Category: helmet

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.