Category: The Champ

5/27/13 at Banner Island Ballpark

Time for some more Minor League Baseball in sunny California!

Originally, I had tickets for the 1:05 A’s/Giants game in Oakland. Knowing how slim my chances of snagging a ball were, and based on my previous Giants game in Oakland, along with the fact that I don’t have the patience to deal with the stupidity of drunk Giants fans (Beer in cheaper in Oakland than San Francisco), I decided to sell our two tickets for the game on StubHub.

Since they were part of my season ticket plan, when I sell tickets on StubHub, I can choose to have my profit go towards my A’s account. That means that I won’t have to pay as much for my season tickets next year. I also sold my tickets to the A’s/Giants exhibition game in Oakland back in March, so between these two games, I’ve made $130. That’s $130 that we won’t have to pay towards season tickets next year!

All of a sudden, I realized that I wouldn’t be going to a game on Memorial Day. I headed over to the Ports website to look at tickets for a game in June, when I saw this…

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I had been thinking about this game already, but now, my mind was made up!

I didn’t have school on Friday, so I had a 4-day weekend, and my parents told me that I had to finish my homework before they would buy the tickets. I finished it, showed them this, and it was a done deal!

My mom decided she didn’t want to go, but my sister did, so my dad went ahead and bought 5 tickets. Why 5? We got 3 seats where my dad and I have say for our last two Ports games, right next to the visitor dugout, so that 3 the of us could sit there, but my sister and I each individually purchased a ticket behind the Ports dugout, which would allow me to go for 3rd out balls over there as well.

My dad had to leave for his 3rd business trip of the month on Tuesday morning, so he wanted to get back before it was too late on Monday night. His goal was to be home by 9pm after the 6pm game, which would mean leaving around 8pm. If you know me, you know that that was the last thing I wanted. After all, I was hoping to grab the lineup card!

My hope was that given the fact Reddick was rehabbing, I wanted to get all of both Batting Practices. My though was that if the gates opened at 5pm, I would want to get there around 2pm, which would mean we would need to leave the house around 1pm. We were in for a LONG day!

Fast-Forward to Monday afternoon.

We left our house shortly after 1pm. Around 1:40pm, I decided to check the weather in Stockton, as it was raining when we left my house. What did the weather forecast say?

Rain until 4pm. WHAT THE HECK???

I was beyond pissed! We considered stopping at an outlet mall, but decided to tough it out and keep heading on to Stockton with hopes of BP.

We arrived in Stockton just after 2pm. I ran over to check to see if the cages just magically happened to be set up.

I didn’t get a picture, but THEY WERE!!! AND PLAYERS WERE HITTING!!!

My sister and I sprinted out behind LF just in time for the last hitter to finish up. Super…

We decided to just walk around by the marina and out behind RF to see if there were magically any balls. Nope.

It was starting to rain, so we headed back to the car. From there, we took a short drive down the street to a thrift shop. We spent 15 minutes there, before we all got bored. We decided to head back, as there was NOTHING else to do.

It was around 2:45 at this point. Pascale and I decided to go back out to the LF area, this time to play some catch.

Around this time, players started taking the field. Pitchers like Seth Frankoff began playing catch.

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The position players were just arriving in the dugout.

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Remember how I said Josh Reddick was playing? He was all suited up for BP!

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The pitchers were playing catch in center field.

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And the position players were stretching.

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And they began to throw and play catch.

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I only showed 2 pictures, but in all, it took about 30 minutes before they started hitting. I was getting anxious!!

The first guy to step into the cage was Wade Kirkland.

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And I was on the board quickly!

He lined a ball over the bullpens, where it rolled under the fence and into my glove!

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There was a mark on the ball, most likely from the bat.

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The next guy to step into the cage was catcher Philip Pohl.

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He then hit a ball in the same spot Kirkland had, and I had ball #2!

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Next in the cage was Ryan Delgado.

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He BOMBED one out of the stadium that hit off the Stockton Arena. I ran over and picked it up for ball #3 on the day.

After that, it was pretty quiet.

Rashun Dixon had some good hacks.

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Then, came the real show of BP. Josh Reddick.

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Between me, my sister, and my dad, there were lots of pictures taken!

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He was BOMBING them out!

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Then, he hit one that I saw roll hard through the grass of the CF berm. I ran over to check.

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Sure enough, it was sitting right next to the fence. I grabbed it for ball #4 on the day! And it was a Josh Reddick BP homer!

That was honestly it for Ports BP. Nothing much exciting happened.

66ers BP was worse.

There were a few pitchers throwing bullpen sessions.
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You know it’s bad when they don’t hit a single ball over the outfield wall.

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I was pretty fet up.

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Around 4:20, it got to the point where I knew that they wouldn’t hit anything out, so I headed to go get in line.

The gates were supposed to open at 5pm for the 6pm start, so I figured I would be close to the front.

I got there, and ushers were opening the gates… WHA???

I got my ticket scanned, and I was in at 4:30!!

I headed for a place down the LF line where I had seen a few balls land. No luck. I decided I wanted to try some ballhawking on the berms, so I decided to head out there.

Then, I looked up and a ball hit by Matthew Scioscia (the son of Angels manager Mike Scioscia) was flying my way. I looked up and after it bounced in the seats, I scooped it up for ball #5 on the day!

Then, I headed out to the metroPCS Home Run Hill.
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Back where my dad was, this was the scene near the gates. It was 4:35. Un.be.lievable.

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My sister was chilling out on the berm with me as well.

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Then, someone on the 66ers hit a ball that bounced off the roof of a private seating area between the RF and CF berms. I was on the CF one, so as soon as I saw it off the bat, I took off running. I sprinted over to where it was rolling, but some guy that was walking by scooped it up.

There were a lot of balls that were just a few feet away from the wall. If only I had a retrieval device!

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You can see it in his hand in the picture below.

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The 66ers were hitting like crap…

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But I was enjoying running around!

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Eventually, BP came to a close, just before 5pm.

That’s when I saw these people show up!

In the #3 jersey is Will MacNeil, then the guy in the A’s hoodie is “famous” Jorge. Over Jorge’s right shoulder is Anson.
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Why were they here? For Reddick’s rehab of course!

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Once the 66ers finished BP, they took infield practice.

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When they were done with that, Zach Wright tossed me one of the balls they had used. It was my 6th ball of the day.

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After that, my sister and I walked around the concourse a bit. We got some food, sat in our seats, talked, and were REALLY bored!

As the 66ers started walking towards the dugout, I caught a few of them and was able to get my ticket signed.
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At this point, I headed over to the walkway, where players were coming out, hoping to catch Josh Reddick at some point.

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This is the tunnel that the players walk out of.

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As you can see, there is a special walkway just for them.

Everyone was crowded, waiting for the players to come down.

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See those costumes in the corner?

This is what they looked like…20130605-233017.jpg

Stockton is the asparagus capital of the world, so those would be the asparagus heads for the “Asparagus Race.” Like the Brewers sausage race. Except not sausages…

It was around this time, that I spotted Omar Gutierrez, with his kids known as “The Champ” and “Super J.” They were able to get Addison Russell’s autograph.

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This ball is for sure a keeper!
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They got a few other players to sign their program.

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Then, Super J got Splash to sign his mask!

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And yes, of course, Josh Reddick did come onto the field.

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But he didn’t stop to sign autographs.

After most of the players had taken the field, everyone began to stretch and warm up.

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Then, they all started playing catch.

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It was funny. The entire time, Josh Reddick was doing something different than the rest of the team. He was off in his own little world!

Since it was Memorial Day, there were special people there to present the colors.
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A veteran threw out the first pitch.

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And we were ready to go! The umpires took the field!

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And the lineup cards were exchanged.

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And the players took the field.

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The National Anthem was played.

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And it was time to go!

Does this face have any significance to you?

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His name is Mike Huss. Why is he special? Well a week before, Will MacNeil had been at the Ports game, which had gone into 17 innings. In the 15th inning, he yelled something out ‘Terrible strike zone, midget!’ to Mike Huss, who was the home plate umpire. Obviously, it was nothing inappropriate or vulgar, but the umpire took it the wrong way. What did he do? He EJECTED Will from the game!

Now, keeping that in mind, read this article. How funny is that?!?! Also check out this article on MiLB.com about the incident  Quite amusing! I seriously recommend reading both articles, they will be well worth your time!

Josh Bowman was on the mound for Stockton.
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The first inning was a bit rough for him.

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Zach Borenstein singled  to left field, scoring Eric Stamets.

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This made it a 1-0 game.

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Josh Reddick was hitting 2nd in the lineup for the Ports.

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In the top of the 1st, he grounded out for the 2nd out.

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Then, Max Muncy flied out to LF to end the inning.

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I still find it amusing that Mike Huss was umpiring!
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The 2nd inning was the killer inning for Stockton.

After a walk, hit by pitch, Sac bunt, and strikeout, the 66ers had runners on 2nd and 3rd with 3 outs.Then, they strung together 2 singles,a home run, and a double, bringing the score to 6-0.

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Brandon Efferson was pitching for Inland Empire in this game.

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For those of you who don’t know, Webster Garrison is the Ports manager, and he is very good friends with Will and Ross.

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The Ports have this 2012 A’s AL West Champs banner in the stadium, listing all of the former Ports on the team.

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In the Ports half of the 2nd inning, they had 2 1-out hits, one of them from Antonio Lamas.

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But they were unable to capitalize on the 2 hits.

Remember this game when my high school played at Banner Island Ballpark? Well this is the dugout that we had been in.

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In the top of each inning, I sat behind the Ports dugout, hoping for a 3rd out ball.  There was a lot of competition.

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The 66ers catcher in this game was Abel Baker.

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In the 3rd inning, with 1 out, Dusty Robinson stepped to the plate.

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He lined out to the 3rd baseman.

Addison Russell ended up grounding out to end the inning.

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The 4th inning was quiet for Inland Empire.

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Josh Bowman had settled down, retiring them in the 4th, despite a 1-out single.

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In the middle of the 4th inning, the Ports do this thing where they pick 10 or so kids to chase Splash around the field.

Yeah…

BUT… Super J was lucky enough to be one of the kids that gets to do it!!

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Cool stuff!

In the bottom of the 4th, Josh Reddick led off.

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He fouled off a lot of pitches…

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And had a tough at bat…

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But he ended up popping out to the SS.

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This was the inning where Brandon Efferson was shaken up a bit.

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While the Ports were hitting, someone (Either Max Muncy, Tony Thompson, Antonio Lamas,  Bobby Crocker, or Dusty Robinson) lined a foul ball down the RF line.

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Guess who came up with it?

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It was Wiggi! She leaned over the railing, making a nice snag on the hard-hit foul ball.

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After having already scored 2 runs, Dusty Robinson decided to drive in another.
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He singled in Antonio Lamas.

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The 66ers tried to pick him off a few times at first base.

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But it was pretty easy to read the pitcher’s move.

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After the single, Efferson settled down, getting Philip Pohl to ground out to end the inning.

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Josh Reddick took his spot in RF.

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At this point, my sister and I headed over to the RF berm. Given the fact I hadn’t had any luck with foul balls or 3rd out balls, I decided to go for home runs for an inning or two.

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In the top of the 5th, the 66ers continued to tack on runs, scoring 2 more on a triple off the bat of Andy Workman.

That was it for Josh Bowman. 8 runs allowed, with a runner on 3rd base he is responsible for.

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The infield gathered on the mound as T.J. Walz came in to pitch.

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The runner on 3rd scored on a single, then after another single, he got 3 quick outs to end the inning.
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In the middle of the 5th, the Ports had a game where 3 members of the Ports “Promo Squad” used a slingshot to shoot 3 playground balls in the air. The contestant on the field has to catch them in this net.

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Always entertaining.

In the 5th, B.A. Vollmuth was called out on strikes, bringing Addison Russell to the plate.

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He ended up grounding out, bringing Josh Reddick to the plate.

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Josh singled on a ground ball to right field.

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This put him on first base.

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Max Muncy then struck out to end the 5th inning.

Reddick was back out in right field.

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And T.J. Walz was back on the mound. Can you say awesome mustache?
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He retired the 66ers 1-2-3.

In the bottom of the 6th, Inland Empire pitcher R.J. Alvarez struck out the side, with 1 walk.

After the strikeout of Dusty Robinson to end the inning, I called out to catcher Abel Baker to toss me the ball, which he did!
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Ball 7 on the day!

After I got this ball, Vanessa Demske called out to me, I turned around to see she was sitting just a few rows behind me! I moved back to talk to her, as well as Twitter friend Jamey Van Dyke.

At this point, it was well after 8pm. My dad had wanted to leave at 8pm. He was letting us stick around for the final out!

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My dad is awesome, isn’t he!?!?

In the 7th, the 66ers went down 1-2-3 again, but Myrio Richard came into the game in right field for Josh Reddick, as he was only slated to play the first 6 innings.

With 2 outs in the 7th, Max Muncy doubled to center field, scoring 2 more runs to make it 10-5.

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Between the 7th and 8th innings, they held the asparagus race.

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The green one lost it’s head…

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Yep…

The 7th inning, as well as the first 2 outs of the 8th inning were pitched by 240-pound Tony Pena.

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Around this time, Will, Vanessa, and Jamey wandered off, but I found them quickly, talking to this woman.

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Wiggi, Ross, and Drew were still over down the RF line.
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Back to the other group. In the top of the 8th inning, my sister and I had been headed over to the Ports dugout, when Will and Vanessa stopped me and introduced me to Bess Frankoff, the wife of Ports pitcher Seth Frankoff, who at the time was on the DL. Bess is the one in the teal.
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I guess they had all been interacting on Twitter for a while and had gotten to know each other.

I spent the next inning talking with the group.

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We also were able to get Bess to take this group shot of us.

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In the bottom of the 9th, I temporarily parted ways with everyone, as I was hoping to get a broken bat. Earlier in the game, someone on the Ports (I CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHO!!!) broke his bat someone (I DON’T REMEMBER HOW) and the Ports bat boy brought one of the halves to the 66ers dugout.

The Ports went 1-2-3, sealing a 10-7 win for Inland Empire.

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I tucked my head into the dugout.

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A player walked by, and I simply asked him for the broken bat, and he told me yes, as long as I was careful with it!

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I handed it to my sister, in hopes of getting the lineup card.

IMG_9448It had already been handed out… BUT STILL!

My dad wanted to leave, but I had to say a quick goodbye to everyone first.

Everyone loved the broken bat! In my last Ports game, I got a lineup card. This time I got a broken bat. COOL STUFF!

QUICK NOTE: I think out of everyone, Vanessa thought the lineup card and bat were the coolest. This past week, she took it into her own hands to end up with a souvenir, and after Monday and Tuesday’s Ports games this past week, look what she ended up with! (This is not my picture)

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We all parted ways, at which point I got this picture with the bat.

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It was a great game! 7 balls, 1 broken bat, and lots of new friends!

BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 11th Game of the Year… 3rd MiLB Game of the Year
  • 7 balls at this game
  • 19 balls in 6 games this season = 3.16 Balls Per Game
  • 22 MiLB Balls in 3 MiLB Games = 7.33 MiLB Balls Per Game
  • 9 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 6 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 37 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
  • 75 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.

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