4/25/16 at Comerica Park: A’s @ Tigers

For the first time in 2016, I was at Comerica Park to see the Tigers take on the Athletics. I got to the stadium at about 5:10, which is 20 minutes before the gates open.4.25 outside stadium Do you see that tent to the left of the gate? It was for 97.1 The Ticket, which is the sports station in the Detroit area. I won a water bottle with by rolling a seven with two big dice(You won a prize with a nine or seven), and then went to the right field gate. My dad and I were first in line, but the person opening our gate didn’t know how, so we went to the next gate, where our tickets wouldn’t scan. After that was resolved, I ran to the bleachers and picked up this:4.25 ball 1I probably could have found more Easter Eggs if there hadn’t been the problems at the gate, but it was out of my control. A ball rolled towards the wall, and I ran under it and noticed that it was a Blue Jays 40th anniversary ball! I asked John Axford, but instead of tossing it up, he said that I could keep the home runs. I was mad because I had been trying to get a commemorative ball since I started ballhawking. Commemorative balls were what introduced me to ballhawking, and I have been doing it since. Since the A’s weren’t hitting deep home runs, I took a good spot in the front row, right in front of the staircase. A few minutes later, an Athletic hit a home run that bounced off of my dad’s hands in the third row, and bounced into the second row, where I beat Bill, the Tigers fan that caught five foul balls during a game earlier this season. I looked at the ball and to my surprise, it was another Blue Jays ball!4.25 ball 2After more than three years of trying, I finally had a commemorative ball, and it had a very clean logo. I saw a ball roll to the wall out by the corner, and so I ran over to try to get the toss up, but the ball was tossed back towards the net in shallow center field. As I jogged back the shallower part of right, a line drive was hit right towards me, so I reached out and grabbed it for ball three. Check out this ball:4.25 ball 3Oh yeah, a 2016 Grapefruit League commemorative ball. As BP was coming to a close, I ran to the A’s dugout, but got nothing. It was dead for about an hour, and I went to our seats behind the Tigers dugout, and got Mike Aviles to throw me his warm up ball.4.25 ball 4We had seats in the third row that we got cheap off of StubHub the night before, and there was no one in the front row around us until the fourth inning. Around that time, I noticed that when Dave Clark, the Tiger’s third base coach, walked out of the dugout in between innings, he brought out a ball to toss into the crowd. In the middle of the fifth, I got his attention, and he signaled to me that the next ball that he got would go to me. After the A’s finished warming up, Clark got the ball, and tossed it to me for my fifth ball of the day. 4.25 ball 5In the next two innings, the Tigers were up to three home runs in the game and Jordan Zimmerman had allowed his first earned runs in the Old English D. In the middle of the seventh, I tracked down Zack Hample and got my copy of his book, The Baseball, signed.

I moved into position for the final out ball in the ninth, but Justin Wilson didn’t throw it up. The Tigers won 7-3, and I finished with five balls.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

5 balls at this game

5 balls at 1 game this season=5 balls per game

28 MLB balls

2 commemorative MLB balls

66 total balls

9/27/15 at Comerica Park: Twins @ Tigers

For the first time since 2010, the last game at Comerica Park of the year would be during the regular season. I would be there, and I would have this:9.27 tc passThat’s right. Two hours before the gates open. The regular gate opening time for most MLB stadiums. When my dad and I got to Comerica Park, this was happening.9.27 pride plaza set upThe Lions home opener was against the Denver Broncos, and it was on Sunday Night Football. It was gonna be crazy in Downtown Detroit. When we got into the Tiger Club Lounge, I tried to get into the seating area to watch the Twins warm up, but the guards wouldn’t allow it. I hung out in there for a half hour, and when the guards finally let me down, I sprinted down to the Twins side of the field while throwing on my Twins gear, and two minutes later, I got a Twins player to toss me a ball. This was my 49th ball between the majors and minors. About ten minutes later, another Twin finished warming up, and when he was scanning the crowd, he saw me in my Twins gear, and in a frantic attempt to get a video of the ball coming to me, I got this picture.9.27 ball 50 in mid airThe ball is by the Tigers logo on the scoreboard. Here is the ball:9.27 ball 50Nice. I got nothing else from the Twins pregame, so I went up to the upper deck to take some pictures.9.27 view from upper deckI went up to the very top and got this panoramic:9.27 panoOn the way down, I got a look at construction of the Detroit Events Center, future home of the Detroit Red Wings.9.27 detroit events centerI went back down to our seats, and tried to get a ball from Eduardo Escobar, but failed. When there was nothing going on, I watched Paws mess around with the Fox Sports North equipment9.27 paws takes the micIn the bottom of the fourth, Alex Avila flew out to Aaron Hicks, and when Hicks ran to the dugout, he tossed the ball into the crowd, because I had the longest arms and the biggest glove, I got this9.27 ball3As for the rest of the game, I was able to help a little kid get a ball, and I got some bubble gum from the Twins. I got nothing postgame, and that concluded my season.9.27 season overThank you, Tigers. My dad and I went to a bar near the old Tiger Stadium site, and then played catch on the field. Goodbye, Detroit.

BALLHAWING STATS:

3 balls at this game

9 balls in 5 games this season

1.8 balls per game this season

23 balls in 21 games lifetime

1.1 balls per game lifetime

8/16/15 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium: Lookouts @ Blue Wahoos

My family decided to go on a trip to Destin, Florida, which is about an hour from Pensacola, and we took a night to go to a Blue Wahoos game. After crossing a long bridge (3 miles), we approached Pensacola8.18 entering pcolaand the stadium8.18 stadium exteriorBeautiful grounds. I ran around the ballpark to left field, because there was no seating, so home runs all go out of the stadium, and most go into Pensacola Bay behind the stadium. The Lookouts hadn’t started hitting, so I looked in the bushes for a ball from Blue Wahoos BP that could have been missed. There weren’t any, but I did see this.8.18 ball in waterThat is a baseball that went into the bay. I played the first part of Chattanooga batting practice behind the wall, but got nothing, so I went behind the center field fence and stood on a ledge to ask for toss ups. I ended up getting three of them. As the stadium was about to open, an usher tossed a ball from the stands to me.8.18 ball 4I saw a ball on the field by the tarp, and got an employee on the field for my fifth ball of the day. The stadium had been open for less than five minutes, and I had already tied my personal best. This was gonna be a good day. I got nothing until right before the game. I was waiting at the top of the section at the Lookouts’ dugout, and as soon as the anthem ended, I ran down, hopped over a row of seats, and got this.8.18 ball 6I struck out in the top of the first inning, but in the bottom of the first, this happened:8.18 ball 7Beautiful. That’s seven for those of you counting at home. Eight innings to go, and I was feeling double digits. I didn’t get anything else until the seventh, when Pensacola catcher Kyle Skipworth tossed me a third-out ball.8.18 ball 8In the bottom of the seventh, I started talking to the in-game host, Downtown Dave. He told me where the umpire tunnel was, and also went to the dugout to get a player to toss me ball nine.8.18 ball 9In the eighth, a foul ball hit off of the facade in foul territory, hit the cement in the last row, and bounced to the front, row, into my glove. Double-digits baby!8.18 ball 10The smeared logo is from the bat, and the black streak across the front is most likely from the facade. Nice. With two outs, Downtown Dave the usher at the section by the umpire tunnel to get me a seat by the tunnel, and told the security guard in the tunnel to tell the ump to give me a ball when the game ended. Here it is.8.18 ball 11That was all for the night.8.18 empty stadiumGoodnight, Pensacola.8.18 bright lightsBALLHAWKING STATS:

11 balls at this game

19 balls at 3 games this season

6.33 balls per game this season

28 balls in 6 games lifetime

4.67 balls per game lifetime

8/6/15 at Cooley Law School Stadium: Timber Rattlers @ Lugnuts

Back in Lansing, this time to see the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the single A affiliate of the Brewers, take on the Lugnuts, who are affiliated with the Blue Jays. My dad and I didn’t show up until a few minutes before game time. I watched Lansing starter Conor Fisk warm up, but wasn’t able to snag anything.8.6 fisk waming upAs you can see on the scoreboard, the Lugnuts were celebrating their 20th anniversary. Were they going to be using commemoratives? I doubted it, but there was always a chance. I didn’t get anything pregame, and I spent the first inning behind home plate.8.6 panoThe building under construction in the background is going to be apartments built into the stadium as part of a $20 million renovation that included a new jumbotron and party area. I didn’t get any foul balls in my area, so I moved to the concourse, because there were a few shots over there.8.6 spot for leftiesThis was my view for lefties, and8.6 spot for rightiesthis was where I stood for righties. In the top of the third, I moved down, expecting a strikeout. I was right, and when catcher Michael De La Cruz ran to the dugout, I called out to him, and this was the result. 8.6 ball1Not commemorative, but I was still happy because the Midwest League had gotten a new commissioner, and with that, there was a new design for the ball.

This was the ball design in years past

  It looks more like the major league balls, and because of that, I like it. I went down to the T-Rats dugout, and was able to get a ball from a player that I didn’t recognize. As for the game, the Lugnuts lost, and I only got close to one more ball. I was standing in my spot for lefties, and I thought a righty was coming up, but was wrong, as I made my way back, a sharp foul ball was hit to where I had been standing. The ball hit the wall in the back of the concourse, and I almost reached it, but a man stopped it under his foot and let a little girl get it. Whatever, it was more exciting for the girl then it would have ever been for me. In the ninth inning, I moved here.8.6 ump spotI was the only one around except for a scout, so there was no competition for an umpire ball. After I got that, I went to the Wisconsin dugout, and my Brewers hat got me the lineup card. It was a nice night at one of my favorite ballhawking parks.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

3 balls at this game

8 balls at 2 MiLB games this season

4 balls per game this season

17 MiLB balls in 5 games lifetime

3.4 balls per game lifetime

7/2/15 at Comerica Park: Pirates @ Tigers

My cousins were in town from Indianapolis, and it was my cousin’s sixth birthday. For his birthday, we decided to go to a Tigers game, since he and his brother had never been to one. My family showed up around the time that the gates opened, and the Pirates had just finished throwing, so I raced to the dugout, and got Jeff Locke to toss me this,7.2 ball1It was the last day of All-Star voting, and the Tigers were going all out to get Yoenis Cespedes to Cincy.7.2 vote cespedesAs I waited for my cousins to meet me, I noticed that it was almost noon, which would mark the middle of the year. Here is what the scoreboard looked like when the year hit it’s midway point.7.2 halfway through 2015My cousins finally got down to the dugout, and the Tigers were about to start throwing, so we went over there, and got the attention of Jeff Kunkel, who is probably the least fan-friendly bullpen catcher in the league. We left empty handed. The Tigers bullpen was dead too. The game didn’t go too good, and the Tigers got blown out. I had to leave in the ninth inning to make it to my baseball game (We got destroyed). I told my cousins how to get an umpire ball, but they were kicked out of the section by an usher. Fun day with my cousins, brutal day of ballhawking.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

1 ball at this game

7 balls at 4 games this season

1.75 balls per game this season

20 balls in 20 games lifetime

1 ball per game lifetime

6/16/15 at Comerica Park: Reds @ Tigers

My sister was gone, my dad was gone, my mom and I had nothing to do. Tickets were cheap. It was a great night for a ballgame. My day started with what was most likely the worst batting practice I’ve ever seen. 6.16 bpThere were only two home runs that made it to the stands, and probably only about eight balls tossed up. My Reds gear did nothing. I went to left field because most of the hitters were righties, but the two home runs hit in the area were swallowed up by the bullpen. That bullpen pretty much makes it impossible to ballhawk over there, so I went back to right. Nothing. I went to the Reds dugout as BP was ending. Dead. I went to the bullpen, and when I asked catching coordinator Mike Stefanski, he flipped it over his head, into my glove. Yes.6.16 ball 1For some reason, the Reds were using balls with former commissioner Bud Selig’s signature, instead of the new balls with new commissioner Robert Manfred’s signature. Weird. 6.16 view from seatsAs for the game, here was my view. The sun was awful, but after it went down, it was a good view.6.16 pretty skyMy mom and I moved here, and the sky looked amazing. In the ninth inning, I went back to the Reds bullpen to try to get a postgame ball from the relievers. The Tigers went on to lose, but I did get to see Aroldis Chapman pitch at 101 miles per hour.6.16 chapman 101After the game was over, I don’t know where I was looking, but a ball was coming towards me when I looked back to the bullpen. I made a leaping catch, and here is the ball.6.16 ball 2Another Selig. Weird. Also, if you look closely, you can see that the stamping is tilted. One of the stars is closer to the top stitches than the other star. Balls that are different are always neat.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

2 balls at this game

6 balls in 3 games this season

2 balls per game this season

19 balls in 19 games lifetime

1 ball per game lifetime

5/24/15 at Comerica Park: Astros @ Tigers

One of my main goals for this game was to get one of the commemorative baseballs that the Astros were using to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their rebrand from the Colt .45s to the Astros, but since they were on the road, I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I couldn’t snag one. My dad and I got to the stadium at about 11:15, and the gates qould open at 11:30.5.24 enteranceAfter my dad got a spot in line, I went next to the fountain in center field to get a peek at the field, and I saw something to get excited about.5.24 field view from outsideAs you can see, the field was set up for batting practice! Sadly, there was no one in the cage, but that didn’t mean that no one would hit. My first ball of the day came pretty easily, as I got it with the stadium only being open for four minutes. An Astros player that I couldn’t identify threw it to me, but it fell short, so another player threw this up to me.5.24 ball 1My next ball was a little more exciting. After an Astros player and bullpen coach Craig Bjornson finished throwing, I convinced Bjornson to throw the ball to me. As I was reaching to put it in my backpack, he signaled his glove to me like he wanted me to play catch! We threw it back and forth a few times, and he started throwing it to other people as well. This scared me, because it was the first time that I ever played catch with a professional player/coach and I wanted the ball from the occasion. After he was done playing catch, he handed the ball to bullpen catcher Carlos Munoz and he started playing catch with another player, with the ball that I had snagged! At this point, I had started to get worried that I wouldn’t be able to get the ball back. Luckily, when they were done throwing, Munoz pointed me out in the crowd, and I got the ball back.

After the Astros finished throwing, I headed out to the bullpen.5.24 astros bullpenI asked bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte for a ball, and he told me to come back after the game. I watched the first few innings from our seats, this was the view.5.24 view from seatsAfter about four innings, I moved down here.5.24 view from front rowIn the sixth inning, Preston Tucker hit a home run into the Bell Tire blast zone, which is the tunnel in the right field corner. As soon as it was hit, I jumped up, and I can be seen on the Astros broadcast.5.24 astros screenshot of tucker hrI tried to get the toss up from the guard in the tunnel, but he relayed it to another usher, and the ball made it’s way to the dugout. I later found that ball up for auction on MLB Auctions. The rest of the game didn’t go so well, and the Tigers lost 10-8. In the ninth inning, I moved to the seats behind the Astros bullpen. I didn’t see Javier, but I got a ball tossed up from the crowd of relievers leaving the bullpen.

BALLHAWKING STATS:

3 Balls at this game

4 Balls at 2 games this season

2 Balls per game this season

17 Balls in 18 games lifetime

.94 Balls per game lifetime