Minor League Baseball is great. Do you know why I love it? Not only is it great for snagging balls, but the atmosphere is amazing. Prices are cheaper, and in my opinion, it is a lot more fun!
So… More MiLB it is!
Since my sister had been unable to go the catch on the field day with me in Modesto, this was something that we both really wanted to do, as it was catch on the field in Stockton! Also, the first 500 fans in got a pack of Ports baseball cards.
Since it was a 6:05 game, the gates would be opening at 5:05, so I figured BP would be starting around 3 or 3:30. After picking up my grandma and uncle, we overestimated how long it would take us to get to Stockton, and we ended up arriving around 2:45. Ok…
My dad, uncle, and grandma decided to drive around downtown Stockton, while my sister, mom, and myself walked around and waited for BP to start.
We took a lap around the stadium as they were setting up the cage, so I knew there would at least be some BP. Then, my sister and I played catch. Then we played some games on our phones. By now, it was 3:15. Nobody was on the field yet. So, we walked over to the gates and tried to get a different angle.
Around 3:25, this was the scene on the field…
So… I headed out back to Left Field!
You can clearly see where that ball hit a green chair before popping in my glove.
My next ball was hit soon after, almost in the same area.
Then, my 3rd ball on the day landed relatively close to the scoreboard. Nothing fancy about the ball, right?
WRONG! Check out this huge gash on the ball, probably from where it bounced on a table or chair that you can see in the above photo.
As I was admiring the ball, somebody crushed a ball VERY deep, and I took off running towards the Marina.
This is where I was standing, ball in hand.
This was probably the farthest I’ve had to run for a ball, it was hit HARD!
As I was walking back to meet up with my mom and sister, something in the water caught my eye.
Can you see? That is a BASEBALL!
My guess is that it settled about 450 feet or so from home plate, so clearly, it was hit far. It had to have hit something, but that is still impressive.
I continued walking back, when I saw something else.
Another baseball?!? WOW!
To give you perspective on where each of those ball landed, the yellow dot is the first ball, the red dot is the 2nd.
Crazy, is it not?
The 3 of us got in line around 4:10. My dad showed up with my uncle and grandma around 4:30, then the 4 of us decided to walk around the Marina area a bit, as this was my grandmother’s first time in Stockton.
We went out behind the stadium.
And walked along the Marina.
We revisited this piece of art.
Then, we got back in line, around 4:50.
Finally, around 5:10, the gates opened. I got my baseball cards, then my mom and I headed off to the team store to make a quick purchase, before my sister and I went down onto the field to play catch.
We both had a really good time playing catch!
As we were allowed to roam all over the outfield, there was one picture I really wanted my dad to get. So, I had my sister toss me a ball, and I jumped to catch it.
And I was airborne!!!
Unfortunately, you cannot see the ball in the picture, but it is in fact in my glove. It had just hit the pocket, and the fact that I was moving makes the ball seemingly disappear.
My sister and I had fun playing catch, as did my uncle.
We left the field around 5:30, as players were starting to come onto the field. Why was that so crucial? Here is why.
You know how Yoenis Cespedes was not only a participant in the Home Run Derby, but he in fact won the whole thing? Well, Mike Gallego, the A’s 3rd Base Coach, was the one who pitched to him. As soon as I noticed this, I made a point to go to MLB.com Shop to see if you could make a customized #2 Gallego shirt. Sure enough, you could! My sister’s favorite player is Yoenis Cespedes, so she got his shirt, I got Gallego’s. As you can see in the photos of us playing catch, we are both wearing our shirt.
Anyway, I am probably one of (If not the only) person on the planet with this shirt. Knowing that Mike’s son, Niko, is the Nuts 3rd Baseman, I really wanted to show Niko the shirt. So, as he was walking out of the dugout, I called him over, asking if I could take a picture with him.
Once he walked over, I explained to him, what I just explained to you.
“Since Yoenis won the HR Derby, I thought not enough people would give credit to your dad for throwing some great pitches. He is my favorite A’s coach (That is true) and I really wanted to try and get an All Star jersey or shirt with his name and number on the back, just like he wore while pitching to Cespy. So, I went to MLB.com Shop and customized an AL All Star shirt with his name and number on the back. As soon as it showed up, I knew I wanted to show it to you, since I know not many people are going to have one of these.”
Niko LOVED it! He kept telling me that it was awesome, asking where I got it, and told me I had to get his dad to try and sign it. I mentioned that I was planning on going to one of the Friday games withe A’s BP and try and catch him and get him to sign it. Niko then told me that not only would he let Mike know about me and my shirt, but he also told me that he would tell his dad to keep a look out at all games for me, to make sure my shirt was signed by the man himself!
FYI, Niko is listed at 6-Foot on the Nuts website, and I’m 5’10 or 5’11, so he was standing on the field, a bit lower than I was. Unfortunately, I’m not 7 feet tall.
We parted ways, and he thanked me again for talking to him.
Oh, and did I mention it was Spash’s birthday?
To celebrate, mascots from around the Bay Area were there to celebrate including the A’s and River Cats mascots in Stomper and Dinger.
As well as Modesto’s Wally.
If you remember from this game, Will had a “beef” with Wally. They shook hands before this game got underway.
At 7:07, the first pitch was thrown, and the game was underway!
The Ports starting pitcher tonight was Josh Bowman.
He was able to get out of the 1st inning relatively unharmed, only allowing a single and stolen base.
Then, when the Ports came up in the bottom half, Webby did his usual point to Will.
That would be the man that is routinely inside the Wally costume for Modesto!
Since we were all sitting by the Nuts dugout, I decided to wear my Nuts hat, so if the players saw me, they wouldn’t see me in a Ports hat. However, Will did not appreciate this, knowing that not only my favorite team was the Ports, but his is as well, so he took this picture of me on his camera.
That’s my “I don’t know what to tell you, I’m gonna wear a Nuts hat” face. Throughout the first few innings, Will was heckling me more than he was the umpire! However, that drastically changed later on. (Keep reading to find out!)
This was my view for the game.
Meanwhile, Josh Bowman was playing tricks with his eyes. I don’t get that about pitchers. Take a look for yourself:
Oh and did I mention the Nuts pitcher was BEN ALSUP? It’s the 5th time I’ve seen him pitch this year! His record is 1-2 in the 4 games I have already seen him pitch.
In the Ports half of the 4th, Antonio Lamas homered, bringing the score to 3-3.
But the race was eventually won by a Banana.
Splash and the Big Red Dog didn’t do so well…
The 5th inning was really exciting! Why?
Well, in the top of the inning, I stood here for the entire time.
Then, when Ryan Casteel struck out swinging, Bruce Maxwell tossed me the ball! I then gave it to the nearest kid.
Addison Russell muscled a ball out to center field, that didn’t quite leave the yard. He rounded third and headed for home.
It was going to be a close play at the plate.
And he slid in SAFELY for an inside-the-park home run!
Everyone was excited!
In the 6th inning, Jordan Ribera homered, bringing Tyler Massey and Will Swanner around to score.
In the 7th inning, Bobby Crocker was rung up on some questionable pitches to end the inning.
All game long, Paul Clemons, the umpire (Who Will is good friends with) had been making some terrible ball and strike calls. And when I say terrible, they were AWFUL! However, this one pushed Bobby over the edge.
He did not like the call one bit! Paul had been calling an incredibly low strike all game long.
AND HE WAS GONE!
This was the closest I have ever been to a player being ejected. It was cool because you could hear them arguing!
Webby then came to give Paul a piece of his mind on his way back to the dugout.
He was absolutely livid!
But somehow didn’t get tossed.
Meanwhile, Omar Duran came on to pitch the 8th for Stockton.
No more runs were scored for the rest of the game, with Modesto winning 7-5.
Jared Simon has just barely broken his bat during the game, so I decided I was going to try and get it from him after the game. As he was coming back in, I asked him for it, to which he nodded at me. SWEET!
I did end up getting the Nuts lineup card and a ball from the bat boy that was cleaning out the dugout.
Then, I went to ask the Bat Boy in the Stockton dugout for the Ports lineup card, then he TOO handed it to a person that had asked after me, after telling me he would give it to me. Super….
Then, my sister and I went to find Wes, as we had a picture to take!
Wow. What an incredible day. Sure, some things didn’t go exactly as planned, but it sure was a fun day. Catch on the field was cool, getting the lineup card was cool, and the photo above is really cool! If I had to pinpoint one thing though, it was my interaction with Niko Gallego. He is hands down the funniest guy on the Modesto roster (I’ve listened to him while he is stretching and pre-game in the dugout, and he is all-around, an amazing guy! Even if I had gotten the Ports lineup card to go along with my Nuts one, or even if I had gotten one of those bats, nothing could have been better than my interaction with Niko. As much as I love Trevor Story for giving me a bat and being a great player and person in general, Niko Gallego is FOR SURE my favorite player on the Nuts.
- 27th Game of the Year… 10th MiLB Game of the Year
- 6 balls at this game
- 70 MiLB Balls in 10 MiLB Games = 7 Balls Per MiLB Game
- 16 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 1 Ball
- 85 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
- 93 Baseballs this Season
- 136 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.