Category: Bobby Crocker

7/27/13 at Banner Island Ballpark

Origionally, I was supposed to go to the A’s game this day. It was 1969 Turn-Back-The-Clock day, with a T-Shirt giveaway. The start time was 12:05 and I had just gotten back from vacation the night before, so I wasn’t really wanting to go to the game.

I was sitting on 93 balls combined between MLB and MiLB, so my 7th ball of the day would be a special one. Keep that in mind!

We sold our 2 seats on StubHub and used the money to buy tickets to that night’s Ports game! It was a Drew Granier jersey, the Ports new Friday Alternate one.

The funny thing is that Granier was promoted to AA in Mid-June. Still, cool!

This was going to be a popular game, but I was looking forward to it, as I was sitting on 93 lifetime balls between MLB and MiLB and was hoping to snag #100 today.

My goal was to be in Stockton by 4pm for BP, and my dad and I ended up arriving there at 3:58, so it was perfect timing!

The parking lot was not yet open, so my dad dropped me off, while he went to go wait for the lot to open. I found Vanessa at the front of the line, she had come to this game with Ryan Dalton, who was out behind LF looking for any random balls.

I talked with her for about 20 minutes, as BP got underway around 4:25. I had gotten an official conformation that the gates would be opening at 5:35, rather than 6pm, so I was excited for a potential half hour of BP inside the stadium!

When Ryan and I headed out back, the San Jose Giants were stretching down the LF line.

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Meanwhile, the Ports were finishing their catch, having already completed their stretching.

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My first ball of the day was curtsey of Addison Russell.

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He lined a ball towards the Berm in Right-Center field, and since it was hit hard, it kept rolling past the berm, setting in the bush past the ballpark fence. I had a hunch, so I ran over there, dug through the bushes, and picked it up, coming back to show my dad and Ryan, as I was on the board!

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Meanwhile, Ryan chased down a ball, for his first snag on the day.

The next guy in the cage was Bruce Maxwell.

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From what I heard from Ryan and Vanessa, Bruce is a class act. Great guy! More on him later on…

Ryan and I were having a good time, as a moment later, he chased down another ball, that was hit towards the Marina, almost in the same spot as the other.

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There were 3 rounds of 4 hitters each, and at this point, there was one group left in Ports BP, at this point, it was just past 5pm.

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One of the hitters in the final group was Bobby Crocker. Here we go…

He BOMBED at ball down the Left Field line, and I broke off sprinting. Other than me and Ryan, there was one other ballhawk out there, a guy in a Giants hat and orange shirt. He was about 50 feet to my right, so he had a much better shot at the ball.

If you go back 2 pictures, you will see yellow caution tape and logs underneath it.

The ball was hit and we both took off running. It looked like the ball was going to hit the pavement, then roll fast, so he broke past the point of the caution tape. I took a direct line towards where the ball was headed, in hopes to cut it off from the other guy. The ball hit a tree, landing in the circle of dirt around the tree.

As he was much closer, he was almost guaranteed the ball. However, as he was running, he tripped on one of the logs. According to Ryan, as well as my dad, he just ATE IT. They both agreed if he hadn’t done so, I would have had no chance with the ball.

As soon as I picked up the ball, I heard Ryan yell “NICK THIS ONE’S YOU!” I looked up and the ball was coming straight for me. The other guy was still phased from his spill, so he hadn’t caught up with me. I took a few steps forward, in a perfect spot to catch it on the bounce. I got the ball on the bounce,

As soon as I caught the ball, the guy came running up from behind me and gave me a hard slap on the arm, in an attempt to knock the ball out of my glove.

I didn’t let go of either ball and came back to join my dad and Ryan.

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That guy didn’t move from this spot for the rest of Ports BP. He was pissed that he had fallen and not gotten either ball.

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How pissed was he? A ball landed 10 feet to his right and he didn’t move to go pick it up. Ryan was able to WALK over and grab it for his 3rd ball of the day!

I finished Ports BP with 3 balls, the same as Ryan.

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Then came the Giants BP…

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Quickly, I got a ball in Giants BP, when Ricky Oropesa lined a ball over the Ports bullpen.

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It hit the base to the scoreboard and more or less stopped. Ryan figured there was no way to get it, but I reached under the fence and picked it up for my 4th ball on the day!

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Neither of us got any balls up until the points at which the gates opened.

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We headed back at 5:20, to join Vanessa, who had stayed in line, saving us all a spot. The gates opened at 5:35, and I headed right for the berm in right-center field.

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Soon, a ball was hit back behind the inflatable kids slide in right field. I ran over and picked it up for ball #5.

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I then ran over to the RF wall, where Edward Concepcion was picking up a ball. Without having to ask, he tossed it to me for ball #6. I needed 1 more to reach 100 combined balls.

Moments later, Brock Bond launched a ball high, right at me. I moved back to the edge of the berm and secured it in my glove. Ball 100!

I know most people don’t think this is a big deal, it’s “cheap to count them together. Think of it this way. Ichiro is almost at 4000 hit combined between Japan and MLB. That’s still a big deal, right?

About 5 minutes later, I was joined by Ryan, who hadn’t snagged any balls inside. He then walked over to the slide and picked up two balls that were just sitting there. HOW HAD I NOT SEEN THEM. I felt ridiculously stupid, however he had missed one, and I picked it up for #8 on the day!

BP then came to a close, at which point I ran down to the cage, in hopes of snagging a ball that was lying around. I spotted a ball sitting by the Ports dugout and called out to Chris Lofton who picked it up and tossed it to me. It turned out to be an MLB ball! I then put it in my backpack and took one out, giving it to the nearest kid.

At this point, I joined back up with Ryan and Vanessa, as we sat in our seats and talked for roughly half an hour.

We then noticed Bruce Maxwell, the Ports catcher (Whom I had mentioned earlier in the entry), signing autographs down the right field line.

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Ryan, Vanessa, and I headed over there, where Ryan and I both got him to sign a ball for us. Bruce is a class act!
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Meanwhile, this guy was busy getting photos and cards signed.

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We headed back to our seats and talked for another 10 or so minutes, as the Ports began to warm up.
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Over on the 3rd base side, the Giants were doing the same.

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One interesting thing I noticed was that the Giants had brought a bat boy with them, so there was no need for the usual guy in a Ports uniform to sit in the dugout. My guess is that he is the manger’s son.
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As both teams were starting to play catch, I swung over to the Ports team store to get a new hat, as my current one was a size too small and about to cut off the circulation to the rest of my body.

I emerged from the team store, stuck on my *San Jose* Giants hat, and ran down to where they were finishing up with catch, where I failed to get a ball.

Ryan, Vanessa, and I once again reconvened behind the Giants dugout to talk for a little while longer, where we saw something quite amusing take place.. A 3 year-old boy was celebrating his birthday at the game, and the Ports let him throw out the first pitch. He was also going to say play ball before the game got underway, so after the first pitch, he hung out by the Ports dugout.

He made several attempts to run onto the field, being scooped up and carried back to the on-deck circle by people including his mother, Jeremy (The Ports In-Game host), as well as one of the umpires.

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It’s the little things that make you smile.

Around 7:10, the national anthem was sung.
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And it was time to play some baseball!

Ryan and I headed out to the parking lot to chase foul balls, as the Ports allow unlimited re-entry privileges.

On the mound for the Ports was James Simmons

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In the bottom of the first inning, Bobby Crocker stepped to the plate to lead off the Ports half of the first. He popped a pitch over the roof and the ball settled under a car. I ran over and picked it up! It was my 3rd straight MiLB game with a foul ball!

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Meanwhile, on the mound for the Giants was Kelvin Marte

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He struggled in the 2nd inning, but came back strong after that.

Will showed up in the first inning, as he was pulling a doubleheader. He went to the A’s game in Oakland, went to an Eric Sogard signing in Dublin, then came to the Ports game.

Anyway… He has a great relationship with Ports manager Webster Garrison, or “Webby.”

Every time Webby would jog over to the 3rd base coach’s box, he points to Will, as Will yells “Webby!”

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He’s a really cool dude!
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One thing Vanessa had been mentioning throughout the game was how she loved Ryan Cavan’s mustache. I can understand why!

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Oh, and also in the 2nd inning, Antonio Lamas and Dusty Robinson hit back to back home runs!

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The Ports had the 3-1 lead after 2 innings, but starting in the 3rd inning, San Jose came charging and never looked back. They scored 1 run in 3rd inning, as well as the 4th inning, then added on 2 in the 5th, and 3 more in the 7th, making it 8-3 at the 7th inning stretch.

I spent the first 6 innings in the parking lot, chasing foul balls, as well as talking with a ballhawk named John, who had just moved from Omaha to Reno. Really cool guy! He’s been to over 40 Minor League stadiums and is going to be starting an MLBlog soon, so keep on the lookout!

I only had the 1 foul ball after the first 6 innings, so I decided to come back inside and go for 3rd out balls and actually enjoy a bit of the game.

Remember that bat boy I talked about earlier? I found it kind of funny that he was wearing a Stockton Ports helmet with the rest of his San Jose uniform.

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Seriously though, Ryan Cavan has an amazing mustache!

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In the top of the 7th, San Jose tacked on those 3 runs against one of the newer Ports relievers, Schaffer Hall.

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He had started the season with the Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League, but after playing a game with the River Cats (And Getting the win, might I add), he was sent down to Stockton, where he started 7 of his first 8 games, and has been in the bullpen since.

Jeff Soptic came in to pitch the 7th inning for the Giants. Not only is his name cool, but he makes fantastic faces on the mound.

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In that bottom of the 7th, the Ports scored 3 runs, shortening the Giants lead to 8-5.

In the top of the 8th, I hung out by the Ports dugout, in hopes of snagging a foul ball or 3rd out ball. Eric Sim struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt to end the inning, and thankfully Bruce Maxwell kept the ball. I called out to him, he recognized me from pre-game, and tossed me the ball.

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It was my 11th ball on the day, a new all-time record for me! Since Bruce is one of Vanessa and Ryan’s favorite players, they thought the ball was pretty cool!
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In the bottom of the 9th, I moved myself down close to the Giants dugout in hopes of getting their lineup card, or a broken bat, as there had been one earlier in the game.

However, there was a scare in the 9th inning. With 1 out, and runners on 1st and 2nd, Myrio Richard was hit in the head with a pitch from Derek Law.

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It was scary. How scary? Ryan almost caught the ball. He was sitting in the first row, and the ball nearly landed in his glove, but he appropriately decided it would be inappropriate to make a real attempt for the ball, given what had just happened.

He ended up only being a bit shaken up, so he loaded the bases, brining the winning run to the plate with only 1 out, as Myrio representing the tying run.

Josh Whitaker and B.A. Vollmuth both struck out, sealing the 8-5 W for San Jose.
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After the game, I rushed down to the Giants dugout to try and get the lineup card. I asked the Giants manager, Andy Skeels for it, but he gave me a look like I was an alien, peeled the lineup card off, and put it in his binder. I then asked Lipso Nava, their hitting coach for the broken bat. He asked me why I would want a splintered bat, but before I could respond, he left the dugout.

At this point, I left for the Ports dugout, just hoping that there lineup card would still be there. I asked both Myrio and Bruce for the card, but neither of them was “allowed” to give it to me.

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I ended up asking the bat boy, and he peeled it off and gave it to me!

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Then, Ryan popped his head out from next to the dugout with what? THE BROKEN BAT!

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How cool is that?!?

We then got a group picture, Ryan holding his bat, me holding the lineup card and 4 balls, and Vanessa holding the other 6 baseballs I snagged on the day.

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My dad then got a picture of me with the lineup card (Which was typed) and all of my baseballs from the day in my MLB Network drawstring backpack.

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Then, Ryan noticed what he thought was a stat sheet, so he called over Jeremy, the Ports in-game host. He peeled it off the wall, and it turned out to be from the last game Ports Ryan had been at, on July 19th!

At that point, we had noticed the Rosin bag sitting on the dugout bench, so Vanessa asked Jeremy if we could hold it.

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I got a picture with it.

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And so did Vanessa.

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COOL STUFF!

And no, I didn’t get to keep it. As much as I would have wanted to, there is a 50% chance it had been on Tim Hudson’s head at some point, and I don’t really want to run that risk. Not only that, but there is a good chance it will spontaneously combust.

But the best reason of all for not keeping it was given to me by Chris Kusiolek (@Oak_AllDay on Twitter)

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I asked Jeremy if they really need it that bad, but he said they do, so there goes that….

Anyway… it was a REALLY fun day! I had a great tim ballhawking with Ryan (We snagged 19 balls combined) and it was a lot of fun to hang out with him and Vanessa for the day. Hopefully I’ll be back at Banner Island soon!

BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 20th Game of the Year… 6th MiLB Game of the Year
  • 11 balls at this game
  • 47 MiLB Balls in 6 MiLB Games = 7.83 MiLB Balls Per Game
  • 12 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 6 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 5 Balls
  • 62 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
  • 104 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.

4/21/13 at Banner Island Ballpark

This game was going to be me, my dad, and Uncle Seth, who I have mentioned before.

We left our house around 10:50, so we got to Stockton around 11:45.

Throughout the course of the day, before the gates opened, I made another vlog, similar to what I did for this game.

As soon as we got there, we found that nobody was collecting money for parking. FREE PARKING!

I then immediately headed out back for BP.

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As you can see from my tilted picture, there was little action, but the cages WERE set up.

The first batter to step into the cage for the Ports was Addison Russell.

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About 5 minutes after I arrived, look what I had!

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Yeah!

Only the Ports took BP, there were no Nuts players anywhere to be found.

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And believe it or not, the Addison Russell ball was the ONLY one that cleared the bullpen area, despite strong swings.

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Believe it or not, none of the bunts left the yard!

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BP was VERY boring all-told.
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Around 12:20, right when batting practice was coming to a close, the song Milkshake came on over the PA in the stadium. Wade Kirkland was patrolling left field. You know the app called Vine? Well watch this. He was kind of bored. Dance moves were not to bad.

BP came to a close around 12:25 or so, so I decided to walk around the Marina area and ballpark exterior.

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Seriously, how awesome is this?

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As I’m sure most of you know by now, the Stockton Arena sits right next door.
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Basically, I wandered along the waterfront as far as I could go, before I reached the fence of the parking lot.

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At this point, I decided to turn back. On my way back, I saw this…

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I decided to wander around over towards the Pro Shop area.

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In the windows, they have every Ports giveaway since 2005. I noticed these two bobbleheads…IMG_3278

Those will both be giveaways later on this year!

I headed over to the Suite Holder gate to get a better view of inside, where I saw this.

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That lady was writing in the lineups for both teams on the whiteboard in the concourse.

I then decided to head back and get in line.

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I seriously couldn’t wait to get inside!

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There was a table being set up that had a turtle in a cage next to it…IMG_3271

I decided to get a picture with my uncle and the ball I got during BP.

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Then, I got a picture of myself with the ball

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The gates opened at 1:07, and after getting my ticket scanned, I headed over to where a few Nuts players were playing catch and stretching.

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Just out of the frame was the glove of William Rankin. As he finished running, he tossed me his ball.

After I got that ball, I headed over to section 117. Why? It was on-field player photo and autograph day! When I got there, I met up with Will and Ross. At 1:15, we were all led into a roped off area. Players then lined up along the rope, with pens in hand. Remember the logo ball I got in my last Stockton game? I was ready to get some signatures!

The first player I got an autograph from was infielder Max Muncy, who tossed me a ball and hit me a foul ball in my last Stockton game. My dad and uncle were wandering around the stadium, so I was left to use my phone’s camera to get a photo with him.

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Next in line was outfielder Dusty Robinson.

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After getting a picture and autograph from Dusty, I moved on to pitcher Seth Frankoff.

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After Frankoff was pitcher Jose Macias.

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After Macias, I moved on to get an autograph and picture with pitcher Jonathan Joseph.

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Then, I got to talk with Blake Hassebrock.

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After Hassebrock was outfielder Bobby Crocker

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Then, came infielder B.A. Vollmuth (One of the coolest names EVER if you ask me).

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The next guy I got a photo with was outfielder Josh Whitaker.

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The 10th person I got a photo with was the starting pitcher that day, Deyvi Jimenez.

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Then, my dad came down to get a few shots, including this one of me with SS Addison Russell.

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I had an absoluste blast with all of this.

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It was a small space with LOTS of people.

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I couldn’t get pictures with or autographs from all of the guys, so I spent a few minutes talking with Will and Ross, who got lots of photos themselves.

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I also go to talking with Eric and Bridget, who are A’s fans that I believe made the trip with Vanessa.

As you can see in the picture above, Vanessa joined us on the field. Remember her from my last game in Stockton?

She, Will, and I then got a picture with Max Muncy and Ryan Delgado.

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Do you see the phone in the picture above taking a picture of us? That is Vanessa’s, and here is the picture she later posted on Instagram.

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About halfway through the event, I took this panorama of the event, which hopefully captures the chaos of it all.

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Around 1:45, they started wrapping things up, at which point Will had a short conversation with Ports manager Webster Garrison.

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He and Vanessa then got a quick picture with Webby.

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Around 2, I headed over to watch the Ports starting pitcher for the day

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Once he was done warming up, I got this panoramic shot from the LF foul pole.

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Then I headed over to RF to get the same.

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The Ports let a Little Leaguers run on the field with players in this game, for the National Anthem, and it was a very cool sight!

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The National Anthem, as always, was great!

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The Ports sent Deyvi Jimenez to the mound.

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While the Nuts countered with Ben Alsup.

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For the Top of the first, I headed over to behind the Ports dugout in hopes of getting a third out ball.

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I was unsuccessful, and on my way back, I snapped this panoramic.

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For most of the game, I sat down with Will, Ross, Vanessa, Bridget, and Eric, near the first row, chatting.

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In the front row, you have Will, Ross, Eric, Vanessa, and Bridget.

I did, however, spend some time sitting up with my Uncle and Dad, where I was able to get shots of people like this one.

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And of Will…

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With 2 outs at every half inning, I would head behind the dugout of the team on the field and try to get a ball. I was unsuccessful ALL DAY.

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As always, my dad got AMAZING pictures.

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The Ports scored their first run in the bottom of the 2nd.

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Every time Webster Garrison, the Ports manager, walks past the visitng dugout to go coach 3rd Base, Will and a few other fans stand up and yell “WEBBYYYYY!”

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Here he is coaching third base.

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The Nuts manager is Lenn Sakata.

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 As I mentioned earlier, I was very unsuccessful with 3rd out balls, so I enjoyed getting to relax and take lots of pictures!

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I then took these two pictures…

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When I got home, I went into Photoshop and created my first “real,” (And poorly done) panoramic photo.

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One memorable play was when Dusty Robinson came to the plate…

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And there was an interesting play at first…
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Here is Josh Whitaker.

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For me, it was awesome to just sit back, relax, and take pictures.

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In the 8th inning, Bernie Lean came on…

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Can YOU Bernie Lean?

Also in the 8th inning, Juan Crouset stepped to the plate for the Nuts.

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He popped a ball foul a few rows behind me. I misjudged it, but immediately picked it up off the ground. Ball #4! It was my 5th lifetime foul ball, 4th at a MiLB game, and 2nd MiLB game in a row with a foul ball!

Right after I picked it up, I heard a young girl (7 years old maybe) quietly say “Dangit.” Without thinking, I handed the ball to her.

Yes, of course, I would have loved to have kept the ball, and I got PLENTY of backlash for it on Twitter, but it was all worth it to see her so happy with it.

When the Ports came to bat in the bottom of the 8th, Nelson Gonzalez went into his second inning of work out of the bullpen.

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But, he blew the lead…

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Ryan Ortiz had hit a go-ahead home run!

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And it was high fives all around!

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Jordan Ribera and Taylor Featherston watched as a new pitcher took his warm up tosses.

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Modesto called upon Kenneth Roberts to get the final two outs of the inning.

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Thankfully for the Nuts, he was able to escape the inning, but not before allowing another run!

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In the top of the 9th inning, the Ports were ahead 4-2, so I headed over to my ticketed seat for the first time all game, located right next to the Nuts dugout. At that point, I was hoping to get the lineup card after the game, so I put on my Nuts hat. Will was VERY disappointed in me. He then took this picture of me.

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That is my “I know I’m a Ports fan but I have to do this” face.

Jonathan Joseph came on for the Ports to lock down the save.

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And the Ports had won!

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Some people were getting pictures…
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… But I was sticking my head into the dugout to try and get the lineup card.

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As soon as I got there, I asked the Nuts manager for the lineup card, but he ignored me and left. Then, Brian Humphries walked over, saw a pile of balls on top of the bat rack and tossed one to me without saying a word. He then tossed out 6 more to other kids that were crowding around the dugout.

Soon, I saw a clubhouse attendant in a rockies hat, shirt, and shorts (The Nuts are a Rockies affiliate) walk over. I asked him for the lineup card, and look!

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I thanked him and headed up the stairs, where everyone else was standing. Vanessa snapped this picture of me on her phone of me with the lineup card.BIbR5i_CQAA-tAO

We then got a group picture. From left to right… Bridgett, Will, Vanessa, MEEEEE, Ross, Eric, and my Uncle Seth.IMG_4270

As we were heading out, I noticed it was “Kids Run the Bases” day.IMG_4273

Once we left, I headed to Ross’s car to pick up my 2013 RF Bleacher shirt (To debut in my next game entry) and then headed back to meet up with my dad and uncle.

Cool stuff. Great game.

Thanks for reading!

BALLHAWKING STATS:
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  • 6th Game of the Year… 2nd MiLB Game of the Year
  • 5 balls at this game
  • 19 balls in 6 games this season = 3.16 Balls Per Game
  • 15 MiLB Balls in 2 MiLB Games = 7.5 MiLB Balls Per Game
  • 4 MiLB Foul Balls
  • 5 Lifetime Foul Balls
  • 5 Consecutive Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 2 Consecutive MiLB Games with 1 Foul Bal
  • 30 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
  • 62 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.