This game came out of nowhere. Literally. The day before, the A’s ticket services staff posted a question on Twitter, with the 1st person to answer correctly won 2 tickets to that night’s game. The question was “Last night the A’s clinched their best July record in team history (19-4). When was last time the A’s had a record that good in a one month?” I knew the answer was August of 2002, when the A’s had their 20 game win streak.
I tweeted them the answer, and then got a DM that I had won. After remembering it was my parent’s anniversary, I told them that I couldn’t make it. Then, they offered me 2 tickets to the A’s game the next day, a 12:35 game against the Rays. After telling them that my sister had to come, and offering to buy an extra ticket, they told me to pick up 4 tickets at the box office.
The A’s ticket services staff are the best in baseball!
On Wednesday, I left the house, along with my mom and sister around 8:20. We were going to walk to the bus stop, as my dad had to leave for work, from there take the bus to BART, and take BART to the Coliseum. We got to the bus stop at 9:00 and BART at 9:40.
Once we walked halfway around the stadium to Will Call, we picked up our tickets. The lady at Will Call thought it was cool that we had won and said they were really good.
At That point, it was 10:30; we got in line at Gate C, where there were only 2 people in line. Gate B, where I had entered before, was closed.
I took off my A’s jersey, to reveal my Ryan Cook American League All-Star Game shirt. I stuck my jersey in my bag, pulled out my catcher’s mitt, and headed over to where the Rays were throwing, as there were no fans there.
As soon as started to run down the steps, a security guard threw a ball up towards the 2nd deck that some pitchers had been using to warm up. It bounced off and came down and started trickling through the seats. I couldn’t find it anywhere, and a minute later, the same security guard found it on the field, I guess it had rolled all the way down, and tossed it to me. As soon as I put it in my bag, it trickled out back onto the field. I didn’t realize it at first, because there was a little girl, maybe 4 or 5 crying because she had thought the ball had been tossed to her. The security guard had tossed it pretty high, and I guess she had been right behind me.
The guard, who I have known for a long time now, asked me if I wanted it back, and I said I was going to give it to the girl who was crying. He told me that he thought it was a good idea, and handed it to me.
This was the first ball I had ever given away, so I deiced that I WILL count balls that I give away as ones that I snagged.
I wanted to try to get a ball from one of the 2 guys throwing bullpen sessions, in Jeremy Hellickson, and Wade Davis. The bullpen catcher missed a pitch from Davis, and the ball rolled over to where Sam Fuld and James Shields were throwing. I headed over there, calling out to James, asking for the ball. He said no. I asked if there was any possible way on the face of the planet that he would be able to toss me one baseball. He chuckled and said that he wasn’t allowed to. I said OK, and no problem and headed to where Fernando Rodney was throwing.
James Shields called me back, saying that he had been joking with me. I laughed and said ok, as he tossed me the ball. He then came over and I told him how teams like the Dodgers rarely throw balls up during BP, and how their pitchers specifically are not allowed to give balls away, which sucks, because the Dodgers use commemorative balls. He seemed really surprised at that, at which point he started to get yelled at by some coaches.
He asked me if I would be in Tampa this year, and he seemed somewhat disappointed when I said no. I knew this was the Rays’ only trip to Oakland this year, so I half-jokingly suggested that he collect some commemorative balls for me and give them to me, when the Rays are in Oakland in 2013. He actually liked the idea, and said next time the Rays were in Oakland, or if I was in Tampa, he would hook me up with a few balls.
After that, I got no more balls before the game started. One thing that I noticed while the pitchers were throwing was that one guy was wearing a David Price #14 jersey that looked nothing like David Price. It turns out, it was Josh Lueke, who tossed me balls in Oakland, last September, when the Mariners were in town. He was called up on in the morning, and when he got to the clubhouse in the morning, he found out that he was short a BP jersey. He ended up borrowing a David Price jersey. I found an article on Cut4, which explains it. Had I known who it was, I think I would have gotten a ball.
Shorty after, I got Sam Fuld to sign one of my tickets, followed by James Shields. I came close to a ball a few times, when guys like David Price and Matt More missed throws and they bounced into the crow. They would just get a new ball, or toss the old ball into the stands. Most of the time before the game, I competed with Greg Barasch, a very accomplished New York ballhawk, who snagged 10 balls in this game, and after this game, had snagged 1,287 MLB balls. I didn’t know how much I would run into him throughout the game.
Shortly before the Rays left the field, I got Matt Moore to sign my ticket as well, and James Shields talked to me for a moment longer, and told me that he would be waiting in Tampa for me. I promised to get
A few minutes later, I noticed Rays’ broadcaster/reporter Todd Kalas getting ready for the Rays Pre-game show, I believe. He was right in front of the Rays dugout, so I headed over there to see if I could watch a little and get some pictures.
A few minutes later, an usher told us all to leave, because batting practice was over. Uh? There was no BP. But I knew what she meant.
At this point, it was about 12:00. I saw Kurt Suzuki warming up down the left field line, so I threw on my A’s jersey and headed over there. I had to weave a little to avoid ushers, but I ended up where I had been in the last game, right next to the foul pole, where Zuk was playing catch with Chip Hale.
Yep, the tall guy in the A’s hat. That is Greg Barasch.
A few minutes later, an usher approached me, asking if I had a ticket to this section. I said that my ticket was right behind the dugout and that I was over here just to try to catch a ball, and as soon as they were done, I would head back to my seat. Nope. No can do. I had to head back. But first, I texted my mom to let here know. I saw Greg talking to the usher, who let him stay. I think I will have to start thinking of ways to talk ushers to going wherever I want.
I headed back to my seat where Josh Feinberg, from A’s ticket services stopped by our seats introduced himself, and asked what we thought of the tickets. We thanked him for them and after he asked if we were enjoying ourselves, I mentioned the 2 balls and conversation with Shields.
Soon enough, it was 12:20, which meant all of the pre game stuff. My sister and I stood in the cross aisle, hoping to get a shirt that was tossed into the crowd, and an usher told us to go down right behind the dugout. After we didn’t get anything, he told me that we could sit right behind the dugout in the empty seats, because there were very few people there, at the time, close to only 10,000.
During the game, I tried for the infield warm-up balls and 3rd-out balls from the Rays, and unfortunately I didn’t get one, and I don’t believe Greg did either. Now I feel very frustrated on a certain level because there were about 5 foul balls tat I probably should have gotten, which, trust me was very frustrating. But, hey, at this point, there is nothing I can do about it.
Greg, at least, got one of the foul balls. 2 of the balls I came close to were ones that landed in my section while I WAS USING THE BATHROOM. I really had to go. It’s not my fault. Ok, from now on, I will not leave the seating bowl during the game.
I also picked up a popcorn helmet, mostly because it was a different design than the green one that I already have. If you know me, you know I love souvenirs like that.
The A’s lost 4-1, and after the final out of the game, I tried to get a ball from the dugout, but nobody could hook me up. Then, I asked Joe Maddon for the lineup card, but he just ignored me. I asked Jeff Keppinger for a souvenir of some sort, and he tossed an open pack of sunflower seeds that spilled over the dugout roof, and some kid got them. Whatever.
Overall, it was a pretty good game!
• 2 balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave one away)
• 8 balls in 8 Major League games this season = 1 ball per game.
• 17 balls in 11 baseball games this season = 1.545 balls per game.
• 13 Lifetime Major League baseballs
• 22 total balls
• 3 consecutive games in Oakland with at least 2 balls
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.