Category: Jeff Francoeur

5/18/13 at the Oakland Coliseum- BallhawkFest: Bay Area: 2013!

Today was going to be a long, fun filled day!

Do you remember back in March when I mentioned BallhawkFest: West Coast? Well shortly after, it was approved by Alan Schuster, the Admin at MyGameBalls.com, and it was all set to go, on May 18th in Oakland, for the A’s to take on the Royals.

There was A LOT of planning involved on my part, finalizing details and other such things…

ANYWAY… My family left for Zachary’s Pizza in Oakland around noon, getting there around 12:40. Spencer Sanborn, Dave Edlund, and Kelly Byrnes and his wife Leah were already there.

We were soon seated and shortly after, Rick Gold showed up. Today was looking to be a good day!

We all finished up around 2:20, where we grabbed a quick group picture before heading out.

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Starting with me going clockwise: Me, Dave Edlund, My Mom (Anne), My Sister (Pascale), Leah Byrnes, Kelly Byrnes, Spencer Sanborn, and Rick Gold.

From there, we parted ways and headed off to the Coliseum. I was the first one there and arrived around 2:40, where it was near empty, but PERFECT weather. I was a little excited!

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This was the scene when I got to Gate MM. As you can see, only the flags were laid out and there was nobody else there!

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After walking around the stadium once, I headed out to the parking lot to meet up with Kelly Byrnes. He and I are both participating in the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt this season, with one of the items on the checklist being “You swinging a bat at the BallhawkFest softball game.” Both of us were disappointed because nobody else wanted to play, so we decided to play a HR Derby-Style Wiffle Ball game in the EMPTY parking lot.

I was first up and the first to pitches I hit were both at one of the few cars in the parking lot…

I kept pulling the ball!!

We shifted our angle, and that’s where the fun began!

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I would say my farthest hit went 200 feet maybe. Then, it was his turn to bat.

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I felt bad because my pitches were not in the strike zone much.

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But when they were, he got ahold of them!

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Based solely on most hits, I won. If I had given him enough good pitches, he would have won in a landslide!

Once we finished up, he was very kind in giving me one of his blog’s shirts, we chatted for a bit, then parted ways.

I headed up back to Gate MM, where I saw Dave Edlund and his friend “Splash Hit” Steve Garrison in line at Gate LL, so I walked over there to talk with him.

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Soon after, Leiming Tang, or Tang, as he is better known, showed up!

We talked for 20 minutes or so, before I headed to get back in line at MM.

Dave and Steve tossed and bounced a ball around for a bit.

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They also played a bit of catch.

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But I was in line! Kelly and Leah joined my dad and I in line, where we were soon joined by Will, Ross, Santiago, and a few others.

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10 minutes before the gates opened, Ben and Vanessa showed up and Ben had an AMAZING hat for Will.

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You know how the Brewers had the Design the YOU-niform contest

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Around 4pm, I was all ready to go!
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BUT THEY WOUDNT LET US IN because it wasn’t 4:05…

When I did finally run inside, Seth Smith was hitting in the cages.

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So was Nate Freiman

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Dave headed to left field. He’s in the blue.

To his right is Ryan Dalton, one of the ballhawks that joined us for BallhawkFest!

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To his right is Rick Gold!

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Rick Gold, as I am sure most of you know, ballhawked at the Coliseum in the 1990’s. He actually competed with Ryan’s dad, who was also a ballhawk for balls during that time!

It’s a small world, huh?

I started out the day near my seat in Right Field, where two ball boys were patrolling the area, tossing back everything to the infield.
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Within 10 minutes of no baseballs, the Royals came onto the field.

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Then, a ball was hit off the wall, landing in the grass.

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Jerry Blevins walked off, picked it up, and tossed it to a random guy a few feet away from me.

The ball boys were throwing EVERYTHING back to the infield.

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Kelly had headed over to one of my usual spots, over down the RF line.

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My dad got a lot of cool pictures during BP.

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Once their stretching had concluded, the Royals players began to play catch and warm up.
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One of the players out there was Mr. Bacon Friday himself, Jeff Francouer!

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Around 15 minutes into BP, a ball was hit off the wall right above where my dad was standing. A player walked over, tossed it up, and…

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My dad snagged his 2nd lifetime ball!

I have to give major props to Dave and Steve for this game. They rarely go to games INSIDE the stadium, and both of them rarely go to the Oakland Colisuem, so as Spencer said, it’s like “They are fish out of water.”

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Rick had a successful BP himself.

IMG_4521A few minutes after my dad got his ball, a player on the A’s hit a ball off the wall that A.J. Griffin fielded, then tossed up to me.

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Once I got this ball, I headed over to the RF line, near where Kelly was.

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Shortly after I got over there, his wife Leah hot a ball tossed up to her. It was her first lifetime ball!

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She ended up giving it away to a kid nearby her.

I didn’t see it, but about halfway though batting practice, if I am not mistaken, a ball was hit Dave’s way. In the following picture, you can see the ball in his hands.

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My dad got a lot of great pictures from the bleachers, despite being crowded in.

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The pitchers did a lot of running durin BP.

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BP was pretty quiet in regards to hit balls, so I had a lot of time to stand around.

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It AMAZED me how many toss-ups there were. JC Gutierrez tossed up at least 10 balls to the RF Bleachers.

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Why was I not there? The area in which he was tossing them up was packed. Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza also had their fair share of toss-ups.

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Can you spot the ball that Luis Mendoza is tossing up? Let me know in the comments!
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Royals coaches were getting in on the act.

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Bruce Chen tossed more balls into the stands…IMG_4894

Some time after that, Jeff Francouer lined a ball foul that if I remember correctly either was bobbled by some fans or hit a seat.

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Long story short, Kelly came up with it!
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Doy you see the kid in the black A’s hat and grey shirt, to the left of Kelly? Well, when I headed over to the RF foul pole, where  a ball had just been hit, the boys called out to the trainer, asking for a ball. He didn’t have one, telling them all he had was water. So, that boy and his friend asked for a bottle of water!

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Remember that kid and his friend, ok?

Around 5:50, Jeff Francouer hit a sharp ground ball just foul. It ended up landing here.

20130522-235940.jpgBruce Chen went over to pick it up, in the process accidentally kicking it towards the RF corner, as you can see it is in a different location in the next photo.

I called out to him.

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And he flipped it up!

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Can you spot the ball? Let me know in the comments!

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It’s easier to see in this photo.

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Since my dad and I usually don’t touch base much during Batting Practice, I thought it was cool that he got a series of photos like this.IMG_4720

Dave was easy to spot in LF, wearing his royal blue BallhawkFest shirt among a sea of green and gold.

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Shortly after I got that ball, once Chen had gotten back to his spot in the outfield, a ball was hit to him. The other of those two boys I mentioned earlier, asked if he could play catch with him.

STORY TIME!!! I had seen this video filmed by ballhawk Bobby Crosby, who films videos of himself snagging balls on the YouTube channel DodgerFilms. The video is of Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu playing catch with a young fan during Dodgers BP, and since it was posted on May 13th, has over 2 Millions Views! 3 days later, the same boy was back at Dodger BP again and AGAIN played catch with Hyun-Jin Ryu. That is really where it started. Zack Hample has done it not one, two, or three, but four times on video. Mateo Fischer has played catch with Derek Lowe. The day after the first video of Hyrun-Jin Ryu came out, there was a video of Gio Gonzalez doing them same thing.

As soon as I saw this taking place, I pulled out my cell phone and recorded this video:

My dad took notice and also got a short video as well. I edited his video and my video together to make this:

Hands down, that was one of the highlights of the day for me!

As soon as I finished recording the video on my phone, I immediately went to upload it to YouTube. It finished around 7pm, and I then tweeted it to Alex Espinosa.

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He is the MLB.com Cut4 Real Time Correspondant for Oakland, and I’m sure most of you remember him from past entries.

Later that night, I found my video on Cut4, in this article:

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Then, I saw this tweet from the MLB Fan Cave:

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I replied to the Tweet, then they replied to my tweet!Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 1.28.28 AM

There were multiple blog posts written about it at the MLB Fan Cave website. The MLB Fan Cave posted a quick entry with my video, Mateo’s video, the Hyun-Jin Ryu video, and the Gio Gonzalez video.Then, Cave Dweller April Whitzman did a post herself.

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On Monday, I walked into Mr. Hahn’s class and told him about the experience and video. He then told me he had read an article on Yahoo over the weekend about players playing catch with kids during BP. On Monday May 20th, it was the top headline at Yahoo sports! He showed me the article and lone behold…

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Wow! I did not expect all of this attention at all!

Here is a picture my dad snapped of him lying on the outfield grass

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I would say that in total, at least 30 balls were tossed up, if not closer to 40, mostly due to these two guys.

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Once BP came to a close, I had finished with two balls. All of the ballhawks met up in the concourse behind the bleachers for a group photo.

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Top Row: Spencer Sanborn (3 Balls), Ryan Dalton (3 Balls), Kelly Byrnes (2 Balls), Rick Gold (4 Balls)

Bottom Row: “McCovey Cove” Dave Edlund (1 Ball), Nick Badders (2 Balls + My Dad’s 1 Ball), “Splash Hit” Steve Garrison (1 Ball)

Not Pictured: Dan Badders (1 Ball held by Nick Badders), Leah Byrnes (2 Balls- Gave Both Away), Leiming Tang (3 Balls)

So, between the 9 of us, 22 balls were snagged! Even though that is only an average of 2.44 balls per person, it is still crazy for me to see that it all came together and was successful!

After we got that group picture, I also got a picture with Rick, who has snagged the most lifetime balls at the Oakland Coliseum. This picture gave me 2 points in the MyGameBalls Photo Scavenger Hunt.
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Kelly was in the picture, as he is also competing in the contest!

Between our two families, 5 balls had been snagged, so we both wanted to get a picture for the scavenger hunt. For 6 points… “You and another myGameBalls.com member standing in an empty row of seats in which each cupholder contains a baseball.”

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Mission accomplished!

We then parted our separate ways for a little while. My dad and I headed back to our seats.

After a little while with no action, Ervin Santana, the Royals starting pitcher for the day came out to warm up.

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I can’t identify the player stretching in this photo.
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The grounds crew watered the infield dirt.

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Then, I noticed this guy!
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Omar Gonzlez wore his graduation robe, as he has just finished his undergrad studies in college! Why don’t you all, as the readers of 7000 Coliseum Way, go over and give him some love on Twitter. Sound good? Cool!

Back to the warming up?

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It was “Star Trek Night,” so the A’s had all of these gimmicks going on, including Stomper’s “outfit.”

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This was the only A’s logo shown on the scoreboard that day…

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Yep!

Jeff Francoeur WAS getting the start in Right Field today!

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“Tommy Gun” Milone was on the mound for the A’s in this game, my dad got a few pictures of him in the bullpen before the game got underway.
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Ervin Santana warmed up in the Royals bullpen.

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The ceremonial first pitch was thrown!

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The national anthem was played!

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The people in the bullpen finished up their work.

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The meeting at home plate took place.

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And we were all ready to go!

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Chris Young was in Right Field for the A’s.

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Eric Sogard was in his usual second base position.

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It wasn’t too hard to spot Dave and Steve in LF. Can you?

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Coco Crisp lead off in the bottom of the 1st for Oakland.

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Yoenis Cespedes lined out to RF to end the inning.

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Tommy Milone took the mound in the second, down 1-0, after giving up a first inning run.

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I thought this was a randomly cool picture.

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Along with this one…

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And this one…

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Lorenzo Cain was called out on strikes to end the second inning.

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However, the 2nd inning didn’t come without a cost. *38* pitches in the 2nd inning for Tomaso, with 26 pitches in the top of the first inning, prompting Jesse Chavez to start to get hot.

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Early into the game, the A’s will show the Pepsi Sports highlight during an inning break. It’s always MLB Action or something random.

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Nobody ever wants to see MLB Action.

Like I mentioned earlier, Jeff Francoeur was in RF for KC.

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The ball boy down the RF line tossed a lot of foul balls into the stands.

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John Jaso was the 2nd out of the 2nd inning, striking out.

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Milone was back out for the 3rd inning, this time, with 12 pitches.
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My dad enjoyed using the extension on his monopod to get photos like this.

IMG_6245In the top of the 4th inning, Frenchy struck out swinging for the 2nd out.
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This day was Social Media night, which my mom and sister particpated in. They each bought a ticket to the “Tweetup,” where they also got a special ticket in a section with all of the other tweeters. I used the zoom on my dad’s camera to find them quickly.

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In the bottom of the 4th, Josh Donaldson took a mighty hack, but…

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Popped out to end the inning, with the score still at 1-0 Royals.

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Over the course of the day, we got lots of pictures of Section 149. I love Tony’s pose here.
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After his first few wild inning, Tommy Milone settled down A LOT!

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Chris Young was starting to get the hang of keeping track of outs with the RF Crew. He’s not 100% there yet, though.

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Alcides Escobar at the plate…

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Brandon Moss was at his usual first base spot in this game.

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I thought this was another really cool photo. (I took it! ;-))

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4 of the guys on my school’s Varsity baseball team: Ryan Flayler, Jordan Thrailkill, Justin Cash, and Dan Whitney, told me that they were going to be at this game, sitting fright behind the dugout. Guess who I found using my dad’s extreme zoom?

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In the 6th inning, Jed Lowrie hit a sac fly with no outs to bring in the game tying run.

WE LOVE YOU OAKLAND, WE DO! WE LOVE YOU OAKLAND, WE DO! WE LOVE YOU OAKLAND, OAKLAND WE LOVE YOU!

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Then, Brandon Moss tripled in Coco Crisp to put the A’s ahead 2-1.

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High fives all around!IMG_6549

It was around this time that I attempted to create my own panoramic shot. I took 4 pictures, Photoshopped them together, and BAM!

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In the 8th inning, my dad and mom headed up to where she and my sister had been sitting. Pascale stayed with me in RF, my dad took the camera and loved getting pictures from a different angle.

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This was their view.

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And no, they did not have any foul balls come close.

In the top of the 8th, Sean Doolittle came in to pitch.
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He pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning.IMG_6674

Coco Crisp was called out on strikes to lead off the A’s half of the 8th inning.

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Jed Lowrie flied out to center field.

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Like I mentioned earlier, my sister and I were sitting in RF. Kelly is to her right, to his right is his wife Leah.

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I thought it was awesome to see RF from this angle.

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Guess who pitched the 9th inning for the A’s? It was 2-1. They were winning…

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(In case you are wondering, yes, my parents came back to the bleachers at the start of the 9th, to join Pascale and I)
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Despite a leadoff walk, Balfour got none other than Jeff Francoeur to fly out…
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To end the game!

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And it was the A’s 2nd consecutive 2-1 win!

Immediately after the final out, these people came onto the field…

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And my family got in line along with Kelly and Leah to get onto the field to watch the fireworks.

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It was PACKED!!

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My sister and I were both happy to be there.

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The fireworks were spectacular, as always.

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My dad and I got a picture with our BP balls.

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I got one last picture. I’m sure you can notice how tired I am.

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BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 10th Game this Year
  • 2 Balls at this Game
  • 10 balls in 8 MLB games this season = 1.25 Ball Per Game
  • 25 Balls in 10 Games this season = 2.5 Balls Per Game
  • 38 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
  • 68 Total Balls

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Nick Badders is a unofficial reporter for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @nickbatters or his blog @7000ColiseumWay. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook or follow him @nickbatters or his blog @7000ColiseumWay on Instagram. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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5/17/13 at the Oakland Coliseum- BACON FRIDAY!

This was a much different day than I’ve had in the past few years ballhawking-wise. It would be the first game since I went to Nationals Park in 2011 that I didn’t try to ballhawk at!

NICK!!!! HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND????

Yes.

No, but in all seriousness, I knew from the start I wouldn’t be able to ballhawk this game. My high school’s baseball team (Remember this game?) was 22-1 going into today, with a 4pm game against our cross-town rivals, so I couldn’t miss it!

I considered leaving around 5:30 to “beat” the traffic and get there at the end of BP, but it didn’t come close to happening. As much as I wanted to go to the A’s game, I really wanted to stay for this game!

I left around 6:30pm for the 7pm A’s game. Traffic was horrible! My dad and I listened to the pregame show on the radio on the drive up and pulled into the Coliseum parking lot just after the first pitch.

I ran in Gate MM and headed up to the 3rd deck? Why? I had purchased a Value Deck seat. Every Friday in the Value Deck in Oakland, they have a giveaway of some sort, this time it was a T-Shirt. Look for me to be wearing it in my next entry!

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I ran up, grabbed my shirt, and slid into my seat just in time in the bottom of the 1st inning. Everyone was wearing their Bacon Friday T-shirts!

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Wait? What is Bacon Friday, you might ask?

Watch this video…

Or this video…

That was just 2011. That was the first annual Bacon Tuesday.

In 2012, they brought it back for the 2nd Annual Bacon Tuesday. Read this article at Cut4 and this article at the Royals website.

It was back in 2013 and bigger and better than ever! How big? Jeff Francoeur AND Josh Reddick stopped by before the gates opened to tailgate with them!

I have to give MAJOR props to my mom! In the days leading up to Bacon Friday, she baked DOZENS upon DOZENS of Bacon Chocolate Chip cookies. I don’t know exactly how many she made, but they were AMAZING!!!!

Even the people running the scoreboard knew it was Bacon Friday!

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They even showed some action of Sizzlin’ Bacon! Everyone in RF chanted “Go Bacon Go! Go Bacon Go!

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They knew of the awesomeness that is Bacon Friday.

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When I slipped into my seat, Yoenis Cespedes was at the plate…

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But Brandon Moss grounded out to end the first, stranding Jed Lowrie at first.

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Jarrod Parker was on the mound for the A’s

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Daric Barton was playing first.

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FYI, I am a member of the Daric Barton Fan Club. WE GOT YOUR BACK BRO!

While Lorenzo Cain was batting in the 2nd inning, Eric Hosmer was picked off.

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After a short pickle, he was out at first.

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IMG_3532You could tell everyone on the field was happy about it!

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Cain ende up grounding out to first base to end the top of the 2nd.IMG_3536

Like I had mentioned earlier, everyone was wearing their Bacon Friday shirts.

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And yes, I did get one!

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I was 7 rows back or so, but I still had a great view!
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Will was not wearing a jersey like he usually does, but his Bacon Friday shirt!

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In the bottom of the 2nd, with 1 out and Josh Donaldson on first, Derek Norris walked.

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Then, Daric Barton stepped up to the plate.

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He ende up grounding into a fielder’s choice, Derek Norris was thrown out at 2nd base.

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With a runner on 2nd in the top of the 3rd and 1 out, Elliot Johnson was called out on strikes.

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Then, Parker allowed the first run of the game.

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David Lough doubled to Center, bringing in Salvatore Perez.

In the 3rd inning, I headed over to LF to go hang out with Rick Gold for an inning or so. He was in town for the homestand and planning on attending BallhawkFest the next day, so I thought I would stop by and chat for a little bit.

Right after I left, this happened…

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Yep. Omar, Anson, and a few other people did a live interview on the Royals TV broadcast.

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Everyone got pictures with him.

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This is a close-up shot of the back of the T-Shirt.

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Jarrod Parker pitched a scoreless 4th, despite a single and walk.

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I came back in the 4th inning, around the time that my mom and sister showed up!

Why were they so late? My sister had soccer tryouts that ended around 7. She went home, changed into her A’s gear, and she and my mom immediately took BART out to Oakland so they could catch at least part of the game.

FYI, here is Rick. He’s in the new BP hat with the green jacket- right in the middle of the picture.

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James Shields, who tossed me a ball last year when the Rays were in town, was on the mound for the Royals.

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On the 4th pitch of the bottom of the 4th, Brandon Moss singled to right field.

But he tried to stretch it into a double…

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Out or safe?

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He was called out trying to stretch his single into a double for the first out of the inning.IMG_3707

Everyone was pumped about the game!
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Throughout the game, they showed bacon facts on the scoreboard.

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Omar Gutierez’s son, known as The Champ took lots of pictures during the game!

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He’s one awesome kid!

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And he had BACON MINTS!!!

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The other Omar G, Omar Gonzalez was very excited!

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Coco Crispy Bacon!!!

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Jorge was getting into the action, despite his sleepiness.

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Daniel and Keith were chilling in the front row on the other side of the section.

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Ross was taking lots of pictures.

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As was everyone else.

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Can anyone guess what year bacon was invented?
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If you guessed 1500 BC, you are correct!

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The scoreboard routinely showed this for the entire game.

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Through the top of the 6th, the A’s had allowed only that 3rd inning run.

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Jorge was having a good day!IMG_3812

Ready for more bacon trivia? What percentage of men ranked bacon as their favorite smell?

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23%!

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More bacon facts and trivia. BACON CURES HANGOVERS!!!

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Omar had these three signs at this game.

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Everyone was getting into the spirit of Bacon Friday!

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Daric Barton stepped to the plate for the A’s in the 7th, but he was called out on strikes…

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But it wasn’t before Josh Donaldson hit a game-tying home run to left field!

Bob Melvin really wanted to score a few more runs.

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Sean Doolittle came in to pitch the 8th inning for Oakland.IMG_3900

Did you know there is a world record for bacon-eating?

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Doolittle pitched a scoreless 8th

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Adam Rosales stepped to the plate to lead off the A’s half of the 8th.

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On a 1-1 pitch, he hammered a ball to left field to put the A’s ahead 2-1!

Rosie did his usual sprint around the bases.

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RUN ROSIE RUN!

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This meant it was time for Grant Balfour to get loose in the bullpen.

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No more runs were scored in the 8th inning.IMG_3974

I don’t know what it is, but security hates sections 148 and 149 this year. They had a huge problem with a lot of people on Friday.

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Everyone was excited that the A’s had taken the lead!

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In the top of the 9th, it was time for Grant Balfour to come in to close the game out…

This meant it was time to RAGE!!!

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After getting 2 quick outs, Eric Hosmer stepped to the plate!

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And struck him out swinging! Everyone was happy!

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Slowly, we all filed out.

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We all met up in the concourse after the game, I handed out some more cookies, and Ralliney had someone take this picture of us.

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Wow! It was nice to to have any pressures of ballhawking, and for those like me who don’t care about streaks or such, I would highly recommend that you go to a game and purposely not ballhawk. Very relaxing!

Thanks for reading!

BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 9th Game this Year
  • 0 Balls at this Game
  • 8 balls in 7 MLB games this season = 1.14 Ball Per Game
  • 23 Balls in 9 Games this season = 2.55 Balls Per Game
  • 36 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
  • 66 Total Balls

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Nick Badders is a unofficial reporter for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter @nickbatters or his blog @7000ColiseumWay. You can also LIKE his blog on Facebook or follow him @nickbatters or his blog @7000ColiseumWay on Instagram. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.baco