Category: Minor League Baseball

It all Started in 203…

So I’m sure you all have noticed the February, March, and April MLBlogs Latest Leaders, right?

February was an amazing month to say the least! Then came APRIL!

Towards the end of February, my math teacher decided it was his mission to get my blog to #1. He told EVERYONE in the school about it, telling everyone to check out 7000 Coliseum Way!

My view count EXPLODED when he did so!

In March, he did not do this, but in April, he picked back up again, making sure EVERYONE was reading EVERY post I put up!

After finding out that he was such a huge baseball fan, I talked with him a little bit.

Quick Intro:Room 203 is my math class. My math teacher is Mr. Hahn. And he is kind of a bad-ass.

Warning. This entry has nothing to do with Math and my performance in this entry does not have any affect on my grade in Math or any other classes.

First, his math classes have a Facebook and Twitter page. As readers of the 7000 Coliseum Way MLBlog, I request that you go follow him on Twitter and Like his page on Facebook. I know you guys don’t care about my math HW, but I think it will startle him enough to all of a sudden get a lot of followers!

Oh, and Hahn, WHY HAVE YOU NOT SUBSCRIBED OR COMMENTED YET???? 🙂

He’s also a baseball fan. Actually, he is a HUGE baseball fan determined to make it onto my blog! He has supported my blog so much this year, THANK YOU to him for supporting me and being VERY determined to get my blog to #1 at MLBlogs.

I talked with him a few days ago to understand just how much he is into baseball. He had some great stories to share and is a really interesting guy!

1) Growing up, who was your favorite baseball team and/or player(s)?
I had two teams I followed while growing up. One was the Montreal Expos(now the Washington Nationals) and the Oakland A’s. My favorite team by far was the A’s. My favorite baseball player was Rickey Henderson. I was VERY into baseball cards and I think I had over 400+ cards of just Rickey. I have them in a safe at my parents house still.
2) If I remember correctly, every summer, you go on a baseball road trip. Tell me about that.
Here is the whole story, so relax because this is going to take a while. One year my two cousins (Jacob and Greg) and my brother Brad all drove up to Sacramento to watch a Rivercats game. It was a great game and on the way home from Sacramento one of us said “Let’s stop in Stockton to see if they have a game tonight.” So we stopped and they had a game starting soon, so we bought tickets and we made our very own doubleheader. While watching that game, we made a pact that we would go on a baseball road trip every year as we all had the love of the game in common. A long story short- Trip #2 was a road trip all over California where we hit all MLB stadiums and MiLB stadiums in 13 days. A few of the days we saw two games and we were driving like crazy! Crazy road trip! After that trip my cousin became a minor league umpire and Greg and I decided that we were going to travel to see him work in whatever league he was in. So the next year, Trip #3, we went up to Yakima, WA to see him ump in the Northwestern League. On our trips, we at least saw every stadium around us, we try to go to as many games as possible both MLB and MiLB, and of course the typical touristy attractions. The next year, Trip #4, we followed Jacob to the South Atlantic League in Raleigh, North Carolina. Trip #5 was a trip to Cleveland, Ohio, which was the Midwest League. On that trip it was Greg, myself, my brother (who decided he wanted to do another road trip again, and my other cousin Jeff). Let’s just say Jeff and Brad couldn’t handle it and haven’t been on a baseball trip since! Trip #6 was to Washington D.C. and this was the last trip as Jacob being an umpire as he resigned after this trip to go to college. Trip #7 was a road trip to Phoenix to see Diamondbacks and some rookie ball, Vegas to see the 51s play and then to Fresno to see the Grizzlies play. Trip #8 was to Chicago. Great trip, as we saw the White Sox, Cubs, and Kane County among other minor league games. Trip #9, which is this year, we are going to go to Atlanta. There are a few minor league teams there along with the Braves. It should be a blast and actually tonight (**Interview Conducted on 2/23**) we have a “meeting” to discuss dates as we match up home games, etc. Our trips are nonstop and we barely every sleep. We just keep driving and experiencing the area for which we are in. It isn’t made for everyone! On a side note, my cousin Greg keeps a log of EVERYTHING we have done from miles we have driven to what we have seen. His roles within the trips are the itinerary and directions. He does a great job, but we have seen some funky stuff!
Here are a few pictures from his various trips that he shared with me.
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3) Are those the only games you make it to each year?
I love minor league baseball. I go to probably 5-10 Minor League games a year and maybe 5-ish MLB games a year.

4) What is your favorite stadium that you have visited?
My favorite MLB stadium is definitely PETCO. There are a lot of little nuances throughout the stadium that a casual fan wouldn’t even bother looking for. My favorite MiLB stadium would be Greensboro Grasshoppers (the ball boy is a dog named Babe…how can you not buy a tickets just to see that?!)

5) What stadiums would you still like to visit and what teams do you still want to see play?
I want to see Pittsburg’s stadium still. We have run into many people who are on their own baseball trip. The general talk is what stadiums we have all been to and which ones are the worst/best. The Pirates stadium ALWAYS comes up as one of the best stadiums! My National League team was the Expos, which would make me a Nationals fan too. I have seen them play in SF and have been to their stadium on a night when there wasn’t a game, but they are an exciting team to see now with all of the talent on their roster.

6) Of all the games you have been to, can you think of one MLB and/or one MILB game that stands out to you as a favorite game?
No question here. I was at the A’s streak game where they won, I think; it was their 20th in a row. Another game(s) that stuck out to me was the games we saw Mike (now Giancarlo) Stanton play in Greensboro. He was 18 and already a man amongst boys. He was HUGE and his numbers were ridiculous compared to others.

7) When you do go to a Major or Minor League game, at what time to you try to get there?
It kind of depends on who I am with. If I am with my cousins we always get there early especially to MiLB games because you can actually talk to players and coaches. If I am with my family it is usually an hour before the games starts.

8) I know a lot of Minor League teams always have some pretty cool giveaways and promotions. Have you ever gotten any cool giveaways or seen any cool promotions at games before?
We have been to tons of minor league games and there are the normal giveaways(bobbleheads, cards, balls, running around bases, beer batters, etc.) that we are accustomed to. The one giveaway that sticks out was in Rancho Cucamonga. They gave away a loaf of bread to every fan. It was great because we were on a road trip during Trip#2 and we left with around 8 loaves of bread for sandwiches for the rest of the trip. It was classic! I know one thing we try to do every trip is to get at a Minor League game first and try to find the person who is running the games in between innings on the field. We have done tons of those and they are a blast. We have thrown out the first pitch in North Carolina, ran around dressed up as fish (rather than the dot race like at the Coliseum), played the dress-up game, thrown discs into a garbage can, hit a tennis ball off of a tee, etc. It is a lot of fun and one of the things we do.

9) Now tell me about these two balls that you were VERY KIND in giving me.

20130514-182449.jpgMy cousin was a minor league umpire and he umped in the Southern Atlantic League and the Northwest League. Two of our baseball trips was out the see him work and I caught both of those at games. I have a few others from those leagues so I could spare a few to give to an avid fan.

10) How many balls have you snagged in your life?
Combining both MLB and MiLB balls I probably have close to 50. I have caught a ball at Safeco Field, AT&T Park, the Oakland Coliseum, PETCO Park, Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium, and also Bank One Ballpark in Arizona. It is easy to get balls at the MiLB games and now I leave that to my sons who love to interact with the players before, during, and after the games. And of course they have come home with their share of their own balls.

11) Do you remember the first ball you caught?
I can’t specifically remember my first ball, but one of the first is when I was a beginning teacher and I saw a few of my students in the front row behind the visitors dugout at the A’s game. I went down there to say hi and I was there for about an inning. The last out we were there a right-handed batter with a very late swing hit a ball very fast at us. I stood up and caught it with one hand and sat down very quick. I was in amazement I caught it and kind of embarrassed by all the cheering afterwards. I was with a few of my buddies and they didn’t believe I caught it, so I had to drag my students up there to tell them the story HAHA

12) I have an account at MyGameBalls.com and MyGameBalls.com Minors, where I have logged all 68 baseballs that I have snagged. Now that I have told you about these websites, you could see yourself creating an account?
I am definitely going to look into it.

13) Have you ever caught a home run during a game?
Two stories here: the first story is a FAILURE! I think it was ’99 I went to a dodger game against the cardinals in LA. We were in the bleachers and a homerun was coming our way. The problem was that I was eating nachos and couldn’t decide, through all the excitement, where to put them. The grand slam, the second in the inning by Fernando Tatis, hit off of my hand and landed in the guys seat behind me. I was so pissed and my buddies gave me so much crap because of it!! 🙂 The other is a success is off of a homerun by lance Berkman during BP at PETCO. It was coming to the sandy part of PETCO when I and this old gentleman dove after it after it hit the sand. I came up with it. yep yep!

14) Of the close to 50 balls that you have caught, would you say that more of them have been BP Home Runs, Player Toss-Ups, Easter Eggs (Random Balls in the seats), or In-Game balls?
I would estimate about 8-10 of them being foul balls or batting practice balls and the rest are player toss ups. I get a lot of player toss-ups!! I have seen the A’s in a few stadiums so it is always good when you are wearing an A’s hat and player walks by 🙂

15) Do you try to get autographs at games?
When I was younger I would always try to get autographs. My Papa would go to Spring Training and collect autographs for all of his grandsons. That was always something I looked forward to when he came back. At my age, I do not try to get autographs as I just enjoy the game, the atmosphere, and the happiness the game brings to all types of families.

16) Can you share with me some of your most memorable moments from going to baseball games?
My most memorable times were times when I was with family. Going to games with my uncle, dad, brother, grandpas, and now my family and sons is great. It is a game that just keeps on giving 🙂

17) I shared with you on the first day of class that I write a top MLBlog. What was your first thought when you heard that?
My first reaction was “we have something in common and I will definitely connect with that student.”

18) A few days ago in class, you were having people go to my blog for a majority of the period, and throughout the day. What was your motivation for this and if my blog did get to #1, what would you do?
I am very competitive. SO if there was a way that I can help someone get up the “ranks” I will do it. Having kids go to your blog is just one of those ways. If you got to be #1, it would be great!!!

19) What would you think of starting your own MLBlog. I know my readers would read it, and I’m sure other people would as well!
I have talked to my cousin about starting a MLB blog about our past baseball trips and what we do on them because it is definitely an adventure. I want to talk to you a bit more about how to start one. I think there would be people out there that would be interested in hearing about our trips.
20) Thank You for all of your support of my blog! I appreciate it all very much!
Keep up the good work!

Wow! I am constantly amazed with the support that I have been given! Thank You very much to Mr Hahn for giving me endless support and Thank You to everyone in my 1st Block Class in Trimester 2 and 4th Block Class in Trimester 3!

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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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Best Pictures of 2012- FanFest, April, and May

Wow. What a crazy season. My dad took a majority of the pictures featured on this blog, and all of them were excellent. I wanted to take some time to comprise a few entires with of all of the best photos that were taken at the 21 games I went to in 2012. At the end of each month and game, I will have a poll for you to choose your favorite picture of that month.

This entry features the 6 games I attended in April and May, as well as FanFest in January

***If you would ever like permission to use any of the photos on this blog for any reason, please send an email to nickbatters@gmail.com***

1/29/12 at FanFest

In line at for tickets early in the morning before FanFest

Posing with Eric Sogard

Posing with Tom Milone

Inside the A’s clubhouse

A sign showing times for BP according to game time


April:
4/5/12 at PETCO Park

Padres catcher Nick Hundley warming up before the Padres took on the Dodgers on opening day.

Padres catcher Members of the U.S. Navy holing the American flag on Opening Day at PETCO Park for the National Anthem.

Griffin Benedict, one of the Padres bullpen catchers in the bullpen.

Watching the game, sitting right next to the bullpen


4/13/12 at Banner Island Ballpark

Me at Banner Island Ballpark with the Ports Prize Pack that I won on Facebook

Having the water wiped off of our seats as we showed up with a rainbow in the background

A pre-game view of the home plate area from our seats

A.J. Cole throwing his last warm-up pitch in the top of the 1st inning

The tarp being put on the field during the rain delay

Sitting right next to the dugout for the final few outs of the game


4/22/12 at the Oakland Coliseum

MyGameBalls.com Scavenger Hunt Picture: Sitting in the seat I determined to be te farthest away from home plate

Tyson Ross pitching on his birthday. He tossed me a ball before the game.

Jordan Norberto tossing sunflower seeds to fans behind the bullpen

MyGameBalls Scavenger Hunt Picture: Bonus Photo- Posing with my 3 balls at the game in front of the O.co Coliseum sign


May:
5/11/12 at the Oakland Coliseum

A view of the Coliseum from the last row of the 3rd Deck

Tom Milone pitching. Photo taken from the 3rd deck.

Everything that I got at this game. Ball, Drawstring bag, Blanket, Hat


5/18/12 at John Thurman Field

Chad Oberkacker at the plate. He threw me a ball before the game.

Miles Head, who threw me my first ever Minor League Ball in Stockton in April

A.J. Cole Pitching. Look at his eyes.

A.J. Cole again. His eyes…

These signs are all over John Thurman Field


5/26/12 at Banner Island Ballpark

Batting Practice at Banner Island Ballpark

The Marina behind Banner Island Ballpark

Yordy Cabera at the Plate

A Ports pitcher pitching in the Top of the 9th


Ok. That’s it for this entry. I’ll try to have the entry for June and July up in 1 week. Make sure to vote in each poll, as I’ll be compiling an entry of the best pictures from 2012!

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

9/7/12 at John Thurman Field

Minor League playoff baseball? I think so.

Yep, I’m back in Modesto! This game was going to be slightly different. Here is the story…

So the night before, I was listening to the Nuts/Giants game on the radio, and once the Nuts won the, the broadcaster said that the final game on the 3-game mini-series would be in Modesto at 7pm on Friday.

I then went to the Nuts website to try and purchase tickets, where I found a link where if I took a survey about my experiences at Nuts home games this year, then I would win 2 free playoff tickets.

Survey completed. Tickets won.

I somehow convinced my dad to take me (still trying to figure that one out) and he ended up surprising me by purchasing us 2 new seats right behind the Nuts dugout, where I had never sat before. I was excited.

I then told him that I was hoping to leave right after I got out of school at 3:05. It turned out that he had a meeting that was supposed to end at 5pm, so I was kind of disappointed. but still, my dad is taking me to ANOTHER game and it is hard to complain about that!

I got home from school around 3:30 (I walk home) and he showed up around 5:15.

We got to the stadium close to 6:30, and as soon as we got in, I ran to the right field corner

There were some Nuts players starting to get loose

My dad made his way to our seats

There were players walking past the bullpen, and I was able to get one to autograph my ticket

When the infielders starting throwing, I got ball #1 tossed to me.

I then headed back to my seat

Just in time for the line up cards to be exchanged

The sun began to set as the umpires concluded their meeting

The National Anthem was sung

And we were ready for some playoff baseball!

This was the view for the most of the game

The game would feature the Modesto Nuts and San Jose Giants, battling to advance to the next round of the California League playoffs.

My dad had a lot of fun wandering around the stadium, getting some fantastic pictures from different places like the 1st base side, where we had never sat at in Modesto before

He also got some great pictures down the right field line

My dad also went down the left field line to get some cool shots as well

When the Giants finished their ups in the top of the 2nd inning, I called out to Joey Wong for the 3rd out ball, and he tossed it to me for my 2nd of the day.

At the bottom of each inning, I would head over to the Giants dugout to try and get a 3rd out ball, and stood in the walkways between the aisle and concourse, chasing foul balls.

My dad was fantastic about letting me run around, chasing balls and all. Most of the balls that were hit into the stand flew out of the stadium, to be retrieved by fans outside.

When the Giants finished hitting in the top of the 4th, I got a Nuts player to toss me the 3rd out ball for my 3rd ball on the day.

When I caught the ball, a guy who had seen me catch the other ball started yelling at me because it the 2nd ball that he had seen me catch. I gave him my card and mentioned my blog, and he was pretty cool for the rest of the night.

After that incident, I decided that it would be in my best interests to not try really hard for thrown balls, just kind of chase foul balls and have some fun.

There were a few cool things that I noticed that I hadn’t seen before
1) This sign. I guess if a player hits a home run through it, some random fan wins $10,000

2) Oh Mike on the Mic…

Even though I didn’t have much luck, it was really fun just to run around chasing balls, and having a good time.

There was one foul ball that I came close to during the game, and that ball I should have had. It was popped up right behind our seats. I just simply misplayed it. Stupid me.

I Knew that this was an elimination game, and going into the 9th inning, the Nuts were winning, so I grabbed a seat right behind the Giants dugout.

As I was walking to the 3rd base side, I noticed a guy with a radar gun.

Cool stuff.

Of course, the Nuts won, advancing to the next round of the playoffs.

As soon as the game ended, I got down right next to the dugout

And before I had a chance to ask for the line up card, it was peeled off the wall and the manager walked away.

Then, I called out to the bat boy for a ball, which he handed to a player, who walked away.

Then, I noticed the Giants’ catcher with a few bat in his hand and asked him for one. HE then handed it to a kid next to me, who my dad overheard had gotten a bat in the previous 2 games. Wow.

That was it for the night. I wandered around the empty ballpark with my dad for a few minutes

It was fun to be at a playoff game, experience the great atmosphere, and just have fun. It really is amazing how calm everything was, and just a great experience.

After this entry , I have one more entry to get up before I am all up to date, which I will hope to get up in the coming days.

Now there are a few more pictures that my dad took and I have to show. They are pretty awesome!

BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 3 balls at this game
• 15 balls in 6 Minor League games this season = 2.5 balls per game.
• 37 balls in 19 baseball games this season = 1.947 balls per game.
• 15 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
• 42 total balls
• 6 consecutive minor league games with at least 1 ball
• 10 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
• 6 consecutive games 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.

8/26/12 at John Thurman Field

This was looking to be a very fun game! I had told my dad that I wanted to go to this game, and he was a little unsure of whether or not he wanted to go.

My sister really wanted to go an spend some time with me, so she convinced him into taking us to this game.

My dad is awesome! He was feeling a little under the weather, but was willing to take us anyway!

On our way to the game, I sent a tweet Theo Bowe, on the Blaze, telling him I would be sitting behind the dugout, asking if he could hook me up with a souvenir of some sort. 30 seconds later, he retweeted it, and 5 minutes later, a guy in the Royals Organization (random) replied, telling me that the player would be able to give me a bat and batting gloves after the game.

Pretty cool! I doubted he actually would, but hey, you never know!

Here is a cool green car I saw on the way there

We arrived in Modesto around 4

The gates were supposed to open at 5 and the game started at 6.

This is what the line looked like

I headed over to look inside

This is what it looked like inside

We picked up our tickets at the box office, and I wanted to just wander around and take some pictures.

First, my sister and I wandered around the outside of the stadium, then she headed back to hang out with my dad by the line.

I started off by going to the right of the box office and getting a picture of the banner outside of the box office

It turned out that I couldn’t go very far in that direction. I stood at the fence that cut me off and got a few quick shots

My dad and sister were sitting down near the gates, just talking and stuff.

I decided to head back in the opposite direction and looked through the fence again

I was on my way back to the outfield, and turned around to get another picture

And saw this gate

And saw this

Catch… the first thought that went through my mind was whether or not I could get a ball. But decided against staying there, and kept on my way. I then noticed an open gate…

I walked closer, and had noticed a ball to the right, maybe 10 feet, but I didn’t want to get in trouble, so I didn’t go in.

At this point, this is where I was

As I headed to the field beyond the wall, I noticed the batting cage in a encaged area

As well as a panel of the outfield wall open

I headed on, and saw the picnic area, I guess it is behind the wall

I wasn’t able to find any balls.

Then, randomly, I saw an airplane

It was time to head to the field.

You walk past that chain link fence, and it is ballhawking heaven

The wall is about 10 feet high, and the scoreboard is just over the LF wall

I stood about 100 feet from the wall, 1/3 of the way across the field, and took a picture behind myself

Freaking glory. So awesome. Just an empty field for lots of balls to fly into

I kept walking, and finally realized that the field was a recreational soccer field, and the main hint was the metal bleachers

My sister and I had already been here, and one thing she noticed was a hole in the bleachers. Dangerous much?

I then had to slip past the little gap between the outfield fence and chain link fence

And there was still nobody out there at all. If there was going to be any BP, which at this point, I highly doubted, it was for sure going to be epic.

I then decided to take an artsy picture of a light pole in right field, right behind the wall

And this one of the right field foul pole and a sign in the shape of a baseball that commemorates a player whose number they retired

I saw a gap in the fence, and looked inside

And I guess the visiting batting cage is right next to the home bullpen, and the Blaze were taking some cuts in the enclosed cage

I walked to the fence, as far as I could go, and this is basically what I saw

And then I noticed a kids play area over by the cage and bullpen

It is more or less an elementary school playground

At this point, it was 4:30, so I wasn’t expecting BP, and that somewhat disappointed me.

I was hoping that the players would stop stretching and play catch, so that I could potentially get a ball thrown over the wall

Christian Bergman walked out to the bullpen with someone who I assume is their bullpen catcher, and the team’s pitching coach, Darryl Scott. I talked with Scott for a few minutes, and then let him get back to focusing on the pitching

Finally, the Nuts pitcher grabbed their glove and started to toss the ball back and forth

This is what I was paying attention to:

While I was paying attention to the bullpen, a loose ball rolled to the wall to my right. I heard a player said “Here buddy” I looked and he tossed a ball up to me over the wall for my 1st ball of the day.

I decided that the player was Nick Schnaitmann, mostly because I heard someone call him Nick.

I just stayed there for the most part, hoping for another snagging opportunity. I waited for about another 15 minutes or so.

Pascale then called me on my phone, telling me that the line was getting long, and that I needed to get there soon. I looked at my watch, and realizing the gates opened in 5 minutes, I ran back to get in line with them. The line was pretty long for a minor league game with no giveaway.

A few minutes after I got there, the gates opened.

I got my ticket scanned, and received my game program and headed towards the field, where it was announced that we could play catch on the field for half and hour.

Knowing this, my sister had brought a ball with her, but I decided that Pascale and I would use the ball I had snagged earlier.

We were positioned on the field by the Nuts mascots, and we played catch for 20 minutes or so.

My dad got a lot of tremendous shots of Pascale and I playing catch.

So once we got onto the field, we were spaced out, right next to the infield, i left field

One thing that really stuck out in my mind was the ugly outfield grass. I thought it was impossible to get worse than the Coliseum in September, but I guess I was wrong

As we were playing catch, there was a groundskeeper watering the infield, and as we were right next to the infield, I got a little wet

After about 20 minutes of catch on the field, I noticed some Blaze players heading to the dugout. I decided that it was time to end catch and head over to the dugout.

Now the reason that I did this was because the last time I was at John Thurmond Field, I got my only ball of the day when I saw a ball on the ground as some players walked into the dugout, and got one of them to toss it to me.

There was some concert thing going on over by the Nuts bullpen or something like that, I wasn’t really paying attention

The players were all just sitting in the dugout, so I decided to go buy myself a Nuts hat and spend a little time with my dad and sister.

After purchasing my hat, I noticed players exiting the dugout, so I headed over to the bullpen area, where I was able to get an autograph from Kurtis Muller on the Blaze.

I was unable to get a ball from the players throwing, so I headed back to my seat in time for the first pitch. I them remembered about the shaved ice stand, so I go a shaved ice, sliding right into my seat in time for the exchanging of the line up cards

Do you recognize the Blaze manager? Here is a closer look at him

That is Ken Griffey Sr. The father of Ken Griffey Jr. Pretty awesome!

Time to play ball!

The seats we had purchased were row 2 aisle seats behind the visitor’s dugout, so I brought my Reds hat, as the Blaze are the High-A affiliate of the Reds.

This was our view for the start of the game

From our seats, my dad was able to get some amazing pictures, like he always does

Theo Bowe, the player I had tweeted, led off for the Blaze

I already had 1 ball, and my goal on the day was to get a foul ball and a few 3rd out balls or infield warm-up balls, as well as the line up cards after the game.

In the middle of the second inning, my dad accompanied my sister in her pursuit of cotton candy.

In the bottom of the 2nd, Juan Crousset stepped to the plate. I was sitting in the 1st row aisle seat, ready to jump out and chase a foul ball. He blooped a little foul pop up over my head. It knew it would land right behind me, but because I didn’t have time to get out of my seat to make a clean catch, I pushed my feet of the dugout wall, kind of jumping, and caught the ball right before it bounced off the table behind the 2nd row.

I got a nice round of applause from the 2,000+ people that were there, a few high-fives from people around me. Then, I snapped a quick photo of the ball.

When my dad and sister came back, with a shaved ice of her own (The cotton candy machine was broken), I showed them the foul ball, and they were pretty impressed. My dad then got a picture of me with the ball.

My sister loved her shaved ice

While I had been trying to get a ball when the Blaze were throwing, I heard a player talking to his mom. I got 2 things in their conversation. 1) All of the pitchers want their pitching coach fired. 2) Because they had won the 1st half in their division, they had a 1st round bye in the playoffs, so they were being lazing and not trying in the 2nd half. I wonder if that is why their pitcher didn’t pitch well.

In the bottom of the 4th, a Nuts player grounded out, and I got the first baseman, Dominic D’Anna to flip me the 3rd out ball.

One thing that I hadn’t noticed last time I was in Modesto was the Nuts bullpen. It is a raised bench in the concourse area.

I chased foul balls and 3rd out balls during the game, but was unable to come up with another ball during the game. One reason was because their was a girl who got most of the 3rd out balls, and got a head start on a lot of foul balls over me. Oh well. It was still a lot of fun!

In the top of the 9th, I got a seat right next to the dugout, so that right when the final out was recorded, I could try to get a ball, bat , or the line up card.

When the Nuts got the final out of the game, this was the scene.

I asked for a ball, but had no luck. Then, I asked the bat boy for the line up cards. He was peeling them off for me, when he told me there was a player who wanted it because of the night before or something like that. I then noticed a broken bat on the dugout floor, and asked the bat boy for that. He told me that he wanted to, but wasn’t allowed to give away broken bats because I could injure myself.

It was a great game! I got the opportunity to play catch with my sister on the field, a lot of fantastic pictures, I got 3 balls (I forgot to grab my 1st ball for the picture below), a Nuts hat, and I got a chance to wear my new A’s sweatshirt!

BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 3 balls at this game
• 12 balls in 5 Minor League games this season = 2.4 balls per game.
• 29 balls in 16 baseball games this season = 1.8125 balls per game.
• 12 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
• 34 total balls
• 5 consecutive Minor League Games with at least 1 ball
• 8 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
• 3 consecutive games 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.

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.

4/13/12 at Banner Island Ballpark

Today’s game was a Stockton Ports game, the A’s Class-A advanced team. Well right after I got home from school, I called my dad asking when he was going to leave work for the 7:05 game. Well he was having a hard time getting out, so all I could do was wait.

My goal had been to leave at 4 for the estimated hour long drive to Stockton and get there around 5, in time to pick up our tickets and my Facebook contest prize and get in line before the gates open at 6. So I checked the estimated drive time on Google maps… 2.5 hours!!! There had been a huge head-on collision or something and debris had flown everywhere and it was crazy backed up.

My dad came home around 4 and I got ready, and we left at about 4:20. We took some backroads and at 4:45, we were supposed to get there around 5:30. Around 5:15, it started to rain… oh boy… the rain let up quickly enough and we arrived at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton at about 5:30ish.

Once we go there, we headed to the front office to pick up the “Ports Prize Pack” that I won on the Ports Facebook page. I came out with this.

But apparently we aren’t allowed to bring bags into the stadium, so we brought everything, including my A’s backpack into our car and headed to line.

Very short. Very nice. Once we got inside and received our rally flag and magnetic schedule, we headed to our seats behind the dugout, where some nice usher cleaned off the wet seats.

Our view was fantastic!

So I wandered around and looked down onto the field and saw this.

If you can’t see, this is what I saw…

While I was wondering how I would get it (For the record, nobody ever goes down there, so I din’t get the ball), a bunch of players walked down the aisle past me and onto the field.

I walked the opposite direction and looked into the dugout. Pretty cool.

Before the game, there was a parade for a nearby little league and it was really great to see them enjoying everything so much.

After that, I saw a ball boy with a ball in his hand and asked him for it, but he just ignored me, as he handed it to some season ticket holder.

Ports players were starting to warm up down the right field line, so I headed down there to try my luck. No luck. I knew who everyone was, but no luck with a ball. I headed back to my seat, and tried to get a ball there, but no luck there. (Fast forward to the game.) A.J. Cole was pitching for the Ports.

Now to most people, this may not seem like a big deal, but to me, he was a key piece in the Gio Gonzalez trade, so it had a lot of meaning to me.

He actually turned 20 and the beginning of January, so it was really great to see someone so young pitching. This was my view for most of the game. We had the whole 3 rows of the section to our self for the entire game, and for most of it, actually, I stood in the cross aisle behind the section and chased foul balls. I came close to three in the first inning. The first two were hit to the right of me, so I sprinted that way and arrived a split second too late, but I almost got them on a bounce, but a little kid got them both times, so I was glad. The third one was hit to my right, and I sprinted off that way, but it bounced too high when I got there and OUT of the stadium.

So when it comes to foul balls in Stockton, long story short: stand in the parking lot. Had i done that, I probably would have caught 3-5 foul balls.

In the top of the second, A.J. Cole got a strike out for the second out of the game, and the catcher, whose first name was Petey threw the ball down to third to catch a runner stealing for the third out. Most people thought it was the second out, some people thought it was the third out, and there was a lot of confusion. The third baseman, Miles head tossed the ball to me and I had my first Minor League ball, and my 6th lifetime ball.

I didn’t actually get a picture of the ball on my dad’s camera, but I did get a picture of the Petey right before the play.

However, I *DID* get a picture on my phone

For the rest of the game, I was at the dugout after infield warm ups, and at the end of each half inning, but other than that, I stood in the cross aisle for a foul ball.

In the third inning, it started to rain very hard, so they brought out the tarp and there was a twenty minute delay.

In that time, I went to get some food and wander around. I then went and stood here, but the usher said I had to move…

For the rest of the game. I sat here. (I am the one in the green in the first row)

And for the record, there is a wall in front of the seats, and it is about a foot and a half tall. I would have more pictures, but my dad’s camera kind of died, so I don’t really have any pictures left to show you.

I didn’t get any more balls, but honestly, I am fine with one. It was a great game and I had a great time!

BALLHAWKING STATS:
• 1 balls in 1 Minor League Game games this season = 1 ball per game.
• 1 ball in 2 baseball games this season = 0.5 balls per game.
• 1 ball at this game
• 6 Lifetime baseballs
• 1 Lifetime Minor League baseball

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.