Time for some more baseball! San Jose here we come! This game was at Municipal Stadium, in San Jose, home of the San Jose Giants, the San Francisco Giants California league team. They would be hosting the Visalia Rawhide, who I saw play in this game in Stockton.
Every week this summer, I plan on making a spreadsheet of every Ports, Nuts, SJ Giants, River Cats, A’s, and SF Giants game during each week and planning out which games I would like to go to. This weekend, the Giants, San Jose Giants, and River Cats were in town. Out of those three, the San Jose Giants were the cheapest and closest so I figured that I might as well make the 45 minute drive to San Jose.
In the previous days, I did some research on Municipal Stadium, and I planned for this game. I was excited to find out that the gates opened 1 1/2 hours before the game, not 1 hour, like at most minor league stadiums. In the A-Z guide on their website, under batting practice, it says: “Gates open one and a half hours before game time allowing guests to view infield practice for the San Jose Giants and their opponent. Be sure to arrive as soon as the gates open and catch all the pre-game action. Unfortunately, San Jose Giants batting practice occurs over three hours before the game, well before our gates open.”
Ok. I got a few things out of this. First off, you cannot make it inside the stadium in time to see batting practice. Secondly, if I get there early enough, I can probably catch Visalia’s batting practice. Last, if I got to the stadium really early, I could see all of both batting practices outside. So I figured that since this stadium was new to me, I should get there sometime between 2 and 2:30 for the 3:30 gate opening and the 5:00 start time. It was also “Recycle bag giveaway day” or something like that.
This game was just my dad and I. As much as I love going with my entire family, I love sharing the excitement with them, when it is just the 2 of us, it makes ballhawking a lot easier.
The cages were up! I was pumped to get in!
After purchasing our tickets, we walked around the stadium, taking more pictures along the way. We first headed in the direction away from the parking lot. At the end of the lot, there was this schedule poster my dad wanted me to get a picture with.
From there, we headed back towards the parking lot. There was still nobody in line, so we had time to kill before we really needed to get in line. My dad took a picture of the stadium inside, and I noticed something interesting.
It looked to me as if that that was the original front of the stadium, due to the purchase tickets here sign. When we got inside, this was proven, because there was a curb opposite the field concourse.
I wanted to go check back on BP, so we headed back to the gap in the wall, but first, I pointed out that the 2013 All Star Game between the California and Carolina leagues would be at Municipal STadium. And yes, it has already been decided that we will be there.
The Rawhide were taking BP! Assuming that they were still hitting in about half an hour, I was feeling really good. We watched a little before I decided that since there was a net above the wall, it was kind of pointless to stand behind the outfield fence. My dad suggested that we get in line, and that is exactly what we did. For about 15 minutes, we were the only ones in line.
While we were in line, I saw a sign that listed the gate opening times corresponding to the game times. I looked at the row for a 5:00 start time. It said that Turkey Mike’s BBQ opened at 3:30 and the concourse opened at 4:00. Um… I thought the stadium opened at 3:30. I asked somebody in an orange STAFF jersey that told me that from 3:30-4:00, you could only access the bleachers down the LF line. That made sense.
When the gates opened at 3:30, I took my free reusable bag, figuring I might use it at some point in the day. I headed for the bleachers that they had been talking about, and right when I got there, I heard a loud thunk as a ball hit the bleachers. I ran to the bleachers, and discovered that the ball was under the bleachers, 3 rows back. Time to put the giveaway bag to use.
My 1st ball of the day! Now if you look closely, then you can see that it isn’t a Major League ball. It is a Babe Ruth league ball. Uh… that’s a little odd. A professional Minor League team using a ball from a youth league. Interesting. But it still counts.
Then, I took a minute to look around at the stadium and my surroundings, and there was one thing that disappointed me. Usually, most stadiums have a backstop screen from one end of the dugout to the end of the other dugout, just covering the home plate area. Here, the screen covered the top of both dugouts as well as the backstop. This would make getting 3rd out balls nearly impossible. At least foul balls were still going to be a chance.
About a minute later, another ball was lined, this time a section over. I ran in that direction, but it bounced in one of the top rows of the seats. I didn’t go after it, figuring that it was at an unreachable area in the bleachers. Well I headed over that way anyway and next to the Porta Potties and this is what I came up with.
It had been on the ground next to the toilet on the far left. Cool! This one was marked in sharpie with the Giants SJ logo on back of the ball.
I overheard an usher that had a ball in his hand talking about how he found a ball under the bleachers, and because he isn’t allowed to keep it, he was going to give it to the first person who asked. My dad wanted me to ask for it, but I wanted him to give it to a well-deserving little kid, which I found out later that he did.
After this, I went back to where I had been before, by the patio. Before I knew it, 15 minutes after I had entered the stadium, BP was over. At that point, #21 on the Rawhide came over to pick up somebody’s glove. I turned around, looked at my Visalia roster, and I saw #21 was Jeremy Erben.
I had a very good feeling about it. But then I remembered about the screen. I was hoping to get a few more balls before the first pitch. I had about 10 or so minutes to kill before the concourse opened, so I wandered around the open concourse a little. Once it got to 4:00, I figured that we would head for our seats, and on the way, we saw the umpires entering the stadium.
I have no clue what I am looking at.
After this, My dad got a picture from the very top of the section.
I then decided to get a slushy and sit in my seat a little, because there was no action on the field.
around 4:30, I notice the Giants catcher warming up downy the right field line, so I headed over there. As soon as I got there, I got the catchers, Andrew Susac to sign my ticket. Then, the Giants starting pitcher that day, Shawn Sanford started to stretch. 5 or so minutes later, they started throwing.
I noticed most of the team was out on the field at this point, and I saw Aubrey Huff was still rehabbing from his injury in June. How did he injure himself, you might ask? After the final out of Matt Cain’s perfect game, he tried to jump over the railing and hurt his leg. Good going, Aubrey. One thing I noticed while he was warming up was the color of his pants. The Giants home uniform consists of a white jersey and pants, while the SF Giants home uniform features an off-white scheme. Aubrey was wearing the white 25th anniversary jersey, like everyone else, but with the tan/beige/off-white pants. Uh…
I then heard some Giants players talking about the Ports so I joined in the conversation, talking about the beasts on Stockton who hit home runs and stuff like that.
There were some kids there, who didn’t have gloves on that were surprised that I got a ball. I gave them some tips on how to snag a ball and my dad and I headed back to our seats, in time for the first pitch.
In the top of the 2nd, Yazy Arbello, who I think has the most amazing name ever, fouled a ball off in my direction. It landed 2 rows behind me, and rolled down, landing on my bag, which I always put under my seat. Somebody yelled out “There’s the ball!” but my dad said “No, that’s my son’s ball.” Then everyone started looking for the foul ball. I told my dad that it wasn’t my ball, but now it was and smiled. I stuck it in my bag without saying anything. People were looking for that ball, all game.
So at this point, I had 5 balls and was hungry for more. After this, there were no balls that were hit in my direction. In the 6th inning, I saw somebody warming up in the Giants bullpen, so I headed over there. I asked him for the ball when he was called in to pitch, but he told me to come back at the end of true game, and I would get a ball.
When I got back to my seat, I asked my dad if he was willing to go get me some food. He decided to go to Turkey Mike’s Barbecue, which online had great reviews. He came back with pulled pork sandwiches, which I am willing to put up against any ballpark food as the best food that you can get at a Minor League stadium. It was some of the best pulled pork that I have ever had. Amazing ballpark food.
Ok, so in the bottom of the 9th inning, I headed over to the Giants bullpen, as suggested with hopes of getting my 6th ball. I got there, and there were no balls to be seen in the bullpen, except a wiffle ball under a tarp. While I was there, I talked to the kids from before th game, and it had turned out, they had all snagged a foul ball and toss up. There were only 2 guys sitting on the bullpen benches next tot he right field foul pole, and it looked like neither of them had balls, so I headed back to my seat.
The Giants scored 2 runs in the 9th, but due to Visalia’s 5-run 6th inning, the Rawhide won 8-3. As soon as the final out was recorded, They started setting up for a tennis ball toss, where you throw tennis balls onto the field, trying to get them into hoola hoops on the field. While they were cleaning up, a random Rawhide player came out from under in the dugout and asked if anyone wanted a ball. I asked him for it, and before I knew it, I had 6 balls.
At this point, I was ready to head out. For me, it was a very good day. Before this game in 2012, I had 7 balls, combined major and minor league. I got 6 balls in this game. Last year, I got 5 balls in the entire season. I got 6 balls in this game. It was a lot of fun!
• 6 balls at this game
• 9 balls in4 Minor League games this season = 2.25 balls per game
• 13 balls in 10 baseball games this season = 1.3 balls per game
• 4 consecutive Minor League games with at least one ball
• 18 total baseballs
• 9 total Minor League baseballs
Nick Badders is a unofficial reporter for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @nickbatters or his blog @7000ColiseumWay. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook or follow him @nickbatters or his blog @7000ColiseumWay on Instagram. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.