Category: Wade Kirkland

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

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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.

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This is Maxwell Muncy, who tossed me the ball in the top of the 1st.

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The bottom of the 1st ended with a strikeout, and catcher Chris Berset tossed the ball to me on his walk in to the dugout. Ball 8 on the day!

This is the umpire…

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Here are the infielders standing around in the infield during a pitching change…IMG_8010

In the top of the 7th, I headed back over to the Ports dugout once again to try and snag a third out ball. 2nd Baseman Wade Kirkland had recorded the final out of the inning, and tossed me a ball that I had to jump pretty high for, but caught it. (There was nobody near me) Ball 9 on the day!

Then, in the bottom of the 7th, Wade Kirkland fouled off a ball that skipped over the railing right next to the dugout, straight into my glove for ball 10 on the day!

Once the game came to a close, I rushed over to the Blaze dugout in attempts to get the lineup card, but I was shoved out of my way by a 30-year old man who yelled out “Ken! Can I get dat lineup card pleazz?” Griffey Sr. smiled, pulled the tape off the card, and walked towards the clubhouse, lineup card in hand.

From there, I headed over to where Ben, Will, and Vanessa were, where I snapped a picture of the three of them.

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Then, I got a picture with them, each of them holding two of the balls I snagged.

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It was a great game! If you remember from my Opening Day entry, Ben has a blog of his own, called Hats and Tats: A Lifestyle.

You can click on the name of Will, Ben, and Vanessa to follow them each on Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

BALLHAWKING STATS:IMG_8057

  • 4th Game of the Year… 1st MiLB Game of the Year
  • 3 MiLB Foul Balls
  • 10 balls at this game
  • 13 balls in 4 games this season = 3.25 Balls Per Game
  • 10 MiLB Balls in 1 MiLB Game = 10 MiLB Balls Per Game
  • 3 Consecutive Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 7 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 4 Consecutive MiLB Games with at least 3 Balls
  • 25 Lifetime Minor League baseballs
  • 56 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.