On April 2nd, I wrote a short email to the Ports, asking for a Press Pass for the game on Friday, April 5th, and I got a quick reply back saying yes! I emailed them back, asking for one for my dad, since he would be accompanying me to the game, and they agreed to that as well! Thank You very much to the Ports organization for giving me this opportunity!
After the game, on the drive home, I got a quick photo of the pass.
We arrived at Banner Island Ballpark around 4:45, just under and hour and a half before the gates were supposed to open.
As soon as we parked, I ran out to the area behind left field. On my way, I peeked in to make sure there was BP, a what do you know? The Ports were taking batting practice!
I immediately sprinted out to the area behind left field. Here is an ariel view of Banner Island Ballpark. I’ll let you guess where I headed.
LOOK at that area behind LF.
As I was running, I heard someone yell “GO! NOW!” I looked up to see a ball heading towards me. I tracked it into my glove, and I already had my first ball on the day.
Ports BP was pretty boring…
I mean, as a fan, it was lots of fun to watch!
If you go back up a few pictures, do you see that kid holding on to the fence? Well he was there with his dad and 3 brothers and I felt bad for him and his brothers. Every time a ball was even hit remotely close, the dad would yell “Go! Now!” and his kids would groan and take off running.
I could tell none of them wanted to be there, or for that matter enjoyed baseball. They not only retrieved hit balls for their dad, but after being told what to say and who the player was, would call out to players on the field for toss-ups…
The Blaze players were beginning to stretch and warm up along the LF line.
As I continued ballhawking, my dad began to walk around the stadium to get some pictures.
The Stockton Marina was looking gorgeous
Ryan Delgado and Sean Murphy were talking it up in the outfield
Everyone gives Stockton a bad rep, but it is an amazing city.
This is the walkway between the ballpark and water.
Once the Ports BP had ended, I only had one ball, but an employee walked by and tossed me that ball for ball #2 on the day.
Yep! It was a Major League Baseball!
Once Ports BP came to a close, that dad and son that I had mentioned earlier ended up walking away, giving me Blaze BP all to myself!
On their way out, I noticed this ball in the employee parking lot for the Stockton Arena.
I never found a way to get that ball…
In between the next few pictures, I will explain how I got the rest of my BP balls, during Blaze BP.
Ball #3 was a sharp line drive that hit the concrete and slowly rolled out of the stadium, right into my glove.
This guy hit a ball that cleared the bullpen, bounced in the seats behind the bullpen, and out of the stadium, right into my glove for ball #4 on the day!
One of these guys, I can’t remember who, tossed me my 5th ball on the day.
If I am not mistaken, it was Sean Buckley, a first baseman on the Blaze who I tweeted earlier in the day!
He just turned around, asked me if I wanted a ball, and tossed it to me!
Pretty awesome that he actually kept up on his word! Go check him out on Twitter @seanbuckley08!
The Blaze had a lot of lefty power, so they were pulling a lot of pitches out to RF, where it is almost impossible to get a ball outside of the stadium.
At 6, BP was still going strong, despite the gates opening at any moment.
Since the gates were going to be opening at any moment, I ran over to get in line with my dad. He had already gotten in line, so there were not to many people in front of us. That gave me 5 balls in Batting Practice alone. My previous MLB and MiLB high for a single game was 6, which I did in July 2012 in San Jose and August 2012 in Oakland!.
I looked inside to see the cages all the way down and the Blaze taking infield.
At 6:09, when the gate finally opened, this was the scene behind us.
I immediately sprinted down to our seats, where I ran down to check out our seats.
Do you see the person walking towards the dugout, from home plate? He had a few balls in his glove and tossed me one for ball 6 of the day, which I failed to photograph.
I then decided to do a little ballpark exploring…
And moved on to Left Field
Where I walked past the bullpens and seating area.
I walked around the rest of the outfield before making it to the RF corner.
In the right field corner, there is a small set of stairs that go up and then over and down this utility tunnel that is where the cages, etc.. are kept.
This is the RF corner
And then I made it to the Ports dugout, on the first base side.
My dad got this really cool picture of a member of the grounds crew adding extra dirt to the base lines.
They were also raking the lines.
Up behind the Ports dugout is the indoor batting cage. The Ports were all suited up in their new Friday alternate unis, never before worn!
In order to decide the hitting order, some guys were playing rock, paper, scissors.
On my way back to my seat, I saw this little baseball-card dispenser, that I thought was really cool! I WILL be bringing quarters to my next Ports game!
Once we got back to our seats, I posed with my 6 balls so far, right next to our seats.
Yep. That’s how short the fence is. You can see I was standing right next to the dugout. Our seats were in the first row, the one that my glove was sitting next to, and the seat next to it. Isn’t that awesome!
Here is a quick peak into the dugout.
Here is a panoramic shot from our seats
Soon enough, after a bit of relaxing, both teams started to take the field to warm up.
I immediately headed over to where the Ports were warming up, with one goal in mind: Get Addison Russell‘s autograph!
SUCCESS! I got him to sign my ticket! (Which I forgot to photograph)
*Note that the Ports wear WHITE belts with these uniforms*
Once I was finished up there, I put on my Reds hat and Blaze shirt and headed over to where the Blaze were warming up.
Even when I was on the opposite side of the stadium, I had an eye on 19-year-old Addison Russell.
There was lots of autograph signing taking place.
Then my dad headed over to where the Blaze were playing catch.
I didn’t get any balls during warm-ups. That’s all.
Look who was sitting just to our right…
Around the bottom of the 1st inning, Benjamin Christensen (Who I saw on Opening Day and April 3rd in Oakland and was one of the 9 MLB Fan Cave Dwellers in 2012) and Vanessa Demske (Who was a Top-30 MLB Fan Cave contestant in 2013) arrived!
I probably spent 2/3 of the game sitting and talking with the 3 of them. Great people!
Since we were sitting so close to the field, my dad was able to get some really cool close-ups of players, like this one..
And this one…
And this one…
And this one…
The game was just about to get underway…
The National Anthem was performed…
And we were ready to go!
Blake Hassebrock was on the mound for Stockton.
And he escaped the first inning relatively unharmed.
With two outs in the top of the first, I jogged over to the Ports dugout, where I was tossed the 3rd out ball by Maxwell Muncy. It was my 7th on the day.
I had officially broken my record for not only most balls snagged at a MiLB game, but most balls ever snagged at a baseball game.
Addison Russel lead off for the Ports
There was a pitch thrown high and tight to him…
I liked this picture a lot.
Carlos Contreras was on the bump for the Blaze.
Josh Whitaker was batting in the three hole for Stockton.
This is Maxwell Muncy, who tossed me the ball in the top of the 1st.
The bottom of the 1st ended with a strikeout, and catcher Chris Berset tossed the ball to me on his walk in to the dugout. Ball 8 on the day!
This is the umpire…
In the top of the 7th, I headed back over to the Ports dugout once again to try and snag a third out ball. 2nd Baseman Wade Kirkland had recorded the final out of the inning, and tossed me a ball that I had to jump pretty high for, but caught it. (There was nobody near me) Ball 9 on the day!
Then, in the bottom of the 7th, Wade Kirkland fouled off a ball that skipped over the railing right next to the dugout, straight into my glove for ball 10 on the day!
Once the game came to a close, I rushed over to the Blaze dugout in attempts to get the lineup card, but I was shoved out of my way by a 30-year old man who yelled out “Ken! Can I get dat lineup card pleazz?” Griffey Sr. smiled, pulled the tape off the card, and walked towards the clubhouse, lineup card in hand.
From there, I headed over to where Ben, Will, and Vanessa were, where I snapped a picture of the three of them.
Then, I got a picture with them, each of them holding two of the balls I snagged.
It was a great game! If you remember from my Opening Day entry, Ben has a blog of his own, called Hats and Tats: A Lifestyle.
Thanks for reading!
- 4th Game of the Year… 1st MiLB Game of the Year
- 3 MiLB Foul Balls
- 10 balls at this game
- 13 balls in 4 games this season = 3.25 Balls Per Game
- 10 MiLB Balls in 1 MiLB Game = 10 MiLB Balls Per Game
- 3 Consecutive Games with at least 1 Ball
- 7 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 1 Ball
- 4 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 3 Balls
- 25 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
- 56 total 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.