This was my first Ironbirds game. I had always seen the stadium from the highway, but had never been to a game. We arrived at about 5:45, 15 minutes before the gates opened. It was Cal Ripken Sr. Bobblehead Night. Our seats were in section 101, just to the right of home plate. I had about an hour before first pitch so I went exploring. The clubhouses are behind the outfield fence near the clubhouses. A Jammers pitcher hooked me up with my first ball. I got some Jammers to sign my team sheet while I waited for the Jammers manager to ask for the lineup card. He said he saves them for stats to help him :(. I got another ball during warmups. The highlight of the night was getting a picture with Cal Ripken Jr. after he threw out the first pitch. Overall it was a great night and I can’t wait to go back next season.
At the last minute, my family decided to go to the Phillies game so I quickly bought some tickets in section 434. I couldn’t pack all my gear in time, but I got most of the essentials. We arrived at about 5:15 (15 minutes late). We saw the last few minutes of Phillies BP and my sister got the last ball, a tossup from an unkown Phillie.My sisters took pictures for me so I don’t have many to share. I headed towards the foul poul and sprinted into foul territory once it opened. Henry Mejia was leaning where the ballgirl sits and he said he would “sign after BP.” Even though I was right there with my card out… During Mets BP my family mainly stayed in centerfield. Mejia threw up tons of balls, but mostly to the same little kids every time, but he did throw one to my dad. I spent my time in the pizza wedge (section 101) and in foul territory near the rightfield foul pole. I tried to get a ball from the Mets bullpen catcher, but it wasn’t meant to be… I had one chance at a homer in center, but it landed a few rows above me and then bounced back down. If I’d been either a few rows higher or lower it would have been mine. Plus the Mets were barely hitting and homers, and most of them went to a very crowded right field. I went back to center and say Bartolo Colon with a ball so I yelled “Bartoloooooo.” He turned around, but I guess his hearing is bad so he threw the ball to some dude 10 feet to my left smh. BP ended and we went to get food. First we had to stop at Chickie’s and Pete’s obviously. I ate my cheesetseak in section 101 and watched Burnett warm up, hoping to get a ball when he was done. Sure enough, Jesus Tiamo flipped me a ball after AJ was finished. Here I am waiting. We decided to sit in our actual seats: section 434 row 1. Not bad. Skyline. My sister’s first career ball. I trained her well. 3 RUN DOM BOMB!!! The game went into 14 innings and the Phillies won on a walkoff single by Reid Brignac. We moved down and sat in the outfield in the 9th. I got a postgame tossup from Jeff Manship. The game took 5 hours 23 minutes.
This is my 2nd Blue Rocks game of the season and it was a 10:35 start. It was intended for school trips to come so as you can imagine, it was a madhouse.
In the parking lot, I gave the practice ball to a young fan in Phillies gear, who depressed that he didn’t snag a ball. Stay tuned for more posts soon, including the California/Carolina League All Star Game and Home Run Derby in mid-June.
31 Career Balls
Here is my final Spring Training post. I couldn’t do it earlier because of school but now school is winding down so get ready for lots of ballhawking action. So for this game my dad and I left Clearwater around 8:30, stopped at Waffle House, and entered the gates around 10:45. My hat is at a a funny angle lol. I headed for the left field berm, but then a bunch of Phillies players headed for the batting cages so I waited for autos. This pathway to the batting cages is an autograph collectors dream! Here is Kevin Frandsen signing. Big piece signing. This is my favorite picture of the whole trip. Me and Ruf. My dad and I on top of the berm. I snagged 3 balls, tossup from a Braves pitcher, long tossup from Dom Brown, and a ball I snagged on the walkway. For autos I got Ryan Howard, Darin Ruf, Maikel Franco, Kevin Frandsen, John Mayberry, and a few others on my team balls. An usher said he had never seen a visiting team sign that many autos before, but hey Phillies fans travel well! I didn’t get any game balls because I was on the Braves side. Overall it was an incredible trip. My dad and I had a great time. Stay tuned for some Blue Rocks posts soon.
Hey Guys, since I haven’t been to any games yet, here is another post from
Spring Training. My dad and I went to Lenny’s for breakfast. That is the place to go before the game. Phillies staff, players, coaches, etc.. frequently eat there and its about 1 mile from the field. We arrived at the field around 10:15, 20 minutes before the gates opened. There was a nice Phillies cup giveaway that we didn’t even know about. As I was standing in line a scout for the Mets walked past me which was pretty cool. I headed for right field upon entering and was quickly rewarded with a tossup from a Phillies pitcher in left. I think it was from David Buchanan. I went all the way over to the fenced off bushes and then he threw it to me.A homer landed just above me on the walkway so I couldn’t get it. Here I am in right center.. This is the groundscrew area down the baseline. Jroll signed a card for me and Howard, Asche, and Nieves signed balls above the dugout pregame. I got a gamers from Utley and Collier.
My dad and I arrived at the stadium at about 10:30. This was definitely my favorite stadium of the three that we went to. As soon as we entered I headed towards the Phillies dugout (firstbase side).(Thats me in the red and blue shirt) Ben Revere walked out of the dugout and went to talk to some of his former teammates and coaches from the Twins while they took BP. After he finished talking, I threw him my baseball and he signed it on the sweetspot! I then got coach Larry Bowa to sign a mini helmet. Next Darin Ruf signed my ball, but he signed really small on the side-panel but I was still excited to get his autograph. I then got Cody Asche on the sweetspot, which is my favorite signed ball of the whole trip. So within about 10 minutes, all the new balls I brought had been signed. Then the Phillies went on the field to stretch so I headed for the outfield. I went to the berm in left field and Twins pitcher Samuel Deduno threw me my first ball of the spring. Once the Phillies started hitting I headed to right-center. Zach Collier threw a ball to me from far away and it bounced of my glove and fell behind the outfield wall, but hey I need spring training also. Phillipe Aumont threw me my ball second ball and then I threw it back down with a pen. He signed on the sweetspot and I got to talk to him for a little while. While I was gone, my dad had gotten a ball from Tyson Gillies in left field. (since I couldn’t count my dad’s balls in my collection, I used them to get signed). BJ Rosenberg then threw me a ball in left-center. My last BP ball was a tossup from Ken Giles on the left-field berm. We then grabbed some lunch and ate under a pavilion in right-field near the pond outside the stadium. We had seats behind the outfield end of the Phillies dugout. Early in the game, Asche hit a foul ball into the dugout and a Phillies photographer threw me the ball. Later on Mayberry was running to first and they threw the ball over first base and it bounced off the dugout. Chris Colabello, the Twins firstbaseman threw me the ball. I wasn’t expeccting to get more than one game used ball on the whole trip and I already had two! The game ended in a 1-1 tie. After the game I got a ball from Phillies pitcher Sean O’Sullivan in the bullpen. Overall, it was a very successful first game. We also went to Sanibel Island for a little bit and then ate dinner at Jimmy-John’s. Then we drove to Clearwater were we stayed for two nights.
7 Balls from this game
2014 Average – 7.00 balls per game
I’M GOING TO SPING TRAINING! Hey guys as you probably already know, I’m SUPER excited to attend spring training. I will see the Phillies @ Twins on Sunday, then Braves @ Phillies on Monday, and Phillies @ Braves on Tuesday. I have good seats behind the dugouts so I will hopefully snag some gamers. The first recap will probably be up the Saturday after I come home. If anyone has any tips lmk in the comments.
My dad and I decided to go see the Phillies play the Giants on the last game of the three game series. The Phillies had beaten the reigning World Series Champs 7-3 in the first game, but they were blown out 9-2 in the second game. Obviously, I didn’t think they would win. Matt Cain was taking the bump for the Giants and Cole Hamels was pitching for the Phillies. I predicted that it would be a low scoring game were one of the pitchers would allow 1 run and then it would be up to the bullpens. I was correct, but more on the later. I had received a special buy one get one offer from the Phillies by voting for them for the ASG. My dad and I found some nice seats in left field and decided to purchase them. About 15 minutes before we left, I called the BP hotline because it had been raining all day. The rain was supposed to pass through Philly by 4, which it did, but the BP hotline said there would be no BP because the field was soaked. As you can imagine, I was not very happy with this news. We still left on time and arrived at the stadium around 4:15. The Ashburn Alley gate opens at 4:35. Most stadiums don’t open that early so I’m glad that the Phillies do. It was Brad Lidge retirement night so we grabbed our Brad Lidge Prints and headed in. Once we put the Lidge Prints in my binder we went to left field to find our seats. We were the only people in the outfield except for another dad and son. A Giants pitcher was warming up with a coach near the foul pole. I couldn’t tell who the pitcher was because he didn’t have his jersey on. The quality wasn’t very good on my camera because I had to adjust a setting. If you know who it it please leave a comment. Notice the tobacco in his pocket. He finished warming up shortly after and I asked the coach for the ball. He flipped it to me where I was standing in foul territory just left off the foul pole. It was a practice ball and it also happened to be the first MLB practice ball I’d ever snagged. I was glad to snag a ball and keep my streak alive because I knew it would be tricky without BP. My dad took a picture of me with the ball. Pablo Sandoval was jogging on the warning track and he told a kid with a panda hat that he would sign autographs today. I got his attention and hoped I could get him to sign my card. Since there was no BP I walked around and took some pictures. I went into the camera area and spotted two baseballs in the batters eye. I briefly thought about using the glove trick but I decided against it for obvious reasons.
1. I probably had enough string, but the angle was really tough.
2. The sharpie would probably fall out.
3. My glove could get stuck.
4. I could get thrown out.
Here is a look at the cameras. After this, I searched through all the flowers for baseballs, but I didn’t find any as I expected. We went to Ashburn Alley for a little bit and looked at all the neat things they have there. Here is Dallas Green’s plaque. Me in front of the visitors bullpen. Then we went to the Ashburn Alley store for a little bit. Not much was going on, but I met some graphers from California who told me about their impressive collection. The rest of the stadium opened at 5:35 so I headed over to the barrier to wait. All the other gates opened on time so they let people through as soon as the all clear was given on the radio. I ran over to get a good spot for Giants autographs, but NOBODY came out for about an hour. I did get Joe Savery to sign the ball I snagged earlier. He was in the tunnel signing autographs for some people. I didn’t know it was him, but the kid next to me asked him who he was and he said Joe Savery. He only signed for 2 people. Thanks Joe. I could see Pablo Sandoval in the dugout on his phone. You might have to zoom in to see him. Panda ended up not signing autographs and the only Giant who signed was Hunter Pence. He signed for me and about 10 others. He signed my card sideways but oh well. I was still really excited. Unfortunately, I missed Brad Lidge’s first pitch because Pence was signing my card. My dad and I headed back to our seats for the start of the game. Here was my view. I had plenty of space behind me and some space to my right if a homerun was hit at me. The game was a pitching duel. Matt Cain and COle Hamels were both lights out. Cain had a perfect game through for innings until Chase Utley singled. Cole Hamels decided to get himself some runs because whenever he pitches the offense gives him NO run support. Hamels got a RBI bloop single over Sandoval’s head. The game was going very fast and it was only 8:30 at the start of the 6th inning. During the seventh inning stretch, my dad and I moved by the bullpens in center field. We stood by the bullpen railing in-between innings. I was hoping to get a ball from the Giants. The ushers told everyone to move away from the railing, but this man stayed and the Giants flipped him a ball. Oh well. Here is Papelbon warming up. I moved down and sat next to the bullpen when Papelbon came in. He promptly blew the game, allowing the Giants to score 2 runs. Antonio Bastardo had been warming up for a while and had thrown about 30 pitches. All the fans were yelling for Bastardo to come in. I kept waiting for a pitching chance but it never came. Papelbon finally got out off the inning. After the inning ended, Erik Kratz flipped me a baseball from the bullpen. He threw me the ball sitting in the water. I moved to the tunnel on the third base line because I thought it was the umpire tunnel (I had never been near their before so now I know its at the end of the visitors dugout.) Romo came in to close the game for the Giants. Delmon Young reached on an error, Cody Asche recorded his first MLB hit when Romo slipped after picking up Asche’s bunt. Mayberry was hit to load the bases with no outs. Ruiz flied out but not deep enough for the runner to tag. Laynce Nix struck out. 2 outs. Erik Kratz pinch hit for Papelbon Look at the scoreboard LOL. I have no clue why Kratz pinch hit. Charlie Manuel should’ve used Kevin Frandsen, who has come through with many pinch hits this season. Romo is a righty and Kratz and Frandsen are both righties. I don’t know what Manuel was thinking. Anyway, Kratz grounded out to end the game. What a TERRIBLE blown game. I headed down to the dugout hoping for a ball from the bullpen pitchers walking in. Matt Cain is being interviewed in the picture. Nobody threw up any balls at my end of the dugout and then security started asking people to leave. We went to the Majestic Clubhouse store and a fan joked, “Get a free Papelbon t-shirt with any purchase.” LOL. Overall, it was a fun game despite the 9th inning collapse. Here are all the things I got.
4 CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A LEAST 1 BASEBALL
2 CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH AT LEAST 2 BASEBALLS
AVERAGE 2.00 BASEBALLS PER GAME
AVERAGE 1.5 BASEBALLS PER GAME.
My dad took my cousin Jack and I to the Blue Rocks game on 7/8/13. We parked here again. This is bettter than some of the other lots because you can look for foul balls on the way in and out of the stadium. The lines for tickets were long so Jack and I headed towards the visitors bullpen while my dad purchased tickets. The visiting Frederick Keys’ bus. Check out what we found next! The garage doors were open and we discovered the indoor batting cages. Very cool. We asked the Keys bullpen players for some baseballs, they didn’t throw us any but they seemed pretty friendly. We headed back to the entrance and entered the stadium. We setup shop in the bleachers behind the metal bleacher behind the Blue Rocks dugout. When the Keys flied out to right field to end the inning, Jack and I get the best position behind the dugout. No other people were trying for the ball, because not many kids were there yet. Jorge Bonifacio flipped us the ball as he ran in. Jack somehow snuck his glove behind mine at the last second and robbed my catch. Oh well, I’m not sure that was a clean play but whatever. Shortly after, Bonifacio retrieved a foul ball and I ran towards him incase he over threw the kids in the front row. He did but only by a few rows. I probably could have snatched the ball off the ground, but it was at their end of the row so I let the kids grab it. Even if I did get the ball I probably would have given it to them, but that way I could count it in my stats. I moved to the bleachers behind the Keys dugout. As I sat there, I watched Jack lose a ball in the sun on the other side of the stadium. Despite the sun shining in his eyes he should have easily snagged it. I just sat there laughing. Right after that, a foul left the stadium and saw him sprint after it to redeem himself. My security guard friend ended up giving it to him. I snagged the third out ball from Keys second baseman (I think it was Travis Adair). This guy in his 50s with an O’s hat wasn’t happy that Adair tossed me the ball. Here is my first ball. We had a combined total of 3 balls in the first inning, which put us on pace for 27 total balls. As we went back to camp out at the top of the firstbase gate, an employee told us (but mainly Jack) that he wouldn’t let us chase after foul balls into the parking lot. Staff is starting to recognize us and watch us very closely. Jack saw a staff member point at another staff member and make the “I’m watching you” motion with his fingers. We decided to lay low near the bullpen. The staff worker followed us and stood by the railing watching us. When he left we greeted the players and sat down. After a little while, Jack moved and starting checking for ball in the picnic area. A foul ball bounce off the wall near the bullpen and rolled out onto the field. Cory Hall retrieved the ball and he flipped it to me for my second ball of the day. The Blue Rocks weren’t playing very well. But shortly after this picture, my man Dennis Raben hit a 3 run bomb to tie the game at 4. We went back to find my dad and Jack noticed 2 people signing autographs behind homeplate. They were using the radar gun and keeping the boxscore. We figured they were players with the night off and quickly determined that they were Kyle Zimmer and John Lamb. Kyle Zimmer is the Blue Rocks ace and is currently ranked 24th overall prospect by Bleacher Report and I think that he will be in the majors within the next two or three years. He struck out 13 batters in his last outing. We knew we had to get him to sign a ball so we headed to the team store. We each bought an Official Carolina League Baseball and I also bought some baseball cards, which I will show you later. John Lamb was also there. Lamb pitched for the Royals in September last year, but then he had Tommy John surgery and is rehabbing. Zimmer signed our balls on the sweetspot and inscribed 2012 1st Round Draft Pick on the side. This is my second player to sign a ball, who was drafted in the first round of an MLB Draft. The other player is Marcus Stroman with the Jays organization. Here John Lamb and I. I will have pictures with Zimmer at the end of the post. Lamb signed a mini helmet, but it didn’t really turn out. I will get him on something besides a mini helmet later, but that was all I had at the moment. Here is John Lamb and Jack. He was a really cool guy and we talked for a little bit. You can see Zimmer’s elbow on the right. After this, we headed outside the stadium to try and snag foul balls off the roof. None were hit out so we went to look for Dennis Raben’s homer from earlier. It was gone which was no surprise, but we didn’t find any BP balls either. Jack left and I went to the visitors bullpen. I asked them for a ball a few times and then just watched them through the gate for a few minutes. I didn’t have the Keys roster because Jack had it. I asked #28 to throw me a pop fly over the fence and he did. He said nice catch and I said thanks. I later found out that Zach Fowler tossed me the ball. This was my third ball, which tied my record yet again. I reentered the stadium and as soon as I walked to the 1st base gate Raben went deep with a 2 run blast. I sprinted outside and got the best jump even though there were people in the parking lot. They beat me by about 15 seconds. Ugh. Oh well. If I had come back the other way around the stadium the ball would have been mine. I walked back and Jack showed up hoping to find the ball. I still had the ball in my hand from the bullpen so I showed i to him and we did a chestbump. LOL. Then I told him it wasn’t the ball. I stood on the base of the lightpost right next to the Blue Rocks bullpen. Here was my view. Cody Fassold asked me if I snagged the homer and I said almost but no. We were talking for a while and he asked me if I found any other balls behind the fence and I told him I got one from the Keys bullpen. Fassold is now my eyes and ears for snagging baseballs outside the stadium. When I was standing on the pole, a little girl walked by and said, “Mommy that’s not safe is it?” LOL. I headed back into the stadium and found my dad. We grabbed some seats near Kyle Zimmer behind home. When I was sitting there a foul ball went out of the stadium, I went out and looked for them but I didn’t see any. Another ball was hit out (2 or 3 total in the last 5 minutes) I started walking around in the parking lot and spotted one lying in front of a car. I hurried and over and scooped it up for my 4th ball of the day. 4 BASEBALLS IS MY NEW RECORD. I walked back inside and watched from next to the Blue Rocks tunnel. The game went into the bottom of the 10th inning and the Blue Rocks loaded the bases with NO OUTS. A sac fly tied the game at 7. Now it was runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. The Blue Rocks tried a suicide squeeze but the batter couldn’t put down the bunt. The runner on third was trapped. When he ran back to third the catcher threw the ball past the third basemen and in to the outfield. The runner broke for the plate and was safe. WALKOFF WIN!!! I hung around the tunnel and slapped Mr. Celery as he ran by in a craze. I filmed the walkoff but it isn’t worth showing because the stadium lights messed up the quality. I congratulated the players as they walked through the tunnel. I was hoping for the lineup card, but tonight it wasn’t going to happen. We were handed free tickets for the next day as we left (I think it was because the weather was supposed to be terrible), but we weren’t able to use them. Kyle Zimmer was outside the player entrance and we got pictures with him. He was really nice and he signed a whole page of cards AND a ROMLB for a grapher outside. Overall, this was a great night of baseball because I broke my record, meet Kyle Zimmer and John Lamb, and watched the Blue Rocks walkoff. My next game is tomorrow night vs. Myrtle Beach. That entry will probably be up late next week. I may also be going see a Phillies game next week so stay tuned!
(4 balls at this game, notice the Practice Ball)
3.00 BALLS PER GAME
19 CAREER BASEBALLS