The plans for this game changed a couple different times, but this game was attended by myself, my daughter Sarah, my older daughter Kayla, and their grandmother Stacey. I had left my house with enough time to get to Houston (it’s about a 4 hour drive), find Stacey’s house (thanks Garmin!), and get to the ballpark in time for batting practice.
It all worked out to plan.
We got to the ballpark at around 5:10 or so and we purchased our tickets for the cheap seats for $7 each. The line at the centerfield gate was longer than I would have liked, but it was Friday and they were giving away Lone Star series t-shirts along with a post game fireworks show.
When we finally made it inside I ran over to the right field seats, mainly because the left field seats (where I like to go in Arlington) are called the Crawford Boxes in Houston and they get very full very fast.
I only took a couple pictures with my phone this game, because my daughter Kayla had our camera packed in her suitcase. So here’s a picture of the left field seats from my trip to Minute Maid last year (to read about that trip, click here)….
You can see the seats I’m referring to just below the Citgo sign on the glass wall.
The above picture was actually taken during the game, but they get pretty close to that full for batting practice, which is why I go to the right field seats.
Here’s a picture I took with my phone of Vladimir Guerrero….
…. and here’s Sarah with the free shirt we got tonight….
Sorry, I know my phone sucks for taking pictures, but it’s the best I could do. Hopefully, one day, I’ll have my own camera and I won’t have to worry about it anymore.
When we first got to the seats there were people along the front row, so I got Sarah a spot on the rail and I stayed back a row or two to give myself some space. It didn’t matter. I didn’t have any home runs come anywhere near me. After about 10 minutes or so I figured our best chance at getting a ball was going to be a toss up.
Let me set the record straight right now: I hate asking for toss ups! I don’t know why, I just do. But, at least Sarah was with me so I don’t feel too bad.
Anyways, back to BP. I also thought I might have a shot at leaning over the low outfield wall and getting one off the bounce (which I actually came close to doing once). Once Vlad was gone from right field a good portion of the kids hanging around left too, so I made my way down to the first row next to Sarah to work on getting a toss up.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux and young pitcher Neftali Feliz were in front of us for about 20 minutes or so and on a couple different occasions I thought we might get the hook up from Maddux, but it never came to pass. Feliz on the other hand was good to us, though I’m not 100% sure if it was intended for us or not. He grabbed a grounder off the field edge of the warning track about 10-15 feet away from us and I called out to him. He was ranging to his left for the ball and once he had it in his glove he kind of hop-stepped to stop his forward momentum and did an overhead lob toss exactly in our direction. All I had to do was reach straight up as high as I could and I was just able to snow cone the ball before it went over my head. Yes!
This would be our very first ball snagged outside of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and it felt great to get it! Sarah and I had talked before the trip about how cool it would be to snag one away from home and we did.
I yelled out a thank you to Neftali and he gave me a thumbs up, so maybe it was intended for us after all.
After snagging our first out of town ball Sarah was so excited about it that she wanted to show it to her grandmother, so we set out to track her down giving some other people around us the chance at snagging a ball.
Once we found Stacey we made our way up to the fourth level to get some drinks and head to our seats. Here’s an idea of where they were….
They were kind of way up there but it was okay. Stacey bought the tickets and I was just happy to be there.
The game itself was good, the Rangers won 9-3. Justin Smoak hit two run homer in the third.
Not much else to report from this game, no more pictures, just the memories of our first “away” ball. That, and the fact that this was my first game with Kayla in years. She’s not really into sports at all, so the fact that she was even there to begin with is pretty cool.
Time of Game: 2hrs. 52mins.
Attendance: 33,951 (Sure didn’t look like it!)
Next Game: Tues. 6/22 vs. the Pirates (I won’t have my camera then either)
For those of you that may not know, Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is by far my favorite Ranger, and probably my favorite active player period.
When the Rangers traded pitcher Edison Volquez for him in the offseason prior to the 2008 season it is was an almost instant draw. By the time Spring Training was underway the story of his personal life started to spread, locally and nationally. Before long everyone knew of his trials and struggles with his own personal demons. Eventually, an autobiography (which is a great book by the way) even came out of the whole thing.
Josh was an instant fan favorite, getting thunderous applause every time he came to the plate in Arlington. He would do countless speaking engagements to tell his testimony to children, adults, anyone who would listen actually. I remember after one particular Sunday afternoon game in the spring of ’08 he and his wife Katie stayed and talked to a large crowd that filled the right field seats, just to have an opportunity at a question and answer session with him.
Of course we all remember what he did at the 2008 Home Run Derby at the old Yankee Stadium. That alone opened up the nation’s eyes to not only his background, but also to just how good he really is.
Following the All-Star break of ’08 Josh’s numbers dipped slightly. He didn’t finish the season on the same torrid pace that he started. Few do.
2009 by all accounts was a let down for Hamilton. Amid spending numerous weeks on the disabled list for varying injuries, he only amassed 10 home runs in 89 games played. Whereas in 2008 he had 32 homers in 156 games. Add to this a midsummer escapade in an Arizona bar that had the national media as well as the internet buzzing, 2009 was a season to forget for the Great Hambino (as he’s known around here).
As we approach the midway point of the 2010 season, Hamilton looks very much on his way to a 3rd consecutive All-Star game appearance (and hopefully a 2nd Home Run Derby appearance!). In the month of June he has 17 hits in 39 at bats with 4 home runs, 15 RBI, and 10 runs scored with a .436 average in his last 10 games.
Like the title of this entry states, Hamilton is hitting his stride at just the right time.
For the season he has 71 hits in 231 at bats with 13 home runs, 42 RBI, and 39 runs scored with a .307 average. Pretty good numbers considering the season he had last year.
My outlook on Josh Hamilton is pretty simple. For a man that does not run from the chance to profess his love and admiration to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, he is humble. Humble and thankful. And with myself striving to be the best christian that I can be, Hamilton with all of his own setbacks aside, gives me something to shoot for.
I purchased a 2008 Home Run Derby ball off of Ebay with the specific intention of getting Josh to autograph it. I carried it in my backpack for a year and a half and the stars finally aligned for me on Saturday May 8, 2010. If you are interested you can read a full description of the event here.
Here is the finished product….
As of today June 11, 2010 this is my most prized possession. It most likely will stay that way, but you never know what the future holds.
Well that’s it for my little Josh Hamilton appreciation entry. Those of us that get to see Josh in Arlington at any given chance need to take advantage of every possible opportunity, because none of us knows when we won’t have that chance anymore.
This entry is a couple of weeks old, but oh well. My friend Dirk and I went to an independent league game on Friday May 28th. It was the Fort Worth Cats taking on the Grand Prairie Airhogs in the American Association. The Cats play at LaGrave Field, and I have done entries on them before (like here and here), but haven’t been able to get to the Grand Prairie field.
I’m not going to give a verbal description of this trip in this entry. I would rather do a pictoral entry if you don’t mind. With that being said, here we go….
The red arrow in the last photo shows what a screaming foul ball can do the metal wall behind home plate. There is another view of the wall two photos up.
In the last photo just above the red wall is a swimming pool.
That’s it. That’s my photo tour of my first game at QuikTrip Park. Not bad for an independent league team’s park, though I really don’t see myself returning anytime soon. LaGrave field in Fort Worth is just fine to me, and it’s closer to where I live!
I was real fired up for this game, being that it was the first home game for the Rangers since May 23rd, plus the fact that I was attending this game with my aunt Lori, I was ready.
We got to the park at around 4:05 and stood in line until 4:35 when the gates would finally open. It was hot standing in line, so I knew it was going to be a scorcher during batting practice, but that’s okay I was eager to get snagging.
When we reached the left field seats, the scene was basically the same as it has been the last couple of games I’ve gone to. It was me, a vendor that was out of uniform, and two other guys for the first 30 minutes of BP.
I wouldn’t have to wait long to get on the board either.
Within the first five minutes Josh Hamilton was working on his opposite field power again. I say again because I had snagged an oppo homer from him at this game. Today I would snag another for ball #1 of the day. I didn’t catch it on the fly though, it hit a section to my right and I ran over and picked it up out of the empty row.
Rangers pitcher Derek Holland, who is currently on the disabled list, was in left field directly in front of me and I noticed the hair on the back of his head looked completrly shaved, so I got his attention and asked him if he shaved his head, and he lifted his hat and sure enough it was all gone. I gave him a thumbs up and let him get back to work. A few minutes later he tossed a ball to a guy a section to my right, so the next time he had a ball in his hand I called his name, but to no avail.
The wall in left field has a video board that is actually in the gap between the stands and the outfield wall. Here is the best photo I have to show this….
Sorry for the bad exposure, but it served its purpose. I was actually standing directly above the Min/Oak game summary that’s the 2nd from the left.
That entire video board is air cooled, meaning that there huge fans that are constantly running to keep this thing cooled off. I’m telling you this because after two unanswered call outs to Holland I felt that he probably couldn’t hear me. I then started to realize why I never try for toss ups in the first place. I feel uncomfortable doing it, like I’m trying to compete with little kids, though were none around yet.
About 5 minutes later something odd happened. I’m not sure if Holland did something to get my attention or if I just happened to look at him, but he flashed a ball at me and fired it from about 30 yards away directly into my glove for ball #2. How cool is that? I yelled out a quick thank you and stuck it in my bag.
It wasn’t my first official toss up, but it’s the first one I have gotten without having my daughter Sarah with me.
So, once again I was at my personal record of two (2) balls. I have achieved this total on three different occasions and wanted so desperately to surpass it.
I kept waiting. Nothing was falling into the gap in front of me or the visitors’ bullpen to my left, so I was left with trying to snag on the fly, something I have never done. A little while later a ball finally landed in the gap and I was all over it. Or so I thought. By the time I got my retriever out of my bag and made my way over to the spot I needed to be I noticed that I would not be able to snag this one. Well, not without potentially wasting a lot of valuable time going after just one ball. You see, the ball had come to rest in front of the video board. The best way to describe it is, the wall that the players on the field would hit if they ran into it is actually chain link fence (yeah let that sink in a moment). Then there is about a 5-6 inch space before you get to the actual video board itself which is bolted into the concrete. After that is a 3-4 foot walkway between it and the stands. There, clear as mud? Good.
The ball had landed in front of the video board, but to the very end of it. I possibly could have swung my retriever to try and knock it out to where I could raise it up, but didn’t want to risk losing out on balls that were hit into the seats. So I forgot about it.
Not too long after a Rangers rightie that I couldn’t identify hit a bomb that was going to land way behind me to my right, so I took off up the aisle beside me and made to the appropriate row a split second after the ball hit about two seats in. I grabbed the ball off the ground for ball # 3. Yes! Finally I had outdone two balls. The only downer was Sarah was not with me. When I got home and told her about it she was upset for a moment then smiled and said we would set our own record! I love my daughter!
The Rangers finished up a short while after I had snagged my third ball, so I went to sit with my aunt who had been sitting in the shade this whole time. We watched the first 5 minutes or so of the Rays’ portion and after seeing no balls hit out in that time we decided to head elsewhere. By this time the gates had opened to the rest of the fans, it was hot, I really didn’t want to try and outsnag kids (Fridays are fireworks games so the kids are out in force), so we went over to the Rangers hall of fame since my aunt hasn’t seen it yet.
From there we made our way out to the centerfield gift shop and I was treated to a new t-shirt by my awesome aunt. I got a red Nelson Cruz player shirt. I’m really growing fond of him.
After the shopping we got drinks and cheese fries and headed to our seats in the upper deck. Section 339 row 1 seats 9 and 10. The best part about these seats is the fact that the sun was behind us! See ….
The game was slow. By slow I mean it was a 7:05 start and by 9:00 it was just the fourth inning! So food was a big player this evening. After the cheese fries there was kettle corn, a hot dog for my aunt, a cheeseburger for me, sunflower seeds, ice cream, and of course drinks. Lemonade was the drink of choice tonight.
There was some offense to be seen, Josh Hamilton (my favorite Ranger and possibly favorite player) hit a solo shot in the fourth inning. Rookie first baseman Justin Smoak hit a 2 run shot of his own in the second. The Rangers were down 4-0 before Smoak’s tater, then exploded for 7 runs in the bottom of the fourth to lead 9-4. The Rays would add single runs in the 6th and 7th but would fall short, losing 9-6.
The starting pitcher for the Rangers was the normally on fire C.J. Wilson. Although tonight he would only last 5 innings, giving up 5 runs (3 earned) on 6 hits, with 5 strikeouts and 4 walks, while picking up his fouth win. Neftali Feliz came in to pick up his 15th save of the season.
Here’s a goofy shot of the 3 balls that I came away with tonight….
Time of Game: 3hrs. 10mins.
Next Game: Not really sure, either Thurs. 6/10 vs. the Mariners or Fri. 6/18 in Houston
I know this is getting to be old news, but MLB umpire Jim Joyce is back in the news today.
Last week, after his perfect game-blowing call in Detroit, he granted an interivew to a Detroit newspaper that has given some more insight to an already humbled man’s life.
I don’t know where you stand on this issue. I don’t know you if you care one way or the other if MLB changed the ruling on this call or not.
As for me, I’m human. I make mistakes, and there’s nothing that anybody can say to me that I wouldn’t have already said to myself. I’m my own worst critic. When another person owns up to their mistake I take notice. Not too many people are willing to admit when they screw something up, especially as quickly as Mr. Joyce did. That takes guts, or cajones, or whatever other word you may want to insert there.
He “man-ed up”. Plain and simple.
I want to post the link to this newspaper’s article because I feel it’s worth sharing. I found it on the Big League Stew page on yahoo sports MLB section and I’m pretty sure that not everyone reads that (not that you’re reading this either!)
So, without anymore rambling here it is.
There’s been some interesting stories in the world of baseball in recent weeks, some of which I would have liked to comment on one way or another, but there is one that sparked my interest above the rest.
Umpire Joe West.
Here’s a screenshot of the article Yahoo has on him today….
The article is pretty good in my opinion, of course it’s technically just an opinion in itself. The work of Yahoo national sports writer Jeff Passan.
If you don’t know the whole story, you need to read this article which you can do by clicking here.
I agree with Passan’s stance that umpires should be invisible, but I would add a caveat that there does a come a time when an umpire’s presence is required. At that time, I have no problem whatsoever with him taking over a situation. Whether it’s warning pitchers and benches after a little round of “beanball”, or reviewing video to figure out if a hit is a home run or not, there are going to be times when all attention is on an umpire and even the entire crew, but it’s when an umpire calls attention to himself at inopportune times that’s the issue here.
Leave the spotlight stealing for your stage act Mr. Cowboy Joe, and get to the business at hand.
Being seen and not heard.
Agree, diagree, let me know.
This would turn out to be a very enjoyable day at the ballpark for me. Aside from the fact that my daughter Sarah was not with me (that would have made the day perfect), it was just a great day all around.
My friend Dirk and I headed to the ballpark at around 2-2:30ish in anticipation of a large crowd and we wanted to be close to the front of the line to get in with the other season ticket holders. When we arrived at the gate, which would eventually open at 3:30, there were around 15-20 people in line. Not too bad. When we get in we head straight to left field and most others head to right field.
When we finally got in and made our way to the left field seats this was the scene for the first 30 minutes….
Including myself and Dirk (who is at the far end of these left field seats in the red shirt and tan shorts) there were only five (5) of us! For the first full 30 minutes!
It was amazing, but honestly I don’t know why I didn’t come away with 10 or more balls.
I stayed toward the left field foul pole like I have been doing a lot lately (to no avail), and after about 2-3 minutes Rangers’ rightie Michael Young hit one my way that I was slow to react to and eneded up picking it up off of the ground for ball #1.
Yes, that felt good! I had grown really tired of my current dry spell and was very relieved to have it end.
Not too long after my first snag, Josh Hamilton’s group had come up to hit and Josh was apparently working on his opposite field power, because he hit one about 5 rows deep two sections to my left that hit a seat and bounced into the gap in left field. It actually landed just to the right of where the guy in the red shirt and blue hat is in the previous photo. I headed over there with my retriever (in case you’re new to this blog or you forgot, I can’t use the glove trick anymore according to stadium security) and reeled it up within a minute for ball #2. Which I’m sad to add ties my personal record that I have achieved on two other occasions, here and here.
By this time I was feeling really good, and we still had about 10-15 minutes before the gates opened to everyone else! I was already thinking of at least three balls. I didn’t want to get greedy, I just wanted to break my personal one game record.
By the way, I showed you the view to my left earlier, well here’s the view to my right….
Just before the gates were about to open up to the rest of the fans, a ball was hit my way. It was coming right down the line, and all I had to do was go up one row (I was already on the aisle) and move in about 4 seats. The problem was I got there about a second after the ball did. It hit off the back of a seat and flew back on the field. Man!
Just in case you’re wondering, by this time my last report from Dirk was he had 5 balls. That’s the upside to where he was, he could snag them out of the visitors’ bullpen to his left, as well as the gap in front of him. It also helped that he was able to catch two on the fly (something I have never done).
Anyways, once the gates opened I didn’t spend much more time over by the foul pole. I made my way over to where Dirk was so I could be in a better spot once the stands started to fill up. Which didn’t take long either. Here’s a photo just 10 minutes after the stadium opened to the public….
It only got worse from there. This was my closest competition….
That was directly in front of me. There were five more just like these to my left. That’s okay though, I’m not complaining. Kids deserve to snag balls just as much as I do. It’s just that I saw my chance at breaking my record eventually vanish into thin air.
At this point, I was stuck on two balls, and Dirk had snagged seven (7). I think I will work my way a little closer to him next game. He would’ve had 8, but the guy standing right next to him decided to put his hand inside the pocket of Dirk’s glove just as he was about to make a basket home run catch. I hope it stung. Oh well, that stuff happens.
When batting practice was wrapped up we made our way out to the concourse to get some drinks. We had stopped at Taco Bell on the way to the park, so our food was already taken care of. Gotta love those value menus!
Our seats were in the third level behind home plate, so we decided to head that way to eat and escape the sun. This is what it looked like from up there….
Not too bad if I say so myself.
As the first pitch drew near I wanted to try and get a photo of Derek Holland delivering that pitch. My camera is not the best for long distance shots so this is the best I could do….
When we got to our seats we knew there would probably be no chance for us to move down to the lower level like we try to do most games, so we settled in with the intention of staying there the whole game.
After a few innings I started to talk to the gentleman to my left. He was in his mid to late 50s I would say, and he was there with his father who was most likely in his 70s. The son was in town from Philadelphia and had taken his father to this game. With my dad living in Arizona and me wanting so badly to go to a game with him I thought this was pretty cool. I asked the man about Philly, if he’s a Phillies fan, if he goes to a lot games. He told me that Citizens Bank Park either has or had a 63 consecutive game sellout streak. Wow. God bless the Ballpark in Arlington!
At one point the man got up to go to the concession stand and his father leaned over the empty seat, got my attention, and proceded to thank me for keeping his son company. What do you say to that? I simply told him the pleasure was all mine, and he started to tell me about how he grew up in upstate New York, and that all of his boyhood memories were of watching Ruth, then Gehrig, and all of the greats play live. I could’ve listened to him for hours, though it was only around five to ten minutes. Shame on me, but I never got either of their names. I would really like to thank both of them for making my night at the ballpark even much more enjoyable.
What a great evening! But it gets better.
I can’t remember the exact details, but to the best of my recollection in around the second inning, a foul ball was hit to the second level, first base side just past the media boxes behind home plate. Nothing special right? Foul balls are caught by someone every game.
A few innings later, a foul ball was hit to the exact same spot as the one I just mentioned, and the same guy caught it.
…. under the big red arrow. That is a zoomed in look of my view of his seat.
When he caught the second foul ball I knew I had to take this picture, and I wanted to mention it in this entry. As time progressed I decided that I wanted to get down there and talk to the guy, so when Dirk and I were ready to move down to the lower level we stopped on the way to find him. Oddly enough as we were about to go in the tunnel toward his section he came out of the nearest bathroom. Perfect. Now I didn’t have to look like an idiot in front him and everyone else, I could just look like an idiot to him!
I started off by asking his name (which is Chase Eriksen) and just some basic questions about how he felt. You know the drill, what did you think, what was your reaction, those vanilla questions. I then told him that I wanted to get some pictures of/with him to potentially use in an article on the mygameballs.com website. After a short explanation of what exactly that site was, we got to the picture taking.
Here’s Chase with his snags….
…. and just because this is my blog, here’s the two of us with his snags….
He was a real good sport. I know it must have been weird having a complete stranger come up to you and want to take pictures with you, asking your name.
Oh, I forgot to mention that he was in the emergency room just that morning with a kidney stone. At the time I was talking to him he had still not passed it, but was all hyped up on pain medication and almost didn’t even go to the game. I’m sure he was glad he decided to go.
Chase, I hope you’re “passed” the worst of it now. If you’re interested, you can read the article that Alan Schuster wrote about this event here.
See, I told you it was a great evening. What else could you want?
Oh yeah, there was a game on the field. It was a good game, a close game throughout the whole thing. Other than the fact it sounded like there were more Cubs fans than Rangers fans, and also that the Rangers ended up losing, it was a very exciting game. The Rangers hit two home runs (one by Nelson Cruz and one by Vladimir Guerrero). The game was tied 3-3 after the 4th and stayed that way into the 10th. The Cubs then began to pinch hit three straight left handed batters against Darren O’Day who gave up two runs. The Rangers got one back in the bottom of the inning but that’s all they could muster.
Rangers lose 5-4. Dirk and I’s record at the ballpark this year fell to 8-1.
The Rangers lost and Sarah wasn’t with me, but today was still a very memorable day at the ballpark for me.
Here’s a couple looks at the two balls I snagged today….
Time of game: 3hrs. 8mins.
Attendance: 46,180 (yuck!!)
Next game: Fri. 6/4 vs. Tampa Bay
Well, I actually missed a game entry. I went to the 5/12 game against the A’s, took a few pictures, saw some good baseball, didn’t snag any balls, but had a fun time at the ballpark.
There. That’s got to be the shortest game summary on mlblogs.
I also went to the Thursday 5/20 game against the Orioles. I left work at 5:30 so batting practice wasn’t going to happen, but my friend Dirk and I figured that seeing as there was no promotional giveaway this game, and they were playing the Orioles, the odds were pretty good that the crowd would be pretty small. It was.
Tonight was all about the foul ball.
Even with leaving work much later than I normally do on game day, we still walked through the gate at around 6:15. It was a 7:05 start so we had some time to kill.
We went back into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame like we did at this game and thankfully there was more stuff to look at this time. They had the second floor open so we went up there to check it out and I took some photos with my phone looking out toward the field….
This next photo is actually an old pic that I wanted to use as an example to show where the above photos were taken from….
If you click on the last photo you’ll have a better look at the two red arrows in right field numbered 1 and 2. The location of the #1 arrow is where I took the first two pictures above. The location of the #2 arrow is where I took the photo looking out to the sports park behind centerfield. It actually looks to be tied into the centerfield offices (the white part of the stadium from left center to right center), but you get to that point through the second level of the hall of fame which I never knew before. After figuring that last part out when we went back out to the field level, Dirk and I started in with the “so this where the “other half” watches the game from” jokes. What can I say, we are easily amused.
Our seats for this game were in the third row of the bleachers in left centerfield, which we only stayed in for an inning or two. They were in this vicinity….
Click the photo and you’ll notice the red arrow just to the left of Green’s Hill, that’s the best visual I can give of where our seats were.
By the end of the second inning we had already moved around to the third base side to go for foul balls. Usually, we will wait until the end of the third at the absolute earliest, but there were just so many empty seats that we had to give it a shot. Thankfully it worked.
We were treated to 35 total hits, 20 by Texas and 15 by Baltimore. The Rangers hit three home runs (1 each by Nelson Cruz, Vladimir Guerrero, and Matt Treanor) on their way to a 13-7 victory. It was a welcome change from the 3-2 and 4-3 games that we have become accustomed to so far this season.
As for the foul balls, they would elude us once again. The closest we came at this game was one that was caught about 10-12 rows in front of us. Oh well, we’ll get one eventually.
That’s about it for this game, nothing else to report. The Cubs are coming in this weekend for a three game set and we are trying to make the Saturday tilt. It’s a 6:05 start with a post-game concert so there’s no telling how crowded it will be. I’ve heard on local talk radio that the ballpark is anticipating 110,000 people over this three game weekend. That comes out to around 37,000 a game. I hope they’re wrong, I really don’t want to fight all that madness.
Time of game: 3hrs. 34mins.
Attendance: 17,304 (That I can handle!)
Next game: Possibly, Sat. 5/22 vs. the Cubs
This game would be my friend Dirk and I’s sixth game of the 2010 season, and the first we would attend of our 16-game mini plan. There have been others prior, but for one reason or another we have not been able to make any before today.
My daughter Sarah would be accompanying us on this fine Saturday, one because I haven’t taken her to a game in a while, and two because today was Michael Young youth jersey night….
Sarah already has Ian Kinsler’s and Elvis Andrus’ from past games and really wanted to add this one to her collection, so we fought the madness which is swarming children and went anyway.
And boy am I glad we did!
First off, let me state that once again I had forgotten my camera. I hate when I do that because I almost don’t want to go when I realize this (which is usually when I’m en route to the ballpark). But I decided that if I wanted to take any photos today, they would have to be taken with my phone, so excuse the awful pictures I took, but it’s the best that I could do.
This game was a 7:05 start and the season ticket gates would open at 4:35, so we got inside as fast as we could, got Sarah’s free jersey and ran (actually walked briskly) over to the left field seats. When we got there, there weren’t many people there yet, so we could roam relatively freely for the first 30 minutes.
The Rangers were hitting and Josh Hamilton’s group had just finished when we set our stuff down. I went to the corner of the left field seats and the third baseline foul pole to check some rows on the third base side for easter eggs but found none.
It was at this time that my friend Shawn, who met us at the gate, asked me “if I had that ball?” I said “what ball?”, and began looking around me in case I had missed a ball coming into the stands. When I looked back at Shawn he was pointing towards the field directly in front of him, and when I looked that direction I saw Josh Hamilton, and knew exactly what he was talking about.
A little back story…
About a year and half ago, after the 2008 Home Run Derby, I purchased a HR derby ball off of the internet with the intention of getting it signed by Hamilton. This ball went with me to every game I attended in 2009, which was around 40, and the closest I could come was about one person away during batting practice at Minute Maid Park in Houston. I had missed it by mere seconds. This year, it has stayed in my backpack (in its box of course) for the same purpose. To this point my closest call was at a memorabilia show at the Arlington Convention Center about two weeks ago. I had heard that Josh was going to be there signing, so I went only to find out that they were charging for autographs, $50 for standard items (baseball cards, standard balls, photos, etc.) and $85 for premium items (his autobiography and the 2008 HR Derby baseball). What?! Give me a break. Just for the record, no I did not spend $85 for that autograph, I thought that was a ripoff, but people were paying it. There must have been 30-35 people getting things signed. At one point during the event I found myself standing about 3 feet from Hamilton when he asked me “What’s up?” What could I say but “nothin”. I asked if I could get a picture on my phone which of course he obliged, and that was it. I left.
Fast forward back to today…
When I noticed that it was Josh Hamilton that Shawn was referring to, I went to my backpack and got the ball out along with a pen. Hamilton was playing left field shagging ground fungos as well as fielding the BP balls. When he turned and came my way to retrieve a ball at the base of the wall I held up my ball and asked “Josh, can you sign my ball please?” He had just picked up the ball he was after and fired it back to the bucket, when he said something to the effect of “I’ve gotta work” or “I’m working”. I couldn’t tell exactly what he said, but he was grinning, so I knew he was just giving me a hard time. A second later he held up his glove.
“Oh my God! Is this really going to happen? Am I dreaming?”
That’s a short synopsis of what went through my head in the matter of about two seconds.
Here’s an old photo that I found that describes the scene….
The (1) in the photo shows where Hamilton was, and the (2) shows where I was (pretty much).
When Josh held his glove up I tossed him the ball and then the pen, and he signed it and tossed me the ball first and the pen second. Neither of my friends had cameras, and none of us even thought of using our phones. It all happened so fast that it just seemed surreal, you know? But when it was all over I had this in my hand….
In case you’re wondering, the writing below the signature is a Bible verse, Psalm 62: 5,6,7. When I had secured the ball, I thanked him of course, then proceded to give Dirk and Shawn high fives as well as an overly excited hug to my daughter Sarah.
The realization of the moment was starting to sink in. This was not just a big deal to me, but Sarah was wanting this just as much as I was, and looking back on my previous close calls with Hamilton there was one thing missing, Sarah. The fact that she was with me when I was able to get this ball signed means so much to me that I can hardly put it into words, and even as I type this I’m getting a little misty-eyed. Now I know some of you are probably thinking “Geez, it’s just an autograph”, but to Sarah and I it’s more than that. It’s been a journey, a quest of sorts, and to have my daughter with me when its accomplished, well I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Needless to say I didn’t care what else happened after that, and it’s a good thing since we didn’t get anything. That’s okay though, even a batting practice shutout couldn’t diminish this day!
The game itself was good. It was close all game and the Rangers pulled it out 3-2. Our seats were in the 3rd level on the first base side. Here’s an idea of where they were….
…. in another old photo. The red arrow in the 3rd level is in the first row. They really aren’t bad seats, but from a snagging perspective they aren’t very good. We stayed in those seats until the end of the 2nd inning when we decided to go to the kid’s area in centerfield so Sarah could play around some.
Being that is was youth jersey day you can probably imagine how may kids were out there. But that’s okay, I was out there for Sarah.
We weren’t able to sit in the lower level on the 3rd base side like we normally do, because there were just too many people over there and every usher was checking tickets. So we found a concession stand on the 2nd level that’s enclosed and has televisions, so we got some nachos and relaxed for an inning or so.
By the 8th inning we moved out to the bleachers in left centerfield and stood to the back, one to actually watch the game live, and two because I really wanted to get on tv. I had found a shirt online that I thought for sure would do the trick. Here it is….
I know the picture sucks, but it was from my camera and I was in a tunnel. (Thanks to Alan Schuster and mygameballs.com for coming out with this shirt. Check out what else they have here.
Well, apparently it didn’t work because I had told a couple people prior to the game what I was wearing and they said the cameras never showed me. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep wearing it.
I took a couple photos from out there, but I don’t want to subject you to anymore phone pics.
Well, maybe just one more….
What a way to cap off an already great day!
Time of game: 2hrs. 43mins.
Next Game: Wed. 5/12 against the A’s
UPDATE – Yesterday I took another photo of the ball (with my camera this time) and I wanted to share it, so here you go….