Today was going to be a long, fun filled day!
Do you remember back in March when I mentioned BallhawkFest: West Coast? Well shortly after, it was approved by Alan Schuster, the Admin at MyGameBalls.com, and it was all set to go, on May 18th in Oakland, for the A’s to take on the Royals.
There was A LOT of planning involved on my part, finalizing details and other such things…
ANYWAY… My family left for Zachary’s Pizza in Oakland around noon, getting there around 12:40. Spencer Sanborn, Dave Edlund, and Kelly Byrnes and his wife Leah were already there.
We were soon seated and shortly after, Rick Gold showed up. Today was looking to be a good day!
We all finished up around 2:20, where we grabbed a quick group picture before heading out.
Starting with me going clockwise: Me, Dave Edlund, My Mom (Anne), My Sister (Pascale), Leah Byrnes, Kelly Byrnes, Spencer Sanborn, and Rick Gold.
From there, we parted ways and headed off to the Coliseum. I was the first one there and arrived around 2:40, where it was near empty, but PERFECT weather. I was a little excited!
This was the scene when I got to Gate MM. As you can see, only the flags were laid out and there was nobody else there!
After walking around the stadium once, I headed out to the parking lot to meet up with Kelly Byrnes. He and I are both participating in the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt this season, with one of the items on the checklist being “You swinging a bat at the BallhawkFest softball game.” Both of us were disappointed because nobody else wanted to play, so we decided to play a HR Derby-Style Wiffle Ball game in the EMPTY parking lot.
I was first up and the first to pitches I hit were both at one of the few cars in the parking lot…
I kept pulling the ball!!
We shifted our angle, and that’s where the fun began!
I would say my farthest hit went 200 feet maybe. Then, it was his turn to bat.
I felt bad because my pitches were not in the strike zone much.
But when they were, he got ahold of them!
Based solely on most hits, I won. If I had given him enough good pitches, he would have won in a landslide!
Once we finished up, he was very kind in giving me one of his blog’s shirts, we chatted for a bit, then parted ways.
I headed up back to Gate MM, where I saw Dave Edlund and his friend “Splash Hit” Steve Garrison in line at Gate LL, so I walked over there to talk with him.
Soon after, Leiming Tang, or Tang, as he is better known, showed up!
We talked for 20 minutes or so, before I headed to get back in line at MM.
Dave and Steve tossed and bounced a ball around for a bit.
They also played a bit of catch.
But I was in line! Kelly and Leah joined my dad and I in line, where we were soon joined by Will, Ross, Santiago, and a few others.
10 minutes before the gates opened, Ben and Vanessa showed up and Ben had an AMAZING hat for Will.
You know how the Brewers had the Design the YOU-niform contest
BUT THEY WOUDNT LET US IN because it wasn’t 4:05…
When I did finally run inside, Seth Smith was hitting in the cages.
So was Nate Freiman
Dave headed to left field. He’s in the blue.
To his right is Ryan Dalton, one of the ballhawks that joined us for BallhawkFest!
To his right is Rick Gold!
Rick Gold, as I am sure most of you know, ballhawked at the Coliseum in the 1990’s. He actually competed with Ryan’s dad, who was also a ballhawk for balls during that time!
It’s a small world, huh?
Within 10 minutes of no baseballs, the Royals came onto the field.
Then, a ball was hit off the wall, landing in the grass.
Jerry Blevins walked off, picked it up, and tossed it to a random guy a few feet away from me.
The ball boys were throwing EVERYTHING back to the infield.
Kelly had headed over to one of my usual spots, over down the RF line.
My dad got a lot of cool pictures during BP.
One of the players out there was Mr. Bacon Friday himself, Jeff Francouer!
Around 15 minutes into BP, a ball was hit off the wall right above where my dad was standing. A player walked over, tossed it up, and…
My dad snagged his 2nd lifetime ball!
I have to give major props to Dave and Steve for this game. They rarely go to games INSIDE the stadium, and both of them rarely go to the Oakland Colisuem, so as Spencer said, it’s like “They are fish out of water.”
Rick had a successful BP himself.
Once I got this ball, I headed over to the RF line, near where Kelly was.
Shortly after I got over there, his wife Leah hot a ball tossed up to her. It was her first lifetime ball!
She ended up giving it away to a kid nearby her.
I didn’t see it, but about halfway though batting practice, if I am not mistaken, a ball was hit Dave’s way. In the following picture, you can see the ball in his hands.
My dad got a lot of great pictures from the bleachers, despite being crowded in.
The pitchers did a lot of running durin BP.
BP was pretty quiet in regards to hit balls, so I had a lot of time to stand around.
It AMAZED me how many toss-ups there were. JC Gutierrez tossed up at least 10 balls to the RF Bleachers.
Why was I not there? The area in which he was tossing them up was packed. Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza also had their fair share of toss-ups.
Royals coaches were getting in on the act.
Some time after that, Jeff Francouer lined a ball foul that if I remember correctly either was bobbled by some fans or hit a seat.
Doy you see the kid in the black A’s hat and grey shirt, to the left of Kelly? Well, when I headed over to the RF foul pole, where a ball had just been hit, the boys called out to the trainer, asking for a ball. He didn’t have one, telling them all he had was water. So, that boy and his friend asked for a bottle of water!
Remember that kid and his friend, ok?
Around 5:50, Jeff Francouer hit a sharp ground ball just foul. It ended up landing here.
I called out to him.
And he flipped it up!
Can you spot the ball? Let me know in the comments!
It’s easier to see in this photo.
Dave was easy to spot in LF, wearing his royal blue BallhawkFest shirt among a sea of green and gold.
Shortly after I got that ball, once Chen had gotten back to his spot in the outfield, a ball was hit to him. The other of those two boys I mentioned earlier, asked if he could play catch with him.
STORY TIME!!! I had seen this video filmed by ballhawk Bobby Crosby, who films videos of himself snagging balls on the YouTube channel DodgerFilms. The video is of Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu playing catch with a young fan during Dodgers BP, and since it was posted on May 13th, has over 2 Millions Views! 3 days later, the same boy was back at Dodger BP again and AGAIN played catch with Hyun-Jin Ryu. That is really where it started. Zack Hample has done it not one, two, or three, but four times on video. Mateo Fischer has played catch with Derek Lowe. The day after the first video of Hyrun-Jin Ryu came out, there was a video of Gio Gonzalez doing them same thing.
As soon as I saw this taking place, I pulled out my cell phone and recorded this video:
My dad took notice and also got a short video as well. I edited his video and my video together to make this:
Hands down, that was one of the highlights of the day for me!
As soon as I finished recording the video on my phone, I immediately went to upload it to YouTube. It finished around 7pm, and I then tweeted it to Alex Espinosa.
He is the MLB.com Cut4 Real Time Correspondant for Oakland, and I’m sure most of you remember him from past entries.
Later that night, I found my video on Cut4, in this article:
Then, I saw this tweet from the MLB Fan Cave:
There were multiple blog posts written about it at the MLB Fan Cave website. The MLB Fan Cave posted a quick entry with my video, Mateo’s video, the Hyun-Jin Ryu video, and the Gio Gonzalez video.Then, Cave Dweller April Whitzman did a post herself.
On Monday, I walked into Mr. Hahn’s class and told him about the experience and video. He then told me he had read an article on Yahoo over the weekend about players playing catch with kids during BP. On Monday May 20th, it was the top headline at Yahoo sports! He showed me the article and lone behold…
Wow! I did not expect all of this attention at all!
Here is a picture my dad snapped of him lying on the outfield grass
I would say that in total, at least 30 balls were tossed up, if not closer to 40, mostly due to these two guys.
Once BP came to a close, I had finished with two balls. All of the ballhawks met up in the concourse behind the bleachers for a group photo.
Top Row: Spencer Sanborn (3 Balls), Ryan Dalton (3 Balls), Kelly Byrnes (2 Balls), Rick Gold (4 Balls)
Bottom Row: “McCovey Cove” Dave Edlund (1 Ball), Nick Badders (2 Balls + My Dad’s 1 Ball), “Splash Hit” Steve Garrison (1 Ball)
Not Pictured: Dan Badders (1 Ball held by Nick Badders), Leah Byrnes (2 Balls- Gave Both Away), Leiming Tang (3 Balls)
So, between the 9 of us, 22 balls were snagged! Even though that is only an average of 2.44 balls per person, it is still crazy for me to see that it all came together and was successful!
After we got that group picture, I also got a picture with Rick, who has snagged the most lifetime balls at the Oakland Coliseum. This picture gave me 2 points in the MyGameBalls Photo Scavenger Hunt.
Kelly was in the picture, as he is also competing in the contest!
Between our two families, 5 balls had been snagged, so we both wanted to get a picture for the scavenger hunt. For 6 points… “You and another myGameBalls.com member standing in an empty row of seats in which each cupholder contains a baseball.”
We then parted our separate ways for a little while. My dad and I headed back to our seats.
After a little while with no action, Ervin Santana, the Royals starting pitcher for the day came out to warm up.
The grounds crew watered the infield dirt.
Omar Gonzlez wore his graduation robe, as he has just finished his undergrad studies in college! Why don’t you all, as the readers of 7000 Coliseum Way, go over and give him some love on Twitter. Sound good? Cool!
Back to the warming up?
It was “Star Trek Night,” so the A’s had all of these gimmicks going on, including Stomper’s “outfit.”
This was the only A’s logo shown on the scoreboard that day…
Jeff Francoeur WAS getting the start in Right Field today!
Ervin Santana warmed up in the Royals bullpen.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown!
The national anthem was played!
The people in the bullpen finished up their work.
The meeting at home plate took place.
And we were all ready to go!
Chris Young was in Right Field for the A’s.
Eric Sogard was in his usual second base position.
It wasn’t too hard to spot Dave and Steve in LF. Can you?
Coco Crisp lead off in the bottom of the 1st for Oakland.
Yoenis Cespedes lined out to RF to end the inning.
Tommy Milone took the mound in the second, down 1-0, after giving up a first inning run.
I thought this was a randomly cool picture.
Along with this one…
And this one…
Lorenzo Cain was called out on strikes to end the second inning.
However, the 2nd inning didn’t come without a cost. *38* pitches in the 2nd inning for Tomaso, with 26 pitches in the top of the first inning, prompting Jesse Chavez to start to get hot.
Early into the game, the A’s will show the Pepsi Sports highlight during an inning break. It’s always MLB Action or something random.
Nobody ever wants to see MLB Action.
Like I mentioned earlier, Jeff Francoeur was in RF for KC.
The ball boy down the RF line tossed a lot of foul balls into the stands.
John Jaso was the 2nd out of the 2nd inning, striking out.
My dad enjoyed using the extension on his monopod to get photos like this.
This day was Social Media night, which my mom and sister particpated in. They each bought a ticket to the “Tweetup,” where they also got a special ticket in a section with all of the other tweeters. I used the zoom on my dad’s camera to find them quickly.
In the bottom of the 4th, Josh Donaldson took a mighty hack, but…
Popped out to end the inning, with the score still at 1-0 Royals.
After his first few wild inning, Tommy Milone settled down A LOT!
Chris Young was starting to get the hang of keeping track of outs with the RF Crew. He’s not 100% there yet, though.
Alcides Escobar at the plate…
Brandon Moss was at his usual first base spot in this game.
I thought this was another really cool photo. (I took it! ;-))
4 of the guys on my school’s Varsity baseball team: Ryan Flayler, Jordan Thrailkill, Justin Cash, and Dan Whitney, told me that they were going to be at this game, sitting fright behind the dugout. Guess who I found using my dad’s extreme zoom?
In the 6th inning, Jed Lowrie hit a sac fly with no outs to bring in the game tying run.
WE LOVE YOU OAKLAND, WE DO! WE LOVE YOU OAKLAND, WE DO! WE LOVE YOU OAKLAND, OAKLAND WE LOVE YOU!
Then, Brandon Moss tripled in Coco Crisp to put the A’s ahead 2-1.
It was around this time that I attempted to create my own panoramic shot. I took 4 pictures, Photoshopped them together, and BAM!
In the 8th inning, my dad and mom headed up to where she and my sister had been sitting. Pascale stayed with me in RF, my dad took the camera and loved getting pictures from a different angle.
This was their view.
And no, they did not have any foul balls come close.
Coco Crisp was called out on strikes to lead off the A’s half of the 8th inning.
Jed Lowrie flied out to center field.
I thought it was awesome to see RF from this angle.
Guess who pitched the 9th inning for the A’s? It was 2-1. They were winning…
To end the game!
And it was the A’s 2nd consecutive 2-1 win!
Immediately after the final out, these people came onto the field…
And my family got in line along with Kelly and Leah to get onto the field to watch the fireworks.
It was PACKED!!
My sister and I were both happy to be there.
The fireworks were spectacular, as always.
My dad and I got a picture with our BP balls.
I got one last picture. I’m sure you can notice how tired I am.
- 10th Game this Year
- 2 Balls at this Game
- 10 balls in 8 MLB games this season = 1.25 Ball Per Game
- 25 Balls in 10 Games this season = 2.5 Balls Per Game
- 38 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
- 68 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.