Category: Hat

8/1/12 at the Oakland Coliseum

This game came out of nowhere. Literally. The day before, the A’s ticket services staff posted a question on Twitter, with the 1st person to answer correctly won 2 tickets to that night’s game. The question was “Last night the A’s clinched their best July record in team history (19-4). When was last time the A’s had a record that good in a one month?” I knew the answer was August of 2002, when the A’s had their 20 game win streak.

I tweeted them the answer, and then got a DM that I had won. After remembering it was my parent’s anniversary, I told them that I couldn’t make it. Then, they offered me 2 tickets to the A’s game the next day, a 12:35 game against the Rays. After telling them that my sister had to come, and offering to buy an extra ticket, they told me to pick up 4 tickets at the box office.

The A’s ticket services staff are the best in baseball!

On Wednesday, I left the house, along with my mom and sister around 8:20. We were going to walk to the bus stop, as my dad had to leave for work, from there take the bus to BART, and take BART to the Coliseum. We got to the bus stop at 9:00 and BART at 9:40.

Once we got on BART, we got to the Coliseum at 10ish, the same time Will Call opened, so that we could pick up the tickets.

Once we walked halfway around the stadium to Will Call, we picked up our tickets. The lady at Will Call thought it was cool that we had won and said they were really good.

Honestly, I was expecting 4 generic A’s tickets in the 2nd deck. But, no. These seats were between the Rays dugout and home plate. In the first seating level!

And to top it all, they were the commemorative tickets that only season ticket holders get. Awesome!

At That point, it was 10:30; we got in line at Gate C, where there were only 2 people in line. Gate B, where I had entered before, was closed.

My sister wanted to play catch with me, so once she was done playing a quick card game with my mom, we played catch in the parking lot for 15 minutes.

After that, I pretty much waited until the gates opened.

It was pretty boring. Once it was 10:05 and the security guard said we could go, I rushed through the bag check, got my ticket scanned, and went to see if there was BP. Nope. Not a huge surprise.

I took off my A’s jersey, to reveal my Ryan Cook American League All-Star Game shirt. I stuck my jersey in my bag, pulled out my catcher’s mitt, and headed over to where the Rays were throwing, as there were no fans there.

As soon as started to run down the steps, a security guard threw a ball up towards the 2nd deck that some pitchers had been using to warm up. It bounced off and came down and started trickling through the seats. I couldn’t find it anywhere, and a minute later, the same security guard found it on the field, I guess it had rolled all the way down, and tossed it to me. As soon as I put it in my bag, it trickled out back onto the field. I didn’t realize it at first, because there was a little girl, maybe 4 or 5 crying because she had thought the ball had been tossed to her. The security guard had tossed it pretty high, and I guess she had been right behind me.

The guard, who I have known for a long time now, asked me if I wanted it back, and I said I was going to give it to the girl who was crying. He told me that he thought it was a good idea, and handed it to me.

This was the first ball I had ever given away, so I deiced that I WILL count balls that I give away as ones that I snagged.

I wanted to try to get a ball from one of the 2 guys throwing bullpen sessions, in Jeremy Hellickson, and Wade Davis. The bullpen catcher missed a pitch from Davis, and the ball rolled over to where Sam Fuld and James Shields were throwing. I headed over there, calling out to James, asking for the ball. He said no. I asked if there was any possible way on the face of the planet that he would be able to toss me one baseball. He chuckled and said that he wasn’t allowed to. I said OK, and no problem and headed to where Fernando Rodney was throwing.

James Shields called me back, saying that he had been joking with me. I laughed and said ok, as he tossed me the ball. He then came over and I told him how teams like the Dodgers rarely throw balls up during BP, and how their pitchers specifically are not allowed to give balls away, which sucks, because the Dodgers use commemorative balls. He seemed really surprised at that, at which point he started to get yelled at by some coaches.

He asked me if I would be in Tampa this year, and he seemed somewhat disappointed when I said no. I knew this was the Rays’ only trip to Oakland this year, so I half-jokingly suggested that he collect some commemorative balls for me and give them to me, when the Rays are in Oakland in 2013. He actually liked the idea, and said next time the Rays were in Oakland, or if I was in Tampa, he would hook me up with a few balls.

Pretty Cool!

After that, I got no more balls before the game started. One thing that I noticed while the pitchers were throwing was that one guy was wearing a David Price #14 jersey that looked nothing like David Price. It turns out, it was Josh Lueke, who tossed me balls in Oakland, last September, when the Mariners were in town. He was called up on in the morning, and when he got to the clubhouse in the morning, he found out that he was short a BP jersey. He ended up borrowing a David Price jersey. I found an article on Cut4, which explains it. Had I known who it was, I think I would have gotten a ball.

Shorty after, I got Sam Fuld to sign one of my tickets, followed by James Shields. I came close to a ball a few times, when guys like David Price and Matt More missed throws and they bounced into the crow. They would just get a new ball, or toss the old ball into the stands. Most of the time before the game, I competed with Greg Barasch, a very accomplished New York ballhawk, who snagged 10 balls in this game, and after this game, had snagged 1,287 MLB balls. I didn’t know how much I would run into him throughout the game.

I was curious where our seats were, so I searched the seats a little, and found my sister 20 or so rows back playing on her phone.

Shortly before the Rays left the field, I got Matt Moore to sign my ticket as well, and James Shields talked to me for a moment longer, and told me that he would be waiting in Tampa for me. I promised to get

Once everybody had left the field, I headed to our seats and my mom took this picture of me with the one ball I had kept

Then, my sister got this picture

A few minutes later, I noticed Rays’ broadcaster/reporter Todd Kalas getting ready for the Rays Pre-game show, I believe. He was right in front of the Rays dugout, so I headed over there to see if I could watch a little and get some pictures.

A few minutes later, an usher told us all to leave, because batting practice was over. Uh? There was no BP. But I knew what she meant.

At this point, it was about 12:00. I saw Kurt Suzuki warming up down the left field line, so I threw on my A’s jersey and headed over there. I had to weave a little to avoid ushers, but I ended up where I had been in the last game, right next to the foul pole, where Zuk was playing catch with Chip Hale.

I looked around, and saw this guy to my left.

Yep, the tall guy in the A’s hat. That is Greg Barasch.

A few minutes later, an usher approached me, asking if I had a ticket to this section. I said that my ticket was right behind the dugout and that I was over here just to try to catch a ball, and as soon as they were done, I would head back to my seat. Nope. No can do. I had to head back. But first, I texted my mom to let here know. I saw Greg talking to the usher, who let him stay. I think I will have to start thinking of ways to talk ushers to going wherever I want.

I headed back to my seat where Josh Feinberg, from A’s ticket services stopped by our seats introduced himself, and asked what we thought of the tickets. We thanked him for them and after he asked if we were enjoying ourselves, I mentioned the 2 balls and conversation with Shields.

Soon enough, it was 12:20, which meant all of the pre game stuff. My sister and I stood in the cross aisle, hoping to get a shirt that was tossed into the crowd, and an usher told us to go down right behind the dugout. After we didn’t get anything, he told me that we could sit right behind the dugout in the empty seats, because there were very few people there, at the time, close to only 10,000.

This is where I sat for the first inning or so.

Then I moved down here for most of the game.

My mom got some really good pictures in the game, including this one of Jarrod Parker

And these of B.J. Upton, Kurt Suzuki, and the home plate umpire, Chris Conroy

During the game, I tried for the infield warm-up balls and 3rd-out balls from the Rays, and unfortunately I didn’t get one, and I don’t believe Greg did either. Now I feel very frustrated on a certain level because there were about 5 foul balls tat I probably should have gotten, which, trust me was very frustrating. But, hey, at this point, there is nothing I can do about it.

Greg, at least, got one of the foul balls. 2 of the balls I came close to were ones that landed in my section while I WAS USING THE BATHROOM. I really had to go. It’s not my fault. Ok, from now on, I will not leave the seating bowl during the game.

I also picked up a popcorn helmet, mostly because it was a different design than the green one that I already have. If you know me, you know I love souvenirs like that.

The A’s lost 4-1, and after the final out of the game, I tried to get a ball from the dugout, but nobody could hook me up. Then, I asked Joe Maddon for the lineup card, but he just ignored me. I asked Jeff Keppinger for a souvenir of some sort, and he tossed an open pack of sunflower seeds that spilled over the dugout roof, and some kid got them. Whatever.

Carlos Pena, who had hit a home run and had had an RBI single did an interview

I got a final picture with my one ball on the day, and the popcorn helmet on my head.

Overall, it was a pretty good game!

On our way out, I fooled around with the camera, taking a picture of the near-empty Coliseum.

And my mom and sister up the stairs, on the way to the concourse to head out

And a BART sign

I also took this picture of our BART train pulling into the station

And this sign at the East Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station

BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 2 balls at this game (1 pictured because I gave one away)
• 8 balls in 8 Major League games this season = 1 ball per game.
• 17 balls in 11 baseball games this season = 1.545 balls per game.
• 13 Lifetime Major League baseballs
• 22 total balls
• 3 consecutive games in Oakland with at least 2 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.

7/14/12 at Municipal Stadium

Time for some more baseball! San Jose here we come! This game was at Municipal Stadium, in San Jose, home of the San Jose Giants, the San Francisco Giants California league team. They would be hosting the Visalia Rawhide, who I saw play in this game in Stockton.

Every week this summer, I plan on making a spreadsheet of every Ports, Nuts, SJ Giants, River Cats, A’s, and SF Giants game during each week and planning out which games I would like to go to. This weekend, the Giants, San Jose Giants, and River Cats were in town. Out of those three, the San Jose Giants were the cheapest and closest so I figured that I might as well make the 45 minute drive to San Jose.

In the previous days, I did some research on Municipal Stadium, and I planned for this game. I was excited to find out that the gates opened 1 1/2 hours before the game, not 1 hour, like at most minor league stadiums. In the A-Z guide on their website, under batting practice, it says: “Gates open one and a half hours before game time allowing guests to view infield practice for the San Jose Giants and their opponent. Be sure to arrive as soon as the gates open and catch all the pre-game action. Unfortunately, San Jose Giants batting practice occurs over three hours before the game, well before our gates open.”

Ok. I got a few things out of this. First off, you cannot make it inside the stadium in time to see batting practice. Secondly, if I get there early enough, I can probably catch Visalia’s batting practice. Last, if I got to the stadium really early, I could see all of both batting practices outside. So I figured that since this stadium was new to me, I should get there sometime between 2 and 2:30 for the 3:30 gate opening and the 5:00 start time. It was also “Recycle bag giveaway day” or something like that.

This game was just my dad and I. As much as I love going with my entire family, I love sharing the excitement with them, when it is just the 2 of us, it makes ballhawking a lot easier.

We left our house at 2:00 and got to San Jose and parked around 2:40. On the same lot as the stadium, here is a San Jose Sharks ice rink that had a cool mural on the side.

When we got to the stadium, I saw a small gap in the 2nd outfield wall, the one that prevents fans from watching the game for free. This is what I saw

The cages were up! I was pumped to get in!

From there, we went to the ticket office to buy 2 tickets behind the Rawhide dugout. We got 2 seats row 6 seats 5 and 6, which we were told were aisle seats.

After purchasing our tickets, we walked around the stadium, taking more pictures along the way. We first headed in the direction away from the parking lot. At the end of the lot, there was this schedule poster my dad wanted me to get a picture with.

From there, we headed back towards the parking lot. There was still nobody in line, so we had time to kill before we really needed to get in line. My dad took a picture of the stadium inside, and I noticed something interesting.

It looked to me as if that that was the original front of the stadium, due to the purchase tickets here sign. When we got inside, this was proven, because there was a curb opposite the field concourse.

From here, we continued to the parking lot. I realized that the player’s parking lot was right next to the parking lot.

I wanted to go check back on BP, so we headed back to the gap in the wall, but first, I pointed out that the 2013 All Star Game between the California and Carolina leagues would be at Municipal STadium. And yes, it has already been decided that we will be there.

When we got back to the wall, this is what I saw

The Rawhide were taking BP! Assuming that they were still hitting in about half an hour, I was feeling really good. We watched a little before I decided that since there was a net above the wall, it was kind of pointless to stand behind the outfield fence. My dad suggested that we get in line, and that is exactly what we did. For about 15 minutes, we were the only ones in line.

While we were in line, I saw a sign that listed the gate opening times corresponding to the game times. I looked at the row for a 5:00 start time. It said that Turkey Mike’s BBQ opened at 3:30 and the concourse opened at 4:00. Um… I thought the stadium opened at 3:30. I asked somebody in an orange STAFF jersey that told me that from 3:30-4:00, you could only access the bleachers down the LF line. That made sense.

When the gates opened at 3:30, I took my free reusable bag, figuring I might use it at some point in the day. I headed for the bleachers that they had been talking about, and right when I got there, I heard a loud thunk as a ball hit the bleachers. I ran to the bleachers, and discovered that the ball was under the bleachers, 3 rows back. Time to put the giveaway bag to use.

My 1st ball of the day! Now if you look closely, then you can see that it isn’t a Major League ball. It is a Babe Ruth league ball. Uh… that’s a little odd. A professional Minor League team using a ball from a youth league. Interesting. But it still counts.

Then, I took a minute to look around at the stadium and my surroundings, and there was one thing that disappointed me. Usually, most stadiums have a backstop screen from one end of the dugout to the end of the other dugout, just covering the home plate area. Here, the screen covered the top of both dugouts as well as the backstop. This would make getting 3rd out balls nearly impossible. At least foul balls were still going to be a chance.

About a minute later, another ball was lined, this time a section over. I ran in that direction, but it bounced in one of the top rows of the seats. I didn’t go after it, figuring that it was at an unreachable area in the bleachers. Well I headed over that way anyway and next to the Porta Potties and this is what I came up with.

It had been on the ground next to the toilet on the far left. Cool! This one was marked in sharpie with the Giants SJ logo on back of the ball.

I overheard an usher that had a ball in his hand talking about how he found a ball under the bleachers, and because he isn’t allowed to keep it, he was going to give it to the first person who asked. My dad wanted me to ask for it, but I wanted him to give it to a well-deserving little kid, which I found out later that he did.

After this, I went back to where I had been before, by the patio. Before I knew it, 15 minutes after I had entered the stadium, BP was over. At that point, #21 on the Rawhide came over to pick up somebody’s glove. I turned around, looked at my Visalia roster, and I saw #21 was Jeremy Erben.

I turned around and asked him for the ball. Ball #3. I had 3 balls within my first 20 minutes.

I had a very good feeling about it. But then I remembered about the screen. I was hoping to get a few more balls before the first pitch. I had about 10 or so minutes to kill before the concourse opened, so I wandered around the open concourse a little. Once it got to 4:00, I figured that we would head for our seats, and on the way, we saw the umpires entering the stadium.

Once I got to my seat, I got a picture of me with my first 3 balls.

I have no clue what I am looking at.

After this, My dad got a picture from the very top of the section.

I then decided to get a slushy and sit in my seat a little, because there was no action on the field.
around 4:30, I notice the Giants catcher warming up downy the right field line, so I headed over there. As soon as I got there, I got the catchers, Andrew Susac to sign my ticket. Then, the Giants starting pitcher that day, Shawn Sanford started to stretch. 5 or so minutes later, they started throwing.

I noticed most of the team was out on the field at this point, and I saw Aubrey Huff was still rehabbing from his injury in June. How did he injure himself, you might ask? After the final out of Matt Cain’s perfect game, he tried to jump over the railing and hurt his leg. Good going, Aubrey. One thing I noticed while he was warming up was the color of his pants. The Giants home uniform consists of a white jersey and pants, while the SF Giants home uniform features an off-white scheme. Aubrey was wearing the white 25th anniversary jersey, like everyone else, but with the tan/beige/off-white pants. Uh…

I then heard some Giants players talking about the Ports so I joined in the conversation, talking about the beasts on Stockton who hit home runs and stuff like that.

Before long, Shawn and Andrew headed to the bullpen so they could both fully warm up. My dad did get some good pictures of Shawn Sanford pitching in the bullpen

When they were done, Shawn just pointed at me, and tossed me the ball. #4 on the day!

There were some kids there, who didn’t have gloves on that were surprised that I got a ball. I gave them some tips on how to snag a ball and my dad and I headed back to our seats, in time for the first pitch.

In the top of the 2nd, Yazy Arbello, who I think has the most amazing name ever, fouled a ball off in my direction. It landed 2 rows behind me, and rolled down, landing on my bag, which I always put under my seat. Somebody yelled out “There’s the ball!” but my dad said “No, that’s my son’s ball.” Then everyone started looking for the foul ball. I told my dad that it wasn’t my ball, but now it was and smiled. I stuck it in my bag without saying anything. People were looking for that ball, all game.

So at this point, I had 5 balls and was hungry for more. After this, there were no balls that were hit in my direction. In the 6th inning, I saw somebody warming up in the Giants bullpen, so I headed over there. I asked him for the ball when he was called in to pitch, but he told me to come back at the end of true game, and I would get a ball.

When I got back to my seat, I asked my dad if he was willing to go get me some food. He decided to go to Turkey Mike’s Barbecue, which online had great reviews. He came back with pulled pork sandwiches, which I am willing to put up against any ballpark food as the best food that you can get at a Minor League stadium. It was some of the best pulled pork that I have ever had. Amazing ballpark food.

The Giants mascot, Gigante, spent a lot of time in our section, and he posed a lot and took pictures with kids all game.

In the 8th inning, he played with a little kid sitting behind me and tried to get a picture with him, but the kid didn’t really want a picture.

Ok, so in the bottom of the 9th inning, I headed over to the Giants bullpen, as suggested with hopes of getting my 6th ball. I got there, and there were no balls to be seen in the bullpen, except a wiffle ball under a tarp. While I was there, I talked to the kids from before th game, and it had turned out, they had all snagged a foul ball and toss up. There were only 2 guys sitting on the bullpen benches next tot he right field foul pole, and it looked like neither of them had balls, so I headed back to my seat.

The Giants scored 2 runs in the 9th, but due to Visalia’s 5-run 6th inning, the Rawhide won 8-3. As soon as the final out was recorded, They started setting up for a tennis ball toss, where you throw tennis balls onto the field, trying to get them into hoola hoops on the field. While they were cleaning up, a random Rawhide player came out from under in the dugout and asked if anyone wanted a ball. I asked him for it, and before I knew it, I had 6 balls.

I later realized that this was the player who tossed me the ball.

At this point, I was ready to head out. For me, it was a very good day. Before this game in 2012, I had 7 balls, combined major and minor league. I got 6 balls in this game. Last year, I got 5 balls in the entire season. I got 6 balls in this game. It was a lot of fun!

That’s all for now.

BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 6 balls at this game
• 9 balls in4 Minor League games this season = 2.25 balls per game
• 13 balls in 10 baseball games this season = 1.3 balls per game
• 4 consecutive Minor League games with at least one ball
• 18 total baseballs
• 9 total Minor League baseballs

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.

6/24/12 at Oakland Coliseum

Time for another game! This game would feature the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. Great, you would think, right? Yes and no. If you are a ballhawk, it is miserable. The Coliseum is already bad enough for ballhawking and then you give it a sold out crowd. Yeah. But overall, I was looking forward to it. I had never been to an A’s/Giants game and I figured it would be a fun challenge. Let’s do this.

Originally, I wanted to get to the Coliseum around 9am for the 11am gate opening and 1:05 start time. Well my dad didn’t exactly enjoy getting there an hour early on Thursday and my mom and sister didn’t enjoy a waiting in line for an hour and a half on Wednesday. So my mom proposed that she and I take BART to the Coliseum to get there at the time I wanted. Then he and my sister would show up around noon. That was fine with me.

So my mom and I got to BART around 9:50 and the Coliseum at 10:30.

We got in line at gate C and were the first ones in line. Again. It was awesome.

I didn’t think there’d be batting practice. The game the day before had been at 4:15, so I was overjoyed when I ran into the stadium and saw this

The cages were up and I was excited! I was feeling so good. I figured since there was nobody on the field only the Giants would be hitting. They took the field at 11:30ish and I was excited to say the least.

Wow. BP was boring. Very boring. Only ONE ball was hit to the right field bleachers and that was in the very front corner of the bleachers. I talked with multiple ballhawks, including one that I met on Wednesday. I talked with a Giants fan that makes it out to this game every year. He is the guy in the Orange afro in this picture…

The only toss-up that I saw during batting practice was from Sergio Romo to some lady that had screamed at the top of her lungs. Sigh. It was very frustrating. I put on my catcher’s mitt, with no hope of catching a home run, and focused on toss-ups. I had no luck.

And before I knew it, BP was over, and I was without a single ball. I am starting to wonder if the RF line would be a better for BP than the bleachers.

I went straight to our seats between the Giants bullpen and foul pole to meet up with my family. I stayed there until the game started.

After Matt Cain finished warming up with bullpen catcher Bill Hayes, I asked Bill for the ball. He flat out said no and tossed it to someone to the dugout side of the bullpen. That was the last chance I had for a ball before the game started, because ushers start to check tickets right after batting practice is over, and it is almost impossible to get into another section.

Now for those of you that have ever been to an A’s game on a Sunday, you know that before the first pitch, Stomper will drive around the warning track in the “Smiling Chevron Car,” followed by some girls and a guy that have bags filled with things like bead necklaces and logo baseballs. For this game, I ended up with this

I guess this time, they had necklaces, Bay Bridge Series baseballs, and t-shirts, when I opened it up, this is what I saw..

MLB Fan Cave! I was surprised that they had t-shirts, and I was figuring it would just be a Chevron shirt or something like that. Cool!

A.J. Griffin had been called up from AAA Sacramento to make the start, in place of Brandon McCarthy, who was placed on the DL. This game would be Griffin’s debut. In the last game I went to, I saw Derek Norris make his MLB debut, and he would do the catching in this game. A.J. struck out the first batter of the game on 3 pitches, which was really great to see.

I only came close to two foul balls during the game. The first one was hit right to the other end of my row, but because it was so crowded, even though I tried my hardest to get to it, I was unable to get the ball. The second time came in the bottom of the 3rd inning, when Cliff Pennington fouled a ball in my direction. I had a hard time tracking the ball, but when I realized it was going to go a little over the rail, I reached over to position myself. I heard an usher yell “No!” very loudly, so I backed away as he ran down the steps. Gregor Blanco caught it and came crashing against the wall right in front of me. When I was watching the game over on my TV, you can see me behind the Comcast SportsNet logo.

There were some very obnoxious Giants Fans sitting right in front of us

There was only one other ball in the entire game that I cam relatively close to, I wouldn’t have had any chance of getting it, but it was very controversial. In the bottom of the 6th inning, Seth Smith came up with runners on first and second. He drew the count full and he fouled a ball down the line. It hit the line and rolled into the corner. Gregor Blanco pointed to foul territory, as if to say the ball was foul. And guess what? Todd Tichenor, the first base umpire, called it foul. Josh Reddick, the runner on second had already scored, and the hit would have given the A’s a 3-2 lead. But no. He called the ball foul and the count remained full.

In the replay, you can clearly see chalk fly up, so the ball is fair. But I guess the umpires didn’t see it that way.

They zoomed in on me looking down the line to see Bob Melvin arguing with first base umpire Todd Tichenor

Here, you can see Blanco running after the ball. I circled my mom and I in red.

In this shot, you can see me about to ask Gregor Blanco for the ball

Here, there are two things you can see, and I have labeled them for your convince
1) Nicholas Badders (Meeeee!)
2) The ball bouncing off of the line and chalk flying up

So I asked Gregor Blanco for the ball, and he said “Yeah, sure.” I was relieved not to get shut out for the third game in a row! Right when he went to toss it to me, I heard a loud “NO!” from the Giants bullpen, so he rolled the ball to Sergio Romo. Great. I had a feeling that they were worried that there was paint that you could see on the ball, and they didn’t want me to have it.

A.J. Griffin did allow 2 runs in the first on a home run by Buster Posey, but at the end of the inning, when he came in the dugout, he said he wasn’t going to allow any more runs for the rest of the game. Fro the next 5 innings, he matched Matt Cain pitch for pitch. Bob Melvin put in Sean Doolittle to pitch after A.J. walked Buster Posey to open up the 7th.

Doolittle, a former first baseman, pitched a solid 7th and got the first two out of the 8th.

Jim Miller got the last out of the 8th and pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 9th.

I forget when in the game it was, but Jeremy Affeldt came right in front of my seat and on his way back to the bullpen, I gave him a fist bump. It was pretty cool.

Going into the bottom of the 9th, Yoenis Cespedes, Seth Smith, and Brandon Inge were due up. Cespedes singled to left and Jonny Gomes came on to pinch run for him.

Seth Smith struck out swinging and Brandon Inge singled and there were runners on first and second with Brandon Moss, one of the A’s hottest hitters at the plate. He struck out.

Now due up was rookie Derek Norris. Keep in mind that he was without an extra-base hit, home run, walk-off hit, or walk-off home run in his career.

He brought the count full. There were runners on first

And second.

With 2 outs, the runners would be going. And the pitch…

A’s Win!

Here are some pictures from the home run and celebration

The Swing…

Watching the ball…

Jonny Gomes jumping on his way to the plate…

Players running in from the dugout…

Derek Norris running home…

Look how high Derek Norris is jumping…

Derek is somewhere in there…

They did end up ripping his shirt off…

This is his post-game interview with Comcast SportsNet California. I felt bad for him because he got a shaving cream pie to the face along with tubs of Gatorade and water dumped on him. I think he may have had contacts on too

Josh Reddick came to his rescue with some towels

That he promptly used

And his interview with MLB Network

After all of the celebration had died down, I began to wander the stadium for any loose balls while the kids run the bases thing was set up

So if you guys don’t already know, on Monday, July 2nd, Zack Hample is going to be doing something pretty cool. He is going to attempt to set a world record. And it has nothing to do with video games. He is going to attempt to catch a baseball dropped from a helicopter 1000 feet in the air. This is the entry he wrote on his blog about it. This is an entry on his blog about practicing for it. Ballpark Digest wrote an article about what Zack is doing. And finally, the Lowell Spinners wrote an article about it, because their ballpark is where the whole event is taking place.

This brings me to the fact that I will be off next week because I will be at Boy Scout camp. I get back July 7th, and am hoping to go to the A’s game July 8th. I guess we will have to wait and see because I have no games written in stone for the month of July.

BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 0 balls at this game
• 4 balls in 6 Major League games this season = 0.667 ball per game.
• 7 balls in 9 baseball games this season = 0.778 ball per game.
• 9 Lifetime Major League baseballs
• 12 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.

6/21/12 at the Oakland Coliseum

For this game, my friend Ryan would be joining my dad and I. You might remember Ryan from this game. Or this game. I picked Ryan up from his house around 9:20 and from there, we headed to the Coliseum.

Today was a throwback Thursday, so every fan got a fee bag of peanuts and a scorecard. The A’s are amazing! (Sarcasm maybe?) We got to the Coliseum at got in line at gate C. My dad stayed in line while Ryan and I walked over to gate D to see how long the line was there. There was nobody there! We got in line and waited for my dad.

The gates opened at 11:05 and Ryan and I ran for the Dodgers bullpen, where the some players were warming up. I changed into my Dodgers gear and headed down. I had many interesting experiences there. I was told by 4 Dodgers pitchers that they are not allowed to give out balls from the bullpen, and all 4 of them tossed someone else a ball within 5 minutes of me asking.

It started with Aaron Harang, who was signing autographs. I got him to sign my ticket and after, I asked him if he would be able to toss me one of the cool commemorative balls. He said he would love to, but the bullpen balls have to stay in the bullpen. I got to talking to him about commemorative balls while everyone was screaming for his autograph.

Then he eventually walked away and said he would try to get one from the dugout from me. Then Tony Gwynn Jr. came over and I asked him for a Dodgers 50th anniversary ball, which I saw under the bullpen roof. I figured that since he was a position player, he wouldn’t know. But he said he wasn’t allowed to “hand them out.” I didn’t even get his autograph.

Then Chris Capuano came along and I asked him for a ball and with a laugh said “What is thrown in the bullpen stays in the bullpen.” So I asked him for the softball in his hand. I guess not.

My last hope was their catching coach Steve Yeager. He had the same answer as everyone else. Great.

With almost no chance of getting a commemorative ball, we headed over to our seats behind the A’s bullpen. While we had been gone, my dad had taken some great pictures of A’s players warming up.

Jerry Blevins:

Ryan Cook:

Brian Fuentes:

And when we got back, some more great pictures

Derek Norris:

Travis Blackley:

I was unable to get a ball from any player warming up, so I settled in my seat to see Derek Norris making his MLB debut. He joins Andrew Carigan, Bret Anderson, and Aaron Cunningham as the only players I have seen make their MLB debut in person.

Travis Blackley was dealing in this game, only allowing one run and three hits over eight innings- arguably the best start of his Major League career.

The A’s scored their first run when Jonny Gomes scored on a sac fly from Brandon Inge in the 2nd inning. The Dodgers scored their lone run in the 5th on a single from Juan Rivera. In the 6th inning, I went and got an ice cream helmet, which I finished in ten minutes.

We had a great view of Ryan Cook warming up in the 8th inning to go in the game in the 9th

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Coco Crisp walked and advanced to second on a passed ball. Jemile Weeks went to bunt Coco to third, but got to first on a miscommunication by Juan Uribe and Josh Lindblom.

Kurt Suzuki and Casey Chavez watched on from the bullpen

Now there were runners on first

And third

And Yoenis Cespedes came to the plate

He was still without a walk off hit in his career and before the start of his at bat, I predicted a walk-off home run down the LF line. Hmmmm…

Boom!

Had I been standing in the cross aisle and sprinted to my left on the crack of the bat, I would have had it. Whatever. Celebration! I was happy!

I saw a ball in the bullpen and I was trying to find someone to toss it to me, but the usher lady kicked us out. I was shutout.

As I walked up the steps, I turned around to see the security guard on the field pick up the ball and toss it into the seats. I raced down to grab the ball, but someone grabbed it before me. Dangit! The A’s still won!

Keep scrolling for pictures of Cespedes’ Walk-off celebration
BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 0 balls at this game
• 4 balls in 5 Major League games this season = 0.8 ball per game.
• 7 balls in 8 baseball games this season = 0.875 ball per game.
• 9 Lifetime Major League baseballs
• 12 total balls

Home Run Trot:

Celebration at home plate:

On way to Dugout:

My next game is tomorrow (Sunday) at the Coliseum against the Giants… wish me luck!

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.

6/20/12 at the Oakland Coliseum

I had been looking forward to this game for a long time. It was an interleague game, Root Beer (Or Orange Crush) Float Day and the Dodgers were using commemorative balls. And because of root beer float day, the gates would open 2 hours early, instead of the usual weekday 1 1/2 hours. early. My plan was to leave for the BART Station around 1 and get to the Coliseum sometime between 1:30 and 2pm. I would ask around to find the best gate to enter and head to that gate.

I had tweeted the A’s earlier and they recommended LL or MM. After entering, I would head straight to the Eastside Club to get my Orange Crush Float in a autographed Cliff Pennington mug and head out to the bleachers and ballhawk.

Well the only one problem was that my sister had nature camp that lasted until 4. The game started at 7. The gates opened at 5. I wanted to get there between 1:30 and 2. Problem achieved. My parents picked her up around 2, because that was all that was the only time the camp would let us get her. They came home, my sister put on her A’s gear and we headed out to BART. This game was only going to be me, my mom, and sister, so my dad just dropped us off at the BART station and we were off.

The ride on BART lasted half an hour, like it always does. I killed some time my studying up on the Dodgers roster.

We got to the Coliseum ar 3:30 and from there, we got in line at gate LL.

I walked around the stadium a few times and noticed some interesting things. As I walked past C and D gates, the 2 that are open for entrance every game had moveable fences around them. But nobody was in line. NOBODY at all!

I also 2 the CBS 5 news trucks by Oracle Arena.

When I got back to line, I still had time to kill before 5:05. I saw the, loading the root beer inside.

And the set up in process.

I also ate lunch and talked with some lady that was nice. When it was time to go in, I had my bag checked and ticket scanned, and I ran to the table straight ahead, where the special mugs could be purchased. My sister and I both purchased a Cliff Pennington autographed mug, and it was actually hand-autographed, not just stamped or printed on.

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(That picture along with the next 3 were taken on my phone at home)

As I entered the East Side club, I got my bearings and considered my options. Should I get my float from somebody right away and risk a great opportunity, or go farther and see what else there was? I decided to go all the way to the end, and on a certain level, it payed off. There was a table that said “Everything $5” I looked closer and there were past giveaways there. All ones that I had wanted. I ended up getting a Justin Duchscherer bobblehead…
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a Ryan Sweeney Jersey…
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and an Athletics yoga mat…
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Pretty legit. I decided to get a float from Stomper, the A’s mascot, and Splash, the Ports mascot.

Yes, I would have rathered gotten a float served from the Warrior Girls, Raiderettes, Mrs. McCarthy (You may recognize her from ESPN) or Jonny Gomes, but I decided to get my float quick and get to ballhawking. Right when I got to the RF bleachers, the A’s were just ending BP… I waited a few minutes, and right after my mom and sister arrived, the Dodgers started hitting.

I have no words to describe the frustrations. There was a ball hit a little ways over my head, and as I chased to get it, it bounced around and I couldn’t get to it in time. It was a commemorative ball. Great. And of course, on the next pitch, before I could get back to the front, a ball was hit right where I had been standing. And the guy tried to barehand it and it landed on the out-of-town scoreboard. Commemorative ball. Great. There were many other stories like this, including one where some guy pushed me out of the way to get a ball, and he didn’t even catch it. And it was commemorative too… WHAT THE HECK??? There was a ball that rolled up onto the warning track and Todd Coffey went to go get it. I yelled out “Hey Todd! Is there any chance that you could please throw me that ball?” That prompted everyone to start yelling things like “Todd!” “Coffey” “T-Cod!” “Ball!” and “Throw it here!” He then asked “Who said please?” Everyone in the section pointed to me, and I told him that I had, but some guy yelled out “I DID!” and Todd threw it to him. Ugh! It was commemorative too! He was the only Dodger who threw a ball up during ALL OF BP! They were being very, very stingy about balls. Just like in San Diego. At 6:20, when batting practice was over, I had 0 balls. Yay!

I headed out of the bleachers and down to the Dodgers dugout to try and get a ball. Boy was it crowded! Wow! I put on my Dodgers hat and took off my Jersey and tried my luck, but within a few minutes, the usher kicked us all out. Cool. I then headed to the Dodgers bullpen, where I was for 20 minutes before the ushers started checking tickets. I stayed off to the side, until an usher headed my way, where I went to the section behind the cross aisle, where tickets were not being checked. I was hoping to get a ball from a player warming up, but I couldn’t get close enough… stupid ushers…

I changed back into my A’s gear and headed for my seat, where I told my sister of my frustrations. My only hope at this point was a Home Run ball, or a 3rd out toss up. In the top of the 8th, Josh Reddick missed a throw from Coco Crisp while warming up, so he grabbed the ball, I called out to him; he pointed to me, and threw the ball. Some old guy reached in front of me at the *very* last minute and got the ball. This was just not my night. But it would get worse. Josh Reddick caught the 3rd out of the inning, and he once against pointed to me. But this time, he chucked it 10 feet above my head. I sprinted back in hopes of getting it on a rebound, but right has I went to grab it, a 300 pound man pushed me/tackled me, and ended up with the ball. This was horrible!

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Brandon Moss stepped up to the plate and CRUSHED the ball to the RF bleachers, a section to my left. But because the bleachers were so packed and are hard to navigate, I wasn’t able to get there in time, and the ball bobbled around a little bit, before somebody grabbed it.

That was the closest I came again, and as a result, I got shut out again. Wonderful.

I got a great picture with my awesome sister.

And a picture with all of my loot, I guess you could say.

In clockwise order from the top, you have my french fry helmet, my Root Beer float mug, my bobblehead, my Jersey, and yoga mat.

Keep scrolling after the stats for a few more pictures…
BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 0 balls at this game
• 4 balls in 4 Major League games this season = 1 ball per game.
• 7 balls in 7 baseball games this season = 1 ball per game.
• 9 Lifetime Major League baseballs
• 12 total balls

This is what it looks like from the BART train approaching the Coliseum

I took this picture of the sign that is Oakland’s equivalent of the Yankee Stadium subway sign thing

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.

5/18/12 at John Thurman Field

This game was strung together at the last minute. After I got home from school around 3, I called my dad, asked him if we could go to a baseball game. The A’s game in San Fransisco was out of the question, so we agreed to go to Modesto to see the Ports play the Nuts.

My dad got home around 5 and we left around 5:20 and got to Modesto at 6:30. After buying $12 tickets next to the Ports dugout, we headed inside. First, we headed to our seats, which were amazing! After the usher checked our tickets, she told us that we had waitress service!

After looking over the menu for a brief moment, I went over to the dugout, where I saw a ball lying on the ground.

Chad Oberacker walked in the dugout, I called him over, and asked him for the ball. He looked puzzled, but he reached down and tossed it to me! Notice that it says Official Minor League Baseball, not Official Ball California League, like the ball at my last Ports game.

Once getting the ball, I handed it to my dad to hold onto and went over to where most of the Ports players were warming up.

There was some other guy there, maybe a year older than me with 3 game-used bats to his side. He was also was holding a lineup card from the previous game and it was signed by at least 30 different players.

He was chatting up all the players and added a few more signatures to his lineup card. As the players finished playing catch, I asked multiple players for a ball, including Max Stassi, Miles Head, and A.J. Kirby-Jones. Despite calling their first names and shouting, none of them tossed a ball to me. As they were leaving, the kid next to me said “It helps if you call out their first names. They are more likely to respond.”

What a concept!

I promptly headed back to the dugout and tried my luck a little more there before the first pitch.

In the bottom of the 1st, I ordered a slice of cheese pizza and a fruit cup, which showed up a little later. The food was ok, but the whole experience was phenomenal! I didn’t focus on really getting balls, I just enjoyed the game.

The Nuts scored 6 runs in the bottom off the 1st off of A.J. Cole, who the A’s received in the Gio Gonzalez trade and I started to understand why the Ports had only won 2 games in May. (And lost 16 in a row)

Now look at his left eye in that picture. Do you see a pupil? I don’t. And that isn’t just the lighting. He really does pitch like that. See?

Miles Head was the one that tossed me my 1st ever Minor League ball at this game.. He did very well on the night, with a double and a triple.

Chad Oberacker didn’t do very well in this game

Sometime halfway through the game, I wandered around the concourse and found a shaved ice stand that sold mammoth shaved ice. (Yes, I do know how goofy I look in this picture.)

In the 7th inning, my dad and I went to sit on the other side of the dugout, which would give me a better chance for third out balls.

I didn’t get any, but i did get a picture of this sign warning fans of balls and bats.

While sitting here, I looked into the dugout and saw the lineup card in the Ports dugout.

My plan was to go over to that end of the dugout for the 9th inning, and as soon as the final out was recorded, ask for it. Little did I know that there would be competition. On my right is the kid that I had been talking about earlier. On my left is some girl that pushed past me to get to the dugout. It wasn’t a big deal; she got a ball, so it was all good.

But when I got to the dugout, I asked A.J. Kirby-Jones for it, and he said he wasn’t allowed to. Then I asked Craig Lefferts, the Ports Pitching coach, and Webster Garrison, the Manager, both who said the same thing as A.J. Once everyone had cleared the dugout, I asked a clubhouse manager, Vic Zapien, who was cleaning up the dugout, for the line-up card. He said yes, then took it off and right before he handed it to me, said he remembered he had promised it to someone else. Oh well. Then he handed a ball to that girl I talked about earlier.

My dad and I were headed out to go look for any home runs that hadn’t been found, when all the lights turned off and a fireworks show started. We stayed for that and headed out. Then, he wanted to head onto some soccer field, where the fireworks had been launched. He convinced me to, but the city fire chief started yelling at us and telling us that home runs were never hit there, although we knew that 2 or 3 had been. Oh well.

Overall, I got a cool ball, waitress service, fireworks, and a huge shaved ice. Hard to complain about that!

BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 1 ball at this game
• 2 balls in 2 Minor League games this season = 1 ball per game
• 6 ball in 5 baseball games this season =1.2 balls per game
• 2 consecutive Ports games with at least one ball
• 4 consecutive baseball games with at least one ball
• 11 total baseballs
• 2 total Minor League baseballs

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

4/22/12 at the Oakland Coliseum

Ok… I have no clue what its name is. MLB.com says The Coliseum, the A’s are contractly obligated to call it the O.co Coliseum on broadcasts and real A’s fans call it the Oakland Coliseum. Unless it officially changes, I will be calling it the Oakland Coliseum.

So today was a special day. Not only was today Earth Day, but it was also Little League Day. My school district was also doing a fundraiser where you would buy tickets through the schools and money goes back to support the athletic programs in the district. Its a great cause.

So everyone in the district sits together and my seat was section 126, row 35, seat 2. I was planning  on getting tickets for other games. I will get to that later.

We left Livermore at about 9:45 and arrived at the Coliseum around 10:15. We got out and went to the Box Office to buy tickets for May 11th against the Tigers, June 20th against the Dodgers, August 5th against the Blue Jays, and September 2nd against the Red Sox. After that, we went to the Livermore tailgate and I got a little food and played catch with my sister then headed into the Coliseum around 11:10.

I headed over to the Indians bullpen because Ubaldo Jimenez and soe other pitchers were playing catch. I asked Ubaldo for a ball and he said when he as done, he would. Then, the Little League parade started and the players were told not to throw balls into the crowd. So much for that ball.

After that, I walked around the stadium for a half hour or so looking for loose balls. I then headed over to the seat, which I purchased a ticket for right before the game. It was in section 127 (between the bullpen and tarp), first row aisle seat.

After this, my dad and I walked up to the bleachers to get a picture. We got a picture of me from the seat that wer calculated to be the farthest from home plate. The Plaza Reserved seats are actually farther, but you can’t access them from the other seats at the Coliseum.

The parade ended around 12:30 and Tyson Ross started to warm up, when he finished, he tossed me the ball!

Shorty after this, the A’s took the field and Braden Sweeney, who I have known for a long time, and is a Junior at Granada High School in Livermore sung the national anthem. He did a FANTASTIC JOB!

Tyson Ross pitched a great game for the A’s, as he got the win

On his birthday!

And for the record, it was INCREDIBLE to see Yoenis Cespedes play in person.

The game was pretty calm for the most part. In the bottom of the 2nd, a foul ball was hit toward the bullpen and the ball boy scooped it up and gave it to the lady behind me. Then, in the bottom of the 4th, Kurt Suzuki came up and hit a the ball off the tarp and it rolled right to me.

I leaned over the railing and grabbed it! My first ever game ball and foul ball, as well as #2 on the day! Here I am right after I caught the ball

After that, the game was very calm. No more foul balls came very near me, but somebody a few rows in front of my parents caught a ball. My parents and sister were sitting with other people from Livermore a section behind me and to my right.

Throughout the game, Jordan Norberto was throwing Starbursts and bubble gum into the crowd. He also gave the lady who got the foul ball a pack of sunflower seeds. He is a great guy.

As for the rest off the game, I didn’t focus on balls, so that some little kids could get them.

After the game, I asked Rick Rodríguez, who signed my ticket before the game for a ball. He obliged and gave me ball #3 on the day.

I headed outside and got a picture with my snags outside the Coliseum. It was a very good day!

BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 3 balls in 2 Major League games this season = 1.5 ball per game.
• 4 ball in 3 baseball games this season = 1.33 balls per game.
• 1 Lifetime Game Ball
• 1 Lifetime Foul Ball
• 3 balls at this game
• 8 Lifetime Major League baseballs
• 9 Lifetime baseballs

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.