April was an incredible month for me to say the least. Over the course of the month, I went to 8 Major League Baseball games and snagged 17 balls. I also went to 2 Minor League Baseball games and snagged 9 balls. I’ll be going in chronological order, starting out with the Bay Bridge exhibition series. You can click any of my ball totals that are in parentheses to see my MyGameBalls.com entry from the game!
4/2/15 at AT&T Park (3 balls)
While these first two games were technically exhibition games that don’t count in the standings, I’m going to count by ballhawking stats from these games with with my regular season stats because the attendance was equal to that of a regular season game, plus they were played at Major League Stadiums between Major League teams.
My dad and I hadn’t been to a game in San Francisco since 2013, so I was excited to be back, even though it is the home of the Giants.
I had no luck from a ballhawking standpoint during Giants BP, but it did end pretty quickly after I got in, so there were not many chances anyway. I was excited when the A’s took the field though, as I was decked out in A’s gear, so I expected to get a few balls. My first ball of the day was a tossup from A’s pitcher Brock Huntzinger. After he did finished routine catch at the start of BP, he jogged out to the outfield with the ball still in his glove. He looked into the crowd, spotted me and fired me the ball for my first of the day!
Ball #2 was a Mark Canha home run, which I had to run about 5 or 7 rows back for. AT&T Park has typical bleacher seating, with no seat backs, which makes it easier for ballhawks to run through the seats. Canha’s homer landed near the top of the section and I was able to catch it on the bounce.
The rest of A’s BP was pretty dead, Billy Butler and Brett Lawrie hit some good shots, but they were either too far away from me, or just didn’t make it over the fence. For me, one of the best parts of Batting Practice was seeing A’s farmhand and family friend Seth Frankoff decked on the field, in green and gold. The A’s had called him up for the exhibition series, so he was suited up alongside the rest of the team.I stayed in the outfield until the end of BP, so I could not say hello to him. However, when I did get over to my seat down the first base line, I found several other members of the A’s Right Field Bleacher crew hanging out. After talking with everyone for a while, A’s catcher Stephen Vogt posed for a picture with us.Here is how the picture turned out, it was a selfie taken by Bryanne! After that picture, my dad got a shot of me with the two balls that I snagged during A’s BP. I put the two balls away and noticed A’s bullpen catcher Casey Chavez walking out towards the bullpen area. He had a ball in his hand, so I called out to him and he flipped it my way, my 3rd and final ball on the day. The game got underway just after 7, here is the view from our seats. During the game, I found out that one of my friends from school was also at the game, and that she had pretty good seats. I met up with her in the concourse and followed her through a maze of tunnels, emerging here… Holy Toledo! We were literally a few rows behind home plate. Even though I didn’t have a ticket for the seat, I was able to sit there for about an inning before I was kicked out. While I was leaving, a streaker jumped onto the field and my dad was able to get a lot of great pictures of him. After being kicked out, I went up to the Right Field area, where several members of the Bleacher crew were. While we were up there, we got to see switch pitcher Pat Venditte pitch in person, which was really special! I stayed in Right Field for the final 3 innings. The TV cameras ended up finding us towards the end, here is a screen grab! After the A’s closed out the game, Bryanne took another selfie of the bleacher people.
It was a great day and I could not wait to be back at the Coliseum in two days!
4/4/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (5 balls)
This was my first time back at the Coliseum since September of 2014 and I was incredibly excited. As soon as my family got to the stadium, I went to the team store and picked up a shirsey for my favourite player on the A’s, Brett Lawrie. Afterwards, I took a picture of Will and the newest banner for the bleachers! Since Seth was with the team for this 3-game series, Will wanted to make sure we had a banner for him! Will then took this fantastic photo of me and my family! When the gates opened around 11, the A’s were in the middle of Batting Practice, and I was stoked for it! My first ball of the day was a tossup from Seth, who was standing on the field right below Section 149. My second ball of the day was a Matt Olson home run, which I gave away to a bleacher friend. Ball #3 was a tossup from A’s pitcher Kendall Graveman, who they acquired from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade during the offseason. That was my last ball of A’s BP, but I wasn’t the only person in my family who snagged a ball… My mom also got a ball, her first ever baseball ever at a professional game, and it was a home run during A’s BP! One thing to note would be the scoreboards for this game… While the A’s had replaced and upgraded the scoreboards in the offseason, they were still displaying the old format on the new ones, missing pixels and all. There was a big unveil scheduled for Opening Day!
I had 3 balls at the end of A’s BP and I was hungry for more, so I was excited for Giants Batting Practice to start.I went to left field for the first few groups of Giants BP and quickly came up with an Angel Pagan home run, which he ripped down the line. After this, I went back to right field, where Hunter Strickland tossed me up a ball, my 5th of the day! That was it for me during BP, here is a picture that Will took of me and the 4 balls I kept from the day. As usual, I was sitting in Section 149 of the RF Bleachers, so this was my view for the game. While Drew Pomeranz started the game for Oakland, it was incredibly special to get the chance to see former Athletic Barry Zito in an A’s uniform for the first time since 2006. The pitcher that followed Zito in the game was Doolittle. Not all-star closer Sean Doolittle, but his brother, Ryan, who also pitches in the A’s organization. He, like Frankoff, was called up for this series. Speaking of Seth Frankoff… Guess who pitched the 8th inning for the A’s? You guessed it, it was Seth! And he did an amazing job, striking out all 3 San Francisco hitters he faced in the inning. Like they did with the main scoreboards, the A’s also displayed the old ribbon boards along the second deck. The A’s ended up losing 2-1, but it was still a really fun day, considering I snagged 5 baseballs and got to see Barry Zito, Ryan Doolittle and Seth Frankoff all pitch in person. Opening Day was 2 days away…
4/6/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (1 ball)
Opening Day! This was my 3rd straight Opening Day in Oakland I was stoked! The day started off very early, with some tailgating. We hung out with the Section 148 crew in the parking lot, where there was lots of cornhole action going on, including Ryan (left) and Bryanne and Tike (right).Fellow 149er James (Also known as DJ Eden Roc) DJ’d the tailgate, which was a lot of fun.
After spending time at the 148 tailgate, I headed over to the tailgate hosted by the local clothing company, Oaklandish, where they had a prize wheel set up, which you can see Carlos (left) and Satoshi (right) spinning below!On our way up to the gate, we ran into Will MacNeil, one of the most well-known bleacher folks, as he is the creater of the Balfour Rage.
The A’s starting pitcher for this game was Sonny Gray, who led the A’s to an 8-0 victory, their first Opening Day win since 2004. WowAfter the game, my mom, sister and I took a picture together.
All in all, this was a great day. I snagged a ball, the A’s won and I had a great time with my family and friends!
4/10/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (2 balls)
This was the first real giveaway game of the season and it was going to be a popular one: a Sonny Gray replica jersey. But it wasn’t just any jersey, it was a road jersey. So it was a Sonny Gray grey jersey. Good stuff. Well my family got to the Coliseum super early, well before the gates opened.
When the gates opened at 5:05, we headed inside. Check out how huge the line outside was? Crazy!
Once inside, the A’s were already well into BP, with two groups done hitting and a third almost done.
Long story short, I was shut out during the A’s portion of BP. After the A’s left the field, the Mariners took the field and began throwing.
My first ball of the day was a tossup in right field from Mariners pitcher Yoervis Medina. I used a ball retrieval device to snag my second and last ball of the day off the out-of-town scoreboard. In case you’re wondering, I taped together two flags and put some duct tape on the end of one to pick up the ball. I ended up giving away both balls that I snagged at this game.
After A’s Batting Practice, a group of bleacher folks took a cool picture. Given that Friday, April 10th was National Sibling Day, all of the groups of siblings that sit in the bleachers got together for a group shot. From left to right in the back row, you have sisters Amber and Rebekah, myself and my sister Pascale and sisters Kimberlee and Amanda. In the front, Taylor, her brother Dylan and their sister Jordyn.
One of the most notable moments from the game was Oakland rookie Mark Canha hitting his first Major League home run. Since he’s a righty pull hitter and I sit in right field, I was nowhere near where it landed, but it was still a cool moment to witness.
This game was an absolute offensive explosion for the A’s, as the final score wound up being 12-0. The Mariners only had 3 hits all game, while the A’s were a run-producing machine. Ben Zobrist, Stephen Vogt, Sam Fuld and Billy Butler each recorded 1 RBI , while Mark Canha and Marcus Semien drove in two runs and Ike Davis finished the night with 4 runs batted in.
I liked getting to watch new fireballing relief pitcher RJ Alvarez take the mound in this game. We acquired Alvarez from San Diego in the Derek Norris trade.
Alvarez pitched a scoreless 9th, with 1 strikeout, giving the A’s their third blowout win in 5 days.
While this game was fun, it did not even come close to comparing to the next day…
4/11/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (3 balls)
Holy moly was this going to be a big day. When I woke up, I just saw it as another Saturday game, except that I would be running a 5K in the morning. I woke up around 7 and my entire family headed of to the ballpark around 7:30, getting to Oakland at 8.
Pascale and I were going to be running in the A’s inaugural PlayBall 5k, which would start at Home Plate on the field and finish in the parking lot. Once we signed in and got our race bibs, we jumped in the line forming at A Gate.
Once they opened the gate to the Coliseum, we had to stand inside the tunnel and wait to go down onto the field.
Eventually, the opened the gate to the left field stairs and we headed down to the field.
We walked along the warning and stopped in front of the dugout, as we waited for the other runners to get onto the field as well.
We were with Bryanne the entire time, who decided to take a Billy Martin-style photo in front of the dugout.
We got started at 9am, beginning at home plate on the field and running along the right field side of the warning track towards the center field tunnel. We exited the tunnel into the Coliseum parking lot, where we ran until reaching 66th Avenue, which was of course closed off. We went from 66th avenue to Oakport Street, which led us to a side street bringing us out along the San Leandro Bay. We ran back towards 66th Avenue, where we essentially retraced our path, heading back to the Coliseum Parking lot. Instead of going back where we had come from, we ran into the parking lot and turned right, doing a small loop that had us cross the finish line. Here are a couple of maps with poorly-drawn lines to give you an idea of the route.
In case you are curious, my official time was 27 minutes and 56 seconds. Fun!
I finished about 5 minutes ahead of Pascale, who finished in front other friends, including Bryanne, Dave and Carlos (Carlos was literally the last person to start the race). We took lots of pictures, including this selfie with Bryanne and Dave.
And then Bryanne, Carlos, Pascale and I took a photo with the A’s Hall of Fame racing mascots.
After the post-race festivities, which included snacks and a souvenir shirt, we headed up to our usual Gate, Gate MM to get in line. Since the race had started on the field and a night game had been played the day before, I did not expect there to be Batting Practice. However, once the gates opened at 11, I was surprised to run inside and see the A’s hitting!
On a side note, my dad took this really cool picture of the new LED ribbon boards on his way in.
I was shut out during A’s BP, but I did snag a couple balls during Mariners BP.
The first was a tossup from a Mariners player that I could not identity, the next ball was a tossup in left field from Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar.
I ended BP with the balls and considering the run beforehand and the surprise of BP, I was 100% okay with this.
I usually sit anywhere in the front row of 149 from seat 16 on the aisle to seat 12, but something told me this game that I should switch things up. Since Amanda’s fiancé, James, wasn’t going to be at the game, I took his normal seat, the seat next to her, seat 9. Pascale was in seat 8 and Will, who showed up late, sat in his normal 7.
On the mound for this game was Sonny Gray, who was making his second start of the season.
He was pitching fine until Dustin Ackeley stepped to the plate for the Mariners to lead off the top of the 3rd. I had just taken a picture to post in Instagram and I had my cowbell beater in my other hand, so I did not have my glove when his at bat began. All of a sudden, this happened…
And then I posted this picture on Twitter.
Yup. I snagged Dustin Ackley’s home run! And I didn’t just snag it, I caught it on the fly! What a moment! I immediately sat down, but most everyone was yelling at me to throw the ball back, since it was a visiting team home run. Thankfully, the people that know me well, like Will, Ross, Amanda and Carlos were all super supportive of me and the catch. There was one person, however that was not at all supportive: A’s right fielder Cody Ross. When I didn’t throw it back, he started staring up at me. I’m dead serious. I didn’t notice it until Will and Amanda pointed it out to me. He had his hands on his hips and a look of disgust on his face. He even turned back around every few pitches for the rest of the inning to see if I would throw it back. Of course, I did not.
After my phone was done blowing up with congratulations, I decided to go with my mom to purchase a cheap ball cube for it. When I got back to the bleachers, I found MLB.com Cut4 reporter Alex Espinosa waiting for me. He asked to interview me, so we went up the stairs, where we had a short conversation, which you can watch below.
In addition, the interview was integrated into an MLB.com Cut4 article about me, which you can see below. Click on that screen grab to read the piece.
I also did an interview with Tim Anderson of FanContract.com…
… as well as Alan Schuster of MyGameBalls.com.
You can click either of those experts to read the full articles.
When Ackley came up to bat in the 8th inning, I had my dad take a picture of the scoreboard.
After the game, I was finally able to pose for a picture with the ball.
WOW! What an insane day! I ran a 5K and snagged 3 balls, one of which was my first ever GAME HOME RUN. What a weekend.
4/12/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (0 balls)
Unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this game, seeing as I did not snag any balls. I went to this game by myself, so I did not have my dad’s camera. In fact, I didn’t really take any pictures on my phone either, so I don’t have anything to share about this game. It was Little League Day, which meant no Batting Practice and no opportunities to snag balls before the game. It’s okay though! Let’s move on to the next game, shall we?
4/17/15 at Banner Island Ballpark (1 ball)
It was my golden birthday! Today was April 17th and it was my 17th birthday! In my family, it is a tradition that on your birthday, you get to choose where the family goes out to eat for a meal that day. Since I had school during the day, dinner was the only option. But I didn’t want to go to a restaurant for dinner. I wanted to go to the ballpark for dinner!
The A’s were not in town this weekend, they were in Kansas City, so I figured that Stockton would be the next best option. However, my high school baseball team, who I am the PA Announcer for, had a game at 4pm, so I would not be able to make it to Stockton for Batting Practice. After the game, I received these cupcakes from the sister of one of the players. They were delicious!
After the high school game ended, my family piled in the car and headed off to Stockton. Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive until the 4th inning, but that was okay! Once we arrived, we headed to our usual section in Stockton, Section 107, where we joined up with Will in the front row.
This wasn’t an incredibly eventful game, I was not able to snag anything else, but it was nice to enjoy a game on my birthday with my family and Will!
4/18/15 at Banner Island Ballpark (8 balls)
During the offseason, I had a conversation with Ross about potentially having an Oakland Bleacher gathering at a Stockton Ports game. Eventually, we decided upon this day. A ton of people in the right and left field bleachers from Oakland bought tickets for Section 107 in Stockton. We brought our drums and cowbells, along with our chants and enthusiasm. It was shaping up to be a fun game.
The stadium gates opened at 5:45, which I was really excited about. Usually, minor league stadiums open an hour before game time, after BP has ended, but the Ports open their doors 15 minutes earlier than normal on Saturdays, which means that I can run around inside for the end of BP! Ryan and I raced to the outfield berm when gates opened. I ended up patrolling the area in right field, while he took the berm more towards center field. He ended up snagging a couple of easter eggs out in that area.
In total, I snagged 4 balls inside during batting practice, all of them were home runs. I came close to several others, but there was a lot of competition. My dad got some cool photos of me during BP, but there was one sequence of photos that stood out to me. There was a deep fly ball that was headed my way. I tracked it like I would any other home run ball, the only different being the inflatable slide behind me. Once I realized the slide was there, I lost focus on the ball. I have labeled the pictures in order, 1-4, so that you can follow the sequence of events.
No I did not get the ball. No I did not push the kid or try and take the ball from him. Once I saw him go after it, I backed off. Batting Practice ended around 6pm, so I had an hour to kill before the game started.
I eventually made my way to our seats in Section 107, right next to the visitor’s dugout. While over there, I ran into fellow right field bleacher dweller Steph and her son Brennon. Brennon is super cool, so I had to hook him up with his first ever California League ball, one of the ones I got during BP!
And of course, the one and only Will MacNeil!
That picture was taken by Ross!
My waiting outside eventually paid off, as I was able to snag a Beau Taylor foul ball. Later in the game, I snagged my 8th ball of the day, a foul ball off the bat of Ports outfielder B.J. Boyd. Moments after I snagged the ball, a woman came running out towards me. She asked if she could have the ball. I was confused at first, so I said no. Then she pulled out and showed me her driver’s license and told her that she was B.J. Boyd’s mother. Of course, I handed her the ball, at which point she thanked me, gave me a hug and walked back inside the ballpark. Very cool! In the later innings, I spent some time playing the drum.
Throughout the game, we were playing the drums and cowbells to the beats and in the same situations that we normally do in Oakland. For the player-specific chants, we would change the names. For Beau Taylor, we did the “Yo” chant that we used to do for Yoenis Cespedes. Instead of “I Believe in Stephen Vogt,” we did “I Believe in B.J. Boyd.” For J.P. Sportman, we used our Billy Butler chant. It was a fun night.
I had an absolute blast at this game, snagging 8 balls and getting to sit with the awesome bleacher people.
4/25/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (0 balls)
I’m going to preface this with the fact that I went into the game not intending to ballhawk. Instead, I had one goal on my mind: to meet former Oakland reliever and current Astros pitcher Pat Neshek! Pat has been a favorite of mine for a long time, but I had never gotten the chance to get his autograph or take a picture with him, so I was pretty excited for the potential chance. I got to the stadium around 9:30 or so, which meant there was plenty of time to kill. While I did not participate, Adam, Britt and Alex played some catch in the plaza area outside our gate.
Once the gates opened and we had set our stuff down in our seats, Amanda, Kimberlee, Tom and I headed down to area near the visitor’s bullpen, where Pat Neshek was warming up. Tom and I spent some time talking with our friend Mark, who is the security guard in the area near the away bullpen.
How cool is that inscription??? I didn’t even ask him to write that, he did it on his own! Pat is without a doubt one of, if not the most fan-friendly player I have ever interacted with.
Such a neat experience!
For me, that was really special because he was one of the first players I ever saw play in Stockton. In fact, I even got to meet him on April 21st, 2013. Even better, I got to take two pictures with him! I took a selfie with him and a picture with catcher Ryan Delgado, Will and Vanessa.
I just thought it was kinda cool!
4/26/15 at the Oakland Coliseum (2 balls)
This was my final game in the month of April and it was very fun! After I set my stuff down in Right Field after the gates opened, I went down to the A’s bullpen area, where I was able to snag a tossup from Evan Scribner. I also took this picture with Sonny Gray!
After taking the picture with Sonny Gray, I hustled over to the Astros bullpen area, where reliever Joe Thatcher tossed me a ball. Unfortunately though, it was not one of the commemorative balls that the Astros used in 2015. Still very cool though! Here are my two balls from the day.
Once I was back in Right Field, I took a picture with Will, Adam, Ross and Bryanne, as we were all wearing white jerseys in honor of “Wedding Gown White Sundays.” And yes, there is a filter on this picture.
When the A’s first moved to Oakland, the A’s wore their “Wedding Gown White” jerseys exclusively on Sundays.
When Josh Reddick came up to bat in the bottom of the second inning, I was featured on the A’s TV broadcast waving my flag. The main reason I was shown though was because Kimberlee was holding up a WWE Title belt, since Josh is a huge WWE fan.
A’s Manager Bob Melvin was arguing a call with the home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott and as you can see from the pictures above, he was ejected.
Wow! April was such a fun month. I don’t even know what else to say. Well I guess I should say thank you because this entry was over 5,000 words. So THANK YOU very much for taking the time to read this! My next post will be about the games I attended in May. In May, I went to 10 A’s games and 2 Ports games, so the entry will be jam packed with lots of stories and pictures.
As always, thanks again for reading and stay awesome!
Nick Badders is a blogger for MLB.com. He writes the blog, 7000 Coliseum Way, and you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @RFNick149. This blog entry was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.