Category: Vanessa Demske

7/27/13 at Banner Island Ballpark

Origionally, I was supposed to go to the A’s game this day. It was 1969 Turn-Back-The-Clock day, with a T-Shirt giveaway. The start time was 12:05 and I had just gotten back from vacation the night before, so I wasn’t really wanting to go to the game.

I was sitting on 93 balls combined between MLB and MiLB, so my 7th ball of the day would be a special one. Keep that in mind!

We sold our 2 seats on StubHub and used the money to buy tickets to that night’s Ports game! It was a Drew Granier jersey, the Ports new Friday Alternate one.

The funny thing is that Granier was promoted to AA in Mid-June. Still, cool!

This was going to be a popular game, but I was looking forward to it, as I was sitting on 93 lifetime balls between MLB and MiLB and was hoping to snag #100 today.

My goal was to be in Stockton by 4pm for BP, and my dad and I ended up arriving there at 3:58, so it was perfect timing!

The parking lot was not yet open, so my dad dropped me off, while he went to go wait for the lot to open. I found Vanessa at the front of the line, she had come to this game with Ryan Dalton, who was out behind LF looking for any random balls.

I talked with her for about 20 minutes, as BP got underway around 4:25. I had gotten an official conformation that the gates would be opening at 5:35, rather than 6pm, so I was excited for a potential half hour of BP inside the stadium!

When Ryan and I headed out back, the San Jose Giants were stretching down the LF line.

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Meanwhile, the Ports were finishing their catch, having already completed their stretching.

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My first ball of the day was curtsey of Addison Russell.

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He lined a ball towards the Berm in Right-Center field, and since it was hit hard, it kept rolling past the berm, setting in the bush past the ballpark fence. I had a hunch, so I ran over there, dug through the bushes, and picked it up, coming back to show my dad and Ryan, as I was on the board!

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Meanwhile, Ryan chased down a ball, for his first snag on the day.

The next guy in the cage was Bruce Maxwell.

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From what I heard from Ryan and Vanessa, Bruce is a class act. Great guy! More on him later on…

Ryan and I were having a good time, as a moment later, he chased down another ball, that was hit towards the Marina, almost in the same spot as the other.

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There were 3 rounds of 4 hitters each, and at this point, there was one group left in Ports BP, at this point, it was just past 5pm.

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One of the hitters in the final group was Bobby Crocker. Here we go…

He BOMBED at ball down the Left Field line, and I broke off sprinting. Other than me and Ryan, there was one other ballhawk out there, a guy in a Giants hat and orange shirt. He was about 50 feet to my right, so he had a much better shot at the ball.

If you go back 2 pictures, you will see yellow caution tape and logs underneath it.

The ball was hit and we both took off running. It looked like the ball was going to hit the pavement, then roll fast, so he broke past the point of the caution tape. I took a direct line towards where the ball was headed, in hopes to cut it off from the other guy. The ball hit a tree, landing in the circle of dirt around the tree.

As he was much closer, he was almost guaranteed the ball. However, as he was running, he tripped on one of the logs. According to Ryan, as well as my dad, he just ATE IT. They both agreed if he hadn’t done so, I would have had no chance with the ball.

As soon as I picked up the ball, I heard Ryan yell “NICK THIS ONE’S YOU!” I looked up and the ball was coming straight for me. The other guy was still phased from his spill, so he hadn’t caught up with me. I took a few steps forward, in a perfect spot to catch it on the bounce. I got the ball on the bounce,

As soon as I caught the ball, the guy came running up from behind me and gave me a hard slap on the arm, in an attempt to knock the ball out of my glove.

I didn’t let go of either ball and came back to join my dad and Ryan.

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That guy didn’t move from this spot for the rest of Ports BP. He was pissed that he had fallen and not gotten either ball.

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How pissed was he? A ball landed 10 feet to his right and he didn’t move to go pick it up. Ryan was able to WALK over and grab it for his 3rd ball of the day!

I finished Ports BP with 3 balls, the same as Ryan.

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Then came the Giants BP…

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Quickly, I got a ball in Giants BP, when Ricky Oropesa lined a ball over the Ports bullpen.

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It hit the base to the scoreboard and more or less stopped. Ryan figured there was no way to get it, but I reached under the fence and picked it up for my 4th ball on the day!

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Neither of us got any balls up until the points at which the gates opened.

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We headed back at 5:20, to join Vanessa, who had stayed in line, saving us all a spot. The gates opened at 5:35, and I headed right for the berm in right-center field.

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Soon, a ball was hit back behind the inflatable kids slide in right field. I ran over and picked it up for ball #5.

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I then ran over to the RF wall, where Edward Concepcion was picking up a ball. Without having to ask, he tossed it to me for ball #6. I needed 1 more to reach 100 combined balls.

Moments later, Brock Bond launched a ball high, right at me. I moved back to the edge of the berm and secured it in my glove. Ball 100!

I know most people don’t think this is a big deal, it’s “cheap to count them together. Think of it this way. Ichiro is almost at 4000 hit combined between Japan and MLB. That’s still a big deal, right?

About 5 minutes later, I was joined by Ryan, who hadn’t snagged any balls inside. He then walked over to the slide and picked up two balls that were just sitting there. HOW HAD I NOT SEEN THEM. I felt ridiculously stupid, however he had missed one, and I picked it up for #8 on the day!

BP then came to a close, at which point I ran down to the cage, in hopes of snagging a ball that was lying around. I spotted a ball sitting by the Ports dugout and called out to Chris Lofton who picked it up and tossed it to me. It turned out to be an MLB ball! I then put it in my backpack and took one out, giving it to the nearest kid.

At this point, I joined back up with Ryan and Vanessa, as we sat in our seats and talked for roughly half an hour.

We then noticed Bruce Maxwell, the Ports catcher (Whom I had mentioned earlier in the entry), signing autographs down the right field line.

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Ryan, Vanessa, and I headed over there, where Ryan and I both got him to sign a ball for us. Bruce is a class act!
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Meanwhile, this guy was busy getting photos and cards signed.

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We headed back to our seats and talked for another 10 or so minutes, as the Ports began to warm up.
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Over on the 3rd base side, the Giants were doing the same.

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One interesting thing I noticed was that the Giants had brought a bat boy with them, so there was no need for the usual guy in a Ports uniform to sit in the dugout. My guess is that he is the manger’s son.
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As both teams were starting to play catch, I swung over to the Ports team store to get a new hat, as my current one was a size too small and about to cut off the circulation to the rest of my body.

I emerged from the team store, stuck on my *San Jose* Giants hat, and ran down to where they were finishing up with catch, where I failed to get a ball.

Ryan, Vanessa, and I once again reconvened behind the Giants dugout to talk for a little while longer, where we saw something quite amusing take place.. A 3 year-old boy was celebrating his birthday at the game, and the Ports let him throw out the first pitch. He was also going to say play ball before the game got underway, so after the first pitch, he hung out by the Ports dugout.

He made several attempts to run onto the field, being scooped up and carried back to the on-deck circle by people including his mother, Jeremy (The Ports In-Game host), as well as one of the umpires.

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It’s the little things that make you smile.

Around 7:10, the national anthem was sung.
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And it was time to play some baseball!

Ryan and I headed out to the parking lot to chase foul balls, as the Ports allow unlimited re-entry privileges.

On the mound for the Ports was James Simmons

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In the bottom of the first inning, Bobby Crocker stepped to the plate to lead off the Ports half of the first. He popped a pitch over the roof and the ball settled under a car. I ran over and picked it up! It was my 3rd straight MiLB game with a foul ball!

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Meanwhile, on the mound for the Giants was Kelvin Marte

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He struggled in the 2nd inning, but came back strong after that.

Will showed up in the first inning, as he was pulling a doubleheader. He went to the A’s game in Oakland, went to an Eric Sogard signing in Dublin, then came to the Ports game.

Anyway… He has a great relationship with Ports manager Webster Garrison, or “Webby.”

Every time Webby would jog over to the 3rd base coach’s box, he points to Will, as Will yells “Webby!”

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He’s a really cool dude!
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One thing Vanessa had been mentioning throughout the game was how she loved Ryan Cavan’s mustache. I can understand why!

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Oh, and also in the 2nd inning, Antonio Lamas and Dusty Robinson hit back to back home runs!

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The Ports had the 3-1 lead after 2 innings, but starting in the 3rd inning, San Jose came charging and never looked back. They scored 1 run in 3rd inning, as well as the 4th inning, then added on 2 in the 5th, and 3 more in the 7th, making it 8-3 at the 7th inning stretch.

I spent the first 6 innings in the parking lot, chasing foul balls, as well as talking with a ballhawk named John, who had just moved from Omaha to Reno. Really cool guy! He’s been to over 40 Minor League stadiums and is going to be starting an MLBlog soon, so keep on the lookout!

I only had the 1 foul ball after the first 6 innings, so I decided to come back inside and go for 3rd out balls and actually enjoy a bit of the game.

Remember that bat boy I talked about earlier? I found it kind of funny that he was wearing a Stockton Ports helmet with the rest of his San Jose uniform.

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Seriously though, Ryan Cavan has an amazing mustache!

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In the top of the 7th, San Jose tacked on those 3 runs against one of the newer Ports relievers, Schaffer Hall.

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He had started the season with the Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League, but after playing a game with the River Cats (And Getting the win, might I add), he was sent down to Stockton, where he started 7 of his first 8 games, and has been in the bullpen since.

Jeff Soptic came in to pitch the 7th inning for the Giants. Not only is his name cool, but he makes fantastic faces on the mound.

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In that bottom of the 7th, the Ports scored 3 runs, shortening the Giants lead to 8-5.

In the top of the 8th, I hung out by the Ports dugout, in hopes of snagging a foul ball or 3rd out ball. Eric Sim struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt to end the inning, and thankfully Bruce Maxwell kept the ball. I called out to him, he recognized me from pre-game, and tossed me the ball.

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It was my 11th ball on the day, a new all-time record for me! Since Bruce is one of Vanessa and Ryan’s favorite players, they thought the ball was pretty cool!
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In the bottom of the 9th, I moved myself down close to the Giants dugout in hopes of getting their lineup card, or a broken bat, as there had been one earlier in the game.

However, there was a scare in the 9th inning. With 1 out, and runners on 1st and 2nd, Myrio Richard was hit in the head with a pitch from Derek Law.

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It was scary. How scary? Ryan almost caught the ball. He was sitting in the first row, and the ball nearly landed in his glove, but he appropriately decided it would be inappropriate to make a real attempt for the ball, given what had just happened.

He ended up only being a bit shaken up, so he loaded the bases, brining the winning run to the plate with only 1 out, as Myrio representing the tying run.

Josh Whitaker and B.A. Vollmuth both struck out, sealing the 8-5 W for San Jose.
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After the game, I rushed down to the Giants dugout to try and get the lineup card. I asked the Giants manager, Andy Skeels for it, but he gave me a look like I was an alien, peeled the lineup card off, and put it in his binder. I then asked Lipso Nava, their hitting coach for the broken bat. He asked me why I would want a splintered bat, but before I could respond, he left the dugout.

At this point, I left for the Ports dugout, just hoping that there lineup card would still be there. I asked both Myrio and Bruce for the card, but neither of them was “allowed” to give it to me.

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I ended up asking the bat boy, and he peeled it off and gave it to me!

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Then, Ryan popped his head out from next to the dugout with what? THE BROKEN BAT!

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How cool is that?!?

We then got a group picture, Ryan holding his bat, me holding the lineup card and 4 balls, and Vanessa holding the other 6 baseballs I snagged on the day.

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My dad then got a picture of me with the lineup card (Which was typed) and all of my baseballs from the day in my MLB Network drawstring backpack.

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Then, Ryan noticed what he thought was a stat sheet, so he called over Jeremy, the Ports in-game host. He peeled it off the wall, and it turned out to be from the last game Ports Ryan had been at, on July 19th!

At that point, we had noticed the Rosin bag sitting on the dugout bench, so Vanessa asked Jeremy if we could hold it.

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I got a picture with it.

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And so did Vanessa.

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COOL STUFF!

And no, I didn’t get to keep it. As much as I would have wanted to, there is a 50% chance it had been on Tim Hudson’s head at some point, and I don’t really want to run that risk. Not only that, but there is a good chance it will spontaneously combust.

But the best reason of all for not keeping it was given to me by Chris Kusiolek (@Oak_AllDay on Twitter)

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I asked Jeremy if they really need it that bad, but he said they do, so there goes that….

Anyway… it was a REALLY fun day! I had a great tim ballhawking with Ryan (We snagged 19 balls combined) and it was a lot of fun to hang out with him and Vanessa for the day. Hopefully I’ll be back at Banner Island soon!

BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 20th Game of the Year… 6th MiLB Game of the Year
  • 11 balls at this game
  • 47 MiLB Balls in 6 MiLB Games = 7.83 MiLB Balls Per Game
  • 12 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 6 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 5 Balls
  • 62 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
  • 104 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.

5/27/13 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?

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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

300x50_mlblogs_top100

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.

4/29/13 at the Oakland Coliseum

Boy oh boy! Today was a long day!

First off, today was Josh Hamilton Appreciation night. Basically, Wes, out in RF (@RFWes on Twitter) came up with the idea of holding Josh Hamilton Appreciation night, in honor of Hamilton dropping the ball in game 162 to allow the A’s to pull ahead, winning the game and AL West division. Over the course of the next day, there were a lot of articles about the event. The Dallas Morning News, Sports Illustrated’s Swingin’ A’s blog, Fox 4 in Dallas, Fox Sports Southwest, NESN, ESPN Dallas, NBC’s Hardball Talk, the MLB Fan Cave, MLB.com’s Cut4, and NBC Dallas all covered the event! WOW!

When I got home from Reggie Jackson bobblehead day, Adam Olson, who designed this blog’s logo and is famous for his A’s Shirts, posted on Facebook that he couldn’t make it to Monday’s game, and he was offering his tickets for free to the first person that messaged him.  I took advantage, and he was more than willing to give me his 2 seats in Section 124 for the game.

Over the course of the day, I captured some pretty cool moments on video, which you can check out here:

Conveniently, on Monday, I had a doctor’s appointment nearby his place, so after school got out at 3:05, my entire family headed out to pick up the tickets. Once we had picked up the tickets at around 3:45, we made the quick drive to my doctor’s office, for the 4pm appointment.

It took a little longer than expected, as I was hoping to catch the 4:35 BART Train to Oakland, but the appointment ended around 3:35, so my dad dropped my mom and I off at 4:45, just in time to catch the 4:50 train to Oakland.

After getting off and transferring to a different station, we made it to the Coliseum BART station at 5:25, just 10 minutes before the gates opened. I ran from the station to the Coliseum, to find a VERY short line. Here is a bad shot of the line in front of me.

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I’d say that by 5:35, maybe 10 people were behind me.

There was only one person checking bags, and one person scanning tickets, but once I got inside, even though my ticket was not for the bleachers, I sprinted out to RF. It appeared as Pujols, Trumbo, Trout, and Hamilton had all finished taking their hacks, as I didn’t see any of them during Batting Practice.

I was on the board quickly. After getting to the bleacher around 5:40, I got my first ball almost immediately  As soon as I ran into the bleachers, I saw a ball hit the wall in Right-Center.  I ran over there, Michael Kohn walked over, picked the ball up, and tossed it up to me after I called out for it.

Ball #2 was the next pitch hit by the same batter, fielded by former Atheltic Joe Blanton. I called out to him, and I had two balls within 30 seconds, less than 6 minutes within the gates opening.

My 3rd ball of the day came 3 minutes later, it was hit to dead center field, Jerome Williams fielded it, and after noticing and identifying his pink glove thanks to my memory of Mateo Fischer’s blog entry, I called out to him, and he tossed it up!

3 balls within 10 minutes of the gates opening, all within 5 minutes of each other!

By this time, most of the players in RF and CF had seen me call out for balls, and considering nobody was hitting it to LF, BP was “dead.”

I focused my attention on this man:
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That would be Mr. Josh “Butterfingers” Hamilton!

Why? I noticed that he had struck up a conversation with the RF bleacher folks!

IMG_9717They tossed some Butterfinger candies onto the field for him.
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Which he enjoyed! He had a very long conversation with the 20-or-so folks out in RF;

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And they all loved it!

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I think he loved the fact that they were doing this!

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And they loved the fact he was so willing to participate!

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At this point, a majority of the balls being hit were hit down the RF line, so I headed to the RF corner, in the BBQ Terrace.
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This was the scene to the right.

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CJ Wilson (Right) and Ernesto Freiri (49) were patrolling the RF area.

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This camera was right below me.
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Then, I noticed this guy in RF.

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That would be Alex Espinosa, of MLB.com’s Cut4. Go ahead and follow him on Twitter here.

He was busy taking pictures and filming.
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Here is the video from the night that he got:

Hamilton was enjoying the Butterfingers.

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And he posed for photos.

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Alex got busy taking notes on what was happening.

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I got a chance to talk with him, along with Wes (Right) and Ralliney (Middle)

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I saw this coach on the Angels toss this ball up to a young fan in the first row.

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As you can see, Left Field was PACKED!

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Welp. There was nothing hit out there. Very few toss-ups.

While I was wandering around the BBQ Terrace in Right Field, I looked down to the stairs behind the Right Field wall.
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I ran back and forth between the Terrace and Bleachers A LOT.

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But the cages broke down…
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And I got a picture of Wes and “Dreamkiller” (Left) with their butterfingers.

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Ralliney got this shot of me with my 3 balls and my AMAZING shirt.

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As well of this photo of me taking pictures:

946653_10152790703280788_1018542732_nRoss was out in the Bleachers, as always, with a pretty awesome shirt!
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Everyone was having a great time!

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WITH THEIR BUTTERFINGERS!!!
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There were lots of All Star Ballots in the Bleachers. REMEMBER. VOTE GREEN AND GOLD IN 2013!!!

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Then, I decided to head off to my ticketed seat, where my mom got this photo of me with my 3 BP balls.

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This was my view. Not too bad!

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To  my right…

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And my left…

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Around 6:40, I headed back to the bleachers.

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Everyone was shuffling in.

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And Ross held his #ReddickRallyHair.

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Confused? Watch this video…

Now watch this video…

Now you are all caught up to speed!

Everyone was posing with their Butterfingers!!

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You know how I was wearing my “He Dropped It” shirt, designed by Adam Olson? Well… He updated the design, and many people in the bleachers were wearing it!

Alex got this photo of the two of us. Alex actually writes a blog as well called BayMode, and he has an entry up about this game, including lots of pictures from the bleachers! You can check out his blog here and his entry about this game here.

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Vanessa got it from this angle:

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In the words of Will MacNeil, “CURSE YOU PAPARAZZI!!!”

Arlene got this photo of Vanessa and I

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Don’t ask me about my eyes. I don’t know.

Anson (one of the RF Die-hards that I haven’t mentioned much on this blog) showed up shortly after I did.
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This may be the best prop I saw all night.

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Seriously. How amazing is that?

Satoshi and Keita were wearing these awesome hats.

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I had to pose wearing one as well.

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The ceremonial first pitch was quite entertaining.

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And Tony started distributing bags of the #ReddickRallyHair

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Remember that video of Alex Interviewing Tony? Here he is doing so. Cool camera, huh?

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Here is Tony explaining everything

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Remember… You can watch the video here.

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The umpires met at home plate…

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And we were ready to go!!

Right before the first pitch, my camera battery died. Of course, the second battery was in my backpack on the COMPLETE opposite side of the stadium… So I *SPRINTED* to my seat, grabbed the battery along with another spare, and sprinted back. I got to the bleachers just in time to see Josh Hamilton’s first plate appearance.

Alex LOVED it!

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When Josh came out in the bottom of the first, you could tell he did too!

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Tracey was flashing here sign and glove!

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You could tell Hamilton loved it all.

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After the first inning, I went over and spent the 2nd inning with my mom by the dugout before heading out to the bleachers again. I grabbed a seat on the left side of section 149, right behind Omar Gonzalez and his daughter Rhema.

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He has a lot of pretty awesome signs!

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Meanwhile, Tommy Hanson was on the mound for the Halos.

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Okay, okay. I know you all just want pictures of everyone in right field.

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Shin was just in front of me.

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Ready for a story?

Every night, the sun sets in Oakland. Every night game, the sun sets right behind the 3rd base dugout. Eventually, it is directly behind one of the staircases int he 3rd deck.

And the Sun Hole was born.

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I still can’t get over how amazing Tracey’s glove was!

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Like I went back and forth during BP between the Terrace and Bleachers, I went back and forth between 124 and the Bleachers during the game.
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While I was sitting with my mom, she got a lot of awesome pictures!

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It was weird to be on the other end of the stadium, watching the bleachers.
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But like I said, my mom got some AWESOME shots.

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Early into the game, there was a fielder’s interference of some sort… It was quite frustrating to the Angels…

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The Umpire was clapping…

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ERIC SOGARD NERD POWER!!!

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Strikeout machine Dan Straily was on the mound for the A’s.

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Jed Lowrie also got hit by not just one pitch….

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But two. Can you find the ball? FYI, I took this picture 🙂

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While I was sitting over there, you know what I was thinking? It must be awesome to be the A’s bat boy down the LF line. You get to warm up Yoenis Cespedes every inning.

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Soon enough, I was back out in Right Field.

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Sam was holding up this AMAZING sign.

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Like… Amazing!
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Omar was enjoying the game with his daughter Rhema.

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When Hamilton came out to Right Field, he tossed up a ball. Everyone was taking pictures of it…
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The ball had been tossed to Wiggi…

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And she seemed pretty excited about it!

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Here’s a slightly closer look…

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There was something written on the ball!

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More than just something!

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Every side of the ball had something written on it!

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Will seemed to be having a good day!

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Same with Tony!

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After spending another inning or so in the bleachers, I headed back to my mom so that I could take some more pictures.

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Of Eric Sogard…

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Then I handed the camera to my mom so that she could take some pictures of Pat Neshek.

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Seriously, it is fun to take pictures of him!

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Brandon Moss was at first base

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Josh Reddick in Right Field

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Coco Crisp in center.

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Yoenis Cespedes in left field.

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Jed Lowrie at shortstop

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Mike Gallego is the A’s third base coach.

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Mike Trout making a catch at the wall.

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Third Base…

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Josh Donaldson stepped to the plate.

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Derek Norris was due up after him.

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At this point, I headed out to right field again.

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Grant Balfour was beginning to get loose in the bullpen.

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Along with Sean Doolittle.

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In the top of the 9th, Sean Doolittle came into pitch. At this point, my mom joined me in right field, as I was hoping to catch a walk-off home run.

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The A’s had a 4-run 8th inning, so they were down by one run coming into the bottom of the 9th.

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With two outs, Yoenis Cespedes singled to center field, bringing in Coco Crisp to tie it all up at 7!

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You could tell Omar was pretty excited!
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The 9th inning ended in a tie, and we were ready to go into extra innings!

Grant Balfour came in to pitch the 10th inning.

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Time to RAGE!!!

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Balfour shut the Angels down in the 10th.

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At this point, I was amazed that Omar and his wife had stuck along with Rhema.

Vanessa enjoyed playing with her!

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She was pretty excited about free baseball!

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Picture-taking-ception!
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Nobody had any clue what was so special about this game.

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Rhema was getting very tired!
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Grant Balfour pitched the 11th inning as well.

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Moss was still at first base.

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Everyone was enjoying the free baseball!

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I took a lot fo random pictures like this one…
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As you can see, the crowd was starting to thin out.

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Omar was rocking the Coco sign.
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In the 12th, Ryan Cook came in to pitch.

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Then, in the middle of the 12th, they played Call Me Maybe

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Nobody likes that song in Oakland.

Around 11pm, this message was shown on the scoreboard.
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My mom and I had taken BART…. CRAP!!!!

In the bottom of the 12th, this message was shown on the scoreboard. A starter was in the bullpen!
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This was about the time my phone’s battery died…

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Everyone in the right field bleachers was still here.
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Will was moving around with his flag.

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Brandon Moss moved to right field in the 14th inning.

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Around this time, it was about midnight. At 11:50, my mom told me it was time to go, but I did not want to leave!

We called my dad and he offered to come pick us up! WE WERE STAYING TILL THE END!!
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Omar was pretty excited to be there!

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This is what the back of Wes’s head looks like…

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I spent a lot of the extra innings talking with him and Vanessa.

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Omar was having some fun with his drum.

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Around the 14th or 15th inning, my dad showed up!

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Anson was getting his moves on.
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Around this time, it was the 17TH INNING!!!IMG_0957

It was the 17th inning. I was pretty happy!

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Thanks to Arlene, we can all see our RALLY FACES!!!!

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It was EMPTY
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We were having FUN FUN FUN in Right Field.

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I got to try some of this delicious green and gold Lemon Bar

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In the top of the 18th, Brett Anderson left the game with an injury.

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The infielders chatted during the pitching change.

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IT WAS RIDICULOUSLY EMPTY!!

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The person that runs the out-of-town scoreboard in right field was watching the game.

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Everyone was having a great time!

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It was 1:14. MIND BLOWN.

IMG_1001Earlier in the game, the A’s starting DH for the game, Seth Smith had to move to Left Field, after Coco Crisp Cape out, Chris Young replaced him and subsequently was injured, so Yoenis Cespedes had to move from LF to CF, and with Brandon Moss already having replaced Josh Reddick in RF, Smith had to leave the DM spot, meaning a pitcher would have to be in the lineup.

Jerry Blevins stepped to the plate. This gave me 3 points in the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt!
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He actually made contact. FOUL BALL!!!!

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The stadium was almost empty at this point.IMG_1008

Vanessa got this picture of Her, me, and Wes. We were DELERIOUS!!

321470_10102455181762880_1085466090_nThe A’s couldn’t come up with anything in the 18th inning.
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Right field was loud, as usual.
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Blevins pitched the 19th inning as well.

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We were all having lots of fun! It got to the point where I think most of us just wanted the game to be over.
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We were all chanting the names of the broadcasters, from what I hear, they enjoyed very much!

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Basically, just like “Ray Fosse!” *Clap Clap ClapClapClap* “Glen Kuiper!” *Clap Clap ClapClapClap* “Ken Korach!” *Clap Clap ClapClapClap* “Vince Catroneo!” *Clap Clap ClapClapClap*

Remember how I mentioned that my phone’s battery had died? Never to fear! My dad has a smart phone too!

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(Arlene took that photo)

Here is the Tweet I sent out on his phone…

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Then… after a Seth Smith walk, Jed Lowrie grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Seth Smith out at 2nd base.

After that, Yoenis Cespedes struck out swinging, bringing Brandon Moss to the plate with 2 outs.

Following a first pitch strike, this happened.

After 6 Hours and 32 minutes, we were finally going home!

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EVERYONE was happy!

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After we had all been mulling around, someone suggested that we get a group picture of everyone in Right Field that had stayed all 19 innings. Given the fact that my dad was the only one there who hadn’t been at all 19 innings, plus he had his camera, he took the picture.

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Later that night, I tweeted the picture out, posted it on Instagram and Facebook, and over the course of the next 24 hours, it received 80 retweets and 55 favorites on Twitter;  268 Facebook likes, 33 Instagram likes, AND it was featured on Intentional Talk!

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Thanks to Alex Espinosa for tweeting that to me! I probably wouldn’t have seen it without your help!

Then, I got a photo of me with the 3 balls and an empty stadium.

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And it was SO LONG from the Coliseum.

KEEP READING!

Around 10:30am on Monday, I got this Tweet.

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Then, later that evening, I went on with 89.3 KPCC in Southern California to talk about the game. It was my first radio interview! I talked about what it was like to be at the game, how I managed to be there for the entire time, and some of my memories from the day. Go check out their website here. Thank You very much to Rob for inviting me on!

Finally, you know how Adam Olson hooked me up with the tickets to this game? (Thank You again very much Adam!) Well later Tuesday afternoon, he tweeted out this picture…

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He is going to make those shirts available, and YES, I did purchase one! Remember to check out his A’s shirt store here , his Around the League store here, and website here.

There is one more topic that I would like to address  I thought about it long and hard. With so few people left in the stadium, I probably could have snagged A LOT of foul balls, third out balls, and infield warm-up balls. Why did I not?

1) I wanted to enjoy the 19-inning game, rather than run around and be dissapointed every time I didn’t snag a ball.

2) The idea of catching a walk-off home run or a late-inning home run was just too much. I would trade in 10 3rd out balls for a walk-off homer in the 19th inning any day.

Lastly, there was a lot of coverage of the 19-Inning Game, Josh Hamilton Appreciation Night, and a few other RF Bleacher-related things on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk. I compiled it all into this video…

That is all for this entry. WOW! What an incredible day!

BALLHAWKING STATS:

  • 8th Game this Year
  • 3 Balls at this Game
  • 8 balls in 6 MLB games this season = 1.33 Ball Per Game
  • 23 Balls in 8 Games this season = 2.875 Balls Per Game
  • 7 Consecutive Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 Consecutive MLB Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 36 Lifetime MLB Baseballs
  • 66 Total Balls

300x50_mlblogs_top100

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.

4/21/13 at Banner Island Ballpark

This game was going to be me, my dad, and Uncle Seth, who I have mentioned before.

We left our house around 10:50, so we got to Stockton around 11:45.

Throughout the course of the day, before the gates opened, I made another vlog, similar to what I did for this game.

As soon as we got there, we found that nobody was collecting money for parking. FREE PARKING!

I then immediately headed out back for BP.

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As you can see from my tilted picture, there was little action, but the cages WERE set up.

The first batter to step into the cage for the Ports was Addison Russell.

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About 5 minutes after I arrived, look what I had!

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Yeah!

Only the Ports took BP, there were no Nuts players anywhere to be found.

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And believe it or not, the Addison Russell ball was the ONLY one that cleared the bullpen area, despite strong swings.

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Believe it or not, none of the bunts left the yard!

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BP was VERY boring all-told.
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Around 12:20, right when batting practice was coming to a close, the song Milkshake came on over the PA in the stadium. Wade Kirkland was patrolling left field. You know the app called Vine? Well watch this. He was kind of bored. Dance moves were not to bad.

BP came to a close around 12:25 or so, so I decided to walk around the Marina area and ballpark exterior.

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Seriously, how awesome is this?

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As I’m sure most of you know by now, the Stockton Arena sits right next door.
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Basically, I wandered along the waterfront as far as I could go, before I reached the fence of the parking lot.

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At this point, I decided to turn back. On my way back, I saw this…

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I decided to wander around over towards the Pro Shop area.

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In the windows, they have every Ports giveaway since 2005. I noticed these two bobbleheads…IMG_3278

Those will both be giveaways later on this year!

I headed over to the Suite Holder gate to get a better view of inside, where I saw this.

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That lady was writing in the lineups for both teams on the whiteboard in the concourse.

I then decided to head back and get in line.

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I seriously couldn’t wait to get inside!

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There was a table being set up that had a turtle in a cage next to it…IMG_3271

I decided to get a picture with my uncle and the ball I got during BP.

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Then, I got a picture of myself with the ball

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The gates opened at 1:07, and after getting my ticket scanned, I headed over to where a few Nuts players were playing catch and stretching.

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Just out of the frame was the glove of William Rankin. As he finished running, he tossed me his ball.

After I got that ball, I headed over to section 117. Why? It was on-field player photo and autograph day! When I got there, I met up with Will and Ross. At 1:15, we were all led into a roped off area. Players then lined up along the rope, with pens in hand. Remember the logo ball I got in my last Stockton game? I was ready to get some signatures!

The first player I got an autograph from was infielder Max Muncy, who tossed me a ball and hit me a foul ball in my last Stockton game. My dad and uncle were wandering around the stadium, so I was left to use my phone’s camera to get a photo with him.

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Next in line was outfielder Dusty Robinson.

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After getting a picture and autograph from Dusty, I moved on to pitcher Seth Frankoff.

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After Frankoff was pitcher Jose Macias.

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After Macias, I moved on to get an autograph and picture with pitcher Jonathan Joseph.

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Then, I got to talk with Blake Hassebrock.

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After Hassebrock was outfielder Bobby Crocker

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Then, came infielder B.A. Vollmuth (One of the coolest names EVER if you ask me).

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The next guy I got a photo with was outfielder Josh Whitaker.

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The 10th person I got a photo with was the starting pitcher that day, Deyvi Jimenez.

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Then, my dad came down to get a few shots, including this one of me with SS Addison Russell.

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I had an absoluste blast with all of this.

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It was a small space with LOTS of people.

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I couldn’t get pictures with or autographs from all of the guys, so I spent a few minutes talking with Will and Ross, who got lots of photos themselves.

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I also go to talking with Eric and Bridget, who are A’s fans that I believe made the trip with Vanessa.

As you can see in the picture above, Vanessa joined us on the field. Remember her from my last game in Stockton?

She, Will, and I then got a picture with Max Muncy and Ryan Delgado.

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Do you see the phone in the picture above taking a picture of us? That is Vanessa’s, and here is the picture she later posted on Instagram.

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About halfway through the event, I took this panorama of the event, which hopefully captures the chaos of it all.

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Around 1:45, they started wrapping things up, at which point Will had a short conversation with Ports manager Webster Garrison.

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He and Vanessa then got a quick picture with Webby.

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Around 2, I headed over to watch the Ports starting pitcher for the day

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Once he was done warming up, I got this panoramic shot from the LF foul pole.

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Then I headed over to RF to get the same.

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The Ports let a Little Leaguers run on the field with players in this game, for the National Anthem, and it was a very cool sight!

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The National Anthem, as always, was great!

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The Ports sent Deyvi Jimenez to the mound.

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While the Nuts countered with Ben Alsup.

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For the Top of the first, I headed over to behind the Ports dugout in hopes of getting a third out ball.

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I was unsuccessful, and on my way back, I snapped this panoramic.

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For most of the game, I sat down with Will, Ross, Vanessa, Bridget, and Eric, near the first row, chatting.

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In the front row, you have Will, Ross, Eric, Vanessa, and Bridget.

I did, however, spend some time sitting up with my Uncle and Dad, where I was able to get shots of people like this one.

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And of Will…

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With 2 outs at every half inning, I would head behind the dugout of the team on the field and try to get a ball. I was unsuccessful ALL DAY.

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As always, my dad got AMAZING pictures.

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The Ports scored their first run in the bottom of the 2nd.

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Every time Webster Garrison, the Ports manager, walks past the visitng dugout to go coach 3rd Base, Will and a few other fans stand up and yell “WEBBYYYYY!”

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Here he is coaching third base.

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The Nuts manager is Lenn Sakata.

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 As I mentioned earlier, I was very unsuccessful with 3rd out balls, so I enjoyed getting to relax and take lots of pictures!

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I then took these two pictures…

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When I got home, I went into Photoshop and created my first “real,” (And poorly done) panoramic photo.

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One memorable play was when Dusty Robinson came to the plate…

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And there was an interesting play at first…
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Here is Josh Whitaker.

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For me, it was awesome to just sit back, relax, and take pictures.

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In the 8th inning, Bernie Lean came on…

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Can YOU Bernie Lean?

Also in the 8th inning, Juan Crouset stepped to the plate for the Nuts.

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He popped a ball foul a few rows behind me. I misjudged it, but immediately picked it up off the ground. Ball #4! It was my 5th lifetime foul ball, 4th at a MiLB game, and 2nd MiLB game in a row with a foul ball!

Right after I picked it up, I heard a young girl (7 years old maybe) quietly say “Dangit.” Without thinking, I handed the ball to her.

Yes, of course, I would have loved to have kept the ball, and I got PLENTY of backlash for it on Twitter, but it was all worth it to see her so happy with it.

When the Ports came to bat in the bottom of the 8th, Nelson Gonzalez went into his second inning of work out of the bullpen.

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But, he blew the lead…

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Ryan Ortiz had hit a go-ahead home run!

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And it was high fives all around!

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Jordan Ribera and Taylor Featherston watched as a new pitcher took his warm up tosses.

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Modesto called upon Kenneth Roberts to get the final two outs of the inning.

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Thankfully for the Nuts, he was able to escape the inning, but not before allowing another run!

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In the top of the 9th inning, the Ports were ahead 4-2, so I headed over to my ticketed seat for the first time all game, located right next to the Nuts dugout. At that point, I was hoping to get the lineup card after the game, so I put on my Nuts hat. Will was VERY disappointed in me. He then took this picture of me.

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That is my “I know I’m a Ports fan but I have to do this” face.

Jonathan Joseph came on for the Ports to lock down the save.

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And the Ports had won!

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Some people were getting pictures…
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… But I was sticking my head into the dugout to try and get the lineup card.

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As soon as I got there, I asked the Nuts manager for the lineup card, but he ignored me and left. Then, Brian Humphries walked over, saw a pile of balls on top of the bat rack and tossed one to me without saying a word. He then tossed out 6 more to other kids that were crowding around the dugout.

Soon, I saw a clubhouse attendant in a rockies hat, shirt, and shorts (The Nuts are a Rockies affiliate) walk over. I asked him for the lineup card, and look!

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I thanked him and headed up the stairs, where everyone else was standing. Vanessa snapped this picture of me on her phone of me with the lineup card.BIbR5i_CQAA-tAO

We then got a group picture. From left to right… Bridgett, Will, Vanessa, MEEEEE, Ross, Eric, and my Uncle Seth.IMG_4270

As we were heading out, I noticed it was “Kids Run the Bases” day.IMG_4273

Once we left, I headed to Ross’s car to pick up my 2013 RF Bleacher shirt (To debut in my next game entry) and then headed back to meet up with my dad and uncle.

Cool stuff. Great game.

Thanks for reading!

BALLHAWKING STATS:
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  • 6th Game of the Year… 2nd MiLB Game of the Year
  • 5 balls at this game
  • 19 balls in 6 games this season = 3.16 Balls Per Game
  • 15 MiLB Balls in 2 MiLB Games = 7.5 MiLB Balls Per Game
  • 4 MiLB Foul Balls
  • 5 Lifetime Foul Balls
  • 5 Consecutive Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 8 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 5 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 2 Consecutive MiLB Games with 1 Foul Bal
  • 30 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
  • 62 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.

4/5/13 at Banner Island Ballpark

On April 2nd, I wrote a short email to the Ports, asking for a Press Pass for the game on Friday, April 5th, and I got a quick reply back saying yes! I emailed them back, asking for one for my dad, since he would be accompanying me to the game, and they agreed to that as well! Thank You very much to the Ports organization for giving me this opportunity!

After the game, on the drive home, I got a quick photo of the pass.

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This was going to me my first MiLB game of the 2013 season, and my first one since last September in Modesto. It was my first Ports game since May 2012.

We arrived at Banner Island Ballpark around 4:45, just under and hour and a half before the gates were supposed to open.

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As soon as we parked, I ran out to the area behind left field. On my way, I peeked in to make sure there was BP, a what do you know? The Ports were taking batting practice!

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I immediately sprinted out to the area behind left field. Here is an ariel view of Banner Island Ballpark. I’ll let you guess where I headed.

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LOOK at that area behind LF.

As I was running, I heard someone yell “GO! NOW!” I looked up to see a ball heading towards me. I tracked it into my glove, and I already had my first ball on the day.

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Ports BP was pretty boring…

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I mean, as a fan, it was lots of fun to watch!

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If you go back up a few pictures, do you see that kid holding on to the fence? Well he was there with his dad and 3 brothers and I felt bad for him and his brothers. Every time a ball was even hit remotely close, the dad would yell “Go! Now!” and his kids would groan and take off running.

I could tell none of them wanted to be there, or for that matter enjoyed baseball. They not only retrieved hit balls for their dad, but after being told what to say and who the player was, would call out to players on the field for toss-ups…

Yep…

The Blaze players were beginning to stretch and warm up along the LF line.

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As I continued ballhawking, my dad began to walk around the stadium to get some pictures.

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The Stockton Marina was looking gorgeous

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Absolutely amazing.

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Ryan Delgado and Sean Murphy were talking it up in the outfield

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Everyone gives Stockton a bad rep, but it is an amazing city.

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This is the walkway between the ballpark and water.

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There is this outdoor seating area right behind the stadium.IMG_7208There was this ball just sitting under the table…

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Once the Ports BP had ended, I only had one ball, but an employee walked by and tossed me that ball for ball #2 on the day.

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Yep! It was a Major League Baseball!

Once Ports BP came to a close, that dad and son that I had mentioned earlier ended up walking away, giving me Blaze BP all to myself!

On their way out, I noticed this ball in the employee parking lot for the Stockton Arena.

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I never found a way to get that ball…

In between the next few pictures, I will explain how I got the rest of my BP balls, during Blaze BP.

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Ball #3 was a sharp line drive that hit the concrete and slowly rolled out of the stadium, right into my glove.

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This guy hit a ball that cleared the bullpen, bounced in the seats behind the bullpen, and out of the stadium, right into my glove for ball #4 on the day!

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One of these guys, I can’t remember who, tossed me my 5th ball on the day.

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If I am not mistaken, it was Sean Buckley, a first baseman on the Blaze who I tweeted earlier in the day!

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He just turned around, asked me if I wanted a ball, and tossed it to me!

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Pretty awesome that he actually kept up on his word! Go check him out on Twitter @seanbuckley08!

The Blaze had a lot of lefty power, so they were pulling a lot of pitches out to RF, where it is almost impossible to get a ball outside of the stadium.

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At 6, BP was still going strong, despite the gates opening at any moment.

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Since the gates were going to be opening at any moment, I ran over to get in line with my dad. He had already gotten in line, so there were not to many people in front of us. That gave me 5 balls in Batting Practice alone. My previous MLB and MiLB high for a single game was 6, which I did in July 2012 in San Jose and August 2012 in Oakland!.

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I looked inside to see the cages all the way down and the Blaze taking infield.

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The giveaway for the game was a ball with the Ports new alternate logo on it.
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At 6:09, when the gate finally opened, this was the scene behind us.

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I immediately sprinted down to our seats, where I ran down to check out our seats.

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Do you see the person walking towards the dugout, from home plate? He had a few balls in his glove and tossed me one for ball 6 of the day, which I failed to photograph.

I then decided to do a little ballpark exploring…

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I started out in the LF corner…
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And moved on to Left Field

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Where I walked past the bullpens and seating area.

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I walked around the rest of the outfield before making it to the RF corner.

In the right field corner, there is a small set of stairs that go up and then over and down this utility tunnel that is where the cages, etc.. are kept.

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This is the RF corner

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And then I made it to the Ports dugout, on the first base side.

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My dad got this really cool picture of a member of the grounds crew adding extra dirt to the base lines.

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They were also raking the lines.

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Up behind the Ports dugout is the indoor batting cage. The Ports were all suited up in their new Friday alternate unis, never before worn!

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In order to decide the hitting order, some guys were playing rock, paper, scissors.

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On my way back to my seat, I saw this little baseball-card dispenser, that I thought was really cool! I WILL be bringing quarters to my next Ports game!

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Once we got back to our seats, I posed with my 6 balls so far, right next to our seats.

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Yep. That’s how short the fence is. You can see I was standing right next to the dugout. Our seats were in the first row, the one that my glove was sitting next to, and the seat next to it. Isn’t that awesome!

Here is a quick peak into the dugout.

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Here is a panoramic shot from our seats

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Here was my ticket from the day.
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Soon enough, after a bit of relaxing, both teams started to take the field to warm up.

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I immediately headed over to where the Ports were warming up, with one goal in mind: Get Addison Russell‘s autograph!

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SUCCESS! I got him to sign my ticket! (Which I forgot to photograph)

*Note that the Ports wear WHITE belts with these uniforms*

Once I was finished up there, I put on my Reds hat and Blaze shirt and headed over to where the Blaze were warming up.

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My dad headed over to where the Ports were beginning to play catch.
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Even when I was on the opposite side of the stadium, I had an eye on 19-year-old Addison Russell.

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There was lots of autograph signing taking place.

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Then my dad headed over to where the Blaze were playing catch.

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I didn’t get any balls during warm-ups. That’s all.

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Look who was sitting just to our right…

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It’s Will! For those of you who don’t know (WHY DON’T YOU KNOW HIM BY NOW?), that is bleacher regular Will MacNeil, the man behind the Balfour Rage!

Around the bottom of the 1st inning, Benjamin Christensen (Who I saw on Opening Day and April 3rd in Oakland and was one of the 9 MLB Fan Cave Dwellers in 2012) and Vanessa Demske (Who was a Top-30 MLB Fan Cave contestant in 2013) arrived!

I probably spent 2/3 of the game sitting and talking with the 3 of them. Great people!

Since we were sitting so close to the field, my dad was able to get some really cool close-ups of players, like this one..

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And this one…

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And this one…

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And this one…

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The game was just about to get underway…

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The National Anthem was performed…

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And we were ready to go!

Blake Hassebrock was on the mound for Stockton.

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And he escaped the first inning relatively unharmed.

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With two outs in the top of the first, I jogged over to the Ports dugout, where I was tossed the 3rd out ball by Maxwell Muncy. It was my 7th on the day.

I had officially broken my record for not only most balls snagged at a MiLB game, but most balls ever snagged at a baseball game.

Addison Russel lead off for the Ports

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There was a pitch thrown high and tight to him…

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I liked this picture a lot.

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Carlos Contreras was on the bump for the Blaze.

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Josh Whitaker was batting in the three hole for Stockton.