9/14/12 at the Oakland Coliseum

Star Wars Night? Fireworks night? Playing the Baltimore Orioles who are using commemorative balls? Sell out crowd? Challenge. Accepted.

My dad picked me up from school when I got out at 3:05 and we headed home to get ready. Everyone was ready to go around 3:45, so my family headed out to the Coliseum.

When we got to the Coliseum close to 4:20, and as I was about to jump in line at Gate C, my mom noticed Gate B was set up.

I headed over there, and found out I was the first one in line. Sweetness.

My mom headed up to Will Call to pick up our tickets, while my dad and sister waited in line and I walked around.

I walked in the direction of the BART ramp and noticed a camera on tripod with some people around it.

Kind of random.

But the lines at LL and MM were not very long at all, so I headed down towards Gates A and D, where there were a few people in line.

Over by Gate D, I saw a 95.7 The GAME tent set up, heard the live radio broadcast and wandered over. Brandon Tierney and Rich Bucher were broadcasting “The Drive” live. Pretty cool.

I stayed there for a little bit before heading up to Will Call to see if my mom had picked up the tickets yet.

She was still in line, and I let her know that I would probably go over to Gate D and listen to the live radio a little more before heading back. Then I noticed this

If I’m not mistaken, it was the people that dress up as the Star Wars characters and all of their equipment.

Wow. That’s pretty cool.

After spending a little time by Gate D again, there were about 30 minutes until the gates opened, so I headed back to Gate B and got in line with my family

While I was heading down, I bumped into a few of the 149 regulars, who set their stuff down next to us

When I was walking down from LL and MM, I saw this on the ground.

Yep…

I talked with some of them for a few minutes, and looked at my watch. The gates were supposed to open in 15 minutes. So it was 5:20.

The gates were about to open, when a women who was right behind us in line, called over the head of security. She told him that she had just had back surgery and had a 3 kids with Autism and that it was “Completely rude and unacceptable” for the 149 regulars to be in the front of the line, when she had gotten there first. They just wanted to make sure that they got their usual spots.

It was her belief that if the guys ran in front of her, it would upset her children and they would throw a massive fit, “screwing everything up.”

In the end, it was just one of the 149 regulars, Will, and myself who ran ahead.

When the gates were supposed to open around 5:35, there was no sign of gates opening any time soon. I asked the head of security and he told me that they were checking all of the other gates were ready first.

So, they start with gate C, then go to D, A, LL, MM, and open B last. I finally got in around 5:45, maybe a little later.

When I got inside the bleachers, I found that there were already people in the bleachers.

Once the rest of my family got there, I grabbed my stuff and headed down by the bullpen.

I grabbed a spot on the slanted railing and was ready to go. During the course of the time I was there during BP, I would say that 3 or so balls were hit into the bleachers.

Had the railing been lower, I would have been able to get many balls, and sit didn’t help at all that the Coliseum prohibits ball retrievers.

A group of 3-4 lefties walked to the cage, and they were pulling the ball, so I figured that there was a good chance that I would get a ball.

Like I said, there were a lot of balls hit in my direction, just out of my reach. I actually did almost get one; it didn’t quite get to me, the ball stopped right below where I was standing.

An Orioles player, I identified him as Wilson Betimiet, walked in my direction. (UPDATE- Since I posted the entry, Zack Hample has helped me identify him as Orioles first base coach Wayne Kirby.)

He grabbed the 3-4 balls below the RF wall and threw the, back to the infield. He then walked up to the ball below me and tossed it to me. Ball #1 on the day!

Then, I realized that I hadn’t seen any commemorative balls at all. I had been making sure to keep an eye out and hadn’t spotted any in the 15-20 minutes I had been in.

While I had been on the 1st base side, the 149 guys started passing out double sided signs, with one side that was green and gold and said Oakland on the top, Our Teams on the bottom, and in the middle, a white heart with A’s printed. The other side was a Raiders version of the sign.

Whenever a ball was hit in my direction, the same player went to grab it. I knew that since he had already tossed me a ball, there was a slim chance of me getting another from him. Since it was approaching 6:10, I figured BP would end soon, so I threw on my Orioles gear and headed over to their dugout.

It was crowded, but I managed to get a spot in the front row, in the ideal spot to call put for a ball.

I waited about 10 minutes, it was close to 6:20, and BP was not over yet. I think it was a good choice to move, because there were virtually no balls hit to the right side of the field during the time I was behind the dugout.

It was close to 6:30, and BP was coming to a close. I called out to the Orioles bench coach, who had been throwing BP, and he walked up to the edge of the roof and asked if I was the youngest or oldest there.

I noticed that there were commemorative balls in his hands, so I was eally hoping that I would be able to acquire one.

I told him that I was hoping to get one of the Camden Yards balls and he told me that he would think about it. Odd, but decided to roll with it. Then, someone about my age, maybe a little older yelled for a “ball now” and the coach tossed him one of the two in his hand.

The kid was decked out in Yankees gear and promptly threw it back onto the field. I think he was ejected. But then the coach just tossed a ball to somebody to my left, and walked inside the dugout.

I headed out to the bleachers, where I ran into Will, who I talked with for a few minutes, while the ushers checked everyone’s tickets. There were 15 or so people in front of us.

He just wanted to make sure that my family and I were not mad at him for running ahead. I told him that I ran in right away so that I could snag balls, and that it is very important that they have their seats. We then had a conversation about the angry mom at the gates and a few other things.

When I got to our seats, my dad got a quick picture of me with the one ball from batting practice.

My dad then got a very nice picture of the Right Field drummer, Andy

Around 6:30, Derek Norris started to get loose

As well as the Orioles players

The field was watered down

Ok. Now fast forward to 6:55. Because it was Star Wars Night, a bunch of the characters from Star Wars ran with Stomper around the warning track, followed by a first pitch from Chewbacca. I had a feeling that it was going to be a good night.

The National Anthem was sung

The outfielders warmed up

And we were ready to go!

Because I have an iPhone 4s, I was able to upgrade to iOS 6. With iOS 6, the camera can now take panoramic pictures. This was my view at the beginning of the game.

The sun slowly started to set as a jet plane shot across the sky

Around the 2nd inning, a very familiar face showed up in the right field bleachers.

That would be Benjamin Christensen, a former MLB Fan Cave Dweller. He was one of the starting 9 at the beginning of the season, but was sadly eliminated in May.

Sometime around the middle of the game, I checked Twitter on my phone, where I learned that if I went to the Ticket Services table, I would receive a gift if I mentioned TwitterGift. At the end of the inning, I headed over with my dad.

When we got there, the lady at the table talked with us about season tickets and playoff tickets. Once I mentioned Twitter, she gave me an A’s yearbook and her business card and we were on our way.

When we got back to our seats, I learned from my mom that Oakland’s mayor, Jean Quan had stopped by to take a picture of the We love our Oakland teams signs.

Are you serious? Hmmm… I guess I picked the wrong time.

Other than that, the game was awesome! The A’s won, and the sold-out Coliseum environment was insane!

Of course, I did the Bernie lean!

And when Grant Balfour came into the game in the top of the 9th, to close it out, it was time to RAGE!

As soon as the game was over, the security staff began to set up the boundaries for the fireworks. And Stormtroopers entered from center field

We eventually got in line, and it was HUGE

Soon enough, we got onto the field. It was ridiculously crowded, and not only that, but the stands were almost FULL!

I then shot a panoramic picture of the crowd on the field to give you a perspective on how crowded it was

And the fireworks were fantastic!

After the fireworks were over, my dad got a quick picture of Benjamin

And a picture of me, with two signs, and my one ball on the day

When I got home and rewatched the game on the DVR, I saw myself a couple of times.
1) The Bernie:
Closer look:

2) In the top of the 9th:
If you can’t see where I am, I’m above the sign that says “The Bash is Back”

It was an AWESOME night!

BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 1 ball at this game (Pictured to the right)
• 23 balls in 14 Major League games this season = 1.643 balls per game.
• 38 balls in 20 baseball games this season = 1.9 balls per game.
• 28 Lifetime Major League baseballs
• 43 total balls
• 8 consecutive games in Oakland with at least 1 ball
• 11 consecutive baseball games with at least 1 ball

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.

9 comments

  1. Zack Hample

    Great entry. Looks like you guys have so much fun there. I don’t think that the mystery player is Wilson Betemit. He looks too old and fat. I think it’s probably one of the coaches. Maybe Wayne Kirby? Not sure, though.

    Like

    • Nick Badders

      ZACK-
      Thank You! It’s a ton of fun out there, and it helps that none of them try for balls! I’n looking back at the picture, and I would agree with you. After he had thrown me the ball, I looked at the Orioles roster on the MLB At Bat app, and the player didn’t look like anyone, so I went with Betemit. I had looked at the coaches list and when I clicked on Kirby’s name, it said something that had to do with “This profile is being updated,” so I couldn’t see his face. At first, I hadn’t even thought about it being a coach since he was throwing balls from deep right field to the BP pitcher. But, yes, I would agree with you. Thanks for the help!

      Like

  2. Connor

    Too bad about the A’s losing…would have been cool for both bay area teams to advance! I was at the coliseum the day after this game (9/15) and personnaly got shut out, but my friend got a ball from Luis ayala and we talked with him (and he screwed with us) for a while.

    Like

    • Nick Badders

      It’s frustrating the A’s lost, but still a better season that I could have ever imagined! Hopefully, I’ll get my entry about ALDS Game 3 up next week. Wasn’t the Coliseum awesome? Great environment! Even though I did get shut out, I got to meet some great people, and I got to attend a playoff game, so it was a lot of fun!

      Like

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