scott Richmond. Can I have a baseball please, sir?” He looked up at me and without hesitation, tossed one to me for BASEBALL #7.
The guys next to me said that I only got it because I knew his name.
No kidding, really?
Back to left field where Jays pitcher SHAWN CAMP tossed me BASEBALL #8 after a polite request.
Seated directly behind me while I snagged the CAMP toss-up was a nice young man named Alex, attending the ballgame with his grandmother. These are the things I really love to see. Family spending valuable time together at a baseball game. They call it “our great game” for a reason. So, I turned to him and asked him if he had brought his baseball mitt to the game. He held up a gently used baseball mitt on his left hand. Very good.
I then asked him if he had gotten a baseball yet. He said he had not. The SHAWN CAMP toss-up would become his own.
g Practice ended, so, I headed over to the Tigers side of the diamond for a warm-up baseball.
I was in about the 5th row at the conclusion of pre-game warm-ups. Most of the Detroit Tigers had retreated to the dugout. Tigers SS ADAM EVERETT remained. As Adam walked off the field and toward the visitor’s dugout, I stood up and yelled, “Adam Everett, baseball please!” He smiled and threw me BASEBALL #9.
The game was about to begin. I headed to meet back up with my Dad where we would view the game.
Here’s what the walk to my seats looked like…
Come on people. 15,297 in attendance during an opening week game?
A bit of advice: Never take for granted the fact that you have a professional baseball team.
What happened? Lind hit a home run to my section on the left field side of the hitter’s eye.
It was easier to digest when I found out it would have been pretty hard to put a play on it. It was hit to the front middle of a crowded row. The Jays fan who caught it on the fly had a glove on and reached up and toward the field standing in the front row. I could have gotten close to it probably, but still would have had to run a 1/2 section over and 3 rows down over a few people. Sometimes, that’s just how ballhawking goes. You just have to play the odds. It bites you in the rear once in awhile.
In the 9th inning, I headed down to the Tigers dugout. After the game ended, I ran down to the front row and asked home plate umpire Chris Guccione for a game ball. I got his attention but he just shrugged his shoulders and put his hands up. I’m not sure what had happened. Either he didn’t want to give me a baseball OR he didn’t have any left in his pouch. I believe the first to be true. Usually, a fan that knows the umpires names gets rewarded.
It wasn’t meant to be this time around. I’ll try again next time.
Now, the team was leaving the field. I scanned everyone’s hands and mitts for a ball. Finally, one of the Tigers bullpen arms (not sure exactly who it was-I think it was ZACK MINER) came walking toward me. He held up the baseball, I held up my glove and he fired it in my direction. I caught it for BASEBALL #10. Right after I gloved it, the unknown Tigers player pointed to my left. I looked over to my left and an 11-12 yr. old kid was standing next to me. The player motioned that the baseball was meant for the kid. I looked down at the ball, it was a game ball. I looked over at the kid and then back at the unknown Tigers player. He was still standing there waiting for me to give it to the kid. I looked over at the kid and gave it to him. Call it peer pressure. Whatever, it counts for my stats.
I met back up with Zack Hample. I told him it was nice to finally meet him. I told him to have a safe trip back to New York City. I congratulated him on a fine week of ballhawking and wished him luck.
We parted ways and my Dad and I headed out of the stadium.
2009 BALLHAWKING STATS
- 10 total balls 4/9/09
3 balls hit
7 balls thrown
2009 TOTAL BASEBALLS
4/7/09 = 5 baseballs
4/8/09 = 10 baseballs
4/9/09 = 10 baseballs
25 baseballs (3 games)
8.333 average per game