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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….
Friday, April 2, I attended an exhibition game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It was the Texas Rangers (obviously) vs. the Kansas City Royals.
I was so excited for this game, (1) because it was an opportunity to go to a game, and (2) because I was taking my daughter Sarah. Dirk and his daughter Kaitlyn went also, but Sarah and I were really amped up to get back out the ballpark.
It was a 7:05 start which meant that the gates would open at 5:05. For everyone else.
We used this to get in at 4:35….
This was our first year to do anything like this, but like I mentioned in a previous entry, Dirk and I went in on two seats on this 16-game mini plan. As a bonus we got the season ticket holder ID cards.
When we made it through the gate and bag check, we found our way over to the left field seats like we usually do for batting practice.
For the first 30 minutes, this was the competition to our left….
…. and our right….
The only problem we faced was not very many Rangers were hitting homeruns our way. The lefties were peppering the right field seats, but the righties were only hitting a few.
There were other alternatives though.
For those that may not know, the visitors’ bullpen is in the outfield between the left field seats and the bleachers in left-center. That bullpen oftentimes becomes quite the BP homerun basket. Meaning, there are at least 2-3 ball retrieving device opportunites per session.
Enter Dirk and I.
Between the two of us, we were able to snag 5 balls out of the visitors’ bullpen. (Dirk 4, Brian 1). Since introducing Dirk to the whole ball snagging, ball retriever device world he has turned into an animal. I guess I’ve adopted a more mellow attitude toward snagging. If I can’t catch a BP homer, or if Sarah doesn’t get a toss up, I really don’t make much more of an effort. Call me crazy, but that’s just me.
Dirk on the other hand, has turned himself into Mr. Bullpen & Gap Master. If one lands in the gap anywhere in the park, or in either bullpen, he is all over it. That being the reason he outsnagged me 4-1. Anyways, on with the story….
As I mentioned earlier, Sarah and I were able to get one ball tonight. Our first of 2010 and here is Sarah with ball #1 after BP was over….
Here’s another photo of the ball that I took later to show the gashes that are on it. Beware, the photo is blurry, but it’s the best I could get it….
The bottom left gash is actually as deep as it looks. Pretty cool.
That was it for us during batting practice. The Royals didn’t do any better at getting homeruns out than the Rangers did. Oh well at least we got one.
As for the game, our seats were pretty good….
A little side story…
You see the guy on the bottom right of the above photo with the yellow/gray sunglasses? He was with a girl who was sitting to his left, and behind her was my daughter Sarah who proceded to get a pretty good sized glob of nacho cheese on the back of her shirt.
(Insert very long, very awkward 10-15 minutes here)
Anyways, exhibition games give the video department time to practice layouts, as well as giving ownership the chance to try out new team names as you’ll see in the next photo….
(It should be stated that when I went to opening day, the “Range” part was taken off)
The game was 0-0 going into the 7th inning until the Royals got a 2-out triple to go up 1-0. Then in the bottom of the inning, David Murphy hit a two-run homer to put the Rangers on top 2-1, and that would end up being the final score.
Around the 8th inning we decided to make our way behind home plate, and that’s where I took my favorite picture of the ballpark this year (so far!)….
I love that view.
I also got a shot of David Murphy fouling off a pitch….
Sorry, my camera’s not real good for action shots, but just to the left of Murphy’s left shoulder, that vertical white blur is the ball, I promise.
Here’s a couple shots of us behind home.
Me and Sarah….
Dirk and Kaitlyn….
That’s all for this game. Rangers win 2-1, and now it’s a waiting game until Monday.
Opening Day, ah yes!
Time of game: 2hrs. 11mins.
Next Game: Mon. 4/5 vs. Toronto
Well, just like 8/23/08, I brought my daughter Sarah to this game. And, also just like that game, it was cap night….
We arrived at the park in time for batting practice like we always do. I’m so glad I have a daughter that will go for autographs & balls too!
We made our way to the spot we like on the 3rd base side, halfway into the outfield. I set my bag down to get our gloves out & noticed Zack Greinke walking by. For those of you that may not know who that is, you may in the future. He pitched Sat. night 4/18 against the Rangers & struck out 10, gave up 7 hits & got the win. He has AMAZING stuff. No kidding.
Anyway, so I gave Sarah her ticket & a sharpie & sent her over to him. By this time a few people had gathered around, so it took a little bit but she got it.
A little while later, we noticed Josh Hamilton across the field signing autographs on the 1st base side. Of course there was a pretty good little crowd gathered around him, so I didn’t think it was worth the effort to go over there. 20 minutes later, Hamilton is still over there, so I gave Sarah a sharpie & had run through the seats to get his autograph. By the time she made it over there, Hamilton was gone & there was a new crowd gathered around Derek Holland, who the Rangers had just called up the day before…
Sarah’s above the arrow. When she came back around, she was beaming. She had no idea that Josh didn’t sign her hat. When I explained it to her, she was disappointed, but she still enjoyed the fact that she got another autograph.
There was a guy standing by me that was trying to get Jamie Wright’s attention to sign his picture. Jamie was a pitcher for the Rangers up until last year, so he has somewhat of following here. Jamie finally came over & here’s the photo I got….
Sorry about the grainy picture, but I had to crop it to get it to fit. Still, I thought it was a good shot anyways.
Here’s Sarah with her autographs…
We hung around that spot for a little while longer & got some photos of the 2 teams warming up…
I gotta tell you, I love the red jerseys!
Anyways, once the game started, we were in our seats & enjoying ourselves. At the bottom of the 2nd, we were starting to get a little hot sitting in the sun, so we got up to walk around & cool off. We went out to left field, straight down the 3rd base line. We watched Elvis Andrus bat & took this pic…
Back to this photo in a moment.
We walked over behind the visitor’s bullpen & for whatever reason I took this pic…
Maybe it was the “T”, I don’t know.
Back to the photo above from left field, as I was taking this photo of the bullpen, the next batter after Andrus was Ian Kinsler who proceded to hit a homerun to the exact spot we were standing when I took that picture! UUGGGHHH!! Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be.
We roamed a little more, took some more pics & also spent some time in the centerfield gift shop….
We wandered a little bit longer & I got one more pretty cool shot from the upper deck….
The game itself went back & forth, until the bottom of the 9th, when Michael Young hit his 1st walk off homerun(solo shot) to win the game for the Rangers 6-5!
No balls at this game, but I got a cool picture of Sarah on the way out…..
That’s the new Cowboys stadium behind her by the way.
Here’s another photo of the autographs & also one of the extra tickets we found after the game.
P.S. — Notice the holes in the tickets? That’s the Rangers’ way of keeping track of who gets a free promotion item & who doesn’t. Nice. What if it was a no-hitter or some other sort of milestone, & you wanted to preserve your ticket? I guess from their perspective, that’s the best way to do it. Who knows?