April 2015 Recap!

April was an incredible month for me to say the least. Over the course of the month, I went to 8 Major League Baseball games and snagged 17 balls. I also went to 2 Minor League Baseball games and snagged 9 balls. I’ll be going in chronological order, starting out with the Bay Bridge exhibition series. You can click any of my ball totals that are in parentheses to see my MyGameBalls.com entry from the game!

4/2/15 at AT&T Park (3 balls)

While these first two games were technically exhibition games that don’t count in the standings, I’m going to count by ballhawking stats from these games with with my regular season stats because the attendance was equal to that of a regular season game, plus they were played at Major League Stadiums between Major League teams.

My dad and I hadn’t been to a game in San Francisco since 2013, so I was excited to be back, even though it is the home of the Giants.

IMG_4392 copyI had no luck from a ballhawking standpoint during Giants BP, but it did end pretty quickly after I got in, so there were not many chances anyway. I was excited when the A’s took the field though, as I was decked out in A’s gear, so I expected to get a few balls. IMG_4539 copyMy first ball of the day was a tossup from A’s pitcher Brock Huntzinger. After he did finished routine catch at the start of BP, he jogged out to the outfield with the ball still in his glove. He looked into the crowd, spotted me and fired me the ball for my first of the day!

Ball #2 was a Mark Canha home run, which I had to run about 5 or 7 rows back for. AT&T Park has typical bleacher seating, with no seat backs, which makes it easier for ballhawks to run through the seats. Canha’s homer landed near the top of the section and I was able to catch it on the bounce.

The rest of A’s BP was pretty dead, Billy Butler and Brett Lawrie hit some good shots, but they were either too far away from me, or just didn’t make it over the fence. For me, one of the best parts of Batting Practice was seeing A’s farmhand and family friend Seth Frankoff decked on the field, in green and gold. The A’s had called him up for the exhibition series, so he was suited up alongside the rest of the team.IMG_4888 copyI stayed in the outfield until the end of BP, so I could not say hello to him. However, when I did get over to my seat down the first base line, I found several other members of the A’s Right Field Bleacher crew hanging out. After talking with everyone for a while, A’s catcher Stephen Vogt posed for a picture with us.IMG_4922 copyHere is how the picture turned out, it was a selfie taken by Bryanne! IMG_9834After that picture, my dad got a shot of me with the two balls that I snagged during A’s BP.IMG_4946 copy I put the two balls away and noticed A’s bullpen catcher Casey Chavez walking out towards the bullpen area. He had a ball in his hand, so I called out to him and he flipped it my way, my 3rd and final ball on the day. The game got underway just after 7, here is the view from our seats. IMG_9819During the game, I found out that one of my friends from school was also at the game, and that she had pretty good seats. I met up with her in the concourse and followed her through a maze of tunnels, emerging here…IMG_9821 Holy Toledo! We were literally a few rows behind home plate. Even though I didn’t have a ticket for the seat, I was able to sit there for about an inning before I was kicked out. While I was leaving, a streaker jumped onto the field and my dad was able to get a lot of great pictures of him. Streaker_edited-1After being kicked out, I went up to the Right Field area, where several members of the Bleacher crew were. While we were up there, we got to see switch pitcher Pat Venditte pitch in person, which was really special!Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 4.19.24 PM I stayed in Right Field for the final 3 innings. The TV cameras ended up finding us towards the end, here is a screen grab! IMG_9832After the A’s closed out the game, Bryanne took another selfie of the bleacher people.IMG_9835

It was a great day and I could not wait to be back at the Coliseum in two days!

4/4/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (5 balls)

This was  my first time back at the Coliseum since September of 2014 and I was incredibly excited. As soon as my family got to the stadium, I went to the team store and picked up a shirsey for my favourite player on the A’s, Brett Lawrie.IMG_6114 copy Afterwards, I took a picture of Will and the newest banner for the bleachers! IMG_6095 copySince Seth was with the team for this 3-game series, Will wanted to make sure we had a banner for him! Will then took this fantastic photo of me and my family!FullSizeRender When the gates opened around 11, the A’s were in the middle of Batting Practice, and I was stoked for it! IMG_6171 copyMy first ball of the day was a tossup from Seth, who was standing on the field right below Section 149. My second ball of the day was a Matt Olson home run, which I gave away to a bleacher friend. Ball #3 was a tossup from A’s pitcher Kendall Graveman, who they acquired from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade during the offseason. That was my last ball of A’s BP, but I wasn’t the only person in my family who snagged a ball… My mom also got a ball, her first ever baseball ever at a professional game, and it was a home run during A’s BP!IMG_6178 copy One thing to note would be the scoreboards for this game… IMG_6215 copyWhile the A’s had replaced and upgraded the scoreboards in the offseason, they were still displaying the old format on the new ones, missing pixels and all. There was a big unveil scheduled for Opening Day!

I had 3 balls at the end of A’s BP and I was hungry for more, so I was excited for Giants Batting Practice to start.IMG_6262 copyI went to left field for the first few groups of Giants BP and quickly came up with an Angel Pagan home run, which he ripped down the line. After this, I went back to right field, where Hunter Strickland tossed me up a ball, my 5th of the day! That was it for me during BP, here is a picture that Will took of me and the 4 balls I kept from the day.IMG_9891 As usual, I was sitting in Section 149 of the RF Bleachers, so this was my view for the game. IMG_9878While Drew Pomeranz started the game for Oakland, it was incredibly special to get the chance to see former Athletic Barry Zito in an A’s uniform for the first time since 2006.IMG_7635 copy The pitcher that followed Zito in the game was Doolittle. Not all-star closer Sean Doolittle, but his brother, Ryan, who also pitches in the A’s organization. He, like Frankoff, was called up for this series. IMG_7851 copySpeaking of Seth Frankoff… Guess who pitched the 8th inning for the A’s?IMG_8002 copy You guessed it, it was Seth! And he did an amazing job, striking out all 3 San Francisco hitters he faced in the inning. Like they did with the main scoreboards, the A’s also displayed the old ribbon boards along the second deck. IMG_9884The A’s ended up losing 2-1, but it was still a really fun day, considering I snagged 5 baseballs and got to see Barry Zito, Ryan Doolittle and Seth Frankoff all pitch in person. Opening Day was 2 days away…

4/6/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (1 ball)

Opening Day! This was my 3rd straight Opening Day in Oakland I was stoked! The day started off very early, with some tailgating. We hung out with the Section 148 crew in the parking lot, where there was lots of cornhole action going on, including Ryan (left) and Bryanne and Tike (right).Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 5.19.26 PMFellow 149er James (Also known as DJ Eden Roc) DJ’d the tailgate, which was a lot of fun.

IMG_9097 copyAfter spending time at the 148 tailgate, I headed over to the tailgate hosted by the local clothing company, Oaklandish, where they had a prize wheel set up, which you can see Carlos (left) and Satoshi (right) spinning below!Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 5.19.37 PMOn our way up to the gate, we ran into Will MacNeil, one of the most well-known bleacher folks, as he is the creater of the Balfour Rage.

IMG_9070 copyA’s BP was almost done when the stadium opened at 5:05pm, so I was shutout for a while once I was inside. My only ball of the day was a Rougned Odor home run, which I snagged in right field.

The A’s starting pitcher for this game was Sonny Gray, who led the A’s to an 8-0 victory, their first Opening Day win since 2004. WowIMG_9188 copyAfter the game, my mom, sister and I took a picture together.
IMG_9435 copyAll in all, this was a great day. I snagged a ball, the A’s won and I had a great time with my family and friends!

4/10/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (2 balls)

This was the first real giveaway game of the season and it was going to be a popular one: a Sonny Gray replica jersey. But it wasn’t just any jersey, it was a road jersey. So it was a Sonny Gray grey jersey. Good stuff. Well my family got to the Coliseum super early, well before the gates opened.

When the gates opened at 5:05, we headed inside. Check out how huge the line outside was? Crazy!
IMG_9454 copy Once inside, the A’s were already well into BP, with two groups done hitting and a third almost done. IMG_9524 copy
Long story short, I was shut out during the A’s portion of BP. After the A’s left the field, the Mariners took the field and began throwing.
IMG_9618 copy My first ball of the day was a tossup in right field from Mariners pitcher Yoervis Medina. I used a ball retrieval device to snag my second and last ball of the day off the out-of-town scoreboard. In case you’re wondering, I taped together two flags and put some duct tape on the end of one to pick up the ball. I ended up giving away both balls that I snagged at this game.IMG_9715 copy
After A’s Batting Practice, a group of bleacher folks took a cool picture. Given that Friday, April 10th was National Sibling Day, all of the groups of siblings that sit in the bleachers got together for a group shot. From left to right in the back row, you have sisters Amber and Rebekah, myself and my sister Pascale and sisters Kimberlee and Amanda. In the front, Taylor, her brother Dylan and their sister Jordyn.
IMG_9846 copy One of the most notable moments from the game was Oakland rookie Mark Canha hitting his first Major League home run. Since he’s a righty pull hitter and I sit in right field, I was nowhere near where it landed, but it was still a cool moment to witness. IMG_0017 copy
This game was an absolute offensive explosion for the A’s, as the final score wound up being 12-0. The Mariners only had 3 hits all game, while the A’s were a run-producing machine. Ben Zobrist, Stephen Vogt, Sam Fuld and Billy Butler each recorded 1 RBI , while Mark Canha and Marcus Semien drove in two runs and Ike Davis finished the night with 4 runs batted in.

I liked getting to watch new fireballing relief pitcher RJ Alvarez take the mound in this game. We acquired Alvarez from San Diego in the Derek Norris trade.
IMG_0643 copy Alvarez pitched a scoreless 9th, with 1 strikeout, giving the A’s their third blowout win in 5 days. IMG_0682 copy

While this game was fun, it did not even come close to comparing to the next day…

4/11/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (3 balls)

Holy moly was this going to be a big day. When I woke up, I just saw it as another Saturday game, except that I would be running a 5K in the morning. I woke up around 7 and my entire family headed of to the ballpark around 7:30, getting to Oakland at 8.
IMG_0698 copy Pascale and I were going to be running in the A’s inaugural PlayBall 5k, which would start at Home Plate on the field and finish in the parking lot. Once we signed in and got our race bibs, we jumped in the line forming at A Gate. IMG_0700 copy
Once they opened the gate to the Coliseum, we had to stand inside the tunnel and wait to go down onto the field.
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Eventually, the opened the gate to the left field stairs and we headed down to the field.
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We walked along the warning and stopped in front of the dugout, as we waited for the other runners to get onto the field as well.
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We were with Bryanne the entire time, who decided to take a Billy Martin-style photo in front of the dugout.
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We got started at 9am, beginning at home plate on the field and running along the right field side of the warning track towards the center field tunnel. We exited the tunnel into the Coliseum parking lot, where we ran until reaching 66th Avenue, which was of course closed off. We went from 66th avenue to Oakport Street, which led us to a side street bringing us out along the San Leandro Bay. We ran back towards 66th Avenue, where we essentially retraced our path, heading back to the Coliseum Parking lot. Instead of going back where we had come from, we ran into the parking lot and turned right, doing a small loop that had us cross the finish line. Here are a couple of maps with poorly-drawn lines to give you an idea of the route.
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In case you are curious, my official time was 27 minutes and 56 seconds. Fun!

I finished about 5 minutes ahead of Pascale, who finished in front other friends, including Bryanne, Dave and Carlos (Carlos was literally the last person to start the race). We took lots of pictures, including this selfie with Bryanne and Dave.
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And then Bryanne, Carlos, Pascale and I took a photo with the A’s Hall of Fame racing mascots.
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After the post-race festivities, which included snacks and a souvenir shirt, we headed up to our usual Gate, Gate MM to get in line. Since the race had started on the field and a night game had been played the day before, I did not expect there to be Batting Practice. However, once the gates opened at 11, I was surprised to run inside and see the A’s hitting!
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On a side note, my dad took this really cool picture of the new LED ribbon boards on his way in.
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I was shut out during A’s BP, but I did snag a couple balls during Mariners BP.
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The first was a tossup from a Mariners player that I could not identity, the next ball was a tossup in left field from Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar.
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I ended BP with the balls and considering the run beforehand and the surprise of BP, I was 100% okay with this.
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I usually sit anywhere in the front row of 149 from seat 16 on the aisle to seat 12, but something told me this game that I should switch things up. Since Amanda’s fiancé, James, wasn’t going to be at the game, I took his normal seat, the seat next to her, seat 9. Pascale was in seat 8 and Will, who showed up late, sat in his normal 7.

On the mound for this game was Sonny Gray, who was making his second start of the season.
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He was pitching fine until Dustin Ackeley stepped to the plate for the Mariners to lead off the top of the 3rd. I had just taken a picture to post in Instagram and I had my cowbell beater in my other hand, so I did not have my glove when his at bat began. All of a sudden, this happened…

And then I posted this picture on Twitter.
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Yup. I snagged Dustin Ackley’s home run! And I didn’t just snag it, I caught it on the fly! What a moment! I immediately sat down, but most everyone was yelling at me to throw the ball back, since it was a visiting team home run. Thankfully, the people that know me well, like Will, Ross, Amanda and Carlos were all super supportive of me and the catch. There was one person, however that was not at all supportive: A’s right fielder Cody Ross. When I didn’t throw it back, he started staring up at me. I’m dead serious. I didn’t notice it until Will and Amanda pointed it out to me. He had his hands on his hips and a look of disgust on his face. He even turned back around every few pitches for the rest of the inning to see if I would throw it back. Of course, I did not.

After my phone was done blowing up with congratulations, I decided to go with my mom to purchase a cheap ball cube for it. When I got back to the bleachers, I found MLB.com Cut4 reporter Alex Espinosa waiting for me. He asked to interview me, so we went up the stairs, where we had a short conversation, which you can watch below.
In addition, the interview was integrated into an MLB.com Cut4 article about me, which you can see below. Click on that screen grab to read the piece.
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I also did an interview with Tim Anderson of FanContract.com…
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… as well as Alan Schuster of MyGameBalls.com.
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You can click either of those experts to read the full articles.

When Ackley came up to bat in the 8th inning, I had my dad take a picture of the scoreboard.
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After the game, I was finally able to pose for a picture with the ball.
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WOW! What an insane day! I ran a 5K and snagged 3 balls, one of which was my first ever GAME HOME RUN. What a weekend.

4/12/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (0 balls)

Unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this game, seeing as I did not snag any balls. I went to this game by myself, so I did not have my dad’s camera. In fact, I didn’t really take any pictures on my phone either, so I don’t have anything to share about this game. It was Little League Day, which meant no Batting Practice and no opportunities to snag balls before the game. It’s okay though! Let’s move on to the next game, shall we?

4/17/15 at Banner Island Ballpark (1 ball)

It was my golden birthday! Today was April 17th and it was my 17th birthday! In my family, it is a tradition that on your birthday, you get to choose where the family goes out to eat for a meal that day. Since I had school during the day, dinner was the only option. But I didn’t want to go to a restaurant for dinner. I wanted to go to the ballpark for dinner!

The A’s were not in town this weekend, they were in Kansas City, so I figured that Stockton would be the next best option. However, my high school baseball team, who I am the PA Announcer for, had a game at 4pm, so I would not be able to make it to Stockton for Batting Practice. After the game, I received these cupcakes from the sister of one of the players. They were delicious!
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After the high school game ended, my family piled in the car and headed off to Stockton. Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive until the 4th inning, but that was okay! Once we arrived, we headed to our usual section in Stockton, Section 107, where we joined up with Will in the front row.
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Shortly after we arrived, Visalia Rawhide hitter Jamie Westbrook dribbled a foul ball right towards us in the front row, which I was able to scoop up. Yay!
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I don’t have many other pictures, so I will just share these two pictures of Ports players that my dad took.
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This wasn’t an incredibly eventful game, I was not able to snag anything else, but it was nice to enjoy a game on my birthday with my family and Will!

4/18/15 at Banner Island Ballpark (8 balls)

During the offseason, I had a conversation with Ross about potentially having an Oakland Bleacher gathering at a Stockton Ports game. Eventually, we decided upon this day. A ton of people in the right and left field bleachers from Oakland bought tickets for Section 107 in Stockton. We brought our drums and cowbells, along with our chants and enthusiasm. It was shaping up to be a fun game.

My family got to Banner Island Ballpark around 4:45, after BP had already started. I immediately ran out to the dirt field behind the stadium in the left field area.
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When I arrived, I was excited to see a familiar face in fellow ballhawk Ryan Dalton. IMG_4101 copy

Ports batting practice was underway and I did manage to snag a ball. It was a home run that left the stadium, but I am not sure who hit it.
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The stadium gates opened at 5:45, which I was really excited about. Usually, minor league stadiums open an hour before game time, after BP has ended, but the Ports open their doors 15 minutes earlier than normal on Saturdays, which means that I can run around inside for the end of BP! Ryan and I raced to the outfield berm when gates opened. I ended up patrolling the area in right field, while he took the berm more towards center field. He ended up snagging a couple of easter eggs out in that area. IMG_4202

In total, I snagged 4 balls inside during batting practice, all of them were home runs. I came close to several others, but there was a lot of competition. My dad got some cool photos of me during BP, but there was one sequence of photos that stood out to me. There was a deep fly ball that was headed my way. I tracked it like I would any other home run ball, the only different being the inflatable slide behind me. Once I realized the slide was there, I lost focus on the ball. I have labeled the pictures in order, 1-4, so that you can follow the sequence of events.
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No I did not get the ball. No I did not push the kid or try and take the ball from him. Once I saw him go after it, I backed off. Batting Practice ended around 6pm, so I had an hour to kill before the game started. IMG_4270 copy

I eventually made my way to our seats in Section 107, right next to the visitor’s dugout. While over there, I ran into fellow right field bleacher dweller Steph and her son Brennon. Brennon is super cool, so I had to hook him up with his first ever California League ball, one of the ones I got during BP!
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Several other RF Bleacher folks were already there as well, including Bryanne, Ross, Adam and Amber! IMG_4299 copy

And of course, the one and only Will MacNeil!
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Speaking of Will, here is a picture he took of me shortly before the game started. IMG_4300 copy

Here was my view for the game itself!
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Starting on the mound for the ports was Dillon Overton. IMG_4371 copy

My first ball of the game itself was a 3rd-out ball from Visalia outfielder Fidel Pena. However, I spent most of the first few innings of the game in the parking lot outside.
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That picture was taken by Ross!

My waiting outside eventually paid off, as I was able to snag a Beau Taylor foul ball. Later in the game, I snagged my 8th ball of the day, a foul ball off the bat of Ports outfielder B.J. Boyd. Moments after I snagged the ball, a woman came running out towards me. She asked if she could have the ball. I was confused at first, so I said no. Then she pulled out and showed me her driver’s license and told her that she was B.J. Boyd’s mother. Of course, I handed her the ball, at which point she thanked me, gave me a hug and walked back inside the ballpark. Very cool! In the later innings, I spent some time playing the drum.IMG_4372 copy

Throughout the game, we were playing the drums and cowbells to the beats and in the same situations that we normally do in Oakland. For the player-specific chants, we would change the names. For Beau Taylor, we did the “Yo” chant that we used to do for Yoenis Cespedes. Instead of “I Believe in Stephen Vogt,” we did “I Believe in B.J. Boyd.” For J.P. Sportman, we used our Billy Butler chant. It was a fun night.

The Ports won the game 7-6, on a walk-off sacrifice fly from J.P. Sportman. It was a good game! Afterwards, Bryanne took this group selfie.
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So many bleacher creatures were there, it was an incredibly fun game! To add to the fun, there were post-game fireworks! IMG_0097

I had an absolute blast at this game, snagging 8 balls and getting to sit with the awesome bleacher people.

4/25/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (0 balls)

I’m going to preface this with the fact that I went into the game not intending to ballhawk. Instead, I had one goal on my mind: to meet former Oakland reliever and current Astros pitcher Pat Neshek! Pat has been a favorite of mine for a long time, but I had never gotten the chance to get his autograph or take a picture with him, so I was pretty excited for the potential chance. I got to the stadium around 9:30 or so, which meant there was plenty of time to kill. While I did not participate, Adam, Britt and Alex played some catch in the plaza area outside our gate.

People like Will, Amanda and myself just hung around and talked.
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Once the gates opened and we had set our stuff down in our seats, Amanda, Kimberlee, Tom and I headed down to area near the visitor’s bullpen, where Pat Neshek was warming up. Tom and I spent some time talking with our friend Mark, who is the security guard in the area near the away bullpen. IMG_6762 copy

Once he was done playing catch, Pat came over to our group. First, he signed a ball for Amanda, then he signed a shirt and ball for Kimberlee. He also took photos with each of them.
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Pat then moved on to me, where he graciously singed my flag (with the number he wore in Oakland) and a Cardinals shirsey of his that I had purchased. IMG_6855 copy

Here is his signature on the flag.
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And here is his signature and inscription on the shirt. IMG_6856 copy

How cool is that inscription??? I didn’t even ask him to write that, he did it on his own! Pat is without a doubt one of, if not the most fan-friendly player I have ever interacted with.

After I got his autograph, he took a picture with me.
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Tom took the pictures of us with Pat on his camera. Here is the one of me and Pat! IMG_6870

Such a neat experience!

As far as the game goes, it was fun. I got to watch Kendall Graveman pitch.
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And I got to see the Major League debut of Max Muncy. IMG_7201 copy

For me, that was really special because he was one of the first players I ever saw play in Stockton. In fact, I even got to meet him on April 21st, 2013. Even better, I got to take two pictures with him! I took a selfie with him and a picture with catcher Ryan Delgado, Will and Vanessa.

The other thing I would like to share from this game would be this picture that my dad took.
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I just thought it was kinda cool!

4/26/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (2 balls)

This was my final game in the month of April and it was very fun! After I set my stuff down in Right Field after the gates opened, I went down to the A’s bullpen area, where I was able to snag a tossup from Evan Scribner. I also took this picture with Sonny Gray! IMG_8741 copy

After taking the picture with Sonny Gray, I hustled over to the Astros bullpen area, where reliever Joe Thatcher tossed me a ball. Unfortunately though, it was not one of the commemorative balls that the Astros used in 2015. Still very cool though! Here are my two balls from the day.
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Once I was back in Right Field, I took a picture with Will, Adam, Ross and Bryanne, as we were all wearing white jerseys in honor of “Wedding Gown White Sundays.” And yes, there is a filter on this picture. IMG_8743 copy

When the A’s first moved to Oakland, the A’s wore their “Wedding Gown White” jerseys exclusively on Sundays.

Since there was no BP, I had a fair bit of free time before the game started, some of which featured me and Will goofing around.
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Drew Pomeranz was the A’s starting pitcher in this game. IMG_8915 copy

When Josh Reddick came up to bat in the bottom of the second inning, I was featured on the A’s TV broadcast waving my flag. The main reason I was shown though was because Kimberlee was holding up a WWE Title belt, since Josh is a huge WWE fan.
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Reddick then proceeded to hit an RBI Triple. In between the 3rd and 4th innings, my dad got this really cool sequence of photos. Hopefully you can follow the order. Untitled-1

A’s Manager Bob Melvin was arguing a call with the home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott and as you can see from the pictures above, he was ejected.

While this isn’t when he his his triple, here is another cool picture my dad took of Josh Reddick hitting.
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Lastly, I will leave you with this picture of A’s Hall of Fame racing mascot, Dennis Eckersley. IMG_9958 copy

Wow! April was such a fun month. I don’t even know what else to say. Well I guess I should say thank you because this entry was over 5,000 words. So THANK YOU very much for taking the time to read this! My next post will be about the games I attended in May. In May, I went to 10 A’s games and 2 Ports games, so the entry will be jam packed with lots of stories and pictures.

As always, thanks again for reading and stay awesome!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @RFNick149. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Spring Training 2015 Recap

To start off my 2015 recap series in January, we begin with the Spring Training trip that I took with my family to Arizona in March. We had never seen the A’s play anywhere other than in Oakland before this, so as you could imagine, we were all very excited.

Before you get too far into this entry, I would like to give a warning that I wrote a lot. While we were only there for 4 days, my family did so much, we had so many cool experiences. I wrote over 5,700 words. And there are plenty of pictures to go along, over 150 of them. If you need to, please read this in multiple sittings. I have conveniently separated the entry into each of the 4 days that we went to games, so hopefully that makes the reading a little easier!

Our plan was to fly into Arizona on Wednesday the 11th and fly out on Sunday the 15th, giving us time to watch the A’s play 4 games. One of my main goals for this trip was to visit as many new places and eat at as many new restaurants as possible and the first night of our vacation did just that.

We arrived at the Mesa Airport in the evening on Wednesday, then once we had our rental car, our family began to search for food. Upon recommendation from Bess Frankoff and a few others on Twitter, we decided to eat dinner at Cracker Barrel, which I LOVED. After checking into our hotel, the rest of the night was pretty calm, just preparing for the big day ahead of us on Thursday.

3/12/15 at HoHoKam Stadium (2 balls)

This was a pretty special day for my family. Not only was it our first ever Spring Training game, but we were going to get to see WILL FERRELL play for the A’s. To say that I was excited would be an understatement.

After a quick breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts, we piled in the car and headed off to HoHoKam, which was about a 20 minute drive from our hotel. We arrived at the stadium shortly after 8:30, which was 90 minutes before gates were scheduled to open at 10am.
IMG_0027 copy These signs were posted all of the exterior of the stadium, which signified that this was an important day. IMG_0027 copy
HBO’s Funny or Die was shooting an hour-long documentary about Will Ferrell’s adventures this day, as he was playing 10 positions with 10 teams in 5 different games. The beginning of his day would be with the A’s and he was going to be starting at shortstop.

My first order of business once we parked was for Pascale and I to take a picture in front of this sign. We were very excited to be there!
IMG_0029 copy We wondered around for a little bit, just exploring the outside of the stadium. IMG_0031 copy
Pascale and I took a peek inside the team store, which I have to admit was pretty nice.
IMG_0032 copy We then headed to the left field gate, where we set our stuff down and began to explore. I elected to head out to the fence behind the left field berm, where this was my view. IMG_0050 copy
My dad looked inside with his camera, which is when we saw Will Ferrell in an A’s uniform for the first time! He was in the seats, talking with Bert “Campy” Campaneris, who Ferrell was honoring during the day.
IMG_0092 copy Later, the two of them played some catch down the line, which was very cool to watch. IMG_0105 copy
Once the gates opened at 10am sharp, I bolted for the berm in left field, which was incredible! It was very open, but crowded up quickly, given that Ferrell was in the building. It was awesome to see the A’s take batting practice again, specifically my new favorite player Brett Lawrie.
IMG_0193 copy My first ball of the day was a tossup from pitcher AJ Griffin. I quickly got a second ball, a home run hit by an A’s player I couldn’t identify. I’m guessing it was Billy Butler or Mark Canha. After the first couple of groups of A’s BP, the one and only Will Ferrell stepped in the cage to hit. IMG_0261 copy
What a special moment. He laid down a couple of bunts, knocked some solid ground balls and hit a few line drives into the outfield. It was fun to watch him! After he finished hitting, Ferrell jogged out the outfield, camera crew and all.
IMG_0300 copy He decided to settle in left field, where we interacted with several A’s players, including Coco Crisp. IMG_0327 copy
Several balls were hit his way, which he fielded and threw back in with ease.
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He chatted up AJ Griffin for a bit. IMG_0470 copy
And enjoyed a refreshing bottle of water.
IMG_0525 copy Here is some behind-the-scenes footage of the films crews in left field, along with Will. If you click on the video, it will take you to my Flickr account so you can watch it.MVI_0434 copy
Once I had noticed that Ferrell was in the outfield, I bolted over and thew on my 23-inch baseball glove and took a place in the front row.
IMG_0417 copy This glove caught the attention of one of the producers, who came over and asked me to do some different poses and shots for the camera. I waved my glove around and called out for a ball several times for the cameras, all of which were pointed at me. Like I mentioned earlier, they were getting footage for the Ferrell Takes the Field documentary and guess what? I MADE THE FINAL CUT! I already showed it in my last entry, but here is a frame from it. Crazy awesome! Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 8.59.10 PM
After BP concluded, Will started jogging off the field, but I decided to call out his name since he hadn’t yet seen the big glove. He turned around when he heard his name and spotted my glove and stopped.

Will: “Son, where did you get a glove that big?”

Me: “My parents gave it to me as a gift a year or so ago.”

Will: “Well that is a mighty big glove.”

Me: “Yup, it’s 23 inches.”

Will: “Nice.”

Nice is right. After this, Will gave me a thumbs up and jogged off the field towards the dugout. WOW.

A few months later, I was looking through the videos on my phone and found this one. I don’t know who in my family took it, but I appreciate whoever it was! While It doesn’t show much of the conversation, you can still see the last bit of it. Like the last video, if you click on it, it will take you to my Flickr account to watch it.
IMG_8971 After batting practice was over, I decided to walk around the stadium and say hello to friends before the game started. I then headed over to the dugout and grabbed a spot in the first row, just to be as close to the pre-game action as possible. While we were down there, they announced the lineups. One of the renovations the A’s made to HoHoKam Stadium before moving in this season was the new scoreboard in left field. In fact, it’s the biggest in the Cactus League! Here is the image they showed when announcing A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie. IMG_0688 copy
And here is the imagine they showed when announcing shortstop Will Ferrell!
IMG_0694 copy The crowd behind the dugout was packed, but the crowd on the field in front of the dugout was insane. So many people! IMG_0700 copy
All of the players were gathered around, talking with and listening to Will.
IMG_0701 copy When the A’s took the field, I was forced to go back to my ticketed seat, but we were still behind the dugout. Will took his position at shortstop and began fielding ground balls and throwing them to first base. He had a pretty good arm! IMG_0737 copy
His mechanics were very solid as well, he had a fluid transfer from his glove.

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Ferrell fielded the throw down to second from the catcher, than took his position for the start of the game.
IMG_0795 copy He was acting like himself, even giving random signs to whoever was looking.

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Unfortunately, he did not get any action during the inning, as he jogged off the field after 3 quick outs.
IMG_0909 copy Notice the picture on the left? I tweeted that picture to Brett Lawrie and the next day, he POSTED IT ON INSTAGRAM. Seriously! Check it out:IMG_4010

Billy Burns led off the bottom of the first with a triple, which was exciting. IMG_0934 copy Equally exciting was the graphic shown on the scoreboard. IMG_0938 copy Being an A’s fan, I only knew 727-square foot scoreboards, so for a ballpark this size, this 1,800-square foot scoreboard was quite spectacular! That being said, it was nothing compared to the TWO 5,220-square foot scoreboards the A’s would be installing in the Oakland Coliseum for the 2015 season. Unfortunately, Will Ferrell had to leave the A’s, as after being traded by Billy Beane, he jogged over to the Mariners dugout. IMG_0966 copy He later emerged in a Mariners uniform to play second base for them. IMG_1011 copy After playing a half inning at second base, he jogged back towards the A’s dugout so that he and the film crew could head off to his next game. It truly was an honor to not only talk to him for a brief moment before the game, but to see him play during the game itself, even though he did not get any playing time. IMG_1138 copy Lefty Scott Kazmir was on the mound for the A’s in this game. IMG_1142 copy While Pascale and I were wondering around the stadium in attempts to find shade, we came across the Mustache Pretzels food truck. Their menu was pretty amazing. IMG_1150

We both got pretzels. I can’t speak for Pascale, but that was and still is the best soft pretzel I have ever had.

One of the fun things for my dad was being so close to the field, which meant he got to take a lot of great pictures. For starters, here was the view from our seats. IMG_1168 copy He was able to get great pictures like this one of a Mariners coach pulling a broken bat out of the infield grass. IMG_1238 copy And this one of the first base umpire. IMG_1378 copy

One of my favorite pictures was this one of an A’s infielder Alden Carrithers. IMG_1412 copy I tried every inning to get an A’s 3rd out ball, but even though I had the big glove, I had no luck. IMG_1336 copy The A’s were down 3-1 heading into the bottom of the 9th, but doubles from Alden Carrithers and Bryan Anderson tied the game up for Oakland. Kent Matthes ended up driving in the winning run with 2 outs, a single to right field that scored Chad Pinder. IMG_1526 copy After the game, I got a picture with my 2 BP balls. IMG_1586 copy

Notice my shirt? It is a design from Ian Sagabaen, also known as Greatest Sign Maker! I wore it for this game since it features Brick Tamland of the movie Anchorman, which Will Ferrell starred in. After taking that picture, we decided to stroll to the exit the long way, circling around the stadium, along the outfield. There, my dad was able to get this cool picture of the sprinklers watering the outfield grass. IMG_1590 copy Pascale and I then decided to get a picture in front of the new scoreboard, next to the final score. IMG_1597 copy For some perspective on how big this scoreboard is, here you go. IMG_1599 copy What a fun day! I had such a great time and I could not wait to head to Surprise on Friday to see the A’s play the Royals.

3/13/15 at Surprise Stadium (3 balls)

Day 2. Game 2. Let’s go! This game, we would be seeing the A’s take on the Kansas Royals at Surprise Stadium, a complex that the Royals share with the Texas Rangers.

For breakfast, we dined at Waffle House. This was my first time at a Waffle House (they don’t have any in California, don’t judge) and my waffles were pretty dang good.

After breakfast, we headed out on the 45-minute drive to Surprise, Arizona. We arrived at the ballpark around 9:30, which was 2 hours before the stadium itself opened. However, there were still lots of practice fields that we could explore! Before the practice fields opened at 10, my dad, Pascale and I walked around the exterior a little.IMG_1609 copyAs we were walking to the Rangers facilities, I spotted a ball just on the other side of a chain link fence. My dad was able to use his camera monopod to knock the ball right up against the fence so I could grab it. (Excuse my extremely derpy look) IMG_1611 copyBall #1 on the day! And the best part? It had the new commissioner, Robert Manfred’s signature on it! IMG_1613 copy

Once we made it to the Rangers fields, we watched them play catch for a little while. IMG_1615 copy After a bit, we made our way back towards the Royals side. IMG_1631 copy We got in line to get into the Royals complex and let’s just say I stuck out a little. IMG_1639 copy Before I get too much into my adventures in the practice complex, I’ll show an overview of the Royals complex so you have an idea as to what I am talking about.Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 5.51.51 PM

I spent some of my time wandering around the four practice fields on the top, but I did peek around the two other fields a little. During batting practice, I stayed in between the two fields on the right side near the parking lot, where there is the empty space in between outfield walls.

Since batting practice had not yet started, I began my day by watching the players warm up by playing catch and doing various drills and conditioning. IMG_1644 copyIMG_1652 copyIt was really cool to see the various Minor Leaguers working hard and practicing in ways that you don’t see at a Major League stadium.IMG_1740 copyIMG_1784 copyAfter they did some drills, BP began, so I decided to stay in the dirt area that I mentioned earlier. I positioned myself beyond the left field fence of the field where the Major Leaguers were hitting and it paid off.IMG_1804 copyA lot of balls were flying over the fence, but there were so many people and it was so crowded, it was incredibly hard to snag anything. During the second group, I was, however, able to snag a couple of Alex Rios home runs, both were balls that bounced around a little and I was able to scoop up.

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After BP, I headed into the stadium itself. And wow it was beautiful!IMG_1842 copyOne thing I noticed immediately was the number of baseballs on the roof of the stadium.IMG_1863 copyThere was a roof from first to third base, over the press box and whatnot and there had to have been at least 100 baseballs up there, I’m guessing most, if not all, were foul balls.

After saying hello to my cousin and uncle, who are Royals fans from Kansas and happened to be at the game as well, I went over down to the field to try and get some autographs.IMG_2130 copyThere, I ran into a couple of bleacher friends, Alex and Jaclyn, who were also trying to get autographs.IMG_2041 copy While we were over there, I was able to get 4 autographs. Wade KirklandBruce Maxwell and Beau Taylor all signed my flag, which was very cool!IMG_2105 copyAfter he was done playing catch, Brett Lawrie came over and signed a few autographs.IMG_2220 copy I had a baseball card of his with me and had him sign that.IMG_2221 copyThe game itself was fun. Chris Bassitt was the starting pitcher for Oakland.IMG_2316 copyEdinson Volquez was the starter for the Royals.IMG_2542 copyOne thing I took note of was the score board in left field. It was much smaller than the one at HoHoKam, so I definitely had a new appreciation for Oakland’s.IMG_2529 copy This game and the game the following day were split-squad games for Oakland. While half of the team and coaches stayed in Arizona, the other half traveled to Las Vegas for a two-game series against the Cubs. As a result, there were some things I saw in this game that were kind of cool. For example, I got to see Billy Butler play first base.IMG_2658 copyAnd I got to watch Bryan Anderson catch.IMG_3021 copyOne of the best parts of the day for me was getting to see the minor leaguers that were up with the team for the day, all of whom I either have seen play with the Stockton Ports or got to see play for the Ports in 2015. I got to see Bruce Maxwell (2013/2014 Ports) come in behind the plate.IMG_3681 copyJohn Nogowski (2015 Ports) got an opportunity to pinch hit.IMG_3520 copyBrandon Cogswell (2015 Ports) also had a plate appearance.IMG_3757 copyAnd Tyler Marincov (2014/2015 Ports) had an AB as well.IMG_3773 copy The A’s ended up losing 8-4 and after the game, I saw a few reporters come onto the field to talk to Mike Aldrete, who was managing the half of the team who stayed in Arizona.IMG_3784 copy

My family had worn matching shirts for the game and we wanted to get a picture before leaving, so I took a selfie!IMG_3800 copyAnd finally, on our way out, I took a picture with my 3 baseballs from the day.IMG_3837 copy

We sat in Friday rush hour traffic for about 90 minutes, but eventually made it to a restaurant called Oregano’s, where we ate dinner with the cousin and uncle I mentioned earlier, as well as a friend of theirs. If you have not been to Oregano’s and you’ll be in Arizona sometime, you MUST enjoy a meal there. Get a pizookie for dessert, you’ll thank me later. If you’ve been to Oregano’s, you know what I’m talking about ;)

3/14/15 at HoHoKam Stadium and Salt River Fields (1 ball)

Yes, you are reading that correctly. I went to two games on this day. And oddly enough, they were both games against the San Francisco Giants. The first game was at 1:05, as the A’s were hosting the Giants. In the evening, my mom, sister and I were heading over to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Park to watch the Diamondbacks play the Giants.

The day started off early, as my family enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at U.S. Egg. After that, we picked up one of our bleacher friends, Ethan, who was staying with our friend Karl who goes to ASU. My dad dropped Ethan and I off at Fitch Park, which is where the A’s have their Minor League practice fields. Ethan and I looked around a little bit and watched some of the minor leaguers doing drills.IMG_1After 10 or 15 minutes, we began the 15-minute walk to HoHoKam Stadium, where my family was waiting in line. Ethan and I got there a few minutes before gates opened at 11 and once they did, I sprinted inside to the Left Field berm, which filled up quickly, given that it was an A’s/Giants game.IMG_3899-1 copyWe had berm seats for this game, so we claimed our spot on the grass early.IMG_3925-2 copyA’s batting practice was already underway when we got inside, so I had no time to lose.IMG_3949-2 copyI chased after several home run balls, but I unfortunately did not come up with any. All of a sudden, Ethan noticed Barry Zito come out onto the field. IMG_3972 copyIn February, Oakland signed Zito, who pitched for the club from 2000-2006, to a Minor League contract and as a result, he was with the team for Spring Training.

We rushed over to where he was and I was able to get a jersey signedIMG_4032 copyIt was a Barry Zito jersey that Ryan Dalton had given me to take down to Arizona and get signed for him.IMG_4059 copy

Ethan then took a selfie with Zito.

I would have, but I was stupid and in my rush to get down to Barry, I forgot my phone on our blanket out on the berm.

When we got back to left field, there were two players who caught my eye: Brett Lawrie and Coco Crisp. I wanted to thank Lawrie for posting my dad’s picture on Instagram and I wanted to get Coco to sign the banner that I acquired during the offseason and brought down to Arizona.IMG_4187-3 copyI pulled out the big glove and was able to quickly get Lawrie’s attention. As soon as he saw it, he tossed me a ball.IMG_4084 copy

After I caught the ball, I thanked him for posting the picture and he smiled, waved and said “No problem!”

I then turned my attention to Coco Crisp. With the help of Ethan, I unrolled the banner and we held it up, yelling Coco’s name until he came over.

Holding one side, we dropped it over the edge as he walked over. Lawre, Zito and AJ Griffin all walked over, intrigued by the large banner. The three of them ended up holding it against the outfield wall so that Coco had a flat surface to sign on. He ended up signing it very large and I was pretty excited about it! After the game, Ethan, Pascale and I took a picture with the signed banner, a picture you’ll see later on in this entry.

A little bit after BP ended, I took this panoramic picture form behind home plate.IMG_4258 copy

I then headed over to the area next to the A’s dugout by the first row and met up with Alex and Jaclyn again in hopes of getting a few more autographs. While I didn’t get any autographs, I did take a selfie with speedy outfielder Billy Burns!IMG_4304

As I was leaving to go back to the outfield berm, I saw Rickey Henderson jog by. Yes, THE Rickey Henderson. I was too far away to take an actual picture with him, but I did get this.IMG_4307

The A’s starting pitcher in this game was Jesse Chavez.IMG_4486 copy

And it was a HOT day. Sitting in an area with no shade in the afternoon in Arizona was probably not one of our smartest ideas… We did what we could to keep cool though.IMG_4923 copyMy dad, Pascale and I went on a walk around the stadium for a bit. Mostly because there was shade, but also because we wanted to explore a bit more.IMG_5407-3 copyWe ran into bleacher friends like CarlosWill, Ross and Tony, which was fun. The most important stop for us was the Mustache Pretzels truck. The pretzels last time were so good, Pascale and I had to have another.

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Yup. They are soft pretzels shaped like mustaches. And they are DELICIOUS! Pascale got a cinnamon sugar one, I got a classic pretzel with salt. So good! If you ever see one of their trucks while in Arizona, you MUST get one!

After that, we began to walk around the area behind the outfield. We began at the bullpens, which are located right down the right field line.IMG_5052 copyAfter that, we walked around the berm in right-center field, which was packed.IMG_5049 copyHowever, there was a second berm in right field, above the other one, with lots of space available.IMG_5409 copyFrom there, we decided to head back to the berm, where we joined my mom and Ethan.IMG_5410 copyIMG_5350 copyPascale and I spent the final inning with Will, Ross and Carlos, who were sitting down the first base line. However my parents elected to stay in left field for the remainder of the game.IMG_5582-2 copyOnce the final out was recorded, I met back up with Ethan in left field, where we took a picture with the baseballs we snagged during batting practice.IMG_5614-3 copyThen, Ethan, Pascale and I took a picture with the banner that Coco Crisp signed for me during BP.IMG_5601 copyI know it’s hard to see in that picture, but there is indeed a signature on the banner. Here is a better picture of the signature itself.IMG_4016In case you’re wondering, it now hangs on a wall in my room.

After this game, my dad drove my mom, Pascale and I to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Park, where we would watch the Diamondbacks play host to the Giants. The gates were not yet open when he dropped us off, so I wandered around a little bit and checked out the practice fields.IMG_9248IMG_9251Once gates opened, we headed to the berm in right field, where we claimed a spot, since we had berm seats again. With all due respect to the other teams in the Cactus League, I think Talking Stick is the nicest ballpark.IMG_9256Before the game started, I decided to take a lap around the stadium and explore. There were a few things that caught my eye. First, there were these sunscreen dispensers all around the ballpark. I had never seen something like this at a baseball stadium before, so I loved it!IMG_9257Next, there was a Coldstone Creamery Express. While I’ve been to Coldstone many times, I had never seen one inside a baseball stadium. Pascale and I ended up getting ice cream later in the game. Again, very cool (no pun intended).IMG_9259Lastly, I felt the need to share this picture. I guess Clayton Kershaw and Jeff Samardzija decided to take in some evening baseball. Either that or an A’s fan and a Dodgers fan wanted to scout out the rival Giants. Yay for incredibly arched lettering!

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When I was walking behind home plate, I stopped and took this panoramic picture of the stadium.IMG_9260I eventually took a seat on our blanket in right field, just in time for first pitch.IMG_92664 hitters into the game, there was some excitement for me. Brandon Belt hit a home run 20 feet to my left. As soon as I saw the ball in the air, I started running. Had I gotten a better jump or had their been fewer people in my way, I would have caught the ball on the fly easily. But I didn’t, I got there a split second too late and the only other A’s fan in the stadium caught it. Woo!

I ended up doing one more lap around the stadium with Pascale. In the left field corner, I took this picture.IMG_9267The Diamondbacks ended up winning the game 5-2, Belt’s first inning home run was the only offense for the Giants. Before we left, I took a selfie with my mom and Pascale.IMG_9269

And then I took this panoramic picture of the field.IMG_9270On our way out, we walked past the hitting cages, which were still illuminated. Very cool.IMG_9271While I didn’t snag a ball at the second game, I still enjoyed the day very much. It was fun to explore HoHoKam more and experience a new stadium with Salt River Fields.

One takeaway I had from Talking Stick was the separation that they managed to have between the Diamondbacks and Rockies within the stadium. One side was D-Backs and one side was Rockies, each team had a separate store and then they shared one behind center field.  This was the most impressive stadium for me on the trip and I really look forward to visiting again soon and being able to document it in greater detail!

3/15/15 at Maryvale Baseball Park (1 ball)

This was the final day of our trip and we were spending it at the Maryvale Baseball Complex to watch the A’s take on the Brewers.

After checking out of the hotel, we hit up the legendary Bill Johnson’s for breakfast. Unfortunately, this was the only time we will ever have been able to come, as they closed two months after our visit.IMG_1

I had buttermilk pancakes with strips of bacon in them and they were the  best bacon pancakes I have ever had. IMG_2And yes, I have had a lot of bacon pancakes.

I forget what time we rolled into the baseball complex, but once we arrived, we piled out of the car and began exploring. And wow. The area is HUGE! And there was almost nobody there!IMG_5651We were pretty much the only ones there. Crazy!IMG_5625 copy

It was cool to get one last up-close look at the different drills.IMG_5615 copyIMG_5627And it was also neat to see the massive bullpens.IMG_5657There was no place to get balls during Batting Practice once it started for the minor leaguers, so I decided to wander around the main stadium itself and look around. When I looked inside, I saw that the field was set up for BP!IMG_5710After going back and forth between the practice fields and the main field, I decided to jump in line, a line which had already formed.IMG_5728-1 copyWhile I was in line, I noticed Domingo Ayala walking through the parking lot. I would have walked over and met him, but I was in line by myself and I didn’t have someone to save my spot. On the bright side, I did see Brett Lawrie.

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He literally walked in, right past the line. By then, Pascale was with me, so I was able to walk over to him, where he had stopped for a moment to sign autographs. After signing maybe 10 autographs, he ended up having to leave, so I wasn’t able to take a picture with him or have him sign anything. It was still cool though!IMG_5729-1Eventually, when the gates opened at noon, this was the scene on the field. There was still Batting Practice going on!IMG_5730-2 copyGiven that there were 3 lefties out of the 4 hitters in the group, I decided to position myself in right field.IMG_5756 copyHere was the view to either side of me.IMG_5759 copyI don’t think those pictures do the outfield berm justice because it was INSANELY STEEP. And that was right after I got in. Soon, the berm began to fill up with people. In general, this area was really bad though. How bad? I was running for a home run ball and I couldn’t keep my traction because of how steep it was and I completely ate it. I slipped and fell, landing hard on my back. Of course I landed right under the ball, so I had a people literally stepping and falling on me, trying to chase the ball. I didn’t wind up getting it.

After BP, I spent a little bit of time wandering the stadium.IMG_5850 copyI also met up with Ross and talked with him for a bit.IMG_5867 copyYou may notice the shirts under my arm in the picture. Those were shirseys I was hoping to get signed. After Yoenis Cespedes won the 2013 Home Run Derby, I decided to get a shirsey of his pitcher, A’s third base coach Mike Gallego. Cespedes participated and won again in 2014 and again, he had Gallego pitch. Josh Donaldson also participated in 2014 and his pitcher was A’s bullpen coach Darren Bush, who is now the team’s hitting coach. So I got shirseys of Gallego and Bush in 2014!

I brought the shirts with me on this trip because I wanted to show them to Gallego and Bush and get their autographs on them. You may remember back in 2013, I met Mike’s son Niko, who at the time played for the Modesto Nuts. I took a picture with him and he even signed the shirt!

Suddenly, I noticed that both Gallego and Bush were in the dugout, so I ran off towards the side of the dugout. From there, I held up Mike Gallego’s 2013 shirt to get their attention. He noticed it quickly, then came over and signed them and we talked for a bit. I mentioned that I also had one for Darren Bush, who Gallego called for and switched places with. Both of them thought that the shirts was awesome!IMG_5875 copyAs you can imagine, I was VERY excited to have gotten all 3 shirts signed!IMG_5892-1 copyI then headed back over to the spot where Will and Ross were. Soon, the one and only Seth Frankoff walked over!IMG_5893

While I was in this area, I was able to get autographs from manager Bob Melvin, first base coach Tye Waller and shortstop Marcus Semien on my flag. I also took this selfie with Melvin, which Will did a fantastic job of photobombing!IMG_5894My dad took a picture of my selfie, which is cool.IMG_6236-1 copyWhile I was over here, I got the chance to see Sonny Gray warm up, as he was the starting pitcher in the game.IMG_5901-2 copy

I also got to see Seth throw, which is always cool.IMG_5922 copy

After I finished with autographs, I moved to my right, closer towards the dugout, near where the infielders and outfielders were playing catch. While I was there, I was able to get Eric Sogard to toss me his warmup ball.IMG_5895

As usual, my first order of business for the game itself is to judge the scoreboard. There wasn’t even a video board!IMG_6495 copyAt least I got to see the racing sausages, right?IMG_7133-1 copySo here was my view for the game.IMG_5896We were sitting behind the dugout, it was a good time.

One of the most exciting parts was the group of people sitting in front of us. They were childhood friends of Mark Canha, from little league to high school. Every time he came to the plate, they would heckle him, especially when he recorded an out.IMG_6983 copyAfter Sonny Gray pitched the first 4 innings and Chad Smith took the 5th, Barry Zito came on to pitch the final 4 innings, which was fun to watch, considering that he only allowed one baserunner!IMG_7347 copyOnce the game was over, I took a picture with my one ball from the day.IMG_7681 copyWhen we were outside the stadium, I took a picture with each of the shirts that I got signed before the game!IMG_7691

After the game ended, we returned our rental car and headed to get dinner at Whataburger, another restaurant (if I can call it that) that I had never been to. After finishing our meal, we then headed to the airport.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of the entry, we flew into and out of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, not Sky Harbor. The airline that we flew on, Allegiant, is the ONLY airline that operates out of Mesa. We had to return our car by a certain time and our flight did not leave for a while after, so we had lots of time to relax in the smallest airport I’ve ever been to. The airport only had 10 gates. But it had 3 terminals. Because logic. The cool thing was that the space in between terminals was outdoors. Like there was grass and plants and stuff. Super cool. Pascale and I had our gloves. I had a few balls from the trip. What do you think we did? Well we played catch of course. Inside an airport. Outdoors. At night. I don’t have any pictures though :(

And it’s a very good thing we were able to do this, because our plane was delayed close to 3 hours.

All in all, it was a super fun trip. I got to visit 4 stadiums, watch 5 games and I snagged 7 balls. Plus I got to see a bunch of friends, eat some great food and take some awesome pictures. Hard to complain!

My next recap entry should be up within the next few days, as I’ll be looking back at the games I attended in April. And if you haven’t read it, check out my last post, where I re-introduced myself. As always, thanks for reading and stay awesome!

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @RFNick149. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Who is Nick Badders?

Who is Nick Badders?

So who is Nick Badders? Well, he is a 17-year old High School senior living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has season tickets for the Oakland A’s and sits in Section 149 of the Right Field Bleachers at the Oakland (I refuse to call it O.co) Coliseum. Over his lifetime, he has snagged 185 Major League Baseballs and 165 Minor League Baseballs.

Now that I’m done talking about myself in third person, I can talk about this blog entry. It’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging. In fact, I only posted once in 2015 and before that, my last post was in JUNE of 2014. Ouch.

I thought I would re-introduce myself, since most people either probably forgot who I am, don’t know who I am or don’t care a single bit, they’re just here because this is another ballhawking blog. I thought I would do this introduction in the most obnoxious way possible by writing in third person. If you didn’t choose to leave hardcore judging me, I applaud you.

You’ll have to forgive me, it’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging (or even writing really), my skills and sense of humor are incredibly rusty, so you’ll need to be patient with me as I attempt to climb up the ladder to the diving board and dive back into the pool that is known as MLBlogs and 7000 Coliseum Way.

Well let’s see. What have I done since we last saw each other? My ballhawking in 2014 was not incredibly notable. I snagged 44 MLB balls in 27 games, which is a weak average of 1.63 balls per game. I didn’t snag any games balls and I missed nearly two months of games because I was working on staff at a Boy Scout summer camp. On the Minor League side of things, 2014 was good to me. I finished up 2014 with 47 balls in 10 games. While that may not seem like much, 32 of them were game balls, which is like 70%. My efforts on the Minor League level earned me the MyGameBalls.com Minors 2014 Junior Ballhawk of the Year, which is an incredible honor. Click on the picture below and it will take you to the entire article on MyGameBalls.com!

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Towards the end of the 2014 season, I stopped taking pictures at many games. It just wasn’t as fun for me anymore, which is part of why I stopped blogging. I just needed a break. That being said, I do still have pictures from the 2014 season. I’ll share some with you now, so that you feel all caught up with what you’ve missed, beginning from the first game I didn’t blog about.

The 2014-15 offseason was somewhat eventful for me. The A’s made a bunch of trades, which I’m not particularly in the mood to talk about. The fine folks at BART hooked me up with the banner, which hung in one of their stations during the 2014 season.

IMG_7784I went to the A’s 2015 FanFest, which was super awesome. Highlights of that? It was rainy and the field was all messed up from Supercross. Also, one of the scoreboard was missing and the other was in the process of being taken down
IMG_8128Also, I got to participate in A’s BlogFest for the 3rd year in a row.
IMG_8120I got to see a lot of awesome friends.
IMG_8140And I picked up a lot of cool stuff from the A’s Memorabilia Sale. In the picture below, you’re looking at (in no particular order, just try and follow along) Daric Barton and Nick Punto game-worn jerseys, a pair of throwback A’s pants, a full set of green and gold catcher’s gear, a blank locker nameplate from the 2012 season opener in Japan, a pair of throwback stirrups, a Stomper bobblehead toothbrush holder (the A’s 2014 kids club kit), a game-used catcher’s mask and underneath that, I have a black helmet, like the one the base coaches or catcher would wear.
IMG_8142Right before the season ended, my family and I flew down to Arizona for Spring Training. I snagged 7 balls in 5 games and we had a super fun time. I even got to see Will Ferrell play for the A’s.IMG_9012I even had a conversation with Will. My big glove and I were then featured (there was a one-second clip of me) in the Ferrell Takes the Field documentary, which was awesome.
Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 8.59.10 PMGetting into the 2015 season, I went to a couple of the Bay Bridge Exhibition games. I ran in the inaugural A’s PlayBall 5k. I met Astros reliever Pat Neshek (my all-time favorite relief pitcher) and got his autograph on a few items. Oh and I snagged a game home run.IMG_9970 Now I’m guessing you’re wondering why I’m only skimming over a lot of this stuff. A lot of cool things happened, why am I not talking about them? My plan for the month of January is to recap for you all what I did in 2015 during the baseball season. I am going to do a separate entry for each month (or months), including pictures, highlights and stories from my adventures at games. I don’t have a schedule because I don’t want to stress myself out, but I do have a list of the entries I want to write:

  • Spring Training
  • April
  • May
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • 2016 A’s FanFest

You’ll notice that there is no June, I skip straight from May to July. Like I did in the summer of 2014, I spent the summer of 2015 working on staff at a Boy Scout Camp. As a result, I didn’t go to a single game in June, I didn’t do anything baseball related, which makes an entry about that month kind of pointless. While I’ll be going more in-depth on each month, I will share with you some highlights from the rest of the season.

In May, I started dating a beautiful girl named Kimberlee, who also has season tickets and sits in the Right Field Bleachers, which is how and where we met. If you want to, you can follow her on Twitter or check our her blog. I recommend you do both though, she’s really awesome. A good portion of her blog focuses on WWE, but she does also write about the A’s, as well as life in general, it’s all a great read!

IMG_0448Late in May, Kimberlee and I created a banner for our favorite A’s player, Brett Lawrie. We did a couple of doubleheaders (A’s game during the day, Stockton Ports game at night) and we even got to meet A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie, which I will tell you more about in the August entry. I came close to a few other game home runs (but didn’t catch any) and even got to do an on-field meet and greet with a bunch of A’s players. Kimberlee and I took our banner design and turned it into t-shirts and stickers, which we sold to fans. All in all, it was a pretty awesome year.

IMG_1849Those are just some of the highest of the highlights, there is plenty more that I look forward to sharing with all of you. I’ll be aiming to put an entry out every five or so days, but I cannot make any promises, I’ll do my best.

I have a lot to look forward to in 2016 and I cannot wait to share my adventures with you (yes, that does mean I will be blogging about games again). I have not decided what I am going to do for specific games, but I will let you know once we get closer to the start of the season. I plan to blog about A’s FanFest and if I go again, Spring Training.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy my next post, where I will chronicle my adventures in Arizona with my family at Spring Training. Until next time, stay awesome.

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Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @RFNick149. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

I’m back!

Well hello there everyone! After taking a seven month break, I’m back up and blogging again at 7000 Coliseum Way!

Before I start things off, I have to give a HUGE thank you to those who cast their votes for me as the 2014 MyGameBalls.com Minor League Junior Ballhawk of the Year. It is a tremendous honour to receive this award, and I appreciate each and every one of you who voted for me. The 2014 ballhawking season was loads of fun and I can’t wait to get back to ballhawking in the 2015 season!

My last post here was on June 22nd, 2014. Ouch. I had to take a break from blogging for my job working at a summer camp. As soon as I got home after six weeks, I had summer AP homework to complete and before I knew it, school was starting back up again! I decided to step away from the blog for a little while, mostly to focus on school. I’m currently in my junior year of high school, so things can be a bit stressful at times (relatively speaking, of course).

While I may not have been blogging, I was still going to plenty of games in the second half of the season. And as of right now, I still intend to write about every single one of those games, either here or over at Beyond the Outfield Fence (where I write about all of my Minor League Games). I have 27 games still to write about. That is A LOT of games. And a lot of writing. Despite the fact that I have a heavy workload with school right now, I plan on having every game entry written and up-to-date before Opening Day. Actually, I plan on having them all written and published before the end of the month.

With 27 games to write about, that means 27 posts. And after today, there are 27 days left in the month of February *gasp*. Ideally, I would like to publish a game entry every day until I am all caught up. Here is my *tentative* blogging schedule for the next month. Keep in mind that entries about Major League games will be posted HERE, while recaps of Minor League games will be posted at Beyond the Outfield Fence. Italicized games will be posted at BOF. I’ll link to entries as soon as I have them posted. I apologize for any delays with my posting.

  • Monday, February 2nd: 4/26/14 in at Banner Island Ballpark
  • Tuesday, February 3rd: 5/4/14 at Banner Island Ballpark (Same deal as the post above)
  • Wednesday, February 4th: 7/5/14 at the Oakland Coliseum (I managed to squeeze in a game on one of my few days off)
  • Thursday, February 5th: 8/1/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Friday, February 6th: 8/4/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Saturday, February 7th: 8/5/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Sunday, February 8th: 8/6/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Monday, February 9th: 8/7/14 at Aces Ballpark (Yes, I went to Reno!)
  • Tuesday, February 10th: 8/8/14 at Aces Ballpark
  • Wednesday, February 11th: 8/9/14 at Aces Ballpark
  • Thursday, February 12th: 8/16/14 at Banner Island Ballpark
  • Friday, February 13th: 8/19/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Saturday, February 14th: 8/20/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Sunday, February 15th: 8/22/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Monday, February 16th: 8/23/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Tuesday, February 17th: 8/24/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Wednesday, February 18th: 8/30/14 at John Thurman Field
  • Thursday, February 19th: 9/1/14 at John Thurman Field
  • Friday, February 20th: 9/5/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Saturday, February 21st: 9/6/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Sunday, February 22nd: 9/16/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Monday, February 23rd: 9/17/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Tuesday, February 24th: 9/19/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Wednesday, February 25th: 9/20/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Thursday, February 26th: 9/21/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Friday, February 27th: 9/22/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Saturday, February 28th: 9/23/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

I recognize that this is a very ambitious schedule, so I am not sure how strictly I can stick to it, but I promise I will do everything I can to keep pumping out entries on a daily basis.

After catching up with last season’s games, there are many more posts that I would like to write before the 2015 season gets underway. I want to talk about my experiences at A’s FanFest (which is coming up shortly on February 8th) and I hopefully will be bringing you more entries from BlogFest, like I did last year. I wrote about FanFest last year, which you can check out hereUnfortunately, however, don’t think I’ll be doing a Pre-FanFest entry like I have done in years past. The game entries will be taking first priority.

In addition, there’s this thing Major League Baseball and their teams do in February and March. It’s kind of cool I guess. It’s called “Spring Training” or something like that? I’m not sure… Anyway, I’ll be driving down to Arizona with my family in mid-March and for the first time in my life, I’ll be attending Spring Training! I currently have 5 games scheduled, and of course I have plans to write about every single one. I’ll share more of the details as we get closer. As of right now, I’ll be seeing two games at HoHoKam Stadium and one game at Surprise Stadium, Maryvale Baseball Park, and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Park.

For those that have attended Spring Training in Arizona before, I would love to hear your tips! Whether it be general suggestions, ballhawking strategies, or even restaurant recommendations, I’d love to hear what you have to say! Either tweet me @RFNick149 or leave a comment down below.

Other than getting caught up with 2014 game entries, FanFest, and Spring Training, I’ll try and pump out a few more blog entries here and there before Opening Day. I have a lot of plans in the works that I can’t wait to update y’all on, along with a few special collaborations with some awesome people.

On that note, I am going to wrap up this blog entry, which will hopefully be the first of many in the coming months. Don’t forget to like this post, feel free to share it on Facebook and Twitter, and let me know in the comments what you think! Don’t forget to check back here or at Beyond the Outfield Fence for a new post every day for the rest of February. Thanks for reading!

2013top100Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

6/13/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

School got out the day before. I was officially on summer vacation. And I was leaving for Boy Scout camp two days later. How else do I celebrate the start of summer other than going to a baseball game?

My dad got home from work a bit late, so he, Pascale, and myself didn’t get out of the house until 3:45 for the 4:30 gate openings. Eventually, we did get to the Coliseum. We got there at 4:23. My dad dropped my sister and I off at the entrance to the parking lot and the two of us ran over to Gate B, where we somehow managed to be first in line. How? There were 6 lines open, but only 2 of them had people in them. Win for us!

Once we got inside, I took note of the players in right field. The group of four consisted of Kyle Blanks, Stephen Vogt, Drew Pomeranz (below), and Craig Gentry.

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The group that was hitting when we got inside did hit two balls out, but both were to the same guy, who was on the opposite side of the RF bleachers from where I was standing

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The second group had quite a bit of power, including Yoenis Cespedes…

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… and Brandon Moss.
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Thank goodness for Brandon Moss. A couple of weeks ago, I snagged 2 Brandon Moss home runs during A’s BP. Those were 2 of the 3 balls for me on the day. In his last round of hitting, Moss drilled another home run that I sprinted over a couple of sections and snagged. Ball #1 on the day.

About halfway though A’s BP, Derek Jeter ran across the field (presumably to go to the indoor cages beyond the center field wall) and the crowd erupted. When I say “crowd” I mean the mass of 150 people behind the Yankees dugout.

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A little bit later, a security guard came down and handed out these buttons to all the RF bleacher people, modeled below by Will.
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If you can’t tell, the button is part of the #BringerOfVotes campagin to get Josh Donaldson into the All Star Game.

This is a picture of a baseball that either my dad or Pascale took. I like it a lot. It’s simple and well-framed.

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On to Yankees BP. There were A LOT of Yankees fans around. And of course, they all wanted balls from the players in right field that they were unable to identify. In the picture below, you will see two balls on the out-of-town scoreboard. One of them was dropped by a Yankees fan when it was tossed to him. The other was an Eric Sogard home run.

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The guy that dropped it made an extreme effort to get the ball, but was unable to. These two Yankees players gave him A BUNCH of crap for it.

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Ichiro was also patrolling right field alongside the two players above. He was making some pretty neat plays, showing off for the fans.

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Halfway through Yankees BP, I decided to go to left field. Right field was just too crowded and things weren’t working out. I was still sitting on one ball on the day, so I figured that left field couldn’t be much worse. I was right!

Minutes after I got in, a ball was hit to Yankees pitcher Preston Claiborne. There were Yankees fans all around me screaming for the ball. I politely called out “Preston can I please have that ball.” He shot around, I asked again, he pointed at me and tossed the ball right at me. I just had to reach straight up a bit, but the ball was mine!

All the Yankees fans around me were complaining that the ball wasn’t intended for me, but I was the only one that asked politely.

After BP came to an end, I headed back to right field, where I met up with Tyler Burton, who usually sits near me in the front row with his flag. I was hoping to get one of the two balls on top of the scoreboard, so we taped our flags together and put some tape on the end of his. He lowered our flags down.

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And it worked! He got the first ball (pictured above) and I got the second ball (pictured below).

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Here it is.

This was the ball that the Yankees fan had dropped. I really didn’t want to give it to him, but since he had asked politely and had made a decent attempt to retrieve the ball, I figured that I would hook him up.

After BP ended, I kind of just chilled until first pitch. Pascale and I walked around the stadium a bit, then we slid into our seats around 6:45.

Coco was out on the field doing some stretches (or whatever you call this).

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It was Super Mario Brothers day at the Coliseum (with fireworks to follow). Stomper was dressed up as Mario and ran around the waring track collecting coins (as you can see below).

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After this, there was a short video on DiamondVision that honored the late Bob Welch, who passed away just a few days prior.

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Sonny Gray was on the mound for the A’s in this game. He has had a very good series, so I had high hopes for him. More on that in a bit.

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With Josh Reddick on the Disabled List, Brandon Moss was playing right field for this game.

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Now lets get to the game… Sonny Gray got off to a rough start. The inning started off with 3 straight singles, the second of which was off the bat of Derek Jeter. The third hit resulted in the first run of the game.
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Sonny was able to get out of the first inning with minimal damage, only having allowed 2 runs. The second run came on a Mark Teixeira sacrifice fly.

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After the A’s went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the first, Sonny continued to struggle. He allowed 3 more hits and walked a batter, which thankfully only resulted in one additional run being scored.

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With Alberto Callaspo being placed on paternity leave prior to the game, the A’s called up Andy Parrino to fill his roster spot. Like a majority of the A’s lineup, Parrino went 0-3.

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The A’s only had 2 hits all day. With 1 out in the 5th inning, Derek Norris singled to break up the no-hitter. In the 7th, Led Lowrie doubled. That was it for the A’s offense.

Not only did the A’s struggle, but so did Dennis Eckersley in the Hall of Fame Race. He got out to a commanding lead, but was passed up by Rickey in the final 20 yards. Moments later, Rollie came sprinting up behind him and once again, Eck finished dead last.

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After his tough first two innings, Sonny Gray settled down, allowing just one hit over his final four innings of work. Fernando Abad came on to pitch the 7th and was able to get 3 quick outs for the A’s.

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Then came the 8th… Jeff Francis was called upon to pitch the 8th inning for the A’s and that is when things fell apart. In one inning of work, Francis allowed five hits and four runs. The third and 4th runs on the game came on a missed catch by Derek Norris. Brandon Moss fired the ball to home plate, and as you can see, the ball just flew out of Norris’ mitt.

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Towards the end of the game, I noticed this guy preparing the outfield wall to be taken down for the on-field fireworks after the game.

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The 8th inning ended in a weird way, and I have pictures to prove it! On a 3-2 pitch, Dellin Betances threw a pitch at Coco Crisp’s feet. Coco had to lunge/jump/dive to get out of the way of the pitch.

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In the process, he fell down.

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The umpire ruled it a swinging strike, saying that the ball had been blocked and the inning was over. Everyone in the A’s dugout was visibly frustrated.

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In the ninth inning, Jorge attempted to rally the troops by standing in the aisle (partially on the fence) and holding a flag high. It made for quite a majestic picture.
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One of the reasons we decided to go to this game because the post-game fireworks were going to be to Super Mario Bros music. I thought that sounded cool (and new), but about halfway though the game, we decided that it wasn’t worth it. I figured that I would rather just get home early and avoid all of the traffic. We changed our minds as we were leaving the stadium, so we got in line here.

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After 20 minutes, we were eventually let onto the field, which was PACKED!

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After the fireworks, I figured that I would take a photo in front of the outfield wall. I like how it came out!

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Thanks for reading! Unfortunately, this will be my last post for a while. I will be working at a Boy Scout camp through the end of July, which means I won’t get to go to many (if any) baseball games) until August. I am shooting for 1 game in July, but I don’t know when that will be. I’ll keep everyone updated though, don’t worry!

BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 12th game this year (8th MLB Game)
  • 3 balls at this game
  • 10 balls in 8 MLB games this season = 1.25 Balls Per Game
  • 30 baseballs this season
  • 78 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
  • 193 Lifetime Baseballs

2013top100Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

5/30/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

The night before, I expressed interest in attending this game with one of my parents. Neither of them were up for it, however my mom told me that I could go on my own if I wanted to. AWESOME!

This was the first time that I had ever gone to a game by myself and I was excited!

My dad picked me up from school at 3:05 and after grabbing some food and changing clothes at home, he dropped me off at BART, which got me to the Coliseum just after 4:10, 20 minutes before the scheduled gate opening time.

Eventually, they did open the gates, and they opened them 5 MINUTES EARLY, at 4:25. Shortly after getting into the right field bleachers, I called out to newly acquired first baseman Kyle Blanks for a ball, however he tossed it to Adam.

After the first group finished, I had no balls, however lefties Josh Reddick and power hitting Brandon Moss were in the next group. On one of Moss’ first pitches, he drove a ball deep into the right field seats. I didn’t think it would land in the seats at first, so I got there a bit late, but when I did, I grabbed the ball perfectly off the carom for ball #1 on the day. It did come at an expense, though, as I slipped a little bit when I caught the ball, scraping up both knees.

When Brandon stepped into the cage the next time around, he drilled a ball right at me that rather than catching on the fly, I let drop in the seat right in front of me, where I picked it up for ball #2. Not sure what I was thinking there.
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Moments later, Josh Reddick drilled a ball right at me, but I misjudged it and it flew 2 feet over my outstretched glove and bounced back onto the field, which was a bit frustrating. Now here comes the story as to how I got ball #3…

I was wearing my Casey Chavez jersey at this game. For those that don’t know, Casey is the brother of former Athletic Eric Chavez and the A’s bullpen catcher. I purchased the jersey at FanFest this past year and wore it on Opening Day. He jogged out to right field at around 5:00, so BP was just over halfway done. I turned around my jersey and called out to him, and he pointed up to me and nodded.

About 10 minutes later, I called out to Dan Ortero for a ball. He saw my jersey and called Casey over. Dan then proceeded to toss me the ball. I don’t quite know what happened next. The ball was falling a bit short, so I had to lean over a bit more than normal to try and make the catch. I am not sure if the ball hit off the palm, heel, or tip of my glove, but to put it simply, I dropped the ball. It was in an awkward position to catch from the beginning, but it was a ball that I should have caught, and I will make no excuses about it.

The look Dan Ortero had on his face was that of sheer disappointment. He and Casey both started yelling at me, then Casey told me to give him 10 good pushups. I was confused at this point and I thought he was joking, but it turned out he was dead serious. His reasoning? When he drops or misses a ball, he has to do 10 pushups, and I was wearing his jersey, so why shouldn’t I have to, since I was technically him.

I caved in and did 10 quick pushups and he tossed me the ball, but first, he made me promise to never drop a ball again. Well it certainly made a good story for this blog, right?

Here are the three balls I got during A’s BP…

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The A’s took a bit of extended batting practice this time, finishing up around 5:30. I spent about 15 minutes in right field before moving to left field. Nothing was being into into the right field seats and all of the Angels players and coaches that were in the outfield did not toss anything up.

I went to left field because Albert Pujols had hit a couple of balls out there, but as soon as I got to left field, things went dead. Nobody considered tossing anything up and nobody hit anything out. Angels BP ended around 6:20 and I headed back to right field with the three balls pictured above.

I really enjoyed being by myself for a change. It felt nice to not have to worry about anyone except for yourself at a game and to be able to focus on doing my own thing.

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There was a giveaway for this game! A Josh Donaldson head-on-a-stick… I had to take a selfie with it.

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Since I don’t have any photos of the game, I’ll spare you the details of the game, however I’ll show you this picture I took at the start of the game.

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When Sean Doolittle came into the game in the 9th inning, it was time to do the Doo! Metalica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” came on and everyone started headbanging! Satoshi brought this mask with him and wore it while he was headbanging. He was kind enough to let me take a photo with it on!

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For the ninth inning, I stuck my hat on the mask and propped it up with three flags, in a tripod sort of method. I had to take anther selfie… I know, I know!20140601-002846-1726873.jpg

The A’s won 9-5… It was a good game and I had a good time. Thanks for reading!

Remember, I’m publishing a new blog entry every day!  If you click on the game title, it will take you to a link that WILL NOT GO LIVE UNTIL THE ENTRY IS PUBLISHED. If you click on the game title before it is published, you will be given a page that says “The page you were looking for was not found.” You’ll be able to check out the game entry once it is published. Check out the list to find out when my next game entry will be!

  • Sunday, June 22nd: 6/13/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 11th game this year (7th MLB Game)
  • 3 balls at this game
  • 7 balls in 7 MLB games this season = 1 Ball Per Game
  • 27 baseball this season
  • 75 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
  • 190 Lifetime Baseballs

Note that I have 190 MLB Balls… My goal was to get 10 at the next game I went to to have an even 200. Stay tuned to find how how that went!

2013top100

Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

5/11/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

Would you like to know what makes my mom better than any other mother out there? She ASKED to spend Mother’s Day at the Coliseum! She, Pascale and I arrived at the Coliseum around 9:30 or 10, with my grandmother, uncle, and dad planning on showing up closer to game time.

Everyone was in a good mood when we got to Gate MM! Will showed off his “Bess Bow” shirt, which you can purchase from Perfect Game Gear if you are interested. If you want to know the back story behind the design, ask Bess Frankoff or Jamey Van Dyke on Twitter!

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Bryanne was in a great mood!

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Daniel was rocking his new jersey, which is customized with his Twitter handle on the back (give him a follow!).

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And of course, Will LOVED my big glove.

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Yes. The big glove was making an appearance at this game. And yes, I fully intended to use it.

I headed straight to the Nationals bullpen down the right field line as soon as they started warming up.
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Unfortunately, the Nationals pitchers were not using the pink-laced Mother’s Day balls. They were using regular MLB balls.
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I know the lacing looks pink, but you’ll have to take my word that it is red.

About 45 minutes after the gates opened, I still had no balls to show for it, despite my Nationals hat, so I decided to break out the big glove. And what do you know? Ross Detwiler hooked me up when he saw it!

After all of the pitchers had left, a few others came out, including Drew Storen, who tossed me a ball once he was done. I promptly handed it to a young boy next to me that was at his first ever baseball game. He was able to get it signed, too!

The Nats then did something amazing. THEY TOOK INFIELD!!!!!!!

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And this guy kind of just chilled on the ground.

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After Nationals infield practice, I had my sister take this picture of me for the Scavenger Hunt.

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Because it was Mother’s Day, this game was also Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

And that meant that the ice cream stand had pink ice cream helmets!

Gio Gonzalez was on the mound for Washington.

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His opponent this afternoon was Scott Kazmir, who has had a very good season for Oakland.

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Kazmir had a very good game, but I’ll get to that later on.IMG_7706

As he usually is, Josh Reddick was in right field.

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In the first inning, Josh Donaldson drew a 2-out walk.

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Yoenis Cespeedes then singled to center field.

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And Derek Norris stepped to the plate.

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He hit a 3-run home run! Aftre an Alberto Callaspo single, Brandon Moss singled as well!

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Nick Punto then singled in Callaspo to give the A’s an early 4-0 lead.

Even though he struck out to end the inning, Josh Reddick was feeling good.

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And Kazmir was still dueling.

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Craig Gentry singled to lead off the bottom of the second.

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Two outs later, Yoenis Cespedes walked and Derek Norris smashed ANOTHER 3-run home run, this time putting the A’s ahead 7-0!

I thought this was a cool picture of Josh Donaldson.

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Remember how I said the Kazmir was dealing? In 7 innings, he allowed 4 hits and no runs, while striking out 4 Nats hitters.

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And before the 7th inning, Dennis Eckersley ONCE AGAIN lost the Hall of Fame Race…

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Like the night before, Jerry Blevins once again warmed up for the Nationals.

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And he actaully came in! However, he allowed 2 runs on 2 hits.

Nick Punto doubled in Alberto Callaspo and Brandon Moss to make it 9-0 A’s.
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Good times! All 9 runs we scored were off of former A’s players.IMG_8603

Newly acquired reliever Joe Savery pitched a scoreless 8th, only allowing 1 hit.

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With the game at 9-0, Jim Johnson came into the game.

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He allowed one run on two hits with a strikeout.

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And the A’s won 9-1. Yay! I got two balls and a pink ice cream helmet. Good times. Thanks for reading, everyone.

Remember, I’m publishing a new blog entry every day!  If you click on the game title, it will take you to a link that WILL NOT GO LIVE UNTIL THE ENTRY IS PUBLISHED. If you click on the game title before it is published, you will be given a page that says “The page you were looking for was not found.” You’ll be able to check out the game entry once it is published. Check out the list to find out when my next game entry will be!

  • Friday, June 20th: 5/25/14 at John Thurman Field (Beyond the Outfield Fence)
  • Saturday, June 21st: 5/30/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Sunday, June 22nd: 6/13/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 9th game this year (6th MLB Game)
  • 2 balls at this game
  • 4 ball in 6 MLB games this season = 0.67 Balls Per Game
  • 19 baseball this season
  • 72 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
  • 182 Lifetime Baseballs

2013top100

Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

5/10/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

After a horrible month of April and start to May, I was hoping to get on track ballhawking on this beautiful Saturday evening in Oakland.

This game was once again myself and my dad and the NATIONALS were in town. Yeah! A’s BP was taking place when the gates opened. Thankfully, it was a Saturday game, so the A’s were still taking BP when gates open.

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Daric Barton didn’t hit any out.

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But Brandon Moss DID. And he crushed them!

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He hit a ball more or less directly at me. However, I misjudged it and it flew over my head. Thankfully, someone deserving got it. You might have heard of him… It was none other than Rick Gold! He was in town for his one Oakland homestand of the season.

After 15 or 20 minutes, the A’s left and the Nationals started BP. Guess who is with the Nats? Former Atheltic Jerry Blevins!

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Left Field wasn’t too crowded when Washington BP got underway. 
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Nobody on the Nationals really hit it out. It was kind of lame.IMG_4876

However, I did get one ball and it was from Craig Stammen.
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He kind of just tossed a ball up, not really intending it for anyone and I grabbed it after it bounced into an empty seat.

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Like I mentioned, BP was nothing special. Rick ended up catching a ball off the bat of Ian Desmond and a few others landed in the seats, but it was nothing special.
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These were the four main guys that patrolled left field during Nats BP. Note that former Athletic Gio Gonzalez was with them. It was great to see Gio back at the Coliseum!

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Not many guys tossed balls up either, I was very lucky to have gotten one. Most of BP was just this…

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… and this.

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One thing tat my dad caught during BP, but I saw later in the game was this make-shift sun shade that the right field camera operator made for himself.
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Eventually, everyone jogged off the field.

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And the cage was pulled off the field.

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I had talked with Rick on and off throughout BP, but after batting practice, Rick and I spent about 20 minutes catching up and talking ballhawking and baseball and such.

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And then I got a photo with Rick for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.

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It was nice to visit left field for a while!
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On the mound for Oakland was Sonny Gray.
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Tanner Roark was on the bump for the Nationals.

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This game was “Journey Night.” The post-game fireworks were to the music of the band Journey. A few members played the national anthem and one threw out the first pitch.
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Both starting pitchers were very good in this game. Roark pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing just 2 hits.

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Sonny Gray pitched 7 innings and allowed 6 hits.IMG_5905
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Now it is time for me to share with you some of my favorite photos from the game…
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Why is a giant Dennis Eckersley standing behind the left field wall? Because of the Hall of Fame Mascot race!
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Despite taking an early lead, Eck did not do well…

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He finished last…

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By a lot…

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What a disappointment!

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Like I mentioned, Tanner Roark pitched a great game for the Nationals! The only run he allowed was a John Jaso home run in the 3rd inning.

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At one point in the game, Jerry Blevins got loose in the bullpen, but he never came into this game.

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Josh Reddick led of the 8th with a single for Oakland, but he was unable to score and the game was 3-1 in favor of the Nationals going into the 9th inning.

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Sean Doolittle came on to pitch for Oakland, which meant it was time to headbang!

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Doolittle pitched a 1-2-3 9th to send the game to the bottom half of the inning to give the A’s the chance to push some runs across the plate.

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After John Jaso singled, Jed Lowrie ripped a double to left field to score Jaso and bring the A’s within 1.

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Josh Donaldson then singled to center field to score Lowrie and tie the game at 3-3 with NO OUTS.
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Despite the fact that there was a runner on base with no outs, Brandon Moss, Yoenis Cespedes, and Josh Reddick were all unable to push across JD, sending the game into extras.

Doolittle came back on for the 10th inning, once again getting Washington in order 1-2-3.

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Alberto Callaspso singled to lead off the bottom of the 10th for Oakland.

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After Eric Sogard failed to lay a bunt down, Daric Barton flied out…

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This brought John Jaso to the plate…

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On the first pitch of his at-bat, Jaso ripped a double to right-center that ALMOST was a home run.
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Pinch runner Nick Punto came around to score.

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And it was an Athletics victory!

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And of course Jaso was pied!IMG_7000

This game was huge for me. After several rough games ballhawking-wise, it felt good to get back into the swing of things and snag a ball. Thanks for reading!

Remember, I’m publishing a new blog entry every day!  If you click on the game title, it will take you to a link that WILL NOT GO LIVE UNTIL THE ENTRY IS PUBLISHED. If you click on the game title before it is published, you will be given a page that says “The page you were looking for was not found.” You’ll be able to check out the game entry once it is published. Check out the list to find out when my next game entry will be!

  • Thursday, June 19th: 5/11/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Friday, June 20th: 5/25/14 at John Thurman Field (Beyond the Outfield Fence)
  • Saturday, June 21st: 5/30/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Sunday, June 22nd: 6/13/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 8th game this year (5th MLB Game)
  • 1 ball at this game
  • 2 ball in 5 MLB games this season = 0.4 Balls Per Game
  • 17 baseball this season
  • 70 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
  • 180 Lifetime Baseballs

2013top100

Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

4/22/14 and 5/5/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

I have two days to share with you in this blog entry. Both are days of of very frustrating batting practice.

Since there is not much to tell about either game and I don’t have many pictures from either game, I figured I would combine them into one small entry, since I don’t want to bore you with all of the details. I had originally chosen these two games because I thought they would be great games to ballhawk at. When I chose my 24 games back in December, I wanted to only get games that would be good for ballhawking, so I made sure to include them in my list. Ready? They both sucked in terms of ballhawking. It was horrible. Simply put, I was shut out both times.

Let’s start off with the Tuesday, April 22nd game. I had been planning on going to the game the day before as well, but my high school team had a game the day before, so my mom and sister went to the A’s game in my place.

My mom and I got to the Coliseum about 45 minutes before the gates opened. And to top it all off, gates did not open until 5:42, 7 minutes after the scheduled 5:35 opening.

Once the gates FINALLY opened, I ran out to the right field bleachers and threw on my Rangers stuff. Over the course of BP, I saw one (1) ball go over the fence in the 15 minutes of BP that took place after the stadium opened. That one ball just got over the wall in right-center, flying way under the right field bleachers.

Even though I had my Rangers stuff on, it did not do any good. The idea of wearing the visiting team’s gear is to catch their attention when they are scanning the crowd to toss a ball up. On this day, the Rangers players did not once think about tossing a ball up at any point during BP anywhere in the stadium. And trust me, I was keeping an eye out, because the second I saw one player toss a ball up, I was running over there to get him to toss me a ball.

Anyway, BP ended just before 6pm, 15 minutes earlier than it usually does for visitors in Oakland. After BP came to a close, I picked up a new scarf for myself. Here is one side, that says BLEACHER DIE HARDS, with RF on one side and LF on the other.

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This is the other side. Why does it say STAY? Because the A’s need to stAy in Oakland!

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You may wonder whose #55 jersey I am wearing. In fact, Will was wearing the same jersey on this fine Tuesday. It’s Rich Thompson, who pitched in one game for Oakland back in 2012.

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I won’t share a lot of pictures from this game with you, simply because there are not a lot. Here is one, featuring starter Tommy Milone.

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In 6 innings, he allowed 5 hits and 3 runs, while walking 4 batters and striking out 1.IMG_8590

I don’t know why, but I kind of liked this picture of A’s second baseman Eric Sogard.

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Ryan Cook came into the game in the 7th for the Athletics. His entrance song is A Warrior’s Call by Volbeat. So of course, Ben Christensen had to let his hair down for a bit.

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As did Wiggi!

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Despite the loss and blown save in the 9th by Luke Gregerson, it was a fun night!

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Now on to May 5th… I don’t have the pictures that my dad took on his camera, but I do have a few shots from my phone, so I wanted to make sure to share them with you.

Originally, I was going to go to this game with my mom. However, she was feeling under the weather, so I went with my dad. We got free tickets to this game as a bonus for locking in our season tickets back in December a couple of sections to the right of the Mariners dugout. I didn’t come close to anything during BP except for this ball.

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It was a BP home run hit by the Mariners that I was hoping someone would grab and toss me. When a groundskeeper walked by, I politely called out to him, asking for the ball but he told me that he couldn’t throw it that high, despite the fact that I saw HIM throw someone in LF a ball just minuets earlier. So… I got shut out for BP.

I then joined up with my dad and we got some dinner. Then, we went to our seats, where we enjoyed the first two innings. I then used the MLB At the Ballpark App to upgrade our seats at a cheap price to the 4th row behind the Mariners dugout.

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That was our view for the last 7 innings. You’d think it would be the perfect spot to get a 3rd out ball, right? Well after every inning, the Mariners player who recorded the 3rd out would toss the ball to Robinson Cano and he would find the smallest kid to give the ball to. I guess I’m not a small kid anymore.

So I had a hard time getting a 3rd out ball. In the 9th, I turned my attention to getting an umpire view and avoiding the shutout.
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It almost worked. However, the umpire gave a ball to someone else. I then went back behind the dugout to get this picture,

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I then saw a random stadium employee with a ball in his hand. I asked him for the ball and we made eye contact and he nodded at me. He then scanned the dugout and flipped the ball to someone 50 feet to my right. Dang…

What a frustrating start to the ballhawking year, huh?

Remember, I’m publishing a new blog entry every day! Check out the list to find out when my next game entry will be!

  • Monday, June 16th: 4/26/14 at Banner Island Ballpark (Beyond the Outfield Fence)
  • Tuesday, June 17th: 5/4/14 at Banner Island Ballpark (Beyond the Outfield Fence)
  • Wednesday, June 18th: 5/10/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Thursday, June 19th: 5/11/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Friday, June 20th: 5/25/14 at John Thurman Field (Beyond the Outfield Fence)
  • Saturday, June 21st: 5/30/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Sunday, June 22nd: 6/13/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • 4th and 7th games this year (3rd and 4th MLB Games)
  • 0 balls at this game
  • 1 ball in 4 MLB games this season = 0.25 Balls Per Game
  • 1 baseball this season
  • 69 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
  • 179 Lifetime Baseballs

2013top100

Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

4/4/14 and 4/6/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

Wow… This is my first entry in a LONG time. I apologize for not publishing any entries in May. I’ve been focusing on school for the past month and a half, so I have not had time to publish, much less write any blog entries. However, I’ll have a new blog entry every day for the next 9 days after today, either here or over at Beyond the Outfield Fence.  Here is what the schedule looks like for the upcoming week.

  • Friday, June 13th (today): 4/4/14 and 4/6/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Saturday, June 14th: 4/12/14 at Banner Island Ballpark (Beyond the Outfield Fence)
  • Sunday, June 15th: 4/22/14 and 5/5/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Monday, June 16th: 4/26/14 at Banner Island Ballpark (Beyond the Outfield Fence)
  • Tuesday, June 17th: 5/4/14 at Banner Island Ballpark (Beyond the Outfield Fence)
  • Wednesday, June 18th: 5/10/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Thursday, June 19th: 5/11/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Friday, June 20th: 5/25/14 at John Thurman Field (Beyond the Outfield Fence)
  • Saturday, June 21st: 5/30/14 at the Oakland Coliseum
  • Sunday, June 22nd: 6/13/14 at the Oakland Coliseum

However, I will be out of town from Sunday the 15th to Saturday the 21st. I won’t be active online during that time period, whether it be replying to comments here or staying busy on social media… I’ll get all caught up on the 22nd, don’t worry! STILL… PLEASE comment on the entries and let me know what you think. I’ll be having them automatically post at 12pm PST (noon) each day, so make sure to check back every day for a new entry!

Let’s get to the games now, shall we? This entry does not feature any games that will go into my ballhawking stats. I wanted to share two games with you that I did not ballhawk at that will show you more stadium life than anything else.

First off, I want to share the exasperating experience that is April 4th. It was the first Friday home game of the year, and the A’s were once again opening gates at 4:30 on Fridays to let fans in for A’s BP.

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However, it started POURING rain just before 4:30 and not only did they cancel BP, but they pushed back gate openings until 5pm. So, we got to stand in the rain for 1/2 an hour. When we got inside, this was the scene.

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It had finally stopped raining, however it was still a little wet, and as you can see above, it was very windy.

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There was nothing much to do until the A’s pitchers started playing catch down the LF line.

I didn’t get any balls there, but I did get a few pitchers to sign my flag, including Sonny Gray.IMG_3101

I then spotted the Mariners warming up down the RF line, so I made a beeline for the right field corner, where I met up with Danny Farquhar. I’ve told this story many times before here, but I’ll do it again as a refresher. At FanFest 2013, I bought a Green Danny Farquhar jersey. He never actaully played with the A’s.

I held up the jersey after he finished throwing and he LOVED it!

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He even signed it!IMG_3109
I loved how excited he was over personally, my favorite jersey. He genuinely seemed surprised, but happy. We talked for about 5 minutes, mostly about jerseys.

I then headed back to the bleachers where I relaxed with my mom and sister for a while. Around 6:30, the tarp was still on the field, which confused me, because it had stopped raining right before 5. Then, around 7pm, it was announced that the game time was going to be postponed due to field conditions. Around 7:30, they announced that the game was officially postponed.

The night before, the A’s had consulted with a “weather expert” or something like that who told them that it wasn’t supposed to rain overnight, so they could leave the tarp off and dry out the field. Well it rained a lot overnight and I guess it was too soggy to play.

Given that I didn’t snag a ball and there was technically no game played, I am not counting April 4th in my ballhawking stats.

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Now, I want to share with you the game I attended on April 6th.

When my family renewed our season tickets back in December, we were given some early bird perks. One of them included a DEEPLY discounted luxury suite. Given that my birthday is in mid-April and my 16th birthday was coming up, my parents decided to splurge and get the suite for me and some friends. THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!

I chose this game because the A’s had an off day on my actual birthday and the weekend games closest to my birthday would be a mess due to giveaways and such. Well the group met up at BART and we took the train to the Coliseum.

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It felt weird being at the stadium so “late,” as we were getting there at a normal time (around 12:20 for the 1:05 game)

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This was the food setup. Hotdogs, nachos, drinks, popcorn, salad, peanuts; the basics.

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We were lucky enough to get the suite in dead-center, where there are no bleacher seats.

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See? This was the view to the left and right.

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It was neat to see the stadium from a different perspective.

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Sonny Gray was on the mound for Oakland in the Sunday afternoon game against the Mariners.

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I won’t share many details from the game, mostly because it was so long ago, however I will share some pictures with you, like these ones of Josh Donaldson.

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And this one of reliever Luke Gregerson…

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I was debating bringing my flag with me, to wave out the front window, but I decided with this instead.

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Yes, that is a very big glove. It’s the same one that Zack Hample, Rick Sporcic, and Spencer Sanborn have. No, I don’t know where it was ordered from. It was a Christmas gift from my parents. Aren’t they the best?

I really like this picture of me… I discovered it as I was writing this entry and thought it was really cool.

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Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for Oakland and he actaully did fairly well.

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The A’s won!

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Our group stayed to watch the little kids run the bases, which was a lot of fun!

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Then we took BART home. It was a good day!

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Thanks for reading, everyone! Remember, check back here to find out when my next entry will be posted. Remember… noon every day for the next week. Go A’s!

2013top100

Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @RFNick149. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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