Category: Ben Christensen

4/5/13 at Banner Island Ballpark

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.

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This was going to me my first MiLB game of the 2013 season, and my first one since last September in Modesto. It was my first Ports game since May 2012.

We arrived at Banner Island Ballpark around 4:45, just under and hour and a half before the gates were supposed to open.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Ports BP was pretty boring…

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I mean, as a fan, it was lots of fun to watch!

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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…

Yep…

The Blaze players were beginning to stretch and warm up along the LF line.

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As I continued ballhawking, my dad began to walk around the stadium to get some pictures.

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The Stockton Marina was looking gorgeous

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Absolutely amazing.

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Ryan Delgado and Sean Murphy were talking it up in the outfield

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Everyone gives Stockton a bad rep, but it is an amazing city.

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This is the walkway between the ballpark and water.

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There is this outdoor seating area right behind the stadium.IMG_7208There was this ball just sitting under the table…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ball #3 was a sharp line drive that hit the concrete and slowly rolled out of the stadium, right into my glove.

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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!

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One of these guys, I can’t remember who, tossed me my 5th ball on the day.

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If I am not mistaken, it was Sean Buckley, a first baseman on the Blaze who I tweeted earlier in the day!

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He just turned around, asked me if I wanted a ball, and tossed it to me!

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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.

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At 6, BP was still going strong, despite the gates opening at any moment.

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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!.

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I looked inside to see the cages all the way down and the Blaze taking infield.

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The giveaway for the game was a ball with the Ports new alternate logo on it.
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At 6:09, when the gate finally opened, this was the scene behind us.

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I immediately sprinted down to our seats, where I ran down to check out our seats.

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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…

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I started out in the LF corner…
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And moved on to Left Field

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Where I walked past the bullpens and seating area.

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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.

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This is the RF corner

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And then I made it to the Ports dugout, on the first base side.

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My dad got this really cool picture of a member of the grounds crew adding extra dirt to the base lines.

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They were also raking the lines.

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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!

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In order to decide the hitting order, some guys were playing rock, paper, scissors.

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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!

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Once we got back to our seats, I posed with my 6 balls so far, right next to our seats.

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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.

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Here is a panoramic shot from our seats

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Here was my ticket from the day.
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Soon enough, after a bit of relaxing, both teams started to take the field to warm up.

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I immediately headed over to where the Ports were warming up, with one goal in mind: Get Addison Russell‘s autograph!

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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.

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My dad headed over to where the Ports were beginning to play catch.
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Even when I was on the opposite side of the stadium, I had an eye on 19-year-old Addison Russell.

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There was lots of autograph signing taking place.

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Then my dad headed over to where the Blaze were playing catch.

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I didn’t get any balls during warm-ups. That’s all.

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Look who was sitting just to our right…

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It’s Will! For those of you who don’t know (WHY DON’T YOU KNOW HIM BY NOW?), that is bleacher regular Will MacNeil, the man behind the Balfour Rage!

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..

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And this one…

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And this one…

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And this one…

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The game was just about to get underway…

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The National Anthem was performed…

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And we were ready to go!

Blake Hassebrock was on the mound for Stockton.

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And he escaped the first inning relatively unharmed.

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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

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There was a pitch thrown high and tight to him…

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I liked this picture a lot.

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Carlos Contreras was on the bump for the Blaze.

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Josh Whitaker was batting in the three hole for Stockton.

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This is Maxwell Muncy, who tossed me the ball in the top of the 1st.

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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…

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Here are the infielders standing around in the infield during a pitching change…IMG_8010

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.

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Then, I got a picture with them, each of them holding two of the balls I snagged.

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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.

You can click on the name of Will, Ben, and Vanessa to follow them each on Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

BALLHAWKING STATS:IMG_8057

  • 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

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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.

9/14/12 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.